Chocolate Soldiers or Soldiers of the Cross?

17 04 2014

SONY DSCThis week Christians are celebrating the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These events that happened thousands of years ago still have an incredible impact on our world. Jesus died so that every person who repents of his or her sin and asks for salvation is able to receive it. Jesus conquered the power of sin and death on the cross and He invites us to live for Him.

What does it mean to live for Jesus? Some people who call themselves Christians attend church on Sunday and live the rest of the week as they please. Others sacrifice health, convenience, time, and family to serve God. (Check out Jack Popjes’ post, Why is it so Hard?)

Lately I’ve been reminded that we are in a spiritual battle, which although mostly unseen, is very real. The Apostle Paul spoke very plainly about this battle in Ephesians 6:10-19:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,” (NIV from The Bible Gateway)

We can choose to ignore the battle, but that doesn’t make it any less real. Satan is not a funny little caricature with a pitchfork; He is a fallen angel intent on destroying God’s creation and leading as many people as possible away from truth and salvation. The Bible calls him a deceiver, the Father of Lies (John 8:44), and warns that often He comes disguised as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14,15). The only way we’ll be able to stand against his attacks is by putting on God’s armor and going to war.

C.T. Studd reprimanded people for being “Chocolate Soldiers”. Here’s part of what he said:

To the Chocolate Christian the very thought of war brings a violent attack of ague, while the call to battle always finds him with the palsy. “I really cannot move,” he says. “I only wish I could, but I can sing, and here are some of my favorite lines:

“I must be carried to the skies
On a flowery bed of ease,
Let others fight to win the prize,
Or sail thro’ bloody seas.

Mark time, Christian heroes,
Never go to war;
Stop and mind the babies
Playing on the floor.

Wash and dress and feed them
Forty times a week.
Till they’re roly poly—
Puddings so to speak.

Chorus:
Round and round the nursery
Let us ambulate,
Sugar and spice and all that’s nice
Must be on our slate.”

C. T. Studd’s complete article can be found here or you can download it as a free e-book from Project Gutenberg.

God calls each of us to fulfill unique places in His army. Some people are called to intense battles against Satan and his henchmen (demons). Others are called to minister in remote areas and translate Scripture into peoples’ heart languages or mother tongues. Yet others support God’s work by skillfully and honestly running a business and donating money to missionaries or people in need. Still others of us are called to honor God in our vocation, living godly lives and impacting people where we are. All of us can enter into the battle through prayer.

At present, God has called me to be a wife, mother, music teacher, writer, and President of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. A couple weeks ago Bobbi Junior, one of our executive members, wrote a post challenging us to pray for authors. She followed that up by urging us to become Word Warriors. Yesterday, I received an e-mail from Sheila Webster, another executive member. She stated:

“I feel the first thing we need is a team of at least three people that will commit to pray each day for the conferences that are upcoming.  I feel this isn’t a nicety but a necessity to have three people designated and dedicated to this task.

We are at a crucial point in the history of writing and Christianity where there is a window of opportunity to impact on a large scale the world for Christ with our words.

All leaders in higher Christian Education in Canada are pointing out to us that a larger scale persecution of Christians in Canada will be happening starting in the recent past and will escalate.”

 

Will you join me? Are you willing to count the cost and step forward as a soldier of the cross? Also, if you’re interested in supporting the work of writers who are Christians through prayer, send me an e-mail at sun dot beam3 at yahoo dot com. I’d love to hear from you.

 

 





Wisely making use of every opportunity

14 04 2014

officejuggler_tns

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Ephesians 5:15-17

This last week I had two friends ask me the same question in different ways:

“Give me an idea how we can keep up to the latest technology – have time to write – give our kids attentions and keep the house clean.”

“Where in the world do you find time to do all that you do? God must stretch the hours so you can fit it all in.”

I smiled when I read these questions, because often I’m frustrated that I’m not able to get more done in a day. My “to do” list seems to get longer instead of shorter. However, there are some strategies that have helped me to get many things done. In this post I’ll share ideas that work for me. If you want even more, I highly recommend Tricia Goyer’s book, Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom. 

  1. Commit your time to God. Start out your day by spending time alone reading God’s Word and praying. Make sure you don’t skimp on this, even when you’re busy. (I’m preaching to myself here!) If we are aiming to serve God, we need to know what His priorities are and listen to His instruction.
  2. Recognize your limitations. None of us are able to do everything. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything,and a season for every activity under the heavens.” We all have different seasons in our lives when we are able to do less than other seasons. When my children were preschoolers, I was very limited in what I could do outside my home. Now that they are all in school, I have more time to dedicate to other pursuits.
  3. Use a notebook and planner. I find it helpful to “clear my mind” by writing down thoughts that are distracting me. (Tuesday is a birthday, so remember to . . . ) After I write things down, I try to put them into my calendar right away so that I don’t have to think about them any more until it’s time to deal with them. Jack Popjes recommends writing down 10 things every morning that you want to accomplish. Then pick the top 3 to focus on for the day. If you have time for more, keep going down the list. If you revise this list every day, you’ll succeed in accomplishing many things.
  4. Find tools that will help you. I don’t have time to read through every blog post, or find out about the all the newest technology. I do subscribe to feeds from sites like http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com and scan through for helpful information. If I find something I want to follow up on, I copy the information and make a Word document I can save on my computer to reference later. Ted Talks is one of my favourite places to listen to current thought leaders.
  5. Do a little every day. If there’s something you really want to get done, do a little every day. This can be applied to reading a book, cleaning your house, writing, or whatever else you want to accomplish. Those small steps add up. I was recently challenged by this quote: Anthony Trollope demanded of himself three thousand words each morning (250 words every fifteen minutes for three hours) before going off to his job at the postal service, which he kept for 33 years during the writing of more than two dozen books.” No excuses!
  6. Be flexible. This is a hard one for me. When something’s on my schedule, I want to get it done. However, sometimes my family has unexpected needs, or my neighbor is sick, or . . . . I need to remember that I don’t own my time. God does.

I’m still learning how to use my time wisely, and probably always will. Do you have any helpful tips to share?

 





God must Cry

11 04 2014

Wooden candlestick being crafted on a homemade lathe in Botswana, Africa

I met a man selling African carvings at the Northwood Centre in Edmonton last week. No one was around, so I stopped to chat.

“I’m curious which country these curios are from.”

“Ghana.”

“I spent my childhood years in South Africa and Botswana.”

“That’s a long way away.”

“Yes, it is. My sister and her family are living in Cameroon, which is closer.”

“Yes! Right around the corner from Ghana.”

“Are you selling these carvings for friends?”

“Yes. I go back to Ghana every year for a visit. When was the last time you were in Africa?”

“I went with my husband and daughter in 2003. We visited Victoria Falls. The day we went there were over 100 vendors trying to sell curios to buy food for their families. It made me very sad, because I knew I couldn’t buy from all of them. It’s a beautiful country, but the politics is ruining it.”

“Politics in Africa is interesting. Everyone has an idea of what should happen. And many people end up very poor, with nothing.”

“They may be poor, but they are generous. They’ll give you the shirt off their back.”

Yes, they will. There are also many greedy people. Like churches. In Ghana every second house is a church.”

“Really? Every second house?”

“Oh yes. People have figured out there’s money to be made if you have a ‘church’ and they invite people in and take their money. They even ‘hang them upside down and shake out the pockets’ to make sure they got it all.”

“God must cry when He sees that happen.”

This conversation has continued to play in my head. And I ask myself, “How do people see me and my faith? Am I living so that they see a true picture of God, or is it all distorted? Do I make God cry?”

 

 





7 Keys to Hosting a Successful Twitter Chat

5 04 2014

#ReaderWriterChat on Twitter Mondays from 12-1:00 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time

Twitter chats are online, public conversations that take place on Twitter at designated times around a unique hashtag like #ReaderWriterChat. The #ReaderWriterChat will be starting, Monday, April 7th and taking place every Monday at 12 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time. Twitter chats are a great way to learn, engage with your followers, grow your community, and network.

How do you host a successful Twitter Chat?

1. Choose a unique hashtag. There are many Twitter chats already taking place. You can check out Twitter Chats for Writers, 15 Essential Twitter Chats for Social Media Marketers or any other topic you’re interested in. If you want to host a new chat, use the search function on Twitter to make sure there are no other chats using the hashtag you are thinking of using.

2. Invite people to participate. The whole idea of a Twitter chat is to have many people participating in the conversation. Make sure you let people know about the event by posting the hashtag, day and time of the chat on the social media sites you’re on, especially Twitter. Creating a graphic like the one at the top of this post may help people pay more attention to your invitation.

3. Use TweetChat to host your chat. (You can also use it to listen in to any chat you want.) All you have to do is go to the TweetChat site, choose the hashtag you want to follow, and press “Go”. TweetChat will filter out all the other tweets and allow you to monitor the specific chat you’re hosting. While you’re using TweetChat, each tweet you add will automatically have your chat hashtag added and the page will update periodically unless you manually pause it.

4. Sign in to the twitter chat at least 15 minutes before the start time. This gives you time to work through any technical difficulties you may encounter and enables you to start the chat on time.

5. Ask questions focused on the needs of your audience. Besides having a general topic, each week’s chat usually has a specific focus. Your questions should engage your community and get them sharing information and responding to each other. Figure out how often you’re going to post questions (e.g. every 5 minutes) and then make sure you have enough questions to take you through at least 50 minutes of the chat. You’ll probably fill some time at the beginning with introductions and end the chat by providing information about the specific focus of the next chat.

6. Favorite tweets during the chat. After you post a question, look for answers that are interesting and engaging. Go ahead and respond to them or retweet them, but make sure you also favorite the ones you want to capture. That way you can easily search, capture, and share them on your blog or another platform later. Then after the chat is over, use a platform like Storify to pull the tweets into a transcript you can share. There is a WordPress plugin for Storify that allows you to embed it into a blog post.

7. Use Hashtracking, which allows you to determine the effectiveness of your chat hashtag. Hashtracking allows you to track the reach, how many impressions were made, the number of people contributing, the number of tweets, and other hashtags that were used during your chat. You can use this information when you plan your next Twitter chat, making better use of what was effective and changing what didn’t work.

I hope you’ll join us for the #ReaderWriterChat on Mondays. If you have other tips for making a chat effective, or questions you’d like me to pose during the chats, let me know. I look forward to hearing from you.

I’m putting the finishing touches on a Twitter manual for writers. If you’d like to know when it’s available for purchase, please fill out the contact form below.

 





Encouragement to Persevere

2 04 2014
Encouragement to Persevere

Encouragement to Persevere http://ruthlsnyder.com

This is week 5 in our Made to Crave Action Plan study.

Here are some great quotes from Lysa Terkeurst:

“Our goal is not a number on the scale. Our goal is to be absolutely at peace—emotionally, physicallyand spiritually.”

“Our scale can measure what our body weighs, but it can never measure our worth as a woman.”

“Between every trial and every blessing that comes from that trial is a path that we must walk. . .and the path is perseverance.”

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:2-5 NIV from http://www.biblegateway.com)

6 Summary Tips from Dr. Ski Chilton:

“Food was made to nourish us . . . when we come to manipulate it, it comes to destroy us.”

  1. Calories in; Calories out – Start your day with 16 oz of water. (This will help you reduce the number of calories you eat throughout the day by as much as 20%.)
  2. Fiber (25 grams/day for women or 30 grams/day for men) will help you feel full.
  3. Exercise to lose inches, not weight (30 minutes 5 days/week).
  4. Omega 3′s will reduce risk of heart attacks and decrease the speed of aging. The ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 in our diet should be 2:1.
  5. Eating 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables (To reap the benefits of Polyphenols)
  6. Have a positive attitude!

For more details, check out The 7 Ingredients for Healthy Weight Loss

I find the item I struggle with the most is eating 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables. Some ways I’ve found that help are:

  • Add a piece of fruit to breakfast
  • Add a salad at lunch time
  • Eat wraps instead of sandwiches, especially when you’re eating out. However, you have to be careful. Tim Horton’s snack wraps only have 190 calories, but Swiss Chalet wraps have 710 calories!
  • Have an apple or banana for a snack
  • Have a salad and two or three other vegetables with your dinner entree

What tips do you have to share?





What does it mean to be a Christian writer?

31 03 2014

Yellow Question mark and red exclamation mark

During a recent interview I was asked: “Comment on what it means to be a ‘Christian writer’”

How would you answer this question?

Here’s my response:
A Christian writer is a person who communicates from a worldview centred on God as He is presented in the Bible. The key components of being a Christian writer, from my perspective, are excellence, integrity, and compassion.

  • No matter what topic or genre I write about, my writing should be of the highest quality. I should do my best to ensure my writing is accurate, well-researched, and free of errors (grammar and spelling).
  • As a Christian writer, my personal life should reflect what I communicate in print. I should consistently spend time reading the Bible, asking the Holy Spirit to highlight areas in my life that are not pleasing to God. Yes, I’m human and I will fail. However, I need to confess my sins, ask for forgiveness and continue to grow in my walk with God.
  • Christian writers should also “speak the truth in love.” Jesus said that people would know we are His disciples by our love.

Here are the principles I currently use as I write:

  1. Christians are the body of Christ. We each have unique gifts, functions, and callings (I Corinthians 12).  I need to know what God has called me to and be faithful to that calling.
  2. My goal should always be to write with excellence (using correct grammar, captivating descriptions, etc.) for God’s glory (Colossians 3:23). I am called to be God’s representative in how I live and write (2 Corinthians 5:19-21).
  3. I must give an answer to God for all that I do and say, including what I write (Matthew 12:35-37; Colossians 3:23). I need to be obedient to God. It is not my responsibility to judge others (Matthew 7:1).

Christian writers are called to write for varied audiences in diverse genres. We live in a broken world and are involved in a spiritual battle which is mostly unseen, but very real. Some stories may simply be for enjoyment, but we may also be asked to write about difficult, messy subjects like child abuse, demon possession, corrupt leaders, and the sex trade. No matter what we write, our aim should always be to bring honour and glory to God.

It has come to my attention that some writers who are Christians do not associate themselves with the term “Christian writer”. There are several reasons for this.

  • Some writers (who are Christians) write stories or articles that are only printed in the mainstream. Some say that these written works would not be accepted in the mainstream if people knew the authors were Christians.
  • The question has been raised: Do you call yourself a Christian mechanic or Christian plumber or Christian librarian? If we don’t tag the word Christian onto other vocational choices, why do we tag it onto our writing?
  • Some writers (who are Christians) have faced severe criticism from other Christians because of the topics or genre they choose. These writers find it less divisive to just call themselves writers.

Did I miss anything? I look forward to your comments!





7 Spring Cleaning Tips for Writers

27 03 2014

SpringCleaning_tnsIt’s officially springtime on the calendar. Our thoughts often turn to spring-cleaning our houses – getting rid of the extra layers of dust and grime that have accumulated over the long winter. Perhaps it’s time to think about doing some spring-cleaning in our writing lives too. Here are seven areas I’m thinking about:

  1. Walk with God – If you’re a writer who’s a Christian, this should always be your first priority. Are you spending time with God every day? Are you bringing your goals and plans to Him for approval OR are you coming to Him and asking Him to show you the plans He has for your writing? Do you talk to God throughout each day? It’s easy for our lives to get so clogged with the grime of busyness that we don’t cultivate a close walk with God.
  2. windowclean_tnsMission Statement – Do you have a mission statement for your writing? If not, think about what you want to accomplish with your writing. If you do have a mission statement, when was the last time you revised it? Does it still fit? Perhaps it only needs a few tweaks, or maybe you need to totally rewrite it. Mission Statements help us see more clearly where we’re headed. Work at getting the dust and streaks off your writing window so that your vision is clear.
  3. Writing Goals – I usually review my writing goals around New Year’s. A yearly review is great, but perhaps it’s time to take a fresh look at your goals and update them as well. Do your goals and mission statement fit each other? Perhaps you overloaded yourself. Now’s the time to get rid of excess weight and refine your goals before you burn out.
  4. Professional Development – Toning and honing those writing muscles is always a good idea. Evaluate your skills and figure out what you want to improve. Assess your time and finances as well. Then figure out what professional development you will take part in this year: writing conferences, online courses, workshops, webinars, etc. If you need help figuring out which ones to tackle, ask your writing friends for their recommendations.
  5. Work Area – Clutter robs us of energy. Does your work area need a makeover? If so, schedule a desk clean up into your calendar. Think about what frustrates you and how you can make improvements. Which resource books do you need close at hand while you write? What pictures or posters will help motivate you when you’re struggling with a deadline? Do you need a place to file paper copies of articles, research notes, character sketches, etc.? Or will a digital version work for you? What distracts you while you’re writing? Clear away as many of those distractions as possible.
  6. Computer – Are you happy with the filing system you’re using on your computer? Are your documents easy to locate? Maybe you need to reorganize and categorize. What about your inbox? Is it full to overflowing? If you’re like me, you receive hundreds of e-mails every day. Schedule time into your calendar to sort through your e-mails. Save important information into a Word Document, delete all the junk mail, empty the trash, and respond to e-mails that have been sitting for a while.
  7. Personal Relationships – Unresolved issues in our personal relationships will clog our writing and destroy our health. In your quiet time, ask God to show you the relationships that need a tune-up. Ephesians 4:28-32 tells us to throw out the garbage in our lives:

“Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

So how about it? Are you ready to get started with the spring cleaning?

 








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