Bringing Hope, Healing, and Life

On a recent Sunday, my church hosted an international worker (that’s the new fancy term for missionary) from Kosovo. This missionary talked about how she was developing oral Bible stories as part of her ministry outreach.

Books Bring Hope, Healing & Life

I was struck by her talk of “oral stories” since Kosovo is a literate nation. I asked her about this. Her response was that while the people of Kosovo can read, many don’t take the time to do so and are more willing to engage with an auditory or visual story. Interestingly, half the population of Kosovo is under the age of 29.

This trend away from reading for young people is not just in the United States. It appears to happening in other countries also. It saddens me. I believe that reading has great benefits and that books bring hope, healing, and life to people in a way that movies and audio stories cannot touch.

Wise King Solomon said, “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.” (Proverbs 4:20-22) King Solomon is referring to written words when he states “Let them not depart from thine eyes.”

A friend of mine enlightened me about a program that the United States government operated for soldiers in World War II. Keeping up morale for American soldiers was a national concern. The Library Section of the U.S. War Department partnered with over 70 book companies to create and print pocket sized paperback books. Over 123 million copies of a total of 1,322 books were printed and distributed to service members for free. These included Westerns, mysteries, comics, humor, biographies, anthologies of poetry, and classic and contemporary fiction.

A Tree Grows in BrooklynOne of the books selected for the program was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Smith received a flood of mail from soldiers telling her how her book had helped them get through the dark days and horrors of war. One GI expressed in his letter to Smith after reading her book, “I can’t explain the emotional reaction that took place in this dead heart of mine. . . . I only know that it happened. A surge of confidence has swept through me and I feel that maybe a fellow has a fighting chance in this world after all.

Let’s now forget that books are powerful. They bring hope, healing, and renewed life to people. As an author, you are ministering to your readers. Don’t get discouraged. Someone today is in need of a touch from your words.

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Photo courtesy of Nacho Juárez.

Counting Blessings

We live in a world filled with suffering and struggles. As residents in this world, we often lose sight of the fact that our stay here is temporary and that, as Christians, we have an afterlife that is free of suffering and struggle to look forward to. This Thanksgiving I am especially thankful that I can look forward to a better life once this one has passed.

Thanksgiving is a day for us to count our blessings. Counting our blessings keeps us mindful of how good God is. I have always been fond of the words in this hymn.

Count Your Blessing

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Does Your Passion Need a New Spark?

Most Christians don’t start writing and publishing to get rich. Many Christian authors and publishers start publishing because they feel a calling or nudge from God.

Following God’s calling or nudging is a rewarding venture. However, sometimes are emotions get in the way. Discouragement, disappointment, and just sheer lack of energy can weigh us down and cause us to flounder and consider quitting.

passion needing spark

Often, when God calls us to do something, we burn with passion at the start the journey. Yet, over time, we can slowly lose this passion in the midst of roadblocks and the overwhelming number of tasks required. If you find that your candle is burning less brightly, that your passion has dimmed, you are not alone.

Consider the prophet Elijah. He was a man full of passion. He confronted the wicked King Ahab and told him that it would not rain on the land for three and a half years. Elijah prayed passionately and his prayers were answered. Yet, after those long grueling years, Elijah lost his passion. From Elijah’s story in I Kings 19, I see three activities he engaged in when his passion was spent.

1. Take Time to Rest

The first thing Elijah does is rest. He is tired. He is worn out. He gets alone and lies down under a broom tree. Here he sleeps for quite a while.

If you are weary, worn out, or burned out from the spiritual battle you have been engaging in, then I encourage you to rest. Build rest into your regular routine. We can’t burn the candle at both ends and expect to have passion for our calling. We have physical bodies with physical limitations. We must take proper care of our bodies so we can continue fighting the good fight.

2. Get Regular Nourishment

Elijah received regular nourishment from God. First at the Brook Cherith, and then at the Widow’s home. But, when he has lost his passion and is worn out, God sends an angel to prepare food for him to eat. God knows that Elijah requires nourishment to continue.

We too, need regular nourishment, not just physical food for our bodies, but spiritual nourishment and intellectual nourishment. If you are writing and publishing books for God, you should be feasting regularly on God’s word and other teachings that help you improve your craft. You can never run dry if you take in more nourishment than you put out.

3. Seek God

When Elijah has lost his passion. When he is worn out and discouraged, he seeks God by traveling to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God. Mount Horeb is another name for Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai is where God spoke to Moses and gave the children of Israel the 10 commandments. It is a Holy Place.

When we seek God, he rewards us. God meets Elijah at Mount Horeb and speaks with him. God both adjusts Elijah’s expectations and gives him new marching orders. If you are flagging in passion, seek God. He will either adjust your expectations and renew your calling, or he may give you new marching orders.

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Photo courtesy of JefferyTurner.

What Is Your Next Action?

I recently met a poet who wants to become published. This lady is trusting that God will guide her steps on her quest to become a published poet. She has tried a number of avenues and most have been dead ends.

She told me that, not too long ago, she decided to share one of her poems at a local open mic night. This was not a Christian event; it was a general market affair. This author writes Christian prose. She took the opportunity afforded her and spoke one of her poems at the event.

At the end of the evening, a gentleman approached her. He asked if she had ever recorded any of her poems. The poet answered that she had not. This gentleman stated that he thought her lyrics were powerful and should be recorded. He then invited her to use the studio in the basement of his house to records some poems.

Later the poet asked the man with the studio if he was a regular at open mic night. His response was that the night she spoke had been the first and only time he had attended the event.

The way God works is often mysterious and awesome. One thing we do know is that often, before God works, he requires us to act. We have to step out in faith and do something. Then God shows up. He provides or performs a miracle, or simply points us down the next path he wants us to take.

The process starts with an action on our part. Sadly, we often don’t act because we are scared. We fear failure, or embarrassment, or even not doing what God wants.

A Member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) recently took a giant leap with her publishing business. She told me that she often questions whether this is what she should be doing or if it is what God wants her to be doing. I assured her that anytime we are doing something with the intent of bringing Glory to God, our actions are pleasing to God.

Just as this poet had to move out of her comfort zone and perform her poetry in public for a door to open, so too, you must act. What action do you need to take?

Is fear holding you back? If so, ponder these lyrics from Zach Williams’ song Fear is a Liar. The chorus states:

Fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause fear he is a liar

Don’t let fear keep you from experiencing the blessings that God has for you and your books.

I would love to hear your testimony. If you have stepped out in faith, taken action, and God has met you, please share in the comments section.

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Follow These Four Steps to Success

Success is defined as “The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” Before you can have “success” you have to define what it is for you. What goal do you want to accomplish?

Once you have set your goal, then follow these four steps to success—accomplishing that goal.

1. Set Specific Goals

A goal is something you are aiming for. If you want to publish a book or sell 1,000 copies of your book, this is your goal. To reach this goal, you need actionable steps consisting of smaller goals to move you toward your larger goal.

If you want to publish a book, your first actionable step or goal is to start writing. You can do this by making the goal that you will write 1,000 words a day for your book. If you want to sell 1,000 or more copies of your book, then your first actionable step goal might be to start blogging once a week or to develop a media kit or speaker kit.

Write your goals down. Tell them to other people. Doing this makes your goals more real and keeps you more accountable. A gentleman I know told me that he made a vow to God at a retreat that he would hold a block party in his neighborhood. The purpose was to get to know his neighbors so that he could start sharing the Gospel with these people. For years, he did not go anything about this vow. Then a new neighbor moved in next door and he told her that he wanted to host a block party. She got excited about the idea and together they hosted a block party. That block party ended up changing the life of a family in his neighborhood. However, it wasn’t until this gentleman began talking about his goal to others that he acted upon it and made it happen.

2. Ditch the Distractions

Once you make a plan with specific goals, then you have to set aside distractions so that you can focus on the tasks you have to do to reach your goal. Cell phones are a huge distraction. Studies show that, depending on age, people check their phone between 35 to 75 times each day. Do what you need to minimize distractions so you can focus. You can turn your phone off. You won’t miss much. I promise. Try it.

3. Be Persistent

Perseverance is required for success. Ninety percent of success is showing up on a regular basis. Show up day after day, do the job, and add value to people’s lives. Obstacles and distractions will come your way, but you can’t let them stop you from your goals. If you get off track, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back in the ring. Persistence is required. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.

4. Trust God to Help You

If you are doing what God has called you to do, if what you are doing brings Glory to God, and if your purpose is to advance the Kingdom of God, then you can trust that God will help you. He will provide what you need to accomplish your goal. According to Peter, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and Godliness through our knowledge of Him who has called us to his excellence and glory.

What’s your goal? Write it down. Then follow these four steps to help you have success—the accomplishment of your goal.

Do you have a goal you need to tell others so you start working on it? You can share it with me in the comments below.

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