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Guest post
Stacy Lee Flury

Here we are, another year gone by and the August 8-10 Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference is now upon us. So much has transpired since last year. My book was finally written and in the editing stages. I felt excited about what God was doing. I was inspired and encouraged. Then my life changed.

By the end of summer last year, my husband and I had to declare bankruptcy on our business and house. We had to pack up sixty years of generational memories and items within a month and move them into an apartment rental that accepted two dogs and two cats. Very hard to do.

Moving day included an unexpected snowstorm as well as a 26-foot truck hitting one of our cars and ripping the whole front bumper off. By the time settlement came for the sale of the house and what little we received from it, I was left stressed and wanting to give up on everything–including my book.

My heart to write was crushed. I had no energy, will, or passion to continue. I was, in fact, overwhelmed with boxes from the move; animals in high anxiety; and a daughter who struggled with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and was very pregnant. I don’t know who cried more in those difficult and tumultuous days.

Thinking our nightmare was over, we were informed that we were going to be sued over a payout sheet that was incorrect by the mortgage company. Mind you, we had already settled and been left with basically nothing from the sale/bankruptcy of our house.

My job was far away, and we had one car between three people. Then we had an infestation of ants in our new apartment, a broken tooth with no dental insurance, and so much more. Mind you, all the time I was going through this, God was using every emotion that I was feeling.

You see, I wrote a devotional book called Turn the Tide of Emotional Turbulence: Devotions for Parents with Teens in Crisis. Never did I realize that those same emotions I traveled through as a parent would be highlighted once again in my life.  

Sometimes we want to give up, but the Lord really wants us to give in. When I finally did, the ants went moving along, our kitties and doggies were calmer, I did less crying and more praying, and we were blessed with a donated car. We will most likely get more money back from the mortgage company, and the cost of publishing my book was paid for with not one penny out of my pocket. To top it all off, my chapters are more fine-tuned to what God wanted to say.

So, if you are in a place in which you want to throw in the towel in your writing, throw yourself on the floor instead and ask God what He wants to do. He is not finished with His story in you. He could be just adding another chapter.

I want to encourage you to register for the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. I guarantee you will find many other aspiring writers at the conference who also have encountered thoughts of giving up. Yet, they will be there, taking a step of faith that God will see them through their writing trials.

But as for you, be strong and do not give up,
for your work will be rewarded.

2 Chronicles 15:7 NIV

Stacy Lee Flury blogs at Anchor of Promise, a support and education blog for parents with hurting and troubled teens.

Thank You, Father, for holding back the clouds so that the faculty and conferees at this year’s Colorado Christian Writers Conference didn’t miss viewing Your magnificent handiwork. Thank You for the elk and mule deer that roamed the YMCA’s grounds and Rocky Mountain National Park. And thank You that the folks in one of the cars that went up to the park on Sunday saw moose. You know I’m disappointed. I’ve been looking for them for 30 years! Instead, I saw a turkey. 🙁

But now, Father, we’ve arrived home from the mountaintop we’ve been on, no doubt, to mountains of work. Problems we faced before we left for CCWC likely have not disappeared as the mountain peaks did on Sunday morning. Yet, as Beatrice Bruno would say, “But God . . . “

For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. . . . Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow,  or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by
our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us.
Romans 8:38-39 TLB

But thank You, Father, that even when we don’t see or feel You near, we can KNOW that you are still with us just as the mountains, although hidden from my view, were still there.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God, my Father . . .

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood.
Ephesians 6:11-12 NIV

The warfare surrounding the May 15-18 Colorado Christian Writers Conference is intense. Without a doubt, I know God is going to meet us on the mountain and empower us to “write His answer.” I also know the evil one views this conference (and the August 8-10 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference) as a real threat to his agenda.

I am so grateful for CCWC’s army of prayer warriors and the 10 pages of powerful prayers from our team that our registrar, Barb Haley, compiled. They were emailed to over 100 pray-ers. Click here if you would like a copy.

It’s not too late to register for CCWC, and I’ll waive the “procrastinator’s fee” if you mention this blog. Walk-ins are welcome. The 16-page brochure for the August 8-10 Philly conference is off press. Email mbagnull@aol.com to receive one (or more) if you are not on our mailing list.

As my good friend, Charles Patricoff, says, “Our nation is no longer sliding down the slippery slope. We are in a free fall.” He is teaching a workshop at CCWC on “America at the Crossroads.”

Friends, this is time to fully enlist in God’s army of writers and to “put on the armor.” I feel such a sense of urgency. “We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work” (John 9:4 NLT).

Please make time to read the “Put on the Armor” chapter below from my book, Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers, in print for 28 years.

My hands tied behind my back, I was dragged before a tribunal of cloaked men. They accused me of subversion against the government because of my faith in Jesus Christ. I could not deny the charges, for spread across the table were books and articles I had written.

The congregation’s singing brought me back to reality. Had I dozed off or seen a vision? I’ll never know for sure. But I do know the Lord spoke to me. “Do you realize, Child,” I felt Him say, “that the things you are writing may one day convict you? Are you willing to follow Me despite the cost?”

It was a sobering moment. I didn’t ask Him to give me a closer look at the titles of my published works. And I didn’t answer quickly or feel very brave when I finally said, “Yes, Lord.”

That was a number of years ago. Culturally, things were bad and getting worse; but Christians generally were seen as part of the answer—not the problem. We were not the frequent brunt of jokes on TV sitcoms and talk shows. Media coverage was not openly biased. Gays were not militant. People did not worry about being politically correct. The New Age was beginning to infiltrate some churches, but few discerned its danger.

Things are changing—rapidly. We can no longer ignore all the signs that point to the return of Christ. They challenge us to be actively involved in spreading the Gospel while the doors remain open to produce and distribute Christian literature. But we do need to count the cost. In a very real way, writing for the Lord puts us on the front lines where “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” (Eph. 6:12 NIV). To go into battle without the “full armor of God” (Eph. 6:11 NIV) is dangerous.

“This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels,” The Message says. “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued” (Eph. 6:12-13). Having been defeated too often, I’m learning to pray on the armor every morning that I might “resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over . . . still be standing up” (Eph. 6:13 TLB).

“Lord,” I pray, “help me to gird myself with your belt of truth’” (Eph. 6:14 NIV). “Give me discernment that I might immediately recognize the enemy’s lies and half-truths. Help me to refuse to receive or believe them.” When a manuscript is returned and those insistent inner whispers threaten to defeat me, I buckle the belt of God’s truth more tightly around me. I affirm, often out loud, that the return of one manuscript (or dozens of manuscripts) does not mean I should quit writing. I know God has called me to write, but that is not a guarantee of accepted manuscripts. I must keep developing the gifts of writing and marketing and persevere.

The breastplate of righteousness (Eph. 6:14 NIV) protects my most vulnerable area—my heart, the home of my feelings and emotions. It is so easy for me to be wounded by others, to allow myself to be influenced by fear of what they might say or think. I need to be constantly vigilant against the temptation to compromise because “everyone else is doing it.” I cannot pad my writing expenses on my Schedule C. I cannot be careless attributing quotes or use copyrighted material without permission. Instead, I must handle every aspect of the business side of my writing in a way that honors the Lord. My first priority must be to bring glory to Him and not to myself. “Lord,” I pray, “help me today to consistently choose to do what is right in Your eyes.”

Putting on the shoes of readiness to share the Gospel (Eph. 6:15) protects me from the temptation to get sidetracked. There are often other things I can do and write that would require less time and effort, but if I am to be a soldier of the King, I must take my orders from Him. I need to follow His marching orders instead of asking Him to bless mine. When I walk in obedience, I find that my feet do not become bruised and weary from going places He never intended me to go. I also find that when I say yes to what He wants me to do, rather than yes to what others tell me I should do or what I feel they expect me to do, I am filled with peace instead of tension.

I prayerfully pick up the shield of faith to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16 NIV). I ask God to make me mighty in spirit—to help me to walk by faith, not by sight. I also ask Him to help me not to lower my shield by nurturing doubts. A soldier can be fatally wounded if he lowers his shield for only a moment.

The helmet of salvation (Eph. 6:17 NIV) protects my thought life. Each morning I thank God that I do not have to be bound by old habits and thinking  patterns. I ask Him to continue His work of transforming me by renewing my mind (Rom. 12:2) and giving me the “thoughts and mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16 TLB).

Finally, there is the one offensive piece of armor. It is with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:17 NIV) that we go forth into battle to confront the evil of our day. Doing so doesn’t mean we are supposed to hit our readers over the head with the Bible. Instead, I pray that God’s Word will so permeate my life that the principles of Scripture will be evident in all I do, say, and write.

“The enemy is within the gates,” Chuck Colson wrote in Against the Night (Servant Publications, 1989, p. 19). “I believe that we do face a crisis in Western culture, and that it presents the greatest threat to civilization since the barbarians invaded Rome” (p. 23). But God commands us to trust Him. Even when facing the spirit of the antichrist, we need not fear because “the one who is in [us] is greater than the one who is in the world” (l John 4:4 NIV). We need to “pray all the time” (Eph. 6:18 TLB) and to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Eph. 6:10 NIV) knowing that Jesus has already won the battle.

Responding to God’s Call to Write

Study Ephesians 6:10-18 in several translations or paraphrases. Ask the Lord to show you what each piece of the armor can mean in your life. List those insights below and begin to daily pray on the armor.

Belt of truth

Breastplate of righteousness

Shoes of readiness

Shield of faith

Helmet of salvation

Sword of the Spirit


Procrastination is a sin;
it brings me endless sorrow.
I know I should stop doing it.
I think I’ll start tomorrow.

Have you been procrastinating about registering for the May 13-18 Colorado Christian Writers Conference?

While we welcome walk-ins throughout the conference, the price increases May 9. I call it the “procrastinator’s fee.” It’s not a lot – only $15. But really, wouldn’t you rather spend $15 on a book from our huge book table.

Today (well yesterday) I spent over 10 hours packing books from the too-large inventory I have on hand. They must ship today to arrive in time. FedEx is scheduled to pick them up between 9 and 3 (they are too heavy for my husband to lug to a FedEx location), but I’m getting an error message at the FedEx site that is preventing me from printing the labels. Seriously? It’s not like I haven’t been doing this for years. Father, please save me and my laptop from glitches.

In faith I’m also placing a large order with Ingram/Spring Arbor. Faith? Yes! Some of the titles are not returnable, but I’m so excited about the wealth of new books I found – books we need to read if we are to become the best possible writers and marketers of the message God has entrusted to us.

And I’m excited about this year’s conference – and the one in Philly August 8-10. Online registration opened April 15 for Philly, and yesterday morning I uploaded our 16-page brochure to the printer. Thank You, Father!

But to be honest, I’m also battling the “deadly D’s” of disappointment and discouragement. I’m reminded of the parable Jesus told of the man who prepared a feast and sent out many invitations. “When everything was ready, he sent his servant around to notify the guests that it was time for them to arrive. But they all began making excuses” (Luke 14:17-18 TLB).

I have no doubt that the evil one is throwing huge obstacles in the way of many who need to come. I also do not doubt that our God can enable you to push through what seems to be impossible. He can make a way where there seems to be no way.

Thanks to the generosity of my dear friend, Cec Murphey, there are still partial scholarships available in addition to time payments. And from personal experience I can assure you that it is not too difficult for God to work out the logistics of time off work, child care, and whatever else is needed.

“For such a time as this” God is raising up an army to “write His answer.”

Now you have every grace and blessing;

every spiritual gift and power for doing his will are yours

during this time of waiting for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:7 TLB

He is coming! And that day may be sooner than we expect. It is likely to be preceded by intense persecution. Will you be ready, and will you allow Him to use your pen to help prepare other Christians to stand in His strength?

Please pray earnestly about joining us on the mountain May 15-18, or for just a day or two if that is how He leads you. Lodging is still available. And if you need financial help, you just need to ask.

Don’t miss out! If you’re still undecided about attending this year’s Colorado Christian Writers Conference, here’s one more reason to join us:

*Special Bonus! Everyone attending either of Dick Bruso’s workshops (descriptions shown below) will be given a complimentary 30-minute, post-conference, one-on-one phone consultation with Dick to help further their writing and speaking endeavors.

“Create a Best-Seller Brand” (May 17th, 2:15 to 3:15 p.m.)

Come learn how to develop a unique and enduring brand that will powerfully capture the marketplace by applying the “umbrella branding” approach to every aspect of your writing career. You will discover how you can bring absolute focus, clarity and life to both your work and your brand.

 “Fast-Track Your Speaking Outreach” (May, 17th, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.)

Accelerate your writing career by tapping into the ideal professional speaking organizations, resources and tools. Learn the inside secrets every Christian writer needs to know about the world of public speaking and building a solid and professional platform.

Guest blog
Angela Ruth Strong

I attended the Colorado Christian Writers Conference for the first time ten years ago. I’d just sold my debut novel, and not only did I think I was going to become the next Susan May Warren, but Susan even told me at the conference, “I can see you being where I’m at in five years.”

Obviously, that didn’t happen, but God had other reasons for wanting me at the conference. He wanted to meet with me personally and prepare me for my own character arc.

It started with interest from Waterbrook. An editor requested my manuscript, and I went back to my room after meeting with her, planning to simply lie on my bunk and smile at the ceiling. But my Bible was on the bunk. And I hadn’t read my Bible yet that day.

I opened it up to the passage where David says, “God, you are my all.” In my prayer journal I wrote, “God, you are my all.” Then I wondered if that was really true. I thought about how David also said, “Test me.” I cried and wrote, “Test me.”

When I told my husband about that experience over the phone, he later said he knew what my test was going to be. See, he’d started an affair while I was gone. I came home to complete insanity, and he eventually left.

I don’t believe God was like, “You want a test, Angela? I’ll give you a test.” He was saying, “You know I’m your all. You know it.” When I lost everything, God was still there. And He was enough.

Though I quit writing romance at that time, God romanced me. He provided in miraculous ways. He loved me through strangers. He restored my soul.

Last year, I received a scholarship to attend again on the basis of using my personal story in my writing. I pitched Prayers of an Abandoned Wife to an editor, and she responded with, “There are five women I want to give your book to right now.” I didn’t go lie on my bed this time. I found a seat in the sunshine, overlooking the mountains, and I reveled in the beauty of God’s love.

My joy wasn’t about wanting to be Susan May Warren anymore. It was about an opportunity to share God’s love with a very hurting world.

I’m excited to return and see what else God has for me, and I’m also excited to be there for you. Ten years after I first attended Write His Answer, I’m going to be teaching. We’ll be talking about “The Power of Story” and what we can learn from having God as the author of our own lives.

Whether this year will be your first time attending the conference or your tenth, there’s a mountaintop experience waiting. I hope to see you there.


Angela Ruth Strong sold her first Christian romance novel in 2009 then quit writing romance when her husband left her. Ten years later, God has shown her the true meaning of love, and there’s nothing else she’d rather write about. Her books have since earned TOP PICK in Romantic Times, been optioned for film, won the Cascade Award, and been Amazon best-sellers. She also writes nonfiction for SpiritLed Woman. To help aspiring authors, she started IDAhope Writers where she lives in Idaho, and she teaches as an expert online at WRITE THAT BOOK.

They had believed he was the Messiah.
Leaving everything behind,
they followed him.
The Kingdom of God
had seemed so real, so near.
He healed the sick,
fed the hungry,
calmed the storm at sea –
and in their hearts.

His words had given them life
and hope and purpose.
But now he was dead.
How could they have been
so mistaken, so misled?

Hiding in the room
where he had broken the bread
and passed the cup,
hopelessness and despair
closed in around them.

They laughed,
a hard and bitter laugh,
when Mary said she had seen him.
People didn’t come back to life
after dying on a cross.

Suddenly,
at the sound of the familiar voice,
the darkness shattered!
“Peace be with you.”

Jesus stood before them
not dead – but alive!
Light filled the room
and the darkness in their hearts.

Everything he had taught them was true.
Death could not hold him.
He is alive now and forevermore.
Christ is risen.
He is risen, indeed!

Marlene Bagnull

Choices

Arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane,
You could have called on heaven’s armies;
yet You allowed them to take You captive.

Falsely accused in a mockery of a trial,
You could have denied who You were;
yet You convicted Yourself.

Physically and emotionally abused,
You could have struck down Your tormenters;
yet You remained silent and turned the other cheek.

On the way to the cross,
You could have thought only of Yourself;
yet You spoke with compassion to Jerusalem’s daughters.

Nailed to the cross and spit upon by the crowd,
You could have cursed Your enemies;
instead You prayed, “Father, forgive them.”

Taunted to “come down from the cross!”
You could have done exactly that;
yet You chose to suffer and die
that I might have the choice to live in You.

Marlene Bagnull


I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy;

I’m singing your song, High God.

Psalm 9:2 MSG

I missed my self-imposed April 15 deadline to open online registration for the August 8-10 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. I did meet the April 15 deadline to request an extension to file my taxes. Actually, drum roll please, I was TWO days early!

Yesterday I began updating GPCWC’s website. Although I still need to add bios for our 41 faculty members, you can view the list of who is coming by clicking here.

Descriptions of our 7 continuing sessions are also online (click here). I’m excited that Father showed me a way to make them longer this year. (They are now 5 hours instead of 3.5 hours.)

I still need to add descriptions for our 4 learning labs and 42 workshops, but you can see the great choices you will have by clicking on Schedule2019.

We’re now offering a full Thursday afternoon program with EIGHT choices each hour, so please plan on starting your GPCWC 2019 experience by arriving Thursday a little before 1:00 pm. You’ll find there is a substantial savings in the registration fee if you come all three days.

I hope to have our 16-page brochure online in the next 10 days and in your hands, if we have your USPS address, by early May. Please email me at mbagnull@aol.com if I do not have your address.

Online registration will open tonight, April 16! Remember, the earlier you register, the better opportunity you have to get your top choices for your one-on-one appointments. If you register for all three days, you are eligible for FOUR appointments. And (another drum roll please), if you are among the first 50 to register for all three days, you will receive a free FIFTH appointment!

Unexplainable computer glitches that even the Geek Squad have not been able to resolve have been part of planning this year’s Philly and Colorado conference. Rather than give up (what I’m sure the evil one wants me to do) I choose to view the glitches as evidence that the conferences are a threat to the kingdom of darkness. Along with the apostle Paul I affirm,


In all these things

we are more than conquerors

through him who loved us.

Romans 8:37 (NIV)

Tomorrow we remember how Jesus rode into Jerusalem as the crowds cheered, “Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Yet less than a week later they shouted “Crucify him!”

Jesus entering Jerusalem

None of this caught Jesus by surprise. Indeed, we’re told in Hebrews 12:2 (TLB) that “He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards.”

Have you stopped to consider that you are the reason for His joy?

Years ago my pastor’s wife told me that if I was the only person on this earth, Jesus still would have come and died just for me.

We know that He is coming again but that He tarries because He does not want even one to be lost. And so He is calling you, He is calling me, to “Get His Word Out.”

An outline of this message – really a Bible study that I’ve given several times as a keynote – is available online. I hope you’ll download it and make time to prayerfully consider the passages.

This week as you focus on Jesus’ passion, ask Him how He wants to use you to share His love with those who do not yet know He loved them enough to go to the cross.

blessed

“Blessed is He
who comes in the name of the Lord!”
The crowd cheered and sang praises.
They waved palm branches
and threw their cloaks before Him.
But Jesus was solemn as He traveled that road –
that road to the cross.

As God incarnate He knew all that was to come.
He saw not just His own death on the cross,
but the persecution of His followers
and the destruction of Jerusalem.
He saw nation rising against nation –
the madness of yet-to-be-born rulers.
And Jesus wept.

He would be wounded and bruised for our sins,
chastised that we might have peace,
lashed that we might be healed;
yet few would accept His gift of life.
The darkness of evil would continue to reign,
but the light of His love
would not be extinguished.

Entrusted to us,
His light will grow brighter.
A cloud of witnesses are cheering us on,
to daily take up our own cross
and follow Him closely.
Blessed is He who is coming – again!

Marlene Bagnull