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Pray all the time

Jesus Prayed

For strength in the midst of the pressures of His ministry (Mark 1:32-35; Luke 5:15-16).

In times of decision (Luke 6:12-13).

With thankfulness (Mark 6:41).

In times of deep joy (Luke 10:21-22).

With faith (John 11:41-42).

In times of deep anguish (Mark 11:33-42).

For others (Luke 22:31-32; John 17:1-26).

The Early Christians Prayed

To strengthen and support one another in their confusion and uncertainty as to what lay ahead (Acts 1:12-15).

As part of the fellowship they shared with one another – their growth as Christians (Acts 2:42-47).

In the face of danger, praying with faith and expectation (Acts 4:23-31).

In times of decision (Acts 13:1-3).

In the face of persecution choosing to pray rather than worry (Acts 16:22-25).

For one another (Ephesians 3:13-21; Philippians 1:4).

Prayer in Our Lives Today

When

Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Why and for what

To praise God (Psalm 63:3).

For our needs (Ephesians 6:18).

For help in overcoming worries, for peace (Psalm 55:22; Philippians 4:6; 1 Peter 5:7).

For guidance and direction (James 1:5-8).

For help in daily tasks (Colossians 2:6; Psalm 37:5).

For freedom from guilt, forgiveness (1 John 1:9).

For others (Ephesians 6:18; James 5:16; 1 Timothy 2:1).

For those in government (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

For our nation (2 Chronicles 7:14).

How

In assurance (1 John 5:14-15).

Expectantly (Matthew 7:7-8; James 1:5-8).

In faith (John 14:13-14; 15:7, 16).

Free from anger and resentment (1 Timothy 2:8).

Together (Matthew 18:20; Colossians 3:16; Psalm 34:3).

Persistently (Colossians 4:2; Luke 11:5-10).

In line with God’s will (Ephesians 6:18; 1 John 5:14-15).

With thankfulness (Philippians 4:6; Colossians 2:7 4:2).

Promises

And when you draw close to God,
God will draw close to you.

James 4:8 TLB

He is close to all who call on him sincerely.
Psalm 145:18 TLB

Compiled by Marlene Bagnull
First published in Pulpit Helps, August 1980
Reprinted in Advance, January 1981


This message is NOT political.

Yesterday I listened to the House of Representatives impeach Donald Trump. The impassioned speeches from both sides clearly portrayed how divided America is. Tragically, we are no longer the United States of America.

Again, this is NOT a political message. As I said in my previous blog, “We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT).

Only the Lord knows how this will end, but this I do know. He is watching, and He is calling America to turn back to Him before it is too late.

In his keynote address at the 2015 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, my friend Pastor Michael Gantt said:

“The sad fact for America is that
our sin has made God our enemy.
Because of the rejection of God and His Word
and because we have exchanged
the God of Life for the gods of death 
and perversion,
America is already under
the Hand of God’s judgment. 

“If there is no national confession of sin
and if we cannot find a heart of repentance,
a Holy God will complete his judgment;
either by the complete annihilation
or subjugation of what was once a great
and godly people or by rendering it
completely irrelevant on the world stage.”

Since 2015 Michael has keynoted every year at the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference and since 2016 at the Colorado conference. I had planned for him to keynote at both conferences in 2020 until I had to cancel them because of the pandemic.

I often post a link to Michael’s blogs because I am convinced he is hearing from the Lord. His latest blog, “Fully Exposed,” is a must-read if you love the Lord and our nation.

As Christ-followers we must repent of the ways we have failed to be “salt and light” and have been silent when we needed to “write and speak His answer.” But lest we add fuel to the fire, we must determine to follow biblical guidelines in addressing the issues dividing our nation.

  1. Pray for discernment and wisdom.
    If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you, for he is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask him; he will not resent it (James 1:5 TLB).

  2. Search the Scriptures—and do not prooftext.
    The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right (2 Timothy 3:16 TLB).

  3. Ask the Lord to reveal and forgive your blind spots.
    But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults (Psalm 19:12 NIV).
     
  4. Overcome your anger.
    Bridle your anger, trash your wrath, cool your pipes—it only makes things worse (Psalm 37:8 MSG).

  5. Determine to be part of the answer—not the problem.
    Stop being mean, bad-tempered, and angry. Quarreling, harsh words, and dislike of others should have no place in your lives (Ephesians 4:31 TLB).

  6. Love don’t hate.
    Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst (Luke 6:27 MSG).

  7. Choose your words carefully and prayerfully.
    Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them (Ephesans 4:29 NLT).

  8. Strive for peace and pursue it.
    Try to live in peace with everyone; work hard at it (Psalm 34:14 TLB).

  9. Seek the mind and heart of Christ.  WWJD – What would Jesus do?
    And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father (Colossians 3:17 NLT).

  10. Trust the Lord. He is not surprised or unable to work good from all things.
    And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28 NIV).

    Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all (Proverbs 3:5-7 MSG).        

    Compiled by Marlene Bagnull, 1/9/21

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies,
but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world,
against mighty powers in this dark world,
and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12 NLT

Yesterday was a day we must never forget. Watching a mob break into the Capitol and congresswomen cowering on the gallery floor was chilling and heartbreaking. Just as disturbing was the red “Jesus” flag.

Yes, many evangelical Christians, including me, voted Republican. But I did not vote so much for the man at the top of the ticket as for the platform. I voted to protect the lives of unborn babies, to preserve religious freedom, to support Israel . . .

I cannot fathom any true Christian would endorse what happened yesterday in our nation’s Capitol. That is NOT how Christians act – NOT how Americans act.

I do NOT believe the thugs who assaulted the Capitol were Christians. If any were, they were deceived and used by the “evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world.”

Just as Nero blamed the Christians for burning Rome, I fear Christians will be blamed for what happened yesterday. I fear there will be more violence as the evil one stirs up more and more anger to divide us and destroy our nation.

I’m reminded of Jesus’ prayer before He went to the cross.

I pray that they will all be one . . .
so that the world will believe you sent me.
John 17:21 NLT

Father, please help us to ask, “What would Jesus do? What would Jesus say?” Give us the courage to live, speak, and write Your answer.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere.
James 3:17 TLB

Continue to love one another,
for love comes from God.
Anyone who loves is a child of God
and knows God.

1 John 4:7 NLT

Click here for “Biblical Guidelines for Addressing Controversial Issues.”

A new year is dawning. There is no bright sun breaking through the dense clouds here in the eastern United States. The same as Christmas Eve, it’s gloomy and raining. If only it was colder so the precip would change to snow – bright white snow transforming the barren landscape into a winter wonderland.

But I can’t control the weather or all that has happened in 2020 – my husband’s cancer, the coronavirus, the political and racial unrest that is tearing our nation apart . . .

Will 2021 bring a return to “normal”? I doubt it! Yet this I know, God is with us. He has not and will not abandon me or you. But we must choose to trust – my word for 2021.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

As I look to the new year ahead, I am more convinced than ever of the need to “write His answer.” I remain committed to do all I can to encourage and equip you to “write about a God who is real, who is reachable, and who changes lives.” The ministry of the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference will continue, if not in person, than we’ll meet virtually.

What about you? If you attended one of the conferences in the past, did you make a commitment to “write His answer”? Have you kept that commitment, or do you need to renew it or make a new commitment? In faith will you seek His will and enabling to “begin the new year write”?

Have the “deadly Ds” of disappointments, doubts, and discouragement derailed your writing dreams? It’s time to dig deeper into God’s Word and read (or re-read) my Bible study for writers. Click here for excerpts. Order at a discount from https://writehisanswer.com/bookstore. Also available as an eBook on Amazon.

I just finished rereading your book Write His Answer for the third time and wanted you to know how much I appreciate your message. It continues to amaze me how I would read a chapter on a topic just when I needed it. God is good! And He is using you to encourage writers over and over again. Thank you for being His messenger. Jeanie Wise, Ohio

The hot-off-the-press 2021 Christian Writers Market Guide is a must-have resource for finding a place to sell what you are writing or locating an agent, an editor, a designer, a podcast, or a writing coach. This 482 page resource sells for $29.99, but through the Write His Answer Bookstore I am glad to make it available for $24.99 Your purchase is needed and appeciated. It will help with the ministry expenses that have continued even though the conferences did not take place in 2020.

Have you finished your book but have not (yet) been able to find a publisher? “For such a time as this” I believe God has provided the technology to go indie. While there are numerous companies you can pay to publish your book, I encourage you to build a team and do as much of the process as possible yourself. Everyone needs an editor, but you can learn how to typeset your manuscript and even design your cover or use a service such as Fiverr or 99 Designs. My “Grow Your Writing Ministry” seminar will talk you through the steps. And here are just a few helpful books available at the Write His Answer Bookstore.

Have you worked hard to get your book in print only to discover it’s even harder to sell it? Or maybe you’ve been approaching agents and publishers with your yet-to-be published book but you lack the “platform” for them to be interested. How can you build your platform and still find time to write? Is it even possible? Here are just a few of the books I recommend that you’ll find at the Write His Answer Bookstore.

Perhaps your writing project seems too big, too overwhelming, and you’re feeling stuck. Writing your testimony or a personal experience story is a good place to begin, and the audio workshops that accompany the book below provide “incredible storytelling secrets so that the stories of your life can make a lasting impact.” – Linda Evans Shepherd, best selling author and founder of AWSA (Advanced Writers & Speakers Association).

“Few have Marlene’s experience to teach writers and give them the tools they need to Write His Answer and to do it so well. These are practical items even experienced writers need reminding of, such as: have a clear focus, stay close to the Lord, search for truth, reflect (and journal) on your life experiences, stay humble, know your audiences—all of this to remind us that we, as believers in the Lord Jesus, are called to write His answer to those with so many questions. Written conversationally, this book invites you to take part in the work with a ready pen. ” Eva Marie Everson – Bestselling author; President, Word Weavers Int’l.


We’re likely to face continued challenges in the coming year. Jesus never promised it would be easy to follow Him, but He has promised always to be with us. Father, help us to keep our eyes on Jesus, to trust You, and to “write Your answer.”

God is our refuge and strength,
a tested help in times of trouble.
And so we need not fear . . .
Psalm 46:1-2 TLB

To the tune:
“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

It’s been a long and fearsome year
The covid pandemic has brought.
So many lives have been cut short,
Despite the battle they have fought.

We grieve, we mourn, we question why.
Oh God, have You abandoned us?
Yet in the darkness shines a light.
We must look up and choose to trust.

Immanuel, God is with us.
He came and He will come again,
And while we wait we’re not alone.
His Spirit with us will remain.

Strength for each day He has promised.
Upon His Word we can depend.
He knows, He understands our plight.
He is our Saviour and our friend.

Click here for a PDF if this is too small to read.

Gifts that Matter

Christmas is just two weeks away. I’m just now beginning to shop for gifts. No trekking through the stores this year. Our daughter, who is a pediatrician, has had me and my husband on lockdown since February because we’re high risk for the coronavirus.

Deb has been seeing children with covid every day in her practice. Even though she sees those who have covid symptoms outdoors rather than in her office, a father who was not wearing a mask probably infected her the Monday after Thanksgiving. The weather was miserable that day with rain and tornado warnings. I always thought “neither rain nor snow” was the motto of the United States Postal Service – NOT what would be required of my daughter in her medical practice.

We were concerned that I might have been exposed because my granddaughter was here the next day. She wore two masks and I wore mine, but we were indoors and closer than six feet. So my husband and I started wearing a mask in our home and I slept in the spare bedroom. (Except for Philadelphia, our county has the highest number of covid cases and deaths in the area.)

Thank the Lord I have not gotten covid and Deb is recovering. But Christmas will be very different this year. We won’t be with any of our kids and grandkids. There will be no family dinner or opening of gifts around the tree.

Still, as I consider what gifts to purchase for family and friends, I’m grateful for all the gifts I’ve received this year despite the pandemic. Covid has not claimed the life of anyone I’m close to. Although financially things have been challenging, we have not needed to wait in long lines to get free food.

We are facing other challenges. My husband has recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer. While it’s in the early stage, his Gleason score is high so he will begin hormone treatments next Monday. In addition, we’re weighing the cancer risk vs. covid exposure to beginning radiation now five days a week for seven to eight weeks.

So, in the midst of this very strange year what gifts does Father want me to give to loved ones? And what about you? Have you finished your Christmas shopping? Let me encourage you to consider the following:

A special gift because of the pandemic is worshipping with Marty Goetz Tuesday and Friday nights, 7 p.m. Central. His “House of Worship” with his daughter, Misha, and wife, Jenny, has drawn me into the Lord’s presence and deeply ministered to me. Join us on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube. And for your gift-giving, visit www.MartyGoetz.com. You’ll find CDs and DVDs at special prices that Jenny will ship to you quickly. And as a gift to yourself, click here for a free video of their powerful latest release, “For Such a Time as This.”

God Is Big enough” says my friend Nick Harrison. “If you’re praying for a miracle, you can expect God to answer and provide you with real hope even in your darkest hours.” Nick is a literary agent and a frequent faculty member at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. He had planned to be at this year’s Philly conference until the pandemic caused it to be cancelled. Available on Amazon.

Written by my dear friend, Barbie Haley, who says, “In this crazy 2020 Christmas season here’s a gift that will bring peace and joy to those you love. These Christmas Carol Devotions remind us of the greatest gift ever – the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ! Send the gift of LIFE – the only REAL answer to the trials and suffering in today’s world.” Available on Amazon.

Yes, Father, thank You for the precious gift of Your Son. Help us to keep our eyes on Him this Christmas and every day of the new year.

His life is the light that shines through the darkness—
and the darkness can never extinguish it.

John 1:5 TLB

Thanksgiving has ushered in
the Christmas season.
I am sobered
not so much by the calories
I have consumed
as by the contrasts I see.

There is plenty and want,
joy and grief,
love and hatred,
hope and despair,
the real and the artificial.

Father, help me to see You
and to share Your love.
Move me to give
as Your Son gave
when He willingly went
from the manger to the cross.

Let there be a difference in me
that is visible and credible –
that points others to Jesus Christ,
Our Savior and only hope.

The reality of children going hungry – even right here in America – as I eat more than I should (and more than I need), deeply concerns me. And then there is the grim forecast of global famines of ‘biblical proportions’ [that] will be caused by coronavirus pandemic.

About 40 years ago I read What Do You Say to a Hungry World? by Stan Mooneyham* who was then president of World Vision. His words were convicting and compelled me to organize the “Hands Reaching Out” Community Hunger Bazaar. Over 100 women from 17 churches created handmade crafts to put food into the hands of women whose hands were empty. We raised almost $4,000 in the handcrafts we sold at the day-long bazaar.

Grace and Weight | Write His Answer MinistryToday, rather than teaching women how to make sand paintings, wreaths, and Moravian stars in classes in homes and churches, my hands are now better put to use editing and publishing books for others as well as writing my own books. My latest, Grace and Weight – Encouragement for Dieters, is a book I began 37 years ago. (Click here for the God-story and an excerpt.) Karen Linamen Bouchard, author of Just Hand Over the Chocolate and No One Will Get Hurt, says:

“Perfect for gift-giving, solo reading, or reading with friends, this book delivers inspiration and grace for the journey. Any book dealing with weight can be a tricky item to give to someone, right? But Marlene’s writing is so authentic, heartwarming, and encouraging that anyone who receives it will consider it a blessing.”    

Grace and Weight came off press this week and is available on Amazon. Set up a SmileAmazon account and 0.5% of your eligible purchases will go to the charity of your choice. Or order directly from me, and I will donate 10% of the purchase price to Becky Spencer’s Grand Staff Ministries to the children of e-Swatina (formerly Swaziland). The need, as Becky shares each year at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference**, is so great.

“Children in Swaziland, Africa, are as vulnerable as ever.  Burying parents who have died with AIDS, being driven from homesteads of relatives who don’t want them, foraging for food in the forests, stealing food from street vendors, and worst of all, finding themselves victims of deceived individuals who believe that AIDS can be cured by relations with a virgin.” 

As you shop for Christmas gifts, please check out the Write His Answer bookstore. Today I added over 60 writing how-to books plus you’ll finds books I edited, Ampelos Press titles I published, and lots of other books that I recommend – over 200 in all. I will gladly donate 10% of the price of any titles you purchase now through Christmas to Becky’s Grand Staff Ministries. Together we can make a difference!

“Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you?
Or thirsty and give you something to drink?”
Jesus will say, “I tell you the truth,
when you did it to one of the least of these
my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”

Matthew 25:37, 40 (NLT)

*Stan is home with the Lord and his book is out of print, but you can find it at BookFinder4U.com.

**I am hopeful that the May 12-15, 2021, Colorado Christian Writers Conference will be held in person at the YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park Center with the faculty and program that was in place for 2020. Visit the website at https://colorado.WriteHisAnswer.com. If the coronavirus continues to make it unsafe to meet, the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference will be virtual. I do not yet have a date for the Greater Philly conference, but the faculty is partially planned (see https://philadelphia.WriteHisAnswer.com).

Thankful

Every morning tell him,
“Thank you for your kindness,”
and every evening rejoice
in all his faithfulness.

Psalm 92:2 TLB

None of us could have imagined last Thanksgiving Day that the new year would bring a pandemic that would turn our lives upside down. Some have lost loved ones. Others have been infected, have survived, but are still struggling to fully recover. Many have lost their job or a business they have worked so hard to establish. Hunger is a reality for tens of thousands along with the threat of losing their home. And we all are being cautioned to avoid gathering with family and friends.

A 17-pound turkey is defrosting in my kitchen sink, but it will only be my husband and I at the table this Thanksgiving. My daughter, a physician, has had us on lockdown since February because Paul and I are both high risk.

On our 57th wedding anniversary November 9 we learned that Paul has prostrate cancer. To determine whether or not it has spread, he had a CT and Bone Scan two days ago – just one day before the hospital went on lockdown. We will get the results this coming Monday morning.

Yes, I am worried, but this I KNOW – God is with us. And He is with you in whatever you are facing. I’m praying we will all turn our eyes upon Jesus not just on Thanksgiving Day but every morning and evening and throughout the day. May He bless you and keep you safe.

Growing up, I had strict parents who enforced the “do not talk about religion or politics” rule. A Google search reveals that was considered to be etiquette back then:

“A rule of etiquette–in business, at the dinner table, at the barbershop and elsewhere—is ‘never talk about religion or politics.’ These subjects are highly contentious and usually result in heated argument instead of general agreement. ‘Never discuss religion or politics with those who hold opinions opposite to yours’” has been cited in print since at least 1840. ‘Do not discuss politics or religion in general company’ is from 1879.

“The saying was further popularized by the Peanuts comic strip in 1961. The character Linus said, ‘There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people . . . religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.’” 

I didn’t have the courage to defy my father. He weighed over 300 pounds. It was not unusual for him to slap me across the face and lock me in the bedroom for hours. He is no longer living, but I still have to fight the “rule” that was engrained in me and that is anything but what Scripture commands me to do.

Matthew 10:32 in The Message reads: “Stand up for me against world opinion and I’ll stand up for you before my Father in heaven.”

Sadly, I still need to battle the fear that seeks to muzzle me from having the courage of my convictions to say what I believe especially when I know there are some, even in my own family, who will disagree with me.

But I choose NOT to be a closet Christian. I cannot be silent when I believe what Jesus said: “I am the Way—yes, and the Truth and the Life. No one can get to the Father except by means of me” (John 14:6 TLB).

And I cannot be silent after prayerfully viewing the platforms of the Democrat and Republican party in light of God’s Word.

Of course, I do not appreciate everything President Trump says and tweets, but I do believe “for such a time as this” God has raised him up to lead our nation because he is pro-life, pro-family, pro-Israel, and has taken a stand for religious liberty. And his vice-presidential running mate, who is a heartbeat away from the presidency, is a committed Christian who I deeply respect.

There are others who can say it much better than me:

Joel Rosenberg – I used to be a “Never Trumper.” Not anymore. 20 reasons I strongly support the President’s re-election.

And Joel Rosenberg again – For Evangelicals struggling whether to vote at all, or how they could vote for Trump with all his flaws, here are two columns worth reading.

Family Policy Alliance – In 3 Videos: Kamala Harris

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former White House Press Secretary – I highly recommend her book, Speaking for Myself. And click here for an interview on ABC News.

Mike Huckabee – I think his morning and evening newsletters at www.MikeHuckabee.com are must reading. He says:

“Each party has staked out diametrically opposed positions on pretty much everything. This is not like any election ever.

“President Trump is admittedly abrasive, combative, at times vain and vulgar. He became President having never held or even run for any political office. He has been disruptive to the political establishment and the genteel ways of Washington. He acted without regard to whose feelings he stepped on. He’s been like the doctor whose bedside manner was gruff, impatient, and even rude, but it’s hard to objectively deny the positive results….

“President Trump lowered your taxes and put money in your pocket–an estimated $6500 for the average family before the Chinese Virus hit. He stood up to China, stopped the nutty Iran deal, recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, passed criminal justice reform that brought mercy and equity to the over-incarceration of black people, funded the largest amount ever for Historically Black Colleges, secured our borders, appointed great justices to the Supreme Court, protected religious liberty and has made the most efforts to protect unborn babies.”

Click here and scroll down to read more of what Huckabee says under “Election Day Is Coming.” And click here for this morning’s post, “MEDIA SHAMELESS IN ‘LOCKDOWN’ ON BIDEN STORY.”

Where the parties stand – Click here for Billy Graham’s Decision Magazine’s 2020 election guide.

Lest you think I only read and listen to those whose views I support, I daily read Time magazine’s online newsletter and I check the news not just on Fox and CBN but also on CNN. And Monday through Friday evening I watch Norah O’Donnell, the CBS Evening News anchor. I seek to weigh what I read and hear against the Truth of God’s Word.

Again, I know some of you will disagree with me, but I hope you will at least prayerfully consider what I have shared. And for those who agree, I’m praying you will have the courage of your convictions to break the “do not talk about religion and politics” rule and share what I’ve posted.

May God bless you all, and may God bless America.