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Archive for the ‘God’s promises’ Category

Confused
and
unhappy!

Today we are dog-sitting our son and daughter-in-law’s two dogs. Bailey, the brown dog, climbed in my lap to get away from our Labradoodle, Emmy, who is clearly confused and unhappy that Bailey has taken the place that she thinks belongs to her. For about 15 minutes Emmy barked and Bailey howled. I laughed so hard I started crying.

Yesterday I felt like Emmy. A missing “i” in “Mennonite” in an ad for The Christian Communicator caused me 2.5 hours of frustration and real tears. For years I’ve used Quark, a desktop publishing program similar to InDesign. Although I’ve never mastered it (someone has said that takes a full year), I have gotten comfortable with it. But my 2015 version crashed, and yesterday I was forced to use the 2018 “upgrade.” I purchased it a year ago, but found the learning curve so daunting I gave up.

Computers are supposed to make life easier. Right? Wrong! Although I’m more computer savvy than most of my friends, I am still challenged every day to understand technology that keeps getting more complicated. And it’s amazing how dumb my “smart” phone can make me feel.

I confess I do not “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4 NIV) or “celebrate God all day, every day” as The Message paraphrases this Scripture. I try. But honestly, I probably do more whining. Father, why does everything have to be so difficult? Why didn’t You make me smarter or more patient?*

(Oops! I definitely do not want to pray for patience!) But seriously, why can’t I be like the elk I enjoy so much at CCWC? I don’t think they whine about grass becoming brown or sparse. Or about the cold and snow. You provide for them the same as for the birds of the air.

Father, thank You for being with us especially when we feel confused and overwhelmed. Thank You that we can know the joy of the Lord as our strength. Help us, help me, to embrace my need to be dependent on You knowing that I can trust Your promise:

I can do everything God asks me to
with the help of Christ
who gives me the strength and power.

Philippians 4:13 TLB

* Sigh. I can’t see anything in the code next to the elk box that increased the font size. Can a HTML or WordPress expert help?

Despite ongoing computer challenges, plans are underway for the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. Be watching for an email before Christmas with the latest news.

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It was one of those mornings! Multi-tasking (as always) I cracked two eggs into a pre-heated pan. I don’t waste time watching eggs fry or pots of water boil. Instead, I reached for my tray of pills, removed the lid, and somehow knocked it (the very full tray, not the lid) on the floor.

Knowing that our two-year-old Labradoodle (she has yet to grow up) eats everything but her monthly heartworm pill, my husband and I tried to get her to go outside. She thought it would be more fun to play catch-me-if-you-can. As usual, I had to give her a treat to get her to do what I want. (Yes, I know I’m rewarding her for bad behavior.)

Paul got two garden kneelers from the garage. I grabbed a flashlight and managed to get down on the kitchen floor. (My arthritic knees are bone-on-bone and one has been swollen for a week.)

The pills, of course, had rolled everywhere. I remembered the pick-up stix game I played as a kid, but this wasn’t a game and it wasn’t fun!

Paul is now vacumning the floor and then will give it a much needed scrubbing. (It was scary to see at eye level just how dirty my floor is.)

So . . . “give thanks in everything”?
Yes, “for this is the will of God
in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
1 Thess. 5:18 KJV

Now, I don’t think it is His will that bad things happen. And I don’t think He expects me to thank Him for my carelessness or the dumb and often sinful things I or others do. But in the midst of frustrating, annoying, and even awful circumstances I can choose to thank Him for being with me and for His promise to work all things together for my good.

Even when we are too weak to have any faith left,
he remains faithful to us and will help us.

2 Tim. 2:13 TLB

Now dumping a bunch of pills on the floor isn’t a biggee when it comes to my faith. But Father did use it to teach me, yet again, to give thanks.

  • Thank You, Father, for the availability of medicine and the wise new primary care doctor You have led us to.

  • Thank You that this new doctor discontinued three medications that were obviously causing my husband to be confused. (After almost a year of health issues since Paul fell and broke three bones September 30, 2019, I am so thankful He is much better.)

  • Thank You for my wonderful husband and our 56th wedding anniversary we celebrated November 9.

  • Thank You for calling and enabling me to direct the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference and for the progress I’m making planning next year’s conferences. (Colorado is May 13-16; I don’t yet have a date for Philly. I’ve asked for July 22-25 or August 5-8.)

  • YES, thank You for every thing!
And yes, I’m grateful for our strong-willed puppy!

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This morning I’m seeing more clouds than sunshine. The majestic Rocky Mountains are only a distant memory. Instead, all I’m seeing is mountains of work!

I’m overwhelmed and frustrated. Checking 11 voice mail messages, more than half of them were scam calls from Social Security.

For over an hour I tried to reach the doctor’s office that was supposed to be open. When I finally got through, I had to listen to 8 menu options – none of which addressed my need to talk to a real live person to get the script for the blood work my husband is scheduled for this morning.

Last night we couldn’t get in the house. Well, that’s not totally true. I got in, left my keys in the door, set my cell phone down, and went to get a flashlight so Paul could see to get in. I pulled the storm door shut when I left so our labradoodle wouldn’t get out.

Several minutes later (Paul is walking so slowly), we couldn’t open the storm door. We banged and pulled and tried prying it open with a knife. I admit I was close to panic. A neighbor across the street frequently comes to our rescue, but his front steps are very steep and there is no railing. Our daughter lives two blocks away. As much as my knees have been hurting (the gel injections aren’t working this time), I honestly didn’t think I could walk that far. Duh! I just realized I could have driven over there. No, double duh. I couldn’t drive the car. My keys were in the door!

Earlier in the day, Paul fell in the driveway. He tripped over the kitchen and office trash basket. He called for me for ten minutes before I heard him. He’s sore today but walking – slowly – so he must not have injured the knee cap he broke September 30.

And then there’s the frustration I’m feeling over my STUPIDITY. When I took Paul to the neurologist on Tuesday, I dropped him curbside. I spied a close by handicap parking space and headed for it, completely forgetting and not seeing the 10-12″ high concrete and dirt island.

I’ve never had an accident or ticket in 59 years of driving, but I really hurt my new leased car that I’ve only had for two weeks. I ripped off the shield under the engine and learned yesterday that I damaged three other things on the underbelly of my car. The Honda serviceman is guessing $1100 – $1500 for repairs, but if body work is involved it could be much more. They are going to take a closer look next Wednesday (so glad I can still drive it) to get a better idea of the cost so I can decide whether or not to file an insurance claim. If I do, the question is how much our insurance will go up.

All the above, and so much more on top of the exhaustion I’m still feeling from the conference, is incredibly frustrating. But I have a choice. I can choose to keep my eyes on Jesus and to trust Him and even praise Him for all these irritations. Yes, He can use them to grow the fruit of His Spirit in my life and to prove to me again that He is faithful.

And He can fill me with His peace that passes understanding. I have a choice, and so do you!

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Over 50 years ago I felt called to “Write His Answer.” Today, much of what I still feel called to write is on the backburner as I invest my time and energy in encouraging and equipping others to

write about a God who is real,
who is reachable,
and who changes lives.

But sometimes, like this afternoon, I find myself leafing through the binders of the 1,000 plus manuscripts I have sold to Christian periodicals. The piece below grabbed my attention. It was published 36 years ago in Christian Single. And it was what I needed to re-read, to re-pray, today. Perhaps you, too? Click here for a more readable PDF.

If you know God has called you to “write His answer” but you’re feeling empty and doubting your ability, I want to encourage you to seek the Lord and His “power for living.” He does speak to us when we are listening.

And please pray about registering for the August 8-10 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. Because Father does not want anyone to be turned away because of financial need, partial scholarships and/or time payments are available. Click here for the scholarship application.

If your schedule can’t make room for a conference, why not order some CDs from the May Colorado Christian Writers Conference? There is a link to the order form on the home page of the conference website. We can get them to you in several days if you order soon before we’re in the home stretch for the Philly conference.

Finally, remembering the stern admonishment of my writing papa, Lee Roddy, who is now with the Lord, I need to encourage you to read my book, Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers. You’ll find excerpts and a link to order it by clicking here. Father has used it in Ephesians 3:20 ways throughout the 27 years it has been in print.

Thank You, Father, for Your power that is available to us simply for the asking. Help us to “write Your answer.”

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Freedom!

As we celebrate our nation’s independence, I want to encourage you to not overlook the freedom that Jesus Christ offers us, that He purchased on the Cross.

Jesus on cross

Jesus promises (John 8:32 TLB) 
“And you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free”
from . . .

the consequences of sin – Isaiah 1:16-19; Romans 3:24; 1 John 1:9

the power of sin – Romans 7:15—8:2; 1 John 5:3-4

worry about financial problems – Psalm 34:8-9; Matthew 6:31-34; Philippians 4:19

limitations that negate – Isaiah 40:29-31; 2 Corinthians 19:8-10; Ephesians 3:16,20; Philippians 4:13

aloneness – Psalm 9:10; 54:4; 139:1-5; Revelation 3:20

discouragement – Psalm 9:10; 42:11; 138:3; Romans 10:11; Galatians 6:9; Hebrews 11:1

fear – Psalm 34:4; 91; 118:6-7; Isaiah 43:1-5

wondering why – Isaiah 30:20; Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7; 4:8-11

wanting to give up – Psalm 27:14; 42:11; Habakkuk 2:3; John 15:5; Romans 8:35-37; 2 Corinthians 8:10-12; Colossians 1:29

feeling inadequate – Psalm 34:9; 81:10; 1 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Philippians 4:13; 2 Timothy 1:6-8

feeling separated from God – Psalm 139:7; 145:18; Romans 8:38-39; James 4:8-10

weakness – Psalm 18:29,32; Isaiah 40:29-31; Habakkuk 3:19

feeling unloved – John 3:16; Ephesians 3:18-19

doubts – John 14:12-14; 16:24; 17:19

inner turmoil and confusion – Psalm 37:11; Isaiah 26:3-4; John 14:27; 16:33; Philippians 4:6-7

impatience – 2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 5:22-23; Hebrews 10:36

uncertainty – Psalm 32:8; 37:34; 119:105; Proverbs 3:5-6; Habakkuk 2:3;
John 8:12; Galatians 5:16; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; James 1:5-8

feeling useless and untalented – Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Ephesians 4:7,11-12; 1 Peter 4:10-11

the power of the enemy – Ephesians 6:10-17; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Peter 5:8-10

sorrow – Psalm 43:5; Isaiah 25:8; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7; Revelation 7:17; 21:4

not knowing how to pray – Romans 8:26

being down on ourselves – John 17:19; Romans 5:1-2; Philippians 1:6; 3:12-14; Jude 25

feeling like our future is hopeless – Psalm 32:8; 73:22-24; Proverbs 23:18; Isaiah 55:8-9; Jeremiah 29:11-13

feeling overwhelmed by problems and burdens – Psalm 55:22; 68:19; 146:8; Matthew 11:29-30; Romans 5:3-5; 8:31-32; 1 Peter 1:6-7; 5:7

being intimidated by temptations – 1 Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16

fear of failure – 1 Chronicles 28:20; Psalm 37:5; Proverbs 16:3

defeat – Psalm 118:14; 1 Corinthians 15:57-58; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:8-9

depression – Psalm 118:24; 139:6-12; Isaiah 46:4

hesitancy to give – Proverbs 3:9-10; 28:27; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Philippians 2:4; 1 Peter 5:2

rejection – John 6:37; Jeremiah 33:25

unfulfilled yearnings – Psalm 37:4; 107:9; 145:19; Ecclesiastes 5:7; Isaiah 44:3; Matthew 7:7; John 6:35; 7:37-39; 15:5; 16:24; Revelation 22:17

ignorance – Psalm 16:7; 1 Corinthians 2:16; Colossians 2:3; 3:16

fear of sharing our faith – Matthew 10:19-20; Luke 21:14-15; Acts 1:8; 2 Timothy 1:8

never-ending frustrations, struggles, plodding – Joshua 22:5; Psalm 37:34; Romans 12:11; 2 Corinthians 6:4-10

being overwhelmed when our faith is weak – 2 Timothy 2:13

anything else that would put us in bondage – 1 Peter 5:7

Compiled by Marlene Bagnull

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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 . . .

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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

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Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him to help you do it,
and he will.

Psalm 37:5 TLB

Almost fifty years ago I worked as a secretary in the editorial offices of the American Baptist Board of Education and Publication. Little did I know then that Father had me in training to direct not one but two Christian writers’ conferences.

I loved the work of getting Sunday school curriculum in print – even the never-ending and ever-pressing deadlines. Truthfully, I found them exciting. Yes, everyone thought I was strange!

Underwood tpewriter
I learned to type on a manual typewriter. Well, not one this old although my grandpa did have one in the basement that I loved to play with when I was little. It wasn’t until high school, however, that I learned the qwerky keyboard.

 

SelectricOn my first job, I was thrilled when my electric typewriter was replaced with an IBM Selectric. No more key jams as my fingers danced over the keyboard at well over 100 WPM and that little ball spun.

By the time our second child was born in 1972, I left the job I loved in the editorial offices to be a stay-at-home mom. My typewriter proudly sat in a corner of the dining room and was used to supplement our income through typing jobs and occasional small checks for manuscripts I began submitting to various periodicals.

Possible And Impossible Keys Show Optimism And Positivity

I resisted getting my first computer – a PC Jr. In fact, I cried when I took it out of the box, convinced that I was not be smart enough to learn how to use it.

Well there are still days I cry, still days I know I’m not smart enough. I’m intimidated by the learning curve of new software and never would have believed I could use a program called Quark to produce complex 16-page conference brochures.

 

Indeed, all the things I do today are beyond me. Without God, they really are impossible! But the 16-page brochure for the May 15-18 Colorado Christian Writers Conference that is now at the printer is proof that He makes possible what would be impossible without Him.

If you’re on our mailing list, you will receive the brochure in about 10 days. Email me your USPS address if I don’t have it. But why wait? You can view the brochure online by clicking here.

What about you? Are you learning to commit your work to Him and to trust Him to help you do it? He really will.

Page 16 coverPage 1 Dir msg and markets

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manger cross
When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion. ~ Philippians 2:7-8 MSG

 

You chose to come
even though You knew
You’d be born in a smelly stable
and forced to flee to Egypt.

Returning home to Nazareth,
You knew people still whispered
that You had been conceived
before your mother and father married.

“Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
people asked as You began Your ministry.
Even though huge crowds followed You
You knew their hearts were fickle.

Of the twelve men who were closest to You
You knew one would betray You, another deny You.
All would flee when You were arrested,
and only John would watch you die on a cross.

Yes, You knew it would not be easy.
You knew Satan would taunt You–
would tell You we are not worth
the pain You’d endure.
But You love us so much
You chose to come!

Marlene Bagnull, Christmas 2018

 

This is how much God loved the world:
He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why:
so that no one need be destroyed;
by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.
God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son
merely to point an accusing finger,
telling the world how bad it was.
He came to help, to put the world right again.  
John 3:16-17 MSG

If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? ~ Romans 8:32 MSG

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mtn climb 3 pexels-photo-681794

I mean writers’ conference or retreat or . . .

Unlike the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, there were no mountains at the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. There certainly were scary mountains to climb for conferees who met for the first time with an agent or editor or received a critique of their work from a professional author.

And there were holy mountains to climb for many who I trust were aware of God’s presence and His call to “write His answer” more keenly than they had ever experienced. Indeed, as we worshiped and were stirred by powerful keynotes we were on the mountaintop. Commitments were made in the closing session that, if kept, God will use to change lives today and for eternity.

But oh how hard it is to come down from the mountain. The encouragement we received at the conference may be sorely lacking from our family and circle of friends. Meanwhile, the evil one is likely to already be working hard to convince us that we’re not good enough writers. We’re not smart enough. We’re too old or too young. We don’t have strong computer skills, and we definitely do not have the needed “platform.”

This morning as I was sharing with my friends from Colorado, Chris and Roy Richards and Eric Sprinkle, I was reminded of an experience I had that could have ended my writing and speaking before it even got started.

I’d felt a call to Christian ministry since I was a teenager. My parents scoffed when I talked about going to college. “What makes you think that you’re better than us – that you’re college material?” They were not willing to offer any financial support, but in faith I applied to my first choice school, Wheaton College. I was not accepted.

I tried applying a few other places and was finally accepted at a Bible college down south. I had met a sailor at the USO and had fallen in love with him. But then he broke up with me. Of course, I was devastated.

The time to leave for college fast approached, but my thoughts (and prayers) were more focused on Paul than on a getting a college degree.

“God,” I prayed, “please show me what You want me to do. I’m willing to go to college although I don’t know how I can pay for it. But if you bring Paul back into my life, I’ll know that it’s Your will that I marry him instead.”

November 9 Paul and I will celebrate 56 years of marriage. Except for when I said yes to the Lord, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made and one I’ve never regretted.

But oh how I struggled for years with feeling inadequate and even ashamed that I was only a high school graduate. The call to ministry was still there, but I believed the lie that my lack of education disqualified me from serving the Lord.

God knew and He didn’t let go of me. A couple from a church we had visited reached out to us – actually pursued us. We finally joined the church but stayed on the fringes until a new pastor and his wife drew me into leadership roles I was convinced I could not handle.

I became president of the Koinonia Sunday School class of highly educated men and women including two lawyers, two seminary professors, and a doctor. Talk about being over my head!

One of the events I planned was an evening where we made montages to help us share what we believed God was calling us to do.

I can still hear the deafening silence as I held up my montage and told them I believed God was calling me to a nationwide speaking ministry. No one said anything. Not one word of encouragement or affirmation. Yes, I was mortified. I wanted to escape into a dark, deep hole.

For the rest of the story, you’ll need to read my next blog.

For now I want to reassure those who feel like I once did and sometimes still do. Friends, it’s not our ability or the letters behind our name that qualify us to do the Lord’s work. In fact, the more inadequate we feel, the more we’ll need to depend on Him. And that’s a good thing.

He is so much bigger than all our self-doubts, all our fears, all our failures. The more you struggle with the “deadly Ds” of disappointments, doubts, discouragement, the more I believe they are evidence that you are a threat to the evil one. Yes, God could make it easy, but then our faith muscles would not become strong.

God said to Paul, and He says to you and to me:

I am with you; that is all you need.
My power shows up best in weak people.”
Now I am glad to boast about how weak I am;
I am glad to be a living demonstration
of Christ’s power,
instead of showing off my own power and abilities.

2 Corinthians 12:9 TLB

mtn climb 2pexels-photo-671907

MP3s and CDs from the July 26-28 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference available –

For the first time we’re excited to be able to offer the entire conference as downloadable MP3s. (The MP3 files are also available on a DVD.) The cost is only $57 ($67 on a DVD) for those who came to the conference or $77 ($87 on a DVD) for those who were not able to come. The almost 70 sessions can also be purchased individually as CDs. You’ll find the order form at http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com.

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