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Archive for the ‘God’s promises’ Category

God is our refuge and strength,
a tested help in times of trouble.
And so we need not fear even if the world blows up
and the mountains crumble into the sea.”
Psalm 46:1-2 TLB

It’s been almost a week since our daughter told us we should not leave our home because we are both high risk. She did our grocery shopping and left the bags on the back porch. Deb is a physician, so even though this seemed drastic, we listened. Given the spread of covid-19 (the county we live in now has the highest number of cases in Pennsylvania) and the national emergency that has been declared, I’m grateful.

As schools close around the nation and daily more events are cancelled, I’ve wondered what to do about the May 13-16 Colorado and July 22-25 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conferences. I honestly don’t know. Right now all I can do is pray and wait and see.

I have assured those on Colorado’s faculty that I will understand if they feel they need to cancel. Of course, the same is true for conferees who have already registered. I will refund anyone who feels it is not wise for them to come. The faculty and program is not yet finalized for the Philly conference.

Although I certainly hope and pray summer will bring an end to the virus, at least through the end of March I’m not going to focus on the conferences but instead invite you to join me in the following:

Pray, and not just tomorrow, Sunday, March 15, that President Trump has declared a national day of prayer. Pray daily for local, state, national, and world leaders that they would make wise decisions; for those who are ill with covid-19 and their caregivers; for medical scientists to develop an effective treatment and vaccine.

Pray much for others.” 1 Timothy 2:1 TLB

Balance time reading and listening to the news with digging into God’s Word. Of course, it’s important to stay informed, but if we pay attention only to what the world is saying and not to how God will speak to us through His Word, we’ll add to the panic that also threatens to become pandemic.

The whole Bible “is God’s way of making us well prepared at every point, fully equipped to do good to everyone.” 2 Timothy 3:17 TLB

Encourage others through posting on social media words of reassurance and hope from the Scriptures.

Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.” 1 Peter 5:7 TLB

Use the gift of words Father has entrusted to you to write blogs and posts to encourage readers to trust the Lord during this time of uncertainty.

Encourage each other to build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 TLB

As your daily routines are disrupted, ask the Lord, “What do You want me to do today?”

Make the most of every opportunity you have for doing good.” Ephesians 5:16 TLB

Friends, let’s rest in the fact that none of what is happening has surprised the Lord or made it impossible for Him to intervene.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT


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It’s been a challenging week! That’s not surprising when I’m working on the Colorado or Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

For more than 20 years I’ve been typesetting the 16-page conference brochures on Quark, a desktop publishing program similar to InDesign. Since I write the copy to fit, it’s not a job I can delegate. And really it’s a task I enjoy – that is, when I don’t encounter problems.

Perhaps my joy (okay, pride) in opening registration four days early for the May 13-16 Colorado Christian Writers Conference was why typesetting the brochure was more difficult than usual.

I’ve got a laptop with a huge hard drive and lots of memory, but clicking on the over 50 text boxes in the two pages below was laborious. I clicked and clicked. When a box finally opened, I couldn’t find the cursor. It was taking forever just to typeset these two pages, and I still had another 14 pages to finish!

The above does not include our keynoters or continuing session and clinic instructors. You can see who they are at https://colorado.writehisanswer.com.

Finally ready to send to the printer

Wednesday afternoon, two days later than I had planned, I finally uploaded the brochure to the printer, or rather I tried to upload it. Can you imagine my dismay when I kept getting the message, “The file appears to be corrupted”?

Three hours and two calls to the printer later, I was assured they had the file and everything was fine. But the next day I got an email that they did not have the file. Would I “please upload it again.”

Unbelievably, Friday morning they called. Yes, same message! But now they admitted the problem was on their end. They said they would expedite the printing so I’d have the brochures in time for the February 22, Writers on the Rock conference. (If you live in Colorado or Wyoming, click here for info on this great one-day learning experience.)

I was more than ready to move on to the next thing I needed to get done that I hoped wouldn’t be another challenge. No such luck. (Well, luck has nothing to do with any of this. I am so beyond my own abilities and dependent on Father’s enabling.)

Facing another challenge

Again I faced not one but two challenges. I tried and tried to get the workshop grids posted on the website so they were readable. After hours of no success, exasperated, and at the “end of my rope,” I blogged “When you think you can’t . . .” promises from God’s Word. But I confess, I did give up (temporarily) and move on to the next thing on my never-ending to-do list.

Again, technology had me stumped and frustrated. After typesetting the mini-poster and Teens Write flyer below in Quark, I couldn’t create the needed PDF to send them to the printer. I tried to find answers in the 450+ page manual. I did multiple Google searches. Even got a Just Answer tech. He tried everything he knew and said, “You need to contact Quark.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Poster-and-TW-CO-2020-Teens-Write-CO-2018-2.png

I found a Quark tech online. Turns out my 2018 version of Quark is not compatible with the latest Windows 10 update. What? It was when I purchased it a year ago. The 2015 version that I typically use had created the needed PDF for the conference brochure. (The learning curve for the later version is so daunting that I rarely use it, but for some reason I couldn’t get the file I needed to update for the poster and Teens Write to load in 2015.) I couldn’t move the mini-poster and Teens Write flyer I created in the 2018 version to the 2015 program. I was stuck! (Yes, this is getting complicated. Stick with me, please.)

While I was relieved to know it wasn’t my lack of computer know-how, I wasn’t thrilled with the need to purchase an upgrade. And, of course, I encountered issues getting the upgrade to work! Again, I needed tech help, but PTL Quark included a full year of free support.

It was another long and exhausting day. I didn’t get near as much done as I had hoped to accomplish.

I’m so grateful Father helped me to persevere when the evil one tried to convince me that I had hit a brick wall
that I was not smart enough
or strong enough
or young enough to scale.

What about you?

While hopefully you’re not encountering the technical challenges that are so often a part of my experience, I know you face other challenges. The blank computer screen can be intimidating. Writing for the Lord isn’t easy. None of us will ever fully master the craft or understand all the intricacies of grammar and punctuation. And building a platform and finding a publisher are daunting tasks.

I’m often reminded of the challenges Solomon faced when his father commissioned him to build the Temple. I cling to the Lord and to the words He gave David to speak to his son – and to me and to you:

Be strong and courageous and get to work. Don’t be frightened by the size of the task, for the Lord my God is with you; he will not forsake you. He will see to it that everything is finished correctly.
1 Chronicles 28:20 (TLB)

I know I’ll continue to face challenges, but God’s love and mercy never fail. PTL the new version of Quark is more user-friendly and isn’t hanging up. And now I’m able to create readable images directly from Quark. Hurrah!

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Accept the truth – you can’t. But . . .

with God everything is possible. Mark 10:27 TLB

Choose to rely on Him and His enabling.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. Proverbs 3:5 AMP

Refuse to believe the evil one’s lies that you can’t do what God is calling you to do.

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

Keep your eyes on Jesus.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.

When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! Hebrews 12:2-3 MSG

Claim His promises.

I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power. Philippians 4:13 TLB

Don’t give up!

And let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up. Galatians 6:9 TLB

Praise Him in joyful anticipation of conquering the impossible in His strength.

Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes. Ephesians 3:20 TLB

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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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