Archive for the ‘Our Christian witness’ Category


Trick or Treat?

Let’s hope they’ll be only treats, and not tricks this year,” I said to my husband.

“Just to be on the safe side, I’d like to get a spotlight mounted on the side of the house,” Paul said. “I don’t want to take any chances that this year it will be our car that gets sprayed with paint.”

I felt my stomach tighten into a knot. Halloween was anything but fun or funny in our neighborhood.

The next morning, I saw the tricks had already begun even though Halloween was two days away. Obscenities scribbled in soap covered our car windows. I grumbled to the Lord about “those kids” as I used a razor knife to scrape off the filthy words.

That evening was Mischief Night. Paul was determined not to have any more pranks. He mounted the new spotlight and left it on all night. He also kept the dog on the front porch. Several times he went outside to check on things, but everything was quiet.

To our relief, there was no sign of any more tricks the next morning. But later, when I was reaching into the mailbox, I felt something strange.

“A dead mouse!” I screeched.

Moments later, the phone rang. It was Paul calling from work.

“Our gas cap is missing, and shaving cream has been sprayed into the tank,” he said in a weary voice.

I felt my blood pressure leap. “Those kids! What’s the matter with their parents? If they can’t teach them to respect other’s property, why don’t they keep them in on Mischief Night? This wasn’t a prank. This was vandalism!”

“I’m going to talk to their parents,” Paul said.

“But they’ve never listened before. Besides,” I added, “we can’t prove anything. We can’t make enemies of our neighbors.”

“What are we supposed to do? Just let them get away with it?” Paul asked. “Next time they’ll only be bolder.

On Halloween night, we discovered that “the next time” already had happened. Something told Paul to go and check on our pop-up camper that was parked in the back yard. I came running when I heard him yelling for me. To my horror, his flashlight revealed holes had been poked in the roof.

“Oh no,” I groaned. We had insurance but, of course, we had opted for a high deductible to save money.

“You still don’t want me to talk to their parents?” Paul asked.

I sighed. I knew as well as he did which kids were responsible. Several of the teenagers on our block were running with a rough crowd. Increasingly, they had been mouthing off at me–probably because on several occasions I had dared to comment on their language and behavior.

“If you have to curse, you could at least go where there are no little ones around to mimic you,” I’d said. Another day I asked them to please move their bikes so I could pull into the driveway. “You also could turn that music down a little,” I’d added.

“What do you want–hymns?” one boy had snarled.

I was startled back to the present by my eight-year-old son tugging on my sleeve. “Look, Mom,” he whispered, pointing over to the tree. A doll was hanging by her neck from a limb. Her head was missing. “I don’t think I like Halloween tricks,” he said.

“I don’t either,” I said, my voice trembling with anger. But then my anger was replaced by fear as the beam of Paul’s flashlight fell on some numbers spray painted on the side of our house – 666.

“What are you going to do, Dad?” Robbie asked.

“I don’t know, Son. We have no proof to file formal charges.”

“Well, I know what I’m going to do,” I said. “If those kids are going to harass us, I’m going to harass them. Maybe they’ll realize it isn’t fun to play tricks when I start calling the police every time they get rowdy. I’ve overlooked a lot, but no longer.”

“But getting even won’t fix the roof of our camper,” Paul said quietly.”

“Aren’t we supposed to love our enemies?” Robbie asked.

Out of the mouth of babes, I thought as I bent down to hug him. “You’re right, Robbie,” I said, trying not to choke on the lump in my throat.

Halloween passed without any more incidences. Several days later, Paul mentioned what had happened to the father of one of the boys we suspected.

“I’m really sorry to hear that,” the man said. “Halloween has gotten entirely out of hand. I made my son stay in.”

“Maybe we’re also judging the rest of them unjustly,” Paul said to me later. We agreed to let it drop, but I still felt angry every time I passed that group of boys hanging out on the corner.

But then God began nudging me to see them through his eyes. Finally I began to pray for them. To my surprise, I also began smiling at them. One day, I even stopped to talk to them–and not about a complaint.

It was a beginning.

In the months that followed, I saw my attitude, and theirs, slowly changing. Whenever possible, I stopped to talk to them. When they were rowdy, I didn’t say anything. I hoped that my silence was speaking louder than my previous words of condemnation.

It may be just my imagination or wishful thinking, but the boys seem to be swearing less. In any case, they no longer make smart remarks to me. And one of the boys often says hello to me and initiates a conversation. I have a feeling he’d like to be friends.

Halloween will soon be here again. I still dread it, but this year, with God’s help, I’m going to confront Halloween pranksters with love. I’ll show them that treats are better than tricks.

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What I’m reading and hearing from people I respect underscores what I have been feeling in my spirit for a long time. Difficult days are ahead for our nation. They will be days of intense testing for Christians, but they also will be days filled with opportunities to strengthen our faith muscles and to live and to write His answer.

Will we witness God’s judgment of our nation in the coming weeks and months? I don’t know. I’m praying we will turn back to God and that He will have mercy. Whatever happens, I want to be a contagious Christian whose words and actions draw people to the Lord – our only hope for today, tomorrow, and eternity.

  • Contagious Christians love. – John 13:34-35; 1 John 4:7-10; Matthew 5:44
  • Contagious Christians are passionate. – Luke 10:27; Revelation 2:4-5; 3:15-16
  • Contagious Christians pray. – Colossians 4:2; Philippians 4:6
  • Contagious Christians live their faith. – James 2:14; Ecclesiastes 5:7; Ephesians 5:17
  • Contagious Christians boldly share their faith. – 2 Corinthians 4:13; Colossians 4:5
  • Contagious Christians are gentle, respectful, and gracious. – 1 Peter 3:15; 2 Timothy 2:25; James 3:17
  • Contagious Christians avoid senseless arguments. – Titus 3:9; John 14:6
  • Contagious Christians avoid pat answers. – Ezekiel 3:10-11; Habakkuk 2:1-2
  • Contagious Christians are authentic. – 1 Corinthians 4:20; Colossians 2:6-7
  • Contagious Christians are joy-filled and expectant. – Psalm 71:14,16; 9:1

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Compassion rocks fixed

Are you concerned

about human trafficking,
orphans, abortion, the poor,
racism, the handicapped,
the hungry, the oppressed,
and so much more that is close to
the heart and call of Jesus?

Maybe your concerns are closer to home –
a family member who doesn’t know the Lord,
relationships that are strained,
even estranged,
not enough money to meet urgent needs,
and not enough faith to tackle issues
that seem beyond us to resolve.

Today I want to challenge you, and to challenge myself
to believe that we can make a difference.


I’ve just watched – again – the video of pre-teen Jackie Evancho singing “I Believe” that now has 6,593,606 hits on youtube. Amazing voice – powerful message. I encourage you to watch it and to believe. God has a plan for you and for your writing. He can use you and use me to make a difference in our hurting world.

Grab hold of His promises in “A Writer’s Statement of Faith.” Read them aloud. Choose to believe He means what He says. He who calls you will equip you to do “far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us” (Eph. 3:20 MSG).


It’s not too late to register for the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. Walk-ins are welcome! I especially hope you’ll join us Wednesday evening for brief messages by conferees and faculty on how they are seeking to “Write His Answer” to issues that concern them.

Our morning and evening sessions are open free of charge to the community. They will challenge and encourage all Christians – not just writers – “to believe” they can make a differrence.

Banner 2015 GPCWC

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“I never promised it would be easy
to follow Me,
but I have promised always to be with you.”

These were the first words I felt the Lord speak to my spirit many years ago. I admit the first part of His message was not really what I wanted to hear then or now. After all, He could make it easy, or at least easier. He knows I’m committed to doing what He calls me to do, so why does it have to be so hard? Why do I constantly encounter problems and obstacles? I’m weary of the stress and time pressures – of feeling like I’ve got a target on my back. The spiritual battles are intense.

I’m often reminded of the apostle Paul and how he begged the Lord not once, but three times, to take away the thorn in his flesh.

Each time God said, “No. But I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people” (2 Cor. 12:9 TLB).

So I choose to rely on the fact that He is with me – and with you. He loves us too much to allow our faith muscles to become weak and flabby. He uses the attacks of the evil one to draw us closer to Him and to teach us to depend on Him and on His promises. And friends, it is our testimony to going and growing through the difficulties we encounter that will speak far more strongly to unbelievers than a problem-free life.

Conference Updates

CCWC banner with lodge 2015It’s hard to believe that I’ll be leaving for Colorado in a little over two weeks. There is still so much to be done. I’m so grateful Cindy Watkins is here from North Carolina. I’m trusting the Lord that “he will see to it that everything is finished correctly” (1 Chron. 28:20 TLB) – and in time. Speaking of time, there is still time to register and to request one-on-one appointents with our faculty of 55 authors, editors, and agents.

Banner 2015 GPCWCI’ve worked all week on the 16-page brochure for the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly conference. I’ve encountered far ore unexplained problems than usual, but finally it is done and at the printer. You can view it online at http://philadelphia.writehisanser.com/brochure.

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Make Your Words Hit the Heart!

Guest post by
Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller

How can words, which are read with the mind, touch the heart? That’s the challenge for any author: both fiction and non-fiction. And that was certainly the challenge for my husband and I as we wrote our book Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today (Leafwood Publishers).

The reason? Our non-fiction book is about encouraging and equipping Christians to become more holy! But we wanted to encourage holiness at the heart, not only in behavior. Because of counseling and being open to God revealing the hidden—and often sinful—motives of our hearts, we were having a heart change. And we wanted that for others.

But how to touch our readers’ hearts with words?

We found the answer in sharing stories. Yes, we included Bible instruction and practical ideas but we knew we needed “story” to impact the heart. And so we shared our own stories—and those of others—in powerful, fiction kind of techniques. We remembered how to do that using a DEA acrostic:

D: description and dialogue: Give descriptive details of the setting and people. Write out the dialogue.

E: emotion: how are you and other characters feeling?

A: action: include body movements, setting changes, character reactions.

Let me give you an example from our book.

I, Larry, was taking a walk with Kathy recently and she asked me, “Honey, remember how you mentioned that you rarely prayed before a potentially dangerous situation that you faced as a police officer? Why do you think you didn’t pray?”

I paused and stroked my beard. “Well, I would pray for the safety of other officers but frankly I never gave a thought about praying for myself. I was so confident in my training and decision making skills that I believed I was prepared for anything.”

Kathy looked curious. “That seems a little presumptuous. Could your prayerlessness be tied to your first acting role?”

(For the sake of word count, I won’t give all of the interaction but Larry recalled how as a junior higher he had all-consuming stage fright in a play and stood mute on the stage stopping the play. As a result, he vowed to never be out of control again so that his weakness wouldn’t be exposed.)

Then we pick up the story:

I turned to Kathy and my voice raised because I knew an “ah-ha” moment was coming. “I was presumptuous because I was terrified. I falsely believed there was no room for God in those crisis situations. My training, skill, and mastery over my job just took charge. I spent my entire life honing that strategy of depending upon myself to prevent any weakness from being exposed.”

We continued chatting and the puzzle pieces fell into place. “I realize now that anything that threatened my image must be handled by the only one I really trusted: me! I left God out of the equation so that I could maintain control. Of course I would gladly pray for the protection of my peers. That cost me nothing. It didn’t make me look weak—only them!”

As we walked, headed for home, I felt a sense of sadness and repentance that my prayerlessness was rooted in a rebellious spirit that instinctively rejected anything that a sovereign God might place in my path. I exclaimed, “Oh honey, it’s a good thing I am redeemed!”

Never Ever Be the Same

Kathy Collard Miller is the author of 50 books and has spoken in 31 states and 8 foreign countries. Kathy and her husband, Larry, have been married 44 years and he is a retired police lieutenant who also speaks and writes. Larry and Kathy speak often together and individually on a variety of topics. They live in Southern California, and have two grown children and one grandson. Visit them at www.LarryAndKathy.com and www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today (Leafwood Publishers) offers Christians hope that they can change their destructive patterns of behavior through identifying their sinful self-protective strategies and then being empowered to trust God instead. Their book includes biblical principles, insightful stories, and helpful instruction. It also provides discussion questions that can be used by individuals or groups.

Never Ever Be the Same is available at your local Christian bookstore and in both print and digital versions at:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1ITmLfy
CBD: http://bit.ly/1AuJZSX
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1BJz3lC

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Dianne E. Butts 1-2011Guest writer
Dianne Butts

Hello CCWC fans! If you’ve attended the Colorado Christian Writers Conference or the Philly conference last summer, you’ve no doubt seen me around or taken one of my workshops.

I have something new going that I want to share with you. I will be teaching my very first Webinar, “Blog-Plosion,” this Tuesday, February 3, in the evening!

This is actually a spin off of the workshop I taught at CCWC last spring, “Social Marketing for the Techno-Challenged.” In this 2-hour webinar I will be sharing how I took my brand new blog to 65,000+ page views per months in only a few months. And my readership is still growing.

In this Webinar I will share all the strategies and techniques I used to gain readers FAST.

My Bible Prophecies Fulfilled blog, which talks about not only Bible prophecy but Jesus as the Savior, is getting hundreds of re-Tweets and shares, and I’m getting messages and questions from people all around the world. I’m having discussions with people all over the world–including Muslims and atheists. I know the Lord is using my blog-ministry in Ephesians 3:20 ways.

Learn how I’m doing it and how you can do it too. Would you like to grow your platform fast? Sign up now!

The webinar is coming in only a few days so if you’re interested sign up today. Here’s the info:

Set of multicolored big buttons made of glass or plastic with metallic borders

“Blog-Plosion!” Webinar by Dianne E. Butts.
Hosted by Linda Evans Shepherd

LINK: http://webinarjam.net/webinar/go/14267/cfde5e5001

WHEN:  Tuesday evening, February 3, 2015
9:00 pm Eastern Time
8:00 pm Central
7:00 pm Mountain
6:00 pm Pacific

Can’t make it? This Webinar will be recorded so if you sign up, you’ll be able to watch it later even if you can’t attend it live.

WHERE:  Blog-Plosion Webinar Sign Up Page

HOW MUCH?: $19.99

You should receive an auto-responder email telling you when and how to log in to the seminar.
You will receive two handouts with this class.

Please use the Share button on the webinar page to share with your friends and contacts. Thank you.

Again, I’m very excited to have this opportunity to teach and to share how I’m making an impact in this world through my blog. If I can do it, so can you! I do hope you’ll join us Tuesday evening!

P.S. from Marlene – I’ve signed up. I encourage you to sign up, too!

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Wise men

How Long?

Along with many other schools near me,
the school my grandkids attend
was on lockdown today
as police searched for a killer.
We locked our doors
and prayed he would be found
before more lives were lost.
Far away in a school in Pakistan
terrorists killed 135 children.
In Yemen a car bomb
killed 20 children on a school bus.

Oh Father, how long
before there is an end
to this madness?
How long before
the Prince of Peace comes to reign?

Thank You for the star
that lit the way to the cold, damp cave
where Your Son entered our world
two thousand years ago.
Thank You for Your promise
that “His life is the light that shines
through the darkness—
and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
Help me to be Your lightbearer—
to write and to live
Your answer.

John 1:5; Philippians 2:15-16; Habakkuk 2:2
Marlene Bagnull – Christmas 2014

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Christmas cross
Thanksgiving has ushered in
the Christmas season.
I am sobered
not so much by the calories
I have consumed
or the prices in the mall
(although both are too high),
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.

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thanksgiving (1)

Come All Christians

Marlene Bagnull
To the tune “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”

Come all Christians join in song
Praise our God the whole day long
Not just on Thanksgiving eve
But throughout eternity
Thank You God for all You’ve done
For Your Spirit and Your Son
And Your Word that points the way
To bear fruit for You each day

Thank You for this land we love
For Your watchcare from above
For  countless ways that You have blessed
Giv’n Your strength when we are stressed
Turn our nation back to You
Change our hearts, our faith renew
Help us, Lord, to once again
Stand for Truth lost souls to win

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I’m back! Well, I’ve not really been gone although it feels that way. For the past month I’ve spent more time in my garden than in my office except for the week when I had to work on our 2013 taxes. PTL I got them done several hours before the October 15 deadline.

It’s been a good month of catching up on stuff I can’t do during conference season. I still have more catching up to do (will any of us ever really be caught up?), but it’s time to get to work planning next year’s conferences. There’s a book to be written that Father is placing on my heart, and there is the ongoing need to prayerfully address the issues and to “write His answer.”

For now, let me encourage you to do several things.

  • Go to the polls tomorrow having studied where the candidates stand on the issues. A helpful non-partisan tool is  http://www.ontheissues.org/default.htm. Join me in praying for the election of godly men and women.


  • With Christmas fast-approaching (it’s only 7-1/2 weeks away!) ask Father how you can keep Christ in Christmas through His gift of words. Perhaps He will lead you to post Scriptures on Facebook throughout Advent or to do as my friend, Cindy Watkins, is doing in November with a daily “thank You” post. Or perhaps Father will lead you to compile a booklet of poems and short stories as a gift for loved ones. And do be aware of what’s happening in the world around you especially as it pertains to man’s attempt to remove Christ from Christmas. Ask Father for wise words to present biblical truth.

God bless you as you seek to write and to live His answer.

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