Archive for the ‘Overcoming self-doubts’ Category

a-full-inboxFive days! It’s taken me five days to resolve the latest problem with my Outlook email – a problem that four Geek Squad techs spent over eight hours trying, unsuccessfully, to fix!

Somehow my Outlook folders got corrupted and scrambled. The folder properties showed they contained emails, but they would not open. And, again, the same as last May, the folders that were affected (or infected?) were critically important conference folders.

More times than I can count I’ve told Father, “I can’t. I CAN’T do this!” The deadly Ds of doubt, discouragement, and yes, even despair have almost defeated me. But I’ve not told Father “I won’t.” And thanks to the prayers of many and the Facebook friend who told me about “Kernel for Outlook PST Repair” I’m finally able to retrieve the emails I need to complete the website and brochure for the May 15-18 Colorado Christian Writers Conference and finish planning the August 8-10 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

I admit there were times I asked myself, “Why? Why go through all this stress? Why not quit?” know Father has called me to direct the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. He hasn’t promised it would be easy or that I would be immune from the evil one’s efforts to defeat me. But He has promised to be with me and  has again confirmed that He is using the conferences in Ephesians 3:20 ways.

I am so encouraged by Eric Sprinkle’s testimony below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile reading updates on all the mayhem in Marlene’s life these last few months, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What if the CCWC (Colorado Christian Writers Conference) went away? What if it had never even been around these last five years?”

It didn’t take long to reflect on the impact Marlene’s conference has had on my own personal publishing career lately.

As an overwhelmed first-timer back in 2013, I clearly remember clumsily trying to find conference rooms, manage armloads of notes, chat with people over lunch, and keep up with numerous sessions all ranging from editing tips, improving your writing, and the potential growth of something called IndiPub.

Fast forward to 2018 where I was able to serve on Faculty, facilitate training sessions, field hundreds of IndiPub questions, and finally end the year with my name listed on two books…as Author.

So amazing.

And where did I even begin to learn all the ins-and-outs of the Indi Publishing process? At CCWC.

  • Where did I find the typesetter for my projects? At CCWC.
  • Where did I find our book’s cover artist? He’s a good friend…of a guy we met at CCWC.
  • My branding manager? He was my roommate three years ago at the conference.
  • Where did I meet my Editor? Okay, she’s a member of my small group Bible study, but where did I meet my brilliant co-author? Yup, only just the year before, at Marlene’s CCWC in Estes Park, Colorado.

I can hardly believe all that God has done in my life, and in my writing, since that first conference five years ago, but I do know that oh, so much of it has been a direct result of the time, the teaching, and the people attending the Colorado Christian Writers Conference these last few years.

How has God used these very same things in your life recently? How could he impact you through the people and training you’d experience by attending this year?

My name’s Eric Sprinkle, author of some crazy fun devotionals called Adventure Devos, and Adventure Devos: Women’s Edition, and I can’t imagine either one of these books being a realty, except for our gracious Lord God using an amazing writers conference, located in the heart of the Colorado wilderness.

God is speaking, and the mountains are calling. I look forward to seeing all of you at this year’s CCWC in May!

2019 CO banner & website2019 GP Banner 2

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“Do you believe, do you really believe God can use you?”

When Michael Gantt spoke those words about ten years ago in a keynote at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, the presence of the Lord was so powerful. I know lives were changed in that moment. Mine certainly was.

Even though I’d been directing the Colorado conference for about 12 years and the Philly conference (that I founded) for about 25 years (it’s now 35 years), the “deadly Ds” were a frequent companion.

If God has called you to “write His answer,” then if you’ve not yet encountered the deadly Ds of Disappointments, Doubts, Discouragement, and even Despair, the good news is that you will.

This is good news? Yes! First, it’s evidence that you are a threat to the evil one. And second, it will cause you to draw more and more close to the Lord and to depend on Him.

The journey to publication is not easy. Sadly, many give up.

For 22 years the Colorado Christian Writers Conferences has “encouraged and equipped Christians to write about a God who is real, who is reachable, and who changes lives.”

Every year He meets us on the mountain. He gives hope, courage, direction . . . He draws us into CCWC’s family of writers where deep, forever friendships are formed.

He may open the door to publication if you and your writing are ready. If not, you can be certain you’ll receive the instruction you need to keep growing your writing skills. In addition, you’ll receive valuable feedback in one-on-one appointments (more than at any other conference) with our faculty of 59 agents, editors, and authors.

Do you believe God can use you?

It’s not too late to register for the May 16-19 CCWC. Time payments can be arranged if needed. God will make a way. Trust Him!


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Lord, when doubts fill my mind,
when my heart is in turmoil,
quiet me and give me
renewed hope and cheer.
Psalm 94:19 TLB

You try, really try to be positive, to not doubt your ability or your call.

You affirm His promises. “He is able to do far more . . .”

But you may be feeling stuck – blocked. Words are not flowing. You may fear that your creativity has dried up.

And you feel alone. Friends and family who are not writers don’t “get” you. Why do you keep banging your head against a blank computer screen or tossing it (the screen, not your head!) out the window?

computer airbag 781

(Used with permission.)

Yes, writing is a lonely task. And yes, disappointments, doubts, discouragement (the “Deadly Ds”) will nip at your heels. But I’ve searched the Scriptures. Jesus never promised it would be easy to follow Him. And it is definitely not easy to “write His answer” to those who are lost and so wounded by life they want to give up.

But I believe, really believe, that God can use the words you write to impact lives now and for eternity. That’s why, despite the disappointments, doubts, and discouragement I also face, I choose to affirm my call

to encourage and equip you
to write about a God who is real,
who is reachable,
and who changes lives.

It’s why I said yes to direct the Write to Impact Lives Conference February 9-10 in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, and why I didn’t cancel the conference when the sponsoring organization had to back out. The workload has been daunting in the midst of also planning the May 16-19 Colorado and July 26-28 Greater Philly Christian Writers ConferenceBut I’m praising God that the 16-page brochure for the Colorado conference is at the printer a week earlier than last year! Amazing, but then we serve an amazing God!

I know it’s been a cold winter, and it’s tempting to stay warm in your cozy home rather than venture out to a February conference. And I know budgets are tight, and it may seem wiser to save your money for a conference where you can pitch your ideas and manuscripts to editors and agents.

But the Write to Impact Lives Conference is about sharpening your writing and marketing skills so you will be better prepared to create interest in your work at future conferences. And it’s about fellowship with other writers and the encouragement we need to receive and to give.

I believe Father is asking me to “sweeten the deal” and give you “more bang for your buck.” My words, not His! And so, for new registrants and those who have already registered, I’m including three books that support the purpose of this conference.

New WHA cover


My Bible study for writers that addresses the struggles we face and must overcome.

Communicate Change Lives


Jim Watkins’ book that I believe every Christian writer needs to read.

CWMG 2018
The info you need to find markets for your work as well as literary agents, writers conferences and seminars, writers groups, editorial services, publicity and marketing services, and contests.

The three books sell for $44.97 on Amazon ($37.99 through the Write His Answer Bookstore), but if you register for the entire conference, you will receive them free of charge (or the equivalent value in other books we’ll have for sale).

The price increases February 1 so don’t delay. Again, please do not let the cost prevent you from coming. Ask Father to make the way possible. If friends, family, or your church are unable to help, email me (mbagnull@aol.com) or call me (484-991-8581) to request scholarship help or time payments.

Click here for more information and to register for a conference that will help you not to feel alone, strengthen your call, and equip you to write to impact lives.

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Matt mountain.png

What is the biggest obstacle you face in accomplishing what God has called you to do?

For me, it’s faith – or rather, to be honest, lack of faith.

Despite all the amazing things I have seen Him do, when faced with a new challenge, I still struggle to trust Him. Some mountains seem too big, too steep, too treacherous. It’s easier to question His call, to explain why I’m not the best person for the assignment, to suggest He choose someone else who is more qualified.

But then, I remember,

 You can never please God without faith, without depending on him.
Hebrews 11:6 (TLB)

I think of the exciting adventures I would have missed if I’d said no. More than that, I would have missed the lessons learned through needing to depend on Him. Most of all, I would have grieved the One who has been and is so faithful.

What mountain are you facing? How can I pray for you?

~ *~ *~ * ~

To encourage you as you climb your mountain:

Written by the women who are part of Linda Evans Shepherd’s Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA). Click here for a free subscription.



I’ve been a member since Linda founded AWSA seventeen years ago.  It’s an incredible group of over 450 women. Click here to view a message from Linda and receive a free gift.





Between the Lamp Posts front cover





I was blessed to edit this book last fall and was so impressed with it that I purchased copies for fifteen of my friends for Christmas. I encourage you to visit Becky’s website and watch her video where she talks about why she wrote this devotional book. There is also a link to order it from Amazon or Kindle.




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Obstacle # 4 – Self-doubts

This is a biggee for me and for most writers.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But sooner or later the man who wins

― Walter D. Wintle

The  bottom line? It’s normal to have self-doubts. In fact, it’s far better to doubt our abilities and thus, hopefully, to be teachable than to have an inflated ego.  But it’s critical that we not doubt the One who has called us and who promises:
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)

Nurturing our doubts not only can cause us to give up before we even begin, we grieve our Heavenly Father when we focus on our self-doubts rather than Him.

I’ve written a lot about self-doubts in my book, Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers and on this blog. See my June 2013 post and the link you’ll find in it to an interview with best-selling author Joel Rosenberg and his battle with self-doubts.

Obstacle # 5 – Lack of fellowship with other writers

I will always be grateful for the pastor who paid the way for me to go to my first writers’ conference about 45 years ago. Little did I know that conference would change my life and lead to a 35 year ministry directing the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference and 22 year ministry directing the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. Both 2018 conferences are in the planning stages with registration scheduled to open February 1 for Philly and April 1 for Philly. I’ll begin posting info on the websites soon.

TCC ad 2018_Page_1

But a once-a-year conference isn’t enough! Check out the new day and a half Write to Impact Lives Conference February 9-10 in Lansdale, PA.

Feb banner

Beyond going to conferences, you need to be part of a critique group. A morning group meets one Thursday morning a month in my Lansdale home. An evening group for advanced writers also meets in my home every other Thursday evening. For info go to http://writehisanswer.com/critiquegroups. Sorry men. Both groups are for ladies only.

CWMG 2018
You’ll find info on critique groups around the nation in The Christian Writers Market Guide 2018. This 578-page must-have resource is available through the Write His Answer Bookstore for $19.99 (retail $22.99). It’s also available through a monthly subscription.

I also encourage you to subscribe to The Christian Communicator to keep your Market Guide updated and for helpful articles.

I’ve been writing for the Lord for 45 years, so I’ve got more obstacles to address and how to overcome them. That’s the key – not to be blindsided by them. We need to remember the Girl Scout motto, “Be prepared!”

Click here for a Goal Planning Chart that includes columns for expected obstacles and how you will overcome them along with Scripture promises to claim.

I’d love to hear what obstacles you are facing and to pray for you.

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Faith rockThere are surely no coincidences with the Lord!

Well over a month ago, my pastor asked me to teach Sunday school April 23. “I’d like you to look at the issues around Thomas and his doubting,” Pastor Jay said.

Okay. I could do that. What I didn’t know was how much I needed to do that.

It’s taken the better part of today to pull together my thoughts. A good bit of that time I spent online watching videos of the events surrounding Jesus’ death and Resurrection. I felt the disciples’ pain when Jesus said He was leaving and their despair when He died.

Suddenly Jesus stood among them — alive! But Thomas wasn’t there. Despite the exuberant witness of his friends, Thomas insisted that he would not believe until he saw Jesus face-to-face — until he touched His wounds.

Why did Thomas doubt? I suspect he was too afraid to believe. What if his friends were mistaken? The risk of facing the Deadly Ds that had already threatened to destroy him was just too great. The pain of more disappointment, discouragement, and disillusionment was more than he could handle. It was easier to doubt than to believe.

Scripture assures us:

Those who believe in Christ will never be disappointed.
Romans 10:11 TLB

But do we believe it, really believe it?

Doubts are my frequent companion as I struggle to stay on top of the countless details of directing not one but two Christian writers conferences. I feel inadequate and fearful that I won’t be able to get everything done in time. Despite His faithfulness the past 33 years I’ve directed the Philly conference and the 20 years I’ve directed Colorado, I doubt not Him but myself.

Then once again I’m reminded of the first words I ever felt Him speak to my spirit:

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

There are days I long to escape to a place where I have everything under control. But there really is no such place — at least not if I’m to follow where He leads. And such a place would be devoid of the joy of knowing His enabling to do what I can never do in my own strength. So I choose to keep on keeping on, fixing my eyes on Jesus my leader and instructor who for the joy set before Him endured the cross.

What about you? Will you give Him your doubts and step out in faith to do what He is calling you to do?

Lord, when doubts fill my mind,
when my heart is in turmoil,
quiet me and give me renewed hope & cheer.
Psalm 94:19 TLB

P.S. Tradition says that Thomas travelled to India where he established churches and was martyred for his faith. Click here for several powerful scenes from The Life of Jesus, The Gospel of John.

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Do you feel called to “write His answer” and yet struggle with self-doubts?

Truthfully, through working with hundreds of writers through the years, I find that the those who have a message that needs to be published are the ones most likely to be crippled by self-doubts.

I shudder when I think of how many times I almost gave up because my self-doubts were so loud and insistent. Why would anyone want to read what I wrote? What made me think that I could write for the Lord? I wasn’t qualified! How could He possibly use someone who was only a high school graduate? I felt ashamed and woefully inadequate.

cross in sand

How it must have grieved the Lord when I failed to see
that the Cross turns my minus into a plus –
when I believed the lies of the evil one instead of His promises.

And how much time I wasted in my self-centered and selfish focus on my doubts instead of on the needs Father was calling me to address through the words He would give me if I would just trust Him.

I’m so grateful that I didn’t give up despite the deadly Ds of disappointments, doubts, and discouragement. And I continue to thank the Lord for my pastor who sent me to my first writers conference. That was over 40 years ago, and that conference changed my life!

Today I have the privilege and joy of directing not just one but two Christian writers conferences. Registration is now open for the July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, our 34th year of ministry.

The website has not yet been proofread and I still have lots more info to add, but the list of 53 faculty and descriptions of our 20 early bird workshops, 8 continuing sessions, 42 workshops, and 4 clinics are online. Faculty photos, bios, and info on this year’s Teens Write will be coming soon.


And it’s not too late to register for the May 17-20 Colorado Christian Writers Conference and to request free one-on-one appointments with the faculty of 56 agents, editors, and authors. It’s also not too late to apply for a clinic:

Fiction Clinic with Jim & Tracie Peterson
Nonfiction Book Clinic with Craig Bubeck
Speakers’ Clinic with Roy Hanschke

But do it now! (That’s a great motto for writers who are tempted to procrastinate.) The April 15 price has been extended through today, April 18.


Father, thank You for the ideas You have planted within us and for holding them and us safely in Your hands. Help us to believe, to really believe in You and the gifts You have entrusted to us and expect us to use to build Your Kingdom.

God never changes his mind
when he gives gifts
or when he calls someone.

Romans 11:29 GW

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As many of you know, the first book I wrote was “returned” (that’s a kinder word than “rejected”) 42 times over a five-year period. Finally, at the St. David’s Christian Writers Conference the 43rd editor expressed interest. A little over two months later, I signed a contract.

But what if I had not persevered? What if I had concluded that God  obviously must not have called me to write? What if I had given up?


  • Eight other books would never have been written or published.
  • I would have never known the joy of serving on the faculty of over 70 Christian writers conferences or giving my one- and two-day Write His Answer Seminars over 50 times across the United States.
  • The Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference that I founded would not be in its 34th year of ministry.
  • I would not have had the opportunity to begin directing the Colorado Christian Writers Conference 21 years ago.

I will always be grateful to my pastor who urged me to go to the St. David’s Christian Writers Conference. He answered my objection that we couldn’t afford it by paying my way. Friends stepped in to  take care of my two children. And the rest, as they say, “is history.”

But this is not about me; it’s about our amazing God who promises:

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

It’s about how He enables me to do what I could never do in my own strength. It’s about how He continues to transform my self-doubts and fear that I won’t measure up (after all, I’m only a high school graduate) into a dependence on Him.

This is my work, and I can do it only because Christ’s mighty energy is at work within me. ~ Colossians 1:29 TLB

So, what about you? If doors appear to be closed, or worse still you feel they have been slammed in your face, will you give Him your discouragement? Will you choose to trust Him? Will you listen to His still, small voice rather than the loud accusations of the evil one that you’re not good enough, smart enough, gifted enough . . . ?

Will you keep on keeping on in His strength for His glory?

Conference Updates


Registration is open for what I know will be another life-changing conference as Father God meets us on the mountain. http://Colorado.writehisanswer.com


More than half the faculty is in place. All the keynotes and continuing sessions have been assigned. I’m working to open registration April 1. To get an idea of the structure of the conference go to http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com, but please keep in mind that it still has 2016 information.

New WHA cover
“This book had a profound effect on my life. I have shared it with many folks. Thank you for putting pen to paper and teaching me how to listen for His voice. Bless you!”
                                             Nan Trammell Jones
For 25 years Write His Answer has encouraged writers.  An autographed copy is available for only $10 plus shipping. Click here for excerpts and to order. It is also available as an eBook through Amazon.com.

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I love watching Father work!

Presently (January 14) there are 49 on faculty for the May 17-20, 2017, Colorado Christian Writers Conference with more to be added. So far that includes 6 agents, 18 editors, 14 authors, and 11 other professionals.

I’m working on the brochure and have spent the afternoon beginning the process of updating the website. If we have your USPS address, you will hopefully receive our 16-page brochure by mid-February. I’m working to open secure online registration by February 1.

Pray for me, please. Even though this is my 21st year directing the Colorado conference and 34th year directing the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference it doesn’t get any easier. But then Jesus never promised following Him would be easy. What He has promised is always to be with us. We can trust that what He calls us to do, He will equip us to do.

I cling to His promises as the challenge of planning two conferences often threatens to overwhelm me and make me doubt I have what it takes. The hardest part, the same as with writing a book, is getting started. Well, finishing what we start is tough, too!

Do you feel called to “write His answer” and yet struggle with self-doubts? Truthfully, through working with hundreds of writers through the years, I find that those who really have a gift with words and a message that needs to be published are the ones most likely to be crippled by self-doubts.

I shudder when I think of how many times I almost gave up writing because my self-doubts were so loud and insistent. Why would anyone want to read what I wrote? What made me think that I could write for the Lord? I wasn’t qualified! How could He possibly use someone who was only a high school graduate? I felt ashamed and woefully inadequate.

How it must have grieved the Lord when I failed to see that the Cross turns my minus into a plus – when I believed the lies of the evil one instead of His promises. And how much time I wasted in my self-centered and selfish focus on my doubts instead of on the needs Father was calling me to address through the words He would give me if I would just trust Him.

Today I was reminded of the November 2010 ASSIST News interview, “Author of End Times Political Thriller Hits New York Times Best Seller List with His Latest Middle Eastern Novel.” Talking about the decision to write his first novel, Joel Rosenberg said:

Failure has a way of focusing the mind and I’d come off of ten years of political failure in Washington DC and I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m a Rosenberg, yet I am not a lawyer, a dentist, a doctor, an acupuncturist, a chiropractor, an accountant or even a stockbroker.

I’ve got no financial genes and I can’t do anything practical. I write ‘Op-Eds’ that people don’t read. I write speeches people don’t listen to; the only thing I know how to do is write and clearly badly. But these are my loaves and fishes and I don’t want to be a failure; I want to be a blessing.

So, I told the Lord, ‘I want to be a servant of yours, Lord Jesus, so could you take these loaves and fishes, limited though they be, and would you break them, and bless them, and somehow feed people with them.’

It was then that I got this idea of writing a political thriller; a Middle East-based terrorism story that would have the Gospel woven into it. I wanted it, as readers got deeper into the book, to see the spiritual temperature rise. But the problem was that I didn’t know how to write a novel as I’d never written one before. I’d never even taken a class on writing a novel and I didn’t even like to read novels. So that was a problem.”

Click here to read the rest of the interview. You’ll be encouraged.

New WHA cover
Are you struggling to see Father at work in your life? Are you battling self-doubts, writer’s block, rejection slips, procrastination? My book, Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers, has 33 chapters of answers I found during my journey of publishing 9 books and making over 1,000 sales to Christian periodicals. And to my amazement it’s been in print for 25 years! Click here for excerpts and ordering info.

Father, thank You for calling us to do what seems impossible and for Your faithfulness to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond as we choose to listen to You and not to our doubts.


Yes, I’m trusting Father will enable me to pull the Philly conference together, too. About half of the faculty is in place.

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Faith rockHave you been feeling overwhelmed lately? I have.

Two weeks ago we discovered mold in our bathroom from a leak hidden behind the shower wall. “How much is this going to cost?” I asked contractors, electricians, and plumbers.

In the midst of all this, I spent a day at the courthouse waiting to hear if I had been selected for a trial they anticipated would last six days. Thank You, Father, that I was not chosen! And thank You our USAA homeowner’s insurance covered $2,464 of the repairs after initially telling us it was doubtful we’d get anything. We’re still out over $2,000 with our deductible and work not covered, but it could have  been much more costly.

Stressful? Yes! Time consuming? You bet! On Friday our home was a scene out of ET with plastic sheeting from floor to ceiling between our bathroom and front door. Today the walls go back up, tomorrow the tile, and Thursday the grouting of the shower walls.

Tomorrow I’ll also spend over an hour in the dentist chair for a root canal of a top front tooth that is abscessing from tripping up one step and falling on a ceramic moose over a month ago. More unexpected expense, but thank You, Father, for helping me find a dental plan that will cover some of the cost.

So, yes, I’m feeling overwhelmed especially with the need to get the May 17-20 Colorado and July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conferences planned. I’ve finally got the spreadsheet of prospective faculty updated, but with over 450 names I’m even more overwhelmed.

The bottom line? Despite 33 years directing the Philly conference and 20 years directing the one in Colorado, the evil one is again pulling me down into the quicksand of self-doubt. And I’m feeling especially anxious this week with the need to sign the contract and pay the $2,500 booking fee for the 2019 (yes,  you read that correctly) Colorado conference.

I’m again experiencing a “crisis of confidence.” Perhaps you are too.

If a crisis of confidence is holding you back from the work you know you have been called to do, it’s time to acknowledge that it’s not self-confidence you need (and I need) but God-confidence. It’s time to learn what it means “to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power, instead of showing off [our] own power and abilities” (2 Cor. 12:9 TLB). And instead of running from opportunities to serve the Lord, we need to continue to focus on the “firm, tested, precious Cornerstone that is safe to build on. He who believes need never run away again” (Isa. 28:16 TLB).

Fear of failure, rejection, writer’s block, or not measuring up, can all create a paralyzing crisis of confidence. Read and reflect on the following antidotes to fear, noting how God is personally speaking to you.

Psalm 9:10
Psalm 16:8
Psalm 25:3
Psalm 34:4
Isaiah 41:10
Philippians 1:6
1 John 4:18

New WHA coverHow is God speaking to you through these passages?

I’ve devoted a chapter in my book, Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers, to the “Crisis of Confidence.” You’ll find it and several other chapters on my website at http://bit.ly/2h1qgs2.

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