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Archive for the ‘Pondering Biblical Truth’ Category

Today is my birthday! Turning 75 is one of those sobering birthdays like my 40th. Hard to believe I’ve lived 3/4’s of a century!

A friend sent me a link to this hilarious video. What a wonderful example of creativity.

Happy Birthday, by Beethoven? Bach? Mozart? – Nicole Pesce on piano
https://bit.ly/2QJYBPX

I can only play simple melodies (sometimes in two-parts) with my right hand. But He’s given me – and YOU – other gifts. In fact, His Word promises in Ephesians 4:7 (TLB):

Christ has given each of us special abilities—
whatever he wants us to have
out of his rich storehouse of gifts.

Do you believe it? And if you do, are you using the gift(s) He has given you to further His Kingdom?

One day all those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior will stand before Him. I have no doubt one of the questions He will ask us is, “What did you do with the gift I entrusted to you?”

I have invested 37 of my 75 years in directing the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference (24 years directing the sister “Write His Answer” conference in Colorado). Each year there are more challenges – not, I believe, because I’m “over the hill” but because the evil one knows his time is short. My purpose continues to be

to encourage and equip writers
in all stages of their journey to write about
a God who is real, who is reachable,
and who changes lives
.

Father has given me the special birthday gift of enabling me to have the faculty in place for the May 13-16 Colorado conference. Last year at this time because of my husband’s fall and long recovery I had just begun planning. Our faculty includes 3 agents, 20 editors, 17 authors, 9 other professionals, and 10 staff. Nineteen are new to CCWC; 6 were not with us last year. You can see who is coming at https://colorado.writehisanswer.com.

About half of the faculty is in place for the July 22-25 Philly conference. See https://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com. Wednesday evening Liz Curtis Higgs will launch the conference by keynoting. Then, new this year, will be a full day of workshops on Thursday as well as Friday and Saturday.

If you’re not able to come to Colorado or Philly, I encourage you to check out the other Christian writers conferences around the nation. I believe attending a conference is the best investment you can make in your writing ministry.

You’ll find a list in the 2020 Christian Writers Market Guide. I have copies available at a discount (click here) or you can subscribe to the online edition. It really is a must-have resource as is a subscription to The Christian Communicator.

But the most important thing you can do to grow your gift is to grow closer to the Giver. In this new year I urge you to dig into His Word more deeply than ever. How else can you “write His answer”?

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Beyond the Manger

How tiny and helpless
how wonderfully human,
yet so mysteriously divine,
was the Baby born to Mary.

How great the promises
of who He was,
of why He had come,
of what He would do.

But did Mary know,
did Mary see,
beyond the manger—
to the Cross?

Did she know
that He would bear
our grief and sorrow,
be wounded and bruised
for our sins?

Did she know
He would be chastised
that we might have peace,
and lashed
that we might be healed?

This Christmas
will we be drawn
just to the manger
or also to the Cross?

manger cross

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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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Thank You, Father, that the answers we need are in Your Word. Help us not to believe the lies of the evil one but to live in faith and not fear because we know You love us and we know we can trust Your promises. And thank You, Father, that you do not edit my run-on and grammatically needy sentences!

Yes, this was published in 1983. And yes, I needed to read it again! Click here for a more readable PDF.

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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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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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Choices

Arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane,
You could have called on heaven’s armies;
yet You allowed them to take You captive.

Falsely accused in a mockery of a trial,
You could have denied who You were;
yet You convicted Yourself.

Physically and emotionally abused,
You could have struck down Your tormenters;
yet You remained silent and turned the other cheek.

On the way to the cross,
You could have thought only of Yourself;
yet You spoke with compassion to Jerusalem’s daughters.

Nailed to the cross and spit upon by the crowd,
You could have cursed Your enemies;
instead You prayed, “Father, forgive them.”

Taunted to “come down from the cross!”
You could have done exactly that;
yet You chose to suffer and die
that I might have the choice to live in You.

Marlene Bagnull

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Tomorrow we remember how Jesus rode into Jerusalem as the crowds cheered, “Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Yet less than a week later they shouted “Crucify him!”

Jesus entering Jerusalem

None of this caught Jesus by surprise. Indeed, we’re told in Hebrews 12:2 (TLB) that “He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards.”

Have you stopped to consider that you are the reason for His joy?

Years ago my pastor’s wife told me that if I was the only person on this earth, Jesus still would have come and died just for me.

We know that He is coming again but that He tarries because He does not want even one to be lost. And so He is calling you, He is calling me, to “Get His Word Out.”

An outline of this message – really a Bible study that I’ve given several times as a keynote – is available online. I hope you’ll download it and make time to prayerfully consider the passages.

This week as you focus on Jesus’ passion, ask Him how He wants to use you to share His love with those who do not yet know He loved them enough to go to the cross.

blessed

“Blessed is He
who comes in the name of the Lord!”
The crowd cheered and sang praises.
They waved palm branches
and threw their cloaks before Him.
But Jesus was solemn as He traveled that road –
that road to the cross.

As God incarnate He knew all that was to come.
He saw not just His own death on the cross,
but the persecution of His followers
and the destruction of Jerusalem.
He saw nation rising against nation –
the madness of yet-to-be-born rulers.
And Jesus wept.

He would be wounded and bruised for our sins,
chastised that we might have peace,
lashed that we might be healed;
yet few would accept His gift of life.
The darkness of evil would continue to reign,
but the light of His love
would not be extinguished.

Entrusted to us,
His light will grow brighter.
A cloud of witnesses are cheering us on,
to daily take up our own cross
and follow Him closely.
Blessed is He who is coming – again!

Marlene Bagnull

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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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