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Archive for the ‘Pondering Biblical Truth’ Category

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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I know what I’m doing.
I have it all planned out—
plans to take care of you, not abandon you,
plans to give you the future you hope for.
Jeremiah 29:11 MSG

A lot of planning and even more prayer goes into each year’s Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conferences. And I try, really try, to not mess up on important details – details that often overwhelm me and make me question whether I really can hold it together.

Well, truth is, I can’t. But He can and does!

At the conference the person I thought I had asked to house Edwina Perkins Saturday night told me she couldn’t. God stepped in and provided the perfect person who blessed Edwina immensely even as Edwina was able to bless her.

But that wasn’t my only goof. You can imagine my embarrassment and panic when at the faculty/staff dinner after the conference Sarah Bolme asked me where she was staying. I was certain I had her staying somewhere, but when I checked my lodging spreadsheet (that I hadn’t had time to update) Sarah didn’t have a host family. PTL my friend, Peggy, had not yet left.  So Sarah went home with Peggy. (Peggy and I, by the way, have been friends for almost 50 years and raised our children together. She is Aunt Peggy to my kids.)

But oops – again. When a couple from church came to pick up Craig von Buseck, I discovered that another couple from church were on their way to get Edwina. I had totally forgotten about them. I didn’t have their phone number, but the couple who had just arrived called the couple’s son and daughter-in-law who were on vacation to ask them to call their mom and tell her I didn’t need her after all. (Yes, this was getting complicated and, again, oh so embarrassing!)

But they had just pulled up to my house. “I’m not leaving until I’m certain we’re not needed,” Gladys said.

So she came in just when my good friends from Virginia, Tom and Sue Bailey, were on the phone trying to book a hotel. Instead, Gladys took them home with her and her husband and a “forever friendship” (their words) was formed.

The truth is God already has a plan when our plans fail. But often it’s only in retrospect that we see how God has been at work changing our plans into something far better.

About seven years ago the program I was using for the conference websites and my main website (I hope you’ve visited www.writehisanswer.com as well as the conference sites) was no longer supported. I moved the site to MS Expression and was beyond frustration trying to push through the learning curve. I even paid an “expert” who couldn’t find the answer to the problems I was having.

Celebration Web Design.jpgBut God . . .

I got a call from Bruce Shank’s wife. If I remember right, Bruce had come to the Philly conference a year or two before and set up a table for SKWD, his website design and hosting service. Her routine follow-up call was the answer to my desperate prayers.

Bruce and Jonathan Shank came alongside to set up not one, but all three of my websites. What a magnificent job they did not just designing the sites but helping me learn how to make changes, add pages, and so much more. (Their EZ-CMS, Easy Content Managing System, really is EZ because it’s so similar to MS Word.)

Always, when I’ve had a question or needed something done beyond my skills, I’ve been able to pick up the phone and get the help I need. (Their goal is “to take care of all the ‘tech stuff’ so you can focus on your writing.”) In the six or seven years (we lose track) that we’ve worked together, they’ve become treasured friends and prayer partners.

Now known as Celebration Web Design by SKWD (they moved to Celebration, Florida), I send my friends to them knowing that they will be blessed with the same great help I receive. Check out the great sites they designed for:

Barb Haley – www.barbarahaleybooks.com
Facing Facts in a World of Fiction

Pam Halter – www.pamhalter.com
Writing, Editing, Serving

Karen Whiting – www.karenwhiting.com
Speaker, Author – Family, Faith, and Food

Carolyn Ruch, Rise and Shine Movement – http://riseandshinemovement.org
To protect children from sexual abuse. Carolyn is in my critique group. Her children’s picture books, Ana’s Song: A Tool for the Prevention of Childhood Sexual Abuse and Bobby Gilliam, Brave and Strong: A Tool for the Prevention of Childhood Sexual Abuse are available online to read/watch/listen to.

Lori Hynson – www.lorihynson.com
The SuperGal Syndrome – Breaking the Chains of Control, Pride & Perfectionism

Margie Vawter – www.marjorievawter.com
Speaking, Editing, Writing – Discovering Foundations of Truth

Dee Lundgren – www.deelundgren.com
Coaching and Counseling – Help, Hope, Healing After Loss

Vicki Chandler – www.hearteyes.net
Educator and author burdened for children who are ignored or bullied

I’ve been on the phone with Bruce and Jonathan several times since the conference and am absolutely THRILLED that the MP3s of the Philly conference are already available online. (You’ll find the order form at http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com.) Talk about service that goes above and beyond . . .

I just talked to Bruce a few minutes ago to ask if the special price he offered the Philly conferees could be extended to everyone on my mailing list. He said yes! So if you do not have a website, or if you have a website that needs to be redesigned, I encourage you to view the special offer (good through August 17) that you’ll find on the home page of http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com. And visit the sites above and the review the specifics of how Celebration Web Design helps authors expand their ministry at http://www.celebrationwebdesign.com/author.

Meanwhile, for any plans that aren’t working out quite as you had hoped, know that Father loves you and has something even better planned.

P.S. I thought you’d like to see Celebration Web Design’s

Statement of Faith

There is One true God: the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. God is immutable, infinite, and incomprehensible. God in His very nature is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. God created and has dominion over the entire world causing it to work for His purpose. God is holy, glorious, good, kind, merciful, jealous, a righteous judge, truthful, faithful, loving, and long suffering. God is known in three persons who are the same in essence and glories, the Three Persons are The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.

Christ is the begotten son of God. Christ through His sacrifice became the mediator for all mankind. No man can come to God except by Christ. Christ is the agent of all creation, sustains creation and is eternal.

The Holy Spirit is a helper sent from God, enabled to testify of Christ and truth. Through the Holy Spirit mankind shares in Christ, His blessings and God’s love. The Holy Spirit resides within the believer and by Him the believer is regenerated and renewed.

The Scriptures are the Word of God, free from error in the originals and completely accurate in every way. The Old Testament and the New Testament have been inspired by the Holy Spirit and are the one and only standard of faith and practice. Creation has been given to man as general revelation of God, but the Word is God’s specific revelation.

Mankind was created in the image of God. Mankind was given the right to rule over creation. Mankind choose to rebel against God through the actions of Adam, through his headship all men have fallen. No man except Christ has lived without sin and the wage of sin is death. Man, in his nature, is a slave to sin. Each man, not only receives the penalty of death by way of Adam, but also his own sin. Man is born fallen.

The Redemption of man is the work of Christ. “For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” Christ’s sacrifice was once for all and covers all sin. (1 Cor. 15: 20-22). By faith in Christ alone, a man is granted the gift of eternal life based upon Christ sacrifice atonement on the cross. Christ literally died, was buried, arose bodily from the dead and ascended into heaven.

The Church is the body of true believers who have taken on the qualities of Christ. The church is being prepared, by the Holy Spirit, as the bride of Christ for His second coming. The church exists as a witness to the Gospel.

 

 

 

 

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