Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

You believe God has called you to write, but how do you find time for everything today’s writers need to do in order to reach their readers?

A growing platform is essential if you hope to interest a traditional publisher. For those who choose to self-publish, it’s just as critical. Your book isn’t going to sell if you are not effectively marketing it through social media, blogs, vlogs, email newsletters, podcasts … You also need a professional website. 

Are you overwhelmed and frustrated by the time you need to invest in marketing – time you could be writing? 

The Internet didn’t exist when my first books were published. I had more time to write. Reaching my audience meant focusing on their needs not on sales techniques. I can’t help but wonder if today we’re focused more on selling than on the needs of our readers.

I wrote the following chapter 24 years ago for the second edition of my book, Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers. It’s available on Amazon as a print and ebook or at a discount at https://writehisanswer.com/writehisanswerbiblestudybook. I hope you’ll join us Monday evening, October 10, 8:30 pm ET (7:30 CT, 6:30 MT, 5:30 PT) as we focus on how to reach our readers.

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Reaching Our Readers

But the wisdom that comes from heaven
is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. . . .
It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere.
JAMES 3:17

Bill Hybels, in a chapter titled “Preaching to Seekers” in Communicate with Power (edited by Michael Duduit, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996, p. 74), says, “Much of what we have to do is attempt to speak to people’s brokenness, their addictions, their wounds, their victimizations.” The same holds true for Christian writers. We must show our readers how the Gospel is relevant to these very real needs if God is to use our words to make a difference in their lives. How can we do this effectively both in writing and talking to needy people? Here are a number of ways:

Avoid pat, simplistic answers to complex and serious problems. People who are hurting need more than spiritual Band-Aid™ bandages. We must not demean them and their problems by offering quick fix-its. Instead, we need to give them the gift of encouragement and one or two realistic steps they can begin to take in their journeys to wholeness.

Guard against a critical, judgmental attitudeParaphrasing an old Native American proverb, we should not judge anyone before we have walked a mile in his moccasins. Far too often, we pass judgment without having been there first. We write from the top of our heads instead of the depth of our hearts. Always ready to point out the shortcomings in others, we fail to extend the same grace and mercy God extends to us. 

     Perhaps subconsciously we feel our own sins are minimized when we judge others. Yet Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matt. 7:1, NIV). The Message says, “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment.”

     Harsh, judgmental words not only hurt, they push people away from the Savior rather than draw them to him.

Don’t lay guilt trips on your readers. We need to recognize that it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict readers of sin, not ours. When I compiled My Turn to Care—Affirmations for Caregivers of Aging Parents (Nashville: Nelson, 1994), I knew that many caregivers were already beating themselves up for not doing more for their aging parents and for not being more patient, loving, kind, etc. They didn’t need more guilt trips; they needed encouragement. Blanket statements and such words as “should,” “must,” and “you” in submissions were immediate red flags that almost always resulted in the return of the manuscript.

Be sensitive to needs and feelings. I remember the time a lay witness mission visited my church. Joyfully and exuberantly, they spoke of God’s healing of loved ones in response to their prayers. I wanted to rejoice with them, but my focus was drawn to a dear friend who had recently lost her husband. I winced as I thought of how their well-meaning witness was affecting her and the others. In the hushed silence, I could almost hear their anguish and unspoken questions: Why, Lord? Why didn’t you answer my prayers? Didn’t I have enough faith? Don’t you love me as much as you love these others?

     Jesus’ promise is not to save us from life’s difficulties but to be with us in them and to work good through them (Rom. 8:28, 35-39). Although miraculous answers to prayer are a powerful witness, remember that some readers may still be waiting for answers to their requests. Be sensitive to this fact and consider whether an example of God’s sustaining power may offer more encouragement. When we share how God enables us to cope with and rise above the painful realities of life, we are a witness to his awesome keeping power.

Be passionate but guard against being opinionated. There are many differing viewpoints and interpretations of Scripture among Christians. I have no doubt that when we meet the Lord face to face we’re all going to find how much we didn’t clearly understand (1 Cor. 13:12). Wise Christians do not present their opinions as the Gospel. We are not God.

Refuse to get drawn into foolish arguments. When our daughter was growing up, we were convinced she was going to be a lawyer. No matter what the subject, she’d always take the opposing view. Now that she’s an adult (and about ready to graduate from medical school), she has put away—at least most of the time—her need to assert her independence by arguing with us about everything.

    Some people never outgrow the need to pick and win arguments. The apostle Paul counseled Timothy: “Don’t get involved in foolish arguments which only upset people and make them angry. God’s people must not be quarrelsome; they must be gentle, patient teachers of those who are wrong. Be humble when you are trying to teach those who are mixed up concerning the truth. For if you talk meekly and courteously to them they are more likely, with God’s help, to turn away from their wrong ideas and believe what is true” (2 Tim. 2:23-25).

Be careful, and prayerful, to build up rather than tear down. Sadly, we Christians have earned the reputation of “shooting our wounded.” At the very time when those who have fallen need grace and mercy, we all too frequently forget Jesus’ words: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone” (John 8:7, NIV). Gordon MacDonald, a pastor who fell and has been restored and who now preaches the gospel of the “second chance,” said in a sermon, “We have come to love the subject of grace because along with repentance it changes lives and refuses to permit Satan the ultimate victory.”

Don’t compromise the truth, but also don’t force it on others. “Let your conversation be gracious as well as sensible,” Paul says in Colossians 4:6. Peter says that if anybody asks us why we believe as we do, we need to “be ready to tell him, and do it in a gentle and respectful way” (1 Pet. 3:15).

     Often we Christians are viewed as attacking anyone and anything we do not agree with rather than calmly and clearly, graciously and sensibly, presenting biblical truth. We need to be respectful (1 Tim. 5:1), speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), and be winsome rather than obnoxious.

Always remember the need for love and compassion. God loved the world so much that he sent his Son, not “to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17, NIV). Jesus had compassion on the weary and heavy-laden, the sick and the poor, the outcast, and the sinner. We can do no less if we hope to show them how God has called us, and is calling them, out of the darkness into his wonderful light (1 Pet. 2:9).


Read Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill in Acts 17:16-34. List below the needs he perceived his listeners had and how he addressed and sought to meet them.

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It’s been almost 40 years since the traumatic Christmas Eve I wrote about below. Thank You, Father, for bringing Your peace to these strained relationships and for the assurance that my mother and stepfather are now home with You. Please bring Your peace – Your shalom – to families in conflict. Restore estranged relationships and help us to love others as You love us.
~ * ~ * ~

How fast the year has flown, I reflected as I took the photographs off the mantle to decorate it for Christmas. A charred mark on the paneling behind one of the photos instantly reminded me of a Christmas when our home had been anything but peaceful.

My mother and stepfather were visiting. The relationship was strained, but we had been trying to keep the peace. On Christmas Eve the tension erupted into a bitter argument. The smell of burning wood stopped me from saying things I would have later regretted. A candle had tipped over on the mantle causing the paneling right near the thermostat to smolder. Trembling with fear of what might have been, I soaked the wall with water and later hid the damage with a photo. The damage in the relationship with my parents was not so easily hid.

Painful memories have a way of refusing to stay camouflaged. At Christmas we are forced to face the fact that all is not always “calm” and “bright” in our relationships with a brother or sister, a parent or child, an in-law or cousin. This season of joy can turn into one of misery as we have no choice but to spend time with people who go out of their way to avoid us the rest of the year.

When our homes are filled with conflict, what can we do to have “peace on earth, good will to men”?

1. Keep our eyes on the One whose birth we celebrate. The Gospel of John opens with the poignant words: “His life is the light that shines through the darkness–and the darkness can never extinguish it” (John l:5 TLB). The reality of that first Christmas was not just the angels’ song, but Herod’s decree that every baby boy two years old and under be slaughtered (see Matthew 2:16). The shadow of the cross was already hanging over the Holy Family as they fled to Egypt.

Jesus never promised us problem-free relationships, but He has promised to give us the wisdom to know how to love those who may be anything but lovable. Difficult relationships do not have to spoil the joy of Christmas if we follow Jesus’ example and respond with love and forgiveness.

2. Try not to put unrealistic demands on ourselves. Christmas Eve I typically am still racing to complete my “to-do” list. I end up too tired to enjoy Christmas much less to cope with difficult family members. We need to learn when to make a good night’s sleep a priority so that we’re able to handle added emotional pressures.

3. Avoid having unrealistic expectations of others. It is unlikely that people who have been less than pleasant throughout the year will suddenly become nice just because it is Christmas. Yes, I believe God works miracles, but it is just as great a miracle to learn not to set ourselves up to be hurt through our unrealistic expectations.

I cannot remove that charred area of paneling without replacing the entire wall, but it can serve as a reminder that if I want peace in my family, it must begin with me. Truly, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (2 Cor. 5:19 NIV). Because Christ came, we can be reconciled to one another.

The above article was first published in the December 1986 issue of Decision. It has been reprinted by Our Family, Messenger of St. Anthony, Christian Standard, Sunday Digest, Family Forum, The Gem, Live, and ASSISTnews.net.

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We Thank You, O Lord


We Thank You, O Lord
To the tune “We Gather Together”

We thank You, O Lord, for Your mercy and blessings,
Your love that we never can merit or earn.
Our praises we’re bringing to You on this Thanksgiving.
We worship You, O Lord -, our hearts for You yearn.

We need You, O Lord, in our lives, in our nation.
Our land You will heal if Your people will pray.
If humbly we’ll seek You and turn away from evil,
There’s hope that our- nation will see brighter days.

And so, Lord, we give You our praise and thanksgiving,
Our worries and fears we surrender to You.
We choose to rejoice in Your promise, Your provision.
We will trust You, O Lord -, for Your Word is true.

 Marlene Bagnull

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Did you have a happy day last Sunday celebrating our newest holiday, Birther’s Day? Seriously? What next?

I am seventy-six years old. Through the years I have watched our nation slide down a “slippery path” (Psalm 73:18). But as a friend says, “We’re now in a free fall.”

Like the frog in the kettle that keeps adjusting when the temperature is turned up, I’m deeply concerned that Christians have grown increasingly complacent and even apathetic. Yes, thank God I know that is a blanket statement. Not everyone has been too fearful to take a stand for righteousness.

As the director of the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conferences, that have become known as the “Write His Answer” conferences, we address the issues facing our nation and offer workshops to help writers incorporate biblical truth in their manuscripts, no matter the genre.

Last year Covid forced me to cancel both conferences. This year, out of an abundance of caution, both conferences are going virtual. What will next year bring? Only God knows. But as I watch our religious freedom eroding, I can’t help wonder how much longer we will have the freedom to gather together at a Christian writers conference or how much longer until God will allow our nation to destroy itself.

I do not think I’m being an alarmist, and I certainly do not feel I’m a prophet. With all my heart I long for our nation to return to the biblical principles upon which America, the “land of the free and home of the brave,” was founded. But I doubt that will happen unless there is a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit in response to the prayers of God’s people and our nation repents and turns back to Him.

I do believe that “for such a time as this” God is raising up an army of writers. This is my 37th year directing the Philly conference, my 24th year directing the Colorado conference. The urgency I feel to “encourage and equip you to write about a God who is real, who is reachable, and who changes lives” is stronger than ever. And so, rather than reduce the size of the faculty and offer less this year, I’m “going for broke” and have cut the cost in half. Plus, with going virtual, you save the cost of travel, lodging, and meals. If financially the conference is still beyond what you can afford, thanks to Cec Murphey’s generosity, scholarships are available.

I know finding the time to attend is difficult for many. But this year, everyone who registers will have access for two months to the videos of ALL 42 workshops, 8 continuing sessions (48 hours of teaching), 5 keynotes, and panels – at NO additional cost.

I urge you to register for either or both conferences. Registration for the August 26-28 Colorado conference opened yesterday, May 15. The price for the June 24-26 Philly conference increases June 2.

Unlike previous years, you can’t wait until the last minute to request appointments. This year, if you want to meet with an editor or agent, you need to request your appointments by June 1 for the Philly conference (August 1 for Colorado) and submit a one sheet and the first page of your manuscript by June 10 for Philly (August 10 for Colorado). For those wanting to meet with a periodical editor, you’ll find what they want you to submit with their bio on the conference websites. (The editorial needs have not yet been added to the Colorado site.)

New this year we are including pre-conference webinars and zoom meetings at NO additional cost to prepare you to make the most of your appointments.

Friends, NOW is time to “write His answer.” We cannot assume that the doors to publish and distribute Christian literature will always be open. As for the Internet, the freedom to share God’s truth is already being limited.

You may have heard me quote a friend who grew up in Switzerland before the start of World War 2. She said, “The church in Germany saw what was happening, but the church in Germany was silent.”

Father, please help us not to listen to the voice of fear. Give us courage to write, speak, and live Your answer. Show us how to “Make the most of [our] chances to tell others the Good News” — [how to] “be wise in all [our] contacts with them” (Colossians 4:5-6). And please help us always to demonstrate the love of Christ by our words and actions.

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Blessed Is He!

“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!

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Pray all the time

Jesus Prayed

For strength in the midst of the pressures of His ministry (Mark 1:32-35; Luke 5:15-16).

In times of decision (Luke 6:12-13).

With thankfulness (Mark 6:41).

In times of deep joy (Luke 10:21-22).

With faith (John 11:41-42).

In times of deep anguish (Mark 11:33-42).

For others (Luke 22:31-32; John 17:1-26).

The Early Christians Prayed

To strengthen and support one another in their confusion and uncertainty as to what lay ahead (Acts 1:12-15).

As part of the fellowship they shared with one another – their growth as Christians (Acts 2:42-47).

In the face of danger, praying with faith and expectation (Acts 4:23-31).

In times of decision (Acts 13:1-3).

In the face of persecution choosing to pray rather than worry (Acts 16:22-25).

For one another (Ephesians 3:13-21; Philippians 1:4).

Prayer in Our Lives Today


Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Why and for what

To praise God (Psalm 63:3).

For our needs (Ephesians 6:18).

For help in overcoming worries, for peace (Psalm 55:22; Philippians 4:6; 1 Peter 5:7).

For guidance and direction (James 1:5-8).

For help in daily tasks (Colossians 2:6; Psalm 37:5).

For freedom from guilt, forgiveness (1 John 1:9).

For others (Ephesians 6:18; James 5:16; 1 Timothy 2:1).

For those in government (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

For our nation (2 Chronicles 7:14).


In assurance (1 John 5:14-15).

Expectantly (Matthew 7:7-8; James 1:5-8).

In faith (John 14:13-14; 15:7, 16).

Free from anger and resentment (1 Timothy 2:8).

Together (Matthew 18:20; Colossians 3:16; Psalm 34:3).

Persistently (Colossians 4:2; Luke 11:5-10).

In line with God’s will (Ephesians 6:18; 1 John 5:14-15).

With thankfulness (Philippians 4:6; Colossians 2:7 4:2).


And when you draw close to God,
God will draw close to you.

James 4:8 TLB

He is close to all who call on him sincerely.
Psalm 145:18 TLB

Compiled by Marlene Bagnull
First published in Pulpit Helps, August 1980
Reprinted in Advance, January 1981

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For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies,
but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world,
against mighty powers in this dark world,
and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12 NLT

Yesterday was a day we must never forget. Watching a mob break into the Capitol and congresswomen cowering on the gallery floor was chilling and heartbreaking. Just as disturbing was the red “Jesus” flag.

Yes, many evangelical Christians, including me, voted Republican. But I did not vote so much for the man at the top of the ticket as for the platform. I voted to protect the lives of unborn babies, to preserve religious freedom, to support Israel . . .

I cannot fathom any true Christian would endorse what happened yesterday in our nation’s Capitol. That is NOT how Christians act – NOT how Americans act.

I do NOT believe the thugs who assaulted the Capitol were Christians. If any were, they were deceived and used by the “evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world.”

Just as Nero blamed the Christians for burning Rome, I fear Christians will be blamed for what happened yesterday. I fear there will be more violence as the evil one stirs up more and more anger to divide us and destroy our nation.

I’m reminded of Jesus’ prayer before He went to the cross.

I pray that they will all be one . . .
so that the world will believe you sent me.
John 17:21 NLT

Father, please help us to ask, “What would Jesus do? What would Jesus say?” Give us the courage to live, speak, and write Your answer.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere.
James 3:17 TLB

Continue to love one another,
for love comes from God.
Anyone who loves is a child of God
and knows God.

1 John 4:7 NLT

Click here for “Biblical Guidelines for Addressing Controversial Issues.”

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Click here for a PDF if this is too small to read.

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Urgent prayer request

For twenty-three years the Colorado Christian Writers Conference has been so blessed to call the YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park Center, our home. Sadly the pandemic prevented us from being there this May, but we are already contracted for 2021 and 2022.

Because of the pandemic and now the wildfires that are dangerously close to both the Estes Park Center and Snow Mountain Ranch, they need our prayers and our financial support.

 Estes Park Center  |  Snow Mountain Ranch   
Photo Credit: Justin Smith, Larimer County Sheriff

YMCA of the Rockies is experiencing extremely uncertain times as we navigate the threat of the East Troublesome wildfire to both of our properties – Estes Park Center and Snow Mountain Ranch. 

We safely evacuated all staff and guests from Estes Park Center property on Thursday, Oct. 22, after receiving mandatory orders from local authorities. Firefighters have accessed the campus and are actively creating fire lines and performing other protective measures to help hold the fire away from the property.

Snow Mountain Ranch remains under a pre-evacuation notice from local authorities. Snow Mountain Ranch is not open to guests but is hosting the fire teams bravely heading out to fight this fire, as well as our seasonal staff and staff who have been evacuated from their homes. 

Since the wildfires began we have housed and fed hundreds of firefighters so they can rest and return to their work protecting our facilities, homes and communities.

We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the love our donors, members, guests and friends have shown for YMCA of the Rockies. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. We are closely monitoring the East Troublesome Fire and are grateful for snow and cooler temperatures today that will help slow the advance of the fire and give firefighters time to put in extra protections. We will share more updates when they become available. 

Get current fire information:

Inciweb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6964/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CameronPeakFire/

As we face these uncertain times and as many of our neighbors’ homes and livelihoods are threatened, YMCA of the Rockies is committed to help where we can and to protect the well-being of our staff. Below are the words of Estes Park Center chaplain, Greg Bunton.

“On October 14th my family was evacuated from our home in Glen Haven due to the Cameron Peak Fire.  We found refuge at the YMCA of the Rockies as the fire swept through our neighborhood.  We have experienced many anxious days and sleepless nights in Tonohutu cabin, all the while giving thanks for the gift of family and friends, and life itself.  

“On Thursday, October 22 we were once again evacuated, this time from the YMCA of the Rockies as the East Troublesome fire grew near.  We are currently with family in Wyoming.

“Yesterday, we knew the fire was very close to the Y, and the Cameron Peak Fire in Glen Haven had increased again.  Once again, I found myself worried and anxious.

“I’m leaning on scripture, knowing that no matter what happens, God will be with us, in and through the fire.

“Houses are made of brick and mortar, timber and nails.  Homes, however, are made of family and friends, laughter and tears, hugs and handshakes, and most of all love – it is in these homes that God meets us. Fire may damage our houses, but it can’t touch our homes!  That’s the promise of God with us!”
Rev. Greg Bunton
Chaplain, Estes Park Center YMCA of the Rockies

Closing our centers means losses of up to $10,000 a day. And housing evacuee families – we have hosted 76 families between Estes Park Center and Snow Mountain Ranch – costs about $1400 per family/per week.

Will you help us face these challenges with an emergency gift today?

Your generosity will sustain YMCA of the Rockies during a very difficult time.

Make your tax-deductible gift at

 Estes Park Center
2515 Tunnel Road
Estes Park, CO 80511  
Snow Mountain Ranch
1101 County Road 53
Granby, CO 80446
(888) 613-9622  
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YMCA of the Rockies puts Christian principles into practice through programs, staff and facilities in an environment that builds healthy spirit, mind and body for all.  We will accomplish this by serving conferences of a religious, educational, or recreational nature; providing unifying experiences for families; offering traditional summer camping experiences for boys and girls; and serving our staff with leadership opportunities and productive work experiences.  

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Overcoming my disappointment in needing to postpone this year’s Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference because of the pandemic has been difficult. I had such exciting plans for our 37th year of ministry.

In case you missed my Facebook posts this week, I’ve offered several MP3s from last year free of charge. You can download them at https://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/2019Mp3s. While there, I hope you’ll decide to purchase the entire conference at a savings of 37%. Individual workshops can also be downloaded at 37% off.

Debbie Maxwell Allen taught a Thursday afternoon early bird workshop (T1) on Practical Productivity. She says, “If the lure of laundry, the fear of the blank page, or the siren song of social media stops you from writing, learn ten ways to write more, write better, and quash your inner editor.”

Last year Michael Gantt gave the opening keynote. Cry Mercy is a powerful message as is his book with the same title. It is also available for you to listen to free of charge. I encourage you to visit his website at https://mkgantt.com. Michael is speaking and writing His answer.

Last year Peter Lundell keynoted Saturday morning on Your Voice in a Hostile Climate. His message is needed even more today. Peter said, “In a society that is increasingly deceived and divided, our calling is to write in the opposite spirit. What does this mean, and how do we effectively and consistently do it?”

The need to overcome disappointments and problems big and small isn’t new to the pandemic. Below is a column I wrote for the October 1982 Christian Writer.


As I write [wrote] this month’s column, I’m waiting for the ophthalmologist to call. My little boy has an infection around his eye that’s already depleted half our savings for vacation. My two older children are less than sympathetic. It’s a blistering July day and they want to go swimming. I have a bad cold and sinus headache. My husband’s overtime has been cut. My best friend is angry with me.

The list could go on and on. I’m grateful that none of these current problems is serious. I’ve also experienced more threatening problems in various forms – health, financial, family, inter-personal. I am learning, however, that God is faithful and that He does work all things together for good (Romans 8:28).

I believe one of the ways God works problems for good is His enabling me to write about them so others may be helped and encouraged. This process begins by my writing my way through the problem. I do this in the form of a prayer diary. When I’m anxious or upset, its often difficult for me to pray. My thoughts keep wandering. I’ve discovered I can pray more effectively on paper. I also find that my prayer diary is invaluable later when I’m ready to write for publication and need to get back in touch with my feelings.

The readiness factor is important when it comes to writing personal experience pieces for publication. Writing through problems may be personally helpful as therapy, but rarely does it produce a salable manuscript. It’s only as I stand back and allow God to work in my life that I have the insights needed to make my experience helpful others. It is imperative that I remember I’m writing for them – not for myself. Their needs must be kept uppermost in my mind.

A ministry of writing from personal experience is not easy. I can’t go to the library one day and write my article or story the next. Instead I must stay close to God and look for the truths He reveals through both the minor irritations and serious problems of day-to-day living. Often they are discovered only in retrosect. Regardless, I must face life with the question, “How can I be an overcomer?”

Choosing to be an overcomer means I cannot ignore or suppress my feelings. I can’t tell myself or others that I’m fine when I really don’t feel fine. I must face my feeings and the probems that bring them about.

Being an overcoming also means I can’t become so introspective that I constantly dwell on my problems. If I do, I’m apt to convince myself I can’t cope. Sadly, those thoughts tend to become reality.

Instead, being an overcomer means recognizing, working through, and rising above my problems. It sounds good, but how do I do it? I don’t claim to have “arrived,” but I have found the following to be helpful.

Keep a balanced perspective.
The best way to do this is to heed the biblical principle that says, “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about” (Philippians 4:8 TLB). It takes self-discipline to focus on the positives instead of the negatives, which is the first step toward helping yourself and others get a handle on problems. Life is never all black. You can always find something to be thankful for, even if it’s just remembering that someone else’s problems are worse than your own.

Turn your eyes on Jesus.
If you’ll look to His cross and see the victory He won there for you, you’ll know that nothing need defeat you.

Tell the Lord your honest feelings and share your needs with Him.
It is only as I am completely honest before the Lord that I am able to find and share His answers.

Look for the good things God can teach you through the problem you’re enduring.
This is a crucial point for us as writers. We must learn to be constantly asking the question, “Lord, what are you trying to teach me?” The lessons learned in life’s crucible produce the most powerful writing.

Be still.
We’re often like little children, angry and frustrated because we can’t make something work, but unwilling to be quiet for even a minute to listen to our Father’s instructions. God doesn’t hit us over the head with His promises, any more than we should preach at our readers. God waits for us to be still and listen. We capture our reader’s attention by the credibility and sensitivity of our words.

Choose to use problems as opportunities to experience and display God’s power.
“Why does God comfort and strengthen us in our hardships and trials?” the apostle Paul asked. It is “so that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1: 4 TLB).

Develop an expectant, faith-filled attitude
as you learn to wait on God and praise Him before as well as after He answers. One of the best personal experience stories I’ve written was open-ended (although I don’t recommend this approach). It was about a serious financial crisis we were still in. It concluded with the words, “There is something about the inner peace – even joy – that I’m experiencing that is worth it all.”

Today, tomorrow, next week – life is going to confront us with problems, but we can learn to be overcomers. Like the apostle Paul, we can write living letters that will show, from our personal experience, the difference Jesus Christ makes.


I encourage you to ask Father is there is a personal experience He wants you to write about. My latest book (see below) is available through the end of July at 37% off because this would have been the 37th year of ministry for GPCWC. Click here to order an autographed copy from me or order from Amazon.com.

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