Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Psalms for Moms

The “new normal” has given me time to compile this volume of psalms that were published thirty to forty years ago. It should be available on Amazon in several days. Father, please use them to encourage many moms during the challenging days of this pandemic.

A Mother’s Day Psalm

Lord, You know how much I love my children

and how I long for my words and actions

to show it, especially when

I do not like what they are doing.

Give me joy in the everyday tasks

that are an essential part of mothering.

Help me to have Your peace

when the direction my children seem

to be heading in causes me anxiety and grief.

Teach me patience

when they don’t pick up their dirty socks,

and when they track mud all over

my clean floors.

Help me to be kind when I need to discipline them

for being naughty,

or I need to stand my ground on a heated issue.

Fill me with Your goodness

that I might be a worthy example for them to follow.

Enable me to be faithful to You

and to them by properly ordering my priorities.

Sensitize me to be gentle

when they are hurting and they come to me

for comfort and reassurance.

And finally, Lord, help me to be self-controlled—

to never, in a moment of frustration or anger,

do or say anything

that would cause my children to doubt

my deep love for them.

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Today 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 share His love with those who do not yet know He loved them enough to go to the cross.


“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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My tree is decorated.
Gifts purchased but
not yet wrapped.
I still need to bake our
favorite cookies
and my mother’s
famous coffee cake.

Our inflatable Christmas nativity, lights, and two deer are shining brightly outside. (It’s too cold to go snap a picture.)

My husband’s health is so much better after a mid-June trip to the hospital by ambulance in the middle of the night. (He said, “I think I’m dying.”) A new primary care / geriatric doctor has discontinued three of Paul’s meds. He still walks slow since he broke his knee cap and tibia over a year ago, but except for occasional “senior moments” he no longer gets so confused he doesn’t know where he is at. Thank You, Father.

I’m still managing to avoid knee replacements and my kidney and blood sugar numbers are improving now that the same doctor has eliminated a pill my previous doctor prescribed that I should not have been taking. I’ve lost a little weight but need to lose at least another 40 pounds. Please help me, Father.

Sharon, our oldest daughter has just had her right hip replaced. The surgeon said it went “great,” but she’s in a lot of pain. Father, please place Your hand of healing on her.

The rest of our family and grandkids are all doing great. We are blessed!

The other night we went to our oldest granddaughter’s concert at the high school. It ended with about 70 alumni joining the chorus and the director’s request that we stand for the “Hallelujah Chorus.” I sang along although I’m no longer able to reach those magnificent high notes.

I can’t help but wonder if this is the last year this “tradition” will be tolerated.

Our nation is gripped in a spiritual darkness that is rapidly intensifying. Will America be saved by a mighty revival that brings us to our knees at the foot of the cross? Or will we lose our freedom to proclaim the name of Jesus and be arrested and imprisoned for our faith in Him?

This may seem like dark thoughts for what should be such a bright and merry time of the year. But I can’t be silent. As long as I am able I will continue to use the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conferences to address the issues facing our nation and equip all who come to “Write His Answer.”

Father, thank You for sending Jesus. Help us, help me, to reflect His light and to share His love this Christmas and every day of the coming year.

A blessed Christmas to you all because He came and is coming again!

There are presently 38 on faculty for the May 13-16 Colorado conference and 18 for the July 22-25 Philly conference with more to be added to both conferences. Visit the websites to see who is coming, and save the date for what I know will be life-changing conferences.

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God Is with Us

This is not a pretty picture! The Rocky Mountains that I love were hidden by dense cloud cover the day after this year’s CCWC ended. And 15″ of snow was forecast – yes, in May!

I had planned to take those who had not yet gone home into Rocky Mountain National Park after church. We gathered in the lobby of Alpen Inn pulling chairs into a circle that kept expanding.

“We’ve come here knowing we are risking our lives to meet together,” I say. “Pastor along with his family were arrested when a portion of the Bible was found as his home was searched because of a tip from a neighbor.

“Many drop to their knees and begin to intercede. Someone else begins to quietly seek God’s strength for their pastor and his family through song. Others share a Scripture and a word of encouragement. They become the body of Christ ministering to one another as the presence of the Lord fills the place where they are hiding.

“Even if their pastor had not been arrested, he wouldn’t have come with a sermon, complete with PowerPoints, that he had worked on for several days. The worship team would not have had their instruments tuned and the songs planned and practiced.”

And so, I set the stage for what has been very special times of experiencing “church” for 24 years at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference as we allow the Spirit to lead.

Amazingly, by the time “church” ends, the clouds have parted and we are able to go up to the park in several cars.

We see herds of magnificent elk but no moose. The folks with Dick Bruso spot one. I am disappointed, but as always the grandeur of His creation fills me to overflowing with His presence.

But getting back to where this blog started . . .

Coming down from the mountain after CCWC, or from the high of the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference last Thursday through Saturday, or any powerful experience is difficult. For one thing, we are probably exhausted and thus more vulnerable to the attacks of the evil one. Especially if we’ve been away from home for several days, it’s hard to return to our daily routine. We want to hang on to the sense of His presence we felt, but again we’re ruled by the “tyranny of the urgent” and the expectations of others.

But God . . . as Beatrice Bruno reminded us in her closing keynote at both conferences this year. Even when, like the mountains hidden in clouds, we cannot see Him or feel His presence, He is with us. And even when snowstorms or, ___________________ you fill in the blank, threaten us, we can trust in His faithfulness.

Father, help us never to lose sight of those mountain-top experiences when we hear You speaking to us and to the commitments we make in response. Draw us close to You, keep us in Your Word, and bless us with rich and deep fellowship with others.

And the mountains were still there,
just as “Our God is with Us.”

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It’s been almost 30 years since Against the Night, Living in the New Dark Ages by Chuck Colson was published. He wrote,

“‘Dark Age’ is a strong term. I recognize that. Yet in recent years I’ve had a growing sense of storm clouds gathering on the horizon. . . . The forecast is foreboding. . . . We scan the horizon with unease.

We sense that things are winding down, that somehow freedom, justice, and order are slipping away. Our great civilization may not yet lie in smoldering ruins, but the enemy is within the gates.

“The times seem to smell of sunset. Encroaching darkness casts long shadows across every institution in our land. . . . We do face a crisis in Western culture, and it presents the greatest threat to civilization since the barbarians invaded Rome.”

If we have eyes to see, the moral fabric of our nation is not just unraveling – it’s being torn apart. How much longer can a righteous God withhold His judgment of a nation that has turned away from His Truth?

For 23 years the Colorado Christian Writers Conference and 36 years the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference has focused on the need for God’s scribes to “Write His Answer.” Michael Gantt, who is again keynoting at both conferences, says:

I urge you to subscribe to Michael’s blog at https://mkgantt.com and to read his post about the conference and why I’ve given him a standing invite to keynote. In part he says,

Writers have always been among the most feared by despots and dictators. Truth tellers have been imprisoned and executed, their writings banned and burned, their character brought into question by allegation and accusation. The written word is among the most powerful weapons of history. . . .

I realized this weekend that my part in standing before these conferences of writers and publishers is to represent the Word of God that it might not be bound; to communicate with a deep sense of urgency that we are not writers who are coincidentally Christians, but we are Christ followers who have been given a gift to write and that we bear a grave and dangerous responsibility to guard the deposit of truth that has been entrusted to us and to ensure above everything that the Word of God is not bound.”

At the May 2019 Colorado Christian Writers Conference we had workshops (available on CD) that addressed:

America at the Crossroads
The Rocks Cry Out
Speaking Life to a Culture of Death
Answering Christianity’s Critics
The Burden of the Watchman
Make Some Noise!

The August 8-10 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference will address the following topics. If you are unable to come, they also will be available on CD or as MP3s.

Keynote, Thursday, August 8, 7:30 pm, open free of charge to the community.
We’ve grouped these 4 sessions (2.5 hours on Friday and 2.5 hours on Saturday) together along with the two keynotes and workshop so you only need to come part of the days and at a reduced price. See “For Busy Pastors” for registration information.
Keynote, Saturday, August 10, 8:30 am, free of charge.
Hour-long workshop, Saturday, August 10, 9:45 am. Free of charge.

It’s not too late to register, and walk-ins are welcome. (No registration is needed for the keynotes or workshop.) The conference is on the campus of Dock Mennonite Academy in Lansdale, PA (just off the Lansdale exit of the North/South PA Turnpike. In addition to the above, a faculty of 42 editors, agents, and authors will present 42 workshops, 7 continuing sessions, 5 keynotes, panels, and will be available for one-on-one appointments. For more info visit https://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com.

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For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn; he will never go back on his promises.

Romans 11:29 TLB

Writing for the Lord isn’t easy! No, duh. You’ve probably already discovered this.

When I first started writing, everything I wrote got accepted. True, they were only 200 word devotionals. (That’s not to minimize the value of writing devotionals. God uses them in special ways to minister to readers – and to writers.) Then I wrote some articles for Christian education magazines and personal experience stories for Sunday school take home papers. But then . . .

In a continuing class taught by Lee Roddy at the St. Davids Christian Writers Conference I made a commitment to finish, in a year, the book I had started.

I quickly discovered that making a commitment and making it happen are two different things. A month passed, and then several months as I avoided working on the book and instead focused on writing the short pieces that came easy. But suddenly selling them was no longer easy. Rejection slips started filling my mailbox and eroding my confidence.

A letter from Lee Roddy didn’t bring any reassurance. “Has it occurred to you your work is being rejected because you are not doing what you committed to do?” he asked.

Gulp. But how did God expect me to write a book, much less sell it, when I was dismally failing at what had once come easy?

One word at a time!

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

I had His promise. Now I needed to keep my promise.

I did finish the book and brought it to the post office exactly one year later. And then, as some of you know, God allowed my faith to be tested for SIX long years (and through 42 rejection slips) until an editor I met at the St. Davids Christian Writers Conference offered me a contract

What did I learn from this long and difficult journey? Lots of hard but important lessons. Here are just a few:

  • God’s ways and timing are not mine. “This plan of mine is not what you would work out, neither are my thoughts the same as yours!” (Isaiah 55:8 TLB).
  • I need to “go on growing in the Lord, and become strong and vigorous in the truth” (Colossians 2:7 TLB). He really is more interested in my relationship with Him than anything I can do for Him.
  • I need to study His Word so what I write is biblically sound as well as study the craft of writing and marketing. “Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won’t be ashamed of, laying out the truth plain and simple” (2 Timothy 2:15 MSG).
  • I need to be encouraged and to encourage others. “Encourage each other to build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 TLB).
  • I need to stay positive and not forget all He has done and is doing. “Let your lives overflow with joy and thanksgiving for all he has done” (Colossians 2:7 TLB).
  • And I need to keep the commitment I made and not give up. “And let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up” (Galatians 6:9 TLB).
Eric Sprinkle interviewing authors at this year’s Colorado conference.

For 23 years the Colorado Christian Writers Conference and 35 years the Greater Philly Christians Writers Conference has sought to encourage and equip Christians to live out God’s call to “write His answer.” Through worship and inspiring keynotes, classes taught by skilled authors and editors, the rich fellowship we share with other writers, and celebrating the hard-earned publication of books during our special Friday author’s night the conferences are a once-a-year booster to not give up.

CDs are available from the Colorado conference that is held every May the Wednesday-Saturday after Mother’s Day. A link to the order form is on the home page of the conference website.

It’s not too late to register for the August 8-10 Greater Philly conference at Dock Mennonite Academy in Lansdale although the price increases August 2 for late registrants and walk-ins. We cannot guarantee meals after today, and this is the last day to reserve a room at the Holiday Inn at the conference price. For more info and to register securely online go to https://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com.

Now glory be to God, who by 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

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The Wrong Speed

“Haste makes waste.” I remember my mother saying this, and it wasn’t original with her. It’s first attributed to John Heywood from his 1546 glossary. He wrote:

Som thyngs that prouoke yong men to wed in haste 
Show after weddyng that haste maketh waste.

John Heywood

My husband was 21 and I was 18 when we married in 1963. Despite Heywood’s words, our 55 years of marriage have definitely not been a waste. But I admit I’ve often learned the hard way that “haste makes waste.”

Click here for a more readable PDF.

I want to encourage you to “make haste” to register for the August 8-10 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. It’s a once-a-year opportunity that has launched countless writing ministries. You can find out more at https://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com.

Here are the seven workshops you can choose from on Saturday, August 10, from 9:45 – 10:45.

Michael Gantt is a pastor from Vermont who has a standing invitation to serve on GPCWC’s faculty because he is a man who hears from and speaks for God. He says, “There are some who see what others do not see, hear sounds others do not hear, and discern danger before danger reveals itself. Should he sleep, the loss of the city will stain his hands forever.”

Susan Baganz is another frequent GPCWC faculty member. As an editor with Pelican Book Group and author of author of 16 romance novels (contemporary and historical, and romantic suspense), she knows the importance of submitting a manuscript that shines. Discover the tools she uses that you can use too.

Catherine DeVries says, “As a push for diversity is reshaping the publishing landscape, the need for sensitivity awareness and sensitivity readers is on the rise. The number of books about ethnic characters has risen over the last few years. This workshop will address questions such as: What is a sensitivity reader? Does my project need one? What does a sensitivity reader do?”

Charles W. Christian is Managing Editor, Holiness Today and Grace and Peace Magazine. This workshop is a basic overview for beginners but also includes creative ideas for experienced writers in regard to overcoming obstacles.

JP Robinson, the CEO of Logos Publications, asks, “What happens after your book rolls off the printing press or you hit ‘publish’ on KDP? These days, both traditionally published and indie authors are expected to market and sell their own books. Every author has a message and the potential to reach the masses. Discover free to affordable strategies that will help you market to your full potential.” 

Emily Parke Chase was originally trained as an archaeologist but ended up as a counselor-advocate specializing in family relationships and abuse. She says, “God has an amazing sense of humor! Before, I repaired old pottery shards, but now I focus on gluing lives back together.” This workshop will focus on the importance of knowing your audience well – learning what they already know (don’t bore them) and what are their needs (challenge them to grow).

Debbie Hardy also serves on the faculty of the Colorado conference and stores our supplies. (Thank you, Debbie!) As a representative for ChristianDevotions.us, she will teach you how to write concisely, share your experiences, and, most importantly, touch hearts and change lives through devotionals.

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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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My husband and I went to dinner last week. The restaurant is under new management and has a new menu that left me overwhelmed. There were just so many yummy choices I had a hard time making up my mind.

The “menu” for the August 8-10 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference also offers a lot of choices that may seem overwhelming. Because I believe knowledge is power when making choices, I’m going to risk giving you information overload.

Below are the seven workshop choices for Friday, August 9, from 3:45 – 4:45. If you’ve already registered and chosen your workshops, you are not locked into your choices. If you are not yet registered, there’s still time before the August 2 price increase. Do keep in mind that our special conference rate at the Holiday Inn expires July 31, and meal tickets will no longer available after August 1. If you want to come but it seems impossible, remember nothing is impossible for the Lord.

If you want to know what God wants you to do,
ask him, and he will gladly tell you,
for he is always ready to give a bountiful supply
of wisdom to all who ask him.

James 1:5 (TLB)

Terrence Clark has been part of GPCWC’s family for more than 10 years. It’s become a tradition for him to open the first morning of the conference singing “Days of Elijah.” Terrence has a powerful voice and a powerful ministry. His workshop will help you find your life and ministry purpose and stay on course to reach not only your writing goals, but to discover your God-given destiny.

Michael Klassen, president and publisher of Illumify Media, is new to GPCWC. He has served as the theological reviewer for over 30 study Bibles. He says, “Knowing how to rightly handle the Word of Truth enables you to change lives without being misguided, mistaken, or manipulative. . . . The good news is, you don’t need to be a seminary graduate to incorporate God’s life-changing Word into your writing!”

Linda Howard is Associate Publisher, Children and Youth, Tyndale House Publishers. Her passion for bringing children to a deeper understanding of Christ drives her acquisitions choices. Helping authors to create products that start children on a path to spiritual maturity is a responsibility she takes seriously. Her workshop will give you the tools you need to track what is happening in the industry for yourself.

Barb Haley is amazing! She serves as GPCWC’s Registrar and Appointments Coordinator. I thank God for her. Barb is a gifted writer of fiction and nonfiction as well as wise and caring emails to our conferees. Her workshop is a must for nonfiction writers because, as she says, “Story connects emotionally with readers and illustrates our message in a visual way. Use it as a beginning hook, to reinforce points, and more.”

Karen Whiting is frequently on GPCWC’s faculty. She has a passion for encouraging and helping writers. I confess that the illustration at the right is misleading. Creating a book proposal is not easy or fun. But Karen’s workshop will show you how the proposal shapes the book and marketing, and that makes it a valuable tool even if you go indie. You’ll learn how to craft unique book descriptions, identify and analyze the competition, and lay out a marketing plan.

Michelle Booth is an Acquisitions Editor and Marketing Coach with EABooks Publishing. She has proven skills in formulating and executing marketing communication plans, creating and implementing PR campaigns, planning advertising campaigns, and orchestrating special events. Most writers, including me, struggle with marketing. I hope to sit in on this workshop and learn how to turn my marketing efforts into ministry.

Stephen O’Rear is the Associate Editor (since 2011) of Focus on the Family Clubhouse Magazine. He says, “I write  for the hopeless middle-school nerd in all of us.” He is the co-author of the children’s comic Captain Absolutely, four-time EPA winner for Best Cartoon. In his workshop Stephen will review the submission guidelines and content needs for Clubhouse and Brio magazines, Boundless.org, and other Focus properties.

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Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood.
Ephesians 6:11-12 NIV

The warfare surrounding the May 15-18 Colorado Christian Writers Conference is intense. Without a doubt, I know God is going to meet us on the mountain and empower us to “write His answer.” I also know the evil one views this conference (and the August 8-10 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference) as a real threat to his agenda.

I am so grateful for CCWC’s army of prayer warriors and the 10 pages of powerful prayers from our team that our registrar, Barb Haley, compiled. They were emailed to over 100 pray-ers. Click here if you would like a copy.

It’s not too late to register for CCWC, and I’ll waive the “procrastinator’s fee” if you mention this blog. Walk-ins are welcome. The 16-page brochure for the August 8-10 Philly conference is off press. Email mbagnull@aol.com to receive one (or more) if you are not on our mailing list.

As my good friend, Charles Patricoff, says, “Our nation is no longer sliding down the slippery slope. We are in a free fall.” He is teaching a workshop at CCWC on “America at the Crossroads.”

Friends, this is time to fully enlist in God’s army of writers and to “put on the armor.” I feel such a sense of urgency. “We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work” (John 9:4 NLT).

Please make time to read the “Put on the Armor” chapter below from my book, Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers, in print for 28 years.

My hands tied behind my back, I was dragged before a tribunal of cloaked men. They accused me of subversion against the government because of my faith in Jesus Christ. I could not deny the charges, for spread across the table were books and articles I had written.

The congregation’s singing brought me back to reality. Had I dozed off or seen a vision? I’ll never know for sure. But I do know the Lord spoke to me. “Do you realize, Child,” I felt Him say, “that the things you are writing may one day convict you? Are you willing to follow Me despite the cost?”

It was a sobering moment. I didn’t ask Him to give me a closer look at the titles of my published works. And I didn’t answer quickly or feel very brave when I finally said, “Yes, Lord.”

That was a number of years ago. Culturally, things were bad and getting worse; but Christians generally were seen as part of the answer—not the problem. We were not the frequent brunt of jokes on TV sitcoms and talk shows. Media coverage was not openly biased. Gays were not militant. People did not worry about being politically correct. The New Age was beginning to infiltrate some churches, but few discerned its danger.

Things are changing—rapidly. We can no longer ignore all the signs that point to the return of Christ. They challenge us to be actively involved in spreading the Gospel while the doors remain open to produce and distribute Christian literature. But we do need to count the cost. In a very real way, writing for the Lord puts us on the front lines where “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12 NIV). To go into battle without the “full armor of God” (Eph. 6:11 NIV) is dangerous.

“This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels,” The Message says. “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued” (Eph. 6:12-13). Having been defeated too often, I’m learning to pray on the armor every morning that I might “resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over . . . still be standing up” (Eph. 6:13 TLB).

“Lord,” I pray, “help me to gird myself with your belt of truth’” (Eph. 6:14 NIV). “Give me discernment that I might immediately recognize the enemy’s lies and half-truths. Help me to refuse to receive or believe them.” When a manuscript is returned and those insistent inner whispers threaten to defeat me, I buckle the belt of God’s truth more tightly around me. I affirm, often out loud, that the return of one manuscript (or dozens of manuscripts) does not mean I should quit writing. I know God has called me to write, but that is not a guarantee of accepted manuscripts. I must keep developing the gifts of writing and marketing and persevere.

The breastplate of righteousness (Eph. 6:14 NIV) protects my most vulnerable area—my heart, the home of my feelings and emotions. It is so easy for me to be wounded by others, to allow myself to be influenced by fear of what they might say or think. I need to be constantly vigilant against the temptation to compromise because “everyone else is doing it.” I cannot pad my writing expenses on my Schedule C. I cannot be careless attributing quotes or use copyrighted material without permission. Instead, I must handle every aspect of the business side of my writing in a way that honors the Lord. My first priority must be to bring glory to Him and not to myself. “Lord,” I pray, “help me today to consistently choose to do what is right in Your eyes.”

Putting on the shoes of readiness to share the Gospel (Eph. 6:15) protects me from the temptation to get sidetracked. There are often other things I can do and write that would require less time and effort, but if I am to be a soldier of the King, I must take my orders from Him. I need to follow His marching orders instead of asking Him to bless mine. When I walk in obedience, I find that my feet do not become bruised and weary from going places He never intended me to go. I also find that when I say yes to what He wants me to do, rather than yes to what others tell me I should do or what I feel they expect me to do, I am filled with peace instead of tension.

I prayerfully pick up the shield of faith to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16 NIV). I ask God to make me mighty in spirit—to help me to walk by faith, not by sight. I also ask Him to help me not to lower my shield by nurturing doubts. A soldier can be fatally wounded if he lowers his shield for only a moment.

The helmet of salvation (Eph. 6:17 NIV) protects my thought life. Each morning I thank God that I do not have to be bound by old habits and thinking  patterns. I ask Him to continue His work of transforming me by renewing my mind (Rom. 12:2) and giving me the “thoughts and mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16 TLB).

Finally, there is the one offensive piece of armor. It is with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:17 NIV) that we go forth into battle to confront the evil of our day. Doing so doesn’t mean we are supposed to hit our readers over the head with the Bible. Instead, I pray that God’s Word will so permeate my life that the principles of Scripture will be evident in all I do, say, and write.

“The enemy is within the gates,” Chuck Colson wrote in Against the Night (Servant Publications, 1989, p. 19). “I believe that we do face a crisis in Western culture, and that it presents the greatest threat to civilization since the barbarians invaded Rome” (p. 23). But God commands us to trust Him. Even when facing the spirit of the antichrist, we need not fear because “the one who is in [us] is greater than the one who is in the world” (l John 4:4 NIV). We need to “pray all the time” (Eph. 6:18 TLB) and to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Eph. 6:10 NIV) knowing that Jesus has already won the battle.

Responding to God’s Call to Write

Study Ephesians 6:10-18 in several translations or paraphrases. Ask the Lord to show you what each piece of the armor can mean in your life. List those insights below and begin to daily pray on the armor.

Belt of truth

Breastplate of righteousness

Shoes of readiness

Shield of faith

Helmet of salvation

Sword of the Spirit

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