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Be Prepared!

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!

I began this blog post on a bitter cold day in February. Now it’s mid-March. Still cold, but no snow. Keep reading and you’ll discover why it’s taken so long to post this.

Below is an excerpt from my book, Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers, that was first published in 1990 and is still in print in an expanded edition.

It is a bitter cold February day. As I sit at my computer and look out the window, I can’t help but daydream. A winter storm has encrusted the trees and bushes with a thick layer of ice that glistens in the bright sunshine. Spring seems a long way off. Wistfully I dream of golden daffodils and fragrant lilacs.

My thoughts wander to the vegetable seeds I planted yesterday in window boxes on my toasty radiator. Although they are weeks from sprouting, I’m already thinking how good it will be to have fresh, homegrown tomatoes, peppers, and cauliflower. The ringing of the phone brings me back to the present and, after a brief conversation, back to this blank screen. “Lord, what do you want to say through me?” I ask.

“Bear fruit,” I feel Him speak to my heart.

I sigh. For all my hard work this past month, I don’t feel I have borne much fruit. January’s mail was slow to bring acceptances or checks.

“I feel as if I’ve plowed and planted my garden, but nothing is growing,” I complain. “It’s not that I mind the hard work, Lord. But when am I going to see the fruit of my labors?”

“Have you forgotten what I taught you about abiding?”

I open my Bible to John 15:4 and read: “Take care to live in me, and let me live in you. For a branch can’t produce fruit when severed from the vine. Nor can you be fruitful apart from me” (TLB).

I think back over the past weeks and the many excuses I’ve made to shortchange my quiet time with the Lord. It’s no wonder my writing is not bearing fruit. I have been trying to do it in my strength instead of His.

Again the Lord reminds me that my relationship with Him is more important than anything I can do for Him. Then, in a new way, I also see the kind of fruit He longs for me to bear. Far more important than powerful prose or beautiful poetry is the fruit of Christlikeness.

“But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” I read from Galatians 5:22-23 (TLB). I have to admit that sometimes this fruit is sadly lacking in my life.

LOVE for the Lord and my readers is not always my motivating force. Too often I am caught up in the ego trip of seeing my name in bigger and better magazines. When editors do not accept my work, I do not feel very loving towards them.

My JOY is lost when I push myself to get manuscripts in the mail and measure my fruitfulness by the number of acceptances I receive in return. My PEACE is destroyed when I take my focus off the Lord and put it on myself – on my goals, my needs, my feelings.

My PATIENCE wears thin when things don’t happen as quickly as I want and feel they should. Instead of waiting on God and his perfect timing, I become discouraged and irritable. I say unkind things to the people I love, especially to my children, when they interrupt me when I’m trying to write.

GOODNESS makes me think of Paul’s words about Jesus: “He went around doing good” (Acts 10:38 TLB). Am I “doing good” through what I write? Using Lee Roddy’s acrostic, BERT, do my words really Benefit my readers? Do they Enrich them? Are they Relevant and Timely?

FAITHFULNESS. The Bible assures me that “the one who calls [me] is faithful” (1 Thess. 5:24 NIV). Therefore, I do not have to become consumed by the dollars and hours part of my writing – by the little I earn for the long hours I work. Instead, I can choose to trust His promise to supply all my needs (Phil. 4:19) and to remain faithful to my call to write His answer.

GENTLENESS, I learn as I look at the original Greek meaning of the word, is not just the way I treat others. The NIV Interlinear Greek-English New Testament translates it as “meekness.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says, “It consists not in a person’s ‘outward’ behaviour only; nor yet in his relations to his fellow-men. . . . It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting.” In other words, instead of almost demanding that God “bless” my ministry, I must surrender my desires to Him. I need to follow Jesus’ example and remember how He took on “the very nature of a servant, . . . humbled himself and became obedient to death” (Phil. 2:7-8 NIV).

SELF-CONTROL makes me think of discipline and my need to take control of the hours in each day, as well as my thoughts, feelings, and actions which often defeat me. I can choose to dwell on the positives and not procrastinate. Most of all, I can choose to relinquish control of my life to the Lord every day and trust Him to work in me and through me.

“Yes, I am the Vine; you are the branches,” I feel Him speak to me again through his Word. “Whoever lives in me and I in him shall produce a large crop of fruit” (John 15:5 TLB). He doesn’t say when, but He also doesn’t say maybe. Instead, He gives me the conditions. I must deliberately choose to abide in Him and submit wholeheartedly to His pruning of my motives and goals. I must take care to stay close to Him – to let Him live in me. Only then will my life and my words bear fruit.

Click here for a free Bible study, “Bear Fruit.”


Write His Answer by Marlene Bagnull is a “must-have” resource for any writer. It offers the perfect balance of practical tools, personal honesty, and insightful passages of Scripture. I was inspired by her wisdom and challenged to answer God’s call to write in authentic, life-changing ways. Write His Answer will help you solidify your calling and get to the root of insecurities may writers face.
Angela Donadio
Recording Artist, Blogger, Author
http://www.angeladonadio.com

For 30 years Write His Answer has encouraged writers. An autographed copy is available for only $10 plus shipping. Click here. You can save the cost of shipping by ordering $35 from the Write His Answer bookstore where you’ll find over 120 writing how-to books as well as the 2021 Christian Writers Market Guide – ALL DISCOUNTED!

Now, to share why it’s taken so long to post. I’ve been working on the 2021 Greater Philly and Colorado Christian Writers Conference! Due to the continuing pandemic, out of an abundance of caution we’re going virtual, but both conferences will be highly interactive and virtually amazing. The faculty is almost in place for both conferences. See who is coming by visiting https://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com and https://colorado.writehisanswer.com. And save the date!

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

When

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).

How

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).

Promises

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


This message is NOT political.

Yesterday I listened to the House of Representatives impeach Donald Trump. The impassioned speeches from both sides clearly portrayed how divided America is. Tragically, we are no longer the United States of America.

Again, this is NOT a political message. As I said in my previous blog, “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).

Only the Lord knows how this will end, but this I do know. He is watching, and He is calling America to turn back to Him before it is too late.

In his keynote address at the 2015 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, my friend Pastor Michael Gantt said:

“The sad fact for America is that
our sin has made God our enemy.
Because of the rejection of God and His Word
and because we have exchanged
the God of Life for the gods of death 
and perversion,
America is already under
the Hand of God’s judgment. 

“If there is no national confession of sin
and if we cannot find a heart of repentance,
a Holy God will complete his judgment;
either by the complete annihilation
or subjugation of what was once a great
and godly people or by rendering it
completely irrelevant on the world stage.”

Since 2015 Michael has keynoted every year at the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference and since 2016 at the Colorado conference. I had planned for him to keynote at both conferences in 2020 until I had to cancel them because of the pandemic.

I often post a link to Michael’s blogs because I am convinced he is hearing from the Lord. His latest blog, “Fully Exposed,” is a must-read if you love the Lord and our nation.

As Christ-followers we must repent of the ways we have failed to be “salt and light” and have been silent when we needed to “write and speak His answer.” But lest we add fuel to the fire, we must determine to follow biblical guidelines in addressing the issues dividing our nation.

  1. Pray for discernment and wisdom.
    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; he will not resent it (James 1:5 TLB).

  2. Search the Scriptures—and do not prooftext.
    The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right (2 Timothy 3:16 TLB).

  3. Ask the Lord to reveal and forgive your blind spots.
    But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults (Psalm 19:12 NIV).
     
  4. Overcome your anger.
    Bridle your anger, trash your wrath, cool your pipes—it only makes things worse (Psalm 37:8 MSG).

  5. Determine to be part of the answer—not the problem.
    Stop being mean, bad-tempered, and angry. Quarreling, harsh words, and dislike of others should have no place in your lives (Ephesians 4:31 TLB).

  6. Love don’t hate.
    Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst (Luke 6:27 MSG).

  7. Choose your words carefully and prayerfully.
    Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them (Ephesans 4:29 NLT).

  8. Strive for peace and pursue it.
    Try to live in peace with everyone; work hard at it (Psalm 34:14 TLB).

  9. Seek the mind and heart of Christ.  WWJD – What would Jesus do?
    And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father (Colossians 3:17 NLT).

  10. Trust the Lord. He is not surprised or unable to work good from all things.
    And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28 NIV).

    Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all (Proverbs 3:5-7 MSG).        

    Compiled by Marlene Bagnull, 1/9/21

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.”

A new year is dawning. There is no bright sun breaking through the dense clouds here in the eastern United States. The same as Christmas Eve, it’s gloomy and raining. If only it was colder so the precip would change to snow – bright white snow transforming the barren landscape into a winter wonderland.

But I can’t control the weather or all that has happened in 2020 – my husband’s cancer, the coronavirus, the political and racial unrest that is tearing our nation apart . . .

Will 2021 bring a return to “normal”? I doubt it! Yet this I know, God is with us. He has not and will not abandon me or you. But we must choose to trust – my word for 2021.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

As I look to the new year ahead, I am more convinced than ever of the need to “write His answer.” I remain committed to do all I can to encourage and equip you to “write about a God who is real, who is reachable, and who changes lives.” The ministry of the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference will continue, if not in person, than we’ll meet virtually.

What about you? If you attended one of the conferences in the past, did you make a commitment to “write His answer”? Have you kept that commitment, or do you need to renew it or make a new commitment? In faith will you seek His will and enabling to “begin the new year write”?

Have the “deadly Ds” of disappointments, doubts, and discouragement derailed your writing dreams? It’s time to dig deeper into God’s Word and read (or re-read) my Bible study for writers. Click here for excerpts. Order at a discount from https://writehisanswer.com/bookstore. Also available as an eBook on Amazon.

I just finished rereading your book Write His Answer for the third time and wanted you to know how much I appreciate your message. It continues to amaze me how I would read a chapter on a topic just when I needed it. God is good! And He is using you to encourage writers over and over again. Thank you for being His messenger. Jeanie Wise, Ohio

The hot-off-the-press 2021 Christian Writers Market Guide is a must-have resource for finding a place to sell what you are writing or locating an agent, an editor, a designer, a podcast, or a writing coach. This 482 page resource sells for $29.99, but through the Write His Answer Bookstore I am glad to make it available for $24.99 Your purchase is needed and appeciated. It will help with the ministry expenses that have continued even though the conferences did not take place in 2020.

Have you finished your book but have not (yet) been able to find a publisher? “For such a time as this” I believe God has provided the technology to go indie. While there are numerous companies you can pay to publish your book, I encourage you to build a team and do as much of the process as possible yourself. Everyone needs an editor, but you can learn how to typeset your manuscript and even design your cover or use a service such as Fiverr or 99 Designs. My “Grow Your Writing Ministry” seminar will talk you through the steps. And here are just a few helpful books available at the Write His Answer Bookstore.

Have you worked hard to get your book in print only to discover it’s even harder to sell it? Or maybe you’ve been approaching agents and publishers with your yet-to-be published book but you lack the “platform” for them to be interested. How can you build your platform and still find time to write? Is it even possible? Here are just a few of the books I recommend that you’ll find at the Write His Answer Bookstore.

Perhaps your writing project seems too big, too overwhelming, and you’re feeling stuck. Writing your testimony or a personal experience story is a good place to begin, and the audio workshops that accompany the book below provide “incredible storytelling secrets so that the stories of your life can make a lasting impact.” – Linda Evans Shepherd, best selling author and founder of AWSA (Advanced Writers & Speakers Association).

“Few have Marlene’s experience to teach writers and give them the tools they need to Write His Answer and to do it so well. These are practical items even experienced writers need reminding of, such as: have a clear focus, stay close to the Lord, search for truth, reflect (and journal) on your life experiences, stay humble, know your audiences—all of this to remind us that we, as believers in the Lord Jesus, are called to write His answer to those with so many questions. Written conversationally, this book invites you to take part in the work with a ready pen. ” Eva Marie Everson – Bestselling author; President, Word Weavers Int’l.


We’re likely to face continued challenges in the coming year. Jesus never promised it would be easy to follow Him, but He has promised always to be with us. Father, help us to keep our eyes on Jesus, to trust You, and to “write Your answer.”

God is our refuge and strength,
a tested help in times of trouble.
And so we need not fear . . .
Psalm 46:1-2 TLB

To the tune:
“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

It’s been a long and fearsome year
The covid pandemic has brought.
So many lives have been cut short,
Despite the battle they have fought.

We grieve, we mourn, we question why.
Oh God, have You abandoned us?
Yet in the darkness shines a light.
We must look up and choose to trust.

Immanuel, God is with us.
He came and He will come again,
And while we wait we’re not alone.
His Spirit with us will remain.

Strength for each day He has promised.
Upon His Word we can depend.
He knows, He understands our plight.
He is our Saviour and our friend.

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

Gifts that Matter

Christmas is just two weeks away. I’m just now beginning to shop for gifts. No trekking through the stores this year. Our daughter, who is a pediatrician, has had me and my husband on lockdown since February because we’re high risk for the coronavirus.

Deb has been seeing children with covid every day in her practice. Even though she sees those who have covid symptoms outdoors rather than in her office, a father who was not wearing a mask probably infected her the Monday after Thanksgiving. The weather was miserable that day with rain and tornado warnings. I always thought “neither rain nor snow” was the motto of the United States Postal Service – NOT what would be required of my daughter in her medical practice.

We were concerned that I might have been exposed because my granddaughter was here the next day. She wore two masks and I wore mine, but we were indoors and closer than six feet. So my husband and I started wearing a mask in our home and I slept in the spare bedroom. (Except for Philadelphia, our county has the highest number of covid cases and deaths in the area.)

Thank the Lord I have not gotten covid and Deb is recovering. But Christmas will be very different this year. We won’t be with any of our kids and grandkids. There will be no family dinner or opening of gifts around the tree.

Still, as I consider what gifts to purchase for family and friends, I’m grateful for all the gifts I’ve received this year despite the pandemic. Covid has not claimed the life of anyone I’m close to. Although financially things have been challenging, we have not needed to wait in long lines to get free food.

We are facing other challenges. My husband has recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer. While it’s in the early stage, his Gleason score is high so he will begin hormone treatments next Monday. In addition, we’re weighing the cancer risk vs. covid exposure to beginning radiation now five days a week for seven to eight weeks.

So, in the midst of this very strange year what gifts does Father want me to give to loved ones? And what about you? Have you finished your Christmas shopping? Let me encourage you to consider the following:

A special gift because of the pandemic is worshipping with Marty Goetz Tuesday and Friday nights, 7 p.m. Central. His “House of Worship” with his daughter, Misha, and wife, Jenny, has drawn me into the Lord’s presence and deeply ministered to me. Join us on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube. And for your gift-giving, visit www.MartyGoetz.com. You’ll find CDs and DVDs at special prices that Jenny will ship to you quickly. And as a gift to yourself, click here for a free video of their powerful latest release, “For Such a Time as This.”

God Is Big enough” says my friend Nick Harrison. “If you’re praying for a miracle, you can expect God to answer and provide you with real hope even in your darkest hours.” Nick is a literary agent and a frequent faculty member at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. He had planned to be at this year’s Philly conference until the pandemic caused it to be cancelled. Available on Amazon.

Written by my dear friend, Barbie Haley, who says, “In this crazy 2020 Christmas season here’s a gift that will bring peace and joy to those you love. These Christmas Carol Devotions remind us of the greatest gift ever – the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ! Send the gift of LIFE – the only REAL answer to the trials and suffering in today’s world.” Available on Amazon.

Yes, Father, thank You for the precious gift of Your Son. Help us to keep our eyes on Him this Christmas and every day of the new year.

His life is the light that shines through the darkness—
and the darkness can never extinguish it.

John 1:5 TLB