Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God!"
On today's "Revive Our Heart" broadcast, Nancy Leigh DeMoss reminds us that we have GOOD news to share with this world. Are you weary of all the bad news today? Look up, and BEHOLD YOUR GOD.
Be reminded of the One who has all things in His hands.
Who has called you with an everlasting love,
Who knew you from the womb, before you were born,
Who is the same yesterday, today and forever;
Be reminded of the love of the Saviour for YOU.
To forget God in his glory and strength is to forget His love and care for you.
It is to falter from the wind and waves like Peter on the water.
Your life is the water, fellow believer.
Don't allow the wind and waves to frighten you, though at times they may be fierce.
Instead, BEHOLD YOUR GOD.
Accept his strong hand of help. Bask in the GOOD news that He is
ready and willing to help you across the sea of this life.
In fact, He knows precisely which direction for you to take.
He certainly has led me on my path! And I praise him for it.
Behold your God!
Saturday, December 26, 2009
(reprinted from the CAN blog --Christian Authors' Network)
When we're trying to find a place on a Google map, we zoom in and check out the nearby streets, so we know how many blocks to go before we have to turn left. But, with the focus so tuned in, we often have no clue where we are, relative to where we are going. We have to zoom way out to establish our location in the bigger locale--and once we see the freeways and neighborhoods printed on the map, we relax, knowing exactly where we are.
I propose that zooming out is the antidote to succumbing to despair when hard times overtake us. Some call it looking at the bigger picture. But I like this image of a map, because we can often recognize small landmarks around us--familiar stores and parks and such--but can't put them in perspective with the world at large. Those of us who know God's purpose for humanity and the hope He holds out to us have this magical "zoom" button at our fingertips. Anytime we want, we can just click on it and voila! We've pulled way back to a God's-eye view of our lives. The problem is--we often forget that little button is there.
What happens when we zoom out? We see things from God's perspective, from his sweeping view of time playing out over the ages. We understand a thousand years is only a day to the Lord, and as a watch in the night. Psalm 30:5 says "weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." Jesus is our promised morning star, the daystar that rises in our hearts. Why are we told this? Because the promise of the morning star is the promise of a new day dawning. God used a star to lead the way to the infant Christ And so, in this season, we need to remember the promise of this star, which is foretold to rise in our hearts (2 Peter 1:19). The Bible speaks of "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col 1:27). Do we ever really ponder this mysterious and precious gift--that Christ resides in our hearts--which is the promise of hope, a promise of glory.
So, as we weather more hard times to come--for there will surely be more--let's remember to zoom out. See things from God's view of time. Know that this "slight affliction" will pass and one day we will be with Christ and see him face-to-face. We are told to hang on to this hope, this anchor for our souls. May we be ever joyful in the midst of pain and sorrow, for the joy of the Lord IS our strength.
This article is reprinted from the CAN blog (Christian Authors Network).
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Have You Left Your First Love?
None of us try to leave the Lord out of this season, much less leave him altogether. But how easily we let our fellowship with Christ slip away! I certainly never plan on doing so. I keep my prayer time and Bible reading first on every "To-do" list I write. But there are days when it feels like just one more thing to check off instead of the delight, the relief, the joy, that it should be.
How about you? Take a look at this list from Nancy Leigh DeMoss and see if any of these evidences apply to you today. And then, if some of them do hit home, do something about it. Personally, I like to fall to my knees before Him and confess my inadequacy--not only for all the challenges I face in life, but even just in being an excellent follower of HIM. It's a funny thing, but once you confess it, it doesn't matter anymore! Jesus doesn't only love us when we please Him perfectly (thank goodness! How rare would that be?). The very act of asking His forgiveness restores us, and can bring back the joy we so delight in and need.
40 Evidences that you may have left your first love.
I pray this encourages you today to return to your first love--the lover of your soul.
Oh, not that you tried to leave Him, of course; but you could stand to move a little closer today to him, could you not? I know I can!
Oh happy day.
graphic by Viki
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
On days when I can't do a full post, I've decided to share something short and inspirational, such as a quotation. Here's one for today:
"The people who will really accomplish great things in life are those who are willing to discipline their lives, who maintain their health, their vitality, their efficiency through this process of rigorous disciplining of what they take into their bodies and what they do in life. It's a very important thing in terms of championship living."
--Bob Richards, American Olympic Pole Vaulting Champion
Sunday, December 13, 2009
E.M.Bounds: On Prayer
The more praying there is in the world, the better the world will be, the mightier
the forces against evil everywhere.
Prayer, in one phase of its operation, is a disinfectant and a preventive. It purifies the air;
it destroys the contagion of evil. Prayer is no fitful, short-lived thing. It is no voice crying unheard and unheeded in the silence.
It is a voice which goes inot God's ear, and it lives as long as God's ear is open to holy pleas,
as long as God's heart is alive to holy things.
God shapes the world by prayer.
Author of numerous books on prayer, here is one that is free online.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Happiness and Fun (Are Not Related)
According to theologian Dennis Prager, "Fun and happiness have nothing in common."
He points out that rich and beautiful people like Hollywood stars get to have loads of fun--luxurious vacations, expensive toys, elite parties--but yet many admit to having great depression, loneliness and emptiness. In short, they are not happy. What should have brought them joy instead left them high and dry.
I read one book about Princess Di (written by her former butler) and the depths of her unhappiness astounded me. Don't little girls everywhere dream of being a real princess? My youngest daughter sure does. But it is obvious that being royalty is not a shortcut to happiness, any more than other types of celebrity. (Sarah Ferguson would agree!)
So if money, beauty, fame and fortune--even royalty--do not bring happiness, what does?
Things that involve "considerable pain," says Prager. "Marriage, raising children, helping others, personal achievement"--things that take time, commitment, and come with a cost. These are the things in life that truly bring happiness--not the bells and whistles.
The good news is that you don't have to worry about the people who seem to have "all the fun." Beyond a basic need for rest and relaxation, having fun just doesn't hold water for us emotionally. It's like the broken cisterns the people in Isaiah's time carved for themselves, only to discover they leaked. They were trying to fill themselves up apart from God, but their "cisterns" didn't hold water then, and they won't for us, either.
God's solution is to come to him for his water, what he calls "living water." It satisfies. It brings happiness. It may lead us down a tough path involving pain and self-sacrifice, but we'll be all the better for it.
I'll take the living water anyday. And I can commit myself to spending time on the really important, though painful things in life, for they are the ones that give back a real reward.
Besides, the next time your kids want to go to Disney, you can just read them this post. Fun doesn't bring happiness. (HA! Kidding.)
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Life can be tough, there's no doubt about it. That's why I thought I'd share a link with you today from Nancy Leigh DeMoss about OVERCOMING. God puts trials in our lives, the devil tries to hit us when we're down, and the world can be a cold, cruel place. So take some encouragment. The Lord knows we must struggle in this life in order to grow, but He never intended for the difficulties we face to keep us down. Overcoming the world, the flesh and the devil is our heritage as followers of Christ!
Take a listen or read today's transcript from Nancy's teaching HERE. And hold your head up, fellow Christian, as you go about your day. We serve a risen Lord! The battle has been won.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
"Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him." Luke 15:1
If there was nothing else written about Jesus, this one verse alone would tell you something important. Thankfully, we do have a great deal else written so that we can put this into a better context, but this single verse is nevertheless phenomenal in what it tells us about Jesus.
1. Tax collectors and sinners--ie, the dregs of society at that time--were not afraid to come to Jesus.
2. They didn't feel condemned by him, as they would have by a Pharisee, for example.
3. They didn't feel so ashamed that they wanted to hide.
4. He caught their interest, and gave them hope. Why else would they go near an evidently religious person? Someone who would never be a compatriot in their deeds or lifestyle?
Contrast this to how these same people would behave around a Pharisee or Sadducee. These men were the "elite" of the Jewish faith. Their desire was to be seen and acknowledged as the holiest, the most reverent men of their time. They were the ultimate in respectability.
Sinners and tax collectors would most likely cower in their shadows, if not hide outright if they were seen approaching. Not that the Pharisee would bother to notice them, of course, because such people were not worth his trouble. If he did notice the sinner, he'd most likely bestow a sneering glare of disdain before turning away.
Jesus felt differently.
Somehow, he communicated this.
He appealed to them.
He loved them.
Do you know a "tax collector or sinner?" Are you showing love towards that person?
Maybe you ARE that person.
If so, come near to Jesus. He promises to never turn away anyone who seeks him. Anyone.
He does love you--just the way you are!
Does He expect you to change? Not without his help!
That's good news, people.
If you have a minute, scroll down and let the first song on my music list speak to your heart.
("How Deep the Father's Love.")
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
A Merry December Deal!
It's finally here! December: the "most wonderful," the blessed, the busy, the exciting, exasperating, merry time of year.
I love it.
Even though this is a devotional blog, I'm going to do something different and share my first promotion of the month here. I'm an author as well as a daughter of God, wife, mother and friend; so it is a part of my life that I run promotions now and then on my books. And it only makes sense, now that I've given it some thought, to include that here.
Like anything else in life, you can ignore this if it doesn't interest you--though I hope it does!
If you have readers on your gift list, I'm simply offering an incentive for you to consider giving my regency series as a gift to them. I'm going to randomly choose five people to get a FREE copy of Country House Courtship from among those who participate.
If you've already pre-ordered Country House Courtship, and you win a copy, you can go on and give it away as a gift, too.
FOR FULL DETAILS, see the "Latest News" area on the my website HERE. It's right on the lower right-hand portion of the home page.
Not only will you give a gift that has delighted thousands of readers, but you'll be helping ME out, AND you might win a free book as well. Of course I'll sign the books for the winners. But EVERY PARTICIPANT will get something from me in the mail. I guarantee it. You might get a signed poster of one of my book covers, a stack of postcards with my books on them (which I hope you'll share), a personal note from me with a card, etc. (WARNING: GIFTS ARE LIKELY TO INCLUDE CHOCOLATE!)
If you choose to take part, I look forward to sending something to YOU!
Full details, again, are HERE: http://www.LinoreBurkard.com
Sunday, November 22, 2009
With Thanksgiving coming this week, it's the perfect time to remember the blessings of life.
We serve such an awesome God and He gives us so much.
One of my pastor's recent sermons was about deep thanks, and how a Christian living in the light of Christ's sacrifice could never be without cause for thanksgiving.
In a very real sense, our degree of thankfulness is a thermostat to how "in touch" we are with God's judgment, which necessarily entails sentencing. If we know the judgment (that we are guilty, in one way or another) and we know the sentence: eternal damnation--it makes us eternally grateful (yes, thankful) for Christ's sacrifice for us. We are spared the judgment, the sentence, the very wrath of God.
Instead of trying to say in this short piece what he put so well in a sermon, I give you a link to hear Rob Turner, a Senior Pastor at Apex Community ( "A Gathering of Churches") here.
Give the subject just a few minutes of deep thought--and you too, will find yourself in a spirit of deep thanks.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Random Acts of Kindness
Reprinted from a blog post of Phyllis Zimbler Miller (with comments by me--in red) : )
Internet marketing is a subject that I usually discuss in terms of promoting your own brand, book or business.
Yet one of the things that I truly love about Internet marketing is the opportunity to commit random acts of kindness from the comfort of my computer screen.
Many of you know the concept of "pay it forward" - doing a kind act and not expecting any return except for the receiver of the kind act to do a kind act for someone else.
Internet marketing is a global opportunity to "pay it forward."
Actually, internet participation on most any level brings opportunities to pay it forward, if you think about it. Social networks, yahoo groups, any group you belong to, all come with some people who need help of some kind or another.
Watch for an opportunity today to offer help to someone as you go about your daily involvement on the web. I can just about guarantee you'll find one or more opportunities to commit a random act of kindness. In fact, the Lord brings us these opportunities, even if only because helping others is a wonderful boost to our own self-esteem and "happiness quotient."
Yes, sometimes you can commit a random act of kindness and the person returns the favor to you. But that is't the point. The point is doing a random act of kindness that, if you were in need, you hope someone would do for you.
I love how this is really an acting-out of the Golden Rule: "doing unto others as you would have them do unto you."
Thus I want to urge the readers of this column to spread their generosity through cyberspace whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Now I don't mean you should spend hours of [the] day trolling for people asking for free help.
What I do mean is, for example, if you see a brand-new person on Twitter ask the Twitter universe if she should add a bio to her profile, you reply to her and say "yes and add a photo too."
(Note that this type of reply can be done publicly. If it were a more sensitive question, a direct message might be required, which then requires that person to be following you. You could, of course, tweet a public reply asking the person to follow you so that you could share info with her.)
Answering this public tweet only "costs" you a couple seconds of your time, and it's the kind of random act of kindness that's great to commit.
If you think of cyberspace as a level playing field where everyone can join in the game (which I do), then keep your eyes open for opportunities to commit random acts of kindness.
Article reprinted from Miller Mosaic, LLC Power Marketing: http://www.millermosaicllc.com
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
THRIVING ON LESS
Today I'm simply sharing the availability of a free ebook, called, "Thriving on Less." My quiet times lately have resulted in a spree of reducing, eliminating and trimming of "fat" around the house. I haven't read this ebook yet, but I downloaded it, and the table of contents looks like it will help me declutter even more.
Here's the Table of Contents
1. A Simple Lifestyle
2. Focus on the Essentials
3. Thriving on Less, Not Struggling
4. Focusing on Enough, Not More
5. Make Small Financial Changes First
6. Look at Large Expenses for the Long Term
7. Changing Your Spending Habits
8. A Guide to Getting Out of Debt
9. Tools for a Frugal Life
Why am I focusing on cleaning when this blog is supposed to be "devotional?"
Because having a neat and orderly environment helps me focus on other things, including God. I just find it easier to pray when I'm not distracted or weighted down by a cluttered room. An added bonus is that I've recently discovered a thrift shop whose mission is to support other missions. Therefore, my giving results in helping missionaries whose call is to spread the gospel. That's what I call a win-win situation~!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
(Today's post is from John Piper's "Desiring God" blog. This topic is important to really understanding much of Scripture; as Piper says, it's a "principle." I think it's a vital one.)
Sometimes readers of the Bible see the conditions that God lays down for his blessing and they conclude from these conditions that our action is first and decisive, then God responds to bless us.
That is not right.
There are indeed real conditions that God often commands. We must meet them for the promised blessing to come. But that does not mean that we are left to ourselves to meet the conditions or that our action is first and decisive.
Here is one example to show what I mean.
In Jeremiah 29:13 God says to the exiles in Babylon, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” So there is a condition: When you seek me with all your heart, then you will find me. So we must seek the Lord. That is the condition of finding him.
But does that mean that we are left to ourselves to seek the Lord? Does it mean that our action of seeking him is first and decisive? Does it mean that God only acts after our seeking?
Listen to what God says in Jeremiah 24:7 to those same exiles in Babylon: “I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”
So the people will meet the condition of returning to God with their whole heart. God will respond by being their God in the fullest blessing. But the reason they returned with their whole heart is that God gave them a heart to know him. His action was first and decisive.
So now connect that with Jeremiah 29:13. The condition there was that they seek the Lord with their whole heart. Then God will be found by them. But now we see that the promise in Jeremiah 24:7 is that God himself will give them such a heart so that they will return to him with their whole heart.
This is one of the most basic things people need to see about the Bible. It is full of conditions we must meet for God’s blessings. But God does not leave us to meet them on our own. The first and decisive work before and in our willing is God’s prior grace. Without this insight, hundreds of conditional statements in the Bible will lead us astray.
Let this be the key to all Biblical conditions and commands: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13). Yes, we work. But our work is not first or decisive. God’s is. “I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
Friday, October 23, 2009
"A wise man listens to advice." Proverbs 12:15
How are you at taking advice? Could there possibly be anyone more qualified to give it than the One who made us? Yet, many Christians are wary of trying to hear God's voice for themselves.
Reading the Bible is the single most important way to hear from God. Since it is God's WORD, it follows that when you read and live accordingly, you are listening in the sense of obeying. When you "hear" the Word come alive in your heart, you are doubly "listening"--letting it speak to you at the core of who you are. However, there is still another way to listen to God, which is, during prayer and quiet Bible reading time to actually listen for God's whispers--personal promptings and urgings which you won't find elsewhere.
There are Christians who have been earnest believers for decades but have never experienced hearing just such a "God-whisper." Are you one of them? Admittedly, it takes faith. And, if you aren't already familiar with God and His Word, you can mistake your own wishes for the voice of God, so it's not surprising that some choose not to even try and hear a personal word for themselves. Generally, however, people who do not "hear" the whisper of God (and it may not be an audible voice), do not hear it because they do not listen for it. There are a few main reasons which prevent some from doing so:
A: They don't believe they can hear from God. If you simply don't believe that God can inspire your thoughts with his own, or yes, "whisper" to your heart, then you are very unlikely to have it happen. God in his sovereignty can choose for it to occur, but it's far more likely to happen in the life of a believer who lives in expectation of it. Faith ushers in the fact of occurrence.
B: They've never experienced it before. Just as people laughed at Noah when he said it was going to rain because it had never yet rained on the earth, some people scoff at the idea of listening to God simply because they've never heard him for themselves and don't think it's possible to. Often in life, we get what we expect; conversely, we don't get what we don't expect. We miss what others see, simply because they have conditioned their minds to be open to it; Which brings us to the third reason some people never will hear God's whisper:
C: They're secretly afraid to. What if God tells them to go be a missionary to Africa? On a less extreme note, what if God simply tells them to do something they don't want to do? What if their nice, ordered world is disturbed? If this is you, you are likely rushing through Bible reading and prayer, without getting still before the Lord. "Be still and know that I am God," is not one of your favorite verses. In a similar vein, some are afraid they will 'mis-hear,' and perhaps make a terrible mistake in life due to the misguided notion that "GOD SAID."
It is a good idea to be aware that this has happened to many well-meaning people. That's why the Lord also instructs us to consult "a multitude of counselors" on important matters. If your pastor, your godly friends, your spouse, or even your own inner voice is shouting "NO!" then it is unlikely you are following the voice of God, in a path that is controversial. Likewise, knowing the teachings of Christ and the Bible is a a safeguard against mis-guided ideas of your own invention.
Actually, the Lord is much more likely to gently encourage you in baby steps of growth that will lead you to become more like Him, rather than sending you straight off to Africa. Often, he wants to encouragie us in ways to use the gifts he has given us, things that will improve our lives and the lives of others; He may help you to focus on an important issue you've been ignoring or putting on the back burner too long. Another day, He may remind you of a relationship that needs healing, a step you need to take to initiate it.
Do some people abuse the notion that God speaks to his people? Absolutely. The person who constantly says, "God told me this," or, "God said that," (who wears green socks instead of black because "God" told him to) is likely mistaken. Great errors have been made based on someone's mistaken idea that "God" told him or her to do something. This is why a knowledge of scripture is vital for listening. The Lord will never direct anyone to do something outside of his revealed will in His Word!
The best way I know to "listen" for God's voice is to keep a pen and notebook with me during prayer and Bible study time. It is during those quiet times with the Lord that I get thoughts for the devotions I write. God is giving me the lesson, and I simply share it with you. So try it. Keep a pen and paper handy. Jot down the names of people the Lord brings to your mind while you pray, or during your reading. Be willing to stray from your own prayer list as the Holy Spirit reminds you of other needs. Often, I am reminded of unfinished business with a person, and sometimes I stop right there and then to shoot off an overdue email, or pick out the right card to send to someone later. I do this trusting that the Lord knows the important from the urgent, whereas I often confuse the two.
"Wise men store up knowledge." Proverbs 10:14a.
Next time you pray and read the Word, have a pen and paper with you. Make an effort to "listen" by asking the Lord to speak to your heart, and keeping an open mind. Then, see what happens! Use a notebook just for this purpose, and soon you'll be storing up knowledge-right from the mouth of God!
This article was first published on the devotional blog "Inner Fulfillment" by Linore Rose Burkard. "Inner Fulfillment" offers daily short devotions for Christians, by a group of talented writers.
Monday, October 05, 2009
WHAT DO YOU CRAVE FOR?
(NEW BOOK TO READ)
I just added this to my to-be-read list. [CRAVE: by Chris Tomlinson] I love reading about how other Christians experience God, as I compare/contrast their experience with my own. It's also encouraging and uplifting to see how the Lord works with other people in ways that can be at once both similar and unlike the ways He works with me. God is so cool in that He is knows us each so intimately that he tailors His dealings with us according to who we are, and our level of understanding. I just can't get enough of Him--which I guess amounts to a craving. What about you?
Do you have God in your life today? Got cravings?
Watch the trailer for the book (Click Here)
Today I hope to remind myself that when cravings for ANYTHING hit, the real need of my life is for more of God.
It's the real need of your life, too.
Have you reached that decision, yet? If not, consider getting this book. You have to start somewhere to explore the possibility that God is calling you, that He is real, and that He really speaks to His people. Not only is He 'out there,' but He wants to use each and every craving and need in your life to point you to Himself.
I pray you take the opportunity to read Crave for yourself, and let the Lord fill you up.
For more info on Crave you can also click on the book cover. For special music today, I couldn't figure out how to get songs by Chris Tomlin (the singer/musician who does such beautiful worship CDs) onto this blog, so here's a link to listen. Hear Chris Tomlin: Not the same guy as the author.
Monday, September 28, 2009
What Jane Austen and Thomas Aquinas Have In Common
This past weekend I gave a presentation for a local chapter of JASNA (The Jane Austen Society of North America) on the theme of "The Faith of Jane Austen." I don't wish to recap all of my points here, but I came across a statement by (St.)Thomas Aquinas which summed up perfectly what Austen's attitude about faith was, as expressed (0r not expressed, I should say) in her books:
"To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible." Aquinas
The first half of this statement was particularly true for Jane when it came to writing her books. She mostly sidesteps the issue of religion, operating on the assumption that most of her audience were members of the Anglican church, just as she was. Being an Anglican in her day meant that you had familiarity with (and implicit agreement with) the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Faith, which school children had to study. Certainly, all of the genteel class, like the Austen family themselves, would have been thoroughly familiar with the articles, (which summarize the beliefs of the church). Children, in fact, were supposed to memorize it in whole or in part, including some of the psalms and collects from the Book of Common Prayer--the primary book of reading for adherents. Anglicanism was the "Church of England," the state religion, and so of course Jane
assumed that most of her readers were familiar with its teachings.
Jane's thrust in her books was to go beyond mere "religion," mere elemental outward tokens of an assumed faith, to sift the motives of her characters. Like Christ, she examines the heart.
Religion was necessary, and church is mentioned in passing often enough so that we know, for instance, that Mr. Darcy attended services, as indeed, all of her sympathetic characters do. Even the ones she is critical of are assumed to do the same. Additionally, these issues didn't present challenges for her personally--Austen doesn't bother with elemental faith issues because they were settled for her (she was devout), but also because she didn't feel an explanation was necessary. The important thing was to know how deeply people were, or were not, living the virtues of a life based on that faith, on their religion.
She was not afraid to poke fun at clergymen or others who were hypocrites, as she had no fears of such undermining the validity of her beliefs. Such people were moral failures in one way or another, and Jane was particularly able to spot them, for she grew up surrounded by models of what true churchman were. She knew better than most, what a proper clergyman was; she had a father and two brothers who served as models; she had cousins and uncles in the profession; she had neighbours and friends of the clergy. She was surrounded by models, both good and bad, and she knew how to show both types in her fiction.
No less than three of her six major works have clergymen as their heroes.The other three have men who are as morally developed as a clergyman should be, at least by the end of the novel (Darcy, Ferrers) if not at the beginning (Knightley). (Edward Ferrers is not yet fully developed in his social manners, but he has behaved with undeniably heroic virtue.)
Every sentence I've written here could be expounded upon at length, and I wish I had the time to do it! But right now I don't. However, let me add that for most of her life, Jane did not like or approve of evangelicals, another reason her works are singularly NOT evangelistic in nature; but she had no less a sincerity of faith than they; and by the end of her life, she reassessed her position, saying,
"I am by no means convinced that we ought not all to be evangelicals, and am at least persuaded that they who are so from reason and feeling must be happiest and safest."
Note that "reason" and "feeling" are keywords in Austen. Reason and feeling=sense and sensibility, and only a balance of the two can make a person fully moral and actualized. One of Austen's themes is that decisions or behaviour based ONLY upon reason, or ONLY upon feelings, can be unfortunate at best, or disastrous at worst.
However, the person who acts upon a proper balance of both, (and with an implicit moral understanding based on their knowledge of God) will be acting wisely, and will get the best results in life.
During my presentation, I discussed how Austen always shows her sympathetic characters questioning their behavior (manners) based not on a modern idea of asking "Who am I?" but on the basis of who they are in society. This is an enormous distinction. In a sense it is, "to whom much is given, much is required." If you are truly noble, it is not your title that will determine it but your manners and actions. If you are truly Christian, it is not your outward vocation, but your motives and actions that will prove it.
I find myself thinking that Austen, in this light, has much to teach us today about the way we should live. Much to teach me. Who we are in society--our society, our personal circles of family, friends, and co-workers, should in large part determine how we behave. For example, are you a mother? Take care of your children. A wife? See to your husband. A manager? Treat those under you with compassion and mercy. The values in Austen's books will always be with us and always be relevant: they come from the Judeo-Christian ethic, the Bible.
This has been a jumble of thoughts about themes that I enjoy exploring in Jane Austen. There is much more to be said on any of them, of course. What about you? Care to comment? Have you found that the "manners and morals" of Austen have spoken to you in your life? I'd love to hear about it.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Note from Linore: Today's post comes from fellow writer Bryan Davis, which he shared on facebook. Be sure to read it all, as it gets better as it goes. : )
She is born with a passion to uplift, empower, and support. She is the mainstay and sail for the captain’s ship. She is the heat in the warrior’s resolve and the salve that heals his wounds. She is the heart that pumps vitality to every joint and sinew. Yes, she is a woman.
Every girl in existence has been lovingly fashioned—from her caring and sensitive brain, to her tender and compassionate hands, to her tireless feet—to be a pillar of strength and resolve. While she might not be a warrior who draws a sword, she is the healer who strengthens the warrior’s hands and heart. Without her, every weapon would drop in futility, every muscular arm would wilt, and every pair of tired legs would shuffle home in defeat, for the heart that drives the warrior forward has stopped beating.
Some young women choose to take up the sword themselves, to step out alone in the midst of darkness to carry a lantern to the lost, to battle oppression and bring relief to the abused and neglected, or to transport life-giving supplies to the destitute wherever they may be. Their partner is the Spirit of Christ, and their sword is His word. They must know Him well if they hope to shine His light and pierce the darkness without the help of an intimate human partner.
Speak the truth. Live the truth. Be the truth. Never let the faithless ones persuade you to abandon any of those three principles. Remember that you are an oracle of fire, as is every faithful follower of our Lord. For all true disciples possess the pure silver, purged of all dross, and the fire of God’s love burns within, an everlasting flame that others, even those who give lip-service to the truth, will never comprehend until you are able to pass along that fire from heart to heart.
Many girls will choose to partner with another in this pursuit, hoping to be the light, the energy, and the drive that pulses within the breast of another. Yet, some never discover what it means to be such a heart. They never learn the secret of the captain’s sail or the recipe of the healing salve. Why? Because they listen to a counterfeit call, a trumpet blaring a falsehood—that their beauty is a lure to capture rather than an inspiration to set free. The inner desire to help and support becomes a lust to take and own. The hope to hear words of affirmation that she has been a good and faithful helpmate transforms into a hopeless search for eyes that admire and lips that speak words of appreciation for her outward appearance rather than for the beauty of her soul. And such a search never ends in true satisfaction.
You, however, are listening to your creator’s call, a gentle voice within that whispers reminders of how you were really fashioned, to be a woman of virtue, of inner beauty, of priceless value. The trumpet announces your need to strut, expose, and seduce, while the inner voice sings of ways to dress your soul in virtue—to feed the hungry, cover those laid bare, infuse encouragement into the hearts of the downtrodden, and nurture the victims of poverty, disease, and abandonment.
As a young woman of virtue, you understand what will happen if you heed the trumpet’s call to lure with flesh and flair. You will draw attention, but from whom? Someone who values face and form but not the heart. He will take, use, and abuse. His desire is for his own benefit, because what his eyes perceive is a girl who offers to fulfill the cravings of his body, and he responds, not with love, but with lust for his own satisfaction. And when your flower of youth fades, he will not perceive value in your soul, and you will never achieve the holy union of hearts for which you were created.
If you listen to the creator’s call, you will suffer temporary loss. When you pour out compassion and pity instead of skin and superficiality, you will be considered old-fashioned, out-of-touch, a prude. Yet, within the fair bosom you are saving for a true warrior, you will be nurturing a heart of unspoiled beauty, for it has not been taken at a cheap price. It has not been hardened by a wolf who captures, abuses, and leaves. And with such a heart, you will be able to reach out and be the captain’s sail, the warrior’s reason for drawing his sword, and the soothing salve for hearts less whole than your own.
The heart of a woman is more precious than pearls, and a man of worth sees it as a priceless treasure. He knows that she is the energy that drives his purpose, and without her, the pursuit of his vision for God’s purpose will be sluggish indeed. For the honor of taking that heart to join with him in fulfilling that vision, he will give his life, his heart, and his soul. The woman who has prepared her heart for that adventure will never regret the small price she paid. Scorn fades, and satisfaction blossoms. Contempt crumbles to dust, and contentment rises in its place. Ridicule is forgotten, while refreshment of the soul lives for as long as the heart pumps its life-giving energy.
Whether you take up the sword yourself or choose to unite with a warrior, now is the time to live according to this standard. It might seem that you are walking the path alone, yet, you are never alone. The One who planted the heart within you will never leave your side, and He will continue to sing the song that fashioned you as a woman of virtue. Listen. It is there. You will have to tune out the surrounding noise, but the sounds of love and virtue will never be silenced, if only you know the Singer and His song.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
What Single Women Should Remember
Ariana Forsythe, the heroine in my first two books, (Before the Season Ends, and, The House in Grosvenor Square) is not the typical regency miss when it comes to the "marriage mart"; Why? Because she is not satisfied to look for a husband who is merely wealthy or titled, attractive or agreeable. Instead, like the authentic young woman of faith that she is, she bases her discrimination of "husband material" on 2 Cor. 6:14.
"Do not be bound together with unbelievers."
This one thing sets her apart from the vast majority of single women, not only then, during the regency, but today.
In the first book, the above verse is recalled numerous times, but I had no opportunity to really delve into the reasoning behind it, the reasons why God instructs his people to be separate, to marry only fellow believers. It is not prejudice, or whim; it is not because God wants to make life difficult for his people: No! Quite the contrary. Note the following reasons, all of which are given in the context of that injunction: Why should Christians only marry fellow Christians?
- Partnership "For what partnership have righeousness and lawlessness?" (2Cor.6:14b)
- Fellowship "Or what fellowship has light with darkness?" (Ibid)
- Harmony "Or what harmony has Christ with Belial? (2Cor.6:15a)
- Commonality "Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?" (2Cor.6:15b)
- Agreement "Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God." (2Cor.6:16)
Wow. Read those words again: Partnership, fellowship, harmony, commonality, and agreement. I don't know about you, but I certainly wouldn't want to enter a marriage that was lacking in any of these areas FROM THE GET GO. In other words, before you even have a chance to disagree on something, you are in disagreement. You are coming from opposite camps, as it were, and the degree of partnership is forever limited, forever handicapped, if your spirits are not both in the Lord.
Christian, you are a temple of God. You have the enormous privilege of being called into the fold of the redeemed. There are many, many differences to face in marriage, differences of temperament, of habits, of viewpoints in many things. What a tragedy if all of the natural differences we bring to marriage are compounded by the irreconcilable difference of SPIRITS!
According to this passage, when a Chrisitan marries, they bring into that marriage the Holy Spirit in them (they are a temple of God); the unbeliever also has a spirit, but it does not contain God. (In fact, according to today's verse, it is the spirit of Belial.)
Some that will argue that the person they are dating is so nice, so "good," even if they are unbelievers, that they must be acceptable partners. However, unless they know Christ, according to GOD, there can be no real partnership. Do you chafe against this? Do you yearn for marriage apart from God's revealed will (the Word)?
Trust him, my sister. He will bring the right mate for you in His time.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
This morning as I gathered my equipment for my quiet time, (pen, notepad, Bible, devotional book), I suddenly realized that there are only two things that are essential for an effective time with the Lord. Two things.
1. ME (YOU)
The astounding thing about this simple realization is that there is never an excuse for anyone not to spend time with the Lord, at His feet, like Mary. We have ourselves (for better or worse); and God is always with us. No matter how busy we are, we can stop at any time and spend at least a few moments with the Savior. This is not an ideal way to expect change in your life, for that requires intention, purposeful listening, studying the Word. But, at its essence, you have yourself, and you can put yourself in a position to seek God. (ie., on your knees, or butt in chair.) Silence around you helps (immensely).
The thing is, some people seem to think that if God is real, (and worth my time) then He'll have to do something to prove it to me. Send a lightning bolt. Invade my mind forcibly, or do SOMETHING really drastic because they are just not convinced He is there, ready to hear them.
Let's review the facts: God has already DRASTICALLY, ONCE FOR ALL TIME, taken these steps:
1. He CREATED this huge, amazing, intricate, beautiful, unfathomable world. The earth and all that is in it is a drastic proof of His existence.
2. He ENTERED His creation in the most vulnerable way possible to experience it as we do--"in every way tempted"--He was born through a VIRGIN (how's that for drastic?), became a wriggling, wrinkled, squalling infant: Very man and very God! I mean, that's drastic, folks! [All you software developers and game creators, it's like you turning yourself into pages of code, a piece of software, so that you could enter the cyberworld as a genuine part of it--putting yourself in the midst of the rest of that code--smack dab in the middle of it--(sort of; there's no perfect analogy to this single, drastic action that God took, because it was SO singular, SO unprecendented, SO compassionate--SO gosh darn DRASTIC--that nothing can fully compare to it in all the world!]
3. This next drastic action requires a small story: The gospels tell of a rich man who daily walked past a poor beggar, paying him little heed. He was too busy with his successful business, thinking of ways to manage his wealth (think: investments, new bank accounts). (Luke 16:20-25)
When he dies suddenly and unexpectedly, and finds himself in a terrible, torturous place, he begs for the poor beggar (named Lazarus) who he sees (surprise!) in the "bosom of Abraham," a euphemism for heaven--to give him a drop of water to help his terrible thirst in that dry and hot place he is in; (thinks of his own needs first). Then, he begs Lazarus-- who is now the one in the enviable position--to return from the dead, go back to earth and to his brothers so that they won't end up in the same horrible place as he has.
This is perfectly understandable; having discovered that his whole life was wasted on erroneous principles of gain and pleasure, he doesn't want his brothers (who he KNOWS are doing the same thing) to end up with the same result. So again he calls to Lazarus the beggar to go and warn his brothers. If one returns from the dead, he says, they will listen! He thinks that returning from the dead would be so drastic that it will get the attention of his hedonist family.
But what does Lazarus tell him? For one thing, it's impossible for him to go back; he's receiving his reward, and there is no way to return to earth. Secondly, and this is the most interesting part, he points out that even if someone were to return from the dead, his family still wouldn't listen. Hmmm.
How does he know this?
He knows this because Jesus has already raised two people from the dead. The other Lazarus, from Bethany (a twist of irony, that this man, who WAS raised from the dead, DID go back, had the same name); And He raised the young man whose mother was weeping for him, an only child, and restored him to life. Did these resurrections make people listen? Some, but not most.
IF YOU RETURN FROM THE DEAD, the rich man says, THEY WILL BELIEVE.
Jesus returned from the dead. He is alive today. Millions of people all over the world attest to this, and I am one of them. He changed my life, and continues to change me as I submit to Him.
You want a God who does DRASTIC things to show you He is real?
You got it!
The question is what are you gonna do about it?
Jesus entered the world of his creation by becoming like you, and then dying for you (through the drastically cruel method of crucifixion) and was raised from the dead. He lives again. These facts, my friend, are drastic.
Now, what will you do with this man/God named Jesus?
Monday, August 24, 2009
Who would have thought I'd find a lesson in my re-reading of Sense and Sensibility that actually dove-tails with themes the Lord has been keeping me focused on lately? Specifically, the importance of being a Mary in a Martha world. (If you scroll down, you'll see a few posts on this theme.)
In chapter six of S&S, just after we have been introduced to Lady Middleton, whose shortcoming is that despite being elegant and well-mannered, she is devoid of intelligent conversation, Austen says,
"Lady Middleton piqued herself upon the elegance of her table and of all her domestic arrangements, and from this kind of vanity was her greatest enjoyment in any of their parties."
Austen's point here is that Lady Middleton is wholly occupied, entertained, and concerned with the appearance and quality of her table--rather than the people surrounding it.
With her usual brilliance, JA recognizes that this is vanity.
We women love to rationalize our occupation with appearances, the beauty of our house, our cooking, as simply trying to do our best. We put pride in what we provide for our family, and in the way we take pains to decorate. This is natural and even necessary--to a degree.
Go beyond that degree, however, and it borders on nothing less than vanity.
There are times when I have been so worried about the appearance of my home that I have made the rest of the family miserable! Talk about getting priorities out of order--I get them completely backwards at times.
There's a magnet I've seen that sort of sums it up. It says: People Before Things.
It's also a good way to check my priorities from time to time. I ask myself, "Am I spending my time and effort more on people or on things? (the house, the shopping, myself, my goals, even my books)? Jesus' focus was always on people, not things. And he certainly has the right to expect us to put Him first--for he is not just "people", not just a person, but very God!
How about you? What makes it most difficult for you to put Him first, or to put "people before things" in your life?
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
This is a break from the usual. I'm running a contest for writers and want to spread the word, so today's post is not a devotion. Just FYI. If you write, know a writer, or want to start writing, read on:
PROMOTION FOR WRITERS:
ENDS SEPTEMBER 15:
Anyone who sends me (via email) proof of purchase
for one of my books from Amazon or Christianbook.com
(Or B&N.com, etc.) will be entered in a drawing to win an edit/critique of their manuscript, upto 300 pages, by me.
You can send me one chapter or a whole book (up to 300 pages) if you win, and I'll
give you my expertise for writing publishable copy.
The receipt must be dated from today through September 15th to qualify.
If you purchase more than one book, you will be entered more than once.
Each purchase is an entry.
My books are "Inspirational Romance for the Jane Austen Soul,"
Before the Season Ends,
The House in Grosvenor Square,
and the upcoming release, The Country House Courtship,
all published with Harvest House Publishers.
I have attached the links to Amazon, but you may purchase the books
from any online seller and still enter the contest (with receipt).
YOU MAY ALSO ENTER by asking your friends or family
to get a book. If they are not writers, you can enter with their receipt. Just
state that you are doing so, with their permission. Or have THEM send me the
email receipt with your name and email as the entering writer.
Likewise, you can enter FOR a writer you know! If you win, you get the pleasure of giving them the gift of a free edit or critique of their manuscript.
NO ONE LOSES. IF NOTHING ELSE, YOU GET A BOOK THAT HAS GARNERED MANY, MANY WONDERFUL REVIEWS. It's a mini-getaway of a read.
You do not need to write romance to enter this contest. I can critique or edit
any manuscript with the following exceptions:
NO gore, no horror, nothing rated R for sexual content. ( I probably don't need
to say this for Christian writers, but better safe than sorry! )
SEND ALL RECEIPTS/ENTRIES TO:
Linore (@) LinoreRoseBurkard (dot) com
Thanks and GOOD PROVIDENCE!
Monday, August 10, 2009
This past weekend I had the privilege and honor to be the keynote speaker for the wonderful writers, authors and poets of FaithWriters. It was so satisfying to hear people say they had learned much, and would be implementing many of the ideas and tools I gave them. I think the best part, however, was meeting new friends, and hearing how God was at work in the lives of others. I also enjoyed the opportunity to sit in on a few workshops given by other writers, and to hear Deb Porter give an interesting talk on the trends in the publishing industry of late. It's exciting to see God using others, and calling so many talents into his service!
We've all seen so many "Hollywood" Christians who are not genuine, or hypocritical, that it was a joy to give a workshop on "Creating Characters Strong in Faith." I think I"ll just give a really brief recap of some of the points of that teaching, since I know that many of you who follow this blog are writers:
FROM MY NOTES:
1. Writing a Christian Character Begins with Writing for the Lord.
Get with God and decide what your goals are for writing. Who is your audience? What message do they need to hear? Why are you writing this book? Are you convinced God is calling you to write? Having the answers to these questions will go far in giving you assurance and focus in your writing. Don't try to write a book for the whole world--that's impossible. Narrow your focus to the target audience you must reach, and write for that audience.
2. Writing a Strong Christian Character Requires BEING a Christian Character! You may be able to create all kinds of characters in your fiction without actually walking a mile in their shoes, but you will never be able to articulate properly the nuances of a personal walk with God, unless you are involved in one. How is your relationship with Christ? My characters can have experiences with the Lord that mimic things I've actually experienced in my walk with Him. Faking it will most likely end up giving your protagonists a wooden feel, rather than the ring of authenticity needed to make readers resonate and identify with him or her.
3. Writng a Christian Character Means Writing a Real Person--Flaws and All
Don't even think that a Christian character needs to be perfect--that would be fiction, indeed.
The only perfect person was Jesus Christ. You can give them the desire to be perfect in some way--this is human. But trying to make them superior to others will only come across as pomposity or hypocrisy. Having said that, however, do try to demonstrate that most Christians are sincere in their desire to grow in Christ; to be useful and helpful in life; to share with others the enormity of the love and grace they've found in the Lord; and to make themselves vessels of His love. Hollywood loves to portray Christians as less intelligent beings, or hypocrites. Use your writing as a chance to set the record straight. Are Christians perfect? By no means. But we haven't left our brains at the door, either.
Perfect Timing!: I JUST NOW got this email from a reader. This underscores the importance of drawing your characters as real people. This is what she said: "
I just had to drop you a line to thank you for Before the Season Ends! Such a joy to read! I get increasingly frustrated with the majority of Christian fiction's tendency towards predictable storylines, one-dimensional characters and sappy prose. Imagine my surprise when I found a book that not only spoke to my "Jane Austen soul" but had an engaging plot and a heroine that was neither a blameless saint nor a fiery bombshell that took offense at the least little thing but rather an all-together likable character. Thanks for the inspiration and, please, keep them coming!" C. Webb
4. To Write a Strong Christian Character, Write a Character-Driven Story.
Writers who craft plot-driven fiction seem to have a greater challenge creating believable protagonists. Ask yourself: Is my character taking actions that I need him or her to do simply to forward the plot? Or is their action a result of who they are, of their character? Just as you have goals as a writer, and a person, give your fictional people goals of their own. In addition to driving the plot, they can behave "in character," and not drive your reader nuts by doing things that don't jive with who they are. Personally, I can't finish reading a book if the protagonist acts like a plot-device instead of like a real human being. Don't let your creations fall into that trap!
5. To Write a Strong Christian Character, Write a Strong Character!
The bottom line in character creation is giving your protagonist individuality. This can take the form of quirks, eccentricities, passions that are inordinately strong for one reason or another--anything that makes them stand out of the crowd. Yes, you want them to be "real" which means, in some sense, ordinary. But never write them as ordinary! Our first view of your main character should include the extraordinary thing about them. How are they different? Why should we want to read about them? What is their problem? Get this done quickly so our interest is piqued right away.
My only caution in this regard is that you need to avoid OVER-doing it. Don't make someone ALL good or ALL bad. People are rarely black and white. The villain who is all bad comes off like a cartoon character. Eccentricities are great, extremes are dangerous.
There are many, many ways to write good characters, just as there are nearly endless workings of human nature. If you can't seem to write a real human being, who readers will see as living and breathing, go back to your goals. Get your goals straight, both for you as a writer, and for the protagonists in your book. Then, aim for that goal. Be sure to fill the path with lots of obstacles and road-blocks--believable ones, of course--and enjoy the journey!
Strong characterization takes a great deal of energy and focus, but the end result is a work that you can be proud of, and which will glorify your Lord.
photo courtesy of Lynda Schab, FaithWriter, fellow ACFW member, and lovely friend.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
"Only One Thing is Needed"
I still haven't left the "Mary vs. Martha" musings, and I am going over the same chapter in a devotional I read (Disciplines for Life: Steps to Spiritual Strength, by C.J.Mahaney and John Loftness)-again and again. Why? Because I still haven't "got it." I mean, deep down in my soul--The truth, that sitting at the feet of my Saviour tops all of the Martha activities I fill my hours with.
Rest assured that neither I (nor Jesus) are undermining all of the necessary tasks we must do in life-tasks that take us from listening at His feet. But if we do manage to "get it"--the listening part, that is--then nothing can take us from Him, no matter how much activity and busy-ness we undertake. We may not always be able to sit still like Mary and drink in His truths and love, but if we do it enough, and learn to hear him well, when it is time to go forth and be about our business in life, we will go forth fortified and stronger.
Isn't this the same as having a daily quiet time, you may ask?
Well, yes, and no.
Even our quiet time can be done by rote, filled with our own thoughts, and we can miss hearing His voice. Oh, have I been there, done that.
Other times we are so convinced that what we are doing is part of our calling, that we barely wait to hear further instructions.
Mahaney quotes Charles Hummel, who points out that one way to discern between the tyranny of the urgent vs. "what is needful," is in fact by careful listening.
"He impresses on our minds the assignments he wants us to undertake. THE NEED ITSELF IS NOT THE CALL...The call must come from the God who knows our limitations."
"It is not God who loads us until we crack..."
Did you get that? The need itself is not the call! If you're like me, you often mistake the two.
More next time.....
image from theframeitshop.com/Nathan_greene
Monday, August 03, 2009
What A Relief!
I love this statement:
"If the Lord is your Shepherd, that means that you belong to Him and you’re His responsibility. Whatever desperate, dire strait you may find yourself in, it is His job to care for you, so let Him be your Shepherd."
(Nancy Leigh DeMoss)
I don't know about you, but I often seem to get myself backed up into corners, where time is short, but my responsibilities are huge. I don't know whether it's because I have an ongoing, insatiable need for drama in my life that I manage to get myself into that same sort of "dire strait," (only with different circumstances) again and again. As an author, I try to divert that dramatic turn in my personality into stories in my books. But somehow I still seem to create circumstances where I have a great deal to do, or write, or organize, with little time to do it.
Oh, I had time enough--but somehow I frittered it away, with other 'worthy' endeavours, and now the thing I must do, is pressing on me.
Like a little lamb, I feel like I have wandered and got myself lost. What a relief to recall that I belong to the Good Shepherd, and that "it is his job to take care of me," and I can consciously choose to place myself into His care, and mercy, and grace.
I am consciously doing that today.
How about you?
"YOUR ROD AND YOUR STAFF, THEY COMFORT ME." psalm 23:4
Thursday, July 30, 2009
MARY Vs. MARTHA--REVISITED
Isn't it amazing how much can be wrapped up in a single scripture verse? Take the following, for instance:
"If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised." 1 Peter 4:11
Thinking more about Mary and Martha this week, (and how I tend to be such a "Martha personality") I couldn't help but wonder: Had Martha been serving with the strength God provided, would the Lord still have given her that gentle, earnest rebuke? I doubt there would have been any need to. Martha would not have opened herself to it.
When she went to Christ with her complaint, she was not seeking His strength. She was seeking, instead, to get Mary off her lazy tush so that she could bustle about and lighten Martha's load. Her eyes were on MARY and what she perceived as laziness; If she had been at all spiritually minded just then, she might have stopped to consider that mary was engaged in an important activity: She was actively listening to the Lord of Creation!
You could argue that maybe Martha didn't fully realize who Christ was; But she called him "Lord."
She tells him after her brother died that if He had only been there, he could have prevented the death. So she knows He is God.
Martha's problem, on that fateful day when her personal complaint was recorded for all of history, was that she wasn't thinking spritually--about God's provision--but only of herself.
Oh! As a mom in a household of seven people, I am often a Martha.
I look at my family and think, "Why aren't they doing more?"
If they were sitting at the feet of Jesus (or even reading their Bibles or praying) I could
handle it with peace, I think. But when they are watching TV or playing computer games, or reading, I believe I am correct in making them get moving to do their share.
Nevertheless, it sometimes feels like a tightrope walk: trying to remain conscious of the resources God gives me to be a mom and 'domestic engineer.' Or to discern whether I am falling into total self-reliance, forgetting to serve in God's strength. And what about the days when I look around and think, "Well, I don't have the strength to do all that needs to be done, so I guess it just won't get done," instead of seeking HIS strength.
Finding the balance of where I begin and end, and where God's help comes in, is not always immediately possible. For me, that is.
How do you do it? Will you share a story or incident, or your own take on this? I'd love to hear it!
PS: The text size refuses to behave and stay small. Does anyone else have this problem with Blogger?
photo from Fotosearch
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Have you ever noticed that when you start to pray you are sometimes instantly flooded with all of the urgent needs in your day? The things that must be done--right now! I mean, they can't wait another second! (At least it feels that way.)
Usually, I am prepared for this onslaught and can keep praying. In fact, the irony is that these things which seem so urgent are occurring to me just as I am praying, (and can get help!) which is twice the reason to stay solidly on my knees, or at my desk with my head bowed--and yet there are days when I succumb to that "urgency" and leave my Lord to "accomplish" something.
I firmly believe there ARE times to leave the prayer closet before you pray deeply, such as when you must take care of tasks which have been left undone--despite divine nudges. But these are few and far between. Some are:
- When unforgiveness has lingered, and you need to make something right. You may need to speak to that person, write a note, extend an invitation for a get-together, whatever the case may be. This IS urgent, for unforgiveness will come between you and your Lord and must be attended to. It is an ugly weed in your life and you need to get that thing at the root! (Asking for divine help to do so is wise, however.)
- When God has already been dealing with you to do a thing, and you have been dragging your feet. There are lots of reasons why we dread doing certain tasks in life, but if the Lord has already been dealing with you about something, then by all means, DO IT! Whatever the issue or task, it is not worth becoming a sin in your heart, which also comes between you and the lover of your soul.
- When other people will suffer from your absence. If your kids need you first thing in the morning, you must either get up earlier to pray unhindered, or take care of them first. Same for anyone else who is dependent upon you for their care or sustenance.
Monday, July 20, 2009
I'm Back from Recent Public Speaking
I loved meeting and speaking to the Women's Book Club of the First Baptist Church of Roanoke, VA. They put on a luncheon fit for a queen, and were the friendliest, sweetest bunch of ladies you could ever want to meet. What fun it is to be an author!
I spoke about the Faith of Jane Austen and Every Woman's Search for Romance, and we had a really fun time. They asked lots of wonderful questions about my writing and both Before the Season Ends, and The House in Grosvenor Square.
I signed books and spoke to the fun-loving ladies of the Lifeway Christian Store Book Club in Atlanta, GA. This group is run by Nora St. Laurent, who let me "listen in" while she and her girls spoke candidly about my books. I discovered that some of the ladies had really strong feelings about some of my characters, particularly Mr. O'Brien, who one woman called, "a weasel!" They also admired Mr. Mornay to my heart's content, and told how they adored Ariana. I felt like they were talking about my own children. It was SO enjoyable! Having dinner with Nora was also wonderful, as it was to meet my friends Sandi Andrews and Vickie in Virginia the week earlier. One of the most gratifying experiences for me (aside from letters from readers) is having made some wonderful friends like Sandi, Vickie and Nora.
Another new friend I've made is Mimi Pearson. She runs the WildCard Blog Tours for excellent Christian fiction, and after touring two of my books, we were ready to meet for real. We got to swim together, visit the Linville Caverns and take a small hike to the Linville waterfalls. What a treat.
In August, I'll be teaching two workshops at the FaithWriters Annual Conference in Michigan. Check it out!
I'm hoping to post more pictures of me with my other new friends this week, so stay tuned.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
"Through Scripture, creation, the church, and by his Spirit, God fills
the world with his voice. The only issue is, 'Are we listening?' "
C.J.Mahaney, Disciplines for Life.
How's Your listening, today? Have you taken some time to speak
to God and hear His voice? If not, take five and do it, now!
Sometimes, as the old song says, "It only takes a spark to get
a fire going!" If you're feeling lifeless, bring yourself to God and let
Him kindle that spark in you.
[Where have I been? Meeting my latest book deadline, and traveling, and entertaining company.
I hope you enjoyed today's little thought; I need so much time to be a wife to my husband, mom to my five kids, and manager of my home, that writing my daily devotions
was getting too time consuming--hence my "vacation" from this blog. My solution for now is that I'll be posting some "God-thoughts" a couple times a week or more--just a snippet from my devotional time with the Lord. I pray you will find them edifying, as I have.
It's good to be back!]
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Download A List of "Indispensable Ingredients for Life"
from Nancy Leigh DeMoss and
Revive Our Hearts Ministry. Just click HERE.
It's short and sweet like any good morning recipe should be; and free.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
“They want me to help decorate the church Saturday night, but I can’t even get my own house straightened up! What should I do?”
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: There are a lot of books and seminars on time management, but the best counsel comes from God Himself. I’m learning to submit my calendar and daily schedule to the Lord to seek His will for my priorities.
When interruptions come, I ask Him for wisdom to know whether they’re from Him or whether I should avoid them as unnecessary distractions. I try to remember Proverbs 16:3: “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”
There will probably never be enough time in a day for you to finish your whole to-do list. There definitely won’t be time for you to do everything everybody else wants you to do. But there will always be enough time for you to do everything on God’s to-do list for your day. When is the last time you asked for His direction?
With Seeking Him, I’m Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
[This post from Revive Our Hearts, with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.] I just love Nancy's brief daily devotions, and am happy to share them now and again on this blog--especially while I finish my latest book; which, by the way, I have just newly committed to Him. : ) What project or situation do you need to entrust to God? Do it now!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
How’s Your Self-Respect, Lately?
“A kindhearted woman gains respect.” Pro.11:16a
Ever feel like you’re not getting the respect you deserve? Some moms feel this way routinely, but lots of people suffer the “lack of respect” syndrome, from comedian Rodney Dangerfield to the biggest celebrities, to YOU. Are you frantically trying to “be more,” “do more” “be better” to gain respect?
What do you do when it feels like you’re giving your life in service to others and not getting the respect you deserve?
Here’s a few suggestions: (from one who’s been there, done that. I’ve got five kids, a hubby, and a writing career, so I know the temptation to feel unrecognized.)
1. Remember that Jesus Christ, our role model, did not get the respect he deserved while on earth. If God himself in Christ endured disrespect, then we should not be surprised that we will face it too. In addition, if HE could take it willingly, so can we. This doesn't mean you should be a doormat, or let people walk all over you. The apostle Paul always stood up for his legal and civil rights. It just means that if your work and calling are not properly recognized, that is no reason to lose hope or abandon the tasks.
2. Give yourself the respect you deserve and stop looking to get it from others. Here’s a trick: Ask yourself how it would FEEL to be properly respected. Really try to imagine this FEELING. Then, go ahead and allow yourself to continue feeling it. When you give to yourself what you need, you will not waste precious time and energy seeking it elsewhere. God provides us with good reasons to be proud of our lives. Mothering, being a wife, a godly friend, a godly employee; using your God-given talents and gifts–all are reasons for self-respect. But how often do you stop and really soak it in when you do a job well? Take a minute every day, if possible, to RESPECT your jobs well done. Ironically, if you do this, and truly respect yourself first, the world will be more likely to follow your lead and respect you, too!
3. Be Kindhearted. Just as Proverbs 11:16 says, a “kindhearted woman gains respect.” So be kind to yourself as well as others. What does it mean to be kindhearted? It means your ACTIONS are kind. That you are a forgiving person. (It isn’t kind to hold a grudge.) It isn’t kind to put yourself down. If your heart is kind, then your mouth will SPEAK kind things. It’s not enough to mean well, either. Don’t say, “Well, I didn’t MEAN to hurt that person by what I said.” Determine to be kind-hearted, in word and deeds.
If you recognize a need to grow in kind-heartedness, ask God to help you. He is the “author and finisher of our faith.” He will help you grow in this area! Respect, from yourself, and from others, will follow. The knowledge that you are doing what God has called you to do, will be enough.
Dear Lord, Help me to find my self-respect in You, first and foremost. Teach me to receive the grace and kindheartedness that will open my heart to my own self-worth in your sight, as well as enable me to be kindhearted in my dealings with others. Grant me self-respect; and grant that I might grow in lovingkindness and good deeds, as you have foreordained for me. You are the Author and finisher of my faith. In Christ’s Name, I pray. Amen.
by Linore Rose Burkard. copyright 2008 Linore Rose Burkard. http://www.LinoreRoseBurkard.com