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Faith Imagined: January 2010

Faith Imagined

Alisa Hope Wagner: Christian Writer

January 29, 2010

Starting a Writers' Group

I started leading a writing group at my church about four years ago, and I am amazed by what God has done. Admittedly, my first inclination was to start a reading group, but our women’s ministry already had one. My women’s minister suggested that I start a devotional writing group. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Sure.”

Before this time, I had never written a devotional or led a writing group. I look back now and wonder, “What was I thinking? What made me think that I could create and lead a writing group?”

Luckily, I didn’t allow doubt and fear to kill God’s plan. God Knew what He was doing even if I didn’t, and I know that my act of faith has changed my life and has helped shine the light of Jesus to a lost world.

The Granola Bar Devotional Writing Ministry started as a small group of five women in my house. Now, this ministry has readers and writers from across the globe. In the beginning, the ministry was very fragile. I wanted to give up several times, and I'd hate to think about what would have happened if I called it quits.

For this reason, I want to encourage others who feel led by the Holy Spirit to start a writing group. The path of starting a writing group is different for each person, but I believe there are a few core principles that apply to everyone. I’ve gone on to use these principles in starting and leading many other writing ventures.

1) Be obedient to God’s will and way. Create a blueprint and purpose for your writing group, but be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Don’t be surprised if your writing group takes several turns and morphs into many new creations.

2) Start locally and start small. One of the best ways to start a writing group is with a handful of people around you. Invest time and energy into the lives of your writers, and your group’s roots will become strong. Once you have a solid group, God will slowly expand and grow it.

3) Don’t be a grammar know it all. Yes, it is important for the writing to look polished; however, much of grammar is subjective. Do your best to proof everything, but don’t get consumed by it – it will steal your joy. Allow your writers to have their own style, and don’t make changes unless the writing hinders the content and confuses the reader. Remember, God works His perfect will even through our imperfections. You will not catch every mistake, and that fact will keep you humble.

4) You will do the bulk of the work. Starting a writing group is not easy. Most of your work will be done behind the scenes, and your writers may not fully be aware of all you do. You can delegate a few things, but your writers will focus mainly on meeting deadlines and soliciting other writers. Though your responsibility is heavy, your reward will be great. God will make changes in you that you never thought possible, so be prepared!

5) Keep the emphasis on the audience. Your writers will most assuredly develop their craft while working in your group, but they need a higher purpose to keep them motivated. Always remind them that they are changing lives for Christ with their words. Whether they touch the life of one or the lives of millions, they are growing the kingdom of God.

6) Stay humble, but confident. If you feel unqualified to lead a group, find confidence in your anointing. If God has called you to start a group, you will become qualified over time. However, you must stay humble or else you will not gain knowledge. You do not have to act like you know everything because you don’t. Your writers will appreciate your honesty, and you will establish a learning atmosphere for your group.

7) Don’t give up! The beginning of every new creation is the most precarious. Stay in God’s Word and make time to consult with the Holy Spirit. There should be a “Holy Ease” in the process of starting your group. If you are frustrated and overwhelmed, you might be taking the wheel and putting God in the backseat. Let God lead and save yourself wasted time, energy and resources.

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January 24, 2010

Cinderella has Two Worlds

I’ve been struggling with the dichotomy of being a Christian. In my quiet time I read about how much God loves me, how much He values me and how much He wants to bless me. He is my Prince Charming who wants to sweep me off my feet and lavish me with all that He has. Ezekiel 16.8-14 gives an amazing image of God as our bridegroom vowing to enter into a most precious covenant of love with us:

"Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine. I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put leather sandals on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was fine flour, honey and olive oil. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign LORD" (The Message).

I have to be honest. When I read this, I feel very spoiled and loved. I know that God wants to establish each of His children as royalty and co-heirs with Christ. Whenever I feel ugly, unworthy or inconsequential, I like to meditate on these verses. They make me feel like a princess. It blows my mind that the Creator of all wants to enter into such an intimate relationship with me.

However, I leave my sweet quiet time with God and resume my life on this earth, and I don’t feel like a princess any more. . . . I feel like a servant in my tattered, threadbare rags.

I remember one particular day when I had such an amazing time with God. He filled me with so much joy, love and peace. He told me how much He wanted to shine through me and that He had a wonderful journey for me. I felt adored and valued! But then the clock struck twelve, and I had to leave my gown behind and finish mopping the floors and making dinner.

I was more than a little angry, and I asked God, “Why do You make me feel so special, and then send me off to serve this broken world and humble myself to everyone around me?”

God gave me the image of Cinderella and her two worlds. She is a servant by day and a beautiful princess by night. When her coach turns back to the pumpkin, she continues serving her family as usual, yet . . . she has a glow about her. The love that she received from her prince consumes her, and no matter the menial tasks (cleaning, cooking, working ), she has a smile on her lips and a song in her heart. She knows that one day she'll be living in her castle with her prince forever!

As God's children and followers of Jesus, we are "royal servants." Jesus sits at the right hand of God at the ball (Acts 2.32-33), but He kneels down at the feet of His followers and washes their feet (John 13.12)! Jesus is the ultimate example of this Christian dichotomy.

Jesus explained the importance of serving to His disciples: “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” ( Matthew 20.26-28 NIV).

But what is so important about serving?

Serving is the same thing as providing for needs. If you have plenty, you can provide for many needs. If you have lack, you can provide for very few needs. God is the only one who has everything. He is all sufficient. His needs are all met. Therefore, it stands to reason that to serve (provide for needs) is God-like and to take is child-like.

God made us in His image, and He allows us to serve the needs of others. Serving is our highest calling. When we serve, we are emulating our Father, the King of the Universe. But serving is exhausting, and we are only human. We will deplete our resources eventually, and that is why Cinderella's two worlds are so important. We serve and provide for those around us, and God serves and provides for us.

He takes us to the ball and spoils us. He replenishes us with His grace and fills us with His glory, so when the time comes, we can go back to the world and serve the needs of others. But there is a catch. You won’t be able to effectively and joyful serve others if you are not spending time with the King.

So slip on your pretty glass slippers and run to the King. He has a red carpet laid out for you, and He has asked the orchestra to play your favorite song. He’s ready to adorn you in jewels and embroidered gowns. And He has your favorite foods spread out for your enjoyment!

Go! Run to the King! He wants to spoil you!

1 Corinthians 9:19 (The Message)

"Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!"

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First Friday Fiction

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January 22, 2010

What is a Book Blog Tour?

Novelists are finding a new way to market their books. They are doing book blog tours. A book blog tour is one of the easiest ways to get your book more public exposure. You can reach hundreds of readers a day without leaving the comforts of your own home. They are especially perfect for the release date of a book, but they can be done at anytime.

All that needs to be done is a little homework. There are thousands of readers and writers who blog and read blogs. There are also several writing forums that boast a large follower base. Each blog and forum has its own circle of influence. If an author found a perfect path of key blogs to do a book tour, a crop of new readers would arise.

The following is an example of a key blog. This particular blogger writes Bible studies for her church of 6000 members. You can see her locally published Bible studies on the right side of her blog. She also provides a link to the church she attends. You find that she is on the leadership team of her women’s ministry. Moreover, she writes for several on line Christian writing forums. Each of the forums is listed under her associations. Lastly, she has a large follower list, and she has a lengthy blog roll that includes several other influential writers.

If this blogger would be willing to host your blog book tour on her blog, you could reach an unforeseen amount of new readers. One blog is an open door into new readers! Most bloggers would be happy to host a book tour. A book tour would add creativity to their blog, be of interest to the readers and make the publishing world seem that much closer to home. A book blog tour benefits everyone!

How do you do a book blog tour? Once you find the key blogs that you would like to tour, you can make the simple arrangements. Although the specifics may change with each particular blogger, a basic format can be followed.

1) Find your key blogs (go to writing forums, explore comments on high-traffic blogs, research on line book reviewers, etc.)

2) Arrange the blog tour date

3) Create 10-15 interview questions including the answers

4) Give a small synopsis of the author and book

5) Give clip art of the book and photo of author

6) Add a link to the author’s blog/web site

7) Have a signed book giveaway!

The signed book giveaway is very important. Every time bloggers comment on your book blog tour post, they get an entry into the giveaway. You can advertise the book giveaway on sites such as Tip Junkie. Allow the book blog tour post to stay on the blog for a week and then draw the winning entry for the book giveaway on the seventh day (you can find free random number generators online, like The blogger sends the mailing address to the writer, and the writer mails the signed book to the winner. Never underestimate the power of a giveaway. Bloggers love them.

This is an easy way an author can promote a book, and the bloggers will have a ball hosting them!

*The winner of the signed copy of Wayback by Sam Batterman is Alicia over at Life's a Journey! Congratulations!

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First Friday Fiction

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January 17, 2010

Strength in Weakness

I have nodules (calluses) on my vocal cords. Singers get these due to the stress of singing. These nodules cause your voice to sound breathy and hoarse. I grew up going to speech therapy, and my distinct voice sparked my immense fear of public speaking.

To my chagrin, God called me to public speaking. The week before my first speaking assignment, I was so consumed by anxiety and worry that I literally could not sleep. It got so bad that I imaged taking shots of tequila (I don’t drink) or slamming my head against the kitchen counter (I’m not a masochist).

Little did I know that my perceived weakness would force me to be innovative. I grabbed at anything that would divert my audience’s attention away from me. I learned and implemented computer software, utilized original visual aids, created exciting group work and interweaved the Internet into my talks. If I could just keep the minds of my audience continuously busy, then I wouldn’t have to worry about them analyzing me and my voice!

Flash forward ten years later. I completed a speaking assignment last night; and as I watched my audience members smile and laugh; discuss problems and answers; encourage one another and talk like old friends, I was amazed. This was our first meeting, yet my audience interacted like we had been meeting for years. Needless to say, none of them got bored or fell asleep! I spoke with confidence, and it felt good to know that I might be making a difference in their lives.

I realize now that I'm a pretty good speaker, and I'm also a very versatile speaker. My mind is constantly looking for ways to engage the audience and get them involved. My testimony about my speaking journey always blows people away. But really it is all to the glory of God because everything is from Him. The only thing that I added to the mix was my obedience. My obedience in my weakness caused me to be innovative and propelled God's strength in my life!

Working with a weakness is hard, but I’m reminded of 2 Corinthians 12.9: “But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” God gives us weaknesses for a reason. They push us out of our comfort zones and force us to look beyond what’s already been done.

If you feel God calling you to work inside of a weakness, be excited! He is about to do something amazing in your life. Though the path will not be easy, trust that God knows what He is doing. He will not ask you to do anything unless He has declared your victory. Repeat the following list out loud and take that step of obedience. Your weakness can become one of your greatest assets!

1. My weakness will cause me to be innovative
2. My weakness will give me a unique perspective
3. God will use my weakness to show His glory
4. God will do something new in my weakness
5. God gives me victory in my weakness
6. God gives me grace (supernatural favor) in my weakness
7. “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4.13 NIV).

Now go and change the world!

*On this note, I will be speaking at A Woman Inspired Online Conference which is being held March 14th - 18th. I would love for you to join us!

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First Friday Fiction

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January 14, 2010

Wayback by Batterman

Win a free copy of Wayback. See details below.
Christian novelist, Sam Batterman's, first novel, Wayback, is an enthralling speculative adventure about a time machine that brings several scientist back in time to the year 2300 BC. This expedition sounds far fetched on the onset, but Batterman does a great job of laying a firm foundation that makes the time machine and expedition seem logical.

Why the year 2300 BC? you might ask. This date is before the Great Flood. The scientists tried to go back further, so they could see their furry ancestors hanging from the vines; but the trips failed because there was nothing for them to go back to. Maybe the earth is not as old as we think. Maybe we didn't evolve from a lonely single cell. Maybe life is not just an accident.

Wayback is Case for Creation weaved into an exciting storyline. The readers get all the scientific evidence disproving evolution tightly wrapped in a can't-put-the-book-down exploit. What I like most about the book is that Noah's Ark isn't just a story for kids that makes cute decor for a baby's room. It is a real boat that was made by a real family in a world that had real problems.

I applaud Batterman for tackling one of the biggest lies in our culture today and replacing it with God's truth, a dash of wit and a heap of adventure.

A few of my favorite quotes From Wayback:

~ Neil looked up and examined the silver, luminous orb. Indeed, the moon lacked the familiar distinct craters and graying -- it was like a giant, flawless mirror reflecting the sunlight back to earth.

I like this quote because it illustrates that instead of evolving, we are actually de-evolving. Psalm says that the earth will "wear out like a garment" (Psalm 102.25-26 NIV).

~ Earth was created by God as a special, beautiful place
where His creation could choose to serve Him and fellowship with Him in a freewill manner, not as robots or slaves but as friends by choice and loyalty, and as family by position.

This is a wonderful description of God's love.

~ We don't want to stand out like Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy beaming into the Wild West."

This is just funny!

~ Troy followed the track down the length of the Ark, reaching out and running his hands across the inner support beams as he walked. He had dreamed of being inside Noah's Ark since he was a small boy in Sunday school, and now here he was, walking on one of the decks of the vessel that would save mankind."

I like this quote because it paints a picture in the readers' minds of the Ark. This helps the readers to have a go-to point in their brain (lexicon) that will help them to feel secure in believing in Noah's Ark and the other historical stories in the Bible.

Interview with Batterman

1) What made you write a book?
Well, God works in mysterious ways. In my job I do a lot of traveling. Back when I started Wayback, I was driving to Pittsburgh a lot (a 5 hour trip from Philadelphia). Ever since high-school, I had always wanted to write a book, but career and family and everything else pushed it out of the way.

On one particular day when I was doing that 5 hour drive, I decided to turn off the radio and the CDs and just think through a very strange, but fascinating idea that I had: “What would it be like to go back to the Pre-Flood era?”

As I drove, more and more ideas and characters came to my mind, by the time I was four hours into the trip I had to pull off at a service plaza and start writing down the ideas or I was afraid I would lose them. The vision of the book was brilliant and I tried to execute what I saw in my mind on paper to the best of my ability. It took two years from first sentence to publication.

2) How much life experience and research went into your writing?
A lot of the technology in the book is real and I work in the high-tech field, so much of that was easy for me. The research was very taxing and virtually every chapter required hours and hours of research. What was the landscape like? How many people would be alive? Where was the Garden of Eden? What was man capable of building and organizing? How did the Flood happen? There’s a lot of great work done on all these ideas and I wanted to coalesce it into an adventure story. There’s a real trick to taking science and research and making it digestible in a novel.

3) What is your hope for Wayback and its influence on our culture?
First, I hope the story is enjoyable and interesting. No one likes a book that’s boring. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but if they finish the book and the story makes them think, then I have accomplished something of substance.

Second, my hope for anyone that does finish the book is that they realize that we don’t know it all, but God does. Our children are taught that we came from billions of years of evolution and that we are an accident that eventually became optimized by the process of natural selection and mutation. So, we are basically mistakes, with no overall design. We live, we die, that’s it. There are no repercussions of our actions here and there is no truth, except for how we perceive it. Science can save us—it must, because there is no other way.

Then there’s the other side. What God describes in His word. We were designed to walk with God (literally). We didn’t start out simple, we started out more complex, more healthy—more optimized—if I can use that term. God loves us so much that He made us in His image and created this entire planet and universe for us to use and explore and to show his glory and power. We broke a rule and destroyed our physical and spiritual relationship with Him (our ability to walk with Him and for Him to be near us) and He devised a plan to restore fellowship by sending His son, Jesus, to die for us on the cross. Over-arching love and design (design even in the plan to restore us) is the story.

On the flip side, we teach our children in Sunday School that the ark was a crowded vessel with giraffes and elephants all crammed into a barely sea-worthy boat and a rainstorm came up. Is it any wonder that our children grow up and think of this as a myth? We can do better. We must do better.

4) How has God changed you through the path of publication?
Personally, I have a new appreciation for the book of Genesis and its importance to our faith. It tells us everything that science cannot: Who made us. Why we are here. What our purpose is. Where we are going. Why the world is the way it is (in every way).

Also, I have learned that we have a responsibility to use the media of this world to explore these ideas and share our faith. We have done this with printing presses, television and movie and music. We are doing this with books and still we see more media to leverage. We have the best opportunity of any generation to share our faith clearly and honestly with the world.

Buy your copy of Wayback at Amazon and check out Sam Batterman's website or his blog.

*If you comment on this post, you will be entered into a drawing to win a free copy of Wayback. We will choose the winner next Friday, January 22.

First Friday Fiction

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January 11, 2010

Santified Together Publication - Issue 1: Belt of Truth

The first quarterly issue of Sanctified Together Publication is out! Awesome writers from all over submitted articles for the publication! Our prayer is that you are encouraged, inspired and blessed by the words of the women who imparted their God-given wisdom! Please share it with all the women in your life!!!

To see the Sanctified Together Publication online and read all the inspiring articles, click here. To receive future publications by email, click here. To learn how to submit an article for the next publication, Life is a Vapor, click here.

A Word from the Editor

"Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist . . ." (Ephesians 6:14a NIV).

In Ephesians, Paul tells us to stand firm in our battle with the spiritual forces of evil. He then empowers us with a list of spiritual battle gear that enable us to stand firm. The Belt of Truth is the first Armor of God that Paul describes. Why is this belt or girdle so important? It doesn't seem as spectacular as the other battle gear -- breastplate, shield or helmet.

The belt is essential to the fit of the entire Armor of God. The belt strengthens and holds together all of the wearers personal clothing, so that each piece of the armor fits the body perfectly.

In this life, we have two outfits: We have our personal clothing (our sinful flesh) and we have God's armor (God's redemptive covering through Jesus Christ). Our personal clothing has a lot of threadbare parts due to our weaknesses and a lot of flaps and folds due to our extravagant sinfulness. We need the Belt of Truth to be wrapped around us to protect our weakness and contain our sinfulness; otherwise, the Armor of God can not be as effective and powerful as it was designed to be.

How do we put on the Belt of Truth? We must let go of trying to look perfect and trying to act like we have no weakness or sin. We must let go of our pretenses and (like the photo above) let it all hang out! We will never be perfect, and there is no need to act like we have it all together.

The articles in this issue are about being transparent to God and honest with ourselves and others. They are about setting aside masks and being truthful about who we are in Christ. Our God has a great plan for us, and He loves us just as we are -- failures and all! So let the world know that you are not perfect, and put on the Belt of Truth! You'll need it. There is a battle raging, and God has armor for you that is just your size!

Blessings to ya!

Alisa Hope Wagner
Chief Editor
Christina Lea Ketchum
Design & Marketing

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First Friday Fiction

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January 8, 2010

On a Someday by Roxanne Henke

What was your path to publication?
My path to publication started with reading. Ever since I learned to read I've had a passion for "story." I learned what I liked in a story...and what I didn't. Over the years I wrote in a variety of ways...a diary, letters, a humor column for several newspapers, Christmas dramas for church. In some way or another all of it was "practice."
All that writing taught me what I was going to need to tell a story and get it published. I also studied the "business" of writing. I learned how to write a query, and what publishers were looking for. It took me a year to write my first novel. Another two years to find a publisher. The best investment I made was to attend a writers conference. It was there that I pitched my novel and interested an editor. Within a couple months I was signing
a contract and the rest, as they say, is history.

How do you motivate yourself to write?
Sorry to say, there is no 'magic-motivation-potion.' I always tell people that writing is a "job" just like any other. Some days you wake up raring to go to work. Other days you'd rather turn over and go back to sleep. But, you get out of bed and get to work because that's what you do.

What do you love the most about writing?
Knowing that I'm using the gifts God gave me. Hearing from readers that my stories and characters have impacted their lives, and have made them more aware of God in their every day lives.

What gave you the idea for your current book?
"On a Someday" deals with the subjects of retirement as well as career-building. I'm in that aging-baby-boomer stage of life and many of my friends are starting to talk about retirement. I started to think about what's next??? I've had this sense that, as we get older, at some point each of us needs to step aside and let someone else (someone younger) take their turn at our work. I wanted to explore those ideas...

How do you develop characters?
I get to know my characters as I write. I have a sense of "who" they are at the beginning of a story, but
they come to life as I live with them over a period of many months. Sometimes they surprise me!

How do you connect with your readers?
E-mail is wonderful!! Hearing from a reader is my 'reward' for spending long hours at my computer. I have a website: where I blog weekly. I send out every-now-and-then e-newsletters to my readers. And I do a fair amount of speaking and book signings. Living with fictional characters is fun but meeting real LIVE people is better!

How do you weave God's Word into your writing?

I start each book with a theme in mind. Before I do any writing I look up Bible verses that pertain to that central theme. I study the verses and find one or two that sum up what I'm hoping to write about. My characters are 'real' to me. They make mistakes. They certainly are not perfect. I do my best to let them live their lives in ways that show my readers how God is present even when life isn't going so great. One of the best compliments I can get is when a reader writes to tell me they find themselves praying throughout the day and they learned to do that from my characters.

What is your hope for your writing?
To tell a great story. To entertain my readers and make them think. To help my readers see God at work in their daily lives.

Thanks, Alisa, for this chance to chat with you and your readers!

Here is the description of "On a Someday."
On a Someday: Jim Westin is tired. Over most-of-a-lifetime he's built his grocery business, hoping someday to hand it over to one of his kids. The only trouble is none of his kids want the business. Jim's wife, Claire, thought she was ready to retire along with her husband, but an unexpected career development has exciting new opportunities coming her way. Their son, Drew, is climbing-the-ladder in New York. No way would he consider moving back to North Dakota to help his dad. . .or would he? What happens when plans conflict? When "someday" is different than you planned? What happens when someday is now?

Take care...and risk!

Roxy Henke

Roxy is the author of the popular Coming Home to Brewster series...After Anne, Finding Ruth, Becoming Olivia, Always Jan, and, With Love, Libby. Also available...The Secret of Us, Learning to Fly, and her newest release: On a Someday!
Check out Roxy and watch a preview of her book, On a Someday, at her website:

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January 5, 2010

Internet Cafe: No-Thank-You Bite

Have you ever eaten a “No-thank-you-bite”?

You are eating with a friend. She offers you food, but you really don’t want to taste it. However, she looks at you with an enthusiastic smile, nudging the spoon toward your mouth.

You are eating at her favorite sushi restaurant (raw fish makes your stomach churn, and you’re there just for the teriyaki chicken) or she just made her award-winning quiche (you really don’t like eggs because the texture is slimy, but the bacon sure smells good). She is over-the-top eager for you taste the food even though you confess that you dislike it.

I do not eat green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

You finally take the bite because you figure that her feelings are more important than your taste buds. You smile and tell her that it’s wonderfully made and admit that you can see why people would love it. . . .yet, (unlike the green eggs and ham) it is still not something you would eat again.

I’ve realized that God also gives us “No-thank-you bites."

I remember when I had just finished grocery shopping, and I drove past a local ministry. All of a sudden, I felt a passion to help this ministry. I knew the Holy Spirit was prompting me, but I had absolutely no idea how I would fit another thing onto my already bulging plate of to-dos.

I kept thinking to myself, “I’ve never been passionate about this type of ministry before.”

I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Okay, God. Just tell me what I need to do.”

I decided to make my spirit available for God to lead, and I went on about my day. That night I told my church home group that God prompted me to help out this ministry. After I finished telling my story, my friend’s eyes bulged out of their sockets. She told us a long narrative about how that ministry has been on her heart for years, but she has never taken the first step of faith to get involved.

The next morning, I picked up my friend, and we drove to the ministry to see if we could help out. My friend chatted away, got phone numbers and took charge of a particular need they had.

I just sat there realizing that God had just given me a “No-thank-you-bite.”

My friend went on to organize a beautiful giving campaign, and I tagged along offering encouragement. God used me to “taste” a ministry, so my friend could have an all-out dinner buffet. Isn’t God so cool!

Can you look back to a time that God gave you a “No-thank-you-bite”? What did it taste like?

“They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves” (Acts 27:36 NIV).

You can also read this at the Internet Cafe!

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January 4, 2010

Avatar and Christianity

I have a confession to make, so some of you Christians may want to sit down.... I adore Speculative Fiction. My first book is spec-fic, and I coming to understand that this genre is just not fully integrated into Christian Fiction market. The worse part, though, is that I bought into its absence for many years.

I recently watched Avatar, and like most people, I was in awe of the movie's beauty. As I was leaving the theater, I was bombarded by three emotions.

1) I was envious that James Cameron created something so beautiful. 2) I was a little homesick because I knew that I just saw a glimpse of heaven. . . . and I really wanted to fly on one of those dragon/dinosaur looking animals. 3) I was eager for people to know that -- like the movie suggests -- yes, we are all connected. However, we are not connected by a planet or nature because it too is a creation. We are connected by God and the Trinity that He made for us (God, Holy Spirit, Jesus). All creation is connected -- whether we admit it or not -- to our Creator.

I asked God what He thought about the movie, and He told me this: "I gave a unique sliver of my imagination to all the peoples of the world through out time. If James Cameron could make such a beautiful work of art with his tiny sliver, just think of what I'm capable of."

My mouth dropped open right there in the movie theater parking lot. Just think what my God is capable of! Just think of what my God through me is capable of! It boggles the mind!!!

I immediately prayed back to God, "Can you save me one of those flying dragon/dinosaur animals when I get to heaven. . . . I want a RED one."

Please be mindful, however, that there is A LOT of spec-fic novels I do not read. The Holy Spirit guards my every move, and He has me stay clear of many books. It goes back to the Tree of Knowledge. Every genre has its flipside, so make sure you get the Maker's permission first.

With all that said, I feel like God is allowing me to "Go where no one has gone before."

I wrote my first spec-fic novel four years ago. I wanted to pursue getting it published and I started writing the second one, but I felt God telling me to stop -- which is really hard for me to do. I'm a go-getter, not a sitter. But, I obeyed God and tucked my books away.

During the past four years, God has been molding me and developing my character (*a combination of qualities that distinguishes one person). I poured myself into my primary ministry, my family; and I became a leader in my women's ministry. The Holy Spirit has been my teacher, and I learned three essential things:

1) The fear (*extreme reverence or awe) of God is understanding
2) An intimate relationship with God (our Creator) is wisdom
3) I'm called to love God and love others

*ref 1

*ref 2

*ref 3