Posted in Uncategorized

I’m still here, um…kind of…

Where have I been? 

I know you’ve missed me. (Well, I’m sure that’s dreaming on my part.) Either way, I wanted to let you in on why my post have dried up like a raindrop in the Saharan sand. Over the past few months, I’ve experienced some major life-changes. For example, I transitioned from pastoring a church to teaching Bible and History at a Christian School. I’m love this new area of ministry! (Teaching in a Christian school that places a premium on academics from a biblical worldview scratches my itch for ministry and my inner nerdiness.) But I’ve found out that teaching takes a bunch of time!

On top of teaching full-time, I am working on my Master of Arts in History from Liberty University and with the occasional pulpit supply opportunity mixed in here or there. (Yea, I know. I guess I’m a glutton for a bloated schedule.) By now, you’ve figured out, where I’ve  been at, right?

What does all that mean?

I’m still here, um…kind of. I’m still writing almost every day, but with the busyness of my schedule I can’t post as often as I would like. However, I will still post occasionally. Posts may range from a reflection from God’s Word to immersion foot casualties sustained in the Battle of Attu during World War II. (No joke, I just finished an eight-page research paper on this topic, but I’ll spare you. Trust me. You’ll thank me later.)

Considering all this, I’m not sure what direction this blog will take or how frequent my post will appear. It will always be Christ-centered, but it may lean to more of the historical side of things. Well, it is HIS-tory, right? (Too cheesy? I couldn’t resist.) But in all seriousness, I am learning, so much about how God’s hand of providence has shaped our world. I’d love to share it with you!

What about you? 

Have you experienced any life-changing  events, which has led you in uncertain directions? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Or say, hello. I love it when people, say hello.

 

 

 

Posted in Craft, For Christian Writers

You’re a Writer!

“GOD’s Message, the God of Israel: ‘Write everything I tell you in a book. Jeremiah 30:2

 

My stomach cartwheeled and lodged in my throat, as my heart hammered away. Fighting light-headedness, I braced myself tightening my grip on the handholds. Perched on a limb overhanging Farmer Lott’s pond, it petrified me.

“It’s not that high, Kevin! Just Jump!”

From the other bank, the tree branch seemed closer to the water’s surface. But the air seemed thinner with altitude. My head spun as images of injury and a watery grave raced through my brain. I contemplated climbing down the way I came.

“Just jump, already!” My brother shouted as he rolled his eyes. His patience was wearing thin with his tag-a-long younger sibling. The searing stares from the other bank were palpable. I wanted to, but I couldn’t climb down again. I knew I had to jump.

The combination of peer-pressure and the rough bark biting into my bare feet, coaxed me further out on the limb. I imagined the plunge. With a deep breath, I began a mental countdown. Three… two… I closed my eyes still envisioning the jump… one… I pinched my nose… zero… I leapt. Time slowed in midair. Then the cold water enveloped me sending a shock throughout my body. Instinct took over, and I swam upward. Breaking the murky water’s surface, I opened my eyes to see my older brother and his friends smiling. I was a jumper.

Calling myself a writer, like the limb over Farmer Lott’s pond, intimidated me. Sure, I published a few pieces here and there, but did that make me a real writer? Like me, do you ask questions like, am I a writer or a wannabe?  Can I call myself a writer, if I haven’t published a book? Are you looking down into the foreboding waters afraid to jump? Well, the water is fine! And I want to tell you the key to taking that leap of faith.

A few years ago, I worked up enough courage to take the plunge as a Christian writer. How did I do it?  The key, like imagining my childhood leap, was to see myself as a writer.  Even if you have published nothing, if you write, you’re a writer! I haven’t published a book, yet.  But I am a writer, nonetheless. All a writer is, is a person who writes. Do you write? If so, what would you call yourself? Go ahead say it out loud. It helps.

How did I get comfortable with calling myself a writer?

First, are you called to write? Only God can answer this question for you. I cannot. Remember, a call to write is a God-given durable impulse to glorify Him and serve others through the written word.  If you have a want to write, God may be calling you to write.

  I wrestled for years to make sure my want was His will. (We all struggle with this so be gracious to yourself.)  However, you can find peace in the “write calling” by examining your desires. Lay them bare before God. During my time of discernment, I realized I needed to obey God’s voice. If that meant walking away from my writing dreams, I had to be willing. I admit I was afraid of His answer.

Again, only you can find this answer. For me, in a gradual revelation, God confirmed He gave me the desire to write. In the process of revelation, He was stripping me of selfish ambition (He’s still working). My writing was for God’s purposes, not mine.

How can we tell if our desires are from God? Eric Liddell, an Olympic athlete born to missionaries, said, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run, I feel his pleasure.” Like Liddell, God created you and me for a purpose. If we ask God, He will reveal that purpose to us. Inventory your gifts, talents, and abilities. Has God gifted you with a way with words? You need not be Shakespeare, because you can always hone your craft later.

Do you feel God rejoicing when you’re writing? If so, you may be a writer! I’m writing, and God is smiling. He is not smiling because I am penning renown prose. You can find others more eloquent. He rejoices because I acknowledge my gifts come from Him. And I surrender them to His purposes. He delights in our creativity, because it reflects His image. If you think about it, God is a writer too!

It is a simplistic revelation, but it has revolutionized and solidified my call as a writer. The Bible says,

 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 [Emphasis added]

Did you catch that?  God is the Author! If you’ve never considered the metaphor in this verse, I recommend God as Author by Gene C. Fant Jr. This book has help shape me more than this post will allow to tell.

Galileo argued that God wrote two books: The Book of Nature and the Book of Scripture. Nature tells us there is a Creator, but the Bible reveals God intimately. Think about it, what special revelation have you received from God that was not written? The Bible is God’s grand narrative in which He reveals Himself to humanity. The Bible is God’s book. God (the Father) used the Word (the Son) to create and communicate Himself to creation. God (the Spirit) inspired men to use words to write the Bible. The Christian God is a best-selling Author!

Is it irrational to think, that your desire to write a book may have come from God? I don’t think so. Please realize a Christian call to write is not synonymous with becoming a world-famous author. Rather, it is a commission to labor using faithful words to serve others and promote the biblical worldview.

After I realized that God gave me the desire to write, and that by writing, I am reflecting His glory; I found peace in identifying as a writer. I plunged into the waters of writing. It’s fun. You should try it too!

Do you feel the call to write? If you do, I don’t want you to feel alone in this journey. I invite you to join me as I make this pilgrimage across the page by liking, sharing, commenting, or subscribing to my mailing list. I look forward to the journey with you!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Craft, For Christian Writers

Called to Write

“Called to write.”

Over the years, I have contemplated this three-word phrase. What does it mean to be “called to write?” The word “calling” passes around in Christian circles with little thought given to it. For clarity, I define calling as the God-given durable impulse for a certain lifestyle or vocation. A Christian call to write is a strong God-given urge to serve others through the written word. We can fulfill this call in both fiction and non-fiction.

I had a strong desire to write before my call to pastoral ministry. (This durable impulse even predated my conversion to Christ!) But desire doesn’t  always equal calling. As a third-grader, my teachers selected me to attend the Young Author’s Conference. Sitting wide-eyed in an auditorium, I listened to the award-winning author Avi speak. He spoke about being a professional writer. I was hooked. I wanted to tell stories like him. I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.

After my conversion to Christ, I thought a simple change in my content was all I needed to make my writing Christian. I dreamed of cranking out Christian novels from a cabin in Appalachia, but God stopped me in my tracks with a call to pulpit ministry. This was not what I had envisioned, but God called me to preach. For a long season, the desire to write was bottled on the inside of me and it seemed God had tightened the lid. God used this time to sanctify my mind and heart. I surrendered my dreams and followed His call into pastoral ministry. I have never regretted following.

In submission to the call to vocational ministry, I began to see the connection between the speaking and writing ministry. Realizing God gave me the desire to work with words, I began writing a devotional column for a local newspaper. People read it and liked it. I would receive letters of encouragement (and one time a $25 donation). Soon, I began to write for another newspaper in a different county. I started a blog around this time too. But there was a tension in my spirit, because I felt I was neglecting my pulpit ministry. It scared me.  I liked the attention too much. So, God had more work to do in my heart.

A few years later, while I was serving another church, God loosened the lid. I remember God showing me that writing was to be a focus in my ministry. This revelation was not in an instant, but gradual. It was not one instance, but many instances that accumulated until it formed the vision. Beforehand, the problem was I wanted to write stories for me. I wanted the limelight of a wordsmith. The desire to seem intellectual clouded my motives. I had never wanted to speak in public, especially for God. However, God wanted me to preach, teach, and write for His glory. I had to surrender my life’s desires and trust Him.

Why do I share all this? Because writing is ministry. Ministry is about serving others, not our egos.  God calls people to write for His glory. This doesn’t mean that  you can’t write novels, poetry, biographies, or whatever else you want. But a Christian call to write is a strong God-given urge to serve others with your words.

I know I am called to write. If you’re reading this, you’re more than likely a writer too. You may be working through the same issues as I did. You’re not alone. We all struggle to find our calling and stay faithful to it. I want to help you. In the upcoming weeks, I am beginning a new series called Finding the Right Write Calling. I invite you to journey with me as I openly work through what the call to the writing ministry looks like. Regardless, if you’re a fiction or non-fiction writer, God may call you or solidify your call to write along the way. Will you join me? Please subscribe to have the future posts delivered to your email.

 

Posted in For Bible Readers, Scripture Commentary

Identifying Idols

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

1 Corinthians 10:14

Idolatry sounds archaic. Images of ancient carved statues surface in our minds. But idols are far more than stone. The Bible speaks with clarity on idolatry. God, himself, ranked this sin at the top of the Ten Commandments (Exo. 20:3). The New Testament writers say, we should flee from it (1 Cor. 10:14) and we should guard ourselves from idols (1 Jn. 5:21). But what is idolatry? How would modern man identify an idol?

Idols hide in the corridors of our heart. They manifest themselves through our thoughts and actions. The Apostle Paul writes, “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.” (Col. 3:5) Did you catch this list of sins, “which amounts to idolatry?”

In the past, the outworking of an idolatrous heart presented itself in handmade deities. Worshippers devoted their lives to a product of their own making. We may not hold a graven idol in our hands, but if we give our preeminent devotion to anything other than God, it is idolatry. Our relationships, careers, and even ministries can become an idol.

If we are not diligent to examine our inner life, our hearts will erect an altar of offense to God. We need to see the truth of John Calvin’s statement that the “human heart is a factory of idols.” We must allow the Spirit to walk through the hallways of our heart. Giving Him access to enter any door He knocks.

If you refuse to heed the rapping of the Spirit, you are guilty of idolatry. Christ should possess preeminence in every aspect of our lives. We have all ignored the Spirit, but God is gracious to uproot idols and continue His work in us (Php. 1:6). Believers have a guarantee of forgiveness, if we confess our sins (1 Jn. 1:9). The knock at the door of your heart will only grow louder. For God is jealous and will not share His glory with another (Isa. 42:8). Will you get that knock at the door?

 

 

 

Posted in Craft, For Christian Writers

3 Great Podcasts for Christian Writers

Writing is hard work. However, it is a task I feel called to pursue. I am grateful that I am not alone in this difficult pursuit. Although I have envisioned writing as being a part of my ministry, three years ago I felt it was time I take this calling seriously. Now the blank page excites me as much as the pulpit or lectern.

The shift in my thinking did not happen overnight. It was a gradual two-fold shifting. First, there was a time I considered it almost sacrilegious to think of a call to writing as being on the same level as my call to preaching. I listened to the hissing lies of the enemy and it formed a false dichotomy in my mind. However, I now see the two as intertwined. I could fulfill neither calling without the other’s help.

The second shift, although related to the first, was one more of self-doubt, than calling.  I have enjoyed writing from a young age but felt uncomfortable calling myself a writer. I felt like it was a title I hadn’t earned. This self-doubt could have stemmed from the fact that, although I have a college degree now, I never graduated High School. Even though I returned as an adult to academia, I missed a bunch.

So, what changed my mind? As simple as it sounds, podcasts played a tremendous role in making me rethink my call as a writer. Like I mentioned above, I am not alone in my call as a writer. Podcasts helped me realize all writers struggle with their calling and with doubts. Here are three podcasts that have influenced me on this journey with the written word.  Since this is a journey, I will arrange them in the order I encounter them.

 

Home Row with J.A. Medders

Around three years ago, I committed to an exercise routine. Walking almost every morning, I listened to Home Row with J.A. Medders. I found this podcast through a Facebook page called the Reformed Writers Collective.  Jeff, a pastor, along with his various guests encouraged my calling as I made my way around and around a fallow field in rural Georgia. It was on this well-trodden path where I rethought the connection between preaching and writing.

God used this podcast to fan the embers of my imagination. I saw myself as a writer needing to submit to honing my craft and learning the business. I am grateful for my early mornings with Jeff and his guests. You can check out this amazing podcast here.

PastorWriter with Chase Replogle

If Home Row with J.A. Medders stirred my mind, then the PastorWriter with Chase Replogle was an arrow to my heart. I came across this podcast by what seemed to be a random Facebook ad. However, I admit this podcast has been the most influential on the list.

The distinguishing mark for the PastorWriter is its contemplative approach to craft of writing. Influenced by Eugene H. Peterson, Chase’s message is about bringing glory to God by developing the author through the act of writing. As Chase interviews various guests, the topics of productivity, platform, and publication arise, but he encourages writers to draw from the deep well of calling and mature in the craft as stewards of the gift.

 

The Prolific Writer with Ryan J. Pelton

The third podcast, The Prolific Writer, caters to the indie publishing scene. Unlike the two previous shows, I can’t nail down when I came across Ryan’s podcast. The Prolific Writer encourages people to write “fast, often, and well.”  On the show, Ryan interviews various prolific authors allowing a peek behind the curtain of their success.

Pelton’s podcast prompted me to place my bottom in a seat and write. A writer writes. If I wanted to be a writer, I needed to place words on the page. They didn’t need to be great words on the first pass. I could refine them later through the editing process. But you can’t edit a blank page.

 

The list above is short. I could have listed several more podcasts. But these are the top three podcasts that have encouraged and shaped me in my writing ministry. What about you? What writing podcast have influenced you? Leave a link in the comments below!