Finding Hope In A World of I Don’t Care

For the next several days, I’m going to re-post some of the most popular Devotional Guy posts from 2017. To get things started, I thought I’d begin with this one inspired by a homeless woman and a poem she wrote.

The Devotional Guy™

The other day while Sweet T and I were sharing the love of Jesus down at the Center of Hope women’s shelter, we both had the opportunity to visit with a homeless family that we’d met there on a previous trip Downtown.

Pamela, the 71 year old family matriarch, her adult daughter Heather, and Pamela’s grandson Nathanael have been homeless several months now since they lost their apartment. After a number of life events happened causing them to get behind on the rent, they found themselves drowning from the sheer financial weight of trying to keep a roof over their head.

You’d never know from his big grin or joyful laugh that Nathanael suffers from cerebral palsy and spends most of his time confined to a wheelchair. Nathanael is filled with tremendous joy; a gift he undoubtedly gets from his mother and grandmother.

Yes, their faces reflect the troubles they…

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Set SMART Writing Goals for 2018

Writers write. If you’ve ever stared the blank page glowing off your laptop screen, I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Stacks of notebooks and legal pads testify to your commitment. Yes, Stephen King, writers write.

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Writers plan and organize too. You set objectives. You aim for goals.

As 2017 draws to a close, what are your writing goals for next year? What strategies and tactics will you employ to reach your goals? Did you set SMART goals or are your objectives willy-nilly, feel gooders?

SMART Goals are:

S. – Specific

M. – Measurable

A. – Assignable

R. – Realistic

T. – Time based

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Studies and experience show the more specific goals are the greater the odds of attaining them. Measuring progress and achievement is critical. Otherwise you don’t really know how you are coming along and when you need to celebrate. Assignable is a nice way of saying accountable. Writing is a lonely affair. If the story doesn’t get written, it’s on you. Realistic is a big, daunting word. If you’ve never ever written, don’t start out trying to write “War and Peace” or “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. Keep it simple. Make your goals attainable and reachable. Start by writing 100-200 words a day, six days a week. Take a day off. It’ll be okay. Build the volume of words you write until you are producing consistently. Find a level you can maintain. If you’ve never moved any iron, you wouldn’t go to your nearest gym and try to bench press 400 pounds of weight.  That would be ridiculous. And painful. Finally, make your goals time-based. Yes. That means set a deadline. As with previous steps, be specific, make it measurable, be accountable, and be realistic. I know that a ton of “experts” tell you how you can write your Great American Novel in 30 days. Odds are against it. Start with something like this: I will complete the first draft of my first chapter of 2,500 words for my 80,000 word novel on January 31, 2018.

Anyways…writers write. So why are you just sitting there?

Get to it.

I believe in you.

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Photos courtesy of the fine artists at Pixabay.com

The Wednesday Writer’s Pad

Welcome to the Wednesday Writer’s Pad where I’ll explore writing as a Christian and Christian writing.

Recently, I took over as the leader and facilitator of an online writing group-“The Christian Writers Circle” hosted on Scribophile. My new role has led me to re-ask a ton of questions as I examine writing as my ministry in our lost, fallen world.

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Getting Down to the Nitty-Gritty

What defines a Christian writer? It’s a question I’ve asked myself more than once. As a Christian, am I called to write according to specific paradigms? Am I called to write on certain subjects while avoiding others?

Certainly, there is more to being a Christian writer than meets the eye. It’s not simply a matter of being a believer and writing. Or is it?

Some questions to ponder…

  • What do you want to write? Is there a common thread in what you write about?
  • What’s your God-story?
  • Are you and expert on a particular subject that gives you special insight?
  • Who are you writing for?
  • Is there a target audience you are trying to reach through your writing?

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By the Grace of God

I started writing as a young boy. The stories I write today are different from the stories I wrote then. I’ve got a lifetime of experience shaping my perspective and worldview. This experience influences my writing. I’m sure the same is true of you.

A lot of Christian writing is extremely wholesome. The characters are pure, even though they grapple with challenges. Characters in Christian stories rely on their faith to see them through a crisis. That’s all good.

But what if that’s not your story? Maybe you took the long road home. I believe that shapes your writing voice. You didn’t come to faith at an early age and you didn’t grow up in a Christian home, but by God’s grace you’re redeemed now. And…you feel called to write. There’s a place for you. God gave you a creative gift to use for His purpose. Let God be God and trust that He will work through whatever you create to speak to those He has called to hear the message that He wants them to hear through what He has called you to do.

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Where the Rubber Meets the Road

You have to be a good storyteller. Your stories must have engaging plots, intriguing characters and solid writing. This is true regardless of whether you’re penning a secular novel, a Christian Christmas fable, or a non-fiction historical epic. Writing is hard work. Like anything we do, we should strive for excellence because excellence glorifies God. It honors the gift He gave us. Just as Abel gave God his best offering, we should strive to give God our best work through our writing. God delights in us. He is most satisfied when we delight in Him. Through our writing, we can express our satisfaction in how and when He has revealed Himself to us through the supernatural work He has performed in our lives.

As Christians, our faith informs our writing. It does not constrain it. Our characters can be wholesome. They can also be flawed. Both reflect the people we have encountered in our lives. At church, I am in awe of how well some people have lived. I also relate to those, who like me, haven’t always lived well.

We live in a world filled with harsh realities. Evil lurks at every bend. Death eventually calls us all home. Life is difficult. It’s not always pretty. This is not news. When we write about these things, we must attempt to shine a light of hope through the foggy mist so that others can see the hope that we have in Jesus. The hope we have in Jesus is news. As a matter of fact, it’s the best news ever.

Write on. I’ll be praying for you.