Ministering Through Writing: The World Needs to Hear Your Voice

I moderate an online critique group, the Christian Writers Circle, on Scribophile. Certainly, it is not a ministry outlet I expected when I left the private sector to work in ministry. As it turns out, God has had a different plan for ministry than I personally had envisioned. Today, I recognize that for me, writing is ministry, just as much as being a worship musician is.

Part of my writing ministry is this blog, The Devotional Guy. Since launching it at the end of 2013, I’ve seen the blog grow, albeit slowly. Ministry isn’t quick. Often, individuals minister without fully seeing the fruit of their efforts. Noah built an ark. None of his neighbors appear to have been converted by his monumental exercise in faith. Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet, not only didn’t have any converts, he made people angry by preaching the truth. They wanted to silence him in a very permanent way (if you know what I mean). Yet, he wrote prolifically and so his voice continues to be heard in the generations that came long after his. The results of God at work aren’t always as clear and obvious as people (like me) want them to be. Yet, we press on faithfully.

You may have recently decided to use your writing talent to share the Gospel, to inspire people, and to do good things for the advancement of the Kingdom. You quickly learn that writing is often a solitary endeavor. Know that you are never alone. There are others–you just have to find and seek them out–who share your passion for blogging and writing to inspire.

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This past week, rummaging through the clearance shelves at my local Half-Price Books, I ran across the book “Writing to Inspire.” It looks like an old book. The print is reminiscent of the early word processor fonts that we thought were so impressive when they first hit the scene. Yes, kids, word processors were considered advanced technology once upon a time. Crazy. The cover is faded and slightly tattered. Published in 1982. Yikes! I feel as old as the book looks now.

“Writing to Inspire” is an anthology edited by William Gentz featuring articles written by several faith writers of a generation past. In the 1980s, the religious market for writing was exploding. The book offers insights on how to get published and find niche markets geared for Christian writers. Several of the articles offer insights into writing better and producing marketable, readable stories, poems, articles and scripts for Christian television and film. It’s a good book highlighting an expansive subject.

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Knowing that others came before us helps us. The Bible, supernaturally inspired by God, is written by human hands. Jeremiah had a friend, Baruch, who served as his scribe and is believed to have helped Jeremiah with writing the books of Jeremiah, Lamentations, and the Book of Kings (1 Kings and 2 Kings).

2 Timothy 3:16-17(NIV) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

So, you see, writing has played a significant role throughout the history of faith and has proven to be an instrumental ministry to believers through the ages. Blogging is simply a digital form of writing, that can be used to advance God’s kingdom and bring Him praise and glory in the process. Do not be discouraged my faith-writing friend; God promises us that He is with us wherever we go.

Keep writing and blogging! 

The world needs to hear your voice. 

 

Images courtesy of the fine artists at Pixabay.

Ministering to the Men at the Union Gospel Mission

Since 2011, I have had the privilege of leading a team of volunteers who venture down to the Union Gospel Mission Dallas to conduct 4th Friday Chapel and minister to the homeless men temporarily residing at the Downtown Dallas shelter. Some of the names and faces have changed over time. Others have remained steadfastly the same. This is true on both sides of the pulpit. Of the 300 or so men who come to the shelter located at 3211 Irving Boulevard, some have been there every single time since my wife Terri and I started going there to minister to them. Others have graduated, gotten back on their feet. Some have strayed, leaving the structure of the shelter to return to life on the streets.

I read an article the other day that proclaimed that the universal consensus is that homelessness can be alleviated if we will simply provide more affordable housing. I certainly don’t doubt that this is part of the solution. But I don’t believe that is all of the answer. Almost all of the men had a place to call home once. That tells me there’s more to the story then we might like to think or than we’re ready to hear.

Indeed, experience has taught me that homelessness is a multifaceted problem. The men need jobs and better skills, both work-related and lifestyle focused. While some might recoil at this thought, it is true that there is a spiritual component that must be addressed in addition to dealing with the physical challenges that these men face. You see, many of these men have had their spirit broken. Others, need guidance in how to live among others. Some genuinely don’t know right from wrong; at least not anymore.

There exists a clear physical deficit that we must address. We should feed their bellies. We must train their hands and educate their minds. Indeed, we have to develop more affordable housing. But, in the process of meeting their real physical needs, we cannot starve their souls. We must not fail to speak to their hearts.

These men need to have their hope restored and their faith rebuilt. They need to know that despite the current circumstances that they find themselves in, God has not forgotten nor forsaken them. While they may feel unlovable, they need to hear that God does indeed love them. And that’s the message we try to share with them.

Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:37-40 (The Message)

Going down to the mission every 4th Friday, our ministry team is able to share the love of God with these men in a real and tangible way. We have a time of worship, singing songs of faith and praise. We share a message of hope from the Word of God, and we stand with them in prayer, crying out to the Lord alongside them, lifting up their dreams and laying down their burdens. That we would do this may come as a shock to people. You might read this and wonder how what we’re doing is helping these men recover from their fall from grace. And that’s ok…we have seen the evidence confirming that it is.

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We show these men, considered to be the last and least, often lonely, many lost, that they are worth loving and that they have value. Yes, their lives matter. Yes, their lives have value. Yes, life can be better than the present situation they find themselves in. Yes, with the help of others, they can rise above their current circumstances.

I am proud of the men and women who serve on our team, including my wife Terri, who I have witnessed grow in her ability to meet these men where they are and show them the love of Christ in her glowing smile and kind words.

I am thankful for our ministry partners, Matt and Laurie, Ed C., Michael G., and Bill and Ann. Their faithfulness and devotion to this ministry is remarkable and noteworthy.

It’s been said that there is no safer place to be than in the center of God’s will. I’m glad He has us here, in the palms of His hands, using us for His praise and glory. That He would use a broken vessel like me seems truly unbelievable, if I’m honest about it.  Yet, He does. Thankfully.

Blessings.

Blogger’s Code of Conduct

Initially proposed by online media guru Tim O’Reilly, the Blogger‘s Code of Conduct strives to ensure civility, respect, and integrity among bloggers and other social media users. First proposed in 2007 due to threats made to blogger Kathy Sierra, the Code promotes the following 7 tenets:

1. Take responsibility not just for your own words, but for the comments you allow on your blog.

You own your own words. Words are like bullets. Once your tongue fires them off, it’s impossible to take them back.  In addition to owning your words, you also own the tone you allow on any blog or social media platform under your control. Recognize the effect your cyberspace voice has on others and step up when things go wrong. Don’t give space to hate, even if these outside voices purport to agree with you. As a friend of mine would  often say, “Remember who’s you are.”

2. Label your tolerance level for abusive comments.

Let people know that civil discourse and engaging comments are welcome. However, be sure to communicate clearly that the spewing of vitriolic rhetoric will simply not be allowed and will be promptly deleted.

3. Consider eliminating anonymous comments.

Momma likes to say, “Don’t say anything behind someone’s back that you’re not willing to say to their face.” The Internet allows people to throw up cyberspace garbage on your platform’s porch while safely secluded in the shadows of the surrounding hedges. Don’t allow them to utter harsh comments while hiding behind the skirts of anonymity.

4. Don’t feed the trolls.

Trolls live where they are fed. Don’t feed them. Ever. Period.

5. Take the conversation offline, and talk directly, or find an intermediary who can do so.

Things getting heated? Step off the field and address individuals directly. Praise in public, rebuke in private.

6. If you know someone who is behaving badly, tell them so.

You get what you expect or you get what you accept. Confront bad behavior directly. Don’t let it fester or sit idly hoping it will go away. It won’t. Left unaddressed it will only get worse.

7.  Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say in person.

Just because someone can’t cyberpunch you in the mouth doesn’t give you free license to let your mouth write checks your derriere can’t cash. If you can’t say nothing nice, don’t say nothing at all.

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If we, as a group, can implement these simple tenets in our online interactions, we will take a huge step forward in maintaining the freedom of speech, nurturing a diversity of opinions, and ensuring a discourse marked by civility and respect rather than the hateful, vitriolic venom too often spewed online. It all goes back to adhering to the Golden Rule: Treat people like you would like to be treated.

Remember that we don’t all have to agree on everything, but even in our disagreements, we can still be respectful in our online discussions and honorable in how we treat one another.

Blessings.

Matthew 7:12 (NIV)

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.