Thursday, May 31, 2018

Book Review: The Art of Spiritual Writing

Whether you’re new or experienced in writing, this book gives a great overview of the writing process, especially for writing that you hope will spiritually impact readers. For instance, author Vinita Hampton Wright reminds us that while we may think chronology is important, to readers, it’s the theme. We may want to include every detail, but Wright reminds us to evaluate content from the point of what a stranger needs to know.

She explains how the Table of Contents drives sales and how each chapter needs to focus on only one point. Structure is important to readers. She also encourages authors to be authentic, to wrestle with the truth and reflect on it, then to write about it with great care. 

This is a small, short book, only 164 pages. Yet it packs a wallop. If you don’t know what to write about, Wright encourages you to write from who you are, to look for the major themes of your life and what you’ve learned. She suggests that Process, Prayer and Practice lead to Product. “To create a product, find the connection to the largest audience that reasonably can be expected . . . . The point is, know who will be interested in your material, and then work with the material so that it will be most pleasing to that audience.”

I liked her many, practical suggestions and her attention to current opportunities, such as social media. She points out how God has been involved in every detail of our lives and gives us God-given power to change the world. I took many notes for future reference as I read. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in writing for spiritual impact or really, writing in general.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Nine Reasons the Bible is Important

Dear Friends,

Have you heard California is considering passing a law to make the sale of the Bible illegal because of content related to sexual orientation? To me, that is a frightening thought. Since when do we legislate what people may or may not believe?

A few years ago I heard how some college professors were not to discuss topics that might upset students. At first I thought it was a joke. There are very few issues that don’t upset one person or another. We feel strongly about many issues, and, after all, college is the place to debate and discuss issues. But it was no joke. Talk about putting a damper on free speech!

Now comes an attack on the written Word. If Bibles are forbidden to be sold, how long will it be until just speaking about interpretations of scripture will be prohibited?

The Bible is an important book to Christians. Here’s why:

1. The Bible tells us how life originated and how life will end. Read Genesis and Revelation.

2. The Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Although it consists of 66 books, its message is consistent. Yes, there may be verses we don’t understand. I like Mark Twain’s quote about that: “It ain’t the parts of the Bible I can’t understand that bother me, it’s the parts that I do understand.”

3. The Bible tells us what God is like. He’s a God of love and, yes, He’s a God of judgment. He is with us at all times, in all places. He comforts us, sustains us, provides for us, protects us. He is kind and wise.  We want to know our God better, and we meet Him on the pages of scripture.

4. The Bible prepares us for eternity by introducing us to Jesus, our Savior.

5. The Bible informs us of good and evil. There are moral absolutes. We teach the Ten Commandments to our children.

6. The Bible offers sound advice. Read Proverbs to learn how a young man (or woman) may develop character. Billy Graham read one of the 31 chapters each day of the month. Proverbs should be required reading for teenagers.

7. The Bible prevents us from sinning. If we follow its guidelines regarding right and wrong, life goes better for us. It’s not a barrier to keep us from things we enjoy but a fence to protect us from harm.

8. The Bible includes God’s promises. Read Romans 8:28-29 to learn how God promises that all things will work together for good in the life of a Christian.

9. The Bible was the first book printed mechanically, and more than 13,000 manuscripts of portions of the New Testament exist. It is the world’s best-seller.

I have spent a great deal of time meditating on scripture as I’ve memorized it. And I don’t regret a minute of it. And if ever my state passes a law forbidding the sale of a Bible, I will have a stash of content to fall back on. I encourage you to memorize for the same reason.

Who knows whether illness or persecution will ever prevent you from physically handling a Bible? Having scripture in mind means you always have it with you. And you can always share it with others. This past weekend, I shared John, chapters 1 to 4, with women at a retreat, and they told me they heard things they never noticed by reading scripture. I’ve also memorized Philippians and the book of Ruth.

You can find a video of me presenting the book of Ruth on YouTube. Just copy and paste this link:

Please memorize God’s Word so that no one can ever legislate it away from you.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NIV)



Upcoming Engagements for Friends of the Heart:

May 14, 6:30 p.m. – Mother/Daughter Banquet, Himmel’s Church, Dornsife, “That Face in the Mirror: Who Do You See?”

May 19 – PowerSurge Women’s Conference, University of Pittsburgh Bradford Campus, “Tea with Mary, Martha and Their Psychologist,” Conference Theme: “It Is Well: Mind, Body, Soul.”