Lula is “Playing By Heart”, by Anne Mateer


Screen shot 2014-09-09 at 1.37.02 PMBecause it is unusual for me to read a novel in the first person, it took me a little while to get used to the way it flowed. However, as I moved on, I began to know Lula Bowman, better as Miss Bowman, than “Fruity Lou”. This situational nickname took me back to my own youth where I got labeled for being too tall or talk too much. And as a youngest in the family, not always taken seriously. Miss Bowman was spurred on by her father to be educated in a time when women were still mostly encouraged to stay home, especially in the Christian circles. But as Lula begins her studies with a scholarship in Mathematics, she makes it her priority for her life. When her sister loses her husband and is pregnant and needy, it is a hard decision to take leave from college and go home. No one else even realizes that she was doing anything important, much less how smart she really was. She accepts the opportunity to make a difference in a new job in her hometown while living with her sister at the local high school teaching Music and Basketball! She doesn’t even know anything about or even like sports, and Music has taken a very last place in her life at the time. She prays for the Lord to show her where her priorities should be, and while on her journey she meets a male Math teacher and Boys Basketball coach that makes her blood run warm. Turning into a confusing relationship where other women seem to be chasing the darling Mr.Vaughn, coach and teacher, Lula takes in hand her calling to the best of her ability where the Lord uses her coaching, teaching and playing the piano in church. She exhibits her character and determination to be the person whom the Lord can depend on. In the middle of a mess of misunderstandings God turns the story into a surprising and joyful ending for all. Don’t miss this great read.

This book was provided free by Bethany Books for review. This is my own evaluation with thoughts and opinions of my own. Mary Young Robinson, Boise, ID

Christian Disciplines


Trevin Wax

Spiritual Disciplines, Legalism, and Laziness
August 12, 2014

Spiritual Disciplines Don WhitneySpiritual disciplines are a lot like physical exercise. You know it’s important, but it’s not always easy to get excited about leg lifts and pushups. Watch someone who seems naturally drawn to various disciplines, and you can quickly get discouraged, as the subtle strain of legalism infects and paralyzes your efforts toward spiritual growth. It’s no wonder some throw up their hands and give up trying.

I hesitate to recommend a book on spiritual disciplines, simply because I know too many people who will consult a book like this and think that if they aren’t fervently and thoroughly practicing everything recommended here, they are behind the curve spiritually. I also harbor concerns that spiritual disciplines can turn us inward, make us become too introspective, and lead to a privatized piety that harms our mission.

But they don’t have to. That’s why, when I consider my own spiritual life, I can’t help but think about certain practices and disciplines that the Lord has used to shaped me over the years. It’s with that heart and mind that I approach this topic.

Don Whitney, Professor of Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently revised his respected work – Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. I asked Dr. Whitney to respond to a few questions about his book and the formative power of spiritual disciplines. His website is BiblicalSpirituality.org.

Trevin: You write of spiritual disciplines as “the means to godliness” and point to biblical evidence and historical examples to make this case. Are you speaking of spiritual disciplines in a general sense or particular practices, some of which are not prescribed in Scripture (journaling, for example)?

Don: I am speaking of specific practices found in Scripture by command, example, or principle. I’ve never seen a supposed “definitive list” of the spiritual disciplines, and I state in the book that I am not attempting to present an exhaustive list, but I do think a case can be made that the ones presented in the book are the most prominent ones in Scripture.

Admittedly, there’s less biblical evidence for keeping a spiritual journal than for other disciplines in the book. But in the book as well as in this Baptist Press article I have argued that there is something very much like journaling in the Psalms of David and in the Lamentations of Jeremiah.

Trevin: I hear two common concerns with regard to spiritual disciplines. The first is from the Christian who fears that emphasizing spiritual disciplines turns Christianity into a checklist of rules and can weigh Christians down with unnecessary guilt. How do you respond to those who worry that spiritual disciplines detract from our experience of grace?

Don: This reminds me of a famous line from Martin Luther that Jerry Bridges more recently popularized: “We need to preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” At times during the day, we need to be reminded of that part of the gospel that tells us what God requires of us to live a life for Him. At other times each day, we need the reminder of the grace in the gospel, the assurance of forgiveness in Christ for not living up to God’s standards — that God accepts us because of what Jesus has done, not what we do.

Moreover, the spiritual disciplines—both the personal disciplines (which are the subject of this book) and the interpersonal ones (the subject of my Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church)—are means of grace. In other words, these disciplines are God-ordained means by which we experience God and His grace. Our job is to place ourselves before God by means of these disciplines, and then, when we look to Him by faith through them, we can expect to experience Him and His grace.

Think of how many times you awoke on Sunday morning and said to yourself, “I don’t feel like going to church today.” But you disciplined yourself to do what you knew you should do and what was best, and you went. There, after a meaningful encounter with God in worship you said, “I am so glad I came!”

That you had the desire and the power to gather with God’s people to worship Him was all by grace. Anything fruitful that came from the experience was all by grace. But God didn’t drag you out of bed. That was your grace-enabled discipline.

The same is true with all the spiritual disciplines. Grace doesn’t mean we coast spiritually until we get to heaven. Grace gave us the disciplines; grace gives us an affinity for the disciplines, and grace is experienced through the disciplines.

Incidentally, for those who fear that practicing the spiritual disciplines can lead to legalism, be aware that there’s a greater concern out there. While it’s true that legalism in all its forms is a legitimate danger, a danger we should preach about and warn against, a proclivity we all have in one way or another (for not all legalism looks the same outwardly), I see far more of the opposite error today.

For every legalistic practitioner of the spiritual disciplines I come across, I see ten who ignore or minimize the disciplines. So while on the one hand we need to preach grace to our legalistic tendencies, on the other we need to emphasize the spiritual disciplines against our tendencies to sloth and spiritual laziness.

Trevin: The second concern deals with specific spiritual disciplines, primarily those concerned with meditation on God’s Word or spending time in silence and solitude. How do you respond to those who believe time in silence is a misinterpretation of Psalm 46:10, an extrabiblical innovation that can lead us to place personal experience over God’s revealed truth?

Don: First, I trust that no Bible-believer has an issue with the responsibility, privilege, and value of meditation on God’s Word. Passages such as Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:3, 2 Timothy 2:7 and others should settle that. How could anyone who loves God and His Word discount the importance and benefits of meditation on Scripture? And the fact that meditation would frequently be most fruitful when done in privacy stands to reason.

But to unite the two (solitude and meditation on Scripture) on the basis of Psalm 46:10 is an error. Psalm 46:10—”Be still, and know that I am God”—is indeed frequently misinterpreted. In fact, I would say that when it’s used in the context of the devotional life it’s always misinterpreted.

While I do think it represents a biblical principle, namely that it’s always beneficial to stop and be reminded of the sovereignty of God in the midst of all circumstances, that’s not what Psalm 46:10 is about. Rather the context there is international, not personal. It’s about God’s exaltation above the nations, not about an individual’s personal piety.

Meditation on Scripture, done rightly, leads to the richest “personal experience” (with God), but never at the expense of God’s revealed truth. Rather I would contend that the richest experiences with God come most consistently by means of meditation on His Word.

Why is it that so many Christians, people who read the Bible every day, cannot remember the last time their daily time in the Word of God changed their day, much less changed their life? Why is it that most days, if pressed, as soon as they close their Bible they would have to admit, “I don’t remember a thing I read?” I would argue that the reason is a lack of meditation.

While reading the Bible is the exposure to Scripture—and that’s essential; that’s the starting place—meditation is the absorption of Scripture. And it’s the absorption of Scripture that leads to the experience with God and the transformation of life that we long for when we come to Scripture. My contention is that people just don’t do that, even people who read the Bible every day.

It’s not that people can’t meditate on Scripture; they just don’t. Often it’s because they’ve not been taught about meditation, and/or they just don’t know how to meditate on a verse of Scripture. That’s why in the section of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life where I write about meditation I conclude with seventeen different ways to meditate on Scripture, ways that are doable by any Christian (for any devotional practice–like meditation–expected of all God’s children has to be fundamentally simple).

Trevin: One of the reasons why worship attendance is down in some denominations is that the faithful Christian who is active in church is attending less often. In your opinion, does it help us to see the public worship gathering as a “discipline,” or is conceiving of worship as an “obligation” one of the reasons of why Christians are attending church less often?

Don: In my opinion, the reason the “faithful Christian” you mention attends church less often has nothing to do with the intentional rejection of an “obligation” imposed by the church. Having no interest in gathering when God’s people gather for the purpose of publicly honoring and enjoying God, finding no delight in the incarnational (not merely recorded) proclamation of God’s Word, and having no appetite for the grace of the Lord’s table comes from a deeper root than an avoidance of legalism. In the New Testament, the concepts of “faithful Christian” and avoidance of church life never characterize the same people.

Because of the internal war of the Spirit against our flesh and our flesh against the Spirit (Galatians 5:17), there remains within us while in this world a gravitational pull of our hearts away from the things of God (such as public worship) as well as a Spirit-produced gravitational pull toward them. For the one who intentionally fights against the flesh and who “sows to the Spirit” (Galatians 6:8) it’s right and biblical to speak of participation in congregational worship as a discipline.

As I mentioned earlier, the blessings experienced in the worship of God with His people will often be forfeited if we attend only when we feel like it when we awake on Sunday morning (if indeed we even awake on time without discipline).

Trevin: In this newest edition of your book, you have added more than 10,000 words of new material, adding more Bible references and a more cross-centered focus. What led you to make these adjustments in the new edition?

Don: The single biggest addition to the book was the expansion of the section on methods of meditation from six to seventeen. Some of the book’s enlargement came simply from including things I’ve learned about the disciplines in the twenty-three years since the original edition was published. I also took the opportunity to delete a few lines and quotations that could be construed as inclining toward mysticism.

Most importantly, I added more of the gospel in every chapter. In 2011 I did a year-long series on “The Gospel and the Spiritual Disciplines” for Tabletalk magazine. Much of that material found its way, chapter-by-chapter, into the revised and updated edition of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. I wanted to do my best to ensure that no one separated the gospel from the disciplines or became tempted to think that by the diligent practice of the disciplines they could earn God’s favor.

I’d also like to mention that the terminology of the book has been updated, and I believe it’s now a better-written book. I reviewed every line, and I hope I’ve learned a few things about writing in the last twenty-three years. Overall, I think this edition is a big advance for the book in style, but especially in content, and I hope your readers find it to be so.

Tips For The Newer Writer


Screen shot 2014-07-19 at 1.01.10 PM7 Formatting Errors That Make Your Book Look Unprofessional
May 23rd, 2014

By Joel Friedlander-

More and more writers are taking advantage of the new tools of publishing to create and publish their own books. This has led to an explosion of creativity, as writers are able to move their own books to market without the long delays and uncertainty of trying to get a traditional publisher to offer a contract.

Of course, there are also lots of authors who publish some of their books with traditional publishers, but still want to issue backlist, experimental, or non-commercial books themselves.
This is all good news for authors. But one of the consequences of authors becoming “do-it-yourself” publishers has been the proliferation of books that don’t look quite right.

Although our books may be self-published, we sure don’t want them to look sub-par, do we?
For many years I’ve helped authors get their books produced so they can compete with the books coming from traditional publishers. And while many authors hire professional book designers to create their books for them, this isn’t practical or desirable from some people.

Some of the errors I see when reviewing self-published books are very easy to correct, if you only know how. So to help out, I’ve compiled here a list of the most common book formatting errors.

If you’re doing your own formatting, make sure you pin this article up near your workstation. You’ll be needing it.

7 Formatting Errors to Avoid

1. Putting page numbers on blank pages.

Blank pages have no text or images on them, and that means they should be truly blank. If you think about it, having a page number on a blank page really doesn’t make sense, since there’s nothing for the page number to refer to.

2. Using running heads on chapter opening pages or blank pages.

This is probably the most common formatting mistake of all, and I see it often in books from do-it-yourselfers. Just like page numbers, running heads (the type at the top of a page that shows the book title, author name, or chapter title) have no place on a blank page, just leave them off so the pages are truly blank.

3. Using “rag-right” typesetting.

Sometimes authors think they can make their pages look better by using rag-right typesetting. But if you walk over to your bookshelf and start looking at your own books, you will soon discover that virtually all books outside of art books or poetry, use fully justified composition. This means that the left and right margins of your page are straight and all lines except the last line in a paragraph are all the same length. This is what your readers expect to see in your book, so make sure you give it to them.

4. Double spacing between sentences.

Many of us learned to type quite a while ago, and many typing instructors told us to hit the space bar twice after a period. This is perfectly fine for business reports or memos, but it has no place in a book and can potentially cause problems when your book is typeset. So only one space between sentences.

5. Using both indented AND block style spaces between paragraphs.

Since we’ve started reading so much on web pages, we’ve grown accustomed to the block style of paragraph formatting. This is when paragraphs are separated by a line space instead of indenting the first line of a paragraph, as is usually done in books. Both work, but you have to pick one and stick to it. If you add spaces between your paragraphs, make sure you don’t also indent the first line.

6. Putting the odd numbered pages on the left.

When you open a book, it just makes sense that the first page is page number 1, and that has to be a right-hand page. This rule is absolute, and you should never, ever number your pages with even numbers on right-hand pages.

7. Making super small margins to save pages.

Lots of authors who use print on demand services like CreateSpace know that they will be charged based on how many pages are in their book. But that’s no reason to shortchange your readers by making your page margins too small just to save money. If your book is too long, reduce the type size a tiny bit or use a more space-efficient font. Small margins will make your book hard to hold and difficult to read, never a good result.

Paying attention to these details of book formatting will help ensure that your books look and work the way they are supposed to. Your readers will thank you for that, and it’s your readers you should keep in mind throughout the publishing process.

Another way to solve a lot of these formatting problems while also getting a well-designed, industry-standard book is to use one of our book templates. They will save you an amazing amount of time and frustration, while making sure your book looks the way it should. You can find out more and see the available designs at: BookDesignTemplates.com.

Joel-2014-headshot 300x

BIO:
Joel Friedlander (@JFBookman) is an award-winning book designer and blogger. He’s been launching the careers of self-publishers since 1994 from his book design and consulting practice at Marin Bookworks in San Rafael, California. Joel also writes TheBookDesigner.com, a popular blog on book design, book marketing and the future of the book, and he is the founder of The Self-Publishing Roadmap, a training course for authors, and BookDesignTemplates.com, where he provides tools and services for authors who publish their own books. Joel is a past president of the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. Connect with him on Google+.

Overcoming Writer’s Doubt


Overcoming Writer's Doubt, An Essay

Overcoming Writer’s Doubt, An Essay

 

“I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: Overcoming Writer’s Doubt’ held by Positive Writer.”

 

 

Life moved along so much faster than I realized it ever could. There were and are so many things left to do, so I better get busy, yes? And what about the things I thought I understood and didn’t? Whoa!

Writing started for me when I was a child. Making up stories, I had “magical thinking” in stories and in life. The ones in life didn’t work out so well, but I still hoped that the ones in literature might. I threw many half-written plots away. I moved to poetry. Now that could be done anyway I wanted because it was my own expression, right?

Poetry did give me a way to say how I felt and I think on many levels it was good for me. I wrote poetry for over twenty years off and on and still do occasionally. I ventured into journalism later in high school and in college. But the bug bit me for writing my own stories again. So what would I write, fiction or non-fiction?

Figuring that fiction would be a breeze, this person was sorely disappointed. I let a few people read my first chapters and the response was mostly the same: show don’t tell. I tried and tried and I just couldn’t get it. And then there was the POV…the PO What? I was depressed and almost quit. But I didn’t and I am glad I finally got some smarts and joined a national writing organization with teaching sessions. I slowly began to get some of this real stuff down.

Still not published, but I am beginning to feel more secure. Somewhere there is a group or class that will boost your ability, your confidence and contribute to your writing. Don’t give up. There are people out there that do care if you learn and become successful whatever that means to you, whether self-publish or traditional. I see that now.

At this point I can start dreaming again. You know, that magical stuff? Now for that story… And what about the neighbors, teachers, and people you meet at parties? Their persona and conversation is the very thing you need to think about and claim for your characters and heroes. In a restaurant? Listen discreetly and notice politely.

And remember that time you got really hurt by someone in elementary school? How did you feel and what was your response? All of these happenings in your life or someone else’s are a story just waiting to be developed with the right theme, conflict and resolve. You wouldn’t let that slide by you, would you?

Now comes the hardest part for me. Endurance. I need thousands of words down on paper. That part is work. I (we) have to work. I (we) have to be diligent if I (we) want to publish. So, I will start a writing calendar, I will set a goal of words per day. Right? I will not keep editing and correcting that first paragraph that I want to be perfect. (I (we) have time for that later.) There will be edits and edits. Words. Words. I need words.

It is time to push forward and finish a work. What is it worth to you to get stuck with a bunch of unfinished stories? You must finish. You can finish it and I can, too. Are you ready? I am. Chapter 3, here I come!

 

 

- See more at: http://positivewriter.com/writing-contest-doubt/#sthash.5orrtXra.dpuf

 

 

Adeline Scott Heads Home To Marry


Adeline Scott takes the train to Nashville in the spring of 1904 to be wed the next month. During the whole trip on the L&N coach she begins to second-think her engagement, becomes somewhat melancholy and doubts herself and her fiance. Then through an unfortunate event, she is thrown into the arms of a prior acquaintance and her heart begins to throb to a different beat. Delia Whitworth’s family is appalled that Adeline allowed a man to touch her. They appear to meet her at the Union Station.

Union Station

Union Station

What will happen when she settles in and has a chance to see Adam again after a long separation?  Will John Frame’s committment to a more compassionate profession sway her emotionally?  Will her younger sister left behind in Louisville ever become her Maid of Honor?

BACK ON BOARD


Chapter 1The Lord is giving me a new story and I am enjoying being back on target in the novel arena. I have learned a great deal over the last few years from ACFW, My Book Therapy, and many other writing sites.

I think the time is here for me to put all these things together and push forward without looking back! Chapter 1 is finished and I actually feel good about this one. I know He has more than this one for me, such as other Women’s Non-Fiction, etc., but I believe that this is where he wants me to keep working until a project is finished!

Isn’t it thrilling to see so many of our sisters in the Lord writing and publishing? It is encouraging to me.

Lord, thank you for all your wisdom and prompting as I word harder to complete what you have given to me. You are gracious and patient.

Anyone interested in a “light” critique or reading for me would be appreciated.

Tide and Tempest by Elizabeth Ludwig


Although I did not read the first two books of the series, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. But…because there was “one” word over-used in this book, I suspect there is a very good reason that I could find out if I read the first ones. A descriptive word. An Irish lass makes a sinful choice and gets involved with a lad from her hometown. While trying to escape the clutches of some evil Irish organizers, the lad is killed. The ship’s captain has taken on the job of finding out why and how each person is connected to the underworld characters. Although some of the characters say they believe in God, it takes numerous occasions of protection by Him before they come to grips of His love and their call to obedience. Not an overly Christian book, but by no means un-Christian either. Written well, similar to the writings of Phillips and Pella. I anticipate I will be reading other books by this author!

I received this book free from Bethany Publishers. I have given an honest review.

Mary Young Robinson, Boise, Idaho

Goat Lady

Confession of Sins


Jesus the Christ, who died for my sins

Jesus the Christ, who died for my sins

Our Father in heaven:

We confess to you that we
have strayed from your holy Word.
We have not loved you sufficiently.
We have not served you resolutely.
We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves.

Yet you are a God of forgiveness.
You scatter sin “as far as the east
is from the west” (Ps 103:12).
You restore those of lowly and contrite hearts.

Examine our priorities, our ambitions,
our attitudes. Reveal wherever they are contrary to
your will. Remove every impediment to holy obedience
in order that we may “walk in a manner worthy of the
calling that we have received” (Eph 4:1);

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Taken from All Saints PCA bulletin, January 19, 2014

Tomorrow? Better Take Care Of Today


He Cares For You

He Cares For You

James 4:13-16 ESV

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

The Bible warns us that we never know what will happen in the future; sometimes we believe we have all the time in the world.  And then, boom!

After my divorce, my youngest daughter and I moved into a two-bedroom apartment near our old neighborhood.  It wasn’t a bad place to live, the grounds were very green and manicured and the walls seemed to be pretty thick.  (I let her play the piano sometimes.)

My daughter was a senior at a Christian school in another town, so she often spent the night with friends instead of driving home.  She was in a pretty tight group and I trusted her time in that community.

One night as I prepared for bed, I received a call.  It was scary.  I have been able to continuously thank the Lord for the person who spoke to me that evening.  “Mary, this is (—) and I am a paramedic/EMT.  Your daughter has been in an accident.  She is going to be fine, but she will be at Caldwell Hospital for observation.  I have to tell you, when I saw the car that was hit, I didn’t see how anyone could still be alive.  You are blessed.”

I thanked God the whole hour while I drove to see her.  When I walked into the room, her face was covered with blood where bits of glass had shattered and attached to her skin.  Her pale legs had larger shards of glass that had to be removed.  It was unsettling, but I knew she would be all right.  Her emotional status was shaken and it would take weeks for her to drive again.  A drunken driver going the speed of 70 miles per hour ran a stop sign and twirled her around scooting across a highway, smashing totally the other side of the car.  I was so grateful there was not a passenger that night.  She managed to leave for college on time, still a little dazed.

A wreck, an illness, a storm, there are so many things that happen that remind us that life is fragile.  But so many times, we push these things back in our minds as we move on with life.   We often avoid acknowledgement of looking squarely at life…the changes that need to take place, forgiveness that needs to be actualized, taking some silent moments for God to speak to us.

The quiet voice of the Lord may be speaking after the shock of whatever you have been  through, but are you listening?