Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Song Comes From God - a devotion (number 49 in a series)

“The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him.” Exodus 15:2, KJV

One of my favorite gospel songs was written by Bill and Gloria Gaither, God gave the song.” Many of my favorites come from their pens, but this one is especially dear to me.

In the song, they talk about God being the source of the Song and giving the ability to sing that Song in the face of adversity as well as blessing. The opening verse says:

“You ask me why my heart keeps singing,
Why I can sing when things go wrong.
But since I've found the source of music
I just can't help it. God gave the song.”

What a powerful reminder to me in these days when so very much seems to be going wrong! My mother’s deteriorating health, my non-existent finances, catastrophes in the world…finding a bright spot often takes a determined effort. Those are the times when I cling to the Song ever more tightly and let God’s strength and song lift me and keep me singing.

In the same vein, “He Keeps Me Singing” (Luther Bridges, 1884-1948) reminds me that Jesus is the one who keeps me singing no matter where I go. One of my favorite hymns, Babbie Mason recorded a version of it on her album “Timeless” and reminded a new generation of music lovers of the message.

I have discovered that just singing a song of praise will lift my spirits. Is it the action of giving praise or the verbalization of His faithfulness in the lyrics, or a combination of the two that pulls me up? I only know it works.

Next time the world is trying its best to drag you down, lift a song of praise to the Giver of Song. Let His love write the song on your heart and carry you through.

Father, thank You for the song You put in our hearts, for being the source of all we need. Please accept our songs of praise as a gift of love to You.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Saint Patrick - a devotion (Number 48 in a Series)

“Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28: 19-20, American Standard Version

Today is known as “St. Patrick’s Day,” represented with playful leprechauns and crowds of shamrocks. People will celebrate with green rivers and green beer; overindulge on corned beef and cabbage. In some ways, the celebration has become larger than the message (and isn’t that just so typical of human beings).

We celebrate Patrick as an icon of all things Irish, yet he was not Irish by birth. We represent the day with mythical beings, yet Patrick brought the truth to the Irish people and supplanted mythological tyrants with the facts of the Living Lord. We serve food and drink aplenty to celebrate, yet Patrick began his life in Ireland as a slave with many of life’s comforts lacking.

Stop for a moment and ponder Patrick’s life. Escaped from slavery, he returned to those who enslaved him with the message of God’s love. He followed God’s instruction to leave behind the world of his birth and bring the message to a raw and heathen people. We remember him for his sacrifice of self to serve others (and he wasn’t serving green beer).

As a person of (admittedly partial) Irish descent, I am touched by this day. Because of Patrick, Christianity spread through Ireland. He allowed himself to be the tool used by God to share Truth with a people wandering in pagan darkness. We will never know this side of heaven what blessings came to those people because Patrick was willing to heed the call.

Father, thank You for loving us enough to send Patrick to my distant ancestors. Help me to always remember the day is a celebration of Your goodness toward humanity and Your provision for our salvation. And give me courage to answer Your call to take the message to others as Patrick did.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Writing the Truth (Number 47 in a Series)

“That which hath been is that which shall be; and that which hath been done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there a thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been long ago, in the ages which were before us. There is no remembrance of the former generations; neither shall there be any remembrance of the latter generations that are to come, among those that shall come after.” Ecclesiastes 1:9-11, American Standard Version

Why should a Christian writer write? We are cautioned against changing or adding anything to the Scriptures (Revelation 22), so what can we offer? Why bother? I think the reason speaks to us here in Ecclesiastes: although nothing is new here on earth, we humans forget.

As Christian writers, our task is to refresh the memory of our readers with what is in God’s Word. The truth there is powerful enough, exciting enough, eternal enough without us adding to or changing the meaning of it. We only have to retell in it in a way that directs the reader back to the Author of All.

Many ways lie at our disposal. Take a look at Liz Curtis Higgs. She uses a reframing of the Bible truth to tell the story set in a different time, a different land. The truth doesn’t alter, only the faces and the attire of the characters. Read one of her historical novels and find how little human nature has changed through the centuries.

Another avenue involves building around a basic Bible truth and weaving a different story from the threads. This method compels us to face God’s law and love. In the hands of master writers like DiAnn Mills and James Scott Bell, the pattern of the cloth reveals action, suspense and adventure.

Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye collaborated on the powerful ‘Left Behind’ series and put modern faces on John’s Revelation. As readers, we can understand the teachings there more thoroughly through the rousing stories they wrote. They’ve collaborated on other works as well as published solo works.

Michelle Medlock Adams applies her skills in writing children’s books. No age limit exists for Christian readership and she brings truths to little hearts in words they can understand.

The examples represent only a few of the inspirations for people like me-Christians who hope to spread God’s Word through our writing. They write to shine the light of God’s Word on the daily path of their readers.

We fledgling authors can look at them and follow their course. Whether we write fiction or study guides, treatises or devotionals, we can write to glorify Him who gave us the words. Write for publication, write for your church bulletin or write encouraging notes to those around you, but write.

Visit your local Christian store for more ways to find God’s truth in today’s world. If you have a desire to write for Him, Google “Christian writing conference” for an abundance of resources on the local and national level. (I can attest as to the wonderful environment of Write-to-Publish in Wheaton, IL.) You’ll find learning and support.

Father, we thank You for the powerful tool of words. Help us to use them to Your glory. Show us where and how to reach others for you. And thank you for the inspiration of successful Christian authors who teach us ways to spread your word in many formats.

© 2010 Mary Beth Magee

Other Resources:

Chris Fabry - collaborated with Jerry Jenkins on a Left Behind series for kids as well as many of his own solo works

Debbie Fuller Thomas

Mary deMuth

Max Lucado

Jane Rubietta

Cecil B. Murphey

Debbie Macomber

Ann Downing

Don’t be afraid to Google the name of your favorite Christian author to find their webpage. I’ve given you some of my favorites for your convenience. None of the authors asked to be listed or gave any compensation for my reference to them. They are simply people I respect and admire.
Feel free to add your favorites in the comments field.