I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Times When Science Finally Agreed with the Bible

We all remember studying when folks thought that the earth was flat. Sailors were afraid to sail too far away from land for fear of falling off the edge of the earth. But the Book of Isaiah, written way back in 740 BC, spoke of the One who "sits on the sphere" of the earth. (Check the Hebrew meaning of that word "sphere", since some translations render it differently.) In any case, scientific discoveries have since proved that the world is indeed a sphere, just like the Bible said.

The book of Job, written in approximately 1440 BC, describes a Behemoth that many first thought referred to an elephant. There was one problem with that though. Job says it's tail is "like a cedar", hardly the tail of an elephant. Finally Paleontologists have studied the discoveries of the dinosaurs fossils that did indeed have huge tails. Hmm, the Bible was accurate after all.

In Psalm 8:8, David wrote about "the paths of the seas". Then in 1855, Matthew Maury published a book about ocean currents. Once again, scientific discoveries caught up with the Word of God.

For a long time men even thought that the earth sat on the back of a giant turtle or elephant. But Job wrote long ago that God "hangs the earth on nothing." (Job 26:7)

Shipbuilders now say the ideal dimensions for ship stability is a length 6 times the width. When God told Noah the size for the Ark, it just happens that He told him to make it 300 cubits by 50 cubits--the perfect dimension for stability!

Hebrews 11:3 states that the worlds were made out of things not visible. Sounds like electrons, neutrons, and protons, doesn't it?

And a world-wide flood sounded like fiction until scientists discovered evidence of rapidly deposited sediment layers and fossils of sea creatures high above sea level.

Folks always agreed that on a clear night, lots of stars are visible, but for the Bible to say they could not be counted? Really! Oh, until more powerful telescopes were invented. Now we know there are too many to count because we just keep finding more and more.

It has taken men centuries, but science keeps ticking away, making more discoveries, and at the end--finally agreeing with the Bible.

Can you think of more instances?


Tuesday, April 21, 2015


So, have you ever had one of those experiences where you were so sure you could see where God was taking you? Like you just knew what He was doing because it was just so obvious…and then He did something completely different?

Yep, me too. Often.

I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to read God’s mind. As it turns out, I’m not very good at it.

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent 2014 working on a story about a car accident that changed my life. Back in December, I entered my book in the Tyndale Re:Write Ragged Edge Writing Contest. The prize was a publishing deal with Tyndale and the option of representation by the Fedd Literary Agency. When I made it into the top ten finalists, I was thrilled. We had a month to raise the funds to make the trip to Austin, Texas for the Re:Write Conference in February. God, as always, was faithful to provide through some amazing friends and family, and on February 25, my husband and I boarded a plane bound for Austin.

Considering the way things had unfolded to this point, it seemed like God was lining things up to take this book to publication. Everything fell right into place, and I allowed myself to think I might actually win the contest. And even if I didn’t win, I was going to a writing conference…I would have a chance to pitch the book—a contest finalist—to editors and agents. Either way, I could see the perfect path God seemed to by laying out before me.

As soon as I stepped into the conference, I knew it was going to be different. Instead of moving through various tracks of classes, all the attendees were in the same room, taking part in the same classes. And when I found out there were no agent/editor appointments, I had a small moment of panic. This was not at all what I expected.

At the end of the first night, I attended the conference banquet where they announced the winner of the contest. It wasn’t me.

I was so sure I knew what God was going to do at this conference. It made perfect sense to me. But He didn’t do any of it the way I thought He should. I was disappointed and confused. I wasn’t going to have an opportunity to pitch my book, and I hadn’t won the contest. Craig took a week of vacation and we spent so much money getting to this conference…and for nothing?

Here’s the thing: too often we look to the future and we see certain doors open, and we assume that God is going to do the obvious. So we walk through those doors with preconceived ideas about what’s behind them…and we are disappointed when we find something completely different. Sometimes we even feel a little betrayed by what we find.

But let’s be honest. God’s Way is ALWAYS the best way. His timing is ALWAYS perfect. His plan is ALWAYS so much better than anything we could come up with. We just have to be willing to let go of our own plans, trust He knows what He’s doing, and then wait for Him to be awesome.

Did this conference turn out the way I wanted? Nope. 

Was this conference EXACTLY what I needed? Absolutely.

Although the Re:Write Conference was very different than any I've been to before, it was perfect. Writers of fiction and nonfiction, writers of every level, all sat together while speakers like Ted Dekker, Mark Batterson, Mary DeMuth, Susan May Warren, George Barna, and Sandi Krakowski stood in front of us and shared their messages. And their messages were beautiful. It was almost like a church service...for writers.

In addition, no pitching made for a much more relaxed atmosphere. I could actually focus on what the speakers were saying rather than worrying about my pitch. In addition, God sent precious encouragement through friendships. I enjoyed a mini Ponderer reunion with Alena and Susie May, and their hugs were much-needed. I got to see my friend Kim for the first time since we met at my very first conference in 2009. And I met another finalist who lives only about 20 minutes from my house, so I even found a non-fiction writing partner.

Most importantly, I discovered that my book was not ready for publication, because it wasn’t written the way GOD wanted it written. Without planning it, nearly every speaker  expressed a similar message: if we hope to move our readers, we have to be willing to dig deep to that raw, vulnerable, dark place no one wants to go and then bleed our words onto the page. By the end of the conference, I realized that despite convincing myself I’d written from that place, I'd written my chapters from a safer, more superficial place. I knew that although my story was powerful, my writing was not. And I knew I was going to have to go home and Re:Write.

In addition, all the speakers shared something extremely challenging: if God is calling us to write a specific story or a specific genre or in a specific timeframe and we do not, we are disobedient. And as we all know, disobedience to God is SIN. Ouch!! Sin? Just because I didn’t sit down and write when I knew I was supposed to? Just because I thought I could write what I wanted rather than what God wanted? Just because I didn’t want to dig up all of my pain and write from a place of total brokenness? Just because I thought God would settle for my good rather than my best?

Yes. Just because ALL of the above.

I didn’t win the contest and I didn’t sign an agent; in fact, very little of what happened that weekend was what I expected. But I came home a winner, with a new purpose and a desire to worship God with what I write.

(Because I know you’re all curious, the guy who did win has a DYNAMO of a book called 41 Will Come. It was an honor to lose to him! I can’t wait to read his book and see what God does with it...it is going to bless and encourage a LOT of people!)

Is there something God has called you to do, but you’ve hesitated to move forward? Do you agree that not using your talents—even for creative purposes—constitutes sin?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I Murdered My Story

By Jennie Atkins
One day I sat at my desk, staring at my computer, and cried. I couldn’t put one coherent sentence together. It went far beyond what authors refer to as writers block. It was a total brain stop.
I had taken time from writing to learn more about the craft. I listened to and read books, blogs, and websites from great authors such as James Scott Bell, Randy Ingermanson, and of course our own Susan May Warren. I had underlined, circled, highlighted and copied text all in an effort to improve my writing, but as a result I got so caught up in the mechanics that I couldn’t put two words in print without questioning if it was right.
With each word of the story I asked myself:  Had I followed the rules? Did I omit the dreaded was? Did I outline enough? Do I have enough conflict to keep my readers drawn to the next page? Did I build in enough story world.
Before I had a paragraph done I had been its judge, jury and executioner. With one resounding slam of the gavel (or should I say the lid of my computer) I sentenced my story to death.
I’d type, delete, revise and type some more. Some would call it my internal editor.  Believe me, this went f-a-r beyond normal editing. I second guessed my word usage, my grammar, my mechanics, and I questioned if my writing met the standards of the plethora of guidance books I had read.
Can anyone say obsessive perfectionist???
As a result, I had lost my joy of writing. My characters lay sprawled across the floor of my office in a bloody heap like something out of a horror film.
My will to learn as much as possible about the craft had left me incapacitated when it came to writing a novel.
Then one day a fellow Ponderer encouraged me to write just to be writing.  Write a blog, a gardening post, a letter—anything to keep the flow moving forward.  Don’t look down at what was written, don’t ask myself if this would fit in with anything I learned, don’t second guess what I was doing…just write.
I did and I’m trying.
What I had to learn was, God gave me the ability to write using MY ideas, MY experiences, and MY style.  There is no right or wrong in writing. It’s all about getting words down on paper.  I don’t have to be James Scott Bell or Susan May Warren.  I have to be ME and use what God has given ME.  
Also, it sure doesn’t have to be “perfect”, because I know full well there are plenty of books on the library shelves that are far from perfect. Therefore, I shouldn’t beat myself up over it.
Will the ideas from the craft books help?  Absolutely.  But, first I have to stop murdering my story and my characters and get the words down on paper. MY words. MY story.
Have you ever had this problem?  How did you solve it?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Source of Inspiration

Delores E. Topliff

Caedmon Audio is an imprint of Harper Collins audiobooks. Its name changed from Caedmon Records when it stopped making classical recordings to produce CDs only. Caedmon’s Call is a contemporary Christian band fusing traditional folk with world music and alternative rock.  

Both are named for one of my heroes, a 7th-century stable-hand at Whitby Monastery, England. Anglo-Saxons loved singing. Men gathered evenings to share stories through song with everyone expected to contribute. Caedmon returned to the stable to tend the animals because he couldn’t read or write and had no tale to sing.

After he fell asleep, a man spoke to him in a vision, "Caedmon, sing me something." Caedmon replied that he could not sing—that 's why he was in the stable, not the hall.
"Yet you could sing," the man said, suggesting Caedmon sing “the beginning of all things." Still in his dream, Caedmon began singing his Hymn of Creation:

Now let us praise the Guardian of the heavenly kingdom,
The power of the Creator
And the counsel of His mind
The works of the Father of glory,
How he, the eternal Lord, originated every marvel.

When Caedmon awoke, he remembered the verses and sang them perfectly. The monks recognized his divine gift and persuaded him to become a monk.

He still didn’t learn to read or write, but heard other monks tell Bible stories and sang them as beautifully metered Anglo-Saxon poetry that the common folk loved and understood. Others followed Caedmon’s example, and through that means Bible teaching reached the hearts of England’s people in their own language for the first time.

All recognized Caedmon’s inspiration was from God, but ours is no different. Whether we’re hard at work writing, or pursuing crystal-clear spoken communication, the ideas, imagery, and the words to express them are inspired by God. Our part is to listen, and like Caedmon, partner with God to bring more of His beauty into this world.

Share the last time God gave you ideas and words to express them and you know He helped you do it? Thanks for sharing.