Saturday, 30 October 2010

Scribbling Saturday Web Site Review: My Writers Circle

This site is a forum for discussion and help with all things connected with writing. As well as general discussion boards, there are boards for grammar and editing, job ads, web resources, writing games and challenges.

Also: "Many members join MWC with a view to getting feedback on their writing. That's fine, and we have various boards dedicated to this purpose: Review My Work for Prose, Review My Poetry and Poetry Workshop for poems, and Review My Script for TV, film, radio and stage scripts. We do, however, suggest that before you post your work for review, you take the time to read and comment on at least three items submitted by other members. This is partly a simple courtesy; but, in addition, seeing how other people present their work can be very helpful in deciding how to post your own writing when the time comes."

So this is a resource for your writing, with tips and advice, and also somewhere you can get comments on your work. I haven't used it myself yet, but it looks like a good site.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Thinking Thursday: A Change of Mind

When we become Christians, we don't just do some things differently, we have a complete change of mind. That is the meaning of the word 'repent.' The first word of Peter to the people (Acts 2:38), of John the Baptist (Matt.3:1-2), and of Jesus to the people (Matt.4:17) was 'repent.' Only as people see the sheer goodness and glory of Christ, do they see themselves in a true light and become aware of the real nature of their sin and need. They need to change their mind about a lot of things.

Rom.12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind
Prov.23:7 AV As he thinketh in his heart so is he

Only God can read our hearts. The way we tell that a person has truly repented is because of a change of behaviour as evidence of a change of heart. The first thing is confession of sins. The second is fruit.

Matt.3:6 Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the Jordan River
Luke 3:8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance

Our inward change should show outwardly in our lives and our behaviour.

Luke 3:10-11 "What should we do then?" the crowd asked. John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."
Matt.25:35-36, 40 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." … "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

In business:
Luke 3:12-13 Tax collectors also came to be baptised. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?" "Don't collect any more than you are required to," he told them.
Luke 19:8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."
Eph.6:7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.

With money:
Luke 3:14 Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He replied, "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely – be content with your pay."
1 Tim.6:10-11 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
Mark 10:23 … "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"

These are just a few examples of the changes that should be seen in a genuinely transformed life. That is why James said, "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?" (James 2:14) This has been greatly misunderstood. James is not saying that deeds save you, but if you are truly saved, if you have a changed heart, then it will show in the things you do. The faith that is claimed but has no fruit is no real faith.

There was an old question that said, "If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" Has your behaviour proved your change of mind?

[Based on Christ For Real by Charles W Price]

Monday, 25 October 2010

Scribbling Saturday Web Site Review: Sixty Minute Story

This is a site of short stories which can be read in sixty minutes. Good for readers and writers - accepts submissions. From the site:

The aim of

•To provide a book format standard and SMS quality mark for books with specific characteristics, designed and optimised for reading on digital devices.

•To help writers by providing resources, tips and tools to help write and publish their Sixty Minute Story.

•To provide readers with resources to find and download Sixty Minute Stories which are readable on cellphones, computers, e-book readers such as the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader, as well as the iPhone and iPod touch.

•To act as a resource of news and developments with the Sixty Minute Story.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Thinking Thursday: Living on God's Terms

The terms of Christian living are not up for debate or for negotiation. I live the Christian life on God's terms, or I do not live it at all. Salvation may be free, but you have to surrender your life to get it.

Matt.6:24 No one can serve two masters
Rom.14:9 … so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living
2 Cor.5:15 … no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them

Do we want Christ as our servant but not as our master? To meet our needs but not tell us what to do? That is not the way it works.

Acts 2:36 God made this Jesus … both Lord and Christ
Phil.2:9-10 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow …

The issue is not one of 'making' Christ Lord of our lives, God has already made him Lord. We have to submit to him as Lord, and allow him to direct our lives. When Jesus said:

Luke 14:26 If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.

There is nothing wrong with these relationships, they are important and good, but Christ takes priority over good things as well as bad. In the same way, when Jesus said:

Luke 14:33 Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple

It does not mean that Jesus will take everything away, but that it will now function under his authority and be conducive to his purposes. If that seems hard, and we do not trust him to direct our lives, it is because we do not know God well enough.

2 Tim.1:12 I know whom I have believed … I am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him
John 17:3 eternal life is knowing God and Christ
Rom.12:2 his good, pleasing and perfect will

Sometimes the plans of God have taken his people through pain and suffering as they have allowed themselves to be the means of his will being accomplished. There is a price to pay for obedience. It takes us to the front line of the battle with Satan and his cohorts, and we are not exempt from danger, tears or pain. But through it, beyond the immediate suffering, beyond the unanswered questions, beyond the pain of battle, there is good that God is accomplishing, and it is perfect, and when we see the whole picture there will be no doubt that it is pleasing.

Gen.50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good
Job 23:10 He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I shall come forth as gold
Job 2:10 Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?

We are never told in scripture to ask God to show us his will for our personal lives.

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths (Prov.3:6).

We are not told to pray for guidance, but to acknowledge him. Directing our paths is God's responsibility, and God is under no obligation to explain what he is doing. Every day is in his hands and he is never caught unaware.

[Based on Christ For Real by Charles W Price]

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Scribbling Saturday Web Site Review:

Every writer needs a good dictionary, so I recommend a good dictionary site. This site is much more than a dictionary. It has a Thesaurus, Flashcards for building your vocabulary, a section on Quotes, and an Encyclopaedia. There is also a blog. A site well worth bookmarking for when you need it, as well as browsing through to improve your vocabulary.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Thinking Thursday: Catalogue Mentality

The Bible contains much encouragement and many promises. New Christians need to be guided in understanding verses like 'Ask and it will be given to you' (Matt.7:7). It is easy to get the idea that the Bible is like a catalogue. You study the Bible to find out all the wonderful things God has in store for you, put in your order through prayer, and it is the job of the Holy Spirit to bring them to you. The only thing is that they don't last, so you have to request them again at frequent intervals.

In reality, the things God has in store for us are not commodities, but character. The things asked for are to be an active expression of the presence of God in your life. He wants to bring out his qualities in your life.

2 Cor.4:11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.
Eph.2:10 For we are God's workmanship …

The idea that God will give us anything we want falls down when bad things happen and trials come. We would not wish for them so we can start to wonder if we are being punished for being unfaithful in some way. This is dangerous thinking. Even the bad things in our lives can be used by God for our benefit.

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be pure and complete, not lacking anything.

James goes on to say, 'If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.' (James 1:5). Understanding why we do not get all we ask for and the place of suffering in our lives is important to prevent discouragement. Ask God to help you understand.

Another mistake is to try and do things for God, instead of letting him do things through you.

1 Thess.5:24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
Phil.2:12-13 … continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Exodus 14:13-14 … Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today… The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Heb.12:1-2 … let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith …
Phil.1:6 … being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

If you have given your life to Jesus, be sure he will keep it safe. But he wants to perfect it for you to present it before God at the end.

2 Cor.3:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

[Based on Christ For Real by Charles W Price]

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Scribbling Saturday: NaNoWriMo

I have just signed up for NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. Click the title for the web site. The idea is to write a 50,000 word novel in a month, November. It works out at about 1700 words a day. I always said if I had time, I would write. Now, I have no excuse.

The idea is just to write. No judgement, no editing, no checking. Just write. You are allowed to plan - outline, chapters, character studies. But you do all the actual writing in November. I figure that even if I don't succeed, I will have several thousand words of a new novel.

I am going to write a new Kestrel novel. I think it will give me a head start to use existing characters. For those who don't know, the Kestrel is a fast response spaceship with a crew of twelve, which works for the Planetary Alliance for Cooperation and Trade. I have written two novels which are in various stages of editing. Whether any of them will ever be good enough to publish, but I have lots of fun writing them.

In the past I have written in fits and starts with very little planning, so the whole exercise will be good discipline for me. I am using October to plan, so wish me luck. Anyone who also wants to get involved, do leave me your details so we can encourage each other.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Thinking Thursday: God's Glory In Us

No matter how good we feel about ourselves, we don't have the right perspective until we can see that we are actually no good at all. Created in God's image, we may have the capacity for goodness, but we lack the capability to do it.

Rom.7:15-18 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

No matter how hard we try, we will always fall short.

Rom.3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

This is not to say that we are almost there, as in "If I had got one more question right, I would have passed the exam." The word 'sin' is an archery term, and means 'to miss the target'. There is a show on TV called Total Wipeout in which contestants have to complete an obstacle course. One of the obstacles is to get from a springboard to a platform via a trapeze. So many contestants miss the trapeze, and fall in the mud. Even if they get their fingers to it, if they do not have a strong grip, they fail. It is the same with our lives – all or nothing. God's glory demands perfection because God's character is perfection.

But many people today don't see this. Although they would admit they are not perfect, they think they are doing quite well. We cannot recognise sin until we recognise the target. Have you ever aimed at something, like in the shooting gallery at the Fair, missed, and joked with your friends, "I meant to do that." Until you acknowledge what the target actually is, you will not be able to recognise that you have missed it, fallen short. And only then can you accept that you need help.

But Paul is telling us that we have fallen short of the glory of God. So our target is 'the glory of God.' What is that? How can we know what that looks like?

John 1:14 The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the only begotten Son who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Heb.1:3 The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being …

So Jesus showed us God's glory. That is why Jesus lived as he did.

John 5:19 the Son can do nothing by himself… only what he sees the Father doing
John 8:28 I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father taught me
John 14:10 it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work

Like an electric light bulb, which by itself can do nothing. It will not give light when placed on the table, it will only give light when electric current flows through it. So in the same way, God's glory shone through Jesus because of his relationship with God. And the same can be true for us. Jesus told us:

John 15:5 Apart from me you can do nothing

and Paul said:

Phil.4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength

Everything is not whatever we wish to do, but all that God has planned and intends for us. Indeed, Jesus also said:

Luke 1:37 For nothing is impossible with God

To be indwelt by God, giving him the freedom to be at work in us and through us makes 'nothing' an impossibility. Before, it was impossible to do anything, now it is impossible to do nothing! When we enter into that right relationship with God, Paul tells us:

1 Thess.5:9-10 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Col.1:27 Christ in you, the hope of glory

'Glory' is not heaven, but that which we have sinned and come short of – the character of God.

2 Cor.3:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

[Based on Christ For Real by Charles W Price]