Hearing the Whispers of God: Three

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Let us be silent that we may hear the whispers of God. Ralph Waldo Emerson

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:16

In contemporary society our Adversary majors in these things: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in “muchness” and “manyness” he will rest satisfied. . .

 In the midst of an exceedingly busy ministry Jesus made a habit of withdrawing to “a lonely place apart.” He did this not just to be away from people, but so he could be with God. What did Jesus do time after time in those deserted hills? He sought out his heavenly Father; he listened to him. And he beckons us to do the same. Richard Foster, The Celebration of Discipline

Can we take time to get away to a lonely place? Why is it so difficult?

Hearing the Whispers of God: Two

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Let us be silent that we may hear the whispers of God. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20

God wants to be heard–but what is our role? 

See, my children, the knocking rests upon no merit of yours—though it is in response to the longing of your heart for Me.

Keep, keep that listening ear. “If any man will hear my voice.” Again no merit of yours. Only the ear bent to catch my tones, and to hear the sound of my gentle knocking. –God Calling

How do we keep “the listening ear?”

Hearing the Whispers of God

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Let us be silent that we may hear the whispers of God. Ralph Waldo Emerson

How do you hear from God? Fenelon writes that God speaks in whispers. Can we be silent long enough to hear from Him?

Don’t listen to your self-nature. Self-love whispers in one ear and God whispers in the other. The first is restless, bold, eager, and reckless; the other is simple, peaceful, and speaks but a few words in a mild, gentle voice. As soon as you listen to the loud voice of self you will not hear the soft tones of holy love. Each speaks only of one thing. Self-love speaks only of self—it never gets enough attention . . .

God’s love, on the other hand, whispers that self should be forgotten—counted as nothing so that God might be all. God wants to completely fill you and unite himself to you. Let the vain, complaining babble of self-love be silenced so that in the stillness of the heart you may listen to the love of God.  Fenelon, The Seeking Heart

What do you think?  Does God speak to us?

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. Hosea 2:14

 

 

The Shepherd knows you by name.

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The Lord is my Shepherd.  Psalm 23:1

Beautiful words by Max Lucado:  

When I see a flock of sheep I see exactly that, a flock.  A rabble of wool.  A herd of hooves.  I don’t see a sheep.  I see sheep.  All alike.  None different.  That’s what I see.  But not so with the shepherd.  To him every sheep is different.  Every face is special.  Every face has a story.  And every sheep has a name. . .  The shepherd knows his sheep. He calls them by name.

When we see a crowd, we see exactly that, a crowd.  Filling a stadium or flooding a mall.  When we see a crowd, we see people, not persons, but people.  A herd of humans.  A flock of faces.  That’s what we see.

But not so with the Shepherd.  To him every face is different.  Every face has a story.  Every face is a child.  Every child has a name. . .  The Shepherd knows you.  He knows your name.      -Max Lucado, Experiencing the Heart of Jesus

God knows your name.  How comforting!

Betsy and Laurie

http://www.WritingSisters.com

15 Surprising People Who Read the Bible

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  1. I read the Bible every day. Denzel Washington <Click to Tweet>
  2. The Bible is worth all the other books which were ever printed. Patrick Henry
  3. A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education. Theodore Roosevelt
  4. I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God. Sir Isaac Newton
  5. I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. Abraham Lincoln <Click to Tweet>
  6. The first and almost only book deserving of universal attention is the Bible. John Quincy Adams
  7. It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible. George Washington
  8. Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face. Ronald Reagan <Click to Tweet>
  9. All that I am I owe to Jesus Christ, revealed to me in His divine Book. David Livingstone
  10. I study the Bible daily. Sir Isaac Newton
  11. The New Testament is the very best book that was or ever will be known in the World. Charles Dickens <Click to Tweet>
  12. It has been my custom for many years to read the Bible in its entirety once a year. John Quincy Adams
  13. The Bible is no mere book, but a Living Creature, with a power that conquers all that oppose it. Napoleon
  14. Never a night goes by, be I ever so tired, but I read the Word of God before I go to bed. Douglas MacArthur
  15. Education is useless without the Bible. Daniel Webster 

Did any of these names surprise you? Are you a Bible reader?

Surrendering

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 According to Merriam-Webster surrender means:  to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc., because you know that you will not win or succeed. to give the control or use of (something) to someone else.

One morning in a coffee shop in Madison Georgia we met to discuss our next writing project and faced a moment of surrender.  Not a waving the white flag kind of moment but a sinking into the acceptance of God’s will.  Were we going to be all in for God with our writing?  In our faith journey we must reach that point of no return with God, “to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc.”

After writing children’s books for twenty years – writing hard, striving pushing, promoting – the success was good and sweet.  Just the letters from children alone were worth the effort.  When we started The Shepherd’s Song we had never written a book for adults – all our manuscripts had been less than 100 pages long.  All of our contacts in publishing were in the children’s world.  Writing a book for adults seemed a little ill-advised and crazy.

We had written down the title. We had discussed the idea. We fought it at first.  But the idea sat before us on a piece of paper on the table of the coffee shop. Beside the paper an open Bible turned to Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Ps 23:1

 The very words that prompted our idea challenged us as writers.  Could we believe God’s promises in the psalm?  Sometimes our first reaction to a calling from God is fear and resistance. “We can’t”  ”We have never”  “There’s no way”  We said all those things but as we let go of our resistance and surrendered to the idea, the fear was replaced by excitement.

Try to give your agenda to God. Keep saying, ‘Your will be done, not mine.’ Give every part of your heart and your time to God and let God tell you what to do, where to go, when and how to respond. God does not want you to destroy yourself. Exhaustion, burnout, and depression are not signs that you are doing God’s will. God is gentle and loving. God desires to give you a deep sense of safety in God’s love. Once you have allowed yourself to experience that love fully, you will be better able to discern who you are being sent to in God’s name.  Henri Nouwen

By the next day we had each completed drafts of one of the first stories of the book. When we surrender we can let go of fear and accept any outcome. 

In the surrender of any work there is a moment of fear, a moment of resistance, then a moment of relinquishing and finally the excitement and joy and peace.  We have that peace as we move forward in our work trusting God and surrendering to His will. Surrender removes the fear of failure.

 Can you relate to this issue of surrender?  Where do you struggle with it?

Betsy and Laurie

Shared first on Julie Arduini’s blog.

Be Transformed!

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 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. 
I Corinthians 13:12

There’s something magical about seeing your work published – and you never know when that moment of joy will come.  You stroll out to your mailbox one day, not expecting anything special; and voilà, there it is.  You rip it open and beam with joy.  After all that work, lots of ups and downs, struggles and triumphs, your initial idea has been transformed, and you are face to face with your words in print.

When we first begin a new writing project we are filled with excitement and hope and promise.  We have no idea what the finished product will look like, but we eagerly rewrite, get critiques, rewrite again and again – all the while watching a transformation take place. We eventually pass it on to an editor and illustrator, where more transformation occurs.  Then eventually, it is finished.

The Shepherd’s Song was like this.  When the idea came, we did not know what the final book would look like.  We had to have faith that our work would be shaped and used by God. We got glimpses of the final book along the way.  First the printed pages.  Then the cover art.  The bound galley.  A jacket proof.  Finally face to face we held the book.

The Christian life too, is filled with ups and downs, struggles and triumphs, joys and sorrows.  Like a book, our lives are being written, edited and transformed.  We start with great excitement and hope and promise; then transformation begins.  It’s hard work, but slowly we are transformed more and more to the image of Christ.

Best of all, there is a moment coming when all the work will be done, and we will see our Savior face to face.  It is hard to imagine what such a moment will be like – the magnification of joy and awe and wonder.

Our experiences in this world teach us about God, and transform us more and more into His image. 

Amazing!

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 

Galatians 6:9

Why Write?

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Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.   

Psalm 115:1

There’s a question we should ask ourselves at the beginning of each creative endeavor: a painting, a musical piece, a book, a meal for our families, a fingerpainting project with the kids.

The question is: “Why?”  Why are we making it, singing it, sewing it, cooking it, writing it?

The Shepherd’s Song dedication page has only three letters:  SDG. But those three letters represent so much to us. The letters stand for the Latin term, Soli Deo Gloria, which means Glory to God Alone. Artists like Bach and Handel wrote these letters on their work to show that the work was created for the purpose of praising God.

In the creation of their compositions they found meaning and purpose by dedicating their work to God for His glory. It changed their work from earthly work to holy work.

To God alone belongs the glory.

We can ask the same question about all of our creative efforts. Are they for God’s glory or for our own glory?   What is the intent of our hearts as we paint and write and cook and care for others?

If we can add those three letters, any work becomes holy work.

What difference does is make if our goal in all our endeavors is God’s glory? What do you think?

Betsy and Laurie

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Learning From a Shepherd

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A visit to a shepherd taught us about God.

What does it mean for God to be your shepherd?  What does a shepherd do?  Why would God’s people be compared to sheep? Research in books taught us a lot.  But we needed more.

We found the sheep farm online and scheduled a visit with Keith Odom, a modern day shepherd in North Georgia.  There is nothing like a road trip and soon we were on our way.  What did we learn about sheep?  Lots.  But more important is what we learned about The Shepherd. (capital S!)

What captured our imaginations and hearts the most was “Bucket Time”.  After Keith would feed the sheep he would take time to sit on the overturned feed bucket and watch the sheep.  Some never realized he was there.  Some ignored him.  Others came looking for another bit of food.  But some came, wanting to be with him.  What perfect picture of God and our choice of interaction with Him.

It was moving to see how tenderly this man cared for his sheep.  How he thought only of their wellbeing.  Does God love us like that?

He made himself available to the sheep but never forced their affection. Does God wait for us, hoping that we will come to Him?

Keith rejoiced when the sheep came to him to nuzzle or be petted.  He loved their gratitude.  Does God rejoice when we remember to thank him for all that he does for us?

The answers that we discovered:  Yes, yes, and yes.

Look at the responses of the sheep: Some never realized he was there.  Some ignored him.  Others came looking for another bit of food. Some came wanting to be with him. 

 Which response do you relate to in your spiritual journey?   He’s waiting for you.

Betsy and Laurie

http://www.WritingSisters.com

 Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3

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by Duffey Myers

Finding An Agent

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After twenty years of writing for children we felt called to make a change. We had not needed an agent before. Twenty years ago you could still have a manuscript read by a publisher without an agent, especially in the world of children’s books. Once we had a relationship with a publishing house we didn’t feel the need. Now that we were writing a book for adults, The Shepherd’s Song, and we were writing about our faith – the rules had changed. We needed an agent – but how could we find the right one?

Today we are on Vonda Skelton’s blog sharing 10 things we learned about finding an agent on our quest to write and publish The Shepherd’s Song.  read more

Betsy and Laurie

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