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Friday, November 9, 2007

Write On!

As a mentor for the Jerry Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, I coach more than 120 aspiring writing students. Some are nearing the course’s completion date. Some have just started. The rest are scattered between start and finish. However, all of my students want to pursue an effective writing ministry and are willing to work at improving their skills.
I wish every student could become a published author, but I’m sure it’s an idle wish. Out of the thousands of manuscripts that land on editors’ desks on any given day, only a few get published. Good writing demands careful research, creative thinking, a commitment to excellence, and a bulldogged determination to write on, in spite of rejection notices. I believe some of my students will see their work in print because their writing sparkles and offers significant take-away value. Others, however, would be well advised not to quit their day jobs.
I am especially encouraged by the presence of Christian writing students in many countries. Although most of my students live in the United States and Canada, some live in such places as the United Kingdom, Chile, India, Africa, and China. Who can tell how far-reaching their Christian influence will extend as they employ their writing skills?
Christian writing should not be confined to a Christian audience. As you have browsed in a Christian bookstore or scanned the pages of a Christian publisher’s book catalog, have you noticed almost all the titles target Christian readers? What are Christian writers doing to reach out to non-Christians with quality books—books that scratch where readers itch, persuade in a winsome way, and present God’s message as relevant and life-changing.
You may not see yourself as a potential book author, but perhaps you can write an effective letter to the newspaper editor about a moral issue. Perhaps you can share your testimony with a non-Christian relative or friend by writing a warmhearted letter. The spoken word is powerful, but the power of a well-crafted written message lasts far beyond what we say.

“Write down the revelation and make it plain . . . “ (Habakkuk 2:2).

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Hand Me a Towel!

I don’t want to be super critical, but it seems to me egos are running wild not only in sports, entertainment, business, and politics, but also in the church. Over-inflated egos, like body snatchers, have even taken control of some pastors. They function more like hard-nosed CEOs than shepherds. They fleece the flock rather than feed it. They set their sights on building a big church, and use or abuse their followers in order to reach that goal. They operate by an it’s my-way-or-the-highway mentality. Have they forgotten the servant-leader role Jesus modeled? Or have they simply rejected it, thinking it can’t possibly work in our goal-driven, worldly-success-oriented culture?
Jesus commanded us to follow His example of serving others. He also demonstrated what it means to serve. He taught His disciples that He had come to earth to serve and not to be served. True greatness is that of humbling oneself not in exalting oneself. In the Upper Room, He performed a humble servant’s task by taking a towel and washing His disciples’ feet. On the Cross, He made the supreme sacrifice on behalf of others. He died for our sins.
Yesterday, I moved into the church office in Penrose, read the Church’s statement of Faith and Practice and the Church Directory, and began calling members of the congregation and recent visitors to learn how I can serve them. I want to lead the congregation by serving. I may be out of step with Madison Avenue, but I want to be in step with the Master. So, hand me a towel!

Monday, November 5, 2007

First Day of Interim Ministry in Penrose

Yesterday was another glorious Colorado day. The sky was deep blue and the sun shone brightly. The temperature reached into the 70s by the time the morning service ended and the people drove to a family’s spacious property for a cookout.
The food and fellowship were excellent, and the hosts’ talented son provided a spectacular demonstration of dirt bike aerobatics. Time after time, he sped up a ramp, soared high over a ridge, and landed perfectly in a short landing area. It was quite a sight!
What a friendly, receptive group of believers welcomed me to Beaver Park Friends Church in Penrose for my first Sunday as interim pastor! I look forward to getting to know everyone better.
I would appreciate your prayers for spiritual and numeric growth as the congregation and I partner together to share the gospel in Penrose and beyond.
I am grateful Jesus affirmed His unlimited authority when He gave the Great Commission. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations . . . “ (Matthew 28:18. 19). The command to “go” is vital to the success of the gospel ministry, and having received authority to go, we cannot be silent.