Tuesday, March 19, 2013

To Be Known

"The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims His handiwork..." Psalm 19:1

Why Do We Do What We Do?

Whenever I teach young people about who God is, I always ask them the question, "Why did God create?"

And they usually sit and stare at me, not knowing how to answer.

Did He create because He had a need to fulfill?

No. God is perfect, complete, and eternal and has no needs.

So, why, then, did He create?

Think about it.

God chose the written word to communicate to His people.

To Be Known

Why do we writers write?  Why do artists paint or draw? Why do singers sing?

To be known.

God created in order to be known. To be is to do! If God never moved, we would never know who He is.

We can know much about God by looking at His creation all around us. It is no coincidence that He chose to have his special revelation in written form.

We writers write in order to be known by our readers. Otherwise, why write at all?

We were created in the image of God. He created to be known. We desire to create in order to be known.

But our methods and our desires are flawed by our sin.

 Instead, our desire is about getting an agent...signing a book deal with a top publisher...building a platform...selling millions of copies!

Otherwise, we are...*gasp*...a failure in our own eyes.

What To Do About It...

Give it away!  Give your book to the Lord. Hand it to Him and tell Him it is ALL HIS.

Acknowledge that it may never be published. It may never be read by anyone. It may never be known.

And that's ok!

Your story is known by the eternal living God.

That should be enough.



It is imperative for Christian writers to stop and reflect on why we write in the first place.

Is it for our glory?  Or God's glory?

Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth:

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."  1 Corinthians 10:31

Because we are flawed with sin, our desires can become tainted.

Stop today and contemplate the Lord's glory. How can He use your writing to further His Kingdom here on earth?

Why do you write? To be known?

Or for God to be known through you?

In whatever you do...do it all to the glory of God.

And He will be known through all your gifts and talents...and stories!

Isn't that what it's all about?

Your turn: Do you struggle with the purpose of your writing? What do you do about that struggle?


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Vanity, Vanity...All is Vanity! Even Running

"Vanity, vanity...all is vanity!"  Ecclesiastes 1:2

You're So Vain

I can see why the Apostle Paul used running as a metaphor in his letters. There are so many life lessons in running!

Back in 2008, when I trained for my first marathon, I realized something for the first time.

Running is vain.

And when I came to this realization...the Lord did something amazing.

He showed me that 1 Corinthians 10:31 is TRUTH.

"So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."  

And he brought a good friend's daughter into my life. She was diagnosed with a rare disease and needed money for treatment. The Lord decided to use the marathon run as a fundraiser for this little girl's family.

And that's when I realized that even in running we must do all to the glory of God.

That's Why I Run

I had a chance to run a short race this weekend to help raise money for cancer research. This research was to fight children's cancer.

My cousin joined in the fun and ran her first 5K race!

It was about 37 degrees out that morning, too. I started to complain about the cold and wind, but then I saw the little boy selected to start the race for us.

He is in the middle of a fight for his life. He is being treated for leukemia.  He is nine years old.

How can I complain about a little cold weather in the midst of such a hero? Running in a little rain is nothing compared to what this little boy faces everyday.

So, on the way home I explained to my cousin that I only participate in races that help raise money or provide support for those in need.


Because otherwise it's all in vain.

Finish the Race

To tell you the truth, in the middle of a marathon I start to think about quitting. It starts to seriously hurt...I mean HURT...around mile 19 for me. But I can ignore it until mile 23. Some can run 100 miles, but 26.2 is it for me, so far.

So, if I was running the race just to say "Look at me! I finished" or just to received a medal or just to be able to post on Facebook that I did it, well, I would have quit running at mile 23 and went home!

But at around mile 20-23 I picture the faces of kids I know who are battling cancer and rare diseases. Kids like Katie Wagner or Hana Boscarino.

And when I think about what these kids endure...some of the most painful chemotherapy treatments known...how can I quit a race I volunteered to run?

No, these kids make me run faster. They keep me in the race and make the pain worth it knowing that these races raise money in order to help find a cure and provide treatments for these kids.

Never Quit

I run for a cause. No cause, no motivation!

The Lord gave me the ability to run and now I try to do it all to the glory of God.

I'm not the fastest runner, I'm not the most accomplished, but I have learned to do it when I don't want to and to endure to the end when everything in me says quit.

Running...like all things...is vanity.

But that doesn't mean it can't be used to the glory of God!

So keep running!


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Portrait of Forgiveness

A Portrait

I spoke with my students about forgiveness the other day. We had a Holocaust survivor come to our school to speak about his experiences during WWII. Part of his talk was about how he had forgiven those Nazis who had killed his father. 


Because hatred is futile. That's what he said to us: hatred is futile. 

So, I decided to "paint a portrait" of forgiveness using words from a story so that my students could see better what our distinguished guest meant...

Corrie Ten Boom

 After WWII, Corrie Ten Boom began traveling throughout Europe speaking about her experiences during the Holocaust and how her family hid Jewish people from the Nazis. She also spoke about the consequences her family endured once they were caught. 

But it was when she spoke in Germany that her life was forever changed. 

During her speeches, Corrie often spoke about how she had forgiven those who hurt her family. She had often spoke about how Christ...the love of Christ...had helped her to forgive.

And then it happened after a speaking engagement in Munich....

“It was in a church in Munich that I saw him—a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken, moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives.

“It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown. ‘When we confess our sins,’ I said, ‘God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. …’

“The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. There were never questions after a talk in Germany in 1947. People stood up in silence, in silence collected their wraps, in silence left the room.
“And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!

[Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent.]

“Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: ‘A fine message, Fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!’

“And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?

“But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.

“ ‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,’ he was saying, ‘I was a guard there.’ No, he did not remember me.
“ ‘But since that time,’ he went on, ‘I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein,’ again the hand came out—’will you forgive me?’

“And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

“It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

“For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’

“I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.

“And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’

“And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“ ‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’

“For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then”

(Excerpted from “I’m Still Learning to Forgive” by Corrie ten Boom. Reprinted by permission from Guideposts Magazine. Copyright © 1972 by Guideposts Associates, Inc., Carmel, New York 10512>).


What an amazing portrait of forgiveness!

What an amazing portrait of what God's love can do. Our distinguished guest knew this, too. He knows that to hate the Gestapo men who killed his father would never bring his father back and hatred would only keep him forever trapped there inside that ghetto prison. 

Perhaps there is someone you need to forgive. Perhaps the very thought of forgiving them paralyzes you as it did Corrie Ten Boom.

But when we stop and remember the grace God poured out on us through Jesus Christ, we cannot help but cry out for Him to move us to forgive as He forgave us. As Corrie said, "Forgiveness is an act of will..."

Only when we let go can we be free.

Corrie is in heaven now. She is truly free. 

And she has seen the perfect portrait of forgiveness in the face of Christ. 

Your turn:  Have you ever hesitated to forgive someone who hurt you? How did God move you to forgive?