Excerpt: “An Invitation to Forgive: A Study of the Book of Philemon”

Submission by Margaret Armanious

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Available on Amazon

Suppose you were to open your mailbox and spot an unusual piece of mail. A glimpse of your name, handwritten in calligraphy, tells you this isn’t just another bill. Pushing aside the junk mail like tares from the wheat, you snatch the envelope and open the gold-lined seal to find. . .

An invitation.

It is from a friend and offers you the chance to mend a broken relationship.

You may scoff, “An invitation to forgiveWhy would anyone want an invitation like that?”

And yet, that is exactly the type of invitation the Apostle Paul presents in his letter to Philemon. In a manner that is both brilliant and appealing, Paul urges Philemon to take back his runaway slave, Onesimus. He challenges Philemon to see forgiveness as a privilege, an invitation to be accepted or declined. It was Philemon’s choice to make.

Would Philemon have the character to see past his anger to the benefits the invitation offered him, or would he hang on to resentment and miss the blessing?

This verse-by-verse Bible Study is for anyone who struggles with forgiveness or longs for reconciliation in broken relationships. It addresses and examines the dynamics of forgiveness, such as:

  • Can true forgiveness ever be commanded?
  • Does loyalty and harmony come by compulsion?
  • What is the character of someone who forgives?
  • On what basis should we forgive someone who has offended us?

This study not only sheds light on the answers to these questions but also presents the Biblical principles on which they are based. It is written in an easy-to-read, interactive format, guiding the reader to identify his own invitation to forgive—an invitation ultimately written to all of us.

About Margaret Armanious

Armanious is an administrative assistant and makes her home in Houston, TX. She expresses her passion for God’s Word by writing interactive Bible studies, devotions, and maintaining her blog, Ministry in Words. Armanious has also written numerous articles for Christian online magazines and has been recognized for her award-winning short stories. Armanious seeks to encourage Christians to draw closer to the Lord through daily prayer and in-depth Bible study.


For more inspirational content, please visit our Lost Pen Blog page. To download Lost Pen Magazine, visit our Magazine Issues page.

The Lost Pen Magazine is Available Now

The day has finally arrived! The Lost Pen Magazine, the result of a dream to feature Christian creatives that started around Christmastime 2018, is seeing the light of day.

This has been a collaborative effort: I had the help of Jenise Cook as contributor and associate editor, Amy Hands, my sister and experienced magazine designer, and my husband, Sam, a gifted and super patient graphic designer, on my unofficial production team. But I’m also extremely grateful to the artists, writers, and poets who trusted me with their content–content which is simply outstanding and wonderfully God-centred. 

I hope you enjoy the magazine. You can view it below in the Issuu viewer (click on the arrow to begin) or visit our landing page for access the PDF version. Please share it with your friends and family, churches, and unbelieving friends who might find the comfort and support in the contents. Also, let us know what you think. Feedback is a blessing and also helps us know how to improve on the upcoming issues.

 

Visit the Lost Pen Magazine Page for submission and other information.

Blessings and grace to you all this Monday morning.

–Delia

 

Interview with Author and Coach Joké Solanke

Once again, we are blessed to welcome a dynamo of a Christian woman—I grew tired reading about everything she has done! Whether you’re looking for inspiration, motivation, or just to be encouraged by discovering how a sister in Christ is serving her Lord with passion, please take a few minutes to meet Joké Solanke.

Hello Joké. Can you begin by telling us a little about yourself?

My name is Ibijoke, but people call me Joke (Joo-kay). I am a Nigerian by birth, an American by naturalization, a Jew by covenant. I am an adventurous person with a belief that there is an answer to every question, solution to every problem, and hope for all situations. I am a mentor and coach, and I love pioneering new initiatives. In the workplace, I have been in management for about a decade and have also served in different leadership positions at local churches both in the United States and Nigeria.

What is your educational and spiritual background?

My educational background includes: two bachelor’s degrees (Mathematics and Nursing), a master’s degree in Nursing and a couple of certificate programs in Leadership. I am also a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with practice privileges in the State of Georgia. I have been in some sort of Spiritual leadership since my teenage years, having served as a zonal pastor during my undergraduate years at Ogun State University in Nigeria and then as a member of the Redeemed Christian Fellowship Executive in the capacity of the treasurer. My first experience of salvation happened in 1988 during my high school years through my Chemistry teacherMrs. Orowale. She took an interest in me and invited me to a Sunday evening Bible study group at her residence, and that was the beginning of my spiritual journey. My faith is anchored on the finished work of Christ on Calvary. I believe in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and his second coming. I believe in the supernatural, and I have experienced the supernatural.

How did you get into ministry? How do you share your mission or vision?

I see ministry as an opportunity to serve your gifts or talents. Based on my perspective, I have been in ministry since my teenage years. My philosophy about ministry means that you do not have to be officially ordained before you can serve. You only need to discover your giftings and be willing to share with others. Specifically, I have been opportune to serve my gifts on the platform of teaching, administration, and intercession as a teenager. In the course of my journey, I was ordained as a Pastor and have served as a co-pastor for 15 years, led youth groups, women’s group, couple’s forums, Christian education, Intercessory groups and have always volunteered in any area of ministry with needs on a temporary basis. Although I don’t see myself as a choir or kid’s minister, I have served in those capacities to help lead and grow the departments until the church was able to get on board people with a specific calling in those areas. Recently, I founded Blossom Life Outreach with the purpose of helping people find the meaning in every challenging life situation and circumstance. In 2014, we launched out as Thy Kingdom Come (TKC) Outreach with a focus on women. Our experiences led us to the discovery of a universal need to help others navigate the maze of life, irrespective of age, gender, race, religious affiliations, or any other differentiating human-constructed standards.

 

F1718E4C-BA4B-45AE-AE7C-31CE8F99CBDE

 

What genre do you write and why are you drawn to it? 

Writing was a discovery I made in an attempt to solve a work-related problem. I needed an authentic answer to the question of how to effectively manage the performance of other people despite all the numerous imperfections. I was struggling with building the type of team I envisioned. I did not see a prototype of the team I wanted around any of my mentors, so I decided to conduct research on the leadership style of Jesus. My findings were more than the issue of team building. I ended up with a 12-chapter book that has an answer to various leadership issues like vision, succession planning, mentoring, conflict management, information management, networking and much more. My writings are purpose driving, with a focus on either solving a problem or providing insights into life issues. My second book titled The Problem of Identity was written to help people struggling with identity see how they arrived at their current situation and the way out of identity crisis. My third book, which is scheduled to come out, was written at a time I was going through life changes that I did not anticipate. I used nature to provide the reassurance that no life situation is permanent. I also emphasized the consequences of indifference, if we are not intentional or prepared, we can become a victim of life’s seasonal changes and circumstances.

Do you think God has a purpose for your work, and if so, what?

I know that God has a purpose for my work, and as I said earlier, my purpose is to help people find meaning in life no matter how hopeless things may appear. We have recorded testimonials from people we have been able to impact, and this is a motivation to continue the assignment.

 

AC6F5861-3FAB-4627-AC1B-71266B264B28

 

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned about yourself and/or your ministry since you decided to walk this path?

One of the lessons I have learned about myself is my uniqueness. I have discovered that God called me to carry out a specific assignment, and he has deposited within me all the necessary resources needed for me to get it done. I have discovered that I do not have any limitations besides the one in my mind based on my belief systems. This has really helped me to know how to remove some of the things that appear as limiting to my progress—to change any behavior, I have to change my belief system, and I have been able to accomplish this by looking at things from the perspectives of the Word of God. Another lesson I have learned is that I cannot do life alone. My gift is not meant for me, it is for other people, and I also need other people to serve their gifts for my survival. The survival of a mango tree hinges upon things in its environment, if the environment is right, the mango tree will be able to produce and serve its fruit. The same way, I am very particular about the environment I position myself because I can either be enriched or impoverished through my interactions with the environment, especially other humans.

Who/what are your biggest influences?

My biggest influence is Jesus Christ, and sincerely, my relationship with Him has helped me find meaning in my life even when things seem to be upside down. I have multiplied numbers of people who have been great influences in my life. One thing about everybody’s influence is the fact that they are transient in nature based on situations and needs. However, there are some that stand out over time, such as the late Dr. Myles Munroe; Pastor Obed; some biblical characters: Joseph, Esther, Deborah, Mary, Elizabeth, Abigail, Paul, Daniel, Jeremiah, Solomon, Job, Elijah, Elisha, The five daughters of Zelophehad; my kids; some of my siblings; my work team; and generally people I lead or I’m responsible for, to mention a few.

What are your goals when you write an article or book? How do you hope your readers will respond?

My goals when I write are to see people glean wisdom from my writings that can change their perspectives and help them implement necessary changes that can improve their lives.

Do you have another job or do you write full-time? Other hobbies or interests?

Writing is a passion that I developed along the line, and I’m still cultivating the art of writing. For the past decade, I have overseen two outpatient dialysis centers as the facility administrator for a Fortune 500 company. More recently, I became a board-certified family nurse practitioner. I am actively involved in coaching, mentoring, team building, professional development, and offering guidance to staff in those clinics. In the past, I have worked as a high school mathematics teacher and a bedside nurse in acute and chronic settings.

Some of my hobbies include hiking, which I do at least two to three times a week, sightseeing, listening to music, writing quotes, coaching, and reading. I also love to travel.

What do you find is the most difficult aspect of your ministry and how do you cope with it?

The most difficult aspect for me is keeping up with time. I believe there is a timing for everything, and opportunities can be missed if things are not done at the appropriate time. Learning to prioritize what is most important and making sure I don’t compromise the needful is a task especially when everything seems important.

Do you attend a church? Can you tell us about it?

I am a member of West Cobb Church in Powder Springs Georgia under the pastoral leadership of Pastor Stan and Terrisa Coleman. WCC is a family-friendly church with something for everyone. I love everything about this Church, and the most impressive for me is the ministry focus on the Youth and Children. There is a very intentional and dedicated effort in grooming the next generation for Christ. This is lacking in most Churches I have interacted with over the years. The community focus is also commendable. WCC has adopted neighboring schools and routinely sponsors and support some of the school events. I currently serve as a bible study group leader and at the Welcome Center to greet new members.

 

CA8D4B2B-A7B3-4CF5-8BBA-F94808172BE9

 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers or those wanting to develop a ministry?

My advice to aspiring writers or those wanting to develop a ministry is to first of all resolve the problem of identity and be on a quest to discover purpose. It is very important to address these core issues because there is a tendency to be confused when you step out before a clear understanding of who you are, what you can do, and the why behind what you are doing. A clear vision will save you from confusion; it will keep you grounded during opposition and trials and also help you keep your focus on your goal. Another important thing to consider when launching out is the fact that there will never be the right time for anything you want to do—you will have to make the time right.

Can you tell us about your future goals?

I am working on releasing my third book, Understanding the Seasons of Life, by spring 2019. I have four other books that I am currently working on: Depression, Purpose, Leadership, and Marriage. I will be hosting Blossom Life Conference 2019 in Atlanta from September 20 to 21 and continue the weekly life group with young adults age 18 and above.

How can our readers contact you?

Website: 

Email: blossomlifeoutreach@gmail.com

Phone: (404) 618.6300

Follow us

Facebook:  @blossomlifeoutreach

Instagram: _blossomlife

Twitter: _blossomlife

 

I hope you enjoyed meeting Joké as much as I did. Please leave her a message below or visit her directly on one of her social media/contact platforms. 

Blessings!

— Delia

Book Review: Seasons in the Garden

Through books, writers can share wisdom and their life experiences with others. Judging from the following comments, Seasons in the Garden, by Sandra Fischer, is one of those books that does this successfully and in a manner that readers appreciate. 

 

About the Author:

Book photo promo2

Sandra Fischer taught high school English and owned a Christian bookstore in Indiana before she retired and moved to the Carolinas. Her stories and articles are gleaned from her life experiences growing up in Indiana. Her book, Seasons in the Garden, is inspired by living fifteen years in South Carolina.   

 

 

What people are saying: 

 

book cover

“This is a beautifully written book by a talented writer. How she used the seasons of the year connected to gardens is so inspiring. I read it through once and now I’m reading it each morning for inspiration. It is amazing how it connects with life with different journeys I travel. I love it so much I am giving it to friends for birthdays and Christmas…truly a treasure to share.” –Charlene Kinelski

“What a beautiful book. Every page is filled with inspiration. It allows you to look at everyday life from a new perspective. A great gift for friends and family.” – Susan Blackburn

“A beautiful book you will thoroughly enjoy even if you are not a gardener! Sandi has a wonderful way of inspiring her readers……get one for a friend!” – Jean Jones

“This book, filled with scripture and quotes from literature, would make a fine gift to a friend or to oneself! Noting that our lives parallel the seasons of the earth, the author writes about the splendor and riches to be found in nature and in our lives, if we only look for them. Original photographs and artwork beautifully illustrate the text.” – Gwen Myers

 

To learn more about Sandra Fischer and her writing visit:

Amazon Author Page 

Faithwriters

Blog 

 

Thanks for reading! Please visit Sandra on her social media and leave her an encouraging message. Or leave a message here! Let’s encourage one another with simple acts of support and kindness.

Blessings!

–Delia

3 Questions on Motivation That Can Move Your Story Forward

A few weeks ago, I met a Christian Creative friend at a local coffee shop. As we settled into the conversation and polished off our Tim Horton’s coffees, she said the words that inspired this post: “I’ve gone back to a story I’ve been writing for years, but I’m stuck! I don’t know what to do.”

I like to coach writers whenever I can, so I was immediately interested in learning more about her problem. Usually, the solution is hidden in the information they share about why they’re stuck or how they got stuck. So, I listened a while and then asked: “What’s your story’s main conflict?”

When she couldn’t give a clear answer, I knew we’d found the answer to her problem. Of course, there are many reasons writers get stuck. But, for her, struggling to define the story’s conflict and, consequently, its impact on her character was a big issue. Because I was able to help her, I decided to write this post to help others facing a problem.

To do that, we’ll focus on one aspect of story-writing: conflict. More specifically, we’ll look at using your main character’s motivation to generate the conflict that will take your story to the next level. An in-depth discussion on motivation is beyond the scope of this post, but here are 3 questions that could help you figure out the right recipe for your project.  

sign

Is your Main Character’s motivation clear?

Essentially, motivation is what drives us from one state or circumstance to another. It can be an inner motivation (ex. A woman choosing to remain in a bad relationship for fear of being alone) or an external motivation (ex. An agoraphobic scientist chooses to leave his lab after discovering he’s the only one who can stop a pandemic).

Without motivation, our lives would be dull and very little would be accomplished; we would never change. The same goes for our characters. Without a force pushing them to or away from something, there isn’t much for them to do. Also, without conflict, a writer doesn’t have much of a story to tell—at least, not a very interesting one.

Think about your main character. You might have decided their gender, what they wear, their character traits and quirks, where they work, and where they live. All essential elements in character design. But what influences their choices? Specifically:

What does he want to stop (or have happen) at all costs?

For what or whom would he die to protect?

What is his deepest fear? Regret? Joy?

Once a writer figures out the answers to those kinds of questions, and by including them in the plot, he can develop a much more dynamic, engaging story.  

conflict-405744_960_720

Is your MC’s motivation threatened by the story’s crisis?

Every story needs at least one major crisis that creates stress or a turning point for its characters. Without it a story risks being boring, giving your audience few reasons to continue reading.

If you’re stuck in your creative process, or have a boring main character and don’t know how to activate him, why not attack his motivation? Doing that puts him on a collision course with the very thing he fears most. This causes tension and raises the stakes.

Now, you have a story!

Remember Frodo? In The Lord of the Rings, he was tasked to carry the One Ring to Mount Doom where it could be destroyed. He was chosen because he was meek and, therefore, more immune to its corrupting power than the others in his group. But, over time, even he fell prey to the ring—to near disastrous results. Every time he showed signs of weakness, we wondered, “Is he going to fall, too? And what happens if he does?!” That kind of hook will drive your readers to keep turning pages.

Does your MC resolve their main conflict?

When designing your crisis, keep in mind that your MC will need a proper resolution to the conflict he’ll struggle with over the course of the book. This usually means that the MC solves the problem. For example, he stopped the mega-virus from destroying the world, or kept the Holy Grail out of the wrong hands. If the MC doesn’t solve the problem, then perhaps he learns an important lesson that makes the whole experience worthwhile. For example, though he isn’t ready to do it yet, he learns that it is possible to forgive the parent who abused him in his youth. The resolution doesn’t have to result in a happy ending, as long as it satisfies the nature of the MC’s conflict.

The point is, when you get to the end of your story, your reader is going to want closure. They have spent days or weeks reading about the MC and worrying over how they would overcome their trials and tribulations. To some readers, favorite characters are like friends! Writing a fitting resolution allows your reader to end the story on a positive, satisfying note. Help them savor the reading experience. So, spend time figuring this one out. You and your readers won’t regret it.  

reso

Conflict is a book’s ‘spice of life’, and our characters’ motivations are the strings writers pull to generate it. When used well, the combination can inspire creativity, while elevating a mediocre story into a great one.

How about you? What story-writing tools do you use to get ‘unstuck’? Please share your experiences.

–Delia T

%d bloggers like this: