Repost: NKJV Study Bible Review

If you’re looking for a new Bible, Lois Rodriguez’s review of the new NKJV Study Bible is probably what you are looking for. Click here to read it.  

Lois Rodriguez is a blogger and reviewer at blessedmamabear.com where you’ll find her sharing thoughts on intentional and practical parenting from the perspective of a foster and adoptive mom.

Video Testimony: The Bakery Jesus Built

I love this short video about one woman’s complete trust in her Lord to bring to life the dream He put in her heart. 

The key to success, I think, is realizing that the Holy Spirit will bring our Father’s plans to fruition, not necessarily our own. The trick is to: 

Colossians 3:2 (NIV)

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

 

Tough to do, yes, but that’s what the Bible teaches.

To illustrate, I am posting this following video, The Bakery Jesus Built, produced by Kingdom Driven Entrepreneur, for those who are struggling with fear, doubt, or uncertainty about the call on their lives, and to those are creating, building, or planting but are struggling keep moving forward.  

“Can I really do it?” you ask.

Yes. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. (Philippians 4:13)

Enjoy this 10 minute video. Ask the Lord to speak to you about the blocks preventing you from walking in your calling with confidence. Then ask Him to remove every single one of them. 

 

Blessings!

–Delia

Mini-Devotional on God’s Sovereignty

For those of you who don’t know, I often share my thoughts on the Bible or life experiences on Instagram by means of posting mini-devotionals. To see them, look me up at: Christian.Creative.Nexus.

Tonight, I read a great devotional by Francis Chan called Letters to the Church. Click here to read my comments and reflections on it. Bonus: it’s a short read!

Not Living Up to the World’s Standards

Not Living Up to the World’s Standards

by Lela Markham

 

What makes a Christian creative a Christian?

I had to ask myself that question recently when someone with an axe to grind posted a review of one of my books that said, in essence, that I wasn’t a Christian because I don’t think the Army would walk on water and hand out flowers during the Apocalypse.

Sigh.

I grew up and now live in a very military town. About one-quarter of my friends and family are either in the military or were once in the military. I know some lovely military people. I also have had plenty of experience with jerks who were jacked up on the power of being in the military. There’s that dichotomy in human nature that doesn’t go away if you ignore it. The Transformation Project series focuses on how ordinary people, including military and civilian authorities, react in an apocalyptic situation where their command structure has been fractured. I don’t show all individuals with military authority acting in a heroic manner because I personally know people who wouldn’t act honorably in a situation where they’re given that kind of power and no oversight.  The news has covered some of these people. I believe there would be more of them if the command structure that is in place no longer existed. I have other military characters who do act honorably … and some of them die for that stand. That’s the only defense I’m going to offer.

Circling back to my original theme of “in the world, but not of it” … must Christian creatives stand for certain secular societal norms or be deemed “not Christian”?

Being a Christian is defined by one thing. You can discover it in Romans 10:9-10.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Do you believe that Jesus Christ is God, Savior of mankind and your soul and do you confess that publicly? Your lifestyle should adhere to that and your politics are part of your lifestyle. Whether you support the military, love policemen, eat apple pie, or spend Mother’s Day with your mom isn’t really addressed in the Bible, therefore, they are personal decisions that each of us make individually.

“Art, though, is never the voice of a country; it is an even more precious thing, the voice of the individual, doing its best to speak, not comfort of any sort, but truth. And the art that speaks it most unmistakably, most directly, most variously, most fully, is fiction; in particular, the novel.” ~ Eudora Welty in On Writing.

Writing a novel is about addressing truth as the author sees it. A lot of Christians are very supportive of conservative political causes that I can’t find anywhere in the Bible. There’s nothing wrong with that – most of the time. We live in this world and the politics of the secular world affects us. When my taxes go up, I have less money to give to the church, which I feel spends social welfare funds much more wisely than the government does. I vote accordingly. We should all care if a politician believes it is okay to kill babies in the womb. We should pray for people caught up in the cycle of drug addiction or alcoholism, pornography or polyamory. The Bible is clear on many issues that Christians ought to have an opinion on and the Bible tells us what that opinion should be.

The Bible is less clear on our involvement in those secular programs designed to address some of the world’s evils. I harbor doubts about how Jesus would feel about some secular programs American Christians are expected to support simply because we’re expected to support them. As a Christian creative who wants to reach a larger audience than just Christians who read religiously-oriented literature, I have given serious thought to which subjects for which I’m willing to fall on my authorial sword. I made a commitment to show Christian characters as human … with flaws, while showing their beliefs respectfully. I have every admiration for our Savior, not always the same feeling toward His followers. I try to show the world as I see it and not as I would like it to be, recognizing that it is fallen and so are the people in it. And, yet, I struggle with where the lines are because it’s not so simple as the Christian publishers make it seem. Because I’ve rejected those made-up constraints, I have to set new ones of my own – ones that I hope are Biblically-based, but not ignoring this world as it really is.

What about you? If you’re a Christian creative trying to reach a secular audience, do you find it difficult to push the “Christian” boundaries in a Christ-centric way without upsetting the “standards” people have applied to Christian creatives?

 

28721822_1972311923031983_1933873618_nLela Markham is the pen name of an Alaskan novelist who was raised in a home built of books. Alaska is a grand adventure like none other with a culture that embraces summer adventure and winter artistic pursuits.

 

Part 2: What’s God Got to Do With It? Motivation Matters

In the first part of this series, we talked about our identity in Christ and how that relates to our gifts. When Jesus died on the cross, it was to buy us back from the curse of sin. When we chose to follow Him, we became God’s children and committed our lives to His service. The Holy Spirit enables us to walk with God and empowers us to fulfill our life’s mission until the day we pass on. That’s the general purpose for our earthly existence. How we live that out on a daily basis, including the expression of our creative calling, needs closer inspection.

At the opening of this series I’d asked:  Why do we create? There are a ton of reasons, but it’s likely that when we examine them, our main motivation will have something to do with us.

‘I love to write/sing/dance…’

‘I just can’t help composing/singing/writing…’

‘Art is who I am…’

‘I’d go nuts if I couldn’t express myself…’

Etc.

Notice the ‘I’ in those statements?

 

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Is it wrong to find pleasure in our gifts? I don’t think so. God loves us and He wants us to be happy. But, I think it’s important to note that God is the true source of our peace and joy and that any other source will be incomplete and, ultimately, unsatisfying.

 

Galatians 5:22-23  (NIV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

 

Unconvinced? Well, here are a few questions to consider. What happens when you don’t sell many books? Or the post you spent ages writing for your blog doesn’t get any likes? Or your book proposal is refused, or your song rejected by a producer?

What about the time spent away from your family and the money wasted on products or services that failed to deliver?

What about those feelings of loneliness or confusion when nothing works?

What about when your dream fails?

Do you get angry? Bitter? Are you exhausted? Anxious?

Are you disappointed in God?

 

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In case you’re wondering, I’ve been there. It’s humbling to admit, but it would be wrong of me to pretend otherwise. I’ve seen my dreams melt away, I’ve sacrificed time and money only to see nothing come of it. I’ve cried out to God asking, ‘Why?’, as recently as a few days ago.

And the answer has consistently been: ‘Look up. Deny yourself, and follow Me.’

I thought I was humble. I thought I was submitting myself to His will and doing everything right. It was only when everything ground to a halt and I had nothing going for me that I could see how much of my self-worth was tied to needing to succeed. Once it was just me and God, I could begin to see that I am who I am because of Him. Jesus is my righteousness. If I never write another book or blog post again, if this blog fails or I never score that big book deal, or whatever, He’ll accept me just as I am.

He accepts you just as you are, too.

If you are tired, overworked, frustrated, anxious—ultimately disappointed in God, ask ourself why. Rejection and failure hurt, sure. It sucks to be mentally and emotionally drained from going full-tilt for so long. But, listen. This is the time to throw yourself at the foot of the cross and ask God for help. 

 

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Here are two points to reflect on:

We run into trouble when we think that success is the result of our efforts

We are called to work. We are called to be  good stewards of our gifts. And know that we are accountable to Him for how we use them. (Matthew 25:14-30, parable of the talents)

But, we have to remember that God is in control and, if we let Him, He will see to everything, including the results. The moment we let our identity and sense of well-being depend on the results of our work or efforts, we’re in trouble.

We run into trouble when we don’t fully submit to the Lord

This is an ongoing, daily process. It is also impossible to do on our own. But with God’s help, we can.

James 4:7 (NIV)

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

 

The importance of submitting our motivations to God has become increasingly clear to me. We might want to do good by reaching tons of people for His kingdom, create programs, build incredible ministries, but if there is any self-indulging or self-pleasing motivations involved, our plans are in danger because it opens the door for pride.

Psalm 147:6 (NKJV)

The Lord lifts up the humble;
He casts the wicked down to the ground.

 

So, how does that affect us?

If you are stuggling to hear from God, find that your ministry has stalled, feel stuck, lost or confused, then maybe this is His way of getting your attention. I know this has been true for me. The more I submit to His correction and discipline, the more I discover His grace, wisdom, and kindness. God sees everything, including the incoming roadblocks and the weaknesses in our character, and He deals with us in accordance to His love and wisdom.

God is concerned about our success but even more so about our well-being and our relationship with Him. When we walk with Him, our lives will become the greatest testimonies of His greatness, and the works our our hands the physical manifestation of that truth.

Here are a few verses that have helped me :

James 4:3 (NIV)

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

 Mark 14:38

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 Isaiah 55:11 (NIV)

 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

I’d like to know what you think. Can you relate? How have you coped with disappointment, overwork, stress, etc? What verses encourage you? What lessons have you learned through your creative challenges? Let me know by leaving a message below!

Blessings!

–Delia

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