Month: April 2016

How to be Offensive

Karen Ball & Erin Taylor Young

19 – How to be Offensive

In a world seemingly without absolutes, Christians are being put on the spot more and more when they stand for God’s truth. How do we balance God’s command to love one another with the world’s accusation that we’re being hateful or intolerant? There’s only one way, and that’s to hold fast, in our lives and our writing, to the example Christ gave us of using His word to pierce the world’s lies.

SHOW NOTES

In a world that values being politically correct, that is tolerant only of those who agree with its ideas, that counts not offending anyone as a badge of honor, Christians must walk a rocky path. Speaking the truth is labeled being “narrow-minded,” and, the worse sin possible: intolerant. But is that the way Jesus operated? The way the prophets operated?

Not by a long shot.

“We are not in a power struggle but in a truth struggle.” Marty Brown

The struggle for truth has been around since Adam and Eve. Just look at Genesis 3:1-5:

“…Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” 2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” 4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

Jesus faced the same truth struggle:

Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but He sent me. Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:42-44)

If that isn’t offensive, I don’t know what is. Right before this Jesus basically called the crowd of Jews illegitimate children (including Pharisees, etc.)

Then there’s Jesus’ hearing with Pilate:

“…the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is truth?” said Pilate… (John 18:37-38)

Far to many people today respond as Pilate did:
“What is truth?“
“That’s your truth, not mine.”

But Jesus made it clear that there is no “my truth” or “your truth.” There is only Truth—God’s truth as revealed in Scripture. Look at John 17:17 “…Your word is truth.”

Still today, our culture is determined to undermine and redefine truth as relative instead of absolute. It’s nothing new. But our culture has caved on this.

Let’s take a minute to talk about the word of God. Look at Paul’s list of the armor of God in Ephesians 6:14-17: Belt of truth (that’s listed first!), breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, sword of the spirit—which is the Word of God. Truth again. Listed last like a bookend.

Not only are we wearing a belt of truth for defense, if you look, the sword of the spirit is the only offensive weapon.

Roman soldiers used the Gladius Pompeii. It was made for thrusting. A short sword 21-22 inches, that soldiers spent hours sharpening, honing, so they could be extremely precise with it in battle.

Logos is often used for word—it means general statements or messages, and it’s also used in John 1:1. But Logos is not used here. Ephesians 6:17 says Rhema—specific, precise, individual words and particular phrases.

As the Roman soldiers, we are to be specific, precise with our use of the sword of the spirit, with Scriptural truths to counter satanic falsehoods.

Telling the Truth in What we Say and Write

The right way to speak the truth:

  • Speak the truth in love
  • Speak the truth in humility
  • Speak the truth with a desire to heal, not wound; to build up, not tear down.

The right way to write the truth:

  • Tell a great story, don’t preach theme
  • Hold fast to truth and resist the temptation to water it down to make it more “palatable” to our readers
  • Explore all sides of the issue, treating characters with opposing viewpoints with respect
  • Let your characters struggle and wrestle with things that don’t fit their paradigm


So how do we as writers share God’s truth—how do we take a stand for that truth—in our work?

First, know the truth, the Word of God, well. Read, memorize, study, apply it. As you do that, you need to be okay with the process, with searching, with waiting, with seeking the truth before you share it with the world. Know that there are layers in this journey, and keep digging until God shows you His core truth, and your core message.

One effective way to dig deeper is to ask questions, then to spend more time with God and His Word. Seek His answers. And as you do so, get ready, because this process often results in a paradigm shift. Be ready to experience some cognitive dissonance, when things don’t seem to make sense, as you let go of your perspective and gain God’s. Going through that, seeing for yourself that you can do that and come out okay…that’s what people want to know about. That they’re not alone. And they’ll survive.

Then, when you write, keep these things in mind:

  • Don’t dilute the truth. When the ways of the world—the presuppositions, the belief systems, the teachings—seep into the church, into our hearts, and into our writing, then God’s truth is diluted. And we do our readers a serious disservice.
  • Acknowledge that other ideas exist and address/attack the ideas, not the people—it’s the thinking, the idea, that’s wrong.
  • Don’t belittle what seems rational to someone else. Lies are far more often off-kilter than far-fetched. Keep in mind what’s being forgotten, or downplayed, what data is being ignored. Help your readers see and understand the whole truth.
  • Share how the truth affected you. This isn’t about being didactic, not in nonfiction or fiction. It’s about sharing the journey and what God’s truth has done in your life and journey.

In the face of a world so enamored of situational truth, we, as writers devoted to sharing God’s truth, have to know what we believe, why we believe it, and then step up to speak—and write—with boldness. With the sure conviction that when God says something is truth, it is. No matter what the world says about us or Him. Be offensive, as Christ was offensive. Not with the purpose of hurting others, but with the surety that only God’s truth will save people. In the long run, God’s not going to ask us if we were politically correct. If we sold a lot of books. If we wrote great stories. He’s going to ask us one bold, even offensive, question:

“Who do you say that I am?”

And then, “Who did you tell your readers I am?”

Let’s all seek His guidance and truth, that we may answer, whether in the spoken word or the written one, as boldly as Peter: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

We want to hear from you!

Have you faced a truth struggle?
How have you been challenged by the truth struggle?

Tweetable:

Have you lost track of truth?

Please share!
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The Hazards of Obeying God’s Call

Susan May Warren
18 – The Hazards of Obeying God’s Call

Have you ever felt a call from God to step out—really step out—but as soon as you obey, things seem to go wrong? And keep going wrong! What can you do when God’s call takes you not just into the deep, but into a wasteland that you fear will be your undoing? Susan May Warren faced just such a situation—one that put her in emotional and physical danger. Join us as she shares the life-changing truths God taught her in that deep place—truths that will inspire and change you.

Show Notes

Have you ever felt a call from God to step out—really step out—but as soon as you obey, things seem to go wrong? And keep going wrong! What can you do when God’s call takes you not just into the deep, but into a wasteland that you fear will be your undoing? Susan May Warren faced just such a situation—one that put her in emotional and physical danger. Join us as she shares the life-changing truths God taught her in that deep place—truths that will inspire and change you.

Susan May Warren—RITA award-winning novelist of over thirty novels, five-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA finalist, multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and winner of the ACFW Carol Award—has spent plenty of time in the deep, both figuratively, and literally, when God took her and her family to Russia. Siberia, to be exact. She talks frankly about how that’s affected her and her writing.

 

Key Quotes from Susan May Warren

The Deep Dark…

“It was often 40 below where we lived…it took a lot of energy to live in Russia. I thought my husband and I were going to be great missionaries, but what happen was he was a great missionary for the Lord, and I was a stay-at-home mom taking care of three small children. We lived in a high-rise apartment nine stories up. We had no running water during the daytime. We had no phone. We often didn’t have electricity. To go shopping I would have to put my kids literally on my body, a front pack and a backpack, and a sled…I got depressed very quickly. I wasn’t sowing seeds for the Lord, I was washing cloth diapers in the bathtub.”

“It was in that dark place that God started speaking to my heart, saying, ‘Why are you here? Are you here for me? Are you here for your own personal glory?’ I had to get to that place where I was all stripped away. Where I would say okay God, what do you want from me? Is it to stay home and be a great mom? And of course that was part of it. Part of it was supporting my husband. But that was also where God said to me, ‘I would like you to write.’”

 

Where All Great Novels are Written from…

“I soon discovered that all great novels are written from that emotional place inside that you might not have all the answers to, but as you start to write the novel, and as you start to work out those emotions and those truths on the page, the Lord starts to reveal stuff to you. That’s when I really started my journey from the darkness, from the deep, to understanding of what God was doing in my life.”

“If we come to a novel with all the answers, then we limit God’s revelation of truth in our lives as we write the novel.”

“I felt very abandoned, very overwhelmed, very alone. So I went to God and I said, ‘Help me, rescue me fix this’… and God said, ‘I’m going to teach you what a great romance is about.’

“When I write romance, it’s not just about the romance between the two people… it’s also about the romance between God and his people.”

 

The Dangers…

“We had crazy things happened to us in Russia… we were vandalized numerous times with break-ins. My husband’s shoulder was broken because he was mugged. I was held hostage once for about a day. One of my kids had his appendix out in a hospital filled with cats. We had a home invasion in the middle of the day.”

“What happened during the home invasion was that my children were home and my husband was gone. My oldest son thought he was going to fend off one of the attackers, and so he took a knife from the kitchen and held it out. Of course the attacker had a knife too, and thankfully my son was smart enough to go put his knife back… We were pretty sure we were going to get killed that day, and God intervened… I felt as if two hands came over my shoulders and held me, and I had peace that went through my body. My fear was absolutely gone… In that moment I knew God was with us. As I was praying, suddenly the robbers looked up as if they were afraid, and they ran from our apartment as fast as they could… I like to think there were probably angels, mighty angels with swords, that they saw. They were definitely afraid, and they fled. So God literally saved us.”

“I wrote about that home invasion in a book called Tying the Knot…We had come home from Russia, but I was very fearful of things. I would jump when people approached me. I had some injuries, different things like that, and God just met me. I would be writing the book, and I would see the words appear on the screen, and I would know that they were words for me from the Lord. That he was telling me truth and healing me page by page… That was a very powerful book for me. I’ve had people write to me and tell me how powerful it was for their life as well, so clearly God meant it for them too.”

 

Nourishment…

“I’m a firm believer that when we put our dreams in the Lord’s hands…He speaks to us through that medium, through our dreams and our passion, and he draws us to himself if we’re willing to listen to him. And that’s why I love writing. Because I show up and God shows up, and it’s this amazing communion of time together that I think my readers can benefit from, but mostly I just love it because it’s me and the Lord working together.”

“In Psalms it says, ‘Whom have I in heaven but You?’ If I don’t have God, then none of this matters. For me it’s staying in that pocket…The renewing of your mind has to happen every single day…If I’m not surrounding myself with the Lord everyday, then I’m starving and I’m scared and I’m weak and I’m fragile, and the world can easily attack me. But if I’m nourished in that place, then what can man do to me? I have that perfect peace.”

 

What it’s all About…

“When I start a book, I approach the empty page with a small panic attack. Like, who said I could do this? Have they not caught on to me yet? And oh, especially when I’m in the middle, when I’m in the weeds, I’m like, ‘Does this have any spiritual content at all?’ And that’s when I hear God say, ‘Stay with me… walk, the journey with me. Let me work this out scene by scene, sentence by sentence… who am I in your life? Am I the source? Or am I an add-on? If I’m the source then we’re going to do this together.’ I can’t do this alone. And that gives me great courage.”

“If you’re a writer, then you’re on a journey, and the journey is the point. If you haven’t been changed by God through the process, then you’ve missed the point.”

“It’s not about the published books… I’m up to fifty now…It’s about what God has taught me in every single book, and my relationship with him. He’s just using this writing bit to draw you closer to him. It’s not fruitless… If you don’t ever get published, I don’t want to say it doesn’t matter because I know it matters to you, but that’s not the point. The point is for you to engage with your God in a way that speaks to you. In a way that is your love language, and writing is your love language. So pursue that passion and excitement because God has something for you regardless of what the publishing world is doing. Because God always has something for us when we seek him, and when we put our dreams in his hands.”

 

Scripture:

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:25-26

 

Where to find Susan…

Find Susan May Warren at SusanMayWarren.com and MyBookTherapy.

Read about the home invasion in Tying the Knot by Susan May Warren.

tying the knot by Susan May Warren

We’d love to hear from you!
Have you ever faced danger when obeying God’s call?
What did God do?

Tweetable:
What if following God’s call puts you in danger?
What to do when following God’s call lands you in a spiritual and emotional wasteland.

Please share!
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