Month: September 2022

174 – 3 Pieces of Advice That Will Never Lead Writers Wrong

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3 Pieces of Advice That Will Never Lead Writers Wrong Write from the Deep Podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungEver wished someone could give you guaranteed advice for your writing journey? Well, someone has. The Apostle Paul shared these gems of wisdom that are as effective now as when God inspired him to write them.

But first, thank you to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

The writing life can be hard. We have to be vulnerable on the page and then take critique like it doesn’t hurt. We have to learn the rules of the publishing industry, yet watch people break rules and succeed. We invest time, sweat, and dollars into honing our craft without ever knowing for sure if anyone will care enough to read the finished product. Let alone if it will affect anyone.

This is a setup for angst. More so because it’s not all a one-time deal. We have to keep learning our craft. keep paying attention and adapting to the turbulent publishing industry. And even if someone did read our last book, we have to keep putting words out there without knowing who will read the next book. There are no guarantees.

You guys know, if you listen to the podcast, that we preach obedience to God as the measure of success. If he’s asking us to put words out there, it doesn’t matter if people don’t read it. But we know that still doesn’t make it easy to keep going forward.

Advice for writers

Today we want to share 3 pieces of wisdom with you. Wisdom that will help you through these challenges. Wisdom that has stood the test of time. It comes from the Apostle Paul, and it’s in his first letter to the Thessalonians in chapter 5, verses 16-18.

You might be wondering what ancient Thessolanica has to do with the publishing industry. Well, here’s some background, and you can read more here if you’re interested. 

One of the reasons Paul wrote to the Thessalonians was to restore their hope, because they experienced several unexpected deaths. 

Writers experience unexpected deaths as well, only more often it’s a beloved character that your editor says must be written out. Or it’s the death of a promising publishing contract. Or the death of a book idea that you really loved but God is leading you to set it aside. 

Or maybe it’s a manuscript that has too many fatal flaws and you just need to let it die and start from scratch. Or the death of your dream for an award or a bestsellers list or to quit your day job. Or even just to make money with your writing! Death happens. And it happened in Thessalonica too.

Another reason Paul wrote this letter was to help people understand that persecution is normal for Christians. People don’t always like you. When you write truth, there will be people who hate you. Suffering is a normal part of the Christian life.

Things go wrong. Bad things happen. Publishing is not fair. Life is not fair. This is the way of things.

You have to get the backdrop of Paul’s letter to Thessolanica clear in your minds because it makes his wisdom all the more astounding and counterintuitive. 

Are you ready? In the midst of death, suffering, persecution, and things going horribly wrong…

Rejoice Always

The first piece of advice or wisdom is: rejoice always. That’s right. In the midst of stuff dying all around us, rejoice. In the midst of persecution, rejoice. In the midst of hardship, rejoice.

Bear in mind that while we’re labeling this as advice, it is really a command. Paul’s inspired writing is the authoritative word of God. Paul says not just here, but also elsewhere (Philippians 4:4 for example) that God’s children are to rejoice. We might be writers, but first we’re God’s children. We need to follow what God commands his children to do.

What does it look like to “rejoice always”? Are we supposed to laugh when we learn of tragedy? Never be sad or depressed?

No. We’re allowed those emotions. We’re allowed to grieve and feel sad at times. Remember that Jesus himself wept when he stood at Lazarus’s tomb. We don’t ignore our pain, but in the midst of that pain, we can allow a deeper joy to still exist. Here are some ways we can do that:

1) Recognize and affirm that God is in control, that he is good, and that he’s going to work all things for his good purpose.

That does not mean we slap on a happy face. It means we hold on to truth in obedience. When bad things happen in our writing lives (and they will!), we have to hold on to God’s truth and trust him.

2) Continually invite and embrace the Holy Spirit’s work in us to give us the fruit of joy.

The gifts of the Spirit come from God. We don’t manufacture them. But we can make the choice to keep embracing, keep inviting, keep trusting that fruit of joy to grow.

3) Spend time in worship. 

Remember what Job did when he learned that all his children died and all his wealth was carried off by raiders? Here’s what Job 1:20-21 says: “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’”

He tore his robe, he shaved his head. Those are signs of his grief and distress. But in the midst, he still worships God.

When Paul and Silas were in prison, what did they do? They sang hymns. Paul knows what he’s talking about when he commands us to rejoice always. He’s lived through the challenges of doing it.

4) Don’t focus on negativity, on pessimism, because your thoughts affect your emotions.

It’s hard to rejoice when you continually think of your wounds, trials, aggravations, and so forth. Paul instructs the Philippians in his letter to them, which is full of the command to rejoice, to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. If you’re doing that, you can’t be focused on negativity.

Pray without ceasing

The second piece of advice—command, actually—is to pray without ceasing, but what does that mean?

Praying without ceasing is about our attitude. It’s about our normal posture of life being that of humble reliance on God. An article on the Gospel Coalition Website puts it this way: “[praying without ceasing] means that there is a spirit of dependence that should permeate all we do.” 

As we’re writing, we write in dependence on God. As we encounter the death of our manuscript, or character, or goal, or whatever, we walk through it in a state of humble reliance. As we suffer, we walk in a spirit of acknowledgement that God is our strength through it. He’s our justifier, our defender, and our helper. 

Praying without ceasing means being ever mindful of our need and God’s constant supply. But it does not mean that we repeat the same prayer every second of our lives. But it does mean that we pray “repeatedly and often” as the article puts it. It goes on to say that our “default mental state should be: ‘O God, help.’”

Another thing “praying without ceasing” means is that we keep praying no matter what, and we don’t ever give up on prayer. As Christians and writers, giving up on prayer can be a temptation we don’t even know we’re facing. We simply get discouraged, tired, or burned out. We feel battered by the publishing machine, and we feel like God isn’t answering our prayers. And we just kind of…stop praying. Or we get angry and deliberately stop talking to God. 

When we stop praying, that disrupts our connection to God. We’re isolated and a prime target for not just lies we tell ourselves, but the destructive things our enemy will tell us.

In everything give thanks

Paul’s third command is to give thanks in everything. Not just the good things. Not just the easy things. Not just the fun things. Everything. This means we have to give thanks for the hard things, too. 

We all know the writing life is filled with setbacks, disappointments, and painful lessons. And certainly with unexpected detours. So sure, take a moment to collect your thoughts. To grieve. To lament. But underneath that, we still want to have a thankful heart. As an act of obedience we still need to walk in gratitude because God is sovereign and works everything for our good and his glory. We come back to that over and over because it’s the truth he’s given us. It’s the hope.

Also, let’s not neglect to give thanks for good things. Yes, it’s easier to give thanks for good things, but do we remember to actually do that? How often do we wake up in the morning and thank God that he’s putting breath our my mouths? That our hearts are beating? That he made the sun rise? That he’s holding the entire universe together even right this second.

We could spend every second of our lives thanking God for all the good things he does because there are so many! And again, if we’re focused on thanking God, it’s so much easier to rejoice, right?

So, Paul tells us to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in everything. But look at the rest of the verse:

For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus

This is bonus wisdom, or maybe clarification. How many people struggle to know what God’s will is? Here it is: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks. This is what he wants us to do. When we’re faithful in these things, we ARE in God’s will. 

Yes, sometimes we feel like we need answers to questions we have. Should I submit to this agent or that one? Should I go to this conference or that one, or any at all this year? Should I keep writing in this genre or switch to that one?

But too often we overemphasize our need to get answers and underemphasize time spent rejoicing in God’s presence, or thanking him, or resting in his presence, or letting him lead the conversation, or quietly adoring, or listening. All these actions are part of rejoicing always, praying without ceasing, and giving thanks in everything. Doing that will help us find our way, because we’ll trust that God is in fact leading us in his way and his time and for his purposes. He has purposed our steps. God’s got this. Always!

Ever wished someone could give you guaranteed advice for your writing journey? Well, someone has! #amwriting #ChristianWriter Share on X
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

In what ways do you find Paul’s commands challenging?

THANK YOU!

Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

We have openings in our Patreon Sponsor of the Month tier. You’ll get your name mentioned on the podcast with a link to your website and your latest book. You’ll also have a link right here in the show notes, as well as a banner on our regular podcast page. Check it out here! We appreciate your consideration!

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast P.S. for their fabulous sound editing!

STAY CONNECTED

Want the latest news from Karen and Erin? Click here to join our newsletter and get an exclusive audio download.

173 – Daily Peace in an Anxious World

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Daily Peace in an Anxious World Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungWith all the chaos happening around us, we need peace more than ever. And yet it can seem elusive and transient. Come listen in as we share guaranteed steps to help you get (and keep!) true daily peace—no matter what’s happening in the world…or your life.

But first, thank you to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

I don’t think anyone would argue with the fact that we live in a fallen world filled with chaos, anxiety, stress, uncertainty, busyness, and way too much rushing around. It can keep us up nights, give us ulcers, or just plain suck the joy out of life. What we could all use is a big hearty dose of peace.

What is peace?

Merriam Webster says peace is:

  • “a state of tranquility or quiet”
  • “freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions”
  • “harmony in personal relations”

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for the idea of peace is shalom. What did they mean by that? Here’s a quote from an article answering that very question:

“What is shalom? The ancient Hebrew concept of peace, rooted in the word ‘shalom,’ meant wholeness, completeness, soundness, health, safety and prosperity, carrying with it the implication of permanence.”

Another article on Christianity.com adds:

It is completeness, soundness, wellbeing, complete reconciliation. One of the names of God is Yahweh-Shalom, or The Lord Our Peace (Judges 6:24), and Jesus is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).” 

Who originated peace?

That quote and these verses tell us something important. They tell us who originated peace. It’s God, Yahweh-Shalom. It’s Jesus, the Prince of Peace. This makes sense because God is the creator of all things.

Why do we need peace?

First and foremost, because our relationship with God has been broken by sin, we need peace with God—reconciliation, harmony in that relationship. God provided this peace in Jesus, through his sacrifice on the cross.

Colossians 1:19-20 tells us: For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” 

Why else do we need peace? Let’s go back to another of Webster’s definitions: Peace is a state of calm, of feeling good. Who doesn’t want to feel good? Psalm 37:11 says, “But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.”

Peace is delightful!

Another reason we need peace is that it glorifies God when we exhibit it. Peace is listed in Galatians 5:22-23 as one of the fruits of the spirit. These fruits are great for us, they benefit us, but they also show that we belong to God because ultimately these gifts come from him.

How can we get peace?

1. Getting peace starts by knowing where—or who—peace comes from: Jesus.

Consider John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

And, going back to the article on Christianity.com, it says, “True shalom is only reached through God.”

We need to know where and who peace comes from in order to get it.

2. Another way we get peace is by seeking and pursuing it.

Psalm 34:14 tells us, “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

2 Timothy 2:22 says, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

We need to think about ways we can be more proactive in seeking peace. What does pursuing peace look like in our lives?

3. We should also be praying for peace, because again, God gives it to us.

Here’s a familiar prayer from Numbers 6:25-26: “The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

Psalm 29:11 says, “May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!”

We need to pray for peace.

4. We also need to avoid wickedness in order to have peace. 

Isaiah 48:22 says, “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.”

Zechariah 8:16-17 tells us, “‘These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace; do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate,’ declares the Lord.”

How can we nurture peace? 

So we know where peace comes from and how to get it. But just because we gain a little peace, doesn’t mean we don’t have to do anything else. We need to nurture the gift of peace that God gives us. We don’t want to let it whither and die.

1. The first way to nurture peace is to know God better and better.

2 Peter 1:2 says, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

2. We can also nurture peace by loving God’s law.

Psalm 119:165 says, “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.”

3. We should love peace, too.

Here’s Zechariah 8:19b “…Therefore love truth and peace.”

4. Walking in wisdom also helps us nurture peace in our lives.

Proverbs 3:17, speaking about wisdom, tells us, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”

5. We can also nurture peace by planning to live, to the best of our ability, at peace with people.

Especially these days when so many things in our society spark anger and dissension, we need to think ahead about how we can approach life peacefully. Proverbs 12:20 says, “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.”

In Romans 12:18 the apostle Paul urges, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

6. One of the biggest ways to nurture peace in our lives is to keep our focus on God in trust.

We said earlier that we can nurture peace by knowing God better and better, and the benefit of knowing him is that we learn he’s trustworthy. When we focus on trusting God rather than on our worries or problems, peace is the result. 

Isaiah 26:3 tells us, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

God is in control. We can trust that and we can trust him.

Mark 4:39 says, “And [Jesus] awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

Jesus is in control of not just the weather, but all the stormy circumstances in our lives. 

7. Finally, we can’t nurture peace, or truly even have God’s peace, if we turn away from him.

Psalm 85:8 says, “Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.”

Even scarier as a warning is what it says in Jeremiah 16, verses 5 and 9. Israel rejected God and he took away their peace. Here’s what it says: “For thus says the Lord: ‘Do not enter the house of mourning, or go to lament or grieve for them, for I have taken away my peace from this people, my steadfast love and mercy,’ declares the Lord.”

Peace Stealers

We’ve talked about what peace is, how we get it, and how we can nurture it. But even with all that, we know daily peace can still be a battle because there are plenty of peace stealers out there in our daily lives. Peace stealers can be things like: being overbooked, regretting the past, worrying about the future, lack of gratitude, and on and on the list goes.

We encourage you to think about what your personal peace stealers are. We all have them, but we can fight them. We can combat them with God’s Word, God’s promises.

We’ve already read a lot of Scripture about peace, but guess what? There’s more! Take some time now and just absorb God’s Word. Let it wash over you.

Just as a reminder, not only do we have the Scripture list here, but it’s also always in our newsletter. We want you to be able to go back to these verses again and again. (If you signed up for our newsletter and you’re not getting it, check your spam folder. Or sign up again because there may have been a technical glitch.)

Scriptures to soak in

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” 1 Corinthians 14:13

“My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” Isaiah 32:18

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Romans 16:20

“Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” 2 Peter 3:14

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

“Finally, [brothers and sisters], rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16

With all the chaos happening around us, we need peace more than ever. Listen in as we share steps to help you get (and keep!) true daily peace—no matter what’s happening in the world…or your life. #ChristianWriter #amwriting Share on X
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

What are your “peace stealers” and what helps you fight against them?

THANK YOU!

Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

We have openings in our Patreon Sponsor of the Month tier. You’ll get your name mentioned on the podcast with a link to your website and your latest book. You’ll also have a link right here in the show notes, as well as a banner on our regular podcast page. Check it out here! We appreciate your consideration!

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast P.S. for their fabulous sound editing!

STAY CONNECTED

Want the latest news from Karen and Erin? Click here to join our newsletter and get an exclusive audio download.