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Is God Really Good?

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young Write from the Deep Is God really Good

47 – Is God Really Good?

There are lies waiting for us in the deep. Lies that strike deep in our souls, spreading through us and misleading us. And one of the most damaging—and dangerous—lies of all is this: “I’m starting to doubt God’s goodness.” Isn’t that a reasonable reaction? After all, aren’t we just being honest when we say that? On the surface, the answers are yes. But sometimes what’s “reasonable” and “honest”…aren’t. Come explore what we’re really saying when we buy into the lie that maybe God isn’t so good after all.

SHOW NOTES

Maybe you’ve heard this prayer, or maybe you prayed it yourself as a child: “God is great, God is good, Let us thank Him for our food.” For such a simple prayer, it contains incredibly important theology. But words sometimes have a way of becoming rote. We speak them and don’t think about what they really deep down truly say.

Today we want to focus on the phrase “God is Good,” because when things go awry in our life, or when they’re hard, or we suffer, or loved ones suffer, It’s easy to question: Is God really good?

 

What does it take to bring us to that place? What makes people say they doubt God’s goodness?

  • Our prayers aren’t answered when and how we want
  • We find ourselves in difficult circumstances longer than we think we should be there
  • People, especially other believers, hurt us
  • There is so much evil in the world

Oh, the temptation to take hold, to embrace the doubt, to question God’s goodness! Life can be so hard! Overflowing with struggle. Not the “I-can’t-find-a-parking-spot-at-CostCo” kind (as irritating as those may be), but the struggles where home or family or security or life are in peril. Hurt and fear leave us feeling abandoned. And as each blow lands on already bruised places in our spirit, we wonder what God is doing.

 

Is God still good, even in the deep places? Does being in deep places change His goodness?

It’s okay to struggle. It’s even okay to doubt. But we need to move from doubt to trust that God is who He says He is.

Do we change our God based on circumstances? What do we give more attention to—what’s happening or God’s character as shown to us in Scripture? Do we assign more power to God, or to whatever is assaulting us? Where do we spend our time—struggling and fighting against the assault or seeking God?

When we let ourselves focus on the struggle, when we become steeped in the pain and consequences of whatever is happening, it has a tendency to numb us. Overwhelm us. Is it any wonder, then, that we can’t FEEL God? And because we can’t feel Him we think He isn’t there. And that’s when the doubting…the questions start.

But here’s the thing, friends. While I agree that God is big and powerful enough to handle our doubts, do you understand what you’re really saying when you say you “doubt God’s goodness”? This isn’t just some harmless response to bad times. This is something far more. This is questioning whether God is who He says He is.

When we allow these thoughts—these blatant lies—into our hearts and minds, we’re not just doubting an aspect or behavior of God—we’re questioning God Himself. Think about it. We, the creation, are sticking out our chins and saying to our Creator, “Prove you’re who you say you are.”

Now, I’m not saying this doesn’t seem to be an understandable response. We’re human, and we’re frail, and we can only take so much, right? And it’s not like you’d be the first to do this. Remember good ol’ Job? God lets him talk and ponder and even complain and doubt Him. And then, in Chapter 38, God speaks to Job out of the whirlwind:

 

Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and wrapped it in thick darkness? For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!’

 

And so it goes for a total of 70 verses, and THEN:

The Lord said to Job: “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? Let him who accuses God answer Him!”

Job gets a moment to respond with: “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more.”

Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:

 

Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. Will you discredit My justice and condemn Me just to prove you are right? Are you as strong as God? Can you thunder with a voice like His? All right, put on your glory and splendor, your honor and majesty.

 

And on God goes, speaking for another couple of chapters. After all of this truth from Almighty God, Job’s reply in chapter 42 is wonderful:

 

I know that You can do anything, and no one can stop You. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions My wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about You before, but now I have seen You with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.

 

Folks, when we say things like we’re doubting God’s goodness, we, like Job, speak out of hearing about Him, but without SEEING Him. We speak without knowledge and understanding of just who God is. And without trusting Him who laid the earth’s foundation, who formed us, who is sovereign over EVERYTHING.

So we want to encourage you in that trust. The trust that God is who He says He is. That He not only does good things, but He IS good. To deny His goodness is to deny He is God. When we do that, we are guilty of exchanging His glory for the glory of something in the image of man.

  • “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.”  Romans 1:22-23
  • “‘Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But My people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols.  Be appalled at this, you heavens, and shudder with great horror,’ declares the Lord. ‘My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.’” Jeremiah 2:11-13

 

So what’s the truth?

God is good.

Seems like such a cliché. We’re so inclined to just brush that aside. But here’s the thing: God’s truth is profound, and yet it’s also simple. Those three words aren’t a cliche. They’re deep, unchanging, unshakable TRUTH. Consider these definitions of good and the Scriptures that reveal how that relates to God:

 

  1.  Of a favorable character or tendency

“I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing.’” Psalm 16:2

“You are good, and what You do is good; teach me Your decrees.” Psalm 119:68

 

  1.  Not depreciated

“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’” Revelation 1:8

“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last and there is no God besides Me…Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.’” Isaiah 44

God doesn’t change, you can’t take away from who He is.

 

  1.  Virtuous, right, deserving of respect

“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” Revelation 4:11

 

  1.  Representative of high standards and skill

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”  Romans 11:33-36

 

  1.  Benevolent; being good to others

“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:25-26

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

 

So the next time you’re immersed in the deep, and you find yourself unable to feel God’s presence, and that lie about God tries to slip into your heart and mind, stop. Remind yourself instead that God is who He says He is. He IS good. And immerse yourself  instead in this truth from 1 Peter, chapter 1:

 

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by His great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

 

We want to hear from you!

What helps you remember God’s goodness, even in the difficult places?

 

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Be a Warrior in the Deep with Mark Mynheir

Author Mark Mynheir-Be a Warrior in the Deep-Write from the Deep Podcast

46 – Be a Warrior in the Deep

Author Mark Mynheir is a Marine. He’s been on a S.W.A.T. team. Done undercover narcotics work. And he’s been a law enforcement officer for almost 30 years. He’s a modern-day warrior—and he’s here to help you on your journey in the deep. Let his experiences and wisdom help prepare you for battles in the deep!

Show Notes

Mark Mynheir is a former Marine who’s worked in law enforcement nearly three decades. In his career, Mark has served as a patrol officer, an undercover narcotics agent, a S.W.A.T. team member, and a homicide detective. Mark has parlayed his police experiences into a successful speaking and writing career. He has written articles for Focus on the Family’s Breakaway magazine, Lookout magazine, and Christian Fiction Online and is also the author of five novels: Rolling Thunder, From the Belly of the Dragon, The Void, The Corruptible, and the Christy nominated The Night Watchman. Mark has also co-written two books with Max Lucado—Pocket Prayers for Dads and Pocket Prayers for Military Life.

You can visit Mark’s website at copwriter.com

 

Key Quotes

What the deep means to Mark…

I was thinking about that, and it has so many meanings. Whenever I hear the deep, it’s the deep in my faith; where am I at with my faith. That’s what it really means when I hear the deep. I’m thinking “Where I am with Jesus?” Am I going deep, am I digging deep, or am I just skipping across the surface?

When I’m writing, when I hear the deep, am I getting deep with my characters? And it’s very similar to my faith; am I skipping across the surface, or am I getting down to the meat and bones, down into the soul. Like I said, the deep has a couple meanings, but as a writer, it’s really am I getting to the soul of whatever I’m looking at.

 

Writing for impact…

When I wrote my first book, a lot of it had to do with forgiveness. So, I’m writing this book and I have this little agenda in my head and I’m going along, but I didn’t realize until I was done, you have to dig deep in yourself… putting pieces of yourself in your writing. And I found after I finished my first book, there was a lot of myself in it and it was a lot of healing and cleansing that God was working in me. And I had this grand vision of who I was gonna help! If nobody else got anything from it, I did. God was able to work through some things in my life and my attitude. By the time I was done and really had reflected on it, I was really thankful.

 

How Mark started writing…

Many folks know from an early age they want to write; they keep journals… That was not me. From a very early age, I struggled with written word. It was my enemy… I had learning disabilities… I hated writing.

I knew I could barely read and write, so I quit school at 17 and joined the Marines. I had a good service career… but in there I met a guy… he started explaining his learning disability and he said, “Mark, you have no idea what it’s like not being able to do what everyone else can do.” I was not a Christian at the time, but I knew God was speaking to my heart. And I looked at him and I said, “Yeah, I kinda do.”

So I get out of the service, I meet my wife… She encouraged me to go back to school. I went and I got tested and I found out I had dyslexia and dysgraphia. When they tested me, I tested grammar at about a second-grade level. Everything else was at a post-graduate level. It wasn’t that I was stupid, it was just there was a glitch somewhere in my head that really impacted me on reading and writing. Suddenly, it all made sense and my pain had a name… I had to take a year and a half of prep classes at college just to get into regular classes. My wife encouraged me so I kept writing. I went to school and kept learning and taking classes. And then I felt that…God called me to write and I just thought, “That’s just impossible” … I had these stories, but I thought I would never be able to put it onto paper. But again, my wife encouraged me… And finally I worked and I wrote my first book. I went to a writer’s conference… and a publisher expressed an interest in it. I was blown away, and I’m just thinking only God could do that.

 

Writing with Max Lucado…

I’d written novels…but I just didn’t have another novel in me… You hit that crossroad as a writer sometimes. About a week prior to this coming available, I said, “God… I wanna write something. But I’d like it where I don’t even get credit, I don’t care.”

A week later a former editor that I’d worked with at another publishing house emails me and says that Max Lucado has a series of books coming out. They’re pocket prayer books. One is for dads and one’s for military life. I had kids and I had been in the military, so I guess I was qualified. I’ve written fiction, I’ve written some articles…but never written a devotional. So what do you do? You pray.

 

Dealing with the darkness…

You can’t go through five, ten, fifteen, thirty years now… of law enforcement unscathed. It changes you. It really does. I spent my first five years of law enforcement…not as a Christian. I remember…becoming a believer and how the perspective changes, but the job changed you. You see so much horrible, horrible things. You…can become very jaded.

I don’t like going out in public. Whenever we go to a restaurant, my kids know which chair I have to sit in because I have to watch the door. I was talking about this with my co-workers the other day and none of us can be in a crowd for long periods of time. It’s very unsettling.

Police officers don’t do anything like normal people do… When you just wanna stop in and get a soda, you just don’t pull into a parking spot. You do at least one lap in any parking lot to make sure you’re not walking in on a robbery. You’re watching everybody’s hands. You don’t like people behind you in lines, especially when you’re in uniform, because you’re always a target.

We have an enemy, so I understand that and that helps me, but we also have a Savior.

I almost walked away from law enforcement and I was praying about it… “God, I don’t think I can do this anymore.” And God just made it abundantly clear… I read an article…that talked about the need for police officers and standing armies in a sinful and fallen world. That was just God’s clarification.

 

Final words of wisdom…

If God’s called you to write, don’t listen to the negative voices. Satan in your head. And please don’t read Amazon reviews. If God’s called you to write, you’ve got to write. You have no choice. Just do it, and God will do with it what He needs to do with it. You don’t worry about it, you only do what He calls you to do. Don’t let those negative voices derail you from what God’s calling you to do.

 

We Want to hear from you!

What does it mean to you to be a warrior in the deep?

 

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Hopelessness – Snares in the Deep, Part 2

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young Write from the Deep Podcast - Hopelessness, Snares in the Deep, Part 2

45 – Hopelessness – snares in the deep, part 2

There are dangers in the deep, snares planted by the enemy of our souls to entangle us and keep us trapped in darkness and doubt. Today we’re exploring the most dangerous snare of all: hopelessness. But here’s the good news: There is ALWAYS hope when God is on our side. So come join the discussion on how to avoid—or escape—the snare of hopelessness.

Show notes

In part one of our series on snares in the deep (episode 44, and I encourage you to go back and listen to that if you haven’t) we talked about the snare of resentment. While resentment can build feelings of anger and frustration, this week’s snare can suck all your feelings away and leave you in a wasteland. Empty. Starving. Hopeless.

And that, my friends, is the snare we’re focusing on today. Hopelessness.

Hopelessness can lead to:

  • Giving up
  • Being isolated
  • Being more vulnerable to attacks from the enemy of our soul
  • Depression
  • Despair

 

How to avoid the snare of hopelessness:

Keep your hope centered in the right place—on God

  • Psalm 25:4-5 says, “Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.” We’re not to hope in things or people or circumstances.
  • Psalm 130:7 says, “O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows.” We can hope in Him because He loves us.

 

Ground yourself in the reality of God’s goodness

  • Psalm 145:5-10 says, “I will meditate on Your majestic, glorious splendor and Your wonderful miracles. Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim Your greatness. Everyone will share the story of Your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about Your righteousness. The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all His creation. All of Your works will thank You, Lord, and Your faithful followers will praise You.”

 

Understand that the deep is just life

  • It’s not necessarily a punishment. Jesus experienced the deep to the point of sweating blood. It’s not a declaration of your value, or lack thereof. It just is. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
  • You’re not alone. We all go through challenges and slide toward hopelessness.

 

Focus on things that you have, rather than what you’ve lost

  • Be looking for things that give you hope. Purpose to spend time every day doing this, even if only for a moment. Of course, look in Scripture, but look for hope in the immediate, too. In the physical world around you. In things like a child’s joy in the moment, or music, or nature.

 

Live with your focus on the possibility of the unseen too

  • One of my personal definitions of  hope is unswerving belief in future possibilities. God is an infinite, boundless God. Infinite hope, infinite possibility. He can do things we can’t see coming. Yes, we should focus on the good things we see, but we should also be asking God daily to help us focus on the things unseen, the eternal things He has for us.

 

Use Scripture with a truth phrase to create “Affirmations of Hope”

  • With God, all things are possible. My feelings don’t change that truth.
  • The enemy is a roaring lion, seeking those he may devour. I will NOT be devoured.
  • God cares. He loves me for me!
  • Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” I’m not alone!
  • Psalms 34:17-18 “When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” God has promised to save me!

 

How to escape the snare of hopelessness when you’ve been caught in it
  1. Acknowledge it. As with other snares, it’s a feeling, nothing more. The enemy is doing everything He can to convince you it’s reality. But it’s NOT.
  2. Reprogram your self-talk. Every time you start to say how nothing will change, how you’re cursed, or whatever the lie is, combat that with truth. Use your Affirmations. Repeat them, even if you don’t feel them. Speak truth until you DO feel it.
  3. Realize that it’s God who will make you able to do that. Psalm 119:147 says, “I rise before the dawning of the morning and cry for help. I hope in Your word.” Cry out to Him and put your hope in His truth.
  4. Quit. A few weeks ago we had a guest, Alton Gansky, who said it’s okay to quit, just don’t quit for good. Maybe you need to walk away from whatever is feeling hopeless. Even if only for a day. Take a break. Remove yourself. Give yourself permission to quit. But don’t stay there. Remember, you need to travel. To move forward. So after you quit, ask God to show you when to start again. Or ask how He wants to redirect you.

 

God’s purpose for us in the deep is that we learn about ourselves and Him, that we go deeper INTO Him. But there are times when it just feels like it’s too much. Like we’ll never escape. Like life will always be in this deep, difficult place. Remember, those feelings are just that, feelings. Don’t make the mistake of letting those feelings wrap themselves around your heart and spirit until you feel there is no hope. Prepare yourself for the day you’ll encounter the snare of hopelessness. And, if you end up caught by it, remember: there is always hope with God. There is no place too deep, too dark, for Him to take hold of us and lift us. Rest in Him and His promises and truth. And let those things free you from the devastation of giving in to the lie of hopelessness.

 

We want to hear from you!

What helps you avoid the snare of hopelessness?
What helps you escape when you’re caught in the snare?

 

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Resentment – Snares in the Deep, part 1

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young Write from the Deep Podcast, Resentment

44 – Resentment – Snares in the Deep, part 1

Being in the deep is bad enough, but what can you do when you find you’re trapped there? Caught by one of the strategic snares the enemy has planted? That’s exactly what we’re here to talk about. Join us as we discuss ways to avoid the snare of resentment. Or, if you’ve been caught in it, ways to escape. You’re not alone!

 

Show notes

In our last episode, we talked with award-winning author Alton Gansky about traveling in the deep. He had some wonderful insights for us, but it also made us think. Because we walk this fine line where we don’t want to strive to get out of the deep, we need patient endurance, but there should ultimately be a sense of movement in God’s time. Of progression, learning, and growing. It’s a journey. The trouble is, when we’re journeying in the deep, there are snares. And one of the most dangerous snares is resentment.

 

The Fruit of Resentment

Rebellion, willful disobedience, arrogance: These all lead to separation from God.

Which leads to: Physical consequences, broken relationships, loss of perspective.

And all that provides: A foothold for the enemy’s lies.

 

What Do We Resent?

That we’re in this deep place at all. We don’t deserve it.

But what does Scripture say we deserve?

  • “The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Psalm 14:2-3
  • “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Psalm 51:5
  • “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God ‘will repay each person according to what they have done.’” Romans 2:5-6
  • “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
  • It’s only by the GIFT of God that we can have forgiveness. We don’t—we can’t—earn it, and we don’t deserve it.

 

We Resent Being Punished

But Scripture tells us refinement isn’t punishment. It comes out of God’s love for us.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

  • “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11
  • “My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights. Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold.” Proverbs 3:11-14
  • There is gain in correction. Whatever the reason we’re in this deep place, it will be ultimately used for our good and God’s glory. Even Jesus suffered.
  • “God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that He should make Jesus, through His suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.” Hebrews 2:10

 

We Resent Those Who Don’t Appear to Suffer Like We Do.

I’m way better than ______, and I don’t see him/her suffering like this.

  • The truth is that we don’t know what’s happening in another person’s life. Look at what Scripture says about focusing on self and our own faith, not looking at what God is doing with others.
  • “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.” Galatians 6:4-5

 

We Resent the Feeling of Constant Affliction

We resent that we have to go through yet another struggle. “Haven’t I been through enough?”

  • The apostle Paul had constant afflictions, including getting flogged not once, not twice, but 5 times.
  • On top of that, he says,  “…I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
  • Paul turned his afflictions around—into a chance to bring glory to Christ.

 

We Resent that God Didn’t Save Us From it When He Saved Others

We ask ourselves, “Doesn’t He love me as much as He loves them?”

  • That’s comparing again. It’s taking our eyes off of God and His love for us.
  • “For great is Your love toward me; You have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.” Psalm 86:13

 

How to Avoid the Snare of Resentment

  1. Keep your perspective grounded in God’s truth. Not “Why me?” but “Why not me?” Jesus is our suffering Savior and He tells us we’ll suffer as well.
  2. Seek counsel. When the feelings hit, ask for prayer and counsel from those you know well and trust.
  3. Be aware of, and keep a check on, your expectations. “Not my will, but Yours.”
  4. Cultivate a spirit of gratitude, even in the deep. If you struggle with this, check out episode 22, “Count it all Joy.”

 

How to Escape the Snare of Resentment When You’ve Been Caught in It:

  1. Acknowledge it. It’s a feeling, nothing more. It’s not truth, it’s not reality. It’s how you feel, and that’s okay.
  2. Understand it. Ask God to show you the core of your resentment. The “why” of your feelings. Dig deep. Write it down. Be brave for this. We all have an ugly human side—that’s why we need Jesus. Don’t let this make you feel worse about yourself.
  3. Ask God to show you how to deal with that/those core(s). He wants to! He wants your restoration. Seek His forgiveness. Seek His truth. Seek His light. But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
  4. Ask forgiveness from anyone you’ve harmed because of your resentment.
  5. Leave it with God, and move forward. Make a new game plan.

 

Conclusion

Being in the deep will happen for all of us at some point. The enemy knows that far better than we do. And he knows exactly how to set snares to entangle us. To keep us trapped and blind so that we can’t move forward or see what God has for us there. One of his most effective snares is the poison of resentment. But God is aware of the enemy’s plans and traps, and He’s already given us the key to avoiding those snares. And God knows there will be times we end up entangled, and He’s given us the way to escape. All we need to do is lean into Him, and let Him set us free.

 

We want to hear from you!

What helps you avoid and escape resentment?

 

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Traveling in the Deep with Alton Gansky

Alton Gansky Traveling in the Deep

43 – Traveling in the Deep with Alton Gansky

Too often we look at the deep as a bottomless hole that traps and immobilizes us. But, as Alton Gansky shares, we can learn to travel in the deep. To look on the deep places as part of this journey God has each of us on as writers and as individuals. And we can learn to travel the deep parts of the journey with wisdom and grace.

Show Notes

About Al…

Alton L. Gansky is the author of 24 novels, 5 novellas, 1 screenplay, and 11 nonfiction works, as well as principal writer of 9 novels and 2 nonfiction books. He has been a Christy Award finalist (A Ship Possessed) and an Angel Award winner (Terminal Justice) and recently received the ACFW award for best suspense/thriller for his work on Fallen Angel. He holds a BA and MA in biblical studies and was granted a Litt.D. He lives in central California with his wife.

He has hosted Writer’s Talk video podcast and is now cohost of Firsts in Fiction, a video podcast for up and coming writers—about the craft of fiction.

In addition to his own writing, Alton Gansky has consulted and provided editing/ writing services to several CBA publishers and written copy, video scripts, and other works for the general business market. Through Gansky Communications he has consulted with publishers and agents, as well as provided editing services. He is “the go to guy” for co-writing having been selected by Penguin, Waterbrook, Broadman Holman, and other publishers to work with their top tier authors.

Find out more about Alton at AltonGansky.com.

 

Key quotes

What the deep means to Al…

Well, I imagine it has many different meanings for many different people based on their travels through life. For me, the deep has been very positive, and at times been very negative. It’s been something endured rather than embraced. And other times you’re forced to embrace it, and you see at the end why. I’m getting old now so I’ve lived long enough to have many scars and to learn from them, and to pass them on to anyone who will listen. Not the scars, but what I’ve learned about the scars.

I think the deep is part of the travel. We walk through darkness at times. A lot of people don’t realize there’s places in Scripture where God is described as light, but there are places where it says God moves in the darkness. And that’s sometimes where you find Him doing His best work.

 

On learning from difficult places…

What I’ve learned over the years of my life and in my years in ministry is that we are not promised that rose garden. If we do get the rose garden we get the thorns also. Many Christians think erroneously that if they become a Christian everything is going to be fine and there’s never going to be any challenges. I used to teach my people, well, they crucified Jesus and He lived a perfect life, so there’s a good chance you’re probably going to face some problems of your own.

Difficulty is the course of life…What you have to do is accept it and lean into it. The other option is to just stop moving forward or, well, you can’t even back out of the problem. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to get away from it. Your only positive choice is to accept that place and lean into the problem. Move on, keep going, and do whatever it is you can do.

 

The deepest deep…

Some of the most remarkable things we will ever see are found in the deepest caves…The Lord doesn’t necessarily provide us with all the light we want. I always want more light. But I’m not sure I could handle more light, if I’m being honest here. But He gives us enough light…and then if you use that light you see remarkable things. That’s part of life’s journey.

We’re going to fall down. It doesn’t matter if we trip and fall. What matters is if we get up. That’s the only thing that counts. Falling doesn’t count. Getting up does.

 

Satisfaction in the deep…

I’m not trying to sugarcoat this. I don’t want people to think this is fun… There’s nothing fun about it. But the satisfaction comes from having been faithful through it.

 

What keeps Al going through writing struggles…

The first thing I do is quit. I encourage people to quit. The only proviso is you can’t stay quit. Quit as often as you want. But you can’t stay quit. Every once in a while it’s get up, walk out, I’m done. Career’s over. I’m going to find something else to do. And usually after a good night sleep I’m up and raring to go. And sometimes it takes a little longer.

I have my greatest satisfaction when I write. It’s also the toughest thing I do. Sometimes it’s hard to start and other times I’d rather go take a nap… as difficult as it is—and sometimes it’s like a root canal—I find even if I struggle through a difficult time, I will at the end of the day have greater satisfaction then if I did something else.

 

How Al started writing fiction…

As a pastor, I was called to the hospital for a child that fell out of a moving car… I walked into the children’s hospital, looked into a couple rooms and then noticed all I did for the rest of the walk was look at the linoleum floor. And the reason was it hurt too much to look from side to side. When I saw the other children there…it just ripped me to shreds… I did my work as a pastor and then went to the car with my head down. A huge sense of shame washed over me. I remember thinking I wish I had the gift of healing…I would go from hospital to hospital, sneak in, do this work of healing, and sneak out. And that became the book By My Hands. I asked myself this “what if” question. That was the first “what if” question I ever asked in writing.

Out of my shame came a desire to one, be better at what I do, and two, to tell the story of what these things might look like. And that launched my career.

 

On guilt…

The great theologian Erma Bombeck said guilt is the gift that keeps on giving. I think that’s one of the things I’ve learned in my life. Guilt isn’t fun but you might as well learn something from it, otherwise you’ve wasted a good guilt. If you have to go through that…you might as well learn from it. Otherwise it’s a waste… You don’t know who you’re going to be able to help by doing that.

 

On writing from painful experiences…

That’s what writing is. We draw from our experiences…for example when I was a young pastor and I’d be called on to talk to people who lost parents and stuff like that, I always felt kind of removed. I didn’t know. Then my mother died. And I knew.

That pain made me a better pastor. Next time I was called out to help somebody who lost a loved one, I’d walked the path… I now understood… And sometimes when we write that’s what we’re doing. We’re teaching other people what it’s like to go through those things even though they may not go through them. But that very pain you have yourself, if you open yourself up to it—and trust me I don’t like it—it will translate onto the page. That’s where peoples lives are touched, putting that kind of real life into the fiction or even the nonfiction.

 

Final words of wisdom…

Go ahead and give up. You can quit all you want, you just can’t stay quit. And that is a normal thing. That sense “I need to quit” is really a moment to step back and reflect. Don’t be surprised by that. Every writer I know goes through that. Every honest writer I know goes through that…When you come back you’re fresher. Your subconscious has been able to work. So yeah, it’s okay to quit. You just can’t stay quit.

 

We want to hear from you!

Have you ever did as Al suggested? Have you quit?
What happened as a result?

 

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The Danger of Striving in the Deep

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young The Danger of Striving in the Deep Write from the Deep Podcast
42 – The Danger of Striving in the Deep

Do you find yourself doing everything you can think of to “learn what I need to” and “get out!” of the deep? Then the odds are good that you’ve blown right by trust and dwelling with God and landed smack-dab in the middle of striving. But striving doesn’t help you when you’re in the deep. In fact, it works against you. Don’t believe us? Well, come join the discussion and find out why it’s dangerous to strive when you’re in the deep.

Show Notes

We’ve talked before about the most common reaction when we find ourselves in deep places, and that’s the drive to GET OUT! To escape the deep, to get back to where we’re doing well and feeling happy. But there’s another reaction that can be as counterproductive—and even dangerous—and that’s to strive while you’re in the deep.

What do we mean by that?

Webster’s defines striving as:

Making great efforts to achieve or obtain something

Or

To struggle or fight vigorously

When you strive for something, it’s goes beyond just working hard or being determined to achieve it. It’s being focused, sometimes obsessively so on DOING. It’s trying so hard to do what’s right and best and most productive, to learn your lesson and get past whatever the struggle is, that you completely miss what this whole thing is about.

 

The Difference Between Striving and Enduring

Striving is about doing, about you figuring out what you need to do and jumping on it.

Enduring is about patience, dwelling with Christ, and trusting Him.

Following Christ, especially when you’re in the deep, is like being a foot soldier in the military. Wait to receive orders. Act only when the Commander says to act. Until then, rest. Train. Study. Focus on Him.

Rest in God

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:9-11

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

 

Study – Put our focus on God

2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”

Joshua 1:8 “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”

  • Consider how many books, blogs, etc., you read on craft or on the business of writing. How many hours do you spend researching for your books? Do you spend an equal amount of time in God’s Word? If not, things are off-balance.

Psalm 119:15 “I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways.”

  • This goes beyond just reading the Word. We each need to dig deep, to study what God’s word is saying to us.

2 Timothy 2:7 Paul tells Timothy “Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.”

  • How often do we reflect? I mean literally just sit around and think about something we’ve just read?

 

Train Ourselves to Walk with God

“Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.” Psalm 144:1

  • God is doing the work, the subduing, and yet David still needs training. He has a part to play.

1 Timothy 4:7b “…train yourself to be godly.”

Hebrews 5:12-14 “You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to distinguish good from evil.”

  • There is a danger to not training.
  • Be teachable. Keep your mind and heart open to God’s leading. Don’t resist if He tells you that you need to change directions, or consider something new and different than you thought. He is in control. Train yourself to know and respond to His voice, His guidance. Even if He’s taking you someplace you’re not sure you want to go. Remember, He’s been there ahead of you. He’s prepared the way for working His will and purpose within and through you. You’ll be amazed where He takes you when your heart and spirit are submitted to him.

 

The Bottom Line

Understand that this whole thing is in God’s hands, not our hands. That silent time in study and prayer isn’t sitting still, doing nothing—it’s waging the battle! We need to seek Him for every step. We are often willing to do that in the darkness, when we can’t see a thing around us. But do we trust Him and seek Him like that in the light? If not, why not? It’s His vision for us. Bringing it about isn’t on our shoulders but on His. We need to trust Him for every step we take.

“Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” Revelation 3:10

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1: 2-4

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46:10-11

 

We want to hear from you!

Have you found yourself striving in the deep?
What helps you focus on God?

 

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How To Handle Critique

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young Write from the Deep Podcast How to Handle Critique

41 – How To Handle Critique

Few careers open you up to criticism and critique as being a writer. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how you could have written your book better. But the hard truth is that if you’re a writer, you can’t escape critiques and edits. Nor should you! Quality critiques and edits are your friends, helping you to strengthen your craft and share your message with excellence. So how do we learn to love critiques? Well, join us to learn exactly that!

Show Notes

Critique is an unavoidable occurrence in the publishing industry. Maybe you’re at a conference and you have an appointment with an editor, an agent, or a mentor, or maybe you’re just meeting with your critique group. Or for those of you who are published, you know those edits are coming!

While we’d all love to respond prayerfully, thoughtfully, and with a teachable heart and a willingness to work, we often…don’t. Instead, we can feel:

  • Discouraged
  • Resentful
  • Frustrated
  • Angry
  • Or we get caught up in feeding on affirmation

What hinders us from the positive, healthy attitude we want?

  • Fear – We don’t think we can do it. We worry that we don’t have the skills, etc.
  • Arrogance – We think we can do it without studying and learning the craft

What we need instead is a realignment of our understanding.

Writing is hard! Rewriting is hard! Give yourself a limited amount of time to be frustrated. Then take a hard look at the suggestions. Take the time to think, to pray, to get counsel. Read craft books. Visit reputable writing websites. Allow yourself the time you need to come to the solutions that can make your work better. It’s okay to not know how to fix something right away. What can unfortunately happen is that we panic because we don’t have the answers right now. But instead, we can learn to trust the process and trust that God is intimately involved and will give us the skills we need when we need them.

Make sure that you’re getting critique from people who know what they’re talking about, and think in terms of correction and redirection.

Three steps you can take to help you today

Remember this isn’t about you!

This is about the message God has given you, and the responsibility you have to share that with excellence.  2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive His approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.”

Recognize that critiques and editing are “iron sharpening iron.”

It’s as much about refining you as refining your craft, about teaching you to keep your focus on God and the task He’s given you, not about being right. “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:4-5

Remember that this is your story.

Critiques and editing are helpful, and can strengthen your craft. But if you have a sense, deep within, that what you’re being told isn’t how God wants you to share the story, hold to what God says. I’m not talking about craft so much but about the core of the message and story. Ask God to give you wisdom and discernment. “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God.” 1 John 4:1

Final Thoughts

Critiques, editing, those are simply a part of the journey when God gives you the task to be a writer. They’re not meant to discourage, but to help and strengthen you. Ready yourself to receive them with the right heart and mindset. Listen, evaluate, and then work hard to refine and improve. And never forget that you’ve already done the hardest part of all—you wrote a book! It’s on the page, so to speak. Now it’s time to dig in and make it even stronger. Not to make yourself look good, but to ensure you are sharing the message God has given you with as much power and excellence as possible.

 

We want to hear from you!

Have you ever had a difficult critique?
What helped you handle it well?

 

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Spiritual Fuel to Build Strength and Endurance

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young Write from the Deep Podcast Spiritual Fuel

40 – Spiritual Fuel to Build Strength and Endurance

Are you using the right kinds of “spiritual fuel” to energize and strengthen your faith? Or are you consuming what seems like fuel, but is actually a corrosive that eats away at your spirit and endurance? Come join us as we discuss how to identify false spiritual fuel from the real deal—and where you can find true satisfaction for your soul.

SHOW NOTES

We often talk about writing as a journey, but we don’t spend enough time focusing on the proper type of fuel we need for that journey. Everything we do in life requires energy, so we’re in a constant need for fuel. It’s never ending, until we die. But it’s not just physical fuel. We need the right kind if spiritual fuel to endure the things we encounter on a spiritual front. The problem is, there are good fuels out there, and harmful fuels. And we’re not always as discriminating as we need to be.

You can’t put regular gas into a diesel vehicle—it kills the engine. If you put diesel into a vehicle that runs on gas, same thing. Physically speaking, we have to feed our bodies the right kind of fuel for it to work as it was designed.

This applies to spiritual fuel as well. We have to use the right kind of spiritual fuel so that our hearts and spirits will “operate” as God intended, as He created them to operate, in faith and peace.

Problem is, too often we THINK we’re feeding on fuel, when in reality we’re feeding on things that corrode and destroy. Just as diesel will kill a gas-powered engine, putting gas in a diesel engine could actually cause it to explode, so feeding on false fuels—things that we think energize us spiritually, but in reality are corroding and destroying—can undermine our spiritual strength and endurance.

 

False fuels

  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Bitterness
  • Discouragement
  • Worry
  • Negativity

Whether we realize it or not, it’s easy to get caught up in these things. To feed on them. But it’s so hard to know when we’re doing this!

 

How can we recognize when we’re using the wrong fuel?

Ask ourselves:

  • What kinds of things are we saying? Is our talk centered on concerns? On wrongs done to us?
  • What do we feel? Angry, discouraged, frustrated?
  • What do we often hear? Sometimes we’re like a person at a buffet who only takes one food out of dozens, we may only hear the one negative comment out of ten positive things.
  • Where are our thoughts focused? What do we find ourselves thinking about? We can get deep grooves or patterns in our brains, and no matter what we start thinking about, we end up on the same thing.
  • What do those we trust say about us?

 

False Fuels have these things in common

  • They’re useless; they won’t create spark.
  • Or, more dangerous, they make us feel energized. But it’s the wrong kind of energy. It’s an energy that destroys and consumes us.
  • They suck us in like a vortex we can’t escape from. We cycle around and around.
  • They burden us rather than uplift us.
  • They turn our focus inward rather than toward God and others. Whenever we turn our focus inward, we’re focusing on the flesh, not on the spirit, therefore we don’t nurture or produce the fruit of the spirit.

 

What Spiritual Fuel Should We Feed On?

Jesus tells us what His food is in John 4:34.  “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work…”

  • This is about focus. About doing whatever it is that God has given us to do. This is where we get our energy from.
  • Focus on Jesus as being the source of our refreshment. “Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25
  • When we focus on what God has given us to do, we’re focused on Him and on His perspective, and not on ourselves.

 

Jesus also tells us in John 6:35 that we need to feed on Him. “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty…”

  • This is spiritual food that will sustain us, nurture our spirit, and grow the fruit of the spirit within us. We need to trust He will satisfy us. “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14
  • John 6:56-57 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.  Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.”
  • Jesus is the Passover lamb. We need to feed on the whole of Him—His cross, His yoke, His suffering, His resurrection. 1 Corinthians 5:7 “For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.”

 

Psalm 63:4-5 give us another form of spiritual food: Praising God. “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.”

  • This comes down to, again, recognizing who God is and focusing on Him.

 

We want to hear from you!

Have you ever found yourself feeding on a false fuel?

In what ways have you learned to feed on Jesus?

 

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Don’t let false fuels corrode your faith!

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Why Does It Matter That God Doesn’t Change?

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young Write from the Deep podcast Why Does It Matter that God Doesn't Change?

39 – Why Does It Matter That God Doesn’t Change?

Change. For many that’s a four-letter word, especially when they’re in deep places and struggling to cope. But here’s the good news: there’s an anchor you can hold onto, an anchor that is grounded and firm and never changes.

Show Notes

We want to talk about change. Yes, the world changes around us every minute. Just look at technology these days. But people aren’t very consistent either. We feel great one day, fall back the next. Strong one day, then weak the next. Hot then cold. We are subject to emotions which are fickle, and frailty of our body and mind, which are decaying.

The danger is, do we sometimes see God that way? Do we think He might love us less on any given day? Give us less attention? Forget about us? Be angry? Does He get distracted and forget about us, even for a moment? Is He more attentive to those who are more important than we are—which, in our minds far too often, is everyone.

Do we truly value the unchangeable nature of God? Today we’ll focus on just how wonderful it is to serve a God who never changes.

 

What does it mean to be unchanging?

Steadfast. Firmly fixed in place.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

“For I the Lord do not change…” Malachi 3:6

 

God will always exist.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8

From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. 6 Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.'” Revelation 4:5-8

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Psalm 90:2

 

Because God will always exist, so will His word.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8

“Forever, O Lord, Your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.” Psalm 119:89

 

Because He doesn’t change, His promises will never fail.

“God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should change His mind. Does He speak and not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?” Numbers 23:19

 

God is perfect the way He is. He doesn’t need to grow or improve.

“As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him.” Psalm 18:30

“He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.” Deuteronomy 32:4

 

He doesn’t get tired.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable.” Isaiah 40:28

 

God’s love is perfect and it won’t fade or end. He doesn’t love us less on any given day.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end…” Lamentations 3:22

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever. 2 Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. 3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. 4 to Him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever. 5 who by His understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever. 6 who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever. 7 who made the great lights—His love endures forever. 8 the sun to govern the day, His love endures forever. 9 the moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1-9

 

God’s desire for us, for our interaction and devotion and attention, never wavers.

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

 

God’s presence is always with us, and will be forever.

“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

 

God’s steadfast love and faithfulness are not dependent on our ability to earn it or love Him or be faithful in return.

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful— for He cannot deny himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13

“Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:4

“For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God?” Psalm 18:31

 

Our best response in the unpredictable, ever-changing world.

  • Focus on God’s perfection, His steadfastness.
  • Live in a place of humility.
  • Recognize, value, and be thankful for the fact that He IS NOT LIKE US.
  • But rather than focusing on feeling bad for our frailty and weakness, glorify God in His strength and rely on Him.

“I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8

“May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5

 

Links to the hymns. Do yourself a favor. Soak in them for a while.

Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise

Great is Thy Faithfulness

O God Our Help in Ages Past

 

We Want to Hear from You!

What do you think is the best facet of God’s unchangeable nature?

 

Tweetables

Why does it matter that God doesn’t change?

Who cares if God doesn’t change? You should! And here’s why.

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How Do You Overcome Defeat?

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young talk about how to overcome defeat on the Write from the Deep Podcast

38 – How Do You Overcome Defeat?

Defeat is never fun. It can bring a host of emotional baggage with it, weighing us down, demoralizing us so much that we doubt our ability to do anything. So how do we keep defeat from undermining us? By seeing it through the eyes of faith. And how do we do that? Get ready to find out!

Show Notes

We need defeat, apparent or real, for God to bring about victory.

Apparent defeats in the Bible:

Exodus, chapter 5
Moses’s first conversation with Pharaoh leads to Pharaoh’s angry order that the Israelites must now produce bricks without being given straw. They’ll have to work far harder and find straw themselves. But ultimately God wanted to lead them out of slavery through a larger, more glorious victory.

Daniel, chapter 3
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are thrown into a blazing furnace when they refuse to worship Nebuchadnezzar’s statue. Yet in this apparent defeat, the men are rescued. God’s victory is so complete that there isn’t even a sign of scorching on their clothes or the smell of fire on them.

 

What does this say to us about how to react in the face of seeming defeat?

  • We want to be different from the world around us.

 

What is the reaction of the world?

  • To exercise doubt, despair, and frustration
  • To build the anger and “victim” muscles
  • To let trust grow flabby and weak

 

What is the reaction of faith?

  • Exercise trust and patience
  • Build the suffering servant muscles
  • Build the endurance and perseverance muscles
  • Let words of truth grow strong and powerful.

 

What if we start to react in the world’s way?

STOP. The second you realize it, stop. Turn around. Focus on God.

The more you do this, the more you train yourself—and your faith—to respond in faith. To lean into God and trust Him with the outcome.

Reacting is an instinct. Responding is a choice. A deliberate action. We want to train ourselves to respond.

Does this mean every defeat you face in the world will be turned to victory? Yes, but the timing is in God’s hands. The question isn’t if you’ll see the victory pulled from defeat, but if you will let God use these opportunities to strengthen you and your faith.

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14

 

We want to hear from you!

What are some ways God has brought you victory through apparent defeat?

 

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Knowing God’s Heart

Tricia Goyer, author and busy mom in the trenches talks to us about knwoing God's heart

37 – Knowing God’s Heart

So often, we get it into our heads that when we accept Christ and set about following God, life will be not just better—which it is—but easier—which it often is not. In fact, when we seek God’s heart and determine to embrace it in our thoughts, actions, and writing, we may end up in the deepest places we’ve ever known. But don’t be afraid! Our wonderful guest, best-selling author and mother of TEN, Tricia Goyer, will help you see how it’s in those places that we find God’s true power and the message He has for us to share with a broken and weary world.

Show Notes

About Tricia Goyer:

Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of ten—eight living at home—grandmother of three, and wife to John. Somewhere around the hustle and bustle of family life, she manages to find the time to write fictional tales delighting and entertaining readers and non-fiction titles offering encouragement and hope. A bestselling author, Tricia has published more than fifty books to date and has written more than 500 articles. She is a two-time Carol Award winner, as well as a Christy and ECPA Award nominee. In 2010, she was selected as one of the Top 20 Moms to Follow on Twitter by SheKnows.com. Tricia is also on the blogging team at TheBetterMom.com and other homeschooling and Christian sites. In addition to her roles as mom, wife, and author, Tricia volunteers around her community and mentors teen moms. She is the founder of Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana, and she currently leads a Teen MOPS Group in Little Rock, AR. Learn more about Tricia at www.triciagoyer.com.

Tricia Goyer is a busy mom and writer in the trenches. Today she talks with us about knowing God’s heart…

Key Quotes:

Tricia’s thoughts of the deep…

“I love that you brought God’s word into it. I think in my story it has been getting to know God’s word, really spending time with Him, but then actually doing what it says. So when God says care for the widows, care for the orphans, tell the gospel to those in need, it’s actually doing what He says. When I do that, that’s where the deep trouble comes… but then having Him show up again and again and again.”

 

Deep struggles in our lives…

“The deep for me was all those places I tried to hide, all the pain that had been there. God not only wanted to heal those places but He wanted to use me to reach other people. Somehow all the pain that I went through…it even comes out in my writing…in a lot of the issues my characters have. So not only face-to-face, but even in my writing God has wanted to use those things that I wanted to hide to help other people.”

 

Struggles while we’re being obedient…

“The most recent struggle has been adopting our kids. John and I have three biological kids and then we’ve adopted seven more kids in the last five years…and my 87-year-old grandma also lives with us, so add that to the mix…We started with adopting one because we felt we’ve got to care for these orphans… and we got a newborn baby and we thought, okay we’ve done what God’s word says… But then John and I were confronted with the thought that there are a lot more kids that need homes, that are in foster care, that are aging out of foster care… Most teenagers that age out of foster care, the girls are pregnant within six months…Statistics are that 90% of the boys are incarcerated after they age out of foster care because they have no family. They have nowhere to turn. They end up going to the streets… We were just confronted…so then we got these kids that were so broken…that had emotional issues. They’ve been abused, they’ve been sexually assaulted, all these things. And then we’re trying to fit them into our lives and I remember that first week, and I’m like, ‘God what is going on?’ Sooo hard…We ended up finding therapy, but it was still a struggle. It was so hard.”

 

Leaving comfort zones behind…

“We finally found a lot of healing, and we got to a place where we were settled and comfortable, and my husband approached me one day and said, ‘I don’t think were supposed to live life being comfortable. I don’t want to get to heaven and say that I gave it my all for the first 40 years and I coasted the rest of my life in my comfort zone.’ It was clear we were supposed to adopt more, and specifically teenage girls. And I was bawling my eyes out because I knew this was not going to be an easy thing…Honestly that was probably the hardest season of my life, just dealing with all the kids. We had seven kids from broken places, and I was just crying, ‘God we really need you.’ That really is a deep place. God meets me there and says, ‘I love you. I’ll give you the peace. I’ll give you the patience.’ And just feeling Him work through me in places where I could not do it in my own strength.”

 

Writing in the midst of ministering to broken people in the house…

“I’ve always had children in the home while I’ve been trying to write…I’ve learned how to carve out time…. But really, we have therapy appointments, we have all these things, and I tell people writing is the easiest thing I do right now because its me, it’s my computer, It’s my own thoughts, it’s quiet… I mean it’s still a challenge…but writing, sitting down at my computer is not folding 10 loads of laundry…I’ve discovered I can meet God there. I quiet myself before Him, and I can push out all those other things and really connect with Him during those times… The last book I wrote, I wrote between 3 AM and 6 AM… that was the time slot I had. So it was getting up, spending some time in Bible study and prayer and then writing before the rest of the kids got up. So it’s not easy. But I can see the difference in the books I’m writing because I’m so dependent on God.”

 

Jesus as the suffering servant…

“Connecting with Jesus as the suffering servant, that’s coming out more in my writing. I was someone who these girls weren’t going to trust, Who they were going to lash out at…I think I connected so much more with the suffering that Christ felt. And the pain of rejection and the pain of people who you’re just pouring love into…it just hits me so much more now… I think anything we face in our life comes out in writing. My books coming out in upcoming years will be different because of what I’m going through with these kids.”

 

Hope…

“When we believe who we are—we are God’s child, He loves us, He’s never going to leave us, He’s never going to forsake us, it’s done—and we can truly walk in it, it changes everything…If God called us to this, God is going to use it for a good purpose, and He’s going to bring something good out of this. And the hope is really in Him…He’ll get the glory, somehow, and He called us to this for a reason.”

 

Serving…

“John always says, ‘It’s not going to church service where we go and sit, it’s being part of church service, where we are part of the body of Christ, and we’re serving others.’ That’s been part of our family structure.”

 

Final words of encouragement…

“There was a prayer that I prayed years ago. ‘God, show me your heart. Where is your heart? Where are you hurting? What makes you cry. Who do you want to reach? God, show me your heart.’ When you have God’s heart, it’s like, ‘I have to do something, even though it’s going to be really hard.’ Even in your writing ask, ‘God show me your heart. What is your message for the people today?’ Once you have God’s heart, the words will come because His message will be in your heart.”

 

We want to hear from you!

Have you ever asked God to show you His heart? What answer did you receive?

 

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God’s Invitation in the Deep

36 – God’s Invitation in the Deep

We often struggle when we’re in deep places, wondering what we’ve done to deserve this, why God hasn’t fixed the problems, and why oh why are we there when we’ve done all we can to follow Him? But the truth is God is there, beside you, giving you an invitation to draw closer to Him than ever before. Join the discussion with industry veteran Allen Arnold as he shares about God’s wondrous invitation to us in the deep.

Show notes

About Allen Arnold:

Allen Arnold, recipient of the 2012 ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award, spent 20 years as a leader within Christian Publishing. He was founder and publisher of Thomas Nelson Fiction, overseeing the launch of more than 500 novels spanning every imaginable genre. Today, he directs Content at Ransomed Heart—a ministry led by New York Times Bestselling Author John Eldredge—and pursues his calling to the larger creative community by helping storytellers, songwriters, and artists discover how to intimately and actively create with God.

Check out his new book The Story of With: A Better Way to Live, Love, and Create.

And don’t forget your chance to win a signed copy of Allen’s book! Watch our newsletter for details on how to enter!

 

We want to hear from you!

What are your dreams?
What do you think about God’s invitation? Do you want to ride?

 

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The deep is the perfect place to hear God’s invitation!

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The Real Christmas

35 – The Real Christmas

No one wants to be in a difficult place at Christmas time. We want to feel happy and enter into the spirit of the season. But is that really what the season is about? Or is the reality of Christmas far more reminiscent of the deep than of decorated trees and twinkling lights? Come into the deep to find the true meaning—and the deepest joy and hope—of Christmas.

Show Notes

We’re glad you’re here with us at Christmas time. But maybe this Christmas you don’t feel like celebrating. Maybe you’re going through trials, and maybe this Christmas you’re saying things like:

I HATE that this is happening at Christmas! This isn’t what Christmas is supposed to be. Everyone’s happy but me.

Or maybe things you’re hoping for haven’t come to pass. That’s an experience of loss.

Or maybe you’ve suffered the loss of a loved one, or a job, or a book contract, or a career.

Life intensifies around holidays, stress levels rise, we feel grief, depression, etc., more deeply. It all feels like loss, in so many ways. Loss of loved ones, loss of traditions, loss of things hoped for—the perfect job we were hoping for, or the life, or the spouse (if we’re single and don’t want to be). But those things happen all year round, so why are they so much more debilitating at Christmas time? Maybe it’s because we don’t really, in our heart of hearts, understand what Christmas was. And still is.

 

Isaiah 24:4-6

“The earth mourns and dries up, and the land wastes away and withers. Even the greatest people on earth waste away. The earth suffers for the sins of its people, for they have twisted God’s instructions, violated his laws, and broken his everlasting covenant. Therefore, a curse consumes the earth. Its people must pay the price for their sin…”

This is not just talking about “those people over there” who’ve broken His covenant. We all have. We’re in a deep place. That’s our true condition.

 

But at Christmas, we have these expectations…

It’s a holly, jolly Christmas…It’s the most wonderful time of the year…Off to Grandma’s house we go…

Happy, happy, joy, joy—WHY AREN’T YOU SMILING???

 

For many, here’s the reality:

It’s a debt-filled, disappointing Christmas…It’s the most frustrating time of the year…

And then there are those who are not just disappointed or frustrated, but are devastated. Those who have no trouble believing the world is under a curse, because they feel as though their lives are cursed.

But none of this is the reality of Christmas, what it was and what it is. Rather, this is a perceived “reality” when we’re focused through the filter of what WE think or feel—based on traditions and expectations and so many other things—Christmas is. So today, let’s take a look at what God tells us Christmas is. And why being in the deep isn’t terrible at Christmas, but a place to experience the true intent of Christmas.

 

So what was Christmas?

Romans 8:20-23

“Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as His adopted children, including the new bodies He has promised us.”

The world was dark and troubled…and troubling. It was messy. With no answers. And no hope. And no way we could ever measure up to God’s righteousness.

And then…the Savior.

Not the angelic, halo-wearing pure baby we see on Christmas cards. God’s Son was born as a human, in a gush of blood and mess and helplessness. Into a world where those in power were determined to kill Him before He was past the toddler stage. His family had to run for their—and His—lives. Fear and danger waited around every corner.

And yet…the Savior.

We don’t know all the things that happened when Jesus was a baby and child, a teenager growing up, but we know so much happened that Mary kept these things in her heart and pondered them. And we know that, even when Jesus was grown and able to protect Himself, He was still in danger. Threatened. Plotted against.

Crucified.

And yet…the Savior.

The end, wasn’t the end. That Christmas, this Christmas…the end isn’t the end. And facing hard times at Christmas is, actually, perfect. Because it’s what He did. And what He helps us do. Every day. Even at Christmas.

 

Where are you this Christmas?

Maybe this year you’re not outwardly in a deep struggle or trial. Praise God for that. Maybe you’re not running for your life, or struggling to make rent, or whatever. Maybe you’re in a good place right now. That’s wonderful.

But don’t miss the chance this season…

  • To soak deeply in God
  • To be overwhelmed by a Savior that came into a messy, hurting, cursed world to sweat blood in Gethsemane
  • To look on every blessing as a joy for this moment in time, purchased by God’s only Son

Let it change the way you worship Him this Christmas. Let it be a deeper worship. An awe-filled acknowledgement of His glory.

 

Or maybe all this is resonating with your own feeling of desperation. Maybe you’re in the deepest hurt of your life right now. The deepest loss. You’re broken. Lonely. Tired.

Some solutions:

  • Realize God is present in our struggle, whether it’s grief, disappointment, rejection, or failure (to the outside world, His ministry was a bust). Whatever your struggle, He’s experienced it. And He’s with you in the midst of it.
  • Realize emotional turmoil takes time. We may know all the facts, but that doesn’t change the feelings. Feelings are slow to come around, like a mammoth ship as opposed to speedboat. So take the pressure off yourself to “feel” fine or even better. Realize how you feel is, well, how you feel. It’s neither right nor wrong. It just is. And God’s okay with your feelings. In fact, He’s right there, in the midst of them
  • Realize God has something for you in this season. Nobody wants to suffer, but when we do, don’t let it be in vain, because it’s never meant to be in vain. All the groaning, the walking in the effects of that curse, bring us to a greater understanding of our true home, what we were truly meant to be, and what God in His unfathomable love and great power has saved us from.
  • Receive God’s comfort. How? Like David did in Psalm 42:

“My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”…My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember You…Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls; all Your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the Lord directs His love, at night His song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life…Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”

 

Hope is our comfort when it’s based in what’s real.

Don’t let yourself be deceived. The glitter, the lights, the movies, the music, it’s all a wonderful part of the season – the celebrating side. Sure, let those things delight you. But it’s easy to lose sight under all that of what’s real:

God coming into our messy world, into our desperate need.

Hope is our comfort when it’s based in what’s real:

The real Christmas

The real Savior

Hope is our comfort when it’s based in God.

We want to hear from you!

Are you in the deep this Christmas? What is your favorite way to celebrate the coming of our Savior?

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Can You Hear God’s “I Love You”?

karen-ball-erin-taylor-young-200-f6

34 – Can You Hear God’s “I Love You”?

Every day, in countless ways, God is saying to each of us, “I love you.” So why do so many people struggle with feeling His love? Why do we fall into doubt about the reality of God’s love for us? What if we can’t hear or feel it, no matter how hard we try? Come join us as we explore not just the reality of God’s love for us, but the need to understand how we receive and perceive love. Because more often than not, the problem isn’t listening, but learning and understanding God’s language of love.

Show Notes

Few occupations or vocations require the level of vulnerability and authenticity of writing. But the only way we can be vulnerable and authentic is if we’re secure in the knowledge that the One who gave us this task did so because of His love for us. Because He knows and loves us better than anyone else, and  because He seeks to speak through us, to use us to share truths that only we can share because of our individual relationships with Him.

The challenge comes when we start to doubt God’s love for us. When we start to wonder if God truly cherishes us. When we don’t “feel” His love as we think others do. Because without that grounding in the Father’s sure love for us, it’s so easy to lose our focus and voice, to lose our confidence not just in ourselves and our ability to write, but in the God about whom we write.

So, writers, here’s what we want to know today: Are you hearing God when He says, “I love you”?

How We Can Perceive and Receive God’s Love
  • Look at the evidence in God’s actions: That He sent Jesus to Give His life for us, that He takes care of us, that He gives us gifts.
  • Look at the evidence in God’s word: Jeremiah 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love…”
  • Look at the evidence in the way He loves us through others.
  1. Words of affirmation
  2. Receiving gifts
  3. Quality time
  4. Acts of service
  5. Physical touch
  • Choose to walk in trust even when you don’t “feel” it.
  • Look to your secondary love language as well. Most people have more than one.
Hosea 2:19-20

“I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me, in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.”

God has acted on His love for each of us. He has betrothed us to Him because of His unending love for us. And as we learn to hear and see the ways He shows us that love, as we grow better acquainted with His love languages and His expressions of that love, we come to know Him. When we do that, we can rest secure in His love, and that will shine in our writing so that those who read our work will come to know Him too. Because, ultimately, that’s what draws people. Not our skill with words, but the powerful, all-encompassing love of God.

Books mentioned in this podcast

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

5-love-languages-gary-chapman

We want to hear from you!

What’s your love language? Are you hearing God’s “I Love You”?

 

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Write from the Deep: A Man’s Perspective

Write from the Deep James L Rubart

33 – Write from the Deep: A Man’s Perspective

When men are in places of deep struggle, the women who love them want to help. But knowing how to do that isn’t easy. Award-winning author James L. Rubart joins us to share practical ways we can uplift and care for the men we know and love.

Show Notes

Top Quotes

About writing from the deep…

“If I write out of the shallow places, out of stress, worry, a deadline, then it’s not authentic, it’s not genuine, it’s not coming from that deep, deep place.”

 

About silence…

“God is the source. He is the living water…Can we sit with God in silence and just enjoy His presence in a way we couldn’t if we were talking?”

 

Our work as Christians…

“I was reading Oswald Chambers this morning and basically he was saying, ‘Here is the work of a Christian: be in Christ’s presence. Be intimate with Christ.’”

 

How to be aligned with Christ…

“It’s different for everybody. I would encourage listeners to find out how they do it. How do you go to the deep? Here’s one crazy example of me going deep, when I’m on my dirt bike, and I’m out pounding on the mountains, oh my gosh, there’s such depth in that, there’s such play in that, because now I’m out there playing with my Abba, my Father, in a way that expresses who I am…Or I close my eyes, put on my headphones, and listen to worship songs…another day it might be something else.”

 

On catastrophic trials…

“You have a choice at that point. Do you dive deeper into God? Do you say, ‘You have something for me in this. Or not?’ And I chose to say, ‘God, You’re doing something, You’re in this.’ And I hit a point where it was an unbelievable freedom, and that was that I don’t have to write novels anymore. I could stop right now. I could be done. Because for the first time in my life, my validation didn’t come from being this author, it came from being the son of Abba, and that has revolutionized my life.”

“I got to a point where I realized God loves me. Not in the head, but the heart. I have a Daddy who wants to do nothing more than just go play together. His love is so immense, so overwhelming, everything else dims in comparison…But it’s not a one time process. The world can creep back in.”

 

On addictions and idols…

“It’s anything you try to use to feed your soul other than Jesus…It’s a trap. It’s a chain.”

 

The challenge to men…

“Men want to go deep. They just don’t know how to do it. They’re scared to death to be vulnerable. Any guys listening out there, my prayer for you would be: risk it. Start going deep with men. You would be shocked at the response. Keep pressing into it.”

 

What women can do to help men in their lives…

“They don’t want you to fix it…Pray…And maybe just casually ask, ‘Hey, how’s that going?’ Or ask what the plan is, and how you can support them in the plan. Give a guy something to create. Something to do.”

 

Last word of advice…

“I want to talk about Romans 7…because here’s Paul and he’s dealing with these struggles and sins and stuff going on in his life, and he says this twice in the chapter: It is not me, it’s sin in me. Vast, vast difference. Ultimately he says who will free me from this struggle? Thanks be to the Lord Jesus Christ…If we could grasp that we have a heavenly Father who loves us so utterly, so completely…we are complete in Christ Jesus…The greater we align ourselves with our true self, which is Christ in us, oh my gosh, that stuff falls away…because we are living out of our true self…it’s not striving to do that, it’s immersing ourselves in Christ.”

 

Find Jim online at jameslrubart.com

Watch our newsletter for details on our newest book giveaway! A copy of Jim’s latest book The Long Journey to Jake Palmer!

james-rubart-the-long-journey-to-jake-palmer

What if there was a place where everything wrong in your life could be fixed?

 

We want to hear from you!

How do you play with your Abba Father in a way that expresses who you are?

 

Tweetable:

Is a man in your life struggling? Practical ways you can help.

 

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