Category Archives: Encouragement

Encouragement for your heart (focused to readers) written by Christian Authors Network members.

 

All of us have dreams of what we want to do with our lives. Sometimes those dreams get sidetracked by the reality of life. Sometimes they’re so long in coming that we tend to give up and think, “What’s the use?”

How do we make those dreams come true? Whether the dream is about a career choice, a place you want to visit, or something you would really like to do, the dream can come true.

Fulfillment depends on attitude and faith. By attitude, I mean surrounding ourselves with the resources or the tools and information we need to pursue the dream. Faith, of course, means trusting the Lord.

Dreams don’t come true overnight. Often life gets in the way and dreams go by the wayside. We make excuses for not following through and keep putting off doing something about it.

To follow your dream, stay focused on that dream and what the Lord wants you do. Don’t let age, insecurity, or doubt creep in and rob you of the desire God has placed in your heart. Grab it, hold on to it, and never stop dreaming. God has plans for you! Remember that those plans are not to harm you but to give you hope and a future (see Jeremiah 29:11). He won’t steer you wrong.

Four “P’s” to success: prayer, planning, patience, and perseverance. Without these, we will have a more difficult time seeing our dreams fulfilled. It’s time to stop making excuses and start looking at what we can do to help that dream along. When we bathe our plans in prayer and we have the patience to persevere in pursuit of those plans, they will succeed in God’s timing. Maybe they won’t be exactly what we expected, but the result will be the best—because it’s God’s plan for us.

Martha Rogers, a multi-published author, writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. She and her husband Rex live in Houston, Texas. They have three sons, eleven grandchildren, and four (soon to be five) great-grandchildren. Martha is a retired teacher with twenty-eight years experience teaching home economics and English at the secondary level and eight years at the college level, supervising student teachers and teaching freshman English. She is director of the Texas Christian Writers Conference held in Houston each August, a member of ACFW, ACFW WOTS chapter in Houston, and a member of the writers’ group, Inspirational Writers Alive. Find Martha at www.marthawrogers.com or www.hhhistory.com. Twitter: @martharogers2; Facebook: Martha Rogers Author.

 

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You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8 (NKJV)

Have you ever read an article, book, or story that really touched your heart? Did you ever think about what had to happen for that piece to get into your hands?

I attended a Christian writers’ conference about thirty years ago, and it opened my eyes to the many steps that have to take place for a piece of writing to get published and out to the public. Realizing how long it takes to get a manuscript written (and rewritten, revised, edited, proofread), accepted, and published was downright discouraging!

But I also learned that God knows, even before He plants the idea to write something in an author’s mind, who is going to need to read what He wants that author to write. And He knows precisely when those people are going to need it. Since God knows all that, and since His timing is perfect, writers can relax! We can trust that He called us at the right time, and He gave us everything we need to fulfill His plan.

How has God called you to be His witness—to make Him known? Whatever that is, He knows all the details that need to come together to make His plans happen. And He has called you at exactly the right time to accomplish His purposes through you.

Think again about that piece you read that touched your heart. What if the author had let rejection letters or the cost of a writers’ conference or some critical comments from an editor crush her spirit so that she turned her back on God’s calling? Then the moment when God touched your heart would never have happened.

Whatever way God has chosen for you to be His witness, you have His promise to receive power from the Holy Spirit to fulfill that task.

Kathy Ide is the author of Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors and the editor/compiler for the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series. She is a professional freelance editor, director of the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference and the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, and co-owner of the Christian Editor Network. You can read her blog on her website.

 

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The Canaanite woman knew what she wanted.

She was a woman on a mission.

Her name isn’t given. It doesn’t need to be. She is every mother.

“Lord, son of David, have mercy on me!” She cried out in agony.

Like you and me, she physically experienced her child’s misery. “My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” Or “My child is suffering terribly from a broken relationship, an illness, an injury.”

She would not be dissuaded. The disciples urged the Lord to send her away. The men whined, “She keeps crying after us.”

That motley crew of twelve was not going to get in her way. She knew who and what she needed. This mom persisted in her passionate brokenhearted cries.

But Jesus was quiet.

Isn’t that the hardest part? We cry, beg, and chase after him.  And we are met with silence.

Even when Jesus said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” she didn’t give up. Instead of withdrawing, she came closer kneeling before him determined not to leave his presence empty-handed.

“Lord, help me!”

“It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” He continued to test her faith.

“Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Tenaciously she pressed on.

“Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” The Lord healed her daughter that very hour.

Having faith when life is messy is difficult. I want to trust like that Canaanite mother; to persistently petition on my kids’ behalf, to persevere with hope, and to have confidence that I will be heard even if I need to wait.

Because like the Canaanite woman, I know my help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

Lori Wildenberg, mom of four and national speaker, is passionate about helping families build connections that last a lifetime. As a licensed parent-family educator she is professionally equipped to encourage and empower moms and dads to be the parents their children need. She’s author of Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home and Messy Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections. She’s co-author of three additional books. Lori co-founded the 1st Corinthians 13 Parenting Ministry, a resource site for parents and those who work with families. She’s the lead mentor mom at Moms Together Facebook Community and a freelance writer for Christian parenting magazines. www.loriwildenberg.com.
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…Who knows if perhaps you were made Queen for just such a time as this?

Esther 4:14 NLT

Esther realized God had placed her in a unique position as queen of a foreign nation. She had a choice to make—to risk her life to save the people of Israel or die trying.

During the American Revolution, Lydia Darragh found herself with a difficult decision to make as well. In September 1777, British troops under General William Howe had occupied her town and her residence. She and her family were allowed to remain in their home only because they were Quakers who were known to be pacifists.

Lydia was not only a Quaker but also a mother whose oldest son Charles had enlisted in the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment of the Continental Army. So, she began to eavesdrop on Howe’s staff meetings held in her parlor and discovered they were planning a surprise attack.

Lydia wrote the information in code and, under the pretense of filling her flour bag at the grist mill, made her way to the American camp to warn the Continental Army, thus saving the men from the surprise attack by British troops.

Faith Check

One day, perhaps you, too, might be in a pivotal position, one that God Himself has placed you in, and you may have a decision to make. “Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity” (John 12:25 NLT).

“In God’s hands, intended evil becomes eventual good” (Max Lucado).

Linda Kozar is an author of fiction and nonfiction books and podcaster on the Along Came A Writer network. Linda and her husband Michael live in The Woodlands, Texas and enjoy spending time with their two grown daughters, wonderful son-in-law, and their rascally Jack Russell Terrier, Gypsy.

 

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Two books (beside the Bible) have had enormous influence on my spiritual life.

One is an unlikely source, about a ministry to gang homies, that is laced with profanity—Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle. G (as he’s called) interacts with Scrappy, who begins to see the worthlessness of his life. Scrappy says, “I have spent the last twenty years building a reputation for myself . . . and now . . . I regret . . . that I even have one.”

Father G comments, “Scrappy discovered, as Scripture has it, ‘that where he is standing is holy ground.’ He found the narrow gate that leads to life. God’s voice was not of restriction, to ‘shape up or ship out.’ Scrappy found himself in the center of vastness and right in the expansive heart of God. The sacred place toward which God had nudged Scrappy all his life is not to be arrived at, but discovered. Scrappy did not knock on the door so God would notice him. No need for doors at all. Scrappy was already inside.”

The other book, As Kingfishers Catch Fire, is a collection of Eugene Peterson sermons. Speaking on Philippians 4:13, he says, “There are a great many things we can do little or nothing about. The weather, other people’s emotions, the economy—all are out of our hands. . . . But one enormous difference is in our hands: We can offer up the center of our lives to the great revealed action of God’s love for us. . . . We can cultivate the vitality and centering of life that develops out of risking our lives in a relationship with God. When we do that, we find Paul’s statement neither extravagant nor fanciful: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’”  (Peterson quotation edited)

Two totally different pastors, both saying the same thing.

Eleanor Gustafson is a minister’s wife, teacher, musician, writer, and encourager. Her passion is God, and then loving people and writing. Her short stories and articles have appeared in national and local magazines. Her pallet of experiences helps bring color and humor to her fiction. In many of her stories, Ellie explores the cosmic struggle between good and evil in light of God’s overarching work of redemption. Her books include Dynamo, a story about a man, his horse, his faith, and his God, and An Unpresentable Glory about a mysterious man, sick and begging for secrecy, and the woman who ignores all alarm bells to care for him. Ellie has three children and eight grandchildren. Visit her at http://www.eleanorgustafson.com

 

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