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Parting Words From The WORD…We ARE Somebodies

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. James 3:13 NIV

When I read this verse, it immediately took me back to a conversation at a Christian Communicators Conference where the topic was wisdom. Could be kind of a heady topic, wouldn’t you say? Especially for those who write, teach, and speak The Word.

Left to our own devices and convictions, it would be easy to think more highly of ourselves than we should. After all, people sometimes look up to us as writers and speakers, as if we were smarter or had something they couldn’t have.

As if we’re somebody.

Yes, I know that God gifts each of us differently and it’s up to us to use those gifts for His glory, but we have to remember that the gift of wisdom has nothing to do with us.

We are somebodies. We’re sinners, saved by grace based on nothing we’ve done or deserve.

So who is wise and understanding among us? If God has called us, gifted us, endowed us with the ability to write and speak about Him and teach His Word, it’s our responsibility to live a “good life” (God-honoring life) and continually offer good deeds done in the humility of our position: A sinner saved by grace.

That is the true evidence of any wisdom we may or may not have.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Cindy Patterson

Cindy Patterson headshotHappy 4th Tuesday! I’m excited to share my friend, Cindy Patterson, with you today.

Cindy and I met years ago when I spoke at her church and we’ve kept in touch through the years of writing and taking breaks and writing again. Yes, even though I have a love/hate relationship with technology, right now I’m thankful God allowed us to stay in touch through the demon/angel.

Cindy is not only the author of Broken Butterfly, but she actually wrote several novels through our MoGo7000 Monthly Challenge AND she was our very first winner of the $100 prize in the 2011 MoGo7000 Challenge! As you can see, Cindy is proof that MoGo7000 can help you finish your book. 🙂

Be sure to leave a comment for Cindy and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book. Now, let’s get started.

Welcome, Cindy. First of all, I’d love to know what inspired you to write your first book.

You know that point when you reach the end of a really good novel and the depressing feeling that settles over you with an ache making you want more? I had to have that “more,” so I created my own characters, my own story.

In this story, I wanted to give a glimpse of how God can use brokenness and make it whole. I also wanted to share a remarkable love story and to give hope.

We know that writing is one thing, but when did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’m so glad you asked me that question. It was you, Vonda, who first told me I was a writer. You were speaking at my church quite a few years ago and I couldn’t wait to meet you. At the time, I still didn’t feel like a writer, but I headed home with all the tips and resources you gave me and I began this whirlwind of a life and have loved every minute of it. And I know without a doubt, God appointed that brief meeting between you and me.

He sure did! Thank you for letting me know of my small part in your journey. And now, here you are, encouraging and influencing other writers! Speaking of other writers, we’re always interested in knowing who are pantsers and who are plotters. Do you have a specific writing style?

I’m a pantser. No organization whatsoever. I sit down and start pounding at the keys and the words flow like a scene from a movie. Of course, there’s a lot of editing, cutting, and sometimes rearranging to be done after the first draft and even the second, and third. Sometimes I want to try the more organized form of writing to see how that works for me. I may even do that with my next novel. I’m always up for a new challenge.

My three published novels were plotted and it worked well for me. But I’ve just started another novel and for the first time I’m having trouble figuring out the story line. I think I need some inspiration! Do you have something that inspires you while you write?

Music. Reading. The last light of the setting sun filtering through the woods behind my house. Jesus.

I love your title, Broken Butterfly. How is this story special to you?Broken Butterfly Cover (1)

The characters of Broken Butterfly came to me in a very weird dream. I have a lot of those, but this one in particular would not leave me alone until I started their story. It’s hard to pinpoint how this story is special to me without giving too much away, but I will say this, I could not do any of this without God’s help. And in this book in particular, He gave me the twist that brought Broken Butterfly full circle and I remember that moment as if it happened yesterday.

Wow, what a gift that was to you! I have weird dreams, too, but mine have never been insights for a new book! I love your cover, too. Who designed it?

The cover of this book had been in my head for years. I knew I wouldn’t find a pre-made cover that would fit exactly what I was looking for. I needed a young lady, fitting Mallory’s description, who also had a butterfly and dragonfly tattoo visible on her ankle. So, I chose my oldest son’s fiancé, Madison Robinson, to model for me. Her uncle, Mike Parrish, of Tar River Photography, took the picture. The tattoo holds great significance in the story. You’ll have to read to find out why. 😉

Is there a message in this novel that you want readers to grasp?

I want my readers to connect with my characters and to remember them long after they put the book down. The world needs more Faith, Hope, and Love. This is a clean romance that stirs the heart. The reader is at peace seeing Mallory triumph over her struggles and the reader is empowered to overcome his or her own challenges in life.

Also, domestic abuse is a living, breathing reality for many and I wanted to bring that to light, hoping someone feeling trapped would find the courage to escape, and to ultimately find hope in Jesus.

We’re running out of time, but I’d like to know what writing tip you would offer other writers.

Embrace meaningful relationships with other writers. Don’t compare your success to others. God has His specific plan for you in His own perfect time. Encourage each other and promote not only yourself but those around you. And finally, never stop learning.

Wise words, Cindy. Before we go, would you give us a peek into your current project?

I’m currently working with an editor on Chasing Paradise, the prequel to Broken Butterfly.

Thank you for joining us today and sharing your wisdom and insight into writing. And readers, remember to leave a comment for Cindy and you’ll be in the drawing for her book. Be sure to return next week to see if you’re the winner!

Thanks for Tweeting!

MoGo7000 $100 winner Cindy Patterson shares writing advice. Win a #free book! #amwriting #pubtips (Click to Tweet)

Cindy Patterson memeBio: Cindy Patterson lives in North Carolina with her wonderful husband and three amazing children. Her passions include Jesus, homeschooling, writing, and drama ministry. You’ll find her at any given time with her family on a baseball field watching her youngest son play, as her oldest son and husband coach from the sideline. You can also find her watching her daughter dance, tucked away reading, or cooking when she’s not writing. She’s a member of ACFW.

Here’s where you can find Cindy:

www.CindyPattersonBooks.com

www.CindyPattersonWrites.blogspot.com

https://Twitter.com/cpattersonbks

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/10450152.Cindy_Patterson

https://www.facebook.com/Cindy-Patterson-Inspirational-Romance-Author-299906700157616/

Direct Amazon link to Broken Butterfly

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Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opportunities, Contests & Conferences

newspapersWelcome to Writer’s Headlines, where we help you see your work in print! Let’s start with writing opportunities collected just for you!

Be sure to follow the guidelines carefully in order to increase your chance of publication. Then please let us know if you find success with one of these opportunities. We want to celebrate with you!

1.  Sidelines Magazine: For Horse People, About Horse People: Vonda here: I’m at the Novelist Retreat at Ridgecrest this week and have had the joy of meeting Jan Westmark, Editor-in-Chief of Sidelines Magazine. I’m thrilled that she agreed to let me share her writing guidelines with you. I know we have some horse people out there. Please follow the guidelines carefully!Here are her instructions:

My magazine is geared toward the English riding market – the high end rider. We are not a how-to magazine, but a feature magazine – so all of our stories are profiles on riders, horses and horse rescue organizations. We cover hunters, jumpers, dressage, eventing, polo and foxhunting. It is a very specialized market – but if you have writers that would like to write for me, they can email me. I can even assign stories!!

Sidelines is a print publication, but also available free digitally, just look at the info below my name for how to find it at the app store. They can also visit our website, www.sidelinesnews.com, and look under subscriptions for the tab that says flipbook and look through all of our issues for free.
2.  Jeanne Doyon is looking for guest bloggers! Jeanne is starting a series of blog posts to speak to how we need to treasure the quiet moments in the midst of the chaos and crazy days of December. This is a great opportunity for you to:

  • Write 400-500 words
  • Be a guest blogger with links to your website
  • Speak peace into lives during this busy time of year

For more information and to pitch your idea, email Jeanne at jeanne.doyon@gmail.com

3.  Warner Press submission guidelines here. Church of God Ministries is looking for writers for devotionals, children’s activity books, greeting cards, ministry resource books, and teaching resource books.

4.  Family Tree Magazine writer’s guidelines.

5.  Are you funny? Funny Times Cartoon & Humor Newspaper submission guidelines.

6.  Working Mother Magazine guidelines

7.  Boys’ Life Magazine

8.  Oklahoma Today Magazine

9.  Shotgun Sports Writers Guide

10. Eldridge Plays and Musicals. Writing guidelines here.

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Check out these writing contests. You could win!

1.  Stage of Life Writing Contests: Multiple contests for every stage of life. Deadlines October 30, 2015.

2.  Fresh Voices Writing Contest is now open for submissions.

3.  Writer’s Digest Short Short Story ContestDeadline November 16, 2015

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And don’t forget–If you’re serious about writing, you’ll be serious about attending conferences!

1.  Heart of America Christian Writers Network Conference: October 22-24, 2015, Greater Kansas City Area, KS

2.  WordGirls: October 22-24, 2015, Owensboro, KY

3.  Maranatha Christian Writers’ Conference: October 22-25, 2015, Norton Shores, MI

4.  East Texas Christian Writers Conference: October 30-31, 2015, Marshall, TX

5.  Next Step Writers Contreat (Yes, the spelling is correct. :-): November 12-14, 2015, Albuquerque, NM (Scholarships available, but today is the last day to apply, so hurry!)

6. Weekend with the Writers: January 29-30, 2016, Greenville, SC

WritersBootcamp2016 logo7. Writers Advance Boot Camp: February 19-21, 2016, Asheville, NC Scholarship deadline October 31, 2015 (I’ll see you there!)

8.  Florida Christian Writers Conference: February 24-28, 2016, Leesburg, FL

9. Carolina Christian Writers Conference: March 11-12, 2016, Spartanburg, SC. Details coming soon!

10. Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference: March 18-22, 2016, Mount Hermon, CA

11. Mid-South Christian Writers Conference: March 19, 2016, Colliersville, TN

12. Write2Ignite for Writers of Children’s Literature: April 1-2, 2016, Tigerville, SCbrmcwc 2016

13. Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference: May 22-26, 2016, Ridgecrest, NC (I’ll see you there! Watch for details coming soon!)

14.  New England Christian Writers Retreat: June 17-19, 2016, Hamilton, MA

15.  St. David’s Christian Writers Conference: June 22-26, 2016, Grove City, PA

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Well, that does it for another 3rd Tuesday and Writer’s Headlines. Can’t wait to see what successes come from your commitment to do what it takes to be a writer!

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Opportunities Born in Crisis

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Let’s face it, bad things happen to you. Bad things happen to me. At our deepest level, most of us know those two truths are exactly that–true. But what we often don’t know is Why?

My pastor, Larry Scott, recently delivered another powerful sermon that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. He said, “Most of the major opportunities in the Bible were born in crises. Sometimes God lets the sun go down so He can be our only Light.”

Wow.

Then he went on to say, “Having a big, bold faith doesn’t guarantee that God will work things out the way we want. Our faith doesn’t control God.”

Double wow.

I remember a time, years ago, when reality hit that I couldn’t manipulate God. I could hide my motives, my thoughts, and my secret hopes from my family and friends. I looked as if I was trusting God on the outside. My conversation could even sound godly as I walked in the perception of faith. But reality is, I could never hide my motives, thoughts, and secret hopes from God. He cannot be manipulated. He will always know my heart. Was I truly trusting Him or not?

The struggle you’re going through right now . . . the one I’m going through . . .Could they possibly be opportunities born in crisis to take us to the end of our sunlight, simply so He could shine His Light in our lives?

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Could our crises be opportunities to develop and stand on an authentic, big, bold faith that says, “Not my will, but yours be done”?

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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5 Reasons to Take Your Time with Self-Publishing, Kudos & MoGo7000 Qualifiers

books pixabayLet’s start with 5 Reasons to Take Your Time with Self-Publishing

If you’ve been writing a while, you’ve probably been there . . . at the crossroads of excitement and frustration. You know your concept is salable. Your story is good. Your topic is timely. But you just received another rejection letter. What’s wrong with these people? Why can’t they see the value of your project? Don’t they know this book needs to be out NOW?

Self-publishing is looking better by the day.

I’m the first to tell you there are lots of great reasons to self-publish, and I’ve talked about the subject several times here at the Christian Writer’s Den. If you’d like to take a look, check out these links to Three Points to Consider if You’re Considering Self-Publishing, How to Tell Your Amazing Life Story, and Do I Really Need an Agent?

But I’m also the first to admit that there are some particularly good reasons NOT to jump into self-publishing. Time is one of them.

In this on-demand world of instant gratification, self-publication can be seen as a quick way to get your book out and in the hands of excited readers. That could be the case; however, successful self-publishing usually takes time. Before you self-publish, you need to consider these five truths about writing.

  1. Good writing takes time. It’s sad to think back on the many writers I know who sat down, wrote a book, and self-published it because they had to get it out now. Years later, many of them wish they had taken the time to do the real work of a good writer. I’ve admitted in several posts that I wrote my first children’s novel in a matter of 2-3 months, edited it as I went along, and immediately sent it out to editors and agents. After all, I knew I was a good writer, and it wasn’t only my mother who confirmed it. My high school teachers and college professors did, too. But I was wrong. After years of rejection, I finally learned that for most professional writers, good writing takes multiple rewrites, critiques by other writers, and some time between writing and publishing.
  2. Good editing takes time. Proper editing involves much more than proofreading and requires more skill than a read-through. Quality editing is a volleying experience between you and your editor. After you do your own writing and rewriting, you submit the project to the editor for his input, and he bounces the project back to you. You then do more corrections, sometimes large chunks of rewrites, and send the project back to the editor for more input and conversations regarding differing opinions. This could happen multiple times over multiple days and weeks, perhaps even months. A good editor is worth paying for.
  3. Good covers take time. If we’re honest, it’s often easy to pick out a self-published book by simply looking at the cover. Like the editing process, a good cover requires a back-and-forth effort with a graphic artist or cover designer. Several options should be offered, with input and feedback from both the author and the designer. Remember, the first think a potential buyer will see is the cover. To give your book the best chance at success, take the time required to have an eye-catching, quality cover.
  4. Good marketing strategy takes time. Don’t wait until you have your book to plan your marketing strategy. My bestselling author friends, Edie Melson and DiAnn Mills, have developed an excellent class on this very topic. “An Author Roadmap to Find Your Superhighway for Marketing and Branding” will be coming to writers conferences around the country beginning this month, and you don’t want to miss it. These successful authors will teach a timeline of when to do what, and believe me, it starts long before your book is out.
  5. Good publishing takes time. It’s not unusual for traditional publishing to take 1-2 years from contract to release while self-publishing can allow you to get your book written and published within weeks. But as you can see from this list, speed is not the best indicator of success. Some may argue that traditionally published books have come out quickly and been very successful, such as those related to current events and headline news. But remember, those publishers have a full staff of experts working around the clock to create that successful, quickly published book. Most of us don’t have such staff at our disposal.

Although self-published books can release on a shorter timeline than traditionally published ones, most successful books are the results of good writing, good editing, good covers, good marketing strategy, and a good investment of time.

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Kudos to YOU!celebration - Morguefile

These Christian Writer’s Den friends have been working hard and congratulations are in order!

1.  Andrea Merrell (SC): I had a two-page article about prodigals in the September issue of
Reach Out Columbia magazine.

2.  Dee Dee Parker (NC): Dee Dee won the first place award in the Southern Living Magazine’s Short Fiction Contest and is featured in the October issue!

3.  Susan Baganz (WI): Susan has finished another contracted book in a series!

Congratulations, writers! I’m proud of you. 🙂

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mogoWho MoGo’d in September?

We only had one MoGo-er for September, but she blew it out of the water!

#12: Susan Baganz – 27,871 words

Congrats, Susan!

Writers, you have three more months in 2015 to earn entries into the drawing for $100. MoGo7000 Challenge guidelines are here. It’s free!

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That does it for today. Writers, don’t forget to help another writer today. 🙂

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Will We Be Sharers?

sad woman fdp Frame AngelI can’t believe it, but fall is here and like it or not, that means it’s only weeks until we’ll be officially in the holiday season. It’s supposed to be a time of joy and love and family togetherness. But it can be a difficult time for many. Heartache, loneliness, stress, and family and financial hardships can bring grief and guilt rather than love and gifts.

As lovers of Christ who know the hope and grace of Jesus, we have a responsibility to seek out those who may be struggling over the next few weeks and months. God has raised us up as sharers of His Word, and whether we’re doing it from a stage, a written page, or a living room sofa, we must be faithful to do what He’s called us to do.

So, would you join me in asking the Father to open our eyes to those around us who are hurting? And then, let’s ask Him to put His words in our mouths so that we will be able to reach their hearts with the hope and peace that only He can give. The peace that truly does pass all understanding.

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:11

We have what the world needs, and He has called us to share it.

Let’s go forth in the confidence and power of His Great Name!

Grace and peace,

Vonda

(Photo courtesy of FrameAngel/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

 

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10 Ingredients for a Demo Reel, MoGo7000 and Kudos Call-Outs, & Who Won Yvonne Ortega’s Book?

Play button PixabayIt’s the 1st Tuesday, so let’s start with 10 Ingredients for a Demo Reel…

I’ve come to learn–and I’m sure you have, too–that this speaking and writing stuff consists of so much more than speaking and writing. When I first felt called to such a ministry, I dreamed of sitting at my desk, writing life-changing books, messages, and devotions, and then sharing those written words from the stage. I never envisioned the hours and energy I would spend getting those words out to those who needed to hear.

I never envisioned marketing.

But the truth of the matter is this: Without marketing, how will they hear my Good News message over the noise of the world? How will I share His light in the darkness?

There are many elements we can use to get the word out. We know that websites, blogs, and one-sheets are great ways to show the insights and lessons we’ve learned and would like to share with the world. But another medium that catches their attention is the demo reel.

The demo reel is different from a 3-5 minute sample of your speaking. Instead of delivering a full (although short) message, the reel presents a 2-3 minute multi-media collage of you and your ministry, highlighting your gifts and demonstrating your ability to help them encourage and support their own ministries.

Think you don’t have enough multi-media types to fill a demo reel? Think again. Here are 10 suggested ingredients to get you started:

  1. Video excerpts – Remember that 3-5 video message we talked about? Find 10-30 second soundbites that will pique their interest and draw them in. Multiple locations with several different types of messages will show your diversity.
  2. Audio sound bites of you speaking – Don’t have video? No problem! Record your next session and then find a nugget or two to share.
  3. Headshots – Of course, you’ll want to have your best headshots added to the reel, but don’t limit yourself to them.
  4. Photos of you – Take a friend along to take pics, ask for the event planner to arrange a photographer, or have great photos edited out from available video. The key is to grab great shots of you in action in a variety of settings.
  5. Other photos – Think beyond pictures of you. Consider photos of your book covers, signage from places you’ve spoken, flyers, and bookmarks. They add interest and depth to your reel.
  6. Excerpts from radio and TV interviews – Ask for copies of your TV and radio interviews and clarify your rights to use them. And be honest! The licensing of one of the best TV interviews I ever had restricted my rights to still photos. No audio at all. And of course, I had some great soundbites in that interview!
  7. Video testimonials
  8. Audio testimonials
  9. Graphics
  10. Outside voice overs. Some of my demos open and close with voiceovers. They’re voices from professional voiceover artists, similar to radio announcers. They might announce your website, contact info, or upcoming book.

Here’s my last demo reel. Please note that it’s a few years old now and a little longer than I would include today. I’d definitely limit the testimonials if I had it to do over again. Vonda Skelton Speaks to Women.

So what are you waiting for? Go through your radio archives, study your photos, and find a variety of ingredients to generate interest in your ministry. It can be fun, entertaining, and a great way to generate interest in your ministry. Then go out and shine your light!

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It’s Time to Share Kudos of YOUR Successes!

Hey there, writing friends. We want to know what you’ve been up to. Have you had something exciting happen recently in your writing or speaking life? Maybe you’ve had an article published, signed a book contract, released a new book, got an agent, or started a new blog. If so, we want to hear from you!

It’s really simple, but I do ask that you contact me with the info in this format and order ONLY:

**Your name
**Your state in two-letter abbreviation
**Link to your website or blog
**Your good news
**Link to your good news, if online (online bookstore, online article, etc)

I can’t wait for us to celebrate with you!

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mogoWho MoGo’d in September?

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in September, you can receive an entry in the drawing for the 2015 MoGo7000 $100 cash prize! It’s open to everyone who qualifies.

To report your September results, please leave a comment below with your total new words written on a book project in September. (Please do not send your totals by email or through the Contact page. Totals must be left as a comment here by next Sunday). 

If you missed out on last year’s money-winning writing challenge, don’t worry, the 2015 challenge continues! Here are the MoGo7000 Challenge rules. All you have to do is write at least 7000 NEW words on a book project in any month and you’ll receive an entry into the end-of-the-year drawing for $100.

Each month that you qualify with 7000 new words, your name goes in the “hat” for the drawing. Reach the goal one month and you’ll have one entry. Just starting out? Don’t worry! Meet it the next 3 months and you’ll have 3 entries!

So what are you waiting for? Get started now and you could have and extra $100 next year. And it doesn’t cost you a cent. :-)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Yvonne Ortega book cover 2

Who won Yvonne Ortega’s book?

And the winner is…

Gwyn Hubbert!

Congratulations, Gwyn! Simply contact me with your snail mail address and Yvonne will get your book right out to you!

And friends, I know you’re gonna want Yvonne’s book, so here’s a direct Amazon link to Moving From Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward.

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Well, that does it for today! Can’t wait to hear what you have been up to!

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Weep with Those Who Weep

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

In our desire to serve and minister to others, it’s easy to simply say, “Trust God and it’ll all work out” or “Everything will be fine” or “Praise Him even when you’re struggling.” I’ve said those very things myself to people in my effort to encourage them. And yes, I believe they are absolutely true statements.

But according to Proverbs 25:20, perhaps we need to be more sensitive to those who are heartbroken, struggling, suffering great loss, or feeling abandoned or betrayed by God:

“Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart is like taking someone’s coat in cold weather or pouring vinegar in a wound.” Proverbs 25:20

Wow! When I read this verse, I wasn’t exactly sure how to process it in my own heart and mind. After all, we’re told that God inhabits the praises of His people. And James tells us to take joy in our suffering.

But then I remembered the time Jesus delayed coming when Lazarus was sick and dying. By the time He arrived Lazarus was dead. When Martha greeted Jesus, He didn’t say, “Take joy in your suffering” or “Praise God in the midst of your pain.” He told her that Lazarus would live again and proceeded to proclaim His own resurrection and that of His followers.

Then when He saw Mary crying, John says Jesus was deeply moved and troubled. Again, He didn’t say “Don’t worry, it’ll all work out in the end.” Instead, He cried and asked her where Lazarus was buried.

Our Savior knew the outcome would be better than they could have ever imagined, and yet, He was troubled and cried with Mary in her suffering.

Oh, that we would be deeply moved and troubled when others admit their pain to us! Let us seriously consider the responsibility associated with our calling. Let’s pray that our words bring comfort and peace, not the pain of vinegar in a wound.

Grace and peace,

Vonda

(Photo courtesy of ChristianPhotos.net)

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