Category Archives: Parting Words from The WORD

Parting Words From The WORD…The Words of Jesus: Live Brave, Love Big

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

For many of us, this is a difficult season. In relationships, in the culture, in our families, in our churches, our schools, and throughout the world, we’re experiencing conflict, hardships, frustration, shock, despair, and heartbreak.

We’re told we should think this way or act that way or feel some other way. But regardless of what we think, act, or feel, one thing remains constant: The Truth is always true.

As I searched for Scripture to comfort and strengthen me, I realized many of Jesus’ words, spoken to His disciples as He sent them out in Matthew 10, are fitting words for us as His disciples today.

(NOTE: Studies have shown that Christians are notorious for not reading long passages of Scripture printed in text. Once we start reading, we recognize the passage and think we already know it. PLEASE read this passage slowly, take it in, and then apply the verses to your life and our world today. I pray it will bring you the comfort, strength, and insight it gave me.)

Do you see yourself in these words from Jesus?

“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

“A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, the Son of Man will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel.

“Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master. Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names!

“But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!

“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.

“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.

‘I have come to set a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 
Your enemies will be right in your own household!’

“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 10:16-28 and 32-39

How does that sound when compared to the events of our world, relationships, and family today? It certainly reminds me that regardless of how things look, God is still in control.

I think His words for us today would be: “Live brave. Love big. I told you it would be this way.”

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Love Your Enemies

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“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…” Luke 6:27-28 (NIV)

(SC State Flag honoring the nine worshipers lost at Emanuel AME Church, created by Gil Shuler Graphic Design, Mount Pleasant, SC. Used by permission.)

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Parting Words From The WORD…Your “Write” Role, Part 4

Jim Watkins headshotVonda here: I can’t believe it, but here we are already, at Part 4 of author, speaker, and threat to society, James Watkins‘ keynote at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Of course, you don’t want to read the last of the series without reading the first of it, so here are direct links to Parts 1-3: “Your ‘Write’ Role,” Part 1, “Your ‘Write’ Role,” Part 2, and “Your ‘Write’ Role,” Part 3. This four-part Parting Words Fridays is unlike anything you’ve ever seen here, or probably anywhere else for that matter!

So pull up a chair, put on your creative-thinking-and-real-life-application-hat, and hear Jim’s heart for Christian writers and speakers, Part 4, taken from 1 Corinthians 12, as paraphrased by the New Living Amplified Paraphrased King James Watkins Version for Writers.

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Your “Write” Role, Part 4

By James Watkins

 

4. You have an incarnational role in Christian writing

I’ll give you a second to let that truth sink in until I see whiffs of smoke coming out your ears.

I’m not diminishing the role of preachers, but writers have exponentially more influence and longevity! The average church in America runs less than 100 people. As a magazine writer, you can reach a thousand times that number with just one article.

And, unless the sermon is recorded and posted online, it stops reaching new people after the last amen! But as a writer, your work can last for years in waiting rooms and bathroom magazine racks. Thomas a’ Kempis’ Imitation of Christ is still in print over 500 years since he wrote it and continues to be a best-seller, second only to the Bible!Jim Watkins cartoon headshot

And even if your book goes “out of print,” it doesn’t go out of existence. It lives on until Jesus comes in homes, in church libraries, in garage sales!

I recently received this email:

I cannot tell you, how much reading the three chapters that i did just before writing meant for me. I am so thrilled with the way the Lord has gifted you not only in your writing; but primarily your love for Jesus and the deep Spirit filled way you have written this book.

It was from India . . . concerning a book that had long gone out of print . . . on a day I was feeling especially un-important!

God uses our words to communicate his Word!

Without the written word, Christianity would have never made it past the first century. The writing of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John preserved the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The writings of the church fathers, such as Augustine, gave us a systematized theology and kept heresy at bay.

Communicate to Change LIves Jim Watkins coverAnd as the relationship with the living Christ slowly devolved into a religion of works, legalism, profiteering and politics, Catholic writers like Thomas a’ Kempis reminded us of the pure, intimate relationship with Jesus in his The Imitation of Christ. Martin Luther’s 96-Point Thesis reminded us that salvation is by faith and faith alone.

And today, holy men and women are using pens and pixels to write the love of God on the hearts of followers and seekers as well. So, you and I are a part of the parade of published writers who have kept the Word alive for over 2,000 years. I’ll probably be in the tiny clown car.

For me, writing is an act of worship.

It’s acknowledging the important, indispensable role in writing that God has entrusted to me.

It’s fellowshipping with other writers, agents, editors, and publishers as an interdependent part of this eternal work.

It’s rejoicing in my individuality that God has personally, uniquely, lovingly crafted me into a writing instrument for his glory.

And it’s shaking with holy joy and fear that I am an incarnation of the Word of God!

Copyright © 2015 James N. Watkins

Vonda here: Wow, Jim. Wow. Thank you for your powerful, encouraging reminder that we truly are “…His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 (NASB)

Jim, thank you for sharing His heart through the lens of His hope and your humor. We love and appreciate you! And friends, if you appreciate Jim message, I hope you’ll visit his site and support his work as he walks the journey God created him to do!

Bio: Jim wears more hats than his Aunt Luella!Jim Watkins real headshot
*Associate acquisitions editor for Wesleyan Publishing House
*Conference speaker throughout the U.S. and overseas
*Director of programming for St. Davids Writers’ Conference
*Editorial advisor for ACW Press

You can reach Jim through his site at www.HopeAndHumor.org or www.JamesWatkins.com.

Thank you for Tweeting…Sharing is sweet!

Don’t miss @JamesWatkinsCom final fun–but real–writers’ take on 1 Cor 12 -Part 4 via @VondaSkelton #amwriting (Click to Tweet)

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Your “Write” Role, Part 3

Jim Watkins headshotVonda here: Yes, it’s time for Part 3 of author, speaker, and threat to society, James Watkins‘ keynote at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. But before you read today’s post, you’ll want to check out “Your ‘Write’ Role,” Part 1 and “Your ‘Write’ Role,” Part 2 first. This four-part Parting Words Fridays will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen here, or probably anywhere else for that matter!

So pull up a chair, put on your creative-thinking-and-real-life-application-hat, and hear Jim’s heart for Christian writers and speakers, Part 3, taken from 1 Corinthians 12, as paraphrased by the New Living Amplified Paraphrased King James Watkins Version for Writers.

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Your “Write” Role, Part 3
By James Watkins

 

3. You have an individual role in Christian writing

Paul writes, “Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church.” It’s not a exhaustive list. There are other lists in Romans 12 and Ephesians 4. But here’s the point: everyone is an individual in the body.

The late, great author Calvin Miller wrote of me: “Jim Watkins is one in a million. Two in a million would be overkill.” I think that was a compliment. Right?

We all have a choice. I can try to be a second-rate Max Lucado, or I can be a first-class Jim Watkins. You can be a imitation Debbie Macomber, or you can be an original you!

Now, I tend to write and speak in a way that makes people squirm in their comfortable padded pews. I’m a firm believer that writers and speakers are here to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. (Vonda here: This is a great quote–you should write it down!) I don’t let people sit too comfortably, so in the Body of Christ . . . I’m a hemorrhoid!

And I’m determined to be the world’s best pain in the behind!

God doesn’t need another Billy Graham or Karen Kingsbury or whoever you wish you were. He needs you to be you. And as scary as it sounds, he needs me to be me.

In the words of the great theologian Theodore Giesel, better known as “Dr. Seuss”:Jim Watkins cartoon headshot

Today you are You, that is truer than true.
There is no one alive who is You-er than You!

And the closer you get to God, the closer you get to being who He designed you to be.

Okay, how to do we determine our role in the Body? Here’s my P-A-T answer:

Passion: Can you not not write? Do you live and breathe to write? Would you write even if you weren’t paid? I’m guessing that because you took vacation time and maxed out your credit card to be here, you can check YES. Writing is your passion!

Affirmation: Has someone—other than your mother, best friend or spouse—affirmed your writing? Have you been published in a paying market?

Be careful on this one, because even though I started writing for the high school paper and won an award in the national honor society; and even though I’ve now written and contributed to over 35 books over the past 30 years; and even though I’ve won three professional writing awards and four industry editing awards . . . I got a C in Freshman Composition in college. A C!

And so I stopped writing for publication from 1972 to 1982! Ten years wasted because some professor decided I was a grade C writer. I’d like to take my solid walnut and brass Campus Life “Book of the Year” award and smack him up up side of the head. But I’m not bitter!

So, be careful! Those who can write, write. Those who can’t write, edit. And often, those who can’t write or edit, teach!

But if you’re receiving good professional critiques, if you’re being published, then you can check YES. You’re receiving affirmation!

Talent: Does writing seem to be much easier for you than your friends? Were you that one weird kid in high school who loved term papers? And do you have those divine moments when you look at what you’ve written and think Wow! That had to be God!

When your passions, affirmations, and talents all converge, that’s probably where you’ll live out the purpose for which you were created.

Communicate to Change LIves Jim Watkins coverI wrote to a writer friend in February 2015:

While I am not seeing the success I hoped for in writing and speaking, I am beginning to realize what an impact I am making in the lives of people in print and online, at conferences, at church and especially in the lives of my daughter and her daughters. I’m realizing it has been a “Wonderful Life” and that I am a success with so many friends in the church and writing community. And I’m looking forward to what God has planned in the future. And if it doesn’t involve a best-selling book or stadium speech, I think I’m okay with that.

You were born an original, don’t die a copy! God created you to be you—and no one else.

Like any good novel, this talk has a surprise ending that you didn’t see coming.

The original text of the Bible is not broken up in chapters and verses. Just one solid block of text. So, if you’re ever on Jeopardy and the final answer is, “It’s the first English Bible to be divided into chapters and verses,” you would write—in the form of a question, of course—“What is the Geneva Bible published in 1560?”

So, Paul doesn’t take a breath between 1 Corinthians 12 and 13:

So, earnestly desire the most helpful of all the writing gifts. But now let me show you a way of writing that is best of all.

If I write with the pen of the psalmist and win national book awards, and donate all my royalties to the poor, but have not love, I only a clattering printer or a pounding four-color offset press with burned out bearings.

Where there are magazines, they shall cease publication. Where there are speaking venues, they shall pass away. Where there are Web sites, they shall crash. But love never fails.

Here’s what blows my little mind . . . straight out my ears . . .

John writes in chapter 4 of his first letter:

No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us (1 John 4:7-12).

John also writes in his gospel, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The “author and finisher of our faith” has now given you and me the responsibility to take that “Word” and put it into our own words, to be authors of the faith.

You are important. You are interdependent. You are an individual. But most of all . . . wait for it . . .Jim Watkins real headshot

Vonda again: Be sure to return next Friday for Part 4 of James Watkins’ Your Write Role. You’ll be glad you did…and so will the rest of your Body. :-)

Copyright © 2015 James N. Watkins

Bio: Jim wears more hats than his Aunt Luella!
*Associate acquisitions editor for Wesleyan Publishing House
*Conference speaker throughout the U.S. and overseas
*Director of programming for St. Davids Writers’ Conference
*Editorial advisor for ACW Press

You can reach Jim through his site at www.HopeAndHumor.org or www.JamesWatkins.com.

Thank you for Tweeting…Sharing is sweet!

Another hilarious–but real–writers’ take on 1 Cor 12 – Part 3 by @JamesWatkinsCom via @VondaSkelton #amwriting (Click to Tweet)

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Your “Write” Role, Part 2

Jim Watkins headshotVonda here: After seeing your incredible response to Part 1 of author, speaker, and threat to society, James Watkins‘ keynote at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, I’m even more excited to share Part 2 today! Before you read today’s post, you may want to check out “Your ‘Write’ Role,” Part 1 first. This four-part Parting Words Fridays will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen here, or probably anywhere else for that matter!

So pull up a chair, put on your creative-thinking-and-real-life-application-hat, and hear Jim’s heart for Christian writers and speakers, Part 2, taken from 1 Corinthians 12, as paraphrased by the New Living Amplified Paraphrased King James Watkins Version for Writers.

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Your “Write” Role, Part 2
By James Watkins

 

2. You have an interdependent role in Christian writing

When I was directing another Christian writers conference on the east coast, one of the faculty came and sat down beside me.

“I’m working on my novellas about women of the Bible. I was wondering if I could bounce some ideas off you?”

“Uh, excuse me?”

“I respect you and would like your opinion.”

“Uh, well, I guess . . .”

That woman was our keynote speaker, Francine Rivers! Francine Redeeming Love Rivers!

I met her just recently at Mount Hermon where she was there as a conferee! “I can always learn something new.” And she asked me to pray for the work of turning that book into a major, A-list film!

That’s the beauty when Christian publishing works as the Body of Christ.

The King James Version translates 1 Corinthians 3:16-17:

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

That verse has been used as a Louisville slugger against anything the person swinging it believes harms the body. But the King James translators failed to take into consideration that Greek has two separate words for “you”: you singular and you plural. If you’re from the south, you already know that. You is singular. “Y’all” is plural.

The New Living Translation acknowledges that Paul is using “y’all.”

Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple (1 Corinthians 12:25-27).

That verse is not talking about the human body at all! Y’all’s the Temple or Body of Christ.

So Paul is not telling us to take care of our own bodies because they’re the Temple of the Holy Spirit. We Jim Watkins cartoon headshotshould take care of our bodies, but that’s not the point he’s making here. You’re important all right, but you’re interdependent! Y’all’s a part of the Body of Christ, and y’all need to take care of each other!

Gone are the days of Emily Dickinson when you could be a recluse, never leave the house and still be a best-selling author.

Publishing is a relationship between you and your readers. That’s why building your “tribe” with social networking is so important.

It’s a relationship between you and your agent in planning your writing career and choosing the projects that best fit your “brand.”

And it’s a relationship between you and your publisher. Editors are not cold and heartless people—those would be the marketing minions. No! Even marketers are a part of this writing body.

We all need to work like a body. But the absolute worse place to watch that play out is in church. For instance, here’s how a body would act if it acted like some churches.

You’re putting up paneling with those microscopic finishing nails and you hit your thumb. You roll your eyes, shake your head in disgust and scold, “You did it again! How many sermons have you heard about ‘fleeing even the appearance of hammers’? Or that ‘the love of hammers is the root of all evil’? And you were nearly through the twelfth step of H.A. And now, you’ve gone and got yourself hammered! I’m sorry, but you brought it on yourself and I’m tired of your excuses.

Is that how your body works? Here’s how mine works:

You scream: words of loving compassion

You stick your thumb in your mouth: Warm, protective comfort

And you dance! The whole body involved in ministering to the suffering part.

Communicate to Change LIves Jim Watkins coverSo, here’s another passage from the New Living Amplified Paraphrased King James Watkins Version for Writers:

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by passive verbs, you who are members of the writers’ group should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path of action verbs. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself using adverbs to prop up weak verbs. Gently critique and enthusiastically encourage one another, as we follow The Word and the Author of Our Faith (Galatians 6:1-2).

And why do you do that? Because he or she is a part of the same body you are a part of! So treat that “thumb” like your thumb—because it is! We are interdependent, so when one suffers, we all suffer.

In the same way, when one is honored, we’re all honored.

Secular celebrities do a much better job of sharing the honor than most Christians. On the red carpet, they proudly announce who designed their gown. And when they win an award they thank their agents, managers, spouses, and the Academy, and on and on . . . until the music ushers them off stage.

So when Jerry Jenkins sells another million books, I’m honored too, as his friend and spiritual brother. And when my friend gets her 36th rejection for her series Jesus Calling from the Purpose-Driven Shack, I hurt with her.

Well, before we get too depressed thinking about rejection, let’s keep moving . . .

Now in the ministry of writing, God has appointed novelists, letter writers, those who have the gift of poetry, local church reporters, best-selling authors, devotional writers, those who write their legislators, and those with the gift of writing advertising copy.

Are all novelists? Do all write letters to the editor? Do all have the gift of poetry? Are all local church reporters? Are all best-selling authors? Are all devotional writers? Do all write their legislators? Do all have the gift of writing advertising copy? No! But eagerly desire the greater gift of writing with love.

You have an important role in Christian writing.

You have an interdependent role in Christian writing and . . .

Vonda again: Thank you, Jim! Friends, be sure to return next Friday for Part 3 of James Watkins’ Your Write Role. You’ll be glad you did…and so will the rest of your Body. :-)

Copyright © 2015 James N. WatkinsJim Watkins real headshot

Bio: Jim wears more hats than his Aunt Luella!
*Associate acquisitions editor for Wesleyan Publishing House
*Conference speaker throughout the U.S. and overseas
*Director of programming for St. Davids Writers’ Conference
*Editorial advisor for ACW Press

You can reach Jim through his site at www.HopeAndHumor.org or www.JamesWatkins.com.

Thank you for Tweeting…Sharing is sweet!

Another hilarious–but real–writers’ take on 1 Cor 12 – Part 2 by @JamesWatkinsCom via @VondaSkelton #amwriting (Click to Tweet)

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

Vonda

Read entire post »

 

Parting Words From The WORD…Your “Write” Role, Part 1

Jim Watkins headshotVonda here: Okay, friends, today kicks off four Parting Words Fridays that will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen here, or probably anywhere else for that matter! As many of you know, I just returned from teaching at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, where one of the highlights of my week was hearing author, speaker, and threat to society, James Watkins deliver his keynote, “Your ‘Write’ Role.” Another highlight was when he agreed to let me share the message with you over the next four Fridays!

So pull up a chair, put on your creative-thinking-and-real-life-application-hat, and hear Jim’s heart for Christian writers and speakers, Part 1.

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Your “Write” Role, Part 1
by James Watkins

 

Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 12, as I read from the New Living Amplified Paraphrased King James Watkins Version for Writers:

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If a writer should say, “Because I have not been published in Charisma, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be a part of the Body. If the whole body was writing for Guideposts, who would write for take-home papers?

But in fact God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many kinds of writers, but one body.

1. You have an important role in Christian writing

How many of you truly believe that you have an important role in Christian writing?

Writers’ conferences are the absolutely worst place for you to feel important! Here’s what happens. You visit the website or look at the brochure, and there they are: “important” writers who have written fifty New York Times best-selling books, won “major awards” and spoken to thousands around the world.

And there you are having not written fifty New York Times best-selling books, not having won “major awards” and not speaking to thousands around the world.

And to be perfectly honest, I look at the conference faculty bios and wonder What am I doing here giving a keynote address?!

Okay, I do have books with Zondervan, Tyndale, HarperCollins, but most of my books are with small houses. Yes, I’ve spoken around the world, but mostly in cement-block churches with tin roofs and circus tents (no editorial comments, please, about clowns). And, while four of my books have won national awards, but not one has been a best-seller.

“Hi I’m Jim. I’m critically acclaimed, but commercially ashamed.”

So, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and underqualified, I feel your pain. But my most “painful” event was a book signing in Seattle sitting next to Frank This Present Darkness Peretti. Frank had a line as far back as Nebraska; I had one or two people at a time in line. He was frantically writing “Frank.” “Frank.” “Frank.” I was writing little essays: Jim Watkins cartoon headshot

Dear friend, thank you for stopping by. If you can just stand there for just a few minutes until someone else comes, I won’t look like a complete loser. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Oh, here comes another person.

3 John 2, Jim

So, you’re not alone if you’re sitting here at this writers’ conference feeling less than important. But here’s that verse from 1 Corinthians 12 again.

But in fact God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 1 Corinthians 12:18

In your Bible, circle that name “God.” Then underline that verb “arranged.” God has arranged the body of Christian writers. He has you right where he wants you to be right now!

I hope and pray you feel safe here this week. It is so easy to feel all alone as a writers among people who just don’t get you. Here, you’re with your fellow peculiar people.

And most important, you are with fellow parts of the Body of Christ.

When you speak at churches in India, “honored guests” are outfitted with a gigantic floral arrangement around your neck, so you look like a Kentucky Derby winner. Plus, you have to take off your shoes when you’re on the platform. So there I was, the only white man in the entire church, dressed like a winning thoroughbred, in my sock feet, and they started singing “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High” and suddenly—I felt right at home. I belonged!

I felt that same way in our two trips to Africa. I was with my brothers and sisters! Okay, I was white brother who can’t dance, but I was family!

But it is so easy to lose our sense of importance with three deadly C’s:

Comparison: Back to the conference website or printed brochure. Maybe you’re thinking I haven’t had 50 books published. I haven’t been interviewed on national TV. I haven’t spoken to a stadium filled with fans. So I must not be an “important” part in the body of Christian publishing.

So, we move on—and down . . .

Copying: I’m going to write like Max Lucado. I’m going to get on the national talk shows. I’m going to be a great Bible teacher like Beth Moore.

And when we all, inevitably, fail, we move to the third level:

Criticizing: We move from feeling inferior to them to feeling superior to them. I can write better than E. L. James. Okay, anyone can write something better than Shades of Grey. I’m a better, deeper speaker than so and so.

Communicate to Change LIves Jim Watkins coverI love Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Galatians 5:4-5:

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life (Galatians 6:4-5 MSG).

Comparison is a killer of creativity! And worse, a killer of your unique design as a writer. (We’ll talk more individuality later.)

For now, you may want to write this down:

I am important not because of who I am,
but because of Whose I am.

Give that a second to sink in, because it just may be the most important thing you’ll hear all week. More important than “Write tight,” “Show, don’t tell” and “Avoid adverbs.” Even more important than “Develop your brand and platform.”

My very funny friend, Jeanette Levellie, who has written two hilarious books reminds us, “God has already defined you. You don’t need others to tell you who you are.”

And from the founder of the Christian Missionary Alliance, A. B. Simpson:

Many Christians are in the place that the Lord has appointed them, and yet the devil is harassing their lives with a sense that they are not quite pleasing the Lord. If they could just settle down in the place that God has assigned them and fill it faithfully and lovingly for Him, there would be more joy in their hearts and more power in their lives.

So, you have an important role in Christian writing. But the enemy is ruthless. If he can’t convince you you’re not important, then he will try to make you feel you’re more important than you are! Look at verses 15-18 (New Living Amplified Paraphrased King James Watkins Version for Writers):

A writer for Decision cannot say to a writer of a church newsletter, “I don’t need you!” And a best-selling author cannot say to the one who writes letters to the editor, “I don’t need you!”

On the contrary, those writers who don’t command six-figure advances are indispensable, and the writers who don’t appear on the cover of Today’s Christian Woman deserve equal honor as those who do. And the writers who are never interviewed on Christian talk shows are just as necessary as those in the spotlight.

Paul is incredibly honest in acknowledging that there is an earthly hierarchy in the church and in Christian publishing. So, we need to maintain that careful balance that, “I am incredibly important, but I’m not any more important than anyone else . . . despite what the world may say and, particularly, despite what Christian publishing says!”

Moving on to verses 24-26:

But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.

If one part receives a rejection slip, every part suffers with it; if one part signs a contract with Tyndale House, every part rejoices with it (1 Corinthians 12:24-26)

Copyright © 2015 James N. WatkinsJim Watkins real headshot

Bio: Jim wears more hats than his Aunt Luella!
*Associate acquisitions editor for Wesleyan Publishing House
*Conference speaker throughout the U.S. and overseas
*Director of programming for St. Davids Writers’ Conference
*Editorial advisor for ACW Press

You can reach Jim through his site at www.HopeAndHumor.org or www.JamesWatkins.com.

Vonda again: Thank you, Jim! Now friends, isn’t that a powerful application to us as Christian writers and speakers? Be sure to come back for our 1st Tuesday post next Tuesday and then return for more insight next Friday from Jim Watkins’ Your “Write” Role, Part 2.

Thanks for Tweeting…Sharing is sweet!

Hilarious–but real–writers’ take on 1 Cor 12 by @JamesWatkinsCom via @VondaSkelton #amwriting (Click to Tweet)

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Parting Words From The WORD…I Thank God for You

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As I write this, I’m hard at work preparing for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference that begins Sunday. It’s my writing conference home, and I’m honored to be there again this year, teaching four classes, meeting with writers, and hopefully encouraging attendees to answer the call God has placed on their lives…even if the road isn’t easy.

So today I decided I’d repost a favorite Parting Words From The WORD from a few years ago. I hope it encourages you today.

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A friend texted me a few minutes ago and asked for the first scripture passage that came to my mind. It only took me a second to reply because I had just been thinking about this verse moments earlier as I was talking with another writer/speaker friend.

Now, as I sit down to write this week’s Parting Word From The WORD, I realize how much this verse applies to you as well, friends and readers of my blog.

About seven years ago (now nine years ago) I had an idea to start a writer’s blog, a gathering place for Christian writers to come, be encouraged, instructed, and helped. A place where I could be real and pass along my experiences and struggles as a writer. A place where readers could learn how to avoid the mistakes I made.

I wanted a place for writers to find writing opportunities, hear from other writers, and win good stuff. A place where writers could feel at home and fit in, where it’s completely normal to talk with imaginary characters one minute and plan how to kill people without getting caught the next.

But most of all, I wanted a place where the ultimate goal was to use our words to glorify God and lift up the name of Jesus. A place to shine His light in the middle of darkness.

And we did it. Together, we did it.

So today, my verse is all about you. Because without you, there’d be no reason to have the Christian Writer’s Den. Without you, we wouldn’t be working together to bring the lost to Jesus in this little corner of the internet.

The verse?

I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you…
Philippians 1:3 (HCSB)

And I do. I really do.

Thank you.

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Oh, Be Careful

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Today’s post started out like most of my Parting Words posts. As usual, I came across a verse this week that God used to speak truth to me. I knew days ago that today we would talk about I Timothy 4:16.

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:16 (NIV)

But I didn’t realize exactly what the message would be.

As I read that verse, God impressed on my heart that as speakers and writers, we must be especially careful of how we live our lives and proclaim God’s Word. Others are watching, so we must watch our lives and doctrine closely, we must persevere, and in doing so, we save not only ourselves, but those who hear our words and watch our lives.

Wow. Just think, because of how we live and spread His truth, others can be saved. What an honor and a privilege we have!

As I meditated on the verse, the phrase, “Watch your life…” reminded me of the song we all learned as children, “Oh, Be Careful Little Eyes What You See.” I decided to look it up and within minutes, I was taken back to my childhood and songs I haven’t heard in 50 years. I had a hard time leaving.

Here’s Oh, Be Careful Little Eyes What You See.

Click here to hear an old recording of one I had totally forgotten, Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam.

So what began as a look at 1 Timothy 4:16, ended up taking me back 50 years to the truths of God’s Word, learned as a little child, through the old songs.

So the message of this post is:

  • We must be careful of what we see, what we hear, what we say, where we go, and what we do
  • Jesus wants us all to be sunbeams for Him, shining His light into all the world
  • We must watch how we live our lives because others are watching…and listening

If we do, lives can be changed for eternity.

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Yea, I Can Do That

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

 

I might not be able to decorate a house, but I make a pretty good pot of homemade vegetable beef soup.

My skill at organization? Not so hot. But my ability to make people laugh? Yea, I can do that.

I can’t create a musical masterpiece…but I can write a story that could change a life.

I no longer dance or run races or snow ski. After all, I’m at the age that I’m afraid I’ll fall and break a hip! But I can still teach Sunday School and sing in the worship ensemble and lead a feeding ministry team.

What about you? Are you good at building dog houses? Organizing birthday parties? Teaching God’s Word?

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others,
faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.
If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides,
so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.  I Peter 4:10-11

How are you using your gifts to help others today?

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Are We Hiding Behind Our Baggage?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

This past Thursday I ran across a passage in my daily study and knew immediately that I had to share it with you. I couldn’t wait. Then all you-know-what broke out and I spent the rest of my Thursday putting out fires before heading out to a long-planned appointment Thursday evening. So this post is late, but no matter when you read it, I’m confident it will speak to you…if you let it.

Let’s face it, as speakers and writers, we’re often a camaraderie of low self-esteemers. We compare our worst to others’ best. We see their years of experience and think we can never measure up. We see our failures and wonder why we should even try.

But regardless of how we feel, we must remember one thing: If God has a plan for our lives–and we know He does–don’t you think He also has a plan to see it through?

So what does this have to do with baggage?

As I read about the calling of King Saul in 1 Samuel 9 and 10, I saw myself in his reaction and responses. In 1 Samuel 9, we see that God very specifically spoke to Samuel when He said, “This is the man I spoke to you about; he will govern my people.” Clear as it could be, right?

But when Samuel told Saul that he and his family were the center of all Israel’s hopes, Saul wasn’t convinced. He responded with, “But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like this to me?”

Sound familiar?

Yes, Saul’s response was almost exactly like Gideon’s in Judges 6 when the angel of the Lord said Gideon would save Israel from the Midianites: “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” And we know what Gideon eventually did with his 300 men!

But that’s not all. As Saul’s name was announced as king, he couldn’t be found anywhere.

So they inquired further of the Lord, “Has the man come here yet?”
And the Lord said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the baggage.” 1 Samuel 10:22 (NIV)

Oh my goodness. “He has hidden himself among the baggage.”

His life had already been mapped out by God Almighty, and yet he was hiding in fear…among the baggage. He was hiding behind his past, his failures, his perceived lack of ability.

Hiding among the baggage of his life.

And, as we know from Scripture, his life didn’t end as Israel envisioned. But the key is, God used him and had a plan for his life from the very beginning.

What about me? What about you? Are we like Saul, hiding behind those things we wish we could change? Those things we want to keep private? Those things we feel prevent us from being who He has for us to be?

I’ve said it many times before, and I say it again here today: God doesn’t waste any scars. He doesn’t waste our hurts or our pain or our failures or our losses.

He doesn’t waste our baggage…and He certainly doesn’t want us to hide behind it. What will we do when God calls us for a specific job? It could be a life or death decision for someone.

Thanks for Tweeting! Sharing is sweet…

Hiding your baggage…or using it? Could be a life or death decision. #grace #change #purpose @VondaSkelton (Click to Tweet)

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

Vonda

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