Monday, July 23, 2012

Out of the Past, Into the Future

A face from generations past, anonymous, yet somehow familiar, loomed above me. No words were spoken, but the image appeared to be waiting, expecting me to act. The unsettling dream had me sitting up in bed, my heart pounding. In the darkness, a sense of urgency overwhelmed me. I had to find a way.

When Angie picked me up that morning, she knew with one glance something was up. “So, are you going to tell me now, or are you going to tell me later?” was all she said, but I was happy to share with her. After relating the events of the night, I added “You know I’ve been immersed in my genealogy lately. Having 16 generations of names, dates and places has brought it all to life for me, but it’s also raised more questions. I mean, come on . . . medieval England? What kind of life did they have? What work did they do? What kind of people were they? But the biggest question is the one that is getting to me. Did they love the Lord?”

Angie looked puzzled. “I don’t think you’ll ever be able to . . . “

“I know. I’ll never know their hearts, but it’s more than that. It’s almost like I need to step up somehow, to ensure that future generations of Cooper’s will have the opportunity to hear about Jesus and the gospel."

“Wow, Jen, that’s a tall order. How could you accomplish something like that?”

“That’s the thing. I think I know.“

Angie looked at me sideways, waiting.

“After that dream, I spent the rest of the night praying. By the time I got up, I was confident that God is directing me to write.”

“Write? Really? You could probably do that. You wrote that poem for the Christmas party last year.”

I stared at Angie, considering her words. “Well, sure, I’ve done some things for my own amusement, but I don’t think I’m ready for all my descendents to be judging my results.”

“So, what can you do?”

I couldn’t keep the wonder from my face. “This is the really cool part. Last week I was surfing the web, and I came across a Christian writer’s site. It’s called FaithWriters. I took the time to explore and was very impressed.”

“First, writers sign up. Once you do that, you can post your Christian writing. There’s another place you can get your writing critiqued. That’s a good idea, especially for a beginner like me.”

“I didn’t know there were sites like that. But what if their critiques say you’re no good?”

“I don’t think that’s how it works. I think they tell you how to improve your writing. But I saw something else on the homepage. They have twelve Christian writing courses. And interactive writing forums, so I would be able to ‘talk’ to experienced writers.”

“This site sounds quite comprehensive.”

“I haven’t even told you half of it. There’s a writing challenge. That looked like a pretty big deal. I guess you write to a prompt, and there’s a deadline and a word limit . . . and something about little gold boxes, but I haven’t figured it all out yet. Doesn’t that seem like a good way to practice and improve? Oh, and they sponsor a Christian Writer’s Conference.”

Angie grinned. “You know Jen, it appears you have already decided to try this out. If you really believe you need to write, I agree that FaithWriters may be the place for you to start. Let me know how it goes.”


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Now That Was A Surprise

Most of my life I've been a DIY kind of girl. Sometimes that turns out to be a fine thing, sometimes, not so much. For instance, I am notorious for being a picky eater. You might think everybody loves Chinese food, but then again, you might be wrong. I do like the flavors of a few Chinese dishes, but usually don't like the dish as a whole. I've made several attempts to find a Chinese restaurant that could appease my taste buds, but alas, it appeared my only recourse was to DIM-do it myself. 

It didn't take too long to find the ingredients I was looking for, but I really didn't know if they actually were the ingredients I was looking for. I don't do a lot of cooking, so this was really taking a leap in the dark for me.

Wha-la! My creation of white rice, chicken and General Tso Stir-Fry Sauce was yummy! With the first bite, I was celebrating my culinary success. By the third bite, my taste buds were so happy I barely noticed the distress my tongue was beginning to experience. Plus, while I prefer to avoid spicy foods, I'm not a total wimp, so I continued to gobble up my generous-sized serving.
That was a mistake. By the time I finished, I was convinced there must have been steam blasting out through my ears! My mouth felt like I had just gorged on live coals, and there was something in my chest that felt like a ball of fire. I'm glad no one was around to see, for I had to resort to sucking in cool air and downing a cold soda. Eventually, the ball of fire moved to my stomach, and has now subsided to a warm glow.

Three times I went back to check that packet of sauce for the warning label the government requires for hazardous substances. Three times I found nothing.  So, in an effort to maintain my standing as a good citizen, I've gone ahead and composed one for them:                              

Partaking of this food additive will
         subject you to heat that is equivalent to an         

Atomic Fireball!

Who could blame me for indulging in an extra-large serving of ice cream?

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Christian's Tools for Evangelism

I have recently been introduced to an wonderful organization that has been around for over a hundred years. What can I say -- I don't get out much. :-) It has impressed me so much, I would love to share a bit about it with you.

Have you ever seen an electrician in action? How about a mechanic? They’re people with a job to do, a job they can handle because they have the tools they need to accomplish the task. As Christians, we have been given a job to do. The Great Commission directs us to take the Gospel to the lost. That’s a mission that can become complicated, because many people don’t realize they need what we have to offer. Just like the electrician, and the mechanic, we need to fill our toolboxes with the right tools to ensure we can get even the complicated jobs done.

Pocket Testament League is a venerable organization that wants to supply those very tools. Established 119 years ago, their mission is to enable Christians to effectively share the Gospel. Through the years, they have found creative and financially responsible ways to do that. As expected of any vibrant enterprise, they have a well developed website. is the link to this Christian worker’s tool crib paradigm.

Evangelism needs to be approached from various perspectives, in order to reach people where they’re at. The tools offered at PTL help to accomplish that. Evangelism Boot Camp provides 92 Ways to Share Your Faith; and Top 40 Ice Breakers. Five Reasons to Read the Bible will give the witness excellent support for conversations with those who are seeking hope. God’s Plan for Your Life is a small group study that speaks to the individual, with lessons that explore: God’s Peace, Purpose, Protection, Provision, and Power for Your Life.

The ultimate evangelism tool is always going to be God’s Word, and PTL makes unique editions of the Gospel of John available. Are you hoping to speak to someone in the medical profession? There’s a version meant just for them. An athlete? A stay-at-home mom? A writer? There are dozens of choices, in three languages, and several versions. You select the ones that would be of most use to you in your circle of influence.

The free membership offers the opportunity to receive a regular dose of encouragement, in your in-box, in the form of Free Daily Devotionals. Timidity can develop into passionate confidence through the Free Evangelism Training, or the self-paced study of Jesus’ ministry, The 21 Day Challenge.

When you need the services of a plumber or a mechanic, you want to have confidence in his work. You look at his past performance, and you talk to previous customers. PTL delivers those assurances right there on the website. You will find a timeline which highlights many of their contributions over the years. You will find testimonials from many who have benefitted from their services.

These examples are only the beginning. You will find so much more by following this link: The most important thing you will find is valuable support you need in order to do your part in making an eternal difference in the lives of others.