Showing posts with label Christianity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christianity. Show all posts

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Writing, healing, and uniting the church

Members of our Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook recently responded to a question all Christians might prayerfully consider and respond to, not necessarily in writing but in living and fellowshipping with one another in Christ.

QUESTION: If we are the Body of Christ on earth today, what can we do to tend and mend the church in our writings?

Linda Lots! I think anything we do to inspire, comfort, and spiritually challenge individuals will uplift the whole body. Many forms of writing can do that, if we get it out of our private notebooks and share. We can directly impact the larger body, too, with the hymns, dramas, and Bible studies we write for church use. Remember, you poets, that traditional rhyming verse can be set to public domain tunes and voila! You've written a hymn.

Stacey I think we can add themes of hope to our writings from the Father's perspective.

Joy Promote unity, compassion and understanding. Build up and not destroy. Reveal grace, hope and healing. Share testimonies. Give praise. Use all our gifts for God's glory and maintain a close, prayerful walk with Him.

Helen Share our poetry and writings! Keeping them tucked safely away in our computers or notebooks only edifies ourselves.

Songaye God's Word is filled with poems, historical articles, proverbs, and psalms (songs/prayers.) Jesus spoke in parables, and Our Father said that He watches over His Word to perform it. His Word, which He sends forth by His Spirit to the world through us – His children, will NOT return unto Him void. How then can I keep it hidden?

Barbara Exalt the characteristics of Christ. He is the head of the body and we are the members. Each member plays an important function, however small. Building each other up in the most Holy Faith brings positive encouragement to those who feel insignificant. Jude, 1 Thessalonians and Romans each admonish us to do this. I purposefully didn't write the chapters or verses down because it's very enlightening to do the cross referencing.

Kurt Humble ourselves. Absorb instead of repel. Be (adults) instead of children. Understand and speak to, not at.

Bob Awesome question, Mary! I believe that "No problem can be solved at the same level of consciousness that created it."(Albert Einstein) I think that we who feel God's presence when we write and create have an opportunity to stand with Jesus and write from His perspective. It crosses all cultures and traditions. Most Believers tend to write towards or about something. I see it in more of a prophetic way: that we write out of where we are spiritually, that we write out of our spirit or in the Spirit as opposed to writing out of our old self – our fallen or broken self. I'm into putting spirit back into our spiritual life. That's what Mother Teresa did. True spirituality brings us to the lowest of all, to love by getting up under the hurting and the broken, to lift them up into the arms of Jesus.

Adeline The church is "in the world" and strives to be "not of the world." But sadly there is often little difference – not enough evidence to convict us! I believe writers should be sharing passionate yet appropriate expressions of spiritual conviction and truth, holiness and Christian discipline. Where? Everywhere! Church bulletins, newsletters, family chats, community discussion boards…. Wherever a door opens we must walk through and present the Bread of Life for a dying and hopeless world. As little ones and their parents are persecuted abroad, our pen should become enflamed with boldness and compassion to share the good news of the gospel.

Anne If we truly want to tend and mend the churches today, then we need to look at what binds us instead of what divides us. We need to love as we were instructed to love. We need to make sure we write truth, but make sure it is drenched in grace. Scripture tells us how difficult it is to restore a brother who is offended, but we will push that brother or sister further away from God if all they read or hear from us is judgment. It is God's job to convict; ours is to love, and sometimes we try the wrong job. Writing is a privilege. And we need to deal with our own issues so that when we see others we are not looking at them with skewed filters. We need to only move when our Father instructs, only saying what He tells us to say, not what we feel compelled to get off our chests.

Robert The way to tend and mend is to encourage anyone we see to read their Bibles for in this we are pointing them to God's words.

Songaye My goal, too, is to get people to meditate on God's Word for themselves, but His Word is full of admonishments to assemble ourselves together, worship, fellowship, and disciple (teach) in a body that God has called you to. Yes, we have the unction of the Holy Spirit, and He teaches us all things and leads us into all Truth. Our first order of business as a Christian is to have fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit then the corporate church.

Gary We write what we are inspired by God to write. We find every avenue we can to share what He gives us – all as He leads – for we can do nothing without Him. He uses what He wills to grow His Kingdom. Only He can straighten that which is crooked. The best I can do is to listen and write what He whispers. (Matthew 10:27)

Annie On the evening I saw this question, I saw a documentary on Day Star programming called "Proof Through The Night" on Francis Scott Key. It is a perfect demonstration of how our writings in poetry and other Christian literature can affect the Body of Christ as well as a nation. You will have to see it in order to grasp the effects of his writing, poetry, and lifestyle as a Christian had a major effect on the development and growth of this nation.

Miisrael We are God's instruments. He gives us talents; if we bury them they have no use. We should play them so that others in the church and anywhere we travel will hear His music. His song is “love one another.”

Barbara Show God's mercy, love and grace.

Nellie Ask God each day how you can be a blessing to someone.

Mary And in light of the current news, let's keep our country in prayer and pray continually for Christians around the world.

Philip Being an "Indie Author/Poet," I spend so much time promoting my work and myself, that it begins to sap me as a Christian. The way the Lord has dealt with me on this has been to remind me (as I study the Word ) that this isn't about me being edified, but rather I'm to edify fellow members of the Body. The anointing He gave me to write should be a work of love and faith. When I attempt to further my career, the joy I get from the writing process and its positive effect on others, begins to wane in proportion to an increase of stress. I think it's a trap to prevent me from edifying others and to decrease any effective ministry the Lord's gifted me to fulfill. It can't be said enough: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."

Mary M. Be kind. A smile is good for us and usually others. Pray for those who aren't interested in knowing Jesus as lord and Savior.

Pete Defend the Church, Christ, and Mary when they are attacked or mocked.

Soldierone We must remind those who follow in faith what Jesus reminded us to be the greatest of His commandments (Matthew 22:36-40) for if we understand and promote this teaching, we encourage the opportunity for His love to spread from heart to heart. If His love fills every heart, then evil has no place to root.

Kathryne Include testimonies of redemption in our writings to encourage another to greater love. I study, but I am interested in reading (and writing) accounts of love, mercy, and grace in action - how one shared an encounter they had and how it went.

Lori I often say, there is the church the media portrays and there is the real Church behind the scenes, doing the work of Christ, being His hands and feet in our work and neighborhoods, being His missionaries of love and bringing that to a hurting world. Right now as we speak, there are brothers and sisters going quietly about their lives, making sacrifices large and small because we believe that is what Jesus would have us do. And of course, our own personal testimony is the most powerful thing we have to share! Thank you for asking this question!

Mary Thanks to all of you for responding! May God guide and bless each of us and give us the prayers to pray and words to write in Jesus’ Name.

© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet-author of 26 books in all genres for Christian and educational markets

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bible verses to heal the church Body of Christ

In our work and lives as Christian poets, writers, and other communicators for Christ, these Bible verses will help us to focus our prayers, words, and writings on healing the current miffs and ancient rifts in the Family of God.

First, let’s take Jesus at His word:

Matthew 5:9: Blessed are you who make peace, for you shall be called the children of God!

Matthew 18:19: Again, I assure you: If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask, My Father in heaven will do it for you.

John 10:16: I have other sheep who are not in this sheepfold, and I must bring them in too. They will listen to My voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.

John 13:35: And in this way, everyone will know you are My disciples - by the love you show one another.

John 15:12: This is what I command you: Love one another in the same way I have loved you.

Then, in the New Testament letters, the Apostles and early Christian writers gave us these words of encouragement, explanation, and exhortation.

Romans 12:5: In Christ’s body, we are like many parts, who all belong to each other.

1 Corinthians 1:10: I appeal to you all, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and allow no dissensions among you, so you may be united in the same mind and purpose.

11 Corinthians 12:20: For I’m afraid that, when I come, I won’t like what I find, and you won’t like my reaction! I’m afraid I will find you quarreling, jealous, angry, selfish, back-biting, gossipy, arrogant, and disorderly.

Galatians 3:28: No longer are you to distinguish yourself as a Jew or as a Gentile, a slave or a free person, a man or a woman, for you are all now one in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:14: For Christ Himself is our peace! Through His own Body, He made both Jews and Gentiles into one body when He broke down every barrier that divides us.

Ephesians 4:3: Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, bound together with peace.

Ephesians 4:13: Keep on until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we become mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full standard of Christ.

Philippians 1:27: Let your conversations be becoming to the gospel of Christ, so that whether together or not, others will hear how you stand fast in one spirit with one mind working together for the faith of the gospel.

11 Timothy 2:23-25: Don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments or debates that only cause fights and dissension. Those who work for the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, and patient. Gently instruct those who oppose you. Perhaps God will change their hearts, and they will learn the truth.

1 Peter 3:8: And, finally, be of one mind and spirit – empathetic, compassionate, and courteous, not returning ill will for ill will or insult for insult but instead blessing one another that you may inherit God’s blessing.

As we focus on each of those verses in our lives, writings, and love for the Family of God, we can be assured of the power of Christ in the church Body of Christ. And, oh, what a world of difference that will make!

© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, ecumenical Christian poet, writing consultant, and author of the Christian Writers’ Guide e-book and the poetry book Living in the Nature Poem

[Note: The Thompson Chain Reference Bible highlighted the verses selected for this theme, and the Bible Gateway website provided many translations to compare for the above prayer-a-phrases. May God continue to bless their good work and ours.]

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Finding your place in literature: two reviews

Christian poets and writers often begin to write as a way to spread Good News of God’s goodness, grace, and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Some of us want to help readers become better acquainted with the Bible or see the significance of regularly participating in church, not only as community or family, but as the Body of Christ ready to pray with power, act in love, and effectively affect the whole world for good.

Our work as Christian poets and writers might lead us to a blog or a book or two. Or perhaps we’ll be led to write curriculum for our church denomination or parish, but if we continue to write, we might wonder if our writing in the spiritual realm has any place in a literary realm.

As a poet and writer for many years and a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church, I believe we have everything needed for our writing to be the best and blest in literature. Two new books from Crossway agree, so I want to introduce you to those and encourage you to keep on writing, studying well-written works in your genre, and practicing the techniques you learn.

Letters & Life: on being a writer, on being a Christian

Bret Lott doesn’t begin this book by telling us about his life as a college professor, journal editor, or writer of many novels, one of which found acclaim in Oprah’s Book Club. Instead he begins by proclaiming his belief in God the Father Almighty and Jesus Christ our Lord as stated in the Apostles’ Creed. Besides waking us up, this unusual but effective opening lets us know where the author is coming from before he takes us there.

Where is he taking us? Into the public square, into high standards for art, into the creative provisions of our Father God – and having given us a glimpse of this enormous scene, he takes us into the tiny place of precision. As the author explains:

Precision calls for patience, it calls for searching; it calls for striving; it also calls for letting yourself trip over what is right there in the path before you. Precision is indispensable; it is just beyond your reach. You don’t have the technique, the language, or the courage to achieve precision. But if you want to write, then for all these reasons – and chiefly because we serve a precise God who is creator of all things – you must reach for precision. As a writer you must always be striving for that which you cannot yet achieve and for that which you cannot yet know.

Sounds impossible! yet doable as we seek God and give ourselves fully to the present moment, paying attention to what’s around us. Paradoxically, we have to get ourselves out of the way, allowing the work itself to speak – a humble task but almost as necessary as living, which brings us to “Part 2: Life.”

In this second half of the book, the author takes us into his mental processes of living and writing through experiences we all eventually face: the death of a parent and our own mortality. From these very real moments wrestled in real life we see the value of the real over what’s groundless and unfounded. As the author invitingly presents his story, we begin to see our unique story too.

Echoes of Eden: Reflections on Christianity, Literature, and the Arts

Unlike the personable but subjective treatment above, Jerram Barrs, a professor of Christian studies, takes an objective approach to our work as Christian artists through such chapter titles as “God and Humans as Creative Artists,” “Building a Christian Understanding of the Artist’s Calling,” and “Echoes of Eden: God’s Testimony to the Truth.” Professor Barrs points us to the perfection, diversity, profusion, and inventiveness of our Creator God then reminds us that we’re “image bearers” of God, who “exercise dominion now by ‘making things’ with our hands, minds, and imaginations."

Interestingly, both books emphasize humility. As Professor Barrs says, “In acknowledging that we live in God’s world and that we are his creatures, the Christian ought to have a rather more humble approach to the work of art than is sometimes found in the reflections of those artists who see themselves at the center of reality.”

With guidelines for assessing artistic endeavors, which “are actually echoes of the greater creative activity of God,” the author considers ways in which poets and writers have called upon faith, integrity, and a clear purpose in producing highly lauded literary works. These artists range from Shakespeare to Jane Austin and C.S. Lewis to Tolkien and J.K. Rowling, each of whom has encountered criticism, which thankfully did not deter them from writing. Such writings inspire us to read, but as Professor Barr helps us to see how and what their works accomplished, we’re also inspired to write.

©2013 Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.

Crossway kindly sent me review copies, but if you’d like to order, the ads below will take you to each book. If you want feedback on your poems, devotionals, or book proposal for any genre, the Feedback, Fees, and Contact page of my website will let you know what to expect.

Letters & Life: on being a writer, on being a Christian by Bret Lott

Echoes of Eden: Reflections on Christianity, Literature, and the Arts by Jerram Barrs

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Getting to know the whole Body of Christ

Christians who grow up in church might not be clear about goals or precepts of faith for their denomination as seen from an adult perspective, so the likelihood of being accurate about principles to which other denominations adhere is pretty slim! This presents a big problem when readers know only what we tell them!

As Christian poets, writers, and editors, it's up to us to correct mistakes, overcome misconceptions, and accurately spread the Good News. Since every reader won't want to come to church with us, we do well to get to know the denominations outside of our immediate circle before we write or publish writings for secular readers or Christians in general. Thankfully, the Internet makes it relatively easy to get acquainted with our brothers and sisters in the Family of Christ.

The denominational websites listed below include hotlinks to official sites for mainline Protestant, Evangelical, Catholic, Pentecostal, and Orthodox churches. If you find others, just add them in the Comments section beneath this posting:

American Baptist Association
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Episcopal Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
Presbyterian Church in America
Presbyterian Church USA
Southern Baptist Convention
United Church of Christ
United Church of God
United Methodist Church
United Pentecost Church International
Vatican website for the Roman Catholic Church

© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler welcomes your helpful suggestions, encouraging responses, and active participation with other Christian Poets & Writers in the groups begun on LinkedIn and Facebook. May God bless us and our work as we aim to be an accurate and loving voice for Christ, Christianity, and the Church.


Friday, December 23, 2011

The healing art of love

Poem by Mary Sayler, dedicated to God and a Crazy Old Woman:

At The Altar, Railing

Long before I saw her coming down the aisle,
I heard her animated conversation with the air.
Apparently, spirits loomed everywhere her
mind and body moved. This would not have
been my problem to solve, much less prove,
except for being my turn to pray for anyone
who came my way with need. I told my pastor,
"I'm not ready for this!" but he did not heed
one word of what I said. Instead he answered
something I never will forget as I stood there,
hovering between prayer or fear and flight. The
very sight of this gnarled old woman frightened
me beyond belief, but somehow I received what
I believed to be a benediction:

"All she needs is loving."

"All she needs…," I thought, wondering if my pastor
bought that word himself! And yet I no longer felt
distraught. Calmed by freeing truth and strength not
mine, I offered the babbling woman hushed prayers
beneath my breath then reached, palm out, with a
tentative touch. Much to my amazement, she laid
her wrinkled cheek against my shoulder, soaked
previously in prayer, and rested there in the spirit.
I'd never seen anything like it! That scary old woman,
crazy and wild, laid her head on my shoulder like a
comforted child and freed me of a long-abiding fear.

Mary Harwell Sayler
Lake Como, FL