Tag Archives: Violet Nesdoly

Belief and Unbelief

I’ve posted recently about believing the truth of God’s Word rather than our feelings or our circumstances: Believing the Truth and Handle with Care. This is one of those slow-learning areas for me, where I keep needing the message reinforced.

God has been doing that very nicely through a couple of Violet Nesdoly‘s Other Food: daily devos posts, and I want to share the basic nuggets here and encourage you to read her full entries if you haven’t already.

In Doubt, skepticism (a.k.a. unbelief), Violet looks at the sin of unbelief–and its consequences. Then she challenges:

I ask myself, do I as a believer in Jesus live a life characterized by belief or unbelief? What about you?

Her Clay Backtalk post includes this insight:

Being content with our lot in life, including our physical appearance and the strengths and weaknesses with which we were born, is part and parcel of our confidence/belief in God.

It’s so easy to forget to believe, as silly as that sounds. To forget to act on what we believe. To begin to complain or criticize our Maker. I’m thankful for these reminders to live like what we believe is true–because if we’re believing God, it is!

Confident that God is at Work

Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendour of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

   “Give thanks to the LORD,
for his love endures forever.”

As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.
2 Chronicles 20:21b-22, NIV*

The attacking armies were overwhelming. King Jehoshapat cried out to God for help and received one of God’s more dramatic answers:

Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. … You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give…. (2 Chronicles 20:15b, 17a, NIV*)

I love this story. Jehoshaphat led the army out with praise, trusting God to keep His promise.

We don’t often know when a crisis is approaching, and even then God rarely tells us what He’s going to do and how it’ll turn out. But we can know He’s always with us, at work and in control.

What if we went into each day, each situation, with praise going ahead of us? Expecting to see God working, even when we don’t know how or where?

As Violet Nesdoly said recently at Other Food: Daily Devos, “let’s position ourselves under the spout of God’s blessing … no matter what our situation looks like on the outside.” (see the full post: “God’s Blessings, Man’s Defraudings”)

God promised to never leave nor forsake us. We can go forward in confident praise and trust that He’s working—whether we see it or not doesn’t change the fact of His active presence.

I suspect that, in the looking, we  might be more likely to see Him at work and to respond with gratitude.

God who saves and shepherds us, help me rely on Your grace and power. Whether I see trouble approaching or think I’m safe, help me remember that You are with me. Help me trust Your plan. Train my spirit to step out in praise and to recognize and give thanks for Your touch.

Here’s Don Francisco’s song about Jehoshaphat. You can take the catchy praise chorus into your day and be blessed.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Thought Life

Thinking about my motivations for pleasing God and the need to rein in my scattered thoughts has made me watchful for what others are saying on the subject of our thought life.

Here are some that spoke to me. Just click the links to reach the full posts—they’re well worth reading.

At LovingMinistry.Daily, Dimitra’s post, “Know Who You Are” talks about finding our identity and our purpose in Christ and not in the places we too often look.

Jennifer Slattery’s post, “Who Are You Thinking of Right Now?” looks at the self-focus that often takes over our thoughts. She asks,

How often do I think of myself? My comfort, my desires, my dreams, my plans?

And what would happen–what might God be able to do–if I lay it ALL aside?

At Other Food: Daily Devos, Violet Nesdoly advises us to “Turn the Dial to ‘Spirit’” and she’s talking about living with our minds set on the Holy Spirit rather than on our natural selves—and about using Scripture to keep our minds on the right track.

And check out Renee Swope’sAre My Thoughts For Me or Against Me?” This excerpt from her book A Confident Heart includes some practical scripture-based thoughts “to replace the lie that has filled your heart with doubt.” Renee Swope offers a whole page of free resources related to A Confident Heart. They’re worth reading, and the book looks really helpful.

God is Present

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”
Genesis 28:16, NIV*

This is the Jacob who stole his brother’s birthright and was now fleeing for his life under the guise of visiting extended family to seek a wife. Not exactly abiding in God’s presence at this point in his life, was he?

On the road, “He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” (Genesis 28:12, NIV*) And he saw God, who spoke to him.

God had been with Jacob all along, and Jacob hadn’t known it. Or lived like it. But when he recognized God, he worshipped.

It’s so easy to worship God in church and daily devotions, but then to go into daily life as if He’s not present. Violet Nesdoly touched on this recently at Other Food: Daily Devos when she quoted Nancy Pearcey’s book, Total Truth: “Sadly, many Christians … give cognitive assent to the great truths of Scripture but they make their practical, day-to-day decisions based only on what they can see, hear, measure, and calculate.”

Violet was talking about choosing to live daily life based on God’s Word, but the principle applies to living with awareness of God. You can read the whole post here: “Word-Directed  Living.”

I’ve seen a few references lately to a book called The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel. One of the questions Craig asks on his website is “Do you live your life as if God is in the room, or do you assume He’s not paying attention?

It’s so easy to forget, or to get distracted. If we’re not vigilant, intentional, and reminding ourselves to rely on God, we can act as if we’re on our own.

Promise-Keeping God, You said You’d never leave nor forsake us and yet we sometimes live like you’ve set us loose. Forgive us for being so easily distracted by life, and remind us of Your nearness. Help us learn to live daily in Your presence, confident in You and following Your leading.

Our song is Michael Card’s “Emmanuel.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship

I joined a writing group because my husband squealed on me. “Janet writes,” he told a new friend at church.

Well… I used to write little stories, until university papers killed them. By this point in my life I’d flitted near burnout in the workplace and found my purpose as an at-home mom to a toddler. Now there was a second child on the way, and the last thing on my mind was writing.

But our friend wanted to start a writing group, so I went along in support. We were a small gathering of published and wanna-bes, interested in poetry, articles and fiction. Eventually I started writing personal experience pieces, and one day the fiction drive kicked back in.

Public use of the Internet was just beginning. Our group learned about magazine markets by sending away for samples and writers’ guidelines. Compared to now with almost everything online, we were really isolated.

And it felt isolated, although we didn’t know what we were missing. Nova Scotia is home to a lot of writers, and the Writers’ Federation of NS has a large base of members. Some are Christians, but the only writers I knew, of faith or otherwise, were the handful in my group.

One night someone in our group brought a little newsletter called Exchange, put out by Audrey Dorsch. I recognized a good thing and subscribed. Exchange was discontinued a few years ago, but I owe Audrey a huge debt for the nuggets of information, market news and encouragement that she shared four times a year. She even published me once or twice in the later years.

One issue included a pamphlet about a group called Alberta Christian Writers’ Fellowship—Canada Wide. Wow! This body of Christian writers in Alberta were willing to accept members from as far away as Nova Scotia, and farther!

I joined.

Before long, the organization changed its name to InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. And fellowship is what meant the most to me. For the price of my membership I received a quarterly, magazine-length newsletter called FellowScript to teach and encourage me.

More than that, I stumbled into email and the Internet around that time, and connected with InScribe’s member listserv. Suddenly I could communicate with Christian writers from all across Canada.

The lights went on, colour flooded black-and-white, and I was connected.

InScribe was my writing lifeline for a long time. In 2000 I had the privilege of attending the Fall Conference in Edmonton and meeting some of my friends face to face.

I’ve entered InScribe contests over the years, even won a few, and learned from the judges’ comments. One year I gathered courage to apply for the Barnabas Fellowship (“enabling a member of InScribe to further his or her progress in writing”) and my name was chosen. The money let me take an online course on developing characters and gave a good kick-start to my second novel manuscript.

Along the way I’ve added memberships with The Word Guild, the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia and American Christian Fiction Writers, and my online “writing family” has expanded. But InScribe will always be special as my first connection with the wider writing world.

The InScribe listserv and FellowScript newsletter are well worth the price of membership. You can learn a lot more about InScribe and browse its members’ links at the InScribe website.

This month various Inscribers are posting some of their thoughts and stories about ICWF on their blogs.  The tour kicked off on July 4 with a stop at ICWF President Jack Popjes’ blog, INsights & OUTbursts, and will wind up on July 27 at Janice Keats’ blog, The Master’s Path. I’ve had a great time following the tour and getting to know some of my fellow InScribers a bit better.

You can see the full tour schedule on the InScribe blog. The most recent post was at Violet Nesdoly’s Line Upon Line and the next one will be July 25th at Laureen Guenther’s Reenie’s Resources.

Leave a comment here and on the other blog tour posts to be entered in the grand prize draw: an InScribe book bag with a free annual membership and a copy of InScribed: 30 Years of Inspiring Writing. The more blogs you comment on, the more entries you’ll get in the draw—so if you comment on 10 blogs, you’ll get 10 entries in the draw (but one comment per blog, please). Contest is open only to non-InScribe-members (members are encouraged to comment but will not be entered in the draw).

Perspective and Gratitude

Think of the grateful, hopeful people you know. Have their lives been easy, or have they learned to rely on God despite their circumstances? It’s tempting to complain about the small stuff when the framework of our lives is rich with blessing. If we do it long enough, though, we don’t see the treasures that are really ours. I wonder if that’s why people keep gratitude journals.

This is something God is nudging me about in my own life. I need to be awake to the wonders of the present and delight in what He gives—and not allow desire for my own way to poison me.

I love how whatever He’s trying to show me will pop up in the strangest places. Here are a few:

§ I’ve recently discovered Louise Penny’s mystery series, set in small-town Quebec, Canada. Wish the language wasn’t so harsh in places, but I have so enjoyed the first two novels and am in queue for the third at the library. For mainstream novels, they treat Scripture and faith with respect. Armand Gamache is a homicide detective. Look at what he says:

“People expect me to be cynical because of my job… but they don’t understand. …I spend my days looking into the last room in the house, the one we keep barred and hidden even from ourselves. The one with all our monsters, fetid and rotting and waiting. My job is to find people who take lives. And to do that I have to find out why. And to do that I have to get into their heads and open that last door. But when I come out again,” he opened his arms in an expansive movement, “the world is suddenly more beautiful, more alive, more lovely than ever. When you see the worst you appreciate the best.” Dead Cold, by Louise Penny. [Headline Publishing Group, 2006, p. 268]

§ I finally had the chance to see the Chronicles of Narnia movie, Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Near the end, Prince Caspian realizes he’s spent his time regretting what’s been taken from him (his father), instead of embracing what he’s been given—a kingdom to rule. That changes his life.

§ One of this week’s posts at Other Food: Daily Devos includes this quote from Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction:

“We can decide to live in response to the abundance of God and not under the dictatorship of our own poor needs. We can decide to live in the environment of a living God and not our own dying selves. We can decide to centre ourselves in the God who generously gives and not in our own egos which greedily grab.” A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p. 96-97. [It’s worth reading Violet’s entire post here: Statute Songs]

§ I’ve been hearing Johnny Reid songs on the radio lately—and liking them. The first time I heard him,. NJ Lindquist was teaching at a local writers’ conference and she used one of his songs as an example of story: “Kicking Stones” . Again, it’s about how we choose to react to our circumstances.

§ My copy of Ann Voskamp‘s One Thousand Gifts arrived today. I’m sure it’s going to reinforce the message.

We may not have much control over what happens, but we can choose how to respond. We can choose where to focus. We can, by the grace of God, learn to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV*. Or in the fresh language of The Message we do it by “fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:5, MSG**.

Johnny Reid’s official video for “Kicking Stones.” (2007, Open Road Records) 

*New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

**The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

No matter how busy you are, and especially if you’re busy and stressed… find five minutes today to watch this video trailer for Ann Voskamp’s new book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. You will feel better. 

How does one live life well? In the book trailer, Ann Voskamp makes it sound so simple… yet so hard… but attainable. Doesn’t it stir something in you?

The book has just released in the US and won’t be available in Canada until February 1, although apparently the electronic version was available in time for Christmas. Reader response has been huge, and I think it’s because the premise touches a need so deep in our hearts that most of us don’t even recognize it until someone like Ann Voskamp articulates it.

You can read an excerpt of One Thousand Gifts, and refresh your spirit with a visit the community at A Holy Experience. To read more about how a quiet Canadian writer attracted such a large international following, see Emily Wierenga’s article about Ann Voskamp in ChristianWeek.

I had the privilege of attending a blogging workshop Ann taught at Write! Canada in 2010. We came to learn how her A Holy Experience blog gained so much attention, in hopes that we could do the same. Instead, she challenged us to write what God gives us–gives each of us–and to be faithful in delivering that message with excellence, as an act of worship, even if it only reaches one person. None of us went away disappointed. Her words and the example of her attitude inspired us, and a number of new blogs were born that day.

This is a woman with a gentle, authentic spirit and a true heart, and in One Thousand Gifts she’s sharing a message that can make a difference in our lives.  The book is on my must-read list for this year. I’ve already put my name on the list at my local Christian store.

One Thousand Gifts is a Bloom (in)courage book club selection, and the club is offering a limited quantity of free copies to those who need them, plus the opportunity for others to act as sponsors for these books. You need to live in the US to be eligible for a physical book, but Zondervan has made e-books available for international participants. As a bonus feature for all participants, beginning February 6 there will be weekly videos with Ann Voskamp discussing the various chapters of the book.

You can learn more about the book at the Zondervan site, and read Violet Nesdoly’s review of One Thousand Gifts at Blogcritics. And consider accepting Ann’s invitation to “Come join the community taking the dare to LIVE FULLY” at A Holy Experience.

Be Still, My Soul

I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Psalm 131: 1b-2, NIV*

This is one of those psalms God uses to remind me to draw nearer to Him, to learn to abide in Him. After He nudged me through 2 Timothy about needing to steep in His presence, I shouldn’t have been surprised to see these verses show up in my daily reading calendar.

Two more gentle invitations to abide arrived in my in-box, posted on other blogs. At Under the Cover of Prayer, Judith Lawrence’s post, “Contemplatives Without Cloisters,” lures me with the promise of ongoing communion with God, even amid life’s ordinary routines.

“The call is to prayer, to be at one with the Sacred at any and every given moment of the day or night.”

Meanwhile, at Other Food: Daily Devo’s, Violet Nesdoly posted “Walking with God”:

“When we walk with someone we go in the same direction. We move at the same speed. A walk conjures pictures of conversation and fellowship along the way. It is exercise non-strenuous enough that we don’t tire quickly — a relationship for the long haul.”

Violet’s post includes a selection of quotes from Andrew Murray. This one stirs a longing in my spirit:

“Abiding in Jesus is not a work that needs each moment the mind to be engaged, or the affections to be directly and actively occupied with it. It is an entrusting of oneself to the keeping of the Eternal Love, in the faith that it will abide near us, and with its holy presence watch over us and ward off the evil, even when we have to be most intently occupied with other things. And so the heart has rest and peace and joy in the consciousness of being kept when it cannot keep itself.” (Devotional Classics: Andrew Murray George Müller Collection [Andrew Murray Collection, Kindle Edition], Location 847)

Father God, Creator, Sustainer, my spirit longs for this awareness of “being kept when it cannot keep itself”. Only You could plant such a desire, and I thank You for it. You are also the only one to fulfill it. Help me do my part and learn to walk with You. Help me not to waste time fretting about things that are Your responsibility. Help me rest in You, securely held in Your keeping. Help me trust and love You in complete faith.

Note: Ann Voskamp has a beautiful post today at A Holy Experience: “Three Ways to Really Enter into His Rest Right Now

You Are My Hiding Place,” by Selah, lets me reflect on God’s trustworthiness.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Memory Aids

Last week at Other Food: Daily Devo’s, Violet Nesdoly talked about actions and images that remind us of God’s faithfulness and encourage our faith. The Old Testament is full of times when God told His people to set up a monument or hold a feast to honour Him and to remember what He had done. He knows how quickly we forget!

Deuteronomy 6 even says that God’s law and stipulations for His people are to remind them they’re His and He has miraculously delivered them.

I’m an at-home Mom, and when our kids were little and money was scarce, I poured a little oil into a glass container and left it on the table where I’d see it. Remember the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath? Elijah promised her, “For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.'” (1 Kings 17: 14, NIV)

I needed a tangible reminder of God’s provision to strengthen my faith. Now that our circumstances are easier, I still need reminders to stop regularly and look to God in praise. I have some Scripture verses posted around the house, but I’m challenged to create some new visual memory aids.

What do you use to keep turning your eyes to Jesus?

Influencers

Violet’s post on Tuesday at Other Food: daily devo’s ended with an idea I’m still thinking about:

Spend some time today, thinking about and thanking God for the people who helped birth you into God’s forever family. (You can read the whole devotional, “The begets,” here.)

I was blessed with a grandmother who prayed for us daily, and I’m also thanking God today for formative touches through two Sunday School teachers and a musician who doesn’t know I exist. When I get thinking about it further, the list gets too long to enumerate.

Who are some of the people who’ve influenced you for the Kingdom? People God shone through to draw you to Himself, or to help you grow?

Father, thank You for each person who allowed Your Spirit to shine into my life through their obedience, whether they knew it or not. Bless them today, with heaped-up, running-over blessings in their spirits.