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file1981260652892 (1)Put on the full armor of God
so that you can take your stand
against the devil’s schemes.
For our struggle is not against
flesh and blood.
Ephesians 6:11-12 NIV

My hands tied behind my back, I was dragged before a tribunal of cloaked men. They accused me of subversion against the government because of my faith in Jesus Christ. I could not deny the charges, for spread across the table were books and articles I had written.

The congregation’s singing brought me back to reality. Had I dozed off or seen a vision? I’ll never know for sure. But I do know the Lord spoke to me. “Do you realize, Child,” I felt Him say, “that the things you are writing may one day convict you? Are you willing to follow Me despite the cost?”

It was a sobering moment. I didn’t ask Him to give me a closer look at the titles of my published works. And I didn’t answer quickly or feel very brave when I finally said, “Yes, Lord.”

That was fifteen years ago. Societally, things were bad and getting worse; but Christians generally were seen as part of the answer—not the problem. We were not the frequent brunt of jokes on TV sitcoms and talk shows. Media coverage was not openly biased. Gays were not militant. People did not worry about being politically correct. The New Age was beginning to infiltrate some churches, but few discerned its danger.

Things are changing—rapidly. We can no longer ignore all the signs that point to the return of Christ. They challenge us to be actively involved in spreading the Gospel while the doors remain open to produce and distribute Christian literature. But we do need to count the cost. In a very real way, writing for the Lord puts us on the front lines where “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12 NIV). To go into battle without the “full armor of God” (Eph. 6:11 NIV) is dangerous.

“This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels,” The Message says. “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued” (Eph. 6:12-13). Having been defeated too often, I’m learning to pray on the armor every morning that I might “resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over . . . still be standing up” (Eph. 6:13 TLB).

“Lord,” I pray, “help me to gird myself with your belt of truth’” (Eph. 6:14 NIV). “Give me discernment that I might immediately recognize the enemy’s lies and half-truths. Help me to refuse to receive or believe them.” When a manuscript is returned and those insistent inner whispers threaten to defeat me, I buckle the belt of God’s truth more tightly around me. I affirm, often out loud, that the return of one manuscript (or dozens of manuscripts) does not mean I should quit writing. I know God has called me to write, but that is not a guarantee of accepted manuscripts. I must keep developing the gifts of writing and marketing and persevere.

The breastplate of righteousness (Eph. 6:14 NIV) protects my most vulnerable area—my heart, the home of my feelings and emotions. It is so easy for me to be wounded by others, to allow myself to be influenced by fear of what they might say or think. I need to be constantly vigilant against the temptation to compromise because “everyone else is doing it.” I cannot pad my writing expenses on my Schedule C. I cannot be careless attributing quotes or use copyrighted material without permission. Instead, I must handle every aspect of the business side of my writing in a way that honors the Lord. My first priority must be to bring glory to Him and not to myself. “Lord,” I pray, “help me today to consistently choose to do what is right in Your eyes.”

Putting on the shoes of readiness to share the Gospel (Eph. 6:15) protects me from the temptation to get sidetracked. There are often other things I can do and write that would require less time and effort, but if I am to be a soldier of the King, I must take my orders from Him. I need to follow His marching orders instead of asking Him to bless mine. When I walk in obedience, I find that my feet do not become bruised and weary from going places He never intended me to go. I also find that when I say yes to what He wants me to do, rather than yes to what others tell me I should do or what I feel they expect me to do, I am filled with peace instead of tension.

I prayerfully pick up the shield of faith to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16 NIV). I ask God to make me mighty in spirit—to help me to walk by faith, not by sight. I also ask Him to help me not to lower my shield by nurturing doubts. A soldier can be fatally wounded if he lowers his shield for only a moment.

The helmet of salvation (Eph. 6:17 NIV) protects my thought life. Each morning I thank God that I do not have to be bound by old habits and thinking  patterns. I ask Him to continue His work of transforming me by renewing my mind (Rom. 12:2) and giving me the “thoughts and mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16 TLB).

Finally, there is the one offensive piece of armor. It is with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:17 NIV) that we go forth into battle to confront the evil of our day. Doing so doesn’t mean we are supposed to hit our readers over the head with the Bible. Instead, I pray that God’s Word will so permeate my life that the principles of Scripture will be evident in all I do, say, and write.

“The enemy is within the gates,” Chuck Colson wrote in Against the Night (Servant Publications, 1989, p. 19). “I believe that we do face a crisis in Western culture, and that it presents the greatest threat to civilization since the barbarians invaded Rome” (p. 23). But God commands us to trust Him. Even when facing the spirit of the antichrist, we need not fear because “the one who is in [us] is greater than the one who is in the world” (l John 4:4 NIV). We need to “pray all the time” (Eph. 6:18 TLB) and to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Eph. 6:10 NIV) knowing that Jesus has already won the battle.

Responding to God’s Call to Write

Study Ephesians 6:10-18 in several translations or paraphrases. Ask the Lord to show you what each piece of the armor can mean in your life. List those insights below and begin to daily pray on the armor.

Belt of truth

Breastplate of righteousness

Shoes of readiness

Shield of faith

Helmet of salvation

Sword of the Spirit

From Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers by Marlene Bagnull. ACW Press. © 1990, 1999 Marlene Bagnull.

Banner 2015 GPCWCIf God is calling you to “write His answer,” you need to come to the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. It’s not too late to register.

I feel such a sense of urgency. “We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work” (John 9:4 NLT).

Our Friday morning keynoter, Pastor Michael Gantt, said in a blog post “Found Standing” in May:

Because of our terrible national sins; because as a nation we have essentially given God the middle finger of disdain for His Person, His character, and His laws there is no defense to be made. I made the point in a recent post, “The Hedge is Gone,” that we must realize that Islam is not our enemy, the militant LGBT bloc is not our .”enemy, nor is Planned Parenthood (the chief purveyor of the murder of our children) our enemy. Our sin has made God our enemy.

Because of the rejection of God and His Word and because we have exchanged the God of Life for the gods of death and perversion, God is already judging the nation and if there is no national confession of sin and repentance He will complete his judgment; either by the complete annihilation of what was once a great and Godly people or by rendering it completely irrelevant on the world stage.”

Oh Father, have mercy and bring our nation back to You! Thank You for the message Michael will bring Friday morning. Indeed, “The Cross is the Main Thing.”

To Believe!

Compassion rocks fixed

Are you concerned

about human trafficking,
orphans, abortion, the poor,
racism, the handicapped,
the hungry, the oppressed,
and so much more that is close to
the heart and call of Jesus?

Maybe your concerns are closer to home –
a family member who doesn’t know the Lord,
relationships that are strained,
even estranged,
not enough money to meet urgent needs,
and not enough faith to tackle issues
that seem beyond us to resolve.

Today I want to challenge you, and to challenge myself
to believe that we can make a difference.

Dream%20With%20Me_album%20cover

I’ve just watched – again – the video of pre-teen Jackie Evancho singing “I Believe” that now has 6,593,606 hits on youtube. Amazing voice – powerful message. I encourage you to watch it and to believe. God has a plan for you and for your writing. He can use you and use me to make a difference in our hurting world.

Grab hold of His promises in “A Writer’s Statement of Faith.” Read them aloud. Choose to believe He means what He says. He who calls you will equip you to do “far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us” (Eph. 3:20 MSG).

~*~*~*~*~

It’s not too late to register for the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. Walk-ins are welcome! I especially hope you’ll join us Wednesday evening for brief messages by conferees and faculty on how they are seeking to “Write His Answer” to issues that concern them.

Our morning and evening sessions are open free of charge to the community. They will challenge and encourage all Christians – not just writers – “to believe” they can make a differrence.

Banner 2015 GPCWC

Ava PenningtonGuest post
by Ava Pennington
Co-captain, Appointment Desk

Banner 2015 GPCWC

The first time I attended a Christian writers’ conference, I was reminded of an all-you-can-eat buffet. Not just any buffet, but one whose tables overflowed with lobster and filet mignon.

That four-day conference was packed with continuing classes, workshops, resources available for purchase, and free resources, too. What amazed me most were the opportunities for appointments with acquisition editors, agents, and successful, multi-published authors.

Although I was grateful for those meetings, I was also terrified. Would I say the wrong thing and be branded as a hopeless novice? Or would I be able to make the most of each opportunity?

Here are 7 lessons I learned from those experiences as well as from my experiences on the other side of the table…

  1. Be prepared

Research the people you will meet. Learn their editorial needs or areas of expertise. Check the Faculty-at-a-Glance page or the summary spread sheet for details about the 53 authors, editors, and agents serving on the faculty of the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

Preparation also includes ensuring your writing sample is the best it can be. Edit for punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling. Remember, your written work represents you!

  1. Follow directions

Follow directions regarding what and how to submit. Did you review the guidelines regarding length and format? Did the agents and editors say they were interested in your genre?

Following directions in advance of your meeting is also good practice for submissions after the conference.

  1. Don’t be surprised by differing responses.

Opinions will be as varied as the people you meet. One agent might not be interested in your work, while another will be enthusiastic. The first agent might already be representing a similar manuscript. The second agent might have recently spoken with an editor seeking books similar to yours. Don’t be surprised—or discouraged—if your appointments offer differing responses to the same manuscript.

  1. Develop a thick skin.

One of the most difficult things writers learn to do is pour themselves into their work, then listen to someone else’s critique without taking it personally.

As writers, we can be our own worst enemy if we become argumentative and defensive about our work. Remember, you don’t have to implement everything that’s suggested. But at least consider what you hear, pray about it, and compare the comments to what other objective people say (not including your mom).

One thing not to say is “God told me to write this.” The editor might be tempted to answer “God did not tell me to publish it!”

  1. Be open to God’s detours

Your heart may be set on writing a book, but an editor may tell you the content is better suited for a magazine article—or a series of articles—instead. Or maybe you wrote a picture book, only to be told that it would make a terrific story for a children’s magazine.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you must change your project. But consider and pray about what they say. Keep in mind the average book now sells 250 copies, while the circulation of some magazines can number in the tens of thousands. It’s easy to see which one will give you a greater audience.

One other thing I’ve learned in staffing the appointment desk is that God’s detours sometimes include having you meet with someone other than who you requested. Don’t despair—you may very well be pleasantly surprised. Last year at the GPCWC, one conferee was unable to meet with her first choice, but the appointment we scheduled for her turned out to be the person she needed to meet. Trust God’s sovereignty over your writing…and your meetings. He’s in control and He loves you. There’s no better combination.

  1. Follow through

You may find this next point difficult to believe. After the conference, conferees frequently fail to send manuscripts requested during an appointment. If the agent or editor asks you to send your work, do it!

During the conference, keep a list of what agents and editors ask you to send. Did they request a query? A full proposal? A complete manuscript? Send it!

Last, but not least…

  1. Enjoy your meetings!

The editors, agents, and authors you’ll meet at GPCWC are looking forward to meeting you. They’re friendly and yes, they’re human—just like you. We all have the same goal—to use our abilities to glorify God and bless His people. So enjoy your appointments!

For more information on preparing for your appointments, check out the

Appointment Preparation page of the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference website. Conference Director Marlene Bagnull has included lots of helps to assist you in having successful appointments.

While you’re at the conference, stop by and say hello. I’ll be at the Appointment Desk and will be happy to meet you and answer your questions!

Think Big!

Think Big3This spring I had the joy of keynoting at the Stay Focused Writers’ Retreat in New Jersey. The theme of the retreat was “Think Big” based on Dr. Ben Carson’s book, Think Big, written with my good friend, Cec Murphey. I highly recommend this book and Gifted Hands, also written with Cec, and the movie, Gifted Hands.

I began my message with this powerful promise:

Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes. – Ephesians 3:20 TLB

In my keynote I identified a baker’s dozen of attitudes and actions that hinder or help us to think big.

1. Failing to cut old tapes. – “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 TLB).

2. Listening to the wrong voices. – “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:4 NASB)

3. Self-centered rather than God-and-other-centered focus! – “Look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own. The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had” (Phil. 2:4-5 TEV).

4. Lack of vision. – “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18 KJV).

5. Failure to set specific and measurable goals. – “We should make plans – counting on God to help us” (Prov. 16:9 TLB).

6. Allowing disappointments to derail us. – “No one who believes in Christ will ever be disappointed” (Rom. 10:11 TLB).

7. Sinking in the sea of doubts. – “But I’m not the person for a job like that” (Ex. 3:11 TLB).

8. Falling victim to discouragement. – “He is a mighty Savior. He will give you victory. He will rejoice over you with great gladness; he will love you and not accuse you” (Zeph. 3:17 TLB).

9. Procrastinating instead of persisting. – “Dreaming instead of doing is foolishness, and there is ruin in a flood of empty words” (Eccl. 5:7 TLB)

Instead we need to:

10. Draw near to the Promise Giver and Keeper. – “When you draw close to God, God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and let your hearts be filled with God alone to make them pure and true to him” (James 4:8 TLB).

11. Stay in the Word. – The whole Bible “is God’s way of making us well prepared at every point, fully equipped to do good to everyone” (2 Tim. 3:17 TLB).

12. Get to work. – “Be strong and courageous and get to work. Do not be frightened by the size of the task, for the Lord my God is with you; he will not forsake you. He will see to it that everything is finished correctly” (1 Chron. 28:20 TLB).

Run13. Put on the armor and commit to what He is calling you to do – NOW! – “So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I fight to win. I’m not just shadow-boxing or playing around” (1 Cor. 9:26 TLB).

Now you have every grace and blessing;
every spiritual gift and power
for doing his will are yours 
during this time of waiting
for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:7 TLB

Banner 2015 GPCWC

It’s not too late to register for the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philliy Christian Writers Conference. A $15 late fee will automatically be added to your online registration on Thursday, July 23, so do it now. That’s a great motto for writers!

It’s also not too late to request free one-on-one appointments with our facuty of 53 authors, editors, agents, and publicists, but after July 22 you’ll need to schedule your appointments when you arrive. Appointments are 15 minutes long and give you the opportunity to pitch your idea to editors and agents and/or get helpful suggestions from professional authors.

I hope to see you there!

Question Mark Key Shows Doubt And Help
Years ago my beloved friend and mentor, Lee Roddy, admonished me that I was “listening to the wrong voices.”

“Like me, you’re probably all too familiar with those voices that make us question and doubt that God can use us.

Sandy Quandt, a frequent attendee at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference (CDs from our May conference are available), writes,

We allow stuff to hold us back from becoming the person we were created in God’s image to become. We put self-imposed road blocks in the way of the Holy Spirit’s working in us. The shackles bind and restrict, yet we falsely believe we will never break free. . . . I encourage you to read more of Sandy’s powerful message at http://www.sandykirbyquandt.com/take-those-shackles-off.

Barb Haley, the registrar, appointments coordinator, and bookstore manager at the July 29-August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference shares her experience as a first-time conferee at the Colorado conference 16 years ago:

I’m reminded of the time just before my first conference when I didn’t feel like I was really ready to go. I didn’t know if I was a writer, and I felt guilty squandering our money just for a fun trip. Our finances were tight at the time, and I wondered if I were being a good steward of the money God gave us. As the days before the conference ticked off, my anxiety grew. . . . Read more in Rick Marschall’s Monday Morning Music Ministry blog post, “A Mountain-Top Experience Accessible to All” at http://bit.ly/1DvtZ2F. Rick’s blog, birthed at the Colorado conference, has almost 100,000 hits and is reprinted internationally. Rick will teach a workshop on “Blogging Success” at the Philly conference on Saturday, August 1.

I can so identify with Barb’s feelings. My pastor sent me to my first writers’ conference about 40 years ago.Talk about anxiety! I got lost on the way to the conference and felt even more lost once I arrived as it immediately became obvious I was out of my league. If my pastor hadn’t paid for the conference, I wouldn’t have stayed. But I did stay, and that conference changed my life!

There’s still time to register for one or more days of the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference and to request appointments with our faculty. We’ve just added Cheryl Price from Urban Ministries Inc. Also this morning I posted guidelines I thought were already on the website for Blackside Concepts (my goof!) where faculty member Scoti Domeij serves as acquisitions editor. Included in the guidelines is very helpful info on preparing a book proposal. Click Editors for Scoti and Cheryl’s information.

Possible And Impossible Keys Show Optimism And PositivityYou say it’s “impossible.” Friend, nothing is impossible with the Lord! He can provide the time, babysitters, finances – whatever is needed if He wants you to come. Far too often the reason “you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it” (James 4:2 TLB). Remember, He works through people if you will make your need known. If you need time payments, I’m happy to work with you.

As you seek the Lord for His plan for your life and your writing, be encouraged by His promise:

“Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied)
are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him,
who expect and look and long for Him
[for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy,
and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!”
Isaiah 30:18 AMP

Faith rockTrust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

Some of you know that it took five years and rejection slips from 42 editors before the first book I wrote was accepted for publication. Before that I struggled for several years to finish the manuscript. Self-doubts, and to be honest, God-doubts had me close to giving up many, many times.

The “deadly Ds” – disappointment, doubt, discouragement, even despair – were my frequent companions. What kept me keeping on?

  • Promises such as Galatians 6:9: “Let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up” (TLB).
  • The very first words I ever felt the Lord speak to my heart: “Child, I never said it would be easy to follow Me, but I have promised always to be with you.”
  • My husband who has never told me to go get a “real” job even during times when things were really rough financially.
  • My pastor who paid my way to my first writers’ conference and held me accountable afterwards to use what I learned.
  • Friends who year after year babysat my three children so I could go to the St. Davids Christian Writers Conference.
  • The network of writing friends who encouraged me, and Gayle Roper and Anne Sirna who mentored me.

Yes, it took many long, discouraging years but that first book did get in print. The rest – 7 other books, 32 years directing the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference and 19 years directing the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, the 70 conference faculties I’ve been honored to serve on, and my day-long writing seminars that I’ve given around the country over 50 times – are the fruit of abiding in Him and trusting Him to do what I could never do in my own strength. The key really is trust, especially when the deadly Ds threaten to derail me. I’m learning that I am free to trust or to doubt, but when I do not trust, I grieve the Lord.New WHA cover

I want to encourage you not to give up on the manuscript(s) Father is calling you to write and to make registering for the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference a priority. The price increased July 15, but if you mention this blog when you register, I will give you a free copy of my book, Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers. 

  • If the evil one is bombarding you with the deadly Ds, trust the Lord.
  • If the logistics of childcare for your kids seem impossible, trust Him.
  • If you can’t see how to fit the conference in during a summer packed with activity and demands on your time, trust Him.
  • If you need more encouragement to overcome your self-doubts, trust Him and click here.
  • If financially it seems impossible, trust Him. Be bold. Ask family, friends, or your church to help. Apply for a scholarship. Even though it’s past the deadline, I will still consider requests for partial scholarships as well as requests for time payments.

Father God, thank You that You know the plans You have for us and our writing – and that they are good plans. Help us to trust You when we face the deadly Ds. Thank You for all the incredible people You have brought into my life these past 19 years of directing the Colorado Christian Writers Conference and 32 years directing the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. Thank You for all You have done and all You will do as I choose to trust You.

Allen Arnold Nov 2013Donna Brennan
Interviews
Allen Arnold

God’s primary desire isn’t that we write about Him. Or even for Him. It is that we write with Him.


As founder and former Publisher of Thomas Nelson Fiction, Allen Arnold was a strong advocate not just for story, but for the storyteller. He has worked with hundreds of authors and published more than 500 novels in his 20 years in Christian publishing.

Allen’s personal ministry is now to nurture the heart and spirituality of the storyteller. More recently, as Director of Content and Resources at Ransomed Heart Ministry, he has been able to expand his reach to help many others—besides just authors—get closer to God and live the story of their life with an awakened heart.

But he still has a special place in his own heart for the storyteller. That’s why he’s such a popular presenter at Christian writing conferences, and part of the reason he received the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

Allen will be presenting a five-part continuing session at the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference on “The Heart of the Storyteller” as well as a keynote Friday evening, July 31, “Awakening the Writer’s Heart.” I caught up with him to ask him some questions about this session and about his passion for nurturing the hearts of others.

Question: Isn’t it easy to lose track of God in the hustle and bustle of trying to do everything we are told we need to do? Is your session going to help us understand how to keep from getting burnout and still find time to spend with God?

An author recently told me, “It’s easy to sometimes forget why I’m writing in the first place.” And that is so true. We lose ourselves in the blur of deadlines, social media, and daily word counts. We turn to productivity while God longs for our presence. We put our heads down and focus on getting things done for God…instead of realizing we are on a creative playground with God. We ask God to bless our time writing instead of asking what His plans are for our day. We get busy doing rather than being. And when we look up, we find ourselves in a desert. In my sessions, I’ll identify the main “creative deserts” and offer tangible ways to avoid or escape them.

Question: Do you think it’s the enemy that distracts us so much with the busyness of writing and marketing? Or do you think we do it to ourselves?

The answer is both. We have an enemy of the story we are writing AND the story we are living. His goal is not distraction as much as destruction. I believe the enemy has a unique hatred for creative…and will spend time taking readers into why this is and how to overcome his very specific plans to destroy our creativity and our calling. The second element is our own motives. It is easy to make our stories and our success an idol. If that sounds a bit strong, realize this. Whatever we turn to for life is what we worship. So if your validation hinges on success as a writer…you may be more focused on your calling than the One who called you into it. During my sessions, I’ll share how to make your writing an offering – and how to resist the enemy. It’s a two-fold approach.

Question: The nature of writing usually makes it a solitary—and isolating—task. Why can this be dangerous, and what can we do to avoid any pitfalls?

We write in isolation – but we never have to write alone. Because our gifting came with an invitation from God. Not just to create. But to create together. God gave you this talent so you can spend it with Him…as a way to grow closer together. But something happens along the way. The gift overshadows the giver – and aloneness replaces fellowship. Remember this – God’s primary desire isn’t that we write about Him. Or even for Him. It is that we write with Him. When writers discover this truth and learn how to live it, they will never write alone again. That is the whole focus of being in Creative Fellowship with God.

Question: In the description of your continuing session, it talks about discovering “how to live free, write free.” What exactly does that mean?

This phrase is a short-hand way of reminding writers that Jesus came to set us free…and when we are living in His freedom, we can then create in total freedom. Imagine what better stories we can tell when we are writing from an awakened heart and walking with Him through the entire creative process. It is  transformational, but it starts with our lives before it can transform our writing.

Question: The novel I’m working on is fiction, but my life is real. How can getting in touch with my own story—my own life—improve the story that I want to write?

Here is the bottom line – you can’t write a better story than you are living. So to write really powerful stories, you first have to live a really powerful life. Knowing your personal story (it didn’t just begin last week or even last year) allows you to tell better stories. There’s got to be time built into your life for you to be aware of what’s really going on in your heart. Artists are gifted at “seeing the unseen” and then creating. Yet they often overlook their own spiritual health. Writers can focus more on imagined stories than the rhythms of their own life story. We’ll dive into this more – but it’s impossible to offer words with life when your own life is stressed out, dried up, and empty. The discovery is how to live and create from an awakened heart.

Question: Is it more than just a coincidence that you have such a passion for the writer’s heart and the ministry that you’ve been drawn to deals with restoring and nourishing the hearts of God’s people?

Great question! There are no coincidences for those who walk with God. He has invited me into a ministry in Colorado (Ransomed Heart) where the focus is healing broken hearts and setting people free. If that phrase sounds familiar, it is from a passage in Isaiah 61 that Jesus quoted to start His ministry. Two years ago, God told me that my new ministry was going after the hearts of writers. I wish I had done that while I was in publishing for 20 years. I did my best as a publisher to help authors write the best stories and then get them to the broadest possible audience. But I didn’t know how to go after their hearts…probably because I didn’t even know fully how to pursue my own heart at that time. So while being a part of the Ransomed Heart ministry is my full-time role (and I love it!), I also speak and meet with hundreds of writers a year to help them write with God from an awakened heart. It brings me incredible joy to help writers find a way out of the creative desert and into the wildness of creating with God.

Question: What are some of the things you do to revitalize your own heart? How do you get in touch with who God created you to be?

If I don’t spend regular, intimate time with God – I quickly end up in a dry and dusty place. For too long, I thought productivity was the secret to my happiness – the more I got done, the happier I was. But I’ve discovered that God always longs for our presence before our productivity. So what revitalizes my heart is savoring God by just being with Him, reading (for pleasure), playing (with my kids), dreaming big with my wife, and time at the gym. Oh, and salsa. I love salsa.  ;  ).  

Allen, to be quite honest, I didn’t think I was “in need” of your session—I thought I was in touch with my heart and that I had most things pretty much in balance. But after reading a few things short things you’ve written and listening to two online interviews you gave, I realize how far I am from what you are talking about. Your passion for the writer’s spirituality made me realize how much my writing has been becoming a business, and not a calling. I wonder how many other writers, like me, don’t realize how much they need your message. I’m including a link to a PDF of the Keynote you gave at the Christy Awards in 2012.http://www.christyawards.com/ca_new/images/stories/client_pdf/CAPTURED_BY_STORYed.pdf

I think it will inspire a lot of other writers to remember why they are writing, and to actively partner with the One who called them to write.
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Thank you, Donna and Allen, for this thought-provoking interview. Allen welcomes your comments on this blog.

Allen’s Friday evening, July 31, keynote is open free of charge to the community. To register for the conference which includes your choice of 9 workshops from 58 offered and 1 continuing session from 8 offered including Allen’s “Heart of the Storyteller” go to http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/register. The price increases July 16.

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