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Archive for the ‘Overcoming self-doubts’ Category

Faith rockThere are surely no coincidences with the Lord!

Well over a month ago, my pastor asked me to teach Sunday school April 23. “I’d like you to look at the issues around Thomas and his doubting,” Pastor Jay said.

Okay. I could do that. What I didn’t know was how much I needed to do that.

It’s taken the better part of today to pull together my thoughts. A good bit of that time I spent online watching videos of the events surrounding Jesus’ death and Resurrection. I felt the disciples’ pain when Jesus said He was leaving and their despair when He died.

Suddenly Jesus stood among them — alive! But Thomas wasn’t there. Despite the exuberant witness of his friends, Thomas insisted that he would not believe until he saw Jesus face-to-face — until he touched His wounds.

Why did Thomas doubt? I suspect he was too afraid to believe. What if his friends were mistaken? The risk of facing the Deadly Ds that had already threatened to destroy him was just too great. The pain of more disappointment, discouragement, and disillusionment was more than he could handle. It was easier to doubt than to believe.

Scripture assures us:

Those who believe in Christ will never be disappointed.
Romans 10:11 TLB

But do we believe it, really believe it?

Doubts are my frequent companion as I struggle to stay on top of the countless details of directing not one but two Christian writers conferences. I feel inadequate and fearful that I won’t be able to get everything done in time. Despite His faithfulness the past 33 years I’ve directed the Philly conference and the 20 years I’ve directed Colorado, I doubt not Him but myself.

Then once again I’m reminded of the first words I ever felt Him speak to my spirit:

Child, I never promised it would be easy to follow Me,
but I have promised always to be with you.

There are days I long to escape to a place where I have everything under control. But there really is no such place — at least not if I’m to follow where He leads. And such a place would be devoid of the joy of knowing His enabling to do what I can never do in my own strength. So I choose to keep on keeping on, fixing my eyes on Jesus my leader and instructor who for the joy set before Him endured the cross.

What about you? Will you give Him your doubts and step out in faith to do what He is calling you to do?

Lord, when doubts fill my mind,
when my heart is in turmoil,
quiet me and give me renewed hope & cheer.
Psalm 94:19 TLB

P.S. Tradition says that Thomas travelled to India where he established churches and was martyred for his faith. Click here for several powerful scenes from The Life of Jesus, The Gospel of John.

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Do you feel called to “write His answer” and yet struggle with self-doubts?

Truthfully, through working with hundreds of writers through the years, I find that the those who have a message that needs to be published are the ones most likely to be crippled by self-doubts.

I shudder when I think of how many times I almost gave up because my self-doubts were so loud and insistent. Why would anyone want to read what I wrote? What made me think that I could write for the Lord? I wasn’t qualified! How could He possibly use someone who was only a high school graduate? I felt ashamed and woefully inadequate.

cross in sand

How it must have grieved the Lord when I failed to see
that the Cross turns my minus into a plus –
when I believed the lies of the evil one instead of His promises.

And how much time I wasted in my self-centered and selfish focus on my doubts instead of on the needs Father was calling me to address through the words He would give me if I would just trust Him.

I’m so grateful that I didn’t give up despite the deadly Ds of disappointments, doubts, and discouragement. And I continue to thank the Lord for my pastor who sent me to my first writers conference. That was over 40 years ago, and that conference changed my life!

Today I have the privilege and joy of directing not just one but two Christian writers conferences. Registration is now open for the July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, our 34th year of ministry.

The website has not yet been proofread and I still have lots more info to add, but the list of 53 faculty and descriptions of our 20 early bird workshops, 8 continuing sessions, 42 workshops, and 4 clinics are online. Faculty photos, bios, and info on this year’s Teens Write will be coming soon.

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And it’s not too late to register for the May 17-20 Colorado Christian Writers Conference and to request free one-on-one appointments with the faculty of 56 agents, editors, and authors. It’s also not too late to apply for a clinic:

Fiction Clinic with Jim & Tracie Peterson
Nonfiction Book Clinic with Craig Bubeck
Speakers’ Clinic with Roy Hanschke

But do it now! (That’s a great motto for writers who are tempted to procrastinate.) The April 15 price has been extended through today, April 18.

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Father, thank You for the ideas You have planted within us and for holding them and us safely in Your hands. Help us to believe, to really believe in You and the gifts You have entrusted to us and expect us to use to build Your Kingdom.

seedling
God never changes his mind
when he gives gifts
or when he calls someone.

Romans 11:29 GW

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As many of you know, the first book I wrote was “returned” (that’s a kinder word than “rejected”) 42 times over a five-year period. Finally, at the St. David’s Christian Writers Conference the 43rd editor expressed interest. A little over two months later, I signed a contract.

But what if I had not persevered? What if I had concluded that God  obviously must not have called me to write? What if I had given up?

 

  • Eight other books would never have been written or published.
  • I would have never known the joy of serving on the faculty of over 70 Christian writers conferences or giving my one- and two-day Write His Answer Seminars over 50 times across the United States.
  • The Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference that I founded would not be in its 34th year of ministry.
  • I would not have had the opportunity to begin directing the Colorado Christian Writers Conference 21 years ago.

I will always be grateful to my pastor who urged me to go to the St. David’s Christian Writers Conference. He answered my objection that we couldn’t afford it by paying my way. Friends stepped in to  take care of my two children. And the rest, as they say, “is history.”

But this is not about me; it’s about our amazing God who promises:

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

It’s about how He enables me to do what I could never do in my own strength. It’s about how He continues to transform my self-doubts and fear that I won’t measure up (after all, I’m only a high school graduate) into a dependence on Him.

This is my work, and I can do it only because Christ’s mighty energy is at work within me. ~ Colossians 1:29 TLB

So, what about you? If doors appear to be closed, or worse still you feel they have been slammed in your face, will you give Him your discouragement? Will you choose to trust Him? Will you listen to His still, small voice rather than the loud accusations of the evil one that you’re not good enough, smart enough, gifted enough . . . ?

Will you keep on keeping on in His strength for His glory?

Conference Updates

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Registration is open for what I know will be another life-changing conference as Father God meets us on the mountain. http://Colorado.writehisanswer.com

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More than half the faculty is in place. All the keynotes and continuing sessions have been assigned. I’m working to open registration April 1. To get an idea of the structure of the conference go to http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com, but please keep in mind that it still has 2016 information.

New WHA cover
“This book had a profound effect on my life. I have shared it with many folks. Thank you for putting pen to paper and teaching me how to listen for His voice. Bless you!”
                                             Nan Trammell Jones
For 25 years Write His Answer has encouraged writers.  An autographed copy is available for only $10 plus shipping. Click here for excerpts and to order. It is also available as an eBook through Amazon.com.

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I love watching Father work!

Presently (January 14) there are 49 on faculty for the May 17-20, 2017, Colorado Christian Writers Conference with more to be added. So far that includes 6 agents, 18 editors, 14 authors, and 11 other professionals.

I’m working on the brochure and have spent the afternoon beginning the process of updating the website. If we have your USPS address, you will hopefully receive our 16-page brochure by mid-February. I’m working to open secure online registration by February 1.

Pray for me, please. Even though this is my 21st year directing the Colorado conference and 34th year directing the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference it doesn’t get any easier. But then Jesus never promised following Him would be easy. What He has promised is always to be with us. We can trust that what He calls us to do, He will equip us to do.

I cling to His promises as the challenge of planning two conferences often threatens to overwhelm me and make me doubt I have what it takes. The hardest part, the same as with writing a book, is getting started. Well, finishing what we start is tough, too!

Do you feel called to “write His answer” and yet struggle with self-doubts? Truthfully, through working with hundreds of writers through the years, I find that those who really have a gift with words and a message that needs to be published are the ones most likely to be crippled by self-doubts.

I shudder when I think of how many times I almost gave up writing because my self-doubts were so loud and insistent. Why would anyone want to read what I wrote? What made me think that I could write for the Lord? I wasn’t qualified! How could He possibly use someone who was only a high school graduate? I felt ashamed and woefully inadequate.

How it must have grieved the Lord when I failed to see that the Cross turns my minus into a plus – when I believed the lies of the evil one instead of His promises. And how much time I wasted in my self-centered and selfish focus on my doubts instead of on the needs Father was calling me to address through the words He would give me if I would just trust Him.

Today I was reminded of the November 2010 ASSIST News interview, “Author of End Times Political Thriller Hits New York Times Best Seller List with His Latest Middle Eastern Novel.” Talking about the decision to write his first novel, Joel Rosenberg said:

Failure has a way of focusing the mind and I’d come off of ten years of political failure in Washington DC and I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m a Rosenberg, yet I am not a lawyer, a dentist, a doctor, an acupuncturist, a chiropractor, an accountant or even a stockbroker.

I’ve got no financial genes and I can’t do anything practical. I write ‘Op-Eds’ that people don’t read. I write speeches people don’t listen to; the only thing I know how to do is write and clearly badly. But these are my loaves and fishes and I don’t want to be a failure; I want to be a blessing.

So, I told the Lord, ‘I want to be a servant of yours, Lord Jesus, so could you take these loaves and fishes, limited though they be, and would you break them, and bless them, and somehow feed people with them.’

It was then that I got this idea of writing a political thriller; a Middle East-based terrorism story that would have the Gospel woven into it. I wanted it, as readers got deeper into the book, to see the spiritual temperature rise. But the problem was that I didn’t know how to write a novel as I’d never written one before. I’d never even taken a class on writing a novel and I didn’t even like to read novels. So that was a problem.”

Click here to read the rest of the interview. You’ll be encouraged.

New WHA cover
Are you struggling to see Father at work in your life? Are you battling self-doubts, writer’s block, rejection slips, procrastination? My book, Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers, has 33 chapters of answers I found during my journey of publishing 9 books and making over 1,000 sales to Christian periodicals. And to my amazement it’s been in print for 25 years! Click here for excerpts and ordering info.


Father, thank You for calling us to do what seems impossible and for Your faithfulness to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond as we choose to listen to You and not to our doubts.

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Yes, I’m trusting Father will enable me to pull the Philly conference together, too. About half of the faculty is in place.

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Faith rockHave you been feeling overwhelmed lately? I have.

Two weeks ago we discovered mold in our bathroom from a leak hidden behind the shower wall. “How much is this going to cost?” I asked contractors, electricians, and plumbers.

In the midst of all this, I spent a day at the courthouse waiting to hear if I had been selected for a trial they anticipated would last six days. Thank You, Father, that I was not chosen! And thank You our USAA homeowner’s insurance covered $2,464 of the repairs after initially telling us it was doubtful we’d get anything. We’re still out over $2,000 with our deductible and work not covered, but it could have  been much more costly.

Stressful? Yes! Time consuming? You bet! On Friday our home was a scene out of ET with plastic sheeting from floor to ceiling between our bathroom and front door. Today the walls go back up, tomorrow the tile, and Thursday the grouting of the shower walls.

Tomorrow I’ll also spend over an hour in the dentist chair for a root canal of a top front tooth that is abscessing from tripping up one step and falling on a ceramic moose over a month ago. More unexpected expense, but thank You, Father, for helping me find a dental plan that will cover some of the cost.

So, yes, I’m feeling overwhelmed especially with the need to get the May 17-20 Colorado and July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conferences planned. I’ve finally got the spreadsheet of prospective faculty updated, but with over 450 names I’m even more overwhelmed.

The bottom line? Despite 33 years directing the Philly conference and 20 years directing the one in Colorado, the evil one is again pulling me down into the quicksand of self-doubt. And I’m feeling especially anxious this week with the need to sign the contract and pay the $2,500 booking fee for the 2019 (yes,  you read that correctly) Colorado conference.

I’m again experiencing a “crisis of confidence.” Perhaps you are too.

If a crisis of confidence is holding you back from the work you know you have been called to do, it’s time to acknowledge that it’s not self-confidence you need (and I need) but God-confidence. It’s time to learn what it means “to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power, instead of showing off [our] own power and abilities” (2 Cor. 12:9 TLB). And instead of running from opportunities to serve the Lord, we need to continue to focus on the “firm, tested, precious Cornerstone that is safe to build on. He who believes need never run away again” (Isa. 28:16 TLB).

Fear of failure, rejection, writer’s block, or not measuring up, can all create a paralyzing crisis of confidence. Read and reflect on the following antidotes to fear, noting how God is personally speaking to you.

Psalm 9:10
Psalm 16:8
Psalm 25:3
Psalm 34:4
Isaiah 41:10
Philippians 1:6
1 John 4:18
___________

New WHA coverHow is God speaking to you through these passages?

I’ve devoted a chapter in my book, Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers, to the “Crisis of Confidence.” You’ll find it and several other chapters on my website at http://bit.ly/2h1qgs2.

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This morning I needed to re-read the poem my friend, Sue Cameron, gave me years ago. While “Words” was a gift to me, I suspect you may also need to read this. Father, help us to choose to listen only to Your words.

WORDS

Is there anything more powerful?
To heal, to hurt,
to destroy?
Words in my mind—accusing me,
dragging me down
into guilt and helplessness.
Words from outside—attacking me,
tearing at the fragile image of who I am and hope to be.
I struggle under their heavy weight
and fear I’ll suffocate.

Not all words are true, but they feel true.
Some are lies wrought in the basement of hell,
sent to defeat those who march in the army of God.
My Leader warned me of such warfare,
so subtle and hard to detect.
A sudden attack strips my defenses.
Wounded, bleeding,
I am left to die.
Now my fate depends on
to whom I choose to listen.
To the liar,
or to my Leader.

His Word consoles and strengthens me,
binding my pain and wrapping me in acceptance.
He does not condemn me in my weakness,
or require me to run on broken legs.
He asks only that I listen to him
and believe what he says.
His truth banishes falsehoods
and sets me free.

Living on the battlefield isn’t kind and gentle;
it is demanding and stretching.
I must often pause and ask myself,
To whose voice do I listen?
And in whose voice do I speak?

(c) Sue Cameron, 1993. Excerpted from Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers by Marlene Bagnull.

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Faith rock“Do you believe God can use you?” I asked in my last post.

It’s a question I also ask myself on days when doubts threaten to overwhelm me. I don’t doubt Him. I know He is faithful. It’s self doubts fueled by the accusations of the accuser that I struggle to overcome.

How can I – how can you – overcome the self-doubts that hold us back from experiencing the  victory that faith brings?

 

 

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

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

3. Change your 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. Renew your vision. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18 KJV).

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

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

7. Don’t reinforce your doubts. “But I’m not the person for a job like that” (Ex. 3:11 TLB).

8. Refuse to fall 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. Stop procrastinating and persist. “Dreaming instead of doing is foolishness, and there is ruin in a flood of empty words” (Eccl. 5:7 TLB)

10.Draw near to the Promise 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).

13Put 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

Marty poster for web

It’s not too late to register for the August 3-6 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference and to request free one-on-one appointments. But the price increases tomorrow, July 25. None of the workshops or continuing sessions are closed. Lodging on campus is still available.If you need time payments or some scholarship help, please ask. And choose to believe that if the Lord wants you to come, He will make a way.

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