A Christian Writer’s Duty

“What is my purpose in life?”

We see that question, or variations of it, a lot, don’t we? What is our purpose? Is there more to life? Why are we here?

For the Christian, those are easily answered. The Bible holds the answers.

I want to address is a chip off something that has been burdening me for a long time. The Christian writing community is becoming noticeably darker as it strays from the narrow path and eagerly jumps onto the bandwagons of incorrect theology, no theology, and just “clean” books. We also are seeing an infestation of sexual incorporation–scenes that are not okay for a Christian book to contain. We are watching profanity sail right on in and being accepted with open arms (after all, criminals don’t use dang it, come back here, you irritating gnat, and similar “clean” expressions, you know. How plebeian to incorporate those.). And, last I heard, a class is being offered at an upcoming well-known Christian writer conference. A class on how to write for the secular market and still be accepted into a Christian publishing house.

Fellow Christian writers, we have a calling. We are to have standards–Biblical standards. We are the be the light. We are to exude our faith. We are to look different. Our actions, words, and stories should make nonbelievers pause and wonder what’s different about us.

We’re supposed to be different. We’re supposed to be “odd”. We’re supposed to go against the worldly grain.

Are we being different? Odd? Going against the flow?

As a whole, no.

Do not misunderstand me. There are plenty of solid Christian writers and they’re pumping out books that contain strong faith, Biblical romance, and plots that point the reader to God.

It is easy to lend ear to the world’s lies. It is easy to buy the falsehoods offered. In fact, you would make more money and gain more popularity if you wrote for the secular market. It’s a given.

But that’s not the path we’re to take.

That’s not the direction we’re to go.

Christian writers, we have a calling. Our purpose is to use our characters, plots, stories, and words to convey the Gospel. Not to tickle itching ears. Not to cater to the secular market. We are to stand strong. We are to be bold and courageous in spreading the Good News.

We have other duties as Christian writers as well. Those are to convey true theology, Biblical entertainment, and to be the lights amidst a dark, dark world.

I saw a section where an author was speaking about their new book. In this section, the author admitted to including profanity, but backtracked by stating the profanity wasn’t meant to be profane.

Let me tell you something: the justification of wrongdoing can never change the wrongdoing’s purpose and/or intent. It does not make profanity “clean”, it does not make sex scenes “okay to read because I don’t mean it in a bad way”. Wrong is wrong and right is right, and no amount of earthly attempts to cover the sin can actually blot out what it really is.

We cannot be lights if we include agnosticism, theological evolution, and repulsively-incorrect theological claims (we do NOT have the power to raise the dead; we do NOT see into Heaven no matter what; we do NOT see God (how arrogant such a belief is!)). Allow me to convey a truth that is not very popular these days. You don’t get special revelations. You don’t “receive prophecies”. You’re not the “next prophet”. THOSE DAYS ARE LONG OVER, and they ended with Paul. Those claims are unBiblical. Don’t believe me? Look. In. The. Bible. It is the ultimate source of truth. It is the only source of truth.

We are to write stories that honor God. That list of incorrect theology above? Yeah. No. That is not God-honoring. Including romantic scenes that go beyond polite descriptions of kissing? Nope. That’s not God-honoring either. Including profanity? Absolutely not. Doesn’t matter how you “mean it” or if it’s “in the appropriate context” (this is another post altogether). Including bedroom scenes? Ha. No. Fade-to-blacks? Nope.

My point is we cannot be the light when we blend in with the dark. Christian writers, please, please abstain from these worldly inclusions! We will receive ridicule because we’re different. Because the truth offends those who are perishing. We will receive backlash. We won’t sell as many books. We won’t be the biggest names in the writing market.

But that’s okay.

Because our purpose is not to write for worldly and secular accolades.

Our purpose is to write for God. To point others to Him.

We cannot do that when we are courting the world.

Recall Philippians 4:8: “[W]hatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”.

The world’s passions and desires and profanity do not fit within this command.

Remember 2 Timothy 2:15? “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

We are not rightly handling the word of truth when we advocate wretchedly false theology.

We are not doing our due diligence as Christ followers when we include profanity of any type (this includes the “minors”, and certainly extends to the major scratch-out words.)

We are misleading others when we paint sexual scenes.

Christian writer, your duty is not to please the world. It is to honor God, and you can’t do that when you’re catering to the world.

Our actions are mirrors of what is within us. Are your actions wholesome and God-honoring? Or do they resemble the world?

Our duty is to spread the Word, to proclaim the Gospel, and to shine so brightly there is no question in anyone’s mind Whose children we are.

Please don’t be afraid to stand for your faith. Please don’t be ashamed to incorporate it in your books. Don’t be afraid to stand alone with the truth when everyone else is pursuing secular paths. And don’t be ashamed or afraid to leave the world and it’s version of entertainment behind.

Let’s come back from “Christian” fiction to Christian fiction.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 1


Leadership: Your Writing Influence, Part Two – A Reminder for Writers

Last week I discussed the influence we, as writers, hold over others. Like it or not, that puts us in a leadership position. Whether you blog, write books, or do both, you are a leader. Your writing holds influence. Whether your platform is massive or has ten followers, you are a leader. People read your words.

And your words hold power over others.

The Bible is clear about the ramifications of leadership failure. Matthew 18:6 says, “[W]hoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea”.

Yes, leaders have it hard, and God will hold us to higher standards because we possess the potential to lead others astray. Let me be clear on this: we have no control over those who follow us. We cannot control what they believe, say, or do. If they’re nasty, that’s not on us. What this speaks of is knowingly encouraging others to follow or believe that which is contrary to God’s word.

With all this pressure – not matter your platform’s size – how can we be good leaders? As writers, we won’t necessarily be physically meeting in groups and giving grand speeches that will captivate our listeners and followers, but our written words hold just as much power.

Perhaps even more.

So, with this unavoidable role of influence, how can we be good leaders? Here are nine ways.

ONE: Be Wise as Serpents and Innocent as Doves

The beginning of this verse says, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves”. How true this is. We are lights amidst darkness. Voices of truth amongst lies.

As writers who lead others (whether intentionally or unintentionally), we are to be wise, calculating, and always on guard. Where I live, rattlesnakes abound. Since you can’t carry a shovel around everywhere you go and firing guns in city limits is illegal, one must to be on guard, alert, and aware when walking the paths, fishing, traipsing through brush and field, or preparing to go out on the lake.

Likewise, we must be alert and prepared for the enemy’s schemes.

These schemes come in all shapes and forms, including people. The agendas pushed by culture and society are lies. Anything that goes against the Bible is of Satan. Anything. Most come in acronyms, abbreviations, or symbols; some of these symbols are stolen from the Bible. It’s impossible not to have at least one of these things come to mind, since they’re so rampant and have easily ravaged some of the Church and taken it captive. Some of the well-known music groups played often on Christian radio are either off the narrow path or heretical altogether (three of the main ones are listed in Your Writing Influence, Part One). Same goes for many of the well-known preachers and teachers, some of whom are also listed in the aforementioned post.

Keep in mind Colossians 2:8: See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

That is what to guard against. It’s not an easy task, and can be wearying, but we can do so by being wise. The Bible has much to say regarding wisdom, and much of it comes from King Solomon. Here are some of the multitude of verses:

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her […] She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed. – Proverbs 3:13-18

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,  making the best use of the time. – Ephesians 5:15-16a

Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. – Proverbs 3:7

The wise man seeks understanding, watches how he walks and conducts himself, and fears the Lord. Wisdom is invaluable; there is no earthly treasure that can compare to wisdom’s worth. This is why it is so important we seek wisdom, dear writers. Not only for our followers’ sake, but ours, as well. We do not seek it in selfish attempts to gain worthless knowledge or so we might somehow reap a blessing from such a false act. We seek it because we desire knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, which God, in His mercy and grace, will give us when we seek with pure, honest hearts.

Though seeking wisdom, we will gain wisdom. God will open our hearts and eyes and to the wolves who shroud themselves in “Christian” attire.

Seeking wisdom will also increase our understanding of God’s Word. When others are following you, this is mandatory. We use allegories, Bible stories, Bible verses, and Biblical themes in our books and blogs. We best know what they really mean.

This will allow us to become innocent as doves – leading our followers with the best intentions, which can only come from a humble heart and knowledge of God’s Word. We will be able to turn our backs on what is evil and embrace what is good, which encourages our followers to do the same.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. – Proverbs 9:10

Leadership Skill: Wisdom

TWO: Learn from Biblical Leaders.

The best leadership examples are found in the Bible. Before I get to that list, here are some wonderful Christian leaders, both alive and dead, we can learn from. Remember: Hold everything and everyone to the Bible, no matter if that person is a respected figure of faith.

John MacArthur and Vodie Bachmann, two current leaders who are unafraid to stand against culture’s lies. Pastors Gabriel Hughes, Tom Buck, and Tommy Nelson are three others.

Polycarp, Justin Martyr, and the uncountable number of persecuted Christians who held firm to their faith even though they could escape painful death if they renounced it. Wycliffe, Huss, Amy Carmichael, George Whitfield, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, and so many others who boldly proclaimed God’s Word. Some of them died for it.

The Biblical leaders include: Deborah; Joshua; Jonathan (my favorite); David; Peter;James; John; Paul; Daniel (another favorite); Hannaniah, Mishael, and Azariah (also known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendago); and both major and minor prophets.

Like Deborah, lead even when others are hesitant. Like Joshua, pledge your faith and allegiance to God alone. Like Jonathan, obey God over man no matter the consequences. Like David, go where God leads you. Like the apostles, stay strong in the truth and take God’s Word to heart. Like Daniel and the three, realize God puts us where we are for a reason. And, like the prophets, speak truth with boldness and assurance, even if it goes against popular opinion.

There are many more I could list. Some of these attributes come more naturally to us than others, and that’s okay. If we study those who came before us, we can learn how to be effective leaders walking in the light. Not only will it strengthen your walk with God, it will encourage and bless your readers, as well.

My son, do not forget my teaching,
    but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
    and peace they will add to you.
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
    bind them around your neck;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success
    in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:1-6

Leadership Skill: Attributes of a Godly leader.

THREE: Be a Berean.

“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” – Acts 17:11.

Compare everything to Scripture. Take nothing anyone says, no matter how trusted, for granted. Do not assume they speak truth. This goes for any blogger (myself included), writer, author, teacher, leader, and whoever else is in a leadership position.

Question everything.

Question everyone.

Question every word you hear, every word you sing, every word you speak, every word you read.

When we follow the example of the Bereans, which is not always easy to do, we fortify our hearts, minds, and faith against the enemy’s attacks. This requires knowledge of the Bible and being in constant prayer. When we do this, we run less risk of leading our followers astray.

For more on the Bereans, check out this post.

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. – Philippians 1:9-10

Leadership Skill: Discernment.

FOUR: Be Humble.

I’m going to be blunt. If you’re tempted to think, by your own merit and abilities, you’ve acquired such a grand following, published a book (or many), or are well-known in the writing/blogging communities, don’t.

On your own, you’re not that good.

It is through God’s grace we have this ability to write and weave words. It is through God’s grace we have the following we have. Ten, fifty, one hundred, doesn’t matter. It’s all from God.

Our words, this way of reaching the world for Him, is a gift, and not one we gave ourselves.

We’re human. We screw up. We ruin everything despite our best attempts. There’s no way we would succeed if not for God. Remember, pride comes before a fall. Destruction follows a haughty spirit. We would destroy our writing career if not for God.

Besides, who likes an arrogant leader? They take all the credit for themselves and never give credit where it’s due. They thank no one. They believe they’re the king of their little writing mountain. Such negative attributes drive away followers and, in turn, dwindle sales and platform size.

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. – 1 Corinthians 10:12

Leadership Skill: Humility.

FIVE: Ask Questions.

One thing I love about the four-though-six-year-old age group is they ask questions. With eagerness. With the expectation they’ll be answered. And if they aren’t they’ll ask, and ask, and ask until they get their answer. They’re ready to learn. Everything is a wonder, a marvel.

Fellow writers, we need to be like this. Be eager to learn from the writers and authors who have paved the path for us. Get in social media writing groups. Take classes and courses. Right now, I’m in the King’s Daughters Writing Camp, and it’s amazing, the knowledge others have. Take advantage of those who know more than you do (and there will always be someone smarter and more knowledgeable than you).

When we ask questions, we learn. Our followers likely have knowledge we don’t yet possess. When they see us asking questions – those they think are doing well in their blogging/writing careers – they are encouraged to do so as well. Show your followers you too are human and have things to learn.

I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies! – Psalm 119:125

Leadership Skill: The necessity of learning.

SIX: Be a Mentor

I’m not saying put aside everything to answer questions from younger writers/bloggers. Instead, when you see a writer post a question on social media, answer it to the best of your ability. Even if you aren’t published yet, chances are you have more experience than they do. Be willing to impart the knowledge you’ve gained.

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance. – Proverbs 1:5

Leadership Skill: Mentoring

SEVEN: Conduct Yourself in a Manner Worthy of Your Calling

Every writer will stumble across an article, blog post, or social media post they disagree with. When this happens, we need to remember Who we represent. If you decide to refute the post, do so in a kind, Godly manner. We are lights amidst darkness, fellow writers, but we do not shine when we lower ourselves to the world’s standards and take on their methods of disagreement. Our readers are watching how we respond.

A Christian conservative author posted a political post on social media last year. Though fiery and staunch, she was respectful in the way she worded and supported her beliefs. Several commenters politely and respectfully disagreed. Another author came along, got offended, and blasted this author. Many of the this author’s readers saw her method of response; as a result, the author’s platform shrank and the amount of loyal readers diminished. The issue wasn’t that she disagreed, it was how she reacted. She lost them due to her hateful response.

Disagreeing is fine. Civil discourse over disagreement is healthy. It is when we embrace knee-jerk reactions and follow the world’s standard that we fall into the wrong. When you disagree with someone and deem it necessary to respond, do so in a Christlike manner. Gently, but firmly, lay out your argument. Provide facts from reputable sources. We need to refute topics like abortion and LGBTQ and others that directly call for immorality contrary to God’s Word. We cannot cower from stating the truth simply because we fear societal and cultural retribution. We must do this in an upstanding way: direct, gentle, unflinching, resolute, and armed with God’s Truth. They need to see we are different from the rest.

Do not sacrifice truth for peace, your testimony for worldly acceptance, and your conscience for fitting in with the crowd.

There are many topic to disagree on, and you’ll never fully agree with anyone. We need to handle disagreement in a way that provides truth and points to Whom we serve and follow.

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. – Psalm 141:3

For I am not ashamed of the gospel. – Romans 1:16a

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love. – Ephesians 4:1-2

Leadership Skill: Civility

EIGHT: Remember to Whom Your Writing Belongs

Our writing – the words we weave, the tales we tell, and the posts we create – is not our own. It belongs to God, the one who granted us the love of writing. Before you apply fingertips to keyboard or pencil to paper, give your writing to God. As Him to give you the words that need writing, the message that needs sharing. This not only strengthens our walk and faith, but helps us craft our writing according to God’s Word. We need to write in truth, and we can only do that when we focus our attention on Christ. When we do this, we lessen the risk of leading others astray.

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. – Proverbs 16:3

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. – Isaiah 26:3

Leadership Skill: Surrendering Control

NINE: Let Your Light Shine

Remember the song, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine”? That is our ultimate goal, dear writers. To glorify our Creator and let our lights shine against the world’s darkness. Delve into the Word so that the words we speak may point to Him and our actions brand us Christians. Be strong in your message. Be unafraid to proclaim the greatness of our Lord and Savior. Be bold in spreading truth.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5: 14-16

Walk as children of light. – Ephesians 5:8

That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. – Philippians 2:15-16

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5

Leadership Skill: Boldness

We writers are leaders. Whether you like it or not, your writing influences others. It is not an easy task, but it is a gift God has given you. Hold fast to truth. Stand firm in the faith. Be a beacon, drawing others in as they see the difference between us and the world. Pray for guidance. Walk in assurance and confidence that “the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe” (Deuteronomy 10:17).

Be fearless in leading, dear writer.

As we conclude this segment of “A Reminder for Writers”, I want to leave you with these verses to chew on and gain assurance and comfort from:

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7

Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! – 1 Chronicles 16:11

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8


Part One: Your Writing Future

Part Two: Your Writing Influence, Part One

Your Writing Influence, Part One – A Reminder for Writers Part Two

“I figured since you listened to it, it’s fine.”

That sentence, so casually spoken by my younger sister, made my stomach drop. True, the song was fine. The artist was fine. But it was a brutal reminder I am always being watched. Studied. Emulated. I’m always influencing.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been in some form of leadership, whether it’s being a big sister; coaching my sister’s soccer team or playing on volleyball, basketball, or soccer teams myself; somehow being the one those in my homeschool group assumed was the leader; being the one friends talked to and sought advice from regarding topics ranging from boys to potentially life-threatening struggles; the one whose shoulder friends cried on; and the one whom my sisters’ friends looked and listened to during the homeschool co-op days.

More so, my sister always watches. Listening how I react when I’m impatient, angry, frustrated, tense, or in dealing with those I dislike. Watching how I approach, deconstruct, and argue against the unending slew of unbiblical causes and ideas the world pushes in our faces and demands we accept. Seeing what I watch, read, say, and listen to.

Dear writer, maybe you aren’t a leader. Maybe you’re content being the one who follows that person leading the charge and shouting the battle cry. Maybe you don’t want to be a leader. The thought of people watching your every move and listening to your every word, the thought of people placing you in a high enough position that your actions and deeds influence them may give you chills or make you nauseous. That’s okay. The world needs both leaders and followers.

But, fellow writer, though you may not be too keen on being a leader – or even if the thought doesn’t bother you – there’s a serious reality check you must realize.

You are a leader.

You are being watched.

Your words and the things and topics you advocate for and advise against are influencing others.

Whether you blog, write books, or do both, you are a leader. Your writing holds influence. Whether your platform is massive or has ten followers, you are a leader. People read your words.

With the written word, we influence others. Just think about the authors and bloggers that influence you. Do you hang on their every word? Devour what they write? I can guarantee you’ve been influenced in some way by their books, blogs, or social media posts.

Just as we are influenced by the written word, so do we influence others.

The thought of just one person being influenced by our writing can be both thrilling and terrifying. That’s why it’s so important to comprehend our influence. Not how far it reaches, or how powerful it is, for regardless of which end you are on, you still influence. No, comprehending influence is coming to the realization that we have the ability to alter lives, thoughts, actions, views, and hearts.

Leadership is not easy. It’s gritty, hard, and requires we watch what we say and do. With one word, whether written or verbal, we can change a life. With one action, whether seen or mentioned in a post or blog, we encourage others to do as we do.

The Bible is clear about the ramifications of leadership failure. Matthew 18:6 says, “[W]hoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea”.

Christ is speaking of causing children to stumble, but the point is clear. If we cause others to stumble and sin, it’d be better to have a millstone around our neck and drown. Look up a millstone. The best swimmer or the world’s strongest man couldn’t swim with one of those things around their neck.

The Bible also says in James 3:1, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly”.

Yes, leaders have it hard, and God will hold us to higher standards because we possess the potential to lead others astray. Let me be clear on this: we have no control over those who follow us. We cannot control what they believe, say, or do. If they’re nasty, that’s not on us. What this speaks of is knowingly encouraging others to follow or believe that which is contrary to God’s word.

To this I must issue a solemn warning: be careful who/what you recommend. How can our writing influence others for the truth when we ourselves are lead astray?

In this age of internet, technology, hand-held devices, and speakers, teachers, and organizations galore, we are bombarded with words and falsehoods disguised as truth. Unfortunately, not everyone or every group beneath the Christian umbrella is as they claim to be. Remember these verses:

And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.” – Matthew 24: 11

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” – 2 Peter 2:1-3

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

These are but a few reminders that not everyone who says they’re a Christian really is. We cannot see the hearts of men, nor declare in general who is and who is not saved, but we can get a pretty good idea on those who are wolves in sheep’s wool based on their actions. Namely, what they preach, who they elevate and join with, and what they do.

Consider who and what influences you. What do they say? What do they do? Who do they recommend deserves your following based on who they link hands with?

We need to be careful, fellow writers. We influence others, yes, but one source of influence must come from another. How and what we influence others with springs from who and what influences us.

Matthew 7:13-14 speaks of two gates, one wide and one narrow. The wide one leads to destruction, but is traversed by many. The narrow one leads to life, but is entered by few. There are many so-called Christian groups and organizations who, unfortunately, have not entered the narrow gate. Now, recall what I said above. Only God knows if someone is saved, but we can get a decent idea if they are or aren’t based on their actions.

There are many who do not align with God and His word. The following groups and names are but a few of those who, regrettably, do not align with God. Be wary of the songs they sing and the messages they speak.

  • Elevation Worship
  • Bethel
  • Hillsong
  • Cory Asbury
  • Joyce Meyer
  • Beth Moore
  • Andy Stanley
  • The Gospel Coalition
  • Tim Keller
  • JD Grear
  • Rick Warren
  • Priscilla Shrier
  • Todd White

Please, do not take my word for it. One quality of a good leader is to go to the source and investigate for themselves. Research these individuals and organizations. Protestia and Reformation Charlotte have some good articles about false teachers and heretics.

There are many secular groups that demand we adhere to their unbiblical views as well. It’s okay to allow secular influences influence you, but be cautious. Be very cautious. Many organizations/groups/whatever-other-categories-they-fall-into are not okay. Some may look like it on the surface, but you don’t need to dig very deep to understand they’re antiBible, antiGod, and antifaith.

Be careful. Not all that is popular is good. When we take what someone or a group says as truth, and forego being a Berean, we run the weighty risk of letting that influence us. It leaks into our writing, thereby leading others astray. And, as we saw in the aforementioned verses, it is not a good thing if we lead others astray.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”. Dear writers, if our hearts are tainted, through our writing we will taint others.

Leading is scary, especially when you didn’t ask to be put in that position. But we shouldn’t be afraid to lead. Our words can bless, guide, and influence others for the better. As I’ve contemplated this post, it has occurred to me that writing is an extension of the writer’s heart. What we believe, struggle with, hate, love, and hold dear will emerge. Readers will pick up on that and be influenced by it. We must guard our own hearts and minds, for by doing so we can help others guard theirs.

We will not be perfect leaders. We will not be perfect writers. We cannot control who follows us, who we influence. But if we focus on keeping our writing centered around God and His Truth, we need not worry about leading others astray. Take encouragement in that, and do not be afraid to influence others.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include at least one song. Why? Because Madi is a music freak and believes songs can teach valuable lessons and provide oft-needed reminders.

In “Lions” by Skillet, John Cooper sings, “We’re not waiting for permission/We defy our inhibition/ Like our middle name is “fearless”/ Unafraid“.

Fellow writers, be fearless. Be unafraid. Realize God has given you the honor of influencing others for His glory. Charge ahead in your writing. Be courageous and bold as you write for Him.

You have these words, this desire to write, for a reason. Use them. Pray for God’s will to be revealed. And, above all else, dedicate your writing to Him. He will guide you and your writing journey. Write every word according to truth, according to the Bible.

Next week, Lord willing, I will have Part Two of this up about how to be a leader. If you have thoughts to add, experience or wisdom to contribute, questions about the false teachers/heretics listed above, questions about other artists or groups, or just want to discuss the struggle of knowing you influence others (or, if you just want to discuss life in general), I’d love to connect and talk with you. Let’s encourage each other as we walk together and strive to write for Him.


Your Writing Future

Your Writing Future – A Reminder for Writers, Part One

“I don’t know what my writing future holds.”

This is a paraphrase of what I’ve seen several of my blogging friends say. It echoes something I too often feel and face: uncertainty regarding my writing future. At times, it gets so bad I allow this fear of the unknown, this uncertainty, to dictate what and how I write. Numerous stories are currently abandoned because I didn’t think they were good enough. When I sit down and place my fingers on the keyboard, I have to fight the questions often lingering in the back of my mind. Is this book any good? Will I actually finish this one? What if I receive another rejection? What if permanent writer’s block hits and I can’t get past it? What if it’s just a sloppy, weak story overall? It’s nothing like the books I love and have on my shelves.

These questions are crippling, and I know many writers have faced them head-on and lost, myself included. Since reading a friend’s post a few days ago, this has been on my heart. This post might be rough and might seem like I’m inundating you with verses and songs, and am rambling all over the place, but I’m praying I can transfer what I’ve been ruminating on into clear paragraphs and sentences so those of you who struggle with this can find help and encouragement as we travel this road together.

Not knowing can be nebulous, unsettling, and stressful. It can cause fear and that sinking feeling in your stomach as you contemplate the unknown. We bear this burning passion to write, to create, to weave stories and tales that touch others, but that passion comes with the crippling kryptonite we know as fear.

Oh, it may not feel like fear at first, but that is the root of it. Fear of what we do not know. Fear that our writing may go nowhere. Fear that our writing career will sink before it ever sets sail. We long to know that what we’re doing today will make a difference tomorrow. That these words emerging from the depths of our hearts, souls, and minds will bless others.

We humans are foolishly silly. We think we can control the future. Doing so would be nice, we think, being able to decide when we finish our books, how popular they’ll be, and how our writing careers will go. That stems from a desire to control, which is a branch from the tree of fear. Not knowing the future unsettles us. We want to reach out and create our future like we create the worlds we write. We want tie it in a nice bow and place it in a safe only we can access – all because we want things to go our way. How we want them to. We don’t want to question, to wonder, what tomorrow, the next week, and year, and the next decade will bring. We want to know in advance so we can plan.

In that desire, we derail ourselves. We get off the track we need to be on and crown ourselves queen or king of our writing future.

Reality check: we’re not. The crown we wear is one of our own making. It is superficial and, ultimately, will lead us nowhere.

I’ve donned my crown many times, thinking by my writing ability alone will I succeed, will I impress a publisher or acquisitions editor. I forget to align my heart with the One who created it. I forget that He was the one who gave me this desire to write. I forget that only though His will will I ever publish a book.

On the other hand, a crippling fear and anxiety can grip my heart. I’m not good enough. What if I fail? Will I no longer have a chance at success? It’s an odd dichotomy, this rancid pride and this debilitating fear of what the future may hold.

I’m the type who likes to control everything. I like everything neatly organized and where it should be. Heaven help the soul who dares mess up the order of things. Because of this, I want to control my writing future. When I can’t foresee what will happen, or where my writing is going, that fear rises. When I think I have a decent WIP, that pride reemerges.

In my effort to reassure myself I can do this, I place a chain on my writing. I hinder it by my inane delusions that Madisyn is the one who can do it all by herself. Help? Pft. What an alien concept. No assistance needed, God. I’m a big girl. I can do this alone. Or I contemplate quitting writing or dis the idea I”m working on. The idea of claiming the title of author is so far out of reach it feels like it’ll never come to fruition.

Either way, I’m leaning on myself. I’m relying on my tenuous grasp on the future. I’m trying to pave my own path and am ignoring that God’s plan might be different than mine.

It brings to mind Anthem Lights’ song “Follow Your Heart”. Our own way is nothing compared to God’s.

Fellow writers, why, oh why do we reject the unarguable truth that the One who gave us this desire to write will not fail in providing us a future for writing? Whether we think we, with our all-so-mighty-and-incredible plans, can conquer every writing obstacle with ease, or we doubt and question and fear our writing future, we’re brushing aside the truth. We can’t do this alone.

A big part of this is that we hesitate to give Him everything. Do we doubt He can bear it all? Do we think it’s too much for Him? Or do we simply struggle through the mire created by our futile attempts to blaze our own paths?

Think about the following verse and the lyrics of the next song:

We can make all the plans we want, but God determines our steps. Why is it so difficult place our writing into the hands of the One who holds the stars?

An image of Gollum comes to mind. That ugly creature hunched over the ring and obsessing over it, or even just after Smeagol killed Deagol for it, and is stroking the ring and whispering, “My precious”. We’re a lot like Gollum. We hunch over our writing, clutching it to our chests while hissing at God, “Mine. My precious”.

That’s not who I want to resemble.

Another big part in this is fear of the unknown. If we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t like not knowing what’s going to happen. We see this throughout the millenniums. Humanity has tried numerous methods – all wrong and antiBiblical – to ascertain the future: Fortune tellers; astrology; sacrifices to the gods in exchange for knowledge of what was to come. Humanity is driven with the need to know the future, and we collectively will do anything to get that knowledge.

Not knowing is scary. It can be nebulous and encases our hearts and minds in fear’s choke hold. This is natural, to an extent. But when we allow fear to become even a slight whisper in the back of our minds, we give it a foothold in our writing.

Not knowing the future feels like you’re wandering along, alone, on a mist-shrouded path. Surrounded by dark sylvan outlines, mist droplets peppering your face. You think you know where you’re going – after all, you chose this path in the beginning, when everything was clear. Now, all you can do is stumble through the mist and wander in the direction you think is right.

I’m going to quote the aforementioned blog post I read a few days ago, which addresses this matter: “You don’t need to know what God’s doing to trust Him” (quote courtesy of Issabelle). How true this is, and how grateful we should be that God’s wisdom and power don’t depend on our plans or lack thereof.

Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established”. Do realize that doesn’t mean our plans the way we’d like them, but our plans as they come into accordance with God’s will.

Our prayers need to echo the lyrics of “Help Me Find It” by Sidewalk Prophets: “Whatever Your will, can You help me find it?”.

With this prayer comes the necessity to release our control. Fearing the unknown and letting that fear control our writing is a poison. It weakens us, slowly wearing away our understanding that God, not us, is in control. It’s naturally difficult for us to hand over the reins. It goes against our fleshly nature to give Someone else control.

But when we wrest away control from ourselves and hand it over to the One who formed us and decides when we draw our last breath, we are stepping into submission to God’s will and saying, “Here I am. Use me, use my writing, according to Your will”.

When we return the control we’ve stolen, our writing is in the safest hands it could ever be in. Take to heart Proverbs 3:5-6 and the songs below.

Understanding that our writing futures are in God’s control is worthless if we then fight God’s will at every turn. When we say we give it to Him, we need to mean it. Understanding must coincide with our willingness to obey, even if it looks like a door we’d really like to walk through is closing. It’s closing for a reason. When another will open, or why it’s closing is for God only to know. Remember, we see one letter amongst the vast pages of a master tome. This is part of giving Him control. Handing everything over, even the outcome or lack thereof regarding our writing. We can’t say, “Thy will be done” and then retract our statement and try adding in a clause stating, “Thy will be done for everything but this particular issue”.

He will create our writing futures in a way only He can design. It won’t always be easy, but we need to willingly follow the path He provides.

It won’t always be easy. We won’t always know what God has planned for us. But we need to face our fear of the unknown, admit that we cannot control it, and recognize that even if God’s plan differs from ours, His is the best way. Don’t let fear hold you back from pursuing the desire to write. Keep in mind these three verses:

Behold, God is my salvation;  I will trust, and will not be afraid.” – Isaiah 12:2a

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27

Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” – James 4:15

These three verses remind us not to fear and to remember that Christ provides peace in our uncertainty. The last one is a good reminder that everything we do ought to be from a desire to accomplish the Lord’s will.

We say we know Who holds the future, but do we really believe it?

As you continue writing, and when you face the fear of your unknown writing future – for you will face it, remember we are not meant to control what will come. Our attempts will leave us empty, worn, and depleted.

Take courage and know that the Creator, the One who made galaxies and worlds, is fully capable of forming our writing futures and seeing them to completion.