Thursday, October 23, 2014

Writing from a Bible view

When asked how central the Bible is to their writings, many members of our Christian Poets and Writers group on Facebook had much to say!

Those responses have been combined in this post with only a few changes such as omitting last names, correcting punctuation, or adding words (as shown in parentheses) to complete a sentence. If words or phrases had to be omitted, ellipses (…) indicate that.

QUESTIONS: How central is the Bible to your writing? Do you look up scriptures or research with more than one translation? In what ways can the Bible help to unite us in Christ?

Lynn Oh, my! Since I write devotionals and inspirational stories, scripture is always central to what I write. Some devotions are filled with scripture, while a story may only include one. I do love to search all the versions to see what best fits what I'm writing. I couldn't write unless it's based on scripture.

Keren My writing is peppered with scripture. I tend to stick to one or two translations.

Stan I always use The Bible, directly and indirectly. I prefer the NKJV (New King James Version) translation, so I don't always check others, but I do occasionally. The Holy Bible is the only written Word of God… explaining "God's Free Gift of Salvation"…found through Jesus Christ.

Diane Wow, great questions that will generate helpful responses. Each vignette in my 40-day devotional, "My Resurrected Heart: A Codependent's Journey" ends with Scripture related to that day's story. I used the NKJV, NLT (New Living Translation), The Message, CEB (Common English Bible), and others in the final draft. I love how scriptures come alive in our everyday life.

Kathi The Bible is totally the center of my writing. I often search other translations…for one that best conveys my point. Mary, you asked what ways the Bible can help us unite in Christ. I think of a passage I've prayed for myself and my family (from) Ephesians 1:17-19 -- that God would give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened to know the hope, riches, and power…. Ultimately, it's God's Word that speaks to us and unites us – not our messages to each other.

Mary Sayler Yes! Thank you for mentioning that.

Karin The Bible is absolutely essential to my writing since I write devotionals and Bible teaching articles. Yes, I do look up verses from several different translations to get a better understanding of the verse. I also look up words in the Greek and Hebrew dictionaries. The Bible will help unite the Body of Christ as we all strive to understand and obey it.

Mary Sayler Amen!

Marylou Without the Bible, I wouldn't be the person I am. Not that I am anywhere near perfect, but without God's word in my heart, how could my writing reflect the truth?

Ernesto The Bible is my story, and all my stories are part of God's bigger story.

Lorraine Without the Bible I wouldn't be writing. It is definitely essential.

Sue Without the Bible and God's amazing grace, His unstoppable love, and His mercy, I would have no reason to write. I write devotions and articles to inspire people about God's love for them.

Joy It's essential. Without it, my writing is just words.

John After one eats a meal, it becomes life to them, it becomes a part of them, and the nutrition that is taken in…. The same is true with the word. As we…get it down deep inside us it becomes a part of who we are; it is life unto us. This is where my writings come from. They flow out of me because they are a part of who I am inside. The research is already done and has been proven through life itself. At that point, It is more then just words or teachings from the word; it is life, and who I am.

Fran We need the scriptures to feed our readers.

Theresa I love these writing prompts and being a part of this group. I just want to say that I am so encouraged here. Thank you for this group.

Mary Sayler Thank you for being part of it!

Theresa I am convinced that the word washes our hearts and aligns our mind. The more I intake the word, the purer I find my writing and writing process to be. Even when what comes out doesn't sound like paraphrased scripture, the essence and heart of scripture is there. There is no doubt that the Bible is the best accumulation of content concerning the character, will, heart and mind of God.

1. Therefore, to be intimate with the Bible in the midst of a yearning heart is also a form of intimacy with God. I am discovering that the more time I spend in the Word, the more intense my voice for God becomes -- whether it comes out through (writing) sermons, songs, poetry, devotions, blogs or even developing the administrative vision for ministry. It literally affects every aspect of my scribal ministry. For me, it's that central.

2. I use the Complete Jewish Bible for my studies primarily. It is the combination of a functional and formal translation with a twist: It presents the scriptures from a Hebraic perspective... breaking bearers in my understanding that are centrally westernized. I tend to also use two formal translations as well: NKJV and ASB. I lean more toward wanting to grasp the original intent of the scriptures and then working my way out from there when writing Bible studies or scripture-based blogs.

3. The Bible unites us in Christ... by revealing God's heart for his reunion with mankind. I try to read it as a love story from beginning to end instead of an instruction manual of dos and don'ts.

Mary Sayler Oh, I love that! God's love story....

Vicky (The Bible) is the crux of every word I write. The desire to glorify God and draw others to Him motivates all my writing. When it doesn't, I fail.

Ian The Bible is the only source of absolute truth on earth (because) it is the word of God. If I don't cite it directly, it is the philosophy underneath everything I write.

Christopher I don't always look up passages, but it's in nearly everything I write one way or another.

Ashley My writing usually comes from being inspired or learning something new while reading. I usually use the NLT, and then read the KJV because I like to look up the words' original meaning in Strong's Concordance.

Mary K. I use the Bible concordance to find prompts for my poetry. I am completing a series on my blog now.

Deborah (The Bible) is central to all of my Daily Bible Reading Lessons. I usually start with the KJV of the Bible and then use other versions and concordances for clarity.

Nellie I look up scripture in many translations. God's word is key in everything I do, whether it be writing or other things. Reading the Bible is the central truth behind our whole belief. If we are to be united, then we must know and practice the commands set forth in the Bible.

Joy As Christian poets and writers, the Bible is the ballast and wisdom of our days, Holy Spirit breath speaking inspiration into our ways, and the bulwark against selfish ambition and self-motivated works as we commit words to page. A variety of translations aid deeper understanding and offer a fresh perspective to the text.

Patti Ditto everybody! It's me 'n Him, and Him 'n me--I know no other way to be! How could I write, without his Words? Why, that would be the most absurd! They breathe the life, the sorrow, joy to everyone, each girl, each boy. It's just the way it really is--God's wrapped inside, my writing biz!

SafetyNet Mary, it is an interesting question. My E-Prayers always spring for a Biblical text.

Annie As for me The Word of God or the Bible… is my Life and lifestyle. Therefore, it is central in my writing and the things I do. Yes, indeed, I look at many translations when I am studying, reading, writing, and preparing to minister.

Barbara Jesus is the Word so not sure you need much more than that to help us unite with Christ. Yes, I look up verses and sometimes more than one translation. (The Bible) is central to my writing.

Linda If the Lord hadn't shaped my relationship with him through scriptural dialogue, I wouldn't be a writer at all. I mean, what else is really worth writing about (directly or indirectly)? I use the Bible a great deal in my writing. It's the ultimate writing prompt, full of themes and evocative phrases for poems, hymns, and devotions, and of course sermons and Bible studies. I study the Bible as a resource to portray biblical people and situations authentically in my dramas, which I consider to be important even when drawing them into fictional premises. I often compare multiple translations on Bible Gateway, especially to find just the right phrasing for a hymn. I love it when people share scripture verses to encourage one another. I don't love it when people wield scripture verses as a weapon of reprimand.

Walter Even in my sportswriting field, I use the Bible more than most, but in my personal writings, it is one of the most used references.

Popeye I never write without it -- blogs or books. Personally, I'm enjoying Eugene Peterson's The Message Bible.

Regina Two NIV (New International Version) translations, the Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, Amplified Bible, Strong's Concordance, Strong's Concordance online, Bible Gateway, and Biblehub are all around me and at my fingertips when I'm writing my blog posts, the book I just had published, and my stories for The Hand of God show.

Gary I use several translations. (The Bible) is the foundation from which I write, even though my article may be about incidents or something not even pertaining to Scripture. I try to keep in mind its "soundness," and I use Google a lot in searching for verses.

Dawn Even when not quoting a specific scripture, …I read and meditate on the Word (because) it infuses my writing…. I am grateful for the web for making scripture so easily accessible in a hurry, although I love my concordance and paper Bibles best!

Mary Sayler Me too, but for my favorite translations, I love quality leather covers. They endure longer than paperbacks but also stay open on my desk.

Prayer S. There are those who say this translation or that is the only one which should be consulted, but unless we are able to read the original texts, whatever we read is a translation. Any attempt to translate is subject to the comprehension and interpretation of the translator. Whichever translation we consult, as we read, we ourselves must interpret and subsequently discern the the meaning and truth within the scripture.

If we are confused as we consult different translations, we must remember John 14:26. Before we read, we should pray the Holy Spirit reveals to our heart the truth of the message of God which He intended. Before we write, we should pray the Holy Spirit will guide us so that we may help share, reveal, reinforce, and not obscure His truth. Blessings to all who see these words, and may His peace and love be with you all.

Mary Sayler And also with you!

Wanda All of my books are based on Bible scriptures…. I read both the King James Version, and the NIV. The Bible instructs us to follow Christ, if we obey the Bible we are united with Christ.

Janiece The Holy Spirit is… my own guideline. He directs me where I need to go by His Word, circumstances, or events in my life and others. I learn and grow from others and from His word, and then I give it to the world.

TR I like comparing about a dozen versions. The easiest way to do this is with Bible software. The commercial programs are very good, but there are also some really good free ones. I have used eSword and liked it very much. Currently I am hooked on the Word Bible Software.

Gil I have recently returned to the KJV for another go round with the scriptures. I have used the NIV, the NKJV, the NEV (New English Version), and NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) for years but have been part of a KJV study group for some time now. I am also studying Apocryphal works.

Mary Sayler Me too.

Cynthia Recently I have been reading the new Passion Translation, beautifully done and poetic, but translated from Aramaic and old Hebrew, by Brian Simmons. The comparison I am doing is with NLT and NKJV. He calls the Book of Psalms “Poetry on Fire,” but the Bible is central to my writing as Jesus is central to my faith. …The only way I know that true unity will ever exist (is) with Jesus the Center.

SafetyNet Scripture is always my kick off point for my daily E-Prayers.

Philip I use and highly recommend the New American Standard Bible for study, but the KJV is necessary for use with the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance as it "keys" its numbers off of the KJV. I also recommend the use of Vine's Greek Expository, the Interlinear Bible, which is a translation of the Masoretic Text and Textus Receptus from the original Hebrew and Greek into English, the Matthew Henry Commentary, The Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus, the New Unger's Dictionary and Bible Handbook, Lectures in Systematic Theology by Henry Thiessen, and, of course, the Thompson Chain Reference KJV.

Lynn I use most of those plus Thayer's and others in my Bible program. I love all the resources!

Cynthia On the subject of unity, I believe Jesus wanted us to continue in one focus regardless of the translation, denomination, or doctrine. He wanted us to focus on learning how to love one another – first to let Him love us and then to love others – as we have been freely given, then give. My mind plays connect the dots often with all that He said and all that He is to me. If you will follow my train a moment: Beginning in the beginning, God said let there be light, (Jesus is the light.) When God said Let there be and there was, His word was true (Jesus is the word of God made flesh.) Jesus is the truth, the life, the way, and nothing made was not made without Him. Everything God said, Jesus is. God is Love, and Jesus demonstrated that Love by His suffering and dying. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.We are the creative masterpiece that is the object of His Love.

Life is not just to be born. Life is to be connected by His love, to be transformed into the image and likeness of His Son, to be His sons and daughters. We are family and that makes us all connected. Unity is to maintain a connection of Love from the heart of God, and to maintain that connection no matter what. Disconnection causes disunity just as discouragement causes a loss of courage. Disunity is the loss of the connection of Love with each other and with our Father who is Love.

From Genesis to Revelations, He is saying over and over: Come to me. I love you. And you kids (need to) love each other and get along.

Philip Cynthia, you have spoken well the truths we find (as in John) that Jesus is "The Word," that He is "The Light," and that our first, best duty is to love the Father of whom we now are truly His (our "Abba's") children! Then to love others as we love ourselves. As Paul admonishes in I Corinthians, no matter what we do or who we are, without love we are nothing!

(We need) to "root" ourselves in love – that Agape love that God's Spirit sheds within our hearts, that we may be fruit-bearing branches of the "true vine" of Jesus. And what fruit would that be? The "fruit of the Spirit" - love, kindness, peace, tolerance (forbearance) of others, gentleness, and self-control. How did Christ say we would be recognized as His followers? By our love! "We" are now His body, imbued with the power of His Spirit that the ministry of Christ to all the world continues until His return!

Mary Sayler Amen! Thank you all for your valuable responses. May your words join The Word in your writings, and may our lives join as One Body in the fellowship and love of Jesus Christ.

© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, who began the Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts. She’s the poet-author of 27 books in all genres for Christian and educational markets and wrote the e-book, the Christian Writers’ Guide to writing and publishing. Mary also reviews new editions and translations of the Bible on the Bible Reviewer blog.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bible Reviewer: New Jerusalem Bible, reader edition

[Note from Mary: Thought you all might be interested in The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB), which offers a fresh look at Holy Scripture and helps us to see and hear God’s Word as though written anew – just for us.]

Bible Reviewer: New Jerusalem Bible, reader edition


The Serenity Prayer (Modified) for Planner People | Enthusiastically, Dawn

[Note from Mary: We plan to write, but God has plans for us too!]

The Serenity Prayer (Modified) for Planner People | Enthusiastically, Dawn


The Writing on the Wall: Pruning

[Note from Mary: Poets and writers who have done readings, signings, or other writing-related activities will surely relate to this post. Thanks, Vicky - and congratulations on your upcoming event.]

The Writing on the Wall: Pruning by Vicky Kaseorg


Bible Prayers: A call to prayer

[Note from Mary: Prayer-a-phrased from today’s reading of Holy Scripture in Isaiah 12:4-6, this prayer encourages us to attest to the greatness of God - in our lives but in our writings too.]

Bible Prayers: A call to prayer


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Road Signs for Living: Am I Changing the World

[Note from Mary: Let's be salt & light in all we write!]

Road Signs for Living: Am I Changing the World by Joyce Lester Powell


THE HEART OF THE MATTER | From the River of His Heart

[Note from Mary: To get real with our readers, we first must get real with ourselves and God. This post will help.]

THE HEART OF THE MATTER | From the River of His Heart by Nicole Cleis Anderson


Bible People: Symbols In A Second Coming: a poem moving toward end times

[Note from Mary: With words of gloom, doom, and the Second Coming, Christians not only need discernment, but we also need to know we know what we know! May this poem cause us to consider our beliefs and notice what we notice. And may God give us all the discernment we need in Jesus’ Name.]

Bible People: Symbols In A Second Coming: a poem moving toward end times


Monday, October 20, 2014

She’s Back! Using Back Story in Fiction Writing | Linda S. Clare

[Note from Mary: Good tips for those of you who write fiction but also those with a true story to tell]

She’s Back! Using Back Story in Fiction Writing | Linda S. Clare


The Faith Log: Random Thoughts

[Note from Mary: These random thoughts give us a lot to think about, pray about, and, perhaps, write about too.]

The Faith Log: Random Thoughts by Jeff Doles 


Poetry Editor & Poetry: THE Market guide for poets

[Note from MaryThe 2015 Poet’s Market guide published by Writer’s Digest Books is THE book for poets who want their poems to be traditionally published by Christian and secular periodicals and publishing companies. In addition to an extensive list of potential publishers of poetry books, chapbooks, and journals, you’ll find helpful articles, interesting interviews with well-published poets, and all sorts of excellent resources to help your poetry excel.]

Poetry Editor & Poetry: THE Market guide for poets


What the Bible Says about Love: God’s love holds us in a heavenly realm

[Note from Mary: This poem prayer-a-phrase of Ephesians 2:4-10 speaks of God’s great love that gives us spiritual rebirth, sets us in a heavenly realm, and gives us the grace to do what we have been given to do (and write!) in the spirit of Jesus’ Name.]

What the Bible Says about Love: God’s love holds us in a heavenly realm


Thursday, October 16, 2014

How Do You Repair Your Cracks? - Ava Pennington Ava Pennington

[Note from Mary:  Wonderful word on Christ's renewal system!]

How Do You Repair Your Cracks? - Ava Pennington Ava Pennington


Interview from Ava Pennington with a Giveaway | Margaret Daley

[Note from Mary: One of the administrators of our Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook was just interviewed! Since Ava is a traditionally published author, she offers tips and experiences you'll find helpful too.]

Interview from Ava Pennington with a Giveaway | Margaret Daley


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

SWEET MEDITATION – a good way to battle depression | From the River of His Heart

[Note from Mary: Praise, thanks, and joy poured from this post. May God bless all who read.]

SWEET MEDITATION – a good way to battle depression | From the River of His Heart by Nicole Cleis Anderson


Jezebel is a Great Name for a Cat -or- God Provides in Mysterious Ways - very Much Later

[Note from Mary: This post isn't typical of those usually highlighted, so why this one? 1.) The opening paragraphs showed tight writing with varied sentence structure that makes for a "good read." 2.) The writer obviously did his research instead of relying only on memory. 3.) The humor is also obvious here but sadly missing from most manuscripts by Christian poets and writers. 4.) The post goes on no longer than needed. 5.) The article ends with a relevant "take away," encouraging readers to look for God's ongoing goodness even in the small things of life.]

Jezebel is a Great Name for a Cat -or- God Provides in Mysterious Ways - very Much Later by Jake Lee 


Road Signs for Living: God's Grace - The Source of Our Hope

[Note from Mary: Besides giving us an uplift today, these 1 to 5 reasons for hope struck me as great writing prompts for Christian poets and writers. As you read each one, see what jumps out at you and what experiences or examples come to mind and spirit.]

Road Signs for Living: God's Grace - The Source of Our Hope by Joyce Lester Powell


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Writing to serve others in Jesus' Name

Thanks to Ashley Ormon, we recently had this helpful discussion in our interactive Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook:

Ashley: What are ways we can use our writing to serve others, besides posting on our blogs?

Robin One thing I've done is taken three of my best poems and printed them out in bookmark form. I give them as little gifts to bless new parents and grandparents.

Janiece (We can serve others through) prayer, writing letters to them, and creating new things like Scriptures printed out with a design to give to them on Christmas or a poem that is Christ-like

Timothy Two things to add to the mix: (1) the waning, but still with us, medium of the print newspaper, specifically, the letter to the editor, which is often less than uplifting, so perhaps we can make a mark there; and the guest column in the religion section; and (2) the advocacy letter to elected representatives. Again, this is an area that is often highly politicized, but where Christian love and truth can be expressed in a winsome way by writers who have the gift of the Spirit, know Scripture, and know the Lord.

Heather Write a book. Write a Bible study. Send a note of encouragement to someone. Write a thank-you letter complimenting the service they have done for the Kingdom.

DavidAnn (We can serve by) building up, encouraging, and showing the Love of God through our testimonies. Glory Hallelujah!

Judy I have left copies of my books in motels, restaurants, cruise ship libraries, dr. offices, and other places. You never know who may need to read what you have written, and many people will never pick up a Bible.

Heather (We can write stories about) characters who are flawed, because we are and God isn't.

Joyce For me, the purpose of writing is to encourage, inspire, and remind others that the love, mercy, and grace of God is available to all who are willing to accept His gift and that He can meet every need. Therefore, I pray to be sensitive to those who are in the midst of life's battles. I give away more books than I sell and am blessed when told a certain devotional has touched someone or made a difference in a personal situation. For me, prayer is priority in making sure that I never forget that it is all about HIM and never about me. Prayer is key in ministering through our writing.

Mary Yes and amen!

Ian I think we can tell stories that enlighten the lost to biblical thinking.

Dr Wilma Thanks for this encouragement and confirmation to tell our story and how God brought us through and the importance of overcoming.

Marie I have read things I have written to others particularly my elderly lady friends - "my Grandmas" - or to young children. I have even had a session with a group at my church where I joined "my Grandmas" in how to write poetry! We approached it from different angles and even gave an exercise where they wrote their own poetry.

Barbra I used to write long letters to older friends, and they said they looked forward to them.... I would also like to do devotionals.

Robert Tackling the endeavor of writing a type of compilation or some literary work for publication is a good idea. Creating poetry and vocalizing it at local poetry slams/events are becoming more common is some cities. That would be a witty and simple way to evangelize in an arena other than a church-related event where reciting our purposeful poetry would be like preaching to the choir, so to speak.

Cynthia We have a coffee shop meet for all writers, usually poetry, and not all (are) Christians. It gives you a chance to hear what is important to the world and gives them a chance to see Jesus in your work.

Patti I love God for giving me a gift of words to bless others. I don't take it for granted but am thrilled every time I can combine it with simple calligraphy (as done for the past 30 years), and it makes me happy and hopefully pleases the Lord!

Ian To reveal the Christian worldview... (in) literature

Shanna I write for a few ministries as a volunteer.

Mary Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. If our words uplift, our writing can serve others even through a Post-A-Note. It's not the form of publication that matters so much as what we're writing about and why. For instance, if we're writing to express ourselves with no thought for our readers – as happens to most of us in the beginning - the impact will be much different than if we're writing, say, a how-to.

As Christian poets and writers, we have the responsibility and privilege to draw readers to Christ and the church, but too often we see rants! If we only point out the problems in the church and offer no workable solutions, then we contribute to the problem. And if we come down hard on our readers or try to shake them into knowing Christ, we've lost them. With love and prayers and a little humor, our writings can work wonders in Jesus’ Name.

© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, who began the Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts. She’s the poet-author of 27 books in all genres for Christian and educational markets and wrote the e-book, the Christian Writers’ Guide to writing and publishing.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Defy The Dipthong…Discover Your Voice

[Note from Mary: A writer talks about writing and encourages you to find your words.]

Defy The Dipthong…Discover Your Voice by James Prescott


Say Goodbye to Someday - Gregor Connections LLC : Gregor Connections LLC

[Note from Mary: Need help getting started on your manuscript? Check out this post.]

Say Goodbye to Someday - Gregor Connections LLC : Gregor Connections LLC by Shanna Gregor


In a Christian Writer's Life: Writing Irresistible KidLit

[Note from Mary: As attested by the review copy Writer’s Digest Books sent me, Writing Irresistible KIDLIT is “The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers.” Having now read the book though, I have to say that writers of novels for any age will welcome this lively text with all sorts of helpful, step-by-step information that makes writing #kidlit sound irresistible to me again!]

In a Christian Writer's Life: Writing Irresistible KidLit


Monday Meditation – In Day’s First Light

[Note from Mary: What a beautiful way to begin our week and each day of our writing life!]

Monday Meditation – In Day’s First Light by Christine Sine


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Poetry Editor & Poetry: Practicing Silence and poetry

[Note from Mary: Whether you write poetry or not, the silence needed for poetry writing is the same silence from which we can hear the whisper of God in our surroundings, no matter how ordinary they are.]

Poetry Editor & Poetry: Practicing Silence and poetry


Whole Lot of Always... And Love Never Fails - Through a Glass, Darkly

[Note from Mary: Many of us have personal agendas for writing, but this post gets to the bottom line of Christ's agenda.]

Whole Lot of Always... And Love Never Fails - Through a Glass, Darkly by Jaime Meeks