Tuesday, November 29, 2011

By faith, to God

Jesus Christ is himself the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20)
Jean Purcell
Twitter @opinaripeople

When trying to write about faith recently I knew I might try to talk myself out of the undertaking. Faith's scope and implications are weighty. What prompted me to try is that faith is a word increasingly misused as applicable to religions that have little or nothing to do with Christ. I often return to this thought of the error of accepting any application of faith that insists on using this word apart from God and the prophesied Messiah.  
     "It is their faith" is a misdirection when it speaks of religion, dogma, or teachings, because faith is not an institution, philosophy, or religion.  I came to the point of wanting to assert that when we speak of faith we use a singularly original and weighty word whose meaning and use are established in early Judeo-Christian scriptures. The word faith has its roots unchanging, in truth. Faith is not a word that should be allowed to morph into a general, surface term. It is a word like the stone that must go at the corner, to stabilize. Its meaning and its specific reference do not  change with the times.  
    The church bears witness to "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." This refers precisely to one "tie" to God, which is the faith to grab onto in order to hold onto Christ. That is its chief relation. The history of this singular faith is seamless in this way.  
     The organizers of the Amplified version of the Bible used adhere to, cleave to, rely on, have faith in, and these words to express what is needed to continue to relate to God as revealed in the Son, Jesus. Jesus said, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, he who believes in Me [who adheres to, trusts in, relies on, and has faith in Me] has (now possesses) eternal life [John 6:47]. 
     Faith encompasses and lifts up the truth: Jesus is Lord, Savior, Redeemer of the world. Therefore, faith [the bond with the reality of the risen and living Lord] is not a faith, but the faith that makes us whole, in Christ.    

Copyright (c)2011 Opinari Writers
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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Our Faith, Our Selves: Write of these

QUO VADISImage by jesuscm via Flickr_Quo Vadis
Jean Purcell
Follow Jean on Twitter @opinaripeople

Remembrances swirl, of words, the Word, and trying to tie things together that refuse tying down. This is part of the life of faith.
     Some of us who believe in Jesus as the Redeemer, Son of God, only begotten of the Father, doubt ourselves when locked up on purpose with our thoughts. "As a Christian, why do I write, when there is already a profusion of words? Why add more? Hasn't all been said?"
     Yet, one does not ask, "Are there already too many candles lit to reveal the way or light bulbs waiting to cast out darkness?"
     In Shadowlands, C. S. Lewis has a student at Oxford who says that his school teacher father told him, "We read to remind ourselves that we are not alone." A profound explanation also for why writers write.  

Writers that claim to write only for themselves cannot win my belief that that is true. I find the claim almost impossible to believe, although I have not walked in those shoes, so how can I know for sure? I cannot help challenging, however: "If you write only for yourself, for your pleasure or relief, then why do you deliberately make your writing public?" The desire to connect with others must be there, if only for attention. That, too, is a form of connection.
     I write daily. Whatever I write, it will connect with someone somewhere at some time unknown to me. I pray the effect will profit them. I do not write lightly very often, and very often I wish I could. I sort of plod along. Yet, plod I must, and I have learned to respect plodding.
     Sometimes I am tracking thoughts and impressions as they change. They narrow or widen. Increasingly I notice how much I long to delve deeper in the inner life and to find better expression for that. It's part of holding onto something unnamed that is trying to get my attention for an important reason I cannot guess. It may have to do with interpretations earlier, now broadening or changing altogether. It may have to do with perceptions growing brighter or dimmer, as the case may be. This draws the writer to admit certain things and then to seek to be true to that. I am not as afraid or embarrassed as I once was to see my glaring weaknesses compared with those whose strengths of discernment and expression have helped me in vital ways at precipitous times.
     I still scribble on the backs of envelopes and margins of certain books. I started the habit long ago of using that habit like a coded diary. Sometimes I have added dates to the margin. When we reread the familiar with new notes we see that it has met us afresh, not quite exactly as it did the first time. We recognize it, yet differently now. It means more...or less. We are not where we were then. This is especially true of the holy words.
     Like the blasts of unseen winds, words and meanings wake us up again under different circumstances, different places on the path. It is faith, after all, that called us into the relatively unknown, to us, landscape of faith. This supernatural gift for the mind and heart that we call faith leaves us unsatisfied with just the little that we have. Yet, seeking more that lies in the familiar Word and shining on it the helping glimmer of faith...has to cost us. What helps us bear the most costly parts are that the seeking of God faithfully will, at some point, relieve, comfort, or amaze us. Yes, it baffles us, but we can, we learn, bear that. Searching, as if through the glass darkly, we lean into God in the hope of getting even a glimpse of one new glowing ray. However thin it might be, however little or much we came near to seeing that way before, we search for treasures of God, personal for us as well as universal. 
     Again, when this happens, we want to, or we must, write. 

Copyright (c)2011 Opinari Writers. Regularly Tweeting when new articles are posted.
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Saturday, November 26, 2011


Loess field in Germany.Image via Wikipedia
Now and When

But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. (Luke 8:15)

The commercial slogan "I want it now" works because it connects with people. How quickly credit cards would  have gone out of style if that were not so. 
     We think of productivity as a short-term matter because we can move things, ideas, and people quickly. "Have you been productive today? How many units did you sell? How many pages did you write? How many books did you start? How many newspapers did you read? How many new ideas did you come up with? How many people did you contact?" In one day. Productivity is measured by such things today.
     Could patience ever win over productivity when "now" is the measurement? When numbers can be made to rise quickly? When gadgets or gimmicks can create an immediate stir? 
     Patience is part of productivity in matters of the spirit. The "now" is "patience now." Does this mean that God does not work in the "right now"? God works in the "right now," of course. We have experienced and witnessed this, when faith shot up instantaneously and supernaturally, being wondrous and beautiful to behold. We have been amazed, knowing that only God could bring forth such a thing as a changed heart! New eyes to see with! Fresh air breathed into physical and spiritual lungs! Only God can do such a thing! 
     Yet also only He could see what was going on long before. He who sees and knows the human heart saw what worked silently and quietly within. Only He could see and nurture the struggling growth of faith to burst forth, to break through the heart somehow softened toward even the possibility of God existing. That dark, damp, rain-soaked, sun-fed or dried soil of the heart. Invisibly, it pumps automatically and then suddenly, on that rare occasion, it leaps literally for joy. The soil of the heart lying there inert, seemingly, is bringing forth something that only God's feeding can make possible. When the soil of the heart is good. When it is willing and ready.
     There the soil lies, of no particular attractiveness, yet its fertility is now allowed. It hardly can know how ready is the seed of the Word of God about to take root there, ever so quietly. The seed will fall at the moment the somewhat ignorant soil will yield a bit so that the seed can embed and then begin to grow. 
     What is written on that seed? Can we read what it says? What did that special seed of faith and new life proclaim? We cannot detect for others, only for ourselves, if even that. 
Does the Lord say that we are to bring forth fruit with patience. (Luke 8:15)? That would not be a bad reading. Yet read again: The fertile soil of the heart, allowing the seed, the Word of God, will bring forth fruit with patience. This is the seed that fell on the good ground, the eternal Word that fell upon willing ears, eyes, and heart. The soil of the heart was good, ready, and therefore received it and let it grow. This speaks of your heart and of mine, of our neighbor's heart, our enemy's, and all human hearts that still are beating.
     The patience of God is what He calls us to participate in, with Him. What a glorious calling if we see it like this. He sees into the soil,the human heart, not we. But, He lets us know it is there, and it can be deceitful above all things. Yet, it waits as God's corrupted Creation to be good, ready to accept good seed for good productivity. God sees the dark workings of the soil, the human heart, which we can only imagine or guess at; but He tells us that if we will not hinder, there may be a patch where some seed can hold on and live, coming into a new form, new life springing forth with its own fruitfulness to bear. 

The psalmist wrote, in effect, "Search me and know me, O God, and see if there be any wicked way in me. And lead me to life everlasting." He invited God to search his heart, its soil ready for wickedness and death or goodness and life in all its fruitfulness, or productivity. The psalmist concluded that when all of God's work in him was done, then he, having yielded himself to God's work, would come forth as gold. 

Copyright (c) Opinari Writers, Jean Purcell

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Quotes

Postbox in Little Chesterton.
                                                                      Image via Wikipedia

2015-Five days before Thanksgiving Day
Thankful. I include you, family and reading friends "afar off." Young and older, dear ones, I give thanks to God for you always. I pray for your hearts, that they be strengthened in faith by the Father's power. In these days, "dangers, toils, and snares" involve us. I resolve to pray for enemies in the strength of Christ, the Redeemer of souls in the divine power of Almighty God. Thankful. For my husband's words yesterday about guarding quick reactions and words in times of divisions among citizens and friends: "We are Christians."

Thanksgiving day 2014
Re-sending these quotes in a fresh year. Blessings to all. 
Thanksgiving (link)
In 1621, Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared a harvest feast, acknowledged as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations.

November 2013 I am thankful for
 Retreat seminar about the book of Romans:
"From Guilt to Glory"

"...gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." 
(see below)

I would maintain that thanks are 
the highest form of thought, 
and that gratitude is 
happiness doubled by wonder.

Nature-giving thanks
There is not a sprig of grass that shoots [that is] uninteresting to me.
Thomas Jefferson

Thanks for small, practical things
A #2 pencil and a dream can take you anywhere.   

Thanks for goodness in nature and hearts
Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.

Thanks for salvation 
"I thank God every day for my salvation."
Name unknown

Quote sources: Trinity Forum, Brainy Quotes, blogger

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Writers of faith, produce with patience

International Association for the Advancement ...
Image via Wikipedia

But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
(Luke 8:15)

The Opine Publishing logo has a sower of seed, scattering it across a field. This logo image relates to Luke 8, where Jesus interprets the parable of the sower. The seed is the Word of God, God is the Sower, and the different earth-types, from hard ground to ready ground, represent the heart of the recipient of the Word. 

What strikes me today as I reread this one part of the full parable is that fruit, or production, of faith requires patience to be brought forth. 

"The root of impatience is the erroneous belief that we are the masters of our fates." Source: Path of the Soul 4

The Hebrew word for patience is savlanut, which also means "tolerance." The same root gives rise to words that means "suffer" (sevel) and "burdens" (sivlot). We learn from this that patience is not a necessarily a pleasant experience. We should expect patience to be the hard work we usually find it to be. That may mean enduring and tolerating, and the experience may even mean bearing a burden.

New Testament/Greek: "Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says that 'hupomone' is the characteristic of a man who is 'unswerved' from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings."

Is our writing "in the will of God"? Is its time for fruitfulness full, in us, or are we prematurely trying to produce it? We need, daily, to pray, "Thy will be done."

It strikes me now more than ever that people of faith have this supreme calling of making sure that we are prayerful, seeking, and obedient daily. Maybe our writing projects "make sense" to us. Yet, if we pause at the beginning to seek God's guidance, are we at peace to continue on our topic or our plan? We will know the answer each time that we seek His guidance, seeking Him first, every day. IF we are not living this way, then our aims are in vain. However, it is not too late to resume this way of doing, or to start. 

With unswerving, deliberate, faith and piety, we are determined to follow on, to know the Lord and to receive the heavenly blessing of life everlasting with the One who is Wonderful, King of kings, and Lord of your life and mine.

Jean Purcell
Twitter @opinaripeople
Copyright (c)2011 Opinari Writers

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Monday, November 14, 2011

New Opine eStore

icon for mailing listsImage via Wikipedia

You are invited to visit Opine Books eStore

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Personal Narrative Writing and Childhood

girl, writingImage via Wikipedia
by Jean Purcell
Twitter @opinaripeople

A personal story with little mention of childhood would be hard to find. Our personal stories, because they are about our lives, naturally grow out of early hopes and expectations. There were also fears that became part of us. I like to honor the dreams and hopes that arose from childhood. Also, I treasure the realization of having overcome certain normal fears of childhood and youth.  
    The first edition of my personal narrative, Not All Roads Lead Home, included influences of childhood that went with me into adult life. I thought I was writing about adult experiences. I did not know how powerful childhood and youth memories would be or the benefit of revisiting them. There were no tragic incidents to recall, thankfully, but there were hurts, surprises, and disappointments, of course, for "thus is life." Influences of strong events affect us uniquely, for a while, maybe a lifetime, yet maybe with changing perspectives.  
     I discovered during writing the book that after weeping through pages of writing one could feel lighter and more free. In a couple of instances, it seemed the writing time allowed a good settling or release in heart and mind. Clearer and more mature understanding and interpretation began to form...or so it seems.
     It's unclear to me whether or not we need to plan to include childhood or youth memories in personal narratives about grown up times, but I don't think we need to plan it. In my experience, what we are to share will come forth, to us, as we write. Then, we can consider and reflect how and how much to integrate of those memories. I think we can trust this.
Copyright (c)2011 Jean Purcell and Opinari Writers

A writing quote: "Be obscure clearly." ~E. B. White

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Is it racism?

by Jean Purcell

Like any prejudice of extremes, racism hides easily within attractive, powerful, and privileged lives as much as anywhere. I learned this while growing up white in the South, and I saw this while teaching in upper New York state in a school with an all-white staff and multi-cultural student body.
      I think it's pretty well understood yet often covered over that"decent minded" and so-called "correct" folks can act as ugly and petty as anyone about anything, including their own private or self-unaware racist views.
     Subtle cues and clues include what I saw on the news recently: Caught on video at a social event, an influential Washington DC leader close to presidents for many decades was unaware that someone had him on video, recording. The man, in conversation with drink in hand, belittled a black business man running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. presidency. He got no push back from his hearers, either.
     When his comment, voice, and profile were put into the news, I saw and heard the insider, pleased-with-ourselves laughter of the group standing around him. And I shivered a bit at the suave overtones of prejudice that I came to recognize as a child in the South. It was repulsive to my parents and to many others, but everyone knew it was there, all around.
     The prominent man unaware that he was being recorded betrayed his own public mantras against racial prejudice when he "ran the black man down," as the saying goes.    
     Following recent headlines about harassment charges and the black candidate, some voters, regardless of political affiliation, have formed judgments; others withhold judgment. The way the story has unfolded, the mind cannot help wondering if that old devil racism is involved, although that may not be the case. Is private racism of the publicly "correct" as bad as public racism "in your face"?
     Truth usually wins out. Meanwhile, waiting for truth is uncomfortable. It is not always clear, until then, what lies behind any "running the man or woman down." We need to be watchful, including over ourselves, from  inside out, from private to public. 
Copyright (c)2011 Opinari Writers
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Monday, November 07, 2011

Sincere thanks to you, writers and other friends: What you did!

Where does the real poetry Come from?Image by ZedZap via Flickr
Beauty remains a while.
Twitter: @opinaripeople

I thank lots of you for what you did after I e-mailed you about Open Letter to Christian Writers last week. (And if you haven't done it yet, there's still time, whenever you can.) I don't know if you did Tweeting, Liking, or passing this blog link along via your e-mail messages; whatever you did, you helped. I thank you from the bottom of my heart!
     The rising stats for my efforts on this blog since then let me know that readers like you most likely shared this blog for Christian writers and for all writers of quality work that inspires, entertains, humors, or cheers up readers.  This place is for all who are interested in doing good writing. I say "Christian writers," since I work with them most of the time. When I write other things, I keep in mind readers like I was once -- skeptics who want to know for themselves. There is nothing wrong with that; "Seek and ye shall find" is true in matters of belief. 

How can I thank you enough? I don't know. I can send a quirky "link gift" to pass along to you who are reading this now. If you're a writer, do you know about the newer Your Personal Book blog? 
Lots of big THANK YOU shouts from here. If you have a blog, I'd love to see and read it.

If you like this, please Tweet and Like it. I'll be back with you soon.

Copyright (c)2011 Opinari Writers Network

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Tony Hillerman's Example-Write what you know

Cover of "Seldom Disappointed: A Memoir"Cover of Seldom Disappointed: A Memoir=photo in New Mexico
by Jean Purcell
Follow on Twitter @opinaripeople

My husband and I have read every Tony Hillerman (d. 2008) fiction book, and we have watched two Hillerman movies. Finally, when the author's memoir, Seldom Disappointed, was released, I bought it and found interesting tales about writing and life, along with good humor, advice, and insight for writers and fans.
     Tony Hillerman became a best-selling author published in many languages. He lived in New Mexico, the scene of his crime novels. At the beginning of his attempts to sell his book manuscripts to publishers, however, a literary agent advised him to drop his Navajo context and characters. "Readers are not interested. It won't sell," was the general point. In his writing memoir, Seldom Disappointed, Hillerman told the story. Ironically, then, readers came to love this new author of Leaphorn and Chee books. Robert Redford made two movies based on HarperCollins books about the fictional Navajo detectives.
     Hillerman is not the only author to be encouraged to change directions. How did he know to follow his instincts instead of professional opinion, which he did not easily cast off. The experienced agent was giving professional advice. Yet, in Hillerman's case, it did not fit. Who could know?
     A key writer's mantra, "Write what you know," surely helped in this author's life. Like many other authors, he knew the landscape, life, and people that he wrote about. Throughout his career, he was  honored not only with writing awards but also with a special Navajo Nation award. 

  "For all the recognition he received, Mr. Hillerman once said, he was most gladdened by the status of Special Friend of the Dineh (the Navajo people) conferred on him in 1987 by the Navajo Nation. He was also proud that his books were taught at reservation schools and colleges." ( source: New York Times)   
Copyright (c)2011 Opinari Writers Network

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Open Letter to Christian Writers re: "Passing it Forward"

DSC_4340Image by Enriquegg via Flickr  Share adventure.To: Every visitor
From: Jean Purcell
Re: "Passing it forward"
E-mail: editor@opinebooks.com
Follow on Twitter: @opinaripeople
Tomorrow: Hillerman and Write What You Know

It's a thrill when readers pass along blog links from Jean Purcell and Opinari Writers and Author Support blogs. I hope you will Tweet and "Like" more links.
    Topics here and at Author Support aim to spur writers like you in knowledge and commitment, to deposit something of value into your information bank as a writer and Christian. To give you good perspectives from professional views, life experience, and other talented writers is my pleasure. What you write--whether nonfiction, fiction, poetry, drama, or articles--can deeply affect others in many good ways. What a thought!  
     Whatever value you see in these blogs, please share the links as Tweets and Facebook Likes, and other networking ways. I really appreciate that. It is the best! I hope we all thank God for guiding us to write.
     See you here again soon. If you are not a Christian, you too are welcome here to inquire and also to read writing tips.

P.S. A closing positive: 
     ... Joy in one's heart and some laughter on one's lips is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life. Hugh Sidey

Copyright (c)2011 Jean Purcell and Opinari Writers. Permission to use with attribution.
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