Monday, January 22, 2018

FAN THE FLAME--Creative Christian Writing

 FAN THE FLAME
by Leona Choy
 For writers at every level who are Christians
Download my new free pdf book. Click here

A new expanded direction of my encouragement ministry for the Lord is to pass the baton of creative Christian writing to the emerging generation of Christians whom He is calling
to "Write For the Supreme Editor"

Lord willing, I am doing that not only through my published books of resources for Christian writing 
 but also through coaching/mentoring/assisting 
 writers individually online from my home writing studio
in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia
and in association with Christian writers groups 
across the country.
Also by offering online downloadable pdfs on various writing topics like the one in this post. 

The purpose? Assisting Christian writers to develop to their full creative potential in their personal calling from God. 

FAN THE FLAME is an excerpted chapter
from Leona's new book
"Writing for the Supreme Editor"
The book may be purchased by contacting 
leonachoy@gmail.com or ordered through her website:
https://www.goldenmorning.com

You are welcome to download this pdf free of charge.
If you wish to express appreciation, you may donate to
Leona's writing ministry through paypal.me/LeonaChoy

Friday, January 19, 2018

VISIT TO THE FRAME SHOP


I received a "happening" for which I needed a frame. The "happening" was painful, confusing, and certainly not fun. I needed to see it in proper perspective--I needed a frame of reference.
It came unexpectedly and without a label to display its purpose. I had to exercise my free will and make an intentional decision as to what attitude frame I put around it. If I wasn't intentional and passively dragged my feet, Ole' Liar would be at my door with a whole cart load of dirty black recycled frames to peddle. He wouldn't even knock. He'd just barge in uninvited. His frames had negative names like Catastrophe, Too Bad, Worst Case Scenario, Tragedy, Misfortune, Give Up and Bad Luck. I've had dealings with him before and I always get the short end of the stick.

I knew a much better source where I could always find a frame that was both durable and attractive. I needed a Custom frame appropriate to the “happening.” The Master Craftsman offered a lifetime guarantee. Off to His shop I went. The promise on the window was “Masterpieces happen here.” My "happening" could be one of those, I hoped.

There I found an impressive array of positive frames with names like Opportunity, All Joy, Prospect, Blessing in Disguise, Boon, God's Gift, Good Fortune, Peace, God's Favor, All Good and Trust Me. Each one was enchantingly beautiful. All of the Master Craftsman's frames were antiqued gold and ornate, worthy of their Maker. 




I had to be intentional and choose an appropriate attitude frame. It would determine how I displayed my faith in times of adversity because it would be hung in plain sight for all to see. There would be no doubt how I was handling my “happening.”

I decided on the All Joy frame for my “happening” because it was highly recommended in the book of James. It agreed with the Apostle Paul's repeated spiritual mantra, Rejoice always, so I know my choice will be pleasing to the One who meant my "happening" for my good and for His glory.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

DRESS REHEARSAL FOR HEAVEN'S PRAISE


Are there times when we don't know what to pray or how to rightly praise God? The adequate words are simply not there?


We can have a continuous dress rehearsal during our time of prayer and praise on earth by joining the hosts in heaven to praise and worship God and Jesus the Lamb of God who was slain to purchase for God with His blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. (Rev. 5:9) We can practice our acceptable praises now and be assured of an authentic carryover when we arrive in the presence of God, the Father Almighty.


The apostle John gave us the very words with which to praise God. He said that he was in the spirit and beheld a throne in heaven
 and One sitting on the throne.
 (Excerpts from Revelation chapters 4 and 5 quoted below
 directly from the words of Scripture)


“Around the throne were twenty-four elders and the four living creatures. John heard them saying with a loud voice never ceasing day or night: Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God the Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. Worthy are You our Lord and God who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever throughout eternity, for You created all things and because of Thy will they existed, and were created. And they fell down before Him who sits on the throne and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:



Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive:

Blessing

Glory

Wisdom

Thanks

Honor

Power

Might

Riches

Dominion

 (collected terms from Rev.7:12; 5:12; 5:13; 4:11)



"Only the Lamb was worthy to take The Book and open it. The elders and the living creatures fell prostrate before the Lamb, having each one a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song saying: Worthy are You to take The Book.


"[They were joined by] myriads of angels around the throne saying with a loud voice: Worthy is the Lamb. [words as above]. And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, were saying: To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be [words as above]. And the four living creatures kept saying, Amen. And the elders fell down and worshiped."

"Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father"  (Phil. 2:9-11).

“Whatsoever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. (Phil. 4:8) What could be more perfect than to know in advance what praise will be like in heaven, even the very words, and be able to offer it to God in praise while we are still on earth?

Monday, January 15, 2018

EAGLE RECYCLED YEARS

During a casual phone conversation, a friend asked why I named my home in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia “Eagle Summit.” Throughout my house I do have framed pictures of eagles in various poses of flight and waiting for the air currents and hunting. Also meaningful before-and-after pictures of re-cycled senior age eagles.
 * See encore text at the end of the blog post.

I chose the eagle motif partly because of the scenic outlook over the woodsy landscape from the rear deck of my home over the valley. We built at the highest point in our subdivision. My “tree house,” as the grandchildren call it, looks over the tree tops and stream below and I watch the birds in flight on their level and revel in the daily dramatic dawn and sunset panoramas. Every changing season is spectacular from the softly falling snowflakes to the seemingly burst of green almost overnight in spring, the full bloom of sultry summer, and the glorious splendor of autumn.


However, the life cycle of the eagle has been my main point of reference in analogy to my lifetime and my calling from God even into my current longevity. I've devoted chapters in my published books to comparing eagle life with our human life, especially the Christian aspects in the latter stages of the eagle's life cycle. Psalm 103:5 is the sparkling gem to launch my thoughts, “...my youth is renewed like the eagle....” It refers to the aging eagle's season of dramatic renewal enabling it to experience a second wind, so to speak, a surge of vitality to continue its energetic and productive life once again long after its prime.


Since I'm in the latter eagle time of longevity myself, (I prefer not to call it overtime or bonus time, as if it were a reluctant afterthought of God) I look upon it as a generous God-planned extension. For what purpose should I invest those extra months or years? Not for my own benefit and sheer, luxurious enjoyment, but to continue to carry forward God's agenda for my life—perhaps in a God-adjusted direction.


Whereas the bulk of one's life in prime years is spent in achieving our life goals as we try to see them from God's perspective, I believe the eagle-extension season should be invested in other people, in passing the baton to the emerging generation, in pointing the good way to those who follow us. To draw them upward to reach higher and further, to dream larger, to attempt greater than I have attained. My focus is on the precious people in my family generations, the young “caterpillars” who will one day become “butterflies,” and on people likewise called of God who might follow me to put on their own mantle in the field of creative “writing for the Supreme Editor,” God.


In this new year I've already begun pursuing both of those directions. Not by pushing young eagles to fly but to draw them on, to beckon them to a higher reach, to attract them upward in their faith lives. I accept my mandate of encouragement and affirmation in both of these directions. The young eagles in their comfortable birth-nest on some high precipice might look down in fear not realizing that they were born with flying appendages which were meant to develop into strong wings that would bear them up when they were ready for the risk. Just so do those who follow after us need our infusion of God-courage and assistance to risk flying on their own.


I perceive that I should invest my extended eagle-recycled years in those who follow me. Not to clone anything that I have achieved, but motivate them to follow their unique path which may be the less traveled one, which God has prepared for them and equipped them with special gifts. To encourage them not fear failure but to spread their wings, with a little nudge of encouragement from me. To leave the comfort of mediocre living and sub-standard achievement and watered down goals for the high road of God's agenda for their lives, whatever it may be.


 The YouTube that follows might serve as an inspiration for my readers to listen to God for His agenda for them when they find themselves generously blessed with eagle-recycled years. Such an investment nets eternal returns!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ob3Vpi1u_0

* How the Aging Eagle Renews Itself  (encored by request)

 In spite of all its diligent daily maintenance, the time comes in the life span of this majestic bird when all of its wonderful functions begin to diminish and wear out. It faces an aging, deteriorating crisis, unable to navigate in the air as it has been accustomed to do. Its eyes are becoming dim and no longer moist, its talons are not as sharp, and calcium deposits on its beak prevent it from being able to hunt as before. The eagle is losing strength and its feathers are becoming sparse. (Sound familiar?) It is one tired bird!



It could give up and settle down to rest on a canyon floor, just dragging around in its weakness. But it will die in the valley if it stays there. The valley is not where God means for eagles to die, moreover, its time to die may not have come yet. When another strong eagle sees the bedraggled, defeated eagle in the canyon, it screams at it and dive bombs at it to stir the eagle up to follow its God ordained instincts. It must leave the low places where it is unprotected in its weakness from its enemies and go to the mountain like God ordained through the instincts He put within it. 
The time has come when it must "mount up with wings as an eagle" to the highest place it can find, away from everything distracting and remain alone.


The aging eagle finds a high flat rock in the direct sunshine. For two weeks it works hard to rub and scrape its talons against the rock to sharpen them again. It knocks its beak repeatedly against the rock or a branch to break off the calcium deposits, until the old beak crumbles away revealing a renewed one. If necessary, it flies headlong into a rock to accomplish that.


The eagle occasionally returns to the fresh stream in the valley to drink from the cool water and to bathe frequently to get rid of all lice, parasites, and mud. All the while it is plucking out its worn feathers until it is nearly naked. This is undoubtedly painful, but its remarkable instinct tells it that this pruning is necessary for renewal. The eagle spends most of its time resting quietly and warming itself in the sun and heavenly breezes. It renews itself for 40 days until it grows new feathers, and all of its functions are revived as good as new. Its eyes become clear as a young eagle's again, its talons and beak are restored to sharpness, and its normal strength has returned. God let the bird know that it wasn't finished with the life God planned for it yet.

When the eagle senses that the restoration is complete, it takes off again soaring into the heights, crying loudly with its renewed voice and with the rejuvenated capabilities and strength of a young eagle. Once renewed, it is said that if you put it side by side with a young eagle only a year and a half old, you can't tell the difference. Psalm 103:5 has been demonstrated!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A DAY WITHOUT WORK CLOTHES

My Lord and I met this morning for our usual early rendezvous at which time I'm accustomed to listen and receive orders and enablement for the day. A very private time in the secret of His presence. I've been serving the Lord for a long, long time.


“What's on Your agenda for me today, Lord?” I had begun pulling on my usual spiritual work clothes. “What do You want me to do?”


Nothing.”


“Excuse me? There's so much Kingdom work to do. Night is coming when no man can work....”


Smiling, “Don't you think I know that better than you do?”


“...all those leftover things to do from yesterday, from last month, last year.... We'll be getting behind....”


I'm taking care of them. Trust Me. Didn't you leave them in My hands?”


“Yes, but don't I still have to....?”


No, you don't. Relax. They are in process and My will shall be done in My eternal time just as your prayers will be answered in due time.”


“But what will happen if I don't...?”


You might see some miracles that you didn't really need to be involved in.”


“Don't You need me anymore?” I was beginning to feel obsolete, as if He was putting me on the shelf after so many years of serving Him.”


Your ready obedience to my still, small voice and your availability to serve me is a delight to Me. I know I can count on you. But listen to me now—”


“Okay, Lord, I'm listening.”


I want you simply to be with Me. Don't do anything today. I have created multitudes of angels to do my bidding. I created My human children for companionship, for relationship.”


I quietly laid aside my work clothes and sat down close to Him. The pressure of activity slipped off my shoulders.


I have provided green pastures for you to lie in and still waters to restore your soul. You need a respite between all of your doing. Only one thing is needful.” He laid His fingers on my lips to keep me from speaking. “Hush! Be still and listen to My heart.”


I don't know how long we sat there together, my Lord and I. The years fell away as I leaned close to His bosom like a child again despite my accumulation of calendar years. In His embrace we communed heart to heart without words. Time was irrelevant.


Life went on. His Kingdom work went forward—with my hands-on involvement—or without.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

MY Emerging Generation



I like the term “emerging” better than some of the other attempts to find labels for the young who follow us generationally. I feel the same way about using the more affirmative term “developing” nations instead of the label “third world” countries. 

I acknowledge that I am calendar-challenged and even beyond the top of the actuarial age ladder with almost everyone else at different stages of climbing the rungs behind me. Most of their lives are yet to be lived. I have already “emerged” like a butterfly from its cocoon and for scores of years been flying about doing what I believed is God's will in His plan among the flowers I was meant to pollinate.

Nevertheless, there may still be more flowers for me to pollinate. I have family cocoons around from which human butterflies are still in the process of emerging. In fact, I just took a count—I found 38 in my Emerging Generational circle, in my blood line or my blended line, you might say. We were blessed with three more precious infants since my 90th birthday partial group picture two years ago.

These precious people-of-my-heart range from AARP-eligible to infants less than a year old. I count in my Emerging Generation my four adult sons, spouses, grandchildren, their spouses, and great-grands each in process of emerging like a butterfly from his or her various life chrysalis. Whatever exes there may be, and blended families embraced, and adopted gems God planned to be within our circle are equally a part of my heart and my concern.

At the beginning of this new year, when thinking about my lifetime “Bucket List,” I felt God's nudge to add still another “word” of the year for my greater emphasis—“invest” in the sense of prayer and concern and encouragement and time into the lives of my Emerging Generation one by one. I consider it God's mandate and my responsibility to do so as consistently as He gives me opportunity and wisdom. I realize that I probably won't be around to see most of the returns. That is of little consequence. My faithfulness to help even just a little to set in motion God's overall direction for each of them is what matters.

If in any given instance, I'm limited to prayer alone, I have no doubt that my earnest prayers for each one of them will outlive my “earth suit” body life. None of our prayers are ignored or discarded in some angelic waste basket beside God's throne as being insignificant or unworthy or too audacious to answer. Once prayed from our lips or heart or spirit or with groaning, all of our prayers are everlasting. They never vanish. They are forever on God's front burner, so to speak, until answered perfectly in His way and will and timing, even if my prayer for some of them takes scores of years or generations to be realized.

Through being privileged to make some consistent investment in the lives of my Emerging Generation, I seek to water and nurture their God-given potential by my encouragement. I may offer a word of wisdom—but only if asked for. If not, I pray for my own wisdom to zip the lip.

What beautiful butterflies are hiding and developing in those ordinary-looking cocoons that are so beloved to me? I dare not force them open or interfere with God's timing for their debut into the atmosphere God has prepared for them. What delight I expect to feel from my vantage point in heaven when I see the fulfillment of God's plan in each of their lives—a field full of butterflies whom I knew when they were in their caterpillar stage!


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

MAKING RESOLUTIONS?


Many of my friends don't bother to make resolutions anymore—at the beginning of a New Year or at any beginning. What's the use? they figure. “Within a day or two of the drop of the crystal ball I've already broken all that I resolved. I wake up the next morning the same-old, same-old person I was before and it just discourages me.”

I understand that. I've continually experienced such disappointment. I kept diaries of sorts from my early childhood. I actually have a box of them stored away somewhere. They had little keys to lock them shut, whatever the purpose was of that. Probably so that my mother wouldn't read what I was thinking? In my childish handwriting I seemed to be continually making childish resolutions...and breaking them.

Nevertheless, I believe in making resolutions. I could became disheartened since I've continued to keep journals throughout my life and have stacks of them. The cheap spiral kind that you buy at the dollar store. Would you believe, below represents only the last decade or so?
    And at the end of each year I flip back over at least ten of them to rate myself on how I've done. My resolutions are monotonously repetitive—I'm looking at the same general and also specific resolutions year after year—the areas in which I've succeeded are few but the failure list is long.

As a child, at least I was trying and learning how to improve. I give myself kudos for the attempt. But what is my rationale as a nonagenarian to keep making resolutions? Am I seriously thinking that I can still change, improve, amend my falling-short ways and modify my behavior for the better? At what point should I give up and accept that I have already become all that I will ever become, that in my personality, life style, "earth suit" and spirituality I am now stuck permanently in cement?
Yes, I'm still at itmaking resolutions not only at New Years but at many points throughout any calendar year. I'm joining the apostle Paul in confessing that not only have I “not attained” but that I continue to “press on” (make resolutions). When he wrote that passage in his letter to the Christians at Philippi, he was aged and exhausted with the struggles of spreading the gospel in hostile places and among people where he was often not welcome. Nevertheless, he was still intentional, deliberately pushing forward with optimism, straining ahead, always climbing, not stuck on a plateau.

I too must be intentional to move forward by making resolutions that are anchored not in my self-effort or wishful thinking, but in the ability and willingness of God to provide me with the strength and wisdom to press on. What are resolutions?  They are simply defining and setting goals. Unless I define a target and take aim I will never achieve anything.
While I 'm alive and breathing, I'm continually in process and incomplete and surely still malleable, able to be transformed all the way to stepping over into the Eternal Dimension. The principle? The higher I aim and the higher I resolve, the greater my chances of success, if I lean into God's promise, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
So...here I go again: