Monday, January 15, 2018

The Manifold Wisdom of God

Next Sunday I start a new job as the part-time, interim pastor of Euroa Baptist Church. It will be my first experience of being a solo pastor. Though I have been a pastor’s wife for 25 years.

This wasn’t the career path I was imagining for myself ten years ago. At that time I was managing a library and loving it. I expected to remain in that type of role for the rest of my working life. But God had other ideas. I was cleaning the house one day when I was struck by a thought. Though ‘struck’ is too mild, smacked, whacked or walloped would be better. It came completely out of the blue with great force, and it was, “You’re going to be a pastor.”

I didn’t initially realize that this was from God and I was about to burst into hysterical laughter, because I thought the idea was so unlikely and so ridiculous. But the next thought that popped into my head was, “Remember Sarah.” I remembered that Sarah laughed when God told her she was going to have a baby and God wasn’t pleased. So I didn’t laugh.

It took a while for me to get my head around the idea of being a pastor. I had started some theological studies 12 months previously to obtain a diploma, now it seemed like a good idea to continue. Four years later I had a degree in Christian ministry. Even then, going into pastoral ministry seemed unlikely. We had lived mostly in rural towns and generally these churches didn’t encourage women to preach.

Then about 18 months ago, my husband and I were asked to be joint interim pastors at Wangaratta. I thought they probably only really wanted my husband and I would just tag along. However, the church gave me lots of opportunities to be involved in pastoral ministry. And so from there, I was asked to take up the role at Euroa by myself.

I was wondering how my writing would fit into this new role. I like to write Christian living material and I have found that I have been able to turn some chapters of my (unpublished) books into sermons. I’m also discovering that I can turn some sermons into chapters of future books, though this is a lot more work. It takes me about 8-10 hours to write a 4,000 word sermon. From a writing perspective, I preach first drafts, because for me to polish a sermon to a publishable standard, would take more time than I can justify, given that I have other responsibilities as a pastor.

It leads me to wonder about all the preachers in small country churches throughout Australia writing sermons every Sunday. Some are producing the equivalent of four books a year for about thirty people. Then I think about all the other unseen Christian writing. People writing Bible studies, children’s material for Kids Church, youth talks, yet they will never be published and may only reach a handful of people.

Why do we do it?

Because God’s plan is to make his manifold wisdom known: “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians 3:10-11).

How do we do that?

We do it, by living by faith. We do things that don’t make sense from a human perspective, like writing book length material for thirty people or less. Living sacrificially, using our resources to help others, devoting our time and energy to our local gathering of believers, worshipping God, learning to adopt godly attitudes.

As we do these things we are announcing to the heavenly realm that we believe these are worthwhile uses of our time and resources. The outworking of our faith makes a powerful statement to the spiritual forces that would oppose us. It’s what the book of Job teaches us, living by faith defeats our spiritual enemies.

It’s a mind-blowing concept.

Mostly we are unaware of what is going on in the heavenly realms. Yet your life and mine are making a statement to rulers and authorities who are watching to see if we live out our calling.

Our goal in life and in writing, is to make known God’s manifold wisdom.

*****

Susan Barnes likes to help people to trust God more deeply, by writing devotional thoughts on Bible passages, book reviews & inspirational articles. She loves to challenge people's thinking and regularly blogs at www.susanbarneswriter.com.

Receive her free ebook, 10 Things My Children Taught Me About God, by signing up for her monthly newsletter via her website.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

CWD Member Interview - Lynne Stringer



Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from. 

My name is Lynne Stringer and I was born in London but am now an Australian citizen. We moved to Australia in 1973. My mother is Australian and my father English. They met in the bookshop where they both worked while she was on a working holiday. Isn’t that romantic?😊



Question 2: Tell us about your writing.  What do you write and why?

I write because I have stories knocking on the inside of my head, demanding release. They have to come out. I write mainly for the young adult market and more for the secular market than the Christian one, although my stories are, of course, influenced by my Christian faith.


Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?

My books are written mainly for young adults and I find that many are drawn especially to my debut novel, The Heir (Verindon #1). I’ve also found that people of all ages, even ones who don't like science fiction, usually love it once they've read it. 

I think the most exciting encounter I've had with someone who loved my books was the day I was walking my son to school when I was wearing a t-shirt dedicated to The Heir. I knew that the school’s book club had read my book and one of the high school students came up to me and said, ‘Are you Lynne Stringer, the author of The Heir? I loved it so much!’ It was very exciting!

I’d love my books to be made into movies so if anyone with industry clout read them I would be happy.



Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?

Because I’m also a professional editor, I find there are times of the year where I become exhausted from reading and writing and need to take a break. That might sound strange but that’s the way it is. I usually find it kicks back in again after I’ve had a holiday but sometimes writing can feel like work. 

However, as I once worked as a journalist, I’ve learnt how to write in spite of that. For example, I know that if I really need to write and can’t think of what to say I just write complete and utter rubbish, knowing that, sooner or later, I’ll find my way and then I can go and fix up the rough parts later. It’s hard but it’s a great way to break through something like writer’s block.



Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why?

I don’t really have one. I usually find I don’t learn well from what I read in instructional books. I'm more of a 'hands on' person.


Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?

Can I say two? Jeanette O’Hagan and Adele Jones. Both are fantastic writers and they’ve become good friends. We go to events together and complement each other well in what we write.





Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2018? How will you achieve them?

I am hoping that my latest manuscript will be published and perhaps another as well. I’ll be trying one with a new publisher so that will be an adventure. I have also just started writing a new manuscript. I hope it will be my best work yet.
 

Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?

Everything I write is written with the idea that the God I worship has a high standard. However, I’m also writing about people who will never meet that standard, so I walk the line between honouring God and writing realistic scenarios in speculative fiction settings. It’s an interesting mix.





Lynne Stringer has been passionate about writing all her life, beginning with short stories in her primary school days. She began writing professionally as a journalist and was the editor of a small newspaper (later magazine) for seven years, before turning her hand to screenplay writing and novels. She now works as a professional editor and proofreader.



Lynne is the author of the Verindon trilogy, a young adult science fiction romance series released in 2013. The Heir was the first in the trilogy, followed by The Crown and The Reign. Her latest novel, released in October 2016, is Once Confronted, a contemporary drama. Visit Lynne's website for more information.

You can follow Lynne on:
Facebook
Twitter
Amazon
Goodreads
Pinterest

You may also enjoy the following sites:
Wombat Books
Rhiza Press