Seven Biblical Principles on How to Hang On

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. — 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV)

Seven Biblical Principles on How to Hang On

Is life getting you down? Do you feel like you’re at the end of your rope? Here are seven Biblical principles on how to hang on when you feel like you’re at the end of your rope.

Principle One: Remember God Loves You

  • Don’t lose heart! – Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. — 2 Corinthians 4:1 (NIV)
  • I am what I am – But by the grace of God I am what I am, … — 1 Corinthians 15:10 (NIV)
  • It’s not who we are. It’s whose we are! – Remember our performance does not give us our worth.
  • God’s grace gives us the power to start over. – Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. — Romans 8:37

Principle Two: Keep a Clear Conscience

  • Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. — 2 Corinthians 4:2 (NIV)
  • We must have integrity.
  • We must have character.

Principle Three: It’s Not All About You

  • For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. — 2 Corinthians 4:5 (NIV)
  • Your ego will only take you so far.

Principle Four: You Cannot Do It All

  • But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. — 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV)
  • We must pace ourselves. Life is a journey, not a sprint.

Principle Five: Love, Love, Love

  • All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. — 2 Corinthians 4:15 (NIV)
  • Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever. — Psalm 136:26 
  • The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. — Zephaniah 3:17
  • For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. — John 3:16

Principle Six: Learn to Refresh, Renew,  and Revive

  • Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. — 2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV)

Principle Seven: Keep Your Eyes on the Goal

  • For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. — 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NIV)

Remember — You’re less likely to create if you don’t face your troubles and hang on until you reach your goal.


Photo Credit: Pixabay

The Influence of a Writing Mentor

Mentor

One way a writer can become successful is by having a more established writer as a mentor. While writing groups can serve as a mentor, the right personal mentor will help improve your writing by giving you guidance each step of the way. Let me share an example of the influence a mentor.

In 1919 a young veteran returned from World War I. He moved to Chicago moving into a particular neighborhood for the purpose of being close to the author Sherwood Anderson.

Sherwood Anderson

The critical praise for Anderson and his book Winesburg, Ohio impressed a young, beginning writer. This hopeful writer had heard that Sherwood Anderson was willing to help aspiring writers. He worked to meet Anderson. The two men became close friends. They met almost every day to read newspapers, magazines, and novels. They dissected the writings they read.

Ernest Hemingway

The aspiring writer brought his own works for critique having Anderson help him improve his craft. Anderson went as far as introducing the want-to-be writer to his network of publishing contacts. The aspiring writer did okay with his first book The Sun Also Rises. The aspiring writer was Ernest Hemingway.

William Faulkner

Sherwood Anderson didn’t stop there. He moved to New Orléans where he met another aspiring writer. He took the young man through the same steps and paces of the craft. He became roommates with this young man. He even invested $300 in getting this writer’s first book Soldier’s Pay published. This young author was William Faulkner.

John Steinbeck

Anderson would later move to California and repeat the process with John Steinbeck. Thomas Wolfe and Erskine Caldwell were also mentored by Sherwood Anderson.

Ray Bradbury says Winesburg, Ohio was on his mind when he wrote The Martian Chronicles. Bradbury basically wrote Winesburg, Ohio placing it on the planet Mars.

Mark Twain

Arguably, only Mark Twain has had a greater influence in shaping modern American writing than Sherwood Anderson. Anderson didn’t do too badly, did he?

Nobel Prize for Literature and Pulitzer Prizes

William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck each won the Nobel Prize for Literature and there are multiple Pulitzer Prizes between them.

If you are serious about writing I urge you to find a mentor or join a writing group. The people in my writer’s and critique group keeps me encouraged and motivated.

Encourage your writer friends, keep reading and writing.
Jimmie Aaron Kepler


Photo Source: Public Domain

 

Hope for the Caregiver- Chapter Nine

It’s Scary

A typical feeling for one faced with caring for a person with a chronic illness is fear. The unknown and uncertainty of what you will encounter will scare you. It’s scary. If the loved one you are caring for is facing cancer, the very word cancer often has death or at least its possibility confronting us. You wonder how the disease will progress and how your loved one will be impacted. If the one receiving care is recovering from a stroke, you wonder if they will ever be normal again or how you will adjust to caring for them and their new normal. 

My Story

I’ve reflected on one of the last conversations I had with my late wife. Here’s the setting. We had agreed to hospice care. She was mentally back to near normal for a few hours. She and I were alone in the hospital room. She would be transported in a couple of days to inpatient hospice.

Her words that caught me entirely off guard were, “Thank you for caring for me. Thank you for not leaving me when I was diagnosed with cancer and especially as cancer progressed. I was so blessed having God give you to me as my husband. I’ve never doubted your love and never thought you would ever abandon or leave me. Even when you or I messed up over the years of our marriage, you always made the proper adjustments and course corrections, loved me unconditionally keeping the family and me as the priority. I don’t fear death. I know God is with me. I look forward to heaven, Jesus, and seeing family and friends. I love you. Thank you for sharing your life with me. Thank you.”

I then received a hand squeeze from her. I returned the hand squeeze and kissed her forehead.

I told her I had been the one who was lucky and blessed.

The Bible Says

Isaiah 41:10 (KJV), “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

The Meaning Of the Bible Verse

The verse’s meaning is best seen when examined in context with two preceding verses. Isaiah 41:8-10 (KJV), “But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham, my friend. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

The whole passage is one of great tenderness. I am with thee (that is, God is with you). I (God) will strengthen thee (now and in the future). I have strengthened thee (in times past). There is a reminder that God has chosen thee). We see a declaration of past favors as well as prophetic words for future favors since God is unchanging.

Today’s Scripture reminds us that God is with us. We do not face today or tomorrow alone.

Pray Using the Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, we fear not because You are here with us as we care for our loved one. 
  2. We are not heartbroken or dismayed because we know You are our God.
  3. We rejoice and claim Your promises that You will strengthen us.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. Are you claiming God’s promises to help you? Have you made od aware of the areas of your needs? Pray and place your cares before God.
  2. Close your eyes and visualize God being in the room with you as you care for your loved one. Thank Him for holding you up with the right hand of His righteousness.
  3. Have you reminded your loved one that God is there with you? Have you prayed with them today acknowledging your trust in God to lead you both through the day? Thank God for being there with you.

Photo Credit: Pixabay


How to Have a Friend

As I write this post, it’s a Tuesday morning. I’m writing at my favorite Starbucks. I love Tuesday’s as this coffeehouse has a little more traffic than usual this morning.

 

The reason for the increased customer traffic is a running club meets here on Tuesday and Friday. They’ve come here for over twenty-five years. A number of them are good acquaintances. A couple of the members attended my wife’s funeral last spring. They always ask how I am doing, what I am writing, how my book sales are doing, and share what they are reading. They ask what I’m reading as well.

 

This morning I asked one how loves history what he’s reading. His face lit up with joy. He shared his excitement on the latest book he is dipping into. He also commented he had found my blog, Kepler’s Book Reviews. 

 

He said I should have told him about it.

 

I replied I simply post reviews of some of the books I have read and liked. I stated I write a short review on what I read and post some of them.

 

What’s my point?

 

Even the Bible tells us in Proverbs 18:24a (KJV), “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly:”

 

Not into the Bible? The writer/poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”  The poet Rod McKuen penned, “Strangers are friends just waiting to happen.”

 

The post’s title is “How to Have a Friend.” The answer is to be one!

 

Why not add at least one new friend, even a casual one to your circle? You will both be blessed.

Photo Source: Pixabay

Walk In A Manner Worthy Of Your Call To Write

 

Walk in a Manner Worthy of Your Call to Write

Text: Ephesians 4: 1 – 6
Focus: Ephesians: 4: 1b – 3

Are you a Christian writer that writes inspirational fiction or devotions to encourage Believers in Jesus Christ? Maybe you are a writer whose drive is sharing Christian themes and principles for the mainstream market. Whatever your motivation, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,” Ephesians 4:1b.

Ephesians 4:1-6 (English Standard Version) says,

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, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

These verses give five principles that will help you: Walk In A Manner Worthy Of Your Call To Write

Humility

Principle One: Humility – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility” – Ephesians 4: 1b—2a

As a Christian writer, you should be full of Jesus, not self. The temptation is to be full of ourselves. When this happens, we are at risk of treating others with contempt. It should be about others, not ourselves.

Gentleness

Principle Two: Gentleness – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience,” Ephesians 4: 1b- 2a

As a Christian writer, you should be bold but under control. This does not mean to be a wimp. Just as a mighty racehorse is under the control of the jockey, as a Believer, we need to be under the control of the Spirit of the Living God. Share the love Jesus and his teachings without beating the reader over the head with the Holy Bible. Share how God’s Word is applicable to everyday living.

Patience

Principle Three: Patience – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience,” Ephesians 4: 1b- 2a

As a Christian writer, we need to trust God in believing His word would come true. We need to keep on keeping on. We need to accept the fact that it takes time to develop our writing craft.  “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but wish patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” — 2 Peter 3:9

It is better to have a limited audience and impact lives for Christ than to be a New York Times bestselling author and have no impact or testimony for Christ.

Forgiving Love

Principle Four: Forgiving Love – “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: 1b – 2.

As a Christian writer, we need to realize Christian love covers a multitude of sins. We should write with a respect that loves no matter what. We have all heard it said, “hate the sin, love the sinner.” That is precisely what we must do as writers. After all, as a Christian, you are, by grace saved through faith … it is the gift of God.  Ephesians 2:8-10

In Christ, we need to love people from where they are to faith and growth in Christ.

Unity of the Spirit in the Bond Of Peace

Principle Five: Unity of the Spirit in the Bond Of Peace – “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:3 English Standard Version

Principal five is the sum of points one through four. All four points equal a bond of peace. We are bearing one another in love. Our writing should share and bring people to Christ, not drive them from Christ. “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” – Ephesians 4:4-6 (English Standard Version).

We need to realize it is not a geographical or a denominational thing; it is a Jesus and a God thing.

Encourage your friends, keep reading and writing.
Jimmie A. Kepler

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Photo Source: Pixabay

This is an original devotion written by Jimmie A. Kepler on May 4, 2012, and edited on July 6, 2013, and August 26, 2018. 

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Eight

Sometimes We Feel No One Cares

When dealing with a chronic illness, there are times when we feel no one understands or cares. There is hope. We are not alone.

Jesus cares. In fact, he shares sympathy with you. Jesus knows you. He shares the feelings you have. He is in tune with you. God empathizes with you.

My Story

When my late wife Miss Benita was diagnosed with Melanoma Cancer I knew it was bigger than she or I could handle. We would need lots of help, prayers, and support. 

I immediately started a secret Facebook Group named “Benita’s Family & Friends.” I invited family, friends, church members, coworkers, and acquaintances to join. This included friends from high school and college days. It included her former boyfriends.

I had no doubt Miss Benita’s fight was cancer was more than we could handle, but not too big for God. I also knew from my working with social media at the day job regularly updated content was needed to keep people engaged with the social media.

The first posting was on the day of her first surgery. I made a daily entry for one thousand and one days. That is how long she lived. 

As I wrote the daily update and prayer I could feel her life passing away like sand slipping through an hourglass. We shared prayer requests with our church and Bible fellowship class. We shared them with coworkers. My day job had a chaplain’s department. They regularly ministered to us.  I never felt like God had forsaken us. However, many days I felt very alone. 

Miss Benita was very private and very caring. Because of my having had heart and stroke issues over the last thirty-six years she and our children had worked to protect me from stressful situations for years. This choice to care more about me than herself early in her illness had me at times feeling alone and excluded. 

All I knew to do was pray. and read my Bible. I read the Bible verse John 11:35 one morning. It simply says, “Jesus wept.” It was a good reminder for me that no matter what, Jesus cared, Jesus was aware, and He empathized with me. 

Amazingly in the last few weeks, Miss Benita told me that even with the Melanoma Cancer, she always felt she would outlive me. She did a great job of sharing her thoughts, concerns (she had almost none), trust in God, and let me help in almost every aspect of the last two and one-half years of her battle. 

She told me she never felt alone. She knew I was there for and would be with her until death did we part. She also felt God’s loving presence and the prayers lifted on her behalf. I thanked her for sharing her life with me and she thanked me for loving her and her parents and siblings unconditionally. 

The Bible Says

John 11:35 (KJV), “Jesus wept.”

The Meaning of the Bible Verse

God empathizes with you.

Pray Using the Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, thank you for paying attention to our hurts and cares.
  2. Lord Jesus, as today’s verse says, “Jesus wept.” Thank you for caring enough to cry with us and to comfort us.
  3. God, help us as your word teaches in 1 Peter 5:7 (KJV), “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. Are there times when you feel lonely as you care for your loved one? It is okay to feel this way. Remember God is here for you all the time. Talk to Him and let Him know how you feel.
  2. Do you have a support network? Many churches offer support groups for caregivers. Consider joining one.
  3. Are you reading your Bible and praying on a regular basis?  You don’t need special training or a theological education to do this. It can be as simple as reading a chapter of your Bible a day. I suggest reading a Psalm or Proverb to start. When you are lonely or struggling simply tell God. An example is to pray, “God, this is so hard. Help me make it through cleaning the potty chair or calling another doctor office to deal with a billing issue.” 

Photo Source: Pixabay

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Seven

Extending Life

Tafinlar and Mekinist were Miss Benita’s chemotherapy prescription medications. The prescriptions are used for the treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic Melanoma with BRAF V600E or V600K mutations. These were the mutations of Melanoma she had. Sadly, I know more about Melanoma than I ever wanted to know.

Metastatic Melanoma with BRAF V600E or V600K mutations were detected by an FDA-approved test as the specific type of Melanoma mutation Miss Benita battled. The Tafinlar and Mekinist were also used because of involvement of the thirty-four lymph nodes, following complete resection. Tafinlar and Mekinist were used as an adjuvant treatment. 

What is an adjuvant treatment?

In Miss Benita’s case, it was using a pharmacological agent that modified the effect of other agents. It changed the immune response by boosting it such as to give a higher amount of antibodies and longer-lasting protection. It was used to enhance the efficacy of the Tafinlar and Mekinist by helping to modify the immune response to particular types of immune system cells. 

My Story

One Monday Benita shared, “Woo Hoo! Praise the Lord! Hallelujah!!! I got word from the oncologist today (Monday) that there was no sign of Melanoma in my CT scan. Thank you all so much for your prayers. That’s the good news of the day. The bad news was my cholesterol is up, and my primary doc said I need to have fish oil and recheck the blood work in a month. So pray I can swallow those giant fish oil pills.”

I recall how Benita was confused when friends and acquaintances responded saying it was great she had been healed. A few commented they were glad she no longer required their prayers. Others mentioned how wonderful she was cured.

She said they don’t understand. I still have Melanoma. All the scan means is at present the Tafinlar and Mekinist have the Melanoma under control. The prescriptions don’t cure cancer. Only God can do that. They just help extend my life. I can’t take the medicines forever. Sure, cancer might go into remission short or long-term but from what the oncologist says unless I have a miracle it will recur within six to nine months once I have completed the chemotherapy treatment using the Tafinlar and Mekinist.

Eight months after completing the Tafinlar and Mekinist treatments she was diagnosed with a recurrence of the Melanoma in a brain tumor. She lived four months and five days after the brain tumor was found. She lived twelve months after completing the Tafinlar and Mekinist treatments.

God is Jehovah Rapha – God our healer of all our diseases. 

No, God did not let us down by not healing Miss Benita’s illness. I believe when she passed away she was instantly in heaven with God. She was cancer and disease free. I know because of her faith in Jesus Christ she believed this too.

The Bible Says

Isaiah 57:18 (KJV), “I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.”

The Meaning Of The Bible Verse

I like how Barnes Notes on the Bible explains the passage. 

“I have seen his ways – That is, either his ways of sin, or of repentance most probably it means the former; and the idea is, that God had seen how prone his people were to sin and that he would now interpose and correct their proneness to sin against him, and remove from them the judgments which had been brought upon them in consequence of their crimes.

And will heal him – That is, I will pardon and restore him. Sin, in the Scriptures, is often represented as a disease, and pardon and salvation as a healing of the disease And will heal him – That is, I will pardon and restore him. Sin, in the Scriptures, is often represented as a disease, and pardon and salvation as a healing of the disease.” 

Pray Using The Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, thank you for caring enough to see our ways.
  2. Lord Jesus, thank you for the provision of restoration – be it through healing or even better, through salvation.
  3. Let your Spirit teach our spirit how to live to Your honor and glory each day.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. Have you ever accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Ultimate healing comes through confession of sin and trusting Jesus as your Savior.
  2. What areas of your life do you find yourself facing struggles? Trust God by asking Him to help you through these issues.
  3. It’s hard when you pray for healing, and a disease isn’t cured. Growing tired and weary as you care for a loved one is normal. Realize you don’t have to do everything in your own strength and power. Ask God to help you. 

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