Quiet Time With God

Time With God

“I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word.” Psalm 119:147 NKJV

1. Set a Regular Time

Psalm 119:147a – “I rise before the dawning of the morning, …”

The Psalmist has a regular time designated for meeting God. He rises early in the morning. While rising early in the morning is good the key is to have a regular time.

While the implication is the Psalmist does it every day, that isn’t stated. What is important is to do it consistently. Don’t let Satan get you down when you miss a day by hearing a voice criticizing you or telling you you can’t do it since you missed a day.

I like the term regular as opposed to daily. Surprisingly I find Sunday the most difficult day of the week to spend personal alone time with God. I don’t let Satan defeat me when I don’t read and reflect on the word of God on the day I go to church and participate in Bible study and corporate worship.

Don’t let Satan focus on the one or two days in seven you miss. Instead, rejoice in the time you spend with God.

Also, you don’t have to get up before sunrise to meet God. I recommend a regular place and time. I have joked with friends saying God knows where I am going to be and when I am going to be there for my regular time with Him.

2. Share Your Heart

Psalm 119:147b – “…And cry for help;”

Part of my time with God is reading His word. I remember when I was younger the minister would suggest we read the Bible through each year. We would be given plans that told us what we should be reading each day. For years I failed miserably.

My late mother suggested I don’t put so much pressure on myself to check off reading three or more chapters a day. She told me the first time she read the Bible through took her five years. She started at Genesis and read sometimes a few verses and other times a few pages.

Each day, she would leave a bookmark where she had finished reading. She did this for days, then weeks, then months, and finally five years later she had finished reading the entire Bible. She started over the next day and this time it was only two years before she finished making it through. By the time she was 80 years old, she was reading the Bible through a couple of times a year.

She said God honored her feeble efforts over the years by having the word she needed for each time she approached His throne of grace.

She taught me how to tell God how I loved Him, to cry out and confess my sin. She taught me 1 John 1:9 (author’s paraphrase) – “If I confess my sin He is faithful and just to forgive me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.” She also taught me to thank God for all He did for me and my family as well as to pray for others.

3. Hope in God

Psalm 119:147c – “I hope in Your word.”

My pastor and the late Dr. Calvin Miller taught me how to have hope.

I remember worrying about getting a church and having a ministry when I first attended seminary over four decades ago. My pastor had the word I needed to hear. He said God doesn’t call a person to ministry without having a place for them to serve. He shared Genesis 12:1 (NKJV) – “Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house To a land that I will show you.”

My pastor said, “God told Abraham to go before He told Him where the journey would take him. God will be as faithful to you.” Later when I began writing the same pastor told me, “When God tells you to write, write. He’ll take care of the audience. He may be having you write for your personal growth or to influence the masses. Sometimes it is just for one or two people who need to hear the word you are sharing. He told me to give equal attention to writing a column in a church newsletter as you would to writing a book with a million-dollar advance.”

Later, the wisdom of his words found an example when I was attending a writing conference in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the late 1980s. I was in a session with the late Dr. Calvin Miller. He shared how his book The Phillipian Fragment began as a series of weekly pastor’s columns in the church newsletter. An editor who was on the mailing list read them and approached him about turning them into a book.

I believe the bottom line is when we spend regular time with God, God honors us for honoring Him.

Image by Cara Shelton from Pixabay

Defeating Giants In Your Christian Writing Life

1 Samuel 17:40 English Standard Version (ESV), “Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.”

If You Are Going to Defeat The Giants In Your Christian Writing Life You Need To Use The Five Stones:

Stone One: Check You Purpose

Is it worthy enough to consume your time, energy, etc.? 

Why are you writing what you’re writing? We all know it is better to write a book or article that touches one life for Christ than to write smut that sells hundreds of thousands of copies. Is there an audience for your work?

Jeremiah 33:3 (ESV), “Call to me, and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”

As Believers, we pray more when challenged with a cause.

John 14:13-14 (ESV), “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

Being used by God and working in the Holy Spirit’s power is a privilege. 

Mark 11:24 (ESV), “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Stone Two: Count the Cost

To defeat Goliath, David had to:

1. Pay the price of criticism. 

We get that as writers from family members who say we need a real job or writing is a hobby and from reviewers and our writing group who don’t like or get our work.

2. Pay the price in loneliness. 

Admit it; there is a lot of loneliness and solitude in writing. Are you willing to spend the time with your behind in the chair?

Stone Three: Chart Your Course

Know your target audience. Who are you writing for and why?

1 Samuel 17:34-36 (ESV), “But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”

Stone Four: Consider Your Christ

Remember, David didn’t confront and kill Goliath alone. He gives us an example of positive faith that we can apply to our writing.

1 Samuel 17:45 (ESV), “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”

Do you include prayer in your writing preparation? Do you ask God to show you what you should be writing and to let His thoughts be your thoughts as you put words on paper?

Philippians 4:13 (ESV), “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

This verse includes four positives things:
  1. I can – is positive thinking.
  2. I can do – is a positive action.
  3. I can do all things – is positive faith.
  4. I can do all things through Christ – is a positive power.

Stone Five: Charge Your Challenge

Now get after it! Get your behind in the chair and write!

1 Samuel 17:51-52 (ESV), “Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron.”

Conclusion:

We kill the giants in our own writing lives because those needing to read what God has placed on our hearts will never see the words in print or kill the giants in their lives until we do it in our lives.


Photo Credit: Image by Ralf Kunze from Pixabay

My Coffeehouse Writing Habit

Where I Write

I’m doing my morning writing at one of my favorite Starbucks. I like the location on Preston Road just north of Lorimar in Plano, Texas. I write here most mornings.

The photo is of my writing-table. I usually sit at the same table each morning. From left to right in the picture, you see my laptop bar, my personal porcelain Starbucks coffee cup. Using the cup not only helps the environment by decreasing the number of paper cups in landfills but it saves me 10 cents a purchase.

My Writing Tools

You can see the MacBook Air I use for writing. It has a 1TB solid-state hard drive as well as 16GB of RAM. It never crashes and is a high-speed computer. I have an external, wireless Bluetooth mouse that I use.

I use some writing specific software like Scrivener and Vellum as well as Microsoft Word for Macintosh.

When I Write

I’m usually at my Starbuck table between 6 to 6:30 AM. The Muse knows where to meet me. Working for years as a US Army officer and later for decades in the information technology field, I learned the power of habit and repeatable processes.
In the Army, we had standard operations procedures. It allowed us to work faster, safer, and more efficiently — and to save lives. In the IT field, we had repeatable procedures. They did the same thing.
Writing at the same place and the same time is kind of the same thing. My brain knows it is time to put fingers to the keyboard and input words into the computer. I also usually listen to the same instrumental music. When it starts, my brain says, “Time to be creative.”
Note: I am not saying you have to follow my routine. You need to find what works for you, to develop your own habit.

Photo Source: The picture was taken by the Author

Wanted: More Christians Writing Good Literature

Why Christian Writers Write

Meet the Poets: Carl Sandburg – 1919 and 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 1940 Pulitzer Prize for History

“I make it clear why I write as I do and why other poets write as they do. After hundreds of experiments, I decided to go my own way in style and see what would happen.” – Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg (January 6, 1878 – July 22, 1967) was an American writer and editor, best known for his poetry. He received three Pulitzer Prizes: two for his poetry and another for his history, a biography of Abraham Lincoln.

Sandburg was almost unknown to the literary world when, in 1914, a group of his poems appeared in the nationally circulated Poetry magazine.

Two years later his book Chicago Poems was published, and the thirty-eight-year-old author found himself on the brink of a career that would bring him international acclaim.

Sandburg published another volume of poems, Cornhuskers, in 1918, and wrote a searching analysis of the 1919 Chicago race riots.

More poetry followed, along with Rootabaga Stories (1922), a book of fanciful children’s tales. That book prompted Sandburg’s publisher, Alfred Harcourt, to suggest a biography of Abraham Lincoln for children. Sandburg researched and wrote for three years, producing not a children’s book, but a two-volume biography for adults. His Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years, published in 1926, was Sandburg’s first financial success.

With the financial success, he moved to a new home on the Michigan dunes and devoted the next several years to completing four more volumes, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940.

Sandburg continued his prolific writing, publishing more poems, a novel, Remembrance Rock, a second volume of folk songs, and an autobiography, Always the Young Strangers.

In 1945 the Sandburg family moved with their herd of prize-winning goats and thousands of books to Flat Rock, North Carolina.

Sandburg’s Complete Poems won him a second Pulitzer Prize in 1951. Sandburg died at his North Carolina home July 22, 1967. His ashes were returned, as he had requested, to his Galesburg birthplace. In the small Carl Sandburg Park behind the house, his ashes were placed beneath Remembrance Rock, a red granite boulder. Ten years later the ashes of his wife were placed there.

Source:  Pulitzer Awards 1919, Pulitzer Awards 1940, and Pulitzer Awards 1951

For more on Carl Sandburg see: http://carl-sandburg.com/biography.htm

One Great Way to Discipline Yourself for Success

Below is a little guide I put together. I call it “One Great Way to Discipline Yourself for Success.”

1. You must master your moods.

Proverbs 25:8 – Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.

2. You must watch your words.

Proverbs 13: 3 – He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.

3. You must restrain your actions.

Proverbs 19:11 – A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

4. You must stick to your schedule.

Ephesians 5:15-16 – Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

5. You must manage your money.

Proverbs 21:20 – The wise person saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.

6. You must maintain your health.

I Thessalonians 4:4 – Each of you should learn to control his own body, keeping it pure and treating it with respect …

The above Bible verses offer a Bible-based, common sense approach to success.


Photo Source: Pixaby

Kepler’s Aphorism #2 – Don’t Plan on Earning Enough Money Writing to Live On

I was sixty-four years old before I was able to write full-time and I don’t make enough money off my writing to support myself solely on my writing income. I required having multiple streams of income to achieve this goal. It also took my being debt free.

Even with my simple lifestyle, my combined earnings from my writing income, interest received on savings, and earnings from a 403B, my income is about what an hourly employee at a big box store earns. I am only able to write full-time through frugality, lack of debt, and a very modest lifestyle.

I have been writing full-time for twelve months. The plus is I have earned money from my writing every month. The minus is the monthly income from just writing has never made me four figures in a month. It helped that I understood the business, have been writing and regularly publishing since 1981, and had multiple books and articles published.

The late Ray Bradbury was one of the first who said don’t plan on making money writing. Bradbury and his wife, who “took a vow of poverty” to marry him, hit thirty-seven years old before they could afford a car. For years he sold newspapers on the street corner to get enough money to pay the rent. He even used a pay typewriter in the UCLA library that charged him twenty-five cents per thirty minutes of writing before he earned enough money to buy his own.

You can be a working writer and earn a modest income. According to BookScan, the average U.S. book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime.  With average royalties that’s less than $5,000 a year for a book and less than $60,000 over a book’s lifetime for an Indie author, you cannot survive on just that income. The earnings figure is significantly less for traditionally published authors.

You can see detailed information on author earnings at Author Earnings.


Photo Source: Pixaby

Creativity and More: The Value of a Liberal Arts Education

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Albert Einstein said, “The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.”

My undergraduate education is a liberal arts education. My major was history and my minors were English and military science. My Master of Arts degree is in Christian education. My broad-based liberal arts education did more than prepare me for a job. It provided the foundation that allows me to compete in the marketplace of ideas. I also completed the core curriculum for a computer science degree.

It has been 43 years since I heard the University of Texas at Arlington President Dr. Nedderman say I had met the requirements for my bachelor’s degree. Within minutes of his pronouncement, I raised my right hand and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the US Army through Army ROTC.

I did not make the military a career. Three years later I headed to graduate school. I was amazed at how prepared I was. I knew how to read, write, study, do research and write research papers, and most importantly how to think.

My UT Arlington liberal arts education taught me how to think independently and make sound judgments. I learned how to expand my horizons, discover new perspectives, and acquire the tools to defend my point of view. My education helped me learn to reflect on life, have a moral and historic compass where I can distinguish good from evil, justice from injustice, and what is noble and beautiful from what is useful.

I have been employed over the years as an officer in the US Army, a minister, educator, corporate trainer, Internet Coordinator, IT Support Analyst, IT Systems Administrator IT Application Engineer, and writer. These have been my day jobs that have supported my 38 plus years of freelance writing. When working in IT it is interesting to see how many persons have undergraduate degrees in the liberal art disciplines. These are the people that know how to think outside the box. These are the people with excellent critical thinking skills. These are the persons that embrace change and know how to successfully deal with it.

What have I done with my history degree? All the above plus I have published hundreds of magazine and trade journal articles. I have published poetry. I have written book reviews. I have a website “Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews.” The site was named a 100 best websites for history buffs. I read and review military history books published under more than a dozen different imprints.

I get asked often by younger adults how I know so much about so much. They say I am a modern renaissance man. My answer: I received a liberal arts education at the University of Texas at Arlington.

How committed am I to a liberal arts education? I have three grown children – all three were liberal arts degrees.


Photo Source: Image created and shared by Jerri Kemble, assistant superintendent at Lawrence (KS) Public Schools, after reading Scott Hartley’s “The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World.”

Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Dreams

Have I mentioned I’m writing my fourth novel?  Oh, I know, everyone is either writing a novel, plans to write a novel or has the next great story idea.  So, with that in mind, I’ll start over.

Writing My Fourth Novel

Did I mention I am writing a novel?

Yes, I am. While I’ve published a science fiction novel, a historical fiction novel, a short story anthology, a poetry collection, and have a second unpublished science fiction novel, I have never published a literary fiction novel. Novel number four is literary fiction.

Even though I have hundreds of paid writing credits over the last 40 years in dozens of trade journals, magazines, literary journals, and science fiction magazines, few people view me as a writer.

Response of Family and Friends

Have you ever noticed the response of family and friends when they learn you are writing a novel?  You know the responses I’m talking about.  You’ve seen them.

There’s the rolling of the eyes up toward the sky.

There’s the bobbing the head up and down while shaking it in disbelief.

Sometimes they will express condolences to a spouse that you’re using your time in this way.  other times they will say “That’s nice.  Everyone needs a hobby.”

When I get responses like these I want to put my hands on their shoulders, look them directly in the eye and say, “Hello, did you hear me? I said I am writing a novel.  That’s because I am a writer!”

At this point they usually repeat, “That’s nice or I thought you worked with computers.”

I reply “Working with computers paid for my passion for writing before I became a full-time writer.”

It’s sad. They still don’t get it.  Oh, I can send them running out of the room in a hurry if I say, “Would you like to hear a chapter?”  Those words are like saying “FIRE, RUN, FLEE FOR YOUR LIFE!”

Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Dreams

I mention all this to say, don’t let anyone steal your dream.  If you’re like me, you have to write.  You can’t help it.  It’s part of who you are.  So write!  And, tell your friends and family that you’re working on a novel.  Let them the progress you are making.  And you can drop me a note from time to time in the comments section.  I’ll understand.