Blogs for poets, writers and all communicators in Christ

When I began this blog on my website, I’d hoped to collect in one place my posts from other blogs. Now that I’ve seen the site only retains prior posts for a limited time, I hope you’ll follow my individual blogs that interest you.

Bible Prayers – brings you prayerfully paraphrased (pray-a-phrased) prayers from the Bible – prayers you can pray in community or alone, knowing you automatically have “prayer partners,” now and from centuries past. These actual prayers from God’s Word have since been collected in a book with many, many more added, but if you “Follow” the blog, you’ll know when the book has been published and new posts resumed.

Bible Reviewer – reviews new editions of English translations, study Bibles, biblical resources, and Bibles for children. Scroll through the posts to find the edition that speaks clearly to you. And, if you want to give the gift of God’s Word to someone else, these reviews will help you to decide which to order.

My personal blog on Blogspot  discusses Bible topics, various aspects of Christianity, sermon tips, devotionals, writing tips and topics based on decades of writing, revising, and having my work accepted by numerous editors and publishers.

Poetry Editor on poetry – focuses on poetry techniques useful in all genres of writing, traditional poetry forms, free verse, unique terms used by poets, and things to consider when writing, revising, marketing, and publishing your poems.

 

Pray First! Then Write.

Some writing projects might not even mention God’s name, but every manuscript needs to begin with prayer as we ask God to guide, inspire, and be with us. In the Lord’s Prayer, also known as the Our Father, Jesus gave us the highest example. Similar to an outline, the prayer can be adapted to lift each need and encompass each occasion, such as this prayer-a-phrase especially for Christian writers:

Our Father Who Is in Heaven,
let Your Name be holy in us.
Let Your Kingdom Come.
Let Your Will be done
in our earthly writings
as though written in Heaven. 

Give us this day our daily bread
to nourish us and our readers and
strengthen the whole Body of Christ.

Forgive us for trespassing
with old assumptions or
biased words that intrude,
and help us to forgive  those
who speak ill of You.

Lead us not into the temptation
of accepting facts without checking
or giving up when our work
seems rejected.

And deliver us from evil –
especially unloving words that speak
unfairly of us or others and reflect
poorly on our LORD God.

For Yours is the Kingdom –
where our work and writing
belong as we long to live
and write in Your Power
for Your Glory forever. Amen.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2019-2013 from the Christian Writer’s Guide e-book

3 ways to get closer to God

Each of these spiritual disciplines provides the basis for a sermon, article, or beginnings of a book. May God guide you as you communicate – clearly, accurately, and lovingly – for Christ.

Pray:

Matthew 6:9 – As Jesus taught us “This is how you’re to pray: Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name….”

Mark 11:24 – Jesus said, “Truly, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe you’ll receive, and it shall be yours.”

Psalm 122:6 – “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!”

1 Thessalonians 5:17 – “Pray constantly.”

Romans 8:26-27 – “The Holy Spirit comes to help us in our weakness. For we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit intercedes with groans that cannot be expressed. And the one who searches our hearts knows the intention of the Spirit, Who intercedes for us according to God’s will.”

Ephesians 6:18 – “Be alert! In every situation, pray in the Spirit. Use every kind of prayer and request for God’s people.”

Matthew 5:44 – As Jesus told us, “Love your enemies. Pray for those who mistreat you.”

Mark 11:25 – Jesus also taught, “When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a complaint or grudge, so your heavenly Father may forgive your offenses.”

Confess:

Psalm 32:1-6 – “When I kept silent about my sins, even my bones ached from groaning. Your hand felt heavy upon me, and my strength drained as in summer heat! But when I acknowledged my sin and no longer tried to hide it, You forgave me and took away my guilt.”

Proverbs 28:13 – “Those who conceal their sins do not prosper. Those who confess and turn from their wrongdoing will receive mercy.”

1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

James 5:16 – “And so, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so you may be healed.”

Romans 10:9 – “If you confess aloud that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Worship:

1 Chronicles 16:29 – “Give to the Lord the glory due His name! Bow down before Him. Bring your gifts of worship to the Lord, Whose holiness is splendid.”

2 Maccabees 1:3 – “May God give you all a heart to worship Him and do His will sincerely with a willing spirit.”

Matthew 4:10 – Jesus said, “Get away, Tempter! As it is written, ‘you shall worship the Lord, your God, and God alone shall you serve.’”

John 4:21-24 – “Indeed, the time is coming – and is here – when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. Indeed, the Father seeks such people to worship Him. For God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Revelation 4:11 – “O, Lord our God, You alone are worthy to receive glory and honor and power for You created all things. Through Your will all creation came to be.”

Psalm 100, King James Version (KJV)
“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord is God: it is He Who hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endures to all generations.”

Compiled by Mary Sayler, ©2018, following word searches of various translations found on Bible Gateway.

Armor of God: Gearing Up for Team Jesus

Come on!
Huddle up!
Get empowered by the Lord and His mighty strength!

Put on the same uniform all of God’s people need to wear
to stand firm against the opposing team.

Team Huddle Before the Game — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis (altered)

We’re not fighting against human adversaries.
We’re wrestling with rulers, powers,
and a world of darkness
aiming to advance against heaven!

And so we need to put on the full armor of God
to resist all ills and stand our ground.
Here’s how:

Fasten truth around your waist,
so you won’t get caught off-guard
or punched in the gut by lies and fake news.

Let righteousness be your breastplate,
so you’ll know in your heart you’ve done nothing wrong.

Slide your feet into the Gospel of Peace,
so you’ll come from the right place
to the right place –
a place of peace
and the good news place where you’re always headed.

No matter what happens, cover yourself
with your shield of faith, ready to protect you
from everything awful that’s thrown.

Salvation will be your helmet!
For God has you covered
and has given you His Word,
which is also your sword to use in the Spirit.

And pray in the Spirit!
Pray at all times in all ways for all of God’s people.

Amen.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2018 prayer-a-phrased Ephesians 6:10-18 using these translations and more found on Bible Gateway.

10 tips for sermons that keep everyone awake

Sermons aren’t meant to be lullabies or long songs that drone on and on, lulling people to sleep! The idea of a weekly message is not to offer advice or tell people what to do but to show the relevance of God’s Word as you work and pray for a Christian faith community of Christ-like love.

If you’re the priest or pastor of a liturgical church or one that offers Eucharist or communion every week, you probably have only five or ten minutes at most to deliver your homily or message. If, however, your church service allows more time, you might consider adding another hymn or Bible reading and confine your talk to fifteen minutes or less (yes, preferably, less!)

Regardless of the worship format used, these tips will help you get to the point, be concise, and encourage Christlike lives and actions.

1.Pray! Ask God to give you insight.

2.Study the appropriate readings from the 3-year scripture-reading cycle (Year A, B, or C) used by many churches to encourage Christians from all over the world to read, study, and pray the same scriptures at the same time. Notice which Bible verse or passage speaks to you the clearest.

3. Focus on the single theme or primary topic in your chosen verse(s).

4. Read commentaries and the footnotes in a variety of study Bibles to see what God has given others to bring light to that portion of scripture.

5. List every point you can think of that’s related to your theme or topic.

6. Arrange key points in order of importance to your congregation or particular audience and its needs.

7. Get everyone’s attention with an unusual fact, a question they might have, or a startling statement. For instance, if I say: “This morning I swept the dead bodies off my deck,” you might wonder about that true statement! The “bodies” were the belly-up frogs and snakes the young hawks dropped out of the nest above us, but who knows? Maybe that would lead to a sermon on how we might not like to look at death, but we can rejoice in God’s Word of eternal life in Christ.

8. Keep it simple. Stay on track. The longer the message lasts, the more restless people will become and more likely the sermon will be to wander.

9. Apply God’s Word to everyday situations and concerns. Use Bible people, Bible stories, or contemporary examples to build faith, encourage relevant action, and aim toward a Christian lifestyle.

10. Emphasize your three main points. Use numbers, First…, Second…, Third.… Or repeat a catchy sentence as a refrain to help people remember God’s message to you and them long after they’ve gone home.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2018

words and The Word

Christian poets, writers, pastors, and other communicators for Christ have much in common. As ministers of words and The Word, we need:

Something to say
The ability to say it well
Credibility

Regularly reading the Bible gives us much to talk or write about, and practice helps us to do that well, but if we also have credibility, people pay attention. They begin to trust our ability to handle God’s Word and their concerns rightly. They might even become more open to God’s Word and work in their lives.

Without credibility, however, people will not believe us. They might expect to be entertained but won’t necessarily take us seriously.

To increase credibility:

Check the facts: Do you plan to write or talk about something you’re so familiar with that you see no need to research or verify scripture? Verify anyway! A Bible concordance, Bible atlas, or dictionary will help, but even more important is researching relevant scriptures on your topic and keeping them in context. Reading those same verses in more than one translation not only ensures getting the facts straight, but increases the opportunity of receiving those God-given insights that come with prayer and meditation on God’s Word.

Find your voice: Do you take on a tone that sounds like you think a minister or poet or writer should sound, or do you sound just like yourself? God made you as you are and gifted you with a personality unique to you. Reading a word-for-word translation of the Bible will show this in action. Compare, for example, the voice of King David in the Psalms with the prophetic voice of Jeremiah. Or, compare the Gospel and letters of John with the long, complex sentences written by Paul. In each of these instances, the Holy Spirit guided the writer or poet, and yet each book sounded like the individual.

Let the love flow: God has no favorites! And, as Christians, we can afford to be generous and gracious! We’re to love one another as we love ourselves. That becomes easier as we realize God is with us, God is in us. Then we can accept ourselves as God-loved and more readily notice that God-love in others.

Prayer: Dear Lord God, thank You for Your Word that shows us how to live and speak and write in a manner that’s credible, kind, and pleasing to You. Help us to believe and accept Your Word to us as we communicate Your love and truth to others in Jesus’ Name.

by Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2018