Don’t Believe the Lie

Life teaches us many things. One thing I’ve painfully learned is lies are usually too good to be true. Sometimes, there are lies told that are almost believable, especially at Christmas time.

How about this one: “Santa Claus is real”? Responsible sane adults tell it to little children, along with the lie “I’ll never lie to you”. Yep! I once fell for it hook, line, and sinker!  It was intentional and well-meaning deceit, but isn’t that how Satan works too?

In the Bible, Satan is proven to be the first liar. Genesis recounts the Creation and the Fall of mankind through Adam and Eve. You see Eve believed a lie (Genesis 3:1). That belief ultimately caused her to lose her home in paradise and earned her pain in childbirth as punishment for disobeying God (Genesis 3:16). Her husband Adam also paid the price for her sin. He was condemned to struggle to survive for the ground was cursed (Genesis 3:17).

Here’s what the serpent said and Eve’s response:

“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:  But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” Genesis 3:1-3 (KJV)

Here’s what God really said:

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it:  for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:26-27

Sin creeps in because the heart is deceitful. Jeremiah records the truth in Jeremiah 17:9-10:  

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:  who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”  

These verses warn us about how easily we can be deceived and the consequences. It’s not pretty, as Adam and Eve discovered.

The world at large continually tears down the true meaning of the Christian celebration of Christmas. Jesus has been replaced with Santa and Self. Much ado is made over Santa and gift giving. Character is revealed very clearly during the rush Christmas shopping.

Believers celebrate the birth of Jesus, God’s own Son. His life on earth demonstrated God’s goodness, love, and mercy for mankind. He came to offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin. God’s law requires that sin be punished. Jesus took the punishment for our sins when He died on the cross. He satisfied God’s requirements so that those who believe in Him can be forgiven and reconciled to God.

Trust is precious. Once lost, it’s difficult to regain. Don’t allow yourself to get into the habit of lying. Even “little white lies” are a problem because they seem okay, even harmless. If someone lies about something small, they will lie about something big when it suits the purpose.

Let’s reject the lies about the reason we celebrate Christmas. Seek the truth. The Bible tells us Christmas is about a baby boy born in a stable who came to be the Savior of the world.

by Linda Hull

A Happy Christmas Day for Lydia

One sunny day in late November, my sister Emma and I sat in the cafeteria eating our lunch. “I’ve thinking about Pastor Jim’s message yesterday at church. He told us Jesus taught we should help one another,” I said, munching on a carrot.”I wonder if we can help someone have a happy Christmas. Maybe it could be someone who doesn’t expect a good Christmas Day.”

I finished the last of my fruit salad and said, “I know someone in my math class, and you know her too, Emma. Her name is Lydia Koch. She and her family recently came here from Germany. She told me her family doesn’t expect a happy Christmas Day because their father is away.”

“Oh, yes,” Emma said. ” She has blonde hair and blue eyes.  She’s shy and quiet, but she seems very nice. ”

“Let’s talk to Mother about doing something for her family today when we go home,” I said, as we put our trays in the cafeteria return window.

“Let’s do that,” Emma agreed.

That afternoon we found Mother in the kitchen. It smelled of good things coming from the oven. “Mother, Emma and I have a good idea,” I said. ” We were thinking about Pastor Jim’s message about how Jesus taught it was important to help others, especially when things aren’t going well for them,  and we were thinking maybe we could help  Lydia Koch’s family, have a good Christmas.  I could make some oatmeal cookies.”

“And I could bake a chocolate cake,” Emma chimed in. ” Mother,  you told me,  I can make good chocolate cakes.”

Mother smiled and nodded.  “Well, girls,” she said, ” I think that would be a very good Christian thing to do.  I talked with Sophie Koch after church last week. She told me she was not planning to have a Christmas dinner since her husband was away and couldn’t be home with the family, and lately,  she has not been feeling well either.”

“Mother, maybe we could prepare a turkey for her,” I suggested.  “Then, she can put it in the oven and bake it. That would make it a lot easier for Mrs. Koch.”

“Yes, it would, Alyssa. That’s a good idea. With a turkey and some pastries we bake, they should all make a good Christmas Day for Sophie and her family.”

“Let’s let it be a surprise,” I said.

A few days before Christmas, Mother, Emma, and I met the Koch family after church outside the entrance. While Mother  visited with Mrs. Koch, Ruth and I took Lydia to the gift basket we had prepared. “We have a surprise for you and your family,” I said, showing her the food basket. When Lydia looked inside and saw all the pastries and the big fat turkey stuffed and ready for baking, tears came into her eyes.  She reached out and gave Emma and me a big hug.

“Thank you. Thank you,” she said, smiling through her tears. “Now we can have a wonderful Christmas Day.”

I’ll never forget the look of happiness I saw on Lydia’s face as she carried the basket to her mother. Both Mrs. Koch and Lydia hugged us. Mother put her arms around them and said, “It was Alyssa’s and Emma’s idea.”

Mrs. Koch nodded happily through her tears “Thank you, girls,” she said.

“Last week Pastor Jim reminded us that Jesus wants us to help one another,” I said. “And today, that’s what we are doing. Lydia told us you haven’t been feeling well.”  I gave Mrs. Koch a big hug once more. Emma  and I looked at one another with a bright smile. We both felt wonderful inside. We knew we were following the teachings of Jesus by helping our friend Lydia Koch and her family have a Happy Christmas Day.

 

Written by Evelyn Horan

WE WILL REJOICE AND BE GLAD!

The holidays are drawing near. Many may wonder if they will be alone yet again this year. Friends and family may be far away or busy with their own plans, but no matter the circumstance, there is one who knows your loneliness. No one has to go through life all alone.

I love Psalm 118:14 (KJV). It says, “The LORD is my strength and song and is become my salvation.”

Who is this LORD? Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son. The psalmist is rejoicing in the One who can get us through any crisis. He is our strength! When we feel alone, our LORD is with us. We can be joyful because we have a constant companion!

How does this work? Jesus came as a baby, then was crucified on a cross, and rose again. His death was God’s way of dealing with sin in the world. Jesus paid the price God requires. Sin must be punished. Jesus took the punishment on behalf of all mankind. When He rose from the grave, He ascended into Heaven. Then the Holy Spirit came to reside in the hearts of all Believers. Consequently no one who has repented of their sin and called upon the name of Jesus for salvation from the punishment for sin is alone. The Holy Spirit comes to live in the heart of the Believer.

Therefore the LORD truly is with us, giving us strength to endure any situation. When life gets tough, I go to Psalm 118:24:  “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

The LORD already knows what a day will bring, whether sorrow, hardship, or joy. He knows and understands our trials and fears. He is aware of our disappointments. Yet, despite all we face, He never leaves or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5).

We expect to suffer trials and troubles, because we live in a sin filled world where the sin nature present in each of us has predominance. We must constantly strive to obey our LORD.  With the help of the Holy Spirit and guidance from the God’s Word, the Bible, we can choose to live a life that is pleasing to God.

We can choose to embrace the life He gives us, rejoicing in each day. To enjoy the happiness we can find in each day, we must choose to rejoice and be glad despite our circumstances.  We may repeat that part “we will rejoice” with gritted teeth, but we can know with certainty that we are not alone in our anguish.

I will rejoice and be glad!

I choose to trust Him with each day of my life.

That trust in Him gives me peace because I know He is faithful to do what He promises. Without Him, I will fail and fall. With Him, I can overcome. I will rejoice with thanksgiving because He is faithful even when I am not.

This holiday season let us rejoice and give thanks!

*Let us give Him thanks for His many blessings!

*Let us praise Him with love and joy for His gift of redemption and forgiveness of sin.

*Let us give thanks for our hope for an eternity spent with Him.

*Let us thank Him for revealing Himself to us.

 

by Linda Hull

Do You Thank God For Your Blessings?

Do you thank God for your Blessings? It seems I spend more time in prayer asking God for things rather than thanking Him for what He’s done.  In my self -pity, I seem to compare myself with friends and people I admire. There’s always someone who is more talented, more popular and more organized. I should remember to be thankful.  For example, I am thankful God hasn’t answered all my prayers.

 Earlier, in my prayers, I had asked God to help me get on the basketball team.  Emma, a friend, lives down the street. She is great at sports.  A few weeks ago, I was embarrassed  in front of the rest of the team, when Emma, team captain, of the after-school basketball team, and the most popular girl in class said to me, “Alyssa, I don’t want to make you feel bad. But it takes a lot of running and dribbling, and co-ordination to make the team. Isn’t that right, Mary?” Emma nodded to her second-in command- standing beside her.

    “That’s right,” Mary said.  “You know Alyssa, you made a lot of mistakes this afternoon. And you missed all your basket shots.”

    “Maybe, you should try out for the volleyball team,” Emma said. “They don’t have to move around the court as much as we do. They stand more in place. I think volleyball would be a lot easier for you.”
    I nodded. I was so embarrassed, I wanted to crawl in a hole and hide.   After dinner that evening, my mom tried to tempt me with my favorite desert- chocolate pudding, and I didn’t even want any.

       I had asked God for His help to get on the basketball team, and I didn’t make it. I was sad. Could I look at the situation the way God expected me to do? Finally, I sighed, as I admitted to myself, it was true,  I wasn’t very coordinated. Once I almost fell down trying to dribble a pass ball from a team member.

     But now, I feel a lot better these days. I’m on the volleyball team, and I’m serving good shots over the net. I’m enjoying myself. I’m exercising and getting physically fit, and I think this is the plan God had for me, even though it is different from what I had wanted.

    There are times, I’m sure you will agree, we’ve spoken a cross word to a friend or a loved one, or a time when our younger brother or sister tried our patience.  I remember while enjoying my own good health, I forgot to visit my friend Debbie, when she was sick.  I know she would have been glad to see me.

      When I enter into self-pity, I try to think of all my blessings.  My first blessing is my physical and mental good health.  A second blessing is my Christian home and family. I remember my personal possessions and all the wonderful things I have– my room, my TV, my computer, and my cell phone.

    When I think of all the abundance I enjoy compared to the rest of the world’s population.  I know God has blessed me by letting me live here, when I remember there are millions living in poverty in many countries in the world today.

    God didn’t promise to grant me all my wishes, but He did say He’d meet my needs.  It’s time to trust God and know that He has our best welfare at heart, and He knows our future. I should be more grateful.

     It’s time to count my blessings and thank God for His goodness to me. I should say, “‘Thank You, God, for all You’ve done for me, and for all You’re going to do'”

    I think I’ll begin right now!

written by Evelyn Horan

Chit Chatting with Trinitee Stokes

 

Written by Jill Sheets

I first saw Trinitee Stokes on the Disney TV show K.C. Undercover–she plays a member of the Cooper family…a robot member. I was surprised when I watched the show how perfect her comedy timing was and how great an actress she is. She looked perfectly comfortable in front of the camera. She is going to go far in her career. But don’t just take my word for it–check her out for yourself! K.C. Undercover is aired every day on Disney channel.

R: Tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how you got into acting

T:  I am 11 years old and originally from Jackson, Mississippi. I When I was two years old, I was watching an episode of That’s So Raven and it was really funny. That’s when I told my mom that I wanted to be on TV, so that I could make people laugh, too. I started out in theater at the age of three when my mom created me a role in her first stage play. When I turned five, I landed an agent in my hometown in Mississippi and my professional acting career began.

 

R: You are in K.C. Undercover. For those who have not seen it yet, tell us about it and about your character.

T: I play the role of Judy. Judy is the youngest sibling of the Cooper family, disguised as a sophisticated robot. She is there to assist the family when solving missions. Judy is cute, sassy, no nonsense, and very intelligent. She has started to feel some human emotions, which is something she hasn’t been able to do in the past. Some of the lines in her scripts would be something that I would say, so it makes it that much easier to come across in a natural way. Judy also has great fashion sense.

 

R: What is it like working with Zendaya and the other cast? Has she given you any advice?

T: Its wild working with the cast. We work hard, but we also laugh a lot. We always find time to start a dance party on set. Since I’m the only kid on the show, I get treated like everyone’s little sister. Something Zendaya always says is that we have a voice, so we should use it for good.

 

R: Tell us about Teachers and about your character Lauren.

T: Teachers was so much fun to shoot. It was the first TV show outside of Disney Channel that I had the privilege to work on. My character Lauryn is a very intelligent girl, yet funny in her own way. Her character was totally different from Judy.

 

R: If you could work with any five people, who would they be?

T: Viola Davis, Beyoncé, Denzel Washington, Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansen.

 

R: Who is your biggest influence?

T: My mom is my biggest influence because her life motivates me to believe the impossible and to pursue everything God has for me.

 

R: I read that you also sing. Tell us about your song “Win Now.” Where can people get your song? Do you plan on recording more in the future?

T: “Win Now” is a song about learning to be comfortable with the way that God made you. Sometimes God has a special anointing on you and no matter how hard you try, you just won’t fit in with the crowd. “Win Now” encourages you to embrace your gifts and know that the moment that you believe you are who God says you are, you win! “Win Now” is available on iTunes.

 

R: I read that you are also an author and fashion designer. Tell us about that!

T: I am currently working on my first novel and a children’s series with my mom.

 

R: What has been your favorite memory so far?

T: My favorite memory thus far has been when my parents packed up our home in Mississippi and drove cross-country to California on faith. We made the trip a three-day site-seeing adventure. We stopped and spent the night in different states, and we sang songs like we were the Beverly Hill Billies!

 

R: What are your top five favorite books?

T: The Great Chocolate Chase, Judy Blume and the Not so Bummer Summer, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, The Story of Josephine Baker, and Land of Stories.

 

R: What are five things people may not know about you?

T:

1. I like country music

2. I love to do different experiments

3. I enjoy cooking

4. I love solving murder mysteries

5. I am a young minister of the gospel

 

R: Do you have any charities that are close to your heart?  If so, tell us about them.

T: I recently “adopted” a child in need through Compassion International.

 

R: What are some of your future goals?

T: I have so many short and long term goals, but here are a few. I definitely want my own TV show and to star in feature films. I also want to travel the world performing and selling out arenas. Also, I look forward to walking into a department store and seeing my clothing line on display!

 

R: Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their addresses? Do you have an official website and/or YouTube page?

T: www.thetrinitee.com

Instagram: @the_trinitee

Twitter: @the_trinitee

Facebook: Trinitee Stokes

YouTube: Trinitee Stokes

 

R: Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your fans?

T: I would tell all of my fans to always believe that they can accomplish whatever dream they have. Even if it looks impossible or they think that it is too big, still believe. Also, always work hard and have integrity. Lastly, always be true to yourself. Don’t try to be like anyone else. There is no one else in this world that can do you, so JUST BE YOU!

Photo credit: BOBBY QUILLARD

Pencil Skirt Pride

Pride always seems to get in the way of pleasing God. I know because it happened to me.

When I started a new job, I wanted acceptance and respect as a true professional. A shopping trip was the first step! I really needed some new outfits meant to impress.

That navy blue suit was a perfect fit! I was bursting with pride when I wore it! It had an adorable little jacket and a pencil skirt that fell below the knee. A white blouse and black shoes completed my professional outfit.

I received several compliments from the older ladies in the office, who were just a little tired of the more casual attire worn by some girls. I was quite pleased I measured up to their high standards! The other girls didn’t say anything, but that was okay.

Right off, my boss gave me an important task to do that day. I was to go over to one of the government buildings to pick up some paperwork. No problem!

I found a parking place and started walking to the building. That’s when I discovered I could only take very tiny steps instead of my usual longer stride. I hated to admit it to myself but that skirt just didn’t have any give to it at all.  It was a bit of a hike and my time was slipping away. It was impossible to hurry.

When I finally made it to the building, my next obstacle loomed before me. To my horror there were about fifteen steps to the building’s main door. How does one get up steps if you can hardly bend your knees?  

I stood there, hoping  no one noticed I was deliberating about how to get up the steps. Obviously, my beautiful outfit was more suited for church, not office work. I had no choice but to swallow my pride and hike my skirt up a bit so I could go up those awful steps.

I am reminded of the verse in Proverbs 16:18 (KJV):  “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

Another verse that comes to mind is found in 1 John 2:16: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”

Later, I had to admit to myself and God that my goal in wearing my gorgeous suit was to draw attention to myself. I wanted to show up the other girls in the office. There was an attitude in my heart that set myself up as better because I had a much desired position in the office. It wasn’t about looking good, but about setting myself apart in arrogance.

God doesn’t mind us dressing up for an important event. He doesn’t mind when we excel and do well. He expects us to do our level best in every situation, not purposely fail.

To do our best, we need to turn to Him in prayer asking for His direction and guidance. Our focus is to be on how we can please Him, not ourselves. Instead of seeking our own acclaim, let us take pride in what our Lord does! He alone deserves the praise and glory! Our joy comes from knowing that we are pleasing to Him.

A thoughtful reminder from the Apostle Peter:

“…be clothed with humility:  for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the might hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:  Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:5b-7

Every time I begin to feel prideful, I am reminded of my humiliating experience in a pencil skirt. I remember to trust God to help me to be the person He wants me to be.

Written by Linda Hull

Does God Care About Our Daily Needs?

How do I know God is a part of my daily life?  Every time I begin to think God is too busy in His Heaven to remember my needs and wishes that might seem trivial, I try looking for Him in my routine activities.

I remember one busy morning I had to shop in a short time. I needed an indoor basket plant for my friend, Helen who was recovering from a short illness, and I had other shopping to do.  Knowing that florists expect a “good price” for the sort of dish garden I wanted, I thought of a large discount store outside my neighborhood.

But I don’t enjoy visiting this store because it’s always crowded.  Still, I felt an inner urge to shop for groceries items there.  Just as I expected, when I arrived, the store was filled with shoppers.

Then I prayed, “Dear God, please help me find a gift for Helen.”

Inside the store, with shopping list in hand, I came upon a temporary table of assorted,  dish garden plants. I couldn’t believe it!  They were exactly the kind I wanted, but much more beautiful than I’d even imagined.

“I must have one of those basket plants,” I told myself.  I knew Helen would enjoy the plants.  Cautiously,  I read the sign and then looked again.  It was true, these large, healthy dish gardens were moderately priced.

“Thank you, God,” I whispered.

Then further down, on the right, there was  a display table of children’s books.  As I browsed through them,  I found a beautiful picture book showing the life of Jesus.  It too was moderately priced. The book would be the perfect gift for my young granddaughter Alyssa, whose birthday was in a few days.

“Thank you, God, for sending me here,” I murmured happily, reaching for the picture book.   Through my prayers, God had helped me find the things I needed today.

At home, relaxing after shopping, I thought about my morning.  And I had to remind myself once again–when I take the time to look for Him, it’s easy to find God doing wonderfully, unexpected things in my ordinary life.  I just have to stay alert and recognize them.

When I do, I find the reassurance that these little “special favors” are God’s way of showing me that I am not alone to meet the challenges in my life.  They reveal that God is here with me, helping me, and smoothing out my way in my day to day needs.

Isn’t it wonderful how God makes His presence known to us in ordinary ways all the time!  What a joy to know God is here in our lives, helping us, and blessing us every day with His faithful love.

Written by Evelyn Horan

Healthy on the outside, a mess on the inside

I was a fat kid.  I was teased relentlessly for it, and in sixth grade, I discovered this great thing called exercise, and I lost over twenty pounds.  It felt like a miracle!

The thing was, though, I was skinny fat.  I hated vegetables.  I didn’t eat much fruit.  And I loved carbs almost as much as I loved fast food.  I discovered that I could eat what I wanted to, if I just did enough aerobic exercise.  And so I did that, for a really long time.  It didn’t matter that I felt yucky as in always, always tired, and that I got headaches constantly.  All that seemed to matter to me was that I appeared healthy on the outside.

Even as I was destroying myself on the inside.

It caught up to me.  Autoimmune diseases are knocking on my door.  I’m not that dummy who says, “Huh, how did that happen?”  I’ve had a conscience about this for years.  For the last decade at least (told you I’ve been doing this for a while), I’ve been feeling guilty.  I felt like an addict:  after every cheeseburger and French fries from McDonald’s that I consumed, I’d tell myself it was for the last time.  Next time I was hungry, I’d eat a carrot.  Except I didn’t.

Joint pain, fatigue, and abnormal blood tests made me change my life around.  I eat healthy now.  Not that I didn’t throw a million tantrums in the grocery store when I realized EVERYTHING I ate before had tons of sugar, gluten, or chemicals in it.  The first three months were the hardest, but I’d allow myself one cheat day a week, and I discovered after eating clean, I no longer liked the processed junk.  I no longer understand why I liked it to begin with.  And I feel amazing.  I feel young, even if the date on my license tells me that I’m not.

My eating habits have reflected my spiritual life more times than I’d like to admit.  I’d nurse that anger, focus on the negatives rather than the positives, focus on myself rather than consider anyone else’s needs, and overall let myself slip into habits that I knew weren’t necessarily practices I was proud of.  But I still went to church.  I still read my Bible.  I still prayed (if praying, “Please let this crazy annoying driver in front of me turn left while I turn right” counts).

Semi healthy on the outside.

While decaying on the inside.

If doing the wrong thing makes us feel so horrible, and doing the right thing makes us feel so amazing, why do we keep chasing the wrong choices?  For me, it was about habit.  And comfort.  Familiarity makes me feel safe.  And, to be brutally honest, because I am, you know, incredibly lazy.  So much so that it sometimes frightens me.

Creating my own illnesses scared me straight.  I realized I was poisoning myself by being so lazy that I wouldn’t look up new recipes or buy unfamiliar produce or try something new.  And each time I go out of my comfort zone and smile at a stranger and ask them about their day or do something selfless, I understand that my spiritual life is the same type of thing.  While I may know what nourishes my body, it does no good until it is what I choose to consume.  And while I may know the difference between wrong and right, it doesn’t do any good until I choose to engage in the better choices.

I don’t want to be fake.  I want to be as real as I can be from my soul outward, and I want to shine a light that makes other lives better.  Religious practices mean nothing if you aren’t communicating with the Savior and putting yourself out there as His vessel.  What is right isn’t always easy.  But it is always worth it.

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does.  James 1:25 (NIV)

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

Believe In What You Do: Tying Faith And Career Together

There are times when it feels like your beliefs can rub up against the world outside in a way that often isn’t immediately a fit. A lot of young Christians find that when it comes to career. However, the truth is that your faith and your work can have a much deeper relationship than many expect. The conventional wisdom of the modern workplace and the wisdom of your faith aren’t incompatible. Here, we’ll look at ways that you can resolve those seeming mismatches and find a career that fulfills and works with your spiritual relationship.

Be true to the values

One of the easiest ways to reconcile your beliefs with your career is to focus on a job that speaks to the very core of your faith. There are few things more Christian than healing the sick, for instance, so finding a career in healthcare can be just the kind of mentally and spiritually nourishing work that helps both aspects of your life co-exist. Or you might consider the careers that follow the path of addressing the inequalities of the world, such as working in foreign aid or in taking paid positions for nonprofits that are at the forefront of battling many of the issues facing modern society.

Spreading the word

Sometimes, the best way to reconcile faith and career is the most direct path. Not every religious person should immediately think about taking a religious job. However, if your faith is not only your moral compass and your guiding path but is a true passion for you, then it only makes sense to follow a career in that position. There are a lot of directions you can take in it, too. A Master of Divinity degree, or a MDiv, can lead to a career path in the church, for certain. But it can also provide a bedrock for a more scholarly approach to religion, including teaching religious studies that can deepen your understanding and relationship with your faith.

Being a believer in the workplace

If you choose a career path outside the church, as you may very well want to, it’s important to realize that there might be some challenges when your faith comes face-to-face with the workplace. If you’ve been raised in a religious family and in a tight faith-based community, then it might feel natural for you for your beliefs to be a natural part of life and conversation and never far from your mind. However, it can cause some challenges in the workplace. It isn’t sacrificing your ideals or compromising your spiritual self to realize that advice based on the scriptures might not play too well in a professional environment. Rather, keeping your faith personal can be tremendously helpful. Prayer is often a great tool for fighting workplace stress and taking the Christian view on showing compassion to wrongdoing can help you contribute to a better workplace, even if you’re extolling the virtues of your belief directly.

Keeping your ties

The more major problem that many young professional Christians have is keeping themselves tied to their faith while in the working environment. For one, if you really want to succeed in your career, as your faith supports, then it can take a lot of time. Making time for God, and touching base with your spiritual self is important. Prayer and seeking the advice of your pastor or reverend can help you reconcile your faith and some of the difficult workplace related choices. For instance, many face issues when it comes to aspects of self-promotion and pride in the workplace that might be helped out with some advice or introspective prayer if you just take the time for it.

Be true to you

Most important of all, you should realize that God doesn’t intend for you to make your relationship with him the only thing in your life. It should always be there, but you are also on the Earth to do good here and to engage here fully and with confidence. If you have a passion, then figure out what it is and how you can make a career with it. So long as you keep your relationship with your faith and keep to the example set by it, there should be no conflict that stops you from working in the field you truly want to.

It can feel like treading a thin line when the modern working culture seems to prioritize ruthless competition and sometimes selfish behavior, but there are a lot of different work environments and career paths where you can find your fit. Hopefully, the tips above help you find them.

 

Chit Chatting with Play Writer Elizabeth G Honaker

 

By Jill Sheets

I have never gotten the chance to interview anyone who wrote plays before until now. I am absolutely thrilled I got to interview Elizabeth G. Honaker. She started writing plays when she was very young and is still going. Read on and learn more about her, her plays, and her advice for anyone who is interested in becoming a playwright themselves.

 

R: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got your start writing plays.

E: I have always been “dramatic.” I bugged my first-grade teacher (a nun) to let me participate in Saint Gabriel’s annual Christmas show – and I was allowed! In 8th grade, I wrote science fiction scripts and tried to persuade my friends to rehearse them during recess (it didn’t work!). As a young adult living in England with my husband Allen and children James and Christine, I started becoming interested in Christian drama – especially writing three-minute skits; so I wrote them for our church’s family service. When our family moved back to the United States, I was asked to take over our church’s Easter presentation of The Living Last Supper. It was interesting, but it was a static presentation, so I asked if I could add Mary’s testimony regarding the Resurrection of the Lord. The next year, I added more of the Holy Week events, and in 1994, I wrote my first play that focused on one character. I have written somewhere around twenty different full-length Easter scripts, half of which are in print. I intend to publish them all eventually.

 

R: Tell us about some of your plays and how you got the idea for them.

E: I have long recognized that the ultimate ideas for all of my scripts come from divine inspiration – the work of the Holy Spirit. And I say that in the sense that He gets all the glory for touching lives, and I get all the blame if there are defects in the script. In any case, I most often get ideas that inspire me and get me wanting to write during communion or during a sermon. The Pascal Lamb came from a communion service, as did The Bread of the Servant. I’ll admit, though, that I got the idea for Journey to Life while vacuuming the living room! Behind every single script, though, is my own struggle with a particular issue; I think that’s why strangers walk up to me after performances and say, “You wrote that play just for me.” I share my life problems, and the Lord, in the person of Jesus Christ, provides answers.

 

R: I found this book and I couldn’t help but buy it! Tell us about Mizz Liz’s Five Steps to Good Writing.

E: I have been teaching students how to write good papers for decades now. It started when I taught high school English, and continued when I began to tutor students at my home. I boiled down everything I knew about writing into five steps that are not difficult to understand, but they take explaining (for instance, I used to integrate these steps into my high school curriculum over the period of five months). At one point, I wrote them down with bullets for my college classes, and then I started to develop handouts for students who had been absent from one or another lecture. Finally, I decided that a book written at the 8th-grade level would help me to teach my at-home tutees more efficiently. I now use that book with everyone – even my college students.

 

R: What is your writing process for your plays? How do you come up with the ideas?

E: Well, as I’ve mentioned before, I attribute all the good ideas to the work of the Holy Spirit. It is funny, though – it’s as if the Spirit and I have an annual “appointment” during the Christmas break (which is something all teachers look forward to for relaxation, not for producing a script!). It all starts with a story from a Gospel. I will contemplate a person or group of people and how they might have encountered Jesus – what He would have done for them, how He would have drawn them from the suffering, etc. The concept will “simmer on the back burner” for months, until the day after Christmas. (That is pretty much the “last minute” for producing a workable script for the Disciples to perform for the following Easter.)

When I was teaching high school, I would close the door to the study where the family computer resided and type away all day every day until the play was done. Sometimes, it would reveal itself in three days; sometimes it took a week or ten days. Once I had worked out a story, it seemed that I would see the action of the play, hear the dialog, etc. I would just type it as I saw it. Occasionally, I would write an entire scene and then realize it didn’t fit the story. I would just set it aside and move on. I never obsess over “now where did THAT come from?” because the ways of the Spirit are much bigger and more complex than I am. Who knows? Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great classic The Scarlet Letter came to him from a short story he had written years before – which didn’t even focus on a woman pregnant with an illegitimate child.

Nowadays, my main computer is in my study upstairs. Instead of locking myself away – which doesn’t really work because my study is our balcony, not an enclosed room – I now ensconce myself in the family room, and Number One Husband (Allen) pretty much leaves me to do my thing however long it takes. Of course, he stills feeds and waters me, and nags me about going to bed when it gets to be one a.m. But without little ones running around, it is easier to “rule the roost” this way. I still get the script ready for the Wesley Grove Disciples (in Maryland – they still present my plays each year at Easter) by their first scheduled read-through in January.

 

R: Do you have a favorite play or book?

E:  Gosh, that one’s tough! I love Dorothy Sayer’s The Man Born to be King, which started as radio plays about the life of Christ over the BBC during WWII. I love all of C.S. Lewis’ works, especially The Chronicles of Narnia. I have read Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy in its entirety at least three separate times in my life. I love teaching T.S. Eliot, especially the works he produced after he became a Christian. I am a fan of Calvin Miller and Ravi Zacharias. I love well-written biographies of the founding fathers (and I have David Barton to thank for getting me hooked on those). I…now how long do you want me to go on?

 

R: What is your favorite Bible verse?

E: My favorite verse is whatever connects me to the mind of the Lord each time I read the Bible. When I read with a willing mind and an open heart, the Holy Spirit makes the Word live to me. I have to say, though, that the very first verse I memorized when I became a real Christian at the age of twenty-one was Romans 8:28. And I remind all my students that Philippians 4:8 does not mention God or Jesus, and yet it is the best advice for anyone seeking reality.

 

R: What advice would you give someone who wants to write plays?

E: Study how to tell a story with actions, and as few words as possible (a la Saint Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel, and – if necessary – use words”). Study Shakespeare and how he packaged his messages, including comedy in the middle of his tragedies, to focus the groundlings’ attention on what was to come next. Reflect on modern plays or episodes that move you and ask yourself, why do they move you? How have the characters impacted you? Then write your action and dialog down and have someone else read them aloud. Make your characters speak like normal human beings; don’t give them sermons to preach. Make sure you have a beginning, a middle, and an end to your story. And – of course – you can always email me for advice: efghonaker@gmail.com . I promise I’ll respond.

 

R: Where can people get your plays and other books?

E: Right now, all of my plays and books (beside my book on how to write, I also have an historical novel on the martyrdom of Saint Paul and a thesis on the medieval mystery plays) are all available through Amazon.com.

 

R: Do you have an official website? What about social media?

E: My husband recently took down our website because of software issues – the software was no longer supported and we found that we couldn’t update our site. We are working with a third person to design a better site. The domain will be bolb.org and it will have an online store for our new ebooks on how to start drama groups in your church, make affordable costumes and props, and use inexpensive sound and lighting.

I have a page on Facebook – Bread of Life Books – where I’ve posted pictures and video excerpts from my last three plays. The plays are all presented by amateur actors (by that, I mean they are not professionals) but they really put their hearts into the production each year. I am humbled just to watch how they bring each script to life!

I also have a Linkedin page under Elizabeth Golibart Honaker.

 

R: Is there anything else you would like to add?

E: Once upon a time, a gentleman whose opinion I valued very much told me that drama was sinful – no matter whether it had a Christian motive or not, the actors were sinning in pretending to be their characters. I respectfully disagreed with him, but then felt I had to study the Bible more closely in order to affirm the truth of what I already believed. I discovered that God had commanded several of the Old Testament prophets to depict His messages in dramatic form – and the drama was not at all “warm and fuzzy;” it depicted real judgment and real consequences for Israel. In the New Testament, Christ told parables, which reproduced vivid pictures of heavenly truths in the minds of His listeners. When a pastor preaches from the pulpit, does he not present illustrations from real life? People watch Christian plays and dramas knowing full well that the people who play the parts of characters are not trying to pass themselves off as people they are not. The actors help the audience members “lose” themselves in the story so that the power of the Spirit can have an opening into their hearts. And knowing the impact that Christ-centered drama has had on both audience members, stagecrew, and actors, I cannot help but believe that this is a God-sanctioned phenomenon.

Christian drama is not just for the talented; it is for the taught. We learn the message of the Gospel, and we present it via drama to others. People like me write the words, so that the story flows and engages the audience, but Christian actors can come from every walk of life, and from any age level. I have had police officers and homemakers and school children and babies and retired teachers and Boy Scout members and pastors and – well, you get the picture.

Lastly, I just want to leave people with a reflection: What could be more dramatic than the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ? He didn’t merely talk about the Plan of Salvation; He enacted it in the flesh! He didn’t come to save well-polished “actors” – He came to save those people who find themselves lost, with no Director in their lives. Voila!