Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ruining the Devil's Day

Imagine that every morning when you wake up, you see Satan face to face. Every morning, in a surprisingly accurate impersonation of Clint Eastwood, he glares into your eyes and says, “Go ahead. Make my day.”

Those of us who follow Jesus hope to please God with our words and actions every day—and often fall short. We know he still loves us, his grace is sufficient, and we can start fresh tomorrow. But what we don’t often think about is how easily we can defeat Satan when we do what pleases the Lord. Life throws things at us all day long which our enemy hopes will trip us up, and when we fall for it, he succeeds. What if you could remember that anything which does not make the devil’s day is a victory for you?

Does it make the devil’s day when your car or expensive appliance or computer breaks down? Sure, it does. Ask yourself, “how can I ruin the devil’s day in this situation?” The answer is with your attitude. When you take a deep breath, calm down, keep things in perspective, remain grateful, and continue to speak kindly and patiently to those around you—you kick the enemy right in the teeth.

Does it make the devil’s day when you’re in pain? You bet it does. It’s one of his favorite things, because physical pain can defeat our spirits so quickly. Ask yourself, “how can I ruin the devil’s day in the middle of this?” The answer is by continuing to trust God. When you say, “Lord, I hate this and I don’t understand it. But you are my Creator, I know you love me, and I trust you to use this for good in my life,” you beat the enemy at his own game.

Does it make the devil’s day when you hold a grudge? Oh yes. He knows how the slow poison of unforgiveness will corrode your soul until little is left but a bitter, hard stone. You don’t even need to ask yourself how you can ruin the devil’s day because the answer is obvious. Forgive the person who wronged you. Let God deal with them and set yourself free.

Does it make the devil’s day when you’ve gained ground on an addiction you’ve struggled with for years? No, it most certainly does not. So he tries to convince you it’s merely behavior modification, not healing. You’ve steered clear of it for months, but it doesn’t feel like freedom. The temptation is still strong, the gaping hole it’s left in your heart remains empty. You feel defeated—which is right where the enemy wants you. You’ve fallen for a lie, you’ve made his day. Ask yourself: “how can I ruin the devil’s day when I feel so overwhelmed?” The answer is by celebrating the triumph of your own obedience, by declaring to the devil and to yourself that you are more than a conqueror through Christ (Romans 8:37). 

In C.S. Lewis’s classic, The Screwtape Letters, the demon Screwtape instructs his nephew Wormwood on how to defeat Christians (hence, any use of “the enemy” refers to God). Screwtape says, “Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.” [emphasis mine]

You have the power. Now get out there and ruin the devil’s day.
"We are not unaware of his schemes" (2 Corinthians 2:11).

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

How to Grow Rich Writing Books

Yesterday, Amazon passed the forty-thousand mark for sales of books with my name on the cover. 

Because most of the books people read are borrowed, I’m told that for each one sold, it’s not unreasonable to figure an average of five readers. That makes 200,000 people. I’ll divide that number by three—assuming most of those people will read all three of my books. This brings us to 66,666 readers influenced in some way by my little stories—the majority of whom I will never meet.

Shortly after Bruce Wilkinson’s book The Prayer of Jabez became popular, my husband wanted to pray this prayer and suggested I pray it too. I resisted. Jabez asked God to “increase his territory” which Wilkinson interpreted as increasing one’s influence. At the time, I felt burdened with more responsibility than I could handle. To me, more “territory,” or influence, only seemed like more responsibility. No thanks.

I don’t think I ever did pray that prayer.

I left behind many of my responsibilities and started writing books instead. It didn’t occur to me that I might eventually influence 66,666 people. And enjoy the process.

What did occur to me was that I could make a living at writing books. 

I was wrong. 

Even though my books are selling well and I never want to take the extra income for granted, earning out a $10K advance in six months--and then hoping royalties trickle in after that--does not equal the $10K I can consistently take home every five months as a part-time administrative assistant. Very few novelists make a living at it. Most supplement their income with another job, or they also crank out magazine articles and newspaper columns, or their spouse foots the bills, or they live in their parents’ basement. The minority who make it big, the J.K.Rowlings and others, are the ones every writer thinks they’re going to become when they set out to write a book.

So then, how DO you become rich writing books? Well, you write a better book. One that millions of people will buy. That’s all.

But back to that influence thing. 

Yesterday was also the day a reader approached me with tears in her eyes to thank me for writing Bleak Landing. “You wrote Chapter 37 just for me,” she said. 

I asked her what happens in Chapter 37.

“That’s where Victor delivers his sermon on forgiveness,” she said. “I had to read it twice. I’ve been hanging on to a lot of stuff and only hurting myself. It’s time to let it go. I wanted to tell you.”

And I suddenly felt absurdly, eternally rich.