Why do the heathen rage?

FeaturedWhy do the heathen rage?

“Why do the heathen rage…”

Psalm 2:1-5 shows the futility of man’s pride.

Men and women rise to power and all too often forget that it was God who enabled them to rise to their position. While the psalm is speaking of kings and rulers the truth is that all of us are subject to pride. And pride is the underlying force behind man’s rage against God. Yes, the love of money is the root of all evil, but pride is often the source of our rejection of God’s will for us.

We writers, yes Christian writers, have the same battles, the same temptation of pride. In fact, the more successful a person is the more vulnerable to the sin of pride. When we wrote that first book we were humble and thankful for whatever success it commanded. But as our careers ascend to greater heights it becomes so easy to forget.

But the truth is that success is not built upon sales. You can have tremendous sales and yet not be a success in God’s eyes. One reason that we are so vulnerable to pride is that our livelihood is firmly attached to sales. So we can’t ignore sales. And today writers have to do much of their own marketing. So again it is easy to start thinking “I did that.”

This is a sin that athletes are prone to fall into. They work and play hard, they develop their game, and put their best effort out there. And when success comes they say, “It wasn’t God that did this; I did it.” And when we hear of this we condemn their shortsightedness. But we do the same thing with our writing careers.

So how do we avoid the temptation of pride?

I don’t pretend to be a theologian. But I have been a Christian for awhile and a student of God’s Word. I have found that humility doesn’t just happen. If I want to be humble before my Lord, I have to realize that He is in charge. It is a daily challenge to submit to God and give Him all the glory.

It is easy to say, “I always do.” But that is often an expression of pride. No one is always humble. For that matter no one is always obedient. We have that pesky humanity that seeks to glorify itself. Thus we have to daily read God’s Word, meditate upon it, and apply it to our lives. And when I go to God in prayer I like to start out by acknowledging that He is Lord and I am a sinner saved by grace.

Someone once wrote that Christians should not identify themselves as sinners saved by grace. The idea being that we are saved, have a new heart and the indwelling Holy Spirit. While that is true, we still have our old nature which desires to rebel against God. And when we get careless or over-confident in our lives, we can be tripped up by our old nature and get proud.

So fellow Christian I encourage you to spend time with our Lord and in His Word. Facing a problem, take it to the Lord. Experiencing success, take it to the Lord. Needing advice about how to write, publish, or market your book, take it to the Lord. It sounds too easy, I know. But He is stronger, wiser, and more capable than any of us!

Speaking of marketing our books, I am finding inspiration in the Bible. You can’t do a google search and find any scripture speaking on how to market products, especially books. But there are a lot of scriptures that deal with the attitudes and principles that govern how we influence others and how we run our business.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Profiles in faith James Madison

FeaturedProfiles in faith James Madison

Many people, including historians, claim that Madison and the other founders as well were deists. But they do so without much evidence. But what do Madison’s own statements reveal?

“…watchful eye must be kept on ourselves lest, while we are building ideal monuments of renown and bliss here, we neglect to have our names enrolled in the Annals of Heaven.” (emphasis added)

Notice the words Annals of Heaven. This is not a deist term, but clearly speaks of heaven, whereas the word ‘annals’ would indicate a book or record. In other words, he is speaking of salvation and having our names written in the Book of Life, which is Christian in doctrine and thought.

“For men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ.”  (emphasis added)

Here he indicates a desire that men of high position be bold in their faith, even becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ! This is a strong statement and evinces a belief in personal soul winning.

On these two quotes alone we can safely surmise that Madison was a Christian not a Deist. But there is more.

Although initially opposed to amendments, he supported the idea of freedom of religion where the government does not favor one denomination over another. He wasn’t afraid of the church influencing government, but rather government establishing a national religion. Read:

“The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established.” (emphasis added)

An interesting fact was that he was inclined to have paid chaplains for Congress. As President he signed a bill that economically aided a Bible Society to distribute Bibles. Further, as President he signed proclamations for national days of prayer, fasting, and thanksgiving. These are not the actions of a Deist.

Later in life he seems to have retreated from these positions with his ‘Detached Memorandum.” However, this memorandum does not reflect his public statements and actions, which in my opinion makes one wonder if it was written by him at all. But whether it was or wasn’t the fact remains that both publicly and historically his actions were that of a believer in Christ and not that of a Deist.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Blessed is the man Part 3

FeaturedBlessed is the man Part 3

“Blessed is the man that…nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful”

Psalm 1:1 has been read and memorized by countless Christians. It is a verse that gives us an outline, if you will, of the source for happiness. I have divided this verse into three parts and commented on each part in separate blogs.

In this third part we are warned not to sit in the seat of the scornful. But what does that mean? And what does it mean for the struggling author?

Parts 1 and 2 spoke of particular advice looking at the ‘who’ and the ‘what,’ but here we are looking at the attitude. I think this applies both to the person giving advice and to the one receiving advice.

There are some people who not only have unscriptural practices, but have a scornful attitude towards God. Generally speaking we are to avoid such people. It doesn’t matter whether their advice agrees with scripture or not, they are themselves ungodly. Part 1 actually warned us about such people.

So part 3 is more about us. We need to watch our attitude!

What does that mean? For starters, we should never oppose God. Sometimes even Christians develop an attitude that is in opposition to God’s will. We ask, God answers, and we refuse to accept or believe it. Sometimes because our faith is weak; sometimes because we have our sights set on our own solutions and nothing else; and sometimes we have become so frustrated that our frustration carries over into unbelief.

I have stated before to get into God’s Word. He will speak to you through it. I might add that periodically you need to take a look at yourself in the mirror of God’s Word. If you don’t like what you see, then your first priority is to change.

Attitude can prevent success or lift you up. So we need to constantly affirm our faith in God, trust Him, and do His will. Then we are ready to receive advice.

Recently I have been contemplating our marketing efforts. I have learned a lot about marketing over the course of years, but I still needed to apply that knowledge to myself. On this particular evening I was getting ready for bed when God began working on me. How do I know it was God? My spirit knew.

All of a sudden pieces of the puzzle began falling into place and by the time I closed my eyes, I had the makings of a new plan (to me). The following morning I began developing that plan. It was like my mind was on steroids or something. It was exciting and spiritual at the same time. It is not necessary to go into the plan details as they are for me alone. The important thing here is that God took time to instruct me in the way I was to go (Psalm 32:8). And I listened!

But if I had been scornful, careless, or inattentive, I may have never heard His counsel. You want to succeed as a Christian author, well God wants you to succeed also. That’s why it is so important to avoid bad attitudes. A bad attitude can keep you from hearing the most important counsel, His counsel.

So, to summarize Psalm 1:1, Don’t follow ungodly people, don’t perform ungodly practices, and watch your attitude.

 

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Blessed is the man Part 2

FeaturedBlessed is the man Part 2

“Blessed is the man that…nor standeth in the way of sinners”

Psalm 1:1 has been read and memorized by countless Christians. It is a verse that gives us an outline, if you will, of the source for happiness. I have divided this verse into three parts and will comment on each part in separate blogs.

In this second part we are warned not to get caught up in the actions of the wicked. But what does that mean? And what does it mean for the struggling author?

When blogging on the first part of this verse I talked about following ungodly advice. This second part is similar yet different.  Here we are talking about actions rather than advice.

For example, say I was advised to use unethical methods by a person who admittedly used them. According to part 1 we shouldn’t listen to that person. He or she is ungodly and the advice given is definitely ungodly. But here in part 2 we are talking about the doing.

Like I said the two are closely related. We are not to follow ungodly people nor do what they do. Period.

Not everyone who gives bad advice is bad. You can get bad advice from a fellow Christian who loves the Lord. He means well. He probably thinks the advice is permissible. But when you hear it you know or at least suspect it is not right to do it. At that point you are to avoid following or acting upon that advice.

So what does a Christian do?

Well, in part 1 I pointed out that you need to be in God’s Word and use it as a filter. Now we go one step further. If you find the advice violates scripture or is not in complete agreement with scripture, you want to ditch the advice. It might be proven to succeed; it might come with all sorts of recommendations; and advocates can be people you respect. But if it doesn’t agree with scripture, ditch it!

As I stated in part 1, “be faithful to God and study His Word. Let Him guide your understanding of scripture and its application.”

So far we have seen in part 1 that we need to be careful who we follow and in part 2 not to “do” the advice. In part 3 we will look at the seat of the scornful.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Blessed is the man Part I

FeaturedBlessed is the man Part I

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…”

Psalm 1:1 has been read and memorized by countless Christians. It is a verse that gives us an outline, if you will, of the source for happiness. I have divided this verse into three parts and will comment on each part in separate blogs.

In this first part we are warned not to walk in the counsel of the ungodly. But what does that mean? And what does it mean for the struggling author?

Have you ever noticed the abundance of advice out in the world? The world is full of it for any topic you want to discuss. They have advice on how to work, how to live, how to make money, and how to market products.

This last, the marketing of products, really concerns those of us that are authors. As Christians who are also authors this is especially difficult. It’s not like there are a great number of teachers who announce they teach from a Christian perspective how to market books. Yes, there those who teach writing, but marketing is an altogether different animal. So if you actually find such a person that is a great help. But even then you need to be cautious.

So where does that leave Christian authors. Well, we still need information, so we need to find the best information we can. But, and this is important, we must run all this information through our Bible filter. In other words, does the advice violate scripture? Is the advice the type that you as a Christian follow in good conscience?

While an easy question to state it is not so easy to answer. The truth is that none of the advice comes with warning tags, such as “Not for Bible believers” or “Warning, this advice is bad for your Christian conscience.” So you have to be diligent. Read the advice, compare it to the scriptures and decide whether there is a conflict or not. And remember, other Christian authors may differ on what is right or wrong. Don’t worry about them. Be faithful to God and study His Word. Let Him guide your understanding of scripture and its application.

Admittedly this will not be easy, but it is necessary.
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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

5 STAR REVIEW OF PERISHED

Featured5 STAR REVIEW OF PERISHED

The following review was posted by a reader on Amazon. (http://amzn.to/2u1Y409)

This book was like a dialogue to the bible. I could feel and hear each character…they became life like or real to me in the way the author pended their various responses and reactions to their unique situations. My favourite chapters were 44 and 45, where Queen Esther expressed her love for both men. The one she was in love with before she was ordered to marry the King-something she became willing to do and her now established love,for the King-something that obviously grew with time. I also loved the King’s reaction upon his death bed in that he now entrusted the life of his soon to be widowed wife back to the man with whom she was previously in love. I loved how she displayed faithfulness and trust in a most uncertain time in her life..a time when her daughter-in-law was seeking to take her place as Queen. This gives a fresh feel to the bible and is a real eye opener. I will definitely be looking out for book 2.

As noted above the link to this book on Amazon.com is http://amzn.to/2u1Y409.

Handling God’s Blessings

FeaturedHandling God’s Blessings

If you have been a Christian for awhile then you have experienced God’s blessings.

You say you haven’t?

Then you’re not paying attention. What you need to realize is that God doesn’t just deal in world shattering miracles or blessings. He knows you intimately and can bless you in so many uncounted ways.

Take a step back and take a look at your life as a Christian. If you do that I think you will change your mind. Here are some things to look for:

  • Have you ever had money come in to pay a bill just in the nick of time?
  • Has someone given you something no one knew you needed?
  • Have you been in an accident that could have been much worse than it was?
  • Ever solved a problem but in all honesty you don’t know how you did it?
  • Ever been mysteriously healed of a disease or injury?
  • Ever lost a job and somehow things just worked out for you?
  • Or lost a job, maybe homeless, but you survived?

These are all possible blessings. And I could go on, but hopefully you get the drift.

As for me I work with computers. I am not a technician by any stretch of the imagination. Nor am I a software expert although I have written computer programs. But there have been times when writing those programs that I ran into a roadblock that I couldn’t solve. I prayed and later (maybe minutes, maybe days) I got it working. But ask me how I did it and I would tell you “I don’t know.” That, in my opinion, was a blessing of God.

I have been involved in car accidents. One that comes to mind was a car pulled out in front of me and I reacted. I “saw” children in the back of the car. I knew I couldn’t stop in time, so I went for the shoulder of the road. Driving parallel to the road I went down into a ditch and up the other side and finally brought the car to a halt. When I got out and walked back toward the ditch I saw my gas tank lying on the ground. But my biggest shock was in the ditch there was a concrete culvert and about a car’s width away a good size stump – and my car went right between them with me never seeing the stump! Not only that another car followed the car that had caused me to have the accident. He later came back to see how I was and told me there were no kids in the car. Now that was a blessing!

But I have experienced much smaller blessings as well. There have been times when I and my wife have been extremely short on money and money showed up. Sometimes it was money we knew was scheduled but had forgotten about and sometimes it was money we hadn’t expected at all!

The truth is that God blesses us in great and small ways, but He most often uses the littlest things to bless us and sometimes we aren’t aware of them. Unless were looking.

But how do you handle blessings when they come?

This is actually a key question. Christians should expect God’s blessings either as answers to prayer or sometimes just plain unexpected. But how we handle is even more important than our anticipation of it.

What follows are just three basic ideas. You could build upon these as you see fit. These are not complex.

  1. Thankfulness. Not just saying Thank you, but meaning it. God loves a thankful heart (Col. 3:15).
  2. Be encouraged. God blesses you because He loves you and has plans for you (Joshua 1:6-9).
  3. Seek God’s Will (Heb. 11:6).

These are just a few ideas. Consider them building blocks and add to them. I have found that walking with God is a series of experiences. Growth is not always smooth, but it sure can be adventurous. I have had bad experiences, but when I consider how He blessed either in or afterward, I am glad they happened. So in summary:

  1. Be Thankful.
  2. Be encouraged.
  3. Be seeking His Will.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Profiles in Faith: George Washington

FeaturedProfiles in Faith: George Washington

We have been taught for years that George Washington was a Deist and not a Christian. And most of us accepted this as fact since we were told so by ‘experts.’ But is it true?

Some time back I got curious and started investigating this question. What follows is the result of that investigation.

I am a Christian and within that I am a Baptist. But I don’t feel it would be fair to check on whether Washington was a Baptist or not (and I don’t believe he was). So in the table below I am comparing his beliefs against commonly held tenets of the Christian faith regardless of the denomination.

QUOTES                                     BELIEF        CHURCH      G.W.
“The propitious smiles          Creator             Yes            Yes
of Heaven can never be
expected on a nation that
disregards the eternal
rules of order and right
which Heaven itself has
ordained”

“O eternal and ever               Eternal God       Yes           Yes
lasting God”

“It is the duty of all                Providence        Yes            Yes
Nations to acknowledge
the providence of Almighty
God, to obey his will, to
be grateful for his benefits,
and humbly to implore his
protection ad favors.”

“What students would          Jesus Christ        Yes            Yes
learn in American schools
above all is the religion
of Jesus Christ.”

“Direct my thoughts, words
and work. Wash away my sins
in the immaculate blood of
the lamb, and purge my
heart by thy Holy Spirit,”

Wrote his own Prayer          Prayer               yes           yes
Journal

This table admittedly only has a few quotes, but if you’re interested there are many more quotes of George Washington regarding his faith. I would also add that history has shown God’s protecting hand upon the General during the Revolutionary War and before. This may not be proof of his being a Christian, but surely it gives us pause to consider.

Ultimately you decide what his faith amounts to, but I would contend that he was a Christian in thought and action. Just the few quotes above show that Washington trusted God’s guidance, and protection. Although he never mentions salvation the weight of all his quotes suggest this was a private man who trusted God for everything, including his salvation.

Not only did he write his own Prayer Journal but there was at least one witness to his prayer life. I expect to meet him in heaven someday!

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

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Oops – Correction on Special Announcement

FeaturedOops – Correction on Special Announcement

In my last blog I announced the publication of my book Perished on Smashwords. I also BookCoverImagePerishedannounced the availability to purchase the book at a 25% discount with the use of a coupon.

Unfortunately I typed the code wrong. The correct coupon code is:

LC78D

Since then I have also published on Smashwords the second book of the series. This book, World of Noah and the Ark, also has a coupon worth 25% off. It is PX66G.

You will particularly like this second book as it takes an in-depth look at the Ark itself. Some of the content replicates Perished, but there is also new content that includes the Flood itself and the eventual landing on Mt. Ararat.Noah Book CoverImage

But at the end of the book is a Q&A that delves into the world that existed, the Flood, the known facts of the Ark, what modern science has learned, and a comparison to the myth of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

 

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

FeaturedSPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

In today’s blog I am happy to announce the publishing of Perished, Book One of the BookCoverImagePerishedWorld That Was series, on Smashwords. Not only published but in their Premium Catalog.

But that is now all. This eBook comes to you with a coupon enabling you to purchase the book with a 25% discount off the retail price! All you need is the coupon code, which is LC780.

Perished is the book that launched the series World That Was and the rights were purchased from the previous publisher. This enabled me to rework the book, including giving it a new cover. The story is taken from the Bible and tells the rest of the story from Creation to the Flood.

It is a story based on real life events covering the garden of Eden, the fall of man, expulsion from the garden of Eden, the murder of Cain, and the rise of immorality. It takes the reader into the personal lives of the people so that you feel like you know and understand them. Readers have found it so real they have to check the Bible to see what is fact and what is fiction.

Then, of course, is the Flood itself. The telling of the building of the Ark and the coming of the Flood comes alive! Great care has been taken to include the latest scientific facts within the story.

Although I have received 4 and 5 star reviews I am always looking for more reviews. So I am requesting that if you purchase and read the book that you will write a review no matter what your rating is. Then post it on Amazon or anywhere else you want. And if you have a website post it there as well.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

HOW NOT TO WRITE

FeaturedHOW NOT TO WRITE

Today’s blog delves into bad writing.

A few years ago I spoke at a meeting where we were discussing someone’s book (name intentionally withheld). The book was full of foul language and filthy sex. I had agreed to review the book not knowing the author’s tendencies. In fact, I started to back out because it offended me greatly, but I had agreed to read and so I read it, although it was a struggle. My conclusion, it was a terrible book. I would never recommend it to anyone.

But it was a best seller!

If it was a best seller then how can I say such hard things about it? And if my views are correct how come it was a best seller?

I’ll answer the second question first. Sex sells. So does filthy language.

I said bad things about the book because they were true.

Back to the meeting. In my review I condemned the book for the language and excessive graphics. One attendee, obviously a fan of the author, objected. She claimed to personally know the author who she claimed was a great person.

Now understand this, I never condemned the author as a person. I condemned the writing. There is a difference, but this attendee attacked me anyway. There were others in the room who agreed with my analysis, but this woman was obviously type A and wouldn’t back down.

Since that meeting I have talked about writers not using profane language or excessively graphic scenes. I mentioned it once in a blog and a reader commented that I was imposing my religion on the readers.

Not true. I believed that writing should not contain profane language or excessively graphic scenes long before I ever accepted Christ as my Savior. In fact, I wasn’t even attending church. I’m not talking religion I am talking about what makes a great writer.

Sales doesn’t make a great writer.

There is a constant flow of pornographic books that sell. Mankind is attracted to such books. But they are not good books.

Before I got saved I read well written books of all types. I even read books that had great plots, fantastic characters, while also leaving little to the imagination. And the interesting thing is that these books were great even if the bad stuff was left out. In fact, I would contend they would have been better.

You read any of my novels and I leave out the excessive graphics. That doesn’t mean there’s no sex, violence, or anything like that. When I write a scene I leave the excess up to the reader. Which brings up an important maxim.

A writer’s job is to stimulate the reader’s imagination not replace it!

So I always have a stopping point. This is true whether it is sex or violence.

But what about language? Well, let’s take a look at that. Those defending the practice contend it is more realistic, that everyone swears. But that is a false statement. There are a lot of people who don’t swear. Hollywood and TV has created an image that says swearing is normal, but we all know people, a great many people, who don’t swear.

So, first of all, swearing is not as prevalent as advertised.

Secondly, even if it was prevalent, we need to ask why most people read. It is to escape the reality of their lives, to imagine, to relax, and to be uplifted. Sure some are drawn to the dark side (a little Star Wars there), but I doubt that is the majority.

So, how do you the author show passionate characters and/or events without crossing the line? Believe it or not there was a time when authors actually solved this dilemma. In the case of language they simply used symbols, such as !@#$%^&. The reader automatically knew they represented a swear word. Some readers probably substituted their favorite swear word if they liked to swear. But the key here is that the reader didn’t feel deprived, but simply read on.

In the case of violence or sex the authors highlighted the activities leading up to the event. For example, in Perished I wrote of a battle where a sword fight took place. Read it for yourself:

Akkub turned and saw Meremoth rushing at him. He blocked the initial strike although staggered by it. Meremoth used a two-handed grip to force Akkub back. Suddenly Akkub lost his footing and Meremoth’s sword came slicing downward unblocked.

Everything seemed to stop as the general looked at his severed hand still gripping the sword.

Here we have a sword fight that results in one man losing his hand. The amount of detail provided is not too graphic, but it is enough to stimulate the reader’s imagination. And different readers have different levels of imagination, so each reader may picture the fight differently. In any case, the scene is full of action yet not too graphic.

In the case of sex, my usual approach is to focus on the events leading up to the act and to the events leading away from the event. Again, I let the reader’s imagination fill in the gaps.

In truth, the reader’s imagination is a valuable tool available to every writer willing to make use of it.

It is a tool that needs to be sharpened. You do that by using it. Moreover, you experiment and see what works. As deeply as I believe in what I am saying I have had people who reviewed my rough drafts tell me that I needed to back off in this or that scene. So you need people you trust to review your rough draft before you submit it for publishing.

My final thought on this is: what is your ultimate goal? We all want are books to sell. That is a given. But what is your ultimate goal?

Is it to simply get rich? Then you’ll probably reject everything I’ve said.

Is it to simply write? Then you may or may not care about this blog or about sales.

Is it to write your very best book? Then I contend you want your writing to be above reproach. Fame and sales would be nice, but you want to be able to say to yourself, I did my best. And that brings a deep sense of satisfaction!

 

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

Mistaken Call

FeaturedMistaken Call

Mistaken call? What is that?

If you’ve been a Christian for awhile, you have probably been guilty of this. Sometimes when we are desirous of God’s will, we actually get ahead of him.

In the Old Testament we read of Rebekah. When she gave birth to Esau and Jacob, God had made a prophecy, “Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.”

Rebekah knew by this that Esau, the first to come forth, would serve Jacob. But Isaac favored Esau. So Rebekah took it upon herself to deceive Isaac so Jacob would get the blessing. In doing so, she actually got in front of God and the consequences of her action are felt to this very day.

In like manner, we as Christians get in front of God. Sometimes we hear a call that was never given.

Like all Christians, when I got saved and immediately had a desire to read God’s Word, to worship Him, and to serve Him. These are the first calls upon us, but we’ve got to be careful. We need to get into the right church, worship in the right manner, and serve according to His will.

Like Rebekah knew God’s will concerning Jacob getting the double blessing, I knew God wanted me to serve Him. So when the head usher came to me and asked if I was willing to be an usher, I jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t pause to ask God if that’s what He wanted me to do nor did I stop to think about the opportunity. I simply said yes.

Later that same day I did ask God’s blessing on my call to service. But the problem was I got the cart ahead of the horse. Moreover, I got in front of God.

I believe that if I’d asked God His will, He would’ve said yes. But I never gave him the chance. As a result I was miserable that first year of service. But when the term was up, I went back to God and asked Him if He wanted me to continue serving as an usher. He said yes.

I learned a valuable lesson. Always seek God’s will first! That is more important than the call itself. Once I learned that principle I put it into practice. And God has used me in a variety of areas.

It is always a mistake to assume God is ok with your decision. If your decision is wrong, it can lead you down a wrong path. But asking God first doesn’t guarantee a right decision.

There have been times when I asked God first and didn’t receive an answer right away. I have even asked several times, but didn’t receive an answer. Then I made a mistake. I looked at the facts I knew and decided God was leading me down a particular path.

Don’t get me wrong. I truly believed it was God’s will. But as time went on I came to realize I was mistaken. But what had I done wrong?

I got impatient!

God has a plan for us and we need to patiently wait on His calling. And when we haven’t heard the reply we thought was right, we need to patiently wait longer. Getting ahead of God can be costly in terms of time, energy, and money wasted. So we need to make sure of God’s leading.

How does this apply to me as a writer?

It means questioning myself. It means asking myself questions about the book before I ever write my first sentence. I means asking Him questions throughout the writing; questions like “Is this the right scene?” or “Is the plot correct?” or other questions. I need to involve God in all of my writing.

But not only that, I need to involve Him in the publishing and marketing, as well.

As with other aspects of the Christian life, God doesn’t always answer with a yes. I once knew a man who claimed he always got a yes. But nobody is perfect. All of us err sometimes. And God has three possible answers: Yes, No, and Wait. Wait is actually a delayed Yes. But wait means wait.

So seek God’s leading and let Him do the calling. And be patient. Then when He does call, be ready to follow.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

Responding to Major Roadblocks

FeaturedResponding to Major Roadblocks

Albert Einstein defined Insanity as: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Sometimes we writers get into a rut. Whether in writing or marketing we have discovered what we believe is the right way to go and we stick to it no matter what. Christian authors are just as guilty as any other writer of this unhealthy attitude.

After all we have prayed and sought God’s advice and implemented what appeared to be His answer. But there is the crux of our problem. Maybe it wasn’t God’s leading.

If that is where you are at then it is time to re-evaluate what you are doing. Take a step back and take a hard look at what is happening. Seek God’s leading and listen carefully!

If the problem is about your writing, revisit it and look for ways to improve. Ask yourself questions, especially as it concerns your cover, story line, and structure. Does the story move along at a good pace? Does it hold interest?

Don’t be afraid to change the story! Neither change just to change.

As for marketing you have a great many areas to look at. For example, do you frequently update your website or is it stale? Google and other search engines like fresh material and may downgrade your site if it is not updated.

Also take a look at your advertising. Especially paid advertising. You can waste a lot of money if you’re not careful. Frequently I take a look at where my money is going. And sometimes it means I shut something down and start something else. Recently I closed an email and domain account for three reasons: 1) there was a monthly cost, 2) the domain was not working like I wanted it to work, and 3) I could substitute a free email account for the paid account. The immediate result was a savings of money, but it also caused me to refocus on both the business and personal side of my writing career.

Did I just arbitrarily do that? No. I prayed to God for His leading. And it took weeks, perhaps months, before all of this was accomplished. It required me to look at everything and ask if I was just following popular opinion or was I doing things God’s way? It is not always an easy question to answer.

What is too easy is to follow the crowd. We are beset on every side by ideas and methods that are popular and successful. But worldly success doesn’t always translate to Christian success. God has a plan for us, and our goal must always be to conform to His will. It always requires us to spend time with Him and in His Word. It also requires us to compare the tactic or plan to God’s Word. Does the tactic or plan violate God’s Word?

In conclusion, we want to evaluate our work on a regular basis. Ask yourself the tough questions and early seek God’s leading. I believe that God has a plan for every Christian and He wants us to succeed within that plan. So the most important thing you can do is to trust Him and constantly seek His guidance.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

Did You Know #1 Selling Book?

FeaturedDid You Know #1 Selling Book?

The Bible is listed as the world’s best selling book. I recently looked at an atheist website claiming it is not, but their arguments ranged from silly to just plain untrue.

So what are the facts?

For starters, the Guinness World Records estimate that over 5 billion copies of the Bible have been sold. That puts the Bible head and shoulders above any other book printed!

In a list compiled in Russell Ash’s The Top 10 of Everything 2002 it was estimated that the Bible has sold over 6 billion copies. Second place was Mao Tse-Tung’s “Quotations from Chairman Mao” at 900 million. Quite a difference!

Both the CBA (Association for Christian Retail) and ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) agree that the top three Bible versions are: 1) New International Version, 2) King James Version, and 3) New King James Version.

One dealer in Bibles makes this statement: “The King James Bible remains the greatest book in the English language, and the best-selling book of all time.

What I find interesting in all of this is the fact that the KJV Bible is no longer pushed by major publishing houses. They may print and sell them, but their marketing is aimed at their own version. For example, Zondervan publishes and sells KJV Bibles, but their marketing efforts are aimed primarily at the New International Version, which they own.

So in spite of the publishing houses moving away from the KJV it still is one of the top selling Bibles today. It seems to come in regularly at second place. That’s pretty good considering the lack of real marketing.

But since 1611 A.D., when it was first printed, the KJV has dominated the market and is the number one all time sales leader. How do we explain this?

In a Christianity Today article back in 2014 it said this, “When Americans reach for their Bibles, more than half of them pick up a King James Version (KJV), according to a new study advised by respected historian Mark Noll.

“The 55 percent who read the KJV easily outnumber the 19 percent who read the New International Version (NIV). And the percentages drop into the single digits for competitors such as the New Revised Standard Version, New America Bible, and the Living Bible.”

55 percent to 19 percent. That is crushing! But, again, I ask why?

Why is it that the NIV, which has dominated sales for decades, is a poor second to KJV Bibles being read? Or why is it that the ABS’s State of the Bible report points out that 52 percent of Americans read the King James Version while only 11 percent read the New International Version?

Among several reasons given, one study noted that 56 percent of women, 39 percent of men, and 70 percent of African Americans are more likely to read the Bible. But still no answer regarding the KJV.

In my search for an answer I found many pros and cons relating to the King James Version, but never an explanation of its power. But if you think about it, we don’t need experts.

I think that most Christians who have and read their KJV do so because it speaks to their hearts. Forget the so-called  difficulty of the language. Children learn to read and memorize it from all over the English speaking world.

The true power of the King James Version is not its accuracy (often dismissed but never really disproved), nor its poetic form (which enables easy memorization), nor its strong supporters. It is powerful because of all of that, but more so because historically God has used it in countless thousands, hundreds of thousands, yes, millions of lives!

No other version can make that claim, although they try to do so.

Christian Service and the little things

FeaturedChristian Service and the little things

Have you ever been called to serve God in your church or elsewhere? Do you feel called to a particular ministry?

This blog is a little out of order because the first thing to do when God comes knocking is to make sure the call is from God and make sure what the call is about. I plan on addressing those issues later, but I am addressing this blog to Christians who have already determined that God has called them. What should they do?

Some Christians respond by jumping right into the call. Perhaps they have been called to be a missionary. So they immediately decide to be a missionary to an arbitrarily selected country. Perhaps they apply to a mission board.

Or perhaps they have been called to be a Deacon. So they go to their pastor and tell him.

I believe that the Bible teaches us to do all things in order. If God has called us to some grand ministry it doesn’t necessarily mean that you jump in your car and leave. Rather, a more practical approach is needed.

I call it “Doing the Little Things.”

I knew a man once who believed that God had called him to be a great evangelist. There is a big difference between being a pew sitting churchgoer and being an evangelist. At that time he was not doing any service within the church, not even soul winning as I recall.

As a friend with a few more years of maturity I advised him to start doing the little things that needed to be done around the church. I also advised that being part of the soul winning ministry would be a good start. And finally I advised that he hang around the preacher, perhaps doing little things for him while learning.

Instead of following my advice he eventually left the church and went to another church where I understand he got a platform. But that’s it. He has never become an evangelist. In fact to my knowledge he has never become a preacher.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have heard testimonies of men called to preach as teenagers and were soon preaching. However, every testimony I have heard like that meant that they preached in their backyard or neighborhood. In some cases they got their first taste of preaching by occasionally preaching in their church. Most followed that by studying the Bible at home, serving in their church and going to a seminary. Later they either founded their own church or interned at another church before becoming a pastor.

In other words, they did the little things.

I have been blessed to be able to serve God in a variety of areas. This includes serving on our church’s mission’s board and eventually serving as Financial Secretary. But I didn’t do either at the beginning.

I began a journey of little things. First I became a soul winner. While doing that I also started ushering. In the big picture neither of these are big jobs because any Christian can do them. (All Christians should be soul winners.)

But pastors are practical as well as spiritual. When considering people for higher positions they look at what the person has done and is doing. Yes I know we are not to work to please men. But God chooses to work through them. Only God can see our hearts, but pastors need evidence.

When I was called to full time service I was already serving in several areas. The call came through a sermon my pastor preached. I went to him after service and told him of the call. But we had a mutual problem: neither of us knew what area of service that call involved. But he agreed that I had been called.

So what did we do?

First, I continued to serve where I was and pray. I waited on God’s direction. And eventually it came. One day while I was at work my pastor called me and told me that the job of Financial Secretary would be available in a couple of years. Would I be interested?

Now I happen to believe that if you are asking for God’s direction and an opening shows up, that you are then obligated to at least consider it. In this case I quickly accepted the idea and, since I knew nothing about accounting, I went to night school.

About a year and a half later my pastor wanted me to start working nights and learning the job at the church. So I dropped out of school and went to work. In 1993 I retired from the company I was working at and three days later became the church’s Financial Secretary. And I worked there for 15 years!

Since then I have moved to Florida and once again I was asked to be the Financial Secretary and have now worked for 9 years.

But the truth is I don’t think that was God’s final call. I believe He still has something special He wants me to do. I am not quite sure what that is but I am willing to wait on Him. And I am prayerfully waiting.

I have said all of this to make this point, If you want to serve God then start by doing the little things. Pray about it, be a soul winner, and serve in the church even if it involves menial activities. You will be amazed when you see how He works these things into your life and issues a call to you!

I recently read someone’s commentary on a passage of the Bible (Titus 3:14) and she misunderstood it to mean that God helps them who help themselves. This is not taught. In fact, we have seen where both men and women in the Bible have tried to help out God and instead got in His way. God wants us to wait on Him and let Him direct our paths (Psalm 27:14; 37:34 and Proverbs 20:22). When we do that and make ourselves available to Him opportunities will come!

So do the little things.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.

Featured

Serving thru Missions Conference

Last week I wrote about serving in the church. I specifically mentioned our Missions Conference which was to start on Wednesday.  This is my follow-up.

The conference, which involved five independent Baptist churches, began Wednesday night. Each night of the conference would involve a different missionary. Here is a breakdown:

Wednesday: Michael Payton, missionary to Nicaragua. He gave an excellent presentation which included a video showing in burden for the people of Nicaragua. He also preached

Thursday: Sam Quinn, missionary to India. We enjoyed his presentation with video showing the need of India for the gospel. He preached on battles and giants we all face as Christians.

Friday: Pablo Ramirez, missionary to Japan. I was able prior to service talk to him about Japan (I served there during Vietnam War) and found the country had modernized since I had been there. His presentation was good and included a video showing the need the Japanese people have to hear the gospel. He preached on missions.

Saturday: Missionary Banquet (see below).

Sunday AM: Aaron Hiltibidal, missionary to Romania. Unfortunately he suffered an accident during the week which injured his eye. He was able to only give his presentation which was quite good. We had a substitute preacher for the actual preaching.

Sunday PM: Jesse Turpin, missionary to Indonesia. In his video presentation he pointed out that Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation in the world. His preaching was strong on missions and why we are left behind on earth rather than going to heaven immediately upon salvation – to proclaim the gospel.

This may have been the best missions conference we have ever had. All the missionaries were good preachers with a sound and timely message.

As mentioned above we had a banquet on Saturday night. A number of people hosted tables. Each table could represent a different country. Teresa and I took the Bronx, New York. While not a country our church supports a missionary to the Bronx, Ken Baker. Likewise, another couple took Hawaii where a missionary serves. The rest of the tables took actual countries from around the world.

We all participated in a contest to pick the best table representation of a country. The judge was looking for an attractive display, native food, and, in particular, details about the people, the land, and the need including information about any missionary serving there. The judge liked our table so much that we were high on the list, but the table representing Guyana won.

All in all it was a great banquet that afforded all of us the opportunity serve by hosting a table and to learn more about the mission field. The entire conference was a success raising funds to be divided among the five missionaries. Our church alone raised a large amount ensuring that each missionary would get a very generous offering. (Our funds were sent to another church which acted as a hub. They collected monies from all five churches and divided it among the missionaries. It is always a great offering!)

Teresa and I enjoyed hosting the table and learned a lot about New York City, especially the Bronx. This is an example of serving in the church. It doesn’t always have to be work, sometimes it can be fun!

This also emphasizes the principle that everyone can serve. We can serve with our prayers, our gifts, and our time. Perhaps you have a story of how you and/or your church served as it relates to missions. If you do, why not share it?

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.

A NEW DIRECTION

FeaturedA NEW DIRECTION

You may have noticed that I have not been blogging since last January. The reason is simple: I broke my wrist.

The good news is I was doing something important: playing Table Tennis. How it happened is another story that I may relate some day in the future, but for now let it suffice that I was sidelined. All writing came to a stop for awhile (it is hard to type with only one hand).

While sidelined I have had the opportunity to re-evaluate this blog and, indeed, my writing career. Up to now I have been blogging about writing, publishing and marketing. In fact, my blog’s theme was: So You Want To Write? As you may have noticed that has now changed to: So You Want To Serve!

Although I love writing I have learned it is not my true passion. As I look back on my life there is one theme that continually surfaces: promoting the Gospel. Whether it be personal soul winning, church outreach, missionary outreach, or evangelism, I have been involved in some manner.

I want people to know the Creator God Who Died, Rose Again, and gave me eternal life! If you take a look at all my past blogging there has been that undercurrent. With my being sidelined the Lord was able to get my attention and point out what now seems obvious: I have an evangelistic passion.

Don’t get me wrong. The Lord has not called me to be a preacher. Rather, He has called me to fully use my talents for His service. Just as my books are Christian fiction based on the truth of the Bible, He wants me to use this blog in His service. That does not mean sermons, but rather a Biblical point of view of different Christian outreaches with the idea of provoking you to thought and action.

I hope you enjoy this new direction.

With that in mind I am writing today about our church’s Missions Conference. In cooperation with four other churches we have five missionaries coming in to present their individual burdens. Beginning Wednesday night at 7:00pm each missionary will visit one of the five churches. They will rotate each day through Sunday.

I’ll probably write more on this later, but right now I want to tell you about a special night, this Saturday. Saturday night starting at 5pm our church will be having a Missions Banquet. Different people within the church will have a table set up dedicated to some missionary field. Teresa and I have chosen the Bronx, New York.

My wife has been working hard on ideas for food, garb, and overall table presentation. Each table, I don’t know how many, will set up their table to represent the missionary of their choice. Our table will represent Ken Baker who pastor’s Victory Baptist Church in the Bronx.

This is our first year doing the Bronx. As it was with our previous table, the Arctic North, there is much research required. But in the end we will have a table with up to eight people dressed appropriately and dining on food representative of New York. It will be a fun time.

But not only is it a fun time it is educational for us (of course), those sitting at our table and everyone else in the Fellowship Hall. It is an excellent way of educating people about the many diverse missionary fields out there. It helps each of us understand and appreciate the missionaries we support. And of course, we will also have a missionary there to present his field.

All the monies collected are split equally among the five missionaries which historically has been very good for each missionary. As mentioned each of the five churches invites a missionary. Each church is then responsible for any travel and housing expenses that occur. The whole conference is a much looked forward to event plus one that truly benefits the missionaries. It is even possible that they might get one or more of the churches to support their work.

One of the great benefits for those of us participating is the acquiring of knowledge plus a real appreciation for missions work itself. It is often a moving experience felt by all.

Does your church do anything like this? If so, why not share?

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.

Profiles in Faith James Madison

Profiles in Faith James Madison

Many people, including historians, claim that Madison and the other founders as well were deists. But they do so without much evidence. But what do Madison’s own statements reveal?

“watchful eye must be kept on ourselves lest, while we are building ideal monuments of renown and bliss here, we neglect to have our names enrolled in the Annals of Heaven.” (emphasis added)

Notice the words Annals of Heaven. This is not a deist term, but clearly speaks of heaven, whereas the word ‘annals’ would indicate a book or record. In other words, he is speaking of salvation and having our names written in the Book of Life.

“For men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ.”  (emphasis added)

Here he indicates a desire that men of high position be bold in their faith, even becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ! This is a strong statement and evinces a belief in personal soul winning.

On these two quotes alone we can safely surmise that Madison was a Christian not a Deist. But there is more.

Although initially opposed to amendments to the Constitution, he supported the idea of freedom of religion where the government does not favor one denomination over another. He wasn’t afraid of the church influencing government, but rather government establishing a national religion. Read:

“The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established.” (emphasis added)

An interesting fact was that he was inclined to have paid chaplains for Congress. As President he signed a bill that economically aided a Bible Society to distribute Bibles. Further, as President he signed proclamations for national days of prayer, fasting, and thanksgiving. These are not the actions of a Deist.

Later in life he seems to have retreated from these positions with his ‘Detached Memorandum.” However, this memorandum does not reflect his public statements nor his actions, which in my opinion makes one wonder if it was written by him at all. But whether it was or wasn’t the fact remains that both publicly and historically his actions were that of a believer in Christ and not that of a Deist.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.