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.

FIRST THINGS

FeaturedFIRST THINGS

OK. In my last blog I discussed the first call to service. And I discussed some of the things a new born Christian should do. But today I want to go deeper.
Here is a brief outline:

  1. Establish a personal Bible reading and devotional time.
  2. Pray for God’s will in your life.
  3. Submit your skill, imagination, writings, etc. to His Lordship.
  4. Find a Bible believing church and join it.
  5. Begin serving in that church.

Now, we will look at each a little deeper.

(1) Personal Bible study and Devotions (2 Tim. 2:15; 1 John 2:5)
The Bible often refers to itself as meat for the soul. Just as our bodies need food, our souls need spiritual food. And you get that from reading God’s Word and meditating upon it.
I am not suggesting some college level Bible study program (unless God leads that way), but you having a simple Bible reading program. In designing your program you will need to establish a few guidelines2.

(2) Should I read the Bible through in a year?  (Jos. 1:8; Ps. 1:2; 1 Tim. 4:15)
Many people advocate such a program. And they are passionate about it. They will tell you it really gets you into the Word. Personally I don’t subscribe to that idea. Reading through the Bible in a year requires time; more time than most would want to invest. Why do I say that? Because for a Bible reading program to really work it requires much more than simply reading. It involves reading, comprehending, and applying. For that reason I favor a program of reading through the Bible in about 2 or 21/2 years.

(3) Pray for God’s will. (Dt. 4:29; 1 Chr. 22:19; Mt. 6:33)
Did you know God has a plan for you? Including your chosen career? The weight of Scripture and personal observation convinces me that when I was born in the flesh, God endued me with certain talents, among which were gifts like the ability to write and to imagine. I also believe that when I got saved (born again) that He gave me spiritual gifts that enhanced and enabled the physical gifts.
You may disagree, which is fine. But submitting your career to Him is still a good idea. And don’t forget that His will for your life does contain same basics concepts: soul winning, tithing, church attendance, and prayer. These are part of His will for all Christians!
But it stands to reason if your ability to write is a God-given talent then you owe Him both allegiance and obedience. Throughout the Bible we see men and women used of God. Some sought His will, others resisted, and still others tried to get ahead of God (a bad idea).
So how do you pray for God’s will?
By sincerely seeking His face, asking what He wants you to do. Plus reading His Word and being open to His leading. I have found that when I follow these steps and submit myself to Him that He answers and provides.
I didn’t say it would be easy. Patiently waiting on God can be a battle. But His will is worth the wait!

(4) Find a Bible believing church. (Heb. 10:25)
There was a time when Bible-believing churches were on every corner. That is no longer true. Not even all Baptist churches fit that description. Chances are that the church responsible for sending someone to you to share the gospel is a Bible-believing church. If it is it will be characterized by an adherence to the Word of God. Every ministry will be based on the Bible.
Further the Bible will be taught in Sunday School and preached in the services. The Bible will be regarded as the ONLY authority by which a person can know if they’re saved and how to live.

(5) Start serving. (Dt. 6:13; Ps. 100:2; Eph. 2:10)
“But I can’t do anything!”
Not true. When you got saved God equipped you to do whatever He calls you to do. And everyone can pray. Start praying for your church and its ministries. Look for opportunities, no matter how base, to work. He is both working in you and watching you. He will burden your heart for the very thing(s) He wants you to be involved in both in your church and personally.

These are the first things. Build your life and your career upon them. A Christian sold out to God is a success no matter his/her education, bank account, or status!

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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.

First Call To Service

First Call To Service

The title of this blog is very specific for a reason. It is to avoid confusion with the First Call on everyone’s life: To get saved by trusting Jesus Christ Who shed His blood for us! Then there is the Call to be Baptized by immersion. Once saved, be baptized.

But today I am writing about service. And I am assuming that you are saved and that you have obeyed your Savior and been baptized.

You are probably very much aware of Ephesians 2:8-9 where you find that salvation is a gift of grace and not of works. But then we find that once saved a Christian is expected to work. I refer you to Ephesians 2:10:

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

There are other verses encouraging, even commanding Christians to work, but this verse should be sufficient for any born-again believer!

How Can You Know the Call of God?

Christians are called in a variety of ways and areas of service. In my case I was first called to serve God in the Sunday School. I was a student in a Young Adult class knowing nothing about teaching, but one day I realized something. Our teacher had to dig deeper into God’s Word so that he could teach us. He actually learned more and imparted only a portion of what he learned.

My first call to service, therefore, came as a result of my deep desire to learn God’s Word. But I knew nothing of teaching. So I went to the Minister of Education and told him I thought God wanted me to teach.

He didn’t hesitate, but immediately asked me, “Would you be interested in teaching 6th grade boys?” To be honest that scared me. I felt more comfortable talking to adults. But I immediately knew this was God’s call, so I said yes.

He suggested that I take a course (by mail) from Moody Bible Institute. I did as he suggested and that Fall I started teaching. Since that beginning I have served in a variety of areas in three different churches.

But the important thing here is that I sensed God’s call on my life, I sought the wisdom of an associate pastor, I acted on his advice, and began serving. All this even though I knew nothing, not even the basics of teaching, until I received instruction from Moody.

That proved to be my first step in serving God. Now I am using my talents as a writer to serve God, but I still am involved in the Sunday School ministry. God took me and built upon my early works to where I am today. And He is still working on me.

How Do You Prepare For That Call?

The short answer is: make yourself willing to serve. It is not how much you know but how much you are will to do what He wants you to do! No job is too small or too big.

The longer answer is to first be obedient. That includes tithing, attending as many church services as possible, Bible study, and prayer. Seek God and ask Him to reveal what He wants you to do (which may be totally opposite what you want to do). Go to your pastor and tell him you want to serve. It’s OK to mention areas of interest, but be open to his suggestions.

An example of this in my life came recently when our pastor was restructuring the Bus Ministry. I was a helper on Saturdays working with a bus driver and visiting the bus route. But pastor broke us up and assigned us different responsibilities. In my case he asked if I’d be willing to visit people who had missed church or Sunday School? I said yes and, with my wife, began visiting. Already this ministry has expanded to the point where we call on absentees, the sick, and the new (prospects). Since I have been in the soul winning ministry from almost the beginning of my Christian walk, I find this exciting.

Warning: Don’t presume that because you may sense a call to be a preacher or evangelist that you should immediately start there. Just as I needed to learn how to teach (and for that matter how to be a soul winner), you need to do the little things (see my blog on Christian Service and The Little Things). Getting ahead of God can cause problems down the road (read the story of Jacob and Esau in Gen. 27:1-46 and how Rebekah got ahead of God – we are still suffering the consequences).

How you respond to that first call to service may very well set the pattern for the rest of your life. Respond rightly and God will build upon it. There is no telling what He will do with you!

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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.

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.