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.

Review of Book Blueprint

FeaturedReview of Book Blueprint

Rating: 5 stars
Special thanks to Jacqui Pretty for sending me a review copy.
I am an author of Christian fiction, but I have written a couple of non-fiction books. More importantly I am always willing to learn how to write better. That said, I thought I knew how to write non-fiction. This book was an eye opener for me.
The author appears to favor publishing houses while I favor Indie Publishing and am now publishing my own books. But I found that her wisdom applies across the board. Her book is filled with cogent and practical words of advice.
I also found the book extremely easy reading. She stated principles, then proceeded to build upon them. An example of this technique is her discussion of a book’s Introduction. She not only stated the principle, “your introduction in arguably the most important part of your book,” but she also put her principle into action with an excellent introduction.
Repeatedly she demonstrated a solid understanding of her subject. By the time I finished the book I was thoroughly convinced that this blueprint is a valuable asset for me. Especially since I am seriously thinking of rewriting one of my books and may write a new one as well.
In rating this book I examined it from several angles:
Cover: 5 stars – I generally like more eye appealing covers, but while this didn’t measure up to that, it did measure up on such things as Title (great title), positioning, and promise.
Fulfillment: 5 stars – This book makes some great promises, such as: “The goal is that by the time you finish all of the exercises you will have blueprint that’s so detailed your book will write itself.” As a reviewer I didn’t work the exercises, but I could tell by the comments and instructions that these were concepts that would actually work. I believe this is a promise that any committed student would find fulfilled.
Readability: 5 stars – As I stated in the review it was easy reading. It moved along at a quick pace and was easily understood.
Structure: 5 stars – Perhaps the most important as the way she structured the book transmitted the information in a way that both informed and built upon itself so that the next bit of information fell into place naturally.
Content: 4.5 stars – The only reason I didn’t give it a 5 was that the author didn’t really address self-publishing. The principles laid out are good for both professional publishing and self-publishing. But in all honesty I am being a nitpicker.
The overall rating is therefore 4.9 which rounds off to 5 stars.
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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.

Buy A Good Bible

FeaturedBuy A Good Bible

You may find this blog to be controversial. You may even disagree, but that is alright.

On the other hand your appetite for more information may be whetted. I have written a book that covers this and actually the early Baptist history. At the conclusion I will tell you how to get a FREE copy.

In today’s world there are many versions of the Bible. So before buying a Bible, you must first learn what is the best Bible.

You walk into a Christian Bookstore and you will see all sorts of Bible versions. Do you know the history behind them? Do you know why most you cannot trust?

Let’s take a closer look.

Argument #1: Easier to Read

Many of these new versions are written in today’s language, while the KJV still reflects the Old English. Publishing houses promote their versions as easier to read.

While it is true the new ones use modern English, that doesn’t make them any easier. Here are a few observable facts:

  1. Children can be taught to read and understand the King James English.
  2. Adults regularly learn new languages, new terminologies, and new words without blinking.
  3. The KJV ranks first in all-time sales and 2nd in current sales.
  4. And it ranks #1 in being read.

Why is the KJV Better Than Other Versions?

To my knowledge there are only two Bibles (currently printed) that are written in the King James Language: The Geneva Bible and the King James Bible, with the KJV dominating. All other Bibles are based on what is known as the Corrupted Text.

During the early years after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ there arose two schools that produced copies of the New Testament. These were Antioch and Alexandria. Unfortunately Alexandria was the home of a host of pagan beliefs that infiltrated the texts being copied there.

The Alexandria texts became corrupted even further under Origen in A.D. 250, which had a major impact on Jerome’s Latin Vulgate (A.D. 380). Later there was an even greater corruption by Westcott & Hort.

Westcott and Hort were members of the Anglican church, but there is no evidence they were ever saved. We know they did not believe in the Trinity and other Biblical doctrines. Yet their work became the basis for the modern translations of the Bible.

Argument #2: Newer Versions Are More Reliable

This is the most ridiculous argument around. There are only a few (50 or less) copies of the corrupted texts, while there are 5500 copies of the Textus Receptus!

Part of this argument is based on the assertion that the newer texts are actually the oldest copies in existence. While this might be argued, there is another more important fact: these are copies not originals. You cannot make any claims about age based on copies. You need the originals.

Why Should You Use The KJV?

Here are just a few facts:

  1. Scribes faithfully copied each manuscript. If they made an error, they would destroy the current work and start over.
  2. The Textus Receptus has been used of God as a blessing for centuries to bless His people.
  3. It is 100% accurate, while the other versions have major omissions and inaccuracies.

One thing that confuses the issue is there are many godly pastors who use the other versions and still preach solid doctrine. But it is wise to remember that these same men grew up memorizing the KJV. They know the true doctrines and can teach them with any version. But new Christians don’t have that foundation! So they are left with a Bible version that may not support the doctrine they believe, which leaves them vulnerable. Stick with the KJV.

Final note: Some people claim the NKJV is also based on the Textus Receptus. This may be partially true, but it still adheres to the modern texts in that there are omissions and errors.

As I said in the title, Buy A Good Bible. That is the KJV Bible.

If you would like a FREE copy of my Did You Know About The Bible? to be emailed to you, email me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. I am currently revising the book and upon completion will send you a copy (Microsoft Word).

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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.

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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.