Thursday, January 26, 2012

A mix of humor and inspiration from Margaret Brownley

An interview with Margaret Brownley, a New York Times bestselling author of inspiring novels with Love and Laughter, thrills, mystery, and suspense. Her latest book, Dawn Comes Early, will be available in March 2012. You can order her other books now.

Margaret tells the story that she was writing for the church newsletter when after making the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, her pastor took her aside and said, "Maybe God's calling you to write fiction."

It turns out God was and Margaret did. She now has more than 20 novels to her credit. In addition, she's written many Christian articles and a non-fiction book. Still, it took a lot of prodding from God before Margaret tried her hand at writing inspirational fiction which led to her Rocky Creek series. 
 Ada Brownell's interview with Margaret Brownley
Have you always had a sense of humor or did it just pop out as you created your characters because they did and said hilarious things?
First, I want to thank you for letting me visit today. To answer your question, when I first started writing I wrote angst-driving contemporaries for Harlequin. I decided to try my hand at a historical and sent the proposal to my agent. When she told me that she practically rolled out of bed laughing I took it as criticism.  I had no idea I could write serious themes with humor. My characters do tend to keep me awake at night by whispering funny things in my ear.  If you can’t sleep you may as well laugh.

Could you share some of the things you do that other writers can practice to bring humor into their stories?
Humor has to spring from the characters.  It can never be forced.  To be humorous a character has to have a unique perspective and be passionate about something.  In “Dawn Comes Early” Aunt Bessie (fine Christian woman that she is) has a unique opinion of herself and her place in the world.   She considers it her god-given duty to see that everyone is properly married. This is her passion. This gives her a great deal of grief—and readers a good laugh.

Another way to inject humor into a story is through the choice of language. Can you think of more mouth-pleasing words than hornswoggle, caboodle or skedaddle?  And if they don’t tickle your fancy what about fiddlefooted, ranktankerous, rumbumptious  or splendiferous? A latte may be the haute cuisine of coffee, but give me an Arbuckle’s any day.

Do some of your attempts fizzle?
Interesting question.  I’ve dropped scenes that don’t work so the answer has to be yes.

Is faith and humor an unlikely combination?
Jesus had a sense of humor so I’ve never understood why people take religion so seriously. Why can’t we have fun with it?  There would certainly be less strife in the world if we did.

 In Dawn Comes Early one of the ranch hands prayers for rain.  God, the Father, thank you for your many blessings and don’t forgit to send rain. And if you ain’t sending it to us, don’t go sendin’ it to no other ranchers, neither.”  Imperfect people make for imperfect prayers, but God still loves us and He may even find occasion to laugh.   

To qualify for inspirational fiction some writers only make their characters Christian in name and they attend church. Do you make an integral part of their lives? At the same time, is it difficult to avoid preaching?

I strive to create a spiritual arc.  No matter where we are in our faith there’s always room for growth, and so it is for my characters.  They may have to learn forgiveness, trust or humility but the journey is never easy.
As for preaching, a character in my book has this to say: “God says if you’re holdin’ a grudge you plumb better get over it or you’ll be a sad as a tick-fevered doggie.”  Preachy?  Or a worthy message delivered in a fun way?  You be the judge.

Among your 28 books do you have a favorite character you’ve created?  Why is he or she your favorite?
My favorite character is always the one I’m working on.

How do you develop characters who are likable, despite their faults?
One way is to give characters a worthy cause.  We tend to like people who make us laugh and the same is true of characters.  The ranch owner in Dawn Come Early is a tough old bird, but it’s her vulnerability that makes her likeable. 

Are your villains bad to the bone, or do they have some good in there somewhere? Are some of them converted and changed before the end of the book, or since you write about the Old West, do you create a hero who will kill him off?

In Dawn Comes Early Cactus Joe is the bad guy.  Making him “bad to the bone” would have been easy, but I didn’t want to do that.  He plays an important role in the heroine’s life, and I wanted him to be an interesting and complex character. I had to dig deep into his psyche to find out what makes him tick.  It turns out he’s an outlaw who can’t get any respect and respect is what he wants more than anything.  The way this town treats criminals,” he complains, “it don’t deserve none.”  Bad to the bone?  Hardly. But he is funny. 

What is the biggest challenge in the genre of writing that you do?
In my other life I was a teacher.  At a teacher’s workshop I once attended the instructor asked the following life changing questions: At the end of your career which will you be able to say?  That you taught for 35 years?  Or that you taught one year 35 times?

 I use that same philosophy in my writing career.  I don’t want to write the same book 35 or 40 times.  So the biggest challenge for me is to stay fresh. 

 What has been the most satisfying part of being a novelist?
I get to talk to myself and no one thinks I’m crazy.  I also get to do the most amazing things through my characters.

Do you have a word of encouragement to writers?
Enjoy the journey. Being published comes with its own challenges, so you really have to enjoy each step of the way or you won’t survive.  Surround yourself with a support group and celebrate every success.  Celebrate when you finish a chapter; enter a contest; pop a query in the mail; or sign up for a writing workshop.  This is what kept me going during the five years it took me to sell my first book, and it will keep you going, too.     

A word of encouragement to people seeking faith or a deeper walk with the Lord?
Following the death of our son I had a crisis of faith.  Out of this came a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God.  I couldn’t have written the books I’m now writing without going through what I did.  I’m living proof that God is working on us and through us during good times and bad.  Or as that old cowhand Ruckus from Dawn Comes Early would say, “God ain’t finished with me yet and He ain’t finished with you, neither.”

Also visit Margaret on Facebook and Twitter\
Margaret’s also excited to announce that her non-fiction book “Grieving God’s Way: The Path to Hope and Healing” will be published in July—not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English.  Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.

Friday, January 20, 2012

How novelist Margaret Daley, ACFW president, approaches writing

Margaret Daley is Author of 82 published books and sold seven in 2011. Worked 27 years as a special needs teacher.  She was a Special Olympics coach. She serves on an outreach committee at her church and also works with the church’s vestry. She and her husband have been married 41 years and have one son and four grandchildren. You can visit Margaret at to see about her different books and read excerpts from them.

Ada:       Do you sleep? How do you keep up with your writing schedule?
Margaret:  Sometimes it is difficult, but I try to write almost every day.
Ada:  Each of your books on your website is an easy purchase because of the links to Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  How do published writers get these links on their websites or blogs?
Margaret:  I am an associate member of Amazon and they give me the links. The other I copy and paste from Barnes and Noble.
Ada:  Just going through your website is a lesson for beginning writers on creating a short book summary. I like the way each starts with a well-written hook. How long does it take to compose these blurbs, or does your mind automatically click them out?
Margaret: Some of the blurbs are mine and some are from my publishers. I think coming up with blurbs is hard.
Ada: How do you begin the writing process—to lay the groundwork? What system do you use for filing character profiles, setting and plotting? How deep and how thorough do you go at the beginning?
Margaret: I live with my characters for a while before I start writing. But as I write, I learn more about them the deeper I go into the story. I start with an idea and a framework for my story.  I know some of the details but a lot of them I figure out as I write--as the characters grow in my mind.
Ada: Is it easy or difficult to bring in the story complications? Have you had a character you loved so much you hated to bring in the hurt?  Ever wept with the people you created?
 Margaret:  What makes a plot is conflict and hurt is part of conflict. As a writer I owe my readers the best possible story I can give them. I go through the traumas with my characters, but I've never hesitate to put them through the wringer.
Ada:  Do you use photos and other things to stimulate your mind and enhance your writing, to paint scenes and bring in the senses?
Margaret:  Sometimes but mostly I imagine the story unfolding in my mind.
Ada:  Do you still participate in a critique group?
Margaret:  Not as much as I used to. I do have friends I brainstorm with and occasionally critique.
Ada: What event caused you to change from secular publishers to the Christian booksellers?
Margaret: God gave me a story that could only be told as an inspirational romance--The Power of Love, my first Love Inspired.
Ada:  Is there any part of writing that is a significant challenge to you?
Margaret:  Promoting. It didn't use to be as big a deal as it is in today's market. It takes a lot of time away from the actually writing. I'm not comfortable trying to sell myself.
Ada:  What was your first published book? How old were you when you started and how long did it take to achieve success?
Margaret:  My first book published was a Silhouette Romance in 1981 called Second Chance on Love. It took about three years from when I started to sell my first book.
Ada: Which among your books makes you most proud?
Margaret:  I have several favorites for different reasons. The book coming out in March called Saving Hope is a book I felt the Lord wanted me to write. He opened doors for me to get this story published. It is about human trafficking, a timely subject that needs to be dealt with in this country. Heart of the Amazon was a book of the heart. I had such fun writing it. It is African Queen meets Romancing the Stone. Another book that is close to my heart is my October 2012 from Abingdon Press called Shattered Silence. It is about different types of bullying in our society.

Ada in summary: Visit Margaret at  The visit will enlarge your vision of writing fiction. As you learn more about her, remember she sold seven books in 2011, but she also has a life ministering to others, working with other writers at American Christian Fiction Writers, and enjoying her family. I would say the Lord certainly blesses the work of her hands, and has enlarged her territory of influence by His miraculous power.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Why I Wrote Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal

By Ada Brownell
Faith is a force that must be fed.
Every day, we either nourish our faith or unbelief. It’s like depositing funds in the bank. Every day we use a little of our cash, but most of us know we need some put away for emergencies.
Life, especially in these times of media saturation, challenges our faith from many sides. Sometimes getting up in the morning is like stepping out into a shooting range between the guns and the target. We duck and wonder why we’re not carrying a shield to get through this mess. Then we notice the enemy of our soul lurks on the edges of the hillside. He roars like a lion and we realize this is no game.
“Where is my sword?” we ask ourselves.
Ephesians 6 tells us a little about preparing for the battle and what our enemy is like. “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
The ultimate attack comes against faith in life and death issues. God warned Adam and Eve if they disobeyed him, they would die. Most everyone is subject to the ultimate lie Satan, that slimy snake, told Eve in the beginning.
Satan opened his fangy face and guffawed. “You won’t die.” His bony fingers grabbed a peach from the forbidden tree and thrust it toward Eve. “Eat it. It’s delicious!”
Eve ran to Adam and offered him one. Soon the couple bit in to the sugary fruit, juice dripping from the edges of their mouths as they watched one another change from immortal to mortal beings that would become ill and die.
Satan’s venom fills every earthly body and grave since that time.
Read about it in Genesis 3, but God had compassion and promised a Redeemer who would bruise Satan’s head, although the Redeemer’s heel would be bruised by the serpent when the Savior came to redeem every man who wanted to be saved. We know the Messiah was crucified. The amazing thing is death could not hold him!
Yet, although we all know the story, when Satan whispers, “Don’t even think about it. You won’t die,” we avoid putting that faith deposit in the bank, because when someone we know has a troubling diagnosis or dies, we’re deceived into thinking he or she is the only one going.
We think like the leaders of our nation that plunged us into owing $15 trillion in debt and the bank account is empty!
Perhaps that’s why it took me 15 years to see Swallowed by LIFE published. When I showed a proposal to editors, I suspected they thought the market for this category of books was limited, and it should be left to ministers who have a long list of credentials and a huge following.
Yet, I knew my book is unique because it has exciting news about life and how we are made, urging you to take time to see the evidence we are more than a body; to view the powerful hope everyone has in Christ as we look at all the aspects of John 3:16; asking you to look at heaven; to contemplate the joys of knowing God walks with us every day here and whether we live until He comes and we’re caught away to meet Him in the air; if we will walk through the valley with Him holding our hand.
In short, the book reveals exciting things scripture and medicine and witnesses tell us about life and the eternal.
I started with four sections to the book. The first chapters were similar to what I have now with the exciting things about our bodies and life, challenges to know the truth about who we are, and some about what happens at death, where the spirit goes, what happens at the Resurrection and what we’ll do for eternity. The second part focused on difficult choices, such as living wills, hospice, different beliefs about burial and cremation, including the controversies of assisted suicide and euthanasia. As a reporter I covered a number of conferences that featured medical doctors who believed in or practiced assisted suicide and euthanasia. The next section had to do with dealing with losses and changes in lifestyle as we age or suffer from illness. The last focused on ways to leave a legacy.
The section I felt needed to be published most was first part where the theme is “God created us so that we are more than a physical body. No matter what happens to the body, whether we constantly die cell by cell as they regenerate, whether we lose a hundred pounds, a bomb takes off an arm or leg, they cut off parts and perhaps replace them with a mechanical device, give us an organ from another human, implant the valve of a pig, or whether the body turns to dust--we LIVE and are the same person who started as an egg in our mother’s body, and if we know Jesus as Savior we will LIVE forever in joy and peace with Him.”
If you’re out of breath reading the above paragraph, you’ll see my topic fires me up. Satan thought he won by deceiving humankind so that they would be forever impacted by God’s judgment, but he was wrong. The person we are will never die and God, although he allowed the penalty for sin, loves us so much he forgives and Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us…Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:1-3).
Put that in your faith bank along with the hundreds of wonderful scriptures that tell us about the abundant life God gives here and beyond. The deposit will come in handy sometime. Remember, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
Can you tell? You being filled with faith is the reason I wrote the book. When our Carolyn became ill, she fed her soul on the Word and songs such as It is Well with My Soul sung by Sandi Patti. She died with her confidence in God, which she dug for on her own. Some of our faith accounts didn’t have much to share. But the Lord keeps helping me make deposits and now I can share.
You can purchase Swallowed by LIFE from me, or and
©Ada Brownell, Jan. 16, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Going back to Shiloh with author Phillip Bryant

They met at Shiloh

April 7th, 1862-- The battle has ended with the retreat of the Confederate army. Philip Pearson (a former Methodist Episcopal Minister) and his pards from the 25th Ohio Volunteers retraced their steps looking for wounded and fallen comrades.

A clearing revealed a sight equal to the ninth level of hell. Space opened in the trees, roughly twenty yards in length and ten in width, revealing a low-lying pond where wounded from both armies writhed side by side on muddy banks relieving their thirst. Many had life in them, but dozens lay still. Stepping around the pond was impossible without kicking some poor soul.

“God have mercy,” Philip whispered. Hospitals and aid stations on a battlefield were sights of suffering, but the sufferers knew help was on the way. This pitiful mass of bodies was a collection of all the desperately wounded on this side of the battlefield who had one desire in mind: water. They lay on top of each other, and those who did not have the strength or life left to draw their heads out of the water were pushed into the soft banks by those coming after. In their fight to relieve their thirst, man desecrated man to lap a few mouthfuls of bloody water.

“Have you ever seen the likes?” muttered Sammy.

The pond was tinged muddy red, and a few corpses were visible floating on the surface. They gazed in silent disgust and horror. Mule asked, “You think any of our pards made it this far?”  

“Don’t know,” Johnny said quietly, “and I don’t think I can look.”

 “Don’t we got to try?” Mule insisted.

“We din’t come here to help all them,” Johnny retorted. “We go down there, and they’re all gonna want our help.”
Comments from Phil:
I have always been a civil war history buff, ever since I was 12. My personal library is full of history books and I've read anything that would tell me a story about an event. As a youth, play usually entailed being a soldier, be it with Star Wars figures, G.I. Joe or whatever was on hand to make a uniform and a weapon. My poor brother had to endure all this, even to the tune of being shot accidentally with a BB gun!

 My first novel, They Met at Shiloh, had its germination from something a good friend of mine wrote. A group of us in college had been friends for several semesters. For Christmas one year, he wrote a story with everyone as a character. It was an interesting thing to do and everyone loved it.

Not to be outdone I decided to write something with all of them in it, but this would be a novel. I'd spent the summer of 1987 at my parent's home after army basic training. With nothing to do I started piecing together notes and research on the civil war battle of Shiloh. I'd been to the battlefield as a child and it was a dramatic story in itself. Conflict in the high Union command, distrust in the confederate command, opportunities lost, and a reversal of fortune gave Shiloh all the elements of a good story.

I have been a civil war reenactor for the last fifteen years. Reenacting allowed me to experience some of the privations of soldier life. Marching, sleeping in the open in all weather, camp life, fatigue and guard duty, period rations and period ways of cooking them, and standing in line of battle. I was able to weave these details into the narrative to give it a realistic feel. Because the outcome of the battle is known to history, the details and character focus were critical to giving life to my narrative.

I wanted to portray a realistic view of faith. Personal faith played a much larger role in the lives of our forebear's than we see today in our current society. I didn't want a sappy everyone gets saved view either, but a treatment of how faith and various iterations of that faith interacted in the time period. Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans all coexisted in regiments and had common bond in liturgy and practice. I wasn't going to shy away from the obvious influence of faith and war. Up until the Civil War the Army did not have a policy for regimental Chaplains, they could be elected or appointed by the commander if he wished, but the War Department put such a level of importance to the position that selection of Chaplains was codified and a rigorous review process was instituted to ensure that only ministers of good standing and active in their denominations could hold the post of Chaplain. A high priority was placed on the spiritual well being of soldiers by both sides of the conflict. I have tried to give that some flavor.

What I was writing was character, and in particular, soldier centric. It was a look at how a battle could exert its own influence upon the characters, treating it as a character itself. This was a unique approach to the subject and has been hard to categorize for purposes of marketing as it falls outside several norms. It's an hour by hour look at how Shiloh unfolded and how the characters coped with stress and loss.
Buy both the paperback and the e-book at

More from guest Phillip Bryant, author of They Met at Shiloh

I started writing as a serious venture back in 2001. Finishing a half written book was to be my target. As part of this, I started looking around at what my options where. There was self-publishing and there was traditional. I wasn't going to self-publish necessarily, but I needed to understand the market and the process. I started by looking at magazines for short story publication. I was writing a lot in those days, having the spirit and energy that comes with any new undertaking.

As I started piling up the rejections and delving into the business I realized that the process was there to keep you at arm's length. The gate keepers were legion and the options few. In my youthful zeal I missed the point of the business. It wasn't to make stars, it was to make profit. No business can survive unless it does, but that did not assuage the betrayal I felt nonetheless. I was betrayed by my own ignorance and pie in the sky aspirations about what writing and creating meant. I gave up for a time, jaded by the oft cold and inhuman rejections.

Then I found her. Julia Cameron. Her books on the creative process (The Right to Write and The Artist's Way) revived me. I began writing again, not to publish but to write because what I was hearing needed to be written down. I was learning to quiet the editor and critic in my head so the child could come out and play once again. That is all that creativity is, I was learning, child's play. Any creativity, no matter how lofty the words or heady the imaginings; it is play. The child cannot play while the adult is watching sternly from afar.

Then I met another, not to let loose of my love affair for alas my mentoring is not monogamous. Madeline L'Engle. Her book on the creative process, Walking on Water, put what Cameron was often unwilling or able to say, that all creativity and art comes from the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. L'Engle confirmed for me that art is not only a creative act, but is as close as we come to touching the transformative in this life. All good art is of, and points to, Christ. When I was writing They Met at Shiloh and listening to the story, participating in the work and not controlling it, I was playing my part in creation.

I've recently picked up Michael Card's Scribbling in the Sand. It has reminded me that I participated in the creative process to glorify God if I truly was listening. I've become a rankings and follower junky, checking to see if another sale has come in, checking to see if I've beaten my previous days page views on my blog, worrying that all my efforts and plans are for naught, becoming frustrated that what I want is not coming fast enough. This, too, I shall give unto God and get out of the way of His work. Creating, listening, is when we come the closest to touching the divine work that we are in Him.
One way I approached Shiloh:
I have been a civil war reenactor for the last fifteen years. Reenacting allowed me to experience some of the privations of soldier life. Marching, sleeping in the open in all weather, camp life, fatigue and guard duty, period rations and period ways of cooking them, and standing in line of battle. I was able to weave these details into the narrative to give it a realistic feel. Because the outcome of the battle is known to history, the details and character focus were critical to giving life to my narrative.
 What I was writing was character, and in particular, soldier centric. It was a look at how a battle could exert its own influence upon the characters, treating it as a character itself. In 2001 I began a rewrite of what I'd begun, narrowing down the character list and expanding my research. At the time I began researching, I had only what existed in my own personal library and the public library. By the time I finished, I had whatever I could find on the internet, details that I would have needed to travel to private or small collections were readily accessible off of blogs and specialty webpages.
 History is story. Some of the best history books being written today by authors like Gordon C. Rhea whose series of books on the last campaign of the war or Peter Cozzen's series on the Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi West, both non-academic historians, combine the facts and figures in a narrative prose that reads like a story. In a similar vein, my desire is to take the same facts and figures and make them into a story, one that can be both educational and entertaining for the civil war aficionado and uninitiated alike.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Train-Stopping Message

My husband, Les, stood beside the railroad tracks holding a long “Y” stick high while a speeding train thundered toward him, quaking the ground and the wind from the locomotive flapping his clothes. The engineer stretched his arm out the engine window and stuck it through the Y. His arm hooked the twine Les had inserted in the upper arms of the stick with a message attached.
            The message told the railroad crew to pull the train into a siding to allow an oncoming freight to pass or to beware of a hazard ahead such as a rockslide or a train going the same direction.
           Dispatchers and telegraph operators like Les used Morse code to help direct train movements before Centralized Traffic Control was invented and installed. Today CTC allows a dispatcher to govern a whole state’s train movements electronically.
            Like the railroad traffic lights of today or the train messages Les tied in twine, I’ve found God sends important messages through the Holy Spirit’s whispers, through pastors, teachers, the Word, or circumstances.  Some messages are wonderful news. But there also are warnings.
          It’s up to me to grab them and apply them to my life.
         I am a writer and often the Lord talks to me when I’ve having my devotions. I used to feel guilty when I jumped up from my knees to scribble an idea. Yet, when I take time to develop these ideas, see them published and people are encouraged, I understand I  listened to His voice.
         Sometimes, however, the Lord reminds me to pray for and contact someone who is going through a difficult time. That’s His Spirit speaking, too.
        His Word frequently talks to me about my spiritual growth and one verse that frequently runs through my mind is, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath” (James 1:19) and Jesus’s command to love God, then my neighbor as myself.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Guest blogger author/evangelist Zeke Lam

Zeke, founder of SubMISSION Ministries with children in the Dominican Republic. He also is author of the book, SubMISSION The Amazon link is:

From Ada: We are always happy to host other authors who have an encouragement ministry. The bad news is Zeke Lam focuses on submission--something vital to our Christian walk but often difficult to achieve with our stubborn natures. For instance, God's Word says in Ephesians 5:23-25 "Wives submit to your husbands. in all your ways submit to him (the Lord), and he will make your paths straight. We're told, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:20-22). Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:6-8).
Each new day is an experience of submitting to God. That means when He told me to be content in the little town with only 98 people, four bars and no church, I needed to start a Sunday school. God did His part and sent a helper. When I submit to my husband he knows he has responsibility for his decisions, so takes them more seriously. When we submit to other people out of reverence for Christ, we grow in character and humility and gain respect if we do it correctly.
Submission is all wound up in picking up our cross and following Jesus, and taking His yoke upon us so He can lead us.
So with this introduction, here's Zeke:

                                                 Preparing for Obedience
                                                           By Zeke Lam
            So often we cry out to God for His working in and through our lives. We beg for His will and plan to become clear to us day by day. In those quiet moments when we feel as if God has forgotten about us, our only yearning is His leading. In this condition of longing for His voice, it is absolutely critical that we prepare ourselves to respond when the call comes forth.
             Preparing for obedience is about daily crucifying the desires of our flesh so that the works of Christ can be manifested in our lives. Galatians 2:20 states: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.” Why is this so critical one might ask? Often times, God may bring forth a call that does not come close to what you had in mind. He may ask you to sacrifice in ways you never imagined. He may ask you to do things you never thought you were capable of or comfortable with. If we do not prepare ourselves for absolute obedience, the call may come and we may not answer.
            When we crucify any and all personal, fleshly desires and willfully submit to God’s purpose for our lives, we position ourselves for His glory. As we daily surrender to Him, His desires become our desires and we prepare our hearts to obey no matter what God asks of our lives. In this spiritual condition, we remain active and ready to respond to His call upon our lives.
            Consider an athlete for example. Often times they know not when that BIG moment will arrive, but he or she must steadfastly prepare for that "such a time as this" moment. Are you daily preparing yourself for obedience? If not, one of two things will happen. 1) You will not hear the call. 2) You hear but do not have the courage to obey. God has a mighty plan for you! Prepare to respond to the call.
            Faithfulness and intimacy with the Father is the only way to ensure that you and I remain in a condition that is prepared to obey His voice when it is our time to be used. Consider Abraham as you analyze and ponder this subject. Because he pursued a relationship with God, he was willing to offer his son as a sacrifice. Abraham could have rationalized in a number of ways. First, this was his son! Who could possibly slay his own flesh and blood? Also, Isaac was the promised seed. Sacrificing him had to appear contrary to God’s plan. Despite these two intense factors, Abraham prepared his heart to obey the command of his Father.
            The question is not, “Will God speak?” The question is, will we obey?”
                                                           To order book, use link above