Sunday Devotion- Novel Journey

Janet Rubin

I’ve always liked the name of this blog: Novel Journey. It’s about the journey of a writer, the journey to publication and beyond. And it is a “novel” journey, isn’t it, this writing trip? Let’s see what Webster says about the word, “novel.”

1 : new and not resembling something formerly known or used
2 : original or striking especially in conception or style

Wow, those definitions sure define what we’re always trying to do when writing: find something new, something that hasn’t been done, something original that’ll make an editor sit up and take notice. Really though, the writing journey isn’t so very novel. Men and women have been writing ever since there was language, and from Homer to Shakespeare to Dickens to us here today, we’ve all been trying to do something new with paper and pen. When we think of giving up, when we cry over a rejection, when we suffer writer’s block… we’re certainly not the first to do so! Still, it’s a crazy ride, full of ups and downs, failures and successes, despair and hope, criticism and growth.

What is truly a novel journey is the journey one embarks upon when deciding to follow Jesus. When Jesus came on the scene on planet earth, He truly did something novel. He preached with authority, unraveling the mysteries of the kingdom in a way noone expected. He established the kingdom, not by taking a throne, but by dying on a cross. He introduced the incredible, life-saving concept of grace to a people who only understood (with a limited understanding) the law and sacrifice. Grace. A God who sacrifices himself to save his people. Revolutionary!

When we follow Jesus, we are truly doing something new. Not only that, we become something new ourselves! New creatures, wearing clean, white robes, with clean slates…
I’m so glad to be trekking along with all of you on this novel journey. Blessings on your week!

2nd Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Sunday Devotion-Beyond the label

Janet Rubin

Last month on Earth Day, I purchased a whole bunch of those reusable canvas grocery bags at my grocery store. I promptly came home, took a picture of them, and posted the picture on my blog, announcing proudly that I was doing my part to save the planet. The next week, when filling out a scholarship application, I had to answer a question about whether or not I thought it was important to be environmentally responsible and why. I wrote my mini-essay with passion and not feeling the least bit hypocritical- I mean hey, I was the proud owner of reusable canvas grocery bags after all, wasn’t I?

So, a month has passed. I’ve gone shopping quite a few times. The thing is…I haven’t used those fancy bags even once. I keep forgetting to bring the things with me! So on I go, contributing to the plastic-problem. Some environmentalist I am. Al Gore would be dissapointed in me.

It’s easy to slap on a label. It’s harder to live the life. Most of us hanging out at Novel Journey call ourselves writers. I tell people all the time, “I’m a writer.” But the truth of the matter is, I really don’t spend much time writing. Not seriously writing anyway. Sure we go through dry spells, periods of writer’s block, hectic times when other things are a priority. But in order to truthfully say, “I’m a writer,” there should be, over time, some sort of consistent writing going on in our lives.

My most important title is Christian. Lots of people call themselves Christians, but then rarely think of God or His leadership in their lives. Me too at times.

What good are earth-friendly grocery bags left at home? How does a writer who never writes anything share his or her gift with the world? And what good is a Christian whose label is nothing more than… a label?

James 1: 26-27 Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world. [The Message]
Lord, We sure need your help. I’m so glad you aren’t a God who’s just a talker. You didn’t just say you loved us; you showed us- coming to earth in the form of Jesus, dying on a cross, saving us from sin and death. You walked the walk. Please help me to live authentically, to choose my labels carefully and take them seriously. You know I can’t do it alone. And thank you for grace, which forgives me for wasting plastic bags and checking email more than I write, and forgetting You between Sundays. But I want to do better. Please help. Amen.

Sunday Devotion-Christa Allan

Christa Allan

God spoke to me this morning. Okay, not in one of those Charleton Heston burning bush in the middle of Paramount (or whatever) Studio kind of ways or my phone ringing with an unidentified caller ID. No, it was during my morning Bible study that I experienced one of those “aha” moments that could only be defined as God speaking to and through me because I’m just not that dern smart.
I woke up school-day early for a Saturday because Ken was leaving for an out-of-town-semi-business trip, and I wanted to be conscious when he kissed me good-bye. He increased the odds of that by bringing me a cup of coffee before I was fully vertical; you gotta love that man!
Anyway, after he left and after one of the cats threw up three times on the newly cleaned wood floors (I know, TMI), I snuggled into my reading corner with a fresh cup of coffee and my new Women’s Devotional Bible .
This morning’s devotional was Philippians 1-4 and, in my reading, I’m stuck on this line about how–if I think differently from what I should be thinking, “…that too God will make clear…” to me. So, why that seemed so profound to me, I’m not sure. But, I felt reassured that God is busy fashioning just the lenses I need for my short-sightedness, and He’s not going to let me wallow in my own stupidity. Of course, my brain knows He’s God, and He knows that I know that He knows , but this morning it just felt so much more clear in my heart.
Anyway–that’s not even the epiphany. What happened next was such a moment of clarity that it was as if God had angels on instant FedEx deliver a new pair of glasses. Paul talks about God transforming our lowly bodies so that they’ll be like His glorious body (3:21), and I’m about to giggle thinking what a joy it will be to see my thighs transformed (assuming God is not built like JLo), when–SMACK–OUCH–WOW.
What if, Christa, you spent all the time, money, and energy on your spiritual body as you did on your physical body?
Time spent exercising, thinking about exercising, money spent on food and dieting and books about food and dieting, and energy spent on hair and nails, and then there’s that whole cooking thing to feed the body, and do I really need to mention all the clothes issues?
How much of my life do I devote to a physical body, not even counting the emotional angst? God looks at me and sees Calista Flockhart or pre-mommy days Nicole Ritchie, shakes His head and wonders why I continue to ignore all that good spiritual food He makes available for me–and catch this–free.
If Bible study’s my appetizer, then heaven’s going to be the best cheesecake ever.

Sunday Devotion-Mother’s Day

Janet Rubin

Mother’s Day. Sure, it’s probably just a scheme devised by Hallmark and the florists to make millions. But it is nice to have a day to honor the moms. However, it’s a day of pain for many: those who want to be mothers, but aren’t; those who grew up without a mother; those who grew up with a mother who mistreated them; those whose relationships with their mothers are full of bitterness and conflict; those who’ve lost children; those wounded by abortion; single moms struggling through life; moms of prodigals…. The list goes on. And it can be hard to go to church and listen to another sermon about Eunice or Hannah or the dreaded Proverbs 31 woman. Even those of us who do have children can come home feeling like failures- discouraged, not good enough.

I just wanted to remind you today that God has not only a father-heart, but also a mother-heart. He is nurturing and tender, willing to scoop his children onto his lap and comfort them. He wishes to shelter us and kiss our boo boos. He sees every wounded heart and inadequate relationship. He longs to fill the holes in our hearts. And he loves us JUST THE WAY WE ARE, mistakes and all. I’m putting in some of my favorite verses that capture the mother-heart of God. Be blessed! Happy Mother’s Day

Lord, Thank You for being a loving and tender God. You are both father and mother, lover and best friend. Please minister in a special way to every woman who visits Novel Journey today. Let her know she is loved and precious to you and that you long to gather her to you and simply love her. Amen

Isaiah 66:12-13 God’s Message:
“I’ll pour robust well-being into her like a river, the glory of nations like a river in flood.You’ll nurse at her breasts, nestle in her bosom, and be bounced on her knees.As a mother comforts her child, so I’ll comfort you. You will be comforted in Jerusalem.” [The Message]

Psalm 27:10 When my father and my mother forsake me,Then the LORD will take care of me. [NKJV]

Matthew 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! [NKJV]

Isaiah 40:11 He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young. [NKJV]