Wednesday, March 27, 2013

MEET THE ARTIST, Courtney Young

By Molly Noble Bull

Some years ago, I wrote a series of Bible stories in rhyme for children titled God's Favorite Family. But I was never able to find an artist to do the illustrations. Now I have. I would like to introduce Courtney Young.
Courtney and her family have lived in South Texas where I live for five generations. Her late grandfather was the pastor of a church for forty years.
Currently, Courtney is attending McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas. She did the cartoon illustrations for all the little books in the God's Favorite Family series, and there will be at least twelve books—maybe more. Helping Hands Press will be publishing the little e-book, and I will be telling more about the books in the days and months to come. But since this is Holy Week, we thought it might be a good time to show one of Courtney's drawings. 
Her drawing of the Crucifixion will not appear in Book 1 of the series. However, it will appear in one of the later books. 
Take a look, and if you would like to encourage a young Christian artist, please leave a comment.  

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believe in him will not perish but have everlasting life. 
John 3:16

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Am I Religious Or Not: And the inconsistency of words

As a writer, I know the importance of words. If I don’t choose just the right one in a sentence, the meaning can fall flat and useless to the reader. dictionary

However, the problem with some words is that they may have: more than one meaning; a different meaning to different groups …


… that word may be in the midst of cataclysmic transformation and I am just not hip to the change.


So describes the problem I currently have with the word “religion” and its—evidently wickedstep-sister, “religious.”

According to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, religion is defined as: A service and worship of God or the supernatural; Commitment or devotion of religious faith or observance. Religious is defined as: Relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity.

Being that I have a great desire to reverence the God of the Bible, I’m thinkin’ I’m religious.

gaspAll right, this dictionary was published in 1990, but I hadn’t realized how outdated it was until my descriptions of myself—as religious—met with gasps, and well-known Christian speakers and writers were eschewing the term as distasteful.

What am I missing here?

If we go by the above-mentioned definitions, these terms do not describe the essence of who I am as a Christian, only that my faith is important to me. By itself, it could also describe a Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or Wiccan. At the worst, the term is vague—so sue me! I had no desire to suggest I wasn’t the wretched sinner I am. I only meant to begin a discussion in a way the average person could understand.

However, I’ve since discovered, some Christians use a new definition of the word religion. It now includes the idea that religion requires its members to follow a set of rules in order to attain righteousness. It seems to have been an acquiescence  to the way non-believers have used the word as an insult to those who seek to live within a certain standard (notice I said seek to).

“Oh, you’re religious, aren’t you?” they hurl with a sneer. One can assume the hurler is being defensive in the event the religious person’s standard might be used as a weapon of judgment. And, unfortunately, it might be …

Or …

… it might not. It cannot be assumed by the word alone.

However, though adherence to law for righteousness was not mentioned as a must in my decades-old Webster, I now know why my use of the term met with 1) gasps, 2) plodding away in haste, and 3) fingers made into crosses displayed before me. But—gee whiz!—I didn’t mean to offend anyone, or suggest I was better than they!!!

I am comforted to know, at least, that C.S. Lewis, in his greatest work, Mere Christianity, also pointed out the inconsistency of words, and the role it played in matters of faith. He begins this iconic work describing how the word, Christian, is defined differently among various groups of believers. He likens it to the word gentleman—which once meant land-owner, but now describes a man who is well-behaved—and how the perversion of the term will eventually lead to its uselessness. Thus, the need to define what is, in his words, Mere CCB060658hristianity.

So, why do I have my yoga pants in a bunch? Because my fear is the new aversion to this word could lead to the very thing it was meant to guard against—self-righteousness.

The new definition of religion (and thusly, religious) was created to distinguish Christianity—being saved by Grace—with religions where zealots earn righteousness through works. It is meant to communicate to those who are quick to see Christians as judgmental, that we are really (supposed to be) humble in our sinfulness, knowing we can only be saved through Christ.

However, the continual correcting of the use of the word can promote another kind of self-righteousness—an I’m-a-more-relevant-Christian-than-you-are self-righteousness—creating further division where no more is needed.

Now we have the old-lingo Christians in this corner, the new-lingo ones in that. And way off to the side, are those who just strive to honor God with their lives without regard to lingo whatsoever.

I’m hangin’ with those folks.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need to distinguish my faith with those requiring works. In fact, the people who’ve stressed this new definition surpass me in evangelism, knowledge and wisdom by far. Who am I to correct them? I don’t mean to put this idea down. It can be useful in elucidating the fine points of what makes Christianity unique. However, I caution you, do not use it in ways that may shut down a conversation with a person you just made feel stupid, because someone decided to refine the definitions without alerting the general population.

So, to answer the original question of “am I religious or not?” I really don’t know. I guess it would depend on who you ask and maybe even, when you ask it.

Don’t you just love words? Sometimes actions really do speak louder.


headshot1Connie is a 2012 Genesis semi-finalist for Women’s Fiction. She was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Winter 2012 WOW Flash Fiction Contest for her entry, Why Not to Kiss on a Park Bench (aka. Harold and Violet). Come visit her on one of her other blogs:

Living the Body of Christ

Friday, March 22, 2013

Is your One-Sheet prize ready?

It’s that time of year again when a young girl’s fancies turn to writers’ conferences. There are lots of them out there. Even before you choose which one is right for you, you need to prepare a one-sheet. Besides a tough skin, it's the most important thing to take with you. What’s a one-sheet, you ask? It’s you breaking your brilliant, 80K word manuscript down to one simple page that will grab the attention of prospective editors and agents. All authors know creating a synopsis or proposal about your book is a million times harder than actually writing the book. But it’s incredibly important. And intimidating. So intimidating many writers never do it. Here’s your inspiration. Mile High Scribes, the South Denver Chapter of ACFW, is hosting ourUse your creativity to develop a one-sheet that communicates the heart of your story, and you will be eligible to win a paid registration to Novel Crafters Seminar of the Rockies with Jerry B. Jenkins on November 9, 2013, or a 30-page edit! Nick Harrison, Senior Editor of Harvest House will choose the winner. 4th Annual One-Sheet Contest.The contest is open to all fiction writers. For more information including rules and guidelines visit ACFW Colorado. Entry deadline is April 19th. If you have any questions, email Teresa Slack’s latest novel Runaway Heart is now available as an e-book download. Read Heart Burn, the first installment of her short story collection, True Stories Celebrating Love & Family. Teresa’s novels have won awards, endeared readers to her down-to-earth characters, and done lots of other interesting stuff. Check out her website or her author page on FaceBook.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


by Molly Noble Bull 

We all like scary books and movies. Well, let me rephrase that. Some like scary books and movies, and when I was a teenager, I liked nothing better than watching an old black and white werewolf or vampire movie. From these movies, I also learned some very unimportant facts.
To kill a werewolf, you need a silver bullet. However, it takes a wooden stake to the heart to kill a vampire, and vampires hate mirrors because their reflections will not show up in mirrors. With this false information, I expected to fight evil wherever I found it.
It didn’t happen.
Enters Salvation by Grace through Jesus Christ.
Yep, I was saved. 
Footnote: Satan (also called the devil or Lucifer) never bothered me before I was saved. He had me. After I became a child of God, I became his enemy, and at first, I didn’t know how to fight against him. And silver bullets and wooden stakes sure didn’t work. I soon learned that to fight Satan, I needed something that did work. Then I discovered spiritual warfare, and I learned that fear was the opposite of faith.
The Webster Illustrated Contemporary Dictionary describes fear as [And emotion excited by danger, evil or pain: apprehension or dread.] Same dictionaries describes faith as [belief without evidence. Confidence; trust. Belief in God, the Bible, etc.] 
I was a fiction writer practically from birth. My mother wrote down some of the preschool poems I dictated to her when I was too young to attend school. In a nutshell, I often explain things best in a fiction format.
Enters “Brush Country,” my newest short story.
I hope everybody will read “Brush Country,” a thirty-something page short story set in the old west. In it, I tell the story of a young woman on her wedding day, a young woman soaked in fear, and how she overcomes—how she moves from Fear to Faith in Jesus Christ in one long morning that could have ended in death.
Overcoming fear and replacing it with faith reaps great rewards. It means following the Lord when your mind tells you God’s way won’t work. It means believing what is written in the Bible instead of listening to the errors of mankind.
Fear is a spirit, and God didn’t give us a spirit of fear.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7
So if God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, who are we listening to when we are afraid?
I’ll give you a hint. The guy’s name begins with either an S or a D or sometimes an L.
I think you’ve heard of the bad guy I mean.
"Brush Country," my e-book-short story, is available right not at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online bookstores, and it sells for only 99 cents a download. I hope all of you will buy it.

However, the first forty people that leave a comment at the end of this article that includes an e-mail address will receive a free download of Brush Country as an e-book. This offer applies to Kindle only. To find all my books and stories, write Molly Noble Bull in the search slot at all online and walk-in bookstores. 

You've read Fear vs. Faith. Now scroll down and read Wants vs. Needs.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


by Molly Noble Bull

            I was once a shopaholic.
            Yep, it’s true. I found nothing more exciting than going in stores to see what was new, and I thought “just looking” was so much fun. Trouble was, I kept buying things I hadn’t planned to buy when I “went looking” and our bank account suffered as a result.
            Just looking can be a lonely business unless you take a friend along to look with you. However, I had a hard time getting my friend, Mary, to go with me. She asked things like—why would I want to go shopping unless there are things my family and I need? 
            I’d never thought of shopping or balancing my checkbook as a matter of wants and needs. But suddenly, I wondered. Was Mary right? Was there a difference? 
            The Lord’s Prayer says, give us this day our daily bread. But it doesn’t say a word about daily cupcakes, candy, cookies or pie. Ice cream? Nope. What about magazines and shock newspapers at the check out counter of the grocery store? Nope again.  
            I decided to make a list of things we really needed. My partial list is below.
Money for:
.   Rent or house payment
.   Food (daily bread)
.   Car payment 
.   Gasoline and car repair
.   Utilities
.   Doctor bills
Clothing is needed too but should be purchased only after much thought.
            All at once I realized I needed to put another item at the top of my list, an item that made my budget actually work. Can you guess what that missing item is? I will give you a hint. It begins with the letter T.
Yep. T stands for tithe as in giving to the Lord. Here is my new list.
.   Tithe
.   Rent or house payment
.   Food (daily bread)
.   Car payment 
.   Gasoline and car repair
.   Utilities
.   Doctor bills
Clothing is needed too but should be purchased only after much thought.
I discovered that in order for my budget to balance, I had to give to the Lord monthly. Yet with Grace, I didn’t have to give God anything. So let me change “had to” to wanted to. As a Christian, I wanted to please God. I wanted to give to His mission to go to all the world and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As a result of tithing, I learned to pick and choose when I went shopping, sorting my purchases into wants and needs. Now I try to buy things on my needs list first. Then if there is money left, sometimes I also buy some wants.


Friday, March 8, 2013

To Reverence My God

If you can’t see the imbed below, click on this link to hear Lamb of God by Tenth Avenue North.
There’s nothing like being with a body of believers, throwing my hands to the heavens and praising my Creator. However, sometimes a child of God needs to speak to Him alone, in holy reverence. That’s what this song reminds me to do.

When I was young, I went to churches that taught written-out prayers to speak to God. We were expected to memorize these and say them over and over again in our alone time with Him. Some of them are beautiful blueprints of how one should address a holy God. But now and again I felt the need to throw in a little discourse of my own with the Big Guy. He is my Father, after all.

But was that right?

Later, I met Christians who told me Our God was an approachable God, and His Son, Jesus was “God with us.” We could have conversations with Him like a friend throughout the day, not only on bended knee with closed lids. I loved this idea, because now I could pray in my car on long commutes—not convenient while kneeling, and kinda dangerous with your eyes shut.

So, I ventured into this new relationship with God, relishing the Oneness I felt in all my travels. I wasn’t required to kneel. So I didn’t.


I’m in a different place these days.

You see, those who taught me of a relatable God also taught me about the God of the Bible. They said I could know Him better by reading His Word. So I did. What did I find out? He is good, He is holy, He is worthy. He is beyond anything I could imagine Him to be. And He loves me.

I found that when the great ones in the Bible were faced with just an angel of the Lord, they were moved to the point of falling on their faces in this presence. The disciples trembled when Jesus quieted the wind and the waves, knowing Him to be more powerful than the storm. And yet, I resist to bow to this God who I treat as a friend.

No more!

He is holy. He is worthy. He is the Lamb of God. He created me, He provides for me and He even died for me. He deserves my reverence. He deserves my love.

He deserves my all.

I still don’t pray on my knees—lids shading my eyes from all other distractions—because I’m required to. I now do these things because I want to. I am in awe and my spirit aches to reverence Him. I am blessed to spend this time with my Creator every day.

Thank you Lord!

P.S. You’ll be relieved to know that though I spend my mornings in bodily reverence, my “conversations” in the car are still with opened eyes and feet to the pedals.


Connie is a 2012 Genesis semi-finalist for Women’s Fiction. She was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Winter 2012 WOW Flash Fiction Contest for her entry, Why Not to Kiss on a Park Bench (aka. Harold and Violet). Come visit her on one of her other blogs: Living the Body of Christ

Sunday, March 3, 2013

What Do Sin and Weight Gain Have in Common?

by Teresa Slack

So I earned this amazing trip to Charleston, SC through my Scentsy business. I’m super excited and totally looking forward to the trip. Problem is it’s next month, and I can’t fit into my cute summer clothes from last year. I have this adorable little black dress that will be perfect for our last night extravaganza. Right now, it fits me like a feed sack. (In case you’re unfamiliar with feed sacks, suffice it to say, they are not figure flattering.)

I’ve begun a rigorous exercise and weight loss program. Well, not too rigorous, but I’m determined to get into that dress.

Anyway, on the way to church this morning my husband commented about someone we knew who had fallen away from the church. My husband wondered how it could happen “all of the sudden”.

I reminded him it’s never all of a sudden. Sin is sneaky. It creeps up on us like a thief in the night. Much like weight gain. I didn’t intend to eat too much all winter. I didn’t mean for my slacks to no longer zip all the way up my stomach. It was a gradual process exacerbated by foregoing my workout routine too many times and eating that extra cookie. By drinking Pepsi when I should’ve chosen water. By going through the drive-through instead of coming home and cooking something without all the processed fat.

I ignored the signs and let the situation get out of hand. Now I’m paying the price. Many of us don’t see when we’re falling away from God. We think everything’s fine even though we don’t pray as much as we used to or spend as much time in His Word or feel that little prick of conviction when a coworker tells a dirty joke and we don't walk away.

The mirror won’t tell us our spiritual health is in danger. At least not the one hanging in the bathroom. Our spiritual mirror is God’s word. Do you need to take a good hard look in that mirror to determine if there’s something amiss with your spiritual health?

All of us should do this on a regular basis. Just like with our physical health, we need to stay on track, get our "checkups", pay attention to the signs, and not be blindsided “all of the sudden” after sin has gained a stronghold in our lives.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Eight Days of WHAT IF?

A Devotional 

.   Day one:
What If?
What if we thanked and praised the Lord for all our blessings and  blessed our enemies as the Bible says to do? What if we prayed for the Peace of Jerusalem and for the President of the United States and all in authority?

.  Day two:
What If? 
What if we not only prayed for the President of the United States and all in authority, we also prayed that they and their loved ones might be saved?

.   Day three:
What If?
What if we repented of all our sins? And what if we promised not to sin again and really meant it? 

.   Day four: 
What If?
What if we forgave others and prayed for their souls? 

.   Day five:
What If?
What if we read the Bible carefully, believed it, and truly tried to do the things God suggested we do via the Bible?  

.   Day six:
What If?
What if we became doers of the word and not hearers only?

.   Day seven:
What If?
What if every morning and every night we put on the whole armor of God? What if maybe we touched our waists and said something like, "I put on the Belt of Truth in the name of Jesus." What if we touched our chests and said, "I put on the Breastplate of Righteousness?" What if next we touched or pointed to our feet and said, "I put on the shoes that with take me to preach the Gospel of Peace? What if we held up a shield we cannot see with our eyes and said, "I take up the Shield of Faith," and then we touched our heads and said, "I put on the Helmet of Salvation?" And finally what if we pointed our forefingers and said, "I take up the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God in the name of Jesus?" 
What if? What If? 

.   Day eight:
What if?
What if we did all the things we have discussed these eight days, and we did them every day? And what if God heard from Heaven and healed our land? 
Do you have a What If? If so, we want to hear it. Please leave your What If as a comment.