Inspiring After-Effects

“[Moses] persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.”
Hebrews 11:27 (NIV)

Have you ever been exasperated and felt ready to quit? That’s how Moses felt when he found out the Israelites had been worshiping a golden calf while he was on a mountain, talking with God. The legendary leader was so angry, he threw the stone tablets upon which were written the Ten Commandments, smashing them to pieces at the base of Mount Sinai.

Moses was exhausted and frustrated by the burden of leading God’s people and he was hungry for a deeper understanding of God’s power and goodness. In Exodus 33:18, Moses boldly asked the Lord, “Now show me your glory.” In other words, Moses desired to know God more fully. He wanted to experience more of God’s presence than he had ever encountered before. God graciously granted His passionate servant’s request. He said,

”There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back, but my face must not been seen” (Exodus 33:21-23).

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I’d like to suggest that God’s phrasing actually illustrates the way we see His active presence manifested today. We don’t see God’s glorious presence revealed before He acts. Just as Moses only was allowed to see God’s back, we only see the after-effects of His glory.

You don’t see Him thundering down from heaven before you get the cancer diagnosis. You see the after-effects of His glory when you come through the treatments and hear the words “cancer free.” You don’t see the light of His presence shining in your daughter’s dorm room as you fearfully pray for God to somehow supply the funds for her college education. You see the after-effects of His glory as she walks across a stage sporting her cap and gown and receives her diploma.

God’s involvement in your writing journey may not be evident to you for years. There may be times your efforts seem fruitless. But you recognize the after-effects of God’s active presence, guiding you and stretching you and providing for you, as you open a box filled with the author copies of your first published book. You don’t see God’s active presence heading in your direction; you see “His back,” the after-effects of our Lord’s extraordinary glory.

When you feel frustrated and want to quit, ask God to show you His glory, as Moses did. Ask Him to make His active presence more real to you. Then be sure to share the after-effects of His glory with fellow followers of Christ. It is glimpses of His awe-inspiring glory that enable us to persevere as Moses did and fulfill our God-given purposes during our time on this earth.

Let’s encourage one another to persevere through whatever struggles we are facing today. What after-effects of our Lord’s active presence are evident in your life?

Adapted from Mindy Ferguson’s new study: Eyewitness to Glory: Moses, Discerning God’s Active Presence (Chattanooga, TN; AMG Publishers, 2014),129.

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The Value of Advisors

The role advisors have in our writing, our ministries, and our spiritual growth is invaluable.

Proverbs 15:22 tells us: Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed. (NIV)

We set ourselves up for success when we surround ourselves with wise people who have our best interests at heart, cheer us on in worthwhile pursuits, and are willing to tell us what we need to hear. But we have to be open to critical input as well as encouragement if we truly want to develop our writing, be effective in ministry, and experience long term spiritual health.

Writing
Are you open to input or do you become defensive when your editor asks you to make changes to your manuscript? Just this past week I talked with my editor about my newest Bible study, Eyewitness to Glory: Moses, scheduled to be released this summer. We have a great working relationship. He said the writing was clean and the content was good. I was thrilled. But he also mentioned one particular lesson that he thought could be worded better and explained his concern about how it might be misinterpreted. I was grateful for his candor and told him I would look at his comments and re-work the lesson. In addition, he also mentioned a punctuation error I consistently made throughout the manuscript. How embarrassing! This will be my forth published book and I should know better. I am anxious to get the edited manuscript to see my error so I don’t make the same mistake next time. I also plan to run my manuscript by another writer next time, prior to turning it in to my publisher.

We are all growing and when we remain open to input from experienced writers and editors, our manuscripts will be richer and we will become better at our craft.

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Ministry
As Christian writers, we are all in ministry. In Michael D. Miller’s Bible study, Keeping Your Heart for Ministry, Miller says:

“You are on dangerous ground when you construct barriers to prevent others from confronting you with truth. The leader who desires to keep his or her heart for ministry will be open to question or challenge, realizing that ‘iron sharpens iron’. God graciously provides good counsel to help us continue growing through our Christian experience.” (Keeping Your Heart for Ministry, Lifeway Press, 2001)

In order to broaden your perspective and reach more people through your ministry, consider creating a group of advisors. It is easy to develop blind spots along your ministry journey. By choosing wise, spiritually mature advisors who are available for questions (and will give you honest answers), you will enhance the effectiveness of your ministry.

Spiritual Health
As Christian writers, it is important to be connected to other believers and, in my opinion, there is no better (or more biblical) place to do so than in your local church. If you are a believer in Jesus, you are part of the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:27 says: Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (NIV)

It is in the context of a local church body that we find accountability to “spur us on to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). In our local church we learn to encourage one another, to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18), practice forgiveness, and learn to love one another deeply, as our Lord loves us. Being connected to a church body is important for our long term spiritual health.

My writing friend, “I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” (3 John 2 ESV).

Let’s ask God to give us teachable spirits and to help us be open to critical input as well as encouragement. Consider creating a group of advisors to give you honest feedback in your writing and your ministry. And if you aren’t currently involved in a local body of believers, ask God to lead you to the right church; a safe place where you can grow, serve, love, and be loved.

What advisors are you thankful for today?