Friday, 16 November 2018

Joining our words with His heart

By Wendy Parker

It's a fact that when you're a writer, you fall in love with words. I’m reading the book of Psalms in The Passion Translation at the moment. They’re so filled with emotion and passion for God’s goodness and faithfulness, that I find myself re-reading the same lines over and over again. 

Take a line from Psalm 103, ‘You kissed my heart with forgiveness, in spite of all I’ve done.’ 
 Or, Psalm 26:3 ‘I will never lose sight of your love for me. Your faithfulness has steadied my steps.’ 
Or how about Psalm 111:9 ‘His forever-love paid a full ransom for his people so that now we’re free to come before Jehovah to worship his holy and awesome name!’

Believers who are joining their words with God’s heart. They are the poetry of Christ in all its fullness. Each Psalm points to Jesus and leads you to discover more about Him and His heart. 

The Gospel never changes, but the way in which the story of redemption is told should change so it stirs people’s hearts to want to respond to it. What worked five years ago probably won’t have the same impact today. 

Isaiah 43:19 is one of my favourite scriptures, ‘Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?’ God is always wanting to do something fresh and exciting, and as Christian writers we have been given the gift of words to trigger something inside each and every person who wants to discover more.  

Joining our words with His heart is the mirror that reflects His love from us onto other people. Something happens when we write with the help and power of the Holy Spirit. It’s like Heaven meets earth when we join our words with His. 

Every artist, musician and writer has the potential to change people’s view point of a God who relentlessly pursues them with His extravagant love by creating something unique and inspiring for people to stop and take notice.  

As writers, we need to listen and draw near to his heartbeat with an open mind and let His love fill our own hearts until it spills out onto the blank pages before us. 

So, if you think your writing doesn’t make a difference, it does. You’ll probably never know who it impacted until you get to heaven and someone hugs you tightly and whispers in your ear, “I’m here because of you. Thank you for joining your words with His heart.” 

Wendy xo      

If you loved this post and want to discover more about your identity in Christ, then click this link and check out Wendy's weekly blog posts right here:

Thursday, 15 November 2018

CALEB Award Review | SHE by Jen Gibbs

By Iola Goulton @iolagoulton

Omega Writers is a Christian writing group serving Australian, New Zealand, and South Pacific Christian Writers. They held their annual writing conference the last weekend on October, in Adelaide, South Australia.

One much-anticipated part of conference is the Saturday night award ceremony for the CALEB Award. CALEB stands for:

Christian Authors Lifting Each others' Books

Today I'm checking out the winner of the non-fiction award, SHE by Jen Gibbs (with a little help from Kara Isaac and Christine Dillon).

I bought SHE at the conference, and I have started reading it. The writing is excellent, and it's a great topic. However, it's not the light Christian romance I ususally read, and it's going to take a while to read.

The cover gives the impression of a memoir or self-help book based on personal experience. SHE is that, but it's so much more. It's also an in-depth Bible study, looking at women of the Bible, at how Jesus treated women, and examining the underlying Hebrew and Greek.

For example, Gibbs points out that they word for "noble" in that famous passage in Proverbs 31 is also used to describe Gideon (where it's translated as "mighty warrior") and King David (brave warrior). That places quite a different emphasis on our famous "woman of noble character", and I'm looking foward to digging deeper into SHE and finding similar nuggets.

Kara Isaac says:

Part biblical exploration, part personal narrative, Jen Gibbs has crafted a compelling look at women of the Bible, their context and what we can learn from them as we wrestle with living lives of faith, hop, and love in the 21st century. An exciting addition to an important conversation.

Christine Dillon says:

An easy, encouraging read for any women who might doubt that God really seems them as valuable and precious. A book full of delving into women of the Bible who showed faith, hope and love. Plenty of discussion questions for groups or individuals. Sprinkled throughout are stories from Jen’s experience and doubts she’s wrestled with. I loved it that she didn’t have to give answers but was willing to raise questions.

About SHE: A Journey of Faith, Hope & Love with Women of the Bible:

Faith, Hope and Love. We get it, right? They are important. But sometimes they feel so intangible. How are we supposed to relate? What do we do with our faith through suffering? Why is hope even included in the "top three"? What does extravagant love really look like?

In this book Jen dives deep into Faith, Hope and Love as revealed through the lives of some incredible women of the Bible. Their lives point us to the heart of God for women. Through them we see a God who cherishes, strengthens, commissions, commends, esteems and cannot help but love us!

You can read the introduction to SHE: A Journey of Faith, Hope & Love with Women of the Bible below:

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Experiencing History

Experiencing History by @CarolynMAuthor 

I never used to be a history buff. I didn't really study it in school, I only did one subject (in one year) at university. To be honest, my young and foolish self didn't really see the point.

Now, however...

As a writer of historical fiction I suppose it's inevitable that I pay closer attention to how history has shaped our world. I noticed this particularly on a recent family holiday as we spent time in the west coast of the USA: history is everywhere.

Our first day in Los Angeles was spent in Hollywood, where the stars and handprints of long-gone celebrities are etched into the pavement. That was nice, but the importance of history was brought home far more clearly when we visited the Huntington Library, where we saw a Gutenberg Bible (!) and a first Folio of Shakespeare (!) 

and a house filled with old and priceless artwork, ceramics and furnishings that made this Regency author’s heart beat faster. Then our trip along the coastal road to Big Sur and Monterey saw more stops at iconic – and old! - bridges and buildings, before we saw the amazing Yosemite National Park (established by Abraham Lincoln in the 1860s). The towering granite and ancient trees speak of God’s handiwork through millennia; some estimate some redwoods to be four thousand years old!

Our trip took us further north, where we have visited little towns like Eureka, where the beautiful Victorian-era buildings are topped by the eye-popping Carson mansion, built in 1885 by a millionaire who cared not for the conventions, saying words to the effect that “If I build it too plain they’ll say I’m a miser, if I build it too fancy they’ll say I’m showing off, so I might as well build it to please myself.” (Love it!)

Dinner that night was at the Samoa Cookhouse, another history-laden locale. This cookhouse, reputed to be the last cookhouse still serving in the ‘lumberjack-style’ of the 1800s, was a fabulous treasure trove of logging relics and photos from a bygone age. And the food was fabulous (and extremely generously portioned) too!

Writing historical fiction is always a fun blend of imagination, research and – when it allows – experience. As an Australian writing English Regency romance, my opportunity to ‘experience’ the life and times of lords and ladies of 200 years ago is pretty limited J, and means I’m often reliant on online journals and letters from that era to create a sense of authenticity. 

Trips like these don’t come very often, and I’ve been very conscious of God’s grace and largesse, allowing me (& my family) to experience such wonders of the world. 
I’m also very conscious that history is everywhere, with so much to absorb, if only we have eyes to see. 

How about you? Are you someone who notices history? What's a place of historical interest that's recently caught your attention?

Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has pastored a church for ten years, and worked part-time as a public high school English and Learning and Support teacher. 
A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her Regency novels include The Elusive Miss Ellison, The Captivating Lady Charlotte, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, Winning Miss Winthrop, and Miss Serena’s Secret, all available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, etc

Connect with her:       websitefacebookpinteresttwitterinstagram

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Tuesday Book Chat | 13 November 2018 | Iola Goulton

From Iola Goulton @iolagoulton

It's Iola here. Welcome to our ACW Tuesday Book Chat where we encourage book lovers to answer our bookish question of the week.

Today's question is: 

How many books have you read this year? How many do you think you'll read between now and the end of the year? Did you participate in a reading challenge? Will you achieve your reading goal?

Join in the conversation in a comment on this post or in a comment on the blog post shared in our Australasian Christian Writers Facebook Group. Or, if you're feeling wordy (like me), write a blog post and link to it in the comments.

Let's chat! 

Monday, 12 November 2018

November 2018 New Releases

By Jenny Blake | @ausjenny

The Making of Mrs Hale by Carolyn Miller (Kregel Publications, 27 November 2018) 

Can a runaway marriage be redeemed?
Marry in haste, repent in leisure—Mrs. Hale is about to find out how painful that repentance can truly be. Julia Hale ran off to be married in Gretna Green, following romance instead of common sense. 

But her tale isn't turning into a happily ever after. Her new husband is gone and she doesn't know where—or if he's ever coming back. Julia has no option but to head home to the family she betrayed by eloping and to hope they'll forgive her. 

Along the way she will learn how relationship with God can bring restoration and hope, and find the answers she needs both for her husband and her future.

Peter At The Cross by David Mulready (Anglican Press Australia, September 2018) 

Anglican Press Australia is delighted to announce the release of Peter at The Cross: An Eyewitness Tells All by David Mulready.

In these 40 daily devotions, David Mulready explores the historical events surrounding the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, mostly through the eyewitness accounts of the Apostle Peter.

These 40 daily reflections can be used for personal study as well as by groups, with the use of sets of discussion questions.

Eight sermon outlines are included which may be useful in the preparation of Bible talks.

David Mulready has served the Lord in parish ministry in the Dioceses of Sydney and Armidale, in rural and city parishes, and has worked with the Bush Church Aid Society in NSW. Since ‘retirement’, David and his wife Maureen attend St George’s Gerringong, in NSW. David is the author of four previous Lenten devotional books.


Stone of the Sea by Jeanette O'Hagan (By The Light Books , 31 October 2018) 

A desperate journey into the unknown
Food is scarce, the Glittering realms in chaos and solutions fast disappearing. Twins Delvina and Retza have always stood shoulder to shoulder. Will new challenges pull the twins apart? Will they, and their shapeshifter friend, Zadeki, find food before the people under the mountain starve?

Join Delvina, Retza and Zadeki as once again they must face their fears and rescue a realm. Stone of the Sea is the third novella in the Under the Mountain Series.

Amazon link


Friday, 9 November 2018

Rainbow equals an everlasting covenant

Keona Tann | @ACWriters

I’ve always felt there is something special about rainbows. I’m excited every time I see one in the sky. As a child I loved running through the sprinkler, especially if I caught a glimpse of a rainbow! I’d imagine myself getting caught up in the colours and becoming a beautiful mix of colour. I’d try and get my wet skin to shimmer and shine like the rainbow which I found I could sometimes achieve if I added some detergent.

For quite a few months I’ve been researching and contemplating the true meaning of a rainbow, I desperately want to know the hidden mystery that God has placed within the rainbow.

The Biblical origin of the rainbow is found in Genesis‬ ‭9:11-16 (‭NLT): “Yes, I am confirming my covenant with you. Never again will floodwaters kill all living creatures; never again will a flood destroy the earth.” Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.”‬‬‬‬‬‬

As I read I was reminded that the sign of the rainbow is a reminder for us and for God. The rainbow equals an everlasting covenant between God and humanity. It is a visible reminder that God is faithful to keep the promises that He has made.

As I researched more I came across a verse which gives us a wonderful glimpse into heaven: “The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones — like jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow.” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭4:3‬ ‭(NLT)‬‬‬‬‬‬

As I reflected upon that verse rainbows took on another dimension, they are a glimpse into the heavenly realm. I am fascinated by the colours of the rainbow and desired to know the meanings behind each one. It has been hard to research but this is what I’ve found so far:‬‬‬‬
Red: represents the blood of Jesus; power and love; and the Spirit of Revelation
Orange: fire of God; and the Spirit of wisdom
Yellow: God’s glory; and the Spirit of understanding
Green: new life; and the Spirit of Counsel
Blue: Holy Spirit; holiness; the heavenlies; and the Spirit of might
Indigo: covered by God; and the Spirit of knowledge
Purple: royalty; and the Spirit of the fear of the Lord (that is awe and adoration over His wonder and majesty)

As I faced more challenges, and feelings overwhelmed me, I sat down and poured my heart out to God:
Lord as I sit here struggling to take the next breath
As I sit here and wrestle with these feelings
A rainbow breaks in the sky, right in front of my eyes!
A rainbow, the oldest visible reminder around that Your promises are steadfast and true
A rainbow reminding me of Your unending grace; mercy; love; and redemption
A rainbow, the oldest covenant made
the rainbow equals an everlasting covenant
Lord, all of creation is sealed with Your covenant
The rainbow appears to remind all that Your glorious reign is set in place
A rainbow reminds me of Your throne in the heavenly realms
God, You do not lie for it's impossible for You to do so!
Therefore the promised breakthrough will come
Just as the rainbow shines to declare Your promise, I will shine bright and new
Your saving grace will be outworked in my life
You will not abandon me to this cloud of despair
You will not leave me wandering in this wasteland
You will not allow the storm to blow me off course
I declare afresh that I’m in Your hands
I declare afresh God is with me!

I pray that today you’re encouraged to hold fast to the promises God has given you and inspired to declare that His promises are steadfast and true.

“So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:35-36‬ (‭NLT)‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
Many blessings, Keona

About Keona:

I’ve lived most of my life in Tasmania, which is one of the beautiful Australian states. Deliriously happily married to my college sweetheart for over 20 years, we consider ourselves extremely blessed to be raising 2 wonderful teenagers. Hubby and I have also been long time child sponsors with Compassion so we have overseas kids!

I struggled with illness and disease for most of my life. The biggest battles were: endometriosis for 28 years and adrenal/chronic fatigue which was severe for 28 months. In September 2016 healing was declared over my life, praise God, this set me on a path of deep inner healing, restoration and transformation. My passion to write was reignited and I wrote out a mission statement:

“He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.” Psalm 40:3 (NLT)

I desire to impact the world through the words I share. I long to enrich, empower and encourage others whilst delivering my stories with empathy and understanding.

In my new-found boldness I’ve started a weekly blog which you can find at:

Many Blessings, Keona

Thursday, 8 November 2018

CALEB Award Review | The Elusive Miss Ellison by Carolyn Miller

Review by Iola Goulton @iolagoulton

Omega Writers is a Christian writing group serving Australian, New Zealand, and South Pacific Christian Writers. They held their annual writing conference the last weekend on October, in Adelaide, South Australia (and you can read my recap post here).

One much-anticipated part of conference is the Saturday night award ceremony for the CALEB Award. CALEB stands for:

Christian Authors Lifting Each others' Books

This year, there were four categories for the CALEB Award:

  • Published Fiction (romance or romantic elements)
  • Published Non-Fiction
  • Published Children's Fiction
  • Unpublished Young Adult Fiction

The winners were:

Over the next few weeks, we're going to be reviewing the three winning books as well as more recent releases from these three wonderful ladies.

Andrea Grigg has previously reviewed The Elusive Miss Ellison here at Australasian Christian Writers, and you can click here to read her review.

And here's my review (previously published at Iola's Christian Reads).

The Elusive Miss Ellison is everything a good Regency romance should be: it’s consistent with the writings of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, and features plenty of wit and sparkle in the dialogue, especially that of the titular Miss Lavinnia Ellison. She reminds me of a combination of Austen and Heyer heroines, and there is a definite nod to the BBCs Ehle/Firth version of Pride and Prejudice in terms of the characters.

The plot isn’t P&P (thankfully), but again has echoes of Austen. 

The big difference (improvement) is that The Elusive Miss Ellison is clearly Christian fiction: Livvie is a minister’s daughter with a real faith in God, and unwilling to be romantically involved with any man who doesn’t share her faith. Especially not the man she holds responsible for the death of her beloved mother, and who appears to hold too little regard for the wellbeing of his tenants.

Nicholas obviously has his own personal and faith journey, and I think his is the stronger story—he’s the one with the obvious character faults which need to be changed through the influence of a good woman. And perhaps her love as well ...

I’m a big Regency romance fan, so very much enjoyed the authentic Regency voice and attention to detail. Some of the writing was a little shaky, and the pacing was somewhat uneven. Parts of the novel sparkled with wit, but others felt as though the sparkle had been scrubbed out.

I’ll be keen to read the sequel, The Captivating Lady Charlotte (love the title!). Recommended for fans of Christian Regency romance.

Update: Carolyn now has six novels published, and I've read them all. She gets better with each one.

Thanks to Kregel and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

You can read the introduction to The Elusive Miss Ellison below: