Monday, 19 May 2014

My Writing Process #2.

Mary and I with 2 grandchildren
and 3 books.
by Ray Hawkins

Last week I shared a little on the discipline which I needed to write. This time I was asked what motivated me to write what I write. To be honest I’m very conservative in my theology and strongly convinced about the inspiration and relevance of Scripture. So I need to share my conscious, sub-conscious and unconscious convictions which undergird and influence my writing.

What makes Devotional writing Christian? The following definitions explain the framework in which my thinking takes place on this subject.
Christian = being in agreement with, honouring too and possessed by Jesus Christ and His Scriptures. Outside of that definition the writing may be moral or wear the Denominational imprimatur it will undoubtedly be helpful. However that doesn’t necessarily mean it is a Christian Devotional.

Devotion = Charam. This Hebrew word is an important religious expression. It speaks of something chosen for destruction or sacred use. It is specifically given to God. Eg. Jericho in Joshua 6. How can you give something to God? It must either be offered as a sacrifice or placed into the hands and keeping of His servants. They in turn must use it as directed for His purposes and glory.

How can a person devoted to God the Father?
We undergo a ‘death experience’ in the spiritual realm, initiated by faith in Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice. According to, Galatians 2:20 Romans 6 believers shared in His death, burial and resurrection. Therefore, we have had our old nature put to death and have been made alive by the power and grace of Christ Jesus. Part of our new life means we have been set apart for special purposes (sanctified). Being writers, that means being ‘devoted’ encompasses our writing. In the N.T. only one word is translated as ‘devotion.’ In the KJV it is ‘sebasma’ and means the object of worship (Acts 17:23). Therefore, when we write ‘devotionals’, it is an expression of our worship!

Could we say therefore that Christian writing needs to bear the marks of ‘death?’ That is, our writing is a sacrificial offering to the Lord God, a fragrant offering. Such writing is our subconscious attitude of the heart colouring the mind to frame words so that others are blest and our Lord honoured.

I first began writing devotional material for my local church paper. I didn’t have any idea of writing a book of devotions. The articles were short and parochial, but they were God honouring and Bible saturated. Not merely quoting verses but drawing out their word pictures and purposes. Then the opportunity came to send a submission to Upper Room which was accepted. Over the years others followed. I guess in an unconscious way these and some other opportunities refined, sharpened and prepared me for the discipline of writing Devotional books.

As a preacher I like presenting expository sermons in series form. Looking back I guess it was a natural way for me to go in considering a devotional book. It had to be a series. The book had to grounded in and flavoured by what God’s word said on the subject matter. So, when I was challenged by Mary Ellen Hawkins to create words for a devotional book, two things came into play. Both were strong passions. What passionate themes do I have? Plenty! What to choose. Being a new grandad made that an easy choice. ‘Children: God’s Special Interest’ was born. I also settled on 31 days as the length. Could be boring to others to do it any longer! Being deliriously happily married for nigh on 50 years made the next one a must. ‘From Eden with Love’ sought to make God’s purpose in marriage clear, from Bible passages. Because of the confusion within society today on this subject this book puts the Christian view of marriage simply, clearly and spiritually.


Book signing
My publisher, ‘Even Before Publishing’ (now Rhiza publishing, a division of Wombat books) allowed me to put four other 31 day Devotionals together. Bethlehem Warrior Baby; Captured by Calvary; Dynamic Ageing and Signposts to Happiness. Each book closes with a poem on the theme (does that make it 32 days?) Hopefully, what I’ve shared provides a glimpse into my way of and motivation for writing. Are there still passions needing to be ‘birthed’? Yes! Will they be enclosed in an attractive cover? Time will tell. However, could I leave the following challenge:

Your generation needs you to speak to its heart and help them handle their struggles with the freshness of Christ in and through you. You need to develop your skill, style and presentation and let it loose. This isn’t easy. It can be disheartening. If you have a fire in your spirit, keep it fuelled by conviction and endeavour. Such fuel is ‘pumped in’ to your being through prayer, ‘feeding’ your spirit from God’s word, like minded fellowship and worship. Taking your writing seriously will mean you by-pass pious phrases and mere interesting anecdotes. You will choose to confront your readers by life enriching, life changing, life nourishing and life challenging insights. These will be of more lasting value than mere warm fuzzy feelings. Your writing will liberate your readers’ spirit, enlarge their vision, discipline their soul, deepen their faith and refresh their grace.

Thanks for letting me share with you the above thoughts. I long for you to know the joy of writing under the smile of the Lord.

9 comments:

  1. That understanding of a devotional as 'charam' is a very helpful one. Thanks for that thought, Ray.

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    1. Appreciate your encouragement Anne. Also your research into the meaning/history of words.

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  2. Yes, thanks for explaining that, Ray. I love hearing the deeper Hebrew meanings of words.
    I like what you said - "Could we say therefore that Christian writing needs to bear the marks of ‘death?’ "
    An interesting thought and one that could refine how Christian fiction would we viewed. Hmmmm, I'm mulling that over....

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    1. Hi Catherine.
      It seems to me that as Christians we bear the signs of death by being 'In Christ'. Our Heavenly Father sees that we have paid the wages of our sin (Romans 6:23) and have received resurrection life. So as writers it strikes me that what we write reflects our new status and so becomes our fragrant offering to our Heavenly Father. Does that make sense?

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  3. May the Lord bless your sacrifice of a willing and devoted heart, Ray. Wonderfl to be able to share in this helpful way especially to folk who are not able to get to hear practical Bible teaching.

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  4. Great to be involved with other devoted people, such as yourselves, in the writing ministry. Thanks for your faithfulness and encouragement.

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  5. Great post, Ray. I've been pondering, these last few days, the wise words shared by a Bible teacher many years ago. "Prayer is the work," she would say. I think this applies to the calling of the writer, too. It is our foundation and underpins all we do.
    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hi Dorothy. Totally agree. Prayer helps us recognise our standing before our Lord. Conditions the heart and mind to keep them focused on Him and His glory through what we write. Appreciate you commenting.

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  6. Ray, excellent post! Thank you for sharing your understanding and thoughts on writing devotions. The Hebrew words are helpful in giving us context and purpose. I love your devotion books, and I hope you'll have the opportunity to write and publish more of them.

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