The A, B, Cs of Loving One Another, “Q”

By Elaine Baldwin| @elainehbaldwin

Quiet and be still. Psalm 46:10  Be still, and know that I God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.  (KJV)

The noise of life blocks out God’s message of love to us and makes us ineffective to love others. This happens to the best of us. Even God’s mighty prophets had to learn to be quiet.

(The following is an excerpt from “The Art of Loving One Another.”)

In I and II Kings we read about a pretty amazing prophet. His name was Elijah. He was quite the man of God and served Jehovah faithfully during a very dark time in Israel’s history. In fact, he was so connected with God that when his time here on earth was completed, God took him to heaven in a whirlwind escorted by a fiery chariot drawn by fiery horses (II Kings 2:11). Now that’s a “Wow!” change moment. And it wasn’t Elijah’s first one

  • Elijah was given the ability to stop the rain (I Kings 17:1).
  • Elijah and a widow and her son were given unlimited bread while he lodged with them during the time of draught (I Kings 17:9-16).
  • Elijah was given power to raise the widow’s son from the dead (I Kings 17:17-24).
  • Elijah was given power to defeat 450 prophets of Baal in a god-test (I Kings 18).
  • Elijah was given the ability to make it rain again (I Kings 18:45).
  • Elijah was given the speed and endurance to outpace Ahab’s chariot and beat him to Jezreel (I Kings 18:46).
  • Elijah was fed miraculously by God and the angel of the Lord ministered personally to him (I Kings 19:6-7).
  • Elijah traveled for forty days to a mountain on those one day provisions (I Kings 19:8).
  • Elijah spoke directly to God on Mount Horeb, The Mountain of God (I Kings 19:9-15).
  • Elisha smote the waters of Jordan with Elijah’s mantel which fell off when he taken away to heaven in the chariot of fire and the waters were separated and Elisha crossed over on dry ground (II Kings 2:14).

Including the chariot escort to heaven that is eleven oversized change moments Elijah had that I have never experienced. That’s not to say I’ve never had giant change moments. But I’ve never outrun a chariot or stopped the rain or raised anyone from the dead and I probably never will. That doesn’t mean my colossal change moments are not significant. They are just different. There is one thing Elijah and I have that is the same. We both struggle between the “Wows!”

In between all these amazing change moments in Elijah’s life, he allowed one threat made by a malicious woman to knock him off his feet and shut him and his ministry down.

Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and even more, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time. I Kings 19:2

You see after his knockout punch of the 450 prophets of Baal, evil Queen Jezebel wasn’t too happy. It’s hard to believe that Israel sank so low with such a godless woman as their leader but it only took a handful of generations for Israel to be unrecognizable as God’s chosen people

But, such were the times Elijah lived in. He was the only true prophet in Israel. So when he, with God’s enabling, won the contest against the Baal prophets he didn’t really have any human to give a high five to or join him in a rousing cheer of, “Our God Reigns.”

Here he was, a little tired from outpacing Ahab’s chariot, no supporters, no fans, and no groupies, around him. Only his servant was with him. (I think he probably had to hang around.) Then he gets news that Jezebel has a contract out on him. The text says he ran for his life to Beersheba, left his servant there (there goes the last hope for any support) and then he ran into the wilderness and collapsed under a juniper tree where he requested that he might die

It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers. I Kings 19:4

It’s hard to believe that this mighty prophet of God went from the high of completing one of the most remarkable achievements in the entire Bible to a low so deep that he was despondent and wanted God to take his life. Then again, maybe it isn’t all that hard to believe. Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe most of us have to some degree. But, God wasn’t finished with this runaway prophet and He isn’t done with us either. I know because I am still here writing and you are still here reading. So we obviously aren’t done with whatever God has for us to do.

Elijah also had more to do, but he was exhausted and he was hungry and he was scared and he had no one. Elijah was just done in! God knew this. Nor was God surprised by Jezebel’s threats and massive man hunt. It was all part of His plan to speak to Elijah in an intimate way.

After a few visits from the angel of the Lord, some sleep and some food Elijah was good to go. I mean he was good to go for forty long days. I love the last statement from the angel of the Lord before Elijah left for this long trek, “Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.” (I Kings 19:7b). Talk about an understatement!

Elijah conquered the prophets of Baal on God’s strength and with God’s power. He ran from Jezebel on his own without listening for God. The next forty days he survived on God’s provision from the food and rest back in the wilderness. Pretty amazing! Now he is at Mount Horeb, the Mountain of God. But was he ready to listen to God…God’s way?

He’s on a mountain top and not just any mountain top, God’s mountain top!  He still doesn’t understand what he’s supposed to do now that the big battle is over. What can he do? He’s a hunted man. He’s the only one left in Israel. Or so he thinks. Let’s listen in on the conversation between God and Elijah. You can read the whole story in I Kings 19

God: What are you doing here, Elijah?

Elijah: I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away

God: Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD

Now here is where it gets interesting. As if standing before God on His Mountain and talking with God isn’t interesting enough. But, trust me, it gets better

Elijah hangs out and waits for God to speak to him again. Suddenly a great and strong wind ripped at the mountain and rocks were torn in pieces. Elijah thought for sure that this was God. But God was not in the wind. Then an earthquake came and then a fire and Elijah thought surely this was God. But God was not in the earthquake or the fire.

After the fire came “a sound of gentle blowing.”  We’re told that when Elijah heard this gentle breeze, he just knew. God opened his mind, heart and his awareness and he knew this was God. Elijah wrapped his mantle around his face and finally did what God told him to do. He stood in the entrance of the cave. There he and God repeated the first conversation, but there was an important difference.

Elijah was ready to listen without all the “Wow!” So much of his God experience up to this moment had been the colossal and the extraordinary that he wasn’t really able to hear God in the everyday and the ordinary. I have to wonder if God gave him the big show of wind and earthquake and fire just to get the need for “Wow!” out of His prophet’s system. That is purely my own speculation, but it’s interesting to think about.

Now that Elijah could hear God in the gentle breeze, he was ready for change and he was ready for his next assignment. This assignment wasn’t nearly as dramatic or astonishing.

God simply asked him to anoint a new ruler over Aram and a new king over Judah and a new prophet to replace himself, none other than Elisha.

It took days of running and weeks of solitary travel and a mighty exhibition of God’s amazing power, but once Elijah was finally quiet before the Lord, Jehovah God reminded the prophet that he was not alone.

He was not the only one left in Israel. God had a remnant; a 7000 strong remnant that did not bow their knee to Baal.

How long has it been since you’ve been quiet before the Lord? I mean really quiet. Shh….

Photo By: Margaret Richards |

Take Care of Yourself

By Elaine Baldwin | @elainehbaldwin

This week’s One Another Living Challenge is to take care of yourself. In fact this is not just the challenge this week, but throughout your life.

Now it may seem strange for a challenge which is supposed to be others focused to admonish people to take care of themselves. Let me tell you I thought it strange as well when the idea starting forming in my heart and in my mind.
Such a challenge seemed to be the very antithesis of putting others before ourselves.

This challenge comes from a personal challenge from my daughter. I was sharing with her the frustration with my on-again-off-again healthy lifestyle efforts.

Me: “I know I need to lose weight and exercise. It will make my life so much better.”

Daughter: “And you can live longer with me.”

Me: “Uh?”

Daughter: “If you continue to be overweight and inactive you may not live as long and that takes you from me sooner.

Pretty selfish if you ask me.”

Dah! Of course I want to live as long as possible with those I love. But do I take care of myself like I really mean that? I don’t think I ever really thought of not taking care of myself as being selfish.

This presupposition of selfishness wasn’t new to me, but I never applied to my own unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Take my parents for example. My dad was a heavy smoker and died at the young age of 57. I was 19. He missed my college graduation, my wedding, knowing my husband, the births and raising of three of his grandchildren and growing old with my mother. Not to mention the births and raising of 13 great-grandchildren.

My mother did live a long life. She was 87 when God took her home. But she missed out on quite a lot too. Why? Because she was overweight and this caused her many health problems which kept her on the sidelines of many family happenings. She couldn’t get on the floor and play with her grandkids. She couldn’t walk to all the zoo exhibits or climb the steps to ride the tram. She couldn’t hike with our family or even take a walk around the block. Many of her limitations began in her 60’s and simply worsened until her death.

Like me, my parents never considered themselves to be selfish on this point. They just had some bad habits that were “too hard to overcome.” But, for years I harbored a level of bitterness toward my dad for leaving me too soon. I felt it was the ultimate selfishness to keep smoking and “forcing” me to watch him die from grueling lung cancer. And I also felt short changed by my mom because she was unable to “fully” enjoy my family.

Please don’t misunderstand. I love my parents dearly. I value all they were to me and all they provided for me. But I often wonder how much we missed because of their selfish decisions to keep smoking and keep overeating. All that wondering is mute, of course, unless I am wise enough to not follow their example on these particular issues. There are many other fine examples from my parents, but not their disregard for a healthy lifestyle.

The ultimate question is: Why should I take care of myself?

Answer: To live as long as God intends, to serve Him fully for as long as He intends AND to live as long as He intends for the one anothers around me, including my family!

Is this a good reason for you to take care of yourself? It’s not for you. It’s for those around you that you can be a minister of the gospel to them for a as long as God intends.

So, what harmful habit are you selfishly hanging onto? Can you give that habit to the Lord and take the challenge to take care of yourself this week and throughout your life?

photo credit: otisarchives3 via photo pin cc

Turn Write Series with Guest: Author Janalyn Voigt

Janalyn Voigt’s unique blend of adventure, romance, suspense, and fantasy creates worlds of beauty and danger for readers. Beginning with DawnSinger, her epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven, carries the reader into a land only imagined in dreams.

Janalyn also writes western romance novels, and will publish in that genre under Janalyn Irene Voigt. She is represented by Barbara Scott of Wordserve Literary. She serves as a literary judge for several national contests and is an active book reviewer. Her memberships include ACFW and NCWA.

When she’s not writing, Janalyn loves to find adventures in the great outdoors.

We welcome Janalyn to the Turn Write Series. Be sure to leave her a comment at the conclusion of this post and be entered to win a free copy of her just released novel, DawnSinger.

Capture a Wide Audience Walt Disney’s Storytelling Techniques

“I can never stand still. I must explore and experiment. I am never satisfied with my work. I resent the limitations of my own imagination” ~ Walt Disney.

Each morning during my visit to Disneyland when the rope dropped to allow guests into the park a spontaneous cheer rose from the waiting crowd. Why? What brought people from all over the world and united them with happy expectation? And how can I allow this happy magic to inform my own writing?

The answers take us straight into the heart of Disneyland — to Walt Disney himself. He’s present in every corner of the park, beside you as you fly with Peter Pan, fight with the Force, adventure Indiana-Jones-style or ride a runaway train in the Old West. Walt Disney’s appeal goes beyond his fine understanding of story, evidenced by the following quote:

“If I can’t find a theme, I can’t make a film anyone else will feel. I can’t laugh at intellectual humor. I’m just corny enough to like to have a story hit me over the heart…” ~ Walt Disney. 

From this quote, a writer can draw the following inferences:

  • A story needs a theme.
  • Be real to reach readers.
  • To touch others, engage your own emotions as you write.

Walt Disney detailed the elements present in his stories:

“My entertainment credo has not changed a whit. Strong combat and soft satire are in our story cores. Virtue triumphs over wickedness in our fables. Tyrannical bullies are routed or conquered by our good little people, human or animal. Basic morality is always deeply implicit in our screen legends. But they are never sappy or namby-pamby. And they never prate or preach. All are pitched toward the happy and satisfactory ending. There is no cynicism in me and there is none allowed in our work.” ~ Walt Disney. 

To emulate Disney’s formula:

  • Build your story around strong conflict and soft satire.
  • Allow good to win over evil through your character’s virtues.
  • Allow morality to inform your story world.
  • Never manipulate with sappiness (excessive emotion without cause).
  • Don’t let your storytelling become wishy-washy or run-of-the-mill. Know what you want to express and do so in a unique way.
  • Don’t lecture the reader.
  • Don’t preach at the reader.
  • Develop your story toward a satisfying conclusion. As Walt Disney put it: “A good ending is vital to a picture, the single most important element, because it is what the audience takes with them out of the theater.”
  • Don’t allow cynicism to enter your writing.

Walt Disney’s insights into storytelling were matched by his equally keen understanding of his audience:

“You don’t build it for youself. You know what the people want and you build it for them.”  

Disney’s opinion flies in the face of the popular notion that writers should write to please themselves. Contrary to today’s pursuit of niche markets, Disney successfully defined a wide audience for his work:

“To captivate our varied and worldwide audience of all ages, the nature and treatment of the fairy tale, the legend, the myth have to be elementary, simple. Good and evil, the antagonists of all great drama in some guise, must be believably personalized. The moral ideals common to all humanity must be upheld. The victories must not be too easy. Strife to test valor is still and will always be the basic ingredient of the animated tale, as of all screen entertainments”

–Walt Disney. 

Let’s review how to capture a wide audience:

  • Maintain a simple focus in your storyline.
  • Believably personalize good and evil (no cardboard characters)
  • Uphold universally-held moral ideals.
  • Keep tension high with conflict to
  • Don’t give away the ending with a too-easy resolution. Make your characters work for victory.

If Disney’s formula for success seems calculated for profit, think again. I’ll let Walt Disney explain for himself:

“I knew if this business was ever to get anywhere, if this business was to ever grow, it could never do it by having to answer to someone unsympathetic to its possibilities, by having to answer to someone with only one thought or interest, namely profits. For my idea of how to make profits has differed greatly from those who generally control businesses such as ours. I have blind faith in the policy that quality, tempered with good judgment and showmanship, will win against all odds”

–Walt Disney.

I don’t know about you, but I’m all for winning against the odds.

Janalyn Voigt’s DawnSinger

The High Queen is dying… At the royal summons, Shae mounts a wingabeast and soars through the air to the high hold of Faeraven, where all is not as it seems. Visions warn her of danger, and a dark soul touches hers in the night. When she encounters an attractive but disturbing musician, her wayward heart awakens. But then there is Kai, a guardian of Faeraven and of Shae. Secrets bind him to her, and her safety lies at the center of every decision he makes. On a desperate journey fraught with peril and the unknown, they battle warlike garns, waevens, ferocious raptors, and the wraiths of their own regrets. Yet, they must endure the campaign long enough to release the DawnKing—and the salvation he offers—into a divided land. To prevail, each must learn that sometimes victory comes only through surrender.

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Don’t forget to leave a comment below and be entered to win a free copy of DawnSinger