Thursday, April 22, 2010

Online Devotional Course

Ever wanted to learn how to write devotionals? Join me for four weeks of fun learning -

Next Date – May 3 – 24, 2010

Content: Writing in an anecdotal style, learn how to stimulate your readers to consider spiritual things. The course will cover Using Literary Devices, How to Show instead of Tell, Keeping your Focus, Using Metaphor

Instructor: Marcia Lee Laycock

To enroll e-mail

Cost: $100.00. Receipt of fee confirms enrolment. Enrolment is limited. Send cheque to ICWF c/o Laurie Hanchard, 7403 – 92A Ave. Edmonton, AB. T6B 0V4

Format: The course will run as a Yahoo group. Students should make themselves familiar with before the course begins. A short lesson and assignment will be given at the beginning of the week. Each student will send her/his devotional to Marcia for critique. Students are also free to comment on/critique one another’s work.

Credentials: Marcia is an award-winning, published writer. She has been writing a weekly devotional column for more than 20 years and has been published in both national and provincial newspapers and magazines. Marcia has taught writing at Inscribe’s conferences as well as at Write Canada (The Word Guild in Ontario) and through Adult Learning of Alberta. Her devotional books, The Spur of the Moment and Focused Reflections have been endorsed by Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. Her novel, One Smooth Stone won her the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award in 2006 and was released in Sept. 2007. A second novel will be released in Spring 2011.

Endorsements from previous students -

I took the anecdotal devotional course that Marcia teaches and it is
very good! I learned lots of good technique, especially how to revise down
to a brief devotional (the kind most publishers want!)
Pam Mytroen

This course has been a great help to me in my writing. The critiques were very enlightening. Your remarks were right on target. It was also beneficial to be able to view my fellow student’s writings and critiques as well.

The assignments were fun as well as challenging. The content was just right without being too cumbersome for those who work fulltime. It was $100 well spent. Thanks Marcia!

Sandra Briggs

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes by Lisa McKay

If you're a pastor's wife you'll love this book. It's laugh out loud funny but takes you to some serious places too.

It's about identity and being grounded in Christ. It's about knowing what God wants from you and being able to gracefully refuse to mold yourself into someone else's false picture of who you should be.

If you're not a pastor's wife, pick it up anyway - it will give you some great insights into your pastor's wife and maybe just maybe you'll be able to avoid heaping some of those unrealistic expectations on her.

Lisa McKay’s You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes is an utterly honest, charmingly witty, and biblically insightful guide for every minister’s wife who wants to serve the church and her husband without losing herself along the way.

Excerpt from the introduction of You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes…and Other Great Advice from an Unlikely Preacher’s Wife by Lisa McKay (© David C Cook, 2010)

“God is calling you to do what?”

Such was my reaction fifteen years ago when my husband, Luke, told me he felt God was leading him into the gospel ministry. Even though I supported him wholeheartedly, I naively believed this calling was somehow just his gig. My job was simply to accompany him while he did his “thing.”

Reality didn’t hit until a well-meaning gentleman enlightened me on the expectations of a minister’s wife. He said, “The best thing you can do for Luke is learn how to play the piano. He’ll have a much easier time being called as a pastor of a church. Congregations love it when the pastor’s wife can contribute. It’s like they are getting two for one!” If I knew then what I know now, I would have had a serious fight with the flesh to keep from sharing my thoughts on the buy-one-get-one-free concept.

The restraint of the Holy Spirit is a beautiful thing.

Before that moment, it truly had not entered my mind that anyone would expect anything of me, or that my lack of musical talent could affect my husband’s “success” in ministry. I thought of my childhood pastor’s wife, a grim-faced woman whose hair was piled high in a bun. Polyester skirts and sensible shoes were her standard uniform. And yes, she played the piano. Was this the person I must become in order for God to use our family in ministry?

…It also did not help that the books I read about being a ministry wife only reinforced my insecurities. The advice ranged from how to brew a perfect cup of tea for a ladies’ luncheon to how to organize a large staff when hosting a dinner party. According to these books, I was to be gracious at all times, keep a spotless home, and have well-dressed, obedient children. I’m certainly not criticizing these noble aspirations, but even before children I was completely overwhelmed at this picture of perfection. I don’t agree with the busyness of our culture, yet there is no use in denying I often fall prey to its trappings. The truth is, I am a wife and mother deep in the trenches. The only tea I brew is Lipton. And staff? Are you kidding me? If I ever have a workforce at my disposal, they will be too busy doing laundry to prepare a dinner for the deacons. And where do I begin with the kids? Someone please tell me what to do with a child who sneaks his Halloween costume under his clothes, strips off in the bathroom, and shakes hands as Spiderman during the greeting song when he is supposed to be in children’s church. Susanna Wesley would definitely not approve.

You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes by Lisa McKay
David C Cook February 1, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6726-4/208 pages/softcover/$12.99

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Little Help from a Friend

When my daughter decided to take a language course by correspondence I had some trepidation. Would she have the self-discipline to finish it? Could she really learn a language by listening to audio recordings and reading a book? She dove in with enthusiasm at first, but quickly got bogged down. I did my best to encourage her to keep going. We were working on an assignment together one morning when she looked up and said, “You know Mom, I really want to know how to speak Spanish. I just don’t want to have to learn it!”

I’ve thought of that day often over the past few months. It’s been a struggle to get my next novel finished. I so want it to be finished. I dream of seeing the book in my hands and on the shelves of many bookstores. But right now I have little of the enthusiasm I need for writing it.

Most writers hit this wall, when it’s just not that much fun and you have to force yourself to sit in the chair and do it. I’ve hit this point before and I know it will pass. Like my daughter, I will persevere and the book will be written. I just have to get over this hump.

Sometimes the path of our spiritual life can have a lot of humps. We want to go church, but can’t drum up the needed energy to get out the door. We want to read the Bible but there are so many distractions. Even the apostle Paul seems to have had a number of humps along the way. Hear his distress in these words – “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:20-24).

The struggle to live as we should, to enjoy God as He intended us to do, is sometimes more than a hump. It can seem like a mountain.
But listen to what Paul says next – “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”(v.25)

Paul made it over the hump, with a little help from a friend. The good news is He’s our friend too and He’s very good at bulldozing the humps in our lives, both spiritually and physically. He cares about all of it and he wants to help. Just ask Him.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Inspiration and a Funny Movie

Great article on inspiration -

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Kindle- ing your book

Great article on how to get your book published in format for Kindle -

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Interesting Insights into Church History

I just viewed the first part of this video series and was intrigued, Diarmaid MacCulloch gives an interesting overview of the development of the church, particularly in the east - a part of our Christian history we don't often hear about. Highly recommended.

Q & A with Diarmaid MacCulloch,
Host of A History of Christianity (Part 1 of 2)

Q: A History of Christianity corrects several misconceptions regarding Christianity’s past and traditions, beginning with the earliest days of the fledgling religion. How does the true history of Christianity’s origins differ from the version most of us know?

A: Today, Christianity is seen as a Western faith. Indeed, many in the Muslim world would see Western lifestyles as Christian lifestyles. But Christianity is not by origin a Western religion. Its beginnings are in the Middle East, where there still exist churches which have been Eastern since the earliest Christian era. For centuries, Christianity flourished in the East, and indeed, at one point, it was poised to triumph in Asia, maybe even in China. The headquarters of Christianity might well have been Baghdad rather than Rome, and if that had happened, Western Christianity would have been very different. The story of the first Christianity tells us the Christian faith is, in fact, hugely diverse with many identities. The history of Christianity has been the never-ending rebirth of a meeting with Jesus Christ, the resurrected son of God. For some, like the Oriental and Orthodox churches, the meeting has been through ritual and tradition, or the inner life of the mystic. For Western Catholics, through obedience to the Church. In Protestant churches, through the Bible. And it’s the variety that is so remarkable in Christianity’s journey. It’s reached into every continent and adapted to new cultures. That’s the hallmark of a world religion.

Q: Why does Christian history fascinate you?

A: When I was a small boy, my parents used to drive me around historic churches searching out whatever looked interesting, but soon, they realized they had created a monster. The history of the church became my life’s work. For me, no other subject can rival its scale and drama. For 2,000 years, Christianity has been one of the great players in world history, inspiring faith but also squalid politics. It is an epic story starring a cast of extraordinary people—from Jesus himself and the first apostles to empresses, kings, and popes, from reformers and champions of human conscience to crusaders and sadists. Religious belief can transform us for good or ill. It has brought human beings to acts of criminal folly as well as the highest achievements of goodness and creativity. I will tell the story of both extremes. Christianity has survived persecution, splits, wars of religion, mockery, hatred. Today there are two billion Christians, a third of humanity—Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Pentecostal, and many more. Deep down, the Christian faith boasts a shared core—but what is it? This is something I wanted to explore on a truly global scale.

Q: Your search for Christianity’s true history begins with a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Why does this location tell us about the Christianity’s global roots?

A: The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is said to have been built where Jesus was crucified and buried. At its heart is what’s believed to be his tomb. The church built around the tomb of Jesus is the starting point for a forgotten story, a story that may overturn your preconceptions about early Christianity. Pride of place in this building goes to two churches—the Greek Orthodox church and the Roman Catholic church. It’s true that Orthodoxy and Catholicism dominated Christianity in Europe, in the West, for its first 1,500 years. But as you walk around the edges of the church, you can’t fail to notice other curious little chapels. They’re not Western or European. They’re Middle Eastern and African, and they tell a very different story about the origins of Christianity. Around the back of Jesus’ tomb is Egypt’s Coptic church. There are plenty of other churches at this location, but you need to know where to look: the Syriac Orthodox church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, to name a few. Many versions of Christian history would make these churches unorthodox, yet they are far older than better known versions of Christianity like Protestantism. It’s easy for tourists to dismiss these ancient churches as quaint or even irrelevant. But that would be a big mistake.

Q: What are some general differences between the expansion of Western and Eastern Christianity?

A: In the West, Christianity became the religion of an entire empire. This meant the end of persecution. It brought power and wealth. It gave the Christian faith a chance at becoming a universal religion. In theory, it embraced Christians in the Eastern Empire as well as in the West.
But in the east, many Christians were unimpressed by the new alliance—even hostile. At stake were fundamental disagreements about the direction the faith should take. Jesus had told people to abandon wealth, not to ally with the rich and powerful. It was Eastern Christians in Syria who led the way, showing Western Christianity a pattern for spiritual life. We call this pattern monasticism, a way of life involving isolation from the world, austerity, and suffering. The expansion of Eastern Christianity has often taken place apart from any empire. It has often been a religion of dialogue, not conquest.

The DVD set will arrive in stores, including Sam’s Club, in time for the Easter Season. The series will also be available on

A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years 6 DVD Set presented by Diarmaid MacCulloch
March 2010