2017 – WRITING – Where I Begin

 

   Hmmm, what should I write about?????

Today, I was asked a frequent question: how do I center myself to write. This particular question begs for more than a simple statement, so just as I did for those asking questions about how to begin blogging (A Blog on Blogging), I want to give those interested in writing preparation full disclosure on my method. It is true there are many solutions to this common problem of how to begin a new article – but as for me, I pray.

My whole purpose for the SusanButlerLive website and blog site is to introduce seekers to the Savior, Jesus Christ. And to encourage them to build a relationship with Him through reading and thinking about what He says regarding living life here and now, and expectations for eternal life when this body wears out. Having a conversation with Him where I both talk and listen (prayer) is the most obvious way for me to know He is guiding me in what and how I present His message.

It is important to know that my relationship with Jesus began when I let Him know that I wanted Him to live in my heart, and that I accepted Him as my personal Lord and Savior. He knows all of us because He created us; but though He created us, we are not His Children until we make this soul commitment to Him.

We have to believe that He was born by immaculate conception, a virgin birth, that He lived a sinless life, and that He died a painful death on a cross to redeem us from our sins – something we cannot do for ourselves. We have to believe that he was buried, and that three days later He rose from that grave and that at least 40 people saw Him and His nail-scarred hands before He ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of God, preparing a place for us when we die.

He was the reason for the title of my book FIRST FRUITS – Jesus was the First Fruit and those that believe in Him will rise to be with Him at the moment of their death, to live with Him in a place He is preparing for us called Heaven. Therefore, we are part of the First Fruits of Christ. I don’t know my number (i.e. millionth, billionth, etc. _____-FRUITS), but the important truth is that He knows! The  Bible talks about God’s Book of Life and my name is written in that Book!!

Being a Christ-follower gives me hope on hopeless days, frustrating days, and on just plain old BAD days! (I just spent more time than I’d like to think about with the Geek Squad to fix my Wifi internet issue – believe me, up until a few minutes ago, I was having a REALLY BAD DAY!) To understand how being in relationship with Christ can turn bad thoughts into good thoughts and bad days into good days, you must get to know Him by reading His Word. My devotional book FIRST FRUITS is packed with His Word (scripture) and my blogs have content either from FIRST FRUITS or new thoughts that always point us back to Him. He loves everyone of you, but we each have to make the decision to accept His free Gift of Salvation.

I realize this was more than the questioner asked for, but I can’t avoid speaking about Him. He changed me and He can change you! Why not trust Him right now?*

God’s best to you,
Susan Butler

* See my website www.susanbutlerlive.com/contact-us.html for more information on inviting Christ into your heart. Specific scriptures are listed to help give you a better understanding.

Christmas Confusion – Chasing the Grinch

Pondering the mysteries of Christmas, I find it almost too overwhelming to tackle. “Then why try,” I ask myself—just so I can write a Christmas blog and go to sleep tonight, temporarily free of the relentless nagging that echoes from my to-do list? Does the pressure of Christmas ever supersede your ability to stop and take in the sounds, smells, scenes and significance of the Season? (Is it a Grinch attack?)

I confess. Though I have already had moments which illuminated giving at its finest, festive evenings with friends, singing carols of Christmas, cherished time with family, feasting on holiday fare, and most importantly, worshiping Christ our Savior … I have allowed my lists of calls, errands, events, shopping and such to cloud my view.

Mostly though, it was a “circumstance” beyond my control that left me in a fit of anxiety this year, wondering what bit of wisdom I might learn, and more to the point, how soon might I learn it! Am I the only one who wants to bask slowly in the warmth of recognizable, already-gained and demonstrated wisdom, yet race through the fiery trials of adversity? Adversity, aka The Grinch (aka Satan), can take us where we don’t want to go and cost us more than we ever want to pay.

One such circumstance came my way a few months ago and culminated last week. Most of you know my devotional book called First Fruits, Giving God Your Best 365 Days of the Year, was published in January 2016, and I have been using excerpts from it for my SusanButlerLive blog. I receive about 100 blog comments per day now, and it is up to me to approve or reject them. One such comment led me down a rabbit hole, which eventually cost me not only a significant amount of time and money, but peace of mind and focus.

The point of this story is not to gain sympathy or get into the details; rather, to warn you of the schemes  of the devil and his proclivity to find unique points of weakness, even in the seemingly innocent endeavors of our lives. You see, the Bible tells us to “beware of the devil who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 NASB. Now, obviously, the internet is not evil—it holds a vast amount of information which allows us to learn and communicate in ways we never imagined possible just a couple of decades ago. However, there are human beings using the internet who are more interested in deceitful money-making scams than spreading peace and good will. They are led by the great deceiver, Satan.

Yes, Satan distracted me one day from my purpose of helping others build a relationship with Jesus Christ. He was prowling around for me that day, choosing just the perfect temptation of making some extra money (to pay for all those copies of First Fruits!), and I never saw it coming. It’s complicated, but suffice it to say, I finally went to the FBI, who gave me the incontrovertible news that I had been scammed (the non-refundable, no recourse kind of scam). I got duped by the devil and he took me off my game. You see, there’s nothing he wants more than to impede the progress of a believer who is forging a path to introduce seekers to the Savior. He thrives on discouraging the strong and the weak.

The Grinch tried to steal my Christmas Joy by taking my focus off of Christ during this last week of crisis—and eventually forcing me to look down the double barrel of fear and failure.  “BUT (Hebrews 10:38-39) my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back. But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” That’s right, Grinch, you come to steal, but we who are righteous in Christ are saved from anything you can throw at us! Remember this when The Grinch tries to steal your joy—you are loved by your Creator who sent The One and Only Christ Child to be your Redeemer, Lord and Savior.

                         It’s Christmas!    Luke 2:1-20                                                    

  1. “Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.
  2. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
  3. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.
  4. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,
  5. In order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.
  6. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.
  7. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
  8. In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
  9. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
  10. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;
  11. For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
  12. This will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
  13. And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
  14. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
  15. When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”
  16. So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.
  17. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.
  18. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.
  19. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.
  20. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.”

Herein lies a beautiful irony: Christ lived to die—and died so we might live.

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the First Fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” 1 Cor. 15:23

Let us take time to retreat from the busyness of the Season, and think about the Joy of Christmas. The Grinch may try to steal from you, but can’t steal your Joy if you are in Christ!