Thursday, November 29, 2018

Expressions of Faith. Immanuel - revised

This was first posted on 12/25/15  as the climax of the Advent season.
This year, I'm using it to kick off the Advent season. 

After all, 
"Jesus (Immanuel) is the reason for the season," 
regardless of what season it is!


"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us."
Matthew 1:23

"Immanuel" is a Hebrew word meaning "God with us" and expresses the wonder of the incarnation, that God "became flesh and made his dwelling among us" (John 1:14 ).vIn the Old Testament, God's presence with his people Israel was particularly evident in the tabernacle (Exodus 25:8 ), but the glory that filled the tabernacle was surpassed by the personal presence of God the Son as he revealed the Father during his ministry on earth. Christ's glory was revealed through the miracles he performed (John 2:11 ). 

Regardless of the qualifications, credentials, or knowledge of any theologian or author, there has been no better expression of God's love than this: 
God with us.

Think about that.

The God of the universe lived on Earth
among humanity.

How incredibly wrong that sounds to us as humans.

How incredibly right it sounds for an action by our God.

I found this image at It displays a joy from Jesus that I don't often think about. Most of the pictures of Christ show him teaching or
adorned with halo or
sternly putting the Pharisees in their place.
Jesus came to Earth by His own choosing.
I know he was tempted. I know he suffered.
He would not have experienced humanness without scenes like the one above.

As we begin this time of Advent, let's all remember that God is with us.

Every year.
Every day.
Every hour.

Take time this Advent season
  • to think about the full experience Jesus had when He came down to Earth.
  • to think about the significance of that act of God.
  • to thank God for that act.
  • to personally experience a relationship with Immanuel
  • to begin—or to continue—living a thankful life of service throughout the new year.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Thoughts on Study Questions from Acts Ch 8 on 11/25

My Sunday school class/Life Group is studying the book of Acts. I posted these questions this Monday and encouraged you to jot your thoughts down.
It's Wednesday. This post consists of some comments from the class discussion.

If you’d like a PDF file of the questions, email me at
Chapter 8
How do you explain Peter's harsh response in vv20-23?
Peter saw his own quick-acting without thinking it through personality in Simon.
You can't buy God with money.
Peter thought he needed to stop the idea of the Holy Spirit as a commodity before it got started.
The Jewish religious hierarchy had corrupted the Law. Peter takes a stand against the corruption of the Holy Spirit's role and power.

What is God's plan to provide power for/to believers?
The Holy Spirit.
Believers are filled with the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit provides both power and authority to believers.
It doesn't matter who you are, the Holy Spirit impacts all similarly if they have the proper motivation. Many people want to be someone/something they are not, but God makes each of us for a reason.

What is wrong with Simon's answer in v24?
Simon is seeking truth, maybe the wrong way.
He appears to have a repentant heart.

This is a fairly famous passage. In brief, what happens here?
Why was the Eunach reading the Old Testament?
The Eunach is baptized after believing.
Philip is directed to go by an angel, but the Holy Spirit directs his actions.

Who speaks to Philip? 
An angel.

Where is he sent? 
To the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. The Ethiopian was probably headed home after worshiping in the Temple.

What is his reaction?
He got up and went.

What reaction might have been expected?
More information.
Hesitation. Stephen's death is still fresh on his mind. But Philip was listening to all God said to him.

 We got this far this week. 

What is the Ethiopian reading?

Why would Philip ask the question he does?

Philip's answer to the Ethiopian's question includes what?

What happens to Philip after the Ethiopian is baptized?

Where does Philip end up?

How does Philip's ministry begin the spread of the Gospel to "the ends of the earth"?

Describe Philip’s evangelism.

In Jesus time, Jews were looking for a wrong type of Messiah rather than the One God provided in Jesus.
If you are interested in Messianic prophecies, my blog December 26 is a "fill in the blanks" table for 37 messianic prophecies. On December 27, the blog post provides the answers.
Feel free to spread the word about this.

This week's Expressions of Faith is Immanuel (Revised)

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Monday, November 26, 2018

A Handful of Writing Help Articles #author #amwriting

Do a Google search for any writing topic. You’ll get at least a dozen “o’s” in Goooooooooooogle. Some articles are good. Some are not. You’ll come across OUTSTANDING articles if you take your time. 
     Sometimes you don't have some time for that.
     Today’s post presents overviews of five online articles I’ve found contain sound advice on specific topics. 
     Five is neither the magic number nor the most appropriate number of articles. There are tens of thousands of articles on writing posted online as stand-alone pieces or in blogs. Five is the number chosen because it’s the number of digits on a human hand. Hence, the title matches the number of articles.
     The order of presentation is from pinky finger to thumb. There is a correlation in my mind between article content and finger representation. Feel free to speculate. None of the correlations involve crude gestures. These are the only clues you get.
No correlation is crude or offensive.
Your life as a writer would be dreadful without an opposable thumb.
Included is a teaser for an article labeled GLOVE. It's good enough to be a finger. By the time I found it in my blog post folder, I already had five articles chosen. Gloves are important in their own way, so, I decided that six articles were the way to go.

BookDaily Staff October 24, 2016
If your book cover attracts potential readers, then you definitely need your book blurb to sell your story. Here at BookDaily, we come across thousands of book blurbs. Some blurbs are enticing. Others are forgettable. Here are 5 tips for creating better book blurbs:
This website is no longer functional.

How many books have you rejected immediately after reading the author's book blurb? You like the title. The cover caught your attention. You scrolled down and read the blurb... 
and you clicked your way away from that site.

One problem writer's face is lacking the discipline to read their writing objectively. That's never easy. With book blurbs, the lack of objectivity can doom your book to a 7-digit Amazon ranking.

Straightforward and concise, this article will help you craft more effective book blurbs.


8 Tips For Picking Meaningful Character Names

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

How important are character names? Does it really matter what we choose? Or how we go about deciding? Should we draw names out of a hat? Or should we wait until exact names are revealed to us in a dream?
I’m slightly hesitant to give advice on how to pick character names. I can’t tell you how to name your characters any more than I can tell you how to name your real-life children. I truly believe the naming process will be unique for each of us.
But . . . I do think there are some general principles we can employ when deciding on character names. Here are eight things I keep in mind when naming my characters:
Oh, bummer, there's no list here.
However you decide what to name who in your books, this article has something to help you. I've been married 47-years. Ya think the ring finger might be important to me?

Top Typo-busting Tips
Using “Find and Replace” in Word is a useful tool for identifying common typos and homophones and formatting nits. All writers have their “pet nits” and it advisable to keep a list of your own so that you can run a check for them before the final edit. It’s much easier to spot a particular typo by searching through the document than reading it as a proofreader (the brain has an auto-correct facility, which is why proofreading is so much more difficult than one imagines.)
To instigate a nit search in Word, press the F5 key on your keyboard to get the Find and Replace window up:

To clean up formatting nits, please see our Eradicate Manuscript Nits article first, which will result in a more accurate search of all of the above, and also our Layout Tips article, which has a free Word template download that is Kindle/epub friendly.
Find errors in your writing is hard to do. I've posted several ideas about overcoming the common brain response to editing: 
"I wrote this. It's mine. I don't want to change it. There's nothing wrong with it."   

This article offers a clever procedure to outfox your brain and make self-editing more effective.

How to Hyperlink Your Table of Contents
in Microsoft Word
Sep 15, 2014
As an avid e-reader, I love to come across an e-book that has a “hyperlinked” table of contents. Then I can easily click back and forth between the start of each chapter and the TOC—particularly handy if there is a map, table, or other reference in the front matter, or I forgot to mark my place in the text. However, as an editor, I frequently come across manuscripts that appear to be hyperlinked yet the links don’t work on my computer. Also frustratingly common are manuscripts with hyperlinks that seem fine until they are loaded to an “e-tailer,” at which point they cease to function. Fortunately, after quite a bit of trial and error, I have found a system that works the vast majority of the time—so of course, I couldn’t wait to share the news.
Part I: Create a Table of Contents
The very first step is to make sure you are in “compatibility mode,” meaning the document is saved as a Word 97–2003 doc, no matter what version you are actually using. Then type a list of all the chapter headings at the beginning of your manuscript; I would also recommend including any front or back matter you wish the reader to have easy access to, for example, maps, family trees, or glossaries. At this point, nothing is bookmarked or hyperlinked, just typed with one chapter head per line and the heading “table of contents.” Below is a screenshot of my fake manuscript, which I’ll use for illustrations throughout.
Step II: Bookmarks
If you've ever swapped reviews with another author, you might have experienced the lack of links between the Table of Contents (TOC) and chapter numbers or titles. It's far from the worst thing in the world unless you closed the file before you finished and had to scroll to Chapter 12 from the title page.
   That activity might have biased your review.
   I use this process with every book I self-publish. Once you get the hang of the process, it's almost fun to link the TOC to the chapter headings.


Dialogue words: Other words for ‘said’

Writing effective, compelling dialogue has multiple elements. It’s not only what characters say but how they say it that matters. Or how you show who’s speaking. ‘He said’ and ‘she said’ can dull and grow boring if overused. Read other words for said as well as tips for keeping your dialogue natural and engrossing:

First, what is a ‘dialogue tag’?

Tags (like name tags) identify. A dialogue tag is a group of words following quoted speech (e.g. ‘she said’), identifying who spoke and/or how they spoke. Other words for ‘said’ can indicate:
·       Volume (e.g. yelled, shouted, bellowed, screamed, whispered)
·       Tone or pitch (e.g. shrieked, groaned, squeaked)
·       Emotion (e.g. grumbled, snapped, sneered, begged)
The relation between these elements of voice is also important. It would be strange, for example, for a character to ‘sneer’ the words ‘I love you’, since the word ‘sneer’ connotes contempt, which is contrary to love.
Given that there are countless verbs that can take the place of ‘said,’ should you simply find a stronger, more emotive one and use that?
Not always. Here are some tips for using dialogue tags such as said and its substitutes well:

1. Use all dialogue tags sparingly

Join Now Novel and get constructive feedback on your dialogue as you grow and improve.
I've been complimented on my dialogs.
     I pride myself on making reading my dialogs engaging for my readers.
     While I hope you can make those statements, too, you might not be able to.
     Everyone who writes dialog will benefit from this article. I was on the FINAL edit of my upcoming Biblical history book, Who Leads the Shepherd?" when I started working on these posts. I went back through the manuscript and adjusted several dialog sequences. The book is a better read because of that time spent.
BTW, you can read Chapter 1 of that book in my blog posts on December 11 and 18 AND Chapter 2 on December 18 and 19.
You might have noticed that too and to were underlined in the italicized sentence in the previous teaser. 
     You did notice that, right?
I did that to reinforce the need for serious editing. The MIDDLE article explains how to spot those pesky typos.
     Now, why GLOVE?
This article presents another important aspect to dialog writing. It will be included in the THUMB blog post. 


This is a bonus. It’s from another site that’s now inoperative. Much of the content is from the MacMillan Dictionary. The content supplements with the words to use in lieu of “said.” You can access the site by copy and pasting this shortened URL in your browser:
Do you think I think this topic is important?
1.     adenoidal  adjective if someone’s voice is adenoidal, some of the sound seems to come through their nose
2.      appealing  adjective an appealing lookvoice, etc. shows that you want helpapproval, or agreement
3.       breathy  adjective with loud breathing noises
4.      brittle  adjective if you speak in a brittle voice, you sound as if you are about to cry
5.       croaky  adjective if someone’s voice sounds croaky, they speak in a low rough voice that sounds like they have a sore throat
6.       dead  adjective if someone’s eyes are dead, or if their voice is dead, they feel or show no emotion
7.       disembodied  adjective disembodied voice comes from someone who you cannot see
8.       flat  adjective spoken in a voice that does not go up and down. This word is often used for describing the speech of people from a particular region.
9.       fruity  adjective fruity voice or laugh is deep and strong in a pleasant way
10.    grating  adjective grating voicelaugh, or sound is unpleasant and annoying


Read all five full reports in January/February.

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