Last week I read an article that described Christian writing as lexical sweat and keyboard calisthenics. The author said Christian wordcraft is an exercise where we rearrange 26 letters into words, sentences, and paragraphs with the hope that the Spirit would use a turn of phrase to turn a reader’s heart. We desire to convey the beauty of God’s Words to our readers, and that, in Greg Morse’s words, is reality written in cursive.
Morse’s article helped me see my writing with fresh eyes. Writing is a workout, but more accurately, it’s an endurance sport. Our minds and fingers work vigorously, our eyes strain, and our backsides ache. But it’s the digging into the Word, and then straining to convey that beauty “in cursive,” that’s the workout. And like all good workouts, endorphins follow. Those feel-good hormones that remind you that all the sweat and strain were worth it, and that little by little, your endurance and muscles are growing.
I write to encourage you to enjoy God and find him to be your holy leisure. But the exercise of writing is my holy leisure and my lexical sweat. I pray that in some small measure, you’ve seen God’s Word written in cursive for you as you’ve visited and read here. I hope you’ve seen more evidence of his beauty and experienced holy leisure in his presence in this last year. By God’s grace, and with his help, I hope to share more of his cursive-filled creation and words, with you in 2024.
But before moving forward, let’s look back.
Top 10 Posts of 2023
Every year I look back at my top-performing posts. It encourages me to discover what resonated with you and it helps me plan for the upcoming year. These posts were selected based on the number of visits each post received.
If, like Noah, you feel alone in an increasingly hostile world that hates God, hates you, and hates your message of righteousness, take heart. There’s a fascinating structure to the story of Noah’s ark, called a chiasm, that’s worth noting. You might see that the center point of Noah’s story is the center of yours too.
The Redwoods stood at attention like an army of giants all around us. We walked along their shadowy paths and craned our necks to see where their branches reached the clouds, often to no avail. There was an otherworldliness to being there like we had stepped into a Narnian realm where everything was lush, green, and tranquil. There’s something about the majesty of the Redwoods that prompts introspection about life’s paths. It reminded me of the imagery found in Psalm 1. There are two paths of life, which one are you taking?
Not every mom feels loved, cherished, and seen. Often, circumstances in our lives spin out of control, and we suffer because of the actions of others. In this article, revisit the story of Hagar whose personal encounter with the angel of the Lord revealed that no hardship that she had endured had happened beyond his gaze. He who knows it all also sees it all. Dear Not Invisible Mom, God sees you, and he loves you!
The king had set up a golden idol of himself and expected that when the music played, the entire kingdom would bow down and worship. Do you get the sense that’s what our culture is expecting of us today? The message is clear…Even if you don’t “worship” the idol –appear as you do, and you’ll be fine.
This kind of behavior was unthinkable to the three Hebrew teenagers because it would force them to disobey God’s clear commands. They’d rather risk their lives than disobey the God they knew and loved. Thousands of years later, this story has new applications for us. Even if you’re not delivered immediately from whatever fiery trial you’re facing, you’ll know that because of Jesus, you’ve been ultimately delivered.
At Christmas, we long for fullness. The kind that causes us to loosen our waistbands, and revel in its magic. With stocked refrigerators, full calendars, and tree skirts loaded with presents, we anticipate creating memories that will overflow for years to come. The most wonderful time of the year comes with high expectations and high hopes. As parents, the task is weightier, because our children’s future memories hinge on how well we deliver on Christmas this year. The pressure to fill up on Christmas and make it all that it can be is real. But should fullness be our goal or emptiness?
The story of David and Goliath is the ultimate underdog story. The small shepherd boy goes up against the man of war and against all odds, prevails. You’ve probably been encouraged to have faith like David and to take up your five smooth stones of faith, and hurl them at your respective Goliaths.
These are well-intentioned takeaways from this famous story. Who wouldn’t benefit from trusting God more, or being more courageous in the face of adversity? But is that the intended point of this story? Is it possible that we’ve missed the theological significance of who David represents, and how it points to a future victory that’s ours to come? I’ll let you decide.
I hear it from Christians all the time. The struggle is real and statistically, it’s far-reaching. We all struggle to make (and maintain) a personal, daily, quiet time with the Lord. But we don’t have to settle with the struggle. In this article, I argue there’s a better way and a better path. Let’s travel the path together.
He was one of the first to recognize Jesus as the Messiah when Mary and Joseph brought him to the temple when he was just a few days old. We can learn a lot from this righteous and devout man. His life speaks to us year-round, and not just at Christmastime. Simeon’s example teaches us how to wait with expectant hope, and how to live amid an unbelieving generation.
When death and destruction are celebrated instead of being condemned, it feels like what’s left of our crumbling foundations is quickly eroding beneath our feet. How do we stand firm in our faith during such perilous and shaky times? At some unknown event in David’s life, he asked the same questions.
If you’ve ever wondered where God is in your trials, the Book of Esther has answers. Curiously, it’s the absence of God from the pages of this famous story, that thunder the loudest. He’s everywhere working and moving every detail according to his sovereign will. It was true for Esther and Mordecai, and it’s been true for me, and you too. The truth is he is not silent, and he is not absent in our trials. He’s behind the scenes, and behind what’s seen, working in providential ways for our good.
Highlights from Guest Contributors
This Christmas I offered readers the opportunity to share their own stories about Christmas Joy. The response was overwhelming, and I’m so thankful to highlight these amazing stories.
This guest post is near and dear to my heart as it was written by my Mom. Even though this event happened to my brother, it’s a story that’s shaped much of my understanding of God’s ever-present help in times of need.
On a December afternoon in 1983, after Christmas shopping and lunch, my Mom and brother stepped on the escalator. The rest, as they say, has become part of my family’s history.
Cheryl recounts how Christmas Carols have often ministered to her heart during the busy Christmas seasons. If the most wonderful time of the year has you feeling more weary than jolly, you’re not alone. O Holy Night proclaims that the ‘weary world rejoices’ that the Savior has been born. Does that thrill of hope fill your heart this season? Consider what joy this truth brings to even the weariest soul at Christmas.
YouVersion Plans Released in 2023
For those who love a good YouVersion devotional plan, here are the ones I released this year. You can subscribe and read them on YouVersion, and some are available through email.
He Shall Be Called (4-Days)
Seven hundred years before Christ was born, Isaiah prophesied the Messiah would be called a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Only in the divine foreknowledge of God could all of these titles be perfectly fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This Advent, be awed and amazed at the Wonderful Counselor who’s a wonder of a counselor. Oh, come, let us adore him
The Remnant (7-Days)
God always preserves a remnant of true believers in an unbelieving world. They are his faithful witnesses who stand against the world’s systems, fleshly appetites, and devilish schemes. Often they stand alone facing floods, fires, lions, and giants, to faithfully follow God. In this seven-day plan, reconsider some of your favorite biblical stories through the eyes of the believing and courageous remnant.
Taste & See (7-Days)
Meals nourish us both body and soul. In this 7-day series, you’ll visit various tables in the Bible and discover what they say about our spiritual hunger and thirst. From that fateful bite in the garden to the final feast in Revelation, satisfaction comes from a right relationship with our Creator. You’re invited to a feast. Pull up a chair and taste and see that the Lord is good.
I AM (7-Days)
One of the most profound names of God is, “I Am.” God revealed this name to Moses at the burning bush. But who is this mysterious and all-powerful “I am?” Jesus revealed his divine nature and heart toward us through seven “I am” statements in the book of John. Just as his name implies, discover how the great “I am” provides everything we need to love and follow him.
It would be hard to sum up my year without including the online membership community I started in January 2023, the Writers’ Bloc. We are a community of writers (fiction and non, published and not, professional and new) who want to grow in the art and heart of writing. Each week, we feature new interviews and teachings from industry experts and up-and-comers that encourage us to love God, love words, and love readers.
If you’re interested in learning more, I’m offering a FREE 1-month membership. No contracts and you can cancel at any time. Just hop over here and check out the Bloc. (Offer ends January 7, 2024)
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say it’s the friendliest neighborhood around.
That’s a Wrap!
I’m so blessed by you, dear reader! Thank you for supporting my work and words. May we all see God’s Word and his world with a little more beauty, and with a little more cursive, in 2024.
Soli Deo Gloria,
P.S. Did you have a favorite post? I’d love to know, let me know in the comments below.