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Enduring Words

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We have just come back from a lovely holiday in France. It was a holiday booked for 2020, and this year it finally happened. Some of you might know the place, it’s Le Pas Opton, a holiday centre run by Spring Harvest Holidays. As it was a holiday in term time, there were no groups and clubs for the kids, but there were morning devotions. I went along to most of them, as well as the evening ones The music is always interesting. You see, I grew up Psalms-only in the Netherlands, using the Geneva Psalter, translated from French in 1773. The Genevan psalms came out well before that and were translated by a Dutch pastor. He did a good job, and some churches, especially in the south of the Netherlands, still use his metrical version. It’s not the easiest to sing, especially if you don’t stick to singing syllables. So, one of the synods actually asked for good metrical versions to be written, and they received entries from poetry societies, pastors and people who had written some of the p

Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness by Allison Symes

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  Image Credit:  Images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Given we are now into autumn, I thought it apt to use part of Keats’ well loved poem as my title here. There is one big problem with fruitfulness. It takes time. It is not an overnight thing. You can see the immediate parallels with the writing life I’m sure. This is why I feel it is so important to love writing.  I’ve tried to go into things with my eyes wide open knowing I am going to get rejections and no hears. Every writer does. But you also know (a) this is part of your apprenticeship as a writer and (b) you get used to it given enough time.  What keeps you going is loving what you do. But it took me a long time to get to that point. (It helps me a lot to know that most writers experience Imposter Syndrome too. It was a relief to know it wasn’t just me).  Sometimes fruitfulness comes when you finally learn to target your work to the right market for it. It took me ages to do that.  So I know now in a way I didn’t

Breaing boundaries?

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  When I lived in Nigeria, 19 years ago, there were months of unpaid salary but I would never eat foods cooked with dog, cat, frog or snake meat. These are delicacies in some cuisines but I wasn’t brought up to see such as food! My family kept dogs, cats, rabbits and even monkeys as pets and they feature in my books [Their Journey, Stories for Younger Generations, Stories from The Heart and my poetry collections].   It would have been breaking the boundaries of my ethics. During the Biafra War in Nigeria, some people broke their food boundaries to survive. I’m sure in God’s eyes, they didn’t break any boundary; my opinion. Did Prophet Hosea break boundaries marrying a harlot? I recently published a Christian fantasy fiction about Eliana, a sex worker, in ‘The Captive’s Crown’ who found redemption! This resulted in some graphic scenes. Did I break boundaries of Christian genre conventions? For some Christian readers, this read might break their reading boundaries. To encourage such

Final Interview

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 Clive Staples Lewis, one of the greatest Christian writers of the 20th century, gave a final interview to Sherwood Eliot Wirt for the Christian Broadcasting Network before his death in 1963. Wirt found his quarry at Cambridge in spartan surroundings, seated 'at a plain table bearing an old fashioned alarm clock and inkwell': Wirt:   Professor Lewis, if you had a young friend with some interest in writing on christian subjects, how would you advise him to prepare himself? Lewis:   I would say if a man was going to write on chemistry, he learns chemistry. The same is true of christianity. But to speak of the craft itself, I would not know how to advise. It is a matter of talent and interest. I believe he must be strongly moved if he is to become a writer. Writing is like a 'lust', or like scratching when you itch. Writing comes as a result of a very strong impulse, and when it does come, I for one must get it out. Wirt:   Can you suggest an approach that would spark the

Are you putting yourself out there? Don’t be shy.

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If you were a self-employed plumber, electrician or builder, would you cower away from advertising your services?  If you bake cakes, clean houses or provide child care would you tell people or just pray and expect God to intervene?  Of course not.  If you want to work and put a roof over your head, you let people know by any means possible, you blow your own trumpet and it is considered acceptable.  So, why are authors so different?                              When you consider the hours that you put into producing a wonderful work of art, isn’t it worth letting people know?  We believe it was good enough to publish and hope that people will buy it, but they have to be aware of it to be able to decide.  I realise that we are all on different levels, with different abilities when it comes to marketing.  I spent 10 years as a self-employed builder, 24 years heading up a charity and now I’m back to being self-employed.  In total, I have had 41 years of ‘selling myself’ but I still r

WHAT A JOY!

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  We have just had the most amazing weekend with an incredible friend and her husband. I first encountered Joy Velykorodnyy (or Joy Vee, as she is known in writing circles) a little over 18 months ago. Joy had recently published her first book, The Treasure Man , with Instant Apostle, and I read an article that she had written. In it she described how the book came about as if downloaded, and the surprise publishing offer she was made. Her story so resonated with mine, that I reached out. By email, if my memory serves. Joy graciously replied and offered a Zoom meet – she was based in Scotland at the time, and I in Wales. That first Zoom call was just what I needed, especially when Joy offered to pray for me. Several zoom and messenger chats followed, and we became mutual encouragers, sharing and praying for each other regularly, if from a distance. We had never met face to face until last weekend, when Joy and her lovely husband made the long trek over to visit us. What a joy! Literall

God Save the King!

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  It seems that there are practical limits to even the most deeply held belief. Take Male Headship, for example. As far as I know, nobody ever protested against our late Queen’s rule on the grounds that women should not have authority over men. If they did, they can relax again now. But back in the sixteenth century, as followers may remember from my blog in 2016, John Knox, the revered pioneer of the Scottish Reformation, had precisely such reservations about Queen Elizabeth I. For Knox, the clear teaching of Scripture said that women should not rule, and he advocated that all classes of society had a duty to overthrow female rulers. It’s interesting how the clear teaching of Scripture can mellow over time! For me the passing of our great Queen was a relief. I felt relieved that she had run her race, finished the course, and was ready to receive her real crown; I felt happy for her that she no longer had to watch the nation she loved being trashed and the Christian principles she uphe