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Contending for the faith
And my writing process.
This piece is AI-free. These words are my creation without the mechanics of non-human artificial intelligence.
Someone once asked me, “How long does it take to write because it seems like the kind of posts you write would be a lot of work?” She was not wrong, and it can take a while to bring a post to completion, but I enjoy the process.
Are there frustrations along the way? Oh, yes, plenty. For me, the frustration usually starts with technology and ends with social media. I’ll stop there.
Moving to Substack alleviated some of the frustration. I no longer manage a website, and I’ve scaled back on social media (a time hog).
Stick around if you’d like a peek into my writing process, such as it is.
First, let me share about my ‘why.’ Years ago, I began using the phrase “stories of life, faith, and family” as the tagline for my blog. Those categories helped remind me of what’s important, and that readers could probably relate to the same.
While I loved categorizing posts by life, faith, and family, I have decided to retire that tagline, and here’s the reason.
1. When I first started writing on a traditional website, it was customary to use categories as a way for readers to find posts on a particular topic or theme. Here on Substack, categories are not available, and I’m okay with that because categories as an online trend have diminished in popularity.
2. More importantly, today, I find I write with a little more intention and focus. This shifted in 2020, as I sought to bring words of encouragement and hope to readers during a turbulent season.
Now, there are times when I include a personal experience in a newsletter post or share something more lighthearted. This will still happen from time to time but lately, God has been impressing upon me the importance of sharing the truth of His word.
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. Jude 3 (ESV)
In praying about my writing ‘why’, the Lord reminded me of this verse in Jude. In the short time it took me to grab my Bible, turn to Jude, and read verse three, I realized God is leading me to contend for the faith in my writing.
Friend, you can also contend for the faith.
Wherever you are. Whoever you spend time with. No matter what your day or week looks like. You can contend for the faith, and our world needs you to do so.
Your contending may look different than mine. You may do it while serving on a committee at your child’s school, among co-workers in the breakroom, or sitting down for dinner with the family. Or maybe there’s a writer or two reading this!
In his short book of one chapter, Jude wrote to followers of Jesus, imploring them to contend for the faith.
Theology professor and author Patrick Schreiner said, “Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, writes because the time has come to contend for the faith. Armor must be donned. The sword of the Spirit must be taken up. The shield of faith must be raised.”1
In summary, as followers of Jesus, we are to fight against false teachings, spiritual attacks, and immorality (this was Jude’s warning to his New Testament audience). At times, it may be a struggle to contend rightly, but we model ourselves after Jesus, walking in love and grace. We also walk in authority, guided by the Spirit of God, declaring the truth of His word.
Contending for the faith through writing.
As I’m contending by writing, here’s something of my process. It all starts with an IDEA; one that most often comes during my study of Scripture. On occasion, the idea comes from a book I’m reading, a conversation with a friend, or during a worship service at church, but it always connects back to God’s word.
When an idea comes, I usually want to run full steam ahead. In faith-based writing, however, PRAYER is the seedbed of what God has for me to share. In praying, He nurtures the idea.
Currently, I use a Scripture study journal to capture my ideas. This journal asks questions related to Bible study. How does the context impact the meaning of the passage? What is the author trying to teach the original audience? How does this passage point to Christ?
After working through the journal questions, I move to RESEARCH, which includes study bibles, online tools, bible handbooks, commentaries, and more. Depending on the piece I’m working on, research usually takes a reasonable amount of time.
After the idea, prayer, and research phases, it’s time to WRITE. To be clear, this is the humble, rambling phase. At least half of what I write here will probably be thrown out! Yes, I’m serious, but you must begin somewhere.
After writing for a few hours, or over several days, it is not unusual to be reminded I need help from the Lord to pull this all together. So, I will PRAY AGAIN. Then, it’s time to narrow down the points I want to present to readers.
At some point, I may get weary. When this happens, I will take a break to double-check references and create graphics. Working on the visual side of things helps me break through a writing block. I don’t understand why, but I’ve learned to lean into it.
When I get back to writing my head is cleared, and I often FINISH the piece in short order. I try to ‘sleep on it’ for at least twenty-four hours. The next day, it’s highly likely I will spot needed changes to what I’ve written.
The reason I share this process is not to suggest I am doing something outstanding or impressive. I share this with you to point out that contending for the faith requires time and preparation.
Whether you do it through writing or other means, you may find helpful points in my process as you contend for the faith.
Idea — God lays something on your heart to do or share, to contend for the faith.
Prayer — Pray for that seed of an idea to grow.
Research — Search your Bible and other resources, as needed, to prepare to contend effectively.
Action — Step into the opportunity that comes your way.
Pray Again — Keep praying. The enemy will always try to distract and discourage you from contending for the faith.
Finish — In obedience, share the truth of God’s word, in love, as He leads you.
And He has promised to keep you.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy… Jude 24 (ESV)
As you contend for the faith, remember to keep your eyes on the One Who alone has the power to keep you, both in this life and for eternity with Him.
The Visual Word: Illustrated Outlines of the New Testament Books. copyright 2021. by Patrick Schreiner. Moody Publishers.