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Women Who Win

Write the Vision! 

 

God had a great idea. He wanted to publish a book. He had the matter but He needed writers, editors, publishers, promoters, etc. God started planning and working from the scratch. He looked around for the right candidate to start and his eyes fell on a little baby. He said, “Right, I can make this boy write though he will turn out to be a stammerer. But let me put him through some training.” It was a very costly training. He had to be separated from his parents to go to a hostel where he’d be trained. Thus the child Moses became mighty in “Words” (Acts 7:22). Moses was spared a homicide because he had to write an important book.

When Moses had lost all faith in himself God said, “You write.” “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered” said God (Ex 17:14a). Thus was birthed the history of the Bible. From this miniscule start, Moses went on to write the Pentateuch, that has stood the test of times, not only as a spiritual masterpiece but also as a literary jewel.

It is interesting to note that God Himself wrote with His finger in the original manuscript. “When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, He gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God” (Ex 31:18; 32:15, 16,32). That shows how much He was involved in His book.

The Writer: I think the above introdu- ction is enough for us to realize the awesomeness of writing for God. Biblical writers spoke (or wrote) as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but HOLY MEN of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:20,21).

Religious writing is a prophetic ministry. Herein is the quintessence - holiness. We can hear the Lord more clearly if we come to Him with a clean heart. The writer should not think he can just study the Scriptures and write something. “To the wicked person, God says: What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips?” (Psa 50:16-20).

It would be naive to think that the writer need be a paragon of virtue. But he should be one who fears the Lord and loves holiness. A writer may be charged, “You write, but you don’t live up to your writings.” The writer and others must have in mind that he is a human being on whom God is still working. The verse in NIV goes like this. “Prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, THOUGH HUMAN, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Neither Moses nor David or Paul - the three prolific writers of the Bible were perfect. So let us be encouraged. As we walk along the path of perfection we keep writing.

Writing is a prophetic ministry and should not be taken lightly. The writer must be spiritually sensitive to know the mind of the Lord. His heart must be close enough to God’s heart to understand its beatings. Moses was in touch with God, not through facebook but face to face. Then the writer must be able to put it in black and white so that God’s heart and mind will be made plain to people. The writer is literally a pen in God’s hand. God’s ideas must flow from Him to the paper through the writer.

This is what we see in the case of Habbakuk. Israel was being whipped by the barbaric Babylonians and Habbakuk had many questions to ask God. How will he approach God? How could he know the mind of God? Habbakuk made some special efforts to get close to God.

Let’s see the setting in which Habbakuk wrote. “I will stand at my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected. Then the Lord answered me and said: ‘Write the Vision and make it plain on tablets, so that he may run who reads it’ ” (Hab 2:1,2). “Watch” literally means to look and wait expectantly, mentally alert, in anticipation. Habbakuk was standing still, lest he miss anything. He climbed up the rampart or tower in an attempt to be on higher grounds where he could listen to God clearly, undisturbed.

A writer who has dedicated himself to reveal God’s mind to people must live close to God. He must have a dedicated mind. He must “stand” before God, alert, and not be at ease, casually listening to God, half-heartedly. His ears must be cocked to hear God and not let any word drop out of his concentration. He waits for God’s message for ‘him.’ It is not some message he writes. He writes down the message that God personally entrusts to him. ‘The Word of the Lord’ must come to the writer, or else he will feel empty. He may keep getting heart-sparks like blips on a video screen, now and then — as he is eating or lolling, as he is reading or in travel. He immediately jots it down or else it may drop off his brain.

Another window opens into a writer’s life in Psalm 45. It is a prophetic psalm about the Lord Jesus Christ and His bride, the church. The writer received the theme in his heart. “My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer” (v1). He knew it was a message for the Lord, because when the thought or the theme sparked in his heart, his heart was stirred. An anointed writer will experience this ‘heart-stirring’ before he writes. It is an unexplainable feeling, a feeling of your heart jumping in your chest case. The NKJV calls the experience as an ‘overflowing.’ The writer could not keep it to himself. He started singing it to the King of kings and then for the sake of the future generations, put it down on paper. He had his ‘writing kit at his side’ so that he could quickly note down his thoughts before it faded away from his memory (Eze 9:11). “Moses then wrote down everything the Lord had said” (Ex 24:4).

Why Write?: Till the time of Moses, human history was passed on from generation to generation through word-of-mouth transmission. It was Moses who first wrote down in all accuracy, the history from creation. If today we have to depend on what somebody teaches us from what he heard from someone about creation Kings, Prophets, life of Christ and the Apostles’ teachings, just imagine the utter chaos we’ll be in! Today it is all in black and white giving no place to dispute. Memory cannot replace records.

Moses’ writing was put to immediate use. “Keep this book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Josh 1:8). What would Joshua  have done without this ready reference? When Joshua wanted to build an altar, he quickly turned the pages of Moses (Josh 8:31). Now do you understand why God urged Moses to write? Jesus used Scripture to defeat the devil (Mt 4:4). It was useful for the Jews to recognize John Baptist and Jesus when they arrived on the scene (Mt 11:10; Jn 1:45). If not written, how would they have recognized them?  Moses set the example, emphasizing the importance of writing and probably taught the principles too, that, out of Zebulun came those that handled the pen of the writer (Jud 5:14c KJV). Writing became knit in the fabric of Hebrew culture. God’s Book was in the writing for thousands of years.

Havoc followed when the Book was lost. People lost their vision and went astray. “Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This, Josiah did to fulfil the requirements of the law written in the Book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of the Lord (2Ki 23:24). This is what happens when the vision is not written or if the written vision is lost (1Chron 28:19). Kings were supposed to keep a copy of the law with them (Dt 17:18).

The coming generations should not be left without a message. Not just the Scriptures but God has been using men and women to bless unborn generations with the inspirations He gave them. “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord” (Psa 102:18). It is a legacy we leave behind. “When you sell a book to a man, you don’t sell him just 12 ounces of paper and ink and glue - you sell him a whole new life” said Christopher Morley.

Why write? John the Apostle gives the reason: “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (Jn 20:31). All through the Scriptures people needed revival. A dullness, a coldness, a routine and ritual lull people into a sleep mode. Every now and then they need a jolt, a shot in the arm, an awakening and a revival. That’s why we must keep on writing, warning, encouraging, waking up, pushing and pulling them towards God (1 Jn 2:1,26).

The devil also has his employees to churn out false teachings to flood Christendom. we need to counteract them and protect the flock.

Can I try my hand at Writing? you may ask. Why not? You don’t choose writing; writing chooses you. In the beginning your writings may be rudimentary and amateurish. But if you feel God stirring up your heart, you should keep at it even though you may feel incompetent. Once you sort out the initial hiccups, you will become more confident. Moses was singularly ill-equipped for the task, that God had to literally drag him by the collar to do His job. Even though all can write, it must be accepted that some have a natural flair for writing; or in spiritual language — the gift of writing. It is an itch they have to scratch. If you recognize the seeds in you, keep watering it. That means to keep at your fledgling efforts, whether it gets published or not. Unused muscles atrophy. Make it a habit. You have become a writer, albeit in embryo. Don’t be scared of mistakes. Seventy years of mistakes built me up. Keep honing your writing skill. You may take a training too or do a course in journalism. Improve your language and knowledge by reading lot of books. Your adoration of books will be translated in good writing. It will up your success rate. Have a diary to  note down idioms, proverbs, expressions, quotes and illustrations that you may tuck in, in your writings. Glean kernels of practical wisdom from magazines and books you read.

There is a dearth of Christian literature in the vernacular. If you write in your native tongue you must have a storehouse of proverbs, idioms and short poems in that language. For example, Thirukural in Tamil writing will gladden the hearts of readers. One thing to remember is, never to use your vitriolic pen for personal attacks.

Many are those who have the potential but do not put their pen to paper. They preach, shuttle frenziedly across the world, immerse themselves in administration, and their life  is gone. We must leave these alluring jobs to those gifted in those ministries and give ourselves to writing (Acts 6:2-4). It does not mean we should not do other things. They add flavour to our writings. But if writing is close to your heart, then commit yourself to writing. You have to decide what’s important. Keep your priorities straight and remember that the pen is mightier than the gun.

Now we come to the nub of the issue — The contents. What do we write? “Write the Vision” means the writer must have a vision, or as the NIV puts it ‘a revelation.’ He must hear from God. One need not ask, “How do I hear?” When you hear, you will know, and you’d want others to hear it. Sometimes you will sit down to write and be scratching your head, throwing paper balls into the waste paper basket. Other times you will have difficulty writing at the speed of the thoughts that bombard you. Don’t worry, both are ok.

Luke took extreme care in writing the Gospel according to Luke and the Book of Acts. He was particular about accuracy. This is a must for a writer. If a writer is not theologically accurate he will be misleading many. So Luke collected firsthand information from eye witnesses and servants of the word (Lk 1:1-4). Before putting it down as words, he himself, not from hearsay, carefully investigated everything, not some facts, but all details to make a flawless writeup. Do not take a casual attitude when it comes to writing.

In the Book of Daniel, the Book is mentioned as the Book of Truth (10:21). When we write we must make sure it is truth and nothing but the truth. It is better that our writings go through the scrutiny of a sound Biblical scholar. An oft repeated phrase in the Bible is, “It is written.” We must take care to confine our writings to the boundary of the written Word, that is the Bible. “Brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, ‘Do not go beyond what is written” (1Cor 4:6). We must learn to “rightly divide the word of truth” (NKJV) or “correctly handle the word of truth” (NIV) (2 Tim 2:15).

During Luke’s time many were writing down whatever information they could gather about Jesus. But only a few were found fit to be published. If we write, it should be good enough — the content, the presentation and the language. The religious market is deluged with books. So avoid type casting. Does your writing have something what the others lack? Does it have quality? Will a reader recommend it to others? A good book is one of the finest things the world has to offer. The quality of the contents depends on the time the author spends with God’s word. Milk is the word. You need to take out the butter.  Consult Study Bibles and other means within your reach. “The Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh BY THE WORD OF THE LORD. And THE WORD OF SAMUEL came to all Israel (1 Sam 3:21; 4:1).

The ultimate purpose of Christian writing is to confirm the faith of the reader. Article after article, book after book, do the job. There is a strong undercurrent of spiritual knowledge. Supply it. Wake up the conscience of people and rekindle the vision.

One can write evangelistic messages for unbelievers, edifying articles for believers, stories for children or songs for worship. Israel had a song book to minister through songs at the temple which today we call as the Psalms. They are rich in prophetic content. Song writers also must wait on the Lord to receive a ‘message’ or ‘theme’ (Dt 31:19,22,25), for the songs they plan to write. Songs must be rich in word content, whether they be songs of praise, supplication or thanksgiving. It must minister to the hearts of people and bring joy to the heart of God.

A catchy title, a striking thought, an interesting illustration, an experience of the author, good language and an appealing format make the reader to sit glued to the end.

We may not be able to do the article or book in one sitting. We may have to write, rewrite, alter, delete, add, change, improve the language, insert pictures, etc. Some magazines are so full of grammar and spelling mistakes that make one loathe to read them. Sometimes we have to collect material for the subject and then organize it. That’s what Luke did. After gathering material, he had the big job of putting the pieces “in order,” into an unifying whole, making it easy for the reader to grasp. “We do not write to you anything you cannot read or understand,” writes Paul (2 Cor 1:13).

While writing we must have the reader in mind. Matthew had the Jews in mind and Mark the Gentiles. Some may write to children while others target youth. Some write for mature believers and some for young believers. Some things in the scholarly Paul’s letters were difficult for the fisherman Peter to understand (2 Pet 3:15). The Greek and barbarian must be catered to. The matter must touch the heart of the reader and not just the head. The writing must have, not just a body but a soul and a spirit.

God told Habbabuk to, “Write the Vision and make it Plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” God’s messages must be succinctly spelt out. Moses and the elders commanded the people, when they had crossed the Jordan into Canaan, to set up “large stones” and “coat them with plaster” and “write very clearly” all the words of the law (Dt 27:1-8). They wanted the law to be written in large letters, standing bright against the plaster background (white wash with lime), very clearly, so that people need not strain to read it. God wanted Isaiah to take a “large scroll” and write on it (Isa 8:1). May be those days the prophets wrote and put it up in the temple or public places for all to read. “See what large letters I use,  as I write to you with my own hand,” wrote Paul. His writings had a signature effect (2 Thess 3:17). He had the habit of setting forth the truth “plainly” so that the reader would not be confused in any way (2 Cor 4:2).

The writer should always remember that his writing cannot be as authoritative as the Bible. Words like, “The Lord told me to write this,” should be avoided. The days of “Thus saith the Lord,” are over. The feeling that we are fallible  human beings keeps us humble. The writer must receive criticism humbly and respond politely.

The written vision spurred Habbakuk’s readers to action. It made them run. Martin Luther wrote his 99 theses and nailed it to the church door. People started to run after reading it and it makes us run even today. “The fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking” (Dan 5:5,6). The writing was not in a scroll. It was on a large, plastered wall where it would stand out, and near the lamp-stand so that it will be brightly lit in the night. That’s why it had the desired effect. The Blessing Magazine is dedicated to Revival and Evangelism and it has made its readers to run, carrying the vision to others. “Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.  Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near  the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek” (Jn 19:19,20). Note the all capitals. I suppose in their languages also it was written in prominent letters that “many” could read, people of many languages. Today Bible is the book that has enjoyed the maximum translation. Let us pray that it will set people running that, “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and LANGUAGE,” may stand before the throne in front of the lamb, wearing white robes, holding palm branches in their hands (Rev 7:9). May our writings have the same propelling force.

For our writings to have this effect we should bend our knees. As much as we intercede and prostrate at God’s feet before going up the stage to deliver a message, so much we must do before, during and after writing an article or book. A message spoken may be heard by a thousand people but a written one by thousands. What an awesome responsibility!

A writer can expect persecution for writing the truth and not for itching ears (2 Tim 4:3). Jeremiah, the prophet of doom, wrote something which neither the people nor the king wanted to read. Jeremiah was a young priest from the little town of Anathoth, a few miles northeast of Jerusalem, when the Lord called him for a specific prophetic ministry. He was reluctant because he was quite young and not a ‘speaker.’ Then the Lord reached out His hand and touched his mouth  (Jer 1:6,9). How much a writer needs this touch!

The people of Anathoth who accepted his priestly ministry were not ready to tolerate his prophetic ministry because it exposed  their sins and hurt them. They plotted to kill him (Jer 11:18,19). His prophecy was ridiculed and mocked and consigned to  flames by King Jehoiakin (Jer 20:7-11). How weary Baruch would have felt to do it all over again on a scroll with stylet! (Jer 36). Jeremiah was thrown in prison. Paul was kept in house arrest for two years during which he wrote four epistles (Acts 28:30,31; Col 4:18). The ageing apostle John was exiled to Patmos where he wrote the vision, against all odds.

How difficult it was those days to write! No paper, pen, electricity, office room, laptop, journalism, coffee, tea, printing presses, google pictures and what not. But they had the anointing. That’s all that mattered. They wrote with stylets on scrolls, labouriously, wherever they were, in the prison or in the bobbing ship, in daylight or chimney light. How much more should we!

To conclude, I would like to highlight what God told Baruch: “Do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not” (Jer 45:5). Put the emphasis on “yourself.” Seek  only God’s glory!

 

 


   Address for Correspondence & Contributions:

Lilian Stanley
13 Church Colony
Vellore 632006, India
Tel: +91 9843511943
Email: lilianstanley@gmail.com

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