This is a guest post by my friend, Faith Blum. :D
She is hosting a giveaway on her blog. Read this post for details on how to win an Advanced Reader copy of Be Thou My Vision and an ebook copy of Aundy by Shanna Hatfield.
The church was empty when I dragged myself out of the pew and headed out the door. As I opened the door, the corner of my eye caught a flicker of movement which I chose to ignore. I walked down the steps and was nearly bowled over by two wild boys. With arms grown strong and quick from man-handling two brothers growing up, I grabbed the two boys before they had a chance to escape me.
Anna Stuart is comfortable with her life. She may be a 30 year old spinster, but she has her routine and enjoys taking care of her father and older brother. One letter shatters all her routines, comfort, and enjoyment. After learning of her brother’s death, Anna feels like her life will never be the same again.
Then she meets two motherless boys. Did God place them in her life to lead her to a new vision of life? Can she trust God to give her the desires of her heart before she even knows what they are?
By Faith Blum, author of the book A Mighty Fortress
I think the hardest part of writing "Be Thou My Vision" was writing the sermons. I only have two (or three) in the book and they are both fairly short, but let me tell you, they were hard to write! First of all, it was nerve-wracking to write a sermon because I didn't want to make any major theological errors. Secondly, the sermons had to be historically accurate, too! Preaching styles have changed quite a bit since the 1870s. Here are just a few of those differences:
- Most people during that time thought they were Christians simply because they went to church or had a spiritual experience at a revival meeting.
- Preachers often preached "brimstone and hellfire" sermons.
- Pastors were more candid about sin
- Terminology was slightly different
When writing the sermons, I had to be careful to keep all of this in mind and I still don't know for sure if I got it all right. I'm sure I messed up somewhere. When editing the sermons, I decided to edit more for theological accuracy rather than historical accuracy. Read below for the first fully-written sermon in "Be Thou My Vision":
“Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter seven.” Pastor Miles Jenkins waited until the rustling of pages quieted down. “We will read verses seven through twelve.”
“'Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
“‘Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.'
“This passage talks about those who know something about God’s kingdom, but still seek out His will for their lives or have yet to come to know Him as their personal Savior. There is a giant difference between going to church and knowing Jesus personally. Those who only go to church without a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ will go to hell.
“Are you one of those people who comes to this house of God, but you don’t read your Bible or know Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Or perhaps you are one of those who believe that all the good deeds you do will get you to heaven. The Bible is very specific and clear about that very issue.
“In this passage, Jesus explains how to know His as your personal Savior in a simple, yet difficult, formula. Ask, seek, and knock. Ask God your questions. Seek His answers in the Bible through prayer and asking your pastor or a friend who knows the Lord. And then comes the hardest step: Knocking. Knock on the door and ask God for His free gift of salvation.
“Why is this part so hard? Because we think salvation should be harder than simply knocking and asking. I have heard the question, 'Don't we have to DO something before God will accept us?’ many times. Or sometimes it is said this way, 'Isn't there something we can DO to earn God's favor?'
“The Bible answers that question with a resounding 'No'! No, there is nothing you need to, or can, do to earn salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, 'For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.' Faith, not works. I guess we should add that to the list. Ask, Seek, Believe, Have faith, Knock, Accept. That's all there is to it. Simple? Perhaps. Belief and faith do not come easily.”
Pastor Jenkins looked toward the back wall; his eyes avoided eye contact for the first time during this sermon. “Although I grew up in a God-fearing home, I had a hard time accepting it for myself and making Jesus my personal Savior. And even after I came to a personal faith in Christ, having faith was often hard. When I knocked and accepted Jesus as Lord of my life, keeping my faith in line with God's word was, and is, the hardest thing I have ever done. Yes, even harder than watching my wife die. Even harder than accepting that her death would ultimately be for the best somehow.”
Pastor Jenkins cleared his throat and wiped the tears out of his eyes. “But that faith is what brought me through all those trials and it will continue to do so in the future. Every day I struggle and every day that I persevere is sweeter than the day before.
“How many of you have faith, but struggle with it? Know this, God is stronger than your trial or temptation and, if you ask, He will help you and guide you through.
“How many of you have yet to believe and put your faith in Him? God is seeking you. Do not hide from Him like the Old Testament prophet, Jonah did. Jonah was told to warn the Ninevites that they needed to repent or their city would be destroyed. He disobeyed, thinking he could hide from God. God found him and Jonah spent three days and nights in the belly of a big fish. When God let him out of the fish, Jonah completed his mission.
“God seeks you just as you are. He knows you are a sinner condemned to hell. All He cares about is that you come to Him so He can save you from an eternity without Him. God does not want a single person to go to hell.
“Are you hiding from God today? Why are you hiding? Is your faith less than you desire it to be? Trust God and ask Him for help. Seek His face. Believe He can help you. Have faith He will accomplish His work in you. Knock on His door and accept His help and be ready for Him to want you to change.”
Pastor Jenkins looked over the sanctuary. For a fleeting second, I thought he looked me straight in the eye, asking me those questions personally. Then he concluded, “Let us spend a minute or two in silent prayer. After that time, I will close us in prayer.”
About the Author
An avid reader, Faith Blum started writing at an early age. Whether it was a story about the camping trip that summer or a more creative story about fictional characters, she has always enjoyed writing. When not writing, Miss Blum enjoys reading, crafting, playing piano, leading on the Holy Worlds Christian Writing Forum and playing games with her family (canasta, anyone?). As a history enthusiast who has been fascinated for years with the Old West, Faith has endeavored to create a clean, fun, and challenging Western story. Faith lives with her family on a hobby farm in the Northern Midwest, where she enjoys the many cats they have.
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To preorder a copy, just follow this link: Go Here. ;)
To enter the giveaway for an Advanced Reader copy of Be Thou My Vision and an ebook copy of Aundy by Shanna Hatfield go to Faith’s blog and leave a comment to either ask her a question, or make a comment about what you think about the article.