Pola Muzyka

Guest Post by the author of Escape from Hezbollah, Pola Muzyyka

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Depression is a stronghold that Christians and pre-Christians alike struggle with on a regular basis. Receiving Christ does not automatically remove depression from our lives. Christ gives us the strength to endure during our vulnerable times.

Depression is on the rise because of the economy. Many have lost homes, jobs, and even their health. Seasonal Affective Disorder mostly prevalent in winter, can prevent us from getting proper elements from the sun, outdoor exercise, and fresh air. This can also cause a physiological depression.

When depression sets in people self medicate, withdraw, or rebel in different ways — some rebellion contributes to the rise in criminal activity. Criminal activity increases victimization. Victims feel helpless and this also causes depression.

Security in our world today is no longer completely possible. Extreme weather patterns can even cause pain. How can we know what tomorrow will bring? Depression can set in at first as hopelessness, anger, pain, or a feeling of defeat. Once depression takes hold it can attack our bodies and even our lives. One of the enemy’s greatest weapons of mass destruction is depression.

Biblical tips to overcome depression:

1. Remember that you’re not alone in this battle. If you’ve received Christ, Jesus is there with you. Reach out to him. If you haven’t received Christ yet, follow the steps in Free from the Stronghold of Lies.

Philippians 4:6-7 Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. 7Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.

2. Speak with someone you trust who can pray with you and give you good Biblical advice.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two people are better than one because together they have a good reward for their hard work.

Matthew 18:19-21 “I can guarantee again that if two of you agree on anything here on earth, my Father in heaven will accept it. 20Where two or three have come together in my name, I am there among them.”

3. Trust God to see you through. Gratitude for what God has given you and hopeful expectation of what He will give you can increase endorphins, which decreases depression.

John 10:10 A thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But I came so that my sheep will have life and so that they will have everything they need.

4. Don’t dwell on your problems. That won’t solve anything. Keep your thoughts focused on the things God has done for you and on the good things in your life.

Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable.9Practice what you’ve learned and received from me, what you heard and saw me do. Then the God who gives this peace will be with you.

5. Be pro-active. Move forward with positive actions. These good things you do will clear some of the reasons for your depression.

James 2:18 Another person might say, “You have faith, but I do good things.” Show me your faith apart from the good things you do. I will show you my faith by the good things I do.

6. Recognize and pray about the situations that cause you pain and anger before they turn into depression. Remember we are fighting to overcome a stronghold, not each other or even the situation.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 Of course we are human, but we don’t fight like humans. 4The weapons we use in our fight are not made by humans. Rather, they are powerful weapons from God. With them we destroy people’s defenses, that is, their arguments 5and all their intellectual arrogance that oppose the knowledge of God. We take every thought captive so that it is obedient to Christ.

Ephesians 4:31 Get rid of your bitterness, hot tempers, anger, loud quarreling, cursing, and hatred.

Written by Christian author, Pola Muzyka.

You can purchase Pola’s novel Escape From Hezbollah and my novel Hummingbird from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine booksellers.

Blessings to you!

David

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February 18, 2013

*Genesis 13:14– The Lord said to Abram after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are–northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you…

Abraham was in a fix: here his nephew Lot had quarreled with him over landowner’s rights, who should get which part of the property, and to keep peace, he’d given him the best of the land.

Now he was discouraged. He’d traveled far in hopes receiving this property from God, and now half of it belonged to someone else. But The Lord chose just that moment to draw Abraham aside, encouraging him to get his eyes off the current situation and back onto God’s original promise. “Lift up your eyes,” He said, “and look from the place where you now are.”

It’s natural to look down; to focus on our current, negative situation. It’s super-natural to lift your eyes beyond your problem to God’s word.

God then told Abraham: all the land which you see, I give to you, communicating that if Abraham would dare to envision himself receiving all God had promised, even in the face of contradictory evidence, he’d ultimately experience the fullness of God’s blessing. Nothing in this world, no quarrelsome human being, or even a devil from Hell, can circumvent the good things God has sworn to give His children.

History records that Abraham did indeed inherit all the land. So let me encourage you to imitate his faith today. Lift up your eyes from the place where you now are.  For if you’ll focus your vision on God’s promise, everything you see will be given you.

Today’s Prayer: Father, I choose this day to lift my eyes from the place where I now am. Instead, I’ll focus on the blessings you’ve promised in your word. I expect to receive those blessings, each and every one, and thank you in advance for giving them to me.

 

*This devotional is from David’s 30-day devotional Encouraging Word, Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore and other fine retailers.

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The first question that needs to be asked about writing Christian fiction is, Who is the writer’s audience? Most Christian writers write for the Christian market, and the publishers in CBA (the acronym for publishers in that market) buy and solicit novels they hope will sell, based on the sales records and buyers’ demographics—which consist mostly of white, American females in their thirties with a high school education only, small children at home, and not extremely traveled or “worldy” in the more general sense of the word. These readers who are targeted by the CBA booksellers and publishers have very narrow tastes, and for an author to want to sell in that market, they have to tailor their novels to fit. Which, to reiterate, provides a very limited canvas on which to create.

What is meant by “effective”? If the goal of author/agent/editor/publisher is to sell books to entertain believers, then an author who writes such a book that sells well is “effectively” accomplishing the goals aimed for.

But there is another group of writers who want to be effective in a different way, and I am one of them. I don’t write for fun. I don’t write to entertain other Christians. I feel a pressing calling from God to reach out to the lost in the world, to those who have no hope and do not know a plan of salvation has been executed on their behalf and is being offered to them. I look at my writing as 100% ministry, and my efforts and prayers are all directed toward those ends. I take the views of authors like Flannery O’Conner and Madeline L’Engle who felt strongly that their writing should honestly and even painfully reflect the true state of the human condition, of sin, and all its ugliness without censoring. I was told pointedly by a senior editor at one of the largest CBA publishing houses that a Christian should never write for unbelievers. She should only write for Christians, and hope that some believer, for example, at her work would pass on the book to a non-Christian. Shock aside, I completely disagreed with her. I feel that, if this is truly the view of CBA overall, it shows the intent of this collective publishing endeavor is way off, and missing the heart of God. And to me, that paints a very sad picture indeed.

Censoring is a big thing in CBA because the typical CBA reader does not want to look at the down and dirty condition of humanity. She wants a clean, sweet, entertaining read that will upbuild her and make her happy. Not make her face life as it really is, and make her think deeply and outside the “safe cocoon” of the Christian life. Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule, but I feel the writers who work hard in their ministry to reach the lost through their fiction, to be effective, need to do what author Tim Downs suggests—to woo the world back to God. To plant seeds and let God water them, for this isn’t a time of harvest but a time of planting and watering. Gone are the days of pounding people over the head with the Bible and decrying their sin and telling them to “repent for the end is near.”

Yes, we know we have a responsibility to preach the kingdom before the end comes, but it has been proven over time that “wooing” readers by sharing an honest worldview, as did writers like O’Connor and L’Engle, draws people to God more than preaching at them. And sadly, I have read way too many Christian novels that made me cringe and that I found appalling in their blatant preachiness that often not just bordered on but crossed the line into harsh judgment and abject scare tactics and manipulation. Those types of books offend me, so I can only imagine how much they would offend someone who does not know God or the Bible. I wasn’t raised in the church; I was raised a Jewish atheist, and so understand why God is using me to write the kinds of novels I write. I know what it’s like to be preached at and to be offended by certain phrasing and terms. It took me years before I could even say the name Jesus without a bad taste in my mouth, and it’s sad so many Christians (who were raised “in the church”) have no sensibilities at all toward those who come from such a different worldview and upbringing. We are to be “all things to all people” according to the apostle Paul in order to “win” others to Christ, and pushing our agenda in our fiction to force Christianity on others is not in line with his wise admonition.

Many Christians in CBA publishing would disagree with me, and are offended by my remarks and reactions to so many books in CBA. I feel hard-hitting, preachy books not only do a disservice to God, they turn people away from him and, in effect, serve the purposes of the Enemy, who wants nothing more than to chase people away from their Creator. Authors of those books will say they are not writing for nonbelievers. Yet, what are they thinking will happen when a nonbeliever picks up their book—purposely or incidentally—and reads it? If that novel subsequently turns them further from God because of its offensive presentation, even though it is hailed by Christians as a great read, what are we to think? I’ll leave that to you to decide. I don’t blame many nonbeliever critics of Christian fiction at all, and well, I would invite them to read my novels, and those of other Christian writers who share my view. The greatest joys I have had as a published author are the comments from readers, who are not Christian, telling me how moved they were when they read my books and how the topic of religion and faith was so nicely handled and did not offend, so much so it got them thinking. That’s why I write, and to me, that’s evidence of effectiveness of the best kind.

http://www.cslakin.com

C. S. Lakin writes novels in numerous genres, focusing mostly on contemporary psychological mysteries and allegorical fantasy. Her novel Someone to Blame (contemporary fiction) won the 2009 Zondervan First Novel competition 2009 (published October 2010). Lakin’s Gates of Heaven fantasy series for adults (AMG-Living Ink Publishers) features original full-length fairy tales in traditional style. Already in print are the first books in the series, The Wolf of Tebron and The Map across Time, with five more to follow. In addition to her mysteries and fantasy series, she has also written the first book in a Young Adult sci-fi adventure series: Time Sniffers, slated to be published. Her contemporary mystery Innocent Little Crimes made the top one hundred finalists in the 2009 Amazon Breakout Novel Award contest, earning her a Publisher’s Weekly review which stated her book was “a page-turning thrill-ride that will have readers holding their breaths the whole way through.”

Lakin currently works as a freelance copyeditor and writing mentor, specializing in helping authors prepare their books for publication. She is a member of The Christian PEN (Proofreaders and Editors Network), CEN (Christian Editor Network), CAN (Christian Authors Network—regular blogger), ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association), and two regional writers’ groups. She edits for individuals, small publishing companies, and literary agents, and teaches workshops and does critiques at writers’ conferences, and occasionally guest blogs on writing sites.

She recently completed Intended for Harm, a contemporary take-off on the biblical story of Jacob and Joseph and is developing a swashbuckling dog memoir in the style of Moby Dick entitled A Dog after God’s Own Heart. She lives in Santa Cruz, CA, with her husband Lee, a gigantic lab named Coaltrane, and three persnickety cats.