More Power: Guadalupe Casillas Writes to Inspire

Guadalupe in vineyard

 

Here at Inspire, we’re thrilled that God brings us so many talented writers! Its a joy to see our writers love the Lord and serve His people with the gift of writing. Today we’re spot-lighting one such writer, Guadalupe Casillas who is teaching Bible Study classes using materials she wrote.

When did you first know that you’re a writer?

First of all, thank you Beth for this blog interview. And thank you for all the encouragement and support you offer members like me. You created a wonderful organization when you founded, Inspire Christian Writers.

It was actually after my second meeting at the Inspire group in El Dorado Hills, California that I realized I was a writer. Even though I wrote my first Bible study in 2004 and finished my second in 2010, I still didn’t see myself as a writer. When I told my critique group in 2011 that I did not considered myself a writer, they lovingly but firmly said, “Guadalupe, stop saying that. You are a writer!” Then I began to believe it.

Tell us about your writing journey. How did you get started? What training have you had?

I started writing in my journals in 2002. Mainly these journal entries are prayers to God. I only wrote when I felt God’s Holy Spirit leading me to give thanks or when my heart was burdened and I needed to ask His help. I finished High School, but I didn’t go to college. In the late 70’s in Nicaragua women stayed home to take care of their husband and children. Even if you were middle class you could afford a maid and a nanny, so I didn’t see the need to get a higher education. I also never dreamed of becoming a writer, so I didn’t have any training. I began my training at the Inspire Christian Writers conferences in Elk Grove and the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, two years ago.

 

What motivated you to write More Power Through the Fruit of the Holy Spirit?

It was more about “Who” motivated me. The Bible studies at my church had concluded for the season and we would not meet again until the Fall. I couldn’t bear the thought of not meeting for a short Bible study in the Summer. On our last study of the season, the leader mentioned that our group was so large that we would have to break into two groups. They were looking for a second leader for the Fall. We were all silent and then I said, “I would never be a Bible study leader, I enjoy sharing more in the group instead of leading it.” Oh well, God heard that! The following month I accompanied my husband to a business conference in Las Vegas where he was presenting a technical paper. I told my husband I would have a mini-retreat with God during the day while he was at the conference. As I prayed for the men and women of the city of Las Vegas and enjoyed my quiet time with God, the Lord nudged me to not only lead a summer Bible study, but to write it as well. By the way, one of my greatest passions now is to lead Bible studies!

 

As people read this Bible study, what do you hope they gain from it?

I want them to know they have an incredible source of power through the Holy Spirit to live the Christian life. We can have more love,  joy,  peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and more self-control, when we rely on God to supply us with His fruit to live a life of victory instead of defeat.

 

How did God work the truths of this study into your own life?

The closer I drew to God through Bible studies, reading His Word and listening to worship music, I began to ask Him to help me in my weaknesses. I saw how gradually I reacted with patience and kindness in situations where in the past I would’ve reacted poorly. He helps me to overcome depression and anxiety attacks by giving more of His joy and peace right when I need it, as I go to Him in prayer.
 

Were there any surprises as you wrote More Power Through the Fruit of the Holy Spirit?

Yes, I’m surprised now in how quickly I had the entire study in my head. I came home from Las Vegas with all the ideas and Bible passages. The Lord helped me finish it in three months!

 

Tell us about your next project.

I’m in the process of translating my Bible studies to Spanish. My goal is to have my second Bible study, How Do You Love God With All Your Heart? translated and ready to lead in the Fall. I’m also excited that I will be shipping my workbook to Mexico, Nicaragua, Argentina and  El Salvador, so far.
 
My passion is to see the whole world following the greatest commandment, which is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” – Deuteronomy 6:5.
 

 
What would Inspire readers be surprised to learn about you?

That English is my second language and I still struggle with it. I sometimes don’t know how to pronounce certain words that are not common, and I’m a speaker for Stonecroft Ministries. God has brought me a lot of help and continues to equip me for His glory!

I thank God for the help I’ve received through Inspire Christian Writers in editing and mastering my craft. I also thank Stonecroft Ministries for providing me with a Speaker Trainer Consultant who helped me prepare my testimony. So far, about 15 people have received Jesus as Lord and Savior through my speaking and writing, and that’s all that matters to me, to reach those who have not yet experienced the love and grace of God.

 

If you could co-write a book with any author, living or dead, who would you pick and why?

Well, that would be God! Because He is alive, He’s the greatest Author and His book, the Bible, is the best-seller in the world! In a way I have co-authored with Him with my Bible studies, because all I’m doing is using His Word to create application questions and share what He’s done in my life.

Thank you, Guadalupe for sharing bits of your writing journey with us!

Guadalupe is teaching Bible Studies based on her book, More Power Through the Fruit of the Holy Spirit at Rolling Hills Church in El Dorado Hills, California, through September. Drop in and join the study in progress or contact Guadalupe for a copy of More Power to work through with a friend or small group.

The Holy Call of Writing: Are You Called to Write?

JimDenney-2013-small-72dpiYesterday, author and guest blogger Jim Denney talked about the Holy Call of Writing. In today’s post, Jim explores how to know if you are called to write.

How do you know if you have truly been called by God to write? Let me suggest three signs that mark the life of a person who has this calling:

1. Knowledgeable people have affirmed our gifts and abilities.

We usually become aware of our spiritual gifts because other believers have affirmed those gifts in us. I’m not saying that writing per se is a spiritual gift, but if we have a spiritual gift of teaching or evangelizing or helping others through our writing, other believers will often tell us they see those gifts in us. We will also receive an affirmation of our writing ability from writing instructors, fellow writers, readers, editors who value our work, and so forth.

2. We have an unquenchable need to write.

We cannot keep from writing. We have to write. When we’re not writing, we think about writing and wish we were writing. This doesn’t mean we always feel inspired and ready to write. But a person who feels called to write wants to write even during bouts of writer’s block. In fact, those times when we are unable to write become times of suffering and spiritual anguish for those who are genuinely call to write.

3. We view writing as obedience to God.

We don’t write out of a desire for wealth or fame or to gratify our own egos. We write to serve Him. And if we did not write, we would feel we are disobeying Him.

Christian novelist and literary agent Terry Burns put it this way: “God initiates if we are genuinely called to write. If He does, writing becomes an assigned task—an obligation—and we must be acutely aware that God always finishes what He starts.”

The writer who is called to write is content to simply do his or her best work, then leave the results with God. The writer’s career is in God’s hands. Sales figures are in God’s hands. Amazon.com rankings are in God’s hands. Awards are in God’s hands.

Above all, the writer who is called to write doesn’t compare himself or herself to any of the writer. Remember how, in the closing verses of John’s Gospel, Peter pointed to John and said, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus replied, in essence, “Mind your own business, Peter. Never mind about John. You must follow me” (see John 21:21-22).

If you approach writing as a holy calling, your life will be marked by two qualities: enthusiasm and inspiration. The English noun enthusiasm comes from the Greek adjective entheos, meaning “having God within” (from en, “within,” and theos, “God”). When you are called by God to write, you have a sense that God lives and works through you, and every creative act you perform is a loving imitation of the nature and activity of God the Creator.

The word inspiration also contains powerful spiritual implications. It comes from the Latin inspirare, meaning “to breathe into or fill with breath or spirit” (from in, “into,” and spirare, “to breathe”). We get our English word spirit (or Spirit, as a proper name for the Holy Spirit of God) from the Latin spirare, because the ancients believed that the breath was the spirit of a person; when the breath departed at death, the spirit departed.

To be inspired is to be fully alive. As Christian novelist Carol Gift Page once said (paraphrasing athlete and missionary Eric Liddel), “When I write, I feel God’s pleasure.” This doesn’t mean you should expect to feel continually inspired and enthusiastic. Feelings go up and down, but a calling from God is forever. When the feelings wane, trust in your calling. Trust in the One who always finishes what He starts.

Christian literary agent Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Agency tells a story of meeting with an author friend over lunch. Gardner’s friend was going through a difficult struggle in her writing career. She said, “I’m starting to question whether this is really my calling. Some days, writing just isn’t fun.”

“Hmm,” Gardner said. “Is your marriage fun every day?”

The author had to admit there were times when her marriage wasn’t fun.

“When it’s not fun, do you question the marriage? Do you consider divorce?”

The author rolled her eyes. “Of course not.”

“Every time you have an argument, the whole marriage doesn’t fall apart. And every time you have a bad day writing, you shouldn’t question your calling.”

But, the author countered, doesn’t God give us a passion for our calling?

Gardner said, “Are you passionate about your husband—every day?”

The author got the point.

“Your calling to be a writer,” Rachelle Gardner concludes, “is bigger than a feeling that shifts with the wind. Once you decide that this is what you’re supposed to be doing, you have to avoid using every roadblock as a reason to question it. Instead, look at whether your calling is being confirmed.”1

If God calls you to write, then write. Obey your calling. Delight in the eternally important work God has given you to do.

You are blessed with a purpose. You have a holy calling. You are a writer.

_______________________________

1. Rachelle Gardner, “Called to Write,” RachelleGardner.com, November 28, 2011, http://www.rachellegardner.com/2011/11/called-to-write/. Some dialogue was condensed or paraphrased from the original blog.

When did you first know you were called to write? What makes you question your call? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Book 1 Writing In Overdrive - mediumJim Denney is a writer with more than 100 published books to his credit, including the Timebenders science-fantasy series. He has just released an inspiring new Kindle ebook for writers, Writing in Overdrive: Write Faster, Write Freely, Write Brilliantly.  He has written books with supermodel Kim Alexis, Star Trek actress Grace Lee Whitney, and two Super Bowl champions, quarterback Bob Griese and “The Minister of Defense,” Reggie White. He has co-written many books with Pat Williams (co-founder of the Orlando Magic), including Leadership Excellence and The Difference You Make. Jim is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Follow Jim on Twitter at @WriterJimDenney, and follow his blog at http://unearthlyfiction.wordpress.com/.