Friday, October 22, 2010

DRAWING CLOSER TO GOD - Dianne Neal Matthews - Free Book

Bio: Dianne Neal Matthews has written numerous devotionals, magazine articles, and newspaper features. Her work has appeared in Focus on the Family, The Quiet Hour, LIVE, The Christian Communicator, and on websites including CBN.com. She is the author of three one-year devotionals and has also contributed stories to several compilation books. Dianne is a 2006 CLASS graduate and a member of Advanced Writers & Speakers, Christian Authors Network, and Toastmasters International. She and her husband, Richard, have three grown children and two adorable grandchildren.

When did you decide to be a writer?

As a little girl, I loved to make up stories and share them. Writing assignments were always my favorite part of school. But as an adult, I didn’t have the confidence or courage to pursue creative writing. It was just something I fantasized about until my mid-forties when I began writing occasional articles for my church’s newsletter. Urged by a friend, I attended a writers’ conference asking God to show me if writing was His will for me or my own self-centered dream. He answered clearly that week, and I’ve never doubted my calling since then.

What was your first published piece?

When I attended that first conference in 1999, I’d never thought of writing devotionals. But I set up an appointment with the editor from Warner Press after she spoke on a panel. I showed her a one-page piece I’d written about a lesson from my cat and she said I might be a natural devotional writer. I applied and was accepted as a Master Writer for the company and got to submit ten devotionals each year for use on the back of church bulletins.

Since then, you’ve published three daily devotional books. What do you find most rewarding about writing devotions?

Writing devotionals keeps me excited about how fresh and relevant God's Word is. I love finding ways to illustrate Scriptures and draw out practical applications. And feedback from readers motivates me to keep writing. It's such a blessing when someone tells me that a devotional has spoken to their specific situation, or says that one of my books is a part of their regular quiet time. A woman in Australia emailed to say how amazed she is that the pages of The One Year Women of the Bible often mirrored what was going on in her own life. An older couple sent me several notes as they read The One Year On This Day together. One young mom wrote that she was feeling spiritually dry and unable to serve God, but now she’s going through one of my devotionals and keeping a journal which she plans to pass on to her two daughters some day. Comments like that remind me what a privilege this is.

Tell us a little about your latest devotional book.

This month Baker Books released my new one-year devotional book, Drawing Closer to God: 365 Daily Meditations on Questions from Scripture. Each devotional is based on a question asked by someone in the Bible—God, Jesus, Satan, an Old Testament character, or a New Testament writer. The meditation explores the setting, ties it into a spiritual principle or practical application, and includes a verse that relates back to the question or its answer. The day’s entry closes with either a question for readers to ask God (prayer focus) or a question to ask themselves (reflection).

How did you get the idea for Drawing Closer to God?

I began noticing how much of Scripture is in the form of questions and how relevant these still are today. Old Testament characters voiced honest questions that we’ve all probably felt at some point. But we may have been reluctant to pray as David did, “Why are you so distant, Lord? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1) New Testament writers used questions to explain spiritual principles, especially Paul. Jesus asked questions as a powerful teaching tool, sometimes gently: “Can any of you add an hour to your life by worrying?” (Luke 12:25), and sometimes with a stronger tone: "Why do you see the piece of sawdust in another believer’s eye and not notice the wooden beam in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3)

Many questions in the Bible can be matched with a verse that answers it. Before Pilate asked the universal question, “What is truth?” (John 18:38), Jesus had already answered it as he prayed: “Your words are truth.” (John 17:17) As we go through trials and hardships, we may wonder as Gideon did, “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” (Judges 6:13) Then we read in John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble.”

The more I studied these questions, the more I was struck by how much God communicates to us through them. It intrigued me to think that sometimes we can find answers by looking at the questions.

Did writing Drawing Closer to God impact your own spiritual life?

Yes, the fact that biblical characters expressed their questions and doubts so honestly reminded me of how God wants me to approach my relationship with him. Now when I see a question in the Bible, I think of it as a springboard to look for what God wants me to discuss with Him or what He wants to teach me. I’m in the process of pulling out a core list of questions from the book to use in my quiet time. I want to periodically go through them as a sort of spiritual check-up to assess my spiritual walk and keep my focus where it should be.

Are there certain Scriptural questions that proved especially meaningful for you?

Yes, I often need to remind myself of Genesis 18:14: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Even though I know the answer, sometimes I forget it in the face of daunting circumstances. And Jesus’ question about worrying (Luke 12:25) is something I should meditate on every day. Maybe I won’t waste so much time doing it if I remember His point about how futile worrying is.

What is the main thing you hope readers take away from this book?

My prayer is that the book will renew readers’ appreciation for the relevance of Scripture to everyday life. If we approach the Bible with a teachable spirit, then God’s Spirit will use the questions written so long ago to comfort us, convict us, and transform us. I also hope that the devotionals will encourage readers to feel comfortable examining their own questions through meditation and prayer.

Are you working on a new project?

I’m currently writing another daily devotional for Baker. This one is still untitled but it has a theme of a one-year “journey” through the Bible. I’m going through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation combining basic information on each book, the major stories and events, and the core teachings with practical application. The book will release in October 2012.

Thank you, Dianne, for sharing this new devotional with us.
 
Readers, here's a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 6 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

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23 comments:

Patsy said...

This sounds like a great book to have. Would enjoy using it. Thanks for giving away a copy.
plhouston(at)bellsouth(dot)net

Robyn said...

What a treasure this book sounds like.

coolestmommy2000 at gmail dot com

Merry said...

Drawing Closer to God sounds like the prayer of my heart. I'd love a chance to win it.

Dianne Neal Matthews said...

Thank you, ladies, for your kind words about the book. Wish all three of you could win.

Lourdes said...

Would love a chance to win it. Sounds like a musthave book!

Lourdes11743{at]gmail[dot]com

Maureen said...

Love the title of this book. Please include me.

fredamans said...

I love daily devotionals. Thank you for the chance.

Linda Kish said...

This sounds like a wonderful book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Bakersdozen said...

This sounds like a good devotional.

A J Hawke said...

We all need help in turning our thoughts toward God and this book sounds as it that is what it will do for whomever uses it.

Please enter me in the giveaway.

A J Hawke

Simply Stacie said...

Please count me in.

karenk said...

would love to read this book...thanks for the chance

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Linda Cacaci said...

This sounds like it is a beautiful book. I would love to win it. Please enter me in the drawing.
Linda Cacaci
LinCaca3@aol.com

apple blossom said...

Please enter me in this drawing thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Cindy W. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Would really love a chance to win this book.

Thanks,
cwreadbooks@gmail.com

barbjan10 said...

You are very blessed, Dianne, to write devotions. At this very moment I seem to be going through a dry period of praying, getting the words to match what I'm thinking. I feel I'm not praying enough or for the right things. A devotional book like you write is indeed for someone like me, to help rub that dryness with balm. I think I'm having a need for "The Living Water" from the story about the woman at the well. Thank you for writing those words and for bringing a copy of this fine book for giveaway and for the chance to win it. I hope I do!

Blessings,
Barb Shelton
barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

Dianne Neal Matthews said...

Barb, your heartfelt words reminded me once again what a privilege God has entrusted me with. I'm praying for you this evening and believing that God will use this "dry" season to help you grow and bless others. I've certainly had my share of dry spells and sometimes it's hard to trust that they have a purpose in our life, but I know that God uses them to strengthen our faith. And what joy when the spiritual rains begin to fall again!

Theresa N. said...

Sounds like a wonderful book to go through the year with.
Theresa N
weceno(at)yahoo(dot)com

Connie Leonard said...

Lena, I always enjoy reading A Christian Writer's World. This entry is especially helpful since I am writing daily devotions and have been encouraged to pursue publishing them. I will attend the CLASS Christain Writer's Conference to learn more. I would love to have this book.
Connie Leonard

rubynreba said...

I would love to have a new devotional book and this looks like a very good one.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

Norma said...

I could use a good devotional book. Would love to get this one.

Nancye said...

Sounds like a great book! I enjoy reading devotiojI would love to win a copy.

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net