Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ground Floor Writing Op

Have you ever wanted to get in on the ground-floor of one of God's grand plans? This may just be your chance.

Here is a (l-o-n-g) letter from a writing colleage that I am posting in its entirety. Please take the time to read every word. Then pray about who God wants you to act on this special opportunity.
In Him, Louise

June 1, 2006

Hi, Fellow Christian Writers

I have some exciting news to share with you which may present opportunities for many of you to serve the Lord in new ways with your writing and other artistic gifts, as I am now doing.

But first, a little introduction:

My name is Steve McLean. I have been serving the Lord as a writer, editor, graphic designer, proofreader, and a songwriter, in various ways since 1978, when I first took on the volunteer work of Editor in Chief for a Christian church newsletter named Grace Notes, which was the newsletter of the church group I belonged to at the time, Grace Fellowship Church, in Mansfield, Ohio. Since then, I’ve written for, edited, and designed several other church newsletters, which the Lord used to “whet my appetite/interest” in writing, editing and designing, preparing me for “bigger and better” plans He had for using the artistic gifts He’s given me through the Holy Spirit.

I’ve been living in Ashland, Ohio since 1995, and in 2001 I became aware there was a Christian writers group here named the Ashland Area Christian Writers Guild. I decided to begin attending this group and in short order became a member and one of its leaders as Editor in Chief for the group’s newsletter publication, Reflections, which I’ve greatly enjoyed putting together with the help of many of the other writers in our group who contributed articles, devotions, poetry, humor columns, writing news items, book reviews, etc. Our writers group had to change its structure and format at the end of 2005, as our Director and group mentor, April Boyer, needed to step down as our leader, and no one has come forward yet to help us as Director/leader and re-establish the meeting structure we had, but our group still has meetings from time to time as individual writers are able to offer their homes for such meetings and others are able to attend. And we keep in touch by phone and e-mail. April has been helping with this, too, by doing a special Bible study series by e-mail with the group, and maintaining her own website where members can contribute writings, tidbits, and advertise their books and CDs.

I came to know your leader, Louise DuMont, through our leader, April Boyer, who had established a relationship with Louise as a fellow Christian writer. At our writing group’s last official meeting with April as leader, she brought some free books in a box from which we could all choose to take what we wanted home with us. After everyone else had made their selections, I took home with me what was left so that April wouldn’t have to worry about carting home any more materials than necessary from what she usually brought and carried home from each meeting. One of the leftover books, I was delighted to discover, was Louise’s Grace by the Cup: A Break from the Daily Grind! I loved reading every one of the devotions in it, and, certain it would be a blessing to Christian friends and relatives as well, I sought to order some copies for Christmas from a nearby local bookstore, but they found Louise’s book was out of print. And so, I decided to try to order the copies I wanted directly from Louise by contacting her through the web address given in her book. Happily, we made quick contact, and she said she had a box full of extra copies she kept to sell through the mail. So I purchased three “personally autographed copies” and she sent them in time for “the Christmas rush.” Everyone I gave a copy to was as thrilled and blessed by Grace by the Cup as I was!

And since then I’ve written back to Louise from time to time to share how this book and its follow-up, Faith-Dipped Chocolate, have blessed me and others as I’ve shared the “essence” of many of Louise’s coffee-and/or-chocolate-flavored devotions with them.

Now, let’s move on to the “exciting news” I mentioned at the beginning of this letter:

I have become the new Editor in Chief for the publication division of a ministry group based in India named the Christian Communication Centre. I will be running their publication division in India from my home base of Ashland, Ohio, and also establishing a branch of this publication division here in the United States in Ashland, with help and contributions, from writers and other artistic personnel, throughout the United States. Everything is in the fledgling stages at the moment, with only a few other staff/team members “on staff” to help so far. The name of our publication division is Christian Communication Centre Publications.

The Lord spoke to my heart through the Holy Spirit and revealed the following goals as His will, plan and purpose for Christian Communication Centre Publications: to create, produce, publish and distribute Christ-centered magazines, books, newsletters, and other types of publications that help Him to build up the Body of Christ and that reach out to unbelievers by example with His love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, and the message of salvation through Christ.

There is much work to do to get things started and progressing to the point where we are actually creating, producing, publishing and distributing all of the various magazines, books, newsletters, etc. in India and the United States. We will need lots of help from those whom the Lord would speak to through the Holy Spirit to join me in this work, serving with me as a staff/team member doing the various jobs publication writers, editors, designers, photographers, assistants, secretaries, business managers, production personnel, etc., do in the process of putting together any new publication.

Many of you may have more initial experience than I do in some of these jobs, which is exactly why I need your particular help. I have never worked on a magazine or book production team before, except as an “outsourced” proofreader for the Christian business magazine Business Reform, which has been created and produced in Ashland for several years. Even so, I have enjoyed observing how magazine and book production teams have worked together to create so many unique publications over the years. I’m always checking out the new issues of magazines in the book racks, “design browsing” as I call it, and noting how others work together to bring the public such a wide variety of eye-catching and interesting magazines.

As an Editor in Chief, I have managed others in their work, but I do not yet have all of the business savvy of a Business Manager, so this is one of the areas where I need to have others handle whatever business management work that needs to be done for Christian Communication Centre Publications, and to teach me the best ways to “business manage” the work the Lord’s given us to do. A lot of this new work will be “on the job training” for me, and perhaps, for many of you, but we have the encouragement, inspiration, and guidance of the Lord through the Holy Spirit to help us to achieve all that God has given us to do for Him.

One of the first tasks I have been doing as Editor in Chief is to start getting the word out about Christian Communication Centre Publications, what it is, and what our needs are. In the same way that I am sharing with you, I’ll be sharing with other writers groups, church groups, and in person or by letter with others the Lord leads me to whom He might have been or is preparing to become a part of our publication staff/team in the United States. In India, I have recently been given someone to work with me there as an Editor/Secretary/Translator who will follow my instructions and help me to get the word out there about our work and its needs.

One immediate need is the need for money to run Christian Communication Centre Publications and pay me and our staff/team in both India and the United States for our work. The Christian Communication Centre in India is a non-profit ministry group as a whole, but our Christian Communication Centre Publications will need to function as a profit-making publishing business ministry, just as any other Christian publication business ministry does. We are not set up this way at the moment, and even when we are, we will have to do things from this perspective: we are not to take out loans or go into any degree of debt to pay for anything. I’ve been given a mandate and commandment about this from our Creator through the Holy Spirit. God wants us to be debt-free from start to finish. To trust Him to provide for our financial needs. So, how exactly do we obey Him and do things this way as He commands? Eventually, when we are fully functioning as a business type of ministry, we will be receiving money to operate on through our magazine subscriptions, book orders, and over-the-counter sales, but until then, how does the Lord want us to raise the money every publication company needs? I can think of only three ways myself: 1) fundraising events 2) donations and/or tithes or portions of tithes being given to our work 3) and interesting Christian investors in investing in our work. If any of you know of some other ways, or the Holy Spirit shows you some other ways, please let me know.

Another need we have is for publication offices and professional printing equipment to print magazines and books. Since I live in Ashland, Ohio, and am not able to relocate right now, it makes sense to find offices to rent or purchase that are located in Ashland, since I also do not have a car of my own and do not drive, but use the Ashland Transit system to get around town. Using my home as a staffed office would be impractical because I live in a one-bedroom apartment right now. Some day I hope to live in my own house, but for now I can only do certain types of editing, writing and designing, etc., work “at home” on my computer. So having a publication office and office furniture and equipment for me and my local staff to use is going to be one of the next things that we need to work on getting. Now, in India the Christian Communication Centre has various office buildings they use for their work, but they, too, have yet to be able to do any publishing of books and magazines with new, professional printing equipment. We’re planning on publishing a newsletter titled Christ-Centered before we publish magazines and books, and this newsletter can be put together via a computer design program, such as my Microsoft Publisher 2003 design program, and pages printed out on computer printers, such as my All-in-One printer, to be collated and stapled and distributed, but this will, of course, also require money to pay for printing supplies and postal costs. So, “money, money, money,” is going to be one of our first and continuing concerns for a while. But, let’s set this aside for now, and let me tell you more about the actual work we’ll be doing.

We’ll be creating magazines, books, and other publications that are patterned after the style and excellence of the magazines and books of Reiman Publications, such as Reminisce, Country, Birds and Blooms, Taste of Home, and Country Discoveries, which have been favorites of mine for a long time, and a great inspiration from the Lord to me as the way to do publications that give others an opportunity to be involved as “reader writers.” We will be creating publications like these in the way that they are, basically, “reader/subscriber written” and are ad-free magazines. Certain magazines and books we publish may, by their nature, need to be more staff written than “reader/subscriber written,” but, most of our publications will feature this format. What will make us stand out and be unique, apart from our own designs for covers and inside pages, will be our Christian worldview way of sharing about our lives and about all of the other subjects our staff and reader/ subscribers write about. By design, Reiman Publications’ magazines and books limit the amount of content that is written clearly by its Christian readers that mentions God and their faith, seeking to be able to include short memories and/or article-size memories by anyone of any faith that are on all kinds of topics relating to life.

We will be creating magazines that are clearly Christian written that feature many topics that are directly related to being a Christian, as well as, other topics that are general topics of life that take on a new meaning when viewed from the perspective of dealing with them as “new creatures in Christ” filled with the Holy Spirit who exhibit “the fruit of the Spirit” in their daily walk with God. When the Lord first spoke to my heart, mind and spirit through the Holy Spirit and confirmed His desire for me to become Editor in Chief of Christian Communication Centre Publications, He tapped into my creative side and that week inspired the gifts He’s given me for creating interesting titles and ideas for magazines, books, articles, designs, etc., and I found myself enjoying thinking about and coming up with the titles and ideas for the following magazines that we will be doing as soon as we are able to fully create and do them:

First of all, we will create together a magazine titled Living in the Grace of God. It will be a combination of the types of content that is found in Reminisce, Country, and Birds and Blooms. Some of the content that will become a regular feature of Living in the Grace of God we will preview in our Christ-Centered newsletter. In the attached copy of my “design model” for Christ-Centered you will find these preview sections: “Greeting Places”, “Fruit of the Spirit”, “Designed by God”, “Laugh Lines”, and “Fellowship Diaries.” I’ve written a short description of what each of these sections will feature on their page design. As with some of the Reiman Publications magazines, the demand for more of the content of certain sections featured in our magazines may require and/or inspire us to create a new magazine that gives the readers what they asked for. In particular, I think we might soon create separate magazines titled Fruit of the Spirit and Designed by God. Each of these topics is rich in possibilities for staff and reader-written content. Fruit of the Spirit could feature sections about a facet of each of the nine fruits listed in Galatians 5: 22, with appropriate photographs or artwork that compliment its “fruity” section. We could even feature short reader fiction based on the fruit featured in a particular section of the magazine. Designed by God lends itself to anything and everything that exists in God’s Creation, so we would never run out of fascinating topics to explore and share from the knowledge that those creations were created by God, not “nature” or “Mother Nature” as is often referred to in magazines that don’t want to offend or lose readers who may not believe in God. We believe it’s more important to speak the truth in love for the readers’ sake than be concerned about offending or losing readers who mistakenly believe something other than the truth about God’s Creation. Reiman Publications always feature attractive photographs on their covers and throughout their pages, and so will every magazine of Christian Communication Centre Publications! Living in the Grace of God and Designed by God might well be mistaken for a Reiman Publication because of their abundance of beautiful photographs from cover to cover depicting God’s Creation, His love for His Creation, and how “heaven and earth declare God’s glory.” In fact, Heaven and Earth Declare God’s Glory is another title inspiration that I have had for a future magazine. Here are some other inspirational magazine titles that came to me the first week that I became Editor in Chief: Everyday Miracles, PrayerLines, Men and Women of God, Discovering God’s Word, Inspired Composer, Christian Film Creator, Christian Artist, and Taking Care of God’s Temple. <>Everyday Miracles, I thought we might feature sections or departments with titles like these: “The Miracle of … (molecules, atoms, speech, touch, etc.)”; “Flying Miracles” (birds, butterflies, flying squirrels, etc.); “Miracles of the Sea” (fish, seashells, waves, etc.); “Ancient Miracles/Modern Miracles”; “The Miracle of the Human Brain”; and “The Miracle of Faith.”

Within PrayerLines, we would feature testimonies, thanks, and praises for answered prayers, as well as, offer an opportunity for readers to ask other readers to join them in prayer for specific prayer requests. This may work better as a section of other magazines than as a magazine of its own, but we’ll see ….

Within Men and Women of God, we’ll give staff and readers opportunities to share about men and women of God who have inspired or blessed them. We will also feature sections designed to encourage one another in being men and women of God.

Within Discovering God’s Word, we will feature sections that look at specific instructions, encouragements, and promises from God’s Word and share how God spoke to us through the Holy Spirit about those instructions, encouragements, and promises, blessing us and helping us to apply what we learned. Also, I felt inspired to reproduce portions or whole sections of parts of God’s Word (such as the shorter books of the Bible) for readers to simply reread in magazine design format along with the Holy Spirit to receive whatever He gave them to help them grow in their Christian walk into the likeness of Christ. Haven’t thought of any particular section titles for this magazine yet, but we might include “discovering God’s Word” as a preview in Living in the Grace of God.

Inspired Composer, Christian Film Creator, and Christian Artist we will feature staff and reader written material of the particular artistic topics of each magazine. I’m always blessed to discover how many other Christians have artistic gifts and are using them for the Lord, fulfilling what He has revealed through the Holy Spirit is His will, plan and purpose for their lives in using the artistic gifts He’s given them!

These magazines will help to make other Christians who are artistic just as aware and encouraged as I have been in discovering how many of us there are in the world, and will give each of us an opportunity to encourage one another by sharing what we are doing and looking together at ways to do it better, or more effectively, thereby inspiring one another in creating new artistic works. Christian Artist will include all of the arts: ART (paintings, sculpture, etc.), DANCE, FILM, MUSIC, and SCRIPT (fiction, non-fiction writing, film and playwriting, poetry, songwriting). Inspired Composer will be specifically for music and lyric composers; and Christian Film Creator specifically for everyone involved in creating Christian films and TV series. We may also create magazines as we go along that are specific to each of the Christian artistic genres.

Within Taking Care of God’s Temple, we will be featuring staff and reader written material about the various ways to do this topic, encouraging one another to be attentive and remember that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit that need to be taken care of as such.

Here are some of the section titles that I have thought of that could be featured in our first magazine, Living in the Grace of God, and/or in our other magazines: “Proverbial Truths” (verses of Proverbs with shared experiences), “After God’s Heart” (ways believers have sought God’s heart on some matter), “Life Stories” (short memories of living the Christian life in good times and bad), “Exploring God’s Country” or “Enjoying God’s Country” (vacation experiences of believers), “Everywhere I Look” (a photo section of God’s Creation with readers’ comments captioning the photos); “Pretty Patterns” (another photo section of beautiful patterns found in God’s Creation – like spider webs, snowflakes, cloud banks, etc. -- observed by readers and photographed); “ ‘Luck’ or the Lord?” (incidents shared by readers that unbelievers might consider merely ‘luck’, but believers know was God’s doing); “Scenarios” (a section of “Creation scenes” with comments by staff or readers who photographed them); “Kid Pics” (cute and/or special photos of the kids readers are raising to know the Lord); “Quiet Times with the Lord” ( a section for sharing how readers spent special times communicating with the Lord, perhaps with accompanying photos if readers took some while they were communing with God and His Creation); “Once Upon A Time … “ (a section in the tradition of Reminisce magazine’s “Memoryville” stories that were featured for a while in their earlier issues, with specially drawn artwork like they had that depicted the story that was inside on the cover of their magazine) and “Once Upon A Rhyme” (rhymes or poems with accompanying artwork or photos depicting memorable Christian experiences in life); “Neighbor To Neighbor” (a section for neighbors to help neighbors in various ways with requests or advice); “Toddlin’ Through Life” (readers’ toddler photos and/or heartwarming or humorous memories); “Life’s Little Challenges” (humorous memories of the challenges children encounter and/or that children and parents encounter together); “Encounters On the Light Side” (more humorous Christian memories or stories); “Oops! …” (a “most embarrassing memories” section for believers); “Baby Talk” (cute baby photos with funny “baby thoughts” captions by readers); “Arcs of the Covenant” (beautiful scenic rainbow photos with memory captions shared by readers and/or staff); “The Story Behind … (various inspired works of art, hymns, buildings, etc.).

And there you have a few of the titles and ideas I have had so far for magazines that we will be creating together if the Lord speaks to your heart, mind and spirit through the Holy Spirit to become one of our staff/team members or a reader/subscriber or other type of contributor to our publications. I welcome each one of you who is able to help in any way, now or in the future. If you feel inspired by the Holy Spirit with other titles and ideas for our magazines or books, or sections of the same, please share your inspiration with me. One of our fellow writers in the Ashland Area Christian Writers Guild, Debby Dever, is one of the first to join with me in working on our publications as a writer, editor and designer. Debby has been greatly blessed and encouraged by the ministry of Corrie ten Boom, and has created an inspirational column we’ll be using in one of our magazines (perhaps, as Debby suggested, in Men and Women of God) about the life of Corrie ten Boom.

Recently I purchased a copy of Roy Reiman’s autobiography titled “I Could Write A Book …” and I have been enjoying reading it and noting the advice and information he shares in it about how he started and grew Reiman Publications into the successful publication business it is today. There are some good examples, of course, to follow in our fledgling publication business ministry, but other business ideas or methods we would not be able to emulate, specifically, any involving taking out loans or going into any kind of debt. So, as I read this fascinating and inspiring autobiography of one of my “publishing heroes”, I am sorting out what we can do, too, and what we can’t do, according to our specific instructions and commandment from the Lord through the Holy Spirit. But, I’m so glad to have this book and the excellent examples of Roy Reiman’s publications to follow as we create excellent examples ourselves of worthwhile, helpful and beautiful publications that bless, encourage, inspire, and help to build up the Body of Christ, and reach out to unbelievers with God’s love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, and the message of salvation through Christ as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” that we know and live out.

Thank you for reading through this letter. I will look forward to hearing from you and receiving whatever help you can give. And I’ll give you other details on what we’re doing and our needs as you ask for them.

Steve McLean, Editor in Chief,
Christian Communication Centre Publications

Contact information:
Steve McLean,
62 Cardinal Court
Ashland, OH 44805-4357
Phone: 419-289-6698


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