Monday, August 6, 2018

Women of the Word - Patricia Raybon

This series is an act of faith. When I reach out to others it is because of my faith, a product of God's love that emboldens me. It is nervewracking, yet rewarding. As an avid reader and writer, I became familiar with Patricia's work because of its content - using your faith to bridge the gap with grace; in particular faith and race. The systemic racism in America is a sore spot for me and I sometimes wonder if anything I do or say can make a dent. Patricia writes about this topic gracefully (and forcefully) and dare I say, it's making a difference. Meet this month's Woman of the Word - Patricia Raybon.

Patricia Raybon

1. As someone who studies the Bible, what are your favorite tools and resources?
My favorite tool to study the Word is the Word. So first, reading the entire Bible, cover to cover, provides a profound roadmap for understanding what the Bible is, what it says and how it's all connected. To that end, I'm a huge fan of the many One Year Bibles that are available. Typically, they offer a daily reading plan that includes one Old Testament reading, one New Testament reading, one reading from the Book of Psalms and one reading from the Book of Proverbs. Following that plan allows a believer to read through the entire Bible within one year--a process that provides an extraordinary look at the whole Bible, showing over time how it is all connected. The Bible is, indeed, among other things, God's passionate call to our hearts to return to Him and to all that He is doing in the world. It invites us to co-labor with Him to fight and reject hate, injustice, sin and ungodly living--while providing all the wonderful secrets to successful living. No other book on Earth compares to it.

To further study the Bible, I recommend a solid "Study Bible," such as the Life Application NLT Study Bible, which provides insight, history, and background on every passage in the Bible. Rounding out my top three tools is a solid daily devotional. Good devotionals take readers into one key Bible Scripture, day by day, offering one beautiful nugget of Scripture to explore and apply to life per day. A bonus tool is a Bible with Hebrew and/or Greek translations of the Scriptures. It helps to know the ancient meanings of words used in the Bible, providing great context for serious Bible students. Lots of other tools are available, but these are my favorites.

2. Old Testament, New Testament or both?
The whole Bible matters! Every chapter. Beginning to end. So, yes, both O.T. and N.T. are priceless.

3. Why do you study the Bible? What was your initial motivation?
I was raised in the church and grew up learning, as a small child, the remarkable stories and people of the Bible and what their lives, choices, and challenges taught them about God, life, other people and about themselves. My hunger for the Bible continues. I'm deeply grateful for the privilege of reading, owning and using the Bible as a daily life treasure. My favorite charity is Wycliffe Bible Translators whose mission is to provide a Bible translation for every language and people group in the world. I support Wycliffe because I can't imagine my life without access to the Bible. It excites me to imagine every man, woman, boy and girl on Earth having their own copy of the Scriptures. Nothing is more valuable than God's Holy Word.

4. How does inspiration work for you? How do you know that what you're writing or understanding is as if God is moving the pen and you're just the vehicle?
Writing is about paying attention. Therefore, writing with and for God is about paying attention to what God is saying, doing and desires to communicate. I learned to write as a journalist and learned early in my career that inspiration, literally, means to be indwelled by the Holy Spirit so that what one writes is what God wants. For clarity, I look to God who answers writing questions in and through His word, and in our interactions with others, through the situations in our lives and in other ways--if we're paying attention. The writer's job, therefore, is to pay attention to how God is answering, and then have the discipline to sit down and do the work of listening to His voice, His answers, and His wisdom. That takes time. There are no shortcuts. God's pace is best, but He is gracious to help His scribes! I'm so grateful for His faithful help and power. None of us can write without Him!

5. How do you handle complex topics that may not align with popular views? Can you give an example?
Prayerfully. Very prayerfully. When I'm writing about race relations, for example, I may want to lash out, in the flesh, so to speak. But that's not God's way. If my response or writing is too caustic or unkind, the Holy Spirit will always speak to my heart and hold the reins, if I'm seeking the Lord's will. I have a note near my desktop that says "Follow the Leader"--the Leader meaning the Lord himself. That's a great test for me. If the writing doesn't represent God, as I know Him, I'm going down the wrong path, and it's time to back up, hit delete and start over.

6. When confronted by the truth of scripture, even for difficult topics, how does it re-orient you?
I'm always grateful for correction that gets me back on track. Sometimes that comes through an editor. For example, I'm blessed to write devotionals and reflections for various magazines and devotionals. All have great editors. I depend on those wise people to catch me if I'm heading in the wrong direction or to invite me to rethink what a passage of Scripture really means. My years in journalism taught me how to work with editors and how to trust them for great feedback. I've been blessed to work with many wonderful editors over the years, and I'm always grateful for their feedback. As the Bible says, "two are better than one." I don't try to do the work of writing alone, that is. I'll often even ask my husband to read something I've written and provide feedback. My goal is to get the writing right. My ego usually has to take a back seat in the process, but I've found that's perfectly okay if the writing turns out better.

7. Who is your target audience and what is your overriding message?
I write for believers who are struggling to love God, themselves and other people. The world and the church are divided and polarized. The Lord, in His kindness, is asking me to write about faith and race--with grace. If I can do that, He can use me to show, by example, that we in the church can treat each other the same way--with grace. Even when we disagree. So those are my marching orders: to write about faith and race--with grace. In doing that, I pray I can show a way to love God and also each other. The result is a church and a people who will reflect Christ.

8. Tell us a little bit about yourself, current projects you are working on and where you can be found.
As I mentioned, I'm a journalist by training. I grew up in Colorado and worked many years working as a newspaper reporter and magazine editor at The Denver Post, the former Rocky Mountains and then teaching newspaper journalism at the University of Colorado at Boulder. To get tenure at CU-Boulder, I had to publish books and in national publications. That requirement inspired me to start writing and submitting my essays and articles to places such as The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, Time Magazine and other respected, national venues. When I wrote an essay on race relations that was published in the New York Times Magazine, several book agents contacted me, asking if they could represent me if I wrote a book. Seeing their interest, I sat down and wrote a book proposal, which became my first book, "My First White Friend: Confessions on Race, Love and Forgiveness," published by Viking Penguin, a New York publisher. That started my book-publishing journey, and I thank God for the open door and opportunity. Currently, I'm praying over three book projects--one of which I hope to develop as my next project. In the meantime, I'm blessed to contribute to several magazines, faith blogs, and devotionals while writing on my blog. I enjoy these shorter writing assignments. They keep me busy and working and allow time to regularly write for God's people about God and His Word. To Him be the glory!

9. How do you deal with discouragement and doubt? (Bonus question)
Three ways: First, to know what the Bible says, which, among many other things, is "Take courage. I am here!" (Matthew 14:27). Resting in the promises of Scripture speaks directly to our disappointments. I'm so grateful this rich healing is available to us when we seek it. So, second, I ask the Lord to minister to my discouragement (or doubt). Third, I make time to abide in Him, spending time with Him daily, listening to Him, resting in Him. As the theologian Frederick Buechner said, "The morning prayer determines the day." That remains true for all of us!


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  1. Number 9, dealing with discouragement is something I have dealt with lately. Yes, resting in God's promises brings reassurance and peace. The word brings hope.

  2. Nylse, I am so inspired by Patricia's obvious love of God's Word! And I really appreciate her tips for dealing with discouragement -- again, all based on the Word. I'm definitely sharing this to encourage others as well.
    Blessings to you both!

  3. "Writing is about paying attention." Isn't that the truth! Wycliffe is my favorite too! It's all about the Word. Love her grace and passion, Nylse (I'd like to be her friend, too!) - thanks for sharing!

  4. I have read some of her posts, I think she has a very special way of sharing and encouraging, no matter what our race or background, and even if we think we have nothing in common, there is the one needful thing for us all, to sit at the feet of Jesus. Thanks, Nylse.

  5. What a great and inspiring interview once again! Thank you for sharing this, Nylse.


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