Psalms Alive! (review)


Psalms Alive!Psalms Alive! by David Kitz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In Psalms Alive! author, pastor, and dramatist David Kitz takes us on a journey through thirteen selected psalms. In the Preface Kitz explains why he wrote the book:

“For the past number of years I have been bringing the Psalms to life for audiences through the medium of live drama. Here now in book form, from a dramatist’s perspective I provide a glimpse into the prayers and praise of the psalmists” 18.

Each of the book’s 26 chapters begins with the quoted scripture passage under discussion. This is followed by Kitz expanding on it in a variety of ways that include personal stories, explanations of biblical customs and settings, devotional inspiration, and challenges to apply the scripture’s advice to life. Each chapter ends with a “Bringing Life to the Psalms” section consisting of three to four discussion and personal application questions.


Bible art journal on Psalm 19:14 using a quote from Psalms Alive! (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Kitz’s writing is lively, picturesque, and wise. He expands liberally on the ideas presented in the Bible passage. He doesn’t leaves us in the theoretical clouds though, but makes sure his conclusions connect to everyday living. My book is full of underlined sections. Here are a few of my favourite quotes:

From the Preface: “When we handle the Word of God, we are handling life. When we take hold of the Word of God, it takes hold of us” – 17.

From a chapter on Psalm 19: “Your heavenly Father does not need a stethoscope to check on the condition of your heart; he needs only to listen to the words coming out of your mouth” – 43.

From a chapter on Psalm 103: “Relationship is always the wellspring of all revelation. It is while we are in God’s presence that we discover the mind of Christ” – 149.


Bible art journal detail (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

I used this book, along with others in an online creative Bible study and found much inspiration in it for Bible art journaling. It has deepened and broadened my appreciation of the psalms discussed. It would make an excellent textbook (along with the Bible, of course) for men’s or women’s Bible studies.

I received this book as a gift from the author for the purpose of writing a review and participating in the study.

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Advice I’d give a new writer


Self-publishing: easy, fast, cheapGiving advice to someone in any business these volatile days is risky—no less in the writing biz. Things have changed drastically since I first put my toe into freelance writing waters, fifteen plus years ago. It’s hard to predict what new condition, improvement, or obstacle will come along tomorrow, let alone a year or two from now. One piece of advice I would give to someone starting out today, though, is related to new developments.

My advice: Don’t be too quick to self-publish.

I’m not saying don’t do it. Just don’t let the ease, affordability, and popularity of self-publishing alone lure you onto the bandwagon. One can feel a certain amount of pressure to get work out there just because it’s easy to do and it seems like everyone is.

  • Get advice from those familiar with your work about whether or not it’s ready for prime time.
  • Get familiar with the market and what people are reading, so you know whether you  have a commodity people want and will buy.
  • Know your goals.
  • Count the cost in terms of the whole package including marketing and publicizing.
  • Above all, pray about it, and let the peace of God be your heart’s umpire in this – Philippians 4:6,

Blog hop for writers - logoWhat advice would you give a new writer?

More advice for newbie writers is found HERE.

After I wrote this post, I came across an interesting article about self-publishing at Writer Unboxed: “The New Class System” by Donald Maass.  More food for thought.

Write! Canada 2013 – 2


In my last post, I talked about Write! Canada, describing the continuing class I took as well as the three workshops I attended. There was more!


We had three Keynotes, with a different speaker for each:

Stained glass windows from Church of St. John Evangelist - Elora, ON

Stained glass windows from Church of St. John Evangelist – Elora, ON

Keynote 1 – singer, songwriter Ali Matthews

Matthews spoke of inspiration. She said:

  • Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. Own it. Own the gift. God will not anoint who you want to be but who you already are.
  • You don’t need to apologize for the gifts you’ve been given, only apologize for not using them.
  • When you humbly and intentionally reach out with your gift, you are glorifying God.
  • Our calling is to be an inspiration, to be life and breath, salt and light.

Keynote 2 –  Carolyn Weber (professor and author of the memoir Surprised by Oxford)  

Here are a few snippets of her wisdom, shared before she read a segment of her writing.

  • There is nothing naive about cultivating an innocent heart.
  • The only real success is faithfulness.
  • Once you’ve heard the gospel, you can never unhear it.
  • Five golden rules for memoir writing:

1. Pay attention to your life. Look at its intricacies. Cultivate discipline about journaling.

2. Treat others as you would want to be treated.

3. Never write from anger or unresolved issues. Write through the deep feelings to the other side but no one ever has to see that draft.

4. Put the first draft into a golden chest. It’s a cathartic draft that takes you to a place of grace about others.

5. With a spiritual memoir, ask for five distinct points of view: two professionals (formal editor, professor, fellow writer etc.) to look at theology, references, actual function of the writing; three personal—including someone from your family for feedback, to ensure that you have written with respect, to corroborate details;  a spouse or close friend;  and an unbelieving friend or spouse to know how the work resounds beyond the faith community.

Keynote 3 – Dennis Hassel (playwright and actor of Dennis Hassel Productions)

Dennis delivered the final keynote–the last event of the conference. He was in fine dramatic form, taking on the persona of various characters and their viewpoints. He said:

  • Art should teach us.
  • There is message and theme in good fiction.
  • Bits from life are quilted into a realistic design, warm and able to keep people in stitches. Live your ordinary life fully and at the same time see it as material.
  • It’s impossible to know what of your experience will become part of your story. What are you breathing in? What literature are you reading?
  • All you have to decide is “What are you going to do with the time that is left you?”
  • It’s easier to talk about prayer than to pray… easier to talk about writing than to write.
  • A writer is not called to successfulness but faithfulness


Of course the lectures, workshops, and keynotes were only a part of the rich conference experience. A another highlight was meeting friends in the flesh that I have only ever met online. Whoever I talked to, there was an immediate common bond. “What do you write?” was bound to start a stimulating conversation.

"Birds of a Feather" - Sculpture by various artists - Elora On.

“Birds of a Feather” – Sculpture by various artists – Elora ON

I am truly thankful for The Word Guild and the knowledge that there is a network of writers, editors, and publishers across Canada who are Christian. The conference organizers and army of volunteers deserve huge kudos for again putting together a chock-full and worthwhile weekend.

Now to get back to the work of writing (even though it sometimes feels like building castles in the air)!

Aerial shot of earth & clouds.

Scene from my window on the flight home