Category Archives: Commentary on Books or Novels

W-holliness

“Thirdly, Israel was to be a holy nation. Holiness in the Bible is not just something ethereal which invades audiences on Sunday morning, making them somewhat listless and passive. Holiness is wholeness. To be holy is to be wholly the Lord’s.”

– Walter C. Kaiser, Perspectives.org, Israel’s Missionary Call

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The Book Lacks Life

It’s important that editors, critique groups, and fellow writers help each other by pointing out when our dialogue and narrative are stiff and unemotional.

I read two books recently by a favorite author (who shall go unnamed), and it makes me wonder if something isn’t going on in her life. 

Her other books were always interesting and believable. Now her writing voice has changed. It’s like a man is writing it. Her writing voice is indistinguishable from the other books she wrote years ago. It’s like two different people have written the books.

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys were famous for having various authors writing under the same pseudonym, but the tone never changed. The style remained the same so the publisher could pull off several authors sounding like one person. 

In this case, my favorite author is fast becoming my least favorite author. Usually, I have no problem naming an author when reviewing a book. Since I am not reviewing, I see no good from naming her as I want to remain sensitive to the author herself. If something is going on, I pray that she can work through it and return to her powerful writing. If the publisher is having someone else write under that name, I pray they read the reviews and stop messing with the author name. But there’s a lesson we can learn from this–editors, agents, and writers need to help each other write better by pointing out our flaws so we can improve. 

Secrets Behind Fig Leaves

Adam and Eve tried to hide from the Lord behind fig leaves. Fig leaves eventually wither away leaving you naked, sin out in the open. The truth always finds a way out from behind the fig leaves we use to hide it.

The best relationships include telling the truth no matter how it hurts you or someone else. Lies divide until truth is forced out. Like Adam and Eve hiding in the garden, God knew where to find them. He knows where we hide. More importantly, He knows what we hide.

The great news about Jesus is how He allows U-turns. Just repent and He gives us fresh clothes from the dryer.

Reading: Bad Girls of the Bible: And What We Can Learn from Them by Liz Curtis Higgs

Reference Verses: Psalm 32:5, 1 John 1:9, Proverbs 28:13

 

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Not Merely Memorizing Verses

We aren’t being obedient to God, if we believe and do the things of the world. It is about treating God as a holy God and living differently than the world. Not expecting God to compromise His values for us, as He already gave us the greatest Gift, but for us to humble ourselves before God. The fruit of belief is action, not merely memorizing verses.

Reading: Bad Girls of the Bible: And What We Can Learn from Them by Liz Curtis Higgs

Reference Verses: 1 John 1:8-9, Luke 16:15

How do you humble yourself before God?

  1. Repent.
  2. Grace and mercy to others.
  3. Letting go of selfish desires.
  4. Recognizing that what you did before was not justified or okay no matter what the world accepted.

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Causing a Barrier to the Cross

Romans 14:13-23 is a familiar reference most use in regards to drinking alcohol in front of someone that suffers from alcoholism, but I was reminded of this scripture again when I read pages 22-23 of Ex-Muslim by Naeem Fazal:

“It would be easy for me to walk away from Islam and never look back, but looking back is precisely what I must do if I am going to engage Muslims with the gospel. I need to remember my heritage, and I need to be conversant with the belief system my culture is founded upon. This knowledge enables me to have intelligent conversation and to keep the dialogue going toward truth.”

Muslims are offended by images of Christ on a tract. Naeem said he wouldn’t give a Muslim a tract because Muslims look at representational art as idolatry. Jesus is a sign of my faith. Naeem says they would think we are worshiping an idol if we gave them a tract. It reminded me of the above scripture in Romans how we shouldn’t cause someone to stumble on the way to the cross. There are many ways to talk to others about Christ, and I would never have thought about educating myself on other cultures or beliefs as a way of reaching others for the gospel. By understanding what offends, instead of learning in order to defend, doors previously closed to the gospel may open.

Especially when we take the time to get to know the people and speak from a place of love. Over and over again, Naeem reminds us that we need to get to know people on a personal level. People aren’t a project or a ministry. They have histories and Jesus loves them.

Perhaps I need to contact a missionary friend and make a visit to him in Phoenix, to spend some time with foreign students? I have so much to learn before the launch of Cataclysm in 2015.

Sip, Taste, Smell, Savor #SpiritualWhitespace

whitespace1On my way back to work, I spied these roses. They grew, twisting around the white picket fence on a warm summer day. I couldn’t resist taking a picture. It reminded me of something Bonnie Gray said on page 127, “Sip. Taste. Smell. Savor. In between bites, Jesus meets with us. Because the journey ahead is long, stop. Offer yourself the space to pause. Invite another into that space. Even for a bite of pastry. The moment is worth it.”

In my journey, I am stopping and assessing. You can practically hear the squeal of my soles on the cement as I take a moment, maybe many moments, to breath, to sip, to taste, to smell, and to savor. Like today, I should be doing a lot of things, but instead find myself splayed out on the couch, a remote in hand, and a cup of coffee in the other. I did some work this morning, but lost motivation. I want change, but I don’t know what I want to change. I want God’s will and am waiting to see what that looks like right now. Slowly, I am organizing and preparing for 2015.

Things are put on hold while I do this so 2015 is less rushed, less chaotic, and more structured. My second job is flexible, like I want my life to be flexible. My writing is put on hold while I organize. After all, I can’t write well if the business end is a mess and I am not taking the time to make sure the work I put out is quality. I am also struggling to find these moments to savor.

Like these roses…

I stopped on my way back to work. The sun felt warm on my face. The air breathed like a hot oven over my skin. A bee flew past my ear. I looked at the simplicity of the white picket fence and the green and white of the roses and marveled at the beauty that God creates. He creates simple moments like this, not just to capture on camera and in words, but also in our hearts. When life gets messy, complicated and stressful, you must, “Sip. Taste. Smell. Savor,” to keep peace. Sometimes, you have to slow down, take a deep breath, and find the joy in days like today.

Buy book here: Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review and promote, but I had gotten to know this one and so this is not commercial, but an exploration of Bonnie’s words.

Boxes That Burst #spiritualwhitespace

bonnie1

A network friend has written a book. It took a lot of courage (and therapy) to write it. Imagine having to relive, and even risk censure, to write down painful family memories of abandonment, her parents divorce, and verbal abuse!

You see, what happens in our childhood impacts our adulthood if we allow it, but even if we don’t allow it, the memories crush us regardless because we may not have had the chance to process them. Instead, we compartmentalize them. In other words, we put them into little boxes, duct tape it shut, and shove it way back into our minds’ storage area. Eventually, storage areas become full and boxes burst.

My friend suffers from PTSD.

So when I say I am part of the blog tour, I will not review it in the traditional sense.  I can’t be objective because of how much Bonnie’s story has helped my own. I can FindingWhitespace_alt3Dsay that Bonnie writes blog-style. Grammar hounds will not like the incomplete sentences used like seasoning here and there for effect. Bonnie writes emotion well. So well in fact that, when I read a portion of it to my students at the Susan J. Rheems Adult Day Center, they were mesmerized. I was demonstrating how to show emotion in their memories and how shortened sentences can really impact a person, even if they aren’t grammatically correct. I hope you will stay connected to her blog here as she runs a month-long blog tour. My review will post sometime next week.