Walking The Tight Rope


Blondin carrying his manager, Harry Colcord, on a tightrope


Self-designated King of High Wire, Nik Wallenda, is scheduled to take his act to Niagara Falls tomorrow. It’s been a hundred and fifty years since anyone has made the attempt to cross the raging waters balanced on a wire stretched from shore to shore.

I’m sure there would have been other attempts, but state law banned the feat inside the State Park. Wallenda, following in his famous grandfather’s tragic footsteps, was able to cut through the red tape and gain permission to make the try directly above the Falls, not further downstream where other famous performers worked.

Charles Blondin was one who successfully made the walk. A famous circus performer in the middle of the nineteenth century, he gained special fame for his “different theatrical variations: blindfolded, in a sack, trundling a wheelbarrow, on stilts, carrying a man (his manager, Harry Colcord) on his back, sitting down midway while he cooked and ate an omelet and standing on a chair with only one chair leg on the rope” (“Charles Blondin”).

Call it courageous or call it fool-hearty, these incredible performers know that one misstep may be their last, as was the experience of Nik Wallenda’s 73-year-old grandfather, Karl. There’s no place for detours or side trips, no wandering astray for a time, not even mentally. This is life or death on the straight and narrow.

What a metaphor for life. All of us can take the straight and narrow–choosing the only Way, Jesus Christ who reconciles us with God–or we can step out into the wide open spaces and float or sail or dive merrily toward destruction.

How restrictive, some say, to walk that one path, that only way. Why can’t a different path get us to the other side just as well?

The wire might look scary and the walk might be buffeted by winds, but there simply is no other way. In contrast, free falling might look like fun, but that’s a way down, not a way across.

Myself, I’d rather not make the crossing, but of course, in life, we don’t have that option. One way or the other, we will leave this shore. Knowing this, it seems imperative to learn everything I can about walking the wire.

Of course we can change the metaphor. Rather than me walking the straight and narrow, I can instead put my trust in the skilled and practiced King to carry me across. On his back, in the wheelbarrow–He can take me however He chooses. It’s His show, not mine.

Published in: on June 14, 2012 at 6:12 pm  Comments (3)  
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Tested By Fire


Fire is a refining agent. Cheap stuff burns up–paper, straw, twigs, logs. Gold, on the other hand, purifies.

The Apostle Peter alludes to this process in his first letter to the Christians of the first century. They faced a lot of persecution because of their faith, and he noted that fact:

In this [your salvation] you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:6-7)

According to Peter, faith is of greater value than gold because even gold will eventually perish. But faith, even when tested by the fires of persecution ends up bringing praise and glory and honor when we see Jesus.

It’s an amazing thing. This trust in God, this dependence on Him even in the worst of circumstances actually is cause for joy. Peter again:

and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8)

How ironic, then, when contemporary Western Christians approach trials as opportunities to express anger and disappointment toward God.

I do believe we should be truthful and of course that includes truthfulness when we’re talking with God. But there’s a difference accusing God because that’s how I honestly feel and confessing to God because that’s how I honestly feel.

The first might sound something like this: God, why did you let this unfair thing happen to me? I am so mad at You right now. I thought you were on my side, looking out for me. You really let me down.

The other might be something like this: God, this bad thing happened and it makes me so angry. I know that’s not an attitude demonstrating trust in You. I’m worried and fearful and want revenge. I know none of that brings you glory. Please, God, forgive me and help me find a way out of those debilitating reactions to a place of trust. Help me to find in You exactly what I need.

One reaction makes God out to be the culprit and the other recognizes Him as the rescuer. The first pushes Him away, the second draws near to Him for help.

The bottom line is, accusing God of wrong doing, no matter how honest the person is being about their emotion, is still saying about God what is not true. James says, “For God cannot be tempted by evil and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” God does not do evil. How then is it honest to express anger toward God by accusing Him of something He is not?

I’ve heard Christians, time and time again, toss off their tantrums as something God is big enough to handle. The issue is not whether God can handle our sin. We know He canceled our sin debt at the cross. The issue, instead, is whether we should justify our sin and even applaud it as being real.

It’s much the same as the church in Corinth boasting about their tolerance of sin in their church. We today act as if we are doing some great good to hurl angry charges at God because … well, because we feel angry and we need to be real with Him.

What happened to trusting God in the midst of trial?

Here’s what the prophet Habakkuk had to say about the matter:

Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the LORD,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. (Hab. 3:17-18)

Where’s the exultation of the contemporary Western Christian? I fear it is reserved for our honest emotions we hurl at God rather than for He who is with us when the waters and the rivers overflow, who walks with us through the fire and flame.

How sad that we rob ourselves of His comfort and presence and even protection because we’re so busy venting our honest emotion.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you. (Isaiah 43:2)

Published in: on June 13, 2012 at 6:46 pm  Comments (7)  
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The Christian Distinctive


Not long ago I read Kay Marshall Strom‘s Blessings of India books (The Faith of Ashish and The Hope of Shridula–see review here) and, what struck me so forcefully was the legalism of Hinduism. India of the 1940s was a society centered on the caste system and karma. Every social strata bowed to or benefited from the laws and traditions. They commanded attitudes toward children, gender, work, neighbors, food, and these all played out in prescribed actions.

Legalism, of course, was (and for those who are Orthodox, still is) endemic in the Jewish religion. Jesus constantly chastised the Pharisees for “straining at gnats but swallowing camels”–that is, they paid such close attention to the minutia of Jewish law and tradition that they missed the main things God asked of them–their commitment to Him and compassion for one another.

Consequently, when Jesus healed people on the Sabbath, the Pharisees criticized Him for breaking the Sabbath.

Jesus answered the charge by turning it back on them: To keep the Law, you all bypass compassion. He went to the Law itself to illustrate what He was saying, then pointed out how they treated their animals with more regard than they did hapless people who suffered from severe maladies for years and years.

Hindus and Jews aren’t the only ones who place a premium on obeying religious laws. Systemic to Buddhism is its path to liberation which includes following ethical precepts–not just by doing good deeds, but by doing them with pure intention.

Confucianism is another religious teaching that puts its followers on a path of doing:

Confucianism focuses on the cultivation of virtue and maintenance of ethics, the most basic of which are ren, yi, and li. Ren is an obligation of altruism and humaneness for other individuals within a community, yi is the upholding of righteousness and the moral disposition to do good, and li is a system of norms and propriety that determines how a person should properly act within a community. (from “Confucianism”emphasis mine)

Islam is another religion based on law.

Religious concepts and practices include the five pillars of Islam, which are basic concepts and obligatory acts of worship, and following Islamic law, which touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, providing guidance on multifarious topics from banking and welfare, to warfare and the environment. (from “Islam”)

All this law! No wonder a good number of people opt out of religion. They see the lists of do, do, do and decide that it’s too much to ask or that the rewards are too far off or that the requirements are too unattainable.

And then there is Christianity.

In a sense, Christianity agrees with all those other religions. Yes, there is a right way to behave. There are ethical ways of treating other people, and there are corrupt, nefarious, selfish ways of doing so. So Christianity’s distinction is not in doing away with a required standard of how to live.

Christianity also agrees with the secularist who says the standard is too unbearably high for anyone to reach. Rather than prodding Man to be better, to reach higher, to do more, Christianity says, no matter how much he might try to achieve the required ethical standard, he can’t make it.

It’s at this point that Christianity separates itself from all other systems of thought. Because of God’s great mercy, He mitigated the penalty for failure to live ethically and morally by taking it upon Himself.

Christian doctrine refers to this as grace.

What a huge difference to live under grace rather than under law. Rather than hoisting the burden of righteous living, a believer in Jesus Christ experiences God’s forgiveness, cleansing, redemption, and pardon.

The distinction, then, is grace–God’s free gift which He provided “while we were yet sinners.”

Published in: on June 12, 2012 at 5:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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The Grown-Up Christian Is …


Last week I posted about a topic we dislike–sin, ending with this line: “Man is sinful and in need of God alone who can save us.”

The problem is, too many people don’t understand what God’s work of saving us means on a practical, everyday level. There might be an idea that we start attending church and that we will go to heaven, but little else.

Even Christians may not be clear on the “what next” part of things. Are we supposed to clean up our language? Start doing “holy” things? Put on a serious expression and stay away from anything that’s fun?

Well, no.

The grown-up Christian life is actually characterized by abundant joy, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

When Jesus was talking to Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who came to Him privately to ask his questions, He said that to come to God we must be “born again.” Jesus created this metaphor to illustrate that coming to God is the beginning of life and just as we grow physically from immaturity to maturity, we do the same spiritually.

So coming to God through Jesus Christ is the “birth.” From the point that we confess with our mouth and believe with our heart that Jesus Christ is Lord, we have a new life.

How great if at that point God waved His hand over us and changed our desires, so that what we once hated, we now love; what offensive things we once loved, we now hate. But life doesn’t work that way. Babies don’t settle in the day they come home from the hospital and begin driving–or trading stocks on E-trade.

Instead, they have things to learn. They need time to grow. They need proper food and abundant rest, and yes, they need their messy pants changed. They need to be potty-trained. It’s a process.

The Christian life is no different.

A brand new Christian is not going to turn into a mature Christian over night. We don’t transform ourselves into mature Christians by imitating what mature Christians do, no more than a toddler can become a man by using his toy tools on his toy car in imitation of his dad working on the real thing.

Don’t get me wrong. Imitation has value, but it should not be mistaken for actual maturity.

So what is maturity? If we are in need of Christ’s redemptive work because of our sin, does maturity then mean Christians no longer sin?

I’m pretty sure that’s what a lot of people believe–some Christians and some non-Christians. Why else are Christians vilified for doing what everyone else in the culture does?

According to one poll, 85% of those answering the questions said Christians are hypocrites. Meaning we don’t live according to our beliefs.

And we don’t, not perfectly. We are in a battle to accomplish that very thing. What we believe is that we should follow Jesus–we should love God and love our neighbor. What we do is, live too often for ourselves, forgetting God, ignoring our neighbors.

So how are we any different from the rest of the world? In some respects, we aren’t. We still sin. On the other hand, we are growing up to salvation. We’re taking baby steps away from conformity to the world; we’re allowing God to transform us into His image.

It’s just not a done deal, so when we mess up–and we will–we stand exposed for the world to see our imperfection.

The thing is, if no one expected us to be perfect, our exposure as not perfect wouldn’t be a big deal.

Mature Christianity, then, is actually refusing to pretend that we are what we are not. Not that we go out with the intent to sin or celebrate some false notion of being free to sin if we want because God’s already picked up the bill.

Actually the opposite is true. When a mature Christian sins, it breaks his heart because he knows it breaks the heart of His Father. He knows that he should walk worthy of his calling (see Eph. 4:1) that he should please God in all respects (see Col. 1:9).

His sin, then, will drive him to his knees. He will bring it to his Father to claim the forgiveness He has already given. He will let God teach him and correct him and shape him.

In this way his life begins to take on a distinction that marks him as someone like Christ. The thing is, the more like Christ he is, the more he’ll want to serve and repent and learn and grow. He won’t parade an imagined perfection in front of the world. He won’t take credit for what God has done.

Published in: on June 11, 2012 at 6:46 pm  Comments (1)  
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Reading Discernment 101


In the past I’ve frequently talked about the need for discernment in our reading, but sometimes I think that term may mean one thing to one person and something far different to someone else.

I think most people agree as far as the actual definition: to discern means “to perceive or to distinguish between.” Of course, discernment implies a standard or some way of making a distinction.

This sweater is bluer than that one, or, That book is full of lies.

In the first instance, two objects are being compared to each other. In the second, the lies referred to exist in contradiction to an understood standard of Truth.

So what does this comparing and contrasting mean for a Christian in application to what he reads?

I believe Christians should use the Bible as the gauge by which we measure truth and error, good and evil, right and wrong, real and counterfeit. A book that twists or deviates from what the Bible lays out before us is in error because the Bible is Truth.

So far, I think most people who use the Bible as their standard and who have thought about discernment at all would agree, but there’s a next step and it is here where I think some of us might part company. If we identify a book as containing that which is in error, what do we do?

I tend to think a lot of believers might say, Stay away from that book and any like it. For some people that advice may be right, but I don’t think that should be the blanket answer. It certainly isn’t what I’m advocating when I say we should read with discernment.

Instead, I think we should read (or watch or listen to) what is in our culture, and then point the finger at that which departs for God’s revealed truth and say, That is not true.

Understand, there are limitations to this use of discernment. Sometimes a determination needs to be made as a matter of self-protection or family-protection. When I was in college, I saw a bunch of raunchy movies that led me to the decision to put some limits on what I viewed. My choice, for me, requiring discernment, meant that I stopped going to a certain kind of movie.

But there are lots of other movies I’ve seen that I would see again, even though I will also cry loud and long to whoever will listen that it contains untruth.

As I see it, lies are immediately disarmed once they are identified as lies. Lies can only hurt if they slip by as if they are true and people end up believing them. Consequently, to stay away from all fiction or from fiction that is clearly from a secular point of view, means I can’t stand up and say, Do you see the lies here?

If Christians don’t do that, then who will?

This article originally appeared here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction in July, 2009.

Published in: on June 8, 2012 at 6:45 pm  Comments Off on Reading Discernment 101  
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The “S” Word


Western culture doesn’t talk about sin anymore, or at least not much and rarely outside the doors of a church. The concept rankles our society—steeped as it is in the belief that Mankind is basically good.

Christians, while giving intellectual ascent to the problem of sin, live very much like everyone else. We say things like “an innocent child” and “he didn’t deserve to die,” as if sin didn’t somehow pollute babies and death wasn’t the end result of sin as God said it would be.

From time to time I used to watch one of those “reality” TV programs called “Super Nanny.” The premise was, a family with out-of-control kids contacted the show asking for help. In essence, they needed a crash course in child rearing. And truly, the families they that went on the show were in crisis. In the worst cases, the children were completely in charge. Sadly, some of these little ones were pre-school age–four and under. And yet they would fight each other and often hit and scratch and curse at their parent. How does this happen unless children have innate pride and selfishness and greed and deception and rebellion?

Some time ago Alistair Begg aired a sermon from the book of Proverbs about child rearing. Interestingly, he said the chief problem for today’s parents is their theology. They don’t realize that the oh-so-cute little bundle they brought home from the hospital is a monster.

He’s right. How we discipline someone who is good would be vastly different from how we would discipline someone who is inherently sinful–who is determined to please himself, promote himself, and control everyone else.

Truthfully, our belief in sin is as fundamental as our belief in God because it is sin that separates us from Him.

Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short
That it cannot save;
Nor is His ear so dull
That it cannot hear.
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. (Isaiah 59:1-2)

If we have no sin problem, then God would seem irrational or mean or non-existent. But the fact is, God remains inaccessible to us because of sin. It mars us, soiling us to the point that we cannot have fellowship with Him. Sin creates a breach between us and Him. A breach no one can cross except the Sinless One.

Again, in contrast to popular thought, Christ did not come to show us how to live sinless lives like His. He came because we cannot live sinless lives. He came to give us new life, to create clean hearts, to eradicate our sin problem.

So no wonder the world doesn’t get Jesus. If there is no sinful man, only good people led astray by society or damaged at an early age, then why would anyone need Jesus? We’d need a better social structure, more equitable laws. But God? Belief in Him is divisive and what we want is a society that fosters peace and harmony. Better if belief in God goes the way of belief in sin.

Except, wishing sin didn’t exist, pretending God doesn’t exist, will not change reality. Man is sinful and in need of God alone who can save us.

This article originally appeared here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction in June 2008.

Published in: on June 7, 2012 at 6:28 pm  Comments (5)  
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The Turquoise And Orange Mentality


Turquoise and orange. Or green and red. Purple and yellow. Opposites on the color wheel and the perfect metaphor for the way our western culture approaches … just about everything.

For some reason which I haven’t yet figured out, society has fallen into an all-or-nothing way of thinking. It’s all my way—and of course, my way is right—therefore every other way is all wrong. This trend is more surprising in light of the “tolerance movement,” but that’s a subject for another day.

Here I’m concerned with how this “if I like it, it’s good, it’s all good” concept affects Christians reviewing books. Because, sadly, Christians have bought into this mindset as much as or more than the rest of the culture.

After all, we’re engaged in spiritual warfare. Evil is real and opposes God. And there is only One way to salvation; all other roads lead to destruction. On top of which, righteousness matters.

All true. But what I think we Christians lose sight of from time to time is the fact that the world is a mixed bag.

Jesus even said so in the parable of the wheat and weeds. In the story, the landed nobleman ordered his servants to plant grain. They did, but in the night an enemy sneaked into his field and contaminated the crop with weed seed. When the plants grew, the servants realized weeds were intermingled with the good grain. They went to their lord and asked him if he hadn’t planted good seed and what were they to do about these weeds. Leave them, he said, until the harvest. That would be the appropriate time to sort the weeds from the wheat.

Here’s the deal. We’re living in that wheat and weed field. The weeds, by the way, called “tares” in the NASB, were darnel, a rye grass that looks much like wheat. In other words, telling the two apart was not an easy job. It’s not easy for us, either. What looks to us like a tare now, might in fact be a stalk of wheat.

What in the world do wheat and weeds have to do with reviews?

Here’s the point. I find it a little astounding that in a mixed-bag world, we can see anything as all good or all bad. Yet readers rave all the time that such-and-such a novel is the best book ever written. Or that such and such other book is from the pit of hell and will bring destruction upon every person foolish enough to expose their minds to it.

I remember hearing Liz Curtis Higgs speak at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference some years ago, and she was commenting on responses she got to her novel set in Scotland. One reader raved about how this book was as good as those by Sir Walter Scott! The same day she received a letter tearing her and the book apart. Obviously, both positions couldn’t be true. In fact, Higgs said a writer really must believe neither.

But why do readers and reviewers write as if a book they love has no faults or a book they hate has no value? We live in a mixed-bag world, where made-in-God’s-image creatures fell into corruption. Why are we shocked to see God’s image, tarnished as it is, in those very people who rail against Him? And why do we think everything coming from the fingertips of His redeemed children will automatically be without the rust of corruption? I wish the latter were true.

But I’m as much a mixed bag as the world is. Less so every day, as God does His sanctifying work of transforming me into the image of His Son, but even if I lived without sin, I don’t believe that would mean my writing would also be perfect. I could have pure intentions. My motive might be to honor God, but does that mean my writing will automatically be flawless? Not in a mixed-bag world.

And final question. Is God most honored by our closing our eyes to what might be improved or by an honest appraisal that calls writers to reach for better?

This article originally appeared here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction in June 2008.

The Problem With Salvation


When I was a kid, growing up in a Christian home, I attended Sunday school regularly. My first recollection of an explanation about sin and salvation is tied to heaven and hell.

Later I attended a Bible club and received a Wordless Book that reinforced the concepts.

Clearly, I did not want to go to Hell. If Heaven was the only alternative, then that’s where I wanted to go, and if Jesus could get me there, then I wanted to accept Him “into my heart.”

I had to get past the idea of a shrunken version of Jesus fitting into my heart, and one Sunday school teacher was able to explain, the Holy Spirit was actually the One who would live in my heart.

Why didn’t they just say so, I thought. I had a vague understanding of the Holy Spirit because a lot of hymns called Him the Holy Ghost. Ghosts didn’t sound holy to me, so I had already asked my parents about that one. I don’t remember what they told me, but it must have been adequate for a child’s understanding because I wasn’t troubled by further questions until much later.

But I digress. From my own experience, from listening to others tell their testimony and to some venting about unhappy religious backgrounds, I see confusion when it comes to the issue of salvation.

In part I think this is because some of us never grow up in our understanding of God. But another contributing factor, I think, is that I had an experience of being saved from Hell rather than an experience of being saved to God.

Any teacher, coach, and most parents will tell you that part of training involves laying out consequences. God deals with us the same way. He tells us what the wages of sin is, just as He warned Adam what would happen if he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

So Sunday school teachers who spoke of Hell were not inventing something or using scare tactics. They were telling the truth.

However, escape from Hell isn’t all that great in and of itself. For years I worried about boredom sitting on those clouds, playing a miniature harp for all of eternity.

Eventually my understanding began to grow and my relationship with God began to develop, but it took years.

I had one friend in college who had serious questions about God, in part because she had questions about eternity. My answers were woeful and unbiblical, and she dismissed Christianity in the face of them.

That experience drove me to ask more questions.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

  1. Salvation seems to be less important to some people than their efforts to earn it.
  2. Salvation is much more about being in God’s company than anything else. The real terror isn’t Hell. It’s separation from God. Conversely, Heaven is only great because God makes it great.
  3. Christ provides the only access to God.
  4. Because salvation is really a relationship, it is dynamic.
  5. I don’t have to wait for “later” to experience the joy of my salvation.
  6. The relationship I now have with God grows like any other relationship. If I spend time with Him, I am close to Him. If I don’t, I’m not.
  7. Right now, my relationship with God is more like an Internet friendship. I know Him in part, in the ways He’s revealed Himself to me. Someday, I’ll know Him in person.

This article originally appeared here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction in August, 2009.

Published in: on June 5, 2012 at 6:28 pm  Comments (3)  
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Deal Or No Deal – Notes From A Sermon


Mike Erre and Family

My church has been in the process of selecting a new senior pastor. Or maybe he’s going to be called the teaching pastor now. At any rate, Mike Erre, the candidate which the selection committee unanimously chose, preached on Sunday. Good message. Really good. A couple things stood out.

He spoke from Ephesians which more or less fit with a series we’ve been doing in the book. He opened by explaining that the book can be divided into two sections–the indicative that makes statements about who the Christian is and how we relate to God, and the imperative that gives us commands to do to live up to our identity.

I haven’t checked this out, but he said in the section that enumerates the believer’s standing as a child of God, there is only one command: remember. I think that’s cool! First, before all else, we need to be grounded in who God is and who we are as a result of our relationship with Him.

The book pivots in chapter four when Paul shifts to the imperatives. This, by the way, is a common pattern in the Pauline epistles.

In verse one Paul says

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called

So here’s where the commands start. But it’s easy for us to get off on the wrong foot, said Pastor Mike. We can take this idea of walking in a manner worthy of the calling as our marching orders to pay God back for the kindness of salvation. He gave so much to us, so now we owe Him.

No, Pastor Mike said. Christ’s “death on our behalf was a gift, not a deal.”

Love that!

He illustrated the point then, with the analogy of a man becoming a husband. As soon as the minister pronounces the couple, husband and wife, the man doesn’t start doing husbandly things in order to become a husband. He already is a husband. From that point on, he’s trying to live up to the role he already has.

Same with becoming a father. When his baby is born, he is a father. His doing his fatherly duties is not his attempt to earn his place as his child’s father. That is his already. Instead, he wants to learn to do fathering right.

So too with the believer. We are in Christ, part of the body of Christ, and with that position come many awesome advantages. Then Paul says, we are to walk worthy of the calling. We are to learn how to live the role, “child of God.”

One last thing. Pastor Mike said that the command in Exodus 20:7 about not taking the name of the Lord in vain, connotes in the original text the idea of carrying His name. I found that to be interesting because the Jews literally did wear the Scriptures. But for us, the idea is that we bear the name of Christ, and we are not to do that in a worthless way.

I thought of several things, one being those people who will say to Christ, Lord, Lord, we cast out demons in your name and healed in your name, but He’ll say, depart, I never knew you. Those, I would think are people who have Christ’s name on their lips but their hearts are far from Him.

But I also thought of how I live my life covering up my identity. I used to refer to my teen years as ones in which I lived as an undercover Christian. Pastor Mike said that living worthy of our calling means we give up the privilege of being anonymous.

When I first started teaching, it was disconcerting when I was out and about with my friends and ran into some of my students or their parents. I’d flash back to what I was doing right before I realized they saw me. Had I done anything stupid or un-teacherly? Had I lost respect because I was clowning around or grousing at some store clerk?

In essence, I was living anonymously, not as a teacher who should set an example for her students, until I realized I’d been recognized.

As a Christian, if I’m walking worthy of my calling, I won’t take time out to live anonymously. I’ll happily bear the mark of Christ, carry His name with me wherever I go.

Good stuff. Memorable truth.

Published in: on June 4, 2012 at 6:07 pm  Comments Off on Deal Or No Deal – Notes From A Sermon  
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Fantasy Friday – Spec Faith Makeover


Speculative Faith, the team blog started in 2006 by a group of Christian speculative writers headed up by Stuart Stockton, almost died out a few years ago. One thing and another happened, causing regular writers to drop off.

I was the last to keep the home fires burning, and then my computer crashed–or, more accurately, performed a slow meltdown. For a month I struggled to log on to our old site. When at last my computer came through surgery, new and improved, I didn’t want to face all the spam that had accumulated on our old site.

Enter Stephen Burnett. He’d earlier taken on the role of regular contributor but went on a hiatus–some excuse about getting married, or something … 😀 When Stephen returned and saw the spam situation at the old site, we did a confab and agreed to start over, importing as much content as was feasible.

Hence, Spec Faith 2.0 launched at our present WordPress site in the summer of 2010. Since then we’ve had steady growth, in large part due to Stephen’s watchful eye and innovative work.

He created a Spec Faith Facebook page, for example, and added the Spec Faith library which now has over 400 books. (If only we could actually lend them out!)

Today he introduced the latest upgrade, Spec Faith 3.0. Besides tweaking the already classy look of the site, he has enhanced our library by bringing the creation of and access to reviews to the forefront.

Now anyone interested in seeing what’s available in Christian speculative fiction can go to the library and find, not just a book cover and blurb, but reader reviews and comments.

Of course, to make this feature viable, we need readers to actually post reviews and comments. For comments–a quick recommendation, perhaps, a response to a previous review, or maybe a report on how many stars you’d give the book–visitors only need to locate the book of their choice and click on the comment link.

For reviews, there’s a basic form where a visitor leaves their review, and an administrator will add it in the appropriate place.

I don’t know about you, but I have begun to pay more attention to reviews. How great, then, to have all these Christian speculative titles all in one place, along with reviews to help potential readers sort out which are the best books.

Not only that, but the reviews will also post to Facebook, so the influence of each one is magnified. For reviewers who are re-posting from their own blog, there is also a link (I’m pretty sure) to the original site, so it’s also a way to attract visitors to the reviewer’s blog.

OK, enough of my chit-chat. It’s much more effective if you click on over and take a look at the site yourself. Enjoy.

Published in: on June 1, 2012 at 5:40 pm  Comments Off on Fantasy Friday – Spec Faith Makeover  
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