Thanks And Another Shooting


I’m starting to lose track of all the mass shootings, but I think the massacre in the church yesterday makes three in the last two months.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Oh, sure, we still have a few weeks to pump ourselves back into the “holiday spirit.” You know, when we celebrate Family, Food, and Football.

And what’s happened to Thanksgiving? You know, the one with historical roots that grew out of gratitude?

I try to imagine what those early Americans thought when they held those early feasts. I suspect it was relief as much as anything. They had withstood. They had enough food to make it through the winter. They were going to live.

Today, we so seldom have our backs to the wall like that. Our greatest vulnerability is not the uncertainty of supplying food for the table. Generally our issues are less certain: hurricanes or tornadoes in their season, wild fires, drive-by shootings, gunmen in concerts and churches, hit-and-run drivers.

But I wonder. Though the circumstances are very different, should our reaction be? Yes, tragedy struck—in Texas and Florida and California and New York and Nevada and Texas. But today we can thank God that He has seen fit to give us life.

We are all, after all, destined to die. Though we often forget it, each day is a gift from God. We tend to get that notion reversed. We believe we “deserve” to live, and anyone who dies has had a tragedy foisted upon them.

So why would people who feel entitled then feel grateful? Are you thankful if you receive what you believe to be rightfully yours?

I find it ironic that so many who don’t believe in God still think life is their right. They believe they are an accident, that they have no eternal purpose, that they are doomed for annihilation, and that they exist only because of chance.

But yowsers! They are quite certain that life ought not be snatched from someone for any “unapproved” reason. God certainly can’t condemn wicked people to die in a flood (see the people in Noah’s day) or to die in battle against His people (see the Amalekites).

But I’m getting far afield.

Thanksgiving. I wonder. Has life become so meaningless in the twenty-first century that whenever someone asks us what we’re thankful for, we don’t automatically think first and foremost that we’re grateful for another day of life?

Here in America, the tradition was to sit down as a family for meals, always offering thanks first. Thanks became “grace” and then it faded away (along with family meals, I suppose).

I don’t think thanks should be relegated to a tradition, and apparently that’s part of what Thanksgiving Day suffers from. But I suspect it also suffers from a change in our hearts that steals gratitude and replaces it with a sense of “deserve.”

Of course, I suspect for those who do not believe in God, it’s hard to be grateful for a new day of life. After all, to whom are they grateful? It seems to me that gratitude is a two way street. You are responding when you express gratitude. And if all we have is only because of chance . . . well, then, it kind of reduces Thanksgiving to the three F’s.

But the truth is, God does give life, and more so, He gives abundant life and eternal life. He pours out His love in countless ways that we’re often too preoccupied to recognize. Sure, we maybe bought our food in the grocery store instead of growing it and harvesting it, but does that make it any less a miracle, any less a provision from God’s hand? He provides the growth, the harvest, the preparation, the packaging, even though it might be out of my sight. He provides the money to pay for it all.

And that’s just one aspect of our lives. What about the air we breath? the knowledge we now have about how to care for our health? the sleep we enjoyed that gives us needed rest? And I haven’t even mentioned the things we get to enjoy in this life.

We are blessed every day we open our eyes and put our feet on the ground, and we have every reason to praise and thank God for seeing fit to give us another day.

Life is pretty much a miracle. Even if we didn’t have wicked men and women doing wicked things, even if we didn’t have natural disasters that interrupt the regular aspects of life. We live on a planet that is as fearfully and wonderfully made as is each of us with our coded DNA that makes us who we are.

In short, God made life and He made life possible, and what He made was good. We are right to thank Him for it. Every day.

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Published in: on November 6, 2017 at 5:26 pm  Comments (6)  

The Power Of Forgiveness


charleston-family-membersI’m convinced that Christianity is different from all other religions.

I was reminded of this distinction when I read the cover story of the June 2016 issue of Christianity Today: “A Fragile Forgiveness” which gives a snapshot of the people who lost loved ones in the Charleston church shooting a year ago.

I’m not saying that people of other religions or of no religion at all can’t forgive. It’s just that they don’t have a reason to forgive. Society doesn’t blame anyone for holding grudges any more, and certain segments of society even look down on those who forgive as if that’s a weakness.

For example, take a look at the comments to a YouTube video about an African American who was falsely accused by a white police officer, went to prison, and came out with intent to get even—until he became a Christian, and until the repentant and punished former officer became his best friend. Here’s a small sampling:

  • This man must not love and respect himself.
  • Slave forgave his master
  • He’s just thankful the cop didn’t murder him
  • this black guy must be SETTING THIS WHITE GUY UP! AINT NO WAY IN HELL I’ll BE FRIENDS WITH THIS GUY.
  • I swear I am ashamed of this stupid a[_ _] coon!
  • The first thing I would’ve done is make that pig suffer. In a slow and torturous way

There are many, many more such comments.

The families of the Christians gunned down in church by a racist killer stand in sharp contrast.

They aren’t alone. Other believers have extended forgiveness to people in ways and at times that make their actions seem almost unbelievable. Here’s one such individual I wrote about a few years ago. It seems appropriate to reprise the article to illustrate what the love of Jesus Christ can do in a person’s life.

– – – – –

joshmcdowellI heard another story of incredible forgiveness today. A well-known Christian writer and speaker and apologist, it turns out, had a horrific childhood. His father was an alcoholic and in his between sober and drunk stages, was violent. His mother had a medical condition that necessitated the family bring in outside help. The man they hired began to sexually abuse this boy between the age of 6 to 13. When he finally worked up the courage to tell his mother, she didn’t believe him and whipped him for lying.

I’m referring to Josh McDowell, the author of Evidence That Demands a Verdict, and over a hundred other titles. This man who has been so vocal and passionate about the truth of God’s good news—His love and forgiveness—once considered Christianity worthless and identified himself as an agnostic.

What changed?

Josh McDowell met Jesus Christ.

Apparently his radical change came because of a college paper. He set out to examine the historical evidence for Christianity in order to disprove it, but instead he found compelling proof of its veracity.

He embraced Christianity, was discipled by a pastor for six months, enrolled in Wheaton College, and eventually attended Talbot Theological Seminary here in SoCal.

But the key turning point in his life, he said, was when he forgave the man who abused him. His was not a secret “in the heart” forgiveness. He actually tracked the man down, went to his home, and told him that what he’d done was wrong and hurtful, but because of Josh’s new life in Christ, he forgave him.

Of all the powerful forgiveness stories I’ve heard–Christ forgiving His crucifiers, Stephen forgiving those who stoned him, Corrie ten Boom forgiving the Nazi concentration guard, Elizabeth Elliott forgiving the indigenous people who killed her husband and four other missionaries with him, Kent Whitaker who forgave the person who murdered his wife and son–this one ranks right up there toward the top.

In all honestly, apart from Christ, this kind of forgiveness seems next to impossible. It doesn’t even seem all that desirable. Our culture wires us to be much more inclined toward revenge than forgiveness. Maybe it’s more than our culture. It’s probably wired into our nature. We want pay back.

If the guilty person is remorseful, then forgiveness doesn’t seem quite so hard. But if they remain hardened and unrepentant, forgiveness seems like an unacceptable concession.

The thing is, it’s not our job to play judge. God is the One who is ready to judge, according to 1 Peter. He is the Judge who is right at the door according to James.

For us to step back and refuse to do what isn’t our job in the first place, helps us, and it doesn’t change the fact that God will take care of the other party—either by covering them with the blood of His Son or by meting out judgment at the end of the age.

Let me reiterate what Josh McDowell experienced. Forgiving the man who hurt him, and his parents for allowing it, removed a weight he’d been carrying. It freed him to love.

Paul identifies an unforgiving attitude as a scheme of the devil.

for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes. (2 Cor. 2:10b-11)

Wow! Part of Satan’s plan of attack has to do with taking advantage of our lack of forgiveness.

That alone is sobering enough, but of course Jesus also taught extensively on our need to forgive our brothers. Understanding our own forgiven state seems to have a residual effect–it turns us into forgivers.

It makes sense. When we get the immensity of what we’ve been forgiven, we understand how cheap and petty we are to hold something against someone else.

The person Jesus died for, I’m going to squeeze a little more? To accomplish what? If that person is redeemed by the blood of Christ, am I asking Christ to do more than die for his sins? If he is not redeemed, am I saying I can punish him more adequately than God can?

My lack of forgiveness accomplishes nothing, but its negative effects on my life don’t end. A lack of forgiveness calcifies and turns into bitterness, resentment, hatred. Those things eat at our souls.

Josh McDowell is living proof that forgiving others made a great deal of difference in his life. God saved him and taught him what he needed so that he could be free and could heal from the hurt of his childhood. It wasn’t instantaneous, and God continues to heal all these years later. He healed and He is healing. And forgiveness is at the center of it all.

For more about Josh McDowell’s story you might be interested in Undaunted:

For the first time, Josh fully reveals the dramatic spiritual transformation that occurred when he faced his past head-on and put everything entirely in God’s hands. It’s a story of overcoming shame, grief, and despair and embracing real love for the first time. It’s a tale of divine grace: when the worst that life can throw at you happens, you can come out on the other side with a faith that is full, free—and undaunted.

Published in: on September 10, 2016 at 1:58 pm  Comments (5)  

Power Elements Of Character Development


PowerElementsCharacterDevelopment[1000][1]I’m excited to announce that the second volume in my Power Elements Of Fiction series, Power Elements Of Character Development is available as a Kindle ebook. It took me longer than I anticipated to get this book put together and published, so it’s with some sense of relief and joy that I can announce its release.

Here’s the little blurb describing the book:

Power Elements Of Character Development, second in the series Power Elements Of Fiction, offers practical instruction for fiction writers about how to create engaging characters. This manual covers such topics as the character arc, a character’s inner as well as outer goals, qualities that make a character compelling, how character development fits with plot, how setting affects character development, character flaws, character voice, well-developed minor characters, realistic antagonists, and more.

This guide provides helpful reminders to the seasoned author, tips to help the intermediate writer raise the level of his storytelling, and instruction for the beginner. The occasional writing exercises offer writers an opportunity to apply what they are learning to their own works in progress.

Finally, Power Elements Of Character Development includes a list of resources for authors who wish to dig deeper in any given topic.

In total, this manual is a succinct blueprint for fiction writers to create characters that intrigue, entice, and compel readers to follow their story.

If you’d be so inclined to share this post with anyone you know who writes fiction, I’d be ever so grateful.

Internet issues


Technology is wonderful, but it also comes with a caveat: you can’t live without it, or so it seems.

This week I’ve done what I’ve needed to do for sometime-I have a graded my operating system. However, I learned that by doing so I also needed to upgrade my Internet connection.

So in the works I have a technician coming out on Wednesday to bring me into the 21st-century with my technology, or at least a little bit into the 21st-century. I wouldn’t say that I am close to being up-to-date or cutting-edge.

All that to say I have my doubts about putting up regular posts here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction between now and then.

Posting using the phone is not ideal but perhaps it’s better than nothing. At any rate, today I simply wanted to alert people to the fact that there might not be new posts for a few days.

“And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ.”

Of course I don’t always know what I need. I know what I want, and I know what I think I need, but God actually knows. So what he supplies, I understand to be sufficient for my needs.

My current needs then apparently are to go without technology in order to gain technology. 😊

Published in: on April 24, 2015 at 4:19 pm  Comments (9)  
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From The Rag Bag – 2014


All-3-Wilderking-BooksJust bits and pieces of this and that today.

Good news on the Christian fantasy front. Accomplished author and all-around nice guy Jonathan Rogers is re-releasing The Wilderking Trilogy, his middle grade fantasies about the feechie folk. They’re being published by Rabbit Room Press, the independent publisher that is putting out Andrew Peterson’s final Wingfeather Saga novel later this year. If you’re interested, you can pre-order Jonathan’s books from RRP.

I’m sad the blog tour for Donita Paul’s One Realm Beyond is over, though I still have a number of sites yet to visit. I love blog tours! 😉

Sticking with the genre for a bit, the nominations opened this week for the Clive Staples Award for Christian Speculative Fiction. Readers can nominate a book at either the award site or at SpecFaith. Already we have twenty-eight books that have been nominated. I hope readers will consider taking a look at that list and turning them into to be read books.

And now to the Olympics. I haven’t seen much of the Sochi games. To be honest, it’s a little hard to get excited about winter sports when we’re having days with temperatures reaching the high 70s. One of the highlights for me came early when snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg won the first US gold medal of the games. As it turns out, Sage is related to Gerry Jennings, a good friend, former colleague, and former neighbor of mine. She told me about him over a year ago–excited about his chances of making the Olympic team. And now he’s won gold!

I saw a Facebook notification about the women’s gold medal hockey game and hurried in to turn on the TV–just in time to see them receiving a consolation speech, having just lost in overtime. So was it disappointing that I’d missed the game or relief that I hadn’t spent two hours watching a game we lost? A little of both.

I’m about ready to call it quits as far as Yahoo! mail is concerned. That’s been my public email where editing clients write me. But there’s some glitch going on, though I downloaded a Yahoo! optimized edition of Firefox. I can read emails, but I can’t reply. I can type the H in Hi, but as soon as I try to add the i, a chat box opens. Yea, somethings not right. I keep holding out, hoping they’ll fix whatever is the problem, but no such luck.

The California drought persists in the southland. In our next-to-rainiest month we’ve had about an inch of rain, if that. Supposedly this week we had a chance of some rain. Tuesday was indeed cloudy, but today winds off the desert brought high temperatures and clear skies. It just feels so wrong, especially when so much of the rest of the country has been struggling through such a hard winter.

PowerElements_of Story Structure finalOn the writing front, I’ve made some small progress on the prequel to The Lore of Efrathah, but of course the real news is Power Elements of Story Structure, my writing instruction ebook. Just the other day, I got an email from Amazon–an ad really, for books in the education category, and Story Structure was the first on the list. I have to admit, that was . . . kind of a cool feeling. Sort of like seeing your book on the bookshelf at the book story, I imagine. Of course, I have no idea how many people Amazon sent that particular ad to. But it was nice to think that people I don’t know might see it and consider buying it.

Speaking of the book, if anyone has read it and would be willing to write a review, I’d be very grateful. I understand those are a big help in selling books on Amazon.

I think I’ve hopscotched from one topic to another enough for one day. Blessings on you.

Gotta Love The Dodgers


Dodgers_coach_Larry_Bowa_wearing_a_batting_helmet,_spring_training_2008No, there’s no metaphor here or any symbolism or spiritual lesson behind the scenes. I’m a sports nut, and I’m enjoying cheering for the Dodgers. They were the first major league team in any sport that I followed, so it’s fitting.

I admit, I went through a period after the latest strike and a series of steroid scandals in which I lost interest in baseball altogether. It didn’t help that the Dodgers experienced a change of ownership that could not uphold the proud tradition of the team.

Steroid scandals are still plaguing the sport, but at this point it seems the current crop of Dodgers are not connected with the ongoing league investigation. Most of them are too young. They’ve only been in the league for a few short years.

Well, “most of them” is probably an exaggeration. To be honest, I’m still getting to know who’s on the roster. I’ve only been following them for about six weeks–sort of that turn-around point when manager Don Mattingly said the season started anew for the guys in Dodger blue.

Don_Mattingly_(2011)The fact that Mattingly was still the manager was a minor miracle as the media pundits had him on the way out unless he had a particularly good series against . . . I forget which team. I think the Dodgers might have been swept.

But to the surprise of all those sports talkers, the new, new ownership–a group of sports lovers which includes Magic Johnson–stuck by their manager. They recognized that no one on the team had given up and that Mattingly hadn’t been playing with the line-up he expected due to a rash of early injuries.

As some of those players who had been on the DL (disabled list), returned to action, a new-comer burst on the scene, too–a raw talent with all kinds of enthusiasm named Yasiel Puig.

Those in the know call Yasiel a 5-point athlete. He is fast, has a strong arm, can hit for power, can hit for average, and plays defense. But he’s still a bit of a diamond in the rough, which is why he was in Triple-A. Sometimes he misses his cut-off man. Sometimes he tries too hard to hit home runs. Sometimes he makes base-running blunders. But he also gets key base hits and makes spectacular catches in right field. Sometimes he throws runners out or steals bases or stretches a single into a double.

He plays with abandon–at least he did until the All Star break. Now he’s settling in a little and seems aware that the world is watching. He’s a good human interest story, having come from Cuba by way of Mexico. His is a rags-to-riches story, and we still love to hear those.

But the Dodger success has more to do with the changes Don Mattingly made in the bullpen, so that the games the Dodgers had been losing in the late innings, they now are winning. And it has to do with improved defense, and key hitting.

Shortstop Hanley Ramirez has figured into both those last factors. He came off the DL days after Yasiel Puig joined the parent club. When was the last time a shortstop was a clean-up hitter? It’s new to me, but Hanley is managing to hit better than .380 in that spot. He’s either driving in runs or getting on base or moving runners over.

But from top to bottom the Dodger line-up can hit (in July the team batting average is .292). And now, after struggling through April and May and a good part of June, they are actualizing their potential. And they still have an ace up their sleeves.

Arguably their best player who isn’t a pitcher, Matt Kemp, is once again on the DL. After nursing a pulled hamstring for far too long, he finally sat down, healed, and had just come back. Oh, I forgot the shoulder thing. He re-injured the shoulder he’d had surgery on, so sat for a short while to heal that. Then he came back for a couple days and was smoking! I mean, home runs, key base hits, his usual outstanding defense.

Everyone was wondering how the Dodgers were going to juggle four outfielders who all deserved to start. And then Kemp slid into home. Well, he actually slid into the catcher’s shin-guard-covered leg blocking home plate, and broke his ankle.

But he’ll be back. And the Dodgers, full of confidence now, don’t look like they’ve got a mind to slow down. They just might be the best team in baseball. Since the All Star break they’ve won 10 of 11 games. Since the beginning of Don Mattingly’s season reboot, they’re winning 80% of their games. That’s unheard of in baseball.

The thing is, they’re winning in all the ways there is to win. They’ve dominated teams offensively, they’ve won pitching duels. They’ve even won ugly–ever heard of a team striking out 20 times in a game and WINNING? Yep, the Dodgers managed that just the other day. They’re winning at home. They’re winning away. They’re beating teams in their division and those outside. They’re beating AL teams as well as NL teams.

This time of year I’m normally getting excited about the start of football. But pardon me for staying focused on baseball a while longer. It’s pretty fun to be a Dodger fan these days. 😉

Published in: on July 31, 2013 at 7:42 pm  Comments (3)  
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March Madness


USAirwaysCenter-2008NCAAWestRegionalWhat’s mad about watching college basketball? Here are my random thoughts about the tournament so far.

The Pac-12 has once again shown how underrated a conference they are. Too many of the media pundits fall in love with one line of thinking–this year that the Big Ten is by far the superior conference. Of all people to be the voice of reason–surprise, surprise, it’s Charles Barkley who said more than once that the teams out west don’t get the respect they deserve.

I’m looking for at least one Pac-12 team to make the elite eight.

I don’t fill out my brackets like everyone else. I pick winners round for round. I mean, if you don’t have the right two teams playing each other in round two, how can you possibly predict a winner?

Last night I finished the night 11-5. Like many others, I missed on New Mexico vs. Harvard. I saw the Lobos play in the Mountain West final and thought they looked impressive, but I remember UCLA losing to Princeton some years back, so I know it’s unwise to take an Ivy League team for granted. Of course, New Mexico may simply have been experiencing the letdown that naturally comes after achieving a goal. You feel relieved, not hungry.

I lost all three of my upset specials. I chose Bucknell over Butler, but Butler won by 12. Then I picked Montana over Syracuse, but by over 40 points the Orangemen demolished the Montana Grizzlies who didn’t have their leading scorer due to injury. My third miss was taking Valparaiso over Michigan St. I saw the Spartans play in their conference tournament and thought they could be upset. But it wasn’t to be. Michigan St. won by eleven.

The game I’m second guessing myself about is Pittsburgh vs. Wichita. I wanted to pick Wichita. I started to write them into my bracket, but then I remembered Pittsburgh’s reputation for tough defense. I went with the number eight seed, and I was wrong! Wichita pulled off the minor upset.

Glancing at today’s scores, it doesn’t look like I’ll fare quite as well with this half of the bracket. As long as UCLA wins, I won’t mind.

Yea, March Madness! 😀

Published in: on March 22, 2013 at 6:38 pm  Comments Off on March Madness  
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Olympics!


After I lost the start to my original post, I decided I’d save that one for another day and send you all to your television sets to enjoy the Olympics. It’s a great time.

I’ve loved the Olympics for as long as I can remember, even before I had the privilege of attending a few events in the 1984 Summer Games held in Los Angeles.

My favorite so far this year are the women’s and men’s indoor volleyball matches. I’ve also enjoyed the water polo. The announcers explained some things that I’ve never understood before, so the game makes more sense to me now.

I watched cycling on the first day–just because that was on, and it was The First Day! I would watch all the US basketball if I had cable, but it’s probably a good thing I don’t.

Gymnastics–I watch, but I hate every recital of the horrible injuries these young people have sustained on their way to reaching this phase of their career. It’s horrible hearing about their concussions, torn ligaments, broken collarbones, sprained ankles, knee surgeries, and more. If any other kid had the collection of bruises and medical issues these athletes have, we’d be calling social services to investigate whether or not they were subject to abuse.

To make matters worse, the media praises “pushing through” or a quick recover. They make heroes of the kids that take the punishment in order to win.

But a good spanking to help shape their character? My no! How can you suggest such a thing?

Just a little inconsistency there.

So gymnastics isn’t my favorite sport, to put it mildly.

I’m sad that the media builds up athletes to be heroes before they’ve done anything. There’s the girl that was to win the gold medal in the women’s gymnastics all around who didn’t even qualify. And the men’s team slated for the gold medal that didn’t even get on the podium.

Then Michael Phelps and the anticipation that he would come away with the most medals of any US athlete ever. So in his first event, he barely qualified for the final and didn’t medal.

Or how about the man the media has been building up to replace him–the one whose time is now, but who couldn’t keep the French swimmer from overtaking him in the relay?

The question is, what happened? The implication is, you let us down. But it was the media who built the expectations and made us viewers think these are scripted sure things that we have but to sit back and watch.

Well, no, the other athletes who have worked and dreamed just as much as the media darlings just might have something to say about the outcome.

It’s time the media started reporting instead of trying to predict.

Now go, watch, and enjoy. 😀

Published in: on July 30, 2012 at 6:46 pm  Comments (2)  
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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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Flagrant 2


In professional basketball, a personal foul — contact with an opposing player not allowed by the rules of the game — is a violation and results in either free throws or possession of the basketball by the opposing team. A flagrant foul is a personal foul that is excessive or violent and could injure a player.

There are two levels of flagrant fouls. The first level, deemed less severe by the referees, results in a technical foul — free throws and possession of the ball by the opposing team. The flagrant 2 is the most serious, results in immediate player ejection and may also bring further suspension by the League office.

No dirty tricks, the NBA is saying. Basketball is not going to sink into violence. Players are to play by the rules, which admittedly allows some contact, but they aren’t to deliberately hurt anyone either by intentionally trying to do so or by playing so rough, that’s the inevitable consequence.

These flagrant foul rules came into the league a few years after Boston’s Kevin McHale close-lined Lakers forward Kurt Rambis and threw him on his back as he was going up for a lay-up. As I remember, McHale was called for a foul, received no technical, and was not ejected from the game.

Professional hockey used to be known more for the fights on the ice than any actual skating and scoring, but their league also took action and has done much to clean up the game so that it is growing in popularity.

Schools are beginning to call a flagrant 2 on bullies. No more purposeful, intentional, harmful bashing — physically or emotionally — of another student. The damage is too great and the repercussions are unacceptable.

The problem, however, is that the flagrant 2 is a penalty, not a prevention. Yes, in sports and perhaps in schools, the penalty may act as a deterrent. That would seem to be the case in hockey, and fewer players are being thrown on their backs these days in professional basketball.

But the flagrant 2 does not address the heart of the matter — the heart. Bullies of any stripe in any venue don’t care about the rules. They only care about not getting caught.

How else can we explain a professional football coach paying players to go out and hurt athletes on opposing teams? Rules don’t matter to guys like that, so no flagrant 2 ruling is going to change a person like that.

What will?

A heart transplant.

Chuck Colson, who died on Saturday, is proof of what a new heart can do. He was involved in the greatest political scandal of US history, and ended up serving jail time because of it. But in the midst of the finger-pointing and cover-ups, he found Christ, and the world began to see what a changed life looks like.

No, Mr. Colson didn’t turn his life around. His personal flagrant 2 didn’t set him straight or even scare him straight. He actually entered prison as a Christian, and as God so often does, He used what appeared to be the lowest point of Mr. Colson’s life to do something of greatness.

It was in prison that Mr. Colson came to understand what life was all about and what his purpose was for. A year or so after his release from jail, he founded Prison Fellowship. The change in this man’s heart began to have widespread affects, not just in the lives of the inmates who had the opportunity to hear about Jesus Christ but in the Church as it came face to face with the responsibility to reach beyond the boundaries of our comfort zone to our neighbors we’d rather flag with a flagrant 2 and be done.

Mr. Colson has given the Church far more than we may realize today. I suspect his legacy will be among the great Christian thinkers. Well, it already is.

“Precious in the sight of the LORD
Is the death of His godly ones” (Ps. 116:15).

Published in: on April 23, 2012 at 8:31 pm  Comments Off on Flagrant 2  
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