A Kind of Secret Force


Philip Yancey, in What’s so Amazing about Grace?

Jesus’ images portray the kingdom as a kind of secret force. Sheep among wolves, treasure hidden in a field, the tiniest seed in the garden, wheat growing among weeds, a pinch of yeast worked into bread dough, a sprinkling of sale on meat–all these hint at a movement that works within society, changing it from the inside out. You do not need a shovelful of salt to preserve a slab of ham; a dusting will suffice.

Jesus did not leave an organized host of followers, for he knew that a handful of salt would gradually work its way through the mightiest empire in the world. Against all odds, the great institutions of Rome–the law code, libraries, the Senate, Roman legions, roads, aqueducts, public monuments–gradually crumbled, but the little band to whom Jesus gave these images prevailed and continues on today.

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Much to Learn from the Spirit of Jesus


Philip Yancey, in What’s So Amazing about Grace?

Today, each time an election rolls around Christians debate whether this or that candidate is “God’s man” for the White House. Projecting myself back into Jesus’ time, I had difficulty imagining him pondering whether Tiberius, Octavius, or Julius Caesar was “God’s man” for the empire.

… the man I follow, a Palestinian Jew from the first century, had also been involved in a culture war. He went up against a rigid religious establishment and a pagan empire. The two powers, often at odds, conspired together to eliminate him. His response? Not to fight, but to give his life for these his enemies, and to point to that gift as proof of his love.

Among the last words he spoke before death were these: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[We] have much to learn from the spirit of Jesus.

Source: Much to Learn from the Spirit of Jesus

The Great Christian Spec-Fic Debate


Great insight from Avily Jerome on the Speculative Fiction genre in Christian literature.
I’m still figuring out my genre … and don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fit myself into a single one, but for anyone who is wondering what speculative fiction is, or how it fits in with Christian literature, this is a good read.

The New Authors Fellowship

spec fic

There has been a lot of debate lately among Christian Spec-Fic authors about the Christian Spec-Fic market, how it relates to the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), the secular market, and the market in general, and how the genre as a whole is failing. There are those who, as Ben Wolf detailed in this post, and Mike Duran discusses here, feel as though the Spec-Fic genre is badly under-represented at the ACFW conference and other similar conferences. The discussions on Facebook that led to these posts, and the following discussions in the comments cover virtually every opinion on the matter. There are those who are all for conferences like Realm Makers and the opportunity it provides for like-minded writers to converge and learn. There are those who go into how much benefit the ACFW provides for writers of all kinds, and those who point out that it’s a…

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Online Apologetics Conference


Online Apologetics ConferenceIt’s happening now! 

Join “Women Equipping Women” – the Online Apologetics Conference 2014, Friday and Saturday, October 24 and 25.

Register and receive free access to the archives, so you can listen at your leisure — 16 sessions for only $21.

http://onlineapologeticsconference.com/

I’ll be speaking tomorrow morning at 9 am (Pacific Time) on the Teleological Argument, and how it ties in with purpose and worth. Would love to see you there!

Until then, enjoy a glimpse into tomorrow’s session:

It’s a journey to find truth – sometimes a long journey – just as it is a journey to find purpose. Last week, my husband brought home a movie, Mom’s Night Out. He was immensely amused by the first few minutes, because the movie starts off with a mother of three children blogging about her crazy mommy-life. I’m a mother of three children, and I’m a blogger. I blog about parenting, and … well, let’s just say I could relate to the mother, who was somewhat obsessive about cleanliness.

Moms Night OutAfter a miserable Mother’s Day, the woman tells her husband that the life she is living is the life she always imagined. Marrying a wonderful guy. Being a mother. She felt a sense of purpose. But she asked her husband, “Why am I not happy?”

That deep question of her heart was not answered right away. But part of the answer came one night, after a fiasco of an evening. She turned to an acquaintance and expressed her concerns about not being enough for her family, for her friends, or her children. Not being enough for God.

The guy listening offered another prepositional phrase: For you. “You’re not enough for you.” That was the bottom line, in a way. The character understood her purpose. She was living her dream, but she was forgetting (or maybe just too busy to realize) that her worth was not measured by the sum total of her achievements as a mother, as a wife, or as a friend. Beyond all that, in spite of all that, she was defined by her worth in Christ. God loved her, and He was not using the same measuring stick she had been using. His “measuring stick” looks a lot different from how we picture it.

We tend to look at accomplishments, charitable deeds, good thoughts, kind words as the measure of our worth. Yes, those mean something. They make a difference. But they don’t determine God’s love towards us nor His acceptance of us. There is no ledger that God keeps to determine whether or not we will enter Heaven when this life is over. Many confuse the commandments of the Old Testament with the fulfillment of the New, concluding that our ticket to acceptance by God rests upon our actions. That our worth is determined by achievements.

But how does this really play out with God? When Jesus told the story of the Prodigal Son, he compared two brothers. In children’s books, the story often ends at the return of the younger son home to his father, with the killing of the fatted calf, and the party invitations. But someone ignored the invitation. He stayed outside, sulking. Why? The elder brother judged his worth by his achievements. More importantly, he judged his brother’s worth by his achievements. And his sibling’s actions did not measure up with his father’s reactions. When the older brother compared it against his own achievements, he came to one conclusion: Not fair.

The older brother understood something of his purpose, and he was determined to fulfill it. But he lacked understanding of his true worth. It was not about his accomplishments. It was about his father’s love.

A Tearless Morn


A Tearless Morn

Imagine being born with bad eyesight, which grows worse and worse until you’re nearly blind. I have a hard time imagining it. How much of my life would be different? No browsing through Facebook, no looking into the eyes of my children, no editing, no writing (except with a lot of errors), no driving, or taking photos, or watching my children run and play and learn and grow.

George Matheson was born with poor eyesight, which deteriorate to the point that he was virtually blind. But, to combat every difficulty or challenge, we often receive a compensation. Mr. Matheson was very gift­ed in learning. He also had a supportive family. His sis­ters even learned the academic languages of his time – La­tin, Greek, and He­brew – in order to help him in his stu­dies. He had the ability to learn entire chapters of the Bible and long passages of books and information.

After obtaining a masters at the Un­i­ver­si­ty of Edin­burgh (MA 1862), he pastored churches for over 30 years. Those to whom he preached often didn’t realize he couldn’t see. His speaking was so powerful, and he could quote scriptures and sermons from memory.

He changed his focus from preaching to writing. His most famous work is most likely the following poem/hymn:

O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O Light that lightest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day,
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

To trace a rainbow through the rain, don’t you need to see? Perhaps not. Perhaps, when our eyes have been closed to something, is when our deepest understanding of it can be brought about, of a love that will never let us go.

George Matheson said about this hymn:

My hymn was com­posed in the manse of In­ne­lan [Ar­gyle­shire, Scot­land] on the ev­en­ing of the 6th of June, 1882, when I was 40 years of age. I was alone in the manse at that time. It was the night of my sister’s mar­ri­age, and the rest of the fam­i­ly were stay­ing over­night in Glas­gow. Some­thing hap­pened to me, which was known only to my­self, and which caused me the most se­vere men­tal suf­fer­ing. The hymn was the fruit of that suf­fer­ing. It was the quick­est bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the im­press­ion of hav­ing it dic­tat­ed to me by some in­ward voice ra­ther than of work­ing it out my­self. I am quite sure that the whole work was com­plet­ed in five min­utes, and equal­ly sure that it ne­ver re­ceived at my hands any re­touch­ing or cor­rect­ion. I have no na­tur­al gift of rhy­thm. All the other vers­es I have ever writ­ten are man­u­fact­ured ar­ti­cles; this came like a day­spring from on high.

He doesn’t say what the issue was, only that it was something that caused him severe mental suffering, and that the hymn was the “fruit” of those moments. We all have those moments, don’t we?

When our “flickering torch” feels more like a candle that has burned to the end and has no life remaining.

That no morning which dawns will ever again be tearless.

Sorrowing.

Empty.

Without hope.

Yet through it all, this man who cannot see traces the rainbow through the rain, and knows that joy will come again in the morning. The words did not come from his own mind, anguished and sorrowful, but from a faith beyond himself, a knowledge that has been proved a thousand times over in the hearts of all those who believe in a Love that will not let them go, in a “life that shall endless be.”