Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Challenge

This is a challenge, an encouragement to you (and, believe me, to myself):

Is God allowed to have a real place in your life? Is your relationship with Him based on more than a feeling, more than emotions?

Do you have a well-balanced diet of God in your life-- that is, is He in every aspect of your life, not just the places where He fits in the best, where He looks the best, where He is convenient? Do you shut God out of any aspect of your life, are there things you indulge in that you know God could have no part of because He is light and they are dark (1 Jn. 1:5)?

Do you take up your cross and follow Him daily? "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Lk. 9:23

Is there anything in your life that you would not sacrifice if He asked you to?

Has He been speaking to you, but you have been ignoring it?

Are you putting forth effort to deepen your roots in Him-- through study, through prayer, through diligence? Can your faith stand the test of time? Are you sober enough to know that you can fall, but bold enough to keep standing?

Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God and His RIGHTEOUSNESS, and all the rest will be added unto you (Matt. 6:33).

God is looking for hands and feet, men and women ready and willing to be His disciples. In Matthew 66 when Jesus revealed that He was going to die many of His followers walked away because they were wanting something in the natural, they were wanting a physical restoration of Jerusalem, a physical a king to rule them, what Jesus offered was spiritual restoration. This is what He offers still. Can we be content with this? Can we accept that serving God is not glamour and worldly power? It is not prestige, it will not make us popular, it may not make us rich, but it will make us holy.

"But Godliness with contentment is great gain." 1 Tim. 6:6

And finally... Have you grown weary? As Christians we face constant battles, we are at war with the adversary and that war, though spiritual, is very real. I encourage you with this: there is no end to God's strength. Your strength may have an end, but there is never too much, there is never too hard, there is never too complicated for GOD! Your strength is not in yourself, stop looking there, it is in God, put it there, and keep it there. Throw yourself upon the word of God, feed on the word of God, stay in His promises.

"Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength:" Isaiah 26:4

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What Does God See?

I think it's time for girls to start dressing more modestly. Or, rather, that time has come and gone. To borrow the old phrase, then, it's high time girls start dressing more modestly!

I am quite remarkably fed up with tiny shorts, skimpy tops, bikinis and the like. I'm just sick of it. And most of all, I'm sick of seeing "decent godly" girls dressing this way. And I have to wonder, if I'm sick of it... isn't God?

Have we forgotten, ladies, that we are to be a reflection of Christ's virtue? When did it become okay for us to look just like the world? Is it okay for us to act just like the world? Maybe the problem is that the world is becoming more and more absurd in the way it dresses and behaves, so we as Christians decide that we're okay taking a few steps closer to promiscuity as long as we are always a few steps behind the world. This should not be okay.

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Romans 12:2
There is an idea out there, embraced by feminist culture, that a woman should be able to dress how she wants simply because it's her body, and what men think about her is their problem. Be careful, as a Christian, not to find yourself lost in the current of this feminist, liberalist, reprobate society. Remember that your body is not just yours, but God's. That being said, yes, men are responsible for their own thoughts, and godly men should be able to control their mind by "bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ", but we are not innocent if we are placing a stumbling block before our brothers. Maybe to you, it's just a cute outfit that might draw male admiration, but in reality, it might be a huge obstacle along the path of righteousness to your Christian brother. And what about the men of the world who see you dressed like all the other women out there? What will they see in you that sets you apart? Is it the light of Christ they see when they look at you, or short hemlines and tight seams?

"In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works." 1 Tim. 2:9-10
A woman of God should be a treasure in soul and body. Treasure is valuable because it is rare, it is precious, it is not easily obtained, and it usually is not in plain sight. How can your body be a treasure to your future husband if it is not carefully guarded?

"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil." Prov. 31:10-11

I want to make it clear that I'm not attacking any specific article of clothing (though I have a really hard time supporting bikinis among godly girls, unless they are worn only in private), and I'm not saying you have to start wearing a nunly frock whenever you go out in public. All I want to do is remind you that you are to be set apart! If you dress like the loose women men of this world are used to, then that is what they will and do see you as. Take heed to yourselves, and parents-- don't be afraid to speak up if your daughter is dressing in a way that could solicit ungodly male attention, she may not realize what she's doing, or maybe she does and needs a loving reprimand.

"Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God." Romans 6:13

The bottom line is, when it comes to the modesty issue, parents need to start being parents, and children of God need to start being children of God.

Stop imitating the world. Last I checked, God wasn't okay with that.
"Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." 1 Pet. 3:3-4
I ask: What does God see when he looks at you?


P.S. One more thing I just have to say, really quickly, stop putting your cell phone and other personal articles in your bra!!! Your bra is not your pocketbook, handbag, or satchel-- it's a bra, girls, and should not be used to hold things that are going to be handled by others on a daily basis-- get my meaning? Not only is this gross, but the soft breast tissue is vulnerable and carrying your cell phone in your bra can cause cancer.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Why So Much Pain?

This world is too hurt and broken. Chances are those who may be reading this have been hurt and broken at least once, likely more. I want to do two things for you: I want to tell you what you can do to find healing, and I want to tell you what you can do to stop getting hurt, perhaps quite so much. Some things are beyond our control, sometimes pain cannot be avoided, but some things in our lives we have power over, even when someone would like us to think that we don't. You always have a choice, remember that. You always have a choice. There are some common mistakes that lead us to undue pain, and I want to address those. If you have ever been in pain, please take the time to read this. This list is by no means all inclusive, but these are some things that are quite often on my heart...

1. We ignore the warning signs
Sometimes we get hurt by someone or a situation only to look back and realize that something wasn't right all along. When you got involved with that person or put yourself in that position, there was a little flag that came up, a small voice that said, "Wait a minute, are you sure?" And you ignored it. Listen to those warnings, no matter how faint, no matter how loudly the big stupid voice in your excuse filled brain tries to out-shout them. When you get a little check in your spirit, there is usually a reason, and even if it's just your imagination, wouldn't you rather consider and search out the situation more diligently before rushing in? Stop. Think. Don't fall into the dangerous cycle of being hurt through turning a blind eye. Keep both eyes open, always. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil. Prov. 4:27

2. We rush
If we are rushing into things, we may not even have the time to hear or see the warnings. No matter how right something feels, rushing, unless it is to the feet of God for deliverance, is rarely a good idea. When we move too quickly we miss the details. You notice a lot more when you walk through a neighborhood than you do when you drive through it. Take the time to observe and make intelligent informed decisions about your life. "...he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly." Prov. 14:29

3. We take bad counsel
How often do we go to the people who will tell us what we want to hear, rather than the ones who will tell us what we need to hear? If you are seeking counsel from a person because you know they will agree with you, then you're quite possibly seeking counsel from the wrong source. We need to reach out to people who will be lovingly honest with us, the ones who tell us the truth that hurts. We may be surprised sometimes to find how much they can truly relate to us and that they are speaking from personal experience and likely past pain. If somebody really cares about you, they will probably tell you what you don't want to hear, they will probably make you angry, frustrated, but they will do it all because they care about you. Someone who tells you that you are okay exactly where you are at is often someone who does not love you or even understand what love is.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Proverbs 27:6
4. We let fear win
Fear is perhaps our biggest enemy in everything in this life. Fear of letting go, fear of facing the truth, fear of pain, of the unknown, fear of other people-- what they will think, what they will do, what they will say if we make this decision or that decision, and fear of letting them down. If we want true victory in our lives, we have got to stop worrying about what people will think of us, we have got to step forth and trust. Because the right decision always, always ends with 100% peace. The road may be rocky getting there, but it's so worth it. "...perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment..." 1 Jn. 4:18
5. We reject good counsel
This could go along with no. 3, but I think it's important enough to have its own slot. Not only do we reject good advice when we hear it, but we actually try to avoid it when we're bent on getting our own way. Good counsel exists for exactly that purpose-- it is GOOD! This means that it will result in good things for you. I'm going to be frank, you get yourself into messes time and time again then sit around expecting pity and feeling sorry for yourself, but what if you had actually listened to the people who tried to warn you not to start down that path to begin with? Stop hurting yourself by closing your heart and ears. Freedom comes when we open ourselves to the wisdom of others. So listen up! A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: Prov. 1:5
6. We lower our standards
There are lots of pathetic people and pathetic situations in our world today, and sometimes it's almost easy to bend just a little bit and accept for ourselves something that is less than we know we deserve and need. Yes, I used the word deserve. You don't deserve to be treated with disrespect, you don't deserve to be abused or hurt, you don't deserve someone who will belittle you with their words, you don't deserve someone who will pressure you to cross boundaries you know you should not cross. Whether this is in friendships, relationships, jobs, etc., YOU need to stand up tall to the standards you once set for yourself. Do not stoop, stop accepting something less than you were made for. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. James 4:17
7. We hide the truth
We don't open up and let people know how much we are hurting. This may be because of shame, fear of judgment, or simply that we think they won't care or it won't make a difference. But I'm telling you, it's bogus. I have been bound more tightly by the chains of secrecy and fear of openness than any other chains in my life, and it brought nothing but constant pain until I was delivered. In the end, you realize there really was no reason to hide the truth, that healing would have come a lot easier, a lot sooner, and so much pain could have been spared if you just would have been honest. I want to tell you, it is never too late to open yourself up. Sure, openness always brings the risk of hurt, but in my opinion the hurt that heals is much better than the hurt that burns on with no hope of recovery, the hurt you bear alone. Stop believing the lies that the enemy of your life wants you to believe, stop living in emotional isolation. Seek help, go to people you know will care for and love you... I believe there are many more of them out there than you think. Start by looking to the One who created you. "...the truth shall make you free." Jn. 8:32
8. We accept defeat
When the above steps have been taken, quite often they lead to a feeling of utter defeat. We accept "This is what I am, who I am, I've gone so deep, I've strayed so far, there's not even a point in trying to get out of this mess." Friends, that is a lie from the depths of Hell itself. It is NEVER too late to turn around, it is NEVER too late to heal, and there is NEVER a point where we should give up and accept this lowest standard of living. The bottom line is, within this sort of thinking lies the greatest torment, the greatest hopelessness, the greatest despair and poison of the soul, and the only thing that separates such a person from their healing, is choice. Make the choice today to be healed. Your life is in your own power, you are in control of the decisions you make, you write the story, you take the first step. So get up and take it.
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 15:57
In closing, I want to say this. I understand that pain is real, I understand that what you face may look very powerful and seem overwhelming, and I'm not saying that escaping it is the easiest choice you will ever make, it will probably be the hardest, but I can say that once you do make it, you will find the perfect peace your soul craves. I beg you with all of my heart this moment to break the chains that bind you to what is hurting you. End that relationship, walk away from that situation, tell that person what you did, ask for forgiveness, make it right, own up, face your fear. If you don't know where to start or how, then reach out. You may have someone closer to you than I am, and I'm certainly not the wisest person in this world, but whoever you are, whether I know you or not, if you need help, I offer myself. Don't hide any longer. God wants to set you free.

For with God nothing shall be impossible. Luke 1:37
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows... Isaiah 53:4

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What do I get out of this?

You know, I didn't realize I was one of those people. I always recognized them when I saw them and I never thought I had the symptoms, but recently it hit me in the face: I was looking at some situations with a "What do I get out of this?" attitude, even if I wasn't literally thinking it.

Take my writing for example. There was a time when I wanted to share a meaningful message with the world, but over time, more than anything, I think I just wanted to get my books published so that I could be, well, at least somewhat famous. I thought that my book was a thousand times better than everything else on the market and therefore should be published. Praise the Lord, my feet were brought back to earth this past week as I learned that it's not about how great I am-- it's about asking, How can I make a difference, How can I help people, How can I bless people with my writing? Somehow I began to lose sight of that and made myself so high and mighty that I was just that much better than all the others.

But guess what.... It's not about ME! Praise the Lord, it's not about me!

We should have passion for what we do, but above all else we should have passion for God, and what we do, what we say, what we write, should be fueled by that passion and by our love, or compassion, for others.

If I write what God wants me to write, then I don't even need to worry about elevating myself-- God will get that message where it needs to go. My job is simply to do God's bidding.

I've realized that some very dangerous things start to happen when we adapt a "What do I get out of this?" mindset.

We forget to look beyond ourselves. We focus only on our own problems. We pray less for others and a lot for ourselves. Now, it's good to pray about the issues in our life-- we should do that, but we should not just be asking God "Please, fix this, fix that, please." How about asking, "What can I do to help You fix the broken?"

We become selfish. This one seems obvious, but selfishness creeps into our lives so subtly that I don't think we often recognize it until it's snuggled up on the sofa nursing on a bottle of self pity. Jesus came to give Himself away though He was the Son of God! If the Son of God saw fit to have a servant's heart and die to himself, then shouldn't I do the same???

We miss out on the blessings God has for us. When we set out to seek the best for ourselves we lower the standard that God has set for our lives. God has great plans for us (Jer. 29:11), plans to prosper us, to bless us above what we could think or ask (Eph. 3:20,21). If I set out to gain all the good things I can think up, I'm cheating myself, because God can do so much more for me! It will probably look nothing like what we envision for ourselves-- it may not be glamorous, it may not make us popular, it may not make us rich, but it will most assuredly make us blessed.

We miss out on making a difference in the lives of others. If we are caught up into "My needs, My desires, My feelings" then we are missing out on others needs, others desires, others feelings, where we could be making a difference and helping to change hearts. Satan wants to do all he can to keep us forever in a cocoon, it has always been his desire to cut off the gospel from being heard and from being lived. But God wants us to let our light shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven (Matt. 5:16)!

I'm not saying that we can never spare ourselves a thought. There is a time and a season for every purpose under Heaven, but God's setup and desire for us has always been: God first, others second, and ourselves last. That is the perspective we need to keep. Our needs and desires have a place, but it is last place. If we seek Him first, all of our needs will be met (Matt. 6:33). We don't need to worry about that. God is taking care of us, He has no problem with taking care of us, He wants to take care of us! The question is, how can we help Him care for this world? It may be very small, it may be simply giving a listening ear, it may be forgiving someone, it may be offering encouragement, caring for a child, being a shoulder to cry on, giving, sacrificing, offering, caring, loving, sharing, teaching, touching, sacrificing... Whatever it is, it will never be about me. God already made it about me when He died on the cross; that is where my scars were healed, my sins forgiven, my needs met, my sicknesses cured. The truth is, we can have every appearance of doing good, but if we're not careful, even in ministry we can make it about us. It's time to make it about God, it's time to make it about YOU, I've had enough of "It's about me".

"And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself."  Luke 10:27

That is just some stuff God has been teaching me. I pray that it is a blessing to you as well.

Love in Christ,

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Book Review: The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn

"Frontier dangers cannot hold a candle to the risks one woman takes by falling in love."
Review for: The pursuit of Tamsen Little John by Lori Benton

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In the wake of her mother's death and a suitor forced upon her by her gold digging stepfather, Tamsen risks all by fleeing with a stranger who seems to be her one hope of freedom. As the two are pursued by Tamsen's enraged stepfather and the would-be suitor who believes her to have been kidnapped by her mother's murderer, they face one danger after another, seeking safety amidst a region on the brink of war with itself and the native tribes.

Author Lori Benton has woven a masterful tale in a rarely visited era of history. Her story, plot, and characters are fresh, her style and workmanship beautiful and her setting well-rounded and well researched. This woman did her homework and possesses real talent-- and it shows. The story maintains great forward motion, packed with action and suspense, and gives you just enough time to catch a breather between turmoil. There was only one point, at about the middle of the book, when I feared the story would fall flat, but my fears were quickly abated. The reader will not have time to get bored. But it's not just the suspense and the action, it's the fact that the author can actually write and tell a good story.

I would compare the atmosphere of this book to Gilbert Morris's works, but with a woman's touch, and with less sensuality.

Discretionary notes:

I have decided to start including a "parent friendly" guide along with my reviews, as I know a lot of Christian romance readers are young ladies. Let me first say to you, as a parent or as a reader, NEVER trust a book to be clean just because it claims to be inspirational. That said, here are some things you may want to know about this book before placing it into the hands of your young adult readers (minor spoilers possible).

There is at least one murder, domestic abuse, an almost rape and a rape that happens off the pages is mentioned, but never detailed. There are gunfights (in which people get shot), fistfights, bloody wounds and other injuries.

As mentioned above, there are two instances of rape (one off page that is only mentioned, and one that almost happens, mostly also off page). Characters occasionally admire each other's physical build or beauty (in one scene a man swims in front of a woman dressed in very little clothing), but it does not go into great detail. There are just a couple scenes I recall with kissing. Although it's not on the pages, it is very obvious that characters sleep together after marriage and the topic is discreetly talked about; one scene takes place just after.

I hope you find this review helpful.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for nothing but my honest review.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Movie Review: God's Not Dead

A college freshman must defend his faith against a passionate atheist professor, by putting God on trial in front of the entire classroom. Josh must convince his classmates that God exists in order to earn a passing grade in his philosophy class, but more than that, he must take a stand for what he knows is right.

This story, while focusing mostly on Josh and Professor Raddison and the conflict between and within them, also follows the lives of several individuals who share a commonality: each of them struggles with the position in which their beliefs --or lack thereof-- have placed them. Each must choose whether to hold their ground, or to surrender.

God's Not Dead is a passionate story about standing for your faith, holding onto your faith, and finding your faith. Often my concern with inspirational movies such as this, is that they will become overly sappy, unrealistic, or cheesy, but I felt this film held itself together well with relevant and thought-provoking content. Impressive were the performances by the leading cast, as well as those supporting. One concern about this movie, specifically, was the incorporation of the Newsboys and the Robertsons (Duck Dynasty), as cameos can sometimes feel out of place and forced, and often musicians make poor actors; yet, I felt that the appearances were appropriately placed and the scenes handled with finesse.  I could pick at fine details, but as for the good and bad, the good certainly outweighed the bad. Above all, the message was powerful, and the quality top-notch (considering its limited budget).

It's too bad this film had such a limited release. Only one of the three theaters in our area was playing it, and the showing we intended to go to sold out; the one we attended looked to be very nearly sold out as well. The audience's response to the film was wholly positive. I'm not sure when was the last time I witnessed that much cheering in a movie theater. I hope this means there will be more films of like moral quality in the future.


I wanted to address the question, also, of whether or not this film was based on a true story, as some have wondered. It is not literally a true story-- the characters and plotline are fictional; however, in the end credits a lengthy list of actual court cases is given, upon which the case for God in the movie is based.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

ABNA 2014!

It's that time again, time for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards!

I had decided not to enter this year, since last year, while having relative success, I felt that my book just wasn't what they were looking for. But, my dear husband convinced me to enter anyway. "What do you have to lose?" he asked. And it was true, if I didn't try because I was afraid of failing, then how was I ever going to get anywhere as a writer? So, once again, with a day or two to spare until the deadline, I threw my novel, A Wife for Miles Bradley, into the contest.

Today the round two entrants were announced, and YES I'm on the list! Last year I made it this far plus into the next round (the quarter finals), and I'm excited to see how far I make it this year. If nothing else, it's a fun experience, and forces me to put myself out there and let others read my work, which is an important step for all of us who are a little shy about sharing our work. After last year's success I found myself a let less timid about letting others look at my work, so if nothing else, these kinds of contests are great for boosting our boldness. So, I encourage all you aspiring writers: don't be afraid to put your work out there if you really want to be successful. Someday you hope that the world will be reading your works, so why not start with your sister or cousin, a reading group or a contest (but, as always, take advice with a grain of salt, and don't let criticism discourage you, let it inspire you to do better!).

Those of us who made it into round two now have to try to forget about the contest for a month, until the top 500 are announced. Best hopes for all who made the first cut!

Oh, and a quick shout-out to my husband who is relentlessly supportive of my writing, and never, ever lets me get down on myself. Also, thanks to all of my wonderful family and friends who have always given me nothing but support. So much love to you all.

For anyone who may be interested, here is the link to the contest page. My book is in the Romance category.

Happy dreaming!


Friday, March 14, 2014

The Spirit of a Kissing Sailor

Today I read that Glenn Mcduffie, the man who claimed to be the kissing sailor in Alfred Eisenstaedt's iconic V-J Day photo, died of natural causes at 86. And, as I stared at this photo (which I often do), I realized I felt as though the spirit of it has died, too.

When I think of the ideal old America, I think of this photo; it has always fascinated me. It is hard these days, in this world of critics, to believe something like this could happen. When WWII victory was confirmed, spontaneous celebrating burst forth in the streets of New York and other cities across the world. In some ways, I'm jealous of the people in this photo-- not the fact that they endured such an atrocious war, necessarily, but the fact that they did not allow that war to kill their spirit. I'm not simply speaking of patriotism, but of good old fashioned conviction for what you stood for. Victory was sweet because what they fought for was, for them, a worthy cause. Victory was sweet because they had sacrificed much, given much, worked hard and fought hard, whether on the battlefields or the homefront.

I see this photo, and others like it, and I yearn for a time of goodwill and of good people. Maybe that is an ideal that never really existed, or maybe it did and has been lost over time; maybe it's not as lost as we think it is, but so much bad news has muddied our blue skies. The fact is, it doesn't have to be lost, not on me, and not on you. We can bring back a time of high moral ideals and good will, starting in our own hearts, then in our own homes, with our own families, then with all those we encounter. We can hope the best for others, we can help, we can have compassion, we can believe. 

It's so easy to join the negative bandwagon, it's so easy to lose your hope in humanity, but will talking about how bad matters are make matters better? Perhaps the key is not waiting for good news to come along to celebrate, but to live this life with our eyes open wide enough to see what is actually worth celebrating. I'm sure you and I could recall a hundred bad things that happened to us the past month, if we wanted to, but what would that do for me? How would that help you? What if, instead, we focused on the good, what if we talked more about the good than the bad? Over the years I have read various articles and heard multiple stories about the power of a positive outlook, living a life free of grudges and bitterness, and it has been said that such a positive perspective can even extend your life. Yet, how many of us meet people who seem infatuated with the negative? How many of us trade and deal in the negative ourselves?

Some things we have the power to change, to make better, and some things we do not. So change what you can change, and endure what you cannot change, but don't let anything kill your spirit. Find the reasons to celebrate every day, and live as if the war waged against them was just won.

I hope that Mr. Mcduffie and others of his time died feeling as though they did something positive to help their fellow man, and I hope that today, those of us who are alive, will work to keep their torches burning.

Friday, March 7, 2014

"Son of God": Pretense or Truth?

I was surprised that there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding the movie, Son of God, recently premiered in theaters. So I've been doing some thinking and researching. Here is the result.
Before I share my thoughts on this topic, I want to lay a couple things out: first, I have not seen this movie; I have only seen The Bible miniseries which, from what I understand, has many of the same scenes used in the Son of God movie.  Second, if I may be allowed to say so, I am neither defending nor promoting this movie, I just want to make a few --what I believe are reasonable-- points.
I know Christians who were deeply touched by this film, and Christians who are deeply offended by it. This makes me curious, because I like a good theological debate. Having what I believe is a decent understanding of the content of this movie (after watching the portrayal of the gospel in the miniseries) and of the argument against it (after having read some reviews opposing it), here is my two cents.
The opposing view of this movie bases it's beliefs on the altered portrayal of many of the biblical scenes, as well as the belief that the film's husband-wife creators, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, are New Age. Both of these points, to me, seem valid. I recognized many alterations from the biblical story, and I have not sufficient evidence to deny the religious status of it's creators, though I have no reason to doubt the claims I've read. Some criticism is also made against the "attractiveness" of the actor who plays Jesus.
Those who support the film were moved by it's portrayal of the gospel and draws from what truth the movie does present, either understanding enough of God's word to cast aside the inaccuracies or merely ignorant of them. Those who liked the movie were moved to desire a closer relationship with the Creator, and I see no problem with that.
What do I think? Simply put...
"What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."
                                                                                             Philippians 1:18
To elaborate, God will judge the hearts of the people behind this film if they are indeed wicked and sinful, but no matter what their heart motive may be, God can still use this film to convict people and draw believers closer to Him. Surely, Satan himself thought he had the victory at the cross, but death itself was swallowed up in victory when Christ rose again (1 Cor. 15:54), and Satan cast forever from the presence of God in Heaven (Is. 14:12, Rev. 8:10). People can have all kinds of motives, but God, who is much more powerful, can use even a little bit of truth to draw people to Himself, and from there can lead you on to more sound doctrine. Those who do not believe and are moved by this film, if they are sincerely open, will be driven to seek out God through HIS WORD and they can learn the truth of Him through that. Those who have a good understanding of God's doctrine, can and should take this movie-- and ANY religious film, including The Passion (created by Mel Gibson who, according to, is a Roman Catholic)-- with a grain of salt. "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." 1 Thess. 5:21.
I wish not to be a stumblingblock to my brothers and sisters: if you believe it is wrong for you to view this film, then do not see it. If you believe it will help you draw closer to God, or simply have no qualms against seeing it, then see it. "To him who knows the good to do and does it not, it is sin." James 4:17.

And to briefly address Jesus' attractiveness: true, in scripture it is stated that he will not be anything spectacular to look upon, but how often do you see an ugly actor? This is Hollywood and what else do we expect? (Note that I, personally, did not find this Jesus attractive.) And, anyway, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, you can lust after someone no matter what they look like, so if silly women are lusting after this actor, or anybody, they will be judged for that.
If I wanted only 100% truth unaltered by the doctrine of man, I would very likely have to throw out literally every book and movie I own (including sincerely religious works) and read only the Bible; while that would not be a bad thing, my point is that we must always look first and foremost to God's word as standard, and take only from other materials those parts which align themselves with God's word and cast off the parts which do not. It us up to each of us to decide what holds enough truth to be worth our time and what does not.

So, in answer to my title question, "Pretense or Truth?" God knows, but, personally, I'd sooner make an argument against some of the botched up translations of the Bible, since they actually claim to be God's word, than a film that states clearly (at least in the miniseries) in the beginning that it strives only to be true to the spirit of the Bible. One thing that impressed me, which was not omitted from the miniseries, was Jesus' statement to the woman caught in the act of adultery, "Go and sin no more." (Jn. 8:11) To me, that is the spirit of God's message-- freedom from sin, through Jesus Christ.
"So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." Romans 14:12
These are just my thoughts; as I said, I'm not seeking to defend nor condemn this movie, I just want to give people something to think about. Comments are always welcome.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My 5 Steps to Overcoming Writer's Block

These are some things I am enforcing in my own life, and thought I'd share for others. Even if you're not a writer, find something you love, something that makes a difference, and do it with a passion and without distraction. Don't let it be a shelter from the cares of life; rather, let your cares bleed into it and you will find a masterpiece within yourself.

My 5 Steps to Overcoming Writer's Block

1. Stop thinking your writing is terrible. The fact is, the more you write, the better you will get; even if what you write is bad, you will recognize it, analyze why, and make corrections in the future.

2. Stop getting hung up because you don't know what to write. Give yourself a project-- come up with a book/short story and write it even if you think it's cliché or won't go anywhere. Write and inspiration will come (don't stop until it does).

3. Stop being lazy. Discipline yourself to write five or six days a week for a certain amount of time or until you reach a specific word count.

4. Stop getting distracted. Don't let Facebook, e-mail, games or whatever newsfeed has your attention get in your way. If you must, give yourself an allotted time to cater to these distractions-- perhaps an hour a day. If you find you can't limit your time, wait until after you've met your daily writing quota to commit time to less important things.

5. Just write. No excuse is good enough. You're a writer, so write.


Friday, February 28, 2014

Movie Review: Austenland

Disheartened with her life, Jane (Keri Russell) buys a travel package to England, where she will become a part of an Austenland experience in which the participants get to be the heroine of their own story. But soon the wacky 18th century flashback becomes a stage of confusion. What is real and what is not? Who is acting and who is in earnest?

As a conservative Austenite (I own five versions of Pride and Prejudice on DVD, but have only read 5 of the 7 Austen novels), I was excited when I saw a preview for a movie about an Austen addict! Unfortunately, this film lacked the finesse and wit one would expect from an Austentine piece. While it was at points entertaining, the majority of its humor is suggestive and crude, if not quite vulgar (the rating is PG-13, so this is to be expected). I am usually a fan of Keri Russell and was also excited to see JJ Field (BBC's Northanger Abbey) in the lineup, and both did a decent job in this film though their roles lacked depth, which could also be said of the movie as a whole. Jennifer Coolige (A Cinderella Story, Legally Blonde) was her usual hilariously clueless yet endearing self as "Elizabeth Charming", a participant in the charade who is more interested in hooking up with a guy than anything Jane Austen. Coolige supplied the bulk of the movie's laughs, but most of those laughs were accompanied by a shake of the head and the thought, "What in the world just happened?"

The film was farfetched, fluffy, occasionally touching and weirdly endearing. I'll go with 3 stars out of 5; but be warned, it's the sort of movie I could easily see many people hating. (And a caution to Austenites: don't expect anything too deep in the way of Austen, the only novel I remember being mentioned was Pride and Prejudice.)


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Book Review: The Governess of Highland Hall

Review for:
The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

Julia Foster, who served as a missionary with her parents in India for many years, takes a job as governess to the children and two orphaned nieces of the respectable Baron, Sir William Ramsey. Life at Highland Hall proves rewarding as Julia grows to love the children and forms a friendship with Sir William's sister, Sarah, but she is met with opposition from some of the staff. Julia intends to return to India when her father recovers from the illness that brought them back to England, but matters become much more complicated when she discovers she has feelings for her employer. Can Julia and William cross the social divide in the name of love, or will William's honor and his desire to save Highland Hall from financial ruin prevent the two from being together?

As a Downton Abbey fan, I found this book to be a mediocre read. The plot seemed circular and the writing, while decent, often resorted to clichés. The characters were likeable but I had a difficult time really sympathizing with them, though I did admire Julia's upright character and strong faith throughout. I'm sorry to say there was little that prompted me to keep on reading. It was okay, it just wasn't great. three out of five stars.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Mind-Bloggling Matter

In the lasting words of Charlotte the spider, Salutations!

I have not been blogging much lately because I am in a bit of a bind. For some time I have been contemplating the possibility of starting another blog. Not a replacement for Writelicious, mind you, but a second, unrelated blog.

The purpose of Writelicious, when I created it, was mainly to share thoughts from a Christian writer/reader viewpoint, but as it turns out I blog about a somewhat wide range of matters (that is, when I actually do blog). I hesitate to say "New Years resolution", but I would like to do more blogging this year, and I hope to remain faithful to that desire.

If I created a second blog what would set it apart from this one? My second blog would be ministry focused. I would share thoughts on current events, encouragement-- especially for women, and post bible studies on it.

While Writelicious would remain, of course, Christian-driven, I would maintain a more literary and professional focus here. I am not saying I want to separate my religion from my profession, but I am thinking that this approach may be more organized and if I give myself a specific focus for each blog I MAY be more inspired to blog more (I know that doesn't make sense, but I just might).

Here are my current thoughts: since I have not done such a good job at keeping up with this blog, I should continue to post a variety of content on here, and if I am faithful at that, will then consider the second blog. Naturally, I will also be and have been praying about the matter.

If you would like the participate, I would like your thoughts and advice as well. So, if I may, I'd like to pose a few questions (please be completely honest [I accept constructive criticism]):

If I created a second, ministry related blog with women being the main target audience, would you read it, and/or would that be the sort of thing you would be compelled to share with friends and family?

Do you feel there is a need for another blog of that sort?

Also, what could I do to improve Writelicious?

What would you like to see me blog more about?

What sort of blogs do you enjoy reading most?

Please share your answers either in a response on here or on Facebook.

As ever, thanks for reading! I look forward to seeing your thoughts.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Perfectionism Syndrome

Ever since I got married I have been trying and trying and trying to claw my way back into writing. It's amazing how hard it can be to break back in after being out of it for so long! Planning a wedding was a lot of work, and it had me majorly distracted (don't get me wrong, getting married was a good thing!).

But, the good news is...

 I am writing again!

It's crap,

and it's an average of about 500 words a day,

but it's writing...

 It's something. It's a start.

You see, my biggest challenge is that I feel everything I write must be perfect, and if it's not perfect it's just poopy-diaper awful, but I am forcing myself to follow the motto on one of my favorite shirts-- "Even if it's crap, just get it on the page!" Because sooner or later, all of that crap is going to turn into something great, I just know it!

Do you ever feel hindered by a perfectionistic mindset? It can be completely daunting. The fact is, we are human, we are always growing. All we can ever do is the best we can do with what we have, and hopefully as we use what we have, we'll gain more knowledge and resources and we will get better. Sometimes you just have to fight, even when it feels like it's a losing battle, as long as what you are fighting for is what you believe in, and what you believe in is worth believing in.

Because, let's face it,

in the end there is more to life than your dream, there is love.

So dream a lot, but love more. Don't give up on what really matters. We can make our dreams so important that we want to be perfect in our achievement of them, but what if we applied that same perfectionistic mindset to the way we treat others? What if we chose try harder to never to get offended, and to do our best to never give offense? Of course that would not always be easy either, but I believe it would be just as rewarding (probably more so). Just do your best, no one is asking for more, but always strive to make your best better. If that makes sense.

Thoughts to think on.