As a genre, fantasy has made great strides in recent years, especially within Christian fiction. Yet some are still inclined to ask, “How can this be okay?”
For me, the main point of fantasy is about feeding the imagination. A healthy, daring imagination is a holy thing, and vital to raising strong, well-balanced children. While clear, anti-Biblical ideas (as opposed to merely extra-Biblical concepts such as time travel) should be viewed by parents and readers with caution, I believe too much of what is labeled “caution” or “discernment” is really READ MORE >>>
Due to FB’s stringent contest rules, I had to relocate the contest info here. Sorry for the extra step!
INTRO: Beginning immediately, I’m going to give away 3 free, signed copies of Book 3: The Song of Unmaking to 3 separate winners! Winners will receive their books just as soon as the book releases next month (late October).
MY OOPS, YOUR WIN: For those who don’t know, there’s a huge, accidental cut-and-paste error in Corus the Champion that was made AFTER the final proofing stage was complete. As it happens, a tornado ripped through my editor’s hometown this Spring. While coordinating relief efforts, right as my book was about to go to press, he inadvertently pasted a phrase from his email into my book. Boom! The results are comical and absurd. You’ll have to read page 309 to see for yourself.
Five thousand copies later, you can imagine my delight with a totally random reference to ___ ___ Baptist Church. And kettle drums. Brilliant! Worse, I didn’t even know about it until a month after print. After I calmed down, I chuckled, and then I was sobered. Really, I only lost a little bit of pride and ink. Others lost their homes, or worse. So now I’m attempting to squeeze a little lemonade out of this lemon. Maybe there’s an upside for you, too. If you own the first print run of Corus, can you say “Collector’s Item?
CONTEST: It’s real simple. The first three favorable reviews at Amazon.com READ MORE >>>
I chose to launch my blog with a series focusing on families. In particular, I’ve sought to examine various aspects of a father’s role as head of his own family. Abram/Abraham was a great template for this. If you need a quick review, this should help:
- Everything begins with God, who commits Himself in covenant to men, who then multiply covenant faithfulness through their marriage and children. God chose Abram to found the nation of Messiah for many good reasons, one of which was his daring faith. But perhaps even more was his latent understanding of fatherhood. In Abram, the heavenly Father found a suitably strong earthly representation to launch his grand designs.
- Family was central to Abram’s notion of influence and divine reward. When he imagined success, he imagined children, not money, success, fame or power.
- Sarai, his wife, was not incidental, but fundamental, to Abram’s ability to bring forth the desires of his heart and realize the promise of God. This beautifully confirms the importance of both marriage and covenant as God’s means to bringing His kingdom to earth.
- Time is not a mechanism of delay, as we often think, but the means of fulfillment to our God-sized dreams. Thus, fathers must learn to embrace the long view in raising their children. Short term solutions rarely produce lasting fruit.
- To achieve our ambitions as fathers, we must not only invest in our children, but radically follow God beyond our own comfort zone. This requires us to take risks in faith, embrace uncomfortableness, and contend for our kids.
In Genesis 15, the call to Abram and his dialog with God form a microcosm of the call to all fathers—you and me included. As I conclude this little intro series in the next few verses, things quickly take a strange turn. What’s going on?
“And (God) said to him, ‘I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.’ And he said, ‘O Lord GOD, how may I know that I shall possess it?’ So He said to him, ‘Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.’ Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. And the birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.” (Gen. 15:7-11)
While these sorts of archaic traditions may seem bizarre to modern minds, we see four important truths at work:
1. Faith abandons the norm. Since God brings us out before He brings us in, by faith we must emotionally anticipate what cannot be mentally verified. Abram’s obedience was first a risk before it was ever a reward. He had to leave the comforts of his homeland in order to inherit the great gift of God, Isaac. Similarly, we often want the surety of what only Time and Obedience can grant. Men may be born to fight, but the fact is, nearly all of us have a lazy streak. (Hint: the chair is called a La-Z-Boy, not La-Z-Girl, for a reason!) Men want the easy score, but this is the path to stunted manhood and small influence. As a lifestyle, resist it! Embrace uncomfortableness and uncertainty instead. Abram had the faith to leave what he knew in order to gain what he did not know. Men, let go the tether. Discover something beyond your control.
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Time is both fact and dilemma. It frustrates, disappoints, rewards and thwarts. It blinds us (can’t see the future); lures us (maybe today will be better); haunts us (“memories, like the corners of my mind…”); and intoxicates (I never want this moment to end!). It is perhaps the most inescapable mystery of human existence.
The Greek poet Aeschylus captured the most direct utility of Time, noting that “Time brings all things to pass.” No duh, right? Yet the observation remains useful, if only because 2500 years later, C.S. Lewis said pretty much the same thing: “The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.” In other words, you can’t escape it, you can only go through it if you wish to discover what lies on the other side. Whether we are talking about the next hour, day or decade, tomorrow is the unfulfilled mission of your life. Which brings us back to a wandering Semite named Abram, for whom God has big, big plans. Outrageous, hard-to-fathom big.
“And (God) took him outside and said, ‘Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” (Gen. 15:5-6)
The fact is, if we truly knew what God had in store for us—if all at once, our entire future could be compressed into present revelation—our brains would melt. So Time is a form of mercy, a steady-dripping IV, dosing your destiny so that READ MORE >>>
“Then the word of the Lord came to Abram, saying, ‘This man will not be your heir; but one who shall come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.’ ” (Gen 15:4)
Let us now pause and give thanks for Woman. Abram will have an heir. He’s going to be a son, not a slave. God makes this clear: “My promise will only be fulfilled from one who truly comes from you, Abram.” Since God intends to extend Abram’s genetics into the earth, Eliezer doesn’t fit the bill. But the promise is about more than just Abram the man. Remember, God is seeding the planet with a new and different kind of kingdom, from whom the one, true King will one day come. With Isaac, the genetic transfer becomes quite literal. To this day, the Jewish nation takes great pride in their physical ancestry. But physical genetics isn’t all God intended. As previously noted in Gen. 18:19, the spiritual and emotional genetics which Abram would pass to his heirs was most important of all. Who in their right mind thinks this could ever happen with man alone? God’s promise not only liberates faith in Abram, it also defines the application of that faith.
So…while God-sized dreams are obviously important (we’ll look at them in more detail in my next blog), I’m more concerned at the moment with how God brings these dreams to pass. We all have dreams. Some of us chase them, but who catches them? More grandly stated, how can an entire nation catch a dream? READ MORE >>>
Humor me. For just a moment, consider the following “thought experiment:” After a chance encounter at your local grocery store, a world-famous talent scout says you have what it takes to be great and famous. Or maybe Warren Buffett calls and says he wants to make you wealthy. Maybe you have a dream in which God promises to make you great throughout the whole earth. OK, let’s go with the last one. What would you think if God promised you a great reward? Most people (like you and me) would go to the obvious: Money, fame, success.
But there was this guy. Named Abram. He thought family. READ MORE >>>