Reprinted from the sermon archives of the late Bible teacher, Ray Stedman:
“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him” (John 14:21).
To read this, “Obey Me, and you will love Me,” produces a mechanical, dry Christianity with no warmth or joy or glory. But what Jesus says is, “If you love Me, you will obey Me.” It is easy to do, not difficult. Notice that it is not, “If you love Me, you will have to keep My commandments.” No, it is cause and effect: “If you love Me, the result is that you will keep My commandments.” That is the secret of all proper behavior in the Christian experience. The proof of our love is obedience. READ MORE >>>
Happy Thanksgiving, friends. Take time to embrace your family, drink the deep air, turn small and large moments into prayer, and celebrate the gifts of God, no matter your present circumstance.
“I believe in a life of celebration. I believe that the world we wake up to every day is filled to the brim with deep, aching love, and also with hatred and sadness. And I know which one of those I want to win in the end. I want to celebrate in the face of despair, dance when all we see on the horizon is doom…when (Death) comes for me, I want to be full-tilt, wide-open, caught in the very act of life. I think that’s what we’re here for, not for a passive, peaceful life, but to stand up in the face of all that lacks peace and demand more…God gives us something amazing when he gives us life, and I want to live with gratitude…It’s rebellious, in a way, to choose joy, to choose to dance, to choose to love your life. It’s much easier and much more common to be miserable…I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes…I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift…Because we were made for motion, for arching up toward God with all the energy and passion of a thunderstorm, lightning slicing through a sleepy world to remind us that we serve a fast-dancing God, a God who set this world whirling…Let’s sizzle and pop in his name. Let’s dance and shimmer and scrawl out our stories across the sky, like he taught us to. Let’s echo his words, and let our lives speak those words: It is good.”
— Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines:
If you love Jesus in this life, you will eventually awaken to the truth that in a sense you exist outside your true place. We are all outside perfection. We dwell in the land of mess and rain, where bullies roam. Yes, grace is there with us, like a friend drawing us back toward warmth and shelter, sustaining us. And there are those brief, wonderful glimpses of The World As It Should Be, where we do get picked for the team. We do get the candy (see previous posts 1 & 2). No more tears. No more sickness. No more cancer. No more abuse or loss. No more divorce or depression. No more school shootings or sons lost on the battlefield. But we aren’t there yet. That’s another world, the Kingdom of God, while we presently exist in the space of kingdom realization chiefly through prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth…” We long for it with sweat and blood and memory. But there is a process called Human Experience that we must endure along the way. And it isn’t always pretty. READ MORE>>>
Finding Answers in the Ache
In my previous post, I reflected on the painful silent periods of faith, using the metaphor of the darks side of the moon. When we enter periods of darkness and confusion, as difficult as it can be, we must try take a step back and enlarge our view. To this end, think of an opposite moment in your life, a good and clear moment—perhaps a time when you were intensely captivated by some person, moment or experience. Think 11 on a scale of 1 to 10. Picture it, feel it again. Do you remember the magic, the wonder? If you are struggling now, that moment is likely as far away from how you feel as the earth is from the moon. Such impossibly sweet moments should last forever! But they don’t.
Instead, what you have is a memory, rather than the continuation of the experience. Intuitively, we understand “endings,” and learn to dread them. “I wish this would never end!” we might think, even as the good thing is happening. After, in the glittering residue, and the sweet, terrible ache, we are left with confusion. What’s going on? I’ll tell you. In the middle of it all, something very important is happening. Eternity is leaking into your life.
READ MORE >>>
The Dread of Radio Silence
Flash back with me. I’ve been contemplating the dark side of the moon, the part you never see. In 1995, Tom Hanks starred in Apollo 13, the gripping account of the failed 13th mission in NASA’s famed Apollo series. The movie is a dramatic retelling of actual events that epitomized Murphy’s Law, insofar as everything that can go wrong does. With Apollo 11, the miracle of space flight was Neil Armstrong setting foot on the lunar surface, uttering his immortal line, “One small step for mankind…” Victory! America wins. Humanity wins. The world stares in wonder. With Apollo 13, the miracle was very different. It was the crisis of a small crew hurtling through space in a flimsy tin can, unable to complete their mission to the moon, dependent quite literally on duct tape and wits to overcome countless, harrowing obstacles on their beggars’ journey home. (If you haven’t seen it in a while, Netflix it.)
Perhaps the most poignant scene in the movie is when Hank’s character, astronaut Jim Lovell, realizes he and his crew will never READ MORE >>>
For the archived copy of this Chat…CLICK HERE!
I’m very happy to report that bestselling authors Donita K. Paul and Wayne Thomas Batson will join me here for a live 90 minute chat this coming Monday, Nov. 14. As most of you know, Wayne and Donita helped to pioneer the recent popularity of “Christian Fantasy Fiction.” In nearly a decade since their titles first released, hundreds of thousands of books have been devoured by grateful readers looking for thrilling, fun, true, trustworthy fantasy adventures. Wayne broke loose with the bestselling Door Within trilogy and Donita with the ever-popular DragonKeeper Chronicles. Come and join us with questions about new projects, old projects, the art of writing…or whatever is on your mind. Since both are featured in the Prize Pack of 48 titles I’m giving away, I thought it would be fun to host a chat together. Don’t miss it!
This is not my own. It is a retelling of an old Oriental proverb. Yet the wisdom it contains is simple, memorable, and impacting.
High in the Himalayan mountains lived a wise old man. Some said he was crazy. Periodically, he ventured down into the local village to entertain the villagers with his knowledge and skills. One of his skills was to foresee and name the contents of whatever the villagers held in their pockets, boxes…or minds. One day, a few young boys from the village decided to play a joke on the wise old man to discredit his “special abilities.”
One boy came up with the idea to capture a bird and hide it in his hands. He knew of course, the wise old man would perceive that the object in his hands was a bird. So the boy devised a plan. READ MORE >>>
I still recommend acquainting yourself with the full contest rules:
Mid-Level Detail or Full Blown, but the easiest version is shown below:
How much do authors invest in the backstory of their secondary characters? In an earlier post, I discussed the conventions and process of naming characters within the fantasy genre. The Legends of Karac Tor revolves around a series of adventures by four brothers in the Hidden Lands of Karac Tor. Like any story of this sort, there are many supporting characters, but I want to focus on one I’m particularly fond of. Since my tale is infused with Celtic lore, we need to go back…way back. In Celtic myth, Cerridwen was a goddess known for a special, magical brew which she stirred “one year and a day” to produce the coveted Three Drops of Inspiration. These were later stolen by young Taliesan, the legendary bard of old, who some assert to be the basis of the character Merlin. READ MORE >>>
To minimize confusion, here’s a simplified version of the rules in 6 easy steps. Don’t rely on these alone. You should still review the full “Terms and Conditions” since the details will make a difference in your chances of winning. Remember, this is a publicity contest for The Legends of Karac Tor, so not any photo entry will do. Here’s how you play:
- Click on the “Enter the Contest” tab at my Facebook Author Page
- Upload a photo of yourself reading one of my books to the Contest App and my Wall. Since the contest app only allows one entry, other photos (i.e. other books in the series) ALL go to my Wall.
- Bonus 1: Inside the Contest App, “Share/Post” a comment to your Wall. (Trust me, you can’t miss it)
- Bonus 2: Before leaving the Contest App, promote the contest by specifically tagging five or more friends
- Stay tuned to Facebook and Twitter for Wild Card challenges that can increase your point total
- Get your friends to vote for your photo (for the Second Place prize)
Each point you earn represents an entry on a list. At the end, I will randomly select a winner from all entries. Since sharing gets you the most points/entries, it also increases the chances your name being drawn. Hopefully, that’s the brilliance of my little plan, in that I can either tell a bunch of people to read my books…or I can make it fun and rewarding (via the contest) to enable readers to do it for me, i.e. show themselves reading LoKT all over Facebook. Which is more persuasive? I think you are, hands down. Read the points breakdown in the full rules, but Sharing and Promoting is the clear path to victory, I guarantee it.
Plain and simple, I’m trying to help people discover my books. To thank you for helping me, I’ve invested in some pretty great prizes. I want to build a relationship with my readers that will last for many, many years. I also want to spread the word about other great fantasy authors we all know and love. Who knows, if Reader’s Dream goes well enough, maybe I can make it an annual event?
Hope this clears things up. I also hope it’s fun for everyone. In advance, thank you!
NOTE: For those without Twitter accounts, you can still “Follow Me on Twitter” using the tab on my FB wall.