Posts Tagged ‘religion’

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So, I’m reading along in the second day of the M’Cheyene Bible Reading Plan (that I wanted to start in January and totally messed up on but moving on) and it happens that one of the chapters to read is Romans 12.  I’m reading along, and I’m reading along, and I’m reading and I’m all innocent and making notes ‘gifting, yes that’s nice, Pastor Riddell touched on that last week and that’s kinda cool to be here again’ I’m la-laing along as I do when I’m reading and enjoying the Scripture and then this happens:

Bless those that persecute you; bless and do not curse

*wthwap* right between the ole’ eyeballs, it hits like a pebble.  So I rub the bridge of my nose, and continue onward, a little more cautiously this time.  I know better than to be running pell-mell through the chapter once one verse hits. Conviction and these suckers travel together, and where one convicting little pebble verse is, there are sometimes, most times, others.   So I continue reading, rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep, nothing too pebble-of-conviction like there. And then, it avalanched  straight onto my soul.

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to hat is honorable in the sight of all.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written ‘Vengence is Mine and I will repay’ says the Lord.

To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry feed him;

If he is thirsty, give him something to drink;

Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.

Ow. Ow. Ow. OW. Ow.

Yeah, apparently there’s going to be more to this “loving my enemies” for six days than I thought. Oh, I’m all ready doing it, but the way. Through gritted teeth, and  with labored breath with sweat pricking along my forehead, but I am doing it. It’s not pretty taking a long sobering look at the ugliness of my own flesh (I’ll spare you,  no need to  terrify you)

I do think, however, Jesus is pleased with His Valentine’s Day gift. And really, that’s all that matters.

What about you, scribes, when was the last time you OUCHED over something in the Bible or the Holy Spirit pricked your spirit with an admonishment? C’mon now, I’ve shared some of my ugliness. I promise, no one will be surprised at yours. We all share the same nature, sadly.

Coram Deo.

Bought By Blood T-Shirt

In exactly six days, the dreaded “V” day will be upon us. People will scramble dreadfully to remember to get cards, and chocolates, and flowers. The level of commitment in relationships will be measured out in gifts and tokens, and those that forget this day will have some rough times ahead.

It is rather glaringly hard, to miss the fact that Valentine’s Day is coming. Stores are chock full of red, white, and pink stuffed animals, and piled with boxes shaped like hearts holding chocolate bonbons. But, who or what is Valentine?

(Other than a rather well-developed character of mine with his own fan base who hates his own name)

The name Valentine means  “Strong, vigorous, healthy” according to Behind the Name

A little bit of research on St. Valentine will bring you into a swirling, whirling vortex of controversies. Some people will claim that he married lovers in secret, in Rome in the third century when marriage was being outlawed. Others will tell you that he was a tutor to a wealthy Roman patron’s daughter and dared to share his Christian faith with her as well as teaching her to read. He was summarily executed but left her a note farewell signing it “Your own Valentine”.

While there is precious little evidence for any of these stories, I like the last one, best. However, there is proof that Valentine or Valentine’s existed according to the Catholic Church record of martyrs.  You’ll find a synopsis here, of what I think is closest to the truth.  Chaucer is mentioned in this history of Valentine and also in the Wikipedia entry on him.

While people will probably never agree on the origin of the day, or why it came to mean expressing romantic love, one to another, I have been doing some thinking of my own over the idea of Valentine’s Day. I’ve never had a sweetheart to run madly around, trying to find the perfect gift for on this day, and it really has never bothered me. In fact, it’s been a bit of a relief to not have the pressure I see others struggling under on February the 14th, but it’s also a bit of a pain to tell to those who ask on the 14th “No, I don’t have a Valentine” and then smile tiredly through their assurances that “One Day You’ll Have One, Dear.”

Last year, I bought a  t-shirt from a new t-shirt company called Bought By Blood, and I love it. In fact, I’m planning to wear mine ON  Valentines day this year. It features the image at the top of this post. Those words got me thinking which is always dangerous. The thought ran along these lines.  Since Jesus is my True Love, and He has given me all of Himself as a life-long Valentine, what can I give Him as a Valentine?

Immediately, the words What good are you if you only love those who will love you in return, even the heathen do that? I yelped, and grabbed for my Bible.

The whole passage runs like this in the ESV: Luke 6:32-35

If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those that love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend expecting nothing in return and your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful even as your Father is merciful.

And then of course I had to go looking at the cross-reference which is even MORE specific.

Matthew 5:43-48

You have heard that it was said  ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’ But I say to you  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those that love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Talk about asking for a specific thing. I shut my Bible and said “There is just no way I can give this to you for Valentine’s Day. You’re asking for the impossible here. And I know You, You want this gift for more than just a day.”  I could almost feel Jesus smiling. Waiting. Oh, there are days I know His eyes twinkle when we talk.

So, here is the resolution I have come to: From now until Valentine’s Day (six days) I am going to live and on purpose love those who don’t love me. I’ve selected several I know would like to see me vanish completely from their lives (like you don’t have those people in your life) and not only am I going to pray for them, react in love when they attack me, but I’m going to actively seek their best. For six days. Only six.

I’ve also roped my True Love into helping me with this project. His idea, He gets to help me pull it off. That’s how it works with He and I.

If want to join me on this insane journey which will, I’m certain, make Valentine’s Day very memorable, leave me a comment below. Loving enemies has got to be the hardest thing to do, for me. I’d appreciate prayers. On Valentine’s Day, I’ll repost this, with an update. Also, if you’ve got any interesting ideas about Valentine’s Day I’d love to hear those too. Stick them in the comments.

Coriam Deo

I know that Christmas is four weeks away, and that sounds like oceans of time, but it isn’t really. Because I work in a bookstore, and because books make amazing Christmas presents, I want to take a minute and give you some of my top-recommended books that you won’t find faced out on shelves or “pushed” by marketing machines.  They are fantastic, however, and you won’t want to miss them. Ready? Here we go.

Scarlet Inkwell’s Top Five Non-Fiction Books for Christians 2012:

Number One:

John Ortberg has long been a favorite of mine, and this book is the best he has ever written. It is a negative space look at Christ, focusing not so much on His life and ministry on Earth but how He literally transformed the arts,  sciences, literature, history, and cultures like no other person in the history of the world.  Ortberg builds powerfully towards his conclusion, making the claim that Jesus is no Man, but Someone much, much greater and supports the claim by pointing to  shape that He has left behind as proof.  This is one of the books I categorize in the thin stack of books that have both changed me, and the way that I look at the world.  It will encourage you, exhort you, surprise you, challenge you, and most of all make you catch your breath in wonder as Ortberg unveils this Man.

Number Two:

J. Lee Grady  is an ordained minister, a contributing editor to Charisma Magazine, and an award-winning journalist. In Fearless Daughters of the Bible he highlights the unusual, whimsical, dynamic, and daring women that the Lord uses to write His grand love story.

From daughters who boldly petitioned Moses for their own land as they had no brothers and they would receive no inheritance in the promised land because of this, to  Deborah who judged Israel, to Jael who seized an opportunity to dispatch an enemy who had claimed sanctuary in her husband’s tent, the women highlighted here are the ones that listened to Yahweh and not man. It’s a challenging read and if you allow it,  it will be an exhorting read as well.

Number Three:

Ever been pinned in a conversation by “If God is good, why is there so much evil in the world?”, if you have then this book needs to fly to the top of your “must read” stack.  If you haven’t been caught in that kind of conversation, odds are you will soon. Trust me, it’s much more pleasant to have some ideas to offer back  when this come up then to just stammer and turn red in the face.

Geisler is a master of the art of explaining, taking huge theological concepts and breaking them down part by part to help you not only understand them yourself, but then explain them to others who have questions about good and evil.  The book isn’t long, and each chapter is self-contained so you don’t have to read the book cover to cover, though you might find yourself doing just that.

Number Four: 

If you listen to the CD The Story when it came out last year, you were probably floored by the amazing amount of talent on the CD. What you might not have known, is that most if not all the lyrics were written by one person, Nichole Nordeman

In her book Love Story, she does with printed words the same thing she did with the CD. Each Biblical person she highlights has their story woven  (both the dark and the light) into the grand and glorious tapestry of His story.  She does more than that though in these pages. Nichole shares from her own life, the dark and ugly as well as the flashes of brilliance, in an eloquent plea for every reader to see just how much they matter and just how much they are loved. After all this is His story, but He’s writing it because He loves us.  It really is a Love Story.

Number Five:


Robert Morgan has written several devotionals, but this is his finest. You can start the devotional any time, as the pages are simply labeled  Day One, Day Two,Day Three  etc.  Each takes a verse from the Bible using the word “all” in it. From this starting place Robert shares his own anecdotes, or amazing stories of the saints that have gone on before like Fanny Crosby, Charles Spurgeon,  and Dr. Livingston. Each story or idea ties into the scripture for that day and centers around that ‘all’ in the scripture.

There are prayers and psalms in it too, and thoughts from contemporary Christians as well as those that are now in the great cloud of witnesses. It is a deep devotional, but the readings for each day are short. I find myself reading two or three at a time, they’re so wonderfully meaty.

So, those are my top five non-fiction Christian titles for 2012. What books should I definitely NOT MISS this year? I’ve still got space on my Christmas list! C’mon, which titles have slipped by me? Let me know in the comments.


I really don’t want to give thanks today.  While I’m in the minority of people, I know I’m not alone, there others in this dark place too.  I think it’s interesting to note, that giving thanks to Yahweh isn’t an option. It’s a command.  This means that my  offering of thanks can be a discipline, and not something given to Him  because I emotionally feel like it.  I don’t feel particularly grateful today; I feel numb, depressed, frightened, tired, and  sad.   My devotion this morning helped me a lot.  It pointed out that the reason that we are commanded to give thanks to the Lord, is because HE IS GOOD.

My circumstances don’t change His goodness. My feelings don’t change His goodness. My pain does not change His goodness.  Because that goodness is a part of Him, it is more fixed and more unchanging than the law of gravity.  It is sure. And because it is sure, it is also my anchor points in the storm of grief. Any sailor worth his salt will tell you that in a bad storm you need three things; strong rope, deep water, and a solid anchor that won’t lift and drag along the bottom when the seas become wild.

Psalm 107:1 is all three; my rope, my deep water, and my sure anchor.

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!

His steadfast [firm and unwavering in purpose, loyalty, or resolve] love endures [to experience exertion, pain, or hardship without giving up] forever [at all times or on every occasion].   When I remember this, my gaze flicks up past the walls of where I am in this pit and I see Him. Just seeing Him is relief from this ‘momentary affliction’ and it gets my eyes off of what will be only for a moment, and onto the One who is eternal.

This is what I am mainly thankful for today. There are other lesser things, but this is what I cling to today.

What about you, tell me what gift from Christ you are thankful for in the comments below.

Huttah! We got through DAY ONE of Operation Christmas Child Collection Week. *Whew* Now on to DAY TWO.  I won’t be there today, which guarantees that all the amazing things will happen today! Though I must admit yesterday is going to be hard to beat. We took in over 725 shoe boxes yesterday and if it wasn’t for our AMAZING and PHENOMENAL, and CHRIST LIKE volunteers, we’d be so swamped! Take a look.

It started, like this:

Just a few at first, brought in through the front door. No sweat, I had the people dropping off sign the log books and everything was smooth and easy.  It didn’t stay that way for long. Oh no.


And then a wave of boxes.
And another wave of boxes.

And another and another and another
And another and another and another

There was no end to the convoy of hope and joy that entered the building, though we were beginning to be swamped.

If it weren’t for our volunteers, we would be buried head and shoulders,

The blessings just piled up around our shelves, around our small cubbies and cubbie holes.

The only reason that we were able to do what we did,  is because of our . ..

Phenomenal and amazing volunteers that came in and were our utter heroes, and the prayers of all the saints who surrounded us on this day.

Your prayers, their hands and feet, our facility, and that is how  Jesus got  Day one DONE.

Working in a Christian bookstore, I hear all the arguments against Speculative Fiction.  It is too far on the margins of fiction, it deals with the what if and presses the boundaries of belief, it is full of heresy.  Most of the time I just keep quiet, as I really love Speculative Christian fiction and even write it myself. But today, something happened that brought me up short.

I ran into an author, who under the guise of Speculative Christian Fiction, is spreading a heresy.

Granted, they had some help from CNN and their recent article on a fragment of Coptic Christian writing, but that’s all they had, some help. What were they saying about this?  The gist of it is this: It makes no difference if Jesus was married or not.  That is a lie, it makes a big difference.  What is the truth? If He had married, it would have been mentioned and He would be the Messiah.

No where in all of Scripture is it mentioned at any time, that the Messiah would marry  or that Jesus married.

No  Nicene Creed agreeing evangelical, liturgical, or charismatic  church has ever  espoused that idea.  This makes that thought a heresy.

That’s a pretty stiff word,  heresy. What does it mean exactly?

HERESY

1. (Christian Religious Writings / Theology)

a.  an opinion or doctrine contrary to the orthodox tenets of a religious body or church
b.  the act of maintaining such an opinion or doctrine
2. any opinion or belief that is or is thought to be contrary to official or established theory
3. belief in or adherence to unorthodoxIt’s  not a light charge, and I don’t make it lightly either. To believe that Jesus would marry, would have children with a woman, and would live as a common man of sin strikes at His divine nature.

For a full look at the heresy and the rebuttal to it, please click here and see what the Ankleberg Theological Research Institute says about this heresy.

 

Why am I bringing this ugly topic up?
Speculative Christian fiction, by its nature, pushes to the edges of what might be and what could be.  There is a danger, a grave danger, in pushing too hard and too far.  When you write what might be and what could be, be wary of the borders you warp and the thoughts that you put between the sentences of your stories. If a NYT’s best-selling author can fall into heresy, then so can the rest of us. They are not the first, either, to spread heresy through what they write.

 I don’t say this to discourage you from your chosen genre;  I want to make you sober and vigilant.  I strongly suggest every Christian author that chooses this genre should also pursue Apologetics, and  spend time like the Bereans (Acts 17:11), searching the Scriptures to make certain that what they are saying, matches up with it.What do you study or read, to keep yourself fixed on Christ and how do you check that your flights of fancy do not violate the tenets of  our faith?

Mind The Nudges

Posted: April 24, 2012 in Inkspots
Tags: , , , ,

I said that I’d tell you about two other books that you should have on your shelf yesterday,  and then thought ‘You know if I do that, it’ll be three books all crammed together and what fun is that?’ So  I’m still going to share them with you, but later.  These two are far too fine to keep to myself.

Instead,  today I’m going to talk about ‘minding the nudges from the Holy Spirit’ (nudge = a strong impression in your mind,  but not from it, to do something Scriptural)

Why? Well, I was nudged  about nudges. As most of you know I work in Christian Retail.  It’s a crazy, wild, fantastic, and heartbreaking job. It’s  crazy because I have to balance retail and ministry, it’s wild because of the things that happen due to that mix (it can get as dangerous and disorienting as where two seas meet), it’s fantastic because of all the amazing people I meet and work with, it’s heartbreaking because I hear stories of loss and hope sometimes in the same breath from a brother or sister in Christ.   I try to pay attention to the Holy Spirit, but there are days I know I fail.  That’s a different post all together, today I’m going to show you what can happen when  you pay attention to Him.

The first time I really remember  being nudged by Him at work it was close to closing time (very inconvenient)  and an older gentleman came in, wanting to look at Bibles. My attitude was in the gutter. I wanted to start closing up and then flip the sign and go home. Leashing the hostility that someone would dare to come in and look at Bibles fifteen minutes before closing, I asked him if he had any questions.

He gave a charming flushed smile and said in a faltering voice “I want a Bible I can understand.” He reached for one of the King James Bibles.  That’s when I saw his hands. They were  the size of hams  with large knuckles and  callused along the sides and tip. His nails were dark with dirt or grease and several were split. His  fingers were thick and blunt tipped. They were lined with scars, chaffed by age, and sprinkled with freckles.  The artist in me  want to grab a sketch pad and start drawing them that instant.   I went and got a New Living Bible and explained that it was much easier to understand than King James. He flushed and looked at me with a crooked, snaggle-toothed smile.  “I didn’t go past the sixth grade in school,” he told me and reached for the  New Living Bible “I don’t read so good.”

My throat was beginning to ache and I looked down to wipe at my tears. My watch glared back up at me, it was 5 minutes past closing time. I went to the door, flipped the sign and locked it.  My coworker started vacuuming, and I went back over to where he was, leaving wasn’t so much of a priority any more.  Those rough, aged fingers were running along the text on the Bible’s page and he was murmuring along as he read.

Tell him, Jesus didn’t go past the sixth grade either. The words bounced back and forth between my ears. What  in the world? Jesus had studied the Torah, He’d amazed the men in the temple, He was known for His way with words.

Tell him, Jesus didn’t go past the sixth grade either this time, the words came with a fluttering urgency and I swallowed. Okay, this was going to be  rather weird and those huge hands catching on the fine paper of the Bible could seriously hurt me if I insulted him and made it sound like I was meditating on his lack of education.  I cleared my throat, felt my pulse bouncing against my larynx, and managed to get out. “You know, sir, you’re in really good company, I mean, not having had an education past the sixth grade.”

The man’s eyes met my gaze, I had his full attention, his finger was stilled against the paper.   “Jesus didn’t have one that went past that either.” I fumbled onward “He was a carpenter, a man who worked with His hands, He learned his father’s trade. It was the Pharisees and Sadducees that had a really extensive education of book learning.” The intensity of his gaze deepened and I felt the blood aching in my ears, they were stinging they were so hot.  Then, it happened. For an instant, wet shimmered over the surface of his eyes, then receded as quickly as it had welled up.  He closed the Bible and smoothed the cover of it with his fingers, the leather sounding against the roughness of the palm of his hand.

“Never thought about that” he grunted.  The quiet that filled the space between us was so deep, the  Holy Spirit was there, heavier than an ocean.  “Guess then, if my Savior was not much for learning, the sixth grade is okay for me, and He don’t mind.” I could only nod.  He moved to the counter and I rang him out, and let him out, watching him walk across the parking lot to his pick up, the Bible cradled against his chest.

I finished closing with my coworker, and tried to shake myself out of  a daze.  The Holy Spirit had given me a message for that fellow,  something or someone had beaten him about his lack of education, and I was the one tapped to deliver the truth to him.  It wasn’t my truth, but it was the Truth and a holy moment had dropped into my life  because I risked looking like a fool and had done what I was nudged to do.

Tomorrow  is St. Patrick’s Day,  which will be celebrated by people getting drunk and acting the fool while wearing green and yelling “Kiss me, I’m Irish”. What does this have to do with St. Patrick?  Not a single thing, and that is what makes me so sad,  and more than a little angry.

Here are some things that the world at large will not tell you about St. Patrick; most likely because they don’t know themselves.

1.) Patrick of Ireland wasn’t Irish. He was Welsh, and the son of a Noble family

2.) Patrick of Ireland was taken  by Irish raiders when he was 16 years old.  He was stolen away from his grandfather’s estate.

3.) Patrick  of  Ireland was a slave  for six years.  According to Patrick he was “naked, hungry, abused, and in terrible want” during that time.

4.) Patrick of Ireland found Christ through suffering. Later he would write that when he was tending sheep as slave, he prayed to the Lord more than a hundred times a day.

5.) Patrick of Ireland was rescued by God’s miraculous intervention.  Patrick had a dream where the Lord told him what route to take, and when to leave his master. There was a ship going back to Patrick’s home, but at first the sailors wouldn’t take him aboard. After he prayed and moved back to where he had hidden/stayed in the harbor, they called out for him to come that they would take him after all. 

6.) Patrick of Ireland was not educated. He trained  as Bishop to take up orders in the church but the Lord interrupted his schooling and he never completed his formal education (he could barely write in Latin).

7.) Patrick of Ireland was slandered  by those in his own church. In several of his letters he writes to tell them that he isn’t coming home to answer the charges they have erroneously brought against him. They can figure out what he is (a Bishop or not), and when they know they can write and let him know.

8.) Patrick of Ireland spoke out about injustice he was very vocal about the mistreatment of women, children, and slaves in Ireland.

How do I know these things? Well for one thing I’ve read about Patrick in books like How The Irish Saved Civilization  by Thomas Cahill and St. Patrick of Ireland by Phillip Freeman. I highly recommend both. However, I’ve gone one further than that, I’ve read what Patrick said about himself That’s right, some of Patrick’s words remain today. The most common one you can usually find at the library is called Confessions of St. Patrick. Don’t worry, it’s not some true-crime tale (which is what I thought it had to be when I first heard of it ).  In Patrick’s day, when you wrote your  Confession it was your testimony you were writing. At that time, confessions were usually penned towards the end of a  Christian believer’s life with the intention of encouraging and exhorting those you were leaving behind. Rather a sweet tradition, I think.   Patrick also penned it as a last defense against those who were slandering him.

Here’s part that really struck home to me, I’ve taken it from St. Patrick of Ireland, and this is Philip Freeman’s translation of the Latin. I love the frank and earnest tone he gives Patrick. In Philip Freeman’s notes on his translation, he says that is really what he wanted to come across to the readers; Patrick’s Latin isn’t high Latin of the Church, it’s “street Latin” if there could be such a thing.

Here’s  Patrick, in his own words:

I am Patrick, a sinner. The most unsophisticated and unworthy among all the faithful of God.  .. .I am very ashamed and afraid to show just how awkward my writing is. I am not able to explain things in just a few words like those who can write briefly. My mind and my spirit can’t even work together so that my words say what I really feel inside….Listen to me well, all of you, great and small, everyone who has any fear of God–especially you wealthy landowners so proud of your education—listen and consider this carefully: God chose foolish little me from among all of you who seem so wise and so expert in the law and so powerful in your eloquence. He picked ignorant Patrick ahead of you all—even though I am not worthy—He picked me to go forth with fear and reverence—and without any of you complaining at the time—to serve the Irish faithfully.

St. Patrick of Ireland, pgs 144-145

Now, I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of Christian I’d like to meet, and buy a pint and the local pub.  He loved Christ greatly. His words and his life agree with one another, and he had no grand airs.  Remember this Patrick, not the too-serious saint you might see in pictures, nor the strange fellow beating a drum and chasing out the snakes (that never happened), but this Patrick.

This is Patrick of Ireland.