Monday, March 30, 2015

Are you a Spiritual Sluggard?

What is a spiritual sluggard? My personal definition is someone who professes to be a Christian but who seems quite unimpressed with Jesus, and frankly bored with the faith. These may be people who attend church regularly and go through the motions of what they are "supposed" to do to be good little Christians, know all the right terms and Bible verses, but there's no zeal, no passion, no excitement.  Maybe they were excited once when they got saved, but now years later their main focus is on things of the world. 

There may be many causes of this condition. I believe our Western Church culture is partly to blame. Also, incorrect teaching, cessationalism (unbelief in gifts of the Holy Spirit), disbelief in general, lack of growth, etc.  Or somehow the person just allowed the world to become his or her idol. 

The writer of Hebrews is very tough on what he calls spiritual sluggards. In Chapter 5 he comes down quite hard on his readers by telling them they are still babies in Christ when they should be adults by now. He goes on in Chapter 6 to warn them that if they walk away from Jesus and the Gospel and reject their faith, there's no way to come back.  I bet you haven't heard that in church lately?

If they then deviate from the faith and turn away from their allegiance—it is impossible to bring them back to repentance Hebrews 6:6

Basically, the writer of Hebrews is warning people to not be spiritual sluggards because it could lead to full out rejection of the faith. The good news is, he gives the solution toward the end of the chapter. And that solution is Hope.

But we do strongly and earnestly desire for each of you to show the same diligence and sincerity all the way through in realizing and enjoying the full assurance and development of your hope until the end,  In order that you may not grow disinterested and become spiritual sluggards  11-12

I'm thinking Hope plays a pretty important part in keeping us focused on God and the things above instead of getting distracted by the world.  But Hope in what?  

I spent some time looking up Hope in the New Testament and listed some of the verses below. It seems to me that the Hope the writer is speaking of is the Hope of Heaven, the Hope of the resurrection, the Hope of eternal life, the Hope of the next age.  The Hope of Jesus coming again! Read through the verses and see for yourself.  

Yet I rarely meet a fellow Christian who is excited about Jesus's return. Most don't know much about it, or don't want to know much about it. Some like to argue about the timing, others are afraid of it. Some are just too caught up in the here and now to think about the future, let alone eternal life or heaven. Some even hope His coming is delayed because there's things they want to do first! When I try to bring up my excitement about end times and the second coming, they look at me funny and label me one of those prophecy nuts.

But what the heck is the Gospel message for then? Is it just a message that we should be kind and love each other and try not to sin?  Offer a prayer now and then and hope God is listening?  Or is it a message that we are not of this world, that there is something beyond this place where we will live forever in the presence of God and experience things so wonderful our minds can't even conceive of them?  Isn't that the hope of salvation through Jesus?  

Listen to Paul's take on Christianity without the hope of eternal life in Heaven.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. 1 Corinthians 15:19

In other words, if you don't have hope in Heaven, in eternal life, and the next age, you should be pitied because without that, following Jesus in this world would be nothing but difficult with no reward. 
Feeling a little sluggish lately?  Try this. Search the Scriptures for all the promises describing Heaven and eternity, describing our inheritance in Jesus, prophesying His soon return, and study them. Meditate on them and what it will be like in the next age, what it will be like to walk in the garden with God like Adam and Even did... in a paradise beyond your wildest dreams.  If that doesn't get you excited about Jesus and desiring to know Him more and walk with Him more closely, nothing will!

Hope Scriptures

Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!”  Acts 23:6

I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust Acts 24:15

Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Romans 8: 23-25

That you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints  Ephesians 1:18

because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, Colossians 1:5

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?  1 Thess 2:19

looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Titus 2:13

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 1 Peter 1:13


Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Frenzy!

It amazes me that it is almost April.  I love Springtime and I hope most of you are now starting to dig yourselves out from under all the snow you received this winter and are enjoying some of the sun's warm rays. I always thank God for the sun... it's like this giant heater in the sky. What a great idea! Speaking of the sun, don't always slather tons of sunscreen on. Yes, we must be careful not to get burned, but the sun has tons of nutrients in it that we need, so it's okay to bare your skin and soak up some rays now and then, eh?

Speaking of Spring, I'm quite proud of my box garden on the side of my driveway, and wanted to share it. Believe me, I've done nothing to deserve such beauty. I don't water, weed, or feed!

Another of my hobbies (although this one requires more attention) is my salt-water reef tank. Yes, I'm obviously obsessed with the sea, hence I feel the need to bring it into my home, if only confined to a small tank. A reef tank is just that, a small subsection of a tropical reef, complete with hard and soft corals, anemones, shrimp and crabs and other crustaceans and just a few fish to complete the magnificence. You may remember I posted a few pictures before. It has grown quite a bit since then. Hope you enjoy!

My anemone, 2 clown fish, and a peppermint shrimp
Various soft corals.  The pink stuff you see on the glass is coraline algae.. very good for the tank!

More corals.  The green one in the back is a hammerhead coral. Poisonous! So I put him in the corner. LOL

Writing News!

I expect to have The Reckoning delivered to my Editor by next Friday. Which is nearly a month earlier than I had anticipated. This means that it may be releasing sooner than I planned as well, so stayed tuned for that.  I believe fans of my pirate series are going to be most pleased with this story. Plus, it has lots of good spiritual stuff going on. Anyway, as time approaches, I'll release more details and teasers and even set up a Pinterest Board.

For those of you who have not read The Falcon and the Sparrow, the ebook will be on sale next week, starting Monday, for only 99 cents, on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Ibooks, etc!  The Falcon and the Sparrow is a fan favorite you won't want to miss! 

Friday Writing Tip

Enter contests. This may seem like an obvious one, but you'd be surprised at how many people are hesitant, even frightened to put their work out there.  I've even heard some people say that Christians shouldn't compete with one another, that we all have unique ministries.  I agree!  But I'm not talking about entering contests to win. Yes, I realize that sounds contrary to what the world says.  But hey, God is quite contrary to what the world says, isn't He? Nop. Contests are not for winning. Contests are for learning. I'm talking about pre-published contests, of course. The kind where you get back a critique from each judge, complete with comments and suggestions. Worth it's weight in whatever minor fee you paid to enter.

Did I enter contests before I was published? You bet!  I entered several and I always got back tons of feedback. But beware, judges are people too and hence, they are very subjective.  So, my advice is to take each score with a grain of salt.. read through the comments and suggestions of each judge, see which ones are similar and focus on those areas.

For example, I entered The Redemption in the ACFW Genesis contest long before it was published.  The Scoring went from 0-100.  Three judges gave me above 80, one a 99. But one judge gave me below 50 and she (or he) told me I wasn't ready for publication and then proceeded to list a ton of books I should read (most of which I had already).  As a young writer, I was devastated and almost quit. But God prompted me forward and I worked on the areas every judge mentioned.
Within months I submitted the manuscript and got a contract with Barbour!  Okay, I'll admit that doesn't always happen, but my point is, enter contests. Learn how to take constructive criticism and grow as a writer from it. It will also help form the tough skin you'll need when you do get published and some reviewers trash your books! 


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be as shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. 

Matt 10:16





Monday, March 23, 2015

Our land is polluted! And it's not from smog!

Do you know that as of the writing of this blog, there have been over 57 Million abortions in the United States since Roe vs. Wade. 57 Million dead babies!  Here's an abortion clock that is updated by the minute if you're interested:   Abortion Clock

So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it. Numbers 35:33

I read that verse in Numbers the other day and it really struck me. Blood defiles the land. It pollutes the land and when there is too much pollution, God must do something. In Israel's case, he allowed the Babylonians to conquer them, destroy the temple and the city of Jerusalem and cart them off to Babylon.

They even sacrificed their sons
And their daughters to demons,
 And shed innocent blood,
The blood of their sons and daughters,
Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;
And the land was polluted with blood. Psalm 106:37-38

Psalm 106 gives a brief history of the Jewish people.  Here are the next verses

Therefore the wrath of the Lord was kindled against His people,
So that He abhorred His own inheritance.
And He gave them into the hand of the Gentiles,
And those who hated them ruled over them.
Their enemies also oppressed them,
And they were brought into subjection under their hand.

God removed His mighty hand of protection from Israel because they turned away from Him, worshiped idols and sacrificed their babies to those idols. The blood of thousands upon thousands of innocent children was spilled onto the promised land it became so polluted, God was forced to do something. 

Today, here in America, we sacrifice our babies to the idols of convenience, selfishness, greed, and promiscuity.  Do we actually believe God is going to sit back and do nothing?  How much more blood of innocent babies must be spilled before our land is so polluted God has no choice but to  judge us? 

Baby at just 16 weeks. You can't tell me this isn't a human being. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Frenzy!

Today is a very special day! For a number of reasons. The primary one being that it's my granddaughter's first birthday! I can hardly believe a year has gone by already. To celebrate, we are taking her to the zoo tomorrow. Pictures will be coming. 

However today is also the Spring Equinox, a total solar eclipse, and a super moon! These three phenomena happening together is very very rare!

A Supermoon, or perigee moon, happens when the full or new moon does its closest fly-by of the Earth, making it look bigger than it normally does. And the spring equinox refers to the time of the year when the day and night are of equal duration, mid-way between the longest and shortest days.

A solar eclipse refers to a phenomenon where the sun and moon line up, so that the latter obscures the former. And while it won’t be affected by the two other events, it is rare that the three events happen even individually


The day Nisan 1 marks the biblical new year on the Hebrew calendar, which is March 20, the same day as the solar eclipse. Also this year 2015 brings us a rare tetrad of four blood moons that all occur on biblical feast days, the next coming on April 4, which is Passover. The tetrad of blood moons has only occurred three other times in the last 500 years

Why do I mention all of this?  Because I think it's cool! And also because the Bible tells us that God will reveal things through signs in the heavens. So when something rare like all these things occurring at once happens, I take note! I'll let you ask God for yourself what it means.

Writing News

I'm a part of a great group of writers called Transformational fiction. These authors write books that contain strong spiritual messages of the hope and love of Jesus. The group was started by Jessie Gunderson and we have a website and a facebook page where we are hoping to be more active. So, if you are interested in life transforming fiction or perhaps you're looking for a book for a friend who needs an uplifting message, please come visit our website and poke around, and drop by our facebook page where you can ask questions about the authors and their works. We also have a newsletter we send out periodically listing our books and new releases.

Friday Writing Tip
Sentence structure and length. I know, sounds boring, but this is one of the things I always see in beginning writers' manuscripts.  You must alter both sentence structure and length if you want the reader's experience to be smooth and enjoyable. I know this may hurt those of us writers who sweat over each sentence, choosing our words carefully and moving them around until they are in the perfect spot and our sentence is akin to a masterpiece that should be hung in a museum, BUT most readers skim. I don't mean skim in the sense that they are bored, but skim over each sentence because they are so engrossed in the story they just want to find out what happens. They don't stop and revel in your magnificent talent for words and writing. Frankly they could care less. They just want a good story. 
One thing that can pull them out of a great story is clunky sentence structure. In fact the key is to not have the reader notice your sentences at all. Basically you want to vary both your structure, paying particular attention to how you begin each sentence, and also the length. Let me give you an example from the Reckoning

She heard voices shouting above and then a thundering noise. She slipped off the last rung of the ladder and landed hard on the wooden floor. She picked splinters from her palms as a shard of pain etched up her tail bone. She struggled to rise and glanced around. Boxes, crates, tools and various equipment filled the storage area. The dim light of a single bulb shown overhead. You’d think the sailors would store their supplies in a more orderly fashion. She spotted a layer of grime draped over everything. She felt lower than she had in years,. She found a small space to crawl into between a object covered with a cloth and a stack of ropes. She leaned back on the wooden hull and prayed for her head to stop swimming and her stomach to stop flipping.
Voices shouted above, followed by a thundering noise. The boat teetered. She slipped off the last rung of the ladder and landed hard on the wooden floor. Splinters jabbed her palms as a shard of pain etched up her tail bone. Great, just great. She struggled to rise and glanced around at the boxes, crates, tools and various equipment that filled the storage area beneath the dim light of a single overhead bulb. Such mayhem. You’d think the sailors would store their supplies in a more orderly fashion. And the dirt! Ugh. A layer of grime draped over everything. Feeling lower than she’d felt in years, she found a small space to crawl into between a object covered with a cloth and a stack of ropes. She leaned back on the wooden hull and prayed for her head to stop swimming and her stomach to stop flipping.
Which one reads more smoothly?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

New Heaven and a New Earth!

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.  Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 

Revelation 21:1-3 NKJV 


Monday, March 16, 2015

God has already given you Everything you need!

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 
2 Cor 9:7-8

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue 2 peter 1:2-3

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ  Ephesians 1:3 

Are you sort of getting the point of my message this week?   Picture a young girl who lives in a castle with her parents, the King and Queen, and she has everything she could ever need: Food, clothing, shelter, protection, education, health care, and even plenty of friends and toys. She has everything she needs to grow, learn, enjoy life, and mature into a productive adult.  Her parents love her more than anything, are always there for her, and enjoy providing for all her needs. Yet day after day she comes before them and begs them for food and clothing and education and other necessities.  Don't you think the King would respond with a questioning look and tell her that she already had plenty of those things? Maybe he would even point them out to her. But what if she kept behaving day in and day out like she was an orphan living in poverty?   After awhile I would think the King would get a tad bit frustrated! 

Yet doesn't God's Word remind us over and over again that God has already supplied all of our needs? I only chose 3 verses above yet there are tons more.  Check out the verb tenses "has given us" "has blessed us" .  Past tense.  Also note the extent of things He gives us. All Grace, All sufficiency, All things, Every Spiritual Blessing. 

Sounds pretty awesome to me. Then why do so many of us believers continue to beg God for things He has already given us? (myself included)  But the Bible is clear. If you are a follower of Jesus, you already have everything you need for life and godliness. You have a sufficiency in All things and an abundance for every good work. Did God leave something out?  I think words All and Everything pretty much covers it.  

I'm not saying we shouldn't pray for our needs. But maybe our prayers should be phrased a little differently.  If we aren't seeing the abundance described above. If we don't feel like we have everything we need for life and godliness, then perhaps we should be asking God to open our eyes to what He has already given us and teach us to walk in it by faith. 

Maybe He's waiting for us to take Him at His Word.