Archive for October 2015

Arguing with the Indoctrinated 3 (The Rich)   2 comments

Jesus had a lot to say about the rich who thought only of themselves and oppressed the poor. He didn’t protect them from the natural consequences of being abusers. But Jesus isn’t an Occupy Wallstreeter who sees the world in simplistic terms. He knows the hearts of man.

Joseph of Arimethea accepted Christ and remained a rich man afterward. But wait, you can’t come to God as a wealthy person … right? Wrong. Lots of followers of Christ were wealthy. Lydya, the seller of purple cloth. Barnabas certainly had material means. Philemon was clearly a rich man.

But, but, but … it’s just as impossible for a rich man to get to heaven as a camel to thread the eye of a sewing needle. That’s in the Bible!

Ah, yes, taking verses out of context with surrounding verses and with the culture in which they were written has its downsides.

No camel ever threaded the eye of a sewing needle, but many camels have walked on their knees through the man gate of a closed larger city gate. Jesus’ listeners understood the reference. It isn’t impossible — just very hard, but you also need to pay attention to the full verse, not just the part you like.

Luke 18:24-27 “When Jesus noticed this, He said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!  In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard this said, “Then who can be saved?He replied, “What is impossible for mere humans is possible for God.”

Most people come to Jesus because they feel a lack in their life, but when you are surrounded by wealth, it is easier to trust in your personal resources than to trust in God. Rich people therefore have a harder time seeing that they have a need that only Jesus can fill. They are more likely to want to solve whatever ails them with their own resources. The poor are more likely to recognize that they can’t solve their own problems because life shows them that they lack resources and, therefore, they find it easier to relinquish their will to God.

Except … Americans are none of us truly poor. Homeless people have cell phones and shoes, they qualify for government benefits that prevent them from starving. Often they qualify for government housing if they’ll give up drugs and alcohol. There’s a homeless housing project here that doesn’t even require that.

So Americans (and I will submit citizens of most developed countries) really struggle with the understanding that God is the only answer to whatever we lack in life. Our corners are sufficiently padded by government benefits that God is truly not necessary in our physical lives. We have other resources that replace God in our lives.Therefore, it is very hard for 1st worlders to come to Jesus for salvation because we truly don’t see that we need Him.

But what is impossible for man is possible with God!

Ultimately, whether you will be accepted into Heaven has nothing to do with the status of your bank account. God makes these determinations and there is “No rich or poor” before God (Proverbs 22:2, James, 1 Corinthians; Galatians 3:28). There are only people who have obeyed God and people who have disobeyed God. Those who have given themselves to God and agreed to do things His way rather than their own will be accepted in Heaven — even regardless of whether they successfully keep that promise, by the way. Those who followed their own will rather than God’s will at the most basic level of accepting Christ won’t like what God has to say to them at the Judgment. It’s God who makes the decision and His judgement is not based on our petty human measures.

The rich man who gave all his wealth to some worthy cause will not get into heaven unless he gave his will to Jesus. The poor man who never had a dime to his name will not get into heaven unless he gave his will to Jesus. It’s the giving your will to Jesus that is important. What you do after that is evidence of where your will rests, but it’s not what gets you into heaven.

Often people who support socialism think that anyone who opposes socialism is arguing against God, but Jesus was clear — He is the only way to God and believing that He is God is the only way to be acceptable to Him. Your bank account is at best a secondary issue. Once you know Jesus, He’ll get back to you on what to do with your money and His instructions vary according to the believer. Depending on your attitude toward your wealth, He may not have anything to say about it at all.

Wow! Up, Up and Away   2 comments

My blog stats are booming and I can’t figure out why.

There’s the usual bump that comes from doing a blog hop and author interview, but then there’s this huge number of hits on my archive coming from Google searches. It’s not telling me the search terms, so I’m stumped …

But I’m also gratified.

This is where I say —

Thankful Thursday 10/29   Leave a comment

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for various reasons, the primary one being that it causes me to think about all the things I should be grateful for.

I think the world would be immensely improved if Gratitude Went Viral.

If you want to help make that happen, join us —

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One of the problems with much of our culture today is that we are too busy coveting what someone else has to truly count our own blessings. We want, we want, we want … the new I-Phone, the smart watch, the flashy new car, the latest “thang” in kitchen counters, more money in our paycheck, the rich to give their wealth to the middle class, the government to give the income of the working to the non-working, “free” healthcare, carbon-free energy, world peace … on and on and on … we covet and do not recognize what God has already given us. All of us are guilty of it … it’s an all-too-human trait going all the way back to the Garden when Eve coveted God’s fruit.

So here is my quirky take on thankfulness —

  • I am grateful for what I have today. It is sufficient. If I had less, I’d be in want and that would make me covet in a way that most people would say I was justified in doing. Their justification of my sin would help me to feel righteous in my covetousness. I thank God that He has given me what I need to survive today, so that I do not have an excuse for wanting more.
  • I am grateful today that God has not fulfilled all of my wants. I’m not wealthy. I have to work to pay my bills. My books are not flooding my bank account with profits. Other people have more stuff and better stuff than I do. And that’s okay, because my lack of wealth has taught me to be grateful to God for the little things. If I had more stuff, I wouldn’t be as grateful for what I have today. God knows that about me and it is that intimate knowledge of me that is more precious to me than gold or silver. I wouldn’t turn down financial blessings if they came my way, but I don’t need them to be content.

Philippians 4:10-14I have great joy in the Lord because now at last you have again expressed your concern for me. (Now I know you were concerned before but had no opportunity to do anything.) I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in any circumstance. I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you did well to share with me in my trouble.” (Paul the apostle, writing from a Roman prison)

Interview with EJ Norris   1 comment

LELA: Quick change of direction because my previously scheduled author has delayed his book launch. I’m rechecking with him on his interview details since some time has passed and may run in concurrent with the launch.

E.J. Norris photo.Today’s interview is with EJ Norris, author of The Mirror and the Sword. Welcome to the blog, Emily. Tell us something about yourself.

I’m from the wonderful state of Maine. It’s a fantastic place for books to grow up.

I love Maine! My husband is originally from New Hampshire, so we’ve been to Maine a few times. At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I always loved writing. It was such fun to create whole new worlds where anything I wanted could happen. Most of my very first stories were prompted by grade school assignments. Later I started to really branch out on my own, exploring the art of the novel.

Yeah, fiction writing started from a school assignment for me also. Tell us about your writing process.

Well, developing a process took a bit of trial and error, but I finally settled on the following:

  1. The idea. Perhaps born in a daydream or a prayer. I think it over, ask myself questions about the plot and the characters.
  2. Rough draft. When I have a general idea of where I’m going I begin a handwritten draft.
  3. After I’ve written the story, I type and revise it.

You are a rare breed in modern circles. Handwritten drafters exist — I interviewed one last year — but it’s truly uncommon in this day of keyboarding. I still resort to it when I need some poetic infusion into my novels. Something about handwriting really kicks poetry into gear for me. What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

I love reading and writing fantasy. There’s so much freedom in the fantasy world. I also like to read British literature. I swear, when I enter a book store I can find something British. It’s like a Brit Lit magnet in my forehead!

The Mirror and the SwordWhat a great skill for a fantasy author, though! What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about my faith, writing naturally, reading, music, in depth conversation, and friendships.

What is something you cannot live without?

Christ in my life.

Have you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?

Well, The Mirror and The Sword was the first ever novel I gave to God and that decision has forever altered the motivation behind my projects. I now weave Christ into nearly every single one of my projects.

Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

Inspiration can come from anything. A song, something someone says, a daydream. Inspiration is unpredictable, but when it hits there’s no missing it.

If someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

I would say vivid, adventurous, and well thought out. I write stories with a good balance of elements to them so that there’s something for anyone.

Do you have a special place where you write?

In a car, on a plane, whether in the sun or in the rain. I can write pretty much anywhere.

Are you a plot driven or character driven writer? Why?

Both. The plot is the car and the characters are the gas.

I like that analogy! Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer?  Why?

Discovery. I’ll go with the basic idea and then keep writing to see what wonders appear.

What point of view do you prefer to write, and why?

I’ve recently taken to writing in a combination of the first and third person. This began when I started The Mirror and The Sword. I wanted the character to narrate, but I also knew there were some things that the reader needed to see that said character didn’t. So, I started switching back and forth. Thus far it’s proved most efficient.

That’s interesting. I think I’m going to have to try that technique. Tell us about your books.

I’d be delighted. The Mirror and The Sword is a stirring adventure story of one boy’s quest to escape a convoluted world of lies. It’s an epic journey that you won’t soon forget.

Then there are the others. The Mirror and The Sword is not meant to stand alone. There are two others. The sequel is getting some spit and polish while we consider its opportunities for publication. The third is in its roughest stages and I am considering prequels.

Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?

Yes, it was. I hope that people see Christ in my work.

What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

I hope they say, “I WANT MORE!!!!”

 

This is a fascinating subject for me because you and I are both Christians who write fantasy. I didn’t write my books necessarily for Christians and I don’t market them as Christian literature, but Christian themes undergird my writing because I am a Christian. Do you write specifically for a Christian audience? Why or why not?

Well, a Christian reader might recognize the symbolism more readily, but it is my hope that it witnesses to the non-Christian audience as well.

 

What do you think are some of the special challenges of being a Christian writer?

For me, I tend to worry about doing the message justice. Therefore I pray quite fervently about it.

 

Christians are told to be “in the world, but not of it.” As a Christian writer, how do you write to conform to that scripture?

As I work on this story I hope it will represent spiritual matters in a physical way, much like Christ’s parables brought a new understanding to many who followed Him. Of course this will get more and more complex as the concepts become harder for my physical mind to comprehend. In such times I will pray on my face for God’s guidance. Without Him I can do nothing.

Do you feel that Christian writers are expected to conform to some standards that are perhaps not realistic to the world?

Well, to call yourself a Christian writer there are certain things that shouldn’t be there. For instance, I don’t write detailed descriptions of sexuality. Famed fellow writers may find that old-fashioned as well as unrealistic in today’s book market.

 

Do you feel that Christian writers should focus on writing really great story or on presenting the gospel clearly in everything they write? Or is it possible to do both?

One should strive to do both. I remember this was one of my earliest struggles in Christian writing. Then I thought over the works of C.S. Lewis. I noted that he didn’t have a representation for every single biblical event in all four gospels. All that was needed was the iron hard, back bone of Christianity. That should leave plenty of room for creativity and personalization.

 

 

Here are my links:

 

The Mirror and The Sword on Amazon

EJ Norris on Twitter

EJ Norris on Facebook

EJ Norris on Goodreads

Stay Tuned for Thankful Thursdays   Leave a comment

This is a new season-based blog hop. Some of us authors from Open Book thought we would see what we could do to make Gratitude the focus of this holiday season. Watch for my post on Thursday.

Anyone who wants to help Gratitude Go Viral is welcome to join us.

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Posted October 27, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in #openbook

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Stay Tuned for Writing Wednesday   7 comments

I’m interviewing Simon Paul Wilson, who has just announced his launch of Ghost City Girl has been delayed into November. You know how it is — life is what happens when you’re making other plans. Mirklin Wood was supposed to be out in October and, well, sometime in early 2016, I think.

Open Book Blog Hop October 28th – November 3rd 2015   Leave a comment

Source: Open Book Blog Hop October 28th – November 3rd 2015

Posted October 27, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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