Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Power of God's Word

English Camp 2009 Slovakia

I had the awesome privilege to go to Lucenec, Slovakia in 2009 to teach at an English Camp which is very much like a Vacation Bible School here in America.

I say it was a privilege because it was completely of the Lord's doing and not mine. He selected me to partake in His work for two weeks in 2009.

God's Word of Comfort

I remember well my first full day in Lucenec. I was so very homesick, tired, and a little scared.

That Sunday morning, we attended church in downtown Lucenec at this little Baptist church. As I sat in the pews, listening to the choir sing, I began to pray to the Lord because I was so concerned.

I prayed because I was afraid that the children I would meet wouldn't like me. I was so afraid to stand up before these kids and have them hate me and not be pleased that I was their teacher.

I had doubts.

But then, the pastor stood up and asked us to open our Bibles as he began his sermon in Slovensko.

I tell you what, it was so wonderful to hear God's word spoken in another language like that. I saw and felt the Lord's presence there in that little church.

I began to be comforted.

John 15:18

I sat there and prayed, "Lord, what if these kids hate me? What if they don't like anything I have to say or give them?" I wept quietly.

What happened next really helped assuage all my fears that morning. The pastor began his sermon and asked us to read John 15:18.

"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you..."

And I instantly felt as thought the Lord was calming my fears by reminding me that He is there with me. He had already endured the hatred of the world for me.

It was as though He was there sitting with me, talking to me, comforting me with His words.

I cried tears of comfort that morning and I smiled as we sang more hymns.

The Power of God's Word

A couple of days later, English camp started and I had 17 kids in my classroom. As I stood before them and looked in their eyes and smiling faces, all my fears dissipated into joy. We had a great time together for those nine days!

As I prepare to head back to Slovakia English Camp again this summer, I am reminded how the Lord is already there doing a great work. I and my friends will arrive to take part in this work if only for a few days.

It will be a privilege to join in this work and celebrate with our brothers and sisters in Christ once again. And as I sit in the pews of that lovely church, I will open God's word and read John 15:18 again...and smile.

Because I know my Savior already endured the hatred for me. He will be with me there again in that classroom through the happy times and the hard times. He will give me the words to say and the smile on my face.

That's the power of God's word. It reminds us...comforts us...corrects our thinking...and empowers us to do a great work.

Your turn: how has God's word brought you comfort or calmed your fears recently? I'd love to hear about it and be encouraged. 


Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

As I was teaching the little kids in Sunday School today about the ordeals of the Apostle Paul and how so many people tried to kill him during his travels simply because of his message, I paused to ask them a question about how they might react if the people around them attacked them simply for being a Christian. What would they do?

Then, inside my head, I asked myself what I would do. Then I thought about Memorial Day....

Memorial Day: Day of Remembrance

I thought about Memorial Day because of all those soldiers, sailors, Marines, and Airmen who perished in the battles in U.S. history.

I thought about them because many of them fought and died simply for being who they were: Americans.

As a writer, I usually blog about the writing process on Mondays, but today I wanted to share some of my favorite books about those who fought and those who died in World War II, my favorite historical period.

I love reading about this time in history because of how Americans were thrust into a world war after being brutally attacked. Americans came together to fight to protect our freedoms and to help other countries from falling to the enemy.

But I mostly enjoy reading about this time in history because of the incredible stories of survival in the midst of hell on earth and the uncommon valor of everyday citizens in the throes of the ugliest of all situations: war.

Here are some of my favorite reads:

This book is a nail-biter. The author vividly captures the chaos and  the fear of the unknown that is war. For a visual person like me, it was a page turner!

The author is the son of one of the flag raisers on Iwo Jima. He not only presents his father's story, but the story of the flag raisers and some Japanese history that will make your skin crawl. It is a gruesome tale of war  and about exactly who our Marines were battling in the Pacific. A page turner that will make you weep.

I read this book after watching the HBO series. The book does an excellent job of showing how war forms bonds among young men more than any other situation. These men forged an unshakable bond that is truly admirable. You will walk away from this book with a greater respect for the veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. 

I have blogged about this book before, but wanted to mention it here again on Memorial Day out of respect for those men who died and survived the Bataan Death March and imprisonment during WWII. Not very many people know the story of these men. This book is just one story of thousands, but it leaves you with a portrait of what our soldiers endured after Pearl Harbor. You owe it to yourself to read and learn the often forgotten story of the Bataan Death March if you truly want to know what happened in WWII. 

Last, but certainly not least, is this most excellent book about Olympic runner and WWII veteran, Louis Zamperini. I have blogged about this book also, but wanted to mention it again here on this special day of remembrance. This story is so unbelievably amazing that I had to stop and do an internet search to make sure it really is based on a TRUE is that astonishingly remarkable that you will walk away changed after you read it. This man not only endured hell on earth like all WWII vets, but did so with such dauntless tenacity that you will be truly astounded about his survival. I hear this book is being made into a movie soon. Can't wait to see it!

Well, this is my Memorial Day post. I hope that you all stop and take time to remember all those who died for our country in small ways and in big ways during wars or stateside. Those who died simply for being Americans...and for protecting our freedoms. 

It takes special courage to "strap on the boots" and leave the comforts of home to serve your country. All veterans have earned our respect in that regard.

All they ask is that you remember them at your picnics and barbecues and parties this weekend. 

That is all.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Summer Fun!!!

"May the force be with you....always."

It's that time of year!  Summer movie fun!

I was ten years old when my brothers took me to see STAR WARS for the first time. And my life was never the same. That's the great thing about movie magic!

I mean it, my life was NEVER the same! Neither was America. After STAR WARS, summer movie fun in 1977 took on a whole new meaning.


Technically, JAWS was the first summer blockbuster, meaning people went to see it over and over again in one summer season. 

But STAR WARS remained in theatres for an entire year! That was unheard of. See, kids, there was no cable TV back then. No HBO, no VHS, no DVDs, and no BluRay. 

If we wanted to see a movie, we had to see it in the theatres. And we did...over and over again!

I saw STAR WARS 26 times that summer. I dragged anybody and everybody to the theatre to see that movie. I stood in long lines in the hot sun, but every time that 21st Century Fox trademark came on screen to that fanfare and snare drum music, I got chills. 

Yep, after STAR WARS, I began to dream and invent stories and live inside my head. Movies can do that to a person. I know many famous directors today say they owe it all to STAR WARS. 

Yep, summer time means GREAT movies to watch!  I still love waiting in the lines, anticipating the movie previews, and then, when the theatre goes dark and the movie starts...

I am ten years old again sitting in the Cine Capri watching STAR WARS begin!

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....

Gotta love it!!

Your turn: So what's your favorite summer blockbuster movie of all time? What movies will you see this summer in the theatre?


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Power of Prayer: Our Children's Spouses

When I read through The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian, I remember when I came across the part where she explains that we should pray for the spouse of our sons and daughters even before they are married.

I chuckled because I had been praying for my son's future wife since he was three!

I remember well standing over him as he slept and lifting up his future wife in prayer.


Because I come from divorced parents and so does my husband. We both know how to ruin a marriage, but neither one of us knew how to build a solid marriage. So, I wanted to start praying for my son as early as I could in order to ask the Lord to bless his marriage if that's what He has in store for our son.

The In-Laws

I don't know if marriage is in my son's future, but I wanted to submit to the Lord and
 pray for every part of my son's life. So, when he was little, I began to lift up his future wife and her family in my prayers:

I pray for her parents. I pray that her father is the spiritual leader of the home and that he shows his family how much he loves their mother daily.

I pray that her mother is a godly woman who teachers her children how to pray and trust in the Lord. I pray that she is teaching her daughter what it looks like to submit to her husband and to Christ.

I pray that her parents are teaching her God's Word and how to treasure it in her heart that she might not sin against God.

I pray that the Lord is speaking to her heart about her purpose in this life. I pray that He is using her talents and gifts for His glory at church and in everyday life.

I pray that she spends time alone with the Lord daily and is filled with the Holy Spirit.

I pray that her parents are teaching her financial responsibility and common sense when it comes to money and budgeting.

I pray that she loves learning and has a teachable spirit and longs to love the Lord with her mind as well as her heart.

I pray for her purity and that the Lord will spare her from any mistakes that might cause her pain and regret.

I pray that if there are any strongholds in her life or family, that the Lord will break down any strongholds and family inheritance of bondage or sin and keep her from carrying on any of these struggles or burdens.

But most of all, I pray that she and my son will have a long life together filled with godly offspring, joy, happiness, and God's strength to endure the hard times that will come. I pray for them to be the best of friends and enjoy years of laughter together. May they be found holding hands together in their Golden years as they were in their youth.

The Power of Prayer

All the things I pray for my son's future wife, I pray for my son as well.  I have seen the Lord answer my prayers for my son over and over.

God is faithful. I have seen the power of prayer.

I urge you to lift up your child's future spouse today. Even if your son or daughter is in the crib or in the womb, bathe them in prayer!

Marriage is hard enough with prayer, I cannot imagine it without prayer!

Your son and/or daughter will appreciate knowing that you were praying for their spouse for many years even before they met. I even wrote a letter to my son's wife to give to her on her wedding day. I wrote it many years ago.

It is never too early to begin praying for your children's future needs. In doing so, you are showing the Lord how willing you are to submit the future to His capable hands.

Release your children to the Lord today.


Monday, May 21, 2012

The 5 C's Continued...

The Five C's

Alright, let's continue our look into this remarkable tool for story and character development I learned in this wonderful book. We learned the first "C" is for Characters as a reminder to make sure you know your characters and that they are well developed. Then we learned the second "C" was for Conflict. Adding a little conflict to your story draws in your readers because it causes them to care about what your character is struggling with. 

So, what's the next "C"?


To make sure your character is given plenty of obstacles, remember to give him/her plenty of choices to make in the story.

For instance, Harry Potter makes the choice to follow Hagrid into the unknown and study wizardry at Hogwarts. Later, Harry makes the choice to sacrifice his own life to save the lives of many others. As you can see, some choices you put before your character will be less significant than others, but they must still be important and move the story along.

Katniss, the heroine in The Hunger Games, makes the painful choice to take her sister's place in the games saving her sister's life, but putting her own life in grave danger.

Edmond in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe makes the choice to listen to the White Witch and put his friends in danger. 

Frodo, in The Lord of the Rings, chooses to take the journey to rid the world of the ring and destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom.

All of these choices move the story along, but they also reveal to the reader something important about the character.

The choices you put before your character must do the same. 


As a result of all these choices, your character must go through some sort of change from the beginning of the story to the end. She must walk away different than she was at the start. This change can be both physical and emotional, but change must occur because that's life. That's how it works.

Harry Potter changed both chronologically and physically, but at the end of the story he had changed emotionally and psychologically as well. 

Show us how your character has changed. Paint us a picture. In my book, The Dragon Forest, my protagonist is a ten year old prince who goes through a tremendous life-changing event. As a result, we see him change from a spoiled, yet precocious boy to a mature young man who now knows what it means to be king. 

All those obstacles and choices you put before your main character will change them just as in real life. You are not the same person you were fifteen years ago, fifteen days ago, or fifteen minutes ago!


By giving your character compassion, you are creating a bond or connection between him and your reader. 

When Katniss makes the choice to take her sister's place, the reader is bonded to her. Now we care about what happens to such a brave compassionate girl.

When Harry Potter knows he must face Voldemort alone for the sake of saving many lives, the reader is bonded to him because he has that compassion for others. We care deeply for this young man. 

When Frodo, the lowest of the lows, takes on the monumental task of taking the ring to Mordor, we see compassion in that choice. Readers are drawn to that display of compassion for others.


A lack of compassion can also draw your readers into the story. 


Well, think of some of the most famous villains you love to hate. Darth Vader. So many fans love this character because of his lack of compassion early on. He was one of the best villains ever written for the screen because we loved to hate him.

Loki in The Avengers. Here's another villain we love to hate because he shows no compassion for the people. He is evil through and through. 

And, of course, Voldemort. His fierce lack of compassion for others is what makes him a well-rounded villain. Readers hoped there would be no redemption for such a character.

What About the "S"?

In the Five C's we have the little "s" at the end. 

This stands for "Surprise!"

It is always good to have that element of surprise in your story, but make sure it is relevant to your story otherwise it will stand out as a distraction and work against you.

When Gandalf dies in The Fellowship of the Ring, that was a complete surprise. Readers must have felt cheated in some way. 

When Aslan sacrifices himself to the White Witch and is brutally killed, that was a surprise. 

When Cedric dies in The Goblet of Fire, readers were surprised. Actually, the Harry Potter series has MANY surprises! 

But notice how all these surprises do not harm the storyline, but help it move forward. 

If you have a surprise in your story, develop it in such a way that your readers are drawn into your story. Make it to where they care more than every before what happens next.

The Five "C's" and an "S"

Well, I hope these tools have helped you as much as they have helped me. 

When I get stuck somewhere in a story, I usually take a moment to check and see if I have indeed added the Five C's somewhere. 

I highly recommend Conrad's book, 101 Best Scenes Ever Written. It's a fun read, very original in that he analyzes scenes from books, film, and plays. 

Good luck in your writing! Make sure you are having fun! And make sure you take advantage of the tools others have created because they really do help.

But most importantly... just write!

Your turn: What about you? How have you been able to add the Five C's into your story?


Friday, May 18, 2012

Why Social Networking?

Why Bother?

Ok, so I swore I'd NEVER use Twitter or get into social networking ever.


That oath didn't last long. As a matter of fact, I met other authors last October who swore by social networking to sell their brand and product.

But I didn't think I had a brand to sell. Boy was I wrong!

I have a book to sell. That means I have a product. And as a result, I have a brand to sell.

That would be me!

So, I took the dive and started a Twitter account that very day!  And immediately, I started following other writers, Christians, and moms who have similar interests.

I also had followers!

Which One Is Which?

Well, you can't try ALL of the social networking tools out there. You'd go nuts!

But do try the big three: Facebook, Twitter, and blogging.

After that positive experience, I decided to start an Author Facebook page where I could post about writing events and other news about my books.

So far, so good.

I find that Facebook can be a most valuable tool for getting your product out there.

But I feel the biggest change came when I starting to blog regularly. I blog 3 times a week about different subjects and, as a result, I have met other writers, literary agents, and other experts in their fields.

The information exchange has benefitted me immensely!

Now, blogging has become a regular part of my life.

I Can't Wait!

And I can't wait to share things on my blog about writing, faith in God, and other points of interest.

My personal brand has evolved and so has my platform.

My name is getting out there little by little so when my next book is released...I will be able to reach out to more people than ever before.

Why Social Network?

Why not??

If you have a product to sell, I highly recommend getting your name out there. Create a personal brand. Tell the world who you are and what you are about.

Yes, I know social networking can be a negative....but it can also be used for good!

I am planning on a mission trip early this summer and I can't wait to blog about it, post pictures on Facebook, and send tweets out on Twitter about the events of the day.


It's all about making connections and informing the world about who you are and what you do. You'd be surprised! There are so many incredible people out there who do and love the things you do. By making contact, you will be furthering your message!

Make it a positive one!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Who is Our God?

"...Then he caught one sudden glimpse of a holy God. In that single moment, all of his self-esteem was shattered...The instant he measure himself by the ultimate standard, he was destroyed—morally and spiritually annihilated."
-Dr. R.C. Sproul writes of Isaiah's encounter with God

Our God is an Awesome God

As a Christian in high school, I was actively involved in church. I was part of a small youth group, had a wonderful youth pastor, and many Christian friends. 

I was at church on average three times a week. I read my Bible daily and thought I knew everything there was to know about Christ.

But looking back, I realize now that although I knew much about Christ...I knew nothing about God.

How can that be since they are One in the same? 

I didn't know about God because I was never really shown who our God is in His word.

Oh I was taught about His loving forgiveness toward sinners, His anger toward sin, and how He created the world with His awesome power just by speaking it into existence. But I was never told about perhaps the most important of His attributes:

His holiness.

The Holiness of God

It wasn't until many years later in 2000 when I read Dr. R.C. Sproul's most moving book about God, The Holiness of God, that I began to see who our God is...and I trembled. 

In what I consider to be Dr. Sproul's masterpiece, The Holiness of God takes the reader through the vision Isaiah had after King Uzziah died and he seeks God for wisdom. 

I thought I knew that familiar passage of scripture...but I had no idea!

Dr. Sproul did an excellent job of showing the believer whom they serve by going verse by verse through Isaiah 6 interpreting and dissecting everything that Isaiah saw in the Temple, everything he heard, and his reaction to God's presence.

I was captivated...intrigued by the mystery...then humiliated by my sin when God began to lift the veil from my eyes and show me just a tiny glimpse of His glory and His holiness.

I was never the same.

Holy, Holy, Holy

You see, I was content to think of God as love, like most people. Even unbelievers know God as "love" meaning God understands, He accepts you just as you are, He even will look the other way at your sin because He loves you so.

I fell for these lies. 

Yet God, in His mercy, revealed to me the Truth just as He did Isaiah in that vision.

Dr. Sproul pointed out that even the Seraphs, angelic beings without sin, could not stand in God's presence. Yet, God provided them a way to be with Him in that He gave them wings: 

-One pair so they could fly
-One pair so they could cover their feet
-and One pair so they could cover their faces (Is. 6:2)

How amazing!

In the presence of the exalted God, even these angelic beings cannot look upon the face of God, stand on the same holy ground, or show their feet. 

Then, Sproul pointed out that the "crux" of Isaiah's vision was when the seraphim cry out their message:

"And they were calling to one another: 'Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.'" (Is. 6:3)

Notice that they did not cry out "God is love, love, love"  or "God is just, just, just"

They cry out "Holy, holy, holy" with significance because in Hebrew poetry, the repetition of words is used for emphasis. For the Bible to mention something three times shows us the importance of those words. They are elevated to the next degree as though they are "super important" in scripture. 

When I read these words, I was met with the same reaction as Isaiah...

Woe Is Me

Isaiah 6 tells us the sound of the seraphim's voices shook the threshold and the temple was filled with smoke. What an awesome sight!

"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined!"  (Is. 6:5)

I remember well feeling the same way when I read these passages. When given a tiny glimpse into the holiness of God, I remember being confronted with my own sin.

So many times, through the years, I mistook God for this far off distant "Father" figure, but Jesus was warm and near and friendly and loving. 

I saw God as cold and cruel at times. But Jesus was the Good Shepherd, kind to His sheep.

Isaiah 6 brought me to reality: God is near and God is holy!

And in His holiness, He commands that we be holy. In fact, he is so holy, that when Uzzah touches the Ark of the Covenant, he is instantly struck DEAD.

God saw man's touch to be more filthy than the mud and dirt of the earth. 

How cruel it would be for God to demand holiness of His people without providing us a way to attain to that holiness...

One in the Same

Not by works that we do...but by the perfect and complete work of Christ do we now have access to a holy God. 

"...he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy.."  Titus 3:5

It was only after Isaiah saw his sinfulness in light of God's holiness did God move. The seraphim comes down and purges Isaiah's sins with hot coals and tells him his sin is atoned for. Once purged, then...and only then...does God speak. He asks who will go...and Isaiah says, "Here am I. Send me!"

I finally saw what God was trying to tell me in those verses.

I wanted to be used by God, but with sin in my life, I could not be used. 

By seeing who God was for the first time in my life, I was confronted with my sin, begged forgiveness, and was used by God in ministry.

I was finally able to see that it was God Himself who came down in the flesh and died for my sins on that cross. 

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..." John 1:1-3 & 14

My eyes were opened to the fact that only God could be the one Perfect sacrifice that could ever satisfy and redeem us because He alone is perfection

Nailed to the cross (the ultimate sign of shame and cursings to the Gentiles), stripped naked and beaten for our iniquity (the ultimate sign of shame to the Jews)—it was God Himself who became that Passover Lamb, that scapegoat taken outside the city gates and slain for the sins of His people. 

I realized then and there that Jesus and God are One in the same. 

And I was so humbled,  I wept. 

Our Holy God

Is God love? Yes. 

But He is also holy. He is also Just. And His wrath is real

And His wrath must be satisfied. There is only one way for that to happen and that is through Christ whose sacrifice was sufficient alone to atone for our sins.

So, to fully understand and know who our God is, one must try to know all of His attributes, not just the ones that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside or all safe and secure. 

God is holy and He demands holiness. He does not wink at sin. Sin must be...and will be dealt with.

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."  John 3:36

The wrath of God remains on those without Christ. There is no exception.

Some would say, "that doesn't seem very loving..."

But this Truth is the most loving gift of all: through Christ we have life. Without Christ, death.

It would be most cruel if we had to depend on someone else or on ourselves for eternal life. Then, we would most certainly die. That is why if you truly love someone, you must tell them the truth about their sin. 

Otherwise you love them straight to hell. 


I highly recommend The Holiness of God for those who long to know God more. I urge you to read it, study it, discuss it, and be prepared because once you are given that glimpse of who God truly is...

You will never be the same. 

Your turn: When did you first begin to understand who God truly is? 


Monday, May 14, 2012

The Five C's

Whenever I give a talk to kids in schools about writing, I always discuss The Five C's I learned from a fantastic book about writing scenes:

So what are The Five C's? Let's start with...


Ok, to begin with, your story has to have interesting characters. In order for them to be interesting, you have to know your characters. You, the writer, have to know EVERYTHING about your characters otherwise, the reader will know...

They will know that you didn't do your homework.

So, what all should you know about your characters?

Hair color
Eye color
Family history

As a writer, your job is to make sure you know all of the above. Write them down. Go back to your list for reference. 


Well, I once had a student tell me he noticed in one Harry Potter book the author mentioned his birthday as one date, then in another book she changed it to another date. 

Your readers are clever! They will notice if you get your characters eye color wrong. They will notice everything! These errors rudely take your reader out of your story and they may not want back in. 

Good writers are prepared.

Now, take that list and develop it even further. What is that secret your character has and why does she have it? Will it come back to haunt her? Will this secret be dealt with in your story or the next? 

Strengths and weaknesses are great for characterization, but show us and don't just have your character tell us her weakness is being disorganized. Show us!

The Next "C": Conflict

 I have blogged before about conflict, but it's worth mentioning againThere comes a time when you have that feeling of inner conflict. Perhaps when a boss orders you to do something that goes against your beliefs or when you make a decision that might hurt someone you love. 

That inner struggle is what makes your readers begin to care about your character. 

But sometimes there is an outer struggle as well. 

In The Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter is mysteriously entered into a contest he might not be able to live through. Inwardly, he struggles with being the "hero" and making it through to the end. Outwardly, he struggles with how his classmates react to his entrance into the contest. They suspect him of cheating. 

This is an excellent example of conflict that draws your readers in and makes them care about the characters.

Think of how you will add conflict to your story and why. 

Not every story needs to have that Sophie's Choice moment of conflict, but think of how you will show your character struggle with some issue or crisis inwardly and outwardly. 

That's it for now....

Next week I will discuss the other "C's" and show you how to further develop your story using this clever tool.

In the meantime...just write!


Friday, May 11, 2012

This Post is NOT About Gay Marriage

Taking a break today from blogging. I thought I'd post a brilliant video over 2 million have viewed: Listen up, America! This is the TRUE agenda of the Obama Administration and Liberals like him.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Centrality of Belief

"For God, who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."  2 Corinthians 4:6


In the book, Love Your God With All Your Mind, by J.P. Moreland, the author discussed how the beliefs of a Christian affect their walk with Christ.

I thought I'd share some things I gleaned from this most excellent book.

Personal Needs

I shared with our youth this past Sunday about certain systems of belief. One being the idea that God is good because He meets all my needs.

This system can extend to our family, our careers, and our church. 

We tend to tell others about God when all our personal needs are being met. We do not hesitate to share our faith when everything is going along smoothly. "Oh Jesus is so wonderful," we say. "I pray and He answers me!"

I went on to explain just why this way of believing is dangerous. 

What happens when our needs aren't being met? Does this mean God isn't good? Does this mean God doesn't exist?

What happens when we arrive at church and find that we aren't the center of its universe? Does this mean we leave the church? What happens when our family does not meet our needs? Do we abandon our family?

Centrality of Beliefs

It is usually at this time in our spiritual walk that we respond in one of two ways:

We either realize we do not know what we believe and, therefore, want nothing to do with a God that just might not meet all our needs exactly when we expect them to be met. 


We draw nearer to God because we realize we depend solely on His goodness for all our needs. 

The latter reveals to us that we have reached a point in our spiritual journey when our belief in Christ becomes central to our lives.

Our belief in Christ takes over our lives and begins to affect our way of thinking, acting, and living. 

In other words, we stand back and say, "It's not about me....but about Him."

And we accept it. 

The Empty Self vs. The Complete Self

When this happens, when the Christian can stop and realize he or she is not the main character of this story...when he or she realizes that they are here to serve the main character, life can truly begin. 

The Christian cannot remain still. The Christian must move. 

Compare this with the empty self:

The empty self is passive. It sits and waits for things to come to it. 
The Christian is actively pursuing service to the Lord. 

The empty self is individualistic and narcissistic.
The Christian is to consider other's needs more important than his own.

The empty self infantile. Always looking for outward stimulation.
The Christian is mature in Christ and is always yearning to know more spiritual things of God.

The empty self is sensate. It is always looking for experiences and satisfaction of the five senses.
The Christian is easily satisfied with the supernatural immaterial things of God he cannot control in both good times and  hard times. 

The empty self is hurried and busy. Always gorging itself with activities and noise to fill the emptiness. Distracted.
The Christian is calm, patient, and peaceful. Completely satiated with the activities of the Lord. Focused.

See the difference?

The Truth

Moreland gives the Christian a way to develop the Christian mind so we do not fall back into that empty self we once knew. 

I highly recommend this book for the Christian who struggles with their worldview. Moreland shows you how to develop that Christian/Biblical worldview so that you truly are loving God with all your mind. 

The results?

Your beliefs are able to withstand the silences that sometimes come from God. Your beliefs are able to withstand the prayers that are answered with a resounding "No" or "Not yet..."

Instead of crumbling when your belief system is struck and the cognitive dissonance paralyzes you, the Christian worldview allows you to continue on. Focusing on Christ allows you to sustain through the storms and carry on in service...just as Christ did when He walked the earth.

God has given us the knowledge of the Light which is the glory of Christ. He has given us that knowledge so that we can hold fast and never stumble. He is that perfect truth. That perfect love.

"Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! It is an ever-fixed mark 
That looks on tempests and is never shaken .."   -Shakespeare Sonnet 116.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Theme in Writing

Okay, so I saw Marvel's The Avengers this weekend.

One word: AWESOME!!

It truly was a good old fashioned FUN movie experience.  I really appreciated the writing as well as the visual effects. 


But as we were watching the movie, I couldn't help but notice the themes: a morality tale of absolute evil and absolute good; the value of teamwork; and finally, self sacrifice for the greater good.

It was amazing to see how the writers made connections to all the characters reinforcing plot elements from each of the movies previously released. Brilliantly done!

It was the themes, however, that drew me into the story even more. That's not an easy feat with such gigantic characters and visual effects, but these writers and the director accomplished it beautifully.

Morality Tale

As I have blogged before, the villain in the story must have connections to the main character some how. In this instance, the villain, Loki, is brother to Thor in the story. But the villain had also done his homework in making sure the other characters were also connected to him. He sort of handpicks each of the heroes to ensure they are right where he needs them to be. 

The fact that this villain is absolutely evil to the core helps set up the story perfectly. He is unpredictable, cruel, intelligent, funny, and evil all at once. 

By making him this way, the idea of absolute good is needed to complete the tale. Good call.

This makes us care for the good guys. This makes us care for the mission.

A good lesson for writers.


After the movie, my husband and I discussed the theme of teamwork in the film. The writers made a good point of showing us the idea of how difficult it can be for someone who is used to working alone can struggle with teamwork when forced to work with others. 

This is so true in all aspects of life. One wouldn't think of a group of super heroes dealing with such struggles, but the writers provide the solution: the common cause.

The team works best when focusing on the common cause of destroying evil once and for all. A powerful theme in a story every writer might want to consider for their book. 

Self Sacrifice

Without giving anything away for those who haven't seen the movie, the theme of self sacrifice is prevalent in the film more so than in other super hero movies up to date. 

This helps draw the viewer in. 

In writing, the reader cares about a character willing to risk their own lives to save another. There is something special about that concept. We read about it today when a soldier leaps on a grenade to save his comrades in arms. This act of selflessness makes us all wonder if we could...or would...ever do such a thing. 

This theme is very powerful indeed. Show your readers something valiant about your character in this way. Think of Katniss taking the place of her little sister, Frodo willing to take the ring to Mordor and Sam willing to go with him, or Aslan willing to die for the cause of good over evil. 

In The Avengers, we are shown this theme and it works. The viewer cares so much about the characters that this act becomes real and not abstract.

The End

All-in-all, The Avengers us a great film and a great lesson in theme: it's not merely what the story is "about" but about experiences and ideas; connecting those experiences and ideas throughout the story. That's what makes it interesting!

I highly recommend seeing the movie on the big screen with that surround sound for the full effect! I am off to see it again real soon.

But also see it as an example of good writing for sheer entertainment factor. I could go on and on about more aspects of writing, but I wanted to point out the themes here more than anything else.