Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
~ Hebrews 11:1 KJV
Alrighty all you peoples! (Because I know there are sooooo many of you reading through the Bible with me this year .)
If you’re on track with the schedule, then we have/will finish the book of Genesis today.
Here’s my plan: sometimes tomorrow, before hubby gets off work for the weekend, I’m going to sit down and record a video discussing the book of Genesis. I will post the video on Saturday.
Here’s where I need you to come in: Do you have any questions you specifically want addressed? Anything that confuses you, or anything you want to know more about, I want it all!
So leave a comment if you’ve got a question, whether you’re reading the Bible through this year or not. I will do my best to answer them in the video!
Yes most certainly, and I count all things to be a loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death; if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect; but I press on, if it is so that I may take hold of that for which also I was taken hold of by Christ Jesus.
Brothers, I don’t regard myself as yet having taken hold, but one thing I do. Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 3:8-14 WEB
2012 was . . . interesting. A lot of really good things happened (we bought a house! I made it into Round 2 of NaNo Virtuosos!), and a lot of really awful things happened (um . . . yeah . . . can’t really tell you a lot of that, because of sensitive family situations. Just keep us in your prayers.), and yet I still don’t understand all of these people I see posting on Facebook saying “good riddance!” to 2012.
I didn’t hate 2012. It was definitely NOT the best year ever, but some of the best things to ever happen in my life happened in 2012. They just also happened to accompanied by some of the worst things.
But if I hadn’t lived through them, I would not be the person I am today. I would not be as strong as I am today. I would not be ready to take 2013 by the . . . okay, I won’t say THAT, because my mother might read this post.
But 2013, I am ready for you. Because this year, I am not going to live my life based on the whims of people or politicians, of political correctness or polite company, or expectations or complications.
This year, I am going to be ME. I’m going to be the best me that I can, and that is a me pursuing God above all else, because God is the One who, when several years ago I laid all of my hopes and dreams before Him on the altar – including my then new-found love of writing – gave writing back to me and said “do this.”
Because even before being an American, a wife/daughter/granddaughter/cousin, or a writer (which is evidently engraved into my very soul), I am a child of God. And God is far higher and far more powerful than politicians, or people, or circumstances.
That is why, even though some terrible things happened in 2012, that I can say it was a good year. Because I have a good God that is still standing with me, and His promises never fail.
Not in the old year, and they will not in the new. Even if I can’t see how something will work out, God does. And He will guide me there.
. . . and that totally went in a tangent I was not expecting, but I think I really needed to say that!
What I really meant to say:
Since one of my New Year’s goals is to read the Bible daily, I want to extend an invitation to you!
Several years ago, my grandmother assembled a Read-The-Bible-Through-In-A-Year plan. It averages out to approximately three chapters per day. (And I have resolved that I will make a PDF version of that plan by the end of the week so that it can be printed out.)
I know of at least a few people who follow this blog that have made “reading the Bible daily” part of their goals for 2013.
So, if you’ve ever wanted to read the Bible from cover-to-cover, whether it was in a year or not, would you like to join me in reading it THIS year?
Ideally, I want to post once a week and give my thoughts, impressions, and opinions on that week’s readings. This is also to motivate myself, though, because even though I’ve read the Bible through three times in my life, I haven’t actively studied it, and that’s what I want (need) to do!
I’ll mostly be reading in the New King James version, but for blog posts I’ll be referring to the World English Bible (WEB) translation, available (completely free and in the public domain!) here.
The WEB does include what is known as the Apocryphal books listed in the books of the Bible (Tobit – 4 Maccabees – these are Jewish books), and those will not be included in this reading-through-the-Bible plan. I do want to read them one day, but since I was raised in Protestant denominations, I haven’t been taught that they were a part of the divinely inspired Word of God (though the Roman Catholic church includes them). (There will be more discussion about this later.)
So, please come along for the ride with me! I promise that I have a very unique perspective on certain things, so this trip through the Bible will not be boring!
Otherwise, I believe you can still sign up through the end of Jan 1 for Health Month, if you want some encouragement for becoming healthy(ier) in the New Year! Don’t forget to join my WriteMeHealthy team!
First up, some reminders:
Also, in celebration of reaching the 300-blog-posts milestone, I’ve got a giveaway running! Go check it out and enter to win some awesome winter treats (or a feature on my blog)!
Now on to the real post . . .
A few weeks ago, we watched this fascinating video at church.
I will admit that I have just finished watching this video for the 3rd time this month.
There are some problems with the church as a whole these days – the major one being that we no longer know how to defend our faith, especially in the face of so-called reasonable “scientists” who are adamant that there is no way science and the Bible can work together (even though they do – read the Old Testament laws, especially in light of what we know about germs now).
I’m not going to go into a debate about evolution vs. creation right now, except to say this – I believe the Bible to be the unerring, infallible, unfailing, LIVING, Word of God. If we expect to ask people to adhere to it, we Christians must be willing to adhere to all of it, even in the face of doubt.
If we deny one part of it, then soon we will deny all of it. There is no purpose for the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ if we deny the truth of the creation and fall of man.
That said, let’s move on to the next point.
There is a huge difference between astronomy (the observation and study of stars) and astrology (the worship of stars – if you’re looking to something for absolute guidance of your actions, even if it is merely the movement of the stars, then you are indeed worshiping it). The only worship allowed in the Bible is the worship of God – the first two of the 10 Commandments:
“I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
“You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them . . .”
Exodus 20:2-5a WEB
But the stars are given as signs:
Genesis 1:14-15 WEB – God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs to mark seasons, days, and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth”; and it was so.
Psalm 19:1-4a WEB – The heavens declare the glory of God. The expanse shows his handiwork. Day after day they pour out speech, and night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their voice has gone out through all the earth, their words to the end of the world. (Paul quotes this verse in Romans 10:17-18.)
So in light of these things, wouldn’t it make sense for the Star of Bethlehem to be something that actually happened?
That is what lawyer& professor Frederick A. Larson has researched and recorded in his video, The Star of Bethlehem: Unlock the Mystery of the World’s Most Famous Star.
What he discovered was that the star of Bethlehem was much more than just a simple star – it was a series of events that happened in the sky that line up with specific criteria given throughout the Bible, though the specific criteria for the actual star that the magi followed to Bethlehem is listed in the book of Matthew.
He details all of the information (in non-video format) on his website, BethlehemStar.net.
I would highly recommend using both the website and the video together, because there are somethings that are easier explained written down, and others that make more sense when actually illustrated in a lecture (which is essentially what the video is).
If you love astronomy, no matter what your religious opinion, you will probably find this video fascinating.
If you are a Christian, you will find this video a challenge to your relationship with God, especially as you discover what Larson has termed the “poetry of terrible beauty” that God has written in the sky from the very day He created the world – timed perfectly for the fulfillment of prophecy, to bear witness to the birth and death of the Savior.
If you watch this, you will never again see the stars in the same way again.
(Feature image by David Schumaker)
- Star of Bethlehem (seashoremary.wordpress.com)
I certainly hoped that I would get here one day, but it’s one of those goals that’s surreal until you actually reach it, and then it’s even MORE surreal.
And it’s only taken me a year and a half to get here.
I’ve learned so much about myself, my creativity, and my potential in these 300 posts.
I’ve learned just how much outlining helps me write a story.
I’ve learned that I can type coherent – if completely unrelated – sentences in my sleep.
I’ve learned that I can finish the first draft of a novel within a deadline, and even make headway on editing it right away. (Shameless plug: I’m talking about my NaNo Virtuosos entry, Catalyst. Go here to vote for it to advance to round 2! Hint: scroll down to the checklist for the voting! You can only vote for an entry once, so don’t try to vote for Catalyst multiple times, ok?)
I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how far apart we may live, writers are a community, no matter what is happening in our lives.
And that Christmas always comes, even if it feels like it is an eternity away.
Yeah, I know that last one is random, but it’s true.
I’ll admit that I get excited for the gifts (both giving and receiving them) at Christmas time, but that isn’t why I look forward to Christmas every year.
I look forward to Christmas because it’s my reminder that I will never, ever, be alone, no matter what happens. Because Emmanuel has come – God is with us.
We are blessed this Christmas. Not because there will be a lot of gifts under the tree – because there most certainly won’t be – but because I have a home. I have my family. I have a plan for beginning to become self-sustainable.
And because, most of all, I have a Savior.
So, in celebration of ALL these things, I’m having a little giveaway!
There will be two prizes, because there are people from outside of the US who follow this blog .
Rafflecopter is up again! Just click the link in my post to get to the giveaway .
First off, the giveaway can be found on my Facebook page, since there isn’t really ANY giveaway widget I can post directly on my blog because of WordPress.com’s security measures (blah).
The first prize is some homemade goodies from me!
I made a batch of homemade oatmeal cream pies for a writer’s get-together a while back, and they were a hit! Don’t believe me? Just ask Michelle, Lissa, Candace, KT Hanna, or Andrew. They all loved them. I’ve also got some cranberry scones to make, and what else goes with cookies and scones but hot tea or hot chocolate? So, the goody basket will consist of: oatmeal cream pies, cranberry scones, and your choice of hot tea (any flavor that you like that I can find locally) or hot chocolate. (This prize for US residents only. Because I’m not about to tackle shipping perishables internationally. Also, these goodies will contain wheat.)
The second prize, for those of you outside the US, will be a feature on my blog.
By “feature” I mean: a ginormous post all about YOU! I’ll interview you, link to your blog & any social networking, talk about any books you have published, or anything else that is of huge interest to you. Basically, I will brag about you (with some help from you, especially if I don’t know you super-well!). We can really talk about anything you would like, within reason. I won’t discuss gratuitous sex or violence, or post any profanity, though.
- It’s time for NaNo Virtuosos! (blackanddarknight.wordpress.com)
Well, this is my first Sunday post in . . . a while. What’s been going on in my life?
A little bit of everything.
Mark Lowry, a Christian comedian, has a wonderful talk that pretty much sums up how I feel right now (the entire video is good, but if you want to skip to the really relevant part, it’s at 5 1/2 minutes in):
Life is definitely going up and down for me right now. Things are hard on the family front (fyi: when I say “family”, I mean my immediate relations, not my hubby), and I don’t know what’s going to happen with Christmas this year. My dad (and I use this in the loosest sense possible – I’m really tempted to just start calling him the sperm donor [SD]) is setting up to go on permanent disability, but because of a long set of circumstances, my family is looking at three months with no income before SD can claim his long-term disability benefits.
Hubby and I are currently not in a position to help them financially, unfortunately, and I’m worried for them. I know it will be okay, but the only thing I keep thinking is “How long? How much more do we have to endure?”
So, my goal this year is to not spend much, if any, money on Christmas. I’ll buy for Hubby, but only one or two things, and make everything else. God knows I’ve got enough craft stuff lying around . . .
On the writing front . . .
Things are okay. I’m making progress according to LadyJai’s definition (I figured you wouldn’t mind me stealing your picture, dear!):
But I’ve not been making progress on a daily basis. At this point, it’s better for me to measure my progress on a weekly basis. It’s also better than I’ve been doing for months.
Along those lines, I’ve started writing fan fiction (again). Writing fan fic is actually how I started writing, beyond the little stories my sister and I dabbled in when we were young.
So in a way, I’m attempting to retrace my steps. I’ve forgotten how to just sit down and write, let alone making it all up as I go along. Fan fic helps me remember what the actual writing is like, and when I can do that, then I’ll finally be able to get the words in my head out the way they need to be for my own stories.
And it’s working, because I’ve actually been making progress on Stars for the Dead again since I picked up the fan fic. I really need to start getting a daily turn-out, though, because NaNo is coming!
I think I’ve almost come to terms with the fat that I need to cancel my pitch appointment at the Ozark Creative Writer’s Conference next month, though. I made the appointment back in April, when I didn’t know that all hell was about to break loose (more like chew me up, swallow me, vomit me and swallow me again) in my personal life. It’s just a matter of sending the email. I just don’t have anything ready to pitch at this point, and I don’t want to kill myself these next couple weeks trying. I’ll just do everything I can to have something ready to pitch at OWFI next year.
In my non-writing and non-family life, things are going okay. I’m starting to identify myself as an urban farmer, and am planning how I want my yard and garden to shape up. I want to turn the front yard into a mini-orchard, and the back yard into an edible-landscape-oasis (with a portion set aside for a regular veggie garden, of course). It’s going to take years to turn out how I want it, but it’ll happen. In time.
And along those lines . . . I’m getting chickens this week! Through a bizarre set of circumstances yesterday and being in the right place at the right time, I’m actually being given 6 Rhode Island Reds (well, technically one of them is white, but that one might end up in the stew pot . . .), as well as the required coop, enclosure, and feed. There are four hens, one rooster, and one “not sure which yet” (the white one).
Talk about God’s provision! I had actually just been talking to my girls (Michelle, Lissa, Jess, Serena, and Eris) that morning about wanting chickens but not being able to get them until spring because of the finances. So, yeah . . .
Hopefully I’ll have chicken pictures for you all next weekend! Can’t wait!
How’s your life going? Hopefully better than mine (except in the case of the chickens – you can’t take my free chickens)!
But you remain in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing from you have learned them. From infancy, you have known the holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. I command you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his Kingdom: preach the word; be urgent in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and teaching. For the time will come when they will not listen to the sound doctrine, but, having itching ears, will heap up for themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside to fables. But you be sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, and fulfill your ministry.
~ 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 WEB (World English Bible)
Every person has a calling, whether or not you follow through on it.
Every person is created to know the Creator – to become more and more like Him, whether you fulfill that purpose or not.
No matter how much we mess up, how many mistakes we make, the original purpose God placed within us is still there – and it’s never too late to come back to it.
That’s the beauty of mercy and grace.
Our mistakes are our testimony. They temper us, but only when we surrender them to God. When we let Him take them and redeem them, so that they can become our ministry.
To minister is to be of service. It is to be a servant, and any Christian who thinks that they are in this for their own gain is sadly mistaken.
As much as we are children of God (Romans 8:14-16), we are also soldiers (2 Timothy 2:3-4) and servants (Ephesians 6:6) of God.
Children are provided with all their needs, but soldiers and servants willingly set aside those needs for the benefit of others (2 Corinthians 8:9-15).
As much as God has already given us, and with everything that He longs to give us, the least we can do is fulfill our ministry – our service – in this world.
How are you going to fulfill your ministry?
- Be Diligent – Sunday Devotional (blackanddarknight.wordpress.com)
Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
~ 2 Timothy 2:14-15 KJV
In the New King James Version, rather than King James, the phrase “study to shew [show] thyself approved unto God” is “be diligent to present yourself approved unto God”.
The life of faith, and the life of writing, is like a test. Honestly, it is a test.
To pass the test, you have to study the material. As a Christian, this means reading the Bible, praying continually, and fellowship with other Christians. As a writer, it means writing continually, improving our craft through input from other writers, reading books on writing, and taking classes and workshops.
If you are passionate about something, you have an obligation to know all the ins-and-outs of it, so that when someone asks you a question, you are able to answer them – with truth.
- No Corrupt Word – Sunday Devotional (blackanddarknight.wordpress.com)
- The Word – Sunday Devotional (blackanddarknight.wordpress.com)
- Write the Vision – Sunday Devotional (blackanddarknight.wordpress.com)
Let no corrupt communications proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
~ Ephesians 4:29-30 KJV
Edify (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary) – to instruct and improve the mind in knowledge generally, and particularly in moral and religious knowledge, in faith and holiness.
As a Christian, how does one write the gory, the painful, the tragic? We authors intentionally mess with emotions – those of our characters, those of our readers, and those of our own. Can this really be edifying to the reader?
And yet . . . the Bible, the divinely inspired Word of God, is filled with examples. The book of Judges, and even 1st and 2nd Chronicles, and all the Prophets are filled with gore and promiscuity. The Psalms will toy with your emotions like nothing else – I’m convinced that David went through some severe bouts of depression.
But none of it is meaningless – and it all goes to show a bigger picture. The bigger picture of the amazing love God has for every person on this earth.
That is what our writing is supposed to do, as well.
Even if there are tough subjects that we deal with, there should always be hope infused to every story.
Because life, without hope . . . well, what is it worth?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
~ John 1:1-15 KJV
There is one nightmare that every writer looking to be published has to face – writing a pitch and a synopsis.
How on earth do you condense your story down into two-to-three sentences, and then less than 10 pages? Or sometimes as few as a couple of pages?
And yet, in the Bible, John condenses the entirety of the Triune Godhead into a few verses, along with the important points of the Gospel message.
As a writer, I have no choice but to greatly admire that.
The Bible is always spoken of as a guide for living – but it is also one of the greatest pieces of literature to ever exist. What have you learned about writing when reading the Scriptures? Have you even considered it before?
And if John can condense all of that, surely we can condense our novels into a synopsis!
And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit unto the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I gi e three, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. IF though therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, thou shalt worship the Lord they God, and him only shalt thou serve. And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, if thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus said unto him, it is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. ~ Luke 4:1-13 KJV
The written word is the most permanent record mankind has.
Oral tradition is a beautiful thing, but human memory is so fallible.
So we write – so that future generations can read and understand our very thoughts, emotions, and actions.
The accuracy of the Word of God is proven – the Dead Sea Scrolls contained the book of Isaiah word for word as it is in the Bible today, among others.
The written word is also used as evidence – everything spoken in court is written down, certain documents must always be signed.
Satan didn’t take this into account when he twisted the 91st Psalm as he tempted Jesus to jump from the temple.
The Bible is the greatest witness of all – no other book has affected the world so, no other book ever will.
I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables that he may run that readeth it, for the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
~ Habbakkuk 2:1-3 KJV
The writing life involves a lot of patience – the same with the Christian life when you’re pursuing your relationship with God.
Have you ever asked God for something? There are so many times in my life, even more than when the answer is “yes” or “no” that it’s simply “wait”.
Waiting is hard. I hated what people would say – that waiting produces patience and character. In my experience, it produces a lot of whiners!
When Someone asks you to wait, there is an amazing amount of trust involved. We live in a world where everyone is encouraged to be independent and self-sufficient – so when God says wait, it means we have to set aside our own experiences and judgment and trust that He knows what lies before us.
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. ~ Joel 2:28-29
Is there any greater dreamer than a writer?
I’m not demeaning anyone’s dreams – each one is unique to every person, whether it is to see different lands, to be a mother, or to write a best-selling novel. Perhaps it’s all of those.
But we writers have HUGE dreams, because for every wildly successful author, there are so many that don’t make it.
So what keeps us going?
Well, in my case, it’s the realization that I’m not simply telling stories – I’m being a witness. If I don’t tell the stories in my head, no one will. There is no one else who can do it the same way that I can.
I’ll be honest – not every story I write has a Christian theme to it. Blood of Trees doesn’t, but it deals more with a struggle I went through when I was younger – finding my place in a world where I wasn’t entirely sure that I was ever supposed to exist.
But God knows all – He knew the mistakes that were going to be made that affected my existence, and He put a dream and a purpose into my life anyway.
No matter what – your age, your past, your present, and even your future – God has given you a purpose, and dreams and visions according to that purpose.
He has given you access to His very Spirit to enable those dreams.
So what are you (what am I) waiting for?