Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Book Review: Isle of Swords

I knew nothing about this book when I begged and pleaded for it for Christmas last year. The reason? The Door Within trilogy by the same author, Wayne Thomas Batson. I bought those without really knowing what they were about, either. This was because I went to a bookstore where L.B. Graham was having a book signing. As all of my friends were HUGE fans of L.B. Graham, they elected me to cart all their books up to Enumclaw to have them signed.

Wayne Thomas Batson happened to be there, along with Bryan Davis, Christopher Hopper, and a few other authors. During the course of the event, Mr. Batson gave a dramatic reading. It was so impressive that I knew I had to get his books. And he can sword fight. +10 cool points right there. So I got The Door Within trilogy there, and they were awesome. So I had to get the two Isle books.

Now. On with the review of the first Isle book.

Title: Isle of Swords
Author: I think you know already
Favorite character: Cat or Red Eye
Favorite sentence: Hard to choose. I liked a lot of them. :)

The story is an epic treasure hunt on the high seas. Plenty of pirates are after this fabled treasure and the ebil rat (the bad guy) will stop at nothing to get it. Some clues to the treasure are left with a near mortally wounded 16-year-old kid who remembers nothing of his past.

What I liked about the book: It had just about all the things I like in a story: guns, swords, tons of explosions (oh, YES!), kidnappings, noble and courageous feats, and likeable characters. Although this Norwegian girl was sad that the Viking in the story was the ebil rat. And while the ebil rat is QUITE unlikeable, I pitied him and wonder if he could ever be turned to good. Maybe?

I had one fear throughout the book. I knew that Cat (the character with amnesia) would at some point discover his true identity. I was afraid that when he learned his name, he'd switch over to it and not be Cat again. Thankfully, he didn't! What a relief! His real name is cool, but Cat is cooler. :-)

David will laugh if he reads it, because he knows my dislike for multiple exclamation points, but the story was good enough for me to be able to ignore them. ;-)

It was a great book from a Christian point of view. I think y'all should go read it. I'm tagging the people that I think will be particularly interested.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Passion of the Christian

Find your purpose. Find your passion.

I hear those phrases said a LOT by unhappy, teen/twentyish Christians this last year or two.

Here's an example: I was listening to a young man who was telling me about a conversation he'd had years before with an elderly missionary. The missionary told him: "Now, you can get a good job, a great wife, and be very content and happy until you reach about 40, then you'll feel like there's something missing. Or you can do what I did and be a missionary." The young man told me, "I can see the first part coming true with me - I have that stuff... I'm afraid of eventually feeling like there's something missing."

Well, I thought on what to advise him. First I had to clear up something that struck me wrong. I asked him, "So... Being a missionary solves all your problems and makes you content?" Not that I'm against missionaries; believe me, I hold them in high respect. But if you're going to be a missionary for the wrong reason, it is WRONG. Be a missionary to spread the Word, not to be your fix-all pill.

Then the young man said the phrase that grates on me like you have no idea: "That was back when I was trying to find my passion."

No. Hold the phone.

You don't find passion. Passion finds you.

There is such an emphasis on finding your passion/purpose/whatever among Christian youngsters in my current sphere of friendship. I blame this idea on people who want to write and sell Christian self-help books, and I don't understand it. Never before in my life had I heard it before going to college, and it struck me as very backward. Same as it grates on my when people ask, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Don't be stuck on the future, people! Be stuck on NOW. NOW is when you're alive!

Let's go back to my beloved book of James. James 4:13-17:

13 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money."
14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
15 Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."
16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.
17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.

That blunt enough for you? So what is "the good he ought to do?" How about Ecclesiastes 9:10: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom."

Whatever your hand finds to do. Anything your hand finds to do. Everything your hand finds to do.

Live this moment for Christ. Think this thought for Christ. Pray this prayer for Christ. Share the Word for Christ. Be the temple for Christ. If you do, your passion, contentment, and peace will find you.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Journey Through Job

I've always been encouraged by Job, and yesterday afternoon Joey and I were reading the first few chapters. If you're not familiar with Job, here's his story in a nutshell:

He was a rich man with a bunch of wonderful kids and all of them loved God with all their hearts. Satan went before God and asked if he could try and break Job's faith. God said Satan could do anything short of killing him. So Satan sent men to kill Job's animals and servants. He caused all of Job's children to die. All Job was left with was his life and his wife, who told him to curse God and die. He was covered with boils and sat in ashes, scraping the boils with a shard of pottery. (Job 1+2, heavily generalized)

We think WE have it bad sometimes.

And through all of it, Job PRAISED GOD. I can't underline that enough times. There's so much in this book that you'll have to read for yourself. Go ahead. Set aside time to read the Word.

One of my favorite Bible passages comes from Job 12: 7-10. I remember the first time I saw a calf born, and afterward, Grandpa and I stood in the barn and watched the cow and her little baby as the calf struggled to stand up and then wobbled around the pen. Grandpa told me he'd seen calves born so many times, and every time, he felt again the wonder and amazement at God's world. Myself? I'm overwhelmed by it.

7. "But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:
8. Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee; and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee:
9. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought [made] this?
10. In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

An Aspect on the Love Chapter in Relation to Spiritual Gifts

1st Corinthians 13.

Whenever I hear this recited or see it printed on a card, it goes from verse 4 to 8a, ending with "Love never fails." If you've never read it, go read it now and then come back.

It's a wonderful description of what love is. But there are a few other pieces of this puzzle. Yes, this is in my beloved King James, so y'all can find your favorite translation if you like. :-) Verses 1-3:

1. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity [love], I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.
2. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains and have not charity [love], I am nothing.
3. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and though I give my body to be burned and have not charity [love], it profiteth me nothing.

What brought this up? Chapter 12. It's all about spiritual gifts. He'd just gotten done telling these people about the different gifts, but then in chapter 13, he says, "WAIT! There's another part here, folks!" He says if your spiritual gift is tongues, but you don't love, you'll just be babbling and making raucous noise. Or if you have the gift of prophecy, and you don't love, you're nothing. Even if you're martyred and have no love, it don't give ya nothin'.

Maybe that's not a surprise to you, but I memorized this entire chapter when I was 13 and said those first verses over and over... and never caught on that he was talking about those oh, so special spiritual gifts! I didn't understand that it was my responsibility to love at ALL TIMES and that through my love, I will speak in tongues or I will prophesy or give mercy or have faith. I don't know my spiritual gift.

Or maybe I don't have to know what it is. Maybe through love and devotion to my Lord, it will simply spill out of me.

^^^Think about that. Do you need to know your gift to follow Christ? I know some people who will say yes. Me? I say no.

Why is love more important than gifts? The rest of verse 8 that we skipped, verse 9, and verse 10.

8b. ...but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail. Whether there be tongues, they shall cease. Whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
10. For we know in part, and we prophecy in part.
11. But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.

Your gift is your vehicle to share your love. First you have love. Then your gift pops up and says, "Hey! Look at God's love!" To use this megaphone, you must first have your message. Learn your message. Practice your message. Be devoted to your message. Love your message.