But if they don’t like me… John 12

How many times do we shy away from sharing Christ, from spreading light in the darkness, from standing up for The Lord and what’s right, simply because we love praise from men?  And we make up all sorts of excuses.  Among the worst of those reasons is this one… if they don’t like me I won’t be able to evangelise them effectively.

How dare we blame our shortcomings on God.  It’s one thing to honestly misunderstand, but to lazily settle for less and say someone else is to blame… shame on us.

While we must become all things to all men, that does not mean they must like everything we do.  Indeed if they are not a Christian then there will be things they simply won’t like about us.  There’s no getting around that, for the flesh does not like dying to the Spirit.

God did not call us to “Go unto the world and be liked.”  There are enough people who are liked, that’s not what the world is starving for.  God called us to love, and to speak the truth plainly in that love.  He called us to be like Christ.

In our passage, starting in vs. 42, we see that while some denied the plain truth of Christ, others believed.  Even some among the leaders believed!  But they fell short.  They would not confess their belief out of fear.  Fear of being put out of the synagogue.  Fear of losing the praise of men.  They loved that praise, more so than praise from God.

But Jesus encourages them.  He tells them, and indeed us, that those who believe in Christ believe also in the Father.  He tells us that He came to give us light, so we won’t have to remain in the darkness.

Jesus even says that He did not come to judge us.  No, He came to give us life.  Now there is judgment, and it will come by the words Jesus spoke to us.  But those very same words lead to eternal life!  We only need to heed them!  It isn’t God’s goal to cut us off and leave us in darkness.  Quite the opposite!  He came for our good.  And all that He did is for our good.  All that He continues to do is for our good, if we love Him and His calling.

God’s commands lead to true life.  And He has commanded every vessel of His Spirit to go and show the world that there is indeed light.  We need to warn them of the darkness they’re in by showing them that light.  Even if it means they don’t like us.  It’s not their opinion of us that will judge us on that Day, it’s the words of our Saviour.  The Saviour we claim as Lord.

And it’s not their opinion of us that will get them into heaven or hell.  It’s their standing with the Lord.    Are you living for yourself, so that hell will be full of people who like you and were never offended by the light you didn’t bring to their eyes?

You may enjoy your time in the synagogue that is the heart of the lost.  But will it be at the cost of Jesus not coming into their place of worship?  Has it become a place for the worship of you?

But they won’t listen to me if they don’t like me…

I desperately need to be different in this, and I fear I’m not the only one.

Hard Life for the Hard Heart- John 12

Jesus did so much to prove who He was. 

Many people today say that if they could meet Him face to face then surely they’d believe.  I doubt most people who say that, that is those who continue to say such a thing,  have been honest with themselves.  Even people of His time, who saw (in person) real and undeniable MIRACLES, did not to believe in Him. 

Verse 39 says “for this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: “He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn- and I would heal them.””

This is not the easiest passage to understand.  It seems to have a lot in common with Pharaoh’sheart being hardened.  Some people try to explain it by saying that God pointed fingers at random and decided who would and would not be capable of believing.  We know that’s a fallacy however, for many reasons.  One reason being that God Himself said through Paul that He “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

The quote in verse 40 of our text is from Isaiah 6:10.  Let’s go there.  God is sending Isaiah unto Israel with a message.  There’s more to it than that, but you’ll have to go back and read it carefully (noting in vs. 9-10 what Isaiah is told to “say” and what he’s told to “do”).  I’m still working on that one myself.  But in response Isaiah asks how long.  God says (to sum it up) until Israel’s cities are destroyed and the Israelites are sent far away.  All of this is because of Israel’s unfaithfulness.

Also quoted in our John text is another passage in Isaiah.  John says it’s a prophecy fulfilled by the people not believing in Jesus.  This quote is from Isaiah 53:1, and again you really should go to it and consider it in relation to our John 12 text.

While I have some ideas about what the entire meaning of this passage in John is, I won’t lay out my speculation here.  I’d hate to lead someone astray.  But what I can say is this…

Every person presented with Christ has a choice to make.  Choose Him and you will live.  You can ask your questions, but do not do so proudly.  You’ve been shown clearly enough that God exists and you have been shown that you have indeed sinned.  God does not expect you to say you believe in Him if you really don’t… He expects you to really believe in Him.  So leave no stone in your heart unturned and throw your all at His feet.  Consider everything with eyes wide open… He will answer you.  And the humble in heart will love His answer.

But a person could also choose to be proud and arrogant.  They could choose to close their ears, and turn their eyes, and harden their hearts.  This is not a correct answer to a math problem that they’re making, it’s a decision of what the answer is regardless of the equation.  It is not a whole hearted honest response, it’s a choice to reject the evidence before them because they want to believe something else.  Such a response may have results you didn’t plan on though.

A warning to any such person is found in John 12:37-50.  Go down this path, just as Pharaoh foolishly did, and you run the danger of having your heart hardened.  This hardening may last until you come to your last breath, in which case you will have ruled out for yourself any possibilityof hearing the truth with your heart.  Or the hardening may last until the false kingdom in your heart is destroyed, and you experience a pain and suffering for which you only have yourself to blame.

Lamentations 3:31-33 says “For men are not cast off by the Lord forever.  Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love.  For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.”  It is not God’s desire to make you suffer.  But He will do it to open your eyes and ears, to soften your heart.  The pain is your own doing, for it would not hurt to tear a thing from you unless you yourself stitched it into your own flesh.

Tear it off He will though, if you dare to let it go.  Better still, believe on Him when He comes to you, and save yourself the heartache of seeing your lie destroyed.  Believe on Him, that He might save you from the wrath to come.

Verse 41 brings up some more interesting thoughts, and again I can’t tell you I have it all figured out.  Likely it’s simply referring to the event described in the beginning of Isaiah 6.  Whether it is speaking of that event or something else, it’s clear that seeing the glory of Christ will change a person.  For better or worse, believe that you will be changed.  And know that you will have to answer for your response to Him.  Don’t chance eternal suffering for the sake of keeping your heart calloused.

Praise God!!!  Believe in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour of man!!!

See what the Rave’n is all about. Review #3 of Tuck, by Stephen R. Lawhead

And now we’ll look at the novel itself, Tuck by Stephen R. Lawhead.

Tuck was a fun story to read.  There were many elements that drew me into the time period and setting, but not so much so that I had to struggle to understand what was happening.  There was even a Pronunciation Guide at the beginning that really helped me to hear how the words were supposed to sound.  A sweet taste of the culture.

I liked the characters a lot!  Stephen did a good job of making them feel real.  I cared about them, about what happened to them.  And they weren’t simply molds from the popular views of Robin Hood.  These characters were familiar, yet brand new at the same time.

The overall story was very entertaining.  There were a number of times I had a hard time putting the book down, and other times that I caught myself pausing to soak up the mental images.

However I did have a couple complaints about the book. 

One was the particular version of a World View.  I hold many things against Catholicism, and do not believe it is the same as Christianity.  Because of the history of Europe I can see how Tuck could be accurately reflecting the popular views of the time.  But Catholicism certainly wasn’t the only view of the time that claimed Christ and I was hoping for something different from what was presented.  There were some things I was able to gain from the idea of Christ meeting Welsh culture though, mostly due to some elements I’ve been considering from G.K. Chesterton‘s “The Everlasting Man” and “Orthodoxy”.

My other complaint was that there were times when the plot seemed unnaturally convenient.  Providence could be mentioned here, I suppose, but even then the story still doesn’t seem to flow by its own power.  There were a number of times when it seemed like the author made it too easy on himself, and the sequence of events should have been different.  I mentioned in my last review on this book that it was believable, but I was speaking in a historical sense.  It would have been nice to see the story lead the author more than it did, rather than seeing the author force the story.  It wasn’t too bad, but it was enough to bug me a little.

Otherwise I enjoyed Tuck, and would recommend it to Fantasy fans.  And as I mentioned before, his other two books in the King Raven series (“Hood” and “Scarlet”) are on my reading list.

Overall, a good book.  I hope you enjoy it too!

To pick up a copy of Tuck, visit http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1595540873
For Stephen R. Lawhead’s Website, visit http://www.stephenlawhead.com/

For More Reviews, please visit the following sites from the Christian Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog Tour:
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Keanan Brand
Rachel Briard
Grace Bridges
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Alex Field
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Terri Main
Margaret
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Caleb Newell
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Epic Rat
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

Review #2 of what you thought you knew: Tuck, by Stephen R. Lawhead

Tuck was definitely a fun read.  Let’s consider part of what made that possible… the Setup.

I think most of us have at some point enjoyed the Robin Hood tale.  The legend has been presented with a Disney twist to young folks, and they’ve been loving it since the 1973 release of the movie.  Of course pop culture has many references to Robin the Shrek slayer and his Men in Tights.  So the basic elements of the story are familiar.  Studying for an Elizabethan Travel Guide I wrote gave me some additional exposure to the story.

This familiarity with the story likely had a lot to do with why I never really felt lost jumping into the 3rd novel in the series.  There were times when I wished I knew more details from the first two novels; but I only wanted them, I don’t remember feeling like I needed them.  This not only gives Tuck the ability to stand on its own, but it makes the reader want to see how the author envisionend the rest of the tale in his first two books.  Hood (book 1) and Scarlet (book 2) are definitely on my reading list now.

So if you’re new to the series it will likely be better if you read the first two novels first.  But don’t feel like you have to wait.  Tuck carries the uninitiated reader well, especially if the reader is familiar with the tale of Robin Hood.

I don’t know enough to speak with authority on how historically accurate the book is.  Indeed there are a lot of questions surrounding the tale of Robin Hood and I would question whether anybody can truly say how it came to be.  But this telling of Rhi Bran y Hud is a believable one. 

And more on that in the next review.

To pick up a copy of Tuck, visit http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1595540873
For Stephen R. Lawhead’s Website, visit http://www.stephenlawhead.com/

For More Reviews, please visit the following sites from the Christian Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog Tour:
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Keanan Brand
Rachel Briard
Grace Bridges
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Alex Field
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Terri Main
Margaret
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Caleb Newell
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Epic Rat
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

Bound to Impress! Review #1: Tuck, by Stephen Lawhead.

Tuck, book three of the King Raven Trilogy.  By Stephen R. Lawhead.  Published by Thomas Nelson.

I enjoyed reading Tuck.  But before getting into the content of this book, I want to comment on the class of the publisher.  They didn’t send out their cheapest copies for reviews.  They sent a hard cover copy, and with a full color, textured cover-sleeve.  I was immediately impressed when I saw it.

Because I’ve been looking into home binding some of my own works, I tend to notice the binding of books now.  I’m no expert by any means, but it’s not hard to see how well they put this book together.  The pages that bind the book block to the hardcover, normally plain paper of a sometimes heavier stock, were not only of the higher quality paper but they had a very nice map of the book’s setting.  The binding is solid; sewn and glued, with very clean edges all around.

Considering the cost of making such copies, I was impressed to receive this version of the novel for a book review.  The publisher and author obviously care to put their best foot forward, at least with this novel.  Good show Thomas Nelson and Mr. Lawhead.

In the next review we’ll consider the setup of the story.

To pick up a copy of Tuck, visit – http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1595540873  
For Stephen R. Lawhead’s Website, visit – http://www.stephenlawhead.com/

For More Reviews, please visit the following sites from the Christian Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog Tour:
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Keanan Brand
Rachel Briard
Grace Bridges
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Alex Field
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Terri Main
Margaret
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Caleb Newell
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Epic Rat
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

More Little Critters of Mount Rainer- Part 2

Here’s some more lists of little critters in Mount Rainier National Park!

Beavers:
-Beaver
-Mountain Beaver/Boomer

Canidae:
-Coyote
-Red Fox

Weasels, Skunks & Friends:
-Fisher
-Long Tailed Weasel
-Marten
-Mink
-Short Tailed Weasel/ Ermine
-Spotted Skunk
-Striped Skunk

Other:
-Porcupine
-Raccoon
-Snowshoe Hare/ Varying Hare

There’s a good chance of seeing at least one of these animals when camping out on Mount Rainier, and usually there’s many more to see.  Next time we’ll continue on with lists of some larger animals in Mount Rainier National Park.  God has filled the park with so much life!

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to check the latest sales at http://whittakermountaineering.com/