N!OBE, the CSFFBT special

So I had big plans for the tour this month because I love the book so much, not to mention I think that Andrew Peterson just might be the story teller of our age.  I was going to re-read the first book (On The Edge Of The Dark Sea Of Darkness) and post a review of it, I was going to attempt an email interview with Andrew Peterson, I was going to repost my original review of North! Or Be Eaten.  I was even going to post a review of his brother A.P. Peterson’s book from Rabbit Room Press, “The Fiddler’s Gun”.

But I learned a secret about life, dear reader, that no one else knows about.  I learned it after having our first child, Sarah Hope, only a few weeks ago. 

That secret, my friend, is…

Things don’t always go as planned.

I know, it’s something I’m sure none of you have experienced.  But please, believe me when I say it’s true!  It really is true!

Ok, so maybe I’ve been learning that one all my life, and maybe it’s a secret that everybody already knows.  But it’s true just the same.

So I hope I’ve distracted from the fact that I was lame and didn’t do any of those things on the list… even though I just reminded you of that very fact.  But at least I can do one of them now, repost my review of Andrew Peterson’s second book in the Wingfeather Saga… North! Or Be Eaten.

Before I do that, just let me say… I love this book!

This is a book I’ve been looking forward to for a while!  Normally things I wait this long to be entertained by end up disappointing me.

Not this book though!

From the very first chapter I was caught back up into the excitement of the Wingfeather Saga.  It took a few chapters for a few details from the last book to come back to me, but that wasn’t the book’s fault.  Whenever Andrew dropped a hint from the past the memories flooded in like a welcome tide.  It made me want to read the first book all over again.

So on the story went, in directions I wasn’t expecting.  There were many pleasant surprises, though they weren’t all pleasant for the characters to go through.  I did see a few surprises coming, but I think it’s because I’m familiar with AP through his music, and because he’s a fellow Christian.

The characters are deepened and developed more in this book than in most of the books I’ve read.  Take in where they started from in the first book, “On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness”, and it’s amazing to think of where they are compared to where they started from.  I have a feeling that the next book will do even more with them than both of the first two books combined.

I’m loving the setting of the books, the world of Aerwiar.  It’s a land of excitement and epic epochs.  Every image of Aerwiar that the book conjures up has filled my mind with bright vibrant color and overwhelming life (except those places in which life is snuffed out, color is erased by the wicked, or where all is dipped into the darkest black).  The pictures he scattered throughout the pages definitely drew my interest deeper.  I doubt Andrew will write enough books or draw enough pictures to fill my mind with all there is to the world he has created, and the world he is still creating.

The adventure of the book was thick throughout.  It was always one notch more exciting than I expected at any given time.  The drama of the tale unfolded naturally through the course of the journey, leaving NO time to wonder if the pace was too slow or too fast.  After reading the book I feel like I should have a torn up traveling outfit hung on my wall for a display to all.

And while I know I should have seen it coming, the power that filled the last part of the book blew me over.  There was one line in particular that broke me down.  My eyes flooded and my heart stole my mind away for well over ten minutes.  After that I was able to get back to the book.  There were a few more parts that caused my soul to pause and reflect, to soak it all in and breathe deeply the truths of the Living God.  I was compelled to think on Christ’s love, and it was so easy to comply.  The power lasted long after the last words, and I was assured that it goes back farther than the first book.

It was all strengthened by the fact that the next day I read a verse in the Bible that reflected the same truths written in that line that took my breath away.  I don’t know if Andrew had that Scripture in mind, but I’m sure he had the Author of Scripture in his heart as he wrote.

I really want to thank Andrew for writing this book and series.  I want to thank his family too.  As a writer myself I know the impact a wife can have on one’s writing, and I know about some of the sacrifice a wife has to make to let her husband immerse himself in the world he’s making.  And I can’t help but think that his kids are adding light and color to almost every corner of Aerwiar.  Thank you Petersons!

North! Or Be Eaten is an amazing story, and an amazing sequel to an awesome beginning.  I recommend the book to anyone of any age.  I’m truly hoping for many more books in Aerwiar, set in anytime in its history.

Thank God He has made people in His creative Image!!!

To pick up a copy, visit either http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400073871
or  https://store.rabbitroom.com/books/north-or-be-eaten

For more on the Wingfeather Saga, visit http://wingfeathersaga.com/

For more on Andrew Peterson, check out http://www.andrew-peterson.com  and  http://www.rabbitroom.com/

For more from the publisher, go to http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/

Now if you aren’t already ordering the book, I’m sure these other tour members will be convinced enough themselves to try and convince you to do so!

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Amy Browning
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
Nissa
Donita K. Paul
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
Andrea Schultz
James Somers
Steve and Andrew
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Jason Waguespac
Phyllis Wheeler
Elizabeth Williams
KM Wilsher

What Is Life?

We look at life as that which fulfills our souls, things that reach to our deepest of parts.  In doing so we miss the very thing we think we’re looking for.  We miss it because life isn’t about us, it’s about God.

Although life will fulfill our deepest parts, we’ll never find life by attempting to be satisfied.  True satisfaction and fulfillment come as by-products of finding life… by-products of finding God.  May we enjoy this benefit of life, but more importantly, may we truly live!

John 17:3 “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

God be praised!!!

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!!!

A Servant’s Honor- John 12

The hour had now come for Jesus to be glorified.  The Jews said their Hosannas, and now even the Greeks who came to worship God wanted to see Jesus.

And in this hour of glory Jesus states that He must die.

It may be hard to think of this as glorious, but remember that His life was not taken from Him.  He laid it down willingly for his people.

We too shall be honored by God when we lay down our own lives; when we go where He goes, and live as servants of Christ.  It may trouble our hearts to go through the hardships He calls us to, but remember it troubled Jesus’ heart too (v27).

But shall we say “Father, save me from this hour?”  Jesus didn’t.  It was for this very reason that He came to the hour of glory, the hour of death.  If God brings us to a place that requires a cross, then we must remember that He brought us there for that very reason.  If we love our life we will lose it.

If we can lose our life… we will find it.  And it will be something better than we could have ever imagined!

Hosanna!- John 12

The Jews of Jesus’ day were looking for deliverance from Rome.  With that in mind, if we look at Zechariah chapter 9 it’s not hard to see why they were so excited when Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem.

Zechariah 9 speaks of Jerusalem’s deliverer, and it is powerful!  It’s exciting!  Verse 8 says “But I will defend My house against marauding forces.  Never again will an oppressor overrun My people, for now I am keeping watch.”  That’s just one verse of it, the rest is in the same vein.

This “Triumphant Entry” of John 12 was the same event in which Jesus said that if the people didn’t worship Him then the rocks would cry out.  These people were pumped.  But when it turned out He wasn’t making a physical kingdom, we see a shift in the crowds.  It wasn’t long after this entry that the crowds shouted “Crucify!”

Do we do the same thing?  We see the behaviour of these people as foolish, but then we go about our lives expecting God’s deliverance for us to be an earthly one.  And when He doesn’t overthrow the Romans people get upset, they doubt Him, and they even put Him on a cross with their sins.

Read Zechariah 9, but recognize the truth of it.  The real deliverance.  We can, and certainly ought to shout “HOSANNA!”  Our King has come, righteous and having salvation.  He is gentle, and proclaims peace to His own.  We will still face the hardships of this world if we live but a bit longer.  Thank the Lord that His salvation for us is not simply from the temporary things, but from that which wages war on our souls.

Hosanna!

What’s that in your hand?- John 12

After withdrawing from the public for a time, Jesus comes to a dinner in Bethany (where Lazarus lived).  The dinner was to honor Jesus.

Martha served, Jesus and Lazarus were among those reclining at the table.  Mary was on the floor, pouring expensive perfume onto Jesus’ feet and wiping His feet with her hair.

And Judas was there, Judas Iscariot.  When he saw what Mary was doing he objected, saying that the perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor.  But as verse six tells us, Judas didn’t say this out of concern for the poor.  He said it because he was a thief.  He kept the money bag and liked to help himself to it.

How horrible that someone would do that!  Steal money from the bag that belongs to their Saviour, and use it for their own desires.  I don’t know why we do it.

God gives us so many talents.  Though the Bible says not many of the called were of note, it also says that God gives to each one as He sees fit.  And He gives to us for His own glory.  We are to use those gifts to serve Him and His people.

Yes there are things God gives us for our enjoyment (and indeed our enjoyment should be in using those things for Him).  But we’re no better than Judas when we dip into the treasury of the Lord in order to serve ourselves.  This includes not only money, but every gift from Him. 

There’s a story of a group of men who were told they would die if they didn’t turn bad.  For some of them this was no problem at all.  Some thought for a few moments before giving in.  But one man would not do it.  He feared his Maker more than those persecuting him.  He declared his stance for what’s right, and he told them God was his reason.  They killed him right then and there.

One of the men later looked back on the situation and wondered why the man died like that, saying that it was a wasteful choice.  He thought the man should have lied for the moment, so that he could escape and then go on living and find opportunity to use his good faith.  He thought “Now the man will never get a chance to use it.”

But the observer was wrong.  It was in that very moment that the martyr had opportunity to use it.  Though it cost him, he used the gift God gave him.

We cannot pass up opportunity to dip into God’s “money bag” for the purposes of God.  We should not think selfishly, as Judas did, and horde the goods for ourselves.  We need to give of our time, money, talents, and whatever else He’s given us.  We need to give these things to His service.  We should not steal for ourselves.  And we should certainly not discourage others from using those things for God’s work, especially not for the purposes of serving self.

What’s that in your hand? 

Whose purse did it come from?

Everyone Will Believe in Him- John 11

After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the Sanhedrin got really worked up.  They knew that things had gone too far.  They said “If we let Him go on like this, everyone will believe in Him”.

While they weren’t inspired when they said this, I can’t help but think that there was some truth in their statement.  If Jesus were to keep on doing His work today, then a lot of people would believe in Him…

So did His body stay in the grave?  No, we know He resurrected.  And we also know that His body remains on this Earth.  That is, the Church remains on Earth.

And His body continues to raise the dead.  His body continues to heal the blind.  But we could do much better.  Obviously not in the physical sense.  But then our call isn’t to fix the temporary.  We are called to the deeper things.

If we were truly living as Christ called us to live, there would be a drastic difference in the world.  There would likely be more persecution of Christians, but more importantly there would be more people freed from the bondage of death.  We do so many good things by His power now, it shouldn’t be hard for us to believe in His power.

Caiaphas told the Sanhedrin in that meeting… “You know nothing at all!  You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”  He didn’t say this because of some craftiness of his own.  He said it because it was a prophesy directly from God.  And I can’t help but think about His body at this point.  While it’s not a prophesy telling us to kill our physical bodies, it was a prophecy about Christ dying for our sins.  And we are His body.

We can’t die for the sins of others.  But in dying to ourselves we can have an impact on this world that continues to shake it as Christ shook it by His death.

For God’s Glory- John 11

It seems to me that many people miss an important fact.  They miss the fact that all things are for God.  Let me explain…

The Bible tells us that all things work together for the good of those who love Him, who are called  according to His purpose.  And it’s completely true.  But the second half of that gets little play time in our conversations, and even when we include it we miss the point.  It’s not all about us.  It’s about His purpose.

Nobody has a real foundation for the argument that God does not love us.  His love for us is easy to see for those who’s eyes are opened (that is, those who simply choose to open them).  And His love is unlike anything else.  It is greater than we can comprehend, and far beyond our own aspirations to love one another.

But God doesn’t exist for our sake, we exist for His.  We are not the end all of it all, He is.  He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  In Him all things exist, and in Him we have our being.

In our passage, John 11, we have the story of Lazarus dying.  And Jesus didn’t say the situation was for Lazarus’ good, although it certainly works out good for Lazarus.  Jesus says in verse 4 “No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s son may be glorified through it.”

What I don’t want is for someone to walk away from this post misunderstanding our place in reality.  People are not just pawns that God throws around without concern.  One would have to completely ignore the cross to see us as such.  We are loved by Him more than we could ever be loved by anyone, including by ourselves.  But in the end it is all about God.  And it should be.  And there could be no higher honor for man, indeed no more complete joy, than to be used to that end.

What a terrible thing it would be if reality was all about anything except Him!

What goodness lays in store for us BECAUSE it’s all about Him!  Look what it did for Lazarus!

Praise God that He is God!!!

Jesus and the Father are One- John 10

Here in the later half of John 10 we see yet another place where Jesus Himself says that He is God.  The Jews were asking Him if He was the Christ.  Not only did He affirm that, but He said that He and the Father are One.

The Jews weren’t planning on stoning Him because He claimed to be the Messiah.  And it wasn’t because He claimed to be some “super-angel” or “the first creation”.  They wanted to stone Him because, as they themselves said, He claimed to be God.

When it comes down to the Word of God, it is such a dangerous thing to try to force your own meaning into the Bible instead of taking the Bible for what the Bible says.  We need to let the Bible make us, and not try to make the Bible.

Some people trust in others for their salvation without even realizing it.  When they stand before God and He asks them why they didn’t believe His words that they read… well, saying that so-and-so told them it meant otherwise isn’t going to fly.  God isn’t anyone’s fool.  Even if you deceive yourself, you won’t deceive Him.

Another thing to note here.  It’s amazing that when Jesus claims deity He isn’t doing it so people will give Him money or lip service or anything like that.  He’s not anything like the tyrannical man who pretends to be God so that people will serve his wickedness.  He’s not trying to justify terrible acts and play a push-around game of “king of the hill”.

Instead He’s revealing Himself to His creation, that they might find true life.  His claim is accompanied by healing a blind man.  It’s accompanied by promises of love and protection.  By the promise of the ultimate self sacrifice.

Jesus is God.  And oh what mercy He showers upon us!!!