As you know, I’m an Old Spice man

Swagger’s my scent of choice.  Here’s some footage of fellow Old Spice Men…

The Lost Genre Guild

As some of you know, Christian speculative fiction is a genre that’s not really a part of the general Christian publishing industry.  Authors writing fantasy, sci-fi, alternate reality, spiritual warfare, and other spec-fic  books with a Christian world view have a hard time convincing big Christian publishers that their books will sell.  Their books are not usually the ones picked up on bookshelves.

But that doesn’t mean there’s not an audience.  There is, in fact, quite a large group of people who love Christian spec-fic.  They just spend their time in other places.  Some authors and readers have banded together to reach this audience.  One such group is the “Lost Genre Guild.”

http://www.lostgenreguild.com is where the group can be found online.  They have something for anyone with an interest in Christian spec-fic..

Readers:

  • A list of quality books to read
  • Reviews to help you find the right book for your current mood
  • People who are working to encourage authors to write what you like

Authors:

  • Reviews to help market your material to the right people
  • Links to other groups that support what you write
  • Publisher links specific to Christian spec-fic
  • Contacts for author helps

Beyond these benefits, this is a chance for both readers and writers to partake in a work that brings glory to God Almighty, the Great Story Maker.  All good things come from Him; and when a book’s author understands that, they are able to tap into something that touches the very soul of man. 

So please visit the site, and be a part of what they are doing.  You’ll find good resources, no matter your part in the telling of good fiction.

————–

For more information on the LGG, and for more on Christian Spec-Fic, please check out the following blogs…

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Grace Bridges
Valerie Comer
Courtney
Frank Creed
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Isbell
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen
Lost Genre Guild
Mike Lynch
Magma
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Mirtika
Hanna Sandvig
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Phyllis Wheeler
Timothy Wise

Only If You Flatter Me! (John 8)

The second half of John 8 is spoken to the Jews who believed in Jesus.  But when you read it, you get the impression that their belief was weak.  It would seem that they didn’t like to believe when Jesus spoke to their sin.

It’s hard, as a Christian who tries to give his all to Christ, to hear of others who claim to have a faith but deny Him if He hurts their pride.  To watch people have such a wishy-washy faith in the One who died for them, who suffered for them, who became a man for them.  It’s unreal how unthankful people can be.

But then I’ m reminded of my own struggles.  Sometimes I’m faced with a situation that  requires I be humbled if I’m to follow Christ.  And sometimes I don’t give up my pride like I should. 

It’s never an intentional thing when I forsake Him.  But that’s just it… I should always intentionally follow Him.  I should have nothing less than a fully intentional, moment-by-moment, living for Him faith.

The Holy Spirit convicts His people when they walk in sin.  When I’ve been convicted and rebuked for my forsaking Him I have two choices… I can swallow my pride and address the situation, or I can go on living in my pride.

My belief will not be limited to one who will flatter me, it is only placed in He who has the words of life!

The Modern Hypocrite (John 7)

There were a lot of tests that people threw at Jesus.  And there were some big plots made against Him.  All of these were said, that is by their perpetrators, to be in an effort to uphold the law of Moses.

But when one takes that statement and stops to consider the reality of who upheld the Law and who didn’t, they run into a problem.  It doesn’t add up that these people would have been so focused on killing Christ and not on killing others.

They had to try with all of their might, for years, to find something they could hold against Jesus.  And they never did find any legit grounds to punish Him.

But all of the other people broke the law of Moses.  There was no debate about that.  Even the leaders broke the Law, though they would have likely debated any particular instances of this.  But they knew the truth of the matter themselves.

So why were they trying to kill the man who they could find no dirt on?  The man they could find no fault in no matter how hard they looked?  And why did they let everyone else off the hook?  All the others who had clearly broken the Law?

John 7:16-19

Jesus answered, “My teaching is not My own. It comes from Him who sent Me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether My teaching comes from God or whether I speak on My own.  He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.  Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill Me?”

And it still happens today.  It is quite obvious that people are wicked.  Some try to argue against this.  But when faced with the truths of human nature, when shown specific cases (which are available in numbers likely beyond what any man could ever count), the supporters of human goodness are left speechless.  They have no answers that stand the test of reality.

Our sinfulness is undeniable.

Yet today’s world is still doing what it did 2,000 years ago.  It is still persecuting Christ, the only one in which it cannot find any fault.  The only man who never partook in sin, and the only man who could die to save us. 

The only man who is capable of bringing us love, goodness and true life.

We as humans need to toss away our lenses of foolish self righteousness, and we need to observe the truth around us… the truth of what’s within us.  We need to stop trying to twist reality into something that fits our limited understanding and the delusions we desire, and start excepting the way things really are.

Man is sinful… selfish… full of death. 

Christ is good… 

Christ is love…

Christ is life…

Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.

Can I get a witness?! (John 5)

I’m still amazed at how much I’m learning by doing these blogs.  I’ve traveled the landscape of His word many times, yet I’ve dashed right past so many wonderful views.  Views that reach into my heart, my mind, my soul; views that cry the Name of the One who loves me, the name of the one on whom I call.   How can one miss so much testimony?

How can one not hear the overpowering voices of the witnesses?

I don’t know how… but I know its possible.  Both my own life and the Scriptures guarantee to me that it’s possible.  From verse 31 on to the end of the chapter, John 5 tells us about witnesses for Jesus.  Not just one witness, and none of them small or insignificant…

Jesus- He testified about Himself (though He states that this is not His only testimony).  If a man does not state the truth about himself, it may be hard for another to understand who the man is.

John- The people were willing to listen to John, and he was a man like them.  Jesus was a man like them too, but His testimony as a man would not be valid by itself.  Jesus uses this lesser (only a man’s) testimony of John to help convince the people.  He uses one of their own, a man and a kin, to reach them.

Jesus’ Works- One can look to the things that Jesus did (which were all given to Him to do) to see the truth of who He is.  And He did these works in a manner that greatly benefited the people. The works declared that the Father sent Jesus.

The Father- Jesus was declared to all by the Father Himself.  People didn’t hear because they didn’t embrace the Father’s Word as they ought to have, but He was declared to them by the Father none the less.  Jesus calls to the authority that they claim to submit to.

Scripture- The Old Testament (and now also the New) testifies about Jesus.  The words told that life is in Christ, and the words were the hope of the people.

All around them the greatest of witnesses poured fourth speech.  The rocks would have cried out too had none of people heard these witnesses. 

The voices are overwhelming.  And each one has it’s own unique way of reaching people. 

Jesus, John, Jesus’ Works, The Father and the Scriptures all cry out who Jesus is.  If we listen, then we can hear the Holy One they cry out about… we hear Him in our humanity, and in our desire for good works in the world.  We hear Him from He whom we ought to submit to, and we hear Him in that which the people of God hope will bring them salvation.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear…

He who has eyes to see, let him see…

 

Pool at Bethesda (John 5)

This is one of those passages that always draws out a lot of questions.  It’s quite the picture, with angels coming to stir the water… and then the first person in being healed from it.

God’s ability to work in this manner is not what one should wonder about when reading this passage.  God can do much more than this.  The question is why would He work in this particular way.  It almost seems out of character.  But then the end of Romans 11 comes to mind…

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
       How unsearchable his judgments,
       and his paths beyond tracing out! 
   “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
       Or who has been his counselor?” 
   “Who has ever given to God,
       that God should repay him?” 
   For from him and through him and to him are all things.
       To him be the glory forever! Amen.

We must be careful when we think that something is outside of God’s will simply because we’ve never heard of it before.  Obviously we must filter things through the Bible, but what we don’t want to do is limit God when He never told us He would not do the type of thing in question.  The leaders did just that in response to this same event, and it drove them to persecute Jesus.  We must be careful.

On the other side of the coin, there are indeed many things the world falsely credits to God.  God hates it… it’s called using His Name in vain.  We do not want to join in with that either.

Instead, let us take the straight and narrow path.  Let us join in on proclaiming what we do know about Him.  And let us continue to treasure up His Word in our hearts, that we may grow in our knowledge of Him.  That we may experience and enjoy one of the greatest things God has placed into all of creation… an ever deepening love between man and the Almighty.

Romans 12:2-3

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

It’s Your Ministry… Your Sustenance (John 4)

As I’ve read through the Scriptures over the years I found myself comparing Bible characters, both good and bad, to other people.  I’d commonly read a passage, and tell myself “This is how I should react when dealing with these kinds of people.” 

But as I grow in my walk with Christ, I’m coming to see myself represented by the characters instead.  I’m realizing more and more truth about my own participation in the fall, my own inabilities, and my own heart.  And I’m coming to realize more and more that God is the one responsible for all the good that I’ve done, not me.  And in turn I have a fuller appreciation for the good He has in fact done through me and in me.  I have a deeper reverence and love for He who is able to work so mightily in fallen man.

Today, for the first time, I saw myself as the woman at the well specifically in the passage from John 4:39-42…

From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Though I wish I could say that my influence for Christ has been as great as this woman’s, I cannot.  But I can see yet another picture of my role in the Kingdom of God.  Jesus spoke to this woman, and she was affectly so deeply that she passionately spoke to her people about Him and what He did in her life.  She spoke in a way that touched the people so much that they came to have a belief in Christ.  Then the people met Christ directly, and they came to a belief in Him because of what He Himself did in their own lives.  All these things happened in a matter of only days.

Her role is the role that all Christians are called to.  If a person has truly given their all to Christ then they have come to recognize, in a limited yet overwhelming sense, that God has deeply affected their own life.  And they have something immense to share.

I mentioned in the post before this one that one of my favorite passages is in the verses just before our text here.  It’s where Jesus says that His food is to do the will of the Father.  The specific case of the Father’s will is seen in the context we are now considering. 

Spreading the gospel was His food.  It is our food.  Though we have other duties in regard to His will that are just as important, we cannot therefore forget this ministry of reconciliation.  It is something that gives our soul necessary nourishment.  We need this.

When we consider how much people need Him, how can we remain silent?

When we honestly consider How great He truly is, how can we not shout it from the mountaintops?

Miracle of Marriage (John 2)

Often when we read of Jesus turning the water to wine we discuss the issues of alcohol.  Unfortunately, too many people ignore the rest of the Bible, or twist it to the point that those defending the truth are set on guard whenever the word wine is read.  To be clear, I believe to get drunk or even buzzed is a sin, and that belief comes from Scripture.  No excuses.  But that is not what this post is about.  For those people who try to force this text into being proof that they can get drunk, into a sacrifice for their religion of self, I hope you someday learn the truth of what Jesus did at the wedding in Cana.

Jesus had recently been “announced” to the world by John the baptist.  Then He gained a few disciples and took them to Cana.  And what is the first event Jesus takes these men to? 

A wedding. 

I don’t know what things were like back then, but I know that nowadays guys don’t usually go and hang out at weddings together.  But even if that was normal back then, I still can’t help but wonder if this is a clue about our walk with Christ.  The New Testament talks a lot about marriage.  We’re even shown how marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship with the Church.  And Jesus chooses a marriage as the first public event to take His disciples to.  At least it’s the first one that God chooses to inform us about.

Can we really go very far in our relationship with Christ without learning the truths of marriage, and how they relate to God?  I don’t know.  But I know that we have an opportunity for a deep relationship with Christ if we can understand how important marriage is to God. 

The Creator of all things has placed much value on relationships.  And through that truth we can see how God has placed much value upon people.  Upon us.  Mankind was a single man until God instituted marriage.  God decided that it was the relationship that would bring about life, both through childbearing and through undivided love for another person.

And this may also be why Jesus decided to do His first miracle at a wedding.  He wanted His disciples to know.  He wanted the servants at the wedding to know.  He wants all of us to know.  Marriage is a beginning of life.  God stepped into the world in a miraculous fashion to honor a wedding.  And Jesus wasn’t going to start His ministry of discipling without a marriage.  Marriage reveals much about the heart of God.

Jesus’ mother Mary was also at the wedding.  This opened up a great opportunity for Jesus’ new disciples.  From the beginning of their time with Christ, they were given an intimate glimpse into His humanity, seeing Him interact with the woman who birthed Him into this world.  The woman who helped nuture Him, and raise Him up as a little boy.  The woman who treasured up in her mother’s heart the deep truths about her Son, the Christ.  Christ introduced His disciples to His mother at a wedding.

The disciples in Cana that day experienced all at once the humanity of Christ, the divine glory of Christ, and the heart of Christ.  And they put their faith in Him.

It happened at a wedding.