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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

I’m blessed to have a great relationship with my mom.  We often to go lunch or dinner just to talk about the Lord and what He’s doing, both in our individual lives and in the world around us.  Sometimes we talk about different ministries and what they believe or how they are doing.  I’ve had a problem in the past, where if I don’t agree with something that a ministry is doing or if someone seems a little… off, I’ll discredit the entire ministry.  My mom would then tell me not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  I didn’t understand it for a long time until the Lord started using that same phrase to teach me about discernment.

See, I think that the Church shares my problem.  We’ll either completely buy into whatever is thrown at us, or we refuse to believe in anything that doesn’t come verbatim from the Word of God.  Now, while it’s correct that we need to reject anything that is in direct conflict with the Bible, I don’t believe that the Bible is the only source of God’s Word.  The Sovereign Lord is constantly speaking, to everyone on the planet.  Different people are then taking what they hear and ministering those words to others in every format under the sun.  Prophets are even on Twitter nowadays (my favorite is .

I know people on both sides of the spectrum.  I’ve spoken to people who think I’m insane and flighty for buying into ministries headed by people like Jason Westerfield, James Goll, and Joann McFatter.  I’ve also been to conferences with people who latch onto every new ministry that comes out and take every word they say as Gospel.

Both views are wrong.  Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. Slap a big ol’ F on their report cards because they are wrong.

Refusing to even listen to something because it’s new isn’t good because then you miss out on what God is doing.  But then, believing every word from a self-proclaimed prophet that finds its way over Twitter is just as bad.  So how can you find the middle ground?  Oh wait, don’t we have an all-knowing, all-seeing God?

Remember when I said that God speaks to everyone, all the time?  I truly believe that.  And if He’s talking all the time, then He’s talking while you are reading a book, or watching TV, or listening to a preacher.  Doesn’t it make sense that He’d talk to you about whether or not what you’re reading or hearing is straight from His mouth?

See, even with the best of intentions, no one is 100% correct 100% of the time.  Therefore, even if you completely trust in a ministry with all of your heart, they are going to get something wrong every once in a while.  They’re human; it’s allowed.  If you aren’t subjecting everything that comes out of their mouth to a strong God-filter, then you could listen to something that’s completely wrong and wind up in a really bad place with beliefs that don’t line up with the word of God.

One of my favorite examples of this is The Shack by William Young.  I truly believe that this book is inspired by God (yeah, it does happen nowadays, which you hopefully know if you’re a writer!).  But Young does mess up. For example, he has the Jesus character having a conversation with the main character at one point.  “Jesus” says: “Papa is as much submitted to me as I am to him, or Sarayu to me, or Papa to her. Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect. In fact, we are submitted to you in the same way.”

Red flag!  This is wrong.  God is not submissive to humans; that puts humans on a greater plane than the Creator.  Ehhhhhh (that was a buzzer sound, in case you couldn’t tell.)

But just because Young was off on that one point (OK, several points throughout the book) doesn’t mean that we should just throw out the entire novel.  He offers a lot of good insight.  Instead, what we, the readers, need to do is ask God to throw out anything that’s wrong.  Anything that doesn’t line up with the Word of God needs to be thrown out, discarded, rejected.  What we’re left with is the stuff that God wants us to know, and even that needs to go through the wringer to make sure it’s completely, 100% in line.

So how do we do this?  We do this by asking. You know that whole, ask and you shall receive thing?  It actually works.  God will start speaking to you throughout your day, helping you to understand and filter out everything you hear or see.  He’ll do this when you’re talking to your parents, hearing your pastor speak, reading a book, listening to a podcast, reading your tweets.  Pretty soon it’ll become second nature to subject everything to your God-filter.  Plus, you get to learn to hear God always, which is always a plus.

Wait, I didn’t sound excited enough on that.

WE GET TO HEAR GOD SPEAK, ALL THE TIME!!!!

Go figure: the One Who Created All actually wants to help you juggle this stuff.  Who knew?

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“And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD.”

Leviticus 27:30

What is tithe?

The Bible defines a tithe as a tenth of the  crops.  OK… so you get that.  If you walk into a church, at some point they’re going to say something about giving a tenth of your income to God.  This has been around since Leviticus times and it’s nothing new.  Most Christians will write a check once a month or every other week or whenever they get their paycheck and stick it in the bucket as it comes around.  Then they’re done until their next paycheck, right?

Uh… not exactly.

At least not the way I understand it.  The way I understand it, the most common type of tithe is of your income.  But it’s not the only thing you can tithe.  The Biblical Israelites would give a tenth of whatever they were given back to God.  It didn’t matter if it was crops, wine, livestock, etc… anything the Lord doled out was given back in a small measure.  They did this, not only in worship and obedience, but in order to remember God and the blessings He gave them.

And there’s the kicker: God gave first.

Well, duh.  I can picture y’all’s eyes rolling right now.  But, hey, wait, don’t close the window!  I’ve got a point.

Just like our income, whatever talents we have are gifts from God.  Yeah, I’m talking about writing here.  And whatever God gives us, we need to give back in a tithe, back to the One who gave it to us.  But you know what’s really cool?  This is one of my favorite things about God (uh… ok, favorite being a relative term since He’s too amazing):

Malachi 3:10 states that when you give a tithe (10%) to the Lord, He opens the windows of heaven for you and pours down blessings beyond anything you can imagine.  The parable of the three servants tells us that when we are faithful with the small amount of blessing God has given us, He trusts us with much more (Matthew 25:14-30).  Part of being faithful is giving the blessing back to God.

These are Kingdom principles. They are unchanging, unquestionable laws in that upside-down backwards Kingdom that works so much better than ours.  When we give our writing back to the Holy One to do whatever He will, not only does He make us better writers, but He also reveals more of His plan and His purpose both for us personally but also for others, to be revealed through your writing.

And just think: if He does all that for a tenth of your writing gift, imagine what He’d do if you handed it all over?  So try it.  He’s a better Writer, anyway.

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Ever since I decided to follow God and have felt like He’s leading me to pursue a career in publishing, I have been drawn to fiction.  But then, I couldn’t reconcile my love for fiction with my love for God and His ministry.  The two seemed mutually exclusive except for a few extreme cases.  After all, if you wanted to learn about God or how He speaks or who He is, most people pick up something non-fiction.  I once had a conversation with a friend who summed it up pretty well: he said that if he wanted to read something that entertains, he would reach for a novel but he counts it as a waste of time.  His time is better served reading something that edifies his spirit, teaches him, serves a purpose.  I.e: non-fiction (specifically C.S. Lewis, whom we were talking about then.)

Now, I have nothing against non-fiction.  I’ve been known to read Bill Johnson or Mahesh and Bonnie Chavda, Patricia King or James Goll.  These authors are all incredibly anointed and should be read.  And, he’s right, most fiction is meant strictly to entertain.  My bookshelves are full of novels that are absolutely meant to entertain.  But then, there are those exceptions.  Those books that teach you how to hear God, or something new about Who He is, or something about what He’s doing right now. For example, some books that have spoken to me personally:

  • This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti
  • Blessed Child by Ted Dekker
  • The Shack by William Young

But here’s the deal: each of these novels taught me something new. Frank Peretti opened my eyes to spiritual warfare.  Ted Dekker taught me just how accessible the Kingdom is.  And The Shack… well, The Shack might as well be non-fiction for all the information it is pregnant with.  It’s not perfect, but when read with discernment I believe it can serve a very profound purpose.

Each of these novels helped me to understand something new about how to walk the Walk and talk the Talk.  They also taught me something new about how God works and Who He is.  The one thing I love most about them is that they’re not preachy.

Newsflash: No one wants to read something if they’re being preached at!  Save that for Sunday morning.

Instead, in fiction, the message needs to be subtle.  Story first; message second.  If your story is well-written — if it is driven by characters that seem real and not forced — then it will stay with your reader.  They’ll find themselves pondering the message even if they don’t realize it.  The lesson that God has given you to convey through fiction will sneak in like a thief in the night; it’ll grab hold of the reader and never let them go.

Jesus was the master of this technique.  All of his parables were character-driven and promoted deep, intelligent thought at the same time.  They were easily memorized yet, for the discerning reader, they will never grow stale.  There will always be a need for this kind of steal-in-the-dark fiction because it will reach an audience that would never in a million years pick up a non-fiction work.  The only question is: are you willing to hand your pen over to the Master?

Food for thought.

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So today is Christmas Eve (Happy Almost-Birthday Jesus!) but I’m not going to take a break from my writing.  Or researching, or outlining, or whatever it is I’m doing right now.  I don’t think you could technically call it writing.  After all the grocery shopping and finishing up wrapping presents is said and done, I’m going to sit down and give one hour to my book.  That’s it.  But it is progress!  Considering I haven’t really done anything with it in about a month and a half.  Boo.

But today I shall research.  I need to find out more on Biblical Jewish customs, so I’ll probably spend most of that time in Leviticus and such.  Or on here.  Not sure yet.

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