Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Question of the Ages

In Judges 6:13, Gideon asks God the question of the ages. "But sir," Gideon replied, "if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?"

If we haven't asked it as some point in our lives, even as Christians, we've most definitely wondered about it. Why does God let bad things happen to his people? And if you've walked this journey of faith for any length of time, you've come to understand God uses all these times in our lives to refine us and those around us. But when the fire gets hot, we doubt, question, and even become angry.

If you read further, Gideon reminds God of his past rescues of the Israelites. Gideon wants to know what happened to that God of all the wonders passed down through the generations. We do that too, don't we? We look back at the past and see where God's hand was evident. Then when we don't see Him working immediately in our present circumstances, we fear God has abaondoned us, just as the Israelites and Gideon believed.

But even then, God doesn't defend himself. He simply tells Gideon to save Israel and says, "Am I not sending you now?" God doesn't go into a list of reasons, recounting all the ways the Israelites rejected Him by turning to false gods. He stays in the here and now, reminding Gideon He was right there—right now.

Gideon may not have gotten the answer he wanted to explain the past, but he got a more important response—God's reassurance that He was with Gideon in the midst of what was about to happen.

We may never understand completely why God allows certain difficulties in our lives, but we can go boldly forward in the reassurance that He is with us, always working for our benefit.

No matter how you got there, God is right there with you. Maybe you just couldn't see him beyond the scope of your situation. But like Gideon, God is asking us to look beyond those circumstances and see Him standing there, where He's always been.

Praying and believing,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What's Your Story?

859675_book___For the last two days I've read the story of Zechariah and his prophecy at the end of Luke 1. As a writer of fiction too, I tend to put myself in these stories and imagine the scene, the character motivations, and what those around them must have thought. Well, my writer brain wound up stuck in this story for two days!

First of all, I got a chuckle out of the people signing at Zechariah to ask what he wanted his son named. The man was mute, not deaf. (Hee hee...) But how real to life is that? It's like someone speaking really loud to a person who doesn't understand English. Like the higher volume will help them suddenly understand the language.

But what really ran deep with me in this story was the time line. For thousands of years, the Jews lived with the Messianic prophecies as something that would happen in the future. They didn't know when. Then Zechariah comes along and puts a definite time frame on something so profound as the Messiah's coming.

I thought of those there for John's circumcision, listening to this priest speak of his son going before the Messiah to prepare the way. Not only did he speak great things about John, but he put a very real and tangible time to when their long awaited "horn of salvation" was coming.

Yet thirty years would pass before Jesus entered his ministry. Did those who witnessed the loosening of Zechariah's tongue and prophecy begin to doubt and wonder as the years passed? As John grew up, did his father's words fall to the wayside for some? Or were they confirmed with each passing day? (And if Elizabeth and Mary were cousins, why didn't Jesus and John meet sooner? The questions are unending!)

My point is, these people had to wait a long time to see if what Zechariah said would really come true. Did they wait expectantly? Or did they begin to doubt?

As I've said before, waiting is a big part of the unequally yoked marriage. As the years pass, it's easy to doubt, to let our prayers lag, and to lose hope. Yet even in this, God gives us examples of people waiting like in Zechariah's story and so many more. These are stories rich in faith and perseverance. Stories of people who didn't give up, even against insurmountable odds.

They are our predecessors and examples of some of the greatest callings recorded. And I can't think of a greater calling than praying without ceasing for the salvation of a loved one.

Even when the odds seem stacked against us, we know our God is a God of Hope and a Keeper of Promises. And with that we can make our own stories of perseverance and faith.

Praying and believing,

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gatekeepers by Robiert Liparulo

Robert Liparulo is one of my favorite authors, so this week I'm giving away a copy of Gatekeepers, book three in the Dreamhouse Kings series. Leave a comment for a chance to win!

Last week's winner of Single Sashimi is Megan DiMaria.

About the Book:
In the third novel of this young adult series, the mystery deepens in a house that is more than meets the eye.

It's hard to believe that things could have gotten worse for the King family-but they have. Dad's in handcuffs, the school bully has just found the secret portal that leads from the high school to the house, and Xander is sure he's found Mom, but they can't get back to her. Then Jesse arrives, and he seems to be a virtual Obi Wan of knowledge about the place. But is he the key they need to unlock the secrets, or just a crazy old man?

Dangers are increasing from within and without when Xander makes a startling discovery that explains why they haven't found any rooms that lead to the future. Alongside the threats, though, they're also starting to find some surprising allies.

All they have to do is get organized, get psyched, and get Mom. But that isn't nearly as easy as it sounds.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

And the Survey Says!

From Glass Road Public Relations...
Do you read Christian novels? Do you buy Christian novels? GRPR is conducting a research study and wants to know more about you! If you would like to participate, go to http://tiny.cc/G4IsN to take an anonymous survey about buying Christian fiction. At the end, you can enter to win a library of TEN Christian novels!

From me...
Tune in tomorrow for another book contest and the winner of Single Sashimi!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

God's Power

859675_book___For God is working you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him. — Philippians 2:13

I have this verse written on a bright green Post-It note stuck on my computer. I pray it at least once a day because I want this dearly, especially in a couple areas of my life in which I struggle. This verse speaks to me of God's ability to bring change in our hearts to accomplish what we can't alone.

It's speaks to me of God's tremendous grace that even in the things we struggle with in stubbornness and disobedience, we can go to him for help. In fact, we have to in order to really accomplish anything. If we could do this stuff on our own power, then Jesus never needed to die.

Sobering thought. And a comforting one. I know how weak I am, and I fail so often. I can choose to beat myself up over it, then try and fail again. OR, I can run to God and pray without ceasing to overcome these areas.

The key here I'm discovering is making the CHOICE. We can wallow in whatever pit, mire, or mud hole we're currently stuck in, or we can choose to embrace God's empowering Holy Spirit and choose to do whatever He leads us to do.

What issue are you grappling with today? Do you need to make a choice? What does relying on God's strength and not our own mean to you?

Have a blessed weekend!
Praying and believing,

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Single Sashimi by Camy Tang

One of my favorite authors (and people!) Camy Tang has written an awesome set of books called the Sushi Series. Sing Sashimi is the third in the series and my favorite one two. They dynamics between her two main characters are fantastic—some of the best dialogue I've read.

Smudge gives this book the most coveted rating of five. And the beauty of it is I have an extra copy in my hands, ready to share! Leave a comment for a chance to win this fabulous story.

About the Book:
Drake Yu. Why would Drake call her after ... what, five years? Six?
Venus heard in his voice that resonance that was almost a growl, that titanium-hard determination to get what he wanted. And he usually got what he wanted. The voice said: "I want you to work for me."

Not this time ... If it was a choice between Drake and McDonald’s—she’d choose french fries. She’d never work for him again. It would take an act of God.

Venus Chau is determined to start her own game development company and launch the next Super Mario-sized phenomenon. However, she needs an investor to back her idea. When Drake Yu, an old nemesis, approaches Venus with a contracting opportunity at his sister’s startup, the offer to become Chief Technology Officer tempts Venus to think the unthinkable.

Venus would rather throw away her PS3 than work for Drake again ... except Grandma bribes Venus to do this favor for Drake’s wealthy family with a coveted introduction to the most respected investor in the game industry. It’s also a short job—only a few months—so Venus won’t have to stand Drake’s presence for very long.

But one wild youth group, a two-faced assistant, and Grandma’s determined match-making threaten to make them both fail—or go insane. With the encouragement of her three cousins, Lex, Trish, and Jennifer, Venus discovers that even a wounded heart can undergo a beautiful transformation...

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Knowing God

1129177_leaf_with_water_dropsFrom now on if you listen obediently to the commandments that I am commanding you today, love God, your God, and serve him with everything you have within you, he'll take charge of sending the rain at the right time .... Deuteronomy 11:13-14 (MSG)

God is all about timing. He knows the big picture, so of course he knows when to send the rain. God made this promise to the Israelites in regards to their crops, telling them if they obey, he would send what they needed to flourish.

And He asks us to do our part by being obedient and to trust him.

That's not always easy though, is it? We're impatient creatures all to used to getting what we want when we want it. Waiting has almost become a bad word in today's culture. Fast food, fast service, speed dating...our society is all about getting whatever we want as fast as we can.

But God calls us to a different path. Waiting is a big part of his plan. Look at Abraham, Moses, and Joseph. These men did a whole lot of waiting and often in unpleasant conditions. If we have to stand in a line more than five minutes, we feel we've been mistreated.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). Even here he calls us to a waiting position, one in which we can truly appreciate his omniscience. Knowing God is believing he will give us what we need. Knowing God is trusting him to work in whatever situation we're struggling with. Knowing God is believing that no matter what He's completely in control.

Knowing God is to also know that we are loved and cared for more deeply than we can even imagine.