If We Could Only See…


I haven’t seen much of the spiritual realm.  Not comparatively.  I have occasionally seen demons and paranormal activity; I dabbled in the occult and experienced a great deal of power, then I was “delivered” (we could say exorcised), and experienced the even greater power of the Lord, multiple miracles, et cetera, et cetera.  But I do not see most things most of the time–not in that realm.

But this is the point:

Most people do not see the spiritual realm, but it nonetheless exists.  And if Christians DID see it… well, I think they would live quite differently (in fact, I think everyone would).

We wouldn’t, after all, allow poisonous snakes and deadly spiders to infiltrate our homes.  Not if we could see them.  Not if we were sober.  We would get shovels and bug spray and hire an exterminator–anything to get rid of the problem.  And yet, many of us DO have such in our homes, and sometimes in our bodies.  We live in a way that is detestable to the Lord.  We do things and watch things and listen to things and think about things that we don’t even realize are destroying us; we don’t realize our actions are attracting the enemy and beginning a cycle of temptation, lust, sin and death (James 1).  Worse is feeling oppression and conviction and making excuses to deal with it later.

If only we could see what we were up against.  If only we understood what weapons we as Christians have against the powers of darkness.

For the follower of Jesus there really are no excuses.  It’s a question of who and what we Love.


Before the Storm Comes


Storm DamageThis past weekend we had our first real storm of the season, and we weren’t prepared for it.  Our rain gutter, as the picture shows, did not quite make it through the first of the wind and rain.  It looked like it was also going to pop right on through that bedroom window, and so we were out in the rain trying to remedy it.

The lesson is that some things need to be dealt with before the storms come, or it becomes too late.

Noah was able to rescue his family from the wrath of God because he began building the ark right away.  Rahab put the red cloth outside her window immediately, even though she would have seen the attack from her window as the Israelites approached for battle. Esther called an urgent fast that the upcoming destruction of her people would be turned around by the Lord–and of course it was.

Likewise, there are things we were created to do.  And there are storms that are prophesied to come.  As a follower of Christ I know that I am not called to live in the world, but to live in the kingdom of God within the world.  And there are certain good works which Christ prepared beforehand for me to do–and for you too, whether you know about it yet or not (Eph 2:10).  We can’t function in our purpose for God until we submit to God, love God, and hear God.  Our greatest asset is time, and yet there is not enough time to waste.  Storms are coming, so we should prioritize so that they don’t catch us by surprise.


Review of the Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers


Genre: Christian Historical Fiction


The three part Mark of the Lion series (A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, and As Sure As the Dawn) follow the stories of a Messianic Jewish slave girl, an aristocratic Roman family, and a German tribesman taken into slavery as a gladiator.  The setting is decadent Rome in the era of the destruction of the temple and the persecution of Jews and Christians, so THERE IS SOME GRAPHIC SEXUALITY, VIOLENCE AND PAGANISM.  I found this hard to read at first and stopped reading for nearly a year before giving it another go.  The second time I couldn’t put it down.  The pagan worship, violence and sexuality of the book, I believe, does help the story, and is written in such a way that the readers have a healthy indignation for the sin being displayed. That said, it’s not a book for everyone.

But overall, I loved the books–especially the first one.  The first two stories, especially, impacted the way I think about serving other people and the Lord, brought depth to my understanding of radical Christianity, and even gave me insight into eschatological scriptures by revealing portions of the past.

The Christian message was a bit cliché in some parts, but encouraging nonetheless.  And I was also a bit bothered by the way Rivers portrayed some of the biblical characters who were woven into the story.  It would have been better just to leave them out or to rename them, but that’s the artistic risk of giving fictitious portrayals of real-life people, and I respect her for trying.


Review of The Twelfth Imam by Joel C. Rosenberg


Genre: Apocalyptic Fiction

Series: Book One of the Twelfth Imam Series

Recommended: A riveting story of high stakes and affronted faiths.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Twelfth Imam, the story of an Iranian born CIA agent working to find and disrupt the secret Iranian nuclear weapons program in the midst of catastrophic global events, personal tragedies, and the questioning of his personal faith as a non-practicing Shia Muslim.

Although it is very much a work of fiction, the style of the writing and the sincerity of the characters make the story appear as a glimpse into an apocalyptic reality.  I especially appreciated the depth of the character’s faiths (it’s not often that a Christian writer would show those of other faiths to have so genuine a passion for their beliefs) and the appearance of the supernatural realm alongside the physical.

Being a Christian work, I found it interesting that the book does not have any “Christian” characters–that is, some characters come to know Jesus Christ as Lord, and faith is at the forefront, but there were no evangelical Christians going around making converts, and I found this somehow refreshing (and more believable).

From a theological perspective, I found this scenario much less dramatic than the prophetic illustration of the last days–not that the stakes weren’t high, or that the plot wasn’t exhilarating, but that it only portrayed a small piece of the prophetic story and even then, only as one possible outcome (of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, so long as readers read fiction as fiction and the Bible as the authority on biblical mysteries).

My only complaint is that the ending was surprisingly abrupt–I considered that perhaps part of it was missing before discovering that this book is the first in Rosenberg’s newest series.  Even so, the book ending felt incomplete (not mysteriously, romantically or suspensefully incomplete, but like the story was chopped off mid-sentence); and since it was so enjoyable to read, this was especially disappointing.

I received a complimentary Advance Reader Copy of this book as a part of the Tyndale Blog Network.

Review of Corinthian Elders by Jack Fortenberry


Recommended: A call to reinstate the biblical structure by putting Jesus as the head of His church.

Corinthian Elders focuses on the role of elders in the church, especially in the context of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians.  There’s a lot in this book because as we talk about changing the church structurally, many more issues arise, including the topics of money, leadership and authority, and accountability. Fortenberry does not neglect to mention these important questions, all the while calling the body of Christ to focus on the larger picture: focusing less on individual leaders and instead being taught by the Lord Himself that we may experience a more dynamic church as each member of the body becomes active.

It’s is a short book, but not one to read quickly.  I took my time with it so that I could place each scripture reference in context of entire books.  And though I didn’t agree with every detail and found some arguments weak, I gained a lot from this book.  I was also pleased that some of what the Holy Spirit has revealed to my husband and I personally, was also revealed and expressed by the author.  It is challenging, thought-provoking, and most importantly, stirred in me a hunger to read my Bible and seek out wisdom–any book that can do that is worth the read!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author, Jack Fortenberry.