Thursday, November 28, 2019

National Narcissism

This post concludes my series, “Another Civil War in America?” I’ve gotten a few nasty remarks on the previous posts. Thank God, we are still a nation where opinions can be shared openly. This series leaves many issues unaddressed. I offer no solutions for a nation that is, perhaps, on the brink of anarchy. I have nothing to offer but hope in Christ, which is everything. To read previous posts, click on the titles:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Part V:

The phrase seems counterintuitive--national narcissism. A nation of individuals bonded together by a common goal, united by a government of their own design, should not abandon community for self-identity. But that’s what has happened. Not yesterday, or last year, or last election. The shift began decades ago. In many ways, the beginning of the turn pointed Americans in the right direction. We were a divisive people, separated by ideals, social standing, race, and privilege. We were, at some point, headed toward rectification. But the passage was forged in egocentricity, and so it was destined to fail.

Woven into the nation there was the precedent call of Christ for His people to love one another, and to love their neighbors. Not with political strings attached. Not with an agenda lurking behind the love. Some Christians did as they were taught. Others abandoned love for the sake of self-righteousness. As well, the nation at large, individually and in organization, chose acceptance or disapproval. Tolerance or bigotry. The churched and the unchurched were not so different in this respect. 

As Americans, we hold to our political sway, or religion, or convictions, and it is our right to do so. But some, with little care for community, are ready to strip away the rights of all with whom they disagree. Behind this contagion of narcissistic behavior is the pull to rebuild America into something that it is not, that it has never been. As a result, we are being ripped apart. We have been carried into discord, and national upheaval is looming.

In this season of Thanksgiving, I consider the simplicity of that first day of celebration. It followed great turmoil, and suffering, and death. It brought together people of different cultures—natives and immigrants. Those brave settlers, and the generous inhabitants of the land, didn’t celebrate the day with ten different kinds of pie. They didn’t argue over how to prepare the turkey. They simply came together in peace.

Of course, things changed. Peace didn’t last. It never does. Except for the everlasting peace of knowing the Prince of Peace. As America changes, again, I choose to live at peace, taking into consideration the good of the nation as a whole. Remembering that I am foremost a citizen of another nation, a holy nation. I will in no self-righteous way demand my rights, but I will stand against oppression. And I will remain thankful for this great nation where God has chosen to leave me for a little while.

Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.  Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. I Peter 2:13-17

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Part IV: Theophobia: America Has Turned on Religion

This is part IV of my series. To read previous posts, click on these titles:

Introduction: Another Civil War in America? 

Part I: Racism: The Church, the Media, and the New Definition of Racist 

Part II: Abortion: A Once Private Decision That Became a Celebrated National Demand

Part III: Potusphobia: Fear, Hate, and the President  

A few recent articles. Click on the titles read:

Does the Democratic Party have a God problem?

America’s Changing Religious Identity

How Religious Fear is Shaping the Culture War

Hail Satan?:How a documentary is turning people into Satanists  

Decline of Christianity in America continuing at rapid pace, poll finds

Definition of theophobia: a morbid fear or hatred of God, or an irrational fear of religion.

In my last post, I used a new word, potusphobia, to describe how some citizens feel about the current president. This week's subject, theophobia, is nothing new. This particular fear is recognized, classified, and experienced by a large portion of the U.S. population. Fear of God is not so much an issue—not anymore. Few are left who fear His wrath, His judgment. Perhaps I’ve brought to your mind a cowering fear, a lightning bolt from Heaven anxiety. For those who’ve experienced God, and have been transformed by the gospel, fear of God is not like that. As one redeemed by the blood of Christ, I don’t fear His wrath. But I do fear His discipline. In other words, I have a healthy respect for His awesome power, knowing that He loves me enough to set me straight. But if you don’t believe that He is, then you can’t believe that He will. If you’ve worked Him out of your worldview then you don’t fear Him.

Hatred is another issue. The unbelieving soul hates the God it denies. On some level, this is true of all who are lost in unbelief. It’s in our nature to oppose God. In our post-Christian culture, the idea that some people still consider faith a viable life choice increases the hate and extends it. Hatred is growing against believers, laws supporting the believer’s right to believe, and public displays of belief.

This applies to the Christian Church, but also to other religions. Some believe Islam deserves our government’s protection and support, while others fear the Muslim people, considering them all terrorists. As well, anti-Semitism is on the rise in America and around the world. As fear of religion increases, so do rogue, dangerous religious activities. Satanism and witchcraft are both increasing in popularity.

As evil becomes mainstream, the true Church is blasted as an organization no longer representing America's heritage. No longer do we reflect on our history of Christianity as positive. Christians resist progress. Christians don’t care about the environment. Christians don’t like anyone who’s different. They don’t support the rights of others. It’s the Christians who are the haters. And all the rest are filled with love. 

It’s not that I don’t see how some people, like cattle drawn into a stampede, fall in line with this mindset, with a culture shift leaving Christianity on the barren ground to be trampled upon. I’m not crying about my rights. There is no “woe is me” and I’m not opposed to viewing the Church from the eyes of an outsider. I understand why some people have built a wall against Christianity.

But I won’t ever trade my freedom for the chains of their supposed enlightenment. Christians do value God’s creation. We delight in diversity. As American Christians, we ought to uphold the rights of every religious group. If they lose theirs, we lose ours. Christians, if they truly follow Christ, love others. Those who can’t stand our presence—and I don’t mean this in a hateful way—are filled not with love, but with lies.

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Isaiah 5: 20-21
Even so, if we’re following Christ in truth, we will keep on loving others, including the ones who hate us. The stampede drags in some who don’t know better. They don’t know they’re about to run off a cliff. They don’t even know why they’re running. It’s hatred for God and fear of His Kingdom that goads them. And there is no hope for them apart from the redeeming love of Christ. If I were one of them, I’d be theophobic too.

Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. John 3: 18-19

Is it possible that theophobia will lead to civil unrest? In many ways, it already has. But all-out war? If it happens, I will stand with my brothers and sisters in Christ even to the point of detainment, even unto death. If I remain alive and free, I pray I might offer refuge to Christians, Muslims, Jews, and anyone else imperiled by a war against religion. That's what Jesus would do. Only the Light can dispel the darkness.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Potusphobia: Fear, Hate, and the President

This is part III in my series. To read previous posts, click on these titles:  

A few recent headlines:

 Trump Shares Pastor’s Warning of ‘Civil War-Like Fracture’ If Impeached

 A Failed Schiff/CIA Led Coup Against Trump Will Bring Hillary Into the Presidential Race 

Thousands of Occultists Plan Halloween ‘Spell’ Ritual to‘Stop Trump’
    (Interesting that "the vote" took place on Halloween.)

 'Trump' bound, abused appears in Dhvani's Times Square ad buy: 'We're not afraid'


I won’t get into the weirdness of these articles. The headlines are enough but click on the titles above if you want to read more. I'm not sure if potusphobia is an actual word, but it’s time to add it to the next edition of Webster’s dictionary. Americans are afraid of the president. It’s not that citizens are cowering in corners, fearing annihilation by a dictatorial leader. It’s not an attitude of respect, which is a shame because we should respect the president. This indignation is born out of a fear of loss. But what are we losing?


Some say we’re losing the ground we gained under the former administration. We’re going backward. We were close to securing what we perceived as equality for all, close to gaining control over the bad element in our society, close to unfailing protection, close to proper adjustments in how our money is spent, close to giving up the false notion that we live in the greatest nation ever existing. We were close to achieving a new way of life, a new American dream. And close to discarding the old dream.


And then, by some fluke, Donald Trump got elected. And every accomplishment of the twenty-first century was lost. Issues that had been purportedly filed away with all the reasons America was truly never great were brought back into practice. Bigots were back. (They never left.) Closed borders were back. (The laws regarding our borders have not changed. The expansion of Obama’s executive action, DACA, has been held up by the legal challenge of twenty-six states, not by the actions of one man.) Abortion was threatened. (The laws concerning abortion have become overall more lenient.) The LGBT community was put on notice. (Some may fear the undoing of Obama-era progress here, but others in the community recognize the grueling presidential task of balancing the rights of every group, including those who uphold the religious liberties upon which this nation was founded.)


Americans are not losing their rights, at least not by the pen or power of Donald Trump. Nevertheless, fear of a supposed new equality for all being snatched away has sent many people into panic mode. A student interviewed outside a recent event at her university balked that her school would allow Donald Trump Jr. to speak on campus since he was the son of a racist, homophobic, xenophobic president. And she was not alone. Protesters shouted through the entire presentation. Not in a “let’s debate the issues” manner, but in an “I hate you and everything you stand for” response. As I recommended a few months back on this blog, college students and young Americans need to read The Right Side of History by Ben Shapiro. While Shapiro is no fan of Donald Trump, he is a voice of reason in a time of widespread unreasonableness.


While a portion of the American public may fear, or resist, or want to rid themselves of the current president by any means possible, there is another expansive group of supporters who believe the man is doing okay. He might be brash, unpresidential. Maybe he shouldn’t tweet so much. But he’s the president, and some people respect him. Some people wouldn’t mind another term. Those same people, however, might fear the next president if the election goes the other way. One fragment of the nation might find relief in 2020. Another might become the loud, defiant voice of resistance.


If the whole impeachment thing strategically places a Democratic icon in the running, and if that person loses, civil unrest could reach the point of no restraint. If Trump loses, the other camp might suffer in silence. Or not. Time will tell.


No matter the outcome of the 2020 election, don’t label me as potusphobic. Whether things go my way or not, I will likely tarry a little longer in prayer for our president and our country because peace now seems short-lived. But potusphobia will not be in my dictionary. That’s okay, I don’t live by the dictionary.


I will acknowledge:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Romans 13:1


I will pray:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. I Timothy 2:1-2


I will try, but I might need to be reminded:

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.  Titus 3:1-2

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Abortion: A Once Private Decision that Became a Celebrated National Demand

This is Part II in my blog series. Click on these titles to read previous posts:

In my last post, I wrote about racial division being used to engineer a civil war. I noted that racism today encompasses not only race, but social and political views. Perhaps the topic generating the loudest pseudo-racist response is abortion. To stand against it drops the opposer into the bigotry camp. A pro-life supporter disparages women’s rights and wants to interfere with their health care. The law is on the side of the abortionist. The women demanding their rights long ago achieved those goals. And yet, the protests continue as the law creeps forward, stretching the proverbial inch into a mile.

In response to the late-term leniency approved by some states, other states have pushed back, outlawing abortion past a certain point. And pro-lifers have celebrated that in some places ending the life of the unborn can only happen up to a point. A decade ago, I can’t imagine the pro-life team applauding any law upholding the right to any abortion. But something more brutal was introduced, and the thought of killing a full-term baby overshadowed the reality that some 2,500 early-term abortions are performed in the U.S.A. every day. 

On the pro-choice side, as well, the outlook has changed. Abortion was once a private matter, an unspoken event. Now, for some, it’s an accomplishment to be touted like a badge on a girl scout’s sash. Women march in protest, fearing the reversal of what is now neatly woven into the fabric of our law. Christians and others who stand for the rights of the unborn may attempt to bring change, but at this point in history, it’s not likely that the law will give.

So, is there any solution? Crippling the abortion industry can only come with a change in culture. This is where the battle must be fought. There are some ways the church can help curb the number of abortions. First, come alongside young women who may be turned away from abortion as an option. This, of course, is being done effectively by many organizations, but perhaps greater effort is needed from the Christian community as a whole in seeding pro-life groups with prayer, finances, and enthusiasm. Second, some people’s behavior is not going to change, but education, along with correct and consistent use of birth control, will go a long way in cutting profits for the abortion industry. So, maybe we shouldn’t have a problem with that type of education.

Third, an honest assessment of how the message is presented may be needed. Not all, but most pro-life ads on social media and on billboards portray happy, well-tended, predominately white babies. I’m not calling abortion a racial issue, but as with the underlying causes of racism, the political agenda may be more about population control than we realize. A pro-choice politician recently made the racially charged statement that the unborn headed for a life of poverty and crime can die now or die later. With that mindset working against us, the church’s appeal to choose life shouldn’t contain even a hint of racial or economic bias.

As with any outcry of civil unrest, public opinion plays a major role in pumping up the opposing sides. What a good American should think about reproductive rights has been settled by the media and Hollywood.1 Anyone not buying into their program is an enemy of the state. Some religious organizations have side-stepped over to the other team. A recent article2 reported the unified stance of a group of Kentucky church leaders in support of abortion.

Opposers leaving the fight might lessen the severity of the war, but a large number of Christians and others who call a baby a baby still exists. So too exists a battlefield of women (and men), politicians, news anchors, celebrities, and abortion industry moguls who consider a baby a disposable non-person. The battlefront has quieted a bit with the introduction of a few state laws meant to soften the shock of the late-term abortion. And it’s been a while since the last women’s march brought tens of thousands of protesters employing lewd props and hateful speech in demand of the rights they’ve already secured. But there is no resolution, nor can there be, so long as our national perception of personhood remains vehemently unfocused.

1 Planned Parenthood Admits It Controls Hollywood, Gets TV Shows and Movies to Promote Abortion 

2 Baptist,Presbyterian Pastors Claim Christians Can Support Killing Babies in Abortions

For a great organization helping women and babies around the world, 

In two weeks:
Part III: Potusphobia: Fear, Hate, and the President

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Racism: The Church, the Media, and the New Definition of Racist

Last time at Unchained, I introduced a blog series entitled, “Another Civil War in America?” Here is part one. It may be the longest of these posts, and the subject may bleed into subsequent posts. That’s because racism, in its post-modern description, filters into every other subject I’ll address in this series.


I grew up in the South. Well, in Central Florida, which is where I still abide. In my growing-up years, our little corner of the U.S.A. became a melting pot of culture and ethnicity. People from other states and from other countries settled here. This is definitely not the Deep South, but at one time it abounded with Southern ideology. That brought with it a line of thinking rooted in segregation. 

Blending cultures was probably as difficult here as it was anywhere in the South. I never quite latched onto the idea that it was my privilege as a white person to think less of a person of color, or to avoid such a person, or to consider that person a lesser creation of the God I was taught created us all. Fortunately, I didn’t get it.

I was well into adulthood when I saw the change I had longed for since childhood. The church, at least in my experience, became multi-ethnic and multi-cultural. And we, at least in my congregation, like it that way. We are united in Christ. This was an outcome of societal change, which as it turns out, isn’t all bad. Of course, it was more so the direction of God and good leaders in the church who brought about the blessing. This is where I find a little bit of Heaven on Earth. The melding of race and culture within the church exudes grace. I don’t mean to preach to the choir here, so to speak, but if your experience in church doesn’t lead you to this conclusion, consider encouraging a change. Racism is not Christian. It never was. It was social pressure that marred decades of our history with wrong thinking, and some of it came out of the church, from ordinary people who got a hooked on an bad idea.

But who started it? A pattern of bigotry has always existed. In our country, perhaps that pattern was woven into our fabric, but blame can’t be assigned to any one group. Historically, the role of Christians in ending slavery has been allowed to devolve into the notion that it was the church goers who fought to maintain their way of life in the South. Of course, some people, fearing change, held on. But anyone understanding the Word of God had to adjust their mindset in support of freedom for all. 

In the generations that followed, public valuation, fear, and more than a little political rhetoric clouded the judgment of some. But poor judgment gave way to better ideas, proper laws, and cultural change.

I know, I’m a white woman living a dream within the safe walls of my church, where we all get along. Your world might be very different, and certainly the walls of the church no longer offer safe haven. I’m aware of the dangers we all face in any public arena. Americans have been set against each other. A war mentality is already taking root. But how did it happen? And why? 

To a degree, slanted reporting and political contention must be blamed. Joe Biden blasted the president for his racist views, accusing him of encouraging white supremacy and therefore being at least partially responsible for the mass shooting in El Paso. During his speech, Biden insinuated that poor kids can be just as smart as white kids. What? Does he believe white kids are not poor, and poor kids are not white? Doesn’t that make him a racist? Of course, the situation was tense, and the presidential candidate might have misspoken. Maybe he just inadvertently said something stupid. But the blunder won’t be forgotten. Not by me, and probably not by the people affected by the tragedy.

 While denying citizenship to foreigners is not acceptable, or Biblical for that matter, keeping the process under control is paramount. Immigration has been an issue for a while, as previous presidents have noted and met with potential solutions. Solutions not unlike the ones supported by our current president. Donald Trump didn’t start this. And he won’t end it, hard as he may try. For now, maintaining the sovereignty and security of this nation is President Trump’s duty. That doesn’t make him a white supremacist, as some have proclaimed. Such unfounded accusations sprout racism anew where it’s long been rooted out.

Studies don’t give a clear answer as to how many white supremacists live in America, but they’re probably not as numerous as some would have us believe. The level of intelligence, and the needed finance, wouldn’t likely come from within their ranks to win a war, or even start one. It’s the media stirring that cauldron. If a few organized racists find themselves at war, the brains and money will have come from the outside. But who are these undercover anti-racist/racist benefactors?

Theories abound as to why anyone would want to start a race war: The government wants a good excuse to instill martial law. An elite group—the one that really runs the world— is bent on population control. Some of our elected officials want a good reason to…I don’t know what they want…but socialism, in their view, might be just what America needs.

What is racism, or, what did it used to be? Here’s the definition: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.

Today, the boundaries of racism have extended to include not only race, but life choices, sexual and gender identity, patriotism, political affiliation, environmentalism, immigration, and religious ideals. Everybody’s got a self-righteous reason to start a riot. But this kind of social upheaval is nothing new, and it can only get worse.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 2Timothy 3:1

Now, somebody will call me a bigot for quoting the Bible. Somebody will assume I’m maligning a particular group, categorizing acceptable people who’ve done nothing wrong. Go ahead and make your judgment about that. It’s not my desire to do so. As for having nothing to do with such people, first of all, keep in mind that “the last days” began with Jesus, and that the letter writer, Paul, was addressing Timothy, a young preacher of the gospel stationed in a pagan culture not so different from our world today. Did Paul mean keep your distance, or did he mean you live holy? Living holy is the greater challenge, but that’s my choice. I won’t demonstrate hate, but I will follow Christ. And so, I’ll have nothing to do with what some people do.

That’s not racist. In fact, it has nothing to do with race. It’s not refusal to dwell in community with anyone who’s different. It’s not swinging to the Left or to the Right. It’s just me trying to live holy. I realize that if a race war is waged, I may be categorized as a probable war starter—white, Southern, Christian. But don’t buy it. True believers can do nothing but stand against the evil lies of racism.

Next time: Abortion: A Once Private Decision that Became a Celebrated National Demand

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Another Civil War in America?

I’ve never given serious consideration to the possibility until now. There could never be a war like it. Never another crisis as overwhelming as the one that led to the Civil War. Never again could there be such a blight on our good land. A war raged because right and wrong became less important than building a nation. Commerce was never meant to be more valuable than liberty. Law was never meant to be an instrument of oppression. Correcting the balance put us at war, even war with ourselves. Now, we tear down statues that remind us of that desperate time. We want to forget. But forgetting doesn’t change history. It only makes us vulnerable to repeat it. Could we be so blind as to let civil unrest break us again?

Recent assessment indicates we may be headed for such discord, even bloodshed, within our own borders. Over the next few months, I’d like to address five problematic war-starters brewing in the minds of our citizens, stirring our communities, and being presented by the media as unavoidable conduits of change in our country. Some may see that change as good, as necessary for our survival as a nation. Others view the same change as the very thing that will destroy America. As Christians, we must not adopt the mindset that has overtaken our society. The boundaries of right and wrong are not as subjective as we’d sometimes prefer. The standard of truth doesn’t waver based on opinion. Truth is true because it’s always been true. It’s a lie to believe we can conjure up our own truth, and the end of the lie is destruction.

I pray widespread malevolence doesn’t lead to war, to a social divide posing no option but to kill the enemy. Truth is, I’m taught to love my enemies. I’m not looking for a fight. But if it happens, the War may come about because of one, some, or all of these  unsettling issues:
                   1. Racism
                   2. Abortion
                   3. Potusphobia 
                   4. Theophobia
                   5. National Narcissism 

I’ll address these one at a time on my blog, every other week:
Next time: Racism: The Church, the Media, and the New Definition of Racist.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Storms, Books, and Blogging

Here begins another season of blogging after another blogless summer. What did I do during my blog break? Finish my novel in progress? Nope. Go over the galley for my upcoming novel, Our Town Atheist? Haven’t gotten that yet. Write several blog posts for the upcoming months? Yes, I did! Read a few good books? Well, one book took me several weeks to read.

The Right Side of History by Ben Shapiro is one of the most mind opening books I’ve ever read. But it was one of those books that had me reading some paragraphs twice. And while I never cared to study every philosophical view there ever was, I now see how the great thinkers of the past, whether intentionally or not, led us to our current state of affairs. I strongly recommend this book to everyone, especially college students and young professionals, of which I am neither. But I will read it again. Soon.

When I finished that book, I needed a couple of easy reads. I’m working my way into novel number two. I’m sort of glad the first one is behind me. Enough said.

So, how is my summer winding down? Like always—with the peak of hurricane season. I live about twenty miles off the east coast of Florida. I never pray for a hurricane to hit somewhere else, because I know that someone, somewhere else, is praying the same thing. And for them, I’m somewhere else. I might pray for the storm to go out to sea and not hit anybody. But if I do, it’s with full realization that only God controls the wind and waves. I don’t pray like presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, who believes a little positive mind control can move a hurricane.1 I guess she didn’t visualize the Bahamas when she did her meditation thing. Perhaps she should’ve thought a little longer about the Carolina coasts, too.

If God is to be thanked for sparing my part of the map from hurricane Dorian, is He to be blamed for leveling the Bahamas? To some, it might seem that way. But it’s the brokenness of this world that throws us all into the eye of one type of storm or another. When the storm is over, we can shake our heads at God, or we can help restore what’s been destroyed. God is there in the midst of what appears to be irredeemable. And He will use the ones who were spared to comfort and help the ones who were not.

Easy for me to say, right? I’ve lived in the path of hurricanes all my life. I’ve lost power for weeks at a time. I’ve suffered property damage. I’ve had to move my family into a hotel or stay with relatives. But I’ve never been left with nothing. Still, my heart aches and the Spirit calls me to prayer for the ones now devastated by Dorian.

And peak season is here, again, and my windows will stay boarded up for a couple weeks. If the next one is the Big One for me and mine, I will take comfort in God. He calms the storms, and I know He cares for me.

Speaking of storms, our country is being tossed about by several issues that may, in the view of some, lead to civil war. The angry, dark clouds are on the horizon. But could it really happen? My next post will give introduction to the topic I’ve been writing about this summer.

In two weeks: Another Civil War in America?


Thursday, May 16, 2019

A Baptist and and Seventh-day Adventist Walk into a Hotel...

Recently, I met a man at a hotel. Well, let me rephrase that. My husband and I were at a hotel. He was in a conference room for a meeting. I was in the empty breakfast room reading a book on my Kindle. 
A man walked in, not noticing me at first, and fixed himself a cup of coffee. He led a service dog on a leash. When he turned around and instructed his dog to sit, he caught me watching from the table a few feet away. He apologized for disturbing me and asked if I minded the dog. I assured him that I wasn’t disturbed and that the dog was welcome. Then then man asked me a strange question:

“Are you a Seventh-day Adventist?”

I swallowed a chuckle. “No. But I’m a Baptist.” 

“Oh, that’s about the same,” he said.

I didn’t argue. To most people, it is, indeed, about the same. But I was curious. “Why would you think I’m a Seventh-day Adventist?”

He took a seat at the next table and faced me. “Because you’re at peace.”

Um, okay, it’s true, I am at peace. It’s not a denominational thing. I’m at peace because I’m redeemed. “Are you a Seventh-day Adventist?” I asked.

“Oh, yes. I have been for several years. I try to observe the Sabbath. Sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.” He sighed and crumpled his brow. It was about four o’clock on a Saturday afternoon.

I wondered about his disability, and I looked at the dog that had stretched out on the floor. The harness read: Emotional Support Animal.

My conversation with the man lasted forty minutes or so. He’d lived in Turkey and had visited all the sites of the seven churches named in the book of the Revelation. He had some fascinating stories to share, but it seemed he was quite alone. He told me he had no one but his dog. And the Lord, of course. He expressed interest in what I was reading, and that trail led to talk of my own writing, and of our somewhat diverging worldviews. More importantly, of the only hope for the world. He said he didn’t understand how we got so messed up, why people had given up on faith. On God.

“The gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing,” I told him. Perhaps our doctrinal conclusions didn’t quite align, what with him being a Seventh-day Adventist and me being a Baptist, but on this point, we agreed.

My husband emerged from the conference room and joined us. He’d been in that room for nine hours and he was ready to go. We both shared a few more words with the stranger, and I told the man we were headed home.

“Good,” he said. “This is a dark place.”

I don’t recall my last words to the man. His last words to me are all I remember. I don’t know if he was referring to the hotel, which was very nice, or the South Florida city, which was a little more cram-packed than my own small town in Central Florida. Or if he meant to say that he was broken and lonely and not at peace. 

Maybe our talk ended too soon. Maybe I didn’t say the right things. Or maybe God used the encounter to stir up the man’s conviction about what it really means to follow Christ. Or…maybe God sent the man to remind me of the same thing.

God being who He is, I’ve no doubt it was just the right amount of conversation, at the right time, in the right place. For both of us.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. I Corinthians 1:18

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Book Sale and Giveaway!

My publisher is promoting several books during the Springtastic e-book giveaway and 99₵ sale. Wake the Dead, book one in my trilogy is FREE! Books two, Killswitch, and three, Transfusion, are 99₵. As this sale got underway, I was thrilled to notice Wake the Dead jumped to number one in Amazon’s ranking of free Kindle reads in the category of Christian futuristic fiction. It positioned in the top ten in the category of religious science fiction and fantasy. Almost two weeks into the sale, it has remained at a high rank, although sometimes it slips to number two in the first category, and into the top 15 in the second. Hey, I’ll take that! This sale end May 12th, so if you’d like to read the WtD trilogy, there couldn’t be a better time!

And check out the other great reads in this sale. I’ve finished Flowers from Afghanistan by Suzy Parish. It’s a great story of a man on the run from grief and guilt. He travels to a war zone but can’t escape the deep loss that has swallowed him, or the steadfast love of his wife back home. I recommend this heartwarming novel.

Now, I’m reading Orb by David Arp. I’m not too far into the story, but I’ve already been surprised, intrigued, and thoroughly captivated. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

So…go find the book for you! It might be 99₵, or it might be free! There are also some great prizes to be won!

Click on any of the titles above to link to those books. For the rest of the books that are either free or 99₵ in this amazing sale, click here: Springtastic book sale and giveaway.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Command of the Gospel

A verse well-known and repeated often by Christians is Romans 6:23:

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Considering this, we might conclude it’s all about the gift, and accepting the gift is all about choice. We can take it or leave it.

While an element of truth exists in the “take or leave it” approach, the gift is not a choice. It’s given to the redeemed, who do not consider the offer or ponder refusal. The choice was already made—it was God’s choice to give the redeemed eternal life. The choice of the redeemed is to follow Christ. And yet, even that is really no choice at all.

Scripture doesn't offer a choice. Jesus didn't give permission to determine our own method of salvation. A back-up plan doesn’t exist. Yet the clear command gets turned into something resembling a choice.

What does the Bible tell us about making a choice? Another verse remembered—and revised—by Christians goes something like this: Choose this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Here’s the whole passage from Joshua 24:

14 “Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Joshua gave the tribes of Israel a message from God. And then he told them what to do. If they didn’t want to, Joshua said, then they could choose something different. Something that hadn’t worked in the past. Something that would lead to death. The command was to serve God. The alternative was death.

So it is with the Gospel. The gift of Romans 6:23 is not the Gospel. It is the after-effect of the Gospel. The Gospel is not an offer to be accepted or refused depending on who you are or where you came from. It’s not a choice that will help you get to know God or define your role as a Christian. It is a command to live.

Acts 17:30:
"Truly these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent."

The “times of ignorance” when people chose to stick with their foreign gods are done. Now, at the time of the proclamation of God’s command, all people are called to turn from their old ways and serve the risen King. It’s not a chance to make it up to God for being bad. Not a way to get yourself straightened out. It’s a command to repent or die. Turn from your idols and false gods to the one true God. Or else.

It sounds like a choice, right? It feels like a choice. I can put away what I thought would fix me, cleanse me, and save me. Or I can keep doing it my way and die trying. But if I’m convinced that’s how my efforts will end, is there really any choice but to obey the command? God isn’t asking me to choose. I’m covered by furious waves and He’s telling me to cling to Him or drown. And so I…choose…to cling and not to drown.

It’s one of those sweet mysteries that settles into the hearts of the redeemed. He commands. He offers freely. I choose. I have no choice. In fact, I am unable to choose. Perhaps that’s why He made it a command. An offer implies acceptance, and so gives us the impression that we’ve made a choice. But a command requires the unfailing power of the One who declares it, and demands nothing from my drowning soul except to live.