10 Reasons why I like Facebook

We’re rounding the bend. 2014 is coming to a close and 2015 is peeking around the corner. I’m going to go into blog hibernation for the holidays, so this will be my penultimate post for this year. :)

I’ve read a lot of negatives about Facebook and social media in general. And I agree with some of it. People do tend to glue their eyes to their phones and miss what is going on around them. Some people share the wrong types of things on social media. Some images are disturbing. But I don’t think it’s the problem with FB. I think the problem lies with us and with what we surround ourselves. However, instead of focusing on the negatives today, I’d like to focus on the positives. So here is my list of the reasons why I like Facebook.

Aggies1. It’s a place to make new friends. 

As strange as it seems, I have made a lot of new friends on Facebook. Now, they are mostly other writers, but it’s easier to connect with people when you can see pictures of them and the things they do. Much easier than with emails. And when you have a lot of mutual friends, it’s safe to make a new one. :)

2. It’s a place to keep up with friends and family.

It’s easy to catch glimpses of what’s going on in the lives of people who live to far away for me to see them often. I can celebrate their successes, smile at cute pictures and jokes, and know when they are hurting.

Scripture3. It’s a place to be encouraged.

Having a bad day? I get jokes, funny videos, Scripture, and inspirational memes on my feed. If I post what I’m going through, I get sympahty, prayer, and encouragement. 

Ideas4. It’s a place to be inspired.

Crafts, new recipes (although personally I think these belong on pinterest), ideas galore. People share and ask for suggestions from their community.

Funny5. It’s a handy place to discuss things.

Want a meeting that fits into everyone’s schedules, times, and locations? Make a post in a private group and check back for replies. It’s a great way to discuss things and make logistical arrangements without having to resort to emails or conference calls.

6. It’s a place to be challenged.Inspirational

I like reading posts on subjects that are new to me, or on viewpoints that are different than mine. It’s nice to know what other people think. I might not agree with them all the time, but it’s healthy to get other opinions.

Excretion7. It’s a place to share.

Funny things, pictures, thoughts, events, whatever is going on with you and yours, posting is one way to keep people that are interested in knowing what’s going on with you updated at the same time.

8. It’s where I find out what’s going on in the world.

Sadly, I don’t keep up with current events or popular culture much. So my major news outlet is FB. So, thank you to those people who post interesting news articles. Otherwise I would be #clueless. For instance, I would never have know that Kim Kardashian mooned the world on the cover of some magazine if it hadn’t been for Facebook. (Thankfully, there was no picture).

9. It’s a place to learn new languages, such as Pirate English.

Pirate

You can also chose English (UK) and English (upside down). Which ties into number 10…

10. It’s a place to be silly.

Bitstrips, ridiculous quizzes, you name it. I can be highly entertained by the things other people post.

If FB isn’t a positive and fun experience for you, then think about who your friends are, what types of posts you “like” and what type of articles you click on. FB figures out based on your activity what they think you want to see. So block the stuff you don’t like and praise the stuff you do. But most of all, remember

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. ~Philippians 4:8

NOW TELL ME HOW FB IS FOR YOU? GOOD, BAD, BOTH, NEITHER? WHAT WOULD YOU ADD TO MY LIST? WHAT WOULD YOU STRIKE?

New Christian dystopian series by Katie Clark

If you know me, you know I love to read dystopian books. I’m not sure what it is about them. I think perhaps it’s seeing how rules meant in the best interest of the community can go so horribly wrong. (Can you say Obamacare?) Those big “what if?” questions. And because all societies are dystopian – some more than others.

Today, I’m happy to introduce you to Katie Clark, the author of a brand new Christian dystopian series. Webs pic (1)

Me: Hi, Katie! It’s so great for you to take the time out to answer some questions about you and your books.

The first question I always ask is this: do you consider yourself a Christian author or author of Christian fiction? What do you think the difference is?

KC: I consider myself an author of Christian fiction (but I’m also a Christian author!). I write books mainly for the Christian market. I grew up in a strict, Christian home. Christian books were the books I read in high school, and it’s those teens I’m looking to reach out to in my own stories. I want to encourage them to keep going for God, and remind them that there are others who believe, as well.

Me: Vanquished is the first book in your dystopian series. Have you always been a dystopian fan? How have other dystopian books influenced your writing for the Enslaved series?

KC: I have NOT always been a dystopian fan. The truth is, I didn’t even know what dystopian was until the Hunger Games trilogy. I actually had the idea for the Enslaved series BEFORE I ever read the Hunger Games. I hadn’t written it yet, because I didn’t understand it. I didn’t “get” what kind of story this was that was percolating in my head. And then, I read HG and I realized THIS was the genre Vanquished belonged in. I was able to move forward at that point.

Me: One thing that sets Vanquished apart from other dystopian fiction is its faith focus. Did you model the society of Vanquished after any contemporary country/culture?

I did not model it off any place in particular. My basis for the world was “a world where there was no Bible.” How would that world be different? How would they control the people? Where would they put their focus?

Me: Can you tell us something about Vanquished that you know but isn’t in the book? Perhaps share something about Lilith?

KC: Lilith! Let’s see…Lilith isn’t just a spoiled brat. She’s a highly neglected individual. Her parents don’t “see” her, and they never have. She hates Hana, but only because she has actual, real relationships with people—versus the fake interactions Lilith has had all her life. I never disliked Lilith. I saw her more as “broken”, and I’ve always felt a little sorry for her.

Me: I felt sorry for her as well. I’m drawn to flawed characters that are misunderstood. I think it’s their complexity that intrigues me. :)

What are you working on now?

KC: I’m working on a new series (book 1 is already finished, and under contract)! Each book will be about a different set of characters, but they will all focus on a particular supernatural element (I’m working on book 2 now, and it has a time travel element). I’m very excited about these books!

Me: I love time travel — so many possibilities!

And before you go, what is one thing you’d like your readers to know?

KC: That God is REAL. And he cares about YOU..

Amen!

You can connect with Katie on FacebookTwitter, and at her Website.

And now, for a sneak peek at Vanquished, the first book in Katie Clark’s Enslaved series. Available in paperback, ebook coming soon.

vanquished

The old hospital looms in front of me like some ancient castle from the Early Days. This is where they keep people with the mutation. My heart races at the thought of going inside.

I’ve never been in a hospital before. In fact, I’ve never been in a building that big at all. I wish I’d taken Jamie’s offer to come with me or had come with Dad last night. I wish that Mom hadn’t gotten the mutation at all.

I take a deep breath and push through the double doors.

The quiet lobby area is dim, lit by a few small windows and a couple of glowing lamps. I knew the hospital gets extra electricity allowance, but I’ve almost never seen anyone use manufactured lighting during the day. I’m awed by the sight. In front of me is an abandoned office area, and to my right is an old cafeteria. A sign dangles over the counter by one chain. It seems like someone would have taken it down by now.

I make a split decision and yank it down. Chains clatter as they plunge to the floor. It stays on the ground, and I turn back to the main lobby. My heartbeat calms at regaining this tiny bit of control.

Beyond the cafeteria, several signs hang on the wall. One points me to the stairs.

My dad said Mom was on the third floor. Back in the Early Days, they fought the mutation with chemotherapy drugs and something called radiation. We don’t have those things anymore, so we fight it with fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Sometimes it works, but most of the time it doesn’t. I don’t want to think about what this means for Mom.

The door to the stairs is beside the old elevator shafts. I reach out and feel the cool metal doors. They reflect my image back to me, but I don’t pay attention to that. I’ve seen enough of my short blond hair and not-so-tall stature, but I’ve never actually seen elevators before. I wish the doors would open, and I could peek inside. Riding up to the third floor would be even better, but no one has enough electricity allowance to run elevators, not even the hospital I guess.

I make the climb to the third floor without even getting winded, and more manufactured lighting greets me. Long bulbs line the ceiling. These lights are brighter than the lamps downstairs, and they make an odd buzzing noise. I stumbled into a beehive once, and the angry bees buzzed a lot like the lights.

There are so many rooms down the long hallway, I can’t imagine there would ever be enough sick people to fill them all, but then I remember what they tell us about the Early Days. There were a lot more people back then. Now there are so few people I think we could all fit in this hospital together. How would it feel to be around so many people, all the time? Would it feel crowded? I don’t think so. I think it would feel safe.

The hallway is empty, but a faint beeping comes from down the hall. I pass an old desk on my way toward the beeping. A dumpy computer sits on the desk. People still have those?

I pass one door, two doors, and then an irritated voice stops me in my tracks.

‚We could give her chemo at the onset to slow things down a bit, and then start the natural healing. The least we can do is to give her a fighting chance. She’s a Middle, after all.‛ It’s a woman’s voice, coming from the room with the faint beeping. Her tone is hushed and angry.

I look at the piece of paper that’s been tacked to the wall outside the room.

Maya Norfolk.

I suck in a tight breath. They’re talking about Mom? What do they mean by ‘a fighting chance’? My heart picks up speed, and I step closer to the room, careful to stay out of view.

‚It takes time to get approval for chemo drugs, and what if she talks? Everyone who gets the mutation will start demanding them. What’s her occupation?‛ It’s a man’s voice, and he sounds just as angry.

Papers shuffle and the woman says, ‚Professor at the military academy. I say we do it. She knows how to keep secrets if she’s worked in the military. What chance does she have otherwise?‛

The pause in conversation is excruciating as Mom’s life hangs in the balance. Meanwhile my mind spins. Chemo drugs? They’re not even supposed to exist. How can they be talking about this so casually? Have the rest of us been lied to all this time?

“Do you need some help?”

I jerk around, my heart thumping like the rain during a torrential downpour. A boy stands in front of me. He doesn’t look much older than my seventeen years, but definitely old enough to have taken the Test….

DeliveranceReedemer

AND NOW, DEAR FRIENDS, WHAT ARE YOU READING? 

orphans song

Gillian Bronte Adams and Orphan’s Song

IMG_3496editededited - Copy

I had the pleasure of meeting Gillian at a writers conference in 2013. We clicked because we both adore fantasy. Imagine my delight when I found out her debut novel was being released from Enclave Books this Fall! I had already purchased it through their Kickstarter campaign, so I gobbled it up as soon as it hit my kindle. It is worth reading, and I think ya’ll will love it. (Yes, both Gillian and I live in Texas.)

orphans songEvery generation has a Songkeeper—one chosen to keep the memory of the Song alive. And in every generation, there are those who seek to destroy the chosen one.

When Birdie’s song draws the attention of a dangerous Khelari soldier, she is kidnapped and thrust into a world of ancient secrets and betrayals. Rescued by her old friend, traveling peddler Amos McElhenny, Birdie flees the clutches of her enemies in pursuit of the truth behind the Song’s power.

Ky is a street-wise thief and a member of the Underground—a group of orphans banded together to survive … and to fight the Khelari. Haunted by a tragic raid, Ky joins Birdie and Amos in hopes of a new life beyond the reach of the soldiers. But the enemy is closing in, and when Amos’ shadowed past threatens to undo them all, Birdie is forced to face the destiny that awaits her as the Songkeeper of Leira.

Hi, Gillian! I’m super excited to get to talk to you about your book. :D

The first question I always ask is this: do you consider yourself a Christian author or author of Christian fiction? What do you think the difference is?

I would consider myself both, to be honest. I’m not necessarily a fan of incredibly “preachy” books where each character has to be converted by the last chapter or it’s not considered Christian. Some of the most beautiful and moving books I’ve read didn’t spell the Gospel out in so many words as much as show it. And that’s what makes a great story, right? Showing rather than telling?

I am a Christian first and foremost. My faith affects everything I do and is a part of all that I am. And I am an author. So naturally, my faith seeps into my writing and helps shape the storyworlds, characters, plotlines, and themes. But I don’t believe that it is necessary to preach a sermon in every story—and to many people, I feel like that has become stereotypical of Christian fiction.

I suppose it all comes down to mindset. When I sit down to write, I don’t set out determined to make my book a Christian book. I set out determined to make it the best book I can, where themes of sacrifice and unconditional love and courage flow naturally from the plot and characters, and my Christian beliefs grow organically in the story.

:) One of the things I liked best about Orphan’s Song is the incorporation of music. Are you a musician? And can you give us an idea of what the five notes sound like? I kept hearing the notes from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Not a musician, per se. I took piano lessons for years growing up, but slackened off once I hit my junior year of high school. I can still sit down and pick up the last pieces I learned and play through them, but it would probably take me a while to really get back into it. For me, playing music was always incredibly cathartic, sort of like writing. I was always drawn to incredibly dramatic songs that you could play with a great deal of emotion.

That I think was what first gave me the idea for incorporating music into the world of Leira—the ability of music to both convey and produce emotion. There’s a sort of music to writing too, a lyricism and rhythm to sentence structure and word choice that I fell in love with.

I can hear the notes in the back of my head, but other than to tell you that they would be best played on a fiddle, I can’t really describe it. I’ll have to find a true musician to put it to music for me someday.

Yes, please do! Maybe for an upcoming book trailer or something. ;)

The main character in your book, Birdie, is twelve years old. Why did you select that age for your protagonist?

Twelve just fit Birdie somehow. Most of the time, characters hop into my head with certain very definite characteristics about them. It’s not always the important stuff. Sometimes I can write a character for chapters before I figure out what their face looks like. But Birdie came complete with her age, size, hair color, and an idea of what she spoke like—though that was refined overtime. The rest materialized as I wrote her. But her age never came into question.

Interesting. Can you tell us something about Orphan’s Song that you know but isn’t in the book? Perhaps share some back-story on a character or setting?

Oh this is a fun question! Of course in any fantasy, you’re bound to have a mountain of backstory that doesn’t make it into the book, but a good bit of it may come into play in some way or another in the next two books, so I can’t give away too much yet. There is one innocuous tidbit I can share with you: Dalton and Madame (the innkeeper and his wife) actually had a semi-sweet love story once upon a time. After the massacre of Drengreth, he was wounded and near death when she took him in and nursed him back to health in her father’s inn. She was determined to become his wife, dreaming that he would take her away from her life of drudgery as an innkeeper’s daughter. He did fall in love with her too, but soon after her father died, leaving her the inn, and it wasn’t long before Madame nagged and tongue-lashed Dalton into the hen-pecked innkeeper we see in Orphan’s Song.

So sad. Poor Dalton. Poor Madame (although it’s really hard to have any sympathy for her). What are you working on now?

Book Two in the Songkeeper Chronicles! I’ll be tied up with this series for a little while, but after that I have a super fun, super awesome, super secret project in the works that I can’t wait to dig into. I also just sent the edits off on a novella called Out of Darkness Rising that’s coming out in February!

That’s exciting. It’s always great to have new stories come out. And before you go, what is one thing you’d like your readers to know?

Y’all are the best! Seriously, you’ll never know how much a kind word or a simple “I enjoyed the book” means to an author who is always wading through a massive to-do list and scrambling to meet deadlines. It makes it all worth it!

Well, Gillian, then let me just say I loved your book and look forward to the rest of the series. You should know, however, my favorite character is George the cat. I’d like to see more of him, please!

You can connect with Gillian online at her blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

SO TELL US, WHAT IS THE FIRST BOOK YOU READ THAT MADE YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH FANTASY OR SCIENCE FICTION?

photo credit: Leo Reynolds via photopin cc

Are you ready for the rapture?

Blog-Hop-Button-3-300x300

I’ve had fun participating on the launch team for A Time to Die, the fabulous debut novel by Nadine Brandes. I’m the last stop on the blog hop, so I wanted to do something a bit different. That’s me–a bit different. ;)

So, instead of just answering the question what would I do if I had one year left to live, I want to also ask, what if I only had one year until Jesus returned?

photo credit: Zyllan Fotografía via photopin cc

photo credit: Zyllan Fotografía via photopin cc

With ISIS/ISIL, Ebola, and the state of the world in general, it’s not surprising to wonder whether the end may come in our time. If you think about it, each passing second brings us closer to the time of Jesus’ return. Over and over in Scripture, we are warned that the time is near. 

I don’t want to dwell on how or when the rapture will occur. Maybe one day I’ll post about it, but today I will defer to those more learned than I. Here are two great articles on the rapture, if you’re interested in reading more about the subject:

Why the differentiation between dying in a year or being called to heaven in a year? Aren’t they the same thing?

Well, yes, in that my time here on Earth will be done. But, no, in that when I die I will probably leave friends and family behind me. When Christ returns, I hope my friends and family will be going with me. And, yes, that includes you. :)

So here are my thoughts on how my last year would differ depending on if I knew I was going to die vs. be raptured as part of the church:

If I had one year to live, I would try to prepare my friends and family for my death. I wouldn’t want them to be mad at God because I died. I’d want them to find comfort in him instead.

But if I had one year until He returned, I’d want to get as many people ready to go with me as I could. No more messing around and acting like we’ll live forever.

If I had one year left to live, I would spend as much quality time with my family as I could. I would want to invest in them and hope to leave them memories to take the sting of my parting.

But if I had one year until Christ came for us, I would want my family to help spread the news to as many people as possible. After all, we’d all be leaving Earth together to spend eternity with God.

If I had one year left to live, I would try to tie up any loose ends and prepare my family for the future as best I could. I would write a journal to my girls with words of hope and encouragement for their big days ahead. High school graduation. Their first date. Their wedding. Their first child.

But if I had one year til Christ returns, I wouldn’t prepare for a future here on Earth. There would be no need. I’d spend all my time preparing for a future in heaven.

Things that make you go hmmmm.

WHAT WOULD YOU ADD TO THE LIST?

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Check out A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes. It’s a story about a girl, a whole society in fact, that knows the precise moment they will die from the moment of their birth. They don’t know how, but they do know when…

You-Have-One-Year
How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system. 

But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her clock is running out.

This is book one in the “Out of Time” trilogy (subsequent volumes coming in 2015 and 2016).

ATimetoDieCov

You can connect with Nadine at her website, on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Are Mormons Christian?

photo credit: Diueine via photopin cc

photo credit: Diueine via photopin cc

A Facebook friend posed an interesting question for debate yesterday that has garnered over one-hundred comments: Are Mormons Christian?

The topic is not without controversy (understatement). I thought I’d take some time to work through the issue here for those who are interested in my take.

What is a Christian? 

The term “Christian” was first coined to describe believers in Antioch (Acts 11:26). In Greek, the word literally meant “those belonging to Christ’s party, i.e., Christ followers.” A term distinguishing believers from the Jews and pagan Gentiles.

So, the term ‘Christian’ is meant to differentiate those with certain beliefs, specifically beliefs about Jesus.

What beliefs must one hold to be a Christian? Or, to put it another way, what must someone do to be a believer?

A jailer posed this question to Paul and Silas after God performed a supernatural act (Acts 16). They told him to “believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.” [Presumably, if the head of the house believed something, then his entire household would go along with his beliefs. That’s a word to some men out there, but we’ll save that topic for a different post. ;)]

What does it mean to “believe in the Lord Jesus?”

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you have known me, you will know my Father too.” - John 14:6-7a

But don’t Mormons believe in Jesus? 

The Bible calls us to be on guard for those who proclaim a Jesus, but not the real Jesus in the Bible. Remember Paul’s words to the Corinthians?

But I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his treachery, your minds may be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus different from the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the one you received, or a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough! ~2 Corinthians 11:3-4

And that’s what we have with religious groups like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. They claim they believe in Jesus, but when you dig a little deeper and ask a few more questions, you realize they’re proclaiming a different Jesus and a different gospel than the one in the Bible.

Christ in the Land Bountiful, by Simon Dewey (https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/christ-land-bountiful-174607?category=gospel-art/book-of-mormon&lang=eng)

Art depicting Jesus’ alleged visit to people in the New World in the Book of Mormon (Christ in the Land Bountiful by Simon Dewey)

The subject of false teaching was a popular one in the early church. Look what Paul wrote to the Galatians:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are following a different gospel – not that there really is another gospel, but there are some who are disturbing you and wanting to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we (or an angel from heaven) should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be condemned to hell! As we have said before, and now I say again, if any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let him be condemned to hell! ~ Galatians 1:6-9

An angel like Moroni who allegedly gave Joseph Smith 18 golden tablets that comprise the Book of Mormon? A wouldn’t the Book of Mormon be considered a different gospel?

Joseph Smith Receives the Gold Plates, by Kenneth Riley (62012); GAK 406; Primary manual 3-33; Primary manual 4-03; Primary manual 5-11; Joseph Smith—History 1:47–59

Joseph Smith Receives the Gold Plates, by Kenneth Riley (62012); GAK 406; Primary manual 3-33; Primary manual 4-03; Primary manual 5-11; Joseph Smith—History 1:47–59

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. ~Colossians 2:8

Human thinking like Brigham Young’s and Joseph Smith’s? Joseph Smith altered the King James Version of the Bible to create his own inspired version, including adding a reference to himself in Genesis 50. 

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. ~2 Peter 2:1-3

Destructive heresies like teaching that Jesus paved the way to heaven with his resurrection but it is up to people to prove themselves worth of exaltation through their good works? Claims like Jesus is the first “spirit-son” of God and that Lucifer is his brother? Claims that Jesus was begotten through sexual relations between God the Father and Mary in the flesh? Claims like the Book of Mormon is “just another Testament” and that when Mormons die, they can eventually become gods themselves?

Sensuality like polygamy? A belief so essential that they traveled to the territory of Utah to establish their own government?

Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If the person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here. ~1 John 4:1-3

But some argue that Mormons are Christians based on their good works.

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?” ~James 2:17-20

photo credit: jonathanpercy via photopin cc

photo credit: jonathanpercy via photopin cc

Mormonism is compelling. If you know any Mormons, they are the nicest and most helpful people you will ever meet. They will go out of their way to give you whatever they have. They have exceptionally strong family values. They are moral. In fact, I would contend that most Mormons look more Christian than many Christians. So where’s the problem?

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. ~Matthew 7:15-20

You have to look at all their fruit. In teaching contrary to the Bible, they are trying to lead people astray, no matter how well-seemingly.

I mean, think about it. Our enemy is clever. He is the father or lies and full of deceit. He would create a religion that would be attractive. One that looks like what Christianity is supposed to look like. And, yes, I would contend that this angel, Moroni, was Lucifer or one of his minions.

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will correspond to their actions. ~2 Corinthians 11:14-15

Mormons believe in Jesus and pray to God, so does it really matter if some of the things they believe are wrong?

Yes, it does. Because it is a matter of salvation for them. If you truly care about your Mormon friend (or yourself, if you are reading this and you are Mormon), then it is essential that we recognize Jesus for who He is.

Jesus said, Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through itBut the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it. ~Matthew 7:13-14

photo credit: ramtopsrac via photopin cc

photo credit: ramtopsrac via photopin cc

Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ ~Matthew 7:21-23

“But who am I to judge whether someone else is saved?”

It’s a great question, backed by plenty of biblical basis:

Who are you to pass judgment on another’s servant? Before his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. ~Romans 14:4

But who is a Mormon’s master? Is it Jesus? The real Jesus?

Do not speak against one another, brothers and sisters. He who speaks against a fellow believer or judges a fellow believer speaks against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but its judge. But there is only one who is lawgiver and judge – the one who is able to save and destroy. On the other hand, who are you to judge your neighbor? ~ James 4:11-12

But are Mormons really believers?

Do not grumble against one anotherbrothers and sisters, so that you may not be judged. See, the judge stands before the gates! ~James 5:9

Friends, I’m not writing this post to pass judgment on any person, but on false teaching. I’m writing to shed truth on a subject where some Christians are very, very confused. In our society today where truth is relative, Christians are not doing anyone a favor by being inclusive or universal in the name of tolerance.

So what are our options?

photo credit: Sasquatch I via photopin cc

photo credit: Sasquatch I via photopin cc

1. Treat Mormons as if they are Christians. Let them go their own way. Assume they are saved. Assume that the Jesus they are preaching to the world is the same as the Jesus in the Bible. In other words, do nothing.

2. Treat Mormons as if they are not (or may not be) Christians. Assume they might not be saved. Assume that the tenets of Mormonism are untrue. 

Obviously, I prefer option 2. If I’m wrong, and option #1 is the correct one, then what harm have I done? 

But if #2 is true, then what harm am I doing?

  • I’m allowing someone that does not know God to persist in unbelief.
  • I am letting them believe a lie.
  • I am letting them propagate that lie to others.

That’s the risk, folks.

Now hear me: I do not think that your average Mormon is the Antichrist. Mormons are following a Christian-like religion because they want to be on the right side of God. They are not atheists or agnostics. These are people who are seeking God and want to follow him.

It is the people that are high in the secret upper echelon of Mormonism that are the true deceivers. And it is our job as Christians to try to rescue the sheep they have stolen.

So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes. But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. ~Ephesians 4:14-15

But don’t take my word for it. Pray to God and search the Scriptures for yourself.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. ~James 1:5

Be Berean:

And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. ~Acts 17:11

Will you join me in prayer?

Father God, we want to know you. We want to have a relationship with the real you. Please make your truth known to us. You already know our hearts. If we are wrong in our beliefs, please open our eyes to your truth so that we might share that truth with others. Free us from the deception of the evil one. In your powerful Son’s name, Jesus, we pray. Amen. 

COMMENTS? QUESTIONS?

4 Free Bible Study Tools I Love

I’ve had a couple of friends ask me recently how I do my personal Bible study, so I thought I’d share my process and ask you to share yours as well. :) Let’s encourage one another!

Here are my 4 go-to tools for Bible study:

1. Where should I start?

photo credit: mikecogh via photopin cc

photo credit: mikecogh via photopin cc

I use the free YouVersion Bible App (YouVersion.com). There are a bazillion (I counted) study plans to choose from. They range from short and topical to the entire Bible in 30 days. There is a plan for you, I guarantee. You install the app on your phone or tablet and it will remind you to read, it can email you your daily reading, and if you get behind you can refresh the plan in order to catch yourself up without missing anything. You can also read straight from your computer. No excuses!

2. Where’s that verse?

I’m hit and miss with memorization. Usually I can tell you what the Bible says, but not where it says it. That’s where Lumina from Bible.org comes in handy. It has the best Bible search that you can find. If you want to look for a topic – like how many times the word garlic is used in the Bible (once) – you can type it in and press go. If you remember a part of a verse and you want to find it, you search a part of the verse and the matches will be sorted by relevance. For instance, if I search “wings like eagles” to try to find Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired.” The verse was #5 on the list of Scriptures by relevance (you can do the search if you want to know what #1-4 were).

The great thing is that Lumina searches all the parallel Bible versions at the same time, so if you remember the verse in King James, you can search with thee’s and thou’s to your hearts content. It will find the verse for you.

3. What in the world?

photo credit: @Doug88888 via photopin cc

photo credit: @Doug88888 via photopin cc

We’ve all had those moments – the times when you sit down for Bible study and read a passage and wonder what in the world is going on. My absolute favorite commentary is absolutely free and it’s available in two different places on the web! Dr. Constable, a professor from Dallas Theological Seminary, has shared his own notes for when he teaches Bible study at his church. Each time he goes through a particular Bible book, he updates his notes and they are simply amazing.

You can find them at his site and they are also in the “Constable’s Notes” tab in Lumina. One stop shopping. ;)

4. Do I just read it?

photo credit: Ryk Neethling via photopin cc

photo credit: Ryk Neethling via photopin cc

Yes, but NO! Reading is a great place to start, but you don’t want to end there. Why read when you can interact with the text? 

The Bible is God’s revelation to us. As a friend tells me, the Bible is basic instructions before leaving earth.

Scripture lives and breathes. That’s why it’s important to read it daily. Each day you will get something new out of it, even if you read the same portion again. And as my pastor warned recently, reading the Bible will mess up your plans. If your plans aren’t in line with God’s, that is. 

So how do you interact with the text? You ask yourself some questions. Here are the ones suggested by another of our pastors:

The first two questions help with observation of the text.  Ask: 

  • What does this passage say about God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit?
  • What does this passage say about people, life, or faith? 

The next question helps with interpretation.  Ask:

  • Why is this passage in the Bible? 

The final two questions help with application.  Ask

  • How does this passage relate to my life? 
  • How can I put this truth into practice?

If you want to see the questions put into practice, I blogged about them a while back.

If that’s too structured for you, then keep a journal and write down the verses that jump out at you. Maybe you like them or don’t understand them. Or write down what you think about the passage you just read. Don’t like writing? Draw a picture or tell someone about what you read. Do something besides passive reading. It will help the words stick.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN? HOW DO YOU STUDY THE BIBLE? WHAT DOES YOUR PERSONAL QUIET TIME LOOK LIKE?

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Be careful what you pray for…

photo credit: ashley rose, via photopin cc

photo credit: ashley rose, via photopin cc

Ever heard the saying, Be careful what you pray for…because you just might get it? I’m curious…do you agree or disagree with the warning?

Usually the warning comes at a time like this…you’re in a small group and taking prayer requests.

Janey: “Please pray for me. I need need to be more patient.”

Lucy: Girl, be careful what you pray for. God won’t give you patience, he’ll give you the opportunity to learn patience.

i.e. You don’t want to ask for that because your life will get worse instead of better.

What a load of horse pucky.

Do you believe God is sovereign and good? (Because He is). If you do, then why should you fear to ask Him for anything? Don’t all good and perfect gifts come from the Father above (James 1:17)? If we ask God for a fish, will he give us a snake (Luke 11:11)? If we ask for Him for an egg, will he give us a scorpion (Luke 11:12)? If we ask Him for patience, will He make our life worse?

And what about biblical passages like these:

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

[Jesus:] “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10

photo credit: Art4TheGlryOfGod via photopin cc

photo credit: Art4TheGlryOfGod via photopin cc

Of course, it’s never that easy, because there is always a caveat. The key is why you’re asking.

You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. ~ James 4:2-3

And if you’re really boneheaded about it, God might go ahead and give you what you ask for like he did in the case of the Israelites. Remember when they wanted to be like everyone else?

“Look,” they told [Samuel], “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.” ~1 Samuel 8:5

But God saw their request for what it really was:

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for they are rejecting me, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them.” ~1 Samuel 8:6-9

Samuel warned them what it would be like to have a human king, yet they persisted. And God granted their request.

So should you be careful what you pray for? I don’t think so. Go ahead and ask. Go to God with all of your worries, desires, wants, and needs. It’s not so much what you’re asking for that’s the problem, it’s why your’re asking. Check your motives. Are you wanting God to give you what you want because you want it? Are you treating Him like a vending machine in the sky? Or are you asking for what you want, but desiring God’s best even if it’s not what you’re thinking?

I’m reminded of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” ~Luke 22:42

Take anything and everything to God in prayer, but do so with humility and thankfulness. If you do that, go ahead and ask for whatever you want.

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Now for the book tie in. :)

Nadine Brandes’s debut novel, A Time to Die, releases today. Her premise ties into the concept of being careful what you ask for. In the book, society wanted to know the exact time of their deaths so they could plan their lives appropriately. So God, through technology, granted their request. At the time of conception, each person is coupled with a clock that shows the exact time of that person’s death. To the second. A countdown to oblivion.

And what ended up happening? In that society, clocks have become everything. If you don’t have one, you’re killed/exiled. Your life and worth are based on how much time you have left to give to society.

And would you really want to know exactly when you would die? How would that change things for you?

Congratulations to Sparks of Ember for winning a free e-copy of A Time to Die!

For those of you who didn’t win, you still have a chance!

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TALK TO ME: ARE YOU IN THE BE-CAREFUL-WHAT-YOU-PRAY-FOR OR ASK-GOD-FOR-ANYTHING CAMP?

Shadow Play made Splickety Prime 3.3

I have to laugh every time I type Splickety, because spell check wants to correct it to Persnickety. :D

Anyway, I sold my first piece of flash fiction (1000 words or less) to Splickety Prime. It released over the weekend in an issue with the theme of Deliverance. Should you wish to read it and the seven other wonderful stories in this issue, you can grab a copy at the links below!

Prime 3.3 Cover

Digital subscription to Splickety Prime

Individual issue purchase (print only) 

NOW TELL ME, WHAT IS THE LAST MAGAZINE YOU BOUGHT? OR ARE YOU A REGULAR SUBSCRIBER TO ANY?

ATimetoDieCov

Nadine Brandes on A Time to Die

Nadine Brandes - Head Shot

I haven’t written much yet about A Time to Die, Nadine’s fantastic debut novel. I have a couple of fun blog posts scheduled to explore some themes in the novel, but before I do that, I’d like to introduce you to Nadine. If you’re like me and adore dystopian fiction (as long as it’s original), then you’ll LOVE A Time to Die. Not only is it original, it’s Christian, and that means you get the bonus: great story laced with hope.

Please help welcome Nadine to the blog and read to the end for a glimpse of her book and a chance to win a copy!

Hi Nadine! Thanks so much for coming on the blog today to talk about your upcoming release! The first question I always ask is this: do you consider yourself a Christian author or author of Christian fiction? What do you think the difference is? 

Hello Lisa! Thank you for having me. I consider myself a Christian author. One reason being that my entire passion and pursuit of writing has been at God’s urging. Looking back through my life, I can clearly see His hand in shaping me as a storyteller. I could never do it without Him, nor would I want to. I like watching Him hone the story into the message He knows it needs to send.

I hear you. I wouldn’t want to do anything without God. :) One of the characters in your novel is maimed during the course of the story. Did you know that was going to happen when you started writing the book? What challenges are inherent in writing a character that is physically limited?

No! I had no clue that would happen! I had the entire scene planned out for that character to be rescued. No matter how I worked it, the scene wouldn’t come out right. It didn’t work. Then, during a long drive home, I felt as though God whispered, “That character doesn’t get rescued in that moment.” I argued a very long time with Him before I finally accepted it. Now, I see many reasons why this had to happen.

It’s hard for me to 1) remember that this character has this limitation sometimes and 2) make this character react and process through the circumstance and struggles convincingly. Since I don’t share this limitation (nor do I know someone who does) it’s hard to deliver it convincingly or in a way others can relate.

It came across as believable to me, enough to make me cringe when it happened. [ouch]

One of the characters in your novel, The Preacher, is modeled after the author of Ecclesiastes, whom many believe was King Solomon. Tell us about how you created this character and if we can expect to see more of him in the rest of the series.

Well, you kind of summed it up. He’s modeled after The Preacher in Ecclesiastes. If I were to make that book into a person, that’s how I imagine him. I get a little grouchy at the author of Ecclesiastes and I felt like Parvin was a channel through which I could finally argue against some of the author’s opinions.

Yes, we will see him again in book two. :) I’m actually writing a scene with him at this very moment.

I understand that A Time to Die is the first book in a trilogy. Any idea what you’ll work on when you finish the series?

Nadine in pirate attire

Nadine in pirate attire

Oooh yes. I have a long list, but there’s been a portal fantasy series that’s been aching to come out ever since I first viewed writing as a profession. I was actually working on that when A Time to Die interrupted me. I won’t give too many details though. I want it to be a surprise. [grin]

My curiosity is piqued! And before you go, what is one thing you’d like your readers to know?

Our time on earth is limited, but with God we are limitless. Pursue both (life & God) to the full potential He’s given you. It’s worth every ounce of risk and energy.

You can connect with Nadine at her website, Amazon author page, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.  

ATimetoDieCovHow would you live if you knew the day you’d die?

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system.

But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her clock is running out.

This is book one in the “Out of Time” trilogy (subsequent volumes coming in 2015 and 2016).

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SO, READERS, WHAT DO YOU THINK? IS THIS A BOOK YOU’D LIKE TO READ?

IN ORDER TO SUPPORT NADINE AND HER FANTASTIC NEW SERIES, I’M GIVING AWAY AN E-BOOK COPY OF A TIME TO DIE. COMMENT BELOW TO BE ENTERED. WINNER ANNOUNCEd ON RELEASE DAY, SEPT. 23. Must be 18 or older to enter. No purchase necessary.

Congratulations to Brad, the winner of The Legend of Sheba:Rise of a Queen giveaway!