I read one other book by this author and thought it was one of the best WWII books I had read, so I was very excited to see this one about the civil war offered for free. I loved it! Great historical fiction. It tells the story of Andersonville, a confederate prison camp where great suffering occurred. No swearing and no sexual content, but due to the graphic nature of the suffering, I can’t recommend for ages under 17. This one will pull your heart strings. I give it five stars.
I am a people watcher. I always have been. When everyone wanted to go anywhere public, I ended up watching more than doing. This wasn’t a conscious decision; it is just part of my makeup. God had a reason for me to be this way, but I didn’t figure it out until much later. In my watching, I wasn’t looking for anything particular. There was no categorizing into classes of people based on age, clothing, hairstyles, or attitudes. Well maybe sometimes the attitude. A lot was learned about human behavior. The things people will do when they think no one is watching them! Now I use the things I observe in my stories.
I am not the only people watcher. Lots of others do it. Their motive is a lot different than mine. Their whole reason for watching you is to see if they can dig up some dirt. Some of them will even pretend to find some if there isn’t any within view. There are people who get paid for doing just that. Who do you think finds all the dirt on our politicians? This behavior really bothers me most of the time. Other times I just remind myself they are behaving like their “king.” What surprises me is when brothers and sisters in Christ exhibit this behavior. Our King isn’t like theirs. He only sees the finished product when He looks at us. (He is a people watcher too.)
Psalms 11:4 (NLT), “But the LORD is in his holy Temple; the LORD still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth.”
Andrew Carnegie, one of the wealthiest men in America in the early 1900’s employed more than forty-two millionaires. When a reporter asked him how he helped those men become so valuable that he would pay them so much money? Carnegie answered, “Men are developed the same way gold is mined. When gold is mined, several tons of dirt must be moved to get one ounce of gold, but one doesn’t go into the mine looking for dirt, one goes in looking for gold. The more he looks for the more he finds.”
When we look at others what are we looking for? Dirt or gold?
People mess up, they have character flaws, and they are not perfect-deal with it. It isn’t our job to change them, or even try to find those flaws. Even those of us that have surrendered to God still have stuff that we need to work on. After all we are still working out our own salvation with fear and trembling. But, our failures don’t define who we are. God’s word defines us! How He sees others is how they truly are. He never looks through eyes that judge or condemn, only eyes of love. How He sees them is how they truly are.
We can give up when we mess up. Or we can get up and keep going. Yes, we need to repent, but then forget about it! In the same way we can’t give up on others because they mess up. (I am not talking about willful habitual sin, that needs to dealt with by Pastors and Elders). God is God of the second chance. In fact Jesus told Peter to forgive seventy times seventy times. Which means keep on doing it. It’s funny how human nature, which comes from our sin nature tends to want everyone to forgive and forget what we have done, but we so want to point the finger at everyone else. That nature has no part in us any longer. If we have God’s nature then we have the nature of Love.
I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NASB), “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Philippians 3:12-16 (KJB), “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.”
We are all running in a race. Some are racing towards certain destruction; others are racing towards a glorified body and a life in paradise. We who have accepted the atoning work of Christ have already attained Heaven. He gave eternal life to us freely. We have it right now! However, we still have a race to run. There is a finish line. Paul isn’t being double minded in our verses from Philippians. When he says that he hasn’t already attained, he is referring to the finish line. The attainment we have already is the finished work of Christ. We know He already ran this race and the wonderful news (the Gospel) is that He won! He ran this “track” before we ever even put on our running shoes. Not only did He run the race He removed the hurdles and the stones. He laid the path straight.
Luke 3:5 (NIV), “Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.”
A leader always “goes there first” and Jesus was the ultimate leader. If you get lost just go back to the spot where you left your lane on the track, and step back in line, take a deep breath and run. Follow those who follow Christ.
I Corinthians 11:1 (KJB), “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
Philippians 3:17 (DBT), “Be imitators [all] together of me, brethren, and fix your eyes on those walking thus as you have us for a model;”
If Jesus has cleared our path, why do we stumble and even sometimes come crashing down with the road rash to prove our failures? Think of it this way. Jesus removed the obstacles in our way, it’s done. Picture a bowling alley. There is a device that sweeps away the pins that have fallen before every frame, clearing the way for a potential strike. Now, picture that track. Jesus cleared it, yet our enemy continues to put things in our path to distract us and cause us to get off track. All we need to do is use the authority Jesus already gave us and push the “clear” button to sweep those things off of our lane. Sometimes we lack faith and we either run smack dab into those hurdles or we think we can just go around them. The consequences can be rough. Sometimes it takes some skinned knees to get us to admit we weren’t allowing His Spirit to lead us, or we forgot that His word lights our path. It’s not the end of the race! We get up, realign ourselves by focusing on God and repent from our lack of faith, and begin again.
I love the fact that in this race there isn’t only one winner. It isn’t the fastest runner who wins. All we have to do is finish the race. You might be the last one who crosses that finish line, but that doesn’t mean your prize is any less than the first person who crossed (Jesus Himself). Sometimes I get discouraged when I think that finish line is so far away. I feel like I have run a marathon, but looking back it was the fifty yard dash, or worse yet I was only on my treadmill and didn’t move a foot. Thankfully the Holy Spirit faithfully reminds me of the truth: Christ already ran the race and won, so we are really just taking the victory lap. Then I can see that finish line and it looks right there. The path looks clear, not a pebble or a banana peel in sight. On the other side of that line…is Jesus and man is He cheering! I see some others there too. They have already finished their race, but instead of soaking in a hot tub relaxing sore muscles, they are encouraging me to run.
We win. Take that victory lap!
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV), “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
I received a free copy of “The Amazing Adventures of Toby the Trilby” from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review. This is such a lovely middle grade read! Toby was created by some aging scientists out of a need for a child to love. Those scientists had to use the DNA they had available after going underground, and unfortunately had to add some cat DNA. So lovable Toby has is smaller than most 12 year olds, and has cat ears and a tale. Toby ventures above ground trying to find out if he has a soul. Great Christian fiction. I will be putting the two other Toby books on my to read list. I give it five stars, I loved it.
I Peter 1:13-24 (ESV), “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”
We aren’t worthy; nothing we could have ever done would have made us so. God knew that, He still does. That’s why He sent One who was. His Son, Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God With Us, is worthy. So in His worthiness we are accepted by God the Father. After having said all of that I don’t want you to think that there isn’t anything we have to do. We can’t just accept all of that wonderful, precious sacrifice and continue on with a life in this world. It isn’t just a free ticket to heaven and a get out of hell free card. We can’t continue to be conformed to this worlds passions and lusts.
God saved us for a purpose. His desire is that all men might be saved. It wasn’t just me, even though His plan wouldn’t have changed if I had been the only one who sinned. How selfish would it be if we had the means to help every poor person in the world, but didn’t want to share our money? We have been given something so much more than finances. Shouldn’t we want every person we meet to have this same salvation?
I Timothy 2:4 (Douay-Rheims Bible), “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Jesus said that if we loved Him, we would do what He said. Then He told us to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and to cast out demons. We are supposed to live a life that glorifies God, lives that are worthy of Him. No, there wasn’t anything we could do to earn this worthiness, but now that it has been given to us, aught we not to walk in it, to live like we are? Our verse in I Peter tells us to prepare our minds for action. It isn’t about what we aren’t supposed to do. It’s not a long list of things and activities we are never to participate in, clothes we shouldn’t wear, things not to eat and drink. It is all about what we are supposed to do. We are supposed to live a life worthy of Him. Doing what Jesus asked us to do. Help others, serve one another, pray at all times, love the brethren, encourage and exhort one another, and the list goes on. Just because it is a long list, doesn’t mean it isn’t attainable.
I Thessalonians 2:11-12 (NIV), “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.”
God is the one who sanctifies us, sets us apart. We are now blameless. It is time we stop trying to do penance, or to somehow live by a certain set of rules and guidelines to earn anything from God, or worse yet to be accepted by men. If our total concentration is on trying to clean our own mess up, how will we ever fulfill the purposes that God has planned for us?
I Thessalonians 5:23 (AMP), “And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through [separate you from profane things, make you pure and wholly consecrated to God]; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved sound and complete [and found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah).”
It’s time to be the Church and stop playing Church.
Hebrews 12:28-29 (NIV), “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, For our God is a consuming fire.”
Romans 14:17-18 (ESV), “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.”
Matthew 15:8 (KJB), “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”
God gave us free will. We have a choice. Are we really going to live for Him, or live for ourselves? Are we His children or are we products of this worlds systems?
When our live here is over what do you want to hear Him say? “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Matthew 25:21) Or, “And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” (Matthew 25:30)
I know that is a little extreme, that you are probably thinking to yourself, “but that man wasn’t saved.” I also know that you can accept Jesus as your savior, be guaranteed heaven, and still live a pretty carnal life. I also have to admit than when people persistently, constantly, and stubbornly continue to live this way, I can’t help but wonder if they are truly saved. Salvation is a process. We all have to work it out with fear and trembling. However, a living thing is a growing thing. Are you maturing in the things of God? Can other see changes in your life? Are you making an effort to draw closer to God? The more we know Him, the greater our love grows. The more we love Him, the greater our desire is to please Him.
Are you living a life worthy of God?
I received a copy of “The Designed” by Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review. This book is part of a series. I really enjoyed this book. This is one of my favorite genres. Think of “The Giver” or “Divergent”. The characters are interesting, and the plot line is fast moving. There is no swearing, there is some sexual references, nothing explicit. For my Christian followers there is talk of an alternative lifestyle. I can recommend for ages 17 and up due to content. Now I have to pretend to be patient until the next book is out.