Book Review for “Moonblood”-Christian Fiction Fantasy

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I just can’t say enough about this series! Anne Elisabeth Stengl is now on my top five favorite authors list. Each book in this series is a stand alone book, telling a full story with a clear beginning and an end. However, each one weaves the story in more detail so as to explain what you have read before and tie the whole “Goldstone” world together. Great epic fantasy! Villains are made and others are thrust into the unlikely role of hero. I can’t seem to put the books down. Characters are well rounded. There is a great mix of humor, and heartache. I give this story 5+ stars. They would earn many more if available. No swearing or sexual content, though fighting and violence, including dragon destruction. I can recommend for ages 14 and up.  Great Christian allegory!

Hero or Hypocrite?

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I Corinthians 1:27-29 (NLT), “Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.”

I have to admit, I am getting a little tired with people trying to throw mud on my heroes. The founding fathers got drunk, owned slaves, and bribed voters with booze. Find a hero and the world gets on the bandwagon to dig up some dirt, and the mudslinging begins. No one is sacred. Instead of “hero” they would label them as “hypocrite.”

However, I have a different opinion. Jesus said that we could recognize heroes by their fruit.

Matthew 7:16-20 (NIV), “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.”

Ok, he didn’t use the word “hero”, but to me anyone who accomplishes what God purposed for them is a hero.

So how do we separate the heroes from the hypocrites? Look for fruit. We can’t look at their mistakes and disqualify them. All humans sin and make mistakes; we all miss the mark at times. What is important is that they finished well, that they accomplished something for good. If you have any doubt just take a look at some of the heroes of the Bible.

Noah: The man who for 150 years built an ark and preached to those around him without a single convert. He obeyed and after doing all God asked him to do Noah plants a vineyard, makes wine and gets drunk. So drunk his son walks in on him passed out naked.
Abraham: “Father of our faith”, “who was counted as righteous”, who left his hometown to wonder wherever God told him to go, lied about his wife twice, allowing her to be taken by the Pharaoh of Egypt as a wife, and as a concubine of a foreign king, all because he was afraid for his life. (Granted it was only a partial lie, as they were half brother and sister, but not the truth!).
Isaac: Repeated his father’s “my wife is my sister” plan.
Jacob: Stole his brothers blessing by impersonating Esau when his aging father was on his deathbed.
The men who became heads of 11/12 tribes of Israel: Planned to kill their little brother, sold him into slavery instead and lied to their father, faking his death by wild animals.
Moses: In anger disobeys God and doesn’t get to go into the Promised Land.
Elijah: After defeating 400 priests of Baal, throws the biggest pity party ever and asks God to just kill him.
David: “The man after God’s own heart” committed adultery and then had the woman’s husband killed. He also wasn’t the best parent. You can read about some of the terrible things his children did.
The Apostle Paul: Paul persecuted the early church even consenting to their deaths.
Peter: Denied Christ three times.

Do I need to keep going? They all were called by God, personally chosen for a purpose. They all made mistakes, messed up, and were completely human. Just like us. And every single last one of them fulfilled the purpose that God had for them. God singled Noah out as the only person on the face of the earth living right. He had a part in saving the human race. Abraham became the father of many nations and was called “the friend of God.” Moses led God’s chosen people out of slavery. David instituted praise and invented many musical instruments. We read his praises in the Psalms and of his military exploits in several books of the bible. Paul wrote most of the New Testament and along with Peter performed many miracles.

Are you getting the picture? God uses people. Messed up, flawed people. This doesn’t make them or their accomplishments any less important or significant. We were never meant to look at them anyway. Our attention and focus is supposed to be on God who gave them the strength and power to do all of the good things they did.

I Corinthians 1:26-31 (Message Bible), “Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”

So, does it matter to me that George Washington bribed voters at the age of 26 by giving them booze? I don’t even know if that is true, but if it is, so what! It doesn’t change the fact that he was a hero, still is in my book. The same goes for all of the mud they have dug up on any of the early presidents. I read quotes and written bits that are supposed to prove that they weren’t really Christians and lived hypocritical lives. If you looked at my life closely you would probably say the same thing. But, you’d find some fruit too. Does their behavior make them hypocrites?…maybe, but it doesn’t make them less of a hero.

There is no perfection short of heaven. We need to stop expecting others to be perfect, including ourselves. God uses imperfect, flawed people. That’s how He gets the glory and it doesn’t lessen their good deeds in His eyes. Even Paul said that he continued to struggle with doing wrong.

Romans 7:15-25 (ESV), “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

Next time someone tries to tell you something bad about a leader, a founding father, or a well known pastor, either tell them you don’t want to hear it or say, “Nevertheless, God has used them mightily.” If there is fruit in their lives, if their work still stands after the fire, then they have done what God has purposed for them. End of argument. And if a brother or sister in Christ messes up, so what! Help restore them. A leader fell? Get over it and pray that they repent and find God’s forgiveness so that they can move on. We can’t dismiss anyone as not being worthy, or as not being a Christian, because they have sinned, (only if they never repent and turn their hearts back to God). If we did, our Churches would be empty.

We are at war. If we confess our sins, He is quick to forgive. We need every soldier. Instead of looking for reasons to dismiss others, or tarnish their reputations, including those who have gone on before us, let us all do what we have been called to do and get the job done.

Everything else is a waste of time, energy, and recourses.

And always remember…God uses whom He chooses.

Book Review for “The Golden Sword”-YA Arthurian Fiction

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ANP31XA?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwgoodco-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00ANP31XA&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

This is another great allegory. I love all things Arthurian and this one was no exception. It defiantly doesn’t fit the mold of the usual Kink Arthur legends. The young man (no age is given, but I am assuming high school age) and two of his friends in modern Cornwall, face up against an old evil, with the help of some strange characters. A good read and I am looking forward to the next book. I recommend for ages pre-teen and up. I give this book 4 stars.

Book Review for “Martyr’s Moon” Fiction/Allegory

I was given a copy of this book by the author, J.E. Lowder, in exchange for an honest review. I thought I like the first book, but this one is even better! They both were long reads and you have to pay attention, not a light weekend read. I will now have to finish up the “War of the Whispers’ series to find out what happens to our unlikely heroes. This is a wonderful allegory that reminds me of “Lord of the Rings” and “Narnia.” I find myself rooting for the characters. The story is told from many angles following several key players who’s parts take them in different directions, thus the Tolkien feel. I highly recommend this book. I give it five solid stars.

http://www.amazon.com/Martyrs-Moon-War-Whispers-ebook/dp/B00BIAJ3NG/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

Today’s Joy

I had to ask myself today, “Do I have joy in my life?” Not happiness, which is a fickle friend, but that inner joy in my spirit. You know the joy that has absolutely nothing to do with our circumstances. My honest answer is “not as often as I should”, and some days, (especially lately, as our family is going through a trail), I have to admit, “not very often.” It is so easy to allow the mundane experiences of our lives, or the frustrating circumstances chase away our joy. But, if joy isn’t dependent on our circumstances, then how does that happen? I believe it is when we lose our gratitude. It’s easy to take our eyes off of Jesus and put them on our problems, especially if those around us are hurting. Or to simply lose patience with our dreams because they seem so slow in coming.

Even in the midst of hard situations, we can maintain a thankful heart. Sometimes we get stuck in the ‘thank-you-for” rut where we rattle off our tiny list, you know the same one every time. Mine includes, hubby, kids, grandkids, food I eat, house, cars and Church, or pretty close. That just shows we are either in a hurry, or can’t see past our nose. When we slow down and make the effort to be thankful, we can see so many things, people, places that touch our lives. A few examples: a babies smile, doesn’t even have to by your baby, any baby smiling, the smell of lilacs on a damp spring morning. Then there are those things that we really aren’t too thankful for. This category is hard for me, shoveling snow, giving the dog a bath, dealing with that one person who rubs me the wrong way. Yes, we need to be thankful for those things. God has a purpose and a plan for our lives, and part of that plan is for us to work hard, love people, be a witness at our jobs.

It seems like the last few months, my family has been under it. Most due to some poor choices of one family member and the rest either come along with the territory, or just because we have a real enemy. So though it’s been tough, I have still been able to find joy in the middle of it all. If I was a spiritual superhero, I could say I held onto my joy the whole time, but sadly I am not. I can say that I know right were to find it. Because in all truthfulness, despite what I said earlier, nothing can chase or steal our joy away. We lay it down, sometimes absentmindedly, like a spare pair of reading glasses. Psalms 16:11 “You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy. At your right hand there are pleasured for evermore.” We find our joy in the presence of God. Simple really. Sometimes we willingly lay down our joy to trade it for fleeting happiness or satisfaction. Usually that comes out of willful sin, which includes harboring bitterness, and nursing un-forgiveness. We lay down our joy when we disobey God.

How do we hold on to our joy? By being thankful, a heart full of gratitude. When we keep our minds fixed on Jesus, His promises, His goodness, and remember those who have gone before us, we can keep that unspeakable joy in our lives. Hebrews 12:1-3 “therefor, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrances and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of he throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and love heart.”

Hope For Us

We as a whole are lacking in hope. We run through our lives busy as bees, but instead of working to bring life, we are working at self satisfaction. We see so many people who supposedly have it all, that are killing themselves with drugs, alcohol, and loose living. I have noticed over the past several years that there has been an increase in the media, books and movies about the paranormal and superheroes. My theory is that we lack heroes. I know there are plenty to be found, everyday, normal people to do extraordinary things for the good of others. But they are few and far between, at least from what we can see in the media. We have a need to know that there is someone out there who can fly in and save the world, who can free us from the evil that runs rampant.

I think for some of the same reasons we have seen an increase in the genre of paranormal. Sure some are just plain horror stories, that only frighten and horrify us, and I think those are part of the evil around us, but there are some that I think are a shadow of what we need and hope for as a society. When I read the ‘Twilight’ series, which I did enjoy, I thought about this at length. Edward, the vampire, considers himself a ‘monster’, his whole ‘family’ doesn’t behave like the other vampires, but live by a code of ethics that isn’t normal for their kind. They don’t harm humans and the father figure is a doctor. I think that if we look past the whole love triangle and the shallow parts that young girls adored, we see the need to know that even if we are ‘monsters’ we can be redeemed and loved. We had a huge amount of vampire stories stream into the media after the success of this one story, but they all lacked the background story of fighting against the evil in our own hearts and lives.

Why do I think we so need to hear that there is a superhero out there, or that we can overcome the evil inside of us? Because we have a hero, on the scale of super-super, that died for us so that the evil inside of us is made into something good and right. He swept in, not on a web, or with cape flying, but in a manger, as a man, in our weakness and our frailty, and fully depended on the un-ending love of His Father, to give him the strength to live supernaturally, and to free us from the chains of evil that bound us.

So, you know, I do love superhero movies, and stories like Twilight, to me they are a shadow of what is really happening. They show us that we can’t do it ourselves, that we need someone better than we are to help us and to show us the way. God can do that. He already did.