Book Review for “The Field”- Christian Fiction/Allegory

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What it’s about:

“Three women are lured into a forbidden field by a charming prospector and the promise of buried treasure. Hava, in doing the prospector’s bidding, inadvertantly unleashes a battle in the Kingdom, and the consequences of her actions leave her guilt-ridden and isolated. Delilah, daughter of an influential Kingdom ambassador, uses her philosophical wit to recruit treasure hunters to her own cause. Lilly, ever a loner, seizes the opportunity to do something meaningful and be recognized for it. Through their respective encounters with the Field, Hava, Delilah, and Lilly take up their roles in the age-old battle between the King and those who oppose him in ways none of them had planned.”

My Review:

I was given a copy of “The Field” in exchange for an honest review.

Wow, I loved this book! One of the best Christian allegories I have ever had the privilege of reading. It tells the story of the ultimate battle, the one for our souls. It clearly portrays our enemy, the Deceiver, and the love of the King. I give it five stars and will definitely be looking for more from this author. No swearing or sexual content, there is violence, but nothing explicit. Good for teens and up.

 

Not the Sin Police

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Who doesn’t love John 3:16?

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (NASB)
But, what about verse 17?

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (NASB)

If Jesus, God in the flesh, didn’t come to condemn, to judge, the world, why do we think it is our job? I have been hearing and reading a lot about this lately. Which probably means that God is getting tired of our pharisaical and judgmental behavior. He is bringing some correction to His body. The whole reason that Jesus came was to fulfill the law, it is now done away with. So why do we try to hold people to certain rules and regulations. The Apostle Paul even said that to those who have surrendered to Christ, all things are legal, though not all beneficial. Yet we judge each other and even worse we judge the world. I have said it before and I will say it again, speaking into someone’s life that you are in relationship with,  pointing out some errors and even giving Godly council, is not judging! The difference between judging (condemnation) and interceding is all in the motivation. We don’t accept sinful behavior, we don’t say it is “ok,” but we do accept people who are bound in sin. We love them!

I thought that I was getting better at the not judging, being more loving. Then God brought some things to my attention, not by pointing out the condition  of my heart, but by bringing some things before my eyes. For months, maybe even a year or two, I have been struggling with how to love and accept homosexuals without accepting their lifestyle.  Then this whole Bruce Jenner thing had me recoiling in disgust. I won’t mention the things I was thinking and some things that were even said in private to my husband, but when I saw similar words written on social media by other Christians, I can’t describe what I felt. It was close to sorrow and embarrassment for my thoughts and word, and for the Body of Christ. Where was the love that Jesus talked about so often? Where was the goodness of God turning hearts to repentance?

A young family member, who struggles with the judgment of other Christians, he professes his love for God and his homosexual nature, posted something on his facebook page. It said, “Live your life in such a way that the Westboro Baptist Church will want to picket your funeral.” For those of you who may not know, members of this church, who call themselves Christians, go to funerals of homosexual service men and woman and disrupt the funeral by shouting and carrying signs. The words are full of hate, “God hates gays,” “Gays go to Hell,” and other such un-Christ-like verbiage. They have offended me from day one and I fully applauded those so called hard core bikers who surrounded those funerals and kept the families separated from the ugly behavior as much as they could. So, though I am filled with righteous anger at the actions of this church, I was saddened by the quote this young man shared. I did comment saying that I would prefer to live my life in such a way that my funeral would be a celebration of a daughter going home to daddy. His comment to this was, “The problem is that many Christians do not share the love that Jesus represented. They choose to be one sided. I love God & try to work on myself daily & fail daily. But no one is going to come to Jesus when hate is preached. I love everyone & just wish Christians would share the love that Jesus instructed them to.” That got me thinking even more.

We fail as the body of Christ if we can’t reach out to hurting, broken people (you know the way we were before) with the love of Christ. Jesus’ great commission was not to “point out peoples sin, set yourself above them, call them names and hate and revile them.” No, He said to And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” (NLT) What’s the “good news?” That God loves sinners! He doesn’t care what you’ve done, He loves you. He knows what your gonna do and He still loves you. He knows every one of your deep dark secrets and guess what? HE LOVES YOU. How many people have the Westboro Baptist Church led to Christ? I am not talking about their twisted followers who just want to jump on the bandwagon of hate, but true surrendered hearts to the Lordship of Jesus.

Jesus, when all others were condemning a woman caught in adultery said these words, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (KJB John 8:7a-11) Basically He told the people that if they were without sin, than to go ahead and condemn her to death, as that was the law. However, they each knew that they had some type of sin in their lives. He seeing they had left assured her that He wouldn’t condemn her, but he left her with the words, “Go and sin no more.” He didn’t tell her that her behavior was acceptable. He loved her, treated her with dignity and respect, and sent her on her way. He didn’t have to tell her what she was doing was wrong. She already knew it.

If we look at the whole passage in John 3:16-21  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” It is their lack of belief in Jesus that condemns them. They are already judged, we don’t have to do it. Our job is to show them the way out of their sentence, whether we think they deserve the sentence or not. We need to show them their advocate, Jesus.

That young man was right, no one is going to come to God when hate is preaches. They won’t if it is practiced either.

So what do we do? Well, to begin with I prayed about it. Then I did something I don’t always take the time to do. I listened for God’s answer. Can you guess what He said? Yep, He told me to love them and He promised to give me His love to do it with. Pretty simple huh?

Next time you want to point out someone’s sin and you aren’t their mother or father, mentor, or close friend, don’t do it. Instead talk about how much you love them, or how much God loves them. It’s a better way. It’s what Jesus did. In fact He is still doing it.

 

I Am Not “A Sinner Saved by Grace”

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If you’ve been around for very long in Christian circles or even if you haven’t, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “I am just a sinner saved by grace,” usually uttered in false humility, true low self-esteem, or full of pride and bravado. The problem with this saying is that if you are saved, it just isn’t true!

Yes, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (I John 1:8, Romans 3:23). However, once we surrender to the loving Creator of the Universe, the God of Mercy and Truth, He makes us brand new!

II Corinthians 5:17 (Holman Christian Standard Bible), “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.”

Ezekiel 26:36 (NIV), “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

We aren’t renovated, remodeled, or patched and pieced back together. We are brand new. Not made from old junk, but made of all new material. We are born of heaven now. The Kingdom of God is in us! There are no sinners in the Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of God is not in a sinner.

Luke 17:20-21 (ASV), “And being asked by the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God cometh, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, There! for lo, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Jesus who was sinless, through the finished work on the cross has made me righteous. I have been brought out of darkness into His light. I have been adopted into his family and am now a son/daughter of God. He was the firstborn of many brethren. I am one of those brethren. Not because I am something special, or because I deserved it, or earned it, just because He loves me. I could have never fixed my life, or made my heart brand new. Only He could, and He did. He said, “It is finished.”

II Corinthians 5:21 (KJB), “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV),” For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

When I was born, I was born into sin, into this world and under the ruler of this world. By no choice of my own, Satan was my “father.” Thankfully, I gave my life willingly to a new and better Father. He rules with Love and Peace, not fear and hate. Once I was born again, or born from Heaven, I received as a gift, the nature of my new adopted Father. I have the nature of God, not the nature of my old father (Satan). I don’t have two natures. Just like a cat can’t have a nature of a dog. There is no place for false humility, and if you are saved you should find an abundant amount of confidence in Him. There is no place for pride, we can’t boast. Pride is sin, plain and simple. When we have the attitude that we are “sinners saved by grace” we want to boast about our sin, how horrible we were. We also want to justify any sin that we still commit. “Of course I sin, I’m just a sinner saved by grace.”

Romans 8:17 (ASB), “Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

I am still alive, in a fallen world, and Satan is still alive and active in this world. My spirit is willing, but my flesh is still weak. So yes, I will sin until I die. However, it doesn’t happen as often, and I don’t let it keep me back. It doesn’t make me a “sinner.” (Using a butter knife to remove a screw does not make it a screw driver.) If there was nothing I could do before I was saved to make me a saint, why would anything I do after I am saved make me a sinner? Now when I mess up I repent and move on. Each day I am getting more and more like Jesus. God forgives and then doesn’t remember the sin ever again. When He looks at me, He doesn’t see my past sins, He sees his son/daughter. He sees a joint heir with Christ, a co-laborer with Him.

David questioned God about being so focused on us, just human beings. Before Jesus died for the sins of the world, before redemption and restoration, God was “mindful” of us. We were in a class just a little beneath the angels. Angels and humans alike are created beings.

Psalm 8:5 (NIV), “You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.”

Now that I am accepted in the beloved, adopted into His family, and am the body of Christ and His bride, I am in a different class. Now I am in the same class of Jesus. I am not deity, never will be, but I am still seated in Heaven with Him. Now those same angels are here to serve me. They aid and protect me, and they minister in my life according to the perfect will of God.

Hebrews 1:13-14 (NIV), “To which of the angels did God ever say, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (Emphasis mine)

Now I am a SAINT. You don’t, or can’t earn sainthood. It’s not something that you become once you perform certain tasks and then die, hopefully to have the church recognize you later and label you “saint.” When I accepted Jesus as my personal savior I became a saint. The veil was torn, I now have free access to the Father and He calls me a saint.

Philippians 4:21 (NASB), “Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you.” (Again emphasis mine)

Greet every saint, every believer, every follower of Christ, every Son of God, every member of the body of Christ, that’s who Paul was talking about. Other versions say, “God’s people”, “God’s holy people”, and “Every one who believes in Christ.”

We need to be sure of who we are! We waste time and energy if we don’t. How can we walk in the power and authority given to us by God if we want to identify ourselves with who we were before we met Him? Does a butterfly fly around saying, “I am just a caterpillar with a fancy set of wings?”

Yes, I was a sinner, but now through the finished work of Jesus on the cross, by His grace, I am now a saint.

Who are you?

Which Do You Choose?

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I recently watched an old version of Shakespeare’s, “The Merchant of Venice.”
I love the symbolism of the three chests. Whoever chooses the right one wins the hand of the fair maiden.

First there is the Gold chest! Shining and glittering with promise of wealth and riches. The inscription on this chest reads,
“Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.”

Chest two is silver. It still has some shine, maybe not the glitter. It reads,
“Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.”

The third chest is a simple lead chest. Not worth much, no shine, no glitter, only the inscription,
“Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.”

The first chest seems to promise much. But is what we desire always what’s best for us? The answer is no! If you were to choose this one your answer would be,
“All that glisters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told.
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold,
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.”
If you chose this one, you will quickly realize the mistake. What you thought was worth it, just isn’t. Sin has pleasure, but only for a season.

So maybe we can fare better with the silver chest. Getting what we deserve. Do you want what you deserve? I certainly don’t. Thank God I don’t have to. No choosing of this chest for me. I deserve punishment. But if you think you deserve fame and fortune and all of that, go ahead…
Inside you will find,
“The fire seven times tried this:
Seven times tried that judgment is,
That did never choose amiss.
Some there be that shadows kiss;
Such have but a shadow’s bliss:
There be fools alive, I wis,
Silver’d o’er; and so was this.
If you chose this one, you will realize how foolish it is to put yourself above others, to seek only your own advancement and comfort.

Of course, we are so much wiser than the foolish suitor’s. We choose the third chest, and rightly so. We hazard all, or gamble all, or give all, for true love! We see inside,
“You that choose not by the view,
Chance as fair and choose as true!
Since this fortune falls to you,
Be content and seek no new,
If you be well pleased with this”

We choose by not looking at the outside, but trusting on what is inside. We aren’t seeking to gratify or glorify ourselves. We are seeking love. True love asks for sacrifice, not greed or self-seeking. Jesus chose chest three- to win your heart. Aren’t you glad.
And won’t you hazard all for Him?

Divine Forgetfullness

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I have been reading through the Old Testament. I am constantly amazed at God’s patience and love for people. His own “chosen people” lived in such a way, that He had no choice but to cleanse the evil. Even in all of the wrath that was poured out, The Father consistently mourned over their pain, wept for their condition. I am learning more of who He is and how much He loves me.

In Ezekiel 33 God talks about those who have stopped doing as He asked and those, who once were wicked, beginning to do as he asked. Verse 16 says, “None of his sins that he has committed will be remembered against him. He has practiced justice and righteousness; he shall surely live.” Even then, before Christ’s work on the cross, forgiveness was in the heart of God. He promised to not only forgive, but to forget! Pretty amazing. God has made it simple. As hard as it was for them to live up to the law then, think about how easy it is for us today. We confess out sin, admit that we are messed up without Him, and He is quick to forgive. He is Faithful and Just and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Sounds pretty easy to me. Unless, of course, you are filled with pride, or self-righteousness… Allow Him to set you free today. Free from the bondages of sin. Free from your past. Free from those wrong thought patterns and actions. Free from what others say or think about you. Total freedom.

“Forgiving and being forgiven are two names for the same thing. The important thing is that a discord has been resolved.” C.S. Lewis

Ephesians 1:7-10 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

The Dead Do Not Inherit

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An inheritance is for the living. When you go to hear the reading of the last will and testament of a person who has passed on, the room is not full of corpses. Instead it is full of the living relatives, and beneficiaries of the deceased.
God says that we are heirs and joint heirs with Christ, (Romans 8:17). He also says that we are seated in Heaven with Christ, (Ephesians 2:6). God gave Adam everything. Adam gave it over to Satan. Jesus took it back on the cross and went to hell to even get the keys to Satan’s eternal home. At Jesus’ death on the cross-we inherited everything from Him. At His death, a New Testament came into being. We inherited the Kingdom of Heaven, as well as all things on this earth. We don’t have to wait until we die to have Heaven. Heaven isn’t just a place. It’s a Kingdom. Jesus is the King, and we are His royal family. Heaven is ours, now! Salvation and everything that comes with it, is our now, isn’t waiting for us to die. Only the living receive an inheritance.
Jesus didn’t die to bring us to Heaven. If that was His only purpose, we’d be there now. Jesus came to bring Heaven to us, here on earth. His Kingdom needs to be enlarged. That can only happen if we stand in our rightful places as sons and daughters of the Most High God. We have to accept the inheritance, use it, and do what God asks us to do-love Him with all our hearts, and to seek and save the lost. It’s not just for our benefit. We are to heal the sick, raise the dead and set the captives free. That’s our job. We can sit around a pray about it, (and prayer is wonderful!), but God wants us to act on our faith. We are Royalty with authority.
No longer say, “I am a sinner saved by grace.” You were a sinner, and you were saved by grace. But if you have accepted Jesus and his finished work on the cross, you aren’t a sinner any longer. Sin is the nature of another kingdom, the kingdom of darkness. It’s no longer our nature. We have the nature of the King and the Kingdom that we submit ourselves under. God has made us brand new creatures, our old nature is dead, all things are new.
So what’s allowed in heaven? Is guilt, condemnation? Of course not. Then you can’t be guilty or condemned. You are seated in Heaven with Christ. He took our guilt. It’s gone! Now only one is judged, and that is Satan. He is judged guilty. His attacks against born again children of God is unlawful. Jesus followed all the legalities in getting our inheritance for us. Satan can find nothing in us to accuse us of to The Father. The Father only see’s us as righteous. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, yes, so that we can turn back to God, but He also convinces us of righteousness. He constantly reminds us of who God is and who we are in Christ. Jesus redeemed us from the curse and reconciled us back to right standing with The Father.
Does that mean we never sin? No-but if our hearts are given over to a New King, He is quick to forgive and chooses to forget. He doesn’t hold it against us. If we aren’t guilty is that the “ok” to sin. Paul says, “God forbid,” to that. All things are lawful, but all things are not beneficial. The closer we get to Him, the less we will sin. You’ll see that things that once tempted us will no longer pull us away from God. Don’t let Satan, the world, or even your own flesh tell you who you are or what to feel. Only God sees us for who we truly are. He says you are accepted in the beloved. He calls you blessed. He has called us sons and daughters. You aren’t who you once were. God didn’t scrub us clean-He made us brand new. He didn’t remodel or remake, He built you brand new from the foundation to the attic and filled you with good things!

Lyrics for “Enthralled by Your Love”

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Enthralled by Your Love

They left me empty and broken.
I searched for the one who could put me back together again.

I could not escape from the pain,
giving myself to the darkness, trying to hide from my shame.

In this hopeless place, you found me.
Instead of piecing me back together, you made something brand new out of me.

Chorus/bridge:
I am you beloved, your bride, sitting in heaven by your side.
Enthroned in your beauty and grace, enthralled by the love in your gaze.

When I was lost, you searched for me.
I found my worth in the price that you paid to bring me liberty.

You saw me for what I could be,
captured my heart with your love, making me into royalty.

Chorus/bridge:
I am you beloved, your bride, sitting in heaven by your side.
Enthroned in your beauty and grace, enthralled by the love in your gaze.

Copyright © by Jodi Woody
August 21, 2013