Outspoken

I just finished a book that produced some really strong feelings in me. Not good ones- disgust, anger, nausea. Here was a novel claiming to be ‘Inspirational Fiction’, but only living up to the latter of those names.
First, let me say that I am not opposed to fiction. What a treat to be able to escape this life if only for a few minutes and peek into someone else’s, whose may or may not be very different from my own. And, I have a very high threshold for the author’s imagination and poetic license; these guys can get away with quite a lot in their stories before I would have trouble with their plots or characters.
The problem I now have, as I didn’t realize it existed before, is when a novel advertises itself as a work of Christian fiction, but doesn’t do a good enough job of being Christian. It makes me wonder why the book is in that category- is it easier to have something published if you submit it as Christian fiction? This story, to me, seemed like it could easily have passed for adult fiction, or even romance. It played out like a really complicated soap opera, where every character had issues. Maybe I am not living in reality, but these personas were so over the top in the multiple problems they each had, one could be certain as they read this book that there would be no way of solving all of the problems, and maybe no chance of solving any of them.
There were Christian references from time to time, but they seemed to just be placed there, every few pages, again, to make it look like this was a Christian novel. In no situation did the main character, who needed an awful lot of wisdom, guidance, and direction, ever do anything spiritual to get it. We never see her reading her Bible, or asking older people she should have respected for advice, or really seeking the Lord. From the beginning of the novel we know she is dying, and she appears sure she is going to Heaven. Yet she doesn’t practice any life disciplines to demonstrate she and the Savior are growing in relationship. It is never our job to say whether this or that person will be in Heaven, but since this is fiction, I can freely speculate that this girl will have a big surprise when she closes her eyes on this life and opens them in the next. As to her treatment of others, there is not a person in the book she hasn’t fired one-liners and sarcasm at except her daughter, and excepting her daughter it appears her family members are the ones she despises the most. She has no respect for her father or grandmother, nor for any other person who may be in a position to help her.  The only spiritual discipline I do see is that she prays, but it is more like shaking a magic 8 ball than coming before the throne of grace to find help when needed.
Overall, this book just made me sick. I can’t help but think of Jesus when He told the Laodiceans He wanted to spit them out of His mouth, they were neither hot nor cold. Also where He says, if you do not confess Me before men, I will not confess you before the Father…Where is our contemporary Christian culture going with this lukewarmness? Do they think it will attract unbelievers to the truth? This book would do nothing of the sort- in it we see a girl with lots of problems at the beginning, and at the end we see a girl go to Heaven, but in between there is zero explanation as to how this arrogant soul would have gotten there. Way more explanation is needed if we are going to bring others into the kingdom with us.
I have to stop here, though, and look at the three fingers pointing back at me. What have I done lately that unmistakably points others to Christ? It isn’t enough just to smile at the cashier and let someone use my grocery cart. Jesus isn’t just going to ‘rub’ off my friendly overtures onto another person. I have to make it happen.
So, in summary, yes, this was the worst book I have ever read and it scares me that this author had editors, publishers, family and friends who all supported and approved of this text going to print and wasting all that paper. But it is not my job to judge the work of others. It is my job to be ready at the judgment seat of Christ, with my silver and gold ready for the fire.

Spirituality And Productivity

I’m nearly done with quite possibly the worst book I have ever read. Even now I am drafting a letter to the author laying out my complete disappointment in this, her offering of an inspirational novel. Maybe I am wrong in assuming a book with that label on its binding makes it a level (or more) above the traditional romance novel. And I am not expecting over-religious text, either- just keep the characters and the plot realistic. That is all I ask. The ladies at church are reading this for Book Club this month. I accepted the book, then suggested a book, Evidence Not Seen, to our club facilitator. So now I feel like I have to finish this book as if to say, I read your book choice, now you read mine. We’ll see what other ladies think of this book at the meeting in November. I suppose a bigger thought is: will anybody think the same way I do about it? If not, why not?
Dinner is in the oven. I love the days when I don’t have to think about it much, if it is a roast in the oven or something in the crock pot. The grocery store in Bellville had pork shoulder for a decent price, so tonight we’ll have pulled pork. If it is done in time. I got so busy doing school stuff that I forgot to put the roast in until 10:00. Again, we see the law of Can’t Do Everything Well All Of The Time at work. 8 hours would seem like enough time. Let’s hope so. Last night I made the Black Bean Soup again. It wasn’t as good as I remembered- maybe because I was out of sour cream- but still a great soup to know how to make. My goal for this coming week is to do better at meal planning and prep. Lately the kids are plain hungry, all the time, and if I would simply plan for that, and prepare foods ahead of time when I have a spare minute, we’d be in good shape.
Tomorrow looks to be a shop till I drop day, as we need not only groceries, but clothing items for the kids with this chilly winter weather upon us. I am a little excited and hopeful at the prospect of finding some really good deals. I wondered aloud to Luke if it was a good idea to shop thrift stores first, as it takes me sooooo long to find anything good. He reminded me that time is money, and since we don’t have the money to snap up just any expensive item when we need it, we must spend the time looking for comparable items. He’s so smart. So, Goodwill will be the first stop on our little spree tomorrow.
Adon is here on the couch with me as I type this, asleep on my arm. I would like to get up and fix my tea, but I don’t think I can without disturbing him. He isn’t feeling well, has been fussy all day. We each have passed a cold around these past two weeks, and I expect that this is only the beginning as we move into the winter season. No time to sit worrying about that, however- we’re having Thanksgiving at our house this year and many other great events coming up over the holidays.
Adon is awake now, looking at the computer screen like he can actually read what I am typing. If so, Hello, my boy. I love you.

God Alone

Time flies too quickly by; I don’t ever feel a sense of accomplishment anymore. Already it is the middle of October, already time for our next book club meeting on Friday. We are nearing completion of this month’s book, called The Mysterious Benedict Society. Very good book.
I just finished Evidence Not Seen today. I cried at the end. Darlene Deibler was a missionary in the East Indies who was put in an Japanese internment camp during WWII. I may suggest it to our ladies at church; they might be interested in reading it some upcoming month for their book club.
I also just finished crocheting a newborn hat. No, not for a baby of mine. Some people are coming to our ‘International Worker’s Conference’ next week and the ladies are trying to manufacture some hats and booties to send with them. This is quite an accomplishment, as I almost never can finish any knitting or crocheting project I start. But, even this project hasn’t come to a close because I still have the booties to make to go with the hat. I went ahead and started another hat, though, feeling like I could do a better job on a second now that I had labored through the first. I had a couple of rows going, intending to put some work into it after the kids were in bed, and Luke and I watched ’42’ and I completely forgot about it! Must return to it tonight!
Our Bible lesson today was about God, and there was a demonstration that compared God and man. Here were some of the truths listed:
GOD-knows everything, man-needs to be taught
GOD-is everywhere all the time, man-can only be in one place at a time
GOD-is greater than all and more important than all; He is the highest authority,
man-should be under God’s authority and listen to everything God says

It was really neat listening to all of the things that make GOD unique. There is truly no one like Him! Also, it brings a peace to my heart that He is everywhere, there is no where where He is not there. Discovered a new passage that talks about that- Jeremiah 23:23-24.
I’m also comforted by His sovereignty. He has always been, and doesn’t depend on any man or any event to accomplish His will, though He can choose to use those as He wishes. It is wonderful to think that He is so great, so mighty, and so completely ‘other’. I was trying to share this very thing with a friend who is going through a hard time right now and feeling like God has left His post, but I don’t think my encouragements went over too well. I further told her I would pray for her, believing this is ultimately the best thing I can do under the circumstances.

And when my heart is overwhelmed
Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I
Oh so higher than I