Category Archives: Scripture
The Silence of God
Have you ever experienced the silence of God?
It happens. We pray, we talk to God, we cry out to Him, and there is no response. The heavens are quiet and still. It seems our petitions never make it past our own atmosphere.
Is God ignoring us? Is He giving us the silent treatment? In our greatest time of need, is He too busy to respond to our pleas for help?
Our questions are nothing new. David struggled with this too. Over and over again. O God, where are you? Why won’t you answer me? Do you even hear my cries? Where is your voice? Where are the answers? The words of comfort? Why have you forsaken me?
Admittedly, God’s silence is often a fearful thing, frustrating, even maddening.
So are we alone when He is silent? Has He abandoned us when we need Him most?
No. Here’s what I think. A few years back my oldest daughter, in third grade at the time, got an MP3 player for Christmas. Now, she was in third grade,mind you, and we weren’t going to pay a lot for that kind of technology so she got a Disney model that did the job just fine, and she was thrilled with it. When she returned to school she was so excited to tell her friends about her new gadget. When I got home from work I asked her how her day at school was and she started crying. The other girls laughed at her Disney MP3 player because they had all gotten iPods. My heart broke for her broken heart. (Even now, five years later, my throat gets tight and tears push on my eyes).
Do you know what I did? I tried offering words of comfort, tried telling her it didn’t matter what the other girls thought, tried saying the right things to take away her pain . . . but words didn’t help. She didn’t need words. She needed her daddy to just hold her.
And that’s what I did. I kept my mouth shut and just held her.
Folks, when God is silent, He hasn’t left us alone to struggle through our trial. When no words come, I believe that’s when He’s simply holding us close and protecting us with His love. Words aren’t necessary, only His presence.
“Be still and know that I am God.”
Jabez and Walmart
Back in 2000, Bruce Wilkinson wrote a little book called the Prayer of Jabez. Many of you are familiar with it, some are not. It was a runaway bestseller and took the Christian world by storm . . . and controversy. Seems Wilkinson’s theology came under fire. Regardless, many people started praying Jabez’s prayer (found in 1 Chronicles 4:10) asking for God to bless them and expecting great things to happen. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn’t. I’m not going to debate the theological aspects of this here, but the whole prayer did get me thinking.
Here’s the prayer:
Oh, that You would bless me, indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil that I may not cause pain.
You see, Wilkinson brought attention to this all-but-unknown prayer right as I began getting serious about my writing. I felt God calling me to write. At the time I wasn’t sure what that would look like but I knew His hand was one me . . . so I followed Jabez’s example and prayed for a blessing, I prayed for God to expand my circle of influence (my “territory”), and prayed for Him to keep me from harm and evil. I didn’t copy Jabez’s prayer word for word but the spirit of it was there. And, honestly, I didn’t pray it every day. It was no ritual for me. Sometimes, weeks would go by before I prayed for God’s blessing.
Now, I know some of you may think this is all humbug and that’s fine. I’m not going to argue with you. To each his own. But for me personally, the attention brought to that tiny prayer in the Bible shined light on an area of my own prayer life and faith that was lacking.
I’ve been praying for God’s blessing on my writing for 10 years now. Let me quickly run down how things have played out. This is time to bear witness to the faithfulness of God.
I started out unpublished and unknown, of course. My first writing was for my church newsletter, a very limited audience. From there I moved to a column and feature writing for my local newspaper. Then I began doing some writing for websites–devotionals, inspirational articles, news articles, anything. My circle of influence was growing and my readership with it. Soon after all that I wrote inspirational articles for a candle company that made scented candles that came with devotional booklets.
In 2007 things really took off with the signing of my first contract for a novel with Realms/Strang Book Group. In 2008 by first novel was published. It was in some of the major stores but since I was unknown in the fiction world it was difficult to find. The next year I signed another contract, then a two-book contract, then a four-book contract. With each new book more and more stores stocked them. I started doing more radio and blog interviews, more speaking and teaching, more signings.
My circle was ever-expanding, growing wider and wider and with it, my audience. I was being blessed and I knew it.
And now the next step. This week I found out Walmart ordered a special 2-in-1 edition of my books The Hunted and Scream. It will be both books in one binding sold exclusively at Walmarts across the country. And things are happening fast. The book will ship on December 29 and be in stores in January. To get in with the largest retailer in the world is kind of a big deal, a major widening of that circle. Again, God has blessed my writing as He has continued to do these past ten years.
I realize all this comes at the hand of God. I’ve done none of it. He deserves all the credit.
Look for the book in Walmart in January. I don’t know which stores will be carrying it but it may be your local one. It will be at a discounted price, of course, and is a special edition. And hey, if you’re in the book section and someone else is perusing the titles, why not point it out and say, “You know, these books are quite the read. You may enjoy them. And I hear the author is a real whiz-bang guy.” Okay, you can leave that last part off.
The Doctrinal Issue of Supernatural Fiction
Okay, here’s the question: Does Christian supernatural fiction need to be doctrinally sound? Or maybe a better question would be can it be doctrinally sound?
Now, I know there are many flavors of Christians who read my work–Brethren, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, Fundamentalists, Baptists, Charismatics, to name a few–and each one has a slightly different twist on Christian doctrine. I’m not here to fight over the gifts of the spirit or pre-trib vs. post-trib. We can leave that for another day.
I want to talk about the doctrine of the supernatural and how it plays into the realm of the natural. One of the things Christian supernatural fiction is taken to task over is that it is not doctrinally sound, that it is unrealistic and contradicts what the Bible teaches. Really? Does it? I guess, like anything else, it depends.
Let’s get one thing clear, just because we don’t understand something or don’t experience it on a regular basis doesn’t make it contradictory to what the Bible teaches.
Humor me for a moment while I tackle an issue I’ve dealt with in my own books. In The Hunted there is a beast, a monster if you will, that is the manifestation of evil. Call it a demon if you like. Then, in Darlington Woods, there are the darklings, demon-like creatures with a thirst for blood and death. They’ve both been called unrealistic and I’ve had to defend them by reminding people it’s fiction, it’s not meant to be real. But are they really that unrealistic?
Here’s my line of thought. Can fallen angels take on the form of humans like the good angels can? Genesis 6 seems to hint at that when it mentions the “sons of God” (if you take that interpretation). Can Satan and his minions take on other forms? Well, in Genesis 1 Satan came to Eve in the form of a serpent so it sure seems like it’s possible. So what’s to prevent them from taking on the form of a lion-like monster or a darkling?
Other questions: Can Satan control people? Sure he can. Judas Iscariot is a sad example. Can Satan control the weather? Yes. Job can attest to that. Can people receive visions and messages in their dreams? The Bible is full of such examples. Can God work through people in the form of miracles and supernatural power? Again, examples in Scripture are abundant.
Now, I know there are arguments on both sides about miracles and visions and such today and I respect the views of both sides. But what I deal with in my books is possibility. Is it possible that a demon can take on the form of a darkling or some other monster? Is it possible for a comatose boy to transmit messages from God? Is it possible for a man to be so controlled by Satan it’s as if he’s one with the prince of darkness?
I believe the answer to each of these questions is yes, it is possible. And I doubt that exploring these topics, these possibilities in fiction is doctrinally unsound. Trust me, the last thing I want to write is anything that could be called heresy or blasphemy. If I ever challenge the deity of Christ or the way of salvation in my books please, please call me on it. If I ever exalt man above God, take me to task. If I ever portray God as anything but the Father of Light and source of all goodness, give me a tongue-lashing. And if I ever fail to point my stories to God, to show the power of His words, the comfort of His touch, and the possibilities of His children, take my computer away and never let me write another book.
We’ve talked about this before, that the Bible is full of the supernatural, of miracles and wonderful strangeness, of evil in its cruelest and most vile forms. Can it still happen today? Is it possible? What do you think?
God Never Says “I Quit”
Once a week I try to do “family devotions” with Jen and the kids. Nothing special, just reading a passage of Scripture and talking about it, maybe explain it for the kids then ask some probing questions. Yesterday we started on the book of Philippians.
In chapter one, verse 6, Paul says, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Now, a problem we have with our girls is the oft-moaned, “I can’t do it” or “I give up.” So often with kids, when times get tough or the road gets rough they throw in the towel. It ain’t worth it.
Is there a better verse to illustrate God’s sick-to-itness? I explained to my girls that when we became a Christian God started a work in us, a work to make us more and more like Him, like Jesus, and He will never quit and never give up on us. No matter what we do or how much we complain or give Him a hard time or let Him down, God keeps working on us.
God never, ever, says “I give up” or “I quit” or “I can’t.” What He starts He finishes.
I saw a few light bulbs click on. It’s always so neat when you watch kids “get” God’s Word. And hey, I was reminded of a valuable lesson too. There are lots of times when I want to take a seat or when I’m searching in vain for that “easy button.” But sometimes there’s just no easy way and taking a seat is not an option. We have to press on, we have to complete what was started and see it through to the end. And that, in itself, serves to sculpt us more into the image of our Creator.
A Song for You
Here’s one of my favorites for your Sunday . . .
Psalm 91 (New International Version)
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you make the Most High your dwelling— even the LORD, who is my refuge-
then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”