Thursday, February 8, 2018

Exodus 14: Faith During the Fight

In Exodus 14, the freed Hebrew slaves reached the Red Sea only to be pursued by the hard-hearted Pharaoh and his army. The people complained about their plight and even said it would be better to remain slaves in Egypt than to die in the wilderness. In verse 14, Moses gave his famous, oft-quoted response, “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

When I read this passage, I usually find myself wondering how they could question God’s plans and goodness after everything he’d done to bring them out of slavery in Egypt. God sent unimaginable plagues to display His power to Pharaoh and freed His people from bondage to an incredibly powerful ruler without anyone lifting a sword or sling. Yet when they saw the Red Sea on one side and Pharaoh’s army on the other, they were overcome with great fear and what I like to call a case of spiritual amnesia. The fear inspired by their dire earthly circumstances was so great that it overshadowed and cast out memories of God’s miraculously displayed faithfulness, and they trembled with trepidation instead of looking to the Lord with expectant trust.

And we do the exact same thing.

While modern day Christians don’t have an Egyptian army on the left and a body of water on the right, we are hard pressed on every side by difficult jobs, broken relationships, loneliness, illness, depression, anxiety, rejection, ongoing sin struggles, and a whole host of issues. Like the freed Hebrew slaves, we often focus so much on what we can see with our eyes that we forget to trust what—or rather who—we cannot. Walking by faith instead of sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) and having faith in the unseen (Hebrews 11:1) doesn’t mean that we ignore the trouble surrounding us and stuff our feelings in an effort to seem like ethereal beings who are never touched by the brokenness of the world. It means that we look to Jesus during our trials, remember what God has done for us, and remind ourselves that if we can trust Him with our salvation, we can trust Him to comfort us in our affliction (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) and provide a way of escape during temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Sure, we can’t say that God blotted out the sun or sent a plague of frogs to liberate us from draconian rulers, but we can say that God did what the Law could not do by using Jesus’ death and resurrection to make completely depraved people like us as righteous as His Son (Romans 8:1-4). He didn’t just deliver us from worldly troubles—He delivered us from death and judgment so we can have abundant, eternal life.

As anyone who has read Exodus or watched the classic movie The Ten Commandments knows, God didn’t lead the people to the Red Sea only to let them be destroyed by Pharaoh’s army. He parted the Red Sea so they could be saved from death and eventually claim the land He promised to their forefathers. Even though many of us may not have a sea-parting moment of deliverance from our worldly troubles, we can rest assured knowing that God has made a way for us to be with Him for eternity and will wipe every tear from our eyes like the loving, perfect Father He is (Revelation 21:1-4). The privilege of being with God forever is worth more than a thousand miraculous, situational rescues, and recognizing that can help us patiently, faithfully endure a million heartbreaks. God doesn’t just fight for us—He’s already won the war! So we can trust him with all of the daily battles that wage between now and His ultimate victory.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Two Masters (A Poem)

I wrote this poem as a bit of a cautionary tale recently as I was meditating on the idea of us having to choose between two masters. We either choose Christ as our Lord and Savior or continue to be slaves to sin. You may think you're pursuing pleasure and fulfillment by forsaking God and what you perceive as a joyless/boring life, but there is a sweetness and incomparable joy and peace that comes with choosing to follow Christ and accept his payment for your sins. I hope y'all enjoy it!

When my master arrived, my soul was alight.
I’d sworn on my life that I’d chosen right.
He shone with beauty beyond imagination,
His rosy lips always upturned in flirtation.
His words were like honey and sweet to my ears.
I’d longed to be with him for so many years.

As for my twin, she too had been claimed
By a master less comely and tragically maimed.
Nothing about him seemed special at all,
And yet she still loved him and heeded his call.
Though his words often stung and pierced her poor soul,
She swore his correction had helped make her whole.

Disgust filled my heart, so I turned in dismay
To gaze at my master who’d take me away.
As my sister showed devotion without compare
And seized hers with gladness — no sign of despair.

Away we twins went when that fateful day dawned.
As the hours passed by, I stumbled and yawned.
When I entered the land of my chosen king
I noticed a strange and perplexing thing.
Dread, sorrow, and fear inundated my soul
As if my every transgression was taking its toll.
The sun’s radiant rays burned my delicate skin,
And at once my ears filled with a distressing din
Of weeping and gnashing, of moans and sighs.
Immediately tears stung and burned my poor eyes.

With a rident grin of unnerving elation,
My master walked me to my new home and station.
Placing a pack on my back and an axe in my hand,
He told me to pick at the unyielding land.
Once I softened the ground with my toilsome deed,
My next task was to plant a terrible seed.
Not smooth or round like the ones back home,
Torns protruded from the tiny black dome.
For my seed to grow, it couldn’t stay dry.
It needed my tears. I would have to cry.
Telling me that I would need great inspiration.
He leaned in and whispered with cruel jubilation.

“Your dear sister is working for her master too,
But she chose incredibly differently from you.
The same sun shines upon her lovely brow,
But she won’t burn and perspire as you do now.
She’s in a garden from whence I was expelled
Full of beauty and joy like you’ve never beheld.
The ground where she digs is soft indeed,
And the seeds that she plants won’t make her hands bleed.
Cool rain waters hers from the heavens above.
Because tears never come from a woman so loved.
From that seed will sprout a beautiful bloom
That she’ll merrily give to her bridegroom.
Seeing his devotion and joy will multiply hers
But you, my dear, shall sow and reap burs.”

With a smirk on his lips and scorn in his eyes,
My master became someone I truly despised.
But I couldn’t speak as he strolled away.
Nor could I keep my hot tears at bay.
I hacked at the ground and wailed aloud.
Despair enveloped me like an oppressive dark shroud.
I cried without ceasing, I thought I would drown,
But my burning tears never softened the ground.

When weeks later I made a hole for my seed,
I knelt on my knees and did the dark deed.
Thorns from the seed pricked each calloused finger.
Self-hate and regret in my heart always lingered.
I planted the scourge, hands covered in blood.
Remembering my twin, tears rushed like a flood.
Though I’d found him fair, my master had lied.
The hope his deceit brought had withered and died.
I thought I’d found pleasure and freedom anew,
But I’d been so blind, and my judgment askew.

As the parched ground drank up all of my tears,
I remembered our sister, not as advanced in her years.
The little one had listened to our every word.
Of both our masters she’d constantly heard.
I wished in my heart, which had lost all its joy,
That she would see through my master’s great ploy.
The ease and pleasure he’d promised each day
Served only to lure in his foolish new prey.
Behind his great splendor and alluring smile
He was incomparably dark, dishonest, and vile.
His greatest delight was in my constant pain,
But all the tears I’d cry would be completely in vain.
Because nothing would ever comfort me
Like my twin sister’s master who had hung on a tree.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

President Paul or President Pilate? #GodTrumpsAll

Many Americans awakened this morning with a sinking feeling in the pit of their stomachs because the unfathomable happened.

Donald Trump was elected President. 

While there are many people celebrating his unprecedented victory over Hillary Clinton, many Americans are not. On one hand, you have a flood of liberal tears from people who think that he is the end of equality and the beginning of oppression. On the other, you have conservatives wishing he would immediately resign so Mike Pence can take the reins. Sprinkled throughout both the right and the left are Christians who have been praying earnestly that we didn't just watch the season finale of America since the electoral votes were counted in Trump's favor last night.

This blog is for the last group.

I understand your anguish and your fear about the future, but there is hope no matter what happens during President Trump's four year tenure in the Oval Office. Let me give you two of many potential scenarios for what could happen and why God comes out on top either way.

President Paul#DamascusDonald2016

A lot can be said about the man who watched and approved of Stephen's stoning then ravaged the church (Acts 8:1-3), but few people reflect on Paul without remembering his amazing conversion. On the road to Damascus, he had an encounter with Jesus that left him momentarily blinded, but when the scales fell, his eyes were ultimately opened to the sweet truth of the gospel. One interaction with Christ changed his life and our world forever (Acts 9:1-31).

This could be President Trump.

Imagine the testimony that could come from a man like Donald Trump becoming an abiding believer in Christ. As a new creation, the old would pass away, and behold the new that could come (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)!

If a man who has been called racist, bigoted, misogynistic, a pot-stirrer, financially unsound, inexperience, and hateful in his speech was filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23), the world would be dumbstruck in awe and forced to face the power of God.

The Result: God wins.

President Pilate

Pontius Pilate is a man remembered for little more than presiding over Jerusalem during Jesus' ministry, death, and resurrection as well as the early church's initial persecution. His chief concern seemed to be maintaining the status quo and order to please Caesar, which benefited him in the end, so pleasing God was nowhere on his to do list (John 18:28-19:16).

This too could be President Trump.

While he made campaign promises that sounded good to a lot of people and stood for platforms that many Christians support, which might have used as a basis for the votes they cast in his favor, it could all be smoke and mirrors. His chief concern could be getting in power, staying in power, and pleasing himself with God not even in the kitchen let alone on the back burner despite all of the high profile pastors who have promoted him over the last year.

But God is still good.

The early church, embroiled in persecution as it was, thrived. When the peril they faced under Pilate's rule and the religious authorities’ influence led early Christians to scatter (Acts 8:1-3), God used that dispersion to spread the gospel from Jerusalem to Samaria and the ends of the earth even though that was never Pilate's goal. While I'm not advocating that Christians flee to Canada, which doesn't even have an immigration website that can handle that kind of traffic, whatever hardships and difficulties come from a Trump presidency can be used for God's glory.
Your peace that surpasses understanding as you pray to lean on God during a tumultuous four years could soften a coworker's heart toward Christ (Philippians 4:4-7). Your joy that springs from trust in God can turn the heads of people whose joy was lost on November 8. The suffering you may encounter can produce endurance, character, and hope that points to Christ (Romans 5:1-5.

The Result: God still wins.

President Who?

As I sit here typing this during a network outage at work on November 9, 2016, I don't know what the future holds for our country. Trump could be a Pilate, Paul, Jeroboam, David, Ahab, Hezekiah, Judas, Peter, or any number of biblical figures in terms of how his character reveals itself or changes during his time in office. However, there is one thing that I do know.

God is still good.

We have a Father in Heaven, Christ as our Savior, and the Holy Spirit guiding us on earth. In the span of eternity, a Trump presidency is a mere breath. One day, he will return to dust and be forgotten. Whether God uses him as a vessel for honorable use or dishonorable use, God still sits on the throne and has a purpose for him (Romans 9:14-24). There is not one inch of this world or moment in eternity that God is not sovereign over, and his victory over sin was accomplished over two thousand years ago.

So close your eyes, pray, take a deep breath, and exhale. Look to Christ, the founder and perfecter of our faith so you can run the next four or possibly eight years with endurance (Hebrews 12:1-2). Be still and know that he is God. He will be exalted among all the nations and all the earth no matter who sits in the Oval Office (Psalm 46:10-11).

Monday, June 6, 2016

Watch the Official Book Trailer for Eirwen's Dream: Inside Snow White's Sleeping Mind.

Get excited! Here is the official book trailer for Eirwen's Dream, the sequel The Jilted Bride! Available for pre-order for Amazon Kindle.

Three months after her father’s death, Princess Eirwen, affectionately nicknamed Snow White, is preparing to become the Queen of Talfryn. Unfortunately, as the princess rises in power and beauty and her love for Prince Roderick blossoms, envy drives her stepmother, Nerys, mad. The widow poisons her stepdaughter with an apple on the eve of her coronation, sending the princess into a dream like none she’s ever had before.
In Eirwen’s Dream: Inside Snow White’s Sleeping Mind, the fair princess sets off through the fantastical realm of Edwig with only a dwarf at her side to face trials and defeat a nefarious queen who acquires her power by bathing in the blood of virgins. However, what will save Eirwen from the poison running through her veins in the waking world, where there is no power in true love’s kiss?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Monday, May 16, 2016

I Was Demetria (How My Heartbreak & Healing Inspired The Jilted Bride)

In The Jilted Bride: A Footnote to Cinderella's Happiness, Demetria is crushed after being left at the altar for Cinderella. Like most women, she struggles with anger toward Cinderella and Prince Caspar and wonders why the charming prince chose a servant over her. It's a story a lot of us can probably relate to. I know I definitely can. While there were no royals, servants, or weddings involved, I had a heartbreak that definitely influenced me while writing this book, and the On This Day app on Facebook reminded me of that inspiration yesterday.

Several years ago, I met a guy who was very much like Prince Caspar. He was good looking, charming, and sought after by quite a few women because while he wasn't a prince, he was the lead singer of a rock band. We actually met because he initiated a conversation with me while I was in line to buy merch for a band he was touring with. I thought he was cute and I'd liked his band's set, so we casually chatted for a little bit and then talked again a few nights later at another tour stop.

Many concerts later in the spring of 2012, I was fresh out of a six month relationship and he'd also recently broken up with his girlfriend. I'd always had a bit of a crush on him for the reasons listed above, so I decided to go for it and tell him at their upcoming show in Dallas. Much to my surprise, he was totally into it and asked me to go out the next night since they had a day off in Texas. Of course, I said yes and was on cloud nine. To make a long story short, I had a great time and we ended the night with a kiss  but on unsure footing because he still wan't over his ex. However, he still wanted to keep talking more so we could get to know each other better and figure out what was next.

After several days of talking and him checking in when he reached the next stop on tour, the communication ground to a screeching halt. No calls. No texts. Nada. I didn't quite know what to think about it until I logged on to Facebook and saw that he'd changed his relationship status to being in a relationship with another girl and all of the likes, comments, etc... that came with such an unforeseen announcement.

I was in shock, and I was livid.

Even though I wasn't in love with him by any stretch of the imagination and we weren't in a relationship, I'd expected more from him than a relationship status change and the cold shoulder since we'd been friends for a couple of years. Insecurity was a big struggle for me, so his rejection also triggered both anger and a stream of questions and comparisons. Was she prettier, cooler, or more interesting than I was? Had I done something wrong? Why wasn't I good enough?

At that point, I wasn't a Christian, so I hadn't been taught how to process through my pain well and to forgive, so that incident also left bitterness in my heart that didn't fully heal until I came to know Christ and realized that I needed to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving to others since God in Christ had forgiven me (Ephesians 4:32). I'd been so hyperfocused on his part in our failed friendship that I couldn't see my own sin or forgive his.

Do I still have some regrets about that situation? Definitely. I wish that I'd been more rational, humble, gracious, and forgiving upfront instead of destroying our friendship by losing my temper and questioning how God created me, but I can't change the past. However, some of that initial pain and resentment I felt helped me write The Jilted Bride: A Footnote to Cinderella's Happiness. In the book, Demetria experiences heartbreak and embarrassment much greater than what I had to deal with, but she finds healing as I eventually did by focusing on something greater than her predicament.

As you read my Cinderella sequel and get to know Demetria, I invite you to think about your own past hurts and failed relationships. Are you holding onto bitterness? Are you letting a past rejection define how you view yourself? I know from personal experience that it can be hard to heal from heartbreak even when it's minor like mine was, but there is one person who can put you back together. Jesus.

He can help you not just forgive but love the people who have hurt you the most and fully, lovingly forgive you for how you've harmed others past, present, and future. While my latest book wouldn't be the same without my heartbreak, Demetria and I wouldn't have a happy ending without the restorative power of Christ. God sent Marianne into Demetria's life to help her with her heartbreak and countless faithful believers into mine to help me heal from the wrongs I'd committed and that others had committed against me. Jesus infinitely better than any fairy god mother, He's real, and He wants you to know Him and the perfect love He has to give.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mirror, Mirror, Upon the Wall... (A Preview of Eirwen's Dream)

What's coming up after The Jilted Bride? In Eirwen's Dream readers will find a new, magic-free twist on Snow White in which the young princess is poisoned by her envious, recently-widowed stepmother the evening before her coronation. Below is the scene in which Nerys decides to take fate into her hands and end her fair stepdaughter's life. For more updates (including the on sale date), follow me on Amazon or like me on Facebook! Also, make sure you check out my Cinderella sequel The Jilted Bride if you need a fairy tale fix before this summer. It's already received three five star editorial reviews and "Hot New Release" status on Amazon.