Story Excerpts

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Blood of Christ Reaches...How Far?

(I'm posting this primarily for a hurting friend who won't leave my mind, and thought it appropriate, given the approach of Easter. Is anyone going to stay up to see the blood moon? I am, but it may be too cloudy to see.)

I accepted Jesus as a young child and can't remember a time when I didn't know Him, though I did toy with the idea of walking away at one point--wish I had told you about that. Maybe that will be another post. :-)

I remember sitting in the backseat of my family's car--I couldn't have been older than ten--tormented by the possibility that I might commit a sin, then die suddenly (car wreck, etc.) and find myself in hell after all. I would cover my ears with my hands, trying to shut out thoughts of making fun of God's Holy Spirit, afraid I'd committed the unforgivable sin, even without wanting to. Sometimes I would end up in tears. 

I lived in fear.

My mom took an Evangelism Explosion class at my church around the time I was sixteen or seventeen, and one night, she asked me to help her drill the points of the Gospel. While listening to her, I was struck with revelation. A revelation that changed my life, and freed me torment.

If Jesus was indeed the Lamb of God, the perfect atonement for the sin of mankind, wouldn't His sacrifice cover every sin made by every human--from Adam and Eve, to those living in the days of Armageddon? Did He not take all sin upon His Person? Past, present and future sins? My past, present and future sins?

The Scripture is clear that a person must accept Jesus as Lord and Savior in order for that provision to be applied to their life as an individual, but the concept that His Blood only covers our sin "to a point", e.g., the moment of salvation, last confession? (I don't buy 1 John 1:9, Romans 3:25, and 2 Peter 1:9 as a good argument.) To me, its equating the Blood of the Lamb of God, with the blood of sheep and bulls. It's making His sacrifice less than perfect. Less than, "it is finished". And why would God tear the temple curtain in half if sin after salvation could put you back to square one? 

Okay, before you start hissing at the computer and moving your screen arrow up to the red "X", I don't believe that we can live like a heathen after reciting the sinner's prayer, because Kumbaya, we're going to heaven regardless. I agree that salvation is dependent upon placing one's trust in Jesus, confessing Him as Lord, and repenting (turning away) from sin. That's Biblical.

And here's the thing: Christians can still fall off the wagon. And they do. I do. 

You wanna know the difference between an unbeliever and a sinning believer?

Heart condition. 

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Those whom the Holy Spirit indwells will be messed up for enjoying a state of sin. It will bother them. It will eat away at their peace of mind, making them miserable until they've confessed and asked for God's forgiveness and help in taking steps toward repentance.

When I read those Scriptures regarding apostasy and throwing branches into the fire, (Hebrews 6, Matthew 7, John 15, etc), I see hearts hardened toward God, blind and steeped in deception. People who've brushed aside conviction and embraced their will for so long, they're unresponsive to Truth, and deaf to His Voice (if they ever heard it).

Spiritual sensitivity. 

That's a recognizable difference between an honest-to-goodness child of God who struggles with a particular sin, falling into the same traps over and over and over again, and a reprobate who lives in an unrepentant state. It can feel like the same case to us, because we look in horror at the amount of times we've dropped the ball with that one thing, and can't imagine God being willing to forgive us again

I love the idea that God transcends time. Omnipresent in the realm of time, and outside of it. He sees us living out our days, hour by hour, moment by moment, and He also sees our entire lives, all at once. God sees us in our struggle with sin--the times we slide into the old, familiar sin patterns, and the moment we overcome and win the battle, simultaneously.

So with that in mind, that God sees us as we will be, that He knows the end before we do--isn't it safe to accept the knowledge that He forgave us at the cross, once and for all time? (I'm implying a given, that we truly have the Holy Spirit on the inside of us, and won't one day embrace sin and reject steps toward repentance so many times we end up hardening our hearts and falling into dangerous deception. And while we're hanging out in parenthesis, I'm not saying that confessing one's sins isn't necessary.)

I have a hard time imagining God sitting on His throne in heaven, seeing all He does, knowing all He does... How would limited forgiveness work anyway? Is God constantly erasing and rewriting names in the Book of Life? Does the Holy Spirit constantly leave and return to a believer, depending upon confession? I just can't see it that way.

I love you, my friend, and I hope this blessed you. :-)

Scriptures to ponder...

"For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice." (Hebrews 9:24-26 NLT)

"So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God's Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him 'Abba, Father'. For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children." (Romans 8:1,15-16 NLT)

"You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross." Colossians 2: 13-15 NLT)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Good Idea

Never underestimate the power of a second pair of eyes. :-)

After months of mulling over my TWOI rewrite, I knew something was keeping the story in Mediocre Land (Awkward City), but I couldn't put my finger on what exactly. So I turned to my writer buddies with the first ten chapters and pleaded for help. And one buddy did uncover what evaded me...

My manuscript has a split personality. (I shouldn't be surprised that it reflects its author's indecision regarding genres.) It can't decide whether it wants to be laugh-out-loud comedy, or dramatic and intense.

And then Writer Buddy threw me this question: "could it be a Historical RomCom in disguise?"

A Historical Romantic Comedy?

My first reaction was, Good idea, but me? I have my moments, but I'm not that funny. And then, my favorite movies paraded across my mind. Bringing Up Baby, White Christmas, Undercover Blues, The Scarlet Pimpernel... The Shakespeare comedies, specifically, The Comedy of Errors. There's definitely a theme connecting my favorites.

But can I write comedy? Though I have managed amusing story scenes (stumbled across them completely by accident), and even pulled off a funny hero, humor doesn't bubble out of me when I talk or blog or write, and if it does, its not planned. A Historical RomCom? *gulp*

In order to save TWOI from the "ideas" folder, I need to take a risk, and giving the story a focus on funny is a brilliant idea. The worst that could happen? I waste time on a disastrous rewrite that is far from amusing. Definitely a risk worth taking. And if God is behind this, it will work. I just need push aside my insecurities and write it through.

And here's a "whoa" moment... After talking to God about this, I opened up Pinterest, and saw this crafty, little quote staring back at me.

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My writer buddy suggested reading Jen Turano's novels. Do you have some recommendations for a good RomCom read?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Girl In the Gatehouse: A Book Review

Did you know that horses shed? I didn't. And clippers are responsible for the magic transition from shaggy winter coats to sleek, summer short-hair. Had no clue. Things that make you go "huh".

Anyway, on to the book review . . .

Mariah's past mistakes have cost her everything--her family, her reputation, her chance for love and marriage. Banished to a gatehouse on her aunt's estate, Mariah prepares for a spinster's life with her companion, Dixon.

This Regency was a pleasant surprise. Instead of another relational-focused romance destined to lose me before halfway through, I discovered a brave and compelling heroine who knows the struggle of building a life after devastating choices, a heroine who also loves to write novels, dreams of publication, but shrinks at the prospect of the public discovering her identity. The gatehouse she makes her home in is two-storied with castle turrets--it captured my imagination, and made me want to live in an old gatehouse myself!

I have a particular interest in the maritime culture of the eighteenth and nineteenth century (meaning I love pirates), and the hero's background as a naval war hero definitely earned him points. Which he needed. He was enamored with a another young lady for most of the story . . . I guess Mariah was a bit distracted too, but his came in loud and clear (think Austen's Persuasion, not my favorite of hers). I don't know, but to me, the hero's bumbling responses to his growing attraction and feelings toward Mariah made him seem a bit careless with her. My friends have loved and raved about this book, so other readers may not get the same vibe from the hero's emotional tug-of-war, which is well-written.

A subtle mystery helps keep interest alive, and the subplots align beautifully. I appreciated the way a neighboring poorhouse stood as a reminder of what awaited Mariah, should she fail in her career endeavors, and that it also played a role in the mystery's resolution. (Sorry, my plot nerd is showing.) Fans of Jane Austen works and Regency Fiction are sure to enjoy this one--fans of Persuasion, in particular--as well as those who like Historical Romance.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I'm Still Alive & Writing

It's Wednesday night, a totally off-day for blogging. I didn't plan the blogging break I've enjoyed over the past couple of weeks. Normally, I'd announce such a break beforehand, and perhaps even line up a guest post or two to keep the ball rolling.

But how many know that life will sometimes throw you surprises you cannot plan and prepare for?

This was a good surprise. 

For the past two years, life has been absolutely insane. Living with family, moving from one state to another, battling storm after storm. It was a path Hubs and I chose trying to do good and please God, but looking back, its hard to see anything but pain and loss.

A week ago, we were given the opportunity to rent a guest house on a ranch. We took the plunge, and at long last, me and the hubs and kid are enjoying our own space. Lots of space and country quiet, just as I'd wanted. God is good. The sky is a wonder to see at night, my son is happy, and I am learning more and more about horses.

I want to start blogging every Tuesday again, but routine is still evading me, and I still have a lot of work to do on my manuscripts. So I will stick with last month's plan of action for now--ramblings on the first Tuesday of the month, and book talk (if not reviews) on the third Tuesday.

So what have I missed with you? How have you all been?