My Books

Sunday, December 27, 2015

God Honoured - A Valley of Vision Puritan Prayer

Praise waiteth for thee,
      and to render it is my noblest exercise;
This is thy due from all thy creatures,
  for all thy works display thy attributes
    and fulfil thy designs;
The sea, dry land, winter cold, summer heat,
morning light, evening shade are full of thee,
  and thou givest me them richly to enjoy.

Thou art King of kings and Lord of lords;
At thy pleasure empires rise and fall;
All thy works praise thee and thy saints bless thee;
  Let me be numbered with thy holy ones,
resemble them in character and condition,
  sit with them at Jesus’ feet.

May my religion be always firmly rooted in thy
  my understanding divinely informed,
  my affections holy and heavenly,
  my motives simple and pure,
  and my heart never wrong with thee.

Deliver me from the natural darkness of
    my own mind,
  from the corruptions of my heart,
  from the temptations to which I am exposed,
  from the daily snares that attend me.
I am in constant danger while I am in this life;
Let thy watchful eye ever be upon me
    for my defence,
Save me from the power of my worldly and
    spiritual enemies
  and from all painful evils to which I have
    exposed myself.
Until the day of life dawns above
  let there be unrestrained fellowship with Jesus;

Until fruition comes, may I enjoy the earnest
    of my inheritance
    and the firstfruits of the Spirit;
Until I finish my course with joy may I pursue
    it with diligence,

  in every part display the resources of the Christian,
  and adorn the doctrine of thee my God
    in all things."

- "God Honoured" from The Valley of Vision, published by Banner of Truth

Friday, December 18, 2015

Goodbye to the Penguin Parabaloni

Well, it's the last day. Tomorrow Adélie Angst releases, and my bizarre "Four Books, Four Months" endevour is over. I got to say hello to one book, and goodbye to three. I'm not going to have to edit Reign Falls, Solitaire, or Adélie Angst again, unless some random urge takes me. It's a strange thing to say goodbye to a book that you've worked with for years. Adélie Angst, Parabaloni 5, was my NaNo book in 2013; its been over two years now that I've poured over it, taken it apart, rewritten parts, diced it, chopped it, spliced it, and then decided I didn't like the changes and started all over again. Solitaire has always given me fits, as I mentioned in another post. But Adélie Angst has always stayed basically the same, through every edit. It's the fairly minor things that have gotten changed, because the plots and points of this book I've always been content with, from conception, to writing, through about fifty different edits. No, not just content; I've always liked the bizarre plotline of this story, as well as the adventures of the mismatched American spies, as they try to figure it all out and stop the crazy bad-guy.

I remember that National Novel Writer's Month two years ago, November rolled around and I shrugged my shoulders and said to myself, "I want to write a fun book." In the four Parabaloni stories I had already written the footnotes and random comments were always hinting at these crazy, outrageous cases the spies had been involved with, like saving the world on numerous occasions. They hadn't done anything that impressive in the other books... so I decided to let them do something unbelievable in this one, and hang the realistic feel. My file from when I first started plotting Adélie Angst is still saved as, "Outrageous Parabaloni Plotline." I think I succeeded, and still managed to keep it believable. Okay, maybe almost believable is a better description. It's really taken until now, after having run through it extensively in the past weeks, to get me bored with this book. It's always been a fun read, with a plot that I really enjoy, and that  teaches people something extraordinarily simple and profound about Christianity. Our worldview doesn't ignore the angst, and pain, and illogical sorrow of the world; but it offers a beginning without it, and a way into joy everlasting at the end. We have hope with Christianity.

I had fun writing this book. And I encouraged myself too. It's more than just hopeful to remember we serve a smart God, as well as a real One, a God who knows exactly what the humanity He created needs, and makes sure to fulfill our every longing. No service is trivial, because He cares what we do. Every  sharp longing for beauty, lasting joy, truth, it has a defining purpose and foundation in our God. I hope the thing you come away with from this book is the simplicity and beauty of the gospel.

"By Thy own eternal Spirit  rule in all our hearts alone; by Thine all sufficient merit, raise us to Thy glorious throne." -Charles Wesley

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The God Who Is Not Just There

Every so often, I look at something that I’ve known my whole life, and see it differently. That’s part of the joy of living as a human, to realize there’s always something new to see and learn. This year as I’m listening to the Christmas music, and enjoying all the beautiful lyrics, I noticed a common theme that I've glossed over before. It was this line that first jumped out at me and got me thinking:

“Come to earth to taste our sadness…[1]

When tragedy strikes, or you just wake up grumpy, knowing you’re going to need grace to get you through the day without chewing someone’s head off, one of the only comforts is to know that God is not only there, but that He sympathizes. In the horrible times, or our off-days, or the instances of great happiness where we just want someone to know how glad we are, we don’t just want a God who is there. We want a God who knows what it is to be here.

Because of Christmas, the Christian Christ sympathizes with His people.

When Christ was born, He came out crying; confused, cold, probably terrified. He came with the sensation all new babies seem to arrive with, “What is happening to me?!”  Those were His first moments as Emanuel. Jesus Christ knows what it is to cry. He knows what it is to have frustrating siblings. To be hungry. To be tired from a long trip. To have a friend die.

Because Jesus came down, at Christmas time, He is not just a God who is there. Up there somewhere above our earth looking down at all of us strange little things down here. No matter how good, or benevolent, a divinity might be ‘up there’ it would never fulfill all of what we want and need in a God. Nor is he is a life force, imbuing the air, water, and earth all around us, but entirely incapable of understanding our personal individuality. Jesus is one of us. He was born. Here, on this dirty old earth. Assaulted even by sleepless nights that caused grumpy days; but He navigated them without sin. He was loved, betrayed, laughed at, laughed with, tired, refreshed, angered, delighted, amazed… Christ knows what we have raging and delighting inside of us. We have a God who sympathizes. We come to Him in our trials and He has the entirely unique ability to tell His children exactly what we need to hear:

“I know, beloved, I’ve been there; behave yourself anyway, I’ll help.”

[1] “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus by Charles Wesley