I confess I hate Halloween. When evil is glorified, excuses and justifications are made for that glorification, and all the celebration eclipses that of Thanksgiving, I rarely call the day by it's adopted name.
Yes, as a kid, I celebrated it with costumes, candy, and trick-or-treating. I'm not saying the day was any less evil then, but I didn't understand the significance of that evil nor did my parents. It was fun to dress up and go out to collect the sweets, having little fear of encountering anything or anyone truly evil. "Those were the days, my friend . . . "
Now everything in this world has progressed to more evil, more glorification of that evil, and the underlying celebration of this day is available for anyone who wants to understand its wicked history. Anchored in demonology/witchcraft, Druids, and the practice of evil, Halloween is not a day to be joyfully set apart for children. Trying to ignore and transform its decadent history doesn't make its celebration any more acceptable.
Choose carefully what you celebrate. Just because it's been made into a party doesn't erase or eliminate what it is or was.
Father, may those who follow you choose not to honor this evil date. Help them to understand and teach them the truth to share with those who don't know the enemy of their souls. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Sometimes we need to change our focus and remember the eternal instead of the temporary. God's artwork, designs, magnificence, and, yes, even His hope is evident everywhere on this corrupted planet. He sees. He knows. He even understands. But He also will not compromise His standards. He gave us Jesus to save us. That's the full reward. Take it or leave it. Exchange the ashes of our lives for the beauty of His eternity. Our choice. Always has been. Always will be.
Thank you, Lord. For everything. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Pictured above is Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch. You may or may not be aware of him. Easily one of the best running backs in the NFL, Marshawn has been the target for media sensationalists because of mistakes made in his youthful first job in the league as a Buffalo Bill and one incident as a Seahawk three years ago in the offseason while home in California for which he apologized to fans, management, and the kids who attend his charitable camp.
A fan favorite, Marshawn Lynch is a unique personality known for his refusal to speak to most of the local and national sports media but usually granting one or two interviews per year to particular individuals. His hard-hitting running style, toughness, being "all about that action, boss", and because as long as he has been in Seattle, he has given it his all on the football field have made him one of the 12's absolute favorites.
This past couple of weeks the sports' so-called journalists and reporters have invented and fabricated stories about him and other players in the Seahawks' locker room creating visions of discord among players, writing and reporting things such as some players feeling QB Russell Wilson "isn't black enough" according to "anonymous sources", and that Marshawn would be traded before the deadline yesterday because management was tired of his antics, and Marshawn was bitter toward management. The sports radio personalities debated and discussed these rumors for hours, coming to the conclusion there must be "some" truth to them.
Who would've believed that reporting on professional football could morph into using the same tactics as the mainstream media by making up lies, speculating on their own imaginative and projected and entirely made up opinions, force-feeding derogatory information about specific players implying that, because they've "heard" these rumblings, they're supposed to be unquestionably true?
Most of the media, now including the NFL-covering media, have become totally untrustworthy, prejudicial, and unreliable with their information and "scoops". The reporters are no more accurate than Hollywood gossip columnists and equally as offensive.
Personally, I don't blame any football player who refuses to speak to the media. After what has been said and written about Marshawn Lynch and others on the Seahawks team, the sports media have lost all credibility. Outright lies have been printed and spoken about players with no reprisals for their inaccurate reporting. It's a sad commentary on the media in general when the reporters' egos transcend realistic and truthful information gathering and sharing. I, for one, trust nothing they report just like with the mainstream media in the political arena. Truth no longer matters to them. Only their opinions and perceptions without fact-based data motivates them.
Shame on them all. They ruin lives, make false impressions, hurt people, do damage, and get up each day to repeat the process.
Father, we are all sinners, lost, slaves to the flesh without you. Jesus, we're desperate for you. Holy Spirit, convict hearts and bring change to each one of us that we may honor you instead of dishonor you. Please. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Storywriters everywhere must make umpteen decisions about what names to use for their characters. The era, the location, the ethnicity, and many more particulars often play into what a character is ultimately named.
The commonality, diversity, and unique factors all participate in what names characters receive by their creators. If you've ever read a novel where you struggle to pronounce the name of a character, you know how distracting and time consuming it can be if you wind up obsessing over it. If a name seems too elegant for the person to whom it's assigned, or too rugged, or too obtuse, or too just wrong, you see quickly how important the right name can be.
Sometimes a writer will choose names with symbolic meanings or origins to add to the depths of characters. Some authors use baby books, books of names, other nationalities, even obituaries to select their characters' names.
When an author gets it just right along with a good story, the name of a character might stick with you forever. Imprinted on your memory like a good friend, an everlasting enemy, or a quirky acquaintance, names impact us . . .
Father, the Name above all names is everlasting, eternal, and provides our salvation. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Authors of fiction take special care to use just the right words to tell their stories. If they write "literary" prose, it seems the "pretty" words come out to play. If they write thrillers, the exciting, precision-based wording to incite the most tension surfaces. If they write fantasy, words of all kinds can show up - even made up languages. Words pack the punches, whether they be pillow soft, with intricate lace-like beauty, or fun-filled humor, or intensely crafted thrills.
Words can be slimly measured (think Hemingway), lush and emotional (maybe like Fitzgerald), scary but technical, imaginative and incredibly attractive (Steven James, Robert Liparulo), deeply penned with innate sensitivity and beauty (Sibella Giorello), or specific, action-packed, informed and intelligent (the wonderful late Vince Flynn). There's a smorgasbord of words used to give just the right touch, tone, and tenor to stories.
We love the pretty words, but in essence when used well to tell a great story, they're all "pretty" words.
Father, thank you for the communication of words, to be able to tell stories with words, to touch hearts with words, to say meaningful things with words. Thank you most of all for your Word. We need it above all others. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep. . . . "
Indie author Karin Kaufman writes cozy mysteries with an edge. Not your typical "cozy" mystery, Karin'sAnna Denning Mysteries feel like the complex yet simple tales of an ordinary widowed genealogist who gets herself into all kinds of trouble while just trying to do her job and be a part of her small town Colorado community. Her companion in trouble is the cyber newswoman and Anna's best friend Liz who operates a news site which has continued to expand its viewership. The Sacrifice is Book 3 in the series which began with The Witch Tree and was followed by Sparrow House. Karin has also published three other books, the most unusual of which is the somewhat speculative All Souls, the first in the Gatehouse Thriller Series.
When Anna is invited to speak about genealogies at the Elk Park Historical Society's meeting, it seems odd to her that the man who extended the invitation is not present. Instead a woman by the name of Clovis leads the group, but it isn't long into the meeting before there is some kind of tension. When a member gets a call, everyone finds out the absent man has been brutally murdered at the historical house the group is restoring by the bee hives which made the house famous.
Clovis privately informs Anna that the dead man, her close friend Russell, had wanted to hire Anna to dig into two of the members' pasts. Now he couldn't explain the reasons for his curiosity, but Clovis dutifully fulfills his wishes, hiring Anna, and handing over the skimpy folder of what Russell had discovered. Anna realizes she needs to get out to the old house to try to figure out what exactly Russell had hoped she could find.
It isn't long before the super sleuthing of Anna and Liz realize the sordid mess, original names, and demonic agendas of a few of the historical society's members. They learn it's precisely this kind of information that probably got Russell murdered. He's not the first victim of a ritualistic murder at the old house and he's not going to be the last.
Karin Kaufman has created a meaningful character in Anna Denning, a tough but tender woman who has survived the loss of her husband, and is beginning to realize she's falling in love with the man Gene who helped her in The Witch Tree. So hard for her to leave the memories of Sean behind, but she knows this man has been patient, never pushy or demanding of their relationship, and she senses he truly cares for her. Her feelings are starting to match his. The romance is low-key and works in the undercurrent of the story, never the focal point.
Faith plays a quiet role as Anna's renounced past with witchcraft aids her in the demonology of certain characters.
I've enjoyed Karin's voice and multiple characters in the Anna Denning Mysteries. She's released this book at the perfect time since the main event in this story takes place on Halloween. Never glorifying evil but instead identifying it for what it truly is, I give Karin credit for this exposure. If you enjoy what I call a cozy mystery with a definite edge, I recommend you start with The Witch Tree and continue through to The Sacrifice. With all kinds of interesting information in each novel, Karin strings together a tangled web of deceit, fear, and creepy characters into her well done mysteries.
Father, be close to Karin. Continue to inspire new stories just for her to tell. Bless her in all she does, Lord. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I grew up in the "drugs, sex, rock 'n' roll" generation. I'm not proud of my generation when feminism erupted, "free" love became the identifying phrase of the times, the Viet Nam war raged, and drug taking introduced people to new addictions. The highlight of that time was some of the best music and most talented musicians creating a wealth of truly great tunes. Rock 'n' roll gained fame and fortune for many, but of course it came with its costs such as drug overdoses and addictions.
One of the talented musicians of the day, who grew up in the church, Mylon LeFevre, allowed his talent to outshine his faith and fell into the troubles of the times with some of the best of that day. Like many of them, he ended up in treatment. When he regained his faith, he committed to Jesus, humbled himself, and left his music behind, but a wise pastor explained that God didn't give him his talent to be tucked away and hidden. Eventually, Mylon reunited with a guitar, formed his band Broken Heart. and made some of the best Christian rock to ever be played.
Sharing a couple of those songs with you here.
Father, you are the Rescuer, the Redeemer, the Ressurect-er. Jesus, thank you is never enough. Holy Spirit, thank you for never giving up on us. Please continue to bless Mylon in all he does for your Name. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
We've discussed differing opinions here in reading and about writing ad nauseam. But it never ceases to amaze me when two readers who are usually fairly like-minded hold two opposite opinions of the same novel. Especially when it's a book I loathed for every possible reason. Or one I loved and the contrary opinion matches my enthusiasm.
This presents the obvious reason for writers not to assume they will capture a particular audience's fancy. You just can't please everyone. As a writer, you try to isolate to whom your story might appeal, and if you're not "greedy" about it, you'll probably be right. Note the genre, the tone and voice, the subject matter or theme, the types of characters and shoot for the target readers.
Sometimes I think Christian authors are naïve about audiences. I've heard multiple authors insist they write for "all" markets. Not hardly. And that's precisely what I mean about being "greedy". When some secular readers give one-star reviews because of a low-key mention of God, Jesus, or a quick prayer, you're foolish to think your Christian worldview will "sneak" by them or not offend them. Some people just want to be offended.
One thing's for sure: there are plenty of novels to go around. Literally millions, old and new, to satisfy the hordes of diverse readers. And though we have similar tastes with some of our fellow friends and readers, there will always be a couple of books where we can't share the same opinion.
We write to tell the stories we want to read.
Father, thank you for the wonders of writing stories. Apart from you, I can do nothing. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Getting outside oneself to take a clearer perspective requires us to look away from immediate circumstances to things much larger than the limited capacity of the here and now. Sometimes this is necessary to alleviate the current difficulties, thereby realizing "the plan" is so much bigger than our singular lives. Sometimes it's necessary to escape the boredom of routine and the consternation resulting from trying to accentuate life in general. And sometimes it's simply to realize this huge space above and beyond us and even all around us isn't random, unstructured, or even simplistic. It's far greater than the most gifted, the most intelligent, and the most imaginative minds in our world can create.
God built this world, the universes, and all that occupy them. In all the years of human life as we know it, mankind still cannot cure the common cold, has not discovered all the diseases and certainly not how to cure them, has never learned how to get along for any length of time without resorting to war over the most noble of causes and the most absurd. God did not build the sin into us. He gave us a choice. We made the wrong one and continue to do so on a daily basis.
There is one remedy, one solution, one answer to all the ills and sorrows of this life. His Name is Jesus. He gave His life that we could have that perfect life in eternity that we can never attain or achieve in our humanity on earth. No matter what we do, we will never be perfect. We won't even be good for long stretches of time. We're sinners. And Jesus is the only Way, Truth, and Life for us.
He's mocked. He's lied about. His followers make terrible mistakes and often demonstrate extreme hypocrisies, but He is faultless. He is the deliverer of mankind. The only one offered. The only one needed. He's the Savior of the world.
If you look up into the far off skies and wonder about who, how, and when, ask God to speak to you. Really. Ask Him to tell you about Himself. But don't ask if you don't want to know the answer, the reality of who He is. He knows your heart and your mind. He sees into your soul. He doesn't mess around.
As mad and evil as the world is leaning, we ache for justice and truth. There's only One place to find them. He's never been gone or absent. He's always been present. However, He doesn't impose His will. He offers it. Through Jesus. Don't delay. Wickedness increases. Ugliness is grabbing hold of hearts. Accept salvation while you can.
Father, hear the cries of empty hearts. Turn the Holy Spirit loose to call out to the lost. Let Jesus show them what real love looks like and wrap them in His arms when they surrender their wicked ways to His perfect ones. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.