"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


My wife Nancy believes my memory picks out what it will keep handy and what it will throw away. To her, that choice is based on what is in her interest versus what is in my own interest.         Pleas of innocence, unfortunately, fall on deaf ears, as I must grudgingly admit to some—purely unintentional—consistency in my forgetfulness. On other occasions, however, my memory drops things I desperately want to remember, to my ultimate frustration.         Wouldn't a purposeful, selective memory come in handy? We could remember everything that is important to recall, and forget the thoughts that drag us down or limit our potential. Those we love would benefit from our forgetting their accidental gaffes and offenses. A clean slate can be a beautiful thing.         Memory preserves events from everyone's past, events we would rather forget. Past unthoughtful words, lapses of character and corrupt thoughts that prick our consciences, become lashes that stripe the backs of our minds long after we've begged forgiveness and made reparation.         We recall the guilty feeling we get when a state trooper hangs in our car's rear-view mirror; "How fast am I going? Did I violate some obscure statute and attract his attention to my driving?" What a relief, when his patrol car finally roars past, leaving us to continue down the road without having seen flashing lights in the mirror.         That trooper's vision can't penetrate our minds and consciences, leaving our skelletons safely in their closet. Imagine, however, standing before the all-seeing Judge, weighed down by memories of our past offenses, some of which we have tried to correct, and some we have burried deep in the closets and basements of our minds. His memory has no involuntary dropouts, and you feel naked under his penetrating gaze.         If only we could make some excuse that would matter. If only our goodness could compare in the slightest way to his perfect holiness. The prophet Isaiah gives us the Judge's perspective, But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isa 64:6 KJV)         Since we have no basis on which to cop a plea, what hope do we have for an eternity of peace with God? Jesus' apostle Paul voiced his own despair when considering his personal uncleanness, For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (Rom 7:14-25 NASB)         If this renowned man of God could make no claim of personal righteousness, what of the rest of us?         Contrary to popular Christian lore, Jesus did not come two centuries ago to show us the way to his Father God. Rather, hear his own words, the kernel of his good news to humankind:         Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." (Joh 14:5-7 NASB)         Some feel that such a view is not inclusive enough. They throw out a smoke screen of questions like, "What about all those who have never heard of Jesus?" Or such pseudo-wisdom as, "There are many ways to every destination." Through the crystal-clear eyes of faith, however, we see the absurdity of such questions and philosophies. Jesus' eternal truth contradicts and rides above all human wisdom.         How, then, must we be saved from sin's shackles? God's simple truth is, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom 10:9 NASB)         Jesus said, "And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God." (Luk 12:8 NASB)         And what of all our clever excuses? For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Php 2:9-11 NASB)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Blood of the New Covenant

Matthew 26 27Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. 28This is my blood of the[new] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom."New International Version)         Yeshua, after declaring the cup to hold "my blood of the new covenant," said in vs. 29, "I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on ...." Obviously, He would not contradict His words of only seconds before. He simply referred to the cup as the actual contents it held, rather than the "blood of the new covenant as He had just stated." So, in what sense did He mean, "This is my blood ..."?         He said "this" twice, once referring to it as His blood, and once as "fruit of the vine." Simplistic logic would suggest that He believed His blood was, in fact, wine. His thinking, however, only seems simplistic to those who cannot grasp His eternal perspective through His Holy Spirit's influence.         More likely, Yeshua referred to the cup's contents as His blood because he was about to pass it around to His apostles, indicating that each would share in the New Covenant of His blood. Seems obvious when explained that way.         The Catholic church has long taught that the Communion Cup contains the actual, transubstantiated blood of Yeshua, a teaching that I accepted whole-heartedly as a child. His word, however, does not substantiate(excuse the play on words) this belief.        Without harping on some Catholic conspiracy theory, I must clearly state that the Council of Trent, begun in 1545, officially adopted the doctrine of Transubstantiation as Church dogma. That doctrine, taught informally for about 500 years, was the elaborate rationale of Latin theologians attempting to harmonize the "three Eucharistic controversies," and its name was first coined by Hildebert of Tours around 1079*.        While a "leap of faith" must precede repentance and rebirth in the life of every believer, we must not blindly accept all such abandonment of natural reason, which is the stuff of heresy. Unquestioned acceptance of orthodoxy, on the other hand, can lead to the opposite error of formalism. All believers in Yeshua must weigh every teaching, regardless is source, with a diligent study of His word. * http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05573a.htm#section3

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Dark Pursuit by Brandilyn Collins

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Dark Pursuit

Zondervan (December 1, 2008)


Brandilyn Collins

        This is the third Collins roller coaster I've ridden, and it's as unique as each of her other works.
        Just what does it take to justify murder? Is the compulsion by itself enough? All Craig knows is the horrible job of judgment has fallen upon him. And woe to any mortal who threatens his righteous appointment—even if it is the woman he loves.
        The label, Psychological Thriller, suits this novel more aptly than most of that genre. Not only do we witness the inner struggles of a warped mind, but in Dark Pursuit, the Murderer's twisted rationale comes full-circle, imprisoning him within his own cocoon of self-deceit.


Brandilyn Collins is known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. She is currently working on her 20th book. For chances to win free copies of her work, join her Fan Club on Facebook. Here’s what Brandilyn has to say about why she wrote Dark Pursuit:

In John Milton’s Paradise Lost Satan’s followers, kicked out of heaven, boast about storming the gates and reclaiming their territory. Beelzebub scoffs at their boasting as merely “hatching vain empires” and suggests a different revengeful scheme: seduce mankind away from God. So Satan visits the Garden of Eden to teach humans the very thing he and his cohorts have learned to be futile—the dark pursuit of hatching their own vain empires instead of following God. He presented man with this “gift” of death, disguised as life. And man fell for it.

Upon this theme of man’s fall and spiritual blindness, I created the characters and events in Dark Pursuit. The story clips along at a fast pace, with much symbolism running underneath.


Dark Pursuit—A twisting story of murder, betrayal, and eternal choices

Novelist Darell Brooke lived for his title as King of Suspense—until an auto accident left him unable to concentrate. Two years later, reclusive and bitter, he wants one thing: to plot a new novel and regain his reputation.

Kaitlan Sering, his twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, once lived for drugs. After she stole from Darell, he cut her off. Now she’s rebuilding her life. But in Kaitlan’s town two women have been murdered, and she’s about to discover a third. She’s even more shocked to realize the culprit—her boyfriend, Craig, the police chief’s son.

Desperate, Kaitlan flees to her estranged grandfather. For over forty years, Darell Brooke has lived suspense. Surely he’ll devise a plan to trap the cunning Craig.

But can Darell’s muddled mind do it? And—if he tries—with what motivation? For Kaitlan’s plight may be the stunning answer to the elusive plot he seeks...

Read the first chapter of Dark Pursuit, HERE.