"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.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Operation Bonnet
David C. Cook; New edition (February 1, 2011)
Kimberly Stuart

        Okay, I tried. I really tried. But I couldn't get excited about Operation Bonnet.
        Don't get me wrong; it delivered everything the blurb says, was well-written, and introduced some great characters who, regrettably, didn't have the energy to vault off the page and into my imagination after being given 25% of the book to do so. The best books grab readers in the first paragraph. Great books might do it in the first page or two. A good book needs to hook the reader in the first chapter. Beyond that—well—they have about as much merit as this review.
        If the blurb grabs you, Operation Bonnet may be your cup-of-tea. Otherwise, as the author stated in her bio, you "should move on to another author."

     Kimberly says:
I am a writer of comedic fiction, and would like to suggest that you laugh regularly when reading my books. Let’s also try for one to two teary moments. If you are crying more than that, you don’t understand my sense of humor and should move on to another author.
        I grew up in a book-loving home. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. My mom loves books. My dad loves to read the first chapters of books and then make us all listen as he recites his favorite passages. I, however, enjoy reading books in their entirety and came into writing as a result of book-love. After earning two fancy degrees in education and Spanish, I promptly let the thinking part of my brain take a breather and instead became pregnant. (I’m sure a lot of other things happened between early literacy and pregnancy but I don’t really remember any of that. If you also have shared your uterus with another human, you understand.)
        In an effort to author a book that would entertain my sassy, irreverent, breast-feeding/drooping friends, I wrote my first novel, Balancing Act. People were so nice to me after that, I decided to continue with writing. Also, I can’t craft, knit, or scrapbook, so what else was a nice, Christian girl to do?
        In addition to writing books to make my friends laugh and cry, I observe the chaos at the home I share with my unfailingly supportive husband and three offspring. We’re doing our best and so far, no one’s been to prison.
Twenty-year-old Nellie Monroe has a restless brilliance that makes her a bit of an odd duck. She wants to be a private investigator, even though her tiny hometown offers no hope of clients. Until she meets Amos Shetler, an Amish dropout carrying a torch for the girl he left behind.
        So Nellie straps on her bonnet and goes undercover to get the dish. But though she’s brainy, Nellie is clueless when it comes to real life and real relationships. Soon she’s alienated her best friend, angered her college professor, and botched her case.
        Operation Bonnet is a comedy of errors, a surprising take on love, and a story of grace.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Operation Bonnet, go HERE.
Watch the book video trailer:

Monday, February 21, 2011

Unnatural Acts

       We've come to think of an unnatural act as something perverted. But what if we call it, "Supernatural?" It's still not natural, but the new word somehow redeems the act. Of course, lots of people view supernatural stuff as pure fiction, or plain stupid.
       Look at the way the world works: Love is a quality so rare that some folks spend their lives searching for it, as for hidden treasure. Yet, as much as we hear about love, one would think it is quite common. Adolescent girls huddle together, quietly discussing this boy or that, and wondering if what they are feeling is "true love." If the love bug bites hard enough, a kid might wander home after school and, with a distant gaze, declare to his or her mother, "I think I'm In Love." Then comes the question all parents dread, "How can I know I'm In Love?" As if Mom or Dad is an authority on matters of the heart. Truth be known, most parents are as confused about love as their kids.
       As often as "love" cools and sours, we may as well use it to begin a list of qualities so rare as to be considered unnatural acts. In fact, such a list already exists. And while it's not titled, "List of Unnatural Acts," that's exactly what it is.
       Here is the full listing:
       Properly defined, each of these qualities will be found rare enough in this world to be called unnatural acts. And what does the list's Author call it?
       "The Fruit Of The Spirit."
       Anyone curious enough about what makes these spiritual qualities different from their worldly counterparts will discover their defintions, or exemples, in God's New Testament.
       And their natural counterparts — or counterfeits? That could be a long list indeed, and the subject of many more blog posts. As with most spiritual topics, many will find this unnatural/supernatural/plain-natural discussion counterintuitive(bass-ackward), but in this mixed up world, that's natural.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

They Are Watching Us

            Dial into YouTube and view all sorts of compelling evidence that Aliens are around us, watching us—if not from mysterious spacecraft, then from next door. True Believers expose shadowy government conspiracies and cover-ups whose objective is to ensure the unwashed masses see nothing that will upset the status quo, and threaten the power elite.
            Doesn't that seem like a real conspiracy nut's rant? At least a very small part of such. Reasonable people, among whom we no doubt number ourselves, view such rants as the ignorant assertions of those who really need to get a life.
            Aren't we so very sure of ourselves. As unimaginably broad as is our universe, we readily presume our supremacy over any possible life forms that may have evolved independently from us. For our entertainment, Science Fiction presents a vast array of humanoid, alien life forms based on their assumption that Evolution, as it did for humanity guides all organism's development from the simple to the complex, from activated amino acids floating in the primordial ooze to the ascended beings we have become. And the more innovative Sci-Fi even abandons the traditional, anthropocentric model of possible alien evolution by positing transdimentional, formless, energy-beings occupying their own corner of the vast cosmos.
            Were such beings to exist, why would they even want to communicate with this universe of reactionary, material, temporal organisms? Perhaps, existing beyond our physical constraints, they have adopted values infinitely beyond our petty, materialistic power lust, and believe humanity has potential for rising above our current, thieving aspirations.
            Evolutionary science has progressed beyond the Big Bang Theory, into the burgeoning realm of Quantum Mechanics where literally anything is possible. Given the established possibility of parallel universes and dimensions, what is to prevent us from accepting the possibility of a Master Dimension, by which all subordinate dimensions are ruled, invisible to those of us constricted by a physical existence.
            The ancient Hebrews saw evidence of a transcendent order of being from another, unseen dimension. The Elohim, after perfectly creating the first human beings, chose to reveal Himself to a few, select humans by the name translated to English as the "I Am," or "The Existing One." And why did He choose to do that? The Elohim, having created humankind with certain attributes unique to Himself, proceeded to guide His creation through its inevitable rebellion, ultimately into a right relation with Himself.
            Many narrow-minded individuals reject any such possibilities out-of-hat, unwilling—or unable—to as much as entertain the idea of an order of being superior to exalted humanity and outside our own imaginings. Those who do maintain an open mind may perceive obvious evidences that the arbitrarily skeptical choose to ignore or are unable to see. And such evidences, objectively interpreted, lead them to an awe-inspired respect, even reverence, toward the Elohim. They are less likely than closed-minded skeptics to perpetuate the myth of autonomy, adopted by those who fear the possibility of a Higher Authority than themselves.
            We must open our humanistic eyes and see that all the wrong perpetrated in this world stems from the "One-God-Self" delusion that has ruled humanity from its creation. This includes even those religious fanatics who feel chosen as The Hand of God, to wreak vengeance on the Infidels who happen to disagree with them.
            The great question is, "How can we know who are chosen of Elohim and who are pretending?" The answer is both easy and hard. Elohim's word states simply:
Luke 6:43-44 ESV For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, (44)for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.
            And what is that good fruit alluded to in the Scriptures?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 (English Standard Version)
            The five words beginning that passage hold the key to its correct interpretation: Its title, The fruit of the Spirit, qualifies this unique fruit and sets it apart from any other "good," even similar behaviors.
            So, who is watching us, hidden, invisible, and even estrainged from us? No one we need to fear … if we maintain a mind open to Him.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Going To Pot—Our Highest Calling

            Generations ago, when food prepared in the kitchen was reduced to scraps, the cook simply dumped them into the stew-pot, or the pig-pot, depending on how plentiful the raw materials were. So when someone observed you had gone to pot, it wasn't a complement. Thus, the term's modern use.
            When the Eternal God of Israel wanted to slap His people into shape, He called His prophet Jeremiah to observe a potter at work. (Jeremiah 18:1-6) Jeremiah witnessed a potter terminate his current, ambitious project when he uncovered a fault in the clay. Rather than throw out the whole lump of clay and start over, the potter realized there was still plenty of good clay left on the wheel for a vessel of lesser purpose. God's point? His people Israel had failed repeatedly to conform to the shape for which He chose them. But they were still as clay in His hands, not quite as glorious as they had been, perhaps, but God was determined to work them into a vessel suited for His purpose.
            Okay, good lesson for those old-timey guys, but now it's time we got back to our own lives. Well, hold your horses, cowboy. Don't go ridin' off the potter's wheel into the sunset. You're still raw clay, and God isn't finished with you yet. The decision as to when you're a finished vessel is not yours to make. Have you ever heard of a half-baked pot turning into anything good? Certainly not in God's pottery shop.
            If you're one of those rare Christians who still feels stresses in their lives there's a very good reason for it. Part of the Potter's work is to apply stresses to the whirling clay lump, and if we continue thinking of ourselves as lumps, we won't get all inflated with pride.
            The rest of the process is kind of interesting ... if you're a generic info-geek like me. Once all the pots are in their final shape, dried into bisque, and coated with raw glaze, the potter moves them into the kiln, stacking them carefully and densely for uniform firing. Inside the kiln, heating elements or gas jets slowly bring up the temperature until all the pots glow just the right shade of red.
            But there's a little-known hazard always present in the firing process. If one of the pots contains an air cavity as small as a pinhead, the air will expand in the heat until its pressure explosively fractures the clay surrounding it. A significant air cavity can explode with enough violence to shatter part or all of the potter's batch of vessels.
            Under the heat of final firing, a single pot's fault can ruin not only that pot, but all the potter's hard work. And it's all because of an air bubble. How crucial it is that we not become inflated with our own importance, so that under the heat of firing we won't blow it.