The Hero’s Journey

It’s been a while since I’ve done a post specifically about writing, and since a friend of mine has begun work on his own novel, I thought it would be a good time to give a little more advice. Today, I’m going to map out the journey your protagonist is planned to go on. This is a general guideline, and is by no means meant to be the be all and end all, just a guideline where you can gain some inspiration. That’s one of the great things about writing, you can break the rules!

Alright, so the first step in the journey isn’t really a step for our hero at all. And like I said before, it can be broken, but usually in the beginning the hero will encounter some sort of messenger, whether that be a person, a vision, or anything that foreshadows or gives the hero a low-down of what’s going on. In the Pilgrim’s Progress, this is the Evangelist of the story.

Step two is where the hero begins to unravel to the problem ahead. This step presents the main problem our hero must face. It’s the main plot introduction, which leads onto the next step: The Decision.

This is where the hero needs to make his decision. To solve whatever problem is facing him (or the town he’s in), or to run away. Obviously, unless your hero is a stubborn coward (like mine are sometimes!), you’ll no doubt let your hero decide to solve the problem presented.

Nest up the challenge is presented. This is where the hero realizes what he has to do to stop the problem. This usually happens multiple times in the novel, because there are many challenges in the way which must be overcome in order to solve the main problem. Once your hero has made the decision to go, there’s no turning back, unless of course you want to take the next step: the Refusal.

A realistic hero will always debate with some sort of refusal or hesitation. He’ll probably think, “Uh uh, there’s no way I’m doing that. You can just forget it.” Sound familiar? A lot of novels use this step to give their hero some solid ground in reality to stand upon. Unless of course your hero is a superhero, and even then, refusal is a valuable tool.

Once your hero has gotten over the refusal stage (sometimes with some help from another character), we then get on to the exciting bit: taking the first step. This is the first real step your hero takes on his journey. This is where he leaves the comfort of his own home, whether it be literal of metaphorical, and sets off on the dangerous journey. For example, this is where Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress begins the journey to the Celestial City.

Somewhere along the line though, your hero is going to have some trouble, and this is where the next step comes in: The helper. This is where the second character takes place to fight along side your hero, whether for that one scene, or for the remainder of the story.

Now we’re getting to the final steps. This is where the hero begins to really ware out. After facing so many challenges, your hero should be at his lowest. Worn out and defeated. And after a quick revelation, maybe from the aforementioned helper or another sign, we get on to the next step: The Rise.

This is where the hero rises again, regroups, and leads them into the final battle with the main foe.

The next step is pretty obvious: The Showdown. Obviously, you’ll already know what that is, the glorious (or sometimes not so glorious) final battle. It’s where your hero will either live or die.

If your hero survives the fight, and the foe is defeated, you will then move on to the final step: The Resolution. Everyone celebrates and crowns the hero with honor. This is the happy ending to your story.

So I hope this has helped. Like I said before, it’s just a guideline, and is not meant to be the final say in your novel. But all good novels have at least two of three of these steps, so have fun with it! And to my newest novelist, I hope this gives you some inspiration for your own novel. You’ve just begun one of the greatest adventures you’ll ever take, and like the heroes in the Christian movies always say, God speed!

Brady Toops: Self-titled Album Review

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Worship music and I don’t really get along, basically because most of it, in my opinion, is stale and lifeless. You can just tell when they’re truly worshiping, or if they like to be the spotlight, and just use worship music to get there. Sadly, there are very few worship artists these days that are truly genuine in their devotion to the Lord. And with that stale emotion, comes stale music. I’m sitting here, crying out for the real thing, and not just some live worship record that repeats the same cliched phrases over and over again. Thankfully, my cries have been answered, because indie artist Brady Toops has released his full length debut album, and is it a beauty.

The album begins with By the River, a beautiful opener that lulls you in with Brady’s rich and emotion laden voice, and just by this song alone, I knew I wasn’t getting just another worship artist trying to sound like the next big thing. This guy is genuine, and his music is his own. The music of By the River, and most of this album, makes you feel like you’re in a rich green forest, sitting by the river, stumming softly on your guitar, and worshiping with all your heart.

Along with By the River, Golden Bell adds a good dose of gang vocals into the mix, and it really lifts the song to new heights. The oh-oh’s in the chorus are beautiful, even celestial. This is amplified even more in Lord have Mercy.

Another highlight, Glorious Name, is the celebratory song of the record, and really makes you feel like you’re worshiping with the angels.

Come on Home really highlights Brady’s incredible voice, and brings you to tears in this song about the prodigal son.

I admit, I was a bit skeptical with the inclusion of Swing Low Sweet Chariot, but was interested to see how Brady would carry it out. Again, he takes the song to a new level, and I was blown away, especially with the new bridge, and the ever brilliant gang vocals.

Soon and Very Soon is a cover of the old hymn. A beautiful piece of poetry that is absent of all instruments. With only Brady’s voice, and a small choir backing him up, that’s all this song needs, and it’s a very peaceful moment on the record.

My personal favourite, Make Your Home, has everything a good worship song needs, and more. It has the best buildup of the entire album, and it really pays off in the end.

O For Grace ends the album on the highest note of them all, with the final half of the song completely instrumental, it allows time to think over what you just heard, and offers a beautiful time of personal worship.

The only song I wasn’t fond of from the first listen was Reckless Love, simply because it leaned into the generic territory a bit too much, and it doesn’t quite capture the beauty of the other songs. But, it builds with a triumphant bridge that nearly redeems the entire song. It’s definitely not a bad song, it just fades a little in comparison to the other amazing songs on this record.

Overall, Brady Toop’s self-titled is a true gem of a worship album. Full of rich emotions, faultless melodies and harmonies, and just beautiful music and vocals, this is a must have for any music lover. Fans of up tempo, live worship albums may have to look elsewhere, but for those who want worship and artistry along side each other, Brady Toops easily delivers.

As a gift for the one year anniversary of the record, Brady is giving it away as a free download legally for a limited time. Here’s the link: Brady Toops: Brady Toops, noisetrade.com

4.5/5

Thousand Foot Krutch: Oxygen:Inhale Review

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TFK has been in the business since the late nineties, and since going independent in 2011, they’ve shown no signs of slowing down. Their first venture into the independent world, The End is Where We Begin, fused all their styles together, from rap, rock, metal, and balladry to produce one of their best albums to date, and today they follow it up with a new two part album series titled, Oxygen.

Part one of the series, Oxygen:Inhale, is the natural follow up to the End, and it takes a different turn from what most fans are used to. Of course we still have the rawk (the TFK term) songs, but they have also taken a more southern rock twist with these songs, and after a quick listen through the samples, a much slower album to what we’re used to. But that doesn’t mean it’s void of any rock, like I said before, half of the album is solid, classic rock and roll, and because it’s TFK, Trevor inserts his signature rap style vocals into the mix, and is especially apparent in Born This Way and Untraveled Road.

The idea of oxygen, Trevor explained, was that we need to not take half breaths, but full breaths. We’re not to just be living day by day like we have forever, but to live everyday like it’s our last. We must take in all God has for us, and leave nothing behind.

Lyrically, what’s most pleasing about this record is that it’s a whole lot more worshipful than previous ventures. Though TFK have always included God clearly in their lyrics, it’s never been so blatant as it is on this record. Over half of the record takes the worship approach, without it ever sounding like a run of the mill worship tune, and it will please most worship fans, including myself! The devotion and love for God Trevor and the boys show on this record is intense, and not since Needtobreathe’s Multiplied have I seen such emotion poured out. Trevor’s voice is simply incredible, and all who have read my review on the Masquerade album, know his is a voice not to be reckoned with. He’s reaching new highs I’ve never heard him reach before, and it’s definitely enough to get the blood pumping.

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So how does Inhale compare to Masquerade, or even the End is Where We Begin or Phenomenon? Let’s have a look.

The album begins with Like a Machine. A song that’s sure to get the blood pumping and the party started. Not deep lyrically, but a fun opener nonetheless.

Untraveled Road is where the album really begins to show it’s spiritual side. A song about walking the path less traveled, the narrow road. Trevor sings in the chorus, “We walk, where no one wants to go, on this untraveled road!” A battle anthem that’s sure to make you want to walk the life of Christ instead of talk it, because, “Light shines brighter in the dark.”

Born This Way is another rocker, but this has a lot more of a classic, southern feel to it that puts a big smile on your face. It’s about being comfortable in your own skin, and not trying to live like someone you aren’t. We’re all God’s children, and each one is unique. We’re all equally loved by God, no matter who we are.

Set Me On Fire is the first worship song on the record, and boy it’s catchy. A pop song at heart, but it still feels like TFK. Simply about God setting us on fire with His love. Not sure if we’ll see it in church, but it would be amazing if it did.

Give It to Me is the final full on rock song on the record, matching the heaviness of Born This Way and Like a Machine. Trevor plays with the high range of his voice magnificently in the verses, and like Born This Way, is just a fun song about God taking our burdens off our shoulders.

I See Red brings it down a notch, but picks up again in the latter half. A fun light rock song about the saving power of the blood of Jesus. In the final half, you just want to sing along as Trevor sings, “We can run, we can hide, but we can’t live without it. It’s the same in us, takes the blame in us.”

Light Up takes a beautiful acoustic turn, and leads the way into the softer half of the record. It displays Trevor’s falsetto perfectly, though at times it does get just a little overbearing. A simple love song that can either be about a romance or as worship to the Lord.

In My Room is lyrically, one of the best TFK songs to date! About a teenager facing abuse from those around him, so he goes into his room, and cries out, “They make me feel so empty, their words they cut like knives. You tell me to forgive them, but I’m not sure I’ll survive. I’m not sure if it’s a good time, or even if you’re home. It’s a long, long way from your throne, but can you meet me in my room?” A tear inducing song, and a must listen.

Oxygen takes a full on worship route, and it does so brilliantly. My personal favourite on the record, it brings chills each time, and is full of God’s presence. Declaring that God is our oxygen, and that we have no life without Him.

Final song, Glow, takes a country turn, and is one of the best on the record, and in my opinion, the perfect closer. It begins with the chilling words, “Today I died in search of you.” Again, so much devotion for the Lord. This song reminds me of the cry of Elisha after Elijah went up in the chariot of fire. He cried for Elijah’s anointing, or nothing. In this song, Trevor sings, “Burn me bright, or let me go, make me stronger on the inside. Hold me tight, or just let go, because I don’t want it if I can’t glow.”

Overall, TFK have definitely passed their last album, and maybe even Welcome to the Masquerade. With half of the album rock, the other half ballads and worship, this is sure to have something for everyone to love, even if you’re not a TFK fan.

I highly recommend Oxygen:Inhale by Thousand Foot Krutch as one of the best albums on the year!

Here’s the album stream if you’re interested: Youtube, thousand foot krutch, oxygen inhale

4.5/5

 

Top Five Cringeworthy Church Ideas

Today I thought I’d put aside all seriousness and write something light hearted and funny, and being a Christian, I’ve seen some sights throughout my life in the church. This list is in no way meant to be offensive or point to any church in particular, just some light hearted sarcastic joking!

In reverse order.

5. The Church language.

This is what Blimey Cow (one my favourite youtube channels) calls Christianese! We all change our language when we become Christians, but not the the way you’re thinking. It goes further than just clearing out the bad language

Here’s some of my favourites:

Sold out. Yep, no more living for ourselves, our bodies now belong to Christ. “Man, that new kid is just so sold out for Christ!” Apparently, all it takes to be sold out is to look like we are. As long as we look good, God is pleased.

Backsliding. “Hey, she went to that party instead of church last night, she must be backsliding!” When did it come to happen that when we don’t meet other’s expectations, we’re backsliding?

And one more: Fellowship. This is a Christian term that’s just another way of saying, “I’m hanging out with my friends tonight.” We like to replace that with, “I’m going to my mate’s house for a time of fellowship.” Saying that instantly makes it Christian. “Yeah, that’s totally what I’m doing while I twiddle my thumbs on the game controller.” (Insert nervous smile).

There’s a lot more than those, but they should get you started on the path to looking like a full on Christian!

4. Separating Christian and Secular.

We have this idea that things can be Christian as well, and that everything and everyone that doesn’t mention Christ by name is something we shouldn’t support. “That guy is just really secular, so he’s not welcome in this church.” I can see Jesus saying that, can’t you? This is why we have “Christian” shops and music, because anything labeled Christian must be healthy, right? Well, I’m off to have a quick Christian bowl of caramel tart to think over it, see ya!

3. Works=God=Money.

Those three things, in that order, mean you’re a great Christian! You have to work your way up to the Lord, and then He’ll bless you with riches beyond fathom! “I didn’t know my worth is in my wealth, I thought It was in the cross. Well, I suppose all this time I’ve been cold, because only earning 19 dollars an hour means I’m not close to God.” But works is what will get us into Heaven, aren’t they? I think we’re forgetting something: Grace.

2. Condemning Others If They’re “In the Wrong.”

And the way we do that is of course through money, because we’re in the wrong if we’re not giving into the Kingdom of God (the church). No gimme gimme, no favor from God, that’s the way it works. If you don’t live up to my expectations of what I think you should be and what I expect from you, you’re lukewarm! That really makes me want to try my best, doesn’t it? The truth is, I do try my best, and I still feel like I’m a million miles away from the Lord. Why is that? Maybe it’s because I’m trying to prove my own worth instead of finding it in the blood of Jesus Christ?

1. My Opinion=Only Opinion

This is a big one in every church I go to. They all think they’re right. The funny thing is, every church says God is going to begin moving in their church when the Spirit sweeps across the nation, but I also hear that same thing in another church. So what one will God begin with?! My head is in a spin. This is what most churches are really saying, “The truth is, I know everything, and if you don’t agree with me, the enemy must have blinded you.” No, the enemy hasn’t blinded me, it’s just that I have a different opinion, does that mean I can no longer come to this church? “No, you’re not welcome because I don’t agree with you.” If being welcomed at a church can be broken just by a difference in opinion, that friendship with that church mustn’t have been built on a very solid foundation.

The truth is, the Lord has stepped away from the church, and we wonder why we don’t see Him moving in it. It’s a shame, because if all our hearts were set completely on Him, truly amazing things could happen.

So that’s been my top five things Churches do that’s actually quite funny when you think about it (I like to think a lot!).

God Bless!

Thousand Foot Krutch: Welcome to the Masquerade, Review

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In celebration for Canadian rockers Thousand Foot Krutch’s new album, Oxygen: Inhale, coming out this Tuesday (one of my most anticipated albums of 2014) I want to look back at, in my opinion, their best album: Welcome to the Masquerade, the Fan Edition, since that is the version I purchased.

This is easily their heaviest record, as it begins with the epic intro, the Invitation. This leads into an explosive album title track opener. It hits with you an adrenaline charged guitar riff that is just epic.

Fire it Up is the pump up song of the record, and really gets the heart beating, with the best vocals from front man Trevor McNevan to date (until the new record comes out that is). A song about being on fire for God, and taking His presence to the streets. This is sure to get your feet moving.

Bring me to Life takes the album into metal territory, with a scream from Trevor, and a fist pumping, anthemic bridge that shouts to the mountains and bridges in our lives, and commands them to “Shut it!”

The album soon slows down after yet another rocker with Watching Over Me, a song about knowing the Lord is with us through every thing we go through.

The Part That Hurts the Most (Is Me), is one of the best, most emotional tracks on the record. It’s pretty tame for the most part, until we get to the bridge, which again finds Trevor screaming his lungs out.

The next ballad is Look Away. A beautiful song about not looking away when God calls us to Him, despite what others may say. This is the first song I ever heard from them, and I still love it five years later.

Forward Motion finds them going down a more pop/rock route, and is one of the most enjoyable on the record.

The album ends with the straight forward worship track, Already Home. This song is absolutely glorious, and if this doesn’t usher you into the throne room I’m not sure what will. Trevor’s voice is amazing, and in the last minute, it’s an amazing experience. You have to listen yourself to know how powerful this track really is.

The bonus tracks aren’t anything really great, except for Take it Out On Me, a song about dealing with anger. The bonus trilogy of tracks begins with the rocker Shook, leads into Take it Out On Me, a heavy pop song (if that’s a thing) and ends with Anyone Else, another ballad about a relationship between two lovers, but can just as easily be about God.

TFK began with a more rapcore style, and have evolved to hard rock and nu-metal over time, and this album straight up rocks. The whole theme of Masquerade is that we sometimes hide ourselves behind masks. Masks of pain and false identity that takes us away from God. It’s a journey of self discovery and salvation that ends with the cry, “I’ve made a mess of myself on my own, and now I’m on my face and I’m calling out your name.”

If there’s one rock album you buy anytime soon, if you haven’t already got it, Thousand Foot Krutch’s Welcome to the Masquerade is an absolute must have. Highly recommended!

4.5/5

Separating or Serving

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You know, a lot of Christians say that we should separate ourselves from the world, from the people who live their lives in sin. It’s because their corrupt nature will rub onto us, isn’t it? If we associate ourselves with sinners, we’re going to fall into sin ourselves, so we should just stay away. That’s what being a Christian is, right? It’s being separate from the world, because, “We’re a holy nation, a royal priesthood, a people for His own possession.” We’re God’s children, aren’t we? We are, but that’s not exclusive to Christians.

When I see Christians separating themselves from the world, I often see more damage than healing done. See, we’ve made ourselves more than what we actually are. We’ve put ourselves on a pedestal. We don’t want to step off, and others don’t want to step on it with us. Why is this? Why aren’t more people coming to Christ?

Jesus knew the way to salvation, but it seems like we, the ones who have accepted Christ ourselves, don’t. Jesus didn’t put Himself on a pedestal. He didn’t put Himself above others. In fact, He even let them put on Him a mockers robe and a crown of thorns. He let them hang Him on a cross and be put on display for all to mock and tease. But right there, that picture, is the very scene of salvation. So why have we made salvation to be this place where only the holy dwell?

When I hear preachers say we need to be separate from the world, I think, “But Jesus sat and ate with those same people the priests said to avoid.” This presents a lot of problems. When Jesus said we should be separate from the world, He didn’t mean we should abandon them, He said to turn from their ways. Sin no more, because living in sin isn’t going to get people to see Christ. Living in sin is not the way to salvation.

So what is the way to salvation? How can we lead those in sin, to Jesus Christ? To do that, all we need to do is look at Jesus. How did He live? It’s very different to the way a lot Christians are living today. The one thing He did above all else, was serve. He washed the sinners feet. He served on bended knee.

So we go to say that if we hang out with those people, surely we’ll become like them. Jesus didn’t fall into sin because He was the servant. When we put ourselves on a pedestal, there’s no way we can pull others on the ground up with us. We’ll just fall down with them. But get down from the pedestal, and on your face, no one’s going to be able to pull you down!

That is what it means to be Christian. That’s how people find salvation. Jesus laid down His life on calvary for those in sin, why shouldn’t we do the same?

Let’s stop seeing people as “good,” and “bad.” Because we’re all God’s children, and we all need salvation, even past the cross.

God bless, and thanks for reading!

Christian Conformity

Have you ever heard the saying, “They’re conforming to the world”? I have, and I want to talk about that today. One of my favourite verses in the Bible says, “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I’d like to dig into this whole subject today.

To conform means to agree with something, or to be the same as someone else. Suddenly a problem arises with this, and it isn’t just exclusive to Christians. Everywhere I see people conforming to things that, not only takes us away from God, but from others. We’ve turned into mindless consumers, conformers who have taken on the mindset of those around us, and we’ve closed ourselves up. We no longer think for ourselves. We’re so conformed to the world’s mindset that we’ve shut God out.

I think that verse goes further than just conforming to the ways of the world. The sinful ways of man. It says we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We need to have a new mindset. The mind of Christ.

We need to conform ourselves to only one person: Jesus Christ. Not the TV, not the doctors (though they are very important), and not even to pastors. Yes, I’m walking on dangerous ground here (like to do that a lot!) but a friend once said, “we need to look to the Word for everything we believe,” and I completely agree, anywhere else is shaky ground. But sadly, the Bible alone isn’t enough for most, and this is where the problems begin in the Christian community. We’re conforming to what those “above” us say, and a lot of the time, without question.

For an example, the idea of Christian metal, a style I enjoy and love, is very looked down upon in the Christian community as “Satan’s music.” I once conformed to those beliefs myself, and I never felt at peace. Why? I wasn’t conforming to Christ, I was conforming to man! When you conform to the mind of man, Christian or not, there will never be complete peace. When I decided to stop conforming to the beliefs of man, and I began to really listen to Christian metal, I found something that none of the other genres of Christian music gave me. Bands like Wolves at the Gate, War of Ages, Haste the Day, and yes, Demon Hunter, have given me songs that have really strengthened my walk with Christ.

Conforming doesn’t stop with others as well, you can even conform to yourself.  When we conform to ourselves, and our own beliefs (or desires) it can severely hinder our relationship with Christ, and even others. It stops us from growing in the knowledge of God’s Word, and it can stop us from hearing the Lord’s voice! The Holy Spirit is pushed aside when we don’t want to hear what He has to say, and we want to hear what we want to hear, because no one can tell us otherwise. If I gave you complete proof, without a doubt, that metal is just as godly as pop, would you believe me? Sadly, many will still say no.

We need to have an open mind, because only then can the Holy Spirit speak. If the Holy Spirit put something in our path that doesn’t fit our mind set, or if others have said that it’s wrong, it must be wrong, right? I’m beginning to have my doubts.

Another example: what if the Lord told me to go into a bar that sat across the road? A bar is a sinful place right? Well according to us, yes. Anyway, I choose not to go in, because it’s not a good place for a Christian to be. A few days later, a suicide story pops up in the paper, and the person being interviewed said that that bar was one of his favourite places to go each Monday, the day I walked past. I could have shown that person the love of Christ, but I didn’t, because others said it was wrong.

Let’s put on the mind of Christ, because only then can we truly be free.

Words as Weapons

After a little writers block, I’m back with a new post, inspired by a trip to the supermarket! What I want to talk about is words, and how they can impact our lives, both negatively and positively.

Words are powerful things, and if used carelessly, could break someone apart. Christians, and non-believers, have used words to hurt. We’re all guilty of it, even me. But we need to be careful, and to watch our tongues, because every word we say could have the power to give death, or life.

I like to take chances where I can sow a seed in someone’s life. Giving them a glimpse of Christ, so they may see Him in me, and that’s what happened today. I want to share a short story, nothing glamorous, not even a testimony really, but it had power like no testimony could give. I’ve done this quite a few times now, at a few different places, and it’s complimenting people, particularly girls.

So we were at the Brisbane Myer centre, and it was around eleven, so we went to Coles to grab a snack. While in there I saw this beautiful girl going through the vegetable section. She passed me once, but I didn’t say anything. We walked around for another five minutes (on the search for Stevia!), and I didn’t see her again. Well, the Stevia wasn’t anywhere around the left side of the store, so we went back around, and there, down the exact aisle we needed to go, was the girl. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, but I wanted to tell her she was beautiful. I hesitated for a moment and stood beside her. Then, I took the leap! I said, “Excuse me, I’m sorry if this is a bit strange, but I think you look lovely, and I wanted to say hi.” It actually wasn’t that hard! She replied with a huge smile, and her whole face just lit up. I shook her hand, gave her my name (not sure why I did, since I probably won’t see her again, unless the Lord puts her in my path) and she gave me hers.

The other times I complimented girls were at the Brisbane Roma street Parklands, (that was two girls together!) and at another supermarket with my cousin. But that’s not what I want to talk about, what I want to talk about is how my words just changed her countenance around. The girl at Coles wasn’t looking too cheerful to begin with, but when I gave her that compliment, it was like something exploded inside of her, and it made me feel amazing as well! A man on Pastor Bob Beeman’s channel said that when he complimented a girl, she was like an old flower suddenly blooming. That’s what it looked like with that girl today.

Another funny thing that happened concerning the girl was that when we headed off, Mom told me she had turned around and watched, and she said, “You know, when I saw you talking to that girl, I knew the Lord was standing beside you.”

I had just planted a seed in that girl’s life.

As followers of Christ, we need to lift each other up, and edify one another. And I believe, that as men, we should be letting women know how beautiful, precious, and worthy they are, because they really are.

I want to share another story I remember from around seven years ago. It was in Laidely, a small town near our hometown, Rosewood. Mom was in a health store (it wasn’t actually a store, more of a house where a woman sold health food) and my brother and I went walking with our friend Sandy (she’s in her sixties if you’re wondering, and is one of the best friends I’ve ever had). We walked with the tracks, since a train line sat to the right, directly before the houses. A little up the hill sat a man, standing before the tracks. Sandy passed him, smiled, and said hello. The man smiled back, and we walked away, leaving him still standing. On the way back, the man stopped us and he said, “You know, I was just about to jump in front of that train today, but you’ve shown me that there is still love in the world. There’s still some hope.”

I was young at the time, and kids never listen to adult conversations, but when we got back, and Sandy gave the story, I listened, and it has stuck with me for all these years.

Words are a powerful thing, and it’s true when the Bible says that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Words saved that man’s life and made that girl’s day. Go out and, not only walk in the love of Christ, speak in it as well.

The Gray Side of the Line

A word that gets tossed around Christian circles a lot is lukewarm. Why is it being tossed around like some sort of wrapped parcel filled with guilt? Today I was listening to a song by Sleeping at Last, and it talked about the color of gray in a Christian’s life. Gray being the color of lukewarmness. Neither hot or cold. Black or white. And something he said really struck a chord with me, and I want to point a few things out on the subject.

First, I think we have put the term in the completely wrong light. We see the condition of being lukewarm as the place where sin and faith join hand in hand with each other. We believe that the lukewarm person is the one who spends his Sunday in church, and then goes to bars and drinks himself to sleep on every other day of the week.

Really, that’s completely the wrong view, for a number of reasons. First off, we don’t know the guy’s heart (I’m not pointing at anyone in particular here), nor do we know his reasons for going to the bar and jumping into the world of drunkenness. The term of being lukewarm has been used by countless people to say that they’re out of line and have fallen away from God. We act like God is some sort of goal we need to reach, and if we don’t do good, we’re not going to be close to Him. It’s no wonder people are falling into the so called “dreaded” gray area all the time.

But here’s the thing. We have taken the term “lukewarm” so far out of context from the Word that we use it to make other’s feel horrible about their condition. The lukewarm condition the Bible speaks about is sorely regarding the heart of the person. When one willingly sins and wants to follow God. That’s what the Bible speaks of, and that’s when you’ll be spat out of God’s mouth, as the Bible says. If it was based sorely on how much we sin, honestly, we’re all cold.

I want to argue something now, and you reading may not agree, but I think the color gray, the area between black and white, is a beautiful place. Let me explain. The condition of the color gray is about the heart, not about the actions. If we go back to the drunkard we talked about before, we find that he actually hates his sin. But yet he still indulges in it. We’ll continue his story soon, but when our hearts are pointing towards God, the gray, or “lukewarm” area is one of the best places to be.

The song mentioned before says that, “Gray is not a compromise, it is a bridge between two sides.” It says that we’re constantly in a state of change. We’re constantly maturing and changing and heading towards that other side. The gray state of a Christian’s life is the most reckless in God’s eyes, the song says. When your heart is set on Him, the gray area is the most daring and lovely in God’s eyes. Why? Because we’re in a state of change for Him. We want to begin the process of change in our lives because we want to be more like Him. When we begin to lay down our sinful desires and begin down the gray path, the bridge of change, that’s when our relationship with God truly comes alive.

Change isn’t something that happens overnight. We don’t go to sleep an alcoholic and wake up in a completely different condition. Change is slow and takes time, and God is walking right besides each step of the way.

And then this answers the question of why there’s evil in the world. Why there’s darkness and despair. It’s when going through those things that relationships and commitments make sense. Love becomes real when it’s lifting someone up from brokenness. Love becomes real when it hurts with one another. Love becomes real when we look at the cross. The place of brokenness. Love comes alive when it’s shown to another. We can’t pull ourselves up from the mud, we need someone to lift us up. We can’t get through that state of gray on our own. It’s in that time where God is most real to us. He always meets us at our brokenness, not when we’re walking the white line.

So let’s go back to the drunkard. We know he hates his sin now, but we don’t know why he still falls for it every night. The answer is that people want to find comfort, and they will look for it anywhere. If they find comfort in alcohol, that’s where they will go. Same goes for other addictions and sins. People find comfort in drugs, sex and pornography, and even occultic practices. They’re looking for something we can’t seem to provide anymore because we’re always pushing them aside as a lukewarm Christian! Or some of the other names I’ve heard being tossed around: Heathen, Backslider, and the list goes on and on. The truth is, these people want to change, and in reality, their hearts are already past the gray area, and they’re living in the white area!

God looks at the heart, and we’ve crossed the bridge when we hate our sin, and yearn to follow, love, and obey Him. When we walk in love in His presence, that’s being on fire. That’s the white area. If you’re still struggling with drugs, or alcohol, or any addiction and sin remember that God’s walking by your side, and He’ll help you through. If you want Him, you’re not being lukewarm, you’re just walking across the bridge.

Cold is where we turn from love, gray is where we grow in love, and white is where we live in love. There’s no middle ground for the follower of Christ.

God Bless!

What if God didn’t Exist?

This is quite a frightening thought, isn’t it? What would life without God be like? That’s what’s been on my mind, especially during the writing of my current novel.

It’s a frightening reality that might not be so untrue as you might think. I’m not saying God doesn’t exist, but others do, and I see a frightening reality in people’s lives that’s happening around us every day.

Everyday, people are proclaiming that God doesn’t exist. That God is dead (no, this isn’t about the movie) in their own lives. How scary is that? The horror of a life without God is more real than we let on in our own lives where God is living. God’s alive in our lives, but what about people who reject Him, or refuse Him? This is where the horror of it comes in.

Our lives are a battle field. A spiritual war zone where God and the devil battle it out for our souls. Ultimately, the choice is up to us, but take God, the good, away and what do we have? The all evil force of the devil. That’s all that would remain. Atheists can argue it all they want, but without God in our lives, the devil has full victory, and no matter what we believe, it won’t change. What would the devil do with no one standing before him? I can’t imagine, and it would be too graphic to write on this site.

A world without God would be void of hope, joy, meaning, and love. The emptiness that I talked about in the last post would dominate our lives. Biblical morals would collapse, and sin would run rampant. Hell is a very real reality, and its doors are always open. So why aren’t we doing something about it? Why aren’t we crying for the lost sheep who have rejected God and are living in a reality where God doesn’t exist? Christians are living like it’s all going to be alright, but for most people, it isn’t. Christians, if we don’t turn from our ways, from our division and lukewarm lives, people are going to die, and we have a lot to answer for. If people live in a reality where God doesn’t exist, why are we showing that a life where God does exist is horrible? The Christian life just isn’t appealing to an unbeliever because we’re all caught up in ourselves, and in our own beliefs and laws.

The truth is, the Christian life isn’t about ourselves!

We know a life without God would be as Hell, so why are we letting others live that way? Why aren’t we pointing them to the truth, that there is a God who loves them? There is a God who accepts them, and that truth will never change.

God isn’t dead, because He’s alive in the ones who have laid down their lives. Do people see the living God in you, or do they see something else?

I know this use this band a lot, but here’s another lyric from Wolves at the Gate, and their song, the Harvest. “Have our hands worked the fields for Your glory? Or have our tongues spoken of Your story? Have our feet seen the pain in the labor? Or have we wandered off and wavered?”

Everyone has a chance, what life do you want to live?

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