Reading Throught the Quran

quranI challenge anyone who believes Islam is a religion of peace to read through the Quran for themselves. I’ve read large chunks of it before. I’ve determined to read through the whole thing. Here are some early observations:

The Quran acknowledges the Jewish and Christian religions, as it should. It was founded 600 years after Christianity and thousands of years after Judaism. But it claims to be a fulfilment of “that which was previously revealed [in the Bible]”. In other words, Islam claims the Bible had some good things to say. Several familiar Bible stories are reiterated (and muddied), particularly about Moses. But according to the Quran, the Bible is not complete. A long section at the beginning of the Quran is an appeal to Jews and Christians to recognize Muhammad’s visions as God’s final revelation and regard them above anything “former prophets” (including Christ) had to say.

Okay, I’m having major issues with that one. How can you say Jesus was a great prophet and then disregard everything He claimed about himself by trumping it with completely different teachings? Islam does not hold with the deity of Christ. Jesus himself claimed to be God! So was Jesus lying? I’d never acknowledge a liar as a great prophet. Was Jesus deceived about who he was? If he was that mentally unstable, again, not a great candidate. If he wasn’t a liar (why would anyone die for a lie?) and he wasn’t unbalanced (profundity of his teachings…enough said), he must have been who he claimed to be–the Son of God sent to earth as a sacrificial payment for sins. The miracles he performed were a supernatural verification of his message. The historical evidence supporting his resurrection is extremely compelling.

So 600 years after Christ, Muhammad comes along and decides his visions trump the message and work of Christ. I was absolutely astounded by the audacity of that statement! Keep in mind, there were thousands of witnesses to the miracles of Christ, and hundreds who saw him alive after his death. The contemporary timeframe of the Gospel accounts that circulated in the early church and eventually realized canonization overlapped the lives of these witness who, through their lack of objection, bear them out. Muhammad was the only, singular, sole person who witnessed and wrote out the revelations of the Quran. His message was entirely unconfirmed by any supernatural signs or miracles. And keep in mind Muhammad’s political aspirations. Conquest and subjugation of Arabia were his life’s chief ambitions. The political, social, and economic rules (and brutal punishments) he wrote into the Quran provided a means of maintaining his control. Here in America, we call such individuals cult leaders. Muhammad was a cult leader of military genius and unopposed power. In my opinion, his life compares quite unfavorable with the peaceful, sacrificial ministry and teachings of Christ.

So obviously, I’m starting my reading of the Quran with some prior knowledge of Muhammad’s life and with serious reservations about its authenticity as a God-ordained method of worship. But a few more observations:

The Quran cannot be “fulfilling” the Bible if it disregards the Bible’s central tenant of the deity of Christ. This leads me to believe that Muhammad either misunderstood the Bible, or he was intentionally trying to mislead those who followed it. Or quite possibly, Muhammad was deceived by the spirit who revealed itself to him–a spirit that certainly was not the God of the Bible.

The spirit that revealed itself to Muhammad was quite unoriginal. The Quran copies major ideas from the Bible, often in the same language as the Bible, and gives them a slight warp: Heaven/rewards (rivers, fruit), punishment/torment, “Good News”, parables, unbelievers having no understanding/eyes and ears sealed, foolishness of unbelievers.

A few difference I’m noting: Heaven includes seven heavens (a copy of the Bible’s important number seven). Heaven is also sexualized in Islam. Already I’ve seen mention of “pure spouses” issued to the faithful. I’m pretty sure that is a sanitized reference to the famous virgins, as this translation is targeted at English speakers, and Western culture doesn’t take very well to Islam’s non-status of women. Also, Islam is works based, while biblical salvation is a free gift.

That’s it for my initial reactions. I may report back as I work through more of the Muslim “holy” book. I might not. Several versions of the Quran are free on Amazon. I’d encourage you to delve into the teachings of Islam for yourself instead of having lies and half-truths handed to you from those who wish to make it appear a religion of peace. It is not.


Over the past year and a half, MEDION DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been challenged by these three questions:

1) Do I like to see God accomplish amazing things? Of course I do! I know what kind of power God has. I feel priviledged, humbled, and a little overwhelmed sometimes when I see him use it. But I love it when he does!

2) Do I struggle to find a time and place for consistent prayer? Yes again. I’m busy and prayer’s hard. It doesn’t always happen.

3) Do I believe there is a direct correlation between the prayers of believers and God’s work in our midst? Sure I do. God doesn’t need our prayers, but he desires them for our sakes. I think God is giving us a chance to be part of what he’s doing, to team up with him and give us some ownership in a joint venture. That’s a pretty tremendous opportunity if you think about it, teaming up with the Almighty God. So then why do we expect him to move in mighty ways while we’re sitting on our duffs?

Yeah, that’s the challenge I’ve been mulling over.

Some of you know I’m a runner from way back. But my body doesn’t always take the beating willingly anymore, so two years ago I bought a mountain bike and set myself a goal of 1,000 miles over the course of the summer. I’ve blown that out of the water for two years running…er, biking? That’s a lot of mindless hours on the road. Then last summer, I discovered those hours were the perfect time to pray! There are no distractions–no children, no phone calls, no neighbors, no chores waiting to be finished. Just traffic, and so far I’ve managed to multitask that successfully. It’s just me and God and some great conversations taking place on the roads of Allegan County.

bike.silhouetteSo last summer I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great to get a bunch of Christians outside to pray? At that time, however, not many people I went to church with lived in my town. And I wasn’t looking to switch churches. Funny how things happen sometimes. Within a few months, after a series of unlooked for events, I ended up at a church just around the corner which sponsors a local 5K each year. I joined the race committee because, you know, I still have this longtime love/hate thing going on with running. (I started training for it a few weeks ago. I’ve run 3-1/2 miles so far but they were all at once, so hey, I’m good!) And suddenly God started putting that get-a-group-outside-to-pray idea back in my head. So I approached the pastor about starting a prayerwalking group on Thursday evenings to pray in the streets where the event will take place.

So far not many people have shown up. Okay, no one has shown up yet. Folks are busy, I know it. But this race is such a tremendous opportunity to be a light in our community. I feel like it’s one of those chances God gives us to team up with him, where we pray and he works. I still do most of my praying on my bike, but I keep showing up each Thursday just in case God lays this challenge on someone else’s heart too. Hopefully, come race day, we’ll get to see God do something amazing.


The Woman at the Well

blood moonIt’s been three months since I posted, but for a pretty good reason. Those months were filled with the final push to finish the second book in my Ella Wood trilogy, Blood Moon. It released earlier this month. I’m thrilled with the positive response I’ve received so far.

Anyway, I’m back today with some thoughts on one of my favorite Bible stories–the Woman at the Well. This passage has always been difficult for me to understand. Some of the exchanges between Jesus and the woman seem so random. Yet a little history on the cultural and political differences between the Jews and the Samaritans helps clear this up significantly. What emerges is a provocative conversation about the changing work God was doing through Christ, its healing power, and the effect it would have around the world. But before I pursue those thoughts, let’s read the story in John 4:4-26 again. I’m quoting the NIV version.

Now he [Jesus] had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

"Water of Life Discourse", by Angelika Kauffman, 1796
“Water of Life Discourse”, by Angelika Kauffman, 1796

There is a lot going on in there! Hints between the strained relations between Samaria and Judea, cultural taboos between the sexes, Jesus’s ability to know a person’s past, a confusing conversation about water and life, and something about worship and mountains. Let me see if I can clarify.

First, it is important to note that Judea to the south, which included Jerusalem, and Samaria to the north were all part of the land given to the Israelites under Moses and Joshua. David’s kingdom encompassed both areas. It was all Jewish. You may recall, however, that the Kingdom of Israel split after Solomon’s rule. Ten of the twelve tribes became Israel (north) and two tribes became Judea (south). Because of Israel’s sin, the Northern nation was eventually conquered by the Assyrians. Now when the Assyrians invaded an area, they would move the residents out, scatter them, and repopulate the land with other displaced peoples. It was an effective means of dispiriting the conquered and avoiding possible rebellions. The ten tribes, therefore, essentially ceased to exist as an entity and were lost to history.

The Southern kingdom of Judea was later conquered by the Babylonians and carried off into captivity (recall the stories of Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) where they were kept intact as a nation and eventually allowed to return to their homeland (recall stories of Nehemiah rebuilding the wall and Zerubbabal rebuilding the temple). The tribes of Benjamin and Judah carried on, and the Jews that survive today all trace their lineage back to one or the other. Judah had to survive, as the Messiah would come from its people.

This history helps explain the animosity that existed between Jews and Samaritans in Jesus’s day. Samaria had been part of the Northern kingdom, with whom the Southern kingdom fought bitterly for generations. And any Jewish blood that may have survived the Assyrian conquest was muddied both in race and religion by intermarriage with the Gentiles who had been resettled there. Judean Jews considered Samaritans half-breeds and heretics at best. Additionally, the Samaritans were pro-Rome, as the Romans had freed them from an oppressive Jewish rule, while the Jews were vehemenantly opposed to Roman rule. So political persuasions, on top of race and religion, separated Jesus and this woman. And finally, strict rules of conduct were in place between men and women of this day, including a taboo on speaking together in public. This is the charged situation in which this conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman took place. Now let’s look at what they said.

First, Jesus asks the woman for a drink. This must have astounded her, and she protests. But Jesus’s words are equally astounding. He starts speaking of living water and eternal life. As a Samaritan with a religion rooted in Judaism, she may have had an inkling that he was talking about spiritual truths. Within Judaism, the Spirit is often associated with water, especially in the water-drawing ceremony that took place annually as part of the observation of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. But the woman seems to have missed Jesus’s deeper implications when she asks him for a drink of this water so that she “won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” She soon begins to understand this is no ordinary person with whom she is conversing when her scandalous past comes to light. There is no way Jesus could have known these details without divine revelation. She calls him a prophet.

Next comes the discussion that has always intrigued me the most, because of its difficult to understand. She tells him, “Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” Huh? At first glance, that is such a random thing to say. We now know, however, that she is alluding to the political and racial differences between Jew and Samaritan. Because they were no longer “pure” Jews, Samaritans were denied full entrance to the temple in Jerusalem. Still wishing to worship their ancestral God (though their Judaism had been intermixed with pagan religions), the Samaritans modified the rules, so to speak, and set up their own high place on Mount Gerizim, within their own regional borders. The Jews write this off as heresy. Unacceptable. I think the woman may be doing several things with this statement: spitefully accusing the Jews of being exclusive bigots, pleading for understanding that her people are trying their best, and maybe asking who’s right. Jesus responds that it will soon all be irrelevant.

That’s the most fascinating part of this exchange. Jesus does make it clear that Judaism is the proper revelation of God up to this point, and that the Samaritan’s corrupted version is based on ignorance. But he is also aware that things are changing. God is working the next part of his eternal plan. People will soon have direct access to God through his Holy Spirit and will no longer need priests or temples as intermediates. In fact, both the Jewish and the Samaritan temples would be destroyed within a century. The conversation is then clenched and verified by Jesus’s final revelation–he is the Messiah. The one who will “explain everything”. The one looked for by both Jew and Samaritan. The one who will do this amazing new work of God. The one who will eliminate the need for temples. The one who will reunite peoples. The one who will surpass political differences, sexual differences, racial differences. This is an amazing statement! And I think at this point, the woman “gets it”. Maybe not all of it. Not yet. But the woman rushes into town to tell others of this encounter, and we are told that many believed. I think this woman was one of those believers. I think her heart changed after this powerful conversation, that she acknowledged the sin Jesus pointed out, and that she eventually came to understand fully the truths revealed to her, both during Jesus’s two-day stay and by the ongoing work of the Spirit in her life.

The power that changed the Samaritan woman’s life is still changing lives today. I get discouraged when I look around me. I see an America that has rejected God’s authority, his Word, and his Redeemer. A huge gulf exists between myself and the accepted viewpoints of the day, and it’s never more apparent than when I hold discussions with a friend who is a GLBT activist. Like Jesus and the Samaritan woman, we are separated by both politics and religion. But as we’ve seen in the story, Jesus has authority over both. His power to convict, to restore, and to unite extends beyond me. He can see the future, and his plan will be carried out.

That is an encouraging thought.

Adam’s Rib, by Wayne Simpson

I see it’s been far too long since I last posted. School started. And my new novel has been taking up every spare minute. So today I’m just going to share an article. One that fascinated me. I love it when Bible researchers can shed new light on something for me, refining how I understand God’s word and the principles it contains. This is a powerful, eye-opening discovery.


by Wayne Simpson

The study of the Bible is often fraught with preconceptions, not only in our own minds but also in the minds of scholars, teachers and theologions who teach us and write the reference material that we rely on. Concepts can be so entrenched and cherished that no one even thinks to question them. Many such notions have been around for centuries or
millenia and they seem to be a part of the very foundation on which we base our beliefs. Sometimes they do not stand up to close scrutiny. Unfortunately, such ideas can conceal the most sublime insights into the scriptures.

One such notion is the matter of Adam’s rib in the second chapter of Genesis. Everybody knows the familiar Bible story about how God took a rib from Adam and made Eve. The smallest children are taught this story in Sunday schools across the land. Though many scholars find reasons not to take it literally, it is accepted as truth by millions of Christians. There is more here than meets the eye. I will show how it has been widely misunderstood and how that has caused us to miss some very dynamic teaching. Examine the account:

… for Adam there was not found a help meet for him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her to the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Gen. 2:20-24

This is really a strange picture if you think about it. Why didn’t God just make woman from the ground as He had made Adam. He apparently made male and female of all the animals from the ground. And why a rib, instead of a finger or a toe, or an ear. The story seems to smack of early Mesopotamian and Greek literature. Ea, the god of wisdom was said to
be the ear of Ninurta. Athena, goddess of wisdom, sprang from the forehead of Zeus, and Aphrodite, goddess of love was said to have come from the sea foam that collected around the severed male organ of the god Uranus (JPS Torah Commentary, Genesis p. 22).

In actuality, something far more meaningful is being expressed in this biblical account than making a new person out of a small piece of the body of another. If we look closely at the Hebrew word for rib we will learn of something quite surprising. The word translated rib in Genesis 2 is tsela. This word is used in a number of other places in the Bible and its meaning is shown to be quite different than what we have imagined. The only other
place in the Bible where the english word rib occurs is in Daniel 7:5, translated from an altogether different Hebrew word. One Bible translation dares to break with the use of the traditional word rib. The Stone edition of the Chumash renders the verse this way:

” …and He took one of his sides and He filled in the flesh in its place.”

Right away you can see that what God took from Adam was a lot more than a small bone. But can this reading be justified? Let us examine other places in the Bible where this Hebrew word is used. We find that it is rendered side in a number of places.

Look at Exodus 25:12. In referring to the rings of gold on the Ark of the Covenant it says “Two rings shall be on one side (tselo – a variant of tsela) and two rings on the other side”. Later in verse 14 it refers to the two “sides” (tselot- the plural form). Exodus 37:3-5 shows this same description of the Ark.

In Exodus 27:7 it refers to “the two sides (tselot) of the altar” upon which staves and rings were attached “to bear it”. Notice that it refers to only two of the altars four sides – the two major sides as opposed to the front and rear. Similar usage occurs in Ex. 38:7. Then in Exodus 26:20, the Hebrew word ul-tsela is used, meaning “and for the side” of the tabernacle. This is the same Hebrew word with two initial letters that have the meaning “and for”. In verse 26 we read of one side (tsela) of the tabernacle and the second side (tsela) of the tabernacle. In verse 35 we see mentioned a table on the south side (tsela) of the tabernacle, referring this time not just to the outer skin of the tabernacle but to its south half. Identical usage occurs in Ex. 36:25,31.

Notice that in each of these accounts there is nothing resembling a rib or pillar like structural member. It refers to an entire side, essentially half, of a structure. This is very different from the notion of Adam’s rib, but let us continue.

In I kings 6:34 we see a description of folding doors consisting of two sides or panels (tsalim – the masculine plural form). These two panels were identical, each comprising half of the assembly. These were part of Solomons temple. At that time this Hebrew word for side began to be used in connection with associated components of the sides of the temple. Chambers or side compartments (tselot) were built along the sides of
the temple (I kings 6:5-6). Also the planks which formed the sides of the most holy place were given the name , batselot, meaning in the sides. Here again we see no hint of the notion of a rib or similar superstructure of any kind.

In Job 18:12 Job refers to “calamities at his side” (la-tselot) and Jeremiah 20:10 speaks of “fear on every side”. It would be ludicrous to speak of fear at every rib.

The only mention which might remotely be construed as anything like a rib is this:

“As David and his men went along the road, Shimei went along the hillside ( ba-tsela) and cursed as he went…”. II Sam 16:13.

While The New Brown Driver Briggs Gesenius Hebrew English Lexicon suggests that this is the ridge or the rib of the hill. This seems to be interpretive because this episode could have taken place on one of the sides of the hill as easily as on the ridge of the hill. From the context you simply cannot tell which it was. Because of the preponderance of usage of the word side as the translation, it seems likely that should be the meaning here as well.

We conclude from this analysis that there is no real justification to render the word in Gen. 2:21 as Adam’s rib. Rather, it should be Adam’s side. As a result, a new and bold imagery begins to emerge from Gen. 2:21. What is really meant by the use of the word side? Was it the side of his torso, like a side of beef? Did it include an arm or a leg? Once we are freed from the notion of a rib, what really makes sense here? I suggest that what is meant
here is virtually an entire side or half of Adams body. There are several Hebrew words that express the notion of half, chiefly variants of the verb chatsah, which means to divide. This word is most often used to signify halving a weight or volume or quantity of some substance, whereas the examples we previously mentioned seem to refer to a side, that is a half of an object or structure. That is especially clear in Ex. 20:35, where a table is
located in one side or one half of the tabernacle.

Now consider the implications of this. God literally divided Adam in half to create a woman for him. This is a much more powerful symbol than merely taking a small bone out of his side. Eve was every bit the man Adam was (pardon the pun), in fact in Gen 1:27 it says “In the image of God He created him, male and female He created them” suggesting
complete equality. Eve began, literally, as half of Adam. Even today people sometimes refer to their spouse as their other half or their better half and that seems somehow appropriate. Of course God closed the flesh to restore Adam to wholeness. Though not specifically stated, it is clear God did the same for Eve in the process of fashioning her into a woman. How appropriate the language used in Genesis. The words “bone of my bone”
and “flesh of my flesh” take on new significance. Even the expressions are grammatically symmetrical.

The traditional mythical interpretation of Adams rib is of very long standing. We do not know when it first began, but it is clear that the ancient Hebrews did not understand this episode in the way moderns do. When Genesis and Exodus were written, the concept was one of Adams side, not his rib. Remarkably, we have the testimony of a Jewish authority
of about 2000 years ago on this issue. Philo Judeaus addressed the subject thus: “The letter of this statement is plain enough; for it is expressed according to the symbol of the part, a half of the whole, each party, the man and the woman, being as sections of nature co-equal for the production of that genus which is called man.” (The Works Of Philo, p. 796, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts,) emphasis mine. How clear.

Notice also the Hebrew words usually rendered help meet. This rendering is such an anemic translation for what is being expressed. The expression in Hebrew is azer k’negdo. In every case in the Hebrew Bible the Hebrew word azer means not just assistance, but a significant and substantial kind of help. Look at some examples:

Ezekiel 12:14 Zedekiah had “all those about him to help (azer) him, all his bands.” This is clearly referring to Zedekiah’s armed men.

Daniel 11:34 The expression “helped with a little help” in this context seems also to refer to military intervention.

Isaiah 30:5 This verse refers to seeking help in the form of military protection from the king of Egypt.

All these examples refer to substantial and powerful help or protection, the kind you could get from armed men, not just a little help or hand holding. Continue:

Ex 18:4 “for He (God) was my help.”

Deut. 33:29 “… The Lord, the shield of thy help”

Deut 33:7 “… Be thou (the Lord) a help to him from his enemies.”

In these examples, we see an even more powerful type of help from God himself. It is clear that this was not just help, but real substancial deliverance, there was nothing puny about it. The point is to show that Eve was created as a capable, intelligent, force to be rekoned with. She was every bit as qualified and adept as Adam. This was not simply a “Let me
hold the flashlight for you, Honey” kind of help.

And the Hebrew word K’negdo is charged with meaning as well. It means more than just suitable. It carries the meaning of opposite. She was an opposite to him. This is literally what you would expect since she was formed from his other half or side. Perhaps it would be better to say she was his complement. The two were made to work and fit together.
She was opposite in gender, but opposite in many other ways as well. No man can be married for any length of time without realizing that his wife thinks and behaves in a very different way than he does. She views things very differently, her concerns are quite unlike his. Eve was made to be everything Adam was not. She was his complement.

Now Adam was faced with the realization that he was not unique and he was not alone. To find completeness and wholeness he would want to take a wife. This longing for wholeness is a popular theme in our modern love songs. Ultimately she is the key to the meaning of his life and vice versa. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife and they shall become one flesh.” Gen. 2:24. Neither can be complete
without the other.

So this old story that was once a rather bizarre metaphor, a woman created from a rib, can now be understood to be a powerful, meaningful and beautiful symbol for the most profound relationship in human existence. It is very clear that, in the beginning, God gave woman absolutely equal status with man.

(c)Copyright 1996 by Wayne Simpson
Distributed by the Biblical Research Foundation
629 Lexington Road, Sapulpa, Ok 74066

Reproduction and distribution is permitted provided this copyright notice is left intact on all copies.

The Silence of the Lambs

gods-peopleI’ll get back to my worldview questions soon. Promise. Today I want to bring some attention to the atrocities going on around the world to Christians at the hands of Muslims. I receive the Voice of the Martyrs newsletter every month. I’d strongly encourage each and every reader out there to sign up for a free subscription over at the VOM website. Better yet, make a donation while you’re there. They are a fabulous source of information that the mainstream media will never report on and a fabulous source of support for those who suffer for following Christ. And pray! That’s a reminder to myself, too. Do it. And do it often.

Now, instead of writing the rest of this post myself, I’m turning it over to the very capable hands of Bill Meuhlenberg. You’ll really want to read what he has to say about the silence of the church while the world is murdering and raping our brothers and sisters. Click the link below and you’ll be directed straight to his article on It’s truly an eye-opener.

Darkness Covers the Land but God’s People Say and Do Nothing

(Image credit:

A Purpose Shared with Lewis

Jack, a life of lewisI’m reading through George Sayer’s Jack: A Life of C.S. Lewis at the moment. Very slowly as I dedicate most of my free time to finishing my current novel. I’ve always been a huge fan of The Chronicles of Narnia. A few weeks ago, I watched Shadowlands and afterward took an interest in learning Lewis’s real life story. It’s very interesting, this great man’s journey to faith. But so far, I’ve resonated most with his role as a children’s author. (Hmmmm…wonder why.)

I stumbled upon the following section of text in which Sayer summarizes Lewis’s thoughts on being a Christian author of mainstream literature, to which I’ve subscribed wholeheartedly without even realizing I was in agreement with him. Remember, Lewis was writing literature in the 1930’s-50’s.

“[Lewis] pointed out that the difficulties of the Christian writer or lecturer arose from the fact that the culture was not at all Christian. This meant that the influence of a Christian lecture or article would be undermined very quickly by the influence of films, newspapers, and novels in which an opposing point of view was taken for granted. This made it impossible for the Christian writer to achieve widespread success. What was wanted was not more ‘little books about Chritianity,’ but more books by Christians on the subjects in which the Christianity was latent.

“…Jack wanted the moral and spiritual significance of his works of fiction to be assimilated subliminally, if at all… Over and over in talking bout his fiction, he would say, ‘But it’s there for the story.'”

That’s it! That’s what I try to do when I write. I strive to create a story of excellence that will entertain yet rest on, to use Sayer’s word, a latent Christian worldview.

Another quote, a direct quote of Lewis’s that I found sadly humorous was in reference to the ignorant reception his sci-fi thriller Out of the Silent Planet received: “I think this great ignorance might be a help to the evangelisation of England; any amount of theology can now be smuggled into people’s minds under cover of romance without their knowing it.”

That does seem to be the case today, as well. I plan to continue taking advantage of it.

North Vietnam

Remember this? It’s happening today.

I’ve been reading lately about the atrocities the North Korean government is visiting upon its people. Those targeted for concentration camps are Christians and politically suspicious individuals. “Suspicious”  means anyone remotely suspected of disagreeing with the government along with their extended family down to the third generation. I mean, there’s record of someone who accidentally mopped up a spill with an old newspaper that bore a picture of their “Dear Leader.” And all their loved ones. The guilt is in the blood.

Like Nazi camps, these labor camps are places of torture and death. Life has no value. Prisoners are given minimal rations and worked until thier bodies give out. Women are routinely raped and then “disappear” when they become pregnant. Children are beaten to death or commanded to beat other children. Babies are even bred within the camps for the sole purpose of being worked and starved to death. This is going on TODAY and has been since the 1950’s. Kim Jong Un, the new dictator (2011) and third in this dynasty, is carrying on his father’s and grandfather’s inhumane traditions.

Though North Korea denies their existance, these concentration camps are clearly seen by satellite. And there is a growing body of documented testamony by former guards and prisoners who have defected to China and South Korea. In addition, the UN has released a report of their findings of human rights violations.

I highly recommend the book Escape from Camp 14, by Blaine Harden. It details the life of Shin Dong-Hyuk, the only prisoner who was born into the prison camps to escape the camp and the country. His story will stun you. (It is written from a secular perspective and the subject matter is not fit for children under 12 or 14.)

Be in prayer for this country, its leaders, and those who suffer under them. Be in prayer for our Christian brothers and sisters who are persecuted for their faith. Please don’t simply look the other way. Educate yourself about what’s going on and pray.

If you’d like more information about North Korea or about other countries where Christians are suffering, visit the Voice of the Martyrs website or request their free monthly newsletter. The newsletter is an excellent resource to help teach our kids about hostile areas of the world. Get involved. Plug in and pray!

Discovering God’s Will For Your Life

Oh look! I haven’t posted on here for two months! That would be about when track meets started regularly. Sigh. It was a great track season.

7214575Today I have only a short book review. I received the book Discovering God’s Will For Your Life from author Mike Lutz in exchange for an honest review. I was impressed with how easy the book was to read, how simple Lutz made the process, and how basic his advice was. Here’s the review I posted on Amazon:

Want to know God’s will for your life? Mike Lutz starts with the basics: quiet time, meditation, prayer, Bible reading. So elementary, yet so vital—and so overlooked in our busy society. This book is for those who want to get serious about their faith. Knowing God’s will takes effort, but Mr. Lutz breaks it down into simple-to-grasp steps in this conversationally styled book. Calling on roles models such as Joseph and Moses, he has created a great resource for those just starting out in their Christian walk and for those who need to get back to the simple

Now my question is, would anyone like me to pass the book on to them? It’s a paperback, and I’ll gladly send it to the first one to email me requesting it. If you’re interested, I’m at 🙂

The Touch

When I posted my Christmas story a few months ago, it started a badly needed editing project. Over the years, I’ve written fifteen Bible stories–most for use in children’s programs at church. I collected them in 2008 and put them into a volume. But when  I looked up that story at Christmas, I realized my writing skills have improved since then. A lot. So when I finished my novel in February, I began editing. The story I’m posting today comes from that collection. It has long been one of my favorites. 

The Touch


Amos dropped the sack he had been carrying and lowered himself to the ground like an old man. He stretched in the shade of a scrubby tree and rubbed his sore muscles. Sadly, he remembered a time when these muscles had been rock hard, when he could spend a full day toiling under the sun. He had enjoyed a talent for coaxing plants to grow in the most unyielding soil. Even now he pulled up a handful of grass and examined the intricate parts of the wild plant. But his movements were clumsy, and the grass fell from deadened fingers.

“Curse this disease!” he yelled and struck the earth an angry blow.

He leaned against the tree and wiped his hands over his face in a futile gesture. Closing his eyes, he thought back to a happier time. He could see his farm. It hadn’t been much, just a few small acres he could work by himself. His two sons had been young then, but growing like suckling calves. They took care of the chickens and eagerly helped with many small jobs for him and for their mother.

Their mother—Deborah! She had shared his love for the land. Together, they were going to build the farm into a fine place for their sons. The muscles of Amos’ face contracted as he thought of his wife toiling alone. The years of hard labor and the impossible task of raising two boys alone had aged her, but to Amos, she was still the most beautiful woman in the world.

The ruin of his life had begun with a blister, a simple enough matter for a farmer who worked long hours. Deborah had put a poultice on it, yet the sore had persisted. Several days later, she frowned down at the angry wound. “I think it’s grown larger.”

“You worry too much,” Amos assured her with a tap on her nose.

She forced away her anxiety. “You’re probably right.”

But time proved the accuracy of her fears. By the end of the week, there was no doubt the nagging sore had consumed the palm of his hand. Amos saw his own apprehensions reflected in the eyes of his wife as she suggested he visit the priests. He parted from her that night, assuring her that all would be well, but two weeks of quarantine confirmed his worst fears. Leprosy!

Not permitted to return even to his wife, Amos had immediately become an outcast. Avoided and alone, he lived at the outskirts of civilization, granted no human contact for fear of spreading the dreaded disease. From a distance, he watched his young boys grow into men. He could only observe as Deborah wore out her body doing his work. It ate at his spirit even as the disease ate at his flesh.

The only connection he had with his family was when they came each day to leave him food. Deborah had to set it down and retreat to the opposite side of the road while he ate. In a moment, a simple blister had designated him the living dead.

He had, in fact, entertained the idea of killing himself. He knew his existence was a burden to his wife. Separated by an infinite roadway, he was helpless to give anything back. But when he had, in dejection, communicated his intentions to her, she’d become almost frantic in her pleading.

Amos groaned to himself as he remembered her lonely agony. How he had wanted to go to her and cradle her head against his chest, to stroke her hair and murmur comforting words. But he could only watch helplessly and promise to live.

It had been Deborah who, just days before, had brought him a glimmer of hope. The shine in her eyes had taken years off her face. “I have heard of a man who performs miracles,” she had said as she watched him eat. “Some say he’s a prophet. Others claim he is the Messiah. He teaches in the synagogues and drives out demons.”

Amos didn’t even look up from his meal. “I often hear rumors of miracle workers. Such people are popular subjects in my circle. Be assured, there is no truth in what you have heard.”

“Do you think, as your wife, I don’t hear as many rumors as you?”

Amos had never thought of that.

She continued in a low tone, excitement shaping each word, “He has healed Blind John.”

Amos gave a start. “You have seen him?” he asked in disbelief.

Deborah laughed. “He has seen me! He’s thrown away his cane and tells everyone about Jesus. And there are others. Many others. Amos…” she paused and unlawfully stepped across the gravel chasm. She stopped so near that he could smell the fragrance of her hair. “Amos,” she said again and handed him a large sack of food. “Go to him. Find him and come back to me.”

Wordlessly, Amos had taken the package and turned toward Capernaum.

Now he rose unsteadily to his feet. Balance was difficult, and he walked awkwardly, unable to feel the ground beneath his bare feet. Slowly, the disease had spread, killing nerves and tissues, turning his skin a deadly white, robbing him of all sensation. Because pain no longer warned him when he was damaging his body, the flesh on his hands and feet was wearing away. Amos shuddered as he looked at his ruined body. Could Jesus really heal him? It would take a miracle.

He began to encounter people in the outskirts of town and was required to warn them of his condition. “Unclean! Unclean!” he yelled, and unfailingly they made a wide berth around him. He was separate, untouchable, and time never dulled the humiliation.

“Where is the one called Jesus?” he asked. He received blank looks, shrugs, and even angry stares, but again and again he called out, “How can I find Jesus?” At last, someone answered, “Down by the shore!”

Amos continued through town, loudly proclaiming his own disgrace until he could see the waters of Galilee. Gathered on the shore was the largest crowd he had ever seen. How would he ever find Jesus in there?

It proved an easy task. People parted before him like the Red Sea. As he passed between the walls of humanity, doubts assailed him. Perhaps Jesus, too, would want nothing to do with him. Perhaps he would turn him away.

Suddenly, there before him stood a man who did not shrink into the crowd. He was plain; dirty and dark from long hours spent outside, but he radiated purpose and strength. And he waited for Amos to approach.

Amos fell silent. Slowly, awkwardly he knelt, painfully aware of his own unworthiness. “Lord,” he said, “if it is your will, you can make me clean.”

Amos didn’t know what he expected, but he was totally unprepared to feel a hand on his shoulder. He had not felt the touch of another human being for many years. His body jerked but the hand lingered, offering companionship, acceptance, worth—things he had not know for so long. Tears blurred his vision.

“I am willing,” Jesus said. “Be clean.”

Immediately, Amos felt sensation returning to his fingers and toes. Looking down through his tears, he could see that his hands were fully restored. His skin glowed with healthy color. With that one touch, Amos’ world had completely changed. In a gesture of deep gratitude, Amos put his own on hand on top of the Lord’s.

With a smile, Jesus said, “Go show yourself to the priests and offer the sacrifices Moses commanded as a testimony to them. But don’t tell anyone what happened.”

Amos arose and began his journey home with strong, confident steps. He would go to the priests. And then he would take his wife in his arms as he had longed to do thousands of times and tell her that once again those dreams were theirs to share.

Horray for Chick-fil-A!

The following was copied exactly from an email I received this week (therefore the funky formatting). It did not have a by-line, and the original sender was someone I do not know named Morrie Tuburgen. It’s a tremendous example of goodness and definitely worth sharing!!
chickFilAGod bless Chick-fil-A !!!!
Media Ignores Chick-fil-A’s Christian Motivated Charity in Ice Storm 

Two years ago Chick-fil-A made national headlines when company president Dan Cathy spoke out in support of traditional marriage.It wasn’t that he said anything “hateful”.  It was the traditional Christian belief he grew up with.  He just stated the same belief, supporting traditional marriage, that Obama claimed he had (in order to get elected).  But that was before his beliefs “evolved”, as he put it, once he was elected.  Yeah, right!  No duplicity there!  Also, you can keep your healthcare policy and doctor. Period.

Liberals and gays became unglued and launched massive protests against the restaurant chain.  Several mayors spoke out saying they would not allow any more Chick-fil-As to be built in their cities.  They tried boycotting the Christian owned company, but that backfired.  Instead, Chick-fil-A had a world record day with many locations selling out of food to the hundreds of thousands of supporters. Is it any surprise that the only news the liberal mainstream media has reported concerning Chick-fil-A has only been the negative? 

Remember last week when the ice storm hit the south?  The mainstream media showed footage of miles of cars stranded on the frozen interstates.  Several national news broadcasts I saw reported about school kids trapped on buses for almost 24 hours because of all of the ice and parents going frantic wondering where their kids were. In all of the icy gloom and doom, I bet you didn’t hear on NBC, ABC, MSNBC about the heroic and generous actions of a Chick-fil-A along Highway 280 in Birmingham, Alabama, did you? 

Mark Meadows, owner of the Chick-fil-A closed early the day of the storm and sent all of his employees home.  However, the employees and Meadows soon discovered they were not going to be able to get home with all of the stranded motorists stuck on the roads.  Some of the cars near the restaurant had been stranded for up to 7 hours.
Audrey Pitt, manager of the Chick-fil-A described the conditions: “Our store is about a mile and a half from the interstate and it took me two hours to get there.  It was a parking lot as far as I could see.  At one point there were more people walking than driving.” Meadows and his employees fired up the kitchen and began preparing chicken sandwiches as fast as they could.  They prepared several hundred sandwiches and then Meadows and his staff headed out and began distributing the hot meals to the stranded motorists on both sides of Highway 280. 

Some of the drivers tried to pay them for the sandwiches, but Meadows and his employees refused to take a single penny.  Pitt explained why: “This company is based on taking care of people and loving people before you’re worried about money or profit.  We were just trying to follow the model that we’ve all worked under for so long and the model that we’ve come to love. There was really nothing else we could have done but try to help people any way we could.” 

However, Meadows and Pitt were not through with their Good Samaritan efforts.  They helped push cars off the roads, up inclines and whatever else they could do to help.  Then they kept the restaurant open overnight so that stranded motorists could have a warm place to be.  A number of motorists slept in booths or on the benches.
Then in the morning, they again fired up the kitchen and prepared chicken biscuits for their overnight guests and once again they refused to accept any payment.  During that 24 hour period, this Chick-fil-A restaurant opened their kitchen, their doors and their hearts to hundreds of stranded motorists and they did so refusing to accept any payment.  As one source put it, Meadows and his staff lived up to the words Jesus spoke in Matthew 25:35 which states: “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in…” 

Their actions were truly generous and heroic as they also braved the frigid temperatures to hand out hundreds of hot meals to complete strangers.  And I bet you never heard anything about this from the mainstream media.  Had it been a group of homosexuals or atheists, it would have been all over the news from coast to coast.  It was too much against their liberal standards to report a Christian company doing something so positive for so many.
If you live in the Birmingham area (or are passing thru), make sure you stop in and visit the Chick-fil-A near Highway 280 to thank them for their generosity and Christian example.  While you’re there, order something to eat and give them your business as I think they deserve it.