Peace

Peace

Thursday, May 8, 2014

HOPE


      My church started a new series two weeks ago called 50 Days of Unleashing Hope, and of course it has gotten me to think a lot about hope. My own hope, but also hope for the whole Earth. A few months ago, I had hope that God would open the door in my life that he wanted me to go through. While I had hope and I trusted in God, I also was experiencing despair and anxiety about what my future was going to hold. I was in the process of hearing back from the graduate schools I had applied to for Fall 2014, and my prospects were not looking good. I had also just went through the same thing for the Spring 2014 semester, so rejection seemed to be all I had to look forward to. That being said, I never once lost hope in the fact that God knew what my future held, even if I didn't. Then, at the beginning of April I finally heard the good news I had been waiting for. I was accepted into graduate school! I was absolutely thrilled, and when I read that acceptance letter from Antioch University New England the amount of hope I had in my future as a graduate student skyrocketed.

Antioch University New England, the school I will be attending in August!
       But then, with my hope greatly increased, people started talking about coming of the apocalypse, and how certain factors (like the blood moons that have been occurring) are pointing to biblical evidence of the end times. Now, I do not know if these signs point to the coming of Jesus, and no one but God will ever know when the time for the new heaven and earth to be created is. Still, it bothered me a little bit because I am getting ready to begin my career as a Conservation Biologist and all this talk about blood moons, the apocalypse and the end times have had me wondering lately what the point is to earning my master's degree, if God is going to come soon and destroy the earth. Then I remembered a discussion we had about this topic in my Environmental Ethics class. The fact is, we as Christians are called, from the very beginning of creation, to be good stewards of God’s creation. This is apparent throughout the Old Testament and well as the New Testament. This being said, some still believe that taking care of God’s creation is pointless because one day it will all be destroyed, or burnt up and there will be nothing left to care for anyway. 

       However, Hebrews 1:2-3 is a clear indicator that no matter what lies in the future, we should care for the Earth in the present. “But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being,sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” This passage talks about Christ as being the heir of all things in the universe. Jesus Christ “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (verse 2); he sits at the right hand of God. Because Christ is the heir over the cosmos, we should want to keep and protect his inheritance for when he comes in the future. Colossians 1:15-21 also supports this point. In Jesus, all things were created and Jesus is the firstborn over all creation, things in heaven and on earth. We should simply want to look after creation (even if it is going to burn) because God, our heavenly Father and Creator, made it and saw that it was good.

       "He is the image of the invisible God. the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or ruler or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all thing hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or things in heaven by making peace though his blood shed on the cross" (Colossians 1: 15-20). 



Monday, May 5, 2014

Burning Sky

      

       The novel Burning Sky by Lori Benton is a fantastic novel. I was thoroughly impressed by the historical accuracy, and how much the author researched into the American Revolution and what actually took place after the fact. The novel tells the story of Willa Obenchain, who abducted by Mohawk Indians before the war began at the young age of fourteen, felt compelled to return to her home in the New York frontier where she lived before the kidnapping. While the Revolutionary War is over, she returns to find things have greatly changed. Her parents are no where to be found, and her world seems to be falling apart. She becomes determined to live a single solitary life, dependent on only herself. Then, on the border of her father's lands meets a wounded Scotsman, and her idea of a solitary life starts changing.


       This is a beautiful story filled with romance, pain and heart tugging moments that made it hard to put down. I remember reading a story when I was a child about a young girl who was also abducted by Indians as a child, and I was super excited to read another novel along the same lines and about early America. I was slightly disappointing that there was not more Native American culture and lifestyle added to the story line. However, this did not change my opinion of the book in the least. I loved that while romance was a big part of the story, there was a lot more going on. There is violence and hate and struggles that Willa and the other characters have to contend with, as well as other side stories that added to the overall plot. I highly recommend this book, but readers should know that it is not a gooey romance, but a complex novel filled with love, forgiveness and of course healing from the past's trials. 
       Note: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for my honest review. 


Ascent from Darkness: How Satan's Soldier Became God's Warrior

       

       Ascent from Darkness by Michael Leehan is not a book one should read lightly or take lightly. It is dark and intense from the beginning to the end. There is no denying that is an excellently written story: gripping and emotional. It is also one that I believe every mature Christian should read when they are ready to learn about what Satanism is and what it entails. The novel is the true story of the author, Micheal Leehan who, for 20 years of his life, was a hard core satanist. When he was 33 years old he made the decision to renounce God and allow Satan into his heart and into his life. The book retells his journey and transformation from satanism, which is filled with darkness, loss and suffering, to the day when he finally allows the goodness and light of God back into his soul.

       When I started reading this book I found that once I picked it up I could not put it down. I read the entire novel in one sitting because I needed to finish it, to see what happened, to see a happy ending to his life of misery, evil and darkness. While I did enjoy this book, I wish I would have known what I was getting into before I read it. It was scary, and opened my eyes to a world I knew existed, but knew absolutely nothing about. It is terrifying to me how well a Satanist blends in, and how one who serves Satan strives to ruin the lives of those filled with the light of God. When I finished it, I found myself incredibly uneasy, and I barely slept that night. I was full of apprehension and fear, and I discerned a spiritual oppression around me for a few days. My mind was full of thoughts of Satan and the book, which is why I warn those who are not ready to learn more about spiritual warfare and about what goes on unseen in the world of Satan and evil to prayfully consider reading this book. It has the capacity to overwhelm the reader if not careful. All that aside, however, this is an excellent novel in which God eventually triumphs over evil and as I said before I definitely recommend this to a mature Christian who is strong in their faith.

       Note: I received this book for free from Booklook Bloggers for my honest review.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Just 18 Summers



       Just 18 Summers, a novel by Rene Gutteridge and Michelle Cox, is inspiring, emotional, and God filled. This novel is told from the point of view of four different families and takes place after the tragic death of Butch Browning's wife, Jenny. Each family is at a different stage in life  as well as parenthood and as the summer flies by they come to realize that the time they have with their children is precious and will not last forever.  Butch, after losing his wife, has to deal with the  struggles of being a single parent for a grieving  eight year old little girl, as well as feeling lost and hopeless with grief of his own. The Anderson's are faced with an fast approaching empty nest as well as their daughter marrying a young man they know nothing about and do not yet approve of. The Buckley's, who are the Anderson's neighbors, are so focused on providing their kids with everything they could need and more that the have forgotten what their children desperately need from them, love and attention. The fourth family, the O'Reilly's are expecting their first child and dealing with the doubts and emotions that come with becoming a parent for the first time. Each family faces the truth of what really matters, that they have a limited time together as a family and need to make each moment count. 

       As I was reading this book I found myself laughing and crying throughout. I truly enjoyed this book, and even though I am not a mother myself I found that I could relate to what the characters were going through because of the fact that I have a little sister who is 12 years old and turning into a teenager faster than I would like. This book reminded me that time with her as a child is very fleeting. I need to make the most of her childhood now while I can. Pretty soon she will not want to be tucked in and kissed every night, she won't want to cuddle with me while watching a movie, and she probably will not ask for my advice like she does now.

       I found that I within the four families I enjoyed reading and elated most to Butch's story, not because I am a single parent, but because my father was a single parent during my baby years, and I know first hand how much of a struggle it can be to provide everything for a family on your own. 

       The biggest takeaway for me from this novel is that I have to make every moment count. Life is short, whether or not we want it to be. We need to make the most out of every situation, good or bad. My favorite part of the entire book came on page 363 when I read this quote, "God is not at all restrained by time. What I've perhaps wasted, he can multiply miraculously." I love this quote for various reason but mainly because it is true and gives the reader hope in God, hope for mending the wasted moments in life. 

    Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishing in exchange for my honest review.