May I Have this Dance?

A shy young man musters up his courage one evening and forces himself to go to a dance being held in his small town. Drawing in a deep, calming breath, he wipes his damp palms on the front of his tan dress pants and walks through the door.
For the first part of the evening, he simply does reconnaissance. He sips his cola, nursing it until the ice cubes have melted and he’s drinking slightly coloured water. All the time he’s watching, working out the best girl to approach with his request. His eyes are drawn to the flashy ones, the brightly-coloured glittering ones that everyone else’s eyes are drawn to. And finally he works up enough nerve to approach one of them…

dancing-pair-classic-silhouette-isolated-31602100I’m blogging today over at the Word Alive Press site. Check out the rest of my post on the subtle dance – and endless perseverance – involved in finding just the right publishing partner for your work: http://www.wordalivepress.ca/blogs/57

Press on, my friends. Press on,
Sara

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A Prayer for Canada (reposted from July 2012)

Canada flag2

He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.

His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.

Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things.

And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.

(Psalm 72:8, 17-19)

May we be reminded this Canada Day that we live in a country founded on a belief in God’s sovereignty and blessing. Join me in prayer for a turning back to God of our nation. May His glorious name be once again proclaimed here and around the world.

A Prayer for Canada

Father God,

As we raise high and wave our flag with pride today, fill us with gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy and for those who have sacrificed their lives so that we might have them. And fill us with compassion for those who do not know what it is to live and speak and worship freely.

As we meet with family and friends around a heavily-laden table, may our grace include a moment of silent reflection for those who don’t know how they or their children will eat today. May we show them respect, not only by exhibiting restraint, but by resolving to take one step, however small, to alleviate their suffering.

As we raise our glasses in salute to a dominion that has, as its foundation, a deep and abiding trust in you, give us an appreciation for the almost unparalleled access to health care and clean water that we enjoy. Remind us that one person, obeying your command to give water to the thirsty and food to the hungry, can change the world.

As we stand and gaze up at the heavens, in awe of the breathtaking display as fireworks streak and blaze across the night sky, may we be overwhelmed by the beauty of creation. And may we be sobered by the realization that we all have a responsibility to do what we can to take care of and save it.

And above all, as we celebrate this great country today, may we be grateful for all the blessings we have received. And, even more, may we give thanks to you, the one who has blessed us so that we, in turn, might be a blessing to others.

God, keep our land glorious and free.

Amen

Happy Canada Day everyone!

Sara

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It Takes a Village… to Write a Story

There’s something fun going on over at the Novel Matters site:

Novel-Matters-Medallion-for-web-fonVarious authors are contributing to a serial story called Out of the Garden, something of a fantasy with an arthritic, former-fairy-herself woman about to set out on a quest to save her fairy queen, and lots of twists and turns in plot. Each Friday a new writer adds their own, 300 word, take on the story. Today it was my turn. Click on the button above, or go to: http://www.novelmatters.com/2014/05/out-of-garden-part-15.html to catch up on the story and read my contribution.

Out of the Garden cover

Like I always say, the secret to success in social media is community. We need to work together to support each other and our work, and to help spread the word to others. Linking up with others makes you feel a little less like one tiny whisper in the overwhelming cacophony of noise that is the world wide web. Plus it’s fun, and there’s a lot to be said for that.

Press on, my friends. Press on,

Sara

 

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Into the Light Again

(reposted from March 31, 2013)

A new dawn. A new world. A new hope.

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. (from Matthew 28, ESV)

 

empty tomb

Death is conquered. Despair is turned to hope. Relationship is restored for all who believe. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.

He is risen, my friends. He is risen indeed.

Sara

 

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Enter the Darkness Again

(re-posted from March 29, 2013)

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed.

And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

cross

Yes, hope and joy come on Sunday, but for today, enter into the darkness and just settle there …

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Things Christians (Including Me) Really Need to Stop Saying (Part Two)

As promised, today I am addressing the second thing that, based on comments I read on blogs that reviewed the Noah movie, as well as a lifetime spent in the church, which I love with all my heart, Christians really need to stop saying. And that is:

 Say whatever you want. On the day of judgement, when you face your God and Creator, we’ll see which one of us is right, won’t we? 

(The “na na na na na na” that always follows the expressing of this sentiment is generally silent, but deafening).

Fellow believers, are we actually so desperate to make (or score) a point that we can make light of the fate of another human being’s immortal soul? Do you honestly believe you will be able to enjoy a second of smugness when that person is condemned to an eternity (an eternity! That’s forever, and ever, and ever, without end) separated from everything that is holy and good and light and hope and peace and joy?

cosmosI’ll help you out here. When we are all standing in the presence of Almighty God (the one who spoke creation into being and who rules all things, the one who is so magnificent in his full radiant glory that no human being can look upon his face and live) the last, the very, very last thing any of us, on either side, will be is smug.

Jesus Christ came to seek and save those who are lost. If you claim to be a believer, you are a follower of Jesus Christ and your mandate must line up with his. And that mandate is not to beat unbelievers down in an argument, or to taunt them with threats of eternal damnation (although the threat is real and cannot be shied away from), or to rub your hands together in glee at the thought that one day they will see the light and it will be too late for them to do anything about it. Your mandate is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, in words and in actions, and then to fall down on your knees and plead for the salvation of that other person.

Even if they did offer you a snarky comment on someone’s blog that one time.

There is no room in the heart of a person who professes to be a believer for pride or arrogance, for mockery, for sarcasm, for gleefulness, for coldness, for hardness, for smugness or for reveling in the fate of those who continue to reject Jesus Christ.
The only godly response is for our hearts to break—even to shatter—at the thought that any should be condemned to an eternity apart from Him.

I need to work on this. There is, in all of us, an innate desire for justice and the urge to demand that we see that justice done here and now. There have been moments I have felt something almost like consolation at the idea that a person who has hurt me deeply, or who has been so hand-wringingly, teeth-grindingly, beyond-all-belief arrogant and mocking online will one day “get theirs”.  (Incidentally, most people are too cowardly to be that way in person, but a pen name or, worse, the word Anonymous, serves as a kind of “virtual white hood,” removing normal societal restraints of courtesy, decency, and empathy.)

It’s a natural response. It’s a human response. Which is precisely the problem. We, and all mankind, would be far better served if we took on the attitude of Christ. The one who prayed for forgiveness for those who crucified him even as he hung on the cross dying.

cross-in-a-cemetery (pd)I can’t say anyone has ever offended me more deeply than that.

So can my response be any less?

 

Press on, my friends. Press on,

Sara

 

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Things Christians (Including Me) Really Have to Stop Saying

I admit it. This week I got sucked into spending the better part of two days roving around looking at various reviews of the movie Noah. Then, abandoning good sense and judgment, I kept scrolling down into some of the comment sections. This is dark territory, my friends, on almost any blog, certainly on any that give off the slightest hint of controversy.

If you do choose to venture into the quagmire that is most comment sections (oh the disastrously devastating combination of platform and anonymity!) the only advice I can give you is to proceed with extreme caution. And, in most cases, keep your mouth shut.

My fellow Christians, this advice is mainly for you. Yes, we are called to be ready to give a defense of our faith (note the word defense, not offense), but given what I saw this week on several blogs, I have to say it appears the better part of wisdom, 99% of the time, to simply not respond at all.

mouth shutI read hundreds of comments, pretty much evenly divided among believers and non-believers. To be honest, most of the time I had difficulty differentiating between the two. I can tell you this, exchanges between two people—usually a self-proclaimed Christian and a non-Christian, although Christian versus Christian was heart-breakingly common—that went on and on, always degenerated, never elevated.

I can’t tell you how many “Christians” spewed animosity and contempt, called people names, ridiculed, mocked, used sarcasm (hint: starting any comment with the words, “Let me guess…” or “So then I suppose you would say that…” should make every Christian pause and pray hard before continuing – a good practice before making any comment anyway), and generally attacked on every level their sparring partner, all while claiming to be filled with the love and compassion of Jesus. They could prove this, many claimed, not by what they said or how they said it, but solely based on the fact that “God knows my heart.” Which, by the way, should be far less a source of consolation for each of us than it appears to be, and far more a source of abject terror.

If you do ignore the advice to refrain from foolish and unprofitable arguments (from Solomon, not from me) please, I beg you brothers and sisters, do refrain from pulling out the sentiments expressed by Christians over and over (and over, and over, and over). They’re not new; I’ve heard them from countless believers in countless situations for at least the last twenty years. But they are getting extremely old.

The first one, in no particular order, is:

 If we were Muslim (or the faith of your choice), they would never (fill in the blank: take our prayers out of school, twist the stories in our Holy Book around to suit their evil purposes, be so mean to us etc., etc.).

And that assertion is inevitably followed by: Intolerance is not permitted in our country, except when it comes to us. Apparently society respects every other faith; it’s only acceptable to persecute Christians. (It loses something—namely the laid-on-thick sarcasm and the long-suffering look—in print, but you won’t have to work hard to imagine either, I’m sure.)

And we say it like that’s a bad thing.

(*As a side note, be very, very careful what you label as “persecution.” There are people in the world today suffering from real persecution; in North America it’s rarely us. And just so you know, having the server set your dishes on the table even when you are clearly still in the middle of praying for your meal does not qualify as persecution. Neither does not being able to sing carols in our public schools, or having someone refuse to return your “Merry Christmas” greeting which, incidentally, I have never, not once, had happen to me, a lesson not to believe everything I hear on CNN about public—i.e. silent majority—opinion.)

I have been guilty of the above response myself, but I believe we really need to stop saying it, for two reasons. The first is that there is no way to say it without sounding like you are whining. And those of you who are parents know that whining does not invoke sympathy; it invokes a headache. It does not win the other person over to your side; it fills them with contempt.

And secondly, if we are treated differently than everyone else, our response should be a simple yet heartfelt – yay! The fact that we often are, shows that the world looks at us differently than they do everyone else. According to Jesus, that’s a good thing. To be fair, this response comes a lot more from the fact that there is incomprehensible power in the Word of God,

Bibleand that the historical figure of Jesus Christ continues to be largely revered, than that we have done a whole lot to earn respect (or even hostility). That takes having the courage to stand up and speak truth in love and then back that truth up with a lifestyle that actually draws people to God instead of driving them away. But still, it’s a start.

The day we get lumped in with everyone else and start being treated exactly the same—which it sounds like we are demanding when we claim otherwise—will be a sad day indeed for the Church of Jesus Christ. So embrace the fact that we are given special treatment. Celebrate it. Just make sure it’s because we are accurately, authentically, honourably and with great courage and humility representing the cause of Christ, not because we’re annoying.

And by the way, in case you’re still clinging to the hope that it will, our treatment at the hands of society isn’t going to get any better. It gets steadily worse from here on out, until the point we likely will experience true persecution. Which, while it isn’t something to be sought out, isn’t a bad thing either. Just read James. Or I Peter. Or II Timothy. Or Hebrews. Or… well, pretty much the entire New Testament. Suffering produces perseverance.

The church in North America has grown awfully soft (hence the whining). A little (or a lot) of suffering (again, be careful how you toss around that term) can only result in the strengthening and empowering of believers to untether themselves from society, choose once and for all one side or the other (and to Christians and non-Christians alike, in case you are confused about this, not choosing is choosing) and persevere until the end.
If I sound like I’m preaching, know that I am preaching at myself every bit as much as at any of you. For the proof of that, I can only say that God knows my heart. heartAnd I tremble at the thought.

Press on, my friends. Press on.

Sara

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