I am not a huge fiction fan...
I don't sit around reading tons of fiction books for many reasons. Two of those reasons:
1) My time for reading is limited. If I am going to use my limited time for reading, I want it to be spent on things that are going to be helpful to me!
2) I hate to read things labelled "Christian" fiction that turn out to be carnal, flesh-filled, worldly... I am NOT filling my head with that junk.
So when I come across a Christian fiction book that is worth reading, I like to pass it on. Beyond the Gathering Storm by Janette Oke was such a book.
The book was given to me along with several others by the same author. It started out slow, and there were points where I was concerned where the book might go, but I am glad I stuck around and finished it.
It's about a brother and a sister who pursue relationships.
Now let's park right there and let me explain how picky I am. I don't do "romance" books. You know... those books about wooing and flirting and emotions out of control. Not interested. They aren't about love. They are about self-serving and gratification with no moral benefit to the reader. Yep. I am picky.
But I enjoy relationship books that keep things clean, God-honoring, and have good moral lessons.
So, with that said, this brother and sister pursue very different relationships in very different ways. Both are professing Christians who start out with standards, but one allows those standards to be chipped away in temptation. Compromises here and there. Before you know it, one sibling is snared into a relationship that causes great inner (and outer) conflict. You watch... um, read... the consequences and see the downward spiral. You see the steps that lead to the consequences.
The moral lesson of the book?
2 Corinthians 6:14 "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"
The book does a great job displaying this truth and the stumbling block of thinking that "we can change them."
Things I loved about the book:
The book kept the "physical" side VERY clean... clean enough that I plan on letting my daughter read it. Literally, when there was kissing, it just said, "They kissed." No details about planting a wet sloppy one. Gag. So nothing there to incite passions that don't need to be awakened.
It showed both sides of the coin... the sibling who looked for the godly character as well as the sibling whose eye was swayed by the glitter of the world.
The ending was exactly what I had hoped for.
It wasn't sappy or chick-flicky!
The book is a great launching point for discussion with teens on what to look for in a potential mate. It is also a great starter for discussing having your standards firmly in place before temptation confronts you!
Things I didn't like about the book:
The Gospel was not clearly presented. It was a social "Go with God" presentation at best.
There was a serious issue with two people being unchaperoned in nonpublic places frequently, AND there was kissing frequently between two unmarried characters. Nothing blatant and gross, but they were not married. If you have a standard against those things, you might want to discuss it with any children who plan on reading the book. I recommend 12 years and older.
I didn't agree much with the decisions of the parents where the daughter was concerned... but that's a whole other story.
The book is definitely a great read and the lesson it teaches made it worth the time.
When the BMW Blog said it was going to do a blog hop on "10 Things You Wish People Knew About Your Field," I jumped on the opportunity... I jumped on it like a missionary when they see cheddar cheese on the shelf for the first time at the grocery store. Why?
Well, on deputation, I was asked all kinds of questions. I had such a limited perspective! I had only been on a short survey trip here in Southern Asia (country name withheld intentionally.) I didn't have the big picture, yet I had to answer questions. I want to set the record straight...
For example, on deputation I emphasized trash. Yes, there is a lot of rubbish in the city. So, yes... true story. And I thought about idolatry. Again... true. I thought about all the negative things because they were shocking to me. But my limited perspective blinded my eyes to...
I live in the most beautiful country on the planet.
Mountains that literally can leave you speechless. They are THAT beautiful.
Even the hill country is so breathtaking that you can't help but stop, take a picture, and admire the view.
By the way, speaking of taking pictures...
I live in a photographer's paradise!
Colors... stories... extremes... and rich culture. And the cutest children!!! National Geographic Magazine regularly chooses pictures from this place for the cover.
I certainly wish I was a better photographer, but I think a toddler could take better pictures than me!
I live among some of the most resilient, flexible, and content people in the world.
I watched them after the earthquakes...
I watch them now during the current petrol crisis and cooking gas shortage.
Living in relief shelters, cooking over firewood, riding on the top of buses.
They just adapt and work around the difficulties.
When I talk about how bad the roads are here (the dangerous driving, the terrible road conditions, etc) I am not exaggerating.
If anything, I am putting it in the nicest way possible so that I don't scare my Granny. No, if you haven't been outside the USA, you will not be able to comprehend it. Even well traveled people who have been to many third world countries have come to our country and admitted... these are the craziest roads on the planet. Please pray for us!
Cooking here is mostly from scratch... as in the REAL "from scratch."
If your definition of "from scratch" includes recipes with canned cream of chicken soup, a seasoning packet, or a box of anything... well, that used to be my definition, too.
Christmas is a precious time here.
It takes a lot more effort to make it feel like Christmas here, and that has caused us to treasure every moment, every decoration, every Christmas card, every scented candle...
There are a lot of fun things to do here!
Before we moved here, I thought my children's childhood was tossed out the window. I thought they would never get to experience real fun again... Boy was I wrong!
Living here isn't for the lazy or the faint of heart, but God's grace and strength are sufficient for the weak... like me!
Persecution is real here.
There was once a time when I thought I had suffered persecution... rude, anti-Christian Facebook comments or someone rejecting a Gospel tract very rudely, or being called names because I am a Christian.
But if you ever sit down and listen to the testimonies of those who have suffered real persecution, like I have listened to, you will blush that you ever considered such harmless things persecution... just like I blushed. The husband and wife (far right) in this picture shared their story with us... merciless beatings, over and over... denied public water sources... rejected by family, by neighbors, by a community.
Yet, they would not deny the Saviour.
The Gospel works here, too!
I remember on deputation, a woman walked up to me and said something that totally shocked me. I have never forgotten her words. She said, "Well, I just don't see how those people could ever get saved. They are so steeped in idolatry! That country is so dark!"
Honestly, I was so offended I had to bite my tongue. The statement reeked of pride as much as it reeked of ignorance. You see, it isn't how beautifully we speak, how dynamic we are, how creative we are... the power isn't in us. It is in the Gospel. The Gospel is perfect for every culture, every race, and every sin. And when it comes to being lost sinners? Well, we were all in the same exact boat... the sin of idolatry as well as the sin of pride... all rowing swiftly together toward destruction. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
It has been said that this is spiritually the darkest country on the face of the earth.
But let me shout it...
Let me shout it loud and clear...
the power of the Gospel isn't effected one bit by the level of darkness.
Want a little more good news?
This country is listed as the fasted growing Christian nation in the world right now.
Yes, the Gospel works here, too.
Thank you for joining me on this journey as I thought about 10 things I really wanted you to know about where I serve. Please continue on to the next blog post on this blog hop...
Take a trip...
Head on over to the >>Whither Thou Goest<< blog.
The time has come.
My 20th high school reunion. I cannot attend because I live in Asia! But, nevertheless, the reunion definitely has me reflecting... reflecting on the old me. I am not sure that many people from high school would really recognize me. Oh, they would know my face and my name, but I am not the same person at all.
I know what you are thinking. Everybody changes. They mature. That's true, but that's not what I am talking about.
You see, in high school I wasn't really a Christian. I carried the title of Christian around. I even went to church. When I was 9 years old I even said a prayer and was baptized. But I had no idea of how to really become a Christian.
And that's why there was no change in my life.
When I was younger, I was so shy and insecure. I tried to mask it by pretending to be confident and outgoing, but inside was a different story. I was hurting. I hated life. I hated myself. My family was falling apart, and I had no joy. I was pretty good at pasting on a smile.
High school was actually very difficult for me. No, not the academic part... though Pre-Calculus threw me for a loop! I actually made great grades for the most part.
But while I was in high school, I didn't understand my value.
Over at the Baptist Missionary Women website, they are doing a crazy fun blog hop... I couldn't help but join in on the excitement. What is the assignment? Five fun and interesting things about me...
Buckle your seat belt.