Sunday, April 20, 2008

Harry Potter and Beth Moore

Anyone who knows anything about Harry Potter and Beth Moore knows the very high unlikelihood of those two names ever occuring together in the same sentence. Harry Potter is... well, who needs to explain Harry Potter? Boy magician-in-training, JK Rowling's phenomena in the publishing world. Beth Moore is just about as famous, in Christian womens' circles, that is. She writes incrediable Bible studies, gives hilarious presentations, and mooches sunchips from innocent bystanders.

So this past week has been noteworthy in that I both started, and finished, the nearly 800 pages of the last Harry Potter book, and Heather invited me to a Bible study that is showing the latest Beth Moore Bible study, on the topic of asher (biblical happiness), and both of these events provided inspiration to my life in different ways.

I've only read the first Harry Potter book, and now the last, and actually I am not really a huge HP fan. It's great fun to read and author is enviably imaginative. The books are certainly worth all the hype. Part of my lack of zeal is because the Harry Potter world is all about witchcraft, which the Bible very clearly states as a sin (Gal 5:20). But then, the children's book I'm writing is full of magic, both good and evil. The good magic I am carefully (and prayerfully) linking to the power of God. I'm trying to make my unicorns, in their highest and best form to be servants of God, like a type of angel, whose powers only work when they are using them to help others. The Harry Potter books also distinguish between good use of magic and the "dark arts", but the author makes no attempt to explain where the power for magic comes from, either good or evil.

Anyway, my point for bringing up Harry Potter isn't to debate whether it's okay stuff for Bible-living Christians to be reading (I'll just plead Romans 14 and leave it at that), but how the last HP book inspired me with some new ideas for my own fantasy world, much in the same way the Twilight series did. The book "stirred the juices", so to speak, so that my journal and my calendar and my purse notebook are all bristling with notes about ideas I need to find time to write into the story, itself.

Ah, finding time to write! I've written nothing in this blog for over two weeks, and in those same two weeks less than 700 words on my novel. My "valley" Word document is open on this computer as I am typing this blog, in the theory that bloggin will start up some writing momentum so that when I'm done here I'll seamlessly switch over to writing fantasy...)

In the same way that Harry Potter has provided inspiration for my writing life, Beth Moore has provided a much more important sort of inpsiration, for my spiritual life. I highly recommend the three hour sessions on this DVD we are watching, A Day With Beth Moore (you can order it on the Women of Faith web site, it's listed under Beth Moore: preconference). Her talk is based on the Hebrew word "asher" which is translated as blessed, or happy. Two Hebrew words are translated to blessed in the Old Testament, "barak" and "asher." Barak means "you are blessed" - it is positional. Asher means when "you feel blessed" - it is emotional. Biblical happiness, like generic happiness, is based on our circumstances... but it is not bound by circumstances. There is no circumstance in our lives that God cannot work in. If you make happiness your life's pursuit, it will become an idol to you (2 Kings 21:7), but if you make God your pursuit, happiness will follow. Happiness cannot be obtained by pursuing it, it is only something you can receive. Biblical happiness comes when we are awakened to a work of God.

Well I haven't been pursuing God very much these days... I guess I've been trying to manufacture my own happiness... and my own writing, too (no wonder why I haven't been very productive!) My goal this week is to spend time with God everyday in his Word and in prayer (I am rediscovering how wonderful it is to pray through a Psalm). I have not set any writing goals. Instead, I want to see where God takes me with my writing this week if I take the time first to pray about my writing. But prayer for my relationship with Him, with my family, my friends and church family will come first.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

beware of starting Bible studies

Beware of starting Bible studies on better marriages - it’s sure to backfire. I feel like I am on the brink of a cold war with my husband, and the only reason why it’s on the brink and not in deep is because he’s never home, always working, working, working. He just started a new business in January, and we’ve had no regular income since then. So of course he has to work, work, work if we ever want to stop living on credit cards and maybe one day start to get them paid off (me picking up more hours isn’t really practical when it means paying for babysitting for three kids... but I have been trying to work a couple nights a week after the kids are in bed). I feel like I’m not married anymore but this fellow comes and sleeps at our house everynight and eats some food and occasionally leaves us some money in return. Okay, it’s not that bad, but my emotions tell me it is practically that bad.

So here is the premise of this Bible study we’re doing, based on the book "Love and Respect"

Ephesians 5:33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

The Greek word used for "love" in this verse is agape, the unconditional, self-sacrificing type of love. So the author contends that since the man is required to give unconditional love to his wife, it follows that the wife should give unconditional respect to her husband. Men crave respect like women crave love.

But as soon as I learned this, my evil twin soul rebelled. But I don’t want to give him unconditional respect. He has to earn it! I just erased several sentences of ranting and raving about why he doesn’t deserve unconditional respect. The point is, easy to understand but absolutely the hardest thing to live, is that it is possible to give unconditional love AND respect because that is what Jesus did for us.

My battle is more with myself than with B. I understand, but I have such a hard time doing. Duh, that might because I haven’t been spending any time in the Word or with God lately... Like for several months now. Where else do you get the strength to accomplish the impossible?

I still haven’t picked up my Bible but I have started reading Oswald Chamber’s "Still Higher for His Highest" (another great devotional in the fashion of "My Utmost for His Hightest"). Here are some fantastic quotes from it that have provided me with inspiration.

Faith cannot be intellectually defined; faith is the inborn capacity to see God behind everything, the wonder that keeps you an eternal child.... Beware of losing the wonder, and the first thing that stops wonder is religious conviction... the only evidence of salvation and sanctification is that the sense of wonder is developing, not at things as they are, but at the One who made them as they are.

When the facts of life have humbled us, when introspection has stripped us of our own miserable self-interest and we receive a startling diagnosis of ourselves by the Holy Spirit, we are by that painful experience brought to the place where we can hear the marvelous message - propfounder than the profoundest philosophies earth ever wove, "Come to Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Until this experience comes, men may patronize Jesus Christ, but they do not come to Him for salvation.

Our heavenly Father has an amazing sense of humor; He will bring across your path the kind of people who manifest to you what you have been to Him. If you have been obstinate, that is why you have got that fellow around you just now, and Jesus says, "Show him the attitude I showed you." It means showing the disposition of Jesus Christ to the man who deliberately wrongs you, and it takes some doing.