Thursday, September 1, 2016

How Christians Should Treat Those of Other Faiths

How should I treat those who are of a different faith than me?

How would Jesus treat them?

According to my faith, anyone who does not believe and confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ is condemned to be separated from Him for eternity.

If I fear those who are of another faith, how will they hear the Good News?

If I shy away from interacting with other faiths, how is Christ being represented to them?

Christians, if we are afraid of those who are different, we passively watch them head to a godless eternity.

Yes, they may dress differently, speak differently, and practice a different religion than mine. But they are lost. They may not have heard the Gospel. They are loved by God.

It is more comfortable to focus on the good people that Jesus died for. Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., you know, the nice Christian people. But Jesus also died for Hitler, Napoleon, the man who developed nuclear weapons. He died for Saul, the man who was persecuting the early church. Many people reject His gift of salvation, but that does not change the fact that His death would cover their sins if they accept Him as Lord of All.

As Christians, if we do not share our faith with those who practice other religions, why are we even on earth? If we only share our faith with those who look like us, talk like us, act like us, are we really being obedient to God?

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Memorial Day Rambling

It's Memorial Day. Again.

I feel distinctly unamerican in thinking this, but it's not that important to me. In fact, this holiday, as well as the other militaristic holidays, make me sad. I am saddened, because even though the military's actions are completely opposite to Jesus' teachings, the military will be praised and honored in churches around the US.

I struggle with praising a military that is so out of sync with my Savior's teachings. How can I thank them for killing, when I view murder and execution as a sin?

I struggle with glorifying war and conflict, when I follow the Prince of Peace.

Believers, revering the military in the church just goes to show how much of culture has gotten in our faith. Yes, we are told to pray for leaders (1 Timothy 2:2) and respect those in authority (Romans 13:1-7), but we are not told to revere the military. It has become synonymous to Christians in the USA, that to be a Christian, one must be highly patriotic as well. This is not a biblical concept. Yes, we are to pray for and respect leaders, but we are God's ambassadors to the world before we identify with any nationality. In God, there is not Jew or Greek, slave or free, Syrian or American. God's categories are a bit different: Follower of Christ or Non-Follower of Christ.

I'll even go as far as to say that nationalism has no place in any church or in the lives of Christians. Celebrating one's country in the sanctuary of the church is a form of worship, but it is not worshiping God, but a created country. Nationalism puts a country in the place of God and also further divides Christians around the globe.

What would the world look like if Christians in every nation put God above their culture, their nationality, their work? What if those who follow Christ refused to follow their countries into war, because to kill an enemy would either be to kill a brother in Christ or to condemn someone to hell?

There's Another Way

Instead of following the culture's traditions and object of praise for this holiday, I move that Christians should have a different focus on Memorial Day, and in fact all military holidays.

What would happen if all Christians in the US did not celebrate the military, but rather celebrated Jesus?

For Memorial Day, we would remember Jesus' sacrifice for us. We would focus on how His death and resurrection means that we are not kept imprisoned by sin.

For Independence Day, we would celebrate our freedom from sin. We are no longer captives to our old lives, but we are set free to follow God.

For Veteran's Day, we would remember the martyrs who died for the faith. We would study their livings and their teachings to learn from them and their faith.

There are those who will probably be furious with me for even suggesting that Christians should not revere the military.

But my first identity is in Christ, not the nation I was born in. This means that when my culture and my country diverge from my faith, I stay with my faith even though culture protests.

My first allegiance is to the King of Kings, not the elected officials of my country. This means that when I am told to break God's law in favor of following man's law, I will follow God's law, regardless of the consequences.

My top priority is not my own safety or security, or even my country's security, but rather it is to spread the gospel wherever I go. If I suffer or even die for my faith, then I will have followed the examples of Jesus and His disciples.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

When Does Owning Become Hoarding?

My goal for this year is to simplify. I ended 2014 sorting, downsizing, and decluttering. Before December, I packed away all but 9 sets of our clothes as our moving plans proceeded. In the last days of 2014, I set out 4 outfits to last until we unpacked at our new home.

As my clothing options decreased, I didn't feel deprived in the slightest. I was disturbed as I searched for non-clothing items I prematurely packed, how I would come across stashes of clothes in various parts of our bags & boxes. I was ashamed that I actually hadn't missed more than half of my clothes.

When I was a volunteer in Costa Rica, I had 3 pairs shoes (dressy flats, work, everyday) 3 skirts, 3 jeans, 3-4 capris, 4-5 nice tops, 2 sweatshirts, and 4-5 t-shirts. Now, I have 4 jeans, 3 capris, 5 pairs of shoes (dressy flats, dressy boots, dressy professional, everyday, winter/hiking boots). I have used the same small black purse for over a year, although now I have a canvas bag for when I can't fit everything I need in my purse.

I know that others have more clothes, more shoes, more purses than I do. However, just because I can think of examples of those I am doing "better" than (have they lived in 3 apartments in 2 countries over the course of 4 years?), we are to compare ourselves to others. Christ is our measuring standard. His Word is our to guide & direct us.

John the Baptizer gives a new definition of minimalism in Luke 3:11, as he answered the crowd's question of what they should do: “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

My first thought when I read this is "What about laundry day? If I only have one set of clothes, what will I wear when I wash my clothes?" I can have problems with my blood sugar, so of course I need to keep my secret stash of emergency protein bars. I need to make sure I have enough food for 3 good-sized meals today & tomorrow, so I can't give away any to the one who is hungry today.

What if the world's definition of hoarding is too broad? My go-to online dictionary defined hoarding as follows: "to accumulate money, food, or the like, in a hidden or carefully guarded place for preservation, future use, etc." We think of hoarding as a problem of those with more stuff than us. We think that while they take preparation and good stewardship too far, a week's supply of food is not unreasonably and if we can close our cupboards and our closets, we don't need to address how much stuff we own.

What if hoarding doesn't begin when we can't see our floors or can't safely walk across the room? What if hoarding, from a biblical standpoint, is much more innocent looking? Could I be hoarding when I keep a week's worth of food in my house, instead of only my daily bread? Could I be hoarding when I have enough tops & pants/skirts to wear a different outfit for two weeks?

1 John 3:17 asks "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?" If I have 2 winter coats and I look without pity at the homeless man facing the winter temperatures in a windbreaker, can I call myself a Christian? If I ignore the hungry beggar so I can more quickly make it home to cook & eat my third meal for the day, how can I expect to meet my Savior's gaze at heaven's gates? If I am not sharing the clothes, food, and blessings God has so generously given me, how can I bear Christ's name? What if my savings account, in addition to removing my need to rely on God, slowly ties my heart to the world while I save for a rainy day & other whims in a world where many are without clean water, sufficient food, and adequate education?

Let me ask you, exactly when does owning items cross over into hoarding them?

Luke 3:10-11, 1 John 3:17 New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Citation: "hoard." Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 01 Jan. 2015. <>.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Behind the Names of the Sunken Realm

This blog post is about a book (within a book series) by Serena Chase. I love all the books in her series, but this post will be focusing on the Sunken Realm. This is a giveaway to enter at the bottom of this post.

Behind the Names: the Eyes of E’veria series
by Serena Chase

Across genres, there are often interesting stories about how authors choose the names for the characters in their books, but in speculative fiction (fantasy, sci fi, dystopian, steam punk, etc.) those behind-the-scenes naming stories extend to places, objects, processes, abilities, and terminology—sometimes entire languages are created. In this series of posts, which will be spread over time, as well as several blogs, my Facebook page, my newsletter—and eventually videos in which I will share pronunciations, as well—I will attempt to unveil the stories behind the names populating the epic fantasy novels The Ryn, The Remedy, The Seahorse Legacy, and The Sunken Realm, a few at a time.

For this post, I am focusing on names from Eyes of E’veria, book 4: The Sunken Realm

Eachan Isle: the name Eachan means “little horse.” It is the home of the Seahorse Pirates. ‘Nuf said.

Cazien: In one of the very early versions of The Ryn, Cazien was a villain—a “bad” pirate. I made his name from the real name “Caz,” which I found in my favorite of all name-research books, The First Name Reverse Dictionary by Yvonne Navarro. According to that book, “Caz” means “vain”—which is still a little bit perfect, even though he became one of the good guys over the course of rewriting that first draft.

Bowen: A friend and former co-worker has given her little boys the most charming names (and the boys are super adorable, too!) I asked Nikki if I could borrow one of her sons’ names for a sweet little boy in The Seahorse Legacy, and little Bowen made it into the next book, as well.

Pollis and Kasta are names taken from classical mythology, but I made mythological male characters Castor and Pollux female for my purposes.

Captain Ledo and Lady Signe were named along the same vein. Since I was gender-bending the Castor and Pollux thing anyway, I thought I’d go ahead and gender-bend the whole myth. If you don’t know the story, you can easily Google it, but when you do, you should note that Ledo is my masculinization of “Leda” from the myth and that the name Signe means “swan”—which delighted me. You see, my great-grandmother’s name was Signe! It seemed perfect to share my (great) grandmother’s name with Cazien’s grandma—and it was that connection inspired the name Meirma for “grandmother” in Seyharzien, the language of Eachan Isle. The Swedish word for maternal grandmother is “mormor.” Add in a Swedish accent to that—and a little creative license—and Meirma isn’t too far a stretch.

...and speaking of Seyharzien... in your best pirate accent, say “Seyharz”—Did it sound like “seahorse” to you? *winks* It does to me!

Princess Zohara: I know, I know, it sounds very Branjolina-daughter. But beyond that, I think it sounds very royal, in an exotic sort of way.

Prenzio: Cazien’s father was originally named Prinz—since he served as the “Prince John” type character to Cazien’s young-Robin-Hood-on-the-seas persona in an as-of-yet-unpublished (and unfinished!) prequel novel that takes place when Cazien is fifteen. An early editor said the name made her think too much of the 80s singer Prince (aka: The Artist Formerly Known as Prince), and although the ruffled shirts Prenzio (and Roeg!) prefer may be a little reminiscent of the “Purple Rain” video, I didn’t really want to make that comparison in my books. I changed it. As it turns out, I like the name Prenzio much better. It suits him, I think.

Destria: A destrier is a war horse, this is my feminization of this name, which seems appropriate for a Seahorse Pirate, don’t you think? I liked this name for this character and she’s been in my head for years and years. (And she will likely be in my head for many, many more!)

Briggan Roo: Clear back in the early drafts of The Ryn, there existed a scene (which was deleted years and years ago) in which Kinley taught Rose a difficult dance that went along with a song called “The Ballad of Briggan Roo.” Together, the melody and the dance told the tale of an ancient sea serpent. Ack, but those Veetrish, am I right? *winks* But... Briggan Roo was not entirely lost with that scene, only put off a few more books—until he could play a dramatic role!

What names and words of E’veria are you curious about? Tell me in the comments, and make sure to watch my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter for news of when and where the next “Names of E’veria” post will appear!
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SERENA CHASE lives in Iowa with her husband Dave, teen daughters Delaney and Ellerie, and a big white dog named Albus (yes, he was named after that Albus.) A frequent contributor to USA Today's Happy Ever After blog, Serena is an avid reader of young adult fiction and inspirational romance and has become a respected influencer within those communities. When not engaged in her varied roles within the publishing industry, Serena can be found watching action movies and dreaming about someday living in a cottage by the sea. Connect with Serena Chase on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter (@Serena_Chase) and visit to subscribe to her newsletter and gain access to exclusive, subscriber-only content

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Context is Crucial

I've been working on memorizing Scripture over the past two years. Thanks to Memverse (an online Bible memorization system), I've been able to memorize over 400 verses in that year and I have the entire book of James memorized.

As a result of memorizing Bible verses, I've begun to notice that a lot of the facebook pictures that have Bible verses don't quote the entire verse. This scares me because although it may not be be the poster's intention, this can cause confusion and misunderstandings of God and His Word.

Liz's Advice for Clearly Passing on Scripture:
1. Include the reference to your verse. That way others can find exactly what you were referencing.

2. Sometimes people quote a verse (or part of one) from the New Testament, that is quoting the Old Testament. If this is the case, reference the exact passage you're quoting, but also say that it's quoting from another passage.

3. Include the entire verse. In published Christian books, I've read "quotes" of Hebrews 13:5 "God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you"." This is in Hebrews 13:5, but A) it is quoting Deuteronomy 31:6, and B) it's leaving out the first half of the verse. The entire verse reads "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have. For God has said, "never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." I understand that sometimes only a part of a verse speaks the message you want to say. If this is the case, include an "A" or "B" after the reference to indicate that you're only quoting part of the verse.

4. Remember that the chapters & verses were added centuries after the Bible was canonized. When you are looking at a verse, the surrounding verses, paragraph, chapter, and the rest of the book are crucial.

5. Context is crucial. If you only start posting half (or less) of a verse, you may be twisting Scripture into what you want it to say. There's a brilliant comic that illustrates how a verse taken out of context can be disastrous.