Posts made in August, 2013

It’s Been a Year

Posted by on Aug 30, 2013 in Faith, Hope, and Love, Writer's Diary

As we wrap up August, I cannot help but notice that we have crossed the one-year mark in Delaware. The time has flown. Yes, it has had its difficulties. No, we’re not where I hoped or expected we’d be. Things have been harder than I had imagined, and I am still uncertain as to the Lord’s using us here. Frankly, I feel as though I am in a very similar position as I was when I first began blogging a year ago. My job still feels fresh, and Stronghold is still finding its footing; we’re trying to navigate changes and establish ourselves. Things still feel new.

But in that similarity I see a certain beauty, as if God is still positioning us for his work here. This is not to say we haven’t sought to live in a way that honors and glorifies him, but it is to express a certain feeling of anticipation, of excitement for what is yet to come and how he will gain his glory through our lives in this place.

On top of that, I continue to be thankful for all of you, those who continually come back to this little nook of the web, to hear the ramblings and self-indulgence of another hopeful dreamer, who wants to be molded into a vessel for good purposes, to serve as a means for the Lord’s pouring out grace, mercy, and kindness. When I describe it in such language, I feel so far from where I want to be–and maybe that realization is exactly where the Lord wants me as we head into our second year in Delaware.

Please continue to join us on our journey, and thank you for being a part of it thus far.

With affection,
C
 
 

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Reinforcing Stronghold: 90 Days Later

Posted by on Aug 28, 2013 in STRONGHOLD, Writer's Diary

Hi Friends,

Well, today is the 3-month anniversary of Stronghold’s release. As I have said several times already, you have all been wonderful and encouraging throughout this process. I have many stories to tell already, and I am sure many more will develop in the coming months. I hope to share them with you as time allows. For now, however, I would like to ask you for some help. I do not intend to sound too forward or self-indulgent, but the more I speak to people on not only the book itself but the subject in general, the more I feel invigorated to get this book to more people. Following positive feedback I have received, I have chosen to be a bit more aggressive with my reaching out and marketing the book. I have been conducting something of a secondary-blitz in hopes of re-igniting interest going into the fall, and last night, I was involved in a long form interview about it (links and info will be forthcoming). Anyway, if you are so willing, you can help me a great deal by doing one or all of the following things:

1) Please put a review for the book on both Amazon and iTunes. I have received criticism–real and constructive criticism–and I will not be offended by poor reviews if you feel them warranted. You are allowed to put the same review in both Amazon and Itunes, and they would be of great benefit to getting the book more exposure. Honest reviews build trust with new readers. If you loved the book, wonderful; if you felt it lacking, that may be even better. Please just be honest in your review so that casual readers will know it is a legitimate release. I cannot stress enough how valuable this will be to me.

2) Tell your pastor or church staff about the book as a possible resource. The issues to which Stronghold speaks seem to become both more pressing and more pertinent in our churches every day. Some pastors are really at odds with this issue, both personally and as leaders addressing a phenomenon they may not understand. I believe that Stronghold can be a tool for good in their ministries. Please let them know it exists. If they would be willing to contact me, I would be more than happy to discuss it with them.

3) Pray. First and foremost, praise God for bringing a chucklehead like me with an addiction like mine to the place where I am. Second, please ask God to keep me in check; third, ask him to seize and gain glory through this book. However that manifests itself, ask him to work in hearts and minds to make himself known through this project.

Again, friends, your support and encouragement have been wonderful and deeply moving to me. So many of you have already been a blessing to me through your time, feedback, and gracious response to this work. I thank you so much for all you have already done. Here’s hoping the next 90-days are as successful as the last!

From me to you all, Ephesians 1:15-20, with much affection,
C.J.

 
 

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Scripture Memory: Nahum 1:2-7.

Posted by on Aug 26, 2013 in Love of Scripture

In the last week, I memorized Nahum 1:2-7, a passage that will surely prove unpopular in modern American culture yet leads the believer to a place of peace, to an affirmation that proper justice will be mediated by the Lord, at the proper time and in the proper way–and that justice will be real and visceral and terrifying. As translated into the ESV, the passage reads as follows:
 
The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; 
the Lord is avenging and wrathful; 
the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. 
The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. 
His way is in the whirlwind and storm, 
and the clouds are the dust of his feet. 
He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; 
he dries up all the rivers; Bashon and Carmel wither; the bloom of Lebanon withers. 
The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it. 
Who can stand before his indignation? 
Who can endure the heat of his anger? 
His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him. 
The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.
 
Not a long passage (though not a short one, either) but a powerful one. ‘Jealous’, ‘avenging’, ‘wrathful’–these are not our usual adjectives for the Lord, but they are real and true. And they are a strong reminder for those of us who call him father to maintain an earnest honor and reverent fear before him. The world is hard; we believe we are entitled to more than we have received. We grow in indignation over the way things unfold, and we carry discontentment over this and that. Well, perhaps you don’t, but I do–almost daily, at least, far too regularly.

But a passage like this silences my malcontented and arrogant heart. These words stop me in my tracks. They remind me, fiercely, of the God who oversees the human narrative, and who knows all from the dawn to dusk, well into the night and until the dawn anew. These words strike at the sinner’s heart. They are good words. Yes, they are hard and, perhaps, frightening; but sometimes even those of us who are in the kingdom need a harsh reminder of who we serve and how blessed we are to be his adopted sons and daughters rather than his enemies.

Praise be to God that he is slow to anger, and rich in mercy, and abounding in steadfast love (Joel 2:11-13).

Thanks for reading,
C
 
 
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Inclusion of this translation does not imply endorsement of this author’s thoughts by the copyright holders. 

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August Links

Posted by on Aug 24, 2013 in Offsite Content

WRITING
Don’t Let Guilt Keep You from Pursuing Your Passion
Jody Hedlund provides insights on writing and being a parent.

What J.K. Rowling’s Pseudonym Novel Says about Commercial Success
Wonderful Insight about J.K. Rowling’s Recent Release

 
CULTURE
Martin/Zimmerman: A Different Kind of Response
An interesting response to the Zimmerman Verdict

When is a Royal Baby a Fetus
A well-written and indicting piece about media coverage of abortion versus celebrity pregnancy

Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World
A good piece on child-rearing in a consumer culture
Our Experiment in Criticism
A look at Christianity Today’s excellent methodology for film review

 
LIFE
Why We Really Sleep In
Tony Reinke on C.S. Lewis on Sloth

 
MINISTRY
Ten Passages for Pastors to Memorize Cold
Recommendations from David Mathis for various moments in ministry

Porn, Pride, and Praise
A great article on an upcoming book about the dangers of Porn

Pastor Takes Fresh Look at a Vital Church Tradition
My good friend Phil Persing on Sunday School

Can’t Wait to Teach
John Mark Reynolds on teaching.

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The Preacher’s Bride: A Recommendation

Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 in Reviews & Recommendations

Where do I begin with Jody Hedlund’s The Preacher’s Bride? I find myself conflicted. On the one hand Jody’s is the first romance novel I have ever read outside of Jane Austen; ergo I find it difficult to call her an exemplary of that genre. However, books are books, and The Preacher’s Bride is an excellent one regardless of genre. Given modern romance’s reputation for being less than literary, I can only assume that this fine work is the best that genre has to offer. But as I’ve said, I do not know if that is where I’d like to start. 

A better place, perhaps a more appropriate place for one author to recommend another’s, is to speak of execution, plain and simple.  The highest compliment that I can give Jody is that she makes it seem so easy, not unlike George Lucas and Steven Spielberg made it seem with their blockbuster hits of this late 70s and early 80s. In some ways, I feel like The Preacher’s Bride is to romance novels as Indiana Jones and Star Wars are to pop culture film, in that all of these projects make good storytelling look effortless. Hedlund’s composition as well as her structure and design are such that they feel organic and natural, plucked from the memory of a person present at the events as they unfolded. The fine-tuned story and rounded characters in The Preacher’s Bride are unmistakably well-written and carefully developed; and the levels on which the book works are numerous. The pleasure one gets in reading it, is well, the stuff of which “good reading” is made. Being a writer I know that such execution is difficult, and I also realize that making one’s craft seem natural and easy is perhaps the best writing of all. 

But what good is praising a novel without a bit of an introduction to it. The Preachers Bride follows the story of Elizabeth, who we join in a powerful, moving, and oftentimes heartbreaking journey over the course of her adult life. I have cheered for fewer characters to the same degree that I did for her (she even beat out the charismatic Katnis Everdeen). Perhaps I just caught the book at the right time in my life or it’s just that good, but Hedlund’s heroine is a welcome protagonist in the age of the anti-hero. She is lovely, admirable, and undeniably compelling. Elizabeth is a version of the Proverbs 31 woman in full effect, and her story almost serves as a commentary to that ancient text.

But Elizabeth is one character among a host of interesting cast members (some of whom are stock types but nonetheless, fun); and while her plate is certainly the most gripping, it is not the only one of interest to the reader. Hedlund has created a tapestry out of the small town in which this story takes place, and the reader will enjoy getting to know it’s many citizens, both the heroic and the horrible.

I find it hard to recommend any single book for everyone, but I can honestly say that I would recommend The Preacher’s Bride to anyone. This is not to say that I think men will enjoy the book as much as women, nor that I think all women will enjoy it equally. But I would say that I have great confidence in Hedlund’s prose, in that good writing is good writing and will move those who are open to it. That being said, and it is very little considering the content of this book, I highly recommend Jody Hedlund’s The Preacher’s Bride to those looking for a new novel to read this fall — the book just seems appropriate to the fall–and I would be interested to hear from anyone who gives the book a chance.

Frankly, I cannot recommend this book enough, and I look forward to the next opportunity I have to read it!

 

PS – I should note that without having read this book, I may never have considered writing a romance novel myself, so I am indebted to Jody for her work’s being directly inspiring and motivating as well as entertaining and engaging.

 

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