Let’s journey on the faith track for a bit.
I’m not a stranger to Jesus, the Son of Man. As I read miracles in the Bible I believe He can still do miracles. I’ve asked and I’ve seen God work miracles in my life…
Yet, lately, I’m having a really hard time believing God for some things right now.
My dad needs a miracle.
My mom needs a miracle.
My brother needs a miracle.
My grandmother needs a miracle.
My uncle needs a miracle.
My cousins need a miracle.
My best friends need miracles.
At this point, I could care less if God ever gives me another personal miracle.
I’m super analytical. So immediately, I think about all the reasons why these miracles haven’t happened.
My father doesn’t believe God will help him.
My mother is on her own walk with God.
My brother is rebellious.
My grandmother is missing the mark on the call of God on her life.
My uncle is a prodigal.
My cousins need to be saved.
My best friends are going through tests and trials with the Lord.
Now, I admit I know nothing and I’m probably wrong, and if I am right… I saw Jesus work plenty of miracles for imperfect people. It was His perfection that healed them. He was obedient. He was in tune with the Holy Spirit. He was the vessel acting in faith and doing miracles.
And Apostle Paul is like one of my favorite examples in the Bible, but he said to imitate Christ Jesus over him.
Lately, I’ve thought about how Jesus was always praying and pressing into the presence of heaven. And we can say this was/is so easy for Him because He was/is God, but He clearly lived a human life. What if He ran to God in prayer because the presence of heaven was like eating a whole carton of ice cream and an entire pizza? What if being in God’s presence was where He ran when the temptations and anxieties of life became too much for Him?
Then if He could do it, can’t we then?
That’s why we read the Word and we believe every bit of it in our hearts, right? So nothing in this world can satisfy like the presence of heaven?
Now, we must be careful to not covet heaven that we become spiritual fruit loops and nobody on earth can relate to us. Pastor Rod Parsley says that we shouldn’t be so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good.
When we go into heaven over load mode, we’re trying to escape the woes of this life, and Jesus didn’t set that example. He showed that we charge the troubles of this life and we let heaven become the remedy in the midst of that situation.
I have a knack for seeming like I know what to do in any given situation. But when it comes to kingdom business, I don’t have a clue without God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit giving the directions, dropping the revelation, and showing up and showing off!
Yes, I can easily keep a defeated mindset and wonder if these miracles for my family will ever happen, or I can read the Word, and pray to God, and trust in time these miracles will happen on this side of heaven, down here on earth…
It’s easy to type this confession. And it won’t be a challenge in my heart, if I set my gaze in the right place… on Jesus and the Word, not my circumstances.
Now, it’s perfectly healthy to acknowledge when I’m sad and when I’m hurt and when I’m angry, but the key is not to moved by the emotions to the point it determines my reaction. I need to respond like a soldier in God’s army, which often means going to God in prayer or in worship. I don’t need to reach for the remote or eat a box cookies or eat two dinners in the middle of the night… My comfort needs to be found in the Comforter (the Holy Spirit), not in my comfort foods.
TV, Movies, and Food are what I run to sometimes instead of the presence of God. They never fully satisfy like God does… More and more I’m running to Him instead of these things that only offer temporary relief. I love music too, so I try not to run to my worship playlist.
I wrote this whole thing fighting tears and listening to a bunch of strife in my household tonight… maybe I ran away from the chaos into this blog post searching for peace… All I know, is that I want lives to be changed and transformed. I want to see the Gospel manifest in the lives of those I love. Not to prove that Jesus is real, because I know He is real. Simply because I want people to be free, for that is the only way we should live, and it is an injustice to be chained in bondage our whole lives.
Pray for me saints as I pray for anyone who reads this post.
If you’re not a believer, I think you’re on your way to becoming one. Why put it off, when you can believe RIGHT NOW?!
Truth is hell is real. Truth is hell will be eternity for those who don’t choose Jesus the Messiah in this life. You can ask God later why hell is real. But today, you can believe that Jesus died paying for your sins, sins that Adam and Eve passed down to you through their disobedience. And you can give up your nature that is self-seeking and self-destructive, and undergo a life-long process of how to become humbly, selfless to the point you look like a mini Jesus to people. The Holy Spirit will empower you to live such a life. You’ll have ups and you’ll have downs, but through it all, you’ll know all is well. And on the other side of heaven, in eternal paradise, you’ll enjoy forever with God, me, and many more saints. All you have to do right now, is believe Jesus came for you, died for you, and when He rose from the dead made you alive with Him forever…
That was easy, right?!
I suggest reading the Bible now. The Hoy Spirit will teach you everything you need to know. So will a great pastor at a church you’re meant to be at, and as will other leaders and mentors and fellow saints.
Your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are as broken as you, so when one hurts your feelings in church, go to them and resolve the issue. Take the high road and let it go. Don’t expect them to take your side. Like, forgive them in your heart before you go to them.
Then next, find out why you’re on this planet and what God has called you to do. Then go through the process to fulfill your destiny. No one can say how long it will take, but enjoy the ride day by day because you only get one life. Also, you’ll never fully arrive, so you might as well enjoy the little things as they unfold into bigger things!
And when you reach a point, when you don’t see God coming through in some areas… don’t fall for the lies or base the possibilities on your feelings. Like God came through for Abraham and Sarah, God will come through for you!
Also, your actions are important. Think very carefully before you do anything, unless, you believe God is instructing you… His guidance you just do, and trust me, how things turn out will show you if it was God or not. In my personal experience, it is mostly God.
So what do you do… when you can’t see the miracles? Serious question, drop your thoughts in the comment section.
I wanted to write this post and defend persecuted Christians. I wanted to use scripture, scenarios, and comparisons to show why Christians seem like bigots when we take a stand of faith.
My first I idea, I talked it out with my dad and we got in the horrible debate and it concluded with him refusing to believe what I believe. My concept for this post did not play out well in a real conversation.
Writing something is easy because no one can cut you off in the middle of a thought. You don’t have to look anyone in the eye as you make your point through your opinion. You’re free to be open-minded or stubborn, considerate or not, essentially you can vent and get it out there in the universe without any accountability.
The Apostle Paul was known for boldness in letters and his meekness (sometimes weakness) in person. And like Paul, sometimes I can type something or write something more easily than I can say it to someone’s face. But that’s because I hate rejection. I hate it when someone I love pushes me away because they didn’t want to hear what I had to say. I don’t like appearing intolerant, judgmental, unempathetic, or prudish. Yet, if I must, I’d rather someone I love has heard the truth and be uncomfortable and than stay complacent in a sea of lies.
Now, I understand being too blatantly truthful can be too hurtful, but at least that is better than never learning the truth.
Every we do should always be done out of love, and love as my game is my aim 24/7 these days. However, sometimes people aren’t receptive no matter how kind you are. And we should take a page from, Jesus the Messiah. He didn’t let anyone walk over Him or make Him look like a fool during his ministry.
Below is an excerpt from scripture (taken from Bible Gateway), where Jesus didn’t waste his words with men who weren’t sincere in hearing what Jesus had to say. In other words, he didn’t let anyone treat Him like a floor mat.
Luke 20 The Passion Translation (TPT)
A Day of Controversy
20 One day Jesus was teaching in the temple courts and sharing with the people the wonderful news of salvation.[a] The high priest and the experts of the law were there with the prominent men of the city. They confronted Jesus and asked him, 2 “We want to know right now by what authority you’re doing this. Who gave you the authority to teach these things here in the temple?”
3 Jesus responded, “First, let me ask you a question and you tell me right now. 4 Did John baptize because of a mandate from heaven or merely from men?”
5 His interrogators pulled aside to discuss this among themselves. “What should we say? If we say that John’s mandate was from heaven, he will ask us, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him and get baptized?’ 6 But if we say, ‘John’s mandate was merely from men,’ then all the people around him will stone us, for they believe John was a prophet of God.” 7 So they answered Jesus, “We cannot tell where John’s authority came from.”
8 Jesus said, “Then neither will I tell you where my authority comes from to do what I do.”
As believers why do we even bother to entertain conversations where an atheist, or a liberal, or anyone against us want to ensnare us. We are no one’s Savior, but Christ Jesus alone. And trust me, I as much as any believer with a desire to save lost souls want to “sow a seed”, but who says the seed sown must be words or scripture, it could be you’re behavior, and you can decline to speak someone. I wouldn’t be rude about it, but you can be blunt.
Many wandering souls are tired of feeling judged when they converse with a believer. The more you use scripture… the more they’ll use scripture against you or the more you’ll be antagonized, where sooner or later you find yourself in the trap acting like a hypocrite by having malice in your heart, saying hurtful things out of cowardice, and quick to anger like a lit matchstick. Thank God we serve a God who can turns those nasty moment to your good and at least one person may have been influenced by you in a positive way or will later, but why be a fool and act out.
Have you ever thought about this? Jesus only used the Word of God in synagogues. Amongst His disciples (that means His twelve and the thousands that followed Him around or came to a place He was speaking in town), he talked about godly concepts and precepts in stories aka parables. He would answer with the Word of God when asked directly about the Word at times, but often He would add a freshness to it.
Pharisees asked Jesus which was the most important commandment out of all God’s law. As Pharisees I’m guessing the Ten Commandments were as important as the 613 oral traditions they did their best to keep. And out of all of it, Jesus says, “Love the Lord Your God with all Your Heart, with all Your Mind, with all Your Soul (entire being), with all Your Strength (sheer will power), and love your neighbor as yourself.”
The love your neighbor as yourself part is the only part that is actually one of the Ten Commandments. The first part is the mantra Israel was supposed to keep in the wilderness, pass down generation to generation, and the mindset to keep once in the Promise Land, which if loving God so much is true, than it covers the first commandment which is to have no other god/idol than God.
A lot of pastors today, and a great one I know (of), keeps it simple and says, “Love God and love people”.
Many people have different definitions of love. The Greeks had four different types of love. Some churches are on a big kick about having agape love, which is unconditional love. That’s a great type of love, but if we don’t have a framework of what love looks like and how to love, than we could think there are a number of ways to love unconditionally which could just be the doctrine of tolerance in disguise.
Paul was great. He was able to put into words what love is supposed to look like for the believer.
1 Corinthians 13 The Passion Translation (TPT)
Love, the Motivation of Our Lives
13 If I were to speak with eloquence in earth’s many languages, and in the heavenly tongues of angels,[a] yet I didn’t express myself with love,[b] my words would be reduced to the hollow sound of nothing more than a clanging cymbal.
2 And if I were to have the gift of prophecy[c] with a profound understanding of God’s hidden secrets, and if I possessed unending supernatural knowledge, and if I had the greatest gift of faith that could move mountains,[d] but have never learned to love, then I am nothing.
3 And if I were to be so generous as to give away everything I owned to feed the poor, and to offer my body to be burned as a martyr,[e] without the pure motive of love, I would gain nothing of value.
4 Love is large and incredibly patient.[f] Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous[g] when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. 5 Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated[h] or quick to take offense.[i] 6 Love joyfully celebrates honesty[j] and finds no delight in what is wrong.[k] 7 Love is a safe place of shelter,[l] for it never stops believing the best for others.[m] Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.
8 Love never stops loving.[n] It extends beyond the gift of prophecy, which eventually fades away.[o] It is more enduring than tongues, which will one day fall silent. Love remains long after words of knowledge are forgotten.[p] 9 Our present knowledge and our prophecies are but partial,[q] 10 but when love’s perfection arrives, the partial will fade away.[r] 11 When I was a child, I spoke about childish matters, for I saw things like a child and reasoned like a child. But the day came when I matured, and I set aside my childish ways.
12 For now we see but a faint reflection of riddles and mysteries[s] as though reflected in a mirror, but one day we will see face-to-face.[t] My understanding is incomplete now, but one day I will understand everything, just as everything about me has been fully understood. 13 Until then, there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love—yet love surpasses them all.[u] So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run.[v] (Check out Bible Gateway for excellent footnotes about this scripture.)
Verses 4-8 are the ones people quote and preach on all the time. In another translation, it mentions “love keeps no record of wrongs”… Is there one person in your life, you give a difficult time because you think of all the times they hurt you and did wrong towards, and you treat them disrespectfully to protect your heart or you’re quick to accuse them of meaning to do wrong, when they haven’t yet or didn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings.
My mom up until a few years ago was this person for me. Often, I have to really think before I speak to her or respond after she does something I perceive as hurtful… and I realize it’s my faulty perception, my record of wrongs toward her, that make me misconstrue her actions and I often discover her intentions were positive they just didn’t turn out as she planned.
Today, in our Digital Age, the world has created their own creed of love and it’s framework is not based on scripture, it is not based on relationship with God. This love mantra is based on selfishness and forcing everyone around each other to comply to set of beliefs to make flesh feel free and for the truth to feel like a prison. This is to be expected. The Bible says in numerous places that people will live according to their flesh, to what feels good, and members of the world will live in a perpetual state corruption and immorality. More and more what is considered evil according to the Bible will be thought of as good and what is considered good by the Bible, will be thought of as evil.
Immature Christians accountable to zero spiritual authority will critique and criticize the members of the world partake in the reversal of wrong-is-right and right-is-wrong. They may even get into arguments and quote a bunch of scripture bring down the hammer of God.
Adolescent Christians will go the agape love route. They’ll love so much they look like Bible-cloaked-hippies. And when pressure comes with big issues like: “Is homosexuality is wrong? Is cohabitation bad? Is sex outside of marriage okay? Is getting drunk alright? Is porn really a sin? Masturbating is better than having sex, isn’t?” The ones about to get their mature adult Christian cards will tackle these and will either succeed or fail. The fresh adolescent Christians will probably not rebuke, pass judgement, or forsake anyone who comes with these questions or practices, but they won’t confront and answer these questions. They will ignore and just love on people and that isn’t a bad thing. God still works in that.
By now, I how you realize I mean adolescent and adult (Christians) like levels not literal ages. You can be 66 years young and still be a babe in Christ Jesus. Or you can be 16 years old and be more mature in faith than a 40 year old. You choose how you grow with God based on three things: how much you trust Him, how in love with Him you are, and how well you listen to Him.
Like the word says we received the righteousness of Christ Jesus when He died on the cross… righteousness just means listening to God… so Jesus died for us so we would have access to relationship with God, so we can listen to Him… If you listen to God through the Word, through His Spirit, through the people you’re connected to, and through experiences you have… you are righteous… not a sinner… you may sin at times, but sin no longer defines nature. Christ does now and He was never a sinner. Forgive yourself when you miss what God was trying to say, repent (change your mind), and move forward with God. There’s literally nothing you can do (other than walk away from Him and even then He’ll find you) that will stop Him from blessing you and making you more and more like Him!
Now… let’s finish up on levels of maturity… and adult (mature) Christians will be prayerful so often that the Spirit of God will lead them how to loving guide or rebuke a questioning or stumbling believer. A mature Christian will not cower and stay silent because they love people so much, at the same time, they won’t be too rough because the anointing of God will be on them to love people properly. And if it is still too harsh, well thank God the believer still has Jesus to make it through.
Let’s face it, the further you are from God, the more you’re doing wrong, the truth will hurt way more. Anything unlike God can’t stand His holiness and we have to get realigned to holiness, the process burns a little.
We’re finally in a great place to get to the point of my article. I know this is long, but if you’re still reading, thank you!
Taking a Stand of Faith will make you look like a bigot at times, intolerant of their beliefs and philosophies, unwilling to listen to them in a way that embraces their ideology. There are two forces at work. God’s Kingdom and Satan’s Playground he tries to pass off as an empire.
These two forces repel each other. These opposites do not attract. The Kingdom of Heaven is based on community, love, and selflessness. The World is based on selfishness, greed, and pride. When God’s people come together it is for the sake of the world coming under the grace of God and His mercy. When people in the World ban together it’s to preserve everyone’s right to live how they want, even if it is wrong. God’s children come together in unity embracing our differences knowing that makes us stronger. Satan’s puppets ban together conforming to same hive mind and anyone who doesn’t fit in, is terminated.
When you are led by conviction and you take a stand of faith, let love be your motivation. Before you were a minister of the gospel, you were a sinner saved by grace. Before you are a believer, you’re a Child of God. Yes, your voice may be one for an entire generation, but it means nothing if you don’t have the Father’s ear up in in heaven.
Everything God ever did for humanity was out of love. Jesus came to earth out of love. The Holy Spirit dwells in believers because of love. We may never understand His love fully, but we can experience it to the point we are transformed by it and become a people of light that leads others out of the darkness and into the light like Christ Jesus did.
Jesus will ever be our standard. Who we are to model ourselves after. Not some great preacher or our mama or a celebrity. And Jesus stood up in faith daily, but not to make a point, not prove He was the Son of Man or Son of God, but He did took a stand of faith out of love for humanity and who we would all become one day! He did this before He saw what the church is today. Before He has seen the other side of this life and God’s final plan for this world completed.
I will confess this post went in a direction I did not expect. It is way longer than I wanted it to be. But I’ll conclude on this note:
Think before you post. Check your heart motive before your act or speak. And everyday, just find a way you connect with God best and ask Him what is He would like you to do today, and if you don’t get anything new, keep doing what you’re doing unless a fellow believer or a preacher or mentor say you’re doing something wrong. Then fix yourself by going to God, repent (I didn’t realize I was being a jerk towards my brother, forgive), and then most likely go apologize to the brother you wronged. Kingdom is simple. It can be hard because our flesh hates it, but one day it will get better.
If you’re an unbeliever and you read this whole thing! I’m convinced the Holy Spirit is trying to speak to your heart about Jesus the Messiah. My favorite thing about Jesus is that He is literally my best friend. At first, He was that way by default (I had zero to little friends growing up), but as of lately, He is the Greatest Friend I have and I don’t ever want anyone or anything to come between us.
He can become your friend today. You just have to believe by faith (like be convinced or just trust even if it doesn’t make sense) that Jesus died on a cross to kill the sin nature in you (that part of you that makes you miss following the rules God has for your life) and when Jesus rose from the dead in a resurrected body (you are born again in a way that gives you a heart and a mind to know God) and now the Holy Spirit (God’s very Spirit) lives in you to empower you with grace, mercy, and love to live according to the plan God has for your life as long as you agree daily to partner with God, and to trust His process of making you more like Him, and less like a lost sinner that will never know God deeply.
To insure you continue your process of transformation and sanctification (a term you learn more about in church), you need to find a church that believes in the Bible, believes in Baptism by Water and the Holy Spirit, believes in the Trinity (not modalism), and the people who attend treat you with love, kindness, and authenticity. You’ll know deep down inside you’re in the right place when you walk in because you’ll feel at peace. If you feel restless and uncomfortable, leave and don’t go back! If you feel nothing… revisit a few times if you can’t find a church and one day you’ll just know. Also, find a person willing to meet with you on a regular basis to talk scripture and pray with you and show you how to live like Jesus. Hopefully, this someone will find you, but be bold and find someone who look up to and want to be more like in the way they’re like Jesus. If the person says no or it never pans out, ask God to send you a mentor when you need one in the area you need one. In the mean time, go to God about everything and anything. That should be your rule of them anyhow. God first, His Word second, His people last.
If you’re in Tucson, I suggest some churches to try. Faith Christian Fellowship Tucson (that is my tribe), or Calvary East or Calvary West or a Calvary Chapel on Prince not related to East or West. Grace to the Nations or Passion Church. I’ve attended all these churches at one point throughout my life in Tucson, AZ and if God where to plant you in one of these places, it would be solid ground rich in what Christ Jesus has to offer.
If you’re in Columbus, OH, you can dive into World Harvest Church… It’s good soil there too. It isn’t for everyone, but it is a good place to grow if God plants you there.
Warning… Satan will be upset you accepted the invitation to become a Child of God. He is going to tempt you to live, to deceive into thinking Jesus is not worth giving up the world and Satan hates you so he will try every dirty trick in the book, but if you meditate on God loving you and the love you have for Him. That is what keeps you linked to God and Satan can’t break that bond, no matter what. Trust God through every turn- good, bad, ugly, and indifferent and you will live life to the fullest and we will be together in paradise and on the New Earth one day. Becoming a believer is so much more than just going to heaven when you die, it’s living a life with purpose!
Natasha runs off to put the daylilies in a vase of water while Chastity escorts us to the dining area. The table is set with all the fixings, seven place settings, and a high chair for Annika stands at the end of the table where an eighth place setting would normally be. When Natasha joins us, she’s accompanied by Zeven holding hands.
We all take our seats, the way everything works out, Natasha ends up sitting across from me. Today she sports a blue, faux peacock feather in her hair. It matches her dangling, lab-made sapphire earrings. Zeven has frosted the tips of his black Mohawk with blue to match Natasha’s color phase fascination with blue. Looking at the two of them, side by side, they do look like a cute couple. Their features complement each other, and will one day blend well together… if… they’re meant to be together…
Chastity asks dad to say grace, we all take hands and bow our heads.
“Dear heavenly father, thank you for this gathering of friends. Thanks for the food you’ve provided for the Lane household and we’re grateful they’re sharing it with us. We ask that this food be blessed, and especially, our time together. Thank you for all that you do. In Jesus’s precious holy name, Amen.” The rest of us follow suit and say a collective amen.
Chastity hands the main course, meat loaf, to dad and allows him to serve himself. Natasha picks up the basket of crescent rolls and takes one as she passes the basket to Zeven. Zeven does the same, continuing to pass it on to Chastity. Zeven grabs the bowl of green beans and serves Natasha a few spoonfuls on her plate. Graciously, she thanks him with a peck on the cheek. They’ve been dating for a week, and they’re already at the kissing phase? Getting through this dinner is going to be harder than I thought.
Chastity kicks off the table talk by telling my mother, “The flowers are gorgeous Becky.”
“They are, aren’t they? Actually,” mom starts to say.
“Daylilies are my favorite.” Natasha interjects.
Zeven looks to Natasha surprised, “I thought wild, yellow daisies are your favorite.”
In unison, without intention, Natasha and I say, “They were.”
She looks at me caught off guard. She further explains without breaking eye contact with me, “But once I saw and smelled my first daylily back in June, daylilies are my new fav.” Clearing her throat, she directs her attention to Zeven, “I thought you were around when I talked about it at Worship practice?”
Zeven shrugs his shoulders as he takes the dish of meat loaf from my hands. “I guess I need to pay more attention to my girl.” He remarks.
Mom finishes what she meant to say earlier, “Actually, Asher picked out the flowers.”
Both Chastity and Natasha look at me, but with different opinions displayed on their faces. While Chastity’s expression reads as impressed, Natasha’s expression seems conflicted. Getting the daylilies was a good move… Natasha knows my selection wasn’t by chance.
We move on to another subject: Chastity’s upcoming sermon series for Youth on Sexuality creatively titled Knowing Him and Her. She came up with that title from the scripture Genesis 4:1a from the New King James Version, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife…” More modern versions tell how it really was by replacing “knew” with “made love”. Since Chastity was a teen mom, and based on the high rate of teen pregnancy in America and on the Res, and some of the concerns parents have brought to her, she felt God placed on her heart to discuss sexuality with the youth of the church.
In actuality, it’s more about God’s design and purpose of marriage, and how Christ comes first for both husband and wife. She’s hoping that through the message God will instill in the youth a desire to do things God’s way, and that each young man and young woman will feel precious in the eyes of God. And as current temples of the Lord our God, we’ll respect that honor and choose to do it God’s way… by waiting to have sex until we’re married.
Mom and dad are impressed. They agree that the youth are in need of such a message and they are glad to hear she’s doing it. Showing the sliver of uncertainty left in her, she asks dad and mom for their prayers that when she begins the message the Holy Spirit leads the series. Proudly, my parents accept the request and promise her they will do so.
After dinner, Zeven shares the new worship song he wrote in the living room with everyone else while I help Natasha stack the dishwasher. Natasha isn’t her normal, snarky, talkative self. Deafening silence builds a barricade between us. I can tell she’s deep in thought. I want to speak… but I don’t know what to say. The song of Zeven travels faintly into the kitchen. I listen to what I imagine the chorus is… it sounds like it’s in the Key of E or maybe C.
“We will shout on the hilltop.
We will sing in the streets,
And dance in the yard.
Praising the only worthy-
Of our praise- Jesus Christ
Lifting our voices
We sing- Hallelujah
To our King-
As we band together
In unity not conformity
The light that’s in us
We let it shine
As we lift our arms
Lifting praise we sing
To our king
As the body of Christ
We will shout from the hilltop…” he continues to sing on, singing the chorus again.
Now I have a talking point. “That’s a pretty good song.” I say.
Natasha winces, “It needs a lot of work. The words don’t flow. They’re good, but the song needs to be fluid, not forced. I’ve tried to help, but he’s too proud of it. Maybe now that I’m his girlfriend he’ll let me revise it.”
“Musically, it’s perfect though.” I comment.
Smiling in defeat, “True, when it comes to notes Zeven is a genius.”
“So maybe he’s the music and you’re the lyrics,” I say. Wow, I sound supportive of their relationship. I know I’m kind of coveting my neighbor’s significant other, it just feels like she’s been taken away from me, and I didn’t ever really have her.
Her whole face lights up with excited joy as if I prophesied to her. “You’re so right!” she closes the dishwasher, now that it’s stacked full, and then gives me a quick hug. Every hug from her is magical and heart-warming. As she slips out of my reach I wish the hug could have lasted a second longer, and I wish I had the guts to reel her back in, but I let her walk away. I follow her into the living room, where we’re all about to enjoy a game of Bible Trivia. Well, Annika’s gonna watch.
It is senior year of high school for Asher Lucas. His family moved to the Fort Apache Reservation the year before. They move into a cozy, three bedroom townhouse in Teacher Housing in Whiteriver, Arizona. His mother teaches second grade and his father serves as the Associate Pastor at a church nearby their new home. He’s the big brother of two sisters, 15-year-old Abbey, and baby Annika.
Asher grew up in a Christian home. He’s known Christ Jesus personally since he was a little boy, but in his last year of high school his faith has never been tested more, when he starts a journey to share the love of Christ with Melody Gartner, a senior girl at his school, who goes from Miss Popular to Nobody after breaking up with the school QB, Jon. Melody is a sweet, bubbly, vibrant girl whose dad is the Pinetop-Lakeside’s best vet and her mom is the queen of charity events. And she goes to church too– the Church of Latter Day Saints of Jesus Christ. Melody once embodied everything a Mormon Teen should be, but rumors spread she’s a cheating whore and she struggles to deal with the social fallout.
Abbey has a crush on Tenor Gartner, Melody’s brother, and Asher being the protective big brother he is, wards Tenor often at every opportunity presented. Tenor doesn’t like Asher’s religious influence over his sister Melody, so Tenor tries to make Asher’s life difficult.
As his he grows closer to Melody, Asher desires to save Melody from her world of mess but he knows he can’t. Therefore, Asher battles to allow Christ Jesus to step in and be her Savior. Along the way, he gets a little closer to Christ.
MEET THE CHARACTERS (Drawn by Me)
[I sketched these beauties on SketchBook, on my SurfacePro 3, using a PAC DOT S PEN. I used Canva to lay them out for a blog title template.]
[I sketched this too on SketchBook… I drew it to scale of the space I had, so some petals are incomplete. This is a simple PNG File.]
Originally, the story was called “Everloving”. Yes, I was trying to coin a new word like Shakespeare. I wanted to create a word to describe the EVERLASTING LOVE of GOD and I came up with EVERLOVING because HIS love is continuous in action towards us!
I remember feeling like a genius when I came up with this title. I sat in my living room, pretending I was being interviewed on The View, along with Kirk Cameron about “Everloving” the Movie. Kirk Cameron was the executive producer and played Asher’s dad. While I was the writer and director of the film. I imagined being asked what it was like when Angelina Jolie stopped by on set to watch her daughter’s performance. That’s right, I envisioned Shiloh Jolie-Pitt playing Melody when she’s old enough.
And we discuss how controversial everything is because not only are we saying a popular religion is wrong, we get a girl who is a hardcore tomboy to be a girly-girl in a film. The big kicker is the Shiloh gives her life to Christ onset and it rattles Hollywood.
Yes, clearly, I’m a dreamer, but you never know, it might happen.
Every Monday for the foreseeable future, I will post a chapter from TWAR77. I encourage you to share the posts with your friends and family. PLEASE, bombard me with constructive feedback in the comments. This means even if you catch a typo or super awful grammar mistake. I do ask that you’re respectful in your feedback, otherwise, you will be ignored.
I truly you hope you visit weekly for Manuscript Monday. I can’t put fully into words how I feel about this project. I do plan on publishing this book. Will I self publish it? I don’t know. I’d rather not.
I wrote this story for a few reasons. When I got the idea, I was unexplainably driven to write it. I think part of it is was I live in a region where being a Mormon/LDS was the same as being a Christian. I even went to church with people who didn’t understand that Mormonism doesn’t follow the Bible alone and founded by a con artist Joseph Smith.
I know a lot about Mormonism because I had a friend that became Mormon, but through fervent prayer and staying in touch, she came back to Christ Jesus within a year. I thought if I could understand the religion I could understand why she converted… but it didn’t help.
The Holy Spirit once told me to just love my friend when I was with her. I’m an intellectual, so I thought using apologetics for faith was loving, but I was missing the mark. It didn’t matter how well I debunked the LDS Church with history, science, and scripture from the Bible. When I realized my words were futile, and I recognized loving her was hanging out with her and just being us together, there would be moments she would ask what I thought about some Mormon practices. That’s when I was able to answer with what the Bible had to say, or history, or science… There were times I didn’t have an answer, but then I could pray with her for her to receive an answer. The loving approach was better and way easier than trying to be her savior.
I also know some really great people, who are Mormon, well LDS members (using the M-word is a no-no now according to HQ) and part of me hopes they read this one day and they make the decision to follow Christ Jesus through the Bible and the Holy Spirit alone as an ex-member of the LDS Church.
Melody’s dad is Adam in the story and many of things he says or experiences he has are from actual accounts I’ve heard LDS members share online in YouTube or in person. And Asher Lucas is my display of how I think a teen today should aim to carry out their faith. These people are fictional but there is truth in their interactions.
To be clear, I wrote this story because I was inspired to, I want to reach the lost, and I want people to connect with God and embark in a real relationship with Him. God is my DAD and I’m beyond blessed to be His Daughter, and I’m so grateful I don’t have to buy or earn His love. He gives it because He is LOVE and all He does is done because of His love for US.
THIS MONDAY – 12/03/2018 – VISIT HERE TO READ CHAPTER 1
Happy Thursday everyone! I can only hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. As November comes to a close, keep an attitude of gratitude.
I recently went to a seminar for documentary filmmakers and the speaker, who worked on Oscar-nominated projects, said the most successful people she worked with carried two key perspectives to life: Gratitude & Sense of Abundance. Therefore, thanking God for everything you have under the sun and believing you have more than enough to work with in any given situation will take you far in life.
I must be lacking thankfulness and abundance because all I see lately in my life are failures. LOL. JK.
If you got to see any part of my creative process, you would know I sometimes write a bunch of different versions of any given concept my brain develops. Sometimes, I have three or four different versions in my head before I commit the idea to pen & paper, or to keys & word doc. My goal with this blog was to be disciplined. To force myself to stay the course of my first thoughts, but this isn’t the case… I think I’m just trying to create a formula for my creative process and I now know that is impossible and if it is possible, I should treat such a process as non-applicable.
Part of the excitement in life is the journey, correct? Just because I thought of one plot point first, doesn’t mean it is the best plot point, correct?
What are you trying to say, Brianna?
I’m saying I decided to change the story featured on Manuscript Monday. Instead of chapters of “Girls of Grace”, you will read sections of “The Wildflowers Along Route 77” every week.
Check out the title graphic art below. I made it in Canva with my free access. I used white font, size 12, style Trocchi. I used Unsplash for the photos. I’m incredibly grateful for the creative eye of “gades photography” and “Nathan Anderson” for the beautiful photos they captured. I did add a filter to the forest to brighten it up and I made the sunflower more transparent than normally.
My inspiration for the graphic and the story come from Whiteriver, Arizona along Scenic Route 77. In July, after the monsoon rains flood the land, along the two-way highway flowers spring up along the road. They look like sunflowers, but I don’t think they are, I’m pretty sure they’re weeds. Whether they are weeds or flowers they are absolutely beautiful. Especially, when the green grass is vibrant from drinking in the rain. The wind blows gently as soft gray storm clouds loom over the mountain plateaus in the horizon. Simply breathtaking to see as you cruise 55 mph down a winding road.
What is this story about?
Let’s back up a bit and talk about Whiteriver, AZ a little. The town sits on the Fort Apache Reservation. The only people who live there are Natives and Hired Teachers. Depending on how fast you drive, the town Pinetop-Lakeside is about 40 minutes away, Show Low is another 10 minutes away. The land is a mixture of chaparral and piney forest inside a valley on a mountain. The White Mountain Apache have four tribes: the Eagle, the Bear, the Roadrunner, and the Butterfly. Of course, these English words have Apache word counterparts, however, I do not know the language “AT ALL” to even relay the information.
(I will also confess, all this information I have about the tribe I picked up through observation, and what my friends at church told me. If I get anything wrong and you have empirical evidence or first hand knowledge that I describe something wrong, please email me with the details or leave a comment and I will make the correction, and credit you for the update.)
Their language is not lost, though much of the youth don’t know it, the Apaches are hopeful the language will be kept alive. Members of the tribe are either Christian, Traditional, or both. Many of the tribal members who live on the reservation experience alcoholism, suicide, teen pregnancy, physical abuse, sexual abuse, drug abuse, gang violence, witchcraft, and spiritual warfare in their families. Though there are Christians, there can be a big emphasis on RELIGION over RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.
The Apache identify as a people group through their native culture. Christianity preaches that all of their native practices are of witchcraft and are of the devil. And I would agree a lot of it is demonic based on what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard. But I have seen some struggle to hold onto their culture and pursue God will reckless abandonment, because they do not want to lose who they are.
In Pinetop-Lakeside and Show Low, the wealthy or upper middle class vacation there for skiing, hunting, and fishing all in the appropriate seasons. For the people who live there year round, like other towns they have their share of the poor and the wealthy. Small businesses for the time being are able to flourish there, but who knows when big business will fully takeover. (Oh that’s so grim, let me change it!) I mean, IT’S AMAZING AT ALL THE GREAT SMALL BUSINESSES THERE!
Must go to places are Darby’s, Baked in Pinetop, White Mountain Ice Cream, and Village 8 (Movie Theater). If you ever pass through the area, try to grab breakfast at Darby’s. For sure pick up a fresh loaf of sourdough from Baked in Pinetop. If you love ICE CREAM, go to the Ice Cream Shop by the movie theater in Pinetop-Lakeside. And, for those like me who can’t go on vacation without going to the movies… GO TO THE MOVIES in the WHITE MOUNTAINS because I used to work at VILLAGE 8 and it was one of the most fun jobs I ever had. The theaters are privately owned by the Croney Family and they LOVE what they do and owners like that give the people the best deals and the best service!
Believe it or not, Pinetop-Lakeside and Show Low are heavily affected by the drug scene. People who are born in the area, rarely ever leave. Many families encounter alcoholism, abusive homes, teen pregnancy and drug addiction.
And I can continue to compare and contrast life on the Reservation as opposed to life in the towns, but hopefully, it becomes evident in the fictional story I wrote.
The White Mountain area is a huge Latter Day Saints region. They have churches in Pinetop-Lakeside, Whiteriver, and in Show Low. In Taylor and Snowflake there are statues to commemorate important LDS moments or history in those towns. Then there Assemblies of God Churches and plenty of Baptists. There’s a Methodist church somewhere up the hill (Pinetop-Lakeside or Show Low). And even a Unity Church.
I will state I believe the LDS church and the Unity Church are falsehoods preaching doctrines of men and devils. It depends on the Assembly of God Church and Methodist Church… some are starting to stray away from the truth.
Now, I lived in Whiteriver for three years with my mom. She taught 2nd grade on the Reservation and I lived with her until I went away to college for a second time in Columbus, Ohio. We went to Canyon Day Assembly of God, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, and to this day, that church family is FAMILY. When we go to Pinetop-Lakeside or Showlow, if we’re there on a Sunday, we go to Canyon Day for church!
These two facts play a big role on the story you will read on Manuscript Monday. The main character Asher, moves to the Reservation with his family. His mom is a school teacher and his dad becomes the new associate pastor at a church near teacher housing. Asher is multiracial like I am, but he’s mixed differently.
Would you say the story is autobiographical, a little?
I’m gonna say no. I used realities in my life and applied them to the main character Asher, but there’s so much the story covers and goes into I’ve never lived or experienced in my life.
Now religion vs. relationship with God is a huge theme in this story. Many moments will feature Asher wrestling with his faith and the pressures of being a teenage boy in our modern culture. I do include a lot about the LDS Church. It may be different than what you’ve heard or seen or know. I can honestly tell you, I’ve heard different things from different LDS members. I think a lot of it has to do with what region the members are from and because the LDS Church is not based entirely on the Word, and not truly led by the Spirit of God, stories and doctrine will be contradictory.
True, a lot of people say Christianity is contradictory. The Bible has loads of evidence authenticating its many books. All legitimate denominations believe in core values from the Bible, therefore, unifying us under one belief. And all and all, I believe there’s only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus the Messiah. Once you believe in Him, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit and you pretty much live your whole life, from the point of belief, growing closer to God.
Of course, you’ll see my trademark ingredients to a story. Who knows, maybe I’m the future Nicholas Sparks of Teen Faith Fiction. His books always feature a death, a forbidden love story (one person comes from money and the other is poor), and a broken relationship (an abusive relationship, a bad daddy-daughter relationship, or estranged parent and child relationship). I still love the stories all the same, but he has a very clear niche that has made him very wealthy.
Is my aim wealth?
I certainly don’t want to be a dead published author or a starving one. But I write for this simple fact: writing is my passion and telling stories is life for me. I would write for nothing. Wait, I already do! At times, I’m a little vain glorious, but God so help me, in the end let my work not be in VAIN!
This venture is going to be an amazing journey and I’m glad you decided to join! I pray this story blesses you in some way! Enjoy.