April 23, 2011

Silent Saturday

In the Gospels very little is said about this day...the day after the crucifixion. Jesus’ body was quietly and quickly tucked away late on Friday afternoon so that the Jewish believers could keep the Sabbath holy. I've often wondered what took place on this "silent Saturday."

There are some things that we can surmise.
This was a day like none other for the followers of Christ. It followed a night when one of them had betrayed Him, and another had denied Him three times. Worse yet they had been present while their teacher, leader, and friend was cruelly put to death.

Reflecting on all that had happened since the day that Jesus had called them to be His disciples who knows what images flashed through their minds? I'm sure they experienced an array of thoughts and emotions.

When something tragic happens the moments surrounding the event seem to be seared into the human memory. There is no way to delete the scenes. They are forever etched in our minds. This most certainly was also true of the disciples. All that happened had to be playing like a movie over and over again.

Their hopes had been crushed. They were appalled at their behavior and the behavior of others. It is possible that they may have been on the run. Their lives were surely in danger. They probably feared they would be killed next. Perhaps it seemed a logical outcome.

This had to be a very dark day. But isn’t it always darkest before the dawn?

How fortunate that God's mind works very different from man's. With Him, when we repent, our sins become deleted scenes. While some of our sins never quite escape our memory He chooses to remember them no more.

Also, with God, there are no alternate endings. There is no need to try to figure out what the outcome of our lives will be. He remains steadfast and true to all that He has promised. Despite dark days the darkness always gives way to His incredible light.

As followers of Jesus, at times, our hearts echo the words of the psalmist in Psalm 143:1-12:

"Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my plea! Answer me because you are faithful and righteous. Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you. My enemy has chased me. He has knocked me to the ground and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave. I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.

Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die. Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I run to you to hide me. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life. Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress. In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant."

I can't help but wonder if the disciples did not feel this way on that day. We have to remember that they were unaware of what we know for certain as believers. No matter how the scenes of our individual lives play out there is NO alternate ending. The blood of Jesus secured our destiny and it will NEVER lose its power.

I'm so glad that "silent Saturday" was not the end of the story.

Sunday sealed the deal!

April 21, 2011

People of the Book tour kick-off featuring Kathi Macias

Today I am featuring an interview with award winning author Kathi Macias. Her latest work, People of the Book, which is the fourth and final book in the Extreme Devotion series, is absolutely phenomenal. Each one of the books in this series set in a different country. I haven't read the first three books in the series but hope the publisher will offer them for the Kindle so I can do so soon. Hint, hint New Hope Publishers.

It is not very often that a Christian fiction book has the power to keep me up at night. People of the Book did more than that. It challenged my commitment to Christ and caused me to question just how far I would be willing to go to hold on to my relationship with Him in the face of trials and or persecution. I am still thinking about many things since reading this book. I'll share some of them as a part of my review in another post. 

Please be sure you don't miss the important contest information tucked within this interview. You'll find out everything you need to know to win all four books in the series in this post. Good luck and enjoy!

Here is more from Kathi:

How is People of the Book different, and who/what inspired you to write this book?

People of the Book was the most difficult of the four Extreme Devotion series books to write, but it is also the strongest when it comes to a call to personal commitment to Christ and to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. With each of the books, I began drafting the manuscripts through Internet research, since I had never lived in any of the four countries and had only visited one of them. After the original draft, I worked with someone who either currently lived in the country or who had recently spent many years there.

People of the Book was the toughest because the Saudi women I connected with via the Internet were understandably apprehensive about associating with me. Most, in fact, were terrified to do so. I was therefore quite pleased to meet a young woman named Dolly Dahdal here in the States who, until just a few years ago, had spent the majority of her life in Saudi Arabia and understood perfectly why I had chosen to write this book. We shared a passion to help expose the fallacy of “honor killings,” a horrific crime perpetrated primarily against women and girls who in some way bring “dishonor” on their Muslim families, and Dolly was a major contributor to the authenticity of this book.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of this story?

Eighteen-year-old Farah, who lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with her family, wants nothing more than to develop a deeper, more meaningful devotion to her Muslim faith. She sees the month of Ramadan as her chance to draw nearer to Allah, and she pursues that goal throughout the holiday. All goes well until the prophet Isa—Jesus—appears to her in a dream and calls her to Himself. At the same time, her only brother, Kareem, who has never liked Farah, actively seeks an opportunity to expose her for the sham he believes she is.

Meanwhile, Farah’s seventeen-year-old cousin, Nura, has begun to frequent an online chat room where former Muslims gather to discuss their new faith, based on their belief that Isa is much more than a Muslim prophet—He is actually the Son of God. While there, Nura becomes acquainted with an American girl of Muslim ancestry—now a devout Christian named Sara—and a friendship quickly develops. However, Sara has problems of her own due to her fifteen-year-old brother Emir’s involvement with a gang.

The lives of Farah, Nura, and Sara ultimately dovetail until each finds herself at a place where her faith is put to the test. Will they remain faithful to the end? Will God protect and keep them safe in the midst of persecution and treachery? Or will they be required to pay the ultimate price for their faith?

Kathi, how did you get into writing? Has it always been your passion, or is it something you came to later in life?

I’ve always wanted to write, for as long as I can remember. I was an avid reader even before I started kindergarten. I wrote a short story in third grade that the teacher liked so much she showed it to the principal, and they decided to turn it into a play for the entire PTA. I was hooked! One day when I was about 13, I was walking home from school with my then boyfriend (now husband), Al, and I told him I’d be a writer some day. He often reminds me how blessed I am to have been able to do what I dreamed of all my life.

I understand you’re running a special contest that has to do with this book. Can you tell us about it?

Not only are there several opportunities to win a copy of the book on various blog sites included in this tour, but I’m giving away the entire four-book series at the end of the tour to someone who leaves a comment on one of the blogs, so be sure to check them all out and leave comments on each one!

In addition to writing, you are a popular speaker at women’s event, writers’ conferences, and various venues around the country. How can people find out more about you, your writing and speaking, sign up for your weekly devotional newsletter (in English or Spanish), and/or just view your many book videos, etc.?

They can find me at one of my websites (http://www.kathimacias.com/; http://www.thetitus2women.com/) or on my Easy Writer blog at http://kathieasywritermacias.blogspot.com/. There is a “contact” button on my Kathi Macias website if they’d like to send me a message. I always respond to all my emails!

I hope that you have enjoyed this interview. Don't forget to visit the various sites involved with this tour and enter to win copies of Kathi's book. You can find out more about the tour on Facebook here and you can also leave a comment on this post to be included in a blog tour drawing for all 4 books in the series.

[I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speaker Services.

April 10, 2011

Sunday Scripture-Hiding

"You are a hiding place for me; You, Lord, preserve me from trouble, You surround me with songs and shouts of deliverance. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!" Psalm 32:7 Amplified Bible

April 3, 2011

Sunday Scripture-Wait

"Can the no-gods of the godless nations cause rain?  Can the sky water the earth by itself?

 You're the one, O God, who does this. So you're the one for whom  
 we wait.  You made it all, you do it all." 
Jeremiah 14:22 The Message
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