Monday, January 21, 2019

Black History

I majored in history for my undergraduate degree in college, and minority history has always held a special place in my heart, but I found most schools didn't teach it. In a day when the social studies curriculum rarely included any black history, I taught it - not just the better known figures like Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, or Dr. Martin Luther King - but also the often lesser known ones, such as Charles Drew, Garrett Morgan, Daniel Williams, etc.

In my community, the African-American churches did a pretty good job of teaching the children some black history. However, I wanted the white children to also know and appreciate this heritage. Even when schools started teaching black history during the month of February, I didn't think that was enough. I wanted to integrate it into all the periods of history I taught, so I incorporated into the regular curriculum throughout the year.

What worries me today is that we're not only regressing in the teaching of black history, but history is rarely being taught in any meaningful way in a large number of schools, especially elementary and middle schools. It's been pushed aside to emphasize math, reading, science, and technology. This will most likely lead to more problems for our government and nation as its citizens have less and less of a background or foundation to understand the important concepts or the mistakes of the past. I think we're already beginning to see some of this.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Straddling the Fence Doesn't Work

I've seen some church people who are only concerned with making sure they get to heaven when they die. They think they can accept Christ as their Savior and still straddle the fence to have one foot in worldly things and the other in the spiritual realm. They say the right words, are baptized, and attend church most of the time. They even contribute in special offerings or do a few good works for insurance, but they never really open their hearts, give God access to their lives, or change in any meaningful way. They don't try to witness or to be disciples, because they don't really care about others. They're too intent of looking out for number one.

"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24).

This will not work. There is no middle ground where God is concerned. We either obey God or Satan. Our enemy loves to encourage our selfishness and make us think we are in control of our lives because then he has control. That's why it's essential that we turn our lives over to Christ. We either belong to God or we belong to Satan. There is no in between. As Warren Wiersbe wrote in Be Amazed, "When it comes to our relationship with the Lord, we must be thorough and not 'half-baked.' His gracious work must permeate our whole being so that heart, mind, and strength are all devoted to Him (Kindle loc, 573). Compromising with the world doesn't work. 

"For some are already turned aside after Satan" (1 Timothy 5:15).

Salvation is not about what we do, but it's everything that Christ did for us on the cross. It's free for the asking, but we need to ask from the heart and really mean it. We must truly want to become a new creature in Christ. If you totally surrender your life to Him, I guarantee your life will be fuller, more peaceful, and more satisfying than you can imagine. A surrendered life has joy despite the circumstances, because we no longer carry burdens. Christ takes them from us and directs us, if we let Him. But we must learn to give Him all of us and not try straddling the fence to stay lukewarm Christians. 

"So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:16).

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Where Christian Writers Draw the Line

Christian writers have many choices to make beyond those of writers in general. These all have to do with where we draw the line in our writing. It's important that we stay true to our Lord and our calling. In a field where erotica is the fastest growing market, I think we need to be especially vigilant and aware of our choices. 

However, I don't think we have to dispose of all passion and reduce any romance to boring, insipid paragraphs either. I've had many readers tell me they liked how I wrote such heartfelt love scenes and still  kept them clean. I took this as a great compliment, because this is what I want to do. 

Another area to consider is how much crude language or profanity  will be allowed in a book. I have talked with several writers who include some because they say it is true-to-life. Because I don't like this as a reader and  have issues with  it, I choose not to include any in mine, but I still have to decide where I draw the  line. At one time Christian publishers considered phrases like "Dad burn," "for goodness sake," and "dang" as inappropriate because of what they stood for. I'm probably more careful than most with what I'll use, but we all have to make that decision.

I have also decided not to regularly post promotional ads on Sunday. This is an individual choice of mine, and I don't say it should be a hard-fast rule, but I do think it is something to consider. Again, it should be between you and God and how much you consider His day as a day of rest. The answer to all these choices is to pray and allow God to direct you.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Messy Desk?

The second Monday in January is National Clean Off Your Desk Day. For all the messy desks out there, I guess you just have to be cleaned once a year. Supposedly, 13% more men have untidy desks than women. Yet, statistics say those with the mess are likely to have more education and to be more task oriented.

Some people need a neat organized space in which to work. Others like to have everything they need spread out before them, which often means clutter. In general, neither one accomplishes more than the other. It's more important to use the method that works best for you.

So, this second Monday in January is a good day to straighten your desk. For the messy ones, you won't need to celebrate in this way for another whole year. For those who prefer everything neat and orderly, you can just continue to do what you usually do, and clean off your desk. Happy celebrating.


Friday, January 11, 2019

The Heart of Worship

In our fast-paced, digital society, have we lost the heart of worship? Worship should not be just a way to get emotional or to make ourselves feel good. It shouldn't be about us at all, except that we give ourselves to the Lord - body, mind, and spirit - as if we laid ourselves upon an altar in sacrifice. Worship is about honoring and giving to God.

There are really two types of worship, personal worship and cooperative worship. Both are important. Personal worship is where we fall to our knees in awe or stretch out our hands to take in His majesty. It's when we stand on a mountaintop or by the sea and drink in the beauty of His handiwork as we feel His presence. It's where we realize what a holy, magnificent, perfect God we serve. Cooperative worship is done among other believers, like at church. It's important, because it not only connects the worshipper with God, but it encourages others to worship also, and you, in turn, are encouraged by others.

David worshipped often. The Psalms are full of passages that tell us this and encourage us to worship, too. Worship should be one of the reasons we go to church. It is what cements us to God so that we never lose sight of who we are as His child and why we serve Him. It reminds us that none of it should be about us and that all of life should be for and about Him. Our main goal should be to glorify God, and worship lays the foundation.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

How Do Readers Choose Their Books?

A number of factors determine which book a reader will choose to buy, and those will vary with each reader. However, we can draw some generalizations. One of the biggest concerns is the genre. Some people enjoy books from many different genres while others will only read books from one or two, but most readers have specific likes and dislikes.

Price is also an important consideration. Some buyers set a limit and will not pay above a certain amount for a book. Others buy mainly from the sales. However, there are a few who pay little attention to the price if they find the book appealing. When you look at the costs of other entertainment today, books are really a bargain, and especially ebooks.

Other concerns might also play a part in book selection. A well-designed cover helps. Reviews are important, especially to those many readers who buy their books online. The description of the book needs to be interesting, and even the number of pages the book has might be a factor. In addition, knowing something about the author and his or her books or writing can help. What factors do you look for when considering a book?


Monday, January 7, 2019

National Bobblehead Doll Day

Sports bobbleheads
January 7th is National Bobblehead Doll Day. Who knew? I have to admit, although I've made dolls and collected certain types, I've never given bobbleheads much thought. However, thousands of collectors do, and there's almost every kind of bobblehead doll imaginable. And, if you imagine one that's not there, you can have it made.

Justice Lockwood of the
Arizona Supreme Court
If your curiosity is piqued, you might want to google them. I was astounded by the wide range of bobbleheads. Some caused me to chuckle, and others made me shake my head. There're seemingly endless possibilities in history, sports, careers, and personalities; and you can even have one of yourself, your pet, or whatever you'd like designed and produced.

Bobbleheads are not limited to one nation either. They've gone international and can be found across the world. The illustration on the right shows a Tanjorie bobblehead from India. The dolls actually first appeared in Asia and were called nodders. During the 19th century, a bisque version made their way to the United States, but many of these were produced in Germany. However, they became almost a fad in the 1990's. A few years ago the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum opened in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Who knew?