Wednesday, 21 March 2012

By Their Shoes You Shall Know Them

At almost every church I have attended I've received compliments on my shoes, and probably dish out even more. A lady once joked, "I could bend down in a crowd and find you by recognising your shoes!"

Because we were in church at the time I rather flippantly replied, "By their shoes you shall know them." I've often said the same about cars and other things, putting a different slant on By their fruit you shall know them.

For me, at least, my heart was checked after I said that because we can be pretty blasé about the spiritual. A Twitter quote recently cited CS Lewis as being behind the phrase we are a soul and live in a body (not ‘we live in a body and have a soul’). It is SO true.

This morning as I read Joshua 5v15* it made me think of being in church and not wearing any shoes at all. Like most women, I do love to arrive in shoes and will take them off at will. However there have been times where I have removed mine in acknowledging that the place where I am standing is holy.

Taking off my flats, my sandals, my stilettos is a decisive act, acknowledging being in the presence of the Great I AM. It’s so easy to disconnect and just go to church, sing the songs, hear the sermon and walk right out again. Taking shoes off can be a physical representation of what goes on in the heart.

Coming from a pretty formulaic background, removing shoes brings freedom. And if you happen to spy on me in church and see my feet are bare, don’t assume you know what’s going on. It may be my feet are tired. You’ll never know... ;)

If God is present and you take off your shoes and close your eyes because the place where you are standing is holy, what happens to your heart?

You decide: Would it be weird for you to take off your shoes in church to remind you of where you stand with God?

*See also Acts 7v33 and Exodus 3v5

The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. Joshua 5v15

Le chef de l'armée de l'Eternel lui répondit:
   ---Ote tes sandales de tes pieds, car l'endroit où tu te tiens est un lieu saint.
   Et Josué obéit.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Love Finds You in Tombstone, AZ

When I told Miralee Ferrell on Twitter I liked her book, she asked that I review it for her. I luuuurve letting people know what I think of my latest read, so it was a definite no-brainer saying yes. The fact she’s gotten words outa me right now is pretty impressive because I’ve been working like crazy, and it’s been a while since I’ve been writing actual reviews (used to write weekly book reviews many moons ago), so here goes...

LFY in Tombstone, Az (click the link for the back page synopsis so I don't reinvent the wheel) was a surprising read. I really truly shy away from anything that seems even remotely clichéd and so this was a nice foray back to the Wild West I love. Steering clear of the chestnut can be difficult when there’s a cache of books out there all along the same lines. The beauty of this one was though the theme was tried and true; the message of forgiveness came across much differently and gently.

What stood out most was that here are two people with a past they’d rather escape. It seemed that in order to honour this wish, the author didn’t delve too heavily into details and the overview of their past was enough. It my honest belief that some deep details in novels encourage a spirit of gossip in the reader, but here we know enough to keep the story moving, get the idea, and move into the good bits. The pages were effortlessly turning... chapters cruising past without notice...

I found the two key character’s initial doubts of God authentic, rather than an autopilot headlong plunge into prosaic faith and Christianese. “Inspirational” novels have long been criticised by non-believers for their lack of authenticity and Bible-bashing, but here is a story I would actually pass on to an unsaved friend, for here some of their (unspoken) legitimate and real questions might get answered.

Best of all, I loved the strong message of God’s complete forgiveness. When we do that 180 degree turn and fully choose to walk away from the sin that entangles, God’s amazing forgiveness and acceptance of us is something we can trust in and cling to entirely. This topic is broached tenderly yet without heaping it upon the reader in a cloying way.

A book has to have a “penny-drop” moment for me, or else it will vanish into the ethereous Black Hole of being just another book. One of my two such moments in this book can be found on p244 where it seems the penny also drops for Nevada:

                                                    ‘Sorrow at how far he’d fallen warred with a tremendous surge of joy that, in spite of his lack of faith, God had seen fit to answer [his prayer]. Something akin to trust stirred deep in his spirit, and his soul sent out the first tentative shoots toward his heavenly Father in years.’

As a reader I love it when a character grasps his faith with both hands and chooses to run with it, not because he has to, but because he must (there is a difference).

As a writer reading other writers, the factual parts of this book are amazing and Miralee is to be commended for keeping it so real. Being a huge stickler for the genuine and also being quite hard to impress when it comes to plot, I say well done for the history aspect! It makes me wanna go there!

Bottom line: Will I pick up the prequel Love Finds You in Last Chance, California?

To find out more about the Tombstone, AZ story here's another good review online.

"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12v9

Mais il m'a répondu: «Ma grâce te suffit, c'est dans la faiblesse que ma puissance se manifeste pleinement.» C'est pourquoi je me vanterai plutôt de mes faiblesses, afin que la puissance du Christ repose sur moi.