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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Fiction Review: Trial by Twelve


Trial by Twelve, by Heather Day Gilbert is the second book in her Murder in the Mountains series. It’s the sequel to Miranda Warning (You can read my review here.), which I recommend you read first, though Trial by Twelve can stand on its own. 

This book starts each chapter with letters from an estranged father to his child. You don’t know either who the father is or the child—until the end of the book. Then, the story is told. Tess works at the Crystal Mountain Spa in West Virginia. The spa is a tony place where the clientele can get massages, different baths and treatments, in a ritzy atmosphere—incense and candles included. Tess, married mother of a toddler, is an attractive, young, pistol packing kind of West Virginia woman. She works with elegant Dani, who’s small and fashionable. Teeny defies his name, and he’s the masseuse—and a flirt.

As backhoes arrive to install an outdoor pool, they find human remains. Unfortunately, the remains seem to multiply as you flip the pages. New bodies, old corpses, and all killed in the same way: a crossbow. Who’s the killer? Almost everyone seems like they might be. Tess’s husband becomes concerned. Why should she be hanging out in harm’s way? Several people close to her had already disappeared.

You’ll enjoy this exciting murder mystery. It’s clean and well written, and the author is a Christian from West Virginia. Trial by Twelve has an authentic feel to it. (I have a feeling the author carries, too!) There are several spa resorts in West Virginia, and I can definitely imagine one of them holding some secrets.

Four stars.
  

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Why Did God Make Me Like This?


I’d venture that 95% of all women have looked in the mirror at some time in their lives and asked this question: why? Why did God make me like I am?

Usually that question is followed by self-demeaning words or thoughts. My nose is too big. My body is pear-shaped. My hand doesn’t work. I can’t walk. I am blind and have so many hardships because of it. I am deaf, and I have to use a language most people don’t even know. I’m confined to a wheelchair. I don’t like my freckles. I got acne in my youth and have scars. I suffer from chronic pain. The list is endless!

Some of the complaints are completely understandable. People do have difficulties. A few have genuine trouble trying to live on any level of normality. Others are just picking at supposed “flaws.” Who cares how big your nose is or about your freckles? Only you. (Some of us actually like big noses and freckles. Did you know that?)

But ... almost every woman on the planet has the same problem. She asks why God made her like she is—or allowed her to have a sickness, accident, pain, or disability.

Why, indeed?

I am glad to have an answer for you. It’s maybe not something you’ve considered, because you’ve been conditioned by modern values and trends. For example, my own body shape was considered gorgeous back in the time of the ancient Greeks. It came back into style in the 1600s. (I’ve often thought I was born a few centuries too late!) I’m joking, of course.

Every single person on this earth is here for a purpose. It’s the same purpose for everyone. No one is here for any other reason. Are you curious?

Moses said, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue (Exodus 4:10). God countered, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say (Exodus 4:11-12).

Joshua had very little self-confidence, yet God wanted him to lead a nation. God, through Moses, said to him, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee (Deuteronomy 31:23).

Gideon put out a fleece twice to make doubly sure God was going to go with him.
And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor (Judges 6:36-37a). Of course, God honored his faith and made Israel victorious.

The man was born blind. The Jewish leaders accused him of sinning—or his parents. Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him (John 9:3).

The Apostle Paul tells the story of his unnamed physical problem. Yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong (2 Corinthians 5b-10).

So, what is our purpose? Why are we made the way we are?

This Bible passage will give us perspective: For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them (Psalm 139:13-16). From your mother’s womb, God was making you just like He wanted you to be. Your big nose, your freckles, your deformed hand, or your blind eyes were all made by Him for a holy purpose. God sees you in a very different way than we see ourselves. He made us just the way we are for a purpose.

Some girls and women are mad at God. They’re not a bit content. I can understand. Every epoch has an ideal of beauty, and when we fall short—most of us—we feel disappointed. Why am I always carrying extra pounds? Why aren’t I six feet tall and size 2? Why do I have a lopsided smile? We could go on and on. (I’ll tell you a secret: even women who meet the ideal aren’t happy with something about themselves. I’ve known a few of them.)

I think we need to switch our mind-chip from our thoughts to God’s—even about our own bodies, talents, and minds. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). Since God’s thoughts are higher and His ways are always better, we need to quit questioning them, accept the way we’re made as for a divine purpose, and actually embrace who we are. For me, that means it’s okay to be shorter, a little heavier, and not as gorgeous as my dreams. God has a reason He made me like I am!

God reveals several of His purposes in His Word:
  • ObedienceLet us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
  • HolinessTo the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints (1 Thessalonians 3:13).
  • TestimonyLet your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
  • Glorifying GodThat ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 15:6). For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Whoever you are, whatever you look like, whatever disability you may have, you were made with the same holy purpose: to glorify God.

When we accept this, it’s liberating!