Girls With Swords, Week 6

“Good men must not obey the laws too well.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

In this week’s study, we were given this quote and asked to explain what we thought it meant.  I really had no clue what to imagine the quote meant, but finally came up with this answer to the challenge:

“It needs context. I went and tried to read a little bit of the essay that the quote is from, and it’s generally about government.  In more entirety, the quote actually says ‘Every actual State is corrupt. Good men must not obey the laws too well.’ The essay also argues the ‘government’ between Laban and Jacob; how Laban and Isaac are the keepers of the land, [and are in charge of making decisions on matters concerning their land, and though Jacob lives there too, he must simply earn his keep.  He has no power over what happens to the land.]  So from the little that I read, maybe it means that there is no HUMAN state that is flawless.  Only God’s state is really Good.” 

Later, my dad shared a new thought with us, a sermon that he had heard spoken, and it cleared my understanding of Mr. Emerson’s quote. It dealt with the story in John 5:1-18. In the story, Jesus was healing a man who couldn’t walk.

When Jesus saw the man and knew that he had been sick for such a long time, Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be well?” The sick man answered, “Sir, there is no one to help me get into the pool when the water starts moving. While I am coming to the water, someone else always gets in before me.” Then Jesus said, “Stand up. Pick up your mat and walk.” And immediately the man was well; he picked up his mat and began to walk.” (verses 6-9, NCV)

According to the laws of love, Jesus did a wonderful thing.  He healed a man who had been trying to reach an angel’s healing touch for 38 years.  Who could have possibly been against such a good act of kindness?

“Because Jesus was doing this on the Sabbath day, some evil people began to persecute him.” (Verse 16, NCV)

As wonderful as was the kindness that Jesus showed to the cripple, the Jews weren’t happy with his work because it was on the Sabbath, which was their holy day of rest.  According to the Jewish laws, no one was allowed to work on the Sabbath.  Jesus, however, never allowed the laws of the Sabbath to stop Him from doing a good deed.

“But Jesus said to them, “My Father never stops working, and so I keep working, too.” This made them try still harder to kill him. They said, “First Jesus was breaking the law about the Sabbath day. Now he says that God is his own Father, making himself equal with God!” (verses 17-18, NCV)

There are many stories where Jesus healed people on the Sabbath (Mark 1:21-31, 3:1-6; Luke 13:10-17, 14:1-6; John 9:1-16).  Jesus was hated for His work.

“Every actual State is corrupt.  Good men must not obey the laws too well.”  Jesus matched the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson perfectly in this story: He is a good man, the only good man on earth, but He didn’t follow the Jewish laws perfectly.  Instead He followed God’s flawless law: love and mercy.

 “Jesus answered, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.” Mark 10:18 (NCV)

Amen, Lord Jesus!

“Our Warrior-King is beautiful. His very image is beyond compare. The wondrous span of creation captures a mere fragment of his beauty. The mighty ocean, soaring skies, and majestic mountains declare the powerful, immeasurable, enduring beauty of his strength.  Each and every living thing-from plants to animals- is an irresistible revelation of the fact that our God is gorgeous! He lovingly formed his sons and daughters to carry more of his majesty, glory, and beauty than any other creation.  We are his masterpiece.” –Quote from Lisa Bevere, Girls with Swords

“Being kind to people who see no kindness, or little of it anyway, [moves me].  Also being reliable. I am moved by quality, whether it’s quality of life, writing, behavior- perhaps I have high expectations, but…”    -quote from Lacy’s fencing manual

“Read the Psalms.  All over the place, [the scriptures can bring you perspective when you’re anxious or afraid], it calls God “a fortress”, “a shield”, “my strength”.  I never really understood the concept of the Psalms until we came up with Belaedria, and Escaping the Lair.  Taliesan [our fictional character] is always impressed by the Psalms.  He convinced me that God really is our shield!” -quote from Kat’s fencing manual  

Girls With Swords, Week 5

The chapter this week focused on the cross, and how Satan thought he was victorious as Jesus drew his final breath on the cross and said “It is finished.”  Satan didn’t realize that it was man’s fate of being covered in sin with no hope of redemption that was finished; not God’s wonderful plan of salvation!  Through Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection, we are forgiven! There is no condemnation for us; all that is expected is that we boast in the cross and believe (and proclaim) Jesus Christ is Lord!

“…Aaron will take the two goats and bring them before the Lord at the entrance to the Meeting Tent. He will throw lots for the two goats—one will be for the Lord and the other for the goat that removes sin. Then Aaron will take the goat that was chosen for the Lord by throwing the lot, and he will offer it as a sin offering. The other goat, which was chosen by lot to remove the sin, must be brought alive before the Lord. The priest will use it to perform the acts that remove Israel’s sin so they will belong to the Lord. Then this goat will be sent out into the desert as a goat that removes sin. … He will put both his hands on the head of the living goat, and he will confess over it all the sins and crimes of Israel. In this way Aaron will put the people’s sins on the goat’s head. Then he will send the goat away into the desert, and a man who has been appointed will lead the goat away. So the goat will carry on itself all the people’s sins to a lonely place in the desert. The man who leads the goat will let it loose there.” Leviticus 16:7-10, 21-22

In the Old Testament the Israelites were commanded to use the blood of a lamb for the forgiveness of their sins.  They were also commanded to send out a scapegoat to carry their sins into the wilderness.  Once gone, the sins would be forgotten.

Looking into the future, the prophet Isaiah told how one day a Savior would come to the nation of Israel and save God’s people from the judgment that awaits those who do not respect and obey God.  In Isaiah 49:6, the prophecy even tells how people who are not part of Israel will also be saved by this wonderful Savior. “The Lord told me, ‘You are an important servant to me. You will bring back the tribes of Jacob. You will bring back the people of Israel who are left alive. But, more importantly, I will make you a light for all nations. You will show people all over the world the way to be saved.’(ICB)  God wanted us ALL to be brought into righteousness.

Isaiah 53 is a direct prophecy of Jesus Christ, telling how He would be treated unfairly, killed, and become the sin offering for all who believe in Him. “We all have wandered away like sheep; each of us has gone his own way. But the Lord has put on him the punishment for all the evil we have done.” (verse 6, NCV)

Jesus is not only the Lamb of God which is sacrificed to wash away sins, but He is also the scapegoat which carries the sins of all the people away, no longer to be thought of.

Isaiah also prophecies Jesus’ victory in his resurrection. Isaiah 53:11 says that After his soul suffers many things, he will see life and be satisfied. My good servant will make many people right with God; he will carry away their sins.” (NCV)  Jesus did gain the victory over death, and He offers the same to us.

“He willingly gave his life and was treated like a criminal. But he carried away the sins of many people and asked forgiveness for those who sinned.” (verse 12, NCV)

Praise the Lord!  Thank you, Jesus.

“The cross addresses our raw human tendency that not one of us can escape. Before the cross, we were victims of destiny, our own fate hung over our heads like doom, but after the cross, we had another option: eternal life with Jesus.” –quote from Lacy’s fencing manual

“It’s the blood of lambs that would wash away the sins of the Israelites. A purely good life must be given – its blood spilt, for the sanctification of our own sinful lives.  And so what other way could Christ have saved us?  He is our lamb of God; a sinless, perfect life. He had to fulfill all the prophesies.”  –quote from Kat’s fencing manual

Girls With Swords, Week 4

“Now by the laws of war, better than defeating a country by fire and the sword, is to take it without strife.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War

As Christians, we are not called to fight a war with earthly weapons; the battles that are fought are actually in the spiritual realm.  Instead, we are called to show kindness to all people.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV)

My Task, hymn lyrics by Maude Louise Ray

“To love someone more dearly every day, to help a wandering child to find his way, to ponder o’er a noble thought and pray, and smile when evening falls: This is my task.

“To follow truth as blind men long for light, to do my best from dawn of day til night, to keep my heart fit for His holy sight, and answer when He calls: This is my task.”

Being equipped with the armor of the Lord and the Sword of the Spirit, we are a part of the army of the Lord.  Take heart, you are not alone!  There are Christians all over the world, and they are going through similar battles.  That’s why we need to encourage one another and help strengthen them.  I liked a quote that I read in the Art of War, which says “Skillful soldiers make defeat impossible, and further render the enemy incapable of victory.”

Let’s be skillful in our task, and help others become skillful in their tasks too, so that we may render Satan incapable of victory.

“Division weakens the Church. As long as people are focused on their squabbles and disagreements, they cannot further the kingdom of God.” -quote from Kat’s fencing manual

“The Unity Creed: To create peace and unity, I must work hard. I must observe the world around me. I must minister in time of need. I must listen actively all the time. I must remember all that I can. Then when I need help, if no one gives it, I must pray to God, giver of all things.” -quote from Lacy’s fencing manual

 

Girls with Swords, Week 3

For my birthday earlier this month, Lacy bought me a book that I’ve been wanting: The Art of War.  It’s said to be a great book, used by successful entrepreneurs  to improve their skill.  But as I read it during this time while I’m also studying Girls with Swords, I find we can apply it to Christian living, too.

“To all nations war is a great matter.  Upon the army death or life depend: it is the means of the existence or destruction of the State.” Sun Tzu in The Art of War

The existence of God’s Holy nation – Christians from every part of the world – depends on how well each of us prepares for our spiritual battle.   If we stand ready to fight against the spiritual enemies who wage war against us, we will be able to persevere and protect our people from the enemy’s attacks; but if we stay ignorant and in denial of the war around us, Satan will easily overpower us and cause the people of God to stumble and fall away.  War is a great matter, whether we stand in the offense or in the defense; we have to be ready for the battles ahead.

If the world hateth you, ye know that it hath hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, A servant is not greater than his lord. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.” John 15:18-21  (ASV)

This week, the Girls with Swords chapter focused on how we might be heroes just like the men and women spoken of in Hebrews 11.  Through faith, we can face the enemy and stand bravely for Christ.  With God as our power, we can be superhuman.

It sounds unbelievable; but don’t be fooled by Satan’s lies against this concept- you really are the hero of your own story.  The moment you chose to be baptized, you became an enemy of Satan, and all the angels in heaven rejoiced (Luke 15:3-10).  If you haven’t chosen baptism yet, then Satan’s legion of demons fight every day to keep you from making the decision of accepting salvation through Christ’s resurrection.  While God wants no man to perish but all to have eternal life through Jesus Christ (John 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:1-6, 2 Peter 3:9), Satan wants quite the opposite. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16), but Satan wishes that all people shall perish and none have eternal life.

Once you accept your role as hero, whether you perform amazing miracles like the hero Captain Sullinberger of the US Airways flight 1549 or you’re just a forgotten survivor, victim of life’s worst events the way that Chuck Noland was in the movie Castaway, you are a hero in your own story and Satan is trying to bring you – as a Christian – to ruin.

“Reacting does not equal choosing. Fear will drive you to react, but as you become more skillful with the sword, you will choose your response with the intent of honoring your Father – rather than protecting yourself.” -Lisa Bevere, from the Girls with Swords Fencing Manual

The best way to choose your response with an intent of honoring God instead of fearing the enemy is to prepare for the attack and be ready for whatever will happen.  To be ready, we must put on the proper armor so that we will have the protection that God provides us.

“He who does not know the evils of war will not reap advantage thereby. He who is skillful in war does not make a second levy, does not load his supply wagon thrice.”  Sun Tzu, The Art of War

If you don’t spend your time preparing, then the enemy will have an advantage over you and you won’t have enough “supply” -strength, knowledge, and will- to fight back.  On the other hand, if you prepare for war and grow skillful with the provisions that God gives you through Scriptures, then the enemy cannot surprise you with an attack that you didn’t expect.

Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us six articles of protection that we should wear in our fights against Satan.  We should never be found without them, unprepared.  Our enemy is always on the prowl (1 Peter 5:8), and will pounce the moment we set our armor aside for a moment of rest.

Heroes may feel afraid of something, but they trust in their power, whether its the power of their sword, or their own [superhuman] abilities, or something else. In [Christians’] case, God is our power.  -quote from Kat’s fencing manual

God is permitted to do what he wants with me, because I have no idea who I am anymore. I mean, if my ideas have to “be scrapped” before God can place me in his own, then let it be so, because my plans are void almost like a money check when it’s VOID. So Lord, I permit you. -quote from Lacy’s fencing manual

 

Micro-Dimensional

I received an Omax MD8210 for my birthday last week: a digital compound binocular LED microscope.  I had a microscope on my wish list, but I expected for the good models to typically fall into the price range of $1,800 to $3,000, so I didn’t expect for such an expensive birthday gift.  This particular model is very cheap, but it’s very high powered and works wonderfully.  It took me a day or two to learn how to use it, because it’s got 5 different little knobs to focus with and it’s got a wet lens that needs immersion oil.  Considering I didn’t receive a user manual for it, it was a bit of a challenge to figure it out, but I looked online and found the manual on manuallib.com (a library of user manuals).

Viewing microbiology: it’s like entering another dimension.  Yesterday Lacy and I went outside, and we were looking for specimen to view under the microscope.  Fspidersor the first time, she was thinking very small.  She saw a spider on its web; it was just a little bigger than the tip of a ballpoint pen.  “What are you going to catch, little guy?”  She asked it.  “You’re tinier than anything else that would get stuck in your web. Are you going to eat something three times your size?”  Only later did we discover just how many tiny bugs that were smaller than the spider that set it’s trap on the cactus, waiting for its prey to fall into it’s web.  (Of course, that’s not taking away from the fact that the spider’s web really could ensnare something three times the spider’s size.)

Trust in God: Be Not Disappointed

My mother has an amazing green thumb, though she’s bound not to agree.  She always points out all the plants that she cannot grow, but to tell the truth, she makes our backyard a paradise for wildlife. With cardinals and mourning doves and house wrens and mockingbirds and hummingbirds and blue jays, butterflies and bugs of all kinds, Texas spiny lizards and small geckos and squirrels, time spent sitting in our back yard truly ministers to the spirit and soul.

Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think about these things.  Philippians 4:8 (WEB)

“Our Iris is blooming Kathryn.  You thought you could get out of it,  but you’ve got to go out and take a picture of it,” Mom teased after our worship was over. It’s all right, I thought to myself. Maybe I can get a picture of another sphinx moth to go along with my blog entry.  We had gone out yesterday to see a pretty yellow butterfly flitting around the yard, calling with a wave of its delicate wings for us to join it in the sun.  While we were out, we witnessed a big green caterpillar crawling along our swing bench that we were sitting on.  At first we thought it was a tomato hornworm, but upon further investigation we discovered that it was the waved sphinx caterpillar.  With that (and a prayer) on my mind, I was ready to go outside again today.

WavedSphinxCaterpillar

The sun was bright, the breeze was nice.  The shade of the ash tree cooled us from the spring heat of the sun.  Trigger (our Australian Kelpie) was chasing lizards under our lawn chairs, and today he actually caught one.  It was a Texas lizard, the type that we try to protect because Mom loves them so much. Luckily, Mom saw it immediately and she made Trigger drop the lizard.  It was unharmed.  I helped Mom hold Trig back and, after the shock wore off, the lizard quickly climbed up my pants leg and clutched on, knowing that I was a safe haven for it to hide while the angry dog tried to attack it. (Trig wasn’t really angry, he was just trying to protect his people from the lizard that he had found hiding under our chair.) After the lizard escaped, I calmed Trig down and Mom took him back inside.

Like what Mom and I were doing for the lizard in protecting it from Trig, God wants to protect us from the vicious dangers in our life.  He wants us to trust in Him and to cling onto Him, so that He can hold us in His arms and protect us from harm.

But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives. In the end, he will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25 (WEB)

While we were outside, I was looking for something amazing to take a picture of. The day was still and quiet, aside from the children playing next door.  As my gaze skimmed the yard, I drew my attention to the roof of our house, to a spot where the shingles are missing.  We’re getting our roof replaced this week, so I was using my telescopic lens on my camera to get a good look at the damage to the roof.  I gave Lacy the camera so that she could see the spots on the roof too, and when she looked into the lens, I suddenly caught a glimpse of something  big buzzing around the roses.  “Oh quick! Give it to me!” Lacy immediately handed me the camera, but it was too late. The small creature had finished its business at the roses and flown on past the house.  From the distance that I was at, it looked like a hummingbird, but bigger and bulkier; it must have been a sphinx moth making a quick stop at the flowers in our yard before moving on.  It was the very moment I came outside for, but I had missed it.

Roof-worries

The message God gave me at that moment was loud and clear. When we decide to focus on the worries of life, we miss the beautiful moments that God tries to bless us with. Lacy and I were focused on the roof of the house- something that is completely out of our hands.  We could do nothing about the missing shingles or the rains that we’ve been getting lately.  All we could do was trust that God will protect us from harm and wait for the roofers to do their job, scheduled later this week.  But because I had decided to think about my worries and God’s concerns, I missed a moment that God had given for me to enjoy.

Who knows if I could have gotten a picture of the sphinx moth before it flew away. I was disappointed that I had missed the chance to try, but Lacy reassured me later that we’ll have more chances in the future.  The sphinx moth is usually seen in May to July, so no worries.  Maybe next time.

God heard my prayer of repentance, and although he didn’t send the moth back around, he answered another prayer of mine instead; I had wished for a chance to take a picture of the dragonflies and damselflies that we have in our back yard. That taught me another lesson: With a missed opportunity, God will always open a new door.

damselfly

Hear my cry, God. Listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth, I will call to you when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been a refuge for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will dwell in your tent forever. I will take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Selah. Psalm 61:1-4 (WEB)

Deal or Bad Deal

“I have an idea for a music game board. Can you help me make it?” The request came from an award-winning songwriter, and we were aspiring video game creators.  “We’ll split the profit 50/50.” We agreed.  We would turn his idea into a working game.  In turn he would sell the game to schools and libraries- he had a network of educators and songwriters worth a million.

6 years later, unfortunate events sent us into separate ways, leaving us to create our own networks, sell our own games, and make our own way.  But we were ok, because we were confident that we had found a good deal with The Game Crafter.

Now, 4 years beyond our parting, we finally admit to ourselves: a game with a $40 retail value being sold for $70 dollars is not a good deal.  $30 overpriced: some may overlook $10, or maybe even $15 over if the game is impressive enough. But $30 is too much to ask anyone for.  A game with a price tag above $50 needs to have bells and whistles to be worth all the money: ornate and involved, original pieces and amazing little details that The Game Crafter doesn’t offer.

We thought about selling the game at Amazon. We could make use of their warehouses, buy in bulk, and save the high retail price by selling the game directly to keep the prices low.  But for all the work that we put into the game, selling the game at $40 just to get $3.67 doesn’t feel like a very good deal.  Once split between us, that’s just about $1.80 per game that’s sold.  That won’t support Autumn Angel Art as individuals, much less Bookworm Games as a business.  And that doesn’t even count the cost -no matter how low- of using Amazon’s facilities to store our products in their warehouses and take advantage of their “Amazon fulfilled” marketplace sales.

We thought about using Kickstarter, but ultimately we’re story writers and game creators.  We produce entertainment for people to enjoy.  Kickstarter needs more than just a product, it needs exposure and extra attention to draw potential customers to it and it needs incentive that will hook the viewers and make them want to spend their money.  We need financing for advertising and we need other products for the incentives.

We also thought about downsizing to another project to produce on The Game Crafter, to sell it and make some money so that we can invest in another manufacturer.  But after a lot of work, the truth dawned: our downscaled product would face the same challenges as the larger product. (It also discouraged us to find that our ‘downsized’ product would cost more than our original project would have; we had worked VERY hard on making the first game as cheap as we could possibly get it.)

The truth is, if we want to make an impressive game that’s worth it’s cost, we cannot produce it with The Game Crafter.  There is no “shortcut” to selling a good card game.  It seems we’ll have to take the long road: do our research, choose the best game manufacturer, and save the money we need to publish any game that we make.