The Baptist Church

“So much confusion exists today because of division that the honest seeker after truth finds himself in the maze of uncertainty.” (Quote from Churches of Today, by L.G. Tomlinson.)

I find myself here, in the maze of uncertainty, as I emerge from researching the beliefs of the Baptist church.  Fortunately for me, I believe Galatians 2:17-21 as it reads “If we are those who desire to be saved from our sins through our union with the Anointed One, does that mean our Messiah promotes our sins if we still acknowledge that we are sinners? How absurd! For if I start over and reconstruct the old religious system that I have torn down with the message of grace, I will appear to be one who turns his back on the truth.  But because the Messiah lives in me, I’ve now died to the law’s dominion over me so that I can live for God.  My old identity has been co-crucified with Messiah and no longer lives; for the nails of his cross crucified me with him. And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One lives his life through me-we live in union as one!  My new life is empowered by the faith of the Son of God who loves me so much that he gave himself for me, and dispenses his life into mine!  So that is why I don’t view God’s grace as something minor or peripheral.  For if keeping the law could release God’s righteousness to us, the Anointed One would have died for nothing.” (TPT)

Baptists allow for every person to have their own interpretation of the Bible, so everyone will have a differing slant to their belief in salvation and grace and what God requires, but typically they will follow a statement of convictions which summarizes their beliefs, known as “The Baptist Faith and Message”.  The differences and similarities are all seen when a general search is done on the Internet.  One example is that some Baptist readings state that The Lord’s Supper should be taken quarterly or yearly, but some Baptists online also argue the case that it should be observed every week.

Looking at the websites of some Baptist churches all around the world, it can be seen that they are very direct in what they believe.  They are all very organized.   They know what they believe, and they list it out for visitors to see.


God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit

Baptists believe that God is the one true God, the creator of the universe, and that he shows himself through the Holy Trinity: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Furthermore, Jesus, the Son of God, was born of a virgin, he lived a sinless life, he died on a cross and then was resurrected 3 days later, and that His blood washes away the sins of humanity. Now, Jesus sits at the right hand of his Father, God, and acts as a mediator, an intercessor.  We are allowed a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and don’t need the priests of the old law any longer because as believers in Christ, we have received the Holy Spirit who fills us and makes us holy temples of God.

This is true, as you can see in the following scriptures.

God the Father

"...being one body and one spirit, as you were all called into the same glorious hope of divine destiny.  For the Lord God is one, and so are we, for we share in one faith, one baptism, and one Father.  And He is the perfect Father who leads us all, works through us all, and lives in us all!"   Ephesians 4:4-6 (TPT)
"So Jesus said, 'I speak to you timeless truth. The Son is not able to do anything from himself or through my own initiative.  I only do the works that I see the Father doing, for the Son does the same works as his Father.  Because the Father loves his Son so much, he always reveals to me everything that he is about to do. And you will all be amazed when he shows me even greater works than what you've seen so far! For just like the Father has power to raise the dead, the Son will raise the dead and give life to whomever he wants.  The Father now judges no one, for he has given all the authority to judge to the Son... I speak to you an eternal truth: if you embrace my message and believe in the One who sent me, you will never face condemnation, for in me, you have already passed from the realm of death into the realm of eternal life!  ...For the Father has given the Son the power to impart life, even as the Father imparts life.  The Father has transferred to the Son the authority to judge, because he is the Son of Man."  John 5: 19-22, 24, 26-27 (TPT)

Jesus the Son

 "Throughout our history God has spoken to our ancestors by his prophets in many different ways.  The revelation he gave them was only a fragment at a time, building one truth upon another.  But to us living in these last days, God now speaks to us openly in the language of a Son, the appointed Heir of everything, for through him God created the panorama of all things and all time.  The Son is the dazzling radiance of God's splendor, the exact expression of God's true nature - his mirror image!  He holds the universe together and expands it by the mighty power of his spoken word.  He accomplished for us the complete cleansing of sins, and then took his seat on the highest throne at the right hand of the majestic One.  He is infinitely greater than angels, for he inherited a rank and a Name far greater than theirs.  For God has never said to any angel what he said to Jesus: "You are my favored Son, today I have fathered you." And this: "I will be the Father to him, and he will be the Son to me."  Hebrews 1:1-5 (TPT)
"He longs for everyone to embrace his life and return to the full knowledge of the truth.  For God is one, and there is one Mediator between God and the sons of men - the true man, Jesus, the Anointed One.  He gave himself as ransom-payment for everyone.  Now is the proper time for God to give the world this witness." 1 Timothy 2:4-6 (TPT)

Holy Spirit

"But when the Spirit of Christ empowers your life, you are not dominated by the flesh but by the Spirit.  And if you are not joined to the Spirit of the Anointed One, you are not of him.  Now Christ lives his life in you! And even though your body may be dead because of the effects of sin, his life-giving Spirit imparts life to you because you are fully accepted by God.  Yes, God raised Jesus to life! And since God's Spirit of Resurrection lives in you, he will also raise your dying body to life by the same Spirit that breathes life into you!"  Romans 8:9-11 (TPT)
"We carry this confidence in our hearts because of our union with Christ before God. Yet we don't see ourselves as capable enough to do anything in our own strength, for our true competence flows from God's empowering presence.  He alone makes us adequate ministers who are focused on an entirely new covenant.  Our ministry is not based on the letter of the law but through the power of the Spirit.  The letter of the law kills, but the Spirit pours out life." 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 (TPT)

God-Inspired Truth

Baptists believe that the Bible is the absolute truth, and it must be obeyed.  They do not rely on creeds or doctrines to tell them how to act, and they believe that any doctrine written by man can – even subconsciously – replace the laws of God.

"Every Scripture has been written by the Holy Spirit, the breath of God. It will empower you by its instruction and correction, giving you the strength to take the right direction and lead you deeper into the path of godliness." 2 Timothy 3:16 (TPT)
"For we have the living Word of God, which is full of energy, and it pierces more sharply than a two-edged sword.  It will even penetrate to the very core of our being where soul and spirit, bone and marrow meet!  It interprets and reveals the true thoughts and secret motives of our hearts.  There is not one person who can hide their thoughts from God, for nothing that we do remains a secret, and nothing created is concealed, but everything is exposed and defenseless before his eyes, to whom we must render an account."  Hebrews 4:12-13 (TPT)

The two ordinances- Believer’s Baptism and The Lord’s Supper

Baptists believe there are 2 things ordained by God: baptism and the Lord’s supper.  To the modern Baptist, it is a sin for a believer in Christ to not be baptized or partake of the Lord’s supper. They are symbols of a believer’s faith: Baptism symbolizes the believer’s death to sin in comparison to Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection; The Lord’s Supper is a memorial to Christ’s death, and also symbolizes the believer’s anticipation to His coming again.

Baptism

To a Baptist, baptism is the step into a membership with the church community. To become a member of the church and receive the privileges given to the community of believers, a person must be baptized into the church.

"Peter replied, 'Repent and return to God, and each one of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus, the Anointed One, to have your sins removed.  Then you may take hold of the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For God's promise of the Holy Spirit is for you and your families, for those yet to be born and for everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.' ... Those who believed the word that day numbered three thousand.  They were all baptized and added to the church." Acts 2:38-39, 41 (TPT)

Lord’s Supper

Baptists also believe in the importance of memorializing Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross with the Lord’s Supper. You can read in Galatians 3:21-25 the importance of Jesus’s death. “Since that’s true, should we consider the written law to be contrary to the promise of new life?  How absurd!  Truly, if there was a law that we could keep which would give us new life, then our salvation would have come by law-keeping.  But the Scriptures make it clear that since we were all under the power of sin, we needed Jesus!  And he is the Savior who brings the promise to those who believe. So until the revelation of faith for salvation was released, the law was a jailer, holding us as prisoners under lock and key until the “faith,” which was destined to be revealed, would set us free.  The law becomes a gateway to lead us to the Messiah so that we would be saved by faith.  But when faith comes the law is no longer in force, since we have already entered into life.”  (TPT)

"Those who believed the word that day numbered three thousand.  They were all baptized and added to the church.  Every believer was faithfully devoted to following the teachings of the apostles.  Their hearts were mutually linked to one another, sharing communion and coming together regularly for prayer. " Acts 2:41-42 (TPT)

Stewardship

Baptists believe that because God’s grace is undeserved, believers in Christ should recognize their duty to share the gospel with the world.  They must serve God in the form of living sacrifices, by serving others in brotherly love.

"And as a spiritual father to you, I will gladly spend all that I have and all that I am for you!  If I love you more, will you respond by loving me less?"  2 Corinthians 12:15 (TPT)
"All the believers were in fellowship as one body, and they shared with one another whatever they had.  Out of generosity they even sold their assets to distribute the proceeds to those who were in need among them.  Daily they met together in the temple courts and in one another's homes to celebrate communion.  They shared meals together with joyful hearts and tender humility.  They were continually filled with praises to God, enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were coming to life."  Acts 2:44-47 (TPT)

Separation between the church and civil governments:

Baptists believe that the government which the church is under should offer religious freedom and protection to the believers, but that in return, the members of the church should respect and obey the laws that the government puts into place.  The government should not be in subjection to the church.  With that said, the government should keep in place certain morals in accordance with God’s laws.  (For example, laws against murdering.)  Believers in the nation’s government should always, through prayer, seek peace with other nations.  They should never push their religion off onto the people who they care for but allow freedom in their country. Baptists believe in Hell.  Believers will not fall from God’s grace, but one can see a believer’s true faith through his stewardship.

"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah is God's spiritual child and has been fathered by God himself. And everyone who loves Father God loves his children as well. This is how we can be sure that we love the children of God: by having a passionate love for God and by obedience to his commands." 1 John 5:1-2 (TPT)
"'Show me one of the Roman coins.' So they brought him a silver coin used to pay the tax.  'Now, tell me, whose head is on this coin and whose inscription is stamped on it?'


'Ceasar's,' they replied.

Jesus said, 'Precisely, for the coin bears the image of the emperor Caesar. Well, then, you should pay the emperor what is due to the emperor. But because you bear the image of God, give back to God all that belongs to him.'"  Matthew 22:19-21 (TPT)

Pastors and Deacons

Baptists believe that men are placed over the church to advise the members.  These men must match the standards expressed in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9.  Once a believer becomes a pastor, he earns the privilege to admonish the church and lead it into God’s grace.  Deacons are civil servants, serving the members of the church with God’s guidance through the Bible.

"For those who serve in this way will obtain an honorable reputation for themselves and a greater right to speak boldly in the faith that comes from the anointing of Jesus!"  1 Timothy 3:13 (TPT)

As a Christian based after the Church of Christ, I don’t agree with everything that I read from the Baptist websites.  Many of them spoke truths; they all have the right intentions: to live under the forgiveness granted to us by our faith and obedience in Jesus Christ, spoken of in the Bible.                                                                                                                                             

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Heartland: If all TV was this good, I’d watch TV.

My mother is a true Texan cowgirl at heart.  If she had gotten her childhood dream-come-true, then I would probably have grown up on a Texas ranch, enjoying the open hills and tending to horses as my daily chores.  Mom loved horses that much.  (She still does.)

Instead my father was a part of the Air Force and so our family moved all over the world.  Mom followed him wherever he moved to, taking care of us kids as best as she knew how.  She was content with her life, but it came as no surprise when I learned a few years ago that her favorite show on Netflix was Heartland. She wanted to share her favorite show with Lacy and me.

Heartland is a Canadian show based after the book series with the same name, which I have never read.  Mom’s right: it’s great. And lately, it’s gotten even better.  Keep in mind that Netflix keeps us 2 seasons behind so we just finished season 9, but I’m very impressed.  It’s a wholesome, clean family show with a great cast.  Amber Marshall, Shaun Johnston, Chris Potter, Graham Wardle, and Michelle Morgan, along with one of my favorites in the cast Jessica Steen, make the show a heartwarming inspiration.

Heartland has always been enjoyable, but since the introduction of Alisha Newton, who plays Lou and Peter’s adopted daughter Georgie, the show has become my favorite.   Alisha plays her part well, making the social issues and family insecurities of an orphaned foster child very realistic.  My favorite characters used to be Lou and Peter, but the past season has moved Georgie into my favorite, along with Amy and Ty, whose relationship I have grown to like very much, recently.

*Major spoiler ahead*

The only complaint that I have with the show comes from a pet peeve that I have.  As a child, I had the perfect example of what a self-sacrificing, family-loving woman should be.  My mother gave up everything to be married and take the role of being a good wife and mother.  I am not saying that the homemaker’s life is for all women; what I am saying is that my mother chose to live the life that she believed God wanted from her, and that my life -as her child- was blessed greatly by that choice she made.

And so having parents that have been married for 40 years now, it breaks my heart to see the choices that the show has Lou and Peter make “in the best interest of their children”. The divorce was an injustice: not only for Lou who loved Peter when she discovered his girlfriend in Vancouver; or for Peter when he rediscovered his love for Lou after she had already moved on; but also for Georgie, who had already faced the loss of both parents as well as abandonment issues from her life in foster care.  How can her adopted father and mother’s separation and divorce be in her best interest after they had just gotten her over her separation and abandonment issues? (That’s not even getting into little Katie, who will now have to live with a broken home. It’s a tragedy when a child’s parents lose their love for each other.)

Unfortunately, divorce is a very rampant reality in our world today: the lie that a person has the right to do whatever makes them feel good, despite the hurt feelings that may occur to all the people around them. It makes me truly sad. :(

All in all though, Heartland is a wonderful story.  It’s hard to find a show that’s got true family moral values.  But to quote my mom: “Television shows now-days always feel like they have to have a villain that you need to hate; but in Heartland, all of the characters are just normal people with normal everyday family and life issues.”  And since every show I choose to watch always has my favorite character go rogue and turn evil, I really couldn’t have said it better myself.

Girls With Swords, Final Week

This week, we’re discussing Chapter 9, Sword of Harvest, of Girls With Swords.  The contents of the pages honestly alarmed me: author Bevere compared Christianity, and the Word of God, to a machete, which is a sword known to be versatile and effective, yet easy to carry and wield. I was alarmed because, at the very beginning of the book, I was lead to believe we would have sympathy throughout our study, for those stuck in situations like human trafficking, sexual abuse, violence, and domestic abuse, and so I found the sword/faith comparison this time a little disturbing, a bit frightening.

To compare our power as Christians to that of a machete, in modern days, is harsh and uncouth. This type of sword may have originally been a North American invention (as author Bevere states), and it may be used for numerous things such as cutting vines, gathering crops, and altering territory, but right now, it is only seen as a tool for murder, at least in the news. I extend a bit of grace to the author for the fact the book’s copyright dates back to 2013, so perhaps she wrote it without modern news in mind. But even that’s not an excuse. Here’s a story from 2008, about churchgoers in Kenya being literally slaughtered by a violent mob who held machetes (click here to read it), which was a story that came before she copyrighted the book. She writes her book for an international audience; then she must write for a broader view than her own!

To strengthen my argument, I took a quick moment on Google to search the term “machete”. At first you can see stores that sell them, the movie from IMDB titled “Machete”, among an assortment of things. But go to “News”, and all you see is violence, killing, and attempts to chase, threaten, and harm one another with the sword. I understand reading the Bible can even be harsh sometimes, and there are times when addressing war and weapons are acceptable, but considering the audience she boasts about having at the beginning of the book, I would think she’d consider their lives, stories, and traumatic experiences. I read a story, about a year ago, in a newsletter I get, where a woman talked about raiders who were Muslim came to her Christian village and horrifically slayed the villagers with the weapon, and she couldn’t get the image out of her mind, the image of her attacker holding the machete. How would she feel after reading Chapter 9? I don’t know, but I thought the book was meant to heal people like these, not remind them of their horrors, even making them feel like they need to hold the sword and wield it, like some sort of revenge or surrender.

Therefore, the uncouthness of the book leads me to say, I can no longer study the book, seeing as I feel betrayed for the sake of the audience (I thought) we both want to reach out to. I started with hope that insight would come; instead, as the book progresses, it gets repetitive (same message about good vs. evil repeated chapter after chapter), it gets shallow and gimmicky, which she herself condemns. Bevere also does interpret the Word and doesn’t teach it deeply; she simply uses it to further her message, which can be misleading.

After all, I’ll even confess. A hint of remorse is in my heart now, when I think of my earlier video activities, where I compared our lives to that of the samurai, or the musketeer, and others – yes, I taught it that way to be excited and zealous for the journey, and help others understand a good message, but I ask myself now, when can comparisons go too far? Can they be used to enshroud the truth, rather than reveal it? I feel that’s true in Chapter 9, that she cannot be straightforward and won’t tell us in more detail what we need to know, for right living, and for being God’s girls.

So after 9 weeks, I am frustrated and disappointed at Girls With Swords. Kat backed me up by saying, “Face it, it’s not the book I thought it would be.” Our study has not been worthless, but I would like to move on to something else now and conclude the study. Thank you so much for being interested, and let me know if you have questions or requests.

A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Proverbs 17:22

 

Girls with Swords, Week 8

(All of the following Scripture is taken from the New International Version Holy Bible.)

God is love.

“Do not those who plot evil go astray?  But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.” (Proverbs 14:22) ~ “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Proverbs 3:3) ~ “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” (Proverbs 10:12) ~ Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) ~ “Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.” (Proverbs 21:21) ~

God Loves you.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so,  but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:1-8) ~ “Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” (James 2:5) ~ “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12) ~

Love all people.

“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39) ~ “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is a fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10) ~ “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48) ~ “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all that I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3) ~

 

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.” (James 2:8)

 

Lisa Bevere’s workbook, the Fencing Manual, made the statement: “For far too long the Word has been interpreted rather than proclaimed.” Then it asked the question: “What is the difference?” Lacy’s written reply was,
“Interpreting Scripture is when someone tries to grasp its meaning, with bias that overcomes willingness, and so the Scripture is read with the bias as absolute truth, rather than God’s word and meaning.  Contrastingly, proclaiming is when Scripture is read in context, read cover to cover, and shared.” -quote from Lacy’s fencing manual

“The language of God is LOVE.  That needs no words at all.  Wouldn’t it be something if the church just… stopped talking for a change and just… ACTED on love, instead of speaking?” -quote from Kat’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

 

Girls With Swords, Week 1

Let’s be sparring partners! Do say, will a friendly duel work for you?

I say that because I bought this book, Girls With Swords by Lisa Bevere, and I’ve read only Chapter 1, but already it’s very effective, with its contemporary perspective of the ancient battle we Christians face, both in our daily lives and on a global spectrum. I want to study with you for the next 14 weeks, because there are 14 chapters in the book, and we will take 1 chapter a week. Of course, I’ll recommend you buy and study it alongside me, with a hard copy of your own, and especially buy its counterpart, Fencing Manual, if you like to write your thoughts down in a journal and learn more about yourself. You can discover your personal vulnerabilities, what areas you need improvement in, and how you should train harder.

I share my evaluation of Chapter 1 in a video. It’s a bit long, but I go over 3 points made by Ms. Bevere, in case you can’t buy the book, I lay it all out for you.

My second video is meant to be shared on social media. It’s engaging in a bit of sword-talk: which type of sword would you wield in battle? Describing five types of swords, I spur you on to think characterization! What kind of warrior will you be for God?

The 3 main points Lisa Bevere makes in Chapter 1, You Are a Target, is:

1. Satan is trying to distract you from who God has made you to be.

2. You need to equip yourself to withstand his hostile schemes.

3. Universal gendercide causes a startling death rate among 21st century women, primarily because of the imbalance brought on by mass abortions (boys are favored therefore the number of girls are decreasing) but also because women are dying in many tragic ways: kidnapping, mistreatment, and human trafficking to name some.

“This is God’s battle. I’m one of His prayer warriors. I’m ready to go where He needs me, pray for who needs Him, and take whatever action He created me for. I stand ready to work for God.” -quote from Kat’s Fencing Manual

“…I would be words, poignant and true; I’d be actions, loving and empathetic; I’d be a thrust forward  when the enemy is open for conviction, and a defensive block when the enemy strikes, so God’s plan is made complete.” -quote from Lacy’s Fencing Manual

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” Ephesians 4:25 (ESV)

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.

Zazzle: Forgive but don’t Forget

 

Our new follower on Twitter, @ZacKent96, tweeted a saying I like: “Forgiveness doesn’t mean you excuse the crime. It just means you’re no longer willing to be the victim.” I agree with it, in part, regarding my “job” as Zazzle designer, and believe I should cautiously apply it, if I see Zazzle improves their business.

On January 6th  I wrote the entry Zazzle is Smudgey Business. Not too much has changed on the Zazzle website since then, and I have not added new products, seeing that my attitude continues to be miffed and leery. However, after Kat and I made the difficult decision to lower our prices, by lowering all royalty rates to 5% store-wide, I’ve been watching the status of my catalog to see if the number of sales would grow. They have, actually.

It could be anything from US economy growth, to how Zazzle is shifting, to the choice we made in lowering prices.

I know the daily views my products get have about tripled, ever since the DOW hit the 20 mark, so maybe business is looking more positive this year, and shoppers are ready, with their wallets, to browse and buy.

Not only that. According to Northern Nevada Business Weekly (NNBW), Zazzle is moving their business from California to Nevada this year, not only because manufacturing is a hard business in the state of California, but also because the college, small town appeal of Reno in Nevada attracted the executives. (Read the full report here.) Chances are Zazzle is making a promising shift, too, one that will result in more sales and hopefully lower overall prices, giving designers the ability to either higher their royalty percentage or at least gain more because the number of sales are more.

All in all, Autumn Angel Art has sold 4 products this year without advertising or promoting our products. So that means our sales came from either 3rd party promotion, Zazzle ads, or shoppers browsing the Zazzle marketplace, in other words, not generated by our own efforts. The combined total that customers paid was about $87 (subject to variance due to foreign currency conversion), and our royalty earnings were $4.40. This seems very small and impossible to make a living from. The question that remains is, if a designer labored to create a catalog of 40,000 products, would he/she be able to eventually make a living, or would something go awry? With our AutumnAngelArt store having 432 products and a meager average of 18 sales per year, can we continue to make more products and expect our sales to go up, or is the entire business a gamble?

As a result of such doubt, we shall not place our future in the hands of Zazzle, even though we enjoy creating products. Yes, it’s a very relaxing and enjoyable trade. But even though we forgive we shall not forget, nor shall we allow ourselves to become the victims of fraudulent dealings. I willingly strive for the ability to do-it-myself or else find a better way to advance my trade. In the meantime, mercy is appropriate. Because manufacturers all across the United States have been failing, and the economy is only this year looking up for everyone, it may be that a little grace is all Zazzle needs to succeed, and they will in return show compassion to their designers, rather than getting unfairly rich from artists’ hearts and souls.

 

Kaleido Blast! 2.0

Hello again. I told you before that I would be comparing the original Kaleido Blast! game to the new one. Well, I’ve gotten a chance to see the new game, and I must say chap, it’s an improvement to the last one.  Here’s a video that shows off just a few of the changes.

I was watching a friend of mine play the game, and it’s a quite different game than it was before.  It’s got safe zones where you can’t get hit; danger zones in which you must defeat the enemies before they defeat you; the shields are different, and the meteors are new. The rules have been placed into a 3 page booklet, instead of the 8 pages that it had before. I do believe the game has stepped up its… game.  I’ve added a few pictures to help you see the differences.

The game is not only different, it’s difficult too. My friend played it many times in one afternoon, battling the arx and trying to win the game.  Her score… I’m sure you’re curious. She won 1 out of 5 times. So as you can imagine, the game is very hard!

After losing for so many times, she decided to give the Kaleido Ray a try. The rules boast that the game will be easier if you initiate the Kaleido Ray at the beginning of the game.  But my friend, bless her heart, she only won 1 out of 5 times again!  Either luck is not her ally or the odds of winning the game don’t change much, from one difficulty level to the next.

The final game she played, she had one Blu-arx left in row I. It was a final showdown, a dual to the end.  She could either roll a color blast and vanquish the arx, or she could roll a black and white blast and be sent back to hyperspace herself. It was such a close game, so exciting! She rolled a red, a green, a yellow and a purple or two before she rolled a blue; unfortunately the hit was against her own pawn. She lost the game!

Can you feel the Holy Spirit?

I received, as a Christmas gift, a series of devotional books by author Robert Strand titled Nine Fruits of the Spirit. Nine books in all, each one is a small 5.75″ x 5.75″ book, hardback, being a little more than 50 pages in length. In order for me to appreciate my gift to the fullest, I’ll be writing about the fruits of the Spirit for the next 9 weeks, allowing one blog post for each fruit: love (Greek: agape), joy (chara), peace (eirene), patience (makrothumia) kindness (chrestotes), goodness (agathos), faithfulness (pistos), gentleness (praotes), and self-control (enkrateia).

It’s in Galatians 5 that Paul explains to us about the fruits, that there is no law against them, and he contrasts them to a list of (as I call it) rotten fruits of the flesh. Here are the rotten fruits:

  “…sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV)

But with the fruits of the Spirit, there is no law:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Galatians 5:22-26 (NIV)

How, then, should we go throughout life without discussing these important characteristics in length? If there is no law against them, which there’s not, that means we can talk about them and talk more about them, and dwell on them, and never get in trouble doing so! Not just that, but we should dwell on them, so that we can prevent ourselves from acting on the rotten fruits. It’s so easy to fall victim to the lies of sin and think they’re our “blankets” when in reality they are nothing but a lead to nowhere, except death and vanity, because the fruits of God are forever, while sin is temporary and decaying.

“Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
    they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
    in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
    their righteousness endures forever;
    their horn will be lifted high in honor.

The wicked will see and be vexed,
    they will gnash their teeth and waste away;
    the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.”

Psalm 112:6-10 (NIV)

Before we begin the studies, I made a trivia quiz on Playbuzz to give your skills a test. How well can you feel the Holy Spirit? Do you know how to act according to God and what He wants so deeply for your life? Take the quiz to find out how you “rank” in spiritual quality. (It’s just for fun.)

If you get answers wrong on the test, however, remember not to worry, because God does not require from us perfection. We have Jesus to cover our sins and make us perfect in His blood, and we are all different and perceive the fruits uniquely, but the Bible is clear on what we need to do to be godly. Always get counsel from the Word for wisdom and understanding.

Footnote: Feature image is not owned by Autumn Angel Art. It was found on Public Domain Pictures.