Thursday, April 26, 2012

Point of View - Part II

Writers' Corner
Welcome to Writers’ Corner. Thank you for the great response to last week’s point of view post. Due to that response and questions posed, I’ve decided to address point of view again before moving on to another subject.

To recap, three basic points of view exist: first person, third person, and omniscient. Select one POV and stick with it. You can access the archives for an in-depth look at each.

Within these, the writer must choose a character point of view (POV) to drive the scene. If you want to change character POV, move on to another scene. Take a look at this example from last week. I’ve inserted an error. See if you can spot it.
“Have some juice.” John extended the orange juice pitcher.
Brenda didn’t want juice. In fact, she didn’t want to be sharing a table with someone who had betrayed her. Besides, she hated orange juice. And he knew it. Probably the reason he offered it. “No, thank you.”
John thumped the pitcher on the table, sloshing the juice over the top. Heat spread through his chest like wildfire when he thought about the times he’d tried to please her without success.
“Now you’ve done it.” Brenda reached for a dishtowel. “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times.”
“You’ve told me what?” John scowled over his forkful of eggs.
“Clumsy.” Brenda returned his scowl and reached for her fork. If she tried hard enough to ignore him, maybe he’d take the hint and disappear. For good.
We established last week that this scene is told from Brenda’s POV. However, the way I’ve rewritten it, Brenda is also a mind reader. Let’s take a look at the third paragraph.
John thumped the pitcher on the table, sloshing the juice over the top. Heat spread through his chest like wildfire when he thought about the times he’d tried to please her without success.
Brenda couldn’t have known the highlighted portion about John. I head-hopped into John’s thoughts, which detracts from the scene. Instead, I should have ended Brenda’s thoughts and wrote another scene, if I wanted to share John’s thoughts with my reader.

Here’s an example:
John gulped his oatmeal. The lumpy mixture went down like a pallet of rocks. Didn’t this woman know how to cook anything else? He glanced at her chomping through her toast and oatmeal like a bulldozer. Wouldn’t do to ask for a bowl of cereal instead.
“Got plans for today?” Her eyes bored through him like a woodpecker on a fresh branch.
“The usual.” John didn’t want to spoil his surprise. He’d asked Cindy Martin to help him pick out an anniversary present. If Brenda only knew how much he cared—maybe it would change things between them.
“The usual? Does that include another date with Cindy Martin?”
The oatmeal lodged somewhere deep in his esophagus, sending a dull, throbbing ache through his chest. A date? This woman was nuts!
Though very basic, hopefully, the preceding scenes have helped illustrate the differences between the characters’ POV.
Obviously, scenes are much longer than this. You won’t write a dozen little scenes within a chapter. Two or three long scenes are plenty. Make sure the main character gets the most scene time since it’s his/her story.

If you have any other questions about POV, please feel free to leave a comment. Also, I’d love to hear any suggestions for future writing topics.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Rejoice In Hope

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words.” Emily Dickinson

Emily’s quote paints a beautiful image of a seemingly supernatural abstraction we all long for and find impossible to live without.

Hope is mentioned throughout the Bible, often coupled with other positive words.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

Hope isn’t born in a vacuum, unaffected by outside influences. It’s a journey through life’s trials.

“And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:2a-5.

Despair does not defeat God’s supernatural hope which strengthens and edifies our souls. Hope whispers to us that tomorrow will be better, our problems have solutions, and healing can take place.

What is troubling you today? I want to assure you of the miraculous hope God can instill in your soul. All you have to do is believe.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.

I’d love to add you to my prayer list. I encourage you to leave a request in the comments below, even anonymously, so others can pray for you. Feel free to email me, if you’d like your request to stay confidential. Remember to lift up the people who come to mind from past requests. If you have a praise report, please share those, as well.

As we take our petitions and intercessions to the Lord, take a moment to sing His praises with Avalon's Testify to Love. God bless you.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Quiet Rejuvenation

"Grace and peace to you from God our Father."~ Apostle Paul

Unlike many folks, I look forward to Monday morning. It’s a time for me to recenter my spirit on the ministry God has called me to do. Weekends can be a bit hectic, so it’s vital I rejuvenate in order to do His work.

Rejuvenation is multi-faceted. I draw on God’s grace, peace, and strength—but I also rely on the support and encouragement of other Christians.

I don’t take it lightly when someone sends me a card or tells me they’re praying for me. That support is greatly appreciated.

I love to sit in a quiet place and read Scripture. This morning, the Apostle Paul ministered to my heart and provided the path to rejuvenation.

Paul’s letters to the early church begin with the above greeting.


His own life was overwhelming at times, as evidenced by his prayer for God to remove his “thorn in the flesh.” We’ve all got thorns, right? Whether they’re situations, difficult people, or health problems, the only thing that sees us through is God’s grace and peace.

Paul knew the importance of God’s grace and peace to keep the Christian centered.

I’m encouraged by Paul’s statements which reflect his dedication to Christians’ perseverance. His burden and call went beyond his missionary treks and letters to the early Christians. I believe he was forward-thinking enough to realize, either intuitively or by divine leading, his message would be carried to future Christian generations.

Paul’s letters point to his vision of looking beyond the temporal to eternity, thus drawing on God’s strength when our own is depleted.

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Colossians 1:9
Just as Jesus prayed for future believers, to some extent Paul did, too. This prayer was directed at the Colossians, but it was also meant for us.

Paul modeled ministering to fellow Christians, in addition to bringing lost souls to Christ.

Our growth as Christians, as well as the ability to carry one another’s burdens and support ministry work, happens through prayer support. Sure, financial support is important, and Paul speaks to this aspect in ministry, as well, but I’m most encouraged by his dogged determination to impact others through prayer. 

“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might…” Colossians 1:10-11a
In order to bear fruit and grow in the knowledge of Christ, believers must be strengthened with God’s power. Paul’s message reinforces that the only way to do this is through prayer, Bible study, and uplifting from fellow believers. 

“… so that you may have great endurance and patience and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:11b-14
What a great promise! I don’t know about you, but I need God’s power to give me strength, endurance, and patience in this fallen world. Through Jesus, I’m qualified to share in His inheritance.

God rescued His children from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. Rest in that place of perfect peace today.

Praise His Holy Name!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Point of View

This quote only loosely illustrates our subject today, but it struck me as funny, so I’m sharing it.

If you’re a fiction writer, you’ve heard the term POV. It’s an acronym for point of view, which is shown through a story’s characters. Three basic points of view exist within the context of a narrative.

  • First person – Story is told by the main character with words like I, me, and mine.
  • Third person – Story is told from the perspective of the main character driving the scene. Short stories are typically told from the main character’s POV. Novels often utilize more than one character’s POV, though never within the same scene. (More about that in a moment.)
  • Omniscient – Story is told from an all-knowing perspective. The author gives information the characters don’t know because events and/or their limited interaction with each other haven’t revealed the information yet. Sometimes authors slip into omniscient POV without intending to.

Here’s an omniscient example from Self-Editing for Fiction Writers:

“In small South Carolina towns, most houses are built in the shadow of tall trees. Each autumn, the children charged with the yard care curse the leaves that seem to multiply on their way to the ground…One such tree, a tall oak, stood in the front yard of the house Coral Blake rented from a man who had long ago moved his family north.”
Here’s the switch to third person from the same book:

“Coral Blaze mopped the gritty sweat out of her eyes and gazed up at the dusty green underside of the oak. The dog days of August had settled in, it seemed, and like most folks in Greeleyville, South Carolina, she took cover from the sun on her front porch under that grandfatherly tree. My, how she hated that tree in the autumn.”
The difference between the two scenes is stark. One is distant, omniscient. The other draws the reader into the story.

Recently, I read about a contemporary author whose latest book has mixed POV, meaning a switch between first and third person. I’ve not read the book, but it’s not the norm. It’s also not something you want to try as an unpublished author, or you’ll likely stay unpublished. Select your voice and stick with it.

However, the beauty and freedom of third person is you can change whose POV the reader will see. This must be done with scene changes.

When an author changes POV within a scene, that’s referred to as head-hopping, which is a no-no in the literary field. In the past, legendary writers like Larry McMurtry, author of the Lonesome Dove series, have utilized head-hopping and have done so effectively. Believe me, you and I are not in his league—yet. You might as well put a banner on the cover of your manuscript that says “newbie,” if you intend to try it to find out.

I used this scene in a previous post about tag lines. It also serves well to show POV.

“Have some juice.” John extended the orange juice pitcher.
Brenda didn’t want juice. In fact, she didn’t want to be sharing a table with someone who had betrayed her. Besides, she hated orange juice. And he knew it. Probably the reason he offered it. “No, thank you.”
John thumped the pitcher on the table, sloshing the juice over the top.
“Now you’ve done it.” Brenda reached for a dishtowel. “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times.”
“You’ve told me what?” John scowled over his forkful of eggs.
“Clumsy.” Brenda returned his scowl and picked up her fork. If she tried hard enough to ignore him, maybe he’d take the hint and disappear. For good.

The POV in this scene is obviously Brenda’s. As a writer, I can show John’s mood or nature without showing you his thoughts. I do this by his clumsiness, scowling, and apparent disregard for Brenda’s feelings. He doesn’t seem to have a clue as to what makes her tick. Yet, I’ve not revealed his thoughts. While we might assume John’s thoughts, he would be scene-stealing to interject them here. However, in another scene, I could switch POV, and we’d learn what he really thinks about Brenda.

A writer must guard against slipping into another character or omniscient POV. I mention the proofreading/revising stage of a manuscript almost weekly. This is another item to put on your checklist when proofreading.

If you have any questions or would like to comment about POV or another writing subject, please do so in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Be Still And Know I Am God

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10a

Have you ever been still? I mean really still. No cell phone, TV, or computer. No children running in and out. Complete and utter silence.

Imagine calmness filled only with your thoughts and God’s presence. If only we had the time, right?

Many things demand our time. And we give that time away and waste it freely, as though we have an endless supply. As Christians, we do—in eternity.

Meanwhile, here on the earth, if we’re to be effective disciples, we must spend time alone with God.

“…crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:15b-16.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35.

Many are unwilling to give God premium time—the time they’d rather be (or are committed to) doing something else.

So how much free time is enough?

“O Lamb of God, deliver me…”
From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings,
(Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified)
From all that dims Thy Calvary
O Lamb of God, deliver me.
~Amy Carmichael

I often take inventory when life’s demands and deadlines seem overwhelming. I don’t know about you, but Amy Carmichael’s words challenge me. What do I allow to dim His Calvary? Whatever I find that to be—it’s not more important than spending time alone with God.

Rearranging our schedules to have quiet time—be still and know time—with God, is necessary as Christians. It’s during this time that we replenish our spirits.

When God has my undivided attention, inspiration and rejuvenation takes place. What is God trying to whisper to your heart today in the midst of chaos?

As we spend time in prayer for those who visit this blog and leave prayer requests, I’d like to remind everyone of the requests we’ve had in the last few weeks:

·      Courtney, a young mother battling a brain tumor. She came through her gamma knife radiation surgery well, is continuing on chemotherapy, and will have another MRI to check progress next month. Please continue to pray for her healing and comfort.
·      Betty and Tony request prayer for his job situation. He is interviewing but so far has not secured a job. They’d like continued prayer in this area, as well as lifting up of their finances and morale at this time.
·      Tony’s cousin’s wife Karen is battling life-threatening leukemia. The family had been called in, the last I heard.
·       Piper’s request to stay focused on God during tough times.
·       Gail’s request for her health and time management.
·       Marta and Lorena for their families.
·       Confidential request (God knows the person and circumstance).

While you enjoy this song by Steven Curtis Chapman, “Be Still And Know,” challenge yourself to find some quiet time alone with God this week.

Please leave any prayer requests you have in the comments section or email me, if you'd like your request to remain confidential. May God bless you all!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Guiding Principles for the Christian Writer

And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” Habakkuk 2:2 (ESV)

When I first began writing, I didn’t have a clear vision of how to become published. I worked hard to hone my skills, and like most beginning writers, through trial and error, I learned what worked and what didn’t.

I’ve written for both secular and Christian publications, but my desire has always been to be an inspirational writer. Skill alone is not enough to be successful in this realm.

Several principles guide my work as a Christian writer. For brevity’s sake, I’ll discuss the three major ones.

1)      At the heart of every Christian writer’s career must be God Himself.
My spiritual gift is encouragement (Romans 12:8). Before I began writing, my reach didn’t extend beyond my friends and acquaintances. I’d yet to find the broader outlet for encouraging others God had intended.

Then God opened doors for me to share His message in ways I’d never dreamed. My audience is as big as He deems, on any given day, whether on Twitter, Facebook, blogging, or magazines in which my articles appear.

I never lose sight that my work represents Christ to fellow believers, as well as to the lost. Therefore, His message is at the center of everything I do.

Being a Christian writer is fulfilling but not without trials, which leads me to my next point.

2)      Attacks will come to thwart your God-given mission.
And yet, on a Christian writer’s worst days, often their best writing emerges. When I click “send” to submit an article or “publish post” to give you my latest blog musings, sometimes I think—This is my best, but it’s not good enough.

Then a remarkable thing happens. The article is accepted. The blog posting gets tremendous response. People are encouraged.


Because God’s message is getting through, despite the enemy’s attack on me.

Other Christian writers have shared similar struggles. On days when it feels like the well is dry, the words won’t cooperate on the computer screen, revisions must be made, and defeat is clawing at door, somehow we pull it out.


Because it’s God’s message.

Recently, a well-known Christian writer told me she struggled to finish her latest book by the deadline. She wrestled with the manuscript, rewrote, got on her knees, read Scripture, and still, as a seasoned writer, limped to the finish line. The book debuted at #18 on the CBA bestseller’s list and shot up from there.

At the heart of every Christian writer is God—but don’t forget someone’s working against you. Stay on your knees and in your Bible, because if you’re going to write for God, you’d better suit up!  

3)      Be willing to walk through walls.
“No matter what my situation, I have the assurance that if Jesus walked through walls, I can, too. Besides, I have to follow Him. I have nowhere else to turn. And neither do you.” Joni Eareckson Tada

When I read Joni’s words, I thought, Yes! That’s what God asks Christian writers to do. The world puts up walls, the enemy puts up walls, friends and family may inadvertently put up walls. With God’s guidance, we must walk through them to write His message.

Are you a Christian writer? I want to encourage you to follow His plan for your journey to publication. I can assure you it’s not an easy path, but it is a fulfilling one, if you keep God at the center. Put on your armor and walk through those walls!

Now, tell me what your most difficult hurdle in writing has been. If you have a suggestion for future blog subjects or have a question, please comment on that, as well.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Make Me Thy Fuel, Flame of God

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:19-20

Last week, Christians blogged, Facebooked, and tweeted Scripture, songs, poems, and thoughts on the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. On Easter morning, we reverently and enthusiastically worshipped, then hurried to family dinners, afternoon egg hunts, and of course—after-dinner naps.

Celebrating Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday is easy. As the sun set on Easter, I wondered where our hearts would be Monday morning in the wake of leftover ham, half-eaten candy baskets, and wrinkled church clothes tossed in the laundry.

Over two thousand years ago, on Easter Monday, Christ returned to work—His father’s work. He forgave Peter and then instructed him to “feed my sheep.” Among Jesus’ other activities was the Great Commission given to the eleven disciples.

We are His disciples now—with the Bible and Holy Spirit to instruct us.

"He makes His ministers a flame of fire. Am I ignitable? God deliver me from the dread asbestos of 'other things.' Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be aflame. But flame is transient, often short lived. Canst thou bear this, my soul-short life? Make me thy fuel, Flame of God." Jim Elliot (martyred missionary)

Celebrating Christ’s resurrection revitalized me, as I’m sure it did many Christians. Beyond that, it’s a reminder of my rebirth each time I enter into God’s presence. Yet, as I grow deeper in my spiritual journey, I’m cognizant of the necessary steps to stay aflame.

If my flame gets diminished during dark moments, when I feel less enthusiasm or challenged beyond my human abilities, saturation with the Spirit’s oil through Bible study and prayer is the only hope for my flame burning brightly beyond Christian celebrations.

As we go to the Lord in prayer this week for each other’s needs, consider the condition of your flame and how it impacts those around you.

Though I don’t pray scripted prayers often, this simple one written by Jim Elliot has resonated with me through the years. Perhaps it will with you, too.

"Lord, make me a crisis man. Let me not be a mile-post on a single road, but make me a fork that men must turn one way or another in facing Christ in me."

If you have a prayer need, I’ve love to hear from you. Please leave your requests in the comments section below. You may also comment anonymously, if you’d like, or email me confidential requests.

·    My request this week is for the Petters family in Anderson, SC, where I live. The mom was killed in a car accident in Anderson over Easter weekend, and the father is in Charleston receiving treatment for leukemia. Their two babies, ages 6 months and 2 years old, are in the care of their grandparents. Please pray for God’s comfort and provision for this family.
·    Our song this week is by Christian singer Aaron Shust. Aaron’s newborn son Michael has Down’s Syndrome. Michael will have major heart surgery sometime in the next few weeks, when he has gained enough weight to make the surgery safe, unless his condition dictates it happening sooner. Please keep this little guy and the Shust family in your prayers.
Take a few moments to enjoy “My Savior, My God” before going to the Lord in prayer.

 (The winner of the book giveaway last week is TC Avey, who left a comment on “How Do You Kill 11 Million People?” Thanks to everyone who left comments last week to be eligible for the drawing. Stay tuned for future book giveaways.)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sharpening Your Writing Skills

Words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

This is what we’re striving for, right? We yearn to be proficient writers, able to weave words into such beautiful masterpieces, that readers will demand more. Between the dream and reality is a lot of hard work!

Regardless of how far we progress as writers, there’s much to learn. The skill to manipulate words into sentences is only the first step. The characters and story must sizzle—become good or evil, depending on how successfully the writer breathes life into them. Some of this is talent, but to be published, one must also have sharpened skills.

We’ve discussed the necessity of possessing good writing books, as well as attending writing conferences. Along with networking opportunities, nothing educates or prepares you for publication better than attending a conference.

But, suppose you can’t afford the cost of a conference? Perhaps your family looks at your writing as a hobby. Justifying a hundred dollars or so even for a local weekend conference is difficult. I know because that’s what the first conference I attended cost.

The next best thing is to resource writers, further along in their career than you, who can give you the benefit of their knowledge, education, and hard knocks. If you’re willing to dedicate a couple hours a week to writing education, your work will become more polished. It won’t be long before you have your first published piece. If you’re already published, this will push you to the next level—perhaps even a book contract.

I mentioned Writing Fiction Right in last week’s Writers’ Corner. The archives are a treasure trove of writing information.

Camy Tang is among the top writing gurus in Christian fiction. Her story sensei website is chock full of writing tips, articles, and exercises to hone your skills. Exercise worksheets are available for purchase on subjects like deeper POV, writing a synopsis, and characterization. The prices range from $5 to $15 for these in-depth worksheets. (Believe me, they are in-depth. I purchased the synopsis worksheet two years ago.) Take a look at her blog for an extensive listing of free articles and worksheets.

American Christian Fiction Writers is a great organization to join. For $45 a year, members have access to critique groups, free monthly writing workshops, and archived lessons. Members include published and unpublished writers, agents, and editors. ACFW has recently launched a new monthly magazine filled with writing industry news, which is free with membership.

Many more writing websites exist, but resourcing the three I’ve mentioned will keep you busy for quite a while.

Now more than ever before, a writer with access to the Internet has a gold mine of free or low-cost information at their fingertips to improve their craft.

Challenge yourself to set a goal of at least one hour a week in education. When your family sees your first published article, maybe they’ll understand your determination for a successful writing career. Attending your first writing conference might be the next step.

If you have a writing question you'd like answered or want to share a thought, please post it in the comment section below. I'd love to hear from you. If you'd like a free email subscription to this blog, take a moment to type your email address into the "subscribe" box in the upper right column.

I'm giving away a copy of "How Do You Kill 11 Million People?" by Andy Andrews. To be eligible for the drawing, simply leave a comment on one of my three blog posts this week. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Because He Lives

While they [the disciples] were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” Luke 24:37-39

So much had happened to Jesus’ disciples during the week before Good Friday. They were ripped from the traditional holy Passover observance and watched helplessly as their leader was crucified.

Perhaps their reaction was similar to my numb state in the aftermath of a loved one’s death and funeral. I walked around in a fog, mechanically performing necessary tasks, sometimes having difficulty just getting from one moment to another.

Jesus’ resurrection and reappearance to the disciples capped the three-plus years they’d been with Him. No doubt, their emotions ran the gamut from elation to wondering if their minds were playing tricks on them.

This is when Jesus is at His best—when we’re confused, alone, dazed, and unsure where to walk or what to do next. That’s when He says, “Peace be with you…It is I myself.” What a reassuring statement from our Savior!

·    In the midst of this Holy week, please pray for Christians suffering persecution around the world. Their work (and our work) carries Christ’s resurrection and hope to the lost.
·    Pray for the tornado survivors in Dallas, Texas, as they deal with the disaster’s aftermath.
·    Please add your prayer requests in the comments section below so we can all join in prayer for you. Leave your requests anonymously, if you wish, or if you have a confidential request, please email me.
When you feel troubled or full of doubts, remember Christ’s comforting words: “Peace be with you.”

Enjoy this song Because He Lives, as we go to the Lord in prayer.

Monday, April 2, 2012

How Do You Kill 11 Million People?

“We knew the time the train was coming and when we heard the whistle blow we began singing hymns. By the time the train came past our church, we were singing at the top of our voices. If we heard the screams, we sang more loudly and soon we heard them no more. Years have passed and no one talks about it now, but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep.” (How Do You Kill 11 Million People?)

Obviously, this title alludes to the Jews killed during World War II. Although much genocide has occurred throughout human history, some with even higher casualties, the Holocaust draws certain connotations in our minds.

Two weeks ago, I read a blog review of “How Do You Kill 11 Million People?” by Andy Andrews. Moved by the review and the premise behind the book, I left a comment to this effect. Despite the stack of unread books on my shelf, I intended to buy that book, sooner rather than later. And it would go to the top of the stack. A few days later, I received an email from the blog owner saying I had won the weekly blog giveaway.

My prize? You guessed it. The book has 80 pages, and I read it in less than an hour. A simple concept doesn’t have to be wrapped in a lengthy expose. It definitely lived up to my expectations.

Among the insight the author gives, he challenges the reader with the following:
·    "Why do the ages of our world’s greatest civilizations average around two hundred years?
·    Why do these civilizations all seem to follow the same identifiable sequence—from bondage to  spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, and finally from dependence back into bondage?
·    The United States is the longest tenured government in the world."
So how do atrocities in history correlate to life in the 21st century? Are we doomed to repeat past mistakes by not learning from them? Certain mileposts would indicate so.

When my daughter was little, she loved to say it was opposite day when I tried to get her to do something she didn’t want to do. We’ve slowly come to accept certain things in this country that are opposite to our belief system, while at the same time embracing the inane.

You only have to look at our current social issues to draw the correlation between fallen civilizations and our current way of life.

Three thousand babies are murdered legally each day in the United States. We look the other way when stories surface like the one about Pepsi testing new products on aborted fetal cells. The revelation barely registered a blip on the media’s radar.

Yet we’re outraged when Starbucks’ use of dye obtained from crushed bugs surfaces. I mean, that’s really something to get upset about. Right?

Compare the current political, social, and economic situation in the U.S. to a party on a frozen lake in rising temperatures. The party-goers are caught up in the revelry; they don’t hear the subtle cracking sound of ice melting. The cracking continues until it’s too late—the ice is separating under their feet.

The ice is cracking all around us, folks. We only have to look at history to see moral decline precedes economic decline when civilizations collapse. A solution exists, and we’re all part of it. Hope for our future begins with each individual putting down their drinks and walking off the ice before it’s too late.

So how do you kill 11 million people?

The answer is way simpler than you could imagine, and it’s key to our hope as a nation. I’m not one to give away the major premise of a book, so you’ll have to read the book to discover it. To make that a little easier, I’m going to pay forward a copy of the book. To be eligible to win a copy, leave a comment on one of my three blog posts this week. I will randomly select the winner next weekend.

I’ll leave you with one final thought from the book, a quote of President James Garfield from his centennial address to Congress in 1876:

“Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature.” Then he added, “If [one hundred years from now] the next centennial does not find us a great nation…it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.”