Now Will Be

Being a grammar-nut of sorts, when I really noticed the grammar in John 12:31, I had to reread it. I’ll share why in just a minute. First, let me give a touch of set-up for the verse.

It’s the week of Passover. Jesus will be crucified this weekend. And His soul is troubled because of the pain. But He is determined to fulfill His purpose. So He prays aloud, “Father, glorify Your name.”

Then a voice comes from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”

While the onlookers wonder exactly what’s going on, Jesus explains for them.

Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.

Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples unto Myself.”

-John 12:30-32 (emphasis mine)

“Now” implies right at this time. “Will be” indicates at a future time. Yet Jesus says the ruler of this world will be cast out now. When?

When He is lifted up from the earth.

Typically, you hear that phrase “lifted up” referring to praising Jesus. And I suppose that applies. But it is not what Jesus was talking about.

Jesus referred to His crucifixion. Even the people who heard Him knew that. They asked (I paraphrase), “What do you mean, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? The law says the Christ will live forever. Who are you talking about?”

So Jesus’ crucifixion is the “now.” At Jesus’ crucifixion was the judgment of the world, and at Jesus’ crucifixion the ruler of this world will be cast out.

See the contradiction of time? I find it fascinating. Here’s what I think it means.

The ruler of this world is already defeated.

Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in [the cross].

-Colossians 2:15 (NKJV)

At the cross, Jesus overcame the power Satan had held since Adam and Eve sinned. On the records, Satan is listed “defeated.”

But the official casting-out ceremony is yet to be.

In Revelation 20:10, we read how, at the very end of the battle, the devil is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. (Isn’t it fun to read the end of the Book?) For now, he roams the earth “like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (see 1 Peter 5:8)

Satan still exerts power, yes. It is foolish to discount his schemes and his strength. But it is also wise to remember that much of his power lies in his skill to deceive.

Jesus is the Truth. (see John 14:6) And He promises that the Truth will set us free. (see John 8:32) Free from sin. Free from shame. Free from Satan.

Doesn’t mean there won’t be a long battle–maybe a grueling, crushing, desperate battle. But victory is eventually guaranteed if you press closer to Jesus without backing down, without wavering toward the world, without losing heart. Because the foe is already defeated.

Live now for what will be.

-Miss Darcy

P.S. Maybe I’m reading more into the wording than is there. Bear with me. I love to explore the richness of words.

Book-Making

It has recently come to my attention that this is supposed to be a writer’s blog, yet I rarely talk about either writing or books. I’m thinking I want to change that. Not that I’ll quit writing my other posts about the Bible and Christian life. I’m far too opinionated to give that up. *smile*

But today I’m going to talk about my work-in-progress (or WIP in writer’s jargon).

It started almost seven years ago in 2010 when I got to thinking about the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale and how it might look without magic. One day in August, I took pencil to notebook paper in every spare minute between doing my schoolwork. In two days, I had ten college-ruled pages full of cursive handwriting. I called it “The Kingdom of Light.”

That was the framework. I typed it up and worked on it, polishing it and expanding it for several years. When I started writing seriously in 2013, I set “The Kingdom of Light” aside in favor of another story. But last spring, I got the urge to work on it again. I had learned so much about writing, and I wanted to apply all my new knowledge to this little story that I loved so much. (Even if it was in terrible shape. ‘Tis a good thing that original story will never see a printing press.)

I loved the characters, and I started thinking about what happened to them after the story. How many children would Prince Phillip and Princess Aurora have? What would they be like? How would their parents’ strange past affect them?

That’s how I met Dierk, eldest son of Phillip and Aurora. It has been almost a year since I started working on his story. I wove the original “Kingdom of Light” story into Dierk’s journey, and I changed the title to Prince of Sunland. The book grew.

Yesterday, I completed my revisions. The word count is over 85,000 words. Today I got the manuscript printed and spiral-bound so I can see it on paper.

I’m more than a little excited.

I’ve never finished a project of that length before. I actually have a two-hundred-page novel that goes from beginning to end, following a reasonable coherent path. In some ways, I feel this book is nothing new. “There is nothing new under the sun,” you know. But I still love it.

Of course, this is just one milestone on the path to publication. But I believe in celebrating milestones (I’m making homemade ice cream tonight for the occasion).

And if you’re wondering what’s next for Prince of Sunland: well, I’m sending it through my critique group. Then I’ll do another round of revisions based on my critique partners’ feedback.

Then I’ll hire a professional editor because I dare not trust my own brain alone to make this book the best it can be. I’m a tiny bit scared to see how long it will take me to put the book back together after the editor’s done.

Then I’ll have the book formatted, and I’ll hire someone to design the cover.

And then, Lord-willing, I’ll publish it myself. Because it looks like I’ll be an independent author. My books probably won’t be available in bookstores, just online. I’ll publish an ebook and a print version. My head spins just thinking about all that.

But I’m excited because I love this story, and right now, the dream seems possible. Not easy, mind you. But possible, if it’s what the Lord wants.

Already I have two sequels percolating in my head. Hopefully they won’t take eight years to come to life!

I still have much to learn. But it’s a good journey. Thanks for following with me.

-Miss Darcy

Doubt and Facts

Sometimes I doubt my salvation. It is not a nice feeling. It’s a sick, wretched feeling.

My head knows I’m saved. Deep in my heart, I know I’m saved. But sometimes the devil fills my heart with fear, and I don’t feel saved.

Thank the Lord my salvation doesn’t depend on feelings. It is based on facts.

Fact 1: all humans sin.

Ever since Adam and Eve sinned, opening the worst “Pandora’s Box” you ever heard of, all humans have been born with a nature that wants to sin. Just ask anyone who’s raised children, or even worked with them a significant amount. No one has to teach a child to bite, hit, kick, or selfishly hoard his toys. He does it because that is his nature.

But if you’re looking for a checklist of sins, here’s a simple one based on the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20):

  • Lying, even “white lies.”
  • Disrespecting your parents.
  • Desiring what isn’t your own.
  • Stealing.
  • Murder, and hatred counts as murder in God’s standards (see 1 John 3:15).
  • Failing to love, honor, and serve God above all other persons or things.

Fact 2: God is holy.

He is so holy we can’t really comprehend it. His very nature is righteousness and justice, so our sinfulness repels Him.

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!”

-Isaiah 6:3 (NKJV)

But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.

-Isaiah 64:6 (NKJV)

Fact 3: God loves sinners anyway.

“For God so loved the world…”

-from John 3:16 (NKJV)

But God demonstrates His own love toward us…

-from Romans 5:8 (NKJV)

A holy God who loves sinners. That’s a painful position. God can’t just gloss over sin and ignore it forever. His holiness will not allow it. Yet He loves us wicked people.

So He did the unthinkable.

Fact 4: Jesus died for sinners.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God and therefore part of God, wrapped Himself in human flesh and came to earth. He lived on this planet as a Man, surrounded by sin, even tempted by sin, yet never sinning (see Hebrews 4:15). He was innocent.

If an innocent person takes the punishment of a guilty person, justice is satisfied and the guilty person can go free.

Jesus died at the hands of the rulers of His time on earth. The Romans executed Him by crucifixion, one of the most agonizing deaths known to mankind. But Jesus had done nothing wrong. And He was the Son of God: He could have easily escaped. It wasn’t really the Roman soldiers who killed Jesus.

Jesus gave Himself as a sacrifice to appease a holy God who cannot abide sin. The Lord God laid all the sin of the world on Jesus Christ, and punished Jesus for sin He never committed.

So that we sinners could go free.

who Himself [Jesus Christ] bore our sins in His own body on the tree,

-1 Peter 2:24a

Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood [Jesus] entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

-Hebrews 9:12 (emphasis mine)

Jesus Christ bore our sins–our sins–in His own body on the cross, and with His own blood obtained eternal redemption. He saved us forever.

Fact 5: Jesus rose again from the dead after three days in the tomb.

This fact sets Jesus apart from every other “holy man” who has walked on earth. This fact proves that Jesus is who He says He is. It proves He has the power to deliver us from sin.

This fact means that Jesus has conquered death, the ultimate consequence of sin. It’s so important that the Bible says:

And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!

-1Corinthians 15:17 (NKJV)

Fact 6: through faith, we obtain the salvation Jesus offers.

This gift of forgiveness of sin does not automatically apply to every person, just because Jesus died. You have to place your faith in Jesus. You can’t do anything else to save yourself.

What does that mean, “place your faith in Jesus”?

It means to acknowledge you are sinful and cannot clean yourself. To believe Jesus’ sacrifice, and that alone, pays for your sin. To accept in your heart Jesus’ death and resurrection on your behalf, and to turn your life over to Him through gratitude.

After all, if you acknowledge that your sin put Jesus on the cross, surely you will no longer want to engage in it.

Jesus’ sacrifice alone can save us. When we accept it by faith.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

-Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)

“Not of works.” If you’ve read much on my weblog, you know I talk often about how a Christian should live. How we are to shun the world and follow Christ. How we are to hate sin and pursue righteous living.

Which brings me to my seventh fact.

Fact 7: good works can never save us.

Nothing we do is capable of saving us. Nothing.

Faith alone saves us. So what do the good works have to do with anything?

Take the story of a woman in the Bible who believed Jesus could heal her. She told herself, “If I just touch the hem of His garment, I will be made well.”

She believed that with all her heart. But until she actually touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, she was still sick. The moment she reached out and touched, she was made well. (see Luke 8:43-48)

And Jesus told her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well.”

Contradiction? No. Until her faith moved her to action, it was useless.

Until our faith in Jesus’ sacrifice moves us to action, it is useless. Until our belief in Jesus leads us to turn our backs on this world and our sinful desires, to throw ourselves on Christ’s grace and commit to serving Him, our so-called faith is not true faith at all.

True faith is all-consuming.

And when you surrender to Jesus because of His sacrifice on your behalf, that’s what Christians call “getting saved.”

I didn’t have a dramatic salvation experience. Nor was it exactly a neat, concise prayer as happens to many. (You can read my full testimony here.)

But I have placed my faith in Jesus Christ.

His sacrifice alone can save me. Not my good behavior or “being perfect.” I rely on His mercy every day, and through His strength I strive to obey Him. Because I love Him, oh, so much. He deserves to own every bit of me.

I hear sermons where the preacher warns against sitting in the church, sometimes for years, pretending to be or even thinking you are a Christian. I’m not criticizing their preaching–they speak the truth. But the devil will use anything, even a good sermon if he can. And he does. Almost every time. Sometimes he’s more successful than others.

Praise God my salvation doesn’t depend on my feelings. It depends on Christ’s blood. When the devil torments me with the suggestion that maybe I’m not really saved after all, I can point to the cross and say, “Yes, I am saved because Jesus makes me clean!”

Friend, if you’re not saved, I hope this makes it clear how you can get saved. There is no shame in coming to Jesus. None!

Congratulations if you read this far!

-Miss Darcy

Life Is Too Short to Be…

A few days ago, I ran across one of those sweet, “inspirational,” slightly sappy Facebook sayings that bug me for multiple reasons.

But, to spare you, I’ll focus on the main reason. At first it seems like a nice little message about avoiding negative people and investing in friendships that uplift you. Then it ends with–

Life is too short to be anything but happy.

Oh, really? You mean my personal happiness is the most important thing in the world? Let’s take this to its logical conclusion: If life is too short to be anything but happy, then my happiness is my first priority no matter who I have to crush to make myself happy.

No.

No, my happiness is not supposed to be my first priority. Jesus didn’t come to live on this inglorious planet among sinful people, and then die a ruthless, brutal death for those selfsame sinners, just so I could be happy on this earth.

Jesus came to give us much more. Blessings more rich, more lasting, more powerful than a mere feeling of happiness.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

-Ephesians 2:4-6 (emphasis mine)

We were dead because of our sins. Dead men walking, bound for hell. But Christ came to wash away our sin and set us free to live and sit together with Him in the heavenly places. That’s an awesome gift.

When you turn your life over to Jesus, He promises never to leave you. He offers peace, strength, and joy (not the same as happiness). But He also promises trials, pain, heartache.

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

-2 Timothy 3:12 (NKJV)

All you have to do is desire to follow Jesus and you’ll suffer persecution. Imagine what happens if you actually succeed!

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

-John 16:33 (emphasis mine)

Jesus never promised that lovely feeling of happiness. In fact, He promised the opposite.

But it is worth it to live for Jesus.

To serve Him on this earth. To speak with God unashamed. To rest in knowing our physical death will take us to Paradise. To have the comfort only our Creator can give when this life crushes us.

I guess those trite little “you need to be happy” mottoes frustrate me because they’re cheap. They cheapen the powerful grace of God. Yes, my life has been full of wonderful happiness, interspersed with very real pain. But who can tell whether the pain did not do me good?

God does give us happiness. But the truest joy, which transcends happiness, is found in knowing you are doing right, knowing you are completely at peace with your Creator. Watch out for sweet-sounding messages.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

-Colossians 2:8 (NKJV)

Life is too short to be anything but fully–and I meant utterly, nothing-held-back–surrendered to Jesus Christ, our Savior.

HE IS ALIVE! May that truth inspire you anew this Resurrection Sunday!

-Miss Darcy

Awesome Creatures, Awesome God

I’m not really a “horse person,” if you know what I mean, but I love to see a fast horse run. Or a graceful horse dance in dressage. Even in our day, when humans no longer rely on the horse as in past centuries, we’re still fascinated with them.

To watch a horse race all-out inspires awe.

Raw power, speed, and tenacity, with fluid rhythm and natural grace. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help standing in wonder.

I think the reason horses hold such fascination for humans is simple. They really are magnificent. Even God thinks so. Here is what the Creator says of this member of His creation:

Have  you given the horse strength? Have you clothed his neck with thunder?

Can you frighten him like a locust? His majestic snorting strikes terror.

He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength; he gallops into the clash of arms.

He mocks at fear, and is not frightened; nor does he turn back from the sword.

The quiver rattles against him, the glittering spear and javelin.

He devours the distance with fierceness and rage; nor does he come to a halt because the trumpet has sounded.

At the blast of the trumpet he says, ‘Aha!’ He smells the battle from afar, the thunder of captains and shouting.

-Job 39:19-25 (NKJV)

I read this and think, So that’s why I love to see a horse tear down the racetrack or perform an exquisite routine. Because the Lord made this animal amazing.

I love the last four chapters of the book of Job, when the Lord finally speaks and sets everyone straight as to Who has the authority. And why.

There’s no question about God’s authority when you consider His creation.

We can’t make a teensy little thing from absolute nothingness. But God made the stars; the snow; the horse; and (my favorite) Leviathan.

We meet Leviathan in chapter 41, and he’s such a cool creature I can’t help talking about him. He’s a water-monster, who is sometimes assumed to be a crocodile.

Friends, this ain’t no crocodile.

Leviathan laughs at javelins. Iron and bronze? He thinks they’re straw and rotten wood. Dare to harpoon him? You’ll never try such a battle again. He has a mouth full of terrible teeth. His heart is as hard as stone.

“His undersides are like sharp potsherds; he spreads pointed marks in the mire.” This beast has pointed scales all over him, even his undersides. You will recall that crocodiles have smooth bellies.

Ever wondered where the legends of fire-breathing dragons came from? “His sneezes flash forth light… Smoke goes out of his nostrils… His breath kindles coals, and a flame goes out of his mouth.”

The Lord says, “I will not keep silent about his limbs, his mighty power, or his graceful proportions.” The Lord is almost boasting of His Creation–and who has a better right to do so?

Of Leviathan, this awesome creature, God says,

No one is so fierce that he would dare stir him up. Who then is able to stand against Me?

Who has preceded Me, that I should pay him? Everything under heaven is mine.

-Job 41:10-11 (NKJV)

Friends, it is right that we should marvel at the awesome wonders God created in this world. And then bend our hearts to worship, not the creatures, but their infinitely more mighty Creator.

-Miss Darcy

P. S. By the way, I really hope God has Leviathans in heaven. I want to meet one of these creatures! (But not on earth, of course, even if Leviathan hadn’t gone extinct.)

The Land Is Filled with Blood

Our land is full of beauty,
of mountains, prairies, lakes;
dazzling grandeur and humbler beauties,
each lovely and beloved.
But the land
is marred
by blood.

We boast of education
for all,
no matter who they are,
or where they’re from,
or what they own.
We boast of equal opportunity,
a chance to mold your life
as you will choose.
But still flows silently,
ignored, or accepted,
a stream of innocent blood.

Beautiful homes, beautiful cars,
well-maintained roads,
electronics by tons,
clean water,
much food,
good shelter and warmth…
By other land’s standards
our poor are rich.
But our land
is filled
with blood.

We do not worship Molech,
burning our children
to death on his altars.
We revere education,
travel,
careers,
wealth,
convenience,
fame,
power; therefore,
we fill our land
with blood.

In unpretentious buildings
tiny humans die,
slain, defenseless,
unable to cry out.
And yet no legal crime is done.
No court will bind
the murderer.
No law will stop
this wrong.
How can we boast of greatness
in this land?
when mass murder is lawful,
provided those who die
are yet unborn.
Shame blackens our land.
Yet we do not weep,
Though the land
is filled
with innocent
blood.

-Miss Darcy

Unsheathing the Sword

Last time I wrote, I talked about the Sword of Truth, God’s word. Today I’m going to share four ways that I unsheath that Sword in my own life. I’m no expert, mind you, but these methods bless me.

When I use them. That’s the catch. I have to actually do it. And, short-sighted human that I am, I neglect them. So I’m preaching to myself today.

Daily Practice

If you don’t draw the Sword every day, you can’t expect to get comfortable and skillful with it. So, every day, open the Bible and dig. I like to read a chapter and see which verse or which concept impresses me most. Some days I have to look harder than others. Then I write down the verse, as well as my thoughts on it.

Somehow writing it out makes my thoughts clearer in my head. This also gives me something to read later and think, “Oh, yeah, it was so neat when the Lord showed me that!”

Some days I do Bible study “homework” for the Bible class I’m part of at my church. I have a workbook that gives Scripture passages to read, followed by questions and meditations about the passage. The important thing is to actually have a decent helping of Scripture in there. Devotions that give one verse and a little meditation are fine, but they’re not unsheathing your Sword; they are notes on Sword-technique, so to speak.

Sometimes on Sundays, I only unsheath my Sword at the two church services. I’m not sure if that is perfectly sound practice, but it sometimes happens that way.

Quote It

If you can stop a wrong thought or motive in your mind before it comes out, you’re fighting well. So memorize some verses to divert your mind when it starts wandering down the wrong trails.

Do I always do this? No. But when I remember to wield the Sword this way, it is very effective.

Read for Recreation

You know those times when you haven’t read the Bible yet today, but you’re so tired you think you couldn’t possibly get anything out of Bible study? Or you just feel “down” and you don’t want to read the Bible? Just read it. Not to mine some deep theological truth you’ve never found before. But because there is nothing more wholesome you could read.

Flip to one of the stories you liked as a kid: Jonah, David, Creation, Joseph, The Five Loaves, The Resurrection. Read because the stories are interesting.

Read because the words are beautiful. Try the Psalms or even Job, or one of the prophets. Read for the vivid imagery. If no one’s around, read aloud with expression, to discover the power in the words.

Sometimes, when you’d normally watch TV or thumb through a magazine or surf social media, pick up your Bible and just read. Try a random place you haven’t visited in a while. Or a favorite passage.

Why? It’s like mindlessly hearing a song over and over: you eventually memorize most of the words. If you read the Truth over and over, it washes through your mind, refreshes your soul, and makes a difference.

Pray It

If you don’t have the book, Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore, I highly recommend it. The principle is to find a Scripture verse that applies to your need, and pray it to the Lord. I’ve found this to be so effective personally that it astounds me. (And then, getting short-sighted again, I slack off and start losing ground I gained.)

And you may ask, “Why? That sounds a little odd.”

I don’t completely understand the power of this method. But I think it may be this: When I pray God’s Word, I know I am praying according to His will.

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

-1 John 5:14-15

When I pray God’s truth, I don’t waver around in my prayers. I pray with confidence and power. My favorite chapter in Beth Moore’s book is “Overcoming the Enemy.”

But you don’t have to get the book. I have some Scriptures that I’ve looked up to help me guard my mind for Christ. And when I remember to use them, I have much less defeat. Its effectiveness still amazes me.

The references are 2 Cor. 10:3-5, Rom. 12:2, Philippians 4:8, Psalm 51:10, and Psalm 55:22. I have them written on a piece of paper, and I might pray something like this:

Lord God, the weapons You have given me for warfare are not carnal but mighty in You, for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of You. I can bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

Lord, don’t let me be conformed to this world, but transform me by renewing my mind, that I may prove what is Your good and acceptable and perfect will.

Whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy, help me to meditate on these things.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

I’m casting my burden on You, LORD, knowing that You will sustain me. You shall never permit the righteous to be moved. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

In whatever area you want victory, I promise the Bible has verses for it.

(Disclaimer: I once heard a televangelist preaching that this method may be used for “financial victory” which sounded very much like “gaining wealth.” If you study the Bible enough, you’ll find the Christian life is way deeper than material security.)

So, do I use all these methods every day?

No. One of them every day? Usually.

See, I know all these wonderful techniques for my Sword, yet I don’t always use them. It’s hard to write about it when I don’t practice it perfectly. I don’t want to be a hypocrite. But I hope by putting it up here, I’ll challenge myself to faithfully use my Sword every day.

-Miss Darcy