King Justice of Fleetwing

And then there were four! Let’s meet the charming King Justice of Fleetwing House.

If you are curious as to why this king is in his pajamas, it is because his heart is set to bring the royals of Emily into the knowledge of Pippin and Brumbletide through his tireless work in hospitality and service. In Brumbletide, Justice takes it upon himself to make sure the Castle and its surroundings are inviting and captivating as well as magical. Justice knows the power of care and service and ensures that Brumbletide draws royals in through every one of the five senses. Of course, since the ancestors are alone in Brumbletide for now, Little Ipswich and Emily are unknowingly benefitting from all his hard work. The people of the Downtown Ipswich are entranced by the unique and delightful aroma of the ferry’s chimney smoke (the ferry is one of Justice’s first creations). Even at just the sight of the Castle’s ferry alone, one is filled with wonder. What’s inside the strange floating cottage? Inside, one tastes the magic of Brumbletide through perfect hot chocolate, bubblegin, gingerwheels, and the biscuit with a message, lucky nests; that’s just to name a few of Justice’s kitchen masterpieces served. What about touch? Everything from the fluffy linens of the ferry’s nooks, to the squashy armchairs of the towers, and the luxurious canopies of the dormitories are the work of the king of Hospitality and Service.

King Justice was the first ancestor chosen by Pippin to rule Brumbletide with him. The stone missing from his coronet is a glorious jasper, and his warmouth is a sparrow. Justice is king of the Fleetwing House of Emily Academy until Brumbletide is made known and he can rule them rightly. A student chosen for Fleetwing shows a compassionate nature and a servant’s heart. One could say without the Fleetwings, Brumbletide will never be made known.

Two large works of Justice’s are found in Brumbletide. Justice Tower where the classes of Hospitality and Subjects (not like school subjects, but like a king’s subjects) are taught. Justice Tower has many magical levels, all venues for perfecting the art of caring for your neighbor. The ferry is Justice’s other large work. The idea was inspired by Pippin when he told Justice that the journey to the kingdom should be unforgettable. Justice did not disappoint. The ferry is a miraculous boat that looks like a floating quaint cottage covered in snow with frosty portholes all around. The smoke from the chimney is scented like baking pastries. Inside are several cozy nooks where passengers nestle in around the magic fireplace and enjoy refreshments prepared just for them.

Hopefully, one day the people of Little Ipswich will experience the true and good ferry and Justice Tower of Brumbletide instead of the off-brands of Emily Castle. Until then, Justice is continuing on in his labor of love.

Do you belong to Fleetwing House? Find out if you are a Fleetwing Sparrow here!

Have yet to discover the magic of Brumbletide? Find it here!

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Queen Soleil of Whitescale

Come one, come all, to the third installment of our Brumbletide Ancestors series! Please give a warm welcome to Queen Soleil of Whitescale.

Queen Soleil is the spunky and vivacious queen of Science and Mathematics. She also happens to be the twin sister of the most evil man to have ever lived, King Michelle of Firebreather. Though we have much yet to learn about the history of these two which we will not go into in this blog post, the only characteristics Soleil shares with her brother are her spikey white hair and genius-level intelligence. The twins are equally bright and imaginative, but the difference between their hearts has meant the difference between literal life and death.

Queen Soleil has an exuberant disposition and loves each of her fellow royals in Brumbletide. Even so, she spends much of her time alone perfecting experiments and equations to one day bring to the people of Little Ipswich. But the royals of Emily Academy will have to settle for the off-brand projects done with Queen Mother Felberta (Queen Mother of Academics) until Soleil’s white onyx, stolen by her brother, is returned to her.

Soleil is head of House Whitescale and desperately desires to be their Queen Mother. Whitescales of Emily Academy know of their ancestor, Queen Soleil, but almost no one knows she is alive to this day. A royal student belonging to Whitescale shows promise in Science and Mathematics as well as good work ethic and working well in a team.

The Whitescale mascot is a great white dragon supposedly modeled after Soleil’s warmouth. But the massive severe dragon hanging in Emily’s Soleil Tower doesn’t at all resemble the small, lumpy friend of Fergus that lopes around Brumbletide. This jovial serpent’s name will be revealed in the seventh book—maybe before. Make sure to stay tuned!

Think you belong in Whitescale? Find out here!

Have yet to discover the magic of Brumbletide? Find it here!

King George of Champion

Hear ye, hear ye! Welcome to the second installment of the Brumbletide Ancestors series! Today, we spotlight King George of Champion House.

Our not-so-lucky Irishman, King George, resides in Brumbletide with his five fellow royals but has almost the complete opposite disposition of Queen Eve. George is not meek or kind, but blunt and stubborn. King of Hunting and Sport, George brings a warrior’s character to anything he does whether it be hunting wild game or jousting his opponent with a javelin. He has no patience for a weak will, and of all weak wills, he hates King Michelle’s the most.

Though he’s trapped in Brumbletide for the foreseeable future, George is King of Emily Castle’s Champion House. The stone that Maggie Prewitt is searching out to return to him is his magnificent yellow amber that fits perfectly into his simple golden crown.

King George’s warmouth is his trusty hound, Fergus, who we will meet in Brumbletide and the Triad Champion this November. If there was anyone that could soften this hardened king, it’s his friendly and loyal four-legged (and two-winged) pup.

Students who are loyal, truthful, brave, and good leaders are placed in Champion House at Emily Academy. Their strengths are developed in Hoplology taught by Queen Mother Berthilda in George Tower. George Tower is the Academy’s athletic department. But be warned, these “athletics” involve rowing Viking ships, crossbow training, and becoming experts of the sword.

Think you’re a Champion? Find out here!

Have yet to discover the magic of Brumbletide? Find it here!

Queen Eve of Ironsnout

As promised, here is the first of a new Brumble blog series. The results from the polls on my social media showed that a bunch of you would like to know more about the ancestors of Brumbletide. Let’s start with Maggie’s great grandmother (very many times over), Eve!

Queen Evelyn (Eve) resides in Brumbletide with five other ancestors chosen by Pippin to rule the kingdom. Of course, King Michelle was one of those chosen making for seven royals, but he chose to betray them all and create his own kingdom, Emily Castle, where he has been deceiving the people of Little Ipswich for seven hundred years. Michelle also stole his fellow ancestor’s stones that keep them immortal when they are outside of Brumbletide trapping them in the empty paradise until their stones are returned.

Queen Eve is the queen of Wisdom and the Ironsnout House of Emily. Her stone, stolen from her crown, is a blue lapiz lazuli which Maggie reaped the benefits of its power for a short time in Daughter of Eve.

Queen Eve has a kind and meek disposition and pours out love to those in her presence. This was just what the doctor ordered for young Maggie Prewitt who was desperate for maternal love. Maggie adores her relative and cherishes any and all time spent with her.

Queen Eve’s warmouth (magical flying creature) is Magnus the winged pig. We can see that Magnus has been thoroughly loved and pampered by his mistress because of his sunny and spunky personality. But don’t be fooled by this tiny, fun-loving pig. Magnus will protect both Eve and Maggie even if it means death.

Eve has yet to teach any of the students belonging to the Ironsnout House because they are currently still deceived by Michelle. But since the wicked king made Emily Castle almost an exact replica of Pippin’s kingdom (though without the true and good power of Brumbletide), students who display intellectualness, a desire for wisdom and understanding, and a good heart are placed in the house of Ironsnout. The class, Non-Common Sense, taught in Eve Tower in Emily Academy builds upon these strengths. Whereas the other six towers are extremely visually miraculous, Eve Tower appears plain and non-magical…until class begins, that is.

Think you identify with Queen Eve and might belong to Ironsout House? Take the quiz here!

Have yet to discover the magic? Find Brumbletide here!

Is This the End of All Things?

With, pestilence, famine, and war all happening in recent years, it has many Christians questioning again if the end of the world is near. Let’s talk about it.

First, let us remember that for millions, famine and pestilence, even war, are a constant. The end is always near for them.

But for those of us blessed enough not to live in perpetual tragedy, whenever there are wars or rumors of wars, our eyes shift North expecting the return of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

So is the end of all things near? It definitely could be the end of you. If World War III ensues and a nuclear bomb hits your area, the end has likely come for you. If the Coronavirus happens to mutate into an extremely deadly variant, you’ve most likely met your end if you contract it. If the rumored food shortages become severe enough to where there is nothing to eat, maybe then it would be the end of all your things.

But are the war in Ukraine and rumors of World War III, the Coronavirus, and food shortages (among the other things you are thinking of) signs of Jesus returning and the cosmic end of the world?

I argue the answer is no. Here’s why?

If you’ve my children’s novel, Brumbletide and the Daughter of Eve, you know Maggie is afraid of the end of the world throughout most of the story. This is because she has had a traditional narrative told to her that everyone believes is in Pippin’s Puzzle, the sacred book of the Castle. But later in the story, Maggie finds out that this narrative that has been told throughout the generations is, in fact, not what Pippin’s Puzzle actually says. There is a sinister reason for this in Brumbletide for the reader’s pleasure, but in real life, and this same thing has indeed happened in real life, I don’t think there is anything quite so nefarious going on.

If you are still looking into the sky every time the world acts like the world, one of a few things has occurred. You are either like the people of Little Ipswitch and haven’t read the sacred book, or you have been reading the Bible as if it was written to you and not for you. On top of these two things, there is also the tradition of expecting Christ to return in our lifetime. Every generation has thought it was them!

Here are some of the verses that are used to prophecy the end of the world:

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. Matthew 24:7

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. Matthew 24:6

There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. Luke 21:11

Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4

And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. Matthew 24:12

Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. Revelation 13:16-17But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 2 Timothy 3:1-5

There are many more verses that are used to point out the signs of the times but we do not need to list them all here. All we have to do is actually read them in context, or when we read them all again in context ask ourselves, “Who is the speaker speaking to?”

Again, the Bible was written for us, not to us.

Go back and read the Bible again, or read it for the first time, keeping this in mind. In Matthew 24, when Jesus is giving the Olivet Discourse, who is He speaking to? Us? No.

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3

Jesus is speaking to his disciples in Matthew 24. And what is he telling them? He is telling them that Jerusalem will be destroyed and the signs that they are to look for that will warn them to flee. This was going to be the end of their world. Everything they knew. The destruction of Jerusalem was going to be a judgement from God on those who would not accept that Jesus was the Messiah. There was a New Covenant now, and it was going out to the entire globe. The old was passing away, God’s former holy dwelling on earth, the Jerusalem temple, was passing away, and Christianity was going forth into the nations. Because of Jesus Christ, God would now dwell in the hearts of His Church.

So the “end” spoken of in Matthew 24, is the Destruction of Jerusalem that happened forty years later in AD 70.

Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Matthew 24:34

The “generation” Jesus is speaking about is the one right in front Him at the time.

At this point, you may be thinking, “Alright, that’s Matthew, but Revelation really tells about the end of the world!” To this, I say again, it doesn’t mean what you think it means. Gary Demar explains all of this much better than I do. I will direct you to a great talk of his on Revelation, but not until the end.

First, l must tell you the most important part of the Bible before you read it for yourself in the context of a unified story leading to Jesus.

Step out of your house or, God forbid, turn on the news. Anyone can see mankind’s attempt at righteous existence is not working. Our best efforts seem to always result in destruction. This is the same for mankind as a whole or as individuals. The reason for this is sin. As long as we are our natural sinful selves, things will go as they always have. We need a Savior. The Bible has two testaments, the Old and the New. Read the Old Testament, you will see why we are the way we are and your heart will cry out for salvation. Jesus is that salvation, and you will read about Him in the New Testament. In our natural state, we do not have peace with God. We are actually in rebellion against Him! But Christ, God’s Son, died on the cross taking the punishment that we deserve. Through Him we can have peace with God. With this comes the gift of eternal life in Heaven, but not only that. When Christ comes into our heart, we are made new day by day! This is a miracle for the here and now. Our situations may not change, but we become more and more loving, joyful, kind, good, peaceful, patient, gentle, faithful, and self-controlled (Galatians 5:22-23). Do you see? Not only does Christ save us from the bondage of sin, but He really is the hope of the world. The more of us who accept God’s grace and mercy given in Jesus Christ, the better this world will be.

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:2

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. Isaiah 9:2

Now, as promised, here is the link to find out what Revelation doesn’t say.

What Will Rise?

The other day someone sent me a DM on Twitter telling me that I needed to remove my books from the market promptly or I was going to Hell. He quoted Revelation 22:14-15.

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

I told him that I appreciated his concern but didn’t agree. He then said he would be blocking me on Twitter because I “refuse to repent.”

I don’t think this man is trying to be mean. I think he really thinks I’m going to Hell as long as my books are for sale. But he isn’t paying enough attention to verse 14, Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.

My robes have been washed by Jesus Christ. I am clean! By God’s grace through Jesus, I who belong outside the gates am welcomed in. Thank you, Lord!

How do I know I am saved? How do I know that I am not going to get to the gates and hear, “I’m sorry, you wrote magic into your books, so you aren’t welcome here.”?

For one, because I believe Jesus Christ died on the cross, taking the punishment that I deserve. I have been deeply grieved by my sin, repented, and am made new. My life looks completely different than it did before I was saved, and this is a work of God. You can watch my testimony here. I have one mission in life that fills my whole heart—to glorify God in all I do.

So why is magic in my books? How does that glorify God? There are also words like “damn” and “hell” on occasion. Why would they belong in there? I write books for kids, after all.

Long story extremely short, fiction is made-up. It isn’t about real events but can deeply affect your real life. Any sane human being, even middle grade children, can decipher when something is fantastical or not. For the majority, a child isn’t going to read a story with a witch in it and choose to become a witch in real life. But the ideas that a story plants will be carried on. There is a lot more going on with the ideas that are woven into any given story. Those you do need to pay close attention to. As for my story, Brumbletide, it is one of salvation and redemption. Before we are saved, we are messy, and I want to connect with the messy out there. I want them to see themselves in Maggie. This is for you, you reading this, just the way you are. And let the real magic happen from there.

As for the magic in Brumbletide, the man accusing me of witchcraft hasn’t actually read the books. You’ll have to read them for yourself and see if you agree with him. And yes, he thinks Lewis and Tolkien are going to Hell too. I asked.

But you should know something especially if you are worried about your child seeing the word “damn” or “hell” in a book they pick up. Most parents love when their child finally opts for a book instead of the television or electronic device. But if you are concerned with the far-left ideologies that seem to be blasting their way to our children from every angle of society, the bookstore is no safe haven. Traditional publishers have one narrative that they are publishing these days. I urge you to visit the website or social media of the publisher of your choice and see for yourself. Harper, Bloomsbury, Simon and Schuster, take your pick. They are all sending the same message. If you write a book that in any way distracts from this message, it simply will not be published traditionally. If you are upset with the things you see for children on TV and movies, “damn” and “hell” should be the least of your worries at your local school book fair. You may be thinking of some of your favorite books that do go against far-left ideologies. Those are from a different time—a different world. We no longer live there.

Newsflash: every author, every children’s author, has an agenda. The imagination is an extremely powerful thing. I love movies and walk away from many of them deeply touched or pondering the message for weeks afterward. But when you take away the visual, our minds are left to “fill in” the space and this is where the true magic happens. Without the restriction of a given visual, our minds find the most fantastic treasures! We create our own visuals and “What else?” and “What if?” over and over and over again until we have learned much more from the book than what was apparent at first glance. This is wonderful—and much more dangerous than a film. Yes, a good movie will touch us, motivate and inspire us even. But a good book spreads its leaven into every nook and cranny of the mind—the attention, the reason, the memory, the pleasure—and permeates quietly. And then it will rise.

The work of the fiction author is to create a story that will stimulate the imagination, spreading the desired leaven throughout the mind that will rise to maturity one day long after the reader puts down the book.

What leaven is being sown in your mind? In your child’s?

What will rise?

Hard Knocks

Below are my words from a recent online interview asking about the road to becoming an author.

I do give God all the glory for any success I’ve achieved. I was the worst student and a super rebellious teen. One morning in Homeroom, I made the incredibly unwise decision to both run away from home and drop out of school. I had to support myself somehow so I got a job working third shift at Waffle House. I’ve worked a lot of crazy places since but to this day Waffle House is still the craziest of them all. There was never any shortage of drama or danger working from nine at night until seven in the morning. My spoiled, naive, seventeen-year-old self loved to dive into both! Waffle House turned out to be my school of Hard Knocks and as hard as it was and as much as I complained through all six years, I’m glad to have experienced it. Waffle House taught me to work hard, how to deal with the public, and probably the most important lesson to date, how to use shame to my advantage.

After six years at Waffle House, I married my first husband. The marriage lasted five years and was very abusive. Shame is the word that comes to mind when I think of my teens and twenties. School was too much for me, my peers were too much for me, my family was too much for me, marriage was too much for me, and I also had a dark secret of bulimia I hid from the world that I’d been dealing with since I was fourteen. To me, to be an alcoholic or a drug addict was more acceptable in society than someone who couldn’t stop throwing up their food after they ate. But I couldn’t stop no matter how hard I tried. I didn’t know it back then, but the bulimia was a symptom of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that runs in my family. These disorders “flare up” with trauma, hormonal change, and just big life changes in general. This is why the bulimia only got worse and worse after dropping out of school, running away, and moving into an abusive household. At twenty-six, my life was completely out of control and the shame was so bad it felt like I had a piano permanently strapped to my back. There finally came a time when I found myself at death’s door and as a reach for survival, I ran away again and divorced my ex-husband. Of course, this was yet another trauma and the bulimia got even worse but at least now I didn’t have someone living with me who I was constantly disappointing because of it. I wish I could tell you there was a point during all of this that I saw the light and everything took a turn for the better. But I didn’t and things were hard for years after.

A month before I turned thirty, I had my son. How glorious and terrifying this was! He was the best thing that had ever happened to me. I had immeasurable love for him and yet immeasurable fear that something terrible would happen to this little baby that had my heart. Now I know that this was the result of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder triggered yet again by the hormonal change of pregnancy. But back then, I was convinced that tragedy was about to happen at any moment. I didn’t get help, I spent three years loving my son and watching him grow even though I had a constant pit in my stomach that something terrible was about to happen. Still unaware that these intrusive thoughts and feelings were abnormal in any way, I had my daughter in September of 2016. Just like my son, she was absolutely breathtaking, the sweetest baby…I fell off the deep end mentally. About six months postpartum, I started having visions and terrible dreams. In my mind, the feelings and thoughts that something terrible was going to happen were premonitions. My mind was constantly triggering fight-or-flight and my body was breaking down. I couldn’t drive without having to pull over at some point because the dizziness was so bad. I couldn’t get through a shower. My face and arms were constantly going numb. I fixated on a cough that never went away. I had tremors and blurry vision. Every day there seemed to be a new symptom just different enough to make me wonder if this time it was a real stroke or heart attack. Every day was so difficult because my brain was eating me alive.

After a year of this, I had no choice but to get help somehow. I couldn’t work or be the wife and mother my family needed because of the daily multiple panic attacks. My current husband was as supportive as it gets but he still had no idea what to do. He gave me a list of the mental health providers on our insurance plan. Sarah Beth Wheeler was close to our house so I made an appointment having no idea if it was going to help or not. It turned out that this was the Light. This is when it was all going to turn around.
God in His grace led me to the best therapist and a great doctor that prescribed medication for the anxiety. The medication stopped the terrible physical anxiety symptoms and even the binge urges that I’d been experiencing for twenty years! With this grounding, I was able to learn from Sarah Beth about the nature of OCD and how to examine my thoughts and sort them out. It took a good year of therapy and medication but this is what God used to heal me! Working on mental illness is not easy, but I will tell you it’s a heck of a lot better than remaining mentally ill! I look back at my time with Sarah Beth as one of the best years of my life.

Backing up a bit, during that year of healing, I began writing middle grade novels. I am a huge fan of the Harry Potter series, The Chronicles of Narnia, and anything by Roald Dahl. I had this story in my mind that I would escape to every day when my daughter took a nap. A mental vacation! Before I knew it, I’d written a whole book. Me, the bulimic, divorced, high school dropout had written a book! I don’t know if it was then or after finishing my second novel, or maybe the third, that I realized that my title was no longer Bulimic, Divorced, High School Dropout. I was a wife, a mom, an author!
And best yet, I was a New Creation.

Maybe it was this feeling of being “brand new” that influenced my decision to write my novels under a pen name. I chose J. Reese Bradley—it sounded so authorly! J. Reese Bradley has published two books, Brumbletide and the Daughter of Eve and Brumbletide and the Changing of the Crowns. The third in the series, Brumbletide and the Triad Champion is finished and will release in 2022.

Further Up and Further In!

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!”
― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

Have you read the last book of The Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Battle? If not, you must! In my opinion, it is one of the most underrated books. I will not tell you much about it here because it’s too good to spoil. The only thing I am going to discuss from it today is the concept of “further up and further in.” The quote above is said by the unicorn when he first sees the new Narnia, Alsan’s Country.

Most of us do not enjoy the thought of dying. We probably don’t really even enjoy the thought of going to Heaven if It means leaving the things we enjoy about our life here on earth. This is because we have yet to go further up and further in. How does one do that? The answer is to abide.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
John 15:4

John 15 is such an important chapter because it tells us how to grow in our faith, works, and love of the Lord. And it isn’t difficult at all. Just like a branch clings to the vine, all we need to do is cling to Christ!

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5

Cling to Christ and He will bear fruit in and through you! And not just any fruit, the Fruit of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:23

This fruit bearing happens here and now on earth. You don’t have to wait until Heaven. As long as sin is in the world, there is going to be tribulation here, but Christ in you will not only help you bear it all but will actually make the world a better place. This is because being a more loving, joyful, peaceful, kind, good, patient, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled person will not only be good for the person but for those around them too. Think how the world would be if we had millions and millions of people clinging to Christ and bearing the Fruit of the Spirit. It would almost be Heaven!

So how to cling?

In case isn’t clear, the clinging is the abiding of John 15. And the way to abide is to read your Bible and pray continually. In other words, seek the Lord with all you’ve got.

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13

Why do I have to read the Bible? Can’t I just pray all the time? No. Read the Bible. It is God’s words to us. We speak to God with words, He speaks to us through the Bible. It’s a conversation! It isn’t too hard for you. War is hard. Childbirth is hard. Reading the Bible is not hard. And when you do open it and read it, maybe start with the book of Ezra to see an example of how important Gof thinks it is for His people to read His Word. But make sure to keep reading from there. It doesn’t matter where you start, just read it! I listened to sermons and did devotionals for years but never read the Bible. I knew a lot of things to say to hold up a conversation with another believer but the depth of what Christ did for me on the cross had not penetrated my heart and I was not regenerated. There is something about actual Scripture that opens our eyes and changes us. That something is that Scripture is alive and active.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

The words of Hebrews 4:12 are true. But you have to experience it for yourself. It’s like a having a baby. Before you are a parent, everyone tells you how the love you have for your baby is different than anything you’ve ever felt before. You can try to imagine it, and you can even like the idea, but until you actuall have the baby you don’t really know. Open your Bible right now and you’ll be on your way to understanding the Narnian Unicorn, “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!”

And don’t forget to pray.

Pray without ceasing.
1 Thessalonians 5:17

Pray to God your worries, pray to God your thanks, and pray to God His words too. Praying Scripture brings you so close to God. Here’s how to do it. Let’s say you are in John 15 that we were discussing before,

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:1-5

Pray John 15:1-5 to God by saying somethng like, “Thank for being our True Vine and our Vinedresser. Thank you for pruning me to bear more fruit, and thank you for making me clean. I know I can’t bear the Fruit of the Spirit by myself, I need you to bear it through me. Please let me to continue to abide in you always. Let me seek you with my whole heart. Amen”

Read your Bible and pray as much as you possibly can. And don’t forget to go to a sound church to gather together with other believers. You won’t believe the difference this will make. Little by little you will know Christ more and more. And eventually you will actually want to see Him in Heaven! How many of us like the thought of Heaven after death but couldn’t care less if Jesus was there or not? But Jesus is the point, and He’s a good point. He’s not safe, but He’s good.

Sure, the thought of death will probably always be a little scary because we don’t know when it’s coming or what it will feel like, but the fear of death can absolutely go away when you seek the Lord with your whole heart.

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
1 Corinthians 15:55

Further up and further in!

Christians, No Retreat

With the recent horrifying events, it is in the thoughts of most Christians that the end is in sight. Maybe so. Maybe we are about to be gathered into the barn. But if that time is in fact at hand, now is not the time to retreat.

Be strong and courageous! Do not back down. Our work isn’t over until we are in glory. Multitudes still need the regenerating gospel. You may still need the true regenerating gospel!

And what is that gospel? It is that left to your natural-born self, you are at war with God. You have no business in heaven and are like a dead man walking. But if you believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who took the punishment we deserve on Himself, He will come into your heart and make you a new creation, a child of God. This New Creation you will really and truly experience here in this life! And that isn’t all, you receive also the gift of eternal life in Heaven because Christ is what makes us clean before God. Because of Christ washing away our sin, we can share in the Kingdom of God.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

believed this already, examine yourself. There is evidence here and now in this life that you are a regenerated creation.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

If you think you are a Christian, you should at least see that your thoughts, feelings, and desires are going in the direction of the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. Examine and be honest with yourself. If you aren’t exhibiting these things, call out to God.

Call to Me, and I will answer and show you great and unsearchable things you do not know.
Jeremiah 33:3

There is something called the Prosperity Gospel, and there is no time like the present to walk away from it. This false gospel tells you that you will not have trouble in this life. If you are attending a church or listening to a pastor that tells you that Christ’s gospel will give you mansions, money, and good health—get out. There is a real, true, good, regenerating Gospel and the Prosperity Gospel is not it. Walk away from it into true life and your true purpose.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

Christians, real true regenerated Christians, this is not the time to settle in and wait for the end. This is not the time to hide in fear. This is what we were made for! Because of Christ in us, we are the light in darkness, and it is in these darkest times that we will shine the brightest.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Matthew 28:19

No retreat.