Just Call Him Yee Haw! He’ll Understand

Yee Haw copyReposted from September 9, 2013:

I got into a theological discussion (two years ago now) with a friend. (and some of you are saying, “Uh oh!)

It was a friendly discussion! Really!

She wanted to know why some people write God’s name as G_d.

I don’t know for sure. I have some ideas on it though…

My first thought on this was that someone somewhere went to Bible College or seminary, and discovered that those who copied the Old Testament scrolls had such a respect for God that they took the vowels out of His name along with the accent marks so that no one could pronounce His name, thereby helping those who read the scrolls to avoid “taking God’s name in vain.”

Since not taking God’s name in vain was one of the Ten Commandments, this was very important to the Israelites, especially when the people involved in this activity were Scribes or Pharisees.

Jesus had a LOT to say about the Scribes and the Pharisees in the Gospels when He had to deal with them in person. Mostly all of it was very negative! He came up with the most colorful descriptions of their dysfunctional efforts at making everyone BUT themselves righteous, too: having logs in their eyes (vs. everyone else’s “splinters”); and camels trying to fit through needles! At every turn He rebuked them for the unreasonable burdens they placed on other people while trying to hide their own hypocrisy.

Helping other people to avoid sinning in so many cases requires us to sin ourselves via legalism. We can hedge our conduct around with so many rules and regulations that we find ourselves barred from doing what is right and just by what others have said we MUST or MUST NOT do.

Jesus cited many examples of exactly this kind of activity in the Gospels, although He never specifically discussed the effort to obscure God’s name.

Obscuring the name of God may have kept people from taking it in vain in that form–it certainly didn’t take them long to come up with other names to call Him instead, and also to abuse those instead–but I have to wonder: did this also discourage people from calling on God when they needed Him?

Did hiding the pronunciation of God’s name contribute to setting God’s people at such a remove from Him that He seemed unnecessary or irrelevant in their daily lives, a great impersonal being who was too important to be approached by anyone who truly needed Him? Was this one of the things that men did, desiring to be holy, yet by their actions, discouraging others who reacted by embracing all-out-rebellion because they felt rejected and ignored by God?

Is this veil that prevents us from truly knowing something we might otherwise have known about God greater than the actual, physical veil hanging floor to ceiling, wall-to-wall in the temple; the veil that no one but the High Priest could pass to make atonement for sins? The veil that tore in two when Christ died on the Cross for our sins so that it would no longer separate us from God?

When I think about that, and how some Christians, not content with being unable to pronounce the Hebrew name for God, are trying to render the English name for God unpronounceable too, I’m grateful that God doesn’t expect us to follow their example!

But I do have to wonder–if they got their way, if they would be happier to hear the rest of us mispronouncing God’s name instead?

And as for YWHW or YHWH–however you’re spelling it or misspelling it– Some people say that name, Yahweh or Jehovah; but it doesn’t matter, really. What matters is in your heart, and having a right relationship with Jesus, because that’s what HE came to do: save us and to tear the veil separating us from God so that we could have a personal relationship with Him!

And yes, if you want to call him Yee Haw, I don’t think He’ll mind, as long as your heart is right.

Some of His children probably will mind–but hey, siblings are going to always find things to pick on each other about. Don’t let them get to you!

God’s the best thing that ever happened to the human race, and if anyone or anything is worth a YEE HAW, then God definitely is! And I’m pretty sure He’ll understand if you want to tell Him so.

How Do You Define Trust?

TrustReposted from August 21, 2013:

Trust is a delicate thing, and yet it makes the world go round.

We can’t live without trust.

Our economy is built on trust.

Relationships live or die on trust.

Marriage, peace treaties, and trade agreements all are made possible by trust that the parties involved will honor their agreements.

We desire to be trusted, and to trust.

“You fool me once, shame on you. You fool me twice, shame on me,” is a saying about trust.

We say a person is gullible if they are easy to fool or make a habit of trusting someone who is untrustworthy.

We say a person has been gulled or fooled if their trust has been abused.

We have to be careful of where we place our trust. Just because you trust someone, doesn’t mean that they’re trustworthy.

Just because you “feel” something should be true, doesn’t mean it’s true. Emotions can lie and facts can be deceiving. We should never trust our emotions, and we should, whenever possible, double-check our facts with an independent source.

When you’re a writer, trust is important in holding a reader’s interest. A reader of fiction trusts the author to weave a story with believable elements, no matter how outlandish the setting. Break that trust, and you lose your reader.

A reader of non-fiction trusts the writer to stick to the facts and not twist the truth for their own ends.

It takes consistent effort to establish trust, but only one lapse to break it.

Distrust is contagious. This is why the stock market reacts so negatively to bad news, and why there were runs on the banks at the start of the Great Depression.

We say that someone who is trustworthy is also reliable.

We call someone who doesn’t trust easily cynical.

A person who makes a habit of doubting everyone and everything is called a cynic.

I’ve been thinking a lot about trust lately…

I used to be very trusting of those whom I knew well, who were closest to me. People usually are until someone they trust abuses that trust, and forces them to realize that not all people can be trusted.

Due to life circumstances, I have been forced to redefine what trust meant for me. I used to mentally view people as trustworthy or untrustworthy. Either I knew them and could trust them, or I did not, and could not. Now, I don’t do that. I have had to redefine trust in terms of what I can expect from each person I know, and what I know or don’t know about that person which might introduce unexpected complexities into our relationship.

I can trust certain people close to me for many things, but I have learned that there are situations in which I might not be able to rely on them at all. There are others I can reliably trust to disappoint me every time. This is still a form of trust, although it is more commonly understood as distrust. I now trust people in varying degrees based on the consistency with which they have shown themselves to be reliable or unreliable.

One last thought on trust:

Here in America, we print on our money, “In God We Trust,” but as a nation, that is becoming less and less true. The irony is that, the more I have seen of life, the more I have come to understand that God really is the only one we can absolutely trust!

What role does trust play in your life? Have you ever trusted someone you should not? How do you define trust?

What Brings You Happiness?

Headshot at Gilletts Low-res

I’m happy to be alive!

Reposted from June 20, 2013:

A friend, Diane Graham, took objection to a slideshow someone else made of things that make women happy. While I understand her objection; many of the items pictured and discussed were very shallow; I can also understand how simple things can be an uncomplicated source of happiness. And I thought–why not create my own list of things that bring me happiness as a woman?


Waterlilies are a great source of happiness! Waterlily paintings are even more fantastic!

Here’s my list:

  • a big smile on my son’s or daughter’s face
  • Mom’s cooking
  • my sis-in-law’s creative desserts
  • a beautiful flower
  • a lovely butterfly
  • soft fluffy snow
  • a frisky squirrel
  • that mischievous smile on Dad’s face right before he tells a good joke in that quiet voice that gives nothing away;
  • a purring kitty snuggling up to my back when he *thinks* I’m asleep (he’s so funny)
    the way my other kitty always finds my lap and purrs madly when she’s hungry or I’ve just come out of shower
  • the way my brother teases my niece; that “look” on my niece’s face when he teases her
  • the way my nephew always throws his arms around me and gives me a big hug when I see him, and before he heads for home;
  • knowing I’ve created a beautiful work of art–even if no one else notices–however if someone notices, I’m over the moon!
  • writing a chapter of a new novel, getting inspired, and then writing three more
  • being clean
  • having a good/more attractive haircut
  • finding another great nugget of spiritual truth in the Bible that I’d never really seen/understood before, especially when it’s something that encourages me to keep on keeping on–
  • I’m sure there is more that I could list here, such as having two arms and two legs in working order, and no major aches worth mentioning; good health, a great place to live, family to love me, friends I enjoy–

But mostly, I’m just happy to be alive. 🙂 God is the true source of my happiness.

What about you? What are some of the things that make you happy?

Tour of Hearthing Castle

Hearthing castle with Hearthingham

Click to take a tour!

Reposted from June 8, 2013:

You’re invited to take a Tour of the Grounds of Hearthing Castle!

Click on either the picture at top, and the link should take you to view the video presentation.

A little more information about Hearthing Castle:

It isn’t your typical castle. This castle only exists on paper. Aside from the walls and a general layout that is castle-ish, it would be a huge pain to defend! This is because Hearthing Castle was never really intended as serious protection against assault by an opposing force.

Oh, sure; when the castle was first built, the builders had some concerns about the possibility of marauding giants, but their ambitious building program outlasted any actual threat. The curtain wall mainly exists to block the chill winds that sweep across Astarkand in the winter, and to provide a handy place for the king’s guards to stroll and look decorative when they’re on duty.

Hearthing Tower was the first building raised to protect the large band of men, women and children who had made the dangerous trek north from Taesleica, back at the beginning of Astarkand’s founding. The hall at the base was large enough to house them all that first winter. Later, more floors were added as needed. Construction on the curtain wall began at almost the same time as the construction of the tower, although it took several generations to finish it to a height that was thought at the time to be adequate.

Later, as the population of Astarkand grew and spread out from that small group huddled in the tower, the kitchens and kitchen cellars were added, and also more floors above the kitchens. The royal residence, the north wing, and Knights Row were added next. The Audience Hall, Castle West, and the south wing were added last. Sheds, castle industries, and cottages sprang up along the outer walls. The barracks and stables were rebuilt more than once before reaching their present proportions.

As the population of Astarkand grew even larger, a town sprang on the slopes of the hill below the castle. By the time the town was built, the Kandians had realized that the giants they feared weren’t going to be an issue (the giants had mysteriously disappeared), but they still feared the dangerous wild beasts that roamed at will.

Bears, wolves, wolverines and northern garcats were a serious danger to life and limb before the town wall was raised.

Since Astarkand has become more settled, the larger predators have mostly disappeared from the duchies. They can still be found prowling in the forests along the northern and western edges of the kingdom. Wolves still run in packs in Astarkand proper, and are seen more of when a winter is particularly severe.

Hearthing Castle has lately entered the process of becoming more of a seat of government and less of a domicile for royalty and retainers. What used to be apartments and chambers where nobles lived on the ground floors of the main wings are now government offices dedicated to the running of the kingdom. What good fairy tale kingdom can survive, after all, without its nameless functionaries handling all the red tape?

Obtain more glimpses of daily life in Hearthing Castle from my books, A Shadow On The Land, King’s Ride, and Eiathan’s Heir (books 1, 2, and 3 of the Legends of Astarkand series).

Reader’s Challenge: create your own castle, take a photo, and send it to me!

The Bible Is Not A Picky-eater Buffet

Bible is a Full Course MealReposted from May 29, 2013:

The Bible is not a picky-eater buffet; the Bible is a 66 course meal.

My credentials that are relevant to this post: I graduated from Columbia International University in Columbia, SC with a degree in Bible.

When you’re eating at a buffet, you get to choose which dishes you’re going to eat, and which you will reject or refuse. Eating at a buffet is all about making those choices!

But, when you are invited to a banquet with royalty at Buckingham palace, and the staff serves you dish after dish, are you going to treat this formal dinner in the same way?

I suspect not!

I suspect…that you will eat at least a little of every course set before you, because you are conscious of the desire not to offend your hostess, the queen, or her staff. Wouldn’t you also be on your best behavior and use your best manners? Wouldn’t you want to be invited back?

The Bible is a lot like that banquet! Now; the queen of England isn’t going to serve you 66 courses…

But…the Bible contains 66* books!

God, the King of Kings; the primary author and final authority for the human co-authors of each of these books, is the ultimate royalty–

When you sit down to study and read the Bible, you may read only a portion of a book or several books, but that portion must be interpreted in the context of all the other parts and concepts included in Bible. It isn’t reasonable nor does it do justice to the Bible to consider any one little part on its lonesome, discombobulated from the whole. You wouldn’t do that to anyone else’s book; why would you dissect the Bible in this way?

We also don’t get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible God views as important or historical, or accurate.

Some parts are poetic, true; but the Bible makes it clear which books are more poetic and intended to be taken not quite as literally, and which books are literal and historical fact. Regardless of writing style, the entirety of the Bible is a historical whole; a single document created for our edification.

Oh, and I love that word; edification! It’s the spiritual equivalent of eating healthy food.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 affirms that, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

When God set out to communicate with us in a living document whose writing spanned centuries and the lifetimes of more than 70 different authors, He wasn’t interested in providing us with spiritual junk food. You won’t find “feel goodism” anywhere in the Bible. You won’t find any fluffy sentiments, either!

God shares a lot of hard to swallow truths with us in His Word about where sin came from; how sin warps our perception of Him, ourselves, and the world we live in; what we need to do about our sin problem which separates us from God; and how, even when we have accepted Him into our lives and are seeking to follow Him, that life is never going to be a bed of roses.

He also shares with us the good news that by accepting this path that leads us onward and upward, often at a high cost, we lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, and gain a place for ourselves for eternity with Him. He uses the authors who wrote His message down for us to encourage and exhort us to daily look to God for strength and healing, and seek to be the best that we can be at all of the virtues that God prizes.

What does this have to do with my books and writing?

A lot, as it so happens! I write fantasy and science fiction from a Christian perspective. This means that I do sometimes quote the Bible in my books, and reference biblical concepts and ideas. When I do this, I make an effort to quote in context, and to accurately reflect the meanings and principles contained in those passages, as consistent with the entirety of the biblical text.

*The Protestant Bible includes 66 books. The Roman Catholic and Orthodox Bibles include all of those books, plus the Apocrypha; and the Greek Orthodox Bible includes several more books in the Apocrypha than the R.C.’s do. Each of these versions also contain additions to several books that do not appear in the Protestant version.

I’ve made it a point to read the Apocrypha so that I could discuss them intelligently. I understand why these books are considered uninspired by Protestant churches, and are not included in the Protestant Bible. While they are historic documents, containing certain historic accounts for which they are the primary source of information, the quality and clarity of the writing displayed in these documents does not measure up to the rest of the Bible.