Boston Marathon Bombing from a Christian Perspective

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May 012013
 

I want to start by saying that my heart goes out to the families of everyone who was killed, maimed, or otherwise hurt in any way as a result of this horrific act of terrorism. I have been praying and will continue to pray for you.

Disclaimer:  This post is not meant to rationalize, excuse, or otherwise dismiss the awful acts of terrorism that were committed. It is only an attempt to provide a line of thinking from a Christian perspective that may have been largely overlooked.

The one thing that struck me was the following statement by Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bomber who was killed early Friday, “I Don’t Have A Single American Friend.”

Boston Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard, 8, held a call for peace at a school event last year. He ended up dying a victim of violence.

Boston Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard, 8, held a call for peace at a school event last year. He ended up dying a victim of terrorism.

Why was that? Was it because he failed to reach out to other Americans and to offer himself friendly? Or was it because we American’s failed to reach out to him and to offer ourselves friendly, perhaps because of our prejudices against foreigners? I suspect it was probably a combination of the two.

What does the Bible say about how we should treat foreigners? Let’s take a look at some of the scripture.

You must not wrong a foreigner nor oppress him, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.
Exodus 22:21, NETBible

When a foreigner resides with you in your land, you must not oppress him. The foreigner who resides with you must be to you like a native citizen among you; so you must love him as yourself, because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God
Leviticus 19: 33-34, NETBible

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God who is unbiased and takes no bribe, who justly treats the orphan and widow, and who loves resident foreigners, giving them food and clothing. So you must love the resident foreigner because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.
Deuteronomy 10:17-19, NETBible

The Lord says, “Do what is just and right. Deliver those who have been robbed from those who oppress them. Do not exploit or mistreat foreigners who live in your land, children who have no fathers, or widows. Do not kill innocent people in this land.”
Jeremiah 22:3, NETBible

The above scripture says that we as Christians are supposed to love foreigners as ourselves, give them food and clothing, and that we should not wrong, oppress, exploit, or mistreat them.

What if Tamerlan would have reached out to an American for friendship? Or, better yet, what if American Christians would have reached out to him in love? I suspect that the outcome would (could) have been quite different. Perhaps, we would have never known the name “Tamerlan Tsarnaev.”

I’m as guilty of this as the next person. Perhaps I don’t reach out to foreigners as much as I should because of the natural barriers: linguistic, religious, cultural, and etc. Or perhaps I wasn’t aware of the scripture that speaks to this (I can’t have this excuse now!).

Whatever the reason, let us push past these barriers and reach out to the foreigners in our country in love, because, who knows, perhaps we can help prevent the next terrorist attack by doing this.

Dear Father,

Please forgive us for our prejudices and other wrong thoughts and feelings toward foreigners.  Please help us to see them as You do, as human beings that You love just as much as You love us. Help us to remember that our ancestors were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. Most of all, help us to remember that is it Your will for us to love foreigners as we love ourselves.

In Jesus’ mighty name we pray,

Amen.

I would love to hear from you. Please post a comment below and I will respond to as many as I can.

Feb 182013
 

For an unknown new Christian author like myself, the Christian marketplace can be a hard place, real hard. Not only did I have to write the book and do much of the editing and layout myself, I’m also primarily responsible for marketing it.

Since the market is now inundated with books due to the low cost of self-publishing, it can be quite difficult to land book reviews, for example. The book reviewers are flooded with way more books than they can possibly review.  This is driving the demand for paid book reviews.

In my effort to get our book reviewed, I sent emails to many different book reviewers.  Only two responded.

Friendship_Quotes

The first, Kathleen Samuelson, Director of Publications for CBA Retailers+Resources Magazine, responded that she couldn’t guarantee a review due to the number of books that she received. Nevertheless, I proceeded to mail our book to her attention and sent a follow-up email asking her to confirm receipt. She promptly responded that she had received it. The email correspondence alone was HUGE considering the number of folks who didn’t bother to respond to my emails.
The second, Margaret Lukasik, informed me that she would create a book promotion webpage for free. For free! Really, what’s the catch? There is no catch. Ten days later she delivered the page as promised.
She also explained that for a small fee she would do a guaranteed book review and much more!
The first package for $19.95 offers the following:
  • 1 full page review of your book on this site, Life Purpose Books.com.
  • 1 review with different keywords on my Christian Book Review Blog.
  • 1 announcement of my review on my blog for this site.
  • Reviews will be written with specific keywords placed strategically for SEO ranking.
  • Announcements in my two monthly newsletters
  • Free banner advertising on specific pages of this site (I will make the banner free if needed).
  • Announcements posted on three of my Facebook pages
  • Broadcasts posted on my Twitter Account
  • I will include your email and website address if you wish to promote them and any other information you may have such as interview links for example.
The second package for $49.97 offers even more:
  • Page construction for Search Engine Optimization to achieve great page ranking
  • 1 full review on this site, Victory Bible Studies (click on examples below) with specific keywords placed strategically for SEO ranking with a post on it’s blog
  • 1 full review on my popular Christian Money Growth.com site which will be slightly different than for this site to achieve better page ranking and to target a larger audience. It also includes a post on it’s blog.
  • Announcements in my monthly newsletters
  • Announcements posted on four of my Christian Facebook pages
  • Regular broadcasts posted on my Twitter Account and the major social networks.
  • Your other books will be listed.
  • Amazon.com ads on my websites to sell your book if you have your book listed on their site.
  • Free ads created to advertise on my Victory Bible Studies and Christian Money Growth sites
  • 1 free ad for your book on my Victory Thru Christ site.
  • I will include your email and website address if you wish to promote them
  • I will continue to promote your book!

I decided to go with the second option and, thus far, she has delivered all of this:

Book Review Pages:
http://lifepurposebooks.com/Christian-life-book.html
http://victory-bible-studies.com/books/slaying-life-s-dragons-and-beasts.html
http://christian-money-growth.com/reviews/spiritual-growth-book.html

Blog Posts:
http://lifepurposebooks.com/blog/christian-guidance-book-by-gary-millner/
http://christian-book-review-blog.blogspot.com/2013/02/new-christian-book-slaying-lifes.html

http://christian-money-growth.com/blog/spiritual-growth-book/
http://www.victory-bible-studies.com/blog/slaying-life-s-dragons/

Pages that Contain an Ad for your Book:
http://victory-bible-studies.com/child-abuse-victim-recovery.html
http://lifepurposebooks.com/tools.html
http://christian-money-growth.com/free-Bible-study-notebook.html

When I do a Google search for the title of our book, one of her pages comes up first even before Amazon’s or my own website’s! Impressive!

Due to the small fees that she charges, she certainly isn’t in this to get rich.

Margaret Lukasik provides a priceless service to Christian authors for very small fees.

Finally, I would like to mention Sarah Bolme, author of the book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace. Sarah also provides valuable services to Christian authors. Her book is an excellent resource that very practically describes what the author should be doing in every step of the book publishing process.

Sarah has been very helpful to me. In fact, she even referred me to my publisher, Tate Publishing.

In addition, for an annual fee, she offers membership to Christian Small Publishers Association. This service is very valuable, especially to self-published authors. She offers book distribution and many other invaluable benefits to members.

I would love to hear from you. What has been your experience as a Christian author? Have you found it to be hard? Who has helped you out along the way?

How We See Ourselves

 Recovery  Comments Off on How We See Ourselves
Jan 272013
 

Life happened this week, as it normally does. I said and did things that were both good and bad, other people said and did things and lashed out at me because of their insecurities. I came away feeling guilt, shame, and perhaps some self-hatred.

perfect-4

So, I woke up Saturday morning, and had to deal with this junk. I started by reading the Word. I turned to Psalm 139:14 and started reading, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

And then to Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

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I then looked over to the right-most column of the right most page in The Life Recovery Bible and found the following write-up [comments within brackets are mine]:

Self-Perception

“If we have lived in bondage to our compulsive behaviors for a while, we probably see more bad than good inside us. Many of us tend to see life in terms of all or nothing. As a result, we probably think we are all bad. But in recovery, we need a balanced understanding of ourself. We need to see that along with our bad points we have also been gifted with strengths. It’s not an either/or proposition. A balanced view of ourself will help us better understand our shortcomings while also giving us greater hope in our potential.

At the end of the fifth day of creation God had made everything except the first people. The Bible tells us that when he looked at what he had made so far, “God saw that it was good.” Then God created the first man and woman. “So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; …God blessed them and told them, ‘Multiple and fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters over the fish and birds and all the animals.’ …Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was excellent in every way” (Genesis 1:25, 27-31).

God distinguished between the human race and the rest of creation. He made us in his very image, with capacities far beyond those of mere animals. God was (and is) excited about us! He gave us abilities and responsibilities to reflect his own nature in all of creation. When he created us, he was proud of what he had made!

Although, we have a sinful nature [or flesh] that came as a result of the Fall, we also must remember that we were created in the likeness of God. There are excellence and dignity inherent in being human that should cause us to ponder our potential for good as well as for bad.

[The Life Recovery Bible: New Living Translation. (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1998), p.5]

I would love to hear from you. Do you struggle with self-perception or self-hatred? What has helped you in this spiritual battle against the Evil One?

Jan 102013
 

[I read this blog post from Ann Voskamp:  The Grateful Christmas Project: 7 Ways to have more Grateful Kids this Christmas and I liked it so much that I had write about it on my blog too :-]

What’s does Jesus get for His birthday? Have you ever thought of that?  Don’t we have this whole Christmas thing wrong? It’s Jesus birthday and we go out and buy everyone gifts except Him.

What if on my birthday or your birthday, every family member went out and bought every other family member a gift except me or you? I would probably be down right angry!

Perhaps we need to re-think Christmas? What if Jesus and His birthday were the primary focus of Christmas? What if giving Jesus gifts was part or the whole of our Christmas?

Ann talks about how her family started doing this about a dozen years ago or so.  How instead of giving each other gifts, they…

“It happens after breakfast, each day for the last two weeks of Advent, selecting one gift for He who is Christmas.”

… give Jesus a gift by selecting one from the various catalogs linked below:

Compassion Catalog … World Vision Catalog… Samaritan’s Purse… Partner’s International Catalog

Gospel for Asia Catalog… Mennonite Central Committee Catalog …

giving

giving giving

Our family tried this this year. We still gave gifts to each other, but we also picked a couple of gifts from these catalogs to give to the One who celebrates His birthday at Christmas.

I would really love to hear from you.  Have you ever tried what I describe above? How did it turn out?