Note: This post is mainly for Christians, but some non-Christians can take a peek, too. Just a warning, you may be a little bit confused by what you read.

In recent times, I have become a bit annoyed by the whole “love the sinner hate the sin” concept. This may be shocking for some people. And yes, I am a Christian. I was bathed in the blood of Christ and forever forgiven from my sins because I put my trust in Him. How then can I say “love the sinner hate the sin” is flawed?

So let me explain.

Continue reading “Why “LOVE THE SINNER, HATE THE SIN” Is Flawed.”

Faith Fridays: The Silent Voice of God

I figured since Short Story Saturdays is making a comeback, why not bring back Faith Fridays? So here we are. This subject has been very personal in my life recently. It’s also the thing that I spoke my first message on. (Yes, I have lead a devotional occasionally. Being an introvert, I was terrified every time I went up. But the people liked it, so I did it every time I was asked.)

The question is this. What do I do when the voice of God seems silent in my life? The fact is that, as a Christian, you will eventually go through a patch where God either seems to be far less active in your life or completely inactive. Your prayers go up and nothing comes back down. It’s depressing.

So what can you do? Well, there are a few things you need to do.

1. Unplug your ears.

It’s very plausible that God is completely willing to speak to you. But you might not be willing to listen. That seems very strange to the frustrated person. The frustrated person thinks: “I’ve tried everything, of course I’m willing to listen!” But what are you keeping from Him?

Obviously, God is God. You can’t physically keep any secret from Him. But you can consistently decide to not confess a certain sin and turn away from it. If you’re doing that, you’re actually ignoring God while claiming to be seeking Him. Make sure you’re blocking out every distraction from your Heavenly Father.

2. Open the Word.

We have a giant book of answers at our fingertips most of the time. If you have a Bible, open it. It’s still very possible still that He is trying to give you an answer. But if you are not opening the Bible and reading it, you won’t find it for a while probably. You have the questions and the Bible has the answers.

3. Keep praying anyway.

Just because you’re not getting what you asked for is no reason to stop asking for it. It’s extremely easy to give up when you have a bit of an obstacle. We’ll find every excuse in the book. If it isn’t that God is being silent, then it’s that it isn’t the answer you want. If it isn’t that you didn’t get the answer you wanted, it’s that He isn’t doing it quickly enough. But none of these reasons are legitimate reasons to stop praying.

There’s a set of verses on this that comes to mind instantly. Those would be the parable from Luke 18.

“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: ‘There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”

Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

4. Recognize who God is.

This seems a bit odd. I mean, we all know who God is. Perhaps not completely, but we have a basic idea. God is loving, compassionate, just, avenging… and sovereign. I’m not about to say that God does not care about what you’re praying for. He loves His children, but He’s also not a genie. There’s nothing that forces Him to answer your prayer request. That is not how God works. Like Aslan, He is not tame. He will do it when He wants to, not just whenever you ask Him. Realizing that you cannot force God to do things changes your prayer life drastically. It will make you a far more patient person. I know it made me one. Even if you already know this, a reminder is good. And finally, the wrap-up.

5. Realize that you might not be doing anything wrong at all.

Silence can actually be a sign of intimacy. I know friends who I can hang out with, say nothing at all, and it will be completely fine. You don’t have to say anything to say something, if that makes any sense at all. It’s a sign of trust. It’s a sign that you and God are going to the next level in the relationship. And that, my friend, is pretty awesome.

So if you’re experiencing a silent God, then I say kudos to you friend. So keep praying, keep reading, and keep on seeking the LORD. Cool things are about to happen, because He isn’t going to be silent forever.

Dark Soldier’s Fantastic Fictional Religions!

After I found some awesome info on building fictional religions, I thought I would share some of the ones I have planned for the Dark Veil books!

Followers of the True King

The followers of the True King believe that many years ago, a powerful sentient being arrived from the sky along with four other beings: Mother Autumn, Father Frost, Mother Earth and Father Summer. This sentient being, known as the True King, created the planet and placed the four other beings as rulers over the planet. However, many years later, a being by the name of Laecon, Father Frost’s protoge, made war with the True King and took control over the entire planet in a 400-year-war, including the four other beings.

Nobody has heard from the True King since, but the True King’s followers believe that the King will return to make war and defeat King Laecon once and for all.

Followers of the Universe 

These people believe that the sky, the sun, the moon and the stars are the body of a giant one-eyed goddess. During the night, the goddess is open to prayer and suggestion. During the day, the goddess begins her work from suggestions the night before or her own will. This goddess is fickle, and it is often hard to tell if she will actually listen to the people’s suggestion. The more open her eye is (the moon being her eye), the more interested she is in listening.

When a person dies, if they are good enough, they will become one of the stars in the sky, a part of this goddess.

They are firm believers in allowing change. Like the tides, they flow with the situations of life, as they do not believe that people can change their situation.

Followers of the Dark Veil

This, depending on who you ask, is either an offshoot or the precursor to the True King religion. The Dark Veil believers believe that there is a being even older than the True King known as the Dark Veil. Their ways are mysterious, their gender and appearance unknown. The Dark Veil, according to this religion, created the True King. The True King wanted to make their own creation apart from the Dark Veil’s universe. Therefore the Dark Veil allowed the True King and four other gods to do their work. But the True King would also reap the suffering of a corrupt world.

Many believe that the Dark Veil has a direct contact with King Laecon, who fought against the True King in a 400-year-war. Laecon has no problem with toting this belief everywhere he goes.

Followers of the Great Void

These people believe that there are gods, but that they are uninterested in their creation after they create them. They believe that all bad things that happen are a result of their feuding amongst themselves. As such, their only consolation in the world is to either accept the bad things of life or to die – to go into the void of nonexistence and never return.

They avoid having children and will often recruit orphans. Angsty teenagers often try to join but the priests insist that they consider their decision a while before doing so.

Getting Out Of A Writing Rut

I was actually in a writing rut for a while. Bad time to be in one, since I’m on the last draft of a book I’ve been working on for some time. But something brought me out of that rut. Well a few things, really.

The first was the desire just to get it finished: to hold in my hands a hardcover book with a nice ribbon bookmark and a gorgeous cover and realized that all that work meant something.

The second was the thought that maybe someday I would be signing books and that someone would come up to me, place my own book in front of me and tell me how much they loved it, that it was their favorite. I would love to see someone fanboy / fangirl over my book just as much as I do.

The third is really just an extension of the second. I made the things that I’ve struggled with in life a key facet of my writing: depression, rejection, bitterness and loneliness. But though the characters I wrote struggle with many of these same things, I also made a light at the end of the tunnel, a happy ending, if you will. I would love to see someone come up to me to tell me how encouraging that book was for their own personal trials and struggle. I would love to hear that the book gave them the courage to press on even when they didn’t want to.

And finally, I would love to see some people come to faith in Christ through it. Although this is a fictional book in a fictional world, faith and trust make themselves key aspects of the novel. Faith is the very frame, the cornerstone for the entire book. I am not ashamed of this in the least. Now, I suppose you can read the book and see it as just a very nice story about sacrifice and faith and trust. But I would also add that it’s probably not going to be as intricate and interesting a story if you are not seeing it through this light. So hearing someone tell me that it changed their life would be fantastic.

Perhaps I have my expectations too high, seeing as it’s my very first book published. Only about a third of writers get their first books published, maybe less. But I’m obnoxiously hopeful! So I guess we’ll just have to see how big this project of mine gets.

Faith Fridays: Regarding Modern Revelations

I’m back, and I’m here with an especially controversial topic. But I don’t think it should be causing quite as much controversy as it does.

We know that God revealed certain divine things to people back in Biblical times. If He didn’t, we wouldn’t have the Bible. It is also noted that prophecy is one of the spiritual gifts. But past this point, it gets a little muddy. The question is this: does God reveal extrabiblical truths to people today?

Continue reading “Faith Fridays: Regarding Modern Revelations”

Reaching The End

I finally rewrote the end of the novel for the second draft. In the end, it’s far closer to what I wanted than what I had originally. It actually feels like the end of a book this time. Is it emotional? Oh yes. Does it leave room for a second book? Definitely. Am I asking too many questions? Most certainly. Should I stop asking them? Ok, ok, fine.

Anyway, I’m much happier with the end product than I was before. I still have tons of stuff to edit. About 50-100 pages, to be precise. It’s actually far less than I’m making it out to be, but it’s a decent sum. 

In case y’all want a real emotional trip, here’s link to the song I listened to while writing the end. 

It’s a trip to Sad-Mart, where your greeters are Melancholy and Dismay.

It’s pretty sad.

In good news, I have recently arrived at school for my senior year at good old Liberty University! I have an excellent year in front of me, mainly because I never have to wake up before 9:30 for any reason whatsoever. I mean, I still do because they give me bacon if I come to breakfast, but I don’t have to. Technically.

This is the life of a Fine Arts student. 

In the meantime, I plan to raise awareness of the awesome Dark Veil Saga by creating the life size version of “Leviathan Killer” in some media besides metal. I don’t want to kill anyone by fake-stabbing them, which is the ultimate purpose of this endeavor.

I also now have an Instagram (sirgabrielpenn) so you should all follow me for cool book/writing/reading stuff! I’m super sorry about those awards and challenges I’ve missed recently, so now that I have so much time I’m going to try to get to some of them. “Try” is the key word. There’s a lot of them.

Expect a revamping of short stories and Faith Friday soon!!

Faith Fridays: Regarding Free Will

Today I have decided not to use my own words, but the words of an old church father, to talk about a big discussion in the church: free will. That church father I mentioned is none other than St. Augustine! Here is the question: Can God’s sovereignty and free will coexist? So here is a small piece from the piece “Augustine’s Retractions”. He nails it excellently. Prepare yourselves; it’s a bit wordy and it is quite formal, but it does explain it all quite well.

It’s about to get deep, y’all.

Continue reading “Faith Fridays: Regarding Free Will”

Short Story Saturday: Striking Midnight

Genre: Poetic Prose
Rating: Everyone
Time of Writing: December 2013
Image from livescience.com

There stood a man, all dressed in black
On New Years Eve (we’ll call him Jack).
While inside his house he stood so warm
Outside there toiled a winter storm,
And while outside the winter storm toiled
Inside his head he’d decided he’d spoiled
The year he’d been given, this twenty-thirteen. Continue reading “Short Story Saturday: Striking Midnight”

A Bit of Everything

Today I’m going to give you a bit of everything – personals, writing stuff, faith, etc. Mainly, it’s because a lot has been happening. So here goes.

This has been a long weekend.

Like, a very long weekend. And not too much fun. I was writing for most of it, but that’s not why it was not fun. It was not fun because, throughout the whole weekend, I was tired and stressed. And at first, I thought it was situational stuff that was dragging me down. Turns out that was not the case at all. Turns out I just needed to start hitting the hay before midnight. For some reason, it did not occur to me to be getting extra sleep for a job I have to wake up at six o’clock for. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. So this is a public service announcement via Gabriel Penn: sleep is good! Even in summer!

In other news, this is what happened in that writing expedition. Forty pages got either written or edited over my weekend. Forty. That’s a lot, and it’s pushing us way closer to getting publishing possibilities way faster than I ever dreamed. It’s such a dream come true, you have no idea. I get emotional just thinking about it – to imagine that maybe someday soon someone’s going to love my characters and world as much as I do. I think that’s pretty awesome.

Lastly with faith – started Pilgrim’s Progress, as some of you know. What a book! It was incredibly intense, even from the get-go, and it just doesn’t stop. As for whether I’ll finish it by the end of the month, maybe not. But it is awesome, and I would suggest it to anyone and everyone. I don’t know if it’s just my version of the book, but it may be hard for some people to get used to the verses that scatter the story. Read them and don’t skip! It’s hard to get used to at first, but they make the scenes so much more intense. Seriously.

A concluding thought! We (the illustrator and I) are doing some model choosing for the novel’s drawings / photos. She doesn’t have as big of a reach for that as I do, though. We are welcoming people of all ethnic backgrounds for this one, as there are many different ethnic groups in the series. I don’t have much money to give because I’m in college, so please don’t expect any extravagant wealth if you decide to do this. Please contact me at officialgabrielpenn@gmail.com if you’re interested at all!

Please like us on Facebook (Novel and Blog) and follow on Twitter! And have a fantastic week!

Faith Fridays: Regarding the Unwitnessed.

I’m starting out Faith Fridays with a big, big topic, one of the biggest in Christianity. And it’s about to get real heated.

What is the eternal security of those who are never witnessed to?
In simple terms, do people go to Hell if they’ve never heard the gospel?

This seems like a simple issue, but not quite so much. There is a very clear commission in Acts:

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15

Mix that with John 14:6 and it seems like a pretty solid end of discussion: people who don’t hear the gospel don’t know that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. That would seem to make all people who haven’t heard the gospel headed down under. And this is where it starts to get tricky with wording.

There are a few different views people take on this.

  1. People who don’t get witnessed to don’t go to Heaven. End of story. This is based off the logic I showed above.
  2. People who don’t get witnessed to may come to know Christ through visions, dreams or some supernatural understanding of the gospel. This is based off verses such as Romans 1:20. It may seem a little out-there, but there have been stories of this happening.
  3. People who don’t get witnessed to can get saved anyway. They don’t even have to know about Christ. In fact, they’re already saved. They just don’t know it yet.
    This is a lesser taken stance.
  4. People who don’t get witnessed to may get a second chance in the afterlife. This is based off 1 Peter 3:18-20, which seems to claim Christ did in fact witness to those in Hades after His death. It is a comforting thought indeed.

I personally believe in the second option. I do not completely disregard any but the third, but would dispute them, as I will.

The problem with the first option is that of Romans 1:20 and the very nature of God. If God says that His works are made clear by creation, He means it. This would mean that humans speeches are not the only means of communication. If human speeches are not the only means of communication, it more than likely means that someone has used these other means.

My problem with the third option is that of Romans 10:9-10, which states how to become saved. If this was not the only way, scripture would make it clear to us. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, just confess Him as Lord. We must accept Him, not just hope that the cross made everyone go to Heaven automatically. Besides, if those people who did not hear go automatically, what stops the rest of the world from going? Why tell people the gospel at all?

With the fourth option… I am actually not so sure of this being wrong. However, it is also based off of the idea that Christ went to Hell for the time that He was dead. However, the verses used to prove this, 1 Peter 3:8-9, could not, in my mind, mean that He actually went to Hades/Hell/Sheol. After all, He says to the criminal in Luke 23:42.43 that he would “be with Me today in paradise”. Is Jesus, then, a liar? May it never be! So although I haven’t figured it out completely myself, I cannot come to this conclusion.

What are your thoughts on the matter? As I will be in Canada at the time of this posting, I am unable to reply to comments until Sunday. But I would love to see some intellectual thought when I get back!