Charles Dickens : A ramblers thought




I just decided to write on this because I was talking to a friend today about Charles Dickens’s books, and it brought me nostalgia back to my young days that I just needed to ramble about this.

I've always felt a personal connection to Charles Dickens.

For example, If I will have a few authors hanging on my walls at home in future, he is one of them, right next to Stephen King.

Right from the beginning of my exploration into books, I knew his name. When I was seven or so, I remember getting a series of books from my primary school library, mostly the comic adaptations. Opening any page, on one side would be heavily simplified and edited narrative and on the other will be a black-and-white drawing of what is happening. While as an adult I question whether we should be ruining the surprises and endings of great works of literature for kids in books like that, at that time, I couldn't get enough of them.

Well, I had dozens of these books when I was a kid and most of them were attributed to Charles Dickens.

I fell in love with Oliver twist at a young age.  See, I have read most of Dickens’ work, If anything my obsession with his storytelling and life has increased. I remember the first time I read A Tale of Two Cities. It felt so different from his other books, and the atmosphere and tragedy of the stories really moved me. But A Tale of Two Cities also for me is an example of the power of his creative mind. Consider the ending and Sydney is heading to his end. While most writers today would simply have him say “It is a far, far better thing…” Dickens can’t stop there–oh no, he can’t–and Sydney is having visions of the future around the other characters, as if Dickens can’t turn off the part of his mind creating the stories. While for us the tale is ending, for him it is going on and on and on… That to me says everything about how he was wired as a writer.

If I was to point to one of his works as my favorite it would have to be Oliver Twist. Adventure of Oliver Twist in my humble opinion is one of the few perfect works of literature. Just a word out of place and it would fall, it is that perfect. When I have a son, to help him fall asleep I would read the entire book to him and that is after the bible of course.

Personally, if there is one thing I can say that Charles Dickens has taught me it is that I have limitations in my own writing ability. I cannot do what he does with plots. I just don’t have it in me yet.

I have read a few articles where people try to speculate what he would be doing today. Some think he would have a blog or be a self-publisher, but I disagree. If Dickens was one thing it was passionate about his writing, even in today’s congested market of want-to-be published authors, he would have fought tooth and nail to play with the big publishing houses. I can’t see him happy with simply having a blog.

Bottom line is this, Charles Dickens is indeed one of the greatest writers of all time.

Facts:
 1. Dickens was the second oldest of eight children. He was the father of ten children.
Lesson: Yes, you can pursue your passion and have a family. Nobody has time to write, unless you make time to write.

2. When Charles was twelve, his father was sentenced to debtors’ prison. Charles had to go to work ten-hour days in a shoe polish factory.
Lesson: Use your experiences in life, good or bad, not only to know what to write, but why to write. Through his storytelling, Dickens championed the struggles of the poor. Decide on a vision for your writing.

3. In the sometimes cruel conditions of the factory, Dickens experienced loneliness and despair at a young age, but he realized that these can illustrate not only the depths of human nature, but the heights of kindness and redemption.
Lesson: It is the character of a man that makes a memorable character, and everyone, at the core, is motivated by one deep-rooted universal desire–to be loved.

4. Many of Dickens’ stories were published as serials, hooking in people monthly or weekly. Each segment ended with a cliffhanger to leave people hungry for more. It is said that people waited on the New York docks for the next ship to come in, asking “Is little Nell dead?”
Lesson: End each scene, and each chapter with a cliffhanger to keep your reader turning pages. And, with electronic publishing’s new gateway to readers, I believe the serialization style that Dickens’ popularized will experience a Renaissance. Like Dickens, writers today can get feedback from their readers that can inspire their stories as they are created.

5. Dickens died of a stroke in 1870, at the age of 58. He wrote novels, novellas, short stories, and non-fiction..
Lesson: : You can make a difference, but don’t let time rob you of the chance. And don’t necessarily limit yourself to one style of publication. Write with a vision. Write now.

A Ramblers' Love Story: My first Love




I’m in Love
And here is my love story
It all started when I was young
My mom kept reminding me to love this man
She told me things that made my heart leap for joy
I felt something but I didn’t know what love was
I was too young to understand anyway

I’m sure you are thinking
Could my mother be bad
Why would she allow me to fall in love so young
Well you think wrong
If you’ve met this man, you would fall in love too
Anyone would and Anyone can

He is different
He never gives me everything I want
But he makes sure I get everything I need
Weird you may think
But everytime I’m alone and sad
He is always there to guide and love me
What more could I ask for

The funniest thing is this
My mum told me that this man gave himself for me
For me, when I wasn’t even born
Who does that?
He’s one of a kind, Ideal, perfect
His Name is signed on the cover of my heart.

My first Love, My living bread
He is the song I sing when I lie in bed
He is the light that makes me shine all day
His love for me has no bound
I am his and he is mine



“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent”
 (Revelation 2:4-5). 


Does your love belong to the Lord Jesus first? Has He absolute priority in your life? Does everything else in your life come after Him? Do you really try to listen carefully when He wants to speak to you through His Word in the Bible, and have true fellowship with Him in this way? Do you love the Lord Jesus above all else, even if you have lost everything that was dear to you, when for some reason you can no longer work or cannot move? Have you learned to love Him before all else?


Let me say again, our best, our first, love for Jesus, must come before everything else. If we let anything else come before our first love, then it is no longer the first love, but the second, or even the third. 




Unstructured poem



I live in abundance of grace
Don’t even have to pick up my pace
Coz in God I don't got to earn
But open my heart and willing to learn
I know the world thinks I'm crazy
Even some friends think it’s lazy
I know he’s the God of all history
I don’t care if to them it’s mystery
To love something so amazing
But I’m just gonna keep praising

You see the world promotes self
Whereas my bible tells me itself
I’m righteous not by what I DO
But by the blood that cleaned me full
Why then should I walk in darkness?
When Jesus brought me to awareness
So when people tell me to stop talking
Of why my life is so working
I just wanna scream more and tell them
I’m only here because I confessed him

So if you’ve got a problem with me declaring
That christ is the king I confide in
I’m not even gonna judge you or crucify you
I’d rather give you the word to see through
You know life in the kingdom is wisdom
Not a religion with division.
We are all one body in Christ
That’s the only way to unite
So if I’m happy I’m a redeem
That’s coz of a God so supreme.



Single, Saved, and Sexin ? NO! Christ ain't cool with it!


I read a post last night that grieved my heart to no end. It is called “Single, Saved, and Sexin’: The Gospel of Getting Your Freak On.” From the title to the contents of this post, the air was sucked out of me:

The post is basically about this : I’m single. I’m saved (as in born-again Christian). And I have sex. Unapologetically. [emphasis added]

She goes on to defend her choice to have sex, citing the oppression of women in the church, and the single sad lonely Christian Black woman phenomenon.  She concludes:

I refuse any longer to live a fear-driven life, based upon a set of rules that mete out punishment and reward based on how well I perform.  I think Jesus came to free us from performance driven living.  As women, we are no stranger to performance driven lives, which often leave us empty and unfulfilled as we try to be all things to all people. And then we turn around and try to do this same thing in our faith, and it isn’t working. For Black women who are already forced to be superhuman in every other aspect of the world, our faith space, personal and communal, can only be liberatory when it permits us to be fully human, sexuality and all.

Sex is a form of creative power. And it is in the literal fact of its creative aspects that we feel alive, fully human, and connected. I think God wants nothing less than this for us, and that requires regular, intimate connections of bodies, or at the very least a very regular, intentional and unapologetic intimate connection with our own body.

So sex is back on the table for me in an emotionally safe intimate connection with another person. Because marriage or no, I am clear about this one thing: celibacy is not for me. I need connection. I need intimacy. I need sex. Period.


My mouth was hanging wide open after I read this, and my heart was broken.  My first thought was, “MAN! There are a whole lot of “I’s” in that post!”  When all we can talk about is what we want and what we need, that’s a sure sign that God is not in the equation. My second thought was that not a single scripture was quoted in the entirety of that post to provide any credence to what she was saying. That’s the clearest sign we can get to let us know that what we think has absolutely nothing to do with the will of God. My third thought was, “Is this how I sound to God? Is this what He hears when I make a conscious decision to sin — irrespective of what the sin is — despite knowing that what I’m going to do is going to break God’s heart?” It was such a great post for me to read, because sometimes we need to put it in writing — or say it out loud — to see how absolutely foolish we sound.

This grieves my heart so much I couldn't even get through it all. But how I feel makes no difference, as Christians, what should matter to us is how God feels. The clearest way to understand how God feels is to read the Word He left for us, which you did not quote at all to come to your conclusions. There is a reason for that. Besides that point, here are some questions that might be helpful for you to ponder as you figure out what God’s will is for your life.

1) What does it mean to be saved? You say you are “saved,” but then you say reading the Bible there is no good news in it.” That leads me to believe that you can’t possibly understand what Christ did just for you. How He sacrificed His life just for you and what that entails. Ask yourself, what does being “saved” mean to you? Christ was beaten, bruised, and brutally murdered so that we can be saved from the consequences of sin, which is death (Romans 6:23 “for the wages of sin is death, but the Gift of God is eternal life). ETERNAL LIFE! That should be enough good news in and of itself! But that is only the beginning!! Christ has saved us from being SLAVES to sin. Meaning we no longer have to sin because “we can’t help it,” or “it’s too hard.” Romans 6:1 “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” What you are bragging about in this post, sis, is your dedication to living in sin, because God’s grace is going to cover you. But Christ has freed us from the bondage and death of sin!

2) Who is your master? Romans 6:16:Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and having been set free from sin, have become slaves to righteousness.” These scriptures clearly show that we are going to be slaves to someone. Our will is never our own, though we think we’ve got everything under control. We’re either going to submit to God, or submit to sin. You say Christ is your savior — but is He your LORD? The word “savior” is used to describe Jesus 24 times in the New Testament. The word “Lord” is used 747 times. There is a reason for this: you only need to be saved ONCE. What happens next is the understanding that Christ needs to become our master, that our lives need to reflect that Christ has saved us. That makes us different, and set apart. How are you going to minister to the world as Christ commands us to do in Matthew 28:20 if you are HAPPILY living in sin? He didn’t save you so you can do what you like, He saved you so you can FOLLOW Him and have life more abundantly than any EMPTY sex can give you (because that’s what sex outside of God’s embrace is, EMPTY!). Luke 6:46-48, Christ says “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say?!” John 14:15: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” PERIOD!

3) Where is your counsel coming from? Declaring “unapologetically” having pre-marital sex is the manifestation of submission to sin. Sex then becomes your master, and when you can sin and have no apology for it, no shame at all, God has turned you over to a reprobate mind, because that is truly the absence of the Holy Spirit who should be convicting you when you do wrong. Where are the Christian leaders in your life? What do they have to say about this? Do you have any? This is why it is so important that God says in Hebrews 10:25 “forsake not the assembling together of Christians, so you can encourage each other, and all the more preparing for the Day that draws near.” You need a Christian circle of leaders, sisters, and brothers who will keep you accountable to the word of God. That’s why the Bible says in Proverbs 24:5-6 “For by wise guidance you will wage war, And in abundance of counselors there is victory.”. God forgives our sins when we REPENT. Repenting means to acknowledge your sin and TURN from it. It doesn’t allow you to be “unapologetic”! You are not being forgiven because you are not asking for forgiveness! You are not repenting and you are missing out on what God has for your life as you continue unashamed in sin.

4) How hard is “too hard”? She mentioned that it is “hard to take the Bible as the Gospel truth.” Sis, what?! As Paul says, if Christ didn’t die, we are wasting our times. Why do you claim Christ if you do not believe His word is “the gospel truth”? Let’s talk about “hard” for a second. Let’s talk about God sending His only Son to earth to die for us. Christ KNEW He was going to be betrayed by his closest friend, badly beaten, tortured, and murdered for doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG. He knew this in advance. Do you think that was easy for Him to do? Even as He was completely God, He was also completely man and would feel the emotional and physical pain He would endure. The night in which He was betrayed He cried out to God, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” YET NOT AS I WILL, BUT AS YOU WILL. We have all suffered wrongs in our lives, we've all been hurt before, but the bottom line is that WE SIN EVERYDAY, we hurt God everyday, and He doesn't have any degrees of sin. Romans 6:23 THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH. ALL SIN. No qualifications. Every single day we live on earth is a blessing and a gift from God because we deserve death EVERY SINGLE DAY. So when bad things happen to us, we can trace that to something we've done that shows somewhere in our lives we deserved that wrong. But Christ died doing nothing wrong. Do you think that was easy? John 13:16 says “I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” Christ is our master. Do you think that if He suffered, we are too good to suffer? If He faced trials and tribulations, we are too good to face trials and tribulations? It is a ridiculous thought! And you’re saying what, now? Your need to creatively express your sexual self-hood is too strong to be overcome? It’s too hard for you to do?! Keep Christ’s sacrifice in mind as you ponder what God has called for you to do with your life. It’s not about you or me! It’s not about your wants, needs, or desires or mine.

We can sin all day long, but we had better not ever say Christ is cool with it, because that is a lie from the pit of hell. Do not be deceived! God is not mocked. In Revelation 3:15-16 He says: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

I don’t know about y’all, but I don’t ever want to be spit out. I’m tired of pretending the things that I do “ aren't that bad,” or aren't as bad as some other people’s sins. I’m tired of ignoring that my sin is BREAKING GOD’S HEART. Let’s keep each other accountable to this. Let’s continue to pray for each other’s strength in Christ, because we are in spiritual warfare. The devil is busy, roaming, to and fro, seeking whom he can devour, and he’s starting in the Church. We need to make sure we are on a solid foundation, that our faith in Christ is rooted in the Word of God, because when we are outside of the word, we can justify anything we want, and that justification will lead us to ruin.


Christ says in Matthew 7:24-27:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

So we’re either rocking’ or crashing.’  I want to rock. I want The Rock. And I want to want what The Rock wants. 

HIS WILL, NOT MINE


You know how I know when God is trying to teach me something? When I hear the same thing over and over.

I consider myself strong in my faith, but that doesn’t make me perfect. On January 1, 2013 I decided to radically change my pursuit of God. Of course I’m still nowhere near where I want to be, but I am encouraged by God’s pursuit of me at the same time. I am learning how deeply God is in love with me, with us. 

I’ll admit I am a bit of a sucker for romantic love scenes, both in movies and real life. I once watched a movie where the a groom performed a song he wrote for his bride during their wedding ceremony which chronicled how he fell in love with her, from the first time he saw her. He was in awe of her from the day he first saw her. It was a beautiful picture, but then I think of God feeling the same about me… Only even more extreme!

“THE KING IS ENTHRALLED WITH YOUR BEAUTY; HONOR HIM FOR HE IS YOUR LORD.” Psalm 45:11

Did you catch that? He’s enthralled with you, with me. So madly in love with us. More than we can imagine with our human minds. You can’t fathom it. You just can’t. He loves you and finds you worth more than you can even begin to understand and especially more than you can compare to some human love story.
So,that’s one of the things God has been teaching me, but there are numerous other verses that keep coming up in my daily life. To me, that means God wants me to know them, to take them to heart, and to obey them.

 They include:
“THE LORD WILL FIGHT FOR YOU, YOU ONLY NEED TO BE STILL.” Exodus 14:14

“BE STILL AND KNOW THAT HE IS GOD.” Psalm 46:10

“WHATEVER YOU DO, WHETHER IN WORD OR DEED, DO EVERYTHING IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, GIVING THANKS TO GOD THE FATHER THROUGH HIM.” Colossians 3:17

God is also reminding me that if there is something I am wanting, I need to check my motives. Do I want to be married for myself or for the glory of God? Do I want to have a high paying job so I can buy more things, or do I want a high paying job to somehow give God glory through the extra income? Seriously, I am reminded to examine my motives. When I finally am able to pray for God’s will in those circumstances, then should I pray for them at all. Until then, I am praying God give me a heart to do His will. I should be praying and asking for His will in my life daily (James 4:15).

 I am really good at planning. The funny thing is that most everything I plan never comes to pass–my plans are always interrupted.   This is simply helping me learn how to submit and simply ask the Lord for his will to be done. I am being prayerful EVERY STEP of the way, asking for the Lord’s wisdom, listening and asking for Godly advice from my friends.  Everything isn't clear and yes, I’m still making lists, but really those lists mean nothing.  I trust the Lord to guide me and to surround me with godly people who will help me make good decisions. So in the last months God has taught me:  His will, not mine; the joy of submitting to his will.  He has taught me so much, but I have so much more to learn.

Two other things have been made clear this past month:

1. I need to be still in the situations of my life – right now God has me where He is getting most glory. I believe that because despite my itch to move out of various circumstances He keeps telling me to be still. Stillness is not strength of mine.
2. God thinks I’m dang beautiful.



Phenomenal Woman Series: The Potential Husband

 


What should a woman look for when deciding on a marriage partner? Many women fall for smooth talkers, men who talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk. These women, spurred on by a desire to be married, are willing to overlook the subtle warning signs many men give off. A lady waiting on God, who values herself, should expect nothing but the best for herself. Sadly, because we have been tainted by what the media shows us, we often are a bit confused about what we need in our lives. Each individual woman, because she has her own individual strengths and weaknesses, will need something different from a husband. Most women, however, have basic things they desire in a mate.

For a Christian woman (Phenomenal Woman), these things should be non-negotiable:


1)Loves Jesus.  A potential husband for every woman should be able to articulate a clear and definite answer on his relationship with Christ, (not the unoffensive “God” or “the universe” or “the spirit world”). He should be able to tell you when he became saved and what being saved means to him (not the name of his church or the date he joined it!!). Yes, it is important that we are “equally yoked,” or on the same page spiritually so that we can raise our kids in faith, together and provide a more stable home.. Remember: you know a tree by the fruit it bears. If he loves Jesus, it will SHOW in his life: his words and his deeds!


2) Must Be Able To Make Wise Decisions. Financially, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, a husband-worthy mate is at a point in his maturity to make good decisions for his life.  This matters to you because his decisions will clearly spill over into your life. I dont want someone blowing his paycheck on a sports car payment he can’t really afford. Nobody is perfect, but my potential husband should be someone who is at least aware of his past bad decisions and actively taking steps to correct them and make good decisions in the future, as well as encouraging me to do the same.

3) Must Be Spiritually Accountable.  Who does he have in his life that he respects and listens to who keeps him spiritually accountable?   Men who are teachable are the ones who will consistently try to be better people/husbands/fathers and will not let their own pride or arrogance destroy what matters most to them.

4) Must Check Baggage! Everybody has issues, some people even have volumes. Having a past is not necessarily a deal-breaker, but he MUST be completely healed (or well on his way to being healed through God) of all baggage. As Wilson says in Your Knight In Shining Armor, “Beware of a man who has unresolved bitterness, anger, and resentment. It will inevitably bleed into the next relationship. If he has not dealt with his feelings concerning [his past], I will not consider becoming involved with him until he has received counseling to overcome his bad feelings.


Please note, “Must be good looking” is nowhere on this list. That is intentional. Isaiah 53:2 says this about Christ: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”  Jesus Christ, Savior of the world was not physically appealing, but people flocked to Him, travelled miles to be near Him, to hear His voice, to touch the hem of His garment because they knew that His love was the most beautiful thing they would ever experience.  Contrarily, Satan is described in Ezekial 28:11 as “the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.”  Need I say more? I judge a man’s beauty by the love he shows for Christ.

Dear Phenomenal Women let’s all seek a man “after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). The most important relationship that any of us have is our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. That relationship comes before all others. If our vertical relationship with the Lord is as it should be, then our horizontal relationships will reflect that reality. Therefore, most especially a potential husband should be a man who has his focus upon walking in obedience to God's Word and who seeks to live so that his life brings glory to God (1 Corinthians 10:31).