About Fylvia

If I could be a beachcomber who simply reads, writes and watches old movies all day, I would. Since that’s as far fetched as most of my other daydreams, I read and write and watch old movies in between being a working mother and wife. But it’s all good—God’s brought into my life more exciting experiences than a beachcomber could ever imagine.

Chasing Your Dreams (In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, by Mark Batterson)

battersonNot all great preachers are great writers. Mark Batterson is one of the few who are. Like my favorites, Max Lucado and Charles Swindoll, Batterson has the cadence of a poet and the wisdom of a pastor.

This book includes profound thoughts that are beautifully crafted. Here are a few:

God is in the business of strategically positioning us in the right place at the right time. A sense of destiny is our birthright as followers of Christ.

We’re inspired by people who face their fears and chase their dreams. What we fail to realize is that they are no different from us.

In the beginning, the Sprit of God was hovering over the chaos. And nothing has changed. God is still hovering over chaos.

Your ability to help others heal is limited to where you’ve been wounded

The premise of this book is that you can experience success and blessings when you boldly chase after dreams that come from God—be it those revealed in the faintest of whispers in your subconscious or those packaged in calls heard loud and clear. The book then goes on to prove this premise by shuffling examples and practical lessons, beginning with Benaiah.

And because I’m a sucker for nobodies who surface as heroes, I love that Benaiah and his lion-chasing bravado on a snowy day is the foundation of this book (despite reviews—like this one—that question the heroic details of the story). For me a story doesn’t  have to be accurate in order to inspire and motivate me. The storyteller and preacher in Batterson were successful in making me assess missed opportunities, while recalibrating my life lenses with a vow to make the rest of my life on earth more accountable to my Creator God.

In spite of the much needed motivation I received from this book, I did find that everything from the illustration of Benaiah to the contemporary examples to the practical tips could have been sandwiched into a much shorter book. The repetition of some content and fillers had me speed reading through much of the book. Other than this shortcoming, I really like this book and have passed it on for someone else to benefit from its encouragement.

For more information about the book from Waterbrook Multnomah, go here. To learn more about Mark Batterson and his ministry, go here.

And for the record, I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
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Making the Most of Life

Today is the day after Election Day 2016.

Today began with little sleep last night. And it continued with every hour adding a new deadline, more stress, and more pessimism.

My to-do list was not getting done and my creative energy was at an all time low. One task on my list was to find a creative way to tell a story. My search led to this serendipitous discovery! And my soul has been recalibrated.

Michelle Phan concludes her video, “Every great dream begins with a dream. And every dreamer has a story. So don’t settle for a happy ending because ‘… to be continued’ is way more fun.”

But you have to watch it from the beginning to really appreciate the end—which is not really the end :)

The Hacksaw Buzz

hacksaw_ridge_posterI was at an advance screening of the movie Hacksaw Ridge last week. As a Seventh-day Adventist, it was a moment of humility and pride to realize how big an impact my faith and my church could have if both are seen in how I (Adventists) live.

With today’s premiere of the movie, the Internet is abuzz and bursting at the #HacksawRidge hashtag seams—to which I shall add my own :)

Of all I’ve read so far, this one by NPR’s Morning Edition captures best the tenacity of Desmond Doss’ faith. It’s factual, straightforward, and bold. It’s based on Terry Benedict’s  2004 documentary, The Conscientious Objector—which was one of the primary sources for the script of Hacksaw Ridge. 

Here are excerpts:

A quiet, skinny kid from Lynchburg, Va., Doss was a Seventh-day Adventist who wouldn’t touch a weapon or work on the Sabbath. He enlisted in the Army as a combat medic because he believed in the cause, but had vowed not to kill. . . .

Doss’ commanding officer, Capt. Jack Glover, tried to get him transferred. In the documentary, Glover says Doss told him, ” ‘Don’t ever doubt my courage because I will be right by your side saving life while you take life.’ ” Glover’s response: ” ‘You’re not going to be by my damn side if you don’t have a gun.’ ” . . . .

Doss saved 75 men — including his captain, Jack Glover — over a 12-hour period. The same soldiers who had shamed him now praised him. “He was one of the bravest persons alive,” Glover says in the documentary. “And then to have him end up saving my life was the irony of the whole thing.” (Read the rest here.)

The first half of the movie tugged at my heart strings. And while the violence and gore of the second had me looking away for most of it, I left in awe of a life lived in complete faith and with a conviction that can never be shaken. And since then, I raised the bar on my own faith-walk.

Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales, by Randy Singer (Tyndale)

deadSome books take a good 20 pages to set the stage before actually telling the story. That’s not Singer. With him there’s no dillydallying; he pulls you right into the story in the very first page. I like that.

By the same logic, I would have liked to seen the lawyers die a bit sooner. Instead it happens much later, about half way through the book. The title told me they were going to die, so I wanted that pivotal point to show up earlier :)

The story itself is well woven and well told—simple and void of overreaching prose. The storyline holds the reader captive and the ending is well worth the wait. Some may find the sub plots somewhat far-fetched and distracting, but I didn’t. I felt they added to the development of the characters.

Although a pastor, Singer does not unnecessarily pepper his story with random Bible verses or biblical principles. Instead the characters tastefully reflect Singer’s pastoral persona: there are steps taken in faith, grace expressed in second chances, and contentment in living every day—no matter that might look like.

(I received this book free from Tyndale. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)

 

 

Humble Orthodoxy, by Joshua Harris (Multnomah)

humbleNo matter how good a book is, first impressions do matter. In this respect, the book fails: Humble Orthodoxy is the size of my hand and the thickness of my phone, retailing at  $9.99—that’s 16 cents per tiny page of the 61-paged primary section of the book.

On the other hand, the premise of the book is totally worth the price. On the cover, the subtitle of the book is “holding the truth without putting people down.” in the first few pages is this: “We need to be courageous in our stand for biblical truth. But we also need to be gracious in our words and interaction with other people.”

This is probably the shortest book I’ve ever read on the need for authentic Christianity, yet between every few lines is a home run. This little book is the slap of rude awakening many of us Christians need right now. Here are a few of these zingers, each of them worthy of the hashtags #humbleorthodoxy and #livelikeChrist.

  • “Truth matters . . . but so does out attitude.”
  • “One of the mistakes Christians often make is that we learn to rebuke like Jesus but not love like Jesus.”
  • “All of us should be less concerned with whether others are being faithful to God’s truth than with whether we are being faithful to God.”
  • “The truth is not our truth; it comes from God. And the ability to uphold it with loving humility comes from him too.”
  • “Orthodoxy shouldn’t be a club to attack someone else. It should be a double-edged sword that starts by piercing our hearts, laying them bare before God so that we say, ‘Forgive us, Lord!’”
  • “Are we giving as much energy to obeying and being reformed by God’s Word personally we are to criticizing its detractors?”

True to its premise, the book includes excellent study guides with applicative exercises.

All in all, this is a small yet powerful book that’s relevant to Christian living.

(I received this book free from Multnomah. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)

Monotony of Monogamy

A commentary I wrote for the Adventist Review back in 2007 when the Ashley Madison Agency had only a million or so in membership.

The Ashley Madison Agency “is committed to protecting and enhancing principles of personal freedom and social justice” and makes donations to causes such as civil rights and women’s health.” Basic membership is free and allows you to browse and observe; active membership costs $80 a month.

Behind the doors of this seemingly noble enterprise is a service industry fueled by its slogan “When Monogamy becomes Monotony.” It caters to married men and women who don’t want a divorce yet want an affair. One happy customer says I  . . . met a truly wonderful man. . . We have been together for over a year . . . We learned so much and will carry it on to our marriages.”

From Genesis to Shakespeare to television’s Desperate Housewives, infidelity spikes interest and conversations. Something about the forbidden and morally wrong is fodder for primetime news and hometown gossip. The media has given Ashley Madison airtime, albeit unfavorable press. Yet the more negative attention, the faster the agency grows: From just a few thousand members five years ago, it now has over a million!

The founder says, “I’m a marketer, filling a need in the market place” His clients are all affairs waiting to happen; he is merely providing a safe platform where they can be “honest and open” (about their infidelity)

Satan’s new approach is not to dissolve the marriage but to de-sanctify it and make it meaningless. He aggressively zeros in on the lonely and the discontented and uses books, talk shows, and therapists that promote self-indulgence in today’s I-need-to-take-of-myself society. As a result, what used to be taboo is now harmless indulgence. And it’s so easy for us to be drenched in self-pity and cry out “Poor me” rather than be draped in the righteousness of Christ and “not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Romans 13:14, NIV)