Month: February 2016

What Are You Reading?

What have you been reading in February?

What Christian fiction have you been reading over the last month? And what are you planning to read in March? Here are my recommended reads from February, and what I’ll be reading in March.
What I've been reading - Feb 2016

The best novels I’ve read over the last couple of months were:

Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke (click here to read my review)

When Fall Fades by Amy Leigh Simpson (click here to read my review)

If I Run by Terri Blackstock (click here to read my review)

The Goodbye Bride by Denise Hunter (click here to read my review)

And I’ve got some great authors on my list to read and review in March, including Flirtation Walk by Siri Mitchell, Playing the Part by Jen Turano, Grime Spree by Marji Lane and Life Support by Candace Calvert.

And two local authors: The Pounamu Prophecy, the debut novel from Kiwi author Cindy Williams, and Replicate by Adele Jones.

What are you planning to read in March?

The Pursuit of . . . Sin?

Pursuit of Sin

As you may know, in my ‘other’ life I’m a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction. I’ve recently finished a manuscript assessment for Australian author Jo Wanmer, and while it’s still a draft full of spelling mistakes and missing commas, the powerful Christian message is shining through.

One of the main threads in the novel is the relationship between Milly, the main character, and God. Jo Wanmer shows God speaking directly to Milly, and I thought many of the conversations were excellent as they show how God desires a relationship with us, and how that means being real with Him (Milly rages at Him, blames Him, and doesn’t mince words in her conversations with Him). It also shows God has a sense of humour, which some readers might find a little irreverent but which I loved.

One snippet from one conversation in particular struck me (with God in bold):

Such is the consequence of man’s decision to choose knowledge instead of relationship with me.
I thought mankind sinned?
That’s what I said.

Now, I’ve read Genesis. In several versions of the Bible. I understand Adam and Eve’s sin wasn’t nakedness (covering themselves was a physical gesture of a spiritual problem, trying to cover their sin). Their sin was disobedience, in eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil after they had specifically been told not to eat fruit from that one tree. They were tempted by the devil, and gave in to that temptation.

But this short excerpt from Jo’s novel brought their sin home in a new way: their sin was the pursuit of knowledge. They wanted that knowledge enough to disobey God. To break that relationship with God, through their disobedience.

And they both chose this, Adam as well as Eve. Eve didn’t force the fruit down his throat. He took it willingly, perhaps because he wanted that knowledge, or perhaps because he wanted to please Eve more than he wanted to please God.

It wasn’t just the pursuit of knowledge—there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with pursuing knowledge, even though Solomon describes knowledge as vanity. Meaningless. Futile.


The problem was choosing the pursuit of knowledge over the pursuit of relationship with God, with Jesus.

That’s sin.

It’s a sin we see in the world around us all the time.

There are other, similar, sins. For example, when writing to Timothy, Paul says the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim 6:10). He didn’t say money is the root of all evil, but the love of money.

It’s like the love of knowledge.

The love of money leads us to pursue money when we should be pursuing relationship with Jesus.

Earning money, having money, isn’t wrong. It isn’t sin. But loving and pursuing money to the exclusion of relationship with Jesus is wrong. It is sin.

And happiness. Many people in the Western world believe the purpose of life is the pursuit of happiness. Hey, it’s even the title of a movie. Trying to be happy isn’t wrong—it sure beats trying to be unhappy. But pursuing happiness at the expense of relationship with Jesus is wrong. It is sin.

As Jesus says:


Seek God first. Jesus first.
Anything else is sin.

Seek relationship with Jesus. Then the other things will be added to us. But not as some kind of if-you-do-x-God-will-give-you-y pseudo prosperity doctrine. Seek God first. Because anything else is sin.

Seek God first. Then the other things will be added to us. Those other things might be knowledge, money, happiness. But they might also be health, home, joy. And like Paul, we must learn to be content, to accept His gifts and not seek senselessly after knowledge, money, happiness or anything else. In that we will find God’s joy.

Everything else is meaningless.

Thunderbirds Are Go!

During the Christmas holidays, our family visited Weta Workshop in Wellington. As well as being the home of hobbits and all things Lord of the Rings, it is also the studio for the reimagined Thunderbirds TV series, which combines traditional model sets with digital animation.

For those of you who have suffered a deprived upbringing, Thunderbirds was a 1960’s TV show brought to the screens by husband and wife team Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, using their original puppets and the wonders of Supermarionation. The Thunderbirds are the Tracy brothers, Scott, John, Virgil, Gordon, and Alan, who travel the world in their high-tech machines, saving the lives of those caught in disasters.

The 1960’s series has now been reimagined by Richard Taylor of Weta Worskhops, and we were privileged to be able to see inside the magic of Tracy Island. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take any photographs because the images are all copyright (and because we actually got a sneak peek at some of the as-yet-unseen sets from the upcoming second series). However, I did find some cool images on Google from various promotions for the show:

Thunderbirds Are Go 1

Thunderbirds Are Go - Tracy Island ©2015 ITV Studois/ Pukeko Pictures
Thunderbirds Are Go – Tracy Island ©2015 ITV Studios/ Pukeko Pictures

There were two things about Thunderbirds Are Go! which surprised me.

The first was that Thunderbirds Are Go! is more than just a Weta Workshops production. It’s actually a joint production between Pukeko Pictures (part-owned by Richard Taylor of Weta Workshops) and ITV Studios. Weta Workshops has constructed the sets, including two different versions of Tracy Island (as an aside,the books on the shelf are all real current books. Our guide made them, using book covers she downloaded from the internet).

But it’s not solely a Kiwi production. This version has digitised characters, not puppets, and the animation is done offshore. As are the scripts. And the voices. The New Zealand end of the show brings everything together, but it’s a global effort (kind of like writing a book).

The second thing was even more surprising. It was the sets. They looked great even under the standard lighting. I could see they’d look even better under proper studio lighting.

But they were made of junk.

Not everything was junk, but there was a lot of junk, and our guide took a lot of pleasure in pointing out all the junk.

For example, The Hood is the main evildoer in Thunderbirds. He’s got longstanding issues with the Tracy family. And because he’s a bad guy, he has a lair that’s largely decorated in shades of black and grey.

It’s junk.

The Hood’s lair includes the insides of two washing machines, the casings of old desktop computers (from back when computer screens were as deep as they were wide), razor blades, fans, the leftover plastic bits from after you’ve constructed a model airplane . . . junk.

But add a fair dose of creativity, a few dozen cans of spray paint and some clever lighting, and you’ve got an ultra-cool lair fit for an evildoer. All from junk I’d have chucked out years ago.

It made me think of us. And God.

Sometimes we think we’re junk. That there’s nothing useful in us. That we’re only good for the rubbish tip.

But we’re God’s junk. He redesigns us, repurposes us, redirects us. Shines His light into us.

And turn us into ultra-cool sons and daughters fit for the King.