Witness Through These Words

Thanks for following along with me this Lent
in the Witness Through These Words blogs.

These 47 Words through Lent gave me a lot to think about each day and I hope they inspired you as God inspired me.
Soli Deo Gloria.

it's a new day choose joy

Remember, Easter is our chance to start a new.
To return to the Lord. To be, renewed.

God became flesh in His Son, Jesus Christ and at the cross, He took all the sin of humanity on himself, bearing it in His body until He became sin and offers us to count sin dead and buried with Him, believing that in the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus came back to life, conquering sin and death in resurrection to give us abundantly life today and eternal life tomorrow.  Believing by faith in this truth we make the great exchange with Jesus and receive His free gift of salvation. Now God no longer sees us as sinners, but as righteous in Christ.

I love how Steve Thomason taught that, “On Easter God hit the massive “Restart” button on the universe”, and we all have a chance for a mighty do-over, to begin fresh, free from guilt and shame and live loved.

I pray that my witness of these words through Lent was a springboard for your own meditations.

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And FURY book two Echo is coming soon.

FURY Book Two ECHO by JL Kelly

ECHO should sound familiar. Book Two of the FURY series resonates with the aftermath of adversity after Jaclyn Cooper’s rescue and return. Recovering in her father’s house, her recent abduction feels like a bomb blast. The initial explosion of Eros leaving concentric circles of destruction. There is wounding shrapnel that leaves scars, explosive heat that burns like anger and a force of energy that leaves her strangely numb even as the nightmares echo like ringing in the ears. Then almost instantaneous there is the mysterious countering blast wind that fills the void with an equal and unstoppable force. Echo proves that God is the FURY of the blast wind, always counterbalancing and equalizing the force of evil in a believer’s life and through the Spirit’s sanctification, causing all things to work together for good.
In Book Two of the FURY series, Jaclyn Cooper is learning to accept the new normal of her life. To heal she must move through the stages of numbness and anger, to choose forgiveness over vengeance and realize the divine deliverance of God’s presence. God. With you there. Yes, even there. In the unimaginable horrible moment when He allowed the worst adversity to come against you.
Echo is the story of sacrifice, rivalry and revenge. It is the recovery process of finding the truth a midst the rumbling distractions of feelings and expectations.
Echo reminds us we all must remember. And in the Hebrew tradition, make present God by rehearsing our story in His story until we find the reality of the truth—God was always with us. Even there. When normal blew up and a new normal was formed.
Echo is the parable of how God turns evil’s wounds into victory’s scars.
FURY Book Two Echo continues the intense epic where two worlds collide in a gripping love story of rescue and redemption.
Echo is an intense and original perspective about the furious healing love of God.


Digging deeper to unearth the story of the FURY series

Very recently I’ve been called to dig deeper into a certain mystery God began to reveal to me. I think the experience is universal to anyone who has been asked to share their faith.

If you know me as a teacher or speaker then you’ve heard me say, “We have to know ourselves to know our God and we have to know our God to know ourselves.” I describe myself as a student of the philosophy though it’s not a very original thought.

Augustine would pray, “Let me know myself; let me know Thee.”

Calvin stated, “Nearly all wisdom we possess…consist of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.” Calvin argued that one could not truly know God without knowing oneself and that one couldn’t truly know oneself without knowing God, voicing the obvious dilemma, “which one proceeds and brings forth the other is not easy to discern.”

I agree, in fact I believe it’s a mysterious dilemma. And Christ’s first Beatitude as well as the first step toward understanding salvation begins with the knowledge that we are a sinner (know ourselves to be poor in spirit-a beggar with nothing to offer) in need of a savior (know our God someone who alone can rescue us from this condition).

So it became very humbling to me over the past month that I couldn’t form an answer to a question that God continued to set into the mouths of many people,

“What is your new book, FURY about?”

I should quickly know the answer to that question. I’d invested well over a year of my life in the story. I have a marketing degree which should help me sell it, but I was tongue-tied and my stuttering reply, “Well…ah, um, hm…Just read it,” wasn’t going to produce a lot of interest. And to answer with the theme, “It’s about counterfeits,” doesn’t elicit emotion but confusion and the symbolic approach, “It’s about the crucible of suffering.” Makes even me think, “Really!? … who wants to escape into a book about suffering, we’ve all got enough of that ubiquitous subject.” But besides a long pause of silence with the massive, I guess I’d call it stage freight to have my creative work in the spot light, that’s what was coming out of my mouth—babel. Which if you read Fury will be very ironic…

I’ve always said I need to form an AA type group, where I go once a day and have to say my name and “I am a writer,” because I know myself and I hate talking about my books. But that’s not totally true. I love to talk about the stories, especially when I’m in the middle of writing them and the plot is just rolling out or all twisted up. What I hate is selling the story—the business side of the business—the branding and the buzz words and the catch phrases and the mastery of a 60 second sales pitch where I hook you emotionally until you just have to read that book. Some people just have the gift and the confidence to pull it off like Billy Graham does evangelism. And whatever our reasoning, we’re much more comfortable letting the apologist defend the gospel like I’d rather my friends talk up my books.

But God says, “ah, not so fast to be afraid my friend, I called you-to go-and promised you I’d be with you to the end-so what is there to be afraid about. (Matt 28:19-20)

“We need to dig deeper and unearth some mysteries.”

Jesus was showing me once again that the greater the preparation the less need for courage.

Preparation first calls for training on how to prepare oneself. God uses words to train me and words are found in books, so off I went to be a student again. It was a refresher course on the fundamentals of story- Hero with a goal meets conflict that transforms him—and marketing—communicate the most powerful elements of your product/book clearly, succinctly and passionately to get the buyer/reader involved enough to buy/read. Evangelism is done the same way. We have to learn the Biblical truths, verses and the pathway and communicate it with a clear passion by practicing.  Yes. Practicing. That means you prepare and then you practice what you are going to say. Out loud. And first to a few people you trust for feedback. The first few times someone pops one of “those” questions—Tell me what’s different about you. How did you get to be a Christian? How can you believe Jesus is the only way? It’s scary, terrifying, totally out of our comfort zone kind of work to give a reason for the faith we confess. But we are all called to open our mouth and give an answer. And God has a way of ‘calling us out’, repeating the same question a few times until we get that He’s calling us to ‘prepare’ an answer.

As I organized my thoughts to give an answer about FURY I thought about my faith and how prepared I was to share it. I thought about the privilege it is when someone we’ve built relationship with trusts us enough to ask those intimidating questions. And I refreshed myself with my prepared answers. Remembering 1 Peter 3:15-17 “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience.”

I dug deeper to know myself and my God and the story that He gave me to tell in FURY.

I thought back to my own conversion as a teenager and what brought me to the point where I came up with the origins of the story of FURY. I told you about how I imagine FURY in my last blog as an attribute of God. But in September of 2003, National Geographic made a profound statement that unsettled my soul and later sparked my curiosity to create this story .

“There are more slaves today than were seized from Africa in four centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The modern commerce in humans rivals illegal drug trafficking in its global reach—and in the destruction of lives.” They called it 21st century slavery and it penetrated my heart as I read about the “estimated 27 million men, women, and children in the world who are enslaved—physically confined or restrained and forced to work, or controlled through violence, or in some way treated as property.”

I thought, what if that were me? Abducted and enslaved with no way of escape. Hopelessly held in an evil often terrorist system. And then I realized, that had been me. And you, spiritually. We were once held by evil, enslaved to sin, afraid and hopelessly lost people. Victims of a fallen world and enemies of God in dire need to be rescued and redeemed.  Read Romans 5.

So in a future not so distant from ours, I began to pen a supernatural story. . . There is an evil terrorist who abducts a beloved daughter who you might have come to know first in the story, The Choice. This daughter is loved by her father and quickly coveted by a powerful enemy. Like all of us, Jaclyn Cooper wants to be rescued and returned to her father but the world she is held in is unescapable. She becomes a victim to its violent culture and is exploited by a powerful drug called Eros. Enslaved by such evil, it looks hopeless. As her family prays, an elite group of warriors are sent to find her. Their commander, the Fury, is an experienced veteran of battle who is up for the confrontation with this kind of enemy. What FURY is not prepared for is the aftermath of the rescue where they must deal with the internal enemy of the drug Eros. As they are pursued, duty will call the Fury sacrificially to obey without exception. He must learn to equip and empower a civilian girl to a faith beyond what she can see as they face overwhelming odds to return Jaclyn Cooper to her family.

Evil has held us all, but God is furious, pursuing us with great FURY in this gripping love story of rescue and redemption. For those who long to break free. For those who need to be reminded we weren’t created and saved just to survive. For those in the battle who need to be encouraged by the Spirit’s victorious power. For those who wait that long to know God remembers them.

The FURY Series is an intense and original perspective about the furious love of God.

The Fury was inspired by the supernatural style, compelling characters and futuristic story world’s of authors like Ted Dekker or Erin Healy. If you look at the covers of The Fury Series you will see a tree that symbolizes the tree of life. As Dr. John D. Hannah teaches, “the Bible begins in a garden and will end in a garden.” Each book in the series begins with a supernatural prologue that sets the tone and the theme for that story. You will quickly learn that counterfeits-our enemy’s use of lust as the counterfeit of God’s love-is the theme of Eros.  Use this link to read the prologue and first chapters for free. http://www.amazon.com/FURY-Book-One-Eros-Fury-ebook/dp/B00OWPYUVY


The FURY Series by J.L. Kelly. An Intense Epic Where Two Worlds Collide.
The FURY Series by J.L. Kelly.
An Intense Epic Where Two Worlds Collide.


Fury. How do you imagine fury?

Fury. How do you imagine it?
It’s more than a movie or a book. It’s no myth.
God is furious in his longing for you. This active energy of saving us is His story of love in the story of your life.
Blessed are you sinner so beloved. He is jealous for you.
With great fury.

fury with how do you imagine it

How do you imagine Fury?

To David Ayer it is a Sherman tank that Brad Pitt’s character, Wardaddy, commands in the final push into the European Theatre during World War II in the movie Fury. “Outnumbered and outgunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.” Ayer imagines Fury as a war that never ends quietly.  So is fury that quality of honor and courage that is produced in battle?

In Greek and Roman mythology, the Furies were female spirits of justice and vengeance who punished their victims by driving them mad. These angry ones appeared as storm clouds or swarms of insects when the three foul-smelling sisters weren’t dressed as hags. They pursued people who had murdered family members, their fury besot to banish injustice. Perhaps in another story they preyed on Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It’s this character that famously informs us in his guilty unrest that, “Life’s … a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” But Faulkner took that ‘nothing’ line and made it into something. He said in his speech upon being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for “The Sound and the Fury” that people must write about things that come from the heart, “universal truths.” Otherwise they signify nothing. So fury is then, something telling to be penned into story and sang in a ballad.

It was Rich Mullins in his song The Love of God, who first had me meditating on the fact that Fury could be linked to love when he sang of the ‘wideness in God’s mercy.’ And recently David Crowder sang the words, “He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy,” Yes. Oh. How He Loves us. So. Oh…

God is Furious.
That’s how I imagine my Lord. And when I ascribe that attribute to God most people will immediately misunderstand me to be saying God is extremely angry. You link fury to wrath which evokes fear of a coming punishment because deep down we sinners all know we deserve judgment. So a God of fury has made you frown and shake your head. It’s definitely not the attribute you would lift your hands up and rehearse with awed applause in worship. “God you are furious!”

Instead you would choose another attribute from the list He has given to describe Himself. You would humbly whisper, “God is God.” Meditate on, “God is Spirit.” Teach, “God is Light.” Believe, “God is Love.” And then confess, “God is a Consuming Fire, a jealous God.”
And from that very revelation we discover the meaning of Furious morphs. The mere emotion becomes a visual.

We imagine fire.
And you’re back to fear, equating fire to heat, something that could hurt you, and the spiritual are thinking consuming fire-ah, the suffering of the sanctification process when the dross is removed, and others are just hell-bent on imaging fury with punishment.
Read on. I pray.
Begin to imagine energy instead of anger. “The fury of a gathering storm,” is how the Oxford Dictionary of Current English discusses the energy displayed in a natural phenomenon or in someone’s actions.

See this furious God as a gathering storm of energy and action. A marvelous, mysterious, endless energy. A holy pursuing wind. With no beginning and no ending yet intentional in direction. Just step out and face a storm. Feel its strength as it passes over you and moves. Sense its power. Be in awe and humbly understand your human frailty. Realize perhaps that’s why a storm moves in, to give us an occasional object lesson ‘to cease striving and know that I am God.’ A furious active living God who is endlessly pursuing us with a gathering storm of energy. Energy that is enormous in vitality and strength in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus is furious.
And I’m not referring to the two times he turned over tables and drove the self-righteous out of the Temple with whips. Christ is a gathering storm of energy and action. Watch him move to heal the leper. Hear him woo the woman at the well. Taste his wine and eat his bread given to you. Feel him lifting your face up to live forgiven. He engages every sense in His pursuit of us. Isn’t there even a smell of home, and it is named heaven when we come to know Christ.

Rich Mullins sang about
“the reckless raging fury that they call the love of God.”
Reckless? You question.
How reckless for the Creator to give us free will.
Raging? You wonder.
What can separate us from the love of God.
Fury? You understand.
Is not what you imagined it to be.

Love? This kind of furious energetic love is foolish.
“L’amour de Dieu est folie!”
Brennan Manning used to cheer, “The love of God is folly.”
Foolish this fury, to love so much you would die for those who hate you. To the world it is foolishness, not to us Paul preached. This kind of love is powerful. This kind of furious love is enormous enough to take on the wrath of God we fear and bear it in his divine human body upon a cross that there might be atonement. Reconciliation. Union.

God is Furious in His longing for union with us. God longs to love. Seeks. Pursues. It was G.K. Chesterton who first described “the furious love of God” in Christ. This love by its nature seeks union. Father. Son. Holy Spirit. A trinity of three in one. United. To love. With a jealous longing. A furious energy and action in direct opposition to all evil.

Oh? You’ve nodded. Agreed, because I’m back in your comfort zone of linking fury to anger, you’re afraid—of punishment and judgment. And it’s safer to stand with the crowd far from the thundering mountain top of Sinai and tell ‘Moses’ to go on up and hear what God would say. Because that gathering storm of energy and action is scary after all. Smart people don’t face a storm for an object lesson, they take shelter and pray. They obey. All the time.

No we don’t.  We sin. It’s a serious problem. And sin makes us hide. We’re in the cover-up business, I can tell by your designer label.    No, not Michael Kors, I’m talking about Pride or Shame. You’re wearing one or the other. Transparent people are criticized a lot by the way. And judged, another thing we never do, to anyone’s face. We just gossip. A lot. Check your iPhone if you don’t believe me. Or your Facebook. Is everyone’s life really that perfect. Opps, I’m judging. Where were we? Gossiping, yes. And God says He hates gossiping. So we’re also hiding. Yes, sinners hide.

And this furious God asks, “Why are you hiding?”

The proud answer behind their religious masks, “I am not hiding.”  Shame answers with a rebellious tone, “You know why I’m hiding.”

And God steps closer. Holding out a nail scared hand with His invitation. “My beloved, I long for you to know me. Come then my beloved, my lovely one, come, to know me.”

But we’re so busy. Believing. What we think we know. That God might love us but he doesn’t like us. In fact, He might hate us, because we’re doing that thing, you know, that he hates. You are a gossip, remember? See, we get distracted so easily.

And deceived by the counterfeits. Disillusioned by our religion and destroyed in the crucible that is meant to show us that failure isn’t final, it’s just a test to show us what we don’t know about ourselves yet. We’re not as strong as we think we are—another Rich Mullins’ quote. And we’re more loved by God than we could ever imagine.

J.I. Packer said it this way, “What matters supremely is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it- the fact that He knows me. There is tremendous relief in knowing that His love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst of me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me.”

God loves the worst of us. And He is jealous over us. With great Fury. He is provoked from his goodness to love His people and hate our sins, pursuing us with astounding means.  Pursuing us with this marvelous, mysterious, endless jealous energy until the great wrath that was against our sin turns ultimately upon its enemy in judgment.

Motivated by love, this energy and action of God’s furious love is in a battle against our enemy. Satan our ancient foe is also furious.  And very jealous of us. His rage is a fevered poison, a cruel venom of destructive lust. A counterfeit. For the jealousy of the devil is evil, to hate people and love their sins. To deceive, divide, destroy. To imprison with addictions and cause indifference with our habits. To make us want what we don’t need and need what we already have. Yes, universally we all want to be loved and we already are. God loves us. So our mind is a battleground.

And God is furious. Consumed with your salvation. He has come. Settled the sin problem just as He said He would. Given you a choice. To believe. You are known. The very worst about you is known by God. And you are still loved. Engraved into the palm of His hands and never out of God’s mind. And Love hates anything that would come against His beloved. He hates your pride. Your cover up. Your rebellious shame that won’t believe you are forgiven. He hates sin, and we should be afraid because God will judge it with the fierceness of His wrath.

Wrath is what Jesus saves us from. He doesn’t coddle the ragamuffins and say, “It’s alright sinner. Grace to you, I know you’re trying.” The ragamuffin knows the cost paid for the prodigal. He knows that fire is hot and God’s wrath is certain. Jesus sanctifying work isn’t weak or wishy washy. God is holy and He hates sin. Like a father hates a rattlesnake that threatens the safety and life of his child, He crushes its head to protect us. Christ loathes any evil that would pull people down to a godless eternity and it is this furious love for us that prompts God to hate sin with such a vengeance. The furious love of God longs for us to understand this truth. Sin separates us from God. And God in His fury sent Jesus to reconcile us back to Him. Atonement. Union. Peace. A battle fought and won. And the wooing of the Spirit says worship now.
God is furious in His love for you.

God is furious. How do you imagine it now?
With every sense.
Fury. It’s more than a movie or a book.
It’s no myth. It’s His story of love in the story of your life.
Blessed are you sinner so beloved. He is jealous for you.
With great fury.

fury is coming

The FURY Series by J.L. Kelly.
An Intense Epic Where Two Worlds Collide.
Despite the power of evil, FURY is coming. The great collision of opposing forces is made personal in this gripping story of the battlefield where both faith and courage must take their stand. And hope, the very fragrance that comes from the crucible of suffering, gives strength when God allows the unimaginable to happen or calls us to obey without exception.
The Fury Series is the parable of the counterfeit and the crucible.
Sometimes it takes a fire to remove the dross and sometimes it takes a war to make us understand peace.
Evil has held us all, but God is furious, pursuing us with great FURY in this gripping love story of rescue and redemption.
For those who long to break free.
For those who need to be reminded we weren’t created and saved just to survive.
For those in the battle who need to be encouraged by the Spirit’s victorious power.
For those who wait that long to know God remembers them.
The FURY Series is an intense and original perspective about the furious love of God.

FURY book one Available November 2014