Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Diana Rowe, author of An Invitation to the Sanctuary
FQ: As I mentioned in my review, your third book, An Invitation to the Sanctuary, tackles a more difficult topic than the first two books, and one that is often overlooked by other authors. What made you want to bring the concept of “being in God’s holy presence” to today’s teens?
ROWE: I believe it is important for today’s teens to know that even though they are faced with a myriad of choices and places to be, there is a safe haven in the presence of God. It is there in His holy presence that they will find peace and self-acceptance without condemnation.
FQ: What do you think is the biggest misconception today’s youth have about coming to the Sanctuary?
ROWE: The biggest misconception that today’s youth have about coming to the Sanctuary is that many believe God is somehow waiting to zap them for all the wrong things they did. Some of the teens that I spoke with felt that because God is holy, there is no way He could want them to come close to Him when they are not holy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
FQ: I enjoyed the story of Mark and his turmoil. Do you think readers will see themselves in Mark?
ROWE: I think readers will see themselves in Mark because everyone can remember a time when they made some wrong choices.
FQ: You tell readers that Mark “...did not hold himself responsible for his actions,” which is a problem with so many youths these days. They’re not held accountable, and they in turn blame others. What can we do, as a society, to help them?
ROWE: To help the youths hold themselves accountable, they must first be taught what is acceptable behavior and what is not. The parents, guardians and caretakers in the schools and churches have the difficult task of molding minds so as to shape character. Thus, we must make every effort to equip the youths with the necessary skills to face everyday challenges. At the same time, each youth is responsible for his/her reactions to the various issues that will come their way on a daily basis. A good place to start is with self-examination. Example: how did I handle that situation? What could I have done differently without causing harm to myself or others?
FQ: As a mother, I completely connected with Mark’s mother when she asked herself (in regards to her son’s problems), “where did I go wrong?” What can parents do to help their children find God and by doing so, avoid so many problems? (I know there is no one, simple answer, but a few suggestions would help our readers.)
ROWE: As mentioned before, parents do have a great task. To help children to find God, parents can pray with and for their children daily; parents can model the love, kindness, and compassion of Christ in their interactions with their children so that the children can see God in them which can stir up a desire in the children to want to get to know God; another important thing that parents can do is to introduce children to Jesus through the reading of the Bible and worshiping together morning or evening or both to help the children to cultivate a relationship with God; finally parents should talk about the goodness of God and remind the children of how much God loves them.
FQ: As a Christian educator, what do you tell people when they say to you, “I’m a sinner. Why would Jesus want anything to do with me? Why would he help me?”
ROWE: Whenever I hear those questions from children or adults, I always make haste to let them know that God loves every sinner and He wants to help in every situation. He promised that if we call on Him, He will answer... (Jerimiah 33:3). So, everyone has access to call on God. Furthermore, Jesus did not die on the cross for perfect people because perfect people do not exist. John 3:16 states that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” So basically, God loves sinners so much that He sent Jesus to die in their place so that they can have eternal life. God will help each person just because He loves each one. God loves us even though it cost Him the life of His Son.
FQ: I enjoyed your detailed description of the earthly tabernacle/heavenly Sanctuary. While you took parts of the description directly from the Bible, it truly read as if you were there, down to the wonderful smell of the incense. Do you visualize the Sanctuary when you think about being in God’s presence?
ROWE: Yes, I do visualize the Sanctuary when I think about being in God’s presence because it is not a place to be afraid; it is a place where the love and grace of God awaits me and every person who wants an audience with God, especially when you understand that you are a sinner in need of a loving Savior.
FQ: Would you tell our readers a little about the “Mercy Seat”?
ROWE: The “Mercy Seat” is the place where God invites every person to meet with Him. God is literally waiting to show mercy and forgiveness to those who ask. Because God is the epitome of love, He created a special meeting place where sinful, scared, sinners can come and experience His love without fear of being destroyed or condemned to death.
FQ: I suspect many people have not heard of the “Book of Life.” Why is it important?
ROWE: The “Book of Life” is important because that is where God writes the names of those who accept Jesus as their Savior. Revelation 21 talks about heaven and how God has prepared a grand place for those who love Him and will live with Him there. The text made reference to the fact that no sin will be there, but sinners who are saved by the grace of God whose sins were removed by the blood of Jesus will be there. Thus, now is the time to repent of our sins at the “Mercy Seat” and be covered by the righteousness of Jesus so that our names can be written in the Lambs Book of Life before Jesus returns.
FQ: I like how Mark and his friends at school created the “Invitation Club.” Sadly, so many schools today are so secular that any mention of God creates a problem. Do you see this as one of the reasons so many of today’s youth are “lost” and without faith?
ROWE: Indeed, this is one of the reasons. I say this because God produces love, gentleness, kindness, peace, forbearance, joy, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Excluding God from the schools is a direct invitation for evil to come in. Meanwhile, the schools try to find solutions for the chaos they help to create. If you notice, whenever something devastating happens in the schools or to students, there is always a request to pray. This helps us to see that the school system is aware of God’s existence and His power to help. Fortunately, God loves, so He helps anyway because every situation could always be worse if it were not for God.
FQ: Ms. Rowe, thank you for your devotion to Christian education and helping readers find Jesus. Do you have another writing project in the works? If so, would you give us a little “tease” about the book?
ROWE: I have a few projects that I am working on. One is a compilation of experiences; poetry; and a “how to” book. I do hope to have something out in the near future.
Thank you for these intensely provocative questions; they are very much appreciated. I pray that my responses will be helpful to my readers on their journey.