Just Faith

Faith is a gift from God. Faith can move mountains, even the mountain of addiction. Ending a life of self abuse caused by addiction will happen when you trust God to lead the way over, around and even through the mountain. God's "Twelve Step Program" begins with one easy step-believe in Him.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The American Evolution

Two hundred and thirty eight years ago a group of men declared a new nation to be independent. I try to imagine what it must have been like for these men to take this stance at at time when freedom was a still a commodity to be cherished. Two centuries later freedom is too often presumed to be unceasing, blemishing the value of this equity. These men we once called "Founding Fathers" were people of great character. It was in this character that their hope for the future was rooted. They were courageous men, men of dreams, men of faith and family men. They knew that to surrender to the tyrannical government from which they had taken flight was cowardice. Surrender would demolish dreams, cause faith to falter and dismantle families. Oh, what it must have been like to be with this group of men in the sitting room as strategies were discussed, consequences considered and hopes abounded.

Today, July 4, 2014, freedom still stands because of men like these who sat behind closed doors in collective thought and prayer. But so much has changed, evolved if you will.

Family, fireworks and frankfurters are the order for today. Little thought will be given to freedom or the cost to preserve it. We will dream of the perfect rib eye or potato salad without much effort expended on thoughts of the future for this great land. Common faith is no longer common; we are now taught to have faith in faith and to each his own.

Families are fractured. Scattered by design, the family structure has evolved and continues to do so at a rapid and unhealthy pace. I fear that the day will come when like individual faith we will have but individual families. Children calling out to their father, "Wow!" as the scan the heavens for colorful fireworks will be just an echo of the past.

This American Evolution is applauded by many and feared by few. Today tell your children the story of America before it is faded beyond recognition, beyond memory.

Today my own family is scattered. It saddens me greatly not to be with those that are miles away or just a few blocks down the street. Yet I will thank God for what He has provided, for without that I would be alone. And on this Independence Day not a single soul should be left alone.

Happy 4th of July to you, my friends and family.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A time to read

I found a rock to hide under. It wasn't pleasant but it kept me from facing life which has become unbearably complicated since the beginning of the New Year. The details of that which enticed me to seek refuge under the rock is not important nor what I sat out to write about tonight. What happened when I was hiding from the world is what I want to share with you.

I rediscovered a passion that dates back to my youth...reading. My book shelves are filled with books that I have read over the years. Most of them I have read once, some even twice before.The vary in genre, length and author. But theses books all have one thing in common, they are indeed books. Real books with pages, words written in ink, bindings and glue. They have an aroma to them that only a book reader would recognize. Pages dog-eared over the years mark past reading habits; I found they have changed very little.

In 1953 Ray Bradbury published the book "Fahrenheit 451", a futuristic tale about the burning of books, all books. As a side note, if you have never read "Fahrenheit 451" you should. From under my rock I considered that today we are burning books in a different way...we simply don't print them. The popularity of e-books has created a multimillion dollar industry. I have e-published my last few books without making them available in print; it is cheaper and easier.

I am guilty!

Books were meant to be held close when the words move you to tears. They were made to be tucked under your pillow when your eyes became to heavy to continue the adventure. Books were made to share and to pass down to our children and grandchildren. Books were made to line otherwise empty shelves.

You can't do that with your e-book.

So I had an idea, actually a number of ideas. I have decided that the book I am currently working on, the third and final story about the lives of the Goode family (due out late this year), will be available in both formats, the e-book and the hold it your hands and cherish it book. The second part of my idea, and the one that I am excited about (it is good to be excited about something again) is a website that I am building that will be dedicated exclusively to real, paper-bound books. There is still much work to do in the planning of the website, flippinpages. I hope to have the site up by weeks end.

The last idea was to solicit your help in promoting this idea. http://teespring.com/flippinpages features a t-shirt designed by me with help of my son, Joseph Tyler.

I hope this is just the beginning of an idea that will develop into something I can tell the world "I did". If you do nothing else, read a book...before they are all gone.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Just More Words

Over the last few years I have discovered that writing is addictive. And if one has to be addicted then writing is my choice of drug. “Broken Crosses” has been available on Amazon for just a couple of weeks. I do have an edited version that I am slowly working on after my dear daughter pointed out several typos that I overlooked on the final walk-thru. And I believe I have also finally found a cover that I like (see upper left hand corner), your opinions are valued so please let me know what you think.
I finished “Broken Crosses” very early on Thanksgiving morning. Surprisingly writing can be exhausting and crossing the finish line can have the same physical outcome as accomplishing the same in a road race. With completion comes exhilaration and anticipation of rest and relaxation. I slept better those few hours before Thanksgiving morning than I had in months. What surprises me now is how quickly the desire to write more returned. I told you it is addicting. For me there is a rush in creating with words. I do remind myself that they are just more words until someone reads them.
When the idea for “Broken Crosses” first bubbled up in my overly crowded cranium I was working (actually struggling is a better description) on the second book in a series about the Goode Family. The characters in “Broken Crosses”, Scott Kelso, his son and daughter, the nurse Anna, all began to grow almost before a single word was put on paper, so it was with little hesitation or regret that I set aside the series book.
But now the Goode Family is calling me again and I have started dusting off the words and breathing life back into the characters. “The Wooden Box” first introduced the world to the Goode family, below is an excerpt for your entertainment...enjoy
I was eight years old when Momma first allowed me to go to the Spit by myself. The unnamed fishing hole soon became my favorite hangout, even when there were no fish to be found. An eight year old can always find something to do even when there is nothing to do it with. That spring I had decided that I wanted to try fly fishing in the inlet. I had watched my father fly fish on the Russian River the prior spring. He had let me try it a few times that day, but the hours for fishing were short and he didn’t want to lose them while teaching me. He surprised me about a week later after we had returned to Homer by giving me my own fly rod. When he found time he would teach me to cast and how to tie my own flies. I practiced a lot by myself because Daddy worked so much. Before long I could perform a pretty decent two-handed spey cast. I was swinging my own flies before summer went away that year. Daddy spotted me one day practicing at the small pond on our property. He told me he believed I may have better a two-hand cast than he had, but the real test would come when I was fishing waters that actually had fish in it.

I sat out early that morning to head down to the fishing hole. The sun had just come up and it was still cold enough to see your own breath. There was still snow on the untraveled grounds. To get from the road down to the fishing spot you had to descend a pretty steep bank. That morning there was still snow and ice on the steep bank so I sat down on my butt and slid down, digging my heals in the dirt as I approached the water. Explaining to Momma how I got wet if I happened to end up in the freezing water was not something I wanted to do.

Fishing was slow that morning. It gave me plenty of opportunity to practice my casting. As the morning wore on I wanted to practice my catching. My young arms were starting to get pretty tired. I was never very big growing up and my fly rod was twice as long as I was tall. Casting over and over put strain on the muscles in my arms and my back. I was just about to take a break when I saw the backs of what must have been a million salmon as they crested the water. I jumped back up and grabbed my pole, and then with all the strength I had left in those scrawny eight year old arms I swept the line just above the water and watched as my fly landed with perfect presentation.

The spawning salmon are not really looking for a meal. But if you can irritate them with a fly in their face they are likely to bite at it. Well I made one really mad! I saw her mouth open and then close with lightning speed around my fly. The tip of my rod dove straight down towards the cold water almost bending the pole in half as the salmon turned, heading back out into the inlet. My fly reel began to sing like a fat opera lady as the salmon reeled off the line. The rate of my heart increased to about a million beats per minute. (A million fish and a million beats per minute, when I was eight years old there was only a “few” or a “million”, not much in between).

Then I made the biggest fishing mistake of my young life. I knew that I was supposed to let her play out the line, let her fight for a while.  “She’ll get tired”, my Dad would have said, “Don’t you get tired first. You’ll make mistakes if you do.”

I pulled up with all my might. Just as I did I felt the hook let go. I don’t know if she spit it out or if I just pulled to hard, but either way the sharp hook on that hand tied spey- fly flew right back the way it had come. I wasn’t fast enough to avoid the barbed hooked entering my cheek just below my left eye. The air was cold that day, even more so down by the water where the wind never stops blowing, and the freezing cold air had numbed my face. At first I thought the fly had just smacked me in the face. It hurt like the dickens. If you have never had your near frozen skin smacked then you can’t know the burning pain that is experienced, so take my word, it hurts! As my vision came back into focus I could see the fine strands of the rabbit hair I had used when tying the fly sticking up in my lower vision. I reached up and lightly touched the soft area below my eye, feeling for the hilt of the fly. My fingers found the fly and lightly pulled. The pain was incredible and I knew then that the hook had sunk in deep. Up to that moment I hadn’t cried, but then the tears came on full force. I probably would have sat there on my butt crying until someone came along if my own imagination hadn’t snapped me out of it. I began to wonder if the tears were pouring out of the new hole in my face made by the sharp hook. As my mind’s eye developed this picture I started to laugh, first quietly then out loud.

My laughter didn’t make the pain go away but the tears stopped as quickly as they had started. I wondered what my Dad would have said about me crying like a bumbling baby. I can’t remember Dad ever shedding a tear. His often-stated opinion was, “If you can grow face whiskers then you’re not built to cry.” Never mind that the faces of most boys my age were still as smooth as a skippin’ rock. But he wasn’t there to see my tears and I never told him about the crying part of this story. As far as I know, neither did Old Jacob.

You can own this e-book by following the link on this page.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Here I am...

After Saul’s life changing experience on the road to Damascus God knew that his outward appearance as witnessed by others did not change with the inward miracle of accepting Christ as his savior. In other words, those that knew Saul would not believe that this most unlikely man had been chosen by God to bring the message of hope entire world. Saul was a persecutor of those that followed Christ, those that belonged to the Way. Saul destroyed hope, he didn’t provide it! With zealous authority Saul entered the homes of Christians, placing them under arrest and locking them behind the bars of prison. If they died on the way to prison or died in prison it made no difference to this hardened Pharisee.
But God’s perfect plan included Saul of Tarsus. Why? Surely of all the believers in Jerusalem and the surrounding area, thousands by the time Saul walked down the Damascus Road, there was someone better fitted for the job as evangelist than Saul. Yet God chose him. Thousands of believers or Saul?
Maybe it is because of all the Christians whose path Saul crossed, not one of them witnessed to him. No one said to Saul. “Let me tell you about this man named Jesus.” None invited him into their home or their circle or their church and said, “Welcome brother, sit down and eat. After we eat I will tell you how a man named Jesus saved my life.” None said this because they feared Saul of Tarsus. Afraid they would be thrown in prison at the very name of Jesus. They feared for their lives, so they said not a word.
On the road to Damascus when a great light shone, a light like the Shekinah Glory, blinding Saul, causing him to fall to his knees, and then the voice that belonged to Jesus Christ filled his head, do you think Saul was afraid? Do you think for maybe just a moment he feared for his life? If he did, when that moment passed he said to the Christ, “What shall I do, Lord?”
How different history would be if just one early follower of Jesus had prayed, “About this man Saul, What shall I do, Lord?
As sightless Saul was lead down the road to Damascus another man waited. His name was Ananias. Now Ananias had heard of the stories of Saul’s terror. He had also heard that this Pharisee who hated Christians was in route to Damascus, granted the authority to deliver followers of Christ to Jerusalem to be placed in prison. And then God’s plan for Ananias began to unfold when the Lord called his name.
And he said, “Hear I am. Lord.”
Do you know a “Saul” today, someone so unlikely to come to Christ? Have you thought, “Maybe one day he or she will change, and then maybe they will listen to the good news of salvation...it’s free!” But until then if you see them walking down the street you cross over to the other side. Maybe you say a little prayer for them, or maybe not. Perhaps you think there is no room in heaven for such a person as this.
Dear friend next time I see that person I hope not to cross the street. I hope to say “Hear I am, Lord. What shall I do?”

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Last One

Have you ever said, “That person is the last one that I would have ever thought....?” Fill in the blank, it really doesn’t matter. I think we all have known that person that did or said something that was totally unexpected, catching us off guard. Their action surprises us because of our own preconceived notions of who they are. People who knew Saul of Tarsus may have said exactly that, perhaps even harmonizing like a heavenly choir;
“Saul’s the last one that Jesus would hand pick to tell the world about the gospel!”  
And yet he did.
Ananias was one who had heard of Saul of Tarsus and knew of the threat that Saul posed to all who followed Christ. The Lord came to Ananias in a vision and gave him detailed instructions of what he was to do concerning Saul. Ananias purporting to tell God something he didn’t already know said, “Do you know how evil this man is? I’ve heard about what he has done to your children in Jerusalem!” Ananias was a disciple of Christ; he knew that Saul had the authority to treat him as he had all other followers. Saul could pull him from his home and throw him in prison! Saul of Tarsus was a man that Ananias would be wise to avoid. Yet God had come to Ananias in a vision telling him to go to Straight Street, to the house of Judas and fetch this man Saul. Surely God had told Ananias to do something that he did not want to do.
And yet he did.
The story of Saul’s Road to Damascus experience can be found in the 9th chapter of the book of Acts. If you would like to follow along I will be discussing the many great treasures we can find in this story and how those treasures apply to our lives today.
But for now I contemplate the first question asked, have you ever said “He’s the last person…?” I think back over the years of my own life, to the time before I knew Christ as my Savior. I see the person that I was and wonder how I ever survived. I grew up in a Christian family, with a mother who loves Christ more than I will ever be able. Yet one day I chose to walk down my own road to destruction. I was too ignorant to recognize this dangerous path for what it was, so I hipped hopped along without a care and without a god. I look back on that person now and see someone that I would be ashamed of today, he (I) was so self-centered and self-absorbed that he (I) didn’t have time for nonsense such as God. God has so many others that love him, follow him, obey him, and are a much better person than I. Why would this loving God spend even a second of his eternity to consider someone such as me?
And yet he did.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Do you understand what you are reading?"

The Thanksgiving week is nearing its end, it was a good week. I learned that the words “abnormal growth”, as frightening as they sound is much better than the word “cancer”. My latest novel, “Broken Crosses” went live on Thanksgiving Day. There is a link on the right side of this page if you would like to check it out. (Please do!)
The good news from the doctor combined with the completion of ‘Broken Crosses” has lightened the burden I bear considerably. I have been slack in my blogging, using the previously unknown diagnosis and the around the clock occupation of my thoughts along with the final edits of the book as excuses not to write. So now I have exhausted all excuses and reentered the blogosphere.
My granddaughter asked me “Why are you always writing Grandpa?” I don’t recall the answer I gave this inquisitive six year old, but her question did make me ask my own—“Why do I write?” The answer is complex; first I enjoy writing. I have been writing for many years now, it was only in the last six or seven that I gained the courage to share my thoughts with a reader. Second, because of my faith in God; I believe that when Christ said “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” he was not just speaking to the disciples that sat around the table. His words were recorded for every believer to read and obey.
Now not all believers will “preach”, but all believers must be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks about the hope that is within. The hope that is within is the gospel. Not all believers will or can “go into all the world”, but the written word of the believer certainly can with 21st century technology. I find it incredible that the words I write tonight can be read anywhere in the world with just the click of a mouse. Now that’s not saying they will be, but I do know this; if I do not write about my faith then no one will ever read about my faith!
I am blessed to be able to teach from the Bible each Sunday at Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas. Consider this an invitation, if you are ever compelled to fill your Sunday mornings with good company and scripture then come join Thee Class at Trinity. My intentions are to combine the time I spend studying and preparing to teach with the demanding time needed to update this blog. There may be some redundancy if you happen to read the blog and sit in the class, but I promise to try and never bore you. It is a simple promise to keep; God’s word is never boring!
Currently we are studying the Book of Acts from the perspective of being an effective witness for Christ. Our study today centered on Phillip and an Ethiopian eunuch. If you would like to read the story you will find it in chapter 8 of Acts. Every week the Lord seems to place a certain verse or passage on my heart even though the study may span an entire chapter. Today was no different. As I studied last week I kept returning to Phillip’s question to the Ethiopian man, “Do you understand what you are reading?” [Acts 8:30] In this case the man was reading the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, the greatest place to begin an understanding of who Christ is. As I thought about Philip’s question I began to apply it to all scripture. The Ethiopian could have been reading almost any verse(s) in the Bible and concluded with the same question, “Who is the Christ?” The entire Bible is written about Jesus, by either pointing to Him or telling about Him.
But it is Phillip’s question that began to convict. “Do I understand what I am reading?” Not brain-understanding, but heart-understanding. Let me try to explain. I read the Bible a lot; I receive great enjoyment from reading the Bible and then studying the historians and commentators, men and women much smarter than I, and developing a better understanding of the scriptures and biblical times. Hopefully that leads to brain-understanding.
Heart-understanding on the other hand only comes when I open my life to His word. It is one thing to know scripture, to be able to quote chapter and verse; it is an entirely different thing to live scripture. Satan can quote scripture; I dare say he knows it better than you or I. But his brain-understanding is temporal, one day it will be useless. Brain-understanding makes us smarter; heart-understanding changes our life.
“Do I understand what I am reading?” Phillip had gone first into Samaria and then into the desert of Gaza. He did so because he was following his heart. Phillip’s love for Jesus Christ was so great that he shared the gospel in a land whose people had rejected Jesus and with an Ethiopian man, a foreigner, a man whose race and ethnicity as different from his own. “Do I understand what I am reading?”
Do I possess the boldness, courage and impartiality towards any man or woman to act as a witness for Christ, an ambassador of the gospel? Regardless of race, ethnic background, religious beliefs, social choices of that person?
I do not.
One day I hope to shed the old layers of prejudices that were a part of my old self. I do not struggle with the immaturity of racism, but I am still too quick to judge someone based on their behavior or beliefs. Today there are people that I know and love to whom I cannot witness because of who they are. That is simply wrong.
Thank God that he didn’t judge me first.