Smash All The Babies


A gutsy posting on a difficult scripture. Thanks, BJ.

THE RIVER WALK

psalm-1379-smash-all-the-babies

Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks! (Psalm 137:9)

Read: 1Kings 20:1-21:29, Acts 12:24-13:15, Psalm 137:1-9, Proverbs 17:16

Relate: Before I begin to write any post, I will always spend some time in prayer and then reading that portion of the Bible that is part of the Bibile reading plan. It is a devotional for me long before I write it out as a devotion for the world. Sometimes immediately a verse jumps out to me and as soon as I’m done reading I will go right back to it. Other times there will be a theme running through both the Old Testament and New Testament readings and I will work off that theme. [2015 addition: On occasion, like today, I will simply go back to a post from a previous year dealing with that same scripture.] As I was reading today I was thinking…

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A Brief Look at Heaven


Surprising (to me, anyway) was how little most believers know about Heaven.

Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely...

In this day, there is no shortage of confusion about Heaven: it’s one of the topics of Christian theology that innumerable unbalanced and unregenerate people love to focus on (that and angels, which is highly related).  There is no shortage of fools and frauds that claim to have insight into Heaven; what it’s like, the nature of it, who goes there, etc.  Also, the last twenty years or so has produced a gaggle of I Went To Heaven books where some clown claimed to go to Heaven and get the inside scoop (every single one of those people is lying, and I explain why here).   There’s no shortage of claims about Heaven out there, and it gets prettycrazy.  Try and survive a few minutes of this barking-mad insanity, which is shockingly peddled by the New Apostolic Reformation crowd (Just kidding…I’m not shocked for a second).

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A Spring Break Disappearing Act


Sarah is one of my favorite writers. She should be famous some day but that’s beside the point.
A flowing, fun read, this post.

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Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?


Veracity

A short, 5-minute video helps to explain why people today can still believe in the miracle of Easter:

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What’s a Good Deal?


My Reader Friends–
 
It’s the time of year that your mailbox and email inbox are overflowing with ads promoting deals. All are the best yet, and for a limited time only. It may make sense to take advantage of them–if you have a need for the advertised product. Since many of us exchange gifts at Christmas, a good deal might be in your future.

What better gift than a book? They are relatively inexpensive, readily available, easily wrapped, and offer a million new choices every year.  A well-written novel can take you on a vicarious journey with one or any number of odd, beautiful, dangerous, exotic, or unusual characters set in a time period, place, or situation(s) that you’d never experience otherwise. And all without the expense and peril to your young life. It is, after all, a dangerous world out there.

Works of non-fiction can educate you about a subject you’ve a) been fascinated with; b) know nothing about but which piques your interest; c) teach you skills or give you arcane knowledge that will impress your friends or give you skills to better manage your life, etc. Of course, it helps if the people on your gift list are readers … 

Following is an example of what I think is a good deal.

Ashberry Lane (yes, that’s my publisher) has discounted the ebooks shown below by as much as 80%–they all sell for less than a buck. Lookee here; you get the chance to save money, introduce your friends to good reading, and impress your significant other with your shopping acumen.
How can you lose?
Okay. But these discounts are only good until the 24th–a mere 8 days away. A keystroke brings each book to your Kindle. You check your choices out and if you love ’em, order the paperback versions to give to your friends. 
Once you’ve read my historical fiction book, Daughter of the Cimarron (it’s a ways down the list), I’d be grateful if you’d write a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or even on your downtown sidewalk. Most are four- and five-star, but that will be your call. 
Have a wonderful Christmas!

Get this ebook for FREE!!

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Ashberry Lane’s Annual Christmas Catalog!

For all the readers on your list

The Christmas season is upon us and if you’re looking for the perfect book for the readers on your list, we’ve got you covered. Contemporary, Historical, Romantic Suspense, and Middle Grade; print, audio, or ebook … whatever your reading needs, look no further than Ashberry Lane’s Annual Christmas Catalog! All ebooks (except for our newest release, The Memoir of Johnny Devine at $4.99)are on sale for 99 Cents until December 24th. Get your ebook today, read it, love it, and then get print copies to put under the Christmas tree!

Middle Grade:

This time-traveling science fiction story will grab young reader’s attention!
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If photography is JJ’s God-given talent, why is everything going wrong?
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If he loses a bet, he has to … we can’t even tell you. Let’s just say he’d rather lick a slug! (Free!!)
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Puppies, evil cousins, and a kid in need? The formula for one epic snowball fight!
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A pie in the principal’s face leads to an awesome You Tube video and an even more awesome food fight!
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The pillow fight to end all pillow fights!
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Contemporary:

Will they find the courage to follow their dreams and dare to live again?
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What if loving means letting go?
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When all is lost, what’s worth living for?
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When she finally surrenders her heart, will it be too late?
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Romantic Suspense:

When your beliefs are at war, does love stand a chance?
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Historical Fiction:

 Is there a love she can truly believe in?Amazon
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It’s 1928 … the Great Depression
lurks just around the corner.

 

 

He offers help, but can Anna trust him or his God? And if she doesn’t, how will she and Iya survive?

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He lives to fly—until a piece of flak changes his life forever.

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Can Rob and Maggie cleave to their faith in God as the devastating war goes on and on?

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Constant fear, piercing sirens, the darkness of war … all that fades with The Promise of Dawn.
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A Blog Interview


Writer friend Tammy Bowers recently interviewed me on her blog re my recently released historical novel.

A great new read, Daughter of the Cimarron

One great thing about long plane rides is lots of reading time.  I just finished an excellent book called Daughter of the Cimarron. It was a very special read, because I know the author, Sam Hall. We met a decade ago when we were in the same critique group.  I got to read the first chapter of a new story he started about an amazing woman during the Great Depression. How cool to read the whole thing in print all these years later. And to find out it is true! I loved this book and could not put it down, so I asked Sam if I could interview him for my blog. He said yes. Whoo hoo! Enjoy his story below.

Daughter of the Cimarron Cover Jacket

  1. First of all, tells us a little about your book.

Set in the Great Depression, Claire’s story begins when she is stranded in St. Louis on a traveling sales crew by her cheating husband, abetted by her own cowardice. A moment of outrage achieves what she’s long needed—and always feared. She can’t go home but she has to start over. The breakup of her marriage shatters her trust in a manageable God and ends her dream of a happy home with children.

Urbane and handsome Elmer, her irreligious boss, wins her affections until she learns there’s another woman. Heartsick and doubting if God ever forgives divorce, she flees to a possible refuge—home. Two men pursue her and she can’t decide which love is real. Her own mother doesn’t show up when Claire finally does decide and marries. The Depression forces the couple onto their own resources. Marooned far from family, they spiral into extreme want. With the Dust Bowl as the anvil, Claire’s in-laws become God’s hammer to make her into what she’s resisted … and desired.

This story, which is based on my mother’s life, portrays a woman’s quest for identity and it celebrates her determination and inner worth. It honors the dignity of people struggling to overcome. Beyond that, the characters question God’s reality while they try to survive the greatest economic and environmental disaster in memory.

  1. Why is this story so special for you?

It’s the record of how I came to be. All three of us boys felt close, very close, to Mom. She wasn’t perfect, but she almost made us feel perfect. If nothing else, I want my readers to get that sense of affirmation that she gave us. Claire sought to discover who and what she was; then she had to accept what she found.

Author Sam Hall pictured below:

sAM & bIRCH TREES

  1. Why did you feel the burning need to write it? 

A number of people who knew Claire well—close friends, Judge Lansden, a bank president, a teacher who later became a college president—spoke in respectful tones about what this relatively uneducated woman had overcome. (I’m now in the process of writing that part of the story as the sequel.) At that point—in the eighties—I decided to write an account of what my parents, and particularly, my mother, had done. That goal actually launched my writing career.

  1. What is the rest of the story, meaning how long did Claire and Elmer live, when did you move to Oregon, and how many siblings did you have?

Some of that will come out in the sequel, which I hope to see in print soon. Claire was getting ready to go to a seniors’ dance (she loved dancing) when she suffered a stroke. She died nine months later, at the age of ninety-four. I moved from Oklahoma to Oregon in 1968 and Mom came out to visit me—and my wife, after I married—twenty-three times. When I took my family to Africa for the two years I worked there, she was the only one to take us up on our offer to come visit. Claire was what we from the country would call, “a goer.” We had so many fun times traveling together.

I have two younger brothers, Dick and Jerry. They and their families live in the small town where I finished high school.

  1. When did you first discover you were a writer?

College freshman composition class. One of my classmates, whom I viewed as intellectual, said I got the only A in the section. I loved that class; it not only showed me that I could write, it exposed my vast need for improvement. Research was the tinder to light my fire, and learning to use the right word as opposed to the almost-right-word became a game.

  1. What’s the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading?

The Book That Made Your World by Vishal Mangalwadi and Foxe’s Christian Martyrs of the World should be in every Christian’s library, in my view. Oswald Chambers, Andrew Murray and Brother Lawrence conveyed their experience with the Holy in ways that inspire me to this day. Tim Keller and Ravi Zacharias form much of my apologetic while the writings of C.S. Lewis are timeless; I trust Christina Hoff Sommers for social commentary; and Jon Krakauer and John Vaillant (The Tiger) write the kind of adventure stories I aspire to. Alexander McCall Smith and Thurber titillate my funny bone, and Walter Wangerin, Jr. is simply remarkable. Beryl Markham, Sanora Babb, and Eudora Welty wrote with a passion and attention to detail that will forever keep their books on my shelves. Bill Myers and Richard Russo, each in his own way, craft stories that never disappoint. Stephen King is seldom a comfortable companion for bedtime reading but he is deadly eloquent and never dull.

  1. Why did you choose Ashberry Lane as your publisher?

Well, it’s not like I was on Mt. Olympus deciding who would get to publish my wonderful story. When my agent cast his net far and wide, I was sure I would get a contract. After at least a dozen rejections, I realized publication might take some time and that it might never happen. Eventually, my agent and I parted ways—amicably, I might add—and I continued revising, re-writing, and most important, I sought critique groups with writers better than me. Even when I couldn’t find writers with top skills, I realized that even comments from novice writers could be beneficial.

I’d heard that Ashberry Lane was a new press. I knew and respected Sherri and Christina, the principles, but doubted they’d be interested in historical fiction. However, when they set up their tent at an OCW one-day conference, I signed up for fifteen minutes of their time. They saw my story as the dramatic transformation of a woman—not as a tribute. Both sides saw possibilities and my quarter-hour time investment committed me—and them—to a hundred times that. They are simply great to work with. But lest anyone think they’re cream puffs, these gals are tough! Yes, they said my manuscript was mostly “clean,” but they still took hacksaws, cudgels, and a couple pounds of C-4 to it.

  1. Any advice for new writers?

Begin with something small. When your articles and essays attract editors, then consider attacking something more ambitious. But first, we have to learn to write. Get into a critique group as demanding and with as experienced writers as will put up with you. Bring back the chapter or article they shredded four times, if you need to, until the group says you’ve made it sing.

You probably believe God has given you a special ability to write, and if you’re reading this, he probably has. So be a steward of that precious talent. It didn’t come ready-made for use, wrapped in ribbons and damask. It’s meant to be hammered and heated, examined and caressed. You’ll find that humility and patience, faith and perseverance, are more essential than memorization of the Chicago Manual of Style.

Stay in the Word, regardless if you’re writing crossword puzzles (which requires real smarts) or thrillers. Develop a heart of gratitude. To whom much is given, much is demanded. Help others, as you have been and will be helped.

As we realize God has entrusted stories and compositions of hope and blessing to be borne by our clumsy hands, we can do nothing less than give Jesus all the glory. And give thanks for his patience and love.

Here is a link to purchase Sam’s book, Daughter of the Cimarron. I loved it, and recommend it for others.http://www.amazon.com/Daughter-Cimarron-Samuel-Hall/dp/1941720080

 Thanks Tammy, for the good words.

And you can see her blogs at TammyBowers.com

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7 Lessons I Learned On Offending People


Consider … are you easily offended?

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Defending ‘American Sniper’


A reblog of Steve Rose’s discussion of “American Sniper.” He quotes Sebastian Junger, who says “they miss being in a world where everything is important and nothing is taken for granted. They miss being in a world where human relations are entirely governed by whether you can trust the other person with your life. It’s such a pure, clean standard that men can completely remake themselves in war.

Steve Rose PhD

American Sniper

With the recent controversy surrounding this movie, I would like to say that those who criticize it for glorifying war are missing the point. The internal struggles represented in this movie are highly reflective of what many Veterans face in the transition to civilian life. Rather than taking this an an opportunity to criticize the war by demonizing those who fought in it, we should learn from the intimate perspective it offers into life in combat and the tragic consequences military service has on Veterans and their families. As Bradley Cooper stated: “’American Sniper’ is meant to be a character study, not a political statement on war.”

Despite this fact, I actually believe the movie is highly political, but not in the sense many are criticizing it for. Rather than a commentary on broader geopolitics, this movie has political implications in the sense that it demonstrates the nuanced reality…

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With My Pen Held High


We can do no less than stand for freedom of the press.
My friend Sarah takes her stand, and with this reblog of her post, I stand with all right-thinking people to affirm my support for the basic freedom of speech, of the press.

Author Sarah Angleton

penI tend to avoid controversial topics on this blog, and when I occasionally wander into cultures and histories that are not my own, I try very hard to treat them with respect. I have intentionally chosen to make this little corner of the blogosphere a place where anyone could feel welcome.

But I certainly recognize that people who engage in communication of any kind designed for public consumption are faced with the choice of whether or not they push the envelope into the realm of offensiveness. And I celebrate the freedom of that choice, because it means that when something needs to be said, it can be said in public and it can be considered by the public.

Yesterday’s attack on Charlie Hebdo was a terrible assault on that freedom. With the people of France, with the members of the media, and with all writers, speakers, and illustrators who communicate on a public platform, from the widest national media outlet…

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10 Ways to Bring Christmas Home to You


It’s almost Christmas, and you’re a long ways from home. In fact, you’re so far away that going home is out of the question. 

I’m writing this because that’s been my experience–more than once. It took a few years for me to get to this point but I learned to accept that where I was–that was home. Whether it is or not is not the issue. Facts are facts, and if you’re spending Christmas a continent (figuratively or physically) away from what you used to call home, it can be a downer.

So … I thought of a few ways you might explore to deepen your experience of Christmas.

English: child Jesus with the virgin Mary, wit...

English: child Jesus with the virgin Mary, with the Holy Spirit (represented as a dove) and God the Father, with child john the Baptist and saint Elizabeth on the right (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No, it’s not much trouble. It’s still the birth celebration of our Lord and Savior. Consider that you will be celebrating with millions of believers what the day means. Even if it’s …

  • You and your mate,
  • You and the other members of your military unit,
  • You and the other inmates where you are incarcerated,
  • You and the people in the care facility where you live,
  • You and your children,
  • You and a parent, or
  • It’s just you by your lonesome …

In reality: it’s you and God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son.

In fact, having other people around sometimes complicates our ability to approach the Almighty to worship him … to celebrate that holy night when Jesus came to show us what God is like.

So you adapt. Yes, the day is almost upon us but here are ten things you can use, to help you experience this Christmas in your special way:

  1. A journal. Record insights, a prayer for those you love, your emotions, whatever.
  2. A Bible. Prepare for that day by each day reading something from the biblical record the accounts of Christ’s coming: Matthew 1:18-2:23; Luke 1:1-2:40
  3. The Old Testament shimmers with promises of the coming King: Psalm 130:5-7; Isaiah 9:6-7; 40:5. Consider what these prophecies mean to you.
  4. Pick up a book of Advent readings at a used bookstore. Advent (the season of expectant waiting for the coming of Christ) began the fourth Sunday before December 25.
  5. Jim Bishop’s “The Day Christ Was Born” gives a journalist’s view of this event.
  6. Mary Phraner Warren wrote two wonderful books about Christmas: the children’s book, “The City That Forgot About Christmas,” and “The Land of Christmas.” We read them time and again. Can you find something for your children?
  7. Your favorite music from earlier times. Here, my university performs an hour plus of “The Messiah”:http://www.ostate.tv/channels/college-arts-sciences?play=EC858CBD-B98B-9A7F-9CA6-501D53084B10
  8. Gifts: for children or the street person who won’t otherwise experience the joy of Christmas.
  9. Christmas dinner: invite a new acquaintance to dine with you—in your home, or simply at your table in the cafeteria. Share with them what you’ve discovered about Christmas.
  10. Attend a Christmas eve service—alone or take someone with you. Be purposeful. Write in your journal what you expect God to do for you or show you.

A number of years ago, my wife and I and our two small children, Allison and Loren, were ten time zones away from what had been home as Christmas approached. While we appreciated the lack of commercialization of Christmas in our country, we wanted to celebrate Christmas. Though not from a high church tradition, we had found Advent readings to be meaningful, so began daily readings during the season.

We made our own decorations, which was a lot of fun. Getting a tree proved more difficult. Finally, we decide to go to a nearby town (actually an adjoining country!)  and found a spindly pine. It wasn’t much but it gave us a sense of the familiar, of permanence in accepting where we were.

We had our family and we were able to reach out to other people. In small ways, by continuing our traditions, God blessed us as we worshiped in our way.

Is there a way you could share the joy of Christmas with someone who is far, far away from what they call home? If you’re alone, what will you try to do to encounter the Christ?

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

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