Searching For Deliverance

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My second book, Searching for Deliverance, went live on Tuesday. I’m excited and a bit nervous about it. Here’s the press release for it.


In Remembrance


I’m sorry for the lack of updates lately. I’m one of those people who tend to shut down when overwhelmed. When there’s a lot on my mind I pull out my notebook and write out my emotions in fiction. I never know at that point if what I’m writing will end up in a story; it’s more just so I can release what’s got my head spinning in circles. If I can’t figure out what to write, I tend to do nothing at all. I stare at the TV not caring what I’m watching and not really even thinking.

The past week has been filled with disappointments at work and a mix of staring at the TV and a little writing at home. What brought on this sudden state of being overwhelmed was the death of an 18-year-old boy who was a very great friend. I’d taught him in preteen Sunday school at church. I’d watched him grow up. He’d just started his first job the night before the accident that claimed his life. And on top of it all, the newspaper can’t seem to get their facts right and didn’t even bother to dig deeper to find out the whole story.

It was a devastating loss for those of us left behind and only compounded by the paper placing blame when the investigation hasn’t even been completed yet.

I guess this is a random post, and I’m sorry about that. I don’t know what else to write. I don’t have any insight right now. I can’t find a lesson in here to express what God’s shown me. I don’t doubt Him, but I don’t understand this. And I don’t think I will this side of heaven.

My only comfort is that I know where my friend is. He was a great kid who touched everyone who knew him in a phenomenal way. And through all of this I reconnected with some of the other kids I taught in Sunday school. This has definitely reminded me why I loved teaching them so much, and how much I miss them.

If there’s anything to be learned here, I guess it’s a lesson as old as time. We don’t know how long we have. We don’t know when our last goodbye to someone will be the final goodbye. So, as my dad says: keep short accounts with people. Never let the sun go down on your anger. Never let an opportunity pass to show someone you love them.

While I can’t say this for everyone I’ve lost in my life, I’m thankful that I have no regrets where he’s concerned. I’m thankful that my memories of him will bring a smile to my face for the rest of my life.

For a little insight into this kid, he was an anime fanatic (much like myself) and a Star Wars fan. He’d show up randomly at our house in gorilla suits or full Darth Vader garb – complete with light saber. He knew how to live life and never bothered trying to be something he wasn’t. He made his own way and you couldn’t help but laugh or smile when you were with him. There were no cliques with him, no one too good or not good enough for him to talk to. He wasn’t perfect, but he was one of the most respectable people I’ve ever known.

Anthony Warren, the world may never know your name, but there are hundreds of people in Lawrence and Giles counties who will never forget it. May you rest in peace in the arms of Jesus. May the force be with you.

Dealing with the Public

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Most of the jobs I’ve had have been in retail, outside of a couple of jobs in a warehouse and sawmill. I don’t think there’s a working person who doesn’t know that it can be a stinky deal working with the public. The public can be difficult, nasty, and downright cruel at times. While I’m grateful to have a job, it does have its drawbacks. But something – the Holy Spirit probably – hit me last night with a character flaw: I don’t love the public. A heavy conviction for someone who’s been praying for God to teach me how to love Him the way I should. Jesus did say if you’ve done it unto the least of these, you’ve done it unto me. (see Matthew 25:40)

I love my family. I love my friends. I get along fine with people who are nice to me. But what about the person who glares at me because the price of cigarettes went up? Or the person who gets mad because they went over the twenty dollars they paid for their gas but ignored me when I said that I couldn’t set it to shut off because they were already pumping? What about the person who takes twenty minutes trying to figure out which lottery tickets to buy and what the last drawing’s winning numbers were while the line builds up behind them? Do I love these people?

I have to be honest, I don’t act like it. I get frustrated. While I’ve never openly be rude to a customer, I’m pretty sure they’ve recognized my tight smiles for the fake smiles they were. And it hit me yesterday that that was unacceptable.

“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same… But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and evil. Be merciful, even as your father is merciful.” -Luke 6:32-33, 35-36

Jesus makes it very clear how we should conduct ourselves with people who may or may not respect us. Sometimes it’s really hard to keep a real smile on my face while customers are being ungrateful and harsh, but I don’t have the right to return the same feeling toward them, even if I don’t voice it or they never know. God weighs the heart and He knows our intentions.

So my new resolution for work is to start trying to look at every customer and see them as God sees them. And if I truly want to love Him, that requires that I love others. For all I know, He might have placed me back at the gas station simply so I could learn that lesson.

I’ve also realized, though, that it isn’t a lesson simply learned once. It’s going to take a lot of prayer and practice.

Feel free to comment with your own experiences with the public. How do you handle rude customers or difficult situations with the public in general? I’m not above asking for advice.

Job security or God security?

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Lesson of the day: My trust is not in a job!

That’s a very hard lesson to learn, and it’s a very hard spot to be in. I’m a hard worker, and dependable. I’ve never worked what would be considered my ‘dream job’, but I’m a firm believer in doing your best at whatever line of work you happen to find yourself in.

I’ve worked everything from retail to food to warehouse to sawmill. After several years off of work I’m getting a little nervous about not finding another job. ‘Nervous’ isn’t quite the word, I think ‘stressed out of my mind’ works better; and when I get stressed, it isn’t pretty. (Don’t worry, I have plenty of people who don’t mind letting me know when I’m being a jerk!)

I didn’t make a New Year’s Resolution this year, which isn’t anything new because I haven’t made one in years. After so many times of resolutions not making it past the second week of January, I found them to be a waste of time. But I felt that I needed a change this year and considered making a resolution. In the end I came to the conclusion that making a decision would be a much better idea. Or maybe a better word is commitment.

So, January 1st I made a commitment before God to let Him have control of this year. I decided to lay it all (including finding a job) before Him and not let myself get in the way. I decided to change habits, such as getting myself onto a schedule that would help me become more productive. I decided to do my part while praying and trusting that God would lead me.

I was happy when I left the house this morning, praying that the Lord would direct my steps as I went job hunting. The result? One closed store, three retail chains who gave me looks like I was crazy and the same response: ‘Its January, no retail is hiring. We’re laying off’, and one store that didn’t even have applications, but took my name and number.

And my reaction? I’ll be honest, I didn’t come home with smiles and claiming that the Lord would provide. I came home mad wondering why God wouldn’t give me a job. Doesn’t He know I have bills to pay? Doesn’t He know I need to pull my weight? Doesn’t He know I’m putting a strain on my family by not being able to help out financially?

Yeah, not very trusting is it? Basically what I was telling God was this: I know You say You’ll provide for Your children, but You have to give me a job so I can provide for myself.

Only two days in and I’m already trying to take my commitment back. A few years ago I would have gotten seriously depressed and gave up. I can’t do that now. Giving up and going into conniption fits hasn’t really served me well in the past, so I don’t think I want to keep going down that same path. I’ve got to start trusting God in more than words if I ever want grow.

That’s easier said than done, but the Christian life was never meant to be easy. It was meant to be rewarding. I want to know God, and if that takes me learning how to trust even when I can’t pay the bills, then that’s what I’m going to have to do.

Look what the Bible says about God providing for us:

Matthew 7:11-“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Luke 12:24– “Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!”

Jesus said that we are valuable to God. Sometimes it may feel like He’s abandoned us or not fulfilling a need in the way we think He should, but that’s far from true. Sometimes my puppy thinks I’m being cruel because I won’t give him any of my supper. He doesn’t understand that what I’m eating could be potentially toxic to him. I think, in the same way, sometimes we want things that could be toxic to us; but God knows better. He doesn’t hold things back because He doesn’t love us, it’s precisely the opposite!

The important thing to remember is that He is sovereign, and while we may have to wait for something we think we need now, if we just trust Him like we should we’ll see that we have all we need and more!

Are you trusting God for something today? How have you seen His provision in your life?

7 Stories 7 Writers 7 Hours

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There’s no telling what is in store for us with 7 Hours, but it’s sure to be amazing! With contributions by: Mike Dellosso, Rene Gutteridge, Ronie/Veronica Kendig, Robin Parrish, Tom Pawlik, Travis Thrasher, and James Andrew Wilson. 7 novellas in one book! In addition to that, the authors are giving away a limited number of their books if the facebook page reaches 500 like today! So don’t waste time, go check it out.

Check out the website here.

And the facebook page here.

Post-Christmas Lament

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This was written in response to a post by Jeff Goins on his blog. I highly recommend checking his site out!

For as long as I can remember, Christmas for me was never about one day of presents. It was a month long extravaganza of merriment, fun, and the joys of family and friends. I never needed a boost to get into the Christmas spirit. It came easily for me. Until the last couple of years, at least. It was clearly evident this year especially that I wasn’t at my holiday best.

I watched Christmas movies hoping they’d spark something. I’d sit and stare at the lights twinkle hoping they’d bring a flutter of joy. And I sang carols often hoping they’d lift my spirits. But none of them really worked.

It wasn’t a bad time at all. We had our usual traditions and played games until way too late in the night. We laughed and ate too much. We had wonderful fellowship with our church family. And I did get nice presents from my family and friends that I know I’ll enjoy.

Maybe it’s all the commercialism. Maybe I’m just getting older. Maybe it’s hormones. It could be a hundred of different reasons or a combination of them. I don’t know what caused it, but the ‘magic’ of Christmas just simply wasn’t there for me this year. I thought for a bit that maybe it was the weather. I don’t have to have a white Christmas, but I like for it to be cold. Which is silly, I suppose. Why do you have to freeze to have a good Christmas? There are millions of people around the world who are in the middle of summer during December.

My mother commented on my lack of enthusiasm several weeks back, wondering where all my usual festive excitement was and all I could tell her was ‘I don’t know.’ And I still don’t. I’m not depressed. I’m not emotionally distraught. I’m simply not connected in a way I used to be the season. And that’s a sad thing for me.

Now Christmas has come and passed and life goes on. I’ll watch and enjoy my movies, prance around the house in my new slippers, cover up contentedly with my Angry Birds throw, and make good use of all the presents my family blessed me with.

But that isn’t really what Christmas is all about anyway. At least, it shouldn’t be for those of us who claim the name of Christ. It’s about a child that was born two thousand years ago. (Yes, I know we don’t know the exact date He was born on, but we set aside this day to celebrate His birth and that’s how I’ll keep it.) If I had the right reasons for celebrating, would sadness – or whatever it was – have been able to win over joy?

I don’t think so. I was looking for the entire month of December for something to drive my happiness, when quite possibly I should have dove into God’s Word more fully and let joy have its place. There’s nothing wrong with presents, carols, movies, or any of the other Christmas traditions we have. I just feel like sometimes the entire reason we celebrate gets lost in the shuffle.

What about you? Was your Christmas everything you’d hoped it would be? Or did you find it lacking? If so, why?

I Believe. Do you?


One of my favorite past-times during Christmas is the movies. I like the classics: White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street (with Maureen O’Hara), A Charlie Brown Christmas, Scrooge (with Albert Finney), and my relatively newest favorite, Polar Express.

I’m not exactly a supporter or a nay-sayer of Santa, and I’m not really going to discuss it here because that isn’t my present point. There are two parts of Polar Express that I really love.

1) When the conductor says: “Sometimes seeing is believing. And sometimes the most real things in life are the things you can’t see.”

2) And there’s the scene at the end. Our boy who’s been doubting the entire movie and fighting for something to hold on to finally reaches the North Pole. Everyone is cheering and exclaiming happiness at seeing the main attraction, Santa. But he can’t see him no matter how hard he tries. He sees the shiny silver bells bouncing on the reindeers’ harnesses but can’t hear their ringing.

Then a bell comes loose and soars toward him. The sound around him dims as he focuses in on the shiny bell as it lands at his feet. He bends down and lifts it slowly and this is where my throat starts tightening.

There he is in the middle of the biggest miracle of his life, but he isn’t truly a part of it. He can’t see Santa. He can’t hear the bells. Tears start welling in my eyes as he shakes the bell and still can’t hear it. Panic is clear on his face when he says tentatively and then questioningly that he believes. And then he closes his eyes and says: I believe.

Magically, a beautiful chiming rings in his ear.

Perhaps that sounds like a silly thing to cry over, but I’ve been in that spot. Only mine wasn’t so pretty or festive. I was dying for belief in the middle of an alcoholic and addict’s world. I was a ‘doubter’, fighting against the truth. I tried my own way. Then, finally, I sat in a heap of fear and longing, ringing a bell (or, more accurately, pleading a prayer) whose sound I desperately needed to reach the heavens.

And amazingly enough, it did. I’m not perfect now. I still fail, and always will. Honestly there are many times when I ‘pull out the bell’ that I don’t hear the ringing sound.

But God is faithful and just. He is loving and forgiving. Whether we think our prayers have reached the heavens or stopped at the ceiling, God does hear them.

Have you ever felt like that boy? Have you ever been, or are you now, wishing for belief and plagued by doubt? Do you feel that pain of being surrounded by believers whose faith seems to come so easily while you struggle?

Take heart. Valleys come, but there is always another side of them. Sometimes it takes a few days to reach it, and other times it takes years. But holding tight to faith in God will never fail.

Hebrews 11:6- And without faith it is impossible to please him(God), for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (ESV)

It’s a command followed by a promise. We believe and seek Him, and He will reward us.

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