Archive for August, 2014

There’s Something About Saying Goodbye

August 26, 2014 Leave a comment

goodbyeThere’s something about saying good-bye that can be both bitter and sweet, but, no matter what, it’s always hard. It’s hard to say goodbye to a pet, to a house, to a car, to a habit, but most of all, to another human being. I just spent four months with a group of people, and it was suddenly time to say farewell. Not surprisingly, it was hard.

When my mother found herself in a situation where she had to say goodbye to someone, she would inevitably quote Shakespeare, specifically, the line from Romeo and Juliet: “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” After reciting that phrase, she would throw her arms around the person in dramatic fashion—she was a drama major in college—and make appropriate sorrowful noises. This saying was such a part of her, several people even  referenced it  during her funeral service.

However, I am most definitely not my mother—at least, that’s what I tell myself—so I prefer to say goodbye in the same way I say hello. When meeting someone for the first time, I try to make a connection. What do I have in common with this person? Do we like the same things? Do we know the same people? Do we share the same values? Do we attend the same church? This connection forms the basis for our relationship.

I try to do the same thing when I have to say goodbye to someone. What do I have in common with this person that will keep us connected? What do we both share that would enable our separation to be sweet, or, at the very least, less bitter? With this group of people to whom I was saying farewell, our shared commonalty was easy because they were all believers in Jesus Christ. That meant we shared the promise of a sweet reunion someday. We knew our parting was not permanent.

Jesus promised, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” John 14:2. I have no doubt the disciples found that saying goodbye to Jesus was the hardest goodbye they had ever experienced. Yet, even though their farewell was excruciatingly painful, the anticipation of a sweet reunion one day made it less difficult, less bitter.

Yes, saying goodbye to special friends last weekend was hard, yet it was not nearly as difficult as it would have been had we not known we would see each other again. And, when we do, nothing will ever be bitter again, all will be sweet, and there will be no more goodbyes, because there’s just something about saying goodbye.


Should This Verse Be In The Bible?

August 20, 2014 Leave a comment

Bible QuestionI had one of those “Well, duh,” moments this morning when I was reading my Bible. It came from 1 Samuel 12:21, where the prophet Samuel is issuing a warning to the people in a kind of farewell address. He says, “And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.” I was tempted to skip over that verse and not spend anytime meditating on it because its meaning wasn’t difficult to understand—empty things are, well . . . empty.

However, the verse’s obvious logic gave me pause. Other translations—I was reading from the ESV—rendered “empty” as “useless” or “vain.” So, here’s my own paraphrase of the verse: “Don’t spend your time, emotions, and energy running after or thinking about useless things. Useless things—anything or anyone who promises to deliver you or to bring you profit—are useless.”

Even with my expansion of the warning, the verse’s original reasoning doesn’t change. The message is clear. The simplest reading makes perfect sense. It’s common sense. So why does it need to be in the Bible in the first place? Why is it part of Holy Scripture? Why is it taking up valuable space?

These words are here because, despite our knowing the truth, we DO run after empty things. As fallen creatures, we are running after, looking for, and taking in empty stuff all day long, just hoping it will bring us prosperity, just hoping it will deliver us. We need to be reminded NOT to do this.

Three verses later, Samuel tells the people—and us—what we should be doing instead, “Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart.” 1 Samuel 12:24.

Introducing My New Book

August 14, 2014 Leave a comment

Frontcover-for-webThis will be a different kind of blog entry today. In many ways, it will be shamelessly self-serving because I’m announcing the publication of my new book, One Night in Tehran. However, despite that, I ask for your indulgence as I engage in some self-promotion.

Before I introduce you to One Night in Tehran, I feel it’s only fair to warn my regular blog readers that this book is a work of fiction and bears little resemblance—well, none actually—to any devotional writings I occasionally post on this blog. I should also issue another cautionary note to my former Bible study students who might suppose I’ve written a Bible study or a commentary on Scripture.

One Night in Tehran is neither a devotional book nor a book about the Bible. While I’m a strong advocate of reading and studying God’s Word on a daily basis, and I read devotional books regularly, I’m also an ardent fan of fiction books, especially anything in the mystery/thriller genre. My love for such novels began when, as an eleven-year-old, I asked my dad for permission to read one of his library books. It was an espionage novel about the Cold War. From that moment on, I was hooked.

Not surprisingly, my debut novel is a Christian suspense/thriller.

One Night in Tehran introduces a new series of Christian thrillers featuring Titus Ray, a veteran intelligence officer, who is led to the Lord by Iranian Christians, while hiding out in Tehran after a botched CIA operation. You can read the full description of the book here.

Readers of this blog, who are familiar with Norman, Oklahoma, The University of Oklahoma, and Bethel Baptist Church, will feel right at home when they read One Night in Tehran, because each of these places has a predominate footprint in the book. Some of the book’s fictional characters may even bear a passing resemblance to some of my own personal friends and family—but you’ll never know for sure!

Even so, the plot of the book is as relevant as today’s headlines and includes Islamic terrorists, Hezbollah sleeper cells, and suicide bombers. An underlying question running throughout the story is “What happens when a veteran covert intelligence officer becomes a believer?” “How does his conversion affect his lifestyle and future clandestine operations?” Since most of the action occurs in Oklahoma, there’s even a tornado.

Click here, One Night in Tehran: A Titus Ray Thriller, to  purchase One Night in Tehran on Amazon in either print or on a Kindle device. More information and extra details are on my website, where you can also sign up for my newsletter and receive advance notice of the second book in the series, Two Days in Caracas.

You can view my author page on the Goodreads site, and I would gladly welcome you as a friend on my Facebook page here.

After you’ve read the book, if you’re so inclined, please do me the honor of writing a review on Amazon, and, of course, drop me a line anytime at

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