I 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.
This 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 www.luanaehrlich.com, where you can also sign up for my newsletter and receive advance notice of the second book in the series, Two Days in Caracas.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org