Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

How’s This For A Name?

February 16, 2016 Leave a comment

Name BadgeDeciding what to name a child can be challenging. I’ve passed the stage of needing to think about naming babies. Instead, I’m faced with what to name a character in a book, and that too can prove challenging.

When a character enters a scene, the person’s name usually pops in my head at the same time. However, before accepting this moniker as the appropriate tag for the person, I do a little research just to make sure it isn’t the name of a celebrity or a politician or some other famous person.

I also want a villain’s name  to sound . . . well . . . villainous, and a strong character to have a strong sounding name. Think “Rocky” and you get the picture.

The Bible is full of great names for both babies  and characters. These are names that have been around for thousands of years, and have quite literally stood the test of time. But, there are many “one time use” names in the Bible as well.

For instance, in the book of Hosea, God instructs a prophet to name his daughter “No Mercy” (Hosea 1:6). The son who came later was named “Not My People” (Hosea 1:9). The Hebrew names Lo-ruhama and Lo-ammi never quite caught on as popular names for offspring, but those names portrayed the message God was endeavoring to send His people at that time.

In the book of Ruth, a widow named Naomi, who also lost two sons, decided she wanted to be called Bitter. The Hebrew word was mara, and she wanted her name changed to Mara because she said, “the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20).

If you wanted a name to reflect how God has dealt with you, what would you call yourself? Mine would be blessed. Just call me Blessed.



New Release: Two Days in Caracas, A Titus Ray Thriller

June 17, 2015 1 comment

3 d smallToday I’m announcing the release of the second book in the Titus Ray Thriller Series, Two Days in Caracas.

My first Christian fiction novel, One Night in Tehran, introduced Titus Alan Ray, a CIA intelligence officer, who is brought to faith in Christ after hiding out with a group of Iranian Christians in Tehran, Iran. Their unwavering faith so touched his heart, he was compelled to make his own commitment to Christ, thus beginning a journey more mystifying, yet more rewarding, than any of his previous missions.

In Book 1, Titus tries taking his first “baby steps” in his faith walk when he attempts to pray before a debriefing on his blown mission to Tehran. He fails miserably, but he doesn’t give up. After he learns he’s been targeted by a Hezbollah assassin and arrives in Norman, Oklahoma (no spoilers here, but his visit to Oklahoma was not his choice), he decides it might be a good idea to start reading the Bible. His venture into a Christian bookstore to purchase a Bible is a nerve-wracking experience for this hardened covert officer. This event is followed by his first visit to a church worship service, where he encounters people who want to shake his hand and other strange phenomenon, including a new type of vocabulary he must learn.

In the midst of figuring out what it means to be a follower of Christ, Titus gets involved in a murder, meets a beautiful, local detective—who is also a believer—and tries to evade Ahmed Al-Amin, the Hezbollah assassin who wants to murder him.

In Book 2, Titus Ray, travels from Costa Rica to Venezuela in an effort to stop Ahmed Al-Amin from assassinating a high-profile government official. Along the way, a family crisis jeopardizes his mission, and an Agency division head threatens to destroy his career. As the danger mounts, he’s forced to partner with an untested operative to complete the mission and bring Ahmed to justice.

In this second book, Titus is thrust into several situations where he’s faced with the need to offer forgiveness for past sins. These are gut-wrenching episodes, and he’s not always successful. Then, when he encounters a physically debilitating crisis in the midst of his mission, he reaches out to God to provide the answer and, what happens next, is something many new believers in Christ often experience for themselves.

Because this blog is mostly devoted to insights into God’s Word, here are some of Titus’ own words after reading his Bible one morning during his latest mission.

My self-analysis did little to lighten my mood, so I opened the drawer of the nightstand and pulled out the hotel’s Bible. It fell open to Psalm 42. After reading a few verses, I realized whoever had written the psalm had experienced the same emotions I was having.

He said his soul was downcast, and that’s exactly how I felt.

Unlike me, though, he had the solution.

He advised, “Put your hope in God.”

Feeling foolish because I hadn’t considered this, I bowed my head. (Titus Ray, Two Days in Caracas, Chapter 20).

Two Days in Caracas will release on Amazon on June 26th. The Kindle copy is available now for preorder, and you can order the print copy on June 26th. Many of my readers have said One Night in Tehran is an non-intimidating way of sharing the gospel with unbelievers. I pray Two Days in Caracas will also open up witnessing opportunities, while, at the same time, providing readers with a fast-paced, pulse-racing thriller full of intrigue, romance and suspense.

Link to Two Days in Caracas on Amazon.




“Look Inside” What’s That All About?

October 9, 2014 Leave a comment

Look Inside 2I recently read a blog post  in which the writer said she never read reviews of the books she was interested in, nor did she read the book blurbs in the descriptions of the book. All she cared about was the free excerpt offered by the author or publication site.

Most books listed on Amazon have this feature. It’s called “Look Inside” and it provides any potential book purchaser the opportunity to read the prologue or first ten percent of a book at no charge. When book buyers are surveyed after making a purchase, the “Look Inside” aspect appears to play a significant role in determining whether the book was added to their cart or not.

In fact, some websites now specialize in creating little gizmos an author can put on websites and blogs that make previewing a book an exciting experience, mimicking the actual turning of pages from a real book. (Both my website and this blog contain one of these widgets.)

In reality, every Sunday morning, pastors and Bible teachers all around the world are trying to entice readers to “Look Inside” when they open up the Bible to teach and preach. For approximately thirty minutes, these men and women are providing excerpts from one or several books in the Bible, hoping their lessons or sermons will serve up an appetizer and their listeners will return to their private lives ready to dive into the main course.

Many who use social media like Facebook and Twitter or who blog do the same thing whenever they share a Bible verse. Such posts say, “Look Inside,” there’s something worth reading here. I believe such practices are Biblically based and will be blessed.

The Bible itself urges potential readers to “Look Inside.” Psalm 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good.”

Is It A Real Book If It Doesn’t Have Any Pictures?

October 2, 2014 Leave a comment

Picture Book 1The following question was posed by a young child to his grandmother when she allowed him to hold my recently released Christian fiction novel, One Night in Tehran. He quickly thumbed through the pages, handed it back to her with a note of disgust in his voice, and asked, “How can it be a real book if it doesn’t have any pictures?”

Good question.

My book is  full of words. There are no pictures. Can it be a real book then?

Authors who write books for young children use more images than words in their story because a child hasn’t learned to associate the printed letters on a page with objects, events, people, or emotions,. By “reading” such a book, the maturing child will gradually make the transition to fewer images and more words, eventually ending up with a book with no pictures, just words.

However, more mature readers still enjoy having pictures to help them visualize what they’re reading. I believe Jesus fully understood our innate desire to “picture” a concept through common objects. In fact, he constantly used “word pictures” to illustrate his teachings.

His word pictures—a desperate woman looking for a lost coin, a hungry boy eating corn husks, an ordinary field hiding a buried treasure—all served to mesmerize his listeners, drawing them into a story where, in the end, he could present them with Kingdom truth.

What is true for books—with or without pictures—is also true for the words we speak to one another every day. Our words serve to paint a picture, showing everyone around us, who we are and whom we serve. As we paint ourselves anew every morning, may we be like the Christ we serve and, in the end, present our listeners with Kingdom truth.

Proverbs 25:11 “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.”

An Author with an Itsy Bitsy Platform

September 23, 2014 Leave a comment

Open BookOne of the most important concepts in the publishing industry today is the notion of “The Platform.” You may not know what that is, but think for a moment about people who’ve recently released a book—people like Hillary Clinton, Bill O’Reilly, and John Grisham. These authors have a built-in platform. The mere suggestion they might write yet another book has readers signed up to buy a copy before one word has been penned.

That’s a platform.

Publishers and literary agents will ask a potential author, “What’s your platform?” If you’re on the news regularly, have already written a best-selling book, have held  a prominent political office, or have even committed some serious offenses against humanity, the publication industry is  willing to sign you up immediately. Thus, platform is less about writing and more about having visibility and authority in the eyes of the world.

When the Son of God came to earth, he had no platform. He lived his life in relative obscurity in a small town that had a bad reputation. Yes, he gathered around himself a group of followers, but they were few in number and mostly considered the riff-raff of society—prostitutes, tax collectors, and a handful of rebels and fishermen.

Jesus, the very Author of Life,  had an itsy bitsy platform.

Yet, He did have something to say. In fact, He had a lot he wanted to tell people—about Himself, about His Father, and about the fact that He was the Word. His Word brought into existence everything that was, everything that is, and everything that will be. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1.

The message he delivered received bad reviews from those in authority, from the people who had developed a platform of their own. At the earliest opportunity, they crucified Him, intending to obliterate his words.

But the words were important; the words were Life, the words brought Life. They were taken up by others who had no platform, but who faithfully wrote down what He had said, who delivered the message he could not deliver because he had no platform.

May all of us with itsy bitsy platforms never fail to deliver His Words. By doing  so, we  provide Him with a platform the world cannot ignore.

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation . . .” Isaiah 52:7.

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

Bits and Pieces 1/28/13

January 28, 2013 Leave a comment

puzzle%20piecesWebsite Lists All Free Books Available On Amazon:  I love reading books on my Kindle for iPad, and it’s so much better when they’re FREE.  Freebook Sifter is a website which lists all the free books on Amazon.  The link provided here opens to Christian fiction, but if you click on the e-book tab, you’re able to choose any kind of book you like. Click here for Freebook Sifter.

Did Jesus Sing While He Lived Among Us? The answer from several New Testament passages is yes! I’m sure He also laughed, and I suspect what made Him laugh was an inexpressible joy we’ll only know when we see Him face-to-face. Here’s a great article about Jesus and singing by Tony Reinke. 

It Could Have Been Me:  This is such a great reminder that  all our steps are ordered by God. Whatever comes our way (or doesn’t), may we thank Him daily for His grace.  Read Lisa’s blog post on “When It Could Have Been Me” here.

How Much Money Am I Supposed To Give Away? The short answer Tim Challies gives is “enough that it matters.”  His full response is insightful and could serve as a springboard for a family discussion on giving. Read it here.

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