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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.

 

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What You Are NOT

January 8, 2016 2 comments

 During a recent interview about Titus Ray, the main character in my Christian fiction series, I was asked to describe some of his personality traits. By doing so, I came up with some attributes, which point out what Titus is not: He is not an extrovert. He is not a scholar. He is not a family man.

By pinpointing what a person is NOT, a picture emerges about what a person is. The apostle John does this in the Gospel of John. He says, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.” John 1:6-8.

Perhaps the most important attribute about John the Baptist was what he was NOT. He wasn’t the Messiah; He wasn’t the Light; He wasn’t our Savior. He had to reiterate this several times during his ministry. Every time he did so, he was able to tell people who he really was. He was a witness sent to point people to the real Savior, Jesus Christ.

There are other examples in Scripture of what people were NOT: Joseph was not an adulterous slave boy. David was not an intimidated shepherd. Daniel was not a cowered exile. Paul was not a timid follower of Christ.

How would you answer this question, “What are you NOT?”

How you answer that question will enable you to see what you are. The NOT realization of what he was helped John to know his role. He wasn’t the Light, but he was to tell about the Light. Perhaps you’re NOT a Sunday School teacher, but you can be a Sunday School member. Perhaps you’re NOT a teacher of the Bible, but you can read the Bible. Perhaps you’re NOT a prayer warrior, but you can pray.

John was sent by God. “There was a man sent from God.” John 1:6.

John was sent by God to be who he was;  not someone he was NOT. Discover who you are NOT, and you’ll discover who you are.

 

 

Maybe It Wasn’t The Best Bible Verse To Use

July 13, 2015 Leave a comment

TR Scripture 2When I was putting together a proposal for a Christian literary agent about the first book in my Titus Ray Thriller, One Night in Tehran, one of the questions the agent asked me was “What is the Scriptural basis of the novel?”  Because the majority of Christian fiction is either Amish fiction or in the romantic suspense genre, I imagined the Bible verses the agent usually received from authors in those categories was about love or forgiveness or kindness.

My novel is about Titus Ray, a veteran CIA intelligence officer who comes to faith in Christ through a group of Iranian Christians. He is spiritually impoverished, with no religious upbringing and no clue about how to live out his faith while continuing his espionage activities for the U.S. government. However, a verse of Scripture often quoted by Javad, the Iranian who led him to the Lord, is one Titus adopted to help him through difficult times. It’s from Matthew 10:16, where Jesus addresses his disciples before sending them out to announce His coming Kingdom.

Jesus said, “Behold I am sending you out as sheep among wolves, be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves.”

When I sent the proposal to the agent, that’s the verse I chose as the Scriptural basis for my series. Since I never heard back from that agent, maybe it wasn’t the best Bible verse to use.

However, I’ve come to appreciate that verse, and, since using it in my novel, I’ve run across a post on that Scripture by John Piper, a present-day theologian and author of the most helpful book I’ve ever read, Desiring God. Here’s the link to that post.

A short paragraph from the article reads, “So, yes, go among wolves and be vulnerable as you preach the gospel, but when they lunge at you, step aside. When they open their mouths, don’t jump in. And not only that, be as innocent as doves. That is, don’t give them any legitimate reason to accuse you of injustice or immorality. Keep your reputation as clean as you can.”

Today, believers wade through a morass of cultural upheavals and political issues, much like helpless sheep wandering among wolves. Yet, Jesus commands His followers to use wisdom and innocence as the primary means of presenting His Kingdom to the world.

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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.

 

 

 

The Reason Behind This

February 19, 2015 Leave a comment

Walk 2Whenever I have the privilege of signing my book for someone, I do so with this inscription: “Walk in His Light.” I follow that with my name, and, of course, if the request comes from someone who wants a personal inscription, I begin my inscription with a personalized autograph.

However, from this point forward, I’ve decided to add a Scripture reference to my inscription of “Walk in His Light.” I’m doing so because some readers seem puzzled when they read that phrase, and I want to make it perfectly clear what I mean by pointing them to a verse summarizing the thought behind my words.

Although the Bible references God as Light throughout both the Old and New Testaments (Psalm 119:105; John 8:12), I’ve always loved 2 Corinthians 4:6 as a beautiful, yet understandable, verse which explains what happens when a person begins a personal relationship with the God of the Universe in the person of His son Jesus.

This reference will now appear below my signature. 2 Corinthians 4:6.

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

When I write “Walk in His Light,” I’m voicing a prayer that my reader will look in the face of Jesus, see the glory of God, cling to His provision for salvation in Christ, and  follow that Light wherever He may lead.

May you “Walk in His Light” today.

 

Who’s In Charge, Anyway?

November 1, 2014 4 comments

In ChargeAs I was viewing posts on a writer’s site describing the results of methods used to advertise a new book’s release, I ran into a common theme–frustration and discouragement.

Some authors lamented their publishers weren’t being aggressive enough in advertising their latest release. Others felt their own methods had failed to generate sufficient sales. Yet, both were engaged in time-tested efforts book publishers usually employed to market books, getting them in the hands–and, thus, the hearts–of readers.

Since my new release falls into the Christian fiction category, what interested me most about these posts were comments by Christian authors. Several of them posted they had felt led of the Lord to write their book, yet many posted they weren’t happy about they way the  book was selling. Did that mean they felt, even though God had been in charge of their writing the book, that now He wasn’t in command of how their book was selling?

Sometimes, when it appears God is leading us in one direction and we commit to that course of action, the results are not what we anticipated. We expected success, and we experienced failure–or, at least, less than successful results.

I believe this is a common misconception when it comes to feeling led of the Lord to do something.

Just because I felt led of the Lord to initiate a project, support a cause, or engage in some personal pursuit, and His hand was on me in the doing of it, that doesn’t mean, when it comes to the results, I’m suddenly in charge.

God is still in charge when it comes to all outcomes–not me and not you. Proverbs 16:9, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

This is a common theme throughout the Scriptures, but as self-sufficient, self-determining human beings, we failed to remember or perhaps just refuse to heed, what the Lord is saying to us on the subject of who’s in charge.

Isaiah 55:8-11, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways . . . it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

What are your plans today? Will God be responsible for the results or will you decide to assign the blame–or maybe even the credit–to yourself?

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