Contract With Lighthouse Publishing Of the Carolinas

I just learned yesterday from my agent that Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas has offered me a contract for “The Epic Tale of Taran Mac Teague”. (New title is “The Bonfires of Beltane”.) The target date for book release is June 2016. Stay tuned…

Slow Reading Cuts Stress, Improves Concentration

An article by Jeanne Whalen in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune recently caught my eye. Ever wonder what happens to your brain after years of beeping smartphones, clamorous social media, and reading everything through the filter of Google and the web? It becomes stressed out. The solution? Read slowly at least thirty minutes a day with a book or e-book. And switch off all your electronics. The benefits of such a linear, focused activity include improved ability to concentrate, think, listen, and empathize. And it reduces stress. Great news for book lovers. Check out the full article below:

My Response to God

What have I don’t since my baptism?

I began my Christian life in 2008 by creating a 20-week course on apologetics and teaching it twice. Apologetics, if you don’t know, shows the truth of Bible through science, logic, philosophy, and evidence.

Then in 2009, after 28 years working as a computer programmer for IBM, I got retired.

That same month, Pastor Kevin Barnhart at Calvary Evangelical Free Church convinced me I should join the Antioch School of Church Planting and Leadership Development out of Ames, Iowa. This was church-based training, led by Pastor Kevin. I joined the class and almost immediately was gripped by a message from the book of Acts about the importance of church planting and spreading the gospel.

I also read John Piper’s book, Don’t Waste Your Life and one of its images greatly impressed me. In the book, Piper describes a couple who retired early, bought a thirty-foot yacht and spent their waning days playing softball and collecting seashells. We’re invited to imagine these two standing before Jesus on the day of judgment. Jesus asks them what they’ve done with their lives. They hold out their hands and say, “Look, Lord, see our shells.”

By contrast, Matthew 16:25-26 tells us this: “…whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it. What will it benefit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his life?”

So here was another choice: I could stand at the end of my days before my Lord, having lived a self-centered existence. I could live without spiritual purpose and collect seashells. Or I could go in a different direction. Thus, I began to focus my life on working for God’s kingdom with all my heart and soul.

Since then I’ve led numerous small group Bible studies. Some of them I created myself. For many years I was in charge of missions mobilization on Calvary’s missions team. I was a core leader of the former Saturday night service at Calvary that was the forerunner of this church. Through the Antioch School, under Pastor Kevin, I also finished my Masters of Ministry. Once a month I preach a message and lead a service at Homestead Senior Living Center.

And then I went back to a passion I’d almost given up—writing.

TalesFromCalvaryCoverOver a period of thirty years, before I was a Christian, I wrote two dozen short stories and two novels of fantasy and dark fantasy—none of them published. Then my inspiration dried up and I stopped writing. But my new faith inspired me and I began writing again in earnest. I wrote short stories from a Christian perspective. And I conceived of a book of short stories, testimonies, non-fiction, and poetry solicited from Calvary’s congregation. Vicki Tiede and Stanley Steely joined the project as coeditors.  You can still find Tales From Calvary on Amazon. It includes four of my short stories.

Then I began writing the novel of historical fiction that ended up being The Bonfires Of Beltane. I’ve finished the first draft of a sequel, The Broken Amulet, that follows Taran’s son, Tynan.

But beyond all this, the Holy Spirit has impressed upon me a work more important than any other—a work coming directly from the book of Acts. That is helping to plant The Gathering Church. In October 2013, Calvary Church commissioned us and sent us out. Since then we’ve met each week in the Holiday Inn Ballroom in downtown Rochester.

It’s now a year later and we are growing. Forty to fifty people attend each week. I preach there once a month. I’m its Treasurer and an Elder. I assist our lead pastor, Willie Grimm. And by God’s grace, we are bringing the good news of Christ to the unreached, unchurched people of Rochester.

Now please understand that all these acts, these works, are my response of obedience to the salvation Christ gave me. They are my way of using the skills and gifts I was given to obey Christ’s command to spread God’s kingdom across the earth. It’s also my way of thanking Jesus for this gift of eternal life.

I fear it’s a pitiful response. For how can one’s finite works ever adequately give thanks for an infinite gift?

And that’s my life so far, at least what’s worth reporting.