True North

COMPASS -- Efraim Stochter -- PX

 

In routine life on Planet Earth, there’s one rather ordinary looking piece of equipment that is used by thousands of people every day. It’s called a compass. Hikers, hunters, military personnel, navigators on ships and planes, and even  12-year-old boy scouts and girl scouts out on field trips use a compass as a normal part of their activities. Most of us have used one at some point in time, or at least played with one just to see how it works. Its job: to make geographical directions clear so that we can find our way safely and expeditiously from one point on this earth to another.

But that compass will not help us — it will, in fact, lead us the wrong way and get us into trouble — it is fails to point its arrow accurately to the North. It it’s off just a tiny bit, it can cause us to go miles in the wrong direction and totally miss our destination. That compass must point its arrow to TRUE NORTH, or it does us no good at all.

Now for individual journeys from one geographical place to another, any average compass in good working order is good enough. But what about our life-long journey — our time from birth to death — when we make our way along the road of life with all its twists and turns and possible detours? What provides our source of accurate directions for that journey?  Well, there’s only One who knows for sure how to navigate that life path successfully and wind up at the right places at the right times — as well as how to wind up in the right place at the end of the journey — and that person is our Creator — the One who made us to live this life in the first place.

We hear people today talk about how different people have different “moral compasses”  — to each his own — everyone lives by his own standards. But the truth is that all moral compasses that don’t point to Jesus Christ are extremely faulty and will lead the followers into trouble — and eventually into destruction.

Jesus Christ is the only TRUE NORTH. If our life compass focuses on Him, we will be able to stay on course — with joyful results. It if does not point to Him, we’re lost — in more ways than one.

I hear people say things like this: “Well, there are people who do good an live right in this world who aren’t Christians.” And i agree that I know some people who love their families and who try to live by rules that are, for the most part, kind. But the fact is that the only reason those people act as positively as they do is that they’ve been taught the basic rules of God’s Word.

Now they may not recognize those words as coming from the Bible. And they may not have learned them in a church. But they were influenced by others — even by the laws of the land — to understand a lot about what’s right and wrong. Every law of the land in any nation that protects people and guides them to act in ways that avoid hurting someone else came originally from the plans for living right laid out in God’s original law.

The truth is that the only foundation any society — indeed any human being from Adam and Eve down — has for determining what’s right and wrong is God’s Word. That’s why God gave the original ten commandments: so man would know what was good and what was evil. And all the civilized nations in the word have laws that follow those ten commandments. No human being came up with those ideas on his own. His Creator taught him right and wrong.

Why did the Creator need to teach man? Because the only good there is in the universe is in God Himself and what proceeds out of Him.

Let me say that again: There is no good in this world except what proceeds out of God. Man is born sinful — selfish, self-centered, and out for himself alone. Prove it you say? Look at any little baby. He wants his needs met, and when they’re not met, he cries — and cries — and cries — until Mom and Dad stop whatever else they are doing and give baby whatever it is he wants.  And as a child grows, he knows to focus on his own needs and wants without being taught. His wants come first.

Most parents — if they are responsible in their child rearing — begin teaching their children about kindness and consideration for others at an early age. But those things have to be taught. They never come naturally to any human being. Goodness, kindness, and generosity are learned behavior — coming either from instruction or environmental influence. There is no inherent good in any human being when left on his own.

The Word of God says it simply and succinctly when it says, “There is none good but God.” (Luke 18:19) and “There is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10 and “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).  There is no inherent good in any human being when left on his own.  He must receive his goodness from God.

Now, living on this earth in the right environment may help some people soak up understanding of some of that goodness. And they may exert some effort to make it active in their lives. Anyone who gets out in the rain gets wet. Anyone who gets out in the sun gets warm. But those conditions are superficial and temporary. So, in the same manner, anyone who is reared and nurtured in an environment of good, loving ways will, no doubt, soak up some of that attitude and that philosophy of life — and its accompanying behavior.

But as with the sun and the rain, those things are superficial and temporary. They will carry that person only so far and for only so long. He will ultimately fail in his morality and goodness. I have lived 72 years on this earth and been actively involved with thousands of people from all over the world, and I have yet to see an exception to this rule. Nor do I know any other people who have come across an exception. No human being other than Jesus Christ has ever lived without failing in morality and goodness. Until we receive Jesus Christ and put Him in control, everyone of us fails to live up to the goodness of God — the goodness required to be fit to live with Him for eternity.

The only good we know and do apart from Jesus is what we acquired by osmosis because God’s goodness managed to penetrate our soul a little. But without our spirit being born again by the entrance of Jesus Christ, that “goodness” is nothing but a garment we wear. What’s inside will eventually come to the forefront. And, yes, I realize I am repeating myself here, but with good reason. My experience with humanity has taught me that very few people can capture and hold onto a new concept the first time they hear it. And, for many people reading this article, the concept I’m sharing is new indeed. So explaining the same truth again — and in slightly different terms — is a safeguard and an insurance that more people will grasp this truth and let it help them move forward to what they need.

The exciting part of this truth is that once Jesus is allowed to come in and take control, His own righteousness is transferred into our being. At that point, we aren’t just trying to be good and do good because of some training that will eventually fail us. No. Jesus gives us His own inherent goodness and holiness. It becomes who we are because He has become the controller of who we are. We are one with Him.

And since He alone is TRUTH (John 1:17; John 14:6), He provides the infallible compass for our life from that point through all eternity. Do our souls and bodies sometimes fail to measure up? Yes, but Jesus, our unerring compass, lovingly points us back to the right direction, and the wrong steps we took gets corrected so that we don’t ever get completely off course again.

Jesus Christ is our TRUE NORTH. If you haven’t yet made Him the compass of your life, right now is the best time to do it. No matter how far off course you are at present, if you’ll turn your life over to Him, you will immediately see where “True North” is, and you’ll never have to worry about being lost again on this journey through life. Not only that, you’re guaranteed to wind up at the destination you were always intended to reach — in this life on earth and for eternity.


photo credit: Efraim Stochter (MW) @ pixabay.com



 

World Watercolor Month

W.W. MONTH -- GENERAL LOGOHey, you watercolor artists out there — and all of you who have ever thought you might like to dabble in watercolor — did you know that July is World Watercolor Month?  I’m posting my entries for the first four days’ prompts below. But entrants do not have to follow the prompts. It you’d like to paint anything at all in watercolor, you can post it on any social media sight with this hashtag — #worldwatercolormonth —  and it will be connected to the main gallery that records everyone’s entries.  If you’d like more information on participating — which is totally free by the way — just hop over to the Doodlewashsite and check out the details.

Here are my entries so far:

DAY 1: REJOICE

REJOICE ELEPHANT

 

 

DAY 2: TEXTURE

TEXTURE 1
TEXTURE 2

 

DAY 3: PLAYFUL

PUDDLE SPLASHING

 

 

DAY 4: QUIET

PSALM 23 POOL w. credits

I actually painted this piece in a previous year, but when I saw the prompt, it was my first thought. So I decided to share it even though it wasn’t created just for this year’s WWM project.

 



 

Back In The Saddle???

HORSE & SADDLE -- James DeMers -- PX

James DeMers @ pixabay.com

Well, my three-week hiatus from writing for any websites — and focusing on my art instead — has done me some good. I’ll try to get back in the saddle now and focus on some things that have to be written out in words. But even if I’m back in the saddle, I think I’ll move forward at a trot, rather than racing speed. I’ll work my way back to writing publicly in as relaxed a manner as possible — beginning with this light-hearted poem:

Writing
Can be a joy,
Except when it’s a drag.
Words must be disciplined,
And that’s the gag.

Therefore,
I took a break
From writing anything.
And gave myself to art,
And had a fling.

So now,
I’m in the mood
To write a thing or two.
Thoughts that have been backlogged
Are now in queue.



 

Spending Time on my Art Website

I mentioned last week that I was taking a hiatus from public writing for a while. That includes all my regular websites — although I will be devoting some time privately to working on a couple new novels. But during this time, I’m going to concentrate more on my art — mainly because it’s a terrific de-stressor, and that’s a must for me right now. So I thought I’d at least post a link to my new art website, in case you’d like to hop over and visit there. That site has no text and no stress — just happy pictures of my own original art.  Here’s the link:

Beulah Rest

On Hiatus

WAVING CACTUS W. TEXT

Just a little note here to say my life has taken a bit of a turn lately, and I haven’t been posting on any of my websites in any kind of normal patterns. Nor have I been visiting other friends in the WordPress family. Hopefully, by the end of the month, I’ll be a little more back to normal.

I want to say how much I appreciate all my visitors and followers on this site — as well as my poetry site and ministry sites. I haven’t left the planet, just experiencing a much needed hiatus and figuring out now much of myself I need to devote to online work as compared to other matters of importance in my life.

Hopefully, you’ll still find plenty here to enjoy from the last 9 years of my sharing online.

Blessings on you as you visit here.

‘QUENTON’S HONOR’ – Now Available on Amazon

QUENTON FRONT COVER -- NICE AND SHARP FROM CD FOR KINDLE - croppedWhat happens when twenty-first century technology comes face to face with the most powerful force the human race has ever known? Find out in this story of intrigue, romance, courage, and faith:  QUENTON’S HONOR.

A man’s love for his country; a man’s love for a woman.

Securing a nation; capturing a heart.

It’s a story of patriotism.  It’s a love story.  It’s a story of one man’s journey to God.

American industrial magnate Quenton Sutherland’s efforts at humanitarian aid carry him on a fact-finding tour into the Middle-Eastern hotbed of war-torn Pakistan. While there, he uncovers a terrorist plot involving three cells already poised for attack back in the U.S. Before he can foil their plan, he is taken hostage to prevent his exposing their plot.

In the days that follow, Quenton comes face-to-face with his need for the God he abandoned decades before — while he, along with investigative journalist Honor Fairfield, and the Department of Homeland Security, begin an ever-twisting adventure and discover life-changing connections that none of them could have foreseen.

I wrote this book years ago, and it was first published in 2004. But this is the first time its been offered in paperback through Amazon. I still love the story. Even though I’m the author, the story still makes me cry in all the right places, makes my heart beat faster with each embrace of the lovers, and thrills my soul when the characters encounter a God whose love is focused on blessing them every step of the way on this journey.

The story has been called a cross between ‘You’ve God Mail’ and ‘Song of Solomon.’ I don’t know about that, but I do know amazing things — even spiritual things — can happen through the wonders of computer technology and in the world of cyberspace. You’ll just have to see for yourself.

Get your copy in paperback or digital here.
The E-book is on sale for $1.99 through June.

You can read a short sample at this link, but bear in mind that Amazon’s samples on the product page are sometimes a little screwed up. Hopefully, you’ll at least get enough of the text to make a decision on whether the story’s for you or not.



 

‘Stories That Leave You Thinking’ — on sale

GIRAFFE COVER W. SHADOW

My short story anthology Stories That Leave You Thinking is on sale during the whole month of June.

A collection of diverse and slightly unconventional short short stories

Have you ever come to the words “The End” when reading and just couldn’t seem to turn off your own imagination? Did your mind keep working on the plot and planning out possible ways in which the story could continue? Did you enjoy the process? Then you’ve come to the right book. The stories included here, on a wide variety of subjects and themes, offer the reader the opportunity to keep thinking past “The End.” Each story comes to a stop, to be sure, but most of them will tempt the reader to let his own imagination get involved and do some thinking about what would happen next – if the story continued. A refreshing approach to short story telling.

Paperback only — $5.00
Find it here:



 

What Happened to ‘The End’?

BOOKS W. END

Over the past decade, the publishing world has experienced an interesting, but, in my opinion, sad phenomenon. Almost all fiction authors and/or publishing houses have started leaving out the words “The End” on the last page of novels. It’s now become passe, and I guess in some minds, even unsophisticated to write those two iconic little words below the last paragraph of a story.

It’s sad. I’ve been an avid reader all my life. My earliest happy memories involve reading stories and having them read to me, and I started writing my own in elementary school. In fact, I wrote my first full-length play in the 6th grade. I get totally immersed in the books I read. I can pass hours and even go without food — even chocolate and coffee — once I get entrenched in a story. I live the experiences with the characters — laughing with them, crying with them, loving with them, fighting with them — and rejoicing in the final resolution of the climax in their favor. ( I do not read stories where the main character ends up defeated.)

But when I come to the end of those stories, I’m generally so much involved that I need closure in order to let them go and move on. Those two little words — “The End” — have always given me that. Now, many have been the times when I hated to see them come. I didn’t want the story to end, and I would have pushed those words forward for another twenty pages or so at least. But eventually, all good stories have to reach their resolution, and when they do, I’ve always found a quiet acceptance and even a serene pleasure in reading those words. I can’t begin to count the times I’ve leaned back after reading “The End,” closed my eyes, and taken a slow deep breath and relished the fact that all was resolved and every loose end securely tucked away.

Those two little words close a story and let me know that it’s all right to let those characters go and move on to the next story — the next adventure — the next romance — the next journey. Yes, I know that any reader of average intelligence is able to figure out that if there is no more text between the covers, then the story has come to an end. But that doesn’t satisfy me at all. Somehow, those two words typed onto the page just make the reading experience complete, and finishing a story without them is not the same. Perhaps I’m the only one who feels that way. I don’t know. It’s not a subject I discuss with other writers — or readers. But it’s something that touches me powerfully enough that I continue to type “The End” at the completion of every novel I write.

And I will continue to do so from now on. The publisher that I have worked with for years is in agreement with me, and, of course, any books that I publish through Amazon don’t require my considering anyone else’s opinion. So I’m free in both situations to do as I please. And what pleases me is to be able to say to my readers  — in effect — “Well, now, we have come the distance together in this story; thank you for sharing it with me; I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have; we’ve solved the problems for the hero and heroine, and they are satisfied and secure;  I’ve taken great care to leave you in a good place; All is well = The End.”



 

Non-Essential Lives

Some call it isolation.
Some call it sheltering.
A “safe-at-home” condition
That’s lasted all of spring.

Small businesses are locked down
Churches have empty pews.
But laws allow the sale of drugs
And “grass,” and, of course, booze.

What Liberals term “essential”
Is given liberty.
Abortion clinics have free reign:
Murder in first degree.

The public’s in a panic
Because of media lies.
State gov’ners claim lives matter
While they make sure babies die.



 

Weekend Coffee Share 5/16/20

COFFEE & COMPUTER -- Engin Akyurt -- PX

photo courtesy of Engin Akyurt @ pixabay.com

Hello again, everyone. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had an opportunity to participate in the coffee share, and I’m feeling happy this morning that I have time to just sit here and talk to you as I’m enjoying my coffee. To be honest, there are several things I need to be doing, but they are not pressing me very hard, so I’m ignoring them and choosing to visit with you for a few minutes instead.

I can’t say that I’ve had any important experiences this past week, but I am looking forward to what I have planned for this weekend. It’s related to a victory in my life that took place a few months ago, and I’ll share a little of that with you so you can rejoice with me.

Some of you are aware that about 2 1/2 years ago, I lost my very best friend in an accident. I’ve shared a little about that experience from time to time, but not anything recently. Not only was he my best friend, but he was also my best editor and had such a vibrant, creative mind that he had been enormous help to me in my writing. He was at times my toughest critic, but at all time my greatest champion.

And he was the kind of person I could call on the phone and say, “Hey, I have this character who needs to end up so-and-so, but I’m having a hard time figuring out how I can set him up for this experience.” In no time at all, my friend would come up with at least one and maybe three or four possible scenes that fit right into where I needed to go in my story. And he was available to offer feedback at any time of the day or night.

So, as you can see, when I lost him, I lost someone very personal and emotionally supportive, but also a great catalyst and creative inspiration at the same time. As a result of that loss, I came to a place where I was unable to write any novels at all. I had been working on three when he died — and one of them had already benefited from input from him. Every time I tried to go back to any of those novels, I ran into a brick wall. It wasn’t what some writers refer to as “writer’s block.” It was a deep sense of emptiness that I couldn’t seem to get out of enough to bring words and scenes to life again. I struggled against that barrier repeatedly, but to no avail.

I’m very grateful that the Lord allowed me to write more poetry during that time. It was interesting to me that, while I could not write any stories, I could still write non-fiction work that is part of my Christian ministry, and I could write poetry. In fact, writing poetry was the most healing experience I had during that time, and I even created a brand new poetry website where I could share it. That creativity was powerful blessing.

But, thanks to the Lord’s healing work in my soul, I finally came to a place a little earlier this year where I was able to pick up one of the novels I had been working on and finish it completely. In fact, it was just birthed into the marketplace in April. What a great victory that was. As the author of 20 books before that time, I can’t even put into words how it felt to sit for two whole years and not be able to write one complete story. But victory is mine, and now, I believe I’m ready to take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and finish some of the other novels that have been waiting a very long time.

Now, back to this weekend. My plan is to take this weekend to finish one of those books. Sadie Rose Donovan: Coed Detective is actually a little different from most of my other novels. This book is more of a young adult novel, but I’m hoping and believing that mature adults will enjoy it as well. If I can’t finish it completely this weekend, I’m thinking about posting it one chapter a day on my website and promising to post every day until it’s done. That procedure has helped me push myself to finish novels in the past. We’ll have to see how things go today and tomorrow. But, for sure, the book is coming to its rightful conclusion this week!

Personally, I love the story. It was inspired almost exclusively by a photo of a young friend of mine who snapped a selfie while standing in a hallway in one of the main classroom buildings on a local college campus. She was posed as if involved in some clandestine activity, and the moment I saw it, the story sprang to life in my head. I’ve told her that I consider her my inspiration, and I’ll be dedicating the book to her — Hannah Herron.

The main character is named after a sweet young lady who waited on the table at a restaurant I visited a couple years ago. My cousin and I were eating supper there, and Sadie Rose stopped to visit a while. The conversation led to how she had come by her first and middle name. I instantly fell in love with that name and told her I knew it would be perfect for a story I’d be writing. I told her I’d let her know when it came out, but I don’t think she works at that restaurant any longer. See the sad pitfalls of taking so long to finish a story???  Anyway, I hope I can locate her and let her know when her namesake is finally on the bookshelves.

So, that’s my weekend coffee share for today. And that’s my weekend plans: I’m going to get out of my robe and start pounding the keys to finish Sadie Rose’s story. And I feel sure there will be plenty of pots of coffee involved as the work progresses.


To participate in “Weekend Coffee Share,” visit our host’s website: Eclectic Ali.

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Stand Tall

 

In this crooked and perverse generation, we MUST stand TALL for the Lord!

GREEN STALKS

 

“Stand up, stand up for Jesus.
The strife will not be long.
This day the noise of battle;
The next the victor’s song.
To those who vanquish evil
A crown of life shall be;
They with the King of Glory
Shall reign eternally.”

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Lyrics by C. Barry Robertson / George Duffield / George J. Webb
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From My Journal – 5/12/20

HOPE

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.”
Romans 15:4

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11

“… if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”  Romans 8:25

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