Monday, September 29, 2014

Awakening Sun - Now Available!

I’m excited to release Awakening Sun, the third and last book in my Wings of the Dawn young adult suspense trilogy.


The story opens with a seemingly final sentence for the trilogy's villain Neil DeWitt and a fairly simple case for its heroine Abby Grant to solve. Yet things are not as they seem, and what appears to be a standard clinical drug trial turns into something much more complicated and dangerous.


Second chances. Are they possible? At what cost? Abby and friends face some of their darkest moments yet. Through them, they realize both the intense risk and reward of giving second chances.

Your Turn

The paperback is now available at Kindle readers, stay tuned! It will be converted into a Kindle version as well.

Share the news with your friends. Then, make coffee, find a cozy chair, and let me know how long it takes you to finish this last installment.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Never Forget the Hope

Photo Credit: Eric via Flickr Creative Commons
Photo licensor is not affiliated with this blog.
Last Thursday was thirteen years since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

For me, and for many others, the day is branded in our memories. For my seventh grade class, most weren’t even born. My eighth graders were infants or toddlers.

“Never Forget” was an American slogan that came out of that day’s tragic events, and although my students have no way of remembering the day itself, they need to know what happened.

Not because I want them to become angry or bitter, although a certain amount of anger against the atrocities committed is certainly understandable.

No, they need to know what happened, because it is part of our nation’s history. A nation with no sense of its past can make no sense of its future.

So last Thursday, we took the time to watch a few videos. My favorite was one by The Skit Guys, created a few years back. Others included clips from CNN.

We took the time to read about United Flight 93 and the heroism of its passengers that prevented the plane from reaching its target destination.

We talked about the hand of God in history.

Several students struggled. How could a loving God allow such horrible events to happen? How could God possibly “work all things together for good” in this circumstance?

The problem of living in a broken world

Those are understandable responses. We had a Cliff Notes' discussion on man’s free will and the sovereignty of God.

The bottom line: God gave mankind a free will, the ability to choose to obey or disobey Him. Man chose to disobey, and as a result, we live in a broken world. A world where terrorists crash planes into towers and innocent people die.

But did God know 9/11 was going to happen? Yes, He did.

Then why didn’t He stop it? For that matter, why doesn’t He stop natural disasters, heal children dying of cancer, or interfere in the myriads of other barbarisms that occur in this world?

Sometimes, He does. Sometimes, He doesn’t.

On my way home from church this morning, I turned on the radio to hear Dr. Erwin Lutzer talking about this very matter. He said, “Faith doesn’t judge God on circumstances.” In other words, faith doesn’t stop believing God because He doesn’t answer prayer like we want Him to.

Look at the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. Moses, Gideon, Samson, and many other men and women of faith overcame their circumstances by faith. Other people of great faith were sawn asunder, tossed to lions, and died for their faith.

Too often, we let go of our faith when we focus on life’s circumstances and slip into believing the lie that our problems here are too big for God to handle. That’s what happened to Peter when he took his eyes off Jesus. He began to sink amid the raging waves.

The question we should be asking

Instead of asking how a loving God could allow bad things to happen, we should be marveling that a loving God made a way of redemption possible.

After all, sin was our choice, our mistake. Not His.

I asked my eighth graders to use an online concordance or topical Bible to find at least five verses that offer hope or encouragement in the face of tragedies like September 11.

Here are a few of their discoveries:

1.       Psalms 16:8 (ESV): “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”

2.       John 3:16 (NKJV): “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

3.       John 16:33 (ESV): "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

4.       Romans 8:28 (NKJV): "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

5.       Revelation 21:4 (ESV): “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
I hope we “Never Forget” what happened thirteen years ago. One American history class in Spring Hill, Florida won’t.

But more importantly, I hope we Never Forget the Hope made possible only through the mercy of God, who loved us so much that He sent His own Son to die for the sins of the world, to make a way of redemption possible.

At the end of the day, history is His Story. Whether good or bad, the events of this world are paving the way to the climax of redemption’s story: His glorious return.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Remove these words from your dictionary

Three weeks into the school year, I’m more concerned with my students removing certain words from their dictionaries than adding to them.

Student or not, find the nearest dictionary, and cross out the following words:

·         Impossible
·         Can’t
·         Hard
Our culture has simplified and cushioned our lives so that many of us view pain, hardship and challenge as bad things.

Now don’t get me wrong. Life can be hard, and sickness, physical pain and death are no laughing matter.

However, the idea that our futures and dreams should be handed to us on a silver platter – that life “owes” us something – needs to stop.

Somehow, we have to reverse this mindset, and I’m going to start with my seventh and eighth grade classes. The following phrases are hereby banned:

·         It’s too hard.
·         I can’t do it.
·         That’s impossible.
The only way we grow is through challenges. Self-discipline needs to be welcomed as a friend, not shunned as a foe.

In keyboarding this year, I’ve introduced my students to keyboard covers which hide the letters and numbers of the keys when they type. Why? If students can’t see the keys, then they have to refer to their textbook visual and learn the proper fingering – no hunting and pecking allowed.

Each day when I hand out the covers with this huge smile on my face, I’m met with groans. You would think I were asking them to memorize the Hebrew alphabet.

Before we are too critical of my dear students, let’s stop and think. What are the “keyboard covers” in our lives, the things God gives us to challenge us and make us grow? Do we find ourselves thanking Him for them – or complaining about them?

Keyboard covers – and many other trials in life – aren’t going to kill us. They’re designed for our good.

So let’s embrace our challenges and stop pretending this life is supposed to be easy. God’s Word never said it would be, but it does say that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (Phil 4:13).