Thursday, May 10, 2018

Juggernaught: Chapter 40 - World's Worst Chaperone

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study.  If you just tuned in, start reading here!

The three teens ran down the main street of town banging on doors and shouting for people to get out.

It didn't take long before they had quite a confused crowd gathering in the road, including two or three local police officers.

Spying them, Wendell said aside to his friends, "What country do you think we're in, anyway?  Bulgaria?  Any of you guys speak Bulgarian?"

"If not, we're close enough they probably understand it." added Jack.

"I got a little."  said Misty and then turned to the crowd.

"Ima golyam--" she started strongly, then hesitated.

"Doesn't sound like you've got any."  said Wendell.

She spun on him.  Her finger shot out in the direction of the coming threat.  "I don't even know what to call that thing in English!"

"Okay, okay." he backed off.

"Ima golyam..." She tried again.  People hung on every word. "chudovishte!"  (a monster).

At that, everyone panicked and began to flee, crying.  "Toi se e vurnal!  En se e vurnal!"

" 'En'?" Misty said aloud, surprised to hear the idol's name and not knowing enough of the other words to decipher what it might mean.

A woman and her pretty young daughter rushed past with old, worn, hard-shell suitcases bumping along behind.  "Wait!" cried the younger one.  She was about the same age as the Americans, perhaps only a year or two younger, and spoke English very well.

She looked up at Jack in awe.  "Are you the one whose coming the prophecy foretold?"

Jack tried to speak, but Wendell stepped in front of him.  "Why, yes", he said with a sly voice, "Yes I am."

There was a long silence.

"Wait.  This is a good prophecy, right?" he asked the older woman.

He only got a confused look in return.

"Because, the um, 'good' prophecy:  That one's me!

"Not the other kind.

"Help me out here, Ma'am, does this involve locusts... in any way?"

Jack shoved him away.  "Pay no attention to him.  We're just visitors, but we've got a plan!"

"Do we?" said Misty out of the side of her mouth so she wouldn't be noticed.

"Kinda." Jack mumbled back.

Just at that moment their conversation was brought to a screeching halt by an explosion and a geyser of dirt.

"Woa!"  shouted Jack.

"They're heee're." observed Misty.

"To... the dump truck!"  Wendell shouted with much more zeal than the statement normally deserved.  It even caused him to hesitate a moment, but then he shook his head and ran off behind the others.

Just as they rounded a stand of aspens, a sudden crack and shower of splinters brought Jack up short.  The other two ran into him from behind.

They all dove for cover, mostly in the direction that the fall was already taking them.

The heavy-set sniper stepped out from her concealment behind a boulder, nestling a high-caliber hunting rifle in her chubby arms.

"Surin' I'm sorry about that Jack.  Ye, kinda startled me there."

"M-McCready?" he stumbled to nobody.  Then, once he'd heard the name and judged it to be true, he said to the others, "Hey team!  It's Ms McCready!"

The teens untangled themselves and made their way back to their feet, spitting and dusting off detritus and pine needles as they went.  Misty had a stinging new abrasion on her elbows, but other than that they were mostly unharmed from nearly having their heads blown off by friendly fire.

Wendell glanced nervously in the direction of the dump truck and the mobile battle fortress that was drawing ever closer.

"What are you doing here, anyway?"  Jack asked.

Ms McCready shifted her weight and said, "Ah, there's some bad shenanigans goin' on in this part o' the world and Michael and them sent me t' keep an eye on you guys.  Make sure you didn't do anythin' stupid or whatnot."

Wendell snapped his fingers and pointed.  "Hate to cut you off here Miz M, but me and the guys need to cheese it so we can chase down a gigantic armored war machine with a stolen dump truck."

The three started to run off, but she held her hand out, blocking their way.  "Woa, woa, woa woa!"

"What?  You mean you're going to stop us over that?"

A mischevious smile spread across her face.  "Course not, but m' Jeep's faster.  Plus I brought extra weapons."

The bounding off-road drive to the dumptruck gave the team time to gear up on firearms and explosives, as well as to reflect on the deeper issue: whether making Ms McCready a chaperone was such a good idea on Michael's part.


The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Juggernaught: Chapter 39 - When Titans Collide

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study.  If you just tuned in, start reading here!

Upon returning to the scene of yesterday's fiasco, the adventurers stood in awe of the monstrosity of death looming before them.

Each became literally dumbstruck in the light of the impossible immensity of their foe.

Wendell was the only one with the power of speech.  (Which certainly didn't help matters.)

"Don't worry compadres, it's always darkest just before the dawn."

Tension slightly eased from Lola and Irmingard's shoulders.

"When you hit rock bottom, there's nowhere to go but up."  he added, and then, "Keep calm and carry --"

"WENDELL!"  snapped Misty.

Jack placed a restraining hand on her to halt the imminent pummeling, "Yeah, bro, we'll need more than mixed-metaphors to get out of this one.  Start thinking."

He scratched his chin for a moment and then snapped his fingers.  "Of course!  That mining operation we passed.  They must have dynamite or something."

An allowing expression came across Misty's face.  "Say, that's not half bad.  You know, that's the first non-insane thing you've said all morning."

A crazed grin spread across his face.  "Wait till you see me with dynamite!"

"Oh, please no."

A few minutes later they lie at the cusp of a ridge, with Jack inspecting the mining operation far below through a pair of binoculars.

"What do you think?" asked Misty.

"I don't see anybody around."  He swept the scene once more to be sure as he said it.  "Looks totally abandoned to me."

Misty nodded.  "I guess that's not too surprising.  Most of the workers probably lived in that wrecked village."

"Anything that looks like explosives storage?" asked Lola, then surmised, "I think it would be far away from everything, with big red signs all over it."

"No..." he said, trailing off.  "Nothing like that.  Here.  You look."

He passed Wendell the binoculars.  And for good measure he tossed the strap around his neck, Wendell being, after all... Wendell.

Misty admitted, "I don't know much about mining, but maybe with the way they're going about it they don't need to blast?"

"I knew that."  said Wendell.

"You did not!" she snapped back.

Lola interrupted the ongoing bickering, "Come on guys.  There has to be something down there you can use."

"Nothing interesting down there but one little dumptruck." said Wendell.

"What kind?"

"I dunno.  It says model '6ENA3'."

Lola added, "That's in Russian, dear.  'Belaz', is the name of the manufacturer."

He looked up.  "Oh.  Try '75710', then."

"No!"  Jack grabbed the binoculars back away from him.

Wendell lay half-strangled by the strap, continually kicking and slapping his arm.

"It is!  That 'little dumptruck' of yours is one of the biggest machines ever made!"  He handed the binoculars back to Wendell, much to the other boy's relief.

"Not fast though."  said Irmingard, "That beast will only go about 60 kilometers an hour."

Jack looked at her.

"Oh yeah.  Yanks.  Say... a little under 40 miles per hour.  (And that, on a good day.)"

"Wendell.  Map."  Jack snapped his fingers.

Without taking his eyes off the scene below, Wendell brought a folded map out of his back pocket and passed it over. 

Lola unfolded the map on the ground.  It wasn't ideal.  It had come from the glove box of the army truck and wasn't written in English.

"K.  So, we're here."  Jack gestured with a stick.  "And the ruined town is over here." he made a circle in a general area.

"That must mean they're going that way."  Misty pointed, then scratched her chin.

A chill ran up Jack's spine.  "Towards former Yougoslavia."

"Ooh.  That's not good." said Irmingard.

"What?  Why?"  asked Wendell.

"Kosovo... Serbia... Montenegro... those guys all hate eachother!"  He clapped Wendell on the shoulder.  "Hence the word, 'former'.  There's a reason the country broke up, dude."

"They mean to start a war."  said Misty in awe.

Lola caught her sister's eye and they both nodded.

Jack pointed.  "And look here.  There's another town right in their path."

"We've got to get ahead of the war machine and warn 'em!"  declared Misty, and they all knew it was so.

"Okay, you Brits go 'borrow' that dump truck.  The rest of us will take the troop transport into town and evacuate the place.  We'll meet up just outside of the town.  I don't know if we can make a dent, but we can at least give those cannons something else to shoot at.  -- Hopefully give people a chance to escape."

"Sounds good."  said Lola.

"Yeah." said Wendell.  "All but that last part.  You know, the bit about them shooting at us..."

His objection fell on deaf ears as they all broke huddle and moved off to intercept the mighty Juggernaught.  -- A desperate course of action which, to all observers, could very well spell their doom!

The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Juggernaught: Chapter 38 - Airplane

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study.  If you just tuned in, start reading here!

Another woman struck up a conversation with Niñera.

Despite grandmother's rural, careworn appearance and the woman's clean and modern outfit, she was either bored enough or intrigued enough by her appearance to break the silence.

"I'm visiting my kids." she offered.  "They live with their father in Los Angeles, and I don't get to see them much.  How about you?"

"I am searching for a man.  I have a message God told me to give him.  Have you ever had a prophetic vision from God?"

"Um.  God and I aren't exactly on speaking terms."

Niñera was confused.  "Why ever not?"

"Just... I don't know... He really doesn't approve of the way I live my life."


The woman scowled.  She objected to the word on a deep level.  To have some old lady just throw it up like that came across as supremely offensive.  Yet...

The other didn't seem to be judgmental or anything like that.  In fact, her face seemed just as soft and kind as before.

She shrugged.  "Yeah.  I guess you could say that."

"Then I will pray that He would draw you close by His great mercy and then give you the power to overcome this stronghold Satan has over your life."

The woman's mouth opened and closed several times as if she was trying to say something but couldn't decide on what that should be.  "Thank you." she finally said.

Niñera smiled and nodded.

At that moment the intercom came to life.  "Hello, this is your captain speaking.  I regret to inform you, we are experiencing mechanical problems and your flight will experience a lay-over."

Antonio didn't understand the word, but gleaned that it must be a bad thing by that fact that everybody aboard groaned in unison.

'Lay-over'? he thought, What would be so bad to lay-over?

He determined that whatever people were being asked to lay over it must be something very uncomfortable. He also decided that, unlike the other passengers, he was glad he'd remembered to bring his bed roll.

The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Juggernaught: Chapter 37 - Another Way

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study.  If you just tuned in, start reading here!

The team used the cover of the setting sun to slowly fade back into the woods.

It was a long and meloncholy walk to get to a safe distance from the encounter.  This, being made all the longer because this time Wendell insisted on better precautions for their camping arrangements. 

"If Misty is right and they have choppers, then the last thing we want is for them to spot us from the air!"

It took some extra time to find, but they soon discovered a narrow little valley which provided excellent cover for the light of their campfire.  Within it lie a small open patch with a pair of fallen logs that would make great seats.

The group began building a traditional fire ring, but Misty stopped them.  "You know..." she said hesitantly, "If you really want to go undetected, we should dig a Dakota fire hole."

Most of the group seemed bewildered by the phrase, but Jack nodded.  "I think I remember that.  The Dakota Sioux were masters of woodcraft and stealth.  They used to build a their fire in a deep pit, fed by an outside air tunnel."

He continued, "If I remember right, the ground insulates the fire and the fresh air feeds it so it burns hotter, causing almost no visible smoke to rise."

Wendell fell to his knees and began clawing at the ground.  "Neat idea!  Irm?  You want to help me out?"

She smiled but gave an apprehensive glance at Lola, who answered for her, saying, "No thank you.  We'll go gather some firewood.  That'll be hard enough on the manicure."

The two faded back into the forest as Misty dropped down next to Wendell and started digging.  " 'That'll be hard enough on the manicure.' "  she mocked in a high-pitched, nasally voice.  "Sheesh.  Sometimes I don't quite know about those two."

The girls wandered deep into the forest gathering logs.

When they were far enough from the campsite, Irmingard piped up.  "Okay, sis, what's the deal?"

"I'm worried.  We've played this cat-and-mouse game long enough.  Time that kitty be fed and be done with it."

"Nah.  You worry too much.  You saw what happened out there today.  These kids got nothing on Seebeck.  Why, they don't even know that Howell's alive, let alone that he's a Grand Master in the Cult of En."

"You think they suspect us?"

She gave the same winsome smile that, had the boys as putty in their hands.  "Not a chance, girl.  Not a chance."

By the time they returned to camp, the fire was already lit.  Meanwhile, night had descended in earnest and the beaten warriors were all too happy to have a respite from the day's efforts.

"Well, that was a complete waste of time."  Misty pointed out.

"Yes.  Completely, complete."  Agreed Wendell.  He tried to laugh, but winced.  A bullet had hit his shoulder with a glancing blow.  Though the bleeding was nothing worth worrying about, the wound was still starting to bother him. 

How do people in the movies do it?  he asked himself,  Stallone or somebody could be shot a dozen times and keep fighting.  Me?  I'm all done.

Irmingard eased his pride a little when she pointed out, "Well, we did go up against an invincible killing machine with nothing but hand weapons."

"And no plan."  added Jack bitterly.  The group was looking to him for leadership, but, "It was all my fault.  Sorry I let you down."

Lola placed a hand on his back, but he pushed it away.

She persisted.  "Nobody is blaming you!"

"Yeah.  Nobody's blaming."  said Wendell, slowly standing.  He nodded for the woods and excused himself, muttering something about a dry tree.

"I was trained for this sort of thing.  I should have known better." Jack replied to the group, "So yeah, I think I am the one to blame."

"Well, you're wrong then."  She gave him a playful shove.  Perhaps a little too playful.  He went over backwards off the log he was sitting on and smashed against the ground.  Golden stars sparkled in his vision.

The fall did not improve his melancholy mood.  "Figures."  he said, looking up at the first stars appearing through the treetops.

She smiled and patted him on the shin.  (The only part of him still within reach.) 

Then she noticed her sister stood with folded arms on the far side of the circle, lost deep in thought.  It could only mean one thing.  Her smile faded.

"What is it Irm'?" she barely dared ask.

"The plan failed.  Our enemies are still on the loose.  It's time to return back to Seebeck tower."  She stared across the circle at her sister, flickering fire illuminated her face from below, giving it an evil visage.

"No!" Lola mouthed silently, but the other girl's gaze was hot as the flames themselves.

She was right.  It was time.  Lola grew even sadder.

"Okay, so... why would we want to go back there?"  asked a confused Misty.

Lola did a double take at the new question.  "Oh, to use the phone and notify the authorities."  She came up with the lie and gave it without missing a beat.  She was proud of that.

They heard the snap of a twig off to the left.

"Uh oh." said Lola.  "There goes that plan."  Her meaning, totally different to the various listeners.

Jack pulled her and Misty to the ground next to him.  "Quiet!  We're surrounded!" he whispered emphatically. 

They all looked around.  The echoes of the rocky valley made it difficult to determine from which direction the sounds were coming from.

Suddenly, a thud and a crash were heard in the undergrowth.  Then a deafening volley of gunfire shattered the still night.

Jack and the girls peeped cautiously up over the log to see what had happened.  Across the way, Lola did the same.

A chilling thought struck Misty.  It flew out of her mouth at once.  "Wait a minute!  Where's Wendell!??"

"Over here."  said a grunting voice.

They turned to see him painfully dragging something in each hand.  In his right he was dragging a sub-machinegun by its strap, difficult because of the wound.  In his left was a human wrist, difficult because of the weight of the body dragging behind it.

The team all ran to his side.

"What happened?"  asked Misty.

"Well, I was out takin' a..."  He caught sight of the attractive young ladies and tweaked his story,  "I was out patrolling our perimeter, when I spotted a couple of Seebeck's goons sneaking up on us."

Irmingard smiled, compelling him to continue.  "Clubbed this guy, and let me tell you how bad that hurts when you're wounded."

He was finally getting some sympathy now and he liked it.  "Plus, let me tell you, firing one of these things,"  he tossed the gun in the dirt at his friends' feet, "with a bum shoulder is no picnic either."

Despite all the pain he claimed, Wendell did not immediately sit down, but started to rifle through the man's clothing.

Lola shot Irmingard a worried look. 

The latter rushed to his side and started fawning over him,  "You must be exhausted.  Come sit down by me and let my sister do that."

Wendell allowed himself to be led away, but also said, "Don't worry.  I already found what we needed."  He held up a satellite phone.

Lola bit her lip.

"Hey!  Way to go, Wendell!"  declared Misty cheerily.  "Now we won't have to go back to Seebeck tower after all!"

Lola's shoulders slumped.  So much for that plan.

There was nothing for it, though.  They'd go after the Juggernaught again.  She knew that much.  And if they started making headway against Seebeck's plans, well...

Either way, the real battle was about to begin!

The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Juggernaught: Chapter 36 - Juggernaught

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study.  If you just tuned in, start reading here!


Morning brought no new answers.

"I don't like this." said Misty.  "Whatever could to that to a town..."

Jack nodded.  "Yeah. And dollars to doughnuts that Seebeck character must be involved.  I'm starting to really regret letting that weasal go."

"Yeah, but you said yourself, trying to take a kicking, screaming captive with us would only bog us down."

"Yeah, she's right." added Wendell.  "Now we've got a shot of catching up to this thin while the trail's still fresh."

All eyes turned to him, but no one spoke.  Only gawked.

"What?"  he whined impatiently.

"You really intend to follow that thing?"  Irmingard said.  She had been hanging sweetly onto his arm up until now.

"You know that's insane, right?"  asked Jack.

Wendell's eyes darted back and forth among his friends, still silently looking at him like a man from outer space.

"Well, in my defense..." he offered, "If it's insane, then it's the last thing they'll expect!"

Everybody gave some form of groan and/or face-palm.  All except Misty, who it struck as hilarious.

When she recovered herself enough to speak, "Okay, sorry.  But he's got a point, you know.  What are we gonna do?  Go home?  I don't think so."

"Come on, guys, this is exactly the kind of action we were Jealous over Kurt and his boys getting." She stabbed the air with two fingers in the direction of Lola and Irmingard.  "And since I met you girls, I've never seen you back down from a fight, either."

They smiled and nodded.  They seemed flattered at the allegation.

"Woa, woa, woa."  Jack waved his hands in the air.  "Am I really the only one that thinks that a handfull of teenagers going up against a village-destroying mechanical monster is a bad idea."

"Yeah!"  said everyone in the circle.

"Anyway, you're out-voted."  Lola waved him off.  "Let's get on the trail of this thing!"

Upon tracking and locating their target, the team decided to make way on their stomach the last few yards so as to maintain cover in the low foliage.

They barely had a chance to get a glimpse of the towering wall of metal and machinery, before they witnessed its many gun turrets swing in their direction.

"Run!"  cried Jack.

Nobody needed to be told.  They were all making for the cover of a boulder at the top of a nearby ridge.

They hit the dirt and returned fire, using the weapons pilfered from Seebeck's tower.  They now seemed woefully small and inadequate, and ammo was already low from their earlier escapades.

"Any ideas, folks, would be great." said Misty, not looking up as she popped off another round.

"Okay, we can beat this.  What've they got that we haven't got?"  asked Jack.

Wendell shrugged.  "Robotic cannons that can blast the hat off a housefly at 100 yards.  How can you beat a robot brain with lightning reflexes?"

"You really think they're robotic?" asked Misty.

Jack seemed to be considering something so she turned to Irmingard.

"He may be right.  No other way of explaining the perfect accuracy and synchronization."

Jack snapped his fingers.  "That's it!  'Robot brain'!"

"Yeah, it can out-think us.  So what?"

"Ever hear about Garry Kasparov vs Deep Blue?"

Misty recalled, "Yeah, yeah.  The Man vs. The Machine.  They made us watch it in school.  Never seemed to have any practical value.   (Besides scaring people, that is.)"

"Well, here's some practical value for you:  Some chalked Kasperov's victories up to his human ability to behave unpredictably at times - something a computer can't process."

Wendell was clueless.  " 'Behave unpredictably'?  What good does tha--  Hey. Why's everybody looking at me?"

It clicked.  "Oh no." he said, waving his hands.

"Get out there Wendell." said Misty with a jerk of her head in the direction.

"And do what!??"

"Scream, run around, tell lame knock-knock jokes... whatever you do.  You've got to confuse the computer with your random nonsense while we knock out that gun."

"Why do I have to... hey!  Hey!  Quit pushin'!"

"Think of it this way:" said Jack.  "You only just finished saying how 'insane' is the last thing they'd expect."

Everybody nodded.  "You said that.  You did."  Irmingard pointed out.

"And 'insane' is what you do best."

Wendell felt inclined to take that as an insult until Misty said, "Yeah.  It's kind of like... your superpower."

At that, Wendell stood and sucked in a lungfull of air.  He stuck out his chest like those superhero comics of which he was so fond.

"Great!" Jack quickly shoved Wendell from cover. 

The latter turned around and shouted, "And my knock-knock jokes ARE NOT lame!"

Misty shrugged.  She whispered aside to Jack, "I hope he doesn't get deaded out there.  Then I'll feel bad."

"Me too."

A row of geysers erupted in the dirt as a machine gun tracked toward him.  

"Eep!", he shouted and bolted in the opposite direction.

He took on a crazily winding, zig-zagging course through the deadly shooting gallery.  Despite the amount of lead flying, he seemed to be able to keep one step ahead of the artificial intelligence.

For all his antics, he wasn't able to approach.  However, the distraction did give the others a chance to size up their foe for the first time.

"What'dy think?" asked Jack to the others.

Misty said, "Looks like one of those huge tracked thingys that NASA uses to bring spaceships out to the launch pad."

"Yeah, but everything's high up on legs like a deep sea oil platform.  No way we'll be able to get up to the good stuff from the ground."

"We could disable the tracks."  Lola pointed out.

"Not with those guns.  Look."  Jack drew some imaginary lines in the air as he said, "They're machine controlled, so they can swivel a full 180 in their sockets.  They'd be able to shoot straight down on us."

"What's worse," Jack continued, "I'd venture to guess that whole platform is a couple of floors of barracks for those zombie soldiers.  No telling how many are in there, and how many back at the tower were reserves."

Misty added, "Up on top, where we can't see... probably the whole roof is covered with choppers to bring 'em places."

"So you think our being here is all a wash, then?" asked Irmingard.

" 'fraid so." replied Jack.

"Say.  How's he doing out there?" she added, gesturing beyond the rock with her head.

Misty and Jack popped their heads out of cover once again.

"Good job, Wendell!"  Jack called out, trying to encourage his friend to keep it up.

"Whadya mean?"  Wendell shouted back, "It didn't even like my cactus joke!"

He jumped like a startled hare at the next gunshot and ran off in some crazy direction.

Jack rolled his eyes and muttered, "The cactus joke."

"Surprised it didn't shoot him for that alone." said Misty.

After a silence, offering, "I could shoot him."

"Maybe later.  Might as well call him back though."  Jack sighed and reluctantly added. "Let's get outta here."

The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Journal: Not Dead Yet (plus sneak peeks!)

Good evening everybody.

Since this blog has been badly neglected, I thought I owed you all an update on what's going on.

At the end of November I "temporarily" put off the Juggernaught story to finish up NaNoWriMo story.  Naturally, that "temporary" extended through the holidays.

And then in January I decided to push myself to do ANOTHER NaNoWriMo.  Yep, that's right, I completed an entire rough draft of another installment of the Moast Unusual series!

True to form, it has everything:  Ancient riddles, car chases, mayhem, lazers, and Wendell being... Wendellish.
 Almost as an afterthought, [Jack] added, "I hope it isn't a big deal all the traffic accidents we caused."

The Prime minister smiled warmly. "No, no, dear boy. Parliament will understand."

"Yeah, and that mailbox we exploded." Wendell added.

"M-mailbox?" asked the Prime Minister. A look of concern washed over her face.

Her eyes drifted to Jane.

Jane shrugged and shook her head, pointing at the bandage. The news came as just as surprising to her.

Jack whispered to Wendell, "I think they call them 'pillar boxes' over here."

"Oh. Right." he said back, and amended his statement to the Prime Minister, "Sorry we exploded one of your pillar boxes. It seemed like such a good idea at the time."

He hung his head in shame. "Now, in hindsight, it just seems violent and dumb."
The story came together so well that I decided to insert it in between Queen of Atlantis and the planned book 2 (which is long enough, but has plot holes big enough to drive, say, a Juggernaught through)

So, between those two, Beast Forever ready for edit, and Juggernaught nearing the end, that makes two more books nearly ready for release, and another two right on their heels.  Does that really mean I could get FOUR titles released this!??  I dunno.  But I'm, sure excited to find out!

Of course, there's a big "if" in all this.  Which will explain why I haven't accounted for February yet.  Remember last winter when I got that nasty tonsil infection?   Well this time spent the last month with severe respiratory problem in my left lung.  Every time I plan a DR's appointment, it clears up just enough that I think I'm winning.  "Well, maybe a little longer..." I say.  But then it hangs on... and on... and on...

Like I say, I've lost a whole month over this business, so unless there's a major improvement this weekend, I'm going in.  There.  I said it.  Now I have to go in to the chop-shop.  You're my accountability, okay? ;)

Well, that's a  pretty long update.  I'll close in my usual way and then add a cover idea sketch for the new book.  The elements are all part of the story and I think the imagery is a little interesting / curiosity-provoking.  Let me know what you think over on the socials.

Live Your Adventure,
-E.L. Fletcher

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Review: Transforming Grace

Author: Jerry Bridges
Publisher: NavPress
ISBN: 978-1-63146-864-3

Cover Synopsis:
Grace is amazing because it is God’s provision for when we fall short of His standards. Unfortunately, too many of us embrace grace for our salvation but then leave it behind in our everyday lives. We base our relationship with God on our performance rather than on His love for us, even when we intuitively know that our performance cannot earn us the love we so desperately crave.

Isn’t it time to stop trying to measure up and begin accepting the transforming power of God’s grace? The product of more than ten years of Bible study, Navigator author Jerry Bridges’s Transforming Grace is a fountainhead of inspiration and renewal that will show you just how inexhaustible and generous God’s grace really is.

As you know, I've done a lot of book reviews before.  This one is unique (with the possible exception of Ben-Hur) in that I kind of knew what to expect going into it.  I'd heard the late Jerry Bridges' expanded view of Grace before,  and when an opportunity came up to get a free copy of one of his books, I snapped that deal right up!

First off, I want to start by saying this is a difficult book to review.  It isn't that I disliked the subject, nor was it at all difficult to understand.  (Far from it, on both counts!)  The trouble comes when you read two chapters and go, "hmmm", and have to think about it for a day or two before continuing on.

In other words, this book leaves you a lot to think about along the way.  The word "Transforming" is much more than just a snappy title.

I think the first thing that has to be discussed is the underlying premise of the book.

The Christian life is often broken down into three high-fallutin' buzzwords, namely:
1) Justification - This is when you accept the gift of Christ's substitutionary sacrifice on your behalf and are declared "clean" as you exchange your sin for his righteousness.

2) Sanctification - That is, living life as a new creation.  You no longer live in ignorance and sin, but instead have the power to overcome it!  You are being transformed from a filthy, egotistical sinner into somebody who is holy and good.

3)  Glorification - Though we have a new drive to be holy, we still mess up constantly, and that gets frustrating fast.  In Heaven, where we are headed, there is no such aggravation because we'll given the ultimate extreme makeover.  We get a whole new body and everything!  More importantly, total immunity from sin.

Perhaps a simpler way of putting it:
1) Free from the consequences of sin.
2) Free from the power of sin.
3) Free from the presence of sin.
But you can get that much in any good, Bible-believing church.

This is where Jerry Bridges steps in and says, "hold on a minute..."  Justification comes from God's Grace and not of your doing.  Glorification is from God's Grace and not your doing.  So why is it, that Christians living the life in between act as if it IS their own doing?

"I've got to buckle down.  I've got to work harder and be a better... Husband... Father... Christian, in general." we say to ourselves.

One time a friend and I were walking through our local bookstore.  He pointed up to a sign and said "Irony".  I didn't get it for a minute.  There was a whole section labelled, "Christian Self-Help".  But then it hit me.  SELF... help!??  That says a lot about the boat we're in, doesn't it!

To counter that mentality, Jerry Bridges looks to Philippians 1:6 "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ".  Who's job is this, again?  Mine?  I don't think so!

Couple that with the idea of freedom, Galatians 5:1, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."  This idea of doing stuff... that gets called a "burden" and "slavery".

This is one of those special sorts of concepts that you hear, and then next time you go read your Bible find it all over the place... when you know to look for it, that is.

The premise, though simple, is really pretty revolutionary, and it leads to quite a number of different and startling ideas, which the rest of the book is devoted to pointing out. 

(P.S. I'm pretty sure some of these ideas will creep into my writing from here on out.  How could they not!??) 

For example, Bridges points out the revolutionary difference between "have to" / "ought to" and "want to" / "get to".  Most Christians are living under the "have to" mentality, which is oppressive.  I "have to" go to church, or I "have to" stop this sin or that.  That's burdensome, and certainly not the thinking of a transformed heart!

Like if you're walking along the beach with your wife and a pretty girl goes by.  Try telling her, "I'd really rather be with that person, but I made a promise when we got married so I have to go home with you instead." 
Yeah.  Thanks a lot.

That, verses, "She's okay, but I'm glad I get to go home with the best girl on the beach."  Both have the same net result, but which one has the right heart?

Bridges, quoting an old English preacher points out that for something to be truly good, it consists of three parts:  The right thing, done the right way, and achieving the right end.  We get all legalistic, looking only at the right end, but never even pause to consider the motives that led up to it.

In fact, he says that more often than not, we're usually motivated to do "good" soley because of what we get out of the deal!  Whether it means recognition from others, a check-mark on some imaginary score card, or simply personal feel-good, the motive is the same:  Selfishness.  Only when we recognize and admit that Grace is truly 100% un-earned do we gain freedom from acting under the wrong motivation.

But you're probably reading this, thinking, "That Bridges guy... he's teaching that people can just run amok and sin all they want!"  He is not into that at all, and discusses it at length.  Furthermore, he also quotes Dr Martin-Lloyd Jones (who also no slouch when it came to righteousness).  "[Dr. Lloyd-Jones] was saying that the presentation of salvation by grace alone [...] leaves us us to the possibility that people may charge us with saying, 'It does not matter what you do; sin as much as you like.'"  He even suggests that if we're not in danger of being misunderstood, then we're neglecting the message!
Now, at this point, either one of two things have happened:
1) I've done a bad job of writing this article and you're thoroughly confused.

- or -

2) You're holding your noggin' going, "wooooah" like some washed-up flower child.
I'm hoping for number 2. :)

The thing is, what I've said barely scratches the surface of what the book has to offer.  The it goes on and on like this - one "aha" moment after another.  I obviously recommend it, even to the level of importance of the classics such as "My Utmost for His Highest".  It's that important.

Quality-wise, the points are all fully supported by large blocks of scripture.  Likewise, he has a good command of the wise teachers of old, and though the topics tend to meander, Bridges does a great job of explaining mind-blowing topics in a way that is both simple and solid.

If you look for the exact ISBN rather than just the title, this new edition also comes with a discussion guide (approximately the last 1/4 of the book) and a "Help for Leaders" section in the back, which would be useful in covering the material in a group setting.

I can think of no better way to end this review than with Brides' own words:
I invite you and urge you to lay aside any remnant of self-goodness you may think you still have.  Admit your total spiritual bankruptcy, and drink deeply from the infinite grace of God.  And then in deep awareness of what you received, extend that same spirit of grace to others.
Amen, to that!

Live YOUR Adventure,
-E.L. Fletcher.

[DISCLAIMER: The preceding unbiased review was performed in exchange for the book.]