Friday, July 21, 2017

Book Review: You can do This

 You can do This
ISBN: 1631467468
Author: Tricia Lott Williford [website]
Published by: Navpress

DISCLAIMER: This book was received from the publisher in exchange for a free, unbiased review.

Cover Description:

YOU ARE SMART.  You are kind.  You are beautiful.  And even if you've never thought so, you are confident.  You have everything you need to begin.  This is your story, your life, your moment.

I'm inviting you into the confidence conversation.

It's time to stop being unhappy with yourself.  You can choose to stop second-guessing all of your decisions and commitments and wondering whether your life would be better if only you'd chosen differently.  I invite you to be present where you are -- where God is! -- and to embrace your life and live out your God-given gift of confidence.

Come join me in the pages, my friend.  Let's talk about who you are.  Let's hold hands and run hard into the glorious mess of it all. I don't know what challenges wait for you, but this I know for sure:
You can do This!


When I first ordered this book, the title and summary both promised "seizing the confidence God offers", in general terms, but when I started into it I quickly realized that this is a book for women.  In fact, I didn't even get past the table of contents, in which each chapter description is, "The confident girl.... [does whatever]".  This could have been made clearer, but I really don't hold it against the book.  Although I will say that the material could have been handled in such a way to appeal to men as well, broadening the author's audience.

Incidentally, my wife took one look at the cover and immediately said, "It's a girl book."  I was taken aback and asked how she knew that.  "There's a pair of shoes on it."  I'd have gotten killed for saying that! :)

Even so, I really began to resonate with this book right away, especially in the introduction where she stated, "The only difference between you and the confident person is one thing:  Confidence."  At this point I started thinking I could get some great things out of this book, but little did I realize that there was a shadow lurking, even within this clever turn of a phrase.

Wilford is very a good author, and does a great job of being vulnerable with her own struggles with feelings of inadequacy. 

"I don't make mistakes, I have failures." she says.  That is, when something goes wrong, she (and I, both) struggle with the lie that we didn't just make a mistake because we're human, but we failed because we're failures. This was a real shot-to-the-heart moment!

Not only that, but the opposite is true as well, namely, not only does losing prove I'm worthless, but also, since I'm worthless I don't even deserve the victories.  

(I'd add that this self-destructive thinking is only re-enforced through peer-pressure and socialist education which punishes exceptionalism as "weird" and wrong, and marginalizes the exceptionally smart as, "nerds", but that's a can of worms for another fishing trip.)

"If I'm honest," Williford says, "there's a part of me that will always be a middle schooler navigating the cafeteria of life, hoping to quickly find my place; dodge the microscope of critics; and feel known, seen, and safe."

<raises hand>  Yep.  Totally with you.

In many ways I identified with the author, and enjoyed her godly advice.  Yet the ideas presented in this book have a strange duality that makes it difficult for me to endorse.  While the author is clearly confident with scripture and handles it well, she also has synchrotized that with the advice of ungodly purveyors of wisdom of our age.

Now, on some level I don't mind this.  After all, it is a fundamental concept of logic to take a given statement and evaluate it soley on its own merit rather than the character of the one giving it.

That being said, there is a vast difference between that and becoming a doting disciple of the ungodly.

Williford relies far too heavily on the advice of "new spirituality" purveyors such as Oprah Winfrey and Brené Brown as well as her psychotherapist Jana, devoting the entire middle third of her book to their advice alone, no scripture needed!

[It may be off topic here, but briefly, "new spirituality" is the same as old idolatry.  The only difference between an idol carved from stone and one made of ideas is that the former can at least keep papers from blowing off your desk.]

As a result, what started out as an authentic and genuine problem and Biblical advice, the book degenerates quickly into wonderful ideas like visualizing a box in your mind to hide all of your emotional "stuff" in.  That is, my friends, is what we call A HORRIBLE IDEA!  When my kids hide stuff they don't want to deal with in a box, around our house we call that "stashing", and as I point out a minimum of 300 times a day, "That doesn't fix the mess.  That only moves the mess."  Emotionally, it's even worse, because you don't know when they're going to pop out at you like funhouse monsters.

Dear, sweet Jana sure isn't doing Williford any favors!

I think the lowest point for me though (and I think this is a great example of the conflicted advice), was when she said, "Hold on... to what?  You hold on to whatever is keeping you from floating away.  You find the one thing that is solid, safe, and secure, and you don't let it out of your sight.  Don't let it out of your grip.  Hold on to the one thing you can find that is real and true."

Freeze frame there.  So far, sounds right, doesn't it?  We know exactly what that "one thing" is!  ...right?  ...right?

Nope.  "Hold on to the one thing you can find that is real and true.  Your child.  Your art.  Your family.  A playlist.  A song.  A phrase.  A word.  Hold on to that with both hands."

Oh!  Good thing you said something!  I was going to go for the firm foundation of the Word of God [Luke 6:46-49], but my mistake.  Just need to update the old iTunes. 

Okay, I apologize for my over-the-top snarkiness, but this completely reeks of new spirituality.  That is, " 'whatever' [direct quote from above] gives you a spiritual buzz is just as good as anything else, just cling to that and you'll be fine."  Not cool.  Very not cool.

I mean, upbeat music and those other things are great, but PLEASE don't run to your playlist in times of trouble!  That's just idolatry all over again!!!


In conclusion, would I recommend this book?  Sadly, no.  And if you choose to read it anyway, I recommend doing so with the utmost discernment, testing everything against the Word.

Furthermore, my heart breaks for the author who has undergone so much.  Please join me in praying for this woman personally, that the Spirit should bring discernment of the many voices competing for her attention.  That she could turn away from those who are wise in the world's eyes, and rather find comfort and healing in the arms of Jesus.   Amen.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Juggernaught: Chapter 25 - The Decisions We Make II

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

There in the humble village of mud and sticks Mac Crieche preached every opportunity he could get.  There he stood, day after day, in the shadow of En, calling out to the crowd that righteousness before God was not an achievement to be earned, but a gift to be accepted.

The first to realize the significance of that was his pagan assistant Charelle-En.  When he told her she only need trust in Christ and then be baptized, her pale blue eyes seemed to come alive like the rumbling of grey-green clouds rolling in off the ocean.

It reminded him of home for some reason.

At her baptism, Charelle-En (which meant the power of En) was given a new name, as was the custom in those days.  He immediately thought of "Sharon" being the closest name from the Bible.  She accepted it gladly and was baptized one crisp autumn morn and then removed as quickly as possible from the stinging cold stream.

Mac Crieche didn't fare so well.  As he was about to climb ashore the first of many approached him, wanting to do the same.

Not only did he have to stand in the icy water long enough to perform a dozen more ceremonies, but he also took the time to question each to determine whether they really understood what it meant.

And so it went.  By the time a year had passed, about half the village had accepted and was becoming a vibrant, perhaps even overzealous, Christian community.

With all of this going on, it didn't take very long to get the priests of En in a fit.  More and more, Mac Crieche would gather a crowd for a sermon at the town square, only to find the place occupied by a ceremony to En.

Neither side believed this was coincidence.

As fate would have it, at one of these events, he was surprised to spot Gorki (or "Gerome"), one of his converts.

Later, when questioned, the man said that he believed everything the Bible said, but feared the wrath of En if he did not see him among the people.  He said most of the people felt the same way, attending the gatherings of Christ out of faith, but still doing lip-service to En out of fear.

Mac Crieche was confused by Gerome's words.  How could these people still attend the bloody ceremonies of En?  Unless...  They believe the idol of En was truly alive and powerful!

He knew what he must do.  All at once his dream made sense.  If he should topple the stone idol and he could demonstrate its true powerlessness.

Yet... if he dared perform such an audacious act, the wrath of the priests of En would be terrible.  To his credit, he had no fear for his own sake, yet Gerome and Sharon and the rest, they stood to lose everything!

How could he choose between utterly eliminating such a great evil, yet at the expense of those who loved and trusted him most?

What to do? ... What to do?


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, July 7, 2017

Space Traipse: A Review.

Hey all,

If you've been enjoying the Juggernaught weekly serial, here is another online book you might want to try.  I've been following it for many weeks now, and have literally laughed out loud with each installment.  Since I liked it so much, I decided to post my review for no other reason than to spread the word.

The story is "Space Traipse : Hold My Beer" by Karina Fabian.
"Space: It’s huge! You think Texas has big skies? Ain’t nothing compared to the view out the viewscreens. And it’s just full of wild places and interesting peoples. These are the adventures of the HMB Impulsive. Its mission: to explore those new and interesting worlds (wilder the better!), to seek out new peoples and to boldly do what no one else has the guts to do! Don’t believe me? Hold my beer!"

Like you may be able to deduce from the title and the intro, it is a science fiction Star Trek parody.  (Space=Star, Traipse=Trek, get it?)  Yet while the parody aspect is certainly there, the world and the characters stand on their own.  That, as opposed to those parodies where practically every word has to be a mirror of the target world.

And in case you hadn't also gathered by the sub-title "hold my beet", content-wise it isn't exactly squeaky clean.  I mean, nothing awful, but probably not good to share with your 3rd grade Sunday School class if you know what I mean.

What I like most is the author's style.  Between her reckless anything-can-happen universe, and writing style replete with literary gags, I'd say the story seems like something Douglas Adams might have written.

For instance, in the latest installment, there is an explosion and one of the extras gets to take over for the injured crewman.  While everybody else is busy worrying about the battle going on, he's all smiling texting his mom about his new promotion.  "If it was his last [day] alive, he wanted her to know he died relevant."

Anyway, if you like online serieses and don't mind a bit of redneck-ish humor, I heartily recommend giving Space Traipse a try!

Live Your Adventure!
-E.L. Fletcher

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Juggernaught: Chapter 24 - The Decisions We Make I

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

On their long journey back to the Barbarian village, Mac Crieche taught the people a little of the Latin language, but soon realized that he would get further learning theirs.

In this, his new friend, the maiden Charelle-En, was an invaluable asset.  It turned out that her grandfather was a deserter from the now abandoned Centurion legion at Apulum.  Not daring to show his face in Roman territory again, he took up residence among these wild people.  Her knowledge of Latin had thus been gained third-hand, and was fairly good, considering.

Her people were an ancient Daradanian tribe, cut off from their Illyrican brothers when the Iazygi tribe swept in from Scythia in the North.  They found themselves wedged into the thin strip of no-man's land separating the Iazyges and the Romans.  Unlike their relatives along the Illyrian coast, who were about half Christian, this group had never heard the Gospel at all.

Like so many other gods, the mighty En regularly demanded the blood, sometimes even death of his followers.  It was no wonder, therefore, that the people were amazed when Mac Crieche began to speak of this backwards God who sacrificed himself for the people!

As they traveled, he soon found himself giving between three and seven impromptu sermons a week.  Invariably it began as answering some questions between one or two individuals, and snowballed into a full crowd.

He even began to notice stray visitors from the tribes through which they passed.  It was all he could do to keep the Daradanians from murdering and robbing them during the sermon.

He thought back to his own country, how so many Irishmen would rather give excuses than to come and hear the Bible preached, while out here here in the heathen wilderness, these people would risk life and limb among hostile strangers just to hear it.

In some ways, perhaps, "Christendom" was further from God than heathendom.

By the time his friends were beginning to soften to the idea of getting along with neighbors, Mac Crieche was presented with an all new problem.

They arrived home and the expedition party immediately scattered throughout the village, each excitedly spreading a mangled rendition of Mac Crieche's teachings.  Damage control would have to come fast, so he asked Charelle-En if they had a town square or some other central place for speaking to crowds.

"I know just the place!" she said (now in her own language) and took him by the arm.

Near the center of the village there was a large clearing free of buildings.  The earth here was hard as concrete, tamped over the years by countless thousands of feet.  At one end lie a raised speaking platform of lashed logs and axe-hewn planks.

She pulled Mac Criechie toward it, but all of a sudden felt her grip slip free.

She turned back to see him frozen in his tracks.  Transfixed, he looked up at the towering idol whose brother he had seen back at the battlefield celebration.  The 20 foot tall En glowered back down at him.

It didn't bother him so much that it was a pagan idol.  Well, of course that did bother him, but worse yet, it was the very same idol from his dream back on the Roman road so many weeks ago.

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!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Juggernaught: Chapter 23 - Boiler Room

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

Misty sprang around the corner, swinging the knife fiercely for where she calculated the unwanted guest's head would be.

She was right about the target, but before she could make contact an iron grasp clamped around her wrist and forced it out and away from its intended target.  With a sound as loud as a landslide in the stillness, the knife clattered to the concrete floor.

Misty berated herself.  Between the wall and the hot boiler like she was, she didn't have the same freedom of movement she was used to.  And that miscalculation had done her in.

To her surprise, however, instead of a counterattack or a cry of alarm, the only retaliation was a, "Sssh.  It's us."

The whisper carried the slight undertone of Jack Savage's voice.

"We wondered when you were going to show up." whispered an equally unseen Wendell.

Misty was annoyed by the insinuation that she was slow in escaping.  She defended herself by saying, "Easy for you to say.  There were two of you guys."

"Exactly!  That makes it even harder!", said Wendell.

"Does not!"

"Sssh!", said Jack again.

Misty turned it down a notch.  "I am glad to see you guys.  I was worried that you'd eaten that zombie doughnut thing."

"No danger of that." laughed Wendell.

Jack and Misty rolled their eyes at the statement and who was making it.

Misty added, "Too bad Howell and his team didn't get the hint though."  There was a a deep sense of regret in her voice that they all felt.

Jack said, "Yeah, well, we'll get to the bottom of that when we're out of here.  Till then, we have to lie low and wait for the hubbub to die down.

"So in the mean time...  Keep quiet, think through our options, and try to get whatever sleep you can... in a sauna... standing up."

"Plus, don't snore or you'll get shot." added Wendell.

"Yeah, right.  Pleasant dreams." said Misty ironically.

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!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Juggernaught: Chapter 22 - Mice in the Attic

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

Misty carefully crept through the dusty ceiling like a spider.  Even with her small frame she had to make sure that her weight was fully supported by the flimsy metal cross-members as she went. 

Worse still, even as small as she was, she quickly learned that she had to settle her weight very slowly on each new support or it would creak and pop, potentially giving her position away.  Any noise, no matter how slight, was like a blaring car horn to her hyper-alert senses.

At the moment she didn't have any particular destination in mind.  She was only trying to put as much distance as possible between her and her last known whereabouts.

At length, her slow progress was checked by a concrete column.  Its size tipped her off that it must be an elevator shaft.  This was a good thing.  If she could find an access hatch, she'd have free reign of all the attics on all the floors.  Some might even have drop ceilings instead of solid ones that she could use to lower herself down through.

Misty quickly found the hatch she was hoping for and began unscrewing the cover with a butter knife she had palmed back at the barracks.  All the while she was trying to decide which direction to take.

If she went up, that would put her farther from her eventual escape route.  But on the other hand, that would also mean the guards would be less thorough in their search there.

She took a few deep breaths, trying to clear all of the competing thoughts and scenarios out of her head.  It wasn't that they were bad or wrong -- just loud.  She knew she had to focus.

By now she realized where her training had steered her wrong.  Dr Puttery's D&D wargames were too cut-and-dry.  Make the "right decision", and you'd find the exit.  Make the "wrong decision", and there'd be a monster behind the door and make a quick end of you.

In real life, there were many more kinds of decisions than that, and whether some, or all, or none of them would work out... that was dependent on a thousand other things that you couldn't possibly know or control.

Upon realizing this, the tendency is to freeze up and not do anything at all. 

No choice was pretty much always the worst choice though, so Misty shook herself from her mental stupor.

A good hideout was any place they weren't likely to search.  So up, then?

No, better still, down.  All the way down.  To the basement!

And so she went.

Going was fast and simple in that direction, and before long she found herself standing on solid ground among the elevator's emergency cushion springs.

The maintenance hatch here was even easier to use than the one above.  Instead of screws it had a half-turn metal bar on the outside connected to a tiny tab on this side.  She simply grabbed this between her thumb and forefinger and gave it a slow turn, pulling some slight pressure to prevent any metal-on-metal noise.

Peeping out from behind the hatch she surveyed the room.  She'd still need to take cover somewhere that would mask her infrared signature from any sweep teams and their FLIR goggles.

Then she saw it.  In one corner was a huge boiler tank.  The corner behind it would be tight but Misty figured it would be about the right size for one person.

Carefully she made her way across the darkened room and began to wedge herself around the scalding surface.  When she had just passed the halfway point, she heard something. 

It wasn't much.  In fact  nothing that she could even describe.  Still, it betrayed that she was not alone!

She withdrew the knife from her side pocket with her free arm.  She took several deep breaths.

"It'll have to be quick.", she thought to herself.  "One peep out of the person and the jig is up."

She gripped the knife tighter... and sprang.

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, May 19, 2017

Update: on the road to recovery

Hey all,

Just giving you a little update since I haven't been throwing down a lot of posts lately and you're probably wondering what gopher hole I fell down.

Well, I caught a spring cold, but unlike those around me, it kept getting worse and worse.  My ear, jaw, ... basically the whole side of my head was swollen up like a pumpkin.  Couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, couldn't even swallow.

Of course this all happens in the middle of a class final project.

So eventually DW drags me into the Dr.  (which says a lot about how bad it was for me to go willingly).  Turns out I had a severe case of "peritonsillar abscess", which is a nasty little thing.  In fact, up until recently they thought this is what George Washington died of!

Anyway, they vandalized me personally pretty good and sent me home whimpering in pain, saying there was a 60% chance it didn't work and I'd need a CAT scan and throat surgery on Monday.  This was NOT my finest moment!

Got a lot of my tribe on prayer and, mercifully, it did turn around!  Praise the LORD!

I'm taking it easy now and letting the antibiotics do their thing.  (They somehow they changed the balance of things and gave me thrush, but compared to the pain before... I'm sure not complaining!)

Coming up for you guys I'll be back on track with the Juggernaught story this week, as well as some more midweek articles.  I hope to figure out some video resources to go with those so you can use them in your own Bible study groups if you want.

Then I've got the Moast Unusual sequel and another book coming out, as well as Queen of Atlantis in more formats, so plenty to do.

What else can I say, but it's good to be back!
 - E.L. Fletcher