Monday, August 14, 2017

Chapter 29: Crazy


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

"You're crazy!", accused Misty.  "There's no way that psychopath is just going to let us walk away!"

Jack's eyebrows twisted and then, a moment later, untwisted.

"Yes", he said with a gleam in his eye, "that's exactly what he's going to do."

The three, sat, leaning on their rifles, and conversing idly amid the rubble that was once the protected maximum security level of Seebeck Tower.

Pools of potent-smelling green mind control liquid dotted the floor, dripping from the cracked and broken remains of their storage vats.

Misty and Jack nibbled away at fresh doughnuts they'd found on a series of rolling bakers' racks.  Wendell, however, turned the snack down.

"Well, now I know En must be real."  Misty joked, being lighter-hearted now than in several days since she'd thought Howell ended life as a human sacrifice.

"How's that?" asked Jack, surprised.

"It'd take quite a miracle to make Wendell lose his appetite!"

The two laughed, but Wendell only shook his head.

"You sure about that, Jack?  That deal about Seebeck letting us go?"  he said, changing the subject.

"Of course.  This goo is some powerful stuff, but it must wear off pretty quick.  They have to re-dose the army every morning, so they're only a couple of hours short of missing their medication.  I'm guessing a day, maybe two tops, and this place is gonna be filled with a couple thousand former slaves, angry and armed, and all after Seebeck and his goons."

He shot a glance at Misty and continued.  "Is he going to let us walk away?  Oh, yes.  The only question is, are we going to let him walk away?"

NEXT CHAPTER ... COMING SOON!


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!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Chapter 28: The Sea of Regrets


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

Mac Crieche was an old man.  It was now many years since his visit to the lost Daradanian people.  He looked out over the Eastern sea that frosty morn, as he often did.  Fog hung over the land, as it often did, watering the pungeant turf, if not by rain, then by general sogginess.

"Thinkin' about th' old times?"  said his the voice of his wife with a lilt she'd picked up somewhere along the way.

Mac Crieche nodded without turning.  "Aye.  Lot of adventures."

She looked up at him and tried to get something more from his glistening eyes.  They spoke volumes, but in a language she couldn't read.

"Ye never made it to the Holy City.  Ever regret turnin' back?"

"Mmm."  came the non-committal answer.

That may or may not be true, she decided, but surin' there's something more.

She watched the wind crawl across the emerald sward and listened to the sea crash against the rocks below.  'Tis a fine land. she thought.

As the sea kept up its relentless pounding, another thing came to mind.  She said it before thinking the better of it.  "Ever regret turnin' back?"

It still could have been about Jerusalem, but they both knew it wasn't.

"The idol of En."  he replied.  This time a low heaviness in his voice told the wife that she was on the right track.

He turned to look at her, and she noticed a tear running down his opposite cheek.

"The angel - the one from th' vision - he was right,"  he continued, "I had a choice t' make, and because o' my decision, the heathen god is still out there somewhere.

"I shudder to think of if Sharon, but who knows what terrors tha' abomination still has in store for future generations?"

"God knows."  she said simply.

It was true, of course.  Mac Crieche knew it.  From the vision, there was to be another that would complete the task he'd started.  But he also had seen the flames and the untold devastation that would come of his decision.

He wept.

Mrs Mac Criechie reached out to his arm.

She had a question on her mind.  It was something that had been plaguing her from time to time ever since very night she and the other believers had left her people in the clutches of En.  Thirty long years she'd kept it bottled up.  She feared it.

Yet now, in the wake of her admonition that, 'God knows', what else could she do but say it aloud?  Could she really, in good conscience, ask her husband to rely on the providence of God to govern the universe, when she, herself, refused to let things happen for fear of the outcome?

"Mac Crieche?"  she asked, barely audible.

"Yes, m' dear."

"Do you ever regret your decision?  Do you ever regret... us?"

He looked away from her, back to the sea.

Silence crashed like the waves.

This was the moment she'd been dreading for decades.  Was she about to find out that his life with her was a choice he regretted?  Was she about to learn that her entire life and all she now held dear was nothing but a wrong decision he counted upon his ledger?

A lone gull made a shrill cry, making a lazy circle back out to sea.

Mac Crieche, for his part, knew her well enough by now to know exactly how she must be feeling.  He knew how the silence must be torture for her, but the truth would be worse.  Yet he would have to tell the truth, that, though he loved her more than ever, he still regretted leaving En standing.  If he had it to do all over again...?

But then a high-pitched squeal of delight knocked him free from his inner turmoil.

He spun to see his granddaughter running across the meadow toward him.  Her parents walked calmly hand-in-hand, but the four-year-old couldn't restrain herself that long and ran to him with outstretched arms.

Little Sharon, they called her.  Like the rose.  And what a rose, she was!  Sweeping her up in his arms, he spun her around like a man half his age.

When he finally placed her back on solid ground, he was weeping again.  This time not out of regret for what he had lost, but for joy of what he had gained.

Through tear-streaked eyes, he said, "Mrs Mac Criche, if I had it to do all over again..."

Her hand flew to her mouth to cover up a ghasp.

"...I'd choose you."



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, August 4, 2017

Review: Eats With Sinners


Eats With Sinners [FREE pdf - forward, intro, and chapter 1]
ISBN 9781631468322
Arron Chambers [website]
pastor at Journey Christian Church, Greely CO [website]


Cover Description: 

If you want to follow Jesus on the incredible journey of sharing Him while sharing life with others, it’s time to eat with sinners—people just like you . . . and me.

As long as people have been sharing their faith, there have been critics. Even Jesus dealt with naysayers as He spread His gospel: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2, NIV). Sometimes we worry about our reputation when we spend time with non-Christians. But more than that, we worry about the time we spend with non-Christians: Will we understand each other? Will I offend them? Will they offend me? How long will it take before this relationship falls apart?

Every meal Jesus ate, He ate with sinners. And over food and drink, through stories and insights and observations and conversations, people let their guards down, and sinners came to know the love of God and the hope of salvation. Now revised and updated, Eats with Sinners helps you to let your guard down so the love of God can get out across the table to your non-Christian friends.

Pros:

The author is light-hearted and witty, and the text is well thought out and full of great illustrations, for instance:
"A friend of mine was visiting his mentor, a retired preacher, in the hospital."  The author's friend was fumbling for words of comfort to say when the old preacher, "patted his knee, and said, 'It's okay.  I haven't been preaching fairy tales all these years.' "
There are also a number of 1-2 page personal stories from other people.  I like this because often in books like this the author relies entirely on his own encounters.  While that's fine logically, after an entire book of it, it can start to feel a little narcissistic.  I appreciate the variety.
Everything is extensively and solidly backed by scripture (mostly hovering around Luke chapter 14-ish).
This book originated as a sermon series which amounted to a mini-revival of sorts, including hundreds of baptisms.  Once, 52 people on the same day!  They have developed their success into an outreach program available at: www.eatswithsinners.com

I also learned that there is another version available, ISBN 0784723184, which contains "recipes".  Whatever that means.
On to the content...
The primary issue is that the author, while glad of the Church institution, realizes the flaw in expecting a stationary building to be able to reach people. 
"I want you to know that I don't hate church buildings, but I don't love them either -- because church buildings are just very attractive, functional, but expensive tools." 
 He gives the analogy,
"I like to fish.  I like to catch fish.  The best way to catch fish is on a boat, because a boat allows you to go wherever the fish are biting.  Another way to catch fish is to build a dock and hope the fish come to you.  Too many church buildings are immovable docks -- and the fish stopped biting years ago."
Clearly a bigger "come to church" billboard is not the answer, but real people, one-on-one, forming relationships with other people.  That was Christ's model of evangelism and it should be ours as well!
If I could summarize variety of the different themes going on, it would be, "Be intentional about doing life among 'sinners' and don't let other things stand in the way."  These 'other things' come in a wide variety.
For instance, the desire to hide behind a mask of perfection.  The author says, "Authenticity is what integrity wears when it goes out in public."  He says that, "Men and women with integrity are unstoppable" because they have nothing to hide and no fear of being exposed.

Or, as Luke 5:5 indicates, Just because you're having a "bad day" or you consider yours a "wasted life", doesn't mean the next thing you try won't work (if God is in it).  He talks about record-breaking swimmer Florence Chadwick who lost sight of land during her attempt from Catalina Island to California.  She gave up and was pulled into the boat only to realize when the fog cleared that she was less than a mile from shore.  DON'T give up!

Also, the author calls for a renewed sense of "tolerance" when it comes to dealing with outsiders.  However, he is careful to use the word in the correct way, rather than the typical modern way.  He wisely balances accepting sinners vs. condoning their sin.  "We are supposed to eat with the non-Christian sinners, not the un-repentant Christian ones." (1 Corinthians 5:9-11)

Finally, it was a minor point, but Chambers said something like, "It's not about winning the argument, but winning the person."  The goal is to love people, not get in arguments.  It's a good point, and I wish he would have expanded on it more, rather than including some other things (more on that later).
Therefore, I think we should take both the medium and the message from Jesus.  Meaning, we should preach:  Deliverance for the captives, love not condemnation, the power to overcome, and that "you matter to Jesus". 
[Aside, how ironic is that?  Christians are renown for two things: holding up John 3:16 signs, and pointing fingers to make people feel worthless.  Really?  Is that how that verse says God feels about the world?]
Here are some practical ideas to increase our interaction with sinners:
(some from the book, some mine)
  • Support global missions.  It doesn't have to start off big.  Just learn about a people group.
  • Shop local!  Become a regular! Eat at the local diner (bar stool is better), get your hair cut at local barber shop, etc
  • Join a gym
  • Coach a little-league sport or join an adult league
  • Volunteer or perform at a rest home
  • Attend town council or even run for office
  • Become Christian artist (films, music, etc)
  • Try out for a community theater play
  • Do airport pickup and other services for an international students ministry
  • Start a bar ministry (NOT if you have alcohol temptation, of course!)
  • Participate in, and/or start, community service projects
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter
  • Attend or teach a class at a library or community center
  • Join or start a chess club or tabletop gaming club
  • Anything with the word "club" in it, really (Maybe not Fight Club.  That could be painful.)
  • Drive for Uber
  • Hospital ministry
  • Prison ministry
  • Church bus ministry
  • Get involved helping the handicapped / special needs
  • Inner city mission projects 
  • Have a neighbor over for dinner once a month
  • Attend/host neighborhood block parties


Cons:

Like any book there are always flaws.  Though this time they are very, very minor as opposed to the last couple of sponsored book reviews I've done. (Larger-Than-Life Lara, and You Can do This)

First, and this may be more of an editorial thing, but thing I found most annoying is that they did supporting third-party quotes AND book quotes in the same format boxes.  When I read a book I usually ignore the self-quotes because I find them redundant and annoying, but with the same format I didn't know whether it was going to be a repeat of what I just read, or something clever from John Wesley.

I will also say that about 3/4 of the way through it seemed like the author had already said everything that needed to be said, and was trying to stuff in more material.  Topics like "Joy" and "Humility", while great chapters, seemed only tangentially related to the subject of the book.  It almost felt like the publisher said, "We need more page count." so the author dived into his file cabinet of "greatest hits" sermons.  I'm not overly upset about this, since it wasn't fluff by any means (which is what usually happens).

Without it, we wouldn't have gotten zingers like:
"But I thought that if I gave my life to Jesus I was going to be healthy, wealthy, and wise.  I thought following Jesus meant first class seats, luxury cars, a gold watch, a spacious home in a gated community, perfect teeth, a silk suit, my 'best life now,' and the most important seats at the banquet.

"I hate to break it to you, but that's not the picture Jesus painted.  The picture Jesus painted looks an awful lot like a cross."
 BAM!

Summary:

Buy it.  Read it.  Live it!

There are very few times when I look at a book and cry, "Nailed it!"

There are even fewer books that, if lived out, would have the power to revolutionize society for the better.  This is one of those books!  (Though to be fair, this transformative power does not from Chambers' writing skill or original ideas, but from following the example of Christ.  AS IT SHOULD!)

Live your adventure!
-E.L. Fletcher


Monday, July 31, 2017

Chapter 27 - Zombie Wars


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

Misty, Jack, and Wendell, ran full tilt down the corridor, each giving the gung-ho shout of a crazy person.

"I thought... you said... this would... work."  panted Wendell between breaths.

Jack, who was the only one still holding his pilfered automatic rifle, called over to him.  "Well, they're doing what we expected.  I call that 'working'."

Another of the hoarde got close enough to squeeze off a volley of lead, causing all three to duck as they ran.

"Yeah.  Working."  said Wendell with, perhaps, a dump truck load of irony.

"There!  Up ahead!"  cried Jack.  "Misty?  You got any more of those grenades?"

"No.  I traded them in for a Volkswagen." came the sarcastic reply.

She pulled the pin of one with her teeth and lobbed it at the pair of locked double doors directly in their path. 

As the three hurled themselves aside and awaited the boom, Jack felt the need to defend himself.  "Honestly, you guys.  This is a good plan!"

The concussion was ear-splitting but both cleared the path ahead and swept away any nearby pursuers.

They ran through the tendrils of smoke and past small fires licking at the remains of the door frame.  They burst into the grand hall, the stout metal doors which formerly barred against after-hours access, now lie one to each side, mangled as if hit by a semi.

"I will admit though, these things kind of grow on ya." observed Misty, pulling the pin on another and tossing it back over her shoulder. 

The blast bought them a few more seconds.  As they made a bee-line for the stage, and in particular, the curtain partitioning off the inner sanctum of En.

"Hey, don't waste those!" scolded Jack.  "We didn't kick over that hornets nest to steal em for playing around with, you know.  We'll want as many as we can get when we get to Maximum Security."

"If we get to Maximum Security."

The three scrambled up on stage just as a new wave of brainwashed troops burst into the room.  Some of them squeezed off a round or two, but all stopped once they realized that their god En was in the line of fire.  Instead, they charged the stage.

The three friends dashed between the open curtains to the very base of the stone icon.

Jack and Wendell, made themselves busy searching the stage.  Wendell spied a control box and headed toward it.

Misty had promised herself she wouldn't look.  She really didn't want to look.  But as she saw the stains on the wooden stage, realizing they might be from Howell, she looked up.

The only light in the room was moonlight streaming in from the ample windows.  The look on the face of En was all but alive in the otherworldly glow.  She could have sworn a malevolent grin spread across the deity's face!

Misty, who prided herself on her toughness, let out a blood-curdling scream to end all blood-curdling screams.

Jack and Wendell's hearts jumped about three inches out of their chest.

The men following came to a screeching halt as the black curtains closed on their own volition.

The screaming of the girl abruptly stopped.

A cascade of red flowed out from under the curtains.

When they parted again, the three kids were gone.

Devoured by En!



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!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Chapter 26 - Back Into the Frying Pan


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

Three days later, Wendell found himself in a chillingly familiar spot.  Like a horrifying case of déjà vu, he was once again standing in with a group of other men, waiting for the stupefying doughnut to be passed.

He hadn't been re-captured, but secretly slipped in with the enemy ranks filing into the grand hall - as the three teens dubbed the place.  Of the group, Wendell was the one most likely to foolishly fling himself into the jaws of certain death in order to take the enemy off guard.  Yet this plan made even him a little edgy.

To get oneself kidnapped and dragged into a hoard of mentally twisted bloodthirsty killers was a forgivable accident in his mind.  Hey, it happens to the best of us.  Yet to willingly return there...?  That was crazy to a whole new order of magnitude.

He'd protested the insane plan, of course, but in the end there were only two options:
First, to somehow evade the zomboid troops prowling the countryside for them, and then hope that the authorities weren't in the pay of Seebeck and would actually believe them.  Second, to take down the well-dressed evil overlord themselves.

That seemed to be the more reasonable.  There was only one Seebeck, after all.  Then confusion would rule the leaderless zombie horde, allowing the three to escape unscathed in the chaos.  ... Probably.

It wasn't the "probably" of that plan bothered Wendell so much.  It was the psychotropic pastry that the server now held out before him.

Wendell's hand shook as he reached out for it.

For the first time in his recollection, there was something the food-obsessed teen didn't want to eat.

If you get me out of this, Lord, I'm never eating another doughnut again. Wendell mentally lied.

The master stopped and banged his staff on the stage floor just as he'd done the previous time and raised his hands high.

Everyone raised their doughnut.

Wendell raised his doughnut.

The MC dropped his hands.

Everyone ate his doughnut.

Wendell ate his doughnut...!

People started to groan.  Some doubled over and clutched their stomach.

Wendell did both.

It gave good cover as the laced doughnut slide down his sleeve, just like the community theater magician he'd learned the trick from. 

(The one he'd eaten was completely clean - a decoy stolen from the relatively low-security kitchen fresh out of the fryer.)

As the server turned away, Wendell's hand returned to his side, letting the drugged doughnut roll back into his hand.  It went smoothly into his front pants pocket and was smashed flat so as not to create a bulge.

Even though he knew where it had come from, Wendell's subconscious nagged him with frightening questions.  Am I really sure they were doping them after cooking?  Am I becoming one of them?  How would I know?  Does my stomach really hurt?  Wait!  What's that?  A tingle in my foot!  Oh no!  It's starting!  (I think.)  (Maybe.)

His paranoia was interrupted by the call to march.  He staggered along with them, doing his best to look glassy-eyed and mind-controlled.  (All the while hoping that he was only pretending.)

Ultimately, he was split off from the herd along with several other new recruits, this time not en route for the prison, but instead following a tall senior officer with a mustache.

They were marched to a secure depot and fitted out with uniforms, kit, and best of all... weapons!

The mustache checked his clipboard.  "Congratulations.  You are now called unit 302.  You will report to Sargent Smith in sector A-19 and obey all orders with out hesitation."

"Yes, SIR!" shouted the crowd.

Wendell was a little late on the uptake and said "sir" a full beat later than the rest.

The irony of the words "without hesitation" made the mistake seem especially bad.  I hope he doesn't make me do push-ups for that.

Then he remembered that this bunch had harsher punishments than push-ups. He shuddered.

The new troop fell out behind the 'Stashe, presumably en route to sector A-19.  Wendell made sure he was at the back of the line, for he had another destination in mind.

Misty's arms must be getting tired by now.



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 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!


Review:

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!!!


Conclusion:

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.
INTRO:
"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

Monday, April 17, 2017

Juggernaught: Chapter 21 - Mice in the Walls


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

Faking the routine roll-over of a sleeping girl, Misty went right off the end of the bed.  Instead of hitting the floor hard like an unwary sleeper falling out of bed, she absorbed the impact with her muscles and silently rolled beneath it.

To any observer nothing strange had happened.

She quickly slithered underneath the long row of barrack-style bunks until she reached the outside wall.

Misty knew that the lone window must be alarmed, so before opening it she took out a knife she had stolen off a guard.  She probed the wallboard around around the perimeter of the window with its point and then when she found the spot, punched the blade through.  A satisfying pressure, then sudden release was felt, letting her know that she had successfully severed the wire.

So far, so good.

She dropped to her stomach.  Careful not to arouse attention, she began sawing away at the wallboard underneath the iron radiator.

It was very slow going and she truly hoped her small size would make hers skinny enough to pull off this trick.

Once an access panel had been sawed, she stood quickly, grabbing a sheet off the bed as she did so.

She yanked the window aside, threw out the sheet, and then ducked back down.

Somebody on the ground would notice, but it would take a little time to call it in.  She used that time to wriggle inside her cutout until she was in a standing position inside the wall.

It was tight even for her, and the guards burst in quicker than expected.

One man ran to the window and looked out, while the other swept his light over every spot.

"We're missing one!"  he called out.

"She's a goner!" declared his companion, thinking that Misty had jumped.

Meanwhile, the person he was looking for stood chest-to-chest with him, separated only by a thin layer of drywall.  The seeker unaware of the situation and the hider, hyper-aware of it!

Misty could see his uniform through the stab hole where she'd cut the wire.  She could even smell the pungent odor of his breath and dared not move herself.

The guards below would no doubt be sweeping the premises for her body.  She knew this almost by reflex due to her training.  The sheet she had thrown out the window would only reinforce this assumption.  There could be no logical possibility of someone escaping that way, yet the fact that it was there, a window was open, and one of the dorm inmates was missing, would all override that logic. 

As if on cue, both guards returned slowly back to their post.

They'd be searching outside from now on, which was convenient, but presented her with another problem.  She was still trapped inside.

She'd have to find someplace to lie low long enough for the disturbance to die down.  To make matters worse, if the captors had FLIR technology (which was likely), they'd eventually do a sweep of the building and her heat signature would stand out like a neon sign, even inside this wall.

She'd need to take cover behind someplace colder, warmer, or thicker to be safe from that kind of detection.  That had to be her first order of business.

Looking up, she saw that the metal studs were open at the top.  It was nice to not have that in the way to cut through.  Bracing her knee against one stud and her shoulder against the other, she used an awkward rendition of a rock-climber's chimney climb to finagle her way to the top.

From there she'd be in whatever attic or crawl space was up there.   Which was an unknown, and therefore, frightening to her.  Still, with the way in closed to her, this was the only way out.

With an almost inaudible sigh (for surely somebody in the room was still awake after the disturbance) she grasped the edge with her finger and began to drag herself out.



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!