Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Reminder: FREE chapters of The Runaway Pastor

I had a great conversation with an old friend this morning. We hadn't spoken in a while, and she was surprised to know that I had written a book, and have another on the way. I told her about this site, and the free chapters available here from The Runaway Pastor. I mentioned to her that just about every day someone new goes to the link to read the initial chapters of the book. A few hundred people, groups and families have done so thus far.

Well, I want to do a little self promotion here, and ask you to let someone know about the link for these free chapters today. If you know of someone that might relate to The Runaway Pastor, send them the link to this blog or to the first seven chapters of The Runaway Pastor.

Soon I hope to be announcing the publishing of the book, and I'm not sure if these free pages will have to be taken down, or if I may even be able to add more.

Either way I'm excited to take those next steps, and I'd like to have a feel for how many people out there are waiting to get a copy of the published product. It helps if those interested let me know. Many have, but there are downloads happenning in most states and several countries. If you are one of those that have not communicated with me, hop on as a follower, or send me an email. I'd love to hear your comments.

And once again, I want to thank you for taking a look into the lives of many discouraged people who are pastors. Remind your pastor that you appreciate them, and try and stay attuned to the struggles they face that might make them want to run away. The book paints the picture which so many pastors have shared with me over time.

Grace and peace to you and to all who go by the name "Pastor."

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Well it has been a while since I've added anything to the novel. I did do a bit of writing last week, with some very interesting implications for the overall story, but I haven't moved it into the computer. (I wrote it by hand.) The new writing will be placed within the first nine, already completed chapters. So, the new writing is not a new chapter, but fills in some blanks for the overall story. It also adds a new wrinkle to the plot. I'm hoping you will enjoy it.

Also, I am trying to read the entire manuscript again, including old stuff which you haven't seen yet...unless you are my friend that typed my 7 year old sloppy notes. Once I'm able to do that, I feel I'll be able to move into new territory again. When I wrote The Runaway Pastor, I did it over the course of a few weeks, and the story flowed out of my mind, and into the word processor. But BREAKERS is an eight or nine year old work in progress, and I don't want for it to feel inorganic or disconnected. Thus, the delay.

This summer has been very busy. If you don't know me, I'm fortunate to have a full time job that keeps me more than full time busy. So this writing has to either be an overflow from my work, or written when I can justify an hour away from work. It will come along.

I should hear soon about the next stage of The Runaway Pastor. It is possible that I will need to put quite a lot of time here at the blog in advertising that book. If so, and if you have been a follower of that book, I'd appreciate you helping me get the word out when that time comes. It will be exciting, and advertising budgets could be limited. Your help will be treasured.

Here's to a great week ahead.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Lazy Fascinations: 2

So, I was preparing for this weekend and the story of David and Bathsheba. As trained, I "go looking for trouble" in the story. Before even looking at the text I knew where it would be. The "hint of trouble" would be when he sees her, the "trouble" comes when she gets pregnant--or something like that. Right?

And so the section begins like this: "In the springtime, when kings go to war, David sent Joab..." I'm floored. The trouble begins at the very beginning of the story. David the mighty warrior. David the famous winner of battles, stays in the palace and watches a neighbor woman bathing from his privileged high-up window view. Lazy fascination.

How often do we get in trouble when we aren't focused on the right thing?

Following the "lazy" theme is like following the trail of all temptations. Look into the scene with me, but please cover your eyes at the appropriate times.

--David could have said to himself, "Whoa, I shouldn't have seen that. Beautiful stuff Lord, but NOT mine!" Instead, he asked about her and sent for her.

--When she arrives, he still could have changed his mind. But that would be the difficult thing. And when we have hopped into the lazy river of bowing to temptations, difficulty just doesn't seem right.

--After he finds out that she is pregnant, the hard thing would have been to call a meeting, confess his failures, and resign. The lazy thing was to try and make this look like Bathsheba and Uriah's baby; and Uriah was off to war, where David had sent him. So David does all sorts of manipulative work to bring him back and and get him in bed with his own wife. And Uriah refuses on very noble and non-lazy grounds. Even after David goes to the extent of getting Uriah drunk, Uriah refuses pleasure when the army of Israel is camping outdoors on the field of battle.

(By now this laziness of David's has gotten to be really tough work. And that's the way of laziness and temptation and wrongdoing. Laziness may not be hot pavement burning the soles of your feet, but it is rough pavement on a steep path. And changing direction would force the lazy one to fall and skin their knees, drop their web of lies, and confess their selfish pride.)

--And so now, David decides to have Uriah murdered, in a not so obvious way. And it works.

(Side note: It really bothers me that David is our hero--that David is known as a man after God's heart and the beloved of God. And that Uriah is basically not known. And that Bathsheba is considered some sort of exotic nude pin-up girl that sleezed her way into the palace, and into the linage of the Messiah--I believe. But, that's not the point, this time.)

While on the topic of lazy fascinations, I just had to give this example of huge failure. We need to be reminded that some selfless, tough work could have spared everyone some great agony. But David, who once was full of faith and full of zeal to do the heroic, became lazy and then fascinated with what was not his.

Beware of lazy fascinations. Beware of the lazy river of failure that keeps you in its warm, comfy waters. It does not lead along the narrow way.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lazy Fascinations

"I'm bored." My children were not allowed to say those words while they were growing up. Really. A human brain can always find fascination in something!

Yet, lately I've been thinking about what it is that fascinates us. Do you listen to the news? Do you watch movies? Do you have a favorite TV show? When story telling, every story teller knows that people are hooked when trouble shows up. There is no story without trouble.

Just ask the news people. We wonder why they only report bad news? It is because we would think the alternative boring. Why do many great movies come with warnings about violence, sex, swearing, etc? Isn't it because these things take us out of our "bored" state. They force some excitement, discomfort or fear upon us, and by doing so, we feel somehow awakened. But are we?

Do we suffer from lazy fascination? Do we ignore the glory around us, and wait for someone or some media to present something shocking, in order to entertain us? Could it be that we are bored with the world as we know it, and rather than act to love it into something better, we prefer to lay back and bask in the evil it has to offer?

Simon Weil has said:
Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring.
Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.

What was the last movie you watched? Would your life be better if you were the main character? What was the last news clip you saw? Would your life be better if you and your family had been on the video clip?

I'm just thinking about our lazy fascinations...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Summer Eden

I wish you could see the view from my dining room window. Stout maples and oaks fall away down the hillside with greens of every shade reflecting sunlight, or resting in the shadows. A breeze teases branches into playing peek-a-boo with those beneath them.

It is just after noon, and the sun is nearly above us, yet only about ten or fifteen percent of the lawn is sunlit. We live in a forest, and it requires effort to hold it at bay.

But where we have resisted its advance, tall fountain grass plants stand like sentinels around an inactive fire pit. A wooden bench and a couple of iron chairs wait together for cool fall days, the dancing flames, smiling faces and singing guitars. Flowers splash varying colors and shades surround tomato, zucchini and cucumber vines; each one in its own turn preparing to offer its produce. And the herb garden breathes its fragrance across our porch and spices our dishes with delight.

When first looking out this morning of my day-off, the sun was only beginning its work. Many flowers remained tucked-in from the night; while a host of beetles were threatening roses, hydrangea and a butterfly bush. The lawn was not mowed and the weeds weren't pulled. There were battles to fight and chores to do. And now the fruit of that labor is sweet.

Much is to be done before Fall. Much to be enjoyed when it arrives.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Promise of Worth

He turned away. The sight was too much for him. A sob erupted as his mind displayed the image. He fought it--and subdued the flood.

It was only a plastic ringlet. Not large enough to fit a child's finger; you would sweep it up with so much dust if it were on the floor. But it wasn't on the floor. Its placement against the tender skin of her back, near her shoulder--the juxtaposition of such innocence and such paste caught him off-guard. Did she believe that this meaningless circle of plastic could enhance her beauty?

Was this his doing? Had he believed that lace and frill could add beauty to one so priceless--to this one so dear?

Garnering the courage required by his questions, he looked-up once more. It was still there. His eyes studied the lace it joined from above and beneath. Surely there was no intrinsic need for the cheap accoutrement.

And then, as if the lens of a camera adjusted its focus from the foreground to some distant vista, he lost sight of the garment, and saw its wearer. The seeing brought some recognition. He somehow comprehended the vast dignity of this person...this soul.

He wondered how any one person could ever expect to possess her? How any mere mortal could be so arrogant as to try? He marveled at the priceless treasure before him.

The music passed like a cooling breeze on a hot summer day. She lifted her arms once, as if to catch it, or send a bit of the sound back to its source. She tried to listen to the words of a man telling her the thing she already knew--she is not quite good enough. But, if she'll repeat some words after him, she'll be OK. Though she had tried the words before, she whispers them again. Her voice is aimed away from the boy she's with. The boy is looking at the plastic ring, and thinking of how she can be used to answer his prayers.

And as they stand to leave, she feels the boy's hand on her shoulder. The man behind them cannot see the plastic ring. The boy's wrist is hiding it.

The boy feels flesh.

The girl feels loved.

The man feels another sob ready to shake him to his core.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wheel Chairs and Walkers

We just finished our monthly Senior's lunch at church. (I guess this is where we get the reputation for being "do-gooders.") Wow, we have a good time.

We begin at the local nursing home, gathering those who want to join us. They are loaded in our van, and several wheel chairs are placed in the back of another truck for the journey. Once here, we reverse the order and unload our friends.

Food is prepared and shared with several of our own and several from the home. There is laughter and much conversation, at least until the eating starts. It gets pretty quiet and serious at that point. Then during dessert, lots of smiles return and friendships are bonded.

As the gang lines up in their chairs or with their walkers, fond farewells are exchanged along with jokes about the need for strong supports under the highway bridge on the return trip. (We do put away a lot of food.)

Today there were college aged guys joining the seniors. We hosted church attenders, but mostly those who don't. And at the end--I had gotten to know a Korean War vet, a shawl-wearing woman finally has a name and I learned something new about an old friend.

When Jesus sent out his disciples to do his work, he told them to take nothing for the journey. Maybe we pack too much when we go to tell our good news? Maybe all we really need to to give away the stuff inside of us--which is leftover from our time spent with him?

I'm not sure. I only know there is a lot of joy in unpacking and repacking wheelchairs and walkers, especially when those using them come equipped with a silent strength of their own.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wet Jeep. Life is Good.

I left the Jeep outside last night with the top down. It began to rain this morning, and I ran out to find that it had done so during the night. So, I splashed as much of the puddle out of my seat as possible, hopped in and drove the moving pool into the carport.

The reason it wasn't inside in the first place? It's a tight fit right now. We have some construction materials in there, because we are building a screened-in porch onto our house.

When I pulled into the narrow spot under roof, I knocked a ladder over and into the side of our other car...removing some paint. Then I ran over a plastic corner of our weed eater. No real damage there, however.

So anyway, I put a couple of towels on the seat and drove to the office. Not supposed to rain any more.

It did. So, standing in the rain, putting the top up, and splashing puddles off of the seats; I got very wet. Fortunately, earlier this morning, I had found a towel I'd left behind the platform after our May baptism service.

So, right now I'm sitting in my office with a nice towel around my wet shirt and back, smiling and thinking what good problems these are to have.

Later this week, I'll be out buzzing around with the top down on my jeep, letting the last of this rain dry into the summer sky. I'll be smiling because any trip in the Jeep with the top down is a vacation--even if I'm on my way to work.

And someday, I won't even remember the gash in my car door (who cares anyway?), or the crease in the weed-eater, or the chills I feel from the cold damp on my shoulders. But I'll be able to sit in the rain, under the roof of my screened-in porch, and enjoy a summer shower.

That's about as close to calming a storm as I'll ever get.

One of my friends always says: "David, we aren't in a fifty yard dash. Life is a marathon." Today is a beautiful summer reminder--an intimate encounter with nature--telling me that life is good...just as it says on the tire cover on the back of my Jeep.