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Monday, January 16, 2017

Christians, Take a Page from MLK: We Must Wear Down Our Enemies with our Ability to Love Them.

My favorite MLK quote. I pray that all Christians could adopt such a love battle cry as this (thinking of myself as chiefly in need of it). But if we all did as Jesus told us to do and loved our enemies, the world course would be altered forever.



"I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate, myself, and every time I see it, I say to myself, hate is too great a burden to bear. Somehow we must be able to stand up against our most bitter opponents and say:”We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws and abide by the unjust system, because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good, so throw us in jail and we will still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and, as difficult as it is, we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at the midnight hour and drag us out on some wayside road and leave us half-dead as you beat us, and we will still love you. Send your propaganda agents around the country and make it appear that we are not fit, culturally and otherwise, for integration, but we’ll still love you. But be assured that we’ll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Want to Be an Author? Read this First.

I was contacted the other day by a young writer who was working on a project for a class. She wanted to ask a published author a few questions about the trade. They were such good question and led to some very detailed answers that I thought others should have access to them too. Seriously, if you are an aspiring writer and want to be a published author, read this first:



1. What does the day-to-day work in your field look like? Pertaining to writing, that is.

It'd be impossible to pin down what the day-to-day is in my field because writers are a wacky breed. Not a one of us does it the same way. Stephen King writes 10 pages a day no matter what. Me, I can't do that. I can't even create a set writing time. My life is so fluid with family and teaching demands that I just write whenever I can. When I can write, I put the headphones on, listen to epic trailer music, and dive into story mode.

2. What are some key considerations you'd tell someone like me who's considering this field? That is, considering making writing part of one's income?

I'd recommend just that: making writing PART of your income. At first, no one, I mean NO ONE has ever heard of you or your books, so you need to have a primary source of income. Perhaps something that compliments your writing like being an editor or an English teacher. Once you have safe income in place, you can go to town on your writing, either going the traditional / legacy route with a publishing house or self pubbing on Amazon Kindle etc. If you do the selfpub route, consider submitting your novels to a service like BookBub. You can often start a readership through such services.

3. What skills would be important for me to have in this field?
Besides the obvious, I suppose. Lol.

I suspect "writing" might be a good skill to have. 0,o Seriously, though, there are a couple of subsets of writing that you need. First, I highly recommend taking a few classes in poetry (contemporary, if pos) because, in it, you will learn to make every word count. And that is SO key. When you tell a story, you are not telling every detail of someone's life, but only the highlights and most meaningful qualities that will form the basis for your character's decisions in the novel. Don't just pick good words or words that "will do," but rather, pick the best words. Try to use connotative words, words that trigger a reaction or feeling in the reader. Don't say "she sat down." Say she slumped. Don't say he walked across the room. Say he lunged. Don't describe a winter tree as bereft of leaves. Say the tree was black and rigid with branches and limbs like a thousand spiders linked in some unholy dance.

Secondly, work on suspense techniques because that, my young swordmaiden, is THE name of the game. You must make your readers wait for what they want. Be cruel in that way. Use mystery, the unknown, intense emotion, danger, unusual events, clues that stick out like a sore thumb—you will have the reader flipping pages like some kind of mad librarian! And do this right at the start. Your first sentence better grip the reader by the throat. Then, the first paragraph, should yank them forward. Then, the first page must shake them senseless. And your first chapter, well, your first chapter should end on such a potent cliffhanger that the reader will very nearly rip the page trying to get to the next chapter.


 

4. What are some of the unique challenges I might encounter in this career?  

There are several unique challenges that I've faced, and I'm not totally certain they are common to all writers, but for what it's worth: The first major challenge is wearing too many hats. When I got my first publishing contract, I was already a Dad of four young children, a husband of a wonderful wife, and a full time English teacher. Still am all of those things except that the kids are all in their late teens now. {Sigh}. Finding time to write was difficult. My wife was incredible, bearing a ton of extra burdens so that I could head to the library or the local Panera and spend the day writing. But the worst thing about it is that no matter what I was spending my time doing, it always "felt" like I should have been working on something else. If I spent the day sledding with my kids, I loved it and cherished that time, but always on the back of my mind: the deadline or the lesson plan. If I was writing, I would constantly think of my wife and kids and how I wasn't there for them. No matter what I did or was doing, I felt the pang of other responsibilities. Time. That's the big thing about writing. Novels take an absurd amount of time from your life. And, while it might be a ton of fun to invent worlds and races of people, creatures, etc, to do so, means letting the real world go by, real people and relationships are missed. Writers must sacrifice hours, days, weeks, and months. And it's time you cannot get back. Honestly, if I didn't feel that God wanted me to write these stories, I don't think I would have been able to keep doing it. Time is precious. What I wouldn't give now for an hour to play with my kids when they were young! Of course, I can still play with them now, but they can pretty much beat me up. lol

The second challenge was living up to the expectations and demands of the publishers. When I signed the dotted line for The Door Within Trilogy, I paid no attention at all to the deadlines. I was, more or less, mesmerized by the dream come true of being an author. But suddenly, I needed to write 75,000 words in three months. And then, I had to do it again for book 3. But there can often be creative differences too. I had to do research and fight and email battle with my publisher who didn't think the main character in The Door Within should be named Aidan. It's too uncommon, they said. Too unusual. I loved "Aidan" because it had roots in Irish (Gaelic), and it meant "little fire." To defend the name, I researched baby name sites and found that for that particular year, Aidan was the most common boy name given to newborn boys. The publisher conceded. Yay!

But they don't always.

There were times that I had to cut parts that I loved or add parts that seemed pedestrian. And there was once, during the writing of Curse of the Spider King (cowritten with Christopher Hopper) that I think the publisher was close to firing us—or whatever it's called when a publisher cuts you loose. The contention came over the ending of the book, which CH and I believed to be an AWESOME cliffhanger. But the publisher felt like it didn't follow the usual story arc or allow enough closure. Eventually, we came to a compromise, but it was a painful one. There was another unique situation that kind of blew my mind. Publishers, especially big publishing houses, tend to have "profit" worked out to a formula. And so they plan everything out ahead of time, often including the side of the book's binding, how many pages, etc. I'd always thought that the author just writes the story, however long it may be, and then, you edit out what needs cutting, and VOILA! A book. But with my publisher, I most often worked on a word count of @75-100K words. But with Isle of Swords, I went way over that. It was originally 120K, and so, after much discussion, I had to cut 20,000 words. That was an arduous and heartbreaking task.


 

5. Yikes, I imagine that would be. I wouldn't have guessed, though. I love Isle of Swords as it is. If you had to do it over, what would you do differently? 

If I had to do the author portion of my life over, there's a ton that I would change. 1) I would get published earlier. I took 13 years to publish The Door Within. But most of that was a lack of persistence and discipline on my part. God was patient and still opened the door later for me, but I wish I'd started earlier. It would have been so much better for my family financially. 2) I'd ruthlessly cut other "hobbies" from my life and use that extra time to spend with my wife and kids. On top of the time I needed for writing, I often took too much so-called "me" time for things like golf, tennis, video games, etc. What an idiot I was. Nothing wrong with any of those things, but those hours are gone. Jesus tries to tell us in His word, "if you lose your life for my sake, you'll find life, but if you keep it to yourself, you lose it." I was quite literally a fool for spending so much time with selfish pastimes. Please don't misunderstand, I was a very involved husband and father, but I could have been more. I should have been more. I'm sure there are other things I would change, but those are the main two.

Thank you, that's a lot of awesome advice. I appreciate the time you took to answer all these questions.

You're very welcome. It was kind of cathartic to explore all that you asked. I'm going to publish the whole Q&A on my blog. Hopefully, other aspiring young writers will learn a bit from it.

I hope so, too. You were one of my main inspirations to start writing. I don't know if God will guide me to opportunities in this field yet, but I'm sure your advice will be helpful if He does.

Well, aww, thank you for saying so. I pray that you'll take whatever path God lays out for you. It'll be an adventure, that much I can promise you. And, as you know, adventures always begin with the unexpected...    

     
   

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The only gift we ALL need...


Look, I know that you are not stupid. And I know that you are probably wandering through life, in many ways, just like I am. You know something's not quite right. You know the world isn't the way it's supposed to be. There's too much pain; too much suffering, and not enough love, not by a longshot.

You've been to church. You've met so-called Christians. You WISH there had been more to it, but were left feeling empty. So now, you disappear into the routines of every day. Step 1 thru Step 9, and then you go to sleep and start it all over again. You wish there was something more, but science has proven there isn't. So you just go on, doing the best you can. And as Henry David Thoreau put it, you "live a life of quiet desperation."



There's a part of you, bruised and battered because every time it speaks up, you hit is with your fists until your knuckles are raw and bleeding. But this part will not be silent, not completely. It whispers to you: "There is more." It makes your skin crawl with the idea that this life is not all there is. And somehow, some way, you know you were meant to travel on, to be transcendent. That the grave will not consume you whole, but will let some inner part of you go.

I wish I could reach out to each one of you and somehow change your heart. But all I can do is tell you what I've seen and what I know. As the apostles said, "Gold and silver, I do not have but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."

That's right. Walk. You think all this life has been is walking. No. This life is a long distance crawl, and worse, it's like Atlas pushing that stupid stone world up the hill, only for it to come rolling back down around us or over us. You're so right. This world SUCKS. This world is NOT what it should have been. And this world is NOT all there is.

Jesus came and picked me out of a strawberry field. That's my story. I was working at one of those pick-your-own strawberry patches, and it was my senior year at UMCP. An old old friend came out that late afternoon to pick strawberries. He ended up picking me. He simply asked "How are you doing?" And somehow, against my better judgment, I did not respond with the usual, "Fine, how are you." Instead, I said, "I'm actually awful."

And that was such a strange thing for me to say. I had just graduated near the top of my class. I had letters of recommendation that made me blush because of the high praise. I was quite certain of a teaching position and quite certain I would become the next Stephen King. But God revealed to me that I was broken. I left a relationship with a very sweet young lady, in the worst possible way. And the future, to me, looked more of a burden than anything else.

I had this pressure on my chest. I can't explain it. But it was like God pointed His finger directly into my pectoral muscle. All day long, I felt it. And I cried out to everyone I trusted, trying desperately to explain what I was experiencing. But the only person who had a clue about what I felt was the old friend who came out to the strawberry field.

He said, "Wayne, could it be that God is trying to get your attention?" He went on to babble a TON about Jesus and being born again and all that. And I nodded a lot. But, honestly, I didn't really care "what" he was saying. But I was absolutely captivated by the peace that he wore like a glow in the dark suit. He had, I knew, something I had never ever had. There was peace and security and well, a sense of love and belonging that I'd never thought possible.

So we agreed to meet together to read through the bible's book of Romans together, and I read Romans 7 and it hit me over the head like a sledgehammer. It was a full color portrait of me, but written 2000+ years before my birth. I was stunned. And I prayed that Jesus would forgive my sins (many, many, many sins). And I believed in Jesus for eternal life.

My life didn't instantly become a JOYFUL merry go round. It has been a struggle. I have doubted more than God deserves, and I have struggled and fought, and came kicking and screaming back to the realization that God. IS. REAL. That, JESUS, IS. REAL. And that He is both GOOD and LOVING, and calling out to all of us. The transcendence I feel in my deepest heart, I now realize is eternity calling. An eternity with Jesus in a world that knows no pain, no tears, no sickness, and no death.

When my father died last October (2015), the bottom dropped out from under my feet. Suddenly, death was something real and for those left behind, crushingly permanent. Look, you can deny it all you want, but you are going to die. You may be hitting the gym and eating kale all the time, but still, the death ratio is 100 to 0. No matter how much fun you can fill your life with, it's going to end. And likely, people you love will be taken before you, and you will feel the aching emptiness of that loss. This is no joke. This isn't funny. No movie, no book, no alcohol or drug can take away this truth: you will die. And though you invest in stocks and bonds, though you have the greatest life insurance known to man, though you have given careful thought to the legacy you will leave behind...you are still leaving.

There's a place in you, battered like your bloody knuckles, a place that is weeping quietly that everything you've done in this world, every single act, every memory, and every experience, will melt away when you die. There's a divine melancholy that hits you at the end of every birthday, every Christmas, every Vacation. A very real sense that what should be....didn't last as long as it should have. And, if you're honest, you'll see that this feeling is real.

All I'm saying is this: I'm 48, the wrong side of forty. You might be fifteen, thirty, twenty-four, or sixty. It doesn't matter. Time will kill you. And after? There will be eternal life. One way or the other. You will not disintegrate and be no more. You will live on. I beg of you, look for Jesus. Read the book of John or read Romans and see. Taste God and see that He is good. He's not closed minded and intolerant as the modern press would preach. Instead, He offers eternity to EVERYONE who would believe in Jesus and what He did on the cross, saving us from our sins.

I hope I've got a lot of time left. I want to see my kids graduate high school and college. I want to see them get married and make a dent for good in this world. I want to write a gazillion more books. But more than anything else, I want to see people believe in Jesus and be forgiven. I want to see you all in the GREATEST PARTY IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE. In heaven. That's our real home. As much as this world doesn't feel quite right, Heaven with Jesus will feel like the far off country we've always felt rumor of. And it will be ours to share with the Lord forever.

If you've read this and believed in Jesus, please message me. If you have questions, doubts, flaming rebuttals, etc, message me.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Review of Theocracy's New Release: GHOSTSHIP

It's no secret that Theocracy has been my favorite band since, well, the first time I heard Mirror of Souls off their 2nd CD. There's something about this band's unabashed Christ-centered message coupled with extraordinary musicianship and vocals that has resonated with me since the first listen.

If you don't know the band or their style, I'll do my best to explain them. They are considered Progressive Power Metal. That means they play hard-rocking music with uber crunchy guitars, thundering drums, galloping bass, ethereal keys, and stunning vocals. But rest assured, this is not heavy metal as it's been described by people who slam the genre. Theocracy's music is filled with beautiful melodies and each CD has such a mix of styles. One song might be a power ballad. Another, a 10+ minute epic. There are some tunes that are soaring anthems, and there are some that have a cathedral like worship quality. And yes, there are some MELT YOUR FACE OFF flat out thrashfests too. But no growling. Nothing vexes me more than a fantastic progressive metal symphony ruined by a Cookie Monster vocalist. But, I digress.



GHOST SHIP

I give the CD 5/5 Stars. Yes, it's that good. And, to me, it does what so many bands fail to do: it progresses. Yes, there are echos from their first three CDs, but they don't stagnate. They hew and hone there sound so that it is at once "The Historical Theocracy" but also "The 2016 Theocracy," better, stronger, faster, and more meaningful than before. So that's my generic overall review. The CD is fantastic. So, if that's all you needed to hear, just go get the CD. You won't regret it. Here's the Amazon link for it:


The rest of this review is a more formal track-by-track evaluation. I kinda feel like I should say {SPOILER ALERT} because I'm going to be very specific about each of the songs.

PAPER TIGER:
The song begins with a very Iron Maiden-esque choral guitar lead, but with a serious thrash beat. At first I didn't think I'd like it because of the thrash, but then, as usual, Theocracy changes tempo. Matt Smith's vocals enter with a very haunting tone, made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Seriously, this song is like a visit from Jacob Marley, warning all Christians to snap out of self obsession, entitlement, and invented dramas—all things that keep us from loving God with all our heart, mind, and soul, as well as, loving our neighbors as ourselves. "The narcissist machinery, forging a self-made victim's society..." BAM, talk about a sledgehammer blow to the solar plexus. The thing is, that's where our society has gone. Everyone's offended by everything. Everyone's a victim. Everyone's entitled to pretty much everything. Paper Tiger tells us Christians that we're supposed to be above that. It's a message hard to endure but so needed. The chorus is a bit of a paradox because it soars with the sound of hope, but lyrically delivers a scathing reprimand. The 1st solo is solid, leading into a CRUNCH FEST of cool transitions. The 2nd solo follows and it's melodically righteous...with a little more homage to Iron Maiden's twin guitars. What follows is a vocal onslaught. Set to another beat, it could be a killer rap, but this is just hardcore, in your face indictment of American Christians being poisoned by the snakes in the dark, decrying how hard life is on us while our brothers and sisters in other nations are being murdered for their faith. 4/5 Stars.



GHOST SHIP:
The title track opens with a sonorous guitar attack with some sort of audio effect in the background, sounding something like a warning siren. Once the vox kick in, there's a great bed of delightfully creepy gothic keys beneath that set the tone nicely. There's serious power in this song, and the chorus comes crashing in like a rogue wave. "Pay the piper, here we go, got a ticket for a one way journey, Slay the viper, come follow, even if you're ordinary." And this is the heart of Matt Smith and Theocracy for GHOST SHIP: all you out there who feel like you don't fit in, all you misfits, the uncool, the left behind—God has room for you aboard His ship, and once you're with Him, we will shake the world. The solo in GS is really interesting, a blend of some serious tapping, sweep picking, and some blues hooks. Then comes a part I can't wait to hear live because they most definitely will pull the audience in to sing "WHOA OH OH!" The abrupt crunch ending is genius. 5/5 Stars.


THE WONDER OF IT ALL
Big guitars and drums open this 6.5 minute track, and I though I heard a little Randy Rhoads in the slide rhythm. Lots of guitar breaks between the lyrics here, and it just works. One of the best lines of the whole CD comes in stanza 3: "Hear the fool's soliloquy: cannot grasp, it cannot be." WOW. This song is about the amazing paradoxes in the scriptures and in Jesus Himself. But the fool doesn't understand them and so claims they cannot be. Have we forgotten how far above our minds God is? Instead of denying the paradoxes, revel in the wonder of it all. Die to live. First will be last. Give to receive, etc. What a magnificent message. The solo of Wonder Of It All is virtuoso beauty. I don't know what makes a solo's tone change so drastically, but the melody of this solo is spoken in such a reverent, ethereal sound that it made me long for a whole track of just that kind of guitar work. 5/5 Stars.




WISHING WELL
Some nice Pirates of the Caribbean keys open up this tremendous tune, giving it a serious nautical vibe. And for those who think Christians are all holier than thou, judging non Christians, listen to this song (and Paper Tiger). Wishing Well is all about lip service. We talk a good game and offer a hearty "I'll keep you in my prayers," but when do we actually get up of our collective butt and go out and help people. One of the catchiest choruses on the CD, Wishing Well's will stay with you. But this song isn't just indictment. It, like many of the psalms, opens with broken hearts and terrible practices, but ends with hope, returning to God to take action and help those in need. 4/5 Stars.



AROUND THE WORLD AND BACK
This is my favorite track on the CD for a hundred reasons, but to summarize, this song is personal to me. It's as if God lifted Theocracy's pen to speak directly to me. The song begins with a nostalgic music box melody that reminds me of the musical teddy bears my mom gave to each of my children when they were young. So yeah, ten seconds into the song, and I'm misty eyed. The opening lyrics reached out to me at a heart level: "Hey weary traveler, have you finally lost your way..." Uhm, yes, that's me. I've been a Christian since 1991, and there have been times when it was so easy to believe in Jesus and the scriptures. It was as if I finally could see the world clearly because the Word of God made sense! But then, time passes, and we get bogged down in a thousand directions, some good, some bad, but the next thing you know, you're living a double minded life, going through the motions of serving, worshiping, etc. but in our hearts feeling a 1000 miles away from God. A perfectly timed ticking clock introduces the instruments, and this is one unique song. It's part power ballad, concert hall AOR rock, but has these lovely CRUNCH moments to remind us, hey this is Theocracy here. And again, another part of the lyrics crush me: "Grace has a way of building hope out of despair..." Wow. Theocracy wants us to know that salvation is ALL ABOUT JESUS. We can't work for it. We can't climb to it. We can't build a bridge to it. All we can do is surrender to His love. "Grace alone is free, so rest in Me." A story to tell about the solo on this track (my favorite of the whole CD). At the risk of TMI, I'm one of many Christians who, from time to time, suffer through seasons of clinical depression. I had an awful bout of it this summer. And one day, I open up facebook, and Matt has posted a behind the scenes video of Jon working on a guitar solo for the new CD. I clicked the YouTube vid and the solo just brought me to tears. I felt like I heard Jesus in that solo, a rising, soaring, upbeat thrill of hope. It just broke me wide open that day in the best possible way. And then, to finally get the GHOST SHIP CD and realize that that very solo was on Around the World and Back, well, it kind of blew my mind. The chorus is rousing and hopeful, and the lyrics near the end tell us "Be not afraid; Your price is paid." I've kept those words as a kind of mantra to fight back when the doubts creep in. 5/5 Stars.



STIR THE EMBERS
Stir the Embers begins with an in your face guitar barrage. Supremely cool. Righteous transitions of tempo here. The whole concept of crying out to God to stir the embers, kindle once more the flame of faith is so needed in the church today. "Walk with me, I'll never be the same again I know." My son's favorite lyric. This is just a skull crushing, kick butt ROCKER, and it ends appropriately with the sound of a newly kindled fire. 5/5 Stars.

A CALL TO ARMS
From the opening licks, this one blew me away. I thought I heard a little homage to Dokken's George Lynch in this tune, for me at least, a very good thing. Loved the rhythms and the solo. Val, were you paying a little tribute to Lynch there? The chorus, while catchy as can be, somehow didn't fit the song. There was so much great hard groove in this song, and then the chorus sounds a little sing-songy, like a camp song. The lyrics are great. But for a real metal call to arms, it just didn't fit. Still a strong tune overall. 4/5



CURRENCY IN A BANKRUPT WORLD
This song caught me by surprise. The opening rhythm definitely had echoes of older Theocracy material, but whoosh, that fast, they transition to a slower, more melodic sound. They're telling the stories of two people who have lost hope to the point of wanting to end their own lives. It's a little dark and very heartbreaking, but it's reality today. I'm a middle school teacher by day, and I hear WAY too many stories of suicides or attempts...and it just underscores the point that we're living in a bankrupt world, if we try to live it without God. After a fine lead break, Matt does something tremendous with his vocals. He's telling of a man who thinks he's blown his whole life. Listen to the emotion in Matt's voice when he sings, "Checking out, 'Cause no one will miss me now." Very few vocalists can evoke that kind of emotion. Matt does it time and time again. But for a song this dark and melancholy, there just had to be a payoff in the chorus, and WHOA, Theocracy comes through with a soaring message of hope that will echo in your mind for weeks. 5/5 Stars.

CASTAWAY
Not sure how I feel about this song. Lyrically, I love it. I mean it tells the story that most every Christian feels from time to time, that of being left behind by friends or family or even by God. It's about being ridiculed by the world for believing in Christ and understanding that this world isn't our real home. We are all just pilgrims passing through. Musically, the skill is all there, but it's a style of power metal that I least enjoy. And that's all preferences, right? 3/5 Stars.



EASTER
This is the epic song on the CD, clocking in at 9:53! And it really is an epic retelling of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The remarkable achievement in this song is that the music completely compliments the lyrical content of each section. From the mournful, dirge like opening where the disciples are destroyed at the loss of Jesus to death to the confusion of "But He promised" and "What now?" It's all there, and then "GLORY GLORY hope is alive!" Such an uplifting component of the song. You'll be singing that out loud! Interesting is that this song has close to a 3 minute interlude where the band just jams! It's a masterpiece. The final section is a conversation between God and his brokenhearted disciples. They are despondent and lost, but God reminds them of His promise to rise on the third day. It reminded me of the Lord talking to Peter. Peter, do you love me? Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. Jesus asked Peter three times, and in Easter, there's an element of that same loving and repeated reminder: my promises are true. Then, just when I thought this song couldn't wow me anymore than it already had, at 8:50 there's this wonderful Queen Bohemian Rhapsody harmonic section that just gave me chills. Lots of songs have been written about the events of Easter, but this may capture the emotion of the time better than any other.

In summary, GHOST SHIP is an amazing achievement. I can only imagine the countless hours Matt and the band put in to craft such a masterpiece. But, I'm so glad they did put in the time. It glorifies God and helps fellow weary travelers like me.
















Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Point is NOT who Won the Election.

November 9th, 2016

America awoke this morning to the news that Donald Trump will be our next President. For Hillary supporters, I suspect there is doubt, depression, despair, and a myriad of other emotions. If the results were otherwise, I would likely have similar fears and feelings. And even though I hoped, if one of them HAD to be elected, it would be Trump, I still feel a wide range of emotions.

For me, in the end, I gave up my faith-driven “write in vote” plan and went for Trump after all. It was, for me, a question of Prolife, Supreme Court Nominations, and other conservative issues. Instead of trusting God with the vote my conscience urged, I took matters into my own hands. If Trump turns out to be a murderous despot, I will regret my vote for the rest of my life.

But for me, there is no victory today. It feels more like a stay of execution. America is in trouble. More personally, the people who make up the nation are in trouble. We are at a moral and spiritual crossroads. And I appeal to history as my witness. From the late 1950’s to the present, America has changed from a Christian nation to a Humanistic Nation. And the result? Our foundation has become one of no ultimate meaning. Nothing matters ultimately because, if there is no God, no moral standard higher than our own whims, we are utterly hopeless and alone in this world.

We are teaching children that marriage isn’t important. We are teaching our children that their physiology doesn’t matter, that they can simply “choose” to identify as whatever sex they want. We are teaching our children that they are all evolutionary byproducts, that by some mathematically mindboggling series of unlikely fortunate events, we people just are. No one outside of the natural made us. We have no ultimate point or purpose other than to make the best of our situations and try hard to ignore the looming specter of our own inevitable deaths.

I feel as if the dynamic of Romans Chapter 1 is happening in America: that we have been given over to our sins. We asked for abortion. We got abortion. We asked for Gay Marriage. We got Gay Marriage. We asked for Wealth. We got Wealth. And at a very deep and secret level, we’ve been begging to have no rules and to have life revolve around ourselves. And, to a degree, that is happening now. And from a parent’s perspective, I grieve for our children. Day after day, I hear of suicides or attempts. Day after day, I hear of addictions or overdoses. And day after day, I hear the hollow clanging of death bells for untold millions who are murdered before even having a chance to live.



I’m heartbroken by where we’ve come and what we’ve become. And I know of NO other solution than Jesus. Love God. Love your neighbor. Follow Jesus and yes, even love your enemy. Go to God with your personal selfishness and repent. Lay it all on the cross, and ask God to help you to love, to give, to help, to hope, and to try.

Hillary supporters: I am sorry for judging you. We are all broken. Trump supporters, I am sorry for judging you. We are all selfish. But now, America: I beg of you: turn back to God, rediscover HIS moral standard, and press on for this nation to live within that standard. Turn to Jesus, watch His example of loving some of the most despicable and downtrodden members of His society. And hear Him as He cries out from the cross, not insults and condemnation to the people who have nailed Him to the cross, but rather, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Today, like so many of you, I feel a grim weight pressing down upon me. It feels like we are inevitably headed for self destruction. Our political system is inferior, likely corrupt, and unreliable. But our God is not. Take hope in our God. Take hope in His love, in His promises, and in His infallible standard. May America truly be great again, but not because of Trump or Hillary or any of those. May America truly be great again in this way: “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Creation vs Evolution: The Debate RAGES on. But, maybe there Should be Less Rage.

I'm a Christian and a creationist. I believe that God created the world. And frankly, I think it's immature how some evolutionary thinkers act like creationists are stupid or insane or both. BUT, I'm even more concerned by Christian creationists who are beginning to represent evolutionists as stupid or crazy or both. We Christians are supposed to know better than that. Love neighbors as yourself, right?



I think we've already lost the chance at an honest discussion if we characterize those who believe in evolution as idiots. It's insulting, and, for the most part, it's just not true. Evolution believers run the full spectrum of intelligence just as creationists do. There are some absolutely BRILLIANT people on that side of the argument. Don't kid yourself. These are people who, at the highest levels, if engaged in an informal debate with most of us, would undress our arguments in record time.

And don't laugh off the evidence for evolution. There's TONS of it, much of it at the microbial level which most of us wouldn't even begin to understand. HOWEVER, their intelligence and the metric tons of evidence don't prove evolution is true. All it proves is that if you have a predisposed bias toward a naturalistic explanation of the world, THEN, evolution is the Inference to the Best Explanation. They see the fossil record, the similar DNA, the similar biological features...and they conclude: common ancestor.

Our side, the Creationist side, is the same. Brilliant folks here too. And metric tons of evidence for Creation. And, I believe, it's built so much more on common sense. Our predisposed bias toward a supernatural explanation of the world leads to creation as our Inference to Best Explanation. We see the fossil record, the similar DNA, the similar biological features...and we conclude: common Artist.

The trouble comes when either side fails to grant that the other side might have a shred of intelligence and an inference worth at least considering respectfully in an open dialogue. The secondary trouble comes when either side mistakenly represents its argument as FACT. Both Evolution and Creation are theories...inferences, conclusions drawn from evidence.

In addition, if we're ALL honest, both sides of the argument are really engaged in a belief system. Evolution's religion = naturalism. Creation's religion = Christianity (among some others). None of us were alive when everything began. And none of us lived long enough to confirm or deny what we believe happened over time. In fact, if you go back far enough, both evolutionists and creationists believe in a type of supernatural creator. Evolutionists / naturalists go back to an eternal particle or element, from which everything evolved. Christians go back to an eternal God who created everything.

Rather than shot insults at each other, maybe we should begin with those things that we have in common. My .02. 

Monday, March 07, 2016

Upcoming Book Signings and Author Events!

Hi, most excellent and admirable hob-er, readers!

I've been pretty cloistered with writing for the last six months, but the time has come to hop into the Batmobile and head out for a booksigning or six. 

Here's the schedule:


 

1) Author Night/Ice Cream Social event at Liberty Christian School on March 9th from 7-8:30pm.
 
Address: 11303 Liberty Rd, Owings Mills, MD 21117
Phone:(410) 655-5527 (ask for Amy Huey)

Note: Free Ice Cream. Yeah. Nuff said.






2) KIDZPO. Health and Fashion For All, benefitting Children's Chorus of Carroll County March 19, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Batson Signing and Tons of other Booths with Local Vendors and Crafts!

Grace Lutheran Church,
21 Carroll St. Westminster, MD
Tickets - $12.50/person

To purchase tickets call 410-925-4392 or go to http://ccccnotes.com/second-annual-kidzpo-announced/


For you West Coast Folk:




3) Dramatic Readings and Booksigning at Auntie's Bookstore of Spokane, Washington, 7pm, March 30th
http://www.auntiesbooks.com/

Auntie's Bookstore
402 West Main Avenue
Spokane, WA 99201

509-838-0206



For Floridians:



FPEA Annual Conference: May 26th thru 28th, Orlando, Florida at the Gaylord Palms Hotel and Convention Center.

I'll be out on the floor signing books all three days, but I have teaching events on Friday, May 27th, 1:45 and 2:35pm

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Isle of Stars is HERE!


The wedding of Griffin "Cat" Thorne and Anne Ross is on! Or is it? Captain Tobias Dredd, the infamous pirate "Toby Scratch," has been scouring the South Pacific, searching for Father Carroll, a member of the clandestine holy warriors known only as The Brethren. When Dredd's ship, The Red Corsair, levels a Brethren monastery, Declan Ross and the crew of The Robert Bruce are called upon to pursue Father Carroll and maintain his safety at all costs. The hunt for Father Carroll is on between Ross and Dredd. At stake: the lives of everyone involved and a treasure worth three times the world. For Father Carroll alone knows the location of The Isle of Stars, and he knows its secrets. 



Isle of Stars is the long-awaited sequel to Isle of Swords and Isle of Fire. But it's more besides. Each Christmas season, I post a poll on my writing blog asking readers to vote on a "Gift Story." I give readers several options of books I'm willing to write, and the story concept with the most votes wins. This year, there was a bit of a glitch in the Matrix. Not a tie, exactly, but two stories needed to win. And so, what you have in Isle of Stars is a legit sequel but also a bit of a mash up with cameos of favorite characters from other Batson books. It's honestly the strangest story I've written. I hope readers will enjoy the adventure and also can't wait to see if they can find all the cameos, references, winks, and nods that I've included in the story.


HOW TO GET IT:

March 4th thru March 8th. That's the FREE ZONE peeps, so hit it then! After that, $2.99. Here's the link:



In addition, I will be making Isle of Stars available in Paperback. Not sure about pricing yet. It's between 35K and 40K words, so should be pretty cheap as far as paperbacks go. Also, Amazon does a price match bonus where if you buy one version, you get the other version for next to nothing. 

Thank you, dear readers, for your patience. This "Christmas Gift" story is more like an "Easter Gift" story! Hope you enjoy sailing once more with Declan Ross, Cat, and Anne!

What Should I Read Next?

Is your TBR pile dwindling? And, come on, is the TBR pile ever NOT in need of a few more books?

I humbly submit the Bat Book Collection, all the titles I've written and published over the last 12 years. Enjoy!




CLICK on the Links to Explore Other Books by Wayne Thomas Batson…


The Door Within
A secret hidden in his Grandfather’s basement sends teenager Aidan Thomas on the adventure of a lifetime. *Dragons Included.

Rise of the Wyrm Lord
Antoinette Lynn Reed is headstrong, bright, and ridiculously good at martial arts. But will it be enough to overcome a legendary, shapeshifting creature? *Knights Assembly Required.

The Final Storm
Aidan, Antoinette, and Robby discover that there are some enemies that even the stone walls of Alleble cannot protect against. If anyone will survive the final storm, the cost will be great. *Believe Only As Directed.


•
Isle of Swords
Three clues: a sparkling green jewel, a rusty iron cross, and a lock of red hair lead a young man and a feared pirate’s daughter on a quest for his identity, as well as, a legendary treasure. *For Piratical Use Only.


Isle of Fire
What happens when bloodthirsty pirates and flame- throwing Vikings join forces? Declan Ross, his fiery daughter Anne, and her friend Griffin “Cat” Thorne will find out in this high seas adventure. *May Explode If Read Improperly.


•
Curse of the Spider King
Tommy, Kat, and a cast of five other teenagers have two things in common: 1) they all seem to be developing superhuman powers and 2) they are all being stalked by dark, trenchcoated figures with fiery eyes. One wrong move and any of the teens could be caught in the web of The Spider King. *Drefids May Be Closer Than They Appear.

Venom and Song
The Seven Elven teens are whisked away to Whitehall Castle where they’ll be trained as elite Vexbane soldiers. But without learning the secret of the Rainsong, they have no hope against the Spider King. *Elven Personnel Only.

The Tide of Unmaking
Seven years have passed since the Lords of Berinfell - Tommy, Kat, Jimmy, Johnny, Autumn and Kiri Lee - watched the horror of Vesper Crag wash away, as well as their fallen kinsman, Jett Green. But with Grimwarden in exile, the realm of Berinfell finds itself ill-equipped to weather the coming storms. A consuming terror appears on the horizon: an unstoppable force that threatens to devour all creation and all hope. Nations will crumble, loyalties will be tested, and even the might of Berinfell’s Lords may not be enough to stem The Tide of Unmaking. *No Admittance Except on World-Saving Business


•
Sword in the Stars (Fall 2016)
The wise and powerful Shepherds of Myriad are hearing dangerous voices on the wind. A washed up former assassin and the legend he believes may not be enough to stop a jealous king from unleashing a world-ending war. *Sword Where Prohibited.

The Errant King (Fall 2016)
Ariana wants nothing more than to escape the nightmares of her past. High King Lochlan wants nothing more than to escape the dreary prospects of his future. But when ancient, legendary creatures attack from east and west, trapping Ariana and Lochlan in the middle, the past and future are in jeopardy for all. *Side Effects Include: Insomnia, Bouts of Dread, and Spontaneous Dueling.

Mirror of Souls (Fall 2016)
King Lochlan is in exile. Heroes of Myriad’s past are presumed dead. A scattered remnant army must evade Morlan’s overwhelming Dark Shepherds and Cythraul’s Bone Ministers. And, as the Convergence ticks closer, all will come to fear and dread. For something else is about to return from across the Dark Sea. *Do Not Disturb Things Worse Than Dragons.

•
Dreamtreaders
Fourteen-year-old Archer Keaton discovers that dreams are much more than they seem. And nightmares? Worse still. Called upon to join the powerful Dreamtreader Order, Archer must face not just his own fears but those of every man, woman, and child living on earth. *Dreamtread for a Limited Time Only.

Search for the Shadow Key
Betrayed by a friend, Archer Keaton must confront a new Lord of Nightmares. The fabric of the Dream Realm is fraying, and a breach is imminent. Two worlds threatening to collide, Archer makes an ill-advised deal with Bezeal, launching a series of devastating consequences.  *Do Not Feed the Nightmare Hounds.

War for the Waking World
When the Dream and Waking Realms merge, the chaos of unbridled imagination begins to tear everything apart. Archer Keaton is arrested and due to stand trial before the Master of All Dreamtreaders. The fate of worlds rests in the hands of Archer’s prodigy little sister, Kaylie and the Nick Bushman, the Dreamtreader from Down Under. The secret of the Wind Maiden is exposed at last, and there are subtle hints that a mischievous little rogue might turn out to be the most perilous villain of all. *Don’t Drink the Water, Especially if it Contains Gort.

•
GHOST
John Spector, aka GHOST, isn’t your ordinary investigator.

He carries a shiny badge, a billfold ID, and a mysterious silver suitcase. His mission? Seek the forgotten ones, the abandoned ones, the ones no one else can or will help. Visit blunt force trauma upon the world’s blackest souls and deny the devil his day by any means necessary. And never stop. Never.

For more than a decade, the "Smiling Jack" killer has been posting photos of his victims on the Web, daring anyone to catch him, daring anyone to care. But when no missing person files match and no victims are ever found, the FBI closes the case.

Years later, a digital camera washes up on shore, and GHOST finds it. Each macabre photo becomes a clue that will lead GHOST and FBI Special Agent Deanna Rezvani on the trail of one of the most diabolical killers of this world…or beyond.

"No one gets away with murder. Not for long."

NOTE: This book is intended for mature reading audiences. The appropriate reader age is: 16+ *Warning: this product may contain traces of terror, death, and hope.







Short Reads (10,000 to 25,000 words) by Wayne Thomas Batson…

• The Blackwood (a Door Within Tale)
Nock and Mallik are on the trail of something wicked lurking in Yewland’s famed forest. *Authorized Door Within Readers Only

• The Misadventures of Strylun and Xerk
What happens when Myriad’s two most famous bounty hunters are each given the charge to arrest the other? Bad things. And funny. *War Hammer Included.

• Forget Me Not
If a strange old man warns you not to enter a certain part of his vast garden, you should stay far away. But Lisa and her college friends don’t listen, tumbling into the war between the Hemlocks and the Broadleaves. *Forests Subject to Change

• Law of the Land
Do this. Don't do that.
Twelve-year-old Jeremy Townsend is sick of rules. Sick of being told what to do. Sick of being punished. But that's his life. That is until Jeremy follows a seldom trodden path in the woods and plummets into the world of Y'Chrana. In Y'Chrana, there are no rules. Stay up all night. Sleep all day. Eat whatever you want…all the time. It's a dream come true. But Jeremy's Y'Chranian friend Neil is hiding something. And everything isn't as it seems. *Living in a Lawless Land Can be Hazardous to Your Health

• Storms Captured
Before he wrote fantasy and adventure novels, he was a poet. Into each person’s lifetime, storms will come. Through wit and verse, the author explores the vital issued of heart and mind. *For a Limited Rhyme Only

• The Dragon in My Closet
When 16 year-old Cassandra McKellen brings a special keepsake home from the Renaissance Festival, she has no idea how special it is indeed. Awakened in the middle of the night by scratching sounds and eerie flickers of light, Cassandra realizes something fantastic is alive and living in her closet. She tries to feed the creature: cat food, lunch meat, and even steak, but discovers that this beast requires a diet of a very different kind.  *Crystal Ball Sold Separately.

• The Skeleton Project
Mysterious circumstances lead the FBI to form The Skeleton Project. The most secretive branch of the Bureau, the Skeleton Project searches out the paranormal and supernatural cases that are far beyond the means of regular law enforcement. In these four episodes, you'll meet two of the Skeleton Project's finest agents: obsessive, bend-the-rules Special Agent Oswald "Oz" Pershing and his trigger-happy new partner, Agent Rachel Minnis. Join them as they investigate things that go bump in the night. *No Aliens, No Creatures, No Service.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Want to Vacation?

On this snowy day, you might be thinking about...VACATION! Summer, sunshine, surf, and sand! WOOT. But to get a nice vacation place for summer, it's best to start planning now. 

It gives me great pleasure to announce that our family's Topsail Island beach townhome, "A Glimpse of Heaven" is open for rentals!! Here's the link:

bit.ly/1TasJPH

A Glimpse of Heaven is a beautiful 3 Bedroom townhouse in northern Topsail Island, North Carolina. Topsail has the beauty of Myrtle Beach without the commercialism and the serenity of the Outer Banks without the huge cost. 

Bonus for Bat Book Readers: If you rent "A Glimpse of Heaven," mention the code phrase "Never Alone" in your rental comments, and I'll send you a free signed book of your choice!

God has blessed our shoes off with this place, so we hope you'll let us bless you by hosting your vacation at A Glimpse of Heaven. 










Monday, December 07, 2015

Christmas Story 2015…and an Atomic Facepalm!

Greetings, Readers! {Author salutes sheepishly} So, you've probably already noticed the discrepancy in the polling results. At the close of the poll, the votes showed the Mash Up story as 5 votes ahead.

And yet, here's Mr. Author claiming that the Cat/Anne Pirate Story won. So HOWWZZZAT work? Well, it's a simple and vexing matter of me counting chickens before they did'st hatch.

I checked the vote on Thurs and once on Friday, and the pirate story was in the lead rather comfortably. And I was very, very glad because I've already poured a ton of work into that story. And I was actually afraid because, if any of the others won, I wouldn't have time to finish by Christmas or even (like last year) New Years!

So, imagine my shock and horror when the Mash Up was victorious! So there I am, feeling much like a world-class donkey. Awwww Hee!

{Insert Atomic Facepalm Here}






So, after much thinking, I've decided on the only course I can complete on time: Cat and Anne's new Pirate Adventure. To those hoping for the mash up, I most sincerely apologize. But, as a little concession, I am going to scatter characters from my other books throughout the pirate story. So, it will kind of become both Isle of (something) and a Mash Up.

These will be cameo appearances, so don't expect Alastair Coldhollow to swing down onto the deck to slash the story's villain. But...he might appear as a deck hand. LOL

Anyway, please forgive me for the major GOOF. Since I've already gotten a good start, I'm hoping to have the new story out by Christmas Day!

Never alone.

Monday, November 30, 2015

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! What Story Would You Like for Christmas?

I love Christmas. What's not to love? It's the time of year to celebrate the birth of our Savior, whose gift of eternal life will never be surpassed by any gift we could give or receive. And, during this festive season, even this old, stodgy world wakes up from its selfish stupor and remembers to love one another.



In keeping with the season of giving, I'm writing you a Christmas Present Story. This is a previously unpublished work somewhere in the vicinity of 10,000-15,000 words.

Maybe. 
Even. 
More. 

It'll be some kind of fantasy adventure, but that's all I can say for certain right now. The rest is up to you! You have between now (November 30th) and Saturday, December 5th to vote on the poll below. You can vote once a day for a total of six votes, so come on back to make sure the story you want to read gets the most votes!

And the winner is...

Griffin (Cat) Thorne & Anne Ross Pirate Adventure!

The story will be available Christmas morning for FREE! You'll find links for the story here, on Facebook, and on Amazon Kindle. You'll be able to get it in two formats: Kindle and PDF. Most eReaders have a way to convert a pdf to something it can use, and Kindle has an app for just about any computer, tablet, phone, etc. to allow you to read it on whatever is convenient to you.

So set a reminder on your device: check back here for a free story on Christmas!

MERRY CHRISTMAS to ALL!!


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Prayer Salvo...

For those of you who have also taken it on the chin recently, as my family has, I offer up this prayer for all of us:

Dear Heavenly Father, for the grace to live and love another day, thank you. For the trials and hardships, the tragedies, the challenges, and even the daily inconveniences...thank you. Chisel our hard hearts through these troubles, burn away the impurities that we regularly insist on collecting, and transform us into loving, serving, tenderhearted, trusting, patient, and absolutely courageous warriors.

For those of us who have been beaten so low that every breath seems a labor, that just starting the day seems a mile-high climb, that every darkness seems a fearful horror, every face seems full of scorn, and every tick of the clock leads to more loneliness…Father, bring comfort. Shelter us under your mighty wings and defend us. You are our Rock, our Shield, our Deliverer. Please, help us to abide in you and you in us.

Lord God, you also are our Sword. We ask, God, that you would go to war for your namesake. The enemy would seek to show the world that he is your equal, but we know he is NOT. With a thought, you destroy the enemy's plans. We ask, Lord, that you would bend your thought toward the enemy and his followers. That you would wreck them, that you would overwhelm them, and defeat them.

But, God, we confess that we have been traitors to you, Lord. We have praised your name while, in the anonymous darkness, we have left open a backdoor for the enemy. We have even laid foundations upon which the enemy has built stronghold after stronghold. For these selfish, foolish acts, we confess and apologize and repent. Father, you were right all along. Now please, clean up the mess we've made. Put forth your mighty hand and smack the living daylights out of the enemy. Batter him, smash the strongholds to rubble and sweep away the debris! Unleash the might of your name and leave no doubt that Jesus Christ is Lord of ALL.

In the Triumphant name of Jesus, Amen. 
 
 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

In the Face of Evil...What are You Prepared to Do?

In the 1987 classic mobster movie, The Untouchables, Eliot Ness (played by a very young Kevin Costner) sits in a church cathedral with a sage beat cop named Jim Malone (Sean Connery). Ness wants to catch the notorious but seemingly untouchable mob boss, Al Capone, but he doesn't know how. Capone always seems to be one step ahead. And no matter how hideously evil Capone's acts, nothing seems to stick to him. He always manages to escape. The law can't touch him.

Malone confronts Ness here by saying, "What are you prepared to do?" Enough from me. Watch the clip:




It's a brilliant scene. Powerful, thought-provoking, and a little bit unsettling. In the narrative, Eliot Ness gets the message intellectually but he doesn't quite get it in his heart, in his gut, or in his soul. It takes a mortally wounded Malone, lying in a pool of blood, gasping out the words once more:

"What are you prepared to do?"

...to finally get through to Ness. He gets it, at last. But it took a brutal murder, a face-to-face confrontation with black, soulless evil…to WAKE. HIM. UP.

November 13th, 2015, Paris, France.

More than 120 people are murdered by terrorists. Black. Soulless. Evil. This will be for France like September 11th is for us. But here, I need to ask you (in as much as I must ask myself): What are you prepared to do?

How many 9/11s is it going to take? How many school shootings? How many inner city teens dying? How many genocides? HOW MANY? Before Christians will get up off their collective butt and get on their feet and on their knees?



It was Paris last night. But it could have been Washington D.C. It could have been Arlington, Texas. It could have been Eugene, Oregon or New York City, or even Asheville, North Carolina. It doesn't matter. Evil is evil, murder is murder, and death is death—wherever it is.

On October 12th of this year, I lost my father. He lived a long, fruitful life and in his 85th year, was definitely beginning to show his age. We knew it was coming in a few years maybe, but when he died, it was still tragic. My whole family went to my parents' house. We got to sit with my father one last time, to say goodbye. I got to hold his hand and caress his gray brow…one last time. But the man I knew as my father was gone. All that remained was his physical body, an inanimate object…a shell.

In Paris today, there are thousands of loved ones struggling to come to grips with an even more tragic and sudden form of death. And millions more, worldwide, will shake their heads and mutter things like, "What is this world coming to?" or "Can't someone stop these terrorists?" or even the most basic question of all, "Why?"

Science can't help you answer these questions. Atheism blinks and hollowly points fingers. In the face of abject evil, moralism and humanism peel away like old paint, exposing the rot underneath.

So, Christian Brothers and Sisters, it falls to us. It falls to us to answer the WHY question. It falls to us to call evil for what it is, to not excuse it or rationalize it away, and to recognize that we have an ENEMY. And that enemy is not the terrorists.

What are you prepared to do?

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12. 

Satan, and the fallen third of all the angelic realm—they are the enemy.

The enemy will do anything. He will hit you when you're down. He will exploit your weaknesses. He will destroy the innocent and dance over our grief. He is not playing fair. He is not playing by the rules. He could care less about our human laws, but exists only to strangle our hopes. He is sin. He is despair. He is death.

What are you prepared to do?

No, we don't fight the Chicago way. But we can learn from it. We're not to go all vigilante-style looking for and murdering possible terrorists or evil-doers. Don't you see? That kind of response wouldn't do any good anyway. Our enemy is NOT people. If we burn the puppets, the puppet master simply gets more puppets. We need to attack the enemy. We need to cut the puppet master's strings.

Put simply: we need to pray; we need to love; and we need to help.

PRAY:

This is a spiritual battle. We access the spirit realm through prayer. But we need to step it up. We need to ask God to send angels to protect us. We need to ask God to drench those grieving with His supernatural peace. But we also need to attack. We need to ask God to send legions of His warrior angels to: slash the enemy's lines of communication, to put the enemy's networks in disarray, and to  crush evil strongholds to rubble. This is not a game. This. Is. War. So, Christian, fight. Pray that God would kick the devil in the teeth and then crush the enemy under our heels. Pray specifically for the terrorists to have their eyes opened to see Jesus and believe. Pray for the terrorists to escape the snare that they are in and turn from their missions of harm, fear, and murder. Pray that ALL false belief systems would burn in the holy light of the One True God.

LOVE:

This is where we really pull a Sean Connery. Love isn't fair at all. Love is beyond law. And we Christians are told:

"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? … Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:44-48)

BAM. Love everyone and everywhere you can. A kind word. A smile. A hug. A hand. A note. A service. Love your brothers and sisters in Christ so that the world may see AT LAST that we are ONE. How do we love our enemies? See prayer. Are there other ways? Ask God to show you.

HELP:

Love not just in words but in actions. There are going to be collections at Church and elsewhere, collections to help the people of Paris. Give. Maybe take all the money you might have spent at Starbucks and give it to relief agencies to help Paris. (Sorry about the Starbucks jab. I couldn't resist.) If your church puts together a team to travel to Paris...or anywhere else, try to go. Or help support others who can go. And then, not just the occasional effort, but help others all over the place. With every cup of water you deliver in Jesus' name, you rock the spiritual world. You send tremors through the enemy camp. And, you open the eyes of the world.

Our enemy is not flesh and blood. The law of this world can't touch him. We cannot fight conventionally, but we must fight.

There is black, soulless evil in this world. What are you prepared to do to fight it?