Additives for the Soul

For years I had an unfortunate and unconventional attitude towards lawn mowers. I’d buy the cheapest one available and use it till it quit working. I never did any maintenance except for adding oil–I never changed the oil–and occasionally replacing the spark plug. Not only that, I never drained the gas tank at the end of the mowing season.

Why bother? It seemed like a nuisance.

Because I kept the mower in a shed, it would normally last four or five years being (mis)treated that way. I rationalized that the replacement cost was about equal to the total of yearly tuneups by someone who knew (and cared) more about it than I did.

Last year I started having real problems with the mower. It was acting even more sluggish than usual, and I had trouble keeping it running. No telling how often I had to restart it just to get the grass cut. As the end of grass cutting season approached, the mower had grown nearly impossible to start. Time for a new mower–just to get me through the last couple of mowings before cold weather.

The new mower was different from the old ones, though. It came with a sample of gas additive and some important information about why I should treat the gas with it. It seems that the ethanol in regular gas turns gas to water over a period of time–like from one year to the next. I had been using a can of the previous year’s gas.

Out of curiosity, I asked a mechanic friend’s opinion. Based on what I told him, he verified that the water in the old mower had probably done a serious number on the carburetor. Replacing it would have cost $75-85. In ignorance and laziness, I’d outsmarted myself.

So I used the additive to finish last year’s mowing season, drained the gas just in case, and disposed of what was left in the can. I bought fresh gas this year and put the additive in it. Not only is the mower working great, it sounds and acts like new, which it almost still is!

God didn’t design the human body to last forever, although proper care of the body is apt to add many additional years of life. But at the end, the body will die.

The soul is something else, though. It’s eternal. Even so, it requires proper maintenance. It can get too easily overgrown with sin and concerns about this world. Not the way God intended for our souls to be.

God has a special additive for the soul. If we read His Word, talk with Him in prayer on a regular basis, and worship with other Christians, God’s Holy Spirit can keep our souls functioning properly. We rely more fully on God rather than on ourselves and are less less inclined to give in to temptation.

Taking advantage of the gasoline additive is my decision based on past experience. So is allowing the Holy Spirit to keep my soul sound.

Is your soul in good working order or have you allowed it to grow unusable? You can’t replace your soul, but you can allow God’s Holy Spirit to work in your life and renew your soul and make it as good as new.

~*~

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
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Best regards,
Roger

Which Book Would You Pick?

For the sake of this post I’m assuming that all of you are readers of novels. Maybe Christian ones, maybe secular. Maybe both.

And you’re confronted with far more books than you have the time and inclination to read. And possibly the money, too. Are you with me so far?

You spend a long time browsing the bookshelves–or doing a comparable search online–and you’re paying special attention to three things: the title, the front cover, and the back cover blurb.

If those three things impress you, you may also look at the first sentence and maybe the first paragraph. Those steps help you make the best possible choices.

Well, let’s have a little fun with this now.  I have nine UNPUBLISHED novel manuscripts on my computer. So there’s no front cover or back cover blurb. I’ve listed their titles below along with a brief description. Please read them carefully. You should be able to tell which ones are Young Adult and which ones are general adult. All of them are Christian novels, however.

  • Project Muffintop: A teen girl diets to attract a boyfriend. But is she after the right boy?
  • Do I Ever!: Two couples try to hide their pending divorces from one another only to fall in love all over again.
  • Impractically Yours: Middle-aged best friends Robbie and María must overcome trust issues, blood sugar complications, and an ill-timed practical joke to keep their friendship intact and reveal their mutual love.
  • Fifty-Fifty: A greedy businessman who’s turned his back on love faces certain death at the age of fifty. But what if he miraculously survives?
  • Misfits: Two teenaged preacher’s kids discover the joys of being different when they start a misfits club that even the in-crowd kids want to join–and then rediscover one another.
  • Wherefore Art Thou Ramon?: As children, Ramón and Julianne unwittingly start a feud between their fathers. As teenagers, they must stop it. But do the ends justify the means?
  • Rosa No-Name: A young woman returns to the tiny Mexican village that once rejected her and earns acceptance by helping the villagers learn to read, to forgive, and to survive.
  • Overshadowed: A teen who’s lived under the shadow of family and friends discovers a self she never knew she could be after becoming a hesitant leader.
  • A Twisted Rainbow: Two young men discover the never-ending joy of following Christ after winning and then losing a fortune in the lottery.

Okay. You still with me? Would you now please leave a comment specifying which two manuscript would appeal to you the most if they’re ever published. Don’t worry. You’re not committing yourself to anything. I’m just curious.

~*~

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
Tentative-Front-Cover
Best regards,
Roger

A Profound Secret

TaleOfTwoCities

Who but a former English teacher would take such interest in the following quote from the beginning of Chapter Three of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities?

“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it!”

I was enjoying a solitary walk at the mall recently when I started thinking about the other walkers I encountered. Despite the variety of ethnic backgrounds and nationalities, almost all of them were unfailingly pleasant. And why wouldn’t they be?

Even though most of us weren’t walking together, we shared a common activity. And we tended to greet one another as if we were old friends.

But then the Dickens passage quoted above came to mind. How much did I know about my fellow walkers? And how much did they know about me? Basically nothing. We were all limited to what we could see. Each of us was truly a “profound secret and mystery” to all of the others.

I hadn’t been working at Target very long–this was about nine years ago–when Anthony, one of my co-workers, pedaled his bicycle to the top of an interstate overpass, parked it, and jumped to his death on the highway below.  He was only nineteen or twenty.

His suicide was a shock to everyone who knew him. If anyone had any idea what led to that final desperate act, he or she didn’t share it with the rest of us.

Because the store personnel knew of my writing ability, they asked me to compose a brief obituary, which they framed along with Anthony’s picture and posted in a frequently traveled hallway. That was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to write.

I barely knew Anthony. But if I’d known him better, it might’ve been even harder.

So I quoted the Charles Dickens passage and simply said that whatever had motivated Anthony was a secret. A mystery. Something we could never have seen from the outside. Or been able to prevent.

How I envy God’s ability to see inside the human heart–and the whole of every person’s being–and to understand those things we can’t know about one another. How much better our relationships with others would be if we could see them that clearly. And how much more effectively we might be able to help them.

If you have any thoughts on this subject, please share them in a comment.

~*~

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
Tentative-Front-Cover
Best regards,
Roger

Growing More Conservative (Final Part)

I believe more strongly than ever in the morality of the Bible. Any society that ignores biblical teachings about right and wrong will slip further and further into decay. How much further can we slide before God decides to wipe His hands of us?

I don’t hate homosexuals. Although I don’t understand them, I am not the least afraid of them. My wife and I attended a large gay expo in New York City a few years ago to visit a gay friend and see his dance group perform. He’s someone I enjoyed talking with and I didn’t feel the least uncomfortable being around. Does that sound like fear or hate?

But the Bible says that the practice of homosexuality is a sin. It lists a number of other sins, too. Anything that can be described as “my way” rather than “God’s way” is a sin.

What too many people ignore is the fact that God didn’t create a chart giving sins an acceptability rating. He doesn’t view one sin as more acceptable or less acceptable than another. Anything that separates us from Him is sinful–equally sinful.

Addictions like smoking, drugs, and alcohol abuse that “sinners” have a difficult time breaking their dependence on is bad enough. But how many sins do people not even want to resist and sometimes stubbornly insist on holding on to?

Any number of sexual sins fall into that category, including the practice of homosexuality.  And adultery. But so does overeating, something God has helped me to overcome. But not until I’d already developed diabetes.

The Bible refers to the one and only unforgivable sin–and the practice of homosexuality isn’t it. Neither is overeating.

Jesus commands Christians to love one another–and to love their enemies as well–with God’s kind of love. Sacrificial love. So they ought to love gay people just as they would anyone else.

Condemning homosexuals is–in my understanding–unbiblical. At the same time, Christians shouldn’t go against the Bible by accepting the practice of homosexuality as biblically acceptable.

I’d like to say more, but I’ll leave it at that. I’ve tried to make my points without being insensitive or offensive. But I can’t deny my conservative faith in the Bible any more than people who’re different from me will deny who they are.

Please don’t expect me to.

If you want to comment about this post, please do so respectfully–of both sides. God loves us equally.

~*~

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
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Best regards,
Roger

Growing More Conservative (Part Two)

Politics and religion are two other areas in which I’ve grown more conservative over the years.

I once wanted to be a high school civics teacher. I gave that idea up after attending my first political rally.

I’ve never lost my belief in or my appreciation for the Constitution, though. The older I get, the more I see its values being trampled at every level of government–from the Presidency down. The founders of this nation knew what they were doing, and they abided by the laws they’d established. They knew what would happen if the Constitution was ignored. I can only picture their tears of outrage if they were alive today to see how far we’ve fallen.

I used to be more moderate in my Christian beliefs. Although I’ve always believed that a true Christian should accept certain basic doctrines–the virgin birth, Jesus’ miracles, His death and resurrection, and His ascension back into Heaven–other things seemed less important

Like whether God created the world in seven earthly days or seven periods of time. And whether He created Adam outright or used evolution to build up to the first “real” man. And whether some biblical teachings related only to the culture of the day and not to today.

I’ve been sliding slowly but surely further into the conservative camp on those issues, too. If the Bible is true–and I believe it is–it must be accepted as true from cover to cover. No one has the ability to say that we should obey this, but ignore that.

So when Christ said that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life–the only door to God–He was saying that Christianity is the only true religion. I believe Jesus’ claim, and that makes me uber-conservative. So I have no choice but to reject the claim that all religions are equal.

If you want to comment about this post, please do so respectfully. God loves us even when we disagree with Him.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
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Best regards,
Roger

Growing More Conservative

I’ve never considered myself a liberal. Neither has anyone else who’s known me over the years. And I’ve never been  radical about anything. Except maybe the time I turned down a job when they told me I’d have to shave my mustache. But that’s another story.

I’ve always considered myself moderate, both politically and theologically. A nice, safe, middle of the road guy. Live and let live.

I knew liberals existed, but I didn’t know or care what they stood for. I wasn’t always sure they knew, either.

Conservatives were something else, though. If anything characterized them, it was their unyielding and very annoying belief that they were right about everything and nobody else was. At least as a moderate I was free to consider the possibility that the far right might actually be right about anything and everything.

I just couldn’t agree that their viewpoints were automatically the only valid ones.

I suspect I’ve opposed abortion at least since 1987. The year we adopted Kristi, whom her birth mother could easily have aborted. We’re so thankful she didn’t. So is Kristi and the rest of her family.

The more conspicuous the Pro-Lifers have become, the more their way of looking at things seems right. Yes, right. As in “the only right way.” Human life does begin at conception.

You want to read something interesting? Check out Psalm 139 in the Bible. Especially the verse that says, “For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.”

I believe God is responsible for all human life. Abortion is nothing but legalized murder.

I’ve grown conservative in other ways, too.  But I’ll save those for several additional blog posts.

Please leave a comment if any of this post has spoken to you. Even if you disagree. I’m not too conservative to listen politely.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
Tentative-Front-Cover
Best regards,
Roger

Frustration!

I probably would’ve learned this lesson years earlier if I’d read Ted Dekker’s book Black as a single novel. But my wife had given me the whole three-book Circle Series in hardback as a single volume. So I barely paid attention to the fact that Black didn’t have a satisfactory ending. Or that it was part of a series not a standalone.

The same with Red, the next book in that series. Both of those  books required the reader to proceed to the next book. White finally provided the ending I’d been waiting for and reading to reach. As if the series had just been a very long single novel.

So I failed to take in that a series is NOT the same thing as a sequence of standalone sequels.

That happened a number of years ago.

Flash forward to May of this year. I was attending a Christian writers conference near Asheville, NC. Among the many excellent features of the Ridgecrest Lifeway Conference Center was the presence of–surprise?–a Lifeway Bookstore.

If you read my recent post, “I Can’t Live without Books,” you won’t be surprised that I browsed through the Lifeway store at least once daily. Of special interest were books written by faculty and attendees. I enjoyed seeing my three  novels there, even though Lifeway doesn’t ordinarily carry them.

I couldn’t justify buying every book I wanted, though–I could’ve spent a hundred dollars in ten minutes–so one day I wandered through the “Bargain Books” section. Few of the books on those shelves appealed to me.

But there was one exception. Forbidden. A lengthy dystopian novel co-authored by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee. For $2.97, how could I go wrong?

I finally started reading it a couple of days ago. Creative. Compelling. Absorbing. A real page turner. And so much better than another dystopian novel I’d read recently.

Last night I made the mistake of flipping to the last page. Not to cheat and see how the story turned out, but to find out what the last page number was so I could figure out how much longer it take me to finish.

Uh, okay. The book cover undoubtedly said something about this book being part of a series, but I didn’t see that or take in its significance. But what I’d accidentally seen on the last page made clear that Forbidden wouldn’t be any more complete by itself than Black had been. Unlike Black, however, I didn’t have the rest of the series.

Some bargain this $2.97 book was going to be if I had to get two more books to read the rest of the story. And at a considerably higher cost than $2.97 per book.

Honestly, I was so frustrated I almost pitched the book into the nearest waste can, determined to forget I’d ever seen it. Why bother to even finish it?

I haven’t pitched it, though. Not yet. But neither have I continued to read it.

I suppose I have no right to feel gypped–I got what I paid for, even though it wasn’t all I’d expected–but I think I’m justified in feeling frustrated. I hate series and now realize I should avoid them carefully in the future!

Let me ask something. What would you do now? Please leave a comment. I’d really like to know.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
Tentative-Front-Cover
Best regards,
Roger