Shadowlands Chapter 2 – Discouragement

Allman had been walking for just a short while, heading towards wealth. The dirt road that he traveled on was winding and hilly. In places, it was covered in deep shadows by trees that towered above, making Allman feel as if he were in some kind of tunnel.

He continued walking through the day, stopping only a few times to rest. Late in the afternoon, he found himself climbing a long, steep hill. He had to stop several times to catch his breath, and for a time, he wondered if he would actually make it to the top, but he finally did.

When he did reach the top of the hill, he saw that he was at the top of an open ridge. He gasped at the view – it was unlike anything he had ever seen before from the tiny village of Average. But then, as he took it all in, he noticed a great city, far off. It must be the city of Wealth – but it was so much further than he had ever imagined it to be. His heart sank as he realized that he spent a whole day traveling only to discover that his goal was much further away than he had realized.

“You lookin’ at Wealth? It sure is a long way off, isn’t it?” a voice asked.

Allman turned to see who was speaking. It was rather scruffy looking man – short, thin, balding at the front but with long, gray hair that framed his face like an unruly halo. His clothes looked bleak – no real color at all, just gray, and covered with dust from the road. He wore a large backpack, carried a knapsack over one shoulder, and held a bent walking stick in his left hand.

“Hello,” Allman said. “I didn’t see you. Where did you come from?”

“I was just sitting under that dead tree over there,” the man responded, pointing. “I live up here on this ridge.”

“On the ridge?” Allman asked. “Where? Do you have a home here?”

“I live just in a cave just below the ridge line,” the man said. “Name’s Discouragement. Who are you? What are you doing up here?”

“My name’s Allman,” he replied. “I left my home in Average this morning. I am going to Wealth, where I will be able to make something out of my life!”

“Ugh. Don’t bother,” Discouragement said. “Can’t you see how far it is from here? You’ll never make it. Besides, look at you. Dressed the way you are? And coming from Average? They’ll never accept you there. You’ll end up in an alley starving, or going back home in disgrace.” He shook his head as if to demonstrate how futile Allman’s idea really was.

“Why would you say that?” Allman asked. “Have you been to wealth?”

Discouragement laughed. “Me? To Wealth? Why would I go there? Nope, not me. Years ago, I left my home in Complacent and hiked up here, just like you did. But then I got up here and saw how far off Wealth really was. I thought I’d go ahead and try, but just up the road a little ways, there’s a gully and the bridge is gone. There was no way I could get past it. So I came back here, and I just found a cave to live in, and I stayed. That’s what you should do too.”

Allman was crestfallen. He had started out with such dreams and aspirations. But now Discouragement was telling him not to even bother trying. He looked around and saw that the sun was sinking low in the sky. Now what would he do?

“Why don’t you spend the night with me?” Discouragement asked. “There’s room in my cave. You can rest for the night and then in the morning, why, you can find your own cave. Or you can head back to Average, whichever you please. There’s just no point in going on, though. You would never make it that far, and if you did, well, the chances that you would ever amount to anything are just…well…it just won’t happen. Trust me. I’m sure you’re a good person, but Wealth – that’s not for people like you and me.” He turned and started to walk back down the path, motioning for Allman to follow him. “C’mon, let’s get inside before it rains or something worse.”

With a heavy heart, Allman followed Discouragement.

Journey Through the Shadowlands – Chapter 1

Allman finally decided he was going to leave home. He could no longer stand to live in this place; it was time to follow his dreams. For as long as he could remember, he had wanted to leave. He had always hungered for something more, always wanted to explore the world outside, and see for himself if any of the stories he heard while growing up were true.

Those stories had captured his imagination as a child, and as he grew into early manhood, their pull on him had grown. Stories of the wealth and beauty of the sprawling cities of Desire, Wealth, and Pride, and of the people who lived in those places. The kind of people who would never think of visiting a place like Average, let alone living there.

There were the occasional whispered rumors – rumors that few gave any credit, yet the few that did insisted they were true. More true, in fact, than anything else. These people believed and spoke of strange things – of a world beyond the Shadowlands, of a dragon who enslaved the people of the Shadowlands without their knowledge, of a far-off land where a great King ruled in the city of Peace – a King who would one day return to the Shadowlands and claim it all as His own. The people who believed these crazy things insisted that the Shadowlands had not always been the Shadowlands, and that when the King did return, there would be a great Restoring of the Shadowlands to what they had once been – a wondrous Garden.

None of it made any sense to Allman. But all of it captured his imagination.

His heart yearned for something more than Average.

He constantly day-dreamed of something different. He spent hours in his mind, fashioning elaborate fantasies of what his life would be like if he lived in Desire – the adulation and awards he would receive, the desires he would see fulfilled, the desires that he would stir in others. The love he would experience. All of his yearnings satisfied.

And Wealth – he could picture thousands of people following him, looking to him for guidance because of all that he possessed. He could see himself ruling a large portion of the city, if not the city itself, with all the things he had ever wanted and done without out. Vast vaults of gold and precious gems would be his. He would deny himself nothing – he could have it all. He imagined himself returning in triumph to Average, showing everyone what he had made of himself, and perhaps even rescuing his parents from what he saw as failed lives.

But then Pride captured his thoughts as well. Pride was a special place, a city of great rejoicing. Most of the inhabitants of Pride had spent years in either Desire or Wealth, and then moved to Pride where they could display their accomplishments and their accumulated possessions to the greatest advantage. Pride was a place where each mansion was its own neighborhood. Allman saw himself retiring one day to Pride, basking in all that his life had become, and showing the other inhabitants of the city how insignificant they were in comparison to him

Every once in a while, though, a tiny voice whispered to him of the city of Peace and the King. It often caught him unaware, as he looked up at the beauty of the night sky or the glow of a sunrise. In those moments, he wondered what it might be like to serve as a knight in the King’s service, battling the Dragon. But thoughts of Desire, Wealth, or Pride would come floating back, and his mind would go there instead.

Enough of wasting time in dreaming and thinking and wishing and yearning, though. It was time for action – time to get what he had always wanted.

Early on the morning of the day that marked his promotion to adulthood, Allman got up, dressed, packed his few meager possessions, and said good-bye to his parents and siblings. Then he set out on the road to Wealth.

Friday Fiction – Eviction

Shadowlands Prologue Part 9

“You must leave Eden.  You cannot be here, and you cannot come here ever again.”

Adam and Eve gasped.  But Elyon was not finished.

“First, you must be covered.  And without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin.”

Logos stepped forward and turned towards the meadow.  As Adam and Eve watched, He walked off.  Several moments passed, and then He returned, shepherding along several lambs.  Adam and Eve called out to them, as they always had.  But this time, the lambs did not speak.  They opened their mouths, but no words came – only bleating.  Unsure of what this meant, Adam and Eve looked at one another, then looked at Elyon. 

“It began the moment you sinned,” he said.  “Creation is beginning to experience the effects of your choice.  The animals have lost their voices.  But this is the least of all that will follow.”

Logos approached with the lambs, and then knelt.  He looked up at Adam and Eve, tears streaming down His face.  “The blood price must be paid,” He said.  “You will be spared, but these lambs will shed their blood and give their hides to cover your nakedness and shame.  This will be the way of atonement for sins…”  At this, He paused and looked up at Elyon.  A shadow crossed Elyon’s face, and Ruach shimmered a dark, crimson color.  Elyon finished Logos’ sentence:  “Until the day that the prophecy is fulfilled.  Until Eve’s seed crushes the serpent’s head.”

Adam and Eve watched, broken-hearted, as the lambs were slaughtered and then coverings were fashioned for them out of the lifeless bodies.

And then it was time to leave Eden.

*                                   *                                    *

The Three-in-One walked with Adam and Eve as they followed the course of one of the rivers through the Garden and to the hills that rose up, separating the Garden from the outside world.  When they reached the hillside, the Three-in-One hugged Eve and then Adam, reminding them that they were His beloved.  A few more instructions, and a promise:  “I will not leave you, nor forsake you.  Look for me.”

Adam took Eve’s hand and they walked along the river’s edge, out through the entrance to the Garden.  When they reached the other side of the hill, they looked back.  As they watched, a Seraph – a Fiery One, an ancient warrior – stepped into the gap and drew its sword.  The Seraph towered above the top of the hill, standing guard at the entrance to the Garden. Behind it, the sides of the hill began to close in, and the ground beneath swelled up, until a solid wall of earth was behind the Seraph.  Adam and Eve could no longer see the Garden.

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They stopped to survey the wilderness around them.  They had been here many times before, but it looked much different now.  Some of the trees had begun to die.  Others had dropped fruit, which was now rotting on the ground.  New plants appeared – but they looked strange, uninviting.  Some were covered with spikes or other kinds of growths which were completely unfamiliar to Adam and Eve.

As they stood there, trying to understand the changes that were taking place, a zebra trotted into the clearing.  Adam called out to it, but as soon as it heard the sound of his voice, it looked towards him, and then ran off, terrified.  What was this?  The animals, who had been such close friends of Adam and Eve, now no longer spoke and were frightened of Adam and Eve.

Adam recalled something that the Three-in-One had told them as they had walked along on their way out of the Garden.  “Darkness will descend and reign over Creation.  A new age has begun.  This good and beautiful Earth will become more corrupt – will become the Shadowlands.  And it will remain the Shadowlands until the day of Kingdom Come.”

The Shadowlands.  Adam and Eve’s new home.

Friday Fiction – The Trees

The Shadowlands – Prologue Part 5

Days passed.  Months.  Years, even.  Who knows for sure?

With the Three-in-One, one day is as a thousand years.

Adam and Eve grew closer and closer to one another; grew in grace and in the knowledge of Elyon, Logos, and Ruach.

Every day, they would enjoy exploring the delights of the never-ending Garden, taking in its sights and sounds, and the pleasures of the abundant food that the Three-in-One had provided for them.  Every evening, they would walk in the cool of the Garden with the Three-in-One.

At times, they would follow one of the rivers, ranging far from the Garden, exploring creation, fearing nothing, knowing that wherever they might be, they would always find their way home.  Knowing that wherever they might be, Elyon watched over them, Logos would be sure to encounter them, and Ruach would refresh them.  Wherever they went, they encountered animal friends that they had named.  Wherever they went, they knew and were known, intimately.

Adam enjoyed the physical activity of exploration, running and racing ahead with excitement, taking it all in.  Eve would walk more slowly, taking her time, thoughtful and grateful.  Adam would dive and swim and swing and jump and climb, while Eve would stop to gaze at the beauty of flowers and plants or to talk with the animals that they encountered.

It was perfect.  It was Paradise.

Until the day of the Separation.  The day of the Fall.  The day when their world came to an end – when Eden was closed off to them, their spirits died, and Creation became the Shadowlands.

*                    *                    *

Eve had been feeling a restlessness in her spirit, but wasn’t sure what it was.  She and Adam lacked for nothing; the Three-in-One had provided all they could ask for or imagine, and so much more even beyond that.  She was both contented and happy, all of her longings met.

And yet…there was something that nagged at her.  There were times when Adam would go off on his own to explore and she felt…alone?  No, that couldn’t be it.  She was never really alone.  The Three-in-One might not be with her at every moment, but she knew they watched over her.  Still…she felt as though she were missing out on something.

A thought came…what about the Tree?  The one in the middle of the Garden.  She and Adam had avoided it since the day that the Three-in-One had warned them about it.  They had explored so much of Creation, so much of the Garden…and there was still so much more to see.  But…that Tree.  What had They called it?  The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, that was it.

What would it hurt to just go look at it?  Why had they avoided it?  After all, the whole Garden was theirs, a gift – and the Tree was part of the Garden.  If they couldn’t eat from it, that didn’t mean she couldn’t enjoy its beauty.

So she set off for it.

She was almost there when Adam came jogging up to her.  “Whatcha doing?” he asked in his playful way.

“Going for a walk,” she responded.

“Where?”

“I wanted to go look at the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,” she said.  Adam began to protest, but she cut him off.  “I know we’re not supposed to eat from it.  But I just want to look at it.  This whole Garden is ours, including the Tree.  We’ve been so afraid of it that we’ve never really looked at it.  I just want to see it.  There’s no harm in that.”

“I guess you’re right,” Adam agreed.  “Let’s go see it.”

Before long, they walked into the clearing where the Tree stood.  A short distance away, another Tree stood – the Tree of Life.  Eve realized that they had never really looked at it either, and had never eaten its fruit because it was so close to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Both Trees were beautiful, standing tall and strong, alike in their grandeur but bearing fruit that was obviously different.

They stood together, holding hands, looking at both Trees, taking it all in.

A moment later, a branch snapped off to the right, somewhere in the smaller trees at the edge of clearing.  Then, more noise.  It sounded like a large animal was moving around in there.  Adam, curious, left Eve standing there to go see what might be making noise.

Before the Shadowlands – Part 2

Prologue Part 2 – The Image-Bearers

Together, Elyon, Logos, and Ruach shouted, voices thundering joyously, “Let Us make mankind!  And let us make them in Our image!”

Elyon spoke.  “Life!  Flesh!  Bone!  Tissue!  Corporeality!  Organs, vessels, and blood!”

As He spoke, Logos knelt in the clay of the Earth they had created.  As He touched the clay, it began to spin and grow.  He shaped the clay, the First Potter, forming physically what Elyon proclaimed.  In moments, what had begun as a lump of rich red clay stood, tall and majestic, mirroring Logos’ form.  All Creation held its breath, marveling at the intricate details of this new being.

Then Elyon spoke again.  “Life!  Breath!  BREATHE!”  As He spoke, Ruach swirled upon the form standing there.  Ruach-wind blew into his nostrils and his mouth.  The creation gasped, drew its own breath – and then opened its eyes.

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“IT IS GOOD!” the Three-in-One agreed, His joy obvious to all.

Elyon, Logos, and Ruach met in a flash of light and energy, appearing suddenly as one Being, yet each of their faces somehow distinct in one visage.  Together, they spoke to their creation.  “You are Adam, first of the Image-Bearers.  Welcome!”  Gesturing broadly at all that Adam could see, the Three-in-One said, “All of this is yours!  Enter into the joy of all that has been created for you to enjoy!  Subdue this Earth and have dominion over it!  Come, let us show you all that is yours!”

It was a good day, the sixth day of Creation.

And on the seventh day, the Three-in-One and all of their Creation rested.

Life on Earth was filled with wonder.  Every day, Adam would walk the land, conversing with the Three-in-One.  Sometimes, the Three-in-One would appear to Adam in one form, as He had on the day Adam had been created.  Other times, Elyon or Logos would walk with Adam, talking with him as Ruach would gently waft along with them.  After a while, Adam would run, dive into the water and swim, enjoying the beauty all around him.

Often, as they would walk together, animals and birds would approach.  The Three-in-One would stop and wait, allowing Adam to take the lead, for this world had been created for him and his kind.  He began to take the first steps in walking in dominion over this creation.  He would speak to the animals, listen, converse.  And he would name them, in so doing blessing them as the Three-in-One blessed him.  In this way he began to work out what it meant to be an Image-Bearer, to walk in loving dominion.

Every seventh day, all would rest.

Time passed. 

One evening, after a long walk with Adam, who had bedded down for the night, the Three-in-One began to talk about the next step.  Adam was ready, it was decided.  It was not good for him to continue to be alone, the only one in all of creation of his kind.  It was time to create his ezer-kenegdo – his mate.  His life-saver.

It was time for the Image-Bearers to begin to multiply and to have dominion over the entire Earth.

The next morning, Logos woke Adam.  Together, they walked and talked.  Logos explained that it was not good for Adam to be alone.  Adam didn’t understand – he had Elyon, Logos, and Ruach.  He had the animals, the birds, the fish.  Occasionally, an Immortal like Michael or Gabriel would come visit on their way to do the business of the Eternal Kingdom.  Adam was content.

“You must trust Me,” Logos told him.  “There is a need in your soul that you do not even realize.  You are created in Our image – you have much love to share.  Your capacity for love will grow as Our creation expands.”

Adam believed Logos, believed the Three-in-One.  As they gathered to him, he felt a deep tiredness wash over him.  He sat down, and then laid down in the clay – the same clay from which he had been formed.

And the Three-in-One danced and created again.

Elyon spoke words of life once again.  As He spoke, Logos drew a rib from Adam’s side and began fashioning another Image-Bearer – similar, and yet different from Adam.  And Ruach once again breathed life into this Image-Bearer – this new creation.

Eve.

Woman.

Stepping back, the Three-in-One watched, waiting for Adam to revive, and for Eve to wake up for the first time. 

Before the Shadowlands

Prologue Part 1 – Before the Shadowlands

The Three-in-One – Elyon, the Most High; Logos, the Son; and Ruach the Wind – were as their name.  They existed at Three, and lived as One.  They were the same entity, but three distinct persons.  They lived in eternity, outside the confines of time and space, complete and sufficient in Himself and Themselves.  Without beginning or end, their existence depended upon no one.  They are.

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They were self-existent, with no need for anyone else.  Although timeless, it could be said that their days were filled with love, joy, peace, and adventure.

Love so great, love without limit, by its very nature grows and creates.  Not from need – need to love or to be loved – but from desire.  Desire to share such amazing love, to pour it out upon others.

And so, the Three-in-One created.  First, time.  And then space.  Then, other sentient beings.  Immortals.  Angelic beings – warriors, musicians, guardians, messengers, craftsmen, scribes, and many others.  Each one an agent of Light; each one a beloved servant of the Eternal Kingdom.

Other fantastic creatures were fashioned.  Cherubim and seraphim.  Living creatures with four faces.  Messengers whose bodies were covered in eyes.  Beings whose voices could thunder and shake the Eternal Kingdom.

And still, the Three-in-One loved.  Their capacity for love was infinite.  They discussed, amongst Himself, a broader creation.

But in the midst of all of this love, in the midst of unrestrained opportunity, infinite joy and peace, complete satisfaction and absolute provision, a seed of rebellion was planted in the heart of Light-Bearer.  He was the chief worshiper; but he grew to desire that worship for himself.

He began to whisper, gathering others to his cause. 

And then in an instant, Light-Bearer acted.  He fought, challenging Elyon, the Most High.  He rose up in pride, and a third of his fellow angelic immortals gathered to his side, supporting his rebellion.

It was not even a struggle.  Their defeat was immediate and complete, and they were cast from the Eternal Kingdom into the outer nothingness.  Darkness and flames.  Condemned by their actions, they wandered, hearts full of rebellion and hatred, having traded everything for nothing in their coup attempt.

Shortly after this occurred, as the Eternal Kingdom mourned the loss of those who had fallen, the Three-in-One acted on their loving plans.

*                    *                    *

In the beginning, the Three-in-One created a physical, temporal universe.

Creation was a spectacle – an amazing dance of creativity between the Three-in-One.  Elyon spoke.  Logos brought life from nothing.  Ruach hovered over all of it, swirling in colors and movements of wind.

Darkness and light separated in an explosion of matter.  Elyon thundered, and day and night became.  Earth and air, fire and water, swirling from nothing into sea, land, heaven.  Life exploded forth – brilliant hues of green and red and purple and yellow, a swirl of vegetation and trees and plants, fruits and vegetables.

The dance continued, the creativity flowing and growing.  Elyon spoke, loudly and lovingly.  Logos moved in response.  Ruach flew, faster and faster, racing through all of it.  Lights flashed in the heavens, day and night growing more and more pronounced.  Life again burst forth on the earth – this time, animals and birds and fish, all of them colorful, leaping and swimming and flying in gratitude for their creation.  Animals that would someday become domesticated, animals that would always run wild, animals that would one day pass on into legend.  Lions and bears and cows and horses and dogs and giraffes and behemoths and leviathans and yetis and unicorns and dragons and basilisks and dinosaurs.

A cacophony of voices and sounds rose, newly living voices expressing the joy of all they were experiencing, seeing, and hearing.  The sound was a roar, but not a chaotic one.  Rather, it was a beautiful symphony of diverse voices and sounds, all directed in wonder and awe at the Three-in-One – Creator.

And the dance continued.  The love intensified – the more it was poured out into this creation, the more love there was to give.  More colors, greater contrast between darkness and light, more sounds, more beauty, more wildness, untamed by anyone or anything but the Creator.

Then came the pinnacle of creation.  A moment of silence, stillness in all that was happening.  The Three-in-One paused.  There was a collective gasp, all creation wondering what was next.  What climax could outdo what had already been done?  How could the Three-in-One do more than this?

The Three-in-One looked at one another.  Smiled broadly, their pleasure at what had come and what was to come evident to all.  “This is the moment!” they exclaimed in unison.

As the created Immortals looked on, the mystery was too great.  Michael cried out, “Lord!  What is it?  What can it be?” 

Together, Elyon, Logos, and Ruach shouted, voices thundering joyously, “Let Us make mankind!  And let us make them in Our image!”

The Power of Story

Warning – this is a longer-than-usual blog post, and it is no way at all devotional.

I have always loved to read, and specifically, to read stories.

Don’t get me wrong.  As an adult, I serve as a pastor, and so I read a lot of non-fiction:  the Bible; books on leadership, communication, history, attitude, planning, different aspects of theology, sociology, the Church’s role in our society, living as follower of Jesus in a post-Christian, post-modern era, soul care and spiritual formation, sermons by other pastors, politics, Western civilization, philosophy – I am a voracious reader.  I believe it is important for me as a leader to be a life-long learner.  My Dad, who has been a pastor for well over fifty years, taught me early in my ministry that for a pastor, a wide variety of books and knowledge were tools as vital to ministry as a well-stocked, even overflowing Husky Tool Chest and Rolling Tool Cabinet Set were to an auto mechanic.

But I’ve always loved to read stories.

I can remember finding an old, red-covered hardback mystery novel in my Grandpa Hunter’s den called The Ghoul.  It was a gothic mystery about a haunted house and a frightened heir and a crazed twin brother who imitated his deceased wealthy brother, trying to scare off the heir and killing several servants in the process.

I remember hearing Mr. Young, my fifth grade teacher, reading a large portion of The Bridge of Khazad-dûm – a key chapter in The Fellowship of the Ring, book 1 of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I went home from school that day determined to  learn about the rest of the story, and saved every penny I could until I could purchase a paperback set of the trilogy. I fell in love with the rich fantasy world that Tolkien created – a world of elves and dwarves and orcs and ents and hobbits, a world with both deeply flawed men and women and heroic men and women.  That amazing fantasy world led me next to Narnia, C.S. Lewis’ incredible fantasy world.  Both of these series taught me much about life, about the power of story, and about being a follower of Jesus in dark and difficult times.  I began to realize that story wasn’t just entertainment; it was also a powerful way of communicating truth.

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I remember checking out Bram Stoker’s Dracula from the school library as a high-school student.  I had to sneak that one home, because my parents didn’t want us reading sci-fi or horror or anything like that.  But I read Dracula in two nights, staying up after everyone else had gone to sleep.  And I discovered that I loved to be scared, which eventually led me to Stephen King.

You know that a lot of people would consider you to be a pretty unusual person when two of your favorite books are The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer and It by Stephen King.

But I found in some horror stories a pronounced world view of good versus evil, in which good eventually triumphs over evil.  And again, I recognized that story is a powerful tool for communicating truth.  (By the way, if it bothers you that I’ve admitted to reading horror at times in my life, you might want to check out my friend Mike Duran’s book, Christian Horror: On the Compatibility of a Biblical Worldview and the Horror Genre.  It’s an in-depth theological look at the genre in light of Biblical teaching on the importance of our thought life and Paul’s call to live with a renewed mind.)

Early in my ministry, I finally figured out just how important stories were in the Bible as a whole, and in the teaching ministry of Jesus.  At times, it seemed like Jesus went out of His way to tell a story instead of directly answering a question or addressing an issue.  For example, there’s this classic:  Peter:  “How often should I forgive my neighbor?”  Jesus:  “There was a guy who owed his king a couple of lifetimes’ worth of gold…”  And of course, there’s this one:  Religious leader:  “Who is my neighbor?”  Jesus:  “A man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho and he was robbed…”

About a decade ago, I read John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart and discovered his amazing insight that part of the power of story is that we actually live in a story – the story of our lives.  Not only that, but we live in our Father’s larger Story.  And because God has writing eternity on our hearts, you can actually discover a representation of the gospel in many of the popular movies and stories in our culture, even though unintended by the authors or movie directors.  Gladiator, Braveheart, The Hunger Games, even Harry Potter – you can find a summary or a demonstration of gospel truths in these.  (That’s not the point of this post, but if you’d like to engage with me about that idea, I’d be happy to do so.)

So where am I going with all of this?

As I have begun to seriously pursue writing, I have recognized that I enjoy writing both non-fiction and fiction.  I set a goal this year for myself of completing both a non-fiction and a fiction book each year from now until when I retire.

But as I write non-fiction, I know that I am not a serious theologian like Tim Keller or John Piper.  Nor am I as creative or deep a communicator as Andy Stanley, Mark Batterson, or Bill Johnson.  I’m not a controversial pot-stirrer like Mark Driscoll or Brandon Hatmaker.  I am an encourager; I am a writer who tries to lift people up.  I’m not as funny as John Ortberg or as much of a wordsmith of Max Lucado, but I AM learning my own voice.

And as I learn, I am learning that while I love writing both non-fiction and fiction, fiction is my preferred niche.

And that’s the reason for this post.

I am going to be changing the format of my blog.

It seems like a natural time to do this, after having over a month-long hiatus due to surgery.

Over time, I will be transitioning more and more to fiction, perhaps even creating a separate blog for just that.

But in the meantime, this blog will change to a varied schedule.  My plan is that it will look like this:

    • Mondays:  A devotional or commentary on current events.
    • Wednesdays:  A book review or recommendation, mostly non-fiction spiritual growth books.
    • Fridays:  A short story or part of an ongoing serial story.

I’m letting you know about these changes because some of you will be excited and want more.  And some of you will decided “this isn’t what I signed up for” and will want to unsubscribe.  I will hate to see you go.  But it’s okay.  There’s no point in your reading these posts if you don’t feel they’re going to benefit you.  (However, I would ask you to consider waiting until Friday and reading the first fiction post before unsubscribing.  You might find yourself pleasantly surprised or intrigued by what you read!)

I just wanted to give you a heads-up as to what’s coming so you understand why and can decide for yourself.  I hope you decide to continue on the journey with me.

Thanks for reading!