Friday, April 2, 2010

Changing Places

Well, here we are . . . back on Mose’s front porch.

Pundits of the social-media world clamor for me to tell you about me. I cannot. Would Mose trick you into coming here so he could give you a sales pitch? Not hardly.

The peace that passes all understanding does not come as a byproduct of sitting on this porch, but the words spoken here may help point the way to where that peace resides. Sit back, listen to the birdsongs, use your rocking chair for its designed purpose, let the lake work its magic . . . in so doing, you just might hear a still, small voice saying, “Come closer.”

A chief pilot and an airline captain stood in the crew lounge of a major airline while a hundred of their kind engaged in the various last minute things pilots do before going out to their airplanes. The atmosphere was all white shirts and black slacks. Two dozen pilots sat at tables, updating their various manuals; others worked on flight plans or checked on the weather; still others killed time by chatting on phones, watching TV, or visiting with acquaintances.

The captain turned and studied the scar on his boss’s bald head before saying, “Well, tell me what the doctors are telling you.”

“The tumor is growing again.” The chief pilot spoke without changing expression. “They’re going to have to go back in.”

The captain watched his friend for a moment, then said, “For a man who’s going back in for his second brain surgery, you seem mighty calm.”

Chief pilots know things line pilots don’t know, and this one gave the captain a peek into the private lives of the pilots around them by waving a negligent hand at the room and saying, “It’s not the best news, but I can point at five healthy guys in here I wouldn’t change places with.”

That captain was standing where you and I stand . . . in the midst of people who are going about their day-to-day chores, people whose needs are glossed over by a sense of order—the “let’s-pretend” appearance they present to the world.

There are people among us who are gifted at seeing the needs of the lost men and women around us; others, because they measure by an errant standard, assume that the world around us is as it should be. Which am I? You?

My personal strength—and my insight—may be limited, but my resources are not. The power of The Resurrection resides within my heart, waiting for me to unleash it on behalf of those who stand in a place of waste and desolation, knowing not they need to be rescued. Would that God would sharpen my senses . . . make me more effective.

How about you? Where do you stand? What is the origin and measure of the power that possesses you? And . . .

If you think an insightful man would choose having a brain tumor over changing places with you, you’re invited to write me.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Peace, please . . .

Cat Lake may well be the most peaceful place on Earth.

We can sit in the rockers on Mose’s front porch, enjoying the breeze and listening to the sounds of the lake. Redbirds forage in the yard; the surface of the lake winks at us. It’s the perfect place to visit . . . to pull aside from the tumult . . . but we can’t live here. What we can do, though, is come here on occasion to gird ourselves for our ongoing encounters with the world, the flesh, and the devil.

An interviewer once asked me about my life’s journey — if I had any regrets. My answer came straight from something I learned on Mose’s front porch. “Only when I choose to.”

And there you have it — an issue that has launched a myriad of books by respected philosophers, psychologists, and psychiatrists, succinctly covered in five words. Know why? Because I didn’t look to man for my answer.

Thoreau was right when he said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation . . .” You show me someone with white hair, and I’ll show you a person who has experienced pain because of poor choices — regrettable choices. I know this, in part, because I built too many poor choices into my past.

With that admission on the table, let me hasten to add that my needed focus is to learn from the past, not dwell on it. Choosing to give undue attention to past mistakes — which, as I said earlier, is a deliberate choice — epitomizes the poor use of my life — and paves the path to desperation. My time is best spent adapting myself to the words of one of my Wedgewood Grey characters: “Don’t waste today’s fuel on yesterday’s journey . . .”

And God agrees. In verses 6 through 9 of the fourth chapter of Philippians, He makes it clear that His peace is accessible to us, but only if we discipline ourselves to put aside anxious thoughts. He lists attributes that find their origin in Him when He says “whatever is true . . . honorable . . . right . . . pure . . . lovely . . . of good repute, if there is any excellence, if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” His book is replete with admonitions for us to put our yesterdays in their place and leave tomorrow in His capable hands. It’s rarely easy, but the payoff is better than anything offered outside His word . . . and that’s a promise.

You and I, because we’re His children, stand at the portal to God’s peace . . . it opens before us, beckoning. You and I, by anchoring our thought processes in His truths, can bask in the wealth of a life without self-recrimination. He would have us beat back the allure of the world, overcome our own flesh, and battle the forces of darkness by steeping ourselves in the things of Him.

Our gracious God knows you and I will have moments — or days, if we do not remain vigilant — when we will be assailed by stubborn recollection of actions and words best forgotten. He provided for those times in the words He gave to His servant David — to give to us.

From the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee,

when my heart is overwhelmed:

lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Psalm 61:2 (KJV)

Every now and then, I'll post something about the books. Not today.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

From The Front Porch

The Clear Zone

Mose Washington’s little cabin sits on the banks of the lake—calm and quiet. The house and yard show signs of care, and a pair of cane-bottomed rockers stand guard on the front porch, but no one has lived there for almost half-a-century.

The tranquil surroundings belie the small dwelling’s history. In the fifteen years between 1945 and 1960, a man was shot to death in the front yard, another on the front porch; two were killed in the lake, and two on the opposite bank. In the woods behind the place, five people died at the hands of men. In spite of that . . .

On a years-ago afternoon, when sunlight came in ripples from the surface of the lake, Missy Parker sat in one of the rockers and voiced the thoughts of practically every person who has ever visited the cabin when she said, “I wonder if this is the most peaceful place on earth.”

Remember how ordered the world seemed when viewed from Mose’s front porch? Well, I want to capitalize on that . . . and use this venue to visit with passersby . . . and encourage them to avail themselves of the peace offered by these environs. I'm calling this blog The Clear Zone—the word Clear being acronymical for Cat Lake Echoes and Reflections. And instead of using my words exclusively to attract people to my books, I’ve decided to lean more toward discussing The Truth behind my fiction.

For this installment, I’m offering my own interpretation of one of my favorite scripture passages, Colossians 1:28, 29. See what you think.

The directive is etched

into eternity’s harder-than-diamond surface.

My given calling

is to struggle in such a way

that I eventually exhaust the energy and resources

poured upon me

by a gracious God.

I am beckoned

~ commanded even ~

to step forward

and point beyond the breach~

across that fissure between time and eternity

that was spanned by Wisdom draped in an earthly form.

But for what purpose?

So that I might remind those who hear my voice

of things too easily forgotten.

So that I may seek to draw every person to fidelity to The Truth.

So that those people

~so reminded and so drawn~

may then step confidently to the edge of the precipice

and show following men the path to Truth’s side.

The Power of the Creator of the Universe

resides at the fingertips of my heart

and tingles . . .

waiting for ignition.

You’re always welcome at The Clear Zone . . . as are your friends.

Some of you who visit here will eventually bounce to my website. While there, take a moment to sign up for my eLetter; I’ll be trying to post it often enough to keep everyone abreast of what’s going on behind the scenes.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

In The Middle

How does a guy keep his blog from sounding as if it were written by the “Me Monster?” I haven’t figured that one out yet, but I’m working on it. Until I do . . .

I’ve lived a life most people only dream about. My friends and I spent our early lives in surroundings reminiscent of Tom Sawyer; our playgrounds were lakes and rivers, open fields and deep woods. When I was eight years old, I saw John Wayne in Flying Tigers and knew I wanted to be a pilot. I retired a while back after thirty-five years of flying . . . six years in the Air Force, the rest with a major airline. To those of you who are trying to figure up how old I am, this is a good time to let you in on a secret . . .

am older than dirt.

Before the stars were born

He chose Ruth

to be the great-grandmother of David.

He chose David

to be the first of the kingship line.

He chose Christ

to sit on the final Throne.

and in those great, bright reaches of eternity past

He spoke my name.

and He chose me

to choose



A couple of years before I stepped away from aviation, I started writing a Christian suspense novel; my desire was to come up with something that would crack the enamel on its readers’ teeth. That first novel became the genesis for five more. Three of the books have been published . . . book four is looking for an interested publisher . . . books five and six are stewing in my word processor.

The behind-the-scenes details of my getting published amount to nothing less than a long series of over-lapping miracles, and over the course of time I intend to use this blog to share elements of the journey with you. In this first post, though, let me drop you in near the middle of my story and work in a couple of directions.

In 2006, the publisher with whom I had signed the three-book deal invited me to the International Christian Retail Show. I arrived in Denver in July to find my picture prominently displayed on a banner in the Colorado Convention Center; a similar banner hung outside the Hyatt Hotel across the street. My first book, ABIDING DARKNESS, was due to be released that August and a few hundred copies were available at the ICRS for a scheduled “signing.” I took in my surroundings and prayed—as I had daily for two years—that I would be more interested in my pursuit of the knowledge of God than in how many people might buy my book.

The next day, when I showed up for my scheduled book signing, I met Karen Kingsbury; she was just finishing up her own signing session (and yes, she is exceptionally nice). Besides Karen’s novel, it “happened” that books by Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Bishop T. D. Jakes, Stephen Baldwin, and former Attorney General John Ashcroft were being featured by my publisher. I was moving in stratospheric circles, and I began to think I might need to prepare myself to be the author of a best-seller.

Today, two years later, all three books of The Black or White Chronicles are on the market. Jakes, Joel, Joyce and the other John got play in the national media . . . Nan and I got a few free meals in Denver. The majority of the reviews have been great, but in truth, relatively few people have heard of the books. Sales have been abysmal. Oprah hasn’t called. God is granting me a little extra time to prepare to be a best-selling author. However . . .

I told you all that to tell you this: This past February, during my daily quiet time, when I prayed (for the thousandth time) that I would care more about my pursuit of God than about book sales, I meant it . . . for the first time! Every minute of the five years I invested in writing those three books was time well spent because it brought me to the place where I now care less about books sales and more about Him. I’ve finished book four, and maybe it’ll do well . . . maybe it won’t. I will always need to be diligent in my marketing efforts, but the responsibility for how many of my books sell does not rest with me . . . my job is to live out the theme I emphasized in those first three books . . . know God (Jeremiah 9:23, 24) and make Him known (Matthew 28:19, 20). Incidentally, if you’re a Christian, knowing Him and making Him known is your job, too.

We’re getting ready to make a round trip to the Delta. The Mississippi Delta Community College Library is hosting two events wherein my first three novels will be highlighted. On September 23rd, I’ll be speaking at the Greenville campus; on the 24th, I’ll be in Moorhead (called Moores Point in my books) . . . both start at 10:00am, probably with a reception beforehand. I’ll get to say a few words, maybe read from the manuscript of book four, and have a chance to visit with the guests. During our remaining time “back home,” we’ll drink sweet tea and eat greasy hamburgers, and I’ll try to bring back a picture of Cat Lake.

Choose well,