Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Daddy's Guestbook

An Arkie's Faith column from the November 14, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.

I could hear the distinctive throaty rumble of Harley-Davidson motorcycles as they pulled up the driveway to my shop; an uneven, syncopated rhythm that sounded like potato, potato, potato, potato. The two bikers had been traveling on Highway 71 when they spotted the old cars at my shop and stopped to look at them. They enjoyed looking at the cars and visiting with Daddy and me. They were especially excited to see our right-hand drive 1954 Ford Popular that had been imported from England. As we visited with them, we learned that they were from the United Kingdom; one was from London, and the other from Belfast, Northern Ireland. 

The bikers spent almost an hour admiring our old cars and visiting with us. When they were ready to leave, my Daddy asked them to sign his guestbook. Several years ago, he started asking visitors to our shop to sign his guestbook. Since that time, we have had visitors from all around the world sign the book.

One day a visitor was looking at our cars. As I visited with him, I wondered what type of accent he had. I asked him where he was from, and he replied, “Texas.” I didn’t press the issue, but I knew that he had not been born and raised in Texas. After visiting with him for a few minutes, he became more comfortable with me, and he said, “earlier you asked me where I was from. I told you Texas because I now live in the Dallas Fort Worth area. But I was born and raised in Iran.” He told me that because of the hate and prejudice that he has experienced, he usually doesn’t tell people that he is Iranian. I told him that with his accent, I was sure that he wasn’t a native Texan. He went on to tell me that he was a young man when he and his family were able to escape from Iran during the Iranian Revolution of the late 1970’s.

We have had visitors from all over the world stop by our shop. I remember one man and his story very clearly. As I visited with him, he told me how he came to the United States as a child. His father was a high-ranking officer in the Laotian Army who cooperated with the Americans during the Secret War. From 1964 to 1973, the U.S. engaged in a “secret war” in Laos. During that time U.S. forces dropped more than two million tons of bombs on Laos during 580,000 bombing missions. The bombings were part of the U.S. Secret War in Laos to support the Royal Lao Government against the Pathet Lao and to prevent the movement of traffic along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. When the U.S. was pulling out of Vietnam, his family was able to get out of Laos with the help of clandestine U.S. operatives. No one from his family has ever been able to return to Laos because there is a price on their heads. He was very emotional as he told us his story even though we had just met.

Over the years we have had people from all over America and the world sign Daddy’s guestbook. There was the young man from Switzerland who flew to New York City and purchased a Ford Transit Connect Van and was driving across America even though he didn’t own a car back in Switzerland. And the German man who purchased the old Mena Fire Truck. There was the Australian who was purchasing cars, trucks, and motorcycles to ship back home. People from South Africa, Mexico, Norway, Canada, The Netherlands, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Romania have also signed the guestbook.

My Daddy would love to have you stop by and sign his guestbook, but having your name written in it isn’t very important. There is a book where it is important to have your name listed. Writing about the New Jerusalem, the Apostle John said that “only what is pure will enter the city. No one who causes people to believe lies will enter it. No one who does shameful things will enter it either. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life will enter the city.” Revelation 21:27 (NIRV) and in Revelation 3:5 (NKJV) Jesus tells us; “he who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”

In Bible times, the Israelites kept records of the names of the citizens of their cities. Genealogies were important to determine legal rights and social and religious functions. To have your name deleted from those records was a severe legal punishment. The book of life shows that those who belong to Christ are citizens of heaven. Their names are already written in the heavenly ledger, and they are considered citizens of that kingdom, with all its privileges. God’s forgiving grace makes it possible for the believer to have his name listed in the book, and if they confess and ask for forgiveness, their names will not be blotted out. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (NKJV)

Gentle Reader, if you would like to have your name in my Daddy’s guestbook, then come by and visit him. He would be happy to have you sign his guestbook. But ask yourself the question that is asked by the old hymn; “Is my name written there, on the page white and fair? In the book of Thy kingdom, is my name written there?” In Luke 10:20 (NKJV) Jesus told His disciples: "Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." The most important place to have your name listed is in heaven in the Book of Life.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Thank You, Veterans

Veterans Day is a day to honor the men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces.  In 1954, President Eisenhower published a proclamation in the Federal Register, instructing citizens to recognize Veterans Day on Nov. 11. He wrote: “On that day, let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.” The Department of Veterans Affairs has broadening that tradition of observance and appreciation to include both Veterans and Military Families for the entire month of November.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs Suicide Data Report, the veteran suicide rate averages 22 per day. Many more come home with significant problems as they try to return to non-military society. On this Veterans Day, please don't forget our veterans and the sacrifices they have made.

One of my ancestors who served his country is my great great great great grandfather, James Vowels.

According to a document that I found, James Vowels was a soldier in the Army of the Revolution.  James was born in Virginia in 1738. He enlisted in 1776 under Captain George Slaughter of the 8th Virginia Regiment.  He fought in the Battles of Brandywine on September 11, 1777, Germantown on October 4, 1777, and several others.  He wintered with his regiment at Valley Forge and served out the time of his enlistment faithfully.

When his enlistment was up, he came home to Virginia and married Anne Fields in April 1781.  After the wedding, he again joined the Army and was at the siege of Yorktown.  After the surrender of Cornwallis on October 19, 1781, he returned home to Culpepper County Virginia where he lived until his death on April 17, 1815.

My great great great great grandfather was a part of some of the most important events in American history.  He experienced the hardships of Valley Forge.  He was part of the Army that forced the English General Cornwallis to surrender and end the war.  He helped America gain its independence.  He was a true patriot.  I’m proud to be a descendant of James Vowels.

James Vowels served valiantly and did more than he was asked to do.  After the hardships he had gone through, I find it amazing that he left his new bride and re-enlisted in the army.  He was a man who definitely believed in what he was fighting for.

A local hero that we remember in Mena is Herbert A. Littleton.

Littleton was a United States Marine who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for falling on a grenade during the Korean War.

He was born on July 1, 1930, in Mena, Arkansas. He enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve on July 29, 1948, for a one-year term. After the outbreak of the Korean War, Littleton reenlisted in the Marine Corps. He went to Korea with the 3rd Replacement Draft, fighting in South and Central Korean operations from December 17, 1950, until his death.

Littleton earned the nation's highest award for valor on April 22, 1951, at Chungehon. At the time he was serving as a Radio Operator with the First Marine Division. Littleton was standing watch when a large well-concealed enemy force launched a night attack from nearby positions against his company. PFC Littleton quickly alerted the forward observation team and immediately moved into position to assist in calling down artillery fire on the enemy force. When an enemy hand grenade was thrown into his vantage point shortly after the arrival of the remainder of the team, he threw himself on the grenade, absorbing its full impact with his own body. By his prompt action, he saved the other members of his team from serious injury or death and enabled them to repulse the enemy attack. For his valor in the face of certain death, Herbert A. Littleton was awarded the Medal of Honor.

At the Polk County Courthouse here in Mena, Arkansas there is a Polk County War Memorial that honors the fallen. The names of the Polk County citizens who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country are engraved on it.

Here are the names as they are engraved on the Memorial.

On this Veterans Day I will remember the men and women, such as Herbert A. Littleton and all the rest of those whose names are engraved on the Polk County War Memorial, who died while serving their country and I will also remember my great great great great grandfather, James Vowels, and the multitude of other men and women who have sacrificed so much serving their county.  Thank You to our men and women who served, are serving, and especially those who sacrificed their lives.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Balloons over Branson

My An Arkie's Faith column from the November 7, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.

“Look over there,” my wife exclaimed, “there is a hot air balloon.” We were driving back to the house we had rented in Branson for the weekend. I pulled into a parking lot so that we could get a better view of the balloon and take some photos. As I got out of the car I noticed another balloon, and then two more. As the balloons drifted by, they were close enough to the ground that we could hear when the pilot activated the propane burner.

The balloons seemed to be headed in the same direction that we were going, so we followed them. When we pulled into the driveway of our rental, we saw that a balloon was flying right over us. The balloon was low enough that the people in the basket saw us taking photos and waved to us, yelling “hello.” The balloon was made of brightly colored rectangles with a vertical yellow strip with the bold letters WWJD. After the balloons had passed over us, we got back in the car to see if we could follow them.

We wound around the streets of Branson trying to keep the balloons in sight. Before long, we saw them landing in an open field between the local hospital and the Yakov theater. One of the balloons came in so low that the basket with its occupants brushed the tops of the trees. I imagine that was an interesting ride. We could see the basket being knocked around as it went through the treetops. We watched for a few minutes as the people got out of the baskets, and the balloons slowly collapsed to the ground.

We watched as the WWJD balloon slowly deflated, and its handlers started preparing to put it into the enclosed trailer they were pulling behind a van. I thought about the popular catchphrase, WWJD; "What Would Jesus Do?" WWJD is found on jewelry, emblazoned on bumper stickers and has made its way into popular culture. In any situation in our lives, it is important to ask ourselves, “what would Jesus do?” But I don’t think that most of us ask the question.

As I watched the WWJD balloon land, I noticed that one side said WWJD, but the other side was slightly different. It said, WDJD. That puzzled me for a moment until I realized that it stood for “What Did Jesus Do?” The only way to determine what Jesus would do is by learning what Jesus did. 2 Peter 3:18 (KJV) says, “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Whatever decisions we make in life, whether large or small, can best be made by asking ourselves what Jesus would do. But before we can do that, we must know what Jesus did.

As Christians our example is Jesus.  If we are to follow the example of Jesus, how should we relate to others? In Matthew 9:35,36 (NLT) the Bible tells us that “Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

What did Jesus do? He had compassion on others. If we follow the example of Jesus, we will have compassion. It seems to me that many Christians have lost their compassion. As I look around, I don’t always see Christians dealing with others with compassion. I am more apt to see hate than compassion.

I don’t want to meddle, but maybe I will just a little bit. Just think about a few of the hot button topics of our day and see what your response is toward the following groups. Gays, Muslims, Adulterers, Abortionists, Immigrants, Welfare Recipients, Thieves, Drug Dealers, Socialists, Prostitutes, Atheists, etc. Do you have compassion on them, or is your response something different? Can you hate someone when you are praying for their salvation?  Should we hate someone that Jesus loves and was willing to die for?

Following the example of Jesus and having compassion on others is very liberating. It allows us to leave the judging up to God while we practice the self-sacrificing love He demonstrated on the cross. It allows us to hold ourselves to a high moral standard without feeling that we must hate those who do not see things the way we do.

Daniel Darling states, "we must not allow our protest against values with which we disagree to overshadow our responsibility to show Christ's love for the world. It may very well be the person who offends us the most whom God is in the process of saving. And our gracious response might be the bridge that the Spirit uses to usher him from death to life.”

Jesus cried for a city that rejected him. He asked his Father to forgive those who tortured and killed him. We should love the "sinner" as Christ loved us sinners and, by our conduct and words, show a better way. When we uplift the right and the good, sin will appear in its true colors. However, if we do not model the love of Christ and give no evidence of His power in our lives, no amount of argument will induce the "sinner" to give up his sin. Holding a sign that says “God Hates You” is not an effective way to witness.

Gentle Reader, we as Christians are called to follow the example of Jesus. Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:21 (NIV) “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” Paul told the Corinthians to “follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV) Our goal should be to follow the example of Jesus and treat others with compassion every day.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Your Vote Matters

My An Arkie's Faith column from the October 31, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.

It was shortly after eight in the morning when we pulled up in front of the building. Outside was a sandwich board sign with the words “vote here” written above a rippling American flag. Even though it was early, there were several cars parked out front. My wife and I were headed out of town and decided to vote before we left. When we walked into the room to vote, all of the voting machines were in use, and there were a couple of people in line ahead of us. The people working the polls were friendly and helpful. Before long, both my wife and I were standing in front of our respective voting machines.

After voting for the statewide races, for the U.S. representative, the state senator, local races, and the ballot initiatives, I carefully reviewed the ballot before giving my final approval. I was now one of the more than two million voters who have cast early ballots. Many people are expecting an above-average turnout for this year's mid-term elections. Political pundits on both sides are calling this election crucial, and are trying to convince those who are on their side to get out and vote. The rhetoric has been harsh, caustic and bitter. 

The past weeks and months my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been filled with ugly, hateful, and often downright false political posts. Most of the time they are reposts of someone else's memes or articles. I wonder if anyone's mind has ever been changed by the hateful vitriol that they read on social media. Is this really what Christians want to be known for?

One of the best-known sayings of Christianity is the Golden Rule; “Do to others what you want them to do to you.”Matthew 7:12 (NCV) Most Christians believe this. They would not only agree that it’s correct to treat others right, but also believe in showing respect and kindness. But there’s one area of life where it seems that Christians forget the Golden Rule, and that’s politics. I am amazed by how many Christians become completely uncivil when it comes to discussing politics. In everything else they are polite, but once they start talking about politics or politicians, they become vicious. It seems that they forget that the Bible says in Romans 12:10, “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”

When we as Christians are tempted to fire back when confronted with beliefs that we don’t agree with, we need to listen to the advice given in Romans 12:2 (NKJV). “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

When we feel that our beliefs are under attack, the basic human response is to fire back. We let our natural, carnal, human emotions dictate our behavior. We feel anger and want to lash out. We feel fear and want to defend our beliefs or attack perceived wrongs. But, is that how a Christian should handle conflict? In Proverbs 15:1 (NET) Solomon wrote these words of wisdom, “A gentle response turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.” And James wrote in James 1:19,20 (ISV) “You must understand this, my dear brothers. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. For human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

I am not suggesting that there is never a time when Christians should speak up for their beliefs, but I have noticed that often we as Christians are slow to listen but quick to speak and get angry. My social media feeds are filled with angry Christians. Some answer every difference in opinion by angrily returning fire. Your political opinions do matter. Your vote does matter. But your opinions and votes should not be the most important things in your life. As Christians, our ultimate hope does not rest on political candidates or political power or political initiatives. Speaking of voting in elections, John Piper wrote, “Its outcomes do not give us the greatest joy when they go our way, and they do not demoralize us when they don’t… We deal with the political system. We deal with the news. We deal with the candidates. We deal with the issues. But it is not the great thing in our lives. Christ is. And Christ will be ruling over his people with perfect supremacy no matter who is elected and no matter what government stands or falls.”

I’m thankful to live in a country were your vote matters and my vote matters. I’m thankful that we can be a part of the political process. By all means vote. But remember that the Bible informs us that “the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” 1 John 2:17 (TLV) Don’t let politics consume you and cloud your judgment. Don’t be complicit when slander is explained away as righteous anger, and winning arguments is more important than being truthful.

Gentle Reader, your vote matters. When you vote for someone to represent you, whether in the local, state, or national government, it is important to vote for someone who shares your principles. But your vote this year is not the most important vote you will cast. Every day you have to vote for who you want to represent you that day. Do you want Jesus to represent you, or are you willing for Satan to be your representative? “If you don’t want to serve the Lord, you must choose for yourselves today whom you will serve… As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15 (NCV)  Who will you choose to vote for today? Your vote matters!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Patrolman

My An Arkie's Faith column from the October 24, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.

The Datsun pickup was loaded, and Duane was finally ready to head out into the night. It had been a very long day at work. He had a job that had to be completed before he could leave for a family function in Salt Lake City. He hadn’t made it home until after 2 A.M. In an hour, all of his tools and equipment were unloaded, and he was ready to go. As he headed west out of Denver, there was unrelenting darkness in the mountains. The night was starless, and the moon was covered with clouds that blended in with the rest of the sky.

Duane was tired and worried. The Datsun’s engine was grumbling and straining as it made its way up into the mountains. The little pickup didn’t have enough power, and the engine would sputter and cut out as it climbed in elevation. Because the engine was running so poorly and couldn’t keep the pickup traveling at normal speeds, the trip was taking a long time. “What is wrong with the engine,” thought Duane. “Is it going to quit and leave us beside the road?”

By the time he reached the town of Craig, it was 8 A.M. He pulled into an auto parts store that had just opened. He thought that possibly the carburetor was dirty and causing the engine to run poorly, so he bought a bottle of carburetor cleaner. To make sure that the cleaner went directly to the carburetor, he took the gas line loose and filled the fuel filter with cleaner. He then poured the rest of the carburetor cleaner into the gas tank. As he headed west out of Craig, the Datsun’s engine began to run better, and before long it was purring along on the lonely country highway. Duane was relieved that the little pickup was once again running as it should. It was running so well, that soon they were traveling down the deserted highway at 80 miles per hour.

“Finally, I will be able to make up some time,” thought Duane. He hadn’t seen another vehicle for half an hour when suddenly he noticed a patrol car approaching in his rear-view mirror. He looked down at his speedometer and saw that he was going over 80 miles an hour. “Oh no,” he thought, “I’m going to get a speeding ticket.” He slowed the pickup down and expected the patrolman to stop him, but instead, the patrolman pulled around him and then slowed down. “That’s odd,” thought Duane, but he was thankful that he hadn’t been pulled over.

“Why is the patrolman driving so slow,” thought Duane. “I don’t need anything else slowing me down,” But he wasn’t going to pass him, so he followed behind. In a short while, the patrolman slowly pulled off the road into the shallow ditch. Duane could then see that there was a bridge that had washed out during the night. He saw a work crew putting up barricades on the opposite side of the bridge, but there were no barricades on his side. He followed the patrolman through the ditch and across the dry creek bed. As he made his way back up onto the highway, the patrolman was nowhere to be seen.

As Duane recently told me this story, I could hear the emotion in his voice even though the event happened thirty-five years ago. He is positive that God was watching out for him and sent the patrolman to keep him from hurtling off a washed-out bridge at 80 miles per hour. I believe that God was watching out for Duane, and I believe that he does the same thing for you and me. But most of the time I am unaware of what God is doing for me.

There is a story in the Bible about the prophet Elisha that shows that I am not alone in being unaware of what God is doing for me. You can find the story in 2 Kings Chapter 6. The King of Aram is at war with Israel.  Somehow the King of Israel is aware of every move he makes. The King of Aram thinks he must have a traitor in his ranks passing information to the Israelites. His men tell him that it’s not one of the king’s men, but it is Elisha, the prophet from Israel. They said, “Elisha even knows what you say in the privacy of your bedroom.” The king sent horses, chariots, and many troops to Dothan to capture Elisha. They arrived at night and surrounded the city.

We pick up the story in 2 Kings 6:15-17 (NCV), “Elisha’s servant got up early, and when he went out, he saw an army with horses and chariots all around the city. The servant said to Elisha, “Oh, my master, what can we do?” Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid. The army that fights for us is larger than the one against us.” Then Elisha prayed, “Lord, open my servant’s eyes, and let him see.” The Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw that the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

We are often totally unaware of how God is protecting us. When things aren’t going well for us, we are very aware; but when things are going smoothly, we don’t stop to think about God and how He is blessing us. “God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence.” 2 Samuel 22:3 (NLT)

Gentle Reader, “He has put his angels in charge of you. They will watch over you wherever you go.” Psalms 91:11 (ICB) Whenever my Momma saw evidence of God working in her life or the life of others, she would refer to it as a “God thing.” Be on the lookout for “God things” in your life; It may even be a patrolman.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Big Yellow Peterbilt

My An Arkie's Faith column from the October 17, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.

A light drizzle had begun to fall as the big yellow Peterbilt pulled into the driveway. The right windshield had a big crack and needed to be replaced. Because the exhaust smokestacks on the truck were too tall, I couldn’t get it under the roof of my workplace. “I guess I will just have to work outside in the rain,” I thought. Installing windshields in big trucks has never been my favorite thing to do. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the job.

I pulled the hood assembly forward to tip it open so that I could climb up to the windshield. The drizzle soon made everything wet and slippery. I had to climb very carefully to maintain my footing. Once my foot slipped, but I was able to grab the grab handle and keep from falling. As I was removing the old windshield, the rain became heavier. It was no longer a drizzle. Once the windshield was removed, I quickly picked up the new windshield and began to climb up to position it in the opening. My heart sank as the wet windshield slipped out of my hand as I was trying to climb up into place. I watched in seeming slow motion as the windshield bounced a couple of times like a pinball and then slammed onto the concrete.

My new windshield was now badly broken, and there was no windshield in the Peterbilt. What was I going to do? It would be two days before I could get a replacement windshield. I remembered a friend who often worked on big rigs. I knew that he kept some truck windshields in stock. I called him and asked if he had a windshield for the Peterbilt. He said that he did. I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that I would be able to complete the job for the customer. I headed out to pick up the windshield, and thirty minutes later I was back working on the Peterbilt. I had a difficult time installing the windshield, but with my Daddy’s help, it was finally in place. I was thankful to have the job completed even if I wasn’t making any profit. It is hard to make money when you pay for two windshields on one job.

When you are in business, there will always be days when things go wrong. There will be days that cost you money instead of making money. In the past, I have allowed myself to become very agitated when things like that happened. But I discovered that being upset didn’t change anything except that it made me unhappy. Frequently I let my circumstances determine my attitude. But I now realize that I can determine my attitude towards circumstances instead of allowing circumstances to control my attitude.

We often think that our emotional responses are controlled by our situation. When we experience negative circumstances, we believe that we have no choice except to react to them. We become upset and unhappy. Any other response seems impossible. But we can choose not to get upset by circumstances that normally would have upset us. To succeed, we must remember that we have a choice and then be deliberate about our reaction. 

In an article titled, “Choosing Not to Get Upset,” Christian psychologist Dr. Terry L. Ledford tells about a personal experience that he had while flying. He had boarded the plane and settled into his seat when the pilot made an announcement. He told the passengers that there was a problem with the onboard flight computer, and they would be underway as soon as maintenance fixed the problem, but that it would take some time. He then explained, “unfortunately, because this is an international flight, we can’t allow you to deplane, because of customs laws. Once the cabin door is closed, you are officially no longer in the U.S. We’ll turn on the air conditioning to make you as comfortable as possible.”

Dr. Ledford wrote; “Four hours later, we were still sitting there, and people were not happy. Many were standing in the aisles complaining. I was still sitting in my seat, reading my book. I noticed that three ladies were standing in the aisle beside me, fussing about the situation. One of the women was speaking to me. ‘And you, why are you not upset?’ she challenged. ‘You’re just sitting there reading like this isn’t bothering you!’ ‘I didn’t know that it would help to get upset,’ I responded.”

As I have matured, I have begun to realize that my circumstances are never helped by getting upset. I only make myself unhappy when I get upset, and often spread that unhappiness to the people around me. Being happy is a choice. We choose every day if we are going to let the worries, problems, and circumstances from our day get us down. If we decide that we are going to be happy no matter what the circumstances, we will enjoy life more.

In Philippians 4:11 (NIV) Paul said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” The key thought here is that Paul learned, and it’s possible for us to learn as well. Being content does not mean that you have no hopes or desires; it means being willing to let God teach you no matter what your circumstances are at the moment. Happiness and contentment do not come from things. They don’t come because of wonderful circumstances. They come from a relationship with God.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) gives us more insight into how we can be content and happy. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Gentle Reader, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]” John 14:27 (AMPC) When difficult circumstances come our way we need to say, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." Psalm 23:1 NKJV)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Free Book

I am new to self-publishing. I published my first book in the spring of 2017, and just released my third book. I have learned a lot in the last year and a half; at least I hope that I have learned from my mistakes. One of the first things that I discovered was how hard it is to self-edit. By the time that I have written and re-written a story, I am so familiar with it that it is hard to see typos and poorly written elements. My mind sees the page as it should be instead of how it actually is.

The second thing that I discovered is how uncomfortable I am with self-promotion. There is a line from the movie Field of Dreams that says, "if you build it, he will come." In popular culture, the line is more often misquoted as "if you build it, they will come." I must admit that I had that mindset when I published my book. I now have a book, surely people will come and purchase it.

The reality that every author, musician, artist or other creative person faces is that if you don't promote yourself, nobody will. Self-promotion is a necessity even if it is an uncomfortable one. No one likes a braggart, and self-promotion seems a bit like bragging. Look at me! Look what I have done!

Sometimes friends and acquaintances mistake promotion as being too full of yourself. But there is no other way to let people know that you have something that they might be interested in. I think that the reason that many authors, musicians, etc. are uncomfortable with self-promotion - and aren't very good at it - is a lack of self-confidence. Should anybody care about what I have created? Is it worth anyone's time or money? What will people think about what I am trying to promote? Just about anyone who creates something has doubts about how good it is.

If you are confident that you have a good product, it is a fine line between having confidence in what you are promoting and appearing to be full of yourself. I am trying to walk that fine line as I promote my new book.

I am quite aware that I have a lot of room for improvement as a writer, but in my latest book, I believe that I bring a unique perspective to a very crowded genre. There are lots of people writing about spiritual things. I use personal experiences, local events, and national news as a way to bring out spiritual truths in the short devotionals included in my book. Each story ends with a simple, uncomplicated point and is around 1,000 words in length so that the book can be read a few minutes at a time.

As a part of my promotion for the book, Causing a Splash - Devotionals from a small town book three, I am offering a download of the Kindle version on Amazon for free through midnight, October 20, 2018. You can read it at no cost to you other than time. Don't let my uncomfortable self-promotion have been in vain. Go to Amazon and download your free copy of Causing a Splash. If you would like a paperback copy, it is available through the end of October for just $4.69.

To check out my other books you can go to my Amazon author page.