A Torn Asunder Sampling

Baby No. 12 has been born.

Torn Asunder — an End Times novel portending a future of One World Government, One World Religion, One World Court and other wonderful prophetic Isaiah-and Revelation-isms — has hit the bookshelves of America.

And in this world gone berserk, guess who the heroes are.

No, really. Guess.

Forget it, you’ll never guess. Put aside such a silly endeavor and jump right in.

You see, Torn Asunder’s heroes — Jake MacMillan (gotta have a good Scotsman, right?), Darek (gotta have a hero named after a son, no?) Field and Jillian Down (gotta have a lovely and smart and talented heroine, no question) — are all on the staff of Truth Publishing and Broadcasting. Actually, Jake owns the media empire. And, boy, does he tick off the powers that be.

Politically correct? Nah.

Toeing the line? Fah-get-about-it.

Come along and read Torn Asunder’s prologue. Maybe these few paragraphs will entice you to fill your Social Distancing/Self-Isolating days with an action/thriller that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat and cheering on the “good guys.”

 

PROLOGUE

The first indication the world we know was about to end eluded the world’s most alert seismologists. In the earth’s upper and lower crusts, where massive tectonic plates slide across one another, their jagged edges sometimes catching and grinding, a mild movement caused the earth above to quake.

As people slept in Japan, the massive Ring of Fire plate shifted ever so slightly over its entire breadth from the Pacific Rim to Chile to New Zealand. That shift caused just a burp in the seismograph charts.

The second clue might have forewarned a veteran of seismic monitoring.

As Starbucks-infused Seattleites hurried to work early to beat the morning rush, the small Juan de Fuca tectonic plate off the coast of Washington and Oregon suddenly plunged obliquely beneath the North America plate. A cough erupted on seismometers.

The third signal? As soccer players in Liverpool, England, practiced in the late-afternoon sun, the Eurasian plate nosedived below the eastern edge of the North American plate. At that point even sleepy-eyed scientists jerked awake with a jolt.

In places little known for earthquakes, something ominous, something dreadful was about to tear apart the earth. By now, time had run out for seismologists to warn the masses. Some called home to warn their families. But escape the carnage? That was another matter.

 

 

The Feelings Police and the Bible

God’s Word needs no tenderizing, no flavorizing. Those things spoil the Bible’s power, potency and truth.

When we sprinkle “feelings” and “what-ifs” into the Word, into sermons and interpretations, it gets spoiled, unrecognizable, and, most of all, untrue.

We have reached the time Paul warned of in 2Timothy 4:3-4: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears…”

This is what has happened and is happening and a major reason many churches are failing and falling apart. Witness the United Methodist Church split between “traditionalists” and “progressives.”

The Feelings Police in the pulpits have tenderized the hard parts.

(Oh-oh, 1 Corinthians 6:9 is too tough: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals…”

And so is Mark 7:20-23 where Jesus said, “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”

We have to tenderize those scriptures, for sure, so as no one gets offended by their sin.

And those same Feelings Police have flavorized the easy parts to make them even easier.

Whereas Jesus said, “I am the truth the way and the life. No man comes to the father but through Me” (John 14:6) his Word has been flavorized into “all paths lead to God.”

Yes, and by tenderizing the hard parts and flavorizing the easy parts, the Feelings Police have pounded the True Word into something unrecognizable.

“Progressive” interpretations of scripture don’t pass the Taste Test of Truth. But, boy, they make sinners feel better about themselves. And that is the goal.

Instead of “the Word of Life” (1John 1:1) we have the Word of Slip-Sliding Away, the Word of Defiance, the Word of Death.

1 John 1:6-7 tells us: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the Light [God’s pure, unadulterated Word… my addition] as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

By walking in that Light and reflecting that Light, we are avoiding and discrediting the darkness, the tenderized and flavorized deception of the enemy of our souls.

1John 1:10 says, “If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His Word is not in us.”

All the Jolly-Good-We’re-Good-I’m-OK-You’re-OK preaching out there is making Jesus a liar!

The bottom line is Jesus’ words in Mark 9:42: “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

2020 Vision

You may have seen window glass manufactured like it was back around 100 C.E. when it was a new thing, wavy and imperfect. Or one of the first mirrors (1 A.D.) — you know, those ones that distort, not a lot different than a carnival’s House of Mirrors. Or an early black-and-white television set whose image would sometimes descend into blizzard-level obscurity.

It seems every technology or manmade creation improves over time. Vinyl to CD. Analog to digital. Landline to satellite phone. The Wright brothers’ biplane glider to F-22 Raptor.

Every single manmade invention started with a vision.

Thomas Edison took Allasandro Volta’s work who took from Benjamin Franklin’s discovery…

Alexander Graham Bell expanded on inventiveness of Innocenzo Manzetti, Antonio Meucci, Johann Philipp Reis and who knows who else to create the first telephone.

There’s a saying — mainly to annoy Monday-morning quarterbacks — that “hindsight is 2020” and, of course, you can see the outcome of actions better afterward, you Brady-bashers!

And then there is 2020 eyesight, vision that cannot be improved upon.

But what about 2020 vision when it comes to your life? Do you have a vision? Even thought about one?

Where there is no vision a people perish,” Proverbs 29:18 tells us. “Perish”? Now, that’s scary.

We may be able to look back on 2019 and all the way back to our first memories—all of it with perfect 2020 hindsight.

And we may look forward to the coming year with a vision. But is it “2020 perfect”?

There is one source, and one source only, we can seek for perfect 2020 vision for the year ahead. That is a capital-S Source. I pray we all take time to seek Him to perfect our dreams, our goals, our vision as we head into this new decade.

His vision, after all, is without defect, maybe even 2015 or 2010. And He has a perfect plan for each of us.

A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure.” — Prov. 16:9

Hello, my name is…

So how does an author choose the names of his or her characters?

Truly, the draft of my first of Max-and-Kat’s Thrill of the Hunt novels was finished and Kat’s name was Annie.

“Annie?” my wife the editor-in-the-shadows asked. “Wrong name.”

“Her name’s Annie. I like it,” I responded.

“Wrong,” she said. “It’s gotta be Kat.”

“‘Gotta be’?” I repeated, teeth clenched.

“No question. Annie’s too — too soft.”

“But I really like Annie?”

“Too soft.”

Guess what. It’s Kat with her curly red hair, flashing green eyes, stunning smile, alarming wit, and world-renowned archaeologist’s wisdom, who now inhabits the pages of three novels.

And Max? Phew, that cowboy-turned-special-ops hero, escaped the knife, the red pen of my wife’s imagination.

I think Francis Asbury is simply lucky that “Midnight Rider for the Morning Star” was about him, America’s first circuit-riding preacher who arrived on America’s shores just before the American Revolution broke out, and thus his name was beyond changing. She of the red pen would certainly change Francis to, say, Steve McQueen. (Oops. Sorry. That name’s taken by the coolest guy e-v-e-r, whose given name by the way was Terence Steven McQueen.)

But I digress. The question is, How do writers select the absolutely perfect name for each character in a manuscript? I find myself watching the entirety of the credits of TV shows and movies — right down through the folks holding the mikes and directing the lighting. I grind A-Z through a http://www.duckduckgo.com search for Hebrew girls’ first names; Muslim boys’ names; Irish nicknames; Texas history’s heroes and heroines; anything that might help capture the essence, substance and spirit of any character who plays a pivotal part in the book I’m writing.

Jigger Jacques, a French-Canadian lumberjack and my favorite character in “The Crossing” about the KKK in Maine in the 1920s, was fashioned after Jigger Johnson, who was famous from Maine to Michigan in the world of river-running loggers in the early 1900s.

Omri Zohn — first and last names both deep dives into Jewish history — was my choice for the Israeli-born MIT professor and Nobel laureate in “The Last Aliyah.”

We have a son named Darek — Dax for short and a gifted writer by the way — and so I stole his name for a modern-day investigative journalist in my upcoming end-times thriller, “Torn Asunder.” Dax has not yet complained or sued, so I think that character’s name will stand.

Even minor characters sometimes deserve memorable names, like Ned “Zaps” Zapper, the President’s chief of staff in “The Last Aliyah.”

 

Oh, and “Operation Jeremiah’s Jar,” my novel set in Israel, is a treasure trove, including:

 

  • Jerusalem Mayor Gabriela “Gabby” Burla;

 

  • Kefira “Keffy” Jankel, a hurricane of a second lieutenant in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF); and

 

  • Oxana “Oxy” Meyuseff, another female soldier with Mista’arvim, the IDF’s anti-terrorism unit.

 

So there you go, and there I go. Before “Torn Asunder” goes to press I’ve got to change a couple of first names. It seems I got hung up on the “Js.”

 

Yep. Jessica, Jillian, Jake. Too tough on the reader. What was that cool Australian show I watched a couple days ago? I think I can rewind through the credits…

 

The Epilogue

I love epilogues.

When you have a book well written, a story well ended, it’s like a person’s life. There can be—hopefully will be—an epilogue. And that epilogue can be far cooler than even the most remarkable part of the book, just like heaven is far more thrilling than the most gratifying, exciting time in your life here on earth.

With an epilogue, you give the reader a glimpse into what happened after the end of your story. You can wrap up loose ends, tie a bow on the entire package, and punctuate the reader’s emotions with an exclamation point.

At the end of my novel, The Crossing, about the Ku Klux Klan in a small Maine town, readers would want to know what happened to the missing King Kleagle of The Crossing’s klavern as well as my favorite character, world-renowned woodsman Jigger Jacques. The epilogue answers those questions and more.

In Chasing the Music, about the globe-trotting hunt for the music of the Psalms and introducing black-ops veteran Max Braxton and archaeologist Kat Cardova, jihadist leader Mumim Maloof was unaccounted for … until the spine-tingling epilogue.

The epilogue of The Three Sixes, a tale exposing terrorist cells in America, was told in the sobering headlines of newspapers in an airport bookstore.

The epilogue of Operation Jeremiah’s Jar, Max and Kat’s third adventure, was actually a postlude, finishing the prophet Jeremiah’s story that began with the book’s prelude. Try that one on for size.

The entire contemporary thriller, The Last Aliyah, is actually an epilogue to my 1860s Underground Railroad saga, True North: Tice’s Story.

And my favorite of all may be the epilogue of my upcoming end-times novel, Torn Asunder. Of course the decision is tough. Kind of like when I’d ask a golf course architect what was their favorite personal design and they’d answer without hesitation, “The next one.”

Well, everyone’s favorite epilogue should be the one Jesus performed at the end of His life here on earth.

In John 16:7-8 Jesus says, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away the Helper [Holy Spirit] will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.

“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”

In Jesus’s epilogue, the Holy Spirit empowers all believers to work the miracles of Jesus and, He said, even greater works “because I go to My Father.” (John 14:12)

Now that is an epilogue for the ages. An epilogue in which we can all play a part. Just as others can play a part in our lives’ own epilogues when the time comes.

Yes, I do love epilogues.

But now I’m looking forward to the best epilogue ever — a Super-epilogue: His coming again.

And, dear friend, to learn of that you’ve got some reading to do.

My suggestions: Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 and Revelation 2:17.

Talk about epilogues!

Fate of Some Christians on Cutting Room Floor

My upcoming end-times novel, Torn Asunder, ran so long that I had to delete some scenes that felt like cutting off a finger. Well, one in particular felt like a more major limb. The reason for the pain is the truly demoralizing, depressing feeling I get when hearing of the murder of Christians in various parts of the world. In my manuscript’s case, that is the Sudan.

Just so that I can enlighten my blog audience as well as feel that my words didn’t go to waste, I want to share this scene with you.

Here goes:

Punjab lay on his straw mattress on the dirt floor, listening to the night sounds around the tiny hovel. He could hear his papa sleeping in the next room and was sure his father’s arm was wrapped around his mamma. Even in sleep his papa protected his mamma. Punjab figured his father’s subconscious kept aware of the dangers of being a Christian in Sudan.

Punjab thought of his many relatives who were now dead. His uncle, aunt and five cousins were among the forty-three people who had been burned alive while worshipping in their church when Muslim militia barred the door to escape, then set the building on fire.

Another uncle and aunt and three cousins had simply disappeared one night. Family and friends assumed they had either been killed and buried, or carried off and sold into slavery.

Here in their own village, eight days ago, nearly every home where Christians lived had been torched in one night, and when those sleepy inhabitants who could escape stumbled outdoors, the men over eighteen years old were shot dead where they stood, and the women and children carted away on a big flatbed truck.

Punjab and his family would have been victims themselves that night, but were visiting friends two villages away. Nevertheless, Punjab could picture the scene. He could hear the big truck sputter down the dark road, carting away the women and children to who knew where. The women called for their dead husbands. The children screamed in horror and desperation. Fear sent a shiver down Punjab’s spine and he pulled his one thin blanket up to his chin.

Punjab quietly prayed to God. He had seen far too much horror for a boy twelve years old. Peace was all he craved. Peace and a game of soccer, he said to himself, forcing a smile.

He thought of his two little sisters, Pouya and Mimri, and asked Jesus to grant them a life of peace as well. They were too cute and precious for anything else. They didn’t deserve less. They didn’t warrant being objects of hate. Just peace.

He pictured them flanking him, one on each side, holding his hand and strolling to the swimming hole at the nearby river. He looked at them in his daydream. Pouya, eight and full of spunk, eyes always twinkling, funny thoughts spinning around in her head and spilling out on her tongue. If Punjab had known about comedians, or gymnasts perhaps, he would have guessed that Pouya would grow into one or the other, or both.

Mimri, five, was a little princess, a girl if ever there were one. Though pretty princess clothes were unknown in Sudan, she would look perfectly at home in them. Two sets of very big, very brown eyes looked up at him in his daydream. He smiled and breathed a deep, satisfied breath.

Then, abruptly, the tranquility of Punjab’s reverie exploded with a crash at the front door. The door splintered. Their voices snarling, angry men burst into the home.

Punjab had wondered about this moment, what he would do if it happened. There would be no way of escape because the home had only that one door and its two windows bracketed that door. If men were armed, his family stood no chance. Even his father, who could lift a donkey cart all by himself, was defenseless against weapons.

He quickly asked God to rescue them supernaturally, then spun off his mat and ran to his sisters in the adjoining room. Groggy and confused, they looked at his figure in the dark. He knew they knew it was him, but before he could speak, a crushing blow to the back of his head sent everything spinning into darkness.

Very briefly, he heard his sisters scream. Somewhere in the home, his father shouted. Somewhere his mother…

Sometime later, Punjab awoke. His head felt like a knife pierced his skull. It was still nighttime, but he could see the dawning sun struggled to break the horizon. He half-lay on the ground, his upper body propped up against the wall beside his front door, his wrists tied behind him.

He winced at the pain in the back of his head and his temple, and a mammoth man stepped inside the door. A moment later the giant loomed over him and kicked him in the ribs.

“Get up, Christian swine!” he growled and kicked Punjab again, harder this time. Now the pain in his side overcame that in his head, and Punjab struggled to stand up. His equilibrium fouled up, his hands tied behind him, he barely got to his knees when he fell sideward.

The goliath grumbled something and a second man stepped inside. One on each side of Punjab, they grabbed his arms and yanked him up.

“You filth,” the giant said, then spit on the floor, “you become an example.”

Punjab fumbled the facts over in his mind, but the pain made it impossible to decipher them. Everything was awhirl, his vision spinning. Fragments of the night came to recollection. He was in his home. The door had burst open. Shouts. His sisters. Then—nothing. Until now.

“An example to others… like you… Christians,” spat the second man.

“Deny your faith,” demanded the first.

Punjab said nothing.

“Deny Jesus!” the man shouted.

Punjab could not deny his Lord and Savior.

A slap to his face snapped his head back.

“Deny or die!”

“No!” Punjab sputtered, spitting blood. “Never!”

“Then go to Sheol!” the giant growled, and they dragged him outside, shutting the door behind them.

Punjab felt like a rag doll in their hands. He was too weak and in too much pain to fight back. Thoughts of David and Goliath spun across his mind, but he couldn’t grasp them. He felt like his head was tumbling down a hill, over and over, over and over, and he couldn’t stop the sensation to create a clear thought.

In one sudden jerk, the men lifted him off the ground. As one of them held him aloft, the other lifted his right hand to his side at shoulder height. Punjab looked to his right just in time to see a huge spike hammered through the palm of his hand. He screamed and passed out.

Later—minutes? hours?—he awoke to see the rising sun over the field where his father planted soybeans. He felt strangely suspended, with excruciating pain in his hands and feet. He struggled to breath.

He looked about him. He was crucified to the door of his home. If he could see above his head, he’d know that with the blood that had poured from him, his tormentors had drawn a fish with an “X” crossed through it. A message for any remaining Christians in the village.

Hours later, a brave neighbor put his own life at risk and yanked the offending nails from the door, releasing Punjab from his horror. Punjab drenched his clothing in tears. He had no idea what had happened to his momma, his papa, and his two little sisters, Pouya the comedian and Mimri the princess.

 

Filling in History’s Blanks

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Damariscotta presentation at Skidompha Library on “The Underground Railroad in Maine.” A wonderful crowd!

THE HISTORY of the Underground Railroad here in Maine — its heroes and heroines, its “safe houses” and escape routes — continues to grow in width and breadth as I speak around the state.

The number of selfless, brave Mainers who dared to break the Fugitive Slave Law — and the prison and fines it mandated — is humbling to a self-centered 21st-century mind.

The most recent examples of bravery come from the Mid-Coast where in the spring of 1842 the Rev. Austin Willey of Hallowell was badly beaten and bloodied by an angry mob and unceremoniously thrown out of a hall in Damariscotta for preaching abolition.

Several local sources at my talks in Damariscotta and Orr’s Island came forward to mention three possible “safe houses” in Damariscotta, one in Bristol, one in Damariscotta Mills, one in Newcastle and one on Bailey Island.

Despite risky repercussions from pro-slavery neighbors (yes, half of Mainers reportedly supported the barbaric institution), the area was apparently bubbling over with mostly white people who saw the plight of slaves and determined to help.

(In many cases it’s difficult to be positive that a home was a “safe house” even if it contained a hidden room, or a false basement. Because it was illegal to house a fugitive, people kept those secrets close to the vest. They’d know who was bringing slaves to their homes and to whom they were to transport them… Any more knowledge was dangerous.)

That’s one reason I love the letter that Lenny and Danielle Goodine shared with me. When they bought their home in Palermo in 2017 they discovered the letter in a hidden room behind a closet. Written by Union soldier Charles to his wife in 1863, it said:

Dearest Sarah,

“I have missed you so very much as the fighting has been very heavy for the past few days. God, however, has been my stay. Without His help, and the thought of you, my love, I would have given up long ago. Many men in my camp have nearly given up hope of ever seeing their family again.

“There are times, my love, that verse comes to mind: “Behold, I have graven thee on the palms of My hands: Thy walls are continually before me.”

“God has done many things for me these past months. Things I could not even imagine.

“The farm is being well taken care of by your guests, I trust. Just make sure that they are not seen. Pretty soon you should send them on their way to Canada. Congress has enacted a new law, billed as the Fugitive Slave Law. Slave owners from the southern states can come to the north and recapture their slaves. Those harboring these fugitives can be arrested for doing so.

“Be careful. Please write to me. Your loving Charles

That was new information, found in 2017. So if you happen upon history please do share the discovery, whether it concerns the Underground Railroad, or any other part of lost history. Those heroes and places of significance deserve to be recognized and honored. And today’s generations should be informed about both the heroics and the evil perpetrated in the past.

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Damariscotta’s overflow crowd had an “artistic view” of the Powerpoint presentation.

Orrs & Bailey Island Yacht Club 2.jpgMy wife, Loy, and I loved Orr’s and Bailey Island Yacht Club’s airy room. The club’s hospitality was pretty top-of-the-line as well. Thank you, all, and for one member’s tip that “solid information” confirms the chapel at the Maine State Police Academy in Vassalboro (formerly the chapel at Coburn Academy) was a “safe house.”