Sunday, December 31, 2006

Lamentations - Part Three

In my first lamentation, I mentioned the epidemic of divorce, often brought about because of adultery, but there is another kind of adultery that is probably more common and committed more frequently by men, even men in the church.

His target, his secret affair lurks in the shadows, quiet and unseen, without consistent shape or physical substance, yet she is more alluring than the street harlot and just as destructive as the motel tryst. She seeks his company, often posing as a damsel in distress. Her poses beg for his attention; they seek to be rescued from loneliness. Although she wears no clothes, she bears a sword, ready to cut his heart in two, setting body in conflict with spirit. From the slick pages of a magazine or the colorful images of a computer screen, she awaits his peering eyes, ready to strike with her naked dagger. She is the harlot of pornography.

Why do the hearts of so many married men become divided? Although they have wives whom God designed to meet their physical needs, why are they tempted to seek the pleasures of another? For many men, physical adultery is a well-recognized taboo. Physically violating the wedding vows, even in our permissive society, is still considered by most Christians to be a sign of unfaithfulness to God, an act that proves an unsaved spiritual state. A divided heart that leads to spiritual adultery, however, has not gained such public condemnation. Millions of men dive into the cesspool of pornography, purposefully filling their eyes with forbidden fruit. Although they may never touch another woman’s body, their minds entertain the thoughts, their lusts traveling from woman to woman, gaining mental and even physical pleasure from the images these willing females produce.

What is the allure of these undressed and apparently sexually insatiable women? With pursed, come-hither lips, she curls her inviting finger, exposing and caressing her smooth, airbrushed flesh. She is the image of desire, a lonely woman begging for a man’s fulfilling touch, and not just any man. She wants you. She’s begging for you to take her and have your way with her. She’s there for your pleasure. “Come and take me,” she calls. “I need you!

And it’s all a lie.

The woman is a whore. She poses for money, nothing more, nothing less. She doesn’t care about any man who mentally rapes her with his eyes and mind. In fact, if you venture into her lair, she will likely disdain or even hate you, perhaps laughing at your weakness as she overpowers you so easily with a mere flash of flesh. How many men have allowed her to poison their minds, committing spiritual adultery with this harlot of hate who reveals her body while stealing a man’s soul?

For the lips of an adulteress drip honey,
And smoother than oil is her speech;
But in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
Sharp as a two-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death,
Her steps lay hold of Sheol.
She does not ponder the path of life;
Her ways are unstable, she does not know it (Proverbs 5:3-6)

Pornography is a simple formula, although the user allows himself to be unaware of its devices. It invites wandering eyes to drink from its lovely pool, promising a quenched thirst. Alas! The thirst is far from quenched! The harlot’s drink is a pill of salt; it makes a man beg for deeper draughts, more skin, younger girls, views of lesbian encounters, until images alone are unable to satisfy. Each sip whets the addiction as a man is entrapped by the harlot’s poison, and his mind is imprisoned in pornography’s deadly snare. Solomon wrote, “For on account of a harlot one is reduced to a loaf of bread, and an adulteress hunts for the precious life” (Proverbs 6:26).

Jesus said, “Everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Can a man claim that he looks at images of nude women without lusting, that his reasons for seeking the harlot’s exposed skin are holy? Hardly! This lust is adultery, pure and simple, and a man who pursues this course has broken his vows. And with whom has he mated? He has pursued a mere phantom. He has thrown away his virtue for colored dots on a printed page. He has cast away his wife in pursuit of pixels on a computer screen.

The Internet has certainly helped pornography purveyors capture a whole host of men. An innocent engine search may yield a dozen lurid descriptions, inviting a simple click to reach images of women who beg for your attention. No magazines to hide. No trips to the video store. No evidence of evil. One mouse click and a dozen smiling beauties await your caressing eyes. Simple curiosity leads many into the snare, trapping the minds of those who don’t dash for the exit in disgust. First a sip, then a draught, and the harlot has captured another lover.

But where is thy wife, O man? For whom hast thou cast her aside?Drink water from your own cistern,
And fresh water from your own well.
Should your springs be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
Let them be yours alone,
And not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice in the wife of your youth.
As a loving hind and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
Be exhilarated always with her love.
For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress,
And embrace the bosom of a foreigner? (Proverbs 5:15-20).

Why do so many men seek strange flesh? The mystery of the unknown? The excitement of the forbidden? The desire to conquer? Any of these excuses is surely inadequate. There is simply no good reason, as Proverbs 6:32-33 reveals:

The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense;
He who would destroy himself does it.
Wounds and disgrace he will find,
And his reproach will not be blotted out.

Let’s get real, guys. What’s this pornography stuff all about, anyway? Freak shows aside, more than 99 percent of the women in these pictures look pretty much alike, with body parts in the same places. Breasts are in front, buttocks are in back, there are two arms and two legs, and an epidermis holding it all together. There aren’t many surprise arrangements. There goes the mystery excuse. And we won’t conquer these women; they’re untouchable. In fact, if we lust after them, they’ve conquered us. We’ve fallen into their trap.

That leaves us with the excitement-of-the-forbidden excuse, the hormonal rush that accompanies the peek through the keyhole, the stolen view of what lies beneath the clothing, the places no one is allowed to see. “Come take a look, Mister, and I’ll show you something you’ll like … just for you.”

Get over it. These women aren’t giving you a private peak; they’re strutting their stuff for anyone with eyes. Forbidden? Yes. For your eyes only? Forget about it. These harlots put their bodies on show, inviting deeper draughts for paying customers. All they really want is your money. You can waste your endorphins on a lie, see hate masquerading as love, and the hormonal rush prompts the desire for more as each drink creates new thirst.

If you’re addicted to pornography, you need to meditate on reality—the truth of the hateful harlot. She’s a stalker, a seductress, a destroyer. She will poison your soul. She has nothing to offer that you haven’t seen before; even her body is just a fleeting image. She’s certainly not a damsel in distress, and it’s not your duty to rescue her, even in your mind.

Tell me, would you look at pornographic images with your wife? Would you sit down and say, “Honey, come take a look at this gal! Isn’t she hot?” May it never be! Such an act would be shameful. Yet this is a good test and a faithful standard to use in avoiding what is shameful. If you’re ever contemplating an act, ask yourself if you would do it in your wife’s presence. If the answer is no, don’t do it.

Say this along with me: “I will never do anything in private for which I would be ashamed in public.” Repeat this promise, and embed it in your mind.

Remember, too, that you’re never really in private. God always looks over your shoulder. Would you say to Him, “Get a load of this one, Lord! She’s a looker!” God forbid! Yet millions of men act as though God can’t see them. But He not only sees everything in your view, He reads everything in your mind. He is watching. Do we believe it? Do we care? Will we invite Him to inspect everything we view? Would we mind showing to Jesus Christ everything we bring up on our computer screens, every image our eyes rest upon in magazines, every television channel that makes us pause as we look for a decent program?

Isn’t this the test of faith? Isn’t how we act in private a true reflection of what we believe about God, that He is really who He says He is, the ever-present, omniscient Lord?

For those of you who feel trapped by this insidious evil, there is a cure. As we set our minds on the things above, where Christ is, memories of evil begin to vanish. As Paul taught:
If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:1-3).
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you (Philippians 4:8-9).
Even if you have imbibed the poison of pornography for years, God can give you peace. Give your life to Christ, and He will shatter the unfruitful images as your mind learns to dwell on what is pure and honorable. Leave your adulterous ways behind, and God will help you walk in holiness, giving you the ability never to stray again in your mind.
Your wife is your one and only damsel. Never seek another. Let her breasts satisfy you at all times, and be exhilarated always with her love.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Lamentations - Part Two

During the past several months, going to church has been more of a burden than a joy. I used to prepare for worship with my fellow believers in great anticipation of glorious fellowship and corporate praise of our heavenly father. Yet, lately, I believe that God has not been glorified by our gatherings. In fact, He is likely disgusted.

The issue that comes up in my mind week after week is the manner of dress of the young ladies. Their immodesty cannot possibly please the One who created their bodies to be covered and protected, guarded carefully for the man who will someday be their husband. These are not harlots off the street who come to Jesus begging for salvation; these are daughters of the pillars of the church who have heard and given lip service to the gospel.

Modesty standards have been delivered to them by the youth pastor, yet they ignore them, choosing instead the fashions of the flesh, wanting to portray the harlot with plunging necklines revealing whatever cleavage they have, skirts and tops so tight every curve is accentuated in their come hither struts down the aisle, bare midriffs with low-slung, tight jeans that reveal every legal inch of skin below the navel, even mini-skirts and short shorts with something printed on the posterior that begs for every male in the congregation to read and admire.

Why is this immodesty tolerated? It’s the age-old reason, expressed in a variety of ways. The church has a low standard of holiness. They accept sin in many forms, not wanting to exercise discipline, because such a practice will likely reduce their numbers. Since their measure of success is usually in units of bodies and dollars, or they fear retribution in the courts, they are unwilling to risk obeying God because of their fear of man.

Maybe they want to appear “with it,” in tune with this generation of youth, fearful of losing both the kids and their parents should they dare to revert to an “old-fashioned” morality. “Hey, everyone’s dressing this way. I don’t want to look like a geek.” Popularity trumps prudence, and fashion overwhelms feminine virtue. Girls sell glances at their skin for a smile from a passing guy and acceptance from their peers.

But what does marketing their flesh really buy? A sickened soul. A lost innocence. A corrupt conscience. At first, the exposure was a daring gambit, and though their consciences were pricked, the excitement of allure or the pressure of peers took over. Soon, however, their hearts become callous, and now they no longer feel an inner prodding that begs them to cover and protect what is holy—their virtue.

As the Lord said, “Were they ashamed because of the abomination they had done? They certainly were not ashamed, and they did not know how to blush; therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time of their punishment they shall be brought down.” (Jeremiah 8:12)

Yet, these ladies come to the front of church and offer prayers for their non-Christian friends at school, acting like there is nothing wrong with their own northern and southern exposures. And why shouldn’t they be comfortable in their nakedness? They are told that all is acceptable. No matter what they do, their sins will be forgiven. So why not enjoy acceptance in the world? You get to go to heaven anyway, right?

But what does God really say, “But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my name, and say, ‘We are safe’—safe to do all these detestable things?” (Jeremiah 7:8-10)

Alas! They have chosen the idol of fashion and sexual desire. They have followed the Baal of peer acceptance. They have burned incense to the god of fleshly pleasures.

So, while I hope for a change, I weep in my pew.

O daughter of my people, put on sackcloth and roll in ashes; Mourn as for an only son, a lamentation most bitter. For suddenly the destroyer will come upon us. (Jeremiah 6:26)

Behold, listen! The cry of the daughter of my people from a distant land: “Is the Lord not in Zion? Is her King not within her? Why have they provoked Me with their graven images, with foreign idols? Harvest is past, summer is ended, and we are not saved.”

For the brokenness of the daughter of my people I am broken; I mourn, dismay has taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored? (Jeremiah 8:19-22)

May God bring a fresh wind to our church and true exposure to the daughters of our flock, a rushing, fiery storm that will expose their dark hearts and provoke repentance that will usher in true salvation.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Lamentations - Part One

In the coming days, I expect to post some of my laments. Sometimes I get so sad about the state of the world, especially the state of the church, I just cry out to God over the wickedness, apathy, and hypocrisy I see every day. I think God doesn't mind when I vent, because I believe he also laments over what He sees here.

Lately, I have witnessed several newly broken homes resulting from men who have forsaken their vows and committed adultery. At one time, the church wouldn't tolerate such behavior, but in one of these instances, the man is still teaching Sunday School at his church, though he is open about his adultery, taking his new object of lust to public events, even if his wife is at the same event. The church seems to say, "this man is a sinner, just like the rest of us, so why should he be singled out?" As usual, the church's refusal to honor the true doctrine of holiness is leading the Christian culture to hell.

This deadly, cancerous disease of depraved, selfish minds called divorce is a blight on the church, a sickening stain that spreads its corrupting, lethal venom with every passing year. This corruption is graffiti on our walls that says, “Ha! You’re no different, you bunch of hypocrites!” We preach “good news,” yet we live in laughable turmoil, ravaged by the very illness we claim to cure.

Have couples completely forgotten these holy vows: “For better or for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, ’til death do us part”? With words like these binding two into one inseparable union, a reasonable person would think the divorce rate might be one in a thousand, perhaps one in ten thousand, and with drastically lower percentages in the church.

Rather, the truth about the divorce rate is beyond tragic. With the national rate hovering at around 43 percent of unions, and around 50 percent for couples under the age of 45, the prospect of marriage looks more like a coin flip than a promised life of fidelity. And an even more alarming conclusion comes from the Barna Research Group: “Christians are more likely to experience divorce than are non-Christians.” Divorce rates are actually higher among professing Christians than among atheists!

Such a finding is a tragic slap in the face of Christ, who said,

Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh”? Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).

God hates divorce. (See Malachi 2:16.) Trying to deny this fact is like closing our eyes in a hurricane while denying the reality of wind and rain furiously slapping our faces. Yet people make excuses in droves, thinking that their vows are mere ceremony, empty words designed to decorate a beautiful show. It’s as though they crossed their fingers while promising marital faithfulness. They believe that somehow God will excuse their mistaken belief that this person was really “The One” whenever they decide the sparkle is gone.

In reality, God has left us with no option; we are to fulfill our vows.

When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the Lord your God will surely require it of you. However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you. You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God, what you have promised (Deuteronomy 23:21-23).

Why do “Christians” divorce at a higher rate than non-Christians? There are two major reasons. The first is simple. Too many people view God as a doting grandfather who just wants to make them happy. I have heard people say, “God wouldn’t want me to stay in an unhappy marriage. That’s why I knew He wanted me to get a divorce.” Seeking only their pleasure, these people assume that God always blesses their pursuit of happiness. They have molded God into their image, fashioning a bobble-head idol who simply nods “yes” to every whim of its human creator.

They are merely playing Christianity, not really walking the bloodstained steps to Calvary. They are like straw houses built on sand. While they close their eyes to the truth, the hurricane strikes, and they are left desolate. Their houses crumble, all because they have denied the reality of the wind and rain, the reality that God really does require their sacrificial allegiance and doesn’t condone fleshly indulgence for the sake of “happiness.”

What is happiness, anyway? Where does it originate? Was Paul happy when authorities unjustly sent him to prison? As a matter of fact, he was! Singing hymns of praise to God, he celebrated God’s goodness even during terrible circumstances. (See Acts 16:25.) Did the apostles find joy in being flogged? Surprise! They actually enjoyed it! Although the beating itself likely drew moans of agony and painted dark bruises on their aching bodies, they still rejoiced in their suffering. (See Acts 5:41.)

For a Christian, true happiness comes in pleasing God, especially during great trials. This is the happiness our Lord calls us to seek. God isn’t interested in fulfilling our fleshly desires, allowing us to please ourselves in violation of His principles. If Paul had bought into the rationalizations of many today, he might have stayed at home and skipped his missionary journeys. “Traveling is just too hard!” he might have said. “They threw big rocks at me last time. And I can’t risk going to places where they’ll throw me in jail. I wouldn’t be happy there, so God can’t be calling me to do that.”

If Jesus had lived a “please-the-flesh” mentality, He wouldn’t have gone to the cross. He might have said, “Father, you wouldn’t ask Me to bleed and die for a bunch of sinners, would You? That wouldn’t make Me happy.” And He would have skulked out of the garden and avoided the approaching soldiers.

The true story should blare in our minds like a trumpet call to sacrifice. Although Jesus had a bodily desire for the cup of death to pass from His lips, what did He say to His heavenly Father? “Yet not My will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42). Going to the cross brought Him true joy, as the Scripture reveals, “Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus said to His Father, “I have come … to do Thy will” (Hebrews 10:7), and this shout of complete obedience echoes in the soul of every true Christian around the world.

What made Jesus “happy”? Pleasing God. What makes Christians happy? The same self-sacrificial search for holiness, the seeking of God’s kingdom and His righteousness. Whoever seeks fleshly desires over God’s purposes is not a real Christian. “For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:13-14).

Yes, God wants us to be happy, but of far more importance, God wants us to be holy. On this truth, we can all firmly stand, because as we live holy lives we find true happiness in obedience. This is our joy, to find favor in the eyes of God.

Another reason the divorce rate is so high among “Christians” is that so many of them have bought into the popular “blind-God” concept. They’ve been taught that sin is normal and that when God looks at them He sees only Jesus. Naturally they conclude, “God won’t bring judgment for the sin of divorce. He doesn’t even see it. He sees only His dear, sweet Son hanging on a cross.” It’s as though Christians have a cardboard cutout of Christ shielding them from view.

This heresy threatens to tear down the walls of the church. We might as well close the doors and send everyone home. Not only are we not separating ourselves from participation in the world’s system, these lies concerning our commitment to marriage covenants have made us worse than the world. Our hypocrisy makes us look like clown-faced charlatans, and people just laugh and shake their heads, thinking, What a bunch of buffoons! This Christianity sideshow just doesn’t work.

There are many forces that try to tear married couples apart: family and financial pressures, spiritual persecution, and mental illness, just to name a few. Every one, however, is anticipated in this wedding vow: “for better or for worse.” God still commands us to keep our unions whole. Only adultery remains as the true break in the marriage covenant, and even then we’re not commanded to divorce. God still hates divorce, although He allows it when sexual unfaithfulness destroys the bond. Even when it is allowed, however, divorce still stains the beautiful image of Christ and the church. Divorce, even because of adultery, stands as a symbol of failure, a precious pearl intentionally thrown into a sewer for the sake of a few minutes of pleasure by the adulterer or adulteress.

Adultery proves unfaithfulness to God. The Bible says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

Don't be deceived. You cannot be a Christian and an adulterer. Since the church, for the most part, has bought into the lie that true believers are still sinners, every imaginable sin has become both commonplace and acceptable. Unrepentant adulterers are teaching Sunday School and pastoring large flocks, parading their hypocrisy on national television.

With this kind of example, the blind leading the blind into hell, it's no wonder God and His true followers lament. The time for judgment is coming quickly, and it will begin in the church.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Pain and Promise

This is the first year in quite a while that I didn't write a poem for Christmas. I'm not sure why I skipped this year, but there are several possible reasons that I'll be thinking about.

I'm going to post a Christmas poem from the past that is something of a lament. It seems that God is leading me to engage in such lamentations, and I might post some of them here.

From Ezekiel 22:23-31

Son of man, O son of mine,
Your land has need of cleansing rain.
Conspiring prophets weave their lies
To make the holy foul, profane.

A prince, a wolf that tears its prey,
To seize a dime, they slay the least.
To leave a widow castaway
Is not a sin, so says the priest.

Son of man, O son of mine,
The prophets smear excuses broad,
A whitewash coat, a false divine;
They say their words have come from God.

And all the people indulging greed
Have followed princes, prophets, priests
Oppressed and robbed the poor in need,
Perverting justice in your streets.

Art thou a son or just a hire?
Go stand before your land of sin
To stay my angels’ swords of fire
And fill the gap from deep within.

Your eyes O God have seared me through;
Before your mercy throne I fall.
How can I bridge a path to you?
The gap is wide and I am small.

Then words I heard by spirit’s ear
From whispering wind encircling me
“A maid hath borne the end of fear;
The bridge was built from bloodstained tree.”

Son of man, O son of mine,
Go bear his cross to those in need,
And speak his words across the line,
That I may spare the ones who heed.

I took his cross upon my back,
His crown of thorns upon my brow,
I wore the maid’s poor cloths of sack,
His words alone my oath, my vow.

I hear, obey, and stand with thee
The gap so wide, so deep and dim.
A maid, a tree, a bridge, and me,
God’s tools to build a path to him.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Dragon Christmas

One of my readers sent this drawing to me, so I decided to share it.

The kids on my message forum frequently call me Clefty, a shortened form of Clefspeare, which is my forum name and the name of the main dragon in my series. So the artist entitled it, "Clefty's Christmas." I assume that's Excalibur in the upper left corner. In case you can't read it, the stocking says, "Bryan" on the front.

I'm not sure I'd want a dragon in my stocking, but it would be handy for keeping the log in the fireplace ablaze.

I get all sorts of drawings from my readers. Click here to see more of them.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Goals Update

Enoch's Ghost is now at about 23,000 words. My goal was to get to 40,000 words this month, so, based on the number of days in the month, it might look like I'm behind. Not really. I had a couple of local appearances to do early in the month and had to make a trip to Tennessee, which made it impossible to write during those days

Also, the beginning of a book is the hardest part to write, so now that I have the story well underway, and I have no more trips or appearances in December, I hope to make that 40,000 word goal.

In the physical fitness category, I am back up to four-mile runs, so I feel good about that. I hope to stretch those to five miles in the next couple of weeks. In weight lifting, I'm doing multiple reps with with 210 pounds (free weights) and expect to move up to 220 within a week or so. I will test this weekend to see what my maximum is.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What God Has Joined Together

Today is the 26th anniversary of the day my wife, Susie, and I got married. I'm writing today to celebrate her. I want to tell the world that she is a wonderful, godly woman. Her love and beauty are incomparable. Her love for God and faith in Him is an inspiration. She is the perfect helpmate to me, and I can't imagine going through life without her.

Without a doubt, I couldn't survive as an author without her constant encouragement. She is my biggest fan and most ardent cheerleader. When I need wisdom or counsel, I look to her first, and she gives freely and humbly.

She teaches our seven children and makes our home warm and welcoming, dressing us all in garlands of love that never wear out.

Many daughters have done nobly, Susie, but you excel them all.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Signs Update

I hope you're not getting tired of reading about these strange events, but they seem to keep coming. Just a few minutes after the latest "dime and two pennies" incident, though I didn't find out about it until this evening, another one occurred. My youngest daughter searched for her old purse, wondering if she had left her long-lost watch in it. She had not seen this purse in over a year.

When she found the purse, it had exactly three coins in it, no more, no less. Yes, one dime and two pennies. Strangely enough, the dime was silver (pre-1965) and the pennies were the wheat mark variety (pre-1958).

While I was jogging today (my most effective story idea generation activity), I figured out what the coins are all about. I was so excited, I hurried home and wrote it all down. I told my wife, and she agreed that there is no doubt about it, and the answer is really cool, a perfect idea for my story.

No, I'm not going to tell yet, but it will be in Enoch's Ghost.

Friendly Reminders

Some reminders are annoying, the nagging kind that you wish would just go away--my calendar prodding me that I have to get my tax information together, yet another political ad reminding me that an election looms, and my backache telling me that I'm chasing 50 years old.

Others are friendly--every sunrise that reminds me of God's mercies, my wife's smile that says, "I love you" every time we pass, a hug from my son or daughter once again restoring my hope in their futures.

Some reminders are pointed and thought-provoking. This morning is an interesting example. Some of you might remember This post where I told the story about finding a dime and two pennies in multiple places and how it related to my father's apparently prophetic statement, "What are you going to do with the twelve?" I thought it might relate to the new book I'm writing, so I hoped that the idea would come while I was writing.

Well, I have been working on that book all month, and the story is pretty average so far, so I have been praying for a spark to make it shine. As you might have guessed by now, I hadn't thinking much about "the twelve."

My wife, Susie, and I got up extra early this morning to take my son to the airport (he's flying to be part of a big orchestra clinic in Chicago), so when we got home it was earlier than the time we usually go on our morning prayer walk. We went anyway and found ourselves alone in the park long before daylight. As we traversed our usually trek and passed under a light, we both spotted a shiny dime. Susie picked it up, and I immediately thought about the "signs" and said, laughing, "I wonder where the two pennies are."

She pointed to a place just a couple of feet away, said, "They're right here," and picked up two pennies. We looked all around. There were no more coins.

If we had gone at our usual time, I doubt that the dime would have been there. It was too shiny and obvious. Very strange.

I take this as a friendly reminder from God, a gentle prod that answers my prayer for a spark to my story. It's coming together in my mind this morning, so, if you are so inclined, please pray for the ideas to bear some exciting fruit.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Eye of the Oracle Review

It is such a delight for me when I see a really positive review pop up on the Internet when I don't expect it. It's especially interesting to see one on from an adult when most of my readers are younger.

I'm pasting this review for Eye of the Oracle because I thought the reviewer captured the essence of what I was doing with this book, and he also seemed to appreciate that this story is deeper than what I have written in the past. I am grateful for his willingness to tell others.

By Kevin Lucia, posted on on 12/12/2006

In 2004, Bryan Davis opened up a brand new world of wonder and adventure with the release of his first novel, Raising Dragons. It spawned the Dragons In Our Midst series, which took a unique spin on Arthurian legend and dragons lore. Weaving Biblical truths with fantasy in an entertaining, natural way not seen since C.S. Lewis's beloved Chronicles of Narnia, Davis created a fantasy world safe for young, Christian minds, but satisfying for all. Rarely preachy, often imaginative, the works functioned as true pieces of fiction, not thinly-coated devotionals for Sunday school class, which so many Christian Young Adult novels often turn out to be.

September 2006 featured the release of Eye of the Oracle, the first novel in Davis' new series, Oracles of Fire, which is a prequel series to Dragons In Our Midst. The book promised to readers the history of dragons; how they fit into the Biblical creation story, their respective roles in Biblical history, the treachery within some dragons' hearts that lead them to betray men, and the salvation plan for dragons after their fall.

Eye of the Oracle delivers this and more. Starting at the very focal point of humanity's history, outside the Garden of Eden, Oracle delivers a resounding, epic tale of dragons and their service to humankind and God. Davis takes some truly creative leaps in his narrative, which spans the course of thousands of years, and he continues to use classic, well-known Arthurian figures: Morgan, the Lady of the Lake, Merlin, Excalibur, even King Arthur himself, giving them a decidedly spiritual, Biblical twist.

However, as with Raising Dragons, Eye of the Oracle leaps "off the map" in ways Christian Fantasy probably wouldn't have been able to do ten to fifteen years ago. The creation of Morgan's underground lair, as she plots her revenge against the world of men and dragons, is an astounding work of fantasy that can be placed alongside some of the best moments in the secular fantasy market. Davis naturally weaves high points of Biblical lore into the framework of the story; dragons defending Noah's Ark from a demonic attack, to the fall of the tower of Babel; classic Biblical characters such as Noah, Shem, Enoch, and many others are featured. Also, we see touches of classical literature: echoes of Dante's Inferno resonates in his depictions of the Abyss, the seven circles of Hades, and the different layers of the underworld Morgan's slaves toil in.

One thing making this an even more enjoyable read than Raising Dragons was the complexity of the narrative, plot, and writing. Raising Dragons is a solid fit for the Young Adult market, good for those in fifth through eight grades. Eye of the Oracle is a deeper, more complex novel, and should have a much wider appeal to all ages. At six-hundred and nine pages, this isn't one of those "kid books" you can knock off in a weekend; it's a hearty, encompassing tale that enhances the Dragons In Our Midst series with history, giving it a mythology much like the Silmarillion does for the Lord of the Rings trilogy - but it's much less ponderous than Tolkien's unfinished historical work of Middle Earth.

Eye of the Oracle is also the "perfect jumping off point" for new readers - it meshes with the existing DOM storylines flawlessly, but familiarity with DOM is not needed to read this novel. Eye of the Oracle expands the DOM storyline to epic proportions, and is a great gift for this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Enoch's Ghost Cover

The cover for Enoch's Ghost, the second book in the Oracles of Fire series, is here. As you can see to the right, it's another colorful, eye-catching illustration that I hope my readers will enjoy.

This is the first cover that doesn't include Bonnie, so it represents a real departure from the earlier storyline, though some of the other characters are still here. My regular readers will likely guess that the boy on the left is Walter, and the girl on the right is Ashley. If you have read Eye of the Oracle, you can probably also guess who the girl in the center is.

If you want to see a higher resolution image you can go to:

Enoch's Ghost is scheduled to come out in the summer of 2007.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Nativity Story

Yesterday, I took my youngest daughter to see The Nativity Story. Beautiful. A delightful portrayal of Joseph and Mary. At times I was moved to tears because of the deep emotions the two main characters evoked.

I particularly loved Joseph. The movie portrayed him as a gentle, merciful, and compassionate husband who only and always wanted to do what was right. His selflessness and gracious attitude never faltered. I love to see stories portray men in such a positive light. It's so rare these days.

I am accustomed to seeing portrayals of Mary as being a holy young lady, chosen by God because of her character, but this story seemed to imply that Joseph was one of the main reasons that God chose Mary. God would use Joseph to teach Jesus mercy, compassion, and zeal for God.

The movie had its flaws. Although I enjoyed the offbeat characters of the three magi, the story had them showing up at the stable, which seems impossible. It also had Joseph and Mary fleeing to Egypt directly from the stable, which didn't allow them to go to the temple where they would bring their sacrifice and meet Simeon and Anna. This, of course, is simply inaccurate. It's a shame that the makers of such a beautiful movie would choose to depart from history that way.

Overall, however, I thought The Nativity Story was terrific. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Dear Friends in the Northern Lands,

It's December 2, 2006, and my air conditioner came on this morning. The agony!

I read about all the snow in the Midwest and the cold rain and snow that are coming to the East, so I thought I'd write this and tell you about our suffering here in Florida. It was 85 degrees yesterday, and it's going to break 80 again today. Do you realize what this is going to do to my electric bill? That air conditioner won't stop running!

Not only that, these strange people are beginning to show up at the stores--shivering souls with pasty white skin buying lots of sunscreen and floppy hats. It's kind of scary, but it seems to happen every year about this time. They finally go away sometime in April when their skin is so red they look like ripe strawberries. It's almost like they come here as unripened fruit, with white skin and green money, then leave with red skin and no money left, ripe and plucked. But that's okay. It helps our economy.

I've stalled enough. I have to get to work. But first I have to get some lemonade or freshly squeezed orange juice and turn on my fan.

Friday, December 01, 2006

"The Fiction in Rather Short Takes" Blog Alliance is featuring my new book, Eye of the Oracle, today. I really appreciate what they're doing as we try to get the word out about the new series, Oracles of Fire.

Below you'll see links to the scheduled participants. I don't know if all of them will post about my book, but I will be visiting each one to find out. Thanks to all of you!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

School Visits

Today I will be visiting the Masters Academy school in Oviedo, FL, my third visit there since my dragons series debuted. I was reminded again of the importance of these visits when I visited a Borders bookstore in Winter Park, the town where I live. Strangely enough, I haven't visited any schools in the immediate Winter Park area, so when I went to the Borders, I wasn't surprised to find only one copy of one of my books. I spoke to the bookstore manager and mentioned that I will be visiting a school in the area soon, and she said she would order "a few" copies.

In contrast, there is a Borders within a half mile of the Masters Academy, and I have visited several schools in the same area. The bookstore manager says he can't keep my books in stock. In one week they sold 61 copies of just one of my books, and that was without a signing. He orders caseloads at a time and asks me to warn him when I'm getting ready to visit another school in the area.

These sales are in addition to what I personally sell while I'm at a school. I tell the students if they don't have money now, just drop in on the Borders. They always carry my books.

This synergy has really worked out well. Because of my efforts, this Borders places my books prominently, thereby increasing sales through customers who might not have seen them otherwise, and Borders gets customers from my referrals who might not otherwise go there.

In short, it's helpful to an author to work together with a friendly bookstore. The teamwork helps us both.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

An Old Poem

While going through my files, I unearthed this poem I wrote years ago. I hope you enjoy it.

There is a path
That goes I know not where.
Though savage beasts may prowl its edge,
I trust the one who laid it there.

What is faith?
A path unknown
Whose builder’s name
Is signed in stone.

There is a road,
A course without a bend,
Though blinded in the storms of night
I run as one who knows its end.

What is faith?
A road so straight
That never turns
From Heaven’s gate.

There is a way,
A light of truth and life,
Though wrapped in humble cloths of flesh
He breaks the chains of sin and strife.

What is faith?
A way to see
Who lights the world
And sets us free.

There is a journey
Of nails and thorns in flesh.
Though blood and tears obscure the way
They purify the martyr’s steps.

What is faith?
The journey home
Is veiled in tears
Yet fully known.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I am going against the tide and setting goals before the beginning of the year. Since I will be writing Enoch's Ghost in earnest for the next few months, it's a good time to set writing goals as well as physical goals.

Writing goal - Write 40,000 words in Enoch's Ghost in December, 40,000 words in January, and 40,000 words in February. That should finish the book. I will keep my running word count on my blog.

Physical fitness goal - I want to bench press 300 pounds by my 50th birthday and run a half marathon on that birthday. I have been working out with my 21-year-old son for the past few months, and my maximum bench weight has increased from around 170 pounds to around 225. The next 75 pounds will be a lot harder, but I hope I can get there in the seventeen months I have alloted. I ran a marathon in 2004, but I have not kept up my running. In fact, during my three-month book tour, I hardly ran at all, so I'm back to running a measly two miles. Still, I think I can get back to 13 miles by the time I'm 50.

I will keep posting about my progress on these goals as well.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Book signings

I have two book signings today. The first is from 11 am to 1 pm at the Calvary Chapel Church bookstore in Melbourne. The second is from 3 pm to 5 pm at the Borders in Oviedo. If you are in the area, then come out and visit.

I booked these signings long before I knew when the annual Florida vs. Florida State football game was being played. They scheduled the kickoff for noon, so I will miss this huge rivalry game.

Go Gators!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Back in the Saddle

After an arduous book tour, I'm finally home. I did about 115 talks during my tour, and the process took a toll on my health--not as bad as last year, but I have a cold, and I feel pretty drained. Thank you to those who prayed for me during these difficult days.

Now I will rest for a couple of days rest before getting down to the business of writing my next book. I would appreciate it if some of you kind souls would continue to pray for me. I need God's protection and guidance as I try to write books that will please Him and extend His love and grace to thousands of readers.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Fewer Posts

For the few who read my blog, I'm sure you've noticed my lack of posts. During my midwest tour, my father, who suffered from a terrible brain disease, passed away. I spoke at his funeral service and read this poem I wrote for him:

When Heroes Die

Bryan Davis

When heroes die on bloody fields
Or ships on foamy seas,
Parades of mourners doff their hats
Saluting golden deeds.

For sacrifice deserves the praise
From those who freely stand
Unshackled by the hero’s touch
To live in freedom’s land.

Yet soldiers marching home alive
So rarely hear our cheers;
Though sacrifice continues on
Throughout their golden years.

As fathers they lay down their lives;
Their daughters they protect.
They build new heroes in their sons
To follow in their steps.

As husbands they reflect the Christ,
Our savior from above.
They honor, cherish, give their lives
A sacrifice of love.

The tales say soldiers never die
From hither to beyond;
They merely fade from flesh to dust
And rise again at dawn.

And I for one declare this truth;
This hero lives still now.
His heart resounds within my breast,
Reminding me of how

He pushed my shaky bike and then
Released me to the wind.
He picked me up and dried my eyes
And swabbed my bloody shin.

But heroes never mourn a fall
And wallow in their tears;
This heart I’ve gained has taught me how
To rise and conquer fears.

So cheer this soldier’s homeward march
Whose fragile shell grew old;
Now broken, gray, and motionless;
Now lifeless, dark, and cold.

But soldier heroes merely fade;
They rise when trumpets call.
A hero’s heart cannot be stilled
It beats within us all.

For sacrifice can never end;
It multiplies and thrives
‘Till trumpets sound that last shrill note
Concluding all our lives.

And then in triumph we’ll ascend
For finishing the course;
We’ll see the Hero Son of God,
The sacrificial source.

So now we bury but a shell,
Our hero’s aged cocoon;
We know from heartbeats in our breasts
We’ll see our hero soon.

Moderated comments

I changed my blog settings so that all comments go through moderation before they appear. Someone took issue with one of my earlier posts and decided to respond with a comment containing profanity. I suppose that's to be expected in this culture, but I want to make sure this blog remains a place for civil discourse, not mindless rants.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Edenstar Blog Tour

I am taking part in a blog tour highlighting the Edenstar Books and Games website where you will find all sorts of products for Christians who enjoy Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Here is what Bill and Cheryl Bader, the founders of this company, wrote about their purpose:

The traditional Christian bookstore shelves science fiction with other fiction. So we sort through prairie romances to find the occasional science fiction or fantasy title.

In the general-market bookstore, Christian science fiction is shelved with other science fiction, if it's carried at all. So here again we sift through inappropriate material to find the books we like to read.

That's why we started Edenstar Books and Games in February 2003. We believe there are many others like us, who would love to read more Christian-themed science fiction and fantasy, if they just knew where to find it.

I applaud this effort. This genre needs more exposure, and Bill and Cheryl are to be congratulated for highlighting a product line that is frequently criticized in Christian circles.

Here is the link to their website:

You will find reviews on products, particularly books. Unfortunately, Cheryl's review of my book, Raising Dragons, took issue with how I developed my characters. She wrote:

Unfortunately the level of characterization doesn’t quite match the epic plot line. As often happens with Christian fiction, the lead character is too good to be true. Model student Billy attempts to restrain the troublemaker intent on setting off the school fire alarm, only to wind up accused himself. Billy and his friends come off as good examples rather than real kids.

I disagree with her strongly. I passionately defend the fact that real kids can be good, holy, and virtuous. Her stand that "real" kids can't be that good is a myth, and her false notion is a plague that contributes to the downfall of our youth culture. I wrote my characters the way I did intentionally, and the amazing feedback I'm getting from hundreds of readers, telling me that these characters have dramatically transformed their lives, is proof that they are hungry to hear the truth that God is powerful enough to make real kids holy.

Even though I passionately disagree with Cheryl's review, I still applaud and support the Baders' efforts. This genre is important, and it takes courage and steadfastness to make such an effort work.

Below are the other bloggers who are taking part in the blog tour. Check them out to learn more about what people are saying about the Edenstar website. Jim Black Jackie Castle Valerie Comer Beth Goddard Leathel Grody Karen Hancock Elliot Hanowski Katie Hart Sherrie Hibbs Sharon Hinck Jason Joyner Tina Kulesa Rachel Marks Shannon McNear Rebecca LuElla Miller Cheryl Russel Mirtika Schultz Stuart Stockton Steve Trower Joleen Howell

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Have you ever wondered if a strange event or "coincidence" was a sign from God? If so, has it been confusing or odd enough to make you clueless as to what it could mean?

I drove to Tallahassee yesterday with my wife and three daughters to visit my parents and watch a football game. Since it was so late, we spent the night. My father (79 years old) has a severe brain disease that has made him lack coherence most of the time. It seems that he is in a quasi-dreamlike state most of the time, making comments that sometimes relate to the enviornment yet frequently blend with illusions or hallucinations. When I said goodbye this morning, he said, "So what are you going to do with the twelve?"

I replied, "The twelve what?"

"The twelve people."

I tried to figure out how the comment related to any surroundings or recent conversations, but I was at a loss, so I said something like, "I'm not sure what you mean, but I'll think about it." That seemed to satisfy him.

When we left, I stopped at the first corner convenience store to fill up with gas. As I finished and opened the driver's door to get back in, I noticed a dime on the ground. When I bent over to pick it up, I saw two pennies next to it, so I gathered all three coins.

"Very strange," I told my wife. "Just yesterday, I found exactly this combination of coins at another convenience store when I filled up with gas to come up here."

"You're kidding!" my wife replied. "I found a dime and two pennies on the ground in the Walmart parking lot the day before that!"

"Three days in a row! The same coin combination!" Then it hit me. My dad asked me what I was going to do with the twelve. "Twelve cents!" I exclaimed. Then I told my wife what my father had said just minutes earlier. "What could all this mean? It's too coincidental to be an accident."

Twelve cents three days in a row. "What are you going to do with the twelve?" my father said.

Strange? No doubt. Is it a sign? I think it is. What does it mean? I have no idea.

Right now I'm leaning toward the idea that I should use it in the next story I'm writing, but I don't know how to do it yet. In any case, I'm keeping my eyes and ears open and my spiritual perception in tune for another possible solution. Twelve is a biblical number, so I'll be meditating on how it applies.

Any of you out there have an idea? Do you have a story about a strange circumstance that you thought was a sign?

I'm all ears!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Tragedy of Ignorance

I read an opinion piece in the Orlando Sentinel today by Yanis Rock Click Here that made me think of the following passage:

But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions. (1 Timothy 1:5-8)

It amazes me that Mr. Rock would write with confidence about what Jesus would do when he himself is apparently ignorant of Jesus' teachings.

Astoundingly, he writes:

Well, Jesus wasn't arrogant or pompous, so he wouldn't deliver his message in such a way to exclude rather than unite. The very idea that Christianity or any other religion, for that matter, has a monopoly on morality or divinity is absolutely preposterous.

Was Jesus arrogant? No. Did He have a message that excluded? Absolutely! And did He claim a monopoly on morality or divinity? Without a doubt!

Jesus preached in public, much like the man Mr. Rock derides, and he demanded repentance of sin (Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:15, and others) and proclaimed that those who would not repent would perish (Luke 13:3 and 5).

Jesus also claimed divinity and that unbelievers would die in their sins (John 8:24). Not only that, Jesus claimed to be the only way to salvation, a clear proposition of an exclusive message (John 14:6).

The one who is preposterous is Mr. Rock. He wrote that piece using Jesus as a model in order to proclaim the opposite of what Jesus actually taught. Mr. Rock, through his utter lack of knowledge, research, and credibility, has held up a flashing neon sign that says, "I'm Ignorant!" and he doesn't even know it!

This is sad. This is tragic. In our culture, the teachings of Jesus have been reduced to a popular consensus of opinion that is the opposite of truth. Most readers, and apparently the editor of a major newspaper, have no problem accepting this ridiculous notion that Jesus taught a sweet, let's-all-have-a-group-hug kind of message that wouldn't offend anyone, when, in fact, Jesus made this amazing declaration:

Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it. (Matthew 10:34-39)

To those who don't believe, this is a divisive and offensive claim. Either love Jesus more than anything and be willing to die for Him, or you will die. The words of Christ cut, and they cut deeply. They expose the soul and demand repentance of sin and adherence to His teachings. There is no other option.

Mr. Rock is just one of many who believe his nonsense. It's up to real Christians to shout the real teachings of Christ from the rooftops and expose ignorance like Mr. Rock's for what it is.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Great Beginnings

As I'm writing the early portions of Enoch's Ghost, the second book in the Oracles of Fire series, I'm once again reminded of how difficult writing the beginning of a book, especially a sequel, can be. I have no idea how long it has been since a reader has finished the previous book, so I have to reintroduce characters, bring in reminders of the old storyline, and create a new stage for an engaging story. This problem isn't exclusive to sequels. In most first books there is an important backstory, so the story acts as a sequel to whatever set up the events of the first chapter.

Here are some of the potential pitfalls:

Contrived dialogue - This happens when the author makes characters say things to each other they normally wouldn't say in order to inform the reader of what's going on. It usually results in experienced readers grimacing at how stilted the characters are.

Backstory information dump - This usually occurs in narrative or interior monologue where the author informs the reader of what has happened in the past. I see it most often with a primary character thinking about what recently happened. This is similar to contrived dialogue. When it's done in narrative, it is usually boring, and it certainly slows down the story.

Sketchy characterization - In order to get the story going and hook the reader, the author jumps right into the action. Sure, it might be exciting, but if the characters aren't developed, the reader won't have an emotional investment in the outcome. The action won't evoke the kind of edge-of-your-seat response the author is looking for. This isn't as difficult to avoid in a sequel, because most readers will be familiar with the characters and only need a brief refresher.

Boring introduction - Sometimes an author will try to avoid the previous problem by introducing the characters slowly in their normal everyday environments. This develops characters well, but it can lose readers because the story just doesn't grab them. If a reader puts the book down, the author has lost. The author won't be there to scream, "at least get to chapter four! That's where it really gets moving!"

Are there other pitfalls? Please share them with me. Then, I'll try to relate some potential solutions.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Hitting the Road Soon

I updated my on-line schedule this morning:

I have about eight more appearances I'm working on to fill in a couple of gaps. If you're near one of locations I'm visiting, please stop by at one of the scheduled appearances and chat. I'd love to meet you. If you want me to speak to a school, church, homeschool group, etc., I still have some time available in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and the Atlanta metro area, especially in the evenings, so please let me know.

These road trips are always exhausting for me, and I sometimes get sick near the end. Please pray for my family and me as we travel.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Dancing Word Chat Tonight

I will be the guest in the chatroom tonight (September 8) at 9 pm eastern time.

Here is the link to the chatroom:

Then click on the little connect icon in the upper lefthand corner, enter a nickname, then click on OK.

Please come and chat with me. I don't want to be there alone!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Desk Jungle

My desk is a jungle. I have heard that I'm not the only one with this problem, but it seems that all sorts of paper products and other items grow in haphazard piles on my desk. Every time I clear it (about twice a year), I vow that it will never happen again, but somehow the clutter reappears.

Actually, I know how it happens. Gremlins come into my office at night, rifle through my files, and scatter whatever they find all over my desk. Really! There can be no other explanation for the randomness of what I find.

I see a bottle of vitamins, a post office receipt, a camera, a remote control for something, a pile of blank CD's, a stack of business cards collected at conferences, scattered scraps of paper with phone numbers on them (I don't know whose numbers they are), bank receipts, an apologetics book, a clipped-out magazine article, two Beanie Baby dragons, an old shopping list, letters I have to answer, letters I have already answered, a coffee cup (though I don't drink coffee), two open water bottles, a plastic spider, a pile of bookmarks, a checkbook, a bookstore gift card, a drawing of a dragon, two classical music CD's, a printout of a fellow writer's manuscript, two family magazines, and the list could go on and on.

It must be gremlins! Who in their right mind would put together a collection like that?

Okay ... maybe I'm not in my right mind. I'll clear it once again, and this time ... this time I'm going to mount a camera to catch those gremlins at work!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Why Fantasy - From Speculative Faith

I posted a new entry on the Speculative Faith blog, and I'm copying it here in my own blog. It's part three in a series called, "Why Fantasy."
Sometimes I feel like the most blessed person on earth. Every single day I get messages, either through e-mail or postal mail, telling me how my books have affected someone's life for the better. When I first began writing Christian-based fantasy, I hoped the stories would help some readers, but I had no idea that the response would be so huge.

I put together a page of some of the responses to give you an idea of their content. Here's the link: Click Here

These are just a few, and although I haven't counted, I think the number of responses I've received is now over two thousand--from simple rebuilding of faith to prevention of suicide. And when I think that each message probably represents many, many more, I am overwhelmed with blessed satisfaction.

Why does Christian fantasy affect readers so profoundly? I don't know for sure, but I have an idea.

I believe fantasy allows us to write about characters we would all like to be. It displays heroes who are powerful, courageous, and holy. The overwhelming favorite character in my series is a teenager named Bonnie Silver. She is faithful, brave, and loyal--my ideal girl. She has fears and doubts, but she conquers them with an amazing faith.

Some have called her "unrealistic," but my readers (and I) beg to differ. They believe they can be like her. One girl embroidered "Bonnie Silver" on her cap. She told me that every time she puts it on, it reminds her to have faith like Bonnie's. Another girl and her friend memorized a prayer Bonnie says, a two-and-a-half page prayer, and they pray it together before school, putting the names of their unsaved friends in the prayer.

The fantasy hero, usually an unlikely hero, is someone we can identify with. Most of us long to do something great, to step beyond the mundane and make a real difference. When we see a fantasy character achieving that kind of great feat, our hearts are right with him. The unbelievable, at least for a moment, becomes believable, and our hearts leap.

I think God programs that desire into us. He wants us to step beyond the normal and walk into the realm of what seems impossible. As we walk in that realm with Him, He shows us how to achieve something great for His kingdom. What seemed fantastic and beyond our reach, comes into view and into our grasp, and we really can complete that fantasy journey.

So, I believe Christian fantasy, unlike any other genre, opens the door of faith to allow us to believe the impossible. It shows us that the spiritual world is real, and we can be those unlikely heroes who complete awesome adventures. We really can be strong, brave, and holy.

As each new message comes into my mailbox, I realize that my own awesome adventure, my dream of how writing can change lives, is coming true, and in a way that is far beyond anything I hoped for.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Tennessee--Home of the Friendly

We've been working on our new home in western Tennessee (moving there in May, 2007), and as we go to various businesses in the area, we can't help but be overwhelmed at the friendliness of the people here. Yesterday, my wife called a business to ask for directions. On the way, we stopped for lunch. When we finally arrived at the business, the lady who had given us directions gushed that she had been so worried about us. She gave my wife a hug and said she was so glad we made it safely.

It seems that everyone waves to each other, and general courtesy is beyond the norm. I think I'm going to like it here.

Thursday, August 31, 2006


I spent most of the day driving yesterday. Staring at the road always gives me time to think, so I came up with some good story ideas for future books. The three best environments for ideas, for me, are: jogging, driving, and taking a shower. Something about these activities stimulates my brain. Maybe it's the solitude or fact that my brain has nothing else to think about. I'm not sure.

Anyone want to chime in? Where do you get your best writing ideas?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


What's with all the snake encounters I keep hearing about? I decided to check out a review of the "Snakes on a Plane" movie, and since it didn't seem fitting for viewing, I'm going to be skipping it. I did, however, have a snake encounter of my own.

My wife, three of my daughters, and I ventured down the Big Shoals trail in northern Florida yesterday. Since it follows the Suwannee River, I thought about the possibility of watching for snakes. I had injured my leg running, so it was hard for me to walk as quickly as they wanted to go, so I allowed my wife and one of my daughters to march ahead. The path seemed clear enough, so I thought it would be safe ... until I heard a rattling noise.

They had stepped right over the top of a rattlesnake! I saw it just in time to leap over it. I spun around and yelled at my other daughters to halt. After grabbing the longest stick within range, I guided the pygmy rattler well off to the side before I let my girls proceed.

Well, it was time for the old man to lead the way, but after a couple of miles, I was going pretty slowly, so my youngest said she was capable of watching for snakes, and she scrambled out in front. Again, it all looked clear, so I allowed it, but again, she walked within six inches of another rattler! I swept it away with my stick and decided it was time to head back, with me in the lead, no matter how long it took.

On the way back, I spotted a king snake--no danger in that, but still interesting to see three snakes on the path in just three miles. No telling how many there must have been out in the forest.

So what's the lesson? I guess it's pretty simple. Men, watch out for snakes. Guard your family. And thank God that He watches over your family if something keeps you from watching over them yourself.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

An advertisement for my daughter

My fifteen-year-old daughter, in an attempt to make some money for investment in her future, has started an embroidery business. Her first products are a T-shirt and a hoodie that carry an embroidered Dragons in our Midst logo.

To see the apparel, here is the link for credit card orders through PayPal:

Here is the link for an order form you can fill out and mail in:

She also hopes to have caps and polo shirts soon.

If you choose to buy anything from her, I thank you in advance for your support.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The God Who is There

I'm doing a Bible study with my three sons and two men from my church, and we're using Francis Schaeffer's The God Who is There as our launch pad for digging into the Scriptures. I read that book quite a few years ago, and it's good to get back into it. I recommend it highly for those who enjoy a look at the degradation of thinking in our culture--how modern man has forsaken rationality and either languished in despair or latched on to an irrational leap of faith in order to keep some semblance of hope.

Studying this book has helped me understand how most conservative evangelicals (by the way, I am a conservative evangelical) have embraced certain illogical doctrines. The acceptance of irrationality is pervasive enough to invade even the most Scripture-minded churches, as the Bible says:

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires." (2 Timothy 4:3)

They seem to be fulfilling Paul's prophecy:

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

The desire to hang on to doctrines that make church-goers comfortable in their sin has led them to maintain a form of godliness, teaching that one ought to be godly, though they have denied that anyone really has the power to be godly. It's a strange, irrational position to hold, yet, it seems, that most evangelicals hold it with tenacity, some even aggressively so.

I still passionately disagree with such illogical, unscriptural doctrines, but at least now I understand a little better how they have inflitrated the church.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

ACFW Book of the Year Finalist

Good news! I learned that two of my books, Circles of Seven and Tears of a Dragon, were selected as finalists in the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year contest in the General Fiction category.

There are six finalists in my category. I'm not sure how many contestants there were. If there were only six, then this is no great feat, but I'm glad to be considered anyway.

The awards will be announced at the ACFW convention in Dallas on September 23.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Between Books

With Eye of the Oracle complete and Enoch's Ghost stewing in my brain, I am now in a "between books" period, so I am able to work on other projects, at least for a little while. One that has been itching to get done is a novel I wrote several years ago called I Know Why the Angels Dance. I love this story, but now that I look back on it, it needs quite a bit of housecleaning ... okay, major renovation.

It's interesting that I still see the writing as clear and emotionally moving. I thought, since I had learned quite a bit more about writing, that I would no longer like it. But it's really not bad at all. I tended, however, to overwrite, adding thoughts and details that kept the story from moving along. These details can still come through, but they need to be blended into the action more, a task that is much more difficult than simply dumping the information on the reader. Many readers will scan over a lengthy detail section and miss the depth, but if its intermixed with story movement, they'll pick it up and appreciate it more.

I hope I have time to get through enough chapters to create a proposal for publishing. This story is so moving, every female adult reader cried profusely--even some males. I hope I don't lose that power in the rewrite.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

No TV?

When we moved from Apopka to Winter Park, Florida, a little over a year ago, we made a lot of changes. Our decision to move was based on a desire to allow our youngest son to play in the Winter Park High School orchestra, and we had to make a lot of sacrifices to do it. One of those sacrifices was to refrain from installing cable TV. Since we also didn't have an antenna, we would be without television.

I don't miss it. I hardly ever missed it at all. There were times when I wanted to watch a sporting event, but those desires weren't as strong as I thought they might be. Sporting events come and go, and the world doesn't change just because I missed viewing them. Now my sports energies are devoted to working out with two of my sons, and we have a great time. Participation with those I love beats vegging out in front of a tube any day.

I do feel out of touch with our culture at times. I have never seen "American Idol" or "Survivor," and since people talk about these shows as if they were somehow important, I am definitely on the outside looking in. But I kind of like it that way. I get an interesting perspective on what people value. It's not always attractive, but it's a good education.

There is some value in viewing programmed entertainment. Some movies portray powerful images that represent serious issues that families can discuss. That's why we rent movies from time to time. But since these are planned, family times together, they become organized activities that promote discussion and togetherness rather than the habitual viewing that tends to waste time.

"No television" is working for us. My children don't seem to mind at all. And the best benefit is that we actually talk to each other in the evenings. That might be my favorite sport of all!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Speculative Faith

I wrote an entry in the speculative faith collaborative blog today: Click Here for my entry.

This site is an exciting addition to the growing Internet presence of people who believe speculative literature is a great way to explore the mysteries of faith and spirituality. For all the entries, Click Here for the website.

If you have any comments about my particular entry, please leave a comment there or here. I would appreciate feedback.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Monday, August 21, 2006

Amazed Again - And Trembling

As letters and e-mails continue to come in, I am amazed at how many young people are finding help and solace in the Dragons in our Midst books. Sometimes I just want to shout with joy! This is exactly what I got into writing for.

Recently, however, the responsibility of the author's chair has caused me to tremble. In the past week I have heard from three young readers whose parents are splitting up and a pre-teen who is suffering from abuse of the most despicable kind.

It was easy to write and hope my words encourage, challenge, and heal, but when reader feedback bleeds with cries for help, I can no longer sit back with my wireless keyboard, stare at my large, flat-panel monitor, and create my fantasy worlds.

The sting of hot, salty tears jerks me out of dragon daydreams and demands that I put on a warrior's armor. Trusting souls plead for rescue, and I cannot sit back and pretend that words alone will mend these dying hearts.

I will stand and draw my sword, though I know not where to charge.

God help me.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Scheduling Headaches

I've decided that the most difficult part of my business is scheduling out-of-town appearances. When I go to a region, I want to get as many appearances as possible, but coordinating them can be a nightmare. So far, for this fall, I am going to these regions:

Dallas, TX (September 21-24)
Owensboro, KY (September 26, 27)
Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo, MI (Last week in September to first week in October)
Austin, TX (October 12-14)
Atlanta, GA (October 16-21)
Miami, FL (October 27-28)
Spokane, WA (November 1-3)
Seattle, WA (November 4-14)
And all over the Orlando, FL area throughout the fall

If you are in one of those locations and are interested in having me come to your school, homeschool group, church, or bookstore, post a message. I charge no fee.

My Atlanta dates are pretty full, but the others are open.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Prequel Jitters

Since my next book, Eye of the Oracle, is a prequel to Dragons in our Midst (DIOM), I had a concern that the story might be too heavily tied to the original series, thus making it difficult for a reader who has never read DIOM. I worked hard to make sure the new story was fresh and had characters that would stand alone without need for knowing the other stories.

So, I decided to find someone who had never read DIOM and ask for a review. Here is what the young lady wrote,

Eye of the Oracle drew me in from the first page to the last, with its vivid settings, its lively characters, and its spellbinding story. Mr. Davis has created a masterpiece, integrating high fantasy adventure with solid spiritual truths. Eye of the Oracle is an excellent book, a must-read for any fantasy lover!

That really helped settle my jitters! I've also received great reviews from the DIOM readers I surveyed, so I'm really looking forward to the release of the book, scheduled for September 25.

May God be gloried for giving me the strength and ideas to write this book. It will be interesting to see how He uses it to build His kingdom.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Rocky Mountain High

Since the Christian Booksellers Convention is in Denver next week, I am now in the mile-high city. I came early with my wife and three of my children so we could see some of the attractions in the area. Yesterday, we rode horses and hiked at Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) and had a great time. I'm a little saddle sore today, but not bad.

I especially enjoyed a 3.6 mile hike from Bear Lake to Emerald Lake and back. The scenery was absolutely beautiful! The hike out to Emerald Lake is all uphill, which was helpful, because my kids were pretty tired when they got there. The hike back down hill was a breeze.

If you're ever in the area, I recommend going to RMNP. It's a pleasant drive from Denver, maybe about an hour and a half or so, depending on where in Denver you are.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Reading Out Loud

I might have mentioned this before, but I think having someone read your work out loud to you greatly helps the editing process. My wife reads my work to me, and it seems to be the only way I ever catch words or phrases that are repeated in proximity or used too often.

Also, it seems easier to challenge the logic of the story's construction. Somehow, when another person verbalizes the story, it comes across fresh and new, giving me, as the writer, a new perspective, and I tend to be more critical when listening. I might say, "That doesn't really work, does it?" and I have a chance to make it better.

For some reason, this process doesn't work if I read it out loud to myself. I don't really hear it. It's almost the same as reading it in my mind. Hearing my wife read adds another benefit. I get to hear her lovely voice.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The New Pharisees

This is a comforting passage.

Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23)

As our nation's culture continues to sprint headlong toward a rabid intolerance of Christianity and anything related to the faith, it's good to know that Jesus prepared us for it.

Unfortunately, many in the church share in the hatred and ostracism as they insult and spurn those who disagree with their particular doctrinal persuasion. It doesn't take much searching through "Christian" blogs to find extreme hatred toward any hint of doctrine that doesn't support Calvinism or an Augustinian form of antinomianism. We definitely have a new breed of Pharisee patroling the church, ready to verbally assassinate anyone they view to be a heretic.

I frequently experience similar disdain from those who oppose my views on holiness, but it's good to know that Jesus knew the opposition was coming. That's a comforting thought, though the leaping for joy is difficult when I realize how much people are missing when they reject the awesome, abundant life that holy living provides.