Waking Lazarus con't

T. L. Hines

Yesterday's interview continued...

How have the things you’ve learned impacted your life today?

I’m still learning, I have to admit; my skull’s kind of thick. I find myself getting amped up about the book--wanting to do anything and everything I can to help make sure it’s a success--and then my wife reminds me: “You’re not in control of all that. God is.” She’s a smart one, that wife of mine. So the short answer is, I still struggle with wanting to control everything myself. But God, and my wife, keep reminding me that’s just not the case. And when I sit down to think about it, and really accept it, that’s very freeing. It can be terrifying, wanting to have total control yourself, and realizing there’s no possible way you can do it all.

What was the best advice ever given to you... The Worst?

Best advice: just write, and let the rest of the stuff fall into place. That always has been, and always will be, true.

The worst advice, to tell the truth, is just about anything that tells me “how” to write. How I write will naturally be different from how you write, and how everyone else writes. Part of our responsibility, as writers, is to discover what works best for us. Sure, it’s great to read books on craft and such; the danger comes, though, when those books begin to get quoted as authoritative sources on “the way” to write. There is no one way.

Is there a life lesson you would like people who read your book to know before they read your book?

After? Oooh, before and after life lessons. I have my thoughts on what the book really means, but I hate to say, “this is what I was trying to tell you.” I think a book can mean something slightly different to each and every person, so I’ll leave the “after” part alone. Before anyone reads the book, though, I’d offer the simple thought that a ray of light shines brightest in the darkest spots. That, to me, is the power and wonder of redemption.

Tony, thank you so much for the sheer pleasure of reading your book and thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!

And thank YOU, Gina, for such thoughtful comments about the book--and questions that are just as thoughtful.

Look for Waking Lazarus in your favorite Christian bookstore or go to Amazon.com and order it today. You will be delighted!

Tony is offering you a chance to be a part of his next book. Be a Volunteer Book Publicist, win a share of royalties or a role in my next novel: www.tlhines.com/otherside.html

Waking Lazarus

A truly amazing and unique story, filled with twists and switchbacks and real people. If you like Inspirational stories that are hard hitting and that are written extremely well and that keep you guessing... you'll love Waking Lazarus.

The villian is truly wicked and you get a glimpse into this wicked mind which is deeply chilling. The hero is just an ordinary janitor... well, not so ordinary. He's got a gift for coming back from the dead. What Satan means for evil, God means for Good. This is a story a little like The Wrong Way Prophet, Jonah. Jude runs away until he meets God face to face. Well done suspense fiction with the crimson thread of redemption running through it.

Yesterday I gave you a teaser. The book just gets better and better as each page you turn, and turn them you will... faster and faster. You can't relax with this book; and yet, it will be a fabulous one to curl up with one night or one afternoon because I seriously doubt you'll be able to put it down until the last page is finished. Truly, it is that good.

I have read thousands of books. Enjoyed lots of them. I have not enjoyed a book so much since I read Alistair McClean's Ice Station Zebra. It is that suspenseful. I have also enjoyed lots of books from lots of different publishers, but I have never in my life sent a letter or emailed a publisher to tell them how much I enjoyed a book. I did that with Waking Lazarus. Bethany House has a real winner with this one.

I met Tony Hines in a writer's forum at Faith*in*Fiction (the blog link is on the side bar at the left). He has a truly wonderful love for the Lord and a sweet personality. But, that isn't why I liked the book so much. Dog gone it, it is the best written Christian book I've read in months. I want more like this!

So... on to the interview...

Tony, I enjoy your BLOG very much and walking with you through this publishing process. I’ve known you for several months and have grown to love you as a person… warts and all. I have also learned that when I know the author, I’m even more intrigued by the book. You tell us a lot about yourself on your website (interesting stuff!) But, would you tell me and my readers a little more about you personally… something that isn’t on your website and gives us a glimpse into Tony Hines the man?

Thanks, Gina. Blogs really can be like personal journals--the only difference being they’re personal journals the whole world can see. I try to be as real and as honest as I can on my blog; I do more than my share of promotion on the rest of the site, and on the web in general. The blog is where I try to keep myself brutally honest.One of the first questions I get asked about the book is, “How did you come up with your main character of Jude Allman?” I tell people he comes from my own experience, with bits and pieces thrown in from other people. And that’s true. But there really is a lot more of me in Jude Allman than even I probably want to admit: he’s simply a magnified version of some of my own foibles. I have certain obsessive compulsive tendencies--I count letters of words and phrases frequently, for instance--and I’ve struggled with depression. With Jude, I just took a few of those things and exaggerated them to extremes. This isn’t to say I’m just a bundled mess on neuroses, of course. I have a wonderful, supportive family, and I really don’t know where I’d be without a faith in God. But there you go: the character of Jude hits close to home, in many ways.

You give a great insight into the reasons for this story and how it developed on your site. I’m wondering what did you learn about God while writing this book and during the process of getting it published?

That’s a great part of the story, for me. Jude’s journey mirrors my own journey to faith. I was an atheist until age 27, and when I became a Christian, one of the most startling realizations was that God had been working in my life all along. I could go back to key points of my life, seeing how God had been at work in the choices I made, and it fascinated me. So, Jude is a man who is used by God, even though Jude does his best to thwart those efforts for much of the book. Writing the story illuminated the wonder of that to me in so many ways.

I also think my personal path to publication is something that can encourage other writers. I wrote WAKING LAZARUS a few years ago, and began querying literary agents--ABA and CBA--about representation. After being turned down by 80+ agents, I chalked up the book to experience and wrote another. Then, I queried more agents, and hit up agents who were “near misses” the first time. Same result: dozens of rejections. By this time, I was frustrated, and even though I’d started another book, I stalled. I finally sat down with God and had what I consider an Abraham moment: I had to hold up my desire to be published as a sacrifice. I said to God, “I don’t know why I’m getting so frustrated about being published. What I love to do is write, and I’m going to keep writing even if I never get published.”

Two weeks later--seriously--I received an email from Dave Long at Bethany House, who had downloaded a sample chapter of WAKING LAZARUS at my web site and was interested in seeing more. I still remember how he began that email: “Don’t know if you’d consider publication with a Christian publisher, but...” I still find that amazing. After a couple years of trying to find an agent as a door into a publisher, the back door had been opened to me--by a man I’d never met or spoken to.

That reinforced the message of the book for me yet again: God is at work in all our lives. And I truly believe God honored what I call my Abraham moment, when I offered up that desire to be published as a sacrifice.

[This last statement encouraged me so much in my own crises right now. It is probably the best advice I've ever been given.]

To be continued tomorrow...

Tony Hines

Jude Allman has died three times.

Welcome to Red Lodge.

Yes. It's a real place. I spent the night there. I didn't sleep at all the night I spent there... I couldn't. I was too keyed up. Nervous and worried because a friend of mine was in trouble. I had to sit with him through it all. I even found myself praying for him. Imagine that!!! Of all things, to pray for a character in a book!

That is something so amazing and hasn't happened to me since... well, since I was a teenager. I was walking to the back of the house to freshen up and I actually breathed a prayer for this character, Jude Allman. Then I laughed at myself and then I was struck by what a treasure this was. Tony Hines created a work with three dimensional characters. Real people. People you get carried away about. Let me share a moment with you...

Chapter 1:

Drowning, 24 years ago

The first time Jude Allman died, he was eight years old.

It happened after a day of ice fishing with his father William. Mid-January. Duck Lake. Twenty degrees above zero on the thermometer, and something far below that on the wind chill scale. Jude sat on an overturned pickle bucket most of the day, occasionally threading a hook through fresh corn or salmon eggs before dropping his line into the inky hole. A few times, when he was impatient for a bite, he put his face over the hole and cupped his hands to peer at the watery world beneath. He saw a few sunfish, but no perch--none of the perch his father considered such “good eatin.”

“Should be headin’ back,” William finally said. The comment startled Jude, partly because he himself had been ready to leave for hours, partly because it was only his father’s third sentence of the day. (The first two, respectively, had been “Ready to get goin’?” and “Hungry?”) Jude slid off the bucket and reeled in his line the last time. His hook had no salmon egg. Maybe an unseen good eatin perch had nibbled it, or maybe the egg had shriveled and slid into the chilly water, resigning itself to fate.

They gathered their gear and started toward the pickup. Jude counted each footfall: from memory, he knew it would be 327 steps.

For a long time, all Jude could hear was the steady crunch of their boots, amplified into a hollow echo by the ice. Every so often, a forced cough from his dad, one of those quick huffs to clear his lungs. Jude stared down at his boots, watching as he continued to count. Fifty-six, fifty-seven, fifty-eight. He lifted his gaze again to stare at William’s broad back, wishing he could match his father’s long, loping strides. It was 327 steps for him; how many would that be for his father? Seventy-two, seventy-three, seventy-four. He pictured his mother, waiting at home with a steaming cup of hot chocolate, maybe a cookie or two. Chocolate chip. Eighty-seven, eighty-eight, eighty--

For a moment, he felt like he was on the roller coaster at the county fair, gravity’s pull licking at his stomach.

Instantly, he knew what was happening. The lake was swallowing him, pulling him in, whispering his name.He opened his mouth to call for his dad, to scream, to do anything, but the water was alive as it raced down his throat, and the bitter cold was a red starburst as he closed his eyes, and the world was a dark, fading memory as he felt himself sinking.


Read the rest of the first chapter then tune in tomorrow when we chat with Tony for a few minutes.

Tony Hines

There is something terribly wrong with me...

... I have this vacant place in my chest... a hole that is sore and bleeding and quite ugly. My cheeks are wet and I can't breathe. I think that is a good thing. I don't want to breathe anymore.
Love is tender. Love is slow to anger. Love is all about the one loved. Love is thoughtful. Love is gracious. Love is wanting to be the one loved and wanting to be with the one loved. God shows me this every day. God illustrated this when He sent me the most wonderful man in the whole world. Lovely and loveable in every way.

Why would God give me the most beautiful gift I have ever received since my two daughters and then allow it to be snatched from my chest? I do not understand how God can tell two people the complete opposite. Something is at work here that is not of God and I do not know what it is. I was content with my life before I fell in love. I was so completely satisfied with my life after I fell in love. Now... I do not know what the future holds. I do not want to go back to the way it was before. So. I ache. I hurt. My bones are dried up. And I pray.

Goodness defined...

Okay, we have some good answers here. Mother's love, Moral excellence, and this from Stan (you know the guy that calls me Giggles)...

In English, "good" has its root in the Old English word
for God, and this is more true than mere semantics. Good is defined by God, and
goodness is that extent to which we reflect God.

Jesus said there is only One Who is good. So who in the Bible reflects God and can be said to have Goodness? It is a fruit of the Spirit and I shall have to do some more digging before I can write my illustration.

Goodness defined...maybe

David, thank you for your insight! I think you are on to something, actually. Since goodness is part of the Fruit of the Spirit, how can men exhibit "Mother's Love"? I don't know. However, we do know that God exhibits not only Fatherly love but also Motherly love because He is both to us, His children. I don't have time right now to delve into this (gotta get the car inspected), but... I'll be back after I pray on this awhile. I would definitely welcome any thoughts on this. It took a very long time to define/illustrate Kindness. Goodness may be beyond me because I do not understand its depth and breadth.

Are we there yet?

Okay... I'm playing around because I'm having trouble defining Goodness. Come on, somebody help me out.

I think this will be the top of my new blog... Posted by Picasa

Make splash

I think this image is so interesting. Posted by Picasa

What is Goodness?

How about it, my friends? What is Goodness? Care to give a shot at defining this part of the fruit of the Spirit?

Thank you Claire and David! I truly appreciate and covet your prayers.

Back again....like a bad penny

So, what is a bad penny, anyway?

Thank you David! and Tracey! and Corry! and Pia! and Val! You have given me great encouragement and that is a priceless gift of goodness.

I told Dave that I'd tell y'all all about my trip soon... Well, I do not have permission from God to tell you what decision I was struggling with. I am still struggling a bit. I have made a decision to go with God and to relinquish my will to His. That may make you go "Well... DUH!" but, sometimes we get too close to something and cannot see our way clear until we step back. I learned I just have to let go and trust God. That shouldn't be hard to do, but sometimes it is very hard to do.

Have you ever sung the song Have Thine Own Way, Lord have Thine own way... Search me and try me absolute sway. Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now, while I'm am waiting, yielded and still... and tears just stream down your cheeks? Suffice it to say that I was straining at the bit... at the end of that supernatural chain that links us to God and pulling hard my own way. But, I didn't even realize it! I didn't know I was being stubborn! Can you imagine that?


New Orleans still looks like a war zone. I just found out that New Orleans has requested 5000 more FEMA trailers. My question is what are they going to do with the FEMA trailers that are parked in nice, neat long rows? An unscientific, conservative guess puts the two FEMA trailer parks full of about 500 trailers have grass growing around them about 2 feet high. Now, in the summer time in Louisiana during rainy season, grass can grow 2 feet in about 6 weeks. But, in lots of places, the grass is dead because it was under water for so long. So, no telling how long these trailers have been parked in nice, neat long rows.

It is amazing the work that has been done in Slidell, LA. At Christmas, trees were still stacked higher than house roofs and houses were still smashed. Businesses were closed and signs were askew. Now, you can hardly tell there was a Katrina in Slidell. I saw 3 blue tarps on roofs and 2 FEMA trailers in use. New Orleans, on the other hand, is still a war zone, especially under the interstate; Katrina cars reside where the homeless used to sleep.

I do not understand it. If a home sold for half a million before Katrina and it didn't get any water in it, today the owner could ask just about any price over a million and get it! If a home got water in it, the owner can't give it away. What I do not understand is, why would anyone want to spend over a million for a home in a town full of crooked politicians who could care less about the good welfare of the city's inhabitants but cares greatly for bulging pockets?

Here's some disturbing news. The National Weather Service took some temperature readings of the Gulf and the water temps are 15 degrees higher than normal. This means that storms which would just be tropical have lots of hot water to feed them into hurricanes. I shudder to think what might happen if one hits New Orleans any time soon. It is just not even close to being ready.

PS... if anyone knows how to make blogger accept photos, please give me a lesson!

Taking a Break

I pray that y'all won't leave me here all by myself!

I am taking a break for a week. There are some decisions I must make, please pray with me on those. If God gives me permission, I will tell you all about it when I come back. I will be working on the rest of the Fruit of the Spirit while I'm gone.

I am off to see my daughters and to see my sister. I plan on lots of praise and worship time while driving! I will be praying a lot, too.

Thank you so much!


The sun is warm on my face and it feels good to these old bones of mine. I listen, but the house is still. It is only me and Hara now. The children have homes and children of their own and my sweet husband has gone to rest in Abraham’s bosom. That other is gone, too, God bless her. Why Hara stays and takes care of this old woman, I do not know. God’s blessing, for sure, but why a young woman would care for an old woman when she should be caring for a husband is beyond the reach of my mind.

“Enjoying the sun, my dear ‘Em? Here is something cool to drink.” Hara settled on the cushion at my feet. I loved how she called me ‘em. It means mother and point of departure. Strange how the word so delicately describes the mother dividing from her baby so the one becomes two. Leaving the womb is a traumatic event for such a small being. Warmth and closeness and protection all suddenly snatched away and replacing it is cold and hunger and thirst. I smiled at my granddaughter.

“Thank you, dear child. You grow lovelier everyday. When will you leave this old woman and seek out your own husband?”

“When I find one that is worth seeking,” she smiled up at me. “Now, continue your story. I shan’t leave here until I hear everything.” She tucked her skirt around her legs in such a ladylike manner and looked up at me with an expression of anticipation that reminded me of her uncle and a time so long ago.


I watched my husband’s face. He was not magnificently handsome, but oh, he was handsome. His eyes were beautiful with full lashes and when he looked at me, my heart filled with warmth. His nose was strong and straight. His hair is dark and wavy and so silky soft. He was not too terribly tall, my head fit perfectly on his shoulder and his arms would wrap around me quite nicely. I was so blessed and I so in love.

I watched him play with the children. They climbed him like a mountain and his face lines melted into tenderness. I treasured how gentle he was with the tiniest of them, not yet weaned and how rough with the oldest just enough to teach him to be a man with manly strength. It was so good how he taught them in the Lord’s way. And they did become good, godly adults. Yea… he was a good father… an excellent husband… a wonderful provider. Our fields were lush with crops and our corrals full with beasts of the field giving us plenty to eat and great things to sacrifice on our annual trip to Shiloh.

My heart feels the stab wounds of grief as I remember that time. I remember yearning in my heart, mayhap this year God will grant my heart’s desire for a babe.

My husband set the children on their way back to their mother. I watched as he shared a special look with her. That look was reserved just for her. He would look at me tenderly; but, he never gave me that look. My heart cinched and my throat ached with held-back tears. I watched as Peninnah went into the house with the children, her hips swaying making her skirt swing provocatively, putting on a show for him.

He glanced up and saw me. His face lit up, shining with joy and love. All my ire drained from me and I smiled back at him. Isn’t it extraordinary to share a sweet, tender moment with the one you love across a huge courtyard? I find it so wonderful that he could hug me and yet be so far away. He seemed to hug with his eyes and I could feel it all over my body. I sighed a short contented sigh. My husband loved me, if only I could bear him children. It was a short-lived contentment, to be sure, for I could hear the clamor of before bedtime sounds.

The children made such raucous noise as they scrambled up the stairs; their excited voices ringing through the top of the house. Playing with their papa always spiced them up into lively bundles of energy. I tensed up, knowing what was soon coming. The mending in my lap lay untended for I knew she would say or do something to make me prick my finger or miss a stitch. I had learned her well.

“So! Not only is the wife barren, but she is also unproductive!” Peninnah’s voice held contempt as she waved toward the pile of mending. “Ha, ha, ha, hie. Did you get that, Hannah?” Peninnah sauntered to the pile of completed work and tossed my things to the side. “Ah. You did mend my skirt. Excellent. I shall wear it tonight! This night the master and I shall make another little one. Too bad you will never know the delights of a suckling babe, One Who Gives. An unproductive woman with a name like that! Hannah! Bah!”

The muscles at the back of my neck became hard as stone and I grit my teeth until my jaw trembled. I would not respond in kind to her. It was not God’s way to return evil for evil so I shut out the rest of her rantings. That is all they were. Hateful taunts thrown into my face because she was jealous I was the first wife, I think. Elkanah took great pains to show his love for me and this rankled Peninnah. However, these taunts still hurt. I could not help that God had shut up my womb. I felt a kinship to Rachel and her lack of sons and daughters.

When I would play with the children, I was ache to hold my own. Year after year I would beg God to grant my heart’s desire and year after year my belly remained flat and my breasts empty. For a time, I threw all my passion and love into my husband. He responded lovingly, but his work would take him from home for days at a time. I would be left with a spiteful woman who crowed over my empty womb while hers rounded her belly with yet another blessing from God.

Oh, I ached. Year after year I wept for my loss. No. It cannot be a loss when one never haves. I wept for my lack.

One year, we went up to Shiloh. I prepared my sacrifice as all the years before. Elkanah gave me the choicest double portion from the peace offering. I found it not strange that he offered the peace offering first every year. Our home was not the most peaceful in the land. We pitched our tents close to the Tabernacle. We dressed in our finest for dining with the Lord, yet my heart was heavy and breaking. That morning, Peninnah became most vicious in her taunts and I could not help it, tears began streaming and I could not dam up the river of them. Elkanah served us at table. I could not eat. I waited until after blessing then left the table.

My sweet husband followed me, wrapping his warm arms around me he said, “Hannah, my beloved, why do you weep so? Why is your heart breaking into pieces?” He nuzzled my neck. “Am I not better to you than ten sons?”

I turned in his embrace and wept on his breast. He squeezed me tightly and, yes, my husband was dear to me. I went to table and ate what I could and drank for this was worship to my Lord God, Jehovah of Hosts.

Better than ten sons? Surely he jested! A husband is not even in the same compartment as a son. The love of one was not akin to the love of the other. My husband satisfied my wifely yearnings, but my motherly yearnings had never been satisfied. Peninnah’s children did not satisfy that. A child is the union of husband and wife incarnate. It is the physical evidence of love between man and woman. I had no such physical evidence. That thought tasted so bitter in my mouth. Then a thought struck me. I trusted Jehovah. He looked down from on high and knew my heart. The love for my husband and the yearning for children had been a constant topic of prayer. Elkanah’s remark had put a new thought into my bitter heart. God was better than ten sons. I knew what I was to do.

I went to our tent opening and gazed toward the majestic Tabernacle. I could see the blue covering over the top of the Tabernacle from the door of our tent and my heart settled on what I was to do. It was the most difficult choice I had ever made. It would hurt, no doubt, but my God was better than ten sons. I stepped out and went to the Temple and prayed.

I made a solemn vow. “O Jehovah of Hosts, I beseech Thee. If looking you will look upon the affliction of your devoted handmaiden and give me a son, then I will give Him to You and a razor will never touch his head.” I had just promised a Nazarite separation of my son. He would taste no wine. He would taste no fruit of the vine, nor leaves nor stem. He would come close to no dead body all the days of his separation for that would make him unclean. He would be holy to Jehovah all the days of his separation. I was saying all of this with such intense meditation that I was startled by the high priest.

“How long will you remain drunken, woman?” he snapped at me, “Put away the wine!” I was wrenched from my prayers.

“Oh, no, my lord, I am much broken of spirit and deeply aching. I have not drunk any fermented drink. I am pouring out my soul to the Lord God. Do not, I pray thee, think that I am a woman of wickedness. I have been telling Jehovah all my complaints and frustrations from whence has come my distress, not from drink.”

“Be at peace, daughter.” Eli patted my shoulder. “May the God of Israel give you your petition which you asked of Him. Go in peace.”

Peace, indeed, filled my heart and filled my soul. I found myself humming on the way home. No taunt of Peninnah’s could pierce my new found peace. All was well and I ate and I laughed with my husband. When we got home, he came to me and my dear Hara, in due time, I bore your uncle Samuel.

Oh, that was a joyous time. I loved him and played with him and it was just as I had imagined only better, much better. There is nothing like the beautiful smell of a newborn’s head, Hara. I look for you to enjoy that smell soon enough. I rejoiced so greatly that the time flew by. Soon it was time to go up to Shiloh to the Temple to worship and sacrifice. I told Elkanah that I would not go that year, that I would stay home until the boy was weaned. Elkanah gave me blessing to do as I saw right. It was a great blessing, but the greater blessing was when I told Elkanah of my vow. He nodded his head and blessed my vow. He could have rescinded it and then we would have had Samuel all to ourselves.

That would have been a huge mistake. My husband was ruled by God. He allowed the vow and honored it and it became his vow as well. Samuel belonged to God. I prayed aloud that day. No hushed beseechings but loud words of praise, for I had much to be thankful for. God had, indeed, opened my womb. There is no rock like our God. I rejoiced in His salvation. Mark my words, child, the bows of the haughty are broken and those that stumble shall gird on strength.

As I look back, Hara, I see so much of God’s work in my life. Your uncle is a great man, well respected and a holy man of God. If I had not brought him to the Temple as I had promised God, then he would not have heard God’s voice in the night or told Eli the prophecy. Every year, I went up to see him and brought him new clothes. It was hard, but I did rejoice over him and prayed for him. I knew God would use him in a mighty way, God does prevail. It took years of preparation for God to bring me to the point of desperation that I would willingly and even joyfully give my son to God, my one and only son. Of course I had more children… but, at the time I made my vow, I had none. It is frightening thing to do, but it is worthy, for God can be trusted more than any man or woman. He is worthy to be praised. Amen.


I'm working on Longsuffering. Did you know that this word appears in Scripture about 15 times, mostly describing God. Once Paul uses it for himself.... and really, the man deserved it because he was beaten with 39 stripes 5 times... hear it from his own pen.

2Co 11:24 Five times I received forty stripes minus one from the Jews. 25 I was flogged three times; I was stoned once; I was shipwrecked three times; I have spent a night and a day in the deep. 26 I have been in travels often, in dangers of rivers, in dangers of robbers, in dangers from my race, in dangers from the nations, in dangers in the city, in dangers in a wilderness, in dangers in the sea, in dangers among false brothers, 27 in hardship and toil, often in watchings, in hunger and thirst, often in fastings, in cold and nakedness, 28 besides the things outside conspiring against me day by day, the care of all the assemblies. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is caused to stumble, and I do not burn? 30 If it is right to boast, I will boast of the things of my infirmity.

David Jeremiah said in a sermon once that he was in the hosptial recovering from his cancer surgery. He was in severe pain and was basically wondering if he was going to live much longer. He was opening get well cards and pulled one out with the above verses on the front cover. On the inside of the card was written,

"And SO... How are you doing?"

He said, "At first, I was just flabbergasted. What kind of sick individual would send a get well card like this? Then it hit me. After all that Paul had been through, he was still loving others and caring about them. He loved God more that ever. So... how was I doing? Much better after I got the real message of that card. I was feeling a whole lot better than if I'd be flogged with 39 stripes or spending the night in the ocean, that's for sure. I can tell you that!"

True. I look at those verses and suddenly the argument with my HBL takes on a whole new meaning. What is important is the person. What matters is the person. Who is first in our lives is God and, of course, that comes above all things... but, the person is who God created and the person is who God loves so we should, too.

Longsuffering. Literally mean "long of nose". Apparently, in the Hebrew it was a word used to describe how the nostrils flare and the breathing is really deep and fast when anger consumes a person. So, the Long part put before the suffering part meant that there was much patience without anger.


I'm working on Longsuffering. Give me a day or two. I hope you'll like it as much as I have loved doing this series. I have learned so much!

Peace Two

Careful now where you step, the dock is slippery in this rain. Here, give me your hand. Up you go… and now you. This is a fine catch of fish, you have. Shall I clean them for you? I am delighted to do so, and you can hear the rest of my story while I teach you the Andrew method of cleaning fish. Oh, sorry, did I slap your back too hard? Sometimes I forget my own strength.

That night, we had no strength. Our bellies melted with fear. I could tell we were making a slight headway because that single point I was watching when we made it to the peak of each wave, had moved a bit to port and had gotten a good deal closer. It seemed to me we would not make Bethsaida this night.

It was the fourth watch of night. In no way could we sleep with the storm throwing cold water in our faces. I was shocked out of my fear when the boat topped the next peak, I saw Jesus walking toward us. At my scream, the others turned to see and some exclaimed it was a ghost. I knew it was Jesus, but my throat was closed so tight, not even a squeak could make it out of my mouth.

He said, “Be comforted. I AM. Do not fear.”

My brother, foolhardy that day as he was in his youth, leaned over the side of the boat and cried out, “Lord, if it really is You, then command me to come to You on the waters.”

If it were possible, my jaw dropped even lower. Only choking on the sea spray made me close my mouth, for Jesus did so command. Just like the flash of summer lightening, Peter was out of the boat and walking toward our Lord. We were stunned.

I can see by the looks on your faces you think I am lying.

I tell you the truth, my brother walked upon those towering waves toward Jesus. Then he began to sink. He told me later that he had, at first, only had eyes for Jesus, but then he felt the storm, the giant waves, the cold wind and he lost sight of the power which held him up. Jesus quickly stretched out and grabbed Peter and said, “Little-faith, why did you doubt?” Then He helped Peter into the boat and once Himself was in the boat, the wind ceased and the waves were calm. No gesture from Him. No words fell from His lips. Calm waters like that of a summer afternoon proved the elements obeyed His silent will!

Only one other time had we seen anything like that. Jesus rebuked the wind, then, “Peace! Be still!” At His first word, the waves settled into glass-like calm and the wind ceased like someone had shut the door upon it. That time we wondered who He was that the elements obeyed His voice. This time, I could not help myself. My knees buckled and I fell on my face, worshiping the Son of God. At that moment I knew beyond doubt that He was Who He said He was.

I did not understand the miracle of the loaves. I was blind and my heart was like a stony ground. But, when that wind cut off… when those giant waves became instantly like glass… when the moon’s face glowed upon the head of the Lord… I knew who He was.

However, I am ashamed to admit that I did not fully understand all the implications of that day. I was so stupid that when the true storm hit and the very real danger exploded into our lives tearing Jesus from our midst and those lies and deceptions of the Pharisees put Jesus on the cross, I ran just as if I had sunk into the depths of the sea all the way to the bottom. We all scattered. We failed Him. And yet, that glorious morning, He let us know beyond doubt that He forgave us. That, my friend, is peace.

You do not see it? Oh, excuse me! I did not mean to swing the blade so close to your nose. Please forgive me. Take the blade and scrape the scales like this. Yes. You have it now. Do not miss one, they are quite sharp in the mouth.

Let me explain the implications to you.

All the Disciples that Jesus had chosen to follow Him were in that boat. Do you suppose that He would allow anything to cause us harm? Do you suppose that since He could calm the waves and shut off the wind with a single breath from His mouth that He would allow us to suffer that storm unto death? Pah! Decidedly not. It was a lesson, a test, a travail. We had eyes only for the storm. The Lord has eyes for us.

In the desert, He is there. In the wilderness, He is there. Whether He is on the mountain praying, He is watching you in the storm and He is always within reach. His is the power of bara, creation from nothing. Through Him all things were created. How can the wind not obey His voice? How can the sea not submit to His will? The storms will always come, but He is ever constant. Raging torrents of trials and tribulations have no power over those whom love the Lord. That, my friends, is Peace.

I offer this peace to you. You know how to fish now. You will never starve. Know this, if you believe in Jesus, you will never go hungry and never be thirsty. The storms will come, yes, but there will always be peace in your heart.

Psa 4:8 I will both lie down in peace and sleep; for You alone, O Jehovah, make me dwell in safety.


Sean won. Nuff said.


I took my position in the bow of the boat. It was just enough small to land that label rather than ship. It was roomy and convenient for fishing. A couple of the men hoisted the sail and we settled back for a cold sail across the sea. The sun had already dipped behind the mountains, the afterglow in the winter sky created an orange wash on our faces as we pushed off from the western shore toward Behtsaida, nestled on the northern shore of Yam Kenneret.

I breathed deeply, filling my lungs with the fresh, chilled air of the sea region. I smelled the fish and they smelled like money to me. We were heading to my home and I was looking forward to seeing my wife.

That fateful night, the afterglow did not last long upon the cold water. But we did not fear for the moon would rise shortly and full would be it’s face.

We had barely got into deep water when the wind flapped the sail. I cursed, then bit my tongue. I was done with those thoughts and those ways, yet they crept into my head at stressful times. It was hard trying to be good all the time. That Jesus… I told my brother he was Messiah. John had pointed to him and said, “Behold the Lamb who will take away the sins of the world.” My head knew it. My heart was having doubts. First one thing and then another, he would say one thing and the Pharisees would twist his words and the sad thing is, they were making a great deal of sense. But then, so did the Messiah. I was stilling trying to understand how a body could lay down his life to save it or desiring to save his life will lose it and the one who loses his life will save it. Oi veh! My poor fisherman’s brain could not wrap around it.

Excuse me a moment, I must tend the sail. The wind is so contrary as it blows one way and then another. It’s the winter gusts we must be wary of and this storm is giving all the signs of a gale. The conditions you see now are just like what happened that night in the beginning. We will head to shore, for I would not want you to be distressed this eventide. No, no. Sit down; no need for oars for we’ll be to shore in a matter of moments.

Now then, where was I? Oh, yes, I had just taken my position on the bow of the boat. I had confessed to you that my heart was akin to the winter winds across the Yam Kenneret. Sea of Galilee, as you know it. Afternoon had just rested when the Master urged us to the boat and bid us across to the other side. A few hours passed and it seemed we were making no headway at all. It was only seven miles across: a short afternoon sail or perhaps a half day’s row depending on how many oars were manned. But, this night, it seemed we worked more against the wind than with the wind. It was so contrary, we lowered the almost useless sail and took to the oars. I was marking the time so we could be in stroke which is why I was in the bow and why I was the navigator as well.

Dark clouds raced across the sky. For a time, they were spaced far enough apart we could keep our bearings. Then they closed in around the moon, like a veil drawn across a beautiful woman’s face; one moment glorious light and the next dark pitch. Then the wind gusted hard from the North, the waves pounded the bow sending up sprays of water at regular intervals. That lasted for less than an hour. Suddenly the wind shifted quarters and it was blowing harder from the east. This shifting wind stirred up our little sea and we were being tossed about like a child’s ball.

The waves pitched our little boat into the air, I gauged about twenty cubits. At each peak the shore to the west looked no closer than the shore to the north east. Soon we had to ship the oars and hang on for our very lives. The sea became cantankerous, sucking at the boat to pull it under. Veterans of the sea we were, but this storm was the worst we had ever seen. Soon, the waves were thirty cubits if they were an inch; that is no fisherman’s lie. The water was so cold and the wind was colder as it whipped sea spray into our faces and cloaks. We may as well had taken to swimming across, as wet as we were. But that would never have done. We would have died in that water in just a few minutes. Oy, I have seen grown men, fishing in waters that cold and fall in while dragging in nets. They were dead before they were found to be missing. Nothing could bring them back from that freezing death.

I rolled my shoulders to release the strain of tension. Not much good it did because of the death grip I had on the sides of the boat. I know I left indents on either side of the bow the size of my fingers. Up the side of one giant wave we traveled then down the steep slope of the other side. As we reached the summit of the watery mountain, we’d pitch side to side, taking on a dangerous amount of water; our knees awash with the cold stream and faces frozen into masks of terror. Then we careened down, sloshing a bit of water out one side while taking on more water from the other side. At the bottom of each deep trench, we had tipped over far enough for the water to drain out the port side leaving us ankle deep in water, only to start the whole travail again as we staggered up the side of the next giant wave. We had just a matter of minutes before capsizing.

I saw something in the distance and decided to keep my eye on it in order gauge our position. Surely we had traveled farther than what it appeared. It seemed we were held by some anchor in the middle of the sea. The wind swirling around us, yet our position held steady. It was odd, but not odd enough to lighten my fear. I could see the horror etched on each face. These men I had walked with and talked with and laughed with were now sharing the same fear. We were sure we were going to die.

Kindness the Truth

I debated on whether to move on to the next one or to discuss this one a bit more. After all, kindness is the outward evidence of the Spirit. When we show kindness we are extending God's hand to others around us. Frankly, I do not see a whole lot of kindness in the Church. It takes effort and energy and it takes all the other parts of the gift of the Spirit in order to evidence kindness.

A person in deep depression has no thought of exhibiting kindness for he is wrapped up in his own Hell. So it takes joy of the heart in order to have the courage to reach out to fellow man.

If there is no love, then kindness is not evident, nor even a brief thought. For through love springs all the gift of the Spirit because God is love.

Without peace, there is no kindness for turmoil and war in the mind and heart drowns out all thoughts of others and that builds a bridge to depression and despair.

Patience... long-suffering... roots of kindness. A tree with shallow roots falls over in the first huff of wind. Kindness stems from patience because patience stalls the hasty reply, stops the anger before it forms and causes the advent of forgiveness before bitterness can germinate.

Therefore, in Paul's list of the fruit of the Spirit (please note it is all one fruit, not multiple fruits) Kindness is the turning point from the inward spring to the outward flow of the Spirit.

Kindness part deux

I stood there staring into that bucket, my thirst to a point of cracked river bottom. My tongue cleaved to the roof of my mouth and I could not have defended myself even if I had that desire.

Jezreel, my oldest born, came flying from the doorway. He fell to his knees and his pleas were just a jumble of words. Loruhammah, my lovely daughter added her cries to those of her brothers for Loammi had joined us by the well. After some moments, I dropped the bucket and tried to sort out their distress. All of life stood still as I gazed at their faces streaked with tears. Surely thunder cracked overhead when the lightening strike of understanding hit my thirst-craved mind. Their names made sense to me for the very first time. God Will Sow… No Mercy… for you are Not My People.

No Mercy. Not my people. Not my wife. Disowned. Rejected. No Mercy.

No wonder I had been tossed out with nothing save the clothes on my back. No wonder I landed in a box the size of a small bed with a mattress of dirty straw and a thin sheet for warmth. He disowned me, and I deserved it. I sold myself to another for food and a box. I had valued things over Him. I loved silks and perfumes rather than my children. I craved those fleeting moments of pleasure rather than the warmth and strength of my husband’s arms. I chose the raspy voices of many over the sweet words of love offered by my husband. I chose drunkenness over refreshing waters. I desired sweets rather than roasted meat and therefore I was starving. I was thirsty. I was blind to the true treasure which was what my husband provided. I was wretched.

Icy tears slid from my closed eyes. I had not even noticed when the latest invasion had left my cold bed. I curled into a ball and let the tears flow. I lost it all. No hope. No love for me. I had it at one time but tossed it away like a dirty rag.

I heard the chink of coin again and groaned. Not another! How much more could I endure?

“Aiyi! From the looks of it, this is your day of fortune!” the raspy voice of my owner raked over my nerves as he jiggled and poked me to sit up.

“Eh?” I rubbed my eyes and looked at the veiled face in front of me. It was of such fine, thin material his breath ruffled it from his face for he was male, all male, broad of shoulder and thick of arm. His chest expanse seemed to fill the box opening. Fear snaked through me. This brawny brute could do lots of painful things with those hammer arms if he so chose.

“Fifteen pieces of silver! Ha! Not even the going rate for a slave girl. You are not worth the spit from my mouth so I have sold you. I will eat well for all winter with my 17 bushels of barley and my 15 pieces of silver! You, my ugly one, have provided well for me this night. Be off with you. No! Leave the sheet. I paid good money for it and will need it later.”

I scrambled from the box and blinked in the rain. With no covering for my head, my hair was soon soaked and my clothes clung to my thin body for all to see each bony angle. The man slipped a fur lined cloak around my shoulders. It was warm from his body and held a scent of…

I quickly glanced up. The eyes were so different from the last time I’d looked into them. Gone was the anger and fire. In their place was something I had not seen since the day of my marriage. It was gentleness and mercy and compassion. Those eyes held the kindest expression. His arm was wrapped warmly around my cold shoulders and then He swept me up into his snug embrace. Where I had foolishly chased dreams with no substance, he offered kindness and I grabbed it with all my being.

“You will be with me for the rest of your life,” he whispered to me, his breath warm in my ear. “No longer will you lay on your back for coin. No more sleeping around with others. I betroth you to me forever. This time our wedding will be full of feasting and dancing and your eyes will be only for me and mine for you. To you I am no longer Baali. You will call me Ishi… My beloved husband. I will give you vast vineyards and precious treasures, but your greatest treasure is your Ishi. Come rejoice with me, Beloved.”