2018 Resolutions: No Blasts from the Past

The Past is a Tyrant

There we are, moving and shaking, excited about new goals, hoping, dreaming, expecting great things… then BOING! Something from our past jumps up and says, “Here I am! Remember me? We had all the good times, you feel comfortable with me, everything is familiar. Why change things? It’s risky out there in the future with all your big ideas.”

Have you ever had those thoughts? The past likes to bring up things that will derail our resolutions for the future. Doubts, fears, old desires, fantasies, and bondages just waiting to pull us back. In From Woodstock To Eternity, Dustin Morgan finds himself face to face with the past in the form of a Michelob sign,

The two cabin builders settle into a small cafe on the main strip and order their coffee and cinnamon rolls.  As he sits in the wooden booth, sipping his coffee, Dustin looks out across the street.  There, beckoning him from a small saloon, is a glowing, red neon Michelob sign.  It’s a blast from the past, intruding into his new life from the other side of the road.  It’s saying,

“Dustin, I’m here.  Come on in.  Remember all the good times we had?  You used to have a ritual, remember?  Every time you went up the mountain, you would stop in a bar in the foothills and have a couple of beers to celebrate.  Well, you’re getting ready to go up the mountain, and here I am.  Come on, Dustin, just have one beer.  One beer won’t matter.”

This is the tyranny of the past

The past tries to manipulate us by softening the effects of what has gone on before. Time is a healer of wounds, and the past tries to capitalize on this by telling us the bad things weren’t that bad, and the feel good things that got us into trouble were really OK. If our new focus is not clear, we may be easily influenced to go backwards.

How to overcome the tyranny of the past

1. Make a sharp contrast between where you came from and where you want to be.

The contrast is stark, and the choice is clear. The church side of him is here, in a coffee shop, with his church friend, representing his deliverance.  And the saloon side of him is over there, with the tinkling glasses, the smell of liquor, the crack of billiard balls in the back. 

2. Have a healthy respect for the power of the past to hold you back.

“Yes, Dustin.  You are delivered from one beer.  Let Me tell you what will happen.  Just like that door to the saloon opens up into another world, with another set of experiences, one beer will open a door to the complete array of temptations and desires that you just left.  One beer will unplug a hole in your wall that will let all the bondages of drugs, and lust, and drunkenness flood back into your life.  It’ll be like pulling your finger out of the hole in the dike.”

3. Press on – Have faith in the Lord to take you where you need to go.

Philippians 3:12-14 … but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

References: “True Freedom – No Longer Obligated”      “The Agony of Not Trying”

2018 Set Your Affection in the Right Direction

The Direction of Your Affection Determines Your Action

Excerpt from my next book, “The Steel Wall”

Scooter’s heart ached as he took one last fond look at the stack of bricks. He opened the side door and gradually let it down, the wind plastering his face and tearing at his shirt as the sea rushed by 200 feet below. Whitecaps lined the tops of raging swells. He gripped the framework of the doorway hard and looked down.

“Oh Lord, there’s no coming back from a fall into that.”

He carefully maneuvered his feet as he picked up three bricks and shuffled toward the door. His gut had a big knot, like he had to shoot his dog, knowing he was throwing away perfectly good cocaine. He hesitated, thinking, “Maybe I don’t have to do this. Maybe they’re not there anymore.” He had already stowed his backup bricks in the baggage compartment, but tossing the rest in the water was more than a situational necessity… it was a calamity.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21.

There is no simpler way to describe why we do what we do… why we feel like we feel. Scooter was distressed about throwing out the bricks because the coke was his “treasure.” It was valuable to him, not just monetarily, but in his psyche, in his gut. Cocaine was an integral part of his culture, and coke smuggling was his lifeblood. He wasn’t born this way, but this is where life lead him. And, frankly, he had never taken the time to consider living otherwise.

The things that are important to us always motivate our actions. This is why it is so important to look at ourselves and realize what we value the most.  I’ll pick three “treasures.”

  1. Career: There’s no better satisfaction than working at what you love. Or pursuing a goal and achieving it.
  2. Pleasure: To a single, independent young adult, there seems to  be no greater rush than partying down and letting it all hang out.
  3. Lifestyle: To anyone who has found their niche, there is no fonder fulfillment than soaking up the friends, the atmosphere, and the frills of the culture they have created.

Having our heart set on a career makes us persevere through college and low level jobs. If we are set on pleasure, we’ll spend lots of money and avoid things like commitment. If we are settled into a lifestyle, we may not even know there is an alternative out there, or we may not want to know. Either way, we are content to stay like we are.

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2.

The good news is, we can actually do something about all this. Many cannot see outside of their present existence to know they even have a choice, but they do. We all do. In “The Steel Wall,” Dustin Morgan comes face to face with two cultures, two concepts of pleasure, and possibly two career choices, all hinging on where he will set his mind… what he will embrace as his affection.

That is our choice for 2018. Not resolutions, but where will you set your affection… on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God?  or things on the earth?

2018    … Let’s all look upward!



Hey Hallmark! Christmas means Christ!!

Extra! Extra! Hallmark Channel Takes Away Baby Jesus!

Yes, It’s true. With dozens and hundreds of Christmas romance movies produced for the Christmas Season, Not one of them says a thing about the basis of the holiday celebration – the Birthday of Jesus! You know, the night God came into the world in human form with angels filling the sky and singing “Glory to God in the highest.” The same night that Mary and Joseph stayed in a cattle stall and laid their baby in a manger with the cows and sheep watching, along with the shepherds who came in from the fields to see the newborn King…

The same night the star rose over Bethlehem and guided the three wise men from the east who brought gold, frankincense and myrrh for the King whose kingdom would know no end? Yes, that’s the story that has inspired manger scenes on fireplace mantles everywhere, moved musicians to compose magnificent hymns of Christmas celebration, and brought the message of peace and goodwill to all men.            THAT CHRISTMAS STORY!!!

But is any of that in a Hallmark Christmas movie? No. Never. Zip, Zero, Nada. They’re all about the magic of Christmas, the spirit of Christmas, and most of all… the Christmas Miracle. There’s got to be one in every movie. But guess what? There’s no Jesus in the Miracle, in fact, there’s no Jesus anywhere. If a child were to watch any one of these movies, he/she would never know the real wonder of the night Jesus was born.

Before you accuse me of being an insensitive brutish scrooge, consider that I recorded a long list of Hallmark movies to entertain my lovely wife, and I offer myself up as a sweet smelling sacrifice to watch these things with her… even acting genuinely interested. That’s how I found out that they not only ignore any references to Jesus, they seem to deliberately go out of the way to scrub any vestige of the Savior from the script. The background carols are all about Santa, and Jingle Bells, and sleigh rides.

Even It’s a Wonderful Life ends with everybody singing “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, Glory to the Newborn King!”

The straw that broke the camel’s back came when a grumpy Hallmark Christmas unbeliever couldn’t get all the fuss and asked his girlfriend,

“What’s the big deal, anyway? What’s Christmas all about?”

Talk about a softball question, but did she tell him it was the birthday of Jesus? Of course not! She gave him some mumbo jumbo about people feeling happy and doing things for each other, etc. etc. Not that these are bad things, but… no Jesus, no God with us, no Immanuel. One character went so far as to say the angel ornament on top of the tree was a symbol of departed loved ones looking down on us! How dumb is that? Believe me, Hallmark is stripping Christ out of every element of Christmas.

This is very sad, and it is serious stuff. Like my pastor said in his sermon this morning… When you take Christ out of Christmas, all you have left is a great big mess…

The Gospel According to Handel Part 1

Our Warfare is Accomplished!

As a wild hippie of the ’60’s and ’70’s, I reveled in the spirit of the day… the music, the vibes, the acid, the righteous sense of peace and brotherhood… But even though I believed our cause was righteous, I was in fact, at war with God. Not intentionally, but through casting off all of His bonds and chains (that were meant for my good), by default I was resisting His will for my life. Warfare against God.

Now to the present… Every year at Christmas time, our family goes to see Handel’s Messiah in concert. Being there live, up close and personal is a totally new experience from listening to a recording. The singers tell the story of Christ in song with the musical backup of a symphonic orchestra. Sitting near the front, it is as if they are singing it directly to me. It brings tears to my eyes every time.

From the first song, the message of God’s peace is proclaimed.

“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfort unto Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned:”

That’s it!! That’s the Christmas message! Our warfare is accomplished and our iniquity is pardoned.

Through Jesus Christ in me, my warfare is now over… done… settled. How? I gave up and He won. No compromise, no negotiations. How did the world get peace in World War II? The good guys pulverized, bombed, shot, and nuked the bad guys until they surrendered unconditionally. Then we had peace.

It’s the same with Jesus. He will dash us, break us, grind us into powder until we are broken like a wild horse. But when we let Him win in our hearts, we have peace, and we are now useful to Him for service. And those areas where we still buck and kick? We are not useful there. Turmoil and problems.

This Christmas, let God comfort you by letting him finish your warfare. He may even send you an angel.

See: Angels In Our Lives

The Power of Woodstock Fever

Why Did Dustin Morgan Cry at Woodstock?

Excerpt from “From Woodstock To Eternity”

The images of the last three days roll through his mind like a video.  The overwhelming onslaught of people from everywhere.  The gathering of the tribes.  The exhilarating swells of peace and brotherhood.  The generosity of the hog farm, the open market of psychedelic drugs.  The acid reports.  The smiles on everybody’s faces, the “hello, brother”, “hello, sister”, “peace, man”, “this is far out, really far out”.  Jimi says it all in his brief chatter between songs,

“You proved to the world what can happen,” he says, “A little bit of love, and understanding, and sound.”

Hendrix goes straight from “Voodoo Child” into the opening notes of “The Star Spangled Banner”.  He raises his arm high in a salute to the crowd, his fingers formed into the peace sign.  The adoring audience flashes the sign back in unison.   The twisted, exploding version of the National Anthem paints the picture of everything the revolution stands for, and Morgan knows he is part of it.  Woodstock has sealed the deal; he has sold his soul.  A great swelling of emotion rises up in his heart, and he cannot contain it.  He raises both hands into the air, with his fingers forming the “V”, and cries like a baby.

Why did he cry? He just had an overflowing sense that all the Woodstock movement stood for was the real thing. And because it was the real thing, he was obligated to devote himself entirely to it. It was going to transform the world, it was based on brotherly love, and it just felt so good to be a part of it. But some people were not going for it…

“If they think I’m going to grow my hair out and wallow in the mud, they got another thing comin’!”

In time, the innocent Peace and Love movement began to mutate into forms that were not very pretty…

Just as this generation of free spirits was certain that the Great Establishment wanted to enslave them and force their ways down their throats, they adopted the same role of tyranny, forcing their ideas of how things should be down everybody else’s throats. 

Now, the radical fanatics living in the glass dome in Eastern Wyoming really do want to make the whole world like Woodstock.  They want everybody to share everything.  And if you don’t want to share what you have, then into the concentration camp you go!  If you don’t agree with their ideas of social behavior and political correctness, then too bad, they are going to force their view of what is right and proper on you.  

From the “Woodstock” chapter

Unfortunately or fortunately, however you see it, the Woodstock fever faded away after a few short years. Oh, it’s still around in aging hippies, hip centers and liberal ideology, but the massive wave of hip culture has been pushed into obscurity. On the other hand, consider a fever that has not faded away, but has only grown over the last 2,000 years. Consider the woman at Bethany, anointing Jesus with costly oil  and wiping His feet with her hair and her tears.

Mark 14:8-9  “She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Why was this woman crying? In many ways, for the same reason Dustin Morgan cried at Woodstock. A truth bigger than herself had revealed itself to her. A truth bigger that the earth, or the universe, had suddenly taken root in her heart. This Man before her had come down from heaven to save her and deliver her from her sin. He was God in human flesh. And He came here to show the world there is a God, and His Son is Jesus, and He is going to transform the world with His love. Not only that, He had just transformed her. Knowing that this Son Who was sitting right in front of her had taken away her sin and made her a new person demanded that she give him her full devotion.

So, she poured out all that she had to anoint Him for burial.

Real Christmas

Real Christmas is the Gospel

Keep Christ in Christmas! Jesus is the Reason for the Season! We’ve all heard these slogansto remind everybody that the word Christmas comes from the word Christ. But sometimes, doesn’t it seem like it’smerry-christmas just not getting through? The debate keeps raging about whether to say Merry Christmas or not, but even those who don’t believe in Jesus say Merry Christmas.

So, without further ado, here is the simple Gospel message of linus-quoting-lukeChristmas from an excerpt in From Woodstock To Eternity

This man we had never met sat down in our living room and said to us, ‘God so loved themanger-scene world that He sent His Son down to earth, Who became a baby, grew up among us, and then went to the cross to die. Now, God’s law says the penalty for sin is death, and we have all sinned. So, either we have to die, or someone else has to die in our place. That is called a sacrifice. When God’s Son died on that cross, He sacrificed himself for our sins. He died in our place so we could go to heaven. All you have to do is believe Jesus died for your sins and receive Him as your Savior, and you will be able to live with God forever. And besides that, He will put His Holy Spirit in you, Who will give you power to live a godly life, and He will make your life more abundant and full of blessings.

Now isn’t that Good News?’”

It is Good News. It is “good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” as the angel said to the shepherds. They are the words of eternal life, and Jesus is the Word of Life. Whoever believes in Him shall never die.

This is the Real Christmas Message!

Merry Christmas!!!

Happy Thanksgiving

So Much To Be Thankful For

From Woodstock To Eternity might not seem like a candidate for a great Thanksgiving thanksgiving-dinnerbook, but it really is.

First, consider the setting on the Mayflower as the Pilgrims embark for their journey away from the Old Country to go to the New World

Imagine the wharf where the Pilgrims loaded all their earthly belongings on the Mayflower to sail to the New World.  What was going through their minds as they contemplated leaving not just their friends and families, but the only world they knew – a whole continent?  They left a civilized society that had developed over eons to go to a land no one had ever seen. 



Then the day and the hour came when they drove their animals on board, carried all they could take up the ramp to the boat, settled into their places in the hold and headed off into the Western expanse.  The great sails went up, and the waves slapped against the hull of the magnificent vessel as they lined up along the rails.  Straining to absorb every last detail of the skyline, they took one last gaze at the vanishing European land mass.  All that they knew became smaller and smaller as it receded into the emptiness behind them.  They turned to soak up the scene ahead, and there was only the sea and the horizon, the bow of the mighty ship rising and falling with the swells.  From now on, all they had were their dreams and a determination to conquer the unknown.

We know they were thankful that they made it. They realized their dreams and conquered the unknown. And they gave God the glory.

Dustin Morgan is also he made it in the final chapters of the book.

Soon, the guitar strikes up the chords, and the whole house fills with the joyful music.  Everybody sings it out with all their might, clapping the island beat, and a big grin spreads across Morgan’s face.the-other-side

“I finally made it!  I really did.  I made it to the other side, and I don’t feel bored.  On the contrary, this is probably the best I have felt in a long, long time.”

He also made it from the Old Country to the New World in Christ.

Now that I am living in the Heavenly Country, here are some things I am thankful for.

A lovely, faithful wife who goes with me chasing my rainbows

Seven fantastic children who make me very, very proud

Six (and counting) grandchildren – all boys so far.

A life of deliverance, free from the chains of sin

May God richly bless each of you this Thanksgiving!!!

The Same Holy Spirit Falls

The Christian’s Bond Through the Ages: Mar’s Hill to Grenada

Phillip in Samaria  Acts 8:6-8  “And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things phillip-in-samariaspoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city.”

Peter at Cornelius’s house  Acts 10:44 “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word”day-of-pentecost

What do you suppose it felt like to be in the streets of Samaria, or in Cornelius’s house when the Holy Spirit fell? It sounds like a far off fantasy, doesn’t it? It’s in the Bible, so it was 2,000 years ago, and everything was different back then. That means people felt differently back then right? No! Of course not! Their love was the same as we feel, their fear was the same fear, their joy was the same joy. They just had to experience them without electricity and running water.

whitefield-preachingWhenever there is a revival, the same Holy Spirit falls. George Whitefield had a booming voice and preached a message of holiness to tens of thousands in the American colonies. Ben Franklin estimated a crowd in Philadelphia to be over 80,000 people! Jonathan Edwards read his sermon called jonathan-edwards-resolved“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” and people moaned out loud, “what shall I do to be saved.”

In “From Woodstock To Eternity” Dustin Morgan is in Grenada and witnesses the Holy Spirit fall in response to the preaching of the Word.

While they are singing, many locals gather around to listen or join in, clapping along in their rhythmical, island beat.  Suddenly, Pastor Terry steps out in the open air and starts to proclaim a message about the saving power of Jesus.  They are having a revival right here in the middle of the street!  A couple of local islanders raise their hand to get saved and walk up to the Pastor.  He lays his hands on their heads and they bow in prayer.  Dustin whispers in Lisa’s ear,

island-people“I tell you what, I never would have seen anything like this in my old days.  I feel like we are experiencing something that has been going on for centuries.  I bet people felt the same Spirit when George Whitefield was preaching in the colonies, or even when Paul was on Mars Hill in Athens.  I had no idea being a Christian would be anything like this.”

Isn’t it something? When we get saved, or filled with the Spirit, or feel God’s presence, we feel the same Holy Spirit that people felt in the Bible – or in The Great Awakening – or in Cornelius’s house! Just pull up a chair, listen to Peter and start speaking in tongues… it’s that easy, and it’s part of our bond. The fellowship of believers spans the ages.

The Inner Battle: Know Your Enemy!

Have you ever felt like you are in the middle of a battle?

We are always being pulled in separate directions.  Most of the time, we don’t think about it.  We go about our daily lives and believe we are merely making our own decisions.  However, every thought and attitude is motivated by one force or another.  In this political season, a great deal of focus is being given to knowing our enemy.

Good & Evil pulling apart

Good & Evil pulling apart

Either the Spirit of Christ is thinking through us, or the enemy of our souls is calling the shots.  This is a silent battle, most of the time.  But when push comes to shove, we can feel like we are being torn apart.

Dustin Morgan experiences this phenomenon in the book “From Woodstock To Eternity” when he is offered a job to fly marijuana from Jamaica.

pro pilot

pro pilot

“When he made his confession of Christ, he entered into a

stack of money

stack of money

spiritual realm he didn’t know existed.  He received the Holy Spirit as an on-board Teacher to drive his conscience toward doing the right thing.  But unknown to him, he had another battalion of demons, commanded by their leader, Legion, who were determined to make him do the wrong thing.”


Making the choice

Making the choice

For all Christians, we have the amazing gift of an on board Teacher from Heaven.  All we have to do is ask for advice and we get it!  There is only one catch.  We have to be open to what the Holy Spirit says in order for it to do us any good.  It doesn’t work when we allow ourselves to hang on to old desires.  If we are not willing to abandon our own inclinations, Legion is more than willing to step in.

So the choice is ours.  It all depends on who we appoint to call the shots.

angels in heaven

The Teacher from Heaven



demons in hell

The Tempter from you know where

Angels In Our Lives


Does God Physically Intervene in our Lives?

In Psalm 91, God says he will deliver us from pestilence, plague, attacks from our enemies, and guide us in such a way that we will avoid all these things.  We don’t know how he does it.  It’s invisible to us in a spiritual realm.  The Bible talks about His right hand and the Spirit doing mighty works, but it also says a lot about angels.

Psalm 91:11-12   For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.  In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

This sounds so out of bounds, that people use this as a reason to call the Bible a “book of fairy tales,” and so on.  Many, if not most Christians, find it hard to believe these extra – terrestrial beings are real and have any tangible influence in our activities.

In “From Woodstock To Eternity,” Dustin Morgan has a few encounters with the other realm, so to speak, and God’s hand is introduced throughout the book, showing that He has always been there to bring Dustin around.  In one hair raising incident, he is about to crash his pot laden plane into the trees when God calls two angels to go to his aid.

Up in the heavenly Control Room, Jesus is watching all this and shaking His head.  He calls two of His angels, Clarence and Fred, and explains their assignment to them.

“Do you see Dustin down there, getting ready to crash into those trees?  He’s really been

a hard nut to crack.  I saved him back in Texas, but he’s making it awfully hard on himself.  Legion’s got him all twisted up in knots.  Now, I’ve got a plan for his life, and he can’t kill himself before he accomplishes it, so I’m going to have to send you two down there to help him out.  Clarence, you’ve done some of this kind of work before, but you’re going to need Fred here for backup.”

Now, this is probably not exactly how it happened, but Morgan’s plane did regain engine power, and it did fly over the trees.  The problem with so many of the inexplicable things in our lives is that we don’t know if it was God, or an angel, or what.  But there is a key to gaining access to Him

Ask – Seek – Knock                                 More about this later.