The final manuscript for Fighting the Good Fight is done (hurray!). I sent it to the publisher last week, and, if all goes according to plan, it should be released around Christmas. In this final installment of the Race trilogy, the Strider family becomes embroiled in the Final Battle. You can read a sample of it here.
Two more additions to the Race series are in the works. I’m currently writing The Making of a Demon, which explores the question of how an intelligent, perfect being could go bad. This novella-length e-book will go back to the time of Stan’s rebellion and follow Camille as she transitions from holy to evil. Running Into the Next Generation, still in the concept stage, will be an e-book collection of short stories taken from the lost years between the second and third books.
This long-awaited sequel to The Race: An Allegory follows ultra distance runners Chris and Susana Strider as they balance running with the demands of family and career. Their lives are further complicated by the continuing attacks of their ruthless enemy, who is determined to prevent the Striders from fulfilling their roles in Doug Damour’s preparations for the Final Battle.
The book is available on Amazon now (link here). The electronic version will be released soon.
Keep an eye out for the final installment in the Race trilogy, Fighting the Good Fight,which follows the Strider family through the tumultuous Final Battle. Due to be released in December, 2015!
Some Readers’ Reactions to The Race:
This book was amazing!!!! And it’s so true too. In my school we are doing a lot of Bible related things and this book helped me look at the assignments with a different understanding. This book is so inspiring … This was definitely one of my FAVORITE books!!!! I can’t wait for the second one to be released!!!!!! (Mackenzie on Google Books)
This is truly a LOVE story in all aspects. What a creative and simple way to show God’s love for me. (CGil on Barnes & Noble)
Della Loredo does a fantastic job with this modern-day allegory. Being an athlete and runner myself, I appreciated all the correlations of running a long-distance race to our relationship with God. Many visualizations have continued to come to my mind and prove to be a positive reminder of connecting with God throughout each day. (Lisa on Amazon)
I simply loved this book; I could not put it down. Thank you for the allegorical view presented in comparison to the relationship and love God longs to have with us. I have a new desire to renew my relationship with Christ and I am more determined now, by God’s grace and mercy, to finish the race. (MMosley on Amazon)
This book made me think about my Christian walk and my relationship with God in a fresh, new way. As is portrayed in the story, God loves us soooo much and desires a personal relationship with us. We all need to be reminded of this and foster it in our lives. (Randy on Amazon)
Every so often a book comes along that makes this journey better. Equips with tools that you remember and use, challenges in a way you never would have expected and is wrapped in a story you can’t put down. This is one of those books. This story will stay with you long after the last page has been turned. (Connie on Amazon)
Keeping the Faith: Still Runningis getting closer to the finish line! As you can see, it now has a cover design and a layout. We’ve reviewed and revised the galley and text draft; that leaves only the final text proof before it can be printed.
I’ve received a lot of good feedback from my Early Readers for the trilogy’s final installment, Fighting the Good Fight. My goal for this month will be to work these changes into the manuscript and give it a good polishing before submitting it to the publisher. We’re hoping to have it released by Christmas!
I’m happy to report that Keeping the Faith: Still Running (the second book in the Race trilogy) appears to be on schedule for release in July! It has sailed through the editing phase at the publisher without requiring any major rewrites. This means that, barring any theological mishaps found by the reviewing pastor, the story itself has been finalized. (Sample the book here!) The book now moves into the design phase where it will pick up a snazzy cover design, possibly merit a new book title, and will be typeset.
As to the final book in the Race trilogy,Fighting the Good Fight, I’ve distributed it to my intrepid band of Early Readers, who are great at helping me find ways of making the story better.
On the drafting table is a prequel for the Race trilogy, which I’m presently calling The Making of a Demon. In this story, I’m examining the question of how a pure, holy, and happy being like Kamíl Lanáj could have become the ruthless, tormented, and lonely demon, Camille Desmon. I expect this to be a shorter, novella-length book, and I intend to make it available as a free e-book.
I was five or six years old when my big brother set the kitchen on fire. At least, that’s how it looked to me.
Terry was babysitting my little brother, Scott, and me when he decided to make popcorn. Now, in those long-ago days before microwaves, popcorn wasn’t an everyday snack; it was a treat. It required a heavy skillet, hot oil, and a lid (he forgot the lid once; that was entertaining). Then you had to stand at the stove and vigorously shake the pan for some time so the popping corn wouldn’t burn.
And if you happened to shake a little too vigorously so that the flame and the oil mixed—voila, fire! Then if you panicked and put the fiery pan in the sink, lighting the kitchen curtains in the process—voila, more fire!
Scott and I were eagerly watching this whole production. When the kitchen curtains caught fire, we thought the whole kitchen was on fire, and we ran for safety. And where do small children go when they run for safety? You got it—under the bed.
Of course, everything turned out fine. Terry put out the fire, my mother sewed new curtains for the kitchen, and our parents took advantage of the teachable moments. Now we all laugh about the incident.
Hiding from fire—and from firefighters, dressed in their big, strange-looking suits—is common for children. In fact, firefighters can have difficulty finding them as a result. But, of course, it does no good to hide from fire. In fact, it’s dangerous. The fire will find you.
This truth is obvious to adults. At least, it’s obvious when discussing fire. Yet we do exactly this when it comes to sin. We commit some sin and then, scared by guilt or shame, we try to hide—from the sin and/or from God. Sometimes we even try to hide with our pet sin, like a child playing with matches in the closet.
But hiding from sin or with sin will burn us every time. The fiery consequences will find us, no matter where we hide. And trying to hide from God when we’ve sinned is exactly like a child hiding from a scary-looking firefighter—it cuts us off from the only person who can rescue us.
Instead, Acts 26:20 advises us to:
“Repent” – 1 John 1:9 tells us that God will surely forgive us if we confess our sins to Him
“Turn to God” – Amos 5:6 advises us to “seek the Lord and live” (NKJV), while Acts 17:27 promises that “He is not far from each one of us.”
“Do works befitting repentance” – Because God’s “divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3, NIV), we don’t have to remain cowering in the closet while the fire of sin burns our house down. By God’s power, we can “escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” and even “participate in the divine nature” (v. 4). How’s that for a rescue?
Just a quick update for those waiting — oh, so patiently — for the sequel to The Race. I’ve just received word from TEACH Services that Still Running has been accepted for publication. I don’t yet have any more information on when it will go to press, etc.
Some have asked about the third and final book in the trilogy. Yes, it’s true — the draft for Fighting the Good Fight is complete. However, it still needs to go to my intrepid band of Early Readers (otherwise known as beta testers). It will undoubtedly need revisions based on their feedback before it will be ready for the real world.
Quick: What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when I say “Balaam”?
Sold out God’s people?
This is generally how we remember him. But we sometimes forget that Balaam was actually a prophet of God. Yes, a real prophet! In fact, he was so accustomed to talking to the Almighty that he confidently expected Him to show up when petitioned (see Numbers 22:8).
True, we don’t actually know much about Balaam before his “little” slip-up. But consider other Old Testament prophets, like Isaiah, Daniel, and Hosea, who we do know better. These were clearly devoted men, courageous men of integrity, and men zealous for God’s honor. So don’t you think Balaam was once such a man too?
What happened to change him?
In his second letter, Peter discusses the case of some false teachers who “have wandered off the right road and followed the footsteps of Balaam” (2 Peter 2:15, NLT). Notice two things. First, they were once on the right road! Second, the word “wander,” which reminds us that we usually fall into sin’s greedy clutches gradually, perhaps without even realizing where we’re going.
But how, exactly, does one meander away from the right road? In verse 14, Peter very helpfully lays out the course that led to these people’s downfall:
They accommodated sin: “They commit adultery with their eyes.” These men didn’t commit outright adultery, but they allowed themselves some questionable thoughts. They gave sin a little place in their minds—just an attic at first, mind you. But it has a way of stretching out and making itself comfortable. That’s why Paul urges us to “set your minds on things above” (Colossians 3:2, NKJV)—don’t give sin so much as a doormat to call its own.
They nurtured sin: “Their desire for sin is never satisfied.” This is an active seeking after evil—the ESV says they’re “insatiable for sin,” and the NIV says, “they never stop sinning.” Like skilled gardeners, these men watered and fertilized and sang to their corrupt desires. They encouraged sin’s growth rather than claiming the freedom from sin that God offers when we accept His strength and apply His promises (2 Peter 1:4; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Romans 12:2).
They shared sin: “They lure unstable people into sin.” Just like misery, sin loves company. We think it validates our opinion when others agree with us. It also makes our nagging consciences harder to hear.
Sin trained them: “They are well trained in greed.” Notice the grammatical shift here. “Are well trained” is no longer an active verb; instead, it has switched to passive voice. In other words, the person is not acting, but being acted upon. Sin is taking over. Getting comfortable. Ordering take-out.
Sin claimed them: “They live under God’s curse.” Sin is “the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4), and disobedience of any natural law has unpleasant consequences. However, even at this stage, we don’t have to remain sin’s slaves! “Christ came that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24, NIV).
Simply by virtue of our status as inhabitants of Planet Earth, every single one of us can fall into this vortex of destruction. If Balaam, prophet of God, was vulnerable, we normal folk are too. Every time we cast a flirtatious glance at our pet sin, every time we ask it for a little dance around the room, every time we agree to “just a little longer,” we are giving it more power over us.
But sin does reward our interest—with the gift of spiritual cataracts. Darkness gradually settles over us, so slowly that we don’t realize we’re going blind. Eventually we can’t even see things that are clear to an ass; an angel sent directly from God Himself won’t impress us.
Yet we have a choice. We can say “Enough!”
Then Christ will “set [us] free from sin,” purchasing our liberty with His very blood. “The benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life” (Romans 6:22, NIV).
What an amazing transaction! Who would even dream up such a trade?
Every Christian I’ve ever known, no matter how sincere, devoted, or experienced, has had times when they feel as though their connection with God has gotten a bit staticky. Often they relate these periods with a great deal of frustration.
But what might this dark time feel from God’s perspective? I love this passage from one of my all-time favorite devotionals:
There is a day coming when you will say, “I have waited in vain for the Lord.” You will wait for Me to speak, and you will hear only the whistling of the wind. But I tell you now, I am never silent, you are deaf. I am always speaking; but I do not find your ear attuned to listen.
You will sit alone in a desolate place and grieve in your loneliness; but it will not be that I have left you, but that you have become insensitive to My presence. Yes, if you ignore My personal nearness and fellowship and if you do not return My overtures, your perceptions will become dull; you will not be able to discern Me even though I am near at hand — even though My love for you is still as strong as before …
It is the intention of My heart to fellowship with you closely. I am turned away by your unresponsiveness; by your preoccupation with things and with people; by your thoughtlessness and indifference.
Some have lost Me by the sin of rebellion; but I warn you that you may lose Me by the subtle way of simple inattention. Confess your coldness, and draw near to Me; and I will make My personal presence real to you again. I will hold you close to My heart, and you will hear My voice. (Come Away My Beloved, Frances J. Roberts, pp 188-189)
So when our prayers seem to be answered only by the whistling wind, perhaps the best thing we can do is look around to see what’s drowning out God’s voice.
Imagine this: You’re the head elder in a church that’s really on fire—growing, praising God, sharing the Word. One day some folks from a sister church move to the community and join your congregation. They fit right in. They’re strong in the faith and don’t mind working—just the sort of members every pastor loves.
You begin to notice little whispering groups forming in the lobby between services—groups that suddenly go silent when someone else approaches. It turns out that your new members have brought something with them: “new truth.”
New truth has taken many forms through the ages. When Martin Luther rediscovered salvation by faith, it was considered “new truth.” For that matter, when Jesus said, “Love your enemies,” His listeners considered it “new truth.” Yet others have claimed the same appellation for odd little quirks like “Real Christian men don’t have long hair,” “Real Christians don’t eat meat,” or even “Drums are of the Devil.”
So what do you do? These new members have Bible passages to back up their claim, and you don’t want to ignore it if it’s truly of God. But it’s just not clear that it is.
Finally, your pastor calls an elder’s meeting. But even after discussing the problem thoroughly, the answer isn’t clear. Eventually the group decides to send delegates, including you, to church headquarters to decide the issue.
Your group packs up and heads out. It’s a long road trip that will entail several days travel, but you’ve arranged to stay with some church brethren along the way.
Here’s the question: What do you talk about with those brethren?
This may sound like a silly question, but think about it for a minute. You’re sitting down to dinner in your host’s home—perhaps a man you’ve known forever, a man you’ve probably even done some outreach with. You’re tired from the long, difficult trip. (Oh, did I forget to mention? Cars haven’t been invented yet—you have to walk the whole way.) Your blisters are wondering if the trip was even necessary, and you’re probably wishing the guy who started the controversy back home had just kept his big mouth shut.
Then this old friend hands you a warm bowl of lamb stew and says, “So, Paul, I hear you’re at Antioch these days. What’s going on up there? Anything interesting happening?
How do you respond? Do you take the opportunity to unburden to your friend? Maybe to drum up some support for your side of the controversy?
I think most of us would. We might say something like, “Oh, man—everything was going really great until some believers from Judea showed up. They’ve got this bug in their ear about circumcision, and now the whole church is riled up.”
Wouldn’t that be the natural thing to do?
But it’s not what Paul did. He never even mentioned the controversy that sent him trudging off to Jerusalem in the first place. He and his group only exposed that to the council of elders in Jerusalem (Acts 15:4). But as they traveled, they spent their time “describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren” (Acts 15:3, NKJV).
Instead of seeding doubt and dissension on their way to Jerusalem, Paul and his fellow travelers left a trail of joy. They chose the course Paul later recommended to other believers: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4).
Now, some people seem to have a natural bent toward perennial cheerfulness, but I don’t think Paul was in that category. Philippians 4:11 tells us that he had to learn to be content in all situations. Maybe this was even part of the struggle he describes in Romans 7.
And that’s good news for those of us who don’t praise God as much as we should, as often we’d like, or to everyone we meet. If Paul learned to rejoice in everything everywhere, we can too.
“Every day I will bless You.
And I will praise Your name forever and ever” (Psalm 145:2)