Category Archives: New Releases

What the Riddle of the Magi Reminds Me to See

Good morning, friends! I’m taking a short break from the Gospel of Matthew series this week, as I am:

  1. On tour with 1:11 Ministries, celebrating the birth of Jesus through our production ADORE HIM; and
  2. Releasing a novel today! Today is the day Book 3 in The Prophet Trilogy, BELOVED, enters the wider world. I’d be honored if you checked it out.

If you need to catch up on the Matthew series, today is a great day to do it. But in keeping with the season, I thought this would be a good time to revisit one post in particular: the arrival of the Magi.

As I wrote there:

We celebrate it every Christmas, but the arrival of the Magi is one of the most strange, mysterious, and prophetically fraught events in the birth narrative of Jesus Christ. There’s so much Matthew never explains about these men: he calls them “magoi” in Greek, Magi or wise men as it’s sometimes translated. They were Gentiles “from the east,” who claimed they had seen a star rise that announced the birth of the king of the Jews, and they had come to worship him.

On every possible level, this is a strange story. Like everything else in Matthew, its surface simplicity lies over a reality full of riddles: this is layered, and the deeper we go, the stranger and more wonderful and revelatory the story becomes . . .

To me, the Magi are a reminder that much of reality is a riddle, that the truth is something deeper and more wonderful than we can necessarily see on the surface. They remind me that to understand what is in front of me, I need more than the sight of my eyes. I need divine revelation and guidance, imperfect though my understanding of it may be, the kind that comes from Daniel, the kind that comes from following a star.

The infant in Bethlehem did not look like a king when the Magi found him, yet they recognized him for what he was. Today the King still chooses to cloak himself, to remain hidden and gentle so that people may seek him, find him, come to him. We too need divine sight to see who he truly is.

Read the rest of the post here.

And as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. What do you see in the story of the Magi? Leave a comment or come join the conversation on Facebook.

Character Spotlight: Flora and Rechab

Yesterday I posted an intro to two of The Prophet Trilogy’s major characters: the prophets, Kol Abaddon and Alack. But for a lot of readers, it’s the women who are the stars of the series.

Faithful reader and Amazon reviewer describes Flora Laurentii Infortunatia (aka “Flora the Unlucky”):

Flora, a wealthy woman who befriends Rechab, is my favorite. She is introduced as a powerful, smart, savvy woman, but her vulnerability unfurls with the story. She is a seeker, a lover of God who fears she cannot be fully accepted by Him because she is not of The People. She’s a flawed character with great strengths and a beautiful heart.

Flora, a foreigner who lives in the Sacred Land, is patterned after biblical characters like Ruth and Rahab–women from pagan nations who sought after God. In the fantasy setting of The Prophet Trilogy, she descends from nations patterned after Rome and the biblical nation of Moab. Twice widowed, Flora has inherited vast wealth which she now manages as a capable businesswoman–but only with half a heart, as she seeks God as a pilgrim in an ascetic community where her wealth and beauty are viewed with suspicion.

Photo by TLV and more
Photo by TLV and more

In ABADDON’S EVE, Flora crosses paths with the young woman Rechab, whose father has sold her into a marriage with a pagan priest. Flora’s rescue of Rechab brings both of them into conflict with the terrifying priests of the Hill People and sends their lives spinning in directions neither expected.

While Flora struggles with issues of identity and acceptance, Rechab must find a way to overcome her fears–and the responsibility of the power and wealth bestowed on her by Flora. Her newfound devotion to the Great God, she determines, will be the key to rising above the challenges of her new life.

But for both women, the conflict of The Prophet Trilogy will ask more of them than they dreamed.

Beloved Sidebar Size

 

BELOVED, the finale of The Prophet Trilogy, releases Dec 15, 2015. Help me celebrate its release by entering to win a free Kindle loaded with some of my favorite Christian fantasy novels.

The giveaway ends Dec 8, so jump in now!

Character Spotlight: Kol Abaddon and Alack

What would it have been like to be an Old Testament prophet–someone who shares both God’s heart for his people and a terrible message of coming judgment?

That question helped kick off The Prophet Trilogy, and it also inspired the character of Kol Abaddon.

sunrise israel desert photo
Photo by TLV and more

His real name has been forgotten. He goes only by Kol Abaddon–the Voice of Destruction. He lives in the desert wilderness of the Sacred Land, where he sees visions, reads stars, and cries out at night.

Kol Abaddon both terrifies and inspires the villagers of the Sacred Land–including Alack, a young shepherd boy who is beginning to have visions of his own.

When he sees a terrible army marching on his homeland, Alack decides to venture out and follow Kol Abaddon, becoming an apprentice prophet in the hope that he can turn judgment around.

Both characters continue to develop in COMES THE DRAGON, where the mysterious layers of Kol Abaddon’s past–and his nighttime torments–begin to be revealed.

Comes the Dragon ecoverKol Abaddon has been a fascinating character to write. In many ways he is the voice of God–and yet he is far from perfect, and as Alack begins to discover in COMES THE DRAGON. In fact, his own bitterness over past tragedy may be preventing him from delivering the message of God in its fullness–

A message that is both one of warning and one of hope.

Alack, by contrast, is a young man with a tender heart. He loves his people, he loves his homeland, he loves Rechab–whom he must leave behind in order to follow the prophet–and he is beginning to love his God. In the trilogy, Alack comes face-to-face with evil, with good, and with a destiny he does not want and could not have imagined.

Beloved Sidebar Size

 

BELOVED, the finale of The Prophet Trilogy, releases Dec 15, 2015. Help me celebrate its release by entering to win a free Kindle loaded with some of my favorite Christian fantasy novels.

The giveaway ends Dec 8, so jump in now!

Behind the Prophet Trilogy

BELOVED, Book 3 in The Prophet Trilogy, releases in just two weeks. As I wrap up a series that has come to mean a lot to me, I wanted to share where it came from.

Comes the Dragon ecoverOf course, no book comes from one thing alone. Stories develop when a lot of smaller streams flow together into something that develops a current and carves out a place for itself.

The Prophet Trilogy came out of years of reading and studying the Bible, with a more recent spate of studying the OT prophets more intensely. (I got tired of never knowing what they were talking about, so I started reading commentaries.)

It also came out of the popular trend these days of expecting Jesus to return imminently or else expecting judgment to come.

I do of course realize that Jesus may return at any moment and that judgment may, in fact, come. But it bothers me a little that we seem to see that as the first option, rather than the last.

Beloved Sidebar SizeSometimes I feel like we are quicker to shake our heads and pronounce doom on our society than we are to actually PRAY for it, to believe that God is a God of mercy and compassion, long-suffering and slow to anger, who is not willing that any should perish but wants all to come to the saving knowledge of Christ.

Maybe it’s easier to believe in a God who can send earthquakes and economic catastrophes than it is to believe in a God who can change hearts — who can turn a whole cultural tide through a few faithful people who pray, and sow, and speak the truth.

It was while mulling over all of that one day that I read the book of Joel, one of the OT minor prophets. Joel is full of extremely detailed, terrifying visions of a judgment to come, vivid and assured. Read it in the King James: who can stand before the power of all those “shalls”?

But what particularly struck me was that AFTER these predictions, we read this:

“Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him?” (Joel 2:12-14, KJV).

Those verses are the heart of The Prophet Trilogy. I started thinking about what it would be like to have received those prophecies of Joel’s, but then to have that challenge: No matter how sure these prophecies sound, God may yet change course if we do.

Abaddon's Eve ebook coverThe characters in the trilogy all have this prophecy of doom hanging over their heads, but they respond in different ways.

The two “prophets,” Kol Abaddon and his apprentice, Alack, are very different in how they deal with it. Alack becomes a prophet in the first place because he wants to save his people. If there’s any hope at all of turning the tide, he wants to help do it. So he comes at the whole thing with hope right from the start.

By contrast, Kol Abaddon (whose name means “Voice of Destruction”) dismisses any idea that things will change and the judgment be held off. Over the course of the story, it becomes clear that Kol Abaddon’s certainty of this comes out of his own heart — for personal reasons, he wants judgment to come.

It’s not until he’s willing to save his people that he begins to realize the Great God is willing to do so as well.

hope photo

If you haven’t yet read The Prophet Trilogy, start with Book 1, ABADDON’S EVE. The other two books are COMES THE DRAGON and BELOVED (coming tomorrow!). I hope you enjoy them!

12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing: “This book is like getting five self-help books in one.”

Fatal Flaws FINAL ebook coverWell, it’s a banner month for book releases! 5 Editors Tackle the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing released yesterday and is #1 in the Writing Reference category. Positive reviews are racking up as well. THANK YOU to everyone who preread the book and reviewed it. You are the best!

If you’re a writer, I encourage you to check this book out. Its unique format makes it almost a workshop-in-a-book. One Amazon reviewer said, “This book is like getting five self-help books in one.”

Another reviewer mentioned that most of the principles in the book hold true even if you’re writing nonfiction. This is true. Good writing and storytelling tend to follow common lines across genres.

If you want a sneak peak (or four), check out some of these guests I recently did for writing blogs:

And to those of you working on your own books and stories: I wish you all the success in the world!