Monthly Archives: October 2012
TONIGHT — BOOK SIGNING
Come out and snag a copy of “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” at First Baptist Church Orlando book store.
530 PM- 830 PM Tonight
9 AM- 1230 PM Sunday
See you there!!!
I have posted about my father before at this link and this link. He was a unique man who loved life and loved attention and loved the stage. He spent all of my life singing as a bivocational music minister. He was joined on many occasions by my mother and her strong alto. I grew up listening to music and singing along with my parents.
When my father moved from assisted living to the nursing home end of “The Oaks of Louisiana” he was 95 and he was worried he would fade away; lose his identity. He was so afraid no one would know him. Well, he was so wrong. For, my father up until the week he died sang constantly for the workers and occupants of his wing of the nursing home. Just a year ago, he won first prize in a talent show at the assisted living end of his location for dressing as a woman and singing with three other men dressed as women. You see, my father would do just about anything in order to have the opportunity to sing!
In fact, he sang at his own funeral and anyone who knew Slayton Hennigan would have nodded and known instantly this was typical for him. So, I want to share with you a wonderful presentation from our Associate Pastor and Minister of Senior Adults at Brookwood Baptist Church, John Harp. John asked me for my father’s Bible. But, my father, unlike my mother, did not write in his Bible. But, he had a box of sheet music he had collected over his entire lifetime. I gave the box of music to John and this is what he came up with. It was wonderful and exhilarating and a fantastic testimony to my father’s life. I hope you enjoy it:
Funeral Service for DANIEL SLAYTON HENNIGAN
October 15, 2012 2:00 PM
MINISTER 1 – Rev. Gary Palmer
Segue’ – Thank you Gary. Slayton loved music. He loved to sing … especially songs of faith. He took advantage of many family gatherings to demonstrate this by singing the song, “There is Coming a Day”. Sit back and enjoy this recording of Slayton and join me in looking forward to the happy day of reunion with our loved ones in eternity.
SONG – “There Is Coming A Day” – CD
MINISTER 2 – Rev. John Harp
There is indeed coming a day when the downside of loving and grief will be past-tense. Until then, we consider it worth the price to embrace our families and friends and let the warmth of life together keep us steady in a fulfilling life together.
Slayton was born June 13, 1914 in Saline, LA to William and Lillie Hennigan. He professed his faith in Jesus Christ at the age of 11. He married Lena on July 27, 1935. She was 16 and he was 21. He told me on 07/27/04 that when he first saw Lena he said to himself, “She has all the right stuff in all the right places.” They enjoyed 69 years as husband and wife, ending only at her home-going on August 4, 2004.
Slayton was a Postal office worker until his retirement. He demonstrated his passion for music and worship by leading music in churches for 38 years. He lived in Blanchard for many of those years and led music at the First Baptist Church of Blanchard.
He played the guitar and loved watching the Grand ‘Ole Opry. He truly had an entertainer’s blood flowing through his veins. He enjoyed fishing and cooked the best fish on the Coleman propane Camp-stove.
Slayton was a “handy-man” too. He excelled in “rigging!” He was of the school that thought duct-tape could fix anything. He practiced his skill with his own flair. Every bathroom faucet he changed out gave HOT water through the handle marked “C” and COLD water through the one marked “H”!
I became Associate Pastor at Brookwood 12 years ago, and seven years ago Slayton joined me in making several hospital visits. I was inspired because he then was 91 and still interested in serving God in some way. That impressed me.
You said it well when you wrote, “Mr. Hennigan was a devoted husband, daddy, papaw, Great-grandpaw, and great-great-grandpaw. He loved to sing and entertain family and friends.”
I mentioned Slayton’s love for music a moment ago. He had song after song after song copied for use. However, not all of his singing was songs of faith. He had some interesting titles like …
- “Blue Yodel No.6”
- “Blue Yodel No.7”
- “Blue Yodel No.8”
- “Blue Yodel No.9”
- “Blue Yodel No.10”
- “Blue Yodel No.11”
- “The Bull-Dog on The Bank”
His music does tell much of his life. The clear majority of his music was songs that told a story … the story of faith. Slayton’s faith story began much the way ours does, with an awareness of God reaching into our world through His Son, Jesus Christ. How many times did we hear him burst forth in song, “O Holy Night”?
From the Bethlehem birthplace, Slayton, at age 11, journeyed and knelt at the foot of Jesus’ cross and pledged his faith in Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior. That was a day he never forgot and gave direction for his life’s journey, one of love and praise to his Savior. We heard the passion in his voice as he sang, “A Hill Called Mount Calvary,” a song that heralded his statement of Faith.
From that day forward, Slayton’s life had a theme. The love he had for you and me, was firm because its foundation was a righteous love for his Savior. With all the beauties of the world, he kept balance in an upright perspective. “I’d Rather Have Jesus” he clearly marked in another song book. We can say of him that he kept choosing Jesus through his whole life.
Just as he kept choosing Jesus, he chose to keep “Standing on the Promises” of God (#335) for daily living. God spoke truths in His Word, and Slayton believed them and lived in their benefit. As a result, his affection for Jesus continued to grow. It is no wonder that he prized the hymns “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” (#448) and “I Need Thee Every Hour” (#450).
Lest you think that the Christian life is just a humble dependency on our Lord, you must realize that is simply the foundation from which the believer in Christ is able to have joy beyond the circumstances and see the glory beyond the grief. Slayton embraced this truth and shared it strongly when he belted out the hymn, “Because He Lives”! Looking forward in such a way guided the path for a sweet, deep joy in service to God for the good of others around him. The joy seemed to deepen with maturity. As years evolved into decades, Slayton found truth in the hymn, “The Longer I Serve Him the Sweeter He Grows.”
As the years progressed, so did the genre’ of the musical theme. With feet firmly planted in this world, his heart began to dwell more on his future hope of heaven. Several hymns began to carry a deeper meaning and growing affection. Hymns like “Mansion Over the Hilltop”, “I’ll Fly Away”, and “The Holy City”.
Witnessing first hand this glorious anticipation Slayton owned, I understand better why he chose as special the hymn of question, “How Long Has It Been?”
How long has it been since you talked with the Lord
And told him your heart’s hidden secrets
How long since you prayed how long since you stayed
On your knees till the light shone through
How long has it been since your mind felt at ease
How long since your heart knew no burden
Can you call him your friend how long has it been since you knew that he cared for you?
Surely that is the question for us today. Do you know that Jesus cares for you? Do you know that he gave his life to give you a chance to receive eternal life? Do you know that He cares for you? If you don’t you can discover God’s love today.
“In Times Like These”
If you do know God’s great love for you then you can join Slayton and all the redeemed in some of the great songs of hope that celebrate God’s great love for us and His eternal home for us.
Songs like … “How Great Thou Art” and “I’ll Meet You in the Morning”. But I think my favorite for Slayton is “Where We’ll Never Grow Old” because at 98 he can say, “Been there; done that!”
I want to leave you with God’s Word from Philippians 4.8-9. Paul writes these encouraging words from his heart to ours …“Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about these things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Indeed, may God’s peace be on you all!
Wherein many loose threads are tied together.
Between the death of my father at age 98 and the launch of my second book, “The 12th Demon”, the past week has proved to be very busy so I will be doing a one day review of “The Spirit Well”, Stephen R. Lawhead’s latest book in his five book series, “A Bright Empires Novel”.
First, let me say that if you have not read the first two books, you WILL find yourself scrambling around trying to make sense of the story. There is an introduction of the characters in the beginning of the book that does give you a sense of the events that have transpired in the prior two books and is indispensable in making sense of the current story, even if you have read both books. However, if you have read the first two books, this book will begin to bring things together in a much more coherent narrative.
Second, Stephen Lawhead has done a masterful job in creating this believable world, or more appropriately, worlds connected by “ley” lines. His attention to historical details, his use of period language, and his inclusion of the particular behavior of certain historical periods is spot on. To read this book is to savor each and every world.
Third, Stephen Lawhead has finally brought together some diverging, or as it turns out, converging story lines. For instance, in the first book, “The Skin Map”, Kit and Mina are instantly separated into two parallel worlds and disparate times only to meet briefly in the second book before once again losing each other. But, in the “The Spirit Well”, Kit and Mina through no device or their own find themselves reunited. Mina has grown considerably into a self sufficient, crafty person and Kit has managed to develop a strong self assurance and a “six pack” to go with his bulging biceps!
Fourth, Stephen Lawhead begins to reveal the truth behind the existence of the “ley” lines and the ultimate purpose behind their existence. I don’t want to ruin it for the reader but it has to do with “perfecting creation” through the growth and maturity of humanity, or reaching an “Omega” point. Personally, as an apologist, I have been waiting for a more obvious nod to the Christian worldview and in this book, Lawhead delivers. He discusses the “anthropic principle” and the role humanity plays in God’s metanarrative. Here is a wonderful discussion of how God operates by “always working through the small, the insignificant, the powerless — it seems to be sewn into the very fabric of the universe.”
“Over and over again, we see that when anyone willingly gives whatever resources they have to Him — whether it is nothing more than five smooth stones gathered from a dry streambed or five little loaves of bread and two dried sprats — then God’s greater purpose can proceed.”
Or, as the story manages to drive home over and over, “there is no such thing as coincidence.”
Fifth, Stephen Lawhead finally answers the question about the skin map. It is the singular goal of Lord Burleigh and his “Burly” men. The skin map will lead ultimately to the “well of souls” where immortality, youth, healing, resurrection can be found. The skin map was once tattooed on the chest of Arthur Flinders-Petrie. In this story, we discover how it came into the possession of his offspring and how it became a literal “skin map”.
Sixth, Stephen Lawhead introduces new characters and discloses the existence of a society dedicated to bringing together those who have the genetic ability to traverse ley lines. Here, in this new character of Cass and her attachment to the Zetetic Society, the connection to Kit and his grandfather, Cosimo from book one are illuminated. After reading this book, I am more excited than ever to read book four and five. The stage is set and this book brings so many, pardon the pun, parallel story lines together. I highly recommend the entire book series. Book three, “The Spirit Well” delivers the goods!
In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Book link – http://www.amazon.com/Spirit-Well-Bright-Empires/dp/1595548068/
Author Website – http://www.stephenlawhead.com/
Author Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/StephenRLawhead
Participants’ links: Be sure and check out these other reviews!
Thomas Clayton Booher
Thomas Fletcher Booher
http://home.earthlink.net/~wyverns/“> Emmalyn Edwards
http://projectinga.blogspot.com/“> April Erwin
http://vicsmediaroom.wordpress.com/“> Victor Gentile
http://christianfictionaddiction.blogspot.com/“> Jeremy Harder
http://fantasythyme.blogspot.com“> Timothy Hicks
http://thequietpen.wordpress.com/“> Janeen Ippolito
http://thewriterssword.blogspot.com/“> Becca Johnson
http://www.spoiledfortheordinary.blogspot.com/“> Jason Joyner
http://carolkeen.blogspot.com/“> Carol Keen
http://emileightherebuilder.blogspot.com/“> Emileigh Latham
http://blackanddarknight.wordpress.com/“> Rebekah Loper
http://www.shannonmcdermott.com/“> Shannon McDermott
http://www.bloomingwithbooks.blogspot.com/“> Meagan @ Blooming with Books
http://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/“> Rebecca LuElla Miller
http://annamittower.blogspot.com//“> Anna Mittower
http://www.bookwomanjoan.blogspot.com/“> Joan Nienhuis
http://blogginoutloud.blogspot.com/“> Lyn Perry
http://dadscancooktoo.com/“> Nathan Reimer
http://www.chawnaschroeder.blogspot.com/“> Chawna Schroeder
http://www.rachelstarrthomson.com/inklings/“> Rachel Starr Thomson
http://www.epictales.org/blog/robertblog.php“> Robert Treskillard
http://christiansf.blogspot.com/“> Steve Trower
http://www.fantasyandfaith.com“> Dona Watson
http://www.shanewerlinger.com/“> Shane Werlinger
http://christian-fantasy-book-reviews.com/blog/“> Phyllis Wheeler
If you live in the Shreveport area, I am launching my second book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” tonight.
Come to Brookwood Baptist Church coffee shop, the Well. We are at the corner of I49 and Bert Kouns. The event will be from 6 to 8 PM.
I am giving away an iPad3, a Kindle Fire HD, and two gift certificates that can go towards the NEW Nook tablet and the NEW Kindle Backlit Reader when they are available later this month.
And, Mark Sutton, former pastor of Brookwood Baptist Church will be present and we will be signing copies of “Conquering Depression” and sharing some exciting news about the future of our writing.
You can also pick up a copy of my first book, “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye”.
Each book is $10 and you can get all three for $25!
Hope to see you tonight!!!
Today, you can officially order copies of “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” both as an ebook and a traditional book.
Check out this interview with fellow author, Greg Mitchell, “The Coming Evil Trilogy” on his blog:
One week from today, on Friday, October 19, 2012 I will be launching my second book in “The Chronicles of Jonathan Steel”. If you are in the Shreveport area, I will holding a book launch at the coffee shop, the Well, of Brookwood Baptist Church at the corner of I-49 and Bert Kouns from 6 to 8 PM.
Here is the schedule:
6 to 645 PM Book signing and all snacks and drinks on the house
645 Drawing for prizes
7 – 8 Q&A session with Bruce Hennigan and Mark Sutton
Mark Sutton, my co-author on “Conquering Depression” and former pastor of Brookwood Baptist Church will be present and we will be signing copies of our book, “Conquering Depression”.
I will be signing copies of my latest book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” and copies of my first book, “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye”.
If you purchase any book, you will receive an entry card (for each book purchased). This card will be placed in a drawing for one of the following four prizes:
Kindle HD (Newest Kindle)
Kindle Backlit (Newest Kindle)
$100 Barnes & Noble Gift Card (Since the newest Nook isn’t available yet)
You MUST be present at the drawing to be eligible for a prize.
If you are in the Shreveport area and cannot make this book launch, I will be at our local Barnes & Noble on Halloween from 530 to 7 signing copies of “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon”. I will be dressed as a vampire. And, I will be reading an excerpt from the book.
If you are in the Orlando area, I will signing books at First Baptist Orlando on Saturday night, October 27th from 5 to 8 PM and on Sunday morning, October 28th from 9AM to Noon.
Come out and see me and together we will celebrate the Power in the Blood!
I stood at the top of the escalator and looked down into the white tiled corridor below. We were in London and we were about to descend into the “Tube”, the subway system under the streets of that fair city. But, this escalator leading down into the ground was terribly familiar. I closed my eyes and I was back in the theater thirty years before; alone, frightened and sweaty. On the big screen before me was the exact same escalator and corridor I now stood before. On the screen, a deep throated growl echoed around me and a creeping creature appeared at the base of the escalator with glowing eyes.
Later that same week my wife and I decided to walk the mile and half to her mother’s house. It was a pleasant day and we sauntered down the road past houses with nice front yards and spinning mobiles and flowerbeds bursting with color. And then, we passed in front of a densely wooded section. The wind kicked up and the sky was suddenly a deep purple. A storm was coming and the air was filled with the taint of ozone and rain.
We paused to look at the sky and decided to hurry on to her mother’s house before the bottom dropped out. As I stood there I heard a low growl come from behind me. I whirled and peered into the inky shadows of those woods. Something moved in there. Suddenly, I was back in that theater as the creature in the “Tube” attacked and killed an innocent bystander. It was a werewolf from “An American Werewolf in London”.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had a moment like that. We live in a reasonable, rational world. We know that things that go bump in the night are usually loose doors or changes in air pressure or perhaps a raccoon in the trashcan. But, at that moment, all reason left me. I was suddenly in the grip of unrelenting terror; a primal fear of the beast that waits to rip out our throats and tear us apart. I was paralyzed with fear and I KNEW there was a werewolf in the woods watching us. Crazy, huh? You’ve felt that kind of unreasoning fear, haven’t you?
Sherry touched my shoulder and I almost jumped out of my skin. I never told her about the encounter with the “werewolf”, only telling her we needed to hurry along before the rain fell. But, in reality, I wanted to scream my lungs out and run, run, run! Now, back in London. Standing there at the top of the escalator where the wolf in that movie ravaged an innocent man. For a moment, I felt the old fear, cold and clammy. Then, we moved on and for the rest of that trip, I tried to forget about an American werewolf in London.
I mentioned in my last post about my childhood. I had an interview with Greg Mitchell for his blog and it will be posted next week. During that interview, I mentioned my brother’s “hobby” of taxidermy. When I try and understand my unreasonable fear of werewolves and vampires, I can easily trace its origin to my brother’s taxidermy shop. It was filled with “mounted” animals standing, sitting, and hanging on the wall. They had these beady, shiny eyes that seemed to follow you around the room. And, there was all the offal on the floor; bones and muscle and flesh from skinned animals. No wonder I was scarred for life!
In my upcoming book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” I feature not only vampires but a werewolf or two. Just for good measure. I chose to throw a werewolf in because it scared me! I needed that edge while writing. I kept imagining the glowing eyes at the base of that escalator (go back and watch that scene – I dare you. It is terrifying!) and the shadowy beast in the wind tossed woods. That fear inspired my writing.
But, there is another reason I chose to include the werewolf. When the moon is full, a man will change from his rational, reasonable self into a hungry, uncontrolled beast. The next morning, he will awake with no memory of what happened the night before, just a gnawing sense of doom that he caused irreparable harm to someone during his nightly romp. I have a werewolf inside of me. There are events that set it free; moments of moonlight when the beast surges out of control. I tear into the tender throats of my friends and family; and, yes, my enemies. I leave them torn and bleeding on the side of the road. Then, I wake up and wonder why I did what I did. No matter how hard I regret my actions; no matter how passionately I ask for forgiveness the harm is done. Let’s face it. Even after receiving forgiveness for a heinous deed, the relationship is never the same with the offended. Something has changed in the doing of the deed. They look at you in the framework of the beast that they now see within. They stand at the top of the escalator or at the edge of the woods and see the eyes glowing within; the beast waiting hungry and ravenous.
There are lots of words that could describe the beast. In our Christian parlance we have the catchall word of “sin”. The truth is, the best word is our “fallen” nature. We are broken inside; damaged beyond repair because of our severance from the goodness of God. We are bitten by the wolf of rebellion and the wound festers and grows inward and the beast is now full grown; full blown waiting, waiting to be unleashed. In fantasy, there is no cure for the curse of the werewolf. Only the sweet oblivion of death at the expense of a sliver bullet.
But, in reality, we have hope. Our status can be restored. The beast can be tamed and conquered with the help of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He eclipses the moonlight of our soul and sooths the savage beast – tempering it, shushing it, controlling it. I am in need of a Savior. I know this every time I look into the mirror and see the shadow of the wolf.
I hope you will consider purchasing a copy of my new book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon”. The running theme throughout the story is one of forgiveness. How deeply can we go into the beast before we pass beyond the point of redemption? Is there a point of no return? Are we werewolves lashing out at the moonlight forever doomed to slash and tear at the world around us? Or, is there a sliver bullet that does not kill but redeems? The answers may surprise you.
If you are in the Orlando, Florida area, I will be signing copies of the book at First Baptist Orlando on Saturday, October 27 from 5 PM to 8 PM (after the evening service) and again on Sunday morning, October 28 from 9 AM to Noon (after the morning services). Come by and see me. I promise I won’t bite!
Oh, and if you are in Shreveport, I’m holding a book launch on Friday night October 19, 2012 at the coffee shop, the Well, at Brookwood Baptist Church from 6 to 8 PM. We’ll be giving away an iPad3, a Kindle HD, and a Kindle Backlit in a drawing for those who purchase a book. Come by and see us!
We are fascinated with the undead.
Why are we so fixated on vampires and werewolves and zombies? What is it about our culture that makes these icons of horror pop up all over the movie screens and the television screens?
My fascination with vampires began when I was 8. Every day I would come home from school and hunker down in front of the television with a bologna sandwich and a glass of chocolate milk to watch the 3:30 Dialing for Dollars Movie. The movie was always a badly edited down version of some horror or science fiction movie. And, in the middle of the movie, a man would show up with a wheel of fortune and a hopper full of phone numbers. He’d spin the wheel and give the viewer the “count, the amount, and the direction”. If he called your home number and you could successfully give him all three, you won the money.
But, I wasn’t interested in the money. I was interested in the show. It was a cold October afternoon when I first watched Bela Lugosi as Dracula. His eyes were so mesmerizing. Now, I can appreciate the lighting and the camera angle that gave him such a hauntingly hypnotic look. But at the time, I hid behind the chair. I did not dare to look into his eyes! And, those fangs! Yikes!
That evening after supper, I went out into the front yard to play in the fading sunlight. I stood in our front yard and gazed down the long strip of our 62 acres of land toward the setting sun. It was one of those brutally brilliant sunsets filled with bloody orange and crimson. The cold chill settled into my bones and I was transfixed by the sight of that sunset. A voice whispered across the yard. I turned away from the sunlight. No one was there. The voice returned now, more strident and demanding. This time it came from the highway that ran in front of our house.
I squinted in the darkening light and there across the highway at the edge of a dense woods stood a dark figure at the edge of shadows. His face was pale and glowing from a stray ray of the setting sun. He was dressed in a long black coat and his dark hair was plastered back from his forehead.
I was paralyzed with fear, rooted to the ground by this wraithlike figure. He spoke again in a raspy voice and I could not understand him. My heart raced with fear and finally my feet tore themselves from the ground. I ran across the yard to my front door afraid that at any moment those taloned hands would grasp me and those fangs would sink into my neck.
After investigating, my father later told me the man was a hunter in the woods across the highway and had gotten lost. He was only asking for directions. Yeah, right! How subtle and deceptive are the vampires! I believed for a long time that man had hypnotized my father. And, it would be months before I would go out into the front yard at sunset. In fact, that night, I whittled a wooden stake out of some scrap wood and put a shaker of garlic salt by my bed. It was the only garlic we had in the house. I took a piece of paper and drew a huge cross on it and pinned it to my pajamas right over my heart before I went to bed.
I held the stake by my side along with one of my father’s hammers. I was prepared. My bedroom window looked out over the front yard and we had no curtains to screen me from the horrors of the front yard.
I did not encounter a vampire that night. I have to believe the stake and the garlic salt and the cross protected me. But, my fertile imagination grew that chance encounter in my mind into a full blown horror of vampires. When it came time for me to write the second book in “The Chronicles of Jonathan Steel” I chose my favorite fascination with the macabre, vampires.
On October 16, 2012 my second book will be released, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon”. In my book, there is a historical thread that leads from 500 B. C. to the present. Along that thread, we see the bits and pieces of legend that combined in the 1800’s as the Dracula legend created by Bram Stoker. The vampire himself is Rudolph Wulf, a man in league with the “12th demon” and he has created a specially modified blood that gives his followers “vampire majick”. In the process they acquire a mark, the symbol of the “wolf dragon”. What is the wolf dragon? Well, pick up a copy of the book and you’ll find out.
If you live in the Shreveport, Louisiana area, I will be holding a book launch at Brookwood Baptist Church’s coffee shop, the Well on October 19th from 6 to 8 PM. BBC is located at the corner of I-49 and Bert Kouns. I will be giving away an iPad3, a Kindle HD, and the new Kindle backlit reader in a drawing of those who purchase a copy of “The 12th Demon”. I will be signing copies of my first book, “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye”. And, my co-author, Mark Sutton and I will be signing copies of our book, “Conquering Depression”. Coffee and snacks are on the house. We will be speaking on publishing and answering questions, so come by and join us.
And, leave the vampire in the parking lot!
I can’t sleep!
My back is acting up thanks to the trip to Nashville for Hutchmoot 2012 and having to sleep in two different beds from my own. So, my doctor put me on a 12 day steroid dose pack because I am traveling. Again. One week of work in my “day job” as a radiologist and then I was off this past Saturday to work with my co-author, Mark Sutton, on an upcoming update to our depression book.
But, the steroids may make my back better, but they keep me wide awake every night! I don’t mean restless and cat napping. Wide awake! The entire night!
So, I’m sitting here in my hotel room in Orlando at midnight wondering when the Tylenol PM is going to kick in! So, I thought I would share a profound event from my day. I decided that on Wednesday morning, since Mark would be prepping for a class to teach tonight and would be unavailable for writing that I would do something fun. Just for me.
I had seen the ads on the internet for months so I took a chance and, yes, they had an opening on Walt Disney World’s Wild Africa Trek. This is a three hour tour behind the scenes on the Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney Animal Kingdom. It involves a great deal of walking through narrow trails in the wooded areas around the animal’s homes. And, it involved climbing, leaning over a cliff or two, and crossing creaky rope bridges. I was thrilled! After all, what is a bad back compared to almost getting eaten by crocodiles.
I showed up at 1015 after taking care of bathroom duties (No restroom for 2 hours) and was zipped and tied into a harness by Devin and Eleanor (later switching to Elly as we got to know her!). Now, here is how it works. We follow our guides through winding, narrow trails in the jungle areas to a “cliff” overlooking animals. We’re clipped into a tether so we can “lean” out over the cliff to the animals below.
I must admit, even though the hippos are herbivores, watching the two hippos chomp down on cucumbers, melon, and bananas thrown to them by our guides gave me the heebie jeebies. Those molars and tusks looked rather dangerous. I guess the highlight of that little venture was when “Nacho” marked his territory with a “dung shower”. Yeah, it is what it is.
Next we arrived at the crocodile enclosure. Here, we had to cross two rope bridges complete with broken boards and holes in the side. Not to worry. We’re tethered in! But, I still felt a little creeped out as I passed over the 23 or so crocs napping just 15 feet below. Then, we were tethered on the “cliff” and just six feet below my leaning body was a huge croc as big as a banana boat! Not to worry! They only eat once a week. But, I was informed that if I fell in, they would bite me, kill me, and then hide my body for a snack later on!
After this perilous but thrilling part of the journey, we were loaded onto our own small open bed truck to drive around the savannah. We stopped and had ample opportunities to take pictures of giraffes, wildebeest, antelope, elephants, ostriches, rhinos, cheetahs, lions, and warthogs. The highlight of the day was arriving at our own private pavilion overlooking the entire savannah while we had lunch. It was so refreshing to sit down in a cool breeze and look out over the animals in the savannah. A great and wonderful adventure that I would highly recommend to anyone.
But, no journey is without its lessons. So, I want to share some of what I learned from this adventure.
Dung Showers — No matter how hard we try in life, there are times when we end up producing a “dung shower”. Nacho, the hippo expelled large quantities of his “refuse” and then would twirl his little tail around like a propeller slinging it in a wide arc to mark his territory. Whenever another male hippos would show up, they knew Nacho had been here!
I thought about how many times we get upset, arrogant, self-righteous, or downright indignant and we have our own “dung showers”. Of course, at the time, we don’t see what we did as “dung”. What we did was justified, righteous “anger”. The affect is just the same. The words, the demeanor, the ill spirit we leave behind among those who are showered is just as lasting. They will remember our outbursts and wicked behavior. In fact, I’m coining a new phrase, using myself. “Yeah, that Bruce Hennigan just hit me with a dung shower. The jerk!”
We mark our territories whether we intend to or not. Or words and actions have consequences and in a world where Christianity is increasingly condemned and looked down upon, it is up to us to find better ways to “mark our territories”. Perhaps with something other than dung? Like, love, understanding, compassion, mercy, empathy, kindness, and so on. So, tomorrow, don’t hit anyone else with a “dung shower”. Instead, shower them with kindness. It’s a much better mark to leave behind!
Rope Bridges Sway — There is definitely a difference between solid ground and a swaying rope bridge. I found out the hard way that if you lean over the side to take a picture of a crocodile the other side of the bridge will move AWAY from you! In fact, you sway DOWN toward the croc! This throws you off balance and you are teetering on the brink of a crocodile snack.
But, solid ground doesn’t shift under your feet. Walking through the jungle up and down slopes, roots in the soil gave me enough traction to keep from slipping. There are no roots on a rope bridge. In fact, our roots do more than nourish us. They steady us. They give us purchase on the shifting ground around us.
Our culture is filled with lies. “What is the lie?” is the question I ask myself often when I am feeling down, depressed, or stressed out. Like the rope bridge, when we lean into the lie, we teeter on the edge of disaster. Instead, we need to rely on our rooted, solid stance on solid ground. All else is shifting sand, as the song says. In today’s postmodern culture, we tend to compartmentalize the world and think that all is NOT related. But it is. We cannot walk on a swaying rope bridge and act like we’re on solid ground. The TRUTH is there is only one way. One solid ground.
Don’t buy into Satan’s lies and his swaying rope bridges. Instead, rely on the solid ground in which we are rooted in Christ; the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Standing on the Brink — I have a picture of my feet at the edge of the cliff that dropped directly down to a sleeping crocodile. He was only about six feet below me. The only way I could get the picture was to lean forward. My harness was attached to a bungie like rope behind me so I could feel the elastic pulling me back away from the cliff. But, I really wanted to get that picture. Suddenly, I lurched forward and for an almost infinite moment, I was falling to my death. I picture over two dozen crocodiles waking up and tearing away bits and pieces of me to hide away in their little pond for a midnight snack. And, there is a lot of me to go around.
Turns out, Devin had tapped me on the shoulder to get me to turn around so he could take a picture of me with the crocs in the background. As far as he was concerned, I was never in danger. But, my imagination took that little lurch and pushed me straight into one of those old Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies where the bad guys feed the crocs.
Lesson learned: God has us on a tether. We have a path to walk that is straight and narrow. But, true to our nature, we like to wander to the edge of that path to check out that exotic odor, or that enticing flower, or that alluring seduction. And, when we reach the edge of the cliff, we have this false sense of security that we are still within God’s will. We feel the tug of the tether and yet, we lean further and further over the pit. There, waiting below, disguised in his lies is Satan. He has his mouth open, his eyes gleaming, just waiting to tear us apart!
And then, God taps us on the shoulder. He awakens us from our trance and we lurch with the unexpected realization that we had almost gotten taken in by Satan again. Again! When will ever learn? Be mindful of the tether. It is there for a reason; a connection to God through His Holy Spirit who holds us back from oblivion because God loves us. Thank you God for a tap on the shoulder.
I have seen the hand of God this summer in ways I have never seen before in my life. He reached out to me from the utter blue and totally changed my direction. I am the co-author of “Conquering Depression” published by B&H Publishing way back in February 2001. We had given up on producing a new book and I had decided to move on to my fiction. But, God started stirring things up.
First, I did the RIGHT thing back in May. I said, “God, I am giving up on any future with a new depression book. It is in your hands. Show me the work you want me to do. I will no longer worry about this book. Instead, I will focus on my fiction books.” The next day, an email arrived from our agent telling us we should write a brand new book on depression. Well, I wasn’t completely convinced. I was working on the prep for my fiction books with another publisher. But, I reached out to my co-author, Mark Sutton. Turns out he was in the worst depression he had in years! The last thing he wanted to do was write a new book on depression. He just wanted to see the sun rise again!
I won’t belabor the details, because I can’t really go into them but in July, we were offered an opportunity to do a new book and possibly an entire series! Out of the blue! With no input or planning on our part. Literally, an editor walked up to me at a publisher’s meeting room and recognized me and asked to meet regarding a new book on depression. I mentioned it earlier in my previous post that I felt at that time God might be telling me depression was my top priority instead of fiction. And, that came to pass while I was at Hutchmoot!
Now, here is what I want to share. I don’t know what each person took away from Hutchmoot. I am convinced it was totally different and totally unique for each of us. God told us exactly what we needed. And, I would bet that it wasn’t exactly what we WANTED! I needed to hear that a new depression book was essential! That it was needed! I had decided that only older people suffered from depression. Imagine my shock to learn that many of the under 35 crowd (the majority of Hutchmoot attendees) are churned under by depression. In fact, I would say we are on the cusp of an epidemic. God showed me this as I have said in the previous posts.
God told me in no uncertain terms, “Bruce, get with the program. Don’t just do a halfway job on updating a depression book. Give it everything you’ve got. Now! Today!” I heard God speaking.
And so, I met with my co-author yesterday. We spent six hours going over the tentative plan for the book. But, I showed him some really important things. I told him about Eric Peters and Jason Gray’s “Recovery Through Song” session. I had made copious notes and now several phrases that both men used will become brand new chapters in the depression book. I played Eric’s “Voices” for him. He wept and we will be doing a chapter on the voices that can lie to us. I played him some of “Light for the Lost Boy” and we talked about a mutual acquaintance of my son that Mark Sutton knows well who has lost his faith. We talked about all the “lost boys and girls” who are alienated by our culture. So, we will have a chapter on that! We will be building a website as a platform for this book and we are VERY excited about it.
And here is what I want everyone who attended Hutchmoot 2012 and everyone who planned and worked at Hutchmoot to know. God used this simple gathering for a huge purpose. I walked with God into that meeting and, as Phil Vischer said, God showed me the work He wanted me to do. I could NEVER have seen this without Hutchmoot. So, Pete and Andrew and Eric and Jason and all of you wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ, one day someone will send us an email and say, “Your depression book saved my life.” and you must understand that you had a hand in that. Your love and compassion and devotion to God will play out in ways we can never know. People will come to find hope and peace and joy again because of the influence of Hutchmoot.
So, here is what I’d like to offer. We want to begin to build a database, if you will, of testimonies regarding depression. When we launch our new book in the summer of 2014 (tentative plans) and open our website, I’d like to have as many video, audio, or written testimonials as possible to put on the website. So, here’s the deal. If you would like to be a part of the “Conquer Depression” project, simply let me know. Drop me an email through the form below. I will send you a link to my Dropbox account and you can put anything in there you want — a video, an audio recording, or simply something in writing. And, I have about 50 of the current “Conquering Depression” books as promotions. They are hard to find, but you can order them online and book stores will order them for you. But, I’d like to offer you a copy FREE of charge. Now, this is the current book and the new book will be ten times better thanks to Hutchmoot! But, if I send you a book, and it helps you, we would love a follow up testimonial for the website.
Mark Sutton and I struggle daily with depression. Remember I said he was in the deepest depression in years? Once the ball dropped in July and we were offered a possible new book deal, he changed totally. Turns out his current episode was due to chronic illness, a simmering infection. Once treated, he was different man and now his on fire to write this book! Satan is already after us and attacking both of us. Satan is the father of lies and his biggest lies are the ones that discourage us and send us into his darkness. Help us fight that! Join us in “Conquering Depression”.
In the form below, note it is NOT FOR COMMENTS. Simple fill it out and send me your email and I will get back to you with more information.