This is the second chapter of my book, “Our Darkness, His Light: Ordinary People in the Extraordinary Story of Christ.” Josiah is a character who “bookends” the story that starts at the manger and ends at the empty tomb.
In my fictional account of the nativity, Josiah is the owner of the manger where Jesus was born. He now lives with his own son in Bethlehem and Joseph and Mary have moved into a house down the street.
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:1-2 (NIV)
“Where are you going?” Rachel asked.
I shrugged into my outer cloak and grabbed the walking stick. “I promised Joseph I would help him finish something in his workshop.” I couldn’t tell her it was a chair I was making especially for her.
My son, Joseph, burbled and cooed in his mother’s arms. “But, it’s after sunset.”
“Yes, and much cooler. Joseph’s workshop on his roof will be much more tolerable now.” I kissed my son’s forehead. His dark, unruly hair smelled of scented oil. “You know, it’s been two years.” I tousled Joseph’s hair and he grabbed my finger with his strong grip.
“Since the birth of Yeshua. Yes, I remember, Josiah. Also, that was the night we had our, uh, disagreement.”
I reached past Joseph and patted Rachel’s stomach. “And, this child will be our daughter, Rachel. Yahweh has told me as much.”
Rachel’s smile was brighter than the star I had seen that night. “Well, I will be putting our Joseph down for the night so be careful on your journey to Joseph’s house.” She leaned forward and kissed me on the cheek.
I stepped out of our house into the cool night air. The sky was clear and filled with blazing stars. One star in particular seemed to lie low on the horizon. For two years now, the star had filled the night sky visible even with a full moon! Now, it seemed brighter and closer than ever! As I turned toward Joseph’s house, I noticed the star seemed to hover over the street where he lived! How was this possible? Surely just an illusion.Read the rest of this entry
Today is the 80th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
1994 — Four elderly men stood before me. They had asked to talk to me, and I was very, very nervous. One of them was shaking with emotion and all I could think of was somehow I had offended them with something I had written in the play they had just seen.
Let me explain.
In 1994 I wrote and directed a play entitled “The Night Gift” about a “family” of workers in a Christian greeting card company trapped together in their penthouse office on Christmas Eve. My good friend and our best actor, Larry Robison, asked me to write him a bit part as an old curmudgeonly gentlemen. Larry would play the elderly Mr. Collinbird and at a pivotal point in the play, I wanted to change the mood from humorous to serious. Up to that moment, Mr. Collinbird had been hilarious and frankly, senile. The members of the office began to share their most memorable Christmases. When it came to Mr. Collinbird, everyone was expecting another silly story. Instead, he began to tell a very moving story about his childhood.
Mr. Collinbird told the story of Christmas,1941 when his father did not return from Pearl Harbor. The young boy went out into the woods and cut down the family Christmas tree on his own. During the tale, Larry “became” the young Collinbird and I came out on the stage dressed as his father with blood on my chest. I told my “son” he was now the man of the house, and I would not be coming home for Christmas.
It was a simple five-minute scene meant to change the tone of the play and to catch the audience off guard. They would be expecting Collinbird to be silly but instead they got a very poignant, moving story of the child who became the man. After the first night’s play, Larry came up to me and said there were four men who wanted to talk to the author of the play. These were the four men who now stood before me.
The trembling man wiped at his eyes and this is what he said:
“I wanted to thank you for honoring the men who fought in World War II. We are World War II veterans and I was at Pearl Harbor. Thank you for honoring us on Veteran’s Day.”
I was stunned! It suddenly hit me that this was Friday, November 11th, the original date for Veteran’s Day! I never intended to honor WWII veterans, but God had different plans. God knew who would be there that night and God knew they needed to be honored by the simple scene in this play. The play was performed for two nights only and as impressive and shocking as the first night’s response was, I was not prepared for what happened the second night.
After the second night’s play, Larry escorted an elderly woman up to me and introduced us. She also wanted to meet the author of the play. This is what she said:
“My brother died at Pearl Harbor, and I have been mad at him and mad at God ever since. Tonight, you helped me to say goodbye to my brother and to find peace with my Maker. Thank you!”
How do you respond to such a statement? I was truly humbled!
It would be eleven years before I wrote and produced “The Homecoming Tree”, a play telling the story of the young Mr. Collinbird, now Daniel Collinsworth. The story was based on my parents’ lives during WWII. They lived in a boarding house atmosphere and their relatives came to stay with them as the war unfolded.
To prepare for that play, I sat my parents down along with my brother. This was in 1999 (all three have now passed on) in front of an old-fashioned slide projector with photos from their lives. I recorded two hours of them talking about their lives growing up during the Great Depression and living through the second world war. What a precious, priceless treasure trove of wisdom! Those stories became the basis for the play.
In 2018 I released a novelization of the play. In the novel, a modern-day businessman finds himself suffering from amnesia and sent back in time to 1941. His elderly boss is a young boy in 1941 and “Ray” is taken in by the kindly owners of the boarding house. In a scene from the book, Ray knows that something terrible is going to happen on Sunday, December 7th but can’t remember. When the news arrives on the radio, he has an unusual experience where he is both in the present and in the past, seeing not only the young boy whose father is at Pearl Harbor but the old man who remembers what that day brought to his family. Here an excerpt from the novel:
“Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a day that will live in infamy,” A different voice now. Wasn’t that President Roosevelt? Darkness swam into cloudy light, and an old man sat next to him on a couch. Blood trickled from a wound on the old man’s temple. His pale blue eyes were opened, and he stared off into space. It was as if the old man was talking in his sleep. Who was he? Why did he have a wound on his temple? Where was Mikey when you needed him? Mikey? Who was Mikey? Hadn’t he stopped the mugger? But not before the man had shot him. Ray swam in clouds of confusion as the old man continued to talk.
“I remember it all. How could I forget? The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was complete. The attack came in two waves. The first hit its target at 7:53 Hawaii time, the second at 8:55. By 9:55, it was all over. Behind them, they left chaos: 2403 dead, 188 destroyed planes and a crippled Pacific fleet that included eight damaged and destroyed battleships. It is rumored that a Japanese commander made the statement ‘I fear all we have done is awakened a sleeping giant.’ My family listened to the reports of the attack on Pearl Harbor on the radio. We saw the news footage at the newsreels at the movie theater. I imagined my Daddy as one of the brave pilots who actually made it into the air to attack the enemy. But, the truth was he was probably on the ground at Hickman Field and never made it into the air. In the days to come, we would wait anxiously for news from my father. But in the confusion and chaos after Pearl Harbor, the government was more concerned about entering the war against Japan and Germany. They didn’t have time to track down one missing soldier. With only days left until Christmas, my mother, sister and I cared nothing about putting up Christmas decorations. We just wanted my Daddy to come home.”
Ray saw smoke billow; flames consume shattered airplanes, wings, and fuselages with the red dot of the rising sun moving through the bright sky. The world shuddered and contracted around him as evil and death warred for supremacy in his life and the world. The image of a woman with blonde hair floated in front of his eyes. She reminded him of Peggy Lou, but she wasn’t quite the same woman. A young boy ran across his vision chasing a small dog. The same old man who had been speaking floated across his mind. His face was swollen and bruised. Was the old man dying? They were all dying. The world was dying, drowning beneath a flood of blood. Ray swallowed and tried to cry out in horror.
“No! Don’t let it be so! Stop it! God, stop it!” He pleaded, but the world continued to swirl around him nonstop. The old man’s eyes opened, and he mouthed something Ray could not hear. Then, his features changed and smoothed and became the face of a young man and he was back in 1941.
The novel is set in 2001 at the beginning in a country reeling from the terrorist attack of September 11. Many adults remember that day and the horror and terror we felt at the sight of the World Trade Center collapsing in real time on our television screens. We also reeled under the report of the other downed airplanes, one crashing into the Pentagon.
Today, eighty years after the horrific attack on Pearl Harbor, we live in a world that is once again on the brink of chaos. Pandemic, Chinese aggression, Russian invasions, inflation, and the most egregious, hatred and division across our land on so many issues. The attack on Pearl Harbor united our country against an evil enemy and pulled us together in the cause of the effort of good to defeat evil.
I salute the families whose loved ones died at Pearl Harbor. I am thankful for every person who has ever served in our military to defend our nation against evil aggression. It is no longer fashionable to be patriotic, but we must remember what our country stands for as written in the opening words of the document that would change the world: The Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
So important those words: truth, created, equal, Creator, life, liberty, happiness. But most important inalienable. That means simply something that can never be taken away by human effort; something truly transcendent.
Today, my prayer is that we will recognize these words as a reflection of the Creator God who made us all equal in His image. If we truly recognize this, then the words of Paul in the book Galatians take on a fuller and more foundational meaning:
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28
We are all one, united, equal regardless of ethnicity, gender, social standing, and the list goes on. Christ united us in one body, adopted into His unity. Notice how important is the first part of those verses: “in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith”. We have abandoned faith in that transcendent source and have made ourselves gods and goddesses. Be careful. This disconnect from a Creator God is exactly what drove the despots and dictators of the past to elevate themselves to a level of godhood. And we see clearly how those situations turned out.
Today as we thank those who sacrificed their lives in the purpose of defending a country determined to honor “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” let us realize that such a sacrifice means nothing if we do not honor the transcendent Source of all truth and love!
“The Homecoming Tree” is available at all online book stores in both print and ebook format.
As promised, the next book will be out on Monday, November 22nd.
Can Jonathan Steel complete all three tasks demanded of him by the “unholy triad” of the 7th, 6th, and 5th demons in time to save Joshua Knight’s life? Can Joshua Knight keep the mysterious Pandora from taking over his mind while he is fighting for his life? To save Joshua Knight, Jonathan Steel must become an ally of a serial killer and locate the arcane Ark of the Demon Rose. In the process, his past comes back to haunt him. Was he once an assassin? What price is he willing to pay to save his son? With time running out, Jonathan Steel betrays all that he has come to represent and must walk on the side of the demons!
At the end of “The 7th Demon: The Pandora Stone” I left my readers in a bit of a cliffhanger and I promised I would have the next book by December 1. Well, it is here! “The 5th Demon: Demoneyes” will be available on Monday, November 22nd! Print and ebook versions will be available.
This book takes the reader deeper into the mind of Josh Knight and his battle with Pandora. The battle for Joshua Knight’s life continues as Jonathan Steel tries to complete the three tasks given to him by the unholy triad. Jonathan Steel must break down the barriers of time and space itself to achieve his goals. And, all the while, he must walk a thin line between betraying his allegiance to God and walking on the side of the demons!
Christmas is upon us and this book will make a good gift along with the accompanying “The 7th Demon” book. My readers may notice there is no “The 6th Demon” book. There are three demons featured in two books. This will also be true in the coming final two books. Each will feature two demons. That’s right! I will finish the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel in two more books.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving! Because, Jonathan Steel will not!
For anyone interested in reading my latest book, “The 7th Demon: The Pandora Stone” there are characters in this book who originated in “Death by Darwin” a sort of prequel to the “Chronicles of Jonathan Steel.” You don’t have to read Death by Darwin to enjoy the latest book. Also, a new character, Dr. Jack Merchant has his own book series, “Shadow Merchant” and I hope to have the first book available by February 1, 2022. The events of that series predate “The 7th Demon” so you do not have to know his entire story to enjoy his presence in the latest book.
How far would you go to save the one you love? What if it required you to betray every moral and ethical fiber in your body? What is the cost of love?
Jonathan Steel is about to find out! In Part 1 of “The Unholy Triad”: “The 7th Demon: The Pandora Stone”, Josh Knight is afflicted with a debilitating disease after coming in contact with Pandora’s Box. The only man who has a cure for the disease forces Jonathan Steel to perform three tasks for the Seventh, Sixth, and Fifth Demons of the Council of Darkness in order to save Josh’s life. Steel must embrace evil in order to do good and betray God! As Jonathan Steel races against the clock to perform the first task, he realizes he must deceive his new ally, Max. And Josh, under the influence of the mysterious Pandora Stone is slowly being overcome by the mind of the evil spirit of Pandora!
I have been working on this book nonstop for over a year and a half. During that time my family has had to endure serious medical challenges that are unrelated to COVID. My adult daughter went through a prolonged ordeal of pain and suffering unlike anything I have ever seen in my 40 years of practicing medicine. Throughout this ordeal, her faith remained steady and unchanging and was a beacon of light for my wife and for me. As of the end of July, her pain was relieved after surgery and she is doing very well right now.
When I started this book, COVID was not on the horizon. My daughter was not suffering from pain. And yet, I put Josh into a life threatening medical situation. Talk about art imitating life! It was very difficult for me to finish this book for that reason. In fact, on October 1, 2021 only Part 1 of “The Unholy Triad” will be published. I wanted to get something out there for my readers who have been so kind and so patient. Some of you have reached out through email and we have shared out own personal stories of pain and suffering.
Part 1 is entitled, “The 7th Demon: The Pandora Stone”. This book, along with Part 2 features THREE demons ganging up on Jonathan Steel and his new family. So be WARNED!. This book ends in a cliffhanger. And to reflect that, the price point is much smaller and the second book will be out by December 1, 2021.
I hope you enjoy this book. It will be available on October 1 for print order and for ebook purchase. Just in time for Halloween, this creepy tale may keep in hot and cold running chills!
Most of this I have already shared but I am repeating what I wrote earlier in April.
I received some kind email from C**** asking about future books. It made me stop and realize I have readers who are wanting to read the next books I write. This is a deeply appreciated honor. I never imagined in my early years yearning to be published that I might actually write a novel that someone enjoyed much less wanted to see more books in the series. It is very humbling.
I wanted to update everyone on the delays of the past year on getting more of my books out to you. In March, 2020 at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, my daughter began having some serious health issues. Casey is the bravest person I know and has endured a lifetime filled with epilepsy since age 8. In March of 2020 she began having some serious anxiety issues (didn’t we all?) And began to suffer from crippling abdominal pain.
For the past 16 months we have been on a nightmarish journey through the medical establishment trying to diagnose her pain. And, I am a doctor who is very much a part of that industry and even I could not get clear answers.
We now know she has chronic pancreatitis, a chronic illness that produces the most painful episodes known to medicine. And, we finally pinned down the cause to a sick gallbladder for which she has had surgery. All of this has become the center of our family’s world. My wife and I have invested all of our time and effort into helping our daughter. That is what parents do under these circumstances. That means many of the important things in our life become less important in the face of the urgent!
I did manage to produce two books in 2020 thanks to the free time I found during the COVID pandemic when our economy was shut down. I had planned to release two books by July1, 2021 but that has now been pushed, hopefully, into the fall.
C***** asked some other very good questions I hope to address in upcoming blogs. I want to get back to my writing. It is my salvation; my sanity; my only way of working through the perils of life.
Here is what I am planning. The next Jonathan Steel book features a new character, Dr. Jack Merchant. Dr. Merchant has his own book series I started writing on about 15 years ago. He is a forensic radiologist. Yes, there is such a thing. But, Jack needs to be introduced to you before he meets up with Jonathan Steel. I had planned on releasing both books at once: “The 7th Demon: The Unholy Triad” and “Shadow Merchant” the first book in the Jack Merchant series. I am planning and hoping this will still happen soon. I am about 80% finished with both books.
And, I was asked about Ruth Martinez from “Death By Darwin”. I have a trilogy planned with her and I have decided she will be in the next Jonathan Steel book after the 7th Demon. She’ll have to defend a certain man with turquoise eyes after he is arrested for terrorism.
Once again, thank you so much for reading my books. I never went to take you for granted and I am grateful and humbled that I can produce a work that will, in some small part, both entertain and hopefully encourage people.
July 9, 2021
First off, request for prayer for Mark Sutton who is receiving treatment for a viral infection. Not COVID! Since he has had a lung transplant, he is immunosuppressed. He and Donna are still planning to be in Shreveport this weekend (they live in Florida) for his book launch of “Demon Undertow”.
We will be in the Well, the coffee shop of Brookwood Baptist Church (at the corner of I49 and Bert Kouns) this coming Saturday, May 15th from 5 to 7 PM. Free coffee and snacks. And, FREE books.
That’s right. Charisma Media, the publisher of my two books, “The 13th Demon” and “The 12th Demon” have returned all rights to me along with remaining inventory. So, this coming Saturday you can come by and pick up a FREE copy of “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye” as long as supply lasts. And, in addition to that, I will be offering the second book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” and the third book, “The 1tth Demon: The Ark of Chaos” for only $2.50 each. This gives you a chance to sample the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel and see if you would like to continue reading the entire series so far.
But, the feature of our Book Event is Mark Sutton’s newest book: “Demon Undertow”. The cover alone has caused a bit of a stir, but the book is riveting and redemptive in its ultimate message.
Here is a synopsis:
The ocean-side community of Hidden Beach, Florida, is under attack. A series of murders has the police scrambling to find the killer, and as the body count rises, they narrow their search to Henry Watchman, pastor of Hidden Beach Community Church. Though the pastor denies having any part in the murders, he and his wife, Jenna, are hiding a terrible secret.
Vincent Anderson, a young detective on the force, is bending his time and effort to catching the pastor –but the murders continue. And behind it all, a shadowy force rises from the ocean’s depths. Though unseen, it pushes men and women to the brink of ruin. If not stopped, the sinister force will swamp many of Hidden Beach’s citizens in a Demon Undertow.
In addition to this book, Mark’s other fiction book, “Pitfall” about the war in heaven will also be offered. Also, our book, “Hope Again: A Lifetime Plan for Conquering Depression” along with a set of LifeFilters will be offered.
Come on by Saturday evening and have a cup of coffee. Meet and greet Mark and Donna Sutton (we will be using social distancing because of Mark’s illness). Hope to see you there!