Thursday, September 28, 2017


Get the Most Out of Life

By Otto Kaiser

 Global University Professor


            Are you getting the most out of life? Are you achieving all that you want to achieve? I want to answer these questions from The Parable of the Lost Son.

            In the immediate context, tax collectors are coming to Jesus. In reaction, the Pharisees complain that Jesus, who claims to be a prophet, receives sinners and eats with them. In response, Jesus tells three parables: (1) the lost sheep, (2) the lost coin, and (3) the lost son. The last parable on the lost son has a tremendous missionary application.

Title: Get the Most Out of Life

Text: Luke 15:11-32

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

            What does the Holy Spirit want to teach us from this parable of Jesus? How does this parable of Jesus apply to world missions?


I.                 Significance of Abundance

II.               Sympathy for Sorrow

III.             Silence in Conversation

IV.            Scorn from Selfishness

V.              Satisfaction for Service

I.                Significance of Abundance

What are the circumstances of the older son? He is in his father’s house eating and enjoying life. The older son is filled with abundance. True, the younger son asked for his inheritance and left home. But according to the Old Testament Law, two thirds of the inheritance remained with the older son. Also according to the Old Testament Law, none of the family estate could be sold; it had to remain in the family. Thus when the younger son left home, all he could take with him is one third of the movable portion of the father’s wealth. The bulk of the inheritance remained with the older son. Through his austere handling of his father’s wealth, the older son more than doubled what the younger son had taken with him.

The family most likely lived in the great fertile plain of southern Galilee. Jesus boyhood home of Nazareth on the side of a mountain overlooked this great fertile plain. In the middle of this great fertile plain was a major trade route over which the camel caravans traveled. News came back through the caravans of the scarcity of the younger son. Does the older brother see any relationship? What is the significance of the abundance of the older brother and the poverty of the younger brother?

God has blessed our nation in a wonderful way. We have beautiful homes, modern cars, and electrical appliances. We spend more money on luxuries, pleasure, and entertainment than any other people. What is the significance of our national abundance with the spiritual and material needs of the rest of the world?

As Christians, we are crowned with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. We have become new creations in Christ. We have become more than conquerors through Christ who loves us. Many of us are being blessed with a Bible college education. What is the significance of our spiritual abundance with the spiritual poverty in the rest of the world?

II.             Sympathy For Sorrow

The father had great sorrow for his younger son. What sincere human parent would not have great sorrow for his wayward son? The father was always on the lookout for his younger son. He waited for the least news that might come with the next caravan. He never ceased watching and waiting. This is the reason; the father could see his younger son returning at a great distance. And when he saw the younger son at a great distance, he ran to him, embraced him, and kissed him.

The older son was not sympathetic with the sorrow of the father. The older son did not enter into the concern of his father. The older son told his father, “Dad forget him. He choose his life. Let him learn his lesson. Why worry about him? You have more important things to think about?”

What does all this say to us today? Here is a heavenly Father of whom the Bible says, “For God so loved the world.” Here is a heavenly Father who wants all people to come to Him. Paul wrote to Timothy, “God desires all men to be saved.” Peter wrote, “God is not willing that any should perish.” Are you sympathetic for the sorrow of your heavenly Father? Have you felt the heart beat of your heavenly Father for lost humanity?

The father of the lost son cried out to God for his wayward son. He saturated his pillow with tears as he wept for his lost son. Have you felt the burden of your heavenly Father for lost men and women? Have you prayed that reapers might be sent into the harvest? Have you prayed that God will raise up those who will be empowered by the Holy Spirit? How often have you prayed and fasted for the younger son?

III.           Silence in Conversation

Have you ever considered what the father and the older son talked about? I am sure they talked about the most recent scientific agricultural techniques developed at the State College at Caesarea. With the large staff of servants, I am sure they talked about the latest principles of psychology in labor relations. I am sure they talked about the recent strike of the camel driver’s union. I am sure they talked about the price fluctuation on the grain market at Rome.

But what did the father and the older son talk about in reference to the lost son? Reports kept coming back of what was happening to the younger son. Was there a silence in the home? In some homes, it is understood that the family members do not talk about certain topics. Family members can be in the same home and yet be far removed from each other. The older son was living in his father’s house yet he was not at home with his father.

Did the older son ever volunteer to bring back his younger brother? Did the older brother offer to his father to go and look for his younger brother? Did the older son go to his father and say, “Dad, I know you love my younger brother. Let me go and bring him back. We can entrust the estate to our servants.

Have you ever volunteered? Like Isaiah, have you cried, “Here am I, Lord send me?” Like John Knox, have you prayed, “Lord, give me my country or I die?” In eternity, will others put their arms around you and say, “We are in heaven because of you?” How many of your friends, your neighbors, your family members, have you bought to Jesus Christ?

IV.           Scorn From Selfishness

Let’s look closer at the character and motives of the older brother. Upon the return of the younger brother, the older brother was out in the fields supervising the hired servants. The fields would be several miles from the home. Because of raids and wars, the home would be in the village. As the older brother approached the home, he heard instrumental music. The father had quickly hired professional dancers to act out the story of the return of the wayward son. As he came near the house, the older son asked a servant what was happening. When the older son was told that his father was celebrating the safe return of his younger brother, the older son refused to enter the house. Even at the entreaty of his father, the older son refused to enter the house.

What were the motives of the older son? Most all Bible commentators in my library suggest: material selfishness and legalistic self-righteousness. The older son angrily shouted out, “I refuse to go in. If I share my inheritance with that brother of mine, my rating on the New York Stock Exchange will go down. If I give my money to world missions, I will not have enough money left to enjoy life when I get old.”

What did this selfishness lead to? All that the older brother could do was spit out scorn upon his younger brother. I have heard white Christians downgrade Indian Christians as being drunkards. I have heard mission leaders (not Assemblies of God) accuse Oriental Indians and Africans as being lazy. The older brother accused the younger brother of wasting his money while living with prostitutes. No where in the Bible does it actually say that the younger son slept with a prostitute. The original Greek only says, “loose living.” Without the wise counsel of his father, the younger son may have made a free wheeling investment and failed.

All that the older son could say to his father was “This son of yours.” No one can really say “Father,” and not say, “Brother.” No one can really say, “I love Jesus,” and not have a burden for those who do not know Jesus.

V.              Satisfaction for Service

In response to the entreaty of his father, the older son replied, “Lo, these many years I have served you and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid that I might make merry with my friends. But when this son of yours came, you killed for him the fatted calf.” In the original Greek, the older son used a term that describes gallow slaves in the hole of Roman worships, a concept totally foreign to a father-son relationship. The older son never really appreciated his sonship with his father. The older son never appreciated what the father said, “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is thine.”

Why was the older brother not happy when his younger brother came home? Most all Bible commentators in my library suggest: material selfishness and legalistic self-righteousness; and I looked up almost twenty sources in preparing this message. But I believe that there was a far deeper reason why the older brother was not happy, and you don’t find this in Bible commentaries.

The older brother was not happy because he had no part in bringing his younger brother home. The older brother only stood off on the side and criticized. Why? Because great things were happening and he was not participating. God was doing great things, and the older brother was not involved.

Today, God is doing great things around the world. I am a grading professor at Global University. I am professor of record for the undergraduate Islamic courses. We have four undergraduate courses on Islam and three more in preparation. I also grade courses in church history, world history, preaching and Christology. Global University has an active enrollment of over 430,000 students worldwide and over 170 Bible colleges use our curriculum. Over two million have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior though our evangelism and discipleship courses. God is doing great things in the world today. Are you involved in what the Holy Sprit is doing in the world today?

In 1949, when Mao came to power in Mainland China, there were only one million Protestant Christians in China. Mao began his Red Purge in which he attempted to eliminate Christianity in China. All the missionaries were kicked out. Chinese Christian leaders were put in slave labor camps and many were martyred. What did the Chinese Christians do? Under severe persecution, Chinese Christians prevailed before God in prayer and fasting. My wife and I were part of a Chinese Diaspora group at Fuller Theological Seminary at the time. What were the results as Chinese Christians prevailed before God? God sent a mighty move of the Holy Spirit to China: supernatural dreams, healing, miracles and even people raised from the dead. Multiplies of millions came to Jesus when the doors to China were closed. Today the Chinese government claims that there are 130 million Christians with over 70% Pentecostal.

Up through the 20th century, the Islamic world was closed to the Gospel. Mission leaders were told by church growth scholars to put their missionaries among the receptive populations and only keep a few missionaries in the resistant areas like the Muslim people. But then about 20 years ago, groups of Christians worldwide, independent of each other, were led by the Holy Spirit to pray and fast for the Muslim people. What are the results? In the 21st century, that is, the last 12 years, more Muslims have converted to Christianity than in the entire 1,400 years before. Some scholars claim at the rate of six million a year. In answer to prayer God has sent supernatural dreams, healings, miracles, and even people raised from the dead. Our Global University courses are being downloaded. In every Islamic country, there exists a secret house church movement that did not exist 20 years ago.

In the world today, there are 1.6 billion Muslims and 16 million Jews. Have you caught the burden of the Holy Spirit in intercessory prayer for these multitudes? Have you caught the burden of your heavenly Father for these who are outside His Kingdom? Jesus gave His life on the Cross for them. By bloodline or adoption, they are descendents of Abraham through Ishmael and Isaac. God said to Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you” (Gen. 12:2). Those who intercede in prayer for the Muslim and Jewish people worldwide will come into the blessing God promised to Abraham. Will you be one of those blessed ones?

Jesus has promised that His house will be filled whether you bring people in or not. You can stand off on the side, like the older brother, criticize; and be very unhappy. Or you can be involved in what God is doing and experience the joy of the Holy Spirit. Can you experience a greater joy than finding the lost sheep, than finding the lost coin, then finding the lost son? Can you experience a greater joy than being the arm of God extended? Or will you be like the older brother, critical and unhappy, because you missed out on the joy of the Holy Spirit? You did not help bring your younger brother home.

Let me ask you again, are you getting the most out of life? Are you achieving all that you want to achieve? How can you get more out of life?

Permit me to close my sermon with a brief illustration from church history. As I describe a late teen age boy, you may recognize who I am talking about. This 16 year old boy lived in a coastal town of West England which was part of the Roman Empire at that time. His grandfather was a pastor of a church. This young boy was raised in a Christian home. His mother taught him Bible stories in the Old and New Testament. This boy learned about Jesus from his mother. Even though, he had a head knowledge of the Bible, he took spiritual things lightly.

Norsemen from Norway raided the west coast of England. They killed his father and mother and kidnapped him and his younger sister. He was separated from his sister and never saw her again. He was sold as a slave to a farmer in Ireland who raised pigs.

For the next six years, this young boy cared for pigs on a farm. In the field watching the pigs, he remembered the godly teaching of his mother. The prayers of his mother followed him. The Holy Spirit convicted him of his sin. He prayed for Divine forgiveness and asked Jesus to become his Lord and Savior. Then for six years while watching pigs, he prayed and fasted for the people of Ireland.

The Holy Spirit enabled him to escape the pig farm. He saw a beam of light come from heaven. He followed the beam of light from heaven to a seaport. He was able to get a boat ride to France. He was able to work his way back to his home town. He was welcomed by his extended family and hoped to settle down and live a normal life.

While having his devotions, this young man had a vision. In this vision, a man from Ireland said to him, “Little boy, come over and walk among us again.” This young man received this as a call of God to become a missionary to Ireland. You may now recognize that I am talking about Saint Patrick of Ireland.

Patrick enrolled in a Bible school in France and was sent by the Bishop of France as a missionary to Ireland. God confirmed the preaching of Saint Patrick with many supernatural healings, miracles, and even people raised from the dead. Saint Patrick started over 200 churches, baptized over 100,000 converts to Jesus, and in one life time changed Ireland from being pagan to a Christian nation. Why? Because as a 16 year old boy, he prayed and fasted for six years for the people of Ireland. What God did for Saint Patrick, He can do for you as you catch the prayer burden of your heavenly Father for the lost. Will you become a prayer warrior for Jesus and win people for Jesus?
Make a commitment today!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Lillian Duncan's new novel and her struggle with brain tumors

PUZZLE HOUSE by Lillian Duncan:

Life isn’t a box of candy—it’s a puzzle!

Rachel Summers is all about Rachel Summers…until the day she crashes headlong into a semi-truck. As her life hangs in the balance, she has a visitor who asks a very simple question.

Does she want to be healed or to be a healer?

She makes her choice, but the journey doesn’t go quite the way she expected.

And so Rachel now runs Puzzle House. Every guest is different and yet the same. They all come to the Puzzle House for one reason and one reason only—to be healed, usually from a life-threatening illness. Sometimes they receive their miracle, and sometimes they discover there’s more than one kind of healing.

Nia is a fifteen-year-old African-American girl who is dying. The doctors have told her there is nothing else to be done. No more treatments. No more hope. No more life. And she’s angry about that. Very angry. Against her wishes, Nia’s aunt brings her to The Puzzle House.

Together, Nia and Rachel will take a journey that will change both their lives.

GIVEAWAY INFO: To celebrate the release of Puzzle House, I’m having a very special giveaway on my blog, Tiaras & Tennis Shoes at Leave a comment on one of my Puzzle House posts and you’re entered to win. Thanks!


Tell us a little about yourself.

My husband and I live in a small town in Ohio. I mean small—we only have 1 traffic light. I grew up in the area, but moved to the big city of Cleveland for many years. Like Dorothy, I love being home again.

Where did you grow up and attend school?

I grew up in rural Ohio, near Wooster. It’s a farming community. Most of my books have a similar setting. Sometimes I actually use the names of local communities, other times I use a fictional name

I received my Bachelor’s Degree from Akron University and my Master’s Degree from Kent State. Then I moved away to the big city of Cleveland to work for many years until I retired from Cleveland Schools in 2007.

What is your favorite genre to read? To write?

Mostly I read and write Christian mystery and suspense with a little horror thrown in. PUZZLE HOUSE is a complete departure from what I usually write. I would simply classify it as Christian Fiction, like the book WAR ROOM.

Tell us about PUZZLE HOUSE.

I call it the book I never wanted to write!

Really? Can you explain that?

Early on in the story, the main character (Rachel Summers) discovers she has brain tumors due to a genetic condition called Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF 2).


That’s exactly what I said when I was diagnosed with NF 2 and bilateral brain tumors in 2012. Don’t gasp! The tumors are almost always non-cancerous but as I like to say that hasn’t stopped them from wreaking havoc on my health and my life.

And that is why I say Puzzle House is the book I never wanted to write. I would never have written it if I hadn’t developed the brain tumors. But I do have NF 2 and the brain tumors and Puzzle House is one of the good things that’s come from it.

What inspired you to write this novel in particular?

Like Rachel, I have Neurofibromatosis Type 2. I wanted to show that even when you have a serious chronic illness, God can use you to help others.

What is Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2)?

It’s a rare genetic disease that allows tumors to grow anywhere there are nerves, but most people with NF2 develop brain tumors, which I did. The tumors affect both your hearing and your balance which can affect your health in significant ways. It’s been a difficult journey but God is good. There’s a lot I can’t do these days because of the brain tumors, but I can still write!

Tell me a bit about your main characters.

Rachel Summers was all about Rachel Summers until the day she crashed into a semi-truck. While in a coma she has a very special visitor that asks a very special question. Do you want to be healed or to be a healer? Her answer changes the course of her life as well as many others.

What’s the setting for PUZZLE HOUSE?

It starts out in the icy cold city of Cleveland Ohio but moves on to the warmth of Georgia.

Do you have personal experience with any of the events in your story, and if so, could you share about that?

Like Rachel I have neurofibromatosis Type 2 which is a genetic condition that causes bilateral brain tumors. They are usually benign meaning non-cancerous but believe me when I say they aren’t benign meaning harmless!

I was diagnosed a little over 5 years ago. In that time I’ve had two Gamma Knife surgeries, 3 rounds of chemotherapy, and months and months of being on steroids. I’m completely deaf in one ear and partially in the other. I also have severe balance issues that make it hard for me to walk or do lots of daily activities that other people take for granted.

It’s been quite a journey but even as my health declines my faith in God grows stronger and stronger. And that has been a blessing.

What’s your day job? Tell us a little about it.

I retired as a speech therapist from a large city school district in Ohio, then spent several more years working part-time in smaller, rural districts near where I live. Between the two jobs, I don’t think there is any type of child I haven’t worked with at least once.

How did your education or previous career impact your journey to publication and where you are now?

My day job was as a school speech pathologist, better known as a speech therapist. So for more than 30 years I listened…and listened…and listened some more. I think it helped me in a lot of areas but certainly with writing dialogue of my characters.

What do you want readers to take away from PUZZLE HOUSE?

That God can and does still do miracles but the miracle we want isn’t always the miracle we need and God knows the difference.

What is your writing process?

I never know what is going to happen in my story on any given writing day. It’s as if my mind is a movie screen and I watch that day’s events and then I write it.

When I start a new story I usually have a clear picture of the main character in mind and what obstacle he/she will face, but anything goes after that. If I’m writing and start to feel bored—then I kill someone or blow something up. And that way it’s a surprise to me and to my readers.

Do you have a favorite or “life” verse? Why is that one important to you?

Romans 8: 28:   And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

After I was diagnosed with the brain tumors, the treatments and the side effects wreaked havoc on my health as well as the tumors themselves! When I was at my lowest points, I kept repeating this verse over and over. It kept me trusting God and it kept me in peace and joy in spite of how bad I felt at the time.

Looking back I can now see how God used many of the past events in my life to prepare me for this struggle of a lifetime and for that I’m very grateful.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a sequel to PUZZLE HOUSE. It’s called The David Years and without giving too much of the plot of Puzzle House away, it follows one of the characters you meet in PUZZLE HOUSE.

Are there any other authors in your family? 

Actually there is! My nephew, Chad H. Young, is a missionary for CRU, formerly Campus Crusades For Christ. A few years ago, he decided to give writing a try, nonfiction. I’m so proud of him—he has two books out and is about to have a third published, Authenticity: Real Faith in a Phony World and Wrestling with Faith, Love, and Gators: Overcoming Barriers to Fully Loving God.
How did you get started writing? How old were you? What made you want to start?

I started writing when I was 40—a late starter. (This is a pretty good story.) I was feeling the way a lot of 40 year-olds feel. Unsettled, not sure if I wanted to keep teaching. I was watching a TV show, probably Oprah. Her guest recommending writing your own obituary and putting in outlandish things that you’ve never done.

So I did. As I reread the obituary, it said that I was a multi-published author. What? I’d never written any fiction even though I was an avid reader. The most I’d ever written was some poetry years before.

When I read those words, a spark ignited inside me.

And I started writing!

It took me a year to finish my first novel and it was horrible. I made every mistake that writing “experts” say are no-no! As bad as it was, I knew I wanted to keep writing and I did!

If you could offer a word of encouragement to an aspiring author, what would you say?

DON’T GIVE UP! It took me 15 years to get a traditional contract, and now I have almost 20 books published! If I can do it, so can you. But not if you give up your dream!

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My website is and I have a devotional blog at My blog is TIARAS & TENNIS SHOES at  I’m also on Twitter as @LillianDuncan and on Facebook at


By Lillian Duncan
Puzzle House is the book I never wanted to write.

What??? Let me explain. Rachel Summers, the main character in my new book, Puzzle House, has brain tumors due to Neurofibromatosis Type 2.


That’s what I said when my doctor told me I had brain tumors and something called Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2 for short) in 2012. It didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time. After all, I felt fine, but I was wrong—really wrong!

So what exactly is NF2? It’s a rare genetic condition that allows tumors to grow anywhere on the nervous system, but especially in the brain (almost always on the auditory nerve and vestibular nerve) and the spine.

The Rare Disease Act of 2002 defines a rare disease as one that affects fewer than 200,000 people in the United States or about 1 in 1,500 people. So exactly how rare is NF2? About 1 in 25,000 to 40,000 people (depending on what source you use) have it so as you can see it’s extremely rare which is why you probably haven’t heard of it either.

The tumors are almost always benign, but there’s two meanings for benign. One being non-cancerous and the other being harmless. The good news is that my tumors are not cancerous, the bad news is they are definitely not harmless.

So how has NF2 affected me? Without going into all the gory details, since being diagnosed I’ve had two Gamma Knife Surgeries, three rounds of chemo, and countless months of being on steroids. Because of the tumors and/or the treatments, I have chronic fatigue, balance issues that affect my mobility, complete deafness in one ear and partial deafness in the other, neuropathy and severe pain in my arms and legs that also affect my mobility as well as a multitude of “less severe” symptoms.

After reading all that you might think Puzzle House is a really depressing story, right? I certainly hope not. My first goal when writing a story is always to entertain and that’s true with this one as well. In fact, the subtitle of the story is a novel of healing and hope.

I’m not going to give away the plot but I’ll give you a little hint. While unconscious after an auto-truck mishap, Rachel has a very special visitor who asks, “Do you want to be healed or to be a healer?” She makes her choice and that’s when her adventure begins.

Let’s get back to the healing and hope part of the novel. Nia is a 14 year-old girl who has lost hope and wants nothing to do with Rachel or Puzzle House. But they’re stuck with each other for the week so Rachel shares her story with Nia as they work her puzzle together.

It’s true that Puzzle House is a book I never wanted to write, but it’s also true that God uses all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28) and I believe that’s what He’s done by inspiring me to write Puzzle House.

Why did I choose a puzzle theme? Because in many ways life is like a puzzle—not a box of candy! There’s lot of pieces that have to be put together before you can see the whole picture. Many times we don’t understand why we need a particular piece of our puzzle but God does.

That’s where faith comes in. It’s not easy to keep trusting when we’re suffering, whether it be from a physical condition like brain tumors or some other difficulty. But if we trust God with all the puzzle pieces of our life, He will use them to create a thing of beauty.


Are You Sure?

Hebrews 11: 8

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

In my upcoming book, PUZZLE HOUSE, Rachel is asked, “Do you want to be healed or to be a healer?” She wants to please God so her answer is to be a healer. Of course when she answers she doesn’t know she has a serious medical condition that is about to turn her world upside down.

Most of us will be asked that same question during our life if we’re deeply committed to following God’s Will. The question won’t be exactly the same since God has different plans for all of us.

My question was do you want to be a writer? I’d already been dabbling in fiction writing when God asked me that question. Not literally of course, but in my spirit. My answer was a resounding yes, but… like Rachel, I should have taken a few more moments to think about it. To ask myself “are you sure?”

Don’t get me wrong, I love writing and even more I love writing Christian fiction. My stories demonstrate God’s goodness is many different ways depending on the story. But it hasn’t been an easy journey.

It took fifteen years to get my first traditional contract. That’s a lot of rejections. Would I have kept writing if I’d known it would take that long? I’m not sure but I’m so glad I didn’t quit.

Let me give you a short glimpse into a writer’s life. It takes a lot of time to bring a story to life. First you have to write it then you have to rewrite it and then you have to rewrite it again and again and... Then it’s time for editing, revisions, and polishing before submitting it to my publisher. Then it’s time to go into marketing mode. Actually you have to be in marketing mode all the time. And at the same time I’m in the process of writing and rewriting new stories to get them ready for submission.

It’s a never-ending process, but I truly love it so it’s OK. And then there’s my reward, right? If you’re thinking a financial reward, stop! Yes, some writers make big bucks—but so far I’m not one of them.

But my reward is even better than money. My reward is knowing I’m doing what God wants me to do. My reward is the joy of creating stories that demonstrate God’s love to my readers as I entertain them (and myself.)

So when God comes knocking at your heart and asking you your question, it may sound like an impossible task and you may ask yourself—are you sure? No, you can’t know what will happen, whether you’ll be successful or not, whether it will be an easy or a difficult journey, whether you’ll quit or persevere.

But like Abraham, you have to start the journey if you want to get to your destination. The destination God created for you. The destination that might bring you a few tears or more than a few along the way, but that will also bring you peace and joy and a satisfaction that can’t be described.

That sounds good, right?

Are you sure?

Lillian Duncan…Stories of faith mingled… with murder & mayhem.

Lillian is a multi-published author who lives in the middle of Ohio Amish country with her husband and a menagerie of pets. She was a speech pathologist for more than 34 years but retired in 2012 after being diagnosed with brain tumors as a result of Neurofibromatosis Type 2.  As an educator, speech pathologist, and a writer, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

Lillian writes the types of books she loves to read—fast-paced suspense with a touch of romance that demonstrates God’s love for all of us. To learn more about Lillian, you may visit her at or She also has a devotional blog at

Monday, September 18, 2017




The old cook stove hadn’t had a fire in it for a while because of the hot weather, but that day wood was laid inside and set ablaze.

My big sister, Joan, seven years older than I, decided to give me a bath. I probably was a toddler. Thinking the stove was cool, she set the dishpan, which was my bathtub, on the stove. Then she plopped my bare body beside it.

Where was Mama?

I don’t know for sure, but I can guess. She probably was in my family’s huge garden, planting, watering, harvesting, hoeing, or something. making sure the ten of us had food to eat.

I was born in 1937 on the tail of The Great Depression.  Daddy and my oldest brother, Virgil, worked 12 hours a day shoveling coal from railroad cars onto trucks. Their pay? Each of them earned one dollar for the entire day.

The family had hard times before. Refugees from Kansas droughts, dust storms, and locust devastations, after moving to Colorado the cupboards were bare but their land and irrigation water promised food for the future. They could fill canning jars and then the cellar.

 I don’t think they contacted a doctor when burns covered my bottom. Except for once when I had croup and the doctor came to the house, as far as I know I didn’t go to a doctor until after I was married.

 I learned at a young age my parents had no money. When I was in the third grade the teacher told every student there was a fee for books and things that our parents had to pay.  I didn’t give the note about it to my parents, and didn’t tell them about the fee.

The teacher reminded us frequently in class that if we hadn’t paid, we better get it in. I ignored it. I thought I had invaded our family which already had seven children and I didn’t want to cause trouble or cost my parents anything. One big joke in our house was how angry my oldest sister became when Mama had another baby. My sis, Marjorie, wouldn’t look me for a week because she was so mad. So I felt guilty. They had enough children when I barged in.

Marjorie became, however, one of the most loving people in our family, but I’ll tell about that later.

My teacher gave me a D-grade in citizenship because I didn’t bring the money. Mama, a redhead like me, believed in education and was astounded by my low grade. She trotted the half mile to the school and demanded to see the teacher.

Mama admitted there was no money, but Daddy now had a better job. Although he was blind in one eye, he drove a truck for Grand Oil Company delivering oil to farmers. Yet, to pay the fee they had to take a little bank, a tiny Pennzoil can with a slit in the top, and save pennies and few nickels until they could pay the school.

While they were still in Kansas the depression hit hard and Dad thought up many things to provide for his family. One year there was no firewood, but near their house was a huge tree stump. He decided to dynamite it and made the dynamite out of sugar and salt peter. When he was pounding the substance into a crevice in the stump, it exploded, driving a sliver about six inches long through his eyeball.

He waited until morning and that time he had to go to a doctor. When the doctor removed the sliver, Daddy was blind in that eye.

But Dad kept going. During the drought he dammed up the creek and figured out how to irrigate his garden. That year the cellar was full and by bartering food from the garden, Virgil was able to go to high school. The food paid for his board.

The high school was too far away to walk and Virgil no longer had a horse. When the locusts came, probably the previous year, my grandfather put poison around his corn trying to save it.  Virgil’s treasured Shetland pony got into the poison and died. The locusts were so bad they even ate all the onions in Dad’s garden out of the ground, and anything else available, including brooms, clothing and leaves off the trees.

The family didn’t know then how important it was for Virgil to receive his high school diploma. Years later Virgil earned his doctorate in education and sociology and not only became a college professor but became the force behind Evangel University’s great accreditation.

Although I was too young to remember, I’m sure I had third-degree burns from Joan setting me on the stove. I remember nothing about it. Mama, as most people did in that day, probably used home remedies. But I believe the biggest thing was prayer.

Before our family arrived in Fruita, Colo., from Kansas, a little church heard a big family was moving to town and began to pray for us.

Shortly, a new friend Marjorie met at the Fruita high school invited her to church. Determination to go filled Marge, but Mama pitched a fit. The church was Pentecostal. A Holy Roller church!

Mama, a Methodist, was raised by Christian parents, but from what older siblings told me the hardships and trials of life left her faith pretty beat up.

“Let her go,” Daddy said, “I hear they teach children to obey their parents there.”

 Young men working with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a public work relief program that was part of the New Deal, swarmed all over our valley, and some of them had their eyes on my older sisters. Daddy didn’t like it.

So Marjorie went to church, accepted Jesus as her Savior and suddenly changed. The family later told me she was filled with joy and love. Rebellion and selfishness disappeared.

Virgil, Everette, Clara and all those who were old enough to understand the gospel, including my parents, were born again by God’s power. They were discipled in the Word and knew how to pray. I’m sure when Mama discovered what happened to me, she asked the church to pray. Perhaps the pastor came and anointed me with oil.

 They might have given a doctor a couple of chickens to look at the burns. I should have asked Mama and the older children while they were still alive.

It’s strange how people often experience or know of a miracle and forget it. I’ve thought of the scars few times in my life. Two scars about the size of an egg have been on my back side as long as I remember. As I grew, the skin stretched and the scars went up to my lower back.

After I got married, my husband asked what caused the scars. Occasionally doctors asked, “What happened there?” Otherwise I never thought of the miraculous recovery that the scars represented.

I should have said, “A miracle.” Only in recent years have I thanked God for life that could have ended because of the burns.

In the same way, I now realize how close I came to being blind. When I was an infant, my 2-year-old brother emptied a salt shaker into my eyes. I thank God for eyesight.

Mama and my older brothers and sisters might not have been able to watch me all the time, but I’m thankful my Heavenly Father saw me and heard when my family prayed.

The Lord told Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” (Jeremiah 1:5 NKJ ). David wrote, “You have covered me in my mother’s womb… My frame wasn’t hidden from you, when I was made in secret… your eyes saw my substance” (Psalm 139: 13-17 NKJ).

Psalm 33 tells us “The Lord looks from heaven; he sees all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looks on all the inhabitants of the earth” (Psalm 33:13-14 NKJ).

I learned “Jesus Loves Me” at a young age. I memorized John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

I’m so glad God not only exists, but He loves me and hears and answers prayer.

Copyright  2017 Ada Brownell

This book is fictional suspense based on things I heard about my maternal grandmother's life.


By Ada Brownell

Jennifer Louise Parks escapes from an abusive uncle who is a judge. Will she avoid the bounty hunters? Can she forgive the person who turns her in?

Reviewer: The adventures and mishaps that JL Parks gets into will have you laughing out loud, biting your nails and perhaps even wishing you had a gun with which to help.

The most common remarks among readers of The Lady Fugitive “I couldn’t put it down;” “I love the characters;” “Sorry when it was over.” “I was hooked from the opening page.”

Available in paper and for Kindle

The Lady Fugitive 2015 Laurel Award runner-up.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Amazing quiirky creatures God made

By Catherine Castle

Have you ever noticed that God has a sense of humor? If you haven’t then all you need to do to see it is look around at nature. Consider these quirky creatures:

Spiny Something
Colorful Crab
Lion Fish

All photos © by Catherine Castle

Only someone with a sense of humor could create such funny looking creatures.

But God’s humor doesn’t just show in his creations. You can find examples of his humor in the Bible, too. Consider the donkey who spoke to Balaam after being struck three times because he would not move toward the angel of God that Balaam could not see. (Numbers 22:28) God chose a pretty unusual vehicle to use to address Balaam. Why didn’t he just make that angel visible to Balaam? Perhaps because it would have been a whole lot less interesting, and funny, if you ask any third-grader.

Or how about where Jonah ended up when he didn’t do what God asked. (Jonah 1:17) I mean putting a grown man in the belly of a whale, then giving the giant mammal indigestion so he’d spit Jonah out. You have to admit that’s got some humor in it. And when a petulant Jonah went to sulk after the Nineveh-ites repented, God made a giant plant bloom tall enough to shade Jonah from the sun. Then He sent a worm to kill the plant so it withered and died. (Jonah 4: 6) I can just see that plant blooming in time-lapse cartoon animation as Jonah sighs with relief when the shade hits him, then groans in despair as the plant withers around him. Yes, there was a lesson in both of those acts, but they both make pretty humorous stories.

And then there is the story of the Philistines capturing the Ark of the Covenant and placing it in their temple beside their god Dagon. (1 Samuel 5:1-5).) Not once, but twice, God laid Dagon on the floor, prostrate before the Ark of the Covenant.  The Philistines probably didn’t think it was too funny seeing their god on the floor in front of the Israelite’s Ark of the Covenant, but I bet the Israelites did when they heard the story. And the humor gets even better because the Philistines gave the Ark to other cities, that ended up with plagues being visited upon them. Once word got around about what had happened, the Philistines couldn’t pawn the Ark off on anyone. They ended up having to take it back to the Israelites with an offering of golden images of the plagues the Lord brought upon the various towns.  Another lesson, but one in which those watching from the outside see humor.

Proverbs 17:22 says,” A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

I don’t know about you, but I’d always prefer a good laugh and a joyful spirit over dried bones. That’s the thing about humor, no matter what your circumstances in life, if you can find something to laugh about, you’re always better off.

Maybe that’s why humorous stories appeal to me. I hope romantic comedies appeal to you as well and that you’ll enjoy my sweet, romantic comedy, with a touch of drama, A Groom for Mama. In spite of the trying circumstances surrounding Mama, Allison, and Jack, they, too, find humor in the situations they find themselves in and discover the joyful heart that overcomes a crushed spirit. Here’s a peek at the story.

A Groom for Mama

By Catherine Castle

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.


When Allison returned, Mama had all the prospective husband papers spread out across the kitchen bar, poring over them as if her life depended on making a decision.

As she slid out the bar stool, Allison scooped the papers into a pile with her free hand. “Don’t bother, Mama. We don’t have time to make a date before your appointment at the clinic in Cleveland. I’ve got one of the best cancer doctors there lined up to examine your case. We’ll be there for a couple of weeks, at least.”

Mama sifted through the papers and scooted a profile toward Allison. “Then let’s make a date with this man. He’s got a restaurant in the Cleveland area. You’ve got to eat, so you might as well make the best of it.”

“Will Matteson. Restauranteer.”

Restauranteer?” Mama echoed. “Is that a word?”

Pointing to the word on the paper, Allison grimaced. “He must think it is.” Then she crumpled the paper and tossed it into the trash can. “The word is restaurateur. I can’t stand people who make up words. Besides, we won’t have time for dates. There are going to be a battery of tests on you, and I want to be there the whole time.”

“Then choose someone else,” Mama said as she grabbed another paper, “because I’m not going anywhere until you do.”

Allison eyed her mother, who straightened her back ramrod stiff and returned the glare. Allison knew the pose and there was no getting around it. Sighing, she retrieved the profile from the trash. “Okay, okay. I’ll call Jack and tell him to set up a date with this guy while we’re in Cleveland. But you’re coming with me when I meet him.”

Mama blinked. “What will he think of you dragging your mother with you on your first date? It’s inappropriate.”

“Meeting a stranger for dinner, in another state, all alone, is inappropriate. You come, or I don’t go.”

Grinning, Mama handed her the telephone. “Deal.”

Want to read more? Check out A Groom for Mama at Amazon.

About The Author:

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life.
Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award. Her most recent release, A Groom for Mama, is a sweet romantic comedy from Soul Mate Publishing.  Both books are available on Amazon.

Social Media Links:

Catherine’s Amazon author page:

Twitter:    @AuthorCCastle

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