Everybody likes stories. On this page you will see some of my personal stories, stories with a special teaching, historical fiction, and just plain fiction. I hope you enjoy them! (Historical fiction uses real-life details from more than 50 years ago with fictional characters, plot, and events.)
Running Away from Home
(True Runaway Kid's Story – Many Years Ago)
North Wisconsin. Mid-November. Frozen snow on the ground. Today was the day. I decided to run away from home. I was just a few days shy of my 10th birthday. No suitcase. No change of clothes. About $10 in my wallet. Just the clothes on my back. But that did include a winter coat and hat, gloves, and boots over my shoes. I was on my way to Arkansas. What could go wrong? Why Run Away from Home? I would teach my parents a lesson. They needed it. After all, I was almost ten years old, and I knew what I was doing. Being number six of six children was not easy. My three older brothers had already gone off to a school a long way from home. I had two older sisters who were still home. We lived on a six-acre farm with cows, pigs, chickens, rabbits, dogs, and cats. My dad was very busy with his own local trucking business. So, when my brothers all left home, guess who was supposed to take care of the farm? In the summer, I would get to take care of our gardens of between 1-2 acres – using mostly manual tools. When school started that fall, the big routine started. Get up early. Milk the cow. Feed the animals. If there was snow to shovel, I got to help my dad with that on our long hilly driveway. All of that before breakfast. Then, after breakfast, I was privileged to help my sisters do dishes. After that, my dad hauled us to school. Talk about pity parties! I was having the party of my life! After two months of this, I was really fed up. This problem festered in my mind until I could stand it no longer. It was time to take action, and I did. The Running Away from Home Plan Off to Arkansas! I'm not sure why I chose Arkansas. I must have read about it and decided that was the place for me to go. I could find a job there, live in the woods if I needed to, and then become immensely successful. A perfect plan. And I was going to put it into action starting on that cold November day. Putting the Plan into Action That morning started as usual – doing the morning chores and then off to school. I sat thru the morning classes, but I could not keep my mind focused on those classes. I was thinking thru my plans. Lunchtime came. Time for action. Our home was on the south side of town, about a mile and a half from school. So I had to go that direction to reach my designated highway headed for Arkansas. I wanted to see my home one last time before I left. Winding through a backwoods trail, I cut across an almost frozen swamp. The path ended in some fields back of my home. Then I viewed our house, the barn, and other buildings. After taking that last look at my family home, I skirted around it, taking care to stay out of view. Winter is beautiful up there. I enjoyed seeing the snow glistening on the trees, on the ground, and on the roofs of the buildings. I wanted to get a good look so that later, I could remember when I lived in the south's warm climate. Journeying around our home, I finally made it to my chosen highway for travel. I had selected a country road that was not well-traveled. I didn't want anybody to see me till I was a long way from home. Alone and Cold on a Dark Country Road So, I walked – and walked – and walked. Even though I had a good, warm winter coat, I was getting cold. At that time of year, darkness started creeping in about 6:00 pm. I began thinking about where I could spend the night. It would have to be a sheltered place in the woods. But the woods were dark at night, and I had never walked in them before. I was frightened. The cold was settling in – through my winter coat and clothes, and I shivered. As I trudged along this lonely, seldom traveled road, I began to wonder if anyone would come along and see me. I knew it would be a stranger, and I had learned to be very careful about strangers. What would I tell him? The further I went, the more concerned I became. I started to cry. That made me ashamed of myself. I was already almost ten years old and off to the adventure of my life. I was a young man. But I was crying. Shameful! I decided to "man up" and kept trudging along. Rescued by a Stranger Sometime later, a car came along – and stopped. It was a middle-aged man. He asked me who I was and where I was going. I don't remember what I told him. He kept asking questions until he figured out who I was. Then he asked me if I knew everybody was looking for me. He turned on the radio. After a few minutes, an announcement came on about a little, lost boy. And it described me. That started an avalanche of tears. He took me to a tavern (there's a lot of them in north Wisconsin) so he could make a phone call. He called the police. They notified my parents. Then he took me home. Happy Reunion There were cars all over the place at my home: relatives, friends, and people who helped search for me. My parents came to the car and hugged me and thanked the man. I never did find out his name. Mom and Dad took me into the house, and I received a royal reception. The doctor was there – the same one who delivered me as a newborn. At that time, doctors made house calls. He checked me all over and then said I was ok. Then we ate. It was a good meal – but I don't remember what it was. I do remember the ice cream. In my opinion, that was an extremely important part of my diet, and my parents knew that. It was good to be home! Lessons Learned I did learn a few things that day. My parents truly loved me. And maybe my sisters did too – yeah, they did. I also learned that even if life isn't fair, we all have responsibilities and need to fulfill them. My parents helped me in the following years until I made it through high school, and then they sent me off to college. God is so gracious to us. And He used this challenging event in my life to teach me and train me for the future.
A New World
Tom wondered where he was. He was lying on a rumpled pallet of blankets. The roof was close overhead. He stared at his surroundings. Light from below penetrated the darkness of his loft bedroom. His mother called for him to get up. He put on his clothes – but they didn’t look like his clothes. He didn’t recognize the linen pullover shirt, the straight-legged, black linen trousers, or suspenders. Suspenders? He had never worn suspenders. And the clothes looked dirty. He scrambled to the lighted opening and looked. There was no stairway, just a ladder. Where was he? Slowly he made his way down the ladder and then looked around. It was bizarre. He had never been here before, but his mother, father, and two sisters were in this one-room house that looked like a cabin. WOW! IT IS A CABIN! How did he get here, and how did his whole family get here? There was a table whose top was rough-hewn timbers. A bench served as seating at the table. Against one wall was a large stone fireplace with a rack that held pots for cooking. Tom’s mother had just used the fireplace to cook breakfast. A worksurface with a water basin was under the only window in the house. As he prepared to wash his hands, he noticed the water was dirty. He was about to dump it out the front door because there was no sink. His mother quickly said, “Don’t dump it. That’s all our water until we go to the well.” So he washed his hands in the dirty shared water. After breakfast, he asked where the bathroom was. His dad said, “The outhouse is in the same place it has always been – behind the house.” Tom found the outhouse – a little shed-like building that reminded him of the port-a-potties he had seen along road construction sites. It had two holes, and it stunk. Where was the toilet paper? All he could find were green corn husks. What an awful nightmare. But he managed to get through that ordeal. Monday was wash day. His dad asked him to carry some firewood over to a place in the yard where his mother had built a fire. Mother had a large pot heating over the fire to boil water for washing clothes. They would boil the clothes in that ash-lye soapy water, scrub them with a washboard (he had never seen that before), and then hang them on a clothesline. This process was weird. Why didn’t they use a washing machine? “We need to build up our supply of firewood for the coming winter,” Dad said. “Let’s go down by that pile of logs. We’ll use the cross-cut saw to cut the logs into short enough pieces to fit in the fireplace. Then we’ll split those pieces with an ax so they will dry and burn easier and make them easier to carry.” “But Dad, I have never used a saw or an ax. I don’t know how.” “You will learn today,” Dad said. After several hours of sawing and splitting, Tom’s hands were raw with blisters. He had never worked like this before in his life. He wanted to rest and soothe his hands with skin salve. But dad said, “we need to go to the garden now. It needs cultivating and weeding.” Tom had never used a hand cultivator or weeded a garden before. While at the garden, they picked some ripe tomatoes and some other vegetables and took them to the cabin. “Will this day never end?” Tom thought. “One more thing,” Dad said. “Take the sickle and trim the grass around the house.” I could see that the cow and the horses kept the grass down in the areas away from the house, but they were not allowed close by the house. So, - - -- - - another big job for Tom. No use protesting. Suddenly Tom woke from his dream! The dream had transported him back to a new and different world in 1823. Tom had vigorously protested the day before his dream because he had to mow the lawn instead of playing video games. As he contrasted the responsibilities and hardships of a boy his age in 1823, his difficulties in 2023 were trivial, and his protests were selfish and meaningless. Now was the time to face his responsibilities and get on with his life.
Breakfast with Jesus
Peter spoke and acted. Then he thought. He had seen Jesus, whom he thought was the Messiah, go to the cross and die. And Peter had loudly claimed that though all others forsake Jesus, he would be loyal to the death. Yet he had not only forsaken Jesus. He had denied three times that he even knew Jesus. Three days later, Peter had seen the empty tomb. He had heard the report of Mary and had been in the upper room with the other disciples when Jesus appeared in the midst and showed them his nail-pierced hands and his wounded side. He knew for sure that Jesus was alive. After a few days, Peter wondered what would happen to him and the other disciples. What were they going to do with their lives now? Were they still supposed to be fishers of men? Jesus was going away. Would Jesus ever forgive him for his abandonment and denial of Jesus? How could he ever make things right with Jesus again? Would he ever be able to serve Jesus again? In his discouragement, near the sea of Tiberias, Peter told six of the other disciples that he was going fishing – not for men, but fish. Perhaps the other disciples felt the same as Peter, so they went with him. They caught nothing. It was a wasted night. When the morning finally came, they saw a man they didn’t know standing on the beach. He asked if they had caught anything, and they answered “no.” He told them to cast their net on the right side of the ship, and they would find. How could this man on the shore, who was not a fisherman, tell them how to fish? They had already fished all night and caught nothing. Nevertheless, they cast their nets and were immediately overwhelmed with the results. The net was so full and heavy that they couldn’t drag it in. They motioned for the disciples still on the shore to come and help them. Then John took a closer look at the man on the beach and said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” Knowing that the Lord was on shore, Peter, eager to meet with the Lord, jumped in the water and swam to shore. The other disciples came quickly and helped drag the net in with the fishes. When they arrived on shore, they immediately saw a fire of coals, fish roasting, and bread being warmed. How did Jesus get those fish? Then Jesus told them to bring the fish that they had caught. Peter went up and dragged the net to shore. He counted 153 fish, and they had not broken the netting. Reality struck him. Jesus had not only risen from the dead, but he was still working miracles! Jesus then invited them to come and dine at his breakfast on the beach. He had prepared it, especially for them, before they had brought in their catch of fish. After the meal, Jesus invited Peter to take a walk with him. He asked, “Peter, do you love me more than these?” And Peter answered yes. Perhaps Jesus was asking Peter if he loved Jesus more than the other disciples. Just a short time ago, Peter had proudly proclaimed that though everyone else forsook Jesus, he would not. Now he realized he could fail just as easily as any other disciple. But Jesus said briefly, “Feed my lambs.” Jesus asked Peter two more times, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” (John 21:16-17 KJV). Peter answered both times positively. After being asked three times, Peter remembered his triple denial of Jesus. Considering his prior denials, did he sincerely love Jesus? But Peter now had the answers to his questions. Yes, Jesus would forgive him. Yes, Jesus would restore him to both fellowship and service. He was now re-commissioned and knew what Jesus wanted him to do. Then Jesus gave Peter the challenge: When you were young, you clothed yourself and walked wherever you wanted to. When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will bind you and carry you where you don’t want to go. Jesus spoke of Peter’s future martyrdom. Peter had declared his love for Jesus, and Jesus warned him ahead of time that he would die for Jesus. Peter, are you committed? And to us today, the question is, Am I committed, and, Are you committed?
(A re-telling of the story of John 21 with some historical fiction added)
The Storm That Emptied a Park
Lightning! Crashes of thunder! The storm rolled in rapidly. The night sky lit up like a massive theatre screen. This tempest gained our full attention. The wind strained the trees overhead as they moaned, bent, and rocked back and forth overhead. Our parked van swayed from the force of the mighty wind. We groaned with disappointment. The upcoming campout was our family vacation time – and our first attempt at camping. The deluge started! We watched as the intermittent lightning flashes lit up the park revealing the predicament of the surrounding campers and tents. Our whole family peered uneasily at the encampment outside the windows of our Dodge van. We prayed for safety. With tears streaming down their cheeks, our young daughters asked, “Daddy, what will happen to us?” The vehement wind and driving rain were collapsing tents all around us. Frenzied campers struggled to gather all their belongings and put them in their cars in the drenching downpour. None of them had raincoats or any other protective gear. Rain-soaked, slippery camping gear and supplies often slid out of their hands, forcing them to stop, pick up their gear and start again. In addition, the newly created mud stuck to their shoes and made their movement more hazardous. One camper had different concerns. It appeared that he had a case of diarrhea. He made frequent mad dashes to the public restroom in his sopping wet clothes, slipping and sliding as he went. He made it safely on each trip. Trouble had also found us. The deteriorated door seals and weatherstripping on our recently purchased used van allowed the rainwater to penetrate, drip, and blow into the interior. All of us were wet and cold. Blankets that had somehow remained dry were used to wrap ourselves to keep warm. We kept away from the doors. It was challenging to find a dry place to sit or lay down. Rearrangement time! We used the air mattress in the middle back of the van for refuge. The girls slept there. We searched for other dry spots on the seats, sat down, and endured through the night. Sleep was often interrupted by a new burst of thunder, lightning, and rain. We did manage to keep ourselves partially dry the rest of the night. Cars and campers were leaving all through the night. Morning finally came! We got out to explore. The night before, we had moved boxes of food and clothing out of the van so we could sleep. But because of the expected rain, we had put those boxes under the truck. The storm created small streams all over the park. The rain had gouged out several little streams and gullies under the van. As we pulled the boxes out, they were now like soft, wet rags, dilapidated and falling apart. The food and clothes were all wet. The campground was a mess! Debris from food, boxes, and trash lay all over the grounds. The park was almost empty of campers and appeared to be like a city dump. We gathered up our few usable pieces of boxes, food, and clothing and placed them in the van. We were thankful to the Lord that there were no worse damages or losses. Then we traveled on our way to more enjoyable places and times. We were pleased to make our exit from this state park, and our girls were thrilled to leave it behind. This long-ago night was our first attempt at camping. It did not go on our list of favorite vacations. As we look back at it now, it is funny, but it wasn’t funny then. We determined then that our next camping endeavor would be at the Holiday Inn Express.
The War On Believers
The eighteen-year-old young lady trembled and her stomach churned over the vile crime. Tears streamed down her face. She sobbed uncontrollably as she learned the fate of her dear friend. Her friend, Fereshetah, had shared the gospel with her and taken her to church several times to study God’s Word. Their hearts were bound together in Christian love. Danger surrounded them. Fanatic Islamists had beaten a young woman to death for the offense of wearing her head covering (hijab) loosely. The Islamic oppression inspired large demonstrations. Recently after a secret church service, the attendees left intermittently in small groups, to avoid attracting attention. Fereshetah walked her younger friend home, cautiously watching for possible danger. After leaving her friend’s home, she chose an indirect route home to avoid the protests. Her heart raced as she considered what could happen to her. She hurried her pace. But the demonstrations had expanded, and the religious police confronted her. They accused her of wearing her hijab too loose. After searching her, they found a Bible in her burqa. The religious police beat her and accused her of inciting the crowd to deny Allah and follow Jesus. They continued the violent beatings until she was fading in and out of consciousness. They stripped and molested her. They said they would make it impossible for her to carry the Bible and give out Bibles. Using power saws, they cut off her hands and legs as she bled out. They gathered her body parts and delivered them to her mother’s doorstep. Christians came, wept, and helped the mother. Caring Christians prepared the body, and then gave her a burial that honored this martyr for Jesus Christ. Fereshetah’s friend learned from the violent attack on her friend the cost of following Jesus. We don’t know the rest of her story. But, probably like many new believers in her country, she continued to follow the Lord, no matter the cost. 1 This is not an isolated incident in the 21st century. The World Watch List from October 2020 thru September 2021, listed these statistics on the Open DoorsUSA.org website: • 5,898: Christians killed for faith-related reasons. • 5,110: churches and other Christian buildings attacked. • 4,765: believers detained without trial, arrested, sentenced, or imprisoned. • 3,829: the number of Christians abducted for faith-related reasons. • 312 Million: In the top 50 World Watch List countries alone, 312 million Christians experience high levels of persecution and discrimination for their choice to follow Christ. • 1 in 7: Christians worldwide experience high levels of persecution In America, lawsuits attempt to prohibit public prayer and religious monuments. Public speech is censored. Business owners face lawsuits to prevent them from practicing personal convictions concerning marriage, homosexualism, or transgenderism. Secularist organizations sue Christian organizations for excluding unbelieving employee applicants. Educational and government entities pressure parents to allow transgender boys to share locker rooms and showers with their daughters. We can understand why the Psalmist said in Psalm 11:1-2, “In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.” I Peter 5:8 says that “the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Paul tells us to wear the shield of faith so we can quench the fiery darts of the wicked. (Ephesians 6:16). In Psalm 11:3-4 the Psalmist continued: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” The Lord is in control. Proverbs 29:25 reminds us that “The fear of man bringeth a snare, but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” Isaiah 26:3 comforts with these words, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Trust Christ and go forward, just like Paul did in Acts 20:24. “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Persevere! Endure!. Be faithful before, during, and after the storm. God is faithful! 1 The true story summarized from Final Frontiers email, 11/7/22
I couldn’t believe it! Two great men of God fighting with each other. Worse than that, the fight was over me! My Uncle Barnabas and the great apostle Paul were red-faced, breathing hard, speaking and shouting at each other because they disagreed about me. Barnabas wanted to take me on the next missionary journey, but Paul refused. I remember well what caused this. I had lived with my mother, Mary, in our big house in Jerusalem. When Peter was in prison, awaiting execution, my mother hosted a prayer meeting to pray for Peter’s release. While we prayed, a knock came at the door. Our servant, Rhoda, went to the door. She met Peter there and was so excited that she forgot to let him in but came to report that Peter was there. We couldn’t believe it, but God had answered our prayers. That night, after Peter related his escape experience, he talked to me, and I trusted Christ as my own Savior. Later, after God called Paul and Barnabas to mission work among the Gentiles, they came to Cyprus, where I was living. When they saw my love for the Lord and enthusiasm to serve Him, they invited me to join them on their missionary journey. I was thrilled to death and jumped at the opportunity. After evangelizing with them in Cyprus, we journeyed to Perga in Pamphylia. After a brief time, I abandoned them there. Why did I abandon them? I’m not sure. As a Jew, I learned to avoid Gentiles and treat them like dogs. But I saw Paul and Uncle Barnabas talking to Gentiles, leading them to the Lord. That made me cringe. Did they have a right to do that? Was God interested in Gentiles? Something else bothered me too. Uncle Barnabas had befriended Paul and brought him into the fold of Christians at a time when Christians were afraid of him. Barnabas had discipled him and had even traveled to Tarsus to recruit Paul for the ministry in Antioch. Now Paul was “taking over” and leading the missionary group instead of Barnabas. Was that right? Shouldn’t Barnabas be the lead minister? With these beginnings of anger, resentment, and bitterness, I left them to go home. Yet my heart churned within me. Something was wrong. Guilt overwhelmed me. Maybe God really did love the Gentiles. Maybe God wanted Paul to be the leader. It was difficult for me to resolve this. About five years later, Paul and Uncle Barnabas returned from their first missionary journey. They gave glowing reports about how God had blessed their ministry at Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Derbe, and Lystra. They told how the people of Lystra stoned Paul to death and how God had raised him again. Souls accepted Christ. The missionaries started churches. My heart stirred within me, just like when Paul and Barnabas first came to Salamis, Cyprus. God had changed my heart. Now I was willing to go to the Gentiles. After talking to Uncle Barnabas about my renewed vision and burden, he was determined to take me on their next missionary journey. But Paul would have no part of me because I had been a quitter. They exchanged harsh words almost to the point of violence. Then they agreed to go two separate ways. Paul and Silas went to Syria and Cilicia. Uncle Barnabas and I went to Cyprus. But now, praise the Lord, there were two missionary teams instead of one. The years passed. As Barnabas and I evangelized, we heard fascinating reports of how Paul and Silas had ministered, winning people to Jesus and starting churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, Ephesus, and other places. We praised the Lord and prayed for them! And we were sure they were praying for us. My attitude was changing, and a long-distance friendship was emerging. Later, Paul was imprisoned in Rome. I had the opportunity to go minister to him. (Col. 4:10). Our friendship grew, and our love for each other as brothers in Christ strengthened. Toward the end of Paul’s second imprisonment, Timothy sent me a request from Paul saying, “Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” (II Timothy 4:11). Those were some of the sweetest words I had ever heard. Our relationship, which had begun with anger, resentment, and separation, was now united again in love and harmony.