Monthly Archives: September 2012

A New Novel? Why Not? (Part 3)

Chapter 1

A Warm September Night in Nashville 

(Continued)

When the offering had been collected, the pastor approached the pulpit again. He introduced the evening’s speaker, Eddy Bottoms, who walked over to the pulpit, unhooked the microphone, and held it in his left hand. The pastor sat back down in his wingchair.

“Listen up everyone. Tonight could be your night for a second chance,” said Bottoms as his dark eyes scanned the crowd. The tall, broad-shouldered African-American played six years in the National Football League as a defensive back for the Dallas Cowboys, but was now a traveling evangelist.

Bottom’s words about tonight being “your night for a second chance” echoed off the cliffs and ridges of my mind, unleashing an avalanche of fear inside me. No way, Jose, I thought. I’m getting out of here now.

I inched slowly to the edge of my seat, ready to sprint out of there. Then I felt the iron grip of mama’s hand on my arm. She never looked at me, but I knew all escape routes were closed down for the evening. I relaxed and shrugged my shoulders. However, mama showed little trust in my surrender because she kept her arm on the back of my chair, staying within quick striking distance throughout the message.

Bottoms told about his struggles as a young man, growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, and how his hanging out with gangs almost landed him in prison several times. But his athletic skills tilted the scales of justice in his favor whenever he stood before a judge for sentencing.

“As unfair as it may seem,” said Bottoms, “I received second chance after second chance while my gang friends went off to reform schools and prisons. You would’ve thought I’d have learned something from those experiences, but I didn’t. You see, I was knocking on the door, but it was the wrong one.”

The evangelist talked about his four years at the University of Tennessee.

“Yes, I was an All-American on the football field, but a druggie and a thief off it. I robbed dorm rooms and apartments so I could buy cocaine and marijuana. And yet, as unfair as it seems, I never got caught. Who was watching over me?”

Bottoms talked about his pro football career and how he wasted his earnings on cocaine and parties which diminished his skills and shortened his career.

“Tom Landry called me into his office at the end of training camp my last year and said, ‘Eddy, we’re dropping you from the team. You’re too slow to cover the deep threat anymore,’” said the evangelist. “My second chances had all been used up. My football career ended that day. ”

Bottoms then talked about the night he stood on a ledge outside his downtown Louisville apartment and how he was ready to commit suicide.

“As I looked down, I heard a voice speak to me. It said, ‘I’m your second chance, the One who can turn your life around. My name is Jesus.’”

The evangelist paused for a moment, allowing his words to hit their targets.

“Now, I could have ignored the voice and jumped anyway, you see, it was my choice. But I listened and gave my life to Jesus that night. He turned me around. Today I’m happier than I ever was playing football or doing drugs or partying all night. Jesus is now my life.”

Bottoms looked over the crowd, seeming to check each person. Then his eyes locked on mine.

“Young man?”

“Me?” I said.

“Yes, you.”

“What?”

“You need a second chance, just like I did. Do you know that?”

I broke off our staring match and looked down at my feet.

“Come down here, young man and I’ll pray with you. The Daddy that you’ve never known will cheer for you tonight. He’ll say, ‘That’s My boy. He’s the best. I love how he throws a football.’”

The words about a daddy loving me pushed aside my fear. I stood up and walked to the stage and bowed down in the sawdust in front of him. As I knelt there, a quick vision of a man looking at me with loving eyes crossed my mind. I knew it was Daddy, the One who was cheering for me at that moment.

The evangelist encouraged other people to join me at the altar. Six others came forward and knelt down nearby.

“Repeat after me, okay?” said the evangelist in a low voice as the pianist played softly behind him.

We nodded in unison.

“Lord Jesus, I need You. I repent of my old ways and I ask You to come into my heart right now. Be my Savior and Lord from this day forward.”

After saying the sinners’ prayer, I felt like I needed to pray something else. What it was, I had no idea so I lingered there, waiting for the right words to form in my mind. Finally, I added, “Lord, whatever You ask me to do, I promise to do it without complaining or whining, even if it means giving up my football career.”

As the vow escaped my lips, I felt the powerful presence of the Father hugging me close to Him.  It was as if the Father wanted to assure me that my words pleased Him. When the presence of God lifted, I wiped the tears from my eyes, stood up, and walked toward my chair in the second row. Mama stood there, waiting with her arms opened wide. We hugged and held each other.

“Luke, I’m so proud of you. Would you like to stop at McDonalds for a hamburger and chocolate shake to celebrate your new life?” she whispered in my ear.

I nodded, wondering whether my new life would have football in it.

(The above is the conclusion of the first chapter for a new novel I’m writing, The Day LA Died, © Larry Nevenhoven, 2012.)  

(Continued in Part 4)

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A New Novel? Why Not? (Part 2)

Chapter 1

A Warm September Night in Nashville 

(Continued)

Mama parked the Chevy in the back row of the church parking lot with the other late comers. Our walk to the pole tent, sitting near the old brick church, consisted more of a list of last second instructions than mobile exercise.

“You stand up when the music begins, hear?” she said, waving her index finger in the air by my nose. “And stay standing when the pastor prays. I don’t want to have to say anything to you tonight about your attitude or your actions. Don’t mess with mama, you hear?”

I mumbled a “yes ma’am,” but my eyes still searched for an escape route.

As we entered through the flaps of the tent, I saw it. There in the back row sat three of my Sunday School buddies. One gave me the “come here” sign with his forefinger and then pointed to an empty seat next to him. I planted my left foot and pivoted sharply, readying myself for a quick down and out to the sidelines. Mama’s hand reached out and grabbed my ear, yanking me back to her side.

“Luke, we’re sitting a little closer than the back row tonight.”

Her athletic effort did not even cause her a misstep as we walked down the sawdust covered aisle, past rows of drab green metal chairs. Most of the seats were filled with people fanning themselves with programs which awaited everyone on empty chairs. A stage with two men sitting on wingchairs, a walnut pulpit, and an upright piano faced us at the head of the aisle.

To my horror, mama continued walking until we reached the second row from the front. There a group of women with tambourines in their laps sat looking up at us with smiles on their faces. Two unoccupied chairs with Bibles resting on the seats closest to the aisle looked like they were saved especially for us.

I stopped and planted my feet in the sawdust. This was too much for a boy with college and pro football aspirations.

“Not here, mama,” I said, looking into her eyes and pleading my case. “It’ll be too noisy. Why don’t we sit somewhere else, where it’s a little quieter and a person can do some thinking about the speaker’s message tonight?”

Mama smiled for a nano second, but then she gave me a look which said everything without saying anything.

“Hush, Luke.”

She moved ahead of me and sat next to a lady in a brown and white polka dot dress. Both hugged each other like they had not seen each other in ten years. I sat on the chair next to the aisle. My chances of skipping out now needed a tornado or a bomb scare to make it happen, I thought.

A full figured black lady, wearing a long white dress, walked across the stage, and sat down at the piano. The crowd stood up as she began playing, “There’s Power in the Blood.”

Mama clapped her hands and swayed back and forth with her eyes closed as she sang along. The women next to her banged their tambourines with their hands or against their hips as they sang. I stood there, placing my hands on the chair in front of me and slouching down, not wanting anyone to notice me.

Five long songs followed the first one, each one supposedly increasing our expectation for a move of the Spirit during the service. After the last song, the gray haired pastor stood up and walked to the pulpit.

“Let’s remain standing and bow our heads,” he said into the microphone. He then prayed for the service and the offering.

As soon as he finished, ushers passed red plastic buckets up and down the rows. When the offering had been collected, the pastor approached the pulpit again.

(The above is the second part of the first chapter to a new novel I’m writing, The Day LA Died, © Larry Nevenhoven, 2012.)

(Continued in Part 3)

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Introducing 2 New eBooks

 

Deceived Dead and Delivered consists of two short novels, a prophetic allegory, and eleven short stories.

I can honestly say that Deceived Dead and Delivered is different from any other Christian book on the market today. Its revelations will challenge and maybe upset you, but isn’t that what a work of fiction should do?

200 pages  $2.99 e-Book

Do you prophesy? If not, why not?

These may be questions you have never been asked before, or at least, not very often. But did you know that the Apostle Paul asked questions much like these of early Christians? He wanted all to prophesy.

Prophecy 101 contains 58 simple lessons that I have learned over the years on how to prophesy. These lessons first appeared as posts on my blog, Prophecy One-O-One.

175 pages  $2.99 e-Book

Both books are now exclusively available on Amazon.com for purchase or for lending through their Amazon Prime program. After 90 days, both books will be available on other eBook sites.

You can check out both books and read excerpts from each at my website or at Amazon.com.

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My Greatest Fear (Part 3)

The most gung-ho American soldiers are 18-19 year old kids just out of army or marine boot camps. Their uniforms are pressed and clean, boots are shiny and new, and guns are oiled and ready. To them, there is no doubt the enemy will be defeated in quick order because that’s what they’ve been trained to do. It’s their job and – by golly – they are going to do it. Geronimo!

But the best soldiers are not those gung-ho kids entering their first battles, but rather, the ones who survive their first battles.

You see, in the midst of their first battles, these young kids, who figured they would live forever, discovered that they might die. They watched gunfire wound and kill their comrades, heard screams and live ammo, and smelled the stench of cordite in the air.

Yes, training prepared the raw recruits for entering their first battles. But after the first bullets whizzed by their ears, they knew they had to adapt to the battlefield conditions they faced, rather than the ones they had been taught about, if they wanted to survive the war.

This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare (1 Timothy 1:18)

I once prayed for a Southern Baptist missionary who had just returned from his first tour in South Korea. He and his wife were on a short holiday, visiting local churches.

“Do you have any prayer requests?” I asked before praying for him

“Yes,” he whispered, “pray for me to receive the spiritual gifts.”

To say his request shocked me would be an understatement because we were in a Southern Baptist church at the time. I swallowed my curiosity and prayed for him.

Later, the missionary explained the reasoning behind his request. Like most Southern Baptists, he had been dead set against the spiritual gifts for years. Who needed such spiritual mumbo jumbo, he thought.

Then, he went to Busan, South Korea, population: 3.6 million.

There he encountered a culture cemented into hundreds of years of Buddhism and ancestral worship. As he tried to plant a church, he quickly discovered how ill equipped he was to conduct spiritual warfare against entrenched demons and principalities. He needed new spiritual weapons and miracles.

“South Korea is not like America,” he said, “and if I want to be an effective missionary, I need the spiritual gifts.”

Like the gung-ho soldiers, the missionary had been trained to enter the battle, but once in the field, he needed to adapt to the conditions facing him in order to fulfill his calling and advance the kingdom of God in South Korea.

A plan seldom survives the first contact with the enemy. (U.S. First Army Axiom)

Like the raw recruits and the missionary, I discovered I needed to adapt and change in my valley of the shadow of death experience.

And it’s not that I lacked spiritual discipline or training. Because at the time of my 42 check fiasco, it was my habit to arise at 3 AM to pray for three hours each morning before putting in a full day’s work. In the evenings, I read and studied for two hours or more. Two days per week I fasted and the spiritual gifts were sharp and ready at all times.

Yet, I was not able to fight the good fight…which means I could not win in head to head spiritual battles with principalities and demons.

So, what were my problems?

(Continued in Part 4)

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My Greatest Fear (Part 2)

The vision I mentioned in Part 1  about the long line of children greeting me in heaven happened seventeen years ago. Let’s look at the circumstances and pressures I faced at that particular time.

As I stated in the first section of Part 1, the Holy Spirit directed me to start a paint contracting company, but I was missing a few things, like paint brushes, ladders, truck, truck rack, scrappers, putty knives, management skills, prospective clients, and oh yes – money. In other words, I had nothing.

But I had faith in  God and felt He was able to make it all happen.

In the Spring of 1994, I miraculously received a truck, equipment, and two house painting jobs. I sincerely thought I was on my way to feeding starving children in Africa.

Now, the story becomes a little blurry.

After completing a few painting jobs, I received some prophetic words about working and mentoring young people. And somehow, I believed these words meant I should hire young people to work for my painting company.

So, I took on more painting jobs and hired more people. The painting company prospered and everything seemed to be working out for the glory of God. Then, the painting business slowed down and I had fourteen employees who needed pay checks.

I fasted. I prayed. I cried. I reminded the Lord of the starving children in Africa. I threw everything I could think of toward heaven, hoping something would stick to the throne of God.

At the end of my fast, I had a vision which showed an angel standing in the middle of the bank where my business checking account was located.  I watched the angel hold back checks with his hands until sufficient funds arrived in my account to cover them. This seemed liked my answer from the Lord.

Just so you know: I had three large checks owed me. Plus, I had a backlog of scheduled painting jobs. I just needed to skate on thin financial ice for four or five days at the most.

That night I wrote out 42 checks to suppliers and employees, and mailed them.

The three large checks arrived late and every painting job logged on my books canceled. I had no cash flow and bounced 42 checks. The insufficient funds fees alone ate up whatever cash was in my account. It was a mess!

Parents threatened me. Kids were upset. Police investigated me. Suppliers called at all hours of the day. The man who had heard the cries of starving children in Africa had the reputation and popularity of a snake.

What did I do?

I faced the mess and walked through it one horrendous day at a time. A few painting jobs came my way and I tried to pay back people as much and as fast as I could. I lived with a friend and ate Ramen Noodles often.

Thus, when the vision about the line of children greeting me in heaven occurred in the early months of 1995, I was a shell of my former self. Almost all of my friends were gone. I owed thousands of dollars. My truck payments were three months behind and the light at the end of the tunnel could not be seen by me.

Yet , the pressures and circumstances I faced seemed small compared to not fulfilling my calling and facing that unending line of children.

How did I keep my calling alive in this valley of the shadow of death?

(Continued in Part 3)

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A New Novel? Why Not? (Part 1)

 

Chapter 1

A Warm September Night in Nashville 

Mothers ruin young quarterbacks. I know this because my mother demolished my football career when I was ten years old.

That particular evening began with mama telling me I had to attend the final night of a tent crusade at Renaissance Pentecostal Church. She refused to even listen to my reasoning for not going with her. If she would have heard me out, I would have told her about the University of Tennessee Volunteers playing the Trojans of USC on television that night with Curt Gowdy doing the announcing. Every U of T football fan would be glued to the game.

“Listen up Luke Stoner,” she said, bringing out the heavy artillery, “you’re going along with me. No more discussion on this subject, you hear? Now, go upstairs and get ready.”

I bit my tongue, knowing I lost that battle, but my eyes were wide open for the next skirmish. You see, the game was not over until I sat on a metal chair next to her, listening to the fat lady singing. I trudged upstairs, removing my white t-shirt and tossing it toward the laundry hamper.

As I sat on my bed, pulling on my black slacks, I looked at a poster of Kenny Stabler hanging on the wall, next to my desk. He wore his black Oakland Raiders’ uniform with a silver number 12 on the front. My youth football jersey had the same number.

“Mama, you can make me miss the game tonight,” I proclaimed over my shoulder loud enough for her to hear in the bathroom across the hallway, “but you can’t make me walk down to the altar. It’s not my thing.”

Mama stood in the doorway to the bathroom, rolling her eyes toward heaven and brushing her long dark hair with sweeping strokes. She walked over to the vanity, laying the brush down on the walnut stained countertop. With both hands, she wound her hair into a tight bun and then clasped a hair clip to hold it in place. She accomplished all this while praying quietly.

“Mama, I ain’t wearing a tie with my white shirt. It’s too hot,” I shouted.

“Luke, you know it’s wrong to use the word ain’t, but no matter, you’re wearing a tie. Do you want me to tie it for you?”

“No! I’ll tie it myself.”

“Make sure it’s snug at the top. I want you looking sharp tonight.”

I finished dressing and trotted downstairs with a football in my left hand. My hero, Kenny Stabler, said that a young quarterback should always carry a football in his throwing hand, his fingers gripping the leather laces. He believed it produced confidence and he should know because he was the greatest left handed quarterback in the history of the NFL.

At the bottom of the stairs, I made a quick turn into the small kitchen. My right hand lifted the top of the old cookie jar and I grabbed a couple of cookies, without letting go of the football.

“Luke, stay out of the cookies.”

“Okay, mama,” I said, stuffing both chocolate chip cookies into my mouth with one motion. I figured she was too late on that call to penalize me for the theft. The soothing taste eased some of the pain of not seeing the football game.

Seconds later, she arrived downstairs, patting her dark blue dress down over her wide hips.

“How do I look?” she asked, giving me a wink.

“Mama, you’re beautiful.”

And to be honest, my mama, Melanie Stoner, was an attractive gal. The extra thickness she carried around her midsection did not subtract one smidge from her looks. Men asked her out often, but she seldom said yes because she felt her first priority was being my mom.

As for my dad, mama said I reminded her of him with my dishwater blond hair, blue eyes, and wiry build. He was a 101st Airborne paratrooper stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. They dated for four months, but then he died in a helicopter crash. Sadly, he never even knew mama was pregnant.

“Let’s go, Luke. I don’t want to be late.”

(The above is the opening to a new novel I’m writing, The Day LA Died, © Larry Nevenhoven, 2012.

(Continued in Part 2)

 

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My Greatest Fear (Part 1)

On December 24, 1993, I was a divorcee living with a friend in a small Iowa town. Like most mornings, I arose early to spend time with the Lord before enjoying Christmas with my family. My spiritual attitude was, “Okay, let’s get this over so we can eat turkey.”

Yet, even with my low level spirituality, heaven brought me a life-changing vision.

In it, I saw thousands and thousands of starving children in Africa. They were screaming at the top of their lungs from painful hunger. Their mothers held the children and the fathers stood next to them. All of the parents stared at me with pleading eyes…would I help them? Please!

The screams echoed in my ears and pierced my heart. I fell to the carpet and wept so much I thought the anguish would swallow me up right there on the spot.

Then, the screams stopped, and the vision disappeared into a deep blackness. As I caught my breath, the Holy Spirit said, “They don’t cry much after three days.”

After that, I wept even more.

I later learned that when starving children quit crying, the process is almost irreversible. They just slowly die.

When the vision ended, the Holy Spirit directed me to start a paint contracting company so I could help the poor and hungry children. I agreed to do it.

Now, let’s fast forward to today. How well have I succeeded to date?

The paint contracting company ended up totally destroying my finances, all of my friendships, my goals, and every particle of my reputation. There were times when I begged the Lord to throw me under a Greyhound Bus and put me out of my misery.

Paint contracting: Failure.

As far as helping the poor and needy children, I have sent a few dribbles of dollars here and there, but not enough to stop the echoes of the crying babies in my ears.  Yes, I’ve fasted and prayed, but even that has been sporadic over the last  nineteen years.

Helping Poor and Needy Children: Failure.

So, if I’m a total failure in all what the Holy Spirit directed me to do, why do I even keep trying, right?

During the horrendous years with my paint contracting company, I spent most of my mornings in earnest prayer. I had no other options because it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other, just to survive. I needed God’s grace each day.

Then, one morning I had another vision.

In the vision, I saw myself in heaven. It was a glorious place, filled with peace and love. As I stood there, enjoying myself, a long line of young black children assembled themselves to greet me. The line looked like it wound itself through heaven for miles and miles.

Not knowing what else to do, I walked over to the first child. His face radiated love, joy, and peace.  There was something about his manner that let me understand he wanted to tell me something. I stood there, awaiting his words.

“I died and didn’t make it into my divine destiny because you failed to fully accomplish your calling,” he said without bitterness. Every word was backed with love.

I stood there, crushed by his words as he left and disappeared.

The next young black child spoke the same words to me. And so did the next. And the next. And the next. On and on. It seemed to be a never ending line of black children who died because I failed to make it into my calling.

There will be those who will scoff at this vision and declare, “God’s grace will cover all of our mistakes on earth.”

My answer to scoffers: “Yes, His grace will eventually cover us, but what about 2 Corinthians 5:10?”

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad

My greatest fear is at the Judgment Seat of Christ I might be faced with a line of children like I saw in that vision. Each child telling me how I failed them.

So, what am I doing to keep my calling alive?

(Continued in Part 2)

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