Everyday Grace

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I’ve been dithering writing this post. I’ve wanted to write something about repentance, sin and grace for a week or so. As I walk through Lent many of my readings have covered similar matters that have further stimulated my thoughts.

Further, we had a visiting Pastor speak at church the other day on the topic: “God is after my thoughts”, which added weight to some of my own ideas.

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The Belt of Truth

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Photo Source: Biblecartoons.co.uk

We’re all familiar with the spiritual armour passage in Ephesians 6 where Paul’s exhorts us to put on the armour and stand against the enemy’s schemes. As you might expect, as an author of speculative fiction, it is a passage I reflect on often, as I create my stories.

Putting the armour on is a practice that I observe frequently. Perhaps, not frequently enough, but I have it written on one of the notes attached to the base of my Mac desktop that I stare at for many hours each day: “Put the armour on!”

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What Readers Are Saying….

“Fast-paced, intriguing, thrill-ride of a read”

Mike Dellosso, author of Scream

 

“Not to be missed.”

Ronie Kendig, author of Nightshade

 

“Powerhouse story”

Dineen Miller, author of The Soul Saver

 

Endorsements for Angelguard

 

“Debut novelist Ian Acheson storms into the publishing world with Angelguard, the first in a supernatural trilogy that pits angels against demons, terrorists against civilians and a University professor against a Machiavellian businessman.  With shades of Peretti’s early novels, Acheson delves into the heavenly realm with both angelic and demonic characters taking centre stage in battles unseen by the humans they both pursue. The demons are grotesque, spiteful and exude evil in contrast to members of the Angelguard, stunning creatures, devoted to the Lord and ferocious warriors. As each supernatural being is unique in this tale, so too, the characters that inhabit the earth below. As tragedy strikes in each city, Acheson introduces the reader to a pivotal character, wounded by their losses yet imbued with a desire to fight against the fear that has infiltrated the world. Readers will identify with Thierry, Jack and Loren as survivors of each attack and be swept along as their paths merge in a way only God could have designed. Angelguard is a fast paced, arresting novel from the explosive beginning until the climactic conclusion, packed with frantic pursuits, intriguing suspense, witty dialogue and spiritual challenges. Ian Acheson is a writer not just worth watching but one well worth reading!”

Rel Mollet, Family Fiction correspondent, www.relzreviewz.com

 

“Fans of Frank Peretti’s Darkness novels will love Angelguard. Ian Acheson does a masterful job of weaving the seen with the unseen. Fast-paced, intriguing, this book is a thrill-ride if I ever read one!”

Mike Dellosso, author of Frantic, Scream, and Fearless

 

Adventure and the supernatural collide for an intriguing read in Ian Acheson’s ANGELGUARD! Witty angels, foul demons, and compelling humans all make for a read that is enjoyable and exciting. With Acheson’s unique writing style and a compelling plot, ANGELGUARD is not to be missed!

Ronie Kendig, author of Nightshade, Trinity and Talon

 

“Almost eerie in its realistic portrayal of today’s terrorist-riddled headlines, Angelguard is a powerhouse story that compels you to consider the supernatural battle waging around us every day. I for one will never again read about today’s events without thinking of them in light of God’s angel armies battling evil.”

Dineen Miller, author of The Soul Saver and Winning Him Without Words

 

“This book grabbed me from page one and wouldn’t let go. It kept me up past midnight, and then left me with fantastical dreams. Although it reads like a first novel, its fast-paced dialogue and intense action make this book unputdownable.

Angelguard refers to the angelic figures who guard those who pray. The story pulls back the curtains that separate the physical and the spiritual and imagines a realm inhabited with White Knights (the angels) wielding swords of brilliant light and murderous dark assassins (the demons) battling for the power to influence humankind.

First time author – Ian Acheson – has obviously been reading Frank Peretti! It’s very action heavy and lacking in character development. Saying that, the dialogue was sleek and smooth and the plot was never dull. Perhaps the book’s greatest achievement is how Ian portrays the prayers of the faithful tipping the balance, feeding the White Knights with supernatural strength – it’s powerful stuff.

Bottom Line: I enjoyed Angelguard, but greater things are to come from Ian Acheson. I’ll be keeping my ear to ground for the next book in the supernatural trilogy.”

James Warwood, Eden.co.uk Writer

Oceans

I was reading something today that used the image of the ocean to depict the journey of life. It struck a cord with me.

When we’re at the beach we typically wade into the shallow end, hover a little, or in my case a long time, before diving into deeper waters. My boys, Dan and Jake, are very quick to get into the deep – they’re confident swimmers and love the thrill of being at the mercy of such power and conquering it when they successfully ride a wave. Even being dumped is an exhilarating sensation: you had a go and the power of the surf gotcha this time. Oh well, let’s have another go and see who wins out. Riding a wave into the shoreline is a fantastic feeling being in unison with nature for a few seconds.

Ten years ago I ventured into the deep and thrashed around for a while, as I wrote my novel. I got tired of the battle and needing money, took the easy option to swum back into the shallows. And stayed there for almost five years whilst pining for the deep. Having made some great progress spiritually, in my relationships and with the manuscript, I retreated. I soon got sucked back into the whirlpool of work, my workaholic tendencies resumed and my heart retracted.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some real enjoyable moments, doing what you’re good at is fun and comforting, and working with some great people. But the ache of the deep wouldn’t leave me.

Soon the monotony of swimming laps along the shoreline became boring, moments of exhilaration of achievement were sparse. More significantly, my heart waned, no longer charged by the wonder of being terrified and elated simultaneously.

 

Circumstances were forced on me – thanks God.

I believe I’m now being called into the deep. To swim way out beyond anywhere I’ve ever swum. To follow my heart and, to trust.

Yes, I’m bound to take in water and maybe I’ll go close to drowning but it’s what I got to do. To satisfy my yearning. To fill my void.

To be obedient.

 

I take great comfort from God’s words to Joshua as he set out to take back the Promised Land. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)

How do you practice obedience? And what tips do you have for those moments when you’re taking in water, self-doubt and sheer panic set in? It’s too late to turn back; you’re in too deep.

 

The Void

I had attended a reunion of one of my previous employers. It’s been 20 years since I left this company, having worked there for the best part of ten. I really enjoyed my time there and still think back on those days with great fondness.

But it’s the few minutes I spent with the final person I caught up with that stayed with me for a long time after the event. This is someone who has made it – senior executive, leader, super income, lives in prominent street in prominent suburb, kids in private schools, spent time overseas with company, and the list goes on. To his credit he’s tremendously humble and gracious, not really taking any of this for granted. During our brief chat and ever since, I’ve sensed a “void” in his heart – it’s like he’s standing in a dream where he sees himself fully alive, happy, fully engaging with everyone around him. He feels trapped, he wants to grab a hold of this “other him”, the life he so wants to have, but he’s unable to take the place of the “other him”, the happy one. He wakes up from his dream, feeling frustrated, anxious almost, as another day starts, another one where he no doubt will achieve much and have a great impact on those around him: work colleagues, clients, family, and more.

 

VOID IN MY HEART

I stumbled across these lyrics from a John Mellencamp song, titled funnily enough, “Void in my Heart”. They express my colleague’s emptiness perfectly:

 

There`s a void in my heart
I can`t seem to fill.
Been a parent,had three children
And a big house on the hill.
Hundred dollar in my pocket
And it didn`t buy a thing.
Now there`s a void in my heart
And a hole in my dreams.

Well I poured miles of concrete
And strung wire for telephones,
Dug ditches whenI was a yound boy
When I first left my parents` home.
Sang my songs for millions of people,
Sang good and bad news,
Now there`s a void in my heart
And a fire at my fuse.

Well I did everything just like they said
So I could find happiness.
Went to school and got a college degree
And at my job I did my best.
As I sit here alone tonight
I see a billion just like me
With a void in their hearts and running from eternity.

There`s a void in my heart I can’t seem to fill.
I do charity work when I believe in the cause
But in my soul it bothers me still.
Hey, Lord, well you made me like I am.
Can You heal this restlessness?
Will there be a void in my heart
When they carry me out to rest?

 

Mellencamp describes it well. We all have experienced this feeling at some time in our lives: a hole in my heart and under-nourished relationships.

 

I think this malaise is very prevalent amongst men – Mellencamp puts a number to it, “a billion…” We’re fed the lie about career, achievement, getting stuff whether it’s possessions, sex, power, whatever. Even doing good “charity work”, as Mellencamp suggests, doesn’t fill the void. None of it fills the hole. Why has depression become so prevalent in society when we are the most affluent society to walk the earth? And it’s not just the have-nots that are suffering, it’s those who have enjoyed the fruits of our affluence.

 

I sense it in many men I meet.
As Mellencamp cries out in question – “Hey, Lord, well you made me like I am,” – is this it, or am I supposed to live the rest of my days with this restlessness?

 

I feel lucky because I’ve felt pursued, pursued by God. (More of that later). And I reckon He didn’t make us to live with this restlessness.

 

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus says in John 10:10b. So it’s pretty clear then in answer to Mellencamp’s cry – we weren’t created to live with a void.

 

So how do we fill it? How do have life to the full?

 

There’s lots I don’t know yet, but I’ve started out on the journey I should have commenced 30 years ago when I first met Jesus at 16. As a good friend said to me only today, he reckons his first 48 years were an apprenticeship and now life really starts. Well, that’s kinda how I feel too. I’m extremely grateful to be able to start out on this discovery.

 

I hope you will share it with me and I hope you stop by every so often, add your thoughts on your own situation as it’s likely many will be experiencing the same and I could sure do with the added encouragement too.

 

What Inspired Angelguard?

I get asked this a lot.

Now I’m writing this fully aware that most of you don’t know the story except for the blurb that you can find here.

Yes, it’s about the supernatural.

But no, it’s not another vampire, werewolf or extraterrestrial novel. And there is nothing wrong with those novels even though I don’t typically read them.

This is a novel where angels and demons feature as much as humans do. I believe both exist and have an influence in all of our lives.

Now I may have just lost a bunch of readers having read that last line but I hope the rest of you will read on.

I believe in the spiritual world that the Bible talks about.

Don’t worry this isn’t going to be a sermon but rather an outline as how the novel began.

2002 – a watershed year for me

If you haven’t already please have a read of my “About Me.” A lot happened in 2002 for me: went to DisneyWorld, woke with 2 words in my mind, left my job, started hanging out with Jesus again, and started writing what became Angelguard.

In a later post I’ll share more detail about the process I went through over the past ten years to get my first novel written, and accepted by a publisher.

On coming home from Florida I became increasingly unhappy in my job. As a result I started looking around for alternatives and engaged an executive coach to assist me. The 12 weeks I spent working with Brett were tremendous as they helped shape so many aspects of my life, not just career.

Through this process, my desire to be reacquainted in a church community grew strong, not to mention reconnecting with the Big Guy upstairs. But also, a desire that had laid dormant for the best part of 30 years, awakened.

I wrote a lot as a kid. I read a lot of novels too. I loved escaping into the fantasy both outlets took me too. Stories of good and evil featured prominently.

But one day, I can’t even remember when, I just stopped writing.

The Thin Veil

I met Jesus as a 15 year old and soon became interested in the spiritual domain, the one where angels and demons hung out. I didn’t understand it but was fascinated by the Old and New Testament stories of angels appearing.

My Bible knowledge was limited but it too was full of stories featuring good and bad guys and gals.

I read Frank Peretti’s “Darkness” series in the late 80s, early 90s. The two novels were a real eye-opener for me. Besides being great stories, they revealed the “thin veil” that exists between the natural and supernatural worlds. I love that expression: “thin veil”. Erin Healy, a wonderful suspense writer, was the one who introduced me to describing it like that.

Having devoured the two Peretti novels many times, I noted on my invisible Bucket List, a desire to write something where the natural and supernatural worlds collide.

Then I forgot about it, as life got messy.

Back to the Future

I woke that January morning in a Disneyworld hotel with those two words on my lips.

Two words that were also the first I typed when I set out to write my first novel.

“It’s time.”

 

 

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