In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give than receive.” Acts 20:35
To become an encourager to others, we need to allow encouragers into our life. To encourage those who are weaker, we must identify our weaknesses. To feed the hungry, we should know the pangs of hunger.
Fasting has a personal purpose that emphasizes our dependent relationship upon God, but it also reminds us what it means to do without and experience genuine hunger.
I challenge you to fast; learn what it means to feel real hunger pangs. You will find yourself closer to God through the experience, which will allow you to better sympathize with others in genuine need. God can use you then to become a better encourager effectively reaching out and caring for others in need.
For stories that reflect the lasting benefit of being a genuine encourager, visit TMBrownAuthor.com and order a copy of Sanctuary or the sequel, Testament.
Are You Willing to Step Beyond the Safety of Your Front Porch?
I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:22-23
To what extent do you dare to reach out and touch someone? Too many well-meaning Christians stand feet-planted on their safe front porches, preferring to shout the good news some passerby might hear. Then there are some brave soles who go out beyond the safety of their surroundings and venture onto less familiar grounds where those with the greatest need reside daily. There they touch lives and make friendships so that the God’s message can be seen and heard through face-to-face conversation.
We must become like Paul; willing to leave our comfort zone to impact others in need. We must be willing to get to know them and they must get to know you before they trust you and the message you wish to share. Caring and sharing cannot be done from a distance. It only can be accomplished within arms reach! And your arms only stretch as far as your feet take them. What holds you back from reaching out to others? Are you waiting for them to come to you or crossing the bridge to meet them where they are?
Are you trying to be all things to all people to make a difference in some who will seek to listen?
TMBrownAuthor.com – my stories try to reveal these messages through the interactions and often conflict between people. Visit my author page to learn more. Fiction is nothing more than real life and truth masked to make the story more palatable and in some cases more plausible. Even the Bible carries such stories to share an underlying message or truth.
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15
Does your heart have God as its anchor and the words and example of Christ Jesus inspiring you? If so, the hope of dwelling forever with God is real to you. This eternal hope removes all doubt that God cares for you and you discover his encouragement, empowerment, and equipment to face every inevitable challenge in this lifetime. And, all this is God’s gift for the asking because he wants you to experience life with him, and to witness to all who may ask for the reason of the hope you have within you.
So these questions remain: Are you prepared each day to explain the reason for the hope that resides within you? Do you know the heartfelt words that will testify of Christ’s influence on your life?
Our testimony before others is not about quoting scriptures or singing hymns of praise but sharing in your own words what it means to have God as the anchor in your heart! “Being prepared” is not intended to be a motto, but a new way of life for every born-again, child of God.
A man cannot help others unless he can learn to help himself, and having God as the anchor of one’s heart is the beginning of always being prepared to respond to others in need.
Therefore, if you…remember that your brother has something against you, first go and be reconciled to your brother… Matthew 5:23-24
Okay, first of all, it is important that all our relationships are right before we can have a right relationship with God. Note in this particular verse, it is not that you have a problem with someone, but that someone has a problem with you! If someone feels slighted, cheated, or merely angered by something you have said or done it is imperative on our part to reach out to that person and seek reconciliation. Never walk away thinking it is their problem even if you are not angry. If someone is not right with you, God declares the responsibility lies with you to make it right.
More than likely, people develop issues with others due to misunderstandings or something failed to be communicated clearly. Any interpretation of the facts without your input only fuels the other person’s fears of rejection. Certainly, I cannot promise that all the fences may get mended by your earnest efforts, but the majority will. For those seemingly unmendable fences, allow time to do its work. Rest assured that you at least made a God-pleasing effort to make it right.
Remember we are God’s ambassadors and He too works daily to patch up broken relationships between people. Reconciliation is God’s goal with all His creation. It’s not that God needs our relationships for any ego purpose. He desires our relationship with Him and with all others to be right because we are His creation. So do as God is doing each day and go the extra mile when trying to make right our relationships that have gone astray no matter who is at fault or to blame.
“…let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1
What about your day-to-day living causes you to lose focus as a Christian? Are there choices you’ve made that continue to hurt you physically, mentally or spiritually? The Apostle Paul rightly proclaims an urgent request of all young Christians – STOP doing what you used to do. It is interfering with your new life being like Christ. Take away the idols that hinder you and sidetrack you from enjoying the fullness that God desires for you.
Who we are as a person begins with a thought that grows and sprouts like a seed planted in fertile soil into visible attitude and action. An incorrect notion may seem innocent enough, but it may prevent you from pleasing God, pleasing only yourself.
Consider all the areas of your life. Pray about the changes you need to make in your life. Some will be harder than others, but your decision to change will reap incredible rewards. You will also discover that there is nothing you cannot change about yourself if you allow God to be the impetus for change. He will become and provide his spirit of change.
The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem. “Absolute futility,” says the Teacher. “Absolute futility. Everything is futile.” What does a man gain for all his efforts he labors at under the sun? A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets; panting, [it returns] to its place where it rises. Gusting to the south, turning to the north, turning, turning, goes the wind, and the wind returns in its cycles. All the streams flow to the sea, yet the sea is never full. The streams are flowing to the place, and they flow there again. All things are wearisome; man is unable to speak. The eye is not satisfied by seeing or the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. Can one say about anything, “Look, this is new”? It has already existed in the ages before us. There is no memory of those who came before; and of those who will come after there will also be no memory among those who follow [them]. Eccl 1:1-11 (HCSB)
We all want to be different, or at the least, uniquely special. However, though we may be unique in many ways, we all travel the road of life the well-traveled and well-marked road of life prodded by many long before us, and many more will assuredly follow us on this same road. The choice we get to make is how we navigate this road of life among all the others who share the road with us. Let us be clear; there are no new paths to choose, just enticing highways with dead-ends should any of us choose to wander off onto our ways. God declares there is but one way to follow him. All other ways are futile and paths of destruction for any of us who decide to navigate our ways.
Look at the world around us; see how God’s creation share his unique, undeniable hallmark. Even nature’s winds and waters behave specific ways, just as the stars and planets have predictably paraded in the heavens as reliable guides for millennia without deviation. The living creatures on land, in the waters, and in the sky migrate and roam the planet in their never-ending cycle of life as well.
However, God has given mankind an inquisitive mind. Unlike the rest of creation, man has the innate nature to pursue the unknown and seek the untraveled as a challenge. When we fail to check with the Creator along the way, our eyes and ears become preoccupied with the prospects of the new, the uncharted paths, we tend to perceive them as new to us, but is not nascent to God. It is a simple fact we too often ignore – nothing exists outside Creator God’s will, ways, and wisdom.
So what must we do? Is futility a trait of maturity? We mature as we realize just because something appears new to us, nothing is new to God. The moment we assume we have captured an original idea, a uniquely created revelation of some truth within our mind, we usurp the role of God in our life. Our life should be a constant pursuit of expanding our understanding the absolutes and realities that flow from our Creator by his grace and will. He alone knows what we are capable of comprehending and benefiting from for his higher purposes. Therefore, as we stumble and bumble our way along the road of life, seek daily to uncover and embrace the discoveries found through exploring God’s will, ways, and wisdom. Trust God alone, and never our selfish desires and understanding…because on our own, we can only claim to discover the dead-end that waits for our arrival! Life awaits all who trust God’s sure ways and perfect will. But God created us with a choice to choose? Do not let futility rule your life.
A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of one’s death than the day of one’s birth. It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, since that is the end of all mankind, and the living should take it to heart. Grief is better than laughter, for when a face is sad, a heart may be glad. The heart of the wise is in a house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in a house of pleasure. Eccl 7:1-4 (HCSB)
Being told you have a lot of promise to run the race doesn’t make it so. Being told you come from a great family does guarantee victory in the race either. Until we have competed in life and put forth the effort, we have not earned the right to claim honor for our name, nor the victory for a race we have not run.
Success and fame are not something you can claim – they must be earned and are received. Success and fame arrive after the crown has been placed upon you by those you have impacted and gained favor from during the race of life because no one attains success or fame while still at the start line of the race. What accomplishment can you claim before the race has even begun? You may certainly look good in your fancy track shoes and your uniform may make you look like a winner, but it is in the running of the race that earns the accolades once you cross the finish line.
The Teacher in this passage clearly makes the point that one’s lifetime of achievements become worth remembering after the results of the race are posted, and thus far more valuable and rewarding than the applause and back-slapping during the race.
I have been a part of many funerals that have turned into a celebration of memories, a genuine testimony of a person’s positive impact on the lives of others. From another perspective, how sad would it be if no one attended your funeral? The tragedy in the Christmas Carol story is that Ebeneezer Scrooge gets to foresee that without a change in his miserly, lonely ways, no one will mourn his death. No one will miss him after he is gone except as the brunt of jokes and ridicule. What a legacy of a life wasted on selfish ambition and values that took from others and never shared with others. Scrooge became too enamored by his own idea of success and fame, he forgot to even compete in the race. He never lined up at the starting line. He chose only to compete with himself.
Consider which stage of the race you are running in this lifetime? Remember, the race of life is a marathon, not a sprint. In fact, the course to run may not be clearly marked, but there will be plenty of others running the course with you. At every crossroad during the race, your life can be affected for good or for bad by the choices you make, so choose wisely. Just remember, there’s never a shortcut to the finish line. A moment to consult God’s will, ways and wisdom is always a good investment to avoid disastrous, hasty choices. And, never trust the crowd to always choose wisely either, because most often the crowd are like sheep and follow the herd, only to learn they have blindly been drawn down the hazardous and dangerous path at the crossroads.
Run the race that is set before you, knowing someone who loves you more than anyone is standing at the finish line, calling you by name, urging you to not quit and finish strong. He knows the way because he has run the race and knows the challenges and obstacles you will face along the way. But, he also knows the reward at the end! There’s the roar of all who finished the race before you encouraging you toward the finish line. Do not give up or give in, because eternal success and fame adorn the crown waiting for you.
For those, like myself, who are still running their race, there is plenty of encouragement along the journey. You will be encouraged and rewarded by those you have helped along the way as well. Run the race set before you and seek along the way to celebrate life with friends and family until you break the finish line.
In Sanctuary, my premier Southern mystery, readers are introduced to the quaint, time-lost South Georgia town of Shiloh. The story begins as Theo and his wife Liddy desire to relocate and retire back to their country roots, after investing four decades of their lives in the shadows of Atlanta. According to the story, it is Liddy who discovers an advertisement for a quaint Craftsman home that convinced her Shiloh would be a perfect fit for them.
But, it’s what readers sense early on as they arrive in Shiloh that draws them into the story? First of all, Shiloh’s reputation paints a serene picture about this time-lost town, but like its namesake from biblical lore, reputation and present reality are subject to the whims and shortcomings of men.
Like the Shiloh of old, Sanctuary reveals that the once proud Shiloh had lost its luster and position as the county seat decades earlier. Alexandria, like Jerusalem in biblical lore, surpassed Shiloh as the center of power and influence, leaving the proud people in Shiloh with their beautiful, antebellum courthouse on the town square a victim of progress. According to the story, Alexandria blossomed during the post-WWII boom and expansion in Georgia, while Shiloh stagnated and struggled, like many real-life small towns in South Georgia. Shiloh’s conciliation came in the preserving of its beloved courthouse as it received a facelift and became reconfigured into the town’s city hall. However, the facelift and remodeling of their sesquicentenary courthouse left the edifice’s skeleton of 19th Century hewn timbers and ornate woodwork intact. Decades later, their beloved historical courthouse would be razed to the ground and steal away the life of a town hero, who rescued others from the growing inferno.
Biblical Shiloh became the first seat of governance once Joshua and the nation of Israel completed their conquest of the Promised Land. The ark of the covenant and tabernacle that had traveled for forty years found a seemingly permanent resting place in Shiloh. Israel’s priests and judges (leaders) established Shiloh as the central seat in the Promised Land until Israel felt unsettled about the way Israel was governed, and desired to be like the other nations. Not long after Israel turned to the rule of king’s, rather than priests acting on God’s behalf, Shiloh fell victim to King David’s selection of Jerusalem as his site for his palace and the building of the new temple. A rival army burned and ransacked Shiloh not long before David ascended the throne as the second king of Israel. However, he turned his back on Shiloh and chose Jerusalem for his palace.
The name Shiloh to this day still paints a different picture than the historical reality which its namesakes have experienced. One of the bloodiest and decisive battles fought during the Civil War became known as the Battle of Shiloh, in Tennessee.
Even the Hebrew origin of the name Shiloh means “place of peace,” but as history revealed, “peace” requires the cooperation of men to live up to the expectation of maintaining peace in their community. Sanctuary and its sequel play on the dichotomy of Shiloh’s reputation and the reality of its present state as Theo and Liddy soon discover upon their arrival to Shiloh that there’s a rift in the tranquility of the community.
I’d love to connect with you and offer the latest on my book tour schedule and insight into this Southern author.
Please leave any comments or questions you may have about Sanctuary or about me. Also, feel free to ask other questions concerning the upcoming sequel, Testament, An Unexpected Return, coming out March 29, 2018.
All good fiction is deeply planted and nourished in the soil of truth and reality. The settings and characters in our novels do not spring up ex-nihilo (out of nothingness). Good novels blur the lines between what is fact and fiction allowing the reader to enjoy the totality of the story as though it is real. Nothing brings a smile quicker than to be asked, “Where is Shiloh, I want to go there.”
Love is patient; love is kind; love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in truth; bears all things; hopes in all things; endures all things. Love never ends… Now, these three things remain faith, hope, love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13
Lovedesires to be free and separated from all worldly attachments so that its inward sight will not be obstructed and it will not be entangled by any temporal prosperity or conquered by any adversity. Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing more courageous, nothing higher, nothing wider, nothing more pleasant, nothing fuller or better in heaven or earth, for love is of God and can rest only in God, who is above all created things.
Those who love, fly, run and rejoice – are free and cannot be restrained. Those who lovegive all and have all in all because they rest in the one who is highest above and, from all good comes. Those who love do not esteem gifts but turn themselves above all things to the giver.
Love knows no limit and is fervent beyond measure. Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength, does not complain about impossibility, for it thinks all things lawful for itself, and all things possible.
Loveis able to undertake all things and complete many of them and cause them to take effect – where the person who does not love would faint and give up.
Love is watchful and alert even when it is dormant. When weary it is not tired, when pressured it is not stressed, when alarmed it is not confused, but like a living flame and burning torch it forces its way upward and securely passes through everything.
Anyone who loves knows the cry of the voice. For the ardent affection of the soul is a loud cry in the ears of God when it says, “My God, mylove, you are all mine and I am all yours.!”
Love is swift, sincere, affectionate, pleasant, amiable, courageous, patient, faithful, prudent, long-suffering, and never seeks its own. For in whatever circumstances when we seek ourselves (our own interests) there we fall from love.
Love is circumspect, humble and upright. It does not give in easily, act frivolous, or pay attention to meaningless things, but it is sober, chaste, steady, quiet, and guard all its senses.
Love submits to its superiors and obeys them, but is unkind and contemptuous toward itself. It is devoted and thankful to God, and trusts and hopes always in Him – even when God does not impart sweetness to it, for without sorrow no one lives in love.
Those who are not prepared to suffer all things, and to submit to the will of their beloved are not worthy to be called lovers of God. A lover should willingly embrace all that is hard and distasteful for the sake of God, and not turn away from Him because of adversities.
My daily prayer: Lord God, my Savior, my Salvation, my Strength, the Spirit of Truth and Life that dwells within me, I humbly come before you to share that I love you with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I am completely yours, and I believe in my heart you love me, and nothing else in this life I live matters otherwise. I pray likewise that I am able to love others, beginning in my family with the kind of love that you exemplify within me, so that they may discover your love for themselves and surrender their lives to you as well. Thank you, my Lord and Savior, my Heavenly Father for the greatest gift of love that defines what love truly is: Yourself for me so that I can share that love with you. You are truly an awesome God, you are my God, and if all other things in my life were lost, I know your love will remain.
Lord, as Thomas a’ Kempis prayed, so do I pray these words and thoughts to you as well: Increase my love so that with the inward mouth of my heart, I may taste how sweet it is to love, to meet and bathe myself in your love. Let love possess me so that I rise up above myself in exceeding fervor and admiration. Let me sing the song of love; let my soul lose itself in your praise, rejoicing in love. Let me love you more than myself and not love myself but for your sake, and in you let me love all those who truly love you as the law of love that shines out you’re your commands. Amen
For additional reading: Romans 8:19; 1 Corinthians 10:33; Mark 12:30
Words of Wisdom: Women, Beware the Beauty Beyond the Buttons and Bows
Moreover, the Lord says: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton (seductive) eyes, prancing and mincing about as they go, tinkling their ankle bracelets. Therefore the Lord will afflict the scalps of the daughters of Zion with a scab, and the Lord will lay bare their secret parts. In that day the Lord will strip away the bravery of tinkling ornaments, cauls*, crescents, chains, bracelets, and mufflers (veils), headdresses, leg ornaments, sashes, perfume boxes, amulets, signet rings, nose jewels, festive apparel, mantels (shawls), wimples (head and neck coverings), crisping pins (purses), hand glasses (mirrors), fine linen, hoods, and veils. It shall come to pass, instead of fragrant smells there will be putridness; instead of a girdle, a rent (torn cloth); instead of well-styled hair, baldness; instead of fine stomacher (decorative underclothing), sackcloth; branding (burn mark) instead of beauty. Your men will fall by the sword, your strength (might) in warfare. Then her gates will lament and mourn; desolate, she will sit on the ground. In that day seven women will take hold of one man, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own apparel, only let us be called by your name. Take away our reproach.” Isaiah 3:16-4:1
The Bible focuses so heavily upon man that sometimes women appear mostly neglected, mere innocent bystanders, except whenever women get portrayed as convenient scapegoats for the missteps of men. However, some significant passages warn women of their unique godly responsibilities. Isaiah offers one of those passages which also reveals the reasoning behind the attitude and attire of nuns in the Catholic Church. The passage contrasts the worldly view of women versus God’s ideal for women.
This passage provides a timely relevant message for all young women to ponder. And here are a few questions for the young ladies reading this passage: First, do you feel God made a mistake when he created you? Do you believe all those buttons and bows make you more attractive and appealing than you are? Do you think God prefers you all decked out and gussied up, rather than the way he created you? Why do you invest so much time creating an image that is not the natural you? Do you only feel beautiful by adorning and gussying yourself?
I believe this passage reveals that all the rogue, eyeliner, blush, and fuss fixing your hair does nothing for the condition of a young lady’s heart and soul. Of course, one’s vanity smiles and sashays when you adorn yourself just to draw attention. And, for what purposes? Is all your effort meant to appease Go, man, or self? From which of these can anyone gain lasting peace and security in life?
Since the earliest days, we know for a fact that women of ancient Egyptian and Sumerian cultures began to adorn themselves with jewelry, bangles, and fine apparel, and even paint their faces. Many millennia later, women in almost every culture continue this practice, so maybe history argues that God intended women to go through all the fuss of wearing fancy buttons and bows to attract the man of their desires. But, is that what God says is the most important thing a woman should place her focus?
If a woman’s vanity is focused upon her outer beauty to capture the hearts of men, has she abandoned her most significant relationship with God, her Creator? Will the man of her desires only see her for the contrived, temporal outer image, and then become disillusioned by what he discovers beneath the facade? Rather than trying to appeal to natural, sinful man, why not seek to be desirous according to God’s will, ways, and wisdom?
Remember, at the end of the day, long after you have captured the heart of any man, you must eventually remove the buttons and bows and wash your face. Will he still see your genuine, natural beauty that God gifted you? What kind of glamour will hold fast the relationship God intended between a man and a woman? God brings a man and woman together through the mutual desire of their hearts and souls uniting them as one, not all the fancy buttons and bows.
*caul (cowl) – (literally, helmeted head) is a piece of membrane that can cover a newborn’s head and face. Though rare and harmless, it is removed by the doctor or midwife upon delivery of the child. There are various types of cauls from a thin film to more of a cocoon-like covering of an infant.
In medieval times a caul on a newborn was an omen that the child was destined for greatness. The midwife would rub a sheet of paper across the baby’s head and face to remove the caul, and then presented to the mother as an heirloom. In early European folklore, a caul carried good fortune to the bearer. (Additional research into some of the renown literature of the 18th and 19th Centuries would reveal its place as a talisman of value.)
1. Better a dry morsel with quietness within than a house full of sacrifices with strife. 2. A servant who acts wisely shall rule over a son who causes shame and shall have part of the inheritance among the brothers. 3. A crucible (refining pot) is for silver, and the furnace (smelter) for gold, but the Lord tests hearts. 4. A wicked person (evildoer) gives heed to wicked (malicious) lips, and a liar (falsehood) gives an ear to a destructive tongue. 5. Whosoever mocks the poor taunts (rebukes) his Maker, and whosoever rejoices over calamities shall not go unpunished. 6. Children’s children are the crown of the elderly, and the glory (pride) of children are their fathers. Proverbs 17:1-6
If truth be told, our progeny (offspring) reflect who we were as parents. Children begin life as an empty sponge eager to sop up what they see and hear. Every child always looks to their parents as the guide for their life, even when the parent displays questionable behavior.
Sadly, this truth is easier to understand from the perspective of grandparenthood. The lasting impact of parents on their offspring is hard to grasp in the midst of raising our children. But, oh my, a grandparent’s perspective on this generational phenomenon is entirely different. So, whenever an elderly family member or close friend comes up and says, “You’re the spitting image of your father (or mother),” they may be referring to more than just appearance. Mannerisms, habits, and attitudes are learned and ingrained as children embody what they see and hear during their formative youth.
In simple terms: How parents choose to behave in front of their children matters. And, it is a choice. Every generation has the innate ability to alter their behavior and attitude as they mature. However, for many of us, the decision is not apparent until our children begin to exhibit traits that upset us. But, it is not until we recognize that our children are merely reflecting the mannerisms, habits, and attitudes we portrayed before them.
I wonder, does God allow us to catch a clear picture of our children’s likeness to stir within us a desire to change our destructive or malicious ways and attitudes? I believe, we all instinctively want to become a positive role model for our children? And we all pray in our hearts that our children will choose to behave rightly and not copy our faults.
Not only does God test our hearts, so do our children. God tests us to reveal our most significant needs of change. However, our children test our hearts to understand how they should behave and respond to others in this world. And it’s a fact: A wicked child will rejoice and take pride in being like his wicked father if that is all he sees from his father.
Grandparents have a decisive role to play in this cycle and afford a unique position and résumé of experience to identify their children in their grandchildren. So when, as parents, we get annoyed at our parents for seemingly butting in and giving us advice, understand they do it out of love, and often are trying to fix what they may have mistakenly left undone or unsaid when they reared the parent.
Let’s face it; God is our Maker. And, he wonderfully created each of us for his glory and purposes, but that does not mean we always may have done it right. God is also the author of “change.” We can choose to be transformed by God into what he intended from our birth. God likewise uses the gift of family to nurture the transformation process. Do not be angry when family members come to you and identify what they may see in us that may require change for the sake of our children or our children’s children. They are usually speaking out of the love of family! Our progeny reveals how we allowed God to transform us into his child.
Take time to scrutinize your children. See if you find yourself looking back. Does that produce a grin or a grimace? Is what you see pleasing to your heavenly Father? If so, your children should affirm that blessing through their actions and attitudes.
The one who is truly lazy in his work is a brother to a vandal. The name of the Lord is a strong tower (sanctuary); the righteous run to it and are protected. A rich man’s wealth is his fortified city; in his imagination, it is like a high wall. Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but before honor comes humility. The one who gives an answer before he listens – this is foolishness and disgrace for him. A man’s spirit can endure sickness, but who can survive a broken spirit? Prov 18:9-14 (HCSB)
Whether at school, at work, the community, or in the church, there are people we meet almost every day who are in the wall building business. You might even be in that same enterprise. Our insecurities about life, and about whom we believe we are, demand us to protect ourselves by establishing walls to keep others out. But, why would we want to build barriers and walls to exclude and divide? The wisdom of God’s Word indeed reveals there are walls created out of insecurity, and then there are the walls offering genuine security that humility provides.
The insecure person constructs impregnable barriers to isolate themselves from others to prevent others from ever knowing the truth about some shadowy aspect of their lives. These ever-growing walls are meant to keep others at a safe distance. Always far enough, so they never focus on the insecurities and fears of the person cowering behind the walls built ever higher and broader throughout their lifetime. However, the walls are just an illusion, preventing the person cowering behind the walls from ever seeing that their fears isolate them from ever establishing genuine relationships. They have severed themselves from real friendships and love for one another as God had intended. Their pride justifies their insecurity; they exist in a relationship of one – their “self.” What a pathetic, lonely existence we opt to endure when our fears rule over us.
The truly humble person has a high tower that they can run into, but the walls of this refuge are of God’s design. This secure place is a lofty refuge, a sanctuary from the tough times in life, but it is never intended to keep you there. It is where a humble heart seeks rest and restoration before confidently re-engaging life with its many relationship demands. God’s sanctuary also does not isolate nor exclude others from entering when they likewise require God’s peace and mercy. The Lord’s high tower helps all to see their proper place in life and re-focuses them on what is most important, which is not your-“self.” Lasting relationships are encouraged in this safe-place so that you can live confidently in the real world. It is a place where fears are relieved through the love found shared by others because where love thrives, fear cannot. The only price for entry into God’s sanctuary is our “self”! Humility is the currency God offers to pay the price for peace.
Decide for yourself, which leads to genuine life, and which locks you out from genuine life. Seek God’s will, ways, and wisdom and the answer may become clear.
Whoever tries to make his life secure will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two will be in one bed: one will be taken, and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding grain together: one will be taken, and the other left. [Two will be in a field: one will be taken, and the other will be left.] Luke 17:33-36 (HCSB)
In January, an updated edition of SANCTUARY – A Legacy of Memories will be available – featuring a revised introduction, an epilogue, and the addition of a sub-title. (Palmetto Publishing Group, Charleston, SC has partnered to provide some needed edits and revisions to improve the first edition of Sanctuary, and provide a bridge in the storyline to its upcoming sequel.)
TESTAMENT – An Unexpected Return, arrives in March. The sequel picks up the story at the beginning of the following July. There’s a noticeable change in Pete’s and Harold’s characters. Mary’s got a life-altering decision to make. Liddy weighs a position that will get her out of the house. The Archer family face more challenges as events unfold. Wedding bells ring while more than one unexpected return keeps you turning page after page. All the while, foreboding, ominous storms from Shiloh’s past rattle its present and reshape its future.
Visit my new Author Website or my Facebook Author page for more news on the book front from Shiloh in the coming days. In the meantime. enjoy family, food, football, and of course, reading a good novel beside the fireplace as we celebrate New Years 2018. Think y’all will like what the sequel has in store for you…
May God grant you and yours a safe and prosperous 2018!
The holiday season has crept up upon us, and the number of shopping days are whittling down faster with each setting sun. May I remind you, the days are gettin’ shorter and shorter too. Simply put, the pressure is rising to get goin’ on fillin’ your Christmas shopping list for your friends, family members, and co-workers, ‘specially them that are booklovers.
So how do you know which book is best suited as a gift this holiday season? Will you simply judge the bookcover or a couple of well-scripted blurbs meant to grab your dollar before you’ve actually checked out the book?
I’d like to help you. First, checkout the LATEST Amazon reviews for Sanctuary, a Southern flavored small-town mystery that introduces Shiloh preparing for Christmas throughout the story, while the main characters are digging up the truth about scandals and dark secrets haunting their community. However, nothing can deter Shiloh from thier busy preparations for their annual slate of “Christmas in Shiloh” festivities, including the lighting of the town’s giant Christmas tree and festive parade.
How about a taste of a “Christmas in Shiloh” portion of the story? Follow the link to a video preview of Theo and Liddy busying themselves as they prepare for their family’s arrival for Christmas in Shiloh. Click the picture of Jolly Old St. Nick and me…
Otherwise, here’s my LIMITED TIME OFFER: Send me your name and email address by commenting at the bottom of this post or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll send you by return email right away a 33-page preview of Sanctuary. See for yourself if it’ll make a good Chrisitmas gift for your loved ones and friends this season, or possibly you’ll order a copy for yourself too. Hundreds have invested in Sanctuary – how about you for yourself and the book-lovers on your holiday list?
I’m wagering, between taking a minute to see what others have said about Sanctuary, and reading the opening chapters, you’ll get hooked and will order one or more copies for your bookloving family and friends, and of course your own reading pleasure.
Although I am a huge supporter of all my independent book retailers, read about Sanctuary on Amazon and peruse all the reviews.
Paperback and Kindle!
Merry Christmas! From my family to yours.
T. M. “Mike” Brown
You can also reach me on Facebook @TMBrownauthor
Remember, Testament, the sequel to Sanctuary will be out in early 2018 too! Stay connected for details on its launch date. T. M. Brown’s Shiloh stories continue…
Y’all Southern mystery lovers, Sanctuary is the holiday read you’ll enjoy this year. Here is a sneak-peek to whet your appetite so you’ll be sure to get your copy.
Click on my photo and I will present some images that reflect Theo’s and Liddy’s first morning in Shiloh, a time-lost South Georgia town they have chosen to reconnect with their roots. However, they end up wrestling with far more excitement and adventures than they bargained for after they arrive.
In Chapter 2 they awaken to the new sounds and sights that draw them back to their earlier days before college, marriage, and a career that kept them in the shadows of Atlanta for the past forty years.
Get your copy of Sanctuary. Checkout the links on the sidebar of my page, or contact me directly for your own personalized, signed edition.
NOTE: Testament, the sequel due out early 2018! Stay tuned for more details soon.
Enjoy this short sneak-peek into Sanctuary’s story, then click on the video links on the side panel to learn even more.
After [enjoying our first meal in Shiloh], we decided to stretch our legs and venture into the center of town. On the town square, Liddy found a bench next to the walkway and admired the unique architecture of Shiloh Baptist Church across the street. My interest fell upon the bronze statue we saw earlier.
Spotlights highlighted the young man’s chiseled face. He wore a collared polo shirt with a “SHS” monogram above a fleur-de-lis over his heart. A coach’s whistle hung from his neck, and a Bible rested in one hand while the other pointed upward. The life-like detail monopolized my attention until my eyes drifted to the plaque at the base:
JESSIE MASTERSON, BELOVED COACH AND TEACHER, SACRIFICED HIS LIFE SAVING THE LIVES OF TWO OTHERS THE NIGHT THE ORIGINAL COURTHOUSE BURNED DOWN, DECEMBER 8, 2010.
I stood with my arms crossed while my instincts conjured the possible story behind those two dozen words.
Here’s the first of several “Sneak peeks” at Sanctuary. In this scene, Theo and Liddy have packed up and left the shadows of Atlanta in their rearview mirror. They in the midst of their drive south to their new home in Shiloh…
On the outskirts of Albany, Liddy stirred and wiped her eyes as the late afternoon sunlight glistened between the tree tops. She cleared her throat, lowered her sunglasses from the top of her head, and surveyed the passing scenery before she asked with a drawn-out sigh, “Where are we?” I pointed to a well-timed road sign. “Albany’s 30 more miles. Looks like we’ll arrive in Shiloh a little before six.”
We soon turned onto the Flint River Highway, the homestretch leg of our journey. The amber glow grew darker as the sun disappeared below the distant treetops. Liddy bit her lower lip and clenched my hand. “Do you think we did right? I mean … buying this house and leaving Peachtree?”
My wink and affirming grin brought a smile to Liddy’s relieved lower lip. “You’re right,” she said. “But how well do you think we’ll fit in?” My smiling face bobbed up and down. “Trust me. A town like Shiloh won’t allow us to remain anonymous long.”
Liddy’s attention diverted to weathered barns and sheds with rusted tin roofs along the side of the road. “We must be getting close.”
* * * *
Though a contemporary mystery, its colorful characters are timeless and reflect values and traditions governed by their reluctance toward change.
Come join Theo and Liddy Phillips as their story unfolds after they arrive in lil’ ol’ Shiloh expecting a peaceful retirement in a town much like they grew up in decades beforehand, only to discover Theo’s curiosity about a tragic event does not receive a warm and welcome response by everyone in their new rustic town.
Click the image below and visit Amazon to purchase your copy of Sanctuary. Available in paperback or Kindle editions.
Would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or question.
Enjoy this short video that my wife took during my opening as I shared insights and a reading from the beginning chapter of Sanctuary. Sorry it cuts out as Theo and Liddy arrive into Shiloh, but guess you’ll need to get your own copy of Sanctuary for the rest of the story…
Please support your local independent bookstore. Walk in and ask them for a copy of Sanctuary by T. M. Brown. If they don’t have it on the shelf, they can easily order you a copy. (Yes, you can get your Kindle or paperback from Amazon too, but why not support the bricks and mortar retailer investing in their community?)
Sanctuary covers a specific timeline as Theo and Liddy’s story unfolds in the late Fall and ends on Christmas Eve in Shiloh. This makes this heartwarming small-town Southern mystery a wonderful holiday gift for family and friends.
Nothing changes about the original book cover, however the promo images infuse the “Christmas in Shiloh” imagery.
As a proud author-member of Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA), I personally encourage you to contact your local independent bookstore to purchase your copy of Sanctuary.
For those in the Greater Atlanta area, visit Horton’s Books and Gifts in Carrollton, GA. I’ll be there on Saturday, September 23rd. They already have Sanctuary conveniently available on their online shopping page… Horton’s Online Book store
REMEMBER: There are two current noteworthy promotions underway.
(1) From all the reviewers of Sanctuary, twenty-five will be selected after December 31st to receive advance copies of Testament, the sequel due to release early 2018.
TESTAMENT, available 2018 – “Shiloh wrestles with an unexpected visitor from its past…”
(2) On a first come first serve basis, there are four (4) Kindle versions of Sanctuary available. Just go to my Facebook Author Page and comment why you love Southern mysteries or what you find intriguing about Sanctuary. Remember this is a limited offer so don’t hesitate to respond.
For schedule of all my author events in the coming weeks please go to my Facebook author page. As the holidays approach, do you think Sanctuary might make a convenient holiday gift for your book loving friends and family members on your Christmas list.
Take advantage of the giveaway on my Amazon web page. Click the photo to find your way to enter. Contest ends on Labor Day. No strings or catches!
Sanctuary is a great Southern mystery for the holidays. Theo and Liddy leave their suburban home behind and move into their new home in sleepy Shiloh in November. The townspeople are engaged in their final preparations for their annual “Christmas in Shiloh” celebration as Theo is drawn into what happened to Jessie Masterson the night he died, and ulitmately Jessie’s cousin, John Priestly, who is sitting in prison. Theo uncovers dark secrets and scandal that their new neighbors and friends tried to sweep under the carpet, but their emotions begged for answers.
What would you do if you uncovered wrongs that needed to be made right, but the possible consequences likely come with a cost? Would you let sleeping dogs lie, or…?
Feel free to tell your family and friends about the free Kindle ebook giveaway, or order your own paperback copy today.
If you’re in the Atlanta area over Labor Day Weekend, stop by the #Decatur Book Festival. Saturday I’ll be at multiple venues thropughout the day, culminating at 5:30 in the Courtyard by Marriott Auditorium where I’ll be taking part in the Atlanta Writers Club Fiction Track Panel discussion, followed by a booksigning time. Earlier in the afternoon, you can find me and my wife at Deeds Publishing tent, where Sanctuary will be on sale throughout the festival, from 2:15 – 3:15 along with my friend Dana Ridenour, author of Behind the Mask and Beyond the Cabin. From 4:00 – 5:00, I’ll be signing copies of Sanctuary at the Atlanta Writers Club booth too.
Within this novel suited for the holidays you will meet some very unique and interesting people that live in the small town of Shiloh as they look forward to celebrating “Christmas in Shiloh”, a normally special time in this time-lost community. A serious fire that caused a well-known landmark to burn down in this town took the life of Jessie Masterson before his time. Although he saved many from the same fate, no one could save him. But there is much more. John Priestly, the well-respected head coach of the football team – a team that rose to fame and glory under his and Jessie’s leadership. Both men were respected and revered by so many of the young adults, teens and others as they created not only harmony among team members but within the community too. Establishing a place called Sanctuary where young people and anyone else could come to talk, listen, understand and worship in a different way helped foster friendships that can never be severed.
Your sanctuary can be a sacred part of a religious building as in a Christian church in which the altar is placed. It is sometimes a consecrated place or the room in which general worship is held. In this book you might say it is more of a place of protection, refuge, understanding, hope and tolerance where everyone could meet, listen, talk and find solace in their own way.
But, let’s back up for a minute and meet Theo and Liddy Phillips who moved to the South Georgia town of Shiloh were welcomed and greeted upon arriving by a group of congenial and wonderful people who opened their arms and doors to them. A town that appears to be friendly and warm, yet as you gather round the many dinner, lunch and outdoor events you will learn something lurks beneath some of their congenial smiles. Theo, formerly the chief editor of a publishing company, may have retred but of course does not want his journalistic instincts to get stale or rusty. Meeting the owners of the only newspaper in town, Larry and Martha are thrilled that he agrees to do a special, investigative feature story on the life of two members of the community: Jessie Masterson who lost his life in the fire and John Priestly who is sitting in prison for supposedly embezzling school funds.
Living in the home previously owned by Betty Masterson, John’s mother who passed not long after John was convicted, and taking this part-time assignment with the paper, he falls into an interesting daily rhythm as Liddy, Theo’s wife joins in many activities with the Pastor’s wife, Martha, and other prominent women in this small town, which happens to be in the midst of preparing for their annual Christmas in Shiloh event.
Theo dives into the archives of the newspaper with the help of the publisher’s daughter, and he realizes that there is much more to this mystery and the cause of the fire. When he questions the young people in the town, the Mayor, the Pastor, Larry the owner of the paper and others he learns that there is some doubt of John’s guilt, and that John refused to defend himself in court. Eventually everyone will learn why.
Harold Archer is the Mayor and his oldest son is Hank whose wife works for Harold at City Hall. Everyone warns Theo of Hank’s volatile personality and advises him never to deal with him alone.
What I really enjoyed reading about were the interactions between Theo and the younger people that are so polite, job oriented and have their own roots within this small town and how they interacted with Theo and the respect shown to him and Liddy is heartwarming and encouraging. I think that young adults, teens and younger children can learn some real lessons in manners, morals and family traditions and dedication.
Harold Archer’s family owns the construction company in town and profited from some of the projects by over 12 million dollars due to extras and add-ons. When John Priestly challenged the quality and rising costs of the construction work hard feelings festered. Theo visits John in prison, thanks to Joe Arians, John’s lawyer and new friend of Theo and Liddy, hopeful John will shed some light on why he did not fight the charges in court.
(You will need to read this engaging Southern mystery for the rest of the story, which climaxes during Shiloh’s grand Christmas in Shiloh holidays celebration.)
This is a town where nearly everyone opened their arms and hearts to Theo and Liddy, cusing you to wonder if God did not send them there to reunite the town and rid it of its sorrows and secrets.
Author T. M. Brown brings us inside a town filled with love, warmth and most of all heartfelt love for each other. So many lessons for young people to learn about respect, understanding, family values and most of all faith and forgiveness.
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews/MJ magazine
To order your copy, visit your local independent book retailer, Amazon or request a signed copy directly at @TMBrownauthor.
The greatest threat to any Sanctuary, where hope, peace and the presence of God’s embrace reside, is the pervasive cancer of sex, violence and vulgarity.
According to recent statistics, novels replete with explicit sex, violence, and vulgarity continue to thrive as the flavor of the month in book sales. However, should authors kowtow to earthy content to increase book numbers?
Good writers engage their audience so well, scenes calling for sex, violence, or vulgarity communicate through the actions and attitudes of the characters. Thus, allowing the story to unfold without explicitly necessitating every sordid detail.
I believe an author’s responsibility is not only to entertain but also engage readers, so they sense they are witnessing the story as it unfolds.
What images race through your mind that depicts anger and rage? Do you picture contorted faces and threatening gestures, or do you need to be explicitly told? Consider this scene from my book Sanctuary:
Hank gritted his teeth as the veins on his neck swelled, and his eyes glared through me. “Well, I think you’re putting your nose into places you’ve no business being.” He uncrossed his arms and pointed at my chest. “I’m warning you. Stay away from me and my wife!”
“Hank, I’m sorry if I’ve said or done anything to upset you. Have you spoken to your father?”
“This is between you and me. Stay out of our lives.” Hank’s effort to be more composed fell apart.
… Hank pressed his finger into my sternum. “This is all I’m going to say to you about Jessie or John…” He thumped his finger against my chest adding emphasis to each word. “I’m truly sorry about what happened to Jessie, but John got what he deserved. And you can quote me on that. Now back off! I’m warning you.”
Pete stepped out from the shadows, unceremoniously interrupting Hank’s exchange with me.
“Mister P, is everything okay?” Pete asked as he glared at Hank. “Hank, who’re you warning about what?”
Hank surveyed Pete and the four remaining shadows just out of the light. His finger fell to his side, but his distended veins on his neck swelled even more. “Pete, this has nothing to do with you or any of you guys!”
…Pete extended his finger just shy of Hank’s chest. “How in the blue blazes do you know it don’t involve us? If you think you can flex your muscles and intimidate one of my friends, you just made it my business.” His stern warning and unflinching stare froze Hank.
Granted a few expletives could’ve been exchanged, but did the scene work anyway?
John Grisham achieved his decades-long success capitalizing on his uncanny knack of drawing his audience’s attention upon his colorful characters and settings. Doing so, he exited scenes involving sex, violence or vulgarity using innuendo. In fact, Grisham’s Theodore Boone YA mysteries found a broad new audience without much of an adjustment in his storytelling to do so. Neither should we to reach a wider audience to sell more books.
Sanctuary, a Southern mystery novel that celebrates small-town life dealing with 21st Century challenges while trying to move beyond scandal and dark secrets holding the idyllic, time-lost town of Shiloh hostage as Theo Phillips and his wife, Liddy arrive in town to retire. For more information – TM Brown FB Author Page or CoachBrown.org
The Write Spirit: Man pens a book for his grandchildren
THE NEWNAN TIMES-HERALD, Jun. 24, 2017 – 6:30 AM
By JUSTON LEWIS – email@example.com
(T.M.) Mike Brown had traveled parts of the United States for more than 30 years before deciding to settle in Grantville.
Brown has worn many hats over his lifetime – businessman, coach, teacher, preacher, inspirational speaker. Recently he took up the mantle of author.
According to Brown, he was eating at Redneck Gourmet with his family when first hit with the idea to draft a story. He stepped outside into the square and had a conversation with his wife, Connie.
It started with a what-if question. He asked himself, what if he could write a story about a small town to share with his grandchildren.
“I wasn’t really sure where the story would go,” Brown said. “I just wanted to do a story to my grandkids that would involve my grandkids.”
From there it was a process that took two years. Brown drafted a titleless story that was relatable to his very own life and that his grandchildren would be able to read and understand as they got older. Once all the writing and editing was completed Brown said he felt relieved.
“I was ecstatic, I felt like I accomplished something,” Brown said.
Little did he know he was just getting started with his writing journey.
During peer review the name “Sanctuary” was suggested as a title. Brown said he knew immediately that was the perfect title.
Once the story had a title, he had to find a picture, and he did such stumbling upon a picture of a burning courthouse. Brown did research on the picture and found the backstory to the picture and eventually visited Hancock County where the picture was from.
They had rebuilt the courthouse, and it was in a “timelost town” as Brown put it. The town of Sparta, Hancock’s county seat, was very similar to the fictional town of Shiloh that was the setting in Brown’s book.
Seeing this Brown, said it all had come to culmination. He finally had completed his book. He faced a few minor setbacks with the promotional period, but now he is back on schedule and is doing book signings across Georgia.
He will be hosting an author meet and greet at for Sanctuary at Corner Arts Gallery in downtown Newnan on July 1 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and July 6 and 13 from 6-8 p.m.
Brown says that his second book, “Testament,” is in the editing stage, and he is hoping for a fall release date.
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Go to https://www.facebook.com/TMBrownauthor/ or to discover more about my Southern novel, Sanctuary, a small-town mystery with a message of family and community inspired by Newnan, GA, just up the road from my home.
What can be more inspirational than our family? If you live near Atlanta, especially Coweta County, come checkout Newnan’s historic Court Square. There you will discover a quaint shop, Corner Arts Gallery in the shadows of the “Old County Courthouse” and the setting that inspired the setting of Shiloh, the small-town in my premier Southern novel, Sanctuary. There’s where Jenny Jones and her staff will gladly offer you a signed copy of Sanctuary.
I will be onhand to answer questions and sign more books Saturday, July 1st -10am-2pm; Thursdays, July 6 & 13 from 6-8pm for NewnaNights Mid-Summer Entertainment evenings. I also would love to celebrate the Fourth of July with you at Crossroads Church on Hwy 16, Sharpsburg, GA from 6:30 until Fireworks go off. I will be among the other vendors offering refreshments, food, games, and crafts on the church grounds.
Sometimes a short video clip says much more than a wordy response. Click on the image above to view a brief clip of a prelaunch interview conducted prior to Sanctuary’s April launch date. Then head over to Amazon to checkout the recent reviews and then order either the paperback or ebook version.
Have you added Sanctuary to your ‘Must Read’ Summer list of books?
Would you be interested in receiving a free advance copy of Testament, the sequel due out early 2018? Send an email or leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.
A 5 Star Review by Linda Pifer
‘Time crept while I stirred and tossed in futile attempts to capture any semblance of actual sleep. Capitulation arrived shortly after four when I poured a cup of coffee and sat down in the living room…Okay Lord what are you trying to share with me?’ Theo Phillips, Main character Ch 20, pg. 169
When the author used the descriptor, ‘a couple of southern minutes’, I knew I was in for a treat as main characters Theo Phillips and his wife Liddy started retirement in their new hometown of Shiloh, Georgia.
Thank-you for this inspiring, funny and heart-warming journey with Theo and Liddy as they accept the challenge presented them and become part of the town of Shiloh.
Another 5 Star Review by Jedwin Smith
Here’s a mystery almost all of us can dig our teeth into, especially those born and bred in Small Southern Town, USA.
Well, as those good-ol’-boys like to say, pull up a chair and settle back for the type of old-fashioned whodunit that kept the Andy Griffin Show community spellbound for years. And while you’re at it, give ol’ T.M. Brown a well-deserved round of applause for giving the literary world a rousing mystery suitable for all audiences.
As we like to say in the South: “Well done, son!”
You can check all the other reviews on Amazon, Goodreads or visit T. M. Brown’s Facebook Author Page. While visiting take a moment to hit the “liked” button to stay informed about news on the sequel’s release and author events and specials.
With Testament, Book 2 of my Shiloh series, currently in the hands of Deeds Publishing, I am enlisting those who have read my premier Southern mystery novel, Sanctuary, to become pre-launch ARC reviewers for the sequel. Those selected will receive a free “Advance Reader Copy” to read and offer a review prior to the official launch of Testament in early 2018.
If you have read or plan to read Sanctuary, please let me know if you’d like to be considered as an ARC Participant for Testament. Simply comment below or email your interest in becoming an eligible ARC prelaunch participant.
Please include your answers to these simple questions to be considered:
What was your takeaway from reading Sanctuary? What does the title Testament suggest about the sequel’s story? Which characters intrigue you the most and why?
What does the title Testament suggest about the sequel’s story? Which characters intrigue you the most and why?
Which characters intrigue you the most and why?
There’s still plenty of time for you to order and read a copy of Sanctuary to be included in this offer. Click the image below to order either the paperback or eBook version, or email me for a signed hardcopy to be mailed directly to you – postage free – a limited time offer.
ARC readers will be notified shortly after the Labor Day deadline for submitting your responses.