by David Sisler

I am a starter. I am not always a finisher.

At present I am reading at least eight books.

Kathleen Norris has written, says The New York Times Book Review, "an engaging meditation on the language of faith." I heartily agree. Starting almost two years ago, I have now read 79 of the 80 chapters which examine the vocabulary of the church (my slow reading is an attempt to make this great book last longer). Entries such as "eschatology," "incarnation," and "apocalypse" have removed layers of centuries-old varnish and those topics are, once again, objects of Amazing Grace.

On the subject of prayer, she writes, "Prayer is not asking what you think you want but asking to be changed in ways you can't imagine ... When a prayer is answered, it is never in a way that you expect."

In the powerful chapter, "Sinner, Wretch, and Reprobate," she shouts, "I am a sinner, and the Presbyterian church offers me a weekly chance to come clean, and to pray, along with others, what is termed a prayer of confession. But pastors can be so reluctant to use the word ‘sin' that in church we end up confessing nothing except our highly-developed capacity for denial."

For years I have been told that one of the "must reads" is The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis. For years I have been avoiding "must reads" – it is a character flaw I guess. A recent conversation with a friend spurred my interest and I am two-sevenths of the way through. I am giving away no secret when I tell you that this series is a spiritual journey and Aslan, the golden lion, represents Jesus Christ (the resurrection scene is powerful, indeed).

The Story Teller series by Steve Stephens is a recent find. Writing in the style of an ancient oral historian, Stephens retells Biblical stories and portraits in moving, dynamic fashion. I finished The Book of Beginnings in just a few days – the stories of Garden-Maker, Man, Woman, Merchant, Princess, and the rest, are that compelling. The series continues through The Book of Leaders (my current read), The Book of Kingdoms, and The Book of Sorrows.

Other books I am currently reading are: A Life of Prayer, Cultivating the Inner Life of the Christian Leader, by Paul Cedar; Pontius Pilate, a biography by Ann Wroe; Red Smith on Baseball – The Game's Greatest Writer on the Game's Greatest Years, by Red Smith, and The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order, arranged by F. LaGard Smith.

There is a Tom Clancey novel in the list, but I can't find it.

Purchased, but as yet unopened since arriving home are: Teach Yourself QuarkXPress 4 in 14 Days (does that mean you have to open the book); The Names of God, Discovering God as He Desires to be Known, by Andrew Jukes; The Meaning of Prayer, by Harry Emerson Fosdick; and Till My Tale Is Told, Women's Memoirs of the Gulag, edited by Simeon Vilensky. There are many more books on my desk in the unopened category, but this will be enough ammunition for my beloved wife to chastise my spending habits. Heck, I've just loaded the weapon and handed it to her.

I am writing ten books.

My agent has the third version of a Star Trek novel I started in 1995. The first time it came back with a letter shaming me for contributing needlessly to the death of trees. The second rejection letter said it was a good story, but not one they wanted to pursue "at this time." Once more unto the breach, dear friends.

Alex Dancer: The Sleeping Land is completed through four chapters and stars a cat burglar who, while helping a policeman in Pittsburgh, travels to Russia.

Between the Hedges has nothing to do with college football in the great state of Georgia. Rather it is a rewrite, looking for a publisher, of Hold Me to It! A Study of God's Promises to his People.

A short story about Joseph, Jesus's stepfather, is in the research stage.

Research for a book on leadership has been completed (I think there will be a chapter about people who start too many projects).

I am tinkering with an idea about The Time Traveler who meets, and falls in love with a beautiful woman, and realizes if he does not do something to alter his own time stream, she will never exist in his world, so he destroys his own world and creates ours. Or is it hers, or maybe his, or why does this make my head hurt?

I have outlined three more Star Trek novels. And if the Star Trek novel now under consideration at Pocket Books is turned down, I will remove part of the story and create a separate, stand-alone fantasy story about... well, that would be telling.

I have one published book, a study of the seven words Jesus uttered when he was dying. Entitled FINISHED!, it is undergoing a rewrite.

And in all of this, I am reminded of Jesus of Nazareth, "the author and FINISHER of our faith," the Savior who hung naked between heaven and earth and shouted "IT IS FINISHED!" so loudly that the ground quaked, graves open, and dead men walked alive, witnesses to the life-changing power of the Lord God Almighty.

Christ is risen!

He is risen, indeed!


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Copyright 2001 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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