From Abduction to Action

Maewyn was abducted

from his family home at the age of 16. He was trapped in the world of human trafficking in a third world country for the next 6 years.

He was bought by a war lord who put him to forced labor.

He had no rights.

He had no respect.

He had no love.

He looked for escape at every opportunity.

As he labored, he turned to faith in God for comfort.

There were no other believers in that area but he remembered enough of his family’s faith to get him started.

When the opportunity to escape finally came, he jumped at it. The attempt nearly killed him.

When he finally made it home, he studied more about Christ, eventually becoming a minister.

Then came the call on his life.

He had a vision in which he received a note from the people of the land of his captivity. It begged him to return.

I don’t know about you, but I would be very hesitant to return to where life was horrible. Nobody wants to revisit bad memories, much less, live among them.

The closer Maewyn got to God, the more he understood God’s compassion and the need the people of that land to get to know God.

Maewyn obeyed the call.

By now he had taken a new name to reflect his changed life.

He returned to that violent land, Ireland, under his new name, Patrick.

He brought the Gospel to a land that desperately needed it and brought about the most drastic revival Northern Europe had ever seen.

Maewyn was just a normal upper middle class teenager in his day. He suffered some extreme trauma that turned his life upside down. No one would have blamed him if he had just found a quiet place to hide the rest of his life.

But he didn’t.

Instead of letting the trauma rule him, he channeled it into compassion and action.

I know that PTSD, social anxiety, and many other conditions are real. I don’t mean to belittle them.

But what would happen if we submitted our fears and trauma to God and let him heal and use them to bring healing to others? I know it’s not easy or simple but Patrick and many others have shown it is possible and the fruits of their actions show it is worth it.

This Friday, as you enjoy your corned beef and cabbage or shamrock shake (or green beer), remember the life of that guy who brought Christ to Ireland and ask yourself if there’s anything you can learn from him. It might just bring you to a life of healing and action.

The Bristly Truth


I’m right at that point where the crazy itchiness is giving way to warm comfort.

I recently told one of my daughters that it was like a warm blanket was covering my chin. She didn’t understand. She thinks I should shave.

I’m doing a No-Shave November.

If you’re not familiar with it, that’s where men around the world go a month without shaving to highlight men’s health issues.

It would be a lie to say that was exactly what I was doing.

For one thing, I shaved this morning – but just those pesky hairs that pop up on my upper cheeks and earlobes. I know, weird, huh?

Also, I’m mainly using November as an excuse to see how my beard looks nowadays. I know it’s mostly grey and makes me look older. But I kinda like it.

I might just keep it. Stay tuned.

Don’t get me wrong, I think men’s health issues are important and if my not shaving reminds some men to get more proactive about their health, that’s great.

What I’m far more interested in is men’s mental and spiritual health.

We have become a society that measures its members by what people have rather than what they do.

There’s bumper sticker that says, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” It should say

“He who dies with the most toys dies.”

I read recently (in “The Men We Need” by Brant Hansen) about a Mouse Utopia. A social scientist set up an experiment where a group of mice were given everything they needed. They didn’t have to do anything to get food. Their enclosure was kept clean and safe. All they had to do was reproduce.

At first, they thrived. Then, they reached a peak population far below the capacity of their enclosure. The mice lost interest in everything, even reproduction. They turned violent, killing each other. Finally, the colony died off.

This happened over and over.

What went wrong?

The mice had no purpose. Their God-given instincts to find new food sources and struggle to survive were denied an outlet.

We’re not mice, but we have a God-given need for purpose.

In learning to write novels, one big thing I’ve learned is that there has to be a struggle or conflict or people will get bored and stop reading.

The same is true for people and especially men. We have been given a need to fight to survive and prosper. That includes working to support our families. But I believe it goes beyond that.

We have a need for a greater purpose – to make an impact on our world.

We have a tendency to try to fill that need with video games and sports. While there’s nothing wrong with those, they don’t do much for us. We need to make a real difference to feel fulfillment.

The bottom line is:


Step outside of your comfort zone and do something that will impact people outside of your normal sphere.

When you make an impact on this world, you’ll be amazed how much your efforts will impact you.

Moments that Move

Bob Wiley (bobble head) is excited to see the end of the book.

One day last week, I was typing along, trying to wrap up the rough draft of Wil Clarey: The Mystery at the Mill, when I got to the end of a paragraph and tears threatened to spill from my eyes.

No, it wasn’t some emotional scene.

It just hit me, as the last few words hit the page, that it was the end of the book.

With my busy schedule, it has taken me over a year and a half to write it.

It was a momentous occasion!

I was brought up to stuff emotions inside.

“If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about”

was heard around my childhood home more than once.

Later in life, even my father realized how destructive that phrase was.

Now I’m a big softy.

My kids like watching emotional movies with me so they can see me cry. Of course, I use the “I’m just stuffed up” excuse every time but they know better.

The same thing happens to me at a powerful worship service – especially if we sing songs that hold nostalgic significance to me.

Brant Hansen writes about having experienced emotional envy. (Blessed are the Misfits c. 2017, Brant Hansen). Being on the autism spectrum, situations that would be emotional to others didn’t faze him. He makes the point that those experiences and the faith that goes with them are not dependent on emotion.

When I lived in Arizona, I attended a church where the worship leader got so emotional every week that it distracted me from the worship experience. After a couple of months there, I ended up going to a different church because of it.

Worship can be an emotional experience.

So, what am I trying to say?

Is emotion good or not?

Anyone who has experienced tears of joy should be able to tell you that emotion is good. I agree. But,

Emotion should never take the place of faith.

Faith will produce an emotional response in most people. But faith based on emotional experiences has an unstable foundation.

In preparing for this blog, I tried to think of experiences I’ve had that were emotional. There were many. But it wasn’t the emotional response, but the situation and the faith involved in it that were life changing.

I could go on and on about emotions. There are so many negative emotions that can make people feel trapped.

I’ve been there.

I can offer no easy escape, but I can say that positive emotions help.

So, next time that song has you in tears, that unexpected blessing brings tears of joy, or that leap of faith brings release from anxiety, savor the emotional experience without basing your life on it.

You may just find those flashes of joy help light the way to an emotionally and spiritually healthy life based on

truth and faith.


Warm dog snuggled to my side; I gaze out on the snow melting on the deck.

Yup. It’s Winter.

I’m generally a happy kind of guy. But winter does a number on me.

Short days.

Achy joints.

And this week, sickness.

It’s just a cold (I tested negative for COVID twice), but it was enough to keep me from going to Winter Camp with my 6th grade students from church.

They’re good. Another youth leader stepped up and they have someone to lead them through the weekend.

And I’m here, nursing this crud.

What can I do?

When I first called in sick, I thought, “Great! I’ll have time to write.”

And I have written some. But, for the most part, I’ve been to cruddy feeling to engage my imagination.

Today, I feel like I’m in the middle of one of David’s Psalms where he starts out with “Woe is me” and ends up with “God is good and so is life.”

My cold symptoms are waning. I have a little more energy.

On top of that, the middle of winter was last Thursday! Spring is around the corner!

It’s weeks like this that I am reminded of my weak humanity. My human body has been weakened by a cold virus and taken my mental state with it.

I’ve given myself a break, literally. I worked from home Tuesday when symptoms started. Then I took Wednesday through Friday off work and stayed home from this weekend’s camp.

I won’t be foolish enough to overdo it today. I want to be well enough for church tomorrow. But I can channel my slowly returning energy into creative work, like this blog, and writing more on Wil Clarey Book 3 (Mystery at the Mill).

The bottom line to this ramble is:

cut yourself some slack.

If winter has you down, if sickness has been hitting you, or just the weight of life has been pushing your spirits down, it’s okay to take a break.

Regain your health. Rally your strength. Spring is coming with new life and new adventures!

If you’re stuck at the beginning of Psalm 73, keep reading, victory is on the way!