Book Trailer for Deceptive Storms

Watch and comment!  Thanks!

Deceptive Storms “Live”

Deceptive Storms is now available on amazon.com.  http://www.amazon.com/Mary-M.-Hall-Rayford/e/B00BAW31CQ  If you enjoyed the excerpts, you’ll love the book.storm cvr

Can’t Nobody Do You Like Jesus

Forgetting the obvious grammatical inaccuracy, never a truer statement was ever made.

When we get right down to it, there is absolutely no one who can do for us, through us and to us like Jesus!  Hallelujah!

Forget about all those who profess to be your friends–when the going gets tough–they leave you abandoned, wondering what happened.  Not Jesus!

Even family members jump ship at the slightest roil in a situation–they cannot handle the turbulent waters and they choose the life boats because of a lack of faith–in you and your relationship.  Not Jesus!

When we feel all alone, isolated, miserable and devastated–we can count on Jesus to remind us–we are never alone, never unloved, and we always on His mind!

When we need direction and wise counsel–don’t count on people who are just as flawed as you are–take it to The Lord and let Him work it out on your behalf.

Looking at everything that could happen and knowing that we can only trust in the Lord–yeah, can’t nobody do us like Jesus!

Deceptive Storms Excerpt 6

When Paul finished talking to the principal, he left his car in the school’s parking lot and decided to take a stroll around the building.  He checked every nook and crevice he thought a student could hide, but he couldn’t find Vernon.  He finally went back to his car and drove towards the bridge where he knew all sorts of things took place.  Sure enough, he spotted Vernon talking with a guy who looked pretty seedy; he sat in the car watching and then decided to take a picture when he saw them make an exchange.   When Paul got out of his car, the guy he didn’t know ran in the other direction.  Vernon looked up to see why the guy ran and saw Paul and readied himself for the lecture, he knew was coming.

“Vernon!  Hold on a minute!  I’ve been looking for you,” Paul told him.

“Yeah, well you found me.  What up?”

“I was just at the school making arrangements for an assembly and I wanted to ask you and some other young people to participate.  I got a chance to talk to Ronald and Stephanie last night, but you left before I could get to you.  So, how about it? Would you be interested in participating?”

“Nah.  I ain’t got time for that assembly crap.  That’s for the nerds—Ronald and Stephanie would be perfect.”

By now Paul was standing directly in front of him and looked at him closely.   Vernon’s eyes were glassy and red.  He refused to look directly at Paul and kept fingering something in his pocket.

“Okay, Vernon.  Since when did a school assembly classify as “crap” and why do you call Ronald and Stephanie nerds?  I thought you all were friends.”

“We was, but you know, things change,” Vernon responded sullenly.  “I don’t need no assembly in school trying to tell me anything.  Those things are always so lame.”

“Look at me, Vernon.  Look at me!” He was close enough to Vernon to reach out and grab him, but he didn’t.  “What is going on with you?  You’re skipping school, your grades are failing, and you’re standing here high as a helium-filled balloon.”

“Man, I don’t know what you talking about,” Vernon started, but Paul interrupted him.

“Don’t even try to deny it.  I know the symptoms and signs.  Working at the rehab center with kids for the last nine years has taught me a great deal.  I do know how to recognize the signs when someone is using.  So, what are you using?  And like I said, don’t try to deny it.”

Vernon gave him a dirty look and then shrugged his shoulders.  “What’s it to you?  I ain’t bothering you none?”

“What…are…you…using?” Paul repeated, firmly stating each word.

“Okay, okay!  It’s no big deal.  I’m just smoking a little weed, that’s all!” Vernon shouted, angrily.  “Man, get off my back, you not my father.”

“No, I’m not your father.  I came looking for you because I wanted to talk to you before I talked to your father.  And the weed—it is a big deal.  I almost lost my life after smoking some weed—my little indiscretion cost my parents a fortune and me a scholarship.  So, don’t tell me, ‘a little weed is no big deal’.  Any weed at all is a big deal, the sale and use of it is illegal and you are too young to get strung out on it.” He watched him fidgeting with his hand in his pocket.  “What’s in your pocket that has you more interested in it than in what I’m saying?”

“Ain’t none of your business what’s in my pocket!”  Vernon pulled his hand out of his pocket and was clenching his fist.

“Oh, I’m making it my business.  And what’s next…?—I see your balled up fist.  You think you can take me on?”  Now, Paul did grab Vernon by his collar, pushing him back against the pillar of the bridge.

Vernon was choking and couldn’t breathe and he tried to pry Paul’s hands from around his neck, but couldn’t.  Paul relaxed his hold on him, but didn’t completely let him go.

“Now, I’ll ask you again. What’s in your pocket?”

“Come on man.  I told you.  A little weed,” Vernon wheezed his response.

“Pull it out your pocket!”

Vernon hesitated and Paul tightened his grip.

“Okay, okay, here!” Vernon held up the bag in his hand.  What he had was not “a little weed, but enough for him to sell and make some serious money.

Paul let Vernon go and snatched the bag out of his hand. When he opened it, he discovered 15 tiny zip-lock packets of weed.  He was still blocking Vernon’s escape so he just looked at him disgustedly.

“Do you know how you’re messing up your life with this garbage? Do you?  I should just throw it in the river, but I really wouldn’t want to destroy the fish.  Not like you’re destroying your life.  And your father—what would he say about this?”

“Man, leave my father out of this.  He’s got enough problems of his own.”

“Vernon, I can’t leave your father out of this.  He has to be told.  Now the question is—who’s going to tell him, me or you?”

“I ain’t telling him nothing and he won’t believe you!”

“He will when I provide him with the evidence.  I took a picture of you and the guy that ran off.  Just what do you think he’ll make of that?”

Now, Vernon was scared.  With his father’s temper and all of that secret stuff going on with him, he knew he was in trouble, but his immaturity and lack of real bravado wouldn’t let him back down.

“Go ahead!  Tell him.  Show him all the pictures you want to.  He’ll listen to me and then blame everything on you.  Try him!”

The Legacy Of A Double Portion

Something to think about before we ask!

THE RIVER WALK

Read: 2Kings 1:1-2:25, Acts 13:42-14:7, Psalm 139:1-24, Proverbs 17:19-21

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”
“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.
“You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said. (2 Kings 2:9-10)

discipleship

Relate: A portion of Elijah’s spirit is not like mashed potatoes. I’ve got a plate at Thanksgiving and someone scoops a portion of mashed potatoes on it. My brother Jordan loves potatoes so much he says, “I want a double portion” so they give him two scoops. Elijah had a portion of the spirit, Elisha asked for and received twice as much. No. That’s not a double portion.

A double portion goes more like this: I am the second of eight kids in my family, the oldest of the four boys. Had we been born in ancient Hebrew times…

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Deceptive Storms Excerpt 5

Reverend Jenkins pulled his ego up from the basement and grabbed a jacket.  As he picked up his brief case, he smiled.  “Not yet, not yet,” he thought.  “It will be all right, in good time.”  He whistled a low tune as he headed out the door.  Once in his car, he mentally began practicing a humble posture.  He saw himself, with head bowed, eyes riveted on the pastor, nodding in agreement to whatever was going to be said.  He practiced appearing interested in the pastor’s personal life by determining what kinds of questions he wanted to ask and to feign surprise or interest.  This meeting was important.  He had to make the pastor feel comfortable with him in order to get him where he wanted him—out of the church in disgrace—was his plan.  And he had already figured out how to do it.  With a little bit of help, he would soon be the rightful pastor of Christian Faith Ministries, the way it should have been.

He groaned inwardly when he thought about how he had been cheated with the appointment.  He had been warned when the church joined the ecumenical organization that a church appointment was not automatic, simply because someone had been a member of the church.   He knew that most of the congregation had really enjoyed the ministry of the Recinoire’s; he just didn’t think he had to worry about the appointment.  Wrong.  He had misread the entire situation.  That wouldn’t happen again.  He had plans and nothing was going to get in his way.  “Nothing, nothing, nothing,” he muttered aloud.

Pulling into the parking lot, he took a deep breath, rotated his head and neck to relieve the pressure and prepared to play the role of his life.  He turned off the engine, snatched his brief case off the passenger seat and climbed out of the car.  After locking the doors, he walked confidently into the church, ready to plant the seeds of his plan.

****

“Come in,” Cal responded to the knock on his door.  Looking up from his notepad, he waited.  When Reverend Jenkins entered, he rose, came around his desk, with extended hand to greet him.

Reverend Jenkins took the extended hand and shook it warmly, clasping Cal’s wrist in the process.  Smiling, he sat in the chair indicated and sat back expectantly.  Cal retreated to his chair behind the desk and sat contemplatively.

“Thanks for getting here so soon,” he began.  “Your message seemed a bit urgent, how can I help you?”

“Well now, Pastor, I didn’t really call you because I needed help.  I called to see how I could help you.  It’s been a pretty busy first year, so I figured, you could use a little more help around here.  I’m at your disposal to do whatever it is you need done,” Reverend Jenkins’ smile stretched across the lower half of his face without reaching his eyes.

“I must admit I’m surprised at your generosity.  You know the rumor-mill has it that you were upset with not getting the position here.”

“I was disappointed.  Now that I’ve had a chance to see what you’ve done in just a short period time, I’m relieved that I was not appointed pastor.  I don’t honestly know if I could have accomplished what you have.  At any rate, I do know about the rumors and I decided that it’s time to put them to rest.  I wanted to make sure that at tonight’s meeting there is no doubt in anyone’s mind about where I stand.  I want to see this church grow into everything God intends for it to be.”

“I appreciate your attitude Reverend Jenkins and I welcome your assistance.  At the moment, I don’t have anything specific in mind, but I’m sure something will surface soon.  We have more than enough to do to keep everyone busy.  Did you have anything specific in mind?”

“Well, you know we could stand raising some money around here to develop the surrounding land.  Our young people are pretty talented and I was actually thinking about having them perform a knock-out concert.”

“That’s a splendid idea!” Cal exclaimed.  “I was thinking about something similar.”

“Wonderful!  Perhaps, we should present this idea at the meeting tonight.  You know, in order to prepare a concert the magnitude that I’m thinking about, we’ll need at least a year to get everything in place.”

“That’s fine.  I’ll just add it to my agenda under new business.  I’m glad we had this chance to talk and I look forward to working with you on this.  I’m sure the congregation will be glad to see us on the same page as well.  How’s your son?  Doesn’t he sing with the youth choir?”

“Yeah, Vernon sings with the choir.  He could do a better job with some additional training, but it keeps him involved in the church.  He’d rather play basketball than sing, but I’m working on him.”

“Perhaps, we can utilize him to organize some basketball tournaments.  I’m sure he knows other young men who would be interested in playing.”

“I’m sure he would.  I’ll run that by him when I see him later.  Well, I’ll get going so you can get ready for tonight. Thanks for taking the time to see me.”  He stood and extended his hand, ready to leave.

“Anytime.”

Cal stood up and shook hands with Reverend Jenkins across his desk.  As Torrance Jenkins walked out the door, Cal felt as though he heard a faint siren.  He went to the window and looked out, but could not see any reason for an emergency.  He stopped and listened again, but heard nothing.  Shaking his head, wondering if he was hearing things, he sat down and took up his notepad.

 

(Excerpts posted in random order–book available very soon!)

Deceptive Storms Excerpt 4

Paul Anderson, the greatest athlete known in the community high school, had been awarded all sorts of scholarships to college and had many offers from various colleges.  It was the spring just before he graduated that things fell apart.  He and some of his buddies had been out celebrating their impending graduation and all of their accomplishments in high school.  When someone pulled out a joint, at first Paul refused—thinking about all he had ahead of him.  After a while, someone dared him to take a drag.  Never one to resist a dare, he accepted the joint and inhaled deeply, sputtering as he coughed.  The other guys laughed at him, but his eyes were smarting and his lungs burning.  He didn’t see anything funny.  The longer he sat, watching them pass the joint, the calmer he became until he finally took another hit.  This time, he didn’t sputter or cough, he just sat back and grinned stupidly.  By the time he got ready to go home, he couldn’t focus.  The world seemed to be moving faster than he was and he was trying to catch up.  He heard laughter faintly, but he couldn’t see who was laughing.  They all appeared to be far away. Finally, he heard someone say, “we gotta take him home.  He can’t drive like that.”  Unfortunately, they didn’t move fast enough. Paul had walked out the door, keys in-hand.  He struggled to get into the car and to get the door open, but he finally got the car started and headed home.  That’s all he remembered of that fateful night.

When he woke up two months later, he discovered that he had totaled his car and had been in a coma for the last two months.  Doctors confirmed the drugs in his system and he was ticketed for that and his license was suspended since he had a probationary license.    Once he woke up from the coma, he was in rehab for another month, learning to walk all over again.  While there, he experienced first-hand what drugs and alcohol could do to a person and to their families.  There were a number of addicted teens in the rehab, struggling to overcome—their addictions and their family’s disappointments.  While he could sympathize with their plights, he had to deal with his own.  His family wasn’t rich and they incurred an enormous hospital bill for his care and their car insurance rates when through the roof.  He was able to graduate with his classmates, but college had to wait because of the publicized accident and the drugs in his system, scholarships were revoked as were offers from the colleges.

He spent a few months in a wheelchair and suffered the agony of watching his parents, deal with his situation.  They didn’t say anything-nothing, and that made it all worse.  He would have understood if they had yelled or screamed at him or even beat him, but they said nothing.  They just looked at him and shook their heads, sadly.  Of course they were glad he was alive, but the thought that their son was on drugs devastated them.  It took him a long time to earn their trust.  But he did.  He never forgot that night and how easily a person could slip into dark behavior.  Fortunately, his disability was not permanent.  With constant therapy and a determination to overcome, he did.  He worked to put himself through college and never again, took life for granted, grateful for the second chance he’d been given; especially after he saw the damage to his car.  Only a miracle kept him from being killed.

Working to pay for college was a blessing and one he took to heart.  He ended up working for the rehab center where he had been a patient.  He understood the struggles, the temptations, and the desire to get out from under.  His preference was to work specifically with teenagers who were addicted to drugs. He thought that he could better relate to them and when he made a change—to live for Jesus—nothing could convince him otherwise.  Most of the young people were able to relate to him, but then there were a few who thought he was just too straight-laced to understand them.  No matter what he did, he couldn’t get through to these few, but thankfully, there were more he reached than not.

It was his work with teens at the rehab center that first got the attention of Pastor Cal.  He had been attending church when Pastor Dee and Pastor Cal arrived in London.  After a few months, he had been approached by Pastor Cal to work with the youth at the church.  Paul had never thought about a call of ministry on his life, but he prayed before giving Pastor Cal an answer and was then shown in the Word and in his spirit, God’s will for his life.  He had completed a course in ministry and had been ordained, ready to do the work.

Deceptive Storms Excerpt 3

When Cal entered his house, he was grateful that there were no lights on upstairs.  That usually meant that D’Cerner had fallen asleep.  He had just hung up his coat and hat when the phone rang.  He grabbed it, but too late.  D’Cerner had picked up the extension in the bedroom.  He hurried up the stairs to intervene in the conversation, but when he walked into the bedroom, he could tell by the look on her face and the tears streaming that she knew.

“Dee, I need to you to listen to me.  I don’t know what someone just told you, but it’s not what you think.”  He sat down beside her and tried to pull her to him, but she resisted and stared at him.

“Dee, say something.”

With a deadly calm, she responded.  “What do you want me to say?  How was the kiss? Was it worth it?  What exactly do you want me to say?”

By the time her last question was asked, her tone had risen several decibels.  She was flushed and breathing hard and Cal was scared.

“Dee, you’re getting upset and you know that could be dangerous for you and the baby.”

“Really? You think I’m getting upset!  I am upset!  How could you?  I thought we had worked this out.  I thought you said you could wait eight months.  ‘I’ve waited over fourteen years, I can wait eight months.’  That’s what you said, but you couldn’t,  you couldn’t!” By now she was crying uncontrollably; her shoulders were trembling and cries were heart-wrenching.  He couldn’t stand it.

He pulled her into his arms and held her even she tried to resist and would not let go until she stopped crying.  When she was totally spent of tears, she got up and went to the bathroom.  When she came out, she had one final blow.

“Get out!  You can either sleep in the den or at Chassida’s.  I really don’t care, but you are not going to sleep in here tonight.”

“Dee, are you serious?  Over a kiss?  It’s not like I slept with the woman?”

She looked at him for a moment and said, “You might as well have.  Trust has been broken and I don’t know if it can be repaired.  Now, get out!”

She laid back down and turned her back on him.  He stepped out of bedroom totally distraught because he had never thought about not sleeping with his wife. As he crept down the stairs, he stopped at the linen closet to retrieve a sheet and blanket.  He thought about going back into the bedroom to get a pillow and then decided not to risk it.  He had seen D’Cerner angry before, but this was more than anger; this was hurt –he saw in her eyes and heard it in her voice.

He put the sheet on the couch and the blanket and covered himself without getting undressed, but he felt naked—his shortcoming revealed for all to see and he didn’t know how he would proceed from this point.  He tossed and turned and turned and tossed, until eventually, just as the light of dawn was rising, he fell asleep.

 

Smash All The Babies (6/19/13)

THE RIVER WALK

psalm-1379-smash-all-the-babies

Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks! (Psalm 137:9)

Read: 1Kings 20:1-21:29, Acts 12:24-13:15, Psalm 137:1-9, Proverbs 17:16

Relate: Before I begin to write any post, I will always spend some time in prayer and then reading that portion of the Bible that is part of the Bibile reading plan. It is a devotional for me long before I write it out as a devotion for the world. Sometimes immediately a verse jumps out to me and as soon as I’m done reading I will go right back to it. Other times there will be a theme running through both the Old Testament and New Testament readings and I will work off that theme. [2015 addition: On occasion, like today, I will simply go back to a post from a previous year dealing with that same scripture.] As I was reading today I was thinking…

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Excerpt from Deceptive Storms

“Minister Anderson, come quick!  We need help.  Someone spotted Pastor Cal stuck between some trees on the river bank!” Vernon came in screaming.

D’Cerner panicked.  Her heart pounded so loud she could barely hear what others were saying.  All the men headed for the door with ropes.  For a moment, she thought she was going to faint, but somehow, she reached deep down inside, took a deep breath and got up.  She felt like she was outside of herself, looking at what was going on, but had no control over it.  She got her raincoat and hat and went out the door before anyone could stop her.  She started walking, battling the wind and the rain, barely able to see directly in front of her.  She prayed—for guidance, wisdom, and strength to find Cal.  The closer she got to the river bank, the slower she was able to move because of the rising water.  By the time, she reached the farthest point she could go, she had to stop.  She called him.

“Cal,” she yelled, trying to be louder than the wind.  “Cal, where are you?”

She waited, hoping to hear a response, but getting none, she plodded through the water a few feet north of where she was standing.  She called again and again, no answer.  She kept this up for almost an hour and then just as she was about to give up, she heard him.

“Cal, where are you?”

“Dee, I’m over here hanging onto a branch.  I can’t hold on much longer.”

“Cal, hold on!  I’m coming.  Keep talking to me so I can find you!”  She sloshed through water already above her waist.  She listened to him, talking to her, but his voice was fading.

“Cal, keep talking, I’m getting closer.  Don’t you give up on me!”

“Dee, go back!  The water is too deep!  Go back!”

“I am not going back without you.  Just hold on!”

“I am holding on, but I’m getting tired.  Can’t hold on much..”

“Hold on, you hear me!  Hold on!”

“Dee, I love you! I’ll always love you!”

“I love you, too, now hold on! I’m coming to get you!”

By the time she reached a clearing where she could see him, she heard the snap of a branch and then saw him floating by holding onto the branch, but his head was sinking under the water.  That was the last she saw of him.  She heard herself screaming and then she knew nothing.

She collapsed in the water and would have been swept away by the fast-moving current, but the men who were looking for Cal to save him were right behind her and two grabbed her, while the others waded out further, tied to each other in order to hopefully reach Cal before he was carried further out into the river.  They watched him bobbing in and out of the water for about fifty feet when suddenly he stopped moving.