What if Jesus meant what He said?


I wrote an article last year entitled What If. (Click HERE to read) It was one of those moments where I just kept asking the question over and over about a variety of things. It’s something that sparks inner dialog and even more questions. It makes you think. I know it did for me anyway.

I’ve been a Christian for quite some time now, but I haven’t truly known what that means until just in the last year or so. See, we’ve been taught so many things in churches, and unfortunately, many of those things are just plain wrong. It’s time to open our Bibles, get alone in the secret place with our Father, and allow the Holy Spirit to speak truth.

Something that baffles me is how easily we stake our belief system on what someone says. Or teaches. Or preaches. Before you light up the torches and fashion a stake, hear me out.

There is a place for teachers and preachers. No doubt about it. What scares me is when these people base their doctrine, or beliefs on what they’ve experienced or seen, and not on what Jesus said.

Hebrews 2:6-9 says (emphasis mine):

But one testified in a certain place, saying:

“What is man that You are mindful of him,
Or the son of man that You take care of him?
You have made him a little lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And set him over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” 

For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

This is an amazing passage of scripture. 6,7,and 8 talk about how ALL things have been put into subjection under our feet by God. We are after all, man…mankind. That’s who he’s talking about here. When I read this, I think of praying for someone to get healed, taking authority over demonic spirits, and situations where we can’t see God working. These are areas where we might be easily shaken because immediate results are lacking.

We might pray for someone to rise out of a wheelchair and walk, and they don’t. That shouldn’t determine our belief system on healing. From that one experience, we can’t say healing isn’t for today. Why? Because the evidence we don’t see with our own eyes, doesn’t change the truth of God’s word. Jesus said one of the signs that follow believers is that they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. Hebrews says we might not see everything yet, but we see Jesus.

It’s a clear directive to keep our eyes on Christ no matter what we see or experience.

If we pray for someone, nothing happens, and we immediately feel like a failure, we have no faith at all. Faith is believing what Jesus said, praying for someone, and praising God no matter the outcome.

So many doctrines and beliefs come from human wisdom and experiences. It’s a tool used by the devil himself to deceive people.

I’m sure everyone on the planet knows who Brittany Maynard is by now. The 29 year old woman with terminal brain cancer who moved to Oregon so she could take advantage of the death with dignity act. This story is so sad to me. Let’s get something straight right off the bat. God came to give life, He doesn’t take it. Satan is here to kill, steal, and destroy. Cancer is straight from the pit of Hell, and it’s God’s will to heal people from the horrible disease. Jesus laid hands on people, and they were healed. If it wasn’t God’s will to heal, Jesus would have been going directly against His father. That just wouldn’t happen.

There is no such thing as terminal illness in the Kingdom. We’ve been given the same power that raised Christ from the dead. I believe 100% that Brittany could have been healed from that horrible disease. I’m not mentioning this as judgement towards her or her family at all. Not even close. It’s just an modern day example of whether we believe the words of Jesus or not. And there is no guarantee she would have even allowed a believer to pray for her. And that’s okay. Cancer is one of the largest, fear causing words in the English language. Fear isn’t of God. We don’t need to fear cancer. We need to believe we have power over it through our Savior.

And please don’t get me wrong. I’m not being insensitive to those who have lost loved ones from any kind of illness or disease. I am so very sorry for your loss.

The body of Christ needs to wake up and embrace the truth that we have power. God is the giver and creator of life. Satan is here to destroy us.

Mark 16:15-18:

15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

What if Jesus meant what He said?

High Price


The worth and value of something is determined by the price paid.

My heart breaks this morning for the lost. For those who have never been told how amazing and valued they are in the sight of God. That they are not an accident. That they are not just an unplanned pregnancy. That they are not a mistake. They need to know that God saw and chose them before the very foundations of the world were ever formed.

Millions of people walk the Earth with an identity that is based on the ebb and flow of life, and not the truth of the Gospel. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done. It doesn’t matter where we came from. GOD LOVES US. PERIOD.

The sad thing is, it’s not just the lost who are suffering identity crisis. It’s also many people who call themselves Christians.

We allow the circumstances of life to determine our worth, value, and identity. We are shaken and wrecked when “bad things” happen. We sing songs about the mystery of God’s love. We wonder if God still loves us when things aren’t going well. We reduce ourselves to sinners just trying to do good, hoping that God is pleased. We strive for His favor.

God sent Jesus to die on a Cross.

Why does that fact alone not stop the questioning? How much more could He possibly love us? He wants to live inside of us. Wait, let me repeat that. Read this very slowly. God, the Creator of everything, the giver of life, desires to dwell inside of us. Why do we still think there is something we can do to earn His favor? Our value and worth has already been determined and sealed. It doesn’t matter what people think or say about us. It doesn’t matter what happens at work. It doesn’t matter that we were picked on in high school.

At any time, Jesus could have stopped, flung the cross to the ground, and said “That’s it. I’m done.” Looking up at the Father, He could have said “Why are we doing this? These people don’t deserve it. Look, they are throwing rocks at me, they are punching me, whipping me, spitting on me. I’ve done nothing wrong! I have done nothing but love them, heal them, and feed them. This isn’t right. Father, get me out of here.  I’m not going through all of this for these people.”

But He didn’t. He hung there battered, bleeding, and marred more than any other man and said “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Look into the mirror and smile. You were created in God’s very own image. He wants to take down the For Sale sign inside your heart, give you a new one, and claim it as His home. Embrace His love. Die to your self, your past and everything you want. Allow Him to completely take over and transform you into something new and shiny.

With His death, Jesus paid a high price for us to live.

Voice of an angel


I need to brag on my wife today. Not only is she an awesome mother of two girls, amazing bride to a guy who doesn’t deserve her, and the most compassionate, loving person on the planet, she also has a voice that will send you into an early rapture. I’m not kidding. Your chill bumps will have chill bumps.

I set up a page here on my blog to share her amazing talent. God has truly blessed her with the ability to spread the love of Christ through song. Please take a moment to listen, and comment to let her know how awesome she is. (If you listen and get swept away into the clouds, we’ll just have to hear your opinion when we reach Heaven.)

Click HERE for her page.

I am truly thankful for those of you who visit and read my blog on a consistent basis. WordPress says I have over 20,000 followers, but I usually only see 100-200 hits per day. That’s okay though. It’s not about the quantity of people who follow you, it’s all about the quality.

Jesus had 12 followers, and He completely set the world on fire.

Have a blessed day in our Lord.

New buying option


I have decided to add a new option for buying my books. Using a website called Sellfy, I am able to offer PDF versions of my titles. If you don’t have a Kindle, or don’t want to mess with installing the software on your computer, you can purchase the PDF version and start reading right away. My latest book, I Was There, is available to purchase now. They make it easy to pay through PayPal.

I will set up a page with links to my other titles soon.

Click the picture below to purchase the PDF version.

Click to purchase
Click to purchase

The Stranger – Chapter Ten


The Stranger was the first novella I published on the Amazon Kindle store. It’s currently for sale at a whopping $.99. I’ve decided to post it here, on my blog, in it’s entirety, for free. I am passionate about writing posts that demonstrate the love and grace of Jesus and what He’s doing in my life, but I also love writing fiction.

Here’s the plan. For the next ten weeks, I will post a chapter each Friday. Let’s call it Fiction Friday. Feel free to hashtag the crap out of that. I hope you enjoy the story. If you like this one, I have a couple more on Amazon. You can find them here: Author Page

Chapter Ten

“Dillon, can you hear me?”

Unable to see anything but darkness, I slowly opened my eyes. The throbbing pain inside my head had vanished. I waited several seconds before trying to move. I decided to take things nice and easy. The room materialized into focus, and I looked upon a man sitting in a chair directly across from me.

“Dillon? I know you don’t like these sessions, but we need to talk.” He was dressed nicely in a suit, but no tie. His darkened hair contained streaks of gray, revealing a hint of his age. On the table between us, laid an opened spiral-bound notebook. He held a pen in his hand.

“Do I know you?”

He smiled, but for reasons unknown to me, it didn’t lower my anxiety level. “Of course you do, Dillon. We’ve been meeting together for a long time now. You took quite the fall today, so things might be a little…fuzzy for awhile.”

I blinked several times so my eyes could adjust to the dim lighting. The room was modest, just the table and two chairs. Cold, drab, cement walls surrounded us on all sides. It reminded me of an interrogation room I had seen in many movies. The feeling swirling through the air was somewhere between cozy and frightening.

I frowned. “Where exactly am I? Are you a doctor or something?”

“You could say that. What do you remember, Dillon?”

“What do you mean? Remember about what?”

He smiled again and a chill slithered down my spinal cord. I tried not to shiver.

“Let me put it this way, what is the last thing you remember?”

I started to answer the question but realized I didn’t remember anything except for waking up in that room. He noticed my hesitation and leaned forward. I struggled to make sense of the chaos inside my mind. Clouded bits of memories flashed briefly, but disappeared before they were discernible.

“I…I’m not really sure. I keep seeing these images in my head, like short bursts of pictures, but they don’t make any sense.”

“Can you describe what they look like?”

I shook my head. “They don’t last long enough for me to get any details.” I looked at the floor and then closed my eyes, concentrating. “I see some woods. It’s raining. There’s a cabin. I think someone is with me, but I can’t tell.”

“Good, go on.”

“It’s almost like I feel scared, like I’m in a very bad situation, but I can’t see anything else.” I opened my eyes and looked up. “I’m sorry. I know that’s not much detail.”

“You’re doing great, Dillon. We’re not in any hurry. We’ve made some significant progress, which I’ve put in my report.”

I glanced at the notebook which he had yet to pick up. All I could see were blank pages. “Is that what you’re writing your notes in?”

“Some. Not all though. This is merely to keep track of the session. I put everything into the computer once we’re done. I keep remarkably thorough records.”

I sat there wondering when the light bulb would come on and I would start remembering things. I had a feeling that the good doctor wasn’t telling me everything. It was as if he had placed a puzzle in front of me, but kept several key pieces tucked away inside his pocket. Not only that, he also hid the box so I couldn’t see what the picture should look like. “What’s your name?” I asked. “You know mine, I think it’s only fair I know yours.”

“Of course, Dillon. My name is Dr. Parker.”

I had expected to hear the sound of a large gong and an announcement that I had won the grand prize of getting my memory back. I was sorely disappointed. The name meant nothing to me. “Hmm, Dr. Parker…and we’ve been meeting like this a lot?”

He nodded. “We meet once a week, sometimes more if the situation calls for it. Like today, for example. Our normal session isn’t until next Thursday, but after the incident, they called me in right away.”

“Incident?” I asked. “What incident?”

Dr. Parker leaned back in his chair and folded one leg across the other. He studied me for a minute without saying a word. “You were involved in an altercation earlier this morning. You hit your head painfully hard on the concrete floor. I’m surprised you don’t have a headache.”

“I remember having one earlier, but I’m not sure when. I woke up in here and now it’s gone. What exactly happened?”

“That’s what I’m hoping you can tell me. Your mind has blocked it out for whatever reason, and we need to figure out how to extract the memories.”

Dr. Parker stood up and pulled a syringe from one pocket.

I shifted in my seat, beginning to feel terribly uncomfortable. “What is that for?”

He walked around the table and stood beside me. “This will help you remember. It’s designed to remove any mental blocks your subconscious has established as a defense mechanism.”

He removed the cap and flicked the needle a couple times. He applied a small amount of pressure to the plunger and a tiny stream of liquid squirted from the tip.

He reached down to roll up my sleeve, and I raised a hand to stop him. The clank of metal reached my ears and I realized my arm had not raised as I intended. I looked down to find I was handcuffed to the chair. “Wait. What’s going on?”

“This won’t hurt much.”

I felt a small prick in my upper arm, much like that of a bee sting. I grimaced, but the pain relented almost instantly. Dr. Parker returned to his seat after discarding the needle in a bin underneath the table. He stared at me with the same, disconcerting smile.

“What was that stuff?”

“You wouldn’t be able to pronounce the name of it, so I won’t bother telling you. You will start feeling relaxed which means it’s working. I’m hoping it will break down the mental blocks around your suppressed memories.”

I swallowed dryness and tried to clear my throat. My tongue felt thick. “Hoping?”

Dr. Parker nodded. “Yes, Dillon. Hoping. It’s experimental, and you just happen to be subject zero. We needed someone to test it on, and you fit the bill perfectly.”

“Am I supposed to be making sense of what’s going on? Because I’ve got to be honest, I’m so confused right now.” I looked at my hands again. “And why the nice, shiny bracelets? They’re kind of tight.”

“Protection.”

“From what?”

“Yourself.”

A ripple bent the room as the ceiling became the floor, turning upside down, hanging for a moment, and then righting itself. “Whoa. What was that?”

Dr. Parker smiled. “Don’t Take Life Seriously,” he said.

A sudden burst of fire shot through my head and I cried out. The searing pain was so intense I felt my eyeballs threatening to pop out of their sockets. I screamed again and tried to force my eyes shut. It was useless. I fought against the restraints, nearly snapping my arms while flailing about.

After what seemed like several hours, the pain suddenly stopped. I gasped for breath as tears streamed down my face. “What…what’s happening to me?”

“Suppressed memories can be activated by what we call triggers,” Dr. Parker explained. “That was obviously a huge one. Do you remember where you saw that phrase?”

“It was on something…a jacket, or…wait, it was on…” I remembered Jimmy walking through the door with a worried look on his face. “Jimmy had it on his shirt. He was wearing it the day…” I stopped talking and rolled my head back. I stared at the ceiling and tried to shake the confusion out of my head.

“Jimmy was your friend, right?”

I returned my focus to Dr. Parker. “Is my friend. Jimmy is my friend. He practically saved my life after, well, after she left me. He’s always been there for me. I don’t know how I would have made it without him.”

“What would you say if I told you that Jimmy’s gone and he’s never coming back?”

“I would say you’re out of your mind. He wouldn’t go anywhere without saying goodbye. He wouldn’t do that to me.”

“I’m sorry, Dillon. I wouldn’t lie to you. I told you from the beginning that I would never do that. Everything I’ve ever said to you has been the truth.”

“No, I don’t believe you. I don’t even know you. You won’t tell me where I am. You inject me with God knows what and then tell me that my best friend is gone. Bring in someone else I can talk to. I want to know what’s going on.”

Dr. Parker slowly shook his head as his expression saddened. “Dillon, I’m the only friend you have right now. Do you realize how serious this situation is? You’ve got to work with me, Son. I’m only trying to help you.”

I felt my face flush with heated anger. “Don’t you dare call me Son. Only one man has ever called me that, and it sure isn’t you.”

“You don’t get it, do you? You need to wake up and understand what is about to happen. If I don’t leave this room and convince them that you’re crazy, then you are a walking dead man. There’s nothing else I can do for you.”

I struggled to find the piece of the puzzle I had obviously missed.

Dr. Parker stood to his feet and leaned over, placing both hands on the table. “Do you remember Lance Puckett?”

My heart skipped a beat in recognition.

“Dena? Mel? Do any of those names ring a bell? How about the six girls you murdered and dumped into the lake on Halloween night? Do you remember them? I read your journal. You wrote down everything in such vivid detail. The problem with that is, you can’t plead insanity at trial with words from a notebook. We need to record video of a session which provides evidence of mental instability.”

I closed my eyes, hoping I would open them to discover I was living a horrifying nightmare.

“You need to tell me the same story you wrote down while behind bars all these years. This is your last chance, Dillon. Both of your appeals have been thrown out. It’s now or never.”

I opened my eyes and realized my wish had not come true. Dr. Parker stared at me with a determined look on his face. He picked the notebook up from the table and slid it over to me. I looked down at the pages. I recognized my own handwriting on the paper.

“I can prove you have multiple personality disorder. There’s no Jimmy, Lance, or Dena. You weren’t forced to some mysterious cabin in the woods where Lance and his father were killed.” Dr. Parker walked around the table to my side. He placed his finger in the middle of my forehead. “It’s all in there, Dillon. Those characters aren’t real. They are figments of your deranged imagination. All you have to do is tell me this story, the work of fiction you’ve written down, let me get it on tape, and you won’t have to face the electric chair.”

I remembered everything. The night I killed six high school girls, loaded them in the back of my pickup truck, and dumped their bodies. Every time I went to sleep, I could see the terror on their faces and hear the screams. I’m in no way proud of what I’ve done, but I will face the consequences of my actions.

Over the last five years of incarceration, writing had been the only thing to keep me busy. I’ve often wondered if putting the story on paper as being played out by several people would bring me some form of closure. In the end, I alone was responsible for the horrible events that shocked a nation.

I looked into the pleading eyes of Dr. Parker and shook my head. “No.”

He left, and two guards walked in. They hauled me from the interrogation room and returned me to the six by nine box that served as my home. I sat down on the cot and closed my eyes.

Thunder rolled across the darkened sky as I stood over the still body of Dena. Her eyes remained open in terror. “I’ve released your soul since you couldn’t do it yourself. It’s over.” I dropped the gun and returned to the Ford Taurus. I climbed inside and closed the door behind me. Steady rain beat against the roof, but it calmed me like nothing else could.

I glanced into the review mirror.

The stranger looked back.

 

Chris Martin

The Stranger – Chapter Nine


The Stranger was the first novella I published on the Amazon Kindle store. It’s currently for sale at a whopping $.99. I’ve decided to post it here, on my blog, in it’s entirety, for free. I am passionate about writing posts that demonstrate the love and grace of Jesus and what He’s doing in my life, but I also love writing fiction.

Here’s the plan. For the next ten weeks, I will post a chapter each Friday. Let’s call it Fiction Friday. Feel free to hashtag the crap out of that. I hope you enjoy the story. If you like this one, I have a couple more on Amazon. You can find them here: Author Page

Chapter Nine

As we neared Seal Bay, the rain returned, pounding the windshield with watery fists. The wipers moved back and forth, valiantly struggling to keep up. Since the call, neither of us had spoken. Jimmy was still in a trance looking out the window, and I concentrated on the road while trying to understand the conversation with Dena.

I never realized she had such a hard time after their father abandoned them. As a little girl, she must have gone through Hell taking on all the blame. It pained me to think of the hurt and guilt she had carried around for so long, and none of us knew it. I hung out with Jimmy nearly every day and never saw the signs.

We arrived in town, and I drove straight to the Sheriff’s office. I parked out front and looked at Jimmy. “Hey, Dena said something to me on the phone that was odd. I was hoping you might know what she’s talking about.”

Without turning away from the water-streaked window, he replied. “What did she say?”

“Something about one more thing to do and then it’s finished. The last thing she said before hanging up was ‘I have to release the souls of the ones who can’t do it themselves’. That mean anything to you?”

At first I didn’t think he heard my question. I waited for several uncomfortable seconds before speaking again. “Jimmy?”

“I don’t know. She’s been reading a lot of books about death and the afterlife lately. Maybe it’s something she picked up from one of those. She’s been acting pretty weird recently, so nothing would surprise me anymore.”

“Has she talked with you about the material she’s reading?”

“Not really. She’s mentioned bits and pieces, but not a lot. We don’t talk as much as we used to. It’s funny how life gets so busy that we don’t spend quality time with the ones we love. How does that happen?”

I rested my head back against the seat. The throbbing in my jaw had quieted to a dull ache, but my head still pounded with a steady beat. “It’s as you said. Life gets too busy and we take things for granted. We start to lose focus on what’s important. Stuff like family and friends. Time slips away without us even knowing it.”

“What’s going to happen now, Dillon?”

“What do you mean?”

“To me. To Dena. Where do we go from here?”

“I don’t know. I wish I had a better answer for you, but I don’t. I want to say everything will work out just fine, but I would be lying if I did. I have no idea what’s going to happen.  I think a lot will depend on whether or not Dena comes forward and tells the police what truly happened that night.”

“She’s scared. She’s lived with this for the last eight years and it’s been tearing her apart. She didn’t know if Eugene would attack her again or leave her alone for good. When Lance came back, she relived that fear again.”

“I know she’s scared, but somehow she has to find the courage to speak up. First, I need to find her and figure out what that one thing is she has left to do. You don’t have any idea where she might have gone?”

Jimmy looked over at me with red eyes and a saddened expression. “She’s probably going to try and hurt herself again. She feels responsible for the deaths of those girls because she did nothing to try and stop Eugene Puckett. She’s carried that guilt for a long time. Maybe that’s what she meant by releasing their souls.”

A sudden thought struck me. “I think I might know where she is. Look, you stay here and wait for Mark. Answer whatever questions he has left for you and tell him I’ll be back in a little while.”

Jimmy shook his head. “No. She’s my sister. We go together.”

I knew he wouldn’t be able to search for Dena. Once I found her, his presence would only add more pressure to the volatile situation. “You can’t, man. I’ve got to do this. You need to be here when Mark gets back. If she sees us both, it will only make things worse. I’ll find her and bring her back. I promise.”

The clouded, distant gaze in his eyes briefly cleared, and for the first time since arriving at the cabin, he looked at me. “Don’t let anything happen to her, Dillon. She’s all I have left. You bring her back, okay?”

I nodded. “You have my word.”

Jimmy stepped out of the Taurus and hurried into Sheriff’s office. I shifted the car into drive and pulled away. Five miles outside of town sat Garden Baptist Church. It had been a gorgeous structure until a fire nearly burnt it to the ground. Arson was suspected, but never confirmed. What remained of the building became a frequent hangout for mischievous teens and an occasional stray raccoon.

Many different phrases and unpleasant words had been spray painted on what inside walls were left standing. With no electricity, a makeshift fire pit had been constructed in the center. It had been abandoned for as long as I could remember. No one seemed too interested in restoring it, and from what I heard, no one would buy it because of the surrounding properties steep price tag.

All six victims from that fateful Halloween night were laid to rest out back in the cemetery. It was the first and hopefully last mass burial I would attend. Mothers and fathers wept as their children were lowered one by one into the depths of an eternal grave.

It was the only place I could think of where Dena might have gone. It made sense. She considered herself responsible for their deaths, and it would be poetic justice to take her own life standing on the very ground under which they were buried.

I parked the Taurus on the side of the road about a hundred yards short of the church entrance and turned off the engine. I decided to walk the rest of the way. If my suspicions were correct and Dena was indeed there, I didn’t want to alert her of my presence. I left the car and hurried to the back of the building where I could approach without being seen.

I slipped inside the gate and quietly crept toward the area of the cemetery where the girls were buried. The rain had eased off quite a bit, but still fell hard enough to mask the sounds of my arrival. I spotted Dena standing near the six graves. She faced the headstones with her head bowed.

When I was twenty feet away, she either heard something or sensed the presence of another person walking among the dead. She turned around, and her face twisted into surprise. “Dillon? What are you doing here?”

“Looking for you.”

“How did you know I would be here?”

“It took some thought, but I finally figured out what you were talking about.”

She looked past me as if expecting someone else. “Where’s Jimmy? Did he come with you?”

I shook my head. “He’s at the Sheriff’s office. I didn’t think it was a good idea for him to come along. What are you doing?”

Dena dropped her gaze to the ground. “It’s my fault, Dillon. All of it. I should have done something to stop Eugene. He was an animal, capable of doing the worst things imaginable, and I did nothing.”

“There was nothing you could do,” I said. “It’s not your fault he was an evil man. There are some people in this world that are destined to do certain things, good and bad. It’s not our place to get in the way of fate.”

“Fate? What are you talking about?”

“Why did you come out here today, Dena? What did you mean about releasing their souls? Jimmy said you’ve been reading books about death and the afterlife. Is that why you’re here? Because of something you read in a book?”

“I came out here because this is where I belong. Why should I live when they didn’t get the chance to? Their blood is on my hands. I don’t deserve another day on this earth.”

I took two steps closer. I blinked the rain out of my eyes and reached out a hand. “Their blood isn’t on your hands, Dena. The man responsible is dead. He can’t hurt anyone ever again. He can’t hurt you again. Just come back with me and you can tell Sam the whole story and get some closure.”

Dena stepped back shaking her head. “No. I don’t want to tell Sam anything. This is something I have to do. I don’t want closure, Dillon. I want to do what I should have done a long time ago. I’ve chained their souls to this realm with my actions. I need to release them.”

“Jimmy’s waiting for you. He wanted me to bring you back. He loves you, Dena. We all do. You don’t have to face this on your own anymore. Let us help. Let me help. I’m sorry I didn’t see what was going on until now. It’s not too late. You still have a chance to make this right.”

“No.” Tears streamed from her eyes. “No, you can’t help me. No one can. It’s over. It was too late the moment I watched them all die. I can’t go back now.” She reached down and picked up a knife laying on the ground.

“Dena, wait. Don’t do this.”

A flash of lighting illuminated the sky followed immediately by a clap of thunder that shook the ground. Dena hadn’t raised the knife yet. I could see uncertainty glinting inside her eyes. As much as she talked about being responsible for the death of those six girls, there was still a part of her that wanted to live.

When someone reaches what they think is the end of the road and there are no more options, death appears to be the only way out. When hope is lost, and there is no one to count on, desperation, and a feeling of abandonment, can cloud their judgment.

“Will you do something for me?” Dena asked. “Will you tell Jimmy that I love him, and I am so sorry? Tell him that I just couldn’t stand the thought of keeping this secret any longer. I think he will understand.”

I remained silent looking at the knife in her hand. It was time.

“Dillon? Do you hear me? Will you tell him? I just need you to-”

Before she could say another word, I pulled out the 9MM I had hidden behind my back and shot her twice in the chest.

 

Chris Martin

The Stranger – Chapter Eight


The Stranger was the first novella I published on the Amazon Kindle store. It’s currently for sale at a whopping $.99. I’ve decided to post it here, on my blog, in it’s entirety, for free. I am passionate about writing posts that demonstrate the love and grace of Jesus and what He’s doing in my life, but I also love writing fiction.

Here’s the plan. For the next ten weeks, I will post a chapter each Friday. Let’s call it Fiction Friday. Feel free to hashtag the crap out of that. I hope you enjoy the story. If you like this one, I have a couple more on Amazon. You can find them here: Author Page

Chapter Eight

As if joined with Lance in his passing to the afterlife, the moisture laden clouds moved on as sunlight overtook the sky. The remaining drops of rain shimmered like diamonds as they dripped from tree branches. I sat alone on the front porch of the cabin, still in shock over the morning’s events.

For reasons still unknown to me, Jimmy had also shot and killed Eugene Puckett. I watched him give his statement to one of Sam’s deputies. I wasn’t close enough to hear, but the officer nodded and wrote everything down. Since the arrival of the ambulance and the coroner, Jimmy had not said one word to me.

At first, I attributed that to his state of shock after killing Lance, but since he walked back and shot Mr. Puckett, I knew something else was decidedly wrong.

Watching the police as they worked the scene brought back unwanted, and intensely haunting, memories of the night I killed my step dad. I would never forget the way the gun recoiled when I pulled the trigger. I had never fired a weapon before and it nearly leaped from my hand. I could still feel the rain on my face and the smell of burning paper in my nostrils.

Not a day has gone by where I haven’t seen the look of fury, shock, and eventually pain on the man’s face as he fell to the damp earth. I still found myself waking up in the middle of the night calling out my mom’s name. Several weeks after the court appearances, she dropped me off at a friend’s house and drove away.

In the twenty-two years that followed, I saw my mother only once. I received a call that her health had declined so I flew back East where I was told she had relocated. She passed away before my arrival. I had written a list of questions I wanted answers to. I placed it inside the coffin and allowed it to be buried along with the body. I had no reason to search for answers after that.

“Dillon?”

I looked up to see Jimmy staring at me. “Hey, you okay?”

He nodded. “I was going to ask you the same thing. Who were you talking to?”

I frowned. “What? I wasn’t talking to anyone. I was just wondering if you were going to be alright. This was a lot to take in.”

Jimmy glanced back at the officer who had questioned him and then sat down beside me. “I know you probably have some questions for me. I don’t know what happened earlier. I’ve never felt so angry and scared all at the same time. It was as if I was suspended above my body watching him, well me, do those things. I don’t know how to explain it.”

I rubbed my jaw that continued to throb after getting punched by Lance. “You don’t have to explain anything to me, man. Of all people, I understand what you’re talking about.”

Jimmy opened mouth to speak, stopped, and then tried to start again. “How…what did you feel after you shot him?”

“I don’t think I had any feeling. At first, it was more shock than anything else. I just remember standing there in the rain looking at his dead body. I was numb. I remember being wet, and I remember the smell of burning paper.”

“I can’t feel anything,” Jimmy whispered. “I know I should be either in shock, or at least feel some guilt, but I don’t. I feel distant, like it didn’t actually happen.”

I looked at my friend and slowly nodded. He looked about ready to cry. “I know what you mean, Jimmy. That’s only natural. You’re still in shock over what happened.” I gestured to the officers and EMT’s cleaning up the scene. “Once this is all over, when they’re gone, that’s when it will sink in. That’s when you will need someone to talk to. You won’t be expecting it to hit you hard, but it will.”

“What if I don’t want to feel anything?”

“What do you mean?”

He swallowed emotion that brimmed just below the surface. “It felt right when I pulled that trigger. That’s what I want to remember. Does that make me a bad person?”

I wasn’t sure exactly where the conversation was going, but I began to feel uneasy. The Jimmy that I had known for so long and had become best friends with would never have talked like that. He was fun, adventurous but safe, and had always been there for me. “Well, after all Lance did this morning, it’s only natural to feel angry and want some sort of revenge. I mean-”

Jimmy cut me off. “That’s not what I mean, Dillon. I wasn’t angry at him at all.”

“Then what are we talking about here?”

“I’ve never shot anyone before, but when I killed Lance, there was a familiarity about that I can’t explain. It was as if I had already done that. I made sure he was dead, and I knew there was only one more thing to do. Finish off his father.”

“It’s called deja vu. We all experience that. I have to say I’m a little surprised by what you’re saying. This doesn’t sound like the Jimmy I know.” I smiled to soften my words, but I knew he could see right through it.

He turned to me with the same look I remembered seeing from Lance when we were in the car. Eyes with such vast emptiness staring out, but not truly seeing anything. “Something’s changed, Dillon. I don’t know what happened up here, but I feel different.”

Before I could reply, Deputy Mark Lowell walked up. He nodded and excused himself for interrupting. “Hey, guys. Are you both alright? Dillon, do you need to get looked at?”

I shook my head. “I’m good, Mark. A little sore, but that’s about it. What happens now?”

“Well, I need you both to come back to the station for some questions. It’s just a formality, nothing more. I want to make sure we get a full report. I wish we could wait, but things like this are better done as soon as possible, while everything is still fresh.”

“I understand,” I said. “It’s no problem. Are we riding with you or what?”

Mark looked around and spotted the Taurus sitting at the end of the driveway. He pointed. “How about if you guys follow me back in that. We need to get it back to town anyway. We’re still trying to find out who it belongs to. I initiated a nationwide search. No telling where he picked it up from.”

“Okay, that’s fine with me. Jimmy?”

My friend nodded, but remained silent.

“Jimmy, you okay? Mark asked. “A lot happened up here today. I know it can be overwhelming and pretty traumatic.”

“I’m fine,” Jimmy replied. “I’m just worried that I might get in trouble for what I did.”

Mark shifted the hat on his head. “Lance was a maniac who needed to be stopped. You got here in time to help Dillon and took care of business. It will be ruled self-defense. Trust me, you don’t have anything to worry about.”

For a minute, I was afraid Jimmy would start repeating what he told me before Mark walked up. “I think he’s still in shock. I’ll drive us back and let him rest.”

Mark nodded. “Sounds good. If you want, you can head on back to town. I need to finish up a couple things here, and then I’ll meet you at the station.”

“Sounds like a plan.” I stood up and walked down the steps. “Hey, have you heard anything about Sam? Is he okay?”

“Oh yeah, he’s going to be fine. The bullet went right through his shoulder and didn’t hit anything vital. He’s at the hospital getting fixed up and should be home by the time we’re done with our debrief. You can go see him then.”

We said goodbye to Mark and walked back across the clearing to the Taurus. We got in and started back down the mountain. I hoped the car would survive the return trip. The rain had washed out more of what little road we had in the first place.

I reached underneath the driver’s seat and pulled out my cell phone.

“That was a brilliant idea, by the way. I’m not sure we would have ever found you otherwise.”

Earlier, when Lance forced me into the car, I had just enough time to dial Jimmy on my phone and slip it under the seat with my foot. I tried to be as descriptive as I could while talking so they would know where to look for me. I’m surprised I didn’t irritate Lance to the point of shooting me and taking over the wheel.

“I wasn’t sure if it would work or not, but I had to take the chance. No one would have ever known where I was.”

“What was his plan, do you know?”

“I don’t know, man. All he said was he wanted someone to hear the truth and that was the only way. He kept repeating that he didn’t kill anyone and once we got to the cabin, he accused Eugene of doing it.”

“Do you believe him?” Jimmy asked.

“Well, at first I didn’t, especially when he was about to shoot me, but the more he talked, the more nervous his father became. I guess we’ll never know.”

I steered around several holes as we drove down to the main highway. We reached the road in one piece, and I turned back toward Seal Bay. After several miles of complete silence, I started feeling uncomfortable. There had never been a communication problem between the two of us. I had to agree with what he said while sitting on the porch. Something had changed, and I didn’t like it.

“Jimmy, we’ve been friends for a long time now, pretty much brothers. I don’t like feeling this tension. You’ve got to talk to me, dude. Tell me what’s going on inside that head of yours.”

As Jimmy stared out the window, tears started to trickle from his eyes. When he spoke, his voice cracked with emotion. “Dillon, I found out something after you left, something about that night.”

I frowned. “What are you talking about?”

“Dena has never been extremely popular, you know that. When Dad left us, she took it pretty hard. I never told you this, but she tried to commit suicide several times. For some reason, she felt responsible when he left, even though she was still young. We took her to a shrink for help, but that made things worse. She started hanging out with the wrong people at school and stopped doing her home work. It was not good.”

“Oh, man, I didn’t know any of that. I’m so sorry.”

He continued. “She dated Lance for a while, but broke it off after his father started showing up where she worked after hours. One night, he even tried to rape her, but she managed to fight him off.”

I was almost afraid to say anything. Jimmy was dropping one bombshell after another on me. “Why are you telling me all of this?”

“After Lance took you from Mel’s, Dena told me that she was there that night. Lance’s dad wanted to show her what would happen if she ever told anyone what he did to her. Dillon, Eugene Puckett murdered those girls and forced my baby sister to watch. That’s why I wanted to kill them both.”

I opened my mouth to reply, but couldn’t speak. I couldn’t believe Dena had kept that secret buried for eight years. I jumped when my cell phone rang. Called ID showed Dena. “Hello? Dena?”

“Is Jimmy okay? Did he get hurt?”

“He’s fine. Where are you?”

“Did he do it? Did he kill them?”

“They’re dead, yes. Dena, why didn’t you say anything before? We could have helped you.”

“None of that matters now, Dillon. We can’t go back and change what happened. I have one more thing to do, then it’s finished.”

I looked at Jimmy, but he showed no interest in the conversation. “What does that mean? Dena? Where are you? What are doing?”

“Goodbye, Dillon. I have to release the souls of the ones who can’t do it themselves.”

With those cryptic words, Dena ended the call. I pressed down on the accelerator, hoping we could return to Seal Bay in time to stop her from whatever she was about to do.

 

Chris Martin

The Other Guy


The miracles of Jesus, that were recorded in the four Gospels, are absolutely amazing. Often times, I think about being there with Him, in person, every day, walking side by side with our Savior in the flesh. I can’t even imagine how awesome that would have been. To see those things with our own eyes instead of just reading about them 2,000 years later. Seeing Him walk on water would have blown my mind. I’ve read this story and heard people talk about it a lot over the years. The focus is always on Jesus and the fact that He, well, walked on the water. I want to talk about the other guy.

Jesus wasn’t the only man to feel water beneath His feet that day. One of the disciples, the one that has always intrigued me more than the rest, decided to give it a shot as well. The other disciples were freaking out in the boat thinking a ghost was walking toward them, so Peter speaks up. He says, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” I’ve always liked Peter for several reasons. He was impulsive, passionate, and a person we can all connect with. He screwed up as much or more than we all do today. I can picture Jesus shaking His head and smiling at Peter on many occasions. “Oh, Peter. What have you got yourself into this time?”

Jesus calls Peter out and tells him to come on over. Peter steps out of the boat and into the raging sea. The Bible says the boat was “buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it”, so it seems pretty clear that they were in the middle of a storm. Not that stepping out of a boat in perfectly calm weather would be any less insane.

I wonder what Peter thought at first when he was walking on the water. I, more than likely, would have soiled myself from the rush of defying the very structure of reality. I mean, come on, walking on water? Had that phrase even crossed anyone’s mind until that very moment? I also wonder why the others didn’t pile out of the boat and give it a try as well. Maybe it all happened too fast, I don’t know. I’m sure the ones still in the boat were nearly drowning from water pouring into their gaping mouths. Maybe by the time they realized the walking on water thing was actually happening, Peter had already reached Jesus.

Imagine standing on the surface of a sea, staring directly into the eyes of Jesus. Peter had just done the impossible. He stood before Jesus having completely trusted his Lord and Savior. And Jesus rewarded that faith by allowing His friend to join Him on the waves.

Then it happened. Peter had an “Oh crap” moment. He looked around at the wind and the waves and realized what he was actually doing. He began to reason in his head that he shouldn’t be able to walk on water. He became afraid. The moment of uncompromising faith, that had led him out of the boat, crumbled into doubt, and he began to sink. I almost drowned once when I was little, but I don’t remember it. I’ve heard people talk about nearly drowning, and it’s not something I would ever want to experience, and remember.

I can’t imagine how terrified Peter must have been when he started to sink. He was a fisherman who spent the majority of his time on the water. I’m sure he heard stories all the time about people drowning. He may have even witnessed some of them. He knew the dangers of life on the water, and the consequences of being out of the boat. He cries out for Jesus to save him, and Jesus does.

One of the things that strikes me about this story is what Jesus said to Peter. “You of little faith” being part of it. So Peter, a mortal human, who was prone to constantly making mistakes and running off half-cocked, just defied the very laws of gravity by walking on top of the water, and Jesus says he has “little faith”. I’ve often looked at that to be discouraging, but not anymore.

Here’s why. How many times do we feel like we just don’t have enough faith? We feel as if we’re doing something wrong because we can’t see Jesus doing amazing things around us. We beat ourselves up because of it, but we need to stop doing that. Yes, there are people who have more faith than others, but that doesn’t mean we’re a lost cause. We should look at this as encouragement to keep on trusting God and exercising our faith muscle. Continue putting our faith, no matter how small at first, in God.

Peter walked on water, and Jesus said his faith was small. There are times when we’re going to be out of the boat in the middle of a storm, but Jesus is right there. Don’t focus on everything around trying to take you under. Keep your eyes on Jesus and take His hand.

If the other guy can walk on water, what can we accomplish with our faith?

The Stranger – Chapter Seven


The Stranger was the first novella I published on the Amazon Kindle store. It’s currently for sale at a whopping $.99. I’ve decided to post it here, on my blog, in it’s entirety, for free. I am passionate about writing posts that demonstrate the love and grace of Jesus and what He’s doing in my life, but I also love writing fiction.

Here’s the plan. For the next ten weeks, I will post a chapter each Friday. Let’s call it Fiction Friday. Feel free to hashtag the crap out of that. I hope you enjoy the story. If you like this one, I have a couple more on Amazon. You can find them here: Author Page

Chapter Seven

Having guns pointed in my general direction was beginning to get mighty tiresome. The day had not turned out at all as I expected when I crawled from underneath my warm blankets and drove into work. With a darkened sky looming above, it felt like evening although both hands on my watch pointed straight to twelve.

For some reason, I found it odd the man holding the shotgun would give us twenty seconds to leave. Not ten, or even thirty which was the most common, but twenty. Each second seemed to pass with the length of an hour. I didn’t want to find out what would happen if we reached the deadline.

“We just want to talk,” I said as I raised my hands further to the sky. “Look, I don’t even have a gun or anything.”

Standing at the top of the steps, the man strained to see me. “Who’s your friend? Behind you? He needs to step out where I can see him. Nice and slow.”

“I brought him here to learn the truth.” Lance spoke next to my ear, and my heart almost stopped. He stepped out from behind me and pointed the gun straight ahead. “I’m tired of being blamed for what you did.”

“Lance?” As he raised the weapon higher, the man took one step away. “Is that really you?”

“Yeah, Dad, it’s me. Don’t act so surprised. You had to know I would come back one day. Eight years are a long time. Aren’t you going to give me a hug?”

Apparently Eugene Puckett had not been killed in a car accident. I was still trying to wrap my head around the fact that Lance might not be the killer we all thought he was. Now, his father was back from the dead. Somewhere in a deep, dark corner of my brain, I started wishing for the dream to end and I would wake up at home, in bed.

“When did you get out?”

Eugene’s voice trembled. After a long period of time, I figured he had doubts about what his son was capable of. Allowing an innocent person to take the fall for one’s actions is reprehensible. Doing it to family, well, there isn’t even a word for that kind of injustice.

“A few days ago. I didn’t think I would ever make it. Fortunately, there are still some decent people left in this world, and I was able to hitch some rides. I thought about calling you for some bus money, but I wanted this to be a surprise.”

“Well, I am most certainly surprised.” He gestured towards me. “What does all of this have to do with Dillon?”

Lance shrugged. “Nothing really. I needed a witness to verify that I didn’t do what they say I did. He needs to know the truth about what happened that night. We’re going to set the record straight.”

I wasn’t sure why Lance didn’t tell me everything at Mel’s. Telling Sam the complete story and allowing him take some men to check the cabin and confirm the details would have made more sense. Instead, I had to stand outside in the pouring rain, between father and son who stood on the brink of shooting each other, and hope the expiration date on my life had not already passed.

“Lance, we all know what happened. There isn’t anything to straighten out. You killed those girls and dumped their bodies. Seems pretty open and shut to me. The jury decided it was too.”

Lance took two steps forward putting him directly beside me. I still had my hands raised, unsure of what would happen if I lowered them. It was only a matter of time before the pain would be too much, and they would drop whether I wanted them to or not.

“You won’t get away with this anymore,” he said. “I rotted in prison for eight years while you went about your life without a care in the world. Faking your own death has its advantages I guess.”

Even with limited visibility, I could see Eugene Puckett bristle in anger at his son’s words. “Without a care in the world? Are you seriously talking to me like that? Son, I buried your mother. Don’t think you-”

“Shut up! Don’t say another word!” Lance screamed, and I waited for one of the men to fire their gun. “I hate you. You were never there when I needed someone. You let me take the blame for something you did. YOU killed those girls! YOU dumped their bodies! YOU framed me for it! I want you to admit it right here, right now!”

Movement inside the cabin caught my eye, but I managed to stifle my reaction. In the gloom and distortion of pouring rain, I could have been mistaken. There was a slim chance someone had come to my rescue. It was a brazen plan, one that I thought up in a moment of desperation. I needed to create a diversion.

“Both of you need to calm down.” I slowly lowered my hands. “No one needs to get hurt. We’ve got to talk things out.”

Lance looked at me and opened his mouth to speak. Jimmy Burns made his move at that precise moment. He burst through the front door behind Eugene Puckett and tackled him around the waist, knocking him off the porch.

At the same moment, I lunged at Lance, grabbing the gun as he fired off a round. I knocked him to the ground hoping the wild shot had missed its mark.

Lance rolled onto his side, flipping me over and I landed hard on my back. Water splashed all around me as I hit, knocking the wind out of my lungs and nearly snapping my spine. Through eyes blurred with pain and the falling storm, I watched as he stood and walked toward me.

I knew with one swift kick to the face, he would render me unconscious, and the fight would be over. I rolled away and onto one knee. I looked, but didn’t see his gun lying anywhere on the ground. He didn’t have it in his hand anymore either, which gave me hope. Even in the darkened gloom that engulfed us, I could see his expression as clear as any beacon flashing from a lighthouse.

He intended to kill me.

“Lance, let’s end this now. I believe you. I don’t think you killed anyone. Hurting me will only make the situation worse. Let’s call the cops and tell them what happened.”

“I can’t go back, Dillon. I can’t. It’s too late. There’s nothing you can do now.”

I looked toward the cabin but couldn’t see Jimmy or Eugene. After Lance’s gun went off, I couldn’t hear much of anything either. I had no idea where the bullet had landed. No help from Jimmy meant one of two things. He was still trying to subdue Eugene Puckett, or he had been hit. I hoped he was still alive.

I didn’t need the guilt of my friend’s death haunting me for the duration of my life. I had enough on my plate to last several lifetimes.

Lance rushed forward and delivered a vicious kick toward my head. I raised both hands to deflect, but the force still shattered my balance and knocked me off my feet. Ignoring the stabbing pain in my lower back, I jumped up and charged, hitting Lance in the stomach with my shoulder and driving him to the ground.

Two quick punches to his face and I thought the fight was over. Lance obviously had other ideas. From out of nowhere he landed a right hay-maker to my temple causing a cluster of stars to explode like a 4th of July celebration. I clutched my head in a swarm of dizziness and slumped to the ground.

Somehow through sheets of rain and a throbbing drum parade pounding in my skull, I spotted Lance’s gun lying in the puddle-filled grass. Fighting an overwhelming urge to vomit, I started crawling toward the weapon. I needed to get control of the situation, and that would be the one thing that could turn the tables in my favor.

“Give it up, Dillon.” Lance rushed past me and snatched up the gun right as I reached for it. “This just isn’t your day. You should stick with building computers or whatever it is you do.”

On all fours, I fought to control my breathing and block out the pain. I learned several tricks in the military to accomplish both tasks, but they had abandoned me. “You don’t need to do this. It’s not too late, Lance. You haven’t broken anything that can’t be fixed. Just give me a chance to help you.”

“You don’t want to help me, Dillon. You never did. All I wanted was for you to believe me. I figured with someone from Seal Bay who was known to be honest and respected as you are, I might have a chance.”

Pain flared in my lower back, and I winced. “You still have a chance. Put the gun down before you do something stupid. You’re not a killer. I can see it in your eyes.” I surprised myself with those words. I had no idea if Lance was a killer or not, and I most certainly couldn’t tell anything by looking into the dark orbs on his face.

Lance cocked the hammer back and took several steps toward me. I rose to my knees and rested before trying to stand. Spasms in my back continued, shooting down my leg. I couldn’t think straight. All I could focus on was not letting Lance kill me. I could probably bet on the gun working and not clicking on an empty chamber as it had in the cafe. “Lance, wait. There’s something you don’t know. Information you don’t have. You’ve got to hear me out.”

Blood tinted water streamed down his face as he opened his mouth to laugh. To be honest, I would have laughed at myself as well for such a weak effort to stall for time. “Are you serious? You can’t possibly think-”

A deafening boom obliterated the steady hum of rain, and I watched as Lance was knocked from his feet and tossed to the drowning earth like a rag doll. Jimmy walked over through a small patch of fog, smoke trailing from the barrel of Eugene’s shotgun. He stood over the fallen body and raised the weapon.

“Jimmy! He’s dead. No one could have survived that shot.” I crawled to my feet and stumbled to his side.

“I need to make sure he’s gone. Forever.”

One look at Lance and I knew he was dead. The buckshot had not been kind to his chest. I swallowed the bile in my throat and put a hand on Jimmy’s shoulder. “He’s gone, man. He can’t do anything to us anymore.”

Jimmy lowered the gun, but continued to stare at the corpse. His features hardened like I had never seen. Having shot and killed someone myself, I knew what he was going through. It would haunt him the rest of his life.

The pain and guilt would wake him at night. He would replay the scene over and over inside his mind until nearly reaching the point of insanity. The mental scar would linger until the end of time, a reminder that would invade his dreams and rob him of closure.

“Jimmy? You okay?”

My friend nodded but remained silent. He turned around and walked back toward the cabin, still holding the shotgun. I took one last look at Lance and shook my head. There were only two men who knew the true story about that Halloween Night. One of them was now dead.

I turned to follow Jimmy but stopped when I heard the shot. Another shot followed, cutting off Eugene Puckett’s scream.

 

Chris Martin

Jesus Wants the Rose


There isn’t much I can really add to this post. The message from Matt Chandler is very powerful. Jesus wants us in our current condition. He doesn’t expect us to clean up our act, and then offer ourselves to His service. Dirty, filthy rags don’t scare Him one bit.

We should also look at others the same way. Accept people for exactly who they are. Don’t put conditions on our love. Don’t judge others thinking we are any better. The Bible says Jesus died for us while we were all sinners.

Jesus wants the rose.