Minister's Study

Ministering, writing, and wrestling in a land flowing with sweet tea and deep-fried food

Thursday, February 23, 2006

When the cat's away...

From August 3rd, 2005

With the good Pastor, Dr. Ray Stagno, absent this evening, I led the midweek service. The lesson's title was "What You Need to Know about Praying." A little ostentatious, perhaps, but I tried to hit all the key fundamentals. With literally all of the oldtimers absent tonight, everyone present was a young believer, so the message really fit. I'm excited by this group of guys -- the Lord could really use them as the core of something spectacular here in NYC.

When the phone rang at 4:30 something AM a few days ago, I figured it was probably my mom with some terrible news for us. Turned out it was an old chess club acquaintance (a brilliant player, by the way) who was totally stoned on some kind of drugs. I never did really find out what. He said, in effect, that he was ready to turn to Jesus for help. He's been to the church at my invitation once or twice, and I've tried to witness to him before. But he's really into the whole Eastern religion thing; spends a lot of time in compounds and communes. The poor guy was so out of it that he couldn't really follow the plan of salvation, though I put it as simply and clearly as I can put anything at 4:30 AM. Come to think of it, that might not be saying much. Fortunately, he had a friend there with him who is also a Christian, though not entirely of the same persuasion as I am. This friend called the church later, and when I got back with him today, he let me know that our mutual friend is in the hospital, and will be going to drug rehab when he gets out. I'm going to try to get up to the hospital he's at to visit him sometime in the next few days. Could be interesting.

My short story, "The Monster Smiled Again" wound up one vote short of the two-way tie for best story in its group, but it did tie for first with another story for "best characterization." Only one critiquer even noticed the absence of really gritty language, and one or two have actually picked up on those character motivation clues I thought were so plain. Not bad, but I've still got a lot of work to do to make character motivation clear to the average reader.


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