Conversation Stopper

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote about Jesus some 740 years before Jesus was born. Isaiah may have been martyred—sawn in two—during the reign of Manasseh for speaking truth. He condemned the wealthy for oppressing the poor; he condemned women who neglected their families in the quest of carnal pleasure; he condemned priests and prophets who became drunken men-pleasers instead of teaching and keeping God’s law.

Isaiah declared God’s displeasure with sin and endeavored to turn his generation away from disobedience to God. He paved a foundation of hope and promise for those who remained true to God by telling them about the birth of Jesus, Savior and Redeemer.

Speaking out against sin and injustice, Isaiah said, “Woe unto…” Yet after he had a vision of the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, Isaiah said of himself, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips.” (Isaiah 6:5) Faced with God’s holiness, Isaiah realized that the same sinfulness he had prophesied against in others was found within himself.

That’s why I wrote gritty, real “Killer Conversations.” I’ve been criticized because the narrative of child abuse creating a serial killer is not a fairy tale—it’s painful and haunting. It’s the only book I’ve ever written that has received a one-star review. As Christians, we sometimes use what we perceive as our goodness as an excuse to criticize others. We use the fact that we don’t smoke, drink, curse, etc. as a battering ram against other believers. It’s a temptation to set ourselves up and put others down. We forget: “There by the grace of God go I.”

Death, the Lasting Adventure


When I was 12, my spooky horse Allie jumped over a ditch to the road. His shadow hit the red clay dirt and he spooked. He leaped sideways bucking, threw me off, and ran home.

Allie was afraid of shadows. He thought shadows were real. He thought shadows would hurt him.

A lot of people are like Allie. They fear shadows. They think shadows are real. They think shadows will hurt them. We have either forgotten or chosen not to believe Psalm 23 in the Bible, “Yea, though I walk though the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

Because people know I’m a Christian, I often get prayer requests. I’m thrilled to pray for others and I rejoice when God answers their prayers. But some requests are impossible for God to fulfill because they are not within His plan.

We plant “dead” seeds and marvel when bright, new, healthy plants spring up from the dead-looking kernels. God never wanted death to be a part of the world He created. He designed human bodies to heal and live forever. But when Adam and Eve sinned, death entered the world. Because of that, God sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross in our place so we could live forever. Jesus didn’t just die—He rose from the dead to prove to us that we also can live again.


After we “die” to this world, we live forever in Heaven with Jesus in bright, new, healthy spiritual bodies that will never suffer death, illness, pain, suffering, or sorrow. But first—we must pass through the shadow.

It’s alarming to get prayer requests from people who are afraid of the shadow and don’t trust God’s promise about what is on the other side. I don’t know what to say or how to pray when someone grabs my arm and pleads, “Please pray for Momma. She’s 92 and her kidneys have stopped working, and she has heart and lung disease, and now she has cancer.”


What I want to say, and should be honest enough to say is, “Sweetie, let go of your poor Momma. Let her go home to God. He will give her a new healthy body.” But I’ve discovered that folks who are afraid of shadows hate truth.

Death is an adventure. An everlasting adventure. Between us and that lasting adventure is a shadow. All of us must pass through that shadow to get to our new life and claim our new body.

Perhaps we should repeat often, “Death is a shadow. Shadows aren’t real. Shadows can’t hurt us.”


Truth Kills

Truth is unpopular. Tell someone they’ve put on weight, have a messy house, are wrong, or that their dog is stupid—and see how quickly they walk away.

Some 2,000 years ago, the Man Who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” was condemned to death and nailed on a cross to suffer and die. Today, Christians around the world are being imprisoned, tortured, and killed for telling the truth.


So, too, with Scotland’s Brahn Seer. Because there are only oral, and no written stories about him, some claim that Gaelic-speaking Coinneach Odhar never existed outside folklore. As in earlier centuries, written records in Scotland in the 1600s were rare. Some historians would likely doubt the existence of the Picts, who disappeared without a whisper in the 9th century, had not the Picts left behind marvelously carved stones that thwart attempts to decipher them for lack of a written language. Because the story of the Brahn Seer and Lady Seaforth rings true to human nature, and because I’m a writer and love great stories—I choose to believe what the students at Fortrose Academy believed when they erected a stone monument to him at Chanonry Point in 1969. The Brahn Seer was burned to death in a staked barrel of tar at the point…for telling the truth.


Coinneach Odhar worked for Kenneth MacKenzie, 3rd earl of Seaforth at Brahan Castle near Dingwall. He had acquired a reputation for possessing second sight and making predictions. When Lady Seaforth asked Odhar, he told her that her husband was enjoying sexual adventures with other women in Paris. She rewarded that truth by having him burned to death in a barrel of tar.


He predicted the building of the Caledonian Canal in Inverness. Author Alan McKean and I took our books on a trip down the Caledonian Canal and out across Loch Ness.


He predicted that the MacKenzies would come to ruin and their castle would be inhabited by a cow that gave birth to a calf in the uppermost chamber of the tower. In 1851, a farmer was storing hay in the ruined castle. A cow followed a trail of hay up to the garret and gave birth to a calf. The farmer left them there for five days so people could come witness the truth of the Brahn Seer’s prediction.

ruins field

He predicted that when five bridges were built over the Ness River in Inverness, there would be world wide chaos. In August, 1939, there were five bridges…and Hitler invaded Poland.


He predicted that when there were nine bridges across the Ness River, there would be fire and calamity. The ninth bridge was completed in 1987. In 1988, there was an explosion at Piper Alpha North Sea Oil Production resulting in the worst offshore oil disaster ever, claiming 167 lives, and impacting ten percent of North Sea oil production.


While historians claim there are no written records of the Brahn Seer, his words are recorded as he stood overlooking land where the Battle of Culloden was fought in 1745. “Oh! Drumossie, thy bleak moor shall, ere many generations have passed away, be stained with the best blood of the Highlands. Glad am I that I will not see the day, for it will be a fearful period; heads will be lopped off by the score, and no mercy shall be shown or quarter given on either side.”


Another prediction was that, “The sheep shall eat the men.” As crazy and impossible as those words must have sounded in the 16th century, sadly, during the 19th century Highland Clearances families were driven from the Highlands by landowners who thought they could make more money grazing sheep. Families who had been farmers for generations were thrust into seaside villages and told to become fishermen. They knew nothing of fishing and scores of them starved or froze to death. Their croft houses on the farms were burned down behind them as they left to keep them from returning, and they were often unable to even take their possessions with them.

The Brahn Seer predicted that within a few generations, the chieftaincy of the Mackenzies would pass to a man who was deaf and dumb; all of his sons would die before he did; the ancient Mackenzie line would end, and a hooded girl from the East would claim his possessions and kill her sister. This would happen when all four of the great Highland lairds had some physical defect; buck-toothed, hare-lipped, half-witted, a stammer. It happened in the 17th century

Truth is seldom popular. Whether or not the Brahn Seer was a real person or a much embellished oral legend, truth can get a person killed. Jesus, Who died to take on the sins of the world and purchase eternity for us is a real and lasting example of the fact that—sometimes—truth kills.