Posted in My Journey

My New Book Is Here!

I am pleased to announce God Is Love: Comfort Through Trials is now available for download. All royalties go toward supporting Looking to God Ministries, an organization dedicated to spreading the Word of God through outreach programs, literature and preaching. Below is the Preface to the book:

I grew up Catholic. That means I was baptized into the Catholic Church. It also means I received my First Communion and my Confirmation in the Catholic Church. In all that time, I knew God existed, but I had a different idea of who he was than what I know of him today. I thought he was old. I thought he was distant. And I thought for a good portion of the bible that he was very angry with people.

It was only after I hit my twenties that I began to question God’s nature. I did not question his existence because I knew he was alive, well, and looking after us. I did not need a degree to understand that. All I had to do was look around at nature and I could see God there. For me, it never made sense to think God was dead when all I saw were the seasons changing like clockwork and the animals following a pattern of behavior. No, what I questioned were things like, “How could God, who supposedly loved so much, care so little for people that he would allow them to suffer?” And I wondered, “What kind of God was he if he would cause that suffering?” Because allowing something to happen was one thing, but to actually cause it?

So for a long time I searched for those answers. I was part of a cult for a number of years and learned about a god who was more interested in the letter of the law, than of the spirit of the law. Throughout that entire time, God was still an angry god who would punish Christians who sinned and would reward Christians who obeyed. Jesus was a passing notion, an emissary, delivering a message of the coming of the kingdom of God.

It was then that I had stopped attending church. My disillusion with organized religion was just the beginning. I simply felt no one had a clue who God was and why suffering existed in the world. For twenty years, I laughed at people who would put their faith in a god who did not care for their well-being.

Soon, one January morning, I began to read the bible. I had made a resolution that I would read the bible in its entirety strictly for its literary value. Little did I know what would happen to me. I began seeing a god who ruled all creation. I began to see a god who looked after his creation. I saw God love human beings so much that he would give his only son as a sacrifice so that he could save them from the penalty of sin, which is death. Then I saw my life unfold before my eyes.

I returned to a church, and as quickly as I had returned, a year later, my oldest son took ill. He spent a month in the hospital having suffered an autistic shutdown. That month was when God revealed himself to me. He showed me why people suffered. He taught me trials were good. And he took care of my family throughout the ordeal.

If you are looking for answers, read God Is Love: Comfort Through Trials knowing I was looking for answers, too.

Posted in My Journey

Looking to God

Praise God in the mountains. Praise him in the hills. Give glory to him everywhere, for he is merciful, good and just.

I would not be saying these things today had God not impressed upon me the desire to preach his word to all nations, as it says in (Mark 16:15-16):

“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.’”

And I am going to be candid for what I am about to say, because I am sure you are wondering why you are reading this article on LookingtoGod.org instead of JackFlacco.com.

When I started my blog in December 2012, I was writing about zombies and I was looking to find an audience who would enjoy reading posts about the undead and the science behind it. One such post had to do with the various phases of rigor the body goes through during its decomposition. Never did I think how influential my posts would be until one night I had over 1,200 hits in an hour from people who were searching for the answer to the question, “Why do zombies eat brains?” And never did I think my first zombie book would end up as a bestseller when it came out in October 2013.

As the years went on, my measure of success was by how many followers I had on Twitter, how many likes I had on Facebook, and how many readers I had on JackFlacco.com. Everything became a numbers game. If I could grab the audience’s attention, I will have earned their loyalty. Or so I thought. That is, until February 2016. For it was then that I realized God was working with me, shaping my heart, and moving me to forgive all those who I believed had done me wrong.

I read a lot about repentance. I read a lot about forgiveness. I was going through a transformation, leaving behind old grudges to live a new life filled with Jesus. I emerged two months later as the proverbial new man. No longer was the weight of hatred holding me down, but I had the Holy Spirit guiding my decisions, showing me things in the bible I had never seen before.

Two-and-a-half years later, after having written countless articles about salvation, and having published my first Christian book, I am announcing the birth of Looking to God Ministries, an organization dedicated to drawing people closer to God by encouraging them to love others as themselves and to love Jesus. We have yet to write a mission statement, or come up with branding; but those things are on our list of things to do. The exciting news is we have a homeless outreach program already up and running; and starting with When Forgiveness Is Enough, I will be signing over the rights, royalties and proceeds to all my books to the ministry as a means to support its programs.

So I am thrilled to begin on this new journey, sharing this experience with you all, and wondering what God has waiting for Looking to God Ministries in the next little while. I am sure that whatever he has planned, it will be a time of challenges, moments of excitement, and opportunities to draw closer to him.

Please join me in prayer that I may know what his will is.

Audio transcript:

Posted in Bible Studies

Mark Your Bible

How do you mark your bible? A member of a church I once attended asked the minister this very question. The minister related this story during a sermon. His answer was surprising. He said, “How do you mark your bible? You mark your bible.”

As simplistic as it sounds, he was right. Sometimes we tend to overanalyze a rudimentary task and place a process around it when, in fact, all we need to do is do what comes naturally.

I say this because I am one of those people who needs structure and cannot start a project until I have all the pieces in place of where I want to go, what I want to do, and with whom I want to do it. Some tasks are meant to be organic, in that what we are doing at the moment is what should be done.

However, that is not to say that if you have a bible-marking system that works for you that you ought to abandon it. On the contrary, keep doing what you are doing. If it helps you learn the scriptures, there is no need to change something that is working. My advice is for those Christians who are wondering what to do when they buy their first bible and want to make notes in it but have no idea how to do that.

Again, I will say it: mark your bible.

How I used to mark my bible

How I marked my bible thirty years ago

I once had an elaborate marking system that enabled me to visually look at certain passages of the bible and know instantly what it was about. My color categories where:

  1. Blue—God
  2. Red—Angels and demons
  3. Brown—Humanity
  4. Orange—Civilization
  5. Purple—Israel
  6. Yellow—Church
  7. Green—Kingdom of God

In addition to coloring the verses, I also placed red-pen boxes around words I would want to define; and if something really stood out, I would underline phrases and words with a red pen. Of course, thinking I would need to differentiate what I learned at home with what I learned at church, I would carry around a blue pen and mark my bible that way during sermons.

For a long time, this system suited me. I appreciated it, and I enjoyed reading through marked sections again, gleaning tidbits of truth as I went along. I found, though, as the years went on, my understanding had grown and what I had believed twenty-five, thirty years ago, is not what I believe today. Several fundamentals are the same, but through diligent prayer and bible study, scriptures I had once marked as one thing suddenly had taken on a different meaning.

How I mark my bible today

Nowadays, I simply mark my bible. If a thought or a verse really stands out for me, affects me in a way that it has never affected me before, I mark it with whatever pen I have in my hand. I agree, it is a simplistic approach, but ultimately God through the Holy Spirit reveals what we need to remember when we read our bibles:

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:25)

It is not how we mark our bibles, but what we gain from those passages we have marked.

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Cover Reveal

Four years later, it’s done. The final book to my Ranger Martin zombie series is complete. Today I reveal the cover to Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise. Am I excited? I wouldn’t know where to start to tell you how I feel right now. Yeah, I am excited. Can’t you tell? Next month, my dream will come true. On October 20, 2015, the book releases.

Ranger Martin and the Search for ParadiseLast Friday, I’d promised I’d tell you where the idea for Ranger Martin came from.

As clichéd as it sounds, I woke up one morning in October 2011 with Ranger’s name surfing through my head. While shaving, the image of a zombie slayer turned father-figure began to take shape. Ranger would travel across the country saving kids from the likes of chewers and eaters, providing lodging and giving them a purpose for their existence.

The story grew after I had entered it as part of National Novel Writing Month in November that year.

Two of the other main characters in the series are Matty, a fifteen-year-old who doesn’t take any flak from anyone, and her know-it-all eight-year-old brother, Jon. Together, they’re the ones who cause Ranger the most grief.

What I found interesting writing this series is how the stories for each book flowed without much effort on my part. I had a general idea of how it would all work—actually, all I had were the titles Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse, Ranger Martin and the Alien Invasion, Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise, and the endings. Beyond that, I hadn’t a clue as to what would happen in each novel. Every day that I took to my writing hole there was an adventure awaiting for me to discover.

In all honesty, it was as if I were taking dictation.

Anyway, to give you an idea where the cover came from, the photo is from October 2004. I was sitting on a hill watching the boats pass at Toronto’s Waterfront when I saw a women standing on the dock. She caught my attention and I snapped her picture. A few seconds was all it took and she was gone. Years later, I would remember that photo and it made me wonder whatever happened to that woman. What was she thinking while she stared into the distance? Was she thinking of her family? Was she thinking of a long lost love? Or was she simply standing there because she saw me taking photos of the area knowing she would become a timeless image for others to talk about?

If she only knew her image would become part of the cover to my next book, I’m sure now she would think it flattering.

Not to make it sound as if the whole process for writing the trilogy was easy, I had to sacrifice a better part of my Sundays and evenings to put the series together. That included dedicating writing sessions between events such as home renovations, birthdays, driving my kids to recitals, long weekends, funerals, and anything else you can classify as mundane tasks that would make up life. Add to the laundry list the blog schedule I had committed to in December 2012 to write three posts a week, no matter what the circumstances, and you have a very busy Jack.

Mind you, I’m not complaining—I’m explaining. Then again, I wouldn’t trade in the experience for anything in the world. If it hadn’t been for Ranger Martin, I wouldn’t have found the writing rhythm that works for me. Ranger taught me

  • Never to surrender.
  • Always be consistent.
  • And never pay attention to what the crowd is doing.

Okay, I think I can now can tell you what Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise is about! From the back jacket:

There is no cure. The change is permanent. Whoever says they can fix this is wrong.

Months ago, billions of people died in the zombie apocalypse. The survivors either have become refugees looking for a way out or have turned against each other. No one will admit they killed their friend for a package of raisins. It happens though, and there isn’t anything anyone can do about it.

Undead slayer Ranger Martin makes the unforgiving Arizona desert his home. He has never had to defend it. He has never had to kill anyone for it. If anything, he has shelved his shotgun and has taken an early retirement package.

That is, until now.

When the military lays siege on his silo, Ranger and his crack team of professionals—a bunch of kids, really—have no other choice than to run. But after he discovers a map that may lead to a mythic city called Paradise, where neither army nor zombie can invade, Ranger mounts a cross-state journey to find the place of safety before the others find him and it’s too late.

Now, because I would love for everyone on the planet to enjoy Ranger Martin’s way of solving the zombie problem, and in celebration of my October 20 release of my new book, starting tomorrow for 5 days, I will be offering the first book in the trilogy Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse FREE. That’s right. You’ll be able to download it without spending a dime. It’s my way of showing my appreciation for all the support extended to me these past few years while I teetered on the edge of insanity doing what I love doing—writing about the zombie apocalypse.

Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse

Thanks everyone for all your support!