BETHLEHEM — Local author Robert LaCosta believes that people can learn to see and hear God. As someone who works in an industry helping people to actually hear, he sees his other vocation as doing the same work in the spiritual realm. A prolific writer of spiritual allegory, inspirational storytelling and songs, he recently published his latest book, a daily devotional meant to remind people to look for those opportunities to encounter God on a daily basis — even on a busy schedule.
LaCosta, noting that devotionals have become popular for the very reason that the average schedule simply doesn’t allow for spending an hour or two with one’s chosen scripture every day, said that he believes his is unique in that it is not inspired by scripture, but by his own experiences. A member of Bethlehem Community Church in Delmar, LaCosta was raised a Roman Catholic. He says he’s always able to find a Bible passage that exemplifies the experiences he shares in his book, Portals to Heaven.
“Portals to heaven are these little daily metaphor-du-jours, or that’s what I call them,” said LaCosta. “And they’re ways of beginning to interpret what’s before you, right before you in the now, as an opening to heaven — a portal or a gateway to heaven.”
It can be anything, he said, sharing several examples. In once instance, he was at a public swimming pool in New Jersey and could see the Atlantic Ocean beyond a wall bearing all the necessary pool maintenance apparatus. He said it made him think about all the labor humans put into maintaining things that are often pale copies of their naturally made, self-sustaining originals. Every morning, LaCosta is fortunate enough to see the sun rise over the Hudson River from his home and says that, in itself, is its own daily affirmation for him.
“What I thought the Lord was showing me was, very simply, that there are metaphors in virtually everything I’m seeing,” he said. “From watching squirrels and birds fighting over the bird feeder while I’m sitting on my back porch, and we have plenty of seeds, we’ll fill it back up, but they’re fighting over it. And that reminded me of war and mankind’s insecurity that God’s not going to take care of them.”
LaCosta has been writing a blog about the portals he sees for about three years, and says that putting them into a print version spanning a year — portals written by LaCosta on Monday through Wednesday for 53 weeks, and do-it-yourself portal exercises on the weekends — was surprisingly difficult.
“I didn’t start doing it to write a book,” he said. “I had to turn a 400- to 600-word blog into a 250-word portal, and the constraints are much more severe with print.” To edit more than 360 portals, he said, “was crazy.”
It all came together, however, and his book went on the market on the morning of Black Friday. “That, in and of itself, was kind of a portal,” he said laughing. “It went through so many edits and had some problems and by the time CreateSpace released it, it literally hit on the morning of Black Friday. It was amazing. I’ve been editing that book since February.”
LaCosta, who has been a regular columnist for the Senior Spotlight, has also published three novels and has an online devotional site, called Awaken (at sonrisen.com), where he publishes longer Portals to Heaven posts alongside other contributions from guest writers. His portals are also featured on the app MobileGod, which will also personalize scripture verses (based on a survey) and send the user two each day.
“Even people who are retired seem to be busy,” he said. “So devotionals are a way of connecting with God, usually in the morning.”
“Bob’s is a rare combination of good biblical theology and practicality,” said Pastor Frank Wray of Bethlehem Community Church. “It’s unusual in that way. Usually devotionals are highly theological or just a lot of practicality without any biblical content. Bob really gets down to the essence of Christian theology, which is that Jesus is really the only one who can solve the problem of the human heart. He tends to highlight the eternal over the temporal.”
Wray says he’s already purchased multiple copies of the book to give out as Christmas gifts.
Anyone else interested in purchasing the book to give as a Christmas gift, or simply to keep at home, can go on Amazon.com, Sonrisen.com or robertlacosta.com; or look for copies at the Living Parable Christian Store in Latham. LaCosta also hopes to have copies available this week at I Love Books in Delmar and The Book House at Stuyvesant Plaza. Additionally, books can be ordered through No Reputation Communications at 1-(844)-343-3277.