Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tell Me A Story by Scott McClellan

"We are far from home; indeed, we are a long way East of Eden.
I understand that you want answers. But what we have is a Story,
which I would have you hear from the Beginning...."
Sean Gladding's The Story of God, The Story of Us, quoted in this book.

I loved Tell Me a Story, and I'm quite afraid my review will not do it justice. But I'll try anyway.
Tell Me a Story is a book about Life, about seeing Life as a story and seeing the Story in Life, about 'finding God and ourselves through narrative.'

That subtitle drew me in, because I am a story addict. I have always felt like I connect better with people and love them more when I am allowed to hear their story, and I often see people's lives as stories with Characters, Conflicts and the hope of Redemption. Somehow this puts things in perspective for me, and helps me understand people better. Everyone has a story, and every event is part of a story.

When we begin seeing God's works and unfolding plan as The Story, His Story, it makes even more sense.

I shall resist my temptation to quote whole pages of this book, the way I did to my family around the table as I was reading.
Instead I shall quote two paragraphs. "God gives us His Story that we might get a glimpse of who He is. But He doesn't stop there. God extends to us a story to enter, a story to put on, a story to tell."

"We must listen to and take part in the stories of others. Along the way, you'll hear hundreds of stories that make something of the world, but none will be as wide and long and high and deep as the Love of Christ expressed in the Story.
So we must tell stories of our own. We must engage and we must imagine and we must give them something to eat... because that is what storytellers do."

This book is very thought provoking and it gave me a lot to consider about life and art.
While reading, I felt as though I was having a conversation with Scott McClellan, the author.

And, this book is downright funny at times.
The fact that it made me laugh so many times was a bonus for me. I love a book that has well placed humor- especially when it deals with serious topics, like this one did.

 I would recommend Tell Me a Story to anyone who is looking for insights about life. If you are a story-lover who already understand the power of narrative to define and change lives, you need to read this. If you have never seen the Story in your life and wonder if there is one, you need to read this.
Tell me a Story.
5 Stars.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Prosperity and the Glory of God.

    After receiving the awesome Valley of Vison: A Collection of Puritan Prayers, for Christmas I was eager to read more from these giants of the faith. 
    This book is a beautiful new edition of Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs' book "The Art of improving a Full and Prosperous Condition for the Glory of God." 
    This book was first published in 1675, and today we need this book even more. Nothing has changed in human nature or Divine nature, and because of that we find Jeremiah Burroughs' thoughts on prosperity, contentment and fullness timeless.
    The text Rev. Burroughs preached upon was Philippians 4:11-12, from the Letter of Joy, where Paul tells us that he has learned to be full in all circumstances, whether abased or abounding. And we wonder: How do we do that? I have always focused on the abased part, wondering "How would I be full if I were in want?" 
The more important question is, "How do I be full when I am prospering, like I am today?" 
 I read a quote that says that 90% of Christians fail the "prosperity test"- they don't know how to be full and content and Glorify God  

"This is our primary point:" Rev. Burroughs writes, "A Christian is taught by God to know how to be full."  He continues, "There are many who would gladly hear a lesson on how they could obtain fullness,  but they do not consider it as necessary to learn how to sanctify God in their fullness. 
If I could preach a sermon or two on how you could supply your wants and how you could obtain wealth, I have no question that our church would be filled with people. 
This would be the case if I were to teach poor people how they could get rich, or teach those who are disgraced how they could get honor, and the like.
But, I am teaching you a lesson from God rather than man, and that is much better. 
It is a better lesson for one to learn how to honor God in fullness than to learn how to get full." 

This book explains the idea of being full to the Glory of God. I think Rev. Burroughs would have been an amazing preacher to hear, and I am so glad that his books have been reissued for this generation. 

Thank you to Cross Focused Reviews for our copy of this book. 

Elisabeth Elliot.

Made by a G+ friend. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

More Books I hope to Read.

Grounded, by Neta and Dave Jackson.

Lots of words come to mind when you ask me about Dave and Neta Jackson's book Grounded: 

"Very Enjoyable."

"Lots of grace and a delightful read."

"I savored the story."

This begins to describe what I thought about Grounded, the first book in the Windy City Neighbors Series.

The descriptive, writing brought me to the places the characters were.

I wished I could meet these people.

Grace's spiritual journey was satisfying and I was very happy at the hope she had found when the book ended. The spiritual insight and growth in her journey was rich and believable.

Their were meaningful, loving relationships shown here, from Grace's loyal and caring assistant Samantha to Estelle who opened her arms and home to Grace.

The plot was so real and very heart warming. The ending was hopeful and inspiring yet it left room for a sequel.

This book left me knowing that I want to read more of this authors work because I loved Grounded so much. I look forward to the sequels!
Thank you so much to Worthy Publishing for sending me this book! 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Why I read mysteries.

  The Ollie Chandler Collection by Randy Alcorn.
  The Pacific Coast Justice Series by Janice Cantore.
  Seeds of Evidence by Linda J. White.
  Stress Test by Richard Mabry.
  Back on Murder by J. Mark Bertrand.

  These are some of my favorite books.
  They are all mystery/suspense novels.
  They engage complex themes with real characters, ask genuine questions of faith, and view this world through a solid Biblical perspective.

This article is my limping attempt to put into words what I feel after reading a book like that, to give you a glimpse into the pull of the story, to stir in you the desire to live beside the characters in a story.

Why do I read mysteries?

Mysteries tend to grapple with real issues, the kind that are both today's issues and man's eternal questions.
The mysteries, if properly done, confront sin as sin and call it so. The mystery looks deep into the way sin hurts people, cheats people, and ends life.
The sanctity of life can be taught through a mystery, a profound sadness over death, a burden for evangelism to the lost can be laid on the heart by a mystery.
And the wholesomeness, goodness, blessedness of life can be shown in full color in a mystery.

In a mystery, when we guess the subject wrong, we are reminded that our judgement is clouded. Appearances fool us, demons look like angels of light. We are reminded that the guilty can look innocent and that man's powers of deception know almost no bounds.

In am mystery, we often read of framings. The innocent set up to look like a criminal. Then we ask the fascinating question. How do you prove your own innocence?
And what if you don't trust yourself?
What if, like Ollie Chandler, you have been having black-outs and don't know if you could have killed the man, and the blood is on your clothes?

And what if, as you fight to prove your innocence before an earthly judge, you realize your need for pardon before the Judge of Heaven?

In mysteries we see the battle between darkness and light. We also see redemption in its most crystal clear, stunning colors.

Sometimes, as Linda White has pointed out, people question how Christians can write suspense...after all, it deals with such dark, gritty, fallen themes. How can a book with hard issues in it possible be fitting reading for Christians? How could it Glorify God?

A quote from Tony Reinke's Lit! says it best: "The soil of this world is sinful. We live in a world filled with disgusting acts of selfishness, brutality and abuse. This is because the world is populated with dark, sinful hearts- hearts like ours. Our world groans to be freed from the chaos of sin. And so do we. And the Gospel answers our longing to be freed from sin. Christian literature uses the sin-stained world as the soil where the green sprout of Grace grows." 

As Larry Woiwode is quoted as saying, aslo in Lit! "If sin isn't mentioned or depicted, there's no need for redemption. How can the majesty of God's Mighty arm be defined in a saccharin romance?" 

You have no idea how much it frosts me, to use Ollie Chandler's expression, to see Christians refuse to read J. Mark Bertrand's books, or worse, to say his books aren't Christian! Why? Because there is depth and meaning to them? Because depravity addressed in these books? Because, like life, they have glimmers of hope and not a perfect ending?
How is that not Christian?
How is being forced to think hard and confront sin as sin not Christian?
I confess, I read Back On Murder and didn't get all the complexities out of it the first time.
I won't get them all the second time. Or the third. That is what makes the book worthy reading!

A book that addresses powerful themes and accurately portrays the sadness and darkness and the faith and hope- those books are the reason why I read!

"Reading is not an escape from life, it is an exercise in living." So said Gladys Hunt, author of the book that introduced me to a Theology of Reading, Honey for a Teens Heart. She pointed out: "There are many other reasons to read. Read as a way to work through problems in real life; read as a way of celebrating your joys, read as enjoyment, entertainment, read because you love Beauty. Read to savor your memories."

And mysteries do that for me. They sharpen my mind and increase my courage by allowing me to put on the armor and try and be a Knight, like C. S Lewis said. In the mysteries I have read, they have allowed me to put on the kevlar vest and be an FBI Special Agent, a police officer in Las Playas, a Houston homicide detective. I follow the characters, and I learn from them.

Gladys Hunt asked where I would learn these things without examples. She wrote: "How can we understand honor or valor or courage unless we have sometimes seen these traits in someone's life? Good literature may so move the reader that it seems impossible to verbalize about it. The experience is what counts."

Honor. Valor. Courage. That is one of the main reasons I read mysteries. Because the characters are often pushed past human limits, mentally and physically. They work as a team, they cover each other, they give their all. They give me heroes to admire. And most often, the hero is quite unlikely, reminding me of the way it is in life.

Dr. Newman and Sandra. Roland March. Carly and Nick. David and Kit. Ollie Chandler.
In them, I see traits I want in my life. They think on their feet, they keep a level head, they find the truth, the are creative and brave. They keep calm and stay sharp. They are determined.

All traits the Christian needs.

Another reason I read mysteries is because the police procedural is the only kind of story I know that shows work being treated as a calling, a vocation. We see agents, police officers, detectives who view their work the way we need to, as part of our God Given purpose, with eternal results. They get justice, stop evil, and save lives.
It is a healthy thing to read of work like that, and the details given fascinate my mind. I love learning how evidence is collected at a crime scene, how officers are treated after a shooting incident, how a detective buys a hacksaw and cuts a tie-rod to see how the criminal would have done it. I love hearing about how the FBI tech specialists can put a GPS in an Ipod, and how forensic botanists can test acorn DNA.

I love being brought into the character's work, like the hospital Dr. Newman worked at in Stress Test or the newsroom with Jake Woods in Deadline.

And last, but not least, I have had the pleasure of reading mysteries where genuine love grew between characters, and made me rejoice with them along the way. In a fallen world we need the reminder that God's love heals us and that human love blesses us. In mysteries we see the love born of comradeship, friendship, and brotherhood.
We celebrate this. We see hope, love, redemption. We see it in these stories and we recognize it in our lives. It is like Tony Reinke says: "The best Christian novelists write from a Biblical worldview, one that is not afraid of digging into the soil of common human experience." 

That is why I read mysteries. There is something epic in the mystery, in the way every emotion is drawn in and in the pull of the story. 

I will leave you with another word from Gladys Hunt, the woman who helped me love reading.
"The Great Story of the universe can be told in many forms, and when it is told well it involves you and me, and makes us see that our lives are stories too. The stories always involve a view of truth and what we will make of the choices given us. A great novel can be a kind of conversion experience. We come away from it changed." Gladys Hunt.

 To my favorite writers: Thank you for honing your craft, thank you for tending your gift. Thank you for writing. 

Quotes from:
 Honey for a Woman's Heart: Growing Your World through Reading Great Books: Gladys Hunt

And Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books: Tony Reinke, They are both fabulous reading.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Alaska. The setting for a story idea I have... a mystery.

Photos of Alaska - Featured Images
This photo of Alaska is courtesy of TripAdvisor

It is Finished by David Wilkerson.

It Is Finished by David Wilkerson will be one of my top books of the year.
David Wilkerson was the pastor of Church and the author of several books, including The Cross and the Switchblade. 
He went home to be the Lord in 2011, and this book is one of the many blessings his preaching legacy has left us.

Included throughout this book are testimonies written by men and women whose lives were changed by understanding the truth in here: That it is Finished. That through His work you are free of sin's dominion, because the Holy Spirit lives in you and is mighty to save.

That triumphant cry from the Cross "It is Finished!" is the absolutely perfect title for this book, this book that unfolds the riches of the New Covenant for us.

 Listen to this quote: "Everything depends on Him. If there is going to be revelation, He must give it. If there is going to be deliverance from besetting sins, the Holy Spirit has to do it. If things in my life need fixing, He has to fix them. If I am to be a blessing and a joy to Him, He has to make it happen. If I am to walk in the Spirit, He has to show me how."

And this quote: "I ask you, If you throw yourself on the mercy of the Holy Spirit-trusting Him completely, believing He is able to fulfill everything God demands of you- what enemy could stand against His power to accomplish all things in you? What temptation could overwhelm His might, which abides in you? The Holy Spirit simply asks that we come to Him believing that He has all power and authority to break sin's dominion over us?"

It is Finished is a book that takes you back to your first Love, Jesus, by reminding us that it is His love that is constant and His work that saves.
This book refreshes the heart by reminding us of the foundational truths we tend to leave behind and lose sight of.
Learning them again brings joy to our spirit.
I highly reccommend this book, It is Finished by David Wilkerson.
Thank you to Chosen Books for my copy to review. One man quoted in this book said he wore out three copies of It is Finished. I can see why. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Stress Test. By Richard Mabry M.D


 From the first paragraph of Stress Test you are placed in the life of Dr. Matt Newman, a surgeon just coming off a long shift. You feel the tiredness, you pull out your car keys in the parking garage, and then attackers grab you from behind and you feel the cracking pain of breaking ribs as they throw you to the concrete floor.
 "Lets get him in the trunk," says the voice. And they bind Dr. Newman with duct tape and lock him in his own car's trunk.

This book does not let up, and you won't put it down.

When a body is found in the same trunk that Dr. Newman barely escapes, he is a "person of interest" in a murder. Dr. Newman meets attorney Sandra Murray, and the story just gets better as the mystery becomes more intense.

Sandra is an amazing character. Confident, smart, and Christian, I loved the way she looked out for Dr. Newman. I knew she was going to be my favorite female character when she said to Matthew "You're not on your own. I'm with you. We're a team." I loved watching her look out for him...coming to the hospital to pick him up after he worked late, making sure he went to the hospital after there is an attempt on his life. And there are multiple attempts on his life.

Dr. Newman himself is a person we grow attached to- we love his passion for helping people through medicine and his desire to be proven innocent.
The ease with which his old girlfriend Jennifer dumped him provided comic relief that was also tragic...she was so selfish, yet still tragic.

Matthew's relationship with Sandra was right, and realistic, growing out of their desire to see him acquitted of several crimes. Several. You saw that right. By the middle of this book, they are framing him for more than this one terrible murder.
And you are hoping that he lives through it.

Thank you Dr. Mabry for writing a book with danger, mystery, suspense and a very subtle hint of romance that grows out of caring love, the way it should. I am waiting for Heart Failure next!

I received Stress Test from the awesome book tour service Litfuse for this review. Thank you for the chance to read this book!

Richard Mabry is a Christian, husband, father and grandfather.    He writes his fascinating Medical Suspense Novels Sola Deo Gloria, to God's Glory Alone, and because of that they make excellent reading. Thank you, sir, for Stress Test and now I am eagerly waiting for Heart Failure!

Visit him at his website, Richard Mabry.

Follow his twitter Richard Mabry (RichardMabry) on Twitter

And Facebook Richard Mabry

And an interview from the SUSPENSE SISTERS: With Richard Mabry.  

Tower of Babel by Bodie Hodge.

I first found Bodie Hodge's writing at Answers In Genesis, and his articles have helped me and been a blessing to many Creationists.
He has now written a new book "The Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of our Ancestors."
When I saw this book coming in the Spring review list for New Leaf Publishing Group I jumped at the chance, and I found that this is a very interesting, thorough, and clearly written book.

As Creationists, we know that Genesis One through Eleven is under attack. Evolutionary ideologies are infiltrating the church, and the historical events of Creation, the Fall, and the Flood are being reinterpreted or rejected. We understand that we need to teach and defend the account of Creation, the Fall and the Flood as recorded in Scripture. We also need to defend another key moment in Earth's history: the Tower of Babel.

Bodie Hodge has placed scientific discoveries in the context of the Biblical narrative, giving us Creationist models and theories to help us understand history in light of Scripture.

Bodie Hodge's book does an excellent job showing us how Babel unlocks the answers to many questions: about languages and the origin of writing, about Post-Flood civilizations, about tribes and nations, about post-Babel travel to other countries.
This book piqued my curiosity about all of these things, and Mr. Hodge has included notes and suggestions for further research so that we can keep studying, using this book as an introduction.

For example,
Did you know that off Japan's coast is an underwater step pyramid that sits on an area of land that was exposed during the after the flood ice age? It is believed that the descendants of Babel built that step pyramid as when they settled there on that land bridge for a time during their travels to other places. After reading this, I went online and looked up photos of the underwater step pyramid, my curiosity sparked by this book.
And there are many other things mentioned in The Tower of Babel to spark the imagination and a love of history, such as charts of all the flood legends worldwide and the different genealogies that trace back to Noah and his family.
Truly, when we study the history in Scripture, we are studying our ancestors. This will be a great high-school level study in Creation science, history and anthropology. Thank you so much to New Leaf Press Group and Bodie Hodge for my copy to review!

Monday, April 22, 2013

What Am I reading Monday?


More precious than Silver, by Joni Tada. 

Tell Me a Story by Scott McClennan

And Hope to Read for this week? 

Darkness Before Dawn. By Ace Collins

Past Darkness by Laurel Woiwode

Damascus Countdown.

In Damascus Countdown, Joel Rosenberg has created a stunning conclusion to the trilogy that began with the Twelfth Imam and The Tehran Initiative. 
Joel Rosenberg has fused together a single story out of multiple viewpoints, using the breaks in perspective to heighten the tension.
And there is much tension in this book, as there is in our world today.
The Islamic false messiah, the "Twelfth Iman" has come into power, an he is leading Muslims all over the globe as they attempt to establish the universal Caliphate. Total Muslim domination is his end, and the Imam is manipulating religion and politics to achieve his goal.
Despite his claims that the global Caliphate will be a reign of peace, justice and unity, the Imam is pursuing as many nuclear weapons as he can. Of course, he calls them "weapons of life."

As Iran's nuclear capabilities increase and increase, Israel launches an effective pre-emptive strike,  cutting Iran down to two nuclear warheads. But the warheads cannot be accounted for... and now these "missing" warheads are on the move, on their way to a launch site that American intelligence cannot pinpoint.

Israel knows these warheads must be stopped, but America resists a full commitment to help their ally. The America government is not pleased with Israel's self defense, and instead warns them to stand down or fear sanctions.

Meanwhile, In Iran, crack CIA operative David Shirazi and his fine paramilitary team are given this mission: Find and Destroy the warheads. And do this now. Millions of Israeli and soon America lives hang in the balance.
Shirazi, Fox, Crenshaw, Torres, and Mays must move with precision, and they must let nothing stop them. In other words, they must be the special ops team that they are.

As I read this book aloud, my listeners sat riveted. The action is incredible... The characters are real and you care about them as you read. The story is thought provoking on many levels...especially considering our world today.

Thank you Joel Rosenberg for this book, and thank you Tyndale House and Goodreads for hosting this Giveaway for Damascus Countdown.

Joel Rosenberg's books have been given the following endorsements, and I agree with them. 

"Whenever I see a new Joel Rosenberg book coming out, I know I need to clear time on my calendar. His penetrating knowledge of all things Mid-eastern-coupled with his intuitive knack for high stakes intrigue-demand attention. I've read them all, and been richly rewarded. I'm especially looking forward to Damascus Countdown." - Porter Goss, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency

"Joel Rosenberg is the most knowledgeable and well-rounded author in America today regarding the realities of current events in the Mideast, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf. In fact, Joel is a true authority on the geopolitics and history of those regions, and speaks extensively about the serious threats that the Radical elements of Islam present to America and our close ally, Israel….Joel has an incredible ability to write both fiction and non-fiction in a way that the reader senses that they are part of the plot and often, on the front line. If you want to get a better understanding of what is unfolding in the 'epicenter' of today's world, let Joel take you on an incredible and exciting journey."- Lt.-General (ret.) Jerry Boykin, former commander of Delta Force and former U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence

"If there were a Forbes 400 list of great current novelists, Joel Rosenberg would be among the top ten. More than a decade ago we kicked off one of his masterpieces, The Last Jihad, at a book party at the Forbes Media headquarters. Today millions see what we saw then, one of the most entertaining and intriguing authors of international political thrillers in the country. No wonder Joel has sold nearly three million copies – his novels are un-put-downable including his new one, Damascus Countdown!" - Steve Forbes 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Humble Orthodoxy by Joshua Harris.


The very title of this book, Humble Orthodoxy by Joshua Harris and Eric Stanford, made me think  I needed to read it. 
The subtitle, Holding the Truth High Without Putting People Down convinced me, because this strikes at the heart of every Christian. 
In our day, this is one of the Church's greatest needs. We need Humble Orthodoxy.  
Have you ever met the doctrinally sound man who manages to be repellent and unkind even when he is presenting the beauties of the Gospel? This is the attitude Joshua Harris calls "Arrogant Orthodoxy." 
How about the very friendly, understanding man who listens well and speaks about God's acceptance, yet never makes anyone uncomfortable by checking their beliefs against Scripture?This is the attitude Joshua Harris calls "Humble Heterodoxy." 

I know these extremes well, as do all of us probably. 
Timothy and Paul did too. That is why Paul wrote the letter of 2 Timothy, full of instruction on doctrine as well as the Christ-like attitude the orthodox must hold. We need to first understand that it isn't about us, about being right. It isn't our Truth we are defending. It is about the Truth God has given us, and the Redemption He gives. 
Timothy's legacy is our legacy: handling the word of God rightly. 
In short, Doctrine is Truth God has given us to defend, and we have to do so in a manner worthy of Him. 

If you only remember one thing from this book, it perhaps should be this line: It is possible to defend the Truth of Christ in a way that drives people from Him. 
If that doesn't make you repent and mend your ways, what will? 
Of course, just knowing that is not enough. 
We must know that the same Gospel we are defending provides us with the ability to wage war to save souls, not destroy perceived enemies. 

Then, by the power of Christ, we can be Humbly Orthodox. 
Thank you to the authors and to Waterbrook's Blogging for Books program for sending me this book! 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Grace's Pictures. By Cindy Thomson

My review in two sentences: The gorgeous cover on Grace's Pictures is perfect for the story within. Grace McCaffery is an entirely appealing heroine, and her story is told so descriptively!   

This book captures the timidity and fear of an new immigrant just come through Ellis Island, as well as the boldness and spirit needed to make a new life in America. 

Grace comes to America with burdens to carry. Her young life in Ireland has included much suffering. A harsh father whose death sold her into the workhouse has left her believing that God doesn't love people like her. 
Her father considered her worthless, but her mother tells her she is smart, and strong and able. Grace has a hard time seeing those qualities in herself. 

Grace's ambition is to work hard and earn enough money to free her mother from her second marriage, a marriage she entered so that Grace could be sent to America. 
Grace's rule for herself is to never trust policemen, for it was policemen who tore her from her mother and took her to the workhouse. 

However, Grace never planned on meeting such a kindly police officer as Owen McNulty. 
Nor did she plan to fall in love with photography and purchase a one-dollar Brownie camera. 
And she never planned to cross the gang "the Dusters." 
From there is the story of Grace's Pictures. 

This book is a delightful combination that intrigued me on may levels: I am part Irish, I am fascinated by police work, my best friend is a photographer, and I love historical novels. 

Grace's Pictures is delightfully long and wonderfully descriptive, written in the just the right tone for Grace and at just the right pace for this period in history. I made a mistake in beginning Grace's Pictures so late in the evening the day it came, because once I started I did not want to close this book. I am happy to announce that this book has a home in my library, and this is a new series that I am eagerly watching for. 

I am very blessed to have received an ARC from Cindy Thomson and Tyndale House to review early. 

Cindy Thomson 

"For as long as I can remember I've made up stories. When I was a teacher I thought about writing books for children. However, when I finally began writing a novel, I turned to my genealogy research and wrote a fictionalized story of my ancestors. That novel is still unpublished, but my interest in my roots, which go back to Ireland and Scotland, sparked an interest in Irish history."  

You can read more about this book here: Cindy Thomson: Author Interview - Christianbook.com

Follow Cindy Thomson (cindyswriting) on Twitter

And on Facebook Author Cindy Thomson

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

In Broken Places by Michele Phoenix


by Michele Phoenix

My review in two sentences?
While reading this book, first you cry and then you cheer.
And along the way you learn about Love.

"I'm not mom material. He made sure of that."
These are Shelby's words. 
About her father. 
And his child.
Her sister. 
Shayla is four years old. Shelby is thirty-five. 
And Shelby is about to adopt Shayla. 
Her father's will requested that she become guardian of his child. 
   Thus begins the story of Shelby who is a woman who has convinced herself she is unlovable, and the people who want to show her otherwise. 
    Shelby cannot stay in her father's territory and raise his daughter, so she travels to Germany to begin a new life. 
    She will teach at a Christian school for missionary's kids and raise this adorable child. 
    Bev and Gus, a kind and friendly couple, take her right into their home and hearts, making her and her half-sister their daughters. 
    Shelby meets the creative and complex young students she is going to teach. 
    Shelby is amazed at the depth she finds in the students as she directs the play Shadowlands, about the life of C. S. Lewis.

    And at the school, she also meets the health/gym teacher, Scott.
Gus introduces them. Like this:"Scott, meet your future wife." And Shelby prays for an immediate Rapture. 
   However, no matter how many protective walls she builds or keep-your-distance barbs she shoots at him, Scott continues to walk her home each night and ask her questions. 
 "What's your position on predestination?" 
 "I was predestined to eat cheesecake, and you were predestined to harass cheesecake eaters."
  Scott refuses to be pushed away, coming back again and again, and Shelby knows something about him resonates with her heart. She just doesn't know how to say "Yes" to his love. 
    As I read In Broken Places, I wanted to cry for Shelby, and Trey, her brother, as the story of their abused childhood is told through flash-backs.
   Then I wanted to cheer as Shelby chose Shayla, and as Scott chose Shelby.
    And along the way as you read, you learn about Love.

Thank you Michele Phoenix for writing this book, 
for showing the great power human love has to point us to God's never failing Love.
Thank you Tyndale House for sending me In Broken Places to review.

Monday, April 15, 2013

It is Monday.

We are reading... 

We are reading this one aloud today. 
Review Here.

Re-Reading this One. 
I first read this book on Friday. 
Read it in one day. 
Re-reading it because it was so good. 
Review Here.

Linking up with 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Who is this Jesus? by Max Lucado. A review.

God yanks open curtains in dark rooms 
where we didn't even know 
there was a window. 
Max Lucado

Who is this Jesus? allows us to witness the Crucifixion and see the Resurrected Jesus through the eyes of Claudius, a young Roman guard.

Claudius was one of the guards set to watch the tomb that dark night that Jesus was buried.
He was one of the guards who felt the ground shake, who saw the light, who fell to the ground terrified of the angel who appeared.
Claudius was one of the guards who looked into the empty tomb, and trembled.
Claudius was one of the guards told to lie about what happened that night.
He is told that he fell asleep, and as he slept the heavy stone was rolled back and the followers of Jesus stole away His body.
Claudius knows it is a lie.
He knows that Something Else happened.

So Claudius goes to the upper room where the followers of the Lord are gathered.
And he tells them he knows this was no ordinary man.
He knew it when he helped crucify Jesus, who prayed for him instead of fighting and cursing.
He knew it when Jesus looked from the Cross with eyes full of pain and yet love for his tormentors.
Claudius knew it when he stood up, shaking, after the earth shook and the light shone and he found an empty tomb.

And Claudius is asking, Who is this Jesus?
The answer he receives for that question is the answer we all need to find.
I will not spoil the emotion of the ending by telling you about it.
I will simply say the ending is beautiful and so like our Jesus, to answer this seeker's question that way.

The paintings in this book are evocative and warm, bringing to life the confused faces of the disciples, the lamp light on the burnished metal of a Roman shield, and the final, tender scene.

Thank you to Worthy Publishing for sending me this beautiful book to review, and to the author and artist for writing and painting to Glorify the Risen One.

Look at the first pages of Who is this Jesus? 

 Max Lucado is a beloved author, who uses his gift in writing to inspire and encourage, sharing the message of the Gospel.  This is a book I can highly recommend to Christians of all ages. I would read this book aloud with children, and let them grow used to hearing the truths of the Gospel and looking at the paintings. I would give this book to a new Christian. I would give this book to a believer who knows the glory of the Resurrection. I am blessed to have a copy on my book- shelf.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Give-Away to Celebrate When Jesus Wept!

Celebrate the release of When Jesus Wept with the Thoenes by entering their iPad Mini giveaway and RSVPing to their {4/23} Facebook Author Chat party!


One fortunate winner will receive:

  • A brand new iPad Mini

  • A book club kit - 10 copies of When Jesus Wept

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 22nd. Winner will be announced at the "When Jesus Wept" Author Chat Party on 4/23. Connect with the Thoenes, get a sneak peek of the next book in the Jerusalem Chronicles series, try your hand at a trivia contest, and chat with readers just like yourself. There will also be fun giveaways - gift certificates, books, and more!

So grab your copy of When Jesus Wept and join Bodie and Brock on the evening of the April 23rd for a chance to connect with the authors and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Fierce Women.

                                         Fierce Women. The Power of a Soft Warrior.

"Beautifully Fierce." Isn't that a phrase you would like to describe you?
It speaks of a woman who follows Christ passionately and has no fear holding her back.
It speaks of a woman who will pursue the Kingdom of God boldly and fight for the faith as a warrioress.
It speaks of a woman consumed in God's Cause, giving herself up for Him with no reservations.
Fierce is a good characteristic.
However, the word fierce has other conotations too.
Fierce can quickly turn into arrogant and demanding, prideful and painful to live with.
Fierce can either cause you to give without thought for yourself or to overwhelm others to get your own way.
Kimberly Wagner writes about both manifestations of fierceness in this book- the one that hurts and the one that serves.
It is very easy to hurt with our fierceness, it is hard to let Grace temper us into soft warriors.

This book convicts, and never condemns. Kimberly has walked this road. She has been transformed by Christ and now longs for every fierce woman to become a soft warrior, whose fierceness is refined by Grace, Repentance, Gratitude and Love.

Though this book looks primarily at the way misplaced fierceness tears apart a marriage, this book is essential reading for every woman.

The attitudes and habits that demean a husband don't appear (or disappear) when you walk down the aisle. They have been present in our hearts from Eve on, when good things became tainted by sin. Fierceness might be used to belittle or malign a husband, instead of to further his vision and encourage him.
The joyful, fascinating thing is, fierceness is not the problem.
Woman who fiercely loyal and fiercely loving toward Christ will set the world on fire for the Gospel.
A woman who is fiercely honoring to her husband and fiercely supportive of him will make a strong home. Fierceness is not bad! It doesn't need to be removed! Fierceness can glorify God!

The Fierce Woman can become a Soft Warrior.

Thank you Moody Press for sending me this True Woman book. I have also reviewed and highly recommend their books Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh Demoss, True Woman 101 by Mary Kassian and Nancy Leigh, and I have heard very good reviews about Lies Woman Believe by Mary Kassian.

You can visit Kimberly Wagner at her website. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Men Counseling Men.


Men Counseling Men is a book destined to get a lot of wear. In our world today we need men of God who will put their hand on the shoulder of another man and help him grow in Christ. This will involve Biblical counseling, which can be defined as one man helping another to understand the heart of God and apply God's truth to his situation. Counseling of this sort is done everyday by fathers and preachers and mentors. Every Christian man who helps his brothers grow in Christ will counsel them sooner or later about one or all of the issues addressed in this book.
As a Christian man, you need this book on your shelf.

Broken into four main sections, this book deals with Men and The Word, Men and Emotions, Men and Relationships, and Men and Specific Problems.

Men and The Word lays the foundation for the entire book as the counselor/mentor learns how to use the Word in counseling. The counselor must understand the Word before he can apply it. This section reminds us that the Word must be understood in context and interpreted correctly, and there is a chapter about discernment as a counselor of men.

Men and their Emotions is an area where one man can come alongside and greatly help another. God's Word has a lot to say about emotions such as anger, sadness and hopelessness. These emotions are dealt with here.
There is also a much needed section on depression, and the truths presented about how common depression is and how there is still hope are lifelines for the man who feels isolated in depression or anxiety. This is why Christian men must counsel one another, to give each other Gospel centered hope and encouragement.

Men and their Relationships is truly a wealth of pastoral counseling about all of a man's relationships.
This section begins with a look at the One Another passages in the New Testament, which explain how to live in fruitful relationship with one another. "Be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving one another."
This should be on the required reading list for every man, husband, father and grandfather, every Christian.
This section contains chapters on leaving and cleaving, parenting small children, and being a grandfather.

Men and Specific Problems has a very important chapter about how to help your son when he thinks he is homosexual, or is struggling with it.
There is also a chapter on rebuilding a marriage after adultery, something that can happen in some cases, by God's Grace.

I am delighted to say that Men Counseling Men is a book to buy and study, as is Christ Centered Biblical Counseling, also published by Harvest House in March of 2013 and reviewed here.
Thank you for sending me a review copy of this book. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

When Jesus Wept. New book by Brock and Bodie Thoene

                                         When Jesus Wept, The Jerusalem Chronicles Series #1 

Two thoughts about this book: How do the Thoenes write the way they do? And: I am sure glad that When Jesus Wept is the first in a new series.

I may have been sitting on my couch in an April afternoon reading the first chapter of this book, but my mind was with David ben Lazarus in Israel as he rode among the grapevines.

This book is written so vividly that the heat can be felt, the grapes can be tasted and you want to pet the pleasant faced goats that follow you through the vineyards.

The scene, Israel under Roman oppression during the time Jesus began to publicly minister, comes to life. As you read you understand a little of the turmoil and pain that being Jewish under Roman rule must have involved.
Biblical events such as John's Baptizing and The Wedding at Cana are woven into the story and the character's lives, allowing you to read the Scriptures with richer eyes.

The characters themselves are complex and carefully imagined: David ben Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha, and Jesus, as well as the invalid by the pool and the blind beggar that Jesus healed.

In this novel, Martha and Lazarus's sister Mary is the sensitive young one whom Lazarus married off to an old man in a profitable business deal. Now she is the wealthy widowed Mary of Magdala, who is still seeking love in broken relationships.
Lazarus is bearing his own pain... the loss of his dear bride and their first child in childbirth, the loss of his best friend in an act of Roman cruelty.
And Martha, sensible and sturdy, trying to serve her brother and praying for Mary to come home.
This book is written so that the emotions and spirit of the characters glow.

These men and women can see the brutality and injustice of the Romans, and the hypocrisy and corruption of the religious leaders, and they want Israel purged of these sins.
They hope the the Messiah will do so, ushering in God's blessing on the nation.
Do they realize their own hearts need cleansing and forgiveness, and that God may have another way of bringing His Kingdom?
All of them are asking the question: Is this Nazarene the Messiah?

I love the way the Thoene's write about Jesus, with passion and reverence and joy.  You delight in your Savior when you read their books.

Open this book and experience the days when Jesus walked in Israel though the eyes of David ben Lazarus, vintner of Bethany.

Thank you for writing a great beginning to a new series, Mr and Mrs. Thoene! And thank you Litfuse for sending me a copy of When Jesus Wept.