Thursday, April 30, 2009

New York Debut by Melody Carlson (Carter House Girls series)

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


New York Debut (Carter House Girls)

Zondervan (May 1, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past ten years, she has published more than a hundred books for children, teens, and adults, with sales totaling more than 2.5 million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List.

Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards including The Gold Medallion, The Christy, and The Rita Award. And most recently she is in the process of optioning some of her books for film rights.
She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (May 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310714931
ISBN-13: 978-0310714934

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


“Where is Taylor?” asked Grandmother as she drove DJ home from the airport.
”Is she coming on a later flight?”

DJ hadn’t told her the whole story yet. In fact, she hadn’t said much of anything to Grandmother at all during the past week, except to leave a message saying that she’d changed her flight and planned to be home two days earlier than expected. Obviously, Grandmother had assumed that Taylor had changed her plans as well.

“Taylor’s in LA,” DJ said slowly, wishing she could add something to that, something to deflect further questioning.

“Visiting her father?”

“No…”

“Touring with Eva?”

“No…”
“What then?” Grandmother’s voice was getting irritated as she drove away from the terminal. “Where is the girl, Desiree? Speak up.”

“She’s in rehab.”

“Rehab?” Grandmother turned to stare at DJ with widened eyes. “Whatever for?”

“For alcohol treatment.”

Grandmother seemed stunned into speechlessness, which was a relief since DJ didn’t really want to discuss this. She was still trying to grasp the whole strange phenomenon. It was hard to admit, but the past few days of being mostly by herself in Las Vegas had been lonely and depressing and one of the reasons she’d been desperate to change her flight and come home early. She had really missed Taylor. The hardest part was when she discovered that Taylor wasn’t allowed any communication from outside the rehab facility. This concerned DJ. No cell phone calls, email, or anything. It seemed weird. Although DJ was praying for her roommate, she was worried. What if it wasn’t a reputable place? What if Taylor never came back? What if something bad happened to her? Not only would DJ blame herself, she figured everyone else would too.

Finally Grandmother spoke. “Did you girls get into some kind of trouble in Las Vegas, Desiree?”

“No…”

“I want you to be honest with me. Did something happen to precipitate this?”

“The only thing that happened is that Taylor came to grips with the fact that she has a serious drinking problem. If you’ll remember, I tried to let you in on this some time ago.”

“Yes, I remember the vodka bottle. I simply assumed it was a one-time occurrence.”

“I told you otherwise.”

“Well, I know that girls will be girls, Desiree. You can’t have spent as much time as I in the fashion industry and not know this.”

“Were you ever like that?” asked DJ. “I mean that girls will be girls bit?”

Grandmother cleared her throat. “I wasn’t an angel, Desiree, if that’s what you’re hinting at. However, I did understand the need for manners and decorum. I witnessed numerous young women spinning out of control. Beautiful or not, a model won’t last long if she is unable to work.”

“Isn’t that true with everything?”

“Yes…I suppose. How long is Taylor going to be in…this rehabilitation place?”

“I don’t know. You should probably call her mom.”

“Oh, dear…that’s something else I hadn’t considered. Certainly Eva Perez won’t be blaming me for her daughter’s, well, her drinking problem.”
“Eva is fully aware that Taylor had this drinking problem long before she came to Carter House.”

“Good.” Grandmother sighed and shook her head. “I just hope her treatment won’t prevent her from participating in Fashion Week. That would be a disaster.”

“Seems like it would be a worse disaster if Taylor didn’t get the help she needs.”

“Yes, of course, that goes without saying. But I would think that a week or two should be sufficient. Goodness, just how bad can a problem get when you’re only seventeen?”

DJ shrugged, but didn’t say anything. The truth was she thought it could get pretty bad, and in Taylor’s case it was bad. And it could’ve gotten worse. To think that Taylor had been drinking daily and DJ never even knew it.

“It’s just as well you came home early, Desiree,” said Grandmother as she turned onto the parkway. “Already Casey and Rhiannon are back. And Kriti is supposed to return tomorrow. Eliza will be back on New Year’s Eve.”

“I’m surprised she didn’t want to stay in France for New Year’s.”

“As am I. If I were over there, I’d certainly have booked a room in Paris. Nothing is more spectacular than fireworks over the City of Light. But apparently Eliza has plans with her boyfriend. Imagine—giving up Paris for your boyfriend!”

Of course, DJ knew that Eliza’s life of lavish luxury didn’t mean all that much to her. Like a poor little rich girl, Eliza wanted a slice of “normal.” Well, normal with a few little extras like good shoes, designer bags, and her pretty white Porsche.

“It’s good to be home,” DJ proclaimed as her grandmother turned into the driveway.

“It’s good to hear you say that,” said Grandmother.

And it was the truth. After a week in Vegas, DJ was extremely thankful to be back. Maybe for the first time, Carter House did feel like a home. She couldn’t wait to see Casey and Rhiannon.

“Welcome back,” called Casey as she opened the door, dashed out onto the porch, and hugged DJ. “Need some help with those bags?”

“Thanks.” DJ studied Casey for a moment, trying to figure out what had changed. “Your hair!”

Casey picked up one of DJ’s bags then grinned as she gave her strawberry blond hair a shake. “Like it?”

“It’s the old you—only better.”

“My mom talked me into it. The black was a little dramatic, don’t you think?”

“I think you look fantastic. And that choppy layered cut is very cute.”

“Your grandmother approved it too. And I got highlights.”

DJ touched her own hair. “Taylor had been nagging me to get mine redone. But it was so expensive in Vegas. I figured I’d do it here.”

Casey lowered her voice. “So how’d your grandmother take the news about Taylor?”

DJ stopped at the foot of the stairs and stared at Casey. “Did Rhiannon tell you everything?”
“Yeah, is it supposed to be a big secret?” Casey made a hurt face now. “I was wondering why you told Rhiannon and not me. I thought we were friends, DJ.”

“I didn’t mean to, but I sort of spilled the beans with Rhiannon because I was so desperate and didn’t know what to do at the time. But then I felt bad. I mean it was possible that Taylor wanted to keep it private, you know?”

Casey nodded somberly. “Yeah, I guess I do know.”

“You should.” After all, it had only been a few months since they had intervened with Casey in regard to her pain pill snitching.

“So, are you saying mum’s the word?”

“Until Taylor comes back. Don’t you think it’s up to her to say something or not?”

“Yeah. I can just imagine Eliza with that tasty little morsel of gossip. It’d be all over the school in no time.”

“Speaking of Eliza, that means Kriti too.”

“Kriti just got here about an hour ago.” Casey paused, nodding toward the room that Kriti and Eliza shared. The taxi dropped her and she went straight to her room. But something seems wrong.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m not sure. She just looks different. Kind of unhappy. I mean she didn’t even say hello or anything.”

“Maybe she was missing her family.”

“Maybe, but my guess is it’s something more.”

“We should probably try harder to reach out to her and make her feel at home.”

“You’re here!” Rhiannon burst out of the room and threw her arms around DJ. “Welcome home!”

“Man, it is so good to be back. Vegas—for more than a day or two—is a nightmare.”

“At least you got a tan,” observed Rhiannon. She glanced at Casey. “Both of you, in fact.”

“It’s that California sun.”

“Don’t make me envious,” said Rhiannon.

“Hey, look at you,” said DJ as she noticed that Rhiannon had on a very cool outfit. “Is that new?”

“Old and new. My great aunt gave me some of her old clothes and I’ve been altering them.” She held out her hands and turned around to make the long circular skirt spin out. “Fun, huh?”

“And cool,” said DJ.

“She’s got all kinds of stuff,” said Casey. “Hats and costume jewelry and scarves and things. I told her she should open a retro shop and get rich.”

“Maybe I will someday.”

“Or just sell things here in Carter House,” suggested DJ. “Between Eliza and Taylor’s clothing budget, you could clean up.”

“Oh, yeah, DJ, Conner just called,” said Rhiannon. “They just got back from their ski trip and he said he tried your cell a few times, but it seemed to be turned off.”

“More like dead. My flight was so early this morning, I forgot to charge it.”

“Well, I told him you’d call.”

Casey set DJ’s bag inside her door. “Speaking of boys, I think I’ll check and see how Garrison is doing—find out if he missed me or not.” She touched her hair. “Do you think he’ll like it?”

“How could he not,” said Rhiannon. “It’s so cool.”

“Later,” called Casey as she headed for her room.

“So, how’s Taylor?” asked Rhiannon quietly.

“You didn’t tell Kriti, did you?” whispered DJ, pulling Rhiannon into her room then closing the door.

“No, why would I?”

“I just wanted to be sure. I think we need to respect Taylor’s privacy with this.”

“Absolutely. So, have you talked to her?”

“They won’t let me. They have this no communication policy. No email, cell phones…nothing. It’s like a black hole. Weird.”

Rhiannon nodded. “Yeah, it was like that with my mom at first. I think they wanted to keep her cut off from any bad connections. Then after a while, you earn communication privileges.”

“Oh, that’s a relief. I was really worried.”

“I still can hardly believe Taylor went willingly.”

“Yeah, our strong-willed wild child…putting herself into rehab.” DJ shook her head.

“That remind me, Seth has called a few times too. He wanted to know why Taylor’s cell was off and where she was.”

“What’d you say?”

“That I didn’t know.” She shrugged. “Actually, that was the truth.”

“But nothing else?”
“No.”

“Good. I mean it’s not like we need to keep it top secret, but until we hear from Taylor, let’s not talk about it.”

“Sure.” Rhiannon put a hand on DJ’s shoulder. “And don’t worry about her, DJ. She’ll be fine.”
“I know.” DJ nodded as she put her bags on her bed and started to unzip them. But as soon as Rhiannon left, DJ wasn’t so sure. What if Taylor wasn’t fine? What if something had gone wrong? And what if it was all DJ’s fault?



I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Melody Carlson and her publisher for sending me a copy of "New York Debut" to review for them. I have always been grateful for this generosity, and I am improving at being consistent in taking the time to thank these wonderfully giving individuals in a public forum. I really appreciate your time, effort and expense in making a reviewer copy available to me.

My review will follow later, as I just received the book.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stop the Traffik by Cheri Blair and Steve Chalke

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Stop the Traffik: People Shouldn't Be Bought & Sold

Lion UK (April 1, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Cherie Blair is a human rights lawyer and campaigner on women's rights and empowerment, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and author of Speaking for Myself. Steve Chalke is UN.GIFT special advisor on human trafficking, and founder of Stop the Traffik. He is the author of several books, including Change Agents, Intelligent Church, The Lost Message of Jesus, and Trust.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $16.95
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Lion UK (April 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0745953603
ISBN-13: 978-0745953601

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Wihini, aged nine, and her brother Sunni, aged seven, loved on Thane train station in Mumbai, India with their parents—both alcoholics. Wihini and Sunni went to a day centre where they learned to read and write and were given the chance to play.


One day Sunni and Wihini simply didn’t turn up. Street children often tend to disappear for days, as they try to scrape a living sweeping long-distance trains, but they had been attending the center daily for three months, so when a week or so went by the project staff became worried, and went in search of their parents. The workers found the father lying drunk on the station platform. When they roused him and asked about the children, he admitted that a man had come to him one morning offering money for them. He needed money for alcohol, so he agreed. The trafficker had taken Sunni and Wihini away for the equivalent of just 20 British pounds (currently equivalent to $30 US dollars). The father was angry because he had never received his money. Their mother wouldn’t speak about it. The children were never seen again.


What happened to Sunni and Wihini? Nobody knows. In that area of Mumbai, children often disappeared. They are kidnapped or sold into prostitution, forced labor, adoption, or even child sacrifice. The workers at the Asha Seep center had seen this before. But this was once too often.


Wihini and Sunni’s story proved to be a catalyst. The story was picked up and passed on and as evidence gathered we realized this is happening on a huge scale, around the world—and even on our own doorsteps. Not 200 years ago. Not even fifty years ago. It was—and is—happening today. And so STOP THE TRAFFIK was born.


Human Tafficking—A Definition

Human trafficking is the dislocation of someone by deception or coercion for exploitation, through forced prostitution, forced labor, or other forms of slavery.


-800,000 people are trafficked across borders each year (US State Department)

-It is estimated that two children per minute are trafficked for sexual exploitation. This amounts to an estimated 1.2 million children trafficked every year (UNICEF)

-In 2004, between 14,500 and 17,500 people were trafficked into the United States (US State Department)

-Human trafficking generates between 10 and 12 billion dollars a year (UNICEF)

-Total profit from human trafficking is second only to the trafficking of drugs (The European Police Office; Eurpol)


The numbers tell you the huge scale of this problem. But behind each number is a sea of faces. Behind the statistics are mothers and father, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, torn apart by trafficking; these are innocent lives ruined by abuse. These are human rights violations on a grotesque scale. And the problem is getting worse.



Here is my review of this eye-opening non-fiction book:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Steve Chalke and Cherie Blair and their publisher for sending me a copy of "Stop the Traffik" to review for them. I have always been grateful for this generosity, and I am improving at being consistent in taking the time to thank these wonderfully giving individuals in a public forum. I really appreciate your time, effort and expense in making a reviewer copy available to me.

“Stop the Traffik” is a gut twisting non-fiction read by Steve Chalke and Cherie Blair. You may have seen the movie “Trade”, a dramatization of the horrifyingly real global problem of human trafficking. You may wonder why you don’t hear about this issue in the news. I certainly do. It almost makes this calamity seem surreal. But the very active practice of human slavery is addressed frankly in this eye-opening book.

Written in England, not only does this non-fiction volume raise awareness of this very factual, very dynamic crisis of the sale and purchase of human beings, it shows that this is truly a global dilemma. The high point of this extremely sobering read is that there are things we can do as individuals to help and to prevent this ghastly treatment of human beings. I highly recommend this book to open your eyes and challenge each reader to be an active participant in stopping this appalling crime!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Things I Write On The Blank “Notes” Pages Of My Bible – A Finger Labyrinth

I adore labyrinths! I think they are not only beautiful, but also serve to focus me when my thoughts are scrambled through the influence of circumstances. Many people walk through labyrinths praying or meditating on scripture. It is a calming exercise.

The choice to draw one in my Bible was a no-brainer! I was reading Kristen Heitzmann’s book “The Edge of Recall,” a Christian suspense novel about a labyrinth architect while I was at a women’s retreat where there was a labyrinth (although I never saw it while I was there). When I returned home, I did some research on labyrinths and found a simple finger labyrinth that I printed and used to trace into my Notes pages. Now, whenever I want to walk a labyrinth, I open my Bible and let my fingers do the walking!

Now if I could only talk my husband into building me my own labyrinth in our backyard…

REVIEW: Ready-Made Family by Cheryl Wyatt

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Cheryl Wyatt and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Ready-Made Family" to review for them. I have always been grateful for this generosity, and I am improving at being consistent in taking the time to thank these wonderfully giving individuals in a public forum. I really appreciate your time, effort and expense in making a reviewer copy available to me.

Cheryl Wyatt’s third effort in her encouraging and inspiring Wings of Refuge Series is a wonderful romance that deals with perseverance, faith, trust, and restoration of relationship. “Ready-Made Family” follows the relationship between Ben Dillinger, another Air Force pararescue jumper on Joel Montgomery’s elite rescue team stationed in Refuge, Illinois, and Amelia North, a wounded woman with no place to go and a young daughter to care for.

It is absolutely beautiful to watch Amelia’s character blossom and bloom through this story. Her daughter, Reece, is a breath of fresh air that will make every reader grin and laugh out loud at times. Ben is a man’s man, a lauded military hero with his own issues that remind us of the character’s humanity. This story addresses family issues and interracial relationship issues and God relationship issues with heartwarming grace. It is wonderful to revisit the quaint little town of Refuge and re-engage the men and women from Cheryl’s two previous novels in this series (“A Soldier’s Promise” and “A Soldier’s Family”). And, although part of a series, this book reads easily on its own.

This is an excellent, fast-paced series of books.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Enduring Justice by Amy Wallace

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Enduring Justice (Defenders of Hope Series #3)

Multnomah Books (April 14, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Amy Wallace is the author of Ransomed Dreams and Healing Promises, a homeschool mom, and self-confessed chocoholic. She is a graduate of the Gwinnett County Citizens Police Academy and a contributing author of several books including God Answers Moms’ Prayers and Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (April 14, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601420145
ISBN-13: 978-1601420145

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The wall she’d built with years of secrecy started to crack.


Hanna Kessler wrapped trembling arms around her waist and stared through the glass door into her parents’ backyard. A place she’d avoided her whole stay. Sunlight danced in the still water of her mother’s koi pond and highlighted all the landscaping changes Dad had made since Mom’s death.


Hanna closed her eyes against warring memories of past and present. As a child, she’d loved feeding the beautiful orange fish and hearing Mom laugh as the koi swarmed to the food. Now the little pond area was the only bit of her mother remaining. Maybe that was why she’d glanced outside and then stood transfixed. She needed her mom now more than ever.


Swallowing hard, she opened her eyes and focused on Mom’s teakwood dolphin statue and the white rocks around the water, glinting in the late afternoon sun. She reached out to touch the warm glass but couldn’t force herself to open the door. Goose bumps trailed her arms and she shivered.


She couldn’t go outside.


But she had to do something. Had to get away. So she stumbled into the rustic living room, her favorite place in the house. The surrounding family snapshots reminded her of simpler times. Boating on Kentucky Lake. Thunder over Louisville. Playing at Iroquois Park. Times when Mom and Dad and her brother, Steven, had wrapped her in their protection and love.


The front door rattled, then creaked open. “Anyone home?” A man’s deep voice carried through the safe place she’d escaped to months ago. It wasn’t safe anymore.


But her frozen feet refused to move. Where could she hide? Footsteps thundered through the front hall, drawing closer. She had to get out.


Choking down the lump of panic in her throat, she ran back to the sliding glass doors and forced her feet to move outside, onto the concrete patio. She could get to her car from there. The keys! Turning back to the house, she focused on the tall form stepping out of the house and walking toward her.


“Hanna-girl, what’s gotten into you?”


Her brain snapped to attention. The man in front of her was no threat.


“Daddy!” She ran into his outstretched arms.


Andrew Kessler kissed the top of her head and chuckled. “You looked like you’d seen a ghost. Didn’t you get the message I left this morning?”


Heartbeat still pounding out of her rib cage, she inhaled a few deep breaths before answering. She hadn’t checked messages today. And no way could she admit she’d listened to most of the messages her family had left, never intending to return the calls. “I…I must have missed it. Sorry, Daddy.”


Try as she might to hide it, calling her father Daddy only happened when she was terrified. Or hiding. And she’d done a lot of hiding.


Dad stepped back and tilted his head, still holding her in his arms. “Well, I’m in Louisville for the weekend and had to see my girl. I miss you. So does everyone back in Alexandria.”


Even Michael? She wouldn’t ask. She had no right. Not after ignoring all the calls and letters he’d sent. The ones declaring his love even though she’d run away from everyone after her brother’s wedding. She couldn’t meet Dad’s eyes.


“Hanna, look at me.” He tilted her chin up. She fought to not pull away. “Steven asks about you every day. I’m surprised your brother and Clint and the rest of their FBI friends haven’t hightailed it up here to drag you home.”


“They wouldn’t.” Especially not Michael. Not after almost two months of her frosty silence.


Dad laughed again. He had no idea the pain his questions, his presence here, caused. “Steven’s planned it. So has Michael. But they’re waiting for you to come back, on your terms.” As if that would happen. “Susannah’s birthday party is a week from Saturday. Clint and the rest of us are praying you’ll come. Take pictures. Let us show you how much we love having you in Alexandria.”


A week from Saturday. The twenty-fifth of August. She wouldn’t be there. Couldn’t face Clint Rollins. Not after her negligence had nearly cost Clint’s son his life.


Tears slipped past her clenched eyes.


“Oh, honey.” Dad gathered her back into his arms. “No one blames you, Hanna. No one. You need to let the past go. Everyone is safe now. All the Rollins clan. Even Conor.”


So Sara’s baby was still alive. Just like Steven’s and Clint’s messages had said. Relief rushed through her, causing her knees to wobble. But other guilt arrows pierced her heart. All the lies she’d told Steven and Michael. Dad too. Clint’s son wasn’t the only reason she’d fled Alexandria.


“You’ll be there for Susannah’s party, right?” His hopeful blue eyes begged.


She pulled out of his arms and walked back into the house. Dad followed. “I…I need a Kleenex.” Searching through the oak cabinets in the kitchen didn’t produce any tissues. So she grabbed a paper towel from the counter. “What brings you in town? During our phone calls last week, you never mentioned coming home.”


“If I had, would you have been here?”


Ouch. “Yes, Daddy.” Another lie. “So are you here to check on the Mall St. Matthews coffee shop? I’ve been working there every day, just like you arranged. It’s going well.” And she was babbling.

“I’m here to meet with some old friends on Friday and talk about upcoming business opportunities.”

Old friends. The memories rushing in unbidden surfaced more tears. And more cracks in the wall of secrecy. She needed to get out of the house, out of the neighborhood. Now. Maybe then she could exhibit some self-control.


“Why don’t we grab a late lunch at the Cheesecake Factory? After your long drive you’re bound to be hungry, right?” She forced a smile.


“Okay, Hanna-girl.” He wiped away one of her stray tears. “On one condition.”


Please don’t ask about the party, Daddy. Please.


He lifted his bushy graying eyebrows. “Promise you’ll come back to us and take pictures at Susannah’s birthday party next week.”


The very thing she couldn’t do. How would she get out of this without telling more lies or spilling everything? She had to avoid that. Maybe one last fib would get her though the weekend with Dad.

Then she could find somewhere else to run.



Excerpted from Enduring Justice by Amy Wallace. Copyright© 2009 by Amy Nicole Wallace. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.


http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1601420145

http://www.amywallace.com/ej_chapter.html First Two Chapters of Enduring Justice

http://www.amywallace.com/Newsletter.html Dark Chocolate Suspense Newsletter

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bible Study: Revelation - What Was, What Is, What Is To Come - Chapter 17

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses you through this material.

Stacey


Take a few minutes to savor Revelation Chapter 17. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations.


17:1 — the punishment of the great prostitute — see 17:16.

Many waters — peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. See 17:15.

See Jeremiah 51:13 (AMP)

17:2 — See Jeremiah 25:15-16 (AMP)

17:3 — scarlet beast with 7 heads and 10 horns — see 12:3 and 13:1-10 - red dragon. 17:4 — dressed in purple and scarlet — royal color and color of blood.

Glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls — rich?

golden cup — see Daniel 5:3. Also gold — golden head of statue in Daniel 2 = Babylon. See Jeremiah 51:7 (AMP)

17:4 – golden cup – see Daniel 5:3. Also gold – golden head of statue in Daniel 2 = Babylon.

17:5 – That’s quite a tattoo on her forehead!

See Genesis 10:8-12 for the scriptures on the first world ruler.

17:6-7 — John was not to be astonished because that emotion is reserved for those whose names are not written in the book of life. See 17:8.

17:7 — mystery of the woman and the beast — see 17:9-18. 17:8 — See Daniel 7:3 (AMP)

17:9 — 7 hills — Rome began as a network of 7 hill settlements on the east bank of the Tiber River. Isn't it fascinating how scripture is corroborated by history?

17:12 — 10 horns — 10 toes of Daniel 2?

See Daniel 7:20-22 (AMP)

17:13-14 – see Revelation 19:11, 19. See Daniel 2:47 (AMP)

17:16 — beast and 10 horns will burn prostitute with fire. Fire — pyr — fire, flames (Strong's 4442/KWSB 4786). See Revelation 18:8.

What do you think the fire represents? Does this appear to represent judgment due to sin? Can you see the fire destroy what has been corrupted by sin?

17:17 — to accomplish his purpose — God uses evil to accomplish His purpose! Hallelujah!!!

17:18 — great city — Babylon? See 18:2. Once again, my Bible's study notes say this may be Jerusalem, Rome, Babylon or some other city that symbolizes the world opposed to God.


  • Remember that the main message of the book of Revelation is the infinite love, power and justice of the Lord Jesus Christ. How is this evident in today’s text?
  • What attributes of God do you see in this chapter?
  • What scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

REVIEW: Breakthrough: The Return of Hope to the Middle East by Tom Doyle

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Tom Doyle and his publisher for sending me a copy of "Breakthrough: The Return of Hope to the Middle East" to review for them. I have always been grateful for this generosity, and I am improving at being consistent in taking the time to thank these wonderfully giving individuals in a public forum. I really appreciate your time, effort and expense in making a reviewer copy available to me.

I’ve been reading lots of books about the middle east and by people who are from the part of the world, lately. Perhaps this is because of looming terrorist threats or the continued war in Iraq or because I am watching the birthplace of humanity for any signs that would indicate that Jesus’ second coming is right around the corner. “Breakthrough: The Return of Hope to the Middle East” by Tom Doyle is one such book that I am reading.

Doyle shares the explosion of Christianity that is taking place in the middle east, and has been for over ten years! God is moving powerfully in that part of the world and within the Muslim faith in an effort to bring all men to Him. This is an inspiring read that tells how God loves all people and wants everyone to be with Him in paradise instead of the normal fare that usually comes out of this part of the world regarding war and terrorism.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Blood of Lambs by Kamal Saleem

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


The Blood of Lambs

Howard Books (April 7, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Kamal Saleem was born under another name into a large Sunni Muslim family in Lebanon. At age seven, he was recruited by the Muslim Brotherhood and immediately entered a Palestinian Liberation Organization terror training camp in Lebanon. After being involved in terror campaigns in Israel, Europe, Afghanistan, and Africa, and finally making radical Islam converts in the United States, Saleem renounced jihad and became an American citizen. He has appeared on CNN, CBS News, and Fox News programs, and has spoken on terrorism and radical Islam at Stanford University, the University of California, the Air Force Academy, and other institutions nationwide.

Collaborator Writer, Lynn Vincent: Lynn Vincent, a U.S. Navy veteran, is features editor at WORLD Magazine, a national news biweekly. She is the author or co-author of six books, including the New York Times bestseller, Same of Kind of Different as Me.

This true story of an ex-terrorist reveals the life and mindset of radical Muslims. Now a US citizen, Kamal heralds a wake-up call to America.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $23.99
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (April 7, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416577807
ISBN-13: 978-1416577805



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Beirut, Lebanon

1963

1
It was at my mother's kitchen table, surrounded by the smells of herbed olive oils and pomegranates, that I first learned of jihad. Every day, my brothers and I gathered around the low table for madrassa, our lessons in Islam. I always tried to sit facing east, toward the window above the long marble sink where a huge tree with sweet white berries brushed against the window panes. Made of a warm, reddish wood, our table sat in the middle of the kitchen and was surrounded by tesats, small rugs that kept us off the cool tile. Mother sat at the head of the table and read to us from the Koran and also from the hadith, which records the wisdom and instruction of Allah's prophet, Muhammad.

Mother's Koran had a hard black cover etched ornately in gold and scarlet. Her grandfather had given the Book to her father, who had given it her. Even as a small boy I knew my mother and father were devout Sunni Muslims. So devout, in fact, that other Sunnis held themselves a little straighter in our family's presence. My mother never went out without her hijab, only her coffee-colored eyes peering above the cloth that shielded her face, which no man outside our family had ever seen. My father, respected in our mosque, earned an honest living as a blacksmith. He had learned the trade from my grandfather, a slim Turk who wore a red fez, walked with a limp, and cherished thick, cinnamon-laced coffee.

Each day at madrassa, Mother pulled her treasured Koran from a soft bag made of ivory cloth and when she opened it, the breath of its frail, aging pages floated down the table. Mother would read to us about the glory of Islam, about the good Muslims, and about what the Jews did to us. As a four-year-old boy, my favorite parts were the stories of war.

I vividly remember the day in madrassa when we heard the story of a merciless bandit who went about robbing caravans and killing innocent travelers. "This bandit was an evil, evil man," Mother said, spinning the tale as she sketched pictures of swords for us to color.

An evil bandit? She had my attention.

"One day, there was a great battle between the Jews and the sons of Islam," she went on. "The bandit decided to join the fight for the cause of Allah. He charged in on a great, black horse, sweeping his heavy sword left and right, cutting down the infidel warriors."

My eyes grew wider. I held my breath so as not to miss a word.

"The bandit fought bravely for Allah, killing several of the enemy until the sword of an infidel pierced the bandit's heart. He tumbled from his horse and died on the battlefield."

Disappointment deflated my chest. What good is a story like that?

I could hear children outside, shouting and playing. A breeze from the Mediterranean shimmered in the berry tree. Mother's yaknah simmered on the stove — green beans snapped fresh, cooked with olive oil, tomato, onion, and garlic. She would serve it cool that evening with pita bread, fresh mint, and cucumbers. My stomach rumbled.

"After the bandit died," Mother was saying in her storytelling voice, "his mother had a dream. In this dream, she saw her son sitting on the shore of an endless crystal river, surrounded by a multitude of women who were feeding him and tending to him."

I turned back toward Mother. Maybe this story was not so bad after all.

"The bandit's mother was an observant woman, obedient to her husband and to Allah and Muhammad," my mother said. "This woman knew her son was a robber and a murderer. 'How dare you be sitting here in paradise?' she scolded him. 'You don't belong here. You belong in hell!' But her son answered, 'I died for the glory of Allah and when I woke up, He welcomed me into jannah.' "

Paradise.

My mother swept her eyes around the kitchen table. "So you see, my sons, even the most sinful man is able to redeem himself with one drop of an infidel's blood."

The Blood of Lambs © 2009 Arise Enterprises, LLC




Here is my review of this incredible non-fiction work:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Kamal Saleem and his publisher for sending me a copy of "The Blood of Lambs" to review for them. I have always been grateful for this generosity, and I am improving at being consistent in taking the time to thank these wonderfully giving individuals in a public forum. I really appreciate your time, effort and expense in making a reviewer copy available to me.

“The Blood of Lambs” is a gut-wrenching non-fiction read by former terrorist Kamal Saleed. With the writing assistance of Lynn Vincent, the memoir of this former terrorist’s road to redemption is graphically laid out for the reader. This book offers insight into how a terrorist is created culturally and mentally. The review on the cover calls this a riveting read, and it certainly is! Saleed recounts his experiences form the tender age of FOUR YEARS OLD that led to his becoming a feared Islamic warrior. Now, his calling is to courageously defend America and awaken the people of the land he loves to awareness of the terrorist threat with which he used to be affiliated. This is an engrossing and shocking read that is bound to change the reader’s perspective on our world.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Things I Write On The Blank “Notes” Pages Of My Bible – A Method of Bible Study

If you have a documented method for studying the Bible on your own, you will be consistent in your study. Also, as long as you have your Bible, a notebook and a pen or pencil, you’ve got everything you need to have a serious one-on-One with the Lord! You don’t always have to use a study guide developed by someone else. There are several methods of personal Bible study suggested on the internet and in books and magazines if you need suggestions. Here is a basic method I use.

Approach the Word first with prayer - ask the Lord to reveal His truth to you and give you practical application for what He wants you to learn. You may want to take a few minutes to ask Him to reveal to you any sins you need to confess so that you will not encounter obstructions in your study time. I’m taking this a step further right now and asking that He will use our study time together to equip me to share the gospel with others.

Choose a passage – I’m not a big supporter of opening the Bible to random passages. I prefer to choose a book for a specific reason. I’m dealing with complaining, read Numbers. I want to persevere as I await Christ’s return, read 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Jude, etc. I have a taste for prophecy, there’s much to choose from. Sometimes I’m less ambitious, so I choose a short book like Obadiah or Jude. Or I need to be saturated in the love of Christ so I choose the gospel of John. The point is, on my own, I will study a whole book! Usually a chapter at a time, sometimes more sometimes less – it depends on how much text is included in a thought, event or concept. I just finished Jude and am starting Obadiah.

Journaling – get a notebook for your study. Jot down any questions you may have about the passage – you can use other resources to find answers, later. Write out a particularly impacting verse and what you think God is trying to tell you in the verse. Make note of how the verse applies to your current circumstances. Write out a prayer using the verse, if possible.

Memorization – memorize the verse you wrote about. Make the address (i.e. John 3:16) your computer password or screen saver banner or cell phone banner. Whenever you see it or type it, recite the verse. You’ll have it down in no time!

End in prayer – be sure to thank the Lord for what He’s taught you and ask Him to empower you to be changed because of what you’ve studied.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Unquiet Bones by Mel Starr

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


The Unquiet Bones

Monarch Books (November 4, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He graduated from Spring Arbor High School in 1960, and Greenville College (Illinois) in 1964. He received a MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970. He taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years, thirty-five of those in Portage, MI, where he retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School.

Mel married Susan Brock in 1965, and they have two daughters; Amy (Kevin) Kwilinski, of Kennesaw, GA, and Jennifer (Jeremy) Reivitt, of Portage, MI. Mel and Susan have seven grandchildren.

***No author photo available. The church pictured is The Church of St. Beornwald (part of the setting for The Unquiet Bones). Today it is basically unchanged from its medieval appearance. Except for the name: in the 16th century it was renamed and since then has been called The Church of St. Mary the Virgin.***


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Monarch Books (November 4, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825462908
ISBN-13: 978-0825462900

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Uctred thought he had discovered pig bones. He did not know or care why they were in the

cesspit at the base of Bampton Castle wall.

Then he found the skull. Uctred is a villein, bound to the land of Lord Gilbert, third Baron Talbot, lord of Bampton Castle, and had slaughtered many pigs. He knew the difference between human and pig skulls.

Lord Gilbert called for me to inspect the bones. All knew whose bones they must be. Only two men had recently gone missing in Bampton. These must be the bones of one of them.

Sir Robert Mallory had been the intended suitor of Lord Gilbert's beautious sister, Lady Joan. Shortly after Easter he and his squire called at the castle, having, it was said, business with Lord Gilbert. What business this was I know not, but suspect a dowry was part of the conversation. Two days later he and his squire rode out the castle gate to the road north toward Burford. The porter saw him go. No one saw him or his squire after. He never arrived at his father’s manor at Northleech. How he arrived, dead, unseen, back within--or nearly within--the walls of Bampton Castle no one could say. Foul play seemed likely.

I was called to the castle because of my profession; surgeon. Had I known when I chose such work that cleaning filth from bones might be part of my duties I might have continued the original calling chosen for me: clerk.

I am Hugh of Singleton, fourth and last son of a minor knight from the county of Lancashire. The manor of Little Singleton is aptly named; it is small. My father held the manor in fief from Robert de Sandford. It was a pleasant place to grow up. Flat as a table, with a wandering,

sluggish tidal stream, the Wyre, pushing through it on its journey from the hills, just visible ten miles to the east, to the sea, an equal distance to the northwest.

As youngest son, the holding would play no part in my future. My oldest brother, Roger, would receive the manor, such as it was. I remember when I was but a tiny lad overhearing him discuss with my father a choice of brides who might bring with them a dowry which would enlarge his lands. In this they were moderately successful. Maud’s dowry doubled my brother’s holdings. After three children Roger doubled the size of his bed, as well. Maud was never a frail girl. Each heir she produced added to her bulk. This seemed not to trouble Roger. Heirs are important.

Our village priest, Father Aymer, taught the manor school. When I was nine years old, the year the great death first appeared, he spoke to my father and my future was decided.

I showed a scholar’s aptitude, so it would be the university for me. At age fourteen I was sent off to Oxford to become a clerk, and, who knows, perhaps eventually a lawyer or a priest. This was poor timing, for in my second year at the university a fellow student became enraged at the watered beer he was served in a High Street tavern and with some cohorts destroyed the place. The proprietor sought assistance, and the melee became a wild brawl known ever after as the St. Scholastica Day Riot. Near a hundred scholars and townsmen died before the sheriff restored the peace. When I dared emerge from my lodgings I fled to Lancashire and did not return until Michealmas term.

I might instead have inherited Little Singleton had the Black Death been any worse.

Roger and one of his sons perished in 1349, but two days apart, in the week before St. Peter’s Day. Then, at the Feast of St. Mary my third brother died within a day of falling ill. Father Aymer said an imbalance of the four humors; air, earth, fire, and water, caused the sickness. Most priests, and indeed the laymen as well, thought this imbalance due to God’s wrath. Certainly men gave Him reason enough to be angry.

Most physicians ascribed the imbalance to the air. Father Aymer recommended burning wet wood to make smoky fires, ringing the church bell at regular intervals, and the wearing of a bag of spices around the neck to perfume the air. I was but a child, however it seemed to me even then that these precautions were not successful. Father Aymer, who did not shirk his duties as did some scoundrel priests, died a week after administering extreme unction to my brother Henry. I watched from the door, a respectful distance from my brother’s bed. I can see in my memory Father Aymer bending over my wheezing, dying brother, his spice bag swinging out from his body as he chanted the phrases of the sacrament.

So my nephew and his mother inherited little Singleton and I made my way to Oxford. I found the course of study mildly interesting. Father Aymer had taught me Latin and some Greek, so it was no struggle to advance my skills in these languages.

I completed the trivium and quadrivium in the allotted six years, but chose not to take holy orders after the award of my bachelor’s degree. I had no desire to remain a bachelor, although I had no particular lady in mind with whom I might terminate my solitary condition.

I desired to continue my studies. Perhaps, I thought, I shall study law, move to

London, and advise kings. The number of kingly advisors who ended their lives in prison or at the block should have dissuaded me of this conceit. But the young are seldom deterred from following foolish ideas.

You see how little I esteemed life as a vicar in some lonely village, or even the life of a rector with livings to support me. This is not because I did not wish to serve God. My desire in that regard, I think, was greater than many who took a vocation; serving the church while they served themselves.

In 1361, while I completed a Master of Arts degree, plague struck again. Oxford, as before, was hard hit. The colleges were much reduced. I lost many friends, but once again God chose to spare me. I have prayed many times since that I might live so as to make Him pleased that He did so.

I lived in a room on St. Michael’s Street, with three other students. One fled the town at the first hint the disease had returned. Two others perished. I could do nothing to help them, but tried to make them comfortable. No; when a man is covered from neck to groin in bursting pustules he cannot be made comfortable. I brought water to them, and put cool cloths on their fevered foreheads, and waited with them for death.

William of Garstang had been a friend since he enrolled in Balliol College five years earlier. We came from villages but ten miles apart -- although his was much larger; it held a weekly market -- but we did not meet until we became students together. An hour before he died William beckoned me to approach his bed. I dared not remain close, but heard his rasping whisper as he willed to me his possessions. Among his meager goods were three books.

God works in mysterious ways. Between terms, in August of 1361, He chose to do three things which would forever alter my life. First, I read one of William’s books: SURGERY, by Henry de Mondeville, and learned of the amazing intricacies of the human body. I read all day, and late into the night, until my supply of candles was gone. When I finished, I read the book again, and bought more candles.

Secondly, I fell in love. I did not know her name, or her home. But one glance told me she was a lady of rank and beyond my station. The heart, however, does not deal in social convention.

I had laid down de Mondeville’s book long enough to seek a meal. I saw her as I left the inn. She rode a gray palfrey with easy grace. A man I assumed to be her husband escorted her. Another woman, also quite handsome, rode with them, but I noticed little about her. A half-dozen grooms rode behind this trio: their tunics of blue and black might have identified the lady’s family, but I paid little attention to them, either.

Had I rank enough to someday receive a bishopric I might choose a mistress and disregard vows of chastity. Many who choose a vocation do. Secular priests in lower orders must be more circumspect, but even many of these keep women. This is not usually held against them, so long as they are loyal to the woman who lives with them and bears their children. But I found the thought of violating a vow as repugnant as a solitary life, wedded only to the church. And the Church is already the bride of Christ and needs no other spouse.

She wore a deep red cotehardie -- the vision on the gray mare. Because it was warm she needed no cloak or mantle. She wore a simple white hood, turned back, so that

chestnut-colored hair visibly framed a flawless face. Beautiful women had smitten me before. It was a regular occurrence. But not like this. Of course, that’s what I said the last time, also.

I followed the trio and their grooms at a discreet distance, hoping they might halt before some house. I was disappointed. The party rode on to Oxpens Road, crossed the Castle Mill Stream, and disappeared to the west as I stood watching, quite lost, from the bridge. Why should I have been lovelorn over a lady who seemed to be another man’s wife? Who can know? I cannot. It seems foolish when I look back to the day. It did not seem so at the time.

I put the lady out of my mind. No; I lie. A beautiful woman is as impossible to put out of mind as a corn on one’s toe. And just as disquieting. I did try, however.

I returned to de Mondeville’s book and completed a third journey through its pages. I was confused, but t’was not de Mondeville’s writing which caused my perplexity. The profession I thought lay before me no longer appealed. Providing advice to princes seemed unattractive. Healing men’s broken and damaged bodies now occupied near all my waking thoughts.

I feared a leap into the unknown. Oxford was full to bursting with scholars and lawyers and clerks. No surprises awaited one who chose to join them. And the town was home also to many physicians, who thought themselves far above the barbers who usually performed the stitching of wounds and phlebotomies when such services were needed. Even a physician’s work, with salves and potions, was familiar. But the pages of de Mondeville’s book told me how little I knew of surgery, and how much I must learn should I chose such a vocation. I needed advice.

There is, I think, no wiser man in Oxford than Master John Wyclif. There are men who hold different opinions, of course. Often these are scholars Master John has bested in disputation. Tact is not one among his many virtues, but care for his students is. I sought him out for advice and found him in his chamber at Balliol College, bent over a book. I was loath to disturb him, but he received me warmly when he saw t’was me who rapped upon his door.

“Hugh . . . come in. You look well. Come and sit.”

He motioned to a bench, and resumed his own seat as I perched on the offered bench. The scholar peered silently at me, awaiting announcement of the reason for my visit.

“I seek advice,” I began. “I had it in mind to study law, as many here do, but a new career entices me.”

“Law is safe . . . for most,” Wyclif remarked. “What is this new path which interests you?”

“Surgery. I have a book which tells of old and new knowledge in the treatment of injuries and disease.”

“And from this book alone you would venture on a new vocation?”

“You think it unwise?”

“Not at all. So long as men do injury to themselves or others, surgeons will be needed.”

“Then I should always be employed.”

“Aye,” Wyclif grimaced. “But why seek my counsel? I know little of such matters.”

“I do not seek you for your surgical knowledge, but for aid in thinking through my decision.”

“Have you sought the advice of any other?”

“Nay.”

“Then there is your first mistake.”

“Who else must I seek? Do you know of a man who can advise about a life as a surgeon?”

“Indeed. He can advise on any career. I consulted Him when I decided to seek a degree in theology.”

I fell silent, for I knew of no man so capable as Master John asserted, able to advise in both theology and surgery. Perhaps the fellow did not live in Oxford. Wyclif saw my consternation.

“Do you seek God’s will and direction?”

“Ah . . . I understand. Have I prayed about this matter, you ask? Aye, I have, but God is silent.”

“So you seek me as second best.”

“But . . . t’was you just said our Lord could advise on any career.”

“I jest. Of course I, like any man, am second to our Lord Christ . . . or perhaps third, or fourth.”

“So you will not guide my decision?”

“Did I say that? Why do you wish to become a surgeon? Do you enjoy blood and wounds and hurts?”

“No. I worry that I may not have the stomach for it.”

“Then why?”

“I find the study of man and his hurts and their cures fascinating. And I . . . I wish to help others.”

“You could do so as a priest.”

“Aye. But I lack the boldness to deal with another man’s eternal soul.”

“You would risk a man’s body, but not his soul?”

“The body cannot last long, regardless of what a surgeon or physician may do, but a man’s soul may rise to heaven or be doomed to hell . . . forever.”

“And a priest may influence the direction, for good or ill,” Wyclif completed my thought.

“Just so. The responsibility is too great for me.”

“Would that all priests thought as you,” Wyclif muttered. “But lopping off an arm destroyed in battle would not trouble you?”

“T’is but flesh, not an everlasting soul.”

“You speak true, Hugh. And there is much merit in helping ease men’s lives. Our Lord Christ worked many miracles, did he not, to grant men relief from their afflictions. Should you do the same you would be following in his path.”

“I had not considered that,” I admitted.

“Then consider it now. And should you become a surgeon keep our Lord as your model and your work will prosper.”

And so God’s third wonder; a profession. I would go to Paris to study. My income from the manor at Little Singleton was L6, 15 shillings each year, to be awarded so long as I was a student, and to terminate after eight years.

My purse would permit one year in Paris. I know what you are thinking. But I did not spend my resources on riotous living. Paris is an expensive city. I learned much there. I watched, and then participated in dissections. I learned phlebotomy, suturing, cautery, the removal of arrows, the setting of broken bones, and the treatment of scrofulous sores. I learned how to extract a tooth and remove a tumor. I learned trepanning to relieve a headache, and how to lance a fistula. I learned which herbs might staunch bleeding, or dull pain, or cleanse a wound. I spent both time and money as wisely as I knew how, learning the skills which I hoped would one day earn me a living.



Here is my review of this wonderful medieval suspense novel:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Melvin Starr and his publisher for sending me a copy of "Unquiet Bones" to review for them. I have always been grateful for this generosity, and I am improving at being consistent in taking the time to thank these wonderfully giving individuals in a public forum. I really appreciate your time, effort and expense in making a reviewer copy available to me.

I was intrigued by the prospect of reading a medieval mystery. “The Unquiet Bones” by Melvin R. Starr is the incredibly suspenseful beginning to what promises to be an outstanding series of medieval crime stories following the main character, Hugh de Singleton, a newly educated surgeon and sleuth. This is a wonderfully intelligent mystery read where English lords and ladies meet crime scene investigation! There’s been a multiple murder, and the bones have been found at Bampton Castle. When a series of events leads Hugh de Singleton to treat the lord of the castle, he is in a prime position to investigate and solve the mystery.

The author’s education is history and medieval surgery is very evident throughout this intellectually crafted novel that is bound to draw the reader to a new level of thought.

April CSFF Tour: George Bryan Polivka, Blaggard’s Moon














Here is my review of this wonderful high seas adventure:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to George Bryan Polivka and his publisher for sending me a copy of "Blaggard's Moon" to review for them. I have always been grateful for this generosity, but haven’t been very consistent in taking the time to thank them in a public forum. I really appreciate your time, effort and expense in making a reviewer copy available to me.


George Polivka’s “Blaggard’s Moon” is a truly wonderful book. The author of “The Legend of the Firefish” does not disappoint in this tale of incredible fantasy novel of piracy, intrigue and adventure on the high seas! This novel is the perfect place to start reading as it is the prequel to the Trophy Case Trilogy which consists of “The Legend Of The Firefish”, “The Hand That Bears The Sword”, and “The Battle For Vast Dominion”. This is a wonderful novel about choices and consequences seasoned with the salty sea air. “Blaggard’s Moon” has it all – romance, war, swashes and buckles. This is masterfully written Christian science fiction, a genre that is very new to me, but becoming dearer with every novel I read. The author’s language takes the reader to new levels, proving that intellectuals really do read and write quality fantasy.



Please visit these other Blog Tour Participant websites:



Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Alex Field
Marcus Goodyear
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Magma
Margaret
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespack
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

Friday, April 17, 2009

Getting Comfy: Ice Breakers #9 - Prayer Tree

Arbor Day is April 24th, 2009. In honor of the celebration, here is a related Ice Breaker for your small group.

This idea requires quite a bit of preparation, but can be modified to put together quickly.

Set up an artificial tree at your group meeting. Place a leaf on each branch of the tree that contains the name (and perhaps a photo and/or prayer request) of one of the ladies in your group. Before leaving the meeting, each woman takes a leaf from the tree and prays for that woman during the week. At the next meeting, enjoy a time of fellowship where everyone can share who they were praying for and how God has moved in their lives.

Bible Study: Revelation - What Was, What Is, What Is To Come - Chapter 16

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses you through this material.

Stacey


Take a few minutes to savor Revelation Chapter 16. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations.


16:1 — See Psalms 69:24; Isaiah 66:6 (AMP) — ???; the sound of the Lord repaying His enemies is heard from the temple.

16:2-9 — compare 1St 4 bowls to 1St 4 trumpets in 8:7-12. More intense pain and destruction, now.

16:2 — 1st bowl — ugly and painful sores — compare to 6th Egyptian plague (Exodus 9:9-11) and Job 2:7-8, 13.

See Exodus 9:10-11; Deuteronomy 28:35 (AMP)

16:3 — 2nd bowl — blood like a dead man — thick, viscous, yuck! Jesus' blood is life. This blood is death!

16:4 — 3rd bowl — springs and rivers become blood. See Exodus 7:17-21 (AMP)

16:6 — See Psalms 79:3 (AMP)

16:7 — is this the moment the martyrs beneath the altar have been waiting for? See 6:9-11 and 10:6. No. The altar itself is responding! The Int'l Bible Commentary says this may be because the altar witnessed the martyrs' prayer in 6:10.

See Psalms 119:137 (AMP)

16:8 — 4th bowl — sun empowered to scorch people with fire. Fire — pyr — fire, flames (Strong's 4442/KWSB 4786). See Revelation 14:18.

What do you think the fire represents? Does this appear to represent judgment due to sin? Can you see the fire destroy what has been corrupted by sin?

16:9 — these people do not repent. They are not given the chance to do so because this is God's judgment being poured out. They have missed all of the opportunities that God has given them and they continue to curse Him. WOW! That is supreme arrogance!!! Sounds like Lucifer, doesn't it?

16:10 — 5th bowl — poured over the throne of the beast. His kingdom is plunged into darkness. See Exodus 10:21 (AMP)

16:12-13 — 6th bowl — Euphrates dries up to prepare the way for the kings from the east. Three evil spirits resembling frogs came out of the mouths of the dragon, beast and false prophet.

16:12 — The Euphrates River was a natural protective boundary against the eastern empires. If it dried up, nothing could hold back invading armies.

See Isaiah 11:15-16 (AMP)

16:13 — The imagery of the demons coming out of the mouths of the three evil rulers probably signifies the verbal enticements and propaganda that will draw many people to their evil cause.

See Exodus 8:3; 1 Kings 22:21-23 (AMP) 16:16 — See 2 Kings 9:27 (AMP)

16:17-18 — this was even greater than the quake that tore the curtain of the temple after Jesus said "it is finished". See John 19:30.

16:17 — 7th bowl — poured out into the air. Loud voice from throne says, "It is done." Can you see the parallel of Jesus' final words from the cross, "it is finished"?

See Isaiah 66:6 (AMP) — the sound of the Lord repaying His enemies is heard from the temple.
16:18 — "no earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on the earth" — this will be an incredible earthquake!

See Exodus 19:16; Daniel 12:1 (AMP)

16:19 — what is "the great city"? Babylon the great? Remember my Bible's study notes from 11:8 says that it may be Jerusalem, Rome, Babylon or some other city that is symbolic of the world opposed to God.

16:21 — huge hailstones — WOW! 100 pound hailstones are huge! See Exodus 9:23 (AMP)


  • Remember that the main message of the book of Revelation is the infinite love, power and justice of the Lord Jesus Christ. How is this evident in today’s text?
  • What attributes of God do you see in this chapter?
  • What scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

REVIEW: Against All Odds by Irene Hannon

Here is my review of this wonderful Christian Romantic Suspense novel:

“Against All Odds” by Irene Hannon is an incredible read. This masterpiece of Christian fiction employs intrigue, romance, suspense, politics, communication and basic Christianity with finesse and skill. The meticulously laid out terrorist-political plot of this intricate tale of suspense grabs the reader’s attention and holds it hostage while the beautifully developed romance between protector and charge blossoms. And the reverse is also true. The romance fan hangs on every word of this unfolding political drama.

Hannon has a smooth writing style that is both intelligent and emotional. Her talent for bringing the reader through the various sub-plots of this story of the protection of a dignitary’s daughter from a terrorist threat appeals to the romance reader, the suspense booklover, and the political thriller fan. I will absolutely read this novel again…and again…

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What To Do On the Worst Day of Your Life by Brian Zahnd

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


What To Do On the Worst Day of Your Life

Christian Life (March 3, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Brian Zahnd is the founder and senior pastor of Word of Life Church, a congregation in St. Joseph, Missouri. He and his wife, Peri, have three sons.


Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Christian Life (March 3, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599797267
ISBN-13: 978-1599797267

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Weep

As David stood among the smoldering ruins of what had been his home, he wept. As he faced the awful fact that the Amalekites had in one day reduced him to financial ruin, he wept. As he contemplated the terrifying reality that cruel and murderous bandits had kidnapped his family, he wept. All he could do was cry. Hot tears flowed down his face, and heavy sobs made his body convulse. The only outlet David could find for the fear and the anger and the pain that seized his soul was weeping.

David was not alone in his weeping. Six hundred men, all of them strong and valiant soldiers, men who had faced death many times without a hint of fear, now wept openly and uncontrollably. Many of these men were the champions whose heroic deeds would become legendary in Israel. These weren't weak men. These weren't men prone to emotional histrionics. But they couldn't hold back the hot, salty tears, nor did they want to. The biblical narration tells us they wept until they had no more power to weep. Powerful men wept until weeping had drained their power. They cried and cried until they were too tired to cry anymore.

What do you do when trouble hits you so hard that it knocks the wind out of you and makes you feel that it must be the worst day of your life? The first thing you do is to go ahead and weep. Stoicism has nothing to do with faith. Living by faith is not living without feelings. Being strong in faith does not make us immune to emotion. Those who live by faith experience emotion like everybody else--they just don't allow emotion to have the last word. God has created us as emotional beings; it is part of our human nature. Emotions are an essential part of experiencing pleasure and joy in life. Those who deny their emotional makeup become people with bland personalities incapable of really enjoying life. To deny true sorrow is also to deny true joy. Having a flat, prosaic personality is not what it means to be a person of faith.

You cannot even worship God without involving your emotions. David, who is depicted in Scripture as a great worshiper of God, was highly demonstrative in his worship. He would sing, shout, and dance in his praise of God. We can involve the full range of our emotions when we worship God. The emotion that proceeds from a deep understanding of God's glory and goodness is filled with spiritual substance and is both vital and valid in worship. It should not be confused with empty emotionalism, which is emotion for emotion's sake.

If you can contemplate the rich salvation accomplished for you through the suffering of Jesus Christ upon the cross and be completely devoid of any emotional response, there is something wrong. God has made us to feel things. We feel joy, we feel peace, we feel excitement, we feel anger, and we feel sadness--this is how God created human beings. To deny these emotions is to deny your humanity. When the troubles of life strike us with particularly cruel blows, it's natural and perfectly acceptable--and perhaps even helpful--to respond with weeping. Weeping is not inconsistent with faith. Some of the greatest giants of faith in the Bible wept:

Abraham, the father of faith, wept at the death of his wife Sarah.

When Jacob met his future bride Rachel, he was so overwhelmed that he wept.

When Joseph was reunited with his estranged brothers, he wept.

Hezekiah wept when he received the bad report that he would die from his illlness.

Nehemiah wept over the sad state of Jerusalem.

Job wept in the midst of his trial.

The prophet Jeremiah wept over the sins of Israel.

Peter wept over his failure and betrayal of Christ.

Paul wept in the middle of his trials.

John wept during his heavenly visions.

Even Jesus wept!

The weeping of Jesus is a powerful testimony to the fullness of His humanity. There is much sorrow in this fallen world, and men and women have many reasons to weep.

One of our most beloved Christmas carols is Away in a Manger. Recently, while splitting wood on a subzero day during the Christmas season, I found myself humming the melody as the words circled through my mind:

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,

The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.

The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,

The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the Baby awakes,

But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes . . . 1

I stopped right there. Baby Jesus doesn't cry? Of course He does. Like every baby, Jesus cried at birth. Like every baby, Jesus cried when He was hungry. Like every child, Jesus cried when He was hurt or unhappy. The baby Jesus who doesn't cry is the halo Jesus--the Jesus depicted so often in religious art. The problem with the halo Jesus is that He is not human. A baby who doesn't cry is not human. A person who doesn't cry is lacking in humanity. Jesus cried. He cried as a baby, as a child, and as a man. He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. Jesus cried. He shed the tears of God.

God in Christ shed tears? This is an astounding acknowledgment. But nothing that is common to man was kept from God in Christ. Not birth, nor death; not trial, nor temptation; not sorrow, nor suffering. And not tears.

Some theologians have argued for the doctrine of divine impassibility. This doctrine, which states that God is without passion or emotion, was first developed by early theologians who were heavily influenced by Greek philosophers. It was later adopted by some of the Reformation theologians. Well, I have a bone to pick with these theologians. They have woefully underestimated the Incarnation. Christ is not God masquerading as human. The Incarnation is God made fully human--and tears are part of the human condition. Thus, in Christ we find not divine impassibility but divine suffering. We find the tears of God. These tears are integral to our salvation. For, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer observed, Only the suffering God can help. It's interesting to note that as a direct result of the Holocaust, most theologians now reject divine impassibility. Apparently, the notion that God adopts a passive attitude toward human suffering is no longer tenable in light of the horrendous suffering of the Holocaust.

It's not the Stoic Greek philosophers who reflect the heart of God, but the weeping Hebrew prophets--not Zeno the Stoic philosopher, but Jeremiah the weeping prophet. The prophets wept because God weeps. Jesus wept because God weeps. The Word became flesh that God might join us in our tears.

Joy Comes in the Morning

Yet, the tears of God are not tears of mere commiseration. These are holy tears that lead to our liberation--liberation from the dominion of sorrow. God in Christ did not join us in sorrow merely as an experiment in empathy. He joined us in sorrow that He might lead us to the joy that comes in the morning. Jesus has entered fully into the new morning of resurrection. The rest of creation groans, eagerly awaiting the promised liberation.

In the meantime, we who suffer are comforted with the knowledge that we are not alone in our suffering. Jesus joined us in our suffering and shed the tears of God. It is in those tears that we will ultimately find joy unspeakable and full of glory.

In the first Advent two thousand years ago, God in Christ joined us in our tears. The Son of God was born in tears, like every baby that has ever been born. In His second Advent, or Second Coming, God in Christ will join us again, this time to wipe away all of our tears!

In the course of my life and ministry, I've had my own nights of weeping. When I was just a young twenty-two-year-old pastor, I wept as a disgruntled man in the church stood in a service and shouted, Ichabod, Ichabod, the glory is departed, and then led half the congregation to leave the church. Later, there were times when the pressure and stress became so severe that I was reduced to tears during a very difficult multimillion-dollar building project. I wept when I stood in a hospital room with grieving parents as their teenage son was pronounced dead. There have been times of tears still too personal to talk about. I can say with the apostle Paul that I have served the Lord with many tears.

The Bible says there is a time to weep,14 and that cannot be denied. It would be an added cruelty to deny yourself or others tears in times of tragedy or deep personal pain.

But there is also a time to dry your tears and stop weeping. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

There is a night of weeping, but there is also a dawn of faith. When the morning comes, it is time to stop weeping and start rejoicing in God. If you continue to weep . . . if you continue to hold on to your grief and sorrow, it will turn into self-pity, which can destroy your faith and prevent you from coming out of your pain and into a place of victory.

It's important to realize there is a perverse weeping that is founded in self-pity and sinful unbelief. Such weeping arouses the anger of God. When the wilderness generation of Israelites were filled with cravings for the meat, fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic they used to eat as slaves in Egypt and complained and wept because all they had to eat in the wilderness was the manna God supernaturally supplied to them, Òthe anger of the Lord was greatly aroused

Sinful unbelief led the wilderness generation of Israelites to weep in fear and self-pity. This kind of weeping aroused the anger of God. You will never move out of a place of personal misery into a better and healthier place if you become locked into perpetual self-pity--it's one of the most destructive emotional states a human being can indulge in, and it must be resisted. Even when you have encountered the worst day of your life, there comes a time when you have cried enough. Eventually you must tell yourself, Enough is enough, and make up your mind to cry no more. Never forget that self-pity is deadly. It has the capacity to destroy your faith and lock you in a self-imposed exile that is difficult to escape. The bottom line is you will never change your life by feeling sorry for yourself.

Listen for the Sound of Marching

There is an interesting story in 2 Samuel 5 about the time when David and his army were in the Valley of Rephaim (rephaim means giants). They were camped under a grove of mulberry trees. In the Hebrew language, the mulberry tree is called the baka tree or, literally, Òthe weeping tree. In other words, when the army of Israel was in the valley of giant trouble, they sat under the weeping trees. That is what we often do when we find ourselves in the valley of big-time trouble--we sit under the weeping tree. But God gave David a strategy to defeat the Philistines in the Valley of Giants. He told David, ÒWhen you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall advance quickly. If David would follow these instructions, the promise was, Òthe Lord will go out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines.

I like that! God instructed David to listen for a sound that could be heard above the mulberry trees--a sound that could be heard above the weeping. It was the sound of marching. What was it? I think it must have been the sound of the angels, the armies of heaven, going forth into battle! When all you can hear is the sound of your own weeping, listen with your spiritual ears for the sound of the angels of God marching into your battle to defeat your adversaries. If you will dry your tears and rise up from under your weeping tree, you can march forward into the battle with the angels. There is a way to move from weeping into victory.

I have seen people who have allowed their grief to conquer them. It's sad and tragic. Their faith atrophies as they languish under the weeping trees. They become so absorbed in their own sorrow that they take it on as their new identity. Instead of passing through the valley of weeping--they make a decision to take up residence there. Natural sorrow, when indulged for too long, will cause you to develop a dark and morose personality that will attract demon spirits of depression. No matter what tragedy has visited your life, you still have a divine destiny and an eternal purpose in God that have the potential to bring you joy and satisfaction. Don't allow grief to conquer you! You don't have to stay in the sad place where you find yourself right now. It is possible to rise up and take the steps of faith that will carry you toward a better tomorrow.

The Book of 2 Kings tells an amazing story of four lepers outside the gate of Samaria who had suffered more than their share of hard times. They all had an incurable disease. They were separated from their families and friends, and now they were besieged by famine. They could have easily allowed themselves to be conquered by their grief, and few would have blamed them. But instead, they asked themselves one simple question: Why sit we here until we die?

These four men weren't just lepers; they were philosophers of a sort. In their miserable plight, they posed a philosophical question to themselves: Why should we just sit here until we're dead? People who have been overwhelmed with sorrow often ask all the wrong questions--questions like: Why me? What did I do to deserve this? How much more will I have to endure? But this was not the question that the four lepers outside the gate of Samaria asked. They simply asked themselves, ÒWhy sit we here until we die? Of course, this is a rhetorical question designed to reveal the absurdity of inaction and thus spur them to some kind of positive action. They chose to shake off their depression and to rise up from the miserable place where they had been sitting. With hope renewed, they took faltering steps of faith and marched into a better tomorrow. By rising up and moving forward in faith, they not only found a better tomorrow for themselves, but they also brought salvation to a dying city.19 You can do the same thing. You can rise up out of your miserable situation and begin to move toward a better tomorrow.

On the worst day of your life you will weep. This is inevitable and understandable. David did, and you will too. It's all right to release the poison of pent-up emotional pain through weeping. But remember, although weeping may last for a night, there will come a dawn of faith when you need to stop weeping and start believing. To turn your tragedy into triumph, you will have to go beyond weeping.





Here is my review of this inspirational non-fiction read:




First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Brian Zahnd and his publisher for sending me a copy of "What To Do On The Worst Day Of Your Life" to review for them. I have always been grateful for this generosity, but haven’t been very consistent in taking the time to thank them in a public forum. I really appreciate your time, effort and expense in making a reviewer copy available to me.



Before I review, I'd like to comment that I don't think the title has anything to do with the fact that income taxes must be postmarked by midnight tonight!

I must offer the highest praise for the non-fiction title “What To Do on the Worst Day Of Your Life” by Brian Zahnd. This little book that derived from a sermon delivered by the author is a remarkable Biblical account from the life of David, who became king of Israel that perfectly illustrates the response of a godly man to tragic circumstances, offering us modern-day believers a positive example to follow.

The scene is set in Ziklag. David and his army return home to find their wives and children kidnapped and their homes ransacked. If you came home from a business trip to find everything you loved in the world gone or destroyed, what would you do? This book points you to the Word of God to instruct you in what you SHOULD do.