Saturday, October 31, 2009

Today's Daily Devotional


Give thanks to the God of gods. Give thanks to the Lord of lords. Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:2-3, 26


06/01/09 The Hebrew word for God in this verse is “elohiym”. It is the plural term used to describe God. So, this verse specifically identifies the entire Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Are you thankful for all three? I am. I am also thankful for the plan that the Trinity came up with from the beginning – plans to prosper me and not harm me; plans to restore all people to fellowship with Him (Them); plans to show His (Their) love for us by being born as a human with the purpose of dying on the cross to become the atoning sacrifice for my sin and your sin; plans to weave the Bible together so that we might know Him (Them) and His (Their) plan and His (Their) love for us. Those are lots of plans all rolled into one big plan for mankind. I suppose that’s how the Trinity works as well – lots of God rolled into One!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bible Study: For Such A Time As Now - Esther - Chapter 10


10:1 And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea.
isles
i.e. coasts. (Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition))

10:2 – Chronicles, &c. - These are lost long since, and buried in oblivion, while the sacred writings remain throughout the world. When the kingdoms of men, monarchs and their monarchies are destroyed, and their memorial is perished with them, the kingdom of God among men, and the records of that kingdom, shall remain as the days of heaven. (John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible)

So, what are you supposed to be accomplishing for God in your present circumstances? Sometimes it's difficult to look objectively upon your own situation. Even if you believe you've got a good handle on what God is trying to do with you, I suggest that you ask a trusted Christian friend what they've observed. Not only is it a way to share with others what you've seen the Lord doing in your life, it's also a way of encouraging others to do the same and involving them in an active spiritual process.

Today's Daily Devotional


“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27


05/15/09 Several times previously, I’ve mentioned that peace is moving and active, not reticent and certainly not quiet. But WHAT is peace? It is security, safety, and prosperity. And it is so much more. It is salvation – the very thing that leads to security, safety and prosperity. It is the assurance of salvation through Christ. That certainly describes peace! And I think it reveals one of the most powerful weapons in the devil’s arsenal: most people who don’t place their faith in Jesus don’t believe they are bound for eternal torment. I didn’t know. I thought that, because I was a good person I would go to heaven. I didn’t fear God. And I definitely didn’t have the assurance of salvation that leads to peace! Now that I know Jesus, I know better and have such an awesome respect for the Lord. He gave me His peace.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

REVIEW: Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus

“Stand-In Groom” by Kaye Dacus is the first novel in her series located in Bonneterre, LA. Although I’ve read these books out of order (I reviewed the 2nd novel in this series “Menu For Romance” earlier this year), these books can easily be read and enjoyed independently of the other novels. In fact, knowing what I know about book 2 actually made me enjoy this novel more, I think.

Anne, the wedding planner, is the focal point of this beautifully written romance. Even though I already knew the outcome of this book from reading its successor, I was gripped in the first chapter, sympathizing with Anne as she’s stood up on a blind date. I was immediately drawn into the intrigue of the story by an insatiable need to know what was going to happen next. That pace was consistent throughout this wonderful novel.

A case of misleading identity is at the crux of the conflict of this book. George is pretending to be the groom of a wedding that Anne is planning. He is under contract not to disclose his true identity to anyone – including Anne (even though he is falling head over heels in love with her) – or he will be fired and deported back to England. Anne can’t believe she can’t get her mind off of the groom of this wedding she’s planning! She can’t be falling for him! How unprofessional is that?!?! Will the truth set them free to fall in love? Or will the threat of deportation keep them from building a relationship, pulling them apart for good?

Today's Daily Devotional


“Everything is possible for him who believes.” Mark 9:23


05/14/09 Can you even imagine everything being possible? If you are a believer, everything is possible! This means that, through Christ, you are able to do mighty and powerful things. As a child of God, you are capable of excelling in something. I can attest that, during my ten years working as a computer support professional I learned, God is more adept at repairing PCs than I am. Sure, I had developed really good customer service skills, and I could figure out software issues with the most competant programmers, but technical hardware problems were not my specialty by any means. I would be sitting at someone’s computer attempting to fix an issue and an idea would pop into my head that wouldn’t naturally occur to me. That was God!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

REVIEW: Why Did God Give Us Emotions by Reneau Peurifoy, M.A.

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


“Why Did God Give Us Emotions” by Reneau Peurifoy, M.A. is an engrossing read. Many people are of the mindset that emotions are a display of weakness and irrationality. So, I was completely fascinated by how much the Bible actually addresses emotion. It makes complete sense since God created us and we are emotional beings.

This book contains questions for reflection and group discussion as well as suggestions to help you find a good church and develop a regular prayer life. There is plenty of opportunity for self-evaluation throughout the book. I’m sure that I will refer to this resource often.

Today's Daily Devotional


Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord comforts His people. Isaiah 49:13

05/11/09 A day is coming – perhaps it has already come – when the heavens will shout! First, there will be a trumpet blast announcing Christ’s return. Later on, (and I can guarantee that if you’re reading this, it hasn’t happened yet) the heavenly host will return with Jesus to wage war against the devil and his minions. I can only imagine what that will sound like - the sky filled with the army of God, waiting – perhaps impatiently, marching sounds – maybe wings flapping in unison, banging sword on shield (will we have battle gear?), singing praises as cadence. WOW!!! That will be one noisy sky. And I really look forward to being a part of that crowd!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

REVIEW: Love Finds You in Last Chance, CA by Miralee Ferrell

Miralee Ferrell’s “Love Finds You in Last Chance, CA” is an entertaining romance wrapped in a mystery with strong characters, a delightfully wide-open setting, and solid Christian values. Alexis Travers has just inherited the ranch she worked with her father. His heart attack couldn’t have come at a worse time. Neither could the news that he just mortgaged the ranch at the bank, or that the money he got for the loan is missing, or that someone else picked up the gold samples he had appraised along with the report on the content. And not even the trusted ranch foreman, Uncle Joe, knows where Alex’s father found the gold on the property.

Justin is a father with a young son, traveling to Last Chance to repay the debt of his father to a friend. The telegram said that there were mysterious happenings and that they may be in danger. So Justin packed up and headed toward the Travers ranch. Sworn to secrecy about his true mission, Justin manages to get hired on at the ranch as a wrangler. And the situation turns out to be a blessed answer to prayer. Last Chance and the Travers ranch could really be the home that Justin and Toby are looking for. And, even though Justin has sworn off of love due to a bad experience, he can’t help his growing feelings for Alex.

This heartwarming novel is my favorite of Miralee’s books! She is a talented storyteller, weaving action, romance, drama and faith into a story that entertains, encourages and inspires.

Today's Daily Devotional


Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10


05/08/09 The condition of our hearts is of supreme importance to God. When we pray to ask Jesus to come into our hearts and save our souls, we are doing more than just asking Him to prepare a place for us in heaven. We are entering into a formal binding agreement with Him. It is called a covenant relationship. We enter into this covenant with Him through the broken body of His Son, Jesus, and it is not something to be taken lightly. We make Jesus the Lord of our life, and He gives us eternal life, a new heart and His Holy Spirit to live inside of us. And we bear some responsibility in caring for that heart. We must expose it to the Bible and to prayer to nourish it with His Word, keeping it morally, ethically and spiritually pure and clean. Then that heart will grow to look more like the heart of Christ and we will grow in Christian character. Praise the Lord.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Today's Daily Devotional


May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. 2 Thessalonians 3:16


05/05/09 The Lord of peace can give us peace because peace belongs to Him. He has the power to decide whether or not to give peace. He is the Lord of peace. That is what it means to be the Lord of a thing…or a person. It means that person or thing belongs to Him. It means that He has power over it. It means that He is Master and Commander and Leader and Provider and Protector and Shelter, etc. Is He your Lord? Do you belong to Him? Does He have power over you? Is He your Master? I pray so. If not, but you’d like Him to be, pray right now. Use your own words or mine: Jesus, I want You to be Lord of my life. I want to belong to You. I thank You for dying for me on the cross. And I invite You to come live in my heart and change my life. Amen.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Today's Daily Devotional


“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

04/17/09 The King of the Universe invites us to approach Him! Is that awesome or what!?!? I am reminded of the book of Esther in the Old Testament where the king could have you put to death if you approached without being invited – even if you were the queen! In fact, Queen Esther did just that. She approached with king without being summoned and he had to extend his scepter to her to indicate that the guards who were ready with swords should stand down. But our King has issued an invitation to us to approach His throne. And when we do approach, we don’t go alone as Esther did. We are accompanied by Jesus Christ, Himself! The Son of God escorts us to the Father and literally ushers us into His presence. WOW! I’ve got goosebumps. How about you?

REVIEW: The One Year Bible, NLT Version, and God Sightings

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to the publisher for sending me a copy of "The One Year Bible - God Sightings" to review for them. I have always been grateful for this generosity, and I am trying to improve 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 One Year Bible is a long-time friend of mine. I’ve read through the NIV (New International Version) Translation several times. I’ve recently begun enjoying the NLT (New Living Translation) Version of scripture, and was excited at the opportunity to read this version in this format. But what makes this set of books really special is the focus on “God Sightings”. This Bible and its companion journal book lead the reader to a deeper relationship with Jesus because they work together to help the reader see Christ’s activity in their lives on a routine basis.

This is a simple, yet very meaningful exercise that will become the most rewarding few minutes you will spend with the Lord each day. Not only will it get you into the habit of reading the Bible every day, it will also get you watching for the activity of God in your life.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Loner No More?

I don’t trust people. At least not anymore. Not for several years. I grew up with a very naïve and trusting nature and I got burned. A lot. People I trusted to protect me became the source of betrayal. People I thought were my friends let go of me way too easily when I really needed them to hang on to me. People I gave my heart to beat that heart until it was numb and couldn’t feel anymore.

I’ve prayed that God would fix this part of me. That He would bring true friends into my life. That He would teach my loved ones to take care of my heart. For years I’ve prayed for this, but the friends still disappointed. The loved ones continued to take me for granted. Pastors cared for me as long as I was volunteering and taking some of the load off of them.

Then, a brand new verse appeared in my Bible. Don’t you love when that happens? John 2:24 was part of my BSF homework a couple of weeks ago. I read it again today for another study – a study I’ve done previously, so I know I’ve read this verse before. Many times, in fact. But today, God used this verse to answer my prayer request from Sunday School last week. That request was that I would find my value in God alone, not looking to other people to make me feel good about myself.

This verse talks about how Jesus knew the hearts of men, so He didn’t entrust Himself to them. Jesus entrusts Himself to me every time He reveals something about Himself, allowing me to know Him better. Even though I behave toward Jesus like one of my old friends who let go of me when I needed them, He still lets me come close. Today, He told me why. Because He loves me – enough to die for me, in fact – and because I come back to Him with the intent of drawing close to Him.

He reminded me that only one disciple stayed by Him while the rest scattered in the chaos of His arrest. He reminded me that all of the disciples but one was restored into fellowship with Him. After all they did to Him, He still entrusted Himself to them. The power of His Holy Spirit lives in me, and scripture says that I can do all things through Christ, so I can entrust myself to others. And I do as I reveal something about myself to someone.

My prayer request in Sunday School this week will be discernment for who to entrust myself to and the ability to forgive and restore fellowship with those who continue to disappoint. The Lord has taught me that friends and loved ones can be selfish – just like I can – and that can lead to betrayal and letting go and disappointment. He has reminded me that He allows me to draw close to Him after I betray and let go and disappoint. He commands me to go and do likewise. It’ll be tough – impossible without Him – but how can I do anything less for others after all He‘s done for me?

Soften my heart, Lord Jesus, and help me to trust those you’ve placed in my path because I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and leaning on You as I do, if I hadn’t known these disappointments and had these experiences.

Today's Daily Devotional


“I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11


04/17/09 God knows… I am comforted by that thought. Nothing takes Him by surprise. Like a parent guiding a child, the Lord holds His hand out to us so that He may keep us safe by keeping us close to Him. If we are obedient and take His hand, we will stop when He stops and move when He moves. We will change direction as we respond to His lead. But if we are rebellious and run ahead of God, we may run right into trouble that we cannot see because we aren’t big enough to have that “bird’s eye view”. But God is that big, and bigger! He knows… And since He knows, since He is big enough to see the clear paths and the trouble, the safest place for you and me to be is right by His side, holding tightly to His hand, letting Him guide our steps.

Double Cross by James David Jordan

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:


Double Cross

B&H Books (October 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



James David Jordan is a business attorney in Texas and was named by the Dallas Business Journal as one of the most influential leaders in that legal community. He holds a journalism degree from the University
of Missouri as well as a law degree and MBA from the University of Illinois and lives with his wife and two children in the Dallas suburbs.

Visit the author's

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (October 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805447547
ISBN-13: 978-0805447545

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The day my mother came back into my life began with a low December fog and a suicide. Mom was not responsible for the fog.


I hadn’t seen her for twenty years, and the idea that she might show up at my door was the farthest thing from my mind on a Thursday morning, a few weeks before Christmas, when the music alarm practically blasted me off my bed. With the Foo Fighters wailing in my ear, I burrowed into my pillow and tried to wrap it around my head. I rolled onto my side and slapped the snooze bar, but smacked the plastic so hard that it snapped in two, locking in another minute and a half of throbbing base before I could yank the cord from the wall socket. It wasn’t until my toes touched the hardwood floor and curled up against the cold that I remembered why I was waking up at five-forty-five in the first place. Kacey Mason and I were meeting Elise Hovden at eight o’clock in a suburb northwest of Dallas. We would give her one chance to explain why

nearly half a million dollars was missing from Simon Mason World Ministries. If she couldn’t, our next stop would be the Dallas police.


Since Simon Mason’s murder earlier that year, I’d been living in his house with Kacey, his twenty-year-old daughter. I had promised to watch out for her if anything happened to him. It wasn’t a sacrifice. By that time Kacey and I were already so close that we finished each other’s sentences. I needed her as much as she needed me.


I slid my feet into my slippers and padded down the hall toward Kacey’s door. Chill bumps spread down my thighs in a wave, and I wished I’d worn my flannel pajama bottoms to bed under my Texas Rangers baseball jersey. Rather than turning back to my room to grab my robe, I decided to gut it out. I bent over and gave my legs a rub, but I knew they wouldn’t be warm again until I was standing next to the space heater in the bathroom.


I pressed my ear to Kacey’s door. The shower was humming. Of course she was awake. Had there ever been a more responsible college kid? Sometimes I wished she would let things go,

do something wild. For her, that would probably mean not flossing before going to bed. If hyper-responsibility got her through the day, I supposed it was fine with me. After all, she was a markedly better person than I had been at her age.


By the time I met her father I was twenty-nine, and thanks to a decade of too much alcohol and too many useless men, I was dropping like a rock. But Simon Mason caught me and held me

in place for a while, just long enough to give me hope. Then he did what he had to do, and he died for it. Some things are more important than living. He and Dad both taught me that. So now I was changing. To be accurate, I would say I was a work in progress. I hadn’t had a drink since before Simon died, and I’d sworn off men completely, albeit temporarily. Frankly, the latter was not much of a sacrifice. It wasn’t as if a crowd of guys had been beating a path to my door. I simply figured there was no use getting back into men until I was confident the drinking was under control. One thing I had demonstrated repeatedly in my life was that drinking and men just didn’t go together—at least not for me.


As for Kacey, after everything she’d been through, it was amazing she hadn’t folded herself into a fetal ball and quit the world for a while. Instead, she just kept plugging along, putting one foot in front of the other. I was content to step gingerly behind her, my toes sinking into her footprints. She was a good person to follow. She had something I’d never been known for: Kacey had character.


I shook my head. I was not going to start the day by kicking myself. I’d done enough of that. Besides, I no longer thought I had to be perfect. If a good man like Simon Mason could mess

things up and find a way to go on, then so could I. Even in his world—a much more spiritual one than mine—perfection was not required. He made a point of teaching me that.


I closed my eyes and pictured Simon: his shiny bald head, his leanly muscled chest, his brilliant, warming smile. As I thought of that smile, I smiled, too, but it didn’t last long. Within seconds the muscles tightened in my neck. I massaged my temples and tried to clear my thoughts. Soon, though, I was pressing my fingers so hard into my scalp that pain radiated from behind my eyes.


If only he had listened. But he couldn’t. He wanted to die. No matter how much he denied it, we both knew it was true. After what he had done, he couldn’t live with himself. So he found the only available escape hatch. He went to preach in a place where his death was nearly certain.


I lowered my hands and clenched them, then caught myself and relaxed. This was no good. It was too late. Not this morning, Taylor. You’re not going to think about Simon today. I took a deep breath and ran my fingers back through my hair, straightening the auburn waves for an instant before they sprang stubbornly back into place. Today’s worries are enough for today. That was the mantra of the alcohol recovery program at Simon’s church. It was from the Bible, but I couldn’t say where. To be honest, I didn’t pay attention as closely as I should. Regardless of origin, it was a philosophy that had worked for my drinking—at least so far. Maybe it had broader application: Focus on the task at hand and let yesterday and tomorrow take care of themselves.


At the moment, the first priority was to get the coffee going. I started down the hall.


When I turned the corner into the kitchen, I could see that Kacey had already been there. The coffee maker light was on, illuminating a wedge of countertop next to the refrigerator. In the red glow of the tiny bulb, the machine chugged and puffed like a miniature locomotive. Two stainless steel decanters with screw-on plastic lids waited next to the ceramic coffee jar, and

the smell of strong, black coffee drifted across the room. I closed my eyes, inhaled, and pictured the cheese Danish we would pick up at the corner bakery on our way out of our neighborhood. That was plenty of incentive to get moving. I headed back down the hall.


When I reached the bathroom I flipped on the light, closed the door, and hit the switch on the floor heater. I positioned it so it blew directly on my legs. Within a minute the chill bumps were retreating. I braced my hands on the edge of the sink, leaned forward, and squinted into the mirror. Glaring back at me was a message I had written in red lipstick the night before: Start the coffee!


I wiped the words off with a hand towel and peered into the mirror again. A tangled strand of hair dangled in front of one eye. I pushed it away, blinked hard, and studied my face. No lines, no bags, no creases—no runs, no hits, no errors, as Dad used to say. I was beginning to believe the whole clean living thing. Zero liquor and a good night’s sleep worked like a tonic for the skin.


It was tough to stay on the wagon after Simon’s death. I had never been an every-day drinker. My problem was binge drinking. With all that had happened during the past six months, the temptations had been frequent and strong, but I was gradually getting used to life on the dry side of a bourbon bottle. There was much to be said for routine. Maybe that’s why dogs are so happy when they’re on a schedule. When everything happens the same way and at the same time each day, there’s not much room for angst.


On second thought, the dog analogy didn’t thrill me. I pulled the Rangers jersey over my head, tossed it on the floor, and turned to look in the full-length mirror on the back of the bathroom door. Standing in nothing but my bikini panties, I rocked onto the toes of one foot, then the other. My long legs were still lean and athletic. Fitness was something Dad had always emphasized—fitness and self-defense. There were times when I had hated him for it, but now I was glad for the benefits. It would be years before I had to worry about really showing age. I might have lived harder than most twenty-nine year olds, but I could still turn heads in a crowded room. No, the dog analogy was not appropriate. I had plenty of issues, but I was no dog. At least not yet.


I turned on the water and cupped my hands beneath the faucet. It was time to wake up and plan what we would say to Elise. After splashing my face and patting it with a towel, I turned around, leaned back against the countertop, and crossed my arms. I caught a whiff of the lavender cologne I’d taken to spraying on my wrists before bed. The Internet said it would soothe me into peaceful slumber. For fifty dollars an ounce, it should have brought me warm milk and rocked me to sleep. I tried to recall how I’d slept the past few nights, then caught myself. I was just looking for ways to waste time. I needed to focus. The issue at hand was Elise.


Simon informed me about the missing money just before he left for Beirut. His former accountant, Brandon, had confronted him about it, thinking that Simon had been skimming. Simon wanted someone to know that he hadn’t done it, someone who could tell Kacey that her dad was not a thief. That’s why he told me. In case he didn’t come back. And as the whole world knew, he didn’t come back.


Elise was the obvious person for the board of directors to choose to wind up the business of Simon’s ministry. She had been his top assistant for years. When I told Kacey about the missing money, though, she bypassed Elise and went directly to the board to demand an audit—impressive gumption for a twenty year old. It didn’t take the auditors long to confirm that Simon had nothing to do with the missing money.


The accountants concluded that the board had assigned the cat to clean the birdcage. Elise had set up dummy vendor accounts at banks around the country in a classic embezzlement scam. Simon’s ministries had major construction projects going, and Elise issued bogus contractor invoices to Simon

Mason World Ministries from fake businesses with P.O. box addresses that she controlled. When the ministry mailed the payments, she picked up the checks from the post office boxes and deposited them in the bank accounts. Who knows where the money went from there?


The ministry had grown so quickly during the years before Simon’s death—and Simon was so trusting—that controls were lax. When the invoices came in, the payables department

paid them without question. By now the money was probably stuffed under a mattress in some tropical paradise. That was another thing I intended to pursue with Elise. She had developed a great tan.


Before I stepped into the shower, I wrapped myself in a towel and went back into the bedroom. I pulled my Sig Sauer .357 out of my purse and checked the magazine. It was full. I slipped the pistol into the inside pocket of my purse. Elise didn’t strike me as the type to get violent, but people did weird things when backed into a corner. If I’d learned anything during my time in the Secret Service, it was to hope for the best—and prepare for the worst.



I would have loved to review this book, but I never received it.

The Jewel of His Heart by Maggie Brendan

Breakthrough Author Captures Romance and Rugged Adventure
Big Sky Country holds two treasures: rare jewels and Juliana's love.
Which will he choose?


Romance readers have taken to the soft, romantic style of Maggie Brendan in her runaway-hit debut novel No Place for a Lady. Now, the second book in the series releases with great anticipation, taking readers back to the Big Sky Country of the American frontier—and the life and love that awaits.

The second book in the Heart of the West series, The Jewel of His Heart is set in 1890s Montana. It is here that Juliana calls home when she meets Josh McBride, a handsome, gentle sheepherder. When he discovers a rare kind of sapphire on his property and considers striking out on his own path in the world, he is forced to decide what’s most important to him: the world’s riches or the eternal value of love in a woman whose eyes rival the rarest of gems.

For fans of Lori Wick and Kim Vogel Sawyer, Maggie Brendan’s beautifully woven story captures the rugged, adventurous life on the American frontier—and the quest for love by the pioneers who live there.


About the Author

Maggie Brendan is a member of American Christian Writers and the American Fiction Writers Association. She is the author of No Place for a Lady and lives in Georgia.


Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life. They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.
For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.


Here is my review of this terrific work of Historical fiction:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Maggie Brendan and Revell Books for sending me a copy of "The Jewel Of His Heart" to review for them. I have always been grateful for this generosity, and I am trying to improve 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 Jewel of His Heart” by Maggie Brendan is an enjoyable read about a sheepherder who happens to find a few rare sapphires on his land, the young lady who captures his heart and the decisions he must make about the two. Julianna swears that she will never marry a miner, so Josh must choose: the lady he loves and a hard life as a lowly sheepherder or making a possible fortune in mining for these rare gemstones.

Throw in a couple of unfit suitors competing for Julianna’s affections and an unscrupulous rich girl who may manipulate Josh after a tragic fire, and you have quite an enticing story. At times, the characters seem a bit wooden, but the story moves the reader right along and overall, this is a completely pleasurable and entertaining reading experience. The thread of faith that Brendan has woven throughout the tale offers several subtle reminders in Whom to put your trust. I will definitely be looking for Maggie Brendan’s novels on the bookstore shelf.


“Available October 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Friday, October 23, 2009

Today's Daily Devotional


I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands. Psalm 63:4


04/10/09 The author of this Psalm, David, had many experiences that could have kept him from praising God. Yet, he declares in this verse that he would praise God for as long as he lived! After being anointed as Israel’s next king, he may have been impatient to begin that calling upon his life. But he waited for God’s timing to make him king rather than sinning against God by taking the life of Saul, God’s anointed. He didn’t allow adultery to come between him and the Lord. He accepted God’s forgiveness for his murder of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, to hide his own sin. He grieved, but acknowledged God’s will when the Lord took the life of his and Bathsheba’s son. A thoroughly dysfunctional family sat around the king’s table. Do you commit to praising the Lord everyday even though your life is no more a bed of roses than David’s was? Do it, now. Praise Him!

Bible Study: For Such A Time As Now - Esther - Chapter 9


9:2 – No man - Their enemies, though they did take up arms against them, yet were easily conquered and destroyed by them. (John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible)

9:6 – Shushan – In the city so called. Slew – Whom they knew to be such as would watch all opportunities to destroy them; which also they might possibly now attempt to do. (John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible)

9:9 – they did not lay their hands on the plunder – see 1 Samuel 15:2-3.

9:10 – But, &c. – Because they would leave it to their children, that it might appear what they did was not done out of malice, or covetousness, but out of mere necessity, and by that great law of self - preservation. (John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible)

9:12 - What - In which doubtless many more were slain. So that I have fully granted thy petition. And yet, if thou hast any thing farther to ask, I am ready to grant it. (John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible)

9:13 - Let it, &c. - To kill their implacable enemies. For it is not improbable that the greatest and worst of them had hidden themselves for that day; after which, the commission granted to the Jews being expired, they confidently returned to their homes. Hanged - They were slain before; now let their bodies be hanged on their father's gallows, for their greater infamy, and the terror of all others who shall presume to abuse the king in like manner, or to persuade him to execute such cruelties upon his subjects. (John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible)

9:15 - they did not lay their hands on the plunder – see 1 Samuel 15:2-3.

9:16 - they did not lay their hands on the plunder – see 1 Samuel 15:2-3.

9:19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another.
month Adar
i.e. March; Esther 9:15,17. (Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition))

9:26 - Pur - This Persian word signifies a lot, because Haman had by lot determined this time to be the time of the Jews destruction. (John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible)

9:27 - As joined - Gentile Proselytes; who were obliged to submit to other of the Jewish laws, and therefore to this also; the rather because they enjoyed the benefit of this day's deliverance; without which the Jewish nation and religion had been in a great measure, if not wholly, extinct. According - According to that writing which was drawn up by Mordecai, and afterwards confirmed by the consent of the Jews. (John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible)

9:29 - Wrote - The former letter, ver. 20, did only recommend but this enjoins the observation of this solemnity: because this was not only Mordecai's act, but the act of all the Jews, binding themselves and posterity. (John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible)

9:30 - Peace – With peace, friendship and kindness to his brethren, and truth, sincerity. (John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible)

9:31 - Cry - For those great calamities which were decreed to all the Jews, and for the removing of which, not only Esther, and the Jews in Shushan, but all other Jews in all places, did doubtless fly to God by fasting, and strong cries. (John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible)

9:32 - Either - Who had received authority from the king. The book - In the records which the Jews kept of their most memorable passages. (John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Today's Daily Devotional


He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:8


02/27/09 The first Bible study I ever wrote was called “Living the Blameless Life: A Study of Psalm 15”. Blamelessness seems to be an impossible goal, but it’s really not. Perfection, on the other hand, is for Christ alone. But blamelessness… Think about the word “blameless” for a moment. What does it mean? “Innocent”, ”without guilt”, “clean” are all terms that are interchangeable according to my word processing software. That status is achievable. It is certainly not easy, though. When we permit God to teach us through His Word, but don’t allow that teaching to change us, we are not blameless. We must rely on God to change us daily into the likeness of His Son. Then, we must allow Him to do just that! We have to let the Lord mold our character and guide our behavior.

The Year of Living Like Jesus by Ed Dobson



Here's my review of this thought-provoking book:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Ed Dobson and his publisher for sending me a copy of "Te Year of Living Like Jesus..." to review for them. I have always been grateful for this generosity, and I am trying to improve 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 copy of “The Year of Living Like Jesus: My Journey of Discovering What Jesus Would Really Do” by Ed Dobson arrived late. Fortunately, I was able to read the first couple of chapters through the Zondervan Breakfast Club email that I get during the week, and I was able to get a really good taste for where this terrific non-fiction book was heading. Written in diary format, the author shares what he learned during his year of living like Jesus. From lessons in behavior, how to eat, loving others, and Biblical versus man-made practices, to humorous stories of Mr. Dobson’s experiences, the reader is submerged in this eye-opening and incredibly challenging lifestyle change.

Not only do I now understand Exodus 23:19, which instructs the reader not to cook a young goat in its mother’s milk, but also the symbolism behind this kosher dietary law! Oy! I LOVED the excerpt that I read of this book, and cannot wait to read the rest of it! A mixture of Bible study, lessons for life and culture shock, “The Year of Living Like Jesus…” is one terrific non-fiction read.



Click here to learn more about Ed Dobson.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Today's Daily Devotional


Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty heavens. Praise Him for His acts of power; praise Him for His surpassing greatness. Psalm 150:1-2


04/07/09 Do you ever find it difficult to praise God? I know I used to. But it has become a more natural response for me to fall on my knees and praise Him. How did it become a natural response? Because of God’s comfort and peace I’ve experienced through tragic circumstances. In 2005, my Father-in-law passed away in August, my Mother-in-law passed away in November and my Grandfather passed away in December. Those four months seemed to gut my family. But, at least for me, God used that time to show me that He was in control. That He never intended for my in-laws to divorce. He freed my Grandmother from caring for my Grandfather just in time to care for my Aunt who had a stroke a few months after his passing. I can see the truth in Romans 8:28. Sometimes, I still stutter before I praise. It’s okay to grieve. But my Gracious Heavenly Father always restores me to an attitude of praise. Thank you, Papa.

Emmy's Equal by Marcia Gruver

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:


Emmy’s Equal

Barbour Books (October 9, 2009)

***Special thanks to Angie Brillhart of Barbour Publishing for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Marcia Gruver lives with her husband in Huffman, Texas, and has published various articles, poems, and devotionals. Her novel, Love Never Fails (renamed Chasing Charity), won third place in the 2007 American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Genesis Contest. Marcia is a member of ACFW, Fellowship of Christian Writers (FCW), and The Writers View.

Visit the author's website.


Product Details:

List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (October 9, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602602077
ISBN-13: 978-1602602076

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Humble, Texas, August, 1906


The stagnant well appeared bottomless, as dank and murky as a grave. Emmy rested her arms on the cold, jagged stones and leaned to peer into the abyss. Mama’s embroidered lace hankie, shimmering in the meager light, hung from an outcropping of rock about four feet down. Narrowing her eyes, she peered at the spot of white that stood out from the surrounding darkness and heaved a sigh, stirring the fetid air below and raising a noxious odor that took her breath.

She pushed up her sleeves and blasted a droopy blonde ringlet from her eyes with a frustrated puff of air. There was no help for it—at the risk of certain death, she had to retrieve that handkerchief.

A figure loomed, drawing alongside her with a grunt.

She jumped, and her heart shot past her throat. Chest pounding, she wasted a glare on the dark profile, noticing for the first time a scatter of lines around his eyes and tiny gray curlicues in his sideburns.

“Nash! I nearly leapt over the side.” She swatted his arm. “I’ve asked you to stop sneaking up on me. I’ve a good mind to fit you with a cowbell.”

A chuckle rumbled from his chest, as deep as the chasm. “I didn’t go to scare you, Miss Emmy.” He bent his lanky body so far she feared he’d tumble headfirst into the never-ending shaft. “Say, what we looking for inside this hole?”

“We’re not looking for anything. I’ve already found it.” Emmy clutched his shirtsleeve and pulled him away. “Go fetch me a lantern, and be quick about it.” She tucked her chin in the direction of the palomino pony languishing under a nearby oak, nibbling at the circle of high grass around the trunk. “Take Trouble. He’ll be quicker than walking.”

Nash frowned and rubbed the knuckles of one hand along his temple, as if an ache had sprung up there. “What you need a lantern for, with the sun up and shining the past five hours? There’s plenty of light to see.”

She braced herself and pointed. “Not down there.”

Nash’s sleepy eyes flew open. His startled gaze bounced along her finger to the circular wall of weathered stones. “Down there?” He took a cautious step back. “What’s in this sour old pit that might concern you?”

Emmy swallowed hard. She could trust Nash with anything but dreaded his reaction all the same. “It’s. . .one of mama’s hankies.” She squeezed her eyes shut and ducked her head.

His shoulders eased, and he ambled over to gaze inside. “Is that all?”

If only it were. Emmy risked a peek at him. “You don’t understand.”

He winced as if she’d spoken a bad omen. “Uh, uh. Not from her good batch? Them she’s always cackling about?”

Emmy cringed and nodded.

The delicate, lacy linens held an uncommon depth of meaning for Emmy’s mama. Hand embroidered in Germany by her grandmother then brought to the Americas and placed in Mama’s hope chest, they represented heart, hearth, and homeland to Magdalena Dane. In equal measure, they represented distress, discontent, and discord to her only daughter, because the bothersome bits of cloth seemed determined to cause Emmy grief.

Nash’s stunned expression hardened into an accusing glare. “Why, Miss Emmy? Why you done brought about such misery? You ain’t s’posed to touch ’em, and you know it.” His graying brows fluttered up and down, like two moths bent on escape. “There’s scarce few left, and your mama blames you for them what’s missing.”

She moaned and flapped her hands. “I didn’t mean to take the silly thing. It was warm when I rode out this morning. I knew I’d likely sweat, so I snagged a hankie from the clothesline. I never looked at it until a few minutes ago. That’s how this terrible mishap came about. I held it up as I rode, staring in disbelief. Trouble was galloping across the yard when the wind caught it and. . .” She motioned behind her. “The willful rag drifted down the well before I could stop the horse and chase after it.”

Emmy lowered her eyes then peered up at him through her lashes. “None of this is my fault, Nash. Papa should’ve covered this smelly cistern months ago, and those wretched handkerchiefs have a mind of their own.”

The hint of a smile played around Nash’s lips. “If so, they harbor a mighty poor opinion of you.”

She wrinkled her nose at him.

Wagging his head, he rested the back of his hand on his side. “In all my years of working for your family, of all the fits I’ve seen your mama pitch, the worst have been over the loss of them fancy scraps of cloth.” He shuddered. “Miss Emmy, I’d be mighty grateful if you’d wait and break the news to her after I leave for the day. She gon’ be powerful upset.”

Emmy held up and wiggled a finger. “On the contrary. I won’t be upsetting Mama.”

“How you figure that?”

“Because there’s no need to tell her.”

Nash propped his elbow in one hand and rubbed his chin with the other. “Missy, I thought you was done telling lies and scheming. Don’t forget you’re a saint of God now.”

A saint of God. Yes, she was, through no fault of her own. Like Elijah’s fiery chariot, God had swirled into Emmy’s life in a weak moment and delivered her from herself. Not that she minded His day-to-day presence. In fact, she rather enjoyed the peace He brought. It was during times of temptation when she found the constant stirring in her heart to do the right thing a bit of a bother. Yet no wonder, really. In the past, she’d had precious little practice in doing the right thing.

She blinked up at Nash. “I have no plans to lie, and I won’t need to scheme. We’re simply going to return great-grandmother’s hankie to Mama’s clothesline, washed, rinsed, and fresh as a newborn calf.”

Nash stared then shook his head. “No ma’am. You jus’ forget about what we gon’ do. Question is how are you gon’ pull it off?”

“I’ll show you.” She shooed him with her hands. “Run fetch that lantern like I asked and leave the rest to me.”

Still shaking his head, Nash mounted Trouble and laid in his heels. The horse bolted the short distance across the yard to the well-kept shed tucked behind Emmy’s two-story house. With a furtive glance toward the porch, Nash eased the door open and slipped inside.

While she waited, Emmy watched a rowdy band of crows swarm Nash’s cornfield. The black bandits bickered and pecked for position before settling in for a meal, oblivious to the mop-headed stick Nash had dressed in a ragged shirt and floppy hat and then shoved in the ground. She dared not call his attention to the culprits or he’d bluster after them, shouting and waving his arms like a demented windmill, leaving her to cope alone with her pressing dilemma.

She jerked her gaze from the birds when Nash rode up and slid off Trouble to the ground, a lighted lantern in his hand.

Handing over the light with a flourish, he lowered one brow and pinned her with a squinty look. “Here’s what you asked for. Jus’ be sure to leave me plumb out of the story when you go explaining yourself to your mama.”

He turned to go, but Emmy caught hold of his shirttail. “Not so fast. I’m not done with you.”

Nash covered his ears and reeled away. “Don’t tell me no mo’. I ain’t seen nothing, and I ain’t heard nothing. If anybody needs me, I’ll be feeding the chickens.”

Emmy aimed a haughty laugh at his back. “It’s too late for that. You’re in up to your hat, and it’s no less punishment than you deserve for sneaking about all the time.”

Nash dug in his heels and stood facing the grove of loblolly pine at the edge of the yard, his body stiff as a post.

Repentant, she softened her voice to a plea. “I’m sorry, Nash. I had no call to utter such a thing. It’s just. . .I can’t do this without you.”

Arms dangling at his sides, he tipped his head toward the sky and whispered something, a prayer no doubt, before turning to face her. “What you want me to do?”

She peppered him with grateful kisses then grabbed his hand. “Come over here.” Hauling him to the gaping cavity, she lowered the lamp. “See? There it is.”

They gazed at the only bright spot in the oppressive gloom, their ability to see inside the shaft made no better by the frail circle of yellow light.

Nash shrugged and drew back from the side. “Too far down. May as well wave it goodbye then go fess up to what you done.”

Emmy gripped his arm. “Nonsense. We can get it out of there.”

“How, short of fishing it out with a cane pole? And I got no hooks.” He scratched his head. “I reckon I could take my hammer and pound a bend in a nail.”

She shook her head. “Too risky. If the hankie slips off it’ll settle to the bottom, and that’ll be the end of it.” She drew a determined breath. “I have a better idea.”

Nash’s eyebrows rose on his forehead, reaching new heights, even for him. “What sort of idea? Harebrained or foolhardy? Them’s the only two kinds you have.”

She swallowed hard and fingered the wooden bucket sitting on the wall. “I’m going to straddle this, and you’ll lower me down to fetch it.”

The shaggy brows bested their last mark. “You cain’t mean it, Miss Emmy.”

“I do so.”

“Then your idea is both harebrained and foolhardy. You must be plain tetched up under them pretty white locks. S’pose that rope snaps in two?”

“Oh, pooh.” She patted the heavy hemp coiled around the crank. “This rope is thick and sound.” She pointed over her shoulder at the horse. “You could lower Trouble down that well.”

He nodded. “Yes’m. That’s exactly what I’d be doing.” He jerked off his weathered hat and dashed it against his leg. “Don’t ask me to put you in that kind of danger. No, missy. I won’t do it. Not for nothing in this wide world.”

Touched, Emmy smiled at the man who’d been like a father to her over the years, far more of a parent than her own papa, who didn’t stay home often enough to have much practice at the role. She took Nash’s hand and squeezed it. “I won’t be in any danger. As long as you’re holding the handle, I know I’ll be safe.” She peered up into his sulky brown eyes. “You know if you don’t help me I’ll just find a way to do it myself. I have to get that hankie.”

He gaped at her. “The silly thing ain’t worth dying for, is it? Your mama has fussed at you before, and you lived to tell the tale. Why is this time so all-fired special?”

She squared around to face him. “I can’t have her angry about anything just now. I’m planning to ask permission to go to St. Louis when Mama travels with Aunt Bertha to South Texas. It’ll be hard enough to convince her as it is. If she gets in a snit, my plan is doomed.”

“Why they going off so far?”

“It’s Aunt Bertha’s idea. Now that she has money, she’s determined to go into the cattle business. She’s bent on learning all she can. Papa knows a very successful rancher down south who’s willing to teach her everything he knows.”

“Cain’t you jus’ stay home?”

“They’ll be gone for a month or better. Mama refuses to leave me here alone for that long, and I’d much prefer going to see Charity.”

Nash smiled and nodded. “ ’Specially with her jus’ done birthing the little one.”

Emmy beamed. “Exactly. I can help Charity bring him home.”

A thrill coursed through her at the thought of seeing Charity and Buddy’s new baby boy. Emmy and Charity were as close as twin sisters, best friends like their mamas had always been. Emmy’s mama and Aunt Bertha had grown up together in Jefferson before moving to Humble.

Last year, a handsome young oilman came to town and found oil on Aunt Bertha’s land. Charity wound up married to him and soon left for St. Louis to meet his parents. When Buddy found out she was expecting, he kept her in the city so she’d be close to good medical care.

Not a day had passed that Emmy didn’t think of Charity and long to see her. She was coming home next month, bringing little Thad to meet the family.

Nash narrowed his eyes. “You ain’t jus’ trying to sneak off to St. Louis to see that oilman friend of Mistah Buddy’s, are you? Don’t think I didn’t see you making eyes at him the whole time that preacher was trying to marry off Miss Charity.”

Emmy whirled. “Who? Mr. Ritter?” She dismissed the thought with a wave of her hand. “Jerry Ritter was just a passing fancy.”

Nash raised a cynical brow.

“Oh, pooh, Nash! You stop that!” She fiddled the row of tiny buttons on her sleeve. “Besides. . .Aunt Bertha claims Mr. Ritter was recently betrothed to a childhood sweetheart.” She flicked off an insect from the cuff of her blouse and dashed away her humiliation with the same resolve. “Therefore, my desire to be in St. Louis has nothing to do with him. I just need to see Charity. If I get into any more trouble, Mama’s bound to haul me with them to that dreadful desert town instead. If she does, I’ll just dry up along with it and perish. I mean it!”

Grinding the toe of his oversized boot in the dirt, Nash sighed and shifted his weight. “I don’t know, Miss Emmy. . .”

Emmy stifled a grin. She had him. “I’ll be just fine. I promise. Now help me climb up.”

Still mumbling his objections, he offered an elbow to Emmy so she could pull up and sit on the uneven stones. Unfastening the buttoned flap on her split skirt, she swung her legs over and settled on the side, trying hard not to look past her boots. “Turn your head while I sit astride the pail. It won’t look so dainty in this outfit.”

Nash gazed toward the field, obviously too distracted to notice the raiding crows.

Still clinging to his arm, Emmy held her breath and pulled the dangling rope closer, guiding it between her legs. “All right, I’m ready. Lean your weight into the handle. I’m about to push off.”

Nash shifted his gaze to the sky. “Oh, sweet Jesus. Please protect this chil’.”

Holding her breath, she scooted from the edge, squealing when her body spun and dipped about a foot. “Nash! Have you got it?”

“I’ve got it. Stop squirming now. You heavier than you look.”

Emmy forced herself to still, more afraid than she’d expected to be. She felt more than saw the yawning gulf, a great gaping mouth poised to swallow her whole. “Hand me the lantern and then you can lower me. But go slowly, for heaven’s sake.”

She breathed a prayer as she spiraled past the opening and descended. Glancing up, she bit her lip and watched the rope unwind from the wobbly reel, outlined by a circle of light. Misguided but determined white roots that had pushed through cracks in the mortar groped at her, snagging her hem and sleeves. Crisscrossed nets of taught, silky threads offered whispers of resistance before giving way and sticking to the exposed parts of her legs. Emmy held the soft glow of the lamp closer to the side, shuddering when eight-legged bodies skittered in every direction. She gritted her teeth, suppressing a shriek and the urge to order Nash to haul her out of the wide-awake nightmare.

You can do this. Just a little more and you’ll be there. Three more turns and you’ll have Mama’s hankie in your hands. This will all be worth it then.

Exhaling her relief, she drew even with the jutting rock that had caught the precious heirloom. Holding the lantern out of the way, she swayed her body until the motion brought her closer to the wall.

She snatched at the white spot. Instead of soft linen, she felt thick, sticky padding. In place of the crush of a napkin gathered in her palm, there was the unmistakable writhing of something alive.



Here is my review of this thoroughly entertaining and inspirational novel:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Marcia Gruver and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Emmy's Equal" to review for them. I have always been grateful for this generosity, and I am trying to improve 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.

“Emmy’s Equal” by Marcia Gruver is a completely satisfying read. This book has all of the elements of a great fiction book in my opinion: a deep and wide thread of faith, a strong leading female character, a handsome and exotic leading man, humor, action and intrigue. I was thoroughly hooked from page one!

Emily doesn’t want to accompany her parents on a trip to Texas. She would rather visit her childhood friend in St. Louis who just became a mother. Besides, Emmy’s relationship with her father has been strained for several years and she has no idea why. But Emmy learns, as we all do at times, that sometimes what we dread most becomes the most beautiful blessing in our life! Emmy’s tumultuous introduction to Diego is one of those moments that she could look back on with regret, but it opens her to a new and unexpected relationship.

Marcia Gruver is a beautiful storyteller. Her words flow like cool, fresh, spring water on a hot summer day. This novel inspires, entertains, refreshes, and leaves the reader with the lesson that God has plans for His children.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Today's Daily Devotional


The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

02/12/09 – In this week’s Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) study of the Life of Moses, one of the exercises was to re-write this blessing and indicate when you would speak it over someone. I wrote the following:

“May the Lord bless you and sustain you. May He smile upon you and bestow grace upon you. May He give you peace.” I said that such a blessing would be appropriate for any new venture.

Upon what are you embarking that you would appreciate such a blessing? How could you re-write this passage to bless someone else just starting out on a new adventure?

The Longview: Lasting Strategies for Rising Leaders by Roger Parrott, PhD

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 Longview: Lasting Strategies for Rising Leaders

David C. Cook; New edition (October 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


At age thirty-four Roger Parrott became one of the America’s youngest college presidents. Parrott is currently the president of Belhaven College, an innovative liberal arts institution recognized as the leading evangelical college in the Arts. He earned a PhD in higher education administration from the University of Maryland. Parrott serves in leadership of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, Mission America Coalition, and Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He has advised a wide variety of ministries in the US and internationally.

Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (October 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434767493
ISBN-13: 978-1434767493

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Lead As If You’ll Be There Forever


The heart of the longview does not begin with actions as much as attitude. Imagine that the organization and position you are in right now is what God wants you to do for the rest of your professional life. For many, it might be discouraging to truly feel “locked in” to your job. But contrary to the mantras of popular career gurus, this is one of the best things that could ever happen to you and your ministry, because only from that immobile position will your outlook on leadership be revolutionized.

To live without professional advancement opportunities would, of course, be demotivating and create an unhealthy situation for both you and your ministry. But to lead as if you must remain in that same position forever—and live with the long-term consequences of every decision—will shift your perspective, align your priorities, and build lasting strength in your organization, rather than allowing you to settle for the comfort and accolades of immediate results.

When a leader is thinking, living, and acting in terms of only the short-range, everyone around him suffers and may be handicapped for years to come because the decisions of today will either expand or narrow subsequent options and opportunities. The compounding weight of each shortsighted decision speeds the deterioration of the ministry’s foundation, while a long-term perspective strengthens that substructure for a higher reach in the future.


Longview Decision Making

When President Jimmy Carter held a thirteen-day summit at Camp David in 1978 with Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, a formal state of war still existed between the two countries, with Egypt determined to reclaim the Sinai territory seized by the Israelis twenty-two years previously. In the woods of Maryland, these long-hoped-for negotiations came to multiple stalemates. But each time Carter found a way to keep the discussion alive, even though deep-seated mistrust between the two Middle Eastern leaders kept them from talking directly to each other, causing the U. S. President to shuttle between their private cabins, triangulating the dialog.

On the morning of the eleventh day, the arduous process appeared to disintegrate when Prime Minister Begin decided to leave the meetings over the wording of a side letter on the status of Jerusalem. He wouldn’t have his mind changed by the immediate needs of securing the peace in the Middle East and freeing his country from the relentless cycle of violence. But with brilliant insight, President Carter shifted the perspective from the immediate results to the long-term implications: as Prime Minister Begin was packing his bags to leave, President Carter brought to him eight personalized autographed pictures of the three leaders working together, and told the Prime Minister they were for him to take home to his eight grandchildren so they would always remember what the three men had tried to accomplish together. With a new long-term perspective, Begin unpacked and days later signed the Camp David Accords.

Now, while it is certainly true that a decision regarding what is best for the immediate may often be the same as the choice that is best for the future, it is essential that leaders get into the groove of thinking beyond the near horizon. Otherwise, they lose the proper perspective that allows them to consider long-term issues and ramifications.

It is fairly easy to bring about positive short-run change in most organizations. Wise leaders are aware there is always low-hanging fruit for change, and they know how to harvest it to get off to a fast start when beginning in a new position. But when short-term triumphs take precedent over long-term success, those same aggressive leadership skills can deteriorate into selfish decisions, fearful management, and self-deceiving evaluation. And the longer a leader continues in this pattern, the more troublesome the consequences and limiting the solution options. Eventually, a leader can become entrapped in a cycle that demands ignoring the mounting crisis of the future, in order to sustain the appearance of current success.


Measuring Long-Term Ministry Leadership


Relieving your immediate stress cannot guide a decision when the consequences are yours to shoulder long after the applause dies down.
Tough personnel issues are unavoidable if you must live with these people for the rest of your career.
Taking shortcuts to clean up a problem is unacceptable because your challenges will be even tougher in the future if you don’t do it right the first time.
Good stewards of God’s house don’t sweep problems under the rug.


The Short Run Never Works for Long

Here is a vivid way to grasp the problem that short-term perspective brings into your ministry. Think back to that time when you had a great employee who, because of family or career issues, began to seek a new position. The search was not far enough along for you to be brought into the discussion but, mentally, the employee had already moved on—and you knew it.

Even if the job-searching employee was one of your key players, that individual had already been demoted, in your view, from the person around whom you were building a future to one whose contribution was suspect at best.

In that rapid transformation, the only attribute that had changed about the employee was his perspective. He still came to work with the same skill set, same hours, same types of ideas, and same energy. But because his viewpoint was now focused only on the short run, you could not count on him to make decisions that were in the long-term best interest of the ministry. Now multiply that scenario into the life of a CEO or other top leader—not just a rising employee—and consider the potential damage.

A short-term leadership perspective is devastating in ministry, but the impact can be illustrated best in the corporate world, where results are totaled on the bottom line. “As goes General Motors, so goes the country” has been part of the American psyche for generations, and GM was always the most progressive in their innovation for the coming model year and in producing quarterly earnings that impressed Wall Street. But the Japanese automaker Toyota did what the captains of industry once considered impossible—it surpassed the century-long domination of General Motors as the leading automaker.

Could it be that a major factor in the growth of Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mazda, Subaru, and Mitsubishi is that Japanese leadership expected they would remain with the same company a lifetime? Fifty years ago Toyota’s board and top management implemented a comprehensive plan to accomplish what is being realized today. In contrast, GM’s leadership remained primarily focused on their latest quarterly earnings projections during those same years.

The best leaders understand they should always be held accountable for the long-term before they are rewarded for their immediate results. The pastor who envisions reaching his whole city, will always be more effective than the one who is concerned about making a glowing report at the next conference gathering. A fund-raising professional who desires to build relationships matching donors with their passions will always raise more money than one striving to meet an urgent campaign goal. Over time, even the school administrator who fixes the nagging plumbing problem will be appreciated more than the one who spends that same money to install new carpeting.

In the Harvard Business Review analysis “If Brands Are Built over Years, Why Are They Managed over Quarters?” Leonard M. Lodish and Carl F. Mela explore why short-term thinking dominates business marketing today even though branding is an extremely long-term process. They determined that companies have shifted their focus to quarterly outcomes over long-term success because of three factors. First, there is an abundance of real-time immediate data that allows corporate leaders to measure results in great detail in ways we could not in the past. Second, at the same time, long-term results have become even more difficult to measure, thus pushing the focus to a short-run agenda. And third, the tenure of managers is continually becoming shorter as they see their future linked to demonstrating immediate results.1


Endemic Nearsightedness

It is critical to understand that the root of this pattern does not rest only at the feet of self-serving or short-sighted leaders, because boards and constituencies have allowed organizational success to become measured by quarterly results rather than long-term success. Unfortunately, our culture rewards leaders for such shortsighted decision making. The New Republic reported examples of “Kenneth Lay of Enron pocketing an extra $101 million in the months before Enron’s collapse wiped out shareholders; Bernard Ebbers of WorldCom ‘loaning’ himself $366 million in the months before his cooked books wiped out shareholders; L. Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco paying himself $426 million, from 1998 to 2002, even as his self-serving decisions were wiping out shareholders and driving the company into the ground.”2 Ken Lay, Bernie Ebbers, and Dennis Kozlowski, along with a horde of leaders who never got their name in the paper, were focused on their own short-term accolades instead of the organization’s long-term needs.

The most public firings of CEOs seem to nearly always reflect a pattern of cheers for that leader through a relatively short period of repeated quarterly reports and then a startling discovery by the board of serious foundational issues gone awry. But these same boards have demanded, rewarded, and praised immediate success at all costs. The real irony is that these boards have also learned to solve their crisis with a short-term solution of firing the CEO, rather than doing the hard work needed to correct the foundational issues—and the cycle is likely to repeat down the road.

And then there are the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately employees or constituents that press leaders for decisions that feed the hunger of instant gratification instead of long-term results. From outside the corner office, pressure has mounted for leaders to make decisions only in light of short-run objectives if those choices will boost today’s benefits. The challenge of leadership is balancing the scales to assure ongoing organizational stability while also providing fulfilling opportunities for the stakeholders today.

By ignoring the long-term ramifications of decisions in order to solve the immediate challenge, organizations stockpile future problems and gloss over the most difficult issues. The foundational erosion caused by decisions guided only by short-term vision will eventually undermine or destroy all the good that has been achieved, because the damage will eventually be discovered and will be difficult and costly to repair.

This same pattern holds true in ministry:

We have become focused on measuring the short-term results of our work, i.e. the proposals we write to foundations promise immediate outcomes.

The transformation of lives for the long term is only measured in eternity, and thus it is nearly impossible for us to track the impact of our most significant work.

Boards and CEOs want to hire people who have demonstrated measureable results. But when we overvalue the short-term results that are more easily measured, we in turn reward leaders who produce immediate advances over long-term ministry significance. Accordingly, the most “productive” people are always being tempted to move to a new place of service.

Instead, the commitment to lead with a longview will transform how you approach leadership more so than any other shift you could make. No matter what your tenure horizon may be—whether you are just starting a new job, considering a change, or fast approaching retirement—if you make decisions as if you are will remain in your current position forever, you’ll make dramatically better choices and make them for the right reasons.


Fast Wins Eventually Lose

One of my especially fun projects was starting a football team at Belhaven College several years ago, and building on our successful model, I had a number of college-president friends also launch football programs. One of my peers, who wanted to get started right at his University, hired a coaching staff who were strong Christians, well known in the football world, and wonderfully experienced—they knew their Xs & Os. They recruited talented players, created an intense football atmosphere for the team, generated lots of press coverage, and won football games. What the president didn’t realize at the time was his coaches were focused on gaining attention-grabbing success in order to move on to the big leagues of coaching.

The University discovered over time that the scholarships were overspent, the drop-out rate among players was astronomical, and many of the recruited athletes did not care about the benchmarks of character that were important in attracting students to a Christian school. The president finally overturned a rock exposing how bad it had become when a conference official told him about a horrible intrasquad brawl the coaches were trying to keep under wraps. His “go to” coaches became his “be gone” coaches in a hurry, and the school spent several years sweeping up the mess to build integrity into the program, balance out the money, and quiet the sports bloggers. Interestingly, none of those coaches ever made it in Division I football.

The consequences of not making decisions as if you’ll be there forever will create an unseen and quietly eroding process that always has the same predictable outcome—it is expensive and time consuming to fix. The harm created by near-focused leaders may be imperceptible at first and the impact not be seen for years or sometimes decades to come—but the problems created when leaders are not guarding the long-term future will be complex to solve and will limit the opportunities for sustained success.


What's Your View?

To protect against this crippling pattern, a bit of periodic self-evaluation will reveal your current longitudinal view in leadership responsibilities:


If you knew you could never have a different job, which decisions over the past year might you have made differently?

Do you find yourself putting off a difficult personnel issue or a hard decision in hopes that someone else in the future will have to deal with it instead?

Which of your recent decisions made you feel most proud? Were they made in light of the long-term implications or the short-term impact?

Have you purposefully made decisions recently that were best for the long run, even though another choice would have made you look good in the short term?

What will your legacy with your ministry look like twenty-five years after you are gone?


As you attempt to answer these questions yourself, consider that every leader’s responsibility is to fulfill a calling rather than gratify immediate desires. Jesus taught us the ultimate example of never wavering from a long-term view when we have been called to a purpose. In the garden of Gethsemane He prays, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.… If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me” (Matt. 26:38–39). Although fully God, Jesus was also fully man, and that is the cry of an anguished leader at the crossroads, one longing to give into the short-term options rather than the long-term objective. Had Jesus taken the immediate view and revealed His power, the mockers would have been silenced, His followers’ political dreams would have been accomplished, and the whole world would have been left amazed. But instead, He made a decision from the perspective of forever and prayed, “Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done” (Matt. 26:39). And like Jesus, a Christian leader’s proper long-range view must extend all the way into eternity.

Learning to make decisions with the mindset of remaining in your current position forever will change your perspective on all actions and will mandate that integrity, service, and lasting quality are the guiding forces behind your leadership. Along with a determined godly focus of your attitude, one tool to assure you maintain proper perspective is to listen to the people in your organization who have a long-term perspective in their DNA because they never expect to go anywhere else. Becoming a college president at age thirty-four, I didn’t assume my first school in rural Kansas would be my last. But to assure I was always protecting the long-term interests of the institution, I met regularly with a group I privately called “those who will be buried in the local cemetery.” I wanted to be sure that the perspectives of the long-term faculty, who would be part of the school long after I left, were always considered when I made decisions.

The day a leader begins to look at his or her responsibility in terms of a limited future is the day leadership effectiveness begins to spiral downward. This is part of the reason why freshly appointed leaders always discover previously unseen issues that need attention—they know they have to live with the problems if they don’t fix them now. In contrast, leaders who become complacent in a position will tend to make decisions in terms of how the results will shape what they expect their current tenure to be.


Eternal Results

During the modern missions movement God built His church through people who committed themselves to a long-term outlook.

William Carey, the first missionary to India, worked for seven years before he had his first convert.

Adoniram Judson worked for nearly the same amount of time in Burma before he saw his first convert.

Robert Morrison, the first Protestant missionary to China, labored for a quarter century and had fewer than a dozen converts.

The missionaries to East Africa in the early 1800s shipped their goods to their new home in coffins because they didn’t expect to return any other way.

These leaders, and thousands whose stories are not remembered, valued the longview significance of ministry over short-run measurable “success.” By tilling the soil for future returns, their results are recorded in eternity.

In an age of mobility and global connectedness, God is not likely to call you to only one place of service during your career. But no matter where He calls you, you need to think, work, live, and commit as if it is the only future God has entrusted to you.

Leaders who base decisions on a long-term perspective may not be as flashy in their immediate results, but they hire better people, build foundations of constituency strength, preserve organizational infrastructure, and leave a legacy that tells the full story of their success.

Great leaders will make decisions on their last day before retirement as if they were going to be in the leadership chair another quarter century


©2009 Cook Communications Ministries. The Longview by Roger Parrott. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.



Here is my review of this insightful book:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Dr. Roger Parrot and his publisher for sending me a copy of "The Longview: Lasting Strategies for Rising Leaders" to review for them. I have always been grateful for this generosity, and I am trying to improve 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.

Roger Parrott, PhD has penned what should be required reading for anyone in leadership or contemplating service in a leadership capacity. “The Longview: Lasting Strategies for Rising Leaders” is filled with invaluable tactics for seasoned and brand new leaders. Parrott stresses the importance of humility, spontaneity, and the long-term effects of leadership.

The only drawback was that this book wasn’t filled with all of the additional features that I’ve come to expect in books published by David C. Cook. Otherwise, this valuable read does not disappoint.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Today's Daily Devotional


“Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” Revelation 7:12


04/21/09 I love the book of Revelation! It is absolutely LOADED with images of God’s glory. The word “glory” is “doxa” in the Greek. It means opinion, judgment, view. This verse is saying that God’s opinion – God’s judgment – God’s view is what matters – FOREVER! The Greek word for wisdom is “sofia”. It means broad knowledge of very diverse matters, supreme intelligence. The Lord knows everything! There is nothing that can take Him by surprise. This verse is a statement of worship. It’s a great verse to memorize and recite when you really don’t feel like praising. As you realize that God has the right to judge and that His wisdom is supreme and unsurpassed, the praise and worship will naturally begin to pour out.

October CSFF Tour: Haunt of Jackals by Eric Wilson




Check out the Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy website, too.




Here is my review of this tremendous novel:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Eric Wilson and his publisher for sending me a copy of "Haunt of Jackals" 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.

Eric Wilson’s “Haunt of Jackals” is book 2 in the Jerusalem’s Undead Trilogy. It’s a fascinating suspense read surrounding two groups of undead: those who were raised when Jesus Christ was resurrected, and those mysteriously raised when Judas Iscariot’s blood was spilled. This is brilliantly written fiction that tantalizes the imagination as its characters span the globe, making the heart race with each blood-pumping scenario!

After only a few pages of this book, I am ravenous for book 1 in the series – “Field of Blood”. I have discovered a new favorite author and kindred spirit in Eric Wilson. His name should be touted among the likes of Stephen King, Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti as one of the master supernatural suspense storytellers.

This book also offers a wonderful bonus in the form of insightful discussion questions, making it a perfect pick for your supernatural fiction reading group.



Please visit these other Blog Tour Participant websites:



Brandon Barr
Wayne Thomas Batson
Jennifer Bogart
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Amy Browning
Karri Compton
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Julie
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika
Nissa
John W. Otte
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson
KM Wilsher