Thursday, December 31, 2009

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


05/13/09 Isn’t this a beautiful verse of scripture? Sometimes reading the same verse in another translation of the Bible helps to shed light on what the verse is really trying to say. For this verse, the New American Standard version adds that the Lord will have compassion on the afflicted. That is precious. The Hebrew for “have compassion” is “racham,” meaning to love, love deeply, have mercy, be compassionate, have tender affection, have compassion. I used to work with a woman who had a sign hanging in her office that said: Be Compassion. What a treasure! If you substitute the word “compassion” for the others in our definition, you have a reminder to “Be Love” or “Be Mercy” of “Be Tender Affection”. How lovely. Now I challenge you: Be Compassion.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

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 word used to name God in this verse is elohim. It is the plural name for God that relates directly to the Trinity. Take a moment to let that sink in. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit all participate in creating a pure heart in you. The entire Trinity is responsible for renewing a steadfast spirit within you. That’s triple the power working in your life to mold your heart to look like that of Christ. That’s “phenomenal cosmic power” working in your “itty bitty living space” to renew your spirit. What a privilege. I’ve heard it said that a cord of three strands is not easily broken, indicating that the new woven cord is stronger. I wonder: can the same be true in God’s case?

Tuesday, December 29, 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


05/06/09 “At all times, in every way” may seem like isolated incidents, but the New American Standard version indicates the hope that the Lord would CONTINUALLY grant peace. And He does this. But we have to remain attached to Him. If we pull away when tragedy strikes, we will be in despair. We branches must stay attached to the Vine that is, Jesus (see John 15), to receive and bear this fruit. In fact, while I was unemployed for 13 months, I was closer to the Lord than I’ve ever been. I was scared and uncertain about my family’s future and resentful of the people who laid me off. But I clung to God! And because I did, He gave me peace. It wasn’t that I didn’t doubt or fear or get angry. I really felt like an oscillating fan. But I didn’t lose one moment of sleep during that time. And His presence was very evident to me. That’s peace!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Today's Daily Devotional


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

04/20/09 Are you burdened? The implication here is legalism, meaningless rituals. “Phortizo” means, to metaphorically load one with a burden of rites and unwarranted precepts. Luke 11:46 uses this word as well, talking about the reprimand by Jesus of one of the teachers of the law when Christ told him that the teachers of the law weigh men down with hard to bear burdens and don’t apply those same burdens to themselves! When you feel burdened by unnecessary rules and regulations in practicing your faith, take it to the Lord. I recently had to do this when a respected member of my church made some very legalistic comments about how events in a church should be treated differently than events involving the same group of people in a home or other venue. Do what I did. Take your burden to Jesus!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

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 wants you to prosper. Do you find this difficult to believe at times? Are you confusing your idea of prosperity with His? What comes to mind when you think of how you’d like to prosper? Making money? Having lots of stuff? Living in the biggest house on the block? Driving the best car? Donating lots of money to lots of charities? Now take a moment to think of it from God’s perspective. What do you think He means by prosper? He wants you to be saved, for sure. He wants you to grow and become like His Son, Jesus Christ. He wants you to love Him. He wants you to love your neighbor. Those things will make you complete. Those things will bring you peace. Those things will make you prosperous.

Saturday, December 26, 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 I spent 13 months out of work in 2007-2008. Those 395 days were not days that I wanted to praise. But praise I did. Sometimes through my tears. Sometimes completely fearful of what was going to happen. Sometimes upset about my situation although I was not responsible for it. But always trusting that God was right there, arms wrapped tightly around me. He helped me to heal from the betrayal of my employer and actually forgive those who laid me off. The Lord removed anger and hatred that I felt for those who put my family in financial jeopardy. God drew me nearer to Him so that I saw Him as larger than I’ve ever seen Him before. And He was gargantuan compared to my petty problems. And what’s better is, He had it all under control. He not only blessed me with a new job. He’s allowed me to see a bit of the purpose of it all. Hallelujah!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Bible Study: As It Was In The Beginning - Genesis - Chapter 8


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Genesis. 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 Genesis Chapter 8. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…



8:5-6 – is this a statement supporting capital punishment?

8:15-17 – God instructed Noah to come out of the ark with his family and the animals. He commands them to be fruitful and increase in number upon the earth. This passage reminds me of John 11, where Jesus’ friend, Lazarus, is sick and dies. When the Lord arrives in Bethany, He is met by mourners, probably wailing – whereas when the Lord approached the ark, there was silence because everything on the earth was dead. As Jesus approached Lazarus’ tomb, it probably grew quieter since there was nothing going on behind the rock. Conversely, as God approached the ark, the noise-level grew because everything inside was aching to get out! In John 11:43, Jesus issues a command: “Lazarus, come out.” If He had done as the Father did in Genesis, and not specified the instruction was for Lazarus, every dead man, woman and child within the sound of His voice would have obeyed the command!

Mankind was given a second chance through Noah. Some would argue that only Lazarus (and perhaps those who knew him) were given a second chance at Bethany. But they would be wrong. This event was another chance for mankind! We were given another chance to see God’s love and compassion and power and generosity. We see how He cares for us through the tears shed for His friend.

How does the resurrection of Lazarus or the resurrection of mankind from the ark impact you?

8:22 – Read at sunrise.



What attributes of God have you observed in your study today? How will this change your relationship with Him?

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


04/09/09 Isn’t the word “strong” a comfort in this passage? Isn’t it powerful? Doesn’t it inspire you and fill you with a sense of expectation? If not, just wait until you hear this. The Greek word for “strong” in this text is bebaioo. It means “to make firm, establish, confirm, make sure”. Take a few moments to savor that definition. What does it mean to you? As I ponder, I think solid, foundational, unwavering. That is amazing to me. And God promises to keep us that way. He will keep making us firm. He will keep establishing us. He will keep confirming us. He will keep making us sure. We serve a wonderful, gracious, hard-working God who loves us so much that He will continue to mold us and shape us and make us stronger everyday. Thank you, Papa!

Thursday, December 24, 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 This is the day that the Lord has made! Praise Him for it! No, it doesn’t matter what day it is. He made them all! Hallelujah! Sing a song of praise to our Father. Choose your favorite Psalm and read it to Him like a prayer. Write Him a song or a poem. Spend an extended time with Him in prayer. Meditate on and memorize a scripture passage. Run to Him when you’re happy. Run to Him when you’re sad. THAT is how you praise! Lie on your back in the grass like you did as a child during the lazy days of summer and see the King of the Universe on His throne. Look at the trees, flowers, mountains, oceans and recognize the power and might of the One who created all of these things. Tell Him how beautiful He is, how awesome He is. THAT is how you praise!

REVIEW: Pentecost Revisited by R. Glenn Brown


Dallas/Ft Worth, TX—Few topics have divided the 20th century evangelical church as deeply as the study of speaking in tongues. According to Pentecostal doctrine and tradition, the manifestation of tongues is a necessary evidence to confirm the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Among other evangelicals, the gift of tongues ceased when the last apostle died. In some churches—and even some seminary classrooms—discussions about tongues are taboo.

Author Glenn Brown has been an ordained Assemblies of God minister for over fifty years. A retired Navy chaplain, he served in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marines before pastoring churches for eighteen years. In his new book, Pentecost Revisited, Brown takes a fresh look at both the Pentecostal view and the opposing views of tongues, searching the Scriptures to resolve the conflict. His conclusion: the doctrines and traditions on both extremes of the debate are scripturally inaccurate, and both groups are missing God’s true purpose for speaking in tongues, as revealed in the Bible.

“God’s gift of tongues was designed to bring divergent people groups together in a common purpose and love for each other. The outpouring of the Spirit accompanied by tongues conveyed a sign to early Jewish Christians who did not believe that certain groups could be included in the church without submitting to Mosaic rites. This sort of racial bias was true in both the first century and the twentieth,” Brown says. “I believe the unifying purpose for the gift of tongues is clearly laid out in the book of Acts. The early church comprised of Jewish believers was persuaded to accept the Samaritans, the Gentiles, and the polyglot society of Ephesus into the church because they heard new believers speak in tongues just like the one hundred twenty had in the upper room. Tongues were God’s sign that He would not tolerate racism in His family. What a shame, then, that a gift God intended for the unification of His church has been distorted and has become a source of such division.”

Pentecost Revisited takes on several fundamental questions surrounding the tongues debate including:

· Are supernatural events possible?

· Are miracles and gifts of the Spirit limited to the apostolic age, or are they still present today?

· Must the baptism of the Holy Spirit be initially accompanied by tongues?

· Why is there ongoing division between Pentecostals and other evangelicals?

· Why is it easier to change doctrine than to change tradition?

With over five decades of ministry under his belt and degrees from both Denver Seminary and Princeton Seminary, Brown clearly articulates his doctrinal differences with both the Assemblies of God church and the cessasionists (those who believe the gift of tongues is not offered to the modern church) and, with heartfelt conviction, presents a scriptural alternative. The book also offers a brief history lesson concerning the Pentecostal movement, focusing particularly on the 1906 Azusa Street revival, a time when Brown believes the gift of tongues temporarily accomplished its intended purpose of unifying the church across racial lines. Pentecost Revisited delves unflinchingly into a topic often ignored by a squeamish American church—the prevalence of racism within our church body.

“I believe now is the time for all Christians to reexamine their traditional doctrines of the outpouring of tongues,” Brown says. “When the scriptural stance is correctly understood, this powerful gift can reverse Babel and help unite the body of Christ around the world.”


Here is my review of this encouraging and inspiring read:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to R. Glenn Brown and his publisher for sending me a copy of "Pentecost Revisited" 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.

R. Glenn Brown’s “Pentecost Revisited” is an enlightening read. As a Christian with a Pentecostal background, I don’t find the beliefs of the Pentecostal church to be foreign. But I understand that these teachings, though Biblical, are controversial to other Christian denominations, although I fail at times to comprehend why that is the case. This book does exactly what its title says, revisits Pentecost. Concentrating on the birth of the Christian church through the falling of the Holy Spirit upon mankind, Glenn Brown opens the reader’s eyes to the power of the least known member of the Trinity and awakens us to the knowledge that He is alive and well in today’s world!

This is an outstanding book that can be enjoyed by and beneficial to Christians of any denomination. Frank discussions of spiritual gifts, baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues are prominent in this text, and although I have a strong belief in these subjects, I was intrigued by Brown’s point of view. However, due to the controversial views of these topics, this may not be the greatest book for a discussion group. Still I would recommend it for individual reading.

Wednesday, December 23, 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


04/20/09 This blessing sounds so final, doesn’t it? But at the same time, it sounds like a new beginning. Perhaps you are handing the reins over to someone else? Maybe you’re stepping down from a ministry position to allow someone else to serve. Are you taking a promotion and training someone to take your place? Is this happening because of your choice or someone else’s decision? Are you excited? Apprehensive? Are you wondering what I’m talking about because there’s nothing new on the horizon for you? Each day is a new adventure. God’s mercies are renewed each morning. Every day holds its own blessings and challenges and opportunities to draw nearer to the Savior who loves you enough to lay down His life for you. Go to Him, now. Allow Him to bless you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

REVIEW: The Lightkeeper's Daughter by Colleen Coble

At a lavish estate in Mercy Falls, California, Addie Sullivan finds danger—and quite possibly the love of her life.

Growing up as the lightkeeper’s daughter on a remote island at the turn of the century, Addie Sullivan has lived a hardscrabble life. When a long-lost and wealthy relative finds her and enlists her to work as a governess at a lavish estate, she hopes to discover the truth of her heritage. But at Eaton Hall, nothing is as it seems. Not the idyllic family she hoped for, not the child she was hired to help, not even the aloof man she’s immediately attracted to. Soon she must turn for help to Lieutenant John North, a man who views her with suspicion.

As Addie edges closer to the truth, danger threatens even as her romance with John blossoms and together they unravel a decades-old mystery. As Addie faces down her enemy, she discovers that faith in her one true Father is all she needs.



Here is my review of this incredible work of historical fiction:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Colleen Coble and Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers for sending me a copy of "The Lightkeeper's Daughter" 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 total experience of Colleen Coble’s latest novel, “The Lightkeeper’s Daughter”, begins by tantalizing the eye with an incredibly beautiful cover. The author’s name on the book influences the reader to grip it in hand until the checkout stand is reached and the purchase is paid for. When the cover is cracked, the spell is complete: a suspenseful climate is established early in this superb work of fiction. I was hooked from page one!

This novel tells the story of Addie Sullivan, a young woman who is believed to actually be Julie Eaton, a wealthy heiress who was separated from her family at a very young age during a shipwreck. Addie has been raised by a lighthouse keeper, and with the revelation of her true identity, she is beginning to put together the pieces of her life that have never seemed to fit properly. But this is when the true mystery begins. Is someone in the family trying to kill this young woman to keep her from inheriting her father’s estate?

Coble is a masterful storyteller who weaves mystery, romance and historical drama together into a beautiful, multi-dimensional tale. The reader can almost smell the sea air and feel the sand on the beach. The details of costume and language employed by Colleen Coble paints a vivid picture in the reader’s imagination. I highly recommend this wonderfully entertaining and inspiring book!

REVIEW: Why We Need Girlfriends by Frankie Sherman


(Laurens, South Carolina) – Most women would trade their designer handbag and stelleto heels for one really good friend. Why? Because God designed us to desire deep meaningful friendships with others. In funny lady, Frankie Sherman’s, Why We Need Girlfriends, Frankie takes women through a seven-week journey through the lives of Mary, mother of Jesus and her cousin/friend, Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. Packed full of practical insight from these two biblical women, participants will soon understand the significance of solid friendships between older Elizabeth-type women and younger Mary-type women.

With Frankie’s background in the arts and comic relief, women need not feel intimidated by participating in a Why We Need Girlfriends Bible study. Its friendly format requires only fifteen minutes, four days a week. You can do it alone, with friends at lunch or over the phone with a girlfriend while wearing your jammies. There’s even a free downloadable leader’s guide on Frankie’s website for women’s Sunday school classes or group studies: http://frankiedsherman.com.

Frankie Sherman is a national speaker, comedian, and Bible teacher for conferences, retreats, and women's events. She fell in love with Jesus at Vacation Bible School and takes every opportunity to tell others about the joy of being alive in Christ. She is a former choreographer for the Georgia Peach Bowl and the Florida Citrus Bowl Halftime Show. Her specialty is in theater musical/productions. Her first Bible Study, Why We Need Girlfriends is based on the relationship of Mary and Elizabeth, from Luke's gospel. Two women brought together by extraordinary circumstances by an extraordinary God. Frankie is from South Carolina—loves sweet tea, BIG hair and her grand-girls. She believes there will never be another Elvis. And knows that her Jesus will return for her soon.


Here is my review of this terrific study:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Frankie Sherman and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Why We Need Girlfriends" 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.

“Why We Need Girlfriends” by Frankie Sherman is a terrific seven-week Bible study. Following the relationship between Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, this study emphasizes the importance of friendship and shows it for the gift that God intended it to be. This workbook is set up with four days’ worth of homework each week in an inviting devotional format. Although “Why We Need Girlfriends” can be done solo, the real intention of this study is to meet as a group for discussion and fellowship.

Packed with prayers and questions designed to educate and provide self-assessment, this study is enlightening and inspiring and gives me a hunger for deeper and long-lasting friendships. I would suggest this Bible study for any women’s group.

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 have studied this word for power before. It is one of the coolest word studies a Bible student can do. The Greek word dunamis may even look familiar to you. A really popular English word is derived from this Greek term. Can you see the English word? Take a guess at what it might be. Think power. Maybe the definition will help: inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth. Here’s another exciting bit of information. The inherent power of God resides in every Christian. When we accept Christ, we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. When God comes to live inside of us, His power lives within us! Praise the Lord! So, do you know the word? The English word for “dunamis” is dynamite! Is that cool or what?

Monday, December 21, 2009

December CSFF Tour: Digital Dragon Magazine





Digital Dragon Magazine

Several individuals have a hand in creating this website





Here is my review of this interesting website:

First of all, it's been a long time since I've read Dragon magazine. In fact, I'm not sure I ever read it. I was always too enthralled with Boris Vallejo's artwork to bother with the words. Besides, I was only making a less than half-hearted attempt to play Dungeons and Dragons, so it's not like I would have really benefitted from the information in the magazine. But those memories are what flooded my mind when I learned that this month's CSFF Tour stop would be "Digital Dragon", a monthly online magazine that made it's debut in July 2009.

This online sci-fi mag is a different story - several different stories, in fact. The site contains standalone stories, a book review, and a work of serial fiction. Back issues reveal epic poetry, editorial articles and credit for some nice cover art - perhaps one day, a budding Boris will appear? "Digital Dragon" promises to become a wonderful showcase for speculative fiction work. I doubt I'll be submitting anything, but I will definitely recommend it to anyone I meet who is interested in writing Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy.

Today's Daily Devotional


Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7


04/22/09 As our time on earth grows shorter, the anxiety on earth will increase. While we wait on Jesus to return and take us home, we must spend lots of time with the Lord, pouring out all of our concerns to Him. We must intercede for unsaved loved ones. We must go before the throne on behalf of the sick and weak and wicked. We must spend time with Him. Why? Because He loves us. Because He sent His Son to earth as a human being to spill His blood so that we could have restored relationship with the Father. Because He lives inside of us. Because He cares to meet our needs and never fails to exceed our expectations. We must cast all our anxiety on Him because He can handle it. And because He told us to. That should be enough of a reason.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Today's Daily Devotional


The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him. Nahum 1:7

04/27/09 The Lord is our refuge is times of trouble. He is a place or means of safety when the going gets tough. He is our source of protection when there is danger around every corner. He is our stronghold when we need to escape impending doom. The Lord is also a refuge for us when times aren’t so bad, but they’re not great, either. He is our safety when things just aren’t quite right. He is our protection when we are afraid. He is our stronghold when we doubt. The Lord is our refuge when we are weary. He is our safety net when we take a leap of faith. He is our protector when we are vulnerable. He is our stronghold when we just need to be held. He is there for us in the best of times and the worst of times. Spend some time with Him right now. Take refuge in the Lord.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Today's Daily Devotional


Sing to the Lord a new song, His praise from the ends of the earth. Isaiah 42:10


03/31/09 “Why, why are You still here with me? Didn't You see what I've done? In my shame I want to run and hide myself . But it's here I see the truth - I don't deserve You. But I need You to love me, and I… I won't keep my heart from You this time, and I'll stop this pretending that I can somehow deserve what I already have. I need You to love me. I, I have wasted so much time pushing You away from me. I just never saw how You could cherish me 'cause You're a God who has all things and still You want me… Your love makes me forget what I have been. Your love makes me see who I really am. Your love makes me forget what I have been.”

I Need You To Love Me – Barlow Girl

Friday, December 18, 2009

Bible Study: As It Was In The Beginning - Genesis - Chapter 7


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Genesis. 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 Genesis Chapter 7. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…




7:9-8:19 – what happened to the bodies of those who perished in the flood? Did the earth stink? Did they sink to the bottom of the sea? Did Noah bury or burn them?




What attributes of God have you observed in your study today? How will this change your relationship with Him?

Today's Daily Devotional


God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8


06/01/09 An abundance of grace. I am so thankful for it, but at the same time, I don’t want to need it. I don’t want to misbehave. I don’t want to be disobedient. I don’t want to sin. I don’t want to have to ask forgiveness, because I don’t want to do anything that I need to ask forgiveness for. Unfortunately, until I get to heaven and everything is perfect, I will behave badly. I will sin. I will disobey. I will need my Heavenly Father’s abundant grace. I’m sure you realize that you will need this abundance of grace, too. And I’m glad that He offers that grace freely. I’m guessing that you are glad for its availability, as well. Maybe now would be a good time to take a minute to say thank you.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Sheriff's Surrender by Susan Page Davis

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 Sheriff’s Surrender

Barbour Books (December 1, 2009)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Award-winning author Susan Page Davis is a mother of six who lives in Maine with her husband, Jim. She worked as a newspaper correspondent for more than twenty-five years in addition to home-schooling her children. She writes historical romances and cozy mysteries and is a member of ACFW. Visit her Web site at

Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (December 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602605629
ISBN-13: 978-1602605626

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Fergus, Idaho

May 1885


Gert Dooley aimed at the scrap of red calico and squeezed the trigger. The Spencer rifle she held cracked, and the red cloth fifty yards away shivered.

“I’d say your shooting piece is in fine order.” She lowered the rifle and passed it to the owner, Cyrus Fennel. She didn’t particularly like Fennel, but he always paid her brother, the only gunsmith in Fergus, with hard money.

He nodded. “Thank you, Miss Dooley.” He shoved his hand into his pocket.

Gert knew he was fishing out a coin. This was the part her brother hated most—taking payment for his work. She turned away. Hiram would be embarrassed enough without her watching. She picked up the shawl she had let fall to the grass a few minutes earlier.

“That’s mighty fine shooting, Gert,” said Hiram’s friend, rancher Ethan Chapman. He’d come by earlier to see if Hiram would help him string a fence the next day. When Cyrus Fennel had arrived to pick up his repaired rifle, Ethan had sat down on the chopping block to watch Gert demonstrate the gun.

“Thank you kindly.” Gert accepted praise for shooting as a matter of course. Now, if Ethan had remarked that she looked fine today or some such pretty thing, she’d have been flustered. But he would never say anything like that. And shooting was just work.

Fennel levered the rifle’s action open and peered at the firing pin. “Looks good as new. I should be able to pick off those rats that are getting in my grain bins.”

“That’s quite a cannon for shooting rats,” Gert said.

Ethan stood and rested one foot on the chopping block, leaning forward with one arm on his knee. “You ought to hire Gert to shoot them for you.”

Gert scowled. “Why’d I want to do that? He can shoot his own rats.”

Hiram, who had pocketed his pay as quickly as possible, moved the straw he chewed from one side of his mouth to the other. He never talked much. Men brought him their firearms to fix. Hiram listened to them tell him what the trouble was while eyeing the piece keenly. Then he’d look at Gert. She would tell them, “Come back next week.” Hiram would nod, and that was the extent of the conversation. Since his wife, Violet, had died eight years ago, the only person Hiram seemed to talk to much was Ethan.

Fennel turned toward her with a condescending smile. “Folks say you’re the best shot in Fergus, Miss Dooley.”

Gert shrugged. It wasn’t worth debating. She had sharp eyes, and she’d fired so many guns for Hiram to make sure they were in working order that she’d gotten good at it, that was all.

Ethan’s features, however, sprang to life. “Ain’t it the truth? Why, Gert can shoot the tail feathers off a jay at a hundred yards with a gun like that. Mighty fine rifle.” He nodded at Fennel’s Spencer, wincing as though he regretted not having a gun as fine.

“Well, now, I’m a fair shot myself,” Fennel said. “I could maybe hit that rag, too.”

“Let’s see you do it,” Ethan said.

Fennel jacked a cartridge into the Spencer, smiling as he did. The rag still hung limp from a notched stick and was silhouetted against the distant dirt bank across the field. He put his left foot forward and swung the butt of the stock up to his shoulder, paused motionless for a second, and pulled the trigger.

Gert watched the cloth, not the shooter. The stick shattered just at the bottom of the rag. She frowned. She’d have to find another stick next time. At least when she tested a gun, she clipped the edge of the cloth so her stand could be used again.

Hiram took the straw out of his mouth and threw it on the ground. Without a word, he strode to where the tattered red cloth lay a couple of yards from the splintered stick and brought the scrap back. He stooped for a piece of firewood from the pile he’d made before Fennel showed up. The stick he chose had split raggedly, and Hiram slid the bit of cloth into a crack.

Ethan stood beside Gert as they watched Hiram walk across the field, all the way to the dirt bank, and set the piece of firewood on end.

“Hmm.” Fennel cleared his throat and loaded several cartridges into the magazine. When Hiram was back beside them, he raised the gun again, held for a second, and fired. The stick with the bit of red stood unwavering.

“Let Gert try,” Ethan said.

“No need,” she said, looking down at her worn shoe tips peeping out beneath the hem of her skirt.

“Oh, come on.” Ethan’s coaxing smile tempted her.

Fennel held the rifle out. “Be my guest.”

Gert looked to her brother. Hiram gave the slightest nod then looked up at the sky, tracking the late afternoon sun as it slipped behind a cloud. She could do it, of course. She’d been firing guns for Hiram for ten years—since she came to Fergus and found him grieving the loss of his wife and baby. Folks had brought him more work than he could handle. They felt sorry for him, she supposed, and wanted to give him a distraction. Gert had begun test firing the guns as fast as he could fix them. She found it satisfying, and she’d kept doing it ever since. Thousands upon thousands of rounds she’d fired, from every type of small firearm, unintentionally building herself a reputation of sorts.

She didn’t usually make a show of her shooting prowess, but Fennel rubbed her the wrong way. She knew he wasn’t Hiram’s favorite patron either. He ran the Wells Fargo office now, but back when he ran the assay office, he’d bought up a lot of failed mines and grassland cheap. He owned a great deal of land around Fergus, including the spread Hiram had hoped to buy when he first came to Idaho. Distracted by his wife’s illness, Hiram hadn’t moved quickly enough to file claim on the land and had missed out. Instead of the ranch he’d wanted, he lived on his small lot in town and got by on his sporadic pay as a gunsmith.

Gert let her shawl slip from her fingers to the grass once more and took the rifle. As she focused on the distant stick of firewood, she thought, That junk of wood is you, Mr. Rich Land Stealer. And that little piece of cloth is one of your rats.

She squeezed gently. The rifle recoiled against her shoulder, and the far stick of firewood jumped into the air then fell to earth, minus the red cloth.

“Well, I’ll be.” Fennel stared at her. “Are you always this accurate?”

“You ain’t seen nothing,” Ethan assured him.

Hiram actually cracked a smile, and Gert felt the blood rush to her cheeks even though Ethan hadn’t directly complimented her. She loved to see Hiram smile, something he seldom did.

“Mind sharing your secret, Miss Dooley?” Fennel asked.

Ethan chuckled. “I’ll tell you what it is. Every time she shoots, she pretends she’s aiming at something she really hates.”

“Aha.” Fennel smiled, too. “Might I ask what you were thinking of that time, ma’am?”

Gert’s mouth went dry. Never had she been so sorely tempted to tell a lie.

“Likely it was that coyote that kilt her rooster last month,” Hiram said.

Gert stared at him. He’d actually spoken. She knew when their eyes met that her brother had known exactly what she’d been thinking.

Ethan and Fennel both chuckled.

Of course, I wouldn’t really think of killing him, Gert thought, even though he stole the land right out from under my grieving brother. The Good Book says don’t kill and don’t hate. Determined to heap coals of fire on her adversary’s head, she handed the Spencer back to him. “You’re not too bad a shot yourself, Mr. Fennel.”

His posture relaxed, and he opened his mouth all smiley, like he might say something pleasant back, but suddenly he stiffened. His eyes focused beyond Gert, toward the dirt street. “Who is that?”

Gert swung around to look as Ethan answered. “That’s Millicent Peart.”

“Don’t think I’ve seen her since last fall.” Fennel shook his head. “She sure is showing her age.”

“I don’t think Milzie came into town much over the winter,” Gert said.

For a moment, they watched the stooped figure hobble along the dirt street toward the emporium. Engulfed in a shapeless old coat, Milzie Peart leaned on a stick with each step. Her mouth worked as though she were talking to someone, but no one accompanied her.

“How long since her man passed on?” Ethan asked.

“Long time,” Gert said. “Ten years, maybe. She still lives at their cabin out Mountain Road.”

Fennel grimaced as the next house hid the retreating figure from view. “Pitiful.”

Ethan shrugged. “She’s kinda crazy, but I reckon she likes living on their homestead.”

Gert wondered how Milzie got by. It must be lonesome to have no one, not even a nearly silent brother, to talk to out there in the foothills.

“Supper in half an hour.” She turned away from the men and headed for the back porch of the little house she shared with Hiram. She hoped Fennel would take the hint and leave. And she hoped Ethan would stay for supper, but of course she would never say so.


Here is my review of this entertaining and inspiring novel:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Susan Page Davis and her publisher for sending me a copy of "The Sheriff's Surrender" 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.

I was thrilled to see “Ladies Shooting Club Book 1” on the spine of “The Sheriff’s Surrender” by Susan Page Davis. I’m not even halfway through this novel and can’t wait for the sequel! Gert Dooley is not your typical 1885 gal. Summoned to Fergus, Idaho by her pregnant sister-in-law to help her care for Gert’s brother’s home after the birth of their child, Gert arrived to find her brother, Hiram, grieving the deaths of both mother and child. Years later, she is still caring for him in his home and business. When Hiram repairs firearms, Gert does the test-shooting, and she has become a superior marksman – make that markswoman.

After the murder of the local sheriff, Hiram’s friend Ethan Chapman is appointed as interim sheriff, and Gert is sought by many of the fearful ladies in town for shooting lessons. Gert and Ethan have managed to steer clear of romance, although it’s pretty apparent that they care for each other. But now that they are working to protect the town, will they be able to keep their distance from one another?

Oh, what a novel! This book has it all – mystery and suspense, romance, cowboys and horses. WOW! The chapters are short, the story enjoyable, the murder mystery an enjoyable puzzle. There are some parts that seem a bit unnecessary at first, but prove themselves to be more than fluff as the reading progresses. I am thoroughly enjoying this book and can’t wait to see what follows.

Today's Daily Devotional


Blessed are those who walk in the light of Your presence, O Lord. They rejoice in Your name; they exult in Your righteousness. Psalm 89:15-16


06/04/09 Do you rejoice in God’s name? Do you notice that it’s somewhat more acceptable to acknowledge God than it is to mention Jesus by name? Pay attention around you. Do you notice that people don’t become so offended when someone mentions that God did something in their lives? But at the mention of Jesus, crowds can become frenzied. People become hostile. Fighting begins. You cannot mention Jesus Christ without someone getting their feathers rustled. Someone always takes offense. But one day, that beautiful name will make every knee bow. That beautiful name will force every tongue to confess that He is Lord!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Today's Daily Devotional


“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.” Hebrews 13:5-6


06/05/09 Jesus will NEVER forsake you. Forsaking is like leaving, but quite a bit more intense and pre-meditated and vicious. Jesus will NEVER abandon you. He will never discard you as if you were trash. Jesus will NEVER desert you. He will never run away and leave you all alone. Jesus will NEVER disown you. He will never refuse to acknowledge you. Jesus will NEVER renounce you. He will never reject you or deny that He knows you. Jesus will NEVER relinquish you. He will never surrender you from His care and control. Jesus will NEVER give up on you. He will never stop pushing you to finish this life strong. Jesus will NEVER turn His back on you. He will never take His eyes off of you. Jesus will ALWAYS love, comfort, forgive, acknowledge and treasure you!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Today's Daily Devotional


We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28


06/15/09 God works. He is alive and active and moving in your circumstances right now whether you currently belong to Him or not! Some may see that He uses non-believers as negative, but let me tell you that God is perfect and merciful and loving! Nothing may touch those who belong to Him without it first being sifted through His fingers. He knows everything. He uses every situation and circumstance to draw all men to Himself. He moves in ways to glorify Himself by revealing Jesus Christ. His Holy Spirit that lives inside of every believer is constantly teaching and convicting and comforting us. God does not have a calm job sitting on His throne and saying “yes”, “no” or “wait” to our prayers. He is building and training an army of Christian soldiers for spiritual warfare.

Shadow Government by Grant Jeffrey

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:


Shadow Government

WaterBrook Press (October 6, 2009)

***Special thanks to Staci Carmichael of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Grant R. Jeffrey is the internationally known prophecy researcher, Mideast expert, and author of Countdown to the Apocalypse, The New Temple and the Second Coming, The Next World War, and twenty other best-selling books. He is also the editor of the Prophecy Study Bible. His popular television program, Bible Prophecy Revealed, airs weekly on TBN. Jeffrey earned his master’s and PhD degrees from Louisiana Baptist University. He and his wife, Kaye, live in Toronto.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 6, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400074428
ISBN-13: 978-1400074426

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Part 1

TECHNOLOGY

THAT DESTROYS

YOUR PRIVACY


Chapter 1

YOU HAVE NO MORE PRIVACY

In the War Against Privacy, You Are the Target

An undeclared but very real war is being waged on your privacy and freedom. Your movements, personal communications, preferences, loyalties, habits—all these things are no longer private. And in spite of the fact that our privacy and liberty are under attack on multiple fronts, the average citizen in the Western world seems blissfully unaware of the threat.

We assume that our privacy, “the right to be left alone,” is secure. We couldn’t be more wrong. High-tech surveillance methods used by governments responding to the threats of terrorism, drug trafficking, tax evasion, and organized crime are stealing one of your most basic human rights—the right to privacy, the right to be left alone.


THE ALL-SEEING EYES


An interesting metaphor for the invasive surveillance society is found in a fascinating proposal for eighteenth-century prison reform. In 1785 philosopher and legal reformer Jeremy Bentham advocated that the English government build a state-of-the-art prison to more efficiently observe and guard dangerous prisoners with twenty-four-hour surveillance. Bentham’s proposed Panopticon prison called for the use of optical instruments and mirrors to allow a very small team of guards stationed in a central tower to observe hundreds of prisoners. Bentham’s system was designed in such a way that prisoners would never know when they were under active surveillance.

The idea was that the fear of continuous surveillance would motivate inmates to police their own behavior. Tragically, the practical application of Bentham’s nightmare vision is becoming reality in the twenty-first century. Advanced surveillance technologies available to government, corporations, and even your neighbors have created a twenty-four-hour, 365-day, total-surveillance society—the same system that would have violated the privacy of British prison inmates in 1785.

The current British home secretary, Jacqui Smith, exercises political control over all UK counterintelligence operations. This includes Scotland Yard’s

Counter Terrorism Command, the Security Service (MI5), and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British government’s global eavesdropping operation. Smith is working to establish an enormous computer database that would collect for analysis every telephone call, all Internet searches, and all e-mails being transmitted within or outside of the United Kingdom.1


Your Life on Camera

Smith’s plans are but one manifestation of the all-seeing, all-hearing surveillance. The installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in public places makes our daily activities, including our private interactions, a matter for close examination by unseen observers. My wife, Kaye, and I conducted a research trip in the United Kingdom in 2008. Although I had previously documented the massive adoption of CCTV by local councils and national authorities in the UK, I was stunned to see the extraordinary expansion of that type of surveillance. By the end of 2008, millions of CCTV cameras were monitoring the activities of every citizen and visitor in the country. The United Kingdom, the mother of Western political freedom and democracy, is now the most obsessively watched society in the West.

Surveillance cameras followed us during every step of our passage through UK customs and British immigration at Heathrow Airport. And it didn’t stop there. We were on camera as we acquired a car at the rental car agency office and as we proceeded out of the airport parking garage. As we entered the main highway, we noticed traffic-control cameras monitoring virtually every mile and covering every road, even in small towns. More than two thousand car-recognition cameras capture photos of cars, license plates, and drivers along with their passengers. Cameras recorded us as we purchased gas and food. Recent estimates by British authorities suggest that citizens and tourists alike will be captured on camera an average of five hundred times every day. Even London’s city buses are outfitted with an astonishing sixty thousand cameras, in addition to the ten thousand CCTV cameras on subway cars and trains.

But despite the almost universal presence of CCTV, even in back alleys, law enforcement authorities report that the cameras have not suppressed violent crime as much as they have displaced it. Surveillance cameras motivate criminals to move their activities a few blocks away—to a location with less-active CCTV surveillance.

A few years ago a million CCTV systems were operating in the United Kingdom. However, a 2008 article in the Guardian stated that an astounding 4.2 million CCTV cameras were being used in the surveillance of UK citizens and tourists.2


Cameras That Hear

It now goes far beyond simple cameras mounted on utility poles. Scientists have developed “listening” cameras that, paired with artificial intelligence software, recognize particular sounds such as gunshots, car crashes, and breaking glass. In response to certain sounds, the camera rotates and captures what could be a criminal or terrorist act. Despite the enormous financial cost and the invasiveness of the CCTV system, a report by the UK Home Office concluded that better street lighting is seven times more effective in preventing crime.

If watching you and listening to what you are saying is not enough, some new versions of CCTV technology enable police supervisors to confront you verbally through a speaker system. Law enforcement personnel can issue an immediate warning if they feel you are engaging in illegal behavior. And just in case all of this has not been disturbing enough for you, some UK municipalities are broadcasting local CCTV coverage on television. They ask citizens to tune in and watch so they can inform on the activities of their neighbors. Welcome to the world of block informers, a system you thought was limited to the horrors committed by the Nazis, the Soviets, and Communist China.

CCTV surveillance doesn’t end with cameras posted in public places. Miniature security cameras designed to promote safety and control crime on private property are now used for vastly expanded purposes. Companies use CCTV for the continual surveillance of employees during work-hours. They are observed at their desks, in washrooms, and throughout the office area. Employers justify the spying operations against employees, vendors, clients, customers, and visitors as a way to combat theft and industrial espionage. No matter what reasons are used to justify the surveillance, you are losing your privacy in just about every setting imaginable.

We live in a total surveillance environment that closely resembles the horror described by George Orwell in his famous novel 1984. Orwell described a future global regime composed of three totalitarian governments. In comparison to his horrific vision, computer technologies developed in the last few decades have created a daily environment far more threatening than any faced by the character Winston in 1984.


THEY KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU


The loss of privacy goes far beyond having your public activities monitored on camera. Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems, declared some time ago that “privacy is dead, deal with it.”3

There are legal means that individuals and businesses can use to acquire and store information about you, obtained from your use of the Internet and even from such ordinary activities as shopping for groceries, buying a movie ticket, or ordering items online. You might think that you don’t provide information to governments, law enforcement agencies, and marketers. However, you are dispensing vast amounts of personal information every time you use a check, credit card, or debit card. Every time you make a purchase using these forms of payment, you supply information on your bank account, financial history, buying habits, and product preferences.

It seems that no information about you is insignificant. Your Internet searches, your online shopping, the e-mails you send, and the Web sites you access—all of these are of interest to someone. The subjects that attract you, the causes you support, your brand preferences, the topics you research on the Web, your reading habits online—all of these are important to Web site operators. Everything you do on the Internet, including visiting Web sites and chat rooms, sending and receiving e-mail, researching health issues and medical questions, and shopping is permanently recorded in a computer database. Google, the most popular Internet search engine, has admitted that it gathers and stores information on every one of the more than 330 million Internet searches completed every day.

What’s more, every e-mail you’ve ever sent or received and all the online searches you have completed are available to police and intelligence agencies. Who is so careful in what they say in private e-mails that they would never include a statement that might someday be considered suspicious to certain government authorities? And who considers the potential damage to their future career plans or credit rating that could result from research they have done using the Internet? For example, an innocent medical search to gain information about a disease such as Alzheimer’s, even if you are doing the research for a relative or friend, could be accessed by an investigator during a background check when you apply for a job. Even the possibility of a link between a prospective employee and a devastating disease could be sufficient cause to reject your employment application.4


Your Entire History on Exhibit

Attacks on privacy are not new. Beginning in 1917, after destroying the first elected government of Russia, the new communist dictatorship of Lenin began a process of secret police surveillance of its entire society. Even in the democratic nations of the West, government intelligence and police agencies created a surveillance system to monitor citizens’ activities. Prior to this war on privacy, only the few individuals suspected of criminal activity, sabotage, or sedition were considered worthy of police surveillance. But now, with rapid advances in sophisticated surveillance devices and computer technologies, most national governments have developed an intense interest in every citizen. Governments gather enormous amounts of previously private information on the assets, activities, communications, financial transactions, health, and political and religious activities of virtually every person on earth—and with relative ease.

Many military intelligence agencies, government agencies, and large corporations have introduced sophisticated security systems requiring employees to wear a badge containing a radio frequency identification microchip. This RFID chip enables companies, agencies, and organizations to monitor the location and activity of every worker during every moment he or she is on the premises. When an employee enters the office, a computer records the exact time and begins monitoring his or her every move throughout the day. Security sensors at strategic locations throughout the office complex record the location and duration of the activities of the badge wearer.

Many office phone systems monitor all private phone calls made by employees while at work. Computerized phone systems maintain a permanent record of all known phone numbers of clients, customers, and vendors. If an employee places a personal call, the phone system records the unauthorized number and produces a report of the employee’s private calls, along with the duration of such calls. This data can be used against the employee at the next performance evaluation.5

It’s interesting that U.S. corporations are using secret employee surveillance more than businesses in any other nation. The American Civil Liberties Union has warned, “Criminals have more privacy rights than employees. Police have to get a court order [to eavesdrop on suspected criminals], whereas in the workplace, surveillance can be conducted without safeguards.”6 Computer network security supervisors in many companies go as far as to monitor the keystrokes and productivity of all employees who use a computer in their work. Employees often complain about the stress they experience knowing they are being monitored constantly throughout the day. In many companies, computer spy ware monitors an employee’s Internet activities. Add to this the growing use of random drug testing, secret cameras in washrooms, and intrusive psychological questionnaires. The bottom line is that companies are creating an adversarial and unhealthy psychological environment for workers.

You should be appalled to know that your local and state police, federal intelligence agencies, government officials, employers, and even curious neighbors and business competitors can acquire virtually all of your private information. A record of your travel destinations, the newspapers and books you read, your video rentals, your pay-TV choices, your traffic tickets, your medical tests, as well as your private purchases are recorded in computer files. Anyone with enough computer knowledge can access your information, legally or not.

There is a growing public awareness and concern about the numerous attacks on our privacy through the misuse of computer records. However, the United States Congress and Canada’s Parliament have failed to enact serious laws to protect the privacy of citizens’ medical, criminal, and financial records.


Your Secret Life Now on Camera

Security companies that work under contract for large corporations have found ways to make use of advances in surveillance devices. Virtually invisible pinhole cameras can be placed behind a wall to monitor everything that goes on in an adjacent room, both visually and audibly. The tiny lens, which is the size of a pinhead, is unnoticeable. Infrared cameras can record images silently and in near-total darkness. Another type of surveillance camera can be concealed in a mobile telephone, recording events through the tiny hole normally used for the microphone. This tool often is used for industrial espionage, stealing trade secrets from a competitor. It is also useful in gaining the upper hand in business negotiations. For example, during a face-to-face meeting in a protracted negotiation, the user of the cell phone can leave the phone in the boardroom when he exits to take a break. As the other team discusses their strategy, supposedly in private, the cell phone is recording the conversation.

Surveillance devices are also being used much more widely by individuals. For several hundred dollars, you can obtain a device that enables you to monitor every conversation that takes place in your home or office while you are away. A remote monitoring device known as the XPS-1000 allows you to listen to conversations in your office or home by using the telephone. From a remote location, you dial your phone number using a secret activation code. The phone will not ring, but from that moment on, you can monitor every sound in the room where the phone is located. Another tiny device, a micro transmitter powered for three months by a miniature battery, can be left in any room and will broadcast for a distance of up to one thousand yards to a hidden radio receiver–tape recorder.

While fascinating, the miniaturization of cameras, microphones, and recording devices has stolen what was left of our privacy. If a person is determined to monitor your activities, you can’t prevent it. You can try to guard your privacy by using a software program or device designed to protect your communications. But in doing so, you will have inadvertently alerted intelligence agencies and private investigators that you have something worth keeping private. This may cause them to increase the level of surveillance in an attempt to discover why you want to avoid it.


Abuse of Legitimate Data

All U.S. intelligence agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), can access data from the National Identification Center to identify and monitor every registered gun owner in the United States. However, we have to ask this question: what else will government agencies pursue using legitimate and legally acquired data?

Two of America’s most secretive agencies, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the National Security Agency (NSA), maintain a massive global surveillance system known as Project Echelon. This system can monitor every telephone call, fax, Internet search, and e-mail transmission worldwide. (We will look more closely at the remarkable capabilities of this massive surveillance system in chapter 5.) We need to face the sobering truth that we can’t escape the growing surveillance capabilities of all governments, both East and West. These developments turn our attention to the last-days prophecy from the book of Revelation about a coming totalitarian police system. John warned that a person’s every activity will be controlled: “That no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name”

(Revelation 13:17). Remarkably, John was describing a universal population control system that would impose some kind of numerical identification on every person in order to monitor his or her financial transactions, trade, business, and ability to buy and sell. This system will enable law enforcement authorities working for the Antichrist and his partner, the False Prophet (see Revelation 13:16), to control the world’s population through a unique ID, based on the number 666, on everyone’s right hand or forehead. The recent subcutaneous pet identification chips could easily be inserted in each human being.


WHO WANTS TO CONTROL YOU?


Government authorities, national security agencies, and businesses that market and sell consumer products know far more about you than most of your friends and family will ever know. People you will never meet have compiled personal information about the details of your daily life, place of residence, type of residence, spending habits, and financial assets. Government agencies justify the invasion of your privacy by reminding us of the threats posed by international terrorism, organized crime, the influx of illegal immigrants, and citizens who defraud the government as welfare cheats or tax evaders.

The NSA possesses detailed records of millions of U.S. citizens, including your communications, health status, medical treatments, employment status, vehicle ownership, driving record, criminal record, and real-estate holdings. In addition, all of your credit records, banking and financial transactions, credit rating, educational transcripts, and travel records are available to many major corporations and government research institutes.

Your life is also of great interest to foreign governments. Most of the Western democratic governments, as well as the governments of China and Russia, are thought to maintain enormous computer databases filled with details about millions of U.S. citizens. Data storage is just the first step. Next will be the most effective ways to organize, categorize, and use this private information. This hurdle will be removed when the government assigns a unique identification number to each citizen. Once that is accomplished, the staggering number of separate files on individual citizens in various databases can be combined into a single massive intelligence file. (We will talk more about this process in chapter 3.)

A confirmation of the consolidation of citizen data was publicized in the Canadian press on May 19, 2000. The Canadian government reluctantly confirmed that up to two thousand significant pieces of information had been assembled on virtually every Canadian citizen in a massive database known as the Longitudinal Labor Force File. As a result of strident public criticism following these revelations, the Canadian government promised to destroy the computer program that linked these files. However, the federal government admitted they still will retain computer data on more than thirty million Canadians— data that are retained in separate computer files held by a variety of government departments, including the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Immigration, and provincial police forces.7


A SECRET CHIP IN YOUR CREDIT CARDS


Your credit and debit cards are much more than a convenient way to pay for goods and services. The magnetic strip on a credit card or debit card holds electronic data verifying your identity, as well as information validating your right to access particular computer databases, such as your bank accounts. More and more, these cards are being replaced by higher-security smart cards that contain even more information about you. A smart card contains an embedded RFID chip capable of holding millions of times more digital information than is contained in a card’s magnetic strip.

Smart cards provide high levels of security, since they are capable of storing biometric information, such as the iris pattern in the eye of the authorized user. These new cards will document the user’s identity by measuring 173 distinct characteristics from the rings, burrows, and filaments within the iris. The stored data is compared with an iris scan made by a surveillance camera that can read your iris pattern from a distance of several yards.

Other identifying data include your precise hand geometry, which involves identifying you by measuring the length of your fingers and the translucence and thickness of your skin. Infrared scanners can reveal and record the patterns of veins on your palm or the back of your hand. Voice-recognition software can confirm your identity through digital measurement of your voice tone and timbre. Incredibly, a new machine can puff air over the back of your hand, analyze your subtle body odors, and detect as many as thirty separate trace chemical elements that supply a positive identification reading.8 All of this data, and more, can be stored in an RFID chip.

Soon you will be able to replace your credit and debit cards with one very secure smart card that is virtually immune to counterfeiting and attacks by hackers. The data will be encrypted, and your unique passwords—including biometric information—will be required for you to use the card. More than two and a half billion radio frequency smart cards now in use worldwide can perform these functions:

cash transactions such as rechargeable stored-value cards that carry a predetermined monetary value
confidential transferring of medical data to paramedics and hospital in the event of a medical crisis
control of entry into high-security workplaces and computer systems
access to air travel as well as to trains, subways, and buses


These are some of the benefits of the smart card.9However, the growing use of RFID cards will make it possible for government, police, and intelligence agencies to track the activities, location, communications, and financial transactions of every citizen from cradle to grave.


AN INTERNATIONAL STANDARD FOR PRIVACY


Growing concerns over privacy have motivated representatives of member nations of the European Union (EU) to create an international standard for privacy. The basic rules are as follows:

All privacy regulations apply to both government and private organizations.
Data collection should be limited to that which can be obtained legally and with the knowledge and consent of the citizen subject, except where this is impossible or inappropriate (e.g., criminals).
Data sought on individuals should be limited to the original purpose and kept up to date. The purpose of data collection should be specified, and subsequent use of data should be limited to the original purpose.
No personal data should be disclosed to others without the consent of the subject or without a court order.
All personal data must be kept secure using all reasonable precautions.
All citizens should be able to access, review, and challenge inaccurate data held in databases.
The government agency controller of the database should be legally and criminally accountable for abiding by these privacy principles.
The policies and practices of organizations holding databases on individuals should reveal the information to those who legally inquire.
Private data collected by EU member corporations and states may not be transmitted to organizations in nations that do not have privacy regulations equal to those of the European Union.10


The introduction of similar legislation in America, Canada, and other democratic nations could provide significant protection against the abuse of our privacy. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is an international group of twenty-nine developed nations from North America, Europe, and Asia that has suggested the creation of powerful, binding privacy standards for both governments and businesses.11

The reality is that the growing attacks on our personal security are rapidly overwhelming the proposed defenses. One potential solution is to use a smart stored-value card that would allow a person to make a payment while the card restricts the merchant from accessing the purchaser’s identity. The card would also prevent merchants and anyone receiving an electronic funds transfer from tracking previous purchases made by that customer. For example, a smart card developed by Mondex International allows customers to transfer funds from their card to a merchant’s account to make a purchase. However, when the merchant’s bank accepts the transfer of funds to cover purchases made using Mondex cards, the bank is not able to identify the actual purchasers. A similar system is used by Visa International in its Visa cash card. The disposable card does not permit merchants to identify the person who used the card.


WHAT YOU CAN DO


There are hopeful signs that, after years of indifference to the threats to our privacy and financial security, the public is awakening to the heightened dangers posed by new surveillance technologies.

When it was revealed that Intel Corporation had embedded in every Pentium III chip a secret serial number that would allow the person using the computer to be identified, customers and privacy groups launched a protest.12 Additionally, Microsoft had embedded a hidden identification number in all documents produced by any computer using Microsoft software. The protests that followed forced the company to provide a free software program that eliminated the identifying number.13 However, the vast majority of computer users of Microsoft software are unaware of the privacy problem, and most lack the expertise to fix it.

If we are to protect what little privacy we still have, we should encourage a healthy debate about the relative advantages and disadvantages of each new technological development. Citizen involvement and thoughtful protest against the governmental and corporate threats to our privacy can slow down this relentless attack. We need to defend our right to maintain a personal life that is free from outside interference and intrusion.

Still, in violation of constitutional guarantees to the contrary, our society continues to move toward an all-encompassing surveillance society, which is described in the prophecies of the book of Revelation. We will live to see the time when our right to privacy and the freedom to be left alone are nothing more than distant memories.


Here is my review of this interesting book:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Grant Jeffrey and his publisher for sending me a copy of "Shadow Government" 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.

Conspiracy Theory with Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts is one of my favorite all-time films. When I was presented with the opportunity to preview “Shadow Government” by Grant R. Jeffrey, my mind began to fill with moments from that movie. The idea of a government entity performing covert operations to spy on ordinary citizens without anyone’s knowledge is intriguing and appeals to the part of me that loves a well-orchestrated suspense read.

What I found in this book, however, was not an entertaining work of fiction, but rather a warning from an internationally known prophecy expert. Tying what he believes is evidence that high-tech covert surveillance exists to Biblical prophecy of the end times is what the author has defined as his purpose. Although I don’t agree with much of what he writes, I found his book intellectually stimulating and it made me want to dive into the scriptures to research end times prophecy. This book is definitely not a replacement for the Bible, and shouldn’t be treated as the final authority on end times prophecy. And, although it was an interesting read, I probably won’t recommend it to many since I don't believe that the average Christian can handle this subject matter with the maturity required to avoid panic.

Rather than becoming paranoid about what may or may not be the truth, we should saturate ourselves in God’s Word and get to know Jesus so well that we will have His wisdom and discernment to protect us when these times come.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Today's Daily Devotional


You alone are the Lord. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship You. Nehemiah 9:6


06/23/09 God gave life to everything. He gave life to all plants, to Adam, Eve, the first animals and fish and insects and lizards…everything. I still don’t understand the unique function of scorpions and mosquitoes, but I can ask about that when I see Him face-to-face. He gave me life. And He gave life to my two kids. That wasn’t my doing no matter how much I would like to take credit for it (or not). He gave life to the dogs I currently care for and all of the dogs I don’t feed myself. He will give life to all of the future generations until the day of judgment when all people enter where they will spend eternity. And all of us who enter heaven can be thankful every day that we are there because He gave us eternal life, too.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Today's Daily Devotional


You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the rock eternal. Isaiah 26:3-4


06/22/09 Trust in the Lord is of paramount importance if you are going to experience God’s perfect peace and have a steadfast mind. You cannot have trust issues with God and have His peace at the same time. You must trust that what He is doing is good, no matter how bad you perceive the situation to be. You also cannot have trust issues with God and a steadfast mind. The very nature of steadfastness implies trust! This verse even says that this person’s mind is steadfast because he trusts in the Lord! Trust doesn’t come easy for me. I tend to expect the worst and hope for the best. But Jesus has proven Himself to me over and over again. He has never left me, never forsaken me, and He’s held me tightest at my lowest moments. Trust Him.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My First TransSiberian Orchestra Concert


What a wonderful experience! Their music is amazing! Their showmanship, unmatched! As a native New Yorker, the Christmas season begins with Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and was marked at some point by The Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. But I have been transplanted in the west for a very long time now. Many traditions have been lost solely by proximity.

I have heard others rave about the TSO show in Las Vegas for years, but have never attended. I have loved their music for as long as I can remember, and have watched their Christmas special on PBS for several years, now.

But since I've seen them live, I cannot go back. I now have my new Christmas tradition. Count on seeing me with tickets in hand, waiting to get in the door whenever they are in town!

There was no bad seat for this show inside the Orleans Arena. But we had the BEST seats - 2nd tier, straight across the arena from the stage! A bit far away, but you saw everything without having to turn your head.

And the show was a true spectacular! We got so much more than our money's worth! These men and women played music for over two hours!!! WOW! I am completely blown away! I hope they make a stop in Vegas for their Spring "Night Castle" Tour.

Today's Daily Devotional


Serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14


06/19/09 Serve one another in love. That is a powerful statement. We discussed serving last time. Who is “one another”? Everyone? Other Christians? When I read the word “neighbor”, I was reminded of the story Jesus told about the good Samaritan. Samaritans were considered half-breeds and Jews wouldn’t associate with them. But, if you recall Jesus’ story, the Samaritan man – an outcast – was the only one who stopped to help the man on the side of the road who was beaten. A few other statements come to mind: Christians will be identifiable by their love for each other; we are supposed to love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us. Serve everyone – especially Christian brothers and sisters – and honor the Lord by treating His kids – and prospective kids – well.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Today's Daily Devotional


I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14


06/19/09 We are fearfully made. What does that mean? When I read this verse today, I was reminded that we are supposed to “fear” the Lord. No, this doesn’t mean that we are supposed to walk around constantly on eggshells afraid of God. It means that we are to respect Him. We are to be in awe of Him. So, if “fear” means awe and respect in that sense, maybe it means the same thing when we talk about being fearfully made. God respects His creation. He took great care in knitting us together. He planned every detail of our functionality. He made each of us unique and beautiful and wonderful. We’ll talk about that more at another time. Our Creator is a master craftsman. Take a few minutes to thank Him for how He made you.

Bible Study: As It Was In The Beginning - Genesis - Chapter 6


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Genesis. 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 Genesis Chapter 6. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…



6:4 – Nephilim (Numbers 13:31-33) had children with human women: heroes. These beings were wiped out in the flood. (See Genesis 7:22)

6:5-6 – we broke God’s heart.

6:9-7:4 – God gave Noah instruction on how to build and fill the ark. Once “Noah did everything just as God commanded him” (6:22), the Lord added a bit to the instruction: 5 more of each of the clean animals. (For sacrifices? For food?) After telling Noah to procure these new beasts, God gave Noah a deadline: seven days (7:4). Then, the Lord would open the floodgates! Notice the Lord didn’t give the deadline until the majority of the task was complete. Notice also that the Lord didn’t give the complete task up front. When Noah finished what God gave him to do, God gave him further instructions.

6:9 – Noah walked with God – “two can walk together only if they agree (see Amos 3:3)” (Explore the Bible, Winter 2007-2008, Genesis)

6:14 – ark – the same word used to describe the basket Moses was placed in. (See Exodus 2:3, 5) (NIVSB)



What attributes of God have you observed in your study today? How will this change your relationship with Him?