Monday, January 31, 2011

REVIEW: www.chemocare.com

During my cancer journey, I discovered Scott Hamilton’s cancer website – www.chemocare.com. There was lots of information about chemotherapy drugs and lots of encouragement to be found there. The site became incredibly valuable when the chemo drugs my doctor prescribed were unavailable, so he changed the drug. I went onto the Chemocare website and got information about the new drug, how it works, side effects, etc. So, when I met with my doctor, I was prepared for my first chemo treatment. I recommend anyone who will undergo chemotherapy to bookmark this site.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bible Study: Coming Out Of Bondage - Exodus - Chapter 15


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Exodus. 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 Exodus Chapter 15. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…



15:13-18 – The statements made by Moses here seem to parallel the Lord’s 7 “I will” promises from 6:6-8.

15:16 – The Lord bought the Israelites!

15:19-21 – Why would the Lord reiterate what happened to Pharaoh’s chariots and Israel at the Red Sea, now? Because Miriam’s song in vv. 20-21 is about the event described in 15:19.

15:22-23 – God’s pillars of cloud and fire led the Israelites to encounter desert without water and then to bitter waters so He could be glorified.

15:22-27 – Marah means bitter. Elim means trees.

15:22 – three days without water.

15:25 – the tree was baptized. It soaked up the bitterness leaving the water sweet. See 1 Peter 2:24.

15:26 – Jehovah-Rophe – The Lord who heals. God heals us of all diseases – including bitterness. The Israelites had much to be bitter about, but God introduces Himself as their Healer early on in this journey perhaps in the hopes that they will call on Him as Healer when their bitterness starts to manifest itself.

15:27 – the numerological significance of 12 (springs) and 70 (trees) is as follows:

The number twelve, being the product of three and four, typified the union of the people with God. On the table were twelve loaves of show-bread, and the breastplate of the priest contained twelve precious stones as emblems of the twelve tribes of Israel, which camped round about the Sanctuary.

The number seven was the general symbol for all association with God, and was the favorite religious number of Judaism, typifying the covenant of holiness and sanctification, and also all that was holy and sanctifying in purpose. The candlestick had seven lamps, and the acts of atonement and purification were accompanied by a sevenfold sprinkling. The establishment of the Sabbath, the Sabbatical year, and the year of jubilee was based on the number seven, as were the periods of purification and of mourning.

The number ten symbolized absolute completeness. The court to the Tabernacle was ten times ten ells long, and five times ten ells wide, and in the Holy of Holies the Ten Commandments were preserved.


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

Fatal Judgment by Irene Hannon


"Extraordinary writing . . . a not-to-be-missed reading experience."--RT Book Reviews on Against All Odds (4 1/2 stars, Top Pick)

U.S. Marshal Jake Taylor has seen plenty of action during his years in law enforcement. But he'd rather go back to Iraq than face his next assignment: protection detail for federal judge Liz Michaels. His feelings toward the coldhearted workaholic haven't warmed in the five years since she drove her husband--and Jake's best friend--to despair . . . and possible suicide.

As the danger mounts and Jake gets to know Liz better, he's forced to revise his opinion of her. And when it becomes clear that an unknown enemy may want her dead, the stakes are raised. Because now both her life--and his heart--are in danger.

Full of suspense and romance, Fatal Judgment is a thrilling story that will keep you turning the pages late into the night.

Endorsements
Praise for the books of Irene Hannon
"Fast-paced crime drama with an aside of romance . . . [and] an ever-climactic mystery. Hannon's tale is engagingly sure-footed."--Publishers Weekly

"Hannon is a master at character development."--Library Journal

"Superbly written."--Booklist


Here is my review of this fantastic suspense novel:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Irene Hannon and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Fatal Judgment" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

Irene Hannon has proven herself over and over again to be a masterful storyteller. Her latest novel, “Fatal Judgment”, maintains the elevated standard that I have come to associate with this incredible author’s name. The first book in the Guardians of Justice Series begins with a U.S. Marshal being assigned to protective detail of a Federal Judge.

Jake Taylor has had a long day, and it’s about to get longer. An attempted murder has taken place, leaving the sister of Federal Judge Elizabeth Michaels in surgery and fighting for her life. Jake’s job is to protect the judge. But can he do that when he blames her for the death of his best friend? Liz never thought she would lay eyes on Jake Taylor again. But his eyes hold the same contempt that they did five years ago at her husband’s funeral. Why does Jake hate her so? And can she trust him to protect her from a domestic criminal?

This masterfully plotted suspense novel is a high octane roller coaster ride from cover to cover. The characters move with anticipation as the story unfolds on the page. Irene Hannon entertains the reader by igniting a sense of expectation and hope. The characters and story are so well-written that they will restore faith in the reader that second chances at love and in life do exist.

The Shelter of God's Promises by Sheila Walsh

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Sheila Walsh and her publisher for sending me a copy of "The Shelter of God's Promises" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Sheila Walsh book. And after simply thumbing through the table of contents of her latest project, I totally wonder why. “The Shelter of God’s Promises” is a book that should be read by every Christian. Not only is the average believer unaware of what God’s promises are, but the promises we think we know, we have a difficult time explaining to others. In this non-fiction work, Sheila Walsh opens up ten of God’s promises directly from His Word and applies them to daily life.

The in-depth Bible study found in the back of the book asks pointed questions that help the student to discover the truths of these promises for themselves in God’s Word. Sheila Walsh’s writing style is both candid and compassionate, having experienced what she is writing on the page and desiring to share with transparency how believers can overcome whatever the troubling circumstance happens to be and apply the truth of the Bible to their own lives. The text is easy to read and understand. This is a wonderful book to use for personal growth, a book group or a Bible study. I certainly won’t allow so much time to pass before I read another Sheila Walsh book.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Beating Cancer by Francisco Contreras, M.D. and Daniel Kennedy, MC

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 authors are:


and the book:


Beating Cancer: Twenty natural, spiritual, and medical remedies that can slow--and even reverse--cancer's progression

Siloam (January 4, 2011)

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:


Francisco Contreras, MD, is director, president, and chairman of the Oasis of Hope Hospital, a cancer-care facility in Mexico widely known for integrative treatment methods, and the new Oasis of Hope California (45 minutes south of Los Angeles). A distinguished oncologist and surgeon, Dr. Contreras is also a lecturer and the author of The Hope of Living Long and Well, Health in the 21st Century, A Healthy Heart, and The Hope of Living Cancer Free.

Visit the author's website.


Daniel Kennedy, MC, has a master’s degree in counseling and partnered with Crystal Cathedral Ministries and Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship to found Worldwide Cancer Prayer Day after his father was healed of cancer. He also holds a Master’s of Business Administration and serves as chief executive officer of the Oasis of Hope Hospital, directing and implementing its mission to improve the physical, emotional, and spiritual lives of cancer patients. As overseer of counseling at Oasis of Hope, he has developed psychological and spiritual programs for patients that complement the hospital’s integrative medical therapy.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DISCRIPTION:

You are not powerless over cancer. Dr. Francisco Contreras and Daniel Kennedy offer practical and empowering scientific information that will give you hope as they explain twenty specific things you can do to improve your chance of slowing and even reversing its progression in your body.

You’ll discover:

How to lower your cancer mortality risk by 60 percent

The anticancer medicine in every produce aisle When chemo is effective—and when it isn’t

Which drugs give you temporary relief—but can cause long-term problems

How conventional and alternative medicine can work together to fight cancer


Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Siloam (January 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381566
ISBN-13: 978-1616381561

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


I(Francisco Contreras) must have been daydreaming, but the vision in my mind certainly seemed real. I saw a beautiful tenyear-old girl staring at me over the nameplate on my desk: Dr. Francisco Contreras, Surgical Oncologist.“My name is Sarah. Who are you?”

“I am Dr. Contreras,” I replied. “And who are you?”At that point I quickly reviewed Sarah’s case notes and began to interview her and her parents. Ever since Sarah first noticed a big lump on her arm a year or so before, she had spent more time in medical institutions than at school or at home. She had already endured one surgery, after which she had hoped that everything would again be all right.Yet her parents still acted strangely when she was around. They weren’t as strict as they’d once been, and they spent many hours behind closed doors crying. Sarah began to wonder if the big term the doctor had used to explain her problem had upset her parents. It took her weeks to learn

how to pronounce and spell it: non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Whatever it was, Sarah knew it wasn’t good. Her parents told her, “The doctors are offering you chemotherapy, but they said it wouldn’t help you much. What do you want to do?” “I know I am in God’s hands, and I have peace,” Sarah replied. Her parents decided to look for a different approach. That is when Sarah became our patient at Oasis of Hope.“Dr. Contreras . . . Dr. Contreras . . . Dr. Contreras . . . ” Suddenly, I snapped out of my daydream in response to the voice of an angelic vision of beauty standing before me dressed in a wedding gown. It was Sarah! “Can it be true that twelve years have passed since God delivered Sarah from cancer?” I asked myself. My wife and I then took our seats to witness one of the most inspiring weddings we have ever attended.


All of Sarah’s family and friends were there. We were sitting in the next-to-the-last pew, where I suddenly found myself crying so uncontrollably I began to worry that I’d use up all the moisture in my body. The joy I felt was overwhelming.


Soon Sarah stood at the altar with the young man of her dreams, who immediately became the envy of every bachelor who had ever met Sarah. I only wished that I had a son old enough to marry this lovely, talented, sweet young woman, thus bringing her forever into my own family!


Sarah credits God, her parents, and my father, Dr. Ernesto Contreras Sr., for her victory over cancer. She is right to do so, but I would add to that list her own determination, starting when she was just a little girl. She now is a college graduate and serves the Lord with her husband, who is the pastor of their youth group. They also have a precious little boy.


How was she able to overcome the insurmountable? Four words come to mind: openness, flexibility, adaptability, and commitment. Sarah and her parents looked beyond the tunnel-vision, chemotherapeutic attack on cancer that had already failed. They opened themselves up to other options. They were flexible and willing to try new treatments. They were able to adapt to different circumstances.


Above all else, they were totally committed to seeing Sarah well again. And perhaps all of that, taken together, explains why they were able to embrace an eclectic, multifaceted approach that depended on them every bit as much as it did on the doctors.


It All Begins With Philosophy


Sometimes chemotherapy and radiation work, and sometimes they don’t. If you and your doctor subscribe to the philosophy that you will have no hope if the medicine doesn’t work, then you won’t have any such hope. Your philosophy will either limit your possibilities or open them up.



My point is that everything begins and ends with philosophy—the paradigm by which we frame every aspect of our existence, the filter that helps us to decide how and what we think. If you doubt, simply consider the entire academic world. It doesn’t matter what field a person might choose; the highest degree is a Doctor of Philosophy (abbreviated as

PhD). You can get a PhD in immunology, anthropology, mathematics, literature, and many other disciplines as well.


Perhaps as a natural consequence, the philosophy of medicine, as birthed in the early twentieth century, has evolved into the treatment paradigm of the twenty-first century. Think about that for a moment! The twentieth century was an era of scientific breakthrough and technological advance, yet we began it without electricity, television, airplanes, and computers.


The scientific and technological revolutions of the twentieth century had a profound impact on the medical field as well. Scientists developed an arsenal of pharmaceuticals designed to address just about every pathogen. Meanwhile, even as I write these words, new technologies such as lasers, 3-D imaging devices, proton therapy, robotic surgery,

DNA laboratory exams, cyberknives, and fiber-optic cameras are assisting physicians in the field. The results of all these advances have been impressive.


For example, acute medicine is now at the top of its game. Doctors can save life and limb in ways never before thought possible. If Humpty Dumpty had been brought to a modern trauma center, he would have gone back together in no time at all.


In addition, once-complex medical procedures such as angioplasty and open-heart surgery have now become routine. People don’t fret anywhere near as much as they used to when they go under the knife. Technology has transformed the operating room into a much more controlled environment than ever before.


Overall, we owe the scientific method for most of the important advances in medicine. Science has awed all of us at one time or another, and it continues to do so on a regular basis. The development of scientific methodology has evolved to such an extent that not even the sky is the limit anymore. In fact, every month I put some money in my piggybank because I want to go on the first commercial trip to outer space!


Inner space has been no match for scientific methodology either. It took less than two decades for scientists to unravel the trillions of letters of the human genome, the code of life.


Again, most projects like that have conquered outer and inner space because of vision, intelligence, planning, and perseverance, combined with adequate funding and strict adherence to scientific methods. Thus many tasks once thought impossible have now been made almost routine.


But somewhere in the shadow of all these scientific victories, cancer still lurks as the unconquered enemy. Hundreds of years after it was first identified, cancer in most (or all) of its forms still manages to evade, elude, and confound the best efforts of the best scientists.


The old Way Just Doesn’t Work!


When faced with monumental challenges, scientists of all disciplines must first learn all they can about what they want to conquer—the moon, bacteria, or cancer. Experts of all disciplines generally evaluate each challenge through a process called SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). They analyze everything on both sides of the

equation, including their own SWOTs, before they can hope to map out a strategic action plan.


As in conventional warfare, scientific theory says that the side with more strengths and opportunities should overcome the side with the most weaknesses and the least chance to evade and avoid threats. Yet until now, cancer has defied everything that science has thrown at it. It has dodged or defeated every hopeful advance. After four decades of

tireless efforts by countless scientists around the world spending hundreds of billions of research dollars, the conquest of cancer still seems out of reach.


Is all this true because the scientific method is not as effective as we once thought? Or is it because cancer’s strengths are insurmountable?


My answer to both questions is an emphatic no! I am convinced that tackling cancer from a different perspective will generate positive results. Current treatment and research paradigms have literally become the problem, as embodied within two fundamental aspects of that framework: (1) the methods and (2) the goals of modern research.


Many of the treatments being explored today do not have as their goal a complete cure for cancer. Instead, the goal is a drug treatment to hinder and slow the progress of this dreaded disease. While drug treatments can lessen the impact of cancer, making it a chronic disease that does not end in death, it is important to remember that there are no

“magic bullets.”


Put another way, I feel the goal of pharmaceutical companies and the


U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to isolate the single agent that could bring about “the cure.” But cancer has many different causes. Therefore there is no one substance that will cure it in all instances and in all people. We must use great caution when applying new drug therapies and never forget the need for personally tailored medical treatment. Will Health-Care reform Be the Answer?


I’m sure that with the health-care reform currently being enacted, more Americans will have access to medical management, but inevitably it also means that the care will be diluted. For instance, in England many drugs available in the United States are off limits, and waiting time for doctor’s appointments, scheduled scans and surgeries, etc. are quite long. Now more than ever we should take responsibility for our health and do all we can to prevent loss of our health through preventive measures in order to depend as little as possible on government health-care systems.


Health-care reform is a topic that I watch carefully. I am always on alert of how government regulation will limit or improve my ability to help patients beat cancer. I believe that many more people could be cured of cancer just through health-care reform. I am tempted to get excited when I hear politicians begin to take on the challenge of reforming how health care is delivered. But the sad reality is that it really isn’t about health-care reform. It is really about payer reform, that is to say, who is going to pay, how it will be paid, and what will be paid for.


When the focus is about the payment of health care, the care made available to patients usually is brought down to the least common denominator. I have seen this firsthand in Mexico where medicine is socialized, which means the government runs the hospitals and everybody has equal access to health care. But the reality is that while everybody has

equal access, not everybody has access to equal levels of treatment. To get the latest cancer treatments, which are always the most expensive drugs, only people who can go outside of the system and pay cash will have the chance to get those treatments. The government-run hospitals have limited resources that have to be spread out to cover everybody. This limits patients’ access to the best treatments.


Imagine that you have prepared soup for ten people, but one hundred arrived, and you have no more ingredients. You may have to add a lot of water. Now the nutritional value each of the one hundred receives is far less than what the original ten would have received. Watered-down health care is what will be delivered if the focus on health-care reform continues to be about who will pay what.


The health-care reform that we need should be focused on health. We need to start changing our research funding policies. Today, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), dedicates less than 2 percent of its budget to researching how to prevent cancer. This is tragic because every year, the incidence of cancer increases. The amount of money spent on treatment continues to

balloon because more and more people are getting sick. The true cure to cancer is to never get it at all. If more research dollars were spent on prevention, and preventative measures were found and implemented, there would be hope for fewer people ever getting cancer. The money spent on treatment would then decline and the vicious cycle could be broken.


The other shift in research that is needed is for fewer studies to be done on drug therapies and more studies to be done on natural therapies. I am enthusiastic because there are more studies underway in the arena of natural therapies at major institutions than ever before.


The biggest way to improve how patients are treated would be to do away with malpractice insurance. The best high-wire artists have always been the ones who have walked that narrow path without a safety net. If a doctor is treating you without the malpractice safety net, he or she will spend more time with you to make sure you receive the highest quality of care as well as the friendliest care. But listen, I am a doctor, so I

am not coming against doctors with this suggestion. I am really against the system that rewards money for improper or negligent health care. It should not be about the money. It should be about the quality of health care. If a patient or the family member feels that the care was negligent or even criminal, the claim should be made to the medical boards and

it should be about the physician’s license, not about cash awards. If the medical board would find the doctor guilty of malpractice, his or her license could be revoked or suspended until the physician received further training and correction. This would bring the focus back to health care, not money.


Even as I am writing this, I am just two days away from a visit from Patch Adams to the Oasis of Hope. In his dream hospital, no doctor would ever be allowed to carry malpractice insurance. He believes that doctors must become real friends with a patient and that a patient would never sue the doctor if they knew that the doctor really cared for them. Patch and I will have a conversation on camera on the healing power of the doctor-patient relationship, and by the time this book gets into your hand, you will be able to see the video online at www.oasisofhope.com. Please visit the website and watch the video. I am sure that it will be quite interesting.


Where Are We going, and How Will We get There?


In the spring of 2004, Fortune magazine featured a riveting cover of solid black with a big red headline: “Why We Are Losing the War Against Cancer.” The subtitle added, “And How We Can Win It.” My immediate reaction was to wonder why they had taken such a negative approach. I was well aware of how badly we need to get the upper hand, but even I was shocked to read their inside information on cancer research.


The author explained that more than $14 billion in private and government funds are spent in America every year on searching for the cure, but little progress has been made. Each research project is managed independently, and the various research centers do not share information with one another.


Remember the story of the six blind men trying to describe an elephant? Each man touches a different part of the elephant, such as the leg, tail, and tusk. They then describe the elephant based on the one part that they felt and discover they completely disagree with each other. The story illustrates the misconceptions that can come about when a

person’s perspective is limited to one small piece of a bigger picture. Clearly, no one in cancer research is working with the big picture. And yet, according to Fortune, we could win the war against cancer if the National Institutes of Health would obligate researchers to share information and coordinate their efforts.


Sadly, I agree that more information sharing would be beneficial, but I doubt that one single remedy would be enough. The more basic problem is that researchers are starting from the wrong place, and they’re aiming for a destination that probably doesn’t exist. Let me repeat what I hope I have already made plain: I don’t think the cure to cancer exists in the form of one substance, technique, or apparatus. I do believe that cancer can be defeated, but only through a multifaceted, eclectic approach.


Let me rephrase this in simpler terms. The search for a magic bullet is a waste of time and resources. It is tantamount to chasing rainbows, hoping to find that elusive pot of gold at the end.


Such an approach reminds me of the always-broke investors who aim only for the “big score,” in contrast to the professionals who take a little bit of profit from every little trade and wind up rich.


Likewise, science has uncovered many, many things that can diminish the power of cancer, but the goal of many in the research community remains that one huge score.


Our goal is to share with you the many “small” things you can do to minimize cancer’s advantages. This means you must consider your doctor a member of your treatment team, not your boss. You must take responsibility for your own health and make informed decisions. Do not accept the status quo!


Approach cancer from every viable angle you can identify. In so doing you will develop a powerful personal philosophy, and you will put policies in place that will serve you well in your mission to undermine cancer.


That is precisely what Sarah and her parents did, and it worked. She has now been free of cancer for more than twenty years.


Here is my review of this amazing book:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Dr, Francisco Contreras and Daniel Kennedy and their publisher for sending me a copy of "Beating Cancer" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

“Beating Cancer: 20 Natural, Spiritual & Medical Remedies” by Dr. Francisco Contreras and Daniel Kennedy is an outstanding read! Since my diagnosis of breast cancer last year, I’ve read several books on cancer, nutrition and treatment options. This book is one of the better ones. It is both informative and inspirational. It will bring up valid information that you may not have considered for you to use to question your treatment specialists about your own case management.

It also introduces an environment where the whole person is treated, not just the disease. Whether you decide to travel to this clinic or simply look for such a doctor in your own community, this encouraging read illuminates a treatment option that many, I’m sure, aren’t aware of. This book will definitely take you to a new level of involvement in your own treatment or that of a loved one.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Jesus in the Present Tense by Warren Wiersbe

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:


Jesus in the Present Tense: The I AM Statements of Christ

David C. Cook (January 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Dr. Warren Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher and the former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago. For ten years he was associated with the Back to the Bible radio broadcast, first as Bible teacher and then as general director. Dr. Wiersbe has written more than 160 books, including the popular “Be” series of Bible commentaries, which has sold more than four million copies. He and his wife, Betty, live in Lincoln, NE.


SHORT BOOK DISCRIPTION:

As Warren Wiersbe writes, “My past may discourage me and my future may frighten me, but ‘the life I now live’ today can be enriching and encouraging because ‘Christ lives in me.’” In Jesus in the Present Tense, Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe explores the “I AM” statements of God—from His burning bush conversation with Moses, to His powerful reassurances to the Israelites, to Jesus’ startling claim to be the Light of the World. Jesus in the Present Tense offers a fresh exploration of God—the I AM.

God doesn’t want us to ignore the past, but the past should be a rudder to guide us and not an anchor to hold us back. Nor does He want us to neglect planning for the future, so long as we say, “If it is the Lord’s will” (James 4:13-17). The better we understand our Lord’s I AM statements, and by faith apply them, the more our strength will equal our days (Deut. 33:25), and we will “run and not grow weary [and]…walk and not be faint” (Isa. 40:31). We will abide in Christ and bear fruit for His glory today—now.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (January 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781404878
ISBN-13: 978-0781404877

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Moses Asks a Question

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

—Exodus 3:13



When Helen Keller was nineteen months old, she contracted an illness that left her blind and deaf for life. It was not until she was ten years old that she began to have meaningful communication with those around her. It occurred when her gifted teacher Anne Sullivan taught her to say “water” as Anne spelled “water” on the palm of her hand. From that pivotal experience, Helen Keller entered the wonderful world of words and names, and it transformed her life. Once Helen was accustomed to this new system of communication with others, her parents arranged for her to receive religious instruction from the eminent Boston clergyman Phillips Brooks. One day during her lesson, Helen said these remarkable words to Brooks: “I knew about God before you told me, only I didn’t know His name.”1



The Greek philosophers wrestled with the problem of knowing and naming God. “But the father and maker of all this universe is past finding out,” Plato wrote in his Timaeus dialogue, “and if we found him, to tell of him to all men would be impossible.” He said that God was “a geometrician,” and Aristotle called God “The Prime Mover.” No wonder the apostle Paul found an altar in Athens dedicated to “The Unknown God” (see Acts 17:22–23). The Greek philosophers of his day were “without hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). But thinkers in recent centuries haven’t fared much better. The German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Hegel called God “the Absolute,” and Herbert Spencer named Him “the Unknowable.” Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychiatry, wrote in chapter 4 of his book Totem and Taboo (1913), “The personalized God is psychologically nothing other than a magnified father.” God is a father figure but not a personal heavenly Father. British biologist Julian Huxley wrote in chapter 3 of his book Religion without Revelation (1957), “Operationally, God is beginning to resemble not a ruler but the last fading smile of a cosmic Cheshire cat.” The fantasies described in Alice in Wonderland were more real to Huxley than was God Almighty!



But God wants us to know Him, because knowing God is the most important thing in life!



Salvation

To begin with, knowing God personally is the only way we sinners can be saved. Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). After healing a blind beggar, Jesus later searched for him and found him in the temple, and the following conversation took place: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” asked Jesus. The man said, “Who is he, sir? Tell me so that I may believe in him.”



Jesus replied, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you” (John 9:35–38). The man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he fell on his knees before Jesus. Not only was the beggar given physical sight, but his spiritual eyes were also opened (Eph. 1:18) and he received eternal life. His first response was to worship Jesus publicly where everybody could see him.



This introduces a second reason why we must know who God is and what His name is: We were created to worship and glorify Him. After all, only little joy or encouragement can come from worshipping an “unknown God.” We were created in God’s image that we might have fellowship with Him now and “enjoy Him forever,” as the catechism says. Millions of people attend religious services faithfully each week and participate in the prescribed liturgy, but not all of them enjoy personal fellowship with God. Unlike that beggar, they have never submitted to Jesus and said, “Lord, I believe.” To them, God is a distant stranger, not a loving Father. Their religious lives are a routine, not a living reality.



But there is a third reason for knowing God. Because we possess eternal life and practice biblical worship, we can experience the blessing of a transformed life. After describing the folly of idol worship, the psalmist added, “Those who make them [idols] will be like them, and so will all who trust in them” (see Ps. 115:1–8). We become like the gods that we worship! Worshipping a god we don’t know is the equivalent of worshipping an idol, and we can have idols in our minds and imaginations as well as on our shelves.



Our heavenly Father’s loving purpose for His children is that they might be “conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29). “And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man [Adam], so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man [Jesus]” (1 Cor. 15:49). However, we should not wait until we see Jesus for this transformation to begin, because God’s Holy Spirit can start changing us today. As we pray, meditate on the Word of God, experience suffering and joy, and as we witness, worship, fellowship with God’s people, and serve the Lord with our spiritual gifts, the Spirit quietly works within us and transforms us to become more like our Lord Jesus Christ.



The conclusion is obvious: The better we know the Lord, the more we will love Him, and the more we love Him, the more we will worship and obey Him. As a result, we will become more like Him and experience what the apostle Peter called growing “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Paul took an incident out of the life of Moses (Ex. 34:29–35) and described it this way: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). Moses didn’t realize that his face was radiant, but others saw it! He was being transformed.



God commands us to know Him and worship Him because He wants to give us the joyful privilege of serving and glorifying Him. Commanding us to worship isn’t God’s way of going on a heavenly ego trip, because we can supply God with nothing. “If I were hungry,” says the Lord, “I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it” (Ps. 50:12). He commands worship because we need to worship Him! To humble ourselves before Him, to show reverence and gratitude, and to praise Him in the Spirit are essential to balanced growth in a normal Christian life. Heaven is a place of worship (Rev. 4—5), and we ought to begin to worship Him correctly right now. But unless we are growing in our knowledge of God and in our experience of His incredible grace, our worship and service will amount to very little.



Salvation, worship, personal transformation and loving service are all part of living in the present tense and depending on our Lord and Savior. “And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).



Preparation

Moses spent forty years in Egypt “being educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22). Then he fled for his life to Midian, where he spent the next forty years serving as a shepherd. Imagine a brilliant PhD earning a living by taking care of dumb animals! But the Lord had to humble Moses before He could exalt him and make him the deliverer of Israel. Like the church today, the nation of Israel was only a flock of sheep (Ps. 77:20; 78:52; Acts 20:28), and what the nation needed was a loving shepherd who followed the Lord and cared for His people. The Lord spent eighty years preparing Moses for forty years of faithful service. God isn’t in a hurry.



The call of Moses started with the curiosity of Moses. He saw a bush that was burning but not burning up, and he paused to investigate. “Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect,” said British essayist Samuel Johnson, and Moses certainly qualified. He saw something he couldn’t explain and discovered that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was dwelling in that burning bush (Deut. 33:16). The Lord God had come to visit him.



What did that remarkable burning bush signify to Moses, and what does it signify to us? For one thing, it revealed the holiness of God; because throughout Scripture, fire is associated with the dynamic holy character of the Lord. Isaiah called God “the consuming fire” and the “everlasting burning” (Isa. 33:14; see also Heb. 12:29). Note that Moses saw this burning bush on Mount Horeb, which is Mount Sinai (Ex. 3:1); and when God gave Moses the law on Sinai, the mountain burned with fire (Ex. 24:15–18; Acts 7:30–34). How should we respond to the holy character of God? By humbling ourselves and obeying what He commands. (See Isa. 6.) Theodore Epp wrote, “Moses was soon to discover that the essential qualifications for serving God are unshod feet and a hidden face.”2 How different a description from that of “celebrities” today, who wear expensive clothes and make sure their names and faces are kept before their adoring public. God wasn’t impressed with Moses’ Egyptian learning, for “the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight” (1 Cor. 3:19). God’s command to us is, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). When the prodigal son repented and came to his father, the father put shoes on his feet (Luke 15:22); but spiritually speaking, when believers humbly surrender to the Lord, they must remove their sandals and become bondservants of Jesus Christ.



The burning bush also reveals the grace of God, for the Lord had come down to announce the good news of Israel’s salvation. He knew Moses’ name and spoke to him personally (Ex. 3:4; John 10:3). He assured Moses that He saw the misery of the Jewish people in Egypt and heard their cries of pain and their prayers for help. “I am concerned about their suffering,” He said. “So I have come down to rescue them” (Ex. 3:7–8). The Lord remembered and honored His covenant promises with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the time had come to deliver His people.



It was by grace that God chose Moses to be His servant. The Lord wasn’t disturbed by Moses’ past failures in Egypt, including the fact that even his own people had rejected his leadership (Ex. 2:11–15). Moses was now an old man who had been away from Egypt for forty years, but this didn’t hinder God from using him effectively. The Lord knows how to use the weak, foolish, and despised things of the world to humiliate the wise and the strong and ultimately to defeat the mighty (1 Cor. 1:26–31). God would receive great glory as Moses magnified His name in Egypt.



Identification

If Moses was going to accomplish anything in Egypt, he needed to know the name of the Lord, because the Israelites would surely ask, “Who gave you the authority to tell us and Pharaoh what to do?” God’s reply to Moses’ question was, “I AM WHO I AM.” Moses told the Israelites, “I AM has sent me to you” (Ex. 3:14). The name I AM comes from the Hebrew word YHWH. To pronounce this holy name, the Jews used the vowels from the name Adonai (Lord) and turned YHWH into Yahweh (LORD in our English translations). The name conveys the concept of absolute being, the One who is and whose dynamic presence works on our behalf. It conveys the meanings of “I am who and what I am, and I do not change. I am here with you and for you.”



The name Yahweh (Jehovah, LORD) was known in the time of Seth (Gen. 4:26), Abraham (14:22; 15:1), Isaac (25:21–22), and Jacob (28:13; 49:18). However, the fullness of its meaning had not yet been revealed. The Law of Moses warned the Jews, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Ex. 20:7; see also Deut. 28:58). Their fear of divine judgment caused the Jewish people to avoid using the holy name Yahweh and to substitute Adonai (Lord) instead.



In nine places in the Old Testament, the Lord “filled out” or “completed” the name I AM to reveal more fully His divine nature and His gracious ministry to His people.



• Yahweh-Jireh: The LORD will provide or see to it (Gen. 22:14)

• Yahweh-Rophe: The LORD who heals (Ex. 15:26)

• Yahweh-Nissi: The LORD our banner (Ex. 17:15)

• Yahweh-M’Kaddesh: The LORD who sanctifies (Lev. 20:8)

• Yahweh-Shalom: The LORD our peace (Judg. 6:24)

• Yahweh-Rohi: The LORD my shepherd (Ps. 23:1)

• Yahweh-Sabaoth: The LORD of hosts (Ps. 46:7)

• Yahweh-Tsidkenu: The LORD our righteousness (Jer. 23:6)

• Yahweh-Shammah: The LORD is there (Ezek. 48:35)



Of course, all of these names refer to our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Because He is Yahweh-Jireh, He can supply all our needs and we need not worry (Matt. 6:25–34; Phil. 4:19). As Yahweh-Rophe, He is able to heal us; and as Yahweh-Nissi, He will help us fight our battles and defeat our enemies. We belong to Yahweh-M’Kaddesh because He has set us apart for Himself (1 Cor. 6:11); and Yahweh-Shalom gives us peace in the midst of the storms of life (Isa. 26:3; Phil. 4:9). All the promises of God find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). Yahweh-Rohi takes us to Psalm 23 and John 10, encouraging us to follow the Shepherd. The armies of heaven and earth are under the command of Yahweh-Sabaoth, and we need not panic (Josh. 5:13–15; Rev. 19:11–21). Because we have trusted Yahweh-Tsidkenu, we have His very righteousness put to our account (2 Cor. 5:21), and our sins and iniquities are remembered no more (Heb. 10:17). Jesus is Yahweh-Shammah, “God with us” (Matt. 1:23), and He will be with us always, even to the very end of the age (Matt. 28:20). “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” is still His guarantee (Heb. 13:5). In His incarnation, Jesus came down to earth, not as a burning bush but as “a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground” (Isa. 53:1–2; see also Phil. 2:5–11). He became a human, a man, for us (John 1:14); He became obedient unto death for us and became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus became a curse for us and on the cross bore the curse of the law for us who have broken God’s law (Gal. 3:13–14). And one day “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2)!

What is God’s name? His name is I AM—and that is also the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord!



Here is my review of this terrific resource:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Warren Wiersbe and his publisher for sending me a copy of "Jesus in the Present Tense" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

Warren Wiersbe’s “Jesus in the Present Tense” is a brilliantly titled –and equally brilliantly written – book focusing on the “I Am” statements of Christ. This study is illuminating as it examines the seven “I Am” statements made by Jesus during His earthly ministry and recorded in John’s gospel. The reader will grow to know Jesus as He is in a more intimate way.

Jesus is the bread of life. He is the light of the world. He is the door. He is the good shepherd. He is the resurrection and the life. He is the way, the truth and the life. He is the true vine. This incredible book will acquaint you with each of these aspects of Christ’s person. I highly recommend this insightful read for personal or group study.

REVIEW: Livestrong Guidebook

From the foundation begun by Lance Armstrong to combat cancer, I ordered the Livestrong Guidebook. This guidebook and journal set is a valuable resource. It will give you lots of information and help to keep you organized during your journey through diagnosis, treatment and beyond. There is a charge for postage, but it is worth the money to receive these incredible spiral-bound books. Go to www.livestrong.org for more information and to order the Guidebook and Journal.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bible Study: Coming Out Of Bondage - Exodus - Chapter 14


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Exodus. 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 Exodus Chapter 14. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…


14:14 – Be still so God can fight for you!

14:15-22 – See Psalm 77:16-20.

14:19-20 – It’s God’s job to protect us from our enemies!

14:19 – The angel of the Lord is a preincarnate appearance of Christ. The pillar of cloud is a separate entity. It’s a manifestation of God’s glory. The cloud would cover Israel and keep them cool in the desert heat.

14:24 – the pillar of fire would keep Israel warm at night.

14:25 – this is a powerful statement. The Egyptians recognized God was fighting for Israel.


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

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wounded Spirits by April W. Gardner

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:


Wounded Spirits

Vinspire Publishing (November 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to April Gardner for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


April W Gardner is a military wife who has practiced the art of homemaking all over the world. She spends her mornings homeschooling her two darling children, and her afternoons inside the minds of her characters. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, traveling the nation in an RV, and learning Italian. April is involved in the music ministry of her church and volunteers in their library. She currently lives in the heart of ancient Creek Country—Middle Georgia.

This is her first novel.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DISCRIPTION:

On the frontier, Adela McGirth’s life is simple, rugged, and exactly to her liking. Her greatest concern is whether to marry the settlement’s most eligible young officer. When a distant war among the Natives spills over into a nearby skirmish, life takes a perilous turn. Deep in enemy territory Adela must choose between the man she loves and a baby that has yet to be born; will she be strong enough to wait on God's provision?

A peace-loving yet loyal Creek warrior, Totka is forced to align with the extremist Red Stick faction whose purpose is to eradicate the Whites from Creek soil. In the midst of battle, Totka is assigned to protect those he is expected to hate--and kill. Life was simpler before his enemy became a beautiful face with a quiet strength and dignity he cannot resist.

Having lived a life plagued with death and loss, Zachariah McGirth is a man on a mission - he'll have his revenge or die trying. Blinded by grief, he can't see his way clear of yet another tragedy. Why has God taken everything from him...or has He?

Their lives molded by the course of history, can these Wounded Spirits learn to rely on God's grace during one of the bloodiest conflicts in the South?




Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 258 pages
Publisher: Vinspire Publishing (November 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0981989616
ISBN-13: 978-0981989617

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


McGirth Plantation, Tensaw Settlement

June 1813

Adela shifted her body to allow blood flow to her legs. The mossy ground had long grown hard against her tailbone, and the rough tree trunk dug into her back.

A refreshing breeze blew through the pines lining the northwestern border of her father’s land. It rustled the needles and created a comforting, familiar whistle.

A small meadow lay vacant before her. On the opposite side, the evening sun cast the last rays through the treetops. Squinting, she thought, for an instant, she saw the form of a man. No, it was just a bush moving with the current of the wind.

Surely, she had been waiting nigh on two hours. Her family would be worrying. Just north, civil war raged among the Creeks and threatened to involve the vulnerable Americans in the Tensaw and Bigby settlements. Her parents’ constant fear of danger was well placed.

Soon Mama would call Adela’s father in from the barn and send one of the servants looking for her. Worry was never good for Mama

Her attacks were rare these days, but she never knew what might set her to wheezing, then coughing.

Adela’s stomach twittered and flipped. She stood then rubbed her lower back. “Please, hurry, Phillip. Please,” she murmured, not sure she could stay much longer.

Unheeding, the sun’s beams continued down the length of the trees then dissolved, leaving only their orange and purple reflection in the sky.

Not wanting to create undue stress on her parents, she gave up waiting and set out toward home. She lifted her skirt to avoid the prickly blackberry bushes, and berated herself for not having thought to bring a lantern. How foolish of me!

“Adela…Adela…” Her name rode on the breeze.

Her heart seized, and then leapt as she recognized the voice. Haste sped her back through the underbrush.

“Phillip! I waited so long.” She panted.. He enveloped her in his work-hardened arms. Phillip was becoming more intimate with her. She wondered if it was too soon.

“I knew you’d wait.” Resting his hands on her shoulders, he stepped back where she could see him. “I couldn’t get away any sooner. Dixon had a list as long as my arm of things for me to do before I leave tomorrow. He hovered like a hawk to see I got them done.”

She pulled his hands from her shoulders and held them between her own instead. “You’re here now, and that’s all that matters.”

“How will I ever last three months without you?”

“What kind of nonsense is that? You’ll do just fine. The adventure of your life is just around the corner. I hardly think you’ll be pining for boring old Tensaw. You just see Savannah treats you well while you’re busy getting your commission, Second Lieutenant Phillip Bailey.”

A stray lock of dark blond hair fell over his eye, and feeling bold, Adela brushed it away. He caught her hand and pulled it to his lips, his coffee brown eyes sparkling in the waning daylight. The warmth of his lips on her fingertips sent tingles of excitement rushing through her, but not without a warning.

I shouldn’t be encouraging him this way. Not while I’m still so unsure... She dropped her eyes, but he mistook her guilt for something else.

“That’s what I love about you, Adela. You’re all innocence and piety.”

He cradled the back of her neck with his hand, and her insides fluttered in a dangerous way. She knew she should move away, but she felt drawn to him, like a mouse to a trap.

Adela cleared her throat, “You speak of love when we’ve only been courting a month. And, I might add, quite unofficially.” His deep affection seemed premature.

“Maybe, but I’ve known I’d marry you from the day we met.”

She’d known him since she was just a girl. A grown woman now,ow had she not noticed he cared? She opened her mouth to ask, but he placed a finger on her lips.

“Are you sure you won’t come with me? It’s not too late. We can marry tomorrow, first thing and—”

“Marry? Tomorrow?You know I can’t. You haven’t spoken to my father about courting me, much less marriage. And there’s Ellie…did you forget? You know how she adores you.”

Phillip gave her a placating smile. “She might hurt for a while, but she’ll see reason. She’s not foolish, simply a bit of a romantic…albeit misplaced.”

Adela chuckled. “Elizabeth, romantic? Determined, more likely. She decided years ago to love you, and it would take a direct message from God to persuade her otherwise.” She propped her hands on her hips, barely noticing the first chirps of the crickets. “Did you know she just rejected an offer of marriage from Mr. Pierce?”

“The schoolteacher and Ellie? Married?”

“Well, he would have liked as much.”

Phillip tipped his square chin and laughed outright.

The sound brought a smile to Adela’s face, but she chided him nonetheless. “Come now, it was a perfectly decent offer.”

Phillip wiped his eyes. “But the man is twice her age, and desperate to be married. Have you seen his cabin? Chaos!”

Adela dismissed his objections with a wave of her hand. “All that aside, I am not prepared to be at odds with my sister. So, she must not find out about us…for the time being, anyway. We’ll address the issue when you return.”

“She has to find out eventually. Why not now?”Phillip crossed his arms and gave her the back of her shoulder. He’d never been one for patience and at the moment, he reminded Adela of a spoiled child denied a piece of pie. She chuckled.

“What are you laughing about?”

“Just now, you reminded me of Mrs. Haverty’s youngest.”

His eyes darkened as he took a step closer. His stiff form towered above her. “You’re comparing me to that little monster?”

Adela sobered at the intensity of his gaze. “It was a silly thought. Please forgive me.”

He studied her in silence.

Warning bells clanged in her mind. Just as another apology formed on her tongue, he let out a puff of air and relaxed his stance. “I just want to take care of you, Adela. I want to build a home for you and provide for you, give you beautiful things and walk with you through town on my arm. Let me talk to your father tonight.”

He could be quite persuasive.Still, she refused to allow him to push her into something for which she wasn’t fully prepared.

She gave a tentative shake of the head. True to form, her hesitance produced a huff of frustration. “If not now, then when? When will that dear sister of yours ever take the news well?”

“Why would I tell her something I’m uncertain of myself?”

He scowled then spoke as if she hadn’t mentioned her ambiguity. “You need to know the moment my feet touch Tensaw soil in August I plan on asking your father for permission to court you properly.” He grasped her chin in his hand and pressed a hard kiss to her lips. “So, you’d best prepare her.”

She took a step back and smoothed out her skirt.,. “Aren’t you the bold one tonight, Mr. Bailey.”

He merely grinned and removed the bear claw pendant that always hung around his neck. “Wear this to remember me by,” he said, holding it out.

“Phillip, it was your grandfathers! I can’t. It’s too important to you.”

“Of course you can. You’re to be my wife. It means what’s mine is yours. I love you, Adela McGirth, and there’s no one else I’d give it to.” His voice rang with longing as he ran his eyes over the length of her, pausing in all the wrong places.

She resisted the urge to cross her arms over her chest. At least the dark of the night covered the blush on her cheeks. Never had a man appreciated her body the way Phillip did, and never had one assumed so much. “You’re being a bit presumptuous. Aren’t you?”

“Not at all. I’m a man who knows what he wants and doesn’t stop until he gets it.” Playfulness tinged in his tone, but Adela heard the truth behind his words. “Take the pendant. If it helps, see it as a gift from a friend. Not as a token of betrothal.”

Seen in such a way, what could it hurt?

She slipped it about her neck then gasped as he pulled her into a fierce kiss. His moist lips moved confidently against hers. Warm hands stroked her back and almost melted her resolve to remain chaste.

“I love you,” he murmured against her mouth.

She knew he wanted a similar reply, but she couldn’t give it. The words caught in her throat, as if uncertainty itself held them from escaping.

She split apart from his searching mouth and sought retreat. “Please, be careful in Savannah,” she managed. “I have to go.” She dropped her arms and ran for home, the claw thumping against her chest.

* * *

Adela climbed the ladder to the loft careful not to wake her sisters. She hung her dress on a peg and slipped into her nightgown. Phillip’s bear claw thudded against her. She clutched it through her gown as panic seized her. Had she hid it from Mama? So intent on getting home, she hadn’t thought of it until now.

Her shoulders dropped when she realized Mama would have questioned her about it if she’d seen.

The wooden timbers of the bed squeaked as Adela climbed in next to Lillian. They had always shared a bed. Even when given the option of each having their own in their more spacious, newly built house, they had both refused, preferring the warmth and closeness the other afforded.

Although the two were completely opposite one another in every way, they held a special bond. Maybe it was Adela’s quiet dependence on God which supported the more flighty Lillian, or maybe it was Lillian’s carefree spirit which drew Adela to her sister’s side. Perhaps, it was the need for an ally against Ellie’s domineering onslaughts.

Regardless, with just a year separating them, she and Lillian understood each other, thrived on their friendship.

Lillian turned over to face her. “Where have you been?” she whispered, her anger barely concealed. “I’ve been worried sick. We all have.”

“Shh! You’ll wake Ellie.” Adela glanced at Elizabeth but their older sister’s breath remained deep and even.

“Well?” Lillian hissed.

“In the woods.”

“In the woods? That’s all you’re going to say? I hope Mama believed you more than I do.”

The fearful look on Mama’s face and the way she’d clung to Adela when she’d walked through the door flashed across her mind. She tasted guilt and couldn’t swallow. “Me too. But I didn’t lie, if that’s what you’re getting at.”

Lillian practically snorted. “That would be something I would do. No, silence would be more your style.” She thumped Adela on the shoulder. “Am I not getting any more details, like where you got that—that—whatever it is hanging around your neck?”

Adela grasped the pendant. “You saw it?”

“Of course. When you got undressed, and if you don’t want anyone else to find out about it, you should be more careful. So, out with it. What have you got there?”

“It’s nothing. I shouldn’t have accepted it.”

“Nothing? I saw the way you were holding it,” she rasped.

“Shh! That’s not what I—” Would Lillian understand? “Oh, never mind.”

“Well, give me all the details. Who is he?”

“How did you know it was from a man?”

“Adela, Adela, ever so naive and oblivious. You and I don’t think the same at all. So, tell me already.”

“If I tell you, you have to promise to keep it to yourself! At least for a while. Promise?”

“Fine, I promise…just tell me.”

Adela took a deep breath, and said his name on less than a whisper.

“What? No! It’s—it’s not as if he has no reason to love you, but you? Lover of all things peaceable and non-confrontational, I never imagined you to be so audacious as to set your bonnet for Ellie’s man!”

“Shh! See why it’s a secret? No one would understand. Besides, he’s not Ellie’s man. And I’m not even sure I feel anything for him.”

“You’ve got to be half mad. You do realize Elizabeth will practically disown you?”

Adela lost the battle against her tears..

“Come on. Don’t cry. I exaggerated. It won’t be so bad. She’ll forgive you…eventually. She’s never really had a claim to him and will see it in time. But you have to tell her. You can’t keep it from her forever, and if she finds out from someone else, it’ll be worse.”

“Lilly, I’ve tried a dozen times to tell her, but I just can’t.”

Adela moaned and Lillian put a comforting hand on her shoulder.

“It’ll humiliate her, if it doesn’t kill her first,” Adela said. “I should have put an end to it before he left, especially since I’m not sure I even love him. But he’s so…”

“Handsome? Daring? Everything a woman could want in a man?”

Adela sighed and fiddled with the claw strung about her neck. “Yes, he’s all that, but there’s something missing…or maybe it’s what he has too much of. A bit too brash, maybe? Too self-confident? He angers easily, and I don’t see much of the Lord in his life.”

“Is that what’s bothering you? Do yourself a favor and stop focusing on his faults. We all have them.” She propped herself up on an elbow then paused. After a moment of silence, soft snoring from the other side of the room confirmed Ellie still slept.

Moonlight from the small window washed Lillian’s face in its glow. Their Mama’s full Spanish blood showed itself most in Lillian. Even in the dim light, she was beautiful. “It’s simple,” she said. “You tell Ellie. She’s hurt. When Phillip proposes, you accept, and in time, Ellie recovers.”

Lillian tugged the pendant from Adela’s grasp. “This was his grandfather’s. I take it Phillip loves you.”

“He claims he does.”

“And you saw him tonight to tell him goodbye?”

Adela bobbed her head.

“Your secret is safe with me, but my advice is sooner is always better than later.”

“I know. I know. I’m such a coward.”

“Hardly.” Lillian patted her hand.

It felt awkward to be the one consoled. The tables were usually turned.

.

“I didn’t plan for it to happen and now…I’m risking Ellie disowning me for a man.”

“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard yet. Ellie isn’t that scary. Now why don’t you get some sleep, and we’ll talk about how to handle it tomorrow. I assume there will be a wedding when he returns. You can’t prepare for a home of your own and still keep it a secret. We’ll think of something.”

“Thanks, Lilly. Love you,” she said with a peck to her sister’s cheek.

Lillian flipped over,. Much later, her mind exhausted, she relaxed and followed her sister in sleep.

* * *

Kossati Village, Upper Creek Nation

The cabin door creaked as it opened. Nokos stepped inside careful not to wake the children. He left the door ajar allowing the moonlight to guide his steps. Its soft glow illuminated his little ones piled like counting sticks on the bearskin mat. Four sets of arms and legs were sprawled in every direction.

He brushed a kiss onto each warm forehead. The youngest stirred, flipped to his back, and wiped drool from his cheek.

He had missed them, but the reason for his early return lay in the bed on the far side of the room.

Having removed his weapons, he stretched his aching muscles and crept into bed next to his wife.

Just before leaving on his hunting trip one week earlier, he had revealed to Singing Grass his intentions to join the warring party. She wasn’t pleased.

Civil War had raged in the Creek Nation since the 1811 Grand Council. For over a year, he had publically remained neutral, along with Red Eagle.

Now, he found himself forced to choose sides. With the purpose of protecting their nation and keeping its traditions pure, the Red Sticks were executing those displaying American sympathies.

If the Long Knives were not stopped, the Muscogee would eventually be lead to starvation or worse…slavery. According to the Red Sticks, every American sympathizer must die.

Most in Kossati knew Nokos was partial to the Americans. Yes, their droves of cattle encroached on Creek land, and no, the farmers did not ask permission to run their iron plows through Creek soil. All that aside, he had found it difficult to justify fighting them.

They were powerful and well studied in war. Singing Grass was right…the Red Sticks would eventually be slaughtered.

But unless he pledged his allegiance to the Red Stick cause and soon, he would find himself taken unawares by a band of warriors.

Nokos let out his breath in a gust and sank onto the bearskin pallet.

Singing Grass stretched an arm across his chest, and propped her small pointed chin on his shoulder. “You are home early.” With familiar affection, she traced the lines and circles tattooed on his neck and awakened a hunger within him.

He sought her lips and kissed her deeply. “I did not mean to wake you. How are you feeling?”

“Hungry—all the time.” She hammered his chest with her forefinger. “You left the hunt early to ask me if I am well?”

“It’s no matter. There was no game to hunt.” He tried to keep the frustration from his voice. No need to worry her.

“Nothing? You caught nothing?”

“Three rabbits and a squirrel, as if I were just a boy. No one else had done any better when I left. I doubt one more day would have mattered much.” He pulled her closer. “I would rather be home with you than listening to their talk of war, death, and starv—” He cut his words short.

“You do not have to hide things from me. I’m pregnant--not blind and deaf. I know what is happening.”

“We’ll be fine.”

“You’re joining the Red Sticks. I hardly think it is fine. They will kill themselves in vain. Must you?”

“Yes, I must.” Should he reveal to her Gray Hawk’s warning to be quick in choosing sides? That his name had been whispered among those whose loyalty was in question?

“The prophets are insane! Surely you have not succumbed to their antics?”

“Of course not. I’m no fool.”

The sighting of a star with a fiery tail traveling across the sky a month after Tecumseh’s departure had frenzied the Creeks. It was the “sign”, they said. It was the “arm of fire” Tecumseh had claimed would prove his prophecies were from the Great Spirit. A strongly superstitious people, the sighting had driven the Creeks into the Red Stick faction by the thousands.

True to his word, Tecumseh had left several prophets to train the Creeks to lead their people in the war dances. In most every village, the rhythms and tunes became familiar. With devotion, men and women believed the tales told by new prophets.

“Look what madness has overcome our people,” Singing Grass said. “They are being led to the slaughter! We shame ourselves, and our children will pay. Pushmatahaw is a wise chief. He was right to force Tecumseh from his nation. Because he did, the Choctaw were spared this insanity. If only our chiefs had done the same…”

“Lower your voice,” Nokos cautioned. “Do you want the children to repeat what you say? We’re already at risk. Careless words could be our destruction.”

She sat up, and her single braid slipped from her shoulder and landed on his chest with a soft thud. “What do you mean we are already at risk?”

“My past will not be forgiven. I must clearly oppose the Americans.”

“And what of your past? Will you pretend it does not exist? Will you spit in the faces of those who love you?”

“Red Eagle has joined the war party,” Nokos said, preferring to ignore her difficult questions.

“You should go to Big Warrior, join his White ranks in Tuckabatchee. I hear all who desire peace with the Americans are flocking to his protection.”

“I agree with Big Warrior, but sooner or later, Tuckabatchee will be under siege and his White warriors will be forced to surrender to the Red Sticks. I either submit now or later.” Nokos shook his head. “No. No, I will do as I vowed and follow Red Eagle. He is a clever warrior, and will lead us well.”

The moment Nokos heard the half-Scottish, half-Creek chief had joined the Red Sticks, he knew what he must do. “If Red Eagle, as influential and powerful as he is, has been forced at the threat of his family’s life to join the Red Sticks, how will I avoid it?”

With his gaze, he caressed the mother of his children. She was so vulnerable. And the little ones. Who would protect them when he went away? If he died? At least now, he would not have to fear his own people turning against them. Most found it much easier to wish their enemy’s demise…not so with Nokos.

She brought his attention back to her by running her warm hand down his cheek. “Wipe the worry from your face, husband,” she said, resolve in her voice. She sniffed once then swallowed. “All will be well. Do what you must.” She dropped next to him and clung to his chest, her hair tickling the underside of his chin.

He hadn’t realized how much her approval meant to him until he obtained it. Resting a hand on the slight bulge of her belly, he prayed to whatever god would listen that this dear woman be spared the sufferings and hardships which were the sisters of war.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Daniel Fast Made Delicious by John and Ann Marie Cavazos

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 authors are:


and the book:


The Daniel Fast Made Delicious: The simple fruit and vegetable fast that will nourish you

Siloam (January 4, 2011)

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

John and Ann Marie Cavazos created these recipes while serving on the staff of their Central Florida church when they realized that people were simply starving on carrot sticks every time the church held a Daniel Fast, instead of enjoying the variety of delicious, healthy foods that were originally intended to be part of this ancient eating plan.

SHORT BOOK DISCRIPTION:

A cookbook on the topic of fasting may sound like an oxymoron, but this eating plan modeled in the biblical account of the life of Daniel, often called a Daniel Fast, is actually loaded with fresh, delicious, health-promoting foods. The Daniel Fast Made Delicious includes more than 175 recipes, many of which are 100 percent gluten free and dairy free. Filled with easy instructions, simple steps, spiritual inspirations, and interesting food facts and figures, these Daniel Fast recipes are as nourishing to the soul as they are to the body.

Product Details:

List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Siloam (January 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381809
ISBN-13: 978-1616381806

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Introduction



Dear fellow Daniel Fasters:


This recipe book is not like anything else you’ve seen before. A recipe book for a fast—seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? I mean, isn’t the point of a fast not to eat? Well, in this case the Daniel fast is about what you can eat. The Daniel fast is a unique fast—taken from the biblical account in Daniel 1:8–21 where Daniel and his three Hebrew friends ate only vegetables and drank water for ten days. Our favorite part is verse 8, which reads, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies…” This is indicative of the kind of man Daniel was—a man of purpose!


Our goal here is not to talk about fasting, per se, or give you tons of supporting scriptures. If you have prepared and purposed to fast, then you probably already know these things or have read about them in books far more poignant than ours. Rather, this book seeks to give you options, and more of them, as you embark on this unique fast known as the Daniel fast.


The incarnation of this recipe book began in response to our congregation complaining that they didn’t know what else to eat besides lettuce and carrots when embarking on a Daniel fast. This told us that, number one, people didn’t know much about vegetables, and number two, they probably didn’t eat many vegetables! In addition, we found them spending more time bored with the lack of variety of food and less time focusing on why they were fasting. We decided to present recipes that would help them spend less time concerning themselves with what they shouldn’t eat and more time deciding what they could prepare for their families. Thus, The Daniel Fast Made Delicious was birthed!


Back in 2004, during one of our Daniel fasts, we felt frustrated because we really wanted to see people enjoy the fast and benefit from eating fruits and vegetables. We were walking around a lake near our home when the Lord popped an idea into Ann Marie’s spirit. She heard the word “Pumpkin Lasagna.” She had no idea what that was, but the Lord told her He would show her how to prepare that and other healthy dishes using only vegetables and fruits.


A journey of learning began where we educated ourselves about vegetables— we shopped and prepared and ate things we never dreamed we would eat. We did a lot of experimenting—sometimes hit, sometimes miss—and we loved it, our kids loved it, and what’s more, our family and friends loved it! We began preparing healthy dishes made only with vegetables and inviting our family and friends over to share in the fun. It quickly became apparent our signature dish would be Annie’s Pumpkin Lasagna (chapter 2), since everyone loved it. The rest is history!


Now, the idea is not for you to eat more—you’re on a fast, so you’re supposed to eat less. Use these recipes to make the most of the food you are eating during your fast, but turn your plate down for one or two meals as you feel God leads—

and only if your health permits. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.


The idea behind this recipe book is simply to educate you and to give you more healthy choices for you and your family as you embark on the Daniel fast. Those of you with spouses or family members who are not joining you on the fast will find this book invaluable. For those of you with children who are not fasting or who are picky eaters, there are some wonderful recipes in this book that will allow you to keep to the fast and also feed your family and not skip a beat when it comes to flavor! All of the Daniel fast recipes in Section 1 are wheat, gluten, and dairy free as well as vegan! In addition, the ingredients used in all of these recipes are organic—we encourage you to use organic whenever possible. If this is not possible, we encourage you to use a fruit and vegetable

wash on all nonporous fruits and vegetables. Additionally, with all of these recipes we use cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil because studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while raising HDL (good) levels. For further information, see www .healingdaily.com/detoxification-diet/olive-oil.htm. Why cold pressed? Cold-pressed oil is produced with the use of a low heat technique, which keeps the flavor, nutritional value, and color of the oil. Although it is more expensive it is also of higher quality. For further information, see www.wisegeek.com/what-is -cold-pressed-oil.htm. One last comment: we like a lot of garlic and cilantro in our food, and our recipes reflect this. Feel free to adjust the amount of garlic or cilantro in any of the recipes in this book to suit your family’s tastes.


People tend to think that to eat healthy means to eat yucky—not so. The secret is in how you season and prepare your food. These healthy recipes will not only show you different kinds of foods you might not have thought about before, but they also give you some great ideas on how to season and prepare your meals. It’s all about choices, and the more informed you are, the more choices you’ll have. After the fast is over, don’t run out and get fast food! In Section 2 we have included dozens of healthy recipes so you can transition from the Daniel fast to making healthy eating a lifestyle! In addition, the pasta dishes are wheat and gluten free.


Medical studies now confirm that a large percentage of the health problems in America are digestive related. According to the website Digestive System Disorders, digestive issues for the most part cause a number of diseases, such as colon, rectal, and stomach cancer; diarrhea; diverticular disease; digestive tract gas; heartburn; hepatitis; inflammatory bowel disease; irritable bowel syndrome; lactose intolerance; and stomach and duodenal ulcers. According to a recent article written on digestive disorders:


The function of the digestive system is to take the food and liquids that we put into our mouths and then either turn these foods and liquids into nutrients or energy needed by the cells of our body, or alternatively turn them into waste products that are then expelled

by our body as bowel movements. When something goes wrong with this everyday process and some part of the process doesn’t work properly, the end result is one kind or another of a digestive system disorder. There are many common digestive system disorders.

In fact, almost any natural health practitioner will tell you that food, good or bad, plays a definitive part in your health. The Daniel fast is a wonderful way to begin a life of good eating and good health. When we started doing the Daniel fast many years ago in our church, we started at the beginning of the year, around January 7, and for the next twenty-one days we consumed vegetables, fruit, and water—only! We did the fast for a number of reasons. First of all, turning your plate down and using that time to spend with the Lord is always a good thing. Second, after the holidays, most of us had abused food so much with all the celebrating we had done that we actually looked forward to the fast. Third, after a few years, a number of our members began to experience the benefit of the fast, because not only did we lose weight but also we felt better. Symptoms our bodies had manifested—such as heartburn, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome—began to disappear. (NOTE: These recipes should never be used in place of physician-prescribed medications or medical procedures prescribed by your doctor for any and all medical conditions.)


Back in 1999, after we had moved from New York to Florida, our girls, who were six and eight at the time, seemed to always be getting colds, runny noses, ear infections—something anyone with children knows something about. I grew tired of taking them to the doctor every so often just to have the doctor give them another antibiotic. I was sharing my frustrations about this with our dear friend Ruth Chironna. She asked me if I gave our girls cow’s milk. “Of course,” I replied. “What else is there to give them?” She told me to get them off of it and introduce them to rice milk. I immediately began introducing a little bit of rice milk mixed in with cow’s milk until I had weaned them off of dairy altogether. That was over a decade ago, and I can count on one hand the number of times in the last decade when they’ve been really sick or had really bad colds—and they never had another ear infection. They are now eighteen and twenty and are for the most part extremely healthy! This extended into our food, and before we knew it, we were eating better and going to the doctor a lot less. Do we ever cheat and have that slice of pizza or a burger? Sure! But everything in moderation! Changing our diet to include more vegetables, fruit, no sodas, and more water has significantly altered our lives. We trust that as you employ these changes, starting with the Daniel fast recipes, you will experience the kind of health that God intended for us to enjoy!


Whether you begin the Daniel fast at the beginning of the New Year or want to start it right now, we believe that The Daniel Fast Made Delicious is going to change the way you look at food, the way you prepare food, and the way you feel about food. Get started today! You’re going to love these recipes!


What more can we say but…


Bon app├ętit!

Buen provecho!

Guten appetit!


Here's my review of this fantastic non-fiction volume:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to John and Ann Marie Cavazos and their publisher for sending me a copy of "The Daniel Fast Made Delicious" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

I am so excited to be reviewing “The Daniel Fast Made Delicious”. This wonderful recipe book by John and Ann Marie Cavazos livens up a healthy diet of vegetables. Not only are the recipes easy to make, it will broaden the average person’s consumption of various vegetables. Even if you don’t plan to be completely vegetarian or vegan, this book will give you many ways to increase your vegetable intake and become healthier.

Personally, I plan to work through every recipe contained in this book. The pages are cooking-friendly, so if you spill, they wipe clean fairly easily. The preparation instructions are easy to follow and not too laborious. This book is a great way to expand your vegetable recipe repertoire for main course or side dish use. I can’t imagine anyone who spends any amount of time cooking and wants to eat better not loving this fabulous cookbook!