Friday, August 31, 2012

Bible Study: Be Strong and Courageous - Joshua Chapter 2

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Joshua, although they are a bit better formatted than former efforts. 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 and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, summer 2009, things are looking increasingly bleak with the economy and unemployment, there is a renewal and increase of racism, and godly principles of living being disregarded. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Stay strong and very courageous. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 2 of the Old Testament book of Joshua. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

2:1-24 – demonstrated faith is remembered. (Bad Girls – Higgs)

2:1 – Joshua secretly sent 2 spies from Shittim. Who were they a secret from? What is the significance of them being from Shittim?

“Shittim” is the Hebrew word for acacia trees. Israel was blessed by Balaam, here. See Numbers 22-24. Israel sinned with Moabite and Midianite women, here. See Numbers 25. Joshua was named Moses’ successor, here. See Deuteronomy 34:9.

Their instruction was to look over the land, especially Jericho. This was how they met Rahab the prostitute. Some scholars say she was an innkeeper, not a prostitute. Her house was probably right inside the city gate – the first place the spies came to. Good location for her business. A brothel may have been less busy than a boardinghouse if their standards were similar to today.

2:2 – Who was the king of Jericho? Not really a king, but a chief local government official.

Did someone see the spies? Why would they suspect the men to be Israelite spies? Did they know who the Israelites were? They had been wandering on the other side of the Jordan for 40 years. It almost sounds like inside information. Did these men look different? Were the men of Shittim actually Israelites?

2:3 – The king sent a message to Rahab to turn in the spies.

2:4-7 – Rahab hid the spies and told the messengers that they left. When the messengers left to pursue the spies, the gate was shut behind them. The gate of the house? Or the gate of the city of Jericho? They headed toward the Jordan River, so the city gate would have been shut behind them. I wonder if they ran into the entire nation of Israel awaiting the report from the spies. Apparently not, since the spies hide in the hills to avoid them in 2:22.

2:9 – How did Rahab know the Lord? How did she know that He gave the land to Israel?

2:10 – Rahab confirms that her “people” knew the story of the Red Sea parting (Exodus 14:21-31) and about the victories over Og and Sihon (Numbers 21:21-35). How might they have heard these stories? If she were an innkeeper, and her house was right inside the city gate, it would make sense that travelers would stop at her home and talk about what they had seen and heard. Were “her people” the citizens of Jericho? Or Rahab’s family?

2:11 – When the people heard the stories, they feared the Israelites because of the power of the Lord.

2:12 – our past doesn’t determine our future. (Bad Girls – Higgs)

Is there anything in your past that you haven’t given to God and released? Give it to Him right now and let it go.

Rahab wanted the spies to promise her that they would repay her kindness by sparing her family from death when Israel conquered Jericho. She asked them for a sure sign.

2:13 – She wanted the lives of her father, mother, brothers, sisters and their families spared. Obviously, she knew (and perhaps so did the people of Jericho) that Israel would annihilate everyone in Jericho when they conquered it. Remember, she knew of Israel’s victories.

When did the Lord give the instruction to take the land and spare no one? How could Rahab know about this?

2:14 – The spies swore to protect her life for her protection of theirs.

2:15 – Rahab lowered them outside of the city through her window. Remember the gates were locked behind the king’s messengers. She was very strong, very smart and very resourceful.

2:16 – Rahab sent the spies in a different direction than the messengers went.

Three days – how did she know how long it would take the messengers to return? Did she know where they would go to search for the spies?

2:17-19 – The spies made their oath conditional upon three things: her tying a scarlet cord in the window, bringing her family into her house and keeping them inside. The third condition appears in verse 20.

Notice they named the conditions after she lowered them to the ground. Why? Did they not trust her?

What identifies you as a Christian to others?

2:17-18 – This is reminiscent of the first Passover when the angel saw the blood on the door posts of the Israelite homes and left those inside alone. See Exodus 12.

2:20 – The third condition of Rahab’s protection was that she had to remain silent about the spies.

2:21 – She agreed to the conditions, sent them away and tied the cord in the window.

2:22 – The spies stayed in the hills 3 days while the messengers searched for them along the road.

2:23 – The spies returned to Joshua across the river and told him all that happened.

2:24 – They affirmed that the Lord gave them the land and the people were afraid.





• The book of Joshua teaches us many things including the fact that we must pursue a relationship with the Lord for ourselves rather than leaning on others’ relationships with Him. Joshua followed Moses as leader of Israel, after all. What have you learned and applied to your life from today’s reading that will help you persevere in your relationship with Christ?
• How do you observe God proving to Israel that He is with Joshua as He was with Moses in today’s text? How does it apply to your own life and relationship with Him?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

House of Mercy by Erin Healy


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:





Thomas Nelson (August 7, 2012)





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




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:







Erin Healy is an award-winning fiction editor who has worked with talented novelists such as James Scott Bell, Melody Carlson, Colleen Coble, Brandilyn Collins, Traci DePree, L. B. Graham, Rene Gutteridge, Michelle McKinney Hammond, Robin Lee Hatcher, Denise Hildreth, Denise Hunter, Randy Ingermanson, Jane Kirkpatrick, Bryan Litfin, Frank Peretti, Lisa Samson, Randy Singer, Robert Whitlow, and many others.



She began working with Ted Dekker in 2002 and edited twelve of his heart-pounding stories before their collaboration on Kiss, the first novel to seat her on "the other side of the desk."

Erin is the owner of WordWright Editorial Services, a consulting firm specializing in fiction book development. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Academy of Christian Editors. She lives with her family in Colorado.







Visit the author's website.





SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:







Beth has a gift of healing-which is why she wants to become a vet and help her family run their fifth-generation cattle ranch. Her father's dream of helping men in trouble and giving them a second chance is her dream too. But it only takes one foolish decision for Beth to destroy it all.



Beth scrambles to redeem her mistake, pleading with God for help, even as a mystery complicates her life. But the repercussions grow more unbearable-a lawsuit, a death, a divided family, and the looming loss of everything she cares about. Beth's only hope is to find the grandfather she never knew and beg for his help. Confused, grieving, but determined to make amends, she embarks on a horseback journey across the mountains, guided by a wild, unpredictable wolf who may or may not be real.



Set in the stunningly rugged terrain of Southern Colorado, House of Mercy follows Beth through the valley of the shadow of death into the unfathomable miracles of God's goodness and mercy.



Genre: Christian Fiction | Suspense







Product Details:

List Price: $15.99

Paperback: 284 pages

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Language: English

ISBN-10: 140168551X

ISBN-13: 9781401685515






AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:




























Chapter 1


It wasn’t every day that an old saddle could improve a
horse’s life.


That was what Beth Borzoi was thinking as she stood in the
dusty tack room that smelled like her favorite pair of leather boots. In the
back corner where the splintering-wood walls met, she tugged the faded leather
saddle off the bottommost rung of the heavy-duty rack, where it had sat, unused
and forgotten, for years.


Her little brother, Danny, would have said she was stealing
the saddle. He might have called her a kleptomaniac. That was too strong a
word, but Danny was fifteen and liked to throw bold words around, cocky-like,
show-off rodeo ropes aimed at snagging people. She loved that about him. It was
a cute phase. Even so, she had formed a mental argument against the characterization
of her- self as a thief, in case she needed to use it, because Danny was too
young to understand the true meaning of even stronger words like sacrifice or
situational ethics.


After all, she was working in secret, in the hidden folds of
a summer night, so that both she and the saddle could leave the Blazing B
unnoticed. In the wrong light, it might look like a theft.


The truth was, it was not her saddle to give away. It was
Jacob’s saddle, though in the fifteen years Jacob had lived at the ranch, she had
never seen him use it. The bigger truth was that this saddle abandoned to
tarnish and sawdust could be put to better use. The fenders were plated with
silver, pure metal that could be melted down and converted into money to save a
horse from suffering. Decorative silver bordered the round skirt and framed the
rear housing. The precious metal had been hammered to conform to the gentle
rise of the cantle in the back and the swell in the front. The lovely round
conchos were studded with turquoise. Hand-tooled impressions of wild mountain f
lowers covered the leather everywhere that silver didn’t.


In its day, it must have been a fine show saddle. And if
Jacob valued that at all, he wouldn’t have stored it like this.


Under the naked-bulb beams of the tack room, Beth’s body
cast a shadow over the pretty piece as she hefted it. She blew the dirt and
dander off the horn, swiped off the cracked seat with the flat of her hand,
then turned away her head and sneezed. Colorado’s dry climate had not been kind
to the leather.


She wasn’t stealing. She was saving an animal’s life.


The latch on the barn door released Beth to the midnight air
with a click like a stolen kiss. The saddle weighed about thirty-five pounds,
which was easy to manage when snatching it off a rack and tossing it onto a
horse’s back. But it would feel much heavier by the time she reached her
destination. She’d parked her truck a ways off where the rumbling old clunker
wouldn’t raise questions or family members sleeping in the nearby ranch house.
She’d left her dog at the foot of Danny’s bed with clear orders to stay. She
hoped the animal would mind.


Energized, she crossed the horses’ yard. A few of them
nickered greetings at her, including Hastings, who nuzzled her empty pockets
for treats. The horses never slept in the barn’s stalls unless they were sick.
Even in winter they stayed in the pasture, preferring the outdoor lean-to
shelters.


The Blazing B, a 6,500-acre working cattle ranch, lay to the
northwest of Colorado’s San Luis Valley. The region was called a valley because
this portion of the state was a Rocky Mountain ham- mock that swung between the
San Juans to the west and the Sangre de Cristos to the east. But at more than
seven thousand feet, it was no low-lying flatland. It was, in fact, the highest
alpine valley in the world. And it was the only place in the world that Beth
ever wanted to live. Having graduated from the local community college with
honors and saved enough additional money for her continuing education, she
planned to leave in the fall to begin her first year of veterinary school. She
would be gone as long as it took to earn her license, but her long-term plan
was to return as a more valuable person. Her skills would save the family
thousands of dollars every year, freeing up funds for their most important
task—providing a home and a hard day’s work to discarded men who needed the
peace the Blazing B had to offer.


On this late May night, a light breeze stirred the alfalfa
growing in the pasturelands while the cattle grazed miles away. The herds
always spent their summers on public lands in the mountains while their winter
feed grew in the valley. They were watched over by a pool rider, a hired man
who was a bit like a cow’s version of a shepherd. He stayed with them through
the summer and would bring them home in the fall.


With the winter calving and spring branding a distant
memory, the streams and irrigation wells amply supplied by good mountain
runoff, and the healthy alfalfa fields thickening with a June cutting in mind,
the mood at the Blazing B was peaceful.


When Beth was a quarter mile beyond the barn, a bobbing
light drew her attention to the west side of the pasture, where ancient cottonwood
trees formed a barrier against seasonal winds and snows. She paused, her eyes
searching the darkness beyond this path that she could walk blindfolded. The
light rippled over cottonwood trunks, casting shadows that were
indistinguishable from the real thing.


A man was muttering in a low voice, jabbing his light around
as if it were a stick. She couldn’t make out his words. Then the yellow beam
stilled low to the ground, and she heard a metallic thrust, the scraping ring
of a shovel’s blade being jammed into the dirt.


Beth worried. It had to be Wally, but what was he doing out
at this hour, and at this place? The bunkhouse was two miles away, and the men
had curfews, not to mention strict rules about their access to horses and
vehicles.


She left the path and approached the trees without a
misstep. The moonlight was enough to guide her over the uneven terrain.


“Wally?”


The cutting of the shovel ceased. “Who wants to know?” “It’s
Beth.”


“Beth who?”


“Beth Borzoi. Abel’s daughter. I’m the one who rides
Hastings.” “Well, sure! Right, right. Beth. I’m sorry you have to keep telling
me. You’re awfully nice about it.”


The light that Wally had set on the ground rose and pointed
itself at her, as if to confirm her claims, then dropped to the saddle resting
against her thighs. Wally had been at the ranch for three years, since a stroke
left his body unaffected but struck his brain with a short-term memory
disorder. It was called anterograde amnesia, a forgetfulness of experiences but
not skills. He could work hard but couldn’t hold a job because he was always
forgetting where and when he was supposed to show up. Here at the ranch he
didn’t have to worry about those details. He had psychologists and strategies
to guide him through his days, a community of brothers who reminded him of
everything he really needed to know. Well, most things. He had been on more
than one occasion the butt of hurtful pranks orchestrated by the men who shared
the bunkhouse with him. It was both a curse and a blessing that he was able to
forget such incidents so easily.


Beth was the only Beth at the Blazing B, and the only female
resident besides her mother, but these facts regularly eluded Wally. He never
forgot her father, though, and he knew the names of all the horses, so this was
how Beth had learned to keep putting herself back into the context of his life.


“You’re working hard,” she said. “You know it’s after
eleven.” “Looking for my lockbox. I saw him take it. I followed him here just
an hour ago, but now it’s gone.”


Sometimes it was money that had gone missing. Sometimes it
was a glove or a photograph, or a piece of cake from her mother’s dinner table
that was already in his belly. All the schedules and organizational systems in
the world were not enough to help Wally with this bizarre side effect of his
disorder: whenever a piece of his mind went missing, he would search for it by
digging. Dr. Roy Davis, Wally’s psychiatrist, had curtailed much of Wally’s
compulsive need to overturn the earth by having him perform many of the Blazing
B’s endless irrigation tasks. Even so, the ten square miles of ranch were
riddled with the chinks of Wally’s efforts to find what he had lost.


“That must be really frustrating,” she said. “I hate it when
I lose my stuff.”


“I didn’t lose it. A gray wolf ran off with it. I had it
safe in a secret spot, and he dug it up and carried off the box in his teeth.
Hauled it all the way up here and reburied it. Now tell me, what’s a wolf gonna
do with my legal tender? Buy himself a turkey leg down at the supermarket?”


Wally must have kept a little cash in his box. She could
under- stand his frustration. But this claim stirred up disquiet at the back of
her mind. Dr. Roy would need to know if Wally was seeing things. First off,
gray wolves were hardly ever spotted in Colorado. They’d been run out of the
state before World War II by poachers and hos- tile ranchers, and their return
in recent years was little more than a rumor. Wally might have seen a coyote.
But for another thing, no wild animal dug up a man’s buried treasure and
relocated it. Except maybe a raccoon.


A raccoon trying to run off with a heavy lockbox might actually
be entertaining.


“Tell you what, Wally. If he’s buried it here we’ll have a
better chance of finding it in the morning. When the sun comes up, I’ll help
you. But they’ll be missing you at the bunkhouse about now. Let me take you
back so no one gets upset when they see you’re gone.” Jacob or Dr. Roy would do
bunk checks at midnight.


“Upset? No one can be as upset as I am right now.” He thrust
the shovel into the soft dirt at his feet. “I saw the dog do it. I tracked him
all the way here, like he thought I wouldn’t see him under this full moon. Fool
dog—but who’d believe me? It’s like a freaky fairy tale, isn’t it? Well, I’d
have put that box in a local vault if I didn’t have to keep so many stinkin’
Web addresses and passwords and account numbers and security questions at my
fingertips.” He withdrew a small notebook from his hip pocket and waved the
pages around. It was one of the things he used to keep track of details. “Maybe
I’ll have to rethink that.”


Beth’s hands had become sweaty and a little cramped under
the saddle’s weight. She used her right knee to balance the saddle and fix her
grip. The soft leather suddenly felt like heavy gold bricks out of someone
else’s bank vault.


“Well, let’s go,” she said. “I’ve got my truck right on down
the lane.”


“What do you have there?” Wally returned the notebook to his
pocket, hefted the shovel, and picked his way out of the under- brush, finding
his way by flashlight.


“An old saddle. It’s been in the tack room for years.” She
expected Wally to forget the saddle just as quickly as he would for- get this
night’s adventure and her promise to help him dig in the morning.


He lifted one of the fenders and stroked the silver with his
thumb. “Pretty thing. Probably worth something. Not as much as that box is
worth to me, though.”


“We’ll find it,” Beth said.


“You bet we will.” Wally fell into step beside her. “Thanks
for the ride back, Beth. You’re a good girl. You got your daddy in you.”


With Jacob’s old saddle resting on a blanket in the bed of
her rusty white pickup, Beth followed an access road from the horse pasture by
her own home down into the heart of the Blazing B.


The property’s second ranch house was located more strategically
to the cattle operation, and so it was known to all as the Hub. The Hub was a
practical bachelor pad. Outside, the branding pens and calving sheds and
squeeze chutes and cattle trucks filled up a dusty clearing around the house.
Inside, the carpets and old leather furniture, even when clean, smelled like
men who believed that a hard day’s work followed by a dead sleep—in any
location—was far more gratifying than a hot shower. The house was steeped in
the scent stains of sweat and hay, horses and manure, tanned leather and
barbecue smoke. The men who slept here lived like the bachelors they were. If
their daily labors weren’t enough to impress a woman, the cowboys couldn’t be
bothered with her.


Dr. Roy Davis, known affectionately by all as Dr. Roy, was a
lifelong friend of Beth’s father. Years ago, after the death of Roy’s wife,
Abel and Roy merged their professional passions of ranching and psychiatry and
expanded the Blazing B’s purpose. It became an outreach to functional but
wounded men like Wally who needed a home and a job. Dr. Roy brought his teenage
son, Jacob, along. Now thirty-one, Jacob had never found reason to leave,
except for the years he’d spent away at college earning multiple degrees in agriculture
and animal management. Jacob had been the Blazing B’s general operations
manager for more than five years.


Jacob and his father shared the Hub with Pastor Eric, who
was a divorced minister, and Emory, a therapist who was once a gang leader.
These men were the Borzois’ four full-time employees.


The other men who lived at the Blazing B were called “associates.”
They occupied the bunkhouse, some for a few weeks and some for years. At
present there were six, including Wally.


When Beth stopped her truck in front of the Hub’s porch,
Wally slipped off the seat of her cab, closed the rusty door, and went directly
around back to the bunkhouse. She pulled away and had reached the end of the
drive when a rut jarred the truck and rattled the shovel he’d left in the truck
bed.


In spite of her hurry to take Jacob’s saddle to the people
who needed it, she put the truck in park, jumped out, and jogged the tool up to
the house. The porch light lit the squeaky wood steps, and she took them two at
a time. Jacob would see the tool in the morning when he came out to start up
his own truck and head out to what- ever project was on the schedule. She’d
phone him to make sure.


She was tipping the handle into the corner where the porch
rail met the siding when the Hub’s front door opened and Jacob leaned out.
“Past your bedtime, isn’t it?” he said,
but he was smiling at


her. Over the years they had settled into a comfortable
big-brother- little-sister relationship, though Beth had never fully outgrown
her adolescent crush on him.


“Found Wally digging up by the barn,” she said.


Surprise pulled his dark brows together. “Now? Where is he?”
“Back in bed, I guess. He said he followed a wolf up to our place. You might
want Dr. Roy to look into that. Your dad should know if Wally’s . . . seeing
things.”


Jacob nodded as he stepped out the door and leaned against
the house. He crossed his arms. “Coyote maybe?”


“Try suggesting that to him. And when was the last time we
had a coyote down here? It’s been ages—not since Danny gave up his chicken
coop.”


“I’ll mention that to Dad. It’s probably nothing. What had
you out at the barn at this hour? Horses okay?”


“Fine.” Beth’s eyes swiveled down to her truck, to Jacob’s
saddle, both well beyond reach of the porch light. She tried to recall all her
justifications for taking the saddle, but in that moment all she could think
was that she should get his permission to do it. She’d known this man more than
half her life. He was kind. He was wise. He’d say yes. He’d want her to take
it.


But she said, “I’m headed out to the Kandinskys’ place.
They’ve got a horse who injured his eye, and it’s pretty bad. They let it go
too long, you know, hoping it would correct itself, maybe wouldn’t need a big
vet bill.”


“The Kandinskys have their own vet on the premises. Who
called you out?”


“It’s not one of their horses, actually. It’s Phil’s.
Remember him?” “Your friend from high school?”


“He’s been working there a year or so. They let him keep the
horse on the property. One of the perks.”


“But he can’t use their vet?”


Beth looked at her feet. “Phil’s family can’t afford their
vet. You know how that goes. We couldn’t afford him. His family doesn’t even
have pets, you know. They run a grocery store. The horse is his little sister’s
project. A 4H thing.”


“Well, tell Phil I said he called the right gal for the
job.”


“I don’t know, Jacob. It sounds really bad. These eye
things— the horse might need surgery.”


She found it unusually difficult to look at him, though she
was sure he was studying her with a suspicious stare by now. But she couldn’t
look at the truck either. Her eyes couldn’t find an object to rest on.


“All you can do is all you can do, Beth. That’ll be as true
after you’re licensed as it is now.”


“But I want to do miracles,” she said.


He chuckled at that, though she hadn’t been joking. “Don’t
we all.” He uncrossed his arms and put his hand on the doorknob, preparing to
go back inside. “I heard some big-shot Thoroughbred breeder is boarding some of
his studs there,” Jacob said. “Some friend of theirs passing through.”


“I heard that too.”


“Maybe that’ll be Phil’s miracle this time—an unexpected
guest, someone with the right know-how or the right resources who will come to
his horse’s rescue.”


“Angels unaware,” Beth said. “Something like that. Night,
Beth.”


Beth didn’t want him to go just yet. “Night.”


She lingered at the door while it closed, hoping he might
intuit what she didn’t have the courage to say.


When he didn’t, she committed to her original plan. She
descended the steps in a quiet rush, wanting to whisk the saddle away before he
could object to what he didn’t know. She wanted to be the one who did the good
works, who made the incredible rescue. She couldn’t help herself. It was her
father’s blood running through her heart.


On the driveway, her smooth-soled boots skimmed the dirt,
whispering back to her truck.


“It’s not your right to do it,” Jacob said. Beth gasped and
whirled at the sound of his voice, unexpected and loud and straight into her
ear, as if he’d been standing on her shoulder. “It’s not your gift to give.”


But the ranch house door was shut tight under the cone of
the porch light, and the bright window revealed nothing inside but heavy
furniture and cluttered tabletops. At the back of the house, a different door
closed heavily. Jacob was headed out to the bunk- house to check on Wally
already.


Beth let her captured breath leave her lungs. She looked
around for an explanation, because she didn’t want to accept that the words
might have been uttered by a guilty conscience.


At the base of the porch steps, crouching in such darkness
that its black center sank into its surroundings, was the form of an unusually
large dog. Erect ears, broad head, slender body. A wolf. She had passed that
spot so closely seconds ago that she could have reached out and stroked its
neck.


She took one step backward. Of course, her mind was dreaming
this up because Wally had suggested a wolf to her. If he hadn’t, she might have
said the silhouette had the outline of a snowman. An inverted snowman guarding
the house from her lies. In May.


Beth stared at it for several seconds, oddly unable to
recall the landscape where she’d spent her entire life. She was distressed not
to be able to say from this distance and angle whether that was a shrub planted
there, or a fence post, or an old piece of equipment that hadn’t made it back
into the supply shed. When the shape of its edges seemed to shift and shudder without
actually moving at all, she decided that her eyes were being tricked by the
darkness.


Convincing herself of this was almost as easy as justifying
her saddle theft.


She turned away from the house and hurried onward, looking back
only once.





First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Erin Healy and his/her publisher for sending me a copy of "House of Mercy" 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.

“House of Mercy” is the first novel I’ve read by Erin Healy. Unlike other Christian fiction I’ve read recently, this book opens with and maintains a significant supernatural flavor, reminiscent of Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti. This book is emotionally gripping and will give you chills and keep you turning pages long after you should have turned out the lights. So start this book on a Friday after work and grab food and drinks before you crack the cover.

Beth Borzois has a lot of promise as an animal healer with plans to become a veterinarian. One terrifying night changes the course of Beth’s future as a lawsuit threatens her and her family. But the threat to Beth is even more grim as her troubles escalate and hopelessness descends upon her life. In a final attempt to save the Blazing B, the ranch that has been in her family for generations, Beth leaves home and embarks on a treacherous journey to seek help from her grandfather, whom she has never met.

In an equally chilling sub-plot, Garner hasn’t spoken to his daughter, Rose, in years. Stubbornly opposed to Rose’s choice of husband, he has never even met his grandchildren but now believes that he is receiving a sign that it is time to go get his daughter.

The plot orchestration in this novel is well-crafted. The characters drew an emotional response from me, and even though I wouldn’t associate with several of them if they were actual people I knew, I feel that my strong reaction to them means that Erin Healy did a terrific job in creating them.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Truth Project - Lesson Two – Philosophy and Ethics: Says Who?

WOW! Week two was mind-blowing! First, let me remind you that the goal of “The Truth Project” is transformation and we can only be transformed in the presence of God.

The Bible warns us to “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) This is not a hollow warning. What does deceptive philosophy look like?

Assumptive language is the powerful, deceptive use of words that seem to make a simple statement hoping that the hearer will buy that simple statement without recognizing the huge assumptions behind the simple statement. Oh, boy! Have I fallen for this more than once! We need discernment so that we don’t buy the lie, my brothers and sisters!

One lie that many have bought is the concept of the “Cosmic Cube”. It is a box containing matter, energy, people and there is nothing outside the box. A Biblical worldview dictates that God created the box and its contents and that He is active within the box.

The definition of philosophy is to discover ultimate reality…or truth. The direct translation of the words philo + Sophia is “the love of wisdom”. The perception of what wisdom is can lead a person toward truth or away from it. For example, a Biblical worldview states that God has given us the “big picture” (Universals) so that we might better understand the granular components (Particulars) that make up the “big picture”. A non-Biblical worldview states the opposite: that we have the granular components that help us understand the “big picture”. It took me a while to wrap my head around this one because I’ve embraced this “philosophy” more than once.

Postmodernism says that there is no absolute truth. Truth is relative. LIE! This implies that we are cosmic accidents. I was floored by this question: What is right and wrong? The answer to this question reveals a crisis in ethics: if 51% of the people do it, it’s normal. If it’s normal, it’s good. OY VAY!

Your worldview colors how you think and act. It is comprised of the truth claims that you believe and embrace as reflecting reality. The consequences of a non-Biblical worldview is worldly thinking and action, buying the lie and conforming to the world. But Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” The Greek word for transformed is metamorphoo. From it, we get the word metamorphosis. This word appears three times in scripture: Romans 12:2 (transformed), Mark 9:2 (transfigured) and 2 Corinthians 3:18 (transformed). Take a minute to look up those verses. Then tell me…

How are you renewing your mind?

31 Days to a Happy Husband by Arlene Pellicane


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:





Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2012)





***Special thanks to Ginger Chen of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Arlene Pellicane is an author, speaker, and formerly served as the associate producer for Turning Point Television with Dr. David Jeremiah. Her audiobook and website Losing Weight After Baby has helped many moms achieve their physical and personal goals. Arlene and her family make their home in southern California.






Visit the author's website.





SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:





What does a man need most from his wife? Arlene Pellicane has identified five keys that will give wives a new appreciation and understanding of how to love and care for their mates along with practical instruction to motivate and equip wives to provide their husbands what they long for.








Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 208 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736946322

ISBN-13: 9780736946322






AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:




























Are You Still Dreaming?


The year was
1999 and my big moment had finally arrived. I stood holding my father’s arm,
ready to make my grand entrance into the church. James and I had decided to
have one of his favorite seminary professors marry us. Ours was only his second
wedding to officiate, but we didn’t care about his inexperience.


Just as
I approached the door leading into the sanctuary, I was shocked to hear the
sound of our professor’s voice, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to bring
James and Arlene together in holy matrimony.” The only problem was, I was still
standing in the hall with all the bridesmaids. Our professor mistook a break in
the music as his cue to begin the ceremony.


I
couldn’t believe my eyes or ears. Our dear professor got all the way through
his introduction before realizing his error. When he got to that famous line,
“Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” there was complete silence.
Our friends and family didn’t know whether to laugh or be mortified.


At this,
my aunt started playing the piano, and I was thrust through the door of the
church to join my ceremony
in progress
. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d miss
the beginning of my own wedding, but it sure has given us many laughs over the
years.


Do you remember
the day you said “I do”? I hope the ceremony didn’t start without you. Remember
walking down the aisle, feeling like the happiest woman in the world? Your
heart was full of dreams for the future. Are you still dreaming today?


Keep Honeymooning


So many
couples told us after we tied the knot, “Just wait until you’ve been married a
few years. You won’t be so lovey-dovey anymore.” But there was one lone voice
who gave us the opposite advice. “Never let the honeymoon end,” he said. “It’s
much easier to keep love alive than to try to revive something that has died.”
We vowed to follow his advice.


Fast-forward
the tape twelve years to our aha moment. James and I were teaching a
young-marrieds class at our church. On the first day of class, we noticed there
was not a centimeter of space in between these newlywed couples. Wives were
superglued to their husbands’ sides. Eyes were locked, hands were held, hair
was twirled. I looked over at my James who was sitting about a foot away from
me. We, the sage teachers, needed a refresher course on touch, affection, and
romance.


Most
likely you know what I’m talking about. The heat of passion turns into the
warmth of companionship. But that warmth, if we don’t take time to stoke the
embers, can slowly turn into a cool disengagement between husband and wife. And
before you know it, you’re two roommates sharing a home, a bank account, and
children.


I don’t
want that dull fate and neither do you. Three kids later and in our forties,
James and I are learning to flirt again. The good news is you can relearn how
to do all the things you used to do when you were dating. Except that instead
of being lovers on cruise control, you might have to step on the gas pedal once
in a while for the ride of your life.


Time to Dream Again


I
remember driving down the freeway and seeing a pickup truck with these bold
words printed on the back window: “Happy to be here, proud to serve.” I’d like
you to imagine those words hanging in a frequented place in your home. When you
can say about your home, “Happy to be here and proud to serve,” your husband
will want to hurry home every day because it’s the place he feels most valued
and loved.


This
book will help you create that kind of place for your man. It’s divided into
thirty-one daily readings grouped into five simple sections that will help you
demonstrate to your husband the love that hooked him in the first place. The
titles for each section form the acrostic DREAM. After all, the marriage of
your dreams doesn’t have to be a fairy tale that will never come true. You can
experience the kind of marriage most people dream about by following these five
guidelines:


D = Domestic Tranquillity—Your
husband needs a

peaceful haven (Days 1-5).


R = Respect—Your
husband needs to be honored in

his own home (Days 6-11).


E = Eros—Your
husband needs a fulfilling sex life

(Days 12-19).


A = Attraction—Your
husband needs to be attracted

to you (Days 20-26).


M = Mutual Activities—Your
husband needs to have

fun with you (Days 27-31).


Ask any
husband if he would be happy having these five things in greater measure, and I
can assure you his answer will be a resounding yes! And you just might find
yourself enjoying these things too.


Notice Him, Nurture Him


It
doesn’t take much time or effort to see that our culture is pessimistic about
marriage. A happy marriage seems more like a fairy tale that Pollyanna dreamed
up fifty years ago. Today’s wives are complaining left and right about their
husbands’ many shortcomings. In fact, many women would never pick up a book
like this. Why should a wife make her husband happy when he’s not
making her
happy? I like what host Bob Lepine of Family Life Today says,
“Our role is not to figure out how to fix our spouse. Our role is: How do we
reflect Christ in the marriage?”  1


And
check out this insight from one husband:


When a woman is
engaged to be married, she pours all her nurture into her man. She holds him,
kisses him, and talks sweetly to him. They have fun together, do interesting
things together, and enjoy the physical affection of first love. Then after
they marry and have kids, all that nurture that went originally to the husband
is suddenly transferred to the children. The kids benefit from all the maternal
instincts and become the primary focus of all her tender nurture. The husband
is just as needy for that nurture, but he is too proud to admit it.


When you
look at your husband, you’re probably thinking he looks pretty self-sufficient.
The other people in your life vying for your attention are truly needy (your children,
grandchildren, aging parent, depressed friend). Look again. Your husband craves
your affection and care but doesn’t want to ask for it. He bites the bullet
because he’s supposed to be the strong one. Yet he desperately wants tender
loving care just as you do.


How to Get the Most Out of This Book


The
thirty-one happy husbands I interviewed for this book will serve as your
insider guides for the next thirty-one days. Here are a few suggestions for how
best to glean their insights as you read through this book:


Commit
to reading a chapter every day for one month.
Choose a month to soak your husband in
tender loving care. Maybe choose his birthday month or your anniversary month
to make it extra special and more memorable. But don’t worry—if you want to
start today and his birthday isn’t for months, I’m sure he won’t mind! If you
fall behind one or two days, don’t give up on the “Happy Husband” month. The
chapters are short so you can easily catch up and get back on track.


Read
it in five chunks.

Maybe you want to tackle more than one day’s reading at a time. Once you’re
settled in your comfortable chair to read, you want to keep going. Then I
suggest you divide your reading into sections. Begin with Days 1-5, which cover
Domestic Tranquillity. This way you can concentrate your focus on one key DREAM
factor at a time. After you’ve completed the action steps suggested, you can
move on to the letter R
for Respect (Days 6-11), and so on.


Read
the affirmation for happy wives aloud once a day.
You’ll find this daily affirmation on
page 179. Put your affirmation on your bathroom mirror and read it out loud
every morning. Expect to feel uncomfortable doing this at first. But after a
few days, not only will you believe the words you are saying, you will be living
them out. It’s tempting to skip this step, so when you’re done reading today,
turn to page 179. Photocopy, scan, or type out the page and put it on your
bathroom mirror tonight.


Start
a “Wives of Happy Husbands Discussion Group.”
Read the book together with a group of
friends who also want to add some sizzle to their marriages. Use the discussion
guide on pages 185-192. Plan to meet weekly for five weeks to discuss what
you’re learning. I promise these will be lively coffee dates or meals together!


Do
the action steps.
If
you just read the book without trying any of the action steps, your husband
probably won’t be able to tell you’re reading a book about how to love him
better. At the end of each day’s reading, you’ll find these two recurring
themes:


·
Notice Today —You’ll
be invited to take a close look at your husband. It will take only a few
moments, but it will make a big difference. When you notice something positive
about your husband instead of taking him for granted or rehearsing his faults,
you’ll experience a change of heart and greater warmth for your man.


·
Nurture Today —You’ll
get to put your attitude into action through the daily steps to nurture him.
Remember, if you don’t do
anything differently this month toward your spouse, your thirty-one-day journey
to marital bliss isn’t much more than wishful thinking.


Every
day of your life, you’re either building your husband up or tearing him down.
Proverbs 14:1 says, “The wise woman builds her house,

but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” In the next thirty-one
days, you’re going to launch a full-force, no-holding-back, life-changing
building program for your marriage. Let other things slide while you make your
husband the number one priority for the next thirty-one days. Your only agenda
is to overwhelm him with attention and affir­mation.


Roll up
your sleeves. It’s time to build and dream again.


Marriage Quiz


Do You Have a Happy Husband?


Before
you begin reading Day 1, take this self-assessment to discover what areas in
your marriage need the most attention. Be honest in your answers. You’re not
trying to impress anyone here. Your goal is to gain valuable insight about your
husband’s current level of happiness in your marriage.


The
environment of my home is warm and peaceful on most days.


Yes No


I
drop other things (even with my kids) to make time for my husband if he needs
anything.


Yes No


I
never say unkind things about my husband to others.


Yes No


If
there’s a decision to be made, my husband has the final say.


Yes No


I
enjoy having sex and look forward to making love to my husband.


Yes No


My
husband and I talk regularly about ways to improve our sex life.


Yes No


I
make an effort to look attractive with my clothes, hair, and makeup even on days
when I see only my husband.


Yes No


I
am a healthy body weight and exercise at least three times a week.


Yes No


My
husband and I go on a date at least once a month.


Yes No


We
still enjoy romance, kissing once a day for at least five seconds.


Yes No


Total the number of
yes answers:


1-4: Your relationship is on shaky ground.
There are some critical areas of unmet needs that you must identify both for
yourself and your husband. Reading this book is perfect timing.


5-7: You have some good habits and attitudes to build on. As you
make a few key changes this month, you and your husband will be laughing,
flirting, and enjoying each other’s company more.


8-10: You have a happy husband. By the time you finish reading
this book, he will be ecstatic. You’ll be moving from good to great (or great
to unbelievable). Be on the lookout for other women to encourage and mentor






First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Arlene Pellicane and her publisher for sending me a copy of "31 Days to a Happy Husband" 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.

Arlene Pellicane’s “31 Days to a Happy Husband: What a Man Needs Most from His Wife” is a fun and challenging read. This volume opens with a short marriage quiz designed to show you what areas of your marriage relationship need the most work. Then, you can read each of the 31 chapters or you can jump to the ones that address the areas you would most like to impact. Each chapter is a short read that challenges wives to be more observant of their husbands and more active about meeting his needs.

This book has the potential to promote wonderful encouragement for the men in our lives. Each chapter is a fun and educational read especially if we fully engage the challenges to observe our husbands, which gives us the opportunity to rediscover the men they have become over the years. There are great suggestions for discussion and activity. It also includes a nifty discussion guide full of questions for reflection.