Friday, June 28, 2013

Bible Study: Meet Jesus, Son of God/Son of Man - John - Chapter 12

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the Gospel of John, 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, fall 2009 through late spring 2010, things are looking increasingly bleak with the economy, health care and unemployment, there is a renewal and increase of racism, and godly principles of living being disregarded, there are floods in India, earthquake and tsunami in Samoa. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Seek His wisdom. 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 12 of the book of John. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…


12:1-8 – Compare this account with Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; and Luke 7:37-39. What similarities did you find? What differences? What does this tell you about the perspective of the writer, John? How does this knowledge enhance your understanding of the event?

12:1-3 – KJV implies that Mary helped Martha make the supper.

12:1 – These are Jesus’ last days.

12:4-8 – Judas’ turning point.

12:6 – How did John know Judas was a thief? Did he learn this after Judas’ death? If the apostles knew before, did they try to deal with it?

Remember that John wrote this gospel account as an old man, so he would be able to provide these details.

12:7 – Jesus defended Mary’s action and said this was the intended purpose for the perfume.

Is there some area of your life where you are certain that you are fulfilling God’s intended purpose?

12:9 – Lazarus’ resurrection was bringing attention to Jesus.

12:10-11 – People don’t acknowledge Christ out of fear of persecution.

The chief priests decided to kill Lazarus, too. They had already decided to kill Jesus in 11:50.

12:12-16 – The disciples didn’t understand the fulfillment of the OT scriptures until after Jesus’ death.

12:12-15 – See Matthew 21:4-9; Mark 11:7-10; Luke 19:35-38. What similarities exist in these parallel accounts? What additional information do you glean from these passages? What does this tell you about the perspective of the writer, John? How does this knowledge enhance your understanding of the event?

12:13 – See Leviticus 23:40 and Psalm 118:25-26.

12:15 – See Zechariah 9:9

12:19 – What might the Pharisees have been doing to advance their agenda? Whatever it was, it wasn’t working.

12:20-24 – The time has come for Jesus to suffer and die so that by His death, He would produce many seeds.

Take a few minutes to really think about this. There is no other way that we could be thoroughly reconciled to God. Jesus had to die.

12:20 – Why would the Greeks approach Philip? He was Greek!

12:23-26 – How are Jesus’ words in this passage an appropriate response to the disciples bringing the Greeks to see Jesus?

12:25 – the man who loves his life – philantos.

12:26 – People don’t acknowledge Christ out of fear of where they may have to go to follow Him.

12:29 – God’s voice sounds like thunder. So, the “sons of thunder” were to be His mouthpieces? James was the first martyr. John was the last to die – of old age.

12:42 – People don’t acknowledge Christ out of fear of being put out of the synagogue.

12:43 – People don’t acknowledge Christ because they love the praise of men.

Do you prefer the compliments of people over the praise of God?


• The book of John is called the “Love Gospel”. How have you seen God’s love at work in this chapter of scripture and how will you apply it to your life this week?
• 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?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Learn the Bible in 24 Hours – Hour 21 – 1&2 Thessalonians


Chuck Missler’s eschatological summary is jam-packed with more fascinating facts than can be processed in the hour-long video teaching.  Lots of “ologies” are discussed.  We’re going to concentrate on one.  Eschatology is the study of the end times.  Dr. Missler has challenged his audience many times throughout this course that we are being plunged into a period of time that the Bible says more about than any other time period.  Verify it for yourself through study of God’s Word.

Here’s another big word for you: hermeneutics.  It is the science of interpretation.  Eschatology is a test of our hermeneutics.  Do we take the Bible at face value?  Or do we consider it to be more allegorical?  Personally, I believe in an actual millennium.  I embrace the preposterous belief about the rapture of the church.  I believe the church must be raptured before the Man of Sin (anti-Christ) is revealed.  I believe that the rapture is imminent and that it will occur before the tribulation begins.  I don’t believe that this means Christians will escape persecution altogether.

Fellow believers, I pray that you will get to know Scripture intimately.  And I pray that you will watch what is happening in the world.  You can’t rely on your local news or CNN.  In the last week or so, I came across an article that said a proposal has been made to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.  That sends chills up and down my spine.  The temple must be rebuilt for the anti-Christ to defile it and present himself as god.  Ooh, shivers!

This is just a fraction of what the video teaching presents.  And there’s no telling where your small group discussion will go this week.

Homework for next time:  Revelation 1-3

Monday, June 24, 2013

Way Back in the Gardenia Rows: Everyday God-Moments and the Recipes that Accompany Them by Kay Wheeler Moore

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:

Hannibal Books (April 29, 2013)

***Special thanks to Jennifer Nelson, PR Specialist, Hannibal Books for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kay Wheeler Moore is a Pulitzer-Prize nominee who stirred up her heirloom cornbread from "Way Back in the Country" and her tangy orange/pecan salad from "Way Back in the Country Garden" on live TV while she promoted preserving family history through recipes. Her other previous books are "When the Heart Soars Free", a book of Christian fiction, and "Gathering the Missing Pieces in an Adopted Life", based on her newspaper series when she was a Houston Chronicle reporter. She and husband, Louis, are parents of two adult children and their spouses and grandparents of three.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

What are the tangible moments in life when God has been so real to you, you can almost hear His heart beating? When has He provided such an unlikely solution to a dilemma, the answer had to be His doing and a result of no other source?

Pulitzer Prize nominee Kay Moore, author of "Way Back in the Country" and "Way Back in the Country Garden", collections of family recipes and the stories behind them, now inspires readers to preserve God-moments in their own lives and to capture recipes of the foods that were served accompanying those life-changing times. Using illustrations from her own experiences, she contends that God shows up in quiet, everydaylife lessons as well as in miracles that may not be of the Damascus Road scale but nonetheless make a permanent imprint on the human heart.

As with her other "Way Back" books, Kay’s newest is packed with recipes for tantalizing foods, all of which are accompanied by small vignettes describing the context in which they were served and which illustrate the bond of food, family, and faith.


Product Details:
List Price: $14.95
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Hannibal Books (April 29, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1613150253
ISBN-13: 978-1613150252


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Introduction



Food and Faith:

Holy Ground



Early June mornings, while the dew still shimmered on the summer grass, I wordlessly followed my mother out back to her prized spot by the hedge.



In my shirtwaist of starched organdy with its prodigious bow I stood expectantly while she took her shears and lopped off the most showy bloom from a bush in her gardenia rows.



Fragrance from the creamy white petals invaded my nostrils as she pulled a silver safety pin from her apron pocket and fastened the flower to my dress.



Down the street, bells from the tile-roofed steeple called neighboring children to line up for Vacation Bible School. Mother wanted to be sure I wore (and smelled) my church-going best even though the morning would find me wrist-deep in finger paints.



At noon, after my class of kindergarteners had memorized our Scripture verses and heard flannelgraph Bible stories and pledged allegiance to the Christian flag, I walked the short block back home to my house.



By that point my gardenia was limp and brown-tipped; its scent was diluted by my sweatdrops from the playground.



But none of that mattered, because my mother was waiting with her welcoming lunch of tuna-salad sandwiches and chocolate-chip cookies formed into bars.



When I think about the days in which the concept of God’s love first was introduced in my life, I can’t help associating those happenings with the gardenia blossoms and tuna fish and bars of chewy chocolate.



Those summer-sweet days at Bible School helped teach me Who God was, how He created the world, how He moved in history, and how He was a personal Father Who knew and loved me.



Interlaced with all those memories, something yummy to eat always was around the corner. Food and faith—they were an everpresent duo in my life—just as I know they are in the lives of others, as well.





* * * * * * * *

This book, simply put, tells stories of ways I’ve experienced God—and the food that accompanied some of those God-moments.



Some think Christian testimonies must be linked to a pat, memorized format of Scriptures or must cover a set of key points that spring from a proper acronym.



In God’s Word, however, Bible figures simply share their testimonies by relating what God has done for them. The blind man Jesus heals proclaims through the simple statement, “I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:25). The forgiven woman at the well merely narrates, “He told me everything I ever did” (John 4:39). Before Agrippa, the apostle Paul quietly recalls the Damascus Road (Acts 26).



Old Testament writers repeatedly recount God’s hand in history (for example, Ps. 18). All are simple stories, earnestly told, of golden God-moments in each of their lives.



Way Back in the Gardenia Rows represents a collection of my faith stories—certainly not every one of them, since they happen every day and every hour. Oceans of ink could not possibly describe them all.



Part of them recount my “faith genealogy”—religious influences from past generations that trickled down to merge into the river of faith that flows into my heart. They show how God was at work in my life for generations before I ever was born.



Others delineate times in which God’s hand was so apparent that I could only stop and acknowledge, as Moses did, that I stood on holy ground. Some occur during a tsunami of tragedy and challenge; others happen on spiritual mountaintops; still others take place during unremarkable, quiet moments with nothing afoot except the stirring of the Spirit.



These are family stories; God works in families in every generation. From the first biblical grouping of Adam and Eve and their offspring He picks the family as the milieu in which He accomplishes His work. He places Jesus into a family. This is what He does with me as well.



Although our paltry lives may seem inconsequential, they actually are no different from those of the Old Testament patriarchs or the New Testament martyrs. All of us, as our pastor once instructed us, are involved in an epic that surpasses the great epic films such as Braveheart or Last of the Mohicans or Gladiator. We are involved in an epic tale that is the redemption of humankind. Every single day “we get to play a part in that huge story,” he told us.1



This is simply my version of my particular bit-part in that epic. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts, says Psalm 145:4. I want to make sure that the next generations are reminded of His mighty acts in my life and theirs, too.



As with my previous two cookbooks, which featured the antics of The Three Red-Haired Miller Girls (my mother and two aunts) and the generations that surrounded them, these family stories are linked to recipes—a food that was served at the dinner after a baptism, cookies that were prepared as we celebrated the miracle of our daughter’s graduation. I consider these foods to be integral to that particular memory from my faith journey. The story of that event wouldn’t be complete without remembering what we ate, who originated the recipes, and other lore that surrounded the cooking and consuming.



Many of these cooks have left this earth and today are dining in the banquet hall of the King. Telling about their special dishes almost seems to bring these dear ones back to life again.



* * * * * * * *

These happen to be my stories, but they are undistinguished. Every reader can spin similar yarns—only the names and circumstances differ from those of mine. Again, as with my two previous recipe books, I repeat the urging: tell your own tales, preserve your own happenings. Commend God’s works in your life to the generation that follows yours. While you’re at it, throw in a good recipe or two. Lock all this in for those that live after you.



Make sure they know that throughout your life, humble and ordinary as it may seem in the scope of human history, you—as I—have been standing on holy ground.













Today’s tuna-salad versions are so soigné with upscale additions, our forebears wouldn’t recognize this basic staple that was on the table at least three or four times a week (served on white bread with crusts removed) when I was a pup. All these years later I still think my mother’s cloth-coat variety is best.





Mable’s Tuna-Fish Sandwich Spread



1 (5-ounce) can tuna, packed in water

1 hard-boiled egg, diced

1 medium apple, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

1/2 cup mayonnaise



In a medium bowl flake tuna that has been drained. Stir in egg, apple, and celery. Fold in mayonnaise. Spread on bread slices.





Chapter 1



Tippy-Toeing By



“Keep your eyes straight ahead, and whatever you do, don’t look out at the audience.”



No set of instructions could have been more of a siren song to a 5 1/2-year-old—even one about to follow Christ in baptism as she stood in slightly chilly waters on a spring morning.



After all, I had to know whether my daddy was out there among the onlookers. Daddy typically worshiped at his own church—Austin Street Church of Christ—on Sundays, while Mother and I filled the pews at First Baptist, Garland.



But on this red-letter day Daddy made a special exception and joined the Baptists in worship. All the more reason why I simply must careen my head ever so slightly toward the crowd to see whether I could nab a glimpse of him.



Then, just as the service was about to start, I heard him clear his throat. Nobody made this trademark, gutteral throat-



clearing sound like my Daddy. Suddenly I had the answer I needed. He’s here! I could assure myself.



I righted myself on the platform with its few bricks added so my shrimpy little head could be seen above the baptistery rail. Bro. Cockrell then baptized me as a symbol of my pledge to live for Jesus from that time on.



How did it happen that one so young—barely a first-grader—was making the most important decision of her life?



Long before my birth, did certain foundation stones that would help me one day decide I wanted to become a Christian get cemented in place?



Granted, God has no grandchildren. We do not inherit salvation just because we had righteous forebears. Every person must make his or her own decision about trusting Christ as Savior.



Yet the milieu in which I was reared most certainly created a fertile ground for being open to the gospel. Who had plowed that ground before me?



* * * * * * * *

To answer that question, I started by looking at the faith-lives of some of the Christians on my family tree. For example, if anyone ever found God’s grace dumped smack-dab in the center of her lap, it would be my maternal great-grandmother, Frances Mitchell Harris.



I let my imagination wander back to 1873 and tried to envision 20-year-old Frances as she and her family of eight jostled along in their ox-wagon on the rutted roads between their home near Jackson, MS, and their new location in northeast Texas.



Did Frances hear, No going back. No going back, every time a loose side board on their wagon made a clomp-clomp-clack, clomp-clomp-clack sound? As the prairie road snaked by her, Frances doubtless knew she might never return to her birthplace in the Deep South. Frances was the oldest offspring of her parents, Littleton and Annie Eliza Mitchell. What would Texas be like for the Mitchells in this new state to the west? she may have pondered.



In Frances’ mind, just about any place would have been good for putting the past behind her. Like many others, her family had lost everything in the Civil War. Littleton’s plantation near Jackson was burned out in the “late conflict”, as many called it. A friend of “Lit” already had relocated to Kaufman County, TX, and had a large farm there. He asked Lit to join him in Texas and help work the blackland prairie in that area.



Frances also had another reason for needing a new locale. She had ended a brief marriage to her young husband, James Miller. They had married in Mississippi a few days before Frances’ 15th birthday but parted only about a year later when things didn’t work out. James had been 21.



Twin babies lay buried under the soil back home in the Magnolia State.1 A wedded life that began with high hopes had gone afoul. Perhaps Texas would bring happier times.



* * * * * * * *

Another Texas newcomer—Joseph Francis Harris, who farmed land nearby—already made his home in Kaufman County, where the Mitchells soon would build their log cabin with its dirt floor. Though only 23 Joe Harris already had his share of rip-snorting life experiences.



Hailing from Washington County, IL, Joe at age 18 enlisted in the War Between the States, where he fought opposite Frances Mitchell’s South. Although he is not thought to have seen much combat, Joe was injured in a fall from a bucking horse while he was on Army duty in May 1865.2 After his discharge he was badly hurt while he worked on a dredge boat on the Mississippi River. Once in Texas he became a stagecoach driver; while doing this he almost froze to death in a snow-and-sleet storm.



But by the time the Mitchell family arrived in Kaufman County in 1872 or 1873, Joe had settled into farming. Sometime soon after the Mitchells landed in Texas, Joe and Frances met and fell in love. Frances never had obtained a divorce from James Miller, although they had been separated for several years. But a few days after that divorce was granted, a JP married Frances and Joe. The newlyweds lived on a farm about 12 miles from Terrell, TX.3



Before 11 months of marriage went by, a baby boy was born to the couple. Indeed, if Frances were grieving an empty cradle from an earlier time, the arrival of Charles Cornelius Harris on December 31, 1873, helped fill the hole in her heart. Before young Charlie reached age 2, a second boy, Eddie, joined the family; another brother, Thomas, was born before Charlie was 3. Twins Jesse and Albert would appear on the scene before Charlie celebrated his 5th birthday.



God truly had granted Frances a second chance from the life she left behind in Mississippi. At the end of the clomp-clomp-clack, no-going-back of the ox-wagon, God had made sure the man who would become her life’s companion and by whom she would have 14 children was already in place, waiting for her.



* * * * * * * *

How Frances Harris’ faith shaped her life in those days is not precisely defined in the record left behind her. Her obituary states that she had been a member of the Baptist church all her life. I feel fortunate to possess her family Bible and know she must have opened it for guidance, especially during times of heartache that were to lie ahead for her and Joe.



Their second and third boys, Eddie and Thomas, each died in young childhood. Their first daughter, Mollie May, did not live to see her 2nd birthday. A later son, John Delbert, died as a teen. Jesse, one of the twins born to Joe and Frances, ultimately left his wife and their five young children and didn’t return to the family. How I wish we knew the verses Frances claimed as anchors during those hours of trial.



But Frances had to realize that God was the source of all her blessings and was the One who turned her life around from those dark days in Mississippi. A total of 57 grandchildren, including my mother, Mable Miller, and her sisters Frances and Bonnie, emerged from the 49-year union of Frances and Joe. Among Frances’ offspring are many committed Christians. My maternal grandmother, Mattie (ninth child of Joe and Frances), no doubt was put on that pathway by a godly mother.

A loving family surrounded Grandma Harris with affection and care until her life ended at 92. As I wrote in my first cookbook, Way Back in the Country, Grandma’s photographs in later years always showed her with a contented smile, even though a broken hip left her wheelchair-confined during many of those latter years.



I’m convinced that Frances Harris was a woman with peace in her heart because she knew that God was the Source of all she had received in this life and would provide for her in the next.



Frances Mitchell Harris—the first plank in the platform of faith that would shape my years.



* * * * * * * *

The second plank—the Miller clan on the paternal side—also demonstrated faith in times of severe hardship—faith that would trickle down to my mother and ultimately to me. (This Miller family was no relation to Grandma Harris’ first husband, James.)



My great-great-grandmother, Rebecca Compton Miller, remained devoted to God even after her husband, Peter White Miller Sr., was butchered4 up and died from complications of his war injuries. He had served in the Confederate Army from Tennessee.



Rebecca, like many other Civil War widows, no doubt experienced cruelties in the years just after the war. Likely her land and other property eventually were seized. At the time, she was 46. Her children included a 2-year-old son.



Ultimately she moved from Tennessee to Delta County, TX, to join several of her kin. One of them was son Alfred Compton Miller, eventually grandfather to the Miller Girls.



Family historian Garland Button conjectures that a life of Christian dignity even in the face of suffering and separation characterized stalwart Rebecca. “The life of Rebecca Compton Miller must have undoubtedly been deeply rooted in the Christian faith,” Button writes. He says this was reflected in the lives of the 15 Miller children, all of whom lived to adulthood.



“This family is one that throughout its history has been made up of people dedicated to the Christian ethic in its fullest sense,” Button continued.



Like his father, Alfred C. Miller was not given the gift of years. At age 40 in 1892 he passed from this life and left his wife, Margaret, as a young widow with six children—a seventh one died just three weeks before Alf did.



At this point my mother and her sisters became direct eyewitnesses to the Miller family faith legacy.



Their grandmother, Margaret, as had her mother-in-law, Rebecca, lived with the families of various children after she was widowed. My mother, Mable, remembers Grandma Miller kneeling every night by her bedside while she stayed in the home of the Miller Girls’ parents, Mark and Mattie.



“We would see her praying and would tippy-toe by the door so we wouldn’t disturb her,” my mother recalled.



The bowed countenance of Margaret Miller, a grandmother who had suffered much, impressed Mable, Frances, and Bonnie Miller. In their adult lives all three sisters were Christian women devoted to prayer.



As they grew up, the Miller Girls were always in church—singing their red-haired father’s favorite hymn, “Wonderful Words of Life”, as well as other classics. As I wrote in the chapter, “Roll, Jordan, Roll”, in my first cookbook, Way Back in the Country, the three sisters never had a question about whether the family would attend services on Sunday; the question of where depended on the weather. Their own church was the New Hope Baptist Church, where Papa was ordained a deacon. But if rains had fallen on Saturday night and the roads weren’t dry, the Methodist church in Brushy Mound was closer to them and would do just fine.



All three girls trusted Christ as Savior and were baptized in the pool adjacent to the cotton gin in their community. Way Back in the Country describes frequent two-week tent revivals. At one of them Mable made her profession of faith.



History repeated itself into a third generation when the Miller Girls’ mother, Mattie, was left a widow while in the prime of her life—age 49. Three successive Miller men—Peter Miller; Peter’s son, Alfred, and Alf’s son, Marcus—all died in middle age, leaving wives and families that depended on them.



Once again a grieving Miller woman turned to—and found—help in the Heavenly Father. Mattie easily could have given God a real flaying and demanded to know why her beloved was abruptly taken from her. Instead she leaned on Him in her needy hour. Just as the Miller Girls had observed their grandmother in prayer, I often saw my Nanny with bowed head as she sat in her rocker with her Bible open. I always felt confident that some of those prayers were for me. Almost until she died, she gave enthusiastically to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Her means were few, but out of them she contributed to spread the gospel.



Christian role-modeling from this second plank of my faith legacy—the Millers. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them (Ps. 22:4).



* * * * * * * *

Matters of faith in the Wheeler family—the third plank in my platform—are detailed in chapter 2, “The Runaway”. But a visual that I observed when I once visited my grandfather Wheeler’s place of origin—Borden Springs, AL—summed up the story for me.



There, in a graveyard adjacent to the Church of Christ, were Wheeler markers as far as the eye could see. Towering over them was the headstone for the grave of Calvin Marshall Wheeler, my granddad’s grandfather—the progenitor.



Churches of Christ had a heavy concentration in Alabama as the movement grew in the middle of the 19th century. It traces its origins to the Restoration Movement (also called the Stone-Campbell movement) of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, as Barton Stone-Alexander Campbell followers from Kentucky and Tennessee migrated into northern Alabama.



Cathryn Killian, my late cousin on the Wheeler side, told me that the Wheeler family had been aligned with Churches of Christ for many generations, which probably explains why my dad never quite was willing to sprint over and join my Baptist mom in her church membership. My granddad, James Devastus Wheeler (I nicknamed him “Bandad”), became a lay Church of Christ preacher, as the next chapter explains. His spiritual impact on my life was immeasurable.



My grandfather was a boy of 3 when his father, James Washington Wheeler (more on him in the next chapter) pulled up stakes from this idyllic setting in the Blue Ridge foothills and began his Texas migration. Whether my grandfather’s branch ever made return trips to Alabama to see those left behind is a matter of mystery.



But in their new state they decidedly brought their Church of Christ heritage. Once settled into Antioch, TX, in Delta County, they joined the Church of Christ. James Devastus grew up in that setting and at age 13 was baptized at nearby Rattan.6 As an adult, when he and Zella moved to Cooper in 1910, he found no Church of Christ congregation existed and drew together a few disciples to begin a local body.7 My Bandad, in my estimation, was one of the truest Christians that ever walked on the earth.



* * * * * * * *

The spiritual roots of the W.H. Wright family–my dad’s maternal side—are obtuse because of the situation that makes most Wright information cloudy. Chapter 10, “In Search of Mollie V.”, describes the early passing of my grandmother’s mother, Mollie V. Wright, when Mammaw was 6. Mammaw—Zella Mae Wright—then died when I was 10, so I was physically around her less and “caught” less information from her (except one rare jewel of a fact described later) than I did from any of my other living grandparents.



I do know that her family also evacuated from northern Mississippi in the wake of the Civil War aftermath—no doubt for some of the same atrocities that caused the Mitchells and Millers to flee the Deep South.



Regardless of the W.H. Wrights’ faith tradition, soon after Zella married my Bandad, J.D. Wheeler, she joined the Church of Christ and became a part of his family faith practices. She was baptized by C.E. Holt at Rattan, TX.



Here is what my grandfather, her life’s companion of 57 years, wrote on the one-year anniversary of Zella’s passing: “She spent much time in the study of the Bible and was a good Bible student. She spent much time in prayer. Zella was a devoted Christian and a true helper in life, in joy and in sorrow. I believe she is safe in the arms of Jesus.”



Little else needs to be said from this one who knew her best. As with my Nanny, the prayers of my devoted Mammaw, Zella Wright, may just have been some of her greatest spiritual contributions to my life.





* * * * * * * *

What were those prayers by my Nanny and Mammaw? I have no doubt that in part, they pled with God to send a child to their infertile children—Mable and J.D. (Doyce).



And does God answer prayers retroactively? Since prayer transcends time and space, did He know of the urgent petitions my Nanny and my Mammaw one day would utter and start answering them . . . before either of those godly women was even born?



Consider the following story, which concludes my first chapter. The name in this amazing tale—W.F. Kimmell—won’t appear on any of the family trees at the end of the book. But this Civil War narrative about W.F. is as vital to my family faith heritage as are any of these already told.



* * * * * * * *

Eager to do his part for his country, Albion, IN, native William Francis Kimmell enlisted in the 8th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry in April 1861. Enthusiastically he wrote regular and highly detailed letters home to his lady friend, Leah Crispell, back in Albion.8



Initially W.F.’s letters are cheery and buoyant. “I am here a United States soldier enlisted for three years and hoping to do something for my country before I come home again,” he wrote in June 1861.



As days wore on, the realities of the War Between the States set in for this Union frontline infantryman—who fought in some of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War. Many times the enemy troops that faced the 8th Ohio were led by none other than the brilliant strategist, Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson, who knew nothing if not how to annihilate troops. “I helped bury fifteen rebels today,” William’s letter in October 1861 said. “A person never thinks of the dead and wounded during a battle. But it is a horrible sight after it’s all over.”



After the Battle of Blue’s Gap (WV), Kimmell wrote Leah on January 15, 1862, “There was a bullet went through my coat.” After the battle of Winchester, VA, in April 1862, he penned, “I had four bullet ho(l)e in my overcoat, one of them give me a little scratch on the arm.”



At the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day of the war, Kimmell wrote of his group, “Four killed and sixteen wounded out of the thirty-two engaged. How I ever escaped unharmed is a mystery to me . . ..”



After the Battle of Gettysburg, Kimmell wrote Leah, “There is but eleven of us left out of the ninety-eight that came into Virginia two years ago. My chances are growing smaller all the time.”



In December 1863 Kimmell described continued carnage: “I am now the last one of the six men left in the company (six men who shared a tent as they first came into Virginia two years beforehand). . .. Why should they all go before me? I was always considered the smallest and the weakest one of the lot.”



But W.F. continued to survive fray after fray and returned safely home to Albion in late July 1864. William and Leah, to whom he mailed the letters considered to be a unique, firsthand glimpse of frontline Civil War military life, married shortly afterward.



* * * * * * * *

A pensive W.F. once posed the question, “Why should they all go before me?” Earlier he had written, “How I ever escaped unharmed is a mystery to me.” W.F. pondered how he was allowed to live when bullets whirred all around him and death claimed comrade after comrade.



To God, however, the answer to W.F.’s questions was anything but a mystery. God saw beyond those bloody fields of battle and down through the generations to those Delta County prayers that one day Mattie and Zella would pray. The two women’s children—Mable and J.D.—were so, so, so meant to be parents but could not produce them genetically. Mattie and Zella surely begged heaven for a child to occupy this deserving home.



I believe God preserved W.F. because He knew that through his bloodline would spring the child God—from before the foundation of the world—already had picked out to fill those empty arms. He knew that in W.F.’s bloodline one day would be an infant who would need an adoptive mom and dad.



On a November day in 1948, a husband and wife from the combined merger of the Millers, the Harrises, the Mitchells, the Wrights, the Wheelers—all the families mentioned previously in this chapter—would show up at Florence Nightingale Maternity Hospital in Dallas and would present themselves to be just the adoptive parents that this child would need.



On the Civil War’s bloodiest days, God took me into account. It was an example of God’s prevenient grace—the grace that works ahead of time for a specific event in the future. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” Jeremiah 1:5 tells us.

I believe He kept W.F. alive so that His perfect will might be enacted.







My mother’s Golden Fried Okra was an after-church staple we could count on. Although I can’t guarantee it was on the table the Sunday after I was raised out of the baptismal waters, I know my mother missed very few Sundays preparing this dish, which has been called the “pâté of the South”.





Golden Fried Okra



20 okra pods, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1-inch cooking oil



Stir cut-up okra into beaten eggs; then dredge in mixture of flour, cornmeal, salt, and paprika. In large skillet fry in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Makes 4 servings.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Exploring Revelation: An Expository Commentary by John Phillips


Here is my review of this enlightening resource:
 
First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to John Phillips and his publisher for sending me a copy of "Exploring Revelation:  An Expository Commentary" 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.
 
“Exploring Revelation:  An Expository Commentary” by John Phillips is an easy-to-understand tool for interpreting Scripture.  The book of Revelation can be rather complicated to study.  But this commentary de-mystifies the passages of this apocalyptic book and brings greater understanding to the student.

Based on the King James Version of the Bible, this commentary also helps me to get more out of the language of the King James (I recently switched to this version of the Bible to improve my vocabulary).  When I am in the market to purchase a commentary, I will definitely look to the John Phillips Commentary Series.

Bible Study: Meet Jesus, Son of God/Son of Man - John - Chapter 11

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the Gospel of John, 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, fall 2009 through late spring 2010, things are looking increasingly bleak with the economy, health care and unemployment, there is a renewal and increase of racism, and godly principles of living being disregarded, there are floods in India, earthquake and tsunami in Samoa. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Seek His wisdom. 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 11 of the book of John. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…


11 – It’s a fitting idea that Jesus returning Lazarus to life (1-44) would be a major catalyst that led to plotting His death (45-57). After all, His death leads to eternal life for all of us.

11:1-16 – portrait of peace.

11:1-3 – Mary and Martha send word to Jesus that Lazarus is sick.

11:4-6 – Does the fact that Jesus knows everything comfort you?

11:4 – If Lazarus was already dead when Jesus received this message, the messenger wouldn’t reach Martha in time to encourage her with Jesus’ response.

11:6 – Jesus stayed where He was two more days.

Was Lazarus already dead when Jesus got the news?

11:7-8 – When Jesus wants to return to Judea (Where was He?), the disciples remind Him that the people there want to stone Him.

11:9-10 – What do these verses mean? According to 9:4 and 12:35, Jesus is the Light of the world that provides guidance and illumination for the path (Psalm 119:105).

Is He perhaps saying that He will not sneak around, but will boldly do His Father’s work?

11:11-15 – Lazarus’ death is permitted in order to glorify God. See v. 4.

11:15 – For the disciples’ sake? How did this benefit them?

11:16 – What positive and negative characteristics can you discern from Thomas’ response to the situation?

11:17 – Lazarus has been in the tomb four days.

four days – the spirit was believed to stay near the body for only three days.

11:18 – Why mention that Jerusalem is two miles away from Bethany? It would probably only take an hour or less to walk there. Was Jesus in Jerusalem? According to 10:40, He was in Bethany, already.

11:20 – Martha came to Jesus. Mary didn’t. Hmmm.

11:21-27 – Martha’s faith progresses to exclaiming that Jesus is the Christ!

11:22 – Martha is saying, Jesus, you didn’t meet my need, but I trust you still.

11:25-26 – Jesus is telling Martha to quit looking at Lazarus and look at Him!

11:25 – The fifth “I AM” Statement – Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life.

How is He your life today?

11:27 – Martha is the seventh witness for Christ.

11:28-29 – Why did Mary wait to go to Jesus until He asked for her?

11:28 – Martha called Mary away secretly so the Jews wouldn’t know that Jesus was there.

11:29 – Mary’s hasty retreat gets the attention of the Jews and Jesus’ presence is no longer a secret. See v. 31.

11:35 – Jesus weeps because He is moved by our pain. He already knows the outcome. Maybe He weeps because He is bringing Lazarus back to this less than perfect world.

11:38-44 – Seventh piece of evidence for Christ – Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Jesus is the Master over life and death. Rather fitting that He just identified Himself as the Resurrection and the Life in verse 25.

Jesus waited for a crowd.

11:38 – Jesus is angry at what death has done.

11:43 – Lazarus, come out! – if Jesus hadn’t called Lazarus by name, ALL of the dead would have risen!!!

11:45 – Many of the witnesses to this miracle put their faith in Jesus.

11:46 – Some of the witnesses went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus did. Why did these people go to the Pharisees?

11:47 – What was the Sanhedrin? The high court of the Jews made up of the chief priests, elders and teachers of the law.

11:50 – Caiaphas probably meant that Jesus’ death would save Israel from losing religious leaders to Rome. See v. 48. He certainly didn’t mean it in the prophetic way it actually played out. This tells me that God can use even the most disobedient to fulfill His divine purpose. The high priest spoke for God. And although Caiaphas didn’t mean it the way it happened, he prophesied the truth!

11:51 – As high priest, Caiaphas spoke for God.


• The book of John is called the “Love Gospel”. How have you seen God’s love at work in this chapter of scripture and how will you apply it to your life this week?
• 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?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Learn the Bible in 24 Hours – Hour 20 – Hebrews, James, I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude


None of the eight Hebrew Christian Epistles was addressed to a church.  Hebrews addresses the Priesthood of Christ, the New Covenant and the challenge to move forward responsibly.  The Hall of Faith, Hebrews 11, gives me something new to think about every time I read it.

James’ epistle to the 12 Tribes teaches that faith without works is dead.  Considering the author was one of Jesus’ half-brothers, I think that studying this epistle gives additional insight into the Lord.  I studied the book of James last year, and this was a nice refresher.

Peter’s epistles are loaded with life lessons.  From obedience to vigilance in trial to growth to heresy, Peter covers a lot of ground in these two small letters.  A study of these epistles would definitely be life-changing.  I did study first Peter a while ago.  You can find my notes on this blog.

The apostle John’s epistles are replete with symbolism and mystery.  I really enjoyed – and completely agree with – Chuck Missler’s interpretation of who “the Elect Lady” of John’s second epistle is.  This was a favorite moment from the video teaching.

The final epistle of study is a super-short letter written by another of Jesus’ half-brothers:  Jude.  There are 13 predictions from second Peter that Jude’s letter mentions as fulfilled.  Another favorite moment from the video teaching is a prophecy about the Second Coming of Christ that was uttered by Enoch before the flood of Noah!  If you remember back to the early hours of this study, it’s ironic that the man who was thought to be born on Pentecost and traditionally taken by God on his birthday should prophesy about the Messiah returning to earth with ten thousands of His saints who will be raptured, some scholars believe, on Pentecost.

I cannot wait for the lesson on eschatology next week!

Homework for next time:  1&2 Thessalonians

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lights, Cowboy, Action by Lesley Ann McDaniel

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:

Love Inspired (June 4, 2013)

***Special thanks to Lesley Ann McDaniel for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

LESLEY ANN MCDANIEL is a lifelong lover of words, animals, and musical theatre.

Born in Missoula, Montana, she was one of the original Dwarfs in the Missoula Children’s Theatre’s inaugural production of “Snow White”, which is still touring the world.

While earning a degree in acting at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, she fell in love with theatrical costuming, and pursued that as a career while nurturing her passion for writing on the side. Through God’s guidance, she has shifted her focus to honing her skills as a writer of romance and young adult fiction.

Between working as a homeschooling mom and as a professional theatre costumer, Lesley has completed several novels. She would have done more by now if she didn’t also occasionally stop to clean the house and fold the laundry. Fortunately she loves to cook, so no one in her family has starved yet.

She is a member of the Northwest Christian Writers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, and a wonderful critique group. A native Montanan and a Big Sky girl at heart, Lesley now resides in the Seattle area with her husband, two daughters, three cats and a big loud dog. In her spare time (ha!) she chips away at her goal of reading every book ever written.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Will COURTNEY JACOBS do whatever it takes to keep her job as personal assistant to an A-list movie actress? While filming in Thornton Springs, Montana, Courtney’s demanding boss insists she set her up with ranch owner ADAM GREENE as a romantic “diversion”. The only problem? Courtney’s fallen for him herself. Now she’s forced to merge the resurrection of her lost faith, her growing love for this town, and her attraction to Adam with her Hollywood career ambitions. What’s a girl to do?




Product Details:
List Price: $4.99
Mass Market Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired (June 4, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0373486634
ISBN-13: 978-0373486632


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Courtney Jacobs doubted there could be enough coffee in all of Thornton Springs, Montana to see her through this movie shoot.

After filling her paper cup with the morale-boosting brew, she headed back toward the set. All around her, sleep-deprived crew members hustled to transform this charming burg into an old western town. She checked her watch. Seven AM. Within an hour, Keith Kingsley, the temperamental director of North to Montana—N2M to insiders— would be ready to call ‘action’, and he wasn’t exactly known for his patience.

“Move it or bleed!” A rigger bellowed as he charged past, swinging an aluminum grip stand just over her head.

She danced around a coil of electrical cables then sidestepped a set painter as he examined the distressing he’d given a storefront. Wincing as the gaffer shouted out coarse instructions to his crew of lighting techs, she ducked to avoid a swooping boom pole.

A contented sigh slipped through her lips. With just four independent films on her résumé— two a year since graduating from college—she felt lucky to have booked a major studio-backed project so early in her career.

She’d been hired as personal assistant to the star, Angela Bijou—an A-list actress with a reputation for supreme diva behavior and for taking up with her leading men. Angela had made it clear from day one that Jeffrey Mark Caulfield (sizzling from the recent success of The Pharaoh’s Tomb), would be no exception.

The bleep of Courtney’s cell phone drew her from her wandering thoughts. Balancing her still-full cup on the edge of her clipboard, she opened a text from the key costumer.

‘Ms. Bju s neded 4 a finl fttng of hr Act 3 pRT gwn 2moro @ 2. B sur sh’s thr.’

Courtney gnawed at her lower lip. If Ms. Bijou didn’t know about the fttng, it would be one more thing for her to take out on Courtney.

Hurrying down the center of the newly dirt-encrusted street, she clenched her cup between her teeth and shoved her clipboard under her arm. She flicked open the phone keyboard and tapped out a response while dodging a gaggle of grips positioning an old wooden wagon by the edge of the just-built boardwalk.

‘2moro @ 2. No woriez.’

Nearing the area where the first scene of the day would be shot, Courtney hit ‘send’ and scanned the street. Several cast members milled about in costume but—no surprise—Angela wasn’t among them. Giving a cursory glance to the pink berry Swatch she’d been given as a ‘thank you’ from her actress on her last movie, she headed toward the make-up trailer in the hope that Angela had made it to her call on time.

Striding across the set, she drank in the liveliness of her surroundings. It was great being a part of something this vital. So what if her job at the moment was keeping the leading lady on-schedule? She was an indispensable cog in the machine.

“Court-neeey!”

Stopping in her tracks, Courtney spun around to face the familiar angry command. From the first day of rehearsals, Angela Bijou had demonstrated an annoying articulation of Courtney’s name that made the word itself sound like an outright accusation.

“You had better explain what’s going on here!” The woman stormed toward Courtney with a heated, resolute gait and fire in her famous jade green eyes. Her flimsy peach silk cover-up and matching turban signified that she hadn’t yet made it to hair or wardrobe, and screamed look at me—I’m a star.

Courtney opened her mouth to respond, but Angela cut her off with a tirade that rivaled Hurricane Katrina.

“Are you completely incompetent?” Angela screeched as she planted her lithe form two feet from where Courtney stood.

As the blood rose to her face, Courtney became painfully aware that the entire cast and crew had turned to gawk. “What’s the matter, Ms. Bijou?” She fought to keep her tone level.

“What’s the matter?” Angela tossed her platinum pin-curled head back with such force her tiny neck made a faint cracking sound. “The ‘matter’ is that I have no water in my trailer.”

Courtney let that register. All this fuss over a plumbing problem?

“D’eau Douce.” Angela crossed her willowy arms. “Imported from France. Does that ring a bell? I’m supposed to have four sixteen ounce bottles chilling in my trailer every morning when I arrive.”

“Oh….” Courtney skimmed her memory. “For…drinking?”

“Yes, for drinking.” Angela gave her a scowl that implied she should audition for the next season of American Idiot. “I wash my face in pure Norwegian spring water, which by the way I didn’t see in there either.”

Courtney heard herself utter something about making a few phone calls to Norway as she took a giant step backward.
“Look,” Angela apparently wasn’t done yelling. “I need sixty-four ounces a day. How else am I supposed to keep my skin so youthful and clear?” She drew her fingertips across her youthful, clear cheek for emphasis. “Every. Single. Day.”

“Uh… okay, Ms. Bijou.” Courtney scribbled out a note on the top page of her clipboard as she took a half-step in what she hoped was the direction of water of all desirable nationalities. A thought stopped her cold. “Was that sixty-four ounces of the drinking water or the washing kind?”

Angela’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t play dumb. Obviously, you knew about this.”

Gripping her half-cup of tepid coffee between her thumb and her index finger, Courtney flipped through the papers on her clipboard as if to exonerate herself from this allegation. She knew nothing about her actress’ water preference and made a mental note to be sure always to ask in the future.

With what she hoped would read as a competent smile, she turned to go, smacking into a carpenter as he flew past with an armload of railroad ties. Coffee flew from her cup, splashing across her papers and down the front of her sea green t-shirt. She winced.

Angela’s shrieky voice rang out from behind. “Check my contract! I need my water every day I’m on the set. I’m supposed to have it!”

Courtney clutched her clipboard to her stained front and darted toward what appeared to be a grocery store in the next block. If the last five minutes were any indication of things to come, this shoot was going to be a nightmare.

***

“Yessir, this is just about the biggest thing that’s ever happened in this town.” Cal wiped his hands on his apron and stretched a long gaze out the front window of his general store.

Casting a dubious glance at Cal from under the brim of his Stetson, Adam Greene drew in a long breath. It was great that the movie people were boosting the town’s flagging economy, but apart from that he really didn’t see what all the fuss was about. “Say Cal, you got any of those red lentils left? Janessa made a killer stew last week and I’d like her to surprise us with a repeat performance.”

Cal wrested his attention away from the window. “That sister ‘a yours is gettin’ to be more like your mama every day. A regular Mary Stewart.”
Adam grinned. “I think you mean Martha. Martha Stewart. Don’t tell Janessa that, though. She’s dead set against the idea of making some lucky man a great wife someday.”

Cal’s head bobbed as he grabbed a jar of beans off a shelf. “Still determined to get outta Dodge now that she’s graduated high school, eh?”

“She’s got plans.” Adam studied a barrel of apples. “Nothing wrong with that.”

“Not a thing. I just know you and your mama will miss her is all.”

“True.” Grabbing the brown bag of lentils Cal had filled for him, Adam raised an earnest smile. He had a full seven years on his baby sister and had been the man of the house since their father’s death when Adam was fifteen. It was strange to think of her leaving the nest. “Far be it from me to stand in the way of an ambitious female—”

Abruptly, the front door burst open and in flew a young woman gripping a clipboard and a paper cup. She pushed a strand of sandy blonde hair from her forehead with the rim of the cup as she scanned the store, urgency fairly sparking from her hazel eyes. Adam’s gaze dawdled a little longer than he liked to consider gentlemanly.

As she surged purposefully toward the counter, his eyes followed. She looked young and pretty in a fresh-faced, no make-up sort of way. Judging from the walkie-talkie clipped to her belt, she must be some sort of behind-the-scenes worker, not an actress. A corner of his mouth lifted. Maybe having the movie people in town wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all.

Cal lit up. “What can I do for you, young lady?”

She spoke with a resolute clip. “Please tell me you carry D’eau Douce.”

The smile slid from Cal’s face. “Doe Do…what?”

“It’s French.” She tapped the clipboard with the cup and scouted around some more.

Sensing that Cal could use a hand on this one, Adam stepped up to the counter. “Excuse me, ma’am. Maybe I can help…uh…translate?”

“Sure.” Avoiding his gaze, she continued to search the shelves. “Do you speak ‘actress’?”

“I’m sorry, no.” While he felt for her obvious United Nations dilemma, he couldn’t help but dwell on how pretty she was. “What exactly is this thing you’re looking for?”

“Water.” She moved a few feet to peruse the refrigerator case where Cal kept the milk and juice. “What kind of mineral water do you carry?”

Adam cast an amused glance at Cal, whose expression had grown even more befuddled.

“I don’t…I mean….” Cal stammered.

Seeing where this was going, Adam chimed in. “You’ll be hard pressed to find any of those fancy bottled waters here, ma’am.”

As her head snapped toward him, their eyes met for the first time. “No water? But what do people here drink?”

Adam tipped a shrug. “We drink well water, mostly. We’ve got the best mountain spring water you’ve ever tasted. I’d be happy to—”

“No. I mean…thank you.” Shifting the cup to the hand that held the clipboard, she pulled a cell phone out of a pouch on her waistband, and started punching in numbers as she moved toward the door. Looking back, her eyes rested briefly on Adam. “Thanks anyway.” With a slight smile, she yanked open the door and bolted out.

Leaning against the counter, Adam pushed his hat back a touch and folded his arms.

Cal gave him a good-natured cuff to the bicep. “Shouldn’t you be finishing that shopping?”

“Shopping?” Adam nodded slowly. “Oh. Right.”

***

Courtney surveyed the street as she darted toward the set, her hope of finding a specialty food store growing dimmer by the second. Her mind whirred. The only thing she could think of was to call the safe, actress-free office of her BFF back in L.A.

“Sheila Macintosh here.”

Courtney breathed out relief at the familiar greeting. “Thank goodness you’re there.”

“Hey, Court.” Sheila let out a little titter. “Don’t tell me you’re homesick already.”

“Not unless by ‘homesick’ you mean ‘desperately missing the Von’s delivery boy’.” Courtney firmed her resolve. “Sheil, I need you to do me a huge favor.”

“Is it a favor for you or for Angela Bijou, ’cause you know I don’t cater to queen bees.”

“Consider it a favor to your best friend who wants to stay employed. I need you to source some bottled water for me. I’ll give you all my info so you can order it and have it billed to the movie.”

“They don’t have water in Montana?” Sheila quipped. “How do they get the mountains so green?”

“Funny. Of course they have water, just not the right kind.” Courtney stopped walking, not wanting anyone of importance to overhear her plight. “Will you do it?”

“I’m ready to write.” Sheila’s tone warmed. “Just remember, you owe me a dinner at Mr. Chow when you get back.”

“On my salary? Better make it Del Taco.” Courtney rattled off the details of Angela’s demand, hoping this wouldn’t be the first of many. “Tell them I need it ASAP. Hire a private jet if you need to.”

Sheila grunted. “Movie people are weird.”

“You said it.” She started walking again.

“Before you go,” Sheila’s voice grew coy. “You have to tell me. Is Jeffrey Mark Caulfield as hot in a cowboy hat as he is in a pith helmet?”

“I haven’t seen him in costume yet.” Courtney’s mind wandered back to the store she’d left a few minutes before—to that tall, handsome hottie in the dusty blue jeans and well-worn boots. “He’s got nothing on the real cowboys out here, though.”

“Oh really?” Sheila crooned. “Any one in particular?”

“Well…” Courtney’s face flushed. What was she doing? She had far too much to deal with to let herself get distracted by an admittedly attractive guy. Especially one she most likely wouldn’t even run into again. Still, she couldn’t lie, especially to Sheila. “Okay, yes. One that I just met was…movie star handsome. And nice too. Really nice.”

“Uh huh. So they grow ’em handsome out there. Must be in the water.”

Courtney smiled. “Yeah, the mountain spring water.”

“So, you will be coming home when this movie is finished shooting, right? Or will you be changing your name to Mrs. Handsome Cowboy and learning to rope cattle?”

Courtney sneered at the phone. “Oh, you are so very funny. Just get my water ordered and pray I still have my job by the time it gets here.”

“Sure thing. Oh, and that’s not the only thing I’ll be praying for, Mrs. Handsome Cowboy.”

Clicking her cell phone shut, Courtney took a deep breath. Sure that guy seemed really great but this was the last thing she needed. She was here to do a job, not fall for some guy who lived a world away from everything important to her. Letting herself get caught up in thinking about him would just be irresponsible.

Her pace slowed as she neared the set. Why did Angela’s personal drought suddenly not feel quite so urgent? Thinking about the cowboy seemed to have a mysterious calming effect on her. She shook it off. With a major problem to solve, she had too much on her mind to leave her head in the clouds.


Here's my review of this entertaining novel:


First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Leslie Ann McDaniel and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Lights, Camera, Cowboy" 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.
 
Lesley Ann McDaniel’s “Lights, Camera, Cowboy” is a charming story about an assistant to a primadonna actress and a handsome cowboy.  Courtney Jacobs is on location in Thurston Springs, Montana as the assistant of an A-list actress with an F-list character.  Courtney takes a liking to Adam Greene, a helpful cowboy she meets while trying to fulfill her employer’s unreasonable demands.  But her boss sees Adam as a career-advancing fling and wants Courtney to help arrange their romance.  Adam is tossed between wanting to take a chance on a relationship with Courtney and keeping his distance since she’s only going to be in town – and his life – for a short time.

What a sweet Christian romance!  There’s lots of humor and conflict characteristic of a novel that the reader invests in emotionally.  There’s an added element of God wooing His people to Himself.  This is a beautiful book that’s small in size – it can probably be read in one sitting – but giant on entertainment and encouragement.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

More about Barefoot Summer
Madison's heart has been closed for years. But one summer can change everything.

In the years since her twin brother's tragic drowning, Madison has struggled with her ability to trust God--or anyone else, for that matter. It was her brother's dream to win the annual River Sail Regatta in their small harbor town of Chapel Springs, Indiana. And Madison's determined to honor his legacy by making his dream her own. Maybe then she can finally find closure.

But learning to sail means learning to swim. And her instructor is Beckett O'Reilly, a man who already has two strikes against him in Madison's eyes. Being on the water terrifies Madison. But Beckett's calming presence and unwavering confidence eases her fear. And as much as she'd like to deny it, the chemistry between them is electrifying.

As her feelings for him grow, a fledging faith begins to take root in her soul, as well. With Beckett, Madison feels alive for the first time in years--carefree and confident she can win the regatta, maybe even find love.

But Beckett harbors a secret that will test the limits of their love and the depth of Madison's faith. Will their love survive summer's challenge? And will achieving her brother's dream give Madison the peace she desperately seeks?

About the Author

Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!
Learn more about Denise at her website.
Here is my review of this amazing novel:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Denise Hunter and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Barefoot Summer" 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.

Denise Hunter’s “Barefoot Summer” is a touching love story. Beckett O’Reilly may not have been the most wholesome character in Chapel Springs, but his feelings toward Madison McKinley have always been the purest part of him. A tragic misunderstanding leads one of Madison’s sisters to leave town, causing a riff in the already wounded McKinley family, and puts Madison and Beckett at odds. So when Madison wins sailing lessons that will help her to achieve her deceased brother’s dream, and Beckett turns up as her instructor, an already difficult situation becomes the catalyst for healing and an unexpected place to find love.

This beautifully written story weaves the past and present to unfold a tale of misunderstanding and forgiveness, family and loss, triumph and tragedy. “Barefoot Summer” is a romance that smells like the ocean and tastes like summer is a terrific way to spend a weekend. The plot unfurls like the sail of a ship, powerfully and with precision. The characters crew this story with artistry.

The book has a set of thought-provoking questions for reading group discussion. Now that I’ve read the questions and have “Inside information” about the book, I enjoyed the story even more and would definitely consider beginning a reading group just to be able to discuss this book!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Bible Study: Meet Jesus, Son of God/Son of Man - John - Chapter 10

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the Gospel of John, 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, fall 2009 through late spring 2010, things are looking increasingly bleak with the economy, health care and unemployment, there is a renewal and increase of racism, and godly principles of living being disregarded, there are floods in India, earthquake and tsunami in Samoa. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Seek His wisdom. 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 10 of the book of John. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…


10:1-21 – This was delivered after the Feast of Tabernacles.

10:1-18 – Study these verses in conjunction with Psalm 23.

10:1-2 – There is only ONE way to the Father.

10:1 – Those who say they’re saved, but don’t know Jesus are thieves and robbers. Don’t be deceived by their claims to have access to God without Jesus!

10:3 – Who is the Watchman? The Holy Spirit, perhaps.

Jesus calls His sheep by name and leads them.

10:4 – Jesus’ sheep follow Him because they recognize His voice. Do you? How?

Compare this verse with the actions on 9:35-38.

10:5 – Jesus’ sheep will run away from a stranger because they don’t recognize his voice. How can you identify a stranger?

Compare this verse with the actions of 9:25-34.

10:6 – Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, but they didn’t understand.

10:7-10 – Jesus is the tabernacle door. (A Woman’s Heart – Moore)

10:8 – The false shepherds who came before Jesus were thieves and robbers. Prophets who pointed to Christ wouldn’t be considered among those who came before.

10:9 – The third “I AM” Statement – Jesus is the gate for the sheep.

Have you walked through this gate into eternal life?

10:11 – The fourth “I AM” Statement – Jesus is the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd protects and lays down His life for His sheep.

How has He protected you today?

10:14-18 – characteristics of the Good Shepherd.

10:14 – The Good Shepherd knows His sheep and they know Him.

10:15 – The Good Shepherd knows God perfectly.

The Good Shepherd dies for His sheep.

10:16 – The Good Shepherd seeks all of His sheep – including Gentiles (the uncircumcised).

10:17 – The Good Shepherd is loved by the Father.

Death and resurrection WAS ALWAYS THE PLAN!

10:18 – The Good Shepherd obeyed the Father. This should be our primary motivation for all we do as well.

The Good Shepherd has power over death.

10:19-21 – Wherever Jesus is, there will be division. Which side of the divide are you on?

10:22-39 – This was delivered three months later at the Feast of Tabernacles.

10:22-24 – This took place at Hanukkah time in December. Because of the victory that this Feast represented to the Jews, this dialogue may have been motivated by Israel’s desire for deliverance once more - this time from Roman rule.

10:24-26 – Words aren’t proof of Jesus’ claim to be God. His actions are the proof.

10:25-26 – Jesus denounces unbelief.

10:27-29 – Benefits of true believers.

10:27 – True believers hear Jesus’ voice.

Jesus knows true believers because they belong to Him.

True believers follow Jesus.

Jesus gives true believers eternal life.

True believers will never perish.

True believers are found in Jesus’ hand and the Father’s hand, and they cannot be snatched away.

10:40 – Jesus leaves the area and goes back to the area where John the Baptist used to baptize. In 1:28, it says that John baptized in Bethany.


• The book of John is called the “Love Gospel”. How have you seen God’s love at work in this chapter of scripture and how will you apply it to your life this week?
• 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?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Learn the Bible in 24 Hours – Hour 19 – Pauline Epistles


Paul’s Church and Pastoral Epistles are presented with Dr. Missler’s typical fast-paced delivery.  We begin with an overview of Paul’s relationship with the Corinthian church and take away the trivia that first and second Corinthians are technically second and fourth Corinthians, respectively.  There are many life applications contained in these two letters regarding the foolishness of God, stewardship and many other subjects.

The brief study of Galatians speaks of spiritual liberty and applies the fruit of the Spirit to a trio of conditions:  my heart, my neighbor and my God.  The slides say “fruits” of the Spirit, but Scripture is clear that it is fruit – singular.

A quick tour through the prison epistles showcases Paul’s profound letter to the Ephesians regarding special relationships, revealing mysteries and spiritual warfare, including a brief look at the armor of God.  Philippians provides resources for suffering.  Colossians is loaded with doctrine and personal application.

The pastoral epistles were sent from Paul to Timothy, who pastored the church at Ephesus.  Paul instructs and encourages his young protégé through both letters about how to lead a flock.  The first letter was a charge, the second, a challenge.  Leaders will benefit greatly from studying these two epistles.

The teaching on Titus and Philemon is brief but rich in history and beautiful life lessons.

Homework for next time:  Hebrews, James, I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Deadly Devotion by Sandra Orchard


Deadly Devotion

By Sandra Orchard

 

In the first installment in the Port Aster Secrets series, Deadly Devotion weaves a web of intrigue around the sleepy town of Port Aster and the death of a research scientist. While police believe it to be a suicide, evidence mounts that leads Kate Adams to believe it had to be murder.  Suspicions lead to danger as Kate struggles to uncover the truth.  Full of suspense, Deadly Devotion will keep readers guessing until the very end.

Research scientists Kate Adams and her colleague Daisy are on the brink of a breakthrough for treating depression with herbal medicine when Daisy suddenly dies.  Kate knows that if it hadn’t been for Daisy’s mentorship, she wouldn’t have the job she loves or the faith she clings to.  So when police rule Daisy’s death a suicide, Kate is determined to unearth the truth.

Former FBI agent Tom Parker finds it hard to adjust to life back in his hometown of Port Aster. Though an old buddy gives him a job as a detective on the local police force, not everyone approves. Tom's just trying to keep a low profile, so when Kate Adams demands he reopen the investigation of her friend's death, he knows his job is at stake. In fact, despite his attraction to her, Tom thinks Kate looks a bit suspicious herself.

Sandra Orchard is an active member in American Christian Fiction Writers, The Word Guild, Romance Writers of America and a local writing group. She recently participated in the Writers’ Police Academy for hands-on training and simulations at a police training facility. She is the author of Shades of Truth, Critical Condition, which won the 2012 RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for it’s series and Deep Cover, which won the Canadian Christian Writing Award for romance in June 2012 and was recognized as one of the top five novels of the year by Family Fiction magazine. Orchard has also received a Daphne DuMaurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense in both the inspirational category and for best score overall. She lives in Niagara, Ontario, Canada. To find out more, please visit www.sandraorchard.com.

Endorsements for Deadly Devotion and Sandra Orchard

 

"When I read Sandra Orchard's Deadly Devotion, I was pulled into her romantic suspense and couldn't put it down. She crafted a compelling plot with intriguing characters that swept me up into their lives."-- Margaret Daley, author of the Men of the Texas Rangers series

"Sandra Orchard has crafted a clever whodunit mixed with a sweet romance. This makes for a story you won't put down until the end--and then only because you have to. Looking forward to book two!"-- Lynette Eason, bestselling and award-winning author of the Deadly Reunions series
Here is my review of this fantastic read:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Sandra Orchard and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Deadly Devotion" 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.

“Deadly Devotion” by Sandra Orchard is the first novel in the Port Aster Secrets series. From its opening pages, a complex murder mystery is intricately woven and captures the reader like a spider web. I found myself actually talking to the characters, telling them to speak up or change their thinking based on their internal monologue. I invested quickly in leading lady, Kate Adams, as she fought to have her friend and mentor’s passing recognized as murder rather than suicide. The narrative that placed me right in the midst of the action like a fly on the wall (or in that web I mentioned earlier), and I grew frustrated just as Kate did.

This is a fast-paced page turner, a solid suspense read that promises to be a wonderful series. It’s filled with gutsy characters, dimensional sets and heart-pumping situations. It’s a great read whether you’re looking to be simply entertained or would prefer to be an armchair sleuth for the weekend. I will be looking for – and recommending – Sandra Orchard’s books.