Saturday, September 25, 2010

REVIEW: Maid to Match by DeeAnne Gist

“Maid to Match” by DeeAnne Gist is another wonderfully romantic read from a gifted Christian fiction novelist. Tillie is trying to win the position of ladies maid to her wealthy and wonderful employer. She aspires to make lots of money that she can donate to help less fortunate children at a local orphanage. Mack is a rugged mountain man who accepts a position with the Vanderbilts to earn enough money to get his sister out of the local orphanage, where the girls are being beaten by the director.

This charming romantic tale takes the reader deeply into the world of domestic servitude. I learned so much about the servant caste system, the goals and aspirations of domestics, and what they could hope to achieve. Gist develops and intricate plot and colors her story with incredible detail. I am never disappointed when I pick up a novel by this author. I highly recommend this novel.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bible Study: As It Was In The Beginning - Genesis - Chapter 47

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Genesis. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses you through this material.


Take a few minutes to savor Genesis Chapter 47. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

47:9 – Compared to Abraham’s 175 years and Isaac’s 180 years, Jacob’s 130 years had been few.

47:10 – As Christians, we must seek out opportunities to make a difference in others’ lives.

47:11-12 – How do you need Christ’s help this week to provide for those in your care?

47:14 – see 1 Corinthians 15:24.

47:25 – see Philippians 2:10-11.

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

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman

What happens when the boy she loved to hate becomes the man she hates to love?

The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O'Connor is the epitome of the new woman--smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband and a challenging career in law. Her boyfriend Jack fits all of her criteria for a husband--good-looking, well-connected, wealthy, and eating out of her hand. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Luke McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face-to-face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jack? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever?

"Lessman writes my favorite kind of book: the kind I can't put down--a book that has a heroine with unforgettable spunk, a romance with undeniable sparks, and a family that will remain in your heart long after you turn the last page."--Siri Mitchell, author of She Walks in Beauty

"Captivating characters, richly drawn, along with riveting and thought-provoking scenes--A Hope Undaunted will leave you breathless with anticipation. Julie Lessman has written a novel that resonates throughout with constant reminders of God's unconditional love."--Maggie Brendan, author of Heart of the West series

"Julie Lessman's passionate prose grabs your heart and doesn't let go! With deft plotting and sparkling, true-to-life characters, A Hope Undaunted delivers an emotionally intense, spiritually satisfying read that you will not forget. Truly a book destined for your keeper shelf!"--Laura Frantz, author of The Frontiersman's Daughter and Courting Morrow Little

"Julie Lessman has done it again! She has crafted yet another passionate romance with characters that touch every emotion. If you're looking for an awesome writer and a story charged with romance, you don't want to miss A Hope Undaunted."--Judith Miller, author of Somewhere to Belong, Daughters of Amana series

"I have been waiting feverishly for the next Julia Lessman book. I love her work, and this may be the best book yet. A Hope Undaunted contains a powerful message, wisdom, romance, and fun, all in one book."--Mary Connealy, author of Doctor in Petticoats and Wrangler in Petticoats

"A Hope Undaunted is everything I knew it would be. Ms. Lessman's exquisite talent for expressing the deep passions, joys, and torments of the soul will not only endear you to her characters but will keep you up late at night reading until the end. This book has it all. Another winner for Julie Lessman!"--MaryLu Tyndall, author of Surrender the Heart

Here is my review of this incredible novel:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Julie Lessman and her publisher for sending me a copy of "A Hope Undaunted" 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.

“A Hope Undaunted” by Julie Lessman is the first installment in the Wings of Change series. You may recall Katie O’Connor from Julie’s previous novels. Well, she is now grown up and dating an unsavory character. But, when a childhood nemesis of hers returns to the O’Connor household, will Katie stay true to her current beau or fall for the grown up Luke “Cluny” McGee?

Julie Lessman builds a story in such a way that you cannot put the book down! From the very first page, you will be invested in Katie’s story whether or not you are familiar with her from the other novels. Julie’s characters are colorful and rich. Her dialogue is so real that you can imagine hearing it in your own home. Her plot is intricate and precise and beautifully detailed. This series promises to be a new favorite of mine. I will be recommending this to all of my “book buddies”.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

REVIEW: Wildflower Bride by Mary Connealy

Mary Connealy’s “Wildflower Bride” is another entertaining and potentially life-changing read from a wonderful author of Christian Western romance. Wade Sawyer is going home. Summoned by his battered, but not broken, father, Wade finds himself heading to the ranch he swore he would never see again. Glowing Sun has just lost her home. After a raid against the Salish people leaves everyone but her mother-in-law and a young boy dead, Glowing Sun is forced to leave. Now going by Abby, she travels with Wade to Mort Sawyer’s ranch. Will her strength empower Wade to grow into the man that God intended him to be? Will Wade’s kindness break through Abby’s heart and show her a path to love? Will their example have a righteous influence on Mort Sawyer’s bitter and angry nature?

This is an amazing novel! All of Mary’s novels are incredible, but this one is saturated with a maturity that adds a great deal of depth to the story. Mary, I must thank you because I have struggled with the question at the heart of this beautifully written novel for YEARS! Your characters taught me that I just need to remove the screaming and the punching from my anger. The frustration that caused the anger is honest, and can be expressed without sinning. There can be no honor without honesty. This concept has already changed the way I communicate and deal with people. Who’d have thought that a work of fiction could so positively impact one’s behavior? Thank you.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bible Study: As It Was In The Beginning - Genesis - Chapter 46

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Genesis. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses you through this material.


Take a few minutes to savor Genesis Chapter 46. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

46:2 – For what recent major decision are you seeking confirmation from God?

46:3-4 – God promises to make Jacob a great nation, He would be with him, that His promises stand and Jacob will be reunited with his son.

46:8-25 – shows how dramatic this move was for Jacob and the family.

46:30 – To what life adjustment is God calling you?

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

Stronger by Jim Daly

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:

Stronger: Trading Brokenness for Unbreakable Strength

David C. Cook; New edition (September 1, 2010)

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


Jim Daly joined the Focus on the Family staff over 20 years ago, initially in the ministry’s public affairs division. Since that time, he has worked extensively in the formation and development of the international outreach of the ministry serving as field director of Asia, Africa, and Australia. Serving in additional roles within marketing and public affairs, Daly continually accepted greater roles of responsibility until his most recent appointment in February 2005 as president and CEO of this internationally recognized family-centered ministry. He is the author of Finding Home: An Imperfect Path to Faith and Family, a deeply personal memoir. He resides in Colorado Springs with his wife, Jean, and two sons.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (September 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 143476446X
ISBN-13: 978-1434764461


When I Am Weak

This isn’t how it works in the movies.

On a chilly Sunday morning in December, David Works and his family—his wife, Marie, and daughters Stephanie, Laurie, Rachel, and Grace—finish worshipping at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. As usual, they stay after the service to enjoy conversation with friends. On their way to the exit, David announces that lunch will be at a nearby hamburger restaurant called Good Times. The members of the Works family pull their coats tighter and step into a brisk breeze, shuffling carefully across patches of snow in the parking lot.

As the family approaches its white Toyota Sienna van, Laurie heads for the left-side sliding door.

“No, no—you have to sit in the back on the other side,” Rachel says.

It is a Works family tradition that everyone keeps the same seat for both parts of a trip. Laurie rode to church in the rear right seat of the van, and Rachel intends to continue the custom.

“Okay, okay,” Laurie says.

She walks around the back of the van, enters through the right side sliding door, and takes her place in the back seat. Rachel, behind Laurie, pauses in front of the open right-side door to look for something in her purse.

That is when it starts.

David, sitting in the front passenger seat and in the process of buckling his seat belt, hears a sharp metallic sound. What was that? He lets go of the seat belt and swivels his head to the right, surveying the parking lot. To his shock, a young man dressed in black stands just twenty yards away. He’s pointing a large assault rifle at the Toyota.

What in the world?

Another shot rings out.

“Get down! Get down! There’s a shooter out there! He’s shooting at us!” David screams. He curls up in the van’s footwell, trying to get as low as possible. He hears the sound of more gunshots mixed with his family’s screams. The sound of the shots changes; David understands the shooter is on the move.

Wait a minute—where is Rachel?

She’d been just outside the van when the shooting started. David twists to look behind him. His sixteen-year-old daughter is still standing next to the Toyota, a dazed look on her face. Her burnt-orange T-shirt has a hole in it at the level of her lower-right rib cage.

“Rachel!” David cries.

“I think I’ve been shot,” Rachel says. Suddenly, she collapses, falling backward onto the blacktop.

David jerks his door handle and jumps out. The instant his feet hit the ground, another volley of bullets whizz past his head. He turns; the gunman is no more than ten yards away, rifle pointed directly at him. Before he can move, David feels pain on his right side, just above his waist. He too falls to the pavement. The shots continue.

“Gracie, get down and play dead! He’s still here!” David orders. His youngest daughter, eleven years old, had been moving from the backseat to help her sister.

The firing stops momentarily, then resumes, but the sound is more distant and muffled. David realizes the gunman has gone into the church.

David has been shot in the abdomen and groin. He stretches his arm in Rachel’s direction, willing his body to move. His daughter needs her father—her protector—yet David can’t even crawl. Through tears, he says, “I’m so sorry, honey. I can’t reach you.”

“That’s okay, Daddy,” Rachel whispers.1

On this horrifying, heartwrenching day, David Works would give anything to turn into a Hollywood action hero. If this were a movie, he would be Superman, leaping in front of his daughter and watching bullets bounce harmlessly off his chest. With his super strength, he would pick up the van and fly his family to safety, then return to catch the bad guy before he could hurt anyone else.

But this isn’t a movie.

David Works has no super strength. He is lying in a church parking lot, weak, helpless, and bleeding, and watching the life ebb from his beloved daughter.

Panic Attacks

Let’s leave this traumatic scene for the moment and visit the mother of a different family. Lori Mangrum is a pastor’s wife. She and her husband, John, have two children. But Lori isn’t thinking about her family right now. She’s slumped in a chair at home. The curtains are

drawn. For months, she hasn’t slept or eaten well.

Lori grew up in a Christian home and learned to smile and appear joyful no matter what was going on around her. Like any family, she and her parents and siblings had their share of troubles, but Lori didn’t want to burden her parents with her own fears and worries. She became the “sunshine” for her family, always working to cheer up others but rarely addressing her own emotional needs.

Years later, after marrying John, having kids, and moving to a new home, Lori started experiencing panic attacks. Without warning, feelings of terror overwhelmed her. She felt a crushing weight in her chest and became nauseous, dizzy, and disoriented. She thought she would die. The attacks increased to the point that Lori couldn’t drive a car or go into a grocery store.

One day, after a series of tests, a physician explained to Lori that she had a benign heart condition that could cause some of the symptoms of panic attacks. Finally! Lori thought. I knew they would find something!

But the doctor wasn’t finished.

“You have another problem,” he said gently. “I believe this problem manifested itself because of some psychological problems. I want you to see a psychiatrist.”

Lori couldn’t believe it. I don’t have any stress, she told herself, and what stress I do have I handle better than many others!

Now, sitting in the dark at home for week upon week, Lori is depressed. Friends have told her, “Pray harder, get yourself together, and stop this!” Yet she doesn’t even have the energy to talk, eat, or take a shower. Lori is disgusted with herself. She would give anything to change her circumstances, but emotionally, she feels weak and helpless.2

Those Uncomfortable Feelings

You may never have faced a crazed gunman or dealt with debilitating depression, but I’m guessing that at some point in life—perhaps many times—you’ve experienced some of the same feelings that David Works and Lori Mangrum went through in the incidents described above.

Weak. Helpless. Useless. Vulnerable.

Some pretty uncomfortable feelings, right?

We all do our best to avoid situations that expose our failings and fragility. But whether it’s a life-or-death crisis or the challenge of simply getting through another day, sooner or later we each confront the undesired sense of being powerless, worthless, feeble, disabled, and dependent on others.

And we don’t like it.

Most of us, especially in America, grow up with the idea that we can shape our own destinies. This, after all, is the land of opportunity. This is a place where dreams come true. We see ourselves as rugged individualists, fully capable of taking control of our lives and rising to the top.

And the weak? “Those people” are not us. Most of us profess to have empathy for the struggling and more helpless members of our society. But many of us are also conditioned to feel, deep down, a certain amount of disdain for the unfortunate few. You’re homeless? That’s too bad—but maybe you need to work harder at finding a job. You’re depressed? Yeah, I get discouraged sometimes too—but enough of feeling sorry for yourself; it’s time to get yourself together.

Part of the problem is that the weak and helpless are all around us, and when we see others having problems, it reminds us that we’re vulnerable too. Some of us cope by closing our eyes and shutting our ears to troubles. I will confess that this can be my attitude at times. But no matter how hard we try to ignore the trials of others, they rise to our attention like steam from a teapot. We think we’ve guarded our minds and hearts, and suddenly we’re faced with:

The distraught mother who watches her teenage son storm out of the house in anger, not knowing what to say or do and wondering when or if she’ll see him again.
The discouraged father of four who has lost his job, has been evicted from their home, and is so deeply in debt that he doesn’t see a way out.
The terrified little girl who is sexually molested by her “uncle” when Mom isn’t home and is told to keep quiet about it “or else.”
The lonely wife who thought she was marrying a soul mate and is desperate because she can’t get her husband to talk to her.
The sullen fourth-grader who repeatedly gets teased and bullied by a sixth-grader on the way home from school.
The worried single mom whose son is being recruited by a neighborhood gang.
The shocked fifty-year-old who has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
The young woman who feels paralyzed by depression and guilt over an abortion.
The husband who can’t forgive himself for an affair.
The despairing grandmother who is watching her children and grandchildren destroy their lives with alcohol and drugs, yet doesn’t know what to do about it.

It’s hard enough to put aside the struggles and weaknesses of family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. It’s harder still when the hurting wife, husband, mother, father, little girl, young man, or grandmother is us.

Do you know what I’m talking about? Are there times when you feel utterly incapable of dealing with the skyscraper-sized obstacle in your path? When you wish you

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

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Jim Daly and his publisher for sending me a copy of "Stronger" 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.

Jim Daly’s “Stronger” found its way into my hands at the absolute perfect time. Filled with touching and poignant real-life stories of struggle, God shows Himself to be mighty and matchless through the pain. So, when the individuals represented in these tales finally come through their life storms, they are exactly what the title says – STRONGER.

This is a fantastic work of non-fiction that will encourage you with evidence from the lives of others that God is triumphant and trustworthy. This is a read that every Christian should experience regardless of life situation or circumstance. You can never have too many reminders that God is good –ALL THE TIME!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Petra: City of Stone by T. L. Higley

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:

B&H Books (September 15, 2010)

***Special thanks to T.L. Higley for sending me a review copy.***


Tracy started her first novel at the age of eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. After attending Philadelphia Biblical University, she earned a B.A. in English Literature at Rowan University. She then spent ten years writing drama presentations for church ministry. A lifelong interest in history and mythology has led Tracy to extensive research into ancient Greece, Egypt and Rome, and shaped her desire to shine the light of the gospel into the cultures of the past. She has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Italy to research her novels, and looks forward to more travel as the series continues.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 14.99
Paperback: 344 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (September 15, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1433668564
ISBN-13: 978-1433668562


The streets of Rome lay barren and empty, sucked dry by the colossal Flavian Amphitheatre that had swallowed seventy-five thousand Roman citizens in a single gulp, and would hold each one captive until they had enjoyed the horrors that Julian now raced to prevent.

More time. He needed more time. Already the crowd inside the four-story rim of stone cheered for the first event.

Julian’s sandals smacked the black basalt road that led toward the amphitheatre. The blistering Roman sun pounded the moisture from his skin and left him panting. He had run most of way, since an old servant in Vita’s house had pointed a gnarled finger toward the east, toward the Forum, toward the arena of death.

Eighty arches ringed the outside of the theatre on each of its first three stories. The bottom arches provided access to the public, and the second story’s niches held statues of the gods and emperors, who now looked down on Julian as he sprinted across the large travertine slabs that paved the arena’s edge.

He ran toward one of the four main entrances and fumbled for the tessera, the stone tile he wore around his neck. The designatores at the entrance would insist on examining it, to see the sector, row and seat to which he was assigned.

Indeed, the usher at this entrance was full of his own importance, and held a palm to Julian’s oncoming rush as though he could stop him with only the force of his arm.

“Too long in your bed this morning, eh?” His smug smile took in Julian’s hastily-wrapped toga and sweat-dampened hair.

Julian thrust the tessera before the man’s eyes. “Here, here, look at it.”

Still the amused smile. The usher opened his mouth to speak again.

“Look at it!”

Daunted, the man let his eyes travel over the tile, then took a tiny breath and stepped back. His grin faded to a look of regret over his own impudence, and he bowed his head. As if that were not enough, he bowed at the waist and extended a hand to invite Julian to enter.

Julian did not wait for an apology. He pushed past the usher and under the vaulted entrance, then straight through the arena’s outer corridor and up a ramp that led to the cavea, the wedge-shaped sections of marble seats. This main entrance led directly to the central boxes reserved for the elite.

He exploded from the dimly lit ramp onto the terrace. The morning sun slashed across half the seats, the height of the amphitheatre leaving the other half in shade. The red canvas velarium, the awning used to shade the spectators, would be raised before it got much hotter, but for now, thousands of bleached togas on white marble blinded the eye and the smell of the masses assaulted the nose.

Julian crossed the terrace in two strides, slammed against the waist-high wall that separated him from the arena, and saw a figure dash at him from the shadows.

His mother’s hands were on his arms in an instant. “Julian, what are you doing?” Her words were frantic, as clipped and terror-filled as his every movement.

“They have Vita, Mother!”

She wrenched his body fiercely to face her. Julian stood nearly a cubit taller than his mother, but Ariella had retained all the strength of her youth, along with the beauty. “There is nothing that can be done, my son.”

He yanked his arms from her grasp. “Do not say that!” Julian searched the cavea behind him, full to overflowing with the purple-edged togas of senators. “Where is Father? Is he here?”

“Julian, think! You must think.” Ariella’s voice was urgent and low and her clutching fingers again slowed Julian’s restlessness. “You will bring more harm – “

“I do not care!” His voice snagged with emotion, and he fought to harden the feelings into action. “I must end this.”

“You cannot, son.”

He turned flashing eyes on Ariella. “It is my fault! Do you not understand? I should be down in those cages.”

Ariella’s eyes misted. “I would not lose both my son and his betrothed on the same day.”

Betrothed. The word washed more guilt over Julian’s stricken soul.

A senator, one of his father’s friends, walked past and paused to hold out an arm in greeting to Julian. “Fine day for the games, is it not?”

Julian straightened at once, resuming the noble bearing trained into him since childhood, and returned the man’s grip. He nodded once in agreement, but did not speak. The senator moved on, and Julian dropped his shoulders, ashamed that he had not made a statement.

Ariella seemed to read his thoughts. Her dark eyes held his own. “It will take more than a day to change the Empire.”

Julian looked out over the yellow sand of the arena. “But this day, Mother, this day we must!” He slapped a hand against the top of the marble wall. “I am going to find Father.”

“Julian, you know that he can do nothing – “

He spun on her. “No. I am tired of both of you, always moving about your circles quietly, behind closed doors, the truth spoken only in whispers.” He lifted his own voice as an example. “There is a time to speak!”

Ariella’s nostrils flared, but she said nothing. Turning from her, Julian stalked to the nearest break in the seating and ascended the tiers alongside his father’s section. Here, the nobility did not sit on wooden planks as the rest of the citizens, but were given cushions or even chairs for comfort. He scanned the rows of seats for his father’s graying head, and instead met his dark gray eyes.

Julian shook his head and opened his mouth to shout across the intervening seats, but his father held up a hand, then stood and excused himself from his colleagues. He slid along in front of a dozen other senators, and emerged at the end of the row beside Julian.

Quietly, he spoke into his son’s ear. “I have just now heard. It is outrageous.”

Julian’s hands balled into fists at his side. “You must do something.”

“What can I do, Julian? The emperor has ruled, and Trajan is not a man to be defied.”

Across the arena, Julian watched as a trapdoor slid upward and a huddled band of men and women were prodded onto the sand at the end of Roman spears. Julian’s heart pounded with the shortness of the time left and he turned on his father with the frenzy of desperation. “She is out there, Father!”

But his father’s eyes held only grief, not anger. Not the fiery anger that could change the future, even now.

Julian pushed past him, down the steps. If his parents would do nothing from their positions of influence, then he would stop this madness from a position of strength.

It had been his fault, all of it. Trajan had made his stance clear. As long as they kept to themselves, did not flaunt their disagreement with imperial policy, did not take a public stand, they would be left alone. But that had not been enough for Julian. Passionate about the truth, eager to show himself a leader and foolish enough to believe himself invincible, he had spoken too loudly, in too many places.

And now this. Vita and the others arrested, convicted, and sentenced without his knowledge. Julian had brought this on them all, but he had escaped their fate.

At the terrace level he circled the arena toward the imperial box. The amphitheatre was one of the few places where the public had access to the divine emperor. Julian grasped at the thin hope that he could get near enough to plead for Vita’s life.

He had not loved her. Not like he should, though he had tried. He had never known a more virtuous woman. The arranged match between them was a good one. But Julian had never felt more than the flame of admiration and respect for her, and he saw nothing but the same in her eyes. Still, they would have been married.

We will be married.

The foot-stomps of the crowd rose around him like a hundred thousand drumbeats. The cadence resonated in his chest and pushed him forward. He knew that sound. It was the sound of a mob hungry for blood.

Terror drove his footsteps. He could not look to the arena. Not even when he heard more trapdoors rise and the low growl of beasts begin.

The crowd screamed as one, and their shouts lifted to the pale blue sky like a puff of evil smoke from the underworld. Julian’s bones seemed to turn to water. He raced on. The emperor’s raised box was in sight.

But then they were beside him again, both his parents this time, grasping at his arms, pulling him backward.

“It is too late, son.” His mother’s voice held the grief of both the present and the past, for she had seen much sorrow in the arena in her day.

His father turned him to the wall to face the sand. “You must say goodbye, Julian. You must say goodbye.”

He let his parents hold him there at the marble wall. He scraped his hands across the top, then gripped the white stone.

Lions. Six of them. Circling, circling the knot of friends in the center of the bright yellow sand that had been brought from one of the hills of Rome and spread on wooden planking to soak up the blood of gladiator, beast, and the condemned.

The lions charged at once, but for Julian, the moment stretched out, like a thread of silk spun from a slow-turning wheel, and though the crowd still bellowed, in his head all had gone silent and he saw only his group of friends, crumpling in on themselves like sand flowing into a sinkhole.

The lions must have roared before they pounced, though Julian heard nothing, and felt only the relentless scraping of his own hands across the stone wall. He scraped until his hands were torn and bloody, wanting to bleed with her, wanting to bleed with all of them, as he should have.

The sun had risen to pour its rays into the center of the arena, and the yellow sand beneath them turned to molten gold in the light, an oval of liquid gold with Vita and the others drowning in the center of it. He saw her face for a moment, lifted to heaven.

His mind disconnected and drifted strangely, then, to the words at the end of the Apostle John’s Revelation, and his vision of the New Jerusalem with its streets of pure gold.

Would Vita fall asleep in this golden sand and wake to streets of gold?

The beasts did their job well and quickly, and when it was over and the mutilated bodies of his friends lay scattered across the sand, Julian woke from his stupor and felt the guilt of every lost life bear down on him as though the stones around him had collapsed on his head. He tasted bile rising in his throat, and turned away from the wall to retch onto the paving stones.

His parents held his arms as he emptied the contents of his stomach. He heard the jeers directed toward him. When he stood, the tear-streaked faces of both his parents matched his own.

But he found no solace in their shared grief. They did not have to bear the guilt of it as he did. As he always would. He pulled from their embrace and escaped the amphitheatre, running back the way he had come, running like a haunted man.

Days later, when his guilt and grief had hardened into bitter anger, he tried once again to change the minds and policies of the Roman government. But in the end he brought only more disgrace, and more danger, upon his family.

In the cool of the evening three days after Vita’s death, he stood at the terrace wall of his father’s lavish villa in the Roman countryside, looking down into the flowered gardens his mother had commissioned, and listening to the fountain that trickled night and day into the central pool. He inhaled deeply of the night air, dragging in the scent of roses.

His guilt over Vita’s death had not abated, and he had added to it with his actions in the days since. His brazen words in the Senate House, and later the Forum, had identified him as one who should have also met his death in the arena that day.

Perhaps that was his wish. To be arrested himself, to be thrown before the gaping yaw of a dozen lions, to be given what he deserved.

But his family. He had not wanted the same for his family. His only brother, long since stationed in some military outpost, had never embraced the family’s beliefs, but even he could be reached by the long arm of the empire, and brought back to face condemnation with the rest.

Behind him, slaves stirred to prepare the evening meal and lit torches on the veranda. His parents would appear soon and they would all pretend that their privileged life continued.

But Julian had made a decision. His life in Rome was over. To protect his family, he must disappear.

He thought of his brother’s stories of the provinces that lay at the edges of the Empire. Of Britannia, of Judea. But even there the Roman army could search out a man. No, he must go further east than even Judea.

There was a place, a hidden city he had heard tales of since he was a boy. Stories that had sparked his imagination and given him the desire to travel across the desert sand to discover the city tucked between the rock cliffs of Arabia.

Petra. Capital of the Nabatean kingdom, wealthy center of the east-west trade route, and beyond even the Roman Empire’s reach.

Julian rubbed his hands together, palms still raw from being torn open the day Vita died. Yes, it was a good plan.

He would flee to Petra.

Here is my review of this amazing novel:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to T.L. Higley and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Petra: City of Stone" 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.

“Petra: City of Stone” is T.L. Higley’s latest novel in her series chronicling the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This tale tells the story of two people running away from their painful lives: Julian, from Rome and certain death for his family who may be rounded up and sent to the Coliseum to entertain bloodthirsty Roman citizens because of their belief in Christ; Cassia from Damascus with her son Alex, escaping from a brutal husband to his estranged family. Both race to Petra, the carved rock capital city of the Arabian empire, in the hopes of a better life.

This incredibly suspenseful novel brings to life this ancient city and the believers of the first century church. Higley beautifully illuminates the time and the place so that the reader feels fully immersed in history. It is obvious that she does quite a bit of research to bring these novels to life. I find her books to be a fascinating way to learn a bit about history. This novel particularly opened my eyes to a place I never knew existed. I really enjoy a highly entertaining tale that educates as well.

Coffee Shop Conversations by Dale and Jonalyn Fincher

Coffee Shop Conversations by Jonalyn and Dale Fincher.

A 2008 study released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life notes that the number of people creating their own interpretations of faith and culture is growing. Seems like there are as many different styles of faith as ways to order your latte. How does a Christian have normal conversations about Jesus without accidentally sounding offensive, bigoted or intolerant?

In Coffee Shop Conversations (April 2010) by Dale Fincher and Jonalyn Fincher, readers will find the tools they need to speak plainly and honestly about their faith, avoid speaking “christianese” and have meaningful, tolerant and respectful conversations with friends who don’t share their views. Coffee Shop Conversations is written to an audience of 18-35 year olds interested in articulating their faith throughout their everyday activities.

About the Author:

Jonalyn and Dale Fincher

Dale Fincher and Jonalyn Fincher speak and write nationally as a husband-wife team through Soulation, a non-profit dedicated to helping others be appropriately human. They are energetic and experienced public speakers, and their previous books include Living with Questions and Ruby Slippers. They make their home in Steamboat, Colorado, with corgis, snowshoes and a colorful library of books.

Learn more about Jonalyn and Dale at

Coffee Shop Conversations
Release: April 2010
Soft cover, 224 pp.
ISBN: 0310318874

Here is my review of this terrific "witnessing" resource:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Dale and Jonalyn Fincher and their publisher for sending me a copy of "Coffee Shop Conversations" 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.

“Coffee Shop Conversations: Making the Most of Spiritual Small Talk” by Dale and Jonalyn Fincher is a terrific tool for anyone who may be unsure about sharing their faith with others. This book is divided into three sections designed to teach the reader how to share the gospel by preparing them in such a way that they have confidence in what they’re sharing and how to share it. This book also discloses some pitfalls that can sabotage our conversations with others about Jesus.

“Coffee Shop Conversations” is a valuable tool that I will refer to again. It has taught me several things already that will help me to speak the truth in love to those who don’t know the Lord. This book would be a good resource to add to any Christian’s library.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

Outlive Your Life
You Were Made to Make a Difference

By Max Lucado

Published by Thomas Nelson

These are difficult days in our world's history. 1.75 billion people are desperately poor, natural disasters are gouging entire nations, and economic uncertainty still reigns across the globe. But you and I have been given an opportunity to make a big difference. What if we did? What if we rocked the world with hope? Infiltrated all corners with God's love and life? We are created by a great God to do great works. He invites us to outlive our lives, not just in heaven, but here on earth. Let's live our lives in such a way that the world will be glad we did.

Here is my review of this wonderfully inspiring non-fiction read:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Max Lucado and his publisher for sending me a copy of "Out Lie Your Life" 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.

Max Lucado’s latest title, “Out Live Your Life: You Were Made To Make A Difference” is an inspiring and encouraging read. This incredible non-fiction book asks – and answers – the question: “What if we rocked the world with hope?” WOW! How can we human beings ever aspire to that type of mission? Through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. Each of us, as believers, has the power to rock the world with hope because the power of the King of the Universe lives within each of us! This book will open your eyes to the existence of the less fortunate. In fact, 100% of the author’s royalties for this book will go toward benefitting children and families through World Vision.

I am never disappointed in a Max Lucado book because of the transparency with which it is written. This book is supremely inspiring and will absolutely change the way you see your mission as a Christian. We cannot ignore what is going on in our world, today. Well, I suppose we could, but God cannot. And we can choose to live life through our own power or through the power of the Holy Spirit. The choice is ours. This book will influence you to “Outlive Your Life” and choose to live in the power that God has given you.

Bible Study: As It Was In The Beginning - Genesis - Chapter 45

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Genesis. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses you through this material.


Take a few minutes to savor Genesis Chapter 45. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

45:1 – Joseph now calls them “his brothers”. Notice he previously called them “the men” in 44:1.

45:3 – “I am Joseph!” – one of my favorite moments in scripture! Did tears pour from his eyes? Did the brothers think this was another cruel deception? It did take them a few moments to embrace him.

“they were terrified” – bahal – used to denote terror due to God’s power or thoughts of God. (Keyword SB Lexical Aids) The brothers weren’t necessarily terrified of Joseph, but that God’s punishment for their sin against him was at hand! Did they perhaps mature enough to realize that their sin was not only against Joseph, but against God as well?

45:4 – Joseph acknowledges the wedge between the brothers, but doesn’t dwell on it. Stating that he was the one they sold into Egypt also confirmed his identity. In addition, it affirmed the necessity of appropriate apologies.

45:5 – “do not be distressed” – asab – “…denotes physical and mental discomfort…” This was a feeling of great anguish. The same word is used in Nehemiah 8:10-11 to describe how Israel felt hearing the Torah; Genesis 34:7 has it describing the outrage of Dinah’s brothers when they learned of her rape by Shechem; Genesis 6:6 uses it to show God’s sorrow toward mankind before the flood. (Keyword SB Lexical Aids)

45:6 – Joseph is 39 years old.

45:7-8 – How can you see God’s hand at work in some long-standing personal conflicts? (Explore the Bible, Adult Learner Guide, Spring 2008, Genesis 28-50)

45:7 – “save your lives by a great deliverance” – not only does this allude to Joseph’s position and Israel’s deliverance from the famine. It is also a foreshadowing of God’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage through Moses.

45:14 – Benjamin embraced him – Benjamin dearly missed Joseph during the time of their separation – growing up together, learning about his mother, having a brother and a friend to trust. He would have been about 11 when Joseph was proclaimed dead by the brothers – the very time he would have begun to treasure a brother he had followed and idolized for years.

45:24 – “don’t quarrel on the way” – curious. All had been forgiven. There was no need to dwell on the past.

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

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Leading from the Lion's Den: Leadership Principles from Every Book of the Bible by Tom R. Harper

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:

Leading from the Lion’s Den: Leadership Principles from Every Book of the Bible

B&H Books (September 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Blythe Daniel of The Blythe Daniel Agency, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***


Tom Harper is president of the online church leadership community Church Central as well as Net World Alliance, a leading business-to-business media communications company. He lives with his wife and children in Louisville, Kentucky.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (September 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805444424
ISBN-13: 978-0805444421


Lionhearted Leaders

A king’s rage is like a lion’s roar;
but his favor is like dew on the grass.

—Proverbs 19:12

All successful leaders are lion tamers. Over time they learn how to calm the roaring beasts, and in those rare instances when a pride  attacks or  a big cat goes berserk, they find a way to survive.

Have you ever found yourself suddenly surrounded by carnivorous critics, competitors, or coworkers materializing from the bushes? Perhaps a snide remark in a meeting or a biting e-mail ruined your day.

This book is a leadership manual on how to deal with the lions in your life, and how to successfully lead in this unpredictable world. When people don’t say what they mean and things aren’t what they seem, we have to rely on leadership principles that never change.

In these pages, you will discover sixty-six powerful leadership concepts from every book of the Bible. The ancient Scriptures speak of conflict management, motivation, planning, psychology, persuasion, passion, relationship-building, training, and sacrifice—a myriad of skills every leader needs in his or her toolbox.

These biblical leadership techniques have worked for thousands of years—but sadly, many leaders ignore them today. Maybe that’s because they’re not quick roads to power, fame, or wealth. Instead, they lead to a life well lived, to true success. And to less pain along the way.

If you master them, you will master your lions.

Lion imagery appears everywhere in the Bible. Even the Lord says of Himself, “He will roar like a lion. When He roars, His children will come trembling from the west” (Hos. 11:10). Jesus is called the lion of the tribe of Judah. He said, “Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34).

As leaders, we must become like lions ourselves—roaring when necessary, feared by our followers, yet calm and gentle in the heat of the day. And when our people fall into their own lions’ dens, we need to go in and get them out.

The Gems in This Book

Over the past few years, I’ve read each book of the Bible in search of fresh lessons for leaders. This has led me to some amazing discoveries.

For example, I thought the twelve books of the Minor Prophets primarily contained prophetic messages of doom. Little did I know they held secrets to motivating people, turning our careers around, business planning, fighting superior force, and customer research.

When I got to the Gospels, I didn’t think I’d find anything new there, either. I thought everything about Jesus’ leadership tactics had been written. But fresh insights emerged: Matthew demonstrated how to connect with my people the way Jesus did. Luke taught how to discover someone’s true character with three tests. In John, I found three tactics to raise my leadership profile among my peers and followers.

I’ve sought to discover the freshest, most pertinent leadership lesson in every book. When strung together, these sixty-six concepts reveal a meta-narrative about how to lead people. While human research and wisdom are fallible and change depending on time and culture, a plethora of modern research supports the Bible’s forty authors, who themselves were separated by centuries and cultures.

I don’t pretend to have found every divine leadership principle. Many didn’t make it into my manuscript, since the goal was to choose only one from each book. Doubtless some of them won’t be new to you and others will go against the advice of well-known authors. You’ll find many more if you do your own digging.

Perhaps the most significant revelation I found was echoed by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “All of my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients.”

The Conclusion of History

Throughout the millennia, non-Christian writers have offered valuable wisdom, like Sun Tzu in The Art of War, the famous sixth-century BC Chinese treatise on battlefield prowess. Many modern military institutions require their students to read it. Though it’s one of the oldest known books on military strategy, thousands of leaders have successfully applied it to the tech-accelerated marketplace of today.

The Bible, of course, is even more ancient. It has provided guidance and wisdom for countless leaders throughout history:1

Robert E. Lee—“In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.”

Theodore Roosevelt—“A thorough understanding of the Bible is better than a college education.”

Woodrow Wilson—“I am sorry for men who do not read the Bible every day. I wonder why they deprive themselves of the strength and pleasure.”

Abraham Lincoln—“I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man.”

Napoleon Bonaparte—“The Bible is no mere book, but it’s a living creature with a power that conquers all who oppose it.”

George Washington—“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

Andrew Jackson—“That Book is the rock on which our Republic rests.”

Sir Isaac Newton—“I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by men who were inspired. I study the Bible daily.”

Charles Dickens—“The New Testament is the very best book that ever was or ever will be known in the world.”

Well-known marketplace leaders like S. Truett Cathy, founder and CEO of Chick-fil-A, and David Novak, CEO of Yum! and author of The Education of an Accidental CEO (Crown Business, 2007), build their lives and work on a biblical foundation. Author Zig Ziglar credits the Bible with making him who he is today. Ditto John Maxwell, the prolific leadership guru, author of more than thirty books, and former pastor. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great (HarperCollins), found that his so-called “level 5 leader” matched the description of Jesus Christ.

Whatever your vocation, whether you teach, manage, protect, heal, serve the elderly, volunteer, pilot a plane, clean, compete, coach, preach, or parent, it is my hope that the concepts throughout this book will hone your leadership skills and help you find true success in work and life.

And the next time you find yourself in a lion’s den, may the sharpest teeth be your own.


Spark Creativity One Brain at a Time—Genesis

“Creativity is to think more efficiently.”

—Pierre Reverdy, French poet


hen I was a kid, a man who worked with my dad called him the most creative businessman he’d ever known. But Dad could barely draw a stick man. Though he never professed or demonstrated what I considered creativity, he had a knack for artfully solving business and people problems.

Most people don’t think their abilities resemble creativity, either. But I’ve seen a financial executive present bland financial data in the form of a compelling story. I’ve watched in awe as a sales exec adjusted his language to lead a prospect from arms-folded resistance to acceptance.

What does creativity mean to you? Many people think artistry. Others think innovation. Still others go a level deeper. Alberto Alessi, CEO of the Alessi product design firm, said, “We consider our core activity to be mediating between, on one side, the best possible expressions of product design from all over the world and, on the other side, the final customer’s dreams.”2 Another example of creative innovation is, which connects companies with inventors, entrepreneurs, researchers, and students through an online match-making service. These ad hoc teams create groundbreaking new products and solutions. Many organizations foster creative teamwork through collaborative instant messaging, chat windows, discussion boards, and project groups.

Though online cooperation might appear to be a new kind of brainstorming, it’s actually based on an ancient model of creativity. The concept is simple: the best creative thinking is done when individuals have a chance to think before they collaborate. Not everyone thinks well in groups. Especially introverts like me. We need time to cogitate and organize our thoughts before verbalizing them.

The original act of divine creativity in Genesis was executed by one mind (notwithstanding the Trinity). God didn’t wait to ask us what we wanted. His vision was clear. Later, humans had their chance to invent and originate, but not until the Lord had completed His foundational work.

Throughout the Bible, as you will see, God and His handpicked people model different aspects of leadership. In Genesis, He also models the perfect work and rest ethic. Why shouldn’t He be our model for creativity, too?

We can infer from God’s method of creativity that teams shouldn’t necessarily be exalted over individuals. For example, when most executives are faced with significant problems, they resort to group brainstorming sessions. The problem with these, say social researchers, is brainstorming in a group setting rarely enhances the quantity or quality of ideas. One reason is the fear of peer evaluation. Plus, listening to other ideas can cause us to forget our own. Sometimes people simply don’t have enough time to think of anything.

Another reason group creativity doesn’t work is “social loafing,” when some in the group go silent because they think their contributions aren’t valued, or because they can’t compete with the bolder group members. As a result, the quieter people’s ideas go unspoken. A simple solution is to collect everyone’s thoughts before the meeting, freeing them to think without distractions, anxiety, or time constraints. The leader collects the ideas and e-mails the anonymous list to the group. After refinement, the team meets in person to expand or combine the top-voted ideas.

When you need a creative solution, remember the Genesis model. First analyze the issue without group influence. You’ll then be able to lead your team through the creative process at maximum efficiency, with all the best ideas on the table. If you rally the troops too early for collaborative thinking, too many dysfunctional dynamics and distractions will neuter the creativity, especially with larger groups.

You as the leader are the genesis of creativity in your organization. By encouraging individual thought among your people, groupthink will never have a chance to birth mediocrity.

Leadership Principle #1 (Genesis)

Creative leaders coax the best thinking out of individuals before calling a brainstorming session to combine the minds.

“In the beginning God created the heavens
and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1)

Here's my review of this insightful book on leadership principles:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Tom Harper and his publisher for sending me a copy of "Leading From the Lion's Den" 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.

Tom Harper’s “Leading From The Lion’s Den” is a collection of leadership principles from every book of the Bible. Don’t be fooled by the size of this book. Sixty-six short chapters tantalize the reader to investigate scripture. Each chapter brings to light a quality of leadership that is showcased within that book of the Bible. The commentary is concise and insightful and will give you a new perspective on each book of the Bible. Whether you are in leadership at work, in church, or as a Christian example to others wherever you go, this book is a useful tool for highlighting characteristics and behaviors of leaders that are prominent in scripture.

I adore books that encourage me to read scripture rather than trying to influence me to only consider what is within their own pages. This is one of those wonderful resources that leads you back to the Word of God. I highly recommend this to anyone.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Divas of the Divine by Donna McCrary and Sherri Holbert

DIVAS' Top 10 Necessities for a Fulfilled Life
1. A Great Bra! (Prayer Foundation) – Even though many women don’t enjoy wearing this undergarment, it is the most critical aspect of any DIVA’S outfit! Why? It is the foundation—just like a relationship with God that offers support and is always uplifting.
2. Mirror (Real Beauty) – A DIVA looks into the mirror to check hair and lipstick but more importantly to make sure what she sees is real—to make sure her beauty is reflected from within, transparent and authentic.
3. Shoes (God’s Purpose) – The perfect designer shoes guide her daily walk with Christ. Must fit her style as an individual and accentuate the relationship that is uniquely hers in order to make every step count. Little steps help her go the distance.
4. Sunglasses (Priorities) – Oh, how important to filter the harmful rays and the worldly view of the sunlight so she is only exposed to the pure Son and all of His benefits!
5. Chocolate (Time Out) – Every DIVA’S little piece of heaven! It may be small but it’s sweetness, it’s creamy comfort, and its AHHHH factor, is enough to sustain her until she gets to experience the wonder of heaven. It’s the little pick-me-up that will remind her to sustain her eternal perspective no matter the circumstance.
6. Wrinkle Cream (Forgiveness) – It is the hottest thing on the market for any DIVA who wants to remove lines and wrinkles. The Spirit-inspired ingredients are key to erasing the fine lines of stress, worry, and bitterness to help her let go of the past. This cream is full of the healing power of forgiveness, grace, and unconditional love.
7. Watch (Commitment) – Every DIVA has a favorite watch. This piece of bling pulls every outfit together. She feels lost when she forgets to wear it. Time! Time requires commitment and every DIVA chooses wisely how she spends it.
8. Girlfriend (Accountability) - The most important necessity for all true DIVAS. She’s caring and fun to be with. She is the “speak the truth in love” kind of friend that will hold the DIVA accountable to being the true Designer Original she was created to be.
9. Purse (Balance) - Whether it’s top-of-the-line or a bargain-deal, the DIVA’S purse must be perfect to keep all her most important things close—flexible to bend when in tight spots but sturdy enough to withstand day-to day-use. Her purse contains the necessary items to stay balanced and “keep it all together.”
10. Lipstick (Positive Words & Attitude) – Positive words and a polished tone flow from her lips in pretty colors and a high-gloss shine. Her words inspire others.

About the Authors:

Donna McCrary
From high top basketball shoes to high heels, each step of Donna’s life has equipped her for a Life Coaching career. She is a challenging facilitator whose “tell it like it is” approach always incorporates a call to action from her participants.
Donna draws from her background as a recreational therapist to create dynamic outcome-oriented keynotes, retreats, and curriculums. Her greatest passion and deepest joy is to “coach” women in realizing God’s plan for their lives and in discovering for themselves the source of genuine joy.
Donna is a wife, mother of two, and beloved friend. Donna’s hobbies include hiking, vacationing at the beach, and trying projects from popular HGTV home improvement shows... much to her husband’s dismay!

Sherri Holbert
Sherri invested many years with companies such as Biltmore Estate, Chick-fil-A, and Chimney Rock Park in developing new and creative programs to excel these corporations to higher levels of success.
Sherri is founder and CEO of Power-Up!, a coaching company whose mission is to take individuals and corporations to the next level of success. She works as a coach, facilitator, and speaker for a variety of clients ranging from corporate executives to stay-at-home moms. Sherri’s passion is unlocking the untapped potential within others to help them gain fresh perspectives, develop clear vision, and establish action steps that will make their dreams reality.
Sherri is a wife, aunt, and friend to many. She has a self-proclaimed addiction to shoes, purses, and Starbuck’s coffee. One of her life goals is to be on Survivor (her favorite TV reality show!).

Blog Tour
Grand Prize!

• Turquoise purse/tote
• Silver flip-flops
• Purse and shoe picture frames
• Box of Godiva truffles
• DIVAS of the Divine book & journal


Sherri: If life for you is like driving 100 mph in a convertible, make sure you have a map to your dream destination and a friend to keep you focused on the plan so you don’t get sucked into the tourist traps along the way. Don’t be Thelma and Louise! Allow your passion to drive you to the mountain top of success instead of driving you off the cliff with no purpose.

Donna: The shopping mall is full of new shoes but they can only be enjoyed if you take off the old,
try on the new, and then commit to pay the price.

Here is my review of this enlightening Bible study/devotional:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Donna McCrary and Sherri Holbert and their publisher for sending me a copy of "(Divas of the Divine" 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.

“Divas of the Divine: How to Live as a Designer Original in a Knock-Off World” by Donna McCrary and Sherri Holbert is an engaging series of devotionals for women. The authors’ commentary comes together with scripture readings and questions to deepen your relationship with God through the realization of your identity in Christ.

The scripture is included in the workbook, but you can use your own Bible translation, if you prefer. This workbook can be used with a group or as independent study. Either way, if you are disciplined to pick up this book every day, it will help you to establish a habit. I actually prefer having to open my own Bible in conjunction with a devotional, but I suppose it’s more convenient to only have to carry one book if you’re traveling. Overall, I would recommend this potentially life-changing devotional workbook to your women’s group.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Bible Study: As It Was In The Beginning - Genesis - Chapter 44

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Genesis. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses you through this material.


Take a few minutes to savor Genesis Chapter 44. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

44:2 – What kind of emotional baggage are you carrying that hinders reconciliation with others? (Explore the Bible, Adult Learner Guide, Spring 2008, Genesis 28-50)

44:12 – Can you imagine the brothers’ panic building? Maybe some of them prayed, others just “knew” Benjamin was doomed to have the cup and be singled out. Their hearts most definitely plummeted after the cup was found after this massive build-up of tension. Their worst fear was realized.

44:16 – Judah acknowledges his and his brothers’ sin.

44:18-34 – Judah came forward to take Benjamin’s place. Fitting that Christ comes from this bloodline since He took our place. Imagine the increase of emotion as he pleads, the tears welling in his eyes, the heart breaking. He couldn’t watch his father grieve when Joseph was sold (see 38:1), he definitely couldn’t be a part of this terrible news.

According to the Explore the Bible Adult Learner Guide, this is the longest speech recorded in Genesis.

44:32 – Judah is proof that, sometimes, people do change.

What signs should you look for in a person alienated from you to indicate that peace might be possible? (Explore the Bible, Adult Learner Guide, Spring 2008, Genesis 28-50) Accountability.

44:34 – tells Joseph that the grief Jacob felt over his loss was overwhelming.

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

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Art of War for Spiritual Battle by Cindy Trimm

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Art of War for Spiritual Battle

Charisma House; 1 edition (August 3, 2010)

***Special thanks to Anna Silva of Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***


Cindy Trimm is a motivational speaker and preacher and a multifaceted executive, life coach, and success mentor who travels up to forty-eight weeks a year, speaking and empowering people from all walks of life. She has published several best-selling books, including Commanding Your Morning, and is known as a popular, charismatic communicator.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $15.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Charisma House; 1 edition (August 3, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599798727
ISBN-13: 978-1599798721


Part One


The art of spiritual war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one’s deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions of taking the field and winning the battle.

These are: (1) The way; (2) heaven; (3) earth; (4) the general; (5) method and discipline.

—The Art of War, 1:3–4, paraphrased



Therefore, in your deliberations and preparations for war, when seeking to determine the military conditions, let them be made the basis of a comparison, in this wise:

(1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with right on his side?

(2) Which of the two generals has the most ability?

(3) With whom lie the advantages derived from heaven and earth?

(4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced?

(5) Which army is stronger?

(6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained?

(7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?

By means of these seven considerations I can

forecast victory or defeat.

—The Art of War, 1:12–14, paraphrased

In the Book of Acts, Jesus’s last words before He ascended to heaven gave the church a direct order, which was to be carried out before His return:

[Do not] depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father. . . . “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

—Acts 1:4, 8

It was a military-like command to go out and take territory for God and expand His kingdom around the earth—but only after having first received the power and strategies from heaven’s war room. God was ready to unleash His kingdom and His divine power upon the earth. As we stand here more than two thousand years later, this commandment has still not been completely carried out.

You may ask, “What exactly is God’s kingdom?” God’s kingdom is simply any place God’s will is performed on the earth as it is through the administrations of the government of heaven. When one attempts to understand the kingdom of God, the seeker must first learn what is meant by the actual concept itself. It has become almost a catchphrase in the body of Christ, without many people truly understanding the concept thereby or living out their proper authority.

Over time, the true meaning of the kingdom of God has been overshadowed by the religious conventions of Christianity, church denominations, and the traditions of man, thereby hindering believers from true freedom. Let us take some time to truly understand what God really intended by this phenomenon called the kingdom.

The kingdom of God is a literal, spiritual realm accessible only to born-again believers. This realm encompasses the power and resources essential to the believer if he or she desires to achieve the manifestation of heaven on earth. (See Genesis 2:4–5.) It can be best understood from an analogous perspective of the natural cosmological systems of the universe.

In the kingdom of heaven, the believer’s earthly experience is filled with the essence of the righteousness that is God. It is a spiritual realm in which believers are privileged

to exist and function at prosperous levels while physically living in the earth. This life is lived with the perspective originally intended by God at the forefront— that is, fulfilling God’s original mandate to humanity as presented in Genesis 1:28—that we are to have dominion on the earth.

The kingdom of God has its own unique characteristics, consisting of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. It encompasses countless other principles;

however, these three concepts are, at best, a summation of what the omniscient God purposed for His earthly kings to whom He gave complete dominion over all that exists in the earth.

As previously stated, this lifestyle can only be accessed and experienced by those who have faith in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. According to Luke 17:20, this kingdom cannot be perceived by the natural eye, because it is the sovereign rule of our unseen God through His citizens in the earth realm.

To achieve the maximum benefits God intended, we must move from merely surviving and settling for mediocre lifestyles to living—abundantly. God did not intend for His people to live beneath their potential. We find evidence of this in the Old Testament, and it was later manifested and maximized in the perfect example of Jesus Christ while He lived on the earth.

Jesus Christ emphatically proclaimed the kingdom of God. Since He so passionately promoted kingdom living, it is wise, at the least, to seek and obtain all that He purposed and planned for your life from the beginning of time.

Christ has instructed us as believers, above all other pursuits, to seek the kingdom. It should be the epitome of our priorities. In this realm we demonstrate our royalty and manifest our authority.

Open the spirit of your mind and allow these laws of the kingdom—which are based on principles found in the Word of God—to be firmly planted in the fertile soil of your heart. Then, and only then, can the kingdom be internally understood and subsequently realized through your existence as a kingdom ambassador in the earth.


The greatest enemy of the church is not sin but ignorance. Satan’s number-one goal is to keep you ignorant concerning the kingdom, as was described in Hosea 4:6:

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

Because you have rejected knowledge,

I also will reject you from being priest for Me;

Because you have forgotten the law of your God,

I also will forget your children.

Even as Satan challenged Jesus in Matthew 4, so it is today with the church. The key confrontational issue has to do with the kingdom, because it is literally God’s rule on the earth through man—His earthly representatives.

Think about that for a moment.

What rules heaven? God’s will as expressed in His laws and principles. Is there sickness in heaven? No. Is there poverty in heaven? No. Is there slavery, sex trafficking, drug and alcohol abuse, oppression, famine, war, child soldiers, persecution, terrorism, malnutrition, bankruptcy, or water that isn’t safe to drink in heaven? No.

I’ll tell you another thing; heaven doesn’t need orphanages or divorce courts either, because those aren’t issues there. The things that are tearing our world apart don’t exist in heaven, because God’s will is as accessible there as breathing the air is to us.

The next question is, what rules the earth? As long as man does not take his rightful stance, posture, and place in God through prayer, evil and evil human beings will rule. Herein lies the challenge. You must arise and take your place so that through you God can restore order, peace, righteousness, morality, ethics, just governance, health, and healing.

Though we all have different racial and ethnic backgrounds and are from all types of families, our emotions and passions have commonality; they respond to the human condition and life challenges, hardships, and disappointments in very similar ways. God planted it within each of us to want to make a difference in our world—a difference that will bring good and not harm, peace and not strife, prosperity and not poverty. But too few realize that the groundwork for this overcoming lifestyle begins in our prayer closets. It is the place of training and preparation. It is the boot camp to overcoming.

Just as one who is not practiced in the art of sword craft cannot artfully wield a sword, no person on this earth can correctly use God’s Word who has not been trained in it by the Master Himself. Prayer is that place of training, and also the place of overcoming.

There are battles still raging for the peoples of the earth, and those battles are fought in the spiritual realm before they manifest in the natural. I remind you that the Spirit realm is the causal realm. If you prevail in the Spirit, you will win in the natural. If you can learn the art of victory through intercession, then such struggles that steal the souls of humanity need not ever manifest at all.

Thus, as you look at joining the forces of God’s army to establish His kingdom upon the earth, you need to count the cost. You need to look at some initial considerations and the lay of the two sides and see what it is that you need to do to gain the victory. For Sun Tzu, this boiled down to the answers to seven questions:

1. Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with right on his side?

2. Which of the two generals has the most ability?

3. With whom lie the advantages derived from heaven and earth?

4. On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced?

5. Which army is stronger?

6. On which side are officers and men more highly trained?

7. In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?

Some of these answers are easy. (1) God has right on His side over our adversary, (5) God’s army is stronger, and (7) God “is a rewarder of those who diligently seek

Him” (Heb. 11:6). But what of the others? Do our prayer generals have more ability in warring for right than those who are seduced by Satan to establish his kingdoms of evil? Which side is better at using its authority under heaven and upon the earth? Which side is more disciplined in what it is doing? On which side are the officers and soldiers better trained and practiced in establishing the will of their master upon the earth? While we as

Christians have all the power behind us, how well are we acting in that authority? The determination in whether we will be victorious or defeated hangs upon the honest answers to these questions. We are overcomers, but are we overcoming? Thus the issue is not the power of our God, but how disciplined and prepared we are to win the battles of our spiritual war in prayer.

Thinking of these questions reminds me of what happened with U.S. General George Patton during World War II. Patton demonstrated the need for both physical and spiritual preparations to win the battles we face, and in his case these were literal battles against evil. In early December 1944, the German Sixth Panzer Army was making a desperate attempt to regain lost territory in France through surprise attacks on the eighty-eight-mile front that was tenuously held by the Allied Forces. They were making great headway in the midst of heavy rains, thick fogs, and swirling ground mists that muffled the sound of their engines, blotted out the sun, and reduced visibility to only a few yards, keeping Allied planes grounded and forces on the ground isolated. Under this cover, the Nazi tanks easily cut through the few divisions holding the front in Luxembourg as they pushed south. The foul weather was an incredible aid to the Axis leaders, and Patton knew that if these troops were going to be turned back, the skies would have to clear or they would have little chance to determine where the Panzers would strike next. These rains had been plaguing the lines between France and Germany since September.

So, on the morning of December 8, General Patton, who was an Episcopalian and used to written prayers, called the Third Army chaplain, saying, “This is General

Patton. Do you have a good prayer for weather? We must do something about those rains if we are to win the war.”

The chaplain who took the call did not find a specific prayer on weather in the prayer books he had access to, so he composed the following:

Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.


Because of the season, the chaplain also added a Christmas greeting. When the general approved it, he instructed, “Have two hundred fifty thousand copies printed, and see to it that every man in the Third Army gets one.” The chaplain then directed the general’s attention to the greeting on the other side of the card and said, “If the general would sign the card, it would add a personal touch that I am sure the men would like.”

Smiling at the gesture, the general crossed to his desk, took a pen, and signed the Christmas message. When he handed the card back, he said, “Chaplain, sit down for a moment. I want to talk to you about this business of prayer.” He crossed to the window and looked out at the steady rain. He was a striking figure at six feet two with broad muscular shoulders and dressed in his uniform, which showed the discipline and polish of a dedicated soldier.

“Chaplain, how much praying is being done in the Third Army?”

“Does the general mean by chaplains or by the men?”

“By everybody,” he replied.

Thinking a moment, the chaplain responded, “I am afraid to admit it, but I do not believe that much praying is going on. When there is fighting, everyone prays, but now with this constant rain—when things are quiet, dangerously quiet, men just sit and wait for things to happen. Prayer out here is difficult. Both chaplains and men are removed from a special building with a steeple. Prayer to most of them is a formal, ritualized affair, involving special posture and a liturgical setting. I do not believe that much praying is being done.”

The general crossed to his desk, sat down, leaned back in his chair, and began toying with a pencil he had found laying there.

“Chaplain, I am a strong believer in prayer. There are three ways that men get what they want: by planning, by working, and by praying. Any great military operation takes careful planning, or thinking. Then you must have well-trained troops to carry it out: that’s working. But between the plan and the operation there is always an unknown. That unknown spells defeat or victory, success or failure. It is the reaction of the actors to the ordeal when it actually comes. Some people call that getting the breaks. I call it God! God has His part, or margin in everything, that’s where prayer comes in. Up to now, in

the Third Army, God has been very good to us. We have never retreated; we have suffered no defeats, no famine, no epidemics. This is because a lot of people back home

are praying for us. We were lucky in Africa, in Sicily, and in Italy simply because people prayed. But we have to pray for ourselves too. A good soldier is not made merely by making him think and work. There is something in every soldier that goes deeper than thinking or working—it’s his guts. It is something that he has built in there: it is a world of truth and power that is higher than himself. Great living is not all output of thought and work. A man has to have intake as well. I don’t know what you it, but I call it religion, prayer, or God.”

He talked briefly about Gideon and men he had known who felt they must always be in prayer or else they would crack up, then eventually, he went on: “I wish you would put out a training letter on this subject of prayer to all the chaplains. Write about nothing else, just the importance of prayer. Let me see it before you send it. We’ve got to get not only the chaplains but also every man in the Third Army to pray. We must ask God to stop these rains. These rains are that margin that holds defeat or victory. If we all pray, it will be like what Dr. Carrel said [Dr. Alexis Carrel had been quoted some days earlier in the press describing prayer “as one of the most powerful forms of energy man can generate”], it will be like plugging in on a current whose source is in heaven. I believe that prayer completes that circuit. It is power.”

In the days that followed, a quarter of a million prayer cards and 486 training letters on prayer were distributed to the soldiers and chaplains of the Third Army, sometime

between December 11 and 14. From December 16 to 19, the men fought bravely against an enemy almost invisible in the rains, and on the nineteenth, the Third Army turned north to meet the attack of the Panzer divisions. Even though continued rains and bad weather was forecast, the skies cleared on the twentieth, and the fog dispersed. For a better part of a week the skies remained bright and clear, creating perfect flying weather for planes by the thousands to pound the Germans to defeat as well as cut off the chances of the arrival of any reinforcements.

When the general saw the chaplain again in January of 1945, he said simply, “Well, Padre, our prayers worked. I knew they would.” Then he cracked him on the side of

his helmet with his riding crop to punctuate his gratitude for the chaplain’s help.

As believers, are we yet ready to stand as prayer generals with this same faith, planning, and work at the head of God’s army to marshal His troops to pray down His will for our world with just this same enthusiasm?

Are we as prepared and disciplined, but still relying on God to make the difference? Before we can hope to attain to such successes, we must first develop overcoming prayer lives of our own.

In order to have an overcoming prayer life, knowing that these conflicts and wars are waged against all humankind, not just us, helps give perspective. We face no challenge, “except such as is common to man” (1 Cor. 10:13). If we understand this, then we are better able to persevere in prayer, knowing that the turmoil we see is business as usual for Satan, and God has beaten him at it millions of times before. This knowledge helps us to contend with difficulties and gives us the faith we need to overcome them.

But while the victory is ever the Lord’s, it will not manifest on the earth if you as a believer do not fight for it. This is your time on the earth to see that God’s will is done during your watch. You, who have jurisdiction on the earth while you are here, must stand in the gap and tell Satan, “No, I will have none of your monkey business here.” Praying earnestly—and ultimately victoriously—in such matters is to strive in the spirit through mastery of the techniques and disciplines of prayer. In praying earnestly, there is a heavy exertion of energy consistently propelling you forward to obtain the object of your faith. The greater work Jesus said you would do will not first be done with hands reached out to others, but will first be done by hands folded in prayer and hands reached out to God.

You make a mistake if you underestimate the tenacity needed to win such battles. The fights are oft en so prolonged that you will be tempted to—and will—try anything else rather than persevere in prayer all the way to victory. The answer to the pain of drug addiction, marital infidelity, unemployment, homelessness, prostitution, or any of the number of other evils that need to be overcome in our world require dismantling of the old and establishing of the new. At the moment a prayer is uttered, angelic hosts move throughout the atmospheres on behalf of the prayer(s), rooting up and tearing down entrenched strongholds that have wreaked havoc on lives. Then God meticulously plants and nurtures, one by one, the answers to counteract those evils, until all is in alignment with His will. Just as it took a long time for the enemy to spawn his diabolical webs and trap people in them, it will take time as well to unravel and reposition people to receive the blessings of the Lord. Therefore, we must pray patiently, persistently, and passionately.

Staying steadfast in prayer over such matters until the answer arrives not only is the key to victory, but it also matures our faith in ways that no other practice can.

In order to take the fields of battle God has assigned us, we need steadily and patiently to be plugged into His command center in just this way. We need to be constantly tapped into the big conversation that is going on in the heavenlies, tuning into heaven’s frequency and listening in to what God is broadcasting concerning His will and His ways of bringing His goodness into manifestation on the earth.

I’m not just talking about miracles, either. Miracles are wonderful things, but you know what? Heaven doesn’t need miracles to make things right. The systems of heaven simply work the way they are supposed to.

God’s will on the earth could look as much like a school or a hospital as it could a healing revival. It could look like a church that doubles as a community center to help people find work when they need it or teach English to immigrants as easily as it could miraculously open prison doors in the middle of the night as it happened in

Bible days. Believe it or not, most of the social services offered by governments today—unemployment offices, health clinics, job training centers, schools, advocacy groups for safe working conditions and abolishing child labor, and so forth—started as outreaches of Christian ministries. Such ministries, holistic in essence, sought to reach out to help people spirit, soul, and body. We need a similar approach today. Our churches need to again be the powerhouses that connect and improve communities, not just somewhere to sing, clap your hands, and hear a “good word” or a Sunday morning book report.

But how are we going to return churches to that kind of relevance? Once again, we need to become masters of winning battles in the spiritual realm, so that God’s will is done in the natural realm around us as easily as it is done in heaven.

Prayer cannot be a passing fancy or fad. Power comes through constant prayer. When a group of American ministers visited Pastor Charles Spurgeon in the late

1800s, he offered them a tour of his church’s facilities. He took them through the massive sanctuary and around the various buildings of the compound and then asked if they would like to see the power source, the boiler room of the ministry. Thinking it dramatically unremarkable, the visitors tried to politely decline, but Spurgeon insisted. So he led them down a rather ordinary stairway down to the church’s basement, then down a hallway to a room with a closed door. When he opened it, instead of finding the plumbing and furnace they expected, they found a hundred or so people on their faces in prayer. “This,”

Spurgeon said with a smile, “is my boiler room.”

When Spurgeon was asked the secret to his success, he credited his success to his praying church members. What is the power center of our churches today? Those inexperienced or new to life in Christ oft en think that winning spiritual battles is as easy as asking. Thank God that in many instances this is true. We ask for things in prayer, and sometimes the answer comes immediately. But don’t let such easy successes fool you. Satan is not ignorant of God’s methods and the power of prayer! The last thing he wants is believers practiced in the long-term campaigns of prayer required to dismantle his empires of greed, hatred, pain, suffering, and deception. Because of this, he has no problem letting some little answers through every now and again. So, you come to Christ, you pray for your rent money in a service, and someone hands you a check before you leave. Praise God. Or you face an exam and need God’s wisdom to help you pass it. You are blessed and you get an A. Or you are on a short-term mission trip and you pray for a child’s foot to be turned around the right way from being crippled, and before your eyes the child goes from walking with a crutch to running and leaping and dancing. Praise God!

But what I want you to see here is that it is not always in Satan’s interest to block such prayers from coming to pass. If the devil did, you might just pray all the more determined. So what he would rather do is let you convince yourself that prayer should always be this easy, then you will never learn to persevere in it. You will pray for something a few times, but when the answer doesn’t manifest as others have before, you will begin to question things. You will wonder if your faith is just not strong enough, or if you have interpreted the Scripture correctly—or you become convinced it is just not God’s will. So your determination wavers. You begin to hedge your bets by praying artificially spiritual things like, “Your will be done,” so that if your prayer doesn’t get answered, you can always blame it on God’s will rather than anything that was within your control.

Satan knows that if he can let you convince yourself that everything that comes from God is always spectacular and easy, then you will begin to overlook the supernatural for gimmicks and tricks. You will be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Eph. 4:14). You will remain children who think everything that is good in life comes on your birthday or Christmas, and you never learn to work for anything. Satan doesn’t really care if you become a Christian and get blessed every once in a while—as long as he can keep you from truly understanding how to exercise your authority in Christ. Because of this, he doesn’t mind letting a casual prayer though here and there, as long is it keeps you convinced that prayer is like a vending machine where you put in your faith, push a button, and immediately your answer pops out. In fact, it probably gives him a laugh, because as you jump up and down, he is already envisioning your doubts and discouragement when he later hinders something bigger you will pray for; he knows you will give up just short of seeing it manifested.

You see, what Satan really doesn’t want is a persistent, methodical, importunistic believer who lives by prayer. He doesn’t want someone who is so disciplined and tenacious in prayer that once that person begins to pray, Satan knows, no matter how long he fights to delay the answer, he has no hope of winning. If we had more Christians who prayed like that, then there would be an inevitable, unstoppable, step-by-step, day-by-day dismantling of the kingdom of darkness that he could never withstand. The end of his kingdom of bondage, disease, deformities, and emotional torment would be written on the wall. So he is quite content to keep us thinking that all the big things are really in God’s hands alone, so we never need to worry about much more than our own needs and those of our immediate family.

Do you find that hard to believe? Well, look then at the story of Daniel. Nowhere else in the Bible do we see so many plots against one person to do one thing—simply stop this man from praying three times a day. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace for what? Because they would only bow their knees to God—something they did regularly with Daniel. Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den . . . why? Because

he threw open his windows and prayed unabashedly. And yet, we don’t see Moses-like miracles being done by Daniel. There were no plagues of deliverance upon the Babylonians as there had been on the Egyptians. No, instead we see a simple prophet of God who prayed with a regimen nothing could deter him from, and it brought about the deliverance of Israel from Babylon.

Look at the story in Daniel 9. Daniel is reading in the Book of Jeremiah one day in one of his devotional times, and he makes a discovery. According to Jeremiah, God said that the exile of Israel would only last seventy years. Daniel is an old man at this point, so he starts to count his birthdays. “Let’s see, I was taken into exile when I was a child of so many years, and now I am so old—why, that is more than seventy years!” There it was, a promise in

Scripture, and it hadn’t come true! So what does Daniel do? He begins to seek God through prayer and fasting to find out what was going on. He began confessing his sins and the sins of Israel and presenting his petition to heaven, inquiring as to why this promise of God had not yet been fulfilled. He gets a vision from the Lord about the future, but it is not the answer he is after, so he stays in prayer. He received other visions—incredible, mind-boggling things, but again they weren’t the answer to his question, so he kept praying. Then finally after three weeks, an angel appeared to Daniel saying:

Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come. . . . Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia;

The Art of War for Spiritual Battle and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come. But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth.

—Daniel 10:12–14, 20–21

The very moment Daniel started praying, God sent this messenger, but he immediately ran into demonic interference, and it took twenty-one days to fight through with the answer. Satan let other insights come through, hoping that Daniel would be so fascinated by them he would forget what he was really praying about, but when Daniel persisted, Satan’s forces were eventually defeated. Daniel received his answer, and within that same year, according to some scholars’ chronologies, King Cyrus decreed that the temple in Jerusalem should be rebuilt. (See Ezra 1:1–4.) It was the first step in Israel’s return to the Promised Land.

A similar thing happened with Rees Howells, an intercessor in Wales in the early twentieth century. He had spearheaded a very successful mission outreach to the local coal miners, of which he was one, but over several months his closest compatriot in the mission was considering leaving because he didn’t want to be second fiddle to

Rees. Rees took the matter to prayer, and God answered very matter-of-factly: Rees was to turn the leadership of the mission over to his friend, step down from the pulpit, and go behind the scenes to become an intercessor and pray that the mission would have greater success in the hands of his friend than it’d had in his own. Rees eventually reluctantly agreed, and the mission exploded in attendance in the coming months.

Following that, God gave Rees an even greater challenge that seemed even more obscure. He was to pray for the son of a benefactor who had gone off to war and fallen away from God. Rees agreed that he would pray that the young officer would not return to the front without returning to God. This would not be a prayer for a matter of hours, or even days, either. Rees’s shift in the coal mine was from 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., six days a week. He would then come home, eat dinner, and go to his room and spend from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on his knees before God reading his Bible and praying for the young man. He did this for six months. In that time the man’s son was discharged from the army and moved to Canada, never returning to the front, but also not yet returning to God. Eventually Rees received the conviction in his heart that his intercession had been answered, and he left this vigil to pray for other things, telling his benefactor the work was done in the spirit. It would be another twelve years, though, before the man’s salvation manifested and he turned his life back over to God. It happened just weeks before his father passed away. In all that time Rees never budged from the conviction that the man’s salvation was already accomplished in heaven as God had promised him in prayer.

Another example would be a little noticed part of the Christmas story, from the day just after New Year’s when Jesus was presented at the temple to be consecrated to the God.

And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was

just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. . . . Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. —Luke 2:25–26, 36–38

Both Simeon and Anna had been blessed by God to see Jesus before they died, but why? Why—and when, for that matter—would God tell them they would see the Messiah before they died? The only logical answer was that it was while they prayed, and, logically again, while they were praying for the Messiah to be born on the earth. How long had they been praying? According to this passage, Anna had been living in the temple praying day and night for eighty-four years. That doesn’t mean she never slept, but it does mean the primary occupation of her time was prayer. In writing this, Luke took the time to mention that her father’s name was Phanuel, a name remarkably like the Hebrew Penuel, the place where Jacob wrestled all night with God and received the name Israel, meaning “a prince of God” or “one who has authority with God.” (See Genesis 32:22–30.) It seems that God couldn’t even send His own Son to the earth without someone praying Him in.

I could tell other stories—and I will later on—but I hope this is enough so that you can see there is a way of prayer to accomplish things in the heavenlies that is beyond merely presenting our requests to God. It is a surer way, but it is also a more difficult way—certainly not for the faint of heart. However, the rewards are limitless. By spending consistent, purposeful, and fervent time in prayer, knowing God, discerning His voice, and walking in His ways become as intimate to us as knowing those who live with us in our own homes. It opens us to understanding the mysteries of God and allows God to reveal to us exact strategies for praying for specific people, growing our churches, changing our communities, and releasing God’s kingdom on the earth. It also lets God’s

wisdom rub off on us regarding how to conduct our businesses or work our jobs, how to invest and manage our money, and what we need to do to nurture our relationships and discipline ourselves to keep our bodies fit and strong.

Many people think that engaging in this level of spiritual warfare is something for only a select few, but there is no gift of prayer or office of intercessor mentioned in the Bible. What this means is that each of us has a part to play in manifesting God’s kingdom on the earth. Prayer is a call of duty, a practice and principle for every one belonging to Christ. After all, if He is our Lord, how can we honor His lordship if we don’t communicate with Him daily? Certainly we will each be led to pray in different ways and with different intensities, but prayer is as foundational a Christian discipline as reading the Scriptures or obeying the law of love. It is the place of apprenticeship for learning the voice of God and communicating with Him so that He can teach and empower us to live as His representatives on the earth. It is the key to our success and to winning battles in every arena of life. This is why we must become people who live in the way of prayer.

The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.

—Daniel 11:32

Here is my review of this terrific book on prayer and spiritual warfare:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Cindy Trimm and her publisher for sending me a copy of "The Art of War for Spiritual Battle" 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.

”The Art of War for Spiritual Battle” by Cindy Trimm is an incredible book that takes prayer to a brand new level – COMBAT! Regardless of the season of life that you’re in, this book will open your eyes to the absolute necessity for all Christians to be on their knees! Cindy Trimm draws battle concepts from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” and reveals Biblical support of those techniques designed to turn your prayer time into victorious spiritual skirmishes.

This book is a powerful tool that leads back to scripture and inspires the reader to not only spend more time in prayer, but also to spend their prayer time more effectively. When I need God desperately, I seek Him earnestly. But when things are going well, I can forget to spend the quality time with Him that I should. If you’re anything like me, and you’re not in a desperate season, I urge you to read this book and put its teaching into practice. If you’re like me and in a desperate season, I’m guessing you’re already on your way to pick it up. Either way, you will not be disappointed. This book will help to draw you nearer to God and the act of praying His will.