Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ten Million Reasons by Heather Gray

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:

Astraea Press (July 25, 2013)

***Special thanks to Opal Campbell for sending me a review copy.***


Aside from her long-standing love affair with coffee, Heather’s greatest joys in life are her relationship with her Savior, her family, and writing. Years ago, she decided it would be better to laugh than yell. Heather carries that theme over into her writing where she strives to create characters that experience both the highs and lows of life and, through it all, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.

Visit the author's website.


Money talks, and the way she spends hers tells him all he needs to know…
Richard needs to find a woman he can trust, and he needs to find her fast. He doesn’t have time to waste on getting to know people, which means dating and interviewing are out of the question. So how can he get past that initial mask of good behavior to learn what people are really like? Easy! Give them ten million dollars and watch to see what they do with it.
Genevieve is a free-lance journalist who talks to herself, constantly forgets to put appointments on her calendar and can’t go anywhere without being asked to take a survey. Why on earth is Richard interested in her? She doesn’t know it yet, but he has ten million reasons…

Product Details:
List Price: $1.99
Ebook: 123 pages
Publisher: Astraea Press (July 25, 2013)
Language: English


Chapter One

How do I always let myself get sucked into these things? Genevieve Mason sat at her own little private booth in a large room with at least a dozen other people. The clock on the wall ticked loudly, reminding her this was not where she was supposed to be. For some reason she’d never understood, Genevieve had difficulty saying no to surveyors. She invariably felt sorry for the ones who had to stand out in the walkway of the mall trying to entice complete strangers into their offices to take the silly things. While she didn’t generally mind completing a survey, she simply didn't have the time today. Yet, here I am. Taking a survey. When will I ever get a backbone about these things?

A tall, model-thin woman, with straight blonde hair and professionally done eyebrows, clapped her hands twice. “Alright ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming in today. I am going to explain what you need to do, and then I will answer any questions you have. The project should only take about an hour of your time, and you will each be compensated with a twenty-five dollar mall gift card. You can use your gift card at any retailer, including the food court.” The woman, who would doubtless look less severe if her eyebrows weren’t quite so brutally perfect, paused briefly before launching into what sounded like a well-rehearsed speech by a drill sergeant.

I wonder what she pays to get her eyebrows done. Surveying must be more lucrative than I thought.

“Today you will receive a windfall.” People gasped in surprise, but Genevieve wasn’t biting. She’d been through too many of these to get pulled in with a line like that. “You will be given a hypothetical amount of ten million dollars,” the woman continued, speaking over the disappointed sighs of some of Genevieve’s comrades-in-arms, “to spend any way you wish.”

Tapping her foot loudly, the woman who Genevieve had begun to think of as Model-Talker stared around the room until everyone was quiet. Then, continuing her speech, she said, “There is a computer screen in front of you with two columns. In the left column, you will give a description of how you are spending your money. On the right of the screen, you will enter the amount you wish to spend. You will see a tally at the bottom. The tally is keeping track of how much you have spent. When you get to ten million dollars, stop and raise your hand. I, or one of my assistants, will submit your entry and see that you receive your gift card.”

Arms raised all around the room as people began to have questions. Model-Talker held up her hand to halt people’s inquiries and added, “Let me give you a couple of guidelines first. Then I will answer your questions. Your survey will be assigned a coded number. When you are done, you will complete a form with your name and contact information in case we have questions at a later date. Your name will never appear on your survey. The information you enter will not be shared with any other companies and will only be reviewed by one other individual in addition to myself.”

Genevieve wondered how efficiently their survey data could be processed if only two people would see it. Reining her wandering thoughts in, she listened to the rest of Model-Talker’s speech. Talk faster! Some of us need to get somewhere.

“The items you wish to spend your money on have to be items you can purchase in a single day. You cannot spend any of your pretend money on buying a house, for example, because the paperwork and closing for a house take several days. While you can invest money in the stock market or a CD, you cannot open a trust fund because the legalities of opening a trust generally take more than a single day.” Three quarters of the hands in the room went down.

“Any questions?” Model-Talker’s chilly, businesslike voice and expression shamed the remaining people into putting their hands down.

For crying out loud, lady! It’s not as if you’re going to get the plague by answering a question. Genevieve stifled her laughter. She didn’t want to cause Model-Talker’s gaze to zero in on her.

“Alright, everyone. You have one hour to complete the exercise. Begin.”

Genevieve began typing away on her keyboard, entering totals, as she thought about all the ways she could spend the money. Ten million dollars... She wasn't ever likely to have that kind of money, but it was sort of fun to think about.

Within five minutes, a short woman, muscular and dressed like a construction worker, raised her hand to indicate she was done. Genevieve wouldn’t have noticed except that Model-Talker tsked as the woman left the room. Once some of the other people saw how quickly it could be done, they began finishing hastily, too.

They're probably dumping it all into a savings account or the stock market. Why wasn't I born with that kind of cavalier attitude?

She, however, wanted to give careful thought to her expenditures. In order for the results to have any value, she needed to answer honestly. Although, at the rate the other people are leaving, I'd say the data compiled from today will be good and skewed.

Despite her best efforts to ignore it, the repeated ker-thunk of the door opening and closing demanded her attention. They obviously haven't heard the honesty-in-testing lecture enough times. As she watched the next couple of people leave the room, something struck her.

They’re all women. There’s not a single man in this room. Maybe it’s a study into the female psyche. She was sure she’d heard Model-Talker say “ladies and gentlemen.”

Thinking about the lunch date waiting for her, Genevieve swiftly typed in her remaining entries and watched the tally at the bottom of the screen climb. When she got to nine million five hundred thousand dollars she sighed. Who’d have thought I’d have so much trouble spending money? What can I lavish half a million dollars on? Finally struck with inspiration, she entered her final imaginary expenditure and raised her hand. She completed the paperwork and left the room, casting one last pitying glance at the three remaining women who continued to studiously peck at their keyboards.


Genevieve sprinted the last twenty yards or so to the food court hoping her date hadn’t left. She clipped a stranger in the side with her shoulder, yelled an, “I’m sorry!” over her shoulder, and continued on her path. Zipping around the corner, she found herself confronted with an overcrowded food court, people spilling over everywhere she looked. How am I supposed to find him?

“Aunt Gen, over here!” Genevieve turned her head this way and that until she saw her nephew waving his hands wildly over his head in a far back corner of the food court.

Relief coursed through her. Thank goodness! She'd been worried he would think she’d stood him up. Poor guy had enough trouble in his life. He didn’t need another reason to be disappointed in those he loved.

“I’m late, aren’t I?” she asked, the sound of her words shaped by her winded voice.

Max laughed at her. “Aunt Gen, you’re always late.”

“Will you ever forgive me?”

“Buy me lunch, and I’ll think about it,” her fifteen-year-old nephew said with a twinkle in his golden brown eyes.

Sliding two twenties across the table to her nephew, Genevieve said, “You know what I like. Get whatever you want. You deserve it for braving the masses to order.” As her nephew jumped over the handrail behind their table and began maneuvering his way in and out of the different lines, Genevieve sat back and closed her eyes.

Thank you for keeping Max here until I arrived. It was a small but heartfelt prayer.

She opened her eyes, looked around at the crowd and caught a glimpse of herself in the large mirror along the back wall of the food court. Why do they insist on using mirrors to make it look like there's more seating – and more people – than there actually is? She didn't care to spy on other people while they ate and instead studied her own reflection. Genevieve scrutinized her large green eyes and fair complexion. She had curly hair that her family insisted on calling red even though she always wrote auburn whenever she had to enter the color on a form. It was shoulder-length but tended to stand out away from her head rather than lying down gracefully. I certainly don't need any of that shampoo advertised to add body! In a family of Irish-Italian descent, she was the only one that actually looked Irish. Everyone else had been born with the requisite bronzed skin and black hair of their Italian heritage.

She sought out Max in the mirror. He stood in line waiting for the slow progression of customers to move him forward so he could place his order. Max looked more like her father, his grandfather, with each passing year. He's too handsome for his own good. It won't be long before he realizes how much the girls notice him. Max spent much of his time seeking approval from his family; enough in fact, that he hadn't yet detected the way the fairer sex was always trying to get his attention. If he has seen it, he certainly hasn't let on about it.

Genevieve’s sister had divorced three years ago. Max had been twelve at the time, his sister Jenny fourteen. Jenny had fared better in the divorce. She saw her dad a couple times each month, and he doted on her, buying her all the pretty things she wanted. That was his way of making up for his absence, and she was okay with that. Sadly, Max had been much more wounded. He hadn’t wanted the latest toys and gadgets. Instead, he had wanted time, and his dad hadn't been willing — or perhaps able – to supply it. At an age when he was growing from boy to man, he'd essentially lost the one person who was supposed to be most qualified to help him understand what it meant to be a man.

Maureen, Genevieve’s sister, had done her best, but the divorce had forced her to change jobs in order to support her kids. Instead of working part-time and being home in the afternoons, she now worked fifty or more hours each week and hardly saw her kids at all. Genevieve had always been close to her nieces and nephews, but after the divorce, she went out of her way to try to spend time with Jenny and Max. She and Max did lunch at the mall every other week. She and Jenny got mani-pedis together. It seemed like the least she could do. It sure beats spending good money to get my eyebrows tortured when I can do that at home free of charge!

“You know, Aunt Gen, you’ve never once been on time to lunch.” Max was still laughing at her as he set the food down.

Snagging one of his egg rolls and putting it on her own plate, she said, “What makes you say such a mean thing to your dear old auntie?”

“You were worried I’d think you’d blown me off. I could see it on your face when you came round the corner.”

Genevieve shrugged. “Okay, so I was worried. Sue me.”

“You’ve never stood me up. Until you do, I’ll always believe you’re coming.”

Warmth moved through her middle, but it had an icy edge to it. Genevieve was both touched by Max’s words and saddened that he’d had enough experience with his parents in the past few years to know what it felt like to be stood up. His dad wasn’t the only one who hadn’t always been there for his son. There had been more than one sporting event in recent years where she'd been Max’s entire cheering squad. She always saved a seat for her sister, but the seat was rarely ever filled. Max deserved better, but as Maureen often pointed out to her, Genevieve didn’t know how hard it was to be a single mom working to support two teenagers.

Max and Genevieve ate lunch, swapped funny stories from their week, and discussed schedules for the upcoming month. He had decided to try out for the cross-country team.

“I don’t stand a chance, but I want to try.”

“Why? Running is so boring.”

“You run.”

“Yeah, but only because it’s slightly less monotonous than sitting at the computer when I have writer’s block.”

“The practices are long, and they’re in the afternoons when Mom’s usually working, so this will give me something to do. I get bored killing time at home so much. It’s dull there now that Jenny got a job and is gone all the time.”

“How does she like her job?” Genevieve asked, with interest.

“I don’t know about the job, but she sure does like the money,” Max answered, waggling his eyebrows comically.

Ah, to be a teenager with the simple worries of acne medication and a pretty dress. Then Genevieve corrected herself. And divorce. Don’t forget that simple worry.

“So why were you late today?” Max asked.

“You’d never believe me if I told you,” she answered.

“Try me.”

Rolling her eyes, Genevieve answered, “I got sucked into another survey.”

Max almost spit chow mein at her as he laughed. “You have got to be kidding me! Can you even walk through the mall without taking a survey?”

Trying not to laugh, Genevieve crumbled a napkin to throw at her nephew. “I got a gift card out of this one.” Then, slapping the palm of her hand against her forehead, she said, “I should have used it to pay for lunch! What was I thinking?”

“You can use it next time.”

“Do you honestly think I’m going to remember that?” Her voice was filled with dry humor.

“No worries,” he said. “I’ll remind you.”

“What would I do without you, Max?”

“You’d be lost without me, Aunt Gen, and you know it.”

The two cleared their table, and then Genevieve linked her arm through Max’s as they began weaving their way through the crowd to head toward the front of the mall. “You know, Max, I think you might be right. I would be lost. Who else would know to buy himself an extra eggroll just so I could snag it?”

When they got to her car, Genevieve entered Max’s cross-country tryout into her phone’s calendar and told him, “I can’t promise, but I’ll do my best to be there.”

“It’s okay if you can’t make it.” His voice was rock solid. “I know it’s in the middle of the day.” Max, whose every emotion generally came out in the way he spoke, only sounded this steady when he was trying to mask something.

He doesn't want me to know he's disappointed.

“No, it’s not that,” Genevieve said. “You know how bad I am with dates. I need to double-check my desk calendar at home and make sure I don’t have something written down there that I forgot to put in my phone.” Staring at the device in her hand as if the calendar in it would magically give her an answer, she finally shook her head and said to Max. “I’ll text you the morning of to let you know for sure one way or the other, okay?”

Max nodded and said again, “No worries,” as he climbed into her car.

It was a beautiful day in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They drove with their windows down and, since Max was in control of the radio, their music blaring.

Genevieve dropped him off at home. Jenny was still at work, so she didn’t pop in to say “hi”. Instead, she headed back to her own home to try and get some work done.

She was bumping up against deadlines for articles with three different magazines. That’ll teach me to stay up all night reading a book! Releasing a deep sigh, Genevieve admitted to herself that she’d been putting off the articles because they’d all sounded so boring. I have got to start getting pickier about the assignments I accept. What’s the point of freelancing if I can’t stand any of the work I do? I'm not sure this even counts as freelancing anymore.

Here's my review of this enjoyable book:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Heather Gray and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Ten Million Reasons" 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.
 “Ten Million Reasons” by Heather Gray is a fun romance.  Genevieve is a sister, an aunt and a compulsive survey-taker as well as a freelance journalist.  Richard needs to find a woman he can trust completely.  When their paths converge over a survey to determine how the taker would spend $10 million, an odd proposition becomes the focus of both of their lives.

This short novel can be read in one sitting.  It’s an enjoyable and entertaining story with likable characters.  The plot will get you thinking about how you might spend $10 million if you had it.  My only complaint about the book is that it ended abruptly.  Otherwise, I really enjoyed it and would recommend it as an entertaining read.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Revelation: Discovering Life for Today and Eternity – Week Eight

Laodicea:  The Church Who Nauseated Jesus

Reading this week’s chapter title actually brought tears to my eyes.  Another pretty name that deceives at first glance.  I think it’s sad that anyone would nauseate the Lord.  I certainly don’t want to be that person!  So I suppose I should pay really close attention to this chapter so I don’t behave as this church did.

I don’t want to be lukewarm.  I want to be on fire and passionate for Christ.  Am I reading His Word and not allowing it to change me?  Half-hearted devotion to Him has to be more insulting than no devotion at all.  Do I misrepresent Him by not being on fire for Him?  Am I one of those people you’d never guess was a Christian because my life doesn’t reflect it?  Ouch.

My goal through this lesson is to live in such a way that people KNOW I’m a Christian when they see me.  I wasn’t to be completely sold out for Christ!  I want to be more self-sacrificing than selfish.  I want to praise Jesus lavishly because I’ve undergone trials and been changed by God’s refining fire and my faith has been proved genuine.

Lord Jesus, please open my eyes and remove my blindness to the impurity that exists in me.  Make me aware of my behavior and convict me right away when I walk in a way that is not glorifying to You.  Make me thankful for Your discipline because it is proof of Your love for and investment in me.  Amen.

This week’s video teaching talks about a door that invites us into fellowship with the Trinity.  God wants to share life with us.  We were meant to live in relationship with Him and other believers.  This is the greatest invitation we will ever receive.

Memorize:  Revelation 2:7a, 11a, 17a, 29; 3:6, 13, 22

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bible Study: Jesus' Intoxicating Love For His Bride - Song of Solonon - Chapter 3

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the Song of Songs (also known as Song of Solomon), although they are a bit better formatted than former efforts. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, late spring 2010, things are looking increasingly bleak with the economy, health care and unemployment, there are allegations of racial profiling in Arizona and a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Seek His wisdom. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 3 of the Song of Solomon. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

3 – What aspect of relationship with Christ does this relate to? At this point, you cannot get enough of Him. Prayer and Bible study are not things you must do. They are things you want to do. You understand His commitment to you, and are incredibly more committed to Him.

3:1 – They weren’t sleeping together. Was she dreaming of him? She certainly desired him.

3:2 – When daytime came, she looked for him but didn’t find him.

3:3 – She saw his watchmen and asked where he was.

3:4 – When she passed the watchmen, she saw him and hugged him, and wouldn’t let go until he took her home. What an intense bond!

3:5 – See 2:7. This is another oath advising not to hurry love. As the wedding day draws nearer, it becomes more difficult to resist him. Not that he appears to be pressuring her.

3:6 – A procession is coming. It is Solomon coming to collect his bride. The wait is over.

Column of smoke – can be seen from far away.

Perfumed – smells good. Myrrh and incense both relate to smell. Myrrh was used to prepare a corpse for burial. Incense is equated with prayers in other places in scripture.

3:7 – respect. (Song of Solomon – Tommy Nelson)

carriage – A royal carriage.

60 noble warriors – well-protected, respected.

3:8 – protection. (Song of Solomon – Tommy Nelson)

All wear swords, battle experience, prepared – they will be well- protected.

Why do you think Christ and His bride would require protection? Well, Christ doesn’t require protection…

3:9 – strength. (Song of Solomon – Tommy Nelson)

Solomon made the carriage. What does this say about him? He is strong, handy, not afraid to work.

3:10 – priceless. (Song of Solomon – Tommy Nelson)

Solomon also works with silver and gold. What does this tell you? He is a multi-talented craftsman.

Purple upholstery – royal color.

Interior crafted lovingly by daughters of Jerusalem.

3:11 – Daughters of Zion – Same as the daughters of Jerusalem.

He is wearing his crown – 1 Samuel 61:10 – the groom adorns his head like a priest. Jesus is our Bridegroom and our High Priest.

His mother crowned him – she gave her blessing?

It is his wedding day. He is really happy.

• The Song of Solomon illustrates the love relationship between a man and woman which can mirror God’s intoxicating love for His bride (the church). How have you seen God’s love at work in this chapter of scripture? How can you apply it to your marriage? How will you apply it to your relationship with Jesus this week?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I, Saul by Jerry B. Jenkins

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:

Worthy Publishing (August 27, 2013)

***Special thanks to Leeanna Case for sending me a review copy.***


Jerry B. Jenkins is a New York Times best-selling novelist (Left Behind Series) and biographer (Billy Graham, Hank Aaron, Walter Payton, Orel Hershiser, Nolan Ryan, Joe Gibbs and many more), with over 70 million books sold. His writing has appeared in Time, Reader's Digest, Parade, Guideposts, and he has been featured on the cover of Newsweek.

Visit the author's website.


A MURDERER who would change the WORLD
From multi-million copy best-selling novelist Jerry Jenkins comes a compelling international thriller that conveys you from present-day Texas to a dank Roman dungeon in A.D. 67, then down the dusty roads of ancient Israel, Asia, and back to Rome.

A young seminary professor, Augustine Knox, is drawn into a deadly race to save priceless parchments from antiquities thieves and discovers a two- thousand-year old connection with another who faced death for the sake of the truth. I, Saul consists of two riveting adventures in one, transporting you between the stories of Augustine Knox and Saul of Tarsus.

Filled with political intrigue, romance, and rich historical detail, I, Saul is a thrilling tale of loyal friendships tested by life-or-death quests, set two millennia apart, told by a master storyteller.

Product Details:
List Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Worthy Publishing (August 27, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1617950068
ISBN-13: 978-1617950063


Tor n

T E x AS


“call now. desper8.”
The text appeared on Dr. Augie Knox’s phone at 8:55 a.m., seconds before he was to turn it off—protocol for profs entering a classroom at Arlington Theological Seminary.
Augie could have fired off a “give me a minute,” but the message was not signed and the sending number matched nothing in his contacts. The prefix 011-39-06 meant Rome. He’d traveled extensively in his thirty-eight years and enjoyed many visits to the Eternal City, but such a text could easily portend one of those I’ve-been-mugged-and-need- money scams. Whatever this was could wait until he got the Systematic Theology final exam started and could step into the hall with his phone.
Augie had long been fascinated by his students’ nervous chatter before

final exams. One announced, “I looked you up in Who’s Who, Doc, and I
know your full name.”
“Congratulations for discovering something you could have found in your student handbook four years ago.”
“No! That just says Dr. Augustine A. Knox! I found out what the A
stands for.”
“Good for you. Now, a few instructions . . .”
“Aquinas! Augustine Aquinas Knox! Man, what other career choice did you have?”
“Thank you for revealing the thorn in my flesh. If you must know, that moniker was my father’s idea.” Augie mimicked his dad’s monotone basso. “‘Names are important.They can determine a life’s course.’”
Many students chuckled, having sat under the elder Dr. Knox before he fell ill the year before.
“It also says you were adopted. Sorry, but it’s published.” “No secret,” Augie said.
Another hand shot up.“Was that a hint about the exam? Will we be speculating on Paul’s thorn in the flesh?”
“He’s only mentioned that mystery every class,” another said.
Augie held up a hand. “I trust you’re all prepared for any eventual-

“So, what’s your dad’s name?”
“Ed!” someone called out. “Everybody knows that.” “Look it up,” Augie said. “You may find it revealing.”
With blue books distributed, Augie slipped out and turned on his
phone.The plea from Rome had already dropped to third on his message list. At the top was a voice mail from Dr. Moore, who had been filling in as acting department chair since Augie’s father had been hospitalized with a stroke.

Augie would have checked that one first, but next was a voice mail from Sofia Trikoupis, his heart. It was eight hours later in Athens, after five in the afternoon. “Call me at the end of your day,” her message said. “I’ll wait up.” It would be midnight her time by then, but she apparently needed his undivided attention. That would bug him all day. How he longed for them to be together.
His phone vibrated. Rome again. “urgent. call now, pls!” Augie pressed his lips together, thumbing in, “who’s this?” “trust me. begging.”
“not w/out knowing who u r.”
Augie waited more than a minute for a response, then snorted. As I
figured. But as he headed back into the classroom, his phone buzzed again. “zionist.”
Augie stopped, heat rising in his neck. He quickly tapped in, “90 minutes OK?”
“now! critical.”
Few people had been more important in Augie’s life than Roger Michaels, the diminutive fifty-year-old South African with a James Earl Jones voice and a gray beard that seemed to double the size of his pale, gnomish face. Augie would never lead a tour of an ancient city without Roger as the guide.
“2 mins,” Augie texted.
He rushed to his father’s old office, which still bore the senior Dr. Knox’s nameplate on the door. Augie knocked and pushed it open.“Les, I need a favor.”
Dr. Moore took his time looking up from his work. “Number one, Dr. Knox, I did not invite you in.”
“Sorry, but—”
“Number two, I have asked that you refer to me as Dr. Moore.”

“My bad again, but listen—”
“And number three,” the acting chair said, making a show of study- ing his watch, “we both know that at this very moment you are to be conducting—”
“Dr. Moore, I have an emergency call to make and I need you to stand in for me for a few minutes.”
Moore sighed and rose, reaching for his suit coat.“I know what that’s about.Take all the time you need.”
Augie followed him down the hall. “You do?” “You didn’t get my message?”
“Oh, no, sorry. I saw one was there, but I—”
“But you assumed other messages were more important. I said we needed to chat after your first exam.”
“Well, sure, I’ll be here.”
“Part of what we need to discuss is your father. Is that what your call is about?”
“What about my father?” “We’ll talk at ten.”
“But is he—”
“There have been developments, Dr. Knox. But he is still with us.” As Dr. Moore headed for the classroom, Augie ducked into a stair-
well, away from the windows and the relentless sun forecasters were saying would push the temperature at least twenty degrees above normal by 2:00 p.m., threatening the 107° record for the month.
Augie wasn’t getting enough signal strength to complete his call, so he hurried back out to the corridor. Cell coverage was still weak, so he stepped outside. It had to be near 90° already. Scalp burning, he listened as the number rang and rang.
Augie moved back inside for a minute, braced by the air condition-

ing, then ventured out to try again. He waited two minutes, tried once more, and felt he had to get back to class.
On a third attempt, as he neared the entrance, it was clear someone had picked up a receiver and hung up. Augie dialed twice more as he walked back to take over for Dr. Moore. Just before he reached the class- room, his phone came alive again with a text.
“sorry. later. trash ur phone. serious.”
Augie couldn’t make it compute. Had his phone been traced? Tapped? If he got a new one, how would Roger know how to reach him?
Dr. Moore stood just inside the classroom door and emerged imme- diately when he saw Augie. “Talk to your mother?” he said.
“No, should I?”
Moore sighed and opened his palms. “You interrupt my work and don’t check on your father?”
Augie reached for his cell again, but hesitated. If he used it, would he be exposing his mother’s phone too?
“Call her after we’ve talked, Dr. Knox. Now I really must get back to my own responsibilities.”
It was all Augie could do to sit still till the end of class. Before get- ting back to Dr. Moore, he dropped off the stack of blue books in his own office and used the landline to call his contact at Dallas Theolog- ical Seminary, just up the road. Arlington Sem sat equidistant between DTS to the east and the massive Southwestern Baptist Seminary to the west. Arlington was like the stepchild no one ever talked about, a single building for a couple of hundred students, struggling to stay alive in the shadows of those two renowned institutions.When Augie needed some- thing fast, he was more likely to get it from the competition. Such as a new phone.
Like his father before him, Augie was the travel department at

Arlington. No auxiliary staff handled logistics as they did at DTS and Southwestern. The head techie at Dallas was Biff Dyer, a string bean of a man a few years older than Augie with an Adam’s apple that could apply for statehood. He could always be counted on to program Augie’s phone, depending on what country he was traveling to.
“Calling from your office phone, I see,” Biff said. “What happened to the cell I got you?”
“It’s been compromised.”
Biff chuckled. “Like you’d know.What makes you think so?” “I need a new one.Trust me.”
“I’ll just switch out the chip.You’re not gonna find a better phone. How soon you need it?”
“Fast as possible.”
“Why doesn’t that surprise me? I’m not deliverin’ it. Can you come by during normal hours?”
There was a knock at Augie’s door and he wrenched around to see
Les Moore’s scowl. “Gotta go, Biff.”
“Sorry, Les. On my way right now. Or do you want to just meet here?” “Here would not be any more appropriate than your insisting on our being on a first-name basis,” Dr. Moore said, scanning the tiny chamber in which the guest chair was folded in a corner and brought out only
when necessary.
“C’mon, Les. You were only a couple years ahead of me. We hung out, didn’t we?”
“Hardly. You spent most of your free time in the gym with the—
what?—six other jocks who happened to enroll here.”
It was true. And everyone knew the library had been where to find
Les Moore.
Augie looked at his watch. Another final at 11. He followed his interim

boss back to his father’s old office. It wasn’t that much bigger than his, but at least the guest chair didn’t block the door.
“Would you start with my dad?” Augie said as he sat.
“I would have thought you’d have already checked in with your mother, but all right. She called this morning, knowing you were in class. Your father has slipped into a coma.”
Augie nodded slowly. “She okay?”
“Your mother? Sure. It’s not like he’s passed. She just thought you might want to visit this afternoon.”
“Appreciate it.”
“Now then, Dr. Knox, I have some paperwork here that I’m going to need you to sign. Frankly, it’s not pleasant, but we’re all expected to be team players and I’m going to assume you’ll accede to the adminis- tration’s wishes.”
“What’s up?”
“You’re scheduled to teach summer-school Homiletics beginning four days after commencement.”
“A week from today, right.”
“And we have contracted with you for this stipend, correct?”
Why Les felt it necessary to pencil the figure on the back of a business card and dramatically slide it across the desk, Augie could not fathom.
“Yep, that’s the fortune that’s going to let me retire by forty.”
“Um-hm. Humorous. It is my sad duty to ask you to agree to under- take the class for two-thirds that amount.”
“You’re serious.” “Always.”
That was for sure.
“Les—Dr. Moore, you know we do these classes pretty much as gifts to the sem. Now they seriously want us to do them for less?”

“This is entirely up to you.” “I can refuse?”
“We’re not going to force you to teach a class when we have to renege on our agreement.”
“Good, because I just don’t think I can do it for that.”
“I’ll report your decision. We’ll be forced to prevail upon a local adjunct instruct—”
“Like that youth pastor at Arlington Bible—” “He’s a graduate, Dr. Knox.”
“I know! I taught him. And he’s a great kid, but he didn’t do all that well in Homiletics, and there’s a reason they let him preach only a couple of times a year over there.”
“He’ll be happy to do it for this figure—probably even for less.” “And the students be hanged.”
Les cocked his head. “Naturally, we would prefer you . . .”
Augie reached for his pen and signaled with his fingers for the doc- ument.
“I’m glad I can count on you, Dr. Knox. Now, while we’re on the subject, I’m afraid there’s more.You were due for a four percent increase beginning with the fall trimester.”
“Let me guess, that’s not going to happen either.” “It’s worse.”
“What, now it’s a four percent decrease?” “I wish.”
“Oh, no.”
“Dr. Knox, we have seen an alarming downturn in admissions, and the administration is predicting a fall enrollment that puts us at less than breakeven, even with massive budget cuts.We’re all being asked to accept twenty percent reductions in pay.”

Augie slumped. “I was hoping to get married this fall, Les. I can barely afford the payments on my little house as it is.”
“This is across the board, Dr. Knox. The president, the deans, the chairs, all of us. Some departments are actually losing personnel. Mainte- nance will be cut in half, and we’ll all be expected to help out.”
Arlington had been staggering along on a shoestring for decades, but this was dire. “Tell me the truth, Dr. Moore. Is this the beginning of the end? Should I entertain the offers I’ve gotten from Dallas over the years?” “Oh, no! The trustees wish us to weather this storm, redouble our efforts to market our distinctives, and then more than make up for the pay cuts as soon as we’re able. Besides, the way your father bad-mouthed Dallas and Southwestern his whole career, you wouldn’t dream of insult-
ing him by going to either, would you?”
“He bad-mouthed everything and everybody, Les.You know that.” “Not a pleasant man. No offense.”
Augie shrugged. “You worked for him. I lived with him.”
“Do you know, I have heard not one word from your father since the day I was asked to temporarily assume his role? No counsel, no guidelines, no encouragement, nothing. I assumed he was angry that you had not been appointed—”
That made Augie laugh.“He still sees me as a high school kid! Forget all my degrees. Anyway, I wouldn’t want his job, or yours. It’s not me.”
“How well I know. I mean, I’m just saying, you’re not the typical prof, let alone department chair.”
“I’m not arguing.”
Augie couldn’t win. Despite having been at the top of his classes in college and seminary, his having been a high school jock and continu- ing to shoot hoops, play touch football, and follow pro sports made him an outsider among real academics.Too many times he had been asked if

he was merely a seminary prof because that was what his father wanted for him.
Dr. Moore slid the new employment agreement across the desk. “Sorry, Les, but this one I’m going to have to think and pray about.” The interim chair seemed to freeze. “Don’t take too long. If they
aren’t sure they can count on you for the fall, they’ll want to consider the many out-of-work professors who would be thrilled, in the current econ- omy, to accept.”
“Yeah, that would help. Stock the faculty with young assistant pas- tors.”
“May I hear from you by the end of the day?”
“Probably not, but you’ll be the first to know what I decide.”
Back in his own office, Augie popped the chip out of his cell phone and put it in a separate pocket. He called his mother from his desk phone to assure her he would see her at the hospital late in the afternoon, then called Biff to tell him he would try to stop by DTS on his way.
“What’s the big emergency?” Biff said.
“Roger Michaels has himself in some kind of trouble.” “Tell me when you get here.”
During his 11:00 a.m. final Augie was summoned to the administra- tive offices for an emergency call. On the way he stopped by to see if Les would stand in for him again, but his office was dark.The final would just have to be unsupervised for a few minutes.
“Do you know who’s calling?” he said to the girl who had fetched him. If it was his mother . . .
“Someone from Greece.”
He finally reached the phone and discovered it was Sofia. “Thought you wanted me to call later, babe.You all right?”
“Roger is frantic to reach you.”

“I know. He—”
“He gave me a new number and needs you to call right now, but not from your cell.” She read it to him.
“Any idea what’s going on, Sof ?” Augie said as he scribbled. “This is not like him.”
“No idea, but, Augie, he sounded petrified.” “That doesn’t sound like him either.”
“You can tell me what it’s about later, but you’d better call him right away.”
Augie rushed to his office and dialed the number in Rome. It rang six times before Roger picked up. “Augie?”
“Yes! What’s—”
“Listen carefully. I’ve got just seconds. I need you in Rome as soon as you can get here.”
“Rog, what’s happening? This is the absolute worst time for me to—” “Give Sofia your new cell number and text me your ETA. I’ll give
you a new number where you can call me from Fiumicino as soon as you get in.”
“I don’t know when I could get there, Rog. I’ve got—” “Augie! You know I wouldn’t ask if it weren’t life or death.”

Here is my review of this enjoyable book:

Thank you, Jerry Jenkins, for sending me a copy of "I, Saul" to review on my blog.

“I, Saul” by Jerry B. Jenkins is a present-day/back-in-time thriller! This beautifully written novel transports the reader from a present-day storyline in Texas to an imprisoned Paul in the latter half of the first century A.D. This engaging read entertains as it chronicles the turbulent life of one of the pillars of the Christian faith.

Augustine Knox is a seminary professor trying to save ancient documents from thieves. In the process, Knox discovers a connection with Saul, the persecutor of the Christian movement who became the legendary missionary apostle, Paul.

This tale is woven together well, transitioning from past to present fluidly and engaging the reader with lots of action, suspense, history and faith.

Revelation: Discovering Life for Today and Eternity – Week Seven

Philadelphia:  The Secure Church on Shaky Ground

This was an amazingly encouraging letter.  Wasn’t it?  Isn’t it wonderful to know that Jesus opens doors that no one can shut and closes doors that no one can open?  What does this mean to you?  Apparently, this meant a great deal to the church of Philadelphia.  It is believed that these Jews were shut out of the synagogue and excommunicated.  Being shut out hurts.  Exclusion makes us feel as if we’re not valuable.  It makes us feel disposable.  Jesus’ words bring assurance that we are valuable to Him.

I was greatly encouraged by the reading of 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10.  Believers were created to be part of God’s family, not the objects of His wrath.  This is wonderful news.  Isn’t it?

I am thrilled that the overcomer will be made into a pillar in the temple in eternity.  He will never leave the temple.  Jesus will write God’s name and the name of the New Jerusalem and His own new name on them.  Wow!  What intimacy…and it gets better.  When you read Revelation 21:22, you discover that God and Christ ARE THE TEMPLE!  Ooh, I’ve got chills thinking about this.

This week’s video teaching was anti-climactic for me.  I don’t know why I expected serious teaching on the end times with only 2:38 minutes of video.  But I’m sure there are those who needed to hear that God is capable of creating a new home for His people.

The church of Philadelphia stood on shaky ground.  Regardless of what is shaky in our own lives, our security and stability is in Christ.  Hallelujah!

Memorize:  1 John 5:13

Friday, October 18, 2013

Bible Study: Jesus' Intoxicating Love For His Bride - Song of Solonon - Chapter 2

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the Song of Songs (also known as Song of Solomon), although they are a bit better formatted than former efforts. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, late spring 2010, things are looking increasingly bleak with the economy, health care and unemployment, there are allegations of racial profiling in Arizona and a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Seek His wisdom. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…


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

2 – the courtship phase. (Song of Solomon – Tommy Nelson)

What aspect of relationship with Christ does this relate to? You are beginning to blossom with knowledge of Him. The relationship is deepening. He is more than just your Savior at this point. You are becoming more beautiful because you realize how He loves you. You are beginning to see His strength and brilliance.

Notice that when one person in this relationship is weak, the other is strong. Is that how your relationship is? It’s always this way with Jesus! Stick with Him!

2:1 – The woman is a rose of Sharon? A lily of the valleys? She is a small flowering shrub? She is a blossoming flower.

2:2 – Solomon says that she is a beautiful flower where other women are thorns. WOW! This man is charming.

2:3 – The beloved says Solomon is like an apple tree and other men are like the trees of the forest (probably evergreens?). He is fruitful and colorful, different from the others, and she notices him.

She likes to sit in his shade. For protection? We are protected when we sit in the shadow of the Almighty. See Psalm 91:1.

His fruit is sweet to her taste. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Yes, it’s very sweet. What are your thoughts about this fruit?

2:4 – Why do you think he has taken her to the banquet hall? Is the time for the wedding ceremony at hand?

He has flagged her as belonging to him by placing his banner over her. A banner is a battle flag placed over an army identifying its affiliation with a nation/leader. The flag that the lover flies over the beloved is love.

2:5 – How do raisins strengthen you? David passed out cakes of raisins to his people in celebration over the ark of the covenant. See 2 Samuel 6:17-19.

Apples are refreshing.

Faint with love – so in love you’re dizzy!

2:6 – fondling. (Song of Solomon – Tommy Nelson)

2:7 – I charge you by the gazelles and does – an oath using nature as its witness.

The woman advises: don’t hurry love. Don’t rush or force it. Take your time. It’s worth the wait and investment of time.

2:8 – She hears him, first. Then she sees him approaching with excitement. He is coming to collect his bride.

Do you still get that little flutter in your stomach when your spouse approaches? What about when you spend time with Jesus?

2:9 – She says he is like a gazelle or young stag. Is this an illustration of his beauty, grace and strength? Maybe a hint of wildness and power behind a soft appearance?

He stands behind the wall…gazing…peering – Is he watching her longingly?

2:10 – He wants her to come to him.

2:11 – Winter has passed – their time apart is over?

2:12 – Spring – the time of love has arrived. Flowers? Singing? Cooing? These are signs of spring – the season of new beginnings, life and love.

2:13 – Fig tree – blossoming vines spread fragrance.

He asks her again to come to him.

2:15 – foxes – premarital sex and other things that can destroy marriage. (Song of Solomon – Tommy Nelson)

2:16 – They belong together.

He browses among the lilies – what does this mean? A metaphor for how Solomon enjoys her. He takes his time and savors.

2:17 – Is the beloved telling the lover to flee from her while it is dark so they will not sin by succumbing to their passionate feelings? This is very wise. Don’t allow yourself to be in a tempting situation.

• The Song of Solomon illustrates the love relationship between a man and woman which can mirror God’s intoxicating love for His bride (the church). How have you seen God’s love at work in this chapter of scripture? How can you apply it to your marriage? How will you apply it to your relationship with Jesus this week?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Revelation: Discovering Life for Today and Eternity – Week Six

Sardis:  The Church Who Looked Good on the Outside

Is it just me?  Or does this week’s chapter title remind you of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day?  After reading this study session, I realize that this is the exact picture Sue Edwards was trying to paint.

Sue begins this week’s study with the video teaching about faith, hope and love.  She teaches that the greatest of these is love because God is love and love remains in eternity whereas faith and hope aren’t necessary in eternity.

Love on the inside keeps us from being like the Pharisees.  But let this be a reminder that the one who is beautiful on the outside isn’t necessarily beautiful on the inside – and vice versa.  In other words, don’t judge a book by its cover.  Look at the fruit, not the tree.  Don’t sit with deceitful men.  Don’t consort with hypocrites.  Hypocritical liars will lead the church astray.  Avoid people who aren’t who they seem to be because they’re only acting Christian to be seen by others.

One day, all that was done in the dark will be seen in the light.  For the hypocrites, those acts will be the planning and conniving, the plotting and deception.  For the genuine believer, those acts would be the giving and the praying and the fasting and the acts we’ve done without seeking recognition.

Jesus will come like a thief in the night.  We must be ready.  Don’t put off for one more day what the Lord is calling you to do.  Whether He’s calling you to accept His Son, Jesus, as Savior or He’s calling you to a task or ministry, it is always safer to be within His will.  The alternative could lead to being shamefully exposed.

Memorize:  1 John 5:11-12

Friday, October 11, 2013

Under a Blackberry Moon by Serena B Miller

First, I would like to thank Serena B. Miller and her publisher for providing me with a copy of "Under a Blackberry Moon" to review for them.  I appreciate the time and expense required to provide me with a reviewer copy of the book.

Moon Song and her nfant son, Ayasha, are returning to her Chippewa tribe.  With her friend Sky Pilot as a companion and protector, they embark on the treacherous journey that includes an ill-fated trip on Lake Superior.  Although this adventure leads to the discovery of true love, the real question is whether Moon Song or Sky Pilot will have to give up the life they love for the love they've only dreamed of or if they will allow true love to simply fade away.

I enjoy Serena B. Miller's writing, but "Under a Blackberry Moon" is not my favorite of Serena's novels.  The story is a good one - it kept me reading.  But the execution of the story left me flat at times.  Parts of the novel that should have had my pulse racing in fear struck me as not passionate enough.  The love story was a good one, but I don't know that I would have fought to keep these two together.  I suppose what I'm trying to say is that I wasn't deeply enough invested in the characters or their outcome.  I think part of the problem was that I had higher expectation of the early part of the story based on reading the synopsis on the back cover.

This does not mean that the book was unenjoyable.  "Under a Blackberry Moon" was a lively adventure with several surprises and twists that kept me turning the pages in spite of the issues I had with the book.  I would definitely recommend this book to my friends.

Bible Study: Jesus' Intoxicating Love For His Bride - Song of Solonon - Chapter 1

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the Song of Songs (also known as Song of Solomon), although they are a bit better formatted than former efforts. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, late spring 2010, things are looking increasingly bleak with the economy, health care and unemployment, there are allegations of racial profiling in Arizona and a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Seek His wisdom. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 1 of the Song of Solomon. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

The author is King Solomon. Considering the number of wives and concubines he had, does this add or detract from his credibility in this area? Since God’s Word is inspired, I believe this is a beautiful picture of God’s love for us AND a model of how marriage should be.

Three “parts” are spoken in this “play” – the beloved is the woman loved by King Solomon; the lover is the King; the friends are the maidens who are witness to this romance. When you put these characters into a spiritual perspective, the beloved is the bride of Christ (a.k.a. the church), the lover is the King of Kings, and the friends would be those who are happy to witness this relationship – teachers, prophets, etc.

Shulammite woman = “Hee Haw Honey” (beautiful, but backward). (Song of Solomon – Tommy Nelson) Shulammite is a nickname, a feminine form of Solomon’s name

1 – the dating phase. (Song of Solomon – Tommy Nelson)

What aspect of relationship with Christ does this relate to? When you begin to seek Him? If the kiss introduced in verse 2 is any indication, you are already in relationship with Him at this point. Perhaps this is when you first accepted Him as Savior and are filled with His Spirit.

1:1 – Beloved – dowd – my one beloved. (Song of Solomon – Tommy Nelson)

1:2 – A kiss is intimate…a sharing of breath, which is life. God did this when He breathed life into Adam in the book of Genesis. He did it again when He sent the Holy Spirit to inhabit His people.

good looks. (Song of Solomon – Tommy Nelson)

The beloved says the lover’s love is intoxicating and delicious. Can you describe God’s love for you like this? Why or why not?

1:3 – How is a name like perfume poured out? Such a scent is far-reaching. An this one is apparently pleasant. His reputation must be well known. What would his reputation have to be to explain that the maidens loved him? Notice how the beloved says this as fact without jealousy. Are you this confident in your significant other’s love for you? Are you this confident in God’s love for you?

How do you guard Christ’s reputation? What about your reputation and that of your spouse?

1:4 – Beloved – dowd – my one beloved. (Song of Solomon – Tommy Nelson)

Why would the king bring this woman to his chambers during the dating phase? These are intimate “get to know you” moments, not moments of physical intimacy.

1:5 – She was dark because of her time in the sun tending to Solomon’s vineyard. See 1:6 and 8:11. But she still considers herself to be pretty.

What are the tents of Kedar like? Kedar was the home of nomadic tribes that was known for being a good place for flocks.

The tent curtains of Solomon were made of black goat hair.

Daughters of Jerusalem – the maidens, thought to be the friends that speak in this poem.

1:6 – Her brothers were angry with her, so she worked in the vineyards and neglected to care for her own appearance.

see Song of Songs 8:11. (Song of Solomon – Tommy Nelson)

vineyards – This woman worked in Solomon’s vineyards.

1:7 – Why would she want to know where he grazes his flock and rests his sheep? She wanted to see him.

Why should I be like a veiled woman (prostitute) beside the flocks of your friends – she’s saying, “there are things I won’t do to be with you.” (Song of Solomon – Tommy Nelson)

1:8 – The friends tell this woman to follow the sheep tracks and she will find him.

1:9 – Solomon compares his lady love to a horse leading Pharaoh’s chariot! What a regal, perfect specimen of an animal this must be! This is a great compliment! But how many women would consider it an insult to be compared to a horse?!?! As king, Solomon would have great appreciation of horses – especially a horse that was regal enough to pull the chariot of the ruler of Egypt!

We need to understand the language of our men, ladies. Talk to them about what they appreciate. It will lead to better communication and fewer misunderstandings.

darling – rayah – the woman of my dreams. (Song of Solomon – Tommy Nelson)

1:10 – This woman is adorned with earrings and jeweled necklaces.

1:11 – Solomon is going to make earrings for her.

1:12 – Why would her fragrance spread while he was at his table? Was she watching him? Check out the next verse.

1:13 – A sachet of myrrh resting between her breasts would be warmed by the heat of the flesh surrounding it, making the fragrance permeate.

What is the significance of henna blossoms from the vineyards of En Gedi? Henna blossoms are aromatic. En Gedi was a desert oasis where David hid from Saul. See 1 Samuel 24:1.

So it appears she was watching him at his table.

1:15 – Solomon calls her beautiful.

Your eyes are doves – what sort of compliment is this?

darling – rayah – the woman of my dreams. (Song of Solomon – Tommy Nelson)

1:16 – She calls Solomon handsome and charming. She says their bed is verdant, which means inexperienced. Good. Stay away from premarital sex!

1:17 – Solomon talks about the construction of their home. Strong woods that smell good. He has apparently built her a home while they were dating. I suppose this is a declaration of his honorable intentions.

Jesus told the disciples that He was going away to prepare a place for them (and us).

• The Song of Solomon illustrates the love relationship between a man and woman which can mirror God’s intoxicating love for His bride (the church). How have you seen God’s love at work in this chapter of scripture? How can you apply it to your marriage? How will you apply it to your relationship with Jesus this week?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Gunpowder Tea by Margaret Brownley

Margaret Brownley's newest, Gunpowder Tea
(Thomas Nelson, 2013), will have you on the edge of your seat and biting your nails until the conclusion!
In a case that could change her career, Miranda uncovers a love that will change her life.
Praise for Gunpowder Tea
"In the exquisitely intriguing finale to her Brides of Last Chance Ranch trilogy, Brownley blends faith and romance with a dash of mystery to serve up a cozy, fulfilling story set in the Arizona Territory of the 1890s . . . This enchanting account of the hardships and wonders of the Old West features many delightful characters. The story stands on its own merits, independent of the first two in the series, drawing readers into a world that is difficult to leave."
-Publishers Weekly

More about Gunpowder Tea
When Miranda Hunt sees the classified ad for an heiress to the legendary Last Chance Ranch, she knows assuming the identity of Annie Beckman is the perfect cover. As one of the finest agents for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, Miranda has been tasked with apprehending the Phantom---an elusive and notorious train robber thought to be hiding on the sprawling ranch.

But she isn't the only one at the ranch with something to hide. Wells Fargo detective Jeremy Taggart is working undercover as well. Their true identities may be a secret, but it is impossible for Jeremy and Miranda to hide the sparks flaring between them.

Neither is about to let romance interfere with such a huge case. Besides, Miranda hasn't removed Jeremy from her list of suspects yet. The closer they get to uncovering the identity of the Phantom, the more dangerous he gets---and no one on the ranch is safe.

The longer Miranda and Jeremy spend working together, the harder it becomes to keep their feelings in check. Their careers---and their lives---depend on solving this case. Love will just have to wait.

Here is my review of this enjoyable novel:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Margaret Brownley and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Gunpowder Tea" 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.

"Gunpowder Tea" by Margaret Brownley is a fun and suspenseful journey with a female Pinkerton!  Miranda Hunt aka Annie Beckman is on her latest assignment as a Pinkerton:  to impersonate an applicant to be the heiress of a rancher who apparently has members of a thieving gang working for her.  In fact, the Phantom – Miranda’s target and the gang’s mastermind – is suspected to be working on the property.
When Annie recognizes one of the men involved in a train robbery as one of the cowpunchers at the Last Chance Ranch, her suspicions and sleuthing instincts kick into high gear.  What Annie doesn’t know is that this handsome cowboy is Wells Fargo Detective Jeremy Taggert.  But Jeremy is using the alias “Branch” for his assignment at the Last Chance Ranch to catch a bank robber.  Jeremy is keeping a close eye on Annie as well.  But is it because of attraction or distrust?

This is a wonderful book that you will not want to put down.  The characters are full of life and strength and mystery.  The storyline is an engaging whodunit.  There is a solid spiritual thread woven throughout this enjoyable novel, making it a wholesome bit of entertainment.

Battlefield of the Heart by E.A. West

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:

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Opal Campbell for sending me a review copy.***


Award-winning author of sweet and inspirational romance E.A. West is a lifelong lover of books and storytelling. In high school, she picked up her pen in a creative writing class and hasn't laid it down yet. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, knitting, and crocheting. She lives in Indiana with her family and a small zoo of pets.

Visit the author's website.


What started out as a bit of research for a sociology paper quickly turns into much more than Cindy ever expected. But can she survive Danny’s PTSD long enough to form a relationship with him?

Cindy Waymire, a college senior in search for a topic for an upcoming sociology paper, finds more than a topic when she meets Army veteran and college freshman Danny Flynn outside the student union. An undeniable attraction to this troubled veteran leads her on a difficult and winding path that brings her to a crossroads — get into a relationship with a man who has serious mental health problems or turn her back on one of the best men she’s ever met.

Can Cindy set her fears aside and follow her heart, or will the ghosts haunting Danny’s mind end their relationship before it begins?

Product Details:
List Price: $10.99
Paperback: 274 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1492387207
ISBN-13: 978-1492387206


The late August heat wrapped around Cindy Waymire like a thick blanket as she walked toward Whitcomb University’s student union. As much as she loved New Castle, days like this made her wish she lived in Yellow Knife. The guy standing on the sidewalk just ahead, however, made her thankful she was in Indiana.

A dark-haired guy with an athletic build, not more than an inch or two taller than her height of five foot nine, stood scanning the area as though he was lost. Clean-shaven, with just a hint of a five o’clock shadow along his jaw, he wore a T-shirt and jeans, both fitting just tight enough to hint at lean muscles. Cindy considered taking a candid photo and sending it to her girlfriends, but her cell phone was in her purse and digging it out would be too obvious. Maybe she could find another way to share this cutie with them.

His actions reminded her of her own during her first semester there. She’d had to ask someone where to find buildings so many times. Without those sympathetic upperclassmen, she would have been perpetually lost.

If he was a new student, that made her the sympathetic upperclassman. She stopped near him and smiled. “Hi, can I help you find someplace?”

He didn’t seem to hear her. She moved closer, thinking he might not realize she was talking to him. “Excuse me.”

He twisted and grabbed her wrist with startling speed. She screamed as he spun her around, bringing her arm behind her and forcing her to the ground as he said something unintelligible, but undeniably commanding. As he put a knee on her back and pulled her other arm, she heard people running toward them and prayed they could help. The guy was strong and no amount of struggling did any good. He just tightened his grasp on her wrists and applied more pressure with his knee, making it difficult for her to draw in a breath.

“Danny, let her up!” a male voice said as the running steps stopped beside them.

“He’s a threat.”

He? Before Cindy could figure out what the guy was talking about, she felt some of his weight lift from her back.

“She’s a noncombatant, Sarge,” a third male voice said.

The grip on her wrists loosened. “What?”

“You’re in the States, man.”

“Crap!” He released her wrists, and his weight lifted from her completely.

She scrambled to her feet, grateful she could breathe easily again. Turning around, she found two guys flanking the one who had attacked her.

“Are you okay?” the one on the left asked, his brow furrowed.

She drew in a shaky breath and tried to calm her racing pulse. “Um, yeah, I think so. Thank you for rescuing me.”

The guy in the middle looked so remorseful that she couldn’t help a bit of sympathy as he spoke quietly in a pained tone.

“I am so sorry. I didn’t realize what I was doing. Are you sure I didn’t hurt you?”

“Yeah, I’m okay.” Her wrist was starting to ache where he’d held it, but the way he hung his head made her hesitant to admit it. From the look of him, he didn’t need any more guilt. She noticed the two guys on either side of him looked unusually concerned when they glanced at him. Were they worried she’d file charges against him, or was it something more? “Are you okay?”

He dropped his gaze.

The first rescuer nodded toward the student union.

The other guy touched her attacker’s arm, and they walked to the building.

Cindy watched them go, and then returned her attention to the remaining rescuer.

“Danny’ll be okay,” he said, moving closer.

“What happened?”

“He had a flashback. By the way, I’m Josh Teague.”

“Cindy Waymire.” She rubbed her wrist. “What did he flash back to?”

“Probably Iraq. He just got back from his third tour about a year ago.” He motioned to the wrist she still gently massaged. “Are you sure he didn’t hurt you?”

She stilled her fingers. “It just aches.”

“Let’s go inside where there’s better light. I’ll take a look at your wrist.”

“Are you pre-med?” she asked.

“Nope. I’m a former army medic.”

Cindy raised her eyebrows as he held the door open. “What is this, Military Day at the student union?”

“No, the student veterans’ group is meeting here in a little bit.”

“I didn’t even know there was such a thing.” In the bright light of the student union, she got her first good look at Josh. He had short blond hair, hazel eyes, and looked remarkably familiar. “Are we in a class together?”

He led her out of the way of a student heading outside and studied her. “I don’t think so. Why?”

“You look familiar.” After three years at the university, nearly everyone on campus looked vaguely familiar. “Maybe I’ve just seen you around.”

“It’s possible. Now, let me see your wrist.”

She held it out, and he gently examined it. Despite a little redness from Danny’s strong grasp, there wasn’t any excruciating pain as Josh probed and flexed the joint.

Finally, he released her. “I think you have a mild sprain. I can get something to wrap it with to help with the ache, or I can walk you to the medical center so you can get it looked at by a doctor. What would you prefer?”

“I think I’d prefer to know why you’re so worried about taking care of me.”

“I’m hoping I can convince you not to call the campus police on Danny. He meant it when he said he didn’t know what he was doing. When a flashback happens, the real world disappears and he sees what happened in the past. It’s like he’s there all over again.”

“And I happened to take the place of a bad guy?”

“Yeah, it kind of looks that way.” Josh studied her, a glimmer of pleading in his eyes. “So, are you going to take pity on him and not report him to the police?”

Should she call the campus police or not? The university would want a report of the incident, but Danny hadn’t attacked her with any malicious intent. She was fairly certain he hadn’t even realized she was female. And he’d apologized and seemed to feel true remorse. After a little more deliberation, she felt peace about her decision. “I won’t report him, but I do want to talk to him. I have an insatiable curiosity for what makes people tick.”

“You probably don’t want to know what caused him to suffer from flashbacks.” Doubt filled Josh’s face.

“Actually, I do.” She made a quick decision. “I have to write a paper for my sociology class, and I’d like to write it on what it’s like for soldiers coming home and trying to adjust to life after the military.”

“That sounds more like something you’d write for psychology.”

“No, my professor has pointed out how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan affect everyone more than we realize, and I think he’d be interested in finding out how veterans handle coming here while trying to recover from being deployed.”

“Recover… that’s an interesting word to use.”

She shrugged off a flutter of nerves. “Maybe, but it makes sense to someone who’s never been involved with the military and doesn’t know anyone in it. Going by what they show on the news and the psychiatrists who get interviewed occasionally, everyone who serves in Iraq or Afghanistan has to recover at least a little before life is normal.”

Josh searched her face. Finally, he gave a single nod. “I know where you can find a group of veterans who can help with your paper. But first, you need to take care of your wrist.”

“Would it be too much trouble for you to wrap it? I’d rather not deal with the medical center.”

“I’d be happy to do it.” He slid his backpack from his shoulders and dug inside it, coming up with a chemical ice pack. After squeezing it a couple of times, he handed it to her and slung the pack over his shoulder. “Put that on your wrist. It’ll help with the ache and any swelling. Come with me to the meeting room, and I’ll wrap your wrist. That should give the ice long enough to do its job.”

Cindy pressed the plastic pack to her wrist, and the chill spread, numbing the ache. Although curiosity rose, she wasn’t comfortable asking why he carried an ice pack.

“Are you busy this evening?” He gave her a questioning look.

“Not really. Why?”

He wasn’t going to ask her out, was he?

“You can hang out with the veterans’ group and maybe get what you need for your paper. So far this year we only have combat veterans, but there were a couple of guys last year who never left the States during their enlistments. They may come back at some point. Anyway, we’re usually out of here by nine, although sometimes we go somewhere else and hang out for a while after the meeting.”

“Will anyone mind me being there?”

“It’ll be fine. I’m sure they’ll be interested in helping you with your paper, too.”

Cindy followed him into a meeting room with half a dozen men in their mid-twenties to early thirties sprawled in chairs at round tables. She spotted Danny off to one side, talking to her other rescuer and an older man.

Josh led her to a black guy with glasses. “Hey, Corbin, you got a roll of self-adhering elastic bandage on you?”

Cindy glanced at Josh, her mind on high speed. She’d expected him to go to the tiny general store on the first floor to get something to wrap her wrist, not ask a friend for it. What kind of guys carried first aid supplies with them?

“Yeah,” he said, his gaze sliding to Cindy. “Who’s your friend?”

“Cindy Waymire.”

Corbin reached into the backpack lying on the floor and pulled out a rolled, light brown bandage. “Here you go.”

“Thanks, man. I’ll bring this back in a couple of minutes.” Josh led Cindy to an empty table and had her sit down. He dropped into the chair beside her, and then loosened the end of the bandage. “Give me your wrist.”

She held out her arm.

The fluid movements of his fingers indicated he’d had a lot of practice. When he finished, he tore the material and gently pressed to make sure the bandage was secure.

“How does that feel?”

She flexed her fingers. There was enough support to prevent most of the discomfort. “Much better.”

“Good. Keep the ice on your wrist for a few more minutes. I’ll be right back.” He carried the remaining bandage over to Corbin.

A tingle of awareness lifted the hair on the back of her neck, and she glanced around, certain someone was watching her.

Danny looked even more contrite than the last time she’d seen him — something she wouldn’t have believed possible if she weren’t seeing it. He must have noticed Josh wrapping her wrist. He said something to the guys he was talking to, and then he walked over to her.

“Mind if I sit down?” Danny asked quietly.

“Go ahead.” She gave him a friendly smile and waved her hand at the chair Josh had vacated.

He lowered himself into the chair, his gaze on her bandaged wrist. “I thought you said you were okay.”

“I am.” She spoke gently. “It’s just a minor sprain, and it doesn’t hurt at all now.”

He glanced toward Josh and Corbin, who were talking a few tables away. “Did he tell you what happened?”

“He said you had a flashback and probably didn’t even realize I was there.”

“Would you believe I didn’t realize you were American until Alex told me you were a noncombatant?”

“Who did you think I was?”

“Doesn’t matter.” Danny shook his head and looked away. “The point is, I’m sorry. Most of the time I’m fine, but sometimes stress will get to me or something will trigger a memory and I relive some stuff.”

“Can anything be done to keep you from reliving it like that?”

“Therapy, time, maybe medication. I’ll know for sure if they ever figure out what works for me.” The vulnerability in his gray eyes made Cindy want to give him a hug. “I hope you don’t think I’m crazy. I’m not. I’ve just seen a lot of stuff, and I’m still trying to deal with it.”

“Josh said you did three tours in Iraq.”

“Actually, only the last two were in Iraq. I was in Afghanistan for the first.”

“I can’t imagine doing even one tour in either place.”

“It’s what I trained for.” He glanced around the room. “It’s what we all trained for. It was our job to go over there and fight for our country.”

She studied him for a moment, sensing his pride as a veteran, and her curiosity prompted her to ask another question. “Would you go back?”

He met her gaze and, for the first time, she saw strength and determination in it. “If they asked me, I’d go back right now. The job’s not finished yet.”

Josh stepped up in front of the group. “I’m glad you all came tonight. Before we take care of business, I’d like to introduce a visitor. Cindy, come up here for a minute.”

Why hadn’t he warned her he planned to bring her in front of the entire group? She’d thought he’d introduce her to a few veterans after the meeting. Fighting back a flutter of nerves, she set the ice pack on the table and joined him, noting the curious expressions. She prayed they didn’t think she was intruding.

“This is Cindy Waymire. She’s writing a paper on veterans going to college while adjusting to life after the military, and she would like to spend a little time with us as part of her research. All in favor of helping her?” Josh paused, and four hands lifted. After some hesitation and an exchanged glance, the other two guys raised their hands as well. Josh turned to her with a smile. “You have your guinea pigs. You can sit down now.”

She returned to her seat beside Danny, relieved they were going to help her. She’d been a little afraid they might feel insulted by being the subject of a paper.

“Now, I’ve been contacted by several local organizations and professors who want someone to come speak,” Josh said, picking up a piece of paper. “Anybody up for telling groups about the military?”

Cindy looked around the room as Josh paired volunteers with speaking engagements. With their apparent willingness to talk about life in the military, it wasn’t surprising they’d voted unanimously to help with her paper.

The older man nodded slightly as he watched the proceedings with an approving smile.

Danny leaned close. “That’s Dr. Logan. He’s our faculty advisor and a Vietnam veteran who went to college straight out of the army.”

She nodded as Josh moved the meeting on to their upcoming fundraiser: a dinner to help raise money to send care packages to those still serving overseas. Cindy remembered seeing the donation jars and boxes for the military for the three years she’d been a student here. Had these guys been recipients of any of the cards she and her girlfriends had donated?

Once the meeting adjourned, several of the veterans introduced themselves to Cindy, including Alex Dugan, her other rescuer. Alex invited her to join him and a few others for coffee.

Although her heart pounded at the thought of going anywhere with this many strange men, she set her nervousness aside and accepted the invitation. It would give her a chance to gather information for her paper. Besides, going out for coffee meant they’d be in a public place. She would be safe enough there.

These guys had all been through things she’d never be able to understand, and though they seemed willing to talk to her about their experiences, she worried it might bring up unpleasant memories for them as it had with Danny. She prayed the evening would be a positive experience for everyone.

As the group headed out of the student union, Cindy walked between Corbin and Danny. The falling dusk washed out the brilliant colors of the campus’s landscaping. A handful of stars already shone in the darkening sky, visible between trees and buildings. A few pedestrians strolled along the sidewalks, presumably taking advantage of the slightly cooler temperature brought by the arrival of evening.

Corbin lifted his eyebrows and waved his hand toward her bandaged wrist. “So, what did you do that required Josh to wrap you up?”

“Sprained my wrist on my way to the student union.” She didn’t feel right talking about Danny’s flashback, especially with him on her other side.

Corbin chuckled. “That takes talent. How did you do it?”

Danny sighed as he turned to Corbin. “I took her down.”

“One of those moments, huh?”

Danny’s jaw tightened and shadows darkened his eyes. “Fallujah, man. I saw flippin’ Fallujah.”

“That sucks.”

“Yeah.” Danny glanced at Cindy and dropped his gaze. “I’m not sure you want to use me for your paper. I’m a bit of a freak.”

Corbin slipped behind her to put a hand on Danny’s shoulder. “Hey, we all have our problems.”

“Maybe, but I have more than the rest of you. I just hope I don’t harm anyone else.”

What had Danny been through? Cindy wanted to give him a hug and maybe remove some of the sadness from his eyes, but she’d just met him — a meeting that had made the evening awkward enough already.

“What about Lacey?” Corbin glanced at the group crowding the sidewalk. “Hey, does anyone know where Lacey is tonight?”

“I think she had a date,” Alex said from behind them as the group parted to let a bicyclist through. “She mentioned something about someone named Matt.”

“She skipped out on us for a date?” one of the others asked.

“Hey, at least she’s going out with someone.”

Corbin sobered, the teasing tone vanishing as quickly as it had come. “I hope it goes well for her. She deserves to enjoy herself.”

What could cause him to look and sound so serious about a girl having a date? Cindy looked from Corbin to Danny and back, her curiosity flaring to life. “Who’s Lacey?”

“Our lone female veteran,” Corbin said, his expression lightening. “You should talk to her for your paper. Get the female perspective.”

“That would be cool.” New possibilities for the paper spread out before her.

“You know, I don’t think anyone ever said what your paper is for,” Danny said.

“Oh, I’m writing it for my sociology class. My professor spends a lot of time pointing out how the War on Terror has affected the way we live and the current state of the world. Lately, he’s started talking about the Department of Veterans Affairs and the issues it needs to deal with in order to provide services to the large numbers of veterans created by the war.”

“Who’s your professor?”

“Dr. Brixton.” A warm breeze blew a strand of hair in Cindy’s eyes, and she swatted it away as they turned onto the street leading toward the diner at the edge of campus.

“You’re writing this paper for Brixton?” Alex asked.

“Yeah, why?”

“Josh was in the same company as his nephew.”

“I should have remembered that.” She suddenly knew why Josh looked familiar.

“What do you mean?” Corbin asked.

“Dr. Brixton showed us a photo of his nephew and a couple of his friends. Josh was one of the friends.”

“Does he know you’re writing the paper for Brixton?” Alex asked.

Should she have told Josh who her professor was for before he offered to introduce her to the veterans group? “Not unless he knows Brixton teaches sociology. Why?”

“I figure if he knew you were writing it for his buddy’s uncle, he might have decided to stay out of it so no one can accuse Brixton of playing favorites if you get a good grade.”

She lifted an eyebrow. “If I get a good grade? Talk about a blow to my ego.”

The guys laughed as they dodged around a trio of students talking on the sidewalk.

She liked these guys and hoped she could develop friendships. With any luck, she could also meet Lacey. The way Alex and Corbin had talked about her made Cindy curious. Most people would consider it morbid curiosity, but she couldn’t help being interested in the human angle of war and all that went with it. If she could bring that down to a personal level, so much the better.

Here is my review of this enjoyable and educational read:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to E.A. West and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Battlefield of the Heart" 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.

"Battlefield of the Heart" by E.A. West is a lovely homage to the American soldier and a heartwarming romance.  Cindy Waymire meets Danny Flynn under rather unusual circumstances that start this educational train rolling.  Danny suffers from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of his service to the USA in the Army during his tours overseas.  What begins for Cindy as a research project for a sociology paper becomes a greater education that leads to true friendships and true love.
The author’s research on PTSD is presented in such a way that is both educational and entertaining – although I almost hate to use a word like “entertaining” to describe this book.  It is a heartfelt tribute to the soldiers who serve our nation and the people who love them.  Every reader will come away from this book with a greater awareness of the plight of soldiers attempting to reintegrate into civilian life.