Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck

The Wedding Chapel

by Rachel Hauck  

In a day when marriage seems incredibly disposable, USA Today best-selling author Rachel Hauck weaves a story rich in symbolism that reminds us of timeless truths about love. Hauck is captivated by the 1940s, and in The Wedding Chapel, she juxtaposes two story lines: one capturing the simple romance and commitment to family embodying the earlier era and another showing the challenges and complications of romance in a modern world.

For sixty years, a wedding chapel sat silent, waiting for love. But times have changed and the hour has come when it just might be too late.
Retired hall-of-fame football coach Jimmy "Coach" Westbrook never imagined anything would come of his labor of love---the wedding chapel he built for Collette Greer, the woman he fell for back in '49. But now an offer has come to turn the chapel into what it was meant to be---a place for love---and Jimmy sees no reason to hang onto his dream any longer.
Photographer Taylor Branson is trying to make a life for herself in New York. Leaving her hometown of Heart's Bend, Tennessee, she put a lot of things behind her, including her family's abysmal marriage rate. But love surprises her when she falls head-over-heels for Jack Forester, a top ad man. Their whirlwind romance results in an elopement, and a mountain of doubt. Jack, while genuine in his love for Taylor, can never seem to overcome his own demons to find the words of his heart.
When Taylor takes an assignment in Heart's Bend, the job does more than send her back to her hometown, but into a world of family secrets buried beneath the sands of time.
When Taylor's journey intersects with Coach's, they rediscover the heartbeat of their dreams and that the love they long to hold is right in front of them. And worth every waiting moment.
 Meet the Author
Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, best selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as The Wedding Dress, Love Starts with Elle, and Once Upon A Prince. She also penned the Songbird Novels with multi-platinum recording artist Sara Evans. Booklist named their novel Softly and Tenderly one of 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pets.

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Here is my review of this romantic read:

First, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Rachel Hauck and her publisher for sending me a copy of "The Wedding Chapel" 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.

In “The Wedding Chapel” by Rachel Hauck, two love stories are showcased: one over the last 50 years and one beginning in the present day.  These stories of redemption examine whether true love is worth fighting for.  The relationships begin very differently.  Jimmy and Collette were high school sweethearts way back when.  Taylor and Jack had a whirlwind romance.  Neither of the marriages is perfect, but the couples must decide what is important: honoring God or giving up.

This was a difficult novel for me to engage.  I didn’t invest in the characters right away and actually put the book down for several days to read other things.  I only picked it up because I promised to read and review it.  Normally, I really enjoy Rachel Hauck’s books, but this one was a lot of work.  Multiple points of view and two different eras are written about and sometimes the transitions feel choppy.  I would blame that more on my own inability to engage the story rather than Hauck’s writing.  I’ll have to shelf it for a while and try reading it again in the future.

Monday, December 28, 2015

My Identity in Christ #9 - I have Christ’s righteousness

Now that my Bible Study group has finished Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God study, I need to keep moving in the right direction.  Continuing this series of blog posts taken from the list Priscilla included in her 6th week of Bible study regarding our identity and inheritance in Christ.  I pray these reflections will open your eyes to how much God loves you.  Read them as if you wrote them.  Meditate on them.  God bless you.
I have Christ’s righteousness

I am humbled and so grateful that I can approach my Heavenly Father and not be ashamed or concerned that He will reject me.  He looks me straight in my eyes and gives me His undivided attention even though my best deeds are like filthy rags to Him.  He welcomes me, a sinner, into His divine presence which cannot be in the presence of sin!  There is some supernatural stuff going on here.  It’s called “Christ has clothed me in His righteousness”.  Christ’s sinless virtue covers me because He died on the cross to save me and I have accepted His sacrificial gift and confessed that He is my Savior.  So when I approach my Heavenly Father, He doesn’t see my sin or my filthy rags.  He sees His perfect, precious Son!  And that’s how He looks at me…lovingly, longingly, not with the judgment or disgust that I actually deserve.

Romans 5:19 says Christ’s obedience is what makes men righteous.  We are taught in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that the sinless Son of God became sin for us so we might become the righteousness of God.  Those powerful verses tell me that I am valuable to God.  Not only has He given me a wonderful gift that has elevated my status…He willingly paid the ultimate price of dying a painful and humiliating death on the cross while I was still a sinner with filthy rags.

He loves you that way, too.  Have you accepted His free gift of salvation by confessing Him as your personal Savior?  If not, don’t wait another minute.  Do it, now.  Call a Christian friend to help you or use my prompts in the left pane of this blog page.  Then let a trusted Christian friend or Pastor know about the decision you’ve made so they can help you navigate the road ahead.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Homiletics: Revelation 4

Contents (not sentence, direct verbiage from Scripture):  Where?                                                                Who?

After this, before me door stding open in hvn.
Voice I 1st heard like trumpet: come up, I show u what must take place after this.
At once I in Spirit, before me throne in hvn w/someone sitting on it.
The one who sat had appearance of jasper & ruby.
Rainbow that shone like emerald encircled throne.
Surr throne, 24 thrones & seated on them: 24 elders dress in wt, crowns of gold on heads.
From throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings & peals of thunder.
In front of throne, 7 lamps blazing = 7 Spirits of G.
Also in front of throne what lookd like sea of glass, clr as crystal.
In ctr around throne, 4 living creatures covered w/eyes front & back.
1st creature like lion, 2nd like ox, 3rd had face like man, 4th like flying eagle.
Creatures had 6 wings, covered w/eyes all around, even under wings.
Day and night they nvr stop: Holy, holy, holy is the L G Almighty, who was, is, is to come.
Whenever creatures give glory, honor, thx to Him on throne who lives 4evr & evr,
The 24 elders fall dn b4 Him on thrn/worship Him; Lay their crowns b4 thrn, say:
U wrthy, L&G, 2 rec glry/hnr/pwr, U created all thgs/by Ur will they crtd/have their being.


Divisions (run-on sentence OK, direct verbiage from Scripture):

The throne room in heaven
We can trust our lives and service to our Lord because He is sovereign and on the throne.
The worship in heaven
The words we speak to our mighty God should be filled with honor and praise.


Subject Sentence (10-word sentence with proper structure):

Four living creatures and 24 elders worship God in heaven.



TCMAT have a higher view of God that will cause them to worship.



What might it mean that the door in heaven is standing open in verse one?
This vision of the throne takes place after what?
What does it mean to be in the Spirit?  Have you ever been in the Spirit?
Describe the throne room of heaven.
What significance does the rainbow surrounding the throne have?
Who are the twenty-four elders?
What are the seven Spirits of God?  How does your life provide evidence of its existence?
What might be the purpose of all the eyes on the four living creatures?
How would you react if you looked through an open door and saw this vision?
Knowing this is God’s throne room, how will this change how you approach God in prayer and worship?
What sorts of things do you say to God?  How will the vision of the throne room of God affect the words you speak to Him?
When has the praise of someone else caused you to worship?
What is the significance of the 24 elders laying their crowns before the throne?
What glory have you given to our Lord and God this week?


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

At Love's Bidding by Regina Jennings

At Love's Bidding

by Regina Jennings   

Historical Romance
Bethany House 

Join Litfuse, Bethany House, and Regina Jennings for the tour of At Love's Bidding, the second Ozark Mountain Romance.
She sells priceless antiques. He sells livestock by the pound. Is he really the man to make a bid for her heart?

After helping her grandfather at their Boston auction house, Miranda Wimplegate discovers she's accidentally sold a powerful family's prized portrait to an anonymous bidder. Desperate to appease the people who could ruin them forever, they track it to the Missouri Ozarks and make an outlandish offer to buy the local auction house and all its holdings before the painting can move again.
Upon crossing the country, however, Miranda and her grandfather discover their new auction house doesn't deal in fine antiques, but in livestock. And its frustratingly handsome manager, Wyatt Ballentine, is annoyed to discover his fussy new bosses don't know a thing about the business he's single-handedly kept afloat. Faced with more heads of cattle than they can count---but no mysterious painting---Miranda and Wyatt form an unlikely but charged partnership to try and prevent a bad situation from getting worse.

 Meet the Author
Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She is the author of A Most Inconvenient Marriage, Sixty Acres and a Bride, and Caught in the Middle, and contributed a novella to A Match Made in Texas. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband and four children.

Here's my review of this entertaining historical romance novel:

First, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Regina Jennings and her publisher for sending me a copy of "At Love's Bidding" 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.
In “At Love’s Bidding” by Regina Jennings, Miranda Wimplegate and her Grandfather travel from the high society of Boston to the Ozarks of Missouri to chase a painting that was accidentally sold at one of their auctions.  If they cannot retrieve the painting, their professional reputation will be destroyed.  So when the Wimplegates pay a ridiculously low price to purchase an auction house in Missouri, they imagine they’ve made the deal of a lifetime!  Certainly they will have to sort through lots of valuables, but they will find their painting and their auction house in Boston will be saved!  When they arrive in Missouri, they discover they’ve purchased partnership a cattle auction, and Wyatt Ballentine isn’t thrilled about breaking in the greenhorns.

“At Love’s Bidding” is sprinkled with romance and a bit of suspense and mystery.  It also really touched my heart as the subplot of Miranda’s Grandfather’s forgetfulness reminded me of my own Grandfather’s battle with Alzheimer’s.  This is another enjoyable read from Regina Jennings.  Her prose transports the reader to well-crafted settings populated by fleshy characters that not only entertain but also provoke thought and make me examine myself.  This is not my favorite novel by Regina Jennings, but I still recommend this book.

Monday, December 21, 2015

My Identity in Christ #8 - I am justified

Now that my Bible Study group has finished Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God study, I need to keep moving in the right direction.  Continuing the series of blog posts taken from the list Priscilla included in her 6th week of Bible study regarding our identity and inheritance in Christ.  I pray these reflections will open your eyes to how much God loves you.  Read them as if you wrote them.  Meditate on them.  God bless you.

I am justified

Justification is a spectacular thing!  I had to look up the word in the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary.  If you’ve never used this dictionary, please take the time to check it out.  It will blow your mind.  There is an edition of this dictionary for online ( and mobile use.

According to the 1828 Dictionary, the word “justify” comes from the Latin Justus (just) and facio (to make).  In Christ, I am justified.  I am made just.  Because of Christ I am conformable to law…conformable to The Law!  I am pardoned.  I am free from guilt.  I am absolved and acquitted from punishment.  Christ’s blood atoned for my sin and restored right relationship between me and God the Father.  He accepts me as just and treats me with favor.

Romans 5:1tells us that because of this justification, we have peace with God.  It also tells us that we are justified by our faith in Jesus.  And Scripture teaches us that our faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9).  So our justification isn’t about anything we do.  It’s all about God.  It seems I learn this lesson over and over again, and each time I learn it, it anchors itself in my soul a bit deeper: it’s not about me.  Praise Jesus!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Homiletics: Revelation 3:7-22

Divisions (run-on sentence OK, direct verbiage from Scripture):

The words of the holy and true to Philadelphia:  I’m coming soon; hold onto what you have so no one takes your crown.
Every believer produces evidence of hearing what the Spirit says to the churches through obedience.
The words of the Amen to Laodicea:  I rebuke and discipline those I love so be earnest and repent.
Every believer produces fruit that reveals his temperature for Christ.


Subject Sentence (10-word sentence with proper structure):

John writes Jesus’ words to Philadelphia and Laodicea.



TCMAT obey the command to endure patiently and know that Jesus rebukes and disciplines those He loves, so we should see that discipline as a blessing not a punishment.



How have you kept Christ’s word this week?
In what way have you kept Christ’s command to endure patiently?
How are you holding onto what you have so no one takes your crown?
What evidence is your life showing that you are hearing what the Spirit says to the churches?
What fruit are you producing to evidence your temperature (hot – lukewarm – cold) for Christ?
From whom do you seek accountability to reveal those things you don’t realize about yourself?  How has this counsel changed your life?
In what way have you responded to Christ’s rebuke and discipline?


Monday, December 14, 2015

My Identity in Christ #7 - I am not condemned by God

Now that my Bible Study group has finished Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God study, I need to keep moving in the right direction.  Continuing the series of blog posts taken from the list Priscilla included in her 6th week of Bible study regarding our identity and inheritance in Christ.  I pray these reflections will open your eyes to how much God loves you.  Read them as if you wrote them.  Meditate on them.  God bless you.

I am not condemned by God

I’ve struggled with meditating on this truth that I am not condemned by God.  It’s not difficult to believe.  My problem is that I usually approach this from the other direction:  I am saved by God.  These ideas certainly have commonality, but the concept of not being condemned by God makes me mindful that I deserve to be condemned by God.  I forget this sometimes and that leads me to thoughts of entitlement.  Ick!  So here’s my meditation:  even though I absolutely deserve to be condemned by God, I am not.  This is completely about Him and nothing about me!  It’s His mercy that spares me from the pit of hell.  He’s chosen me to belong to Him through Christ Jesus and there is no condemnation in Christ.  Hallelujah!

If He’s drawn you here, He’s probably chosen you, too.  Do you know Christ as your personal Savior?  Yes?  Praise Him!  No?  Would you like to?  Pray and ask Him to be.  Use your own words or start with my prayer on the left side of your screen.  After you do that, let a trusted Christian know.  Plug into a Bible-teaching church so you can grow.  Comment on this post so I can be praying for you.  And let me leave you with one truth that I didn’t learn until I’d been a Christian for 10 or 15 years:  the Holy Spirit now lives in you!  He is your Teacher, your Comforter, your Counselor.  Get to know Him.  Pray and ask Him to teach you, to help you make decisions, to make Scripture come alive and pop off the page as you read.  Ask Him to comfort you when you are sad or weary.  The power that raised Jesus from the dead now lives in you, my sibling, and He will protect you.  Talk with a Christian friend or a trusted Pastor about this.  Also, check out my post titled “Pathway to Discipleship”.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Homiletics: Revelation 2:12-3:6

Divisions (run-on sentence OK, direct verbiage from Scripture):

Pergamum: where Satan has his throne and people hold to the teaching of Balaam – Repent!
Your response to God’s Word identifies who is sitting on the throne of your life.
Thyatira: you’re doing more than at first, but tolerate Jezebel – to overcomers I give authority over nations.
Our behaviors are rooted in our hearts and minds and should be pleasing to Christ if we belong to Him.
Sardis: wake up and strengthen what’s about to die – overcomers will be dressed in white.
We should seek regular spiritual awakening and strengthening in order to follow though in our service to Christ.


Subject Sentence (10-word sentence with proper structure):

John writes Jesus’ words to Pergamum, Thyatira and Sardis.


Aim (Christian and Non-Christian):

TCMATK Jesus’ Warnings, instructions and encouragement to the Revelation churches apply to us today.



What instruction have you received from the sharp, double-edged sword and how have you responded?
Who sits on the throne of your life?  How will you ensure this seat is occupied by the proper entity?
Tradition says Antipas was roasted alive in a bronze bull and could be heard praying while he died.  What is your reaction to extreme circumstances in your life?
If Jesus were sitting with you right now, what would He say He has against you?  What action will you take this week to make this right?
What is the Spirit saying to you and how are you responding?
How might you encourage someone else with what you’ve overcome?
What deeds might Jesus say He knows you for?  How would you like to change this?  How would you like to continue developing this?
In what areas are you tolerant where you should be taking a stand?  What will you do this week to correct this?
If Christ searched your heart and mind right now, what would He find?  How will you ensure that what He finds is pleasing to Him?
What is your spiritual reputation?  Does it match reality?  What will you do to make it more God-honoring?
In what areas do you need spiritual awakening and strengthening?  What will you do to make that happen?
Where are you not following through in your service to Christ?  How will you improve this?
What have you received from Christ and His Word and how are you obeying it?