Sunday, August 30, 2009

We Have It Backwards

I have had my fill of Kennedy coverage. Even the conservative news sites I visit seemed to be 99% coverage of Edward Kennedy's home going. Some of the people who are viewed as conservative, had much to say about what a great man he was. They talked of his "legacy." Just what kind of legacy did he leave behind? This "great" man?

I got an email that outlined what kind of man he was. I knew some of this, but this is the kind of man the world lauds and spends hours of coverage honoring:


1.) He was caught cheating at Harvard when he attended it.
He was expelled twice, once for cheating on a test, and once for paying a classmate
to cheat for him.


2.) While expelled, Kennedy enlisted in the Army, but mistakenly signed up for four years instead of two. Oops! The man can't count to four! His father, Joseph P. Kennedy, former U.S. Ambassador to England (a step up from bootlegging liquor into the US from Canada during prohibition), pulled the necessary strings to have his enlistment shortened to two years, and to ensure that he served in Europe, not Korea , where a war was raging. No preferential
treatment for him! (like he charged that President Bush received).


3.) Kennedy was assigned to Paris, never advanced beyond the rank of Private, and returned to Harvard upon being discharged. Imagine a person of his "education" NEVER advancing past the rank of Private!


4.) While attending law school at the University of Virginia, he was cited for reckless driving four times, including once when he was clocked driving 90 miles per hour in a residential neighborhood with his headlights off after dark.. Yet his Virginia driver's license was never revoked. Coincidentally, he passed the bar exam in 1959. Amazing!


5.) In 1964, he was seriously injured in a plane crash and
hospitalized for several months. Test results done by the hospital at the time he was admitted had shown he was legally intoxicated. The results of those tests remained a "state secret" until in the 1980's when the report was unsealed. Didn't hear about that from the unbiased media, did we?


6.) On July 19, 1969, Kennedy attended a party on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts . At about 11:00 PM, he borrowed his chauffeur's keys to his Oldsmobile limousine and offered to give a ride home to Mary Jo Kopechne, a campaign worker. Leaving the island via an unlit bridge with no guard rail, Kennedy steered the car off the bridge, flipped, and into Poucha Pond.


7.) He swam to shore and walked back to the party passing several houses and a fire station. Two friends then returned with him to the scene of the . According to their later testimony, they told him what he already knew - that he was required by law to immediately report the to the authorities. Instead Kennedy made his way to his hotel, called his lawyer, and went to sleep. Kennedy called the police the next morning and by then the wreck had already been discovered. Before dying Kopechne had scratched at the
upholstered floor above her head in the upside-down car.
The Kennedy family began "calling in favors", ensuring that any inquiry would be contained. Her corpse was whisked out-of-state to her family before an could be conducted.
Further details are uncertain, but after the Kennedy says he repeatedly dove under the water trying to rescue Kopechne and he didn't call police because he was in a state of shock. It is widely assumed Kennedy was drunk, and he held off calling police in hopes that his family could fix the problem overnight. Since the Kennedy's "political enemies" have referred to him as the distinguished Senator from Chappaquiddick. He pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an , and was given a SUSPENDED SENTENCE OF TWO MONTHS. Kopechne's family received a small payout from the Kennedy's insurance policy and never sued. There was later an effort to have her body exhumed and autopsied, but her family successfully fought against this in court, and Kennedy's family paid their attorney's bills.... a "token of friendship"?


8.) Kennedy has held his Senate seat for more than forty years, but considering his longevity, his accomplishments seem scant. He authored or argued for legislation that ensured a variety of civil rights, increased the minimum wage in 1981, made access to health care easier for the indigent, funded Meals on Wheels for fixed-income seniors, and is widely held as the "standard-bearer for liberalism". In his very first Senate roll he was the floor manager for the bill that turned U.S.
immigration policy upside down and opened the floodgate for
immigrants from third world countries..


9.) Since that time, he has been the prime instigator and author of every expansion of an increase in immigration up to and including the latest attempt to grant amnesty to illegal aliens. Not to mention the pious grilling he gave the last two Supreme Court nominees, as if he was the standard bearer for the nation in matters of ³what¹s right². What a pompous ass!


10.) He is known around Washington as a public drunk, loud,
boisterous, and very disrespectful to ladies. JERK is a better
description than "great American". "A in every pond" is his motto.


Doesn't sound like the kind of man that deserves all of this adulation to me. Not mentioned above, he was 100% pro-abortion - and no person who is an actual Christian would champion that cause - and pro-gay. He was for everything Christians and conservatives are against.

I could be wrong, but it doesn't seem there was this much adulation and coverage when Reagan died, who truly was a great man.

We do have it backwards in this country, and worldwide. Much is made of the deaths of corrupt individuals like Kennedy and Michael Jackson, while countless good people are dying, and no one notices.

I am reminded of the story of a missionary who was returning by ship to America after a life on the mission field. A famous individual was also arriving on the same ship, and crowds of people had turned out to see that person home. No one was there to welcome the missionary. He was feeling rather badly about it, and his wife pointed out that he wasn't home yet. How true.

These wicked individuals like Jackson and Kennedy are going to get their best home going here. For the Christian, no matter how inconspicuous or lowly, if we are faithful, will get a homecoming that is truly out of this world, when we arrive in Heaven. The welcome we receive there will make the homecoming of Kennedy seem like child's play in comparison.

And a note in closing, I know it is entirely possible for anyone to ask God for forgiveness at the very end of life, and be granted it, as God is merciful, but often the way men live, is the way they die.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Happy Birthday

Wishing my best friend Steven a very happy birthday - hope you have many more!

And by the way, only three more til forty!

Warning Signs of An Affair

I'm not married, nor ever will be, but this was part of an email I got from Focus on the Family, and thought it was worth passing on for people who are married:


Elena discovered that her husband wasn't just shopping on eBay® all those late nights on the computer. Steve just happened to see his wife kissing the kickboxing instructor in the gym's parking lot.

Most extramarital affairs do not start out with the candid revelations: "my husband is out of town" or "my wife won't suspect a thing." Generally something has gone awry in a marriage before a dissatisfied spouse utters these seductive lines.

Factors That Can Lead to Unfaithfulness


The following are factors that can lead to marital unfaithfulness:

•Looking for ego boosts outside your marriage. Men tend to turn to extramarital liaisons to build up their self-image or sexual self-esteem. Women are suspect to affairs to satisfy their longing for love, appreciation and tenderness. Beware of leaning on others beyond your marriage as primary sources for love, value and respect.


•Neglecting to talk openly with each other. If you only talk to your spouse about the bills and household chores, you may be sliding into trouble. Holding in your thoughts and feelings does not enhance transparency in your relationship. Practice the art of small talk that can open the door to deeper sharing.

•Resisting conflict resolution. Every couple runs into communication rough spots. It's important not to build walls between you and your spouse. Some people mask their hurt while others spew their emotions. Neither method is constructive. Both ways create relational roadblocks. Unresolved conflict leads to isolation and leaves you vulnerable to fleeing your marriage.

•Discounting fun and relaxation together. Think of the last time you and your spouse enjoyed a date or a weekend getaway together. As the old adage says, "Couples that play together, stay together." If career, family and homes responsibilities are crowding out laughter and friendship with your spouse, you need to book in some recreational retreats with each other.
•Increasing the time you spend apart. The demands of work travel, ill children or differing interests and hobbies are common issues that can keep couples apart. The more time you spend away from your spouse, the greater temptation to drift in your relationship.


•Allowing daily stresses and fatigue to sabotage your intimacy. Packed schedules and raising children are two common reasons husbands and wives feel ho-hum in their relational intimacy. Romance, in an instant, can remind you of the reasons you love each other. All marriages require times of refreshing and an in-depth look at intimacy saboteurs.

•Letting your love life fizzle instead of sizzle. Familiarity and boredom can creep into any marriage. Beware of shaking things up in your sex life by dumping your spouse for another more promising lover. If you or your partner suddenly is disinterested in sex with each other, be sure to explore the true reasons.

•Giving in to predictability. A little mystery can go a long way in adding spice to your marriage. Many couples succumb to affairs out of fading interest in their spouses. One way to continue your wedded bliss is to surprise your mate with love notes or an occasional unexpected outing or gift.

•Living in denial. Pretending that problems do not exist in your marriage will only widen the gap between you and your spouse. Many extramarital affairs start when a frustrated spouse searches for a reality check in marriage by turning to an officemate or friend of the opposite sex for support. Dare to face the truth of your marital struggles.

•Forgetting your commitment to each other. Over time couples are prone to forget why they fell in love. In our easy-come-easy-go culture, it takes courage and determination to honor commitment instead of convenience.

•Failing to resist come-ons and temptations. In our over-sexed world, even the most innocent husband or wife can fall prey to sexual temptations. Before you or your mate find yourself in compromising situations, talk about safeguards for your marriage. You may need to avoid after-work soirees, certain hotels on business trips and sexually compromising magazines, movies or television shows. Thinking "Just this once," can lead to a lifetime of regret.

Quick Infidelity Quiz
If your marriage partner exhibits several of these following behaviors, your marriage may be in danger of an affair:

•Avoids eye contact with you.
•Talks continually about the unknowns of the future.
•Shows an increased disinterest in the topic of sex.
•Makes excuses for not spending time alone with you.
•Acts unusually guilty when you do something nice for him/her.
•Quits complimenting you on your physical attractiveness.
•Stops saying, "I love you" and even acts rudely to you.
•Starts buying you gifts to ease his or her guilt.
Many factors can drive a marriage to the rocks. Help ensure an enriching relationship for a lifetime by taking steps today to guard the fidelity of your marriage.

One of the best recommendations for troubled marriages is enlisting the help of a licensed, Christian counselor. Often, involving a third party — especially one who's trained to counsel — can force root issues out into the open and guide you and your spouse on the road to healing.

Copyright © 2005 Beth J. Lueders, bethlueders.com. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission

Thursday, August 27, 2009

You Saved Me

Lyrics to a song I like, "You Saved Me"

As i look into the mirror i know i wouldnt be here if not for You
When i caused You so much pain and You couldve turned away
Your faith held true
When my life had turned to ashes and my dreams went up in smoke
You were the constant line my only source of hope

~*chorus*~

You saved me at each and every turn
As i stood frozen on the bridges i would burn
You saved me when i was my own worst enemy
Your love is the key that set me free
Lord You saved me

When i look up at the cross and consider all it cost i stand amazed
Then im driven to my knees cause my mind cannot conceive Your
endless grace
You know the very number of every hair upon my head
You loved me and You chose me before i took my first breath

~*chorus*~

You saved me at each and every turn
As i stood frozen on the bridges i would burn
You saved me when i was my own worst enemy
Your love is the key that set me free
Lord You saved me

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

To Get This Close

Not sure if I posted this before, but ran onto these lyrics again and decided to put them on here. I like the message.

To Get This Close

Verse 1:
The path you chose for me to walk at times was rough and steep
The winds would howl through caverns carved between the boulders deep
And there were nights when lumps of fear would rise up in my throat
So when I'd try to sing Your song, I'd choke on every note.


Chorus:
I didn't know I had to come this far to get this close
I'm learning that You're nearest when Your children need You most
Without You I have nothing I could ever boast
But it's worth it all to come this far, so I could get this close.

Verse 2:
But now I see those were the times You guided me along
The narrow passes, and when I was weak, Your hand was strong
And like a shepherd with his staff protects his wayward flock
You crowded me into the clefted shelter of the rock.

Verse 3:
The chilling night is gone now, and the howling wind is still
The morning sun is breaking beyond the distant hill
The shadows that I feared - I see now in light of day -
Were cast by peaks of alabaster all along the way!

Chorus 2:
I didn't know I had to come this far to get this close;
I'm learning Lord, You're nearest when Your children need You most
Without you I'd be nothing that I could ever boast,
But I'm so glad we've come this far, so we could be this close!
(Lyrics by Gloria Gaither)

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Expanded Bible

I have a new author to review: God. :-) Actually, I am actually reviewing a new Bible, not what God says in the Bible.

I saw this Bible on the Nelson review site, and was intrigued. Here is what they say about it:


The Expanded Bible: New Testament reflects the latest scholarship, current English, and the needs of contemporary students of the Bible. This new testament includes a multitude of study aids right in line with the text. Expanded translations and other helps make it possible for you to study the Bible while you read.

◦Expanded translations bring out the meaning of words and offer alternative wordings.
◦Literal meanings of words and phrases from the original languages offer additional understanding.
◦Traditional wordings recall familiar terms and expressions.
◦Comments help explain content.
◦References supply rewarding opportunities for comparing other Scriptures.
◦Variations provide additional wordings from the ancient manuscripts.


I received the Bible last week, and have been reading it daily for my devotions, and also looking through it and reading different verses throughout the day, and I like it. It is a bit reminiscent of the Amplified Bible, but different.

It not only gives additional words to use in place of a given word, it also lists other references right within the verse that are pertinent, and will also give an explanation. Here are a few examples:


John 3: 14-15 Just as Moses lifted up the ·snake [Tserpent] in the
·desert [wilderness; CMoses put a bronze snake statue on a
pole, and those who looked at it were healed of snake bites;
Num. 21:4–9], the Son of Man must also be lifted up [C an allusion
to the cross and resurrection]. 15So that everyone who
·believes can have eternal life in him [or believes in him can
have eternal life].



I Corinthians 13:1 I may speak in ·different languages [Ltongues;
12:10, 29, 30] of people or even angels. But if I do
not have love, I am only a ·noisy [resounding] ·bell [gong]
or a ·crashing [clanging] cymbal.


Romans 3:23-24 23[LFor; Because] Everyone has
sinned and ·fallen short [or is not worthy of] of God’s ·glorious
standard [or glorious presence; Lglory], 24and all need to
be ·made right with God [justfied; declared righteous] as a
free gift by his grace, ·by being set free from sin [Lthrough
the redemption that is] ·through [or in] Jesus Christ.



A brief explanation of some things above: a "bullet" - or dot - before a word, indicates which word the bracketed information is about.

An "L" before a word, indicates a more literal rendering of the original language

A "T" before a word provides familiar terms and well-known renderings from past translations.

A "C" briefly provides historical, cultural, theological, or other explanatory information to help a reader understand a verse. And there are other such features not shown in the above verses.


This Bible would be great for a new Christian, or for anyone wanting to get more out of their Bible reading. I myself am enjoying it and finding it very helpful.

I do wish they used red lettering for Christ's words - you just get used to that, and this Bible is actually only the New Testament, so I am hoping they do the Old Testament eventually.

The translation itself is easy to read, and I like it. Overall, I am very impressed with this Bible. It is available in hardcover or paperback.

And if you'd like to check it out in more detail, there is a PDF version available for free here: The Expanded Bible.


Scripture taken from The Expanded Bible. Copyright © 2009 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Something to think about

I admit it, there are certain books of the Bible that I avoid. Lamentations is one of those, but a while back, I happened on a passage - I think it was mentioned in a fiction book, actually - and since then, have enjoyed reading these verses. Lamenations, chapter 3:22-33, NLT

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”

25 The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
to those who search for him.
26 So it is good to wait quietly
for salvation from the Lord.
27 And it is good for people to submit at an early age
to the yoke of his discipline:

28 Let them sit alone in silence
beneath the Lord’s demands.
29 Let them lie face down in the dust,
for there may be hope at last.
30 Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them
and accept the insults of their enemies.

31 For no one is abandoned
by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion
because of the greatness of his unfailing love.
33 For he does not enjoy hurting people
or causing them sorrow.

The Knight


This is the third installment in what I call “The Chess Pieces Mysteries”. First there was
The Rook, then The Pawn, this book, The Knight, and the next one will be “The Bishop”.
Steven James just gets better with each book that he writes, and this is definitely his best.

The series is actually called “The Patrick Bowers Files”, but I like my name for it too. J Patrick Bower is the main character in the whole series, and is an FBI agent who gets called in to help investigate tough crimes, and the crime in this book is tough. A serial killer is killing victims in pretty gruesome ways, modeling his crimes from a book - which I googled, and the book does exist.

The crimes keep escalating, and soon the police know how the next victims will die, but can they find the victims in time, and stop the killer? As they come to the final killing in the “story” the killer is playing out, Patrick realizes the final victim planned is himself.

This is an awesome read. A lot of suspense, mystery, and intrigue. I was totally blown away by the ending. The author keeps you guessing throughout the book at the identity of the killer, then pulls the unexpected.

I will be bluntly honest. I have never been a big fan of first person novels, or as I have called them for years, “I books” - I should sue Apple - I came up with the term first! In my opinion, it restricts the story to only know what the main character is thinking. This author does both styles of writing. The main character is in the first person, but the story goes back and forth between first and third person. The end result makes a very good story, and more enjoyable than if it was totally first person.

If you are looking for something blatantly Christian, you may not like this book. The main character is not a Christian, or doesn’t seem to be - he curses, though there are none printed in the book. There was a sexual innuendo which I could have done without, but overall, the book is clean, does have some Christian content, and though there is a lot of violence, good ultimately triumphs over evil.

The book does address an interesting question. Is it ever Ok to lie to see justice done? If by telling the complete truth, would someone’s testimony in court allow someone to walk free who is definitely guilty, and will kill again, molest, or rape? The main character has to face that issue. If he tells the truth, a violent criminal will most likely walk. If he lies, lives will be saved. So does he lie, or tell the truth? Read the book and find out.

Although more secular than Christian, this is an excellent book, and you will not run into language and sexual issues in this book. other than the slight inneuendo I mentioned. If you like good clean suspense, check out the “Chess Pieces Mysteries”, or as Revell Publishers call them, “The Patrick Bower Files”. And in my opinion, this is a series that wouldn’t necessarily have to be read in order, but I recommend reading the whole series. You won’t be disappointed.

I emailed the author to ask if there will be more books in the series, since there are more chess pieces yet to be uses as titles, and there are plans for the others. I look forward to more in the series.

A word of caution, these books are a bit more violent and descriptive than the average Suspense novel you purchase from the Christian bookstore, but they really are excellent books.


Press release:

Steven James is one of the nation’s most innovative storytellers—with a Master of Arts in Storytelling degree to prove it. For the past decade, he has been crafting compelling and evocative stories that pull readers into the thick of his brilliant, mind-bending plots, and his latest creative endeavor is no different: The Knight, the third installment in his bestselling series of thrillers, is full of the chilling twists and adrenaline-laced action that readers have come to expect from James.

The Knight picks up in The Bowers Files series, starring FBI criminologist Patrick Bowers, who is assigned to tracking the country’s most dangerous killers. But when he is called to his most disturbing crime scene yet, Bowers begins to realize that this criminal mastermind has actually been tracking him.

To get to the bottom of this cold-blooded case, Bowers uses his cutting-edge investigative techniques to decipher the evidence and discovers that the murderer has been using an ancient manuscript as a blueprint for his crimes. This sends Bowers on a race against time to stop the killer before he takes his next victim in another grisly crime.

But even as he is working to crack the clues of this bloody trail, Bowers finds himself stumped by another matter: An old murder case haunts him, causing him to question himself and wonder which is more important—truth or justice. The answer might set a killer free or change Bowers into a criminal himself.

Keeping readers guessing until the very end, James has earned rave reviews from the likes of Publishers Weekly, which called his thrillers “a wild ride with a shocking conclusion.” The Knight offers readers more of the same, as the satisfying follow-up to his previous bestselling psychological thrillers in The Bowers Files series, The Pawn and The Rook.


“Heart-pounding excitement…
Once the last page is turned, you’ll be tempted to flip back
to the beginning to see where you missed vital clues.
Top-notch suspense!”
— Romantic Times review of The Knight

New Thriller from Steven James:
The Knight


Reviews for The Bowers Files series

Praise for The Pawn
“Riveting.” —Publishers Weekly
“An exhilarating thriller.” —Mysterious Reviews
“Brilliant.” —Ann Tatlock, Christy-award-winning author
“There is nothing not to like.” —The Suspense Zone
“An exceptional psychological thriller.”—Bookshelf Review
“Seriously intense.” —Pop Culture Tuesday


Praise for The Rook

“It’s a wild ride with a shocking conclusion.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Readers will be on the edge of their seats.” —Romantic Times top pick
“Steven James has mastered the thriller.” —The Suspense Zone
“Suspense thriller writing at its highest level.” —TittleTrakk.com
“Steven James hooked me with his debut, The Pawn. Now in his explosive
sequel he has absolutely blown me away.” —The Christian Manifesto


Praise from real-life investigators

"Steven James's ability to use modern, up-to-date investigative
techniques to solve his criminal mysteries places him
at the forefront of current mystery writers."
— E. Cleon Glaze, retired FBI agent, Alaska

"Steven James combines 21st-century high-tech law enforcement
techniques with 18th-century Sherlockian deduction
to craft an exciting, suspense-filled story."
— Dr. Kim Rossmo,
Center for Geospatial Intelligence and Investigation, Texas State University



Available August 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Need I Say More?

If you could see
What I once was
If you could go with me
Back to where I started from
Then, I know you would see
A miracle of Love that took me
In it's sweet embrace
And made me what I am today
Just an old sinner
Saved by grace


How could I boast of anything
I've ever seen or done
How could I dare to claim as mine
The victories God has won
Where would I be
Had God not brought me
Gently to this place
I'm here to say I'm nothing but
A sinner
Saved by grace

Im just a sinner
Saved by grace
When I stood
Condemned to death
He took my place
Now I live and breathe in freedom
With each breath of life I take
I'm loved and forgivin
Back with the living
I'm just a sinner
Saved by grace


(Words & music by Bill & Gloria Gaither)

Friday, August 21, 2009

June Bug


I actually won this book from Tyndale, and am not required to review it, but thought it was a cute book - if guys can think something is cute. :-).


Its the story of a little girl, June Bug, who is traveling with her dad in an old beat-up RV. Life is pretty good, and then she sees a poster in a Walmart for a missing child. and it is her.

Is this man who calls himself her father, really her father? And what happened to her
mother? Does she have one?

The book isn't exciting as in the mystery/suspense exciting, but it is a great story, and a fun read. Hailed as a modern day retelling of the classic Les Miserables, the author does an excellent job of telling the story.

I had never read Les Miserables. but had watched the movie about six years ago or longer. I didn't think there were many similarities until I was describing the book to my friend. He is a big fan of Les Miserables, and said this book sounds a lot like it.

So, whether or not you have read and like the original, give this story a chance. Though I would have ended it differently, it is worth reading, and you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Breaking The Barriers

Great book. Breaking The Barriers, by Jason Frenn. In it, the author offers three foundational pillars to help believers overcome difficulties in their lives:


Take on the character of God the Father


Take on the wisdom of the Son


Live in the discipline of the Spirit.


Written in an easy to read style, the author uses several stories to get his point across, from
confronting a young guy wearing an offensive Tshirt, to visting other countries. With chapter titles like "Laying a solid foundation", "Making Godly Sense", Wisdom in your life". A very helpful book if you are going through any kind of difficulties - or in case you do. Available from Faith Works/Hatchette books.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Holes On the Beach

My buddy Steven related this story to me the other day that Anne Graham Lotz related. It encouraged me, so I googled it and found it on her website. Instead of just putting a link, I have copied and pasted it below:


Only God, through Christ, has the power to forgive sin.¹ It doesn’t matter how big the sin is or how small, it doesn’t matter how long ago it was committed or how recently. It doesn’t matter whether it was spontaneous or malicious. God will forgive you if you come to Him at the cross of Jesus Christ.

God forgave the men who nailed His Son to the cross—when they asked Him to.² So why do you think He won’t forgive you when you ask? What do you think is beyond the forgiveness of God? Abortion?—Adultery?—Abuse?—Hate?—Hypocrisy?—Doubt? —Divorce?—Drunkenness?—Or Immorality?—Or Murder?—Or _____? You fill in the blank.

There is nothing you have ever done that He cannot or will not forgive when He is humbly asked.

A few years ago I found myself groping for a way to explain this to a woman who had been on death row for multiple murders and would be executed within ten hours of my visit. Tears glistened in her eyes as she looked at me beseechingly, needing assurance of the salvation she had claimed by faith six years earlier. That very night she would be stepping into eternity, and she was desperate for reassurance of her forgiveness by God. I asked her if she had ever been to the ocean, and she nodded "yes." I asked her if, as she had walked along the shore, she had seen small holes in the sand where ghost crabs had darted in and out. Again she nodded. I then asked if she had seen any larger holes, like those made by children digging. Beginning to look puzzled, she said "yes," she had seen holes like that. I persisted gently to see if she had ever seen huge holes created by machines dredging a channel or burying pipe lines on the beach. Her brow furrowed as she again acknowledged a quiet "yes." I then leaned toward her and pressed my point, "Velma, when the tide comes in, what happens to all those holes?"

A soft light began to gleam in her eyes, and a smile played at the corner of her lips as I answered my own question. "All the holes are covered equally by the water, aren’t they?

God’s forgiveness is like the tide that washes over all the ‘holes’ of your sins and covers all your sins equally." And Velma stepped into her heavenly home fully assured of her acceptance by God.

Praise God for the sacrifice of Jesus that is sufficient to cover all of your sins. All of them! Even "small" sins like gossip or worry, "medium-size" sins like losing your temper, "large" sins like murder—all are covered equally by the blood of Jesus. You will never be held accountable for the guilt of your sin because Jesus has taken the punishment for you. The price for your redemption has been paid! The sacrifice for your sin has been made! You are forgiven! Eternal life is yours! Heaven is open!

•You don’t have to do more good works than bad works.
•You don’t have to go to church every time the door opens.
•You don’t have to be religious.
•You don’t even have to be good.

But you and I must confess our sin to Him personally, specifically and honestly if we want to receive forgiveness. God promises, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."³

Doing It Ourselves

Recently, my oldest nephew, Josiah, was trying to install a new computer game on the computer, and was having no luck. I tried to help, but was told "I can do it myself." I said "ok, but Uncle Mark knows how to do it, but go ahead and do it yourself." A few minutes passed, and then "Markie...can you help me with this game?" I went over and had it running in a couple clicks of the mouse.

I've thought about that since. How like us with God. We think we know how to live our lives, and God is there waiting to help, but we try to do it our way. We think we can do it, and only after we fail, make a mess, then we turn and ask God for His help. And He has been patiently waiting, knowing we'd turn to Him. He steps up and helps, and we wish we had asked in the first place.

At least Josiah learned his lesson, and he is only eight. The next day, he wanted to play the game, and still didn't know how to get it to come on, so instead of trying on his own, he came and asked if I would help him get the game on again, and I did.

Yet we adults so rarely learn from our mistakes, and go back and try to do it ourselves again. And fail again.

Let's be more like a little kid and admit from the start we need help, and learn from our mistakes. God will help. He is just waiting for us to ask.

And a side note. Only my nephews are allowed to call me "Markie." If anyone else tries, you will have to deal with the consequences. ;-)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How do you pray?

I was thinking about this, and decided to make a poll. You can comment here too, if you like. What position do you normally pray in when you pray daily - as we should - for your devotions? This may sound weird, but I usually pray lying on my back in bed - takes me a long time to go to sleep, so unless I am unusually tired, no danger of fallling asleep. Occasionally, I will sit, rest my elbows on my knees, and my head in my hands, but most often, it is lying in bed.

So, if you are a Christian, and pray, what is your posture for praying most of the time? Vote in my poll - I'd like to know. :-) If you normally switch positions, pick more than one, but this poll is for how you normally pray on a daily basis. Thanks for participating.

Monday, August 17, 2009

How Big Is God

A song that has been blessing me a lot lately. I made one of my amateur videos so I could share it.

How Big Is God (Stuart Hamblin)

Though men may strive to go beyond the reach of space
To crawl beyond the distant shining stars
This world's a room so small within my Master's house --
The open sky but a portion of his yard.

How big is God, how big and wide His vast domain?
To try to tell these lips can only start
He's big enough to rule this mighty universe
Yet small enough to live within my heart.

As winter's chill may cause the tiny seed to fall…
To lie asleep till waked by summer's rain
The heart grown cold will warm and throb with life anew
The Master's touch will bring the glow again.

How big is God, how big and wide His vast domain?
To try to tell these lips can only start
He's big enough to rule this mighty universe
Yet small enough to live within my heart


Saving Others

A while back, I picked up a cover of Henry Blackaby's Experiencing God Day by Day. Got it for 25 cents. :-) I was impressed with last night's devotional, and felt it was written for me. Whether or not it was, it has some good food for thought, and is something we all need to think about. The title of the devotional is "Saving Others."


Whoever turns a sinner from his error will save him from death and cover a multitude of sins (James 5:20)

We live in a world that teaches us to mind our own business. We try not to get involved in other people's problems. We tell ourselves it's not our place. This attitude is completely opposite to what the Bible teaches. As Christians, we are called to become involved in the lives of others, especially when we see someone headed for trouble.


It is actually our responsibility, when we see a fellow believer drifting toward sin, to warn that person of the dangers ahead. Sometimes we are reluctant to say anything to others because we don't want to offend them. We don't want to act "holier than thou." Besides, if we point out the sins of others, they might point back at us and start naming our sins! So, often we say nothing, and think that's the most Christian thing to do. James argues, however, that when we help someone avoid the danger of sin, we are saving that person from death!


We need to check to see what is happening in the lives of people around us. If our friends keep falling into sin and we keep minding our own business, we have failed as a Christian friend. Is there someone you need to lovingly warn of the danger ahead? Take courage. Regardless of the response you receive, speak up before it is too late. Do out of genuine concern for the well-being of your friend.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hope

I Corinthians 13:13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Life has really looked hopeless at times lately. I feel like I'm a fork in the road of life, but each road I look at looks dark and dismal. I pray for guidance, and nothing happens. I do feel like I am hanging onto a fragile thread hanging over the canyon of despair, and some days, it seems my hold is slipping. Hope is such a nice word, but lately, it seems like its out there somewhere, just beyond my grasp.

I read the verse above, and wondered, why does the Bible say the greatest of those three is love? Can a person truly live without hope? I think you could live without faith - thought it is impossible to please God without it, and maybe you could live without love, but without hope? So why isn't the greatest of those hope?

I searched for the three words in the New King James. Hope appears a mere 150 times, faith appears 422, and love appears 697. So love must be the most i important of the three.

Could it be, if you truly don't have love, you can't have the other two, and it is possible to have the other two and not have love? I don't know.

Regardless of the order of importance, all three are important. We are commanded to have faith and love, but I am not aware of a verse that commands us to have hope. And why not? It is obviously important - it is pretty hard to live the Christian life without hope - believe me, I know.

I looked hope up on dictionary.com. I liked two of the definitions:
1)the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best
2)a person or thing in which expectations are centered


And therein lies why hope is important. It hinges on faith. If we feel hopeless, and that things aren't going to turn out well, and we are serving God, than we also have a lack of faith. We must have hope that God will work for the best in our lives.

We need hope
To climb the highest mountains
To cross the lowest valleys
To walk through barren lands
We need hope
And in Jesus we can find
The strength we need to try
And the peace we need to stand. (Jeff & Sheri Easter, Silent Witness CD, 1995)

What does one do when they feel hopeless? The devil will take advantage of our hopeless feelings and magnify things so they look all the more hopeless. And so often, I, and others, fall into the trap, and focus on what is going wrong, and hope slips further and further out of our grasp. So how to avoid those feelings? They are real, and sometimes things look so dark, it is easy to feel hopeless.

Some of the answers are obvious, yet easy to let slide if one is feeling hopeless. Prayer. I have prayed so much lately when it seemed my prayers were bouncing off the ceiling, but I keep praying - surely if they keep bouncing around in my room, they will bounce up to God eventually. Reading the Bible. Psalms are really encouraging. David sounded pretty hopeless at times, yet he came through it and was the greatest earthly king Israel had.

One we overlook, is asking others to pray. There is nothing wrong with admitting to friends that we need prayer, but we so often try to be self-sufficient, we avoid asking for help - and sometimes we don't ask for help from God quickly enough.

There are tons of good books on the Christian market to help and encourage. Philip Yancey has written several, and there are more out there.

And I still believe thankfulness can help. If we focus more on what is going right, and what is good in life - and there is always something good, no matter how bad everything seems to be - if we focused on that daily, thanked God for those things, I believe that can help a lot - and that is something I am still working on.

I have probably done a jumbled mess of getting my thoughts out there. I have a play list on my Itunes labeled "songs of encouragement." Any song I have that really has a good message of encouragement, gets shuffled to that playlist, and I play that playlist more than any other. Sometimes music can just go in one ear and out the other, but one song started playing tonight, and when it was done, I hit the back arrow, and played it again. Then again. Think I am going on 15 or more plays.

I remember the day I bought the CD. The artist is Susie Luchsinger, sister to Reba McIntyre. This song was #3 on the CD and I was driving along, crying my eyes out. I hit repeat several times that day also, and like that day, as I listened to the song this evening, I found tears again coming to my eyes.

The song has three verses, and is the kind of song I love - a "story song." Verse 1 talks about a young man in rehab for the third time, yet his mother still prays for him. Verse 2 talks about a separated couple, and their daughter who won't give up hope for the marriage, and verse 3 addresses peace, and for all three, and for any situation, the song reminds me - and anyone else who listens to it, that "there's still hope."

I found the song on Youtube. It isn't an official music video, but one someone made. Even if you don't like Southern Gospel/Country Gospel, give it a listen. It just might bless and encourage you also. I love the line that says "it's early to give up." How true.


There's Still Hope (Susie Luchsinger)

Verse 1
A twenty year old boy
He's staring out the window
It's a rainy day and his future don't look bright
The third time in rehab
Folks back home say "Ain't it sad,
He could have done so much with his life"
But his mama keeps on praying every night

Verse 2
An eleven year old girl
Is putting on her ball cleats
At the little league park on Friday night
Softball ain't her favorite sport
But she's not playing for the score
You see her daddy moved out last July
But he still sits with Mama every Friday night

Verse 3
There's a little boy in Jerusalem
He takes off running through the hills
Sometimes he forgets the lines of hate
He sees another boy from the other side
There's one thing running through their minds
Wouldn't it be fun if we could play
As their mamma's rush to grab them
For a moment, their eyes say

Chorus
There's still hope
It's early to give up
The devil's cheering, but so what
There's an angel saying, "no you don't"
Another day, another chance
The strength to change the circumstance
It's alive
If one heart holds on
There's still hope


Being a Jospeh..more thoughts

Since I blogged about Joseph the other day, he has been on my mind a lot, and I got to thinking about how bad off he had it, and we complain so easily, and get upset with God if everything isn't just prefect in our lives. I think one of the reasons God put the stories of Joseph and others in the Bible, is for role models. And to show us if they made it, we can. In my other post about him, I concentrated on how he handled temptation. I have a few more things about him, which even if it helps no one else, helps me.

1) He was obedient. He knew his brothers hated him, yet when his father asked him to go to his brothers to check up on them, he willingly went. And we know how that ended.

2) He had self control. As I stared before, I am sure it wasn't easy to turn away a beautiful woman, but he did. And as a result, God used him to save a lot of people.

3) He was trustworthy. After being thrown into prison because of Poitphar's wife's false accusations, he was put in charge of all of the other prisoners.

4) He was patient. It seems that he was in prison at least for two years, for after he interpreted the chief butler's dream, and he was restored to his position, two years passed before he remembered his promise to help Joseph.

5) He was wise. After he interpreted Pharoah's dream, he told what to do to save the country from famine. Obviously, God told him, but I'd still say he was wise.

6) He was forgiving. Can you imagine it. He was the second most powerful man in Egypt - in that region. His brothers, the very men who sold him into slavery were in his presence. He had the power to throw them in prison, even kill them. But he forgave.

We all have our fights and hardships, and sometimes it seems we have more than our share. Yet, none of us have gone through what Joseph did. Sold into slavery by his own family members, falsely accused of attempted rape, falsely imprisoned. How would we hold up under that? We can't handle it if people aren't friendly enough at church, or if the preacher leaves we like so much - how on earth could we stand up to real problems?

I can name the date and place where I had to truly learn to forgive. Something not many people in my life know about. May 8, 2003. I don't think I ever hurt so much. I wanted to die. I couldn't sleep right for months. The people involved never have asked forgiveness to this day. Did I forgive them? It was hard, but I think I truly did. Sure, I spent a lot of time imagining ways to get even, wishing all sorts of bad things, yet I did forgive. One of them is even on my facebook friends - I have 183, so don't try to figure out who it is. :-)


Jesus should be our ultimate role model, who we strive to be more like above all others, yet I think it does us good to look at some of these Bible characters, realize what they went through - before Calvary ever happened - and they kept true and made it. Be a Joseph? Worth striving for.

Loved, Stories of Forgiveness


This book interested me as soon as I saw it. Loved, Stories of Forgiveness. Stories of young people who have been prodigals, messed up their lives, yet found their way to God, or back to God. I will admit I would have enjoyed the book more if it were men and women represented in the book, but they are all women, which seems to make it a woman's book, but we can all use the message of the book - and maybe they will do one for men - good idea!

Rebecca St James, popular & successful Christian Contemporary Artist, is the

general editor for the book. The book has six sections: Identity Crises, Addictions, Family Problems, Friends, Man Trouble, and Faith Crises. Each section starts out with "In the beginning" and has a woman from the Bible to start off the section. Rahab, Eve, and others, then seven stories about seven different women follow in that section.

The stories vary. Abortions, abuse, self-abuse, drinking, drugs, sex. The young women in this book went bad, yet they all found their way back to God. The stories are heartbreaking, but also full of hope. They show the truth that no matter how bad we are, no matter how far we have gone, God will forgive, and still love us. A message we all need to hear.

Ms. James starts the book out with a foreword. In it, she tells of an illustration a friend did with her about God's love. He sat down by her with an empty waste basket and a water bottle. He began pouring the water into the waste basket, and told her to try to grasp the water, but she only got wet fists. No water was retained by her grasping hands. He than began to pour again, and this time told her to cup her hands together under the water. This time, her hands held the water and it began to run over.

A realization came to her. Her hands were in a position of receiving, instead of doing. They were open palms, instead of clenched fists. And this brought fulness, to the point of brimming over.

She then writes, "This is the way it is with God's love. For many years, my walk with God centered around my performance. If I was doing what I thought I needed to do spiritually, then God and I were "good." And if I wasn't, then He was disappointed in me. I was grasping at God's love for me, rather than receiving it. I was trying to earn His love rather than graciously taking it and living for Him out of gratefulness for His goodness."

She has more good things to say, but that is all I will put here. If you struggle with believing God's love, read this book. It is great.

Mystery of The Missing Watch

I'm not in my second childhood, but got a juvenile fiction book to review. The Double Cousins And The Mystery of The Missing Watch. Written by Miriam Jones Bradley and available from Winepress Publishing. Double cousins are when siblings marry siblings, so the main characters of the book are "double cousins." Max & Carly, age ten, and Chad & Molly, age eight, plus the older teenager, Dorie.

The five of them are staying with their grandparents' ranch for their annual visit, and in addition to the chores, they also find a mystery to solve. Actually two mysteries. Several years before, their grandfather's grandfather's twin brother headed West, never to be heard from. Can the kids figure out what happened to the missing twin, all these years later?


Added to their mystery is the new ranch hand, Slim. He seems awfully mysterious and seems to keep to himself a lot. Then Max finds something in Slim's room that turns their sleuthing onto him.


Even though the book is geared for kids, I'd say 10-12 or so, I enjoyed the book. The outcome was a bit predictable, but then, I am an adult, and the average kid reading it may not see the outcome as quickly.


This book would be terrific for kids. It is Christian, and the author does not shy away from Christian content. In addition, the kids are innocent kids, not the hip kind often portrayed in even Christian books. These kids aren't obsessed with make-up, clothes, and popularity. They are focused on doing what is right, and solving a mystery along the way.


If you are looking for not just clean books for your kids, but a book that focuses on the right things, check out this author. I am guessing that is is the first in what may be a series.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

In God We Still Trust

really good blog post on "In God We Still Trust": http://prairiebren.blogspot.com/2009/08/in-god-we-still-trust.html

Friday, August 14, 2009

Funny

ran into an amusing story on a blog about a guy who tried to hold the door for a woman - worth reading: http://billycoffey.blogspot.com/2009/08/at-mall.html

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Chicana, A Mexican Recipe

We are having this for supper, and yes, it is something I have made myself - very tasty!

Stew meat....depends on how many you want to make, I'd say around a pound (recipe doesn't say!)

1 8 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped (med size)
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped - or any hot pepper - as many as hotness desired
Salt & pepper to taste

Brown stew meat in small amount of oil in a saucepan

Add the rest of the ingredients
Simmer on low for 1 1/2 hours

Put on soft taco shells with tomato, cheese, lettuce, etc
We also make a Mexican rice dish that we eat on it too

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Who fights harder........

This is one of those posts that I have no idea how long it will be. It isn't intended to be long. Regardless, if you are reading this, I'd like your input, if I can get across in an intelligent way what I am trying to say.

Life has been tremendously discouraging in the last several months. I wouldn't even want to list everything I am dealing with, but believe me, it is a lot.

That said, the devil of course is taking advantage of my problems and hammers constantly. I struggle to truly believe God cares and loves me - life-long issue - and it seems God is just letting me flounder and get more discouraged.

Here is what I'd like input on. It seems to me, from recent experiences, and over the years - that the devil fights for our soul harder than God does. Satan throws everything he has at us - for me, it is throwing everything he has to try to convince me that my lifelong fears just might be right - that God doesn't care. The harder he fights, the less it seems God does. Why does God not fight harder for us? Or does He, and I just don't see it?

Some would say He died on the cross, what more does He have to do - and in a sense, I get that - yet, it seems He stands back and lets people slide closer and closer to giving up - why doesn't He step in and fight from the other side?

Just some random thoughts from the discouraged, but I would appreciate some input on that question...does Satan fight harder for our souls than God does? What do you think?

Talley Trio...Songs You Know By Heart


The Talley Trio has gotten their listeners involved in their last two recordings, a neat idea. This one, Songs You Know By Heart, is the most recent. Several months back, they announced that they were doing a CD of classic Gospel songs, and asked for suggestions, and they got a lot. They also had a deal on this CD. If you pre-purchased it, you could download the album before the CD even came out, and still get the actual CD. Since I actually had money back then, I took advantage of that, and now have the CD downloaded. The release of the CD is next month some time, I believe.

There is a pretty good song selection on this album. They kick it off with Amazing Grace. They attempted, and succeeded in a different and pleasing arrangement of this favorite hymn. Then there is The Promise, a newer Gospel song - good choice for the CD. Following that, the old song Just A Little Talk With Jesus. out to a different tune and arrangement - I prefer the classic tune, but still a good track.

I am far from being a fan of a capella music - bring on the pianos, guitars, drums, etc, but there are two a capella numbers. Pass Me Not, nice arrangement if you like no instruments. After it, is a song He's So Good to Me, a toe-tapper. I wasn't familiar with the song, but I sure like it, and they do an excellent job on it.

Hold On is the next song. It sounds vaguely familiar, and is a great song reminding us to hold on, for Jesus will be there. Another uptempo song that I never heard is It's Jesus. Great song and message.
The eighth song is the best on the album. An old Gospel classic, How Big Is God. Debra Talley really shines on this song. They do an awesome job on it, and the arrangement is fantastic. I have listened to this song twenty-two times since Sunday morning. How big is God. How big and vast, His vast domain. To try to tell, these lips can only start. He's big enough to rule this mighty universe, yet small enough to live within my heart. We used to sing the chorus in church when I was growing up. I miss singing it.

The other a capella song is next, He's A Personal Savior. I know I am biased against a capella, but I think it was a bad choice to do a capella. I think they could have pulled it off well with music.
Oh, What a Reason is a great song the Talleys did on their third CD. Not sure I would have recorded it again, but it is worth hearing, and doesn't detract from the album. Another song recorded again, is If It Had Not Been. Originally recorded when the Talley Trio was the Talleys, back in 1985, the new recording of the song is top-notch. Good choice.

Ending the 12-song CD is the classic He's Alive. I've always viewed this as a "guy song" - it is supposed to be Simon Peter singing it, but Lauren does a fantastic job on it. Move over, Dolly Parton, she beats you on it. Great arrangement, and overall, a great CD.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Talley Trio, Life Goes On

(I had started another blog to review books and CDs on, and have never done much with it. I am transporting those to here, so the most of the posts posted today have are old. I want to close the other blog, but wanted to keep the posts.)

This review is of the Talley Trio's new CD, Life Goes On. To be honest, they are one group I have gone off and on with interest over the years, but their last few CDs have been really top-notch, so I have had renewed interest in them. This CD especially was of interest to me. They started a new site especially to include people on the making of the project. They posted rough drafts of the songs as they worked on them via youtube videos, got CD name ideas from people, and even opinions on the groups' photos. I chipped in a few suggestions for the CD title, but mine weren't taken, but they did pick a good one. :-)

The CD starts out with an anthem type song, Realms of Glory Bright featuring Lauren. It is well done, and worth listening to over and over.

I've Never Been Loved Like You features Debra and Lauren, and is a beautiful ballad type, talking about God's love, and how we have never been loved like He loves.

Winds of This World is a bouncy song sung in Lauren's "soul" style. I like this song, and it talks about God's protection from Satan, even when the winds are blowing strong.

Calvary and Amazing Grace is #4 on the disc, and is my favorite cut. The song could be better titled "Thanks For Calvary and Amazing Grace". This is a slow song featuring Debra, has great lyrics, a tune that is pleasant on the ears, and is usually the first song I listen to from the CD. Guess it should have been the first track. :-)

I Will Sing Of My Redeemer starts out with an acappella version of the hymn by the same title, and also is featured later in the song. This is another favorite. It is basically another way of saying what the hymn says, but is still a great song with a nice bouncy tune.

My Hope Is In The Lord, track #6, features Roger, who though he isn't featured as much, does a great job when he is. This song starts out talking about Job, and all he had going wrong, but Job still said that his hope was in the Lord. The second verse comes up to modern times talking about a young man who just got bad news about his cancer, and his reply is the same as Job's, that his hope is in the Lord. Another slow song, and done very well, with a great reminder of where our hope is.

Comfort Me is a slow song. It has a good message asking God to comfort when all is going well. This song hasn't made a great impression on me yet, but it does have good lyrics.


Jesus You Are is another one I rank among the best on the CD. It is a fast & bouncy song that simply lists several things Jesus is: our King, our hiding place, etc. This pretty much features the whole group.

Hallelujah, Praise The Lamb is a remake of a song the Talleys did way back when Kirk was in the group instead of Lauren. I don't want to be too negative about the song, for it is well done, but compared to the original recording, it pales in comparison. The orginal had a choir and better arrangement. Lauren does OK on it, but they should have picked a different Talleys' song to remake in my humble opinion.

Life Goes On ends the CD, and is another I have to call a favorite. The song talks about how rough life can be, and how hopeless things can look, but..........."Life goes on, there is never an end, what was dead lives again, Jesus promised that life goes on for the ones who believe wil live eternally, so don't fear the great unknown, remember that life goes on". Awesome song, great album.

Jim Brady, Solo

(I had started another blog to review books and CDs on, and have never done much with it. I am transporting those to here, so the most of the posts posted today have are old. I want to close the other blog, but wanted to keep the posts.)


The CD I have been waiting for finally is out. Jim Brady, solo. The other 2 members of the Booth Brothers, Ronnie & Michael Booth, came out with their solo CDs early this year, and I was hoping, and even sent an email to the Booth Brothers saying so -that Jim Brady would also do a solo CD. I am sure I had nothing to do with the idea, and that it was probably already in the works.
The CD comes with printed lyrics and Jim's notes on the songs, and a DVD of the making of the CD. It also has 12 songs - I love it when an artist does more than the normal quota of 10 songs. All 12 were written or co-written by Jim.
The CD kicks off with the fast tempo song "The Sun Will Shine Again". The song has a great message of hope for those who are going through a dark time, reminding them things will get better.
"Never A Doubt" was written about Jim's growing up years, how God always provided, that there was never a doubt that He would. Even though the song is personal from his standpoint, it could be about a lot of families that stayed true to God in spite of life and what it throws at families.
"Just As I Am" is a great duet with Michael English. Not the well known hymn often used in altar calls, the song points out that God takes each of us "Just As I Am" and forgives us. We don't have to be someone else, or be anything for Him to save us, and that He loves me too much to leave me "just as I am".
Next up is a cool song, "It Takes Faith". The song spends most of the time pointing out how everything in life takes faith, from driving a car, to not believing that there is anything beyond this life, but says at the end of all this that you gotta have faith in the right thing.
"Never Let You Go" is a nice song for couples, and is one he wrote for his wife.
"On My Way" is another fast tempo song that talks about what is in store for us some day when faith becomes a reality, that I am not there yet, but I am "on my way"
"Don't Ever Miss The Chance" is a song that will make you appreciate the people in your life you are closest to, and reminds us to never miss a chance to tell them "I love you", for we don't always get to tell people good-bye. Life is so uncertain, we don't know when we part ways from someone what could happen to them, or to us, after we part. Not necessarily a religious-sounding song, but makes a good point.
"River In The Rain" is another great song, starts off fast, and keeps that tempo the whole song. Gives the simple idea that after a dry spell, our hearts are dying for water, and when the rain comes, how refreshing it is to come out of that dry spell.
The 9th track, "My Sister", was written by Jim Brady for his sisters, 5 of them, to say what they mean to him. He had no intention of it being on this CD, but was urged to include it. I am glad he did. I never had a brother, and wanted one badly, but am thankful for my 2 sisters. The song is a nice tribute to any sister.
My favorite song on the CD is "Good to Be Free". The style sounds like Rascal Flatts or Keith Urban, bouncy country feel to it. Awesome song. Talks about what it is like to be free after being locked up in chains, which is what we all were before Christ came along.
"To Know You More" is a slow song that really puts me under conviction. I need to do what the song says, make my utmost longing to know God more. None of us know Him as well or deeply as we could, and I could really use work in that area.
The CD ends with the "bonus track", a song written by Jim and recorded by Gold City and the Talley Trio, "Truth Is Marching On". This song is awesome. I first heard it by the Talley Trio, and they do a great job on it. I wasn't sure how a soloist would pull it off, even the guy who wrote it, but he does an excellent job, helped by his back-up vocalists, who added a lot to the CD. No studio vocalists here: Marshall Hall of the Gaither Vocal Band, Terry Franklin, formerly of the GVB, Melissa Brady, 2 of the Martins.
In my opinion, Jim Brady is one of the greatest singers and song writers in Southern Gospel Music today. He rounds out the Booth Brothers and blends with them to make an awesome trio, sounds great with his wife, and sounds great here on his first solo CD. Great job, Jim.

Jim & Melissa Brady..Hymns & Spiritual Songs

(I had started another blog to review books and CDs on, and have never done much with it. I am transporting those to here, so the most of the posts posted today have are old. I want to close the other blog, but wanted to keep the posts.)





I would say Jim & Melissa Brady have been busy lately. It wasn't all that long ago that there was a new Booth Brothers CD, then Jim's solo CD and this CD just came out this month. Appropriately titled, Hymns & Spiritual Songs, the CD has 5 songs I would classify as hymns, and 6 that would fall into the spiritual songs category. The song selection is great for this CD, most of them being favorites of mine, and Jim & Melissa do a tremendous job on the songs. All back-up vocals are done by them, and the end result is a CD of mostly famliar songs that is worth listening to.


"Wondferful Words of Life" starts out. Melissa takes the lead on this hymn. The arrangement is beautiful and simple, and a great way to start out the CD.


The Andrae Crouch song "My Tribute (To God Be The Glory" seems a little slower than I remember, but they pull it off well. I don't think I have this song anywhere on a CD, so it was a nice addition to my music library.


Jim takes the lead on "I'll Fly Away", and they really get up and go with it, especially on the last verse. Lots of guitars on this, and a very rousing version of a great Gospel song.


"The Greatest Wonder" is one of the two new songs on the CD, and is from the pen of Jim & Melissa. This slow song, done without any drums, is a beautiful song that talks about the greatest wonder is a sinner being redeemed.


One of my favorite hymns that I rarely hear - I don't think it is in our church hymnal, is "In The Sweet By & By". This recording has a nice "bouncy" feel to it. The Bradys blend well on the first verse, leaving Jim to solo the second. Possibly the best I have ever heard this song done.


Among my top all time favorite songs is "He Looked Beyond My Fault", most likely Dottie Rambo's best song she penned. Melissa takes the lead and shows how capable of a singer she is. They do an awesome job on this great classic.


Next up they pick up another Andrae Crouch song, "Soon and Very Soon", and really take off on it. You could almost imagine a black choir singing along. With their own back-up, the song takes on quite that soulful sound. They include on of the verses which is not heard very often. I really like how they did the song, but it isn't something you'd want to try in a very conservative church. :-)


"Cast All Your Care" is a simple and slow song written and sung by Melissa. The song is simply about casting all our cares on Jesus. Pretty song.


Melissa takes the lead on "Leaning On the Everlasting Arms", another favorite of mine. The song has the bouncy feel it should, and they sing it great.


"At the Cross" is sung a little slower than I like, but they still do well on this great hymn of the church.


I normally don't care to hear songs done with just the piano. I like a lot of instrumentation, but they close the CD off with Jim doing a solo on one of the greatest hymns ever written: "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" done mostly with just the piano for accompaniment, and an acoustic guitar filling in some chords here and there for the second and third verses. He sings it simply, and well. Even with just the 2 instruments, it is one of the best done songs on the CD.

Christmas, Gaither Vocal Band Style

(I had started another blog to review books and CDs on, and have never done much with it. I am transporting those to here, so the most of the posts posted today have are old. I want to close the other blog, but wanted to keep the posts.)


It may seem early to be listening to Christmas music, but I have been looking forward to this CD releasing for several months, and as cold as it has been getting, it doesn't seem that far out to be listening to Christmas music.
Gaither.com was running a pre-sale special. If you bought the CD from them before the release date, you got an extra track, 12 instead of the 11 on the one you can buy in the store. I actually started to go through with that, until I found that added to the $13.99 for the CD, they were going to charge $6.95 to mail it. (Where on earth all the extra comes in that cost, I have no idea - I mailed a CD for $1.68 last week!) Anyway, I decided one more song wasn't worth the end cost of $21, so I bought it at my local bookstore for $13.99, minus a 20% coupon. So take that, Bill Gaither!
I don't consider this CD as good as their other Christmas CD, "It's Still The Greatest Story"(1998), but if you like the GVB, and quartet music, it is worth the $13.99.
The first track is a very nice arrangement of "Winter Wonderland", going on to an a capella version of "O Little Town Of Bethlehem'. In spite of this being done with no music, it is actually decent to listen to. I normally abhor vocals with no music, and skip them. In my opinion, they should do a whole CD with music & vocals, then make one without the music for people who enjoy that............. :-)
Track 3 picks up with "I'll Be Home for Christmas", followed by a very well done "Oh Holy Night". Nothing extraordinary about this cut, but they do a great job on it.
Next up, they do a great arrangement of "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day", not a song you hear recorded as much as some. I was pretty impressed with this cut.
"Christmas In the Country" is one of the newer non-traditional songs on the CD, penned by the Gaithers and a couple others. This is a cool, slower song that talks about some of the Christmas traditions we all enjoy. I have heard this song in a medley, but they came up with a few more verses to cut it by itself on here, and it makes a great addition.
They pull off the classic "White Christmas" very well. One of the nicer and easier to listen to versions I have heard.
Next up, is another a capella track. Sigh. This is a medley of familiar carols: "Silent Night", "Angels We Have Heard On High", and "How Great Our Joy". I wasn't as impressed with this as "O Little Town of Bethlehem", but if you are an a capella fan, you will like it, I am sure.
"My Heart Will Be Your Bethlehem" isn't a very new song, written in 91' by the Gaithers & J.D. Miller, but the GVB do it well. A nice song asking God to make our heart his home. A Christmas song of consecration.
The Gaithers also penned the next song "Come And See What's Happening" (In the Barn"). An uptempo narrative from the innkeeper's prospective, and a neat song.
The guys close out the album with one of the prettiest versions of "Away In a Manger" that I have ever heard.
When I was working at the Christian bookstore in Salem, their other Christmas CD was still out-selling all other Christmas CDs sold there by quite a bit, even 6 years after the release. This CD is a great CD, and has some great songs on it, mostly traditional ones. In my opinion, it pales in comparison to the other, although having 2 new members, Marshall Hall & Wes Hampton, has not hurt their sound and harmony at all.

Every Now And Then

(I had started another blog to review books and CDs on, and have never done much with it. I am transporting those to here, so the most of the posts posted today have are old. I want to close the other blog, but wanted to keep the posts.)


I think I stated in my first post on this blog that I may review books on here also, so here goes.
Karen Kingsbury is my favorite author. She has a way of telling a story and making a point at the same time. In her fiction books, she has dealt with forgiveness, depression, marital unfaithfulness, even pornography, among other issues. I am not giving fiction the same importance as the Bible, or even church, but Jesus himself often used a story to get a point across, and many is the time I have put down a Karen Kingsbury book after reading it, feeling a new determination that I could make it. God can use anything to encourage and/or convict, and I believe that Karen Kingsbury is being used of God with the stories she writes.
This book, Every Now And Then, is book three in her 911 series, a look at fictional characters directly influenced by the events of 911. This book takes up now, 7 years after the tragedy. Alex Brady is the main character. Seven years ago, he lost his dad/best friend among the other rescue workers. At age 18, he became a different person, and shut God and everyone else.
To combat the bitter emptiness in his life, he set out to rid the world of all criminals that crossed his path, terrorist, or just local criminals up to no good. Working as a deputy with his K9 companion, Bo, he tried to avenge his father's death by putting away men like the ones who had been responsible for his father's death.
I won't give too much away, but the story shows how someone can change from a person who trusts God, but faced with a tragedy, gives up on God. It also shows how that same person can come back to God, and that He truly never gives up on us. I personally think this is one of her best books, but that could be because the book spoke to me. The plot is great, there is drama and excitement, and even danger and romance. What more could you ask for?