Saturday, January 30, 2010
This CD is unique in two ways: it is the first CD that they have made since their fifteen-year-old daughter, Morgan, joined them, making it a trio instead of a long-time duet. It is also the first CD they made since Sheri's battle with breast cancer, and some of the songs reflect that battle.
I think it is a great CD. It has a total of 13 songs, three more than the norm - and I love it when a group does that.
The Sun Will Shine Again starts of the album, and what a neat beginning - has a weather forecaster talking about more rain coming, then it sounds like someone changes the station and Jeff & Sheri launch into this song - great song about no matter how dark it is, better days will come.
The second song on the CD is the best cut on the CD, one that I keep listening to over and over - Born To Climb- in fact I posted the lyrics on a blog post earlier - here. The words are awesome, great tune - just an all-around awesome song.
Love Remains is another song with some great words - If your heart falls to pieces, and everything's stripped away. When your solid ground is shaken, love remains. And if f you run out of reasons, and all your faith starts to fade, there's one thing that will not change - love remains.
Workin' On A Road is an old Lester Flatt song - a fun song. They brought in country singers Marty Stuart & Connie Smith to help them out on it, and it turned out great - a more bluegrass style song.
On every CD Jeff & Sheri has recorded, they record a love song. This one, I Know I Love You, features Sheri and names a lot of things that she doesn't know, and then delivers the line that is the title of the song. Pretty cool love song.
A second "mountain" song on the CD is Over The Mountain, one of the more lively songs on the CD, talks about not being over the mountain yet, but being able to see the other side - a great encouraging song.
High Valley, a trio of brothers whose CDs I have, recorded I Get To on their last CD. Jeff and Sheri actually do a better job on it, in my opinion. Not a strong spiritual song, it talks about how growing up we had to do certain things - go to church, help dad mow the yard - but now that we are adults we don't have to, we get to - a neat song.
Morgan is featured on her second song on the CD, I Need You More Today, a song the Bishops did way back in 1990. She does a great job on it, and the song was worth hearing again- a reminder that we need God more today than we did yeseterday.
I Don't Want to Cry is a kind of bluesy tune, and a song telling God that we don't want to be alone, but just want to hold His hand - another great song.
I keep thinking I have heard the 12th song on the CD before, but I have no idea why - In The Name of Jesus. A nice, upbeat song about what has been done - and can be done - in the name of Jesus.
The last song on the CD isn't my favorite, a bit too slow and morose, but it does have a good thought and message - Hear My Heart. It asks God to hear my heart when there are no words to pray, when life hurts so bad all we can do is sit in silence.
This is one of the best CDs Jeff & Sheri have put out in a long time. The addition of Morgan was a great thing to do and gives them an even greater sound. If you enjoy a country/bluegrass sound, and have never listened to them, give them a try.
The whole CD can be previewed on their website - the preview starts automatically when you go on their site: jeffandsherieaster.com.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
A new song I really like:
Born To Climb (Joel Lindsey, and Wayne Haun - recorded by Jeff & Sheri Easter)
Right now you feel like you'd rather be anywhere else
Than here where you are
Cause life has a way of arranging your plans
And the journey you're on is so hard
Oh the mountain is high
And the road up the side is much steeper than you thought it'd be
You're out of breath and scared half to death
You won't have the faith to believe
But grace, sweet grace has strengthened you time after time
So don't be afraid of the mountain
Cause friend, you were born to climb
God has not given a spirit of fear
Or a burden that you cannot bear
And just at the moment you feel hope is fading
Behold the Lord standing right there
You have been called to be more
Than you were before
Just set your sights
On Heavenly heights
And trust in the Lord
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Nothing ever happens in the small town of Marlo . . . until the residents begin seeing their private conversations posted online for everyone to read. Then it’s neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, as paranoia and violence escalate. The police scramble to identify the person responsible for the posts and pull the plug on the Website before it destroys the town. But what responsibility do the people of the town have for the words they say when they think no one is listening? Life and death are in the power of the tongue.
I have read books by Rene Gutteridge before, and a lot of her books are lighthearted, funny mysteries. This one is more serious in nature, but was still an excellent read. The book starts out with someone hanging herself, mostly due to cruel words she overheard about herself, and then goes into the main story. Someone in the town is posting people's private conversations on the internet for everyone to read. No one knows who this "listener" is, and the longer it goes on, the more trouble it causes.
More than one person becomes suspect, and when the guilty person was revealed, I was more than surprised, I was shocked.
This is more than just a mystery/suspense book - it shows how serious our words are, how people can be hurt by them, and hopefully by the end of the book, the reader will be more determined to be more careful about their own words.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
This multi-voiced, scripted dramatization of the New King James Version (NKJV) features a star-studded cast of actors, an original music score, and incredible feature film quality sound effects. This world-class production creates a dramatic audio theater experience that makes you feel like you’re really there with Jesus and His disciples. Listen in your car, on your MP3 player, or with your family or small group to gain a new perspective of the Bible.
The cast includes Jim Caviezel as Jesus, Stacy Keach as Paul, Louis Gossett, Jr. as John, Ernie Hudson as Peter, Michael York as Narrator, Kimberly Williams-Paisley as Mary, Mother of Jesus, Marisa Tomei as Mary Magdalene, and many others.
The Word of Promise® New Testament Audio Bible is a 20-CD set and includes a bonus “Behind-the-Scenes” DVD.
I have listened to the Bible on CD before, but I can honestly say this is the best one I have ever heard. This is not simply different people reading the New Testament. It is much more than that. Using the New King James version of the Bible, mulitple people "act" out the verses. They use voice inflections and really pour themselves into the attitude of the Bible person they are speaking for.
There is also a background of music - it isn't loud, and does not detract from the speaking parts, and sound effects. I was listening to the CDs as I did something on line, and at one point, the verses were when Jesus was at the seashore, and they had the sound of water/waves. I started to minimize my screen so that I could see what was going on, then remembered I was not watching a DVD, but listening to the Bible.
I am of the opinion that we need to do things within reason to make our Bible reading different, and fresh - a different Bible version occasionally, etc - and something like these CDs are a great example of that. We still need to read our Bibles, but what a great way to get our Bible "reading" in a new and fresh way. I highly recommend The Word of Promise Bible on CD.
The New Testament Word of Promise contains 21 CDs and one DVD, and has over 21 hours of audio.
The Word of Promise Bible/New Testament is available from Thomas Nelson Publishers.
The CDs were provided by Thomas Nelson for me to review.
*the commitment of ordinary people from Noah to Nathanael
*the faith and folly of heroes such as Abraham, Solomon, and Peter
*the power of prayer from the lips of saints and sinners
*the depth of trust exemplified by Moses, Deborah, and Mary
*the challenge of Jesus’ teaching to reach for a higher standard
F. Lagard Smith’s observations and insights about the Bible provide readers with a rich experience. Whether read as a complement to The Daily Bible® or as an independent journey, these remarkable meditations reveal the purpose of a life built on God’s Word.
I haven't read the whole way through this devotional, but I like what I have read. The devotionals are based on the Bible, in order of the books of the Bible, so this devotional might be best used either with the Daily Bible, or used when reading through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
The devotionals go from January 1 to December 31, and each devotional starts out with a verse, or verses, then goes on to address the verse, and then goes on to show what that verse means for us. If you're looking for a Bible-based devotional that is intended to go along with a daily Bible reading plan, then this devotional is for you.
F. LaGard Smith is the author of more than 25 books. He is the arranger and narrator of The Daily Bible and its companion volume, The Daily Bible Devotional. Smith does much of his writing in the quiet Cotswold countryside of England, which inspired his own bestselling reflective journal, Meeting God in Quiet Places. In the States, Smith has spent a lifetime teaching both law and religion at Christian universities.
Thanks to Harvest House for the review copy.
The Daily Bible Devotional is available for purchase from Harvest House Publishers.
Monday, January 25, 2010
But while personal profiles are revealing, they hint at even larger truths. They uncover our desire for identity, our craving to be known, and our need to belong.
Jesse Rice believes that Facebook offers a profound look at our deepest needs. Join Jesse as he explores social networking and its impact on culture and the church. Filled with fresh perspectives and provocative questions, The Church of Facebook encourages us to pursue authentic relationships with God and those around us.
This book has a lot of interesting facts about facebook, how it started up, how many people use it, etc, but the book isn't just about facebook. It is about our need for connection, for community.
The author starts off by relating a couple of experiments that have been done about our need for connection, then jumps into the internet aspect of it. It is an interesting read, and left me realizing how important connection and community are, and that those aren't necessarily found on online social networks such as facebook, though those aren't necessarily a bad thing.
The Church of Facebook is available from David C Cook Publishing.
Thanks to Audra from B&B Media for the review copy.
Recently, on my own blog I wrote a post called “I See Dead People” all about my near-obsession with watching people. Here, on Mark’s blog, I’d like to talk a little about my secret to creating characters reader’s care about.
There are three simple things any writer can do to sharpen his or her skills in writing believable characters that draw the reader in, characters that demand to be remembered long after the last page of the book is turned. Or, if you're not a writer, three simple things anyone can do to develop a better understanding of people, what drives them, what motivates them, what scares them . . . you get the picture.
Here they are:
Watch people. Find a place that is populated—your local mall, movie theatre on a Friday or Saturday night, auction house, or even supermarket—and watch people. You can sit in one place or just mill around looking like you’re one of the crowd. Take note of facial expressions, hand gestures, personal space, postural changes, gait patterns, body shapes and sizes, hair styles, and anything else you notice. Try to read the body language you see and concoct scenarios to accompany it. Use those non-verbal cues you see to get past the exterior and catch a glimpse of the person’s heart, motivations, fears, insecurities, and weaknesses.
Oh, I know this all sounds really creepy, like a lesson on how to be a successful psychopathic stalker, but it really isn’t. Well, maybe it is, but it’s innocent and for a good cause. In order to really understand people you have to hear what they’re not telling you.
Listen to people. Okay, so while you’re watching those mall shoppers or movie-goers, listen in on their conversations. Yes, it’s eavesdropping. Get over it. No harm, no foul. You’re not doing it for evil purposes, you’re doing “research.” And research is scientific. So if anyone ever catches you dropping in on their conversation just say, “I, um, I’m a researcher. A scientist.” Then walk away as fast as you can and don’t look back. No, seriously, don’t make it obvious. But listen to their tone, their choice of words, their voice inflections. Do they speak “good English” or do they butcher the language? Are they loud-mouthed and obnoxious or do they respect that they’re in a public setting and keep their voices low? Do they talk fast and furiously, like they’re trying to keep up with some conveyor belt feeding them words or are they methodical and thoughtful with their speech? Listen for accents, colloquialisms, slang, and the sort. These are all things that will tell you more about the person than they care to reveal.
Talk to people. Now this is the one that’s most uncomfortable for some of us. I’m an introvert by nature so the first two are easy. I just blend in and do my, um, research. This is the one where you have to actually engage people. Start conversations and begin asking questions. Then just talk, you know, like two people do. Back and forth, sharing information. And while you’re talking pay attention to the first two points, what their body is saying and what they are actually saying. The exchanges in a real conversation can give you a deeper look into the heart of a person. If you’re paying attention.
So that’s my recipe for becoming a full-fledged, card-carrying psychopathic stalker. Or, if you like the sweeter version, my recipe for gaining insight into the nature and behaviors of people.
So, go find a nice populated place and . . . start stalking.
Mike Dellosso is the author of three books, The Hunted, Scream, and the soon-to-be-released Darlington Woods (May 4). In addition to writing and his "real job", he is also an adjunct professor at Lancaster Bible College in Lancaster, PA. Mike lives in Hanover, PA with his wife, three daughters, and black Lab who follows him around everywhere he goes. Keep up with his thoughts and life at MikeDellosso.com.
That’s the question that sparked a fascinating and, at times, terrifying journey into the heart of the Middle East during the summer of 2008. It was a trip that began in Egypt, passed beneath the steel and glass high rises of Saudi Arabia, then wound through the bullet- pocked alleyways of Beirut and dusty streets of Damascus, before ending at the cradle of the world’s three major religions: Jerusalem.
Tea with Hezbollah combines nail-biting narrative with the texture of rich historical background, as readers join novelist Ted Dekker and his co-author and Middle East expert, Carl Medearis, on a hair-raising journey. They are with them in every rocky cab ride, late-night border crossing, and back-room conversation as they sit down one-on-one with some of the most notorious leaders of the Arab world. These candid discussions with leaders of Hezbollah and Hamas, with muftis, sheikhs, and ayatollahs, with Osama bin Laden’s brothers, reveal these men to be real people with emotions, fears, and hopes of their own. Along the way, Dekker and Medearis discover surprising answers and even more surprising questions that they could not have anticipated—questions that lead straight to the heart of Middle Eastern conflict.
Through powerful narrative Tea With Hezbollah will draw the West into a completely fresh understanding of those we call our enemies and the teaching that dares us to love them. A must read for all who see the looming threat rising in the Middle East.
This was different from Ted Dekker's other books, mainly because this is non-fiction. Dekker and his friend Carl Medearis trek through Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Israel, and other countries in the mid-east, talking to people from the Hamas, and other enemies of the US.
The book was a fascinating read, and Dekker does a great job of portraying what it was like for him to be on enemy territory, wondering if he would make it safely back home.
The main purpose of the book is about loving our enemies, and he tackles that idea pretty well in addition to exciting and fascinating narrative about his travels.
I had a couple of issues with the book - Dekker uses "God" when talking about Allah or God, and they are not the same, and he refers to the "so-called war on terror." I feel he could have been a little more pro-USA and less pro-Muslim in the book and still got his idea of loving our enemies across. It was still an enjoyable read, and a good reminder.
Ted Dekker is the author of many nationally best-selling novels, including Bone Man’s Daughters, The Circle Series, Thr3e, and House. His unique style of storytelling has captured the attention of millions worldwide. Visit him at TedDekker.com and Facebook.com/TedDekker.
Thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah for the review and giveaway copies.
I never received this book, so I did not read it, but here is the info about the book and author:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
A Note From Wanda:
Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a writer. When I was in the second grade, I wrote my first poem about a moth. Luckily, I received encouragement from my teacher. During my teen years, I wrote skits that my church teen group performed during special holidays.
It wasn’t until 1980, that I took a course on writing for children and teenagers. I became serious about a career as an author. Soon after that, I began to write stories, articles, poems, and devotionals, which appeared in a variety of Christian publications. Later, I had 5 books of puppet/ventriloquist scripts published. *These books are currently available by contacting me. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
My first novel was released by Barbour Publishing’s book club, Heartsong Presents, in Dec. 1997. I have now written nearly fifty books, with over 4 million books in print. Many of the novels I've written are Amish-themed.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Life for Kelly McGregor is a daily drudge of driving her overbearing father’s mules along Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Canal. She dreams of one day owning an art gallery where her own drawings and paintings are on display. But these dreams don’t include marriage. . .not after seeing what her father has done to her mother. How then can Mike Cooper, a general store owner, make her realize he is different than her father and wants to support her artistic talent? Will Kelly learn that dreams can walk hand in hand with a love created by God?
If you would like to read the first chapter of Kelly’s Chance , go HERE.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Can you ever get a second chance at your first love?
Jenna Callahan Colby thought she was content. A partner on her father's successful ranch, she is surrounded by family and friends. But she never expected to see Nate Langley back in town--the first guy she ever noticed, the one her father sent away all those years ago.
And she never thought the attraction they felt would be as strong as ever.
Jenna's cowboy has some healing of his own to do, though, after two tours of duty in the armed forces. With the help of good friends, strong faith, and a loving family, he hopes to put the horrors of the past behind him--and become the man Jenna deserves.
I don't read many books that are 100% romance, but I have read books by Sharon Gillenwater before, back in the 90's, and enjoyed them, so I snagged this to review, and was not disappointed.
As far as romance books go, it is a great story, good plot, likable characters, but the author also takes a look at post traumatic stress disorder in men returning from war. The hero of the story, Nate Langley, is one of those. Returning from the war in Iraq, he is trying to have a normal life while battling his own personal war. I enjoyed the book, and also appreciated the author giving a look into what some of our soldiers go through after fighting for our country. And don't get me wrong, this is not an anti-war/anti-military book - far from it.
This is the first book in the Callahans of Texas Series. If you enjoy a good Christian romance, check out Jenna's Cowboy by Sharon Gillenwater.
About the author:
Sharon Gillenwater was born and raised in west Texas, and loves to write about her native state. The author of ten novels, she is a member of ACFW and Romance Writers of America. When she's not writing, she and her husband enjoy spending time with their son, daughter-in-law, and adorable grandson.
Available January 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group
Thanks to Donna from Revell for the review copy.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Harper also hopes to find love in NYC, but when it doesn't happen, she reluctantly signs up to an online matchmaking site. Frustration mounts when the only match Harper is even remotely interested in lives in a remote territory on the opposite coast, thousands of miles away. A faith conversation during her year in Chicago shapes how Harper sees everything. She wants to see God at work in her life, but His ways are mysterious, and she's faced with challenges in the secular world of Broadway. Harper feels like an actress who doesn’t act and a woman in love with someone she's never even seen, but God's about to change all that.
Linked through the contemporary, text message world of internet dating, Harper learns it's possible to care for someone outside her own universe, even when that someone can't be touched, and ultimately how to love. She reaches out through the impersonal world of cyberspace and becomes more aware than ever of God reaching out to her. Sometimes the person farthest away from you, she discovers, is the one who's closest to your heart.
“Screen Play is a story about believing that God can do great things, even when we’re at our weakest,” say Coppernoll. “I hope readers will be swept up in Harper’s story instantly and that their excitement won’t let up until the very last page.”
Chris Coppernoll is the author of six books including Screen Play, A Beautiful Fall and Providence. A national speaker to singles, Chris is also the founder of Soul2Soul, a syndicated radio program airing on 800 outlets in 20 countries. Chris holds a Masters degree from Rockbridge Seminary and is deeply in love with his wife, novelist Christa Parrish.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
(My actual review sis toward the end of the post)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Thrills, mystery, suspense, romance: Margaret penned it all. Nothing wrong with this, except Margaret happened to be writing for the church newsletter. After making the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, her former pastor took her aside and said, "Maybe God's calling you to write fiction."
It turns out God was and Margaret did. She now has more than 20 novels to her credit. In addition, she's written many Christian articles and a non-fiction book. Still, it took a lot of prodding from God before Margaret tried her hand at writing inspirational fiction which led to her Rocky Creek series. "I love writing about characters at different stages of faith," she says of the new direction her writing career has taken, "and I'm here to stay."
Happily married to her real-life hero, Margaret and her husband live in Southern California.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Sarah Prescott has never known a respectable life; just a hardscrabble childhood and brothers who taught her to shoot straight.
Justin Wells left Boston in disgrace, heading out alone on the dusty trail to Texas. But when the once-respected clergyman encounters a feisty redhead in handcuffs with a dying US Marshall at her side, their journey takes a dramatic turn.
His high society expectations and Sarah's outlaw habits clash from the start. With a price on her head and a sweet orphan in tow, Justin and Sarah make the difficult journey toward Rocky Creek. There justice will be meted out hopefully with a portion of grace.
If you would like to read the first chapter of A Lady Like Sarah, go HERE
My getting this book was a mistake - I didn't ask to review it, but I went ahead and read it anyway, and I'm glad I did. Though the book is a romance through and through, I loved it. It was humorous, the characters were colorful and delightful. It is a romance story of the old West, but it was an extrememely entertaining and enjoyable read. I have never read anything by this author, but I have to admit I liked this book so well, I am interested in reading more in the series when it comes out.
Watch the Book Trailer:
January 21, 1981 is a day that my family will never forget. It truly is the day that changed our lives forever. Until that day, we were your average good non-Christian family. My parents weren't bad people - no smoking, drinking, etc - they had just been backsliden for several years and weren't serving God. We went to Sunday school a couple of times a month, never staying for the sermon - Dad was afraid he would be convicted. We even attended a Christian school - my grandmother's doing. This same grandmother was praying that my parents would get back to God at any cost. Those are scary words, and by all appearances, God took her up on it.
It isn't like my parents had no warnings. They had two, that I remember well. The first came in winter of 1980, I think late November. Our family was sound asleep, not knowing that in the living room, one of the logs piled for firewood for the wood burning stove had fallen, and burst a gas pipe that ran close-by, breaking it off, and allowing natural gas to shoot into the room, and fill the house. Something woke my dad - most likely God - and he immediately smelled gas - and a lot of it. The house was full of it. I still remember being awakened - and it wasn't easy in a gas filled house - being bundled up with my sisters and led outside to stand in the snow. Oddly enough, one of the burners was lit on the stove in the kitchen - a miracle that the place didn't blow up.
Warning #2 wasn't quite as outstanding, and happened on Christmas morning, 1980. As we were opening our gifts, someone noticed smoke - the wall in front of the chimney had caught on fire - a small fire, easily put out, and not leaving much damage. It was quickly forgotten about.
Then came January 21, 1981. I was at school, along with my sister Vicki. At some point during the day, shortly after lunch, the principal came to my classroom door, talked with my teacher briefly, then called me out into the hall. I figured I was in trouble - again, but then we went to my sister's classroom and called her out also. As our teachers stood there, he informed us that our house had burnt to the ground. Everything was gone. Thankfully, no one had been home.
My mom was there to take us home - but there was no home anymore. She drove the distance from New Bethlehem, PA to Rimersburg, PA. As we drove down the driveway, we could see the barn standing, untouched, but the large farmhouse was no more. Just a chimney sticking up above the ruins of the house and everything we had owned. I was just 4 months shy of my 12th birthday, and I was devastated, but looking back now, I see how hard it had to have been on my parents.
My grandparents lived down the road about two miles - she had been the one to spot the fire and call the fire department - and she invited us to move in with her. She had a couple of empty bedrooms, especially since my grandpa was in the hospital, and had been for some time.
We had no insurance - ironically, my parents had recently canceled it. Word got out quickly. By the time we went to bed that evening, the one room was half filled with things people had dropped off. People we knew, and people we had never even met. We all had pjs to wear to bed. And stuff kept coming in the days and weeks to come. Used stuff, new stuff, money. Churches gave, individuals.
It hit my parents hard, and really caused my dad to think about getting back to God. Nine days after the fire, though it wasn't unexpected, my grandpa died - and that was the proverbial straw - Dad prayed on his way home from work, and our lives were never the same. Twenty-nine years later, I can still remember what went through my mind "great, now we will have to go to church all the time! - and we did - and still do. We lived with my grandmother from January 21, to August of that year, when we finally moved into our own place again.
The cause of the fire was figured to be the woodburner being hooked up to an old chimney that couldn't handle it - something the landlord had put in, not us.
My parents always believed - and still do - that the fire didn't just happen - God used it to bring a family back to Him in answer to my grandma's prayers.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
This week is dedicated to life. Sadly, everyone in this country does not have the right to life. The carelessness and selfishness of so many people is ending countless lives while they are still in the womb. We hear so much about women's rights - what about the rights of the unborn? They are trampled under the so called rights of the mothers who allow them to be butchered in the womb.
I cried the first time I heard this song back in 1986. I still fight tears every time I hear it.
Here are the lyrics to an awesome song, and the video posted below:
Only God Knows (Sheldon Mencer)
She will never see the beauty of a sunrise
Nor pick a flower blowing in the wind
She will never climb up to sit on Daddy's knee
Never spend a summer day with her best friend
She will never bake cookies with Mommy
Never know what it's like to be sixteen
Never spend her love with that special someone
Never have the family of her childhood dreams
He will never celebrate his first birthday
You will never hear him call your name out loud
He will never run across the grassy meadow
Nor will he be the little boy that makes you proud
He will never go fishing with Daddy
Nor have the joy of buying his first car
He will never get to father his own family
Or hear his little boy wish upon a star
Day by day and one by one, we're killing our future
By the thousands every day across the land
Can you tell me what has happened to America?
Is there anyone who dares to take a stand?
We have the blood of little children on our hands
But in Heaven God is picking up the pieces
Of the countless treasures we have thrown away
While slowly He's reshaping and re-molding
Those precious little helpless lumps of clay
So lovingly, He holds them in His hands
Only God knows, just what they could have been.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
How does God speak? What's so significant about Jesus being both human and divine? Who is the Holy Spirit? Whether you're just exploring Christianity or a veteran believer, Harris will help you unearth the timeless truths of Scripture; discover that theology isn't just for scholars; and deepen your relationship with Christ.
In Dug Down Deep, Joshua Harris gets down to the basics -he shows how important it is to know what we believe, and why. He addressed the issue of growing up in the church and not really having our own beliefs or doctrine, but simply going along on tradition and what our church and parents believed - which isn't necessarily bad, but he points out that we all need to get to the point that it is what we believe, not just something we grew into.
The book has a great message that we all need to hear, and he writes in an easy-to-read style. I recommend it for anyone wanting to explore their faith and what to believe.
About the author:
Joshua Harris is senior pastor of Covenant Life in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which belongs to the Sovereign Grace network of local churches. A passionate speaker with a gift for making theological truth easy to understand, Joshua is perhaps best known for his runaway bestseller, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which he wrote at the age of twenty-one. His later books include Boy Meets Girl, Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is), and Stop Dating the Church. The founder of the NEXT conferences for young adults, Joshua is committed to seeing the gospel transferred to a new generation of Christians. He and his wife, Shannon, have three children.
Dug Down Deep was provided to me to review by Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishing, and is available here.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Christy Williams finally has her life on track.
She’s putting her past behind her and working hard to build a career as an antiquarian book buyer. But things begin to unravel when a stolen Hemingway first edition is found in her possession, framing her for a crime she didn’t commit.
With no one to turn to, she yearns for her estranged, younger sister, May, who she abandoned in their childhood after their parents’ untimely deaths. Soon Christy’s fleeing from her shattered dreams, her ex-boyfriend, and God. May’s Triple Cross ranch could be the safe haven she’s searching for, but will the sisters realize that each possesses what the other desperately needs before it’s too late.
This is C.J. Darlington's first book, and it is a good one. Though it has its moments of suspense, thanks to a crazed ex-boyfriend, it is not suspense in the mystery sense. There is a major redemptive message in the book, that no matter how far we go, God will always forgive, and a strong sense of family. I enjoyed the book immensely, and look forward to reading more from this author.
About the author:
C. J. began writing the story that would become her first novel Thicker than Blood when she was a fifteen-year-old homeschool student. She has been in the antiquarian bookselling business for over a decade, scouting for stores similar to the one described in Thicker than Blood before cofounding her own online bookstore.
In 2006 C. J. started the Christian entertainment Web site TitleTrakk.com with her sister, Tracy, and has been actively promoting Christian fiction through book reviews and author interviews. She makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs and cats.
When she's not writing, she's reading. Her hobbies include book and art collecting, fly fishing, painting and drawing.
Thicker Than Blood is available from Tyndale Publishing.
Thanks to TitleTrakk.com for the review copy.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Lancaster County has always been her home--but where does her heart belong?
One moment Carrie Weaver was looking forward to running away with Lancaster Barnstormers pitcher Solomon Riehl--plans that included leaving the Amish community where they grew up. The next moment she was staring into a future as broken as her heart. Now, Carrie is faced with a choice. But will this opportunity be all she hoped? Or will this decision, this moment in time, change her life forever?
A tender story of love, forgiveness, and looking below the surface, The Choice uncovers the sweet simplicity of the Amish world--and shows that it's never too late to find your way back to God.
I'm a guy, and guys probably aren't supposed to read Amish romance books - but oh well. If I did what everyone else thought I should do, or not do, I'd never have any fun. I have read a few in my lifetime. One of my favorite vacation spots, second only to The Outer Banks, is Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, so I do enjoy books that take place there, such as this one.
I haven't read a lot of Amish books of this type, but I do think it is one of the best I have read. Move aside, Beverly Lewis, you have some new competition!
There is a lot of Amish beliefs/traditions in the book, but through one of the characters, there is also shown grace, and a side of God the Amish don't normally see - and I am afraid some of us non-Amish never see - the God of love and grace. The book is a good story - very likable characters, and it has its low places and high, sad and happy - but among the great story is the message that we can know we are going to Heaven, and God does love us and want a relationship with us - not just a far off worship of fear.
This is Suzanne Woods Fisher's first novel, and I would say she hit one out of the ballpark with this one.
About the author:
Suzanne Woods Fisher's interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised in the Dunkard Brethren Church in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Benedict eventually became publisher of Christianity Today magazine. Suzanne's work has appeared in many magazines. She has contributed to several nonfiction books and is the author of Amish Peace and the novel The Choice.
Thanks to the author, someone can win a copy of The Choice.
To enter, comment and tell what modern convenience you would miss most if you had to live like the Amish.
US entries only
One winner will be drawn ten days from now, on January 27.
Available January 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
Thanks to Donna from Revell for supplying me with a review copy.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
There is a lot of stuff out there about this lady, but from the start, I have been extremely pro-Palin. She is beautiful, and in my opinion, is what coservatism is all about. I was excited about her from the moment she was intoduced as John McCain's running mate - more excited than I was about him. I immediately googled her and found a picture of their family, and remember thinking "what a lovely family!" The more I heard about her, the more I liked her and was convinced she would make a great vice president. Did I change my mind after reading her book? Nope.
The book starts out talking about her childhood, and goes up through her becoming council woman, mayor, governor, and finally the GOP Vice Presidential candidate. I think she is a fascinating woman, and even more so after reading the book.
I learned a lot in the book - not just about Sarah Palin and her family, but also about politics, about how a campaign is run, and why so many good people stay away from politics - it sounds pretty brutal.
The media and liberals have been incredibly nasty towards her and her family, and I found out even more about that in the book - and no, it isn't a "get-even" type of book - she is rather matter of fact in telling of the attacks they came under during - and after the campaign.
I'm not much into biographies, but I really enjoyed this one - and came away with a greater appreciation for this great woman, and a greater belief that she would make a great president, in spite of what they say.
So.... get a hold of a copy of Going Rogue, and I promise it will be an enjoyable read.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Now, with both the terrorists and the cops on his trail, Charlie makes his way home to find some answers. Holed up in an abandoned mansion, Charlie is joined by his high school buddies as he tries to find the truth about a murder he can't remember--and recover the love he can't forget.
The Long Way Home is the second book in the Homelanders Series. Though this series is geared for teens, I enjoy it, as many adults would.
This book - and the first - are filled with action, suspense, and a very likable hero, Charlie. The books aren't typical Christian fiction - not much of a Christian message - though this one had more of it than the first, but they are clean, cursing-free, and have a great plot and story line. Teens and adults that enjoy fast-paced suspense will enjoy this series.
There is a lot of mystery in these books - Charlie has no idea what has happened to him in recent months, and has the law chasing him for crimes he doesn't remember committing. One downside, is these books end leaving you wanting more, but that can be a good thing too.
In The Long Way Home, Charlie finds out more about what has happened in the last year - a year that is gone from his memory. With the help of friends, he begins to investigate the murder he was framed for. This book has just as much suspense and action as the first, and I was sorry to reach the end.
This is a series where each book picks up where the last left off, but if someone reads a description of #1, there is enough review in this one that the gist of things will be easily grabbed by the reader.
The books are hardcover, and definitely worth your time. A side note, Christianbook.com is selling the hardcover of #1 right now for $4.99, so buy it for the teen in your life, or for yourself.
You can read the first chapter of the first book, The Last Thing I Remember - here: http://www.thehomelanders.com/banners/SampleChapters.pdf - and find more about the series at http://www.thehomelanders.com/.
Andrew Klavan is the author of several bestselling novels, including Don't Say A Word, filmed starring Michael Douglas, and True Crime, filmed by Clint Eastwood. His essays have appeared, among other places, in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, City Journal and the Claremont Review. His series featuring Private Eyes Jim Bishop and Scott Weiss began with Dynamite Road and Shotgun Alley and will soon include Damnation Street.
The Long Way Home is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.
Thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing me with a review copy.
One of my new favorite authors, Mike Dellosso, posted a great blog post about the need for authors to have a thick skin to handle negative reviews - original post on his blog, wide-eyed fiction. I agreed with what he said, and commented on it, but it has had me thinking..... not only authors need to be thick-skinned, but we all do, but especially Christians.
Now I will admit right off, that I need to be more "thick-skinned", and that largely in part due to this wonderful depression, that I have been extremely irritable lately, but isn't it true - Christians should be more thick-skinned than anyone else?
I have posted a few negative reviews of books. One author thanked me and wanted to send me his next book to review. Another responded pretty graciously, a third did not. There are other times in life where people may do or say things that hurt, make us angry - and all too often we can't take it. We don't get the church office we want. Our child doesn't get invited to a birthday party. We invite a family over for supper, and they never return the favor. He looked at me wrong. She said something mean. It happens.
Thing is, if we can't handle these things that come up in life all too often, how on earth will we be able to handle out and out religious persecution? Which would you rather have - someone say they didn't like a book y ou wrote, that your kid is a brat and needs spanked, or beaten because you claim Jesus as your Savior.
Christians shouldn't be wimps, and sometimes you have to stand up for your rights. If the phone company rips you off on your bill and owes you money, of course you should go after it, but with the right attitude. If someone calls your kid a brat and says they need spanked, they might be right - and no, I never told anyone that, but I have thought it several times. :-)
Jesus guaranteed that any who follow Him would be persecuted and hated by the world - and no, He isn't calling getting a negative book review, or not getting an office you wanted at church, persecution - but I think if we were more thick-skinned and handled these things that life throws us, we just might be able to handle actual persecution if and when it comes.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Growing with Purpose elevates God’s grace to its proper place, above sin, where love always triumphs over lists of rules, where no one is forgotten, and where everyone gets more than a second chance. This one-year devotional is an unusual and compelling combination of conversational pictures, humorous prose, and practical suggestions firmly planted in biblical theology.
I meant to review this devitional around the beginning of the New Year, and it got lost in a stack of books. I remembered I had it today, so here is my review, a little later than I intended.
This is a 365-day devitional, but at least in my review copy, there are no dates, so you could start this any day of the year.
It is intended to go along with the Purpose Driven Life book, but can be read completely independent of that book.
I got the book a couple of months ago, so I obviously didn't go through all 365 days, but I read through several, and really like it. I can honestly say if I were looking for a good devotional, I'd have bought this one. The devotions are fairly short, sometimes humorous, but pack a punch. Each one starts out with a Scripture verse under the title of the devotion.
If you haven't got a good devotional for 2010, check out Growing With Purpose by Jon Walker. It is available from Zondervan Publishing.
About the author:
Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy.
The perils and joys of a SITCOM family (Single Income Three Children Oppressive Mortgage)
Phil’s new appreciation for his wife after a memorable “Mr. Mom” experience
One family’s surprising response when they are literally “creamed” by a dairy truck
A lasting male friendship forged over an unlikely object—a lawnmower
A startling phone call that changed Phil’s life
True wealth doesn’t come with any material possessions. Through warmth and laughter, Callaway shows that the best things in life are not really things, after all. In this tough economic climate, readers may be surprised to learn that they may find real richness even in their own backyards.
This is a great book. The author uses stories from his life and the lives of others to show what really makes us rich - and it isn't money. I found myself feeling guily and convicted by what I read - not only does he show what truly does make people rich, he also shows how we need to be more thankful for what we do have. I enjoyed the book extremely.
I first ran across Phill Callaway's books in the late 90's. He had a couple of books with amusing titles such as Daddy I Blew Up The Shed. I started buying all of his books I could find. This was in my pre-computer-owning days, so I mailed him snail mail to buy a couple I couldn't find in stores. In addition to sending me the books, he also sent me some kind of candy they have in Canada.
Since that time, I have bought most - maybe all of his books - since my books are in storage, I can't confirm if I am missing any or not. He is a very enjoyable author to read. I would recommend him over Max Lucado. I guarantee his books to make you cry, smile, and even laugh out loud - yet his books aren't light fluff, or feel-good book. He has his own style, and gets his message across - and Making Life Rich Without Money is no different - you will smile, laugh, cry, and come away thankful for what you have and convicted to slow down and smell the roses.
About the author:
Phil Callaway is an award–winning columnist and a popular speaker at conferences, churches, camps, and Promise Keeper events. He is the author of several books, including Making Life Rich Without Any Money and I Used to Have Answers, Now I Have Kids. Phil is married to his high–school sweetheart, Ramona.
Making Life Rich Without Any Money is available from Harvest House Publishing.
Thanks to Harvest House for the review copy.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Southern Gospel is my #1 love in music, and accounts for the bigger amount of CDs I own, and music on my Ipod - 2181 Southern Gospel, 638 CCM, 181 Country. FFH is one of the CCM artists I like the best. The year I discovered them, I bought all of their current CDs and that is all I listened to on vacation that year - solid FFH.
By the way, for anyone who doesn't know, FFH stands for Far From Home.
The group used to consist of Jeromy & Jennifer Diebler and two other guys. This new CD, though still called FFH, now consists of Jeromy & Jennifer only. They still have a good sound, though I did like them as a group better.
Among some other troubles in their lives, Jeromy has MS, and those struggles come through on some of the songs.
Undone opens the CD., a great song talking about surrender. Some other great cuts on the CD are Stop The Bleeding, What It Feels to Be Led, and Who I'm Gonna Be. Complete song listing below:
2. Hold On To Me
3. Wide Open Spaces
4. What It Feels Like
5. I Don’t Care Anymore
6. What If Your Best
7. The Time Of My Life
8. Stop The Bleeding
9. Who I’m Gonna Be
10. Jesus Give Me Rest
If you enjoy CCM music and have never listened to FFH, give them a try. Check them out at ffh.net
And here is one of my all-time favorite songs by theirs, done a few years back:
Friday, January 8, 2010
I'm an oddity, and I admit it. I have always loved to read, and though I should read more non-fiction than I do, my true love is fiction - Christian fiction. But give me a break, it's what I enjoy. I know guys who spend tons of money and time watching and playing sports, hunting, fishing - all that - so let me have my books. :-)
Just for the fun of it, plus I am bored - I decided to list some good fiction books/authors for men. There are a lot out there. Women's fiction seems to dominate the market, but there are some authors and books geared for men. Here are some of them in case you're a guy looking for some good fiction, or you are a lady wanting to buy a book for a guy. :-)
1) The Riley Covington Series by Jason Elam & Steve Yohn - these books are about special ops, terrorism, and football - which I am not a fan of (football OR terrorism!) - but they are excellent books, and though some women may enjoy them, they are definitely "man-books" and a far cry from Lori Wick and Janette Oke. ;-)
2) Task Valor Series by Chuck Holton - another special ops/terrorism book, fast-paced, definitely "man books". No football in these though. Totally different than the series mentioned above, and great reading also.
3) Ted Dekker. Some of his books are a bit weird. Some are really weird. Men & women alike enjoy them, but most of them are more male reading, than female. And some of his books are better than others. I recommend The Martyr's Song Series above anything he has written.
4) Mike Dellosso. This guy is a fairly new author, having only two books out, but they are awesome reads, a bit similar in style to Frank Peretti. I would say they lean more towards what a man would enjoy, though both women & men would enjoy his books. Check out Hunted and Scream, and Darlington Woods, due out in May. (Hmm, if it isn't a book I get to review, would make a good birthday gift for me since my birthday is in May). This author also has a great blog that he posts some great thoughts on.
5) Conlan Brown. Another new author. He has one book so far, Firstborn, with a sequel out this coming year. Fast-paced suspense with a supernatural theme, it would make a good guy book.
6) James Scott Bell. Readers of John Grisham would like his books - legal thrillers without curse words. Also, I don't think JSB goes around campaigning for Hillary Clinton....... :-)
7) Robert Whitlow. Another legal thriller author, though I would recommend his earlier books. His newest series would not fall under the "legal thriller" genre, and kind of drags, in my opinion.
8) Frank Peretti. His books for the most part aren't necessarily geared more for men than women, but men would definitely enjoy them. I still think his best are his earliest - Piercing the Darkness and This Present Darkness.
9) Adam Blumer. Another new author, having just one book under his belt so far, but it is one of the best suspense books I have ever read. Though his book doesn't really lean any more towards what a man would read, it is a book men would enjoy.
10) Robert Liparulo. Calling his books Christian fiction may be a stretch - there isn't much Christian content, if any, in some of his books, and at least "hell" is used as an expletive, but they are definitely "guy books" and are still clean and a far cry from what is in the secular books.
Ann Coulter writes a weekly column on her website, and I just love what she has to say. This week's was different - it was about Christianity, and I thought it was an excellent column, so I am passing it on:
Someone mentioned Christianity on television recently and liberals reacted with their usual howls of rage and blinking incomprehension.
On a Fox News panel discussing Tiger Woods, Brit Hume said, perfectly accurately:
"The extent to which he can recover, it seems to me, depends on his faith. He is said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So, my message to Tiger would be, 'Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world."
Hume's words, being 100 percent factually correct, sent liberals into a tizzy of sputtering rage, once again illustrating liberals' copious ignorance of Christianity. (Also illustrating the words of the Bible: "How is it you do not understand me when I speak? It is because you cannot bear to listen to my words." John 8:43.)
In The Washington Post, Tom Shales demanded that Hume apologize, saying he had "dissed about half a billion Buddhists on the planet."
Is Buddhism about forgiveness? Because, if so, Buddhists had better start demanding corrections from every book, magazine article and blog posting ever written on the subject, which claims Buddhists don't believe in God, but try to become their own gods.
I can't imagine that anyone thinks Tiger's problem was that he didn't sufficiently think of himself as a god, especially after that final putt in the Arnold Palmer Invitational last year.
In light of Shales' warning Hume about "what people are saying" about him, I hope Hume's a Christian, but that's not apparent from his inarguable description of Christianity. Of course, given the reaction to his remarks, apparently one has to be a regular New Testament scholar to have so much as a passing familiarity with the basic concept of Christianity.
On MSNBC, David Shuster invoked the "separation of church and television" (a phrase that also doesn't appear in the Constitution), bitterly complaining that Hume had brought up Christianity "out-of-the-blue" on "a political talk show."
Why on earth would Hume mention religion while discussing a public figure who had fallen from grace and was in need of redemption and forgiveness? Boy, talk about coming out of left field!
What religion -- what topic -- induces this sort of babbling idiocy? (If liberals really want to keep people from hearing about God, they should give Him his own show on MSNBC.)
Most perplexing was columnist Dan Savage's indignant accusation that Hume was claiming that Christianity "offers the best deal -- it gives you the get-out-of-adultery-free card that other religions just can't."
In fact, that's exactly what Christianity does. It's the best deal in the universe. (I know it seems strange that a self-described atheist and "radical sex advice columnist faggot" like Savage would miss the central point of Christianity, but there it is.)
God sent his only son to get the crap beaten out of him, die for our sins and rise from the dead. If you believe that, you're in. Your sins are washed away from you -- sins even worse than adultery! -- because of the cross.
"He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross." Colossians 2:14.
Surely you remember the cross, liberals -- the symbol banned by ACLU lawsuits from public property throughout the land?
Christianity is simultaneously the easiest religion in the world and the hardest religion in the world.
In the no-frills, economy-class version, you don't need a church, a teacher, candles, incense, special food or clothing; you don't need to pass a test or prove yourself in any way. All you'll need is a Bible (in order to grasp the amazing deal you're getting) and probably a water baptism, though even that's disputed.
You can be washing the dishes or walking your dog or just sitting there minding your business hating Susan Sarandon and accept that God sent his only son to die for your sins and rise from the dead ... and you're in!
"Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9.
If you do that, every rotten, sinful thing you've ever done is gone from you. You're every bit as much a Christian as the pope or Billy Graham.
No fine print, no "your mileage may vary," no blackout dates. God ought to do a TV spot: "I'm God Almighty, and if you can find a better deal than the one I'm offering, take it."
The Gospel makes this point approximately 1,000 times. Here are a few examples at random:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God." Ephesians 2:8.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23.
In a boiling rage, liberals constantly accuse Christians of being "judgmental." No, we're relieved.
Christianity is also the hardest religion in the world because, if you believe Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead, you have no choice but to give your life entirely over to Him. No more sexual promiscuity, no lying, no cheating, no stealing, no killing inconvenient old people or unborn babies -- no doing what all the other kids do.
And no more caring what the world thinks of you -- because, as Jesus warned in a prophecy constantly fulfilled by liberals: The world will hate you.
With Christianity, your sins are forgiven, the slate is wiped clean and your eternal life is guaranteed through nothing you did yourself, even though you don't deserve it. It's the best deal in the universe.
COPYRIGHT 2009 ANN COULTER
DISTRIBUTED BY UNIVERSAL UCLICK
1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106
Posted by Mark at 7:16 PM
If Elvis Presley was alive today, he would be 75 years old - and so of course, the news is full of Evlis stuff.
I intensely dislike Elvis' singing. I have never, ever heard a song by him that I enjoyed, because I don't like his voice, his style - none of that.
That aside, it really bugs me how much into Elvis people are. He is NOT "the king." Jesus is, last time I checked - yeah, I know, that is suppsed to be "king of rock and roll", but I still don't like to see it or hear it.
I dared to express the idea that Elvis might not be in Heaven a couple of times in my life - and wow! You'd think I blasphemed God Himself to suggest the very fact. But get real - he lived a life of drugs, booze, women, and rock and roll. He died of a drug overdose. Sure, he may have asked forgiveness as he was dying and made it into Heaven - but singing a few Gospel songs during his career is not enough to make his entrance into Heaven. From what I know of him and his life - and the way he died, I would say it would be more likely to assume the opposite - that he didn't make it to Heaven - and maybe he did. But he certainly did not live the type of life that should cause people to practically worship him and make pilgrimages to his home at Graceland - nor should people just assume he is in Heaven.
It isn't popular to dare suggest an icon might not be where people want him to be. I have good friends who want to put Elvis in sainthood and Heaven - but even if I liked him, I'd take issue with that.
Elvis isn't quite the equivalent of Michael Jackson - who I still believe was a pedophile - but they do have something in common - neither lived a good Christian life. Neither were the type of person that made a good role model, that was deserving of so much worship and adulation - only Jesus is worthy of that.
I think we all need to focus on better people to have for role models, and not be so quick to attach sainthood to entertainers who are a far cry from what a Christian should be.
And to any Elvis fans who would accuse me of judging, I challenge you to put Elvis' life - and the way he died - drug overdose - up against the Bible - it isn't judging, it is an obvious observation.
Posted by Mark at 1:32 PM
We got around 4-5 inches of snow last night, on top of the 5-6 inches we already had. I took a few pictures as I was cleaning my car off.....
I cleaned the car off yesterday - this all happened last night
Shot of the house & yard from the road