Monday, July 30, 2012

Remember Me by Penelope Wilcock

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Remember Me
Crossway Books (July 31, 2012)
by
Penelope Wilcock




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:









PENELOPE WILCOCK is a full-time author living in Hastings, Sussex, on the southeast coast of England. Her blog, Kindred of the Quiet Way, is about a simple and spiritual Christian lifestyle. Her other books in The Hawk and the Dove series are The Hawk and the Dove, The Wounds of God, and The Long Fall.













ABOUT THE BOOK







Remember Me is the third of a trilogy of books focusing on the character of William de Bulmer, his conversion of life and heart, and the flowering of his ability to love. After the brothers of St. Alcuin take William into the abbey (in The Hardest Thing to Do), he falls in love with Abbot John’s sister (in The Hour Before Dawn) and now has accidentally lost all of the abbey’s money (Remember Me). Seasoned author Penelope Wilcock unlocks the story of one man’s struggles, mistakes, and heart’s longings, and traces the possibility of what it means to get things wrong and begin again. As with each novel in this series, the reader is encouraged to explore a universal aspect of the Christian faith—in this case, the cost of allowing God to do what is necessary to make one whole.



If you would like to read a chapter excerpt of Remember Me, go HERE.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Winner

Congratulations to Lynnford for winning Hidden Dreams by Davis Bunn.

Enter to win his other new book, Rare Earth,  on the orginal blog post

The Kingdom by Brian Litfin




This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Kingdom
Crossway Books (June 30, 2012)
by
Brian M. Litfin




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Bryan earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of Tennessee as well as a master’s degree in historical theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. From there he went to the University of Virginia, taking a PhD in the field of ancient church history. He is currently professor of theology at Moody Bible Institute in downtown Chicago, where he has been since 2002. He teaches courses in theology, church history, and Western civilization from the ancient and medieval periods. He is the author of Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction (Brazos, 2007), as well as several scholarly articles and essays. Bryan has always enjoyed epic adventure stories as well as historical fiction, but most of his reading these days is taken up by academia.

Today Bryan lives in downtown Wheaton in a Victorian house built in 1887. He and his wife Carolyn are parents to two children. For recreation Bryan enjoys basketball, traveling, and hiking anywhere there are mountains. The Litfins attend College Church in Wheaton, where Bryan has served on the Board of Missions and as a deacon. He also helped start Clapham School, a Christian primary school in Wheaton using the classical model of education.

ABOUT THE BOOK
Book Three in the Chiveis Trilogy

War and disease have destroyed the modern world. Centuries later, feudal societies have arisen across Europe. No one can remember the ancient religion of Christianity—until an army captain and a farmer’s daughter discover the Sacred Writing of the one true God.

As Teo and Ana encounter the forgotten words of the holy book, they realize its message is just what their kingdom needs. Though exiled from their homeland, they join their hearts in a quest to return. But now an ancient pact has united the enemies of the Christian faith into a dark alliance that threatens to consume the known world. Racing to stay one step ahead of their enemies, Teo and Ana must battle heinous villains, stormy seas, and the powers of the underworld itself. As armies begin to mass for a final battle, the odds favor the forces of evil. Can Teo and Ana bring divine truth to Chiveis—or will the Word of God fade from the earth forever?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Kingdom, go HERE.





My review:

This series was a different style than I normally read, but I really enjoyed it, and was sorry to see it end.

The setting is in the future where modern civilization has been wiped out and life resembles medieval times. No modern conveniences, and God has been wiped off the face of the earth, until a young couple finds part of the Bible.

All three books have a lot of action packed into them, but this third and final book has even more than the previous two. I had to keep reading until the very end, and loved how the author brought everything together. His main characters shine and have their best moments in this exciting conclusion to the trilogy.

Although the series is fictional and entertaining, it is also a sobering reminder that in our real world, there are people and forces who would like to stamp out anything Christian. Even here in America.

If you haven't done so, check out the video for the books in this blog post. It is very well done.

Upended by Jedd Medefind and Erik Lokkesmoe

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




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








Today's Wild Card authors are:




and the book:


Passio (May 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Althea Thompson | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***




ABOUT THE AUTHORS:




Jedd Medefind serves as president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans. Prior to this role, he led the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives as a special assistant to President George W. Bush. He and his wife, Rachel, love the great outdoors and have four children. Hometown: Los Angeles, CA





Visit the author's website.






Erik Lokkesmoe is the founder and principal of Different Drummer, a LA/NYC-based audience and fan mobilization agency for top entertainment brands. Erik has a MA in public communications and a BA in political science. Erik and his wife, Monica, have three children. Hometown: New York, NY



Visit the author's website.




SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:






Christians follow a Man who upends our most basic assumptions and expectations at every turn. Yet for many of us who claim to follow Him, our lives are not peculiar at all. If anything, we are a rather predictable people. We follow an upside-down God yet live right-side-up lives.



Yes, we often hear calls to more radical living. Sometimes we yearn for it. But often “radical” ends up being just an idea. But apprenticeship to Jesus is often far more costly. That’s why this book isn’t about big choices that make us radical. It’s mostly about small choices that begin to mirror the life of One who was radical indeed.





Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Paperback: 240 pages

Publisher: Passio (May 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1616386053

ISBN-13: 978-1616386054






AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:







C h ap t e r 1







Eternal Truth and the Daily Grind



Most of the genocides of the twentieth century—from Communist Russia to China to Cambodia—were led by avowedly atheist gov- ernments. Often, pastors and priests were among the first killed. But the story of Rwanda’s genocide is more complex. Yes, many faithful Christian leaders were targeted for immediate death. But in 1994, when the horrific events of one hundred days took an estimated eight hundred thousand

lives, roughly 90 percent of Rwandans claimed to be Christians.

Experiencing the pictures and stories of the genocide in the Kigali Memorial Centre today, a thoughtful Christian cannot help but question in anguish, “How is this possible in any nation, let alone one that was sup- posedly so Christian?”

Rwandan pastor Antoine Rutayisire has grappled with this question himself. He experienced the searing pain of the genocide firsthand. In both anger and grief he explored what enabled such a profound gulf between professed religion and what played out in practice.

At the heart of the matter Rutayisire has concluded that the Christianity of most Rwandans was totally divorced from their ordinary lives. It had to do with heaven, but not earth; abstract doctrines, but not daily choices. Rutayisire explains how traditional African religions always carried implications for virtually every task and interaction, from animal husbandry to cooking. The imported Christianity that took root in much of Rwanda, in contrast, was “a kind of catechism based on memory but not touching issues of daily life.”

The issue was not simply that many Rwandans did not take religion seriously or didn’t carry sincere religious beliefs. Most all Africans do. The issue was that their Christianity carried almost no consequence for the small choices they made every day. The missionaries had taught cate- chisms and rituals, but not how Jesus would want them to manage a busi-

ness or interact with their neighbors.



| 11 |







Rutayisire explains, “The consequence was that many people got bap- tized and integrated into churches, but every time when they ran into prob- lems, they fell back into traditional religion. . . . And in terms of conflict, they relied on what they had been taught by their fathers.”1

It is easy to view the savagery of Rwanda’s genocide and imagine it has nothing to do with us. But the simple truth is that the Christianity prac- ticed by many self-described Christians worldwide is not all that different from the religion practiced by the many Rwandans who failed to stop, or who even participated in, the genocide. It is a religion of great truths and noble ideas that remain largely disconnected from daily choices.

Even those of us who take our faith seriously can fall into the same trap, allowing gaps to form between Christian conviction and the activities of daily life. We study and explore doctrinal truths, but we often feel at a loss to explain how they affect the way we converse with friends, serve our boss, or invest retirement funds. We lack practical connection points between Christianity’s big ideas and what we do each day.

Like that of many Rwandans at the time of the genocide, our religion may feel real enough in the life of the mind. As Rutayisire would say, we have been baptized and integrated into churches. But we have not learned what it looks like to “walk as Jesus did.”2 So when practical decisions must be made, we fall back on habits and learning that really have little to do with the ways of Jesus. When tested, such religion disconnected from daily life is found profoundly lacking, whether in school or work, marriage or wider social engagement—just as it was in Rwanda.



the fataL spLit



Disconnecting Christian faith from daily experiences is not just unfortu- nate. It is deadly. We see its effects on a grand scale in the breathtaking evil of genocide, but just as surely in the withering of once-rich friendships, marriages grown cold, or children estranged.

Over a lifetime the disconnect becomes a trail of opportunities squan- dered. It is the possibility of living vibrantly, loving well, and leading in ways that leave lasting impact . . . lost forever.

At times even Christian teachers have encouraged this fatal split. They have elevated a higher realm of religious knowledge and activity above the lower realm of everyday life. But this view has no basis in Jesus or the apos- tles, nor the Old Testament either.3 Rather it was Greek philosophers and Gnostics who tried to divorce the spiritual from the physical. For them







abstract ideas were superior to the world around us. So spiritual progress required moving away from physical things. Their goal was to transcend the mess and muck of the ordinary.

In contrast, Christianity—like Judaism before it—affirmed that all God made was “very good.”4 Paul summed it up well to Timothy: “For every- thing God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.”5 This includes work and recreation, food and wine, sex and friendship.

Yes, sin has marred these things profoundly. But God’s response is not to abandon or transcend ordinary, physical things. Rather, His plan from the start was to enter His creation in order to repair, renew, and restore.6

That same pattern is God’s call to His people as well. We are to take His truth and vitality into each day’s activities and interactions, just as Jesus did. Learning how to do so from Jesus is the lifelong adventure of the apprentice.

Though exceptional, there were many in Rwanda in 1994 who’d embraced this vision too. One was Celestin Musekura. As a pastor he’d sought both to teach and to live a practical, daily apprenticeship to Jesus. When the 1994 genocide began in his home country, he was completing his graduate studies in Kenya. While most everyone who could was rushing pell-mell out of Rwanda, Celestin headed in, risking his life to try to turn his fellow Hutu tribesmen from murder and to exhort Tutsis to resist the urge for revenge.

There were others too. As evil surged around them, they refused to par- ticipate or look the other way. Some hid neighbors in their homes. Others stared down machete-wielding mobs. Many died for their efforts to pro- tect innocent life. But they’d learned long before how to weld together eternal truth and their daily choices—and they continued to do so, even at immense cost.

Today, with anguish from the genocide yet pungent in Rwanda, Celestin and others like him continue to live as apprentices to Jesus. Though still mourning profound loss, they forgive those who killed their dear friends, family members, and neighbors. Risking the hatred of their own tribes members, they build reconciliation in their communities and churches. Slowly they are reweaving the fabric of Rwanda.

Explains Celestin, “Amidst the bloody history of tribal hatred, Africa’s only hope lies in a Christianity that pervades our lives down to the smallest







things, when our identity in Christ supersedes our tribal identity. It is costly. But the alternative costs even more.”7



Can We reaLLy do it today?



Living two thousand years away from Jesus’s time on earth, it may seem overblown to speak of actually becoming an apprentice to Him. Looking closer, however, we realize that the experience of Jesus’s first apprentices is not as different from ours as we might think.

Paul, like us, never walked with Jesus. Yes, the twelve disciples did have the privilege of observing Jesus in person. But it was only for three short years. And truth be told, they didn’t do particularly well as apprentices while Jesus was still with them. It was only after Jesus’s departure, when they were in much the same situation we are now, that they really began to look like His apprentices in their attitudes and actions.

For them and all who’ve followed since, the core of apprenticeship has always been the same. Responding to God’s grace and empowered by His Spirit, the apprentice marks the words and ways of the Master—and then puts them into practice.

Follow Me, Jesus offers to us too. It is a summons to learn not just about

Him but also from Him.



Person a l Note s: Jedd

With college graduation nearing, law school seemed the next logical step for a guy who didn’t have the prerequisites for any other graduate studies. But talking with many who’d walked that road gave me pause. So few loved what they did. The grinding hours at big firms brought fat paychecks but seemed to snuff out enthusiasm and purpose.

Three close friends of mine were grappling with similar thoughts. We each wanted badly to engage the world fully and experience Christ’s life to the full. Just as much, we feared that the ladder of success might lead to far less than we hoped for out of life.

So, with a blend of hope and desperation, we put grad school and pay- checks on hold. Instead, we’d spend the year living with and learning from committed Christians around the globe—people who served God and neighbor faithfully in their own native lands. Most of all, we hoped to taste life at its fullest . . . and learn how to keep that going for five or six decades. The months ahead were indeed the adventure of a lifetime: from the Guatemalan highlands to Russia’s frozen north, Africa’s mountain kingdom

to the endless rice fields of Bangladesh.

But there was a sobering element too. No matter how thrilling a place was when we first arrived, we were struck by how quickly exciting wears off. Adrenaline ebbs. Exotic becomes commonplace. We saw with dismal







clarity that the life to the full we sought wouldn’t be found in relentless adventure alone.

Yet alongside this realization, hope glimmered. It wasn’t in the buzz of novelty or grand exploits but in a number of the local Christians we served alongside. Their work and relationships weren’t exotic to them. Many had done what they were doing for years. They delivered medical care to Guatemalan peasants; taught wrestling and Jesus in Russian orphanages; created simple business opportunities for the poor in Thailand; led secret house churches in Communist Vietnam. Their work and daily choices were mostly quiet, steady. Some weren’t in full-time ministry at all. Yet their days blazed with the kind of purpose and humble joy we hoped would fill ours to our last breath. With countless small choices to follow Jesus, they infused daily life with eternal life.

That journey taught us more than we could recount. But what I most pray will shape my choices is still that simple realization. Life to the full isn’t found out there —in far-off adventure, or a much-anticipated change, or the next stage in life. Rather, it’s found in ordinary places and daily choices to love and give and serve with abandon for Christ’s sake.





not MereLy a huMan pursuit



We must know from the start that apprenticeship is not merely a human pursuit. Its wellspring is always response to God’s grace. It is surrounded by faithful witnesses from every generation. It is engaged as part of a com- munity, both local and global, called the church. It is nourished continu- ally by God’s living Word. It is undertaken with a continual sense of gift, never earning or merit.

Perhaps most importantly, Jesus promised His apprentices a mighty Helper. The Holy Spirit works continually, both within and alongside the true apprentice. He encourages, convicts, provokes, guides, enlightens. Apart from the Spirit, our labors become wearisome toil. But as we wel- come His labor inside and around us, beauty and good fruit spring from even our most feeble efforts.

The fact that apprenticeship to Jesus is not merely a human pursuit, however, does not mean that it happens apart from the human choices that go into most any other form of apprenticeship. We would not imagine we could become an excellent chef or doctor or painter simply by waiting for it to happen to us. Nor can we if we desire to become like Jesus.

We must learn from Him how to do so via practical, daily, real-world decisions. Choice by choice we participate with the Holy Spirit in bringing our understanding, character, and daily actions into alignment with those of the Master.8







This book explores just one facet of this apprenticeship: how we commu- nicate. Yet there may be no better place to begin. For we are all communi- cators, and how we do so shapes both the quality and outcomes of virtually everything we do. If we can become a true apprentice of Jesus in this, it will touch every relationship and undertaking.

The approach we will take together is straightforward. Like Jesus’s apprentices in every age, we study the words and ways of the Master recorded in the Gospels and amplified in all of Scripture. We take special note of how He spoke and served through speech, how He listened and led, how He connected and conveyed. We consider carefully how what we see can be reflected in our daily choices. We learn from others too who have done the same before us.

All of this we offer frequently to God in prayer. We ask from Him more- than-human insight and perseverance. We invite the vivifying, guiding presence of the Holy Spirit. Then, ideally as part of a community that shares our commitment, we put what we see into practice.

If we are ever to connect the lofty convictions we claim with what we do day in and day out, this is where we must begin. Here we start to knit together eternal truth with our jobs and parenting, marriage and friendships. Over time every interaction increasingly reflects the heart

the Master.



graCe and effort



Person a l Note s: Jedd

My dad was twenty-one when he first donned the flat-brimmed hat of a Yosemite ranger. Never had he wanted anything more. But learning the ropes in 1969 was nothing like the myriad classes and certifications that novice rangers undergo today. Instead, Dad was paired with a veteran ranger and sent out to learn in action.

He hadn’t been on the force long when the old-timer he’d been paired

with, Ranger Utterback, slid from their parked patrol car into the night. “We’re seeing a lot of drugs used and sold in this camping area,” explained Utterback. He held up his hand as Dad began to follow. “Leave the hat in the car. Too obvious.”

Raucous laughter drew them through the darkness to a group gathered around a fire on the edge of camp. Dad followed as Utterback moved into a space shadowed by a large pine. Marijuana smoke hung dense in night air. In those days even possession of the drug was a felony.

As Utterback prepared to step into the firelight, Dad stopped him. “I’ve never made an arrest,” he warned.







“Just watch what I do and do what I do,” whispered Utterback.

That phrase became the theme of the summer, from serving arrest war- rants to chasing break-in bears out of cabins. Dad watched, then replicated. Looking back, he describes, “Rangers joining the force today have some advantages in all the formal training.” However, he observes, “when you learned by putting on the uniform and following a veteran, you saw how to do it. The things you can’t get from a book or a class. How to convince a hostile crowd to cooperate, calm down a hurt child, or scare off a bear with- out hurting it. If you have the desire, you absorb all of this from the veteran

in the field in a way you just can’t fully learn in a classroom.”

Riding horse patrol one morning with another veteran ranger, Don Pimontel, Dad encountered one of the most beautiful scenes he’d ever laid eyes on. As the two men crested a mountain pass, the snow-laden peaks of Yosemite’s vast north country rose ahead of them. Overhead, thunder- heads billowed heavenward, painted with every shade of dark and light. Immediately below opened a meadow, fragrant and glowing purple in a sea of lupine flowers.

Dad sat on his horse, awash in wonder. Unexpectedly, tears began to fill his eyes. He pushed them back and set his jaw as he imagined a ranger ought. But when he glanced over at Ranger Pimontel, that illusion was ban- ished forever. Pimontel’s leathered face glistened, wet with tears.

“I didn’t just learn from him there; I felt with him,” Dad shared with me decades later, “I knew it was OK to feel the beauty. God’s beauty.”

Dad learned that summer not just as a student but as an apprentice. Facts and information were certainly part of the training. But the most important elements went deeper. The veteran rangers like Utterback and Pimontel provided what no classroom teacher could. This included habits and skills Dad had not possessed before, which increasingly became second nature. Perhaps even more significant, they conveyed new perspectives, commit- ments, and even intuition. The veterans’ time-tested ways of protecting and serving could hardly be put into words; yet they were passed from one gen- eration of rangers to another as Dad carefully observed and then put them into practice.





The intentionality and effort suggested by the term apprentice may make some Christians uncomfortable. Sometimes this discomfort is little more than a slumbering spirit; we may not like the idea of putting serious disci- pline into changing behavior and beliefs that we feel are good enough. Or there may also be another, more legitimate discomfort. Does an emphasis on our role and our disciplines of apprenticeship undercut His grace? Might it lead toward pride and “work-your-way-to-heaven” righteousness? Could desire to grow more like Jesus in action change our focus from gratitude at what God has done into a self-consumed bravado in what we are doing?

History reveals that there is, in fact, danger in that direction. Whole movements have grown up around efforts to earn the favor of both God







and man by straining for spiritual attainment. Such quests can feed arro-

gance and self-centeredness as gasoline feeds a fire.





Grace is opposed to earning, not effort.

—Dallas Willard





So we would do well to proceed with care. To imagine we could somehow earn God’s favor is utter vanity. As Jesus portrays in story, it’d be like a household servant imagining he could pay off a debt equivalent to two hundred thousand years of wages.9 God’s grace alone is the wellspring of His favor and heaven’s only door. We must never forget that.

Yet . . .

Despite the hazards, Jesus never watered down His call to apprenticeship. Rather, He urges us to hold two counter-weighted truths at the same time. On one side, joyous gratitude at God’s unmerited forgiveness and love. On the other, a robust response to that gift expressed in obedient action.

As Dallas Willard puts it, “Grace is opposed to earning, not effort.”10

Jesus depicts this truth in story at the end of His Sermon on the Mount. Two builders are constructing homes. As the old Sunday school song describes, the wise man built his house upon the rock. The foolish man built his house upon the sand. The rains came down and the floods came up, and the house on the sand went splat.

What distinguished the two builders? Not abstract belief. Not iden- tity as a Christian. As Jesus bluntly explains, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock. . . . But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.”11

This down-to-earth, put-it-into-practice vision was especially vivid on Jesus’s last night with His disciples. Although unequivocally the Master, He strips Himself of His status both literally and figuratively. Wearing little but a towel, He kneels and scrubs dirt from between their toes. Then, rising and redressing, He puts the Master-apprentice relationship into words: “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done.”12







a ChaMpion of gift and diLigenCe



Perhaps no living person has ever more fully celebrated the wonder of God’s unmerited favor than that great apprentice to Jesus, the apostle Paul. Paul viewed everything as a gift, including the very inclination to follow as Jesus’s apprentice. As he put it simply in 1 Corinthians, “What do you have that you did not receive?”13

Yet this same Paul described his own apprenticeship to Christ not only as receiving a gift but also as serious exertion. He knew better than any that grace saves us. Yet intense effort defined his pursuit of Christlikeness. “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. . . . Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize.”14

Every part of the Christian faith requires gripping two seemingly oppo- site realities at once.



> Justice and mercy

> Contrition and confidence

> Gentleness and bold truth

> A Savior who was fully God and fully man



In apprenticeship, we must do the same. We cling unyieldingly to the lavish, unmerited gift of grace. And we hold with equal passion to a vision for pursuing apprenticeship with abandon.

The outcome of holding this apparent contradiction together is a result worth longing for. Paul described himself as “the worst” of sin- ners.15 Nevertheless, as an apprentice to Jesus, he could declare without flinching, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”16

How could Paul claim that God’s peace would rest on those who prac- ticed not just what he taught, but what they saw him do? Not simply because he’d become a “good man.” Rather, Paul had come to mirror both the char- acter and behavior of the Master. So he could say, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”17

What a breathtaking thing it would be to meet a person today who could, in humility, say the same. Imagine it being said of you, “Follow the way she speaks and listens, for she mirrors the example of Jesus.” “Follow







the way he leads and loves, for he reflects the words and ways of Jesus.” Impossible? Not if we believe the Scriptures.

Yes, we will always struggle against sin. But we can have every reason for confidence that in five or ten years from now (even one!) we will look more like Jesus than we do today.

As we grow as Jesus’s apprentices, our small choices and daily habits increasingly reflect the Master’s. As explored in the chapters ahead, we become more fully present before others; the ideas we convey become more tangible; our manner is recognized as more authentic; our questions guide and inspire; we present not just facts, but set them in stories that give facts meaning; our words carry greater vision and weight.

Choice by choice, small act by small act, we “are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory.”18 Not just in theory, but also in the visible, tangible actions that meld eternal truth with daily life. Praise be to God that He never leaves us where we are.



Person a l Note s: Erik

Apprenticeship demands humility. The very act of apprenticing to a master is acknowledging your own inabilities. You know less. You need to learn. You don’t have what it takes yet. Maybe that is why so many of us are reluctant to be an apprentice: it’s hard to submit to others. That is my chal- lenge, at least.

Early on in my career I served as a deputy for a senior speechwriter. He would pass me the ceremonial events—the award ceremony for a top employee, a ribbon cutting at the factory—and on a good week, he might let me take a swing at a first draft of a major speech.

“Good start,” he would say, and then inevitably hack away until only a few of my original lines remained—and even then, he would take credit for everything.

It was not humbling—it was humiliating.

“I’m better than him,” I would think, especially after lunch when he would kick up his feet on the desk, lean back in his chair, and sleep for two hours. I had no interest in being his apprentice. Maybe that showed. Eventually, my job became nothing more than printing speeches on 4 x 6 cards for

delivery to our boss.

It was a difficult season, but an important one. Looking back, I wasn’t ready. I needed to study great speeches, listen to the tone and cadence of leaders, and perfect my craft.

I thought I had it all figured out, just as Simon did until Jesus approached his boat.

The fifth chapter of Luke tells the story of Jesus teaching on the shoreline of a lake. A crowd is pressing in, and Jesus pushes back in a boat to cre- ate space and to amplify His voice off the water. Professional fisherman are nearby, cleaning nets after a dismal day of fishing.







“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch” (v. 4). Simon questions the Master, as all of us surely would and certainly do. I am the professional. I know what I am doing. This is not a good spot or time to fish. He relents, drops his nets. And the abundance of fish almost topples the boats and tears the nets. “They came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink” (v. 7).

Then Simon repents, Jesus calls him to a new life, and he leaves everything—even his boats and nets and crew—to follow the Master.

The simplicity of the story is beautiful. Jesus comes to you with an absurd request—Erik, leave the professional stuff to Me— and yet He is faithful and fulfilling, which leads to a humble repentance and a life renewed. Apprenticing Jesus isn’t a hollow echo of Jesus’s life and words. It’s not a self-awareness or self-preserving. Its about a real submission to living under the audacious authority of Jesus, the Master who will ask for everything we have so He can give us everything we need. We come empty. Ready. Humble. Only then can He begin.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Hard Way by Jeremy Donovan

*Have you ever screamed out the words, “My Life Sucks!”?

* Have you ever been in a destructive pattern of behavior that you knew – if you did not change – would end up killing you?

* Have you ever sunk so deep into an addiction rut that you were sure you would never be able to get out?

* Have you ever been plagued with torturous thoughts that screamed at you, condemning you to a life of failure and hopelessness?

If any of the above describes you and your life up to this point, be encouraged. The book entitled The Hard Way written by recovered addict – and now youth pastor – Jeremy Donovan points the way to help you get out of your rut. Out of your destructive lifestyle.

Author Jeremy Donovan has been there; done that. He wrote The Hard Way because he wants to show others the way out.

“I had no one to show me the way,” Jeremy says. “In my hours of desperation, I came across so many books and guides to help me become successful in life. Success was not what I was looking for when lying at rock-bottom of my rut. I just wanted someone to show me how to be normal.”

Why the title The Hard Way? By Jeremy’s own confession, all through his life, he always had to learn by doing things the hard way. He sees the same behavior patterns in others who are trapped in addictions.

In The Hard Way you will find stories of Jeremy’s addictions and bondage; as well as the struggle and pain of breaking free from the bondage. The book also provides a guide that anyone can follow to break free from whatever bondage you may find yourself in.

“There’s a huge difference between bondage and temptation,” Jeremy points out. “I know the pain and absolute agony of desperately wanting to be free, and yet not knowing how to find that freedom.”

Thousands of addicts on a daily basis are screaming out, “My life sucks!” Family and friends fail to understand why that person cannot resist temptation. The problem is, the individual who is in bondage is past the point of fighting. There is no fight left in them. Jeremy knows and understands that level of desperation.

A father at the age of nineteen, he couldn’t support his baby son, the baby’s mother or himself. At age twenty-one Jeremy suffered a brain aneurysm that nearly killed him. His life journey took him in and out of mental institutions, through attempted suicides, and finally to a rehab center where he came face-to-face with his loving Heavenly Father and his life was forever changed.

Ten years out of his drug addition, on the road to health and wholeness, Jeremy’s heart-desire is reach out a helping hand to others who are still in the pit of bondage.
In The Hard Way, Jeremy pours out his heart in order to tell his story as honestly and forthrightly as possible. “The pain I went through is worth it,” he says, “if that pain can help even one person out of their bondage.” Then he adds, “You don’t have to learn the hard way. Let The Hard Way supply you with the needed tools to break forever free!”

My review:
I am signed up with a few places that email me with special deals on Kindle books, most of them free. That is how I found this book. I thought it sounded worth reading, so I grabbed it, and am glad I am. What a story.

Jeremy is brutally honest as he tells his story. It is an inspiring and encouraging story. That someone could go so far as he did, be involved in all that he was, and yet God reached down and rescued him and made something of him - what an encouragement.

The book is more than a story of God rescuing a young man from a life of sin. Jeremy also wrote the book to help others who are where he was. He has several steps people need to take. There is advice on everything from how to kick smoking to finding a job you can excel at and enjoy.

I have never done drugs, thank God, but there was a lot in the book I could relate to. This is the kind of book that everyone should read, but especially anyone who has a struggle of any kind, and is letting life and circumstances keep them down.

I really enjoyed reading Jeremy's story. I was inspired, encouraged, and even convicted by it. This is way more than a memoir. It is also a handbook, and I plan on applying some of Jeremy's advice to my own life. I highly recommend this book.

About the author:

Jeremy Donovan grew up as a pastor’s son in the Philadelphia area. His life was dramatically changed when at a young age he was sexually molested by a close friend of the family. This pattern continued from the time he was nine to age thirteen.

 Because of that violation, and unbeknownst to those closest to him, Jeremy was slowly being consumed with an intense inner anger.

By age of sixteen he had exited the church and all that it represented. He abandoned his calling and started on a slippery slope to rock bottom. He became a drug dealer and an addict plying his trade on the seamy streets of Philadelphia. The anger surfaced in a number of destructive behavior patterns.

At twenty-one Jeremy suffered a brain aneurysm that almost – and the doctors said should have – killed him. After barely recovering from this near-death experience, he went right back to his addiction. Right back to the rut.

It was in a rehab center that he encountered God and began the healing process. Jeremy Donovan has gone on to become the youth pastor of Destiny Life church, a multi-campus church in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area.

In 2008, he along with friend and ministry-partner, Matt Moore, founded “The SOZO Movement.” Sozo is a series of testimonies from everyday people sharing the love and power of Jesus Christ. http://jeremydonovan.me/sozo-move/

Jeremy is highly involved in Master’s Commission, USA, the Bible College/Discipleship program he attended after coming out of a rehab program.
He has served as a guest host on “Praise The Lord, Tulsa” on the TBN Network. CLICK HERE TO WATCH

The Hard Way is Jeremy’s first book.

Jeremy is most proud of his family. His wife Annie and their two amazing children Cadence and Cale.

www.twitter.com/jeremy_donovan

www.facebook.com/jeremydonovan

www.twitter.com/thehardwaybook

http://jeremydonovan.me/
CLICK HERE TO SEE JEREMY DONOVAN’S TESTIMONY VIDEO FROM SOZOMOVE

Monday, July 23, 2012

Rare Earth by Davis Bunn, and a book giveaway

Giveaway details at the end of the blog post.

Marc Royce stares out of the helicopter, a sense of foreboding rising with the volcanic cloud. Below, the Rift Valley slashes across Africa like a scar. Decades of conflicts, droughts, and natural disasters have left their mark.

Dispatched to audit a relief organization, Royce is thrust into the squalor and chaos of Kenyan refugee camps. But his true mission focuses on the area's reserves of once-obscure minerals now indispensable to high-tech industries. These strategic elements—called rare earth—have inflamed tensions on the world's stage and stoked tribal rivalries. As Royce prepares to report back to Washington, he seizes on a bold and risky venture for restoring justice to this troubled land.

But this time, Royce may have gone too far.

My review:

Davis Bunn's Lion of Babylon was an awesome book, the best one he ever wrote in my opinion, so I was happy to see there was going to be a sequel.

Bunn brought back his very likable character, Marc Royce to again be the main character of the story, and he is better than ever. The plot, storyline, and setting are totally different from the first book, but this one is almost as good as the first. There is a lot of action and suspense, and I learned a lot about the area and about rare earth, which was a new term to me.

Although I feel Lion of Babylon was better, that in no way means this was not a good book. It was a great read and kept me on the edge of my seat. "Lion" was just so good, it is hard to top it.

I did read this book in one setting, and enjoyed every minute of it. It is obvious that the author had to do a lot of research for this one, and it really shows. The end result is a book he should be proud of, and is definitely worth reading. Although it is the second book in a series, it can be read as a stand alone, as it is an entirely different story.

Book trailer:



Rare Earth by Davis Bunn Sample Chapters 1-3

About the author:

Davis Bunn is an award-winning novelist whose audience spans reading genres from high drama and action thrillers to heartwarming relationship stories, in both contemporary and historical settings. He and his wife, Isabella, make their home in Florida for some of each year, and spend the rest near Oxford, England, where they each teach and write. Visit Davis at www.davisbunn.com.

Q & A with Davis Bunn

When you finished writing Lion of Babylon (book 1 in the Marc Royce series), did you just keep going with the storyline and wrote Rare Earth at the same time? Or was there a time gap in between?
Normally by the time I complete a story, I have been living with the characters and the tale for about a year. What I need more than anything just then is a break. I don’t need to stop writing; I just need to write about something else. The emotions for a new book have to be fresh. The characters are not just continuing on. They are starting over. The emotions and the concepts and the tension and the theme are all brand new. The names stay the same. The rest of the universe shifts on its axis.
Marc Royce is not your typical hero. Where did you find your inspiration for his character?
As I started researching the first book in this series, Lion of Babylon, I took a flight where I was seated next to this very remarkable woman, an amazing combination of hard intelligence and great gentleness. She was reading a pocket New Testament. We started talking, and it turned out that she was a special operative, formerly with the State Department intelligence division, and now working with the Department of Defense Intel. I found myself drawn by this incredible paradox of ruthless focus and very intense calm.
Soon after this flight, I had an opportunity to meet a senior figure in the CIA. I had never had any contact with the intelligence community, and all of a sudden I was finding one door after another being opened, because both of these people—the DOD Intel officer and the CIA agent—took it upon themselves to help introduce me to their worlds. I have found this happen on a number of occasions, and these ongoing miracles humble and astound me. I drew on these people as the basis for structuring my hero.

What can readers expect to find in Rare Earth?
All my books hold to one key aim—to create a story that carries a moral, and together result in an impact or challenge or inspiration or comforting assurance that remains long after the book is set down. That, to me, defines a worthy effort.
What kind of character is Marc Royce?

He carries his faith into a world that likes to think Jesus no longer plays a role. He sees himself as the ultimate outsider, wounded by the loss of his wife, searching for a place he can call home, and an ideal worth living for—or giving his life for.
Tell us about one or two other key characters.

Like the book that launched this series, Rare Earth is a story about the missionary church. Many of the other characters are Kenyan, and reveal the amazing role that believers play in this nation.
What type of research did you do for this series?
I worked in Africa for four years early in my adult life. I was not a believer at that time. I came to faith four years later. I taught in Kenya last year, the first time I had been back to sub-Sahara Africa in almost twenty years. Going back to Africa now, as a believer, has opened my eyes to many things. Seeing with the compassion of sharing faith and seeking to serve means that I do not merely observe, I share with them. I hope this comes across in my story.
Research is a huge component of all of my stories. But with Lion of Babylon and Rare Earth, the situation was quite different. In both these Royce novels, I was combining knowledge gained in my previous business life with the perspective gained from my walk in faith. It has been quite a fulfilling experience, personally, to revisit these lands and see them through the eyes of our compassionate God.

Which character in Rare Earth do you connect to the most?
This is the second book starring Marc Royce. He is a complex individual with a lot of amazing traits. I feel like I am finally coming to terms with the depths of this man.
Which character was the most difficult to write?
There is a Luo chief in Nairobi, a strong leader who has had everything stripped from him except his faith. He is the uncle of another great man, another leader. To have two people from the same tribe, and create individuals that stood out as unique portraits, was very challenging. I feel that I have done a solid job with them. I look forward to hearing what my readers think.
What was your favorite scene to write in Rare Earth?
It is very rare that a first scene holds such a powerful connection for me. Generally it is one where there is a revelation between characters, or a defining moment when a person’s eyes are truly opened to the eternal for the first time.
But in Rare Earth, when I shut my eyes and envision the story, it is that first scene that blazes into light. Travelling on the UN chopper from Nairobi, watching the volcano take shape upon the horizon. Marc Royce has been sent out there to fail. And to die. I really am pleased with that opening sequence.

What’s next in your writing pipeline?
The film project Unlimited, for which I wrote the screenplay, has now ‘wrapped’, that is, filming has been completed. The producer and director are now deep into the editing process. Meanwhile, I must get busy and write the novel.
I had the whole thing backwards here, doing the script first, but it has been a lot of fun, and the concept remains very fresh. So hopefully it will come alive on the page as well as the screen. Both the film and the story are titled Unlimited, and are slated for release in September 2013.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website and blog are at
www.davisbunn.com
Subscribe to my blog’s feed (to get my latest posts via e-mail or through your feed reader) at http://feeds.feedburner.com/DavisBunn
Sign up for my e-newsletter (for subscriber-only giveaways and advance notice of my upcoming novels): http://www.davisbunn.com/news.htm
Facebook Author Page: facebook.com/davisbunnauthor
Twitter: @davisbunn - http://twitter.com/davisbunn
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/davisbunn/

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.


Giveaway:
Follow instructions carefully:
To enter, answer one of the following questions:
  • If you could fly anywhere in the world in a helicopter, where would you go?


  • If you were a secret agent, what three items would you keep on your person at all times?


  • If you could serve as a missionary in another country, where would you go?

  • I will pick one winner two weeks from today using Random.org, on August 6.


    Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green



    This week, the
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
    is introducing
    Wedded to War
    • River North; New Edition edition (July 1, 2012)

    by
    Jocelyn Green

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Jocelyn Green is a child of God, wife and mom living in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She is also an award-winning journalist, author, editor and blogger. Though she has written nonfiction on a variety of topics, her name is most widely recognized for her ministry to military wives: Faith Deployed. Her passion for the military family was fueled by her own experience as a military wife, and by the dozens of interviews she has conducted with members of the military for her articles and books, Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives and its sequel, Faith Deployed...Again: More Daily Encouragement for Military Wives. She is also co-author of both Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq & Afghanistan and Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front (forthcoming, May 2012). Her Faith Deployed Web site and Facebook page continue to provide ongoing support, encouragement and resources for military wives worldwide.

    ABOUT THE BOOK

    When war erupted, she gave up a life of privilege for a life of significance.

    Tending to the army's sick and wounded meant leading a life her mother does not understand and giving up a handsome and approved suitor. Yet Charlotte chooses a life of service over privilege, just as her childhood friend had done when he became a military doctor. She soon discovers that she's combatting more than just the rebellion by becoming a nurse. Will the two men who love her simply stand by and watch as she fights her own battles? Or will their desire for her wage war on her desire to serve God?

    Wedded to War is a work of fiction, but the story is inspired by the true life of Civil War nurse Georgeanna Woolsey. Woolsey's letters and journals, written over 150 years ago, offer a thorough look of what pioneering nurses endured. This is the first in the series "Heroines Behind the Lines: Civil War," a collection of novels that highlights the crucial contributions made by women during times of war.

    If you would like to read the first chapter of Wedded to War, go HERE.

    Thursday, July 19, 2012

    The Company by Chuck Graham


    A meteor strike plunges the world into darkness. A stranger to the village of Brigos Glen restores power and light, supplied by three businesses, known as “The Company,” located beyond the forbidden mountains. The stranger reveals a plan so the Brigons can maintain the power and share the light with outlying territories, which remain shrouded in darkness.

    Now, seventy years later, The Company summons six Brigons, including the young engineer Sam Mitchell, to attend a conference in the mountains of the forbidden Outlands.

    Responsible for compiling a report about Brigos Glen from his five companions, Sam learns how managers and villagers largely ignored the plan or compromised it to self-interest, forsaking their duty to share the light. They also took for granted The Company responsible for generating and transmitting the power.

    In an ordeal fraught with failure, revelations, and judgment, Sam discovers the true identity behind The Company and learns the fate that may befall Brigos Glen . . . that is, unless he can stop it.

    My review:

    I didn't know it when I requested the book, but it is an allegory. I probably would have still requested it had I known, as it sounded really good, but I don't always understand allegories. It did take me a while to understand where the author was going with the book, but I did get there.

    What I got out of the book, is that it is an allegory about the church. It dealt with churches fighting among themselves and becoming so focused on their differences, that they cease to reach out to the lost. There was a scene in the book that reminded me of the section in the book of Revelation where the seven churches are being dealt with, and I assume that is what the author was getting at.

    The book was well written and entertaining, and had a great message. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and had a hard time putting it down.

    About the author:

    Chuck Graham's legal career as an attorney in private practice spanned more than thirty-one years. He represented many local, national, and international clients, acquiring intricate knowledge about the often-overlapping structures of the corporate world. He also worked against those seeking to create racial division, including the Ku Klux Klan. He has served as a member of the state bar of Georgia since 1979 and an instructor to attorneys and judges through the Institute for Continuing Legal Education (ICLE). He received the Medallion of Appreciation from ICLE.
    Chuck is also a speaker and the author of Take the Stand (Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996) and the compilations, A Year of Encouragement (Xulon Press).
    In 1997 he founded Ciloa (Christ Is Lord Of All), a ministry devoted to sharing God’s encouragement with the world and teaching those who follow Him how to encourage others. Today Chuck serves as executive director and principal author of A Note of Encouragement, a weekly e-zine reaching 175 countries.

    He and Beverly, his wife of thirty-four years, have lived in Lawrenceville, a suburb of Atlanta, for fourteen years. God has blessed them with three children. In his free time, Chuck enjoys backpacking and hiking (especially on the Appalachian Trail), playing the guitar, dabbling in photography, and reading extensively about the Christian faith. Watch an interview with Chuck about his inspiration behind the story of The Company.

    Watch the book trailer here.

    The Company is available from Winepress Publishing. Thanks to Winepress and Litfuse blogging group for the review copy.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    What if... a movie review

    Fifteen years ago, Ben Walker (Kevin Sorbo) made a decision to leave his college sweetheart Wendy (Kristy Swanson), and ultimately his faith, in order to pursue a lucrative business opportunity. Now on the verge of marriage to an equally materialistic fiance, he is visited by an angelic mechanic (John Ratzenberger) who tells him that he needs to see what his life would have been like had he followed Gods calling. Suddenly, Ben finds himself married to Wendy with two daughters, including a rebellious teen (Debby Ryan), getting ready for church on a Sunday morning, where he's scheduled to give his first sermon as the new pastor. If Ben wants to get back to his old life, he must first learn to appreciate the value of faith and family, and perhaps rediscover the love of his life. In the tradition of It's a Wonderful Life and The Family Man, What If tells the story of a man whose glimpse into what he's missing reminds him of what he truly wants.

    My review:

    Christian movies get a bad rap. Often they are cheesy and the acting is just so-so. I thought this one looked good, so I bought it on a whim. I had it for several months before I watched it, and was pleasantly surprised. It is really good. Sure, the idea has been explored before, but not in the same exact way as this movie does. I loved it. It was humorous, well done, and had a great message. And it is clean and curse-free. I highly recommend it.

    Rare Earth by Davis Bunn


    This week, the
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
    is introducing
    Rare Earth
    Bethany House Publishers (July 1, 2012)
    by
    Davis Bunn


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Born and raised in North Carolina, Davis left for Europe at age twenty. There he first completed graduate studies in economics and finance, then began a business career that took him to over forty countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

    Davis came to faith at age 28, while living in Germany and running an international business advisory group. He started writing two weeks later. Since that moment, writing has remained both a passion and a calling.

    Davis wrote for nine years and completed seven books before his first was accepted for publication. During that time, he continued to work full-time in his business career, travelling to two and sometimes three countries every week. His first published book, The Presence, was released in 1990 and became a national bestseller.

    Honored with three Christy Awards for excellence in historical and suspense fiction, his bestsellers include The Great Divide, Winner Take All, The Meeting Place, The Warning, The Book of Hours, and The Quilt.

    A sought-after speaker in the art of writing, Davis serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University.

    ABOUT THE BOOK

    Marc Royce stares out of the helicopter, a sense of foreboding rising with the volcanic cloud. Below, the Rift Valley slashes across Africa like a scar. Decades of conflicts, droughts, and natural disasters have left their mark.

    Dispatched to audit a relief organization, Royce is thrust into the squalor and chaos of Kenyan refugee camps. But his true mission focuses on the area's reserves of once-obscure minerals now indispensable to high-tech industries. These strategic elements--called rare earth--have inflamed tensions on the world's stage and stoked tribal rivalries. As Royce prepares to report back to Washington, he seizes on a bold and risky venture for restoring justice to this troubled land.

    But this time, Royce may have gone too far.

    If you would like to read the first chapter of Rare Earth, go HERE.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    Almost Amish by Kathryn Cushman


    This week, the
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
    is introducing
    Almost Amish
    Bethany House Publishers (July 1, 2012)
    by
    Kathryn Cushman




    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Kathryn Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy, but all her life she knew that she wanted to write a novel “some day”. For her, “some day” came in 2003, when she started writing and never looked back.

    Her first two manuscripts remain firmly ensconced in the back of her closet (the dust bunnies tell her they really are terrific!). Her third attempt became her first published novel.

    A Promise to Remember and Leaving Yesterday were both finalists for the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, and Waiting for Daybreak was a finalist in Women’s Fiction for the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award.

    On the homefront, she has been married to the wonderful and handsome Lee for nearly twenty-five years now, and their two daughters are currently braving the worlds of high school and college.

    They’ve lived in Santa Barbara for over twenty years. It’s a beautiful place and Kathryn feel blessed to be there (although a seventy degree Christmas still leaves her dreaming of a white one—or at least a colder one!)

    When she's not writing or reading or braving seventy degree holidays, you’ll find her trying her best to keep up with her daughters in their various theater, softball, dance, and filled-with-activity lives.

    ABOUT THE BOOK

    Proving the Simple Life Isn't So Simple After All

    Overcommitted and overwhelmed, Julie Charlton is at the breaking point. She knows she should feel blessed as a mother and wife--but she just feels exhausted. And then, the miraculous happens. Her sister-in-law Susan, a Martha Stewart-in-training, lands the chance to participate in a reality TV series about trying to live like the Amish and needs another family to join her. It's just the break Julie needs.

    But the summer adventure in simple living soon proves anything but simple. With the camera watching every move, Susan's drive for perfection feels a lot like what they left behind, while Julie suddenly finds herself needing to stand up for slowing down. Whether it's cooking, cleaning, or dressing differently, each new Amish challenge raises new complications...and soon each woman learns unexpected lessons about herself and her family.

    If you would like to read the first chapter of Almost Amish, go HERE.

    Inescapable by Nancy Mehl, and a giveaway

    Lizzie Engel is used to running away. At eighteen, she left her Mennonite hometown, Kingdom, Kansas, with plans never to return.

    But five years later, the new life she built is falling apart. Lizzie knows she's being followed, and she's certain the same mysterious stranger is behind the threatening letters she's received. Realizing she'll have to run again, the only escape Lizzie can manage is a return to the last place she wants to go.


    Once she arrives in Kingdom, Lizzie is confident she'll be safe until she comes up with a new plan. In reacquainting herself with the town and its people--especially her old friend, Noah Housler--she wonders if she judged her hometown and her Mennonite faith too harshly. However, just as she begins to come to terms with her roots, Lizzie is horrified to discover the danger she ran from is closer than ever.

    No longer sure who to trust and fearful for her life and the lives of those around her, Lizzie finds she has only one place left to run--to the Father whose love is inescapable.


    My review:

    From the cover, one would assume this is one of the Amish books that are popular with so many readers, but that is not the case. It IS about strict Mennonites who are very close to being Amish.

    The book is suspense, and the author does a great job with the suspense element of the book, and it kept me turning the pages to the great conclusion, but there is also a great message in the book. The author drove home a couple of points that I at least walked away with: No matter what people look like and what they believe, it is more important to love them, then be right and drive them away because we don't agree with them, and secondly change is not always bad.

    I liked the characters in the book, the plot, and the suspense. I can't remember if I have read any of Nancy's books before, but I really enjoyed this one.




    Win a Handmade Mennonite Quilt from @NancyMehl! RSVP for her INESCAPABLE Facebook Party 7/26!

    Celebrate with Nancy by entering her "Inescapable" Giveaway and connecting with her during the Author Chat Party on 7/26!




    Find out what readers are saying here.




    One winner will receive:

    • A Handmade Mennonite Quilt
    • A copy of Inescapable by Nancy Mehl
    Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on July 25th. Winner will be announced at the "Inescapable" Author Chat Facebook Party on 7/26. Nancy will be hosting a book chat, testing your trivia skills (how much do you know about the Mennonites?) and giving away some great prizes!



    So grab your copy of Inescapable and join Nancy on the evening of the July 26th for a chance to connect with Nancy and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)



    Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter




    Don't miss a moment of the RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 26th!

    Sunday, July 15, 2012

    When You Need A Miracle by Linda Evans Shepherd

    When we hurt, we want a God who is big enough to rescue us from heartache and circumstances beyond our imagination. But even if we believe that such a God exists, we don't always know how to approach him, much less how to ask him for the impossible.

    Linda Evans Shepherd knows what it's like to be in desperate need of a miracle. And she knows what it's like to receive God's answers to her prayers. In this powerful book, she shows you how to reach out to God and simply ask. She shows how God's answers may not come packaged in the ways we would expect, but they do come in ways that will transform our lives. Through solid biblical teaching and dramatic real-life stories, Shepherd walks with you on a journey of renewed hope and the assurance that God still works miracles.

    My review:
    I don't review many non-fiction books, but had this one offered and it sounded good, so I got it.

    The book isn't a long one, coming in at just 202 pages, but the author packs a lot into those 202 pages. She tells several stories of people who received miracles, talks about how to pray for miracles, and addresses some other very helpful issues such as why prayers are not answered, how to pray for the right things, and things that hinder our prayers. Scattered throughout the book are also prayers to pray in different circumstances and for different things.

    I enjoyed the book. The author made me think and makes a great case for miracles today.

    About the author:

    Linda Evans Shepherd is the author of over thirty books including When You Don't Know What to Pray: How to Talk to God about Anything and When You Can't Find God: How to Ignite the Power of His Presence, and the co-author of the popular series the Potluck Club and the Potluck Catering Club. Linda is an international speaker and media personality and is the creator of RightToTheHeart.tv and appears as a frequent host of Daystar's Denver Celebration.
    She's the leader of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and president of the nonprofit ministry Right to the Heart, which has seen over 500,000 people come to faith. She's married and has two children. To learn more about Linda, her speaking, and her ministries, see VisitLinda.com.

    Available July 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

    Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

    Thursday, July 12, 2012

    Tidewater Inn by Colleen Coble


    Welcome to Hope Beach. A place of intoxicating beauty . . . where trouble hits with the force of a hurricane.
    Inheriting a beautiful old hotel on the Outer Banks could be a dream come true for Libby. The inn cries out for her restorer's talent and love of history. She's delighted to learn of the family she never knew she had. And the handsome Coast Guard lieutenant she's met there on the island could definitely be the man of her dreams.

    But Libby soon realizes that the only way she can afford the upkeep on the inn is to sell it to developers who are stalking the island. The father who willed her the inn has died before she could meet him, and her newfound brother and sister are convinced she's there to steal their birthright. Worst of all, her best friend and business partner has been kidnapped before her eyes, and Libby's under suspicion for the crime.

    Libby's dream come true is becoming a nightmare. Her only option is to find her friend and prove her innocence, or lose everything on the shores of Hope Island.

    My review:

    There are authors whose names are synonymous with class, and Colleen Coble is one of them. I don't read everything she writes, as some of her books don't lean as much towards suspense, but the ones I do read, I thoroughly enjoy. And this book was one I did thoroughly enjoy.

    It is set in the Outer Banks, which was an added plus for me, as I love to vacation there, but it was just a top notch story all the way through. Coble has a great writing style, and I like the way she writes suspense.

    I started to read the book with the intention of reading some of it and finishing it another day, but the book was so good that I just kept reading until the end. There was a lot of romance in the book, but if it is done right, I can handle that, and it was. I loved the plot, the setting, characters, ending,  and everything about it.

    In addition to the suspense and romance, the book also dealt with family members forgiving each other and learning to act toward them as Jesus would.

    This is the first in a series, and I am definitely liking the start of this series. I'd highly recommend this one.

    About the author:

    Colleen Coble is the author of more than forty books, most of them bestsellers. Some of her most recent novels are Lonestar Angel, The Lightkeeper's Ball, Blue Moon Promise, and Anathema, an Amish suspense. One of her most popular series is the Rock Harbor mystery series featuring Bree and Samson, a search-and-rescue dog team. She has won the Carol Award numerous times as well as romance and mystery awards. She lives in Wabash, Indiana with her husband Dave. Check out her website at CollenCoble.com

    Tidewater Inn is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

    Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the review copy.