Monday, November 30, 2009

How Many Kings

A new Christmas song I like:

Follow the star to a place unexpected
Would you believe after all we’ve projected
A child in a manger

Lowly and small, the weakest of all
Unlikeliness hero, wrapped in his mothers shawl
Just a child
Is this who we’ve waited for?

Cause how many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

Bringing our gifts for the newborn savior
All that we have whether costly or meek
Because we believe
Gold for his honor and frankincense for his pleasure
And myrrh for the cross he’ll suffer
Do you believe, is this who we’ve waited for?
It’s who we’ve waited for

How many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
Only one did that for me

The Unfinished Gift by Dan Walsh, and a giveaway

Let me start out by saying if you read my reviews, you know I am always honest, and don't just give a glowing review to make the author and publisher happy. That said, I have to say this was an awesome read, one of the best Christmas books I have read in a long time - and I love Christmas books, so I should know.

The story is set in 1943, during World War II. Seven year old Patrick Collins has just been dropped off to live with a grandfather he has never met, while he waits for his father to come home from the war to rescue him from this mean old man who doesn't seem to want him around.

To make things worse, Patrick finds an unfinished gift in the attic, that the very mention of, sends his grandfather into a rage.

I really, really enjoyed this book. I loved the characters - the heartbroken little boy, longing for his dad, the crusty, grumpy grandfather, long separated from his only son by angry words and unforgiveness, and the two very different women who befriend the boy, and try to make his life a little more bearable. I not only found myself smiling throughout the book, but - do I dare admit it - found myself wiping my eyes on occasion. I am not in the habit of giving books "stars" on my blog, but if i did, and 5 stars was the highest, then 5 stars it would get.

I read the book in one sitting - a great gauge of how well I like a book. I settled into

the Lazy Boy recliner, and dove into the book, and was not disappointed. I highly recommend the book. Check out how to win a copy. Oh, and good news - there is a sequel planned for June.

Read a sample here:

About the author:

Dan Walsh is the pastor of Sovreign Grace Church in Daytona Beach, Florida, a church he helped found 23 years ago. Walsh lives with his family in the Daytona Beach area. This is his first novel. Visit his website here:

The giveaway:

Courtesy of the author, someone can win an autographed copy of this great book for your very own. I usually run giveaways for ten days or two weeks, but I am doing this one for one week, to give more time to get the book in time to read it before Christmas.

To enter, comment with a favorite gift you received for Christmas. One week from today on December 7th, I will pick a winner, and Dan Walsh will mail the winner a copy of his book.

Thanks to Dan for agreeing to help me out with a giveaway, and to Donna from Baker Books for sending me a review copy. If you don't win the book, buy yourself a copy, curl up, and enjoy a great Christmas story.

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

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas music, my top favorites

For the fun of it, I did this last year, but I found my Christmas CDs since then, and got a new Christmas CD, so here in no particular order are some of my top favorite Christmas songs:

1) It's Still The Greatest Story Ever Told: Gaither Vocal Band
2) Tennessee Christmas: Amy Grant
3) Redeeming Love: Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
4) Come On Ring Those Bells: Evie - though recorded 31 years ago, no one can beat her version
5) Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree: Brenda Lee - best ever
6) Hey Santa: Wendy & Carly Wilson
7) Christmas Wishes: Anne Murray
8) O Holy Night: Colin Raye - best version, in my opinion
9) God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen: Mannheim Steamroller
10) Winter Wonderland: Colin Raye, joined by the Beach Boys - neat version
11) We Are The Reason: Avalon
12) It's Christmas: Ronnie Milsap
13) I'll Be Home With Bells On: Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers
14) The Gift: Jim Brickman, Susan Ashton, and Colin Raye
15) Our God Is With Us: Steven Curtis Chapman

And below, one of my newest Christmas favorites, an old song, but a new recording. Redeeming Love by Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Best Buy Goes Muslim

I am one of those people who gets upset and frustrated by stores who avoid the use of "Christmas" in their ads and sales at Christmas, and/or allow their employees to say "Merry Christmas". I make it a practice to boycott stores that have that policy at Christmas time.

Best Buy has been one who consistently for the last few years has been anti-Christmas. I think it is ironic that the same stores who refuse to say "Christmas" still have sales and benefit from the season, and get real, it is not just a religious holiday, it is a national holiday.

I am beyond disgusted with Best Buy this year. The same store who won't use the word "Christmas" did a little "shout-out" in their on line ad to a Muslim holiday. Yep. They don't care about offending people by acknowledging a religion who breeds terrorists bent on destroying our country. Ad can be seen here:

You can disagree with me if you want - won't be the first time in your life you have been wrong ;-) - but I think we need to stand up, call Best Buy, tell them we have a problem with both of these issues - banning "Christmas", then turning around and giving a Muslim holiday a nod. I tried calling tonight, told a guy on the phone very politely, and he said to call back tomorrow and talk to Consumer relations - also said when I say "Muslim" I will get directed to them. I plan on being polite, but letting my feelings be known, and that unless they change, I will never shop at a Best Buy again.

You can disagree with me again, but I firmly believe one big reason our country is in such a mess is because way too many Christians have sat on their butts and let the liberals and non-Christians take over the country. We let abortion be legalized. We let prayer be taken out of the schools. We just sit back and don't do anything. If every person who is a Christian got out and voted the way they should, bugged their congressmen, called stores about stuff like this - our nation would be a lot better off, and we wouldn't be dealing with stuff that we are dealing with.

So call Best Buy and tell them what you think. Boycott them, whatever - but if we sit back and be silent, the day may come when Christmas is illegal. Don't look so doubtful - it could happen.

1-888-BEST BUY (1-888-237-8289)

And in case anyone is interested, here is a list of some stores' Christmas policies updated for this year from the American Family Association:

Companies FOR "Christmas"
updated 11-24-09
Bath & Body Works
Bed Bath & Beyond
Big Lots
Collective Brands
Dollar Tree
Family Dollar
Dollar General
H.E.B. Stores
Harris Teeter Stores
Hobby Lobby
Home Depot
JC Penney
JoAnn Fabrics & Crafts Stores
Michael's Stores
Neiman Marcus
Pier One Imports
Rite Aid
Super D Drug Stores
Wal-Mart/Sam's Club

Companies marginalizing "Christmas"
updated 11-24-09

Best Buy
Bass Pro Shops
Hancock Fabrics
Hy-Vee Stores
Toys R Us
Whole Foods

Companies against "Christmas"
updated 11-24-09

Advance Auto Parts
Banana Republic
Barnes & Noble
Best Buy
CVS Pharmacy
Dick's Sporting Goods
Gap Stores
Home Shopping Network
Limited Brands
Office Depot
Old Navy
Radio Shack
Victoria's Secret

Company uses the term "Christmas" on a regular basis, we consider that company Christmas-friendly.

Company refers to Christmas infrequently, or in a single advertising medium, but not in others, considered marginalizing Christmas

Company may use "Christmas" sparingly in a single or unique product description, but as a company, does not recognize it considered "against Christmas"

Blackout by Jason Elam & Steve Yohn

Riley Covington is still reeling from his father's brutal murder when he learns he's been traded. Meanwhile, the counterterrorism division has detected a plot to detonate electromagnetic pulse bombs that could leave the U.S. without power, communications, and transportation-right down to dropping planes out of the sky. CTD scrambles to stop the attacks, but they run out of time. Amid the fallout, Riley, Scott, Skeeter, and CTD must regroup to make sure the second bomb doesn't reach its destination.
Blackout is the third book in the Riley Covington Thriller series. I loved the first two, and this one did not disappoint.

Riley Covington is a football player who was in special ops in the military, and who gets called back into special ops when he is needed. I really don't like football, but I totally love this series. It has terrorists, special ops, great characters, suspense - you name it.

In Blackout, there are threats to the US of EMPs - electromagnetic pulse bombs - something that would wipe out all power, from electric to cell phones, even cars and planes - a very

real threat in real life, by the way. Riley and his team are called up to stop this act of terrorism.

I highly recommend this book, and the other two in the series. If you like Joel Rosenberg's fictional series, you will most surely enjoy these books.

First chapter available here:

About the authors:

JASON ELAM is a 16-year NFL veteran placekicker for the Atlanta Falcons. He was born in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1988, Jason received a full football scholarship to the University of Hawaii, where he played for four years, earning academic All-America and Kodak All-America honors. He graduated in 1992 with a bachelor's degree in communications and was drafted in the third round of the 1993 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos, where he played for 15 years.

In 1997 and 1998, Jason won back-to-back world championships with the Broncos and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1995, 1998, and 2001. He is currently working on a master's degree in global apologetics at Liberty Theological Seminary and has an abiding interest in Middle East affairs, the study of Scripture, and defending the Christian faith. Jason is a licensed commercial airplane pilot, and he and his wife, Tamy, have four children.

STEVE YOHN grew up as a pastor's kid in Fresno, California, and both of those facts contributed significantly to his slightly warped perspective on life. Steve graduated from Multnomah Bible College with a bachelor's degree in biblical studies and barely survived a stint as a youth pastor.

While studying at Denver Seminary, Steve worked as a videographer for Youth for Christ International, traveling throughout the world to capture the ministry's global impact. With more than two decades of ministry experience, both inside and outside the church, Steve has discovered his greatest satisfactions lie in writing, speaking, and one-on-one mentoring. Surprisingly, although his hobbies are reading classic literature, translating the New Testament from the Greek, and maintaining a list of political leaders of every country of the world over the last twenty-five years, he still occasionally gets invited to parties and has a few friends. His wife, Nancy, and their daughter are the joys of his life.

Blackout will be available in January from Tyndale Publishing.

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this ARC for review.

Monday, November 23, 2009

An Amish Christmas: December In Lancaster County

Follow the lives of three Amish families through the Christmas season.

A Miracle for Miriam: Miriam fell for Seth, but he broke her heart. Years later, after he’s nearly killed in an accident, Miriam sees him at a Christmas party and notices something is different about him—not just how he looks, but how he acts. When Seth pursues her, she must decide whether to guard her heart or accept his love.

A Choice to Forgive: Lydia has loved two men in her life. Daniel disappeared one Christmas Eve long ago, leaving only a note saying he wanted to live in the Englisch world. And Elam, Daniel's brother, to whom she has been happily married for 15 years. When Elam dies, Lydia gives up on ever loving again. But she is shocked when Daniel wants to return to the Order and her life.

One Child: The birth of one child forever changed the world two thousand years ago. On this snowy Lancaster Christmas Eve, another child will change the world of two couples.

Maybe I am developing a taste for Amish romance books, or it could be because it is a Christmas book, regardless why, I really enjoyed this book. Though the three stories are written by 3 different authors, Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, and Barbara Cameron; the stories are woven together with the same characters appearing in all three stories.

You have it all in these three stories: love, forgiveness, hope, and of course - Christmas. I have never read anything by any of these three authors, but if this book is an indication, all three are worth reading more of.

I have vacationed in Lancaster County, PA, and it was refreshing to visit it again through this book. If you enjoy Amish books, Christmas books, or both, you will enjoy An Amish Christmas. Check it out.

The book is available from Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the review copy.

Holiday recipe

I had to type this up for someone this morning, so decided to share it here too. It is really good, and a wonderful way to have cranberries on Thanksgiving Day.

Cranberry Relish Salad

1 package (3 ounce) of strawberry gelatin

1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup orange juice concentrate

1 package (12 ounce) fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped

1 medium apple, peeled and chopped

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup pecans

In a bowl, dissolve gelatin in boiling water.

Stir in concentrate.

Combine cranberries, apple, and sugar, add to gelatin mixture

Stir in pecans.

Pour into a 1 1/2 quart serving dish

Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight

Yield 6-8 servings

Finding Thankfulness

Author Mike Dellosso did an excellent blog post on Finding Thankfulness. I am posting it below, all of it is his words:

Somtimes life throws some real junk at us. It's like that merciless bully that just won't leave us alone. It's gotta keep coming and coming with the bad stuff. Relentless. Overwhelming. Cruel. And just when you think, "It can't get much worse than this" . . . it does.

Ever been there? I know I have. And I know many others who have as well.

This is the time of year when thankfulness is foremost on our minds. Everyone's saying their thankful for this and thankful for that. But what about when you're in that valley and the bully is hot on your heels, ready to dish out another beating? What about when you just don't feel very thankful at all? Things are bleak, the color for the day is black, gray at best, and the tunnel is long and dark with no light to be seen?

Like I said, I've been there.

And here's what I learned: there's always something to be thankful for. I know it sounds cliche-ish and maybe it is. But it's true. Every situation, every circumstance, every valley, every dark tunnel, has something to be thankful for. Oh, sometimes you have to look hard for it, and at the time it may not seem like much, but it's there. I promise.

I believe that God inserts these little blessings into every trial we go through, pinpoints of light. His fingerprints are there. Sometimes (maybe most times) they're not very visible and you have to go through some work to dust for them, but if you look closely enough, you'll find them. And then they'll be so obvious you'll wonder why you didn't see them all along and you'll cling to them like your life depends on it. Because it does.

Last year at this time I was undergoing chemo for my colon cancer, still had my ileostomy, and was struggling in more ways than I cared to admit. So I had to go back and see what I wrote on this topic of thankfulness last year. Here's a snippet:

This is going to sound really weird and maybe even a bit sick, but one of the things I'm thankful for this year is my battle with cancer.

Because of the cancer that has invaded my body I've experienced things, learned things, witnessed things, and prayed things I never would have otherwise. I've seen God work in, yes, miraculous ways. I've seen His faithfulness up close and personal, been on the receiving end of His grace, felt the comfort of His arms around me, found things in His Word I've never seen before, and heard the soothing sound of His voice in my ear.

Like I said, there's always something to be thankful for. Think about

original post at:

Loss of Carrier by Russ White

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Loss Of Carrier

BookSurge Publishing (October 27, 2009)


Russ White


Bright yellow cables against a blue shirt? Carl never would have approved of that color combination. Why was his face so white? His eyes should be closed, not open. Why hadn’t one of the security guards seen this and reported it to the police? The lights were off, the cameras were useless in the dark.

Of course, the cables wrapped around Carl’s neck explained why the server wasn’t working. Loss of carrier.

Jess Wirth lives a dreary life. He spends most of his time crammed inside a cubicle, toiling as a network engineer and stewing over the details of his ugly divorce. But when he finds his co-worker dead in the basement of their office, Jess’s life takes a surprising—and unpleasant—turn.

The police quickly declare the death a suicide, but Jess isn’t so sure. Not long after he begins digging into the victim’s work, another co-worker turns up dead, convincing him once and for all that something sinister is brewing behind the cubicle walls.

His investigation leads him to a mysterious woman name Leah, who pushes him to entrust her with the information he’s collected about his dead colleagues. Wary of Leah’s motives yet inexorably drawn to her, Jess keeps her at arm’s length...until an attempt is made on both their lives. Realizing they are close on the trail of a dangerous criminal, the pair race to expose a data theft ring before they become the killer’s next victims.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Loss Of Carrier, go HERE
My thoughts:
This is the author's first novel, and self-published at that, but I think he did a great job. I loved the book. It had mystery and suspense, very likable characters, and was definitely Christian. I admit some of the computer tech stuff was above my head, but I still enjoyed the book, and it was refreshing to have a male protagonist as the central character, as it seems it is usually a woman, even when the author is male. I look forward to reading more from this author.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Heritage Day

Last night my nieces' school had "heritage day" and each class had to do something for it. I took a few pictures, didn't get of every class, but here are some:

My niece Katie's class did a presentation of some of the states. Each kid made a poster about the state, and got up to talk about it. They had a slide presentation and each kid had to point out things on the slide like the state flower, state bird, famous people from that state, etc. Katie did North Carolina, her favorite vacation spot.

Allie's class picked something more ancient in history. She did farming in ancient Egypt

Stephanie's class did famous people in history. She had Captain Cook.

The first graders also did famous people in history, but dressed up like them. Below, Davy Crockett.

George Washington
And a nameless Indian.

And last, but not least, Miss Lori LaVan, Stephanie's teacher, who begged me not to post her picture on my blog - what would make her think I would do that?! I asked her what she'd pay for me not to do it, and since she never said, here it is, the world's loveliest pirate:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Swope's Ridge by Ace Collins

September 12, 2001. Four members of the Klasser family are found dead outside Dallas, Texas. In the wake of 9/11, the Klassers' neighbor, Omar Jones-an American citizen of Arab descent-is convicted of their murder.
A month before Jones' execution, attorney Lije Evans searches for evidence that will prove the man innocent. But Evans' quest goes deeper than solving one crime. He is determined to find the secret behind the dark history of sleepy Swope's Ridge-and how it ties into his wife's murder.

Interlocking mysteries lead Evans and his team to the battlegrounds of former Nazi Germany, the dirt roads of Kansas, and a rusty cargo ship in the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, they discover a secret that offers the promise of great power-and the greatest temptation they've ever faced.

This is the second book in the Lige Evans Mystery series, following Farraday Road, which was Collin's first fiction book. Swope's Ridge is even better than the first book, and ties up the loose ends left in the first book.
I really enjoyed this book. It is suspense, my favorite genre', and it had an interesting plot, going back to World War II. The author threw out an interesting - and scary scenario, and tied it up all neatly at the end. I am looking forward to reading more of his novels, and hope he writes more in this series - the characters are likable and believable. Great read guaranteed.
About the author:
Ace Collins is the award-winning author of Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas, Turn Your Radio On, Lassie: A Dog's Life, and many other nonfiction books. He has appeared on CBS This Morning, NBC Nightly News, CNN, the Today Show, Good Morning America, and Entertainment Tonight. He lives in Texas.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

2012, The Bible, and the End of the World

I was chatting with my buddy Steven one evening, and he brought up this 2012 deal, asked me if I had heard anything about it - I hadn't. He explained it was a belief that the world was going to end in the year 2012. December 21, 2012, to be exact.

To my surprise, a few days later, I received the book 2012, The Bible, and the End of the World in the mail from Harvest House Publishers. I started reading with interest. Seems quite the movement has been going on, and I had no idea. According to the author, Mark Hitchcock, not only are there all kinds of books foretelling that the end of the world is coming in 2012, there are also websites telling people how to survive it.

Hitchcock gives a good rundown on the 2012 movement, and also shows why there is no Biblical basis to believe that these people are correct in their thinking. He also goes down through various other periods in history where people were so sure that the world was ending and/or Jesus was returning.

Even though I was already skeptical that anyone could know when the end of the world, the book was still a profitable read. The author knows his stuff, and in a very knowledgeable way, totally debunks the thinking that we can set a timetable to know the end of the world.

About the author:

Mark Hitchcock is a leading Bible prophecy expert, prolific author who has penned over 20 books on the end times, senior pastor, and adjunct faculty member of the Dallas Theological Seminary.

A former attorney, Mark initially worked for the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. Following a call to full-time ministry, today he serves as senior pastor of Faith Bible Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, just outside of Oklahoma City. He graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1991, where he subsequently earned his doctorate in 2006 and more recently has served as an adjunct faculty member.

Hitchcock maintains an active speaking schedule, appearing frequently at prophecy conferences, seminaries, and churches. He and his wife, Cheryl, live in Edmond, Oklahoma with their two sons Justin and Samuel.

2012, The Bible, and the End of the World is available from Harvest House Publishing. Thanks to Dave from Harevest House for the review copy, which was provided for me to review.

Christmas Canon In G

A video my sister posted of my oldest niece, Stephanie, playing a Trans Siberian Orchestra Song. She recorded herself playing it on the piano, and plays along on the violin. Five years of piano lessons, one year of violin lessons - I think she does pretty great.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Under The Cajun Moon

Chloe Ledet's larger-than-life father, the famous New Orleans restaurateur Chef Julien, seems invincible---until he's shot under suspicious circumstances. Returning home, Chloe quickly discovers that their whole family is in terrible danger. Can she trust the handsome, mysterious Cajun who's helping her---or has she gone from the frying pan to the fire?

This is the first book I have read by Mindy Starns Clark, and it was an enjoyable read. The story is set in New Orleans, and in addition to being full of mystery, suspense, and romance, the book is also full of Cajun. Cajun lingo, people, and food. I have to admit, in addition to being entertained, I came away with a desire to try some of the Cajun foods mentioned in the book.

The story bounces back and forth between the present, and some events that happened in the 1700's. The author ties them together in a delightful way, and when I finished the book, it left me with the desire to read more by her. Her books are probably more geared towards women, but guys who enjoy mysteries will like her books also.

About the author:
Mindy Starns Clark is the bestselling author of the "Million Dollar Mysteries" series and the "Smart Chick Mystery" series, as well as the nonfiction how-to guide The House That Cleans Itself. A singer and former stand-up comedian, Mindy is also a popular inspirational speaker and playwright. Born and raised in Louisiana, Mindy now lives near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, with her husband, two teenage daughters, and two dogs. For more information, visit her website at

Under The Cajun Moon is available from Harvest House Publishers. Thanks to Dave from HH for the review copy, which was provided to me for reviewing.

Whose fault is it...... a rant in B major

I had a great visit with my buddy Steven. He arrived Wednesday evening, and returned on Sunday afternoon. This blog post is of because of something that happened while he was here, though it has nothing to do with him. My nieces spent the evening here Friday night, and stayed all day Saturday until their parents came down for supper. Early in the day on Saturday, one of my nieces made a comment that bothered me. That bothers me still: "Some of the kids at school aren't very nice to _______"

I was picked on a lot in school. I went to a Christian school, and most of the kids there were from Christian homes, but it still happened. I still carry the effects and scars of what I went through in school and later, to a lesser degree, in Bible college. Bullies are everywhere. Whether you send your kids to public or Christian school, or even home school them - they will run into a bully somewhere.

I don't know the kid in question very well at my nieces' school. Seems like a nice kid, normal, etc, so I am not sure why some of the kids "aren't very nice." In my case, it seemed to mostly be because I wasn't much into sports, nor good at them, so I was bullied and picked on - explains why to this day I detest most sports.

What I got to wondering about in this situation, and even in mine, is whose fault is it when kids are bullies and "not nice" to other kids? Is it the bullies' fault? The one being bullied? The parents? Or even the teachers?

In my experience, it seems all too often kids aren't watched well enough at school. Looking back, I wonder why my teachers didn't see more, why someone didn't put a stop to the way I was treated. I am in no way knocking our teachers - I am all for Christian schools and feel we have some great teachers, and in fact, the situation my niece mentioned was addressed by a teacher or the principal...... but is it the teacher's fault when kids are bullied? Only if it is because of a lack of supervision, and kids can't be watched constantly. I was picked on when the teacher left the room for any reason, so barring a security camera, that couldn't have stopped that abuse.

To blame the kid being bullied reeks of the same attitude as saying a girl deserved or asked to be raped. So I wasn't into nor good at sports - did that make me bad, less of a human, less of a boy? Did that made me deserve to be a target? I don't think so. I deserved to be liked, have friends - surely that shouldn't hinge on a boy's participation and talent at sports.

Is it the bullies' fault? Kids will be kids, and of course the ultimate decision on how a kid treats others is his or her own choice.

I believe the ultimate blame for a bully is the parents. How to treat others should be part of child training. Don't just assume your kids are going to be nice and kind to others. Train them to be.

A friend of mine from church told me something interesting. As a child, her family traveled a lot in evangelism, singing and preaching. They went to a lot of camp meetings during the summer, and her parents taught them that when they went to a camp meeting, to seek out the kids that no one else was hanging around, and befriend them. I think that is totally awesome. What if all parents trained their kids to do that - not just at camp meetings, but at school, church, everywhere they are around other kids.

I'm afraid all too many parents just think their kids are angels and would never be a bully. One of my worst bullies was a cousin of mine - yeah, I even got picked on by my cousins, lucky kid I was! When I was in 9th grade, among other things, while some other boys held me down, he tried to force a pencil up my nose. We had some family problems due to his actions, and a few years later, my aunt and uncle asked my parents if it was true that he really tried to stick a pencil up my nose - they seemed to find it hard to believe that THEIR son would do such a thing. But oh, he did.

Parents may even be training their kids to be bullies, and not realizing it. When a parent talks critically or even makes fun of someone else in their kids' hearing, their kids get the idea that it is ok to do that, so naturally it is going to affect how they treat other kids.

Kids don't always do what they are trained to do, and not everything a kid does is their parents' fault, but I firmly believe that if parents were careful about how they treat others, and how they talk about them - and trained their kids to be kind and friendly to others, even when they aren't like them, there would be far less bullies, and kids would treat other kids nicer.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blog vacation

I may not be around the rest of the week - my best friend is arriving from Indiana this evening and will be staying til Sunday, so I may not get on my blog. Hoping to get some walking in on the trail, if weather permits, and some shopping, though I won't be spending anything.

In the meantime, check out the 2 giveaways I have going, one ending on the 17th, the other on the 18th.

Regret-free Living by Steven Arterburn

Learn why we so often get stuck in regret, how it impacts our relationships, and how we can move forward into emotional and spiritual freedom! In this hope-filled guide, best-selling author and New Life Live! host Arterburn will help you release what was and focus on the path of what is and what still can be.

Anything Steven Arterburn writes is great, or so has been my experience, and this book is no different. The full title is Regret-Free Living: Hope for Past Mistakes and Freedom from Unhealthy Patterns. I admit that when I started reading it, I thought it was going to be all about marriage relationships, but it isn't. Though it does tackle marriage, it goes over how to live out any kind of relationship so you don't have regrets.

Using occasional stories about people, and himself, Arterburn assures that though his book is no quick-fix, we can live a life free of regrets, thought sometimes we have to fully face our past regrets, and deal with them, but he points out how unhealthy it is to stay focused on regrets.

I needed to read this, and I'm sure there are tons of people out there that need to read it. As Steven Artberburn points out, it is easy to get caught up with past mistakes, and focus so much on regrets that it hurts the relationships we have, even with God. So, if you find yourself living with regrets, check out this book. It just might help.

About the author:
Stephen Arterburn is the founder and chairman of New Life Ministries—the nation’s largest faith-based broadcast, counseling and treatment ministry—and is the host of the nationally syndicated “New Life Live!” daily radio program heard on over 180 radio stations nationwide. Steve is also the founder of the Women of Faith conferences attended by over 3,000,000 women.

Steve is a nationally known public speaker and has been featured in national media venues such as Oprah, Inside Edition, Good Morning America, CNN Live, New York Times, USA Today, US News & World Report and most recently ABC World News Tonight, GQ magazine and Rolling Stone.

As a best-selling author, Steve has written over 60 books, including the best selling Every Man’s series and his most recent book, Reframe Your Life. He has been nominated for numerous writing awards and won three Gold Medallion awards for writing excellence.

Steve has degrees from Baylor University and The University of North Texas as well as having obtained two honorary doctorate degrees.

Steve resides with his family in Laguna Beach, California.

This book was provided by Bethany House, in exchange for my reviewing it.

It is available in hardcover from Baker Books.

The Silent Gift, by Landon & Kelley

Today I am reviewing The Silent Gift by Michael Landon, Jr. and Cindy Kelley.

During the Great Depression, Mary's husband walks out on her and their disabled son, Jack. Suddenly they're on their own in world that despises the poor. Then Jack receives a mysterious ability. Where has it come from? Can a young boy who can neither speak nor hear counsel and comfort seekers? Bittersweet and heartwarming.

My thoughts:

This is an unusual book, but very gripping. For me, it was another of those "read in one sitting" kind of books. Though not a suspense novel, it did have its moments of suspense.

One thing that stood out to me was the descriptive sentences used. The authors certainly have a way with words, and did an excellent job of painting a picture with their words.

I loved the characters in this book. Mary, the mother who will go to any means necessary to protect her son, and Jack, the little boy who has never heard or spoken in his life. And the
re are other colorful characters throughout the book. Some who do all they can to protect this wonderful little boy, and some who are out to exploit and hurt him.

Though fiction, the story raises some food for thought. Is it ever right to profit from a God-given gift? And it shows that it is always best to seek God's will in what we do, and the results when we do not.

This is the first collaboration between these two authors, and it is a good one. They did a wonderful job of portraying life in the 1940's, and the love of a mother for her very special son.

Thanks to Edify Media for the review copy.

The Silent Gift is availble from Baker Books Publishing.

Prisoner of Versaille, by Golden Keyes Parsons

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Prisoner of Versaille

Thomas Nelson (September 1, 2009)


Golden Keyes Parsons


In her deep plowing of the heart, moving from tears one moment to laughter the next, Golden will touch your heart with her dynamic Bible teaching, combined with her vivid personal examples, moving from tears one moment, to laughter the next, all the while communicating the message that God is faithful--keep trusting Him. She has a passion to communicate the Word of God in such a manner that will lead to godly living.

Golden, and her husband, Blaine, have just retired as pastors at Faith Mountain Fellowship Church in Red River, NM. They have three grown daughters and eight grandchildren. Her testimony and myriad of life experiences lend a touch of authenticity to her teaching. She loves to speak for women's conferences, seminars, luncheons, retreats and Mother/Daughter events.

If deep Bible teaching that brings the Scriptures alive is what you want, Golden is the speaker you need.


Madeleine's faith puts her at odds with an intimidating rival: King Louis XIV.

Having fled their homeland of France because of the persecution by Louis XIV, the Clavell family seeks refuge in Switzerland. However, the king is not about to let the recently widowed Madeleine, his childhood sweetheart, escape that easily. He sends musketeers to kidnap her and her oldest son, Philippe, holding them captive in his opulent palace. King Louis is suspicious that Philippe could be his son, and he's enraged by the growing affection of one of his courtiers for Madeleine.

Will Madeleine escape the king with her life or lose everything that she's fought so hard to keep?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Prisoner of Versaille , go HERE

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It Will Be Worth It All

I love this song. I think, but am not sure, that it was written by Bill & Gloria Gaither

It Will Be Worth It All (When We Get Home)

There's a Promised Land
Made for all the free
When our race on earth is run
Where no broken dreams
Will mar our memories
It will be worth it all when we get Home

No sad farewells
There no tear stained eyes
There no heartache, grief, or woe
There no shattered hopes
Will ever cloud the skies
It will be worth it all when we get home


It will be worth it all
Just to see His face
When He claims us for His own
Then ten million years
To sing Amazing Grace
It will be worth it all when we get home

Dangerous dudes

My nephews love camoflouge, and evidently have been playing "hunting" today. My brother-in-law sent me this picture - a bit dark, but I loved it. My dad said they look like little Muslims. :-)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fit To Be Tied by Robin Lee Hatcher

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Fit to Be Tied

Zondervan (November 1, 2009)


Robin Lee Hatcher


Robin Lee Hatcher discovered her vocation as a novelist after many years of reading everything she could put her hands on, including the backs of cereal boxes and ketchup bottles. The winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction (Whispers from Yesterday), the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance (Patterns of Love and The Shepherd's Voice), two RT Career Achievement Awards (Americana Romance and Inspirational Fiction), and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award, Robin is the author of over 50 novels, including Catching Katie, named one of the Best Books of 2004 by the Library Journal.

Robin enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, reading books that make her cry, and watching romantic movies. She is passionate about the theater, and several nights every summer, she can be found at the outdoor amphitheater of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, enjoying Shakespeare under the stars. She makes her home outside of Boise, sharing it with Poppet the high-maintenance Papillon


Cleo Arlington dresses like a cowboy, is fearless and fun-loving, and can ride, rope, and wrangle a horse as well as any man. In 1916, however, those talents aren’t what most young women aspire to. But Cleo isn’t most women. Twenty-nine years old and single, Cleo loves life on her father’s Idaho ranch. Still, she hopes someday to marry and have children.

Enter Sherwood Statham, an English aristocrat whose father has sentenced him to a year of work in America to “straighten him out.” Sherwood, who expected a desk job at a posh spa, isn’t happy to be stuck on an Idaho ranch. And he has no idea how to handle Cleo, who’s been challenged with transforming this uptight playboy into a down-home cowboy, because he has never encountered a woman succeeding in a “man’s world.”

Just about everything either of them says or does leaves the other, well, fit to be tied. Cleo Arlington knows everything about horses but nothing about men. And though Cleo believes God’s plan for her includes a husband, it couldn’t possibly be Sherwood Statham. Could it?

Their bumpy trot into romance is frustrating, exhilarating, and ultimately heartwarming.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Fit to Be Tied , go HERE.

Watch the book video Trailer:

I have not read the book yet, I passed it on to my sister tor read first, and she said it is really good - but I highly recommend Robin Lee Hatcher's books. One of my favorite all-time books by any author is her "Forgiving Hour", I believe her first novel on the Christian market. Check it out if you have never read anything by her.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Swiss Courier, by Goyer & Yorkey - And A Giveaway

Book description:

She's risking her life to save a man she doesn't know. But who can she trust along the way?

It is August 1944, and the Gestapo is mercilessly rounding up suspected enemies of the Third Reich following the assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler's life. Gabi Mueller is a young woman working for the newly formed American Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the CIA) in Basel, Switzerland. When she is asked to put herself in harm's way to safely "courier" a German scientist working on the atomic bomb project into Allied hands, the fate of the the world hangs in the balance. This fast-paced, suspenseful novel will whisk you along the treacherous twists and turns of a fascinating- and deadly- time in history.

My thoughts:

The Swiss Courier, by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey is an awesome book, and is the best historical novel that I have read in a long time. Not only was the story entertaining, I learned a lot throughout the story. The authors focus on the role of Switzerland during World War II, and among other things, I learned that any Jews who escaped into Switzerland and were caught by the Swiss, were turned back over to the Germans.

The book is full of intriguing individuals who worked to save Jews from death at Hitler's hand. American agents, Swiss, German, and double agents for both sides. I am honest in my reviews, and I highly recommend this book. It is not just a pleasureable read, it is fascinating and educational. The book was clean, with no bad language. I hope these two authors collaborate on another book in the future.

About the authors:

Tricia Goyer is the author of twenty books, including Night of Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights, both winners of the American Christian Fiction Writer's Book of the Year Award for Long Historical Romance.

Mike Yorkey is the author or coauthor of dozens of books, including the Every Man's Battle series. Married to a Swiss native, Yorkey previously lived in Switzerland.

The giveaway:

Courtesy of Tricia Goyer, I am hosting a giveaway for this book. The winner's mailing address will be mailed to her, and she will mail the book out.

The rules:
One comment to enter, US entries only. To make it a little more interesting, when you comment, tell what you like to read about/what time period when reading a historical novel. I am going to do this drawing for ten days instead of the usual two weeks, so ten days from today, on November 18, I will draw one winner.

If you are interested in reading more about the book, there is an interesting interview with the authors here:

Thanks to Donna from Baker for sending me a copy of The Swiss Courier to review, and thanks also to Tricia Goyer for providing a giveaway copy. Check out her books - her series on the Spanish Civil War looks really good.

And if you are a guy, check out Mike Yorkey's books for men.

The Swiss Courier is available October 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

This book was provided for review by Baker Books.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

We Are The Reason

One of my favorite Christmas songs - awesome song.

We Are The Reason (David Meece)

As little children
We would dream of Christmas morn
Of all the gifts and toys
We knew we'd find
But we never realized
A baby born one blessed night
Gave us the greatest gift of our lives

We were the reason
That He gave His life
We were the reason
That He suffered and died
To a world that was lost
He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live

As the years went by
We learned more about gifts
The giving of ourselves
And what that means
On a dark and cloudy day
A man hung crying in the rain
All because of love, all because of love

I've finally found the reason for living
It's in giving every part of my heart to Him
In all that I do every word that I say
I'll be giving my all just for Him, for Him

Methinks he protests too much.......

Ran onto this from an author I read, and who I emailed once about the use of "go to hell" in one of his books. Guess it is no surprise that he would hold these opinions. I will say before pasting it here, that the publisher in question does go overboard, but I agree with more of what should be left out, than what I don't agree with.

I also would like to point out, that the Love Inspired books is an imprint of Harlequin books. I don't know if anyone else will agree, but even though they carry their guidelines futher than necessary, I find it sad that a secular publisher who publishes sex-filled books on the secular market, is more concerned about offending Christian readers than some of the Christian publishers and authors out there.

What's Wrong with this Picture?Share
Today at 12:41pm
I recently came across a web page that rocked my world. In the worst of ways.

It’s the writing guidelines for a major publisher of “Christian” fiction called LOVE INSPIRED GUIDELINES. Interestingly it was another major Christian publisher that brought the webpage to my attention. They were as taken back as me. There was something disturbing about what showed up on the page before us. Something offensive to all of us.

The guidelines represent an unintentional but devastating attack against realism. Certainly against all writers and readers interested in truth. If these guidelines, or anything similar to them, help define “Christian” fiction than surely I must never be classified as such. I never have, nor ever would, write by such guidelines and would run from the term with a loud scream that attracted all the world’s attention. Thankfully, this does not describe my publisher, but it brings up a critical point we must consider.

Let me explain.

I understand the reasoning of many to avoid offense—loving your neighbor rarely includes intentionally upsetting them. But to avoid offense at the expense of the truth is in itself offensive, yes?

Case in point, Jesus pointed out the truth to the Pharisees by calling them a brood of vipers. They were a clean bunch who followed every part of the law to a ‘T’. They didn’t lie, steal, commit adultery, or use foul language, etc, etc, etc. But he looked past their works and called their hearts impure in light of their high standards and he offended them deeply by speaking this truth.

In our stories we need to concern ourselves with truth. When we write about love, for example, we need to understand that there is more than just love in the world. That there is much ugliness which stands in the face of true love. Our characterization of that ugliness in our writing must be consistent with its true nature. To whitewash the page of that contrast makes a mockery of love’s ability to overcome offense and ugliness.

The Pharisees lived by a code avoiding all that was scandalous, but Jesus embraced that scandal by associating unapologetically with the unclean. They dehumanized the lepers and prostitutes by refusing to associate with them, yet Jesus reached out to them and let them wash his feet. He was beauty in their ashes, the oil of joy in their mourning; they flocked to him and he embraced them as they were.

The disparity between his approach and the pharisaical approach was in part what got him killed. The word that became flesh walked into the dark corners of thieves, adulterers, heretics, Samaritans, and political oppressors. Jesus derided the religious for their attempt to remain pure by shunning the very real, human condition of others.

Forgive me, I mean no harm, but I can’t help thinking that the following ‘LOVE INSPIRED GUIDELINES’ unwittingly do the same. They suggest that in our writing we do what the Pharisees did in their living. We must not be puritanical at the expense of incarnational truth, nor must we forget that the truth is as scandalous today as it was two thousand years ago.

I want you to read the list below and consider with me: Is it any wonder that Christians are branded as out of touch with human need and realism? Many mourn the fact that the world looks at Christianity with such disdain, yet if this list helps define Christianity, would you not scoff as well? The world is laughing at such pettiness—such a puritanical, even Pharisaical standard—that has nothing to do with true faith.

I paste, without a single edit:

Love Inspired Guidelines

Terms that cannot be used in a Steeple Hill novel:

Breast (except for breast cancer if necessary)
Buttocks or butt (alternatively, you can say derriere or backside)
Damn (try "blast" instead)
Devil (except in the religious sense, but the circumstances would be rare)
Dang or Dagnabbit
Father (when used to describe a religious official)
For heaven's sake (can use "for goodness' sake" instead)
For the love of Mike
For Pete's sake
Geez/jeez (but "sheesh" is acceptable)
Heat (when used to describe kisses)
Hell (except in the religious sense, but this would be rare)
Holy cow
Need/hunger (when used to describe non-food-focused state of being)
Sexual attraction
Tempting (as applied to the opposite sex)
St. [name of saint]
Swear, as in "I swear..." - Christian characters are not supposed to swear.
Undergarments - of any kind

The following are allowed only in the context mentioned:

Angel - only when used in a Biblical context
Miracle - only when used in a Biblical context
Oh my God/Oh, God - ONLY allowed when it's clearly part of a prayer
Heavenly - only when used in a Biblical context
Although you can say “He cursed” or mention cursing, do not overuse. Furthermore, only non-Christian characters can curse.
Situations to be avoided:
Kissing below the neck
Visible signs or discussions of arousal or sexual attraction or being out of control
Double entendre
Nudity - people changing clothes "on screen" or any character clad only in a towel
Hero and heroine sleeping in the same house without a third party, even if they're not sleeping together or in the same room

Also, Christian characters should not smoke, drink, gamble, play cards or dance (except in historical novels they may dance but please limit to square dances and balls, no “sexy” dancing like waltzing cheek to cheek), and terms associated with these activities should only be used in connection with bad guys or disapproving of them or such.

Bodily functions, like going to the bathroom, should be mentioned as little as possible and some euphemism may be necessary but we don't want to sound quaint or absurd.

There you have it. As I said, thankfully, my publisher doesn’t hold to such a narrow standard. But make no mistake, these kinds of guidelines publically characterize Christianity and so called ‘Christian Fiction’ as being out of touch with reality, narrow minded and judgmental, regardless of the publisher’s intention.

So I have to ask you, what do you think Jesus would think of this list and what should be your reaction?

A) He would be appalled by it and call it out, and so should you. B) He would be appalled by it but would say nothing, and neither should you. C) He would commend those who embrace it, as should you. D) He wouldn’t care either way, and neither should you.

Be heard

My thoughts - I beieve Jesus would be careful in what He reads, and would be offended by cursing and some other doubtful words and situations that are creeping into Christian books. And if He owned the publishing company, I believe His standards would be very high.

The Karma of Jesus

Book description:
Are you reaping what you've sown? Whether we call it Karma or not, life seems to be based on cause and effect. If we do something good, we expect (or hope) good will return. Do something bad, and bad will result. Indeed, the ancient idea of Karma--reaping what we sow--is recognized in almost every religion in the world. But this principle sets an inescapable trap: If "what comes around goes around," then every small mistake will haunt us to the bitter end. Is that it, though? Is this our destiny? In this provocative book, Mark Herringshaw boldly explores two mutually exclusive visions of life: Karma and grace. Prompted by a chance-conversation with a spiritually curious young man, he gives us a probing look at the implications of Karma and the relevance of Christ's life.

My thoughts:

The title of this book intrigued me. The Karma of Jesus?! I put in to review it, curious to see what this guy had to say.

The book starts out with a conversation between the author and a questioning young man, and reverts back to the conversation throughout the book, with the young man defending his belief in karma, and the author showing him that karma does not hold the answer, but that Jesus does.
As bizarre as it may sound, there are some karma-like similarities in what Jesus taught and does, but they are only similarities. The differences are far greater. The author shows that unlike karma, where you try to do good to balance out the bad you have done, with Jesus, you can seek forgiveness, and though there still may be some consequences of our sins, Jesus' blood covers our sin and we don't need to worry about balancing out the bad we have done. Very interesting book.

The author:

Mark Herringshaw is a pastor, sought-after- teacher, and conference speaker. The coauthor of two previous books, he leverages the crafts of storytelling, biblical scholarship, and scientific research to make complex ideas simple, practical, and transformative. Mark and his family make their home near St. Paul, Minnesota.

The Karma of Jesus is available from Bethany House Publishers.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The new King Saul

My brother-in-law sent me this picture from his cell phone to my email recently of my youngest nephew with the caption "The new King Saul." I never did ask why he is dressed up, but thought it was a cute picture.

A Hero's Tribute, by Graham Garrison

Much admired for his athletic ability, military service, and community work, local hero Michael Gavin is dying from cancer. When he asks a sports reporter he's never met to deliver his eulogy, Wes Watkins accepts. But as he researches Michael's life, a different legend emerges. How will Wes describe Michael? And how will he define himself?

My thoughts:

This book is different from the type of fiction I normally read, but I enjoyed reading it. It starts with the hero of the town, Michael Gavin, dying, and a newspaper reporter, who didn't even know him, being given the job to write a story about him and give his eulogy. As Wes, the reporter begins interviewing friends and family, and digging deep into Michael Gavin's past, he uncovers some things that show Michael may not be the perfect hero everyone thought that he was.

Though at time sad and poignant, the author delivers a well-written and interesting look at a home town hero, and at the grace that rescued him, and can rescue us all.

About the author:

Graham Garrison is the author of two published books – “Hero’s Tribute” and “Groomed: From Proposal To Vows, Wedding Planning And An Engagement From A Groom’s Point of View.” He is currently the managing editor for three magazines published by a health care communications company and is also a writer/editor for two other publications. He’s written for almost a half dozen newspapers and two dozen magazines, including America’s Civil War, Boating World, Georgia Physician and Repertoire.

Graham has lived in almost a dozen towns, five states (Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and Washington) and one army base (Fort Bragg, N.C.). He’s grown roots in Johns Creek, Ga., with his wife Katie, son Nicholas and Baxter the Beagle. He and his family worship at Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church. He is a Florida Gator by birth, but a Georgia Bulldog by the grace of God.

More on the Muslims

I blogged earlier this week about the danger of Muslims, and how this country seems to embrace a religion who wants to kill us, yet demonizes Christianity. This shooting at Fort Hood yesterday further proves that. When I heard about it, I said to my parents "I'd bet anything he was a Muslim." Bingo! He was. Here are a few articles talking about how the media is sympathizing with the shooter, and trying to cover the fact that he was a radical Islamist - what is wrong with this country?!

Washington Post's sympathy for the devil:

ABC wishes the shooter's last name was Smith:

Newsweek claims shooter exposes overstretched military on the brink:

Wake up America - the Muslims hate us and want our destruction!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

One Fine Season, by Michael Sheehan

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

One Fine Season

AuthorHouse (November 25, 2008)


Michael Sheehan


Michael Sheehan is CEO and founder of BioResource, a company that distributes natural remedies including the popular INFLAMYAR ointment for sports injuries. He wrote One Fine Season to honor the memories of two childhood friends who died young, before they could realize their dreams.

One Fine Season is true to life. It draws on Sheehan’s religious education at a Catholic seminary and his experience as a high school baseball and collegiate soccer player. A graduate of Santa Clara University, Sheehan also earned a master’s degree in science journalism from Boston University. He lives in Northern California.


ONE FINE SEASON tells the story of a promising young athlete who must rise from the ashes of devastating personal loss to fulfill a pact made years earlier with his best friend.

Best friends Pete O’Brien and Danny Grace are gifted college athletes, both hoping for careers as professional baseball players. When tragedy strikes, Danny struggles to cope with his overwhelming grief and fulfill a pact the young men made years earlier: to play in the World Series.

Events unexpectedly thrust Danny into the spotlight with the new expansion team in Sacramento. Three guides – an aging catcher, spiritual centerfielder and wise manager – plus a beautiful woman lead him on a healing journey, revealing that even death cannot break the bonds of true friendship.

If you would like to read an excerpt from the first chapter of One Fine Season, go HERE

My thoughts:

I have not read this book yet, but it looks very good. After looking throught it, I'm not sure I would label it Christian fiction, and I caught a few language issues, but it looks worth reading.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Desert Fire by Shannon Van Roekel

On assignment in Darfur, Sudan, journalist Julia Keegan seeks to document the unimaginable atrocities, open the eyes of average Americans . . . and distance herself from the shadow cast by her convicted murderer father. She has steeled herself against the horrors of genocide---but is she prepared to face the dangers of forgiveness and love?

My thoughts:

This was a fascinating book, and a real eye-opener. The main character, Julia Keegan, goes to Darfur, Sudan to write about the atrocities being committed there against women and children. Though the story is fictional, the author gives a very realistic portrayal of what went on in real life there.

Added to the story is a young lawyer seeking Julia out to pass on a letter from her criminal father. There is some of the romantic element in the story, but overall, the reader is not just entertained, but is left with a horrifying realization of what happened in Darfur, and a thankfulness for what we have here in America.

I recommend the book, but it isn't for someone wanting a light, romantic read. You can read the first chapter here at the author's website: Shannon Van Roekel.

The book is available from Kregal Publishing. Thank-you Leslie for the review copy.

The threat, and the difference

I don't know about everyone else out there, but this Muslim situation worries me. I firmly believe that Barrack Obama is either a Muslim himself, or at the very least is very pro-Muslim. I don't think any Christian in their right mind can look at his behavior toward the Muslims lately and deny at least the latter. This same president refused to take part in the National Day of Prayer, yet helped the Muslim's day of honor at the Capitol.

I have to admit some confusion as to why Islam seems so much more accepted by the liberals, than Christianity. One of the biggest liberal causes is the gay agenda. Christians say it is wrong, and you cannot go to Heaven while engaging in that lifestyle. Muslims say it is wrong and kill people who identify as gay - so doesn't it make sense that the liberals would say Islam is bad? Not to mention their attitude towards women.

Speaking of homosexuality, I learned something interesting about Islam this week: They do condemn and punish homosexuality severely, but they have no problem with an adult male using a young boy sexually - they do not view that as homosexuality. Yeah, what a wonderful religion.

I read a lot of news stories on line, and time and time again I read stories where Muslims are given special rights. Most recently, a young man who is military bound submitted a picture of him in his military uniform, including a hat. He was told his photo was not allowed because of the military hat - yet a female student was allowed her hijab. A factory did away with Labor Day as a day off, yet allowed their Muslim workers a day off for their holiday. A female doctor at a clinic was told she could not wear her hijab because it violated their no-head gear rule. A few days later, they apologized to her and allowed her to wear it.

We want religious freedom, and do not want to be discriminated against, but it seems Muslims get more rights in this area than Christians. People bend over backwards to avoid offending them, and is it no wonder - they fear the Muslims.

I'm worried about our country. My dad has an idea that in the last days, the false prophet who takes control could be Islam - and he could be correct - who knows. I do not believe all of the Muslims who have attacked our country are the exception to the rule, and are extremists. I believe the religion fully encourages heretics to be killed and punished.

What can we do? For one thing, Christians need to get out and vote, and vote responsibly. Don't vote for the liberals who are pro-gay, pro-abortion, pro-Muslim - vote for the conservatives who are against those things.

If the Muslims keep on expanding and growing, and get places in our government, the day could very well come that this nation becomes a Muslim nation, and we have to choose to become a Muslim, or die. Scary thought, but it could happen.

Just recently in Great Britain, a Muslim woman got in an argument with a husband and wife who ran the store she came into. The argument was over whether Jesus is the Son of God or not. The couple has been jailed and could face imprisonment - and have lost a lot of business - why? Because they dared argue with a Muslim.

Imax is coming out with a movie about Mohammed, entitled Messenger of Peace. If you watch movies, boycott it. We need to wake up to this threat that is living among us.

I won a book several weeks ago entitled Mohamed's Moon. It is the fictional story of twin boys, separated at birth. One is raised as a Muslim who hates America and is out to destroy it, and the other is raised in a Christian home. Though fiction, the book had a fascinating portrayal of Islam. One of the biggest differences that stood out to me in the book between Islam and Christianity is a simple difference, but is as different as light and day. Islam says to destroy your enemy, and any one who will not convert to Islam. Christianity says to love your enemy, and do good to those who do you wrong. Quite the major difference.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Disconnected Church

It's bad when your friends tell you that they miss your regular blogging, and refer to it as "rants". :-) I have not been blogging - or in their words "ranting" much lately due to not being in the right mood for it, but most likely due to people's prayers, though the circumstances have not changed, I have been feeling more positive the last couple of days. Thanks to anyone who is praying for me - I appreciate it, and also thanks for the comments - I didn't publish them since they were intended for me, but they were appreciated.

In the blog post that brought those comments on, I mentioned that I have been feeling disconnected from my church since I moved back into the area sixteen months ago. I got an email from someone from my church saying they sometimes feel disconnected, and last night while talking to someone from church found out that he also feels disconnected.

I don't think people should feel disconnected. Times are tough and may get tougher. We need each other. I don't think it is enough to go in and worship with people of like-minded faith, though we need that - but we need more.

While I was living in Indiana, my church went a different direction with the youth. They used to have a combined service for the teenagers up through age forty before the evening worship service. For a while they also had been having activities outside of the church. One month they would have volleyball and pizza for the teens and early twenties crowd. The next month, they would do something similar for the married couples and singles that were older than that - like my age.

People in the church felt they need to focus more on the teens - said that we are losing them, and seemed to blame the church. I agree we need to do something, but I believe the blame lies with parents - but that is beside the point. Anyway, now they have something for the adults in the sanctuary, and the teens and early twenties crowd meet downstairs, and have some kind of activity outside of the church monthly. What is done for everyone else in the church? Zip. Zoink. Nada. Nothing.

Now I am honestly not bitter, though I do weary of hearing so much about the youth focus, when I feel the church is overlooking everyone else, especially singles that are too old for the youth focus. I actually made the statement to my parents soon after I moved back that it seems all our church cares about is the youth focus. More recently, I said if the rapture happened during a youth focus, they would want God to hold off until they were done. :-)

I go to a very conservative church, and there are people afraid of going too far with social activities, and yes, I think some churches do get carried away with that, but we Christians need fellowship and fun with other Christians.

Do I have any ideas to change things? Of course I do - glad you asked! First off, I think the extra services that we have at 6:15 should be moved to Wednesday evening, and start Sunday evening worship earlier. Give people more time to fellowship after church.

Nothing against anyone who has the Wednesday evening service, but it is pretty much a "mini" Sunday evening service, except we pray more, and testimonies are encouraged more. We sing, testifiy, pray, and someone speaks.

I think we should split up. Youth go do what they do on Sunday nights. The kids go do what they do Sunday nights. Everyone else have a genuine Bible study - not where someone just speaks and everyone else sits there - no, some kind of study where there is particpitation - even some workbooks or worksheets for people to answer questions. Oh yes, and maybe the singles of the church could have something at least once a month.

And some kind of potluck thing outside of the church would be great also.

I have mentioned my ideas to my family, and they shot it down. They said it would never fly because so many people don't come on Wednesday evening. That the church would never move the youth focus to Wednesday night because no one would come - my reply - well they would come if they wanted to be in it bad enough!

I really do think we need to change some things - probably not just my church, but a lot of churches - we need more community. More fellowship. I believe God wants us in church to worship Him, but also for fellowship. And really what kind of fellowship is it if everyone just talks to a few certain people after church, and/or flee like they are running a marathon. I don't see much fellowship there.

The church I attended in Indiana wasn't much different, though they did a couple of things I enjoyed. They have a Thanksgiving banquet for the whole church, served in the school's student activity building. At Christmas, the adult Sunday School classes have a Christmas banquet at a nearby restaurant, complete with someone coming to sing/minister. I liked that. And I miss that, now that I have moved back to Ohio.

Well, thus ends my first "rant" for some time. You who said you missed my rants, let me know what you think. :-)