Friday, October 29, 2010

A Season of Miracles by Rusty Whitener

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Season of Miracles
Kregel Publications; Reprint edition (August 3, 2010)
Rusty Whitener


Rusty Whitener is a novelist, screenwriter, and actor. His first screenplay, Touched, won second place at the 2009 Kairos Prize at the Los Angeles Movieguide Awards and first place at the Gideon film festival. That screenplay soon became A Season of Miracles. The movie version of this book is now in production with Elevating Entertainment. Find out more at and Videos and book club discussion questions are also available at


“A Season of Miracles is a must read for anyone who has ever played youth baseball. I read the book, and was reacquainted with my childhood. In the midst of an enjoyable read that took me down memory lane was a touching, challenging and beautiful story about how God can use the unlikeliest among us to draw us to Him.”—Matt Diaz, outfielder, Atlanta Braves
“Baseball, inspiration and childhood memories—a great combination. I couldn’t put it down!”—Richard Sterban, bass singer for The Oak Ridge Boys
“Rusty Whitener weaves a deft tale of young friendship and the curve balls of faith, the whole story seasoned with sunshine and the leathery scent of baseball gloves!”—Ray Blackston, author of Flabbergasted
A Season of Miracles is a heartwarming all American story of small town boys and Little League baseball. You’ll be cheering this captivating bunch of characters all the way home both in their game of baseball and the bigger game of life.”—Ann Gabhart, award-winning author of The Outsider


Looking back on the 1971 Little League season, Zack Ross relives the summer that changed his life…

Gunning for the championship is all that matters until twelve-year-old Zack meets Rafer, a boy whose differences make him an outcast but whose abilities on the baseball field make him the key to victory.

Admired for his contribution to the team, Rafer turns everyone’s expectations upside down, bestowing a gift to Zack and his teammates that forces them to think—is there more to life than winning or losing? And what is this thing called grace?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Season of Miracles, go HERE.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The depression that is mine

I don't often get very personal on here, but would like to ask for prayer of anyone who reads my blog.

I have mentioned this before, but for the last two years, I have been battling severe discouragement and depression. I finally started seeing a doctor back in August. She put me on an anti-depressant, and after a month, it was helping... but has quit helping. I am more depressed than ever, and it is affecting everything:

I love to read, but have to force myself to do so. I only read the books I get to review, and that is a chore. I have a stack of books I have bought in the last few months to read, not review - and they still sit. Even two from my favorite author.

I love Christmas music and always start listening in late September/early October - but I have no interest in it yet. I am even dreading Christmas, which I normally love.

About the only thing I still enjoy is shopping - even for books that I don't read.

I am constantly irritable and angry.

I have a doctor's appointment next Friday if I can go - I have jury duty. I plan on telling the doc how I am doing, and I know she is going to urge counseling - which I may need, but there are issues - they have counselors who go by your pay, as the doc does, but they would be secular and could screw me up more than I am already. I have no idea where to find a good Christian counselor, and couldn't afford one even if I did.

Anyway, I'd appreciate prayer... this is far worse than anyone realizes - I do a fairly good job of covering it up most of the time. Thanks.

Lydia's Charm by Wanda Brunstetter

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Lydia's Charm
Barbour Books (September 1, 2010)
Wanda E. Brunstetter


A Note From Wanda:

Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a writer. When I was in the second grade, I wrote my first poem about a moth. Luckily, I received encouragement from my teacher. During my teen years, I wrote skits that my church teen group performed during special holidays.

It wasn’t until 1980, that I took a course on writing for children and teenagers. I became serious about a career as an author. Soon after that, I began to write stories, articles, poems, and devotionals, which appeared in a variety of Christian publications. Later, I had 5 books of puppet/ventriloquist scripts published. *These books are currently available by contacting me. (

My first novel was released by Barbour Publishing’s book club, Heartsong Presents, in Dec. 1997. I have now written nearly fifty books, with over 4 million books in print. Many of the novels I've written are Amish-themed.


Widowed and jobless, Lydia King moves her son and herself to Charm, Ohio, to be close to her mother and help with her grandfather. Menno Troyer, a furniture store owner, is also recently widowed and the father of four energetic boys.

Levi Stutzman, another newcomer to the area, is the only one in his family not handicapped by dwarfism and has dedicated his life to caring for them. As fall colors the countryside, will anonymous gifts left for Lydia bring her hope for a new life and romance, or will another tragedy flood her with infinite despair?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Lydia's Charm, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Stephanie.

My oldest niece, Stephanie, turns 15 years old today. She is also the oldest of all the nieces and nephews. I wanted a nephew in the worst way, and announced to my co-workers that if it was a girl, I would have nothing to do with her. I wouldn't hold her, play with her - nada. Man, I ate those words! They reminded me of those words when I would parade her through the bakery when my sis was in. She was followed by 2 more nieces, and I didn't get my nephews until 6, 9, and 12 years later. By that time, she and her 2 sisters had me wrapped around their little finger.

So, happy birthday, Stephanie. Your Uncle Mark loves you a lot and I'm proud of the young lady you have become.

Below, a video of Stephanie playing Canon In D on the piano and violin - she recorded the piano part first

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Are we equipped... and do we want to be? And revisiting the masquerade party

A friend of mine sent me a link to an article a man wrote who had lived a pretty messed up life. He is now a Christian, but he makes the case that the church is not equipped to deal with certain sins. Too many pastors are not equipped to deal with some of the sins nowadays.

Our churches are filled with perfect people. No one has any real battles. Oh, they may have trouble paying the bills, their kids may be far from God, but they have no horrible, besetting sin to deal with. Or do they? I am more and more convinced that no matter what church you attend, Baptist, Catholic, Methdodist, or the Church of   the Pious, Holy, and untra-Perfect - there are people sitting in the pews battling bad stuff. Stuff beyond the desire to cheat on your income tax or slap Nancy Pelosi til her ears fall off...

What would we do if:
A drug addict becomes a Christian and begins attending our church, still battling his addictions

An alcoholic becomes a Christian and starts attending our church, still battling the desire to drink

A prostitute becomes a Christian and starts attending our church, still battling her sexual addictions

A gay or lesbian becomes a Christian and starts attending our church - or worse, doesn't become a Christian and starts attending our church

An ex-con becomes a Christian and starts attending our church

Someone with AIDS starts attending our church.

     Now...... what if the person sitting in the pew behind you suddenly came to you and admitted to one of the above?

Sad to say, most of us would have no clue how to help or counsel people in these situations. Too many of us would pull our self-righteous robes around us, move to the other side of the church, and at best... pat them on the shoulder, tell them we would be praying for them, and mouth one of the biggest platitudes in the church "Just pray and trust God." And the person dies a little more on the inside.

So, is this guy right? Should we be training our people more to on how to handle this stuff? Do we want to? Do they want to deal with it? Until the church does more love in action, until we admit there are problems and make it easier for people to step forward and ask for help, no one is going to seek help anyway - few at best.

A while back, I blogged about wearing masks as Christians. Comparing church to going to a masquerade ball, I called for the taking off of masks. (If you want to read that, go here.) I said that to preface my talking about my next visit to the masquerade party. This one was on a smaller scale.....

I stepped through the doors into the masquerade party. This one was much smaller than the other I had attended. The other had close to 250 people, whereas this one only had 25-30 people. I felt priveleged to have been invited. Making sure my mask was on just right, I found my seat and sat back to enjoy the party.

But wait.... what is this? Their idea of fun was to pick at me, criticize me. I started to sink into my seat, but then remembered.... I had my mask on. They didn't know I was there. I checked to make sure it was still covering my face, and sat in misery as the class gleefully attacked me, said the nastiest things about me.

As I sat there fighting the urge to slip out - afraid to draw attention to myself and  they would know it was me - the tears started. I kept my head down and kept brushing them away as they slipped from under my mask. No one seemed to notice, to my relief. And on they went. A knife through the heart here, a punch to the gut here. Thank God I had my mask on so they wouldn't know the target of their hateful comments was sitting there in their midst.

My mind went back to when I first started wearing my mask. Somewhere in my teens. By the time I was in college, it was a regular fixture. I'd cringe in the corner as my fellow college mates would make snide, hateful remarks, or jokes, which were as bad..... never noticing that the target of their remarks was standing in the same room, sometimes right by them..... and the punches kept coming.

The time in church came to mind when a friend of mine leaned up and made a horrible comment about me that crushed me. It hurt for a long time. The knife went deep and felt like it was still there. But again, I had my mask on, so he never knew it was me he made the comment to....

The party was ending. I walked out, my heart heavier than it had been, dying quite a bit more on the inside. Everyone else gathered their righteous robes around them, thanking God that they weren't like me.

Now again, this was no literal masquerade party - and I wasn't wearing a physical rubber or plastic mask. Neither were the people speaking literally about me, Mark Buzard. They were talking about what is under the mask I wear. What and who I am. And it was a Sunday School class where they were discussing what I call my cross. My secret. My silent burden.

I raise some valid points though. The church is ill-equipped to deal with anything outside of  a gossip or jealously issue. We do sit back in our righteous robes, looking down our noses at the people who do the really bad stuff. No, we don't stand on the street corner like the Pharisee in the Bible, thanking God that we aren't like the drunk, the homosexual, the adulterer, the pornography addict - but we may as well. We are doing it on the inside where God sees.

Its time the church stops shooting the wounded. Its time we realized there are hurting people in our church - in our own families, but we are so hateful, so judgemental, and so non-caring, that they may never find the courage to seek the help they need, so they sit in the pew, silently suffering, dying just a little more each service they sit through. How do I know? Because that is who I am.

So back to my orginal point.... do we need to be training our pastors and laypeople to deal with the "bad stuff." Yes, but first there needs to be a major change in those people before they can - or want - to help the hurting in our churches.

Note:After reading this blog post, a friend shared this link - worth reading.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball

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 author is:

and the book:

WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010)
***Special thanks to Ashley Boyer and Staci Carmichael of Waterbrook Multnomah for sending me a review copy.***


Expertly weaving together fantasy, romance and Biblical truths, Donita K. Paul penned the best-selling, fan-favorite DragonKeeper Chronicles series. After retiring early from teaching, she began a second career as an award-winning author and loves serving as a mentor for new writers of all ages. And when she’s not putting pen to paper, Donita makes her home in Colorado Springs and enjoys spending time with her grandsons, cooking, beading, stamping, and knitting.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307458997
ISBN-13: 978-0307458995


Christmas. Cora had been trying to catch it for four years. She scurried down the sidewalk, thankful that streetlights and brightly lit storefronts counteracted the gloom of early nightfall. Somewhere, sometime, she’d get a hold of how to celebrate Christmas. Maybe even tonight.

With snowflakes sticking to her black coat, Christmas lights blinking around shop windows, and incessant bells jingling, Cora should have felt some holiday cheer.

And she did.


Just not much.

At least she was on a Christmas errand this very minute. One present for a member of the family. Shouldn’t that count for a bit of credit in the Christmas-spirit department?

Cora planned out her Christmas gift giving in a reasonable manner. The execution of her purchasing schedule gave her a great deal of satisfaction. Tonight’s quest was a book for Uncle Eric—something about knights and castles, sword fights, shining armor, and all that.

One or two gifts purchased each week from Labor Day until December 15, and her obligations were discharged efficiently, economically, and without the excruciating last-minute frenzy that descended upon other people…like her three sisters, her mother, her grandmother, her aunts.

Cora refused to behave like her female relatives and had decided not to emulate the male side of the family either. The men didn’t buy gifts. They sometimes exchanged bottles from the liquor store, but more often they drank the spirits themselves.

Her adult ambition had been to develop her own traditions for the season, ones that sprouted from the Christianity she’d discovered in college. The right way to celebrate the birth of Christ. She avoided the chaos that could choke Christmas. Oh dear. Judgmental again. At least now she recognized when she slipped.

She glanced around Sage Street. Not too many shoppers. The quaint old shops were decked out for the holidays, but not with LED bulbs and inflated cartoon figures.

Since discovering Christianity, she’d been confused about the trappings of Christmas—the gift giving, the nativity scenes, the carols, even the Christmas tree. Every year she tried to acquire some historical background on the festivities. She was learning. She had hope. But she hadn’t wrapped her head around all the traditions yet.

The worst part was shopping.

Frenzy undid her. Order sustained her. And that was a good reason to steer clear of any commercialized holiday rush. She’d rather screw red light bulbs into plastic reindeer faces than push through a crowd of shoppers.

Cora examined the paper in her hand and compared it to the address above the nearest shop. Number 483 on the paper and 527 on the building. Close.

When she’d found the bookstore online, she had been amazed that a row of old-fashioned retailers still existed a few blocks from the high-rise office building where she worked. Truthfully, it was more like the bookstore found her. Every time she opened her browser, and on every site she visited, the ad for the old-fashioned new- and used-book store showed up in a banner or sidebar. She’d asked around, but none of her co-workers patronized the Sage Street Shopping District.

“Sounds like a derelict area to me,” said Meg, the receptionist. “Sage Street is near the old railroad station, isn’t it? The one they decided was historic so they wouldn’t tear it down, even though it’s empty and an eyesore?”

An odd desire to explore something other than the mall near her apartment seized Cora. “I’m going to check it out.”

Jake, the security guard, frowned at her. “Take a cab. You don’t want to be out too late over there.”

Cora walked. The brisk air strengthened her lungs, right? The exercise pumped her blood, right? A cab would cost three, maybe four dollars, right?

An old man, sitting on the stoop of a door marked 503, nodded at her. She smiled, and he winked as he gave her a toothless grin. Startled, she quickened her pace and gladly joined the four other pedestrians waiting at the corner for the light to change.

Number 497 emblazoned the window of an ancient shoe store on the opposite corner. She marched on. In this block she’d find the book and check another item off her Christmas list.

Finally! “Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad, Books,” Cora read the sign aloud and then grasped the shiny knob. It didn’t turn. She frowned. Stuck? Locked? The lights were on. She pressed her face against the glass. A man sat at the counter. Reading. How appropriate.

Cora wrenched the knob. A gust of wind pushed with her against the door, and she blew into the room. She stumbled and straightened, and before she could grab the door and close it properly, it swung closed, without the loud bang she expected.

“I don’t like loud noises,” the man said without looking up from his book.

“Neither do I,” said Cora.

He nodded over his book. With one gnarled finger, he pushed his glasses back up his nose.

Must be an interesting book. Cora took a quick look around. The place could use stronger lights. She glanced back at the clerk. His bright lamp cast him and his book in a golden glow.

Should she peruse the stacks or ask?

She decided to browse. She started to enter the aisle between two towering bookcases.

“Not there,” said the old man.

“I beg your pardon?” said Cora.

“How-to books. How to fix a leaky faucet. How to build a bridge. How to mulch tomatoes. How to sing opera. How-to books. You don’t need to know any of that, do you?”


“Wrong aisle, then.” He placed the heavy volume on the counter and leaned over it, apparently absorbed once more.

Cora took a step toward him. “I think I saw a movie like this once.”

His head jerked up, his scowl heavier. He glared over the top of his glasses at the books on the shelves as if they had suddenly moved or spoken or turned bright orange.

“A movie? Here? I suppose you mean the backdrop of a bookstore. Not so unusual.” He arched an eyebrow. “You’ve Got Mail and 84 Charing Cross Road.”

“I meant the dialogue. You spoke as if you knew what I needed.”

He hunched his shoulders. The dark suspenders stretched across the faded blue of his shirt. “Reading customers. Been in the business a long time.”

“I’m looking for a book for my uncle. He likes castles, knights, tales of adventure. That sort of thing.”

He sighed, closed his book, and tapped its cover. “This is it.” He stood as Cora came to the desk. “Do you want me to wrap it and send it? We have the service. My grandson’s idea.”

Cora schooled her face and her voice. One of the things she excelled in was not showing her exasperation. She’d been trained by a dysfunctional family, and that had its benefits. She knew how to take guff and not give it back. Maintaining a calm attitude was a good job skill.

She tried a friendly smile and addressed the salesclerk.

“I want to look at it first and find out how much it costs.”

“It’s the book you want, and the price is eleven dollars and thirteen cents.”

Cora rubbed her hand over the cover. It looked and felt like leather, old leather, but in good repair. The book must be ancient.

“Are you sure?” she asked.

“Which?” the old man barked.

“Which what?”

“Which part of the statement am I sure about? It doesn’t matter because I’m sure about both.”

Cora felt her armor of detachment suffer a dent. The man was impossible. She could probably order a book online and get it wrapped and delivered right to her uncle with less aggravation. But dollar signs blinked in neon red in her mind as she thought how much that would cost. No need to be hasty.

Curtain rings rattled on a rod, and Cora looked up to see a younger version of the curmudgeon step into the area behind the counter.

The younger man smiled. He had the same small, wiry build as the older version, but his smile was warm and genuine. He looked to be about fifty, but his hair was still black, as black as the old man’s hair was white. He stretched out his hand, and Cora shook it.

“I’m Bill Wizbotterdad. This is my granddad, William Wizbotterdad.”

“Let me guess. Your father is named Will?”

Bill grinned, obviously pleased she’d caught on quickly. “Willie Wizbotterdad. He’s off in Europe collecting rare books.”

“He’s not!” said the elder shop owner.

“He is.” Bill cast his granddad a worried look.

“That’s just the reason he gave for not being here.” William shook his head and leaned across the counter. “He doesn’t like Christmas. We have a special job to do at Christmas, and he doesn’t like people and dancing and matrimony.”

Bill put his arm around his grandfather and pulled him back. He let go of his granddad and spun the book on the scarred wooden counter so that Cora could read the contents. “Take a look.” He opened the cover and flipped through the pages. “Colored illustrations.”

A rattling of the door knob was followed by the sound of a shoulder thudding against the wood. Cora turned to see the door fly open with a tall man attached to it. The stranger brushed snow from his sleeves, then looked up at the two shop owners. Cora caught them giving each other a smug smile, a wink, and a nod of the head.

Odd. Lots of oddness in this shop.

She liked the book, and she wanted to leave before more snow accumulated on the streets. Yet something peculiar about this shop and the two men made her curious. Part of her longed to linger. However, smart girls trusted their instincts and didn’t hang around places that oozed mystery. She didn’t feel threatened, just intrigued. But getting to know the peculiar booksellers better was the last thing she wanted, right? She needed to get home and be done with this Christmas shopping business. “I’ll take the book.”

The newcomer stomped his feet on the mat by the door, then took off his hat.

Cora did a double take. “Mr. Derrick!”

He cocked his head and scrunched his face. “Do I know you?” The man was handsome, even wearing that comical lost expression. “Excuse me. Have we met?”

“We work in the same office.”

He studied her a moment, and a look of recognition lifted the frown. “Third desk on the right.” He hesitated, then snapped his fingers. “Cora Crowden.”


He jammed his hand in his pocket, moving his jacket aside. His tie hung loosely around his neck. She’d never seen him looking relaxed. The office clerks called him Serious Simon Derrick.

“I drew your name,” she said.

He looked puzzled.

“For the gift exchange. Tomorrow night. Office party.”

“Oh. Of course.” He nodded. “I drew Mrs. Hudson. She’s going to retire, and I heard her say she wanted to redecorate on a shoestring.”

“That’s Mrs. Wilson. Mrs. Hudson is taking leave to be with her daughter, who is giving birth to triplets.”

He frowned and began looking at the books.

“You won’t be there, will you?” Cora asked.

“At the party? No, I never come.”

“I know. I mean, I’ve worked at Sorenby’s for five years, and you’ve never been there.”

The puzzled expression returned to Serious Simon’s face. He glanced to the side. “I’m looking for the how-to section.”

Cora grinned. “On your left. Second aisle.”

He turned to stare at her, and she pointed to the shelves Mr. Wizbotterdad had not let her examine. Mr. Derrick took a step in that direction.

Cora looked back at the shop owners and caught them leaning back in identical postures, grins on their faces, and arms crossed over their chests.

Bill jerked away from the wall, grabbed her book, rummaged below the counter, and brought out a bag. He slid the book inside, then looked at her. “You didn’t want the book wrapped and delivered?”

“No, I’ll just pay for it now.”

“Are you sure you wouldn’t like to look around some more?” asked Bill.

“Right,” said William. “No hurry. Look around. Browse. You might find something you like.”

Bill elbowed William.

Simon Derrick had disappeared between the stacks.

William nodded toward the how-to books. “Get a book. We have a copy of How to Choose Gifts for Ungrateful Relatives. Third from the bottom shelf, second case from the wall.”

The statement earned him a “shh” from his grandson.

Cora shifted her attention to the man from her office and walked a few paces to peek around the shelves. “Mr. Derrick, I’m getting ready to leave. If you’re not coming to the party, may I just leave the gift on your desk tomorrow?”

He glanced at her before concentrating again on the many books. “That’s fine. Nice to see you, Miss Crowden.”

“Crowder,” she corrected, but he didn’t answer.

She went to the counter and paid. Mr. Derrick grunted when she said good-bye at the door.

“Come back again,” said Bill.

“Yes,” said William. “We have all your heart’s desires.”

Bill elbowed him, and Cora escaped into the blustering weather.

She hiked back to the office building. Snow sprayed her with tiny crystals, and the sharp wind nipped her nose. Inside the parking garage, warm air helped her thaw a bit as she walked to the spot she leased by the month. It would be a long ride home on slippery roads. But once she arrived, there would be no one there to interrupt her plans. She got in the car, turned the key, pushed the gearshift into reverse, looked over her shoulder, and backed out of her space.

She would get the gift ready to mail off and address a few cards in the quiet of her living room. There would be no yelling. That’s what she liked about living states away from her family. No one would ambush her with complaints and arguments when she walked through the door.

Except Skippy. Skippy waited. One fat, getting fatter, cat to talk to. She did complain at times about her mistress being gone too long, about her dinner being late, about things Cora could not fathom. But Cora never felt condemned by Skippy, just prodded a little.


Once inside her second-floor apartment, she pulled off her gloves, blew her nose, and went looking for Skippy.

The cat was not behind the curtain, sitting on the window seat, staring at falling snow. Not in her closet, curled up in a boot she’d knocked over. Not in the linen closet, sleeping on clean towels. She wasn’t in any of her favorite spots. Cora looked around and saw the paper bag that, this morning, had been filled with wadded scraps of Christmas paper. Balls of pretty paper and bits of ribbon littered the floor. There. Cora bent over and spied her calico cat in the bag.

“Did you have fun, Skippy?”

The cat rolled on her back and batted the top of the paper bag. Skippy then jumped from her cave and padded after Cora, as her owner headed for the bedroom.

Thirty minutes later, Cora sat at the dining room table in her cozy pink robe that enveloped her from neck to ankles. She stirred a bowl of soup and eyed the fifteen packages she’d wrapped earlier in the week. Two more sat waiting for their ribbons.

These would cost a lot less to send if some of these people were on speaking terms. She could box them together and ship them off in large boxes.

She spooned chicken and rice into her mouth and swallowed.

The soup was a tad too hot. She kept stirring.

She could send one package with seven gifts inside to Grandma Peterson, who could dispense them to her side of the family. She could send three to Aunt Carol.

She took another sip. Cooler.

Aunt Carol could keep her gift and give two to her kids. She could send five to her mom…

Cora grimaced. She had three much older sisters and one younger. “If Mom were on speaking terms with my sisters, that would help.”

She eyed Skippy, who had lifted a rear leg to clean between her back toes. “You don’t care, do you? Well, I’m trying to. And I think I’m doing a pretty good job with this Christmas thing.”

She reached over and flipped the switch on her radio. A Christmas carol poured out and jarred her nerves. She really should think about Christmas and not who received the presents. Better to think “my uncle” than “Joe, that bar bum and pool shark.”

She finished her dinner, watching her cat wash her front paws.

“You and I need to play. You’re”—she paused as Skippy turned

a meaningful glare at her—“getting a bit rotund, dear kitty.”

Skippy sneezed and commenced licking her chest.

After dinner, Cora curled up on the couch with her Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad bag. Skippy came to investigate the rattling paper.

Uncle Eric. Uncle Eric used to recite “You Are Old, Father William.” He said it was about a knight. But Cora wasn’t so sure. She dredged up memories from college English. The poem was by Lewis Carroll, who was really named Dodson, Dogson, Dodgson, or something.

“He wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” she said. “There’s a cat in the story, but not as fine a cat as you. He smiles too much.”

Skippy gave her a squint-eyed look.

Cora eased the leather-bound book out of the bag. “The William I met at the bookstore qualifies for at least ancient.”

She put the book in her lap and ran her fingers over the embossed title: How the Knights Found Their Ladies.

She might have been hasty. She didn’t know if Uncle Eric would like this. She hefted the book, guessing its weight to be around four pounds. She should have found a lighter gift. This would cost a fortune to mail.

Skippy sniffed at the binding, feline curiosity piqued. Cora stroked her fur and pushed her back. She opened the book to have a peek inside. A piece of thick paper fell out. Skippy pounced on it as it twirled to the floor.

“What is it, kitty? A bookmark?” She slipped it out from between Skippy’s paws, then turned the rectangle over in her hands. Not a bookmark. A ticket.

Admit one to the Wizards’ Christmas Ball

Costumes required

Dinner and Dancing

and your Destiny

Never heard of it. She tucked the ticket in between the pages and continued to flip through the book, stopping to read an occasional paragraph.

This book wasn’t for Uncle Eric at all. It was not a history, it was a story. Kind of romantic too. Definitely not Uncle Eric’s preferred reading.

Skippy curled against her thigh and purred.

“You know what, cat? I’m going to keep it.”

Skippy made her approval known by stretching her neck up and rubbing her chin on the edge of the leather cover. Cora put the book on the sofa and picked up Skippy for a cuddle. The cat squirmed out of her arms, batted at the ticket sticking out of the pages, and scampered off.

“I love you too,” called Cora.

She pulled the ticket out and read it again: Wizards’ Christmas Ball. She turned out the light and headed for bed. But as she got ready, her eye caught the computer on her desk. Maybe she could find a bit more information.

My review:It is that time of year again - time to read and review Christmas books. I have never read anything by this author before, but it was a delightful read. The story is part make-believe, as some parts of the story could never happen, but it was a very entertaining and enjoyable read. There is a lot of romance in the story, but I still liked it. The author has some interesting characters, and has a very outspoken Christian message throughout the book. I found myself wishing I could step into the story and experience what the characters in the story were experiencing  - and that only happens in a very good book. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My perfect church

Note: This post is partially in fun. There is no perfect church, and I know everything can't be 100% what we want in a church. Some of my ideas are serious, and I may throw in some just to be goofy. So what would my perfect church be like?
1) Friendly and caring

2) No cliques

3) lots of back seats

4) No acapella singing. Ever.

5) No Wesleyan Methodist hymnal. Ever. Absolutely.

6) No "focus" on certain age groups, but a focus on all

7) An actual Bible study - with books to go through and discussion

8) Valet parking

9) Wise spending of money

10) Lazy boys to sit in (ok - that was a joke in case someone can't pick up on that - also the valet parking, but not going to explain all of them..)

11) Decent lenthed messages - we have that. A note here, who does any preacher think he is who goes on for an hour and longer - I don't want to hear that...

12) A good blend of music - hymns, choruses, slow, fast

13) An earlier Sunday evening service. When I lived in Indiana, church started at 6 pm. No Bible study, no youth pampering... I mean focus - it was great.

14) More reverance. I weary of all of the noisy loudmouths hanging out in the vestibule between services while we are entering the worship service. The doors between the sanctuary and vestibule should NEVER have to be closed - its church moron - shut your pie hole and go sit down. (that one was no joke)

15) Hand santizer for after you shake a bunch of hands......

16) Live streaming so we can stay home and watch in our pjs. (again, joking)

17) More input from we people in the pews, and less decision making by a handful of people and the pastor

18) Candy - not fair that they get it in children's church and we don't.... ;-)

19) No more standing to sing. I can sing as well, or better, sitting down.

20) An ATM in the vestibule

21) More variety

22) No more missionary prayer meetings... or advance notice so some of us can stay home....

23) Using more people with talents. We have too many talented people sitting on their butts who won't teach a class, be in the cantata, nada. (This excludes me as I have no talents)

24) Voting on some stuff allowed for non-members - we attend there too, we should have a voice

25) Punctuality. There is no good reason why anyone should be consistently late for church. Occasionally? Yes, but it should be rare. If you are on time for your job, does not God deserve the same? Obviously not - church must not be as important....

26) Bottled water instead of a water fountain that has mediocre water

27) If there has to be reading course books, pick some interesting ones. I have a lot of suggestions :-)

28) More of an actual family in the church - we talk about the family of God, but truth be told, most of the people in the church don't really care about anyone else outside of their clique and family

29) Drink holders for those lazy boys

30) Bigger cups for communion

Ok, thats enough for now :-)

Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

These are difficult days in our world's history. 1.75 billion people are desperately poor, natural disasters are gouging entire nations, and economic uncertainty still reigns across the globe. But you and I have been given an opportunity to make a big difference. What if we did? What if we rocked the world with hope? Infiltrated all corners with God's love and life? We are created by a great God to do great works. He invites us to outlive our lives, not just in heaven, but here on earth. Let's live our lives in such a way that the world will be glad we did.

My review:
This is possibly the best Max Lucado book I have read. He starts the book out by showing how God has used the common man, the simple people down through the ages. I sat back and thought this was going to be a "feel good book" on how we are all special in God's eyes, and things along that line. He briefly touches on that, but then goes another direction - on how we need to make a differemce by seeking out the common folk, the less desirables of society and work on winning them to Christ. This book is pretty much a sermon on how we need to get off our butts and be Christ to a desperate, dying world.

In one chapter, he talks about having a "clam shell" - something to crawl in to avoid getting caught up in other people's problems. The clam shell is figuretively speaking of course, but he does bring up a good point. We are too busy, too caught up in ourselves to reach the hurting, the less desirables of society. I recommend this book, and more so than any of Max Lucado's that I have read.

About the author:

Max Lucado is a minister who writes and a writer who preaches. He and his wife, Denalyn, serve the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. They have three grown daughters, Jenna, Andrea, and Sara; one son-in-law, Brett; and one sweet but lazy golden retriever, Molly.

Outlive Your Life is available from Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the review copy.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Don't Look Back by Lynette Eason

Book description:
One man lives to see her dead--the other is fighting to keep her alive.

Twelve years ago, forensic anthropologist Jamie Cash survived a brutal kidnapping. After years of therapy, she has made a life for herself--though one that is haunted by memories of her terrifying past. She finally lets herself believe that she can have a close relationship with a man, when signs start appearing that point to one frightening fact--her attacker is back and ready to finish the job he started all those years ago.

Can she escape his grasp a second time? And will she ever be able to let down her guard enough to find true love?

Filled with heart-stopping suspense, gritty realism, and a touch of romance, Don't Look Back pulls you into its twists and turns to hold you there until the very last page.

My review:
This is the second book in The Women of Justice series. I also reviewed the first book in the series, Too Close to Home. That book was excellent and I didn't think the author could top it..... but she did. This second book in the series, Don't Look Back, is even better than the first book. It definitely gets my "read-in-one-sitting" status, for that is exactly what I did.

The book has it all: suspense, mystery,  romance, and a Christian message - which is not preachy, but is more of a trust God message. The plot was realistic and scary. I sat down, began reading, and just could not put the book down. I also really enjoy the characters in this book - and the series, and it was nice to have the characters from the previous book also in this one.

I don't go with a star rating, but if I did, this book would get the highest possible. There is absolutely nothing the author could have done to make this book better. She penned an excellent novel of suspense, and I am looking forward to reading more from her in the future.

About the author:

Lynette Eason is the author of Too Close to Home and three other romantic suspense novels. She is a member of American Fiction Christian Writers and Romance Writers of America. A homeschooling mother of two, she has a master's degree in education from Converse College. She lives in South Carolina.

Don't Look Back is availabe from Revell Publishing, an imprint of Baker Book House.

Thanks to Donna at Revell for the review copy.

Transforming Church in Rural America by Shannon O' Dell

Book description:
Without meaningful change, thousands of rural churches won’t survive the next decade. *A vital guide for every deacon, elder, and pastor wanting to bring their rural church back to the business of changing lives *No-cost solutions for staffing challenges, upgrading the worship, and generating teams of volunteers *Innovative strategies for growth through transformed lives, relevance in meeting needs, and creating active evangelism in your community

If you aren’t transforming lives, then the church has no impact. Pastor Shannon O’Dell reveals the need for relevancy and shares a powerful mission for rural churches in reaching the unchurched and lost in their communities. Now, learn the strategies and biblical guidance that turned a church of 30 into a multi-campus church of several thousand with a national and global outreach. Experience the blueprint for transforming into effective, dynamic, and thriving churches which give God the very best!

Learn to add VALUE to your ministry goals: Vision, Attitude, Leadership, Understanding, and Excellence. Discover how your marriage reflects the state of your faith and your relationship with God.

My review:
I have been extremely unhappy with my church of late, so this book caught my eye since it talks about transforming churches.

It was an interesting read. The author shares how he went from a handful of people in a small church of 31 people, to 2000, plus other outreaches of the church. Now I know size isn't everything, but as he points out in the book, if we aren't growing, there is something wrong.

In addition to sharing how their church changed and grew, he also shares a lot of ideas how to transform churches, reach people, and what to focus on in the church. This is a great book for especially leaders in the church, but also for lay people who want their church to change and need ideas on where to start.

Transforming Church In Rural America is available from Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the review copy.


Note to SuzySooz

SuzySooz...... you commented back on Oct 9 on a blog post I did about Ray Boltz... made some harsh statements... would love to reply to you - not harshly, but you have got it all wrong - you judged me wrong. If you are interested in the truth, give me a way to contact you. My email is marcus802001(at)yahoo)dot(com)

Daily Guideposts 2011..... and a giveaway

About Daily Guideposts:

Now in its 35th year, “Daily Guideposts” has brought inspiration and guidance to millions of readers, selling more than 20 million copies since the devotional series’ debut in 1975 as one of the first daily devotional collections. “Daily Guideposts” is the creation of former Guideposts Books editor Fred Bauer, who was inspired to write a devotional that offered daily prayers and stories for year-round spiritual growth. Originally conceived as a collection of Bauer’s reflections on faith in his own life, “Daily Guideposts” now encompasses more than 50 writers’ stories in each edition

“Daily Guideposts: 2011” celebrates growing in God’s love and wisdom, bringing readers simple yet profound devotions to connect with God in new ways — even on the most hectic of days.

Daily entries open with a scripture reading for meditative reflection, followed by a true, first-person story, and close with a short prayer. Monthly “seeds of love” sections encourage readers to write down their blessings so they will become more mindful of all they have to be thankful for in their lives.

More than 50 writers contribute to this new spiritual companion, sharing stories of how God has transformed their relationships, jobs, families and faith. With stories from bestselling authors such as Debbie Macomber to veteran “Daily Guideposts” devotional contributors Marion Bond West and Carol Kuykendall, “Daily Guideposts” readers will recognize their favorite writers while discovering new voices along the way.

My review:
This is a 365 day devotional, so I haven't read the whole book, but have read some of the devotionals, and looked through the book. Daily Guideposts has never been an extremely deeply spiritual devotional, but this is an enjoyable daily read to help focus on God and on the Bible. Each day starts out with a Bible verse followed by a devotional by one of several authors.

At the end of each month is a place to write a short note for each day. At the end of the book is a photo gallery and info about each featured author in Daily Guideposts.

I have read Daily Guideposts from other years, and it is a neat devotional to read. The devotionals are short, interesting, and a great way to start your day. I recommend it.

The giveaway:
Thanks to Shelby at Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists, I have a copy of Daily Guideposts to give away.

To enter, comment by telling what the last devotional book you have read was, if any. I will use to pick a winner 10 days from today, October 27.

Thanks to Shelby at Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists for the review copy.

The Last Imam by Joel Rosenberg

As the apocalyptic leaders of Iran call for the annihilation of Israel and the U.S., CIA operative David Shirazi is sent into Tehran with one objective: use all means necessary to disrupt Iran’s nuclear weapons program, without leaving American fingerprints and without triggering a regional war. At extreme personal risk, Shirazi executes his plan.

A native Farsi speaker whose family escaped from Iran in 1979, he couldn’t be better prepared for the mission. But none of his training has prepared Shirazi for what will happen next. An obscure religious cleric is suddenly hailed throughout the region as the Islamic messiah known as the Mahdi or the Twelfth Imam. News of his miracles, healings, signs, and wonders spreads like wildfire, as do rumors of a new and horrific war.

With the prophecy of the Twelfth Imam seemingly fulfilled, Iran’s military prepares to strike Israel and bring about the End of Days. Shirazi must take action to save his country and the world, but the clock is ticking.
My review:Excellent book. Joel Rosenberg really knows his stuff, and it comes through in this book. This isn't a light "fluff" novel... if you read this book, you will actually learn something - maybe a lot. I was pulled into the story as soon as I started reading it, and pretty much read it in one sitting. It is a very enjoyable read, but I also learned a lot about Islam and even about the CIA.
It is scary to realize how much Muslims hate us and the Jews, and although this book isn't a book to bash Islam, the reader can clearly see what is wrong with that religion.
This may be Rosenberg's best book yet. My only problem with the book is the ending is way too abrupt, but as I understand, there will be more to follow.
About the author:

Joel C. Rosenberg is the New York Times best-selling author of five novels—The Last Jihad, The Last Days, The Ezekiel Option, The Copper Scroll, and Dead Heat—and two nonfiction books, Epicenter and Inside the Revolution, with some 2 million total copies in print. The Ezekiel Option received the Gold Medallion award as the "Best Novel of 2006" from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Joel is the producer of two documentary films based on his nonfiction books. He is also the founder of The Joshua Fund, a nonprofit educational and charitable organization to mobilize Christians to "bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus" with food, clothing, medical supplies, and other humanitarian relief.

The Last Imam is availble from Tyndale Publishers.

Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fun For the Whole Family Hour

Group Publishing has set sail on a brand new expedition, where families will embark on an adventure to discover God’s love. In their very first Fun-for-the-Whole-Family Hour event, Group partners with Walden Media and 20th Century Fox, using scenes from the new Narnia movie, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Fun-for-the-Whole-Family Hour combines eye-opening discussions and upbeat music with the thrilling adventure of Narnia in an experience that connects all ages with each other and with God.

Fun-for-the-Whole-Family Hour is one action-packed hour where participants will discuss never-before-seen clips from the movie, listen to music, watch a skit, and grow in their faith. Participants will divide into family groups of no more than five. Each group is given their own expedition pack, which contains an interactive expedition map that uses water to reveal hidden messages, guiding each family to look at God’s transforming love in a whole new way. It also includes a CD with all the music so families can continue their adventure at home. Clips from the Narnia movie will help them explore how God’s love changes us. Fun-for-the-Whole-Family Hour makes reaching families easier than ever.

Fun-for-the-Whole-Family Hour is flexible, easy to implement, and a great value. Everything you need to get started is in the Leader Pack, which includes:

· Leader Guide

· DVD containing a promotional video and clips from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

· CD containing clip art, publicity helps, drama script, and PowerPoint song lyrics slides

· Family Expedition Pack (sample)

· Publicity Poster (sample)

Fun-for-the-Whole-Family Hour came out of a desire to let families share in simple, life-changing experiences like the ones kids explore at Group’s vacation Bible school. “In Group’s many years of ministry experience, we’ve seen families connect in unique ways during VBS,” according to Group’s Shannon Velasquez. “Fun-for-the-Whole-Family Hour brings families together for laughter, drama, and music, creating a starting point for family faith-building conversations.”

Group has a reputation of being hands-on in growing children’s relationships with Christ, and this new product does not disappoint. Nothing fires you up like seeing kids “get it” as you teach…and seeing the children you serve grow closer to God. This practical, time-saving resource makes that happen.

My review:
I admit I got this to review because they use The Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie as part of it. I just reviewed the Leader's Kit, but thought it was pretty cool. To me, it seems like a great way to spend time with kids and not only entertain them, but do something that will be spiritually worthwhile.

What I reviewd has a DVD with a promo video on it, and clips from the new Narnia movie, a CD that has clip art, power point song lyrics, and a drama script for Zacchaeus, another CD that has the songs with music on it, and a treasure map. This was well put together, and something I'd recomment.

Thanks to B& B Media group for the review copy.

Fun For The Whole Family Hour is available from Group Publishing.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Are we too comfortable?

I found a new group I like, The Akins. Southern Gospel with more of a country sound, 4 guys, great sound. Check them out on their record lable's site, Crossroads Music.

Anyway... they have a song that is one of those that is food for thought: Comfortable. Lyrics below:

Verse 1
Every morning, on the side of the road
He's holding up a sign, he can't make it on his own
I pass him by and take a glance in my rear view
And the thought don't cross my mind that Jesus loves him too
I'm just too comfortable......

The more comfortable I get
The more that I forget
There's a world around that needs to see
The love that lives inside of me
If I pretend that no one's there
It won't make them disappear
Sometimes the problem seems unsovable
But could it be, we're just too comfortable?

Verse 2
He just walked in and had to tell his wife
He was layed off from his job
Oh they both broke down and cried
And they don't know that God could give them hope
And they've never been invited to the church right down the road
We're just too comfortable

Just think outside of the box to the other side of the world
Different races, shades and colors
All with God-shaped voids
But how are we supposed to reach them
When we don't even reach out past our front door?
We're just too comfortable.

I'm not going to say alot about the song, as it says a lot on its own, but it does raise a good point. Are we too comfortable that we can't get our hands dirty?

Snow Day by Billy Coffey

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Snow Day
FaithWords (October 11, 2010)


Billy Coffey


When you’re raised in small-town Virginia by a redneck father and a Mennonite mother, certain things become ingrained. And when you marry a small-town girl and have two small-town kids, all you want to do is pass those ingrained things along.

Like believing the best life is one lived in the country enjoying the pleasures it provides—summer nights beneath the stars, rocking chairs on the front porch, deer grazing in the fields. And believing that no matter how iffy life can get sometimes, there are some things that are eternal and unchanging.

But above all else, believing that in everything there is story waiting to be told.

That’s where I come in.

Billy Coffey was raised on stories. The first ones came on the front porches of relatives, tales laced with local charm and deep meaning. Then came the stories from people like Max Lucado and Robert Fulghum, who write with a charm and deep meaning of their own.

Billy lives with his wife and two children in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. If you drive by his house, you’ll probably spot him on the front porch. If you do, give him a wave. He’ll wave back.


In this debut novel, Peter is a simple man who lives by a simple truth--a person gains strength by leaning on his constants. To him, those constants are the factory where he works, the family he loves, and the God who sustains him. But when news of job cuts comes against the backdrop of an unexpected snowstorm, his life becomes filled with far more doubts than certainties.

With humor and a gift for storytelling, Billy Coffey brings you along as he spends his snow day encountering family, friends, and strangers of his small Virginia town. All have had their own battles with life's storms. Some have found redemption. Others are still seeking it. But each one offers a piece to the puzzle of why we must sometimes suffer loss, and each one will help Peter find a greater truth--our lives are made beautiful not by our big moments, but our little ones. (2010)

To read an excerpt from Snow Day, go HERE.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Love Finds You Under The Mistletoe

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe
Summerside Press (September 1, 2010)

Irene Brand & Anita Higman


Irene Brand has written Sunday School curriculum, edited a two-year series of mission curriculum, and her works have appeared in five program-material anthologies. Her publishers include Zondervan, Standard Publishing, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Fleming-Revell, Barbour Publishing, Kregel Publications, Steeple Hill (inspirational imprint of Silhouette), and Summerside Press. She has had 4 non-fiction books published, and 43 fiction works. Her first inspirational romance was published in 1984.

Award-winning author, Anita Higman, has twenty-six books published (several coauthored) for adults and children, and she has been honored as a Barnes & Noble Author of the Month for Houston. Anita has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Her favorite things include exotic teas, movies, and all things Jane Austen.


Two Christmas stories - one historical, one contemporary - under one cover!

Love Finds You under the Mistletoe: An Appalachian Christmas

A promise to her dying sister compels Julia Mayfield to take her young nephew to Mistletoe, Kentucky, a tiny town tucked away in the Appalachian Mountains. Sparks fly when she meets David Armstrong, a World War II veteran like herself. Even as shadows from the past weave a dangerous web around Julia and David, will their love flourish like the mistletoe that blankets the nearby hills?

Love Finds You under the Mistletoe: Once Upon a Christmas Eve

Hollie Goodnight's store has just been voted best Christmas shop in America. All the new publicity draws flamboyant novelist Van Keaton to the cozy town of Noel, Missouri, demanding to write Hollie's story - a dramatic tale of misfortune and triumph. She is swept up in his world of beautiful words and fanciful interludes. . .until Owen Quigly, her lifelong best friend, launches a plan to win her back.

If you would like to read an excerpt of Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Breaking the chains

The Bible talks about it - being set free. Preachers preach it, often referring to the chains of sin being broken. We sing songs about it. But are the chains always broken? Does God always deliver 100%? To show where I'm going, I will make up a couple of illustrations......

Martha starts smoking at age 13. She becomes a Christian at age 35. She wants to quit, but after 22 years, it is hard. She gives in every once in a while, when the desire is too great. She sees others who have been instantly delivered of the habit, but for her, she struggles with it for the rest of her life. Have her chains of sin been completely broken? If so, then why do cigarettes still hold power over her?

John was exposed to pornography at an early age. By the time he reaches adulthood, it has him bound firm. He becomes a Christian, but still has to fight the draw daily. He has to drive different routes to work to avoid the adult bookstore, and his mind is still filled with countless images. Occasionally, the draw gets too powerful, and he gives in, only to hate himself afterwards. Have his chains been truly broken, and if so, why can't he completely escape the power of pornography.

Michael grew up feeling different from all of the other boys. He realized in his teens that he was attracted to guys, not women, and he begins years of anonymous sexual encounters with other men. He meets Christ and turns his life over to him, but daily he has to fight his attractions and lust for the same sex. Has he truly been set free? Are his chains gone?

I know Satan fights us where we are weakest, and he knows where to strike, when to strike. I also know the Bible says that there is no temptation that God can deliver us from..... but why doesn't he take away the desires that are wrong, whether they be for cigarettes, drugs, sex, pornography? Must we suffer and struggle for the rest of our lives?

I have my own battle, my own struggle.... I just can't relate to the chains broken idea, for I feel like they never have been broken. It may be a poor way to put it, but in my mind, I have put it this way: I feel I am chained ina  cage. God forgives me and opens the cage so I can get out, but leaves the chains on me to deal with. Truth be told, I have wondered at times if I ever have actually become a Christian, yet feel that I have...... but why doesn't God seem to deliver 100%? And does anyone else feel this way?

Saturday, October 2, 2010


And Then Came Life... Bio-fiction

I received this book long after the review date of September 10, so I just used the info that the review group gave me. It is here.

I promised the authors I would post my own review of the book after I got it read, so here it is. First off, the book description:

David was always different from his brothers. Born and raised in the midst of South Florida s musical scene, he was marked as a sissy and mocked by the neighborhood boys. Introduced to Miami s gay nightlife, drugs, and reckless sexual escapades, he wonders if this is where he truly belongs, here in the arms of faceless strangers. As David wanders from one shadowy scene to another, stacking shame upon shame, he chooses to ignore the concerns of his estranged family and a mysterious, but comforting voice. Does this heavenly voice truly care? Is David, finally plagued by disease, destroying his life forever? Based on true events, David s story is one of misadventure, selfish exploration, disappointment, and ongoing scandal, but throughout its entirety, redeeming hope...a divine hope for life s fresh beginning in a moment of surrender and choice.

My review:
This isn't your average Christian fiction book. There was nothing inappropriate in the book, but it shows the depths a man can go to who is addicted to sexual gratification.

I have never read a book of this type before. The authors call it "bio-fiction", which is telling someone's story through fiction, changing some names, etc. The book paints a hard, realistic look at homosexuality. The influences toward David, and the life it causes him to lead. It really isn't an easy story to read, as it is a story of pain and despair, until David is changed by Christ. I did enjoy the book, and think it is one that everyone needs to read. In today's church, there are countless people dealing with sins like this that aren't nice. I am afraid all too many churches would act the same as the churches in the story if a flamboyant gay man became a Christian and started to their church - they would reject him.

Then Came Life is more than just a story. It is a sermon to the church to remind us we need to do more - for even the "really bad sinners".

Thanks to the authors for the review copy.


I've been thinking about tithing lately, so I decided to blog about it and see if I can get any comments.

As far as I know, tithing is only mentioned in the Old Testament. I could be wrong on that. Jesus does say in the NT to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and unto God what is God's.... so the argument could be made that He is referring to the tithe. I'm not out to argue whether to tithe or not. It does seem even the most conservative of churches pick and choose what parts of the Bible they want to follow or reason away, especially when it comes to the Old Testament, but whether or not tithing is only Old Testament, I am going with the premise that yes, we are to tithe one tenth to God - plus offerings.

What I want to get at, is where to tithe. If I remember right, the one verse says to bring your tithes into the storehouse. So where is the storehouse? Ask pretty much any preacher and they will say where you are getting "fed". Spiritually of course - your church. Of course they would say that - think they want your money going somewhere else? ;-)

When those verses were written, there wasn't a church. There was the tabernacle. And only one tabernacle..... so of course the tithe went there. Enter the New Testament and the Church. Back then there were no denominations, and probably far less churches than we have nowadays. We can assume tithe was paid into the church, but it was used for more than to pay the pastor and the bills. It was used to take care of widows and orphans.

But what if God doesn't care where our tithes go? As long as it is used for Him? I have some blogger friends, Craig & Heather, who go to a church where it is practiced that you put your tithe where you feel God wants you to put it. In the church, to missionaries, to someone having financial difficulties. Scriptural? Maybe so. I find it hard to believe that God just wants our tithe to go toward padded pews, new hymnbooks, refreshments for the youth gathering, etc.

I know I criticize my church a lot, but hey, it is my church. Better than criticizing yours. :-) I am going to go out on a limb here, and someone from my church may saw it off. So here goes....

What if you feel your church spends money unwisely? My church furnishes a house for the pastor to live in and pays all bills that comes along with the house. We had a decent house, but we did need more room. A wise thing would have been to build on...... but no, we purchased land and built a large, expensive house. A house that costs a lot more to heat, cool, etc. And don't get me wrong.... I want the pastor to have a nice place, but we went majorly into debt to build what is almost a mansion.... was that truly a wise investment of God's money?

Exhibit B: every year we get someone in to have our vacation Bible school. We pay them around $1000.00 for the week, as I understand - and that is all well and good. Meanwhile, everyone too old for the VBS, ages 13-? meet at the pastor's and different people from church speak eacj night on different topics. Something that has worked out well. This year, they got someone to come and do the whole week. So we paid around $1000 for the kid's VBS worker, and I'd guess $1000.00 for the youth speaker..... my church runs around 220-250, and we aren't exactly running over with cash....

The main reason the above bothers me is this: Take a trip with me about 2 1/2 hours east of me to a small place called Hillsdale, PA. My little sister and her husband pastor a small country church there, running in the 40's and 50's most Sundays. They did get someone to come for their VBS, but couldn't afford to pay someone for the whole week, so they did 3 days instead of 5. That made me sad, and when I see what my church spends on VBS, especially this year, it makes me wonder...... do we have our priorities where they should be? Instead of wasteful spending, shouldn't we be sending money to smaller churches that need it? Instead of building mansions and getting more speakers than we need?

And what is wrong with sending our tithe where it is needed more? Granted, it is God's money, not ours, but I don't want it used wastefully. The argument could be made that if everyone sent their tithe elsewhere, the church would collapse in financial ruin. Maybe. Maybe not. If people sought God's will, I believe it would all even out. Sure, my church might not be able to throw out $2000 for a week of VBS, but so what. Maybe churches would be more careful how they spend money if they had a little less.

I think we need to look at the bigger picture. It IS God's money, and I seriously doubt He cares if we give our tithe where it is needed more, instead of dropping it in the offering plate at our church. Here is a scenario to put it in perspective: Say my church takes in $500,000 a month in tithes alone - doubt it is that high, but I'm sure it is more than needed for normal expenses..... Would God be happier if that money was used on unnecessary ways, or put where it is needed - for a need outside of the church.

I believe Christianity in general has slipped far from what God intended. We are so shallow, selfish, self-absorbed, busy. Most of us are too caught up by the world we live in to listen to what God is saying to us, too busy to seek His will. We want a fast food, drive through religion..... but what if God wants something different with us? With our money? What if His will isn't always for our tithe to go in the offering plate at church, but go instead to hurting needing people, or even to smaller churches that are struggling financially?

In closing, I only used my church as an example because it is the one I am familiar with. I am sure there are churches guilty of even more wasteful and selfish spending.

Meanwhile, I am strongly considering sending my tithe to a small country church in Hillsdale, PA. It could be what God wants.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Mayan Apocalypse

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Mayan Apocalypse
Harvest House Publishers(September 1, 2010)

Mark Hitchcock & Alton Gansky


Mark Hitchcock is the author of more than 17 books related to end-time Bible prophecy, including the bestselling 2012, the Bible, and the End of the World. He earned a ThM and PhD from Dallas Theological Seminary and is the senior pastor of Faith Bible Church in Edmond, Oklahoma. He has worked as an adjunct professor at DTS and has served as a contributing editor for the Left Behind Prophecy Club for five years.

Alton Gansky is the author of 30 books—24 of them novels, including the Angel Award winner Terminal Justice and Christie Award finalist A Ship Possessed. A frequent speaker at writing conferences, he holds BA and MA degrees in biblical studies. Alton and his wife reside in Southern California.
On the heels of Mark Hitchcock’s prophecy bestseller 2012, the Bible, and the End of the World comes a suspenseful novel (coauthored with bestselling novelist Alton Gansky) about the supposed expiration date of planet earth—December 21, 2012.

Andrew Morgan is a wealthy oil executive in search of the meaning of life. In his quest for answers he encounters the ancient Mayan predictions that the world will end in 2012. That the claims seem supported by math and astronomy drives him to check on them. Then he meets Lisa Campbell, an attractive Christian journalist also researching the Mayan calendar. When he learns that she is a Christian, he quickly dismisses what she has to say.

As the time draws closer to December 21, 2012, a meteorite impact in Arizona, a volcanic eruption, and the threat of an asteroid on a collision-course with earth escalate fears. Are these indicators of a global apocalypse? Will anyone survive? Does Lisa’s Christian faith have the answers after all? Or has fate destined everyone to a holocaust from which there is no escape?

Watch the book trailer:

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