Thursday, February 24, 2011

The case of Joel Northrup

Joel Northrup is a 16-year-old boy from Iowa. He is the son of a pastor, and is home-schooled. He also wrestles, and does quite well.

Last week, he was scheduled to wrestle in the first round of the Iowa state high school wrestling tournament. He didn't wrestle. He forfeited the match and his chance at the state title.  Why? In his own words: "As a matter of conscience and my faith,” he wrote in a statement, “I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner."

The boy's father supported his decision: "We believe in the elevation and respect of women, and we don't think that wrestling a woman is the right thing to do. Body slamming and take downs -- full contact sport is not how to do that."

A lot of people are applauding the boy's decision. A lot are not. Even on an article on Focus on the Family's website, there are comments like this:

This one from a woman:

I come from the other side of the issue. I have a daughter who loves to wrestle. Being the only girl in a family of 3 brothers and all male extended family, she is very much a tom-boy. Don't get me wrong, she is totally female and knows how to be and act like a lady. That background is to share that she knows how to be rough with boys and take it -- knowing full well they can hurt her.
With that history, she wanted to wrestle. There are no all-girl wrestling teams in our area so she had to join the boys team. The only boy who would even practice with her was a boy that had been part of our family (I babysat him and his brother) since she was born. She ended up giving up something she loved because the boys wouldn't wrestle with her. Is she supposed to refrain from something because it's a "boys" sport?

This all took place before she hit puberty and high school, so hormones and curves were not an issue. I don't know if she would have continued with the sport after such time any way because she has slowed down on wrestling with her brothers or if she would have wanted to continue. We were never given the opportunity to find out. Not because she wasn't allowed to play but because the boys would not engage with her. She could hold her own in the matches, but never won because she did not get the practice she needed.

And this one from a man:

I'm with you, Brina. The boy and his father, I feel, are in the wrong for many reasons here.

First of all, they're NOT showing respect for the young lady by refusing to grapple with her. They're showing contempt for her abilities and hard work. She has made a choice to compete against young men, and knows what she is getting's not like he's going to come up behind her in a dark alley and knock her in the head and steal her purse!

Secondly, it's a cop out to make this a sexual/morality issue. If the young man in question can't control his hormones for the length of a high school wrestling match, maybe some counseling is in order.

Finally, at the end of the day, I think this is a case of "I don't want to get whipped by a girl" cloaked under the guise of Christianity, making all of us Christ-followers appear childish and silly.

I have read similar comments on news sites, and to be honest - they tick me off. I firmly believe the young man did what he did out of moral and Christian convictions - not because he was afraid to get beat by a girl. And disrespecting a girl by refusing to wrestle her? You gotta be kidding! The girl's parents are the ones who are disrespecting her!!!

Let me be blunt: wrestling is a contact sport. The intent is to take down your opponent by any means necessary. There is a lot of grabbing, groping, etc going on while trying to do so. How and why would anyone want their daughter in that position with a boy? The possibility of her breasts being grabbed by a boy, her butt or private area, her face ending up in the boy's crotch or butt? Is that really appropriate?!

When and how did we get to the place that this is condoned, and we ridicule a young man with the integrity, honesty, and courage to back away from doing that? Instead of cheering him on, applauding him, we make fun of him, claim he is disrespecting the girl, and that he is afraid of being beat by a girl. Really? How about questioning why a girl should wrestle in the first place with other girls, much less boys? And why a parent would be willing to place their daughter in that position, all for the sake of winning. Winning what? A trophy? The young man is the winner here.

Which would you rather have marry into your family: a young woman who wrestles boys and puts her body in the position to have done what I mentioned, or the young man who values women so much, and sticks to his religious convictions so much, that he is willing to forfeit his chance at winning a title to do so? I would pick the young man. He sounds like a guy I'd want my nieces to date.

And speaking of nieces... my three would never wrestle - they are young ladies, after all, but if they did, and if their parents allowed them to wrestle boys - which they would not - I would have something to say about that - so where are the people condemning the girl and her parents?

My hat is off to Joel Northrup - and his parents, for raising such a courageous young man with integrity. I wish there were more like him.

Virginia Gold by William Thomas

Seventeen-year-old John Thomas dreams of becoming a gentleman with land and status. He has no hope of ever achieving this in his homeland of Wales. In 1609, with only his dream, his faith, and his courage, he indentures himself to a sponsor and sails to London’s colonial outpost, Jamestown, leaving behind his family and his sweetheart, Dorothy. Aboard the Sea Venture he befriends a lonely girl named Rachel. In route, the supply fleet encounters a giant hurricane and John’s vessel is shipwrecked on the uninhabited island of Bermuda. (Historians believe the account of this hurricane, and shipwreck provided William Shakespeare the basis for his last written play, The Tempest.)

Ten months later, John and the other passengers reach Jamestown. Here, dangers, and challenges are waiting, including a blossoming relationship with Rachel, warfare against hostile Indians, and an Indian massacre, postponing John’s dream of wealth and status. But the Virginia gold that John finds leads him to a wealth that far surpasses his original dream. For a romantic tale in America’s first colony, adventure, and the value of a dream, Virginia Gold is a must read.

My review:
This book is historical fiction written about an ancestor of the author, John Thomas, who was a real person that started a tobacco farm in the Jamestown colony. I am 100% opposed to the use of tobacco, but I still enjoyed the story, and realize it played a big part in the early days of our country. As always the case with historical fiction, the author had to fill in some blanks and build a story around real fictional events, and I feel he did a great job of doing that, yet preserving and presenting the historical parts.

I was quickly pulled into the story and life of John Thomas: his faith, trials, tragedies, and love. I have not read many fiction books set in this time period, but it was a captivating and interesting read. I recommend it. When I read a book like this that tells of what our ancestors went through when they came to America, it makes me more thankful for the country and freedoms we have. This book helped do that.

About the author:
Dr. William Thomas brings over fifty years of education, experience, and research into his writing. His hope is that his first book will impact people’s lives. As a veteran of two wars: Korea and Vietnam, plus forty years as a pastor and army chaplain, he has lived through events that were shaped by historical decisions.

Thomas is a retired pastor who still preaches occasionally for his congregation. He holds a Ph D in the area of pastoral authority, and a California state license in marriage, family, and child counseling. Before pursuing publication, his writings included sermons, newsletters, and a doctoral thesis on pastoral authority. His poetry has been published by Mira Costa College publications in California, and in a Famous Poets Publication. He self-published a chap book of poems and essays titled, Sonnets of the Soul, in 2005. He resides with his wife, Donna and their golden lab, Sooner, in McKinney, Texas. They have seven children and seventeen grandchildren.

Virginia Gold is available from Winepress Publishing.

Thanks to Winepress for the review copy.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Operation Bonnet by Kimberly Stuart

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Operation Bonnet
David C. Cook; New edition (February 1, 2011)
Kimberly Stuart

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kimberly says:

I am a writer of comedic fiction, and would like to suggest that you laugh regularly when reading my books. Let’s also try for one to two teary moments. If you are crying more than that, you don’t understand my sense of humor and should move on to another author.

I grew up in a book-loving home. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. My mom loves books. My dad loves to read the first chapters of books and then make us all listen as he recites his favorite passages. I, however, enjoy reading books in their entirety and came into writing as a result of book-love. After earning two fancy degrees in education and Spanish, I promptly let the thinking part of my brain take a breather and instead became pregnant. (I’m sure a lot of other things happened between early literacy and pregnancy but I don’t really remember any of that. If you also have shared your uterus with another human, you understand.)

In an effort to author a book that would entertain my sassy, irreverent, breast-feeding/drooping friends, I wrote my first novel, Balancing Act. People were so nice to me after that, I decided to continue with writing. Also, I can’t craft, knit, or scrapbook, so what else was a nice, Christian girl to do?

In addition to writing books to make my friends laugh and cry, I observe the chaos at the home I share with my unfailingly supportive husband and three offspring. We’re doing our best and so far, no one’s been to prison.


Twenty-year-old Nellie Monroe has a restless brilliance that makes her a bit of an odd duck. She wants to be a private investigator, even though her tiny hometown offers no hope of clients. Until she meets Amos Shetler, an Amish dropout carrying a torch for the girl he left behind.

So Nellie straps on her bonnet and goes undercover to get the dish. But though she’s brainy, Nellie is clueless when it comes to real life and real relationships. Soon she’s alienated her best friend, angered her college professor, and botched her case.

Operation Bonnet is a comedy of errors, a surprising take on love, and a story of grace.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Operation Bonnet, go HERE.

Watch the book video trailer:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

CSN Stores

A while back, I reviewed a couple of products from CSN Stores. I have been given the opportunity to review another product and will be posting a review in a few weeks.

If you are looking for home office furniture, bedding - you name it, they have it on one of their online stores. They have 200+ websites with things like furniture, housewares, home improvement, baby and kids, outdoor living, office supply, and much more.

There are a ton of things to pick from. The last time, I  picked a small quilt and throw pillow. Watch for my review of a CSN product coming up in the next few weeks.


I recently bought the newest CD released by the Talley Trio, and just love one of the songs on the CD. Well, more than one, but I keep playing this one over and over. Titled "Applause." Video below lyrics

Applause by Lee Black and Ben Storie

Verse 1
She rode the bus until the dusty road came to an end
A missionary answering the call
She made her way through mountains, never looking back
Until she reached the tribal village wall
For 47 years she told how Jesus saves
There were few successes, but she faithfully remained
And when she breathed her final breath, only native people grieved
But as she arrived in Heaven, she could not believe

She heard applause
Echo through the courtyard
And off the jasper walls
Applause, the sound of saints and angels
Welcoming her home where she belonged
And right before her eyes stood the Holy Lamb of God
Leading all of Heaven in applause

Verse 2
He loved his wife for 50 years and they brought up three sons
He ran a little country grocery store
He never made a million, but he made a happy life
And always said he couldn't ask for more
When he saw his neighbor in need of daily bread
There'd be a card with "Jesus Loves You" and food left on their step
The church was full the afternoon they laid him in the grave
But he'd never seen a crowd like the one at Heaven's gate

He heard applause
Echo through the courtyard
And off the jasper walls
Applause, the sound of saints and angels
Welcoming him home where he belonged
And right before his eyes stood the Holy Lamb of God
Leading all of Heaven in applause

There's a cloud of witnesses
Who stand for you and cheer
So run your race and keep the faith
And one day you will hear

Echo through the courtyard
And off the jasper walls
Applause, the sound of saints and angels
Welcoming you home where you belong
And right before eyes stands the Holy Lamb of God
Leading all of Heaven in applause

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lone Star Intrigue

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Lone Star Intrigue
Avon Inspire (February 1, 2011)
Debra White Smith


Debra White Smith is a seasoned Christian author, speaker, and media personality who has been regularly publishing books for over a decade. In the last twelve years, she has accumulated over 50 books sales to her credit with over 1 million books in print. Her titles include such life-changing books as Romancing Your Husband, Romancing Your Wife, The Divine Romance: Developing Intimacy with God, the The Lonestar Intrigue fiction series, and The Jane Austen fiction series.

As a woman of God, Debra is committed to the highest standards of integrity and to spending hours a week being still before the Father, staying in tune with Him, and listening for His voice of direction in all she does. This commitment to romancing the Lord, coupled with her lifestyle of devouring, analyzing, and dissecting the Word of God has allowed God to bring about a miracle of deliverance and healing in Debra's spirit, mind, and soul. For you see, Debra holds a double Ph.D. from the toughest schools in the world. The first Ph.D. from the "School of Hard Knocks" and the second, from the "School of Very Hard Knocks." Aside from that, she holds an M.A. in English from the University of Texas.

Along with Debra's being voted a fiction-reader favorite several times, her book Romancing Your Husband was a finalist in the 2003 Gold Medallion Awards. And, her Austen Series novel First Impressions was a finalist in the 2005 Retailer's Choice Awards. Debra has been a popular media guest across the nation, including Fox TV, The 700 Club, ABC Radio, USA Radio Network, and Moody Broadcasting. Her favorite hobbies include fishing, bargain-hunting, and swimming with her family. Debra also vows she would walk 50 miles for a scoop of German Chocolate ice cream.


In the small town of Bullard, Texas, the Mansfield brothers seem to have everything in order . . . except for their love lives. Jack is the lonely police chief still pining after Charli, his college girlfriend. Younger brother Sonny keeps busy on the road as a private investigator, and a secret from his past prevents him from finding someone to settle down with. But all that is about to change...

Read the two stories...

In Texas Heat, Charli is wrongly accused of a terrible crime. Now Jack must arrest the one woman he's ever loved and risk everything to prove her innocence and save her life.

In Texas Pursuit, a single mother is a target of a relentless stalker—and Sonny finds himself both the only man who can protect her and the one who inadvertently leads danger back into her world.

Page-turning novels of romance and suspense, the Lone Star Intrigue series will give you faith in the power of love, and remind you that having faith in a God who redeems our mistakes is the greatest love story of all.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Lone Star Intrigue, go HERE.

My review:
Great book. This has two different books in it, and I thoroughly enjoyed both of them. The stories are romantic suspense, and and romance is ok if there is suspense. :-)

I did read the whole book in one evening. I don't think I ever have read anything by this author, but I am impressed. Not only does she write a great story, she also does a teriffic job on the suspense part. I so much enjoyed the book that I was disappointed to find out that the third book in the trilogy is not out, and is not due out until September.

I don't know how many suspense books this author has written, but hopefully she does many more. What a great read.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Maximal Reserve by Sam Batterman


A secret the can change the balance of the world’s power and finance in a moment is known by the most unlikely of people—and he’s only been employed for a week.

Philip Channing was just an ambitious college graduate who wanted to make his mark on the world. He didn’t know that mark would be the greatest oil discovery of all time—in the wrong place. Philip finds the largest oil reserve in history, dwarfing the lucrative reserves in Saudi Arabia, and threatening to change the balance of power and wealth in the favor of the most unlikely country of all.
"Maximal Reserve is a fascinating adventure into the depths of God’s earth. Batterman’s book is a combination James Bond movie and Ken Ham seminar. Entertaining and educational. And Batterman makes science fun. He presents his theories in an action-packed way that makes it all seem so realistic I wonder if it isn’t happening this way right now. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the way it made me ponder the great mysteries of this planet."
Jill Williamson, Christy Award-wining author of By Darkness Hid

“The world needs oil, and Phil Channing just discovered the greatest single oil reserve in history. Ripped from the headlines, Sam Batterman’s sophomore techno-thriller is a compelling, fast-paced read that weaves together scientific discovery, biblical prophecy, romance, and action-packed adventure in the Middle East. From the riveting opening to the jaw-dropping conclusion, readers will delight in drilling to the depths of Maximal Reserve. Batterman especially excels at wedding science with biblical truth in Crichton-esque plots. An awesome ride!”
Adam Blumer, author of Fatal Illusions

"Maximal Reserve has a shockingly intelligent premise, bolstered by equally intelligent research. The stuff truly great techno-thrillers are made of.
Conlan Brown, author of The Firstborn and The Overseer

"A rousing, suspense-fueled thriller that grabs you from page one, Maximal Reserve is a cautionary tale about the world's largest oil reserve found at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, and the terrible price people are willing to pay to get to it."
Mike Lynch--author of American Midnight

“Maximal Reserve has an intriguing premise involving fascinating science and relevant history. I love it when a novel not only entertains, but educates.”
Kerry Nietz, author of A Star Curiously Singing.

“In Maximal Reserve, Sam Batterman ratchets up the tension about Israel’s future. As timely as today’s headlines, this techno-thriller plunges the reader into the struggle for the world’s lifeblood—oil, and combines the need for diminishing resources with end-times prophesy, resulting in a timely novel for the inquiring mind.”
Diane and David Munson, best-selling authors of Hero’s Ransom

My review:
In January of last year, Sam Batterman emailed me and asked if I would review his book, Wayback. I did, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I got another email from him last month asking if I would review his second book, Maximal Reserve. I jumped at the chance.
The two books are totally different, one more believable than the other. (Wayback involved time travel). I loved both, but this second book is even better.
There is a lot of scientific lingo and information in the book, showing that the author had to have done a lot of research. He presents the information in an interesting way, so the reader doesn't go away bewildered and confused.
The book also deals with prophecy, and what effect oil has on the world, and could have in the endtimes. Some really interesting stuff there.
There is also some romance, and my favorite: suspense. There is a lot of it in the book. Bad guys chasing good guys - I love that kind of thing, and Batterman did a great job on writing a suspenseful plot.
I did thoroughly enjoy this book. I started reading it one evening, and read it in one evening, so yes, it gets my "read-in-one-sitting" status. I was entertained all the while learning more about the oil situation, and what it could mean for the world if Israel would suddenly become the owner of an unlimited oil supply. And all along was surprising turn of events, romance, and of course suspense.
This is a book I highly recommend. If you like suspense, you will enjoy it, and if you want to learn more about the oil situation and get a dose of prophecy along with it, you will enjoy that also. Get the book and read it.

About the author:
Sam Batterman is a writer of Speculative Fiction. His first novel, Wayback, was published in May, 2009. He just published his second novel, Maximal Reserve, and is working on a sequel to Wayback tentatively called Insurrection. Sam works as a Software Engineer and lives with his wife and children in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Visit Sam's website at

Read an excerpt of the book here.
Thanks to Sam Batterman for the review copy.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Deadly Ties by Vicki Hinze



A horrific crime shatters Lisa Harper’s idyllic childhood. Her father is dead and her desperate mother, Annie, quickly marries Dutch Hauk, an abusive monster who soon reveals his hatred for Lisa. To protect her, Annie defies her ruthless husband and forfeits custody to a trusted friend. Enraged, Dutch vows to keep Annie and Lisa apart—and he does. Years later, though keenly aware of Dutch’s evil intent, Lisa and her mother seize a chance to be a family, safe in a home where love dwells. But they fail to fathom how far Dutch will go to keep his vow.

Determined to control his women, Dutch proves resourceful. His associates in crime are feared at the highest levels across the globe—and for Lisa they plan a fate worse than death. Yet she too has formidable connections, including former Special Operations Officer Mark Taylor. Burdened by his own traumatic past, Mark has loved Lisa from afar. Now, for Lisa and her mother to survive, Mark must risk his life—and even more difficult for him, he must trust God. All as one question haunts them: Can Mark and Lisa untangle these deadly ties before it’s too late?

My review:
Vicki Hinze is a new author to me, this being only the second book of hers I have read and reviewed. She has written some secular books, and her first Christian novel was Forget Me Not, which I read and reviewed in April.

This is book two in the Crossroads Crisis Center series. I am always eager to read sequels, wondering if they will be as good, or better than the first in the series. In this case, it is even better. I literally could not put this book down. I was pushing to finish it before I left for work, and succeeded. Totally awesome. My favorite genre' to read is mystery/suspense, and this author nails it.

The book, and the whole series, is set around a Christian run crisis center. I enjoy the characters. The author takes some time for character development, which always helps in a book. The plot is great and covers abuse and human trafficking. It has romance, and of course suspense. I love it when a book is so exciting that you are just pulled into the story and can't wait to find out what happens next, and that is exactly what this book did to  me. This is suspense at its best.

Also explored in the book are trusting God, and fully embracing His grace, instead of clinging to past mistakes. Some don't like much of a Christian theme in Christian fiction, which doesn't make sense to me, and though this book is not preachy, there is a definite Christian theme to it, and God's provision and protection are clearly shown.

If Christian fiction was a ball game, Vicki Hinze hit a home run with this. Check her books out. If you enjoy clean suspense, you will love her books.

About the author:

Vicki Hinze is an award-winning author of more than twenty novels (including Forget Me Not), three nonfiction books, and hundreds of articles. Hinze is active in Romance Writers of America and serves as a vice president on the International Thriller Writers board of directors. Vicki lives in Florida with her artist husband, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel. Visit for more about Vicki’s books, blogs, and writing programs.
Deadly Ties, and the other book in the Crossroads Crisis Center series is available from Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishing.
Thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah for the review copy.

Larkspur Cove by Lisa Wingate

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Larkspur Cove
Bethany House (February 1, 2011)
Lisa Wingate


Lisa Wingate is an award-winning journalist, magazine columnist, popular inspirational speaker and a national bestselling author of sixteen books. Her first mainstream novel, Tending Roses, is in its eighteenth printing from Penguin Putnam. Tending Roses is a staple on the shelves of national bookstore chains as well as in many independent bookstores.

Recently, Lisa’s Blue Sky Hill Series, set in Dallas, received national attention with back-to-back nominations for American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award for A Month of Summer (2009) and The Summer Kitchen (2010). Pithy, emotional, and inspirational, her stories bring to life characters so real that readers often write to ask what is happening to them after the book ends.

Lisa is one of a select group of authors to find success in both the Christian and mainstream markets, writing for both Bethany House, a Christian publisher, and NAL Penguin Putnam, a general market publisher. Her bestselling books have become a hallmark of inspirational fiction. Her works have been featured by the National Reader's Club of America, AOL Book Picks, Doubleday Book Club, the Literary Guild, Crossings Book Club, American Profiles and have been chosen for numerous awards.

When not busy dreaming up stories, Lisa spends time on the road as a motivational speaker. Via internet, she shares with readers as far away as India, where her book, Tending Roses, has been used to promote women's literacy, and as close to home as Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the county library system has used Tending Roses to help volunteer mentors teach adults to read. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.


Adventure is the last thing on Andrea Henderson's mind when she moves to Moses Lake. After surviving the worst year of her life, she's struggling to build a new life for herself and her son as a social worker. Perhaps in doing a job that makes a difference, she can find some sense of purpose and solace in her shattered faith. For new Moses Lake game warden Mart McClendon, finding a sense of purpose in life isn't an issue. He took the job to get out of southwest Texas and the constant reminders of a tragedy for which he can't forgive himself. But when a little girl is seen with the town recluse, Mart and Andrea are drawn together in the search for her identity. The little girl offers them both a new chance at redemption and hope--and may bring them closer than either ever planned.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Larkspur Cove, go HERE.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

King James, the black book, and change

First, some background:

My church has two hymnals and a chorus book. One hymnal, the one used the most, is Worship In Song, Lillenas Publishing, 1972. It has a lot of familiar hymns and some newer ones from the 20th century. The other hymnal is the Wesleyan Methodist Hymnal, 1910 - I call it the "black book". It is black. It has a lot of older songs, the majority unfamiliar. I don't like it. To be fair, it may be more the tunes than the words. Regardless, I groan inwardly when we sing from it, which is not often.

This past week, I posted something I thought was humorous on facebook: one of my favorite Southern Gospel groups, the Talley Trio, just released a new CD. I was listening to it, and when track #10 came on, I said to myself "man, that sounds like a song from the black book!" Just for kicks, on Sunday I looked in the index of the black book.... and the song was there! I of course was amused.

Anyway, a lady from my church took offense to my not liking this hymnal and posted a few things about it - long comments, lots of words in all-caps, telling me among other things that if I didn't like the singing at my church, maybe I needed a "heart check." I was annoyed at first, later amused. I deleted the whole conversation while thinking "wow, I'm glad liking or disliking a certain hymnal does not depend on one's salvation!"

This got me to thinking, which can be a dangerous thing. And led to me to some interesting thoughts - at least to me. I did a bit of research to make sure I was right, and I was. Or am.

I want to talk about Isaac Watts. He was recognised as the "Father of English Hymnody", as he was the first prolific and popular English hymn writer, credited with some 750 hymns. Many of his hymns remain in active use today and have been translated into many languages.

Until he began writing hymns, the singing in churches revolved around Psalms. That is what they sang in churches. Then comes along Isaac with his new thing: hymns that he wrote. One would imagine that he faced some opposition, and one would be correct. He faced a lot. How dare someone come up with something different, newer than what they had been singing! And singing from the Bible, no less!

We are on the other side of history and cannot imagine just singing the Psalms now. Not that there is anything wrong with that. We cheer for Isaac Watts and pity those people who fought the arrival of hymns.

More of that later. Let us take a trip back in history even further, to 1611. Up to that time, people were reading other versions of the Bible. There were Bibles before 1611, though some people seem to think otherwise. There were actually two official translation of the Bible into English. Then comes along King James, a wicked king, who commissioned yet another Bible. The one we know as The King James version.

There are many people who live and die by the KJV. That is fine. What is not fine is the closed-mindedness (is that a word?!) of these same people who consider any other version heresy and will not even consider using another. Not even the New King James which pretty much updates the language, using words like "you", instead of "thou", and doing away with outdated words such as "lovest".

There is no proof that the King James Version is any more reliable and ordained by God, than the New King James Version, The New International Version, The New Living, or more. Are all translations right on? Maybe not. There is one that uses neutral pronouns when referring to God, instead of "He". Definitely wrong, but just because something is newer than we are used to, does not make it bad. And just because something is old, does not make it better. And to be fair, just because something is new does not make it better or good.

Someone said the cry of the dying church is "but we never did it that way before!" Granted, some churches get "too new and modern". Some focus on entertainment, rather than worship. But there is room for improvement in any church. None are exempt from improvement, no matter what they think.

Back to music...... I have heard some praise and worship songs that I wondered why on earth the writer bothered, but I've thought that about some hymns also. It doesn't hurt a church to use some newer songs. Sure, some protest and almost view it as heretical, but that is what they thought about hymns in Isaac Watt's day.

God cannot be put into a box. Neither can worship. Not every new song or method needs to be used, but if we would welcome some of the new, we might be surprised at the outcome. Try a different translation. You might find something new in the Bible you never noticed. Something might make more sense, stand out more. Try some newer songs. God might minister to you through them.

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, but the ways of reading about Him and singing about Him are not. If the church had had their way, we would all still be singing Psalms in church. No "Amazing Grace"or "Great Is Thy Faithfulness". No "Because He Lives", no "Family of God." I would guess that even the most conservative among us would admit that the hymns have added much to our worship over the years, and have ministered and convicted us. So is it that much of a stretch to say that newer songs can do that? I think not.

Something I would like, is for my church to buy a newer hymnal. Much newer. Put the old black hymnals aside and bring some newer songs into the service. Keep the Worship In Song Hymnal as the main hymnal, and use the newer hymnal occasionally. Who knows what it could add to the service. But knowing my church as I know it, that is about as likely as the pews being exchanged for reclining seats with footrests and a beverage holder.......

Is the old bad? No, but neither is the new. And no, one's salvation does not depend on liking or disliking any hymnal or style of singing. And change isn't always bad. Often it is good and necessary.

And lastly... the only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions.

An Unlikely Blessing by Judy Baer

An Unlikely Blessing is a heartfelt story about a new pastor and life-long city dweller Alex Armstrong, who reluctantly accepts his first assignment, a two-point parish in the wilds of North Dakota . Hilltop Township , a farming community, blooms from the prairie like a wild pink rose—lovely and prickly all at once, much like the people who live there.

Alex quickly finds that this lovely place is in quiet peril. Farmers are struggling to make ends meet: Jonas Owens, a faithful member of Hilltop parish, is on the brink of losing the farm. Alex believes that part of why God called him to Hilltop was to help turn things around, and steps in with ideas for saving the Owens' land. But can even God's minister help save this rural community?

My review:
I signed up to review this book, but admit when I got it, I wasn't that excited to read it. It just didn't look like my kind of book. I was wrong. Maybe it is because I identified with the main character: a 42-year-old single guy starting out new. Whatever the reason - I loved it. It was a fun book to read.

I believe one characteristic of a great novel is when the author writes the story in such a way that you want to step into the pages and experience what the characters are exploring. To see and be where they are. This book does just that. It isn't suspenseful as in the mystery way, though I found myself wondering what Alex would experience next.

The book is humorous. It was destined to be so. A single city guy starting his first pastorate out in the middle of nowhere, pastoring two churches, one of which does not like the other church. The book is full of colorful characters, and I found myself anticipating what crazy thing some of them would do or say next.

Another great characteristic of a novel is finding yourself sorry that the end of it has come, and find yourself wishing the next book would come out soon. And yes, that is the situation I found myself in. I am highly recommending this book, and series. It is a great book to curl up with on a cold, snowy day, which is exactly what I did.

My only complaint about the book, is there were a lot of characters to keep up with, but I eventually caught on, and cannot wait for the sequel.

About the author:

Judy Baer is the author of over seventy-five books for adults and teens. She has won the Romance Writer of America Bronze Medallion and has been a RITA finalist twice. She lives in Elk River , Minnesota with her husband. Follow the Hilltop characters on Judy’s blog and find out more about Judy and her books at

Kindle contest details:

Prolific author of over 75 novels, Judy Baer, is launching her new Guideposts series, Forever Hilltop, with a KINDLE giveaway! The first book in the series, An Unlikely Blessing is available now wherever fine books are sold.

Read the reviews here.

In celebration of the release of An Unlikely Blessing, Judy is giving away a KINDLE prize package worth over $175.

One lucky winner will receive:
  • Brand New KINDLE with Wi-Fi
  • A $25 gift certificate to
  • Thanks to Guideposts and Litfuse for the review copy.
    Check out more reviews on the blog tour here.