Saturday, June 15, 2024

Flashpoint (Chasing Fire: Montana) by Susan May Warren, Lisa Phillips

 




Flashpoint 

(Chasing Fire: Montana) 

– May 6, 2024

Friday, June 14, 2024

Get Cozy, Josey: A Vintage Romantic Comedy

 


Get Cozy, Josey: A Vintage Romantic Comedy 

(The Josey Series Book 3) 



Thursday, June 13, 2024

Troubled Graves (Lantern Beach Exposure Book 4) by Christy Barritt

 


Troubled Gra\

 (Lantern Beach Exposure Book 4)


Some things are best left buried . . .

Gunner Mathias is trying to come to terms with a life-changing injury that ended his career as a Navy SEAL. While at a retreat at Hope House on Lantern Beach, he hopes to heal so he can move forward with his life. The last thing he expects is to run into a woman he once rescued.

Noelle Purdy wants to use her expertise as a scientist for the betterment of others. Someone sinister has other plans. When a masked man attempts to abduct her, a stranger jumps in to help . . . only he’s not a stranger. He’s a hero from her past, someone she’s never forgotten.

Gunner and Noelle didn’t think they’d ever see each other again. But now long-dormant secrets have been resurrected, and Noelle is the only one who can stop the grave danger soon to be unleashed. Can Gunner and Noelle overcome old wounds in order to protect everything they love? Or will trouble from their past destroy them both first?

My thoughts:   Troubled Graves is a new book by prolific author Christy Barritt.  This one kept me guessing as to who-dun-it,   I never would have guessed.  Mr Barritt pens a fast paced book that keeps the reader guessing.  You will want to read this whole series.   Free on kindle unlimited.  Grab a copy today.  I was given a copy free and sll opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The Shifting Current: A Coastal Guardian Novella by Dani Pettrey

 


The Shifting Current: 

A Coastal Guardian Novella 

– March 17, 2023

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Part 2 of an Interview with Adriel Sanchez, Author of Praying with Jesus

 

 

Part 2 of an Interview with Adriel Sanchez,
Author of Praying with Jesus

The prayer we know as the Lord’s Prayer, shared by Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount is less than one hundred words long, yet it not only encapsulates the gospel, but the entirety of heavenly doctrine. In Praying with Jesus: Getting to the Heart of the Lord’s Prayer, Adriel Sanchez explores the most famous prayer in history and gets to the heart of each thing Jesus told his disciples to pray for.

Q: Part Two of Praying with Jesus delves into each of the six petitions made in the Lord’s Prayer. Is there a portion of the prayer you think we skate over more than others?

Yes! While I think there’s a lot we don’t fully understand about the Lord’s Prayer, we tend to skip over the first words, “Our Father,” and the petition on daily bread.

The first words really presuppose the gospel. In identifying God as our Father, they remind us of the great work of the Holy Trinity in redeeming humanity. Jesus, the eternal Son of the Father by nature, has made us sons and daughters of God by grace through the adopting work of the Holy Spirit. The first two words of the prayer bring us into contact with the gospel, and the Trinity!

The petition for daily bread is also one I think that we skate over. We have to admit that while most of us think we depend on God for the “big” stuff (physical healing, forgiveness, etc.), we trust that we can handle the rest (like breakfast). In reality, even our most basic needs are provided for us by God. One of the reasons we fail to pray and give thanks is because we’ve forgotten that we’re that dependent.

Q: As modern-day Christians, we don’t necessarily think about the meaning behind our children’s names when they are born like the parents of the Bible did. Talk to us a little about the significance of names back then, and especially of God’s name so that we can better understand what we are saying when we pray, “Hallowed by thy name.”

Now, I do have to object here because we gave a lot of thought to our kids’ names! You’re right, though, in biblical times this seemed like it was more significant or meaningful than it is today. The name communicated something about the person or of their character. In the Bible, the revelation of God’s name is a significant event. At the burning bush, the Lord reveals himself to Moses as “The One Who Is” or the self-existent one. One of the things I unpack in the book is how this idea of God’s self-existence, or aseity (to use the theological word), is a great comfort to us in prayer. Because God is self-existent, he doesn’t need me, but that also means that everything he gives is unselfish. God is the most generous giver, and this is an important truth to believe when it comes to prayer!

When we ask God to hallow his name, we’re praying for something very interesting. God can’t become more holy. He’s already “maxed out.” Here we’re asking God to make his name holy in us, and in the world. We’re praying that the holy one would be glorified by all creation, and that he would receive the honor and glory due to him. The prayer begins with a doxological plea!

Q: Where does the confusion often come in when praying, “Thy kingdom come”? The kingdom has already come, hasn’t it?

The kingdom confusion comes when we fail to define the kingdom rightly, or when we come to believe that we build the kingdom rather than receiving it as a gift. Confusion also comes when we fail to distinguish God’s universal rule from his mediatorial rule. According to the Bible, God is a great king who rules over everything right now. There isn’t one thing that’s outside of his control, and yet in another sense, his kingdom isn’t fully here. God’s mediatorial rule is focused on bringing about the new creation, and that’s precisely what we pray for when we say, “Thy kingdom come.” In my chapter on this petition, I highlight how this prayer is really answered in three ways: The kingdom’s advancement within us, around us, and ahead of us (in the future).

Q: Why is “Thy will be done” considered by many to be the hardest petition of the Lord’s Prayer?

This petition exposes our selfishness. Often our propensity is to pray for our wills to be accomplished, and not God’s. If we aren’t careful, we can begin to see prayer as a way of getting God to obey us! But the prayer for God’s will to be done entails the mortification of our own desires. The greatest example of this is Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. In this chapter I unpack some of the rich historical theology related to Christ’s wills, and why that discussion is significant for us as we think about prayer. I also distinguish between God’s hidden and revealed will and talk about how the will of God that we pray for is the same as his revealed will in Scripture. For those concerned about their own failures to obey God’s will, I draw on the wisdom of Luther who made the case that believers fulfill God’s will in two ways: 1) through Jesus Christ and the gift of his perfect righteousness and 2) through the Spirit’s work in us leading up to our glorification. This second way is imperfect in that we will never obey God flawlessly while sin still clings to us. Nevertheless, when we pray for God’s will to be done in and around us, we’re asking that by the Spirit, God would help us to follow his word.

Q: The Lord’s Prayer seems so simple, but we really do have to consider it in the context of it in the times in which Jesus taught it to realize how deep it was. For example, praying for our daily bread. How different would our prayer lives be if we really believed God was the source of our most basic daily needs? 

Yes, you know, in Jesus’ day the majority of the population worked in food production. Your crop or your fish were very important, and it was a fragile industry. You depended on God for rain or a good fishing haul. I think today we’ve lost sight of this basic dependence. I call it common-grace Pelagianism. Pelagianism was the ancient heresy that we could save ourselves. Common-grace Pelagianism sees us as capable of providing for our basic needs, but I don’t think that’s entirely right. God is the source of every gift, we just don’t always realize it. Once we start understanding that our most basic needs are given to us from heaven, then even the very breath in our lungs because a cause for thanksgiving. We take a lot less for granted when we realize how little we control.

Q: The prayer then moves into forgiveness. Is God’s forgiveness of me dependent on my forgiveness of others?

That’s a great question—and you know one that terrifies many people. There was a study some years back that said something like one-in-four practicing Christians has someone in their life that they simply can’t forgive. Of course, this question is raised by Jesus’ statement in the Lord’s Prayer, if you don’t forgive, neither will your heavenly father forgive you. The short answer I’ll give is this: No, it’s not that our forgiving others earns us forgiveness. Rather, God’s forgiveness is the source of our ability to be forgiving. Jesus makes this point in a parable later in Matthew’s gospel, so I think the way to see this is that Jesus is making an argument from lesser to greater. If we can forgive those who sin against us, how much should we rest assured that God whose mercy is so much greater than our own is eager to forgive us when we go to him?

Q: The final petition is “Lead us not into temptation.” Does God lead us into temptation, or do we wander there on our own?

In the New Testament, the word that’s used for temptation can also refer to a test, or trial. Sometimes the word is used in the context of enticing someone to sin, but James makes it clear that God never does this (see James 1:13). God doesn’t ever tempt us to sin, but he is sovereign over the avenues through which we experience temptation. Temptations arise from our own sinful desires, or external forces that try to lead us astray. The Lord’s Prayer reminds us that God is for our deliverance. He never allows us to be tempted beyond our ability, but even with the temptation provides the way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).

I think that this is really important because if you think God is against you, you’ll have a really difficult time praying to him confidently. Men and women who struggle with temptation can also experience a great sense of shame, and guilt. Getting out of the rut begins with recognizing that we aren’t alone, but that God himself is for us. Paul told the Thessalonians that God’s will is our sanctification. We can confidently pray that God would sanctify us and keep us from temptation.

Praying with Jesus: Getting to the Heart of the Lord’s Prayer
By Adriel Sanchez
Print ISBN: 978-1-64507-339-0
April 8, 2024 / Retail Price: $16.99
RELIGION / Christian Living / Prayer

Monday, June 10, 2024

Part 1 of an Interview with Adriel Sanchez, Author of Praying with Jesus

 

 

Part 1 of an Interview with Adriel Sanchez,
Author of Praying with Jesus

Using the Lord’s Prayer as a framework, Adriel Sanchez, host of the Core Christianity radio broadcast, unlocks the mystery of prayer, helping readers understand what prayer is, how to navigate the challenges of prayer, and how to form a habit of prayer. Sanchez points the way to how the Lord’s Prayer helps us better grasp the essential truth that we are not meant to try to navigate life in our own strength and wisdom.

In Praying with Jesus, Sanchez considers some of the reasons behind an inconsistent prayer life and helps cultivate a consistent habit of prayer. He guides readers into a union with Christ that is only possible through the daily practice of praying with Jesus. Readers will learn that the daily practice of praying based on the Lord’s Prayer transforms them—giving them insight into God’s purposes, bringing the presence of God into lives, and helping to unearth treasures of grace.

Q: Why is there a need for another book on the Lord’s Prayer? What makes your book, Praying with Jesus, different from other books on prayer?

I don’t think we can ever be too encouraged to pray. While at times praying seems to come naturally, the discipline of prayer requires thoughtfulness and perseverance. Praying With Jesus is one more encouragement for people to experience the sweet communion with God that Jesus has purchased for them, and it includes helpful tips, devotional prayers from church history, and “Prayer Practices” as well as group discussion questions at the end of each chapter. I’ve tried to weave together practical/pastoral insights, systematic theology, and wisdom from the great prayer warriors of the past. I also address some of the less talked about topics when it comes to prayer, like the relationship between the body and prayer, and the importance of making time to pray. Even scheduled prayer can be powerful!

Q: You write that even though the Lord’s Prayer is the most known prayer in history, it’s also the most misunderstood. How so?

Yes, this was a point the Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther made in a short tract he wrote to his barber on prayer! With his trademark wit, he called the Lord’s Prayer one of the greatest martyrs on earth because everyone tortures and abuses it. His point there is that while we often recite the words, we don’t take the rich theology that undergirds each petition to heart. I think of Praying With Jesus as a kind of excavation process, digging deep beneath each petition to unearth the gospel treasurers that are waiting to be found. Some of this also gets at one of Jesus’ warnings with regard to praying in Matthew 6. We shouldn’t pray mindlessly. Praying the right words on autopilot is a way of feigning communion with God. The real thing is so much better!

Q: Part One of Praying with Jesus is a general teaching on prayer. What are some of the topics you cover in that section?

The first part of the book covers the heart of prayer, the postures associated with prayer in Scripture, and the time to pray. This section helps lead into the Lord’s Prayer proper. In the first chapter on the heart of prayer, I emphasize the fact that God wants to hear your sincere prayers. Prayer isn’t for the super spiritual, but for the poor in spirit. I unpack the warnings Jesus gave about hypocritical and superstitious prayer, and I conclude with hope for those who feel like their prayers are lacking.

Chapter two on bodily postures in prayer is important in a book that emphasizes the discipline of prayer. Just think about bodily exercise. Rarely do we feel motivated to wake up and go to the gym or run a couple miles. Those who value fitness do so because they see the health benefits over a period of time. Prayer is a kind of bodily exercise, and consistent discipline does yield results. I spend time talking about the significance of the various bodily postures seen throughout Scripture: kneeling, prostration, standing, hands raised, etc. These postures can be a way of aligning our bodies with the cry of our heart.

Chapter three is on the time to pray. Many of us don’t pray simply because we don’t have the time to. I trace the biblical and early Christian practice of setting apart times to pray. The early Christians had the same problem we do today, but they realized that time needed to be carved out for prayer because of how important it was. I give some practical tips on cultivating a habit of prayer without veering into legalism.

Q: In the chapter that talks about spiritual heart disease, you say not to spam God with your prayers. If we are supposed to be able to take all our concerns to God, how do our prayers become spiritual spam?

This is a great question because one might argue that the persistent widow in Luke’s Gospel was a “spammer.” Here I’m focusing on Jesus’ warning against hypocritical prayers. Jesus taught that the pagans babbled many words thinking to be heard. They weren’t coming to God in faith, but spouting off incantations with the hope that maybe one of the gods was listening. When we approach God, we should believe that he is listening, and that he rewards those who seek him (See Hebrews 11!). Spam prayers are meaningless prayers we offer that we don’t really expect to be answered, and thus they’re faithless words. God invites us to come to him with all our needs. When we do, our faith will never be perfect, but there’s a difference between sincere prayers offered up with a weak faith, and mindless repetitions prayed like the Gentiles that Jesus described in Matthew 6.

Q: What part does our body play in prayer? Why is our physical posture important?

Seeing the connection between the body and prayer is a great reminder that our whole selves are to be offered to God as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1), including the individual members of our bodies (Roman 6). For many of us, the assumption is that the body is a hindrance to prayer. I’d like to try and turn this around. Our bodies can be employed in the discipline of prayer to help stir our heart attitude before the Lord. Posture isn’t ultimate (our posture can contradict our heart attitude), but that doesn’t mean its insignificant or unimportant. The Christian faith has always put a high value on the body as the object of God’s redemptive love. Since our bodies are a part of what Jesus has purchased, they should be brought into his service in all things, including the praying life.

Q: What encouragement do you offer to the Christian who is struggling with maintaining a faithful and consistent prayer life? What are some things that we can do to help build a habit of prayer?

Look, if prayer wasn’t hard Jesus’ disciples wouldn’t have asked him how to do it (Luke 11:1). So many people feel bad that they simply don’t have the desire to pray. The sense of guilt is compounded so that we distract ourselves with many things rather than attempting prayer. The first thing I’d want to say is, “You’re not a terrible person because you don’t always feel like praying.” In fact, none of us do. Cultivating a habit of prayer means getting beyond only praying when we feel like it, and that requires learning to discipline ourselves to pray just like we discipline ourselves to exercise or take showers. The Scriptures are full of examples of people praying at set times in the day, and sometimes that can be a helpful pattern to follow. Writing down our prayers is a good strategy for fighting against distraction, and using the prayers of others, or meditating on Scripture, can be a helpful remedy to “prayer’s block.”

Another encouragement is to meditate on the goodness of God. Prayer is a gift God has given us through Jesus. By means of his sacrificial death, the veil of separation was torn in two, and we’ve been granted full access to God in prayer. God wants to hear our prayers; in fact, he likens them to a sweet incense that fills his temple. Rather than thinking, “I’m such a mess, my prayers stink,” recognize that God has sprinkled your prayers with the blood of his Son. As his child you can call upon him with all the saints saying, “Our Father…” knowing that he’s eager to give his best gifts to those who ask.

Also, to the person who feels totally empty, I think that even emptiness can be an offering to God. Praying, “Lord, I feel so far from you, I don’t even want to pray right now, and yet I know that you’re good according to your word. Help!” is honest, and I believe, honoring to God. Prayer should be a point of intimacy with God rather than something we try to hide behind to pretend we’re holy.

Praying with Jesus: Getting to the Heart of the Lord’s Prayer
By Adriel Sanchez
Print ISBN: 978-1-64507-339-0
April 8, 2024 / Retail Price: $16.99
RELIGION / Christian Living / Prayer

About the Author

Adriel Sanchez, MA, is the pastor of North Park Presbyterian Church in San Diego, CA. He received Masters degrees in Biblical Studies and Theological Studies from Westminster Seminary California.

Sanchez also serves the broader church as the host of Core Christianity, a daily live listener call-in Q&A radio broadcast about the Bible and the Christian life. He is the author of Praying with Jesus and has also been published in Christianity Today, Modern Reformation Magazine, Tabletalk Magazine, and Credo Magazine.

He and his wife, Ysabel, live in San Diego with their five children.  

Listen to Adriel Sanchez’s podcast and read his blog articles at Corechristianity.com. He can also be found on Facebook (Adriel Sanchez) and X (@Adrieltweets).

Flashpoint (Chasing Fire: Montana) by Susan May Warren, Lisa Phillips

  Flashpoint  (Chasing Fire: Montana)  – May 6, 2024 by  Susan May Warren   (Author),  Lisa Phillips   (Author) SECRETS. BETRAYAL. SACRIFICE...