Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Veil


Title: THE VEIL
Author: Diane Noble
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
June 2009
ISBN: 978-0-307-43807-0
Genre: Inspirational/historical

A shroud of secrecy cloaks a nineteenth-century sect known only as the Saints.
That veil is about to be drawn aside. (from the back cover)

In 1857 Utah, the members of one religious group want nothing more than to practice their beliefs without persecution. However, they have faced so much persecution back in Missouri, Illinois, and Ohio that their leader, Brigham Young, has started teaching that in order to gain heaven; they would need to kill their enemies. It is only by the shedding of blood will they gain redemption.

Hannah McClary is a new saint, she was brought into the “family” when her father felt she needed a woman’s influence instead of living in an all male household, and sent her to live with a great aunt. The quest to kill others confuses Hannah, and she begins to question the leaders who teach it as truth. However, Hannah’s love, Lucas Knight has been trained as a killer for the church since he was a child.

As unwary pioneers come into Utah, they find a tragic confrontation with the Saints at a place called Mountain Meadows. Hannah and Lucas are thrust into the most dangerous confrontation of all…

THE VEIL is written by award-winning author Diane Noble. Diane is truly a gifted artist, able to take a true story and fictionalize the events that surrounded it. I learned a lot about a historic time period and a religious sect that I didn’t know much about. While I know that the Saints had suffered persecution in the Midwest, I didn’t know that had caused them to become more violent in the defense of their promised land. In some ways, the author almost made it seem justified, even as her characters questioned the reasons behind it.

I was a bit confused as I read through the prologue. There were three separate points of view in it and I wondered how on earth stories set in three different parts of the country could even begin to tie together. But it didn’t take long into the story for the different stories to mesh and become one.

Hannah is a realistic heroine, a tomboy, possessing a braveness that probably not many women at that time period obtained. Lucas, one couldn’t help but love, as the man faced a traumatic event early in his life, causing the reader to just want to scoop him up and love him. With his early trauma, it is easy to see why he became who he became and to sympathize with him completely. If you enjoy historic fiction that is based on a real life event then you will be fascinated by this reprint of Ms. Noble’s story, THE VEIL. $6.99. 379 Pages.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pray Big For Your Child


Title: PRAY BIG FOR YOUR CHILD
Author: Will Davis Jr.
Publisher: Revell
February 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3246-2
Genre: Inspirational/prayer

Talking to your kids is important. Talking to God about them is critical.

Sometimes kids are causes of great concern. But even when they aren’t there are still all matters of things that need God’s hand…choosing a vocation, accepting the gift of salvation, their friends, and grades…every step in your child’s life matters to you—and to God. PRAY BIG FOR YOUR CHILD shows you examples, and promises from the Bible that are just waiting to be fulfilled on the behalf of your child.

Using the Bible as a guide, PRAY BIG FOR YOUR CHILD will teach you how to confidently and powerfully apply scripture as a prayer basis for your child. This book teaches you how to pray “Big, Audacious Prayers” for any stage or circumstance in your child’s life.

There is a book that I would dearly love to get my hands on; it is one titled Praying through Scriptures. PRAY BIG FOR YOUR CHILD reminded me of that premise, as it used specific scriptures to jumpstart your prayers for your child. I feel that I picked this book up on a timely day as I woke up with my husband heavy on my heart, and I was praying for him off and on all day, then as I started reading this book and praying the verses mentioned in the book, I wondered, why can’t I pray big for my husband? So down on my knees I went, re-praying all the verses for my husband – in addition to my children.

PRAY BIG FOR YOUR CHILD is a fantastic book that will take you beyond the “dear God, please be with my child” prayers to the prayers that are boldly taking you to the throne where you can ‘audaciously” request what is really on your heart—and use the Bible to back it up. PRAY BIG FOR YOUR CHILD includes a powerful thirty-one day prayer guide and twelve around the clock reminders to help you pray throughout the day.

This book is going on my keeper shelf. An invaluable tool for all parents, whether your child is toddling around, learning to walk and talk, or if your child is married with kids of his own, or if your child is on the brink of highschool graduation, facing…things yet unknown. Available from www.amazon.com or your favorite family bookstore. $12.99. 186 pages.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Lever Long Enough


Title: A LEVER LONG ENOUGH
Author: Amy Deardon
Publisher: Taegals Publishing, LLC
March 2009
ISBN: 978-0-9818997-2-5
Genre: Time travel

Benjamin Feinan is head of an Israeli Military team. His team is searching for a time capsule that will be dropped into the Dead Sea next week—but in reality was in the First Century. In three days his team is prepared to head back to ancient Israel to collect video evidence that Jesus’ body was stolen from the tomb.

When Benjamin is drawn into a web of first-century deception and death, he realizes that the only way to escape is to change the past.

But a modern day traitor attempts to sabotage the mission and seize control of the military complex. Benjamin can reveal him…but he is trapped two thousand years away.

Amy Deardon surprised me. This book, a time travel fantasy type, is published by a press that I never heard of, so I didn’t suppose I would think much of A LEVER LONG ENOUGH. However, Ms. Deardon is an author that deserves the name of a much larger press. Her writing is impeccable, the storyline intriguing, the characters realistic, and the setting vivid.

Some of the chapters are very very short, sometimes only a paragraph, which I really enjoyed. She kept the tension high, and knew exactly where to end chapters at.

Ms. Deardon says she came to faith when she was studying the historic circumstances of Jesus’ death and resurrection. And she used this study as the research basis she needed to write a biblical fiction book intertwined with a modern day military operation. This book is sure to appeal to both men and women. My attention was gripped. I had to find out what would happen next, how Benjamin would reveal the traitor when he was stuck in ancient days. You will not want to miss this book. $12.44. 352 pages. Available from www.amazon.com, www.amydeardon.com, or www.taegalspublishing.com.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Call of Zulina, Interview, and Give away


Title: THE CALL OF ZULINA
Author: Kay Marshall Strom
Publisher: Abingdon Press
August 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4267-0069-9
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Grace Winslow is the privileged daughter of a English sea captain and an African Princess. But when Grace is being forced into a loveless marriage with a slave trader just to add more gold to her gambling, drunk of a father’s coffers, Grace decides her only option is to flee. Where, she doesn’t know.

But when Grace heads off toward town with nothing but the cloths she had on, she finds herself almost forced up the hill to Zulina, slave quarters where her father stores the slaves before shipping them out to sea. But once there at the slave house, Grace finds herself a captive, and in the midst of a slave revolt.

Despite being held for ransom, viciously maimed, and threatened with death, Grace finds herself sympathizing with the plight of the captives, and understanding for the first time the brutality and ferocity of the family business. She is especially moved by the African Caberto’s passion, determination and willingness to sacrifice anything for freedom. Will Grace risk everything to follow her heart?

I will admit that THE CALL OF ZULINA has been in my to-be-read pile for awhile, and I’ve been hesitant to pick it up and read it. Another historical, and this one set in Africa. I didn’t think it would be that good. But THE CALL OF ZULINA is far from being just another historical. This one stands head and shoulders above the rest. I couldn’t help but falling in love with Grace, half English, half African, and fitting in no where. I couldn’t help but feel for the Africans captures and torn from their homes and families, and no one caring whether they lived or died. I couldn’t help but hope the prisoners would succeed in their quest for freedom even though the odds where severely stacked against them.

THE CALL OF ZULINA is a book that I very highly recommend. The story grabbed my interest from the first page and held it until the end. Even though the book is in some places very violent, and very graphic, it moves the heart, and I recommend reading this book with a box of tissues close. If you read one book this year, make sure it is THE CALL OF ZULINA, book one of the Grace in Africa series. This book is a winner. $13.99. 320 pages.




ISBN: 1426700695

ISBN-13: 9781426700699

Format: Paperback

Abingdon Press

Pub. Date: August 2009

Retail: $13.99

About the Book:

(Eugene, Oregon) – An arranged marriage, a runaway bride, and an ugly family heritage of brutal and inhumane slavery operations leave no room for a fairytale story. Grace Winslow, daughter of an English sea captain and African princess, finds herself in a horrific position of betrothal. Doomed to marry an obnoxious white man, whom she does not love, Grace runs away to escape the slavery she’s been surrounded by all her life. Instead, her journey from home brings her face-to-face with issues of extreme slavery, abuse and human trafficking. In the end she discovers slavery is more than just chains and finds grace that exceeds a name given to her by her parents.

Written by Kay Marshall Strom, The Call of Zulina links historical slavery issues with the modern-day crisis tainting many countries. On the heels of important legislature regarding human trafficking, Strom tackles the subject boldly as she sheds light on the practices and techniques used by angry slave traders. Seen as an advocate for those who have no voice, Strom finds words to communicate the message of history to today’s readers. While this book shines the light on an uncomfortable subject, the message of hope, freedom, and justice prevail and eternal truths discovered.


About the Author:

Author Kay Marshall Strom has two great loves: writing and helping others achieve their own writing potential. Kay has written thirty-six published books, numerous magazine articles, and two screenplays. While mostly a nonfiction writer, the first book of her historical novel trilogy Grace in Africa has met with acclaim. Kay speaks at seminars, retreats, writers’ conferences, and special events throughout the country and around the world. She is in wide demand as an instructor and keynote speaker at major writing conferences. She also enjoys speaking aboard cruise ships in exchange for exotic cruise destinations.




Blog Tour Interview:

1. How did you come up with the storyline of The Call of Zulina?

While in West Africa working on another project, I toured an old slave fortress and was struck dumb by a set of baby manacles bolted to the wall. The characters of Lingongo and Joseph Winslow, Grace's parents, are modeled after real people who ran a slave business in Africa in the 1700s. I "met" them when I was researching Once Blind: The Life of John Newton, a biography of the slaver turned preacher and abolitionists, author of Amazing Grace. The more I thought about them, the more I wondered, "If they'd had a daughter, who would she be? Where would her loyalties lie?"

2. What inspired you to write a book so entrenched with uncomfortable issues?

I used to think that non-fiction was the meat and potatoes of writing and fiction was the chocolate mousse dessert... fun, but not of much value. But I've come to understand that truths can be revealed through fiction just as powerfully as through non-fiction. Sometimes, more so! The fact is, for so long we have tried to look away and pretend that this horrible chapter in history never happened. But it did, and we still feel the effects today. Moreover, the roots of slavery--hunger for power and money, fear and diminishment of people unlike ourselves, and humanity's endless ability to rationalize evil actions--abound today. The time seemed right.

3. How haveyour travels around the world equipped you for writing such a historical novel?

People ask me where my passion for issues such as modern day slavery come from. To a large degree it is from the things I have seen and heard on my numerous trips to India, African countries, Cambodia, Nepal, Indonesia, and other places around the world.

4. Tell us a personal story regarding modern day slavery.

A most pervasive type of slavery is what is known as bonded servitude, where entire poor families are bound into virtual slavery--sometimes for generations--because of a small debt. This is especially common in India. I visited a village in central India where the women had been freed from bondage and set up with a micro loan that allowed them to raise a small herd of dairy cows. They worked so hard and saved every rupee. When they had enough saved, they persuaded a young teacher to come and start a school for their children. Then they used further profits to make low interest loans to others in the area so they could start their own businesses, too--a little bank. I sat in a circle with the five women who made up the "board of directors." Only one could read and write. I asked, "How will the next generation be different because of what you have done?" They said, "No more will be like us. When people look us, they see nothing. But when they look at our children, they see real human beings with value."

From invisible slaves to human beings... all in one generation!

5. Grace, the lead character in The Call of Zulina, forsakes all to escape the slavery of her parents and an arranged marriage.How common is this scenerio today in other countries?

Horrifyingly common. Slavery today takes many forms. According to UNICEF's more conservative count, there are about 12 million people living as slaves today--three times as many as in the days of the African slave trade. As for child arranged marriages, I have talked to girls "enslaved" to husbands in many countries. Examples include a girl in Nepal married at 9 to a middle-aged man, one in India married at 11, a 13-year-old in Egypt married to a man older than her father. I've seen it in Africa, Eastern Europe... so many places!

6. What about in America, are there slavery and trafficking issues here?

Unfortunately, there are. The U.S. State Department estimates between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the Untied States each year, although it concedes that the real number is actually far higher. And it's not just states like New York and California that are affected, either. According to the U.S. Justice Department's head of the new human trafficking unit, there is now at least one case of trafficking in every state.

7. You've had 36 books published, and more written and contracted for future release. How has this one impacted your own life?

Some books report, some tell stories. This book has torn my heart.

8. Briefly tell us about the next two books in this Grace in Africa trilogy.

In Book 2, Grace watches her reconstructed life smashed by slavers and revenge, and she is forcibly taken to London. There she faces a new kind of tyranny and another fight for freedom... and for her husband, who is enslaved in America.

Book 3 is set in the new United States of America, in the heart of the slavery. It is a story of slavery at it's worst and redemption at its best.




What Can Concerned Citizens Do to Raise Awareness?

Find out all you can about Modern Day Slavery: then watch for chances to pass on what you have learned.
Write to your elected officials: Petition them to place a high priority on enforcing anti-slavery laws and to put pressure on countries that tolerate forced labor or human trafficking.
Buy Fair Trade products: Fair trade provides a sustainable model of international trade based on economic justice. To find out more, see http://www.fairtrade.net/ .
Support organizations that are in a position to make a difference. When you find an one that is doing a good job on the front lines, contribute to their cause so they can continue on.
Be willing to step into the gap. If you suspect someone is being held against his or her will, call the Department of Justice hotline: 1-888-428-7581. Or you can call 911.


Grand Prize Giveaway!!!

Kay Marshall Strom is giving the following books to one fortunate commenter from The Call of Zulina blog tour. The prize package includes several of Kay's books:



Seeking Christ: A Christian Woman's Guide to Personal Wholeness & Spiritual Maturity
John Newton:The Angry Sailor
Making Friends with Your Mother
Making Friends with Your Father

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Q&A with Mark Cress, Founder and President of Community Chaplains of America

Q&A with Mark Cress, Founder and President of

Community Chaplains of America





Q: Why do you think chaplains are able to win so many people to Christ?



A: According to some of the research we’ve done, most adults who come to Christ (80%) do so during a time of crisis. When those times of crisis come, many people don’t have a relationship with a clergy member. They may not want to go to a church, but they still need to talk to somebody. A chaplain has the opportunity to be present with someone during that crisis, to be a listening ear and a support system, and to gain permission to talk with them about Christ.



Q: Where and how are Community Chaplains already serving?



A: Several hundred people have completed the Community Chaplains training. There are commissioned chaplains now serving in 35 states and a variety of settings. We have one chaplain in Atlanta , Georgia , who is serving a local swim team. A church in Raleigh , North Carolina , has a strong chaplain program and encourages its leaders to take advantage of our continuing education services. We also have a college professor who will soon be the first official chaplain for her university. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. One of our Corporate Chaplains of America clients who owns a storage facility has requested someone to whom he can refer his clients, since people often rent storage space during times of personal upheaval. These are just a few examples of places where chaplains can—and do—serve.



Q: Describe the process of becoming a Community Chaplain.



A: The process is simple, and you can get started today! Community Chaplains training is available online at www.commchap.com. If you prefer, the materials are also available in hard copy form and can be mailed to you. Our training materials will prepare you to minister to people in crisis and approach every encounter as an opportunity to intentionally show God’s love and share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Once you have worked through the materials and received the approval of your pastor, you’re ready to start serving as a commissioned Community Chaplain.



Q: I would like to introduce the principles of caregiving as a church elective or discipleship course. Does Community Chaplains offer any materials for group study?



A: Absolutely. We offer a Community Chaplain group study kit with enough materials to facilitate a ten member small group class. This course offers an overview of caregiving ministry (less intense than the course designed for commissioned chaplains) and is a great way for churches to extend their reach within their communities.



Q: Who should explore the possibility of becoming a Community Chaplain?



A: Anyone who wants to minister to others, who wants to take advantage of their everyday interactions with people as opportunities to build relationships that allow you to be granted permission to share the gospel should train to become a chaplain. If you are already volunteering in your community in some way (i.e. room parent, coach, hospital volunteer, etc), you are perfectly positioned to transform that volunteer role into your ministry role. Our training materials were written by experienced Corporate Chaplains of America, and they contain everything you need to become a qualified Community Chaplain. No special background is necessary. If you want to be salt and light to a lost and dying world, this is the program for you.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Just Another Girl


Title: JUST ANOTHER GIRL
Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Revell
January 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3257-8
Genre: Inspirational/youth

Aster Flynn just wants a life of her own. A middle child, Aster’s older sister, Rose, is working and has a steady boyfriend. Aster’s younger sister, Lily, is mentally challenged, and Aster’s mother and Rose both refuse to be bothered with her. So, even though Lily is fifteen and Aster is seventeen, it is like Lily is Aster’s child, and no one else will even help.

But now a really cute, popular guy has noticed Aster, and Aster wants to date him. Owen has been really cool about Aster’s responsibilities toward Lily, but when Lily ruins their big date, Aster worries that their relationship is through before it even begins.

Is there any hope of Aster having a normal life?

JUST ANOTHER GIRL is a realistically written story about many families today. Aster’s father abandoned the family when Lily was born with problems, and Aster’s mother is stressed by having to work so many hours to provide a living for her family after their father bails and refuses to pay child support. Rose is selfish and only about herself, and Lily has severe challenges that would probably make a saint want to flee. I couldn’t blame Aster to want a chance to get out and have fun and some time away from her high-maintenance sister.

I enjoyed reading JUST ANOTHER GIRL and thought the title was quite appropriate for the story. I wanted Aster to find happiness, and learn how to balance her home life with her quest for independence. I highly recommend JUST ANOTHER GIRL. $9.99. 221 pages.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lost Mission / contest / interview


Title: LOST MISSION
Author: Athol Dickson
Publisher: Howard Books
September 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4165-8347-9
Genre: Inspirational/ suspense


Back in the eighteenth century, a Spanish mission collapses to the ground on top of supernatural evidence of shocking crime. Twelve generations later, the ground is opened up, forgotten ruins are disturbed, and suddenly everyone is caught in an onslaught of resurging hell on earth.

Some of those caught in this catastrophe are:

 A humble shopkeeper who is compelled to leave her tiny village deep in Mexico to preach in America
 A minister wracked with guilt for loving the wrong woman
 An unimaginably wealthy man, blinded to the consequences of his grand plans
 A devoted father and husband driven to a horrible discovery that changes everything

Will the evil that destroyed the Mision de Santa Dolores rise to overwhelm them? Or will they beat back the terrible desires that led to the mission’s good Franciscan founder’s standing in the midst of flames ignited by his enemies and friends alike more than two centuries ago?


From the high Sierra Madre mountains to the harsh Sonoran desert, from the privileged world of millionaire moguls to the impoverished immigrants who serve them, Athol Dickson once again weaves a gripping story of suspense that spans centuries and cultures to explore the abiding possibility of miracles.



***Laura says*** I’ve looked forward to reading LOST MISSION since I heard it was coming out. A long time fan of his first book, River Rising, I figured that this would be an author to watch. I am right. Athol Dickson has an unmatched talent. Written in a more distant omniscient point of view, I didn’t really connect with the characters as well as I would have liked. I also found the jumps in historical time periods to more contemporary times rather disconcerting.

Descriptively, Mr. Dickson is very talented. I could envision the setting, feel the flames, hear the crowd, and see the people. Completely unlike River Rising, LOST MISSION is still a book that took an extraordinary amount of talent to produce and I have to applaud the author’s imagination. Bravo! $14.99. 345 pages.


About the author:
Athol Dickson is an award-winning author of several novels. His Christy Award-winning novel River Rising was name one of the "Top Ten Christian Novel of 2006" by Booklist magazine. He lives in California with his wife. Find out more about Athol and his books by visiting his website.


BUY THE BOOK! https://www.amazon.com/dp/1416583475?tag=sprightly-20



Contest!

Tweet this and be entered to win signed copies of Athol’s award winning books:

Tweet 4 words that describe Athol Dickson’s #LostMission along with this link: http://tr.im/BPD1


Or

Athol Dickson’s redemptive tale #LostMission is a MUST read! Gripping story about mistakes and miracles! http://tr.im/BPD1

(To be clear – to be entered into the contest your tweet must have these 2 elements 1. Athol Dickson’s #LostMission 2. this link: http://tr.im/BPD1).



Blog Tour: http://www.litfusegroup.com/latest/current-blog-tours/94-athol-dicksons-lost-mission


What are you working on now?

I’m putting the finishing touches on a new suspense story filled with magical realism, about a well-respected pastor and his five-year-old adopted son who are separated when an insane man kidnaps the boy and frames the father for his disappearance. After ten years, the boy escapes and sets out in search of his father. At the same time, the father has mistaken another boy for his long lost son. The boy is in a coma. When his biological father wants to take him off of life support, the father risks prison to save the boy’s life by kidnapping him which only serves to reinforce the perception that he was guilty of the first kidnapping. Meanwhile, his real son is out there, trying to get home.

The book explores what it means to love as God loves, and what it costs to accept God’s love. My publisher and I haven’t arrived at a title for this one yet.

What are some of your hobbies, besides writing?

I’ve been a boater most of my life. When I was five or six I drove a relative’s boat on an Oklahoma lake and got hooked. When I was a little older a friend and I took a big piece of styrofoam on a trip up a local creek and about three blocks into a storm drain. That escapade made it into my first novel. My wife and I have owned everything from a tired old ski boat to a fifty foot power yacht. We sold our house and cars and moved aboard that yacht and cruised the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast of the USA for about a year, which was incredible. Right now we have a bay boat in our garage and a thirty-three foot powerboat at a local marina, which we cruise to Catalina Island now and then.

Who are your favorite authors?

I love far too many different authors’ work to narrow it down to just a few favorites. Right now I’m re-reading Dickens’ Great Expectations, which is just an amazing novel and deserves to be read at least three times in a lifetime. Before that it was Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair, which was a difficult read because of its intensity, but remarkable for its characterization. Both of those novels illustrate how you can deal with spiritual themes in a powerful way without becoming didactic. One of the finest Christian fiction novels I’ve read lately is Saints in Limbo, by River Jordan.

What is your favorite genre to read?

I read everything with pretty much equal pleasure. Fantasy, westerns, mystery, suspense, general fiction, the classics . . . you name it. I even read some romance, although mainly the old stuff, like Daphne du Maurier. And Christian fiction, of course.

What sparked the idea for your last story?

My most recent novel, which just came out in September, is Lost Mission. It’s about Lupe de la Garza, a simple shopkeeper in a mountain village in Mexico, who believes God wants her to go to America to preach the gospel. She is guided on her quest by her people’s greatest treasure: an altarpiece painted by an eighteenth century Franciscan friar who founded her village after fleeing the mysterious destruction of his California mission outpost. When Lupe is distracted by desire for a young minister, and when her preaching in a southern California beach town inspires only apathy and laughter, she begins to lose faith in her mission. Then a slumbering evil that destroyed the friar’s Franciscan mission rises up again after two hundred years, and Lupe once more looks to the altarpiece for guidance, only to find the true purpose of her quest in the midst of her single greatest fear.

Lost Mission combines two storylines: the modern life of the remarkable Lupe and those whom she encounters, and a historical tale of the founding and destruction of a Franciscan mission in what is now called southern California. The story involves not only a poor Mexican who comes to America to try to save our souls, but also a modern day Robin Hood who steals from rich Christians to give to the poor, and a grieving billionaire who would rather build a community of monastic isolation exclusively for Christians than face a fallen world. Woven through all of this is an underlying sense of doom, as we begin to see eerie connections between what these people do, and what destroyed the original Franciscan mission in the same location more than two hundred years before. All of it is set in beautiful surroundings, where hummingbirds shoot like little rockets among cascades of crimson bougainvillea and the constant trickle of Spanish fountains.

The idea began to come to me a few years ago when I learned South Korea sends more evangelical missionaries than any other country except the USA, but less than thirty years ago there were only 93 South Korean missionaries in the entire world. I also learned the USA doesn’t rank in the top ten nations in terms of missionaries sent per congregation. I ran across all this information shortly after Gene Robinson was elected by the Episcopalian church as their first openly homosexual bishop and other bishops from Africa and Latin America offered to let Episcopal parishes disassociate themselves from Robinson’s diocese and join theirs.

So we now have a situation where an Asian nation is sending more missionaries per congregation than the USA, and for the first time in history, Protestant churches in America were under the authority of Christians in Africa and Latin America. It’s a remarkable reversal for the church in America. Christians from other continents no longer view us as a source of Christian thought and support, but see us rather as a people in tragic decline with a dire need for the Gospel. And from all indications, they’re right. I decided to write a novel about how this happened.

A little later, I became involved in a discussion with some members of the “seeker friendly” movement, the emerging church movement, and more traditional evangelicals about how to “do church.” The discussion surprised me, not because of what was said, but because of how everybody said it. The brothers did not approach each other in love, but with agendas. It wasn’t really a conversation, where people talk and listen. It was more like everybody gave speeches to each other. Eventually, they started questioning each other’s motives, and then some of them even sunk into name calling. These were supposed to be men of God, but they seemed much more interested in their arguments than in each other. I realized all these Christians who believed they were so different because of their theological positions, were in fact all sinning against each other in exactly the same ways. It seemed like a great way to enter into the underlying reasons for the decline of Christianity in America.

Then one day I visited the Spanish mission at San Juan Capistrano and learned about the history of the missions in California. It seemed to me that many of the same mistakes the modern church is making in the USA had already been made centuries before, by the Franciscans who settled in California. That provided the structure I was looking for, so I started work on Lost Mission.

Who or what inspired you to write?

I’ve always had a strong creative drive. Like many children, when I was young I drew all the time. I just never stopped. My mother was an artist, and she supported it. My parents sent me to private art classes and I took all the available art courses in public school growing up. Then I went to study art at a university. Eventually my interest shifted to architecture, which was still a creative outlet, just one that had a half a chance of supporting me. I became an architect, founded a firm and ran it for about 15 years. I ended up with 20 to 25 employees, which was a trap. It meant I couldn’t do the creative stuff anymore. I had to delegate that, and focus on sales and marketing and running the business. Boring! So one day I was griping about it, and my wife suggested I do something creative in my spare time. I chose writing because I love to read, and because it seemed like spending all day in a profession that involves so much drawing, then going home to paint would be too much. I started my first novel with a pen and paper. My wife bought me my first notebook computer, it had a little 286 processor, if you’re old enough to remember them, and the rest is history, as they say.

What is your favorite verse, and why?

That’s a tough one, but rather than pick one verse, I think I’d have to go with Romans 7:15 through 8:4. That’s the famous place where Paul says, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” And he says, “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me . . . . What a wretched man I am!” That’s exactly how I feel so often as a Christian. I really want to live the kind of life Jesus lived, but I just don’t have it in me. As the bumper sticker says, “Christians aren’t perfect, just saved.” And I love it that Paul goes on to talk about the way to live in spite of weakness when he says, “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!” I may be powerless to be the man I want to be, but I can always call on Jesus to rescue me, and He will. Paul then goes on to what must surely be the greatest promise in the Bible, when he says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Every time I read those words I feel a huge relief.

How can reading your book have an impact on the reader’s life?

I already described the way so many Christians argue about their differences and end up looking just alike in their sins. Lost Mission explores how a good person can end up in that place, so in that sense you might call it an object lesson. The novel also explores the way back. It helps us see that this is an ancient problem, which has confronted every generation. It’s far bigger than you or me, and only one thing can stand against it, which is of course the love of Jesus Christ. But that love is not portrayed in an easy way in Lost Mission. It comes at a cost. Jesus promised us a cross to bear, and we must pick it up. Paradoxically, it’s only as we struggle underneath our cross that we find peace. All these ideas are in Lost Mission.

How did you become a Christian?

I’m not sure. It might have been when I was a boy and “walked the aisle” in church at a revival, but I didn’t live like much of a Christian after that, so I sometimes think it was ten or twelve years later when I was at the end of my rope and turned back to the Lord. Since that time, I’ve seen a slow but steady change in myself, which indicates the Lord has been at work within my life.

How has your book been received from its readers?

Lost Mission has only been out a short while, but so far all the reader reviews on Amazon.com are five stars. I think readers enjoy my novels in part because they’re so hard to define. Nobody writes quite the way I do. Lost Mission is not a classic suspense story, but I guarantee it will keep a reader turning those pages. It’s not a romance, but two of the main characters are driven into impossible circumstances by forbidden love. It’s not fantasy, but many of the events are mysterious and miraculous. And it’s not exactly literature, although the critics so far are saying things like, “Lost Mission is redemptive storytelling at its highest level . . . ” (Jake Chism, FictionAddict.com). I think most readers will find Lost Mission is a story about mistakes and miracles, taken directly from the headlines of our time, and the history of times long past.

Can you tell us a little bit about your personal life?

I’ve been married for twenty-five years to a woman I adore. We don’t have any children, which I sometimes regret, but not so much anymore. We’re members of a little church, only about 300 members, whom we love. I do volunteer work at a local homeless shelter. My wife works very hard to support my writing habit. We go boating two or three times a month, and try to get to the beach every now and then because we live close to the ocean in southern California.

What is your current ring tone?

Just a regular one, I guess. I’m not a geeky kind of guy. My wife is the one who’s into all that. Her phone doesn’t ring; it bongs.

What is your favorite vending machine item?

Coke, I guess. Or Pepsi. Cola, anyway. I know it’s bad for me, but what can I say? It’s a guilty pleasure.

What is your earliest memory?

It’s hard to tell which of the oldest ones came first. One of them has to be the time my mother told me it was okay for me to start going to the bathroom without telling her. What a concept that was! It was like a whole new world of freewill and volition had opened up before me. Ha!

What is your biggest fear?

Losing my wife. I hope I die first. But then I worry that she’ll be sad, so I think maybe she should go first. I’ve often asked the Lord to take us both together. Then I try to lay that fear aside, because the Bible says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7)

How can our readers purchase your book?

The easiest way is online through Amazon.com or BarnesAndNoble.com or ChristianBook.com. Here are the links:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lost+mission+athol+dickson

http://books.barnesandnoble.com/search/results.aspx?WRD=lost+mission+athol+dickson&box=lost%20mission%20athol%20dickson&pos=-1

http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/easy_find?Ntk=keywords&Ntt=athol+dickson+lost+mission&action=Search&N=0&Ne=0&event=ESRCN&nav_search=1&cms=1


Thank you, LitFuse, for providing a copy of Lost Mission for me to review.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Bride of Honor / Always Ready / Killer Cargo

A historical, contemporary, and suspense for your reading pleasure.


Title: A BRIDE OF HONOR
Author: Ruth Axtell Morren
Publisher: Steeple Hill Historical
May 2009
ISBN: 978-0-373-78650-3
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Damian Hathaway is trying to preach a sermon to his parish when he notices a visitor – a very beautiful visitor – in the congregation. Damien is instantly attracted, but he knows he hasn’t got a chance. The lady is obviously wealthy, and a member of the ton. Still, he is stunned when his sister’s fiancĂ© invites the lady and her companions over for tea. Damian’s sister is also horrified. Poor preachers simply do not entertain wealthy members of the ton.

Lindsay Philips has been away from school, but when she goes home for a visit; her family wants to visit Rev. Hathaway’s church. Apparently, one of the members of his church had been a convicted felon and he recently received a royal pardon—and quite the talk of the town. Lindsay hadn’t heard any of this, but she is stunned and finds the story quite romantic.

Damian and Lindsay are instantly attracted, but a relationship is an impossibility. After all, Lindsay is engaged to another wealthy member of the ton. And a friendship between Damian and Lindsay are frowned upon by her parents—and Damian’s parishioners. Torn between two worlds, Damian and Lindsay must decide if their love can bridge the great divide.

A BRIDE OF HONOR is a charming regency style story set in 1812. I enjoyed reading the first book in this series, about Damian’s sister and her criminal boyfriend, and I enjoyed reconnecting with them, and getting to know Damian better in this book. He is a true hero. Lindsay is an adorable heroine, young, but sweet.

Ms. Morren is a very talented author, and I’m privileged to be able to be a reviewer of her wonderful stories. Gifted at bringing historical periods to life, Ms. Morren is a reader that anyone who loves historical fiction should consider. A great read. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $6.99. 393 pages.

****************

Title: ALWAYS READY
Author: Susan Page Davis
Publisher: Heartsong Presents
August 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60260-575-6
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Caddie Lyle’s father was in the Coast Guard, and died while in the service, but Caddie is determined to live up to his legacy. While on a routine delivery mission, Caddie’s ship responses to a rescue call and Caddie ends up with a broken arm and six weeks of unexpected time off. She wonders if she should go home for a visit, or stay in Alaska, in hopes that an attractive Guardsman will ask her out.

Aven Holland is drawn to Caddie, but since he is serving on one ship, and she another, their time together is rare. Her broken arm is a blessing to him as she’ll be on the mainland for six weeks.

A commercial fisherman may end up losing his boat due to Aven writing a citation up on his boat, and his crew has a grudge against Aven. Alaska’s danger and a past secret threaten to tear Caddie and Aven apart. Can they learn to trust God for a future—together?

I’ve always enjoyed Ms. Davis’ military stories, and ALWAYS READY is no different. I enjoyed getting to know caddie and Aven as well as revisiting the branch of the military that I most closely identify with.

ALWAYS READY is a wonderful romance with plenty of military excitement worked in as the reader experiences a little taste of everything the Coast Guard is responsible for. Don’t miss ALWAYS READY. $4.95. 170 pages.

*********

Title: KILLER CARGO
Author: Dana Mentink
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
June 2008
ISBN: 978-0-373-44296-6
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

Maria de Silva routinely transports cargo and people on her small plane. This time she was hired to transport some animal supplies to a remote location. But when the men supposed to pick up the animals and food are late arriving, Maria starts poking around in the back of the plane. There she discovers a three-legged bunny, and a couple unmarked boxes of drugs.

When a car finally arrives, Maria panics and borrows a car from the airport and flees, leaving her plane. The bad guys are after her, shooting bullet holes in her borrowed car. Then she hears from her boss claiming she has stolen a box of drugs, and that when they find her she will pay. Panicking, Maria crashes into a creek and finds herself in the care of a wild animal sanctuary, and owner, Cy Sheridan.

Cy takes Maria in, as if she’s one of the injured animals he cares for. But Maria is afraid that she will be found and Cy and his animals will be hurt or worse. Is it safe to stay, or is there danger lurking in the woods?

KILLER CARGO is an older Love Inspired Suspense that I thought sounded interesting. I enjoyed reading about a female pilot, with an unlikely career, but I did feel that some of the events at the beginning of the book were a bit contrived.

Ty is a realistic heroine, kind and caring, and totally sweet. I enjoyed getting to know him. He obviously has a heart for the hurting and that goes for animals and people. Maria is a hurting individual, and skittish, but that is understandable with the trouble she landed in. Discussion questions are included at the back of the book. Available at www.steeplehill.com. $5.50. 216 pages.



A Bride of Honor and Always Ready were sent to me by the authors for the purpose of review. No money was exchanged. Killer Cargo came from the bookstore of my choice. I paid for this book.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Swiss Courier


World War II fiction is among my favorite historical time periods to read, and The Swiss Courier takes the story on a different twist. I had never heard of the Assination attempt on Hitler's life before, but THE SWISS COURIER is set around that and also it involves Swiss characters, a supposedly "neutral nation. I was hooked from the first chapter and couldn't put this book down!

About the book!
It is August 1944 and the Gestapo is mercilessly rounding up suspected enemies of the Third Reich. When Joseph Engel, a German physicist working on the atomic bomb, finds that he is actually a Jew, adopted by Christian parents, he must flee for his life to neutral Switzerland. Gabi Mueller is a young Swiss-American woman working for the newly formed American Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the CIA) close to Nazi Germany. When she is asked to risk her life to safely "courier" Engel out of Germany, the fate of the world rests in her hands. If she can lead him to safety, she can keep the Germans from developing nuclear capabilities. But in a time of traitors and uncertainty, whom can she trust along the way? This fast-paced, suspenseful novel takes readers along treacherous twists and turns during a fascinating--and deadly--time in history.

About the authors:
Tricia Goyer is the author of several books, including Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights, both past winners of the ACFW's Book of the Year Award for Long Historical Romance. Goyer lives with her family in Montana. To find out more visit her website: www.triciagoyer.com
Mike Yorkey is the author or coauthor of dozens of books, including the bestselling Every Man's Battle series. Married to a Swiss native, Yorkey lived in Switzerland for 18 months. He and his family currently reside in California.To find out more visit his website: www.MikeYorkey.com


the video





Want to promote the Interview with Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey?
Listen HERE! And use this link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cwahm/2009/10/13/The-CWAHM-Network


BUY THE BOOK! http://www.amazon.com/Swiss-Courier-Novel-Tricia-Goyer/dp/0800733363/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255629640&sr=8-1



CONTEST (and this includes CHOCOLATE!)
Pst...pass it on! Help Spread the word about #SwissCourier on Twitter and enter to win a signed copy & Swiss Chocolate!

Just tweet this: The Swiss Courier by @triciagoyer fast paced and suspenseful! Don't miss out! http://tr.im/Ahjs RT #swisscourier and we'll enter you into a drawing for 1 of 5 SIGNED copies of The Swiss Courier!


BLOG TOUR!

http://www.litfusegroup.com/latest/current-blog-tours/95-the-swiss-courier-by-tricia-goyer-and-mike-yorkey


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

When You Lose Someone You Love




Not Sure What to Say to a Grieving Person?

Give the gift of comfort with the 20th anniversary edition of a classic



There is nothing more devastating than the death of a loved one. And whether it comes suddenly and unexpectedly, or at the end of a long and painful illness, every death is experienced anew, a shocking loss that takes your breath away and leaves you disoriented and lost.



Grief is mysterious, misunderstood, and experienced differently from individual to individual. Yet there are certain universal elements to the grieving process. In When You Lose Someone You Love: Comfort for Those Who Grieve (David C Cook, October 2009), author Richard Exley offers a compassionate handbook on grief. The book is written as a series of letters between a pastor and a parishioner he seeks to comfort. As he offers understanding to a man suffering a profound loss, the pastor shows that grief is a healthy process that God can use to mend broken hearts.



When we lose someone we love, we are often overwhelmed by the strong emotions and confusion that come like tidal waves in our lives. Sometimes we hardly recognize ourselves or the world in which we live. Exley’s personal and empathetic epistle communicates the mercy and grace of the heavenly Father to grieving people.



“I have chosen the ‘letter style’ because it affords me the opportunity to speak to you directly and in a very personal manner,” Exley says. “This is not a book about grief; rather, it is comfort extended to those who are even now walking through the valley of the shadow of death.”



This book is the perfect gift for anyone suffering a profound loss. It has been endorsed by many a reader who, having drawn great comfort from its pages, has passed it along to a grief-stricken friend or loved one. Pastors and ministries that regularly interact with grieving people should keep multiple copies of When You Lose Someone You Love on hand.



Revised and updated, this twentieth anniversary edition features prayers and scripture meditation, as well as a new introduction and epilogue. Simple, profound, personal, compassionate … When You Lose Someone You Love tenderly walks the grief-stricken through sorrow to peace and, eventually, renewed joy.



Author Bio: Richard Exley is the author of twenty-nine books and has written both fiction and nonfiction. His articles have appeared in numerous magazines, including Leadership Journal, Charisma, Ministries Today, The Pentecostal Evangel, Advance, Enrichment, and New Man. He has served as senior pastor of churches in Colorado and Oklahoma, hosted several popular television and radio programs, including the nationally syndicated Straight from the Heart, and appeared on the 700 Club, Richard Roberts Live, Action Sixty, the former PTL, The New Jim Bakker Show, and The Harvest Show. Richard and his wife, Brenda Starr, spend their time in a secluded cabin overlooking picturesque Beaver Lake in Northwest Arkansas.



When You Lose Someone You Love by Richard Exley

David C Cook/October 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4347-6480-5/128 pages/softcover/$9.99

www.davidccook.com

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Silver Sword


Title: THE SILVER SWORD
Author: Angela Elwell Hunt
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
2009
ISBN: 978-0-307-45809-4
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction (part contemporary/part historical)

Kathleen O’Connor is spending time at the library researching a topic for her English class (she is an English major) when a middle-aged professor approaches her with a fantastical tale about how she must be related to an ancient Irish Princess named Cahira who shared the same unique physical attributes that Kathleen has. Kathleen is prepared to blow it off, thinking that this was a unique pickup method from an older man, but then she decided what if Cahira’s story is more than just a charming legend.

Kathleen discovers four O’Connor women, all related, all sharing her own unique features, all two hundred years apart. And all four fought in wars masquerading as men. Intrigued, Kathleen picks one of the women, Anika of Prague and decides to write her research paper on Anika.

Anika is seeking safety from her enemies, and seeks refuge in a coat of armor. Retreating to the castle of Lord John of Chlum, she joins the knights who are advancing religious reformation among the churches of Bohemia. Will Anika’s quest bring her love, or cost her more than she’s prepared to pay?

THE SILVER SWORD is book one of Ms. Hunt’s newest series. I admit to picking it up thinking, oh no, another historical Irish story…but from the moment I read the prologue to the moment I finished the epilogue I remained intrigued by this story.

Kathleen is a modern heroine with a passion for her family’s history, though she didn’t have as much time to pursue it with her trying to earn a college degree in English. I bonded instantly with her and was interested in her history. And Anika, though ancient, had a story that readers will not soon forget. A preview of the second book in the series, The Golden Cross, is included at the rear of the book. Originally published in 1997, this is a reissue. $6.99. 403 pages.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Year of Living Like Jesus



Title: THE YEAR OF LIVING LIKE JESUS
Author: Ed Dobson
Publisher: Zondervan
October 2009
ISBN: 978-0-310-24777-7
Genre: Inspirational/Christian living

“Live one year as Jesus lived. Eat as Jesus ate. Pray as Jesus prayed. Observe the Sabbath as Jesus observed it. Attend the Jewish festivals that Jesus attended. Read the Gospels every week.”

Ed Dobson’s radical idea takes Pastor Ed on an adventure that will make many of us rethink the way that Jesus lived. Pastor Ed did make some concessions to How would Jesus have lived… For instance, he rode in airplanes, ate at fast food restaurants, and listened to an iPod—none of which Jesus did. But then he also turned his nose up at shrimp because that is a bottom eater and therefore not kosher, which kind of makes it seem as if he is doing a bit of picking and choosing what is convenient for him.

THE YEAR OF LIVING LIKE JESUS is written in a diary form which makes it easy to follow along with Pastor Ed as he struggles to do what he decided he’d do. What if he gets tired of listening to the Bible every day on his iPod? What if his iPod dies? And his decision takes Dobson on some very unexpected journeys…such as into bars--where he felt free to order beers and drink. He picking up hitchhikers, and entered into some unlikely conversations. Jesus did visit with sinners, but did he participate in their sin with them?

I’m afraid this review is turning pretty harsh, and a lot of people will disagree with me. So I’m just going to say that I know Ed Dobson. I’ve sat in his congregation. He is a very talented preacher who could have the motto “expect the unexpected.” And his book, THE YEAR OF LIVING LIKE JESUS mirrors that. I may not be convinced that if Jesus were alive today he would live like Ed Dobson did, but this is a very well written book, one that will draw the reader in, and may actually teach them a thing or two. $19.99 hardcover. 290 pages.




Evangelical pastor Ed Dobson had a radical idea...

"Live one year as Jesus lived. Eat as Jesus ate. Pray as Jesus prayed. Observe the sabbath as Jesus observed. Attend the Jewish festivals as Jesus attended. Read the Gospels every week."

Dobson's transition from someone who follows Jesus to someone who lives like Jesus takes him into bars, inspires him to pick up hitchhikers, and deepens his understanding of suffering.

Living like Jesus is quite different from what we imagine.

"It may appear from the cover that this is a nice book about growing a beard because Jesus did but be warned- you will quickly discover that Ed's adventure takes him, and us, deep into the heart of grace, mercy and the endless discovery of just what the way of Jesus looks like - which, of course, has very little to do with having a beard."-Rob Bell, Jesus Wants To Save Christians

The Year of Living Like Jesus
By Ed Dobson
Zondervan
ISBN - 0310247772
304 Pages
PUB DATE: October 2009




Ed Dobson, pastor emeritus of Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, serves as an advisory editor for Christianity Today and consulting editor for Leadership. He holds an earned doctorate from the University of Virginia, was named "Pastor of the Year" by Moody Bible Institute, and is author of numerous books, including Prayers and Promises When Facing a Life-Threatening Illness. He moved to the United States in 1964 from Northern Ireland and now lives with his family in Grand Rapids.

Learn more about Ed at http://www.livingjesusly.com/.


This book was sent to me by Zondervan for the purpose of review.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

O2 Breathing Fresh Life / contest / interview



Title: O2: Breathing New Life into Faith
Author: Richard Dahlstrom
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
October 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7369-2241-2
Genre: Inspirational/Christian living

We need oxygen in order to survive. Inhaling and exhaling are both equally important. If we try to inhale without exhaling, or to exhale without inhaling we’ll find ourselves in trouble. Both are equally important.

But, in ministry we have those who are always inhaling by studying, praying, and other things like that. And those that only exhale by service, generosity, and hospitality. But if you try to do one without the other, you are going to become seriously worn down, tired, and wonder if its all worth it. Pastor Dahlstrom maintains that is a reason that many people leave the church. They are too busy inhaling or exhaling and not focusing on both aspects of their spiritual life.

O2 is divided up into four parts:

1. The Case for Breathing
2. The Exhaling Disciplines
3. The Inhaling Disciplines
4. Integation

O2 will help you to discover a balanced spiritual life that will reflect the life of Jesus and keep your faith growing strong.

Written in a conversational manner, Pastor Dahlstrom instills wisdom and balance into our hectic lives by reminding us to breathe… To not just soak in God to the point of become pious or busy to the point of becoming burned out, but to mix both areas well. Several pages of end notes are included.
$13.99. 270 pages.

About the book:

Your physical body needs oxygen in order to survive. Inhale, exhale ... one leads naturally to the other. Inhale too long and you feel as if your lungs will burst. Exhale too long and you get light-headed.



The same rhythm is essential in the life of faith. You inhale life-giving strength from God through things like prayer, study, solitude, and silence. You exhale generosity, hospitality, and service to the poor. If you try to do one without the other, you wont' last very long.



This fresh perspective on the classic disciplines of the faith will empower you to process the oxygen of the Spirit. Discover how you can develop a balanced spirituality that reflects the life of Jesus and keeps your faith growing stronger.



About Richard: Richard Dahlstrom is Senior Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle , WA , in the heart of the city, among university students, young professionals, families, the homeless, and the elderly. He is also a popular teacher in North America and Europe for the Capernwray Missionary Fellowship of Torchbearers. He holds a M.Div. from Talbot Theological Seminary. Find out more about Richard at: http://raincitypastor.blogspot.com/



Link to buy the book: http://www.amazon.com/O2-Breathing-Life-Faith-ConversantLife-com®/dp/0736922148/ref=sprightly-20



Extra’s:

Watch a video about the book: http://www.conversantlife.com/life-with-god/o2-breathing-new-life-into-faith

Read the first chapter: http://www.conversantlife.com/files/resource_downloads/O2.pdf

Study Guide: http://www.conversantlife.com/files/resource_downloads/O2%20Discussion%20Questions.pdf



Contest: The contest for this blog tour is: (Please tweet & facebook this contest – please use the hashtag #O2)



Win a signed copy of 02 for yourself! There are two ways to enter! The winners will be announced 10/26.



Jump over to Pastor Richard’s blog “Pastoral Musings from Rain City ” (http://www.raincitypastor.blogspot.com/ ) and leave a comment between October 5th and October 24th. Just say hi or tell Pastor Richard what you liked about his book, or share with him how you’ve experienced ‘new life’ in your faith!
Tweet this: @raincitypastor Pub. Weekly voted Breathing New Life into Faith as top 10 book in 2008 check it out! http://tr.im/Au8q #02




Blog tour schedule: http://www.litfusegroup.com/latest/current-blog-tours/92-02-breathing-fresh-life-into-faith-by-richard-dahlstrom-blog-tour



Can you tell me about your book? – o2 is a book about moving the stuff that many of us have learned in our heads down through the years, out into our daily living. I address this by showing the need we have for particular practices in our lives, things that will cause our faith to thrive and last for the long haul. In particular, I show how all of us are prone to either activism (“doing” things for God, like service, hospitality, mission trips) or quietism (focusing on things like prayer, Bible reading, and solitude). The reality is that we need both sides of this equation in the same way we need both exhaling and inhaling (hence the title, “Breathing New Life into Faith”). The book shares lots of stories about how I have wrestled with finding this balance. It’s practical, narrative, and a little bit theological.

What are you working on now? – I’m presently in the midst of writing a book called, “Spilling Hope”, which is invites we who follow Christ to be intentional about taking up our calling as, what I call “artisans of hope”, painting the colors of justice, mercy, and intimacy across the canvass of our lives. Learning to be people of hope right now, in the midst of our own fears and messes, is one of the most important issues of our time.

What are some of your hobbies, besides writing? – When given a chance, I’m usually either outside, climbing rocks or mountains, or reading a good book, or cooking and hanging out with my wife, kids, and friends.

Who are your favorite authors? – I’m enjoying NT Wright these days, and have always enjoyed C.S. Lewis, David James Duncan, Annie Lamont, and Annie Dillard.

What is your favorite genre to read? – If I look at the proportions of my library, I’d say non-fiction, but if I look at my heart I’d say, “nothing beats a good story”

What sparked the idea for your last story? – I wrote o2 because the reality is that each and every Sunday people leave church and never return, often because nobody taught them how to develop the habits that are essential to knowing intimacy with God and being involved in God’s purposes. The number of “ex-evangelicals” out there is astonishing, and this book will be helpful, both for them, and for those who are tired of their faith, or are wondering how to make it real, as in, more than a Sunday ritual.

Who or what inspired you to write? – I studied architecture and music composition in college. The fact of the matter is that I just love creating!

What is your favorite verse, and why? In Jeremiah 9:23-27, I’m reminded that the main thing worth pursuing in this life is an intimate relationship with God. When I get weary, confused, or overwhelmed, this verse is my compass, calling me back to what matters. From there, I can get my bearings for the next practical steps I also need to take.


How can reading your book have an impact on the reader’s life? - I’m old enough to see that trends in American Christianity come and go. People rush from “end times” obsessions, to “the gifts of the spirit”, to “short term missions”, to “healing prayer”, to “emergent Christianity”, to “post-modern theology”. I’m here to say that what’s needed is a balanced commitment to the practices of the faith that have served mature saints well for centuries. My hope is that those who read this book will catch the vision to develop these practices in intentional, life-sustaining ways. If they do, I think they’ll be walking with Jesus until the last day, and enjoying the adventure of the journey God provides along the way. That’s what I hope the book accomplishes.

How did you become a Christian? - I was in church, as a kid, and the preacher said some stuff that made me want to know Jesus and follow Him. That was the beginning of the journey.

How has your book been received from its readers? - I’ve gotten very positive feedback, and all the reviews on Amazon.com have been positive. People have expressed gratitude that I’ve been honest with my own faith struggles in the book and that I’ve shared lots of stories from my own life to show how the truths are applied in reality. I’m perhaps most proud of the fact that Publishers Weekly deemed it one of the 10 best Religious Books of 2008.


Can you tell us a little bit about your personal life? – I just celebrated my 30th wedding anniversary, and I have three great kids, aged 25, 23, 19. I pastor Bethany Community Church in Seattle, (www.churchbcc.org) and love travel, as I teach in many parts of the world. I subscribe to Time, Climbing Magazine, and Fast Times, and spend my days off in the winter skiing in the morning, and soaking in the hot tub reading the latest magazines in the afternoon. Our family eats together every Sunday afternoon, and the sound you’d hear most frequently at our table is laughter. Oh, and I tweet (http://twitter.com/raincitypastor)


What is your current ring tone? – retro telephone

What is your favorite vending machine item? – peanut m&m’s

What is your earliest memory? – my dad threw fake vomit on the patio when I was about three. My mom thought I did, thought I was sick, and made me leave the party. I remember crying on my bed until she came back in the room laughing, and told me I could come out.

What is your biggest fear? – I think I fear becoming a ‘hollow religionist’ more than anything else. I don’t want to be a person who perpetuates the forms of the church instead of shepherding a community to thriving, life changing adventure of being the presence of Jesus in the world.


How can our readers purchase your book? - Amazon has it. Lots of Christian bookstores have it. Any bookstore can order it. And if all else fails, write me: coffee.dahlstrom@gmail.com and I’ll get it in your hands.


I have received a copy of this book for review purposes from the publicist. This is the only compensation I'll receive for the review of the book.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Kiss Me Again - free book offer


Enter a comment for a chance to win a copy of this book. Void where prohibited by law.

Title: KISS ME AGAIN
Author: Barbara Wilson
Publisher: Multnomah
September 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60142-158-6
Genre: Inspirational/marriage/relationships

Don’t let your past steal your passion.

Do you have wonder why it seems that sex ends when you are married? Why you can’t experience the same sexual desire after you are married than you did when you were dating? Why you are saying no, when you really want to say yes?

In KISS ME AGAIN, Ms. Wilson shows us how powerful “invisible bonds” from past relationships can cause heartache, disappointment, and distance for couples. If you had sex before marriage with a previous boyfriend (or your husband), a divorce, or been sexual violated for instance, you might have trouble with sex in your marriage.

Ms. Wilson will teach you, through scripture, and with sensitivity, honesty, and hope, to walk step-by-step toward healing, and help you rekindle the closeness and passion with your husband that you really want.

There are questions listed in each chapter, complete with scripture references to look up, and plenty of spaces to write your answers.

KISS ME AGAIN is a timely book, with many marriages struggling due to the sexual revelation the USA has experienced, and thus many people having sex outside of marriage. While written for women, Ms. Wilson also suggested that men might read it too, especially if they wonder why their wives are struggling with sex, or don’t seem to like sex.

Ms. Wilson hopes that you will be able to rediscover desire so you can say Wow! again. $13.99. 210 pages.



Summary

Many married women genuinely want to feel more desire toward their husbands. But while sex before marriage was hard to resist, now resisting seems like all they do. In her new book, Barbara Wilson shows how couples can suffer for years from the “invisible bonds” of previous relationships without even knowing it. Hidden emotions of distrust, shame, and resentment can sabotage even the most loving marriage.



In Kiss Me Again, Wilson :



· Shares her own story of healing and renewed desire

· Helps women forgive themselves and their husbands for past choices

· Shows readers how to break free from “invisible bonds”

· Explains God’s plan for helping a husband and wife to re-bond

· Includes conversation helps for both wives and their husbands

· Helps couples reignite the passion that they thought was lost



With assessment tools, write-in exercises, and gentle guidance, Kiss Me Again offers a biblical plan for rekindling the closeness and passion women long for in marriage. Because no past is beyond the reach of God’s healing touch.



Author Bio:

Barbara Wilson is the author of The Invisible Bond and former director of sexual health education for the Alternatives Pregnancy Resource Center in Sacramento . She speaks nationwide to youth and adults with her message of sexual healing, and she teaches frequently in the women’s ministry at the multi-campus Bayside Church in Northern California . Barbara and her husband, Eric, have been married for twenty-eight years.

to learn more about or purchase these books at RandomHouse.com:

http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781601421586




The book was received from the publicist in exchange for a review. No money was exchanged.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Passion Denied


Title: A PASSION DENIED
Author: Julie Lessman
Publisher: Revell
June 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3213-4
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Can true love survive the betrayal and deceit of a painful past – or will it be shattered like the fairy-tale dreams of a girl in love? (from the back cover)

Elizabeth O’Connor has secretly loved John Brady ever since he lead her to Christ at the tender age of thirteen. But John is more than a decade her senior, and he has this annoying habit of treating Elizabeth like a little sister.

When Elizabeth decides to step out of character, and get her long hair cut into a bob, change her name to Lizzie, and embrace the women’s rights of the Roaring Twenties, she hopes that John will notice that she’s no longer a tender child, but a beautiful young woman. But even though John seems to act a little attracted to her, he still insists on keeping Lizzie at arm’s length.

But then Lizzie discovers that something in John’s past won’t allow him to love…will the shocking secrets cause her to give up her quest, or is it possible for them to find happiness?

A PASSION DENIED is the first book I’ve read by talented author, Ms. Lessman, though this is her third book in The Daughters of Boston series. A PASSION DENIED easily stands alone, and I could see even in the first chapter where Ms. Lessman came up with the title.

The Roaring Twenties is a time period I have an interest in learning about, so I was interested in reading this story. Ms. Lessman has a talent in bringing this era to life, so I could actually feel the press of the crowds as I strolled through the city in the pages of this book. Ms. Lessman has a tag line “Not your mother’s romance novel.” and I could also see where this was true. I was a bit shocked at first by Lizzie’s bold behavior, but I quickly grew to care for the characters.

A PASSION DENIED is a very long book – almost five hundred pages, and at first it’s size put me off. But as I got into the story, the size of the book ceased to matter, I just noticed the story. Don’t miss this historical romance. A preview of the first book of Ms. Lessman’s first book in a new series (coming in the summer of 2010) is included at the end of the book. $13.99. 473 pages.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Potluck Club Cookbook


Title: THE POTLUCK CLUB COOKBOOK
Authors: Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson
Publisher: Revell
2009
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3349-0
Genre: Inspirational/cookbook

If you’ve read any of the Potluck Club series, you know they are filled with fun, friends, and lots of food. Recipes were included in each of the books, but now, for the first time, the authors have composed a cookbook with all their favorite recipes – and maybe a “just for fun” one thrown in now and then.

Potlucks are also popular because you get to try a lot of different foods, and if they are homemade, even better. This cookbook includes salads to casseroles to slow-cooker delights, and even deserts. There are some low calorie recipes included too.

Some of the recipes include:

Turkey Chili
Oven Barbequed Chicken
Pasta Pizza Pie
Corn Pudding Au Gratin

I am trying one of the recipes (Porcupine meatballs) out for my family today, and am looking forward to trying many more in the future. The recipes are easy, and contain, for the most part, ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.

There is an interview with the authors included at the end of the book, many potluck tidbits, and other information included which also makes this a fun cookbook to read. If you buy one cookbook this year, make it THE POTLUCK CLUB COOKBOOK. It is sure to have many of your future favorites. $14.99. 181 pages.


this book was received from A Romance Review for purpose of review.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Last Word


Title: THE LAST WORD
Author: Kathy Herman
Publisher: David C. Cook
October 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6785-1
Genre: Inspirational/suspense

A Family Crisis…
A Murderer on the Loose…
And Heart-pounding Suspense… (from the back cover)

Vanessa Jessup didn’t expect to get pregnant in her sophomore year of college. She’s scared to tell her parents and her boyfriend, an almost forty year old professor insists that she has an abortion or they are through. When Vanessa decides to keep the baby, the professor disappears – he doesn’t bother to report to work and vanishes.

Brill Jessup is a police chief, and she is not expecting to have her very pregnant daughter come home for summer break. In the midst of this crisis, one of the police officers under Brill is stabbed in the station, and the suspect says that he will be coming after Brill next. Now, two officers are dead, the murderer is on the loose, and a deadbeat dad is on the run.

The killer seems to be everywhere and nowhere. How can a police chief—and mother—do her job with her life on the line?

THE LAST WORD is the second book in the Sophie Trace Trilogy series, but it easily stands alone. I didn’t have the luxury of reading the first book in the series The Real Enemy, though I think I am going to look for it, because I want to see what happened beforehand.

Brill and Vanessa are both very realistic characters and I enjoyed getting to know them. Ms. Herman is a very talented author, and she had me in her grip from page one. I couldn’t put this book down. It’s a good thing I picked it up on a quiet Saturday with plenty of time to read! Nothing would have gotten done otherwise.

I especially enjoy the Afterwords section at the back of the book where there is a letter from the author and discussion questions. If you enjoy Suspense, you will want to read THE LAST WORD. This book will keep your heart pounding until the final page is turned. $14.99. 390 pages.


The Last Word

In her second installment of the Sophie Trace Trilogy, Kathy Herman rolls

Henderson, Kingsbury, and Blackstock into one with both suspense and spirituality



Click here to watch the video trailer for The Last Word!



Heart-pounding suspense meets heart-challenging truth as best-selling author Kathy Herman returns to Sophie Trace in her new page-turner, The Last Word (David C Cook, October 2009). Based on Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the gentile,” Herman’s second installment in the Sophie Trace series triumphantly demonstrates God’s miraculous ability to heal the broken.



This theme comes to life in Vanessa Jessup, a twenty-year-old college student who becomes pregnant while having a secret love affair with her psychology professor and has to make a choice: either end the pregnancy or end the relationship. The biblical truths she learned growing up prompt her to choose life and to go home to the refuge of her parents’ counsel and a right relationship with God.



When Vanessa arrives home, her mother, Sophie Trace Police Chief Brill Jessup, is stunned to see that she’s pregnant—and by one of her professors. While Brill is glad her middle daughter rejected the father’s abortion ultimatum, she’s also hurt that Vanessa ignored her upbringing and angry that the professor has disappeared without as much as a nickel of child support.



But that’s not all Brill’s got on her plate. One of her detectives has been killed, and the attacker has threatened to come for her next. When a second cop is wounded, public criticism mounts as Brill attempts to stay alive long enough to catch the perp. And she’s trying to find the deadbeat dad as Vanessa struggles to make decisions about her future.



In spite of Brill’s best efforts to stay safe, the murderer finally kidnaps and threatens to kill her and then commit suicide. As her life hangs in the balance, Brill becomes concerned that her attacker is about to die and is not saved and refuses to be silenced in her witness of God’s love for him. In a show of grace under pressure and fierce determination, Brill will manage to have the last word, even if it kills her.



Author Bio: Best-selling suspense novelist Kathy Herman has written fifteen novels, including CBA bestsellers The Real Enemy, Tested by Fire and All Things Hidden, since retiring from her family’s Christian bookstore business. Kathy and her husband, Paul, have three grown children and five grandchildren and live in Tyler, Texas.



The Last Word Book 2: Sophie Trace Trilogy by Kathy Herman

David C Cook/October 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4347-6785-1/390 pages/softcover/$14.99

www.davidccook.com www.kathyherman.com


I have received this book from The B&B Media Group in exchange for review. No money was exchanged.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Inheritance


Title: THE INHERITANCE
Author: Tamera Alexander
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
March 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59554-632-6
Genre: Inspirational/historical

McKenna Ashford is hoping for a new beginning. Her younger brother, Robert, has gotten into all kinds of trouble back home, and now, McKenna is hoping that they can begin again in Colorado. She accepts her cousin’s invitation to come west, and with all her leather saddle making equipment in tow, McKenna and Robert begin the long trip west.

But their arrival in Copper Creek isn’t exactly what McKenna hoped. Almost run down by a convict, McKenna soon finds herself stitching a man in the absence of a doctor. And when she finally makes it to her cousins ranch, she discovers an unpleasant shock.

U.S. Marshal Wyatt Caradon is dedicated to capturing criminals. When he happens to meet McKenna, he finds himself running into the past he wanted to forget—and a woman who makes him dream of a future.

THE INHERITANCE is a strong historical story about starting over. I couldn’t help but feel for McKenna as she struggled with feelings of inadequacy after possibly failing her younger brother, and then as she faces having to raise another child, she doesn’t feel up to the task. Wyatt is a dear hero, who, despite having spent years on the trail chasing down “bad guys”, is still a sweetheart, willing to go above and beyond the call of duty. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Wyatt.

Rich in description, Ms. Alexander can make you hear the sound of footfalls on the boardwalk, smell the horses, and see the scenery. You will live out THE INHERITANCE right along with the characters. An author’s note (which is heart-rending) and discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $14.99. 374 pages.


I received this book from the author for purpose of review.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Turning the Paige


Title: TURNING THE PAIGE
Author: Laura Jensen Walker
Publisher: Zondervan
March 2009
ISBN: 978-0-310-27698-2
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Paige Kelley has been married, and divorced (compliments of her mother, who sabotaged her marriage) and now she is thirty-five, with no prospects. Her mother is ailing, and extremely high-maintenance, and Paige’s friends accuse her of being tied to her mother’s apron strings.

Paige longs for marriage, motherhood, and the white picket fence, and her mother helpfully reminds her she’s not getting any younger, conveniently forgetting that Paige had been married…

As Paige’s friends continue to urge her to break free, Paige begins to consider it. But who would take care of her mother? And how would she break free anyway?

TURNING THE PAIGE is the second book in The Getaway Girls Novel series, but it easily stands alone. I enjoyed reconnecting with the ladies in this adventurous book club, and soaking in their open friendship vicariously.

Paige is a realistic heroine, and I have to admire her for caring for her mother the way she does. I have a maiden aunt who did much the same thing as Paige, giving up all hopes and dreams for the sake of her mother, so in a way I could relate. I was always sorry my aunt never did break free. And while I sympathized for the mother, she did need to ease up on Paige somewhat and develop a life of her own.

I do love how TURNING THE PAIGE ended. Truly delicious and quite satisfying. A preview of Ms. Walker’s next book Becca by the Book is included at the end of TURNING THE PAIGE. Pick up your copy at your favorite bookseller today. $14.99. 305 pages.



I bought this book myself. The money that was exchanged went to the bookseller that I bought it from. I was not reimbursed in any form for this review.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Sound Of Sleigh Bells - free book offer


Leave a copy to be entered into a drawing to win a copy of this book. Void where prohibited by law.

Title: THE SOUND OF SLEIGH BELLS
Author: Cindy Woodsmall
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
October 2009
ISBN: 978-0-307-44653-4
Genre: Inspirational/Amish

Beth Hertzler is unable to let go of a past tragedy. Worse yet, she blames herself for it, and to punish herself she vows never to participate in an single events for the Amish community. She’s wearing all black, like a widow, and has even refused to go on buying trips for her business, a store that services both Englischers and Amish.

When Beth’s family starts pushing, she agrees to plan a business trip, and has brochures made. While one the trip, she discovers a quaint little store with a carving hidden it it – a carving that calls to Beth. She wants to find the carver and help him sell his goods, but unfortunately, her bishop refuses to even consider letting her sell them since the Bible says no graven images. When Beth discovers that the carvings are made by an Amish man, she hopes her bishop will change his mind.

Beth’s aunt, Lizzie, goes on the trip to meet with the Amish carver, Jonah, hoping to see what has her niece so captivated. When she discovers that the carver is a young, handsome, single Amish man, Lizzie decides to encourage Beth and Jonah to form a penpal relationship, hoping they will fall in love. But is Beth even capable of letting go of the past?

THE SOUND OF SLEIGH BELLS is a wonderfully written Christmas story with a different twist. Beth is a realistic heroine, but stubborn beyond belief. She refuses to share what has bothered her and caused her to withdraw to the point where her family is concerned she might take her life. Jonah has also suffered a tragedy, but unlike Beth, he has mostly let it go. There is one area h he’s holding on to. Kind and gentle, he is the stuff dreams are made of.

I loved reading this Amish book. I literally couldn’t put it down. Cindy’s voice is different than other Amish authors, but that doesn’t make the stories any less wonderful. Beth and Jonah are both characters that are real, and will help warm your heart this holiday season. This is one Christmas-themed story you don’t want to miss. $14.99 hardcover. 194 pages.



Summary:

Beth Hertzler works alongside her beloved Aunt Lizzy in their dry goods store, and serving as contact of sorts between Amish craftsmen and Englischers who want to sell the Plain people’s wares. But remorse and loneliness still echo in her heart everyday as she still wears the dark garb, indicating mourning of her fiancĂ©. When she discovers a large, intricately carved scene of Amish children playing in the snow, something deep inside Beth’s soul responds and she wants to help the unknown artist find homes for his work–including Lizzy’s dry goods store. But she doesn’t know if her bishop will approve of the gorgeous carving or deem it idolatry.

Lizzy sees the changes in her niece when Beth shows her the woodworking, and after Lizzy hunts down Jonah, the artist, she is all the more determined that Beth meets this man with the hands that create healing art. But it’s not that simple–will Lizzy’s elaborate plan to reintroduce her niece to love work? Will Jonah be able to offer Beth the sleigh ride she’s always dreamed of and a second chance at real love–or just more heartbreak?


Author Bio:

Cindy Woodsmall is the author of When the Heart Cries, When the Morning Comes, and The New York Times Best-Seller When the Soul Mends. Her ability to authentically capture the heart of her characters comes from her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families. A mother of three sons and two daughters-in-law, Cindy lives in Georgia with her husband of thirty-one years.


I received this book from the publicist for the purpose of this review. No money was exchanged.

Monday, October 12, 2009

When God Turns Off the Lights - and contest





Title: WHEN GOD TURNED OFF THE LIGHTS
Author: Cecil Murphey
Publisher: Regal
August 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8307-5155-6
Genre: Christian Life

WHERE DID GOD GO?

Sometimes we face periods in our life when the lights go out. When we pray, and our prayers don’t seem to rise beyond the ceiling. What are we supposed to do during those periods when God seems to disappear?

Cecil Murphey knows this time period well. In fact, as he words it, he “fumbled in the darkness for over a year, praying, yet not convinced that God was listening.”

During such periods of spiritual blackout, it seems like God has put us on “hold” and we sit around and wait and wait for Him to get back to us. But we don’t want to wait—we want it NOW.

Cecil Murphey says he has traveled this route many times during his years in the ministry, with each time being more difficult than the last.

He maintains that we have three choices when the lights go out.

1. we can give up
2. we can examine ourselves for sin or failure
3. we can accept that God has hidden His face from us for a purpose.

The first time I remembered the lights going out for me is when I was a teenager. I remember telling my mom that it didn’t feel like my prayers were going beyond the ceiling. My mother looked at me and said “Well, then, pray until they go through.” And I got back down on my knees and prayed until it seemed they did go through to God’s hearing. When the lights have gone out for me on subsequent times, I followed my mom’s advice, and kept praying until I could sense God hearing.

In WHEN GOD TURNED OFF THE LIGHTS, Cecil Murphey suggests that when God turns off the lights the next time, we could spend the time pondering the mysteries of God’s character, confident that He will turn on the lights once again. $14.99. 222 pages.




What to Do When the Lights Go Out

by Cec Murphey

If you sincerely desire to follow Jesus Christ, life won't always be easy. Many times the Bible promises victory, and you may need to remind yourself that there can be no victory without struggling and overcoming obstacles.

In my book, I used the image of God turning out the lights because that was how I perceived the situation. I felt as if I walked in darkness for 18 months. We all interact differently with God, and my experience won't be the same as yours. Even so, most serious Christians have times when God seems to turn away or stops listening. And we feel alone.

Perhaps it's like the time the Israelites cried out to God for many years because of the Egyptian oppression. "God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise...and knew it was time to act" (Exodus 2:24 NLT). God hadn't forgotten, of course, but from their perspective, that's how it must have seemed. It may seem like that to you if you're going through your own form of darkness.

Here are a few suggestions to help you:

1. Ask God this simple question: "Have I knocked out the lights by my failures? Have I sinned against you? After you ask the question, listen. Give God the opportunity to speak to you.

2. Don't see this as divine punishment (unless God shows you it is), but consider the silence an act of divine love to move you forward. This is God's method to teach you and stretch you.

3. Avoid asking why. You don't need reasons and explanations--and you probably won't get them anyway. Instead, remind yourself that this temporary darkness is to prepare you for greater light.

4. Say as little as possible to your friends. Most friends will want to "fix" you or heal you and they can't. They may offer advice (often not helpful) or make you feel worse ("Are you sure everything is right between you and God?").

5. Stay with the "means of grace." That is, don't neglect worship with other believers even if you feel empty. Read your Bible even if you can't find anything meaningful.

I chose to read Lamentations and Psalms (several times, especially Lamentations) because they expressed some of the pain and despair I felt.

6. If you don't have a daily prayer time, start one. Perhaps something as short as three minutes--and do it daily. Talk honestly to God. It's all right to get angry. (Read the Psalms if you're hesitant.)

7. Remind yourself, "I am in God's hands. This is where I belong and I'll stay in the blackout until I'm ready to move forward."

8. Pray these words daily: "But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults" (Psalm 19:12 TNIV). Some versions say "secret sins." These are failures and sins of which you may not yet be aware. One of the purposes of your darkness may be to bring those hidden problems to light.

9. Ask God, "What do you want me to learn from this experience?" You may not get an answer, but it's still a good question. Continue to ask--even after the lights go back on again. If you're open, you will learn more about yourself and also about God.

10. As you receive "light" about yourself while walking in darkness, remind yourself, God has always known and still loves me.






When God Turned Off the Lights

Author Cec Murphey



About the Author: Award-winning writer Cecil Murphey is the author or co-author of more than 100 books, including the "New York Times" bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson). He's also the author of When Someone You Love Has Cancer and Christmas Miracles, both 2009 releases. Murphey's books have sold millions and have brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world.




Is it possible that God would use a time of spiritual loneliness and isolation in our life as an answer to our prayer for "something more?" That's what happened with best-selling author Cecil Murphey. In When God Turned Off the Lights (Regal, September 2009), he openly shares from his journey that seemed to be stalled in darkness.

Murphey decided to write about his months of seeking God in the darkness because he suspected his situation wasn't unique. "If this happened to me, a rather ordinary believer, surely there are others out there who have wept in the isolated blackness of night and wondered if they would ever see God's smile again."

Murphey could have handled this topic as a theologian and given pages of heavy, hard-to-read advice, but he chose to write from his heart and expose it for the readers to see. He talks honestly and shares his skepticism and frustration. He asks hard questions. And he lays out the steps of healing that brought him back to the light.

When God Turned Off the Lights is a book for those of us who ask, "What's wrong with me? Why are others living in the sunlight while nothing but dark clouds and darkness envelop me?" Readers will learn:
Why God turns off the lights
Why we have to have dark nights
Why asking "why" isn't the right question
What's worse than going through the darkness
How to feel worthwhile and accepted by God



Each chapter of When God Turned Off the Lights ends with an inspirational personal quote from Cec. Here's a sampling:



Although it may seem as if God is asleep when we go through deep darkness, could it be that God is most watchful in the moments of our despair?



Could it be that moving from why to what might take us one more step closer to the light?



Our task is to hang on. We wait until God takes us off hold and deals directly with us again.



God's provision is based on unconditional love - not on my faithfulness.



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I received the book from the publicist for review purposes. No money was exchanged for this review.