Sunday, September 30, 2012

Q & A with Charles Drew regarding Body Broken

Q&A with Charles Drew regarding Body Broken
This may be reprinted with permission, credit given to Charles Drew, Body Broken




Body Broken
Can Republicans and Democrats
Sit in the Same Pew?

by Charles D. Drew
New Growth Press ~ February 2012
ISBN 978-1-936768-30-1/192 pages/$15.99
www.newgrowthpress.com
bodybrokenbook.blogspot.com



Why did you write Body Broken?

To help Christians stay united without ignoring their social and political responsibility. Neither may Christians withdraw from social and political engagement (Jesus is the Lord of everything, including political life) nor may they permit politics to divide them from each other (Ephesians 2 tells us that Christ had ‘broken down the dividing wall of hostility between them”). Republicans and Democrats ought to be able to worship together in the same church

What is new about this new revised edition?

There are two changes. First, it is updated with reference to developments since 2000—the economic crisis, the election of Barack Obama, etc. Second, the book is more sharply focused on the necessity and possibility of Christian harmony in the midst of Christian social and political engagement. The first book was a bit more generic, focusing on Christian political responsibility in general. The second asks, “How can Christians ‘maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’ (Ephesians 4) while also being politically and socially engaged.

Why not make peace in the church by withdrawing from all political discussion and involvement?

I can think of two reasons. First, Jesus commands us to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” We are his hands, voice, and feet, called to make him tangible in this world. We cannot be these things if we withdraw from political and social life. Second, we misrepresent Jesus if we withdraw from public life. Jesus is much more than “my personal savior.” He is “Lord of lords”—who has been given authority over all things—over every institution, every way of thinking, and every relationship. He is not about to withdraw from the world he died to renew. Neither can Christians.
Why is it so important for the church to be united despite its political differences?

Because Jesus wants us to.

He prays for it in John 17 and, according to Ephesians 2, he died to unite Jews and Gentiles (the most deeply hostile social groups in the ancient world), creating in them “one new man. ” If, therefore, Christians cannot find a way to live together in harmony (even when they disagree politically), they deny the power both of Jesus’ prayers and his cross. The credibility of the Christian story is at stake. Observation: One of the reasons some churches do not blow up is that they have already divided along political lines (evangelical black churches tend to fill up with Democrats, evangelical white churches tend to fill up with Republicans)

Why do people disagree so heatedly on political issues?

Sometimes there is something deep and legitimate at stake (say, slavery in the 19th century). But more times than not the chief reason is idolatry: We have come to depend too much on someone or something other than God. That someone or something is often threatened by people who oppose us politically—and so we get angry.
Some examples of idols

Our vision for America (We desperately need America to “look” a certain way) Our strategy for realizing that vision [The ‘right’ candidate; the ‘right’ platform; the ‘right’ legislation…] Our ability to fix things by our plan. Our need to win and to stay on top. Often a strong principled beginning degenerates into this. (the most common idol is myself!) Our right to privacy—which can show up on the Left (sex life) as well as the Right (taxes).

How do Christians reduce political heat while staying involved?

There is a lot to say here. Much of the book is dedicated to it. Here are some answers.
a) Recognize and repent of political idolatry
b) Make prayer our most significant political strategy
Prayer tends to calm the heart—steering us away from the fear that often drives us to demonize the opposition and to use underhanded means
Prayer tends to humble us, so that we are less apt to have to “win” at all costs.
Prayer for the opposition also tends to increase love for the opposition.
Prayer is something anybody can do—however disenfranchised.—thus reducing the angry frustration that arises when we feel marginalized.
c) Be more realistic about the change that power politics can bring.
We sometimes find ourselves hating the candidates we once loved—because our former enthusiasm was unrealistic. (Consider the swing toward the right in 2010 following the enthusiastic endorsement in 2008 of a democratic administration)
Do you have any other thoughts on how to reduce political heat in the church?

a) Trust God for results: Our ‘job’ is to be faithful. God’s ‘job’ is to change the world.
b) Recognize that character is more important than political success.
To follow Jesus in God-honoring service to people—even those whose politics we despise—is something anyone can do and it gives those of us with limited power (and that is most of us) an alternative to lashing out in anger and frustration.
Jesus does not call us to “win”. He calls us, whatever else we do, to follow him in godly self-denial:
c) Don’t let yourself get stuck in the “power politics rut”—thinking that forcing change through
politics is the only (or even the best) way to bring about change.
Remember that the sword that Jesus wields when he appears to John in Revelation 1 comes out of his mouth—not from his arm. He rules by persuasion, not by force.
Trying to force change can often be frustrating (it often produces back-lash that makes things even worse)]. It also tends to increase polarization and anger—making the whole political climate (not to mention one’s heart) unhealthy—a far cry from “love your neighbor as yourself”.
What are some of the ways to bring change that do not depend on power politics?

Talking up change in non-politicized settings (say, in church forums in non-election years, or one on one over coffee) Living an exemplary public life Using the arts for change Doing what you can—even if it seems small—trusting God (rather than your plan) for the results Looking for common ground together with the “opposition”
There are lots of non-political ways to be pro-life, for example.

Should we legislate morality?

Everybody legislates morality: laws are the instrument we use to enforce or promote what we value—and values are an expression of morality. The important and interesting question is a different one: “Which morality should be legislated and why?”

Which morals should we seek to enforce by law?

Sorting this question out is difficult and we need to be patient with each other as we seek to do so. Some of the following distinctions can be helpful:
The distinction between theocracy and influence.
The distinction between moral principle and political strategy
The distinction between the calling of the church and the callings of individual Christians.
What do you do when you deeply disagree with a fellow Christian about politics?
Think biblically about what is going on, about what is at stake:
The disagreement is a chance for you to grow in love and faith.
Jesus is praying for unity in the church Jesus died to make you one with this person.
Your relationship with this person will outlast the end of every political strategy and disagreement.
Pray for yourself and this fellow Christian
Talk honestly and openly, looking for common ground in hopes that you can do something together
Sit together in the same pew.
Should there be an American flag displayed in a church sanctuary? If so, where?

This is a good question—it makes us think hard about the relative importance of our allegiance to Jesus Christ and our allegiance to America. We should be patient with each other as we try to sort it out.
Jesus says, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s’—which suggests that we obey Jesus by honoring our country. Displaying an American flag in a worship space in the United States might for this reason make sense.
Jesus also says, “Give to God’s what is God’s”—which demands that our allegiance to our country must never be absolute. Displaying an American flag in such a way as to suggest that God and America speak with one voice would for this reason be problematic.
Should the church support foreign wars, encouraging its members to fight in them?

This is another good question aimed at pressing us to sort out our dual allegiance to God and to our country. Once again we need to be patient with one another as we try to sort it out, guarding each other’s consciences in areas where the Bible is not explicit.
Some (pacifists) will say, “Never. For the state to ask me to use force against another human being is for the state to step beyond its proper limits. Jesus says to “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5).
Others (positivists) will say, “Of course. The state is put in place by God and we obey God, therefore, by exercising loyalty to the state, even if it means putting ourselves in harms way” (see Romans 13)
Still others (normativists) will say, “It depends on the war (is it a just war—a necessity brought about by a great evil that must be resisted) and upon what particular deeds I am asked to perform (What happens if my commander orders me to shoot or maltreat prisoners of war?).

__________________________________________________________________________________

Author Bio: Charles D. Drew received his education at Harvard (BA in English) and Westminster Seminary(M. Div.). Hehas pastored for thirty years in Virginia, Long Island and New York, all in university settings. He presently serves as the senior minister of Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, which he founded in 2000 near Columbia University. Drew speaks frequently to universities and churches and is also the author of A Public Faith: Bringing Personal Faith to Public Issues, An Ancient Love Song: Finding Christ in the Old Testament and A Journey Worth Taking: Finding Your Purpose in This World.He and his wife Jean, a science teacher at the Brearly School in Manhattan, have two married children and two grandchildren. Sailing and music are two of Charles’ great loves.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Experience the Gift of Friendship with Jesus

Experience the Gift of Friendship with Jesus
Wally Armstrong encourages readers to discover a dynamic relationship with the Savior


Seattle: Although professional golfer Wally Armstrong had pursued a relationship with Jesus for over 35 years, he always sensed that there was something missing. As Armstrong puts it, there's a big difference between believing something is true and experiencing something as real. In Practicing the Presence of Jesus: Experience the Gift of His Friendship (Summerside Press, October 2012, ISBN 978-1-60936-702-2, $12.99), Armstrong shares his personal journey of discovering Jesus as a real companion and true friend. Not surprisingly, a major event along the path happened on the golf course.

In the spring of 2004, at the Masters tournament in Augusta he saw something that would open his eyes to seeing Jesus in a new way. That day on the golf course, Armstrong and a friend saw a crowd gathering around a fellow golfer and another man. When Armstrong asked who the other man was, his friend answered, “oh, that’s Jesus.” Although it was actually only actor Jim Caviezel (who played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ), the experience stuck with him. What would Jesus look like if he were on earth today? How would he interact with those around him? In that moment Armstrong was able to focus on a reality he hadn’t grasped before. Armstrong writes, “that day, ‘Jesus’ looked like one of us, and that was exactly the point.” He realized Jesus offered him the same gift of friendship that he shared with his disciples two thousand years ago.

In the months leading up to the Masters, Armstrong had been motivated by a deep spiritual hunger to get a firm grip on who Jesus is today and how to relate to him. Armstrong brought the same performance-driven mentality from the game of golf to his faith walk—working as hard as he could to gain Jesus’s approval. He had begun the process of searching out what it meant to not only accept Jesus as Savior, but as friend. His search led him to a dusty old book first published in London almost a century ago. This book made a profound impact on him and provided the basis for the “chair experiment” that Armstrong details in Practicing the Presence of Jesus.

Armstrong shows readers how to discover the same daily, personal relationship with Jesus that he has by doing the same experiment that he did–using, of all things, an empty chair. Envisioning Jesus as an active part of our daily life allows us to better experience him up close and personal, as a companion and friend rather than keeping him at arm’s length as a royal judge. He also outlines three daily practices to better experience the presence of Jesus—meet, walk, and share.

“Receiving Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior is the most important event in any and every life. It is the centerpiece of the Christian faith,” says Armstrong. “Yet there’s an overlooked gift that was powerfully exercised by the early followers of Jesus that has been laid aside by modern Christianity. That gift is receiving the offer from Jesus to become his friend, and that’s what this book is all about.”

“Our goal for each day is to step out of the boat like Peter did. We have the same opportunity they did to walk toward Jesus, growing every minute closer to his side. Except instead of walking toward him on the water, we can start sitting beside him in a chair.”

Advance Praise

“We all hunger for connection, for friendship, and for more in this life. Wally Armstrong has written a powerful book that will help you find what your heart longs for most.”
~ Kevin G. Harney, Pastor and Author of Reckless Faith

“Wally’s transparency and quest regarding his desire to experience Jesus’ presence in everyday life is something we can all identify with. This book will inspire you to know Jesus not just as a Savior but as a close friend and companion.”
~ Craig Altman, Pastor, Grace Family Church

“Speaking as a pastor for over thirty years, I can testify how easy it is to be more like Martha (busy serving in Jesus’ name) and not enough like Mary (experiencing Jesus himself). After hearing and reading Wally’s story and testing out the “chair experiment” on myself and others, I can confirm that practicing the presence reawakened my spirit, soul, and body to his reality and friendship.”
~ Matthew Nail, Pastor, The Church at Quail Creek

“This book brings into focus an important but often neglected aspect of our Christian faith—our personal relationship with God through his Son Jesus. With a refreshingly new look at that relationship, Wally helps us ‘see God’ and, in doing so, assists us in deepening our faith and experiencing Jesus in a remarkable new way.”
~ Dr. Rick Alexander, Physician



About the Author

Wally Armstrong is a professional golfer, teacher and dynamic life coach who has competed in over 300 PGA Tour events, including the British Open, the US Open, and the Masters, and was awarded a lifetime membership in the Tour. In his first Masters appearance, Wally finished in fifth place, setting a rookie record for the lowest tournament score of eight under par.

As a golf instructor and clinician, Armstrong has taught golf all over the world and has produced more than twenty golf instructional videos and DVDs covering every area of the golf game.

He is the author of seven books, including the bestselling In His Grip (with Jim Sheard and Billy Graham) and The Mulligan (with Ken Blanchard). He resides in Maitland, Florida, and has been married to his wife, Debbie, for forty-one years. Together, they have three children and seven grandchildren.

Armstrong invites readers to visit his website, www.oldprobooks.com, for more insights about the wonderful opportunity each of us has to know Jesus as the real person that he is.

Friday, September 28, 2012

God, Girls, and Guys


Title: GOD, GIRLS, AND GUYS
Authors: Robin Marsh and Lauren Nelson
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
August 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7369-4523-3
Genre: nonfiction/young adult/general

What are teen boys thinking?
When is it okay to kiss a guy?
What does God say about dating?
How far is too far?

Most teen girls (Christian ones, at least) wonder about these topics and many others. Authors Robin Marsh and Lauren Nelson have lived through the teen years and remember how great they can be—and also how confusing. It’s a time for excitement, drama, and guys.

GOD, GIRLS, AND GUYS invites you to check out God’s truths about your physical body, sexual attraction, love, and relationships. It includes true stories, personal insights, and biblical perspectives over topics such as:

Ø      God loves you and wants to be involved with you 24/7
Ø      You were designed for relationships—including with boys
Ø      Guys think differently about sex than girls do
Ø      What works and doesn’t work when it comes to dating
Ø      How to avoid some love dramas and heartache

If you are single, in a relationship, or want to be, then GOD, GIRLS, AND GUYS is a book that you will want to read. It’s a book I wish I’d have had as a teenager when I struggled through relationships, and trying to understand guys. And it’s a book I wish I could give to other teen girls and make them read it when I see them crying beside the pool when the guy they like has a girlfriend—and then they go all out to steal said guy away from the girlfriend.

Discussion questions are included at the end of each chapter, so you’ll want a notebook and pen to write your answers, unless you want to write in the book. Highly recommend this book to teen girls. I’m giving my copy to my sixteen year old.  $10.99. 176 pages.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ricochet


Title: RICOCHET
Author: Christy Barritt
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
September 2012
ISBN: 978-0-373-44507-3
Genre: Romantic suspense

Molly Hamilton has been hired as a nurse for the summer at the camp where she spent her summers. She has fond memories of camp, and is looking forward to spending time there again. But on her way out to the camp, she hits a speed bump – one that turns out to be a man. Molly is stressed that she might’ve killed someone, and the responding officer seems to think Molly hit the man deliberately.

Nick White is back after his military stint, working as director at the camp when the original director, Gene, went missing. Gene hadn’t taken any of his personal effects, and hadn’t told anyone about hiring a nurse for the summer. Nick hires Molly after learning her training, but he warns her that the camp isn’t what it used to be.

When Nick and Molly arrive at the camp, someone shoots at them. Who? Why? What happened to Gene? The camp is shrouded in mystery, campers are arriving, and the camp isn’t safe for anyone. How will Nick and Molly keep the campers and their hearts safe?

RICOCHET is the latest book by talented author Christy Barritt. I love her cozy mysteries, and her romantic suspense are good, but with a different feel. The spookiness starts right away, making me almost afraid to read the book after dark in the national forest I live in.

Molly is a realistic character, running from false allegations that ruined her life and trying to find a fresh start at a place that once held pleasant memories. Nick is filling in for his flighty cousin, (Gene) and struggling to set a camp right that has gone downhill since his teen years. He is a sweet hero, kind, considerate, and strong. Readers of romantic suspense won’t want to miss this book. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $5.75. 215 pages. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Walk With Me


Title: WALK WITH ME
Author: Annie Wald
Publisher: River North
September 2012
ISBN 978-0-8024-0593-7
Fiction/General/Classic & Allegory
Reviewed by Steve Hilton

A new twist on an old classic, Annie Wald has innovatively re-written Pilgrim’s Progress for couples.  In doing so, she has managed to grasp the core essentials of what marriage is really all about, and provides sage advice on how one can successfully navigate the oft times rocky terrain of married life.  For Annie, marriage is more than a one-day affair; it’s a daily walk in a sometimes cold and unfriendly world.  There are snares and pits that the married couple must avoid (or work their way out of).  There are also periods of rest, refreshment, relaxation, and a rekindling of the old flame.  Truth be told – if you are married to the same person that you said your vows to, whether that was 5 years ago or 50 – then there is something definitely wrong.  Mark Lowry stated it something like this:  “Life is birthdays, and bills; it’s good, and bad, and ugly; it’s new cars and skinned knees.  And Jesus came to give life . . . ABUNDANTLY!”  In this allegory, Annie invites you to take a walk with Peter and Celeste as they journey toward the King’s City.  You’ll find yourself rooting for them, weeping with them and rejoicing with them.  And you might even find yourself in this book, as well.

Inventive, imaginative, provocative, and compelling are just a few of the words I would use to describe WALK WITH ME.   One last adjective might suffice:  life-altering.  Read it as a couple, share it with your couple friends . . . but don’t ever forget the invitation to WALK WITH ME. 5 Stars. 288 pages. $15.99.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My First Handy Bible


Title: MY FIRST HANDY BIBLE 

Author: Cecilie Olesen 
Illustrator: Gustavo Mazali 
Publisher: Hendrickson Publishers
January 2012
ISBN: 978-8772473048
Genre: Bible story book for toddlers

MY FIRST HANDY BIBLE is a ideal solution for babies and toddlers to have their own Bible. It comes with a yellow handle, making it easy for them to carry, there is a “lock” to hold it securely closed, and it is hard cover, with hard pages, so they won’t tear anything.

MY FIRST HANDY BIBLE includes some great Bible stories in simple toddler language, making it easy to read the stories about Adam and Eve, Joseph, Jesus, and Heaven (with more in between).

My daughter was excited to get this Bible in the mail, and even though she is beyond the toddler stage, she enjoyed carrying it around and reading the stories to herself. MY FIRST HANDY BIBLE will make an ideal birthday or Christmas or anytime gift for your favorite preschooler, or would be a great shower gift for a new baby. The colorful illustrations are sure to delight even the littlest ones. $12.95 hardcover. 61 pages. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Proverbs Prayers


Title: PROVERBS PRAYERS
Author: John Mason
Publisher: Summerside Press
August 2012
ISBN: 978-1609361693
Genre: devotional

I love devotionals. I have a small pile of ones that I especially enjoy, and read them randomly throughout the day. PROVERBS PRAYERS will be added to this collection. It starts with a selection from proverbs, which you read from this book (or you can look it up in the Bible, if you’d rather) and then pray those verses over your own life, or the life of your loved ones.

I am a very conservative Christian and at our church, a visiting preacher gave my daughter (and several other children) a DVD of proverbs, you play it every day, and memorize the scripture verses, to help you grow as a Christian. This book would be the grown up version, as you read and think about what you read, and then pray about it.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading through this book, both out loud as a family devotional and quietly as a personal devotional, and highly recommend this book as a stellar devotional to anyone who is a prayer warrior, or want more scripture based devotionals. $12.99. 160 pages. 


Link to buy the book:

http://ow.ly/dDWpN  

About the Book: 

Praying the Wisdom of Proverbs into Your Life Every Day

Experience God’s wisdom as never before and find encouragement, peace, answers, and a better life through this devotional prayer book.
Many people read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs as a regular devotional practice. They consider it their favorite book in the Bible because its daily practical guidance offers tools to make the right choices and have the inner strength to stand against pressure, size up a situation and know how to respond, make fewer careless mistakes, and avoid unnecessary trouble.
In these pages, readers will find a chapter from Proverbs followed by a heartfelt prayer that includes all of the insights from that chapter. In a mere thirty-one days they can pray all of the wisdom of Proverbs for their lives.

Meet John: 

John Mason is an author with over 1.2 million books in print, including “An Enemy Called Average”, “You’re Born an Original- Don’t Die a Copy”, and “Let Go of Whatever Makes You Stop”.

He is the founder and president of Insight International, an organization dedicated to helping people reach their dreams and fulfill their destiny. John is in great demand as a speaker throughout the United States and abroad. Learn more about John on his website:http://www.freshword.com

Find out more about John at http://www.freshword.com.

Landing Page Link:  http://litfusegroup.com/author/jmason

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What Every Christian Ought to Know


Title: WHAT EVERY CHRISTIAN OUGHT TO KNOW
Author: Adrian Rogers with Steve Rogers
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
September 2012
ISBN 978-1-4336-7785-4
Genre: Religion \ Christian Life \ Spiritual Growth
Reviewed by: Steve Hilton


Adrian Rogers. Enough said. The late Dr. Adrian Rogers, former pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church near Memphis, Tennessee, lived a life captivated by Christ and consumed with a passion for the Word of God and for grounding new believers into disciples and exhorting disciples to never stop growing. His life can be summed up in one word – integrity.

So when I received the opportunity to review WHAT EVERY CHRISTIAN OUGHT TO KNOW, I literally jumped at it. This book was previously published by Dr. Rogers, and this new edition includes an introduction from Steve Rogers (president of the Adrian Rogers Pastor Training Institute) as well as discussion questions for personal reflection or group study. But the real draw for this reviewer is the bulk of the book. Written in a clear, passionate tone that trumpets a life time of walking with the Lord and studying the Word, WHAT EVERY CHRISTIAN OUGHT TO KNOW is a primer for those who claim the name of Jesus and want to live up to everything that that stands for. Taking the major doctrines, in a lucid yet devotional tone, Dr. Rogers explains clearly what God’s word has to say. WHAT EVERY CHRISTIAN OUGHT TO KNOW not only serves as a handbook for apologetics, it also reminds every believer of their “first love,” and encourages them to walk ever closer with The One who loved them first. 5 stars. 278 pages. $14.99.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

As We Forgive and giveaway -- interview with June Foster


ANSWER JUNE'S QUESTION TO BE ENTERED IN THE GIVEAWAY, INCLUDE CONTACT INFORMATION.

Title: AS WE FORGIVE
Author: June Foster
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
September 2012
ASIN: B0094HQDI8
Genre: Inspirational/women's fiction


Tim Garrett wants to serve God as a pastoral counselor, but first he must prove to the staff and elders at Bellewood Fellowship he can handle the job he was hired to do -- work with the senior high youth.

Roxanne Ratner doesn't trust men. She believes they’ll only hurt her like her father did. She fills the empty place in her heart with shopping for designer clothes. Though the perky young hairstylist is attracted to Tim, she plans to keep her distance from the youth pastor.

Despite Tim’s efforts to prove himself as a youth pastor, it seems no one is on his side. The teens hate him. The board wanted to hire someone else. And Tim worries he'll lose his job, ruining his dreams of being a counselor. With his life falling apart, what will it take for him to see God's plans? And will Roxanne be able to move past the abandonment of her father to find love?

AS WE FORGIVE is the first book I've read by Ms. Foster, and it was in the rough form as she was a member of my critique group. It is also the second book in her Bellewood series. AS WE FORGIVE stands alone, but readers will want to read the first book, Give Us This Day to find out the beginnings of Tim's story.

June's characters are realistic, facing true to life struggles and temptations. She doesn't sugar-coat the bad stuff. My heart went out to Tim as he struggled in the impossible situation he found himself in through no fault of his own, and wanted him to find his way out of the pit. If you are looking for a realistic, and well-written story, then be sure to pick up AS WE FORGIVE. The third book, Deliver Us, will release in April 2013. File Size: 335 KB. 197 pages. $5.99

***

Why do you write the kind of books you do?

I write Christian inspirational romance with an emphasis on the struggles that all humans must deal with. However, my characters find victory in their lives through the power of God and His word. I hope to encourage readers who may find similar issues in their lives. So far, my novels have touched on the issues of obesity, anger, abortion, cults, self image, addictions, and homosexuality. In every case, the hero or heroine adopts a Christian worldview in finding freedom.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?

I thought and thought and can't think of one particular day. But several days come to mind. When my husband gave his life to the Lord, when I found out I was to be a published author - particularly when I discovered my book Ryan's Father is going to be published by WhiteFire Publishing.

How has being published changed your life?

I never would have believed three years ago I'd be a published author. In fact, I didn't think I'd be writing and spending hours on the computer every day. After all I was a happy, retired teacher. I thought I'd be playing bridge with my friends, sightseeing with my husband as we travel in our RV, scrapbooking, and all the things retired people do. But I was wrong. When the Lord put the desire in my heart to write, He gave me a great love for it. I can't wait to get to my computer each morning. I treasure every moments I spend composing the stories God put in my heart.

What are you reading right now?

I just finished The Awakening by JoAnn Durgin. I'm starting Mama's Bible by Mildred Colvin.

What is your current work in progress?

I'm finishing my edits for The Way Home which I hope to pitch at the ACFW conference. After that, I'm starting a new novel, a bi-racial romance. (I know, not too many of those around.)

What would be your dream vacation?

I'd love to go to Israel.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

So far my books, with the exception of The Way Home, take place in the Seattle area where I lived for 10 years. I hadn't read too many books set in the Pacific Northwest and I dearly love the area, so I figured my characters should live there though the cost of living is pretty high. Now if you won't think I'm crazy, I'll tell you how I chose the setting for The Way Home. I looked at the US map. I really thought the Lord had a location in mind, but I wasn't sure where it was. I pointed and my finger landed on Chico, California. I'm not sure if that was me or maybe God directing me, but anyway, that's how it happened.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

I think I'd like to spend the evening with Gail Gaymer Martin. Her book, Writing the Christian Romance helped me so much when I first started. And of course I love her inspirational romances.

What three things about you would surprise readers?

My great-grandfather was a catholic priest, (think about that one), I never had an interest in writing as a youth or young adult – not until I was in my sixties, and I am homeless. (Really)

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I used to scrapbook and make cards. Now I have very little time for anything else but writing and editing my stories and marketing. Many days I literally spend 12 hours a day on the computer.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it

I have a few writing issues that drive me crazy. My characters speak to each other in dialogue that sounds like two PHD's talking when sometimes they're not even college graduates. Stiff language. I tend to be redundant as well and don't give the reader enough credit. I think many writers struggle with trying to explain too much. RUE. Resist the urge to explain. Say that 10 times, June. My critique partners are so good at pointing out these things. I can't thank them enough.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Oh, write, write, and write some more. Read all the "how to" books you can get your hands on, and don't get discouraged - no matter what. Most importantly, trust the Lord and pray.


Tell us about the book.

As We Forgive is book two in my Bellewood Series which just released September 1. Tim Garrett helped Jess Colton back to health in Give Us This Day but now can't control his world which is toppling down on his head. If Tim can't conquer his volatile anger, he could lose it all - his job as a youth pastor and the woman he loves, hairstylist Roxanne Ratner. Roxanne doesn't trust Tim any more than she could trust her father who abandoned her at age ten. Now she must gain control of her shopaholic tendencies before she can reach her goal of owning her own salon.


What do you want readers to take away from the book?

Tim learned anger from his father. Roxanne compensated for the loss of her father at the young age of 10 by filling the void in her life with shopping. I’d like readers to experience my characters’ issues and come away with hope – God can bring us out of the messes we make of our lives allowing us to live victoriously.

What one question would you like us to ask your readers?

In a Christian novel, do you enjoy reading about characters who allow God to touch their lives in bringing healing? Is it easy to identify with them sometimes?

Tell us about the giveaway you’re offering.
A gift card from Amazon for a Kindle version of the first two books in the Bellewood series – Give Us This Day and As We Forgive.



Leave a comment on this review for a chance to be entered into the As We Forgive Blog Tour Giveaway. Our prize pack includes two sets of handmade cards (one monogrammed, one miscellaneous cards) A San Juan Island Pendant, and a Amazon Gift Certificate for $10.00. Visit June's Blog (http://junefoster.blogspot.com) for more chances to enter during the tour September 17th thru October 15th. Deadline to Enter will be October 18th. The winner will be announced on October 20th.

Friday, September 21, 2012

With Every Letter / giveaway / interview with Sarah

Title: WITH EVERY LETTER
Author: Sarah Sundin
Publisher: Revell
September 2012
ISBN: 978-0800720810
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance/WWII

Lt. Mellie Blake is a nurse, but it’s an uphill battle. Unaccepted by her peers, she gets transferred to another unit, and even there she is unaccepted. She tries to fit in, but she’s a square peg trying to fit in a round hole, and no one wants to even be her friend. Her nursing supervisor gives her mere weeks to make friends, or she’ll be sent away again, losing her chance to be a flight nurse.

Lt. Tom MacGilliver had an unfortunate childhood, and his peers always made fun of him. As a result he hid his emotions behind a falsely pleasant façade, pretending to be happy even when he’s furious. Service with a smile. But none of the men in his platoon respected him, and he’s in danger of losing his position.

Mellie and Tom begin to write letters anonymously, baring their hearts and souls, but neither knew who the other was in real life. Tom teaches Mellie how to make friends, and she teaches him how to be a leader. But will they ever meet? And if they do, will Tom be appalled by who Mellie is, like every other man? Or will his love for her personality be able to move past her appearance?

WITH EVERY LETTER is the first book in Ms. Sundin’s first book in the Wings of the Nightingale series. The book moves rather slowly at times, leading to skimming, but at times things and people spark and it snared my complete attention.

Mellie is a character that any shy person will identify with. Growing up, I was the shy one, hiding where no one could see me, and viewed as stuck up by my peers. I still struggle with shyness and tend to be quiet around people I don’t know well. Mellie’s character tended to open up old wounds. Tom came across as wimpy at times, and I hoped he’d eventually be able to stand up for himself and be a man.

All in all, a good read. Exciting at times, the romance between certain characters and at certain times is top notch, and I can’t wait to read the next book in this series. I hope it’ll be Kay’s story. $14.99. 425 pages. 4 stars.

***

Link to buy the book:

http://ow.ly/dyzz0

About the Book:

Book 1 in the Wings of the Nightingale series

Lt. Mellie Blake is looking forward to beginning her training as a flight nurse. She is not looking forward to writing a letter to a man she’s never met–even if it is anonymous and part of a morale-building program. Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an officer stationed in North Africa, welcomes the idea of an anonymous correspondence–he’s been trying to escape his infamous name for years.
As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, Tom and Mellie develop a unique friendship despite not knowing the other’s true identity. When both are transferred to Algeria, the two are poised to meet face-to-face for the first time. Will they overcome their fears and reveal who they are, or will their future be held hostage by their pasts?
Combining a flair for romance with excellent research and attention to detail, Sarah Sundin vividly brings to life the perilous challenges of WWII aviation, nursing–and true love.

Meet Sarah:

Sarah Sundin received the 2011 Writer of the Year Award from the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, and her second novel A Memory Between Us is a finalist for an Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. Her stories are inspired by her great-uncle who flew with the U.S. Eighth Air Force in England during World War II. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children. www.sarahsundin.com

Find out more about Sarah at http://www.sarahsundin.com/.

Blog Tour Schedule

Landing Page: http://litfusegroup.com/campaigns/with-every-letter-by-sarah-sundin-kindlenook-giveaway-facebook-party-and-blog-tour


An interview with Sarah Sundin,
Author of With Every Letter

Combining a flair for romance with exceptional research and attention to detail, Sarah Sundin vividly brings to life the perilous challenges of World War II aviation and nursing in her latest release. With Every Letter (Revell, September 1, 2012, ISBN 978-0800720810, $14.99) launches Sundin’s new Wings of the Nightingale series in which three WWII flight nurses will discover friendship, love, and peril in the skies and on the shores of the Mediterranean.

Sundin shares more about the background and research behind With Every Letter in the interview below.

Q: All of the books in your last series, and your new release, With Every Letter, are set in the World War II era. What draws you to writing books set during the war?

Not only do I love the clothes, uniforms, and music, but there’s an inexhaustible supply of dramatic stories and settings—a novelist’s dream. This was a time when ordinary men had to do extraordinary things, and when women explored non-traditional roles—while remaining ladies. Plus, I’ve always been fond of that generation. As a pharmacy resident at a VA hospital, I had the honor of caring for many World War II veterans. As a rule, they were cheerful, kind, and chivalrous, with the solid strength of someone who has been tested—and passed. What more could you want in a hero?

Q: You went to school and trained to be a pharmacist, in fact, that is still your profession. How did you make the leap to author?

I certainly never planned a writing career. In 2000, I was working on-call as a hospital pharmacist and staying home with our three young children, when I had a dream with such intriguing characters that I felt compelled to write their story. That first novel will never be published, nor should it, but it got me started.

However, my pharmacy background has helped me write the Wings of the Nightingale series with its focus on nurses and medical care. Although medications have changed significantly in the past seventy years, the basic concepts remain. Also the hero of the second book in the series, On Distant Shores (June 2013), is an Army pharmacist, so I had fun with that.

Q: Do you enjoy the research process? What were some of the unique aspects of the research for this story?

I adore research. Often I have to force myself to stop and actually write the story. With Every Letter presented unique research challenges. The story is very mobile, since Tom builds airfields just behind the front lines, and Mellie flies into those airfields. There are twenty-five separate settings in With Every Letter, from Kentucky to Liverpool to Algiers to Sicily.

Also, both flight nursing and aviation engineering appealed to me because they don’t get much attention. On the flip side, few research materials are available. I had to do some sleuthing, which led to some fun moments. An obscure website led me to the grandson of an aviation engineer who had served in North Africa. The man sent me a box full of materials—copies of his handwritten narrative, personal letters to his little daughter, and photographs. Priceless!

Description: Description: C:\Users\Audra\Dropbox\LITFUSE Shared\With Every Letter - SUNDIN\With Every Lettter.jpgQ:  How historically accurate are your novels (locations and events)? Are the stories based on real people?

I try to make my stories as historically accurate as possible. With Every Letter follows the US Army from the landings in North Africa in November 1942 through the campaign in Sicily in the summer of 1943. The 802nd Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron was a real unit that flew the first official air evacuation flights, but all characters and stories are fictional. Tom’s unit is based as closely as possible on the actual 809th Engineer Aviation Battalion. However, the highly mobile nature of this story and my desire to place Tom and Mellie together at certain places and times created a plot nightmare. To save myself hours of therapy, I created the fictional 908th Engineer Aviation Battalion.

Q: Is there a spiritual lesson or analogy within the story you hope readers will walk away with?

Mellie has always seen herself as merciful as she cares for the sick and wounded. But story events stretch her understanding of mercy. Both Tom and Mellie learn new depths to the meaning of forgiveness.

Also, at the start of the story, both Tom and Mellie are uncomfortable in their own skins. They both have to learn to see themselves as God sees them and grow into the people God wants them to be.

Learn more about Sarah Sundin and her books at www.sarahsundin.com. She also invites readers to become a fan onFacebook and follow her on Twitter.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

River Rampage


Title: RIVER RAMPAGE
Author: Max Elliot Anderson
Publisher: Port Yonder Press
ISBN: 978-1-935600-15-2
Genre: Young adult

Sam Cooper and his friends believe the rest of their summer is going to be boring after what they experienced earlier after school let out, but when Tony’s Uncle calls and invites Tony and his two best friends (Sam and Tyler) on a float trip down the river on rafts, Sam and Tyler both jump at the chance. Sam’s parents decide it won’t be too big of a risk, especially when they are assured that the raft the boys ride on will be the supply raft and it will be securely tethered to another one, piloted by Tony’s uncle—and experienced river rapids guide.

But that isn’t the way it pans out. The raft becomes unattached the second day on the float trip when they hit class three rapids, and the supply raft springs several leaks, rendering it worthless. Not only that, but everyone goes on, leaving the three boys behind. They set up camp, but then decide to go looking for help when a hooved animal with a bell wanders by, since that means that civilization must be near.

Instead, Sam and his friends find an old prospector whose discovered gold. And claim jumpers are hot on his tail.  Sam and his friends try to devise a plan to get the old prospector and themselves to safety before the claim jumpers come in with guns blazing—and hopefully find their river party at the same time.

Readers of any of Max Elliot Anderson’s books know that the books are guaranteed to be exciting, suspenseful, and geared toward boys. RIVER RAMPAGE isn’t any different. It is the third book in the A Sam Cooper Adventure series. RIVER RAMPAGE easily stands alone, but readers will want to read the first two books, Lost Island Smugglers and Captain Jack’s Treasure to be brought up to date on Sam’s summer adventures so far.

Recommended for young adults, tweeners, and especially reluctant readers as that is who Max targets. My son has been a fan of Max Elliot Anderson's books since he was eight and a reluctant reader. My son is now twenty, reads a lot, and he still loves Max's books.  $9.95. 168 pages. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Women Redeemed: Addressing the Issues No One Wants to Talk About

Women Redeemed: Addressing the Issues No One Wants to Talk About
September 20th webcast spotlights Kregel’s new line of books that move women toward healing and hope


This fall, Kregel Publications is releasing new books for women, addressing issues that are often too painful and difficult to discuss. Topics such as miscarriage, abortion and abuse are sadly prevalent in the lives of so many women, but often times women keep silent out of shame, hurt, or grief and find themselves unable to talk to anyone, even among trusted friends and their sisters in Christ. These women are desperately seeking support, understanding and healing, but often don’t know where to turn.

“Kregel Publications has always strived to develop and distribute books that will help individuals grow in their personal relationship with Christ. Most recently, we’ve focused on providing quality resources on topics that are all too common, but very often ignored by both the reader and the church at large,” explains Cat Hoort, Marketing and Publicity Manager for Kregel Publications. “Abuse, abortion, and miscarriage, for example, are common challenges for even the most committed Christian. Yet fear, embarrassment, or a lack of knowledge on these issues has kept people silent far too long.”

In coordination with the launch of their fall releases, Kregel will be hosting a live webcast event on September 20 at 8 PM EDT featuring authors Kim Ketola (Cradle My Heart), Teske Drake (Hope for Today, Promises for Tomorrow),and Dawn Scott Jones (When a Woman You Love Was Abused). The webcast will allow women to come together to share their struggles and fears in order to move toward healing and hope. Women will able to support one another and discuss shared experiences in a non-threatening, open and loving environment.

Here are just a few of the staggering statistics on the topics Ketola, Drake and Jones have written about:

Abortion:
· It is estimated that 13% of abortions are performed on self-described ‘born again’ or evangelical Christians
· The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) reports that 46% of aborting women identify themselves as Protestant and an additional 27% identify themselves as Catholic. If true, these statistics reveal that more than 70% of all abortions in the United States are performed on Christian women.
· 85% of women say abortions cause mental health issues, including sorry, sadness, guilt, regret, grief, and disappointment

Miscarriage and infant loss:
· The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences reports that as many as 31 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss
· An estimated 19% of all the adult population has experienced the death of a child.
· An in-utero death after 20 weeks is considered a stillbirth.
· A stillbirth occurs once every twenty minutes.
· Approximately 26,000 pregnancies end in stillbirth every year.

Abuse:
· The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that 80 percent of childhood abuse victims later suffer from at least one abuse-induced psychological disorder. It’s proven that the effects of childhood abuse follow women into adulthood.
· 90% of victims know their abuser. Commonly reported abusers are fathers, stepfathers, brothers, uncles, and grandfathers. Other abusers are babysitters, teachers, and neighbors.
· 80% of childhood abuse victims later suffer from at least one abuse-induced psychological disorder. 1/3 of people who are sexually abused become abusers themselves.

“We are seeking to provide safe means for Christian women to be vulnerable with each other, to seek help and guidance from authors and counselors, and to find encouragement from those who have shared similar experiences. Our hope is that the Women Redeemed webcast will become a forum for hurting women as well as for those who can help. Kim, Teske, and Dawn are all survivors and their stories will surely inspire and equip other women to move toward healing and hope,” says Hoort.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ricky the Remarkable Raccoon


Title: RICKY THE REMARKABLE RACCOON
Author: Peggy Roger-Carey
Illustrator: David Miles
Publisher: Hope 4 Families
2011
ISBN: 978-0-9844587-1-0
Genre: Children/adoption

Ricky Raccoon dreams of a magical place he can call home. In a harbor, Ricky sees the big “floating houses” that might take him to that magical place. So, when he sees a family preparing their boat he jumps on board. He decides to hide until later to introduce himself to his new family. But when they discover him, the humans aren’t as thrilled as he hoped. They catch him in a net and lock him in a cage!

When a seal named Mr. Whiskers finds Ricky locked in a cage, he sets him free and adopts him. Ricky isn’t initially thrilled as he wanted to live on the “floating house.” But Mr. Whiskers talks him into it, saying he always wanted a son. Will Ricky find a forever family with Mr. Whiskers and his wife?

RICKY THE REMARKABLE RACCOON is a story for family’s that have adopted children or foster children to show them that they are special and wanted. And ideal book for children who struggle with not having a home with their birth parents for whatever reason and want a family to call their own. This book will show you that even though you are not a biological child, you can still be loved and welcomed as part of a family. $7.99  hardcover. 34 pages. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Listen


Title: LISTEN
Author: Rene Gutteridge
Publisher: Tyndale
January 2010
ISBN: 978-1414324333
Genre: Inspirational/suspense

Someone is listening…

Marlo is a small town, which claims to be the perfect place to raise your kids. But someone is recording private conversations and posting them on the web for everyone to read. The effects are devastating, even causing murder.

Damien Underwood is an editorial writer who wants to be an investigative reporter. He is allowed to do some pieces, and enlists his son, Hunter, to help when someone starts posting those private conversations on the web. Frank Meret, Damien’s best friend, is a police office, still in love with his ex-wife, also is enlisted.

Life in Marlo is disrupted. A pastor's cat is killed and he accuses the deacon whose critical words against the pastor were recorded on the website. The deacon becomes angry at his wife because he believes she passed on the information. He throws a remote control in rage, hits his wife in the head almost killing her. And that is just the beginning. It becomes vitally important to Damien and Frank to catch and stop the person posting these private provocative conversations.

I don’t like to write negative reviews. I’ve loved Ms. Gutteridge’s books in the past. They are quirky, funny, and suspenseful. But LISTEN… was disjointed. Greatly so. And unrealistic. And Damien is a journalist who hates the tools of his trade?

Some of the plotlines are not resolved—at least not that I saw. The pace is slow, boring, and confusing. I couldn’t identify with the characters. And, ouch, this hurts, but I’m giving it only two stars. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $12.99. 412 pages.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Three Giftbooks for your Friends

Leave a comment w/ contact information to be entered for a giveaway


Title: FRIENDS FOREVER, FACING WHATEVER
Artist: Lori Siebert
ISBN: 978-0-7369-4510-3

Title: SWEET TREATS FOR MY FIREND
Artist: Lisa Kause
ISBN: 978-0-7369-4609-4

Title: WHEN I’M AROUND YOU…
Authors: Carla Ventresca & H. Beckett
ISBN: 978-0-7369-5016-9

Publisher: Harvest House
July 2012
Genre: Giftbooks

Friendship is a blessing and these three little giftbooks are a great celebration of it. Filled with inspirational sayings by famous poets and authors such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, George MacDonald, and William Shakespeare (among others), these books are a delight to anyone who has close friends and wants to share their thoughts with their friend.

SWEET TREATS FOR MY FRIEND is also filled with wonderful sounding recipes, such as White Hot Chocolate, Gourmet Rootbeer, Heavenly Apple Dessert, Pretzel Peanut Bark (and more) this book is also one for someone who loves to bake yummy treats to share with their friends.


WHEN I’M AROUND YOU is more of a short story about the joys of friendship, and how two women can have lots of fun together, and FRIENDS FOREVER, FACING WHATEVER shows through poetry and inspirational sayings and verses how friends are more than fair weather, they are with you through thick and thin, no matter what you are going through.

All three books are really beautifully done, hard cover, and the perfect size for stuffing in purses or backpacks for an unsuspected surprise for students, or for stocking stuffers at Christmas, or basket additions when you put together a birthday basket for your best friend.

If you want to celebrate the gift of friendship with your BFF, then pick up one of these three giftbooks—or all three—they are a wonderful celebration of friendship. $9.99 hardcover (each), approximately 65 pages.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Faithful to Laura


Title: FAITHFUL TO LAURA
Author: Kathleen Fuller
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
August 2012
ISBN: 978-1595547767
Genre: Inspirational/Amish

Laura Stutzman is an Amish girl. Mark King hurt her deeply, leaving her with physical and emotional scars, and despite that the Amish teach forgiveness, Laura has revenge on her mind. She can’t move past what Mark did and she wants justice served.

Sawyer Thompson wasn’t born Amish, but he was adopted by Amish parents and raised in the community. When he discovers a grandmother he didn’t know existed shows up, his life is turned upside down. She wants him to leave the Amish and go to college to become a successful businessman.

Laura and Sawyer form a quick friendship. Their friendship blossoms into something more, but they both harbor deep anger which may destroy not only their relationship but also their lives.

FAITHFUL TO LAURA is the second book in Ms. Fuller’s Middlefield Family series. I recommend reading the first book in the series before this one as it is a continuation of Treasuring Emma. Laura and Sawyer are well developed, but there were a lot of other characters stories and point of views included, so it does jump from character to character and is disjointed. Readers who don’t read Treasuring Emma first might find themselves lost.

Fans of Amish fiction won’t want to miss FAITHFUL TO LAURA. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book as well as an excerpt from one of Ms. Fuller’s previous books. $15.99. 279 pages.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Home for Hannah


Title: A HOME FOR HANNAH
Author: Patricia Davids
Publisher: Love Inspired
August 2012
ISBN: 978-0-373-87757-7
Genre: Inspirational/romance

Miriam Kaufman has gone home to her Amish community to care for her ailing Mom. Her mom had two heart attacks within a short time. Miriam left the Amish to become a nurse and she has a side-job helping Amish youth run away. But this time it isn’t a youth waking her in the middle of the night. It’s a newborn baby.

Police officer Nick Bradley used to be Miriam’s boyfriend, but they let her Amish background get in the way of their relationship. And even now that she is no longer Amish they don’t have a hope because she thinks he killed her twin brother and refuses to forgive him for that sin.

When the two are forced together because of the abandoned infant, old hurts are forced to air and old wounds are reopened. Will they be able to rekindle their old relationship? Or has too much water gone under the bridge?

A HOME FOR HANNAH is the newest romance by Ms. Davids. Part of the Brides of Amish Country series, it easily stands alone, but readers will want to pick up the others in the series, most especially The Doctor’s Blessing as it is the story of another character in this book. The other books are: Katie’s Redemption, The Doctor’s Blessing, An Amish Christmas, The Farmer Next Door, and The Christmas Quilt. Fans of sweet romance, contemporary romance with a touch of Amish (in Amish country, English hero/heroine) will want to read A HOME FOR HANNAH. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $5.75. 215 pages.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Austin Gutwein encourages his fellow teens: We have a Part to Play


Austin Gutwein has a message to share with his fellow teens: God made each of you unique so that He can use you for a special purpose. In his book “Live to Give: Letting God Turn Your Talents into Miracles” (Thomas Nelson/August 7, 2012/208 pages/ISBN 978-1400319930), Gutwein challenges that regardless of age and talent, God can use you to make a difference. Though He could do it all Himself, God created humankind with a mission: to take care of His creation.

At eighteen years old, Gutwein speaks with wisdom and has the experience to reinforce his message. When Austin was just nine years old, he watched a video that showed children in Africa who had lost their parents to AIDS. Gutwein realized these kids weren’t any different from him—except they were suffering. Feeling called to help, Austin took his love of basketball and decided to shoot free throws to raise money for orphans in Zambia. On World AIDS Day in 2004, he shot 2,057 free throws to represent the 2,057 kids who would be orphaned during his day at school. Through sponsorship from parents and friends, Austin raised over $3,000 that day to give hope to eight orphans in Zambia.


We Have a Part to Play
Excerpted from Live to Give by Austin Gutwein ©2012 Thomas Nelson

There are so many examples in the Bible of God using regular people—even kids—to help Him make amazing things happen. He could have done these things by Himself, of course, but He picked people He loved to help bring life to the world. Later, we’ll talk about how you are just such a person. But first let’s look at John 6 for an example of how a partnership with God works. It’s the story of the feeding of the five thousand. This is one of the most amazing miracles in Jesus’ lifetime. In fact, it is the only miracle, other than the resurrection, that is written about in all four gospels. That means it is pretty important. And in this miracle, Jesus uses the direct help of someone else—a kid a lot like you and me. Let me paint the picture for you.

Jesus and His disciples hop into a boat and sail to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Along the shore, people see the boat and follow it all the way to the other side of the sea! When Jesus and the disciples reach the shore, they are greeted by an ever-growing crowd estimated at five thousand men. This means there were probably many more than five thousand people overall, counting the women and children (Matthew says there were “about five thousand men, besides women and children” [14:21]).

Jesus begins to heal their sick and teach them. Why? Mark 6:34 gives us the answer: “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”

That compassion leads Him to continue teaching until very late in the day, sharing wisdom and hope. But then the disciples run into a problem. All the people who have been listening to Jesus are hungry and without food, and they are too far from home to go get any kind of quick meal. I’m pretty sure takeout wasn’t around back then.

Jesus’ compassion on the crowd shows itself again; He tells His disciples to go get them something to eat. Imagine! What if someone asked you to rustle up a nice dinner for, oh, ten thousand people, just on the fly? The disciples are understandably stressed—they know they can’t possibly afford to feed all these people. It would take the modern-day equivalent of $8,000, or half a year’s wages for them.4 But Andrew looks around and manages to find a little boy who has what seems to be the only ounce of food around. It is a meager meal made up of only five small barley loaves and two fish—barely enough to feed the boy, let alone the huge crowd. We’re not talking about a big meal by any stretch of the imagination.

But it would be enough—in fact, more than enough. Jesus uses this little boy’s meal to feed the whole crowd. The Bible says Jesus gives thanks for the small lunch, the disciples divide it up, and everyone has their fill of food. Then—and this shows how great this miracle was—the disciples actually pick up twelve basketfuls of leftovers!

Jesus didn’t need that boy. Jesus didn’t need his lunch. He could have fed everyone without even missing a beat in His teaching. Jesus could have turned rocks into bread if He wanted to—but instead, He chose to use that boy. The Bible doesn’t give us many details about this kid or why Jesus chose to use him, but I can’t help but wonder if He did it to show us what happens when we offer our gifts to Him.

“Live to Give: Letting God Turn Your Talents into Miracles”
(Thomas Nelson/August 7, 2012/208 pages/ISBN 978-1400319930)

Learn more about Austin and Hoops of Hope at www.AustinGutwein.com and www.HoopsOfHope.org.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Only the Strong Admit When They're Wrong

Life is like cleaning the house—no matter how hard you work to clean up the mess, tomorrow the clutter and disorder will reappear, and it will just need cleaning again. In Making Sense When Life Doesn’t: The Secrets of Thriving in Tough Times (Summerside Press, April 2012, ISBN 978-1609362249, $14.99) best-selling author Cecil Murphey writes that while life’s messiness is unavoidable, it’s how a person chooses to respond to the mess that matters.

Making Sense When Life Doesn’t will leave readers viewing life from a new perspective and better equipped the next time they are faced with difficult times.



Only the Strong

An excerpt from Making Sense When Life Doesn’t by Cecil Murphey © 2012 Summerside Press.

The other day I received an e-mail from a friend. He had asked me for the address of another friend, and I pasted it from my database. Two days later my friend wrote, The e-mail address you gave me was wrong. Please send me the correct one. He enclosed the e-mail he had sent. He had inadvertently corrupted the address, so naturally it came back.

Instead of sending the address again, I simply forwarded his e-mail. My friend received it, replied to him, and everything was fine.

Except (this is trivial, but it says something about my friend) he was wrong and he didn’t admit that it was his mistake. He blamed me. He could have sent me a simple message to say the e-mail was returned, with no blame attached. But he was unwilling to admit his mistake.

I’ve known that friend for nearly twenty years, and it’s a trait I’d noticed before in him. I’m not writing this to condemn him. Instead, I want to propose an antidote.

I want to share one simple, empowering statement. It doesn’t have to be in these exact words as long as it carries the message: “I was mistaken.” We can make it lighter with a simple “Mea culpa.” I often hear “My bad” today. They all work—when we mean them.

Yet I’ve discovered some people can’t use such simple statements. “It makes me feel weak,” one man said when I tried to push him.

I countered with “Only the strong can say ‘I was wrong’ or ‘I’m sorry.’” I probably read that somewhere, but it fit the situation.

All of us make mistakes and errors of judgment; that’s part of being alive. But the stalwart and the successful are those who take responsibility for their own failures. And sometimes being responsible is the beginning of solving a serious problem.

“I made a mistake.” Four words. Or try “I was wrong.” That’s only three.

It’s not a natural reaction to admit we were in error, but it’s a great skill to practice. The more frequently we can admit our mistakes, the more empowered we are. Perhaps that sounds contradictory.

To admit we failed, that we took the wrong attitude, that we made a mistake in judgment—that’s empowering. Liberating. To face our failures eliminates a tremendous expenditure of energy to hide our shortcomings, to point the blame at others, or to deny knowledge.

I’ve noticed this principle in national and international news. When celebrities get into any kind of trouble, their first reaction is usually to deny the accusation. But if the allegations are true, the truth often comes out: drug use by sports stars, sexual misconduct by a leading cleric, or fraud by a tycoon on Wall Street.

The few (and there have been only a few) who stood up and said, “I did it. I was wrong, and I’m sorry,” won our admiration. We forgave them or overlooked their wrongdoing. But the others, who eventually must make similar statements because the evidence is there to convict them, have little effect on us. They lied to us, and they tried to deceive us. We lose respect for them—respect they can’t easily earn back.

Those who admit their failures immediately may not move back into the places of prominence, but we admire them. And we empower them so they can hold up their heads in public.

Perhaps it’s obvious what the answer is. If it is, here’s my question: Why don’t we do it?

I’ll go back to a statement I made above: Only the strong can say “I was wrong” or “I’m sorry.