Monday, February 28, 2011

With me My Shepherd by Anne Washburn Morse - REVIEWED

About the Book: (from the publisher)
Psalm 23 is the best known, best loved, and most quoted chapter in the Bible. Though David, the shepherd-king, wrote it thousands of years ago, it is still relevant today. Numerous people have rephrased this familiar passage to fit their own ideas, life situations, jobs, or nationalities. A few examples are The American Indian Psalm, a Gardener's Psalm, a Child's Psalm, the Seaman's Psalm, the Japanese Psalm, the Teacher's Psalm... This book contains a collection of those paraphrases, gathered by the author over a long period of years, many of them illustrated by dramatic black and white photographs. A second section, "Stories of My Shepherd," is a devotional commentary on the rewards the author has found in her own life under the watch care of the Shepherd, rewards such as redemption, joy, love, hope. Each story is based on a different phrase of Psalm 23. "Only when we place our trust in Jesus the Good Shepherd," she said, "can we claim the promise, 'I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.'" The reader will find a fresh and deeper glimpse of God's love and care and concern for him. This inspiring book, suitable reading for all ages, would be an excellent gift for any occasion.

My Thoughts:

So whether on the hilltops high and fair

I dwell, or in the sunless valley where

The shadows lie – what matters? He is there.

So where he leads me I can safely go;

And in the blest hereafter I shall know

Why in his wisdom he hath led me so.


Above you read the third stanza of a Psalm 23 paraphrase written by John F. Chplain entitled, In Pastures Green? Anne Washburn Morse has collected many and widely varied paraphrases of the 23rd Psalm, and I daresay all of them will cause the reader to examine the truth found in this precious Psalm in fresh and sometimes disturbing ways.


For you see, not all of them are spiritually “healthy” observations. Indeed, one of the most haunting, yet realistic paraphrases was written by a 23-year-old heroin addict. In all instances, where possible, Morse reveals the author of the piece, and sometimes she is able to include a brief history of the inspiration behind the paraphrase. The viewpoints vary from machinist and teacher to addict and materialist, but all paraphrases will cause you to consider the truth and reality of a personal relationship with the Savior.


The verse that I quoted at the beginning of this review has kept me coming back to re-read its truth over and over again. I have found great comfort in the assurance of Christ’s presence no matter how dark the circumstances. I received a copy of this book from my good friend and librarian, Dr. Betty Barrett, and I deeply appreciate the opportunity to share this book with you!


Studio: CrossBooks Publishing
Pages 76
Dimensions: Length: 9.02" Width: 5.98" Height: 0.16"
Weight: 0.27 lbs.
ISBN 1615076476
ISBN-13 978-1615076475

About the Author:
Anne Washburn Morse, now retired, is a former associate editor of Mississippi's state Baptist newspaper, the Baptist Record. Born in Alabama, she was graduated from Judson College with a major in English. Later she received master's degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, and Mississippi College, Clinton, Mississippi and studied one summer at the University of London.

Friday, February 25, 2011

THE GRACE CARD - OPENS TODAY!!!

Friday Flashback Prompt with TEETH!


What are your dental memories of childhood? Who pulled your baby teeth and how was it done - with a tissue, string, or other method? Was it a traumatic experience or no big deal? Did you have to have any teeth pulled by the dentist? Did the tooth fairy visit your house? If so, how much did you get for each tooth and how long did that last? How old were you at your first dental visit? Did you go regularly? Did you have any/many cavities as a child? Was dental hygiene taught in school? Was flossing a big deal when you were growing up? Did you have braces and, if so, for how long? Did you have to wear rubber bands, head/neck gear or other additional "accessories"? Did you need braces but your parents couldn't afford them? Have you had braces as an adult? Do you have any fond/funny//traumatic memories of old relatives or friends and their false teeth?


I began my relationship with the dentist at a very early age because my mouth was so small that all of my adult teeth didn’t fit. I also suffered from a “tongue thrust” that was pushing my front teeth WAY out of line. Sooo…long story short, I started seeing the orthodontist by the time I was in first grade to widen my pallet and take care of the damage my tongue was doing. As soon as my adult teeth made an appearance 4-6 of them were removed – along with some stubborn baby teeth that refused to fall out. I was in braces by the time I was 10 until I was 13. I never had a head gear, but wore a LOT of rubber bands and “power chains”. (ouch!) I had all four wisdom teeth cut out before I was 14, and I’ve had a straight smile ever since!


I do have memories of the tooth fairy leaving change under my pillow, but I don’t think it was very much or very often. My dad tried the “tying the tooth to the doorknob and slamming the door” method ONCE – and I’m still scared of doorknobs! J Seriously, I have had a WHOLE lot of dental stuff done in my lifetime and it’s not a big deal for the most part. I just had a couple of crowns last year, and that, by far, is the WORST. I had my first root canal done last year too, but that wasn’t as bad as the crown.


My parents always took us regularly to the dentist – and then the orthodontist – and all four of us had braces. I’m the only one that wore my retainer like I should, so I’m the only one with a straight smile now, but that’s life. I’m just thankful I still have a healthy mouth and am able to smile!


Both my sons have inherited my small pallet, and both of them had to have some permanent teeth pulled before they got braces. But we just got my youngest son out of braces last year, and now they both have beautiful, straight smiles! I’m certainly thankful for good dentists and orthodontists!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Words by Ginny Yttrup - REVIEWED

"I collect words. I keep them in a box in my mind. I'd like to keep them in a real box, something pretty, maybe a shoe box covered with flowered wrapping paper. Whenever I wanted, I'd open the box and pick up the papers, reading and feeling the words all at once. Then I could hide the box. But the words are safer in my mind. There, he can't take them."


Ten-year old Kaylee Wren doesn't speak. Not since her drug-addled mother walked away, leaving her in a remote cabin nestled in the towering redwoods-in the care of a man who is as dangerous as he is evil. With silence her only refuge, Kaylee collects words she might never speak from the only memento her mother left behind: a dictionary.


Sierra Dawn is thirty-four, an artist, and alone. She has allowed the shame of her past to silence her present hopes and chooses to bury her pain by trying to control her circumstances. But on the twelfth anniversary of her daughter's death, Sierra's control begins to crumble as the God of her childhood woos her back to Himself.

My Thoughts:

“There isn’t a word for what I feel.” (p. 125)

Sierra Dawn and Kaylee Wren are people for whom words cannot begin to name the hurt that they feel and the pain they have suffered. Sierra, at the point in her life we meet in the story, is a thirty-four year old artist struggling beneath the stronghold of her past. Kaylee Wren is a ten-year-old that lives in the daily nightmare of poor choices created by her drug addicted mother. When these two lives intertwine, God sets in motion a miracle of love and grace, mercy and healing that only He could orchestrate. The journey is both painful, and beautiful, and it is one you will remember long after you read the final page.

Ginny Yttrup’s debut novel, Words, is a well-written story about some very difficult life circumstances. Sadly, the circumstances are all too real in many lives that have become enslaved to a variety of addictions. The resulting chaos and pain are vividly set forth in this novel alongside the wonderful grace and mercy of our Heavenly Father who does indeed redeem us from the vilest situations. He loves us in ways we cannot begin to fathom, and he never wastes a moment to share his glorious grace throughout our every circumstance.

Ginny Yttrup has captured truth – God’s truth – so beautifully and so poignantly that at times my heart ached so badly that I simply had to put the book down. However, by the end of the story, tears of pure delightful freedom ran down my face as I rejoiced in the truth of this story and all it means in my own life.


About the Author:

Ginny Yttrup is an author, freelance writer, and writing coach. As she writes, speaks, and coaches, her prayer is that God will use her words to replace the lies so many believe about themselves with the truth of His unconditional love and grace. To see someone grasp, perhaps for the first time, the truth of God's love, is truly an honor. Through a relationship with the Truth, Jesus Christ, the bonds of shame are loosed and freedom abounds!


When Ginny is not working, she loves spending time with her two college-age sons or with friends. She is surrounded by the most amazing people--each a gift in their own way. If she can spend time outdoors with those she love, it's even better. And she thoroughly adores her dog, Bear. He's a book lover too.


She has two grown sons and lives near Sacramento, California. Words is her first novel.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Operation Bonnet by Kimberly Stuart - REVIEWED



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




ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kimberly says:



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



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



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



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


My Thoughts:

“Stubborn grace, it turned out, came in various forms, straight from the hand of God and in the form of a cranky old lady in a bonnet.” (p.262)


Operation Bonnet it the most original, funny, delightful tale that I have read in a very long time! The characters were such an eclectic group of people – each of them struggling with a private issue that ultimately led them to a very unexpected point of grace. Nellie is the protagonist of the story, and her twenty-year-old life makes about as much sense to her as the wild and unruly mane of red (excuse me, orange) curls that adorns her head. Born to a couple of people who’d rather play golf and spend money rather than raise their only daughter, Nellie finds herself caring for her grandmother and desperately trying to pursue the closest thing she has ever had to a dream – the life of a private detective.


Sounds like a hodge-podge of issues, huh? Well, once you meet Nona, Matt and Amos – oh, and don’t forget Tank! – this story takes on the characteristics of adventure, light romance, and contemporary, realistic issues that every man and woman have had to face at some point in time. Kimberly Stuart develops each character with their own, unique blend of quirkiness, and then intertwines their lives in such creative ways that the reader must keep the pages turning at a rather rapid clip to discover what becomes of their lives. There are Amish characters in the book, by the way, but not in any role that you’ve ever seen them placed within. That fact alone adds a bold, unique feel to this story amid everything I’ve been reading lately. I cannot begin to tell you the number of times I laughed out loud, giggled, cried and just simply sighed when I read the truth of the human condition so creatively captured in this story.


The truth in this story? Well, there are many truths about the human heart that will touch you. My favorite? Probably this one on page 213: “You cry or pout or laugh or whatever you must about what needs to be let go. And then let go. Never try to run the world. Only a God of bottomless grace can pull off a feat like that.” The journey that the reader takes until this point is one you won’t soon forget. This tender, funny story will linger in your heart for a very long time.


Bravo! Kimberly Stuart! Bravo!!

ABOUT THE BOOK



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



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



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



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



Watch the book video trailer:



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Don't Give Up! by Gary Hoffman - REVIEWED


Don't Give Up! is a book for men searching for answers to their marital challenges. It's apractical guide to surviving and growing through a marriage crisis. Inspired by the experiences of men in marital crises, Don't Give Up! is not another book written by a psychologist or professional marriage counselor. It draws on the first-hand experiences of men who have been to the edge and survived.

Everywhere in America-from the historic hallways of Washington, D.C., to corporate offices on Wall Street, to households in Small Town, Oregon-there are men struggling to figure out what's gone wrong in their marriages. What happened to that glowing bride who could hardly wait to start calling herself Mrs. Him? These men are discovering that marriage does not just happen, but that it must be worked at, hard, every day. There is no autopilot setting. They are more than a little stunned to find out there is much to learn about women, themselves, and how to identify their purpose in life. They are irritated, frustrated, angry, and generally unfulfilled in life. Unlike the vast majority of marriage books, Don't Give Up! gives them permission to feel the pain and frustration in every day life, with a plan for setting actions into motion that will help them grow in their relationships -in their marriages and in all areas of life.

Don't Give Up! starts by helping the reader analyze the current state of his marriage and then teaches him to sit down, listen, andhear his wife, even if he doesn't agree with her. Until he honestly hears the problem from her point of view, he can't move forward. At the same time he is striving to understand his wife better, the book encourages the reader to begin taking baby steps of personal growth in his life. "Begin today," the book challenges him. "Work through your anger, frustrations, and resentments, and discover a healthier, more balanced godly life."


My Thoughts:

Don’t Give Up! is a timely book by Gary Hoffman. If you, or someone you know, is facing marital crisis, please read or share a copy of this book today!! Hoffman takes an honest look at marriage and the problems that often arise, and then gives sound scriptural guidance how to approach and find workable solutions to the problem. Hoffman does not speak as an observer, but as a man who has lived through and successfully survived his own marital crisis.

Satan is determined to destroy today’s families, and he will stop at nothing in order to succeed. Rather than bow down beneath the weight of the trials, Hoffman encourages folks to get close to God, draw wisdom from His word and strength for the day. He believed that Christians can, with God’s help, survive marital crisis and come out stronger on the other side.

This is an awesome book, and one that I highly recommend!

About the book:

Don't Give Up! Unexpected Answers to Marital Challenges, by Gary Hoffman

ISBN: 978-0984542109

Publisher: CreateSpace.com

Date of publish: December 2010

Pages: 150

S.R.P.: $12.98

About the author:

Gary Hoffman is a marital crisis survivor and leader of the Men On The Edge Ministry at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. Out of the ashes of his own marital struggle in 1994, he discovered his life purpose-to educate and mentor men across the nation who are struggling to understand their role as husbands. For nearly 20 years he has been leading men's groups of various kinds. Additionally, Hoffman authored Sixteen Basic Principles for a Separated Man in Marital Crisis, and is publishing Leadership Secrets to Success for Small Group Leadership-ninety-five suggestions on how to lead, guide, and grow a ministry team or small group in a healthy manner, available in the spring of 2011. Gary Hoffman currently speaks at retreats and mentors men in a weekly support group format at Saddleback Church using material contained in Don't Give Up!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones



This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Save The Date
Thomas Nelson (February 1, 2011)
by
Jenny B. Jones




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



I write Christian fiction with a few giggles, quite a bit of sass, and lots of crazy. My novels include the Katie Parker Production series and So Not Happening. I would also like to take credit for Twilight , but somewhere I think I read you’re not supposed to lie.



When I’m not typing my heart out (or checking email), I teach at a super-sized high school in Arkansas.



My students are constantly telling me how my teaching changes their lives and turned them away from drugs, gangs, and C-SPAN.



Okay, that’s not exactly true.



Some facts that are true include:



I've always been refined!



A. I got my camera confiscated by big boys with guns at the American Embassy in Europe this past summer. O la la!



B. I once worked in a seed mill office and cleaned out mice on a regular basis. Ew.



C. I’m a former drama teacher.



D. I didn’t pass my drivers test the first time. Or the second…



E. I attract stray animals like a magnet.



F. I used to assemble and test paint ball guns for a local factory...



Since my current job leaves me with very little free time, I believe in spending my spare hours in meaningful, intellectual pursuits such as:



-watching E!

-updating my status on Facebook

-catching Will Ferrell on YouTube and

-writing my name in the dust on my furniture



I’d love to hear about you, so drop me a note. Or check me out on Facebook.





ABOUT THE BOOK



You’re invited to the engagement of the most unlikely couple of the year.

When the funding for Lucy’s non-profit job is pulled, she is determined to find out why. Enter Alex Sinclair, former professional football star and heir of Sinclair Enterprises—the primary donor to Lucy’s Saving Grace organization. Alex Sinclair has it all . . . except for the votes he needs to win his bid for Congress. Both Lucy and Alex have something the other wants. Despite their mutual dislike, Alex makes Lucy a proposition: pose as his fiancée in return for the money she desperately needs. Bound to a man who isn’t quite what he seems, Lucy finds her heart – and her future – on the line.



Save the Date is a spunky romance that will have readers laughing out loud as this dubious pair try to save their careers, their dreams . . . and maybe even a date.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Save The Date, go HERE

Friday, February 18, 2011

Essentials of the Heart by Susan Weagant - REVIEWED

Susan, you and your husband serve as Christian Camp missionaries. Share with us how this ministry-focus came about and how it influenced the writing of your
book.



My husband and I have been missionary supported at Camp Peniel since 1992. The word Peniel comes from the Bible in Genesis 32:30 where Jacob wrestled with an angel. He named that place Peniel because he said that he had seen God face to face and his life had been preserved.


The man who started Camp Peniel had a desire that anyone who came would experience God face to face, either by coming to know Him as their Savior or growing in their walk with Him.


Many spiritual turning points in my life happened at Camp Peniel. Decisions that impacted my spiritual life the most were made at that place. Those decisions and disciplines that I learned there are what has influenced my book the most. It is for that reason that a portion of the proceeds will go to Camp Peniel’s scholarship program.


I understand Essentials of the Heart is blessing both men and women. Did you consider the impact it would have on men when you wrote it? What are they saying about it?


I was blindsided by this one. I speak to women’s ministries; so, my audience is women. One day my friend came to me to apologize for not reading my book that she got a month earlier. I told her that she didn’t need to apologize for that, but she insisted to tell me why.


Her husband had picked up the book and started reading it. She did not want to take it from him until he was finished, but it was taking a long time. (It is a small book so it shouldn’t take him that long.) He finally came to her and told her to go buy two more books because he wanted to give them to his adult sons for Christmas.


I was floored that he would enjoy it so much that he would want his adult sons to read it, too.


Essentials of the Heart is divided into two parts, Decisions and Disciplines. What is the significance of this?


“He has made everything beautiful in its time; He also has planted eternity in men’s heart and mind [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun, but only God, can satisfy]…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, AMP) What that means to you and me is this: God created us with a sense of eternity in our hearts and mind. We know that there is more to this life than the here and now. We sense it deep within us. The only thing that can bring lasting fulfillment to you and me is our relationship with God and growing in that relationship. That is what has brought me the greatest fulfillment in my life, and it starts with heart “Decisions”, which is the first section of the book. The next section is “Disciplines”. These are daily practices, which are necessary to grow in the Lord.


So the first Essential of the Heart is the decision we make personally for eternity … accepting Christ as our Savior. You list several more Decisions we need to make such as: Who do we want our life to count for, a Decision to Trust, a Decision to Build Intimacy, etc. I’d like for us to look at the issue of Trust. You explain though we often use the words trust and faith interchangeably, we first need to understand what they mean. Could you shed some light on this?


The word trust, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is an assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. Faith according to the Bible is this: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV). The Greek word for faith in the New Testament is pistis, which is a firm persuasion or conviction based on hearing according to Strong’s Dictionary.


If you look at all the definitions, that will give you a better picture of faith. It is important what you base your hope on in this life. Here is my definition of faith. Faith is a firm conviction of hope based on God’s character, God’s ability, God’s strength, and God’s truth when I can’t see what lies ahead. When I base my hope on God’s character and God’s Word, it is then that my faith will grow.


If someone would like to have you speak at their event, how can they contact you?


They can go to my website, SusanWeagant.com, for information on my speaking ministry.


I know your book is blessing individuals. Can Essentials of the Heart be used for a group study?


There is a pdf file of study questions for each chapter on my website and it is free to download.

My Thoughts:
This book came to me at a time when my heart was in desperate need of encouragement, hope and renewal. This book isn't large in size nor is it so deep spiritually that it cannot be clearly understood. This book is REAL...as Susan Weagant shares her heart and the way God is working in her life through circumstances that are sometimes difficult to understand. I cannot say enough about this precious book! My copy is filled with highlights, notes and scripture references! If you, or someone you know is in need of scriptural encouragement and hope, please give them a copy of this book! It will mean the world to a hurting heart!



I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author's interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speaker Services.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes - Reviewed!


About the Book: (from the publisher)

By virtue of her profession as a midwife, Tabitha Eckles is the keeper of many secrets. Dominick Cherrett is a man with his own secret to keep: namely, why he, a British aristocrat, is on American soil working as an indentured servant.


In a time when relations between America and England rest on the edge of a knife, Tabitha and Dominick cross paths, leading them on a journey of intrigue, threats, public disgrace, and . . . love. But can Tabitha trust Dominick? Finding true love seems impossible in a world set against them.


With stirring writing that draws you directly into the story, Lady in the Mist takes you on the thrilling ride of love's discovery.


My Thoughts:

“Loss makes the soul sick.” (p 87)


Tabitha Eckles and Dominick Cherrett have both suffered great loss in their lives. Tabitha has decided that she no longer has use for a God who has taken so much from her life, and Dominick’s faith is struggling to accept his indentured status in the home of the mayor. When they collide – quite by accident – their lives seem to be inadvertently joined by an entire series of events quite beyond their control. Neither of them can deny the attraction for the other in their hearts, but they both fight valiantly against their feelings as they try to sort out their confusing life circumstances.


Set in Virginia in the early 1800’s, Lady in the Mist is a story that grabs the reader’s interest from the very first chapter. Suspicious behavior, strangers on the beach, press gangs, disappearing men, false accusations…and don’t forget the emotional storm of budding romance…all of this woven into a cast of intriguing characters that are trying to do the best they can under very trying circumstances. The suspense is increased by subtle increments as the reader gets to know the characters, and you find yourself totally engaged in the story and swept away to another time and place all together.


I love books that can cause me to lose all sense of time and place as I’m pulled into the story. I also enjoy discovering new authors, and Laurie Alice Eakes is new to me. I’m so glad to know that Lady in the Mist is the first book in The Midwives series! I’m also glad that I didn’t have to deliver children back in the 1800’s! This is a fascinating tale filled with suspense and romance, and I am happy to recommend it to you!



About the Author:

The role of midwives in history began to fascinate Laurie Alice Eakes in graduate school and she knew that someday she wanted to write novels with midwife heroines. Ten years later, after several published novels and a National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency, the midwives idea returned, and Lady in the Mist was born. Laurie Alice has a masters degree in creative writing and now writes full time from her home in Texas, where she lives with her husband and sundry dogs and cats.

Words by Ginny Yttrup



This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Words
B&H Books (February 1, 2011)
by
Ginny Yttrup




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Ginny Yttrup is an author, freelance writer, and writing coach. As she writes, speaks, and coaches, her prayer is that God will use her words to replace the lies so many believe about themselves with the truth of His unconditional love and grace. To see someone grasp, perhaps for the first time, the truth of God's love, is truly an honor. Through a relationship with the Truth, Jesus Christ, the bonds of shame are loosed and freedom abounds!



When Ginny is not working, she loves spending time with her two college-age sons or with friends. She is surrounded by the most amazing people--each a gift in their own way. If she can spend time outdoors with those she love, it's even better. And she thoroughly adores her dog, Bear. He's a book lover too.



She has two grown sons and lives near Sacramento, California. Words is her first novel.



ABOUT THE BOOK



"I collect words. I keep them in a box in my mind. I'd like to keep them in a real box, something pretty, maybe a shoe box covered with flowered wrapping paper. Whenever I wanted, I'd open the box and pick up the papers, reading and feeling the words all at once. Then I could hide the box. But the words are safer in my mind. There, he can't take them."



Ten-year old Kaylee Wren doesn't speak. Not since her drug-addled mother walked away, leaving her in a remote cabin nestled in the towering redwoods-in the care of a man who is as dangerous as he is evil. With silence her only refuge, Kaylee collects words she might never speak from the only memento her mother left behind: a dictionary.



Sierra Dawn is thirty-four, an artist, and alone. She has allowed the shame of her past to silence her present hopes and chooses to bury her pain by trying to control her circumstances. But on the twelfth anniversary of her daughter's death, Sierra's control begins to crumble as the God of her childhood woos her back to Himself.



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



Watch the book trailer video:



Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lone Star Intrigue by Debra White Smith - REVIEWED

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




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



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



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





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

My Thoughts:
I didn't realize this was a two-book story until I started reading. (not paying attention!) And, to my knowledge, this is the first time I've ever read Debra White Smith's work. If you like modern romance with a healthy dose of suspense - I'd call it a "cozy" mystery - then you will find much to like in Smith's work. The stories are based on two brothers - Jack and Sonny Mansfield. Jack is the featured character in Texas Heat and Sonny is in the midst of things in Texas Pursuit. Both men find themselves in circumstances that could work for ill or good, but God determines their paths, and He is glorified despite the trials that face them.

Smith's stories aren't what I'd call nail-biting suspense, but she creates believable characters, with believable problems and uses those circumstances to show God's goodness in all of our lives.

I'm happy to recommend Lone Star Intrigue to you!



ABOUT THE BOOK



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



Read the two stories...



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



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



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



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

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

10 Lies Men Believe by J. Lee Grady - Review

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


10 Lies Men Believe

Charisma House (February 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


J. Lee Grady is contributing editor for Charisma. He was the magazine's editor for 11 years. He has been involved in Christian journalism since 1981. A native of Atlanta, he has been with Charisma since 1992, serving as news editor, managing editor, and then becoming editor in 1999. Lee's book 10 Lies the Church Tells Women, published in 2000, opened a unique door for him to preach internationally. He has since traveled to 12 nations, challenging the church to release women in ministry and to end abuse and gender discrimination. He and his wife, Deborah, have four daughters.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

10 Lies Men Believe is a compassionate but confrontational look at the reasons why so many Christian men today are in serious crisis. The author, who has spent eight years confronting the abuse of women in more than twenty countries, believes men are failing in marriage, fatherhood, friendships, and careers because of ten wrong mind-sets inherited from culture. With gut-level honesty, the author offers practical answers for men who struggle with a variety of issues, including addiction, abusive tendencies, pornography, controlling behavior, and emotional problems rooted in a lack of proper fathering. The book is also an excellent resource for women who are suffering because of mistreatment by the men in their lives.

My Thoughts:
This book seems to be written more toward non-christian's or baby christians as some issues brought up in the book are things saved people who are in the word would already know. However, there are some POWERFUL and very real issues addressed in this book that pertain to all men and their relationships with other people and toward God. This is a book that bears consideration for everyone that doesn't wish to be caught unawares by the temptations and cultural pitfalls that today's Christian men face in all areas of their lives. The tone of the book is very direct and blunt at times, but it is all the more powerful for that reason.


Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Charisma House (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 161638137X
ISBN-13: 978-1616381370



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


contents

Foreword by Napoleon Kaufman

xi

Introduction: Have You Been Brainwashed?

1

Lie #1: God made men superior to women.

13

Lie #2: A man cannot be close to his father.

29

Lie #3: A real man is defined by material success.

49

Lie #4: A man is the ultimate “boss” of his family.

69

Lie #5: Sex is primarily for the man’s enjoyment, not the woman’s.

85

Lie #6: It’s OK for a man to hit or abuse a woman.

99

Lie #7: Real men don’t need close male friendships.

113

ix

Lie #8: A man should never admit his weaknesses.

135

Lie #9: Real men don’t cry.

155

Lie #10: A man should never receive spiritual ministry from a woman.

169

Conclusion: The Journey From Wimp to Warrior

187

Appendix: Every Man’s Secret to Spiritual Power

195

Notes

201 The relationship between the male and the female is by nature such that the male is higher, the female lower, that the male rules and the female is ruled.1

—Aristotle, in Politica

One hundred women are not worth a single testicle.2

—Confucius

It is only males who are created directly by the gods and are given souls. Those who live rightly return to the stars, but those who are “cowards” or [lead unrighteous lives] may with reason be supposed to have changed into the nature of women in the second generation.3

—Plato, in timaeus

Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made
some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their
property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the
unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part
you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in
the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not
seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.4


—The Quran, 4:34

Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast not made me a woman.5

—Ancient prayer of Jewish rabbis

The souls of women are so small, that some believe they’ve none at all.6

—Samuel Butler, English poet


10 LIES


Lie #1

God Made Man Superior to Women.

Millions of women around the world are subjected to the horror of male domination. They are gang-raped in Latin America, their genitals are mutilated in parts of Africa, they are forced to wear burkas in Afghanistan, they are sold as sex slaves in Thailand, and they are denied education in India. Yet most of us westerners are oblivious to this cruel injustice. It’s out of sight, out of mind.

But in 2009 a movie that exposed the cruel abuse of women in Iran hit theaters just a few weeks after Iran’s authoritarian government came under international scrutiny. The Stoning of Soraya M. is based on a book written by French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam.7 It tells the true story of a woman named Zahra, who is distraught because the men of her village—she defiantly calls them “devils”—have killed her niece, Soraya.8

Through flashbacks we learn that Soraya’s immoral husband decided to put her away so he could marry a fourteen-year-old girl. When Soraya dares to defy her husband’s scheme, he trumps up false adultery charges against her with the help of the local Islamic mullah. Zahra tries to stop the madness, but in the end the villagers commit

13


the Islamic version of a lynching. Along the way we learn how militant the antiwoman attitudes are in this part of the world.

“Women now have no voices,” Zahra says at one point. We see how Iran’s women, under the regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini, were forced to live in prisons of silence and were valued only as sex objects and domestic servants.

The worst part of the movie’s twenty-minute stoning sequence is the way young men in the village click their rocks together while they wait for the signal to kill.

Why does this kind of madness still happen in the twenty-first century? I have seen it up close since I began confronting the abuse of women in 2001. I’ve traveled to more than twenty-four countries to conduct conferences and seminars, and I have interviewed many “Zahras” from every continent. I now carry a heavy burden for these women, and for the men who abuse them. Here are just a few of the statistics we know about this ignored issue.

Around the world, at least one in three women will be
beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused during her
lifetime.9


In Latin America, the culture of machismo, or institutionalized male pride, has resulted in a dangerously low
view of women. A report released in 2009 by the United
Nations says up to 40 percent of women throughout Latin
America have been victims of physical violence.10


Forced prostitution, trafficking for sex, and sex tourism
are growing problems in many parts of the world. Each
year, an estimated 800,000 people are trafficked across
borders. Eighty percent of these are women and girls,
according to the United Nations Population Fund
(UNPF). Most of them end up trapped in the commercial
sex trade. (This figure does not include the substantial



number of women and girls who are bought and sold within their own countries.)11

According to the UNPF, the greatest number of victims is believed to come from Asia (about 250,000 per year), the former Soviet Union (about 100,000), and from Central and Eastern Europe (about 175,000).12 An estimated 100,000 trafficked women have come from Latin America and the Caribbean, with more than 50,000 from Africa.13

In Asia, at least sixty million girls are “missing” due to prenatal sex selection, infanticide, or neglect.14 In China, where young couples are only allowed to have one child, orphanages are overrun with infant girls, because boys are preferred. Baby girls are often thrown into rivers, left on doorsteps, or abandoned in forests.

Female genital mutilation affects an estimated 130 million women and girls, mostly in Africa. Each year, two million more undergo the barbaric practice.15 In most cases, a girl is forced around age twelve to undergo the cutting away of her clitoris so that she cannot feel sexual pleasure. Often this causes serious urinary problems as well as infections.

Violence against women also takes the form of other harmful practices, such as child marriage and dowry-related violence (especially in India), acid burning (in some Muslim nations), and abandonment of widows.16

In many Islamic countries, women die from what is known as “honor killings.” If a woman dares to disagree with her husband or even shows a hint of disrespect, her husband and other male relatives (and sometimes her mother) will drag her into the street, bury her up to her waist in dirt, and then stone her in broad daylight.


Although this practice is illegal, it is estimated that there

are five thousand such killings every year.17

Guatemala has the highest rate of unsolved murders
of women in the world. A report released in 2005 by
Amnesty International showed that murders of women
climbed to 560 in that year, yet not one murderer was
convicted. In many cases, the women victims are tortured
or their bodies are mutilated. Often their bodies are
dumped in the streets.18


In South Africa, older men who have contracted the AIDS virus believe that if they have sex with a young virgin they will be cured of the disease.19 So they actually search for young girls to serve as their “wives,” and they buy them from their poor parents. Needless to say, many of these innocent girls do not survive.


It’s easy to read statistics like this and just push them aside. After all, we don’t know these people, and we feel powerless to help them. But after I began traveling and speaking on this issue I began to match actual names and faces with these abstract numbers. Suddenly I began to feel the personal pain of the women and girls involved. Because I am a husband and the father of four daughters, I began to see these abused women in a different light. I identified with them. And my heart broke.

In Kochi, India, a desperate woman came to a house where I was having lunch. She was afraid to talk to me, so she spoke with the pastor’s wife, who was hosting our meal. This woman’s husband had just dragged her to a river and dunked her under the water repeatedly. He threatened to drown her until she promised to go to her parents and request more dowry money. She was risking her life to talk about the abuse because most women in India suffer silently. They consider it disrespectful to discuss family problems openly.

In Kampala, Uganda, a nineteen-year-old college student asked if she could meet with me in the church along with her pastor. Because I openly talked about sex abuse in a sermon, she mustered the courage to share her shameful secret: two male cousins had violated her when she was only thirteen. They took her to the countryside and told her they were going to ride horses, but when they arrived at their destination, both boys raped her repeatedly. When she threatened to tell their parents, one boy retorted, “They will never believe you. Girls are always the guilty ones.”

In Port Harcourt, Nigeria, I met a twenty-four-year-old woman who came to me in tears. Her Christian father and mother had a happy family of four daughters. Yet her father decided to divorce his wife after all the girls were grown. The reason? Because this woman had not given him a son. “Nigerian men think it is the wife’s duty to give them a boy,” the distraught daughter explained. “They don’t even realize it is the sperm of the man that determines the gender of the child.”

In Nairobi, Kenya, a tired-looking woman asked me for prayer at the altar of a church. She had not been sleeping much. She said her husband regularly visited prostitutes, but sometimes he also demanded sex from her even though she was afraid he would infect her with the AIDS virus. Often he forced himself on her anyway; if she locked the bedroom door, he kicked it open.

In Kiev, Ukraine—a city known for its mafia-run prostitution rings—I spoke to a conference of three thousand women about the healing Jesus Christ offers to victims of sex abuse. When I opened the altars for women to receive prayer, almost every woman in the auditorium tried to crowd to the front. A Ukrainian woman later told me, “Most women here have been abused like that.”

In La Paz, Bolivia, I spent many days ministering to the poor, indigenous people of that nation. I saw countless women on the streets of the city selling candy, cigarettes, stationery, and soft drinks from small wooden stands while their young children crawled on the dirty sidewalks or sat on mats behind their crude kiosks. The women’s husbands were nowhere to be found. I later learned that many Bolivian men force their wives to work in the streets while they stay home all day to drink alcohol. These women have a popular saying that everyone in Bolivia knows by heart: “Cuanto m‡s me pega, m‡s me ama.” This means, “The more [my husband] beats me, the more he loves me.”

And in Monterrey, Mexico, an articulate woman pastor pulled me aside after I had spoken about domestic violence at a conference. She wanted to tell me the unthinkable. “Every month I go to the hospital to visit a pastor’s wife,” she whispered, as if she was afraid someone might overhear. “Pastors are beating their wives. The problem is not just in the secular culture. It is also in the church!”

After hearing these kinds of stories from women all over the world, I decided I could not sit on my hands or close my ears. I went on the warpath against the oppression of women. I began to write about it, preach about it, and mobilize churches to confront it. I sponsored women’s conferences, men’s conferences, and pastor’s conferences so I could hit the issue from all sides.

I also realized that this violence won’t stop until men forcefully oppose it. I now believe that this is one mark of a true man: he stands up against all forms of social oppression—including this horrible sin of abuse and gender discrimination. Real men don’t put down women. Real men fight for them. Our mothers, sisters, and daughters need us to speak out. They have suffered long enough.

let’s talk about it

1. Were you already aware of this problem of violence against women? How did you learn about it?

2. How do these statistics about gender-based violence make you feel?

3. Is there something you can do to address this problem in your own church, community, or elsewhere?


a BiBlical View oF GendeR

One of the main reasons there is such pervasive violence against women is that men believe they are superior. We have several terms for this attitude. Some call it chauvinism, a word derived from the name of a French soldier, Nicolas Chauvin, who was fanatically loyal to Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon himself was the ultimate chauvinist. He once said, “Nature intended women to be our slaves. They are our property.”

In Latin America, this attitude is called machismo, and it is promoted not only by authoritarian men but also by women who teach their sons that they are superior to women. Chauvinism is also known as a patriarchal mind-set—and it includes the idea that only men can lead and that women were created only to have babies and serve men.

Ultimately, male pride has its roots in the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve disobeyed God and the world came under the curse of sin. Before the Fall, Adam and Eve enjoyed a perfect, intimate partnership without any shame or dysfunction in their relationship. After the Fall, the man began to dominate the woman, and her life became more painful. Adam blamed his wife for being deceived, even though he willingly chose to rebel against God. The Lord said this to the woman in Genesis 3:16:

To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain

in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your

desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

You don’t have to look far to see Genesis 3:16 at work in the world. In every culture on Earth, especially those where the gospel of Jesus Christ has never been preached, women suffer under the domination of men.

If you examine the world’s religions, you will find that all of them except Christianity denigrate women and place them at severe disadvantage. In Islamic cultures, especially where Sharia law is enforced, women have no civil rights and are not even allowed to drive cars. In Hindu cultures, women suffer unimaginable discrimination; for centuries, in fact, a Hindu wife whose husband died was expected to commit suicide by jumping into his funeral pyre. In Mormonism, women whose “celestial marriages” are sealed in temple ceremonies are told that the only way they can attain eternal salvation is if they have babies.

Christianity offers a unique and revolutionary message of empowerment to women, and the Bible calls men to treat women as equals. Jesus Christ, who showed amazing compassion to women during His earthly ministry and who called women to be His followers, canceled the painful reality of Genesis 3:16. I like to preach that Genesis 3:16 was canceled by John 3:16! When Christ came into the world as the Father’s only begotten Son to save us, He made a way for men to be delivered from their pride and for women to be healed from violence and abuse.

Of course, Christian leaders themselves have not always walked in total deliverance from male pride. The church has not always reflected the heart of Christ. Some leaders, even today, impose their own gender biases and errant interpretations of Scripture—and this has led to much pain in the lives of Christian women around the world. That’s why it is so important for us to go back to Scripture and recover what the Bible actually says on this issue, rather than parroting religious traditions that were passed down to us.

Here are seven important truths about gender that have been clearly articulated in Scripture. You must allow the Word of God to renew your mind. These principles will help liberate you from the heavy yoke of male pride.

1. Men and women were created by God with equal value.

The first account of Creation in Genesis 1 says God created both the male and the female in the divine image. Genesis 1:26–27 says:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

In ancient Greece, philosophers such as Aristotle and others believed the male was created from the divine matter of the gods, while the female was created from inferior animal matter. The Judeo-Christian view of gender is in stark contrast to the pagan Greek mind-set. In the very first chapter in the Bible we see that men and women are created as equals.

The word picture that is painted in this passage is of two equal partners standing side by side. Then, in the Genesis 2 description of Eve’s creation, we are told that she was taken from Adam’s side. It is worth noting that God did not take the woman from his head (so that she would rule over him) or from his feet (so that he would rule over her). God’s intention for marriage was always for intimacy, affection, and partnership.

2. In their original perfection, the man and woman were both given authority.

Even some Christians believe that women can never have spiritual authority. Yet throughout Scripture, in both Old and New Testaments, we see that God anointed certain women with leadership gifts. Genesis 1:28 says:

God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

The word subdue in this passage is the Hebrew word kabash, which means “to subdue, dominate, tread down.” Women are called to do this also! This was always God’s plan: that men and women would rule together to advance His kingdom.

Of course, Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden created a huge setback. But when Christ came and paid the full price for our sins, He made full restoration possible. Now, because of His redemption, men and women can walk in divine authority once more.

3. God never intended for women to be viewed as appendages or as servants to men.

The woman is referred to in Genesis 2:18 as the man’s “helper” (or “help meet” in the King James Version). What does that word mean? If we have chauvinism in our hearts, we might be tempted to believe that God gave the woman to Adam simply so she could pick up his socks, fix his dinner, and meet his sexual needs whenever he pleased.

But actually the word helper does not imply subservience or inferiority. If anything, the passage shows that the man was totally incomplete without the woman—and that he could not fulfill his divine mission without her. The passage says:

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be

alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”

This word helper comes from the Hebrew word ezer, a term that actually refers to God more than fifteen times in the Old Testament! Of course we know that God is our helper, but we would never think of Him as inferior to us. Neither should we think of women as inferior or second-class just because Eve was created after Adam. (After all, Adam was created after God made all the animals, but we don’t consider man inferior to animals!)

4. God does not value boys over girls, so neither should we.

In many cultures in the world girls are at a huge disadvantage. In India, for example, many families choose abortion if an ultrasound shows the unborn baby is female. In many cultures males are considered more valuable because they will grow up and be more financially productive. But this is not how God views girls.

In the Book of Numbers, we read about five women who were the daughters of a man named Zelophehad. This man had died with no male heirs, and the traditions of Israel said that a man with only daughters would leave no land rights to his family. However, when these women came to Moses to protest, Moses asked God what to do. Numbers 27:6–7 says:

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “The daughters of Zelophehad are right in their statements. You shall surely give them a hereditary possession among their father’s brothers, and you shall transfer the inheritance of their father to them.”

That one moment changed the course of life among the children of Israel. God contradicted the patriarchal traditions of the day and ruled in favor of the daughters of Zelophehad. He made it clear that women do indeed have equal value in His eyes.

5. Jesus Christ modeled a completely different approach to women than that of the religious leaders of His time.

When He began His ministry, Jesus challenged the religious and cultural rules of a male-dominated culture. While other rabbis believed it was improper to teach women the Bible, Jesus called his disciple Mary to sit at His feet. While other religious leaders refused to go near bleeding women, Jesus healed one. While the Pharisees shunned Samaritans and divorced women, Jesus had compassion on the Samaritan divorcée and commissioned her to be an evangelist.

Jesus’s approach to ministry was radical for His time. If a Jewish leader saw a woman coming down the street, he would typically get on the other side of the street to avoid her. Yet Jesus went out of His way to befriend women, even those who were the outcasts of society. He also allowed a group of women to travel with His entourage (Luke 8:1–3), and those same women became the first witnesses of His resurrection—in a time when women were not even allowed to testify in a court of law

6. The New Testament calls men to treat women as equals.

In the first century, marriage was a painful prison for most women. Husbands viewed their wives as property. Women had no right to seek a divorce, and there was no protection from violence. Yet to this male-dominated culture the apostle Paul wrote the epistle to the Ephesians, which contains the most revolutionary description of marriage ever penned. Paul explains that marriage is not a hierarchy but a partnership that celebrates equality, tender intimacy, and unity of heart. He gave husbands these instructions in Ephesians 5:25 and 28:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her....So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself.

Paul also challenged the Corinthian church with another radical idea about marriage. He told them that men and women have equal authority over each other’s bodies when it comes to sex. This concept cut deep at the heart of a patriarchal culture, because men believed they had the right to demand sex from their wives whenever they wanted. Paul said:

The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

—1 Corinthians 7:3–4

This passage offers the essence of New Testament teaching on marriage. Clearly, if God desires an attitude of mutual submission and equality in the sexual area, which lies at the very core of a man and woman’s relationship, then He also desires that husbands and wives treat each other with the same attitude in every other area of life.

7. The Holy Spirit empowers both men and women for ministry.

When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the early church on the Day of Pentecost, both the male and female followers of Christ were together in the Upper Room. The Bible says a flame of God’s fire rested on each person. It does not say that the men had blue flames, while the women had pink flames. The same holy power came upon men and women alike.

After that dramatic encounter, both men and women began to preach the gospel with power. Philip the evangelist had four daughters who were prophets (Acts 21:9). A married couple, Priscilla and Aquila, traveled with Paul and taught the Word of God (Acts 18:24– 26). Paul commended a woman minister named Phoebe because she was a powerful deacon of the church (Rom. 16:1–2).

Throughout Paul’s writings he makes it clear that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not given to people based on gender, race, or financial status. God anoints whomever He wills. Nowhere in Scripture are spiritual gifts linked to gender. In fact, Paul told the Galatians:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free

man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in

Christ Jesus.

—Galatians 3:28

Under the old covenant, only Jewish males from the tribe of Levi who were between the ages of twenty-five and fifty could serve as priests in the tabernacle. But all that changed after Jesus came. Because of His death on the cross and because of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, all restrictions related to age, class, race, and gender were removed. Today, Christ has a new “holy priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:9) that is made up of both men and women from every language, tribe, and nation.

let’s talk about it

1. How do you explain why there is so much violence and abuse toward women in the world? Is there a spiritual root to this issue?

2. What did God mean when He called Eve a “helper”? Have you ever treated your wife or women in general, as inferior?

3. What do you think it means to love your wife “as Christ loves the church”?

4. Secular feminists sometimes angrily demand women’s rights and use crude language to describe men. How does this form of angry feminism differ from a biblical view of gender equality?

5. The apostle Paul had many women on his ministry team, such as Phoebe, Priscilla, Euodia, and Syntyche. Yet he seemed to limit women at times, such as when he told them to be quiet in church (1 Cor. 14:34–35). How do you explain that?


let’s Pray about it

Father, I don’t want any chauvinism or male pride in my heart. Please break my hard heart. Forgive me for any time I have mistreated my wife or other women. I want to have the heart of Christ, who showed respect, dignity, and compassion for women and recognized their equality. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Valentine's Message from Jamie Carie - THIS IS NEAT!!

30 Day Marriage Makeover by Doug Weiss - Review

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:




and the book:



30-Day Marriage Makeover

Siloam (February 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva Publicity Coordinator, Book Group Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Douglas Weiss, PhD, is the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The author of Intimacy, The Seven Love Agreements, and Sex, Men, and God, he is a regular guest on national television (both secular and Christian) as well as radio.



Visit the author's website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Based on principles from his best-selling book Intimacy, Dr. Doug Weiss offers thirty daily teachings for married Christian couples that will help them discover what true intimacy looks like, learn how to overcome the five main roadblocks to intimacy, and help them fall in love all over again.

My thoughts:
This is a book worth its weight in gold. If you are struggling in your marriage for any reason, this book contains lots of practical ways to restore intimacy, relationship and a solid spiritual foundation for your marriage. With lots of information, loving challenges and practical excersises, if you commit to working through this book with your spouse, I know God will transform your marriage. I highly recommend this book.


Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Siloam (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 161638140X
ISBN-13: 978-1616381400

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask

for, it will be done for you by my "ather in heaven. "or where

two or three come together in my name, there am ! with them.

—Matthew 18:19–20


Throughout my years of counseling, I have discovered that many marriages lack structures to encourage intimacy. We grow up believing that one day we will get married and live happily ever after. We enter marriage ill equipped for intimacy and are disappointed when our husband or wife doesn’t possess the secret code to intimacy either.


At first marriage is fun as you begin to learn about your spouse, go to work or school, get your first apartment, pick out furniture, go to church, and are physically intimate together without guilt. The sheer complexities of your new life together, along with the many new decisions you must make, can keep you talking and sharing regularly. Slowly and subtly it happens. No one really knows when or where it happens, but something changes within the relationship. You don’t seem to talk as much.


Decisions are not met with the same excitement as when you were first married; instead, they are delegated, then discussed. Purchases become fewer, and sex and life take on a routine. You don’t feel as close but seem just to be living together. What happened? Where did the passion for one another go? Americans believe that people are either passionate or they are not. But this kind of thinking is incorrect. Passion is a dividend of consistent investments made into a relationship. Let’s reflect back a minute to when you were dating. You were selling your spouse on the idea that being married to you was a great idea. Remember the passion you had for your future spouse? Of course you remember the passion, but what you may have forgotten is the foundation of that passion, the priority of the relationship. Do you remember how you “made” time to be together? You planned your days and weeks around each other’s work schedule, including your days off. Those of you who were attending school in another city away from your future spouse, as I was, had the phone bills to prove your passion and priority. In my case, those phone bills took a giant bite out of the little income I made just so I could tell her about my day. If you were a Christian at the time, do you remember how spiritual you were? You prayed together as often as you could and perhaps even read the Bible together. You desired to know God’s will, and you wanted God to help you stay pure and still express your love to one another. Do you remember the gratitude you had for the smallest things your spouse did for you? ,is was especially true for me when Lisa cooked for me. I was so grateful! I 5lled her life with a constant stream of praise. Do you remember when you thought she was so smart and attractive and had so much potential? You believed in her and regularly encouraged her.


Understand that passion is a result of setting priorities. Too many people attempt to get back the passion instead of getting back their priorities. Once you get the priorities back, the passion follows and grows

naturally. What priorities? I will discuss priorities shortly, but before I do, I want to share an analogy I often use in counseling sessions. Many couples come in for help with sprains or fractures in their relationships. I liken the repair of a marital relationship to 5xing a broken bone. When your bone is broken, you can continue to function in a limited way, but you look and act unusual. When you go to the doctor or emergency room. The first thing the doctor does is order an X-ray of the bone. Sure enough, he looks at the structure. Regardless of how it happened, the X-ray shows a damaged structure (your bone is broken). The doctor and nurse apply a structural treatment to your structural problem in the form of a cast. The cast is a structural treatment that allows the bone to heal. The cast itself is just plastic or plaster, and it has no healing properties. But when it is applied to a broken bone to hold the bone in place, surprise! Healing can and does happen. The same thing happens when you place the priorities back into your

marriage. No matter how sprained or broken a marriage is, healing can and does take place. I have seen genuine miracles of restoration in marriages when priorities were put back into the relationship. One of

the structures I apply is what I call “the three dailies.” I want to add a personal note of testimony. As I have stated before, I would never ask you to do something that Lisa and I have not done or are not doing presently in our relationship. Lisa and I have done two of the three dailies every day for years, with only a few exceptions. When I developed the third exercise, we actively applied it to our marriage routine also.


These three exercises help Lisa and I maintain our relationship priorities. They are part of our bedtime routine. Neither of us expects to go to sleep without our relational ritual of the three dailies. They are a major highlight of my day. I get to hear about my wife’s day, hear her heart, and she gets to hear about my day and heart as well. ,is relational structure has richly developed our skill for intimacy to such a level that it can weather the day-to-day challenges of children, writing, and media demands, together with all of our other commitments. When your marriage priorities are restored, your passion will be restored. Everyone who knows me is well aware of my passion for Lisa.


I love her and really like her as well. This passion is the fruit of disciplinethat is born out of a heart of love.


THE THREE DAILIES

1. Prayer

Prayer is an absolute necessity in your marriage. I am constantly amazed when couples tell me that the last time they really prayed together, not including praying over food or a good night prayer with children, was years ago. Sometimes they say, “We both pray, just not together.” Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” The Lord must be part of building your house. Prayer is an active way to include the Lord as part of the building plan of your marriage.


Matthew 18:19 says, “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.” As we’ve previously noted, this verse discusses the importance

of two or more agreeing in God’s name. It doesn’t say when one agrees—it says when two agree. Since Christ’s resurrection, He intercedes with and for His bride, which is the church. The Lord sees prayer as being extremely important. God’s pleasure is for us to commune with Him not just as individuals,

but as a couple as well. Prayer is one of the priorities that must be set in place by a couple desiring more intimacy. Remember, intimacy is three dimensional, involving spirit, soul, and body. As we grow together spiritually, our intimacy in the other two areas will grow as well. Prayer is just talking aloud to God with your spouse, similar to talking with a friend. Prayer doesn’t have to take long hours in any particular

position. It is the principle of connecting with God that is essential. As a couple, within your governing style in your marriage, process the decision of daily prayer. As a result of your decision as a couple, place a

check by which of the following statements you agree with.


* We have agreed to pray daily together to improve and maintain our intimacy for the next thirty days.


* We have agreed not to pray together daily for the next thirty days, knowing that it will negatively affect our intimacy. The structure of prayer taking place within your marriage is one essential part of the three daily exercises. This structure will also be a part of your thirty-day log at the end of each day. Hopefully you have agreed to daily prayer. I know better than most that each couple has many variables. Some of these differences include sleep preferences, work schedules, children’s school and extracurricular activities, church, and fellowshiping with family and friends.


Look at your schedules. When can you pray together? In the morning? At lunch? In the evening? Take the time to discuss this with your spouse, and see if you can agree on a time to pray together. In the space below, write your first and second options to pray together.


Option one is ________ a.m./p.m.

Option two is ________ a.m./p.m.


In your thirty-day log, it’s important to track your progress regarding this exercise to maintain the consistency that ignites the passion and intimacy you both desire. Those who travel often ask how to maintain the thirty-day program while out of town. In this day of modern technology, it is a non issue for the creative person. You can use your calling card or mobile phone to pray with your spouse over the phone. This really demonstrates a commitment to maintaining your spiritual intimacy. Even if you’re in Hong Kong, you can e-mail a prayer to your wife and chat with her. Remember that the structure first brings healing, then passion. As you walk together spiritually, your intimacy over the next thirty days can

nourish.


I love walking in the garden of my life with Lisa and coming with her into the presence of our loving Father. I really believe this has been instrumental in developing the strength and intimacy of our marriage. couples come in for help with sprains or fractures in their relationships. I liken the repair of a marital relationship to fixing a broken bone. When your bone is broken, you can continue to function in a limited way, but you look and act unusual. Then you go to the doctor or emergency room.


The first thing the doctor does is order an X-ray of the bone. Sure enough, he looks at the structure. Regardless of how it happened, the X-ray shows a damaged structure (your bone is broken). The doctor and nurse apply a structural treatment to your structural problem in the form of a cast.


The cast is a structural treatment that allows the bone to heal. The cast itself is just plastic or plaster, and it has no healing properties. But when it is applied to a broken bone to hold the bone in place, surprise! Healing can and does happen.


The same thing happens when you place the priorities back into your marriage. No matter how sprained or broken a marriage is, healing can and does take place. I have seen genuine miracles of restoration in marriages when priorities were put back into the relationship. One of the structures I apply is what I call “the three dailies.”


I want to add a personal note of testimony. As I have stated before, I would never ask you to do something that Lisa and I have not done or are not doing presently in our relationship. Lisa and I have done two of

the three dailies every day for years, with only a few exceptions. When I developed the third exercise, we actively applied it to our marriage routine also.


These three exercises help Lisa and I maintain our relationship priorities. They are part of our bedtime routine. Neither of us expects to go to sleep without our relational ritual of the three dailies.


They are a major highlight of my day. I get to hear about my wife’s day, hear her heart, and she gets to hear about my day and heart as well. ,is relational structure has richly developed our skill for intimacy to such a

level that it can weather the day-to-day challenges of children, writing, and media demands, together with all of our other commitments.


When your marriage priorities are restored, your passion will be restored. Everyone who knows me is well aware of my passion for Lisa.


I love her and really like her as well. ,is passion is the fruit of discipline that is born out of a heart of love.


THE THREE DAILIES


1. Prayer

Prayer is an absolute necessity in your marriage. I am constantly amazed when couples tell me that the last time they really prayed together, not including praying over food or a good night prayer with children, was years ago. Sometimes they say, “We both pray, just not together.”


Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” The Lord must be part of building your house. Prayer is an active way to include the Lord as part of the building plan of your

marriage.


Matthew 18:19 says, “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.” As we’ve previously noted, this verse discusses the importance

of two or more agreeing in God’s name. It doesn’t say when one agrees— it says when two agree.


Since Christ’s resurrection, He intercedes with and for His bride, which is the church. The Lord sees prayer as being extremely important. God’s pleasure is for us to commune with Him not just as individuals,

but as a couple as well.


Prayer is one of the priorities that must be set in place by a couple desiring more intimacy. Remember, intimacy is three dimensional, involving spirit, soul, and body. As we grow together spiritually, our

intimacy in the other two areas will grow as well.


Prayer is just talking aloud to God with your spouse, similar to talking with a friend. Prayer doesn’t have to take long hours in any particular position. It is the principle of connecting with God that is essential.


As a couple, within your governing style in your marriage, process the decision of daily prayer. As a result of your decision as a couple, place a check by which of the following statements you agree with.


We have agreed to pray daily together to improve and maintain our intimacy for the next thirty days.


We have agreed not to pray together daily for the next thirty days, knowing that it will negatively affect our intimacy.


The structure of prayer taking place within your marriage is one essential part of the three daily exercises. This structure will also be a part of your thirty-day log at the end of each day.


Hopefully you have agreed to daily prayer. I know better than most that each couple has many variables. Some of these differences include sleep preferences, work schedules, children’s school and extracurricular

activities, church, and fellowshiping with family and friends.


Look at your schedules. When can you pray together? In the morning? At lunch? In the evening? Take the time to discuss this with your spouse, and see if you can agree on a time to pray together. In the space below, write your first and second options to pray together.


Option one is ________ a.m./p.m.


Option two is ________ a.m./p.m.


In your thirty-day log, it’s important to track your progress regarding this exercise to maintain the consistency that ignites the passion and intimacy you both desire.


Those who travel often ask how to maintain the thirty-day program while out of town. In this day of modern technology, it is a non issue for the creative person. You can use your calling card or mobile phone to pray with your spouse over the phone. This really demonstrates a commitment to maintaining your spiritual intimacy. Even if you’re in Hong Kong, you can e-mail a prayer to your wife and chat with her.

Remember that the structure first brings healing, then passion. As you walk together spiritually, your intimacy over the next thirty days can nourish.


I love walking in the garden of my life with Lisa and coming with her into the presence of our loving Father. I really believe this has been instrumental in developing the strength and intimacy of our marriage.