Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Secret of Lasting Forgiveness by Bruce Wilkinson - REVIEWED


About the Book:
God made your heart for love, joy, peace, and wholeness. So why isn’t that our normal experience? Why do so many of us feel inner turmoil? Could the problem be unforgiveness? Pastors estimate 90 percent of their congregations struggle with it. Do you? If so, get ready to be set free!


Through the teachings of Jesus, The Secret of Lasting Forgiveness reveals the link between our suffering and our unforgiveness. But it also shows how to forgive—for real and forever. Our story doesn’t have to end with the pain of our wounds. Whatever happened to us happened. But the God who made our hearts has shown a way through the wounds, back to the life and love that we were made for—a path to lasting peace.

My Thoughts:
I'm late posting this review, but the book is the reason I'm late.  See, God has used my blogging to bring books into my life for very specific reasons.  This book came to me during a season of letting go after my 23 year marriage ended. Forgiveness hasn't been easy to give or receive.  And God is using this book to help me move forward.

Dr. Wilkinson's approach is not very complex, but, it is rather challenging. You have to get past yourself to get to all of the richness of the freedom God offers through the lessons of forgiveness. This book breaks it down to a level where anyone at any stage of their walk with God will understand and be able to apply the truths of God's word to their situation.  I found it surprising to see what God brought to the surface...to show my areas where unforgiveness was lingering toward others, and I didn't even realize it!

This isn't a difficult read, and it isn't a particularly long read, but if you prayerfully move through each step, it takes a bit of time.  But it is worth the time and the effort!  I am happy to recommend this book to everyone!  This will take faith to a new level!

About the Author:
Dr. Bruce Wilkinson is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over sixty books, including The Prayer of Jabez and Secrets of the Vine.  Bruce currently leads Teach Every nation, a Bible training movement educating church leaders who cannot access or afford traditional academic institutions.

Monday, July 30, 2018

River to Redemption by Ann H. Gabhart - REVEIEWED


About the Book:
One young woman must stand up for freedom--and perhaps find her own in the process.
Orphaned in the cholera epidemic of 1833, Adria Starr was cared for by a slave named Louis, a man who passed up the opportunity to escape his bondage and instead tended to the sick and buried the dead. A man who, twelve years later, is being sold by his owners despite his heroic actions. 

Now nineteen, Adria has never forgotten what Louis did for her. She's determined to find a way to buy Louis's freedom. But in 1840s Kentucky, she'll need all of the courage and strength she possesses--and more.

My Thoughts:

"But sometimes when fires is burnin' out of control, then a body has to do whatever he can to put 'em out.:  (p. 297)

When Louis spoke these words to Adria, several disastrous things had already taken place, and, at the moment, there seems to be nothing but trouble up ahead.  Things were changing rapidly, and Adria needs the wisdom only God can provide to make some very difficult decisions.

Oh, this book is amazing!  Reader, if you enjoy historical fiction with some romance tossed into the mix, then you will relish this book!  The prose will keep you interested, the characters will become familiar and dear to your heart, and you will find yourself torn between decisions facing the characters.  In the 1800's slavery made life difficult for everyone on both sides.  This book is written on the cusp of the Civil War, and slaves were already making their way to freedom any way that presented itself.  Adria's heart longs to help slaves to freedom, but Ruth and the town expect her to marry a man who can give her a secure future.  

Adria wrestles with societal norms of her day and the truth of what God has shown her in His word.  Ruth has her own issues to wrestle with when a new preacher comes to town with his own issues in tow.  There are many, many layers to this story, and I can highly recommend it to everyone!  There is much to love in this novel!

About the Author:
Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels--The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted--as well as Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, Love Comes Home, Words Spoken True, and The Heart of Hollyhill series. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Learn more at www.annhgabhart.com.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Star Passage : Honor and Mercy by Clark Rich Burbidge - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Book Three continues the saga as the ancient relic directs our travelers on a new quest. Mike meets a struggling new patient during therapy. Ronnie Chen thinks his life is over but the relic has a plan. The expanding group of friends band together as the relic leads them through extraordinarily dangerous historic passages. But this time their quest is complicated by the escape to the present of the Tracker, Clynt. Is there any hope of stopping him from taking control of someone, stealing the relic and leading thousands of evil Trackers in changing history and destroying the world?


The Carsons and their friends must pull together to resist the Trackers at every turn while dealing with a possible traitor in their midst. With the Trackers closing in and the travelers ever more desperate is there any hope of escape? Find out in the thrilling third installment.

My Thoughts:
"...the star can open up understanding, uplift, and help.  But is also can take its owners into incredible danger."  Tim (p.319)

I have been a HUGE fan of this series since it was published!  You can read my reviews HERE and HERE!  This installment gets very real very quickly.  Since the tracker Clynt became a viable threat, I couldn't figure out how the author would deal with a realistic outcome without exacting a heavy price on the Carson family and the friends that journey with them as the travel throughout history. The story didn't disappoint!

This installment deals not only with history's impact on our present time, but, in a very real and subtle way touches upon the spiritual realm and believer's impact there as well.  This is by no means a tale about spiritual warfare, but, for this reader, I was able to pick up some truths that I found both uplifting and challenging.  I think Jack, Martie and Tim come away from this journey forever changed!  I really believe fans of this series will also be impacted at a heart level and feel closer to these characters than ever before!

I am always thrilled by the author's ability to bring me into these stories!  I feel as though I've traveled right along with the kids on their journey! This story brings a realistic dose of danger, and no one comes away unscathed! I'm super excited about the way he ended this tale, because I know I have more to look forward to!  I cannot recommend this series highly enough!  I'm very much a grown up, and I love them!  I'm super excited to know that this kind of quality is available to young readers!

About the Author:

Clark Rich Burbidge was born and raised in the high mountain valleys of the Rockies. He earned an MBA from the University of Southern California and a B.S. from the University of Utah. His business career included exciting adventures in investment banking and three stints as a chief financial officer. The past seven years have found him pursuing causes to strengthen and protect youth while authoring eight books, six of which have been recognized with international awards for excellence. Involvement in family, community, and church service spanning over four decades has kept him balanced. Burbidge and his sweetheart, Leah, live near Salt Lake City, Utah, where they enjoy outdoor activities including mountain biking, road biking, hiking, and travel involving scuba diving, adventure, and warm sandy beaches. However, most of all they treasure sharing their lives with their blended family of ten children and six grandchildren.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Hope of Nations by John S. Dickerson - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Every week a terrorist attack, riot, or political scandal makes the headlines—and we feel the world around us shaking again. We struggle to separate truth from biased statements and hope from naïveté. We wonder how we got here and where these uncertain days will take us.

One of the world’s top investigative reporters, John S. Dickerson, addresses this post-truth, post-Christian society in Hope of Nations.

Hope of Nations shows us how and why the world is changing, where those changes will lead, and what it looks like to live like Christ in today’s society. With fascinating historical and political background, Dickerson helps us understand:

The five major forces driving global change in the world today

Why violent displays of Islam continue resurfacing

The incoming moral, social, and political impact of American millennials

Ten ways to respond biblically to trends shaping the world right now

How to live with Christian courage and compassion in tumultuous times

“Times of great social upheaval are times of great spiritual opportunity,” writes Dickerson. “You can live the adventure of this era with great purpose. You can know with confidence that the Creator of the universe appointed you to bring light and life to this moment in human history.”

Among the youngest award-winning journalists and a seminary-trained pastor, Dickerson brings his reporting skills, generational perspective, and biblical insights to this groundbreaking book.


Get a larger view of what is happening with your community, your government, and your international neighbors in this thoughtful look at global events in light of your unique Christian calling.

My Thoughts:
This is a book that takes some time to process, but OH how it gives understanding, context, and practical application to all of the confusing points of view that Christians face in this current age. This book contains a LOT of information, so you have to take time to digest what you read, but you come away with a rich resource and understanding of how to effectively live the gospel in today's society.

This is a MUCH NEEDED tool to have in your arsenal of understanding.  I admire someone so gifted and able to put all of this together in one volume!  This is a book I will have to revisit as I travel my own faith journey - especially on my job at the local university. I am grateful to have this information! 

About the Author:

John S. Dickerson is a prize-winning research journalist, a seminary-trained pastor, and a frequent commentator in national news outlets like USA Today. He aggregates cultural trends, sociology, and historical understanding to give Biblical insight into world events and Christian living today. John’s first book, The Great Evangelical Recession, has equipped tens of thousands to understand the future of the church in the United States. John serves as the Lead Pastor of Connection Pointe Christian Church in the Indianapolis metro area.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Contradiction to His Pride by Leanne W. Smith - REVIEWED

About the Book:
From the moment James met Corrine as they traveled the Oregon Trail, in Smith's best-selling debut novel Leaving Independence, he couldn’t resist trying to win the sharp-mouthed beauty’s affections.
Now, as the core group of pioneers in Colonel Dotson’s wagon train begins to settle in Baker City, Oregon and build homesteads, James is restless to make his fortune so he can stake his own claim and win Corrine’s hand with honor.
But when James takes Corrine on an outing designed to impress her, things go tragically wrong. James foils a bank robbery and unwittingly sets a series of events into motion that shatter Corrine’s heart and now threaten her life, along with his and her older brother Charlie’s.
Soon there are several folks heading back down the trail—James, Charlie, Corrine, Harry and Tam Sims, the Baker City Sheriff, a newspaper man, a notorious criminal family, and Hoke Mathews—all set to collide in a final showdown in a Colorado mining town as outlaw Duke Walden seeks to make James pay for his heroic actions.

My Thoughts:
Traveling the Oregon trail is a great way to get to know someone, and James Parker sets his heart toward Corrine Baldwyn.  Once he helps his partner put the finishing touches on his new homestead in Baker City, Oregon, James has already made up his mind on the order of events that have to take place in order to present his heart and life to Corrine.  He never figures a bank robbery gone wrong into his plans.  

When James and Corrine go into town with another couple to enjoy a sleigh ride in the snow, the trajectory of their lives are forever changed.  Some lives end altogether that day, but while some grieved their losses in a healthy way, others spent time plotting revenge.  The next curve in their lifetime journey becomes shaped by outlaws who use the local Baker City newspaper as a window of opportunity.  While James and Corrine anticipate time apart, neither imagines what that time apart will entail.

The reader gets to enjoy every nuance of the journey, and, quite honestly, there are moments when you are left to wonder who will survive.  So, if you like history with a frontier flare, pick up a copy of Leanne Smith's latest novel!  It will keep you entertained and introduce you to characters that you will come to care about a great deal. This is a great Summer read!


About the Author:

Leanne W. Smith is a writer and professor. Her books include Leaving Independence, On a Dark & Snowy Night (short story), and A Contradiction to His Pride. She also teaches business courses at a university in Nashville. Smith and her husband have two creative daughters and a son-in-law who make the world a more beautiful place through their art, design, photography, singing, songwriting and mandolin-playing. 

WEBSITE: leannewsmith.com 
BLOG: leannewsmith.com/blog 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Lone Witness by Rachel Dylan - REVIEWED


About the Book:
She's the Only Witness to a Brutal Crime. Now She Can't Outrun the Target on Her Back.
Prosecutor Sophie Dawson has taken a new role at the Fulton County DA's office, and her first case involves a local bank employee who may be cheating customers. She's determined to bring justice to those who've lost their savings . . . but her life is turned upside down when she becomes the only witness to a double homicide involving a vengeful gang. 

With her life at risk, friends and family convince her that she needs protection, and private security guard Cooper Knight is hired as a bodyguard. But as threats escalate, neither Cooper nor Sophie knows whom they can trust. 

Unwilling to back down on either case, Sophie pursues the truth at any cost. But her bank litigation gets more complicated by the day, and the gang will stop at nothing to keep her from taking the stand. With all sides closing in, steadfast Cooper is the only man she can lean on. But drawing close may be the distraction that costs both of their lives. 

My Thoughts:
Reading this, knowing that the author is also a lawyer, I had to wonder if her life was as danger-filled as the main character, Sophie Dawson!  This book has a plot with MANY different layers and angles, and Sophie Dawson seems to have a bulls-eye on her head no matter which direction she turns!

As a prosecutor in the white collar crime division, Sophie thinks that she can diver deep into her cases and serve justice in an area that is often seemed as less dangerous.  What she learns rather quickly is that the reasons that people are drawn into such crimes is that they think they'll never get caught.  Sophie stumbles upon the tip of the proverbial iceberg, and even though she thinks her dad is overreacting by hiring private protection, she is soon grateful for Copper Knight's presence in her life!

I was taken by surprise by the layers that naturally unfolded in this novel.  Honestly, I found myself talking aloud to both Sophie and Cooper and warning them not to trust a certain character!  You can't really trust many people in this novel, so be warned!  There are wolves in sheep's clothing galore! And, you will be shocked at exactly who those people turn out to be!

This was a fun read, folks, and is perfect for the summer!  Enjoy!!


About the Author:


Rachel Dylan was a litigator in one of Atlanta's most elite law firms for over eight years and now works as an attorney at one of the Big Three automobile manufacturers. She is the author of Deadly Proof and four Love Inspired Suspense novels and lives in Michigan with her husband. She is active on social media and you can visit her website at www.racheldylan.com.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Blind Betrayal by Nancy Mehl - REVIEWED


About the Book:
After two years at the St. Louis U.S. Marshals Office, Casey Sloane is tasked with escorting a reporter to Washington to testify before a grand jury. The reporter's research on an up-and-coming environmentalist who suddenly disappeared is now even more vital than anticipated.

At first, Casey's assignment seems routine. But a dangerous attack on the Marshals Office puts everyone on high alert. When Casey and two other Marshals--one a man from her past--are forced on the run with the reporter, they'll do whatever it takes to protect their witness and make it out alive.

My Thoughts:
Talk about a complex storyline!  Have Mercy!  There are so many switch backs in this novel, the reader is almost dizzy trying to keep up! I was truly thankful that Casey and her team had the skills and the steel nerve to face so many duplicitous people and keep their heads enough to sort out who could be trusted and who was out to kill, steal and destroy!

There are some seriously evil folks in this novelI have to be honest, there was a point that my imagination had to REALLY stretch to imagine bad guys with such a complex reach throughout law enforcement.  To say there is some deep undercover work taking place is a gross understatement.  The fact that Casey Sloane has a moment to consider anything but the hot mess she lands in during her role of legal delivery of a federal witness is also a bit of a stretch.  But hey, love is a strange bed fellow at times, and her heart is just as easily tweaked by emotion as everyone else!

In short, all of Nany Mehl's characters are believable in their humanness and the reader will be able to pick a side and support their character of choice as the bullets fly!  This is a book that will keep you up nights, so I suggest taking it on vacation so you don't lose too much productivity!  Have a blast reading this novel!  I did!

About The Author:
Nancy Mehl (www.nancymehl.com) is the author of more than thirty books, including the Road to Kingdom, Finding Sanctuary, and Defenders of Justice series. She received the ACFW Mystery Book of the Year Award in 2009. She has a background in social work and is a member of ACFW and RWA. She writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their Puggle, Watson. She is part of The Suspense Sisters: www.suspensesisters.blogspot.com, along with several other popular suspense authors. She is also very active on Facebook.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Adamant by Lisa Bevere - REVEIWED


About the Book:
What is truth?
 
This has become the defining question of our time. But while everyone has an opinion, truth, it seems, is getting harder and harder to find. Perhaps that's because we are searching for something when we should be looking for someone
 
Truth has a name.
 
More ancient than time and more present than this moment, truth is not a river that changes with the cultural currents, but a rock--immovable, invincible, unshakeable--and the cornerstone of all we are and ever dream to be.
 
Theologically deep yet intimately accessible. Adamant will be an anchor for your soul in a raging sea of opinions, giving you a clear sense of direction in a wandering world.

My Thoughts:

Lisa Bevere is a fabulous teacher, and in her latest book, Adamant, she speaks clearly and powerfully about the love God has for each of His children.  She explains His love for us and then goes on to encourage us to follow His command for living and love others as we have been loved by the Father.

Reading the book, you might be led to believe that this is an easy thing to do if you just implement some new practices in your life.  It's not that easy.  Before you can love others as Christ loved you, you have to accept His love for you.  For most folks, myself included, we spend a lot of our lives telling ourselves and God how unworthy we are to receive His love.  Then we live our lives bound up in the guilt and shame that we place on ourselves because of the way we live - rejecting God's love as well as the love of others.

Lisa Bevere offers another, powerful, truth-filled way of living our lives.  I won't tell you it is not challenging, because it is.  But I will tell you that this book, the truth it contains about God's Word and His love for me, it is changing my life.  This is a book that can change your life too!  Pick up a copy today and begin  learning how to live and walk in the powerful truth of God's adamant love for you!!

About the Author:
Lisa Bevere has spent nearly three decades empowering women of all ages to find their identity and purpose. She is a New York Times bestselling author and internationally known speaker. Her previous books, which include Fight Like a GirlLioness ArisingGirls with Swords, and Without Rival, are in the hands of millions worldwide. Lisa and her husband, John, are the founders of Messenger International, an organization committed to developing uncompromising followers of Christ who transform their world. Learn more at www.lisabevere.com.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Begin Again by Leeana Tankersley - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Always we begin again."--St. Benedict

What do we do when we feel stuck, restless, cornered in our own lives? 
We can shut down. Or we can begin again.

To begin again is to open the window, even an inch, to let the breeze of grace come in. It is a call to open our hands when all we want to do is clench our fists.

Join Leeana Tankersley as she shares a journey of beginning again--in her relationships, in her faith practices, and with herself. Her small, daily shifts dramatically influenced her larger ways of doing and being, allowing her to trade trying for trust, striving for surrender. If you've been feeling stuck, Leeana's life-giving words will show you how to forgive yourself, develop new and healthier patterns of living, and do away with resentment and regret. 

My Thoughts:

I don't exaggerate when I tell you that this book has changed my life.  This book has come to me during a "begin again" season of my life, and it has been the most brutal, challenging, dark, confusing  time in all of my life.  But this book, it has been like talking with a good friend who knows exactly what I'm going through.  

I'm thankful for real live friends who I can share this book with.  Honestly, I've sent photos of the cover to countless friends.  I've underlined and highlighted passages, and am now going through a second time and writing out passages that have spoken powerfully to to me.  This book contains powerful, personal, hard truths about the choice that lies before each of us with every breath we take...to start in that moment and begin again.

I am grateful beyond words for this book and the chance to read it, ingest it and share it.  I cannot recommend this highly enough!  Bless you Leeana Tankersley for writing this book!!

About the Author:
Leeana Tankersley is the author of Found ArtBreathing Room, and Brazen, and holds English degrees from Liberty University and West Virginia University. She is a regular contributor to MOPS and speaks to groups all over the country about waking up those beautiful and sacred parts of each of us that can go dormant. She and her husband, Steve, live in San Diego, California, with their three kids. Learn more at www.leeanatankersley.com.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green - REVIEWED


About the Book:
Fleeing One Revolution to the Aftermath of Another, She Seeks and Dreams of Peace

Lacemaker Vivienne Rivard never imagined her craft could threaten her life. Yet in revolutionary France, it is a death sentence when the nobility, and those associated with them, are forced to the guillotine. Vivienne flees to Philadelphia, but danger lurks in the French Quarter, as revolutionary sympathizers begin to suspect a young boy left in her care might be the Dauphin. Can the French settlement Asylum offer permanent refuge?


Militiaman Liam Delaney proudly served in the American Revolution, but now that the new government has imposed an oppressive tax that impacts his family, he barely recognizes the democracy he fought for. He wants only to cultivate his hard-won farm near Asylum, but he soon finds himself drawn into the escalating tension of the Whiskey Rebellion. When he meets a beautiful young Frenchwoman recently arrived from Paris, they are drawn together in surprising ways to fight for the peace and safety for which they long.

My Thoughts:

“When Vienne punched through the air pockets in a lump of dough, she prayed, Fill my empty places with Your love and faithfulness.  As she rolled and sealed her baguettes:  Make smooth my rough edges, Lord.  And so with flour dusting her hair and sweat beading her face and neck, Vienne shaped her bread, and believed that God was shaping her, too.”  (p. 128)

This small paragraph encapsulates the journey that Vienne Rivard traverses throughout the length of Jocelyn Green’s latest novel, A Refuge Assured.  Green’s ability to connect the revolutionary conflict in France in the late 1700’s to the Whiskey rebellion during the infancy of the United States just after their own revolution…absolutely fascinating!!!  The place of Asylum for the French refugees fleeing the trouble in their home country – and to have Vienne tangled so intricately  - through no fault of her own – in every aspect of each trial – this is an absolutely captivating novel!!  You won’t want to miss a single word!

Vienne is a character who exhibits the mix of faith, steadfastness and humanity that I hope my life reflects in some measure.  I honestly don’t know if I would have had the courage to face the things she had to navigate, but all along the journey, she is true to herself and to God.  The way she loves and serves others reflects the transformation that has taken place in her heart through each tragic event she has been forced to navigate.

Readers will come to care deeply for Vienne, Henri, Liam and all the other amazing characters that fill the pages of this very powerfully written novel.  I’ve read many of Jocelyn’s novels, but this one will always be dear to my heart, because she has shown me a version of my life that I long for – a version, that by God’s grace I will walk out with the same strength and integrity that Vienne did.  This is an AMAZING novel!!

About the Author:
Jocelyn Green inspires faith and courage as the award-winning and bestselling author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books, including The Mark of the KingWedded to War, and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition, which she coauthored with bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman. Her books have garnered starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly, and have been honored with the Christy Award, the gold medal from the Military Writers Society of America, and the Golden Scroll Award from the Advanced Writers & Speakers Association. She graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, with a B.A. in English, concentration in writing. Jocelyn lives with her husband, Rob, and two children in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Visit her at www.jocelyngreen.com.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Unhitching from the Crazy Train by Julie Sparkman - REVIEWED


About the Book:
You have a picture of how your life should go. We all do. The dream job. Close friendships. Loving, grateful children. A perfect marriage. But more often than not, life doesn’t go according to plan. So we corral and control, determined to make our picture come true. Our emotional, spiritual, and even physical well being are taken for a crazy ride as our very sanity becomes dependent on how closely reality matches our expectations. No wonder we’re exhausted. We’re hitched to the crazy train, and we want to get off. But how?    
“Come to Me,” Jesus says, “and I will give you rest.”
Join counselor and teacher Julie Sparkman as she explores Jesus’ gentle yet costly invitation to true rest—rest that is dependent on the finished work of a Savior who will never leave us alone.

My Thoughts:
“When life takes a turn away from who we desire, oure response should shift from “That do I do now?” to “What are You doing now and what is my role in YOUR purposes?”  The responsibility to make life work is no longer on our shoulders; instead, we are invited to play a role in what His is doing.”  (p.84)

Julie Sparkman’s book, Unhitching from the Crazy Train, has intersected my life in the perfect season!  This book has captured my heart, called attention to areas of life where I’ve long struggled to understand “why”, and all along I should have been asking, “What?”  This book is a VERY RICH resource that will allow you to identify moments of your life where you’ve jumped on the crazy train and are demanding that God answer your prayer in a way that aligns with your perceived life plan rather that God’s will.

I’ve taken my time with this book.  I’ve soaked in the truths that are presented.  I’ve been challenged by the questions at the end of each chapter.  This has been an incredible tool that God has used in my life to  help me grow into an closer image of His likeness.  Sparkman’s writing style is transparent and direct, and her book is powerful because of that aspect.  She’s not writing from a place of biblical superiority, but rather is presenting life-changing truths she has learned as she has traveled her own life journey.


I cannot begin to recommend this book highly enough!  Buy a copy today and a couple to share!  It will make an amazing small group study, as well as a personal devotional.  This book has impacted my life in a powerful way.  Bless you Julie Sparkman, for writing this amazing book!

About the Author:
Julie Sparkman has been a counselor in private practice for 18 years and is a popular Bible teacher and conference speaker. She is the cofounder of Restore Counseling Ministries in Birmingham, Alabama, where she helps individuals and couples learn to practically apply the gospel to their everyday lives and relationships. You can learn more about Julie’s ministry at restore-ministries.org.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Beneath the Surface by Lynn H. Blackburn - REVIEWED


About the Book:
After a harrowing experience with an obsessed patient, oncology nurse practitioner Leigh Weston needed a change. She thought she'd left her troubles behind when she moved home to Carrington, North Carolina, and took a job in the emergency department of the local hospital. But when someone tampers with her brakes, she fears the past has chased her into the present. She reaches out to her high school friend turned homicide investigator, Ryan Parker, for help.

Ryan finds satisfaction in his career, but his favorite way to use his skills is as a volunteer underwater investigator with the Carrington County Sheriff's Office dive team. When the body of a wealthy businessman is discovered in Lake Porter, the investigation uncovers a possible serial killer--one with a terrifying connection to Leigh Weston and deadly implications for them all.

Dive into the depths of fear with an exciting new voice in romantic suspense. Award-winning author Lynn H. Blackburn grabs readers by the throat and doesn't let go until the final heart-pounding page.

My Thoughts:
Could she trust him to keep her alive?  Or trust him I that wasn’t his plan at all?” (p. 206)

Leigh Weston wrestles with a lot of questions in Lynn H. Blackburn’s novel, Beneath the Surface.  She has come to her lake home to restore peace in her life after a traumatic event, only to have a dead body turn up nearby, and then to be pursued by an unknown killer.  Detective Ryan Parker, a childhood friend of her older brother, is assigned to the case, but even his best attempts to keep Leigh safe are thwarted at every turn.  Leigh begins to reach out God, who she’s basically ignored for a while, and begins to wonder if He hears her cries for help.

This is a really well-written story, and both Leigh and Ryan will become a familiar presence in your heart and mind as you walk with them through their adventure.  There are many twists and turns, but once it’s discovered that there is a serial killer on the move in this North Carolina town, this pace ramps up quickly.  I must say, I really enjoy an author who keeps her villains well-hidden until the end of the novel!


This is the first in the Dive Team series, so jump on board and hang on for the ride!  There is a bit of romance mixed in, but the chase of the killer takes precedence.  I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I’m happy to recommend it to everyone!  

About the Author:

Lynn H. Blackburn is the author of Beneath the Surface, Hidden Legacy, and Covert Justice, winner of the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel. Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She's passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don't make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in Simpsonville, South Carolina, with her true love, Brian, and their three children.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Long-time missionary details her journey through ministry burnout in new book - Fanning the Flame by Terri Clark

n a survey by expastors.com last year, 71% of ministers said they had gone through spiritual burnout. A similar study by the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development showed similar statistics the year before, citing 70% of pastors developing depression, fatigue or burnout. But it doesn’t just happen to clergy, as a recent study by the Public Religion Research Institute indicates. Twenty-five percent of Americans claim no formal religious identity, making this segment the single largest “religious group” in the U.S. Author, counselor, and missionary Terri Clark knows these statistics too well. She was one of them. And in her new book, “Fanning the Flame: Reigniting your Faith in God”, Clark reveals her own personal struggles with a waning faith.

“I have served in ministry for over four decades,” says Clark. “We have built a hospital in Uganda, enrolled over 500 children in a Child Education Sponsorship program, I have shared the Gospel in India, Vietnam, China and Myanmar. And yet, I felt I was losing my passion for God. I felt like I was going through the motions and living a mediocre faith. But I began to get honest with myself and with God, and identify the things that were driving me towards burnout."

In “Fanning the Flame”, Clark admittedly gets very transparent with readers about the issues she discovered in her own life. But it was a simple object from a crafts store that made the scriptures she had read all her life take on a whole new meaning.

“I am a visual learner and when God kept bringing scriptures to me about lamps, I became curious as to what those looked like when the verses were written. I learned that the lamps in that time period were made out of clay and they were shaped like small bowels that fit in the palm of your hand. So I went to the store, got some clay, baked it and made one for myself. I put a piece of terry cloth in it as the wick, added some olive oil, and it actually worked! But I noticed it would burn out quickly until I trimmed the wick, then it would burn bright again, just as the scripture suggests. God taught me some important lessons through that exercise. We are the clay formed by the potter, shaped for a purpose — to bring light. But we need the oil (the Holy Spirit) and faith (the wick) in order to do that. And we need to trim that faith (wick) often in order to get rid of the black, burned out things in our lives that keep us from being a bright, glowing light.”

Clark also writes about some direct correlations she discovered between the Old Testament feasts that God required of the Israelites and the faith walk of most modern-day Christians.

“God’s people were required to take a pilgrimage three times per year to celebrate three festivals: Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot. When I studied the meanings behind each of these events, I realized there were parallel meanings between these festivals and the Christian life. That discovery helped me understand where my own faith had wavered, and what I needed to do to get it back on track.”

Clark hopes this book helps both church leaders who are experiencing burn out, as well as people who have abandoned their faith reignite their relationship with God.

“I had one lady who read an early copy of the book tell me that she had struggled with her faith for the past 14 years, but this book helped her get back on track. That is exactly what I hope will happen for everyone who reads it. I get very vulnerable in the book and share my own battles with the obstacles that blocked my pursuit of God. The main thing I want them to gain is a renewed sense of God’s presence in their lives.”

About the Author:
As President and Founder of Terri Clark Ministries, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Terri Clark has an on-going outreach in Uganda where her ministry helped build the Ray of Hope Medical Center and establish a Child Education Sponsorship Program that has served over 500 children. Her international outreaches have included Mexico, India, Vietnam, China and Myanmar. She authored the book “Tying the Family Knot: Meeting the Challenges of a Blended Family” and is an AACC Biblical Counselor and Christian Life Coach. Her articles have appeared in magazines such as Focus on the Family’sThriving Family Magazine, Lifeway’s Home Life, Parent Life andParenting Teens magazines, as well as Crosswalk.com and CBN.com. She and her husband, Harvey, enjoy life together, especially while riding their Spyder motorcycles. For more information, visit www.terriclarkministries.org.