Audra Krell

On Purpose

Archive for the category “Book Reviews”

Passport Through Darkness

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Don't know if you've noticed, but I've cooled it lately on the book reviews. This one though, is a must.

Kimberly Smith has been doing God's work for years, trying to stop human trafficking. 

Her writing it powerful and keeps the reader coming back. Not because you can stomach the content, but because you are changed from the first chapter. I was with Kimberly, watching alongside as she tended to every need of our brothers and sisters in Sudan, and prayed for her as she battled her own demons all the while.

I've never considered myself a mission type servant, but I don't know how I couldn't not go after reading this book. Even if you don't think you would ever serve in this way, Kimberly's authentic account changes the way you'll pray. 

From a writer's standpoint, this book has too many stories going on at one time. I hope for more books from Kimberly, that will delve deeper into each experience. At the same time, I'd rather have her servant heart in the field, than in a chair writing. Her work is life-changing for countless people.

Get your copy today. Go over to my Amazon box on the right, type in Passport to Darkness and your book will arrive by early next week.

Many thanks to Audra Jennings and the B&B Media Group for providing me with this review copy.

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Love Food and Live Well Review

Well I'll tell you one thing, I 've got the loving food part down pat. But the living well? Not so much. This is a great book for suggesting how to marry loving food with living well. They have seemed mutually exclusive up to this point.

What I love about the author Chantel Hobbs, is that she has been there. She's been miserable about her weight, and has climbed out of the trenches of obesity by losing over 200 pounds. 

This book has recipes, food plans, exercise and personal inventories. Everything you need, to love food AND live well.

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:

 

Love Food & Live Well

WaterBrook Press; 1 edition (December 14, 2010)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Chantel Hobbs is a life coach, marathon runner, personal trainer, wife, and mother of four. Her amazing story of losing two hundred pounds and keeping the weight off has been featured on Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, Life Today with James Robison, The 700 Club, and Focus on the Family Radio—and in People and First magazines. Hobbs hosts a weekly radio show and is the on-air fitness expert on the WAY-FM radio network. She is also a regular guest on the KLOVE radio network. Hobbs is a frequent speaker to women’s groups and makes personal appearances at fitness conventions. The developer of The One-Day Way Learning System and the author of four books, including Never Say Diet and The One-Day Way, Chantel lives with her family in south Florida.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; 1 edition (December 14, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307457842
ISBN-13: 978-0307457844

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The Battle over Blue Jeans

People, Here Is My Deal!

For as long as I can remember, I have loved clothes and makeup. Even when I weighed close to 350 pounds, I experimented with trendy hairstyles while checking out the latest plus-size fashion catalogs.

When I was in elementary school, I would spend afternoons with my sister Christy, sitting on the floor of the closet in the decked-out pink bedroom we shared. This was a supersized closet where we would set up our Barbie dolls for fashion shows. Because I had blond hair and Christy was a brunette, it was only natural for me to pretend to be Barbie and her to be Skipper, Barbie’s little sister. At least that’s how I sold the idea to Christy. As we grew up and began to put our dolls away, I still enjoyed being prissy, often spending way too much time in front of a mirror.

Even as a young mother, I was a fashionista. I’ll never forget entering the hospital to have a scheduled cesarean to deliver my son Jake. I had spent the day before the delivery getting a pedicure and manicure and shopping for a matching nightgown set. Really, I did this! As I lay on the table in the operating room, the doctor arrived and started to chuckle. “Well, Chantel, I can see nothing about this is going to be a natural delivery.” All I could say was, “At least I left the false eyelashes at home.” I was only half kidding.

One reason I went overboard with my appearance was because I loved hearing friends and family comment on how together I looked. Even while having a baby, I wanted to look great. But today, in hindsight, I feel seriously sorry for the woman I used to be. She was always exhausted from trying to maintain her unreal image. Plus, I knew deep down that I wasn’t fooling anyone but myself. My weight problem wasn’t going to vanish underneath fancy clothing and attempts to camouflage my problem areas. I really did know that owning an all-black wardrobe wouldn’t keep my body issues a secret.

But back then I had convinced myself I needed to make a serious effort to look pretty from the neck up because I was too overweight for the rest of me to look decent. I rationalized that if I could highlight my best features, people would see my positive attributes and look past my greatest flaw: my obese body. At this point my life was one big head game.

I’ll never forget the weekend I went on a business trip with my husband, Keith, to Bermuda. This was a dream coming true for someone who spent most days watching Barney and folding laundry. But when we started to pack, panic set in. Bermuda is one huge beach, and I knew I’d embarrass my husband if I wore a swimsuit in front of his bosses and work friends. On the other hand, this was Bermuda! It was a free trip and a chance to escape the zoo I called home!

After we boarded the plane, I found my seat and immediately put a jacket over my waist. This was a trick I had learned from previous travel experiences, and it almost always worked. If I could hide where the seat belt was supposed to be, the flight attendant wouldn’t notice that mine was unbuckled. The truth is, I did this because I couldn’t connect the seat belt. I was too big around. This time, however, my system failed. As the attendant stopped by our row, she asked me to buckle my seat belt. As I struggled to latch it, she stood impatiently with one hand on her hip. I whispered that I was having trouble making it fit.

So being the sensitive, tall, and freakishly thin woman she was, she shouted to her co-worker, “Could you look in one of the overhead compartments for a seat-belt extension?”

I was mortified. I closed my eyes and tried to pretend the attendant was talking about someone else. A few moments later she handed me the hated seat-belt extension, and I fastened the thing as quickly as I could. I promise you, I could feel the pity of strangers as they witnessed my hame. But instead of shedding tears, I did what I had rehearsed in previous situations. I took a deep breath and grabbed Keith’s hand, squeezing it for dear life as the aircraft took off. My vacation is off to a great start, I told myself. I can’t wait to see what other embarrassing moments lie ahead.

Surprisingly, our Bermuda trip ended up being the trip of a lifetime. The island was beautiful, the water was the clearest blue I had ever seen, and I felt beautiful for the entire week. Strangely, it was another young mother, the wife of one of Keith’s co-workers, who was mostly responsible.

Each day I would get dolled up and make my entrance into the meeting room for the company’s group breakfast. This girl went out of her way to say something sincere and extraordinary about the way I looked, morning after morning. She would also ask me for fashion advice. By her looks, she didn’t need any, certainly none from me. Yet she still inquired and never in a condescending way.

Best of all, she never breathed the dreaded words “You have such a pretty face.” The trip to Bermuda taught me the intense power we all have when we speak to someone, especially to a person who is feeling weak and vulnerable. Just by saying something simple and positive, we can brighten someone’s outlook, even if it’s only for a few seconds.

For most of my life I had become accustomed to backhanded compliments. When it came to my weight and all my failed attempts to lose it, I had heard everything. I’d try yet another diet, and two weeks into it over and over I would hear from those around me, “Now keep up the good work.” And I would always think, Are you kidding? I’m trying here. Just tell me “good job,”

and don’t worry about whether I lose another dad-gum pound. I get that you are letting me know I have a long way to go!

Yet Another New Start

Coming home from Bermuda, where I felt sincere acceptance, I had real hope. I felt different. I was relaxed, revived, and encouraged. I decided that I was ready to give weight loss another shot. As I set out to lose weight for the eighty-sixth time in my life, I felt prepared. I bought the latest diet book from Sam’s Club and a twelve-pack of muffins. I rationalized the muffin purchase by telling myself I needed to have one last hurrah.

On Monday my plan was to go for it. I would try with everything in me not to let anything stand in my way. Of course, I didn’t see any need to crack open the new book I’d bought until the weekend was over! What would a few more days of indulgence hurt?

Then Monday arrived, and I made my grand entrance at the gym. I even went back three days in a row. The only problem was that by the end of the week I was hanging out more than working out. I’d been trying to get David, the juice bar owner, to tell me his recipe for the yummy chocolate–peanut butter protein shake I was ordering every day. The first clue it wasn’t all that

healthy should have been the chocolate syrup he poured in. But I told myself, if it’s made on gym property, how bad could it be?

By the time the week ended, I had followed the plan in my recently purchased book and had my cheat day. Not surprisingly, I quickly indulged in an entire cheat weekend. However, I managed to get back to the gym the following Monday. The plan I was on was doable, and even with halfhearted efforts, I was slowly losing weight.

After shedding about twenty pounds, I decided I needed some new clothes. This was kind of funny, especially since not one person had noticed that I had lost an ounce. As I said earlier, I’ve always loved fashion. But at this point, with my weight so high, I was stuck wearing mostly dresses and skirts. I just couldn’t face the prospect of trying to fit my behind into a pair of pants

at Lane Bryant. But now, since I was feeling pretty good about myse
lf and getting results, I headed over to the Coral Square Mall. I was there to hunt down a pair of blue jeans. Even if I had to lie down to zip them and not breathe while I wore them, I was determined to come home with new jeans.

I picked up three pairs with plenty of stretch to take into the dressing room. Once the door was closed, though, no amount of sucking it in, squeezing hard, or holding my breath got the jeans up to my waist. I couldn’t make any of them fit. As I held the jeans up and looked in the mirror, I wondered how anyone could stand to look at me. I was a disgusting blob of pain and misery.

I had left home that day feeling good about my progress. I was finally losing some weight. But after a few minutes in a dressing room, I wanted to die. How had I let myself become this pathetic mess of a woman?

A few Cinnabons later I went home. Two weeks after my blue jean horror show, I found out I was expecting. A month into the pregnancy I miscarried due to a badly infected gallbladder, and I ended up having emergency surgery. I wondered if I would ever change my life or if I would die first. Death seemed like perhaps the only escape out of this prison.

About six months later I had an unforgettable encounter with God. I was alone in my car, driving home from a meeting. I had reached my lowest point ever, and I let God in. I had known Him for years, ever since I had been saved from an eternity separated from Him. As a little girl in Sunday school, I had asked Jesus into my heart to save me from my sins. What I needed now, as a desperate, hurting, damaged woman, was to be saved from myself. I was still trying to run my own life.

God had whispered my name through many embarrassing moments and hurtful situations; I just never answered. But that night, alone in my car, He finally got through to me. I experienced a supernatural intervention. And it compels me now to tell my friends, my clients, and my readers my Lazarus story.

An Incredible Second Chance

Remember the story of Lazarus in the Bible? When Jesus brought him back from the dead, and we’re talking dead as a doornail (he was four-days dead), I imagine all he wanted was to blow a trumpet and tell the world about his miracle. Today I feel a similar kind of zeal resulting from my own miracle. As I surrendered all the pain of my lifelong weight problem to God, my heart

began a major shift. God gave me a deep desire to go to work. For the first time, I took on the task of losing the weight with Him in charge. I was no longer alone as I had been in the past. By allowing God, who never breaks a promise, to give me the strength, self-control, and focus I needed, how could I fail?

Ten years later I am on the same course He set for my life that night. My life is still filled with unexpected moments, both tragedies and celebrations. But I have never looked back.

After going on to lose two hundred pounds, I designed my own fitness and weight-loss program and became a certified Spinning teacher, personal trainer, and marathon runner. I love feeling strong, being healthy, and knowing I’m not a slave to my former appetites. Often I run into people I haven’t seen in many years. They may have known me as the overweight girl with a

pretty face. And if I dare to attempt a reacquaintance, I am usually in for a good laugh.

I’ll never forget one woman from a church I attended years earlier. I ran into her at the grocery store and tried to convince her who I was. “You aren’t really Chantel from West Lauderdale Baptist,” she insisted. I tried to get her to believe it was me, just an improved version. I think she finally accepted the truth, but it took awhile.

I am proud of the woman I have worked to become. However, I am most thankful that God rescued me from a place where I had lost all hope. God’s care for me and His work in my life give me the strength to stay on course. Now, after writing four books and producing a learning system for weight loss and fitness, I can see that God continues to use me as a voice of real-life

experience. A big part of my message is this: let me help you stop sabotaging yourself and your life. I know, from hard experience, how to overcome self-defeat. Every day I get to hear the stories of people who were losing hope, as I was, and now are finding the life they had dreamed of. I receive e-mails from women who have heard me speak, read one of my books, or heard me on the radio and now are surrendering their failed attempts to God. They are learning the truth and power of surrender and then doing the hard work of changing their lives.

In my work of helping people reclaim their health, I never know what is coming next. Recently I got a call from my publicist. She was so excited she could hardly tell me the news. “While you are in New York later this week to do The Today Show and Fox and Friends, a major women’s magazine wants to set up a photo shoot.”

I screamed. I couldn’t help it. Not only would the exposure help sell my book, but doing a photo shoot in New York, as the author of fitness books, was an experience I never dreamed I’d have. When I weighed nearly 350 pounds, an opportunity like this never entered my mind.

I couldn’t wait, but I had to. It was still a few weeks away. As New Year’s came and went, I was more careful than ever about fitting in all my workouts and eating clean. (Clean eating is the best way for me to think about food that delivers maximum energy with a reasonable calorie content.) When the day arrived, a driver came to our New York hotel to take Keith and me to the shoot. In the previous week, I had given my measurements to a stylist. She informed me she would be shopping for the clothes I would wear for the photo shoot. To use a term from my Southern-rooted parents, I was in hog heaven! I used to be the woman who was embarrassed to tell anyone her sizes, and now I had someone else buying me clothes based on them! The great part was the freedom in sharing what size I was. For the first time, I felt no shame.

When we arrived at the studio, I noticed that the loft where the photographer had scheduled the shoot was trendy and chic. It had sky-high ceilings complete with lots of lights and screened umbrellas to ensure perfect lighting. Taking up an entire wall was a buffet of food the magazine had catered for the event, my event! All of it was healthy fare with me in mind.

As I entered a dressing room, fun music filled the air. A makeup artist and hairstylist began their magic. I listened while they talked about their past work. One had done Heidi Klum’s makeup not long before, and the other spoke of doing the makeup for big names on a major movie set. I was a little overwhelmed with the emotion of the moment. I felt like I was back to playing Barbie dolls with my sister.

After hair and makeup were underway, the stylist had me try on all the clothes she had bought. We settled on a great pair of designer jeans with a sleek white sweater and a trendy hot pink top. I put on the heels she had purchased—a perfect fit—and some fabulous jewelry. Then I was whisked away to the main part of the studio. In that moment I felt like a million bucks.

It was then the stylist asked me what I believed to be an insane question: “Where are your old blue jeans?” At first I couldn’t believe I had heard her right, but I knew what she was getting at. She said the creative director wanted me to hold up a supersized pair of pants in the photo to show the dramatic contrast represented by clothes I had worn in my previous life.

I understood the point of playing up the shock value. Shoppers standing in line at the supermarket checkout would be amazed by the pants I had once filled out. But the idea that I would have to display a symbol of the old life I had left behi
nd made me feel sick, like I had never lost a pound. How could I hold up a pair of jeans that represented my old humiliation?

I explained to the stylist that not only had I not brought a pair of jeans but I didn’t feel comfortable doing this. As I held my breath, a few phone calls were made, and the shoot continued without the troubling reminder of my past. It turned out to be a great experience, and I was pleased with the photographs. However, I felt a little angry and upset with myself. Hadn’t I moved on past my old image? I could now fit two of me inside my old jeans, so why was this such a big deal? I also wondered if readers might have been helped by seeing me holding up the pants I used to wear. Why couldn’t I just smile into the camera with confidence even if I was standing behind a pair of my old jeans?

I Will Never Return

Back in my hotel room, I awoke in the middle of the night still thinking about the photo shoot. Finally I could see clearly what had offended me. Supersized blue jeans were a symbol of major pain in my life. Holding them up in front of me would not feel as if I was showcasing success. I was now on an exciting journey to share my life and my program to help other people. I had ditched the old jeans, just as I had ditched diets—and both of them for good! Sure, I will always be able to relate to the woman who desperately tries to zip up a pair of pants in a store’s dressing room. But I didn’t want to spend another special moment of my life sharing the spotlight with my former self. I had crossed the point of no return. I now knew without question that I would never go back.

I have a completely new deal, one that focuses on living my new life, the life that God led me to when I fell into my darkest moment. The old me had long wanted to leave behind the constant torment of being overweight and undisciplined. That life is now over. My new deal is much sweeter than I dreamed was possible.

You can have the same deal! You can start living a life of security and freedom. You can be released from the prison of defeat, failure, and negative self-image. And best of all, the new deal we’re going to explore is guaranteed to last.

I won’t ever return to being the person I started out as. There is no going back. And I’ll show you how to take full advantage of the same deal!

 

Book Review: Flight Plan

Many books about raising boys have been nailing the concept. Flight Plan is the latest to do just that. God gave us our lives as the great adventure and He has especially hard -wired boys and men to live lives of wonderful, deep, scary, adventure. It's easy to lose sight of this as we try to control the world our sons, husbands, brothers and friends live in. Ladies, we should read Flight Plan, to teach and/or remind us how to help our men return to their first love.

 

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:

 

Flight Plan

PDS Publishing (2010)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Lee Burns is the headmaster at Presbyterian Day School, an independent school serving over 630 boys in grades PK-6 in Memphis. In addition, Burns is vice-president and on the executive committee of the Elementary School Headmasters Association (a group of approximately 200 headmasters around the country) and is a member of the Country Day School Headmasters Association and the Visionary Heads Group. He served as a task force member to help the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) develop Principles of Good Practice for Middle School Educators. In addition, he has been a presenter at annual conferences of the National Association of Independent Schools, the International Boys' School Coalition, and the Elementary School Headmasters Association.

Burns plays tennis and enjoys squash and most any sport, as well as reading and writing. Lee is married to Sarah, and they have three children. They are members of Second Presbyterian Church, where he serves as a deacon.

Braxton Brady is the chaplain of Presbyterian Day School (PDS) in Memphis, TN. Before coming to PDS, he worked as Bible teacher, athletic director, and assistant principal at Central Day School in Collierville, Tennessee. Brady has served on the boards of various inner city ministries in Memphis. He is a graduate of the Emerging Leaders Program, a program that helps disciple and develop spiritual leaders in the city of Memphis, and founder of Strategic Dads, a ministry that seeks to provide fathers with practical ways to disciple their sons and lead their families.

Brady enjoys spending time with his family, serving in the inner city, and playing golf. He is currently completing his master's degree in theological studies from Covenant Theological Seminary. Brady and his wife, Carrie, have three children.

Visit the book website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Perfect Paperback: 196 pages
Publisher: PDS Publishing (2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0615380611
ISBN-13: 978-0615380612

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Buckle Up

“Roger, liftoff, and the clock is started.”

– Alan B. Shepard Jr., Astronaut

“It was my fear that made me learn everything I could about my airplane and my emergency equipment, and kept me flying respectful of my machine and always alert in the cockpit.”

– Chuck Yeager, General

The engines roar so loudly you can feel your whole body shake as the fighter jet accelerates down the short runway on the aircraft carrier in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. You can smell the burning fuel. Standing on the deck of the carrier, you can’t even see the fighter pilot inside because his plane is racing by at such an incredible speed. You can, though, sense the power of the great plane and the intensity of the takeoff. Just seconds before, the jet was calmly stationed at the end of the carrier, along with a few other ones. But now, just seconds later, amidst burning fuel and an awesome display of speed, it’s at the end of the runway and quickly airborne, racing up into the blue sky.

But where is the plane going?

Like the fighter jet, you are also about to accelerate down a short runway and take off on a great adventure with many possible missions and destinations. During your childhood, your life has probably been pretty steady and stable for the last few years. Sure, there have been ups and downs and you’ve changed and grown as a boy, but boyhood is usually marked by very slow and gradual development compared to the upcoming season in your life. But soon, instead of just hanging out at the end of the runway with the other fighter jets, instead of slowly taxiing back and forth on the runway, your life is about to accelerate in a very intense and rapid period called adolescence. And at the end of adolescence, you will take off into the sky for an even greater adventure: manhood.

Any fighter pilot will probably tell you that good preparation before the flight is essential to a successful mission. He has spent thousands of hours learning to fly. He has considered problems he could encounter and maneuvers he could use in those dangerous situations. He has tested and serviced the plane. He has filled it up with fuel. He has studied the specific flight plan, considered the weather, and learned the goal and details of the mission. The takeoff is but a few seconds; the mission is but a few hours; but the preparation is years in the making.

You are a man in the making. Before you race down that runway and head up into the sky, it’s important and wise to make sure you are well prepared and equipped for the flight. You’d better make sure you know how to fly the plane and that it has fuel in it. You’d better know what you’re going to do when you come under enemy attack. And, most importantly, you’d better know what the mission is and where you’re going. It’s easy to get lost in the vast sky without a plan.

Manhood is the same way. You’ll be there before you know it, and if you haven’t done your preparations in advance, you can make a lot of unnecessary mistakes as you’re racing down the runway of adolescence. Not only will you make more mistakes without good preparation now, but you can cause yourself—and others—a lot of harm and heartache as well. You can crash on the runway or take off in the wrong direction, and you might never grow into the sort of man God designed you to be. We don’t want you to crash or fly to the wrong destination or get lost in the sky.

This book is designed to give you a mission and flight plan:

We’ll tell you what your purpose is as a man. We’ll tell you what it means to be a man: what your destination is.

We’ll tell you how to accelerate properly and safely down the short runway of adolescence you are about to begin.

We’ll tell you about some problems you are likely to encounter and how you can defeat them before they make you crash or change your flight plan.

We’ll encourage you to get some good co-pilots and flight instructors and technical staff, both your age and older men, who will support and help you on your journey.

So buckle up! The next few years of your life will be a great adventure. Changes like these are on the way:

Your mind, body, emotions and relationships will be changing in ways that you can’t fully understand until you have experienced them.

You will feel new and more intense passions and desires.

You will think about girls, your friends and your parents differently than you do now, and you will relate to them in new ways.

You will think about yourself differently.

You will long for more independence and new challenges.

You will dream new dreams and develop your own identity.

Every adventure also has its share of difficulties and dangers. Self-esteem often dips during your teenage years (though many boys try to hide that on the outside). While you will enjoy and appreciate the increasing freedoms, they will bring temptations that can be hard to resist, and the consequences for a poor decision can be costly. While your body will grow in size and strength, it can be an awkward process with aches and acne. Girls can make your heart race and your heart break. All in all, adolescence can be like riding a roller coaster with many ups and downs.

In this book, we’ll give you as complete and honest of a look at the journey ahead as we can. We want this to be authentic and cover the real issues and temptations that you will likely encounter in the upcoming months and years. We are addressing the topics that boys tell us are on their minds and that teenage boys say they are struggling with. While some of these topics can be embarrassing or difficult, we believe that it is better to know on the front end what you will probably face, and we want to help equip and prepare you for facing them.

But it’s not just the next few years that we care about. We want you to have a vision for the sort of man God wants you to be when you have passed through the adolescent years. That’s our ultimate goal. If you will set your eyes on the final goal—the sort of man you should become—then that will direct you in how you navigate the teenage years. Approaching challenges with the end result in mind is always the best way to begin. Great coaches begin the season talking about where they want the team to be at the end of the season. They talk about conference championships and bowl games and final rankings.

Coaches give their players a playbook to instruct them on how they want the game to be played. God has given you His playbook to help you navigate through the issues that you will be facing in the next few years. Boys are often surprised to hear that the Bible speaks on so many topics. Drinking, peer pressure, friendships, families, girls, even puberty and sex—the Bible gives us perspective and instruction in these matters. It speaks to the role and responsibilities of men. It tells you the sort of man, husband and father you should be one day. It tells all of us how to approach our work and worship and the girls and women in our lives. It talks about our self-worth, our successes, and the stuff we own, use and want to have. It covers difficulties and failures. It tells us about the forgiveness you can experience for all of our mistakes, including ones you may have already committed. We’ll cover all of these topics in this book.

But even more than covering these topics, the Bible describes God’s love for you. Rather than primarily advice and rules, the Bible, most importantly, is the true story of the good news of how much God loves us and how He is seeking to save us. It’s the good news of what He has done for us rather than what we can do for Him. I
t’s about what we can receive rather than what we must achieve.

We hope that by helping to develop your thinking about these teenage topics and understanding God’s love, grace and pursuit of us, you will grow in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man. Our desire is that one day you will become a better man, husband and father, and we hope that you will, long before then, deepen your faith and walk with the Lord Jesus Christ; we hope you at least begin to explore questions in your mind and heart about who this God of the Bible is and what He means when He says in Jeremiah 29:11 that He has plans to grow and prosper you.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

1. What are some of the issues that you think will be difficult for you in the next few years?

2. Does the idea of becoming a man scare you or make you nervous? Why or why not?

3. If you could have one question answered about the road ahead for you, what would it be?

4. Is your dad available to talk with you about adolescence and the journey to manhood? If he is not

available, who could you talk to about this important topic?

5. What do you hope to accomplish by reading and studying this book?

6. What is the best piece of advice your dad, mom, adult leader, coach, or mentor has given you so far?

7. How would you define manhood?

8. Do you view the upcoming years of your life as an adventure or just a regular part of your life? Why or why not?

 

Everything Christmas

Hello Will Ferrell? I've got a great book for ELF to read, it's called Everything Christmas! A fun and fantastical way to start the season off right.

Everything Christmas is a real jaunt through holiday miscellany. It has facts about Christmas robots, the words to Silent Night and loads of Christmas meal ideas. Have you ever wondered what a traditional Christmas feast in Denmark looks like? Well wonder no more, Everything Christmas will show you.

My favorite thing in the book is "how to make colorful pine cones for the fireplace". You get to use chemicals like calcium chloride. Not since high school chemistry has Christmas been this fun or this dangerous.

Look out boys, momma's got a brand new bag of Everything, and they do mean everything, Christmas!

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 authors are:

 

 

and the book:

 

Everything Christmas

WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010)

***Special thanks to Staci Carmichael, Marketing and Publicity Coordinator, Doubleday Religion / Waterbrook Multnomah, Divisions of Random House, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

David Bordon and Tom Winters are partners in Bordon-Winters, LLC, a book concept and packaging company that produces successful books and gift products. Their previous titles include the 101 Things You Should Do series, especially the popular 101 Things You Should Do Before Going to Heaven.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 030772929X
ISBN-13: 978-0307729293

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

December 1

Let Us Keep Christmas

Grace Noll Crowell

Whatever else be lost among the years,

Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing;

Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears,

Let us hold close one day, remembering

It’s poignant meaning for the hearts of men.

Let us get back our childlike faith again.

The History of Christmas

Many of our Christmas traditions were celebrated centuries before the Christ child was born. The twelve days of Christmas, the bright fires, the yule log, gift giving, carnivals, carolers going from house to house, holiday feasts, even church processions can all be traced back to the early Mesopotamians. These traditions were passed down throughout the known world and were popular in Rome long before the birth of Christ.

Most historians say that some three centuries after the birth of Christ, Christianity was spreading rapidly. Church leaders were alarmed that their converts continued to honor the ancient celebrations honoring pagan gods. Early Christians had chosen to keep the birth of their Christ child a solemn and religious holiday, without merriment. For centuries they had forbidden their members to take part in those ancient celebrations. But now it seemed it was a losing battle. As a compromise, they agreed to allow their members to partake in a demure and respectful celebration of the birth of Christ. Thus, the Christian celebration we know as Christmas was born in Rome, near the date 336 AD.

The actual date of Christ’s birth is unknown, so the early Christians chose December 25, probably to compete with the wildly popular Roman festival of Saturnalia. Eventually, most of the customs from the festival of Saturnalia were adopted into the celebration of Christmas and given new and sacred meanings.

Today, Christmas is both a holiday and a holy day. In America, it is the biggest event of the year, celebrated by people of all ages.

Christmas Every Day

William Dean Howells

The little girl came into her papa’s study, as she always did Saturday morning before breakfast, and asked for a story. He tried to beg off that morning, for he was very busy, but she would not let him. So he began:

“Well, once there was a little pig—”

She stopped him at the word. She said she had heard little pig stories till she was perfectly sick of them.

“Well, what kind of story shall I tell, then?”

“About Christmas. It’s getting to be the season.”

“Well!” Her papa roused himself. “Then I’ll tell you about the little girl that wanted it Christmas every day in the year. How would you like that?”

“First-rate!” said the little girl; and she nestled into comfortable shape in his lap, ready for listening.

“Very well, then, this little pig—Oh, what are you pounding me for?”

“Because you said little pig instead of little girl.”

“I should like to know what’s the difference between a little pig and a little girl that wanted Christmas every day!”

“Papa!” said the little girl warningly. At this her papa began to tell the story.

Once there was a little girl who liked Christmas so much that she wanted it to be Christmas every day in the year, and as soon as Thanksgiving was over she began to send postcards to the old Christmas Fairy to ask if she mightn’t have it. But the old Fairy never answered, and after a while the little girl found out that the Fairy wouldn’t notice anything but real letters sealed outside with a monogram—or your initial, anyway. So, then, she began to send letters, and just the day before Christmas, she got a letter from the Fairy, saying she might have it Christmas every day for a year, and then they would see about having it longer.

The little girl was excited already, preparing for the old-fashioned, once-a-year Christmas that was coming the next day. So she resolved to keep the Fairy’s promise to herself and surprise everybody with it as it kept coming true, but then it slipped out of her mind altogether.

She had a splendid Christmas. She went to bed early, so as to let Santa Claus fill the stockings, and in the morning she was up the first of anybody and found hers all lumpy with packages of candy, and oranges and grapes, and rubber balls, and all kinds of small presents. Then she waited until the rest of the family was up, and she burst into the library to look at the large presents laid out on the library table—books, and boxes of stationery, and dolls, and little stoves, and dozens of handkerchiefs, and inkstands, and skates, and photograph frames, and boxes of watercolors, and dolls’ houses—and the big Christmas tree, lighted and standing in the middle.

She had a splendid Christmas all day. She ate so much candy that she did not want any breakfast, and the whole forenoon the presents kept pouring in that had not been delivered the night before, and she went round giving the presents she had got for other people, and came home and ate turkey and cranberry for dinner, and plum pudding and nuts and raisins and oranges, and then went out and coasted, and came in with a stomachache crying, and her papa said he would see if his house was turned into that sort of fool’s paradise another year, and they had a light supper, and pretty early everybody went to bed cross.

The little girl slept very heavily and very late, but she was wakened at last by the other children dancing around her bed with their stockings full of presents in their hands. “Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!” they all shouted.

“Nonsense! It was Christmas yesterday,” said the little girl, rubbing her eyes sleepily.

Her brothers and sisters just laughed. “We don’t know about that. It’s Christmas today, anyway. You come into the library and see.”

Then all at once it flashed on the little girl that the Fairy was keeping her promise, and her year of Christmases was beginning. She was dreadfully sleepy, but she sprang up and darted into the library. There it was again! Books, and boxes of stationery, and dolls, and so on.

There was the Christmas tree blazing away, and the family picking out their presents, and her father looking perfectly puzzled, and her mother ready to cry. “I’m sure I don’t see how I’m to dispose of all these things,” said her mother, and her father said it seemed to him they had had something just like it the day before, but he supposed he must have dreamed it. This struck the little girl as the best kind of a joke, and so she ate so much candy she didn’t want any breakfast, and went round carrying presents, and had turkey and cranberry for dinner, and then went out and coasted, and came in with a stomachache, crying.

Now, the next day, it was the same thing over again, but everybody getting crosser, and at the end of a week’s time so many people had lost their tempers that you could pick up lost tempers anywhere, they perfectly strewed the ground. Even when people tried to recover their tempers they usually got somebody else’s, and it made the most dreadful mix.

The little girl began to get frightened, keeping the secret all to herself, she wanted to tell her mother, but she didn’t dare to, and she was ashamed to ask the Fairy to take back her gift, it seemed ungrateful and ill-bred. So it went on and on, and it was Christmas on St. Valentine’s Day and Washington’s Birthday, just the same as any day, and it didn’t skip even the First of April, though everything was counterfeit that day, and that was some little relief.

After a while turkeys got to be awfully scarce, selling for about a thousand dollars apiece. They got to passing off almost anything for turkeys—even half-grown hummingbirds. And cranberri
es—well they asked a diamond apiece for cranberries. All the woods and orchards were cut down for Christmas trees. After a while they had to make Christmas trees out of rags. But there were plenty of rags, because people got so poor, buying presents for one another, that they couldn’t get any new clothes, and they just wore their old ones to tatters. They got so poor that everybody had to go to the poorhouse, except the confectioners, and the storekeepers, and the book sellers, and they all got so rich and proud that they would hardly wait upon a person when he came to buy. It was perfectly shameful!

After it had gone on about three or four months, the little girl, whenever she came into the room in the morning and saw those great ugly, lumpy stockings dangling at the fireplace, and the disgusting presents around everywhere, used to sit down and burst out crying. In six months she was perfectly exhausted, she couldn’t even cry anymore.

And now it was on the Fourth of July! On the Fourth of July, the first boy in the United States woke up and found out that his firecrackers and toy pistol and two-dollar collection of fireworks were nothing but sugar and candy painted up to look like fireworks. Before ten o’clock every boy in the United States discovered that his July Fourth things had turned into Christmas things and was so mad. The Fourth of July orations all turned into Christmas carols, and when anybody tried to read the Declaration of Independence, instead of saying, “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary,” he was sure to sing, “God rest you merry gentlemen.” It was perfectly awful.

About the beginning of October the little girl took to sitting down on dolls wherever she found them—she hated the sight of them so, and by Thanksgiving she just slammed her presents across the room. By that time people didn’t carry presents around nicely anymore. They flung them over the fence or through the window, and, instead of taking great pains to write “For dear Papa,” or “Mama “ or “Brother,” or “Sister,” they used to write, “Take it, you horrid old thing!” and then go and bang it against the front door.

Nearly everybody had built barns to hold their presents, but pretty soon the barns overflowed, and then they used to let them lie out in the rain, or anywhere. Sometimes the police used to come and tell them to shovel their presents off the sidewalk or they would arrest them.

Before Thanksgiving came it had leaked out who had caused all these Christmases. The little girl had suffered so much that she had talked about it in her sleep, and after that hardly anybody would play with her, because if it had not been for her greediness it wouldn’t have happened. And now, when it came Thanksgiving, and she wanted them to go to church, and have turkey, and show their gratitude, they said that all the turkeys had been eaten for her old Christmas dinners and if she would stop the Christmases, they would see about the gratitude. And the very next day the little girl began sending letters to the Christmas Fairy, and then telegrams, to stop it. But it didn’t do any good, and then she got to calling at the Fairy’s house, but the girl that came to the door always said, “Not at home,” or “Engaged,” or something like that, and so it went on till it came to the old once-a-year Christmas Eve. The little girl fell asleep, and when she woke up in the morning—

“She found it was all nothing but a dream,” suggested the little girl.

“No indeed!” said her papa. “It was all every bit true!”

“What did she find out, then?”

“Why, that it wasn’t Christmas at last, and wasn’t ever going to be, anymore. Now it’s time for breakfast.”

The little girl held her papa fast around the neck.

“You shan’t go if you’re going to leave it so!”

“How do you want it left?”

“Christmas once a year.”

“All right,” said her papa, and he went on again.

Well, with no Christmas ever again, there was the greatest rejoicing all over the country. People met together everywhere and kissed and cried for joy. Carts went around and gathered up all the candy and raisins and nuts, and dumped them into the river, and it made the fish perfectly sick. And the whole United States, as far out as Alaska, was one blaze of bonfires, where the children were burning up their presents of all kinds. They had the greatest time!

The little girl went to thank the old Fairy because she had stopped its being Christmas, and she said she hoped the Fairy would keep her promise and see that Christmas never, never came again. Then the Fairy frowned, and said that now the little girl was behaving just as greedily as ever, and she’d better look out. This made the little girl think it all over carefully again, and she said she would be willing to have it Christmas about once in a thousand years, and then she said a hundred, and then she said ten, and at last she got down to one. Then the Fairy said that was the good old way that had pleased people ever since Christmas began, and she was agreed. Then the little girl said, “What’re your shoes made of?” And the Fairy said, “Leather.” And the little girl said, “Bargain’s done forever,” and skipped off, and hippity-hopped the whole way home, she was so glad.

“How will that do?” asked the papa.

“First-rate!” said the little girl, but she hated to have the story stop, and was rather sober. However, her mama put her head in at the door and asked her papa:

“Are you never coming to breakfast? What have you been telling that child?”

“Oh, just a tale with a moral.”

The little girl caught him around the neck again.

“We know! Don’t you tell what, papa! Don’t you tell what!”

William Dean Howells (1837—1920) Best known as an editor and critic, this American fiction writer produced more than forty novels and story collections. He challenged American authors to choose American subjects, portray them honestly, and create characters who use native-American speech. As a critic, he helped to introduce writers like Mark Twain, Hamlin Garland, and Stephen Crane to American readers.

What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past,

courage for the present, hope for the future.

It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow

with blessings rich and eternal, and that

every path may lead to peace.

Agnes M. Pharo

Scented Applesauce-Cinnamon

Ornaments

3 cups applesauce

3 cups ground cinnamon

Mix applesauce and cinnamon together until it is thick enough to hold a form. Flatten the mixture on a flat surface and cut into cookie-cutter shapes.

Place cookie shapes on a cookie sheet to dry for 3 to 4 days depending on the size and thickness of the cookies. If using as a hanging ornament, make a hole with a toothpick before drying.

Makes 15 ornaments.

Chestnut Dressing

8 Tbsp. butter

3 ribs celery with leaves, chopped

16 ounces chestnuts

1 large chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 pound sourdough bread, cubed

3 cups turkey stock

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut a deep X into the flattest side of each chestnut and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes, or until outer skin of chestnut splits. Wrap roasted chestnuts in a towel to keep warm. Peel off the tough outer skin of the chestnut and thinner inner skin with a sharp knife. Chop the chestnuts coarsely and set aside.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Empty skillet contents in
to a large bowl. Add cubed bread, parsley, and enough stock to moisten the mix, about 2 1/2 cups. Stir in chestnuts and add salt and pepper to taste.

Use to stuff poultry or place in a buttered baking dish, drizzle with 1/2 cup more stock, and bake 30 minutes to an hour.

Makes 10–11 cups.

Roasted Goose

1 goose, 10–12 pounds

1 orange, halved

kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

For giblet stock (used in gravy):

2 onions, quartered

1 carrot, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 pints of water

2 sprigs of sage

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 Tbsp. cornstarch (to thicken)

The goose should be defrosted and left at room temperature for at least 2 or 3 hours before cooking to bring it to equilibrium. This will improve the overall texture of the finished product. Remove the giblets from the goose and set aside. Wash the bird thoroughly inside and out with cool water and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Cut away any loose pieces of fat. Then rub the orange inside and outside of the bird. Mix the salt and pepper and rub into the skin and inside the cavity of the bird to season it.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Truss the bird by folding the wings back under the body. Then tie the legs together with butcher’s twine. Lightly prick the skin of the bird several times with a fork to allow the fat to adequately render during the cooking process. It is important not to pierce the flesh of the bird. Place the goose breast-side up on a rack in the roasting pan, and bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes to develop some initial color. Then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and continue cooking for approximately 3 hours.

Make a simple giblet stock to fortify and enrich the gravy while the goose is roasting by placing the giblets in a saucepan with some goose fat and cooking over low heat until browned. Add chopped onion, carrot, celery, herbs, and water. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently for about one hour. Strain and cool until needed.

The goose is done when the internal temperature of the thigh reaches 175°F. For a visual test to see if the goose is cooked, insert a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh. If the juices run clear, then it is ready. If not, then return to the oven for additional roasting time.

Once the goose is cooked, allow it to rest for 20–30 minutes. This will allow the meat to firm up and will help retain the juiciness of the bird. Remove all of the drippings from the roasting pan, strain, and remove the fat. Add these defatted drippings to the giblet broth and season to taste. To thicken the gravy, combine 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch with 3 Tbsp. of water and add to the gravy. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1–2 minutes or until thickened.

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Phillips Brooks

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above,

While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.

O morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth,

And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth!

How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;

So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heav’n.

No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,

Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

Where children pure and happy pray to the blessed Child,

Where misery cries out to Thee, Son of the mother mild;

Where charity stands watching and faith holds wide the door,

The dark night wakes, the glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;

Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.

We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;

O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!

Historical Note:

On Christmas Eve, 1865, Phillips Brooks was in Jerusalem, a trip intended to inspire spiritual rebirth after the horrors of the Civil War. Just a few months earlier, he had spoken at the funeral of President Abraham Lincoln. That clear night as he walked the streets of the Holy City, he had a sudden inspiration. Renting a horse, he set out for Bethlehem. After a solitary journey under the clear night sky, Brooks reached the tiny, remote village and was surrounded by the spirit of the first Christmas. His impoverished soul was refreshed as he considered what had happened there so many years before. Three years later on Christmas Eve, 1868, as he sat alone in his study preparing his sermon for the next day, he felt inspired to pen the words to this beautiful carol.

I, the Lord All-Powerful,

will send my messenger

to prepare the way for me.

Then suddenly the Lord

you are looking for

will appear in his temple.

The messenger you desire

is coming with my promise,

and he is on his way.

(Malachi 3:1, cev)

 

Review: Catching Moondrops

This is Jennifer Valent's third book in the trilogy. She won the Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest in 2007 and I was there to see her win it live. It was such a thrill, because Jennifer is a wonderful writer.

She's done it again with the final book in the trilogy,Catching Moondrops. Every page drips with historical accuracy and engages readers to the point of not being able to put the book down. I loved all the action leading up the climax, but what Jennifer is best at, is gently sowing the power and truth of God into the characters as well as the heart of the reader. Catching Moondrops will stay with you, long after you've read the last word.

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:

 

Catching Moondrops

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (September 20, 2010)

***Special thanks to Maggie Rowe of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jennifer Erin Valent is the 2007 winner of the Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest. A lifelong resident of the South, her surroundings help to color the scenes and characters she writes. In fact, the childhood memory of a dilapidated Ku Klux Klan billboard inspired her portrayal of Depression-era racial prejudice in Fireflies in December. She has spent the past 15 years working as a nanny and has dabbled in freelance, writing articles for various Christian women's magazines. She still resides in her hometown of Richmond, Virginia.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (September 20, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414333277
ISBN-13: 978-1414333274

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

There’s nothing in this whole world like the sight of a man swinging by his neck.

Folks in my parts liked to call it “lynching,” as if by calling it another word they could keep from feeling like murderers. Sometimes when they string a man up, they gather around like vultures looking for the next meal, staring at the cockeyed neck, the sagging limbs, their lips turning up at the corners when they should be turning down. For some people, time has a way of blurring the good and the bad, spitting out that thing called conscience and replacing it with a twisted sort of logic that makes right out of wrong.

Our small town of Calloway, Virginia, had that sort of logic in spades, and after the trouble it had caused my family over the years, I knew that better than most. But the violence had long since faded away, and my best friend Gemma would often tell me that made it okay—her being kept separate from white folks. “Long as my bein’ with your family don’t bring danger down on your heads, I’ll keep my peace and be thankful,” she’d say.

But I didn’t feel so calm about it all as Gemma did. Part of that was my stubborn temperament, but most of it was my intuition. I’d been eyeball to eyeball with pure hate more than once in my eighteen years, and I could smell it, like rotting flesh. Hate is a type of blindness that divides a man from his good sense. I’d seen it in the eyes of a Klansman the day he tried to choke the life out of me and in the eyes of the men who hunted down a dear friend who’d been wrongly accused of murder.

And, at times, I’d caught glimpses of it in my own heart.

The passage of time had done nothing to lessen its stench. And despite the relative peace, I knew full well that hearts poisoned by hateful thinking can only simmer for so long before boiling over.

In May of that year, 1938, that pot started bubbling.

I was on the front porch shucking corn when I saw three colored men turn up our walk, all linked up in a row like the Three Musketeers. I stood up, let the corn silk slip from my apron, and called over my shoulder. “Gemma! Come on out here.”

She must have been nearby because the screen door squealed open almost two seconds after my last words drifted in through the screen. “What is it?”

“Company. Only don’t look too good.” I walked to the top of the steps and shielded my eyes from the sun. “Malachi Jarvis! You got yourself into trouble again?”

The man in the middle, propped up like a scarecrow, lifted his chin wearily but managed to flash a smile that revealed bloodied teeth. “Depends on how you define trouble.”

Gemma gasped at the sight of him and flew down the steps, letting the door slam so loud the porch boards shook. “What in the name of all goodness have you been up to? You got some sort of death wish?”

A man I’d never seen before had his arm wound tightly beneath Malachi’s arms, blood smeared across his shirt front. Malachi’s younger brother, Noah, was on his other side, struggling against the weight, and Gemma came in between them to help.

“He ain’t got the good sense to keep his mouth shut, is all,” Noah said breathlessly.

I went inside to grab Momma’s first aid box, and by the time I got back out, Gemma had Malachi seated in the rocker.

Gemma gave him the once-over and shook her head so hard I thought it might fly off. “I swear, if you ain’t a one to push a body into an early grave. Your poor momma’s gonna lose her ever-lovin’ mind.”

Along with his younger brother and sister, Malachi lived down by the tracks with his widowed momma—as the man of the house, so to speak. He’d taken up being friends with Luke Talley some two years back when they’d both worked for the tobacco plant, and they’d remained close even though Luke had struck out on his own building furniture. Malachi was never one to keep his peace, a fact Gemma had no patience for, and she made it good and clear many a time. Today would be no exception.

“Goin’ around stirrin’ up trouble every which way,” she murmured as she pulled fixings out of the first aid box. “It’s one thing to pick fights with your own kind. Can’t say as though you wouldn’t benefit by a poundin’ or two every now and again. But this foolin’ around with white folks’ll get you into more’n you’re bargainin’ for.”

The man who’d helped Noah shoulder the burden of Malachi reached out to take the gauze from Gemma. “Why don’t you let me get that?”

Gemma didn’t much like being told what to do, and she glared at him. “I can clean up cuts and scrapes. I worked for a doctor past two years.”

Malachi nodded towards the man. “This here man is a doctor.”

I was putting iodine on a piece of cotton, and I near about dropped it on the floor when I heard that. Never in all my born days had I seen a colored man claiming to be a doctor. Neither had Gemma by the looks of her.

“A doctor?” she murmured. “You sure?”

He laughed and extended his hand to her. “Last I checked. Tal Pritchett. Just got into town yesterday. Gonna set up shop down by the tracks.”

Gemma handed the gauze over to him, still dumbfounded.

“What d’you think about that?” Malachi grinned and then grimaced the minute his split lip made its presence known. “A colored doc in Calloway. Shoo-whee. There’s gonna be talkin’ about this!”

The doctor went to work cleaning up Malachi’s wounds. “I ain’t here to start no revolution. I’m just aimin’ to help the colored folks get the help they deserve.”

“Well, you’re goin’ to start a revolution whether you want to or not.” Malachi shut his eyes and gritted his teeth the minute the iodine set to burning. “Folks in these parts don’t much like colored folk settin’ themselves up as smart or nothin’.”

Gemma watched Tal Pritchett like she was analyzing his every move, finding out for herself if he was a doctor or not. I stood by and let her assist him as she’d been accustomed to doing for Doc Mabley until he passed on two months ago. After he’d bandaged up Malachi’s right hand, she seemed satisfied that he was who he said.

Noah slumped down into the other rocker and watched. “It’s one thing to get yourself an education and stand for your right to make somethin’ of yourself. It’s another to go stirrin’ up trouble for the sake of stirrin’ up trouble.”

“I ain’t doin’ it for the sake of stirrin’ up trouble. I done told you that!” Malachi flexed his left hand to test how well his swollen fingers moved. Ain’t no colored man ever goin’ to be free in this here county . . . in this here state . . . in this here world unless somebody starts fightin’ for freedom.”

“Slaves was freed decades ago,” Noah said sharply. “We ain’t in shackles no more.”

“But we ain’t free to live our lives as we choose, neither. You think colored people are ever gonna be more’n house help and field help so long as we let ourselves be treated like less than white people? No sir. We’re less than human to them white folks. They don’t think nothin’ about killin’ so long as who they’re killin’ is colored.”

“Don’t you go bunchin’ all white people together, Malachi Jarvis,” I argued. “Ain’t all white folk got bad feelin’s about coloreds.”

Malachi waved me off in exasperation. “You know I ain’t talkin’ about you, Jessilyn.”

Noah had his hands tightly knotted in his lap and was staring at them like they held all the answers to the world’s problems. “All’s you’re doin’ is gettin’ yourself kicked around.” He looked up at me pleadingly. “This here’s the second time in a week he’s come home banged up.”

I put a hand on Noah’s shoulder and set my eyes on Malachi. “Who did it?”

He put his bandaged right hand into the air, palm up. “Who knows? Some white boys. You get surrounded by enough of ‘em, they all just blend in together like a vanilla milkshake.”

“How’s it you didn’t see them? They jump you or somethin’?”

“Don’t ask me, Jessie. I was just mindin’ my own business in town and then on my way home, they start hasslin’ me.”

“What he was doin’,” Noah corrected, “was tryin’ to get into the whites-only bar.”

Gemma sniffed in disgust. “Shouldn’t have been in no bar in the first place. There’s your first mistake.”

“Whites-only, too.” Noah kicked his foot against the porch rail and then looked up at me quickly. “Sorry.”

I smiled at him and turned my attention back to Malachi. “It’s a good thing Luke ain’t here to see this. He don’t like you drinkin’ and you know it.”

His eyeballs rolled between swollen lids. “I don’t know why he gets his trousers in a knot over it anyhow. Ain’t like there’s prohibition no more. And he’s been known to take a swig or two himself.”

“Luke says you’re a nasty drunk.”

“He is.” Noah knotted his hands back in his lap. “And he’s been at the bottle more often than not of late.”

“Quit tellin’ tales!” his brother barked.

“I ain’t tellin’ tales; I’m tellin’ truth. They can ask anybody at home how late you come in, and how you come in all topsy turvy. He comes home in the middle of the mornin’ and sleeps in till all hours the next day.”

“What about your job at the plant?” Gemma asked.

Malachi closed his eyes and waved her off, but his brother provided the answer for him. “Lost it!” He loosened his grip on his hands and snapped his fingers. “Like that. There’s goes his income.”

“I said I’ll get another job.”

“Oh, like there’s jobs aplenty around these parts for colored folk. And anyways, if you find one, how you gonna’ keep that one?”

Gemma had her hands on her hips, and I knew what that meant. I leaned back against the house and waited for the lecture to commence.

“You talk a fine talk about colored folks needin’ to stand up for equality, but you ain’t doin’ it in any way that’s right and good. You’re goin’ about town gettin’ people’s goat, and tryin’ to get in where you ain’t wanted, and gettin’ yourself all liquored up and useless. Now your family ain’t got the money they depend on you for, and why? Because you walk around livin’ like you ain’t got to do nothin’ for nobody but yourself.”

“I’m standin’ up for the rights of colored folks everywhere.” Malachi was angry now, pink patches spreading on his busted-up cheeks. “You see anyone else in this town willin’ to go toe to toe with the white boys in this county?”

“Don’t put a noble face on bein’ an upstart.”

Malachi pushed Tal’s hand away and sat up tall. “You call standin’ up to white folks bein’ an upstart?”

Doc Pritchett tried to dress the wound on Malachi’s temple, but Malachi pushed his hand away again. That was when the doctor had enough, and he smacked his hands on his thighs and stood up tall and determined in front of Malachi. “I ain’t Abraham Lincoln. I’m just Doc Pritchett tryin’ to fix up an ornery patient, and I ain’t got all day to do it. So I’m goin’ to settle this argument once and for all.” He pointed at Gemma. “She’s right. There ain’t no fightin’ nonsense with more nonsense, and all’s you’re doin’ by gettin’ in the faces of white folks with your smart attitude is bein’ as bad as they’re bein’.” Then he pointed at Malachi. “And he’s right, too. There ain’t never a change brought about that should be brought about without people standin’ up for such change. And sometimes that means bein’ willin’ to fight for what’s right.”

Gemma swallowed hard and didn’t even try to argue. My eyes must have bugged out of my head at the sight of her being tamed so easily.

“Now, I’m all for civil uprisin’,” Tal continued. “I don’t see nothin’ wrong with colored folk sayin’ they won’t be walked on no more. I don’t see nothin’ wrong with wantin’ to use the same bathroom as white folks or sit in the same chairs as white folks. Way I see it, none of that’s goin’ to change unless someone says it has to.” He squatted down in front of Malachi again and stared him down nose to nose. “But all this hot-shottin’ and show-boatin’ ain’t goin’ to do nothin’ but get your rear end kicked. Or worse. You aim to stand tall for somethin’? Fine. Stand tall for it. But don’t you go around thinkin’ these battle scars say somethin’ for you. You ain’t got them by bein’ noble; you got them by bein’ stupid. All’s these scars say is you’re an idiot.”

It was one of the best speeches I’d heard from anyone outside my daddy, and if I’d ever thought for two seconds put together to see a colored man run for governor, I figured Tal Pritchett would be the man for the job. As it was, I knew he was the best man for the job he had now. Sure enough, being a colored doc in Calloway would be a challenge. But I figured he was up for it.

Regardless, he shut Malachi up, and for the next five minutes we all watched him finish his job with skill and finesse. When he’d fixed the last of Malachi’s face, he stood up and clapped his hands. “Suppose that should do it. Don’t see need for any stitchin’ up today. Let’s hope there’s no cause for it in future.” Then he looked at me. “You got someplace out here where I can wash up?”

I held my hand out toward the front door. “Bathroom’s upstairs.”

He hesitated. “I’d just as soon wash up out here.”

I caught the reason for his hesitation but didn’t know what to say. As usual, Gemma did.

“I done lived in this here house for six years now, and I’m just as brown as you. You can feel free to go on up to the bathroom, you hear?”

He looked from Gemma to me, then back to Gemma before nodding. “Yes’m.” And then he disappeared inside.

“Ma’am,” Gemma muttered under her breath. “Ain’t old enough to be called ma’am, least of all by a man no more’n a few years older’n me.”

“You know what happens once you start gettin’ them crows feet . . .”

Gemma whirled about and gave Malachi the evil eye. “Don’t go thinkin’ I won’t hurt you just because you’re all bandaged up.”

Noah got up and paced the porch until Tal came back outside. “Doc, you have any problem gettin’ your schoolin’?”

Tal shrugged and leaned against the porch rail. “No more’n most, I guess. There’s a lot to learn. Why? You thinkin’ about goin’ to college?”

You could have heard a pin drop on that front porch. Never, and I mean never, in all the days Calloway had been on the map, had there ever been a single person, white or black, to step foot at a college. The very idea of that mark being made by a colored boy was a surefire way to start war.

And Noah knew it.

He looked at his feet and kicked the heel of one shoe against the toe of another. “Ain’t possible. I was just wonderin’ aloud, is all.”

“What do you mean it ain’t possible? All’s you’ve got to do is work hard. You can get scholarships and things.”

But Noah took a look at his brother, whose face was hard and tight-lipped, and nodded off toward the road. “Nah, there ain’t no use talkin’ over it. We’d best get home anyhow.”

Tal didn’t push the subject. He just picked his hat up off the porch swing and plopped it on his
head. “Miss Jessie. Miss Gemma. It was a fine pleasure to meet you, and a kindness for you to give us a hand.”

“You should stop by sometime and meet my parents,” I said. “They’re off visitin’, but I’m sure they’d be right happy to know you.”

“I’m sure I’d be right happy to know them, too.” He turned his attention to Gemma. “You said you worked for a doctor?”

“I worked for Doc Mabley. He was a white doctor. Died some two months ago.”

“He let you assist?”

“Only with the colored patients. Doc Mabley was kind enough to help some of them out when they needed it. Otherwise I kept his records, kept up his stock.”

“Well, I’ll tell you, Miss Gemma, I could sure use some help if you’d be obliged. An assistant would be a good set of extra hands, and I could use someone known around here to make my introductions.”

Gemma eyed him up before slowly nodding her head. “Reckon I could.”

“Wouldn’t be much pay, now, you know. Ain’t likely to get much in the way of fees from the patients I’ll be treatin’.”

“Don’t matter so long as I have good work to put my hands to.”

“That it would be. My office is right across the street from the Jarvis house.”

Malachi snorted. “Shack’s more like it.”

“Room enough for me,” Tal said. Then to Gemma, “You think you could stop in sometime this week to talk it over?”

“I can come day after tomorrow if that suits.”

“Nine o’clock too early?”

“No, sir! I’ve kept farm hours all my life.”

He grinned at her. “Nine o’clock then?”

“Nine o’clock.”

Malachi watched the two of them with his swollen eyes, a look of disgust growing more evident on his face. He’d made no secret over the past year about his admiration for Gemma, and the unmistakable attraction that was growing between her and Tal was clearly turning his stomach.

“Mind if we go home?” he muttered. “Before I fall down dead or somethin’?”

Gemma tore her eyes away from Tal to roll them at Malachi. “Would serve you right if you did.”

“And on that cheery note . . .” Malachi groaned on his way down the steps. “I’ll bid you ladies a fine evenin’.”

I gave Noah a playful whack to the head, but he ducked so it only clipped the top. “Luke will be back home tomorrow evenin’. He’ll be itchin’ to see you, I’m sure.”

“I’m itchin’ to see him.” He took the steps in one leap, tossing dust up when he landed. “You tell him to come on by and see us real soon.”

“And tell him to bring his cards,” Malachi added. “He owes me a poker rematch.”

I squinted at him suspiciously. “Only if you play for beans.”

“I hate beans.”

Malachi leaned on Tal for support and Noah scurried to catch up and help. I watched them go, but I wasn’t thinking much about them. I was thinking about Luke. It had been two months since he’d left to collect customers for his furniture-making business, and every day had seemed like an eternity.

The very thought of him got my stomach butterflies to fluttering, but one look at Gemma told me it was another man who had stolen her attention. “That

Doc Pritchett’s a fine man.” I looked at her sideways with a smirk. “Looks about twenty-five or so.”

“So?”

“Good marryin’ age.”

She crossed her arms defiantly. “Jessilyn Lassiter, what’s that got to do with anythin’?”

“Only what I said. I’m only statin’ fact.”

“Mm-hm. I hear ya. You’d be better off keepin’ your facts to yourself.”

She grabbed the first aid box and headed inside, but the sound of that door slamming told me I’d got to her.

It told me Tal Pritchett had got to her, too.

 

Everyone’s Guide to Demons & Spiritual Warfare

This is an excellent book for those wanting to learn more about spiritual warfare. I used to be in the camp who thought that if I simply didn't believe in demons, they didn't exist. For me, I realized that was a very childish view. This book isn't scary to me, because I believe that knowledge is freeing. This guide has empowered me to battle against dark forces. It's a comprehensive guide to understanding different demons and the prayers that keep Satan and his army at bay.

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:

 

Everyone's Guide to Demons & Spiritual Warfare: Simple, Powerful Tools for Outmaneuvering Satan in Your Daily Life

Charisma House (September 7, 2010)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ron Phillips is senior pastor of Abba’s House (Central Baptist Church) in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Under his ministry, this Southern Baptist church has experienced tremendous growth and has exploded into new realms of renewal and spiritual awakening. In 1989 he had an encounter with the Holy Spirit that changed his life forever and produced a deeper passion to reach the world with the powerful message of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. He is a sought-after conference and crusade speaker and the author of 17 books.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Charisma House (September 7, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381272
ISBN-13: 978-1616381271

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

A Rude Awakening

In the classic movie Shenandoah, Jimmy Stewart portrays a widowed patriarch over a large farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. As the Civil War erupts, he longs to keep his family intact and mind his own business. Soon the war comes to his house with a son and daughter murdered and another son missing. But in the climatic scene while the family is worshiping, the young lost son finds his way home.

This pictures human life. Despite all of your efforts, Satan will soon make your life a battleground. I had both a great awakening and a rude awakening that brought me to the battlefront.

A Great Awakening

Some of the most miserable people I know are active, professing Christians. As I sped westward toward Albuquerque, I knew I had become one of that tribe! For whatever accumulated reasons, after ten years of a busy, successful ministry I wanted to quit.

This was not normal ministerial wanderlust―a disease that affects the clergy and whose symptoms include a mad belief that another place of service can fill the void of a lost spiritual relationship. No, this awful agony was a desire to leave the ministry.

While I was flying at six hundred miles an hour toward a speaking engagement, I was writing out my resignation from the ministry. Was this burnout? I had no idea that the living God had different plans. I was about to begin a journey to fullness.

I arrived the night before my scheduled morning speaking time and was immediately frustrated by my room assignment. It was the only one on the hall―far away from the action. I checked the program to see who the other speakers would be. I knew the preacher scheduled to speak, but I had never heard the woman on the program.

But it would be her message on prayer and knowing God that would utterly crush my proud heart.

The next day I sat in the back of the auditorium and listened to her story unfolding. As the wife of a seminary professor who became a state denominational executive, she was thrust into crisis by her husband's sudden death. He had been her spiritual resource and rock. In the back of an ambulance, she faced the reality that all of their shared life was abruptly ending. Now she needed Jesus as never before, and He proved Himself faithful.

This message hammered at my self-pity and self-sufficiency. I believed right. I worked hard. I had read all the deeper-life books, yet I had lost the reality of God's presence. Joyless and burned out, God's Word hammered at my desire to go AWOL.

Struggling inside, I made my way back to my room and collapsed on the bed, weeping. That night, out of a deep sleep I heard my name being called. Awakened, I went to the door and found no one. Soon I was sleeping again and was startled awake by hearing my name called a second time. Th e same thing had happened again. Like Samuel, I knew God awakened me.

This proved to be a great awakening for me. I was led to pick up my Bible and turn to Psalm 91-95. Graciously God spoke to me out of that ancient account. You see, God had not moved; I had! He was still in the secret place awaiting my fellowship. Further, He had “fresh oil” with which to anoint my stale spiritual life. That little room became a sanctuary, and the presence of Jesus swept over me.

In Psalm 91:1-2 we read, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.'” I rediscovered the importance of a devotional life. I became aware that we are in spiritual warfare, facing infernal and invisible forces of wickedness. Prayer came alive in me again. “He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him” (v. 15).

Prayers poured forth from my aching heart―prayers of repentance, worship, and intercession. Through the night God visited me with a fresh filling of His Holy Spirit.

These scriptures came alive! God spoke to me through His precious Word. Here was the message I received that evening.

Psalm 92:10-15 challenged my heart to understand the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Verse 10 says, “I have been anointed with fresh oil.” As I read the verses in that psalm, I could see what had been available to me all the time through the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

My eyes and ears would be open and perceptive to the things of God (Ps. 92:11). My life could again flourish and grow (v. 12). The house of God would again be a place I would enjoy (v. 13). Th e aging process would have no effect on my spiritual life (v. 14). My mouth would be open to praise the Lord for His goodness (v. 15).

After speaking later that day, I flew home thinking everything was going to be better! Little did I know that I had begun a hard journey with Jesus― a journey that contained dark valleys between the mountaintops. I had no idea how desperately I would need the resources I had rediscovered.

The year ahead would be, in the words of Charles Dickens, “the best of times . . . the worst of times.” Th e Spirit-filled life is not only a life of spiritual worship. The enemy saw what God was beginning, and he unleashed a relentless attack on everything precious in my life.

A Rude Awakening

I heard of a boxer who was taking blow after blow. His manager kept hollering, “Stay with it, Joe. You are winning.” After several rounds of this, Joe turned to his manager and said, “If I am winning, I wish somebody would tell him.”

This is the way I felt as my life became a veritable battleground on all fronts for a two-year period. Depression lived at our house. When I returned from that life-changing encounter with the Lord, I found myself immediately in a struggle at home.

Difficulties at Home

In the fall of 1990, both my daughter and my wife totaled their cars on
days. Heather, my daughter, was not seriously injured, and miraculously her car did not go into the flooded creek nearby. She did, however, suffer a blow to the head that has created recurring difficulties, including minor seizures.

My wife, Paulette, was nearly killed. I remember that September morning and the man on the telephone telling me Paulette had been in an accident not far from the house. I drove over the hill on Highway 153 and saw a terrifying scene before me.

Paulette was trapped for forty-five minutes in her little Sunbird. All the bones on the left side of her upper body were broken or crushed. Even some of her teeth were cracked from the blow. She went into shock and nearly died, but the rescue team saved her life. For three months she had to have constant care.

In March of 1991, my dad died suddenly. After struggling all his life with alcohol addiction, he was saved and ordained a deacon at the age of fifty-nine. We had become very close. On Sunday night before his death, he and I talked by phone for an hour. He was my great encourager. Now, at age sixty-nine, Dad was gone.

Trouble at Church

On the church front a woman committed suicide. Then her best friend was hospitalized in a mental unit. She threatened suicide unless I came immediately to see her. I and my associates went up to visit. When we sat down in the room, other voices poured forth from the woman. One of my associates who is gifted in the area of prayer and spiritual warfare began to identify and dismiss these cursing infernal enemies.

In less than an hour thirteen demonic entities identified themselves as suicide, lust, death, cancer, depression, fear, rebellion, rejection, and others. All of them had English names, but as they were asked their real names, in the authority of Jesus, they would reveal their real natures only after a struggle. This dear lady is sti
ll recovering and needs counseling because of past wounds of the enemy, but she is better and, I believe, will be totally well in the future.

This experience opened my eyes to another world, another realm. Suddenly I realized that what had been theory was real warfare! Had I been, as a pastor, some kind of spiritual Don Quixote, fighting with windmills while my people were living in bondage? I fell to my knees, and God's Spirit spoke gently to my spirit. He said, “This is what you asked Me for.” Yes, I wanted the reality of God, and I was discovering from my own pain and from the bondage of others a new direction and passion for ministry.

Immediately the Lord led me to invite a gift ed minister friend to come and lead a spiritual warfare conference. He was a longtime friend in whom God had brought renewal. He and I, along with others, prayed together for months for God to move in life-changing power.

Bishop J. Tod Zeiger came and began to preach on “Strongholds in the Believer's Life.” From the very first service God began to set people free. Revival came to the church, and the meeting had to be extended. Literally hundreds of people had their lives changed during the meeting. Since that day we have seen hundreds more set free through prayer and spiritual warfare. Some of their stories will be found later in this book.

Some were not happy. Years before, through the ministry of Jack Taylor, God had revealed to me the truth of praise and worship. Later, in a worship seminar with Dr. Jack Hayford, God convicted me of my own lack of worship and taught me to worship and love Jesus publicly. As old forms, ideas, and traditions fall, some people grow uncomfortable. Surprisingly, a staff member came and accused me of frightening the people and of not being a true Baptist. Already the enemy had rallied a small group to try to kill the revival and renewal that had come.

At this point one of our members lost her husband to a sudden heart attack. She was left with a teenage son and daughter. She was diagnosed with a bad heart and faced the possibility of life-threatening surgery. When I got the news, my wife and I went immediately to pray for her before she went into the hospital. The Holy Spirit spoke clearly to me and told me, “This sickness is not from Me and will not stand.” I prayed over my friend, rebuking a spirit of infirmity and death. Miraculously, when they examined her the next day, all the symptoms were gone!

Subsequently the staff and members who opposed the renewal and delivering ministry left. For three years the church went through ups and downs of turmoil. Eventually all of the opposition was exposed, and some were found to be guilty of criminal acts. The church survived the difficulty and a multimillion-dollar lawsuit.

Personal Struggles

In the middle of these struggles I was attacked with a life-threatening situation. One Thursday evening, Kelli, my grown daughter, came over to spend the night because she had dreamed that I was sick. Th at night around 1:00 a.m. I awoke sick and dizzy. I went to the bathroom and collapsed there, losing consciousness. My daughter heard the fall in the other room and came in to see what it was.

In my unconscious state I was at peace. I caught a fleeting glimpse of the brightness and glory of another world, and for a moment I smelled the sweet atmosphere of the other world. Then, as if far away, I could hear Kelli's voice calling, “Dad, Dad . . . ,” and I came back. I was hospitalized for a week with stress-related heart problems and still take a pill every day to keep the heartbeat steady.

It was this experience that taught me the key truth of spiritual warfare: the battle is not ours but His. My heart doctor walked in to see me and said, “Pastor, you must practice what you preach if you are going to live.” Out of this time God taught me what I will be sharing with you in the rest of this book. God can equip you to do His work and His will.

Season of War and Peace

I have discovered that spiritual warfare's intensity is seasonal. God cycles include seasons of rest, and yet it is His will that we “fight the good fi ght of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12).

We must be alert to our enemy at all times. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). It is our task to resist his schemes. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will fl ee from you.” (James 4:7).

The material that follows is designed to equip you to do battle over the spiritual darkness that comes against you. Th e Christian walks through a war zone. Yet the victory is ours. God rarely removes difficulty, but He walks us through these valleys. God is determined to teach us that we cannot live without Him. We need to be fully furnished with the spiritual armor and resources that are already ours.

 

Coffee Shop Conversations

Thank you to Zondervan for providing me with a copy of this book.

I found Coffee Shop Conversations to be helpful in showing me how to have meaningful conversations with others who do not share my faith. There is a gentleness,a respect and love in their instruction for being in relationship with others.

Early on in the book, the Finchers remind us that "walling people into categories prevents us from loving them." This is true. We cannot love people if we've made negative judgements and especially when we do it within the first seven seconds of meeting them.

Authors Dale and Jonalyn Fincher are doing great work in the area of developing tolerance toward all.

Win a $25 gift card to Starbucks by following them on twitter @Soulation. Let them know you did by leaving a comment HERE and you'll be entered into the drawing.

Out Live Your Life

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While in his 25th year of publishing and having written over 50 books, Max Lucado's latest book is wonderful. Out Live Your Life inspires the reader to do exactly that. We were all put on earth for a reason, each one with a unique purpose. Like a favorite roots album from the 70's, reading Lucado is like listening to your favorite songs over and over again. One never tires of the power, authenticity, simplicity and "every man voice" that Lucado writes in.

Out Live Your Life is more than a book. It's a call to action; a call for real living.

"None of us can help everyone. But all of us can help someone. And when we help them, we serve Jesus," he writes. 

I certainly cannot help everyone, but I can most definitely help someone.

With deepest thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing me with a review copy.

 

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