Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Big Picture by Jenny B. Jones

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Big Picture

(NavPress Publishing Group April 15, 2008)


Jenny B. Jones

Jenny B. Jones is the author of A Katie Parker Production series. The other books in the series are In Between and On The Loose. Though now an adult, she still relates to the trauma and drama of teen life. She is thrilled to see her writing dreams come true, as her previous claim to fame was singing the Star Spangled Banner at a mule-jumping championship. (The mules were greatly inspired.)

Jenny resides in Arkansas, where, as a teacher, she hangs out with teens on a regular basis.

Sometimes there’s a fine line between comedy and tragedy—and Katie Parker is walking it.

School is winding down for the summer but Katie Parker is having a bad day. After leaving the drive-in, where her imploding love life was the main attraction, Katie arrives home to a big surprise on the Scott's front porch.

Her mother, Bobbie Ann Parker, a former convict and recovering addict, wants to take Katie away from her family, friends, and church. Now Katie's life will be changed by a series of dramatic choices as she struggles to understand what family and home really means.

Katie is forced to walk away from In Between, leaving behind a family who loves her, a town drive-in to save, and a boyfriend who suddenly can’t take his eyes off his ex. When the life her mother promised begins to sink faster than one of Maxine’s stuffed bras, Katie knows she needs to rely on God to keep it together.

But where is he in all this? Can Katie survive a chaotic life with her mother—and one without the Scotts? And if God is there, will he come through before it’s too late?

A Katie Parker Production series offers teen girls real-world fiction balanced by hope and humor. The The Big Picture helps us realize that the difficult chapters in our journey are only part of God's big story for our lives.

You can read the first chapter HERE

"A heroine to love. Jones just gets better with every book, and The Big Picture is her best one yet."
~BARBARA WARREN, author of The Gathering Storm

"Such inspiration in a package of fun and faith!"
~EVA MARIE EVERSON, author of the Potluck Club series

This is book three of a series. I have my eyes set on getting "In Between" Act 1, before reading this one, and when I do, do not worry, you'll get a review! MJ

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Begotten by Lisa T. Bergren: a review (as promised!)

Last week was the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour for The Begotten by Lisa T. Bergren and here is my promised review.

See updated review below...

(From Summer 2007) I did not finish reading this book. I know that it is just a fiction novel, but there were too many things in this book that were troublesome to me that I believe Christians should not put themselves in the situation to have to endure if they can help it. I do not recommend this book. It is gnostic and if someone wants to study gnostism they should instead read the gnostic gospels for themselves, not books such as this.

(From Today) I attempted to read this book last summer when it was fairly new out and there was so much attention going on to the DaVinci Code stuff. I was thrown off and was not interested. Because of a blog tour I decided to give the book another chance. The book deals with a "what if" scenario of some lost letters of Paul to the Corinthians. The idea of lost letters is true enough, the what if is from the author of this book here. For a book, this is a fairly good and adventurous story. The tale is interesting and does keep one turning pages and curious. Overall the main message is the love of Christ, and it is sad I feel that I was turned away from this book earlier on, because of what I assumed it would be. I'm very glad that I had a chance to redo those thoughts. I do recommend this book for those with a desire for adventure. Some have said this is on the lines of Lawhead, and while I wouldn't quite say that, it still is an enjoyable and entertaining read with the love of God as the main theme through out. Even if it is a little charismatic.


The Mom to William Tell Overture by Anita Renfroe

"The Mom" song, sung to the William Tell Overture, by Anita Renfroe.
What a mom says in 24 hours, condensed into 2 minutes and 55 seconds! Hilarious and talented!
Lyrics for "The Mom Song" is given below.

"The Mom Song"

Get up now
Get up now
Get up out of bed
Wash your face
Brush your teeth
Comb your sleepyhead
Here's your clothes and your shoes
Hear the words I said
Get up now! Get up and make your bed
Are you hot? Are you cold?
Are you wearing that?
Where's your books and your lunch and your homework at?
Grab your coat and gloves and your scarf and hat
Don't forget! You gotta feed the cat
Eat your breakfast, the experts tell us it's the most important meal of all
Take your vitamins so you will grow up one day to be big and tall
Please remember the orthodontist will be seeing you at 3 today
Don't forget your piano lesson is this afternoon so you must play
Don't shovel
Chew slowly
But hurry
The bus is here
Be careful
Come back here
Did you wash behind your ears?
Play outside, don't play rough, will you just play fair?
Be polite, make a friend, don't forget to share
Work it out, wait your turn, never take a dare
Get along! Don't make me come down there
Clean your room, fold your clothes, put your stuff away
Make your bed, do it now, do we have all day?
Were you born in a barn? Would you like some hay?
Can you even hear a word I say?
Answer the phone! Get off the phone!
Don't sit so close, turn it down, no texting at the table
No more computer time tonight!
Your iPod's my iPod if you don't listen up
Where are you going and with whom and what time do you think you're coming home?
Saying thank you, please, excuse me makes you welcome everywhere you roam
You'll appreciate my wisdom someday when you're older and you're grown
Can't wait till you have a couple little children of your own
You'll thank me for the counsel I gave you so willingly
But right now I thank you not to roll your eyes at me
Close your mouth when you chew, would appreciate
Take a bite maybe two of the stuff you hate
Use your fork, do not burp or I'll set you straight
Eat the food I put upon your plate
Get an A, get the door, don't get smart with me
Get a grip, get in here, I'll count to three
Get a job, get a life, get a PHD
Get a dose of,
"I don't care who started it!
You're grounded until you're 36"
Get your story straight and tell the truth for once, for heaven's sake
And if all your friends jumped off a cliff would you jump, too?
If I've said it once, I've said at least a thousand times before
That you're too old to act this way
It must be your father's DNA
Look at me when I am talking
Stand up straighter when you walk
A place for everything and everything must be in place
Stop crying or I'll give you something real to cry about
Brush your teeth, wash your face, put your PJs on
Get in bed, get a hug, say a prayer with mom
Don't forget, I love you
And tomorrow we will do this all again because a mom's work never ends
You don't need the reason why
Because, because, because, because
I said so, I said so, I said so, I said so
I'm the mom, the mom, the mom, the mom, the mom!!
Ta da!!!

America and Presidents

I share this. You should read it.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Where Would Cows Hide? by D.C. Stewart

D.C. Stewart grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, and spent most of her childhood getting into trouble with her younger brother on their ranch. She began writing short stories in high school, and won a writing competition at a nearby college at age 17. After graduating, she attended Northwestern Oklahoma State University and earned a degree in History, and also met her husband, Scott. She worked for a church in Maumelle, Arkansas as the Communications Coordinator for five years. After moving back to Oklahoma, she chose to stay home with their four year old twin boys, and six month old baby girl, and to pursue her dream of being a full-time writer. The Stewart’s live in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Where Would Cows Hide? is her first novel.

*SUPER GIVEAWAY: Denice is featuring a super-giveaway to 1 lucky blog commenter. At the end of the blog tour, the Grand Prize Winner will get: a gift basket with more tweener books and goodies.


Author D.C. Stewart is giving you a chance to win a copy of WHERE WOULD COWS HIDE?, and more! Here’s how to enter for a copy of WWCH and to enter the grand prize drawing:

1) leave a comment on this blog post (or on any of the blogs participating in the blog tour);

2) email the contest coordinator at with subject line “WWCH ENTRY”;

3) join D.C. Stewart’s ezine list by either sending a blank email to: or visiting and subscribing through the yahoogroups page.

Book winners and the GRAND PRIZE WINNER will be drawn on or before May 31st, 2008 and will be notified by email. Please make sure you leave a valid email address on applicable blog posts.

An interview with D.C. Stewart:

MC: The title "Where Would Cows Hide?" is one of those that catches you and make you go, "wait, what?". Where were you and what were you doing, when you came up with the idea of missing cows?
DS: The idea of "missing cows" is actually sort of a true story. My parent's ranch is located 5-10 miles from the nearest town, and they don't live on the land there. They live in town. But someone was really stealing their cattle, late at night, by loading anything they could catch into a trailer and hauling them to an auction in Oklahoma City. Several ranchers in the area were hit, and the thieves were caught at the auction after the county sheriff notified the people who ran the auction which cattle brands to look for.
MC: At the between age, it is often difficult to find books that you can relate to their plot and characters, what made you choose twin boys and make the sister the odd one instead of girls with an annoying brother?

DS: Well, I have 4 year old twins and my husband is a twin, so the idea of twins came pretty naturally. And I chose to write from the boys perspective because I was a tomboy growing up. Still am, to a certain degree. I could just relate better to what the boys would think in certain situations, and having a little sister always getting in the way made sense to me, even though I only have a little brother.
MC: Today with video games, and television it seems that less children and adults read. How important do you believe the task of getting the tween-age group back into a love of books is in our society?
DS: That is probably my number one focus when I write a book. How do I compete with video games and television? To have well rounded, well educated individuals they need to be well read. Books offer soooo much more than TV ever can, and when I write, I try to pack all the emotion, action, and excitement into the book I possibly can. I firmly believe books take you places video games and movies could never go.
MC:What are your thoughts on the saying of C.S. Lewis that, "Any children's book that's not worth reading as an adult isn't worth reading as a child either." ? Would you then say that even though your books are labeled YA, they are suitable for everyone's enjoyment?
DS: Absolutely. I want parents/grandparents, to be able to pick up the book and cringe at the situations the characters are in while remembering the trouble they got into as kids themselves.
MC: What is the main theme and idea that you want readers to walk away from your book with?

DS: If you're going to have an adventure, have it with God. The faith journey is the greatest adventure of anyone's life. Embrace the journey and enjoy it.
MC: Thank you for sharing words and time! MJ

DS: Thank you for having me as a guest on your blog. It's been a pleasure.
D.C. Stewart

My Thoughts:
This book was quite the adventure for the entire Parker family, but especially for twin brothers Charlie and Brad. For a tweener novel, this book is great. For an adult, it is also interesting and entertaining. The end of the book held me in such suspense that I just could not figure what would happen next! I'm excited about the prospect of reading other novels by D.C. Stewart and recommend her books for others to read as well. This story would be enjoyed by girls and guys alike. Read it, and let me know what you think!!


You’ll also find reviews, fun banners, and more cool stuff along the way. Join us for the WHERE WOULD COWS HIDE? blog tour at these blogs:

April 15, 2008 : Lacy Williams at
April 16, 2008 : Donna Moore at
April 17, 2008 : Carolyn Strawder at
April 18, 2008 : Margaret Daley at
April 19, 2008 : Debbie Archer at
April 20, 2008 : Brittanie Terrell at
April 21, 2008 : Gina Conroy at
April 22, 2008 : Justin Boyer at
April 23, 2008 : Charlotte Schofield at
April 24, 2008 : LaShaunda Hoffman at,
April 25, 2008 : Jenny at
April 26, 2008 : Laura Williams at
April 27, 2008 : Mrs. Margaret Chind at
April 28, 2008 : Antionette V. Lee at
April 29, 2008 : Myra Johnson at
April 30, 2008 : Laura Hilton at
May 1, 2008 : Leslie Sowell at
May 2, 2008 : Kathy Brasby at
May 3, 2008 : Camy Tang at
May 4, 2008 : Karla Cook at
May 5, 2008 : Carla Stewart at
May 6, 2008 : Pamela Morrison at
May 7, 2008 : Ashley at
May 8, 2008 : Kim Ford at
May 9, 2008 : Christa Allen at
May 10, 2008 : Heather Thomas at
May 11, 2008 : Deena Peterson at
May 12, 2008 : Michelle Kralicek at
May 13, 2008 : Leah Sande at
May 14, 2008 : Rachelle Arlin Credo at
May 15, 2008 : Amy Lathrop at
May 16, 2008 : Janna Ryan at
May 17, 2008 : Kristy Walker at
May 18, 2008 : Amy Riley at
May 19, 2008 : Mimi Baker at
May 20, 2008 : Kathie Nolasco at
May 21, 2008 : Julia Graham at
May 22, 2008 : Ashley Rutherford at

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Winter Haven by Athol Dickson

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(Bethany House April 1, 2008)


Athol Dickson


Athol Dickson's university-level training in painting, sculpture, and architecture was followed by a long career as an architect then his decision several years ago to devote full time to writing.

Athol Dickson’s writing has been favorably compared to the work of Octavia Butler
(Publisher’s Weekly), Daphne du Maurier (Cindy Crosby, and FlanneryO’Connor (The New York Times).

His They Shall See God was a Christy Award finalist and his River Rising was a Christy Award winner, selected as one of the Booklist Top Ten Christian Novels of 2006 and a finalist for Christianity Today's Best Novel of 2006.

He and his wife, Sue, live in Southern California. Visit for more information.


Boys who never age, giants lost in time, mist that never rises, questions never asked...on the most remote of islands off the coast of Maine, history haunts the present and Vera Gamble wrestles with a past that will not yield. Will she find refuge there, or will her ghosts prevail on...Winter Haven

Eleven years ago, Vera Gamble's brother left their house never to be seen again. Until the day Vera gets a phone call that his body has been found...washed ashore in the tiny island town of Winter Haven, Maine. His only surviving kin, Vera travels north to claim the body...and finds herself tumbling into a tangled mystery. Her brother hasn't aged a day since last she saw him.

Determined to uncover what happened in those lost years, Vera soon discovers there are other secrets lurking in this isolated town. But Winter Haven's murky past now seems bound to come to light as one woman seeks the undeniable and flooding light of truth.

Review Coming Soon! Blogger is misbehaving and I'm going out of town... but I'll get you your review, you just wait!!! - MJ 

CSFF The Begotten by Lisa T. Bergren, Day 3

Would you like to know something that annoys me?
- People who join blog tours and then post nothing! At least something please, but nothing!


I digress, sorry.

Today is Day 3 for the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy blog tour. Look at Monday and Tuesday for the other day posts and interesting information.

Today I would be posting my review, but I'm not done yet! So you'll have to wait, but it's coming!


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

CSFF The Begotten by Lisa T. Bergren, Day 2

Day 2 on the April Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour of Monday - Wednesday, April 21-23rd is Lisa Tawn Bergren's book, The Begotten, book #1 in The Gifted Series. (see yesterday for day 1) So, about that email I mentioned yesterday... here for your conversation perusal purposes... my email to Lisa and her response!

Dear Lisa,

Last summer I worked in an embroidery shop in a historic downtown and there were many more "free" hours than there were customers and it was during that time that I discovered Christian fiction. I have to admit that your book was available from the library as a new book and I started reading it. I did not get very far, I stopped because it was so different and frightened me that it would be so like The Di Vinci Code with the heresy and blasphemy so I put it back. Now, I have read such reviews, and received it as I'm a part of the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour group. The reviews that I have read have been incredible and have shown me that I've stopped too early! The topper, is to receive the book and have my all-time-favorite author as an endorser on the front cover!! (Liz Curtis Higgs, of course!) So, I'm reading the book again, when more trust. :) [...] I'd really love to be able to share your book with others and get them to see it for what it really is and not walk away early frightened by what they do not understand and assume. (Like I did.)

What are some good websites you recommend? Good books and articles that
explain what lost or gnostic books are for your readers? Anything you
want to share with readers.


Margaret, Thanks for giving it another whirl! I understand not wanting to expose yourself to the dark--there's too much light to let in! But what I found interesting in researching The Gifted, was that their battles--realistic for medieval times--are still some of the battles we face today. We NEED some knowledge, NEED to do some thinking on our place in the battle, if we are to be affective warriors for Christ. That said, I had a bunch of people praying for me as I began to research and continued to research. Thank God for the Holy Spirit! In regard to gnosticism--when I was researching (five years ago now!), I mostly went to the web to read up on it. While it is a part of the texture and gave me some context in my books, it is not a central focus, as in Da Vinci Code. My characters are more drawn by the sins we face today--greed, power, lust, etc. And my evil characters are drawn from my research about black magic practiced in the day...and the subtle ways Satan uses everyone and everything he can to draw us. They do not address Christ's divinity nor prescribe to the "spirit over body" concepts--which would be in keeping with gnosticism--they simply try to draw his followers away, break them down, use them for their own dark purposes. They revel in the human body and off-camera, they're obviously involved in dark practices in regard to the body. This is historically accurate and reflects modern day society too. How much time do we spend thinking about our bodies? How many ways do we defile God's temple? Over and over again, I found parallels. Everything old is new again. One thing I would tell your readers is that this series exponentially expanded my understanding of how we are all in a spiritual battle, whether we take the time to think about it or not. I adore the writings of John Eldredge for this reason alone--he's constantly calling us to wake up, pay attention--much like the Bible does as well. [...]
Blessings on your head,

And then... (nothing new for the other members of the tour, but new to some!!!) there is this...

Q: Is The Begotten the first book?
A: Yes, the trilogy is written in this order: The Begotten, The Betrayed, and The Blessed (Fall 2008 release).

Q: What’s this trilogy, The Gifted, about?
A: It’s about a group of spiritually gifted people brought together to introduce religious and spiritual change, and are therefore battling forces of evil—and even the Church.

Q: Why did you write The Gifted?
A: I read The Da Vinci Code in 24 hours—the first novel I’d read that fast in a long time. The pace, the intrigue caught me. But I was horrified by the heresy in the end. Many people read it as “story,” “just one idea,” but many others believe it to be a viable alternative. That’s why story is so valuable to us…it lives in our minds and hearts and helps us see different angles, different perspectives. But when that is used to tear down truth, we’re in trouble.
At the same time, I was totally captivated by The Lord of the Rings trilogy on film. I’d always been a Lewis and Tolkien fan, but to see those works of fiction come to life on screen was something that deeply moved me. It awakened in me a desire to write an epic trilogy on the scale of LOTR (I know, as if…but it was the inspiration), and with the mystery of Da Vinci Code.
So I set out to find a biblical mystery and asked some theologian friends. They both came back with the “missing letters of St. Paul,” letters Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians in the biblical text. I thought, “What else might he have sent to the Corinthians? Written about?” Wanting to stick to the biblical text we do have, I centered on the spiritual gifts he writes about, and set my books in the most difficult period I could imagine for such gifts to emerge—pre-Reformation, pre-Renaissance—in the era of the Inquisition. Conflict. Drama. Intrigue. Power. Potential for some very cool fictional things to transpire!

Q: So you’re done with The Blessed. Is the series complete with that book?
A: When I finished my last trilogy, I was most definitely done with the characters. When fans wrote to ask for more, I’d say, “They’re fine! Let them live happily ever after!” This group so intrigues me, I think it could go on. Yes, there’s a nice ending to book #3 and there’s no current plans for additional books. But hey, if we find the readership and sales take off, there are definitely more stories in these people—because Satan, our perennial enemy, is always present. That’s what I love…The Gifted are really us, God’s people, out in the world, uniquely gifted to do his good work. If we’re willing. The story goes on in real life, if not in my books.

Q: What’s the bio you want out there?
A: Here ‘tis: Lisa T. Bergren is the best-selling author of 28 books, 14 of them novels. She is a full-time writer and freelance editor living in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with her husband Tim, an artist, and their three young children. Lisa is currently concepting three different novels—a trilogy set in historical Colorado, a medieval novel about a pirate queen, and a Renaissance novel about a woman who loved the great sculptor, Bernini. She loves to explore, travel and experience life—on foot or in her novels. Her web sites are and and soon,

Thanks again for giving me the web space on your page! I appreciate it.

Every good thing,
Lisa T. Bergren

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Chosen by Ted Dekker: a review

I'm not sure what I think about this book. I sit here and feel that there is so much to ponder beyond what was written. The story itself is fast paced and you must pay attention for one thing happens after another in a perfect harmony. The characters are great and lovable, while the villains are very much the opposite as should be. I can tell from reading this story that there is so much more in Ted's mind of what is going on and I'm curious about more related books to see what more I can delve from this world. It appears that there is more than one world, and more than one series that connects and I'm curious to learn more.


Chosen by Ted Dekker

It's April 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 21st, we will feature an author and his/her latest Teen fiction book's FIRST chapter!

and his book:

Thomas Nelson (January 1, 2008)

I'm almost through reading the book, which is quite intriguing! When I finish, a full review to come! - MJ


Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.

After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.

Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. To see a complete list of Dekker's work, visit The Works section of

Here are some of his latest titles:


Black: The Birth of Evil (The Circle Trilogy Graphic Novels, Book 1)




Our story begins in a world totally like our own, yet completely different. What once happened here in our own history seems to be repeating itself thousands of years from now,
some time beyond the year 4000 AD.

But this time the future belongs to those who see opportunity before it becomes obvious. To the young, to the warriors, to the lovers. To those who can follow hidden clues and find a great
treasure that will unlock the mysteries of life and wealth.

Thirteen years have passed since the lush, colored forests were turned to desert by Teeleh, the enemy of Elyon and the vilest of all creatures. Evil now rules the land and shows itself as a painful, scaly disease that covers the flesh of the Horde, a people who live in the desert.

The powerful green waters, once precious to Elyon, have vanished from the earth except in seven small forests surrounding seven small lakes. Those few who have chosen to follow the ways of Elyon now live in these forests, bathing once daily in the powerful waters to cleanse their skin of the disease.

The number of their sworn enemy, the Horde, has grown in thirteen years and, fearing the green waters above all else, these desert dwellers have sworn to wipe all traces of the forests from
the earth.

Only the Forest Guard stands in their way. Ten thousand elite fighters against an army of nearly four hundred thousand Horde. But the Forest Guard is starting to crumble.


Day One

Qurong, general of the Horde, stood on the tall dune five miles west of the green forest, ignoring the fly that buzzed around his left eye.

His flesh was nearly white, covered with a paste that kept his skin from itching too badly. His long hair was pulled back and woven into dreadlocks, then tucked beneath the leather body armor
cinched tightly around his massive chest.

“Do you think they know?” the young major beside him asked.

Qurong’s milky white horse, chosen for its ability to blend with the desert, stamped and snorted.

The general spit to one side. “They know what we want them to know,” he said. “That we are gathering for war. And that we will march from the east in four days.”

“It seems risky,” the major said. His right cheek twitched, sending three flies to flight.
“Their forces are half what they once were. As long as they think we are coming from the east, we will smother them from the west.”

“The traitor insists that they are building their forces,” the major said.

“With young pups!” Qurong scoffed.

“The young can be crafty.”

“And I’m not? They know nothing about the traitor. This time we will kill them all.”

Qurong turned back to the valley behind him. The tents of his third division, the largest of all Horde armies, which numbered well over three hundred thousand of the most experienced warriors, stretched out nearly as far as he could see.

“We march in four days,” Qurong said. “We will slaughter them from the west.”

CSFF The Begotten by Lisa T. Bergren, Day 1

CSSF Blog Tour

Today is a busy day in my blog world. For the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour this month, taking place this Monday - Wednesday, April 21-23rd is Lisa Tawn Bergren's book, The Begotten, book #1 in The Gifted Series. I
had put in an e-mail with a bunch of things to Lisa, but haven't heard back yet... So, today I'll get you started with the basics.

Click on the title above to go to the Amazon page for purchase or more information.
Click on Lisa's name above to go to her website, to find out more about her and her other books.

You may have heard of Lisa before, she also write
s those wonderful God Gave Us... books.
God Gave Us Christmas, God Gave Us You, God Gave Us Two, and coming soon God Gave Us Heaven, and How Big is God?

The Begotten, The Betrayed, and The Blessed (Fall 2008) are the three books that make up The Gifted Series. It is about a group of spiritual gifted people brought together to introduce religious and spiritual change, and are therefore battling forces of evil--and even the Church as this takes place during the time of the Inquisition.

Last summer, while working at the Embroidery Shop, I had a lot of time on my hands and therefore, spent that time doing a lot of reading. This book in hardback (see the first photo), The Begotten was new in the library and I started reading it. This was shortly after the crazy The Da Vinci Code madness had quieted down from the book and the film. I started reading this book and did not get very far and felt quite certain this book was not for me and that I could waste my time elsewhere and not on something that was full of such heresy and blasphemy. I returned the book and did not look back. Then when the title came (see second photo for paperback cover) the schedule for the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour I was intrigued and figured I must have stopped too early if it was a work that they were endorsing. So, here I try again. Also, the endorsement on the front of the paperback cover is none other than my all time favorite author, so obviously I had missed something!

Continue on down for a review, an an excerpt!

In the next few days check back for more interesting things with this book, series and genre.


I am reading the book again and I'm not prepared for a full review to share with you, but I can share a review that I found very intriguing from Deb at Books Movies & Chinese food:
Middle Ages Version of X-Men

A lot of times we like to play the what if question. This can lead to long drawn out debates on what could have happen if something had taken place. Sometimes we worry that things would have been radically different if things had changed. Other times times we speculate on the possibilities that could have taken place if only such and such had taken place. That is the premise of The Begotten. Paul had written many letters to churches. What if there had been another letter sent to a special group of people called The Gifted?

Set during the time of the Inquisition, the secret of Paul's extra letter is trying to be kept hidden by the holy leaders. They are against females holding high authority and wish to keep any knowledge about it in secret. Years later however, individuals with secret powers find each other as they strive to help out those in need. They are Christians, strong in their faith, battling those who have turned to the dark side.

This book was a wonderful engrossing read. I love books about medieval times with knights and lords and ladies. The whole story was fascinating when you imagine a group such as the Gifted existing in today's world or even the world back then. Daria was a very strong female character especially for that time period. She was highly respected by the people around her. The men are eager to protect her yet they do not see her as just a weak female or try to woo her. They are quick to defend her and risk their lives for not only her but anyone in their company. I felt this book in a genre like The Da Vinci Code, although far superior. Myth and legend are always interesting especially when you can incorporate scriptural truth with it. In my opinion, I felt the characters were like a middle ages version of X-Men or Heroes. Group of people with special powers that feel unwanted by the rest of the world.

I highly recommend this book for those who are fans of this genre, and for anyone who enjoys a really good story. If you have a good imagination, this book definitely makes good use of it.

Other participants in the tour are as follows:

Brandon Barr

Jim Black

Justin Boyer

Jackie Castle

Karri Compton

CSFF Blog Tour

Gene Curtis

D. G. D. Davidson

Jeff Draper

April Erwin

Karina Fabian

Beth Goddard

Marcus Goodyear

Todd Michael Greene

Michael Heald

Christopher Hopper

Joleen Howell

Jason Joyner


Carol Keen

Mike Lynch

Terri Main


Melissa Meeks

Pamela Morrisson

John W. Otte


Steve Rice

Ashley Rutherford

Chawna Schroeder

James Somers

Rachelle Sperling

Stuart Stockton

Steve Trower

Speculative Faith

Robert Treskillard

Laura Williams

Timothy Wise

Here is an excerpt from The Begotten, taken from Lisa's homepage.

Excerpt from The Begotten:

The Year of Our Lord, 1339
In his two years as a knight of the Church, they had burned at the stake a score of sinners. As each died, Gianni de Capezzana could not determine whether any were any less saint than he. This one was different.

For the first time, Gianni longed to immediately put his adversary to death, to drown the chill emanating from the Sorcerer in the heat of flame. This one was coldly sinful, delighting in the dark power—Gianni could feel the force of it surrounding, threatening. He glanced backward, over his shoulder, to make sure his men were right behind him. As they passed, the men filled and lit occasional oil lamps among the loculi to show them their way out.

The lamps did little to dispel the dark shadows from the passageway of the ancient catacombs before them, but now was not the time for torches or even any more small lamps. If they did not surprise this group ahead…Surprise was their principal ally. They would simply have to risk the dark.

Cold sweat rolled down his neck and down between his shoulder blades. The death hallways were cool enough to ease the heat of his armor, but fear—a feeling rare to him—made him hot as fever. “It is only the stories, the foolish stories of the villagers,” he muttered, as if mentoring a squire instead of himself. But his mouth was dry, making him want to pause, cough. He forced himself to take another step and then another, knowing if he stopped, he’d turn around and retreat.

It was dread. Different than the dread of battle—this fear filled his mind and soul. This was why he had been called to the Church, to do battle with evil, to hunt it down before it hunted the weak. But this…this threatened to overcome him. Over and over again he fought down the urge to turn and run. “Deo iuvante. May God give us His strength,” he whispered, clenching his teeth. “Send your angels, Lord God. Be with us in this.”

Sword in hand, his eyes scanned back and forth, briefly settling upon the loculi on either side, early Christian skeletons shelved like books in a scholar’s library. The Romans had burned their dead. It had been the Greeks who had insisted on coffins and death crates, and the Christians who adopted the cheap burial grounds. The cardinal had spoken of this place, having seen early Church documents. But the abandoned catacombs had long been lost to the overgrown hills of Roma. Never did Gianni believe he would be within them! Whatever happens to me here today, Lord God, do what Thy wish with my bones. Just bring me into Thy presence in heaven.

Aeneas appeared at the doorway. “Up ahead,” he whispered, casting a brief, curious eye about the room. But his mind was clearly on their adversary.

Gianni immediately turned and led the way Aeneas directed. Flickering light told him there was a torch ahead and he raised his hand to slow his company of knights. Their noise made him wince. There was no element of surprise possible, he realized, even with a stealthy approach. The stone caverns went on for miles, and carried sound just as far. Surely their approach was known by now, and if so, they were too late! “Charge!” he cried, in motion before the word fully left his lips, hearing his men follow after a moment’s hesitation. They roared together, a great cacophony meant to send an enemy to quaking.

His company of twenty-four filled a large room, lit by one torch in the center, and stopped in stunned silence. The stone altar…the blood…

A knight behind him began to quietly retch.

Gianni raised his torch higher and slowly walked forward. He swallowed hard, forced himself to touch the pooling blood. It was fresh. This travesty had happened within the hour. He looked up and around the room, noting tunnels that led away, each equally cold and silent. Horror ubique animos si simul ipse silentia terrent, he whispered, quoting Virgil. Fear and silence everywhere present terrify the soul.

He kneaded his temples with one hand, forcing himself to not be drawn into the fear. He must think! Their enemy was not far gone. He raised his torch again. “You men, light your torches. We must see where we are. What this place is.”

Aeneas and the others lit their torches and the walls of their cavernous hall came alive with light. One man behind him gasped. Another fell to his knees.

Gianni lifted his torch higher, perusing the frescoes, reading the ancient Latin. “If you are searching for them, here lies united a host of the Blessed. The venerable sepulchers enclose their bodies, but the royal palace of Heaven has carried…Here lies the companions of Sixtus…”

Aeneas was reading alongside him. “Not Pope Sixtus.”

Gianni looked about the room again and shook his head with grim fury. It was an ancient papal crypt. Six sarcophagi lined the room! His enemy had dared to do such evil here! Here, in the lost crypt of popes!

“Captain…” said a knight with a tremulous voice behind him.

Gianni turned. The knight in the center of the room, looking at the blood, pooled on the ground and atop the stone altar. It was then that Gianni saw it. It wasn’t an altar, but another sarcophagus, ornately carved on the outside.

“They sacrificed him, right here, atop the pope’s grave!” said the knight. Gianni walked toward him, dreading that he was right. What kind of man committed such sacrilegious acts? What kind of man dared to murder atop the monument of one of God’s own?

“The boy’s blood was put to good use, knight.”

Gianni whirled, facing the dim outline of a man just ahead along a passageway, standing against him in cold defiance.

“You will die! You will face the wrath of God!” Gianni cried, rushing forward.

“Captain, wait! To whom do you speak?”

Gianni looked back in confusion to Aeneas. “There! Ahead! Come!” But when his eyes went back to where he’d seen the man, he noted five different passageways bleeding off of the larger hall, and all lay empty. He swallowed the foul words that leapt to mind. “Did you not see him? Hear him?”

His fellow knight shook his head, brows furrowed in concern and fear.

“The sorcerer? He spoke to me!”

“They cannot see me,” the sorcerer whispered in Gianni’s right ear, and the knight whirled again, nearly nicking several of the closest men with his blade. They cried out, on alert with their leader, swords at the ready, but clearly confused by his actions.

“Captain,” Aeneas said urgently, drawing near his left as was their habit, eyes scanning with him. “What is it?”

“He is here,” Gianni said through gritted teeth, turning slowly, willing his eyes to see through the darkness.

“I was here,” whispered the voice in his left ear, “but am no longer. You are too late.”

Sunday, April 20, 2008

3 Kitties and 2 Engineers

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My Boy Jack on PBS with Daniel Radcliff

My Boy Jack

Airing April 20, 2008 on PBS check local listings

"Have you news of my boy Jack? Not this tide."
— Rudyard Kipling, My Boy Jack

In 1914 England, patriotism is high in the early days of WWI, and writer Rudyard Kipling (David Haigh, Four Weddings and a Funeral) is one of its most eloquent and passionate voices. John "Jack," (Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter films), Kipling's only son, is underage, hopelessly myopic, and eager to join the war effort. Kipling's outspoken American wife Carrie (Kim Cattrall, Sex and the City) remains more sanguine on the course of the war, and the fate of her family. My Boy Jack, based on a true story, tells of a nation at war, and offers an intimate portrait of one family's complex and divided experience in it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bright Flower Garden

This is a quilt in progress. I started this at a PJ Barkle workshop at my guild in Conyers. It is not quite finished, but once it is other pictures will be available as well. Find out more about Peggy at her website.

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My Soul to Keep by Melanie Wells: a review

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

My Soul To Keep

(Multnomah Books - February 5, 2008)


Melanie Wells


A native of the Texas panhandle and the child of musicians, Melanie Wells attended Southern Methodist University on a music scholarship (she's a fiddle player), and later completed graduate degrees in counseling psychology and Biblical studies at Our Lady of the Lake University and Dallas Theological Seminary.

She has taught at the graduate level at both OLLU and DTS, and has been in private practice as a counselor since 1992. She is the founder and director of LifeWorks counseling associates in Dallas, Texas, a collaborative community of creative therapists.

When the Day of Evil Comes is her first published work of fiction, and the first of a three-book series. The second work, The Soul Hunter was released in May, 2006. Melanie lives and writes in Dallas.


As nasty as I knew Peter Terry to be, I never expected him to start kidnapping kids. Much less a sweet, funny little boy with nothing to protect him but a few knock-kneed women, two rabbits and a staple gun…

It’s psychology professor Dylan Foster’s favorite day of the academic year…graduation day. And her little friend Christine Zocci’s sixth birthday. But the joyful summer afternoon goes south when a little boy is snatched from a neighborhood park, setting off a chain of events that seen to lead nowhere.

The police are baffled, but Christine’s eerie connection with the kidnapped child sends Dylan on a chilling investigation of her own. Is the pasty, elusive stranger Peter Terry to blame? Exploding light bulbs, the deadly buzz of a Texas rattlesnake, and the vivid, disturbing dreams of a little girl are just pieces of a long trail of tantalizing clues leading Dylan in her dogged search for the truth.

Like water rising to a boil, My soul To Keep’s suspense sneaks up on you…before you know it, you’re in the thick if a frightening drama…Superbly crafted.”
---ROBERT LIPARULO, author of Deadfall, Germ, and Comes A Horseman

Written with passion, a good dose of humor and, dare I say it, soul, this novel reminds us that we all, with grace and good fortune, bumble our way toward salvation.”
---K. L. COOK, author of Late Call and The Girl From Charmelle

My thoughts: If you know anything about me and my book reviews you know that I have a really long TBR list. If you did not know that, look at my archives and see it. Anyway, it's long, I just have so many things that are calling my name. Well, I received this book My Soul to Keep and it is book three of a series. I'm one of those people who does not like to read things out of order, so I planned to put this one further down in the pile and maybe read the others first, but then I read a couple reviews on various websites and the blurbs in the front cover and decided to at least read the first chapter and intro. Well, next thing I know I'm starting chapter 6, then chapter 14, then it's the next day I'm halfway through and just have to finish it. So now, being finished with this novel I'm extremely glad that I read it. This book was un-like anything that I have read, it was better than almost any mystery film that I have seen. The main character, Dylan a female psychologist is the most fun-loving hilarious character that has ever existed. She is so real, and just what you need in a character to make you fully enjoy the book. The main point in the book is a kidnapping, but so many other things happen one after the other and you think it's all just ridiculous, but in a not so crazy sense, it is really is not. It makes complete sense. This book brings in a little paranormal with Angels and non-Angels, and it makes me curious about her other books. If you want some mystery, and some realistic faith, and lovable characters in a story, then please read this book! You will chuckle more than giggle, and you might even cry a little, I did.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Why I Review Books?

I love to read, and I have loved to read for almost as long as I can remember. I recall in first grade, Mrs. Bice's class sitting in a group of six or so of the advanced readers with those books with three words per page. After that, I also recall reading the first book that made me an avid book junkie, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. Believe it or not, I've never read anything else by Avi, but one day plan to. And then, very similar is Jennifer Holm's Boston Jane. For whatever reason, the story of this adventurous girl on her own sparked in me and wouldn't let me go. What is neat is that many books I read and enjoy to this day are similar with their heroine doing something fabulous, even if her battle and journey is only internal. It was probably about October of last year, when I found that I have more time on my hands than I realized that I started writing book reviews to share, well maybe earlier when I joined Either way, I read a lot, mostly Christian Fiction and I find it a joy and ministry to share with others, who do not read as fast as I do (or even want to!), but who would like a good book in a while. Christian Fiction is growing by leaps and bounds anyone can see that if they look, but not everybody is looking, because most people think that Christian Fiction is all lovey-dovey perfect happiness books, but it is not. There are those book available if that's what you're looking for, but there are also edgy, heart breaking romances, suspenseful mysterious that make you want to tear your hair out, as well as anything else pretty much you seek... now-a-days you can find it available in a Christian Fiction novel. As a part of how I get most of the books that I review, I'm not rich you know -- I cannot buy them all, I joined a few alliances who have a main organizer who then gets with the authors/publishers and whoever else that makes it plausible and possible for myself and many other individuals to get copies of books for review. It's fabulous! I'm completely in my zone with this! :) A couple months ago, there was a clash with one such group who it appeared randomly felt that they should be the only one with a certain phrase of words for their title... but it did not make much sense, because other similar groups had been around longer, and the words were so generic that any Christian Bookstore might be in the "wrong" of their opinion as well. Even though the situation was uncomfortable, I believe that most of it was a misunderstanding, and from what I can tell and see in the blogging world it passed. More recently, other flares have occurred. And where I can see the angles from both sides, it is quite interesting why there has to be an issue in the first place. Basically, I will say this...

Christian Fiction is growing, and needs to grow and get more notice.

Christian Fiction is just what it is, Christian.

Christian means to be of Christ. (Am I wrong?)

Christ left it to us (Christians) to spread His word.

One way to spread His word, or gospel, is through Christian Fiction.

When we do what we are suppose to and spread His word, it is a ministry.

-- Okay, take your thoughts here. In the middle ages or similar when a monk or priest was traveling and trying to spread the word of our Lord what was his lifestyle? Another thought, today when you go to church you give to the collection plate. Why? Other than the require Biblical tithe, why do you give? You give because the church has many people to reach out to, and needs the funds to make that possible with buying food and building more rooms, and such. the church that provides things through the money gifted from the parishioners is a very valuable tool in the ministry of our Christian faith. The disciple with a vow of poverty is just as capable of reaching out and helping people in the name of the Lord. They just work in different ways.

To the blogging MINISTRY world out there for Christian Fiction. Quit focusing on who does what and who changes what. The format of the page does not matter. The way of getting to the point does not matter. What matters is Christ and His message!!! I love you all for the different things you bring to this ministry as a whole. But at this point and points previous you are getting caught up in the things that the devil throws temptation and despair in to cause you to be faint of heart. Just because you feel that your capable of providing a ministry one way, does not mean that all other ministries are inferior. The way of getting to a point can be vastly confused, and not even remembered by the time that you get there, as long as you get there, that is what matters.

If you want to pay for a blog tour, do so, it's worth it and if you have the money great.

If you want a free blog tour, do so, they're available and guess what they are just as great.

Money is involved no matter what, it's an evil in this world that exists to complicate things. Just because money is involved, does not make something less of a ministry! It's just a different ministry.

The traveling disciple is capable of showing the light of Christ.

The official church speaker and associate is capable of showing the light of Christ.

Are you going to continue to bicker of each other and make the message of God harder to find for those seeking it? Or are you going to realize that any suggestion toward His message and love is worth existing?

-- This is not directed just as two people, this is directed to the at least fifty or so people that I have heard getting caught up in something that exists, but is being made to be more of a distraction that necessary. God loves us all. He wants to use us all. Let Him.


Discovering God's Will by Gordon S. Jackson

It'a April 15th, but this has nothing to do with taxes! It is time for the Non~FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 15th, we will featuring an author and his/her latest non~fiction book's FIRST chapter!

The feature author is:

and his book:

NavPress Publishing Group (March 26, 2008)

My Thoughts: This book is just utterly fabulous. I wish that I had this book to read back in 2002 or 2003 when my life was really confused, but it is even wonderful to read now.

It's neat actually... on Thursday I was reading a book, Deirdre by Linda Windsor , and the main theme and verse Jeremiah 29:11, that keeps coming back throughout the book is the idea of a "relationship" with God and how he is always there in a complete give and take when you seek him.

Then on Saturday, I went to an Emmaus Candlelight (if you don't know what that is and want to, just ask) and in preparation I got out my old Chrysalis Flight #33 t-shirt with my flight's verse on it... Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I cannot tell you how many times I have read that over the years. But it was not until recent times that I continued to read the next few verses that mean even more so to me that the former. 11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile." (TNIV Jeremiah 29:11-14). It seems that so many times that I have felt that I have gone through troubling times, the words that I have needed were here in "my" verse, when I call upon Him and pray to Him, he listens, and when I seek Him with all my heart, I can then find Him. So many times I struggle and fight with myself, and "cannot hear Him". With this I can realize, I'm not hearing Him, because I'm not really seeking Him whole-heartedly.

If first the historical Christian fiction novel was interestingly leading me to my verse, and then a Chrysalis reminder (FYI: North Georgia Chrysalis Flight #33 Table of the 7 DOCS Daughters of Christ Savior) then on Sunday, the sermon was about John 10:1-10 about Jesus being the Good Shepherd. "I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." 6Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.
7Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (NIV John 10:1-10) The sermon that our pastor (at the church we’re visiting Monroe FUMC) went on to speak about how those that belong to Jesus as His flock and spend time with Him, in prayer, in service, in devotion know Him. They know His voice. If you do not seek Him out, you will not know Him when He is there. Whenever I have been so frustrated and so certain that “I cannot hear Him anymore!” Why have I never been able to realize, that He is there, I’ve been away in my mind and have not fully sought Him and recognized Him when I could have. Make sense? I know, I’m rambling now…

Well to the point. In the midst of all the rest of these circumstances screaming in my face what I have known for years, but have been blind to the fact of is that He is there, and the way that I can live my life thoroughly in His love and grace is through a relationship that He fully wants to participate in. Characters of a novel can do it, but so can I. Sometimes you have so many questions that you just don’t know where to begin… This book The Handbook to Discovering God’s Will is a good tool to help you begin and pursue that relationship with Christ our Lord that you have always known is possible and sometimes had, but sometimes have found hidden from you.

Everything in our life is one circumstance then another, one cross roads then another. We have to make thousands of decisions all the time every day. This book gives the tools for being able to think things through and put them into a perspective. It reminds of those bracelets back in middle school, W.W. J.D.? What Would Jesus Do? That is the appropriate question and this book goes beyond the basic question and delves into the actual thinking process of deciding. If I keep going I’ll give away the whole book, not to mention bore you. Gordon Jackson, author, is much better with his wording and humor at explainations and now I leave you to read this first section of the book and not see if you are just hooked and want to read the rest for a tool of how to grow and really make that “relationship” work.



GORDON JACKSON is a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. He has worked at Whitworth as a journalism professor and college administrator since 1983. Originally from South Africa, where he worked as a journalist, he is a frequent speaker for churches and other groups. Dr. Jackson has spoken to scores of church, Sunday school, educational, and civic groups on a wide range of topics. In the past few years, he has also served as a consultant for church groups and Christian educational institutions in Uganda, Lebanon and Egypt.

He is also the author of:

Destination Unknown
Never Scratch a Tiger with a Short Stick and Other Quotes for Leaders



Choosing Well: Living Out God’s Will

Most of the time in our attempt to follow Christ, we already know perfectly well what God’s will is and what He expects of us. It is to continue the work He’s already given us, precisely where we are, according to the guidelines for godly living we know from Scripture.

But there come moments when we face major decisions, crossroads in our journey where the signposts aren’t as legible or well-lit as we would like. We face hard choices. Should I attend this college or that one? Should I switch jobs? Am I truly being called to full-time ministry, or am I just bored with my current vocation? Is this the person God would have me marry? Should I move to a new city or stay put?

Some decisions we’ve anticipated for a long while, for example what to do upon graduating from college. Others are thrust upon us suddenly, perhaps an opportunity that comes out of the blue. Yet others can brew or stew slowly over time, such as a growing sense of disillusionment and frustration with our current job.

Situations like these ultimately demand some kind of decision. Assuming we seek to honor God in all areas of our lives—education, family life, career, ministry—we want to make a godly choice. But how? Clearly, guidance is a difficult area for Christians.

Scores of books on the topic have appeared over the past several decades demonstrating the ongoing quest for counsel on this issue. This book is intended to assist you in thinking through questions about guidance more incisively and, if you heed the shared wisdom handed down from two thousand years of our faith, to help you make wiser, more thoughtful, and more godly choices. The generalizations presented here are distilled from the wisdom of numerous thoughtful writers on this topic. In essence, the thoughts in this book are not new. The hope, however, is that their presentation and format will make these ideas more accessible and easier to understand and apply in your life. (A note on citations: For the most part, I’ve tried to avoid cluttering your reading by limiting the endnotes to some lesser-known authors for whom you may want to know the source.)

It’s plain that those who follow Christ could use ongoing help in this area. “In our quest for God’s guidance,” said J. I. Packer, British theologian and scholar, “we become our own worst enemies, and our mistakes attest to our nuttiness in this area.” This book is an attempt to head off some of those self-defeating tendencies and minimize the nuttiness. In doing so, this book differs from other writings on guidance in two ways. The first is its emphasis. This volume assumes what other authors carefully and painstakingly identify: the ample scriptural evidence that God guides those who genuinely seek His will and that He desires only the best for His children. So the assumption here is that you don’t need to be persuaded that God is both able and eager to guide us.

The second difference lies in this book’s approach. Most other books on this subject offer systematic, chapter-length expositions on the nature of guidance and its relationship to vital living as a Christian. By contrast, the approach here is far more hands-on, identifying practical problem areas, possible stumbling blocks, areas of confusion, and any other aspects of guidance that can lead to confusion and mistakes. What follows is a series of thoughts on topics about guidance. Each topic, summarized as a principle or key concept, serves as a stepping-stone through what often can be a mental and spiritual swamp for Christians seeking God’s will and direction.

All the topics are built around a foundational section called The Big Five—and Beyond. This is the assumption repeated by many writers that guidance is normally the product of five elements:

1. Scriptural guidelines
2. Prayer
3. The advice of other Christians
4. The circumstances we face
5. A sense of inner peace about our decision

It is typically the combination of these five ingredients that helps lead us toward sound, godly decisions.

Something else that holds together the sixty-two principles in this book is the understanding that guidance is a process that involves carefully thinking through and incorporating The Big Five, as well as other issues pertinent to your situation. Following this introduction is A Guidance Road Map—a set of common questions about guidance, along with the topics that are likely to help you most with each question. Please read The Big Five—and Beyond before dipping into other topics. Without the context it provides, the other sections will be less helpful.

The sixty-two topics, and the principles on which they are based, are presented as generalizations. As such, they need to be seen as part of the broader whole. What’s more, these principles don’t have to be read in order. After reading The Big Five, feel free to browse through the book and pick and choose among the issues that most interest you. Or you can scan the alphabetical list of topics at the back of the book and find subjects of particular concern to you.

As you read the pages ahead, please be aware of the following assumptions that are woven through the array of principles:

 You take seriously your commitment to follow Christ and seek to live a God-pleasing life. In other words, you earnestly seek God’s will for your life, not His seal of approval for what you plan to do anyway.

 You take seriously the authority of Scripture and are willing to apply its guidelines to all areas of your life.

 You already are convinced that God is able and willing to guide you in all aspects of your walk with Him, and you accept that He will do so on His terms and with His timing.

 You take seriously your God-given ability to think through whatever guidance issues you face.

It’s important to note a truly astonishing fact: We claim as part of our faith not only that the Lord of the universe sent His Son to die for us and redeem us from our sins but also that His interest and love for us continue day by day. Like the most loving of parents, God Himself seeks to guide and direct every facet of our lives.

Two reality checks also need mentioning. The first is that living our lives in a God-directed manner is never easy. Living as we do with a sinful nature, it is extremely difficult to do what we know we should and to avoid what we know we shouldn’t do. Paul said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15). If living the day-by-day dimension of following Christ is difficult, it’s no easier when we face those extraordinary moments when tough choices must be made. Søren Kierkegaard, nineteenth-century Danish philosopher and theologian, said, “It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But . . . it must be lived forwards.”

As we grapple with trying to understand God’s guidance in our lives, we often recognize His leading only as we look back. But we must make difficult choices while living life in forward mode. No book on guidance can completely answer anyone’s questions; we each need to answer those ourselves. The ideas outlined in this book are only tools, and they are worthless apart from your commitment to seeking God’s will and your willingness to struggle through issues.

The second reality worth noting concerns our limitations in understanding how God moves in our lives. It is the height of presumption to think that any book can prescribe how God may choose to reveal Himself to us. The only absolute we can be sure of in this regard is that God will not guide us in a way that is contrary to His nature.

A final thought on how God directs our lives: While those who follow Christ agree that God is keenly interested in our lives, they differ on the degree to which He has a “perfect plan” mapped out for each of us. Some contend that God has a carefully worked-out blueprint for our lives: His guidance helps us discover that perfect will, and His Holy Spirit helps us live it out. Other Christians see this approach as artificially narrow. God, they believe, is not boxed into some lockstep, foreordained approach to how our lives unfold. God’s grace, power, and imagination surely transcend whatever mistakes we make or sins we commit, which would presumably otherwise relegate us to a “second best” plan. Rather, God is always able to offer constant, uninhibited love and direction, regardless of how far we might have fallen from His standards in the past.

If the issue of a “perfect plan” is important to you, understand that the bias of this book is clearly toward the latter position. God’s boundless grace in dealing with us makes Him love us no less when we choose something other than His best at any given moment. Yes, God’s discipline may follow our poor choices. But for the Christian who is wholeheartedly seeking God’s will, He presents us with far more of a buffet table of legitimate options than some stiflingly healthy yet tasteless diet. A. W. Tozer, a well-known teacher and writer, said, “The man or woman who is wholly or joyously surrendered to Christ can’t make a wrong choice—any choice will be the right one.”

That remark captures the spirit with which this book is written: that ours is a God of freedom whose guidance we can seek with confidence and enthusiasm. He’s a God of infinite love who enthusiastically champions our case and seeks our best. He is the architect wanting to help us build holy lives, lived to the full (see John 10:10). Yet we sometimes regard Him as the county planning officer who’s looking for every weakness in our plans, smugly catching yet another way we’ve fallen short of the building code. God is not a stickler; rather, He’s the architect who brings our possibilities to reality for our benefit and for His pleasure.

This book is an attempt to assist you as you invite God, the ultimate architect, to help you build your life in keeping with His overall design to make us holy persons. From the foundations to the finishing touches, He is eager to help at each step. The pages that follow are intended to help you build your own house of faith that shall last through eternity.


The Big Five—and Beyond

Every quest for guidance should be shaped by scriptural guidelines, prayer, the advice of other Christians, the circumstances we face, and an overall sense that this course is what God wants.

It’s the big picture that counts. A recurring theme found in books on guidance is that you need to look at the big picture as a whole when making major decisions concerning God’s will. Far from basing our decision entirely on a chance remark made in last Sunday’s sermon or on an obscure verse in 2 Kings, God expects us to use all the vehicles He’s made available for our decision making. That’s why it’s important to consider each of The Big Five factors and see how they mesh together as we consider our decision. Again, these five factors are:

1. Scriptural guidelines
2. Prayer
3. The advice of other Christians
4. The circumstances we face
5. A sense of inner peace about our decision

Until you’ve got a thumbs-up on each of the five, you’re probably not ready to make a decision. If, for example, you’re seriously considering a career change, but your spouse or closest friends are advising you against it, you need to check your thinking. Or if you’ve been invited to go on a short-term mission trip and the first four points check out just fine, yet you’ve still got a nagging feeling that something isn’t right, once again it may be best to hold off on your decision and give it further thought.

If you were leaving later today for a trip abroad, you’d make sure you’d taken care of your passport, airline ticket, health insurance, luggage, and spending money. If you were heading for the airport and realized you’d left your passport at home, it’s unlikely you would keep going and say, “Well, four out of five isn’t bad.”

Similarly, you’re probably asking for trouble by heading into a decision without a check mark against each of The Big Five. Is it possible that the advice from your spouse or friends is wrong, or that you’re confusing a lack of inner peace about a decision with plain old nervousness? Of course. The point here isn’t that missing one of these five checkpoints means you shouldn’t go ahead; it simply means there’s a warning light on the dashboard and you’re well advised to take a second look at what’s happening. Or, to switch metaphors, if these five principles don’t line up neatly like lights on a runway, you need to question seriously whether you’re ready to come in for a landing.

Sometimes those landing lights don’t line up neatly, or one warning light keeps flickering on the dash—and yet a major decision still looms. Remember, guidance is seldom a simple, clear-cut process. The words of C. S. Lewis provide a helpful reminder of the many ways God can speak to us: “I don’t doubt that the Holy Spirit guides your decisions from within when you make them with the intention of pleasing God. The error would be to think that he speaks only within, whereas in reality he speaks also through Scripture, the church, Christian friends, books, etc.”

Because working toward the decisions God would have us make can be complex and can lead to ambiguous answers, it’s necessary to dig deeper into our understanding of The Big Five. The separate entries of The Big Five are not of equal importance. The simple flowchart that follows shows that scriptural principles are the starting point. But they’re only the starting point. Each of these five principles merits careful attention. The next step is to examine any of the five elements that merits special attention in your situation. (These topics are addressed in the pages that follow.) Alternatively, you may want to turn directly to other individual topics that speak to your needs. The Guidance Road Map on page 17 will help you do that.

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