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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas!

December 2009

Dear Reader,
Sorry you haven't heard from me in a while. As some of you know, I had a lot going on this past summer and early fall with my parents' various health problems. (By the way, my dad is still going strong in spite of his brain cancer. Please keep him and my mom in prayer.) And then there wasn't much news to report about my novel, Fatal Illusions, which came out last March. It was on shelves, and I was receiving nice e-mails and Facebook messages from various people who were reading the novel and enjoying it. But I didn't have much more to say other than that I was working on its sequel (by the way, the first draft is almost done), and I didn't want to bug you unless I had real news to share. After all, you get enough e-mails, right?

I'm writing today because I do, in fact, have some exciting news. For quite a while, people have been asking me, "How is Fatal Illusions doing? Have the sales been good?" I honestly didn't know what to say. Though I don't have specific figures to report, I can now say that Fatal Illusions has made the Kregel Publications best-sellers page. Check it out here. For this wonderful piece of news, I give glory to God and thank you, dear reader, for supporting me in this writing venture.

If you haven't read Fatal Illusions yet, what are you waiting for? You can always ask your library to purchase a copy, request a copy at your local bookstore (even if the book isn't on the shelves), or find a copy online at Amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or other online bookstores. You can even find it for the Amazon Kindle. As a way of saying thank you, I'm always happy to mail you a signed bookplate for free. Just let me know.

Thanks again for your support and encouragement in 2009. Have a wonderful, Christ-centered Christmas and a happy New Year. May the Lord receive all the glory!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Texting Torture: Killer Messages Victim's Family | NBC New York

Texting Torture: Killer Messages Victim's Family | NBC New York

Note from My Mom about My Dad's Cancer

Dear All,

Just back from Madison/Milwaukee.  Saw Dr White yesterday and he is having a conference with Dr. Bastin the radiologist at Aurora  and we are to contact him on Tuesday.

He said to keep pushing until we got him if there were problems.  He suggests Cyberknife if Dr Bastin thinks it is time to do so and also more surgery is possible.

Cyber knife would be a whole lot easier on Larry.  Pray that the insurance with cover it.

We are off to Marquette Hospital Monday to get the mediport and Larry has Avastin IV on Wed afternoon.

Thank you for all your prayers.  Love  Larry and Rhoda

Oh, Dr White  was amazed that Larry was in such great condition after 12 months of this diagnosis.  His Oncologist Dr.  Morel was pleased also that the growth was not worse than it was.  We heard about a man today on the radio who had malignant CA of the brain and he lived 18 years.  Larry keeps praying for 20 years or the rapture or complete healing of course.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry





This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing The Familiar Stranger
(Moody Publishers, September 1, 2009) by Christina Berry.

About the Author

Single mother and foster parent, Christina Berry carves time to write from her busy schedule because she must tell the stories that haunt her every waking moment. (Such is the overly dramatic description of an author's life!) She holds a BA in Literature, yet loves a good Calculus problem, as well. All that confusion must have influenced her decision to be team captain of a winning team on Family Feud.

Her debut novel, The Familiar Stranger, released from Moody in September and deals with lies, secrets, and themes of forgiveness in a troubled marriage. A moving speaker and dynamic teacher, Christina strives to Live Transparently--Forgive Extravagantly!

Her work has also appeared in The Secret Place, The Oregonian, and Daily Devotions for Writers.
About the Book
Craig Littleton's decision to end his marriage would shock his wife, Denise . . . if she knew what he was up to. When an accident lands Craig in the ICU, with fuzzy memories of his own life and plans, Denise rushes to his side, ready to care for him.

They embark on a quest to help Craig remember who he is and, in the process, they discover dark secrets. An affair? An emptied bank account? A hidden identity? An illegitimate child?

But what will she do when she realizes he's not the man she thought he was? Is this trauma a blessing in disguise, a chance for a fresh start? Or will his secrets destroy the life they built together?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Familiar Stranger, go HERE

My Review

This novel is in my TBR pile, and I hope to get to it soon. It looks fascinating, and I'm looking forward to reading it. Congratulations, Christina!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fatal Illusions makes Kregel Publications bestsellers page

I received some great news today. Thank you, Susan Marlow, for sharing it with me. Fatal Illusions has sold well enough to make the Kregel bestsellers page. Now, either this is a fluke or a big answer to prayer. Praise God!


Friday, December 4, 2009

Discipleship, Evangelism, and the Aim of Christian Fiction

Interesting article on whether Christian fiction should disciple or evangelize. Check it out. What do you think?

Novel Journey: Discipleship, Evangelism, and the Aim of Christian Fiction

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fatal Illusions Makes List of 'Best Books I’ve Read in 2009'

Check this out.Thanks, Glynn.

YouTube - Man Controls Robotic Hand With His Mind

Dennis Miller on WH Party Crashers: Nice to See Obama Didn’t Bow to Them


Breitbart.tv » Dennis Miller on WH Party Crashers: Nice to See Obama Didn’t Bow to Them

Dad Goes to New Treatment

Just an update on Dad's status after Mom called me. Yesterday Dad began a new treatment called Avastin (it is not chemo); in fact, he did ninety minutes of it via an IV. He will now be taking Avastin twice a month intravenously, and he will continue Temodar once a month orally for five days, as he has already been doing.

On Dec. 11, Mom and Dad have an appointment with a surgeon in Milwaukee to discuss the CAT scan and see what the next step should be. On Dec. 14, Mom and Dad will be traveling to Marquette, Michigan, so a "mediport" can be installed in Dad's chest. Because Avastin needs to be taken via IV, this step will make the experience of getting treatments easier for Mom and Dad in the long run.

There are good reports on Avastin. It isn't supposed to make Dad feel as sick, though there are other side effects to watch for. Some folks respond to it in different ways. Pray that Dad is among those who respond well.

Mom and Dad seem to be in good spirits. Thanks for your prayers and keep praying. God is always good and knows what's best for all of us.

Play it again Sam



Learn about this often-mistaken movie quote.

Don't Miss PBS's Masterpiece Schedule for 2009-2010


Masterpiece Schedule

AddThis :: Add-ons for Firefox

AddThis :: Add-ons for Firefox

Monday, November 30, 2009

Saint's Roost by Terry Burns




This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Saint's Roost
(Sundowners, September 20, 2009) by Terry Burns.

About the Author


Terry has over 30 books in print, including work in a dozen short story collections and four non-fiction books plus numerous articles and short stories.

His last book Beyond the Smoke is a 2009 winner of the Will Rogers Medallion for best youth fiction and a nominee for the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. He has a three book Mysterious Ways series out from David C Cook, and Trails of the Dime Novel from Echelon Press.

A graduate of West Texas State he did post graduate work at Southern Methodist University. Terry plans to continue writing inspirational fiction as well as working as an agent for Hartline Literary Agency. Terry is a native Texan Living in Amarillo, Texas with his lovely wife Saundra.


About the Book

Terry Burns has written a novel rich in Texan drawl and old western authenticity.

Saint’s Roost opens with a determined couple leaving a wagon train to set off on their own, only to be set upon by savages. Patrick, an eager evangelizing preacher, steps out to share the Good Book with the savages and meets an untimely demise, leaving his wife, Janie, alone on a trail to nowhere with no one to help her survive.

She makes her way across the frontier determined to follow her husband’s calling, but she doesn’t know where to begin, or even how to take care of herself. When her travels bring her into the lives of two cowhands, an ex-prostitute, a young boy and his drunken grandfather, and towns filled with cowboys waiting to be saved, she discovers there’s more than one way to spread God’s word.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Saint's Roost, go HERE

My Review

I was delighted to receive a review copy of this novel. I hadn't read a good ol' Western in quite some time, and this was a wonderful change of pace for me after a summer of suspense reading. Only a few chapters into the story, it was obvious that the tale was more like a tranquil Mitford novel (just a different motif) than the latest pulse-pounder from Dekker, but that was just fine by me. This homespun tale is a nice sit-back-in-my-comfy-chair read rather than a sit-on-the-edge-of-my-seat offering. Instead of car chases and bumps in the night, readers are treated to a whimsical look at life in another era, colorful characters who practically leap off the page, and a rich serving of God's grace that triumphs over the failings each of us struggle with on this path we call life. At the same time, the story, though not strong on plot, picks up momentum toward the end and offers a nice action-packed climax.

Character-driven, leisurely Saint's Roost is all about adjustments and family. I say "adjustments" because Janie Benedict immediately finds herself out West with a naive brother determined to win the Indians to Christ. Though a worthy calling, it turns out to be one short on common sense. Finding herself alone in a strange land, Janie realizes that good intentions are never quite good enough. To make a true difference for the cause of Christ, she must seek to understand the people and culture in her new surroundings.

Immediately Janie begins to adjust to God's plan for her now that her brother is gone. What she discovers at each new step are opportunities to create her own family out of the broken lives of those around her. She meets Sharon, a former prostitute, determined to repent of her ways and start a new life. Preston needs a good home, and his grandfather, Cornelius Johnson, needs to stay away from the bottle. Shine, an Indian woman who tends to her baby, Fawn, needs a helping hand. And of course there's also Frank, Janie's love interest, and his faith-rejecting sidekick, Ruben. Janie quickly learns that her baked pies can do more than fill a hungry stomach; they can minister grace to others and open the door to share the love of Christ in surprising, new ways. What happens next is an impressive story rich in relationships and in how God works His will in spite of the well-meaning but often flawed ways of man.

One quality I loved best about Saint's Roost was the author's boldness in weaving in clear faith messages and the most important one of all: the gospel of Jesus Christ. In a market full of offerings that sadly seem to be trending away from an overt spiritual message, I found Saint's Roost to be refreshing and unapologetic in connecting real life challenges to clear faith values. I always look for that quality in a good Christian novel, and Saint's Roost didn't disappoint. In fact, it reminded me of some of the best Christian fiction of twenty years ago. For that and other reasons, I wholeheartedly recommend this casual, whimsical, and often humorous tale that adroitly weaves realistic story threads into a clear pattern of God's grace. My only nitpick is that the final printing was sorely lacking a good proofread. (Let me know, Terry, if you need help on your next offering. Editing is my day job, and I'd be honored to help.) All flaws aside, Saint's Roost is a worthy, engaging read you don't want to miss.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Loss of Carrier by Russ White


This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Loss Of Carrier (BookSurge Publishing, October 27, 2009) by Russ White.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Bright yellow cables against a blue shirt? Carl never would have approved of that color combination. Why was his face so white? His eyes should be closed, not open. Why hadn’t one of the security guards seen this and reported it to the police? The lights were off, the cameras were useless in the dark.

Of course, the cables wrapped around Carl’s neck explained why the server wasn’t working. Loss of carrier.


Jess Wirth lives a dreary life. He spends most of his time crammed inside a cubicle, toiling as a network engineer and stewing over the details of his ugly divorce. But when he finds his co-worker dead in the basement of their office, Jess’s life takes a surprising—and unpleasant—turn.

The police quickly declare the death a suicide, but Jess isn’t so sure. Not long after he begins digging into the victim’s work, another co-worker turns up dead, convincing him once and for all that something sinister is brewing behind the cubicle walls.

His investigation leads him to a mysterious woman name Leah, who pushes him to entrust her with the information he’s collected about his dead colleagues. Wary of Leah’s motives yet inexorably drawn to her, Jess keeps her at arm’s length...until an attempt is made on both their lives. Realizing they are close on the trail of a dangerous criminal, the pair race to expose a data theft ring before they become the killer’s next victims.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Loss Of Carrier, go HERE.

My Review

Loss of Carrier is in my TBR (To Be Read) pile, and I plan to get to it soon. It looks interesting.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Inevitable Battle—Standards in Christian Novels

In case you missed it, an interesting discussion has been going on in the CBA lately. Namely, what word and content choices are acceptable in Christian fiction. This debate began when author Ted Dekker published an article at his Web site criticizing Steeple Hill's "terms that cannot be used in a Steeple Hill novel." Later, Christian literary agent Chip MacGregor sounded off, taking Ted to task.

It's an interesting debate and one Christians everywhere need to take seriously, in my opinion. In a society that tends to be constantly drifting toward more unwholesome content in entertainment choices, where are believers supposed to stand? Follow the links, think the issue through, and decide where you stand. What do you think?

While I agree that some of the items on the Steeple Hill list seem a little extreme, I for one believe Christians should be pursuing wholesome speech and seeking to raise the bar on what's acceptable. For that reason, I applaud Steeple Hill for taking the high road in content choices. God gives us clear standards for wholesome speech. Where's the mandate to compromise those for the sake of realism in storytelling?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Copyediting Podcasts

Enjoy these FREE instructional audio podcasts on a host of grammar and language-use topics, brought to you by Copyediting newsletter. New podcasts are added weekly! http://www.copyediting.com/Podcast.php

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Organizing: Three Big Chunks by Randy Ingermanson

The biggest problem many writers face is the clock. No matter who you are, no matter how important you are, no matter how smart you are, your day still has only 24 hours in it. You and Bill Gates both have exactly the same amount of time in each day.

The crucial difference is that Bill has enough money socked away so he can do what he wants. Most writers don't have that luxury. We've got day jobs. Families. Hobbies, sports, and entertainment. Church or synagogue or PTA or the Moose Club. We're also supposed to sleep, exercise, eat right, enjoy a bit of fun once in a while, and floss.

Somewhere in all that chaos, we also need to write.

Some writers find a way to make it work; others don't. What makes the difference between those who do and those who don't?

I have a theory on that. It's only a theory, but it's based on watching working writers work. It's based on watching myself work. It's based on twenty years of watching.

Here's my theory. If writing is one of the three big chunks in your life, then you have a good chance of successfully writing fiction. If not, then you don't.

What's a "big chunk?" That's easy to define. It's where your time goes. Look at the things you do, other than sleeping and eating. How much time do you spend on each one? The things you spend the most time on are your "big chunks."

If you work a day job eight hours a day, plus a one-hour commute each way, then your day job is taking up ten hours per day, and that's your biggest chunk.

If you're a stay-at-home-mom and you're spending twelve hours a day taking care of three kids, then that's your biggest chunk.

Those are the two most common big chunks I've seen in writer's lives. There are any number of others that aren't quite so big, but which combine to fill up your life. Take an inventory of your own life. How many hours per week do you spend on each of these:

* Job
* Family duties
* House, yard, or garden
* Church, synagogue, or other group activities
* TV, video games, or other electronic entertainment
* Exercise
* Reading
* Writing
* ________ (fill in that pesky blank)


Now let's be clear about one thing. Most of these are Good Things. Some of them, in fact, are Great Things. A few of them are Mediocre Things or possibly even Useless Things. It really doesn't matter.

What matters for you, as a fiction writer, is that your chances of success in publishing go way up if writing is one of your three biggest chunks.

Is it remotely possible that you can get published if writing is #4 or #5 on your list? Yeah, sure, it's possible. It's possible you could run a marathon on a training base of only 10 miles a week. But you wouldn't do nearly as well as you would if you were putting in 40 or 50 miles every week. There aren't very many certainties in life, so it makes sense to tilt the odds in your favor.

So my rule of thumb for success in fiction is to make writing one of the three biggest chunks in your life. I've got nothing against any of those other things. But the fact is that most writers who sell their first novel are writing at least 10 hours per week, and many are writing 20.

Let me clarify one thing. Very few writers start out writing 10 or 20 hours per week. Most writers start the way I did, doing an hour here and an hour there. Most writers work up to the 10 hour level over a year or two or five. But they rarely get published until they reach
that level.

Your life only has room for so many big chunks. So here are some questions I'll leave for you to ponder:

* Is writing one of the three biggest chunks in your life?

* What changes would you have to make in your life to make writing one of your Big Three?

* If you can't make those changes instantly, can you shift things gradually over the next six months?

* Would it damage your life to make those changes?

Now let me switch gears and point out the opposite hazard. What would happen if you sold a novel for so much money that you could quit your day job and spend all your time writing? Wouldn't that be GREAT?

Well . . . maybe. The thing is that fiction writing is about real life, or something pretty similar to real life. You always need something to write about, and for most writers, that comes from their own life.

What that means is that if you were to spend all your time writing, you'd probably run out of things to write about. Most of the working fiction writers I know have something else going on in their life. Writing may be their day job, but it's not the only thing they do.

My theory is that even when you reach nirvana and writing is your #1 big chunk, you still need to have a couple of other major things going on in your life that feed your imagination. Writers need to get out, do things, interact with the Muggles.

Not too many other things. Three big chunks seems to be about right.

That's my theory. It's only a theory. It's based on plenty of experience, but it's still at best only a
rule of thumb. Now the final question for you is whether this theory suggests an action plan you could make right now. If so, then go to it. Nothing ever happens until you take action.

.....................................................................................................

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 17,000 readers, every month. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.

Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.

Wayback by Sam Batterman

Wayback

by Sam Batterman (VMI Publishers, May 1, 2009)

The Story

A mysterious Nazi super weapon, hidden for more than 60 years, has been discovered by members of a reclusive, private think tank and perfected using modern technology. This fully realized and reliable device is so powerful, so provocative, that the basic beliefs of science, history and religion could be overturned in an instant. After a cataclysmic system failure kills an expedition attempting to return to the year 100,000 B.C., a team of skeptical scientists and adventurers is dispatched to the Antediluvian world, a world that no one anticipated full of wonder, danger and advanced civilizations that will rock the accepted theories of science and history to their core. However, the team is unaware of another plan that is unfolding; there are people who will kill to use this remarkable machine to further their own plans for our past and future.

My Review

I was delighted to read this new novel by author friend and fellow BJU alumnus Sam Batterman. I have always been fond of time travel stories and was especially interested to see how Sam would treat this classic but somewhat worn plot device. (From H.G. Wells to Michael Crichton, we've seen a wide spectrum of time travel sagas, not to mention numerous movies and TV shows.)

What I discovered was a novel that is really a carefuly executed balancing act between suspenseful plotting, scientific research, and biblical truth. This technique is risky. Does the scientific information weigh down the plot? Are the biblical ramifications of what the story's characters experience lost in the plot? I thought Sam did a good job of stiking the right balance, and he certainly put some hard work into this project. The list of sources Sam consulted for his bibliograpy is nothing short of amazing. This guy did his homework, and it shows!

Beyond the obvious creationism message, I was especially intrigued by scenes that describe the garden of Eden and Noah's ark. I've often wondered what the inside of Noah's ark looked like; Sam does a good job of giving readers an inside look. The main storyline of researchers sent back in time to the time of Noah's flood gains further complexity by a group of terrorists who plan to alter history in an unexpected way. I won't give away the subplot or their diaboological plans; you'll need to read the novel for yourself. The ramifications of their plans and how Sam probed the possible outcome of choices unique to two time periods definitely gave a new spin to the time travel concept that I hadn't thought of before. What a fascinating, thought-provoking read! With just enough hooks to keep the story moving forward while taking readers down a path of new possibilities and into a world we've read about in the Bible but only imagined, Wayback is definitely a worthy, suspenseful, and educational read. Definitely check it out!

For more information about Sam and his writings, check out his Web site and his blog. For information about purchasing a copy, check out his novel at Amazon.com.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Church Libraries Gives Fatal Illusions Positive Review

church_libraries_fi_review

A Slow Burn by Mary DeMuth



My Review

I had the wonderful privilege of meeting Mary at the Write-to-Publish Conference at Wheaton College last June. I was thrilled to hear her message about writing redemptive fiction. I had begun reading Daisy Chain but hadn't finished it. But then knowing the author a little bit prompted me to keep going. I must confess that I'm a suspense reader and writer, so contemporary fiction isn't typically at the top of my list. But Mary's lyrically writing and rich charactertizations made me eager to finish this novel, especially now that I better understood the engine driving her writing.

I'm glad I kept reading Daisy Chain, which is an enjoyable though sometimes difficult read due to the harsh realities the characters must face. By the time I finished the tale, I had to know what was going to happen next. Mary cleverly left several critical story line elements unresolved. What exactly happened to Daisy and why? Will Jed ever let go of his bitterness and turn to God for spiritual healing? Will Hap turn from his abusive ways and become the pastor, father, and husband God desires Him to be? I'm still longing to see some hope and repentance emerge in the lives of these broken, devastated people.

So far I'm up to chapter six in A Slow Burn and loving Mary's poetic, lyrical style. After traveling through Daisy Chain in Jed's skin, I was a little disappointed, to be honest, not to see his point of view emerge at the beginning. But Mary must have her reasons. Now I'm seeing Emory's struggles and mistakes. I continue to hope that God's light will shine on these struggling lives. With that aim, I will keep reading and offer a full review here when I'm finished.


Watch the video:



If you would like to read the first chapter of A Slow Burn, go HERE.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Already Gone by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer

My Review

Oh my. What a book to get the mind working. This book is a sobering, probing look at what has happened to "church" in recent years with a special focus on our youth and what is driving them away. It gives special focus to what some evangelicals are teaching their youth under the guise of Sunday school. What a sobering look at the current state and an important charge to parents and church educators to teach truth not only in the curriculum but also in our actions and changed lives. This is what true Christianity is all about. This book is an engaging eye-opener and a sobering wake-up call to save our youth before they turn their backs on church and go the tragic way of secularism and ultimately life without God. Highly recommended, especially if you have kids like I do and want them to grow up loving and serving God with all their hearts.

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:

Ken Ham, and Britt Beemer, with Todd Hillard

and the book:

New Leaf Publishing Group/Master Books (May 28, 2009)
***Special thanks to Robert Parrish of New Leaf Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORs:




Ken Ham, founder and president, Answers in Genesis. He is one of the most in-demand speakers in the world today, representing Answers in Genesis (AiG) at many events throughout the year.

Visit the author's website and book blog.






C. Britt Beemer is chairman and founder of America's Research Group (ARG), a consumer behavior research and strategic marketing firm. He is a speaker at major trade and industry events.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: New Leaf Publishing Group/Master Books (May 28, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0890515298
ISBN-13: 978-0890515297

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



Part 1:

An Epidemic on Our Hands


Epidemic (Ep-i-dem-ic)1

1. A disease or anything resembling a disease; attacking or affecting many individuals in a community or a population simultaneously.

2. Anything which takes possession of the minds of people as an epidemic does of their bodies; as, an epidemic of terror.


A majority of twenty-somethings — 61% of today’s young adults — had been churched at one point during their teen years but they are now spiritually disengaged (i.e., not actively attending church, reading the Bible, or praying).

George Barna
Chapter 1


Guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge” — which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. Grace be with you (1 Tim. 6:20–21).


I dare you. I dare you to try it this Sunday. Look to the right, and look to the left. While the pastor delivers his message, while the worship team sings their songs, while the youth pastor gives his announcements, look to the right and look to the left. Look at the children and look at the teens around you. Many of them will be familiar faces. They are the faces of your friends’ sons and daughters. They are the friends that your children bring home after youth group. They are your children . . . the ones who have been faithfully following you to church for years.

Now, imagine that two-thirds of them have just disappeared.

That’s right, two-thirds of them — the ones who go to secular school, even those homeschooled or sent to Christian school, the boys and the girls, the kids who are leaders of the school’s Bible club, the kids who sit in the back row with their baseball caps pulled low over their eyes — imagine that two-thirds of them have just disappeared

from your church.

Yes, look to the left and look to the right this Sunday. Put down your church bulletin; look at those kids and imagine that two-thirds of them aren’t even there. Why?

Because they are already gone.

It’s time to wake up and see the tidal wave washing away the foundation of your church. The numbers are in — and they don’t look good. From across Christendom the reports are the same: A mass exodus is underway. Most youth of today will not be coming to church tomorrow Nationwide polls and denominational reports are showing that the next generation is calling it quits on the traditional church. And it’s not just

happening on the nominal fringe; it’s happening at the core of the faith.

Is that just a grim prediction? Is that just the latest arm-twisting from reactionary conservatives who are trying to instill fear into the parents and the teachers of the next generation? No, it’s not just a prediction. It’s a reality — as we will document clearly from commissioned professional and statistically valid research later in this book. In fact, it’s already happening . . . just like it did in England; it’s happening here in North America. Now. Like the black plagues that nearly wiped out the general population of Europe, a spiritual black plague has almost killed the next generation of European believers. A few churches are surviving. Even fewer are thriving. The vast majority are slowly dying. It’s a spiritual epidemic, really. A wave of spiritual decay and death has almost entirely stripped a continent of its godly heritage, and now the same disease is infecting North America.

Many of us saw it coming but didn’t want to admit it. After all, our churches looked healthy on the surface. We saw bubbling Sunday schools and dynamic youth ministries. As parents and grandparents we appreciatively graced the doors of the church, faithfully dragging our kids with us, as our ages pushed into the 40s and 50s and beyond. But a vacuum was forming: there were the college students who no longer showed up for the Sunday worship service, the newly married couple that never came back after the honeymoon. . . . Sure, there were exceptions and we were grateful for their dedication. For the most part, however, we saw that the 20- and 30-somethings from our congregations were increasingly AWOL. To be honest, none of us really wanted to admit it, did we? And so we began to justify to ourselves that maybe it wasn’t happening at all.

Recent and irrefutable statistics are forcing us to face the truth. Respected

pollster George Barna was one of the first to put numbers to the epidemic. Based on interviews with 22,000 adults and over 2,000 teenagers in 25 separate surveys, Barna unquestionably quantified the seriousness of the situation: six out of ten 20-somethings who were involved in a church during their teen years are already gone.1 Despite strong

levels of spiritual activity during the teen years, most 20-somethings disengage from active participation in the Christian faith during their young adult years — and often beyond that. Consider these findings:


Nearly 50% of teens in the United States regularly attend church-related services or activities.
More than three-quarters talk about their faith with their friends.
Three out of five teens attend at least one youth group meeting at a church during a typical three-month period.
One-third of teenagers participate in Christian clubs at school


That’s all well and good, but do these numbers stand the test of time? Is the involvement of churched children and teens continuing into young adulthood? Unfortunately not. Not even close. The Barna research is showing that religious activity in the teen years does not translate into spiritual commitment as individuals move into their 20s and 30s (and our own research, you are about to discover, will illuminate you with reasons as to why this occurs).

Most of them are pulling away from church, are spending less time alone studying their Bibles, are giving very little financially to Christian causes, are ceasing to volunteer for church activities, and are turning their backs on Christian media such as magazines, radio, and television. What does this look like numerically for today’s

20-somethings?


61% of today’s young adults who were regular church attendees are now “spiritually disengaged.” They are not actively attending church, praying, or reading their Bibles.
• 20% of those who were spiritually active during high school are maintaining a similar level of commitment.
19% of teens were never reached by the Christian community, and they are still disconnected from the Church or any other Christian activities.


Shortly after Barna blew the whistle on the problem, individual denominations and churches began to take an honest look at what was happening as their children and teens began disappearing into the young adult years. Their findings confirmed the trends that Barna had found. Dozens of groups have looked at the issue from slightly different

angles. Each study yields slightly different results, but their conclusions are unanimously startling. For example, when the Southern Baptist Convention researched the problem, they discovered that more than two-thirds of young adults who attended a Protestant church for at least a year in high school stopped attending for at least a year between

the ages of 18 and 22.

There are exceptions, of course. Here and there we find a smattering of churches with vibrant participation from the 20-something age group. In some cities, we are seeing congregations develop that are made up almost exclusively of people from this age group. But unfortunately, these are the exceptions and not the rule. The trends that we are seeing can no longer be ignored. The epidemic is a reality. The abandoned church buildings of Europe are really just buildings, yet they are graphic symbols — warnings to those of us who are seeing the same trends in our local congregations: we are one generation away from the evaporation of church as we know it. Slowly but certainly the

church of the future is headed toward the morgue and will continue to do so — unless we come to better understand what is happening and implement a clear, biblical plan to circumvent it.

The trends are known; more and more are finding out about them — but the vital question concerns what is the root problem of why this is happening. We need to know why if we are going to formulate possible solutions.


Twenty somethings struggle to stay active in Christian faith.

20% churched as teen, spiritually active at age 29
61% churched as teen, disengaged during twenties
19% never churched as teen, still unconnected


Who, Why, and What?

I began traveling and speaking in the United States in the 1980s. As an Australian, it didn’t take long before I felt I had a good feeling for the pulse of American Christianity . . . and I saw some tremendous needs. At the time, America could rightly be labeled the greatest Christian nation on earth, the center of the economic world — and

although the Church was equipped with nearly every conceivable tool and luxury for developing and expressing its faith — I could see that the Church was in great need.

Since moving to the United States in 1987, I have spoken in hundreds of different churches from many denominations, numerous Bible colleges, seminaries, and Christian conferences on American soil. I have talked with the pastors; I’ve listened to those in the congregations; I have experienced “worship” in almost every conceivable style and form. The ministry of Answers in Genesis is deeply committed to the American church. In fact, the faltering health of the Church in the greatest Christian nation on earth is what motivated my wife and me to move our family to this country in the first place. My wife and I testify that God called us as missionaries to America — particularly the American Church — to call it back to the authority of the Word of God beginning in Genesis.

The Bible calls the Church “the Body of Christ.” Today, over 20 years after our move, the statistics prove that His body is bleeding profusely. The next generation of believers is draining from the churches, and it causes me great personal and professional concern. I’ve sat in the grand, but vacant, churches of Europe. I know where this is headed. Where Europe is today spiritually, America will be tomorrow —

and for the same reasons, if the Church does not recognize where the foundational problem lies and address it.

When I began to seriously ponder Barna’s numbers, naturally I wanted to find out more. For help, I called on a trusted and respected supporter of Answers in Genesis. As the chairman of America’s Research Group, and as a leading marketing research and business analyst expert, Britt Beemer specializes in studying human behavior. Over the decades he has conducted dozens and dozens of surveys for leading corporations as well as small businesses. He analyzes the marketplace and the clientele, and makes recommendations that keep the companies excelling in a competitive world. When we were considering building the Creation Museum, we asked Britt if we could reasonably

dream of 250,000 people visiting each year. Britt did his research and predicted that 400,000 people would visit the museum in the first year! He was wrong by two days. (The 400,000th visitor entered the museum 363 days after we opened.) Needless to say, when we had questions about the epidemic of people leaving church, we turned to him for answers.

Our goal was simple: We wanted to know who was leaving, why they were leaving, and what (if anything) could be done about it. To that end, Britt and his America’s Research Group initiated a qualified study with probing questions to get powerful insight into the epidemic the Church is facing. To get to the core of the issues, his team studied only those whom we are most concerned about: every person in our

sample said they attended church every week or nearly every week when they were growing up, but never or seldom go today.

We selected those between 20 and 30 who once attended conservative and “evangelical” churches. We wanted to look at the churches that claim to be Bible-believing congregations with Bible-preaching pastors. According to Barna, about 6 percent of people in their 20s and 30s can be considered “evangelical.” This is about the same as the number of teenagers (5 percent).4 The results from Britt’s research would

undoubtedly have been more drastic if we had considered more liberal congregations. We deliberately skewed the research toward conservatives so that we could all understand that whatever problems showed up would be much worse for the church population in general.

After 20,000 phone calls, with all the raw data in hand, Britt began to analyze the numbers. The things he discovered— as well as the things he didn’t discover — began to shed light (in a quite astonishing way) on this monumental problem facing the future of Christianity.


The sample included:

1,000 individuals from coast to coast
Balanced according to population and gender
With just over half being aged 25-29
With under half being aged 20-24


First of all, he didn’t discover anything abnormal about the group as a whole. There weren’t an unusual number of homeschoolers, or secular school kids, who were leaving. There wasn’t a significant number of females compared to males that had decided to leave. In other words, the 60 percent plus of the evangelical kids who choose to leave the church look pretty much like the 40 percent who decide to stay — at least on the outside. The breakdown of those who left really fits the profile of the evangelical population in general.

So at first, the who question didn’t seem to give us many answers. So then, why? Why did they leave the church? When we asked them this open-ended question, we got an earful.

At first, we were surprised (and a little disappointed) that there wasn’t a single reason. It would have been nice to find a single identifiable virus somewhere. How simple it would have been to stereotype the whole group and point out one germ that had been causing the sickness to spread. But the numbers didn’t say that. A single identifiable culprit didn’t appear.

Other researchers have come to similar conclusions. When LifeWay did their research for the Southern Baptist Convention, 97 percent of the “dropouts” listed one or more specific life-change issues as a reason they left church. The most frequent reason they gave for leaving church was almost an indifferent shrug of the shoulders.


The top 10 reasons were:

1. 12% Boring service

2. 12% Legalism

3. 11% Hypocrisy of leaders

4. 10% Too political

5. 9% Self-righteous people

6. 7% Distance from home

7. 6% Not relevant to personal growth

8. 6% God would not condemn to hell

9. 5% Bible not relevant/not practical

10. 5% Couldn’t find my preferred denomination in the area


“I simply wanted a break from church” (27 percent). The transition into college and adulthood also affected many: “I moved to college and stopped attending church” (25 percent), and “work responsibilities prevented me from attending” (23 percent). Others simply “moved too far away from the church to continue attending” (22 percent). In all honesty, these kinds of results just seemed too shallow for us at Answers in Genesis. And they seemed too superficial to Britt as well. We have a massive epidemic on our hands, and researchers seemed to be content with answers that sounded like “I just didn’t feel very good,” or “I wasn’t there because I chose to be someplace else.” Too many researchers accept simple, superficial answers. They acknowledge that there is a massive shift taking place in the spiritual lives of young adults, but when it comes to really figuring out what’s going on, they kind of throw up their hands and sigh, “I guess that’s just the way it is!”

End of story? Not hardly. This is precisely why we teamed up with an expert like Britt Beemer who probes, and probes, and probes until he finds the right reasons. We found the real reasons, though some of them will shake many churches to their very core.

Never content with the easy answers that people give to justify their behavior, Britt is an expert in consumer behavior who taps into their minds as he finds out what people really believe in order to reveal what is driving their behavior. Until Answers in Genesis commissioned this study, never before had this type of research been conducted — and our research was formulated to not just deeply probe what people believe but answer the questions in regard to WHY people believe what they do. We can now identify the real answers as well as the causes affecting young people who leave the church.

As Britt studied his data, it was obvious that multiple issues are behind the exodus from church. The why? question would prove to be more complicated than many expected. But soon, as the numbers became more clear, patterns emerged, assumptions were destroyed, and quirky findings surfaced. One of the most important and startling findings turned out not to answer the why? question, but rather the when? question.


Of all the 20 to 29-year-old evangelicals who attended church regularly but no longer do so:

95% of them attended church regularly during their elementary and middle school years
55% attended church regularly during high school
11% were still going to church during college


I think this is one of the most revealing and yet challenging statistics in the entire survey — and something we didn’t expect. Most people assume that students are lost in college. We’ve always been trying to prepare our kids for college (and I still think that’s a critical thing to do, of course), but it turns out that only 11 percent of those who have left

the Church did so during the college years. Almost 90 percent of them were lost in middle school and high school. By the time they got to college they were already gone! About 40 percent are leaving the Church during elementary and middle school years! Most people assumed that elementary and middle school is a fairly neutral environment where children toe the line and follow in the footsteps of their parents’ spirituality. Not so. I believe that over half of these kids were lost before we got them into high school! Whatever diseases are fueling the epidemic of losing our young people, they are infecting our students much, much earlier than most assumed. Let me say this again:

We are losing many more people by middle school and many more by high school than we will ever lose in college.
Many parents will fork out big bucks to send these students to Christian colleges, hoping to protect them in their faith. But the fact is, they’re already gone. They were lost while still in the fold. They were disengaging while they were still sitting in the pews. They were preparing their exit while they were faithfully attending youth groups and

Sunday schools.

What a reminder to parents (and Christian leaders) to do exactly what God’s Word instructs us to do — to “train up a child in the way he should go . . .” (Prov. 22:6). And further, “These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,

when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deut. 6:6–7; NKJV). What a reminder to teach children from when they are born — and a reminder to be diligent in providing the right sort of training/curricula, etc., for children.

Sadly, I think many see children’s programs as entertainment, teaching Bible stories, and so on, but when they get older we need to think about preparing them somehow for college — but as our research showed, by then they are already gone! For most, it was basically too late!

This topic regarding when we begin to lose our kids is where the study began to get very interesting and very illuminating. For example:


Those who no longer believe that all of the accounts and stories in the Bible are

true:

39.8% first had doubts in middle school
43.7% first had their doubts in high school
10.6% had their first doubts during college


Clearly, there is a slightly delayed reaction going on. The doubts come first, followed shortly by departure. Students didn’t begin doubting in college, they simply departed by college. Again, if you look around in your church today, two-thirds of those who are sitting among us have already left in their hearts, it will only take a couple years before their bodies are absent as well.

The Beemer study has a tremendous amount to offer the churches, the pastors, the parents, and the researchers who are sincerely looking into this problem. Britt’s study didn’t look just at behavior; he looked at belief. By making correlations between those beliefs and the behavior and intentions of those who have left the Church, the veil was lifted, powerful new insights were revealed, and very surprising results were

illuminated. In the pages ahead we will give you the highlights of some of these numbers. But brace yourself, because in many instances the results are shocking, and they point a finger at many well-intentioned, firmly established programs and traditions of churches that are utterly failing the children who faithfully attend every Sunday morning.

You will need to swallow hard and be prepared to consider things very carefully; Be ready to give up long-held, cherished notions in regard to certain church programs of which perhaps you would never have considered the slightest possibility that there was such a serious problem as this research clearly showed.

First, we will investigate key aspects of the epidemic, including:

the effects of Sunday school
the two different kinds of kids who are leaving the Church and why it’s so important to know the difference
why the Church has lost its value and is now considered irrelevant
Second, we will investigate the solutions that are within our grasp:

how to defend the Christian faith and uphold the authority of the Bible from the very first verse
what it means (and doesn’t mean) to live by the Bible
the revolution that is reclaiming “church” in this culture
Along the way the investigation will be spiced up with a variety of fascinating findings regarding the following:

music
friends
unbiblical church traditions
teaching
beliefs about Genesis
If you are a parent, a pastor, or a Christian educator, then this research is for you. Or maybe you are one of the millions of students who are thinking about leaving the Church or have already done so. If so, I challenge you to let the numbers speak for themselves and then be ready to allow God to use you in new ways to make a difference for the sake of the next generation and the Church. Even though the results were obtained in America, because it has had the greatest Christian influence in the world and has been an enormous influence on the world (Christian literature, missionaries, etc.), it is likely that such research would show similar (at best) or much worse results in other

countries.

Yes, I challenge you. This Sunday, look to the left and then look to the right. According to our research, two-thirds of the children and teens you see will be gone in a matter of years. What can be done about it? Plenty, as you will soon see!


Britt’s Bit: The AIG-ARG Connection

On behalf of Ken Ham, I want to thank you for picking up this book. I make my living generating numbers and statistics, and they are an important part of my personal ministry. When numbers and statistics are interpreted correctly they mean something. They aren’t just arbitrary measurements for things that don’t matter. Numbers do

matter. They represent things that are real, that are measurable, that can be observed, and (in many cases) that can be changed with the right remedies. That’s what America’s Research Group is all about. At ARG we draw conclusions that are meaningful to our clients. We are behavioral scientists who study human behavior. ARG provides each

client a foundation built on practical, useful information that ensures their ongoing success.

That’s why I am such a firm believer in Answers in Genesis. Not only is their ministry important, but AIG is a reminder of what God can do through one person who steps out in faith and allows God to use them to defend and proclaim the truth. Ken moved his family to the United States more than 20 years ago, having started a ministry out of the trunk of his car and a few cardboard boxes in his house. I don’t think anyone would have believed (particularly Ken) what God had in store for a ministry of such humble beginnings.

Today, the Answers in Genesis website gets millions of visitors per year. Tens of thousands of resources (books, DVDs, curricula, magazines, etc.) move through AIG’s warehouse year after year. A small army of trained speakers are reaching tens of thousands of people face-to-face on every continent on the globe except Antarctica. (As far as I know, no one has volunteered to go there quite yet!)

I love keeping track of the AIG ministry and what people say about it. I’ve been tracking public opinion religiously (pun intended), and I have a deep desire to protect and to equip this ministry. When the Creation Museum opened, it created a national media tsunami, and at least one-third of the comments voiced about the ministry were clearly negative. The naysayers had their day, but they didn’t last. Today, only 1/20th of the comments about the museum are negative. I think that is an amazing accomplishment. As I projected, 400,000 people came through those doors in the first year.

I make my living studying human behavior and attitudes statistically, which gives me a unique viewpoint of how and why people act the way they do. I sincerely invite you to come along with my friend and ministry cohort Ken Ham as he takes you on a personal tour through my numbers. I’ll be throwing in my “bit” on a regular basis, giving you my take on the statistics and their importance. As you begin to understand the trends of the past, and see where the Church is at present, you will discover highly practical action points that will make a difference in the future. I believe that if you get a handle on a few of the numbers that describe what is happening in the Church today, you will see the potential for change that resides within you as a pastor, a parent, or a Christian educator. And that’s important. The next generation is counting on us.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Though Waters Roar

· Bethany House (October 1, 2009)

by

Lynn Austin



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Along with reading, two of Lynn's lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Five of her historical novels, Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Proper Pursuit, and Until We Reach Home have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction.

Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn's novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel.


ABOUT THE BOOK

"Thank goodness you're such a plain child. You'll have to rely on your wits."

So went the words of Grandma Bebe. And for all of my growing-up years, I scoffed at the beauty of my sister and what I saw as her meaningless existence. But my wits hadn't served me well in this instance, for here I was, in jail. And while I could have seen it as carrying on the family tradition (for Grandma Bebe landed in jail for her support of Prohibition), the truth is, my reasons for being here would probably break her heart.

So how did I end up becoming a criminal? I've been pondering that question all night. Perhaps the best way to search for an answer is to start at the very beginning.

Harriet Sherwood has always adored her grandmother. But when Harriet decides to follow in her footsteps to fight for social justice, she certainly never expected her efforts to land her in jail. Nor did she expect her childhood enemy and notorious school bully, Tommy O'Reilly, to be the arresting officer.

Languishing in a jail cell, Harriet has plenty of time to sift through the memories of the three generations of women who have preceded her. As each story emerges, the strength of her family--and their deep faith in the God of justice and righteousness--brings Harriet to the discovery of her own goals and motives for pursuing them.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Though Waters Roar, go HERE

My Review

This novel arrived in my mailbox just two days ago, so no, I haven't had time to read it yet. I must confess that my wife and mom are more the Lynn Austin fans than I am, so they'll be reading it for sure. Being women's oriented fiction, that shouldn't be surprising. I do, however, plan to read this novel at some point because I'm a rather eclectic reader type of guy, though I do steer clear of anything with the romance label. I enjoyed reading several books in Lynn's Civil War trilogy a while back and look forward to checking this one out. Congratulations, Lynn, on recently winning the Christy Award again!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Intervention by Terri Blackstock


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Intervention

Zondervan (September 22, 2009)

by

Terri Blackstock



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Terri Blackstock’s books have sold six million copies worldwide. Her suspense novels often debut at number one on the Christian fiction best-seller lists, and True Light, published last year, was number one of all Christian books—fiction and non-fiction. Blackstock has had twenty-five years of success as a novelist.

In 1994 Blackstock was writing for publishers such as HarperCollins, Harlequin and Silhouette, when a spiritual awakening drew her into the Christian market. Since that time, she’s written over thirty Christian titles, in addition to the thirty-two she had in the secular market. Her most recent books are the four in her acclaimed Restoration Series, which includes Last Light, Night Light, True Light and Dawn’s Light. She is also known for her popular Newpointe 911 and Cape Refuge Series.

In addition to her suspense novels, she has written a number of novels in the women’s fiction genre, including Covenant Child, which was chosen as one of the first Women of Faith novels, and her Seasons Series written with Beverly LaHaye, wife of Tim LaHaye.

Blackstock has won the Retailer’s Choice Award and has appeared on national television programs such as The 700 Club, Home Life, and At Home Live with Chuck and Jenny. She has been a guest on numerous radio programs across the country and the subject of countless articles. The story of her personal journey appears in books such as Touched By the Savior by Mike Yorkey, True Stories of Answered Prayer by Mike Nappa, Faces of Faith by John Hanna, and I Saw Him In Your Eyes by Ace Collins.

ABOUT THE BOOK


Barbara Covington has one more chance to save her daughter from a devastating addiction, by staging an intervention. But when eighteen-year-old Emily disappears on the way to drug treatment—and her interventionist is found dead at the airport—Barbara enters her darkest nightmare of all.

Barbara and her son set out to find Emily before Detective Kent Harlan arrests her for a crime he is sure she committed. Fearing for Emily’s life, Barbara maintains her daughter’s innocence. But does she really know her anymore? Meanwhile, Kent has questions of his own. His gut tells him that this is a case of an addict killing for drugs, but as he gets to know Barbara, he begins to hope he’s wrong about Emily.

The panic level rises as the mysteries intensify: Did Emily’s obsession with drugs lead her to commit murder—or is she another victim of a cold-blooded killer?

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

Watch the book Trailer:

My Review:

Sorry, but this book just recently arrived in my mailbox, and I haven't had sufficient time to read it yet. It's definitely one I plan to read. I'll post about it when I get to it. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Transformation Study Bible

Legendary Clarity

Acclaimed Pastor Brings Experience, Wisdom to Transformation Study Bible

Dallas/Fort Worth, TX—As pastors seek to make the Word of God more understandable in an age that is unfamiliar with the Bible, and as growing disciples seek to discover the truth of Scripture in a skeptical culture, there is a great need for guidance in both the preaching and study of God’s Word. Whether you’re a pastor, a seminary student, or a truth-seeking disciple, an understanding of the Bible can be made clear to you with the help of one of the most influential, in-depth, and practical Bible scholars in modern history.

For over thirty years, millions have come to rely on the timeless wisdom of Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe’s “Be” Commentary series. Dr. Wiersbe’s commentary and insights on Scripture have helped readers understand and apply God’s Word with the goal of life transformation. According to Dr. Wiersbe, “It isn’t enough for us simply to read assigned portions of the Bible each day, as helpful as that is. A truly transforming experience involves meditating on what we read (Ps. 1:2), studying it carefully in the light of other verses, and then obeying what God tells us to do (Josh. 1:8).” Now available for the first time, The Transformation Study Bible offers the full text of the highly readable New Living Translation with accompanying notes and commentary from the 50 books in Dr. Wiersbe’s “Be” series.

The Transformation Study Bible will better enable readers to appreciate, appropriate, and apply the Word of God, which will result in ‘purity, joy, right values, hope, comfort, freedom, new life, peace, guidance, wisdom, integrity, encouragement, and effective prayer,’” states Wiersbe. In other words, if you want to be a new person, knowing and obeying the will of God and becoming more like Jesus Christ, there is perhaps no finer tool to encourage that process than The Transformation Study Bible.

One of the most anticipated and comprehensive study Bibles of the year, The Transformation Study Bible has been a lifetime in the making by a man who is widely known as a prolific and trusted writer and theologian. The former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago, an internationally known Bible teacher, and someone who has given his life to a deep examination of the Word of God, Dr. Wiersbe lends his vast experience and scholarly insight to the most beloved and revered book of all time. This effort is to encourage believers of all levels to know and love the Bible and to experience the same transformation that has radically changed his life. The result is a Bible that is clear, understandable, and applicable to the lives of its readers.

Dr. Wiersbe writes, “The remedy for discouragement is the Word of God. When you feed your heart and mind with its truth, you regain your perspective and find renewed strength.” By providing a new set of tools for Bible students of all levels, David C Cook and Warren Wiersbe have partnered to provide an essential tool to help bring the “perspective” and “renewed strength” that comes from a life transforming study of God’s Word. This fantastic and long awaited resource will bring more clarity than ever before to the study of God’s Word.

The Transformation Study Bible with General Editor Warren Wiersbe

David C Cook September 1, 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1434765307/2100 pages/$24.99
www.davidccook.com

My Review

I have been using this Bible for several weeks and speak from experience when I say that it's wonderful for general reading and devotional study. I've always loved Warren Wiersbe's "Be" books and have benefited from his spiritual insights for many years. To have notes from all 50 "Be" books incorporated into this Bible makes for rich reading and provides biblical truths in a refreshing way from a trusted voice of experience.

I must confess that the NLT is not my favorite Bible version, but several pastor friends have spoken highly of the version in gaining a better grasp of passages in everyday English. The more I read, the more I like the version and am seeing things in Scripture I never saw before due to difficult, obscure language. While I still prefer word-for-word literal translations, the NLT is a great aid to comprehension. Sometimes just seeing a passage worded in a slightly different way (but with the same meaning) gives Scripture a freshness it might typically lack. Complemented by Wiersbe's powerful reflections, you really can't lose as far as comprehension, which then leads of course to spiritual benefit. I've been carrying the Bible to church with me over the last few weeks and have enjoyed seeing how this Bible has been helpful during preaching services. A long fan of Wiersbe's books, I'm particularly looking forward to the benefits of using this Bible for many years to come.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Review of Lost Mission

Lost Mission: A Novel Lost Mission: A Novel by Athol Dickson


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I had read The Cure and River Rising by Athol Dickson—and loved them, so I was looking forward to Lost Mission. Once again the writing was superb, the characters fascinating, and the storyline engaging with one exception. Spanish history and Mexican culture have never appealed to me, so the historical storyline was a bit challenging to get through, though Dickson deserves special notice for how deftly he wove in a past storyline involving Catholic monks establishing a mission in old-time California. I must admit that I sometimes found myself wanting to skip these parts and just get back to the modern storyline. It just wasn't an interesting storyline for me. Mexican culture is pretty foreign, so I couldn't really appreciate much of the local color.

This well-written and often poetic novel raises complex ethical and spiritual issues that make readers think. He tackles illegal immigration and appears to be sympathetic toward it by the fact that Lupe, the main character, is an illegal immigrant from Mexico. Tucker, who is running his own mission, takes water to the desert to help illegals who may be crossing the desert to California. Another theme has to do with mega churches who seek to separate themselves from the world, especially from illegal immigrants, and live in their own utopia. It's clear that these churches, overflowing with wealth, aren't doing enough to reach out to those who truly need help, even the basics like food and clothing. The complex issues are thought provoking and make the reader grapple with the moral dilemma of reaching out to people who according to our laws shouldn't even be in our country.

One aspect of the novel that disappointed me was Dickson's sympathetic treatment of Catholicism. Catholic doctrine does not embrace the true gospel due to its works-based salvation. Yet the novel's main character is Catholic at the beginning and Catholic at the end; she even "preaches" to those who need to hear the truth, yet I'm baffled as to what that truth could be. If she's a devout Catholic, she doesn't personally possess the truth of grace alone by faith alone. If I personally met a Lupe who loved God and wanted to serve Him, I would first challenge her faith to be sure she wasn't depending on works for salvation. If she did depend on grace alone, then I would have strongly encouraged her to leave the Catholic Church. The novel is highly sympathetic toward Catholics, a disappointment for me. Don't get me wrong: I love Catholics, but I want them all to experience saving grace alone by faith alone. I kept hoping that Tucker or someone would probe Lupe's faith and tell her the truth about Catholic false teachings, but no one does.

In the end, the novel is superbly written and often poetic, and the complex modern storyline kept me reading. But due to complex and controversial issues that deserved a clear biblical answer, I felt divided over the novel's final message. Athol's message is clear that mega churches that seek to separate from the world and ignore those who need help are bad and that Christians who run a small mission and help illegal aliens are good. In the end, neither those who run the mega church are completely wrong, and neither are those who help illegal aliens completely right. Still, Lost Mission was a fascinating, if not tragic, read. Athol presents some of the best writing I've ever seen in Christian fiction, and I'll certainly read him again.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Battle Ready by Steve Farrar

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:


Battle Ready: Prepare to Be Used by God

David C. Cook (2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Steve Farrar is the founder and chairman of Men’s Leadership Ministries, an organization dedicated to equipping men for spiritual leadership. He is a frequent speaker at men’s events and conferences across the country and is the best-selling author of God Built and Point Man. Steve and his family reside in the Dallas, Texas area.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 256
Publisher: David C. Cook (2009)
ISBN: 1434768694
ISBN-13: 9781434768698

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Battle Ready

Chapter One

Hard Times


“I was born for a storm and a calm does not suit me.” --Andrew Jackson


These are the times that try men's souls.”


Thomas Paine penned those words in 1776 in a pamphlet he titled “Crisis.”


It was an appropriate title for his day. The young American colonies certainly faced a great crisis, feeling the oppressive weight of the English king and his invading army. Men who spoke out for freedom found themselves in serious danger.


Take Joseph Warren, for example. Gathering his courage, he dared to speak out about the situation his country was in. And for so doing, he was beheaded by British officers at Bunker Hill, who then presented his head to their commanding general.1


I am writing these words on December 1, 2008. Never in my fifty-nine years on this earth have I seen so many men so deeply troubled. It is accurate to say once again, “These are the times that try men's souls.”


Joshua and Caleb, two heroes from the pages of the Bible, will figure prominently in this book. But I'm not going to start with Joshua and Caleb. I'm going to begin with Samuel Adams and John Hancock.


Contrary to popular opinion, Samuel Adams did not run a brewery. And John Hancock did not sell life insurance.


These men were both friends of Joseph Warren, and like Warren, they were not afraid to speak out against tyranny. They knew very well that they could be beheaded just as Warren had been. But that fact did not curb their tongues or their pens. In fact, when the British general Thomas Gage attempted to quell the revolution and offered amnesty to every man in the colonies who would lay down his weapon, two men, and two men only, were excluded from the offer of amnesty and forgiveness. Those two men were Samuel Adams and John Hancock. These two bold leaders would not be forgiven under any circumstances--so great was their opposition to the king and their influence in the colonies.


Samuel Adams was the most popular columnist in all of New England, and John Hancock may have been the wealthiest man in all of Massachusetts. Though differing widely in personality and style, these men had something profound in common that formed the bedrock of their friendship: They were deeply committed to Jesus Christ and His inspired Word. That's what made them the Joshua and Caleb of their generation. They were absolutely fearless in the face of a giant invading army and the world's largest navy. But the foundation of their courage was their hope and trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was their Father, their Foundation, and their Hope.


Even as other men wilted under pressure and feared for their very lives, Adams and Hancock stood firm. Don't imagine it was an easy thing to do; it's never easy to hold the line when you live in soul-trying times.


Our Times


In the course of my ministry, I have had the privilege of speaking to men all across the country. And it's very clear to me as I interact with men that once again “these are the times that try men's souls.”


If there is a verse that speaks to the condition of men in our day and time, I believe it is Psalm 42:5 (NASB):


Why are you in despair [sunk down], O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence [saving acts].


Everywhere across our land men are discouraged and depressed-- and some verging on outright despair. So let's answer the question of the psalmist. Notice that he is talking to himself instead of listening to himself. When we are panicked and fearful, we are listening to ourselves--listening to the killing worries and anxieties that fuel our negative imaginations like a windblown forest fire. The psalmist, however, attempting to fight off the fear that has become epidemic in his heart and mind, speaks to himself instead of listening to himself.


In the process, he asks himself a significant question:


“Why are you in despair, O my soul?”


If most men today were to answer that question, I believe their answer would center in a fearful giant named “Uncertainty.” This giant, of course, has been around since the beginning of time, sometimes more visible and sometimes less. In recent days, however, it has been stalking our land with a vengeance. Why? Because …


there is giant uncertainty over the meltdown of the economy; and
there is giant uncertainty over the breakdown of the nation.


The Meltdown of the Economy


It's difficult to pick up a newspaper or news magazine without getting hints about the possibility of another Great Depression. For nearly a decade, we had a remarkable run of prosperity and economic growth. Jobs have been plentiful, salaries rising, and people have had the time and leisure to travel and indulge in a delicious assortment of personal luxuries.


But then in a matter of months, everything began to fall apart.


Gigantic financial institutions and banks began to collapse, and people began to panic. The real-estate market across the nation began to nosedive, and once-staid-and-stable firms began to issue pinks slips like candy. One headline from the September 18, 2008, edition of the Wall Street Journal sums it all up: Worst Crisis Since 30's, With No End In Sight.2


The prosperity and financial growth had all seemed so certain. But we have come to realize that it was an illusion. Of course, we should have known that all along. Note the words of 1 Timothy 6:17 (NASB): “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”


Did you catch that? Those who are rich in this present world (and that would be the vast majority of Americans compared to the rest of the world) are not to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches.


Quite frankly, most of us have been living as though the riches were certain--living as though the prosperity wouldn't end, as though real estate would keep going up forever, as though our jobs would always be secure. The average American felt like he was bulletproof when it came to his prosperity. And this is why so many are now depressed and in despair. Now, many who were close to retirement will never see retirement. They have simply lost too much in the market, and there's just not enough time to make it all back.


The Breakdown of the Nation


There is a sense in this country that things are spiraling out of control, not just economically but also politically and socially. You can feel the tremors, as the foundations of American law and government are being shaken to the core. This includes a raging current of anti-Christian bias flowing through our courts, universities, and media.


In the recent economic bailout, fundamental principles of democracy and commerce were thrown away in a matter of days. It was all done out of panic and fear. And once the government gets more power, it is not prone to give it back at a later date. What it takes--it keeps.


And that changes everything.


Back in the 1970s, I remember hearing the great Christian thinker Francis Schaeffer talk about the direction that America was headed. Schaeffer said he believed America would eventually wind up as a dictatorship, and he wasn't sure if it would come from the right or the left. It was Schaeffer's opinion that some great calamity and crisis would threaten the well-being of the average American. It would be of such a magnitude that people would willingly give up their rights if they could be promised just two things: personal peace and affluence. And if personal peace and affluence would be guaranteed, they would immediately accept an elite dictator who would sweep away their blood-bought freedoms without a second thought. Perhaps we are not too far from that scenario--or perhaps that scenario won't occur at all. No one on this side of heaven knows for sure.


But there is no question that we are in deep decline. You have heard of the rise and fall of great nations. We know in our hearts that we are not only falling--we are free-falling. And nobody seems to have a parachute.


In my previous book, God Built, I referred to the work of Sir John Glubb. In 1976, he wrote an essay titled “The Fate of Empires.” Glubb put forth his theory that great empires rarely survive more than 250 years.3


The Nation/Dates/Time in Years


Assyria/859-612 BC/247

Persia/538-330 BC/208

Greece/331-100 BC/231

Roman Republic/260-27 BC/233

Roman Empire/27 BC-AD 180 207

Arab Empire/AD 634-880/246

Mameluke Empire/1250-1517/267

Ottoman Empire/1320-1517/250

Spain/1500-1750/250

Romanov Russia/1682-1916/234

Britain/1700-1950/2504


We are not so concerned for ourselves as we are for our children and grandchildren. They are living in an America that is a far cry from the one that previous generations knew.


So this is why so many men in America who look at life through the lens of Scripture and history are fighting off depression and despair. When one looks at the economic meltdown along with the national breakdown, one sees we are facing a future that is nothing short of a gigantic uncertainty.


Battle Ready_INT-P2.indd 16


Is there any hope?


Yes, there is.


And it's right in the text of Psalm 42:5 (NASB):


Why are you in despair [sunk down], O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence [saving acts].


Triple Shot of Hope


As the psalmist continues to talk himself out of depression, he reminds himself about God. Because God exists and because of His great attributes, the psalmist tells himself that he will again praise God for the help of His presence. And when God is present, He saves His people. All is not lost-- God is in absolute control.


The source of our depression these days is gigantic uncertainty about the economy and the future of the nation. But there are three certainties that form the (true) foundation of our hope:


The certainty of providence

The certainty of the promises

The certainty of the plan


In our times of giant uncertainty about the economy and our nation, those three certainties are nothing less than a triple shot--not of espresso, but of hope.


The Certainty of Providence


The providence of God simply means that God will provide; He will give you what you need when you need it. He will sustain you and keep you going. Ron Mehl used to say that God worked the night shift. What he meant by that was that grocery stores restock every twenty-four hours, and that restock takes place during the night shift. If you walk into a grocery store at two in the morning, it looks like mass chaos. Boxes litter the aisles, and employees run here and there, working feverishly to put product on the shelves. All of this goes on when 98 percent of the neighborhood is asleep. So even while you're sleeping, someone is working to restock the store so that whatever you need in the morning will be there. Maybe at 9:30 p.m. aisle 12 was out of raisins. But at 7:00 the next morning the shelves on aisle 12 will be loaded with raisin boxes, all in neat order and fully synchronized display. The raisins are ready and waiting before you ever need them.5


God works the night shift and the day shift. He never sleeps. His eye is constantly upon you. He knows everything about you. He knows your worries, your pressures, and how much money (to the penny) that you will need to survive until the moment you die. And He will provide that money at exactly the right time.


Let me give you a verse that will Advil your anxiety.


Psalm 103:19 (NASB) states that …


The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.


Now who sits on a throne? A king sits on a throne. God is King over everything--no exceptions. This great God is King who sits in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all. What is sovereignty? Sovereignty is control. Control of what?


Everything.


He's in control of everything--even evil. He's never the author of evil because His character is holy--absolutely pure and flawless. But He controls evil and uses evil for His purposes--for the good of His people and the glory of His name. I know that's a stretch to think about, but the Bible strongly declares that He is in control of all things--including evil. Solomon put it like this:


The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil. (Prov. 16:4 NASB)


How can God do that and still be good? I don't know, and I can't explain it. I can't begin to understand how that works, and neither can you. But that is what the Bible teaches. Psalm 119:68 says that the Lord is good and does good. So this good and great God is the King of the entire world and all of the universes. He spoke them all into existence. He created them, and He owns them. And catch this--He keeps them going. He sustains everything within His creation and keeps it all together. Hebrews 1:3 (NASB) states that the Lord Jesus continuously “upholds all things by the word of His power.” That means He keeps it all going--including you and your family, regardless of the strength of the economy.


He is your King and He is your Banker. His providence will keep you provisioned and sustained.


The Heidelberg Catechism was compiled in 1563. A catechism is simply a summary of the teaching of Scripture on a particular question. A catechism asks a question and then provides the biblical answer. And the section on providence is crystal clear:


Question 27. What dost thou mean by the providence of God?


Answer: The almighty and everywhere present power of God; whereby, as it were by his hand, he upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, and all things come, not by chance, but by his fatherly hand.


Question 28. What advantage is it to us to know that God has created, and by his providence does still uphold all things?


Answer: That we may be patient in adversity; thankful in prosperity; and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from his love; since all creatures are so in his hand, that without his will they cannot so much as move.6


In a nutshell, that's what the Bible teaches about the providence of God.


He's in control of everything from the watermelon crop in south Texas to the price of gas in Omaha. Good economies and bad economies are under His control--along with everything else inside and outside the universe.


So let's go back to the giant uncertainties we face--the frightening meltdown of the economy and the ongoing breakdown of our beloved nation. Is our great God in control of all of these things? Yes. Will He take care of us and our families regardless of what occurs? Yes. And how do we know that? Because of His promises--and He is the God who cannot lie. Therefore, His promises are certain. And we have hope as we face the future.


The Certainty of the Promises


In Matthew 6:25, the Lord Jesus gave a staggering command: Don't worry about your life.


The problem is, most of us live as though He never said any such thing. We do worry about our lives; we worry all the time.


So what are we going to do with these words of the Lord Jesus? “Don't worry.” What does He mean by that? Does He mean we're never even to take note of and consider what's transpiring around us? Does He mean that thinking ahead and planning wisely don't really matter?


No. That's not what He means. What He does mean is that we shouldn't worry ourselves sick over what might happen. Why not? Because He has made some promises to us, and He wants us to take them seriously. He wants us to believe those promises so that we don't become overwhelmed.


The promises and the providence of God are the keys to mental health. Without them, you have no hope. But when we live off them, we are more than conquerors. My Father is watching over my life--that's why I don't have to worry about it. Now that's either true or it isn't--and if it isn't, you're in more trouble than you can comprehend. But it is true. He's your Father, and He's your Provider.


In the Koran, there are ninety-nine different names for Allah. But not one of them can be translated as Father.7 Matthew 6 contains thirty-four verses, and in those thirty-four verses the Lord Jesus refers to the Father twelve times.


You have a Father who is the sovereign God, in control of all things. And He has made some promises to you that His providence guarantees. Note the promise of Matthew 6:25-34 (NASB):


For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!

Do not worry then, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?” For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.


Your Father knows that you need all of these things. And He has the power to provide all things to you at the moment you need them. This is the promise to those who seek Him first. And it is the reason that the Lord Jesus told us, “Don't worry about your life.” Grasp this truth and you will have massive hope instead of depression. But the moment you forget your Father is the moment you begin the downward spiral all over again.


The Certainty of the Plan


God has a plan for the ages. History is going somewhere. The world is under control even though it looks like things are out of control.


The last book of the Bible, Revelation, gives a fairly detailed overview of the events that will take place at the end of the age, ushering in the return of Jesus Christ. There will be a new heaven, a new earth, and a new Jerusalem. There will be a final battle at Armageddon. And there will be a charismatic leader who will unite the world and stand against the kingdom of God. Scripture calls this individual the “Antichrist.”


God has revealed His plan for the ages to His prophets. One of those men was Daniel. When God revealed to Daniel what He was going to do in the last days, it made Daniel deeply alarmed in his spirit (Dan. 7:13). And the more God revealed, the more alarmed Daniel became (v. 28). As God pulled back the curtain of time and showed His servant more and more of His plan for the ages, Daniel was so overwhelmed by what he saw that he became physically ill and exhausted (8:27). At a later time, after he was given still more insight into the plan of God, he went into mourning for three weeks (10:2).


This is why so many of us are troubled. We know that God has a plan for the ages, and we have studied the prophecies. And those of us who have looked carefully into that plan can't help noting that the United States cannot be found in the last days of biblical prophecy. Yes, we're the big boys on the block right now, but apparently something happens to us that removes us as a major player. What will happen? Nobody knows for sure, because Scripture doesn't give us the details. But it's safe to say that in the rise and fall of great nations, the United States will suffer some kind of major calamity or collapse that will drastically minimize our role on the world scene. Or maybe we just die a slow death as a result of suffocating socialism. No one on earth knows for sure what is going to happen to our nation. But we do know that something is going to happen to drastically minimize our influence.


And when we think about these future events--and the hard times that are ahead for our nation--it makes us sick, just as Daniel was sickened by what he saw. It makes us deeply troubled.


In John 14:1-3 (NASB), the Lord Jesus spoke directly to His troubled disciples. He said, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”


The Lord Jesus will one day come back to the earth and set up His kingdom forever. This is the culmination of God's certain plan. As believers, we have read the last chapter of the book and know how everything will come out.


Guess what? God wins. And those of us who are trusting in Him win too. It's a magnificent ending followed by an incomprehensible new beginning.


But what about all of the terrible things that will take place between now and the earthly return of the Lord? What shall we do about these things as we move closer and closer to difficult times?


This is where we take our cues from the prophet Jeremiah. God gave Jeremiah the job of declaring His judgment upon the nation of Judah. Right from the get-go, both God and Jeremiah knew the people weren't going to like the message--or the messenger. Hard times were on their way. It had to sicken Jeremiah as it would sicken Daniel. So what was he supposed to do?


Run?


Take early retirement?


Move to New Zealand?


God told him exactly what He wanted him to do in Jeremiah 1:17: “But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them.”


In a day of rapidly approaching hard times, God told Jeremiah to get up, get dressed, and go to work. And we are to do the same. We are not to sit around, paralyzed with fear. We are not to waste our time by letting our imaginations run riot over what might happen to us or our children as America moves further and further away from biblical Christianity. And we are not to spend our time doing detailed studies trying to figure out the identity of the Antichrist. What a waste of precious time and energy!


So what are we to do? Simply stay faithful at our assigned posts. We're to keep showing up, working hard, and trusting in the promises and timing of a God who loves us. We need to stay the course, control our thoughts and imaginations, think biblically, and realize that a good and wise God is working out His good and wise plan. And in the midst of that plan, He will provide exactly what we need at the moment we need it. In other words, we must discipline our minds to focus on what is certain and in concrete.


His providence is certain.


His promises are certain.


And His plan is certain.


Once again, this is why Jesus told us not to worry about our lives. Our Father has us covered.


“But wait a minute!” you may be saying to yourself. “I've been laid off, and I don't have a clue how I'll find another job. I've lost over 40 percent of my retirement savings. My business is barely making it--and I'm the only guy in America who isn't getting a bailout. What do you mean, don't worry about my life? I've already taken a huge financial hit. I have to worry about my life! How in the world am I going to make it? I can't keep taking these financial losses!”


If that's where your thoughts have been in recent days, I'd like to ask you to take a break from the anxiety and go for a little walk with an old friend of mine.


A Lesson from George Müller


One of my favorite books is The Autobiography of George Müller. The subtitle of the book is “A Million and a Half in Answer to Prayer.” Müller established an orphanage in England that took care of 120,000 orphans over a period of sixty-three years. The amazing thing about Müller was that he genuinely believed in the providence of God, the promises of God, and the plan of God.


He wanted people to know that God is the living God and that He can be trusted to fulfill His promises. So at the onset of starting his orphanage, Müller determined that he would never ask for money to support his work. Instead, he would simply go to his Father in prayer and tell Him about the needs.


Müller kept a meticulous diary that recorded the needs of the orphanage and the daily balances in the account. He trusted in God alone to meet the financial needs of the orphans, and then he kept careful track of the exact details of God's provisions and answers. As a result, he taught many believers all over the world that they, too, could trust the living God to meet their needs.


On one occasion Müller received a letter from a couple who had sustained a significant financial loss. The vast majority of their assets and cash was gone. They asked Müller for his wisdom on how they should respond to this great burden, which had really set them back on their heels financially.


Müller provided a very unusual diagnosis of their situation. But his “cure” was even more astonishing than his diagnosis. Müller commented that …


a heavy [financial] loss should lead us to pause and ponder, and consider what the Lord's voice to us is in it.


Perhaps the reason is, that we lived too much as owners and possessors, instead of stewards for the Lord, and that, therefore, He was obliged to take part of that, which we possess, from us. If so, let us be benefited by the loss. But suppose this is not the reason; suppose the Lord allowed the loss only to take place for the trial of our faith and patience, yet we should (while meekly bowing, under the hand of God) say to ourselves that the Lord might have taken all, instead of part, and that, therefore, we ought to make good use of our stewardship respecting the means which are still left to us.8


What, then, should this couple do as a result of their loss? How should they respond? George Müller answered that if it were he, he would give a thanks offering to the Lord because the Lord had not taken everything. God was very gracious in that He had only taken a part of their finances when He could have taken everything.


They considered his counsel and then decided to give a thanks offering to the Lord of one hundred pounds--not a small gift at all! Müller then commented on his advice to the couple and the outcome of their decision to give a generous thanks offering:


Well, dear reader, what do you think of this? You think, perhaps, this was very strange. Yes, it was strange, according to the principles of this world; but what will you think when I tell you, that these Christian friends have had that one hundred pounds repaid not merely tenfold, twentyfold, not a hundredfold, but far more than a thousandfold!9


In these days of an economic meltdown--days that try men's souls-- that is a testimony of God's provision that actually lifts your soul. That couple experienced the favor of God nearly 150 years ago, yet that story of God's providence and His promises still brings encouragement to families today. And consider this: What happened through that loss, the sacrificial gift, and the bounty that returned to them as a result were all part of God's plan in the life of this couple.


Did they sustain a major financial loss? Yes.


Do you think they worried about their economic future when they incurred the loss? Of course they did.


Did they follow the advice of a wise Christian man who knew the Lord's faithfulness firsthand? Yes, they did.


In giving a significant thanks offering in the midst of a major loss, did they trust the providence and promises of God? Absolutely.


Did they know what the outcome was going to be? Of course they didn't.


Did they have a clue that you would be reading their story today and finding encouragement for you to trust God in your own financial uncertainty? No, they had no clue you would be reading this 150 years later.


But God did--and it was part of His certain plan.


Are these the times that try men's souls? Absolutely. Is it possible to see the living God still work in a way that will thrill your soul? You know that it is.


I would not be surprised if this husband and wife had, throughout the years of their marriage, prayed and asked God to use them. They were people who obviously loved the Lord and were quick to obey godly counsel. And people like that tend to be people who have a deep-seated desire to be used by God.


That's just what happened. That couple was used by God; their story has given you hope that God will be faithful to you even as He was faithful to them. In the last several minutes, your anxiety level has dramatically decreased, hasn't it?


So the Lord definitely used that man and his wife even today in your own life. Their prayer to be used was answered. But it was part of God's plan that this would all begin with a major financial loss in their lives.


It was a brutally difficult time that tried their souls.


But God was simply setting something up in order to thrill their souls.


If He did it for them as they faced their giant uncertainty, why wouldn't He do it for you?


©2009 Cook Communications Ministries. Battle Ready by Steve Farrar. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

My Review

Wow, is this a terrific book! I read Farrar's best-seller Point Man a while back and, highly impressed, was eager to read his new book when I saw it was coming out. I wasn't disappointed! So far I'm about half way through—and what a gem of a book this is, and not just for men, even though this is part of his Bold Men of God Series. The first chapter on financial insecurity alone was such an encouragement to my heart (because I was worrying about my personal finances at the time). Amazing timing!

What makes this book a cut above the rest is the way Farrar deftly meshes solid biblical truths, primarily based on the lives of Bible characters Joshua and Caleb, with illustrations from various men, including Charles Darwin, John Jacob Astor, George Washington, Phillip Keller, John Newton, and others. Farrar is a self-confessed lover of biographies, and it shows. He manifests a masterful skill of revealing vital biblical truths and then illustrating those truths from the lives of past famous men. He also isn't afraid to reveal failings and lessons of his own.

This book has been a wonderful inspirational/devotional journey for me, and I'm eager to see what else Farrar has in store as I keep reading. If you must pick one inspirational nonfiction book this year, pick Battle Ready. You won't be disappointed! It's that good.