BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

CFBA TOUR - LOVE FINDS YOU IN HOMESTEAD IOWA

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa

Summerside Press (March 1, 2010)

by

Melanie Dobson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Melanie Beroth Dobson is the author of the inspirational novels Together for Good (2006), Going for Broke (2007), The Black Cloister (2008), Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana (2009), Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa (2010), Refuge on Crescent Hill (2010), and The Silent Order (2010) as well as the co-author of Latte for One and Loving It! A Single Woman's Guide to Living Life to Its Fullest (2000).

Prior to launching Dobson Media Group in 1999, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family where she was responsible for the publicity of events, products, films, and TV specials. Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master's degree in communication from Regent University. She has worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for fifteen years including two years as a publicist for The Family Channel.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, met in Colorado Springs in 1997 at Vanguard Church. Jon works in the field of computer animation. Since they've been married, the Dobsons have relocated numerous times including stints in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Berlin, and Southern California. These days they are enjoying their new home in the Pacific Northwest.

Jon and Melanie have adopted their two daughters —Karly (6) and Kinzel (5). When Melanie isn't writing or entertaining their girls, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, traveling, hiking, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.

ABOUT THE BOOK
Times are hard in 1894. Desperate for work, former banker Jacob Hirsch rides the rails west from Chicago with his four-year-old daughter, Cassie. When a life-threatening illness strands the pair in Homestead, Iowa, the local Amana villagers welcome the father and daughter into their peaceful society. Liesel, a young Amana woman, nurses Cassie back to health, and the Homestead elders offer Jacob work. But Jacobs growing interest in Liesel complicates his position in the Amanas. Will he fight to stay in the only place that feels like home, even if it means giving up the woman he loves? Or will Liesel leave her beloved community to face the outside world with Jacob and Cassie at her side?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa, go HERE.

TOP 5 BOOKS 2009 - VOTES ARE FINALLY IN

In 2009 Finding Hope Book Clubs read 14 books. Two of my book clubs Voted on the TOP FIVE Books they LOVED the MOST out of the FOURTEEN we read !!  The results are finally in.


THANKS to the many authors that have stopped by this year. It was a honor to meet you, hear your testimony and learn how you caught the writing bug. We look forward to reading more of your books in the future.


BLESSINGS and CONGRATS to the Top FIVE!!


Sincerely,


Nora
Finding Hope Book Club Leader

ORIGINAL SIN VOTED #1 Book by my book club members for 2009





ORIGINAL SIN
by Brandt Dodson












We had the honor of listening to Brandt Dodson speak "Live" at our book club. We all loved the main character of this book. He was real, gutzy and reminded me a little but of a Columbo kind of character. This is the first book in the series. It's filled with action adventures with a spiritual thread that is honest and refreshing.



VOTED # 2 Book for 2009
LIFE SUPPORT

By Robert Whitlow

We spoke to Robert Whitlow on the phone. It was great fun. Robert writes a little like John Grisham but has a strong spiritual thread. He's a lawyer by trade and writes suspense legal thrillers. This book will keep you at the end of your seat turning pages until the end when you will scream, OH, NO!! There's a sequel. I have to tell you that both books are fascinating, suspenseful, and have a strong spiritual thread. The sequel Life Everafter is just as good if not better than the first book.


VOTED #3

ANATHEMA
by Colleen Coble

Colleen has something unexpected come up that interrupted her travel plans for 2009. I missed her speaking to my book club's "LIVE" but we were able to speak with her on the phone and had a blast. Can't wait to meet her and have her speak at my book club "Live". It's going to be great! We enjoyed her Amish suspense story and all the quilts she talks about inside. I even had a mini-quilt show after we discussed the book.






















VOTED #4

LOVE STARTS WITH ELLE
By Rachel Hauck


It was fun to have Rachel Hauck speak to both of my book club in January of 2009. We all enjoyed her book and the fact that we could ask her questions about some fun moments in her book. We had tons of fun. She was open, honest, we prayed together  and enjoyed hearing how she caught the writing bug.






















VOTED #5

A PASSION MOST PURE
By Julie Lessman

It was great fun to finally meet Julie Lessman in person and have her speak to us at book club. We've talked via email for so long. It was a blast to meet face to face! I was deeply touched by Julie's testimony and could see the passion she has for writing historical romance stories. Julie is a real treasure.
 
 
We had other guests stop by to meet my book club members and many other authors we spoke to on the phone. We enjoyed them all. Thanks for being available to us and letting us get to know you and you books better.
 
Until Next Year!!
 
Nora :D

FREE AMAZON DOWNLOAD OF PASSION MOST PURE BY JULIE LESSMAN

Hi Everyone,

Just thought I'd tell you about a great opportunity Julie Lessman just told me about. below is a copy a letter which revealed an exciting opportunity for everyone.

Nora :D

FREE AMAZON DOWNLOAD FOR A PASSION MOST PURE!!!


Hello!

I have a HUGE favor to ask.  Here's a unique (and EASY) opportunity to win a signed copy of my first book in my Winds of Change series, A Hope Undaunted, which as many of you know, is Katie O'Connor's story.

Until April 3, A Passion Most Pure (and LOTS of other free books) are being offered on Amazon for FREE DOWNLOAD for Kindle, PC, Mac, i-phone and Blackberry!!! This is a HUGE push for my books AND will help me to continue writing the books you want me to write. All last week, APMP was #1 or 2 on the Kindle ranking list, but has now slipped to #5, and my publisher has asked me to do everything I can to put it back on top, so I need your help.

How? Your name will be thrown into a hat to win A Hope Undaunted EARLY every time you do any of the following, so you have lots of chances to win by doing as many of these things as possible:

1.) Download A Passion Most Pure yourself (for Kindle, PC, Mac, i-phone or Blackberry) on Amazon Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/Passion-Most-Daughters-Boston-ebook/dp/B001F516RA/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2


2.) Forward this e-mail to at least 10 people, asking them to download APMP FREE on Amazon Kindle. For every 10 people you send this to, you get another chance to win.

3.) Ask people on your FaceBook, Twitter, Goodreads, Shelfari or any other social network to download APMP FREE.

4.) Sign up for my FaceBook Fan Page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Julie-Lessman/98874268454


DETAILS:

Let me know via e-mail when you do any or all of the above things? Please copy me in on all e-mails you send out to your friends/family. For every 10 people you send this to, you will get another chance to win. There will be THREE winners in all, so I hope you will consider sharing this news and getting the word out about this offer.

WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED IN MY MAY NEWSLETTER!!


Hugs,

Julie

Julie Lessman
“Passion with a Purpose"

Daughters of Boston Series
A Passion Most Pure — ACFW Debut Book of the Year / Holt Medallion Award of Merit
A Passion Redeemed — Inspirational Reader’s Choice Finalist
A Passion Denied — Borders Best of 2009 So Far: Your Favorite Fiction, http://www.borders.com/online/store/ListView_best2009favefiction
http://www.julielessman.com/
http://seekerville.blogspot.com/

BECA BY THE BOOK by LAURA JENSEN WALKER


This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Becca By The Book


Zondervan (January 1, 2010)


by


Laura Jensen Walker

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laura Jensen Walker is an award-winning writer, popular speaker, and breast-cancer survivor who loves to touch readers and audiences with the healing power of laughter.

Born in Racine, Wisconsin (home of Western Printing and Johnson’s Wax—maker of your favorite floor care products) Laura moved to Phoenix, Arizona when she was in high school. But not being a fan of blazing heat and knowing that Uncle Sam was looking for a few good women, she enlisted in the United States Air Force shortly after graduation and spent the next five years flying a typewriter through Europe.

Her lifelong dream of writing fiction came true in Spring 2005 with the release of her first chick lit novel, Dreaming in Black & White which won the Contemporary Fiction Book of the Year from American Christian Fiction Writers. Her sophomore novel, Dreaming in Technicolor was published in Fall 2005.

Laura’s third novel, Reconstructing Natalie, chosen as the Women of Faith Novel of the Year for 2006, is the funny and poignant story of a young, single woman who gets breast cancer and how her life is reconstructed as a result. This book was born out of Laura’s cancer speaking engagements where she started meeting younger and younger women stricken with this disease—some whose husbands had left them, and others who wondered what breast cancer would do to their dating life. She wanted to write a novel that would give voice to those women. Something real. And honest. And funny.

Because although cancer isn’t funny, humor is healing.

To learn more about Laura’s latest novels, please check out her Books page.

A popular speaker and teacher at writing conferences, Laura has also been a guest on hundreds of radio and TV shows around the country including the ABC Weekend News, The 700 Club, and The Jay Thomas Morning Show.

She lives in Northern California with her Renaissance-man husband Michael, and Gracie, their piano playing dog.

ABOUT THE BOOK


Sales clerk, barista, telemarketer, sign waver...

At twenty-five, free-spirited Becca Daniels is still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. What Becca doesn’t want to be is bored. She craves the rush of a new experience, whether it’s an extreme sport, a shocking hair color, or a new guy. That’s why she quit her bookstore job, used her last bit of credit to go skydiving, and broke her leg.

And that’s why, grounded and grumpy, Becca bristles when teased by friends for being commitment-phobic. In response, Becca issues an outrageous wager—that she can sustain a three-month or twenty-five date relationship with the next guy who asks her out. When the guy turns out to be “churchy” Ben—definitely not Becca’s type—she gamely embarks on a hilarious series of dates that plunge her purple-haired, free-speaking, commitment-phobic self into the alien world of church potlucks and prayer meetings.

This irrepressible Getaway Girl will have you cheering her on as she “suffers” through her dates, gains perspective on her life’s purpose, and ultimately begins her greatest adventure of all.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Becca By The Book, go HERE

DR. COLBERT'S "I CAN DO THIS" DIET by DON COLBERT - FIRST CHAPTER & REVIEW

This is 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.

Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Siloam Press (January 5, 2010)
***Special thanks to LeAnn Hamby Publicity Coordinator, Book Group
Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Don Colbert, MD, is board-certified in family practice and anti-aging medicine. He has also received extensive training in nutritional and preventative medicine, and he has helped millions of people to discover the joy of living in divine health. In addition to speaking at conferences, he is the author of the New York Times best-selling book The Seven Pillars of Health, along with best sellers Toxic Relief, the Bible Cure series, Living in Divine Health, Deadly Emotions, and What Would Jesus Eat?

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Siloam Press (January 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599793504
ISBN-13: 978-1599793504

REVIEW:
Dr. Colbert's "I Can Do This" Diet
Published by Siloam Press

Back Cover:Too many people fight against their own brain and body chemistry when trying to lose weight. This is the reason that up until now, diets have only had a 2% success rate. Tired of saying, "I can't do this!" when looking at diet programs? Then let Dr. Colbert help you take advantage of the latest medical breakthroughs that show you how to work with your body, rather than against it to lose weight easily and keep it off for life. Forget the old diets that work against you. With Dr. Colbert's diet, you can say, "I can do this!"


As a medical doctor, Don Colbert deals every day with getting verifiable results that prove a patient is on his or her way to long-term health, not just fixing an immediate problem. And that is what this book is about. Far from being a diet, this program offers principles that are meant to last for life, principles that have been proven to work for thousands of individuals for more than a decade and counting. Dr. Colbert helps readers:

Learn the top five reasons why diets fail

Explore several fundamentals of weight loss

Overcome specific roadblocks to weight loss including insulin resistance, neurotransmitter imbalance, hormonal imbalance, and inflammation

Design a program catered just for them, including snacking, cooking, eating out, shopping, supplements, and much more

REVIEW: Dr. Colbert breaks down his book into helpful sections. I read the book all the way through because I found the explainations of things I thought I knew about like proteins, fats and the American diet easy to understand. I didn't zone out when reading it. It was simple and it made things click in my mind, subjects like how the body works and why we need certain things to make it proform well or what we do to our bodys we don't think is harmful but is being counter productive to the goal of a healthy life style. But if you already know about such things you can take a section of this book that interests you to learn more about and go from there.

Throughout each chapter there are information boxes, one of which is called "READ MORE ABOUT THIS",
The Dr. lists other books you can refer to for more information on the topic being discussed.

Another infomation box is called MORE INFORMATION, he refers you to other parts of the book that address the same topic.

Dr. Colbert says, "My goal is not only to equip you with everyday tools for staying on course and avoiding detours but also to infuse you with knowledge to overcome even bigger obstacles in the future."

He also says, "Drop the diet and get a life style--unlike most hard-nosed diet creators, I adhere to the beliefe thhat food, like life, is to be enjoyed.

As a result, this is a practical guide book that shows you how to address your immediate issues while adopting a dietary lifestyle that is maintainable for years to come."

I agree this is not a quick fix kind of book. It promotes a life style change that will lead to weight lose for life.

At the end of each chapter there is a section called "Can Do" Points to Remember. These points help drive home the main points of the chapter - I found it very helpful.

I found the simple way the Dr. explains the Why? and all the "Healthy" choices that weren't so healthy after surprising and very infomative. This book is easy to read, it takes time to figure out certain things abou yourself and your life style in order to change. But it's well worth your time to find out what's going on inside your body and what will work for you as an individual.

"The tests in the back off the book will help you find out what is keeping you from losing weight. It's helpful to discover what to avoid the pit falls in you achieving your goals. These questionaires will help you determine if there are any underlying conditions in your body that are interfering with your best efforts to lose weight and keep it off. "

It takes only a few minutes of your time to take the test to determine what could be standing in the way of a healthier you!! This book and the tests are worth you time.

Nora St. Laurent
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The Obesity Epidemic:
What We’re Up Against

A few years ago a thirty-two-year-old man named Morgan Spurlock became Ronald McDonald’s worst nightmare. Intent on correlating the rise of obesity in our nation with the fast-food giant, the independent filmmaker conducted a personal experiment—using himself as the guinea pig. For thirty days he ate nothing but McDonald’s food. He downed three meals a day, sampling every item on the Golden Arches’ menu. And whenever he was asked if he wanted his meal supersized, he accepted.

With cameras rolling the entire time, Spurlock transformed his body into a flab factory while consuming an average of 5,000 calories a day and gaining almost 25 pounds in a single month. He also turned his Academy Award–nominated documentary, Super Size Me, into a statement heard around the world.1

The jury is still out on whether Americans were actually paying attention. Though recent statistics indicate that the obesity rates in the United States may be stabilizing, they’re still at unprecedented, staggering levels.2 Since the 1960s, the proportion of obese Americans—now an astounding 34 percent—has more than doubled.3 Obesity currently kills an estimated four hundred thousand Americans each year and is the second-leading cause of preventable deaths in this country.4 The number one avoidable killer? Cigarette smoking.5 That means maintaining a healthy weight is up there with quitting smoking as the most crucial lifestyle change you could ever make. Because we’re seeing a trend of people deciding to quit smoking, I predict that obesity will soon pass smoking as the number one avoidable killer of Americans.

Unfortunately, many doctors, nutritionists, and dietitians seem to completely miss or ignore this fact. They love to offer topical “Band-Aids” that alleviate patients’ symptoms yet fail to tackle the root issues or consider the long-term ramifications of neglecting their patients’ weight. One recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that about a third of obese adults have never been told by a doctor or health-care provider that they were obese.6 Unbelievable! The results speak for themselves. In fact, they’re screaming while most practitioners turn the other way.

As our nation faces the biggest health-care crisis in its history, it’s time for us to realize that the answer isn’t going to come from doctors, clinics, or the U.S. government. It’s going to come from each person taking responsibility for their own health. And because obesity and overweight are at the root of so many health conditions, it only makes sense to start by getting yourself to a healthy weight.

Defining the Problem

Before we delve into what has so many people visiting the plus-size department, let’s clarify the terms overweight and obese. Many people have a general sense as to how these words are different, yet in recent years the delineation has become clearer. Various health organizations, including the CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), now officially define these terms using the body mass index (BMI), which factors in a person’s weight relative to height. Most of these organizations define an overweight adult as having a BMI between 25 and 29.9, while an obese adult is anyone who has a BMI of 30 or higher.7



It’s worth mentioning that a very small portion of individuals are overweight or obese according to their BMI (over 30) yet have a normal or low body fat percentage. Professional athletes, for instance, often have a high-muscle, low body fat makeup that causes them to weigh more than the average person, yet they are not truly obese (some football linemen and sumo wrestlers excluded, of course).

However, I have found that most of the people who come to me seeking help are not just overweight but technically obese, with a body fat percentage greater than 25 percent for males and greater than 33 percent for females.8 Throughout this book when I discuss having a high BMI (over 30), I will be referring to obese people and not those few muscular types with high BMI but a normal or low body fat percentage.

The Fat Cost of Obesity

When all is considered, obesity comes with a fat price tag (pun intended) of nearly $122.9 billion each year.10 Recently William L. Weis, a management professor at Seattle University, calculated the total annual revenue from the “obesity industry”—which includes fast-food restaurants, obesity-related medical treatments, and diet books—as more than $315 billion. That amounts to nearly 3 percent of the United States’ overall economy!11 As shocking as that sounds, no dollar amount can do justice to the real damage being done.

If you are overweight or obese, you increase your risk of developing thirty-five major diseases, including (take a deep breath) heart disease, stroke, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, Alzheimer’s disease, infertility, erectile dysfunction, gallstones, gallbladder disease, adult-onset asthma, and depression. In fact, we now know that being overweight or obese increases your odds of developing more than a dozen forms of cancer. After reviewing more than seven thousand medical studies over the course of five years, a team of highly respected scientists from around the world concluded in 2007 that diet and weight have a direct effect on the chances of developing cancer. With help from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer, they listed the top ten recommendations for cancer prevention; body fat came in at number one. Their report also strongly recommended maintaining a normal range of body weight, which they identified as a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9, to assist in cancer prevention.12

If you are an obese woman, you have a significantly higher risk of postmenopausal breast cancer—one and a half times more than a woman with an average healthy weight, to be exact. You also increase your chances of developing uterine cancer because of your weight. For pregnant mothers, the risk of delivering a baby with a serious birth defect is doubled if you are overweight and quadrupled if you are obese.13 Men, your chances of developing prostate cancer are almost double if you are overweight, and even greater if you are obese.14 (Prostate cancer is the second-most common cancer among men behind skin cancer.) A separate new study indicates that the greater a man’s weight, the greater his chances of dying from a stroke.15 Finally, for both men and women the odds of getting colon and kidney cancer increase with weight. And being obese triples your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

This is just a sampling of the physical implications of obesity. There are social and psychological ones too. Obese individuals generally contend with more rejection and prejudice than the average person. Often they are overlooked for promotions or not even hired because of their physical appearance. Most obese people struggle daily with self-worth and self-image issues. They feel unattractive and unappreciated and are at an increased risk of depression. Many of us have experienced the humiliating experience of an obese person trying to fit in an airplane, stadium, or automobile seat that is too small. Maybe you have been that person. If you have, you are well acquainted with how obesity can affect the way others treat you, as well as how you treat yourself.

Globesity and a Culprit

Tragically, millions of others outside the United States struggle with the same issues. The World Health Organization calls obesity a worldwide epidemic. Obesity, along with its expanding list of health consequences, is now overtaking infection and malnutrition as the main cause of death and disability in many third-world countries. Globesity, as it has been termed, has officially arrived. And it seems Morgan Spurlock was on the right track in discovering a major reason why.

In Fast Food Nation, author Eric Schlosser reports that in 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000, we spent more than $110 billion. Because corporate America is a global trendsetter, other countries have followed suit. Between 1984 and 1993, the number of fast-food restaurants in Great Britain doubled, as did the obesity rate among adults. Fast-forward fifteen years, and you will find the British currently eat more fast food than any other nation in Western Europe.





Meanwhile, the proportion of overweight teens in China has roughly tripled in the past decade. In Japan, the obesity rate among children doubled during the 1980s, which correlated with a 200 percent increase in fast-food sales. This generation of Japanese has gone on to become the first in the nation’s history known for its bulging waistlines. Approximately one-third of all Japanese men in their thirties are now overweight.16 Yes, the entire world is beginning to look more like Americans by adopting our fast-food eating habits.

A Child Shall Lead Them

How has an entire generation of hefty eaters changed the face of the world? By starting young. And once again, this unflattering trend originated in America. In the United States, one-fifth of our children are now reported to be overweight, and one out of ten (24 million adults) have diabetes. The CDC predicts that one out of three children born in the United States in 2000 will develop type 2 diabetes at some point in their life.18

As a result of childhood obesity, we are seeing a dramatic rise in children with type 2 diabetes throughout the country. And because of the connection obesity has with hypertension, hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), and heart disease, experts are predicting a dramatic rise in heart disease as our children become adults. The CDC reports that overweight teens stand a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight adults, and that is increased to 80 percent if at least one parent is overweight or obese. Because of that, heart disease and type 2 diabetes are expected to begin at a much earlier age in those who fail to beat the odds.19 Overall, this is the first generation of children that is not expected to live as long as their parents, and they will be more likely to suffer from disease and illness at an earlier age.

If you do not lose weight for yourself, at least do it for your children. Children follow by example, by mirroring the behavior of their parents. Don’t tell them to lose weight without doing it yourself. I’m sure most of you love your children and are good parents. But ask yourself: Do you love your children enough to lose weight? Do you love them enough to educate them on what foods to eat and what foods to avoid? Do you love them enough to keep junk food out of your house and instead make healthy food more available? Do you love them enough to exercise regularly and lead by example?

If you answered yes to those questions, it is important that you not only take action for your children’s sake but also that you make changes for them that last. I am ecstatic that you have picked up this book. I believe you now hold the key to truly changing your life. But let me be honest; this is not an easy fight when it involves your children’s lives. The culture in which they are growing up is saturated with junk food that is void of nutrition but high in toxic fats, sugars, highly processed carbohydrates, and food additives. Consuming these foods has become part of childhood. For example, in 1978, the typical teenage boy in the United States drank seven ounces of soda a day; today he drinks approximately three times that much. Meanwhile, he gets about a quarter of his daily servings of vegetables from french fries and potato chips.24



If you’re planning on taking a stand against this garbage-in, garbage-out culture, expect some opposition from every front. During the course of a year, the typical American child will watch more than thirty thousand television commercials, with many of these advertisements pitching fast food or junk food as delicious “must-eats.” For years, fast-food franchises have enticed children into their restaurants with kids’ meal toys, promotional giveaways, and elaborate playgrounds. It has obviously worked for McDonald’s: about 90 percent of American children between the ages of three and nine set foot in one each month.25 And when they can’t visit the Golden Arches, it comes to them. Fast-food products—most of which are brought in by franchises—are sold in about 30 percent of public high school cafeterias and many elementary cafeterias.26

These fast-food establishments spend billions of dollars on research and marketing. They know exactly what they are doing and how to push your child’s hot button. They understand the powerful impact certain foods can have on you at a young age. Have you ever thought of when you first started liking certain foods? For the majority of people, those preferences were formed during the first few years of life. That is why comfort foods often do more than just fill the stomach; they bring about memories of the fair, playgrounds, toys, backyard birthday bashes, Fourth of July parties, childhood friends . . . the list goes on. The aroma of foods such as onion rings, doughnuts, or fried hamburgers can instantly trigger these memories, and as adults, we are often unconsciously drawn to these smells. Advertisers have keyed into this and learned to use the sight of food to stimulate the same fond childhood memories.

In the Genes or in the Water?

For every obese person, there is a story behind the excessive weight gain. Growing up, I would often hear it said of an obese person that “she was just born fat,” or “he takes after his daddy.” There’s some truth in both of those. Genetics count when it comes to obesity.

In 1988, the New England Journal of Medicine published a Danish study that observed five hundred forty people who had been adopted during infancy. The research found that adopted individuals had a much greater tendency to end up in the weight class of their biological parents rather than their adoptive parents.28 Separate studies have proven that twins raised apart also reveal that genes have a strong influence on gaining weight or becoming overweight.29 There is a significant genetic predisposition to gaining weight.

Still, that does not fully explain the epidemic of obesity seen in the United States over the past thirty years. Although an individual may have a genetic predisposition to become obese, environment plays a major role as well. I like the way author, speaker, and noted women’s physician Pamela Peeke said it: “Genetics may load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger.”30 Many patients I see come into my office thinking they have inherited their “fat genes,” and therefore there is nothing they can do about it. After investigating a little, I usually find that they simply inherited their parents’ propensity for bad choices of foods, large portion sizes, and poor eating habits.

If you have been overweight since childhood, you probably have an increased number of fat cells, which means you will have a tendency to gain weight if you choose the wrong types of foods, large portion sizes, and are inactive. But you should also realize that most people can override their genetic makeup for obesity by making the correct dietary and lifestyle choices. Unfortunately, many of us forget that to make these healthy choices, it helps to surround ourselves with a healthy environment.

That is becoming more difficult than ever as families give way to their hectic routines by grabbing breakfasts-on-the-go, ordering fast-food lunches, dining out for dinner, and skipping meals. After years of this, it is catching up to us. The average American adult gains between 1 to 3 pounds a year, beginning at age twenty-five. That means a twenty-five-year-old, 120-pound female can expect to weigh anywhere from 150 to 210 pounds by the time she is fifty-five years of age. Is there any wonder why we have an epidemic of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, arthritis, cancer, and other degenerative diseases? We have to put the brakes on this obesity epidemic—and a lifestyle approach to eating is the answer!

Adding Culture to the Mix

Just as environment often shapes your health habits, so does culture. The two walk hand in hand when it comes to causing obesity. As children, we develop our food preferences and habits based on our family environment. Yet every family is influenced by its surrounding culture, and culture often shapes the types of foods, recipes, and ingredients we choose on a regular basis.

I was raised in Mississippi. Ever since I was a child I remember how my mother’s coffee cup always sat on the stove in the kitchen. But instead of coffee, it was filled with bacon grease. Whenever she cooked vegetables—any kind—she would add a few tablespoons of that bacon grease to add flavor. She fried almost everything: fried chicken, fried hamburgers, fried salmon, fried fish sticks, chicken fried steaks, fried chicken livers, fried ham, fried pork chops, fried bacon . . . you name it. Why did she do this? Because her mother had taught her to fry virtually any meat.

Mom also usually made gravies, all of which were grease-based. Most meals were served with corn bread or biscuits, either of which contained a hefty amount of Crisco shortening. We rarely ate grilled food, and when we did, it was a fatty cut of meat. I still remember my father making me eat all the fat on my steak. Since I was a skinny kid, he would say, “Son, that fat is good for you—it will help to fatten you up.” I recall almost puking as I tried to get the fat down.

We were a typical Southern family. My brother, sister, and I were all raised to eat fried foods, greasy foods, biscuits, and corn bread—and top it all off with a large piece of cake or pie for dessert. Today, I see a similar thing happening in the southwestern part of the United States. This Southwest culture, which is in part defined by its Tex-Mex and Mexican eating habits, is helping to fuel the obesity epidemic. Most of these people are being raised on highly processed white breads or corn tortillas, white rice and fried white rice, corn chips, refried beans, fried tacos, enchiladas, nachos . . . the list goes on. Their diet typically contains a lot of fats, a lot of grease, a ton of highly processed carbohydrates, and a lot of sugar.

It is no coincidence that almost every year some Texas city has the unflattering distinction of having the largest number of obese individuals in the country. After Houston was named the “fattest city” multiple times in past years, 2008 saw Arlington, San Antonio, Fort Worth, El Paso, and Dallas all place among the top ten fattest cities of Men’s Fitness magazine’s “Annual Fattest and Fittest Cities in America Report.” The year before, four of those cities made the dubious honor.31 Not only do these overweight hot spots feature some of the country’s best Tex-Mex and Mexican style foods, but they also offer extra large Texas portions with a blend of some of the most calorie-dense cultural foods around. Is there any wonder why Texans have a major obesity problem?

Eating With the Head and Not the Heart



We have discussed how genetics can sometimes, though rarely, prompt an individual’s obese state. We have also talked about how the overwhelming majority of obesity cases are a direct result of environment and culture. These can be discouraging factors in light of the gloomy statistics and the ongoing epidemic. However, I want to end this chapter on a positive note by reminding you of a simple truth. In fact, it is what this book is all about.

Regardless of how difficult it sounds, your cultural tastes and foods can be changed over time with education, practice, and discipline. You can learn how to choose similar foods that have not been excessively processed as well as lower-fat alternatives. It’s possible to discover—or rediscover—portion control and healthy cooking methods. Sure, you may still love your fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and chocolate cake. But soon you will be able to enjoy the same foods with just a fraction of the fat, sugars, and calories.

When I wrote the book What Would Jesus Eat? about the Mediterranean diet, I learned that most Middle Easterners ate differently than the typical American. That sounds obvious, but what distinguishes the two isn’t. I found that those who are used to a Mediterranean diet typically would not leave the dinner table stuffed as most Americans do. Generally, they ate anything they wanted—but in moderation. They enjoyed their food and socialized while eating. They had the uncanny ability to enjoy just a few bites of their favorite foods such as wine, dark chocolate, or even chocolate ice cream. Unlike most Americans, who scarf down a dessert as if they were inhaling it, those eating a Mediterranean diet actually savored just a few bites.

The real pleasure in most foods is in the first few bites. We will discuss this later, but for now, know that you can break out of your old cultural eating patterns. You do not have to follow a parent’s poor food choices, and you can overcome your family’s eating cultural patterns. (I certainly did!) And in the process, you will discover the true joy of eating.


BE AUTHENTIC by WARREN WIERSBY - FIRST CHAPTER

This is 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.



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

David C. Cook; New edition (January 1, 2010)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


A man who has given his life to a deep examination of the Word of God, Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher, former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago and the author of more than 150 books. 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. Dubbed by many as the “pastor’s pastor,” Dr. Wiersbe skillfully weaves Scripture with historical explanations and thought-provoking questions, communicating the Word in such a way that the masses grasp its relevance for today.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (January 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434766306
ISBN-13: 978-1434766304

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Like Father , Like Son—Almost

(Genesis 25—26)


Isaac was the son of a famous father (Abraham) and the father of a famous son (Jacob), and for those reasons he is sometimes considered a lightweight among the patriarchs. Compared to the exploits of Abraham and Jacob, Isaac’s life does seem conventional and commonplace. Although he lived longer than either Abraham or Jacob, only six chapters are devoted to Isaac’s life in the Genesis record, and only one verse in Hebrews 11 (v. 9).


Isaac was a quiet, meditative man (Gen. 24:63), who would rather pack up and leave than confront his enemies. During his long life, he didn’t travel far from home. Abraham had made the long journey from Haran to Canaan, and had even visited Egypt, and Jacob went to Haran to get a wife, but Isaac spent his entire adult life moving around in the land of Canaan. If there had been an ancient Middle East equivalent to our contemporary “jet set,” Isaac wouldn’t have joined it.


However, there are more Isaacs in this world than there are Abrahams or Jacobs, and these people make important contributions to society and to the church, even if they don’t see their names in lights or even in the church bulletin. Furthermore, Isaac was a living part of the divine plan that eventually produced the Jewish nation, gave us the Bible, and brought Jesus Christ into the world, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.


Isaac wasn’t a failure; he was just different. After all, the people in each generation have to find themselves and be themselves and not spend their lives slavishly trying to imitate their ancestors. “Men are born equal,” wrote psychiatrist Erich Fromm in Escape from Freedom, “but they are also born different.” Discovering our uniqueness and using it to the glory of God is the challenge that makes life what it is. Why be a cheap imitation when you can be a valuable original?


No generation stands alone, because each new generation is bound to previous generations whether we like it or not. Isaac was bound to Abraham and Sarah by ties that couldn’t be ignored or easily broken. Let’s look at some of those ties and discover what they teach us about our own life of faith today.


HE RECEIVED HIS FATHE R’S INHERITANCE (25:1–18)


Abraham recognized his other children by giving them gifts and sending them away, thereby making sure they couldn’t supplant Isaac as the rightful heir. Along with his father’s immense wealth (13:2; 23:6), Isaac also inherited the covenant blessings that God had given Abraham and Sarah (12:1–3; 13:14–18; 15:1–6). Isaac had parents who believed God and, in spite of occasional mistakes, tried to please Him.


Abraham’s firstborn son, Ishmael (chap. 16), wasn’t chosen to be the child of promise and the heir of the covenant blessings. God promised to bless Ishmael and make him a great nation, and He kept His promise (17:20–21; 25:12–16); “But my covenant will I establish with Isaac” (17:21;

Rom. 9:6–13). Ishmael was on hand for his father’s funeral (Gen. 25:9), but he wasn’t included in the reading of his father’s will.


Ishmael pictures the “natural” or unsaved person (1 Cor. 2:14), who is outside the faith and hostile to the things of God. But Isaac pictures those who have trusted Jesus Christ and experienced the miraculous new birth by the power of God (1 Peter 1:22–23). “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise” (Gal. 4:28). Ishmael was born a slave, but Isaac was born free (4:21–31; 5:1–2); and Ishmael was born poor, but Isaac was born rich. Every believer in Jesus Christ shares all the blessings of the Spirit in Christ (Eph. 1:3) and is part of Christ’s glorious inheritance (vv. 11, 18).


From the moment of birth, we’re all dependent on the older generation to care for us until we can care for ourselves. We’re also indebted to previous generations for guarding and handing down to us the knowledge, skills, traditions, and culture that are extremely important to daily life. Imagine what life would be like if each new generation had to devise the alphabet, invent printing, discover electricity, or design the wheel!


The most important part of Isaac’s legacy wasn’t the great material wealth his father had left him. Isaac’s most important legacy was the spiritual wealth from his father and mother: knowing and trusting the true and living God and being a part of the covenant blessings that God had graciously bestowed upon Abraham and Sarah and their descendants. How tragic it is when the children of devout Christian believers turn their backs on their priceless spiritual heritage and, like Ishmael and Esau, live for the world and the flesh instead of for the Lord!



HE PRAYED TO HIS FATHER’S GOD (25:19–34)


Genesis is a record of ten successive “generations.” Generations come and go, but the Lord remains and never changes. “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations” (Ps. 90:1 NKJV).


A devoted home (vv. 19–20). When Isaac was forty years old, God selected Rebekah to be his wife (chap. 24; 25:20), and we have every reason to believe that they were both devoted to the Lord and to each other. The record indicates that Rebekah was the more aggressive of the two when it came to family matters, but perhaps that’s just the kind of wife Isaac needed. Whatever mistakes Isaac may have made as a husband and father, this much is true: As a young man, he willingly put himself on the altar to obey his father and to please the Lord (chap. 22; Rom. 12:1–2).


A disappointed home (v. 21). Isaac and Rebekah waited twenty years for a family, but no children came. The entire book of Genesis emphasizes the sovereignty of God and the wisdom of His “delays.” Abraham and Sarah had to wait twenty-five years for Isaac to be born; Jacob had to labor fourteen years to obtain his two wives; and Joseph had to wait over twenty years before he was reconciled to his brothers. Our times are in His hands (Ps. 31:15), and His timing is never wrong.


Like Abraham, Isaac was a man of prayer, so he interceded with the Lord on behalf of his barren wife. Isaac had every right to ask God for children because of the covenant promises the Lord had made to his father and mother, promises Isaac had heard repeated in the family circle and that he believed. If Rebekah remained barren, how could Abraham’s seed multiply as the dust of the earth and the stars of the heavens? How could Abraham’s seed become a blessing to the whole world (Gen. 12:1–3; 13:16; 15:5; 17:6)?


It has well been said that the purpose of prayer is not to get our will done in heaven but to get God’s will done on earth. Even though every Jewish couple wanted children, Isaac wasn’t praying selfishly. He was concerned about God’s plan for fulfilling His covenant and blessing the whole world through the promised Messiah (3:15; 12:1–3). True prayer means being concerned about God’s will, not our own wants, and claiming God’s promises in the Word. The Lord answered Isaac’s prayer and enabled Rebekah to conceive.


A distressed home (vv. 22–23). One problem soon led to another, because Rebekah’s pregnancy was a difficult one: The babies in her womb were struggling with each other. The Hebrew word means “to crush or oppress,” suggesting that the fetal movements were not normal. Since Rebekah wondered if the Lord was trying to say something to her, she went to inquire. Isaac was fortunate to have a wife who not only knew how to pray, but who also wanted to understand God’s will for herself and her children.


In salvation history, the conception and birth of children is a divinely ordained event that has significant consequences. This was true of the birth of Isaac (chaps. 18, 21), the twelve sons of Jacob (29:30—30:24), Moses (Ex. 1—2), Samuel (1 Sam. 1—2), David (Ruth 4:17–22), and our Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 4:4–5). Conception, birth, and death are divine appointments, not human accidents, a part of God’s wise and loving plan for His own people (Ps. 116:15; 139:13–16).


Imagine Rebekah’s surprise when she learned that the two children would struggle with each other all their lives! Each child would produce a nation, and these two nations (Edom and Israel) would compete, but the younger would master the older. Just as God had chosen Isaac, the second-born, and not Ishmael, the firstborn, so He chose Jacob, the second-born, and not Esau, the firstborn. That the younger son should rule the elder was contrary to human tradition and logic, but the sovereign God made the choice (Rom. 9:10–12), and God never makes a mistake.


A divided home (vv. 24–28). Esau probably means “hairy.” He also had the nickname “Edom,” which means “red,” referring to his red hair and the red lentil soup Jacob sold him (vv. 25, 30). The twin boys not only looked different but they also were different in personality. Esau

was a robust outdoorsman, who was a successful hunter, while Jacob was a “home boy.” You would think that Isaac would have favored Jacob, since both of them enjoyed domestic pursuits, but Jacob was Rebekah’s favorite. Rebekah was a hands-on mother who knew what was going on in the home and could contrive ways to get what she thought was best.


It’s unfortunate when homes are divided because parents and children put their own personal desires ahead of the will of God. Isaac enjoyed eating the tasty game that Esau brought home, a fact that would be important in later family history (chap. 27). Isaac, the quiet man, fulfilled his dreams in Esau, the courageous man, and apparently ignored the fact that his elder son was also a worldly man. Did Isaac know that Esau had forfeited his birthright? The record doesn’t tell us. But he did know that God had chosen the younger son over the elder son.


A friend of mine kept a card under the glass on his office desk that read: “Faith is living without scheming.” Jacob could have used that card. Before his birth, he had been divinely chosen to receive the birthright and the blessing; thus there was no need for him to scheme and take advantage of his brother. It’s likely that Jacob had already seen plenty of evidence that Esau didn’t care about spiritual things, an attitude that made Esau unfit to receive the blessing and accomplish God’s will. Perhaps Jacob and his mother had even discussed the matter.


The name “Jacob” comes from a Hebrew word (yaaqob) that means “may God protect,” but because it sounds like the words aqeb (“heel”) and aqab (“watch from behind” or “overtake”), his name became a nickname: “he grasps the heel” or “he deceives.” Before birth, Jacob and Esau had contended, and at birth, Jacob grasped his brother’s heel. This latter action was interpreted to mean that Jacob would trip up his brother and take advantage of him. The prediction proved true.


The fact that God had already determined to give the covenant blessings to Jacob didn’t absolve anybody in the family from their obligations to the Lord. They were all responsible for their actions, because divine sovereignty doesn’t destroy human responsibility. In fact, knowing that we’re the chosen of God means we have a greater responsibility to do His will.



HE FACED HIS FATHER’S TEMPTATIONS (26:1–11)


True faith is always tested, either by temptations within us or trials around us (James 1:1–18), because a faith that can’t be tested can’t be trusted. God tests us to bring out the best in us, but Satan tempts us to bring out the worst in us. In one form or another, each new generation must experience the same tests as previous generations, if only to discover that the enemy doesn’t change and that human nature doesn’t improve. Abraham is mentioned eight times in this chapter, and you find the word “father” six times. Isaac was very much his father’s son. Abraham Lincoln was right: “We can not escape history.”


The temptation to run (vv. 1–6). When Abraham arrived in Canaan, he found a famine in the land and faced his first serious test of faith (12:10—13:4). His solution was to abandon the place God had chosen for him, the place of obedience, and to run to Egypt, thus establishing a bad example for his descendants who were prone to imitate him.5 The safest place in the world is in the will of God, for the will of God will never lead us where His grace can’t provide for us. Unbelief asks, “How can I get out of this,” while faith asks, “What can I get out of this?”


When Isaac faced the problem of a famine, he decided to go to Gerar, the capital city of the Philistines, and get help from Abimelech.6 Isaac and Rebekah were probably living at Beer Lahai Roi at that time (25:11), which means they traveled about seventy-five miles northeast to get to Gerar. Even after arriving in Gerar, Isaac and Rebekah may have been tempted to go south to Egypt, though God had warned them not to consider that possibility.


God permitted Isaac to remain in Philistia and promised to bless him. God had promised Abraham that his descendants would be greatly multiplied and one day would possess all those lands. Thus Isaac had a right to be there as long as God approved (12:2–3; 13:16; 15:5; 17:3–8; 22:15–18). God blessed Isaac for Abraham’s sake (25:5, 24), just as He has blessed believers today for the sake of Jesus Christ.


We can never successfully run away from trials, because God sees to it that His children learn the lessons of faith regardless of where they go. We can never grow in faith by running from difficulty, because “tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character” (Rom.

5:3–4 NKJV). Like David, we may wish we had “wings like a dove” so we could “fly away and be at rest” (Ps. 55:6 NKJV), but if we did, we’d always be doves when God wants us to “mount up with wings as eagles” (Isa. 40:31).


The temptation to lie (vv. 7–11). Isaac could flee from famine, but when he put himself into a situation that offered no escape, he had to turn to deception to protect himself. Abraham committed this same sin twice, once in Egypt (Gen. 12:14–20) and once in Philistia (chap. 20). Remember, faith is living without scheming, and telling lies seems to be one of humanity’s favorite ways to escape responsibility.


Isaac was asked about the woman who was with him and, like his father Abraham before him, he said she was his sister. But when Abimelech saw Isaac caressing Rebekah, he knew she was his wife. Why did Isaac lie? Because he was afraid his pagan host would kill him in order to obtain his beautiful wife. His lie was evidence of his unbelief, for if he had claimed the covenant promise when he prayed for children (25:21), why couldn’t he claim that same covenant promise to protect himself and his wife?


The English poet John Dryden wrote, “Truth is the foundation of all knowledge and the cement of all societies.” When people don’t keep their word, the foundations of society begin to shake and things start to fall apart. Happy homes, lasting friendships, thriving businesses, stable governments, and effective churches all depend on truth for their success. The American preacher Phillips Brooks said, “Truth is always strong, no matter how weak it looks; and falsehood is always weak, no matter how strong it looks.” Truth is cement; falsehood is whitewash.


When he found himself in difficulty, Isaac was tempted to run and to lie, and we face these same temptations today. Isaac succumbed to temptation and was found out. It’s a sad day when unconverted people like Abimelech publicly expose God’s servants for telling lies. What an embarrassment to the cause of truth!


HE DUG AGAIN HIS FATHER’S WELLS (26:12–35)

Isaac inherited flocks and herds from his father, who had lived a nomadic life, but now the wealthy heir settled down and became a farmer, remaining in Gerar “a long time” (v. 8).


The blessing (vv. 12–14). Isaac and his neighbors had access to the same soil, and they depended on the same sunshine and rain, but Isaac’s harvests were greater than theirs, and his flocks and herds multiplied more abundantly. The secret? God kept His promise and blessed Isaac in all that he did (vv. 3–5). God would give a similar blessing to Jacob years later (chap. 31).


But Isaac was a deceiver! How could the Lord bless somebody who claimed to be a believer and yet deliberately lied to his unbelieving neighbors? Because God is always faithful to His covenant and keeps His promises (2 Tim. 2:11–13), and the only condition God attached to His promise of blessing was that Isaac remain in the land and not go to Egypt.


God also blessed Isaac because of Abraham’s life and faith (Gen. 26:5), just as He blesses us for the sake of Jesus Christ. We’ll never know until we get to heaven how many of our blessings have been “dividends” from the spiritual investments made by godly friends and family who have gone before.


The conflict (vv. 14–17). In spite of his material blessings, Isaac still suffered because of his lie, because the blessings he received brought burdens and battles to his life. Seeing his great wealth, the Philistines envied him and decided he was a threat to their safety. (A similar

situation would occur when the Jews multiplied in Egypt. See Ex. 1:8ff.)


“The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it” (Prov. 10:22 NKJV). Had Isaac not lied about his wife, God would not have disciplined him but would have given him peace with his neighbors (Prov. 16:7). Because of his sin, however, Isaac’s material blessings

caused him trouble.


The Philistines tried to get Isaac to leave their land and settle elsewhere, and to encourage this they stopped up Abraham’s wells and deprived Isaac’s flocks and herds of the water they desperately needed. Water was a precious commodity in the Near East, and adequate wells were necessary if you were to succeed in the land. The crisis came when the king commanded Isaac to move away, and Isaac obeyed.


The search (vv. 18–22). No matter where Isaac journeyed, the enemy followed him and confiscated his father’s wells and also the new wells that Isaac’s servants dug. To find a well of “springing water” (v. 19) was a special blessing, for it guaranteed fresh water at all times, but the Philistines took that well, too. The names of the new wells that Isaac’s men dug reveal the

problems that he had with his neighbors, for Esek means “contention,” and Sitnah means “hatred.” But Rehoboth means “enlargement” because Isaac finally found a place where he was left alone and had room enough for his camp and his flocks and herds.


Whenever Abraham had a problem with people, he boldly confronted them and got the matter settled, whether it was his nephew Lot (13:5–18), the invading kings (chap. 14), Hagar and Ishmael (21:9ff.), or the Philistines (vv. 22ff.). But Isaac was a retiring man who wanted to avoid confrontation. Since he was a pilgrim, he could move his camp and be a peacemaker.


In every difficult situation of life, we must use discernment to know whether God wants us to be confronters like Abraham or peacemakers like Isaac, for God can bless and use both approaches. “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18 NKJV). Sometimes it isn’t possible, but at least we should try, and we must depend on the wisdom from above that is “pure” and “peaceable” (James 3:17).


Looking at Isaac’s experience from a spiritual point of view, we can learn an important lesson. In the Bible, wells sometimes symbolize blessings from the hand of the Lord (Gen. 16:14; 21:19; 49:22; Ex. 15:27; Num. 21:16–18; Prov. 5:15; 16:22; 18:4; Song 4:15; Isa. 12:3; John 4:14).9 The church keeps looking for something new, when all we need is to dig again the old wells of spiritual life that God’s people have depended on from the beginning—the Word of God, prayer, worship, faith, the power of the Spirit, sacrifice, and service—wells that we’ve allowed the enemy to fill up. Whenever there’s been a revival of spiritual power in the history of the church, it’s been because somebody has dug again the old wells so that God’s life-giving Spirit can be free to work.


The assurance (vv. 23–25). Beersheba was a very special place for Isaac, because there his father had entered into a covenant with the Philistine leaders (21:22ff.). Beersheba means “the well of the oath.” The Lord comes to us with His assuring Word just when we need encouragement (Acts 18:9–11; 23:11; 27:23–24; 2 Tim. 2:19). No matter who is against us, God is with us and for us (Gen. 28:15; 31:3; Rom. 8:31–39), and there’s no need for us to be afraid. In response to God’s gracious word of promise, Isaac built an altar and worshipped the Lord. He was ready to meet his adversaries.


Like his father Abraham, Isaac was identified by his tent and altar (Gen. 26:25; see also 12:7–8; 13:3–4, 18). Isaac was wealthy enough to be able to build himself a fine house, but his tent identified him as a pilgrim and stranger in the land (Heb. 11:8–10, 13–16). A fugitive is fleeing from home; a vagabond has no home; a stranger is away from home; but a pilgrim is heading home. The tent identified Isaac as a pilgrim, and the altar announced that he worshipped Jehovah and was heading to the heavenly kingdom.


Like Isaac, all who have trusted Jesus Christ are strangers in this world and pilgrims heading for a better world (1 Peter 1:1; 2:11). The body we live in is our tent; one day it will be taken down and we’ll go to the heavenly city (2 Cor. 5:1–8). Life here is brief and temporary, because this tent is fragile, but our glorified body will be ours for eternity (Phil. 3:20–21; 1 John 3:1–3). While we’re here on earth, let’s be sure we build the altar and give our witness that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.


The agreement (vv. 26–33). Isaac’s strategy paid off, because the Philistine leaders came to him to settle the matter of the property rights (21:22ff.). Fortified by God’s promises, Isaac was much bolder in his approach, and he confronted the Philistines with their misdeeds. It’s worth noting that Isaac’s conduct during this conflict made a great impression on them, and they could tell that the Lord was richly blessing him. More important than possessing his wells was the privilege Isaac had of sharing his witness with his pagan neighbors. (For a contrasting situation, see 1 Cor. 6:1–8.)


Isaac and the leaders were able to reach an agreement. To seal the treaty, Isaac hosted a feast, for in that culture, to eat with others was to forge strong links of friendship and mutual support. That same day, Isaac’s servants found one of Abraham’s wells (Gen. 21:25–31) and opened it, and Isaac gave it the original name, Beersheba. “The well of the oath” now referred to Isaac’s treaty as well as Abraham’s.


More conflict (vv. 34–35). Isaac was at peace with his neighbors, but he had war at home. His worldly son Esau had married two heathen wives who caused grief to Isaac and Rebekah. (Later, just to provoke his parents, he married a third heathen wife. See 28:8–9.) In view of Esau’s sinful lifestyle, we wonder that Isaac wanted to give him the patriarchal blessing (chap. 27).


All of us would like to find our Rehoboth (enlargement) where we have plenty of room and no contention, but Isaac’s Rehoboth was found only after he endured conflict. It’s through difficulties that God enlarges us for the larger places He prepares for us. “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress” (Ps. 4:1). When the troubles of our hearts are enlarged and we trust God, then the Lord can enlarge us (25:17) and bring us “into a large place” (18:19). If we want room, we have to suffer, because that’s the only way we can grow and feel at home in the larger place God gives us when we’re ready for it.



©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. Be Authentic by Warren Wiersbe. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

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DELIVER US FROM EVIL by ROBIN CAROLL - FIRST CHAPTER AND REVIEW

This is 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.

Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

B&H Academic (February 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Julie Gwinn of B&H Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Robin Caroll has authored eight previous books including Bayou Justice and Melody of Murder. She gives back to the writing community as conference director for the American Christian Fiction Writers organization. A proud southerner through and through, Robin lives with her husband and three daughters in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Visit the author's website.




Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: B&H Academic (February 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805449809
ISBN-13: 978-0805449808

REVIEW:

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

By Robin Caroll
Published by: B & H
ISBN# 978-0-8054-4980-8
298 Pages

Back Cover: Brannon Callahan, a search and rescue helicopter pilot working for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is as beautiful and tough as the terrain surrounding her. When a blizzard crashes the small helicopter carrying U.S. Marshall Roark Holland, she must save him and the donor heart he is transporting to a comatose government witness whose mind holds a crucial piece of information. Without it, the largest child trafficking ring in history—closer than Brannon or Roark can imagine—will slip further into darkness somewhere along the Appalachian Trail.

REVIEW: I received a review copy of Robin Caroll’s exciting debut novel. Warning: reading this book will keep you up late—compelled to discover the final, exciting conclusion to this wonderful book.

Robin Caroll’s characters were strong, brassy and real. Roark reminded me of the U.S. Marshall in the movie The Fugitive. He liked to be in control of everything. His motto, “Don’t let them see your weakness.”

Brannon reminded me of the female character in G.I. Jane. She’s a rough and tough girl you don’t want to mess with when she’s working. Here’s a peak at how Brannon snaps at Roark, ” Let me tell you something, Mr. Marshall. I don’t care how big and important you think you are—you will not make it out of these mountains without our guidance. So you can stop with the arrogance and know-it-all, take-charge attitude. We must work together to survive.”

I felt like I was in the middle of an action adventure movie with fighting, shooting, chase scenes, fires, helicopters and police drama. This is an intriguing story filled with suspense, hope, forgiveness and justice. I enjoyed the comradery among the characters and how they chased down the bad guys. But, I especially enjoyed how this author wove a believable spiritual thread into the story; keeping the main thing the main thing even in the middle of war - I like that.

There’s a race to set little girls free from brothels in the USA, before they’re shipped to another location. I think Robin handled the topic of sex-trafficking with grace. I’m sure conditions in brothels are worse than described. The author notes she hadn’t realized how serious this problem was before doing research. It’s horrific.

I enjoyed every second of this book. Can’t wait to read the sequel called Fear No Evil. Way to go, Robin Caroll, on writing such a great and exciting debut novel.

Nora St.Laurent
ACFW Book Club Coordinator




AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Tuesday, 3:30 p.m.
FBI Field Office
Knoxville, Tennessee

Jonathan’s throat closed as he stared at the building from the parking lot. He gripped the package tight in his arthritic hands. Could he do this? Turn over evidence that would implicate him?

His heart raced and he froze. Not the best time for his atrial fibrillation to make an appearance. Despite being on the heart transplant list for eight months, it looked like his progressed heart disease would do him in. The most important reason he couldn’t go to prison—he’d never get a heart and would die. While Carmen wanted him to confess his crimes, she wouldn’t want him to die. The memory of saying good-bye to his beloved mere hours ago scorched his soul.

Her eyes fluttered open. Those blue orbs, which had once sparkled even in the absence of light, now blinked flat and lifeless.

He swallowed hard.

“Jonathan,” her voice croaked, “it’s time.”

Tears burned the backs of his eyes, and he rested his hand over her parchmentlike skin. “No, Carmen. Please, let me get the medicine.”

Her eyelids drooped and she gasped. Air wheezed in her lungs. “Sweetheart, the fight’s . . . gone from me.” She let out a hiss, faint and eerie. “The cancer’s . . . won.”

Jonathan laid his lips against her cheek, her skin cold and clammy, as if in preparation for the morgue. How could she continue to refuse the medicine? Even though she didn’t approve of his means of acquisition, the drugs had kept her alive for five years. Five years he cherished every minute of. He’d do anything to keep her alive and the pain at bay—the intense pain that had become her constant companion these last two weeks. It killed him to witness her agony.

She licked her bottom lip, but no moisture soaked into the cracked flesh. “You’ve done . . . your best by me, Jonathan. I know . . . you meant . . . no harm to . . . anyone.” Her eyes lit as they once had. “Oh, how I’ve enjoyed loving you.”

His insides turned to oatmeal. Stubborn woman—she’d allow herself to die, all because she discovered how he’d gotten the money.

“Promise me . . . you’ll . . . tell the . . . truth. Admit what . . . you’ve done.” Her breath rattled. “What you’ve . . . all done.”

Pulling himself from the wretched memory, Jonathan breathed through the heat tightening his chest. He’d secure himself the best deal possible—immunity—or he wouldn’t decipher the papers. And without him no one could make sense of the accounting system he’d created more than five years ago. Officials hadn’t a clue.

With a deep breath he headed to the guardhouse in front of the fenced FBI building. His legs threatened to rebel, stiffening with every step. He forced himself to keep moving, one foot in front of the other.

At the guardhouse, a man behind bulletproof glass looked up. “May I help you?”

“I need to . . . see someone.”

“About what, sir?”

“I have some information regarding a crime.” He waved the file he held.

“One moment, sir, and someone will be with you.”

Jonathan stared at the cloudy sky. He could still turn back, get away scot-free. His heartbeat sped. The world blurred. No, he couldn’t lose consciousness now, nor could he go back on his promise. He owed it to Carmen. No matter what happened, he’d honor Carmen’s dying wish.

“Sir?” A young man in a suit stood beside the fenced entry, hand resting on the butt of his gun. “May I help you?”

Jonathan lifted the file. “I have some evidence regarding an ongoing crime ring.”

The agent motioned him toward a metal-detector arch. “Come through this way, sir.”

Jonathan’s steps wavered. He dragged his feet toward the archway.

A car door creaked. Jonathan glanced over his shoulder just as two men in full tactical gear stormed toward them. He had a split second to recognize one of the men’s eyes, just before gunfire erupted.

A vise gripped Jonathan’s heart, and he slumped to the dirty tile floor, the squeezing of his heart demanding his paralysis.

Too late. I’m sorry, Carmen.

Two Weeks Later—Wednesday, 3:45 p.m.
Golden Gloves Boxing of Knoxville

Ooof!

Brannon Callahan’s head jerked backward. She swiped her headgear with her glove.

“You aren’t concentrating on your form. You’re just trying to whale on me.” Steve Burroughs, her supervisor and sparring partner, bounced on the balls of his feet.

“Then why am I the one getting hit?” She threw a right jab that missed his jaw.

He brushed her off with his glove. “Don’t try to street fight me. Box.”

She clamped down on her mouthpiece and threw an uppercut with her left fist. It made contact, sending vibrations up her arm.

He wobbled backward, then got his balance. “Nice shot.”

It felt good to hit something. Hard. Sparring with Steve was the best form of venting. The energy had to be spent somehow—why not get a workout at the same time? She ducked a right cross, then followed through with a left-right combination. Both shots made full contact.

Steve spit out his mouthpiece and leaned against the ropes. “I think that’s enough for today, girl. I’m an old man, remember?”

She couldn’t fight the grin. Although only in his late forties, the chief ranger looked two decades older. With gray hair, hawk nose, and skin like tanned leather, Steve had already lived a lifetime.

She removed her mouthpiece, gloves, and headgear before sitting on the canvas. “Old? You’re still kickin’ me in the ring.”

He tossed her a towel and sat beside her. “So you wanna tell me what’s got you all hot and bothered this afternoon?”

She shrugged.

“Come on, spit it out. I know something’s gnawing at you, just like you were picking a fight with me in the ring. What’s up?”

How could she explain? “I’m not exactly keen that the district feels there’s a need for another pilot in the park.” She tightened the scrunchie keeping her hair out of her face.

“That’s a compliment—having you on staff has been so successful they want to expand.”

“But I have to train him. Did you notice his arrogance?” She ripped at the tape bound around her knuckles. “He’s nothing more than a young upstart with an ego bigger than the helicopter.” While only thirty-six, she often felt older than Steve looked.

“You’re so good, you can come across a bit intimidating at first, girl.” Steve grabbed the ropes and pulled to standing, then offered her a hand. “Give him a chance.”

She let Steve tug her up. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Even if he had maturity, I still have to train him. With all the rescues we’ve been called out on of late . . . well, I really don’t have the time.” She exited the ring. “Like those kids yesterday.” She shook her head as she waited for Steve to join her on the gym floor. “Their stupidity almost cost them their lives.”

“They were young, Brannon.”

“Please. Any amateur with half a brain should know better than to try to climb Clingmans Dome in winter.” Didn’t people realize if something happened to them they’d leave behind devastated family and friends? Loved ones who would mourn them forever? She fought against the familiar pain every time she participated in a search and rescue. All because people hadn’t taken necessary precautions.

“They didn’t know any better.”

“It takes a special kind of stupid not to have researched your climb.” Most SARs could be avoided if people planned a little more. It ripped her apart that so many parents, grandparents, siblings . . . fiancĂ©es . . . survived to deal with such grief. She’d tasted the bitterness of grief—twice—and the aftertaste still lingered.

Steve paused outside the locker rooms and shifted his sparring gear to one hand. “I agree, but most people don’t see the dangers we do every day.” He tapped her shoulder. “Hit the showers, champ. You stink.”

She laughed as she headed into the ladies’ locker room. Maybe Steve was right and the new pilot just made a lousy first impression. Maybe he’d be easy to train.

Please, God, let it be so.

Friday, 2:15 p.m.
US Marshals Office, Howard Baker Federal Courthouse
Knoxville, Tennessee

“You want me to escort a heart?” Roark struggled to keep his voice calm. He tapped the butt of his Beretta, welcoming it back to its rightful place on his hip.

Senior US Marshal Gerald Demott glared. “Look, I know you think this is a slight, but it’s important. And for your first assignment back on the job . . .”

“IA cleared me of all wrongdoing. I’m seeing the shrink and everything.” He gritted his teeth and exhaled. “I’ve been released to return to active duty.”

“This is active. It’s a field assignment, and it’s important. Here’s the case information.” Demott passed him a folder, then glanced at his watch. “You’d better hurry or you’ll miss your flight.”

Roark grabbed the file and turned to go.

“Holland.”

He looked back at his boss. “Yeah?”

Demott held out Roark’s badge. “You might want to take this with you, too.”

Roark accepted the metal emblem, then clipped it to his belt before marching out of Demott’s office. A heart. His job was to escort a human heart from North Carolina to Knoxville. Any rookie could handle that. But no, they still didn’t trust him enough to handle a real assignment.

He’d done everything they asked—took a medical leave of absence while Internal Affairs went over every painful minute
of his failed mission, saw the shrink they demanded he speak to every week since Mindy’s death, answered their relentless questions. The shrink reiterated he’d been forgiven for acting on his own.

Maybe one day he’d forgive himself. How many innocent lives would he have to save for his conscience to leave him be?

Roark slipped into the car, then headed to the airport. But to be assigned a heart transport? Not only was it wrong, it was downright insulting. After almost fifteen years as a marshal, he’d earned the benefit of the doubt from his supervisors. Especially Demott. His boss should know him better, know he’d only disregard orders if it was a matter of life and death.

But Mindy Pugsley died. They’d all died.

He pushed the nagging voice from his mind. Even Dr. Martin had advised him not to dwell on the past. On what had gone wrong. On disobeying a direct order.

If only Mindy didn’t haunt his dreams.

Roark touched the angry scar that ran along his right cheekbone to his chin. A constant reminder that he’d failed, that he’d made a mistake that took someone’s life. He’d have to live with the pain for the rest of his life.

He skidded the car into the airport’s short-term parking lot. After securing the car and gathering the case folder, Roark grabbed his coat. Snowflakes pelted downward, swirling on the bursts of wind and settling on the concrete. The purple hues of the setting sun streaked across the mountain peaks beyond the runways, making the January snow grab the last hope of light.

Yes, he’d handle this mundane assignment, then tell Demott he wanted back on real active duty. Making a difference would be the best thing for him. Would make him feel whole again.