BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS by XAN HOOD

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card TourIf 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:

Sweat, Blood, and Tears: What God Uses to Make a Man

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Xan Hood is an author and speaker ministering to young men between the ages of 18 and 25. He is the co-founder and co-director of Training Ground in Colorado Springs where he disciples young men through their program in work, wilderness, and worship (www.trainingground.com). He has also written for New Man magazine and Discipleship Journal. Xan began working with young men in Tennessee and in youth groups in Nashville and Knoxville. He and his wife live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with their first child.


Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (July 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434766810
ISBN-13: 978-1434766816

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


GEAR

You would be amused to see me, broad sombrero hat, fringe and beaded buckskin shirt, horse hide chaparajos or riding trousers, and cowhide boots, with braided bridle and silver spurs.

Theodore Roosevelt


I had always heard that Theodore Roosevelt was a tough, hardy “man’s man” sort of guy: a hunter, outdoorsman, activist, soldier, explorer, naturalist, and “rough rider.” But it wasn’t always so. Much like me, he was raised a refined, tame city boy, a member of a wealthy, powerful family with political influence. He was a sickly, asthmatic youngster who at the age of twenty-three still appeared boyish and underdeveloped. Both the press and his fellow New York state

assemblymen made light of his high-pitched voice and “dandified” clothing, calling him names like “Jane-Dandy” and “Punkin-Lily.”2 He was what we now refer to as a “pretty boy.”


It seems Theodore knew he needed to escape the confines of the city, to be tested and initiated beyond his Jane-Dandy world. There was only one direction to go: west.


“At age twenty-five, on his "first trip to the Dakota badlands in 1883, Roosevelt purchased a ranch, bought a herd of cattle, hired ranch hands, and, spending considerable time there, began to develop his Western image.”4 It is said he took rides “of seventy miles or more in a day, hunting hikes of fourteen to sixteen hours, stretches in the saddle in roundups of as long as forty hours,” pushing himself physically and mentally.5


Within two weeks of moving to Colorado, I drove up alone to the Orvis store in Denver to purchase a complete set of official Orvis gear: waders, boots, vest, and a fly rod. I had come to the West to bond with earth, wind, and rivers that I could fly-fish—and to find God. The fishing needed to be done in official Orvis gear—only the best.


You see, coming from a town of status and wealth, the type of gear you chose was very important. It needed to function, but it also needed to make you look good so you could feel good while looking good.


In my eyes Orvis was the status symbol of real and serious fly fishermen, the hallmark of class. I stocked up on floatant, little boxes, nippers, and line—all Orvis products and logos, of course. I paid with a new credit card and walked out.


While Theodore would become a great, brave man, his first attempts out West were about as comical as my own. It is written that he “began to construct a new physical image around appropriately virile Western decorations and settings.” These photographs show him posing “in a fringed buckskin outfit, complete with hunting cap, moccasins, cartridge belt, silver dagger, and rifle.”6 In a letter to his sister back East, he bragged, “I now look like a regular cowboy dandy, with all my equipments finished in the most expensive style.”


Though he looks like a young man in a Halloween costume, something much deeper than child’s play was occurring. A rich city boy was exploring another side of himself. The costumes, however foolish they appeared at the time, were a part of this becoming and would, in time, become him.


I was also searching for a new image, one more closely connected with nature. In his book Iron John, Robert Bly writes, “Some say that the man’s task in the first half of his life is to become bonded to matter: to learn a craft, become friends with wood, earth, wind, or fire.”8 I had yet to experience that. Ralph Lauren Polo shirts and a posh lifestyle were simply not enough. And while it’s likely that neither of us could have verbalized it at the time, Theodore and I were learning that a man had to find something away from all of it. I think his fringed buckskin and my Orvis gear were safe compromises between the worlds we were straddling.


A week after I bought my Orvis gear, I drove about an hour away to the South Platte River. An Internet search revealed that I could quickly access it from the road. On my way I stopped at a little fly shop in Woodland Park, Colorado. A retired-looking man had blessed my obvious naïveté but left the teaching to a sheet of paper, diagrammed for a nymph-dropper rig. He made a few fly suggestions and sent me on my way with the paper and a pat on the back. It was time to become Brad Pitt: Orvis-endorsed, perched on a rock, waiting for a fish.


I arrived on the water’s edge at about 2 p.m. Like a warrior dressing for battle, I donned my Orvis gear and set to work on the nymph-dropper rig. About an hour later, after clamping on weights, indicator, and tying two flies onto the razor-thin line, it looked like I’d tied my grandmother’s collection of jewelry to a string. I stood in the middle of the river, flung the line out, and whipped it back and forth, feeling good and enjoying the four count rhythm.


Though I filled the hours with flipping and whipping, I could not seem to hook a fish. Were they in the rapids? The calm water? Should I cast upstream or downstream? The paper didn’t say. It didn’t help that every few minutes I would get caught on a branch, or grass or algae would get on the flies, tangling them with knots. It was getting dark, and I was getting lonely and frustrated at Orvis, God, and myself.



But there came a last minute hope: I remembered Dan Allender telling a story at a leadership conference about going fly-fishing with his son. As an unsuccessful day of fishing came to a close, he told his son they needed to call it a day. But his son kept fishing, and then, on the fifth and final cast, as all hope was fading like the sun—BAM!—a massive trout on his fly rod. It was a miracle. Dan concluded his speech with this lesson: “God is the God of the fifth cast … He comes through in the end.”


And so I began my count. Okay, Lord, I prayed. This is for You. Help me fish. Catch me a trout. One cast … nothing. Second cast … nothing. Third cast … nothing. Cast again … nothing. God of the fifth cast … not for me. Eleventh? Nope. I kept going. God of the seventeenth cast … God of the twenty-second cast …


Before long, darkness covered me, and I could no longer see my orange indicator. It was over. There would be no fish that day.


I stood all alone in the middle of the river, holding my empty net. There wasn’t a soul in sight—not a fish, not even God. It was haunting. I demanded an explanation. Where are the fish? Where are You? Just one, God. All I wanted was one. One simple fish would have made this day worth it.


Would God not give a man dressed in Orvis a fish if he asked?

FATAL CONVICTIONS BY RANDY SINGER


Ok, Below is the book discription: Did you guess right? I had gone to a book club meeting to meet Randy Singer and hear him speak. He's a man of conviction and writes from the heart. I've enjoyed reading several books by this author already! I'm looking forward to reading these books.

FATAL CONVICTIONS
By Randy Singer
400 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (July 19, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-1414333205


BOOK DESCRIPTION: Alexander Madison is part lawyer, part pastor, and part con artist. When a Muslim imam is accused of instigating honor killings, Alex must decide whether to take the case that every other lawyer in town is running away from. He doesn’t realize until it’s too late that defending the imam may cost him the one thing in life he cares about most. Fatal Convictions is the story of a lawyer willing to risk it all and the women who must choose between faith and love.

I'd LOVE to read this. I also wanted you to get a glimpse into how Randy Singer gets his ideas for the books he writes. Below is a clip of Randy describing how he came up with the idea for JUSTICE GAME. Looks like another book I'd like to read by this author.

JUSTICE GAME
By Randy Singer
380 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (June 15, 2009)
ISBN-13: 978-1414316345


BOOK DESCRIPTION: Bursting into a television station, the gun-toting target of an investigative report kills a co-anchor. When the gun manufacturer is sued, defense attorney Kelly Starling and prosecutor Jason Noble battle each other in court---but the real conflict lies with unseen forces bent on destroying them both. (The verdict was rendered by an actual reader poll!) 400 pages, softcover from Tyndale.



RANDY SINGER'S WEB PAGE http://www.randysinger.net

BOOK COVER OF THE WEEK - FATAL CONVICTIONS - RANDY SINGER

Hi Everyone;


I’m just curious about book covers? They say don’t judge a book by its cover but we do. Some covers SCREAM – PICK ME UP! Of course we do because we can’t wait to find out what’s inside. A book cover can make or break a book!

Yesterday when I was at work putting books on the shelf this book cover caught my eye. I picked this book up for a couple of reasons.

1. I really like Randy Singer and the books he writes.

2. I had to know what this book was all about. What exactly was happening on the book cover?

3. I’m always in search for books to put on the book club list for my ladies to vote on.

So, I’m CURIOUS!! Does this book SCREAM to you – Pick me Up!! Do you care what’s inside from the cover? What do you think this book is about? I’ll give you a hint Randy Singer is a lawyer by trade. I’m just wondering what this book cover says to you about the story inside? Does it make you want to pick it up? Interested? I WAS!! Just want to hear from you.

I’d like to have this as a weekly feature and I was just wondering if you do too?

I’ll post the book blurb tomorrow. You can see if you guess right.

Blessings
Until tomorrow.

Nora :D
The Book Club Network
http://www.bookfun.org/

NIGHTSHADE by RONIE KENDIG - REVIEWED

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Nightshade
Barbour Books (July 1, 2010)
by

Ronie Kendig

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ronie has been married since 1990 to a man who can easily be defined in classic terms as a hero. She has four beautiful children. Her eldest daughter is 16 this year, her second daughter will be 13, and her twin boys are 10. After having four children, she finally finished her degree in December 2006. She now has a B.S. in Psychology through Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Getting her degree is a huge triumph for both her and her family--they survived!!

This degree has also given her a fabulous perspective on her characters and how to not only make them deeper, stronger, but to make them realistic and know how they'll respond to each situation. Her debut novel, Dead Reckoning released March 2010 from Abingdon Press. And her Discarded Heroes series begins in July from Barbour with the first book entitled Nightshade.

ABOUT THE BOOK

After a tour of duty in a war-torn country, embattled former Navy SEAL Max Jacobs finds himself discarded and alienated from those he loves as he

struggles with war-related PTSD. His wife, Sydney, files a restraining order against him and a petition for divorce. Max is devastated.

Then a mysterious a man appears. He says he's organizing a group that recycles veterans like Max. It's a deep-six group known as Nightshade. With

the chance to find purpose in life once again, Max is unable to resist the call of duty and signs on.

The team handles everything with precision and lethal skill...until they're called upon to rescue a missionary family from a rebel-infested jungle and avoid a reporter hunting their identities.

Will Max yield his anger and pride to a force greater than him...love?
If you would like to read the first chapter of Nightshade, go HERE.

Watch the trailer:





NIGHTSHADE

By Ronie Kendig
Published by Barbour
ISBN#978-1-60260-777-4
367 Pages

BACK COVER: Soldiers all across the globe are returning home to their families after brutal tours of duty. They are discharged from the service . . .and on their own. Meet Max Jacobs, one of these discarded heroes, as he faces a wall of failure—in his career, his friendships and his marriage. Failing again—this time to end his life—he is offered a thread of hope. Are covert government operations the answer for him, or will they only bring more danger and dissension upon his broken family?

REVIEW: Nightshade is an elite commando unit who perform black op missions. Each man was handpicked for their experience. I’m so thankful for the review copy of this novel. This story reminded me of the “A–team”, with its larger-than-life characters, who individually bring something special and unique to the group. They aren’t always a happy family, but 'when the chips are down', they get along to accomplish the mission.


Max, “Frogman”, a former U.S. Navy Seal, Colton, “Cowboy”, former U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations, Griffin, “Legend”, former U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations, Marshall, “The Kid”, a former U.S. Army Ranger, Oscar, “Fix”, former U.S. Air Force Pararescue, and General Olin, “The Old Man”, Army Chief, all of these men are in this special undercover unit.

The General confronts these men,” You spent time in Afghanistan…You’ve all been trained to kill; then you come back, and what do you do with those skills, but go out of your mind...we’re here to establish a team that can penetrate hostile situations without any entanglements, without any blame on the good ol’ US-of-A…You are the best, a natural…that’s why you are here."

I loved the interplay between the men in this military elite commandos unit. I learned about the real struggle war veterans have with postwar disorders. These former military men could relate to each other's nightmares, no explanation needed. I also enjoyed the believable spiritual struggle of Max and Sydney. Ronie doesn’t sugar coat anything and I liked that.

I found myself checking the back of the book to read Ronie’s bio. Was this author really a woman? If so, how could she write about all these macho men and war stuff? This author does an amazing job of creating believable, flawed and broken characters, who function at their best together in this commando unit doing extraordinary life saving missions. I was astounded that a woman could write such a believable action packed adventure with these macho men—it was done so smoothly. Ronie is an "army brat" and is married to an Army Veteran, it says on the back of the book. Ok, this explains a lot. This is the first book in the “Discarded Hero’s” series. The main focus of this book is on Max and his news reporter wife, Sydney. My guess is that each book will highlight one or two of these men and their personal lives, and how they deal with the missions. Digitalis is the next book to be released. I can’t wait to read where their missions take them next. Just like the “A” team, I’m sure they’ll be facing incredible circumstances in each book. I can’t wait to join them in their next adventure.

Nora St. Laurent
The Book Club Network http://www.bookfun.org/
Finding Hope Through Fiction http://www.psalm516.blogspot.com/

STARS IN THE NIGHT by CARA PUTMAN - GIVE AWAY OPPORTUNITY

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Stars In The Night
Summerside Press (July 1, 2010)

by
Cara Putman

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



A Word From Cara:

I graduated from high school at sixteen, college at 20, and completed my law degree when I was 27.

My writing journey started in 2005 when I decided to write my first novel. Now I have eleven books published with more on the way.

People say I've accomplished a lot and that I must have life by the proverbial tail. Hardly! I grew up as a home schooled kid when home schoolers were misunderstood and oddities.

I struggle with balancing my writing and law career, plus being a good mom and wife.

I often fear people won't like my books.I've walked through the deep pain of miscarriage.Really, I'm just like you – I don't have it all together and have gone through tough times. But in His strength, I've discovered a strength I never knew I had. A strength I want you to discover, too.
In the end I'm just an ordinary mom who has seen God do some wonderful things as I've been obedient to step into the calling He's led me into.
Stars in the Night Background

Stars in the Night was an idea that had begun to percolate in my mind. I’d written two World War II series and was actively looking for my next setting. My husband, a huge World War II history buff, and I were kicking ideas around, and I’d decided Hollywood was probably the next place for me. I’d gone to the library and gotten a stack of research books when I got the call. An editor I knew but had never worked with wanted to know if I might be interested in a new line they were starting. As we talked, I got so excited. And then she emailed me their guidelines, which listed that Hollywood was a location they were interested in setting books.

Only God could have known ahead of time. But because I followed His prompting I was ready to run with an idea. Stars in the Night is the result.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Hollywood 1942. When attorney Audra Schaeffer's sister disappears, Audra flies to Hollywood to find her.


Any day Audra might have been flattered by the friendly overtures of Robert Garfield, a real-life movie star. But on the flight from Indianapolis to Hollywood, Audra can think of little else than finding her missing sister. When Audra arrives in the city of glitz and glamour, and stars, and learns her rising starlet sister has been murdered, all thoughts of romance fly away.

Determined to bring the killer to justice, Audra takes a job with the second Hollywood Victory Caravan.

Together with Robert Garfield and other stars, she crisscrosses the southern United States in a campaign to sell war bonds. When two other women are found dead on the train, Audra knows the deaths are tied to that of her sister.

Could the killer be the man with whom she's falling in love?

If you'd like to read an excerpt of Chapter 1 of Stars In The Night, go HERE.

Contest: Lots of opportunities to win and great prizes, and the grand prize contains some of Cara's favorite classic movies as well as all of her WWII novels: Put Curser over Launch Contest-- CLICK mouse - it will take you to Cara's blog--Enter there! Launch Contest!

YOU MUST GO TO THIS BLOG TO ENTER THE CONTEST!! DO NOT LEAVE COMMENTS HERE!!

GOD KNOWS MY NAME by BETH REDMAN - FIRST CHAPTER

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:

David C. Cook (July 1, 2010)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Beth Redman is an evangelist, songwriter, singer, and author of several books, including Soul Sister and Beautiful. She is also the co-author, along with her husband Matt, of the book Blessed Be Your Name. Recently, Beth and Matt received the Dove Award for the Worship Song of the Year for “Blessed Be Your Name,” which they wrote together. Their combined song-writing skills also produced the popular worship songs “Let My Words Be Few,” “Facedown,” and “You Never Let Go.” The Redmans and their five children live in Atlanta where they serve as part of a team leading Passion City Church with pastors Louie and Shelley Giglio.




Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (July 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781403650
ISBN-13: 978-0781403658

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Our parents are often broken people wearing big learner’s plates, like drivers in training, when we arrive in their world. We shouldn’t judge them harshly, but sometimes the parents we need to love us the most can hurt us and let us down.


As a mum, I take it very personally and get a little feisty when my daughter, Maisey-Ella, is bullied or mistreated. I consider it outrageous when I know someone has hurt her, and I find it hard not to intervene.

My husband has told me on many occasions, “You can’t give little girls evil looks, Beth!” My daughter is, quite simply, utterly gorgeous inside and out. Of course she is not perfect, but the problem all of us face is that the world is not going to like us, love us, or be on our side all of the time. Some days we will be misunderstood, blamed, and rejected. But in our home, when Maisey-Ella returns from a miserable day at school, two pairs of loving arms wait for her. Arms that without question are available to wipe away any tear, and hearts of love that speak gentle words of acceptance, reassurance, and a promise that no matter what … we love you, beautiful girl, and we are for you.


Every single human being needs the comfort and reassurance that on the days the tears fall—even if the “world” rejects us—the people who really know us (warts and all) will be there for us. Those people are our parents, our family. Sometimes, though, our family isn’t there.


However, God is an ever-present, all-loving, all-forgiving, amazing Father in heaven. He can override imperfect parenting, soothe any broken spirit, and free any bound-up heart.


I want to tell you my story.


I want to share an amazing story of restoration, a story of the hope that we all have and the truth that I pray will fill you with joy, freedom, and power! I’m not pointing the finger at anyone or trying to make anyone look bad. I simply want to shout out that God heals, restores, has plans for you, and utterly adores you! If we can truly breathe in that truth, we become free to live, free to give, and free to love and accept both others and ourselves. Then, as you breathe that truth out into a hurting and broken world that desperately needs this message of God the Father’s heart for us, God is glorified, and lives are changed and transformed by Him.


My mum was a true saint when I was growing up, and my closest friend. She brought me to church and taught me about God. In public my dad seemed the perfect father, but in private he struggled with anger … and we suffered terrible violence. In my very late teens my parents separated. I don’t think we should place our parents’ mistakes or faults under the microscope and blame them for all our problems and baggage. God teaches us to forgive, and He gives us the grace to do so. He enables us to rise above the harshest of circumstances and to begin again. He rewrites generations of brokenness to give us an incredible hope and future with Jesus.


But I want to tell this story because I believe in a God who restores, and through His power I have seen reconciliation and healing occur in the most broken of families. I know it is possible, and I have always prayed for that with my own father. However, it takes more than just a miracle for that to happen—it also requires the openness and humility of all involved. Since my parents divorced, my dad and I have had sporadic contact. Throughout that time I found it impossible and even destructive to have a normal father-daughter relationship, so I have walked carefully and lived my adult life without him.



During my pregnancy with our third child, I began to have some worrying symptoms, and after the baby’s birth, doctors began to test me for suspected liver disease. The specialist I was seeing told me that, before my liver biopsy, he needed to know as much about my medical background as possible. He asked me to contact all my living relatives and find out if anyone in the family had ever had liver problems. I contacted each family member and very nervously sent an email to my dad. He wrote back immediately, and still to this day I cannot believe his parting words.


He wrote that, yes, there was liver disease in the family, and also cancer, and he hoped I had both.


“Beth,” he wrote, “you deserve to suffer, because suffering would make someone as egotistical and vile as you a better person.”


Wow.


He also threw in some awful comments about Matt and our children that need not be repeated. The email ended with him telling me I was cut out of his will and he had instructed his solicitor never to disclose his death or where he would be buried. While I was waiting for news of my liver condition, my earthly father had just cursed me and condemned my life.


God made us to love and to be loved. My earthly dad knew me, rejected me, and also detested me. Could anything be more painful?


I could hardly breathe. I phoned Matt and read him the email. I called my mum and my best friend, Anna. Inside I was crying out, Someone tell me I am loved! Please take away the pain of this horrific rejection—the words had gone so deep it felt as though my inmost parts were bleeding. I was desperate for a deeper love, validation, and acceptance. No human words could soothe me.


I put down the phone and gasped for air.


I cried out to my God … my true, amazing Father, my heavenly, forever Father, the One who knows all my failures and shortcomings and yet has never ever rejected me. He wrote my name on the palms of His hands and He stretched out His arms, and as He was viciously nailed to a cross, He separated me from my sin forever and loved me enough to die unjustly. He walked a journey of horrific agony—pleading, being taunted—and He carried my cross, my death, my past, and my sin. His love was enough as He cried out, “It is finished!” So now death and pain, brokenness and rejection, where are your sting? Everything I ever need in life is now accessible and available to me through His death.


Our God is a God who saves and who accepts and who can heal us completely. His love outweighed the words of a wounded man whose own life was so broken that he knew only how to crush others. I faced up to the pain of the situation, but at the same time knew a beautiful and powerful revelation that spoke louder than all of those other words: Though my father may forsake me, my God will never reject me. Though my earthly dad may try to erase me from his life, I shall never be forgotten. In that moment I knew a deep and permanent truth covering over the whole of my life: that God knows my name.


My Father in heaven adores me, has plans to prosper me and supernatural arms to hold me. He is with me by His Spirit every time a situation threatens to overwhelm and whenever I want to hide away and give in to the insecure, evil thoughts that come knocking. My God would never reject or forget me. He did not forget me in my time of need. From heaven He called out to me reminding me that I am His! Because He made me, He knows me, and He loves me! I am His forever. God spoke to me powerfully from His Word:


Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and

have no compassion on the child she has borne?

Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See,

I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.

(Isa. 49:15–16)


You are known by name by the Living God, the loving heavenly Father. He made you, He redeemed you, He hears you, and never ever will He forget you. Hallelujah!


In this book I want to share with you some of the powerful ways that God helped me overrule such a massive rejection with His glorious eternal truth. I hope this can help you in your own life and enable you to help others.


Isaiah 43:1–4 says this:


But now, this is what the LORD says—

he who created you, O Jacob,

he who formed you, O Israel:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have summoned you by name; you are mine.


When you pass through the waters,

I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,

they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,

you will not be burned;

the flames will not set you ablaze.


For I am the LORD, your God,

the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.…


Since you are precious and honored in my sight,

and because I love you.”


In this passage, there are several truths for us to grasp, which I want to break down and look at one by one in this chapter.


God Knows Your Name


“I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” (Isa. 43:1)


A name is given and considered. A name imparts meaning, value, identity, and significance. Your name was chosen specifically, and especially, for you. A name gives both humanity and dignity to a person. The Enemy would have you live a nameless existence—feeling anonymous, illegitimate, unknown, unimportant, inglorious, and unfit to be named. Nineteenth-century London was a time of such material, emotional, and spiritual poverty that “children were so utterly uncared for that some were even without names, and were known to each other by nicknames.”


In direct contrast, God says that He has a name for us. Where we feel worthless and insignificant He bestows worth and significance upon us when He calls us by name and chooses us for His glory.


Anyone expecting a child has flipped through baby-name books, looking at the meanings and origins of names and thinking about how they sound. I’ve found names I loved and then been dismayed to find out they meant something like harlot, wench, or crooked nose!


Someone recently told me of a child who had been named Jezebel Harlot! That’s a pretty negative connotation to speak over a child every time she is called. Ideally, a name needs to suit the person carrying it. When my husband suggested that we name our third child “Rocco Redman,” I thought he had gone a bit mad! Normally my husband’s track record in making decisions is spot on. There really is no point arguing with Mr. Matthew Redman because over the years I have found he is nearly always right. However, on this occasion, I wasn’t so sure.


I wanted our third child to be called Benjamin, but Matt got the older children on board—and in the end I came to peace with the fact that if he was anything like his dad and his brother and sister, he would easily live up to something as strong and bold as Rocco! The name means “rest,” and so far he has turned out to be the most relaxed, peaceful, deep-sleeping, and gentle-spirited boy… and he has the confidence and joy required to be Rocco Redman. In new environments, his name still causes a little reaction, but it is so perfect for him, and I love that every time I write or call him by his full name, Rocco Benjamin Courage, I am affirming and speaking rest, sonship, bravery, and boldness over him.


In the same way, your Father God named you as precious, chosen, and beloved. You may not be named Rocco, but when God calls you, He speaks over you His truth, freedom, and life. Your part is to make a good choice—to continually believe and live under those things He named you and never to seek to hide behind another name. Many of us each day live under other labels that the Enemy has given us from past or present experiences—unwanted, failure, doubter, ugly, unlovely, needy, drama queen, mistake, disgrace, shamed, forgotten, and many more lies.


Those thoughts and feelings cannot possibly originate from God—for He is the giver of good and perfect gifts, and the God of all comfort. Those negative impressions of yourself and the words my own dad wrote in his email to me originate from the Enemy—who we know to be a dirty liar.


Perhaps you think your problems and insecurities are too great to overcome. By the kindness and mercy of God in my own life, I can assure you that this is not the case. I was abused physically, put down verbally, and rejected. I suffered humiliation many times and sadly began to act out how I felt about myself. In public I felt wretchedly insecure. I couldn’t go out with friends without feeling self-conscious and unimportant. I hated myself inside and out.


Then Jesus called my name. And everything changed. I hardly recognize the person I was back then. Our names may conjure up memories, but not always truth. I know that ultimately I am defined not by what others think of me when they hear my name, or what my earthly father says about me. Instead, the authority and compassion of the God who called my name define me. He loves, He shapes, He convicts, and He lavishes us with affirmation.


It’s time we heard His voice the loudest.


God Made Me


This is what the LORD says—

He who created you, O Jacob,

He who formed you, O Israel. (Isa. 43:1)



Part of understanding the depths of God’s knowledge of us lies in grasping the importance of the fact that He made us.


Psalm 139:13–14 puts it beautifully:


For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.


I praise you because I am fearfully and

wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.


The phrase inmost being is literally translated “kidneys.” In Hebrew idiom this meant the innermost center of the emotions and the moral sensitivity of a person’s heart.2 Here we see that God does not just know us as a casual acquaintance or simply acknowledge our existence, marvelous though that would be for the God of heaven to do such a thing. Rather, He knows who we are right down to the final detail. God knows how you work, how you think, what makes you happy, what makes you sad. He knows the last time you cried, and what you cried about. He knows what you would like for your birthday, and He actually cares about it too. The amazing thing is you don’t actually have to tell Him all of this. He just knows, because He made you, He sees you, He hears you, and He loves you. He knows you better than you know yourself.


He knows what you need before a word is even spoken from your mouth or articulated in your heart.


God Speaks Worth Over Me


“Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you.” (Isa. 43:4)


The first thing God said when He looked at His creation was, “It is good.” The very fact that God made you means you are wonderful!


The psalmist declares: “Your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Ps. 139:14). Yet God didn’t just make you, then say, “What a great job,” and leave you on a shelf. No, He pursues a relationship

with you, He gives His life for you, that He may know you daily, deeply, and eternally.


Just before we were married, Matt received an invitation from Buckingham Palace. When Matt read the guest list he was a little intimidated. Top sports personalities, journalists, and film stars— and my fiancé! When he eventually met the Queen, along with Prince Charles, Matt performed a fumbled bow and stood back in shock. That was the Queen!


He couldn’t believe he had been chosen to hold out his hand and meet her majesty face-to-face. Somehow Matt had been deemed worthy of a moment with the Queen and her son, and he felt truly humbled. What a privilege!


Yet the truth is that there is a higher honor—a more amazing invitation that lies open for all of us. God in heaven; the Lord of all creation; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the God of your pastor and your friends who are missionaries abroad; the God of Corrie ten Boom and Martin Luther; the Author of life; the Beginning and the End—He extends the hand of friendship to you! Just as Matt was invited to stand alongside celebrities and dignitaries before the Queen at Buckingham Palace, so too are we invited to stand before the God of heaven and earth as an equal alongside great heroes of the faith … and not just to meet Him but to know Him! He speaks His love and your worth loudly over you today.


Listen closely: Isaiah 61:3 says that He bestows on us “a crown of beauty instead of ashes,” and Psalm 103:4 says that God “redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.”


Anyone wearing a crown holds her head up high. She does not have an identity problem. She has been given honor and dignity.


God speaks worth over you. He declares His love for you. You are precious in His sight. Just like when I speak rest, sonship, and courage over my child, every time God calls your name He speaks worth and

value over you. He knows you intimately because He made you, and He loves you completely.


God Hears Me


“I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Isa. 43:3)


It is a fundamental human need to be heard and understood. In fact, if we feel that we are not heard, we feel a vast sense of loneliness and emptiness. If we are not heard, we do not feel understood, and if

we do not feel understood, we will not feel known. The whole point about God knowing our names, and about Him making us, is that He knows us. When we discover that we are known and understood by a friend, it can be profoundly moving. Sometimes a really good friend may understand us better than we understand ourselves.


Tom Marshall, in his book Right Relationships, says that no one can survive for long unless “we feel that somebody understands us, somebody knows what we are feeling and somebody appreciates our real desires and intentions.”3 And yet, however powerful being known and understood by a friend or your partner can be, no one can know you better or understand you more than God Himself.


Psalm 139:1–4 puts it magnificently:


O LORD, you have searched me

and you know me.


You know when I sit and when I rise;

you perceive my thoughts from afar.


You discern my going out and my lying down;

you are familiar with all my ways.


Before a word is on my tongue

you know it completely, O LORD.



Some people might find this depth of understanding quite frightening—and indeed there is always a risk attached to loving and being loved, knowing and being known. God knows us completely and utterly. Our thoughts, feelings, and emotions are an open book to God. He sees what we do, and He hears what we say even before we say it, or even when we’re not talking to Him! He knows what you are doing and why you are doing it. More importantly, He knows your dreams, your ambitions, and your longings. But how can we know for ourselves that God really knows us in our inmost being, completely and utterly?


We know that we are known because He hears us.


When we know that God hears us, it transforms us from being fearful, doubting God’s love, mercy, and goodness, into people who can be certain of His love for us. When God spoke to me through that song on my iPod, through the beautiful words of Isaiah 49, I knew that He had heard my cry—and He stepped in very powerfully at that moment, speaking His Word of life over me.


God was faithful to me through His real, tangible words of truth. I had a choice. I knew I did not have to believe my earthly father’s words. My heavenly Father had seen my pain and had answered me in a deeply personal way from His Word.


God Has Not Forgotten Me


“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.” (Isa. 43:2)


Sometimes we can know the truth of God in our minds, but not let it sink into our hearts. Or perhaps we have experienced a time of spiritual dryness, a time of suffering, or a time of God’s silence. During these times, it can feel like God has forgotten us. This can be frightening and even cause us to question the truth and reality of God.


A friend recently told me that her current situation makes her feel as though she was five years old again and her father has forgotten to pick her up from school. That is a very real and deeply unsettling feeling, and it can shake our faith and our trust in God to the core. My situation is telling me You are not here and You are not coming. Where are You, God? Yet the true extent of God’s care and concern for us is breathtaking:


“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6–7)


God is not like your earthly father. Difficult circumstances do not mean He has failed or abandoned you. He has not left you at the school gate. God does not forget the child He made. He has not put you to one side while He is busy with other people. He is not bored with you, and He did not leave you midproject. He adores you. In fact, He promises (and God is incapable of breaking a promise) in

Joshua 1:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” He continually watches over you. “He [takes] great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zeph. 3:17).


God is continually at pains to remind us not to be afraid, because He is with us. If He is with us, how can He forget us?


If you feel forgotten, I want to encourage you to believe the Word of God when He says, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).


Call out to the Lord, and He will answer you. Wait patiently for the Lord, for He will turn to you and hear your cry. God loves you, He hears you, He speaks to you, and He will rescue you. Amen!


©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. God Knows My Name by Beth Redman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

RANSOMED DREAMS BY SALLY JOHN - FIRST CHAPTER

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:

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (June 7, 2010)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


When the going gets tough—or weird or wonderful—the daydreamer gets going on a new story. Sally John has been tweaking life's moments into fiction since she read her first Trixie Belden mystery as a child.

Now an author of more than fifteen novels, Sally writes stories that reflect contemporary life. Her passion is to create a family, turn their world inside out, and then portray how their relationships change with each other and with God. Her goal is to offer hope to readers in their own relational and faith journeys.

Sally grew up in Moline, Illinois, graduated from Illinois State University, married Tim in 1973, and taught in middle schools. She is a mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother. A three-time finalist for the Christy Award, she also teaches writing workshops. Her books include the Safe Harbor series (coauthored with Gary Smalley), The Other Way Home series, The Beach House series, and In a Heartbeat series. Many of her stories are set in her favorite places of San Diego, Chicago, and small-town Illinois.

She and her husband currently live in southern California.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (June 7, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414327854
ISBN-13: 978-1414327853

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Topala, Mexico

Eighteen months later

Like everything about the small village tucked into the foothills of the Sierra Madres in central Mexico, sunrise was a leisurely event.

Sheridan waited for it, tea mug in hand, shawl over her cotton nightgown, bare feet chilled against the tile floor of the second-story balcony. Alone, she listened in the dark to the squawk of roosters and clung to their promise that the world would once again know light.

“Oh, good grief,” she murmured to herself with a groan. “That is so maudlin. Truly and hopelessly maudlin. You might try something more chipper. Something like . . . Something like . . .” Her foggy brain offered nothing.

She scrunched her nose in defeat. The morning had shuffled in on the heels of a sleepless night. Chipper was not going to happen, no matter how hard she tried to talk herself into it.

If she could turn the calendar back eighteen months, she would not be talking to herself. No. Eliot would be right next to her, responding, most likely pointing out a dozen chipper thoughts in that funny way of his.

Nostalgia and regret hit her, a powerful one-two punch that still took her breath away. She clenched her teeth, waiting for it to pass, mentally spewing forth a verbal attack at the counselor who had promised her that time healed all wounds, that month by month they would see improvement.

What drivel that was! Eighteen months—or to be more precise, seventeen months, three weeks, and two days; but who was counting? All that time had passed and only one thing was healed: Eliot’s gunshot wound. His other wounds, the invisible ones, still oozed like toxins from a waste dump site. He was not the same man she had married.

Sheridan took a deep breath and let the bitter argument go. Nostalgia and regret settled back down into whatever corner of her heart they’d found to hide out in. Their impact, though, lingered.

Would time ever erase her longing for the Eliot she had married? The animated one, the one others adored, the one who was engaged in every detail of life, whether simple or complex, with every person who crossed his path. The one from B.C.E., Before the Caracas Episode. Now, in their A.C.E. days, he might as well be a deaf-mute for all the interest he showed in the world around him.

Sleep-deprived, she totally blamed him. She didn’t mean to. It wasn’t like he had much of a choice. The bullet that shattered his nerves shattered their life. Everything about it was over. Health, career, home, friends. All gone. Kaput. Some days she barely recognized herself and Eliot. Where were the Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery she once knew? These routines, hometown, health, acquaintances, and even personalities seemed lifted from the pages of some stranger’s biography.

“Oh, honestly. Get over it already, Sher.” She forced a swallow of tea and focused on the scene before her.

A lone sunbeam pierced between two mountain peaks and sliced into the distant mists. Another followed. And another and another until finally pure light broke free. Valleys and canyons burst into sight. Loud birdsong erupted. Then, as if God had uncurled His fist, long fingers of sunlight shot forth and touched the wrought-iron railing where she stood.

It was achingly gorgeous.

Sheridan flicked at a tear seeping from the corner of her eye. “You should have stayed in bed, you foolish, stubborn woman.”

Sunrises were the worst because they represented the best of what had been.

Most days she could ignore that thought. Evidently not today. She and Eliot were morning people. Had been morning people. Their daily ritual of tea and conversation at an east-facing view, awaiting dawn, was seldom missed. With crazy-full schedules, they needed such a time to relate on the deepest levels. Some days their hearts positively danced and sang in union. Naturally, through the years the tune changed now and then, the tempo sped up and slowed down, but the music never stopped. It never stopped. They always talked. They always connected.

Until that day in Caracas.

Now she watched sunrises by herself.

“You really should’ve stayed in bed.”

But it was so beautiful. And it went on and on like a slow waltz. At the bottom of her street now, purple haze still shrouded the town square. The sky brightened in slow motion above it, the fiery ball itself still hiding behind a peak.

Something moved in the semidarkness below. A person. Early risers were not uncommon, but she was startled. Something felt off about this one.

Or was that just her hypervigilance? Compliments of the incident in Caracas, it kicked into gear at times without warning, filling her with anxiety and suspicion.

Now she could see that it was a man. He passed the bandstand, his strides too deliberate for a villager, too American. He headed straight for the steep incline that led up to her house. In city terms, the distance was perhaps a block. In Topala terms, it was simply up beyond the sculptor’s shop.

The sun overtook the peaks and the man came into view.

“No way.” Her heartbeat slowed, but not quite to normal.

Even with his face concealed by a ball cap, his body clothed in a generic khaki jacket and blue jeans, a city block separating them, she recognized him. She recognized him simply because the air vibrated with him.

Luke Traynor owned whatever space he occupied.

Sheridan set the mug on the table beside her, tightened the shawl around her shoulders, and massaged her left arm. She felt no surprise at his unannounced arrival nor at the early hour. It was as if she had always expected him to show up sooner or later.

But as he climbed the narrow street, an uneasiness rose within her. Her muscles tensed. Why was he here? He had promised not to come. Sixteen months ago he promised. Not that she was keeping track. . . .

The sound of a soft whistle drew her attention back toward the square. Javier, the young sculptor, stood on the porch steps outside his shop. Behind him, the handicraft shop owner emerged from his door.

Javier raised his chin in question.

Sheridan gave a half nod. They needn’t be concerned. The stranger was, so to speak, a known quantity. Not that she felt the least bit glad to see Luke. Eliot would most likely be severely distressed at his arrival.

Wishing Luke were an apparition did not make it so. He continued his steady pace, arms swinging gently, head down as if he studied the cobblestones, making his way to her house.

Since that day in Caracas—the day her husband died in every sense except physically, the day this man saved her life—Sheridan had understood intuitively that Luke would always be a part of her life. And there he was, out of the blue, ascending her street in the middle of nowhere on a spring day as if he visited all the time.

She suddenly remembered the date. “Good grief.”

It was Annunciation Day, a day of remembrance, of celebration for when the angel Gabriel visited Mary and announced her future. How apropos. Luke appeared without warning. He would not have come unless he had something to tell her, some message that would irreversibly change her future.

Was this his joke or God’s?

Luke neared and looked up, straight at her.

She saw not the man whose presence had always triggered apprehension in her, but rather the guardian angel who had saved her life.

Sheridan turned and made her way inside, down the stairs, and through the house.

* * *

Sheridan opened the front door and stopped.

Luke Traynor stood less than six feet away, at the low gate in the stone wall where her front terrace met the steep hill.

She returned his steady gaze, knowing full well her own expression did not mirror the one before her. While dread, relief, and excessive gratitude rearranged every muscle on her face, his remained perfectly composed. The sharp nose, thin lips, and deep-set eyes could have been made of the same cobblestone he stood on.

He flashed a rakish grin. “I was in the neighborhood.”

“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”

He cocked his head, somber again. Always the gentleman, he waited for her to make the first move.

Sheridan clutched her shawl more closely and resigned herself to riding out the emotional disarray rumbling through her. She both loathed and loved this man. Of course he knew that, so it didn’t matter how she reacted to him except that she’d like herself better if she were polite.

With a quiet sigh, she walked to him, planted a kiss on his scruffy, unshaven cheek, and eased into his embrace. Nestled against the rough collar of his jacket, she smelled the familiar scent of him, an indescribable mix of earth, sun-drenched air, and confidence that bordered on lunacy. She felt the hardness of his body, always unexpected given his average height and build.

“Sheridan. How are you?”

“Fine.” She backed away, crossing her arms.

“And Eliot?” he said. “How is he?”

“Fine.”

Luke blinked, a slow movement of lids indicating he could take the truth.

She wanted to shriek obscenities at him. The disconcerting thing about angels, though, was that it was impossible to keep up any sort of pretense. Like an angel, Luke had stayed close beside her for long weeks after the shooting. He had gone with her to the edge of hell, holding on to her until she came back. He knew her better than she knew herself. Glossing over answers was a waste of time with him.

She tried another phrase. “We’re doing about as well as could be expected.”

He nodded.

“Eliot is still asleep.”

“It’s early. Perhaps I can greet him later.”

The resistance drained from her. Yes, Gabriel had come to deliver a message, and he would not leave until he’d done so.

She had no inkling how to shield Eliot and herself from this unexpected source of distress but gave a lame attempt. “I don’t suppose you’re passing through town and simply must be on your way right now, this very minute?”

“Sorry.”

She inhaled, her shoulders lifting with the effort, and blew the breath out with force. “Coffee?”

“Love some.”


Excerpted from Ransomed Dreams by Sally John. Copyright 2010 by Sally John. Used with permission from Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

RISE UP AND SING - LEX BUCKLEY - FIRST CHAPTER

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:

Lex Buckley

and the book:

David C. Cook (July 1, 2010)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Lex Buckley has worked for Soul Survivor Ministries in the UK as one of their worship pastors, alongside Tim Hughes and Ben Cantelon. She has sung on albums such as Matt Redman’s Facedown and Soul Survivor’s live albums We Must Go and Love Came Down and has released an EP with Survivor Records, Through the Valley. Lex and her husband Paul now live in Jacksonville, Florida, where they head up the worship department at River City Church. They recently became the proud parents of Bella and Finn.


Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (July 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434700585
ISBN-13: 978-1434700582

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The call to lead


Do you ever look around you and wonder where all the female worship leaders are? I don’t know about you, but I predominantly see men leading worship. In many cases this is because women have not been encouraged to step into any church leadership roles. But amidst this reality is one thing that excites me more than anything:Through all the arguments for and against women in leadership roles, we see in the Bible that God does use women to lead His people in worship.


The book of Exodus tells us about the life of Miriam. We don’t know too much about Miriam, but we do know she was a prophetess and one of the leaders of Israel alongside her brother Aaron (they both led under the authority of Moses). She was also a worshipper. In Exodus 15:20–21, after God had parted

the Red Sea and the Israelites had escaped the Egyptians, it says, “Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing. Miriam sang to them: ‘Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea.’”


The word sing in Hebrew used here is shiru, which is a masculine, plural command. This means that Miriam is addressing men and women in verse 21. The natural reading of the Hebrew is that Miriam leads a group of women who become her backing vocalists (so to speak) as she leads the whole community in worship. Some might question that she actually led them in worship because it says she sang to them.


But throughout the Psalms, we see the psalmists write songs like this, encouraging others to worship God (Psalm 30:4, Psalm 33:1–3). The psalmists wrote songs to God, about God, and to the Israelites encouraging them to worship God, just as many worship songs do today.


Miriam’s response to what God had done was to worship Him and then encourage the people of Israel to worship Him with her. At the end of the day, a worship leader is a passionate worshipper who through their voice and instrument encourages others to worship God as they seek to worship Him themselves. And this is what Miriam did. She was a worshipper whom God used to lead His people in worship for His glory.


So now that we know that God does use women to lead worship, the question is whether He is calling you to lead. Here are some general questions you might want to ask yourself to begin the process of finding your answer.


Are you a passionate worshipper?


The most obvious and important question is, do you love to worship God? More than anything a worship leader must be a worshipper. Genuine worshippers are people who are just as passionate about pouring out their praise to God when they are on their own as when they are at church. As Mike Pilavachi, leader of Soul Survivor Ministries in the UK, always says, “You can’t lead people somewhere you haven’t been yourself.” Our first passion must always be to worship God, and it’s only out of our passion to worship Him that He will call us to lead others.


Do you have the practical skills required to lead worship?


Another important factor is skill. Can you sing in tune? Are you musical? You don’t have to have an incredible voice to lead worship, but if you can’t sing in tune, leading sung worship might not be your

gift. Not everyone who starts out leading worship has a fantastic voice or is an incredible musician (and not all worship leaders lead on an instrument), but if you’re called to lead worship, usually those in leadership over you will see your potential, and it will be clear to them that you are someone to invest in.


Have others confirmed that you are called to lead worship?


If you are called to lead worship, usually those around you will be in agreement. But if leading worship is something that you’re passionate about and you have not been encouraged to step out in it yet, ask your pastor, ask your friends, ask those around you who will be honest with you. Make sure you aren’t just asking your mother though! Mine thinks I should try out for Australian Idol, and although I am so grateful that she totally believes in me, I know full well that I am not gifted enough to do well in a competition like that! You’ve got to trust that if you are called to lead worship and it’s the right time for you to step out, those around you will encourage you to do so.


Are you being given opportunities to lead worship?


If you are called to lead worship, opportunities will arise for you to do so. I never had to try to push doors open myself—God opened them in His timing. First, I began singing backing vocals at church. Then I led worship in my small group for a season. Later I began coleading at church, and after six months of coleading, I finally began leading on my own. I know it might seem more appealing to just start leading up front at church straightaway, but the journey that God took me on totally prepared me for what was

ahead. Leading a band, trying to remember the lyrics, melody, and chords for the songs, and arranging the band are all pretty tough sometimes, especially while trying to listen to the Holy Spirit and follow where He is leading. I would not have been ready to lead on my own at church if I had been thrown into it without all those years of worshipping on my own and leading in small groups. So value every opportunity given to you, because every opportunity enables you to learn and grow.


You may not be able to fully answer all these questions yet, but if you feel passionate about leading worship, keep worshipping God. Keep growing in the practical aspects of leading worship, and trust that He will give you confirmation and will open the doors for you to lead if that is something He has created you to do.

THE COOL WOMAN BY JOHN AUBREY ANDERSON - FIRST CHAPTER

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:

Fidelis (July 1, 2010)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


When I was eight years old, I saw Flying Tigerswith John Wayne and knew I wanted to be a pilot. After graduating from Mississippi State University, I joined the Air Force. My career in the cockpit was nothing less than a thirty-five-year answer to a young boy’s unspoken prayer. With three tours in Southeast Asia behind me, I left the Air Force to work for Delta Air Lines. I flew for Delta for twenty-eight years and retired from the cockpit in 1997.

When I retired, I was a man who would rather be digging post holes with a popsickle stick than be trapped in a house. Then, in January of 2002, my wife watched God transform me into a man who hungers to hide in a room in front a computer monitor, trying to shape words into pictures.

Abiding Darkness, Wedgewood Grey and And If I Die—The Black or White Chronicles—concerned themselves with spiritual warfare and fit well in the thriller/suspense genre. The Cool Womanis an action/adventure novel with a Viet Nam War setting; the protagonist is a cool and competent fighter pilot.


Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Fidelis (July 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805464808
ISBN-13: 978-0805464801

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The rumor circulating in the snack bar Friday morning came straight from squadron operations.

Sixteen Air Force pilots, most of them in flightsuits, two or three in summer-weight tans, were clustered here and there around Orange Flight’s briefing room. They were all watching the door and V debating quietly about the accuracy of what they’d heard. The fact that their flight commander was ten minutes late for the morning briefing made the story more believable by the second.

Second Lieutenant Warren F. Masland sat alone at a table in the back of the room. Masland was the most junior instructor in the flight. If the rumor proved true, the new instructor’s career was going to end before it began.

When the commander, Captain Frank W. Steadman, finally showed up, the pilots watched him shuffle into the room and step onto the dais in much the same way a condemned man might mount the guillotine’s platform. He dropped a stack of paperwork on the lectern then flipped his notebook open and frowned at the first page while he pulled out a cigarette. The conversation groups broke up, and men drifted in Steadman’s direction and began taking seats. The two officers nearest him spoke to their leader . . . he didn’t respond. He got his cigarette going then tapped on the speaker’s stand with his lighter. “At ease, guys. Let’s get this over with.”

The two pilots Steadman snubbed kept their faces expressionless and cut their eyes at each other; the rumor was going to be true.

“Okay,” Steadman had yet to look at his troops, “we’ll divvy up the students first. After that, we’ll play catch-up on paperwork and take a long weekend.”

Orange Flight’s briefing room was one of four almost identical rooms in the nondescript, concrete block building that housed the 3525th Pilot Training Squadron. The speaker’s stand was backed by a large green chalkboard and an annotated map of the local flying area. A built-in bookcase on the chalkboard side would provide housing for the incoming trainees’ grade books. In keeping with the Air Force’s penchant for having its written directives weigh as much as its aircraft, an identical set of shelves on Steadman’s left was filled with an array of training manuals, binders full of obscure Air Force Regulations, and a small library of safety-related publications.

“We’ve only got one prior service troop,” Steadman spoke in a monotone, “a first lieutenant naviguesser. I’ll take him; the rest of you will start with two or three studs each.” He paused and let his gaze go to the back wall while he pursed his lips and massaged the back of his neck. “Okay.” He stepped to the side of the podium and took a few seconds to jab the unfinished cigarette out in an ashtray; his expression wasn’t a grimace, but it was close. He propped one foot on the base of the speaker’s stand and looked back at his notebook while smoothing a mustache he’d shaved off six weeks earlier. And finally, the rumor became an official fact. “We’ve got a black kid in the incoming bunch, gents.”

He let that soak in, then looked up to ask, “Any volunteers?”


There are several cardinal rules in the military; forever reigning in the number one slot is: Never volunteer for anything. Added to that, the pilots scattered around the room were well aware that an object in motion is easier for the human eye to detect, and they became military-garbed mannequins.

Except for the ceaseless sigh of air coming from the air-conditioning vents, the room was without sound.

In any group of sixteen men, some are almost certain to be racially biased, but that wasn’t the root cause behind the room’s pervading silence.

In July of the previous summer, a black lieutenant assigned to the T-37 flight down the hall washed out of pilot training. When he busted his final elimination check ride, the trainee told everyone who would listen that he was “kicked out” because of racial prejudice. Actually, the student’s early ouster from the program had nothing to do with skin color; for the instructors who worked with him, the conclusion was unanimous from the beginning . . . the man was not cut out to be a pilot; he didn’t have the “hands,” the heart, or the SA—the situational awareness.

Within hours of the student being eliminated from the program, his congressman stepped in and, without availing himself of the facts, started twisting arms. The colonel in command of the 82nd Flying Training Wing knew he would never make general if he refused to yield, so he granted the student a special dispensation, giving him additional training.

It was a colossal error on the part of all involved.


In the world of aviation, conventional wisdom says: To keep an aircraft in the air, a pilot will always need at least one of three ingredients: airspeed, altitude, or ideas. If any one or two of those ingredients is absent or in short supply, the pilot must have a proportionate abundance of whatever remains.

On his first ride after being reinstated, the young man let the aircraft get “low and slow” while turning final for a landing, thus robbing himself of a significant measure of two of the components he needed to keep his plane flying.

The student immediately—and inexplicably—compounded his problem by pulling both throttles to idle, and the aircraft shuddered—warning of an impending stall. With the aircraft still flying, the instructor took control and initiated a standard stall recovery by pushing the throttles forward and moving to take pressure off the stick—no big deal. Even as the engines were spooling up, the student panicked and used both hands to jerk the stick full back. The abrupt maneuver cost the aircraft the last of its airspeed, and the T-37 stalled. At that altitude, with no airspeed, all the ideas in the world couldn’t prevent what was coming.

People on the ground watched helplessly as the aircraft pitched up and its forward movement stopped. The plane hung motionless for one sickening instant then dropped off on one wing and pointed its nose at the ground—falling, not flying.

The instructor took precious seconds to punch the student on the arm and yell “Eject! Eject!” but the kid’s hands were welded to the stick. The IP ejected too low and was seriously injured. The student was killed on impact.

The accommodating congressman, in an often-practiced scramble to fix the blame firmly on someone else, presided over the sacrifice of everyone from the training wing commander down to the instructor.


Steadman let his eyes move across the silent group and nodded his understanding. He spied Masland and was getting ready to pronounce his sentence when a captain with dark red hair lifted a hand and murmured, “Yo.”

“You’ll take him?” Steadman’s tone said, This is a joke, isn’t it?

The other instructors were so startled they glanced involuntarily at the man with the death wish.

The object of their attention shrugged. “Sure.”

Steadman continued to stare at the volunteer—he didn’t believe what he was hearing. No one in the room believed it. The other pilots retreated to their lifeless states because the issue might not be settled. The redhead, Rusty Mattingly, was the son of the youngest general in the Air Force. The officers in Mattingly’s chain of command tried not to go overboard in showing partiality, but they didn’t assign the junior captain too many “trash details” either.

“Okeydokey,” the flight commander took a deep breath and sighed, “you got ’im.”

Frank Steadman had five years of active duty remaining before he could retire. He pictured the stars on Mattingly’s father’s shoulders and prayed, Lord, please don’t let me get blamed for this.

Masland tried to hide his relief behind his coffee cup and spilled most of the contents in his lap. No one chided him for it.

*********

Sunday afternoon brought that week’s measured interlude of heat-soaked silence. The skies over Williams Air Force Base were clear of clouds and airplanes. Acres of jet trainers—the short, squatty little T-37s and the white, stiletto-shaped T-38s—gleamed in the sun, fueled and ready for Monday. Mann stopped his car at the main gate, handed the young Air Policeman a sheet of his crisp new orders, and asked where he could get something to eat.

The guard barely glanced at the orders while he let his eyes take in the car. “Best burgers in Arizona, sir,” he pointed. “Straight down there at Base Operations.”

Mann stowed the orders back in their envelope while the guard snapped a salute. “Nice car, sir.”

Mann smiled as he returned the salute. “Thanks.” The car, Mann’s college graduation present to himself, was created for an Air Force jet jockey.

He drove onto the base—his first time on a military installation as a commissioned officer—and headed for the burgers. Food first—then a place to sleep.


Forty minutes later, the lieutenant with the crisp orders and cool car had Base Ops almost to himself. He leaned on the counter in the snack bar and licked his finger before passing it across a piece of greasy wax paper—the former resting place of two hamburgers and a double order of fries. He was washing down the last crumbs with a long pull on his milkshake—chocolate—when airplane noises drew his attention to the window. A blue pickup with a yellow FOLLOW ME sign in the back was leading a camouflaged F-4 to a parking place on the ramp outside the operations building. The hulking fighter looked big enough to take off with a T-38 under each wing.

Partner, that right there is a real live jet fighter, thought Mann.

In response to the ground crewman’s gesture that the wheels were chocked, the man in the plane’s front cockpit signaled he was shutting down the left engine. The guy in the back cockpit unstrapped and clambered over the side. The passenger stopped on the ladder to fasten some loose straps in the backseat then dropped to the ground and took a hang-up bag and a well-stuffed B-4 bag from behind a panel somewhere on the plane’s belly. The passenger hefted his bags and walked past the shark’s mouth painted on the nose of the airplane, heading for Base Ops. The man in the F-4 twirled one finger to tell the crew chief he was restarting the left engine and gave a thumbs-out motion for the chocks to be pulled. The fighter was on its way back to the runway before the backseater got to the door of the building.

Mann was watching the fighter taxi out when the passenger from the F-4 stepped into the foyer by the snack bar. Mann turned as the guy stopped to drop his bags and pull off a white helmet with a bright crimson visor cover. The F-4’s passenger rubbed his hand through his hair to stir circulation back into his scalp then put the helmet in its bag. When he looked up to see Mann watching him, he left his bags in the middle of the marble tile floor and started for the snack bar while pulling off his flying gloves. From the insignia and stenciled name strip on the guy’s flightsuit, Mann identified him as a first lieutenant, last name Chance. The patch on the right side of his chest marked him as part of the Tactical Air Command—that, and the airplane he stepped out of, meant he was a member of a fighter outfit. The wings sewn above his name tag told the world he was a navigator—his face said he was tired. Not a long-day kind of tired, more of the weeks-and-weeks kind.

Lieutenant Chance was looking at a slender black guy wearing a tan, summer-weight uniform with second lieutenant insignia on the collar. The veteran airman stuck out a small hand and winked. “I’m Fat Chance. Is this Tucson?” The grip was firm.

“I reckon that’s close enough for government work, sir,” said Mann. “I’m Bill Mann.”

Both men stood relaxed while the new arrival looked over his fellow comedian. New uniform. New brown bars. New flight cap stowed correctly behind a brand-new blue belt. New plastic name tag, precisely fixed on his right pocket—white letters on a black background. MANN.

“Lemme guess.” Chance pulled his own war-weary flight cap out of a calf pocket on his G-suit and settled it over sandy red hair while he continued to run a calculating eye over the welcome committee. “You’re in the class that starts Tuesday.”

Mann’s face went blank with surprise. Good gosh, does it show that much?

“Yeah, it shows.” The navigator spoke before Mann could answer. “You ain’t got a speck of dust anywhere on you. The shoes look like you worked on ’em all morning with a fresh biscuit, the bars just came out of the box, an’ that haircut is short enough to shame a Marine.” He was grinning. “Like my granny used to say, ‘You look like you just stepped out of a bandbox.’”

Mann had to laugh. Here he was in uniform, joking around with a guy who had just climbed out of an F-4. He was definitely in the Air Force. “Guilty,” he said. “Just drove on the base. Left the bandbox in a phone booth.”

“You checked in at the Q yet?”

“No, sir. I figured I’d eat first in case they don’t give us any food for a few days.”

“Smart move . . . an’ don’t call me ‘sir.’” The drawl was straight out of lower Alabama by way of a year in Southeast Asia. “I’m gonna be in that class with you, and we’re gonna be up to our elbows in alligators for the next twelve months, so we don’t have time to play military; we’ll leave that to the Training Command weenies.” He looked at Mann to see if he understood.

“Sounds good to me.” Mann was nodding. “Do people really call you ‘Fat’?”

“Yup—that’s my call sign.” He handed Mann the helmet bag, gathered up the rest of his baggage, and headed for the door. “You got wheels?”

“Right outside the door.”

“Excellent.”

The June sun in Phoenix is expected to be harsh; it was brutal. They walked the few steps to the Vette, and Mann pointed at the chrome luggage rack. “Trunk’s full.”

“Nice wheels. ’58?”

“Yep.”

Most pilots have a thing for speed and the Vette would be one of twenty-two sports cars in Willie’s UPT Class 72-01.

Chance rested the bags gently on the rack and took the helmet bag from Mann. He pulled a huge cigar out of it, ran it under his nose, grinned, and waved it at Mann. “Gen-u-wine Cuban.” He fired up the cigar, took off his G-suit, and slid into the passenger seat of the Vette. “Let’s go find the Q first. I’ll grab a shower and some civvies, then we’ll hunt us up a beerysoda.”

Mann got behind the wheel.

The navigator waved his cigar to take in the car. “I even like the color.”

Mann was backing out of the parking spot. “They told me red increases the horsepower by 15 percent.”

The redhead ran a hand through his hair. “Closer to twenty-five.”