BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

YOUTH DEVOTIONAL - ALWAYS - REVIEWED



Always: A Teen Devotional

By: Melody Carlson
Published by: Revell
ISBN #: 978-0-8007-3256-1
189 Pages






Back Cover:
Does your faith make a difference in your life?

Does what you hear at church on Sunday affect the rest of your week? Maybe you let your beliefs remain at a surface level, never letting them really change who you are. But when you read and study the words of Jesus, you can't help but grow in your faith.

Always offers you 90 short devotions that help you encounter Jesus's words for yourself. Popular author Melody Carlson unpacks the message that Jesus wanted his followers to understand. Then she shows you how it applies to your life during the highs and lows of school, family life, relationships, and more.

If you want to read the Bible for all it's worth, check out this final book in the Words from the Rock series.

Review:
Always is book three in the “Words from the Rock” devotional series by Melody Carlson. The author writes in the introduction, “This devotional is special in that it features Scriptures from the last days of Jesus’ earthly life—including some powerful prayers and strong words of encouragement.”

The book contains 90 devotionals, set up in a way that is really easy to get into for a busy teen. It starts with a scripture that has Jesus speaking about his last early days, “Words from the Rock” and then it’s followed by the author writing about that scripture. After there is a prayer and a little, “Stone for the Journey” which is something you can hold on to and remind yourself of throughout your day. Then it ends with a “Final Word” which is another scripture usually from the Old Testament, affirming the first scripture.

I think it’s a great devotional for teenagers who don’t have a lot of time to really delve into the bible. It also would be great for someone just starting out in their walk with God and for those who have been with him a while. It gives you examples of prayers to pray, and different scriptures to read from the bible. Melody is a master of laying it all out for the reader in plain English, and it’s really easy to follow. I enjoyed the devotionals, and the stories the author uses to make the lessons more understandable. Melody takes familiar bible stories, like the one of Jesus riding a donkey on Palm Sunday, and describes it in a way that brings it to life. I would definitely recommend this devotional to my friends, either recently saved, or having walked with God for awhile.

Hilary St.Laurent
Where you go from here
TBCN http://www.bookfun.org/

HAPPY AND BLESSED THANKSGIVING TO ALL!!



I HAVE TO MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR!! HEALTHY FAMILY AND HUSBAND! GREAT FRIENDS!! A NEW LITTLE ADDITION TO OUR FAMILY! BEING FILLED WITH THE LOVE, PEACE AND JOY OF THE LORD!! HE IS MY COMFORTER AND PROVIDER!! IT DOESN'T GET ANY BETTER THAN THAN!


THE LIGHTKEEPER'S BRIDE by COLEEN COBLE




This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Lightkeeper's Bride
Thomas Nelson (October 19, 2010)
by
Colleen Coble


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Author Colleen Coble’s thirty-five novels and novellas have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA, the Holt Medallion, the ACFW Book of the Year, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, the Booksellers Best, and the 2009 Best Books of Indiana-Fiction award. She writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail and love begin with a happy ending.

A word from Colleen: God has been faithful, though the path has not been easy. Nothing worth doing is ever easy. God wouldn’t let me give up, and I like to think the struggle made me stronger. God has given me so much in my life, most importantly my great family, a loving church family at New Life Baptist Church, and my wonderful publishing family at Nelson Books.

ABOUT THE BOOK
A thrilling romantic mystery set in the lush Victorian age.

Central Operator Katie Russell's inquisitive ways have just uncovered her parents' plan for her marriage to wealthy bachelor Bartholomew Foster. Her heart is unmoved, but she knows the match will bring her family status and respectability.

Then Katie overhears a phone conversation that makes her uneasy and asks authorities to investigate. But the caller is nowhere to be found. Mysterious connections arise between the caller and a ship lost at sea.

Against propriety, Katie questions the new lighthouse keeper, Will Jesperson. Then a smallpox epidemic forces their quarantine in his lighthouse. Though of low social status, Will's bravery and kindness remove Katie's suspicion and win her love. Katie and Will together work to solve the mystery of the missing girl and the lost ship as God gives the couple the desire of their hearts.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Lightkeeper's Bride, go HERE.

NOTE: I didn't sign up for this blog tour not because I didn't want to read this book (oh I really do) but there are so many great books so little time to read them, especially near the holidays. This book is DEFINATELY on my TO BE READ soon list!! I've enjoyed many of Coleen's other books. I'm sure this one will not disappoint. I have to read book one first and then I'll dig into this one.

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

GIVE AWAY EBOOK - INTERVIEW REGINA ANDREWS



ABOUT THE AUTHOR: REGINA ANDREWS

A resident of Providence, Rhode Island---Regina grew up in nearby Barrington and still belongs to her church family in that town. After graduating from Providence College she attended the University of Delaware, eventually earning her Master’s Degree in American Civilization from Brown University. She is inspired by the seashore and the song of the birds…anything to do with nature. She and her husband enjoy visiting nearby Cape Cod.

How did you come up with the premise for Destiny's Designs?





This is a great question, Nora. Actually, I was lucky enough to be working as an assistant to a very successful, accomplished and renowned interior designer in RI who worked primarily in Newport when I started writing Destiny's Designs. We had so many adventures that I started writing them down so I wouldn't forget them. I used to come home from work every night and tell my parents the hilarious things that had happened during during the day. Things that seemed to be a crisis, like 'where's my peacock fabric'. This just didn't jive with what the rest of the world was going through. But at the end of the day these clients were all, deep down, such really, truly nice people. So most of what I was processing was about how the folks with tons of money were so unhappy, which I just didn't get! Bit by bit, the story took shape and Destiny's Designs was born.

How does the cover process work for you? Did you have any say in picking out the cover for your books?

Yes, for all my publishers there's a cover art form provided, which opens the dialog between author and cover artist. For Destiny's Designs, it's unbelievable how beautiful Jen Ranieri conceived and executed the opulent, yet lonely, theme of the book. Whoo-hoo, Jen!

What do you like most about being an author? What surprised you about being an author?

Oh, I love being an author! It is a privilege! To maybe provide an escape, and bring happiness to others... to uplift them, wow! It's a surprise that dreams really do come true!

If you had the opportunity to write anything on any topic (and you were guaranteed a market to sell it in) what would you write? Why?



I have a manuscript about families dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer's disease. I was honored and blessed to stay home with my mother for over six years when she had dementia, and I know what caregivers go through. I would like to do that. Also, I would like to write about my experience with breast cancer. But that's two topics, sorry!


How personal are your novels? How much of you are in them? Do tell?

Yes, most of what I address is based, somehow, in personal experience. I do believe in ''write what you know.' It would be hard to write about something that I'm not passionate about; so any of my themes - wealth, Alzheimer's, greeting cards, nurses -would have to mean something to me.

What made you publish in the ebook format? What was the appeal for you?

Oh, just about everything. I'm Manager of a Web Copy team for a high-end jewelry company. I know the Web is exploding, and I also know ebooks are the way of the future; and of course, everyone is so into the environment, it's great! Plus, ebooks are so much easier to read. What's not to love?

Who has influenced you the most in your writing? How?

Nora, I seem to always have an extra answer, but honestly, I had two professors that made their marks on me: Dr John Hennedy at Providence College, who loved Shakespeare, and was a great writer. He shared that love with his students. Also, Dr. Hyatt Waggoner from Brown University, a true scholar who loved Literature and founded the Am Civ Program where I earned my Master's Degree. Both fostered a tight mastery of writing techniques and a wide, loving appreciation of the beauty and power of language.

QUESTIONS I JUST HAD TO ASK?

If you could visit any place in the world where would you go and what would you do?

photo Mathias Vejerslev

That is such a great question. I would have to say I would love to return to Paris, France. My wonderful sister and I went there when I was still in High School, and we have returned many times since, although not so recently. I would love to see the sights that have so much historical and religious significance; boy, if I could climb the belfry of Notre Dame again, and behold that breathtaking view, I think I would float to cloud 9!! If I could add, I would love beyond anything to go to Bethlehem, to see the site where Jesus was born. Although the area is too filled with strife for me to visit, I have often gone there in my heart, and my prayer and my wish is for a peace-filled world where there travels are possible without worry.

Mathias Vejerslev's website is http://www.flickr.com/photos/mvejerslev/452597976)




If you could be apart of any two events in the history of the world which two would you pick.







Another great question! Gee, I'd like to be on the moon in 1969, that would really be great. And then honestly, I'd be in Independence Hall in Philadelphia when we signed as a nation. Also, the 1961 inauguration of JFK must have been magic.

If you could hang out with any two people alive or dead in the history of the world, who would you pick and why? What would you do?
Oh, without a doubt, I would say I would love to be in the presence of Jesus. I would probably try to serve as one of His press secretaries, reverently conveying His message to the locals, making sure it was okay with Him first, of course, but seeing that His Word got conveyed accurately in the ways available at those times. :-)

My other choice would be Mozart, a musical genius , who I think spread the message of God's love though his musical compositions. Probably what I would do around Mozart would be helping in any organizing, or systems workings that would make his life easier, I think I could have really helped with the programs and logistics of the Court. But I probably would have actually put my foot down and seen to it that he took better care of himself, making sure he was warm enough, fed well, etc., so he didn't get sick. I would have looked out for him medically. It's a shame he died so young. It probably didn't have to happen.


What is your goal or mission as a Christian writer?

Thank you for asking about this, because I have always wanted to be able to share a mission of God's love through writing uplifting, inspiring books in His honor. It's so basic, to me -- to gladden people through reading, and to bring the Word of God to their lives in another way, and to reinforce the love of God in their hearts.How come there's so much unhappiness? It seems like there's a vast expanse waiting to be brightened!

What T.V. shows were you most passionate about as a kid? (You know the ones you couldn’t miss each week)









Haha! Two come to mind : The Wild, Wild West and Lost in Space. I can remember being in the 2nd grade when LIS debuted, and actually being so excited I was nauseated lol! Guess I am an adventurer -- or an armchair traveler, right? Both of them deal with intrigue and ingenuity, and good triumphing over adversity. I also loved all the animal shows, and the Little House series. Later on, my Dad and I laughed until we cried over Coach (not the bags!), and Cheers. We found that a riot because he was Personnel Director for the Postal Service.

What THREE things would you not want to live without?

Well, first of course would be my Bible. It was my father's, not, mine, and I treasure it more than anything. I remember him on his knees every night before we went to sleep, deep in prayer, and this Bible was always by his side. There was never a question I had that he couldn't address, relating it somehow to the Bible in a kind and loving way. He was always understanding. It was always a message of love, and happiness and acceptance. And believe me, his life was not easy. But he gloried in God's love, and loved his family and my mother more than anything.



I was going to add lipstick and coffee as my other two 'musts,' but after thinking in more depth about my father and the Bible, I don't think I could ever live without those wonderful memories of my father, because we share such a poignant connection. The way he lived his life left an indelible impression on me. So that's the second thing: I could never live without his example, or my memories of my father, really, because that's what makes me who I am today.

And third, okay I need coffee and mascara and music, but really - what I could not live without is prayer. I could not live without the faith that God has blessed me with, and prayers have helped me so much towards my journey to being the person I hope God wants me to become. It is a process. But I could not live without prayer. And when I think of my father, with the perspective of time, it's his example that set the tone for my heart being open to God in my life. So, his Bible, a material/physical possession, the memories, an emotional connection, and prayer, a spiritual connection.


What THREE movies could you watch over and over again?
I love the movies so much! I'm always looking for the ones with happy endings, though :-) That being said, 'Sound of Music', over and over. Guess I love the drama, too, though, because I LOVE 'West Side Story'. My third choice would have to be 'It's a Wonderful Life', I really can't believe how fantastic that one is. But let's not forget our French friends - 'King of Hearts' was a masterpiece, and out Italian friends with 'CinemaParadisio'. That's 5, sorry.

FINAL COMMENTS FOR MY READERS!!

Thank you, Nora, for your gracious hosting, and dear readers, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind interest in my inspirational books. It's so nice to meet all of you and such an honor to be with you this month. I may be a newcomer to the publishing world, but I don't feel like a stranger to all of you, thanks to your kindness. The only thing I ever hoped for was to spread hope and make people happy through writing, and I sincerelyhope I have uplifted you, maybe made you laugh and brought some light into your hearts through my work. Thank you for reading my work, and God bless you and yours - and Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas! Thank you very much for hosting me, ACFW!

Regina

Thanks Regina for stopping by and letting us get to know you and your books. Thanks for the give away also. I can’t wait for theACFW book Club discussion of your book Destiny's Designs. If any of you would like to join in on the discussion please do. It starts the 21st which is tomorrow.You can join theACFW book club by going to the American Christian Fiction Writers website http://www.acfw.com/ look for the book club and following the direction to join.

The discussion on the ACFW book club loop will start December 1st. See you there.

Sincerely,
With a grateful Heart

Nora St.Laurent
The Book club Network
http://www.bookfun.org/


MANDATORY - PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT About the interview for your name to be entered in the drawing.


Be sure to leave your email address so that if you win I can contact you.
DRAWING WILL BE -  Dec 1st

For EXTRA CHANCES to win this book you can

1. Become a FOLLOWER of my blog (1) entry - please make a separate comment

2. Twitter about this interview and give away!! (1) entry - please make a separate comment

3. Grab my button on my site and add it to yours (1)entry - please make a separate comment for each entry

4. Make a post on your blog about this contest (2) entries - please make a separate comment for each entry

PLEASE REMEMBER to leave your email address so that I can contact you (Use (At) and (dot) so that people won't be able to spam your email address) - I will contact the winner.

ALL THE BEST TO YOU

Blessings

Nora :D

********DISCLAIMER: Entering the give away is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws. Void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents, odds of winning depend on number of entrants *****


COSTLY GRACY by JON WALKER - REVIEWED

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:

Acu/Leafwood Publishing (September 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Jon Walker has worked closely with Rick Warren for many years, first as a writer/editor at Pastors.com, later as vice president of communications at Purpose Driven Ministries, and then as a pastor at Saddleback Church. He's also served as editor-in-chief of LifeWay's HomeLife magazine and is founding editor of Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox. His articles have appeared in publications and web sites around the world. He is also the author of Growing with Purpose. Jon currently lives in Hendersonville, Tennessee.


Visit the author's website.




Product Details:

List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Acu/Leafwood Publishing (September 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0891126767
ISBN-13: 978-0891126768

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Grace and Discipleship

What shall we say, then? Should we continue to live in sin so that God’s grace will increase? Certainly not! We have died to sin—how then can we go on living in it?
Romans 6:1-2

Dietrich Bonhoeffer declared cheap grace the deadly enemy of our church in 1937. “We are fighting today for costly grace,” he said. We are in that same fight today.

By cheap grace, Bonhoeffer means the arrogant presumption that we can receive forgiveness for our sins, yet never abandon our lives to Jesus. We assume, since grace is free, there is no cost associated with the free gift. We assume we can go on living the way we have been because our sins are now forgiven.

The gift is free, but Jesus paid a bloody price to offer us the gift; the gift is free, but that doesn’t mean there is no cost to following Jesus once we step into his grace.

Costly grace justifies the sinner: Go and sin no more. Cheap grace justifies the sin: Everything is forgiven, so you can stay as you are.

“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession,” says Bonhoeffer. “Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

And this means cheap grace is “a denial of the incarnation of the Word of God,” says Bonhoeffer. Did Jesus die so we could follow a doctrine? Did he suffer a cruel and bloody crucifixion to give us a code of conduct? Did he give up all he had, take on the nature of a servant and walk through Palestine as a human being so we could give an intellectual assent to the grace he freely gives? Did he humble himself and walk the path of obedience all the way to death so we could live in disobedience to him? (based on Philippians 2:8)

When the forgiveness of sin is proclaimed as a general truth and the love of God taught as an abstract concept, we depersonalize the incarnation; yet, it can’t be anything but personal: the God of the universe launching a rescue mission for you, his beloved creation, at the expense of Jesus, his only begotten son. Jesus didn’t come in the abstract, as a nebulous idea of love, grace, and forgiveness; rather, “he became like a human being and appeared in human likeness” (Philippians 2:7b).

You can’t get more personal than that.

The Incarnation is totally personal. When Jesus calls you it is absolutely personal; and the cost of grace is personal. Jesus paid personally to provide us with free grace and we must pay personally to live within that grace. Why do you think Jesus died for you, if not for the personal? What do you think he expects from you, if not something personal?

RATIONALIZING OUR WAY INTO CHEAP GRACE

We too easily slip into a corporate concept that Jesus died for sins in general and so he becomes to us something like a huge corporation: we don’t really expect to get personal, individualized attention. And because everything, in our thinking, is impersonal, it is easier for us to dodge responsibility.

In the case of the cross, it is the difference between “Jesus died for the sins of mankind” or “Jesus died to pay for my lie last week at work.”

This is how we rationalize our way into cheap grace. But we are called—in truth, we are designed— to come face-to-face with Jesus, which allows us get to know him and the Father as we are know by them: “What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face-to-face. What I know now is only partial; then it will be complete—as complete as God’s knowledge of me” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

On the one hand, costly grace cost Jesus his life and he gives it to us as a gift of righteousness that includes the forgiveness of sin; it is something we can never earn and it comes to us as we open our hearts in repentance: “Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me” (Psalms 51:1-4, 10 NLT).

On the other hand, Bonhoeffer says cheap grace requires no contrition; we need not even have a desire to be delivered from our sins, just forgiven. He says, “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves.” It’s okay, God will forgive me.

“Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has,” says Bonhoeffer. “It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which auses him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.” Costly grace comes when we come to the end of ourselves, ready to abandon our current lives in order to give our lives whole-heartedly to Jesus. It comes when it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Galatians 2:20). It comes when we submit ourselves to the will of Jesus, doing what he tells us to do day-in-and-day-out, altering our lives in obedience to him.

Costly grace means we change our habits, thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, and relationships according to the will of Jesus. Nothing can remain the same because we are no longer the same. We are uniquely connected to the divine nature through Jesus and we no longer “live under law but under God’s grace” (Romans 6:14; see also Colossians 2:9-10).

“Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ,” says Bonhoeffer. “It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner.”

GRACE AND DISCIPLESHIP ARE INSEPARABLE

“When he spoke of grace, [Martin] Luther always implied as a corollary that it cost him his own life, the life which was now for the first time subjected to the absolute obedience of Christ,” says Bonhoeffer. Costly grace does not exempt us from discipleship or give us a pass on obeying the commands of Jesus. In fact, it demands “we take the call to discipleship more seriously than ever before.”

And grace doesn’t make our sanctification automatic; Jesus transforms us into his image as we follow him down the hard path through the narrow gate into the kingdom of heaven. Luther quickly understood that discipleship must be tested in the world, outside the cloister, as Jesus pushes us from self-centered to other-centered.

While it is true Luther said, “Sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ more boldly still,” Bonhoeffer notes his intent was not to teach cheap grace but to help us understand our position in Christ. When we get serious about discipleship, we will want to be obedient to God. This is why Jesus said the way we show our love for him is by being obedient to his commands. Our obedience brings us in line with the will of God; we become one with his agenda. And that’s the essence of love: when we love we want to do the things the people we love want to do; we become one with our loved one’s wishes.

Yet, our obedience will never make us perfect. The only way we can approach the throne of grace boldly is by stepping into the costly grace of Christ, where he becomes our righteousness before God; he acts as our mediator. Luther’s point, then, was when we sin we need not despair. Jesus covers all our sins. He died for the sins you’ve already committed and he died for the sins you will commit tomorrow. Luther means we can stop being afraid of ourselves; stop being afraid that we may make mistakes. Just love God and live your life—and when you stumble, fall into the grace of Jesus Christ.

By trusting the grace of God, we can be courageous in following Jesus and equally courageous in confessing our sins before him. There is no need to hide our sins or to posture as if we have not sinned. We can just admit it and keep on following Jesus, even if we have to confess sins to Jesus every day.

But if we don’t have a clear understanding of costly grace, we’re more likely to play games with God, pretending we haven’t sinned, maintaining the delusion that we’re not that bad, and that leaves us stuck in immaturity right at the threshold of discipleship. And our posturing is part of how we undermine grace. If we’re so cheaply forgiven, then we never have to face the ugliness of our sin. It doesn’t seem so bad. The bloody work and resurrection of Jesus become a generic work, a blanket forgiving of sins, a prettified passion meant to God bless us, everyone.

Cheap grace flips Luther’s sin without fear upside-down, recreating it as a justification of sin instead of the justification of the sinner. Bonhoeffer says the real “outcome of the Reformation was the victory, not of Luther’s perception of grace in all its purity and costliness, but of the vigilant religious instinct of man for the place where grace is to be obtained at the cheapest price.” “The justification of the sinner in the world degenerated into the justification of sin and the world,” Bonhoeffer says. “Costly grace was turned into cheap grace without discipleship.”

This is exactly what Paul addresses with the church in Rome, where the religious instinct of man—that desire for self-justification—was in full assault against the sovereignty of God, attempting to prove God wrong in his bloody sacrifice of Jesus.

DOES GRACE MEAN WE CAN KEEP ON SINNING?

“So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving?” asks Paul. I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land! That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means” (Romans 6:1-3 MSG). The costly grace of Jesus means to take us into a new land, the kingdom of heaven. We follow Jesus obediently along a difficult path through a narrow gate into his kingdom.

A simple glance across the evangelical landscape reveals that we’ve overwhelmingly embraced the lesser grace. We’re barely willing to adjust our schedules let alone our lifestyles. We make decisions based on common sense, robbing the Holy Spirit of his role of counsel. We stash away our 401k’s and plan for when we will do kingdom work in the future, never trusting God to provide. We take the risk out of ministry by always leaning on our own understanding and then we wonder why our faith is weak. When do we exercise our faith?

We’re glad to follow Jesus. His yoke does seem easy: a few hours each week in worship, a Bible study, a small group, a bit of service at the church and perhaps a mission trip each year. We try to be good people, to help others, and to thank God for our blessings. When things are going well, we don’t want to bother God and, when things are going badly, we can camp out with God and say a holy “Amen” that he’s always there in our darkest times.

But a peculiar people? A royal priesthood set apart? What? Does Jesus really mean I’m supposed to abandon my ________ (fill in the blank)?

We preach, we teach, we publish. We have the internet and Christian radio. “We poured forth unending streams of grace,” says Bonhoeffer. But the call to follow Jesus in the narrow way is hardly ever heard. Have we presented the gospel in such a way that we’ve left people feeling secure in their ungodly living?

Cheap grace has been “disastrous to our own spiritual lives,” says Bonhoeffer. “Instead of opening up the way to Christ, it has closed it. Instead of calling us to follow Christ, it has hardened us in our disobedience.”

We’ve settled for cheap grace for so long that we’ve allowed it to become the norm for Christian living. We know there must be something more but life just gets in the way. We’ve taught people to live disconnected from Jesus and we wonder why they struggle in their Christian walk, why they are so tired all the time.

Bonhoeffer says, “To put it quite simply, we must undertake this task because we are now ready to admit that we no longer stand in the path of true discipleship. We confess that, although our Church is orthodox as far as her doctrine of grace is concerned, we are no longer sure that we are members of a Church which follows its Lord. We must therefore attempt to recover a true understanding of the mutual relation between grace and discipleship. The issue can no longer be evaded. It is becoming clearer every day that the most urgent problem besetting our Church is this: How can we live the Christian life in the modern world?”

THINK OF GRACE AS A RESTAURANT

Grace is a restaurant where you can eat anything on the menu for free. The cost for you to dine is hefty, but your whole bill has been paid by Jesus.

“You mean, I can eat anything I want here? Then I’ll have a lust burger with a side of lies.”

I’m sorry. We don’t serve lust burgers or lies here. But you are welcome to anything on the menu. Everything here is hand-made by the Father and all of it is specifically designed to keep you healthy.

“I thought you said I could eat anything I wanted if I came into this grace restaurant?”

You can eat anything you want, but we only serve what is on the menu. If you look, you will see there are thousands of choices we’ve prepared specifically for your taste buds.

“But not a lust burger? No lie fries. What kind of restaurant are you running here? Don’t you want me to be happy, to feel good?”

Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!

“What if I go outside the restaurant, get a lust burger and some lie fries, and bring them back in here to eat?”

That would be cheap grace.

GRACE IS A TRANSFORMING POWER

If you asked most evangelical Christians about the meaning of grace, they’d probably tell you it’s the unmerited favor of God. Not a bad answer, but one that’s just academic enough to keep you distracted from the truly transformational nature of costly grace.

Grace is powerful, audacious, and dangerous, and if it ever got free reign in our churches, it would begin a transformation so rapid and radical that it would cause skeptics to beat a path to our door.

What is grace? Consider this illustration from Les Miserables, Victor Hugo’s timeless tale about a peasant who is sentenced to hard labor for stealing a loaf of bread. Released from jail, Jean Valjean is offered brief sanctuary in the home of a priest.

Despite being treated with dignity for the first time in years, Valjean, steals the bishop’s valuable silverware and runs away. The next day, Valjean is brought back to the priest’s home by the police, who tell the priest that Valjean has claimed the silver as a gift. The police obviously expect the priest to deny the claim.

The priest immediately addresses Valjean, saying, “Ah, there you are! I am glad to see you. But I gave you the candlesticks also, which are silver like the rest, and would bring two hundred francs. Why did you not take them along with your plates?” When he hands the candlesticks to Valjean privately, he tells him, ”Jean Valjean, my brother, you belong no longer to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I am buying for you.”

It’s a Christ-like moment—and one that shows the tremendous cost of grace, both for the giver and the receiver. Valjean goes on to live a life of grace, supporting the poor and adopting a young orphan whom he must ransom out of servitude.

Do you suppose for a minute that a harsher approach by the priest could have gotten a better response from Jean Valjean? Then why do we expect people to behave better when we “Tsk, tsk, tsk” and shame them into behaving properly rather than modeling the kind of grace that will change them radically and permanently. Grace allows people to make choices and assumes they’ll make the best choice. Grace is free and flowing and unencumbered by guilt or shame or fear, for true grace says, “I know all about you, and I still love you with a godly acceptance.”

We see this in John 4, when Jesus meets the woman at the well. When she offers to give him a drink, he says, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh living water” (John 4:10 MSG).

Note that he talks about how gracious God can be. Yet most of us, if we were gut honest, function as if God were stingy with his grace. We fear his punishment, in the sense that we think he’s the high school principal walking the halls, taking down names. Who did what and who’s to blame?

But God already knows who did what and who’s to blame, and he still loves us anyway. His interest is in redeeming us, not in keeping us on the hook for our sins.

Unfortunately, many of us—Christians—live our lives as if we’re still on the hook, and as if we have to keep everyone else on the hook. We use weapons of the flesh—the sarcastic comment, the angry stare—all designed to get people to straighten up and live right.

In contrast, when the woman at the well goes back to her village, she says, “Come see a man . . . who knows me inside and out” (John 4:29 MSG). Nothing is hidden from him, and yet he communicates with her in such a fashion that she leaves feeling loved and accepted. That’s the aroma of grace.

Did she get away with her sins? No. They cost Jesus plenty, yet you don’t see him lording it over her, or putting a guilt trip on her, or even using the time for a lecture on sexual ethics. Jesus trusts that once she is confronted with God’s generosity—his grace—that she will be eager to change and conform to God’s commands.

It’s a classic Christian paradox, isn’t it? Just when you think it’s time to pull out the Law and read someone the riot act, Jesus shows by his behavior that it’s better to embrace that person with a costly love.

And grace does cost. It obviously cost the Son of God everything, and for you to extend grace will cost you, just as it cost the priest his silver. In fact, one way to distinguish the difference between grace and mercy is that grace costs while mercy does not. Mercy says, “I won’t press charges.” Grace says, “I not only won’t press charges, I’ll pay for your rehab program.”

GRACE HELPS US BECOME OTHER-CENTERED

Grace is powerfully other-focused. It gives without fear of depletion. Love, forgiveness, and mercy are handed out with no thought of exhausting the supply. Someone enveloped by grace is rooted deeply in soil next to a river that never knows drought.

The prodigal’s father offers a picture of the paradox of grace. The story begins with a self-centered, younger son. He requests his inheritance and then squanders all his father’s hard earned money, ending up working for a pig farmer. Every time he touched a pig, the young Hebrew boy was reminded how far he was from the will of God. In a state of horrible desperation, he remembers his father and decides to return home as a slave.

What was going through his mind as he headed home? Maybe he realized what a failure he was. Or maybe he thought about the money his father gave him that he had foolishly thrown away. Possibly he feared a harsh rejection, one he was sure he deserved.

Whatever he thought, he was not prepared for his father’s response!

Imagine: He sees his father’s house in the distance as he shamefully shuffles home. Then he sees an unidentifiable person running toward him. Then he recognizes his father and he prepares himself for the worst.

The prodigal was probably bewildered by his father’s loving embrace. The father’s love faces off against the son’s self-degradation. After a few minutes of wrestling, the son’s heart is finally overcome by the father’s passionate embrace. He goes limp in his father’s arms unable to hold back the tears.

The father is overjoyed at the son’s return. This is too much for the son. He only hopes for a job as a slave, and yet he is treated as a son despite all his filthiness. The father’s extraordinary grace continues as he places a ring on his son’s hand and sandals on his feet and then wraps him in an extravagant robe. Each gift is a visible sign of full son-ship.

The father completes his bountiful behaviors of grace by inviting the community to a joyous celebration of his son’s return. Rather than being embarrassed at the wayward son, the father responds with merriment. The father’s response to a rebellious son is a beautiful picture of transforming grace.

Each of us has had our prodigal experiences. Prodigal behavior is common because our heart’s default setting is trust yourself at all cost. Self-trust is rooted in the belief that I will be more gracious to myself than God will. Who are we kidding anyway?

We must go to Jesus to be personally tutored in Grace 101. As we receive his grace, we can then pass his grace to others.


REVIEW
COSTLY GRACE
by Jon Walker
Publishhed by B & H
232 Pages

Review: As I read these teachings by Dietrich Bonhoeffer I wanted to know more about the man behind the book. Jon Walker does a great job of putting this book together in a way that gripped my heart and shake my head. I could't believe that this many wrote and lived this way in such a turbulent time. Below is a short overview of Bonhoeffer's life. After I read this I went back to read some more of this book. The book will touch your heart and make me start to understand what this Costly Grace is that I've taken for granted for a long time. After reading this I don't think I really got a handle on this in the first place!!

This is one book I'll be referring to often. I recommend it to everyone! Thanks B & H for the review copy. I had never heard of this many before. He is definately a pillar of faith, love and Grace! I'm so thankful to have gotten to know him and the costly grace Bonhoeffer talks about.

Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network
www.bookfun.org

Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906 - 1945 (Brief overview of his life below)


When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, igniting the Second World War, a group of German conspirators were already plotting a coup d'├ętat; over the next six years, there were as many as fifteen assassination attempts against Hitler. One of the co-conspirators, a double-agent who smuggled information about the plots to the Allies, was the young German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In the late 1930s he wrote about the necessity of "risking" peace and "daring" a loving presence to others – words which seem to fly in the face of his later justification of assassination. But Bonhoeffer formulated his theology and ethics in the crucible of a long and ultimately fatal struggle with the Nazi regime in Germany. His story is a fascinating window onto the dilemmas of twentieth-century ethics and spirituality.

Arrested: On April 6, 1943, Bonhoeffer and Dohnanyi were arrested not because of their conspiracy but because of long-standing rivalry between SS and Abwehr for intelligence fiefdom. One of the informers of Abwehr, Wilhelm Schmidhuber, was arrested by the Gestapo for involvement in a private currency affair. In the subsequent investigations the Gestapo uncovered Dohnanyi's operation in which 14 Jews were sent to Switzerland ostensibly as Abwehr agents and large sums in foreign currency were paid to them as compensation for confiscated properties.

Bonhoeffer's work came to full fruition only after his death. His efforts and his writings on behalf of the international ecumenical movement laid the groundwork for post-war inter-faith dialogue. His insistence on the importance of an active response to Christ's Sermon on the Mount – a call to social justice – inspired many of the world's great civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Vaclav Havel and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. And finally, his brave and revolutionary concept of a "religionless Christianity" has helped Christian theology turn toward uncertain vistas of the future. It is an idea which exposes the vitality and relevance of faith in a world, as Bonhoeffer put it, "come of age."

What a man! What a book!

REVELL TOUR - CHRISTMAS AT HARRINGTON'S - REVIEWED



Just in time for the holidays, comes Christmas at Harrington’s, a tender story about fresh starts from Melody Carlson, the bestselling author of The Christmas Bus.

In Carlson’s latest tale that will charm readers, Christmas is approaching, and Lena Markham finds herself penniless, friendless, and nearly hopeless. She is trying to restart her life after false accusations landed her in prison, but job opportunities are practically nonexistent.

When a secondhand red coat unexpectedly lands her a job as Mrs. Santa at a department store, Lena finally thinks her luck is changing. But can she keep her past a secret?

Full of redemption and true holiday spirit, Christmas at Harrington's will be readers' newest Christmas tradition.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books, several of them Christmas novellas from Revell, including her much-loved and bestselling book, The Christmas Bus. She also writes many teen books, including Just Another Girl, Anything but Normal, the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, the TrueColors series, and the Carter House Girls series. Melody was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books, including the Notes from a Spinning Planet series and Finding Alice, which is in production as a Lifetime Television movie. She and her husband serve on the Young Life adult committee in central Oregon. Visit Melody's website at http://www.melodycarlson.com/

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life. They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.

For more information, or to purchase this book - visit http://www.revellbooks.com/

REVIEW:
CHRISTMAS AT HARRINGTON’S

By Melody Carlson
Published by Revell
ISBN# 978-0-8007-1925-8
167 Pages

Back Cover: Christmas is approaching, and Lena Markham finds herself penniless, friendless and nearly hopeless. She is trying to restart her life after false accusations landed her in prison, but job opportunities are practically nonexistent. When a secondhand red coat unexpectedly lands her a job as Mrs. Santa at a department store, Lena finally thinks her luck is changing. But can she keep her past a secret? This tender story about fresh starts will charm readers as all of Melody Carlson's Christmas offerings do. Full of redemption and true holiday spirit, Christmas at Harrington's will be readers' newest Christmas tradition.

Review: Since I’m a huge Melody Carlson fan, I was thrilled to receive this review copy of Christmas at Harrington’s. Melody knows how to tell a story to prepare your heart and mind for Christmas. Reading this book is the perfect way to start the holiday season. This novel opens with Lena Markham heading to New Haven for a fresh start.

Lena quickly adjusts to this new town and finds herself helping out a neighbor by watching her daughter, Jemima, as she looks for a job. Lena discovers an unexpected job herself as Mrs. Santa for Harrington’s Dept store. Who’d-a–thought, her new life would begin as Santa’s wife. Not what she had planned, but the pay wasn’t bad and it was the only job in town.

As Lena played Mrs. Santa, she listened to the children and their Christmas wishes. She adored the children. Lena’s numb heart started to feel again. She realized, “Even though some people kicked me down, there where a lot who didn’t.” There are good people, many encouraged her even when they found out about her past. Lena was heart broken and lost her desire to fight for what mattered to her most in life.

When Lena told the Christmas story to Jemima and the kids, the message and hope was touching their hearts and hers. Lena said, “Santa has asked me to come here and talk to you, to remind you about Jesus’ birthday...I had told you earlier about how it’s impossible to be good all the time, remember?...God understands that. And that’s why he sent his Son to forgive us and teach us to forgive others. Doesn’t it feel good when someone forgives you for making a mistake?...So Santa and I want you to remember that when you’re thinking about Christmas.”

I love Melody Carlson and the stories she writes, and this one is no exception. Melody has unforgettable characters that I cared about from the beginning and the story line got my attention as it was very unusual. I had to see where all this would be leading. I hurt for Lena and the spiritual journey she had been on up until this point. It was heart breaking and fascinating all at the same time. This author has a unique way of writing a story that the reader can connect with, and then leave like they’ve just spent time with good friends. This is a meaningful, touching story that will become your families’ favorite; you’ll want to read it again and share with friends. Thanks Melody, for a story that touches the heart and shows the love we need to show each other all year long...not just at Christmas!

Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network
www.bookfun.org

GLASSROADS TOUR - ALMOST HEAVEN - REVIEWED


About the Author:

Chris Fabry is a 1982 graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University. He is heard on Chris Fabry Live! each weekday on Moody Radio, the Love Worth Finding broadcast, and other radio programs. You may have also heard Chris cohosting programs for Focus on the Family radio. He and his wife, Andrea, live in Arizona and are the parents of nine children.

Chris's first novel for adults, Dogwood, received the 2009 Christy Award in the Contemporary Standalone category. His latest novel, June Bug, was released in July 2009. He has published more than 65 other books, including many novels for children and young adults. He coauthored the Left Behind: The Kids series with Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, as well as the Red Rock Mysteries and the Wormling series with Jerry B. Jenkins. RPM is his latest series for kids and explores the exciting world of NASCAR. Visit his Web site at http://www.chrisfabry.com/

About the Book:

Billy Allman is a hillbilly genius. People in Dogwood, West Virginia, say he was born with a second helping of brains and a gift for playing the mandolin but was cut short on social skills. Though he’d gladly give you the shirt off his back, they were right. Billy longs to use his life as an ode to God, a lyrical, beautiful bluegrass song played with a finely tuned heart. So with spare parts from a lifetime of collecting, he builds a radio station in his own home. People in town laugh. But Billy carries a brutal secret that keeps him from significance and purpose. Things always seem to go wrong for him.

However small his life seems, from a different perspective Billy’s song reaches far beyond the hills and hollers he calls home. Malachi is an angel sent to observe Billy. Though it is not his dream assignment, Malachi follows the man and begins to see the bigger picture of how each painful step Billy takes is a note added to a beautiful symphony that will forever change the lives of those who hear it.

REVIEW:
ALMOST HEAVEN

By Chris Fabry
Publishhed by Tyndale
ISBN#978-1-4143-1957-5
311 Pages

Back Cover: Billy Allman is a hillbilly genius. People in Dogwood, West Virginia, say he was born with a second helping of brains and a gift for playing the mandolin but was cut short on social skills. Though he’d gladly give you the shirt off his back, they were right. Billy longs to use his life as an ode to God, a lyrical, beautiful bluegrass song played with a finely tuned heart. So with spare parts from a lifetime of collecting, he builds a radio station in his own home. People in town laugh. But Billy carries a brutal secret that keeps him from significance and purpose.

REVIEW: I’d read and loved, June Bug by Chris Fabry. So, I anxiously awaited my review copy of Almost Heaven. Chris Fabry is a deep thinker that can explain things so simply it touches the core of your being. He reveals things about tough times and pain that can only come from experience and how he connected with our heavenly father during those times.

Chris says this about Almost Heaven, “Good stores come from real people and real life…This story was inspired by the life of James William “Billy” Allman, who died in 2009..there are only shadows from Billy’s life in this novel..I hope to have captured a little of his heart in the story as well.”

Billy and his family face title wave type waters as the dam breaks and starts wiping out homes and people in its path right at the start of this book. Billy describes the house spinning like the house in the Wizard of Oz. I imagined many of the Katrina victims went through something similar after the hurricane hit and the levy broke.

This book is written in two points of view. That of Billy and his guardian angel, named Malachi (which means messenger). I loved the angel aspect of the narrative; it brought a whole different dimension and energy to the story. It kind of reminded me of the angel in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, where the guardian angel is getting his assignment and learna about George Bailey’s life. Malachi learns about Billy Allman’s life as a boy and when he’s grown up. The angelic battle scenes weren’t as intense as those of Frank Peretti, but they are very intriguing, simple yet very powerful. Malachi says this, “Time hinders the human condition, but it does not touch me…we feel the onslaught of time only as it is experienced by those in charge. To us it is only a discipline. Time holds no sway, has no bearing on our resolve to achieve our assigned duties.”

I loved that this author showed how God uses ordinary broken people to carry out his plan here on earth. He doesn’t need us but chooses to use the most unlikely people- like those society had given up on. Billy was one of those misfits. No matter what storm hit Billy and tried to destroy him he chose to praise God with his entire being! Music was very special to Billy said, “Music has a way of filling in the missing places. It is a gift from God above, who didn’t have to provide it, but he did anyway and I half think he decided life just wouldn’t be as good without it…(he prayed) May God help you sing whatever song he has put on your heart to sing.”

This novel even brought in characters from Chris’s other books, like my favorite June Bug. She plays a minor part in this book but I was thrilled to read more about her in this story.

Chris pens a compelling, emotionally charged drama that gives the reader glimpse of hope in the darkness and will make them think outside the box we call the “normal” Christian life. He also defines the triumphant life a little differently too, “Success is not seen in the circumstances or in the pain or the good feelings. Success is sometimes just loving somebody with a love that doesn’t come back the way you want it to.”

Despite Billy’s sorrows and challenges he remains steady on a single course. Thru the struggles and triumphs Billy Allman chose to pursue God and walk in what God said about him. I loved what Billy said to Callie about her struggles and later applied it to himself, “…what happened to you doesn’t define who you are…what happened does not have to follow you…you don’t have to live in its shadow.”

I loved that and the fact that Jesus tells us the truth will set us free. Walking in what God says about us and not what the enemy is trying to make us believe puts a skip in your walk and music in your heart. Thanks Chris for a novel that is compelling, thought provoking and gives the reader hope in what seemed like hopeless situations. Thanks also for your reminder, “you don’t need your circumstances to change in order to praise God. In fact, the best place to live the Christian life and participate with God in the plan for you is right were you are!” I appreciate these words and so many more that encouraged my soul, gave me hope and touched my heart deeply.

Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

LONG TIME COMING by VANESSA MILLER - REVIEWED




This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Long Time Coming
Abingdon Press (November 1, 2010)
by
Vanessa Miller


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Vanessa Miller of Dayton, Ohio, is a best-selling author, playwright, and motivational speaker. Her stage productions include: Get You Some Business, Don’t Turn Your Back on God, and Can’t You Hear Them Crying. Vanessa is currently in the process of turning the novels in the Rain Series into stage productions.

Vanessa has been writing since she was a young child. When she wasn’t writing poetry, short stories, stage plays and novels, reading great books consumed her free time. However, it wasn’t until she committed her life to the Lord in 1994 that she realized all gifts and anointing come from God. She then set out to write redemption stories that glorify God.

To date, Vanessa has completed the Rain and Storm Series. She is currently working on the Forsaken series, Second Chance at Love series and a single title, Long Time Coming. Vanessa believes that each book will touch readers across the country in a special way. It is, after all, her God-given destiny to write and produce plays and novels that bring deliverance to God’s people. These books have received rave reviews, winning Best Christian Fiction Awards and topping numerous Bestseller’s lists.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Two women from different worlds find hope together.

Faithful Christian Deidre Clark-Morris is a professional career-minded woman with a loving husband, but no children. Kenisha Smalls has lived in poverty all her life. She has three children by three different men and has just been diagnosed with inoperable cervical cancer.

While the meeting between these two women appears accidental, it becomes their catalyst of hope. Neither woman expects the blessing that God has in store for her. While Deidre will guide Kenisha on the path to eternal life with Jesus Christ, Kenisha will teach Deidre how to stand strong against the hard-knocks of life.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Long Time Coming, go HERE

Watch the book video:



REVIEW:
LONG TIME COMING

By Vanessa Miller
Published by Abington Press
ISBN# 978-1-4267-0768-1
303 Pages

Back Cover: Faithful Christian Deidre Clark-Morris is a professional career-minded woman with a loving husband and beautiful home, but no children. Kenisha Smalls has lived in poverty her entire life and has three children by three different men. After learning that Kenisha has inoperable cervical cancer, the relationship between these two women becomes a catalyst of hope, leading them both to a place of redemption and healing.

Review: I’m thankful to have received a review copy of this bitter-sweet novel which reminded me of the Good Samaritan bible story. It’s also a book filled with the message of forgiveness, sacrifice and God’s love for us and others. The author quickly captures the readers’ attention and heart, while setting the tone of the novel from the beginning. “Twenty-three and played out. Like the words of a tired, old, blues song, Kenisha Smalls had been strung and rung out….and too young to give up.”

Deidre had a run in with Kenisha at the school she worked at when she was late to pick up her son. Deidre threatened to call social services. Deidre hated to see parents mistreat their children. They took them for granted and didn’t realize the precious gift they had. Kenisha clams up, Deidre has judged her and soon realizes that this woman wouldn’t believe the truth if she told it to her.

Deidre and her husband had tried for years to have children, but after seven years God had not blessed her womb. Was God punishing her? Deidre had a secret not even her husband, Johnson a military man who worked hard and loved the Lord, knew about. Could she tell her husband what she hid in her heart? Is that what God wanted?

Miller does a great job of setting the mood and placing readers into the skin of her characters:

Jumping in the shower, she allowed the hot water to assault her weary bones. As the steam filled the small bathroom, she wallowed in the horror story her life had become. What next? How much can happen to a person before the almighty decides it’s time to pick on someone else?

That’s how Kenisha sees God. He hadn’t been there for her when all the bad things happened, and He isn’t there now.

Deidre feels drawn to this woman and her family,”She had certainly learned that some of life’s journeys were simply too great for her, and she needed to lean on the Lord to get through them. Just as God had sent an angel to strengthen Elijah, Deirdre knew that her husband Johnson had been her angel, sent from heaven above. He had helped her move past the pain, and now she wanted to do the same for Kenisha.”

Deidre and Kenisha are the most unlikely people to become friends. It’s made possible after Deidre apologizes for judging her and wants to be there for her. Deidre says, “We all suffer from something, Kenisha. That’s a part of life-since evil has come into the world, God has no choice but to let things play out, so we can choose good over evil!...So, accepting good over evil is more like accepting God into your heart.” That was the first step.

I enjoyed the journey this novel took me on even though it had a predictable ending. There were many gold nuggets and fun moments along the way. I look forward to reading more of Vanessa Millers’ books.

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

THE MASTER'S WALL by SANDI ROG - REVIEWED











The Master’s Wall
By Sandi Rog
Published by Deward Publishing
ISBN# 978-1-936341-02-3
297 Pages











Back Cover: HE FIGHTS FOR HIS FREEDOM. SHE FIGHTS FOR HER LIFE. TOGETHER, THEY FIGHT FOR EACH OTHER. After watching Roman soldiers drag his parents away to their death, David, a young Hebrew, is sold and enslaved to serve at a villa outside of Rome. As David trains to become a skilled fighter, he works hard to please his master and hopes to earn his freedom. However, an opportunity to escape tempts him with its whispering call. Freedom beckons, but invisible chains hold him captive to the master's granddaughter, an innocent girl with a fiery spirit. David vows to protect Alethea from his master, the murderous patriarch, and contrives a daring plan—sacrifice his own life to save hers.

Review: I’m thankful to have received a review copy of this author’s powerful debut novel. Sandi Rog takes the reader on an amazing, colorful journey through history to the first century Rome, AD 76, a time when Christians risked their lives to meet together and share the gospel.

Sandi hooked me from the first page, “David tried not to cry, tried not to breathe or make a sound as he crept along the dark street… he followed the enemy. There were three of them. And they had taken his parents.”

I felt for young David as he watched the horrific scene of his parents being tortured to death. He tried to stop them but they were too big. They beat on him and left him for dead. When he awoke he found himself in a place he never dreamed he could be.

“A slave?...David had known slaves. But never had he imagined what it might mean to be one. He was to be bound to a master, to obey and do his every will” No longer free. How could this have happened?

Alethea’s a feisty, curious, little girl who gets in trouble a lot and doesn’t think twice about sharing what’s on her mind! Alethea loved to explore, stands up for what she believes in and has a vivid imagination. But this little girl’s heart is heavy; she’s lost the love of her life. She still has nightmares of seeing her dad murdered in the middle of the night. A night she should have been in bed.

Alethea noticed a slave named David has started to work at their house. She is determined to talk to him; even if it was forbidden to do so and could be punished. He looked kind and she needed a friend.

Alethea reminded David of his younger sister. He doesn’t know he wasn’t supposed to talk to her. David’s obedience, faith and courage are tested over and over; as he adjusts to the rules of a slave. He dreams of freedom but God has challenged him to share the gospel, his love and forgiveness to the people who have mistreated him.

My eyes were glued to the book as the story reached the climatic conclusion. I felt like I had my heart in my throat. I was clueless as to how this creative, sensitive author would bring this unbelievable story to an end. There were definitely twists, turns and a few surprises in store for the reader right up until the end. I love learning about history through this novel. It gave me a deep understanding of Roman culture and helped me get into the mind set of early believers.

I cared for David and Alethea and their unique situation. Sandi pens a vivid, heart wrenching story filled with great pain, loss, hope, second chances, honest emotions, forgiveness, and sacrificial love. These characters and their stories will be on your mind and in your heart long after you finish the last page. I highly recommend this historical fiction novel. I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the Iron and the Stone series. You will too!

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE TO ALL READERS!~ The first week of November, Sandi was diagnosed with Type A lymphoma --a very aggressive cancer that was manifesting on her brain. For every copy of The Master's Wall that is purchased, either paperback or Kindle, her publisher will donate a dollar to the fund to help her family with the medical bills. To order Sandi’s book click this link http://deward.com/?p=1111


Nora St. Laurent
The Book Club Network
www.bookfun.org