Sunday, November 25, 2012

Two Great Books

I received two books from Bethany House.  The first one I read was At Every Turn by Anne Mateer.  This was a fun book about a young, impetuous young lady named Alyce Benson.  In some ways, she reminded me of the apostle Peter.  She speaks first and thinks later, but her heart is in the right place.  She is willing to take a risk for the kingdom of God.  She is unconventional. 

The story is a fairly fast-paced plot that revolves around fundraising for missions and car racing in its infancy.  I found both aspects compelling.  I empathized with Alyce's desire to raise money to help missionaries on the Gold Coast of Africa.  It was also interesting to gain insight into the early race tracks and inner workings of the old-fashioned race cars.

I give this book 5 stars. 

The second book was Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden.  This book is a more serious work dealing with the opium trade and use in children's medication in the late 1800's.  The two main characters, Lydia Pallas and Alexander Banbridge, have both led hard lives.  Despite these things, Ms. Camden writes a novel full of hope and overcoming. 

On a side note, Alexander Banbridge's early life is described in the book, The Lady of Bolton Hill, but it is not necessary to read that book to enjoy Against the Tide.  (I did not even know the other book existed until after I finished this one.)

I enjoyed this book because it is a story of tenacity and striving to better the world and oneself.  Both characters are willing to do hard things to acheive a better life for themselves and others.  I greatly admire this quality.  I really felt like I got to know the characters and was better for it.

There is also a love story interwoven throughout.  This aspect was also pleasant while keeping a small level of suspense as to whether it would all work out in the end.

All told, it was a thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking read.  I give it 5 stars as well.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Refuge by Marvelle Zollars

I received this book as a gift from Mrs. Zollars for helping her in a painting class she teaches.  When she gave it to me, I inwardly cringed.  What if I didn't like it?  I didn't want to hurt her feelings.  I decided to read on chapter and see how it went.  As it turns out, I was hooked from the beginning. 

The first thing I loved about this book is the great mix of characters and how the story shows God weaving them together to save the lives of babies at risk of abortion.  The characters range from a business executive to a has been musician to a rebellious socialite to a Native American journalist.  The way they are intertwined seems entirely natural and is wonderfully inspiring. 

The second thing that I really enjoyed was the way Mrs. Zollars tackled the tricky issues like mother's who risk their lives so that their babies can be born and babies born from rape instead of love.  She also looks at homelessness, abused women, and other difficult issues in a realistic and loving way. 

This glorious story is Mrs. Zollars debut novel.  I really hope that she is published again.  I recommend this book very highly.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Constitutional Size Box

I think few Americans have read the Constitution that our elected officials have sworn to uphold. Those of us that have read it rarely stop and think about what it doesn't say. I attended a lecture about overspending in Texas. The speaker, Joann Fleming, said something along the lines of, "We need to squeeze the government back into a Constitution size box." She was speaking of the Texas State Constitution, but it got me thinking about the U. S. Constitution. So I went through and looked at it again. What if we limited the federal government to a Constitution size box? What would that look like? A shockingly different federal government than we have today. Let's take a look.

These are the ONLY matters Congress would deal with. EVERYTHING ELSE would be left to the states as per the 10th Amendment.

National Defense- Congress has the constitutional authority to send Letters of Marque and Reprisal (basically telling foreign intities off), declare war, and punish piracy. Congress has the constitutional authority to maintain an army and a navy. (2011 proposed budget- $738 billion, veterans $112 billion)

Immigration- Congress has the authority to pass laws about who can come into this country from other countries and how aliens can become citizens.

Bankruptcy- Congress has the authority to pass bankruptcy laws for citizens and businesses.

Post offices and roads- Congress has the authority to make sure the mail can get from one place to another throughout the country. (Transportaion in 2011 proposed budget $88 billion)

Patents and copyrights- Congress has the authority to pass laws protecting the intellectual property of citizens and businesses.

Appoint courts- Congress has the authority to decide where courts will be (but they do not appoint judges).

Laws for federal areas- Congress has the authority to make laws for federal areas such as DC, forts, arsenals, and dockyards.

National currency- Congress has the constitutional authority to mint coins for use within the United States.

In order to fulfill these obligations, Congress may lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises. They may also borrow money. (Net interest in 2011 proposed budget- $251 billion)

If Congress concerned itself with only these things, it would shrink our national budget buy about two thirds (or two trillion dollars).

Sunday, August 12, 2012

This book hit the spot!

I recently read Almost Amish by Kathryn Cushman.  I enjoyed this book so much because it dealt with an issue that I find challenging in a charming, non-preachy manner.  The heart of the book is about striving for excellence while not getting caught up having to do it all.  It is about using the gifts God gives us and being OK with saying no to other activities.  This book is about focusing your life on what God wants from you instead of focusing on what the PTA or the soccer club or the church benevolence committee wants from you. 

Not only are the lessons worth learning, but the story is engaging.  The setting is a reality TV show called Almost Amish.  Two sisters-in-law with very different goals and views spend the summer with their kids living a "simple" life in a country house amongst Amish neighbors.  The interactions between the women, kids, and TV show staff are really well done.  The author does a great job of helping you see all the points of view and leading you toward godly thought on some of these tough issues.

I really hope that you will give this book a shot!  It may just change your family for the better. 

Many thanks to the folks at Bethany House for giving me a copy of this book to review.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Mystery with a Romantic Twist

I had a great time reading Love in Disguise by Carol Cox.  It is more a mystery book than a romance novel, but that made it a breath of fresh air in many ways.  The main character, Ellie, is a Pinkerton detective that must use disguises in order to be able to glean the information she needs to find out who has been stealing the silver from the miners in Pickford, AZ.  The mystery is interesting and fairly exciting, but the thing I like most is Ellie herself.  She is resourceful, spunky, and comes to realize that she has a lot to offer the world as just plain Ellie.

The romantic twist to the book is fun too.  I would enjoy reading a second book about Ellie and Steven (one of the miners).

So thanks Bethany House for giving me this book to review.  I really enjoyed it!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Can we really withstand any more "Hope and Change"?

How's that hope and change working out for you?  The Fox video above gives straight statistics about how it is not working for most Americans.  Yet I fear that the promise of more hope and change will people to vote for President Obama again.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Duties of Church Leaders

Gary DeMar wrote a three volume set called God and Government.  I am reading through the first one now.  In the second chapter, I found the most clearly articulated summary of what elders' duties are.  This a paraphrase from p. 41.

Elders are to
1.  Guide the church away from sinful behavior.
2.  Guide the church to doctrinal purity.
3.  Guide people to repentance.
4.  Expel those unwilling to repent.
5.  Restore those who are truly repentant.
6.  Settle disputes among believers.

I would love to hear opinions on this list and whether you think that your elders, bishops, pastors, shepherds (or whatever you call them) spend most of their time doing these things.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Prize of My Heart

Prize of My Heart is a great read by Lisa Norato.  I enjoyed this story for three reasons.  It wasn't as predictable as many Christian historical romance novels are; there were plot turns that surprised me.  The setting (1815 near Boston) was not as familiar to me as the more typical frontier setting.  I enjoyed learning about the American privateer an aspect of history I'd not thought much about.  The last thing I enjoyed were the life lessons shown through the characters:  God can use any evil in your life to bring about good, God is always with you, and family is connected by love not blood.  I encourage others to give this book a try.  I do not think you will be disappointed.  I am grateful to Bethany House for letting me review this book.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Fools Who Follow Him

Godfather Politics has a great article about wealth "redistribution".  The ending quote translated from a Czech paper is the kicker.

“The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools, such as those who made him their President.” — Translated from Czech Republic Newspaper Prager Zeitung (April 28, 2010.)

The lack of common sense and good judgement found in the people of this nation is due in large part to the failure of the church to educate and train people in cultural issues such as government, law, and economics.  My own church, for example, refuses to take a stand on any cultural issue that is controversial.  Now, mind you, they don't mind taking stands on theological issues that are (at least in our denomination) controversial.  But cultural issues. . . well that's another story.  Those might make us seem divisive or legalistic or something else unpleasant.  And so of the 2-3,000 voting age people at our church, I am sure that hundreds if not a thousand of them voted for Pres. Obama.  In general the church has no concept of the different authorities God has given the various governments (self, family, church, civil).  For example, they will site that we are to take care of the poor.  But this is a function of the family first (the poor within your family), then the church, then the community, and not the civil government.  Many Christians have the skewed view that if its a good idea (marriage counseling, healthy food, saving money for retirement) that the civil government should do it.  But this leads to a massive, corrupt, godless government.  And then the church moans, "If only the government would do something!"

So I applaud Prager Zeitung for their insight and wonder if it is the year they spent under communism that allows them to have this insight and state is so well.  And will we have to spend some time under an equally tyrannical regime before we can realize the same and begin the change staring with ourselves (how educated are you on the biblical perspective of law, government, and economics), our families (what are you teaching your kids), and our churches (if you are in a place of influence are you using it to spread the truth).

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sixty Acres and a Bride

I was privelidged to receive a copy of Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings from Bethany House Publishers.  The fabric of this story is as finely embroidered as the clothes the main heroine (Rosa) wears.  Set in post Civil War south Texas, there enough historical flare to keep the story interesting.  You will find the story reminiscent of the Biblical account of Ruth and Naomi, but with enough twists and turns to keep it interesting.  This book is about love and loss, finding one's place in a new community, sticking with friends and family in need, and trusting in the Lord.  I really enjoyed reading it and hope you will give this debut novel a try.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

What Grows from Your Heart? makes it to the front page of Etsy!

And I already got a commitment to buy from a lady in Australia, but I had to update the shipping for that country. An exciting way to start a Saturday!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Something to Celebrate

There is a great post from FRC about Texas cutting off the flow of money to Planned Parenthood and how clinics are closing left and right.  I think this is in part because prayer in TX has increased against abortion especially via 40 Days for Life.  Despite the bleakness out there, there are still things to celebrate and praise God for!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Captive Heart by Dale Cramer

I received the book The Captive Heart by Dale Cramer from Bethany House for review.  I really enjoyed the first book in this series (The daughters of Caleb Bender) and was super excited to get to review this second book.  It is a series based on true events in which an Amish community moves to Mexico (Paradise Valley) so that their children will not be forced to attend an "English" school.

The Captive Heart picks up right where Paradise Valley  leaves off.  It is just as well written and gives intriguing insight into the lives of the Amish and the Mexicans living around them.  The love stories seem honest and realistic.  The story is thrilling at times and the historical facts seem well researched.

Yet I couldn't love this book as much as the first one.  The whole complete pacifist nature of the Amish tradition began to grate on my nerves after a while.  I don't fault them for standing up for what they believe.  They are a testament of faith even when they are the only ones going in that direction.  I just don't see their point of view in the Bible so it is hard for me to read it without getting annoyed.  Somehow this was not such a major factor in the first book so I didn't mind so much.  And let's face it, self-defending Amish would have been out of place.  I think Mr. Cramer did a good job sticking with the Amish values.  It is just tiring to me to read.

In the end, I give the book 4 stars and still look forward to reading the third one.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Kuwaiti Prince Publically Converts to Christianity

HT to Godfather Politics

One of the Kuwaiti princes has converted to Christianity according to Iranian TV.  The source is an audio recording of the man saying that he approves of its distribution and knows that he will likely face death but believes that he will then see Jesus.  Of course, another Kuwaiti prince denies that the man named is really a prince.  I tend to believe the Iranians.  Let's all pray for this prince and his bold actions.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Complete Lunacy of the EPA

Godfather Politics has an interesting article about the EPA.    It is worth reading the whole thing.  Here is a little quote from it.

With no real supply of cellulosic biofuel to be had, the fuel companies were unable to comply with the EISA requirements, the Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with their plans to impose fines on the fuel companies for failing to meet the guidelines.  And if the fuel companies are unable to get their hands on 8.65 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel this year to meet the requirements, they’ll face even stiffer fines.

I suppose the EPA would be glad if "Big Oil" just stopped selling their non-compliant fuel.  Of course, those of us that rely on fuel to get to our jobs would be SOL.  But the planet would be "safe".  (Insert eye roll here.)  The whole thing is so ludicrous that I can't even put it into words.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Help Stop Trafficking from Nepal to India

I recently discovered a mother and family (homeschooling with 6 kids) who has taken the grief of losing a little one (Tiggy aged 22 months) and turned it into sharing Jesus with some of the world's most vulnerable.  They are raising money to build a home for Nepalese girls (average age 14, but some as young as 6) who are vulnerable to or victims of the Indian sex trade.  Please visit their site to learn more about this terrible problem and to help out by praying and/or donating.