Saturday, February 28, 2009

TSMSS - Revisiting an Old Favorite

One of the advantages of getting old not being the youngest one on the block is the enjoyment of experiences and memories that occurred when some of you blogging babes were wee things - or maybe not even born!

In my weekly search for songs each week to feature here, I've encountered many of those memories! I've posted quite a of the old hymns sung by groups that perform with the Gaithers on their Homecoming series and also with the Gaither Vocal Band. The recent release of the Gaither Vocal Band Reunion, Volume 1 and Gaither Vocal Band Reunion, Volume 2 took me back quite a few years to 1980 and 1981. I remember when the group first formed when I was in college! In fact, back then it was called The New Gaither Vocal Band. (They dropped the "new" around 1985.)

And the tenor in the very first group was none other than. . . .Steve Green! (I remember hearing him perform with the Gaithers and also when he was getting his start as a soloist performing in individual churches.) The initial group was comprised of Bill Gaither, Lee Young, Steve Green, and Gary McSpadden. Jon Mohr soon joined the group when Lee Young left. (Later, in 1983 when Steve Green moved on to his solo career, Larnelle Harris became the group's tenor for 4 years!)

Here is a song that was on The New Gaither Vocal Band's second album (Passin' the Faith Along), recorded on the Reunion DVD by the group that originally sang it: Steve Green, Jon Mohr, Gary McSpadden (one of the composers of the song) and Bill Gaither. This has always been one of my favorite classic GVB songs - what an incredible truth: No Other Name But Jesus!


Above His name there is no other name,
The One Who is eternally the same,
There is no other name.
The first and last, beginning and the end,
He was the King who made the common man His friend.
There is no other name.
Let every tongue proclaim,
And sing the name of Jesus
Magnify and praise the name of Jesus,
No other name but Jesus.
There is power in the precious name of Jesus, Jesus
Messiah, King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus.

He created all that is with His own hands.
And yet your smallest need He understands
There is no other name.
The One Who said ”I am the great I AM.”
And then He gave Himself a sacrifice for man.
There is no other name.
Let every tongue proclaim,
And sing the name of Jesus.
Magnify and praise the name of Jesus,
No other name but Jesus
There is power in the precious name of Jesus, Jesus.
Forever He shall reign as King of kings.
He’s Lord of all and every living thing.
From now on we’ll worship Him
And praise the name of Jesus.

Written by Gary McSpadden/Billy Smiley/Chris Christian, 1983
Be sure to go by Amy's blog for more songs to bless your weekend!


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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Review - Daisy Chain

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Daisy Chain

Zondervan (March 1, 2009)


Mary DeMuth


Mary E. DeMuth is an expert in Pioneer Parenting. She enables Christian parents to navigate our changing culture when their families left no good faith examples to follow.

Her parenting books include Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House, 2007), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005).

Mary also inspires people to face their trials through her real-to-life novels, Watching The Tree Limbs (nominated for a Christy Award) and Wishing On Dandelions (NavPress, 2006).

Mary has spoken at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, the ACFW Conference, the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, and at various churches and church planting ministries. Mary and her husband, Patrick, reside in Texas with their three children. They recently returned from breaking new spiritual ground in Southern France, and planting a church.


The abrupt disappearance of young Daisy Chance from a small Texas town in 1977 spins three lives out of control—Jed, whose guilt over not protecting his friend Daisy strangles him; Emory Chance, who blames her own choices for her daughter’s demise; and Ouisie Pepper, who is plagued by headaches while pierced by the shattered pieces of a family in crisis.

In this first book in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy, fourteen-year-old Jed Pepper has a sickening secret: he’s convinced it’s his fault his best friend Daisy went missing. Jed’s pain sends him on a quest for answers to mysteries woven through the fabric of his own life and the lives of the families of Defiance, Texas. When he finally confronts the terrible truths he’s been denying all his life, Jed must choose between rebellion and love, anger and freedom.

Daisy Chain is an achingly beautiful southern coming-of-age story crafted by a bright new literary talent. It offers a haunting yet hopeful backdrop for human depravity and beauty, for terrible secrets and God’s surprising redemption.

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

This is a haunting and achingly compelling book about lives that aren't all sunshine and roses. It reminded me in some ways of To Kill a Mockingbird, as both novels present a less-than-ideal world as viewed through the raw lens of a child trying to make sense of it all. As a mom, I found it difficult to read at times. I found myself hurting with Jed as he tries to process the pain in his life - Daisy's disappearance, his preacher-father's public personna contrasted with the man he becomes behind closed doors, the interactions with the other folks in the town, his desperate longing and tentative attempts to be a man - and as he tries to come to terms with how God fits into all of it. On page 252, he wonders,
Should he pray? To God? Again? What good would it do? Would God even hear a prayer from someone who yelled at dogs? Hap said prayer didn't change God so much as it changed you. Well, if that was true, and Hap was a praying man like he said he was, God hadn't seemed to keep up his end of the bargain. Hadn't changed Hap ... for the better ... as far as Jed could see, that is.
Hope and grace come to Jed from unexpected sources. Among other things, this book reminds us of the importance of looking beyond the surface and allowing God to use us to be "tangible proof that [a hurting individual] matters to someone."

Happy Thoughtful Reading!


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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

When the Rubber Meets the Road

How easy it is to study God's sovereignty and wax eloquently on one's beliefs. Beliefs that are very dear to my heart, especially in the Big Matters of Life.

But when the mama claws come out because I discover that, in spite of lengthy discussions and reassurances, the high school has not had my boy in Math & English classes (for the past year and a half!) taught by a teacher with the particular certification required by his level (only discovered because of the confusion raised in registering my girl) it brings it down to a whole 'nother level. I was absolutely furious yesterday, particularly because of the struggles he had in Algebra II last year. I kept thinking "if only he'd had the other teacher."

And then a little voice spoke to me - "Is God sovereign over the little things or just the big things?"

That doesn't mean we don't take action to fix mistakes, but it sure puts a different -and eternal - perspective on it.

But don't mess with my kids!


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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Spectacular Sins - Chapter 5

Welcome to this week's edition of the Spectacular Sins Book Club. This was a relatively short chapter, but don't let that fool you: there is much to ponder and wrestle with. Chapter 5 is titled The Pride of Babel and the Praise of Christ: How the Judgment of God Brings Joyful Acclaim to Christ. If you are not familiar with or need to refresh your memory on the story of the Tower of Babel, you can read the account found in Genesis 11:1-9 and then consider Missy's questions and my responses.

1) What were the primary motivations of the people who endeavored to build the Tower of Babel?

As stated in verse 4, they wanted to "make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth." As Piper explains however, these were "outward expressions of the inward sins," namely, love of praise and love of security (p. 67).

2) Why did God consider it a sin to live in a city?

God had specifically told Noah and his sons when they left the ark to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth." (Genesis 9:1) And apparently they started out in obedience. Genesis 11:2 says they traveled from the east and settled in a plain in the land of Shinar. But then they decided that they would take matters into their own hands to ensure that they stayed in that spot and were not scattered further across the earth. How quickly the lesson of the flood was forgotten as they turned their back on God and continued down their own path.

3) Of the five ways that Christ's glory is magnified by the spectacular sin of the Tower of Babel (pp 69-72) which one resonates with you the most, and why?

The five ways Piper believes the Tower of Babel & God's resulting judgment magnify God's glory are:
  • Christians Guarded
  • Pride Destroyed
  • Every Group Claimed
  • The Gospel Glorified
  • Jesus Praised

This is a tough question because I could pick any of the 5. But ultimately they all point to the last one, that Jesus is praised as "a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. . .and crying out with a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'" (Rev. 7:9-10)

What an incredible deomonstration of Christ's glory and grace: it was His judgment that dispersed them throughout the world and confused their languages, separating them into many peoples, and yet in His grace and mercy He provided salvation for all and brought them back together as one in praise and worship!

There are few things as frustrating as being unable to communicate with someone who speaks another language (such as in an airport or restaurant). Conversely, nothing is as beautiful as standing among believers of another language and singing a song of praise together, each in your own tongue.

4) Can you provide an example of the way that the Gospel of Christ takes root in literally thousands of different cultures, despite language barriers, social mores, existing religious practices, etc.? What does this say about the "uniqueness" of Christianity?

Although I am certainly not an expert on world religions, I know that most of them remain primarily and overwhelmingly represented by the culture in which they began. For example, Buddhism is generally an Asian religion, Hinduism is found primarily among the peoples of India, Islam is a Middle Eastern religion. Christianity, however, is found in every culture and society. And there are large numbers of Christian believers who have converted from these other religions. From the very beginning, the aim & charge of Christianity as been to "go and make disciples of all nations" and to be witnesses "to the ends of the earth." Just within the last 3 years or so, my own church has had 4 couples/families uproot and move into 6-month or full-time missions efforts in Asia, New Zealand, and North America. And last week a woman in my Sunday morning class led her Buddhist coworker to the Lord. The gospel is "the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes." Romans 1:16

5) How are you also guilty of sin in the ways the Tower of Babel builders were? Where do you seek comfort apart from the Lord?

Ouch. Missy would make this personal! That sin nature is alive and well in me as well. I, too, like to receive the praise of others. While I don't have visions of being known throughout the earth such as celebrities and others who are seen on TV and in the news, I like people to notice me when I do something well. I like approval from others. I like comments on my blog. LOL And pretty soon, when I get any of that, I decide it's because I am so wonderful and deserving, not because of God's matchless grace.

6) My husband often says that at the root of every sin is pride (and I have yet to be able to prove him wrong). Was this true in the case of these people? How can you confront and rebuke your own pride?

The people of Babel definitely had a problem with pride. They wanted everyone to look at how wonderful they were. The best way to confront and rebuke pride is 1) old-fashiond confession and repentance, and 2) fixing my eyes on Jesus. Some folks think putting themselves down all the time shows their lack of pride, but ANY extreme focus on ourselves is pride. I like the definition that humility is not thinking of others more than yourself, but not thinking of yourself at all. In the Bible, anyone who got even a glimpse of the Lord immediately fell prostrate and recognized their own sin. No justification of why they did what they did, just complete repentance and falling upon the mercy of God. One of the saddest verses in the Bible is Psalm 10:4: "In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God." If I'm filled with me, there won't be room for Him. If I'm filled with Him, I won't care about room for me. Oh, that there would always be room for God in my thoughts, in my heart, in my life!

Be sure to read the other responses at The Preacher's Wife!


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Monday, February 23, 2009

My Own (Anti)Oscar, Presented by My Teen

While the eyes of many were focused on who was winning an Oscar for Best Whatever last night, I swept my own category hands down.

I am apparently the World's Worst Mom.

How innocently we do things for our children when they are small, endeavoring to make their lives fun and meaningful and full of special times. Then as they grow up and life gets busy, we put away childish things, not realizing that they view them as Traditions Etched in Stone.

Because it's such a big deal to a preschooler to reach the milestone of being, say, 3 and a half, I used to celebrate it. I would make my kids half of a cake, put the current number of candles plus half of a candle on it, and we would sing Happy Half-Birthday to You. No gifts (or half-gifts) were involved, and since their birthdays are 12 days apart, it was a piece of cake (so to speak!) to do it. I'd make a whole recipe of our traditional chocolate cake, pop one layer in the freezer for the next 1/2 birthday, and cut, stack, and frost the other one for the first child's half-birthday.

And since all 4 of our birthdays are clumped together in just over a month, it brought some fun to the other half of the year. Of course, my man and I don't care to commemorate such half-milestones for ourselves; the whole birthdays come fast enough as it is! But it was a sweet family time when the kids were young and we continued through elementary school.

I really thought my kids were past this stage, as a couple of years ago both of their half-birthdays came and went without any of us realizing it. What a fool naive woman I was!

But alas, yesterday, my girl remembered hers. And in spite of the fact that we were home a whopping 10 minutes between 9 AM and 8 PM, she bemoaned the fact that she didn't have her 1/2 cake. She was marginally placated with a wrap & a slush from Sonic.

Maybe I should have given them a wretched, miserable childhood so they wouldn't have such high expectations!

Beware, young moms: it all comes back to bite you when they're teenagers!


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Saturday, February 21, 2009

TSMSS - A Tribute in Memory

Probably my all-time favorite instrument is the piano. My iPod contains quite a few piano hymns and other songs. I enjoy lively piano music, and when I don't feel good nothing relaxes me like quiet piano music. I beg your indulgence as I've posted several songs below in memory of a wonderfully gifted pianist who blessed so many and, thanks to technology, still touches lives today.

Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of the homegoing of Anthony Burger. If you are familiar with any of the Gaither Homecoming or Gaither Vocal Band recordings, many of which I've featured here for TSMSS, you've seen him accompanying the musicians. Born on June 5, 1961 (just a couple of months before I was!), he died suddenly on February 22, 2006 at the age of 44 while performing with the Gaithers on a cruise in the Caribbean.

His giftedness at the piano would be laudable under any circumstances. However, when you consider what happened to him as a baby, it is a miracle and an amazing testimony to the grace and power of God working in his life.

When Anthony was just eight months old as he was learning to walk in a walker, one of the wheels of the walker got caught on the furnace grate and the walker turned over, throwing him down on the heater. He sustained third degree burns throughout his legs, face and hands. He had to be carried on a pillow for an entire year, during which time he received three medicated baths a day for the burns. Doctors who treated him said he would never be able to move his hands. But God had a plan for his life and his hands. At age 3, Anthony played his first song, The Old Rugged Cross, and was just five years old when he became the youngest student ever to be accepted by the Chattanooga Cadek Conservatory.

Anthony died suddenly during a piano performance, on Wednesday evening, February 22 [2006] aboard a Caribbean cruise, as it sailed in the Atlantic Ocean. According to the official medical examiner's report, Burger's heart simply burst. He was on board the ms Zuiderdam with his wife LuAnn, Bill & Gloria Gaither, many of his Homecoming friends and more than 1500 passengers, doing exactly what he loved best, playing the piano.

His life could easily be summed up with a quote that he himself once stated, "I am a simple man, with a majestic instrument and the power of God behind me." That's the life he lived. That's the life he loved, and that's the legacy he leaves.


He talks about the accident and how he would like to be remembered here in an interview interspersed with some of his playing:

In another interview, regarding the fact that he wasn't supposed to be able to use his hands, he says "I still can't move them. He does." He won numerous awards and his CDs are still available, both on Amazon and his website. Now he's playing the piano in glory.

I love this video of his last Christmas Homecoming performance, filmed in South Africa just two months before he died. Of course, there's no song like the Hallelujah Chorus and he absolutely tears up the piano! I love the absolute joy on his face as he's playing.

Finally, here is an unbelievable medley of Great is Thy Faithfulness, How Big is God, and How Great Thou Art. He starts out simply and by the end he raises the roof!

He truly worshipped God with his playing. As I am stirred by these videos and yet realizes that it pales in comparison to what he's experiencing now, it boggles my mind. But my heart also aches for his wife, daughter, and 2 sons that he left behind, for I can imagine how difficult these past 3 years have been.

Find more songs for your Saturday at Amy's!


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Friday, February 20, 2009

Where Did It Go?

Yesterday was the Big Day.

For more than a week, my girl has been counting down with much anticipation to reach yesterday's milestone event. No, it wasn't a birthday, a party, a concert or a school holiday.

The high school counselors came and talked to the 8th graders about next year's schedules!

Armed with the course catalog and papers detailing required courses and electives, she eagerly came home and pulled me on the couch with her to pencil in a tentative 4-year plan. Monday night we actually go to the high school for the presentations by the various departments. She can't wait to meet the Fine Arts teachers as she's trying to figure out how to manage both orchestra (she plays viola) and choir, especially on a varsity level when they might be "double-blocked." (The kids have A & B days with half their classes each day, so a few classes like band, athletics, and possibly varsity choir are assigned two class periods so they go every day.) Dinnertime conversation was filled with discussions of Pre-AP classes and P.E. choices and homework loads and all manner of high school things. Of course, much of it we've been through with my boy, and she enjoyed asking him lots of questions, but the music is a new twist.

She is so excited and has been smiling from ear to ear. "I'm really going to high school!"

I certainly wouldn't ever want to hold her back, but my smile is a little wistful. This is my baby, after all. Seems like just yesterday she was sucking her thumb and playing peek-a-boo.

Picture credit: stock.xchng


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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Winners & Wanderers

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2009-02-19 18:12:57 UTC

Congrats to Michele Williams and Xandra, winners of Outlaw Marshal! Send me your addresses, ladies, and I'll get the books in the mail to you.

* * * * * * *

It's interesting to me how God sometimes works in a thematic way in our lives. We read or study something, and suddenly it's as if everywhere we turn that particular truth is demonstrated.

We discussed God's sovereignty over evil and His permissive and causative will as it relates to sin in this week's post for the Spectacular Sins Book Club. And while aspects of this are hard for our finite minds to grasp and even conceive of, one thing is certain: God is never caught off guard by the evil that surrounds us, and His glory will be manifest in its fullest in the fullness of time.

In the meantime, however, we grieve over this sin-sick world. Be sure to read Vicki Courtney's latest Virtue Alert for a timely and urgent reminder about conversations we need to be having with our kids in light of the recent news of the baby fathered by a 13-year-old boy.

And just this week a TV station here aired a story about a website being heavily promoted in the major cities in Texas. I won't link to the actual site for obvious reasons, but this is an infidelity site. Similar to dating services, individuals can become members in order to find someone with whom they can break their marriage vows. From the news story, you can see the taglines for the site include "When divorce isn't an option" and "Life is short. Have an affair."

I find it interesting that a defense/rationalization the founder gives for people using this site is "religious background". (As in, people have suppressed desires because of their religious backgrounds or they might not divorce because of that.) Last time I checked, the Bible was pretty straightforward in its views on adultery!

But really, none of this should surprise us. . . .

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,
19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.
20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools
23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.
27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.
29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,
30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;
31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
(Romans 1:18-32)

Tens of thousands of people in Texas have signed up with this service, with 3 million total users of the site. And sadly, many don't seem to realize that those who think so little of their marital vows have no foundation for integrity in any other aspect of their lives. I shudder to think what sort of business decisions they are making and the non-values they are teaching their kids. May God have mercy on our society.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


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Book Review - Tender Grace

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Tender Grace

Bethany House (February 1, 2009)


Jackina Stark


I have also spoken nationally and internationally at many retreats and seminars and enjoy running into many readers and former students. I have written frequently for both Christian Standard and Lookout, periodicals of Standard Publishing. Years ago I wrote two non-fiction books, published by College Press, but currently out of print. These days, I’m exploring fiction. My first novel, Tender Grace, will be released by Bethany House January 30, 2009, and a second, Things Worth Remembering, will be released in October, 2009. I’m working on new projects, including a third novel, as time permits. Whether speaking or writing, I love the opportunity to tell about Him whom Jesus called “Holy Father” and “the only true God.”

She lives in Joplin, Missouri with her husband, and she spends most of her free time doing is reading and writing. That is what she usually do when she's not teaching, enjoying the children and grandchildren, or sitting on the back porch drinking a Diet Coke and watching her husband till the garden!


Audrey Eaton awakes at three in the morning and gets up to retrieve her husband, Tom, from the recliner where he has fallen asleep watching a ball game. But when she enters the living room and looks at his gentle face in the soft lamp light, she knows their time together is over. Grief attacks her until all she can think about is how much she wants her old life back. Determined to find healing, she embarks on a journey to the one place Tom and she always intended to visit but never did. Along the way, she discovers, through shared experiences with friends old and new, the meaning of the "tender graces" God provides each and every day.

I've quit reading--even bestsellers, even the newspaper, even my Bible. I've also quit listening to music. This lack of appreciation for things I once loved is beginning to define me. More mornings than I can count, I say to myself before I open my eyes, "I don't want to do this." In the days shortly following Tom's death, that made sense, but what does it mean now? That I'm in trouble? One of the best qualities of the former me was thankfulness. As I was trying to sleep last night, needing Tom to be curled up behind me, his left arm slung across me, I realized to my horror that I couldn't remember the last time I was truly thankful. I think of a line from an old hymn: "Awake, my soul, and sing." I miss Tom. I also miss me. Determined to find healing, Audrey Eaton embarks on a trip to the one place she and her husband always intended to visit but never did. When things don't go as planned, will she embrace the unexpected graces that guide her journey?

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

This is a wonderful story with a beautiful title. When I began reading the first dozen or so pages I honestly wasn't sure if I was going to like it. I felt as if I were plodding through it and there was no energy. As I kept going, though, I realized that my feelings were not the result of a poorly written book, but just the opposite: Jackina (pronounced like China) Stark perfectly captured what Audrey's days were like as she indeed was plodding through them with no energy, overwhelmed in her grief over her husband's death. As she sets out on her trip with her husband's Bible as her only companion, she discovers hope & a reason to embrace life again within the pages of the gospel of John. When she encounters unexpected obstacles, circumstances, and opportunities on her trip, she discovers that God's mercies are new every morning and His tender graces are more than enough to see her through.

Happy Reading


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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Book Review & Giveaway

Take a trip into the Old West with this book!


A good deed grants outlaw Whipley Langford early release from prison and a friendship with Chief U.S. Marshal John Brockman. Another good deed gets Whip framed for murder and looking at life through a hangman’s noose. John arrives just in time to reveal the true murderers and lead Whip to Christ.

A new man and a fast draw, Whip becomes Brockman’s deputy. Life is still fast and dangerous, and there’s a pretty lady Whip would like to get to know better too. Before he admits his love, Whip is shot in a bank robbery. Survival looks slim until he awakens to hear his lady confess her love. Weeks later, they are married.

Readers who are familiar with the Journeys of the Stranger and Angel of Mercy series reunite with well-loved characters John and Breanna Brockman. Western history buffs will enjoy a wholesome, fast-paced story where the Gospel is presented clearly. Christian readers will learn how to lean on the Lord in times of trial and non-Christians will have the opportunity to make Christ their Savior.

About The Authors:
Al Lacy is an evangelist and author of more than one hundred historical and western novels, including the Journeys of the Stranger, Angel of Mercy, and Mail Order Bride series, with more than three million books in print. JoAnna Lacy, Al’s wife and longtime collaborator, is a retired nurse. The Lacys have been married over forty years and live in the Colorado Rockies.

My Thoughts:
Books are as varied as the people who write them. . .and those who read them. This is a wholesome story of an outlaw-turned-marshal who, in spite of deciding to turn from his life of crime didn't see his need to turn to God in the process. This book picks up where the two previous (and very popular) series by Al Lacy left off. While I enjoyed the overall plot and message of the book, I felt that it was a bit too syrupy and unrealistic in its portrayal of the individuals for my particular taste. Even the children were perfectly well-behaved and spiritually mature in all of their conversations. I found myself longing for one of these Christians to have a grumpy or unkind moment! And in keeping with the "old-time" style of preaching and witnessing, U.S. Marshal John Brockman's attempts to win Whip to Christ were unrelenting and based solely on the threat of hell, which I felt were a little overbearing. Yet while I'm glad the pendulum has swung away from that extreme, I think folks would be prudent to give that a little more consideration in today's easy grace environment.

The publisher has graciously provided 2 copies of this book for me to give away here. Please leave a comment on this post by noon CST Thursday (2/19) and I will draw 2 winners. (Continental US residents only) I'll be eager to know your thoughts!

Happy Reading!


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When Wednesday is Monday

Every week has its Monday. And since this week's "calendar Monday" was a school holiday, apparently the "aggravating Monday" decided to land today. Which is surely why the curling iron grabbed my fingers instead of my hair this morning, leaving a ridge on one finger and a blister on my thumb. Guess that's what they mean by blistering hot.

And surely must explain why, as I was setting up the DVD for Bible Study like I've done numerous times, I pushed the wrong button, made the screen go black, and had to call the Worship Pastor in to fix it for me.

And it must be why, as I was running late to a meeting at the school about schedules for next year, I decided to whip into Sonic for lunch to take with me, since the meeting was a brown bag lunch meeting. I rarely eat fast food hamburgers. Thus in my attempt to order a simple and small cheeseburger, I ended up with a double meat, double cheese monstrosity. And their sweet tea? Should be called not-so-sweet tea. (I'd already been reminded of my Chick-fil-A withdrawal fast deprivation by Lisa TerKeurst's post this morning!)

Sigh. Is it bedtime yet?!


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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Spectacular Sins - Chapter 4

Whew! If you are looking for some light reading to idly pass the time, Spectacular Sins isn't the book to grab. But if you want to think, wrestle with truth, be stirred, and ultimately worship the omniscient, omnipotent, sovereign God we serve - this one fits the bill.

Chapter 4 sounds benign enough. Titled The Fatal Sin of Adam and the Triumphant Obedience of Christ, one might expect it to be a treatise on how Christ was somewhat of a Plan B (albeit a beyond-wonderful Plan B!) after humanity messed up God's wonderful creation.

But this is a book on God's sovereignty, remember? So Piper walks us down the path of God's permissive will and God's causative will. And among these mind-bending truths, we discover that Christ was Plan A after all. As Piper says,
Saving grace was given to us before the ages began. That is, it was given to us before there was any human sin to save us from. Therefore, grace was planned before human sin was there to need it. . .God did not find sin in the world and then make a plan to remedy it. He had the plan before the ages, and that plan was for the glory of sin-conquering grace through the death of Jesus Christ." (pp. 58-59)

That might be a new concept for some, but the idea comes straight from Scriptures. Piper cites Revelation 13:8, 2 Timothy 1:9, Ephesians 1:4-6. I Peter 1:19-21 also speaks of Christ's sacrifice being ordained before the creation of the world.

Ah, no wimpy theology here! Which is good, because Piper reminds us that wimpy Christians with wimpy worldviews will not survive the days ahead. So in the discussion this week at The Preacher's Wife blog, Lisa challenges us to wrestle with a foundational question that we must know how to answer within our own minds and to biblically defend when asked by those who question our faith:

We are going to approach this week's discussion a little differently. I know there was much more to this chapter than what I've presented but I believe this issue of why bad things happen to "good people" is one that is foundational in our arsenal of answers for those who do not yet believe in Christ. It's a huge hangup and one which we need to be able to address biblically.

So here is the one scenario I have for you today:

You are in a coffee shop reading your Bible. A stranger sits beside you and asks, "How can you believe in a God who allows terrorists to fly into towers or children to starve and die?"

Based on all we've learned so far, what do you say?

First of all, I think it's important to distinguish the difference between answering a ridiculing skeptic vs. a genuinely questioning seeker. Obviously, we must follow the Spirit's leading in discerning how much we allow others to engage us in debates. Jesus Himself refused to enter into some conversations that were simply aimed at being inflammatory. I don't know of anyone who has been argued into the kingdom of God! Having said that, with someone who is truly perplexed and trying to sort out this dilemma, it is a conversation that can be entered into with love and humility, yet confidence in God's word.

As Piper pointed out (and Lisa highlights as well), Proverbs 16:4 says "The LORD works out everything for his own ends — even the wicked for a day of disaster." He has an ultimate purpose and plan for everything. Everything. "Even the wicked." He has a plan and a purpose that is greater than anything we can even comprehend. We don't have to understand the "how" to understand the "what."

Revelation 17:17 says "For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God's words are fulfilled." He has not given up one iota of control. He has allowed Satan to rule in order for His purpose and His words to be fulfilled. We know that one purpose He has is that He (and Jesus Christ) will be glorified. This is seen in several instances in Scripture when "bad things" happen to people. When Lazarus died, Jesus declared that "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it."(John 11:4)

With the man born blind - some might claim that to be at odds with a loving God - Jesus said ". . this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." (John 9:3) When Job lost all, he asked "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" (Job 2:9) when he was urged to curse God & die. And we think nothing could seem as evil as the persecution and martyrdom of believers, yet Jesus even indicated that Peter's horrific death would glorify God. (John 21:19)

I love how Piper puts it on p. 56: "Sooner or later every rebellion comes to ruin and serves to glorify Christ."

In our society of continuous news coverage and the interent that puts the world on our fingers, we can erroneously begin to presume that we should be privy to know what God knows. As if! Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us that His thoughts and ways are far above and beyond ours. Yet we can trust Him in faith to bring it all to fruition.

Of course, the ultimate example of a "bad thing happening to a good person" is Job. And yet, after all his confusion and questioning and wondering, God's response in Job 38-41, which basically says "I AM and who are you to dispute Me?" leads Job to say "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, 'Who is this that obscures My counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know." (Job 42:2-3)

As Piper says, "We do not make him what he is by thinking a certain way about him. . .We don't decide what he is going to be like. He decides what we are going to be like. He created the universe, and it has the meaning he gives it, not the meaning we give it. If we give it a meaning different from his, we are fools. And our lives will be tragic in the end." (p. 57) That's a vital truth that moral relativists and those who preach humanistic gospels need to grasp.

This example pales in comparison, but imagine someone saying to an ill individual: "How can you put your trust in and go to those doctors? They can't really be doctors - they certainly don't care about you. They're out to harm you, not help you. After all, one of them cut you open and took out part of your insides, causing all sorts of pain and putting you at risk for infection. Then when you had barely recovered from that, another doctor started pumping your body full of toxic chemicals that made your hair fall out and made you throw up continuously. Who wants to live like that? I'd find another doctor who was kind and didn't cause me so much misery."

Of course, it's apparent that the "cruel" doctors are simply a surgeon who removed a malignant organ or tumor and an oncologist who administers life-saving chemotherapy to kill off any remaining cancer sells. There is a greater purpose, even though the process resulted in heartache.

How infinitely much more so the plans and purposes of the "God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all" (Ephesians 4:6) and is working it all out for His glory!

Be sure to join us over at Lisa's blog to see everyone else's thoughts!


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Monday, February 16, 2009

Review - Gingham Mountain

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Gingham Mountain

Barbour Books (February 1, 2009)


Mary Connealy


Mary's writing journey is similar to a lot of others. Boil it down to persistence, oh, go ahead and call it stubbornness. She just kept typing away. She think the reason she did it was because she was more or less a dunce around people—prone to sit silently when she really ought to speak up (or far worse, speak up when she ought to sit silently).

So, Mary had all these things, she want to say, in her head; the perfect zinger to the rude cashier, which you think of an hour after you’ve left the store, the perfect bit of wisdom when someone needs help, which doesn’t occur to you until they solve their problems themselves, the perfect guilt trip for the kids, which you don’t say because you’re not an idiot. She keep all this wit to herself, much to the relief of all who know her, and then wrote all her great ideas into books. It’s therapeutic if nothing else, and more affordable than a psychiatrist.

So then a very nice, oh so nice publishing company like Barbour Heartsong comes along and says, “Hey, we’ll pay you money for this 45,000 word therapy session.” That’s as sweet as it gets.

Mary's journey to publication is the same as everyone’s except for a few geniuses out there who make it hard for all of us. And even they probably have an Ode to Roast Beef or two in their past.

There are two other books in this Lassoed In Texas Series: Petticoat Ranch and Calico Canyon

All aboard for a delightful, suspense-filled romance, where a Texan is torn between his attraction to a meddlesome schoolmarm and the charms of a designing dressmaker. When Hannah Cartwright meets Grant, she's determined to keep him from committing her orphans to hard labor on his ranch. How far will she go to ensure their welfare?

Grant Cooper is determined to provide a home for the two kids brought in by the orphan train as runs head-on into the new school marm, who believes he's made slave labor out of eight orphaned children. He crowds too many orphans into his rickety house, just like Hannah Cartwright's cruel father. Grant's family of orphans have been mistreated too many times by judgmental school teachers. Now the new schoolmarm is the same except she's so pretty and she isn't really bad to his children, it's Grant she can't stand.

But he is inexplicably drawn to Hannah. Can he keep his ragtag family together while steering clear of love and marriage? Will he win her love or be caught in the clutches of a scheming seamstress?

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

Mary Connealy has edged her way into my heart as one of my favorite authors. I loved Petticoat Ranch (which came out before I even knew about blogs!), and Calico Canyon charmed the socks off of me. (My review is here and I got to interview Mary here.) This third book in the series, Gingham Mountain, is just as delightful. Mary has a way of creating situations and dialogue that makes me laugh out loud. Sometimes I want to shake Grant & Hannah - and the next minute I want to hug them. And of course, there are a few folks in the story that I just want to ship out on the next train! But isn't that how it is with the people in our lives? The setting may have been different 140 years ago but the human emotions - love, exasperation, greed, and our propensity to jump to conclusions when we don't know the whole story - were the same. Grab a copy and curl up for an enjoyable peek into the past - you just might find out something about your present!

Mary has a great website and contributes to several blogs, so head over here and get to know her a bit better!

Happy Reading!


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Saturday, February 14, 2009

TSMSS - No Greater Love

On this Valentine's Day when our hearts are turned to thoughts of love, I thought I would share a beautiful old hymn which celebrates the greatest Love ever demonstrated. The words are absolutely incredible, and no one sings it like Selah!

And then I also just had to share this song, especially in light of this verse:

By this will all men know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.
(John 13:35)

Be sure to go by Amy's blog for more songs to bless your weekend!

We love because He first loved us. (I John 4:19)


Valentine picture credit: stock.xchng


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Friday, February 13, 2009

Book Tour - A Cry in the Night

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Cry In The Night

Thomas Nelson (February 3, 2009)


Colleen Coble


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

2004 More Than Magic winner for Best Inspirational Romance
Without a Trace, Thomas Nelson
2004 American Christian Fiction Writers Mentor of the Year


The highly anticipated novel that delivers what romantic suspense fans have long awaited-the return to Rock Harbor.
Bree Nichols gets the shock of her life when her husband-presumed dead-reappears.

Bree Nichols and her search and rescue dog Samson discover a crying infant in the densely forested woods outside of Rock Harbor, Michigan. Against objections from her husband, Kade, who knows she'll become attached, Bree takes the baby in. Quickly she begins a search for the mother-presumably the woman reported missing just days earlier.
While teams scour the forests, Bree ferrets out clues about the missing woman. But she soon discovers something more shocking: Bree's former husband-long presumed dead in a plane crash-resurfaces. Is he really who he says he is? And should she trust him again after all these years?
An engaging, romantic suspense novel from critically-acclaimed author Colleen Coble.

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

Colleen Coble is a wonderful author who keeps me turning the pages until the very last sentence of the book has ended. While it didn't keep me awake at night (a good thing!) this book definitely made me catch my breath at some of the twists and suspenseful turns it took. Colleen contributes with 3 other authors pals to the blog Girls Write Out, and also has a great website where you can sign up for her newsletter (and where she proudly shows off her brand-new granddaughter Alexa!).

Happy Reading!


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Thursday, February 12, 2009

On Thin Ice

A book caught my eye and grabbed my interest as I was browsing at the store a couple of weeks ago, so when I was given the opportunity to read and review it, I jumped at the chance.

One of my favorite winter sports has always been figure skating. Grace and artistry combined with incredible strength and agility showcase individuals whose talent, determination, and hard work enable them to glide, jump, and spin on a 1/8-inch wide blade. And in Men’s Figure Skating, no one is probably as well-known or loved as Scott Hamilton.

You may remember his days in the 1980's as a Gold Medal Olympian. Or you may know him as a commentator during the Winter Olympics every 4 years. Now you have a chance to know Scott Hamilton, the man, in his book The Great Eight.

This book intrigued me from the beginning. I did not know that Scott has become a believer in the past few years. The second chapter details his spiritual journey and the point when he “finally accepted the Almighty Coach into my life, and it has made me the happiest man alive.”

The theme of the book, as reflected in the title The Great Eight, is what Scott considers to be the eight secrets to happiness in life. He shares examples from his fights with cancer (twice – once with testicular cancer, and once with a brain tumor) and from his profession as an ice skater in chapters such as “Fall, Get Up, and Land Your First Jumps,” "Make Your Losses Your Wins,” and “Win by Going Last.”

I enjoyed reading this book and having a peek inside the skating world and Scott’s life. I appreciated his testimony and think he made some good points to encourage people to live above their circumstances. I really wanted to love this book, but I just couldn't. One reservation I had about it was that it skated precariously close (pun intended!) to a humanistic prosperity gospel of happiness. It may just be the semantics he used and the fact that his personality is upbeat and positive. But the emphasis on “you can be happy if you do this” as opposed to “the fruit of the Spirit is joy” keeps me from giving this a wholehearted endorsement. While I love happiness and laughter, I don't believe the Bible teaches that happiness in and of itself is to be our primary goal in life. Jesus Himself was a Man of Sorrows.

Similarly, toward the end of the book, as he speaks about each of his two sweet little boys, he says that though they will have heartaches and difficulties in life,
“and I can’t protect him from all that stuff entirely, but I can give him this net to fall into: ‘You are perfect.’ I firmly believe God made us in His image, and that’s a perfect one. [He and his wife tell their son regarding other people] . . . they’re positively perfect in God’s eyes. We’re no better than they, and they’re no better than us. We’re all perfect. And it’s such a healthy way to live each day.”
That really disappointed me, because while the Bible does say that we are created in God’s image, it is also clear in Scripture that since Adam & Eve’s original sin, we are a long way from perfect. If "we're all perfect," then the cross was in vain.

If you want to know more about Scott Hamilton’s background, ice skating, or testimony, read this book. However, I would not recommend it for someone who does not have a solid Biblical foundation who might be unwittingly led to believe that we are in charge of our own destinies and sin is not an issue.

You can purchase The Great Eight directly from Thomas Nelson publishing or at Amazon.


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Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2009-02-12 03:28:52 UTC

Congrats to bp and Ellle, winners of the Sweetheart of a Giveaway! Send me your addresses, ladies, and I'll send the books on their way to you!


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School Days and Projects

If you look at the calendar, today looks to be an ordinary day. February 11, a Wednesday, the middle of the week.

But apparently, teachers view this day as the Perfect Day for Major Projects Due. Last night our living room was a beehive of activity as my boy had a major English project due and he was busily wiring objects to his display board.

Meanwhile, my girl had her poster completed illustrating linear equations with various intercepting, parallel, or sloping lines and was busily identifying them and creating and solving the corresponding word problems.

Fortunately the rain that started about bedtime had stopped by the time the projects needed to be carried into the school. There was only about a 15 mph wind to contend with!

Ah, the wonderful days of school projects. It reminds me of the infamous "Critical Review" of a novel we had to do my junior year in high school. Along with a written report on the novel, we each had to do an oral presentation with a visual aid. One of the brainiest guys in the class had made an incredible model of The House of the Seven Gables for his report. The teacher (who was the absolute best teacher I ever had and I still keep in touch with her) was delighted and practically drooling over the idea of keeping that masterpiece in her classroom as an example for years to come.

I've never read the book, but I will never forget that, as he finished his presentation, he took his hand and in one fell swoop destroyed the house. I don't know if the story ends with the house's destruction or what the significance was. I just remember the horrified look on the teacher's face when it was reduced to a pile of rubble.

Sort of the way my living room looked after my kids finished their projects. . . .

Pictures courtesy of Google Images.


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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Sweetheart of a Giveaway!

Love is in the air, and just in time for Valentine's Day, I have an incredible giveaway for two of you!

I Do Again:
With their professional success and adorable twin daughters, Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs looked like the perfect couple. But their polished facade concealed a widening chasm between two people unable to connect on an intimate, soul-deep level.

After years of frustration, Cheryl’s desire for emotional fulfillment led to an affair and, finally, divorce. Yet, incredibly, seven years later, Jeff and Cheryl once again stood at the altar, promising to “love, honor, and cherish” one another. A new and vibrant love had risen out of the ashes of this family’s pain.

I Do Again details the fascinating real-life story of a couple whose relationship seemed shattered beyond all hope until a spiritual awakening led them to reconsider their definitions of “happily ever after.” A riveting account of the power of prayer and redemption, this remarkable book offers renewed hope for even the most troubled marriages—and reveals why the rewards of restoration are well worth the wait.

Author Bio:
Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs are the founders of Hope Matters Marriage Ministries, and for the past several years they have shared their incredible story of a marriage restored with audiences across the nation. Jeff is an account manager with OshKosh B’Gosh, and Cheryl has served as director of the Frisco, Texas, office of the Center for Christian Counseling. They live in Dallas, Texas with their two college-age daughters.

The Love As A Way Of Life Devotional:
In his book Love As a Way of Life, best-selling author Gary Chapman shows readers how to cultivate a new lifestyle built around the seven characteristics of authentic love. Now in a companion devotional, he provides ninety inspirational readings to help Christians consistently live out the characteristics of love in every relationship.

Each devotional entry showcases biblical truths that guide a life of love, offering fresh insight and practical guidance in how to make love a lasting habit. Over the course of three months, readers will learn to follow God’s lead as they practice the characteristics of a loving person: kindness, patience, forgiveness, courtesy, humility, generosity, and honesty.

The Love As a Way of Life Devotional makes an ideal gift for the holidays or for any special occasion. Couples, parents, new graduates, and anyone celebrating a milestone in life will welcome this inspiring daily guide to richer, more satisfying relationships.

Author Bio:
Dr. Gary Chapman is the author of twenty-six books, including the New York Times bestseller The Five Love Languages, with more than 4 million copies in print. His daily radio program, A Love Language Minute, is broadcast on more than 100 stations nationwide. Dr. Chapman, a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, Wheaton College, Wake-Forest University, and Southwestern Seminary, serves on a church staff in North Carolina.

For Couples Only Box Set:Since their debut, these revolutionary guides have sold well over a million copies, been translated into fifteen languages, and sparked much fascinating water-cooler conversation around the country. Now together in the For Couples Only boxed set, these books provide the perfect resource to help you understand what you never knew about the woman or man in your life.

Each volume is based on input from more than a thousand members of the opposite sex—including an unprecedented nationwide survey and hundreds of personal interviews. This innovative approach yields candid and surprising answers about everything you don’t “get” about your significant other—even what that person deeply wishes you knew. It also produces simple but groundbreaking awareness of how you can best love and support the one who is most important to you.

So whether you are newly dating or have been married fifty years, get ready to know each other in a whole new way. The adventure is just beginning!

Author Bio:
Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn hold graduate degrees from Harvard University and are popular national speakers, authors, and entrepreneurs. They are also active church members and the parents of two young children, and they enjoy every minute of living life at warp speed.

Did I mention a giveaway?! I have two of these complete sets to give away here. Two of you will get all the books mentioned in this post! To enter, leave a comment on this post by 8:00 p.m. tomorrow night (Wednesday, 2/11). Because this is such a phenomenal giveaway, I think it deserves a little more thought than a knee-jerk "enter me" comment. So to be included in the drawing, please include one of the following in your comment: 1) a way you recently showed love when it would have been easier not to, 2) one thing about love (marriage, kids, friends, in-laws, anyone) you wish you had known when you were 20, or 3) your favorite Valentine memory. Continental US residents only, please. I'll draw 2 names tomorrow night or Thursday morning!

Happy Loving Reading!

Valentine picture credit: stock.xchng


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Monday, February 9, 2009

Spectacular Sins - Chapter 3

Better late than never, I guess, as I am screeching in late on Monday night with my two-cents worth for the Spectacular Sins book club! Having my sister here has thrown my schedule all out of whack!

As we continue our way through John Piper's book, this week we read chapter 3, The Fall of Satan and the Victory of Christ. Wow, this is some deep stuff. Missy leads the discussion this week and her questions and my answers are below.

1. On page 40 Piper tells us that the name Satan means "accuser." Do you ever feel accused? I know I do. Sometimes I lie in bed at night and obsess over all the ways I have failed throughout the day, or I relive all the sins of my past. Turn in your Bibles (or click here) to read Romans 8:1-2. What does this verse say? If this is true, from whom are all those accusations of failure? What then should we do when our thoughts go there? What is the difference between condemnation of our sin by the Evil One and conviction of our sin by the Holy Spirit?

Oh, these are great verses here! There is NO CONDEMNATION when we are in Christ. Similarly, John 3:17 tells us that God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. So when we feel those accusations coming at us (and I, like Missy, find that the middle of the night seems to be a ripe time for that!) we can know that the condemnation and accusation is from Satan, not Christ. What to do when this happens? Well, in the armor of God listed in Ephesians 6, the one offensive weapon we have is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. As we quote Scriptures such as those listed above, we counter the accusations with Truth. Ephesians 6 also says that we extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one with the shield of faith. Holding on to our faith in Christ and in what we know to be true about Him and about our standing in Him as He as promised in Scripture will enable us to recognize and defeat Satan's lies.

The difference between Satan's condemnation and the Holy Spirit's conviction is shame. The Holy Spirit's conviction is specific to the sin; however, He does not attack us personally, nor does He bring up past sins. Satan condemnation immediately brings shame and the sense of "you are awful and a complete failure" and he piles it on by dredging up every other time we have failed. Also, the aim of Satan's condemnation is defeat, and the aim of the Holy Spirit's conviction is victory.

2. How does God allowing Satan to live bring glory to Christ? The greater the evil, the greater the glory when it is overcome. Piper says:

A single, sudden, and infinitely holy display of power to destroy Satan immediately after his fall would have been a glorious display of power and righteousness. But it would not have been the fullest possible display of all the glories in the Son and the Father. God chose an infinitely wise way of displaying the full array of divine glories in letting Satan fall and do his work for millennia....We would not know Christ in the fullness of his glory if he had not defeated Satan in the way he did.
I have one caveat about this, and I will preface it by saying that I am certainly no theologian and do not have strings of initials after my name. I think Piper makes a very good point. However, Isaiah 40:13 says Who has known the mind of the LORD, or instructed Him as His counselor? Also, God clearly tells us "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9). I do think we need to be very, very careful in declaring why God did something that is not fully explained in Scripture. Especially areas such as this when our finite minds can barely grasp the "what", much less the "why". God is perfectly capable of glorifying Himself in His total fullness even if He had defeated Satan instantaneously. God is not limited. He may choose to work a certain way. But that is certainly not because His glory won't be seen if He doesn't. Omnipotent and Almighty mean just that!

Again, I'm not necessarily disputing Piper's conclusion, just reminding us all that it is one man's interpretation and conclusion, not an absolute.

3. Read the 'Eight Things to Do with Evil" and "Four Things to Never Do with Evil" lists on pages 50-51. Which of these do you have the most problem with?

I guess I struggle the most with the last one - "never doubt that God is totally for you in Christ. Evil that happens to me is not "God's punishment in wrath." It may be "fatherly discipline" or refinement. I don't struggle with it mentally but practically, primarily due to the way I was raised. Because my dad was very strict and legalistic, it is much easier for me to see the parts of God's character that are related to justice than those that extend grace and mercy.

4. Recall Piper's introduction, specifically pages 13-16 when he speaks of persecution of the Church. Since December I have been praying for Martha Samuel Makkar. She is an Egyptian sister in Christ who converted from Islam, and has faced persecution ever since. In December, she was arrested at the airport when she tried to emigrate to Russia. Martha was placed in prison, tortured, raped, and her two and four year old sons were denied food in an attempt to cause her to renounce Christ. She was recently released on bail and is awaiting trial. You can read her story here and here (and please join me in praying!)

How might the truths Piper has conveyed in this chapter regarding evil - the "weighty doctrine" - bring comfort to Martha and her family while she undergoes persecution for Christ?

There is a world beyond what we experience. Not just heaven, although If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. (I Corinthians 15:19) But God is working in ways that cannot be seen - both in the invisible world as well as in this world - for His glory. Martha and her family will likely never know this side of heaven all the ways their situation was used for God's glory and to witness of His saving grace and power. Only God knows the impact they are having on others who hear their story, who witness their faithfulness, and who are changed eternally. And while evil may think it is triumphing over good right now in this situation, God's glory will burst forth at just the right time and overcome all the forces of evil - decisively, completely, and eternally.

Be sure to hop over to The Preacher's Wife and check out the other responses! It's still not too late to join us!


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Saturday, February 7, 2009

TSMSS - Praise the Lord

The original songbook was the Psalms. One particular psalm, Psalm 100, urges that praise be made to God by all lands. Over four hundred years ago, it was written into a hymn that is still sung today.

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

This is often called "The Old Hundredth" because it is based on Psalm 100. It is probably the oldest hymn of praise in the English language. William Kethe, a Scotsman, was a minister of the Church of England. But during the reign of Queen Mary, which was a reign of terror for many English Protestants, Kethe fled to German and then to Geneva, Switzerland. In Geneva he was influencd by John Calvin. There he assisted in the translation of the Geneva Bible and helped to produce a complete English version of the metrical psalms. From this Psalter, now more than four hundred years old, "The Old Hundredth" is taken. THe hymn was first published in London in 1561, shortly after Queen Elizabeth came to the throne.

The music was written by John Calvin's choir director, and the hymn has never been set to any other but the original tune.

Source: The Complete Book of Hymns: Inspiring Stories about 600 Hymns and Praise Songs, William J. Petersen & Ardythe Petersen, Tyndale, 2006.

This acapella rendition by the Martins absolutely gives me chills. The words have been updated just a bit, and then they segue right into the Doxology. Let everyhing that has breath praise the LORD! (Psalm 150:6)


All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice:
Him serve with mirth, his praise forth tell,
Come ye before Him and rejoice.

The Lord, ye know, is God indeed;
Without our aid He did us make:
We are his folk, He doth us feed,
And for His sheep He doth us take.

O enter then His gates with praise,
Approach with joy his courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless his Name always,
For it is seemly so to do.

For why? the Lord our God is good,
His mercy is for ever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.

To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
The God whom heaven and earth adore,
From men and from the angel host
Be praise and glory evermore.

WORDS: William Kethe, 1561
MUSIC: Old 100th (Louis Bourgeois, 1551)

Be sure to go by Amy's blog for more songs to bless your weekend!


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