Thursday, July 24, 2008

Watchers In the Wood

It's May 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 21st, we will feature an author and his/her latest Teen fiction book's FIRST chapter!

and his book:

Thomas Nelson (May 6, 2008)


Robert Liparulo is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly. He has sold or optioned three screenplays.

Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.

Here are some of his titles:

House of Dark Shadows (Dreamhouse Kings Book 1)

Comes a Horseman



Product Details

List Price: $14.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 6, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595544968
ISBN-13: 978-1595544964



At twelve years old, David King was too young to die. At least he thought so.

But try telling that to the people shooting at him.

He had no idea where he was. When he had stepped through the portal, smoke immediately blinded him. An explosion had thrown rocks and who-knew-what into his face. It shook the floor and knocked him off his feet. Now he was on his hands and knees on a hardwood floor. Glass and splinters dug into his palms. Somewhere, all kinds of guns were firing. Bullets zinged overhead, thunking into walls—bits of flying plaster stung his cheeks.

Okay, so he wasn’t sure the bullets were meant for him. The guns seemed both near and far. But in the end, if he were hit, did it matter whether the shooters meant to get him or he’d had the dumb luck to stumble into the middle of a firefight? He’d be just as dead.

The smoke cleared a bit. Sunlight poured in from a school-bus-sized hole in the ceiling. Not just the ceiling—David could see attic rafters and the jagged and burning edges of the roof. Way above was a blue sky, soft white clouds.

He was in a bedroom. A dresser lay on the floor. In front of him was a bed. He gripped the mattress and pushed himself up.

A wall exploded into a shower of plaster, rocks, and dust. He flew back. Air burst from his lungs, and he crumpled again to the floor. He gulped for breath, but nothing came. The stench of fire—burning wood and rock, something dank and putrid—swirled into his nostrils on the thick, gray smoke. The taste of cement coated his tongue. Finally, oxygen reached his lungs, and he pulled it in with loud gasps, like a swimmer saved from drowning. He coughed out the smoke and dust. He stood, finding his balance, clearing his head, wavering until he reached out to steady himself.

A hole in the floor appeared to be trying to eat the bed. It was listing like a sinking ship, the far corner up in the air, the corner nearest David canted down into the hole. Flames had found the blankets and were spreading fast.

Outside, machine-gun fire erupted.

David jumped.

He stumbled toward an outside wall. It had crumbled, forming a rough V-shaped hole from where the ceiling used to be nearly to the floor. Bent rebar jutted out of the plaster every few feet.

More gunfire, another explosion. The floor shook.

Beyond the walls of the bedroom, the rumble of an engine and a rhythmic, metallic click-click-click-click-click tightened his stomach. He recognized the sound from a dozen war movies: a tank. It was rolling closer, getting louder.

He reached the wall and dropped to his knees. He peered out onto the dirt and cobblestone streets of a small village. Every house and building was at least partially destroyed, ravaged by bombs and bullets. The streets were littered with chunks of wall, roof tiles, even furniture that had spilled out through the ruptured buildings.

David’s eyes fell on an object in the street. His panting breath froze in his throat. He slapped his palm over his mouth, either to stifle a scream or to keep himself from throwing up. It was a body, mutilated almost beyond recognition. It lay on its back, screaming up to heaven. Male or female, adult or child, David didn’t know, and it didn’t matter. That it was human and damaged was enough to crush his heart. His eyes shot away from the sight, only to spot another body. This one was not as broken, but was no less horrible. It was a young woman. She was lying on her stomach, head turned with an expression of surprised disbelief and pointing her lifeless eyes directly at David.

He spun around and sat on the floor. He pushed his knuckles into each eye socket, squeegeeing out the wetness. He swallowed, willing his nausea to pass.

His older brother, Xander, said that he had puked when he first saw a dead body. That had been only two days ago—in the Colosseum. David didn’t know where the portal he had stepped through had taken him. Certainly not to a gladiator fight in Rome.

He squinted toward the other side of the room, toward the shadowy corner where he had stepped into . . . wherever this was . . . whenever it was. Nothing there now. No portal. No passage home. Just a wall.

He heard rifle shots and a scream.

Click-click-click-click-click . . . the tank was still approaching.

What had he done? He thought he could be a hero, and now he was about to get shot or blown up or . . . something that amounted to the same thing: Dead.

Dad had been right. They weren’t ready. They should have made a plan.


David rose into a crouch and turned toward the crumbled wall.

I’m here now, he thought. I gotta know what I’m dealing with, right? Okay then. I can do this.

He popped up from his hiding place to look out onto the street. Down the road to his right, the tank was coming into town over a bridge. Bullets sparked against its steel skin. Soldiers huddled behind it, keeping close as it moved forward. In turn, they would scurry out to the side, fire a rifle or machine gun, and step back quickly. Their targets were to David’s left, which meant he was smack between them.


At that moment, he’d have given anything to redo the past hour. He closed his eyes. Had it really only been an hour? An hour to go from his front porch to here?

In this house, stranger things had happened. . . .

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Painted Dresses

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Painted Dresses

(WaterBrook Press - July 15, 2008)


Patricia Hickman

Patricia Hickman is an award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction, whose work has been praised by critics and readers alike.

Patricia Hickman began writing many years ago after an invitation to join a writer's critique group. It was headed up by best-selling author Dr. Gilbert Morris, a pioneer in Christian fiction who has written many best selling titles. The group eventually came to be called the "Nubbing Chits". All four members of the original "Chits" have gone on to become award-winning and best selling novelists (good fruit, Gil!).

Patty signed her first multi-book contract with Bethany House Publishers. After she wrote several novels "for the market", she assessed her writer's life and decided she would follow the leanings of her heart. She says, "It had to be God leading me into the next work which wound up being my first break-out book, Katrina's Wings. I had never read a southern mainstream novel, yet I knew that one lived in my head, begging to be brought out and developed." She wanted to create deeper stories that broke away from convention and formula. From her own journey in life, she created a world based upon her hometown in the 70's, including Earthly Vows and Whisper Town from the Millwood Hollow Series.

Patty and her husband, Randy, have planted two churches in North Carolina. Her husband pastors Family Christian Center, located in Huntersville. The Hickmans have three children, two on earth and one in heaven. Their daughter, Jessi, was involved in a fatal automobile accident in 2001. Through her writing and speaking, Patty seeks to offer help, hope and encouragement to those who walk the daily road of loss and grief.


In this story of sisterhood and unexpected paths, Gaylen Syler-Boatwright flees her unraveling marriage to take refuge in a mountain cottage owned by her deceased aunt. Burdened with looking after her adult sister, Delia, she is shocked to find a trail of family secrets hidden within her aunt’s odd collection of framed, painted dresses. With Delia, who attracts trouble as a daily occupation, Gaylen embarks on a road trip that throws the unlikely pair together on a journey to painful understanding and delightful revelations.

Steeped in Hickman’s trademark humor, her spare writing voice, and the bittersweet pathos of the South, Painted Dresses powerfully captures a woman’s desperate longing to uncover a hidden, broken life and discover the liberty of living authentically, even when the things exposed are shrouded in shame.

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

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Try Darkness

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Try Darkness

(Center Street - July 30, 2008)


James Scott Bell


JAMES SCOTT BELL is a former trial lawyer who now writes full time. He has also been the fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine and adjunct professor of writing at Pepperdine University.

The national bestselling author of several novels of suspense, he grew up and still lives in Los Angeles. His first Buchanan thriller, TRY DYING, was released to high critical praise, while his book on writing, Plot and Structure is one of the most popular writing books available today.


Ty Buchanan is living on the peaceful grounds of St. Monica’s, far away from the glamorous life he led as a rising trial lawyer for a big L.A. firm. Recovering from the death of his fiancée and a false accusation of murder, Buchanan has found his previous ambitions unrewarding. Now he prefers offering legal services to the poor and the underrepresented from his “office” at local coffee bar The Freudian Sip. With his new friends, the philosophizing Father Bob and basketball-playing Sister Mary Veritas, Buchanan has found a new family of sorts.
One of his first clients is a mysterious woman who arrives with her six-year-old daughter. They are being illegally evicted from a downtown transient hotel, an interest that Ty soon discovers is represented by his old law firm and his former best friend, Al Bradshaw. Buchanan won’t back down. He’s going to fight for the woman’s rights.
But then she ends up dead, and the case moves from the courtroom to the streets. Determined to find the killer and protect the little girl, who has no last name and no other family, Buchanan finds he must depend on skills he never needed in the employ of a civil law firm.
The trail leads Buchanan through the sordid underbelly of the city and to the mansions and yachts of the rich and famous. No one is anxious to talk.
But somebody wants Buchanan to shut up. For good.
Now he must use every legal and physical edge he knows to keep himself and the girl alive.
Once again evoking the neo-noir setting of contemporary Los Angeles, Bell delivers another thriller where darkness falls and the suspense never rests.

If you would like to read chapters 1 & 2, go HERE

“Bell has created in Buchanan an appealing and series-worthy protagonist, and the tale equally balances action and drama, motion and emotion. Readers who pride themselves on figuring out the answers before an author reveals them are in for a surprise, too: Bell is very good at keeping secrets. Fans of thrillers with lawyers as their central characters—Lescroart and Margolin, especially—will welcome this new addition to their must-read lists.”

“Engaging whodunit series kickoff . . . Readers will enjoy Bell's talent for description and character development.”
—Publishers Weekly

“James Scott Bell has written himself into a niche that traditionally has been reserved for the likes of Raymond Chandler.”
—Los Angeles Times

“A master of suspense.”
—Library Journal

“One of the best writers out there, bar none.”
—In the Library Review

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Underground

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and his book:

Flashpoint: Book One of the Underground

The Writers Cafe Press (September 30, 2007)


A rabid speculative fiction fan and aspiring author since boyhood, Frank Creed’s sojourn and the lack of Biblical speculative fiction in Christian bookstores has left a chip on his shoulder. Frank founded the Lost Genre Guild in September of ’06 as a community for fans and writers alike. After years of learning the craft and helping others polish their fiction, he now serves as a critic for The Finishers, a manuscript evaluation service for clients of both fiction and nonfiction.

Frank’s first sci-fi short story, “The Last Newspaper,� took first place at the U.W. Whitewater Literary Conference in 1983. His first novel, Flashpoint: Book One of the Underground won the ’06 Elfie for best sci-fi novel at Elfwood, was chosen for the CFRB ’07 IMPRESS award for best book toured, and has been nominated for several awards this year. Frank’s short stories have been published in secular and Christian spec-fic anthologies.

Frank’s online ministry began two decades ago with the Body of Christ and debating Satanists in an effort to save his sister. It has since grown to include writing Christian fiction. After sustaining life-threatening injuries in a 1999 head-on collision, Frank may have been left disabled, but his writing suddenly took on a new clarity. Novelist Mary Lu Tyndall says: "Frank Creed is one of my favorite people. He has a heart for God and is, in my opinion, one of a new generation of spiritual warriors."

Visit him at his website.


Flashpoint [Function: noun] 1: the lowest temperature at which vapors above a volatile combustible substance ignite in air when exposed to flame 2: a point at which someone or something bursts suddenly into action or being 3: TINDERBOX: a potentially explosive place or situation



THIS IS IT, WE’RE HERE. Climb the slope on the right shoulder. Hide in the beams as best as you can. Whatever you do, stay under the bridge. If you come out, the cameras will spot you and all this will be pointless.�

The highway overpass loomed ahead. My father continued, “The car can’t be hidden under the bridge too long or they’ll figure out where you went. You’re gonna have to jump out while we’re moving.�

It was time.

“Sometime, someplace, I know we’ll see each other again. Use your freedom well. Now!�

That single word launched me out the door. As it swung shut behind me, Dad screamed at Jen, “Go!� I stumbled into a run watching her bail-out. The Geo Aphid sped off.

* * *

Jen had sprawled on the street. I helped my kid-sister to her feet. She’d hurt herself, but the bleeding amounted to pink smears on the palms of her hands.

“C’mon, let’s hide.�

“Dave!� She whimpered my name, but followed.

We clambered over the rough, fist-sized stones that covered the slope. At the top, the slope met the girders that supported the road above us. I pulled off my t-shirt and cleared the I-beams of spider webs and bird droppings. We slumped on opposite girders, facing each other.

Jen’s wide eyes glinted shell-shocked madness. “We’ll save them! Whoever comes for us, if they’ll help us, we could get them out!�

“We don’t even know where they’ll be taken,� I grumbled.

“I’ll hack that off the Web!� She reached for anything to pull herself from calamity’s quicksand.

I was in no mood to do this. “You don’t have a com-vision, Sis.�

Tears welled-up in her eyes again. I didn’t want to start an argument, and I definitely didn’t want to shatter the kid’s hopes. “I want our family back too, Sis, but Rehabs are usually guarded.�

We’d do well just to avoid the peacekeepers who had to be looking for us. Who could Dad trust to help us? How would they get us out from under the bridge without anyone seeing? Where could they hide us from searching peacekeeping units? How would we even get food? The hum of a motor grew near and we both shrank back against cold steel. A car passed beneath.

I tried to turn the conversation to something else. “I hope Mom and Jeff are okay.�

Jen buried her face in her hands, her shoulders rocking with sobs.

Real smooth. Nice going, fool. “I’m sorry Sis. Like Dad said, we gotta have faith—� I kicked myself.

When her tears ran out, Jen scowled and whispered, “If we’re His children, why’s He doing this to us?�

I left her in silence. Like I could answer that. How could He even allow a world where belief in the Bible made one a terrorist? Ripping apart our family would teach, what? What kind of lesson was this? I finally thought about how parents treat children. “I think it’s like when we’re kids. Mom or Dad punished us, and made us try things we didn’t want to. Having fun or being happy all the time isn’t the most important thing. I guess God’s like that, too. Dad said we’re being taught something, remember?�

“Yeah. How to miss your mom, and worry if you’ll ever see her again,� she pouted.

Little sisters out there, I speak for big brothers everywhere when I ask, please don’t stick us with hard questions that you’ve already answered. Very annoying.

I dug my pack of Winterfresh Extra out of my jeans’ pocket and let the conversation die. We moped into a sullen silence, our hopes shredded by our thoughts.

Spattering raindrops came and went. So did tears. Minutes piled into hours. Tracking time became impossible. That made me think of my e-wallet with the broken watch function. I powered it up and clicked past the com-vision white and yellow homepages. I selected the picture frame feature. Jen and I passed it back and forth, watching our party vids. Jen’s driver’s license and Jeff’s twenty-first birthday last month. My high-school graduation party two years ago. Jeff and I moving into our first apartment . . . Bad idea. I pocketed the e-wallet. Our thoughts spiraled into deep gloom, leaving Jen to weep her way out, and again we sat in silence.

My gum had lost its Extra-long-time flavor for what must have been hours before I realized the building I’d been staring at was a church. The bridge cut off its steepled roof. The One State allowed only one kind of church. Dad told me about people who called themselves Christians, but believed the Bible to be myth, and equal to the Koran, Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita. With no truth to argue over, 500 years of church splits healed overnight. They called themselves the One Church. No points for creativity, but I guess it represented their unity.

Dad said when he’d once asked a One Churcher how he knew that love was any better than hate. The man had said the answer’s in our heart. Dad then asked what was wrong with the hearts of criminals. There, next to the bridge, out in the open, people were being taught to find love in a broken heart. Here, forced to hide under the bridge, were children of the Heart Surgeon.

If I leaned down I could see a sliver of eastern sky. I began watching for dawn’s brush to paint the clouds. Pigeons roosting under the bridge started their morning cooing. Cool dampness raised goose bumps on the backs of my arms. Finally, my shivering grew worse than my t-shirt’s filth. I shook it out and put it back on.

Then the end came.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What's the Big Deal About Other Religions?">">" border="0" />
It's July 15th, time for the Non~FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 15th, we will featuring an author and his/her latest non~fiction book's FIRST chapter!

The feature authors are:"> John Ankerberg
and">Dillon Burroughs

and their book:">What's the Big Deal About Other Religions

Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2008)

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:">" border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5222308922620275186" />Dr. John F. Ankerberg is the President and founder of The Ankerberg Theological Research Institute. He is also the producer and host of the nationally televised John Ankerberg Show, a half-hour program seen in all 50 states via independent stations, the DAYSTAR Network, the DISH Network, DirecTV and on the SKY ANGEL Satellite, numerous cable outlets, as well as on the internet. The program can be seen each week by a potential viewing audience in excess of 99 million people. John presents contemporary spiritual issues and defends biblical/Christian answers.">" border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5222310303633456434" />Writer and communicator Dillon Burroughs is author of fourteen books and serves as a staff writer and research associate for the Ankerberg Theological Research Institute. In the past two years, his books have sold over 113,000 copies while his edited works have sold more than two million copies. On subjects related to spirituality and culture, Dillon’s written projects have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salem Radio Network news, Moody Radio Network, James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, iLife Television Network, Prime Time America, Leadership Journal, NBC affiliates, The John Ankerberg Show, Discipleship Journal, Group Magazine, and many other media outlets.

Dillon Burroughs is a ThM graduate from Dallas Theological Seminary in addition to graduating with a B.S. degree in Communications from Indiana State University. As time allows, he also serves as an adjunct professor at Tennessee Temple University. Dillon lives in Tennessee with his wife, Deborah, and two children, Ben and Natalie.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736921222
ISBN-13: 978-0736921220

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:">" border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5222308991555054754" />

What’s the Big Deal About Jesus?

“Christianity is good for you, but it’s not right for me. I think you ought to believe whatever makes you happy and gives you peace.”

“Christianity is the ‘right’ religion—isn’t that being naive?”

The label Christianity covers a broad range of people today. While over 2.1 billion people are statistically considered followers of Jesus Christ, polls by religious researcher George Barna have observed that only four percent of American Christians hold to a biblical worldview (that is, beliefs consistent with the Bible’s teachings), and just 51 percent of Christian clergy hold to such a view. As a result, even many who call themselves Christians have agreed with the quotes that appear above, asking if it is perhaps naïve to claim Christianity is the only way to God.

However, the above quotes are inconsistent with Christianity’s origins and founder. In this chapter we’ll briefly review how Christianity began, consider its early beliefs, introduce its founder, and investigate the reliability of the New Testament, which is part of the Bible.

A Firm Foundation

All of Christianity is built around one basic belief: the resurrection of its founder, Jesus of Nazareth. On Passover Friday around A.D. 30, Jesus was executed on a Roman cross on the accusation of conspiracy against the government. The Sanhedrin (Jewish leaders) had insisted that the Roman leader Pilate condemn Jesus, though Pilate had not found him guilty of any crimes worthy of death. After the crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus in a tomb, the body disappeared three days later. Immediately this was followed by many “Jesus sightings” reported over the next 40 days. A social revolution began ten days later in Jerusalem, Israel, as over 3000 people joined the movement after a street message given by the apostle Peter (Acts 2). Christianity was off and running, and has been growing ever since.

Oxford University theologian Dr. Alister McGrath has noted,

The identity of Christianity is inextricably linked with the uniqueness of Christ, which is in turn grounded in the Resurrection and Incarnation.

How do we know Jesus came back to life? First, the 27 books of the New Testament are based upon this one event—the resurrection of Jesus. Despite the attacks of many, the writings of Christianity have been shown to have emerged during the first century with the courageous message that Jesus, a man executed by the government, was alive. This carried many implications about his life and death and beyond. What other motive did these writers have except that they truly believed all this had occurred?

In addition, many individuals of that day claimed to have encountered Jesus after his death. According to the Gospel writers and the missionary Paul, Jesus appeared a total of at least 12 times after his return from death:

The Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus Christ

# Sighting Source

1. Mary Magdalene--Mark 16:9; John 20:11-18

2. Women returning from the tomb--Matthew 28:9-10

3. Two men walking to Emmaus--Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-32

4. Peter--Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5

5. 10 disciples; two men from Emmaus--Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-23

6. 11 disciples (including Thomas)--John 20:24-29

7. 7 disciples--John 21:1-24

8. 500 people at one time--1 Corinthians 15:6

9. James, the half-brother of Jesus--1 Corinthians 15:7

10. 11 disciples Matthew 28:16-20

11. 11 disciples before Jesus returned to heaven--Luke 24:50-53

12. Paul-- Acts 9:3-6; 1 Corinthians 15:8

In just one of these sightings, over 500 people claimed to see Jesus alive after his death. Did you know that if each of those 500 people were to testify in court for only six minutes, including time for cross-examination, we would have an amazing 50 hours of firsthand testimony? Few other events from over 2000 years ago find this level of support. None offer the number of witnesses the resurrection does for a supernatural event.

Further, the changed lives of the early followers of Jesus supported their report that Jesus was alive. All but one of Jesus’ 11 followers died for his belief in the resurrection of Jesus. Hundreds—if not thousands—of other Christians suffered or died within the first century of Christianity for their beliefs as well. The killing of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, led to the persecution of the Jerusalem church, which eventually forced many Christians to flee the area for safety.

“Could you convince thousands of people in our own day that President Kennedy had resurrected from the dead? There’s no way…unless it really happened.”

The amazing phenomenon of Christianity’s growth also stands as a powerful testimony that this faith is based on a supernatural resurrection. How could a crucified Jew (Jesus), former tax collector (Matthew), Jesus-hater (Paul), and small town fishermen (including Peter) establish a movement that has resulted in the largest religion on Earth? How could this happen?

When Christianity began, the Roman Empire was the greatest government of the time. Yet 300 years later, the Roman Empire had crumbled, and Christianity was continuing to grow. This, in spite of its humble beginning as a grassroots network of individuals who witnessed that Jesus had come back to life. Even though the proclamation of Jesus’ teachings produced persecution of the greatest kind, Christianity continued to spread across the Roman Empire—all the way to the palace of Caesar in Rome, the world’s political and social capital.

Christianity 101

So Christianity originated from a group of Jesus-followers who spread the message that they had personally witnessed his three years of teaching and miracles, watched him die on a cross, and then personally met, saw, talked to, ate with, and received instructions from him after his resurrection from the dead. But what are the core beliefs of Christianity? There are six central elements of
traditional Christianity.

First, there is the common understanding of Jews and Christians that there is only one true God—who is infi nite, holy, loving, just, and true. In addition, Christians believe that in the nature (presence) of the one true God there exists three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Christianity does not believe in three gods, but one. As Dr. Norman Geisler, bestselling author and cofounder of Southern Evangelical Seminary, has written,

The Trinity is not the belief that God is three personas and only one person at the same time and in the same sense. That would be a contradiction. Rather, it is the belief that there are three persons in one nature. This may be a mystery, but it is not a contradiction. That is, it may go beyond reason’s ability to comprehend completely, but it does not go against reason’s ability to apprehend consistently.
Further, the Trinity is not the belief that there are three natures in one nature or three essences in one essence. That would be a contradiction. Rather, Christians affirm that there are three persons in one essence…He is one in the sense of his essence but many in the sense of his persons. So there is no violation of the law of noncontradiction in the doctrine of the Trinity.

Traditional Christianity also accepts the 66 books of the Holy Bible as revelation from God, perfect and authoritative for all spiritual matters. While Roman Catholicism accepts the additional authority of the pope and church tradition, and Eastern Orthodoxy accepts church tradition as equal in authority to the Bible, the earliest traditional Christianity and later Protestant Christianity have been based solely on God’s written revelation through his apostles and prophets.

Third, Christians believe every person who has ever lived (with the exception of Jesus Christ) has been born a sinner separated from God. It is our sin nature that keeps us from knowing and experiencing God and creates a need for reconciliation through a means only God can provide.

Fourth, in his infinite love, God has provided the solution to the barrier between himself and humanity through Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that the death of Jesus provides payment for our sins, and on the basis of our believing, he is our sinbearer and he will forgive us the moment we believe. All this is confirmed by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead—he has paid the penalty for sin and conquered death. In this way God offers a basis for a person to place his or her faith in Christ and to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, in which he enters your life and you walk through life with his power and guidance.

Fifth, this rescue or salvation God offers through Jesus is based solely on what God has done rather than on what people do. In other words, salvation is a free gift based on God’s grace to us (unearned favor) rather than good works or deeds we can accomplish, though these will accompany a person once he or she becomes a Christian. One of the major points of contention during the Protestant Reformation resulted from the Roman Catholic Church’s unbiblical teaching
that God’s grace consists of humans cooperating with God’s grace to merit salvation, rather than receiving salvation in full as a gift on the basis of faith alone the moment a person believes.

Sixth, Christians believe in an eternal afterlife. God allows individuals the ability to choose or reject him, and after death, that decision is final. Those who have chosen to believe in Jesus will enjoy eternity with him in heaven, while those who decline will spend eternity in hell, separated from God. God will accept every person’s decision and not force him or her to change their mind. While all this may sound politically incorrect in our culture, it has stood as an essential component of Christian teaching from the earliest times. The choice we make here on earth will have eternal consequences.

Jesus: Founder and CEO of Christianity

Christian philosopher Dr. C. Stephen Evans points out that “it is an essential part of Christian faith that Jesus is God in a unique and exclusive way. It follows from this that all religions [that disagree] cannot be equally true.”7 Again, if different religions teach contradictory things about who God is, salvation, the afterlife, and
even Jesus, then one or another could be true, but they can’t all be true at the same time. What are the big super-signs that help us decide which religion is true? According to biblical Christianity, if Jesus claimed to be God and proved his claim by his resurrection, then he is God and Christianity is true. No other religious leader in history has claimed to be God and risen from the dead.

Further, there are at least seven concepts Jesus taught about himself that stand unique to Christianity. First, Jesus communicated that he fulfi lled biblical prophecy, given hundreds of years in advance, that he was the promised Messiah. He repeatedly claimed to be the person that God’s Messiah was predicted to be, and many scholars have created extensive lists of these prophetic connections. Here are some examples of prophecies Jesus fulfilled:

Prophecy--Old Testament Prophecy--New Testament Fulfillment

Born of a virgin-- Isaiah 7:14-- Matthew 1:18,25

Born in Bethlehem-- Micah 5:2-- Matthew 2:1

Preceded by a messenger-- Isaiah 40:3-- Matthew 3:1-2

Rejected by his own people-- Isaiah 53:3-- John 7:5; 7:48

Betrayed by a close friend-- Isaiah 41:9-- John 13:26-30

His side pierced-- Zechariah 12:10-- John 19:34

His death by crucifixion-- Psalm 22:1,11-18-- Luke 23:33; John 19:23-24

His resurrection-- Psalm 16:10-- Acts 13:34-37

Second, Jesus stands as a unique, unparalleled individual among the leaders of various world religions. He made predictions about the future that could only be made by someone who claimed to be God. Further, he noted in advance several of the things that would occur at the time of his death and resurrection. Unlike anyone else, he also promised to one day return to earth to set up his future kingdom.

The Seven “I Ams” of Jesus in John’s Gospel

? “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35,48; see also verse 51).

? “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).

? “I am the gate for the sheep” (John 10:7; see also verse 9).

? “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11,14).

? “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).

? “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

? “I am the true vine” (John 15:1; see also verse 5).

Further, Jesus is unique in his nature, being fully divine and fully human nature in one person. Jesus was born as a man without sin through a miraculous virgin birth. He challenged his own family, disciples, and even his enemies to prove him guilty of sin, but none could do so. Think of the reaction you would receive if you asked your parents, brothers, sisters, and friends, “Can any of you point to one sin I have committed?” Those closest to us know our faults. We all have them. Yet Jesus lived a perfect life free of sin.

As God’s divine son, Jesus performed miracles, healings, and exorcisms; fulfi lled Jewish prophecies; and accomplished his own resurrection. In these ways he affi rmed his divine nature, displaying power far beyond that of any person who has ever lived. Today people downplay the miracles, but they are documented in careful detail in the Bible, and even Jesus’ enemies did not deny his miracles. They weren’t able to. So they just claimed that he performed them with
the help of evil powers (Matthew 12:24).

The Exorcisms of Jesus

Exorcism-- Source
1. Healed a demon-possessed man at Capernaum ---Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37

2. Drove out demons and evil spirits Matthew 8:16-17; Mark 1:32-39; Luke 4:33-41
3. Healed the man possessed by demons at the Gadarenes-- Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39

4. Drove a demon out of a mute man, who then spoke-- Matthew 9:32-34;
Mark 3:20-22

Christianity is also the only major religion whose founder sacrificed his life for the sins of those who would choose to believe in him. Jesus’ horrifi c death on the cross stood as proof of his statement that “the Son of Man [Jesus] did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The Nature Miracles of Jesus

The Miracle—Source

1. Calming the wind and waves-- Matthew 8:26; Mark 4:39; Luke 8:24

2. Walking on water-- Matthew 14:25; Mark 6:48; John 6:19

3. Money in the fish’s mouth-- Matthew 17:27

4. Withering of the fig tree-- Matthew 21:19; Mark 11:14

5. Miraculous catch of fish-- Luke 5:4-7

6. Turning water into wine-- John 2:7-8

7. Second miraculous catch of fish-- John 21:6

8. Feeding the 4000-- Matthew 15:32-38; Mark 8:1-9

9. Feeding the 5000-- Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:34-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:5-12

Sixth, as mentioned earlier, Jesus also rose from the dead. Those in his time could never account for his empty tomb and the disappearance of his body. Jesus’ followers spanned the known world testifying of his resurrection (his actual bodily appearing to them), teaching his words, and dying for their belief in him.

Finally, Jesus promises, at the end of time, to personally judge every person who ever lived. It would be eternally disappointing to have Jesus look at us, fairly judge us, and conclude, “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23).

Christianity by the Book

Those who want to investigate the truthfulness of the original Christian message can look to a wealth of manuscript evidence regarding the transmission of the 27 books of the New Testament through the years. The New Testament manuscripts offer more supporting evidence than any other ancient book. Christians also accept the Jewish scriptures (the Old Testament) as part of their holy book, the Bible. Traditional Christianity believes in the inerrancy of Scripture, meaning the original words of the Bible’s books are without error and perfect in every way.

As a result, Bible translation, distribution, and teaching stand as important responsibilities within Christianity. The Bible is the most translated book in history, has been used as the script for the most-watched fi lm in history (the Jesus fi lm), and has enjoyed greater distribution than any book in the world. Over 100 million copies of the New Testament or Bible are sold every year worldwide.

Interesting Statistics About the Bible

The Bible was written over a period of 1600 years,

? by more than 40 authors of every sort—kings, peasants, fi shermen, poets, shepherds, government offi cials, teachers, and prophets—

? in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek),

? on three continents—Asia, Africa, and Europe.11

What Makes Christianity Unique?

“Christianity isn’t about people in search of God, but rather God in search of
people.”—STEVE RUSSO

Many have suggested that Christianity is about having a personal relationship with Jesus, and not performing good works and following rituals. Religious movements throughout history ultimately hold to a signifi cantly different common thread—that certain actions or works are required to obtain a blissful afterlife. In Christianity, however, the key to reaching God here and now and dwelling with him for eternity is to receive and trust in a gift already provided by its founder, Jesus Christ. As the apostle Paul made clear to Christians at Ephesus, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

God’s gift of salvation also brings assurance. If Jesus’ righteous life and atoning death on the cross is the sole basis for God’s gift, then a Christian doesn’t have to worry about earning or losing that gift. Once the gift is received, it belongs to the Christian forever because it rests on what Jesus did—not what the Christian did or does in the past, present, or future.

Christianity in Summary

As we compare and contrast the beliefs of various religions throughout this book, we hope to make the distinctives of each one as clear as possible. Here, we summarize the key teachings of Christianity:

Belief-- Basic Description

God-- One God in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Holy Book-- The 66 books of the Holy Bible are the authoritative
works of Christianity.

Sin-- All people have sinned (except Jesus).

Jesus Christ-- God’s perfect son, holy, resurrected, divine (second person of the Trinity) yet also fully human.

Salvation-- Obtained only by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by human effort.

Afterlife-- All people will enter heaven or hell upon death based on whether they have salvation in Jesus Christ. The Bible does not teach reincarnation, annihilation (ending of the soul), or the existence of purgatory.

Some people assume that biblical Christianity and Roman Catholicism are essentially similar. But is that the case? What differences exist? Are these differences really a big deal, or only minor details? Our next chapter will address these questions head-on.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sisterchicks Go Brit!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Sisterchicks Go Brit

Multnomah Publishers (May 20, 2008)


Robin Jones Gunn

MY THOUGHTS: I absolutely loved this book -- my husband stared at me several times when I laughed out loud! I've been to England, so this was like a second visit. This is a perfect book to take you away from the drugery of everyday life for a short trip with your friends! Along the way, you may just realize how much God loves you and how he is in control of even situations that seem totally haphazard.


Robin grew up in Orange County, California and has lived in all kinds of interesting places, including Reno and Hawaii.

Robin’s first novel was published in 1988, and she has continued to write between two to five books a year. Her 63 published books include 47 novels, all of which are still in print. Sales of her popular Christy Miller Series, Glenbrooke Series and Sisterchicks Series, including Sisterchicks in Gondolas and the new Katie Weldon Series including Peculiar Treasures all of which are approaching four million copies sold, with translations in nine languages.

Robin’s passion for storytelling and travel are evident in all her books, especially the Sisterchicks novels, and she has received thousands of letters from readers around the world who have come to know Christ through her writing. She sees this as her dream come true. Her novels are traveling to foreign lands and her characters are doing what she always longed to do; telling people about God’s love.

She and her husband currently live near Portland, Oregon and have been married for 30 years. They spent their first 22 years of marriage working together in youth ministry, and enjoying life with their son and daughter who are now both grown.

As a frequent speaker at local and international events, one of Robin’s favorite topics is how God is the Relentless Lover and we are His first love. She delights in telling stories of how God uses fiction to change lives.

Robin is the recipient of the Christy Award, the Mt. Hermon Pacesetter Award, the Sherwood E. Wirt Award and is a Gold Medallion Finalist. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Media Associates International and the Board of Directors for Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writers’ Guild.

SISTERCHICK® n: a friend who shares the deepest wonders of your heart, loves you like a sister, and provides a reality check when you’re being a brat.

Two midlife mamas hop over to jolly ole England and encounter so much more than the usual tourist stops. Liz does have a bit of a childhood crush on Big Ben, and she has hoped to “meet” him ever since her fifteenth birthday. Kellie dreams of starting an interior design business and figures Liz needs to be a part of that equation–a calculation that hasn’t added up for Liz yet.

Nothing on the excursion goes the way these two friends had envisioned. They start with a village pancake race and end up being held for questioning on The Underground. Kellie and Liz take a wild tour through the land of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien and then find themselves swept up, up, and away in a hot air balloon over the Cotswalds. London beckons with the Tower of London, Windsor Castle, shopping at Portabella Road in Knotting Hill, and of course, reservations at the Ritz for a posh high tea.

A few detours along the way and the possibility of being lost in a London fog of wonderment aren’t enough to stop these two Sisterchicks! Each step of their regal journey is lined with evidence of God’s gracious compassion, and both come to realize that God knows their every wish. He is the One who planted every dream in their hearts.

And, oh, what a surprise awaits them when they return home!

To read the first chapter, go HERE

“Robin has done it again! You and your Sisterchicks will love taking this new adventure together!”
- Karen Kingsbury, New York Times best-selling author of Between Sundays and Ever After

“My only complaint about Robin’s latest is that now I want to hop a plane to England! But combine a cup of Earl Grey tea and this charming story and you’re halfway there. Another delightful tale about women helping women to live their lives to the fullest.”
- Melody Carlson, author of These Boots Weren’t Made for Walking and A Mile in My Flip-Flops

“Sisterchicks in Gondolas is a true delight. The characters shine, and evocative language will make any reader want to visit Venice. Biblical truths are portrayed simply, yet will touch hearts and lives with their realistic application.”
- Romantic Times magazine

Love as a Way of Life -- Another Contest!

I have two copies of this book to give away! Share with us something someone did for you that really demonstrated love, and leave an e-mail address so I can contact you if your name is drawn.

Summary: For decades Dr. Gary Chapman’s best-selling books have shown readers how to speak the “love language” of those they care about. Now he digs even deeper to uncover the foundations of what it means to cultivate a lifestyle of love and how doing so leads to satisfaction and success in every area of life.
Drawing fresh insights from timeless biblical principles, Chapman presents poignant stories of real people who have discovered the joys of living out the seven characteristics of authentic love: kindness, patience, forgiveness, humility, courtesy, generosity, and honesty. Enhanced with eye-opening self tests, practical ideas for building daily habits of love, and inspiring examples of love’s power to change lives, this book guides readers in putting love to work in all of their interpersonal relationships.
Convinced that in a world of constant conflict people desperately need authentic love, Chapman paints a compelling vision of how life can be richer and relationships more satisfying for anyone who practices Love As a Way of Life.

Gary Chapman is the author of twenty-five 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. Chapman, a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, Wheaton College , Wake-Forest University , and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, serves on the pastoral staff at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem , North Carolina .

1. Describe some of the everyday situations that can be changed if a person has a foundation of love.
When love becomes the focus of ones life it will change every encounter we have with people. In the family, the husband is thinking, “what can I do before I leave for work that would be helpful for my wife?” Such thinking may lead him to take the trash out, put his breakfast plates in the dishwasher or feed the baby while his wife takes a shower.
In the workplace, employees are asking, “on my break, what might I do that would help someone else?” They will also make time to listen to a co-worker who seems to be having a hard time with a personal issue.
At the bank, post office, or cafeteria, the lover will look people in the eye and smile, perhaps opening the door to a conversation. They will express interest in what is going on in the lives of those they encounter.
The focus is not on “it’s all about me.” But, rather on “It is all about others.”

2. What is the take-away message of Love as a Way of Life?
Love as a Way of Life is designed to help the person who sincerely wants to make a positive impact in the world. I believe that is ‘most of us.’ Our biggest problem is that we don’t know how and we keep getting tripped up by our own selfish ambitions. The purpose of the book is to help us break free from the prison of selfishness and come to experience the satisfaction of truly loving others as a way of life. It is little acts of love that build up to a lifestyle of service.

3. Why do you need a foundation of love before you start figuring out our love languages?
The five love languages give information on the most effective way to express love in a meaningful way to a particular person. But, if you are not a loving person – don’t have the heart or will to focus on others – the information is of little value. Most of us must make a conscious change of focus from self to others if we are going to genuinely, and consistently enrich the lives of others. Love as a Way of Life is designed to help people make that change.

4. When did you realize the need for this book?I first recognized the need for Love as a Way of Life when in a counseling session a husband said to me, “I’ll tell you right now, if it is going to take my washing dishes, and doing the laundry for my wife to feel loved, you can forget that.” I had just explained to him the concept of the five love languages and that his wife’s primary love language was ‘acts of service’ and that these acts would deeply communicate his love to her. I realized that he lacked the will to meet his wife’s need for love. He was locked into his own perception of what his role was to be and it did not include washing dishes and doing laundry. I knew at that moment that there was something more foundational than simply knowing a person’s love language.

5. What are the seven characteristics of lasting love?
I view love not as a single entity, but as a cluster of traits, which if developed will enhance all of life. These traits are:
Kindness: discovering the joy of helping others
Patience: accepting the imperfections of others
Forgiveness: finding freedom from the grip of anger
Courtesy: treating others as friends
Humility: stepping down so someone else can step up
Generosity: giving your time, money, and abilities to others
Honesty: caring enough to tell the truth

6. Why do you think it’s so hard for people to embrace these characteristics?All of us have some of these characteristics to some degree. Most people see love as being better than hate. But most of us are comfortable to live somewhere between love and hate in a lifestyle that is fundamentally focused on self. We feel good when we are making money, accumulating things, gaining status, but in time these things do not ultimately satisfy what I call the ‘true self’. The true self longs to make the world a better place to live. To do something to help those less fortunate than we.

However, we all suffer from the malady of being ego-centric. I call this the ‘false self’. It is that part of man that pulls him to focus on self-preservation and a self-centered lifestyle. This is not all bad. Indeed we must meet our own physical and emotional needs in order to continue life. It is when we never get beyond this self focus, that life becomes a ‘dog eat dog’ world where everyone is out for self even at the expense of others. Such a life never brings long-term satisfaction. However it is often later in life that people discover the emptiness of selfish living. I’m hoping that Love as a Way of Life will help people discover the satisfaction of developing the ‘true self’ earlier in life.

Check out Gary Chapman's Website here, and you can purchase the book on Amazon.

Don't forget to leave a story about the most loving gift you have ever received (along with your e-mail contact) so you can be entered in the drawing!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Wiser Than Serpents -- Contest!

Wiser Than Serpents


Susan May Warren

A note from Susan May Warren:
Did you know that there are 27 million people around the globe held as slaves today – more thank 80% of them women and children, and up to 50% minors. In fact, there are MORE slaves today than were in the time of William Wilberforce. That leaves me horrified, and it was those stats that compelled me to write a story with a human trafficking plotline.

Wiser than Serpents is a continuation of the Mission : Russia series, a thriller about Yanna, whose sister is snatched through a Russian dating service, and disappears. Yanna enlists the help of Delta Force Captain, David Curtiss to find and rescue her. Readers who’ve read, In Sheep’s Clothing and Sands of Time will recognize Yanna as the tech expert, and David as the solid Christian of the group. (Read the 5-Rose Review here!)

The book is written from the point of views of the rescuers, not the victims, and offers hope and empowerment, instead of feelings of helplessness. It raises awareness without lowering the standards of Christian fiction. However, the world is real, and the need to get involved is great. I so greatly admire people who take their beliefs and put action to them –hence why a portion of the proceeds of Wiser than Serpents is going to help the International Justice Mission, (, an organization dedicated to rescuing victims and fighting the scourge of slavery.

NOTE: Susan is donating 15% of the books royalties to the International Justice Mission (! Let’s help spread the word about the IJM and their vital work!

MY THOUGHTS: This book is really tough to put down. From the opening scene, Susan put you right in the center of the action in such a way that you aren't sure who is in charge! The writing is so dynamic that I almost felt like I was watching a movie. I was confused at a couple of points since this is the first book of the Assignment Russia series that I have read (I didn't realize it was a sequel), so I would recommend reading the other two (In Sheeps Clothing and The Sands of Time) before you dive into this one. This is a fabulous book that deals with a terrifying real life situation that the world seems to ignore.


When her sister vanishes into a human slave ring, FSB agent Yanna Andrevka is determined to rescue her. Unfortunately, she's in over her head, with no way out, especially after destroying the undercover operation of Delta Force Operative David Curtiss, who is deep undercover in the Twin Serpents crime syndicate. David has his hands full trying to save Yana, and his operation -- one that could rescue hundreds of women from the Serpent, or cost he and Yana their lives. The thrilling next chapter of the Mission : Russia series!

Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of seventeen novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep’s Clothing, a thriller set in Russia , was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and won the 2006 Inspirational Reader’s Choice award. A former missionary to Russia , Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time from her home in northern Minnesota .

Book Link for purchase:

Susan’s Website

Susan’s Blog

Contest Info! Susan will be giving away 3 SIGNED sets of the Mission: Russia (In Sheep’s Clothing, Sands of Time, and Wiser Than Serpents) series. To enter the contest…click on over to Susan’s blog tour post here ( and tell us which ministries/charities you support and why! Susan will randomly select three winners!

Check out what others are saying about this book at the Tour Schedule

Friday, July 11, 2008

Once Blind

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and her book:

Once Blind

Authentic (January 2, 2008)


Kay Marshall Strom is the author of thirtyone published books. Her writing credits also include numerous magazine articles, short stories, curriculum, stories for children, two prizewinning screenplays, and booklets for writers. In addition to her writing, Kay is a soughtafter speaker at seminars, retreats, and special events throughout the U.S. and around the world. Kay and her husband have together spoken in more than twenty countries. They make their home in Santa Barbara, California.

Visit her at her website.

Product Details

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Authentic (January 2, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934068276
ISBN-13: 978-1934068274


Chapter One


Donned in a freshly powdered wig and crisp clerical robe, Reverend John Newton stood in the pulpit of London’s stately St. Mary Woolnoth Church. He looked old. Old and profoundly weary. Still, since precious few seafaring men survived to see the age of sixty-five, who could say whether it was his years that wore on him or just this day?

Wealthy tradesmen and upper-class businessmen, accompanied by their exquisitely dressed families, had arrived early, and with much fanfare, settled themselves in the forward pews—their pews. Further back, the “ordinary folk” squeezed in close together . . . shopkeepers and laborers and widows and such—the people the reverend held particularly close to his heart. Visitors packed in behind and between and around the regulars, and spilled out into the aisles and entryways. They came from all over London . . . indeed, from across England, and even as far away as Scotland. Every Sunday was the same when John Newton was in the pulpit.

Reverend Newton leaned forward, squinting to make out the individual faces of his flock. It was no use. The people he had grown to love so dearly appeared as little more than a collective blur. His eyes, always weak, had grown so dim he could barely read his sermon notes. Just as well, perhaps. This might not be the day to see faces clearly.

“You know me for what I am,” Reverend Newton began. “Not a person of mighty consequence . . . only a great sinner saved by God’s grace.”

Rustling in the pews. Eyebrows raised and glances exchanged. Whispers.

“Some of you are aware of the fact that a Slavery Abolition Bill has been sent to Parliament,” the reverend continued. “As I have intimate knowledge of the slave trade, my dear William Wilberforce has requested my testimony before a select parliamentary committee. I consider myself bound in conscience to answer this call . . . to wash my hands of the guilt which threatens to constitute a national sin, stained with crimson dye.”

The rustling stopped and whispers ceased. Silence fell over St. Mary’s. It was almost as if the cathedral itself was holding its breath.

With the slightest tremor of weariness, Reverend Newton continued: “Since I agreed to appear, I have received repeated threats from some who benefit most by the cursed trade. They say that if I insist on going through with my testimony, they will reveal to you, my dear parishioners and friends, the darkest evils of my own wretched past life. I will be publicly shamed and humiliated. Even forced from the ministry. They accuse me of being a hypocrite. Well, my friends, I can only say that I hope it will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me that I was once an instrument in this awful business at which my heart now shudders.”

An uneasy shuffling among those in the forward pews.

“Every age seems to have people who have made a habit of evil, who have had to look up in order to see the bottom,” said Reverend Newton. “Yet in the day of God’s power, they are saved and transformed. They become an example to other believers, giving them an opportunity to praise God for his amazing grace. I, my good people, was one of these. God saved me so that people would look at me and say, ‘If God could save John Newton, he can save anyone.’ Surely you can understand, then, that my silence at such a time as this would be criminal . . . even though my words come too late to prevent or repair the misery and horror to which I was an accessory.”

Many of those crowded into the church that morning owed their livelihoods—indeed, some great fortunes—to the slave trade. Of this fact, John Newton was well aware. Besides, these people worshipped in a respected cathedral of the Church of England, not in a meetinghouse of Quakers or, even worse, of Dissenters. Not in the expected haunts of evangelical rabble-rousers.

“Those of you who have read my publication, Narrative, must think you know me well. But had I given details of the wickedness of my heart and life, it would have been too shocking for my readers to bear.”

As Reverend Newton’s passion grew, a new strength and authority overtook him. His weariness fell off like a worn-out cloak.

“No, my dear friends!” he exclaimed. “You will not hear it from them! You will hear it from me. I will tell you my story. . . .”

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wind River

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Wind River

(Bethany House July 1, 2008)


Tom Morrisey


Tom Morrisey is a mountaineer, aviator, shipwreck diver, and explorer, who holds a Full Cave certification from the National Speleological Society - Cave Diving Section.

He has launched, edited or contributed to numerous national publications and is an award-winning adventure-travel writer. A popular speaker, he is also active in both evangelism and the arts. Morrisey earned an MFA in creative writing from Bowling Green State University, and his fiction has been featured in numerous anthologies and magazines.

His first novel, Yucatan Deep (Zondervan, 2002) was a finalist for the Christy award, and he is the author of four other novels: In High Places (Bethany House Publishers, 2007), Dark Fathom (Zondervan, 2005), Deep Blue, (Zondervan 2004), and Turn Four (Zondervan 2004). In addition Tom has also written two nonfiction books: 20 American Peaks & Crags (Contemporary Books, 1978) and Wild by Nature (Baker Books, 2001). He and his family live in Orlando, Florida.


You Can't Outrun the Sins of Your Past
Desperate to forget what happened to him in Iraq, Tyler Perkins flees to the emptiness of Wyoming. He's here to escape and also to fulfill a long-ago promise by accompanying his 86-year-old friend Soren Andeman on a fly-fishing trip--once more for old time's sake. But their trek to an idyllic trout lake soon becomes something more deeply harrowing--a journey that uncovers long-held lies, deadly crimes, and the buried secrets of the past. Ty barely has time to contemplate the question of what constitutes justice when nature unleashes her own revenge. Trapped in a race back to safety, he must face his own guilt-ridden past or risk being consumed.

Powerfully imagined by the acclaimed author of In High Places, Wind River is an engaging wilderness adventure that explores the power of confession, the beauty of forgiveness, and the freedom of truth unveiled.

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

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Edge of Recall

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Edge Of Recall

(Bethany House July 1, 2008)


Kristen Heitzmann


Of her three main interests, art, music and writing, she chose to study English at the University of Colorado and thrived on Creative Writing and Literature classes. She married her husband Jim, and turned her energy to building a family. They have four children whom they have home schooled for all or most of their education. Kristen is a music minister with the ecumenical covenant community People of Praise.

Once she realized the stories in her head were truly a calling from the Lord, she made writing not just a passion, but a ministry. She has written seven historical fiction novels as part of the The Rocky Mountain Legacy series, the Diamond of the Rockies series, and the Christy Award winner Secrets. Most recently, she has written several contemporary fiction novels, including Echoes, Freefall and Unforgotten.

Kristen and her husband, Jim, and their family live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she serves as worship leader in their church.


Tessa Young, an up-and-coming landscape architect who specializes in the design and creation of labyrinths, has immersed herself in the mythological, spiritual, and healing aspects of the elaborate structures. She also is searching for God and hoping to make sense of the nightmares that have plagued her since childhood.

When Smith Chandler, an estranged colleague--with whom she'd half fallen in love a dozen times before catching herself every time--calls to propose a project he claims is the opportunity of a lifetime, she reluctantly agrees to check it out. Smith is reconstructing a pre-Revolutionary War abbey for wealthy clients. Among its remarkable features is an overgrown labyrinth.

Unable to resist, Tessa accepts his offer to work with him. Soon she is immersed in the project of a lifetime. But one evening, after weeks of work in the labyrinth, Tessa and Smith are attacked. While protecting Tessa, Smith is stabbed, and the nightmare begins...again.

If You would like to read the first chapter, go HERE

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Love Begins With Elle

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and her book:

Love Starts with Elle

Thomas Nelson (July 8, 2008)


Rachel Hauck is a graduate of Ohio State University, and is a former software trainer. She published her first novel in 2004. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband, Tony, a youth pastor.

Some of Rachel's other books are:
Sweet Caroline
Diva Nash Vegas
Lost In Nash Vegas

Visit her at her website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 8, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595543384
ISBN-13: 978-1595543387


Chapter One

December 21

From the loft of her Bay Street art gallery, Elle Garvey leaned against the waist-high wall, admiring GG Galley’s “Art in Christ-mas” show. Visitors and patrons—some Beaufort residence, others curious tourists—milled among the displays, speaking in low tones, sipping hot cider.

The mellow voice of Andy Williams serenaded them. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . .”

“Elle,areyouthequeen,surveyingherkingdom?” Arlene Coulter gazed up from the bottom of the loft stairs, her bright red Christmas suit its own fashion work of art.

“Yes, and are you my loyal servant?”

Arlene curtsied,her bottle-blonde hair falling forward like silky angel hair, the hem of her skirt sliding up her knee. “Yours and yours alone, O you of whom Art News wrote, ‘One of the lowcountry’s finest galleries.’”

“Best hundred-dollar bribe I ever spent.” Elle descended the stairs, catching sight of her baby sister, Julianne, selling a bronze sculpture to a young woman wearing pearls.

“Darling”—Arlene linked arms with Elle and led her to the back wall—“your artist eye is truly God gifted.Tell me now . . . is this the work of the great Alyssa Porter?”

“It is.” Elle surveyed the paintings. They spoke to her each time she viewed them. She envied Alyssa and artists like her—the ones who had the courage to chase the dream.

Elle had lost hers a long time ago.

“And what do you like about this artist?” Arlene squeezed Elle’s arm tighter.

“Her paintings move me.” Elle freed herself from Arlene and moved to Alyssa’s Rose Garden, convinced it’d be a masterpiece one day.

“Move you?” Arlene studied one of the abstracts through a one-eyed slit, her short, red-tipped fingers squeezing the point of her chin. “I suppose they move me too. I’m just not sure where.”

“You’re looking for a definite image, Arlene. Don’t be so con-crete. Let your imagination run ...” Elle hooked her arm around the woman’s shoulders. “Follow my hand. See how you just moved out of the sunlight into the shade?”

“No, but, girl, I really love your bracelets. Where’d you get those?” Arlene grabbed Elle’s wrist to study the tricolor bangles.

“You beat all, Arlene.” Elle twisted her hand free.

“Well,a good set of bracelets is hard to find.” Arlene gazed again at the painting. “So, what should I do about Miss Porter?”

“Buyher.The New York art scene has discovered Alyssa and if you don’t purchase something before her first auction, you’ll never be able to afford it. Here...” Elle walked to the other side of the display. “This one on the bottom right is only two thousand dollars.”

Arlene stood an inch way from the bottom painting,tipping her head to one side. The track lighting haloed the back of her head.

“I’m afraid if I buy one of these I’ll wake up one night with the dang thing hanging over my head whispering,‘I see dead people.’”

“If it does, call Pastor O’Neal, not me.”

Arlene bent in half as if she hung upside down, then snapped upright. “What about this artist over here. Coco Nelson. Now this I get. Look—a woman’s face, with eyes and hair.”

“Coco’s a wonderful artist,” Elle said. “Very realistic work. This series is called ‘Love and Romance.’”

“Very fitting for you, sugar.” Arlene arched a brow at Elle.

“This piece, Proposal, is stunning.” Her voice rose and fell into a

Elle ignore her subtle teasing. “Yes, there’s something about it.
An ordinary gentleman down on one knee proposing to an ordinary

But the emotion Coco evoked in the scene was anything but ordinary. When she’d sent in the piece, Elle couldn’t hang it at first. Too embarrassed after last year’s Operation Wedding Day fiasco when she tried to date every available bachelor in Beaufort. She wanted no reminders of love and romance.

Until Jeremiah Franklin.

“Okay.” Arlene spun around. “I’ll take the Alyssa Porter and this Coco Nelson.”

“You won’t regret it.”

“Says who?” Arlene passed Alyssa’s abstract piece again, sidestepping the image as if it might spring to life and spar with her.

Elle laughed, leading the way to her desk across the old, former hardware store. She treasured the talented, sometimes whacky, interior designer who landed lowcountry clients like doctors, lawyers, and hotel developers. In the early days of GG Gallery, business from Coulter Designs had helped keep the gallery lights burning and
Elle’s hopes alive.

“What’s the damage?” Arlene flashed her checkbook.

“Hold on, now, let me add a few more zeroes.” Elle jammed her finger on the adding machine’s Zero button.

“Add all you want. I’m only writing three.” Arlene fanned her face with her opened checkbook. “So, how’s it going with the good pastor?”

The mere hint of Dr. Jeremiah Franklin made Elle feel bubbly. “Good.”

“If the glow on your cheeks is any indication, I’d say it’s more than good. How long y’all been together now? Few months?”

“Two.” Elle wrote up Arlene’s order with a ten-percent discount.

“And it’s love?” Arlene leaned to see Elle’s eyes. “Don’t tell me it ain’t ’cause I can see it written all over your face.”

“Here.” Elle laughed low, passing over the order ticket with the total circled. “I appreciate your business—and nosiness—Arlene.”

“Any time, sugar. Any time.” Arlene peeked at the total, then started to write.

“Hey, babe.”


He still took her breath away after two months. When he’d told her he loved her in the setting sunlight during a beach walk, Elle had handed him her heart on a silver—no, gold—platter. Key included.

“Jer, what are you doing here?” She met him on the other side of her desk and stepped into his arms. His fragrance awakened her yearnings.

“I’m on my way to rehearse tomorrow’s sermon. Couldn’t pass the gallery without stopping in for a minute.” His kiss was soft and sweet, a pastorly display of public affection. But enough to make Elle glad to be a woman. His woman. “We’re still on for dinner?”

“Absolutely. You still haven’t said where you wanted to go.”

Jeremiah’s hazel wink teased her. “Patience, girl. Do you have to know everything?”

“Do you not know me after these few months?”

“Exactly . . .” He stooped for another soft kiss and backed away. “Good to see you, Arlene.”

“You too, Dr. Franklin.” Arlene watched Jeremiah exit the building with a wave. “Hmm-um, Elle, it must be breaking your heart.” Rippp. She handed over her check.

“What? What are you talking about?” Elle brushed the check absently between her fingers.

Arlene gaped at Elle with an “Um, what now?” expression, then punched the air with a darn-it fist, chewing her bottom lip. “Me and my mouth. Shoot fire, my Dirk will kill me.” She clutched her buttercolored Dooney & Burke to her chest. “Just forget I said anything, Elle. I am so sorry.” She whirled around and hurried away with a
swirling, swing-swing of her hips. “See you in church.”

“Oh no you don’t.” Arlene’s diverse network of informants was infamous—a mixture of truth and town lore, and eerily accurate. Elle scurried after her, blocking her before she reached the door. “You can’t drop a bomb like that then wiggle out of here with a ‘see you in church.’ What were you talking about?”

“First of all, I have a very natural swing to my hips. It’s what caught Dirk’s eye in the first place, mind you. As for the other, well, Elle, Jeremiah can tell you himself. Don’t worry. It’s good, I think.” She squared her red-jacketed shoulders. “Like I said, see you in church.”

Elle watched her go, thoughts racing. Jeremiah had just been here. He’d acted perfect, like always. What was Arlene talking about? This time her information network must have supplied the wrong details. What did you hear, Arlene Coulter?

“Elle, Mrs. Beisner is curious about a discount for buying three pieces.” Julianne held out an order pad, tapping the total. During art show openings and art fairs, Elle’s baby sister worked part time for GG Gallery. “What do you think, fifteen percent?”

“Sure.” Elle raked her hair with her fingers. “Whatever she wants.”

Julianne observed her sister through narrowed eyes. “Whatever she wants? Elle, are you okay?”

“I don’t know.” Elle walked around Jules to her desk and opened the bottom drawer where her handbag lived. “Can you watch the gallery for me?”

“Where are you going?”

“To uncover a rumor.” She didn’t feel like waiting until dinner to hear his news—if there was any news.

“Now?” Julianne called after her.

“I won’t be long.” But the front door was blocked by Huckleberry Johns and his fish tank of eco art. Oh, please, not tonight. “Huck, what are you doing? You’re dripping muddy water all over my clean floor.”

With a lopsided grin, he scanned the gallery, vying for attention. “I call it Death at Coffin Creek.” He raised his composition of reeking pluff mud and marsh grass. “Developers are ruining our ecosystem.”

Elle dropped her shoulders in fake defeat. “Huckleberry, you are too good-looking and too young to be so weird.” She grabbed his shoulders and turned him around. “Out. You’re stinking up the place. Julianne, we need a mop up here.”

Huck was an art school dropout—or, rather, they’d dropped him—and he hit the sidewalk, protesting, “I deserve to be heard.”

“Not in my gallery.” Elle stepped out after him. “Right message, wrong venue, Huck.”


Elle’s smile broke. “Slob. Talk about it later?”

“It may be too late.”

“For who? You or Coffin Creek?” Elle backed up the sidewalk in the direction of her car.

“You.” Huck hollered between his wide grin, spinning off in the opposite direction, disappearing around the corner.

Elle held the sanctuary door so it closed quietly without squeaking or thudding. She paused for her eyes to adjust to the dim light, then spotted Jeremiah up front, striding across the stage as he rehearsed his sermon, his lips moving in silent recitation.

His movement was graceful and controlled, an extension of his inner being.

“He can preach up a storm, that one.” A slight, round-shouldered, snowy-haired Miss Anna Carlisle emerged from one of the sanctuary’s dark pockets, jabbing her finger toward Jeremiah.

“Then we should bring our umbrellas tomorrow,” Elle said, giving Miss Anna’s shoulders a hug.

“Best to be prepared, I suppose.” Miss Anna’s pushed open the sanctuary door. “I’m praying for that boy,” she said with a wag of her finger. “And you.” Her words were intentional and steady.

“For me?” Elle asked.

“For you.”

Elle regarded her for a moment. “Are you walking? Can I give you a ride?” Elle went with the older woman through the foyer to the outer doors.

“I do believe it’s a fine, crisp evening for walking.” She buttoned the top button of her blue sweater and buried her hands in the frayed pockets. Elle thought the garment’s spacious weave would do little against the night’s chill. “Good night, Elle.”

“Are you sure you want to walk, Miss Anna?”

“I’m sure.”

Elle watched her until she disappeared between the trees and night lights. Then, back inside, she slipped into the back pew and watched Jeremiah practice his message. She’d never met a man like him—one who breathed in confidence and exhaled all doubt.

Her emotions tugged between the man she knew and Arlene’s slipup. What’s going on, Jeremiah? If anything?

Even for a Saturday-night sermon rehearsal, Jeremiah wore gray slacks and a starched cotton button-down. For the hundredth time, Elle wondered how he’d survived three years in the National Football League, three years of Bible college, and seven years of full-time ministry single.

But she wasn’t complaining. God had saved the best for her.

Under the low stage lights, Jeremiah paused as if waiting for a response. He acted out a laugh, making his way to center stage with an even gait. At the podium, he gripped the sides and leaned toward the empty sanctuary, bobbing his head to the beat of internal words. Can I get an “Amen,” somebody?

Why not oblige? “Amen.” Elle rose from the pew as Jeremiah squinted beyond the spotlights into the shadowy sanctuary.

“Elle, babe? Is that you?” He came off the stage with a touchdown power stride. “Is everything all right?”

“Yeah, fine, but”—she met him in the middle of the aisle—“I heard a rumor.”

He growled, teasing her. “Is that ever good?” He touched his lips to hers with the passion that came when they were alone. “What kind of rumor?”

“Something about you and my breaking heart, Jeremiah.”

“And who delivered such almost horrifying news?” He locked his arms around her waist, his hazel eyes searching hers.

“Arlene Coulter, though she stopped herself when she saw I didn’t know what she was talking about.”

“She heard from her husband, one of our trusty elders?”

“Who else?” Elle broke her gaze from Jeremiah’s, smoothing her hand over the crisp surface of his shirt.

“You’d think the man would know better after twenty-five years of marriage.”

“And what should I know after two months of dating?”

He brushed her hair away from her shoulder, letting his fingertips graze her skin. “Can it wait for dinner?”

His touch was fiery to her. “You tell me. Can it?”

“Are we answering questions with questions?”

“Are we?” Some time in the past week they’d started this new back-and-forth questions-with-questions dance.

“Did I start this, or you?”

“Does it matter?”

“Only if we want to get off this ride.” He pressed his lips to hers again, breathing deep.

His kisses defied all bad news.

“Tell you what.” He held up his wrist to see his watch in the stage light. “I’m almost done here. Another thirty minutes. What time does the gallery close?”


“Can Julianne close up for you? We’ll slip off to dinner.”

“If I pay her.” Elle brushed her hand down the sleeve his oxford shirt. “That girl’s all about moh-ney.” She eyed him. “Monet. Mo-net . . . Get it?”

“Yes, I get it. Artist jokes. So, meet me here in thirty?” He walked backward to the stage. “Remember, I love you.”

“What’s up, Dr. Franklin? If I have to remember . . .” She caught the high and low contours of his face as he stood under the lights. “Not a good sign.”

His smile dried up the beginnings of her self-pity. “Just remember, Elle.”