Thursday, March 29, 2012

Healing Your Church Hurt

Anyone who has ever been part of a church has most likely gone through a church hurt. If you haven't, you probably know someone who has had a bitter experience.  New York Times bestselling author Stephen Mansfield suffered with his own church pain when he was a pastor; In the pages of  Healing Your Church Hurt ( previously published as ReChurch), he walks us through, not only his own pain, but gives examples of others who have experienced this.

Whether you were in a position of leadership, or an attendee who chose to not be involved with other church activities, or somewhere in between, the chances of being hurt are present, and can make a powerful impact. Hurts do not have to be a permanent wedge between you and the church or your relationship with God. It also does not matter whether you were wronged, or the one who caused the problem; the point is to seek out the place where you are serving God for His pleasure. We too often set our expectations on what feels right to us, and then blame the church when others fail to reach our standards and wants. I especially liked the chapter that discussed what attitude you should have if it does become necessary for you to find another community of believers to join. The pastor, the building, the music, the opportunities, etc---each may make for your happiness, but, what happens when circumstances change? What are you looking for when you seek another church? More importantly, are you working through your pain and using this as growth and maturity? Stephen looks at church hurts from a variety of angles and offers comfort and constructive criticism in order to facilitate healing.

This book is great whether it is you going through the hurt and healing process, or to give to another who needs it. Make sure you check out the following:
Stephen Mansfield's website and blog
Stephen Mansfield on Facebook
Read the 1st chapter of healing Your Church Hurt

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment if you would like the chance to win a copy of this book for your personal library, or to donate to your pastor or church library. It is certainly a good one to have on hand when someone is dealing with this painful issue. I will do a random drawing to select the winner on Wed., April 4, 2012 at 9pm (CDT).

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Special Delivery by Kathi Macias

Interview with Kathi Macias from her current blog tour:

Special Delivery is book two in the Freedom (human trafficking) series. For anyone who may not have read book one, Deliver Me From Evil, can you fill us in on the focus of the series in general, and Special Delivery in particular?

The Freedom series is a three-book fiction series built around the horrifying topic of human trafficking. People often ask me why I decided to write about such a dark topic. First, I explain that I’m not writing about a dark topic; I’m writing about the Light that shines in that darkness. And second, I believe the Church should be at the forefront of the modern-day abolition movement to set the captives (modern-day slaves) free. The three books in this series specifically follows the life of a young woman named Mara, who was sold into sexual slavery by her own parents in Mexico, and then smuggled across the border into San Diego by her uncle who then served as her pimp. A strong sub-plot throughout the series tells of two sisters in the Golden Triangle of Thailand, Chanthra and Lawan, who are also trapped in a brothel. Finally, a teenage girl named Francesca, kidnapped in Juarez, Mexico, and forced into prostitution, is introduced in book two. Special Delivery picks up two years after book one, Deliver Me From Evil, ends, and continues with the stories of Mara and Lawan, as well as others carried over from book one. Mara hopes she is finally free to pursue her own life because she was rescued from the brothel and her testimony helped lock up her uncle for life. But the man has underground connections and is driven by revenge to reach out from behind bars and deliver the ultimate punishment to his niece.

This isn’t the first fiction series you’ve written on nationwide and even worldwide social issues, the one previous to this being the persecuted Church. What draws you to these difficult topics?

As a Christian, I believe I am compelled to use my God-given gifts to honor God in all I do—and that includes exposing the deeds of darkness, calling sinners to repentance, and taking a stand for righteousness by doing all I can to help rescue those who are suffering. I dare not turn my back on “the least of these.” I also believe that God placed this sort of burden on my heart even before I became a Christian at the age of 26. I’ve always been a champion of the underdog, a “soap-box” preacher, if you will. When I met Jesus, I simply redirected that passion toward His people, realizing I couldn’t effect real change in my own strength anyway.

With your obvious passion to right social and moral wrongs through the power of the Gospel, how did writing and speaking enter into that?

I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I was a child—never wanted to do anything else. When I was a teenager I told my then boyfriend (now husband) that I was going to be a writer one day. What a blessing that God allowed me to fulfill that dream! After becoming a believer and growing in my faith, it was natural to take my passion to fight for others and incorporate it into my writing. Speaking, on the other hand, was an entirely different story. I was terrified of public speaking when I was young, and the day I received Christ I made a “bargain” with God, promising to do anything He asked of me—so long as it didn’t include public speaking. (Does God have a sense of humor or what???) Now, when I stand in front of audiences where I believe God has called me to speak (and actually find myself enjoying it!), I tell my listeners that if God has called them to do something and they feel it’s impossible, they can consider me their “visual aid” that NOTHING is impossible with God IF we will simply take that first step of obedience and let Him fulfill His purpose in and through us.

With the topics of the worldwide persecuted Church and human trafficking under your belt, what other issues are you dealing with in your writing?

My Christmas 2011 book, A Christmas Journey Home, dealt with the immigration/border problem, and my Christmas 2012 novel, Unexpected Christmas Hero, will be about homelessness in America. The next issues-related fiction series I have on tap—which I am just starting to write, by the way—is called the “Patches of Courage” series and will begin releasing in late January 2013. Book one is The Moses Quilt, based on the life of Harriet Tubman, and will be followed by The Christmas Quilt and The Impossible Quilt. This series of books will highlight historical American women whose Christian faith enabled them to walk in great courage and make a difference in the lives of countless people.

Where can people find out about you and your books/speaking/appearances?


They can go directly to my website (www.kathimacias.com or www.boldfiction.com) or my Easy Writer blog: http://kathieasywritermacias.blogspot.com. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, and various other social sites. Would love to hear from all of you!

Where can people find out about free book giveaways on this blog tour?

The blog tour host is giving away a set of two books from the Freedom Series -  Book 1 (Deliver Me From Evil) and Book 2 (Special Delivery). Also, readers can follow @ChristianSpkrs on Twitter or follow on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CSSVBT.TheFreedomSeries for more book giveaway locations on the tour.

GIVEAWAY: I have a copy of Special Delivery to giveaway also, and will make a random selection from those who leave a comment on this blog post between now and 2pm (CDT), Tuesday, April 3, 2012. I read the book and found it to be a very thought-provoking and eye-opening look into a world I cannot begin to imagine. In recent years I have become more aware of the horror of human trafficking and this is an evil that we all need to work to eradicate. I definitely recommend this book and want to read the other 2 in the series also. (As a side note, enough background info if provided about the previous book that you can read book 2 without being confused.) Watch the video below...and please leave a comment!!



I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speakers Services (http://ChristianSpeakersServices.com).

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Perfect Pet For Peyton

This wonderfully imaginative children’s hardcover book by bestselling authors Gary Chapman and Rick Osborne, featuring four-color illustrations (with hidden details!) by Wilson Williams, Jr., will help children learn the importance of love. Based on Gary’s highly successful The 5 Love Languages®, A Perfect Pet for Peyton tells an entertaining and playful story of five children who each, with the help of Mr. Chapman and the unique pets at his special emporium, discover their own personal love language. Children and parents alike will experience firsthand the power of the love languages as they cuddle up and spend precious time together reading this book over and over again.

Younger kids will love this day spent with twins, Peyton and Penny, as they celebrate their birthday with 3 friends at Mr. Chapman's Perfect Pet Pal Emporium!! The bright colors and invitations to search for the various animals on the picture make this book one that younger kids will eagerly want to become engaged in and is sure to provide a lot of fun. Plus, as they play, and the story unfolds it gives the adult a chance to gain a better understanding of the child they are sharing with, and for the child to become more aware of the various ways of receiving and expressing love and appreciation. Based on the popular 5 Love Languages, this creative story is a great teaching tool, enjoyable read, and bonding experience that is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

To learn more about this product and others, go to
 

The 5 Love Languages: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/drgarychapman

GIVEAWAY: There is also a copy of this book available for me to offer to a reader. Please leave a comment below, or on my page if you wish to be entered. Contest ends 11pm (CDT) April 1, 2012.
  
 “Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or
services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it 
on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally 
and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance 
with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the 
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

God Loves Broken People

The latest book release by Sheila Walsh is one that will speak to many people. God Loves Broken People (And Those Who Pretend They're Not) is not a book designed to make all of your problems evaporate with a sprinkling of Scripture, or buzz words to make you feel good about yourself. Nor, does it make any guarantees that all of your brokenness can be placed firmly in the past. However, it is filled with stories of others who have faced sorrow and insecurities and assures the reader that God can be trusted and does love us.

"It’s not that God loves broken people more than those who imagine themselves to be whole―it’s simply that they know they are loved. They dare to believe it . . . and through such trust, a new wholeness emerges from yesterday’s broken pieces." ~ from the book jacket. From personal experience, I know that it often feels during the times of bleakness that God simply doesn't love you. The reminders that His promises are for all of us who seek Him and that He longs for a relationship with His people are a great reassurance. Sometimes what we know in our head, can be overpowered by what we are feeling. Logic can flee when sorrow invades, so that is the times we need to cling to what we know to be true.

This wasn't the most profound book I have ever read, but it did provide glimmers of light and hope to those going through a time of darkness. Sometimes, the lighter fare is easier to absorb and several of the anecdotes did speak to me, and cause me to think from a slightly different angle. The Bible studies that go along with the chapters are good for both self-evaluation or for a discussion group. Just the reminder that God may allow part of my life to be broken, but is able to use those broken pieces for a much greater purpose was reason enough for me to be glad I read this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”





Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Woodcarver dvd & giveaway

The Woodcarver, subtitled WWJD2, is not really a sequel to WWJD (John Schneider), but a continuation of the theme. When their lives get too busy for each other and God, Jack (Woody Jeffreys) and Rita (  Nicole Oliver ) only argue whenever they are together. When his parents marriage fell apart, their teenaged son Matthew (Dakota Daulby) prays. When God doesn't appear to answer, Matthew reacts with rebellion and vandalizes the church. The pastor and deacons choose not to press charges, if Matthew is made to help repair the damages. An unlikely friendship develops between Matthew and Ernest Otto (John Ratzenberger ), the man who did the original wood carvings. After Mattie quits school and threatens to run away from home, his parents reluctant allow him to stay with Mr. Otto to defuse the growing resentment the boy has toward everyone. Mr. Otto challenges Matthew to think about each decision he makes by first asking himself, "What would Jesus do?"


This is a very good film for family viewing or for youth groups. Many kids have to deal with disappointments, divorce, changes, and obstacles that cause them to want to lash out in anger. Learning that Jesus and the Bible are not outmoded, but relevant for today is a lesson well worth repeating.  Romans 12:2 tells us, "Don’t become like the people of this world. Instead, change the way you think. Then you will always be able to determine what God really wants—what is good, pleasing, and perfect." (God's Word translation). To put it even more simply, the Christian mindset asks, "What Would Jesus Do?"
  “Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, March 2, 2012

Green Eggs & Ham

A true tale of tenacity and suspense!! Green eggs and ham are being offered in a variety of settings: In a box? With a fox? In the rain? On a train? In a house? With a mouse? Here? There? Anywhere? Sam goes over and beyond to offer his friend a location and companionship in a conviction that, once sampled, said friend will find great delight in this exquisite culinary delight.

 The friend's stubborn refusal to capitulate does not deter Sam! Indeed, his persistence...    
          


*** SPOILER ALERT ***

eventually does wear down his recalcitrant friend. Will his initial refusal be proven to be a case of following one's instinct and being proven correct? Or, will this be a lesson on the joy to be found in trying new things? I will let you read for yourself whether the friend's agreement to taste this colorful meal meets with triumph or tragic results.


In memory of Dr. Seuss, let's celebrate the anniversary of his birth by ENJOYING a classic book!! ;)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


"I do so like
green eggs and ham!
Thank you!
Thank you,
Sam-I-am"

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Miami Vineyard Live cd review & giveaway

What happens when a group of 20+ musicians and 10+ songwriters steeped deep in their own musical traditions of Black Gospel, Latin, Caribbean, and Anglo come together to create a new tradition and sound? What happens when the fusion of Black, Anglo, Latino, Caribbean, and Cuban voices unite together to worship in one voice? Among the 2000 people that attend the Miami Vineyard Community Church, there are over a hundred singers, instrumentalists and songwriters that make up its eclectic worship ministry. For one night, these musicians joined together in worship and invited the church to document the sound that is uniquely MIAMI VINEYARD LIVE.
This distinctive bi-lingual liturgy is filled with many flavors, from Latino claves to gospel two-step to funk and soul to delay-laden rock guitars of modern worship, yet they all work together seamlessly to create a new sound and voice that is authentic and refreshing. From anthems of praise and proclamation to songs of intimacy and adoration, there is a common thread running deep throughout this recording and that is true worship of the Living God as an expression of His Kingdom breaking in on the streets and beaches of Miami, FL. (from the website)

Website: http://www.vineyardmusic.com/vm/miami-live

 This cd is certainly a mixture of different sounds, and everyone is sure to find a style or song that really speaks to them. As I was listening to me, I thought that it would be great for the person who likes to use praise music as part of their work-out routine. There are some very high energy songs, but also has some slower ones that would work for a cool-down. Yet, most important, each song points you straight to God and you find yourself totally worshiping your Creator.

GIVEAWAY: An extra cd has been provided for the winner of the Rafflecopter drawing. Enter below!

The Guardian Duke

 The Guardian Duke is award-winning novelist Jamie Carie’s most exciting story yet, a uniquely arranged Regency-era romantic adventure where hero and heroine know each other through written letters but have yet to meet. Gabriel, the Duke of St. Easton, is ordered by the King to take guardianship over Lady Alexandria Featherstone whose parents are presumed dead after failing to return from a high profile treasure hunt. But Alexandria ignores this royal reassignment, believing her parents are still alive and duly following clues that may lead to their whereabouts. Gabriel, pressured by what are actually the King’s ulterior motives, pursues her across windswept England and the rolling green hills of Ireland but is always one step behind. When they do meet, the search for earthly treasure will pale in comparison to what God has planned for both of them. ( Forgotten Castles series Facebook page )


Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Guardian-Duke-Forgotten-Castles-Novel/dp/1433673223/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1328570148&sr=8-1

I admit that I got hooked on Regency era fiction many years ago when I picked up a few Georgette Heyer books at a used book store. So, when offered the opportunity to read and review the first book in the Forgotten Castle series, I eagerly agreed. The Guardian Duke  is a little bit different from many I have read that center on locations in London or country estates. Alexandria has led a lonely, yet independent life in an isolated area. Her character is naive, but also determined and imaginative in finding ways to do what she thinks is best. Gabriel is facing a disturbing personal crisis, and his unexpected guardianship of Alexandria brings a new zest in his life. She most certainly is not the docile child that he thought had been foisted upon him. Their relationship is formed solely through letters (today, it would be Facebook! lol), so it is interesting to watch what develops as each pursue their goal Alexandria, her parents...and Gabriel, his new ward. This is a light read, but an enjoyable one. I caught myself giggling several times and the decriptions of people and places captured my imagination without bogging me down with a lot of needless information. It definitely ends with you wanting more, so I am looking forward to the second book in the series!

Great news! I can offer a copy of this book, so I hope everyone will enter the contest. It is a really fun read!!