Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Miraculous Hypostatic Union

We had the honor of seeing Dr. Robert Gromacki of Cedarville College at Bayside Community Church on Sunday, December 27, 2009.
In the first session, he taught us about the Hypostatic Union of Christ. No one else, living or dead, has had this miraculous aspect of being. Jesus Christ alone had a true and perfect humanity, as well as the full divinity of God Almighty.
Hypo comes from the Greek root "Huppo," which means "under."
Static, also from the Greek root,"stasis," which means "stands."
One would think it means understand, but it actually means Christ stands under two entirely different natures: Humanity AND Deity.
Christ had a miraculous conception and birth. As Dr. Gromacki pointed out, a virgin bride could conceive the first time she experiences physical love with her husband, so a virgin conception isn't actually a miracle. However, the miracle of Christ's conception is that His mother had no interaction with a man. She was as pure as the driven snow, even when she brought forth her first born son. It was a natural birth--Christ didn't levitate out of Mary's womb. Jesus shows the Hypostatic Union even in his birth: normal delivery, yet divine, being born of a virgin.
He had normal human development. Although the Bible doesn't reveal anything about his childhood, we know he went to Jerusalem at the age of twelve with his family. In His human nature, he joined in familial rituals, yet in His Divinity, He taught Scripture in the temple as a boy. He had normal human experiences: birth, love, grief, joy, temptation, anger, pain, and death.
But they were transcended by His divine nature. He loved his friend Lazarus and grieved at his passing...before raising him from the dead. He was tempted by the devil, yet rebuked each temptation with Scripture. The den of thieves in the temple angered Him, and again He used Scripture to support turning over the tables. He suffered pain and an agonizing death as a human, but as God He is risen (He is risen, indeed!).
Christ is a theanthropic person. Another lesson in Greek: Theo = God, and thropic = man. Make no mistake, Jesus is not a man who achieved Godness, He is God in the flesh.
He has two natures, but is not two separate people. It doesn't mean He's schizophrenic. He has two different kinds of consciousness: Divine and human. As man, He hungered. As God, He created bread. His two natures weren't altered by their union within Him. God doesn't change in His basic essence. He didn't give up His attributes to become flesh.
Both divine and human characteristics can be attributed to Jesus under any of His names or titles, whether divine or human.
The Union of the two natures was not changed by His death and resurrection. He still bears the scars of the cross.
He manifested both natures at a single event; such as when He when the woman with a hemorrhage sought healing from Him, but He had to ask, "Who touched My robe?" As God, He felt the power leave Him, but as human, didn't know who had taken it.
I signed up with Compass Ministry years ago to receive their daily Good Morning, Lord messages. They had a mini-Bible study on this same topic on 12-24-09. Here is their explanation of Hypostatic Union:
MINI BIBLE STUDY FOR THE DAY One of the most interesting doctrines in the Bible is that of Jesus being 100 percent God, and at the same time being 100 percent man (referred to as "hypostatic union"). None of us has ever seen Deity -- we only know what we read in scripture. Nor have we seen perfect humanity -- we only know what we read about in the Bible about pre-fallen Adam and our Lord. So it is somewhat difficult to grasp the fact that Jesus retained all His divine attributes while possessing all human attributes. His humanity is also seen in these verses: Matt. 4:2 "And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry." John 19:28 ". . . Jesus . . . said, 'I am thirsty.'" My only concern with their opinion is referring to Jesus as 100% man. There is one aspect of humanity that Jesus didn't carry, and that is sin. That doesn't make him 98% man (or more correctly, 2% man). It means that Jesus is 100% God and 100% perfect man. In the second session, Dr. Gromacki discussed "Why Was the Incarnation Necessary?"
Stay tuned...that will be the next topic of discussion.

Friday, December 11, 2009


As we all rush around in the Christmas season, we often lose sight of why we celebrate. I wanted to share this poem I found on a daily web devotional:
The Queens came late, but the Queens were there With gifts in their hands and crowns in their hair.
They'd come, these three, like the Kings, from far,
Following, yes, that guiding star.
They'd left their ladles, linens, looms,
Their children playing in nursery rooms,
And told their sitters: "Take charge! For this
Is a marvelous sight we must not miss!"
The Queens came late, but not too late
To see the animals small and great,
Feathered and furred, domestic and wild,
Gathered to gaze at a mother and child.
And rather than frankincense and myrrh
And gold for the babe, they brought for her
Who held him, a homespun gown of blue,
And chicken soup--with noodles, too-
And a lingering, lasting, cradle-song.
The Queens came late and stayed not long,
For their thoughts already were straining far-
Past manger and mother and guiding star
And a child aglow as a morning sun-
Toward home and children and chores undone.
Norma Farber (from "When It Snowed That Night," 1993)
Let us all remember
Jesus is the reason for the season!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Emergent Church - by Dr, Andy Woods

On Sunday, November 22, 2009, Dr. Andy Woods returned to Bayside Community Church with another fascinating lesson on false teachers and apostasy. This time, he specifically addressed the latest apostate theology that is creeping into our churches unchecked -- namely, The Emergent Church.
Dr. Paul Benware (Moody, Radio School of the Bible, Philadelphia Bible College) spoke of this movement in one of his recent visits, so I appreciated Andy's thoroughly researched confirmation of Dr. Benware's teaching.
One of the Biblical references Andy cited for this lesson is Acts 20:29 - I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock... Point: Apostasy is eternal.
The Emergent Church brings in something new to replace the old. They teach a belief system "in process," claiming that no one has arrived at orthodoxy. The E.C. leaders target the youth, the most vulnerable sheep, stating that Christianity will die unless it changes to reach the postmodern generation. The younger generation (can I really be old enough to use that term?) has made a paradigm shift. They now say, "Tell me what I want to hear, or shut up."

In my opinion, that attitude comes from a lack of parental attention and low standards set by those in authority over children during their formative years.

This movement begins within church youth groups. (I know of one church that hired a pro-abortion man to be their youth director.) Their theology sounds evangelical, being close enough to the truth to seduce the "seeker" or immature Christian, but is in fact false.
The Emergent Church wants to redefine missions, knowledge, Scriptures, church, Christ, and prophecy.
Let's take a look at what they want to do in the mission field:
In the Emergent Church, one must elevate experience over learning the truth about Jesus. Fluidity of Arts and a sense of mystery replace the clear Gospel. Shared experiences a/o encounters are more important than telling the world about Christ. But the Bible teaches that every generation needs a clear proclamation of the Gospel. Romans 1:16-17 states: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "But the righteous man shall live by faith." (Ref. Habakkuk 2:4) And 2 Timothy 3:15 tells us that the younger generation, yes even the postmodernist, can understand. ...And that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
According to the Emergent Church leaders, sincerity in alternative religion means they can go to heaven. What does the Bible say about that? Jesus Himself claims: I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. - John 14:6. And Paul assures us in 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. So, one may be sincere in their false religion, but tragically, they are still sincerely wrong.
They promote non-confrontational evangelism, using Jesus' meeting with the Samaritan woman. What they fail to mention is that Jesus did show her that the Samaritans were wrong. He used patience, but still moved her to the truth of the Gospel.
Social gospel emphasizes fixing the world problems. Don't save people out of the world; make their experience better. We know that the world will remain in Satan's grasp until the second advent of Christ. Although it is incumbent upon us to be good stewards to the planet, and compassionate to others in their need, we will never relieve the sufferings of this world.
Their doctrine of knowledge - epistemology (How do we acquire truth?) claims we bring our own bias into Bible interpretation when we read the Bible. Dialogue breaks our bias and truth rests in common ground. (Can they teach this with a straight face?) They promote endless dialogue to attain Middle Ground Mania, which brings with it uncertainty. Truth, to them, is in the middle, so the emergent, unfinished Christian will keep seeking. Unbelief masquerades as uncertainty.
The Holy Scriptures must be demoted because they contradict what the Emergent believes. This is why they try to elevate reason a/o dialogue above the Bible. They don't realize that Jesus IS the Word. Reason and experience can go astray, hence the admonition in Proverbs 3:5, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. And Proverbs 14:12, There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Satan counterfeits. The lawless one will give experience to whoever wants it. When experience departs from Scripture, we must depart from experience. Ditto for thoughts and traditions.
The Emergent Church worship service is multi-sensory, liturgical, and contemplative. Art preaches, Scripture preaches, music preaches, and even silence preaches. The sanctuary is darkened to give an air of mysticism. Their prayers are visual, recitation, and meditative breathing; combining Yoga, Buddhism, and other pagan practices. The Bible tells us to go back to the beginning. In the apostolic teaching in Matthew 6:7, Jesus condemned mixing pagan worship with Christianity.
Preaching in this new congregation consists of group facilitators telling stories or engaging in conversations. Sermons aren't lessons to precisely define belief. They tell stories to welcome our hopes and elevate experience over truth. Without the truth, who is their Jesus? Don't give me creed, give me Jesus.
Ecumenism is The Urge To Merge. They desire to combine differing doctrines, finding common ground. Credolism's purpose is to cure worldly woes. Water down the gospel for the sake of unity. Unity is okay if it's built on the Christian foundation.
Doctrine of Christ: Atonement to Emergent Church teaching is tantamount to cosmic child abuse (Chalke & Mann). A vengeful father punishes his son for sins he didn't commit. Penal substitution is explained in Hebrews 9:22 - And according to the Law one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. And Christ's substitution is made clear in Isaiah 53:5 - But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. The Son is the sin-bearer. He absorbed the wrath of God in my place. Remember the Blood on the doorpost in Exodus 12? A lamb had to be slain to cover the doorpost so the angel of death would pass over God's people.
Prophecy: Revelation is a powerful book about the kingdom of God. But Emergent Church leaders claim the kingdom of God is here and now, available to all. How can we have the kingdom without the King? Twenty-seven percent of the Scripture was prophetic at its writing. The analogy of dark to light in 2 Peter 1:19 gives us hope for the future. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.
In Nehemiah 8, Ezra read the Law of God to the people and a revival happened. Awakening/revival are only possible with the Bible. Are we entering a new dark age? Bible-teaching churches are uncommon now. Satan so cleverly disguises his lies, that even the elect will be deceived. In my humble opinion, the only way to avoid being used by him is to be faithful to the light He gave us and be alert to these false teachings. Be like the Bereans, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. - Acts 17:10

Monday, November 16, 2009

Review: Lonestar Secrets by Colleen Coble - Thomas Nelson Publishers

"No more secrets," Jack said to Shannon. But secrets are all she has. Colleen Coble relates this touching, yet suspenseful, account of a couple who must learn to love each other for the sake of their children. Set in the plains of West Texas, this story brought back childhood memories of sandstorms, cowboy hats, and ugly multi-legged critters indigenous to that area. I once lived in Brownfield (southwest of Lubbock). One "aha" moment for me was when Jack learned the truth about love from a former racehorse. How perfect is that? (ClipArt by Millermark Creations) This author has a unique gift of creating an array of subplots, which she gathers together in one neat package in the end. She also offers riveting discussion questions for book clubs. I loved the book in spite of the fact that Colleen Coble used the name of my protagonist in my novel, "Obedient Heart." No worries. Since mine isn't published yet, my Jack McGowan will have a name change. That's the beauty of fiction! :-}
"Lonestar Secrets" - Buy it today!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Latest Book to Review For Thomas Nelson

This is the latest book I'm reviewing for Thomas Nelson Publishers. Of all the books I've reviewed for them so far, this is my favorite. Set in my home state of Texas, the story captured my interest in the opening sentence. And how surprised was I to learn that the author, Colleen Coble, is from Indian and NOT from Texas! Her descriptions of the plains of West Texas are so accurate--from sandstorms to the creepy multi-legged creatures (and I'm not referring to majestic horses) that I believed her to be a fellow Texan. I'm almost finished with this book. Wish I wasn't taking so long. It's a hard book to put down, but distractions have come in droves lately. When I'm ready to post my review on B&N and my blog (so I can choose my next book from Thomas Nelson), I'll give you more details about this unusual story of an unusual woman caught in an unusual marriage.

I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Heavenly Humor

I've posted my good news on Facebook, FWA Christian Writers network, and sent e-mails. How is it that I forget to post good news on my blog? It's a condition of age or hair color. Sometimes I claim both.

Last week, I submitted two stories to Heavenly Humor for the Cat Lover's Soul. The title of the first one is The Great Escape. It details a very recent adventure of my two indoor kitties, Pixie and Feathers, as they escaped during the night, or early morning hours, through a hole in the floor of my husband's renovation project. I was certain that one would be selected since it flowed so easily for me.

The second submission, Silhouette on the Shade, is about my first cat Sammy. I always refer to him as "my first love." He was a sweet black and white male cat who stole my heart when I was eighteen years old. My best friend, Mary Ellen Couette, gave him to me as a graduation gift. The story relates Sammy's signal to me when he was ready to come in for the night. I struggled with this story, due to the many years that have passed since the event. But with the help of my editor, Kat Hechenback, all the words and ideas fell into place.

I received an e-mail from Barbour Publishing the next day, requesting to include "Silhouette on the Shade" in the book that will be released in March 2010.

Thank you, Kat!!

With the sale of Romeow and Juliecat to Chicken Soup for the Soul What I Learned from the Cat (now available at Amazon - but, sadly, not on shelves at Barnes & Nobles), I am now considered a free-lance writer. Buddy Chastain, author of The Game (a good mystery/thriller set in Atlanta, GA), told me when you get your first dollar for writing, you are considered an author.

As I continue submitting stories to anthologies or magazines, my confidence is building enough to submit my novel, Obedient Heart, once again to agents and/or publishers. Tyndale House said it's a good story (happy dance!), but my hook wasn't strong enough (sad shuffle). God gave me the story to write, and it will be published...in His time.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Another Great Lesson From Andy Woods

I always appreciate when someone knowledgeable explains how our words were formed. My father always did that. When I was a child he explained the ending of "itis" to a word meant inflamed or infected. "Therefore, Jannie, tonsilitis means your tonsils are infected and must come out." Can't say that I miss them now.
Dr. Andy Woods explains how certain words come into being from the ancient texts. He brought another excellent lesson to Bayside Community Church on Sunday, 10-11-09. The Bible warns us to be watchful of false teachers, wolves in sheep's clothing as it were, who would invade the churches and bring in apostasy.
Apostasy, Andy explained, comes from two Greek words: Apos is a preposition meaning away from. Histome (or is it histomi? Can't read my own writing.) means to stand. Apostasy means to stand away from, or departure from known (or previously embraced) truth.
Ten characteristics of apostasy are:
Characteristic #1: A Sign of the Last Days of the Church - Perilous times (Matt. 13:3). The Second Law of Thermodynamics is true for moral issues, too. Jesus outlines a course of the new age to come in eight parables. Parabolic teaching conceals the message from those who refuse to be taught, yet reveals truth to those who hungar for the Word.
  • Parable #1: The Sower - Preaching the Gospel with various results.
  • Parable #2: Wheat & Tares - Difficult to distinguish saved from unsaved within professing Christendom.
  • Parable #3: Mustard Seed - Christendom will experience great numerical and geographic expansion from humble beginnings.
  • Parable #4: Yeast in Dough - Christendom will experience internal corruption throughout the age with increasing apostasy.
  • Parable #5: Hidden Treasure - Israel will remain in unbelief only to be converted in the end.
  • Parable #6: Pearl of Great Price - Co-existence of righteous and wicked to be separated at the age's conclusion.
  • Parable #7: The Dragnet - Good fish kept, and bad fish cast away.
  • Parable #8: Householder - Old treasures to new treasures. New truth must be considered with Old Testament revelation to comprehend the totality of God's kingdom agenda.

Characteristic #2: A Massive New Testament Subject - Matt 13:33, Acts 20:29-31, all the Pauline letters, the general letters of the New Testament (Jude, Hebrews, Peter, 1 John), and Revelation all warn against lapsing back into apostasy.

Characteristic #3: It Impacts Every Major Doctrine - The faith (1 Tim 4:1), God (Jude 4), Christ & His death (2 Peter 2:1), Christ's return (2 Peter 3:3-4), Sound Doctrine (2 Tim 4:3-4), Resurrection (2 Tim 2:16-18), and God as creator (2 Peter 3:5) will all be challenged, or are now being challenged, by the predorists.

Characteristic #4: Apostasy is Internal - Acts 20:29-31. It will come from within the church, along with "savage wolves." Paul warned about this night and day with tears. Jude 4 says they "crept in unnoticed." Look for them in pulpits, Christian schools, Christian books, and magazines. They won't wear signs on their backs that read: I'M A FALSE TEACHER - FOLLOW ME.

Characteristic #5: It Knows No Limits - Exodus 32:1-10 (Aaron), Judg. 18:30 (Jonathan). Even those we least expect will become useful tools for the enemy's apostasy. We can see this in the Rules of Harvard, Est. 1636. Christian belief was once a rule for admittance to this university. Now it's a deterrent. Rev. 2:45 says Christ will take away the lamp stand. In other words, He'll remove His light from among them.

Characteristic #6: It Can Happen Quickly - The ice can melt beneath our feet. In Gal. 1:6, Paul was amazed at how soon the Galatians abandoned the doctrine of free grace. In Exodus 32:8, the Israelites turned away from God within forty days. When Rev. 2:4-5 was written only thirty-five years had passed before the Ephesus defected on their relationship with Christ.

Characteristic #7: It is Satanically Energized - Paul reminds us in 2 Cor. 11:3 how easily the serpent led Eve away from the simplicity of God's truth. In 1 Tim 4:1: "Some will depart from the faith, heeding deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons..." Satan's agenda is to cause the fall of the Christian church. He knows the three functions of the church are to 1) Glorify God, 2) Edify the saints, and 3) Evangelize the lost. He's satisfied to hinder even one of those functions.

Characteristic #8: It is Destructive - Acts 20:29 offers a graphic imagery to describe how destructive apostasy is to our church.

Characteristic #9: It Makes Life Difficult for the Man of God - The genuine article, the true man of God will be discredited by the "savage wolves." We must be cautious of the strategy of the mega churches popping up about us. Does the church lose its spirit for God to bring in the spirit of the world? 2 Tim 3:2-4, 12-13.

Characteristic #10: It Impacts Those Who Have Not Taken Preventative Measures - The pooling of ignorance just feels better than the hard truth. The strong current of apostasy pulls us in the wrong direction. If we take a passive stance, then we allow ourselves to be drawn away from the truth. Riding the current of apostasy is not like shooting the rapids. It's never that obvious. Even the true man of God can slip into that easy flow. When we're pulled away from the truth, we must call for help, aggressively move to the shoreline, use tools God gave us to thwart the river's torrent. Our tools are commands of the New Testament:

  • Study God's word (2 Tim. 2:15, 3:17).
  • Test all things using discernment (1 Thess. 5:21).
  • Renew the mind (Rom. 12:2). Don't conform to the easy flowing trend, but transform through the intake of divine truth.
  • Put on the full armor of God (Eph.6).
  • Contend earnestly for the faith--and truth (Jude 3). Know what you believe and why you believe it.
In summary, we can stand against the onslaught of apostasy in our churches today if we obey the New Testament Commands.
Thanks, Andy, for another challenging message! We all look forward to your next visit from Texas.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Yesterday I received the check from Chicken Soup for the Soul! It's official!! I can now legally call myself a freelance writer!
  • How exciting to know that friends across the U.S. are reading my story! Former co-worker Tina Castillo put this photo on her Facebook page and sent it to me, with a notation, "Look what I just picked up!" She's now in Dayton, OH attending law school. She gave me a coffee mug covered with images of cats. And how timely...she presented it to me the same day I received the e-mail from Chicken Soup stating they were considering my story. What a blessing to know others share in my joy.
  • The book signing idea seems to be dwindling. With Tom working on home renovations, it's doubtful I'll be able to have a signing at my house. I'd hoped to have something on September 28th, since my office was closed that day, but instead spent twelve hours working on the White Rose Publishing novella. On the evening if 26th, I discovered the story was five thousand words short of the contest rules and had little time to fix it. My real estate renewal exam was also due on September 30th--the same deadline as Hearts Crossing. Yikes! I felt a wee bit under pressure that week. I submitted the novella on September 29th, passed my real estate exam on September 30th, and still had to go to work on October 1st. Tired, but relieved that all my obligations were completed.
  • I'm sure I can come up with more stories about Sammy, Mandi, Sebastian, Squeakette, Pixie, and Feathers. How many cat-lover books are there, anyway? Or maybe I'll write about my wonderful husband, who has been so supportive of my writing endeavors. And, of course, being paid gives me more credibility with Tom. B-)
  • Or maybe I'll get back to Obedient Heart. Jack McGowan and Jennifer Ryaan have been waiting patiently inside my computer for me to come back to them. The acquisitions editor at Tyndale House said she liked the story, but it didn't have a strong enough hook to sell it to her marketing personnel. Would she have appreciated it if I'd sent her a fishing hook with a gummy worm on it? Hmmm....maybe not.
  • Until next posting....May God richly bless you!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

At last, the day has come!
I'm bubbling over with excitement! UPS delivered the box of my ten copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul What I Learned from the Cat yesterday evening. It's now available in book stores everywhere. Look for my story, Romeow and JuliCat, on page 301. The cat on the cover bears a strong resemblance to my Feathers. I wonder if she's been modeling on the side? Instead of spending yesterday evening writing, I labored over making a T-shirt with the book cover, the title of my story, and a photograph of Sebastian (Mr. Romeow himself) on the front. I'm wearing it today, with a blouse over it. (Can't be in a law office wearing a white iron-on T-shirt!) I found the Avery iron-on kit at Office Depot on my way home from the FWA meeting on Saturday. Then stopped at Walgreen's where they have T-shirts 5/$10. I didn't know my HP printer has a mirror image selection to print everything backward so it comes out frontward when you iron it onto the shirt (or hat, or tote bag, or...). Cool...but a bit scary. Two people at my office have read my story so far. I hope it prompts them to buy a copy for themselves. One co-worker said he'll buy several for Christmas gifts. Great idea! I've already posted a review on Barnes & Noble. Check it out, too! http://my.barnesandnoble.com/communityportal/Review.aspx?page=Review&reviewid=1217061 If my friends buy copies of the book and want me to have a book signing, I'll host a special Book Signing Tea at my house one Saturday afternoon. Date & Time TBA. Or maybe on Monday, 9-28-09, since my office is closed that day for Yom Kippur. If that would be more convenient, let me know!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fearless by Max Lucado Released Today!

The by-line of this title is: Imagine Your Life Without Fear. I never imagined my life without fear because fear has been my constant companion. I cling to my fears, phobias, and frets because they are, after all, legitimate. Or so I thought until reading FEARLESS by Max Lucado. Some fear, Lucado points out, is good. Not stepping in front of an oncoming truck for fear of being run over is acceptable. But our uninvited Loch Ness monsters are not.

Fears, like vampires, can't live in the light. When we expose them to our trust in Christ, they scamper away, seeking their dark hiding places.

Max explains that there's a difference between prudence and paranoia. Prudence being caution, but paranoia being the obsessive side of our fear. Example: Prudence washes with soap. Paranoia avoids all human contact. Christ warned that things will get worse, but admonished us not to be alarmed. We can trust in Him to carry us through any calamity.

To my delight, there is a Discussion Guide in the back of the book. This makes a great tool for the Professional Women's Bible Study that I attend every Friday morning before work. I'll certainly recommend it to Grace, our study leader.

FEARLESS by Max Lucado gets five big stars in my review of this excellent reminder to put our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and kick our "hell-hatched, joy-stealing" anxieties to the curb!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Book Review - "Rick & Bubba's Guide" Published by Thomas Nelson

Wondering what to give that special couple for a wedding gift? Or anniversary gift? Traditionally, the appropriate gift for the first wedding anniversary is paper. What better use of paper than Rick & Bubba's Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage? This book, co-written by Martha Bolton (former comedy writer for Bob Hope), isn't your typical, dry lecture on how to have a happy marriage. I always thought a study in Proverbs 31 and/or Ephesians 5 was good enough. But Rick & Bubba's Guide incorporate these two Biblical references into life applications with amusing stories of their own experiences. And for Rick and Sherry to give us an insight into the horror of losing a child is, in my opinion, worth the price of the book. Theirs might be the only marriage I know of that has survived that tragic loss. I pray their faith in Christ will continue to carry them forward. I highly recommend this guide, although their wives Sherry and Betty should be held accountable for allowing the secretive Book of Blame to fall under Rick & Bubba's curious eyes. :-) (See the Bonus Chapter.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hearts Crossing - A Work in Progress

Just a quick note to let my friends know I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I've been busy, busy, busy furiously writing my new novella, Hearts Crossing, for the White Rose Publishing contest.

Travis Clark asks his best friend, "Am I the only career criminal who has never broken the law?" Faced with a student's accusations, he must contend with a past indiscretion that has come to haunt him.

Bailey St. John thought she'd finally found the man of her dreams. But her image of Travis is dashed as her best friend, watching the news report, asks, "Bailey, is your new beau a perv?"

More to come! B-)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New Adventures on the Horizon!

Having a story accepted by Chicken Soup for the Soul has pumped up my writing energy! Look for my piece, Romeow & Julie Cat, in Chicken Soup for the Soul - Lessons Learned From the Cat, which will be available September 22, 2009. It's a true account of when my tuxedo cat, Sebastian, fell in love with the femme feline next door.
I've set aside my current novel, "Obedient Heart," to enter White Rose Publishing's writing contest. It's a 25,000 word paint-by-number novel, and the cover here says it all. White Rose has set the parameters of the story: it's set in contemporary times, the characters must look like the couple on the cover, he's an English teacher, and she's a landscape architect. He's one of eight children, and she's an only child. He's lost his faith, and she's beginning to doubt hers. White Rose allows some creative freedom; like naming the characters, choosing what grade the man teaches, and the reason for their diminished faith. Oh, and the man has a deep, dark secret! OooEEEooo. The prize is a publishing contract with White Rose. B-)
I've written five chapters and am already emotionally attached to the two main characters.
So...watch for the adventures of Travis Clark and Bailey St. John as they meet, fall in love, have a spat, break up, and reconcile, all while fighting a yet-to-be-named foe.
Jack and Jennifer, of "Obedient Heart," have agreed to take a break from my constant editing of their story, to give new life to Travis and Bailey. No, I don't have imaginary friends. But one of the many things I've learned as a writer is that our characters come to life and seem to develop their own personalities. I found that to be true with characters in plays, too, way back when I performed in the theatre.
Keep me in your prayers as I move forward with a new story and--dare I say it?--hope for a publishing contract?

Friday, July 10, 2009


Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said, "O LORD, the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.
“Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and listen to the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God.
"Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have devastated the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but the work of men's hands, wood and stone. So they have destroyed them.
"Now, O LORD our God, I pray, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, O LORD, are God."
— 2 Kings 19:15-19
We read in 2 Kings about the city of Lachish being desimated by the army of Sennacherib. God allowed this because of their unimaginable immorality. What is unimaginable immorality? They worshipped idols, like we do (ref. the recent funeral of pop musician and child predator Michael Jackson, the TV program "American Idol,"). They shed innocent blood, like we do (ref. Roe v. Wade). They engaged in sexual promiscuity, like we do (ref. sitcoms, movies, music, and the divorce rate). They denied the existence of God Almighty, like we do (ref. myths of global warming, Darwin's theory taught as truth, increase of cults, and anything the ACLU undertakes).
We should be praying this prayer for our nation with the same fervency as Hezekiah did, if we want to be delivered from God's wrath. God allowed the faithful believers to suffer the atrocities alongside the paganists. Do we want to suffer the coming destruction, or do our part in bringing our nation back to its roots of worshipping God, our creator. Yes, He loves us. Yes, He is long-suffering. But how long will He abide us?
Please send this prayer to your representatives, senators (local & federal), and to the president, as well!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Higher Hope - Robert Whitlow

This novel, set in Savannah, didn't have the hook I expected. Perhaps it's because this is Book Two in The Tides of Truth series. If I'd read Book One, Deeper Water, the characters might have grabbed my interest. I think I found myself somewhat invested in the story by Chapter Eight. The overuse of the word "was" annoyed me like a pesky fly buzzing around my head. And here's another published author who uses verbs as speaker attributes. When I'm not selling real estate, I work for a law firm. I found it hard to believe that this Christian girl, Tami, could find two Christian men (two SINGLE Christian men) working for the same firm. Most of the story seemed unrealistic to me, and the resolution in the end left me hanging in a fog of vagueness. I had no idea which of the two young men she chose, and really didn't care. Being a glass-is-half-full person, I always look for the sunshine that follows the rain. The one redeeming feature of Higher Hope is toward the end of the book when Sister Dabney explains what higher hope means: "It's hope that can't be destroyed by what happens on earth. Circumstances of life will challenge it, voices will deny it, but its walls can't be breached unless we open the gate." Absolutely true and an encouragement to me, personally. The realistic elements of the book are the subtle ways God intervenes for His purposes. God worked through the elderly lady with whom Tami lives and works as caregiver to show Tami He wants us to fellowship with Him, no matter our age or circumstances. He can heal us, as Tami saw when she visited a family friend in her home town. And He will defend His workers when we are persecuted, but it will always be in His time and His M.O. I would give this book two and a half stars. Others might enjoy it, but it didn't float my boat.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Chance Made Us Sisters - Hearts Made Us Friends

We had a wonderful time visiting with family recently. Thursday (5/28), we drove from Tampa (stopping at M&E's Donuts, our favorite donut shop in Crystal River-YUM!) to Birmingham, AL. We planned to spend the night with my sister Kathy and her family, then take the three-hour drive to Murfreesboro, TN to visit Tom's daughter and family for his granddaughter's high school graduation. *GASP* I'm married to a man who has an eighteen-year old grandchild!
When we arrived in B'ham, Kathy & David treated us to dinner at La Fiesta, a great Mexican restaurant. Of course, Kathy and I had one of our infamous giggle fits. Our husbands have learned to just roll their eyes and deal with it. We are pixies, and that's the way it is.
Friday, Kathy and I left the men to do "guy" stuff, while we ran some errands. She's planning a summer-long children's program for her church and needed some woodsy stuff for decorations. I donated stuffed animals that had been stored in plastic bags since our home renovation. They needed a new home and found one at Edgewood Presbyterian Church. We had lunch at Mrs. Klinger's Restaurant where we had the above picture taken. It's a German restaurant, and we always seem to wind up there for lunch on any given visit. Delicious food!
Friday afternoon, we headed for Murfreesboro and arrived in time for Natalie's spaghetti dinner. That started the food-fest for the weekend.
Saturday was party day for Rebecca, who would graduate on Monday, June 1. I didn't count, but it appeared more than fifty guests showed up for smoked pork (and chicken for me), and all the fixings. Everyone had a great time. Natalie is a wonderful hostess.
Sunday, Tom and I attended Franklin Road Baptist Church. Everyone was so friendly there and made us feel right at home.
Monday, we headed out in two cars to Opryland Mall in Nashville. The guys in one car, and the girls in another. Rebecca's graduation was held at Grand Ole Opry, so we spent the afternoon at the mall, shopping and eating. The graduation was impressive. About a hundred home-schooled students received their diplomas. On the way home, we took a wrong turn out of the Opryland Mall, and Natalie's friend said in her deep Tennessean accent, "Honey, we're just gonna take a tour." We found our way back to the interstate, where we came to a standstill. Road construction caused the traffic jam. Did we fret? Did we complain? No, Natalie popped a CD in the player, and we had a party in the van. A positive attitude keeps us young.
Tuesday morning, we headed back to Tampa. The drive through Chattanooga was most scenic, with all those mountains and the river that winds beside the highway. Unfortunately, M&E's Donuts was closed when we hit central Florida. Or maybe that was a good thing since I gained a few lbs. on this trip.
Tom and I are both blessed to have loving relationships with our respective families.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Mill House by Paul McCusker

A sign of an excellent writer is when you turn that last page, only to want to go back to the first and start the book over again. Paul McCusker's novel, The Mill House, affected me that way. As I traveled through this story from 1940s England to modern day U.S.A. & England, the characters took me captive. Not a good thing since I'm supposed to read & review another novel published by Thomas Nelson now. I can't start the other novel, set in Savannah, Ga., because images of Lainey and Nicholas keep popping up in my head!
Paul does such an excellent job of weaving the details of the story that I felt like I was unwinding a ball of yarn. Cecil Murphy described this form of writing in a recent workshop I attended. Glad to find an example of that style so soon to cement it in my mind.

Let me explain how I came to have this treasure of a book. I wanted to donate Christian romance novels to the teens at a farm for wayward girls. As I searched stores, looking for publishers such as Zondervan, Harvest House, Tyndale, and Thomas Nelson, I came across The Mill House. I opened it and read the first paragraph of the prologue.

"Oh wow," I said to myself, "I'm not giving this one away!" I had to find out why an elderly lady would sit on a log in the pouring rain-wearing her nightgown, robe, and slippers, clutching shards of stained glass from a bombed-out church in her hands. Without giving away the ending, let me just say that pondering on the "what-ifs" of life will undoubtedly send us spiraling into the pit of despair. We must remember what the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:12-14: Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

I'm glad I kept this book for myself. The Mill House also provided a good historical perspective of that time period. Now that I've finished it, I plan to loan it to my friend May, a Liverpuddlian who spent her childhood in an English orphan home during WWII.

As much as I enjoyed this book, I know it would never pass our FWA critique group. Paul uses speaker attributes other than "said" or "asked." A big no-no according to our faciliator. Other authors have instructed the same thing. "Don't be afraid of the word 'said.'" He also uses those pesky "ly" adverbs I've been told to remove from my novel. And--GASP!--he uses a prologue. I happen to like them, even though other writers debate whether or not we should use them. My mentors have told me that, since I have one in Obedient Heart, the first chapter should carry the tension of the prologue forward. I've seen prologues in other novels (Firestorm by Jeannette Windle comes to mind) that have nothing to do with Chapter One, and they work well. But I do digress. Yes...I'd like a little cheese with my whine. 8-(

Whatever FWA no-nos Paul McCusker did in his novel, The Mill House, they aren't worth arguing about. It's a good story, well-told and well-written from start to finish. Drop whatever you're doing right now and buy this book. Or borrow my copy...but you'll have to wait in line.

And if you happen to visit Great Britain, say hello to Lainey, Nicholas, Elaine, and Adam for me!


Thursday, April 23, 2009


REVELATION: THE FINAL PHASE OF CHRIST’S REDEMPTIVE PROGRAM Andy Woods, Ph.D. candidate, attorney, theologian and author, once again blessed us with his teaching. In two short hours on Sunday, April 19, 2009, Andy gave us an overview of the Book of Revelation. “Revelation? In two hours?” you might ask. Yep. And if anyone can do it, Andy Woods can (and did). His seminary thesis was used for a chapter in End Times Controversy. The Second Coming Under Attack, and he contributed to The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy. His credentials speak for themselves—and with authority. An important note on this mystifying book is that it is not the revelation of the Apostle John. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ to the Apostle John . The passage in Daniel 9:27 is the basement of this world’s future, and Revelation is the ceiling. John adds more detail to Daniel’s structure. The Chain of Communication is from God the Father to Christ to the angel to John to the book to the pastor to the listener. This isn’t like the game of gossip where the comment whispered by the first person becomes radically different by the time the last person recites it. These words have been carefully and painstakingly written down. In this overview, Andy gave us the structure, in my opinion, of a three-act play: § Act I: The Things Which You (John) Have Seen (Chapter 1) § Act II: The Things Which Are (Chapters 2-3) § Act III: The Things Which Will Take Place After These Things (Chapters 4-22) The first act begins with the prologue in Chapter One that offers the blessing to us who hear this prophecy and heed its admonitions. Then John, being held captive on Patmos for preaching the Word, is compelled to write what he sees. The purpose is to offer comfort to the oppressed churches in Asia Minor and to stimulate them to practice holiness through future reminders of Gods’ conquest and punishment of evil. The message is Christ’s ultimate victory over evil. Act II opens in Chapters Two and Three with praising and rebuking the seven churches. Smyrna and Philadelphia were the only two not to receive rebukes because they were under persecution at the time of the writing. Laodicea was the only church to receive no praise because they had locked Jesus Christ out of their fellowship. (Like many churches today that offer a “feel good” doctrine.) Rev. 3:20 is not an evangelical premise to invite Jesus into your heart. He is knocking at the door of the church that has forgotten who He is and what He has done for them. And Act III represents the entire tribulation period in Chapters Four through the end of the book. The first half of the tribulation sees the Seals and Trumpets judgments, and the Bowl judgments are spread throughout the last half. Grasping the judgments has been the most difficult for me when I attempt a study of this book. Are they concurrent or disconnected? Andy teaches they are telescopic, with chronological progressions that start and stop, perhaps like labor pains (again my assessment) with five non-chronological parenthetical insertions between the sixth and seventh of each. I’ll call them breathers. (Many who have given birth will attest to the need for a breather between labor pains.) Here’s a diagram that helped me: Seals 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Trumpets 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Bowls 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Sorry, the diagram won't work in this format. :-(

Picture (if you'll indulge me) the #1 of the Trumpets falling directly below the #7 of the Seals, then the #1 of the Bowls falling directly below the #7 of the Trumpets. Andy compared the “breathers” to a hiking trip. You’ll always pause at some point on your journey to look back at where you’ve been and forward to where you have yet to go. These insertions are strategically placed between the sixth and seventh judgments, which then usher in the first of the next series of seven. Another prophetic statement we often miss is in the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus states Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. God will instill His will on earth. Revelation 4 depicts God’s role in creation. He has the authority to “recycle” it because He created it. And isn’t it interesting that He begins the destruction with plant life, which was the first living entity He created in Genesis? I regret that this is as far as my note taking could go. I ran out of paper in my little notebook. But no need to fret! You can either purchase a CD of the lesson at Bayside Community Church, or listen to it online at www.baysidecommunitychurch.net/resources.html. May God continue to bless you as you study His word!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Review: Rachel's Tears - Thomas Nelson Publishers

Rachel’s Tears by Beth Nimmo (mother) and Darrell Scott (father) with the help of Steve Rabey Mr. Scott and Mrs. Nimmo were honest in their description of their daughter. It would’ve been easy to set her on a pedestal, as we often do when we lose a loved one. Rachel truly showed the love of Christ in her relationships with others, especially those less fortunate than she. But these parents revealed Rachel’s intermittent struggles with her faith, along with her love for others. The parents showed an enormous amount of Christian love themselves in their forgiving spirit and prayers for the Klebold and Harris families. Few people can understand that the families of the perpetrators lost their sons twice; once when the boys committed the crimes, and again when they killed themselves. I was equally impressed by the insight of these parents into the cause of the crimes. While the news media, along with federal and local legislators, pointed their fingers to guns, the NRA and the 2nd Amendment, Beth and Darrell both knew the truth. Guns don’t kill people—people kill people. Whether it’s easy or difficult to buy weapons is not the issue. It’s the motive behind the purchase. Darrel’s poem on page159 says it all. Our society began the downward spiral of immorality and hatred when the legislators outlawed God. They are so quick to point the accusing finger at the symptom instead of the cause. The Columbine bloodbath is firmly rooted in the absence of Judeo-Christian teaching. This tragedy is another unexpected consequence of Madeline Murray O’Hare’s efforts to remove God from all aspects of this country’s public places. Few people realize that there is no mention of separation of church and state in the U.S. Constitution. As such, this rhetoric has gone unchallenged for decades. And tragedies like the Columbine shootings continue to plague our society. Cruelty and hatred come naturally to children. We are all born self-centered and have to be taught the Golden Rule. Someone must show us at an early age the acronym of JOY (Jesus, Others, Yourself), which is Rachel’s middle name. The back cover refers to Rachel Joy Scott as a typical teenager, but through these pages I see her as an atypical teenager. It is a sad commentary for our country that a teenager who loves the Lord and chooses purity over popularity is not typical. Rachel’s Tears is well worth the read, especially if one has suffered the tragic loss of a child. I plan to donate my copy to a home for at-risk girls where Rachel’s parents can continue to reach others with their daughter’s Christian love.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Babylon - The Bookends Of Our Culture

The Professional Women’s Bible Study I attend every Friday morning is presently studying an overview of Genesis, using the Christianity 101 Series by Bruce Bickel & Stan Jantz. We recently completed the lesson, “God Intervenes When Humans Scheme,” in Chapter Six, in which the authors describe “The Tower of Power.” How timely that theologian Andy Woods should come to Bayside Community Church on Sunday, March 15, 2009, to teach us about Babylon in Prophecy. In his words, Babylon is a freight train barreling through the Bible. Genesis 11:1-9 describes the first worldwide rebellion against God in the land of Shinar, which is Mesopotamia (between the rivers). Babylon keeps popping up throughout the Scriptures in the writings of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, and the apostle John in Revelation. We will come full circle in Revelation 17-18, as Babylon is, once again, the location for another universal rebellion against God. The rebellion of Babylon in Genesis 11 caused the spread of that sinful attitude throughout the cultures. It is evident today in the mystical teaching that we are God. The Holy Spirit of God dwells within the believer at the time of salvation, but that doesn’t make us God. The creature can never be the Creator. Isaiah Chapters 13 and 14 reveal the great Day of the Lord, with cosmic disturbances, global judgment, final desolation (worse than Sodom and Gomorrah) of Babylon, followed by universal peace, and then Israel is regenerated spiritually. Some say that Babylon has already suffered that fate, since the city is no longer on the map. Indeed, the prophecy of Isaiah 21:1-10 was fulfilled in Daniel 5. Babylon fell to the Persians without a battle. History shows no destruction occurred. Cyrus took Babylon by rerouting the Tigris River and was able to invade the city without taking a single life or tearing down any walls. Babylon survived intact. (The Truth Behind Left Behind – Hitchcock/Ice and The Nations in Prophecy, 63-64 – Walvoord.) But the prophecy of Jeremiah, Chapters 50-51 is a futuristic prediction…ditto for Isaiah 13-14. Zechariah 5:5-11 mirrors the prophecy in Revelation 17, which describes the woman (wickedness), ephah (commerce), house (temple), and the location of the future desolation (Shinar). Both books emphasize commerce and worship of a false deity. One area of confusion is Revelation 17:5 …and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” The word mystery in this context means a new truth revealed. Some scholars believe it refers to Jerusalem, Rome, or a religious system. But since none of these can be the “Mother” of Harlots, then it can only refer to Babylon. It’s the only thing that has been around since the days of the Tower. Let’s take a quick look at the emphasis on commerce. The oil industry now controls all the markets. Where is most of the oil? In the Land of Shinar, which is present day Iraq. Babylon represents the two bookends of this world’s history. The history of human culture began there and will end there. But, as believers…we won’t be around to see it.
And that’s the good news!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Kiss" by Dekker & Healy

This posting for Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy is delayed due to computer transitions. I won’t have to re-read the novel to refresh my memory because the story is still clear in my mind. When I had to set the book down for some silly reason, like to sleep or go to work, the plight of the protagonist stayed with me. In my local Word Weavers group we use the sandwich method for our critiques:
  • Encourage
  • Critique
  • Praise

I’d like to use that technique as I discuss this novel with you.

The first thing that impressed me on a marketing level was the number of “hooks” the authors presented. On the cover, we read, “She steals more than your heart.” (Interesting) On the back cover: “Let me tell you all I know for sure. My name. Shauna.” (Intriguing) At the bottom of the back cover: “A New Kind of Suspense from Dekker and Healy—Where Heart Pounding meets Heart Warming.” (Inviting) I hadn’t heard of Ted Dekker or Erin Healy before I saw this novel. Any one of the “hooks” would’ve caused me to buy it, along with the synopsis on the back. Having each one build on the other created a sense of necessity within me. I NEEDED to read this book!

The only drawback I found was the lack of tags. I realize in some scenes the reader isn’t supposed to know who’s speaking…yet. They’re carefully placed mines to ratchet up the suspense. I’ve seen this technique in The Terror Alliance by Jack Hunter (1980 – an oldie, but goodie). But the scenes where I had to stop reading, go back to the beginning of the dialogue and mentally note: Wayne, Shauna, Wayne, Shauna…, broke the flow and annoyed me. Not enough to make me put the book down, though. The well-told story kept me coming back for more. As Shauna recuperates from her auto accident injuries, the reader is pulled alongside her in the schemes and plots against her. Can one woman really endure all of the trauma she suffers? Yet she finds a ray of hope in a housekeeper and a news reporter hidden away in a small town. This is one book that is not easy to put down. Even when I couldn’t get back to it right away (What do you mean “What’s for supper?” I’m trying to read.) Shauna’s dilemma haunted me. Who could she trust? All the way to the end, I found myself wanting to buckle my seatbelt…even though I always read in bed! I don’t want to give away the ending, but will say the truest “hook” of all was: Where Heart Pounding meets Heart Warming.
So…step away from your computer right now
and go buy this book!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thirsting for God in Trouble and Exile

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God?
-Psalm 42:1-2 (NASB)
We have no pastor at our church. Guest speakers from a variety of sources bless us with their Biblical knowledge. Some are professors from colleges, such as Moody Bible Institute or Dallas Theological Seminary. Others serve in the mission field.
As Biblical Christians, we believe there are no coincidences, yet sometimes occurances might seem too close to be anything else. We know that God, in His infinite wisdom, is the underlying cause for any "coincidence."
On Sunday, January 11, 2009, Richard Sanders, a missionary to Chad, Africa, served as our guest speaker. His lesson on Obedience struck me as one such "coincidence" since that is the theme of my novel, Obedient Heart. I will post comments on his lesson at a later date, but first I wanted to share an incident that happened that Sunday. It was something so subtle, that I wondered if anyone else noticed it.
Music director Ron Billingsly sang (in his beautiful baritone voice) a solo of "As A Deer Pants For Water." Mr. Sanders approached the podium to teach his lesson on the obedience of Rahab, but first described the special meaning the verses of that psalm have for him.
As a nomadic tribe travels from east to west on the African continent, they take no water with them. Instead, they carry a small hart (or deer). When they need to drink they temporarily set the hart free. Following him on a two-hump camel (known for speed), the elders of the tribe track the little deer. He runs to and fro, then stops to smell the air, and begins pawing the ground with his hoof. He digs up dirt, then mud, then dips his head into the newly dug well for a drink. They rely on God's creature, whose heart pants for water, to bring them sustenance.
This true account of how a deer pants for water showed me how I should thirst for God in my troubles and desert-like exile. I must look for Him, as the deer looks for water, with expectation of finding Him in my situation. Just as the water flows beneath the ground on which the deer stands, God in the Holy Spirit is there to nourish me with His brooks of living water.