books · Christian · historical fiction · Sunday · Uncategorized

Sunday, based on a true story…

A Black Cat Book Review

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A Clearing in the Wild by Jane Kirkpatrick

Emma Warner was a young woman raised in the small German religious community of Bethel, Missouri, in the mid 1800’s.  The community was somewhat isolated from others in the belief that their way of life was better protected if outsiders were kept at a distance.   The only people to join the group were those who were “evangelized” usually by scouts who were sent out to find new places to settle.

Emma married Christian Giesy, a man close to her father’s age, when she was a teenager.  That they loved each other is clear but the marriage was not without its difficulties.  Christian was a scout for the group and was away most of the first couple of years of their marriage.  Though the members believedclear that women were to be submissive and follow the men Emma was rather out-spoken and impetuous.  Christian liked her forth-rightness but it was frowned upon by the leadership at Bethel.

When her husband is selected to lead a group of scouts west to the Washington territory Emma convinces the community’s leader that she should go with them.  Unheard of, both that she approached leadership and that she was permitted to go.  The journey to Washington was not easy for the pregnant woman but it was nothing compared to what she would endure once they arrived in Washington and began to prepare for those who would come to join the new settlement in a year or two.

Christian and Emma face many challenges.  Not only in their marriage but, like all the scouts, in simply staying alive.  At one point Emma leaves Christian and the scouts and sets out alone, with her young son, to the place she thinks is better suited as a site for the community of believers.  Of course, as she knew they would, Christian and the other men search for and find her.  She makes her argument and there is compromise.

When those from the Bethel community arrive all is not as hoped.  There is disappointment and dissension among them and a split is inevitable.  Through it all Emma becomes more confident of herself and of Christian.  Her faith grows and sustains her when all else fails. They lose much in the journey but they gain even more.

Based on the life of Emma Wagner Giesy, Jane Kirkpatrick’s story is one of determination, courage, and faith.  I found the book interesting if only for the fact of the incredible hardships these people faced and overcame.  As always Kirkpatrick did much research for her novel and shows us the tenacity, strength, and faith of the women who contributed to society in remarkable ways.

dollycat.gifBlogging (120x60)  This book was sent to me without charge by WaterBrook Multnomah
in exchange for this review. 

Black Cat · books · Christian · non-fiction · Tuesday · words

Tuesday, the language of blessing…

Black Cat Book Review

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The Language of Blessing by Joseph Cavanaugh III

In his book, The Language of Blessing, Joseph Cavanaugh III wants us to know that everyone in this world is one of a kind.  He wants us to know who we are and what gifts and talents we have been given.  And he wants us to know that each person is meant to bless others with these gifts and talents; this is the language of blessing.  He says, “I want to convince you that what you offer is so rare that it has never been given before and it will never be given again.”

With many personal stories, Cavanaugh, shares the sadness of not being affirmed as a child andlanguage how it affected how he viewed life and how he lived.  These are stories many have lived in one form or another.  Childhood is where we learn what we have to offer and when we are not blessed with affirmation we often think who and what we are is of little value. “After all, you cannot give to others what you have not received yourself”. With application activities after each chapter questions are asked to help us see the error in some of our thinking and given encouragement to use the lessons taught in the chapter to begin seeing and using our God-given gifts. 

George Barna writes in the forward, “Joe will also introduce you to some self-assessment inventories, which will enable you to invest yourself more heavily in using your strengths rather than inefficiently striving to overcome your weaknesses.”  This approach is what was most new and surprising to me…and most welcome.   

Once we know what we have within ourselves, and the importance of sharing who we are and what we have to offer, we can begin to use the language of blessing to affirm others.  As the author writes, “To deny your God-given gifts, talents, and intelligences is to deny His workmanship in your life.” 

This is an easy book to read, not a scholarly tome, on how we come to think of ourselves as we do, right or wrong.  And how to accent the positive and build on it and how to recognize the negative and erase it.  Well worth reading.

This book was sent to me by Tyndale House Publishers without charge in exchange for this review.

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Black Cat · books · Christian · Monday · Uncategorized

Monday, there is a deadline…

A Black Cat Book Review

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Deadline by Randy Alcorn

Three guys, friends since they were kids. Doc, Finney, and Jake.  Went to college together, joined the army together, served in Viet Nam, came home, got married, had children.  Now almost 50, two are still married, one is divorced, all are successful in their work.  One Sunday afternoon, watching football as usual, at half time they all get in the car to go pick up pizza.  There is an accident. Two die onedead survives.

A couple of weeks after the accident, Jake, the lone survivor, gets a note in the mail, a yellow piece of paper that simply says, “It wasn’t an accident”.  So begins Jake’s search for what really happened that Sunday afternoon and why.  His search puts his life in jeopardy and he does not know who to trust. But that is not the only story being told here.

Finney is a Christian, Doc is an atheist, and Jake believes there is a God but he is not sure that it matters.  The rest of Alcorn’s book is a telling of what happens to Finney in Heaven, Doc in Hell, and Jake on earth.  

The story of the “not an accident” is interesting and brings some thought-provoking questions forward.  I liked that part of the book.  The second part of the story about the men and their spiritual journeys I have mixed feelings about.

We follow Finney around Heaven and hear some conversations between Finney and his guardian angel and with people who died before he did, one of those being a daughter.  I did not find the images of Heaven very compelling.  It was a bit too ethereal for me and I did not like this part.  Then we find Doc in Hell.  I loved this part.   Pages 338-345  are a must read.  It is the best description of Hell I have ever read.  Jake’s journey is also followed and is sometimes difficult but in the end rewarding.

Deadline was first published in 1994 and was the first in a series.  Though I did not like every page of this book I will read the ones that followed…in hopes of more gems like the Hell in Deadline.  Made the book a winner in my eyes.  Well done, Mr. Alcorn.

75px-The-black-cat1_thumb.jpgThis book was sent to me free of charge by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers 
in exchange for this review.

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Black Cat · Christian · Monday · Uncategorized

Monday, the practice of private worship…

A Black Cat Book Review 

I Exalt You, O God by Jerry Bridges

We are to worship God in the way we live, this is the public part of our faith.  But there is a  personal worship we are called to and it this private worship that is explored in the 31 devotions in I Exalt You, O God.

In his book Bridges makes clear that we must come to God through Christ and open to the work1162464 of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  He gives suggestions from his own private worship, and from the practices of others, to help the reader in their time of worship.

The four parts of the book explore; His greatness, His holiness, His wisdom, and His love.  When we begin to understand these four attributes of God then we can begin to truly worship Him  more fully and in the way that glorifies Him as He is meant to be.

Each reading has a bible passage, with commentary and personal reflections by  Bridges, followed by scripture guided prayer.  The readings are fairly short and concise that bring your focus to God then the prayer which is where, in my opinion, we find the real substance of the teaching and how to worship.  

To begin, and continue, a practice of private worship takes time, commitment, and perseverance.  A good starting place is this book, I Exalt You, O God.

This book was sent to me (as an e-book) by WaterBrook Multnomah
   free of charge in exchange for this review.

Black Cat · books · Christian · Friday · Uncategorized

Friday, hope for survivors…

Black Cat Book Review

50 Days of Hope by Lynn Eib

Lynn Eib is not only an author, she is a wife and mother,  patient advocate in an oncology office,  the facilitator of a Cancer Prayer Support Group she started in 1991, and a cancer survivor.  In this small book she offers emotional and spiritual support, encouragement, and hope to newly diagnosed cancer patients and the family and friends who care for them.

As cancer and its treatments often cause physical bodies to become weakened it can also weaken the spirit.  Supplements may be needed to supply nourishment for the body and inspiring words from people who have “been there done that” can shore up sagging spirits. 

The daily readings are short, often humorous, offering God’s encouragement through inspiring stories of real people living with cancer.  Eib shares stories of her own journey with cancer and the journeys of other cancer survivors; a cancer survivor is anyone with cancer, from day of diagnosis and for the rest of his/her life.  Each day there is a story of a survivor,  their family or friends, most days a scripture, and always a prayer.

At the back of the book there is a section with scripture references about things like fear, worry, peace.  It is not an exhaustive reference but it is encouraging and helpful in finding  comfort.

Though this is written specifically for cancer survivors and those who love them it could certainly be helpful to someone facing a difficult diagnosis of any kind.  The book is small and has an attractive green leather-like cover and is comfortable in the hand.  The only down-side is the print is small and the ink green.  It was not difficult for me to read but might be for someone with any vision impairment.

50 Days Of Hope would be a thoughtful gift not only for cancer survivors but for anyone with a serious or chronic health challenge.

 This book was sent to me by Tyndale House Publishers at no charge in exchange for this review.

Black Cat · books · Christian · Saturday · Uncategorized

Saturday, necessary enemies…

A Black Cat Book Review

The Necessity of an Enemy by Ron Carpenter Jr.

Ron Carpenter Jr. is senior pastor of Redemption World Outreach Center in Greenville, South Carolina.  He and his wife, Hope, founded the church in 1991.  Today the church has over 16,000 members and 150 community outreach programs.  Their ministry includes television and web programs and more than 1,500 affiliated churches worldwide.  He is a successful man who learned that enemies are necessary because we have our part and purpose in God’s plan.  God uses enemies to strengthen us, test us, build our vision, and to help us become who He has purposed us to be.

There are seven parts to the book that Carpenter wrote after his own difficult time battling the enemies the Enemy put in his path.

Parts one, two, and three tell us why the enemy is necessary, who is really in control, and that being a target in the enemy’s sights is a blessing.

“Every conflict, if embraced properly, will reveal itself to you as a necessary step toward purpose and destiny.”

Parts four, five, and six tell us where enemies enter our lives, what weapons are used by the enemy, and there is always an enemy on the prowl.

“An enemy is someone who increases, strengthens, encourages, or enables an area of weakness in you that God wants to remove from your life.”

In part seven there are lessons on how to fight.

“…engage the enemy, not based on what you are seeing in your circumstances, but based on the promises–the truth–of what you are hearing in the word of God.”

“To defeat an enemy you must hear what God says and act accordingly.”

In conclusion, part eight tells us about the next thing…the spoils of victory.  Victory in a battle does not mean there will not be other battles.  The spoils of victory are to be acknowledged and enjoyed but our guard and focus must remain and we must be alert.

“The Enemy is there, trying to ensure that your potential never manifests itself.  However, the fact that he is present means there’s something about your future he fears.”

Carpenter writes of the enemy that came into his life and set him spinning.  His experience and what it cost him, taught him, and how it gave him a clearer vision of who he is and his part in God’s plan led to the writing of this book.  What he writes is challenging and he sometimes is brash and can sound arrogant.  But he encourages the reader to face the Enemy and do battle in spite of weaknesses knowing it is all part of God’s plan and purpose for us all.

“How bitter the battle, but how sweet the victory!”

I received this book from WaterBrook Press at no cost to me in exchange for this review.