Thursday, September 30, 2010

Winner of Road ID Product Code Is....

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The Random Number Generator has chosen the winner of the Road ID Gift Code. And that winner is....


Congratulations, Holly! 

I will be making contact shortly.

Thanks to those of you who entered. Road ID makes some great - and potentially life-saving - products. I encourage you to place your orders through this link - and please share the link with others!

Special thanks again to Road ID for sponsoring this giveaway!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

‘A Friend in the Storm’ by Cheryl Ricker – Book Review

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I always love to come across a book that will be of help during the tough times in life. Such is the case with the first book from Cheryl Ricker, ‘A Friend in the Storm.’

Here is the synopsis of this lovely book:

This ninety-six page gift-book combines heartfelt poetry with powerful quotes and Scripture verses to speak to the heart and soul of anyone going through difficult times. The beautiful fabric binding with foil stamping makes this the perfect gift for anyone seeking comfort. 
Author Cheryl Ricker reaches into the depths of human suffering from the perspective of Christ speaking to the reader in soothing poetic words.

This elegant gift book will reach the heart and soul of anyone facing difficult circumstances, leading them through their suffering into the arms of a faithful loving God.

Each two-page spread includes a poem, as well as reflections written by Christian leaders, along with healing Scripture verses.

The book is described this way on the back cover:

          A healing treasury of quotes, Scripture and poetry that leads to lasting Hope.       

Here is the biography of the author:

Cheryl Ricker has a degree in creative writing and has written columns and articles for various magazines and newspapers. She's been writing poetry all her life and her poems have won awards in fine arts and literary magazines. Cheryl lives with her husband and two sons in Rochester, Minnesota.

And here is the book trailer:

Here’s a news story from Rochester, Minnesota, Cheryl's hometown, with the back story behind the book:

Here are a couple of samples from this precious publication:

Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow – it empties today of its strength. – Corrie Ten Boom (p. 16)

My dancing angels celebrate,
before My glowing face,
laughing freely, you’ve been rescued;
I secured your resting place.
It’s a lasting breeze of happiness;
You’re safe and sound with Me;
Friend, you’re all I’ve ever wanted;
I’m your lifetime Guarantee. (p. 83)

This is a beautiful little book. It is sized such that you can easily carry it in a purse or a car pocket for ready accessibility. It is cloth-covered with a foil-stamped cover, with a ribbon (such as you’d find in a Bible) for use as a page marker.

I am blessed to have Cheryl as a friend on Facebook and Twitter. As is the case with many of my ‘virtual friends,’ I hope we meet in person one day. We may have to wait until heaven, but I look forward to the day nonetheless!

I had the opportunity to give this lovely book to a good friend who was really being put through the fire. She was greatly blessed by it, and saw that God uses these times in our life to purify us and make us more like His Son.

I am thankful to Cheryl for providing this lovely resource, and would encourage anyone to pick up a copy for themselves or others in their lives.

You can order this book here.

This book was published by Zondervan Publishers and provided by them and LitFuse Publicity Group for publicity purposes. I am happy to be part of the blog tour with these other reviewers.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Winner of the Special Ted Dekker 'Immanuel's Veins' T-Shirt Is.....

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The Random Number Generator has decided who will be the blessed recipient of the special t-shirt produced to promote Ted Dekker's newest release, 'Immanuel's Veins.' And that winner is....

Trinity Rose!

Congratulations, Trinity Rose!

If anyone wants to order this compelling book, you can do so here.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers for providing this special prize! And blessings to all of you who entered!

‘Exposed: A Novel' by Ashley Weis – Book Review

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One of the most destructive industries for both the individual involved and the people observing is the pornography industry. In Ashley Weis’ debut novel, ‘Exposed: A Novel,’ she shows the industry from both sides of the lens.

Here is the synopsis of this novel:

Allyson Graham, marriage counselor and lover of love, lived a life of romance few could imagine. Until her husband’s secret addiction stared at her from the computer screen. Will she be able to forgive the man who lied to her all of those precious years?
Follow her painful story alongside the heartbreaking story of Taylor Adams, a young girl searching for her worth in the world. As Allyson struggles to forgive her husband for lying about his addiction, Taylor naively falls into the same self-destructive industry and discovers that the attention and fun is nothing like she thought it would be.

Here is the biography of the author:

Ashley Weis is continuously discovering the beauty after rain with her husband, George, after God rolled back the clouds that casted shadows over their romance. With a heart for hurting hearts, Ashley fights for love and marriages daily on her blog, More than Desire, with hope that one day every marriage will be cleansed of the stains that drench their core.

I was intrigued by this ‘Note to Readers’ that Ashley shared at the beginning of the book:

Throughout these pages you will see the aching truths hidden behind the porn industry’s mask. This is not reality for every porn star, but it is for many. I have chosen to omit language and details to protect the minds of my readers, but the porn industry can be much, much worse than it is portrayed in these pages.
Also, the wife’s story may seem melodramatic to some, but it is loosely based off of my story and the story of many women who write to me. No story is the same and some may be better or worse than the lives I’ve chosen to show in these pages, but for many of us… these stories are painfully real.

The storyline revolves around the lives of Allyson Graham, whose husband is addicted to pornography, and Taylor Adams, who becomes personally enmeshed in the industry. The chapters alternate between their stories.

Taylor had just turned eighteen, and she needed a job. The classified ad in the newspaper piqued her interest – Models 18+ needed, $500 a day. She called the phone number:

          A man’s voice said something, but I couldn’t hear.
          “Hello?” I said.
“Yes, yes,” he said as though a huge smile were on his face. “Andy Cross, how can I help you?”
“I’m sorry, I must have the wrong number.”
“Are you calling about the modeling ad?”
Don’t kid yourself, Taylor, I thought.
“Are you interested in the modeling job? I bet you are. I can tell you’re beautiful just by the sound of your voice.”
Whoa, his words felt like Chapstick to sun-scorched lips. “Um, yes, would you tell me more about it?”
“Sure, would you like to meet for an in-person interview?” (p. 9)

And so began Taylor’s relationship with Andy Cross…

As time went on, Taylor’s life spiraled down. She grew cold and cynical, and cocaine, which she nicknamed ‘Cola,’ was her constant companion. It helped her cope with the lifestyle she was lured into:
To cope with the good news [Chlamydia], I spent the night with Cola. But I got so fearful of Mom finding me that I duct-taped clothes to my windows so no one could see in. I taped and taped and taped my entire apartment until I ran out of tape.
I didn’t want anyone to kidnap me. And the more I taped, the more I knew that the trees outside my window were spying on me and telling Mom everything. After I finally covered every window, I looked at my television and knew it had some kind of video camera lodged in there, watching my every move. So I draped a blanket over it. (p. 51)

On the other side of the industry, Ally discovered that her beloved husband Jessie had an addiction to pornography. That revelation broke all of her personal insecurities to the surface. They had a hard time even going to dinner:

          “Don’t lie to me. Were you looking at her?”
His shoulders dropped.
Another tear trailed my nose. 
“Were you attracted to her?”
“Don’t ask me something like that.”
“Tell me.”
“Yes, I was attracted to her, okay? I didn’t mean to look at her. She just caught my eye and you happened to look at me right when I saw her. I didn’t stare at her like you think.” (p. 57)

During that exchange, I felt sympathy for both of them.

Taylor had a cynical view about God as much as she did about every other aspect of life:

I didn’t believe in prayers. And I didn’t believe people went somewhere when they died. I figured they closed their eyes and said goodbye forever. Nothing next. No reincarnation. No heaven. No hell. No darkness. (p. 91)

Allyson’s relationship with the Lord also suffered during this trying time in her life:

Following Jesus under these circumstances would only worsen things. And I didn’t know what Jesus would do anyway, it’s not like He had to worry about being beautiful to His husband. I needed to believe in myself on this one. (p. 103)

She was shown an example of forgiveness to the extreme from her father; her mother had left him decades ago, but he never gave up on their marriage:

“I made vows to your mother thirty-seven years ago. She can break them all she wants, but I don’t plan to.”
“You mean…what?”
“I love her, Allyson. That’s never changed. Never will.”
“But all she’s done.” I raised my voice. “This. She’d lied, betrayed you, she’d made a mess of my life. How can you possibly forgive her, much less still love her?”
Dad pointed to the clouds. “Because He forgave me.” (p. 112)

Taylor, in particular, saw example after example of judgmental people who proclaimed themselves to be Christ followers. Fortunately, the Lord also brought a couple of ladies into her path who exemplified the love of Christ to her.

In the end, the lives of these two women who were precious in the Lord’s sight crossed paths. I will not divulge how or where it happened, but I was glad for the ending, albeit it was bittersweet.  
I have very limited involvement with pornography, I am grateful to say. I have always believed that it was harmful to the people personally involved in it, but it is clear that it is also devastating to the readers/viewers and their significant others. The pornography industry has long been portrayed as a ‘victimless crime.’ This fictionalized account, which includes many real scenes, makes it clear that there are victims far and wide.

This is the second book I have read with the pornography industry as the main theme; the other book is ‘Scars and Stilettos,’ an autobiography by Harmony Dust (you can read my review here), whose life was redeemed by Jesus Christ. From the small glimpse I have had of this industry, it is so harmful all the way around. I am so grateful that God has shielded me and my husband from this menace, and I pray that that shield stays intact for us. I also pray that this book will be useful for many people to see how God can redeem lives.

A unique aspect of this book is that Ally continues her story in a blog, which is accessible to buyers of this book. Another helpful piece of information is that a portion of the proceeds will be used to support three ministries dedicated to helping those harmed by pornography – CovenantEyes, an accountability software program; XXX Church, and the Pink Cross Foundation.

It is rare for Christian-themed books to address such difficult issues (although less so, thanks to authors like Mary DeMuth, who is listed in Ashley’s Acknowledgement pages). I am grateful to Ashley for bringing this tough theme to the surface and for presenting it in such a compelling and compassionate way. I encourage anyone who wants to get a better perspective on the harm that pornography foists on its participants (both those in the industry and those indulging in it) to read this well-written book.

You can order this book here.

This book was published by Winslet Press and generously provided by the author for review purposes.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

‘A Hope Undaunted’ by Julie Lessman – Book Review

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One era of our country’s history that has always been interesting to me is the 1920s – also known as the ‘Roaring ‘20s.’ Julie Lessman’s latest novel, ‘A Hope Undaunted’ is set beginning in 1929, which also marks the beginning of the Great Depression.

Here is the synopsis of this book:

What happens when the boy she loved to hate becomes the man she hates to love?
The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O’Connor is the epitome of the new woman – smart and sassy with goals for her future that includes the perfect husband and a challenging career in law. Her boyfriend Jack fits all of her criteria for a husband – good-looking, well-connected, wealthy and eating out of her hand. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Luke McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face-to-face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jack? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever?

Here is the biography of this author:

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author with an intense passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and Holt Medallion Award of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational. Julie is also the recipient of thirteen Romance Writers of America awards. She resides in Missouri and is the author of The Daughters of Boston series, which includes A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied.

The main character in this book is Katie O’Connor, who comes from a large and loving Irish family. She is very determined and head-strong, which can be both good and bad… Here is the opening paragraph from this deeply moving novel:

Now this is how love should be – nice and neat. Katie O’Connor sucked the last of her Coca-Cola through a straw and studied her steady beau Jack Worthington with a secret smile. No, siree, no dime-novel notions of love for her. Love requires a focused plan, she thought to herself with certainty. Cool, calm, rational thinking, not a moment in time where one lovesick glance seals your fate. With a loud, hollow noise, she drained her soda and pushed the glass away, assessing Jack through approving eyes. Her lips slanted. Love at first sight, my foot. (p. 7)

She loved her father, although she fought his authority at every turn:

Katie blinked to dispel her sudden onslaught of guilt. Not that she didn’t love her father. No, Patrick O’Connor was the one man who Katie truly did respect and love, the one man whose approval she longed to win with every fiber of her being. A knot of hurt shifted in her throat. But it seemed her father’s approval was never been able to achieve, no matter how she’d excelled in school. Total submission seemed to be all Patrick O’Connor wanted and the one thing Katie couldn’t give, at least willingly. She sighed, his words haunting her as she stared out the window. “You’re a handful, Katie Rose, and God knows if I don’t keep you in line now, some poor man will shoot me later.” (pp. 13-14)

Katie had high professional ambitions:

She drew in a deep breath, hope winging at the thought of attending Boston’s prestigious Portia Law School. Established exclusively for women in 1908, Portia’s generous admission guidelines required only a high school degree, and the prospect of going to law school at the same time as Jack thrilled her to the bone. This was her chance – an era where women were flying high into their futures – literally – like Amelia Earhardt with her world record for female pilots. A shiver of anticipation raced through Katie. Well, she intended to set a record of her own – to be the first truly independent woman in her family. To pursue women’s rights – first as a lawyer, then as a congresswoman someday. And Portia Law School was just the start. It was there where her plan would unfold to help women who couldn’t help themselves, and there where she’d sow the seeds for her own financial freedom. And in Jack, she had the perfect complement – a man who not only shared her vision, but who enjoyed the distinct advantage of connections.  Her lips slanted into a smile. Connections that included an attorney father who presided over one of the most prestigious law firms in the city, not to mention winning a senate seat last year. (pp. 24-25)  

I will forgive Julie and her editors, etc… for misspelling the name of one of my idols, Amelia Earhart

All of Katie’s family had a strong faith in the Lord; Katie wasn’t so sure. Here is an exchange between Katie and her sister, Faith, when her father forced her to volunteer during the summer at the Boston Children’s Aid Society, a legal firm assisting children, with Luke McGee, her childhood nemesis:

She folder her arms with a grunt, her body suddenly stiff. “So let me get this straight – I’m supposed to kowtow to whatever Father wants me to do, even something as awful as slaving for someone I despise? And then God wants me to forgive them both in the process?” Her acute annoyance escaped in a noisy blast of air. “Impossible.”
A hint of a smile curved at the edges of Faith’s lips. “Difficult, yes, but not impossible, trust me. Not with God’s help.”
“Oh, and I suppose if Collin forced you to do something that completely went against every shred of common sense and emotion in your body – and I’m not talking something as insignificant as grousing about your job – that you would just lie down and surrender without a fight.”
Faith sucked in a deep breath and released it slowly. “No, not without a fight, certainly…but the fight wouldn’t be between Collin and me, hopefully.” She looked up, capturing Katie’s gaze with a silent plea. “It would be between my will and God’s. And if I’ve learned anything from painful experience, Katie, it’s that God’s will is the path to my ultimate happiness…and yours.” (p. 57)

As the summer went on, Katie discovered some interesting feelings on her part:

          God help me…I’m attracted to Cluny McGee!
A faint, pitiful groan issued forth as she wavered, still reeling from the shock of the encounter. Dear Lord, how could this have happened? When had prickles of annoyance turned to prickles of heat? Katie put a hand to her stomach and sucked in a deep breath, painfully aware that no man had even made her feel this way. She thought of Jack with his easy manner and hungry kisses, and knew they’d never made her feel like she did right now. Her knees all but buckled at the thought. (p. 103)

Luke’s feelings ran along the same lines:

Over the summer, he’d made the startling discovery that Katie O’Connor was everything he wanted in a woman, and somehow he’d known it from the age of fourteen. With little or no effort on her part, she had won his affection – from a cold shoulder at the age of ten, to a teasing smile at the age of eighteen – and Luke would give anything to be more than friends. But they had a deal, and she had a boyfriend, and Luke was a man of his word. (p. 222)

After a series of setbacks, Katie decided that she wanted to take God up on his offer of salvation:

Her voice quivered, but her resolve was sure. “God, Faith says you’re up there, that you care for me and have a plan for my life. If you are, and I’m not just talking to a ceiling, will you show me? Reveal yourself to me, your love, your purpose for my life. Please, God, come into my heart and make me the woman you want me to be.”
She opened her eyes then, and somehow the room seemed different…
Dear God, can it really be this easy?
Her eyelids fluttered open and she looked at her sister, her words soft with wonder. “I never knew…never knew that it could be so easy…so real.”
A smile lighted upon her sister’s lips as Faith placed a gentle hand to Katie’s face. “Believing in him is easy, Katie, because he gives us that tiny seed of faith. And loving him is even more so, because when you see how he moves on your behalf, your heart will spill over with joy. But unfortunately, living for him is not so easy. Feelings and doubts will come and go, but his Word stands forever. Study it, commit it to memory, and learn through his Bible what he wants you to do. Because everything in this world will come and go – people we love, financial security, jobs – but God is a constant, and his promises endure forever.” (pp. 406-407)

This book is full of lots of soap opera-type drama. In fact, it reminded me a lot of the very dramatic movies from that era and the 1940s. Mrs. Lessman writes with a flair for the dramatic, but there are also lots of moments of light humor and great familial love. I grew to really care for the characters in this book, and I look forward to future novels in the ‘Wind of Change’ series. I will not give away the ending of the book, but suffice to say that I liked the outcome, and it whetted my appetite for the next book in the series.

You can order this book here.

Available September 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This book was published by Revell Books and provided by them for review purposes.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

‘Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet’ by Jonathan Merritt – Book Review and Giveaway of Three Copies

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For far too long, Christians have not embraced the preservation of God’s Creation, His earth. In his debut book, ‘Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet,’ Jonathan Merritt makes a convincing case, using Scripture, to show that we need to be more proactive in keeping His Creation as pristine as we can.

Here is the synopsis of this book:

Accompany one pilgrim on a spiritual expedition from enviro-ambivalent to standing at the forefront of the green movement in the church. Jonathan Merritt confronts tough questions dividing America and the faith community while exploring God’s plan for restoration. He shares his journey in the hope that you, too, will unlock the divine plan for our planet.

Here is the biography of this author:

Jonathan Merritt is a faith and culture writer who has published more than one hundred articles in respected national publications as USA Today, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Newsweek’s “On Faith” blog, and Relevant, HomeLife, Outreach, and Charisma magazines. As a respected Christian voice, he has been interviewed by ABC World News, NPR, PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, the Guardian, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.
Jonathan first began speaking out on the divine plan for our planet after a classroom epiphany prompted him to organize a national coalition of Christian leaders who care about creation, founding the Southern Baptist Environmental and Climate Initiative. Jonathan  holds a bachelor of science degree from Liberty University, a master of divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a master of theology degree from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. Jonathan is a sought-after speaker for colleges, seminaries, churches, and conferences on cultural and religious issues. He resides outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

And here is Jonathan on CNN being interviewed about the issue of the environment and evangelical Christians:

In the Introduction, Mr. Merritt says that we need to work together as the Body of Christ in order for the world to be a better place:

As we work together to solve our world’s many problems, we release redemptive power into the world. When we choose to live responsibly and sustainably, we bring hope to those whom our lifestyles affect. When faith enters the environmental conversation, simple issues become inspiring missions. When we become green like God, everything changes….
But where do we begin? As an editorial in Christianity Today put it, “The Bible is not the enemy of the environmental cause, but its greatest asset.” Christianity has the most compelling religious narrative known to man, and that is why this book begins where it begins – with a study of the Scriptures. In the pages that follow, we will encounter a divine plan for this plan, a plan I never knew existed. We will come face-to-face with mind-blowing problems all over the globe. Together we will survey the past as we search the Scriptures for God’s heart. Then we will fast-forward to the future and consider those who will live on this earth long after you and I are dead, buried, and forgotten. When the church starts preaching and promoting the stewardship principles found in Scripture, humanity can really begin to solve the environmental problems.
God’s people are on the move, and this book is your personal invitation to join in. The creation care movement views our world through God’s eyes. Its sees our environmental crisis primarily as biblical and moral issues rather than economic, sociological, or political. The creation care movement seeks to honor God’s heart for this planet and the people on it.
I’ve fallen in love with our green God. My prayer is that you will do the same while reading this book. (pp. xiv-xv)

Jonathan’s eyes were open to the way God viewed the environment in a theology class in seminary. He explains it this way:

Dr. Hammett was talking about the ways God communicates with humans. “There are two forms of divine revelation: the special revelation in Scripture that is able to lead us to salvation and the general revelation we receive through nature. Both are from God,” he declared over a scarred oak lectern. “So when we destroy creation, which is God’s revelation, it’s similar to tearing a page out of the Bible.”
Wham! Wap! Bang! Like an action sequence from the old Batman show, I took one straight on the chin. Up until that moment, I hadn’t been a friend of creation. I never recycled, and energy conservation was inconsequential. Although I never vocalized it, I believed it was okay for others to struggle a little as long as I prospered.  Prior to my classroom jolt, I remember tossing crumpled fast-food bags out of the windows of my speeding blue Pontiac thinking I was being bold and cute. When people in my car called me for being destructive, I laughed. I often describe myself as a recovering anti-environmentalist. (p. 2)

Jonathan felt as though God has a special calling for him:

The discrepancy between Christians’ attitudes toward environmental problems and God’s plan inspired and motivated me. I felt compelled to do something, to play the part I felt God chose for me.
Great writers become tour guides, leading me along the path to environmental reality. I was astonished at the vastness of human-caused problems throughout the world, but more importantly, I was shocked at how blinded I had been to them until now. Living in a wealthy, first-world nation has sheltered me from the global problems that devastate billions of citizens of our planet. Living well above the poverty line has secluded me from many of the same problems afflicting less-privileged Americans. After my classroom epiphany, I feel impelled to act. (p. 7)

Jonathan speculates on why people don’t understand what God thinks about His planet:

One reason many do not know the divine plan for our planet is they do not understand the Bible. The Bible holds the answer to many of life’s most important questions – including the most important question regarding eternity – but every answer to every technical question isn’t found there. (p. 27)

It is important that we understand God’s place in creation:

By affirming God’s place both before and after creation, we are also able to reject the popular new age and pantheistic streams of thought that claim nature is God and vice versa. God and nature are not blended together like a strawberry-banana smoothie so that one element is indistinct from the other. As the Anglican scholar N.T. Wright says, “God and the world are not the same thing, nor is everything simply held within something called ‘god.’ Within biblical theology it remains the case that the one living God created a world that is other than Himself, not contained within Himself.” (pp. 29-30)

God has given us an incredible responsibility:

As God gave dominion to Israelite kings, we have been given limited authority over the natural world. We don’t have carte blanche power, but rather the privilege of responsibly enjoying the world’s many benefits and resources. This earthly domain is to be a place where God reigns above all. Every creature is to be treated with care. Humans are given the task of ruling the earth as “benevolent kings.” (p. 46)

Jonathan particularly loves this characteristic of God:

Of all the things I’ve grown to love most about God, topping the list is that He is so unexpected. Parting the Red Sea? Who would have predicted that one? Feeling a crowd from a child’s lunch box? No way. Wrapping His only Son in human flesh? No one but God can take such eccentricity and squeeze out such profundity. Throughout Scripture, God shows up in strange and surprising ways. It is a mistake, however, to find only wonderment.
If I am not careful, I’ll read these stories with fascination but never distill the transcendent elements. As clichéd as it sounds, everything God does is purposeful. In every surprising story is truth about God, His character, and His plans. But I must be willing to savor each passage long enough to discover what God wants to communicate. This is especially true in the narrative-rich Old Testament where we run into floating ax heads, talking donkeys, burning bushes, and dry fleeces on wet grass. (p. 57)

God has given us (at least) two ways to learn of Him:

Christians believe that God has written two books: world and Word. These books – nature and the Bible – are different in both form and function. Through creation, we know about God, but through the Bible, we can know God. We have access to God’s glory through the world around us, but we have access to God’s grace in salvation through the Bible. Both books are powerful and should be revered. The revelation of God through creations is so powerful and so obvious, Paul says that no one is excused for refusing to believe our Creator exists. The world is God’s apologetic about Himself. (p. 73)

Jonathan urges us to connect with God in nature:

Force yourself to take a moment and go where no one can find you. I have used the Blue Ridge Parkway when the leaves were changing for autumn, the front porch of a vacant house when the year’s first snow was falling, and even a local park no more than ten square acres. The season doesn’t matter and neither does the expanse as long as you are immersed in nature. Turn off your phone. Once you get there, turn off your MP3 player too. Be silent. Take Psalm 46:10 seriously: “Be still and know that I am God.” Ponder the things around you; ponder God. I guarantee the experience will do your heart and mind much good. It will make you more reverent, more grateful, and more aware of the One who stands behind the creation calling you to Himself. (p. 77)

I know that I often feel closest to God when I am out in His creation and am not distracted by man-made things that keep me from Him.

One of the arguments Christians use to reject environment issues is “Creation Care Distracts Us From More Important Tasks.” Jonathan refutes this idea:

Creation care speaks to people in developing nations where people have a greater connection to nature in everyday life. Creation care is a bridge for the gospel in these places. But it also bolsters the gospel in the Western world where many people know of, if not respect, Jesus. People aren’t as connected with creation in these places, but they are often more familiar with Christianity. The whole world is increasingly equating an externally focused, sustainable, earth-friendly lifestyle with what it means to be a “good person.” When the world see the Christian community perpetuating systems of wealth and waste, its damages our witness. When they see us living compassionate, sustainable lives, our witness becomes authentic and convincing. (p. 91)

In the United States, we are all culpable for our excesses:

Shameless consumerism drives life in America. We have permitted a culture that rushes through the graceful holiday of Thanksgiving to celebrate the High Holy Day of Mindless Consumerism. This comes at a high price, not merely measured in graphs, charts, gross domestic products, and dissertations by students at Harvard Business School. It is paid for with the natural resources that we have harvested to feed our insane consumer habits. It is paid for with the useless land destruction and results in the mountainous piles of waste we produce. (p. 129)

Making changes for our environment is our calling:

Transformation, redemption, compassion, and creation care are not options for us; they are our calling. Along with creation care are poverty and justice, hunger and war. Hurting orphans and hungry grandmothers wait for us to raise our voices. God’s Word demands that we minister in culture, politics, and media. Everyday we wake up and are faced with a choice to do nothing or make a difference. We either ignore the desire of God’s heart for our world or embrace it. Let’s clinch the task God has given us and transform this place called Earth into a garden where the creation will sing hymns about the Creator and the gospel of Jesus Christ will flourish. (p. 156)

Included in the wonderful resource are Guidelines for A Greener Life (Appendix 1). Appendix 2 is ‘The Big, Bad Climate Question,’ which addresses the divisive issue of climate change, aka global warming. There is also a list of useful websites and other books on this subject.  

I have to admit that, although I have always loved the Great Outdoors, it had been a long time since I have considered myself ‘a tree hugger.’ I think I am coming full circle. It is clear to me that Christians have gone too far to the other extreme to fight the extremism on the other side. The issue has become more political than it should have been. That seems to be the general trend – to go so far to the other side of the people you disagree with that you are just as extreme as they are. I think that is a disservice to God. And the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexican has opened my eyes again to the damage that multi-national corporations do to our planet in the name of profit and the bottom line. I am certain it grieves the heart of God.

I am so glad that God has revealed the truth of how important the Earth is to Him to Jonathan. And I am also glad that Jonathan has been brave enough to disseminate this message so widely. He has withstood a lot of ridicule, and he should be applauded for being so obedient to the Lord’s leading. It is encouraging to see a twenty-something who is interested in God and others.

You can order this book here.

This book was published by FaithWords, a division of the Hachette Book Group, and provided by them for review and giveaway purposes.

I have three copies of this impactful book that I would love to send along to three winners! 

There are several ways to gain entry:

1) Leave a comment here on the blog, sharing with us an action that you take in your family to protect the environment; we would love to possibly implement your idea! Please make sure to leave your email address in this format – sample[at]gmail[dot]com.

2) Follow me on Twitter; I will more than likely follow you back!  If you are already a Twitter follower, that counts, too!  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

3) Follow me as a Google Friend on this blog; if you are already a Friend, that counts, too!  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

4) Become my Facebook friend.  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

5) Follow this blog as a NetWorked Blog Follower after you’ve become my Facebook friend.  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

So there are five chances to enter!  Please limit one entry per option.

This giveaway is for U.S. AND Canadian residents only.  The deadline for entry is Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. EST.  A winner will be chosen via the Random Number Generator  on Friday, October 8, 2010 and will be contacted via email.  The best to all of you! 

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