Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Christmas

Susan Barnes taking a short break from blogging
This will be my last post for 2016 as I will be taking next week off from blogging and spending time with family and friends. I'll be back in the new year.

I'd like to wish everyone who passes by here a blessed Christmas. Hope to see you in the new year.

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

God is generous

Happy people are generous people. God, in his generosity has given us a gift beyond description, Jesus, the most expensive gift that could ever be given. In giving Jesus, God gives us himself. Paul writes: "Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:15). The magnitude of God's generosity is beyond measure.

God did not send Jesus because he was under an obligation to send a Saviour, or because he was under pressure to solve the sin problem. He was not coerced, cajoled or conned. He was not required to do anything about the conditions that sin created. After all God is Sovereign and free to do as he pleases. Yet sending Jesus shows us God's generous heart.

A generous, happy heart doesn't discount pain. Amidst the excitement of that first Christmas with angels appearing and shepherds praising God, we also find a prophesy regarding pain. "Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: 'This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel…And a sword will pierce your own soul too'" (Luke 2:34-35). Yet this had not stopped the angel telling Mary, "you have found favor with God" (Luke 1:30) nor from the angels telling the shepherds, "I bring you good news of great joy" (Luke 2:10).

In the parable of the prodigal son it is recorded that the father said to his eldest son, "But we had to celebrate and be glad" (Luke 15:32). Yes, there are times when we have to celebrate and be glad, regardless of what else is going on in our lives or in the world and when we do, we reflect the generous heart of God.

This Christmas, let's celebrate and be glad.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Book Review : The Mighty Mighty King

The Mighty Mighty King by Penny Morrison is a delightful rhyming book based on the Christmas story. Penny has suggested actions for the children to do while the story is being read to encourage their engagement and I can see this working well.

Lisa Flanagan has done a great job with the illustrations. They add feeling and depth to the story as well as realism. For example the picture of the wise men's arrival is depicted in a house not a stable and Jesus is no longer a newborn. This is in line with the Biblical account.

I also like the way the book deals with the purpose of Jesus' coming to earth and even mentions his death. So often in Christmas books Jesus' birth gets isolated from his mission.

Overall a terrific book for children.

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Devotional Thought : Numbers 7:12-17

The one who brought his offering on the first day was Nahshon son of Amminadab of the tribe of Judah. His offering was one silver plate … one silver sprinkling bowl … finest flour mixed with olive oil … one gold dish … incense; one young bull, one ram and one male lamb … one male goat … oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs ... This was the offering of Nahshon son of Amminadab. Numbers 7:12-17

Children love repetition. They want the same stories read every night, the same songs and the same coloured cup for their drink. However as they grow repetition becomes boring and by the time they are young adults they are looking for the latest fashion, fresh ideas and new adventures.

Reading this chapter in Numbers though, you get the impression God loves repetition. Each tribe brought exactly the same offering and God had his scribe write down each item twelve times!

From God's perspective every item was important and worth recording because it was a gift given freely from a group of people who were expressing their devotion to God in the early days of their relationship. Later the Lord would say about this time: "I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown" (Jeremiah 2:2-3).

Likewise God delights in every offering and sacrifice that we make for him. Perhaps not those made out of duty, but those given in love from a grateful heart are precious to him.

Constable in his Commentary writes: "Where people are conscious of the blessing of God in their lives, they will give spontaneously—and keep on giving. Finance in the church is directly related to faith and consecration."

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Expectation and Desire

Some years ago, when I saw the movie, Prince Caspian, the second in C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, I was struck my Lucy's comments when she sees Aslan, the character who represents Jesus. She sees him in the distance but the others don't. When they ask her why they didn't see him, Lucy gives two answers. "Maybe you weren't looking for him," and later, "Maybe you don't want to see him."

These two answers may also be the reasons we don't hear from God as often as we would like. We may not be expecting God to speak into our lives or we may not want him to speak into our lives.

Expectation is closely linked to faith. If we come to a prayer time or even a church service with little expectation God is going to say anything to us, then we are unlikely to experience God's direction or guidance. We know "he rewards those who earnestly seek him" (Hebrews 11:6) rather than the casual enquirer.

Alternatively we may not want God to speak into our lives. We need to trust in God's character, knowing He is a good God who loves us deeply. May we learn from Lucy, the importance of both expecting and desiring to hear from God.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Clash of the Titles Champion

Kara Isaac is the latest winner of the Clash of the Titles, click here for the other entrants.

Congratulations to Kara Isaac, with 
Can't Help Falling

29430781 

Buy on Amazon
Buy on Barnes and Noble


A funny, heartfelt romance about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England.

Emelia Mason has spent her career finding the dirt on the rich and famous. But deep down past this fearless tabloid-reporter façade, there’s a nerdy Narnia-obsessed girl who still can’t resist climbing into wardrobes to check for the magical land on the other side. When a story she writes produces tragic results, she flees to Oxford, England—home to C.S. Lewis—to try and make amends for the damage she has caused.

Peter Carlisle was on his way to become one of Great Britain’s best rowers—until he injured his shoulder and lost his chance at glory. He’s determined to fight his way back to the top even if it means risking permanent disability to do so. It’s the only way he can find his way past failing the one person who never stopped believing in his Olympic dream.

When Peter and Emelia cross paths on her first night in Oxford, the attraction is instant and they find common ground in their shared love of Narnia. But can the lessons from a fantasyland be enough to hold them together when secrets of the real world threaten to tear them apart? Cobblestone streets, an aristocratic estate, and an antique shop with curious a wardrobe bring the world of Narnia to life in Kara Isaac’s inspiring and romantic story about second chances.

What Voters Had to Say:

These authors are all a blessing! Please keep writing...You encourage us all!

The cover alone makes me want to read the book, which sounds like a wonderful read. :)

Loved Can't Help Falling. More please! :)

Keep writing, Kara! Love your books!

Kara Isaac, I have just discovered your books and love them. Keep it up! 

I loved Kara Isaac's first book, Close to You, so am really looking forward to reading Can't Help Falling. I enjoy her style of writing. I recommended Close to You to my book club, so hopefully we'll be reading and discussing it sometime in 2017.


I have read, and enjoyed, Can't Help Falling. As far as the covers, I have to vote for this one because what little you see of the guy's face, it looks like my son!!

I won Kara Isaac's Can't Help Falling on a Facebook giveaway and was wonderfully surprised at how much I loved this book! The cover is amazing and it really catches the eye!

Kara has a zany unique writing style that combines substance with heartfelt laughter


I'm not familiar with some of these authors but really like some of them!  Keep up the good work!

Kara Isaac, you have such a gift bringing comedy, romance, and meaning to your stories. I love them!!

Wish I could have picked two books here, because Can't Help Falling caught me just by the description. I'll be looking for this one!


About the Author:

Kara Isaac
Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. When she's not working her day job as a public servant, chasing around a ninja preschooler and his feisty toddler sister, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. Her debut romantic comedy, Close To You, released April 2016. Her sophomore novel, Can't Help Falling, releases in October 2016 and is an RT Reviews Top Pick. She loves to connect with readers on GoodReads, Twitter, Facebook and through her website.








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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Devotional Thought : Hosea 2:19-20

I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord. Hosea 2:19-20

Becoming a Christian is like getting engaged. When we say ‘yes’ to a marriage proposal we are making a lifetime commitment. When we say ‘yes’ to God we are also making a lifetime commitment. A wedding service is the conclusion of the engagement. Whereas the wedding of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7 & 21:2) happens in heaven, suggesting that our time on earth is a type of engagement.

God is a faithful partner so we can be secure in the knowledge that God won’t break the ‘engagement’. Yet he will allow us to break it, because true love is not controlling. I've heard some describe the wedding supper of the Lamb and it sounded like an arranged marriage, since in his foreknowledge God knows who will respond to him. However I struggle with this thought.

In the library where I worked we had lots of romance novels and they were not about arranged marriages! Those books were in the non-fiction or biography section. Only love that is freely given and freely received captures our heart and imagination and this is what God does. He seeks to capture our heart with the passion and intensity of his love. He does not coerce or treat us like puppets.

We are to live our Christian lives like engaged people. We are happy to be betrothed to our beloved; we are eager to learn what pleases our Divine Lover; we want to spend time with them not for what they give us but simply for their presence; we look forward to the upcoming wedding; we are excited about spending eternity with them.

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Thursday, December 08, 2016

On Changing Your Mind

No-body has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. John 9:32

It seems people had been cured of blindness which was caused by disease but not those who were born blind. The man who was healed appears to be a "local" as it wasn't long until his parents were summoned before the Pharisees to confirm the healing. Yet even in the face of overwhelming evidence the Pharisees would not believe.

Believing the man had been healed would mean the Pharisees would have to change their minds about Jesus. And believing in Jesus would mean the Pharisees whole social structure would have to change. They could no longer oppress the poor, no longer gain approval for their shallow devotion, no longer put on a show of religiosity, no longer gain financial advantage over others by charging exorbitant prices for temple sacrifices and no longer nullify God's laws by their own traditions.

It would have been a huge reversal for the Pharisees to start acting for the common good rather than lining their own pockets with fame and fortune. The Pharisees realized that Jesus was not just about healing a few sick people. Jesus came to challenge their very life style. He came to rearrange their priorities and give them compassion for the poor. Yet they were unwilling.

May we be open not only to Jesus' healing ways but also to his challenges to our live styles, to our priorities and to the concerns of his heart.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Blog Tour : Heart of the Mountain

This blog tour is for the fantasy novel: Heart of the Mountain by Jeanette O'Hagan. This book is part of a blog tour organized by Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance


5 – 9 December 2017


is introducing


By the Light Books, (1 August 2016)

by

Jeanette O'Hagan


About the Book:
Twins Delvina and Retza’s greatest desire is to be accepted as prentices by their parents’ old crew when they stumble across a stranger. Trapped under the mountain, young Zadeki’s only thought is to escape home to his kin. Peril awaits all three youngsters. Will they pull apart or work together to save the underground realm?
YA Fantasy Adventure in the lost realm deep under the mountain.


About the Author:
Jeanette O’Hagan first started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of nine. She enjoys writing fiction, poetry, blogging and editing.

She is writing her Akrad’s Legacy Series —a Young Adult secondary world fantasy fiction with adventure, courtly intrigue and romantic elements. Her short stories and poems are published in a number of anthologies including Glimpses of Light, Another Time Another Place and Like a Girl. She has recently published her short novella, Heart of the Mountain and, in Mixed Blessings: Genrellly Speaking anthology, also a flash fiction 'Space Junk'.

Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and, more recently, a Master of Arts (writing). She is a member of several writers’ groups. She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends and pondering the meaning of life. Jeanette lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.

Sign up to Jeanette O'Hagan's Newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/bbLJKT
Website: jeanetteohagan.com/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JeanetteOHaganAuthorAndSpeaker
Twitter: @JeanetteOHagan
Instagram: @bythelightof2moons

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Saturday, December 03, 2016

Devotional Thought : Numbers 1:51

Whenever the tabernacle is to move, the Levites are to take it down, and whenever the tabernacle is to be set up, the Levites shall do it. Anyone else who approaches it is to be put to death. Numbers 1:51

No one was to help the Levites on the threat of death!

This is quite surprising. Surely as Christians we ought to help everyone. Yet here we are told that this particular task was something the Levites had to do on their own.

There are times not to help. We shouldn't help if we are only doing so to make ourselves feel good. We shouldn't help if we are making someone depend on us and they ought to be taking responsibility for themselves. We shouldn't help if this is a task God has given solely to someone else.

Paul teaches the Galatians, "Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" but then adds, "for each one should carry their own load" (Galatians 6-2, 5).

There is a time to carry another's burden when they are weighted down and unable to continue but there is also a time when we carry our own load, we manage our own lighter responsibilities.

In the same passage Paul also says, "Each one should test their own actions" (v. 4). What's our motive for helping? Are we responding to God's prompting? Are we seeking something in return? Even if we are only looking for gratitude, our desire may be to put someone in our debt. It is only God who knows our true motive. If in doubt we can always ask him to show us.

We don't always do people a favour by helping. It requires good discernment to know when to help and when to hold back.

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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Book Review : Boys who Rocked the World

I went looking for Boys who Rocked the World by Michelle McCann after I read Girls who Rocked the World which I wrote about here. This review is very similar.

There are 46 stories of boys who have made a significant impact in lots of different fields. The wide variety of locations, historical settings and backgrounds makes for a smorgasbord of experiences. Like the girls, all the boys had to overcome obstacles, whether they were prejudices, poverty, lack of education or family expectations. They all showed amazing determination and perseverance.

The authors chose boys who had seriously started to have an impact by the time they were twenty. This criteria meant a lot of significant males were left out, especially those whose achievements required years of study. Nevertheless even with this strict criteria the number of remarkable accomplishments especially in those so young is amazing.

Each story is only a few pages long so it is suitable to read to children or have them read it themselves. Some stories deal with quite horrific events such as slavery and war but these were well handled by the author, neither going into unnecessary details but not ignoring the trauma either. My favourite stories were Mozart, Louis Braille, Einstein, Galileo, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

A fascinating read.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Blog Tour : Clash of the Titles

It's the end of our CLASH year, and we've lined up some awesome holiday reading (and gift ideas!) for this month's Clash of the Titles.
Vote for your Ideal curl up in front of a fire read!


Scroll through these releases and cast your vote for your perfect idea of a next read.
It's a tough choice, but it's up to you to determine our Clash Champion!


30901142

Risking Love
Brenda S. Anderson

A play-it-safe bank employee falls for a down-on-his-luck, risk-taking widower. Can she risk loving a man whose home she may have to take away?

32574171

An Unexpected Role
Leslea Wahl

Josie's island getaway becomes the summer of her dreams as friendships grow, romance blossoms and a series of thefts surround her with excitement. But as she sets out to solve the mystery she has become entangled in, she not only realizes the importance of relying on her faith but along the way also discovers her true self.

26001111

Forest Child
Heather Day Gilbert

Historically based on the Icelandic Sagas, Forest Child brings the memorable, conflicted persona of Freydis Eiriksdottir to life and is Book Two in the bestselling Vikings of the New World Saga.


29430781 

Can't Help Falling
Kara Isaac

A funny, heartfelt romance about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England.


29885744

The Cautious Maiden
Dawn Crandall

In an effort to salvage her good name, Violet is forced into an engagement with a taciturn acquaintance; Vance Everstone. With danger stalking her and a new fiance who hides both his emotion and his past, Violet must decide who to trust and who to leave behind. 


25062497

The Thorn Healer
Pepper D. Basham

A wounded nurse battles resentment against a German prisoner as the two work together to save an Appalachian town from deception and disease in the wake of World War 1.


VOTE BELOW!

If you have trouble viewing the entire survey Click Here to load a dedicated page to the survey. 



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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Devotional Thought : Lamentations 4:20

The LORD’s anointed, our very life breath, was caught in their traps. We thought that under his shadow we would live among the nations. Lamentations 4:20

The Judahites considered Zedekiah the Lord's anointed. They deceived themselves into thinking life would continue as usual even though Zedekiah didn't keep God's covenant. There was no basis for their hope. They had lulled themselves into a false sense of security.

Through Moses, God had given the Israelites instructions on how to live a life pleasing to him. Throughout the time of the Judges, it was when they repented and sought the Lord, that he brought deliverance. Jeremiah was one of many prophets who warned the people about their rebellious ways. Yet they convinced themselves that God would never expel them from the land. Even though God clearly warned them of this happening (Leviticus 18:28, Jeremiah 10:17-18).

The Judahites chose to listen to false prophets and those who told them what they wanted to hear. They didn't consider their history or their God-given status. They didn't seek God for relationship, only for protection. Everything pointed to a coming disaster but they ignored the signs.

Likewise today some believe that doing good works will save them. But this isn't a Christian idea. "All our righteous acts are like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). Perhaps the idea comes from our feelings of unworthiness and the need to do something to make up for our deficiencies. Yet instead of seeking God's ways of being in a right relationship with him, we make up our ways. We assume God wants people to be ethical and while this is true, it isn't the basis of our relationship with God.

To be in relationship with God, we need to seek his ways and not rely on ways of our own making.

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Book Review : Girls who rocked the world

I discovered, Girls who rocked the world by Michelle McCann & Amelie Welden at my local library. I was looking for biographies I could use in my Chaplaincy role at a primary school. It's a fascinating read. There are 42 stories of girls who have made a significant impact in lots of different fields. The wide variety of locations, historical settings and backgrounds makes for a smorgasbord of experiences. All the girls had to overcome obstacles, whether they were prejudices, poverty, lack of education or family expectations. They all showed amazing determination and perseverance.

The authors chose girls who had seriously started to have an impact by the time they were twenty. This criteria meant a lot of significant females were left out, especially those whose achievements required years of study. Nevertheless even with this strict criteria the number of remarkable accomplishments especially in those so young is amazing.

Each story is only a few pages long so it is suitable to read to children or have them read it themselves. Some stories deal with quite horrific events such as war but these were well handled by the authors, neither going into unnecessary details but not ignoring the trauma either. My favourite stories were Hatshepsut, Sacagawea, Florence Nightingale, Coco Chanel, Golda Meir and Anne Frank.

An excellent read.

I've discovered that Michelle McCann has also written a book called Boys Who Rocked the World so I'll be checking that out soon.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Always having a fresh start

For a long time my husband worked in a bank and then he became a pastor. Both occupations required us to move regularly. One of the advantages of moving is the opportunity to have a fresh start at each new place – a clean slate. No-one knows the mistakes you made at the previous place, things you wished you had not said, things you wished you had done but never quite got around to.

In our relationship with God we can always enjoy the assurance of having a "fresh start". God made it possible through Jesus' death for our sins to be completely forgiven and forgotten. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more" (Jeremiah 31:34).

But how can God, who is all-knowing forget our sins? Wouldn't that mean he was no longer all-knowing? The fact is God chooses not to bring our sins to mind. He chooses not to remember. It is important for us to realise that we also have this ability - the ability to choose not to remember.

In our relationships with other Christians and with ourselves, we need to use this ability. In the daily affairs of life when sins are committed against us, often unintentionally, we need to forgive and choose not to think about the wrongs that have been done to us, choose not to bring them to mind. God's intention is for us to have a "fresh start" in our relationship with him and with each other.

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Devotional Thought : Jeremiah 52:28-30

This is the number of the people Nebuchadnezzar carried into exile: in the seventh year, 3,023 Jews; in Nebuchadnezzar’s eighteenth year, 832 people from Jerusalem; in his twenty-third year, 745 Jews taken into exile by Nebuzaradan the commander of the imperial guard. There were 4,600 people in all. Jeremiah 52:28-30

Numbers of people are tricky in the Bible because sometimes they only counted adult males. In these verses 4,600 were exiled. There was a previous exile (2 Kings 14 & 16) where 10,800 were taken.

However in the three groups that returned in 586 BC, 458 BC and 444 BC the numbers were: 50,000, 5,000 and 42,000 – totalling 97,000. Even if the earlier figures were adult males and the later figures were everybody, it is still a huge increase. God grows his people numerically even in exile.

It's also a picture of what God does spiritually. Historically whenever the church is persecuted it grows. It's in the pressure times we get serious about our faith. We are faced with the difficult questions of suffering and hardship and we want answers. Our faith is meaningless if it doesn't stand up to real life issues.

Job never discovers the reason for his suffering, though we are given a glimpse (Job 1 & 2). Job wrestles with a sense of betrayal and abandonment yet in the end he discovers a deeper relationship with God and accepts his Sovereignty.

God's view of suffering is different to ours. He seems to think, if suffering brings us to a deeper relationship with himself, it's worth it. He knows all suffering is temporal and limited. This order of things with death, mourning, crying and pain will pass away (Revelation 21:4). In the meantime we can trust him to strengthen us so we can grow during difficult times.

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

When words don't seem enough

Today I am posting at Christian Writers Downunder about those times when words don't seem enough.

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Devotional Thought : Jeremiah 41:1-2

Ishmael son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, who was of royal blood and had been one of the king’s officers, came with ten men to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah. While they were eating together there, Ishmael son of Nethaniah and the ten men who were with him got up and struck down Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, with the sword, killing the one whom the king of Babylon had appointed as governor over the land. Jeremiah 41:1-2

Ishmael has behaved in a devious manner, killing the governor that Babylon had appointed, in the hope of being king. Furthermore assassinating him while he was eating was a huge betrayal. In eastern culture eating together was a sign of friendship. Then the next day Ishmael feigns grief to lure more people to their deaths (v. 6-7).

Constable comments in his Commentary on Jeremiah. "Everything about Ishmael disgraced the name of David his forebear who had resisted every impulse to 'wade through slaughter to a throne' and had awaited God's time and his people's will … even the well-meaning may be tempted to get things done, especially in corporate projects. That is, by guile rather than openness; by pressure rather than patience and prayer; in a word, by carnal weapons rather than spiritual, and towards ends of one's own choosing."

While we don't resort to murder, we are tempted to use guile and pressure to enforce our own agenda. We might even justify our actions especially if we believe a certain course of action is God's will. Yet even when our plans line up with God's will we often need to wait for his timing and confirmation from others.

How easy it is to push our own agendas rather than waiting for God to reveal his ways.

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Book Review : The Kingdom of the Air

This book is currently being featured on the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance. Information about the author and more details about the book can be found here.

I enjoyed The Kingdom of the Air by C. T. Wells, even though it's not what I would normally choose to read. The story was engaging from the start. Josef Schafer is a South African born, German pilot who is shot down over England during World War 2. He is returned safely to Germany by an English Special Operations agent but is blackmailed into relaying information to some French resistance operatives. As we follow Josef's interactions with Giselle, her brother and their friend, we see him struggling with issues of loyalty, betrayal and the nature of truth.

I was glad that I'd seen the TV series, Foyle's War as this book is set in the same time period although most of the action happens in France, rather than England. However there are similar ethical dilemmas, also Christopher Foyle's son was a pilot which provide me with some background to the context of the book.

I found the book to be engrossing. The author managed to create a good deal of tension and suspense and there was a sense of realism to the story. Even the 'good guys' didn't always behave with integrity. The story is complete in itself but does lend itself to a sequel.

Overall a great read.

Thanks to Rhiza Press for providing a free book for review.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Blog Tour : The Kingdom of the Air

This blog tour is for the novel: The Kingdom of the Air by C.T. Wells. This book is part of a blog tour organized by Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance

My book review is here.


7 – 11 November 2016


is introducing


Rhiza Press, 1 April 2016

by C. T. Wells


About the Book:
Winner of the CALEB Unpublished Fiction 2014
Winner of the Clive Cussler Adventure Writer's Competition

1940. The Battle of Britain has begun.

A young Messerschmitt pilot is shot down over Dartmoor. He tries to evade a manhunt, knowing that if he is captured by the British, his war will be over. But when Josef Schafer falls into the hands of a sinister agent of the Special Operations Executive, his troubles have only begun. He is returned to occupied France having made an impossible deal with the British.

As the air war escalates, Josef is in danger in the sky and on the ground. His allegiances are tested as he is torn between loyalty to his Luftwaffe comrades and a French woman whom he is compelled to serve.

The stakes are high. Whoever controls the sky above the English Channel will decide the fate of nations.


About the Author:
Peter C.T. Wells grew up in coastal Victoria, Australia. He comes from a creative family. Playing in the bush and on the beach was a fertile place for an imagination to develop. He has always been drawn to stories that explore character in the extremes of human experience. He attended The Geelong College and The University of Melbourne. He has an Arts degree and a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership. He taught English and Outdoor Education for many years before becoming a school leader in Australia and then Head of School in an international school in Indonesia.

He was seriously injured in a taxi accident in Jakarta whilst en route to America to receive an award for The Kingdom of the Air. Now almost fully recovered he sees the experience as his own opportunity to explore character in the extremes of human experience!

Authors who have influenced Wells include: William Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, Cormac McCarthy, Raymond Chandler, Ian Fleming, Jack Higgins, Alistair McLean, Conn Iggulden, and Lee Child.

Wells now lives in country Victoria with his wife and three sons.

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Saturday, November 05, 2016

Devotional Thought : Jeremiah 44:18

But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine. Jeremiah 44:18

King Josiah had been a good king who destroyed a lot of idols and encouraged Yahweh worship. However Josiah was killed by the Egyptians when he was relatively young. From then on there had been war, invasions, occupations and assassinations. People concluded that returning to Yahweh in Josiah's day had been a backward step for Judah.

Looking at these basic historical facts we may conclude the same. Yet when we look more deeply into the situation we realised that the people only returned to God 'in pretense' (Jeremiah 3:10). They worshipped God as a ritual as if he was just like one of the idols they had previously worshipped. They hadn't recognised his deeds in rescuing them from Egypt or giving them their own land. They hadn't really sought to understand his ways or be in covenant relationship with him. They ignored all their history and wanted to worship the god who would most meet their needs.

How easy it is for us to do the same. We attend church and go through the routines, maybe we even do charitable work. But our real motive is to gain favour with God so that he protects us from tragedies and blesses us according to our agenda. How prepared are we to commit to being in a long-term relationship with God, when there is no guarantee of a comfortable life?

If God wanted people who would perform for him, he would have created robots or puppets. Worshipping God out of ritual or duty is futile. What God desires is people who willingly choose to be in relationship with him.

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Thursday, November 03, 2016

Post-Conference Recovery

The Omega Writers Conference last weekend went very well. I learnt some very helpful information and met some great people. However being on the organizing committee meant I was also very busy and I'm now trying to take some time to relax.

My book 10 Things I Hate About God was a finalist, but didn't win the CALEB Award. Nevertheless I have a publisher interested in the book and I hope to connect with them soon.

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Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Abraham, a nobody who believed anyway

I love the way the Message Bible puts the following verses. "We call Abraham 'father' not because he got God's attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. … When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn't do but on what God said he would do" Romans 4:13 & 18.

In the world there are all sorts of programs design so people can do well at a job interview and learn how to sell themselves to a future employer. Employers pick people based on their skill, intelligence and how well they present themselves. But God doesn't operate under the world's system. He delights to pick nobodies and make them into his very own people. "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God" 1 Peter 2:9.

We know that Abraham had moments of doubt and moments of indiscretion in his life but in the end it was said of him, 'he believed anyway'. "He faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about one hundred years old – and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise" Romans 4:19-20.

May it be also be said of us that 'we believed anyway' when circumstances appear hopeless; when doubt threatens to overtake us; and when temptations come rolling in.

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Omega Writers Conference

This weekend I'm attending the Omega Writers Conference in Sydney. I've been highly involved in the organization of this conference so it's exciting that it's finally happening.

On the Saturday night as part of the Conference the CALEB Awards are being announced. My book, 10 Things I Hate About God has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Unpublished Manuscript Section so I'm feeling a bit nervous about that. Always scary putting your work out in the public arena.

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Suicide – the embarrassing problem

Australia has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, yet I've rarely been asked to support a Christian ministry, which directly addresses this problem. It's a problem, which doesn’t get much air space. Perhaps the problem is an embarrassment. Australia is a blessed country. It has a high standard of living with good working conditions and the freedom to express opinions. Yet there are people, who are completely overwhelmed with distress. Prosperity hasn't brought the peace or contentment you'd expect. It's a need close to my heart. I know what it's like to feel overwhelmed by daily life.

Fortunately for me, I found God, or rather God found me, and from a spiritual point of view it's a great opportunity to present the gospel. Yet there seems to be a reluctance to get involved in the problem or even discuss it.

Jesus' circle of influence was with the people in his immediate vicinity. He didn't hide from the difficulties close at hand. Likewise, while it's good for us to be concerned for those in difficult circumstances overseas, it shouldn't be to the exclusion of pressing problems closer to home.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Blog Tour : Clash of the Titles


We've some great books for this month's
Clash of the Titles!


Vote for your Fave!

Scroll through these releases and cast your vote for your fave.
It's a tough choice, but it's up to you to determine our Clash Champion!

https://www.amazon.com/Loves-Faithful-Promise-Courage-Dream/dp/0764217267/ref=sr_1_1


Love's Faithful Promise  by Susan Anne Mason
Widower Dr. Matthew Clayborne is devoted to two things: his work with wounded soldiers and his four-year-old daughter, Phoebe. When Deirdre O’Leary, a feisty New Yorker, arrives requesting he use his skills to help her stricken mother, he has no idea how his life is about to change.
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https://www.amazon.com/Feta-Freeways-Susan-M-Baganz/dp/1537366041/ref=sr_1_1



Feta and Freeways by Susan M. Baganz


Nikolos Action is the lead singer of the band and doesn't realize love is right in front of him until their manager, Tia, is almost killed trying to save his life. After years of ignoring her is it too late to earn her trust...and her love?
~~~~~~ 

https://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Alternative-Kelli-Hughett-ebook/dp/B01LGF1IYE/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1


Dangerous Alternative by Kelli Hughett


Hollywood grip, Levi Boulter unknowingly puts himself in the crosshairs of a murder plot. Now, he'll do anything to keep the woman he loves safe, even if it means losing her forever.
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https://www.amazon.com/Inconceived-Spinstered-Book-Sharyn-Kopf-ebook/dp/B01LZ4ON59/ref=sr_1_2


Inconceived by Sharyn Kopf

Realizing you’re a spinster is one thing; understanding what that means and how to handle it is another. And, it would seem, Jolene, Uli and Catie still have a ways to go before they truly comprehend what God is trying to show them not only in their desire to marry but in their longing to have children of their own.
~~~~~~ 

https://www.amazon.com/Child-Dust-Romance-Contemporary-Christian-ebook/dp/B01LVW167W/ref=sr_1_1


Child of Dust by Shoba Sadler

After the sudden death of her parents, Vietnamese socialite Cao Kim Lye steps out of a world of crystal and chandelier to enter the dust and chaos of working-class Hanoi when she goes to live with her American chauffeur and his adoptive family at a shop cum living quarters.

VOTE HERE!

If you have trouble viewing the entire survey, CLICK HERE to load a dedicated page to the survey.

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Devotional Thought : Jeremiah 38:27

All the officials did come to Jeremiah and question him, and he told them everything the king had ordered him to say. So they said no more to him, for no one had heard his conversation with the king. Jeremiah 38:27

The information Jeremiah gave the officials was a lie (v. 26). He kept the king's real conversation a secret. Jeremiah wasn't obliged to answer the officials' questions just because he was asked. Likewise, we shouldn't feel obligated to answer inflammatory questions.

God calls us to be people of integrity and keep our word. He tells us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Yet there are times when the most loving thing to do is to keep information from people who don't need to know.

My mother has dementia and often asks questions but she doesn't understand the answers or becomes unnecessarily upset. The staff at the nursing home where she lives regularly keep information from her as an alternative to giving her sedatives. I have reluctantly learnt to do the same.

It was also a problem that Rahab had when the Israelites spies came to Jericho (Joshua 2:4-6). Rahab took a huge risk and told the king's messengers that they had left the city at dusk. Guards were sent on a pointless pursuit. However Rahab's decision to conceal their hiding place was richly rewarded by God.

Jesus told mourners that Jairus' daughter was asleep, not dead (8:52). After Jesus healed her, he ordered her parents not to tell anyone what had happened (v. 56). Jesus was effectively asking them to perpetuate the story that she slept.

Confidentiality is important. People need to be able to trust us to keep their legitimate confidences but, of course, not unlawful secrets. Sometimes, we need God's discernment to know the difference.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Book Review : The Very Cranky Bear

My granddaughter asked me to read, The very cranky bear by Nick Bland on a recent visit. I was surprised that this simple story could be so insightful.

Zebra has a plan to cheer up the Cranky Bear by giving him strips. Moose thought he needed antlers and Lion thought he needed a golden mane. Each of them thought the bear needed what they had. It was the sheep who actually listened and helped him get what he really wanted.

It was a well-written story with minimal words, yet the meaning is clear. The pictures are strong and distinct. They add great visuals to the story.

The story reminds me that it's easy to be like Zebra, Moose and Lion who make assumptions about what others want and the value of listening.

A great lesson in empathy.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

No Plan B

I'm challenged by people like Elisha. When Elijah called him, he killed his oxen and burnt the ploughing equipment (1 Kings 19:21). He literally burnt his bridges. He couldn't go back to farming. He had no Plan B. He wasn't keeping something to go back to if following God became difficult or unpleasant.

Likewise, in Jesus' ministry there came a point when many stopped following him because his teaching was "too hard." "'You do not want to leave too, do you?' Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God'" (John 6:67-68).

Peter recognised God was his only option. Despite knowing all the difficulties of following Jesus, despite all the hard teaching, despite all the uncertainties, Jesus was worth following. He had "the words of eternal life." The long-term reward was worth the short-term difficulties. Peter went on to say, "We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God" (v. 69). It didn't matter that Peter didn't always understand what Jesus was saying or doing, because he understood who Jesus was.

In the same way, I need to hold onto the long-term view. I need to establish in my mind and heart that I will put away my Plan B's, trust God and rely on his grace, no matter what.

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Devotional Thought : Jeremiah 32:8

Then, just as the Lord had said, my cousin Hanamel came to me in the courtyard of the guard and said, 'Buy my field at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. Since it is your right to redeem it and possess it, buy it for yourself.' I knew that this was the word of the Lord. Jeremiah 32:8

Jeremiah was imprisoned when Hanamel offers him this land. It was a completely selfish and deceitful act on Hanamel's part. The town of Anathoth was already in Babylonians hands and Jeremiah would not be able to possess it. The land was completely worthless. Perhaps Hanamel thought Jeremiah wouldn't know.

As an act of obedience Jeremiah buys it but he prays to God with an implied question: "And though the city will be given into the hands of the Babylonians, you, Sovereign Lord, say to me, 'Buy the field with silver and have the transaction witnessed.'" (v. 25).

God's replies (v. 36-45) with a declaration of his Sovereignty and amazing promises of restoration. "Once more fields will be bought in this land of which you say, 'It is a desolate waste, without people or animals, for it has been given into the hands of the Babylonians.' Fields will be bought for silver, and deeds will be signed, sealed and witnessed in the territory of Benjamin … because I will restore their fortunes, declares the LORD." (v. 43-45).

Like Jeremiah God calls us to live by faith which often requires us to act as if the future is already here. We are to pray, "Your kingdom come" (Luke 11:2) and look for signs of his kingdom as it works like yeast silently but progressively making a difference (Luke 13:20). Whilst remembering his promise that he will never stop doing good to us (v. 45).

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Book Review : The Grass Castle

The Grass Castle by Karen Viggers is an enjoyable story set in an Australian context that I'm very familiar with. I liked reading about places that I know well. The book is quite descriptive in places which did slow the pace of the story and I did wonder whether this could have been handled better. However I found the story engaging so persisted through these passages.

Abby is a university student who meets Cameron, an ambitious journalist, through her research work on kangaroos. Daphne is an elderly widow trying not to be a drain on her family. I liked the unlikely romance between Abby and Cameron and the friendship between Abby and Daphne. These characters and their relationships were relatable and insightful. Both Abby and Daphne were burdened by issues from their past which they are able to come to a better place of understanding and acceptance through the book.

A kangaroo cull is a dramatic part of the story. This was a difficult but well-handled part of the story. Both sides of the controversy were shown and explored. Aboriginal land issues were also touched upon but not investigated to any large extent. It added to the backdrop without being a distraction.

Overall a thoughtful and interesting story.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Waiting on God

Generally speaking we are not good at waiting. Waiting tells us that we're not independent, we cannot control everything or everybody, and we are not self-reliance. It is a blow to our pride to have to wait and be dependent on something or someone else.

Perhaps this is why God often keeps us waiting, to teach us our limitations and our need of him. We think nothing is happening or that we could be doing something more productive instead of waiting. God sees it quite differently. He sees that we are strengthened. "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31 KJV). If we are waiting on the Lord, our waiting isn't wasted because we are growing stronger. The Hebrew word for "wait" in this passage can also refer to the process of making rope. Making rope is a process of adding strands and twisting them together—the more strands the stronger the rope. The more we learn the 'process' of waiting on God by binding ourselves to his purposes and his timetable the stronger our faith.

Our perspective here on earth is limited, so we must trust our heavenly Father for those things for which we have no answers. He knows what he is doing, and sometimes we just have to wait. Wait to see what God will do in our circumstances. Wait to hear what God will say to us. Wait to understand the meaning behind it all, and sometimes we may still be waiting when we depart this life.

If I wait for a bus, I wait expectantly, looking for the bus to come, believing it will come, even though it may not come when I think it ought to. I will wait as long as I believe the bus is coming. Likewise as I wait upon the Lord, I wait expectantly, eagerly looking for God. His intervention may not happen when or how I'd like, but I know that God will indeed come and make a difference in my situation.

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Saturday, October 08, 2016

Devotional Thought : Jeremiah 29:5

Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Jeremiah 29:5

God told the exiles to makes themselves 'at home' in Babylon. This is the norm for God's people – build houses, plant gardens. It's a picture of domesticity. It's also a long term picture, eating what our gardens produce takes time. God's people would be in Babylon for some time learning the lessons of living in a land not their own. In the meantime they are to find contentment in the daily routines of life.

Sometimes we crave activity, action and adventure. While there are times for this, for the most part life is made up of the little pleasures that family and friends bring. We can focus too much on the exciting events in our lives and forget the regular small occurrences – a sunny day, a home cooked meal, a phone call from a friend.

Paul told the Thessalonians, "to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).

By committing to being attentive to the little pleasures in life we can a lead a quiet, contented life which with impact others. When others are rushing around creating a life of excitement, wealth or prominence, our peaceful lifestyle will be a challenging contrast. People will see that we aren't dependent on their good will or on advantageous circumstances to have a happy life.

Today as we live in 'our Babylons', we know this world isn't our real home. However we can enjoy a life of domesticity, while living with the hope of our future heavenly home.

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Thursday, October 06, 2016

Book Review : Beyond the Fight

This book is currently being featured on the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance. Information about the author and more details about the book can be found here.

Beyond the Fight by Carol Preston is set in Australia during World War I and is a fascinating look into lives of people during a difficult time in Australia's history. Against this backdrop is a budding romance between Mabel the daughter of a prosperous landowner and Percy who was also brought up a farm, but by comparison it's a small, struggling concern. Mabel and Percy are keen to make their own decisions about their futures, decisions which are not always well received. Secrets from the past emerge which also impact the young couple.

The story brings out the prejudices and the discrimination that were prevalent at the time over a number of issues. There was the internment of German born Australians and the debate over conscription. There was the naïve and enthusiasm of some young men wanting to fight while others were against enlistment. Closer to home there were the class distinctions which made life difficult for Mable and Percy. As the war continued there was the tragic loss of life and the life-time damage to many.

This is a realistic and well-written story, using historic events to weave an enjoyable story. It portrays the hardships that many experienced, while the romance bring hope and joy during a distressing time.

Overall a great read.

Thanks to Rhiza Press for providing a free book for review.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Blog Tour : Beyond the Fight

This blog tour is for the novel: Beyond the Fight by Carol Preston. This book is part of a blog tour organized by Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance

My book review can be found here.


3 – 7 October


is introducing


Rhiza Press,
1 April 2016

by

Carol Preston


About the Book:
Percy Smith has always wondered why he didn’t identify with his father, but he never expected the revelation about his past that comes at the beginning of the First World War. In shock and pain he finds himself in a place far from home, where he meets Mabel Smart, a young woman who is also struggling to find her own identity in her family.

Both Percy and Mabel must confront the issues raised by the war; internment of German born Australians, the push for conscription, the rush of young men to fight on the battlefields of Europe, and divisions in the Australian population over enlistment. .

Ultimately Percy and Mabel’s search will be about finding a way to be at peace with their families


About the Author:
Carol lives with her husband, Neil, in Wollongong, New South Wales. After their two children, Tammy and Adam, started school, Carol returned to study and completed a PhD at Wollongong University in 1986.

She is now a Psychologist in private practice. Carol enjoys gardening, bushwalking, spending time with her family and researching her family history. Her novels are based on her Australian ancestory. Carol's books in her Turning the Tide series published by Even Before Publishing include Mary's Guardian, Charlotte's Angel, Tangled Secrets and Truly Free.

Carol is also the author of Suzannah's Gold and Rebecca's Dream. Her first book with Rhiza Press is Next of Kin.

For more information about Carol's books and her other interests she can be contacted on her website: www.carolpreston.com.au.

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