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 My book, 10 Things I Hate About God has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Unpublished Manuscript Section so I'm feeling a bit nervous about that.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!

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.


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


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:

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Saturday, October 01, 2016

Devotional Thought : Jeremiah 24:5-7

This is what the Lord the God of Israel, says: 'Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.' Jeremiah 24:5-7

God calls the people who are about to go into exile the 'good figs' (v. 8). The 'bad figs' are the leaders who will remain in the land and experience destruction. God separates his people into good and bad figs and allows his good figs the refining trial of exile.

Humanly speaking we would expect the 'good figs' to remain in the land and the 'bad figs' to be exiled since the exile was a punishment. Yet God's punishments are designed to purify us. His purpose in sending them into exile was to give them a heart to know him so that they would return to him with all their heart. God had a good plan.

God allows difficulties, upheavals and trials to encourage us to seek him more earnestly. Often it is the hard times that we get serious about our faith and seek God for answers. Sometimes he has to strip away earthly securities so all we have is God, then we discover he is enough.

God's ways are good. He will do whatever it takes to get us to a place where we have a close relationship with him.

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