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!


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?


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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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