Tuesday, June 30, 2009

When the good news gets even better by Neb Hayden

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


When the Good News Gets Even Better: Rediscovering the Gospels through First-Century Jewish Eyes

David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Neb Hayden is director of International Student Development at The King’s College in New York City. A former quarterback for “Bear Bryant” at Alabama, Neb has been involved his adult life with the fellowship in Washington, D.C., which works behind the scenes to nurture and encourage the leadership in over 180 nations. The group also works behind the scenes of the National Prayer Breakfast. Neb speaks and teaches extensively at seminars, conferences, and retreats. He and his wife, Susan, live in New York City and are the parents of three grown sons and two daughters-in-law.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $16.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434767000
ISBN-13: 978-1434767004

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Preface


How is it possible to make the good news of the gospel better? How can truth be enhanced? How can Jesus Christ be improved upon? Impossible! Then, why the title, When the Good News, Gets Even Better? The gospel gets even better only when it’s more clearly understood.


When I was a kid growing up in North Carolina I fantasized about being a “fly on the wall or some kind of invisible presence that could magically be transported back in time and be there the great moments in history. I wanted to be at the Alamo with Jim, Davy, Sam and the boys. I wondered what it would be like to have been on the Mayflower or to be with the first settlers at Jamestown. I wanted to experience the thoughts and emotions of these people. I wanted to know how it felt to walk in their shoes.


In the mid 1980’s my wife, Susan and I were invited to go on a two-week study seminar to Israel. Dr. Jim Martin taught us as we move from site to site from Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness through the resurrection of Jesus. When we gathered together our first day, Jim said, “I am going to teach you to think like an ancient Jew. You will never truly understand the scriptures as long as you think like a Gentile.” That thought haunted me for several years and two more trips to Israel with Jim.


Meanwhile, my close friend, Bob Warren, a former professional basketball player and outstanding Bible teacher in Kentucky had a similar experience in Israel with a Messianic Jew named Arnold Fruchtenbaum. Bob had been studying the gospels from a Hebrew perspective and he said that the impact it was having on his understanding was astounding. This challenged me to began reading everything I could find concerning Jewish history and culture. I was hooked, and began to live out my childhood fantasy. Through First Century Hebrew eyes and ears, I began to gain a perspective that I had never seen before. I began to see what a Jew would have seen and hear what a Jew would have heard as he witnessed the works of and heard the words of Jesus. I had studies and taught the Gospels my whole life and yet, a new perspective began to wash over me in a fresh, unvarnished way. Gradually I developed a study course that I called The Hidden Gospels. I was eventually encouraged to write this study book that could be approached by an individual or small group.


I wrote When the Good News Get Even Better from the following perspectives:


~ By Studying Through First Century Jewish Eyes: The Bible is a Jewish book, written to Jews about a Jewish Messsiah who came to redeem the Jews first, then the Gentiles (Rom 1:16). If you were a Jew living in the Middle East in first century, how would you have heard what Jesus said? How would you have seen the things He did? What kind of culture would you have lived in? How would your childhood training have affected what you saw and heard? The Good news gets even better when we read the gospels as they were communicated and in the way they were meant to be seen.


~ By Studying the Gospel Accounts Autobiographically: By stepping in the sandals of the people in these biographical accounts. They are relational documents; encounters with people who are basically just like you and me. Become the Samaritan woman who had lost hope as Jesus speaks with her. Be the rich, lonely, alienated little tax collector named Zachaeus when Jesus asks to go home to dinner with him. Feel the apprehension of the woman with the hemorrhage as she pushed through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe. We can feel what these people felt and understand them if we understand the circumstances of their Hebrew lives. Then what Jesus says and does comes alive to us.


~ By Seeing Jesus’ Life and Teaching Through the Window of Grace: Most of us were taught a law-based perspective and therefore read the scriptures like a rulebook of impossible demands that we cannot meet. Should, ought to, and must have been a constant companion of most believers. Try harder, do more, and re-dedicate have kept us spiritually fatigued and guilt-ridden. Jesus offers intimacy that transforms duty into desire and obligation into opportunity. Seeing the gospels through the eyes of grace changes everything.


~ Studying Each Gospel Event as it Actually Happened (Chronologically): I used A.T. Robertson’s A Harmony of the Gospels as a guideline. To see the events as they occurred brings a new flavor and excitement to the greatest story ever told.


Studying the gospels in this manner is the most life-changing thing I have ever done. Whether you do this study in a small group or individually, I guarantee that you will never again read the gospels the same as before. They are the foundation of our faith because our faith is built on a Person. He was a Jew, living in a Jewish world, and communicating with Jewish people. This study offers you the opportunity to walk the dusty roads with Him, to be there as a participant rather than simply an observer. These biographies of Jesus are your stories too. Every move Jesus made and every word He spoke has direct implications for your life in the twenty-first century.


My hope is that this study will not simply be new information to ponder, but that as re-discover the gospels through Hebrew eyes, you will come to more deeply know, and enjoy the One who wrote The

Gospels. This is when The Good News Gets Even Better.


Getting the Most Out of This Study


Aerial view: We will obviously not be able to deal with every event in the Gospels, but the connection between the events as the happens is critical to understand. We will take an aerial view or brief summary of the passage before moving on.


Through Hebrew Eyes: Understanding Jewish culture and history is critical for a fuller appreciation of the emotions, issues at stake, and reactions of people in the gospels. When you see the Star of David we will try to help you think as a Jew would have thought in the at day based on his background, teaching, history, and culture.


Insight into the Passage: The light bulb indicates my brief commentary on the passage. These are insights I have gleaned over in over 34 years of ministry. They have made a deep impact in my own life and have been the result of my own studies as well as the contribution of many wonderful people along the way.


Snapshot: Context is very important in studying the scriptures. When you see the camera icon, I will give a brief picture of the current atmosphere, the circumstances and issues leading to the passage or event we are about to study. This will help you gain a feel for the atmosphere in which everything is taking place.


Crossroads: This may be a statement or question concerning direction: So what? Where do we go from here? What difference can this make for me right now?


Part I. Beginnings

God’s unique and abiding love for the Hebrew people is unparalleled in human history. Throughout the Old Testament, Israel is called the “bride of God.” These nomadic wanderers suffered greatly at the hands of their enemies, and for most of their existence have live under the continual dominance of other nations. Freedom and autonomy is the brass ring they have longed to grasp. They, like each of us have loved God, and yet have disobeyed Him, often trusting in their own abilities rather than in His faithfulness and sovereignty. God’s beloved bide sought other lovers, yet He continues, even to this day, to pursue them with His unfailing love.


But, God had been strangely silent during the four hundred years from the end of the writing of the Old Testament until the beginning of the New Testament. The flow of communication to His people through the Prophets during this period came to a halt, but the Hebrew people continued to anxiously await the coming of “the Prophet” spoken of by Moses (Deuteronomy 18:18-19) and more specifically by Isaiah, the Psalmist, Daniel and others.


As we begin this fascinating adventure in the gospels, Rome has been in control of Israel since 63 B.C. Bitter hatred exists between the Jews and her captors. In the minds of many, God appears to have abandoned His people. Many Jews quietly echo the sentiment of Job, who, amidst great agony of body and soul, cries out to God in his pain. Symbolically shaking his fist to the heavens, he in essence thunders, “God you know nothing of suffering; you have never experienced the lost of sons as I have. You have never experience shame and rejection, being abandoned by friends. You sit in your heaven surrounded by your holy hosts, but you have no notion of what it is like on this earth. Is there anyone in this vast universe who can identify with my pain? Is there anyone who knows what it’s like to be a man?”


And so, in the fullness of time, God responds to the cries of Job and all of His people. At the right time, He wraps himself in human skin and pitches His tent in the midst of humanity and lives among those He created, identifying with every emotion and every hurt that a human being can know. Never again would a man or woman be able to say, “God, you don’t understand what it’s like to be me.”

-Day 1

Luke Explains His Method of Research


READ: Luke. 1:1-4


During the early 60’s A.D., some thirty years after the crucifixion, a passionate follower of Jesus Christ and traveling companion of the apostle Paul, took pen in hand and wrote a biography about the Savior. Though others already had written accounts by that time (1:2), Luke apparently wanted to make certain that an orderly and historically accurate account was rendered. He was a medical doctor, easily identifiable because he always wore a golf hat. (Just kidding) As a physician, he places great emphasis on the healing ministry of Jesus. Luke was also a meticulous historian who took great pains to record events as they happened. He was the only gospel writer who was not a Jew. He writes to fellow Gentiles, specifically Greeks, who were consumed with the concept of the ideal man. Rather than attack this humanistic flow of thinking, Luke gives great attention to the person of Jesus, as if to say, “you want to hear about a real man… well listen up!” He wants his Gentile readers to see that Jesus’ great message of truth and liberation is now wide open to Gentiles and Jews alike. Luke was not part of the original twelve, but he had interviewed many eyewitnesses who walked with Jesus. Like the no-nonsense Sergeant Friday in the Dragnet Series of the 60’s, Luke wants, “Just the facts, ma’am… just the facts!” He sees the need to record the events of Jesus life in chronological order. (The other accounts record events in keeping with a particular theme that they wanted to underline to specific groups of people.) Luke’s theme is simply, Jesus, the Son of Man.


Luke comes right out of the shoot in verses 1-2 by assuring his readers that he wants to set the record straight through the eyes of those who had actually been there and seen it all happen. He writes specifically to a man named Theophilus, also a Gentile, who was probably a Roman official and a new believer. Based on his meticulous research, Luke wants to reassure Theophilus, and us, that the exact truth is available to all honest seekers who have ears to hear.


THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW: Matthew was a converted customs agent (Mt.. 9:9) and one of the original twelve apostles. He writes a detailed account of Jesus life. Lies were being spread by Jesus’ enemies and many sought personal gain from this new “movement.” Matthew shows that the events of Jesus’ life were powerfully foretold by the Prophets hundreds of years prior to His coming. Writing to Greek speaking Jews, Matthew shows them that Jesus is the fulfillment of their dreams and their history. Sixty-two times he quotes the Old Testament arguing that Jesus is the completion to their greatest longings. Matthew’s theme is Jesus, The King of the Jews.


THE GOSPEL OF MARK: Mark was also called John Mark in Acts 12:12. Peter refers to him as his “son in the faith” (1 Pet. 5:13). Mark would later accompany Paul and Barnabas on Paul’s first missionary journey. He deserted the team and retuned home (Acts 13:13), but became helpful to Paul in later years. Though he was not among the original apostles, Mark gained much personal insight and information from Peter, with whom he shared a special closeness. Mark writes to Romans with an unflinching sense of immediacy. He wants his readers to get off the beach and dive head first into the waters of life. Mark is an action guy with a great sense of aliveness and enthusiasm. He uses the word “immediately” (Mk.. 1:12) at least forty times in his account, stressing the urgency Jesus felt, knowing that this would appeal to Roman thinking. Probably written in the late 50’s or early 60’s AD, Mark’s Theme is Jesus the Messiah, The Servant of Jehovah.


THE GOSPEL OF JOHN: John is thought to have written his gospel while in exile on the Isle of Patmos sometime around 90 A.D. He writes much concerning the deity of Jesus. Unlike the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), John writes more concerning the things Jesus said (His discourses) rather than what he did (His miracles). As the eldest of the four writers, John probably read the other accounts many times and his maturity and the wisdom of his years may have made him more intent on communicating the heart of Jesus to his readers than His works. Ninety percent of the content in John’s gospel is not found in the parallel accounts. John’s gospel is the only book in the Bible written primarily for the non-believer. John’s theme is Jesus, The Son of God.


John Pictures Jesus as the “Word”


READ: John 1:1-18


John wants his readers to know that Jesus (Yeshua) is unlike anyone who ever set foot on the planet. The Word existed from the beginning of time. In fact, the Word was another way of referring to God. The Word is, therefore, a Person. The Word is not simply information about Jesus, the Word is Jesus. Every created thing finds it’s origin in the Person, Jesus. Within this living, breathing personal Word is the sum total of everything concerning life. This Word even has the ability to scatter darkness and illuminate everything and everyone He touches.


In order to prepare the world for His coming, God sent a Jew named John (Yohnanan) to ready the hearts of people for this new Light that was to follow. This Living Word became flesh and lived among those to whom He came to give life. He came to His own people, the Jews. Most of them rejected Him, but many Gentiles accepted His free gift of life and became Sons of God.


Notice that “Word” is capitalized, indicating a proper name. The Greek rendering is “logos,” a person possessing intellect, emotion, and will. To a Jew, it was a way of referring to God. Therefore, John is saying that God came to earth as the Living Word. Everything the ancient rabbis taught about the Word was fulfilled in this Person, Jesus Christ.


Write a brief definition of the “Gospel” as it is typically used today. (“We left our former church because the minister didn’t preach the gospel.”)


If the Word is a Person, and not simply doctrinal information, can we not properly conclude that the “gospel” is also a Person? Most believers speak of the “gospel” as if it is certain theological principles and doctrinal facts that must be included if we are to be true to the scriptures. Consider the definition you just wrote. Have you left anything out? Have you added something that need not be there? Are you positive? Is it compatible with biblical truth? What about sincere, godly men and women who would render a somewhat different definition than yours? You can see the problem. If the gospel were basically doctrinal information about Jesus (His birth, His life, His teachings, His miracles, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, and His return, etc.), all of this and more would have to be specifically stated every time someone spoke or taught. If anything is left out, the gospel will not have been preached according to someone’s or some denomination’s definition. What would your former Pastor have had to actually say each Sunday for you to feel he had “preached the gospel?” We will never all agree on every point, but we can agree that the gospel is this unique, God/man, Jesus Christ, fully and completely, and believe if He is lifted up as the centerpiece, the whole world will feel welcome to gather around Him, explore His free gift of life, and become His companion.


Genealogies Listed by Matthew (1:1-17) and Luke (3:12-38)


READ: Matthew1:1-17 and Luke 3:12-38 (What would possess Luke and Matthew to list all of these unpronounceable names?)


READ: Luke 1:5-25


Matthew lists Joseph’s family line to make a strategic point that Joseph was not Jesus’ father. Joseph did not beget Jesus, but was simply the husband of the woman who was his mother. Luke shows in his gospel that Jesus is a descendent of the House of David and could therefore be King.)


The Jews have always stressed the importance of understanding their uniqueness, of knowing where and from whom they have come. Roots have critical importance, for Israel’s faith was deeply imbedded in their history and culture. Knowledge of their Hebrew beginnings is central to Biblical thought. To a Jewish person in the time of Jesus, reading the Holy Scriptures was like reading a family album. The destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. was so traumatic, because in addition to the loss of 1.1 million lives, all of the genealogical records stored there were destroyed by fire, and that precious information was lost forever.


Important to know here, is that Matthew and Luke are showing, in different ways, that Jesus was the stepson of Joseph, not a biological son. They both seem to be saying to their readers: Whatever else you may be thinking, let’s agree on this as a beginning thesis: Jesus is fully qualified to be the Messiah. He fits every standard proclaimed by God through the voice of the Prophets. He is the legitimate candidate.

Monday, June 29, 2009

How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph by Linda Massey Weddle

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph

David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Linda Massey Weddle is a children’s author and regular contributor to publications including Women’s Day and Christian Parenting Today. She develops Bible-based curriculum for young people and has been involved in children’s and youth ministry for the past twenty years. She has two grown children and six grandchildren and resides in suburban Chicago.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $16.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434765318
ISBN-13: 978-1434765314

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


I n t r o d u c t i o n

A Journey Worth Planning


For parents like you…in churches like yours…this book is practical guide for a child’s spiritual

development—a journey in which parents and churches work together to raise kids who know, love, and serve the Lord.


Much of the vision and purpose for such a journey is discussed in my friend Larry Fowler’s book, Raising a Modern-Day Joseph. The book you hold in your hands—How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph—focuses more on the practical side of that. It gives parents a workable plan for putting this vision and purpose to work in their everyday family life.


No Guarantees?


Like Larry’s book, this one is needed because we’re in the midst of a crisis. The statistics stagger us as we read about, hear about, and see young people walking away from their faith.


We surprised that this could be happening, since after all…

• our churches provide nurseries, Sunday school, vacation Bible School, Awana, youth ministries, and every other kind of kid or youth program imaginable.

• our children’s ministry curriculum is more entertaining, colorful, and professional looking than ever before.

• the market is flooded with “Christian” action figures, mugs, pencils, wallpaper, wallets, posters, linens, T-shirts, and toys, many decorated with clever “Christian” sayings.

• radio stations play Christian music twenty-four hours a day, and television channels broadcast a never-ending selection of messages from both local churches and polished, smooth-talking televangelists.


And here’s an even tougher dilemma: Why does a kid from one home walk away from the Lord while a kid in another home stays true to Him—yet the families in both homes have attended the same church, Sunday school, vacation Bible school, Awana clubs, etc.?


What happened? What’s the difference?


Before going further, I need to say this:

No plan,

no curriculum,

no humanly written book,

no pastor,

no teacher,

no parent…

can absolutely guarantee that a young person will not walk away from what they’ve been taught.


God works with His people individually, and each individual must make the choice to trust Christ as Savior. Each one chooses to walk with the Lord or to walk away from Him. After all, even with the first two kids we read about in the Bible, one had a criminal record.


The absence of such a guarantee is due to sin.


Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised,

being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

(Galatians 3:22)


So yes, unfortunately, children don’t come with guarantees.


But God’s Word does come with a guarantee: If we trust the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior,

believing that He died and rose again, we’re promised…

• the forgiveness of sin (bridging the separation between imperfect people and a perfect

God).

• eternal life.

• a future in an unimaginably perfect heaven.


That’s some guarantee!


No, we as parents don’t have guarantees, but we do know that children who grow up in strong, Christ-centered homes—where God’s Word is both taught and lived—are more likely to live godly lives as adults.


But lets take a glimpse at what’s typically going on in many families.


A Church and Pastor Problem?


I grew up as a preacher’s kid, and as an adult became a preacher’s wife—I know firsthand how often the preacher and the church get blamed for parental failures.


I remember one Sunday morning after the church service when my husband was shaking hands with people filing out of the auditorium. Suddenly a mother stormed into the lobby, yelling and visibly upset. She said her son had been knocked over by other boys in the parking lot.


My husband’s first reaction was to call an ambulance, but the mom said that wasn’t necessary; her son just scraped his knee. “But,” she shouted, pointing to my husband. “This was your fault.”


“Why?” he asked. He could see our own two kids talking with friends nearby, so it wasn’t them who had knocked down the woman’s son. So why was this his fault?


“Because it’s your church,” the lady screamed. “And so they’re your responsibility.” (Well, that wasn’t true either; the church belongs to the people.)


But that true story is a picture of what many people do spiritually.


Just as many parents leave the physical well-being of their children up to the church (the drop-them-off-in-the-parking-lot syndrome), so many parents do the same with their children’s spiritual well-being, training, and guidance: Drop them off in the parking lot and let the church do the nurturing (whether or not the parents are even in the same building).


Maybe you feel this way too—at least to some extent. After all, you make sure your children go to church for every kids’ activity possible, so you figure the church’s pastors, teachers, and leaders are covering that spiritual training part of your kids’ lives. You’re busy doing other things, like working long hours to provide for your family, which is your responsibility.


Deep inside, you hope those people at the church are doing it right. And if your kids walk

away from the Lord someday, you’ll certainly have something to say about the church’s failure,

since spiritually raising your kids is their job.


Right?


Well, no!


From the Start


Let’s review some essentials of what the Bible says about the family.


The Family Is the First Group God Created


The family came before towns or countries, and before churches, youth programs, basketball

teams, or Facebook. God immediately created the marriage partnership—in fact, by the second

chapter of Genesis, God had already established marriage:


For Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, He took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of the man, and He brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:20-22)


And already by the fourth chapter in Genesis, we learn about children.


The Family (Marriage Partnership) Is a Picture of Christ and the Church


Paul says it this way:


Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church His body, of which He is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:21–27)


Family “Rules” Are Listed Throughout the Bible


Here’s an example:


Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. (Colossians 3:18-21)


Family Members Need to Encourage Each Other


Paul pointed to family encouragement as a model for the entire church:


But we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:7, 11–12)


The family has the primary responsibility in the spiritual training of children. But families also

need the church to come alongside them to nurture their kids, to provide Christian friendships

from likeminded families, and to give complementary spiritual training. (We’ll look at all that

more closely later.)


Someone Who Knew, Loved, and Served God

The goal of Awana (the ministry I serve with) is to train children and youth to grow into adults who know, love and serve the Lord. We’ve come to see that this is also an outstanding goal for parents in training their children.


And as a biblical example of a young person who grew up to know, love, and serve the Lord, it’s hard to beat Joseph in the Old Testament. Not that he came from a perfect family.


Most children know about Joseph. They know he received a unique coat from his father—and our perception of that is a knee-length coat with rainbow-colored stripes. But why would grown men (his older step brothers—see Genesis 30:1-25) care about their little brother’s multicolored coat? The Hebrew word here for “coat” refers to a full-length tunic—sleeves to the wrist, the hem to the ankles. This was the style of coat worn by rich young men. They didn’t have to work (they had slaves or servants to do that), and they had a position of honor both in the home and in the community.


Joseph’s full-length coat was probably made of white linen, with bands of colorful embroidery as trim. By contrast, working men wore looser fitting, shorter garments so they could climb over rocks and take care of their sheep—they needed to move quickly and not be hindered by long clothing. So the brothers weren’t jealous of the colors of Joseph’s coat, but rather the implied position Joseph held in wearing such a garment.


Joseph lived in Hebron. The word Hebron means “community” or “fellowship.” Joseph had fellowship with his father, but this wasn’t a family who had a lot of fellowship with one another. I don’t think dinnertime conversations were leisurely discussions about the price of sheep feed or the Hebron weather.


The truth is, Joseph came from a dysfunctional family. This is obvious when you read in Genesis 30 about the intrigue involving his mother, his mother’s sister, their servants, and drugs (mandrakes—which were seen as narcotics or aphrodisiacs). Rachel and Leah were both jealous women who were willing to have their servants lie with Jacob so they could win the who-can have-the-most-sons race. And when Rueben brought home some mandrakes, Rachel desired them so much she was willing to “sell” Leah a night with Jacob to get her hands on them.


This of course isn’t part of the biography we read about in Sunday school, but these events are worth noting here. Out of this mess, the Lord brought Joseph, a young man who never wavered from the assurance that God was with him; a young man with a true heart-desire to know, love, and serve the Lord.


We know that Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, and he ended up in Egypt. We know he quickly gained power and influence in Potiphar’s house, then quickly lost it when fleeing the temptations of Mrs. Potiphar. Yet even when put in prison, Joseph knew God was with him, and he remained faithful. Later, because he interpreted the king’s dream, he was made a VIP and placed in charge of the entire land of Egypt. In that position, he was able years later to publicly forgive his brothers.


Through it all, Joseph concluded that it wasn’t his brothers who sent him to Egypt, but God. God had a plan for him, and Joseph listened to God and fulfilled His plan—something he was later able to testify about to his brothers: “God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance” (Genesis 45:7).


Joseph’s life in particular reflected five godly character qualities—we’ll call them “master life threads”— that were woven into the very being of who he was and how he lived his life.

• Respect for the awesomeness and authority of God (Genesis 39:6-9.

• Wisdom for living life, based on a knowledge of God (40:5-8).

• Grace in relationships with others (41:51-52).

• A sense of destiny and purpose that came from God (45:4-10).

• A perspective for life based on the sovereignty of God (50:15-21).


These master life threads are also desired characteristics in the lives of our own children—as they learn to know, love, and serve the Lord.


We know that Joseph knew about the Lord. God was the God of his father, Jacob. As Joseph’s life continued in surprising new situations—as head of Potiphar’s household, as a prisoner, and finally as the man in charge of all of Egypt—he continued following the Lord. Over and over in the biblical account of Joseph’s life, we read that the Lord was with him, as in Genesis 39:21: “The LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.”


We know that Joseph loved the Lord because of the way he lived his life, refusing to be drawn into the temptations of a rich and powerful household, and because of his exemplary forgiveness toward the brothers who had wronged him: “But Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them” (Genesis 50:19-21).


And we know that Joseph served the Lord—by making righteous choices, by administrating the seven years of plenty, and by giving food not only to the people of Egypt but to other countries as well. As the famine intensified, and “the people cried to Pharaoh for food,” Pharaoh responded, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you” (Genesis 41:55).


Modern-Day Josephs


What Christian parent wouldn’t want their child to grow up to be a modern-day Joseph—a young person who reflects those five master life threads, and who knows, loves, and serves the Lord?


For many parents (and maybe this includes you), their children are already becoming Josephs. They do excellent jobs spiritually nurturing their children. They daily teach their kids God’s Word by guiding them toward recognizing the need to trust Christ, praying with them, reading the Bible together, encouraging Scripture memorization, explaining difficult words and concepts and talking about the qualities of the Christian life. Then they live out God’s Word in everyday life. They take their responsibility seriously.


Then there are other parents simply don’t think about their child’s spiritual training. These parents flounder through life, not learning much themselves about what the Bible actually says, and they couldn’t begin to explain the difference between Genesis and Galatians. Yet they’re law abiding citizens and church-attending Christians. They figure their kids will turn out okay. After all, they get their kids to Sunday school and even sent them once to a Christian summer camp.


But the majority of Christian parents are somewhere in the middle. They desire to be spiritual nurturers of their children, but they don’t know how. They might be intimidated that they might not say the right words. (What if my child asks me to explain eschatology or something?) Or they don’t know where to find a plan that shows them how to be a spiritual nurturer. (They may not even realize they should have a plan).


Furthermore, you probably know some adults who grew up without any spiritual nurturing in the home, yet who are now pastors, missionaries, church leaders, or shining witnesses in the secular workplace. The Lord used someone besides a parent to mentor that child, or gave the child a desire for Bible study that transformed her into someone who truly wants to know, love, and serve the Lord.


Goal and Plan


If our destination for our children is having a child who develops Joseph-like characteristics—knowing, loving, and serving the Lord—what’s the itinerary or plan for that journey?


The lack of such a plan often becomes the roadblock in our children’s spiritual development—and getting past that roadblock is what this book is all about. This book is not a step-by-step itinerary, but more of an atlas where you pick and choose which stops to make in your own family journey—because we know all families are different, with different schedules, different interests, and different personalities.


Our desire is to give your family (and your church) ideas—lots of ideas for helping to spiritual nurture your children. But as the parent, you need to devise the route.


It’s a plan that involves both parents—and the church as well.


Dad


The father is the head of the house and the God-ordained leader of the home. Dads and moms need to work together to spiritually raise their children.


A spiritually strong dad will…

• pray with his children.

• lead the children in Bible study and worship.

• take an interest in what the child is learning at church.

• teach his children Bible verses, Bible concepts, and Bible truths.

• discuss challenging questions, cultural events and concepts with his children.

• model a Christlike attitude in his daily life.


Unfortunately in too many homes, Mom is by herself in doing all of this. Dad might drive the family to church, but he doesn’t take any real responsibility in the child’s spiritual development.


If you’re a father, know this: God has given you a job to do. Your responsibility is to do it. You can’t expect your child to grow into a God-honoring adult when he sees you ignore the Bible, find every excuse possible to avoid church, and live a life that’s inconsistent with what God says in His Word.


Mom


Children need both parents involved in their spiritual training, and that’s the basic scenario presented throughout this book. It’s a sad situation when Dad is faithfully living for the Lord, but Mom doesn’t want any part of it.


Mom needs to be an active part of the praying, teaching, discussing, and modeling too. For example, sometimes Mom’s the one who spends a half-hour before or after school helping her children work on a memory verse, and when Dad gets home, he can enthusiastically listen to the children recite the verse. This is a joint effort. Both parents are huge influencers.


You might be a single mom and already feel defeated because you don’t have a husband to help you out. You can still teach your children from God’s Word and live an exemplary life. In your situation, the partnership of the church may be more important than usual. Hopefully your church has good male role models teaching younger children, so your children can profit from a masculine influence.


A good example of one parent spiritually training a child is that of Eunice and her son Timothy (2 Timothy 1:4-5). Eunice did have the help of her own mother, Timothy’s grandmother, but she didn’t have any help from her unbelieving Gentile husband. Timothy’s mom and grandma taught him the Old Testament Scriptures and exemplified godly lives. When the apostle Paul came along and taught Timothy about the Son of God and His sacrifice on the cross, Timothy was ready to trust Christ as Savior. Timothy became Paul’s son in the faith (1 Timothy 1:2), and Paul recognized of the foundation which Timothy’s mom and grandma had laid.


Many single parents do great jobs in spiritually training their children. If you’re a single parent, or your spouse isn’t interested in God and His Word, you need to surround yourself with likeminded adults who can give you and your children support and encouragement.


Fitting into Your Schedule


When, where, and how do we spend time spiritually training our children?


The following verses from Deuteronomy give clear instruction that our entire daily lives should provide teaching opportunities to spiritually train our children:


Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:18-21)


In a real sense, spiritual training in the home is ongoing and never-ending. It’s really a part of everything you do.


But we also need to set aside specific times when we come together as a family to pray, honor, and worship the Lord and to study and memorize His Word. Some families enjoy singing or playing instruments together. Others read a page from a devotional book.


One teenager said, “Our family wasn’t musical, so that wasn’t part of our activities. But we did other things, such as making rebuses of Bible verses.”


You might set aside a time each day for spiritual focus—at the breakfast or supper table, or before bed. Or you could plan family nights when an entire evening is dedicated to a lesson, an activity, and a special treat. (Be careful you don’t present the activity as more important and fun than the lesson. Bible study can and should be a great experience.)


Maybe your family’s schedule is so complicated that you can’t have a regular set time for spiritual focus, but you can still conscientiously meet together as a family to pray, worship, and learn about the Lord.


A couple considerations in all this:

• Sometimes families are diligent in having family devotions, but that’s the only time their children hear about the Lord. Because Dad prays and reads a page from a devotional book, he feels he’s taken care of his spiritual leadership responsibilities. Five minutes later, the children hear him swear when opening the gas bill, or see him confront a neighbor because the neighbor’s dog messed up the lawn. What he verbally taught is negated by the way he lives his life.

• Families are different. One guy diligently teaches his kids from the Bible, helps them with their memory verses, and consistently lives a godly life, yet he feels guilty. He knows of another family that spends thirty minutes of concentrated training at the supper table each night, but his irregular work schedule doesn’t allow him to do that. He is, however, doing a great job. We need to focus on our own families, not on what someone else is doing.


We as parents need to work together to develop the itinerary for our own families, keeping

our eyes on the goal of raising children who know, love, and serve the Lord.


Your Church


Whether large or small, your church is your best partner in raising your children.


In fact, the size of the church doesn’t really matter. Mega churches have the money and staff to provide exciting programs for both parents and children, and those programs can be good. But smaller churches can be better at giving a child a sense of security, family, and nurturing that you don’t always find in a larger church.


So church size isn’t important. What is important is the attitude of the church and the pastor toward kids. Does your church leadership really care about kids? Do they see the value in children’s ministry, and provide necessary resources to spiritually disciple children? Do they occasionally visit children’s or youth ministry times to give the lesson, answer questions, or simply greet the children or youth? Do they make an effort to learn the names of the kids, or do they know your three teenagers (who have been attending the church since birth) only as the Hansen kids?


If your church doesn’t see the importance of encouraging families, maybe you could be the catalyst to begin the initiative.


After this book’s Part One (which focuses on giving parents specific age-appropriate suggestions for their child’s spiritual development), Part Two will focus especially on practical ways the church can partner with you in this task. Be sure to explore what’s presented in Part Two, and become familiar with ideas of how churches and families can work together.


Planning Your Family’s Spiritual Journey


The ideas in this book are suggestions. No parent can do everything, just as no church can do everything either. Our goal is to give you plenty of ideas to help get you started and keep you going.


So let me lay out what you’ll find in each chapter in Part One, which is especially geared for you as a parent. (Keeping the journey idea in mind, most of these components have travel-related labels.)


Life Threads


Each chapter targets a different stage of a child’s life, and will focus on an appropriate life thread

(reflecting a quality that Joseph displayed in his life).


Here are these life threads for each age category:


Preschoolers (ages 2-5) Respect


Early Elementary (ages 5-8—kindergarten to second grade) Wisdom


Older Elementary (ages 8-11—third through sixth grades) Grace


Middle School (ages 11-14—seventh and eighth grades) Destiny


High School (ages 14-18—ninth through twelfth grades) Perspective


At the beginning of each chapter, you’ll find listed again the life thread to focus on for that stage in your child’s life.


By the way, if you’re looking at this list and thinking, “Great, but my child is already twelve years old!”—that’s okay. Yes, you’ve missed some prime training opportunities, but you can catch up. Review the sections for preschoolers and elementary age children, and teach the principles to your child using explanations and activities appropriate for a twelve-year-old. Instead of regretting what you missed, focus on the present and look to the future. These concepts are good for all ages—including adults.


What They’re Like


Early in each chapter, this section lists ten characteristics about that particular age category. Understanding these characteristics will give you a great head start in helping your child grow spiritually.


What They’re Asking


This section in each chapter lists the kinds of questions that kids in this age group typically ask about God and the Bible. You’ll also find suggested answers to a few of the questions.


These questions came from a “Biggest Question Survey” sponsored by Awana. A few years back, we asked 4,000 children and teenagers, “What’s your biggest question about God and the Bible?” These children and teenagers all had some Bible background (though, after looking at their questions, we surmised that some didn’t remember much of it). Then we determined the most-asked questions for each age group.


But don’t stop with reading what other kids have asked; ask your own children for their biggest questions about God and the Bible.

What You Can Do


In this section of each chapter you’ll find a wealth of practical suggestions for what you as a parent can do to help in your child’s spiritual growth in each stage. This begins with a short section about helping your child make the all-important decision to trust Christ as Savior.


Bios and Verses


Here you’ll find appropriate Bible biographies and Scripture memory verses to explore and learn with your children.


(At Awana, we substitute the word “biography” for “story” to emphasize that what comes from the Bible is true and not fictional. We explain that a biography is a true story about someone.)


What Not to Do


Sometimes we hinder more than we help. Each chapter includes this section where you’ll find common errors to avoid in each stage of your child’s life.


Checklist


Each chapter also includes a checklist of basic attainments to look for in your child’s spiritual development.


Family Itinerary


Finally, the section in each chapter labeled “Family Itinerary” is a worksheet to help you develop your plan and goals for your child’s spiritual journey in each stage.


Here are a couple of samples of completed itineraries from two families, one with younger children and one with teenagers:


A Sample Itinerary for a Family with Young Children


Our spiritual goals for the year are:

1. Teach Emma and Jacob that God created the world.

2. Teach Emma and Jacob that God loves each one of us.

3. Teach Emma and Jacob that the Bible is God’s book.

4. Teach Emma and Jacob that Jesus is God’s Son.

5. Teach Emma and Jacob that we’re to obey God.


Our family verse for this year is:

Genesis 1:1


We’ll also study the following six additional verses (one every two months) about God and His character:

1. Psalm 33:4

2. Proverbs 3:5

3. Matthew 28:20

4. Romans 3:23

5. Ephesians 6:1

6. 1 John 4:14


We’ll also study the following six Bible biographies (one every two months):

1. Adam

2. Joseph

3. Heman

4. Josiah

5. David

6. Christ’s birth


We will also do a more extensive study on this person in the Bible:

Heman in 1 Chronicles 25:5–7. We’ll learn how he and his family sang in the temple. We’ll learn a song together and sing at church.


Here are other activities our family will do together to learn about Bible characters:

1. We’ll watch a series of DVDs on Bible characters (a set we were given that’s factual).

2. We’ll visit Grandma and Grandpa and look at their pictures they took in Israel.

3. We’ll study Josiah and other Bible characters who served God even though they were young.

4. We’ll do several crafts using natural materials from the outdoors as we talk about God’s creation. These will include leaf-tracings, pictures on sun-sensitive paper, and drying flowers.

5. We’ll teach Emma and Jacob to identify five birds and five flowers, explaining that

they were all created by God.


Here are some themes for family fun nights we would like to do this year:

1. We’ll build a birdhouse together and learn about ten birds in our area of the country, and we’ll talk about creating a wonderful variety of birds.

2. We’ll make a mural for the basement wall of David watching his sheep.

3. We’ll invite Grandpa and Grandma to family night so they can hear Jacob and Emma say their verses.

4. We’ll make a book of all the different Bible biographies Jacob and Emma have learned at church this year.

5. We’ll visit the zoo.

6. We’ll make cookies for the lady down the street who’s homebound.


Our family has completed this year’s family itinerary and met our spiritual goals.

(Signed by each family member)



A Sample Itinerary for a Family with Children in High School


Our spiritual goals for the year are:

1. Study the book of Ephesians together.

2. Encourage Andrew and Amanda to teach and mentor their younger siblings.

3. Discuss biblical worldview and what that means as Andrew and Amanda head off to college.

4. Have open, honest discussions about difficult cultural issues.

5. Encourage Andrew and Amanda to write down any questions they may have about God and the Bible and to work through those questions as a family.

6. For Andrew and Amanda to serve by singing and playing guitar at the rescue mission once a month.


Our family verse for this year is:

Joshua 24:15


This year we’ll do the following family research project:

On creation. The project will culminate with a week at creation camp this summer.


We’ll memorize this chapter from the Bible:

Ephesians 2


We’ll read (either as a family or individually) the following books:

1. Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell

2. Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis


Our family service project this year will be:

Serving at the soup kitchen on Thanksgiving and Christmas


Our family has completed this year’s family itinerary and met our spiritual goals.

(Signed by each family member)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Live Deeply and Live Relationally by Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card authors are:


and the books:


Live Deeply: A Study in the Parables of Jesus

David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)

AND

Live Relationally: Lessons from the Women of Genesis

David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHORs:




Lenya Heitzig is an award-winning author and popular Bible teacher. After beginning her ministry as a single women’s counselor with Youth With a Mission, Lenya married Skip and together they started Calvary of Albuquerque, one of the fast growing churches in the country. The author of Holy Moments and coauthor of the Gold Medallion-winning, Pathways to God’s Treasures, Lenya currently serves as Director of Women at Calvary, overseeing weekly Bible studies and yearly retreats. Lenya and Skip live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Visit the author's website.


Penny Pierce Rose is the award-winning author/coauthor of several books and Bible studies, including the ECPA Gold Medallion winner, Pathways to God’s Treasures. She has served on the board of directors for the Southwest Women’s Festival and develops Bible study curriculum for the women’s programs at Calvary of Albuquerque. Penny, her husband, Kerry, and their three children, Erin, Kristian, and Ryan, live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

Live Deeply:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434799867
ISBN-13: 978-1434799869

Live Relationally:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434767485
ISBN-13: 978-1434767486

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTERs:



LESSON ONE

Root Determines Fruit

Matthew 13:1–23

Lenya adored Mrs. Johnson, her elementary school teacher, because she had the ability to bring Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to life. Lenya’s sister would anxiously wait for her to arrive home to retell the story in every detail. Penny loved nothing more than spooky bedtime tales from her granddaddy. She’d lie awake at night, jumping at every sound, wondering whether the boogeyman was real. All our kids loved trips to the library for story hour.


Since ancient times, storytellers have enthralled audiences with tales both entertaining and instructive. In 300 BC, Aesop, the Greek storyteller, featured animals like the tortoise and the hare in his fables vividly illustrating how to solve problems. The Brothers Grimm gathered fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel in nineteenth-century Germany to teach children valuable moral lessons. Baby boomers were mesmerized when Walt Disney animated their favorite stories in amazing Technicolor.


However, throughout history no one has compared to Jesus Christ as a storyteller. Rather than telling fables or fairy tales, He told parables. A parable is a short, simple story designed to communicate a spiritual truth, religious principle, or moral lesson. It is a figure of speech in which truth is illustrated by a comparison or example drawn from everyday experiences. Warren Wiersbe simply says, “A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.”1 Throughout this study we’ll learn from the stories Jesus told, comparing them to our lives and putting His eternal truths into practice.


Day 1: Matthew 13:1–3 Floating Pulpit Day 2: Matthew 13:3–9 Fertile Parable Day 3: Matthew 13:10–13 Few Perceive Day 4: Matthew 13:14–17 Fulfilled Prophecy Day 5: Matthew 13:18–23 Four Possibilities



DAY 1

Floating Pulpit


Lift up…


Lord, I love to gather with Your people and listen to Your Word. Help me to be a faithful hearer, not only listening to what You say but obeying Your commands. Thank You for being in our midst. Amen.


Look at…


Jesus proved Himself to be the promised King—the Messiah of Israel—through His impeccable birthright, powerful words, and supernatural deeds. Despite His amazing miracles and the many ways He fulfilled prophecy, the religious leaders rejected His lordship. Knowing the religious leaders had turned on Him, Jesus directed His attention to the common people. Matthew 13 tells how Jesus stepped onto a floating pulpit on the Sea of Galilee and spoke in parables to explain how the gospel—the good news of salvation—would inaugurate the kingdom of heaven on earth.


The parable of the Sower is one of seven parables Jesus taught to describe what His kingdom would look like as a result of the religious establishment rejecting Him. This parable was a precursor to the Great Commission that Jesus would give His disciples after His death, burial, and resurrection: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). There is no evidence that the religious leaders stayed to listen to Jesus’ simple stories. Yet after this teaching session, the resentment of the religious leaders only deepened.


Read Matthew 13:1–3.


On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. Matthew 13:1


Explain what Jesus did on this day in His ministry.


Matthew 13:1 is the continuation of a critical day in Jesus’ ministry. Briefly scan Matthew 12; then answer the following questions to learn more about this “same day.”
What day of the week is referred to here?
What miracles did Jesus perform on this day?
Describe Jesus’ encounters with the religious leaders.
What did He teach about becoming a member of His family?


According to Mark 3:6, what did the Pharisees begin to do on this fateful day?


And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow.” Matthew 13:2–3


Explain why Jesus got into the boat.
How many people stayed to hear Jesus’ message?
What method of teaching did Jesus use in speaking to the
multitudes?
What types of things did He teach in parables?
Galilee was an important region to Jesus. Fill in the following table to learn more.

Scripture Galilee’s Significance

Matthew 4:18–21
Matthew 17:22–23
Matthew 26:31–32
Luke 1:26–28
Luke 2:39–40
Acts 10:36–38


We’ve learned that many people came to know Jesus in Galilee. Journal about the place where you encountered Jesus and how meeting Him affected your feelings about that location.


Jesus was “moved with compassion” for the multitudes that followed Him. Circle below to indicate how you respond to the many people who are lost and looking for a shepherd.




Eager to share the gospel

Impatient with their ignorance

Anxious to get away

Concerned for their eternity

Frightened by their unruliness

Other __________________



Journal a prayer asking God to supernaturally fill you with compassion for the multitudes that don’t know Him.


The multitudes crowded around Jesus, so He turned a boat on the Sea of Galilee into a floating pulpit. In his book Fully Human, Fully Alive, John Powell tells about a friend vacationing in the Bahamas who was drawn to a noisy crowd gathered toward the end of a pier:


Upon investigation he discovered that the object of all the attention was a young man making the last-minute preparations for a solo journey around the world in a homemade boat. Without exception everyone on the pier was vocally pessimistic. All were actively volunteering to tell the ambitious sailor all the things that could possibly go wrong. “The sun will broil you! … You won’t have enough food! … That boat of yours won’t withstand the waves in a storm! … You’ll never make it!”


When my friend heard all these discouraging warnings to the adventurous young man, he felt an irresistible desire to offer some optimism and encouragement. As the little craft began drifting away from the pier towards the horizon, my friend went to the end of the pier, waving both arms wildly like semaphores spelling confidence. He kept shouting: “Bon Voyage! You’re really something! We’re with you! We’re proud of you!”2


If you had been there as the boat was leaving, which group on the pier would you have been among: the optimists or the pessimists? More importantly, if you had been in the crowds along the Sea of Galilee, would you have joined the Pharisees seeking to harm Jesus or the crowd eagerly listening to the stories Jesus told?



Listen to …

The best leaders … almost without exception and at every level, are master users of stories and symbols.

—Tom Peters


LESSON ONE

Eve--Trouble in Paradise

Genesis 2:18-3:24

The first trouble in paradise was man's aloneness. For six consecutive days--as God created light, the cosmos, the land and sea, the stars and planets, the creatures in the sea and sky, and every living thing that moves, including the ultimate creation of man--God declared, “It is good.” But there was one thing that wasn't good: Man did not have a companion. So God created the perfect mate for Adam. She would be the counterpart for him physically, spiritually, intellectually, and socially. She was intended to complete him. She was more than a mate--she was a soul mate.


We know this woman as Eve. Although the Bible does not describe her, there is no doubt that she was the most beautiful woman who ever lived. Why? She was God's masterpiece. The Divine dipped His paintbrush into the palette of dust and clay and breathed life from His wellspring of inspiration to form a portrait of perfection. Just imagine a woman with a face more beautiful than Helen of Troy, a body more statuesque than the Venus de Milo, a personality more captivating than Cleopatra, and a smile more mysterious than the Mona Lisa. She ate a perfect diet, so her figure was probably flawless. Because of an untainted gene pool, she was undoubtedly without physical defect. Due to the antediluvian atmosphere, her complexion was age-defying perfection. She was never a child, daughter, or sister. She was the first wife, the first mother, and the first woman to encounter evil incarnate. That's when real trouble in paradise began.


Day 1: Genesis 2:18-25 Paradise Found

Day 2: Genesis 3:1-6 Innocence Lost

Day 3: Genesis 3:7-13 Hiding Out

Day 4: Genesis 3:14-19 Judgment Pronounced

Day 5: Genesis 3:20-24 East of Eden



DAY 1

Paradise Found


Lift up …


Thank You, Lord, that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. You have created me in Your image to glorify Your name. May I fulfill Your will in my heart and home. Amen.


Look at …


We begin our study when God made man and woman. Though God created both humans and animals, this does not mean that they are on equal footing. People are made in God's image, setting us apart from animals in a profound way. We possess a soul. The soul refers to a person's inner life. It is the center of our emotions and personality. The word soul is first used in Genesis: “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being [soul]” (Gen. 2:7). In other words, humans possess intellect, emotion, and will.


For instance, dogs aren't bright enough to realize they'll never catch their own tails; cows don't weep over the beauty of a sunset; and a female praying mantis can't keep herself from chewing her spouse's head off. People, on the other hand, have the ability to acquire knowledge and experience deep feelings. They also have the capacity for self-control. While animals act instinctively, we as humans should behave transcendently. We are God's special creation endowed with the gift of “soul-power.”

Read Genesis 2:18-25.


And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:18-25


Explain the problem and solution God first spoke about in this passage.


Describe in detail the task God assigned to Adam.


Compare and contrast Adam to the rest of the living beings.


In your own words describe how God created woman.


a. When Adam met his mate he made a proclamation. What do you think “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” signified for Adam?

b. What did he call his mate and why?


Here we find the first mention of marriage in Scripture. Explain God's intent for marriage.


a. What else do you learn about the man and wife in this passage?

b. Why do you think this is relevant?


Live out …

a. God declared that man needs companionship. Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and explain some of the reasons why it is better to have a mate to come alongside you.

Read the sidebar concerning “Threefold Strength” and talk about how you have experienced God's supernatural strength in your life and/or marriage.


Many women today struggle with the way they look, think, and feel. But when God made Eve from Adam's rib, this was not His intent. When He made you, He made you to be the person you are too. With this in mind, journal Psalm 139:13-14 into a personal psalm praising God for making you just as you are.


For You formed my inward parts;

You covered me in my mother's womb.

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Marvelous are Your works. Ps. 139:13-14


Before the fall, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. It's probably difficult to imagine being unashamed about our looks, actions, or thoughts. But Jesus came to free us from condemnation (Rom. 8:1). Read the following Scriptures and talk about how we can either stand ashamed or unashamed before God.

Psalm 119:5-6

Isaiah 41:11

Isaiah 49:23

Jeremiah 8:9


It's safe to say that none of us is perfectly content with our frame. We all wish we were better, thinner, richer, healthier, smarter, or younger. We may think that if we were different in some way people would accept us, respect us, or love us more. Maybe we'd even love and respect ourselves more. Like Eve, we would walk in this world unashamed.


A recent University of Waterloo study determined that people's self-esteem is linked to such traits as physical appearance, social skills, and popularity. Research associate Danu Anthony noted that acceptance from others is strongly tied to appearances. Furthermore, the study found that self-esteem is connected to traits that earn acceptance from other people. “People state emphatically that it is 'what's inside' that counts and encourage their children not to judge others based on appearances, yet they revere attractive people to an astonishing degree,” Anthony says. “They say they value communal qualities such as kindness and understanding more than any other traits, but seem to be exceptionally interested in achieving good looks and popularity.” The bottom line is that people's looks and behavior are intimately linked to being accepted by others.3


As women of faith, we know that acceptance from others is not nearly as important as our acceptance of One Man--the God/Man Jesus Christ, the second Adam. Only by accepting Jesus Christ's sacrificial death will you be made whole: “You are complete in Him” (Col. 2:10).

Listen to…


The woman was formed out of man--not out of his head to rule over him; not out of his feet to be trampled upon by him; but out of his side to be his equal, from beneath his arm to be protected, and from near his heart to be loved.

--Matthew Henry

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wild Card by Robin shope

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Wildcard

The Wild Rose Press (April 1, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



In Robin's words:

I am the Special Education Coordinator for Denton County Juvenile Justice Alternative Program. For our first two years of marriage, my husband and I traveled overseas as missionaries before pastoring a church for six years. Rick and I have been married for over thirty years and have two grown children. We live near Dallas, Texas.To date, my literary works include approximately two hundred articles in magazines such as: Live, Lookout, Mennonite, Christian Reader, Decision, Breakthrough and Today’s Christian. Other short stories appear in the books: Stories from the Heart, The Evolving Woman, and in the New York Times bestseller, In The Arms of Angels by Joan Wester-Anderson. Ann Spangler also used one of my stories in her book, Help! I can’t stop Laughing. Another two-dozen stories have been published in the Chicken Soup books. One story, Mom’s Last Laugh, was re-enacted for a PAX-TV program: It’s a Miracle. I co-authored three thrillers; The Chase, The Replacement, and The Candidate. I am writing The Turtle Creek Edition series, The Christmas Edition Nov. 2009, The Valentine Edition Jan. 2009. More Edition books will come out in 2010. 2009. Wildcard is a thriller/romance stand alone and the release date is late April 2009.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $11.99
Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press (April 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601544871
ISBN-13: 978-1601544872


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


He stared at her with superb green eyes the color of a calm sea, but it was his slow smile that pierced her heart. Eyes and smile. Together they pulled her into the deep waters of wild imagination. The six-footer awkwardly tugged on his collar and no wonder, he seemed totally out of place at the theater’s cast party. Ivy Dillon was ripe for romance. She had to meet Whatzhisname.

“Here’s your fruit punch.” Jordan nudged. “I snagged you a cup before the alcohol went in.”

“Thanks.” Ivy turned toward her roommate. “By the way, who’s that?”

“Who?”

“The great looking guy near the window.” Ivy tipped her head in that direction.

“You can’t mean Martin?” Jordan snorted.

“Martin?” Ivy whipped around and squinted. Sure enough, the man she set her sighs on meeting had disappeared and in his place was Martin, still wearing his stage makeup. He waved at her. Ivy waved back, disappointedly. “No not him.”

Ivy cruised through the stage director’s apartment, trying to catch sigh of the man with the interesting angular features, the hair that curled up along his neckline, and, oh yes, those eyes—those amazing eyes.

On the way by the dessert table, the chocolate covered strawberries distracted her. She bit into one, enjoying the meeting of two rivers of flavors, and just like that Whatzhisname appeared in front of her. A miracle!

“You have a bit of chocolate right there,” he told her pointing at the corner of her mouth.

“Thanks,” Ivy croaked.

“May I?” he asked permission to touch her skin and wipe the chocolate away.

Ivy moved closer and felt the gentle stroke of his touch. Just like strawberries and chocolate, Ivy knew they were meant to be.

“There, you’re perfect again.” He licked his chocolate finger and then glanced around the room scanning faces. “Great opening night for the play. Do you know the cast?”

Ivy nodded. “Yes, in fact, the leading actress is my friend.”

“Jordan Belle is your roommate? Interesting.”

“How did you know she was my roommate?”

Just as Whatzhisname opened his mouth to answer, Martin swayed up and held out a platter of canapés. “Would you help pass these for me, doll?” he asked Ivy.

No, no, definitely no. No way did she want to do anything that would take her away from a promising evening. It was hard to resist the urge to shove the food back toward Martin. Politely, Ivy accepted the canapés and offered them to the guests. The next time she looked up Whatzhisname was heading toward the front door. Running after him would be way too pathetic so she let him go. She had to. He went one way and she went the other way to the balcony where she hoped to catch one last glimpse of him as he left the building. Ivy leaned over the railing and waited. And waited.

An unexpected hand on her shoulder made her jump back, dropping her purse as she did so. The contents flew everywhere. “Oh no!” Ivy chased her belongings, hoping to save them before they rolled over the edge.

“Are you all right?” a male voice asked, as she saw hands scrambling to help pick up the loose items—lipstick, business cards, inhaler, loose change and billfold.

She looked into his face and sighed. “It’s you!”

Whatzhisname was back, with the perfect stormy eyes and that slow smile. It was enough to melt the ice sculpture on the buffet table. She shivered with delight.

“I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

“You didn’t frighten me.”

“I hate to contradict you, but you looked quite frightened.”

“Startled may be the more appropriate word choice, but I assure you I ain’t frightened,” Ivy panned.

“Ain’t ain’t a word.”

“I know. I used it for effect.” She loved the color of his eyes.

“I guess that makes it all right then.” One at a time, he handed back he items However, he held tightly onto her business card. “Is this your card?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Then I must keep it,” he sweetly added as if he had no other desire than to know her.

Just like that, Ivy let him pull it from between her fingers. “I think I have everything now, thanks to you.” She snapped her purse shut.

“That’s good.” He straightened, slipped the card into his jacket pocket and turned to leave the party.

His abrupt exit made Ivy dizzy. Nonchalantly, she strolled through the party, smiling and nodding at the guests hoping to find Whatzhisname again. She had a dozen things she wanted to know about him, among them his name. However, they all drained from her head when Jordan hooked her by the arm.

“Catch a cab home. I’ll see ya in the morning.” With the toss of her long hair, Jordan skipped out of the party with a man on her arm.

Just then Whatzhisname sailed right by on his way out the front door, without even so much as a goodbye. Her window of opportunity had shut. After a few more chocolate covered strawberries eaten over deep sighs, it was Ivy’s turn to go home.


****

Ivy sat at the end of the pier with her feet in the water. She stared up at the oversized moon. The reflection of the heavenly constellation floated across the bay toward the shore on a parade of ripples. Suddenly, they turned into hands that leapt toward her, cold wet finger wrapped about her ankles. With a jerk, she was pulled beneath the lake. Frantically, she fought to free herself but she was no match. She lay motionless at the sandy bottom. Something poked her. Slowly, Ivy opened her eyes and inches away lay a body with hair swirling around the head. A skeletal hand reached out to her.

A dog howled outside on Washington Street.

Ivy bolted straight up in bed and pulled at the constricting button on the neck of her nightgown. She couldn’t breath. Mechanically, she swung her arm toward her prescription inhaler and accidentally propelled it across the room. It smacked the wall and ht the floor.

She knew it would be impossible to find her inhaler in a room draped in shadows so she staggered to the window and yanked open the shade. With daylight now sparkling on the floor, she found her inhaler on its side beneath the green cushioned chair alongside her bed. She dropped to her knees and snatched it. Ivy rocked back on her heels and opened her mouth. Several blasts of medicine sprayed her throat, allowing air to rush into her lungs. Slowly she counted her breaths as her eyes settled on a single rosebud in the pattern of her curtains. Bit by bit, she recovered.

Now all she wanted to do was fall back into bed, drag the blanket over her head and sleep for ten hours. Instead, she mustered her strength and latched onto the arm of the chair to pull up. It didn’t matter how sick she felt, she had to go to work.

She took off her nightgown and tuned the radio to a news talk station. Two political analysts from opposing parties were doing what they did best—arguing.

“Slow down, men,” she told them on the way into the bathroom. “The next presidential election is still two years away.”

Ivy stepped into the shower. The whoosh of the water in her face resurfaced the nightmare of the moonlight, the fingers, and the feeling of not being able to breath. Ten years later and she was still haunted by finding her best friend dead in the lake shallows. She felt thankful that during the day she was able to skate above the thoughts, but sometimes at night, when her defenses were down, they returned. Ivy shut her eyes tighter but the memory of Karin’s pale skin and dead eyes was all she could see. It weighed her down making her weak with terror. Ivy leaned against the tiles until she regained her balance.

The phone rang. Ivy didn’t move. On the third ring, she reached turned off the stream of water. After she slipped into her robe, she made her way to the phone. The caller ID read anonymous. She shouldn’t answer, she knew this, but she couldn’t stop herself. Her hands shook as she picked up the receiver. “Hello?”

“Erin, thank goodness I finally found you.” As usual the ‘Voice’ was calm, so in control.

“No one by that name lives here,” Ivy pushed out the words in a whisper and then slammed down the phone. She waited for it to ring again since it always did. The sound of his creepy tenor seemed to drip from the bathroom walls. Ivy kept staring at the phone, trembling. This time, there was no second call.

Now all Ivy wanted to do was to get out of the apartment and on the street where she felt safer and not so isolated. In her hurry, she nearly broke the zipper on her skirt as she struggled to get dressed.

Then, just as she reached the door, she heard someone fiddling with the doorknob. Ivy set her briefcase and purse down and peered through the peephole. In the hallway was the unmistakable form of her roommate who was now digging through her bag. Ivy turned the lock on the door and Jordan sailed into the apartment.

“Thank goodness you’re still here. I can’t find my key again.”

“Its lucky you caught me. Another minute and I’d be gone.” Jordan hugged several copies of the theater critic’s section to her chest. “Do you have time to read my reviews before you leave?”

“I always have time for you.” Ivy took a paper and read the metro section. “Jordan Belle Stands Out Among a Talented Cast. The only way it could get better is if people knew who you really were, Erin Lowe.”

“My theater name is Jordan Belle. Never, ever refer to me using my given name again.”

“What’s the harm” There’s only the two of us here.”

“Because you might slip up when it really matters,” Jordan said dramatically with a lift of an eyebrow.

“I can’t shake the feeling that there is something more you are not telling me.” Frustrated, Ivy needed to know. “What is it?”

Jordan bit her lip.

“Jordan, we’ve been though a lot since your sister Karin’s death. You owe it to me to let me know what it is you’re hiding from. Help me to understand.”

Jordan dropped into a chair, crossing one leg over the other. “All you need to know is that it involved the ‘Voice’. As long as he can’t find me, I’ll be happy.”

“Well, Jordan Bell, prepare to be sad. The ‘Voice’ called this morning asking for Erin.”

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Talking to the Dead

David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Bonnie Grove started writing when her parents bought a typewriter, and she hasn’t stopped since. Trained in Christian Counseling (Emmanuel Bible College, Kitchener, ON), and secular psychology (University of Alberta), she developed and wrote social programs for families at risk while landing articles and stories in anthologies. She is the author of Working Your Best You: Discovering and Developing the Strengths God Gave You; Talking to the Dead is her first novel. Grove and her pastor husband, Steve, have two children; they live in Saskatchewan.

Author website: www.davidccook.com – www.bonniegrove.com

Visit the author's website.





Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434766411
ISBN-13: 978-1434766410


MY REVIEW:



What a fantastic book! Probably one of my top favorite reads of this year so far. I was initially torn about reading this book. Not a big fan of the whole death/grieving thing, so I wasn't sure I wanted to read it. However, I'm nosy, and I like secrets, so I wanted to know the big secret. Interestingly enough, there were two secrets. One I suspected, the other blew me away. I loved everything about this book, even the whole death/grieving thing. The story and characters were absolutely captivating. Definitely a must-read for the summer. Just make sure you have plenty of time, because you won't want to put it down!

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


©2009 Cook Communications Ministries. Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Kevin was dead and the people in my house wouldn’t go home. They mingled after the funeral, eating sandwiches, drinking tea, and speaking in muffled tones. I didn’t feel grateful for their presence. I felt exactly nothing.


Funerals exist so we can close doors we’d rather leave open. But where did we get the idea that the best approach to facing death is to eat Bundt cake? I refused to pick at dainties and sip hot drinks. Instead, I wandered into the back yard.


I knew if I turned my head I’d see my mother’s back as she guarded the patio doors. Mom would let no one pass. As a recent widow herself, she knew my need to stare into my loss alone.


I sat on the porch swing and closed my eyes, letting the June sun warm my bare arms. Instead of closing the door on my pain, I wanted it to swing from its hinges so the searing winds of grief could scorch my face and body. Maybe I hoped to die from exposure.


Kevin had been dead three hours before I had arrived at the hospital. A long time for my husband to be dead without me knowing. He was so altered, so permanently changed without my being aware.


I had stood in the emergency room, surrounded by faded blue cotton curtains, looking at the naked remains of my husband while nurses talked in hushed tones around me. A sheet covered Kevin from his hips to his knees. Tubes, which had either carried something into or away from his body, hung disconnected and useless from his arms. The twisted remains of what I assumed to be some sort of breathing mask lay on the floor. “What happened?” I said in a whisper so faint I knew no one could hear. Maybe I never said it at all. A short doctor with a pronounced lisp and quiet manner told me Kevin’s heart killed him. He used difficult phrases; medical terms I didn’t know, couldn’t understand. He called it an episode and said it was massive. When he said the word massive, spit flew from his mouth, landing on my jacket’s lapel. We had both stared at it.


When my mother and sister, Heather, arrived at the hospital, they gazed speechlessly at Kevin for a time, and then took me home. Heather had whispered with the doctor, their heads close together, before taking a firm hold on my arm and walking me out to her car. We drove in silence to my house. The three of us sat around my kitchen table looking at each other.


Several times my mother opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. Our words had turned to cotton, thick and dry. We couldn’t work them out of our throats. I had no words for my abandonment. Like everything I knew to be true had slipped out the back door when I wasn’t looking.


“What happened?” I said again. This time I knew I had said it out loud. My voice echoed back to me off the kitchen table.


“Remember how John Ritter died? His heart, remember?” This from Heather, my younger, smarter sister. Kevin had died a celebrity’s death.


From the moment I had received the call from the hospital until now, I had allowed other people to make all of my bereavement decisions. My mother and mother-in-law chose the casket and placed the obituary in the paper. Kevin’s boss at the bank, Donna Walsh, arranged for the funeral parlor and even called the pastor from the church that Kevin had attended until he was sixteen to come and speak. Heather silently held my hand through it all. I didn’t feel grateful for their help.


I sat on the porch swing, and my right foot rocked on the grass, pushing and pulling the swing. My head hurt. I tipped it back and rested it on the cold, inflexible metal that made up the frame for the swing. It dug into my skull. I invited the pain. I sat with it; supped with it.


I opened my eyes and looked up into the early June sky. The clouds were an unmade bed. Layers of white moved rumpled and languid past the azure heavens. Their shapes morphed and faded before my eyes. A Pegasus with the face of a dog; a veiled woman fleeing; a villain; an elf. The shapes were strange and unreliable, like dreams. A monster, a baby—I wanted to reach up to touch its soft, wrinkled face. I was too tired. Everything was gone, lost, emptied out.


I had arrived home from the hospital empty handed. No Kevin. No car—we left it in the hospital parking lot for my sister to pick up later. “No condition to drive,” my mother had said. She meant me.


Empty handed. The thought, incomplete and vague, crept closer to consciousness. There should have been something. I should have brought his things home with me. Where were his clothes? His wallet? Watch? Somehow, they’d fled the scene.


“How far could they have gotten?” I said to myself. Without realizing it, I had stood and walked to the patio doors. “Mom?” I said as I walked into the house.


She turned quickly, but said nothing. My mother didn’t just understand what was happening to me. She knew. She knew it like the ticking of a clock, the wind through the windows, like everything a person gets used to in life. It had only been eight months since Dad died. She knew there was little to be said. Little that should be said. Once, after Dad’s funeral, she looked at Heather and me and said, “Don’t talk. Everyone has said enough words to last for eternity.”


I noticed how tall and straight she stood in her black dress and sensible shoes. How long must the dead be buried before you can stand straight again? “What happened to Kevin’s stuff?” Mom glanced around as if checking to see if a guest had made off with the silverware.


I swallowed hard and clarified. “At the hospital. He was naked.” A picture of him lying motionless, breathless on the white sheets filled my mind. “They never gave me his things. His, whatever, belongings. Effects.”


“I don’t know, Kate,” she said. Like it didn’t matter. Like I should stop thinking about it. I moved past her, careful not to touch her, and went in search of my sister.


Heather sat on my secondhand couch in my living room, a two seater with the pattern of autumn leaves. She held an empty cup and a napkin; dark crumbs tumbling off onto the carpet. Her long brown hair, usually left down, was pulled up into a bun. She looked pretty and sad. She saw me coming, her brown eyes widening in recognition. Recognition that she should do something. Meet my needs, help me, make time stand still. She quickly ended the conversation she was having with Kevin’s boss, and met me in the middle of the living room.


“Hey,” she said, touching my arm. I took a small step back, avoiding her warm fingers.


“Where would his stuff go?” I blurted out. Heather’s eyebrows snapped together in confusion. “Kevin’s things,” I said. “They never gave me his things. I want to go and get them. Will you come?”


Heather stood very still for a moment, straight backed like she was made of wood, then relaxed. “You mean at the hospital. Right, Kate? Kevin’s things at the hospital?” Tears welled in my eyes. “There was nothing. You were there. When we left, they never gave e anything of his.” I realized I was trembling.


Heather bit her lower lip, and looked into my eyes. “Let me do that for you. I’ll call the hospital—” I stood on my tiptoes and opened my mouth. “I’ll go,” she corrected before I could say anything. “I’ll go and ask around. I’ll get his stuff and bring it here.”


“I need his things.”


Heather cupped my elbow with her hand. “You need to lie down. Let me get you upstairs, and as soon as you’re settled, I’ll go to the hospital and find out what happened to Kevin’s clothes, okay?”


Fatigue filled the small spaces between my bones. “Okay.” She led me upstairs. I crawled under the covers as Heather closed the door, blocking the sounds of the people below.