Dropdown menu

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Discussion with my 10yo about crack

Today, we had some great mother-daughter bonding time at the grocery store. I can't remember what she was doing, but it was some kind of stupid thing kids do in stores. Hence, the following conversation:

Me: "Are you smoking crack again?"
10yo: "No!" Long pause. "I don't even know what crack is."
Me: "Good. Keep it that way."
10yo: "Is it like pot?"
Me: "Yes."

We walk a little ways, and then she stops.
10yo: "Mom? What's pot?"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In Grandma's Attic.. Series by Arleta Richardson

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:

David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Arleta Richardson grew up in a Chicago hotel under her grandmother’s care. As they sat overlooking the shores of Lake Michigan, her grandmother shared memories of her childhood on a Michigan farm. These treasured family stories became the basis for the Grandma’s Attic Series.


Remember when you were a child, when the entire world was new, and the smallest object a thing of wonder? Arleta Richardson remembered: the funny wearable wire contraption hidden in the dusty attic, the century-old schoolchild’s slate that belonged to Grandma, an ancient trunk filled with quilt pieces—each with its own special story—and the button basket, a miracle of mysteries. But best of all she remembered her remarkable grandmother who made magic of all she touched, bringing the past alive as only a born storyteller could.

So step inside the attic of Richardson’s grandmother. These stories will keep you laughing while teaching you valuable lessons. These marvelous tales faithfully recalled for the delight of young and old alike are a touchstone to another day when life was simpler, perhaps richer, and when the treasures of family life and love were passed from generation to generation by a child’s questions and the legends that followed enlarged our faith. These timeless stories were originally released in 1974 and then revised in 1999. They are being re-released with new artwork that will appeal to a new generation of girls.

Product Details:

In Grandma's Attic:

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781403790
ISBN-13: 978-0781403795

More Stories from Grandma's Attic:

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; 3 edition (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9780781403801
ISBN-13: 978-0781403801
ASIN: 0781403804

As with all books for children, I gave this one to my daughter to review as well, and she really enjoyed it. Sometimes I have a hard time finding good books for my 10 year old, so it was nice to find something I was comfortable giving her to read- that she wants to read! I think that can be the biggest challenge for parents- finding something the kids enjoy, but isn't inappropriate. The stories in these books were entertaining, and provided an interesting insight into the past. It's neat to be able to give kids glimpses into a time when they didn't have cell phones, computers, and cable TV to keep them occupied.


In Grandma’s Attic – Chapter 1

Pride Goes Before a Fall

“Grandma, what is this?”

Grandma looked up from her work. “Good lands, child, where did you find that?”

“In the attic,” I replied. “What is it, Grandma?”

Grandma chuckled and answered, “That’s a hoop. The kind that ladies wore under their skirts when I was a little girl.”

“Did you ever wear one, Grandma?” I asked.

Grandma laughed. “Indeed I did,” she said. “In fact, I wore that very one.”

Here, I decided, must be a story. I pulled up the footstool and prepared to listen. Grandma looked at the old hoop fondly.

“I only wore it once,” she began. “But I kept it to remind me how painful pride can be.”

I was about eight years old when that hoop came into my life. For months I had been begging Ma to let me have a hoopskirt like the big girls wore. Of course that was out of the question. What would a little girl, not even out of calicoes, be doing with a hoopskirt? Nevertheless, I could envision myself walking haughtily to school with the hoopskirt and all the girls watching enviously as I took my seat in the front of the room.

This dream was shared by my best friend and seatmate, Sarah Jane. Together we spent many hours picturing ourselves as fashionable young ladies in ruffles and petticoats. But try as we would, we could not come up with a single plan for getting a hoopskirt of our very own.

Finally, one day in early spring, Sarah Jane met me at the school grounds with exciting news. An older cousin had come to their house to visit, and she had two old hoops that she didn’t want any longer. Sarah Jane and I could have them to play with, she said. Play with, indeed! Little did that cousin know that we didn’t want to play with them. Here was the answer to our dreams. All day, under cover of our books, Sarah Jane and I planned how we would wear those hoops to church on Sunday.

There was a small problem: How would I get that hoop into the house without Ma knowing about it? And how could either of us get out of the house with them on without anyone seeing us? It was finally decided that I would stop by Sarah Jane’s house on Sunday morning. We would have some excuse for walking to church, and after her family had left, we would put on our hoops and prepare to make a grand entrance at the church.

“Be sure to wear your fullest skirt,” Sarah Jane reminded me. “And be here early. They’re all sure to look at us this Sunday!”

If we had only known how true that would be! But of course, we were happily unaware of the disaster that lay ahead.

Sunday morning came at last, and I astonished my family by the speed with which I finished my chores and was ready to leave for church.

“I’m going with Sarah Jane this morning,” I announced, and set out quickly before anyone could protest.

All went according to plan. Sarah Jane’s family went on in the buggy, cautioning us to hurry and not be late for service. We did have a bit of trouble fastening the hoops around our waists and getting our skirts pulled down to cover them. But when we were finally ready, we agreed that there could not be two finer-looking young ladies in the county than us.

Quickly we set out for church, our hoopskirts swinging as we walked. Everyone had gone in when we arrived, so we were assured the grand entry we desired. Proudly, with small noses tipped up, we sauntered to the front of the church and took our seats.

Alas! No one had ever told us the hazards of sitting down in a hoopskirt without careful practice! The gasps we heard were not of admiration as we had anticipated—far from it! For when we sat down, those dreadful hoops flew straight up in the air! Our skirts covered our faces, and the startled minister was treated to the sight of two pairs of white pantalets and flying petticoats.

Sarah Jane and I were too startled to know how to disentangle ourselves, but our mothers were not. Ma quickly snatched me from the seat and marched me out the door.

The trip home was a silent one. My dread grew with each step. What terrible punishment would I receive at the hands of an embarrassed and upset parent? Although I didn’t dare look at her, I knew she was upset because she was shaking. It was to be many years before I learned that Ma was shaking from laughter, and not from anger!

Nevertheless, punishment was in order. My Sunday afternoon was spent with the big Bible and Pa’s concordance. My task was to copy each verse I could find that had to do with being proud. That day I was a sorry little girl who learned a lesson about pride going before a fall.

“And you were never proud again, Grandma?” I asked after she finished the story.

Grandma thought soberly for a moment. “Yes,” she replied. “I was proud again. Many times. It was not until I was a young lady and the Lord saved me that I had the pride taken from my heart. But many times when I am tempted to be proud, I remember that horrid hoopskirt and decide that a proud heart is an abomination to the Lord!”


More Stories From Grandma’s Attic

Chapter 1

The Nuisance in Ma’s Kitchen

When Grandma called from the backyard, I knew I was in for it. She was using her would-you-look-at-this voice, which usually meant I was responsible for something.

“What, Grandma?” I asked once I reached the spot where she was hanging up the washing.

“Would you look at this?” she asked. “I just went into the kitchen for more clothespins and came back out to find this.”

I looked where she was pointing. One of my kittens had crawled into the clothes basket and lay sound asleep on a clean sheet.

“If you’re going to have kittens around the house, you’ll have to keep an eye on them. Otherwise leave them in the barn where they belong. It’s hard enough to wash sheets once without doing them over again.”

Grandma headed toward the house with the soiled sheet, and I took the kitten back to the barn. But I didn’t agree that it belonged there. I would much rather have had the whole family of kittens in the house with me. Later I mentioned this to Grandma.

“I know,” she said. “I felt the same way when I was your age. If it had been up to me, I would have moved every animal on the place into the house every time it rained or snowed.”

“Didn’t your folks let any pets in the house?” I asked.

“Most of our animals weren’t pets,” Grandma admitted. “But there were a few times when they were allowed in. If an animal needed special care, it stayed in the kitchen. I really enjoyed those times, especially if it was one I could help with.”

“Tell me about one,” I said, encouraging her to tell me another story about her childhood.

“I remember one cold spring,” she began, “when Pa came in from the barn carrying a tiny goat.”

“I’m not sure we can save this one.” Pa held the baby goat up for us to see. “The nanny had twins last night, and she’ll only let one come near her. I’m afraid this one’s almost gone.”

Ma agreed and hurried to find an old blanket and a box for a bed. She opened the oven door, put the box on it, and gently took the little goat and laid it on the blanket. It didn’t move at all. It just lay there, barely breathing.

“Oh, Ma,” I said. “Do you think it will live? Shouldn’t we give it something to eat?”

“It’s too weak to eat right now,” Ma replied. “Let it rest and get warm. Then we’ll try to feed it.”

Fortunately it was Saturday, and I didn’t have to go to school. I sat on the floor next to the oven and watched the goat. Sometimes it seemed as though it had stopped breathing, and I would call Ma to look.

“It’s still alive,” she assured me. “It just isn’t strong enough to move yet. You wait there and watch if you want to, but don’t call me again unless it opens its eyes.”

When Pa and my brothers came in for dinner, Reuben stopped and looked down at the tiny animal. “Doesn’t look like much, does it?”

I burst into tears. “It does so!” I howled. “It looks just fine! Ma says it’s going to open its eyes. Don’t discourage it!”

Reuben backed off in surprise, and Pa came over to comfort me. “Now, Reuben wasn’t trying to harm that goat. He just meant that it doesn’t … look like a whole lot.”

I started to cry again, and Ma tried to soothe me. “Crying isn’t going to help that goat one bit,” she said. “When it gets stronger, it will want something to eat. I’ll put some milk on to heat while we have dinner.”

I couldn’t leave my post long enough to go to the table, so Ma let me hold my plate in my lap. I ate dinner watching the goat. Suddenly it quivered and opened its mouth. “It’s moving, Ma!” I shouted. “You’d better bring the milk!”

Ma soaked a rag in the milk, and I held it while the little goat sucked it greedily. By the time it had fallen asleep again, I was convinced that it would be just fine.

And it was! By evening the little goat was standing on its wobbly legs and began to baa loudly for more to eat. “Pa, maybe you’d better bring its box into my room,” I suggested at bedtime.

“Whatever for?” Pa asked. “It will keep warm right here by the stove. We’ll look after it during the night. Don’t worry.”

“And we aren’t bringing your bed out here,” Ma added, anticipating my next suggestion. “You’ll have enough to do, watching that goat during the day.”

Of course Ma was right. As the goat got stronger, he began to look for things to do. At first he was content to grab anything within reach and pull it. Dish towels, apron strings, and tablecloth corners all fascinated him. I kept busy trying to move things out of his way.

From the beginning the little goat took a special liking to Ma, but she was not flattered. “I can’t move six inches in this kitchen without stumbling over that animal,” she sputtered. “He can be sound asleep in his box one minute and sitting on my feet the next. I don’t know how much longer I can tolerate him in here.”

As it turned out, it wasn’t much longer. The next Monday, Ma prepared to do the washing in the washtub Pa had placed on two chairs near the woodpile. Ma always soaked the clothes in cold water first, then transferred them to the boiler on the stove.

I was in my room when I heard her shouting, “Now you put that down! Come back here!”

I ran to the kitchen door and watched as the goat circled the table with one of Pa’s shirts in his mouth. Ma was right behind him, but he managed to stay a few feet ahead of her.

“Step on the shirt, Ma!” I shouted as I ran into the room. “Then he’ll have to stop!”

I started around the table the other way, hoping to head him off. But the goat seemed to realize that he was outnumbered, for he suddenly turned and ran toward the chairs that held the washtub.

“Oh, no!” Ma cried. “Not that way!”

But it was too late! Tub, water, and clothes splashed to the floor. The goat danced stiff-legged through the soggy mess with a surprised look on his face.

“That’s enough!” Ma said. “I’ve had all I need of that goat. Take him out and tie him in the yard, Mabel. Then bring me the mop, please.”

I knew better than to say anything, but I was worried about what would happen to the goat. If he couldn’t come back in the kitchen, where would he sleep?

Pa had the answer to that. “He’ll go to the barn tonight.”

“But, Pa,” I protested, “he’s too little to sleep in the barn. Besides, he’ll think we don’t like him anymore!”

“He’ll think right,” Ma said. “He’s a menace, and he’s not staying in my kitchen another day.”

“But I like him,” I replied. “I feel sorry for him out there alone. If he has to sleep in the barn, let me go out and sleep with him!”

My two brothers looked at me in amazement.

“You?” Roy exclaimed. “You won’t even walk past the barn after dark, let alone go in!”

Everyone knew he was right. I had never been very brave about going outside after dark. But I was more concerned about the little goat than I was about myself.

“I don’t care,” I said stubbornly. “He’ll be scared out there, and he’s littler than I am.”

Ma didn’t say anything, probably because she thought I’d change my mind before dark. But I didn’t. When Pa started for the barn that evening, I was ready to go with him. Ma saw that I was determined, so she brought me a blanket.

“You’d better wrap up in this,” she said. “The hay is warm, but it’s pretty scratchy.”

I took the blanket and followed Pa and the goat out to the barn. The more I thought about the long, dark night, the less it seemed like a good idea, but I wasn’t going to give in or admit that I was afraid.

Pa found a good place for me to sleep. “This is nice and soft and out of the draft. You’ll be fine here.”

I rolled up in the blanket, hugging the goat close to me as I watched Pa check the animals. The light from the lantern cast long, scary shadows through the barn, and I thought about asking Pa if he would stay with me. I knew better, though, and all too soon he was ready to leave.

“Good night, Mabel. Sleep well,” he said as he closed the barn door behind him. I doubted that I would sleep at all. If it hadn’t been for the goat and my brothers who would laugh at me, I would have returned to the house at once. Instead I closed my eyes tightly and began to say my prayers. In a few moments the barn door opened, and Reuben’s voice called to me.

“Mabel,” he said, “it’s just me.” He came over to where I lay, and I saw that he had a blanket under his arm. “I thought I’d sleep out here tonight too. I haven’t slept in the barn for a long time. You don’t mind, do you?”

“Oh, no. That’s fine.” I turned over and fell asleep at once.

When I awoke in the morning, the goat and Reuben were both gone. Soon I found the goat curled up by his mother.

“Will you be sleeping in the barn again tonight?” Ma asked me at breakfast.

“No, I don’t think so,” I said. “I’ll take care of the goat during the day, but I guess his mother can watch him at night.”

Grandma laughed at the memory. “After I grew up, I told Reuben how grateful I was that he came out to stay with me. I wonder how my family ever put up with all my foolishness.”

Grandma went back into the house, and I wandered out to the barn to see the little kittens. I decided I wouldn’t be brave enough to spend the night there even if I had a big brother to keep me company!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Revise Us Again by Frank Viola

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:

David C. Cook; New edition (April 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Frank Viola is a frequent conference speaker and author of numerous books on the deeper Christian life and church restoration, including Reimagining Church, Finding Organic Church, Jesus Manifesto, (coauthored with Leonard Sweet), and the best-selling From Eternity to Here.

Visit the author's website.


Revise what it means to live the Christian life. As believers, the Word of God gives us a script for experiencing life as God intended. Yet our environment, our culture, and our religious traditions often distort our scripts. We are all in constant need of revising the scripts that we live by.

Author Frank Viola believes we need to revisit and revise what it means to live the Christian life. Drawing from his rich background in ministry, Viola shares how believers can benefit from rescripting their lives in ten key areas. Written in a conversational tone and filled with practical insights, Revise Us Again is ideal for any reader who longs to follow God's original script for living.

Product Details:

List Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781434768650
ISBN-13: 978-1434768650
ASIN: 1434768651

I'm really enjoying this book. I think it is a great reminder that we as believers need to strip away the church-isms we're taught, and often accept by rote, and really take a look at the character of who Jesus was, and who He wants us to be. Sometimes we follow a church blindly, and I don't think we look at how that applies in the Bible- we accept the word of the person on the pulpit without exploring our faith for ourselves. God gifted us with the ability to read (the Bible, yay!) and the ability to think and analyze. This book really reminds me that we need to dig deeper and keep seeking.




There’s a very obscure passage in the Old Testament that sheds light on how God communicates His mind to His people. It’s found in Jeremiah 18:18:

   The teaching of the law by the priest will not be lost, nor will counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophets.

   The ancient Hebrews divided the Old Testament up into three sections. The first section is called the Torah, or the Law. It includes the first five books of the Bible. The steward of the Torah is the priest.

   The second section of the Old Testament is the Prophets. It includes the major and minor Prophets and the historical books. The steward of the Prophets is, of course, the prophet. 

   The third division of the Old Testament is called the Wisdom literature or “the Writings.” It includes Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Job, and the Song of Solomon. The steward of the Wisdom literature is the sage, or wise man.

   These three sections of the Old Testament represent the three major ways in which God communicates His mind to His people.

Where We’ve Been

One of the greatest obstacles to laying hold of God’s mind is our religious background. Virtually every Christian has at some point been given a narrow lens through which they interpret Scripture, the Lord, and the Lord’s speaking.

   Therefore, it’s critical that we understand that we all have been given such a lens. The following list shows how incredibly powerful our religious backgrounds are in shaping these lens.1 The list is obviously tongue-in-cheek, but I believe the truth is not far off.

   Suppose that you are traveling to work and you come to a stop sign. What do you do? Well, that depends on your religious background. For example …

   1. A fundamentalist, taking the text very literally, stops at the stop sign and waits for it to tell him to go. 

   2. A Christian who follows the traditions of his denomination does not bother to read the sign, but she will stop if the car in front of her does. 

   3. A seminary-educated evangelical preacher might look up stop in his English lexicon and discover that it can mean: (1) something which prevents motion, or (2) a location where a train or bus lets off passengers. The main point of his sermon the following Sunday on this text is: When you see a stop sign, realize that it is a place where traffic is naturally clogged; therefore, it’s a good place to let off passengers from your car.

   4. A legalist does one of two things. She takes another route to work that does not have a stop sign so she doesn’t run the risk of disobeying the law. Or she may stop at the stop sign and pray, “Thank you, oh Lord, for your commandment to stop.” She waits three seconds according to her watch and then proceeds. She also keeps a condemning eye out to see if others run the stop sign.

   5. A New Testament scholar notices that there is no stop sign on Mark Street, but there is one on Matthew Street and Luke Street. He then concludes that the ones on Luke and Matthew Streets were copied from a sign on the street that no one has ever seen called “Q” Street. 

   6. A prophetic preacher of end-time theology notices that the square root of the sum of the numeric representations of the letters S-T-O-P (which are sigma tau omicron pi in the Greek alphabet), multiplied by 40 (the number of testing), divided by 4 (the number of the earth) equals 666. Therefore, she concludes that stop signs are the dreaded mark of the beast, a harbinger of divine judgment, and must be avoided at all costs.

   7. A Charismatic/Pentecostal will stop only if he feels led of the Spirit and the sign is a rhema word and not a logos word.

   8. A prosperity preacher will stop at the sign, make a positive confession about stopping, and offer “the prayer of Jabez,” concluding that God must make her rich.

   9. An Arminian believes that if he runs the stop sign he will lose his salvation. So with fear and trembling he works hard at stopping at every stop sign.

   10. A Calvinist believes that God has predestinated her reaction to the sign. If she runs the stop sign, she was never saved to begin with. If she stops, she was elected before creation.

   11. A Southern Baptist believes that God wants him to stop at the sign, but he will still be saved if he does not. For if you once stopped, you have always stopped.

   12. Upon seeing the stop sign, a libertine begins to sing “Hallelujah, I’m free,” pushes her foot down on the pedal, and runs the stop sign at full throttle. She then gets run over by a Mack  truck.

   13. A liberation theologian believes that stop signs should stop only those who are of the elitist, wealthy class. But the poor are free to run them whenever they wish.

   Silly, yes, but this list makes a point. We all have a lens that we inherited from our religious background. And we are conditioned to interpret the Scripture, the Lord, and His speaking through that lens.

How God Communicates His Mind

The Torah contains the foundations on which the community of God’s people are built. The Torah includes God’s enduring moral principles—the standards that spring from His very nature. These standards do not change nor can they be compromised. In the Old Testament economy, the priest was the person who taught the Torah.

   The Prophets section often seems to contradict the Torah. The prophet is the person who enters the community of God’s people and causes an abrasive, disruptive upheaval of what the community believes or practices. 

   The prophet challenges the people’s response to the Torah, which is often a legalistic or libertine response. 

   In reality though, the prophet really doesn’t contradict the Torah. He contradicts the people’s response to it. We are fallen creatures and sometimes turn the standards of God into dead rituals. At other times we misapply or disregard them altogether. The prophet is needed at such times.

   The Wisdom literature contains something that we Christians often do not have a great abundance of—wisdom. Wisdom is knowledge gained through experience. It also includes a predictive element. 

   Because of his long experience, a wise person can detect patterns. He’s able to foresee outcomes (Luke 11:49; Prov. 22:3).

   A wise person may make a statement like this: “What you just said sounds really good, but it’s not going to work, and here’s why …”

   The instrument of the Wisdom literature is the sage, the wise old man with the gray head. The sage is sought after for his wisdom because he has the experience of life. As a result, he can peer into the future.

   The priest is authorized by the authority of the Torah that contains what God has previously spoken. The prophet is authorized by the present burden of the Lord that the Holy Spirit lays upon him. The sage is authorized by his experience and the fruit of his wisdom, which can be evaluated by the future outcome of his counsel (Luke 7:35).

   Put another way, the Torah looks to the past and asks, “Is this scriptural? Is this right?” The prophet looks to the present and asks, “What is God saying to us right now? What is His present leading?” 

   The sage looks to the future and asks, “How will our present actions affect the future? Is this decision wise or foolish?”

   To put it in the language of the Bible: The priest asks, “What do these stones mean?” (Josh. 4:6). The prophet asks, “Is there any word from the LORD?” (Jer. 37:17). And the sage asks, “Where can wisdom be found?” (Job 28:12).

The Inherent Dangers of Each

Each form of God’s speaking has its own dangers if not attended to by the other forms. If a church is conditioned to recognize the Lord’s will through only the form of Torah, it will become ritualistic at best or judgmental, self-righteous, and legalistic at worst. It will need the prophetic word as well as the word of wisdom to balance it.

   A church that recognizes the Lord’s will via only the lens of the prophet will be unstable and erratic at best. At worst, it will be deceived. This is because a prophet’s revelation can be bogus. Thus, a prophetic word should be tested by its faithfulness to what God has already said (i.e., Torah) and by its future outcome (i.e., wisdom).

   If a Christian or a church recognizes the Lord’s will through only the lens of wisdom, it will be given over to human reasoning and empty philosophy. True wisdom will always be faithful to what God has already said (i.e., Torah), and it will be responsive to the in-breaking of an authentic prophetic word.

   Consequently, we should embrace all three forms because God provides guidance through each.

   Unfortunately, our religious backgrounds condition us to recognize the Lord’s will through only one form. Those who have a fundamentalist background tend to recognize the Lord speaking through only the Torah. Guidance must contain a standard or principle of God, which usually has a chapter and verse attached to it. But this narrow lens blinds them from recognizing God’s guidance through the other modes.

   Those who come from a Charismatic/Pentecostal background tend to recognize the Lord’s voice through only the prophetic word. It must be peppered with, “I sense the Lord saying” … “I have a word from God” … “The Lord showed me” … “Thus saith the Lord.” Appeals to Scripture or wisdom have very little registration.

   Those from mainline denominations tend to recognize God speaking through whatever sounds reasonable. Wisdom is their language. What God has said in the past often carries little weight. And prophetic revelation is suspect.

   Put differently, those who prefer Torah-speaking are thinkers. Those who prefer prophetic-speaking are feelers. And those who prefer wisdom-speaking are doers. Three temperaments, three denominations, and three forms of God’s speaking. 

   It’s worth noting that our temperament is connected to our religious background. We are typically drawn to the denomination or movement that matches our temperament. Doers tend to gravitate toward denominations like Baptist. Feelers tend to gravitate toward the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement. And thinkers tend to gravitate toward fundamentalist denominations, Presbyterian, or Anglican churches. Parachurch organizations and many large movements usually combine two of these temperaments, typically thinkers and doers or feelers and doers. I admit these are generalizations; however, I believe they are very close to reality.

   Whether we realize it or not, our religious background is a major hurdle that stands in the way of laying hold of the mind of Christ individually and corporately.

   Accordingly, God in Christ by the Spirit discloses His will through all three modes.

The Mind of Christ

In 1 Corinthians 12:1–2 (NKJV), Paul writes:

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant. You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led.

Notice that Paul mentions “dumb idols.” What exactly is a dumb idol? It’s not an idol with a low IQ. A dumb idol is an idol that doesn’t have the power of speech. It’s a mute idol. 

   Before the Corinthian believers came to Christ, they were following pagan gods that didn’t possess the power of speech. These gods were mute. They were dumb. Paul goes on saying the following (this is my paraphrase of verses 3–6):

Remember how you served mute idols? Well, now you serve a God who speaks, and He speaks through you and your fellow members of the body of Christ. For example, when you say, “Jesus is Lord,”  God’s own Spirit is speaking through you. There are varieties of spiritual gifts, but it’s the same Spirit. There are varieties of ministries, but it’s the same Lord. And there are varieties of effects, but it’s the same God who is working through them all. The one true God speaks through a variety of different ways via His one body.

   Notice that God communicates in a variety of ways, but it’s the same God who is doing all the speaking. And God does that speaking through His body, i.e., a local assembly.

   Consequently, the mind of God can be made known through only a corporate body of believers. 

   Jesus Christ has the power of speech. He’s not a dumb idol. And when He speaks, He reveals the mind of God. But Christ never reveals His whole mind through an individual. It takes a body of believers to lay hold of His mind together.

   Hence, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:9–10:

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

   Consider the following words:

Eye has not seen. He’s speaking of a single eye. A solo eye has not seen.

Ear has not heard. An individual ear has not heard.

And it has not entered into the heart of man. A single heart hasn’t received.

   Now listen to Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:16 (NKJV): 

   For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?”

   This is an absurd question. But notice the singular: “Who has known the mind of the Lord that he [singular] may instruct him?” 

   The answer is obvious. No individual has God’s mind. But then Paul makes this remarkable statement: “But we [plural] have the mind of Christ.”  We, corporately—as His body—possess the mind of Christ. Incredible.

   The mind of Christ is discoverable. Jesus Christ is not a dumb idol. He has the power of speech. He desires to speak and reveal His thoughts. But the mind of Christ is a corporate discovery. It’s a corporate pursuit. It’s not the property of any individual. It’s the property of the body of Christ working together to secure it.

   As a result, all three ways of God’s speaking in Christ (Torah, prophetic, and wisdom) should be held in tension. The reason? Jesus Christ incarnates all three modes. 

Jesus Christ is the real Priest as well as the Torah itself.

Jesus Christ is the real Prophet as well as the prophetic word.

Jesus Christ is the real Sage as well as wisdom itself.

   Our Lord reveals His will to and through a local community of believers when they are seeking to lay hold of His mind together. The local assembly, which includes all the believers, is the vehicle through which God has chosen to disclose His mind. Through some believers, He speaks as Prophet. Through others, He speaks as Priest. Still through others, He speaks as Sage.

   The speaking may sound different, but it’s the same Christ working through each one. 

   The Lord helps us to revise our ears so that we may learn to hear the voice of the Shepherd through each one of His sheep.

©2011 Cook Communications Ministries. Revise Us Again by Frank Viola. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

That's When I Talk to God by Dan and Ali Morrow and Illustrated by Cory Godbey

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 book:

David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Dan and Ali Morrow are parents of two wonderful daughters. When they’re not writing children’s books, they like to go on adventures around their Colorado home. They are the authors of That’s Where God Is (2010), their first children’s release.

Visit the authors' website.


Cory Godbey illustrates, animates, and writes for Portland Studios, a creative firm dedicated to telling great stories and pursuing excellence in art.

He has contributed to projects such as Zune Arts, Flight graphic novel anthologies, and has worked with many major publishers.

Recently, Cory was accepted in the acclaimed Society of Illustrators Annual.

Cory seeks to tell stories with his work.

He also likes drawing monsters.

Visit the illustrator'swebsite.


Targeted to children four to eight, That’s When I Talk to God mirrors the day of the typical child, creating an opportunity for readers to put the practices in the story to use in their own lives. Through beautiful illustrations and an engaging, familiar character, readers can relate to That’s When I Talk to God. Children will learn to go to God with their fears, their joys, their questions, and their desires. They will also learn the hows, whens, and whys of praying to the Lord in a way they can easily apply to their own experiences. And adults will be reminded to communicate the benefit, simplicity, and beauty of prayer.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 36 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434700186
ISBN-13: 978-1434700186

I had the opportunity to read this to my 6yo and her 6yo friend. It was fun seeing how the two little girls got into the story and enjoyed being read to. This was definitely not a book they would have been able to read on their own, but I'm glad for it, because it gives time for mom (or dad) and kiddos to interact. The girls really enjoyed the book, and it was so much fun being able to read together.

Oh, and a cute story to go along with this... my kids and I had met Ali and her kids once, and when I reminded my daughter that she'd met the lady who wrote the book, her eyes got wide, and she said, "wow! That nice lady can really write! Her kids are so lucky!" And I think, for moms who read this book, their kids will be lucky too.

AND NOW...THE FIRST FEW PAGES (Click on the pictures to enlarge them!):

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Cowboy's Touch by Denise Hunter

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:

Thomas Nelson (March 29, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too! 

Visit the author's website.


Wade's ranch home needs a woman's touch. Abigail's life needs a cowboy's touch.

Four years ago, rodeo celebrity Wade Ryan gave up his identity to protect his daughter. Now, settled on a ranch in Big Sky Country, he lives in obscurity, his heart guarded by a high, thick fence.

Abigail Jones isn’t sure how she went from big-city columnist to small-town nanny, but her new charge is growing on her, to say nothing of her ruggedly handsome boss. Love blossoms between Abigail and Wade--despite her better judgment. Will the secrets she brought with her to Moose Creek, Montana separate her from the cowboy who finally captured her heart?

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 29, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595548017
ISBN-13: 978-1595548016


Well... for those of you who haven't heard my rants on the topic, let's just begin by reiterating the fact that I. HATE. COWBOYS. They stink. Maybe some people like the smell of horse, but it's really not my thing. However, as some of you know, my husband's midlife crisis is that he's always wanted to be a cowboy, and so yes, he is turning into everything I did not want in a man. Namely, a cowboy.

What does this have to do with Denise's book? Well... I'm trying to embrace the cowboy thing. I'm trying to like cowboys. And I'm trying to read cowboy books to help ease that transition. Since I like Denise's books, I thought I'd give this one a try. And I have to say, I liked it. I liked watching Abigail adapt to the new lifestyle, and I liked watching her struggle with her decisions and falling in love with Wade. It was a great story. The whole cowboy thing didn't bother me a bit.

So... if you like cowboys, you'll like this book. If you hate cowboys, you'll probably still like this book. (Now to convince myself that my world is not ending because my husband is turning into one.)


Abigail Jones knew the truth. She frowned at the blinking curser on her monitor and tapped her fingers on the keyboard-what next?

Beyond the screen's glow, darkness washed the cubicles. Her computer hummed, and outside the office windows a screech of tires broke the relative stillness ofthe Chicago night.

She shuffled her note cards. The story had been long in coming, but it was finished now, all except the telling. She knew where she wanted to take it next.

Her fingers stirred into motion, dancing across the keys. This was her favorite part, exposingtruth to the world. Well, okay, not the world exactly, not with Viewpoint's paltry circulation. But now, during the writing, it felt like the world.

Four paragraphs later, the office had shrunk away, and all that existed were the words on the monitor and her memory playing in full color on the screen of her mind.

Something dropped onto her desk with a sudden thud. Abigail’s hand flew to her heart, and her chair darted from her desk. She looked up at her boss’s frowning face, then shared a frown of her own. “You scared me.”

“And you’re scaring me. It’s after midnight, Abigail—what are you doing here?” Marilyn Jones’s hand settled on her hip.

The blast of adrenaline settled into Abigail’s bloodstream, though her heart was still in overdrive. “Being an ambitious staffer?”

“You mean an obsessive workaholic.” 

“Something wrong with that?”

“What’s wrong is my twenty-eight-year-old daughter is working all hours on a Saturday night instead of dating an eligible bachelor like all the other single women her age.” Her mom tossed her head, but her short brown hair hardly budged. “You could’ve at least gone out with your sister and me. We had a good time.”

“I’m down to the wire.”

“You’ve been here every night for two weeks.” Her mother rolled up a chair and sank into it. “Your father always thought you’d be a schoolteacher, did I ever tell you that?”

“About a million times.” Abigail settled into the chair, rubbed the ache in her temple. Her heart was still recovering, but she wanted to return to her column. She was just getting to the good part.

“You had a doctor’s appointment yesterday,” Mom said. Abigail sighed hard. 

“Whatever happened to doctor-patient confidentiality?”

“Goes out the window when the doctor is your sister. Come on, Abigail, this is your health. Reagan prescribed rest—R-E-S-T—and yet here you are.”

“A couple more days and the story will be put to bed.”

“And then there’ll be another story.”

“That’s what I do, Mother.”

“You’ve had a headache for weeks, and the fact that you made an appointment with your sister is proof you’re not feeling well.”

Abigail pulled her hand from her temple. “I’m fine.”

“That’s what your father said the week before he collapsed.”

Compassion and frustration warred inside Abigail. “He was sixty-two.” And his pork habit hadn’t helped matters. Thin didn’t necessarily mean healthy. She skimmed her own long legs, encased in her favorite jeans . . . exhibit A.

“I’ve been thinking you should go visit your great-aunt.” Abigail already had a story in the works, but maybe her mom had a lead on something else. “New York sounds interesting. What’s the assignment?”

“Rest and relaxation. And I’m not talking about your Aunt Eloise—as if you’d get any rest there—I’m talking about your Aunt Lucy.” 

Abigail’s spirits dropped to the basement. “Aunt Lucy lives in Montana.” Where cattle outnumbered people. She felt for the familiar ring on her right hand and began twisting.

“She seems a bit . . . confused lately.”

Abigail recalled the birthday gifts her great-aunt had sent over the years, and her lips twitched. “Aunt Lucy has always been confused.”

“Someone needs to check on her. Her latest letter was full of comments about some girls who live with her, when I know perfectly well she lives alone. I think it may be time for assisted living or a retirement community.”

Abigail’s eyes flashed to the screen. A series of nonsensical letters showed where she’d stopped in alarm at her mother’s appearance. She hit the delete button. “Let’s invite her to Chicago for a few weeks.” 

“She needs to be observed in her own surroundings. Besides, that woman hasn’t set foot on a plane since Uncle Murray passed, and I sure wouldn’t trust her to travel across the country alone. You know what happened when she came out for your father’s funeral.”

“Dad always said she had a bad sense of direction.”

“Nevertheless, I don’t have time to hunt her down in Canada again. Now, come on, Abigail, it makes perfect sense for you to go. You need a break, and Aunt Lucy was your father’s favorite relative. It’s our job to look after her now, and if she’s incapable of making coherent decisions, we need to help her.”

Abigail’s conscience tweaked her. She had a soft spot for Aunt Lucy, and her mom knew it. Still, that identity theft story called her name, and she had a reliable source who might or might not be willing to talk in a couple weeks.

“Reagan should do it. I’ll need the full month for my column, and we can’t afford to scrap it. Distribution is down enough as it is. Just last month you were concerned—”

Her mother stood abruptly, the chair reeling backward into the aisle. She walked as far as the next cubicle, then turned. “Hypertension is nothing to mess with, Abigail. You’re so . . . rest- less. You need a break—a chance to find some peace in your life.” She cleared her throat, then her face took on that I’ve-made-up- my-mind look. “Whether you go to your aunt’s or not, I’m insisting you take a leave of absence.”

There was no point arguing once her mother took that tone. She could always do research online—and she wouldn’t mind visiting a part of the country she’d never seen. “Fine. I’ll finish this story, then go out to Montana for a week or so.”

“Finish the story, yes. But your leave of absence will last three months.”

“Three months!”

“It may take that long to make a decision about Aunt Lucy.”

“What about my apartment?”

“Reagan will look after it. You’re hardly there anyway. You need a break, and Moose Creek is the perfect place.”

Moose Creek. “I’ll say. Sounds like nothing more than a traffic signal with a gas pump on the corner.”

“Don’t be silly. Moose Creek has no traffic signal. Abigail, you have become wholly obsessed with—”

“So I’m a hard worker . . .” She lifted her shoulders.

Her mom’s lips compressed into a hard line. “Wholly obsessed with your job. Look, you know I admire hard work, but it feels like you’re always chasing something and never quite catching it. I want you to find some contentment, for your health if nothing else. There’s more to life than investigative reporting.”

“I’m the Truthseeker, Mom. That’s who I am.” Her fist found home over her heart.

Her mother shouldered her purse, then zipped her light sweater, her movements irritatingly slow. She tugged down the ribbed hem and smoothed the material of her pants. “Three months, Abigail. Not a day less.”

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Here's how that Obama thing is working out for us

Well, I told you all about how the President responded to my letter a while back. All smoke and mirrors, but nothing real.

At the time, I was upset that with all this great economic stuff happening, our family qualifies for nothing. And, as I pointed out in my letter, it was on the backs of hard-working Americans like my hubby and I that our economy would recover. Well, I now have proof.

First up: Obamacare. Our deductibles have now DOUBLED. For those who don't know what that means, I'll tell you. The amount we have to spend out of pocket before the insurance will cover anything is now twice what it was last year. For our family, this meant we had to spend $2500. I realize that some families pay more. But for us, that's a lot.

Then, because our insurance plan is a small self-funded program, they also increased our co-percentage from 20% to 30%. So... we now pay 10% more for our health care.

But oh, no, it does not stop there. Because they also no longer cover dental expenses, other than... wait for it... one cleaning a year. And that isn't even fully covered, as attested to by the $40 bill I just paid my dentist for said one cleaning a year. Which means, the $1100 of dental work hubby needs will be completely out of pocket.

And no, I am not done yet. Additionally, our family's prescription out of pocket expenses have also increased. We've gone from a $5 copay to a $10 copay, PLUS many drugs are no longer covered.

My estimate, based on what we've spent in the first quarter of this year, is that our family's medical expenses will INCREASE by at least $5000.

Moving on to TAXES.

I just finished our taxes. I won't tell you exactly what we make, but we are, by Obama's definition, middle class Americans.

Our actual income went down by $5000. Our taxable income went down by $4200. BUT... our total tax went UP by $1.

And okay, it's only $1. But did ya get the point about our income going DOWN? Yet we get the privilege of paying more taxes.

I dunno... I realize it's simple math. But so far, actual cash down the drain, we're out $10,000. Now maybe that's not a lot of money to some people, but for us, that's a lot of money.

Yes, the economy is bad, and I'm willing to own that it's not all Obama's fault. But I look at his healthcare reform, and all the promises he made with that, and you know... I'm glad that for some people, their costs got to go down, and others may even get coverage. But I'm the one paying for it. Some people are getting more tax breaks, and I say, great! Except I'm the one paying for it. I'm still paying a higher interest rate on my mortgage and can't refinance, because guess what? We are now officially underwater on our mortgage. But hey, we still have the money to pay it, so it's all good right?

I know Obama says that he's running again, and yippee for him. I just pray that either a.) he will stop playing these smoke games and deal honestly with us, or b.) we'll actually get someone in office who will. See, I don't mind giving money to help others. I really don't. But I do mind being promised better and getting worse.