Friday, September 25, 2015

Undercover Bride, By Margaret Brownley

Maggie Cartwright is a detective for the Pinkerton Detective Agency. She and her partner have been sent to Furnace Creek, Arizona, to find evidence to convict Garret Thomas of the Whistle Stop Train Robbery. He fits the general description of the man seen robbing the train, killing a guard and riding off with $70,000.00 in cash.

The Pinkerton's have had Maggie pose as a mail order bride and correspond with Garret in an effort to embed her in his life and get the evidence needed to convict the man of the crime.

Unfortunately when she meets Garret who knew that she would fall in love with him. Who knew that she would be taken in by his two children and his kindness. This complicates things as she has a job to do but in doing that she is lying to a man that she is developing strong feelings for and desires to actually become his wife.

Margaret Brownley develops the characters well and develops the plot line of the story very well. She builds on the plot from one chapter to the next while all the time building the 'backstory' of the characters involved. In the midst of this she also weaves through the story the theme of forgiveness, a need for God, trust in the Almighty as well as in your fellow human.

Side plots involve Garrets time in the Andersonville Prison during the Civil War. It also involves Maggies growing up in an orphanage because of a terrible family background.

Can the two find love? Can Maggie find the robber? If it turns out to be Garret, can she bring him to justice? All good questions and woven well in a fun story.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Come Rain or Come Shine, by Jan Karon

First of all I would like to thank Net Galley and the Publisher for making a review copy of this book available to me for review.

It has been some time since we have visited with the good people of Mitford, a lot has happened. Father Tim has retired and lives a quiet life. Dooley has been going to college and then on to Veterinary school. Lace has finished up her studies and is waiting for Dooley to finish his.

This story will take us to the next level. Dooley and Lace will become man and wife. Dooley will also graduate Veterinary school and start up his own practice at Doc’s old place and live at the Farm.

Our cast of characters that we have come to love will all make their appearances in this novel as they come together for the celebration of the marriage of Dooley and Lace. We will also meet a couple of new people. The most important new face is Jack Tyler who is a little boy that Dooley and Lace want to adopt. He will come to the farm just a short time before the wedding and have to learn that there is more love in this place than he has ever experienced, and that love will last ‘forever.’

The story is not complex, it is not deep, it is not trying to make a statement of any kind. It is just the story of two young adopted children who have grown up and are now on the doorstep of marriage to each other. The people that they have come to love and care for are there to encourage them and celebrate with them.

Reading this book is like slipping on a pair of old slippers that you have grown comfortable with. It just feels right.

If you are a Jan Karon fan and a lover of the Mitford series then this is the must read novel for you this fall.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Vinnie's Diner, by Jennifer Allee

Jennifer Allee gives us another wonderful story that is heart warming and so very real to true life. In our story a young woman, Alexandria, is in a terrible car accident. She is rescued by a man named Vinnie, who pulls her out of the car and walks her across the road to his dinner. When they reach the diner Allie is in for the surprise of her life.

Allie is a trivia buff and she had been on her way to a Trivia Context in Las Vegas when she had her accident. When she gets to the diner she is taken back by the people that are in the diner. They all seem to resemble people from history, famous people whom she knows because of her studies of trivia. But why are they here.

Then there is Vinnie, he is warm, caring, gentle and such a Good Samaritan. He has taken care with Allie to pull her to safety and now brought her to his diner so that she can have something to drink, sit and relax and regain her strength.

But really what is all this? Bottom line is that Allie is in a place where all the people there have died and shouldn't be anywhere near Allie or this diner. So, why are they here? That is the question of the story.

Allie is facing a test, a test about her faith in God and how she has viewed him poorly because of the bad things that have happened in her life.

This book is one of those stories of a person who meets Jesus and comes to terms with her life's turmoils and struggles and discovers that she has to make a decision. Will she accept God for who He is or will she choose to ignore him and let her life spiral down to the depths of hell?

The story is well written, the characters are developed superbly and the plot is so interesting that you won't just read and enjoy, but you will stop and contemplate the truths that are being expressed. You will find yourself examining your beliefs in God and why it should make a difference in your life.

I believe that this book would be best to be read as part of a book club so that you can sit and talk about the story line, the truths detailed and how they are affecting you.

What a wonderful book.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Why Trust the Bible, by Greg Gilbert (a 9 Marks Book)

First of all I would like to thank Net Galley and the Publisher for making an Advance Reader Copy of this book available to me. You can Pre-order the book on Amazon, it releases on October 15, 2015.

Once again the 9 Marks Book series delivers to us a simple, well explained and easily readable book on a subject that many church members need to read, understand and then be able to use the information in discussion with their family, friends and colleagues.

While there are many well written Theological Books on the Subject of the Bibles Authenticity, this little book provides a great tool for the layperson who does not have the desire to wade through a 500 page text on trusting the Bible. This short 9 Marks Book gives them the proper tool to read, digest and use as a reference with people they are talking with.

The book is easy to give to an individual you are sharing with or with a Book Club at church whom you would like to dialogue about the subject of the Bible and why we can trust that what we have in our hands is a worthy and reliable translation of the original texts.

I have enjoyed every 9 Marks book but this one really struck home. In a time and age where people mock the Bible, laugh at those who believe it and live by it or just flat out dismiss it as non authoritative or reliable text we get a great apologetic book by Greg Gilbert. He is very knowledgeable and could write a much more in depth theological treatment of the subject but he knows that what the church truly needs today is a book that everyone can read and understand.

I’m sure that his hope is that this book will ignite in the layperson a desire to know even more about the authenticity of the Bible, but better yet that it will ignite in the layperson a desire to share these truths with those who think the Bible is out dated and not reliable.

Thank you Greg for giving us a tool to add to our pouch for when we go out to do battle with a world that mocks us and dismisses our claims about the Bible.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Potters Lady, by Judith Miller

An enjoyable read of the continuation of Rose McKay's life. She has now finished at the Art School and Mrs. Fisk has wished her well and sent her on her way. She did win the highest award possible for a Senior at the school. But that didn't offset the struggles she had taking abuse from the other students because she was a "poor Irish girl."

Her brother Ewan has come to escort her home, but first they are going to stop in Grafton, West Virginia, where he is going to look at two businesses that are for sale. One is a brick yard and the other is a pottery. Ewan is familiar with brick yards as he has helped his late Uncle run the brick yard in their home town. But his Aunt doesn't take a shine to him and has dismissed him after his uncles death. The pottery is a fine business, but not one that Ewan is comfortable with. BUT, it is one that Rose would be able to help out in because of the artistry that goes onto the plates, cups, vases, etc.

Rose helps convince the family to try their hand at the pottery business. Her Grandmother is willing to spend the money to help buy it, but she gives Rose the task of helping Ewan make it successful.

The business is good, but Ewan keeps loosing bid after bid on contracts from distributors. He can't figure out where he is going wrong. But loosing bids is what happens. Rose has great ideas and wants to help, but she also is puzzled by loosing bids.

Not to mention that she is being courted by Joshua Harkness, the owner of a pottery in a different town. Then there is Rylan, the assistant to the owner of the pottery. He is smart, talented, loyal to a fault and handsome. But while he thinks Rose is beautiful he knows that she is more suited to marry a rich man like Joshua, rather than him, a blue collar worker.

Bottom line, love is in the air, but who is in love with who. Business is also in the air, but why does Ewan keep loosing out on bids? A pottery contest is also in the air and Rose should be able to win, but a late entry seeks to displace her.

All in all this is a short story and possibly the main point of the story is that Rose, Ewan and Rylan all are solid believers in Jesus Christ, and they are believers in prayer. The story revolves around their trust in God. Their trust in Biblical truths and prayer. I think that Judith Miller does a great job of bringing a real life situation to bear on how it intersects with a Christians walk with Christ.

Great lessons and solid writing make this a book that you could use for your Church's book club.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Autopsy of a Deceased Church, by Thom Rainer

I have unfortunately had the sad privilege of observing several church plants not survive. I also have seen two churches have to close their doors and sell their buildings. None of these were churches that I served at, but they were within our district when I served on the District Board. The two churches that had to close their doors and sell their buildings feel under my responsibility. It was heart wrenching.

Just recently I met with the board and congregation of a small church that was seeking to try and find a pastor. They courted our church plant as a possible merger, but then decided it wasn't for them. The differences in church style were to much. This church has plenty of cash on hand, a building in very good repair and paid for but no full-time or part-time pastor. They are now down to less than twenty people. It is only a matter of time before they close their doors and sell.

So, this book was one of interest for me. I wanted to read what Thom Rainer thought about churches that had died. This is a very short read but probably one of the most fact filled and direct little books that I have ever read.

Thom looks at 14 churches that died. He found twelve similarities in the churches and he dissects those similarities in this book. I found his points correct and almost uncannily familiar to what I had experienced. His most direct observation was that all of these dying churches did not think they had a problem and did not think that they would die. They were in denial of their illness.

Probably the main point I found was that each of these churches had become inward focused. They stopped looking outside their walls to see their communities and to meet those communities needs. Instead they were more concerned with staying warm and comfortable in their own little world, well fed and satisfied with life. They forgot the Great Commission. They forgot the marching orders that Jesus gave His church after His death.

May we never forget those orders. At the end of this booklet after he has dissected what caused the death of these churches Thom gives several suggestions for diagnosis of your church and then remedies to help your church regain it's health and not find that they have a fatal disease.

May you find the truths of what you need to help your church not succumb to a fatal illness

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Replant: How a Dying Church can GROW again, by Mark Devine and Darrin Patrick

Mark DeVine writes a very intriguing account of how a dying Baptist Church in the Kansas City area turned to the Lord for direction in how to keep this 150 year old church alive and start it growing again. Was it to bring in a new pastor? Was it to merge with another church in the area? Or maybe was it time to call it quits and close the doors?

Mark was teaching Theology at a local Seminary when he became the part-time preaching pastor at this church. His first thought was that the church had the viability to continue and to start growing again, but that it would take a God thing to make that happen. So he started to pray.

After a couple of years he approached the church leadership about merging with another church. They agreed and sought out a partner. Four different churches were interested. But after a long process and a vote to merge the other church selected in the process ran aground with some problems of their own and the merger did not happen.

Demoralized the church basically hunkered down again but kept praying for God to bring a good solution. They didn't want the history or ministry of the church to die. That is when Mark started conversations with Darrin Patrick about The Journey in St. Louis taking over a church in Kansas City. With some prayer and direction from God that happened. A small dying church of 80 people within a year had grown into a growing church of 600 people. How does that happen without killing off the old congregation? Well, that is the topic of the book.

Read and see what God can do when a people of God are willing to let go and let God do His thing.