Book Review: The Third Target

Third Target

A heart-stopping thriller, The Third Target is the story of a clash of world views. The Free World wants to foster Peace Treaties; ISIS wants annihilation of the infidels. The reporter, James Collins is in a race against time. ISIS wants credit for mass destruction against Israel and the U.S., but they also want the element of surprise. If he can verify his leads and facts in the story, he can get it to press before it’s too late to warn people. But someone has other plans for J.B. Collins.

Joel C. Rosenberg has pulled together another spellbinder about the turmoil in the Middle East that has pulled our shores closer to the battle.   Rosenberg “spent more than a decade in Washington as a senior advisor to a number of U.S. and Israeli leaders including Steve Forbes, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Natan Sharansky.”

His novels have gleaned huge attention, as world events unfold similar to what he has written. How can he be so close in detail? He was convinced a War on Terror was coming, mapped out what it could look like, and then researched his map.

The timing of Rosenberg’s books is uncanny. In an age when Biblical prophecy is unfolding before our eyes, Rosenberg is connecting events with narrative fiction in a compelling way. He is explaining prophesies through dialogue with the characters and scenes in locations where events are happening daily.

Can one person make a difference? One thing I questioned was the weight a news correspondent carried with political leaders. Would world rulers in real life summon a journalist? Maybe not, but it made for an exciting story.

I loved the background research in the importance of the Temple Mount, The Dome of the Rock and the city of Jerusalem to Moslems, Christians and Jews. The author used dialogue to inform and show details to great advantage. And he explained why a journalist’s reporting of stories helps to stop a wrong by exposing it.

What an incredible book! It would be of interest to anyone who watches the evening news or reads the newspaper. It catalogues current events with a captivating storyline. It makes me excited to live in this time in history, by seeing it through different eyes. And I struggled with J.B. as he questioned faith and how it applies to facing death. It all comes down to the question J.B.’s brother asks, “What are you going to do with Jesus?”

Indeed, a question we will all have to answer, soon.

Sally

Note: I received this book as part of the Tyndale Rewards Program. I received no compensation for this review. Do you want to get free books too? Here’s my link.


B & B Review: The Teacher’s Pet

A venture down a country road in Pennsylvania turns out to be an adventure to another era. Innkeepers Dave & Judy Clum have created a cozy step back in time with antiques in every nook and cranny. The rooms of their B & B are homey and inviting, with the school theme everywhere, and apple motifs bring back memories of the respect shown toward a cherished profession. Both teachers by trade, Dave & Judy’s home has become a getaway for the student in all of us, yearning for a quiet place to read a good book.

Hubby and I were greeted with mint chocolate chip cookies and a tour. We had our choice of upstairs bedrooms, both with their own bathroom. Ours had a covered four-poster bed with quilted covers and steps for my short legs to climb into the tall bed.

Our Innkeepers steered us to a lovely supper at Log Cabin Inn in Harmony, where we were treated like royalty for an unusual opportunity of uninterrupted dialogue. We finally had a chance to catch up with each other’s hearts!

The morning’s meal was a sight for the eyes, as well as a treat for the taste buds. Our hosts prepared fresh fruit, French toast with confectioners’ sugar, eggs, and toast with homemade blueberry preserves. I sipped from my china teacup in front of a roaring fire and realized it had been far too long since I had actually used a teacup at home. A mug says tackle the day! The teacup is a reminder to slow down and treat life gently. Another simple but special treat was the addition of orange sherbet to the orange juice. It’s one of those things that I could easily put together at home, but never thought to do. It makes an ordinary morning feel extra special.

Dave & Judy Clum

The cherry on top for our breakfast, however, was a visit with our hosts. Dave is a history buff and knowledgeable about subjects from furniture building to the George Washington Trail that runs through Portersville. The antiques they’ve amassed over the years create a warm atmosphere for a visit with new friends. And the motifs nudge a bent toward conversation on a sunny day. It was a B & B worth repeating!

Sally


Book Review: Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love

Raising Big Kids

Did you get an eye-roll with a “whatever,” today? Then you might be the parent of a tween or teen. And you might have realized by this point in your child’s life, that there is no perfect formula for parenting. However, Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love comes pretty close to being a near-perfect parenting manual. Cleverly disguised as a book for parents to glean skills in child-rearing, it actually teaches us to be better adults.

Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love is packed with tools, examples and suggestions for a way to role-play the various hats we wear as parents. The authors, Lori Wildenberg and Becky Danielson bring their collective experience with their own families, as well as examples gleaned through conducting parenting classes. Wildenberg and Danielson are co-founders of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting, and authors of three parenting books. They are licensed parent-family educators, certified teachers, and moms of six between them. Their writing style is straight forward, as they advocate parents can engage with the teen’s world in a healthy and growing relationship.

In a time when we’re worried about being politically correct, the authors hold a high standard for child-rearing. They tackle tough issues like cyber bullying, peer pressure and sexual activity, and lay out a guide to providing a safe and secure home in a shifting culture. Their reliance on Scripture and prayer is refreshing, as they provide practical tips for conversations with teens and a desire to reach their hearts. I love the emphasis on character development and the encouragement to persevere, when you’d rather throw in the towel.

I wish I would have had this book when my own were teens. It reassures that times of failure are when we are most teachable, and we can develop character traits that will benefit our kids their whole lives. It provides a way to navigate the murky waters of expectations and miscommunication. And it is an encouraging and empowering book that is an important part of every parent’s arsenal!

Sally

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the The Blog Spot Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


How Do Your Retreat Numbers Measure Up?

math_photo

As I put retreat flyers in our church mailboxes Saturday, I thought about our motives for inviting so many women. It’s not about the numbers, really.  It’s about including each and every one into our circle of friends.  That seems like a high aspiration, but it’s not all up to the leaders at that point.  When we can facilitate opportunities for relationships to happen, we are stepping up the possibility for one more woman to know she is a valued member of the human race.

That’s what it’s all about isn’t it? To connect people to each other and to the God who created them to be in relationship?

Over the eleven years of planning our spring women’s retreat, we’ve seen the group range from 48 to 77 in attendance, but the quantity is still not our main focus! We always ask, “What can we do to create an atmosphere where women will connect?”

The response may take on a different shape each year, but here are five key factors.

1) Create Fun!  Make your trip one where giggles can abound.  Where there’s laughter, healing will follow, and relationships will happen naturally.  We have ice breakers, skits, and generally role out the carpet for humor.

2) Create Intimacy!  The opportunity to share life’s burdens with another lightens the load.  One-on-one conversations and group discussions will assist the progress of new insights.  Interaction can take place at meal time or around the campfire or even while carpooling home.

3) Create Release!  Getting away from the daily routine of life is essential in order to let go of stress.  Provide walks outdoors for fresh air or indoor games for group interaction.  Have you seen grown women do cannonballs in the pool?!

4) Create Inspiration!  Give food for thought to get creative juices flowing, and to facilitate the opportunity for each to reconnect with the Lord.  Special words from speakers or quiet time with a Bible will enable the mind to cultivate renewal.

5) Create Security!  Remember the Cheers theme song?  “People are all the same;  You want to go where everybody knows your name.”  We all need a safe haven where we can feel like family, and that requires intentional effort and time to nurture.

When you focus on the individuals who come, they will bring their friends and build numbers later on. But it all begins with creating an occasion for women to remember that they are cherished and loved, one person at a time.

Sally

You can find more articles like this, here.

For more tips on Retreat Planning, see my ebook, How to Plan a Women’s Retreat!


Book Review: Back in the Saddle

Back in the Saddle

When a Wall Street broker returns west to get Back in the Saddle, he discovers his home at the Double S Ranch has undergone change in the nine years he’s been gone. Colt Stafford left home to make his own way in the world, and has now come home tired, disillusioned and filled with self-doubt. He encounters a bitter brother, a sick father, a bossy & antagonistic housekeeper and over a thousand calves due to be born in the next few weeks. Will he be able to re-enter the world of a multimillion-dollar beef enterprise? Or, will he find himself ostracized?

Author, Ruth Logan Herne creates memorable characters by unveiling layers gradually. Her research into the habits of the Gray’s Glen, Washington cowboys and the New York Stock Market financiers adds an engaging look at both worlds. She has more than half a million books in print, and after reading Back in the Saddle, it is no surprise as to why she is so well read.

The book is a prodigal story, set in a small western town nestled in a broad valley of rolling fields. It is a reminder of the way all of us try to find our way home, when we’ve exhausted our own resources.

The story arc takes characters into crises that change their perspective toward others. We struggle alongside, as they flesh out their own value system. Herne tackles judgmental attitudes while allowing the characters to grapple with issues of first impressions, faith and family.

Great book. I chose it for the story line, and was not disappointed. It provides a refreshing angle to the story of the Prodigal Son found in the Bible and a reminder of the use of a parable to convey truth. The addition of romance, secrets and the scenic backdrop make it a compelling read. I look forward to more from Ruth Logan Herne, as she expands her new western romance series!

Sally

FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

 

 

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Bible Study Review: Grin with Grace

Grin with Grace

When suffering hits, the last thing I want to do is grin; rejoice; be content. But Kathy Carlton Willis contends we not only will do those things, but we will thank the Lord for the trials that grow us. Her book, Grin With Grace is a call to return to the Source of life, the One who can use all things for His good purposes.

Kathy is well versed in the suffering department. From health issues to the nitty gritty of living life, she knows the need for a dose of joy. Her goal is to help all of us who feel so far from the goal. Is it a lofty goal? I don’t think so, because the pursuit of wisdom brings us closer to the One who gives it freely to those who ask. And that’s a good place to be.

Grin With Grace is sectioned off into humorous real-life stories, Bible study, life-application steps, turning faith into ministry and challenging scenarios to consider. The sections invite journaling and that reflection invites action. Never does she leave us to sit on our discoveries, but pushes us to share them with others. Our women’s group found the conversation starters helpful and the personal approach to faith, endearing. We used the material as a springboard toward more transparency in our faith and encouragement of each other. The last chapter, especially, created an opportunity to voice our support through benediction, or blessing.

One of the ways Kathy teaches us about the dependability of Grace, is to cause us to look at the effects of our promises. Do we say what we mean, and mean what we say? She calls us to a higher accountability as we mirror the character of God. And such is the tough love found throughout the book; spoken with compassion, yet straight and to the point. She reminds us to seek the One who is enough, so that we won’t try to be sufficient in our own resources. And that is the power in Grin With Grace; truth cushioned with kindness and love.

Make time for this study on grace. It will open your worldview to the characteristics of a grace-filled life, and equip you to look for the touches of God in grace-filled moments!

Sally

Check out the Bible Study Expo, for an interview with Kathy Carlton Willis!

 

 


Bible Study Expo

2016 Poster

Marnie Swedberg annually hosts an event that has become a go-to resource for me. She invites authors to share the stories behind their Bible studies, and in the process, makes the writer more real. It brings a smile to follow the conversation threads during this event; the fast paced comments on the Facebook party happen at the same time as The Bible Study Expo, and the enthusiasm is contagious. It’s fun, because these gals have become friends. As we dialogue over author quotes, we encourage, inspire and enjoy one another!
Maybe you’ve wanted to lead a Bible study, but never had the courage to step out? I’ve blogged about that at “Why lead a Bible Study?” Here, I want to tell you how I’ve benefitted by connecting with authors. Listening to their voices online, you can hear the passion for the subject they researched. Marnie interviews them, they share behind-the-scenes discoveries, and we all come away enriched by the treasures in God’s Word.

A few years back, Sue Edwards was involved in the Expo, with her book, Ephesians: Discovering Your Identity and Purpose in Christ. I connected with Sue’s work, even though she was not able to attend at the last minute, and used it with my Women’s Bible Study group. I had the opportunity to participate in launching an online study of Ephesians on Sue’s Facebook Page. We also went on to use another in the series, Luke: Discovering Healing in Jesus’ Words to Women.
This year, Kathy Carlton Willis is on the docket with her book, Grin With Grace. Our Women’s Class just wrapped up this study, and I’m looking forward to hearing more stories from Kathy’s quirky take on life.
How can you benefit from attending the Expo? You develop friendships, find studies to share, and more fully appreciate the author’s work. Besides, you may be one of the winners of the door prizes from Sarah Young, Logan Wolfram, Raechel Myers, Barbara Roose, Sherry Poundstone, Kathy Carlton Willis, Jeanne Brooks, Sherri Burgess, or Gwen Smith!
Come join us at The Bible Study Expo, Thursday, March 17, 2016!

Noon – 2 Pacific

1-3 Mountain

2-4 Central

3-5 Eastern
Sally


Book Review: Afghanistan: 179 Days of Teachable Moments

Af

Afghanistan: 179 Days of Teachable Moments is a book of daily devotionals from a soldier living in combat zone. The author’s goal? To find the voice of God in small moments.

The author, Florence Robyn Smith, served a six month deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan. Her assignment as Executive Officer (XO) on base gives a unique perspective to the daily workings of military life. She speaks of assignments in such a way that you can taste dusty air and feel bumpy roads filled with craters. The threat of Taliban Insurgents and rebel attacks gives the devotions a surreal element. And the journal of daily activities shapes a new understanding of the sacrifices made by soldiers.

From the military exercises to the mundane tasks of life, there is something for everyone within these pages. Smith offers the gift of looking at the intricacies of daily life and pulling out a scriptural truth, which she calls, Teachable Moments. Smith says, “Playing with sin is like playing with a hand grenade.”

She says she learned to love the people she served, both on base and off. I was pleasantly surprised to learn of the soldiers buying shoes for the Afghan people, through initiatives like the Afghan Women’s Education Center, a non-profit organization providing assistance to women and children.

I am grateful for Florence Robyn Smith’s service, and for all who strive to keep our country safe. We have no idea the dangers our military face on our behalf, and in a largely thankless position. But they do so day after day, away from family and friends. Smith also uses this as a Teachable Moment, encouraging all to leave comfort in order to “enter into a realm of His presence that is extraordinary.”

Get this book of devotions for a soldier in the military or for a soldier in the Lord’s army. It will equip for battle on the frontlines of life!

Sally

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


The Tweet-able Bible

Bible memory

Do you have a difficult time memorizing passages? I can work and work on committing a verse to memory, then go completely blank when it comes time to recall it. But I’ve found a 5 Step Method that helps me.

It’s easier to remember the context of a verse when you boil it down to the foundation. And that’s what happens when you tweet the text. Twitter allows 140 characters, your take on the passage is condensed to fit, and voila! You’ve got a Bible passage that’s planted in your heart and mind because you’ve taken it apart and applied it.

Here are some of my favorites:

True worship = total surrender. Romans 12:1-2

There is no flaw in God’s Word! Psalm 18:30

Am I once muddy, always muddy? No! I am washed, set apart & proven right in God’s sight! 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

And this, from a sermon my Hubby preached:

The 5 Step Method:

  1. Take the subject and verb, look for the affect they have on the topic.             God’s kindness leads us toward repentance. Romans 2:4
  2. Is there a cause & effect? Highlight that.                                                               When I put God first, He takes care of the rest. Matthew 6:33
  3. Can you bring out a formula?                                                                           Godliness + contentment = great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6
  4. Look for lists, characteristics or benefits.                                                              Sound judgment & discernment = life, safety, stability, lack of fear & sweet rest. Proverbs 3:21-24
  5. Is there a command, instruction or promise?                                                         Speak up! Proverbs 31:8-9

When a verse speaks to your heart, it becomes a beacon to a great truth the Lord wants to spotlight. Your task in tweeting it, is not to rewrite the verse, but to whet the appetite of your readers so they will want to read it for themselves. Add a link to the verse so it is easily accessible. I like www.biblegateway.com; others use www.bible.com. Have fun with it; it will bring light to your time with God in a refreshing way!

O Father, draw me! John 6:44

Sally @SallyJFerguson

Originally published at sallyswords


What Drew me to my Spouse?

Heart at the human hands
Heart at the human hands

In the early days, I was attracted to Roy’s curls at the base of his neck, and the way he kept his mustache and beard so well trimmed. He was ambitious, maintaining four part-time jobs in order to put himself through school. And he had a thirst to follow God, in every arena of life.

Through the years I’ve watched him hurdle obstacles that seemed insurmountable. And circumstances that felt unredeemable. Yet he did it hanging onto God’s promises, and trusting the Lord to see us through.

Now we are grandparents. In this season of life, I am so grateful for the memories that have become building blocks. They are a foundation of trust, faithfulness and perseverance. I am grateful for his loyal companionship in spite of the times I’ve acted in a manner that was less than attractive.

I’ve learned to give instead of always expecting more.

I’ve learned to respect, even when I didn’t understand.

And I’ve learned to appreciate the days we have together, for there is no guarantee of tomorrow.

On this Valentine’s Day, celebrate your spouse with words of affirmation. Remind him that he is still your hero. He needs to know you are still in his corner, because the world has a way of tearing you apart.

Sally

How have you learned to appreciate your spouse more over the years?