Wednesday, March 31, 2010

52 Things Kids Need From a Dad by Jay Payleitner

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:

52 Things Kids Need from a Dad

Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to David P. Bartlett - Print & Internet Publicist - of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Jay Payleitner is one of the top freelance Christian radio producers in the United States. He has worked with the Josh McDowell Ministry, Voice of the Martyrs, Jesus Freaks Radio, and many others. He’s also a wrestling coach and author of several books, including 40 Days to Your Best Life for Men. Jay and his wife live in Illinois, where they spend a lot time with their mostly adult children.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736927239
ISBN-13: 978-0736927239


Kids Need Their Dad…

To Help Them Beat the Odds

Think of the top ten social crises of our time: Drug abuse. Teenage pregnancy. School shootings. Gangs. Spiritual confusion. Overcrowded prisons. AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Domestic violence. Drunk driving. And so on.

We can make the case that the most devastating rips in our social fabric would be radically reduced if dads were getting the job done at home.

Statistically, what happens when dads aren’t around?

Eighty-five percent of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home.
Children who live apart from their fathers are 4.3 times more likely to smoke cigarettes as teenagers than children growing up with their fathers in the home.
Fatherless boys and girls are twice as likely to drop out of high school; twice as likely to end up in jail; four times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems.
Seventy-five percent of all adolescent patients in chemical-abuse centers come from fatherless homes.
Three out of four teenage suicides occur in households where a parent has been absent.
Adolescent females between the ages of 15 and 19 years reared in homes without fathers are significantly more likely to engage in premarital sex than adolescent females reared in homes with both a mother and a father.
Sound hopeless? Just the opposite. If father absence is devastating, leading to all kinds of bad decisions and societal ills, then father presence is the solution, right?

This hard data, along with all kinds of anecdotal evidence, is rarely brought into the light. Even with all the research, too many segments of society express little regard for fatherhood. The media, school administrators, television scriptwriters, judges, church leaders, and state agencies seem to say fathers don’t matter. Or they’ve given up on fathers. Or worse, we’re told fathers are part of the problem. The result is, men are driven away from their families, fathers are disenfranchised, and dads are afraid to hug their own kids.

But the inverse is true and must be said. Men need to hear, “Dad, you matter!” “Your children need you.” “Your wife (or the mother of your children) needs you to be more involved and more invested in the daily lives of your kids.” Without strong male role models, families suffer both short- and long-term. Children make bad decisions. Communities weaken. Government agencies flounder to fix problems after the fact. Taxes go up. Our streets aren’t safe. As soon as they graduate high school, young people turn their back on Jesus. The vibrant potential of the next generation is lost—in many cases, for eternity.

An oft-quoted survey found that if a mother attends church regularly with her children, but without their father, only 2 percent of those children will become regular church attendees. But if a father attends church regularly with his children, even without their mother, an astounding 44 percent choose to become regular church attendees on their own.

Yes, dads matter. Do you want more proof?

All you have to do is ask a kid.


Just opening this book and reading this far proves you want to be the kind of dad your kids need. You can do it, Dad.

“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”

Sigmund Freud (1856–1939)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In the Midst of It All by Tiffany L. Warren

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:

In the Midst of it All

Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (February 22, 2010)

***Special thanks to Miriam Parker - Associate Director, Online Marketing - at Hachette Book Group for sending me a review copy.***


Tiffany L. Warren, is an author, playwright, songwriter, mother and wife. Her debut novel What a Sista Should Do, was released in June of 2005 and has ministered to over 50,000 readers. Her second book, Farther than I Meant to Go, Longer than I Meant to Stay was a national bestseller. In 2006, Tiffany and her husband, Brent, founded Warren Productions and released their first gospel musical. What a Sista Should Do - The Stage Play debuted in Cleveland, OH at the famed Allen Theatre.

Tiffany is also the visionary behind the Faith and Fiction Fellowship tour. Presently, the authors have visited groups in Atlanta, Houston, New York, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Charlotte.

Tiffany's third novel, The Bishop's Daughter was released in January 2009. Tiffany resides in northern Texas with her husband Brent and their five children.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (February 22, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446195162
ISBN-13: 978-0446195164


To read the chapter, press the the button that says, "Browse Inside This Book":

Monday, March 29, 2010

Storylines: Your Path to Understanding the Bible by Mike Pilavachi and Andy Croft

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:

Storylines: Your Map to Understanding the Bible

David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings - Senior Media Specialist - of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Mike Pilavachi is the founder and public face of the U.K.’s biggest Christian youth event, Soul Survivor (25,000 annual attendance), and senior pastor of the Soul Survivor church in Watford, North London. He is the author of Live the Life, For the Audience of One, Wasteland?: Encountering God in the Desert, and Worship, Evangelism, Justice.

Visit the Mike's MySpace.

Andy Croft is a young twenty-something who has just been awarded a First Class Theology degree from Cambridge University. He is due to be the next leader of Soul Survivor.

Visit the authors' Website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434764753
ISBN-13: 978-1434764751


The Jesus Storyline

Years ago, when I was in my teens and Mike was having his first midlife crisis, a series of very popular picture books came out. Perhaps you remember them: They were called Where’s Waldo? The basic idea was you would look at a big picture that would tell a story; there’d be loads of characters in it and tons of stuff going on. Waldo (a little bloke in a red-and-white shirt) was hiding somewhere in the picture. Sometimes he’d be up a tree, sometimes under water, sometimes he’d be in a massive crowd, often he’d be peering out from behind a corner, and almost always he’d be hidden from plain view. The challenge was to find him hidden in the story the picture told.

Two thousand years ago Jesus said to a bunch of Pharisees, “Where’s Waldo?” But he said it like this, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.

These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39–40). Jesus wasn’t talking about the New Testament, because his biography hadn’t been written yet, so he must have been talking about the Old Testament. But how could he have been? Everyone knows the Old Testament was about Israel and Moses, David, Abraham, Joshua, and others. Did Jesus get this one wrong? Had he eaten a rotten fig for breakfast? Or …have we all been missing something? Could it be possible that, like Waldo in the picture books, Jesus appears hidden all over the Old Testament?

You probably already know that Jesus is all over the Bible; in the Old Testament he’s concealed, in the New Testament he’s revealed. Finding Jesus in the Old Testament is not just a game, like finding Waldo. It’s more like a treasure hunt, and it brings the story of God to life in a whole new way. Throughout the Old Testament we see strong hints, images, and prophecies about Jesus. In the New Testament those hints, images, and prophecies are unveiled; the curtain is ripped apart, from top to bottom, to reveal the star of the whole show. Let’s go on a journey together to find Jesus in the crowd of Old Testament heroes.


The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. (Gen. 6:5–8)

The human race was so messed up there was no way to straighten it out. God decided to bring a flood and wipe out every creature. There was just one problem. Noah.

Noah and God were friends, and Noah was a righteous man. To destroy every living creature would have meant the unjust of killing his friend. God longed to save Noah, and so he commanded him to build a massive ark. We’ve been to the Middle East, and in case you hadn’t realized, it’s a desert! Despite how stupid he looked, Noah obeyed God to the point of humiliation. But it meant that, when the rains hit, Noah was saved. What’s more, his whole family came with him. Why was Noah’s family saved? Were they righteous? No. Noah

was the only righteous one around, but because they were attached to him, his family got to come along!

The first hero of the Old Testament is our first signpost to Jesus. The flood didn’t solve the problem of humanity’s wickedness. God’s righteous judgment is still that humanity deserves to die in its wickedness and be cut off from him forever. However, God has found one totally righteous man, even more righteous than Noah. This righteous man obeyed God to the point of utter humiliation, dying on a cross. What’s more, all the unrighteous people who attach themselves to him are saved. After the flood a rainbow was the sign of God’s promises; today it is the cross. All who shelter in Jesus, the ark of salvation, are not wiped out but given eternal life. Sometimes when we read about the cross, it can seem mysterious—something that’s difficult to get our heads around. Discovering things like this throughout the Old Testament on one level helps us to understand it better—the patterns of salvation often reoccur. But on another level it speaks of the wonder and increases the mystery. Thousands of years before the birth of Jesus, God was carefully laying out the foundations for his master plan …

Abraham and Isaac

Several chapters later in Genesis, we come across a strange scene. In Genesis 22 we find an old man holding a knife over the chest of a young boy he’s about to sacrifice. Years ago God had promised the old man that he would have a son, and after an age of waiting, Isaac was born. The baby became a boy, and Abraham loved him dearly. It was at that point God said to Abraham, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about” (Gen. 22:2).

How could God command someone to sacrifice his own son? And yet—“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son …” (John 3:16). The words of John, describing God’s giving of his beloved Son, deliberately echo those of Genesis 22:2. God asked no more of Abraham than God himself was willing to give. God gave up his only Son, whom he loved, completely out of choice and love for us.

The old man obeyed God: “Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey” (Gen. 22:3). Father, son, and donkey headed to the region of Moriah. When Mike and I visited Israel, we were amazed to discover that the region of Moriah is where, hundreds of years after Abraham, Jerusalem was built! And so when we read about Jesus entering Jerusalem riding on a donkey, we’re reading about another father, another son, and another donkey riding into

exactly the same area Abraham had been told to head to. In little, subtle ways—ways that we wouldn’t notice unless we looked for them—God is laying down hints in the Old Testament of the plans he has for his Son in the New Testament.

When Abraham and Isaac arrived, we read that the father placed the wood for the sacrifice on the back of his son: “Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife” (Gen. 22:6). Isaac then carried the wood for his own sacrifice up a hill in the region of Moriah. Isn’t this amazing? Centuries later,the Father placed the cross, the wood for the sacrifice, on the back of his Son. Jesus then carried the wood for his own sacrifice up a hill in the region of Moriah.

Upon reaching the top of the hill, Isaac said to Abraham, “The fire and wood are here … but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Gen. 22: 7). “Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son’” (Gen. 22:8). Abraham then tied his son to the wood and was about to kill him when the Lord cried for him to stop. God told Abraham to sacrifice a ram he saw caught in a hedge. Rejoicing, Abraham took it and sacrificed it in the place of his son. “So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided’”(Gen. 22:14). Two thousand years later

on a mountain in the region of Moriah, the Lord did provide. He provided not a ram but a lamb for the offering … the Lamb of God. He is “my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). This provision of Jesus for us was something God had planned and intended from the beginning, before any of us were born. The storyline of Jesus running through the life of Abraham and Isaac shows us that even before most of the people in the Old Testament had been born, God knew what was going to happen, and he knew what it was going to cost him. He knew what you were going to cost—and then he went ahead anyway.


So we move on to Joseph. Jesus is everywhere in his story. God’s plan from the beginning, revealed to Joseph in his dreams (Gen. 37), was that he would achieve a high status and bring blessing and salvation to many others through that ruling status. Jesus was born to rule. He

was born to be King, and because of his kingship many would find salvation.

Joseph’s brothers became jealous and did what many of us want to do with our siblings: They sold him into slavery. Joseph was sold to merchants for twenty pieces of silver. Years later Jesus was sold to the Jewish leaders for thirty pieces of silver. Just think—if only it had been the same price, it would have been a perfect parallel … what a shame … But wait! The Bible tells us that Joseph was sold for the going price of a slave in 1900 BC and Jesus for the going price of a

slave in AD 30. The price had gone up, but God had accounted for inflation!

Joseph was eventually sold to Potiphar, a high official in Egypt, and soon became his right-hand man. Mrs. Potiphar tried to seduce Joseph. She was very subtle—“Come to bed with me!” she begged. “No way, José!” Joseph replied, and when Mrs. Potiphar came in one door, he ran out the other. Jesus was tempted in the desert by the Devil. The Devil offered him all the kingdoms of the world if only Jesus would bow down and worship him. In response to the Devil’s seduction, Jesus said, “Get lost!” (or words to that effect). By not sleeping with Potiphar’s wife, Joseph resisted abusing the power his master had given him; by not “getting into bed” with the Devil, Jesus refused to abuse the power God had given him.

Mrs. Potiphar accused Joseph of a crime he did not commit. He was unjustly sentenced and thrown into the deepest dungeon. Jesus, years later, was accused of crimes he did not commit and was unjustly sentenced. While Joseph was serving his sentence, two criminals came to join him. Years later, while Jesus was serving his sentence on the cross, two criminals joined him. You can read in Genesis 40 about how Joseph, through the interpretation of a dream, spoke words of life to one of those criminals. Joseph promised he would be saved, and the criminal was later released. You can also read in Luke 23 about how, as he was dying between two criminals, Jesus spoke words of life to one. Jesus promised he would be saved, and we can be sure that criminal is now with Jesus in paradise.

Joseph was eventually released from prison. From the lowest pits of jail, he became Pharaoh’s prime minister, the highest position in Egypt. He named his second son Ephraim (meaning “fruitful”) and said, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering” (Gen. 41:52). Egypt was an alien land that was not his home. When God became man, he was born into an alien land that was not his home, and yet it was in this land of suffering that God made Jesus fruitful. He was raised up from the lowest point—death—and is now seated at the right hand of God.

Famine struck the whole area, and Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to buy food. They were reunited with Joseph, the brother they’d sold into a life of slavery. Instead of having them killed, Joseph forgave them, assuring them, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:20). He went on to save the lives of all his brothers, of those who had sinned against him. He brought them from a place of famine and death to one of abundant life.

The Jewish religious leaders, Pilate, and the Roman soldiers—as our representatives—accomplished what they intended in harming Jesus to the point of death on the cross. Jesus, as he was dying, cried out, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). We, the human race, meant the death of Jesus for harm, but God meant it for good. He intended it to accomplish what is now being fulfilled, a passage from certain death to abundant life, the saving of many lives.

Isn’t this incredible? Joseph was born to be a ruler, he was sold into slavery, he was severely tempted, he went through great suffering, he predicted the salvation of one he suffered with, he was raised up again by God, he forgave those who’d sinned against him, and he declared it had happened that many might be saved.

Jesus’ storyline is central to the story of the Bible, and it runs like a bullet through the story of Joseph. This is more than just an amazing biblical parallel—it carries with it a message for us today. Ever felt insecure about God’s love? Ever been a little unsure as to whether or not he’ll bring about what he’s promised? Ever messed it up and thought, “It’s been one too many; God’s probably going to quit on me this time”? We can draw deep confidence from the fact that God planned his death on the cross. The way that Joseph’s life prophesies Jesus’ shows in an incredible way that God always thought we were going to be worth it—his decision to come to earth wasn’t a last-minute afterthought. John’s gospel tells us that Jesus is from “the beginning,” and Joseph’s story backs that up—he is from the beginning, and he was always going to bring about the ending. This picture is yet another guarantee to our hearts of the love God has—and has always had—for us.


Hundreds of years later the descendants of Joseph and his brothers had undergone a population explosion. They were now the people of Israel and were being used and abused as slaves by the Egyptians.

God heard the cry of those he loved, now slaves to Pharaoh, and through Moses he set out to do something about it. We read that, at the start of Exodus (chapter 3), the Lord revealed himself to Moses and commanded him to go and save the Israelites. Before he went anywhere, Moses wanted to know who this burning bush of a God was: “Who shall I say has sent me?” he asked. God replied, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Ex. 3:14). God’s name was “I AM.”

Also, Moses was understandably a bit nervous about taking on Egypt single-handedly, and he asked God, “Who am I, that I should go?” This time God ignored his question. He didn’t say “You’re Moses, kung fu champion!” He just replied, “I will be with you” (Ex. 3:12). The only thing Moses needed to know on this account was that God had his back.

So God’s rescue operation for a people who were suffering as slaves involved one man. The reason this one man was going to save anyone was because God was with him. Who was this God that was with him? I AM.

Hundreds of years later God again heard the cry of those he loved who were slaves to sin, and through Jesus he set out to do something about it. Moses had asked the God of the burning

bush who he was. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Who do you think you are?” (John 8:53). Amazingly Jesus said in response, “‘Before Abraham was born, I am!’ At this, they picked up stones to stone him …” (8:58–59). Some of the Jews responded with outrage; they wanted to kill Jesus. Why? Because he was claiming to be God. When they asked him who he was, he told them he was I AM. The God I AM went with Moses to save a people; the God I AM came in

person to save a world. One of Jesus’ titles is Emmanuel. It means “God with us.”

Moses confronted the evil powers of Egypt, defeated them—and Pharaoh released Israel. They started the hike out of Egypt, but before long Pharaoh changed his mind; he sent everything he had after them. If we pick up the trail in Exodus 14, we find Israel trapped. In front of them lay the Red Sea, and behind them the Egyptian army was closing in. They had no options. Then God told Moses to raise his staff out over the waves of the Red Sea. Moses obeyed, and the waters parted. Through Moses’ actions a way to freedom and life opened up—Israel now had one option! They passed through the waters and passed from death to life.

In front of all of us lies death; in and around all of us is the evil of this age. Do we have any options? Miraculously God provided an option for all who are trapped. Jesus defeated the evil power of this age (Satan); he conquered sin and death. Through Jesus’ actions a way to freedom and life has opened up. We now have one option! In following Jesus we can be saved. Like the Israelites following Moses, on our journey we, too, pass through water in our crossing from

death to life: “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5). Ours is the water of baptism.

Moses’ and Israel’s hike through the wilderness went on for years and years. Mike and I recently went hiking down the Grand Canyon. It lasted for hours rather than years. Still, when we walked through the Grand Canyon, it was baking hot and hard work. After an hour or so, Mike started to moan … “I’m thirsty, I want some water!” He’s Greek, so he tends to exaggerate, and he started to whine, “This is the end, I’m going to die!” Throughout the hike down, Mike complained, moaned, and whined at me. First he wanted water. Then he wanted food. After he’d eaten five PowerBars, he wanted a different sort of food … and so it went …

Moses was in a similar situation in the desert with Israel. They moaned, they whined, they groaned, and they rebelled. If we pick up the story in Exodus 32, we read that the people of Israel had just built themselves another god! Despite all God’s amazing miracles they still mutinied and wanted to worship gods of their own hands. When Moses discovered this, he exclaimed in horror, “You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make

atonement for your sin” (Ex. 32:30).

Earlier, God, knowing what the people of Israel were up to, said to Moses, “Leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation” (Ex. 32:10).

What an offer! God told Moses to get out of the way; he was going to destroy Israel and start again with Moses’ own children. Moses had a chance to get rid of the nation that had been a pain in his backside ever since leaving Egypt, and to start his own dynasty! There were moments when, had God appeared to me at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and offered to kill Mike, I would have replied, “Brilliant idea, Lord! In fact I’ll help you!”

Moses didn’t respond like that. He didn’t ask for a machine gun. Instead, after seeing Israel’s sin, he said this: “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written” (Ex. 32:31–32).

Astonishing! Instead of offering to help God wipe out Israel, Moses asked to be wiped out in their place! God refused Moses’ offer. He had another plan. Moses’ offer was well meant, but he didn’t realize he didn’t have the right qualifications. God didn’t blot Moses out for the sake of Israel’s sin. He already had someone else in mind. About 1,400 years later it was the life of Jesus, not the life of Moses, that was blotted out to make up for sin.

Sometimes the Bible can seem a little disjointed—we can read one story and wonder if it’s got anything at all to do with the one we were reading the week before. Jesus is the center and the heart of the Bible; again here we see how the life and actions of Moses point forward to who Jesus is and what he was coming to do.

[Note: Mike would like it to be known that he was not allowed to contribute to this section, and in fact disassociates himself from the accuracy of the illustration used above … I, however, insist it’s true, and I’ve got the emotional scars to prove it.]


David was born in the small town of Bethlehem. Samuel the prophet declared he was chosen by God to be king of Israel. When Samuel poured the oil onto David, God anointed him for this task. Soon afterward David fought the great battle with Goliath. We find the site of the battle in 1 Samuel 17. The people of Israel were lined up against their archenemies, the Philistines. The huge Philistine champion would daily shout to all the Israelite soldiers, “C’mon then, if you think you’re tough enough!” None of Israel’s soldiers thought they were tough enough, and no one would go and fight Goliath. This went on for weeks until David the shepherd boy arrived and volunteered. He went out alone to face the enemy as the representative of his people, Israel. David won a great victory without using the weapons of the world—he refused to wear a sword or armor. Instead he used a sling, the weapon of a shepherd boy, and it was in this apparent weakness that he defeated Goliath. David declared, “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s …” (1 Sam. 17:47).

Jesus was born in the same small town of Bethlehem. At Jesus’ baptism John the Baptist declared that Jesus had been chosen by God to be the Savior of the world, and the Holy Spirit was poured out on him (Luke 3:22)—Jesus was spiritually anointed for his task. Having been prepared in this way, Jesus faced the Enemy of the human race, Satan. He entered the battlefield of the desert where he encountered and withstood Satan for forty days. Three years later he went alone to the cross as the representative of the whole world. He won the victory over Satan without using the weapons of the world. Instead Jesus, the Good Shepherd, won the victory in

the weakness of the cross; it was not to be by sword or spear that the Lord would save but by laying down his life for the sheep.

David was anointed to be king of Israel. Jesus, the Christ (which means “the anointed one”), was called “The King of the Jews” at his crucifixion. Jesus was also called “the Son of David,” and people expected the Messiah to be like David. Many expected a David-type military leader who would arrive to kick the Romans’ heads in. Jesus was like David, but not in the ways that were expected.

Of all David’s psalms, Psalm 23 is the most well known, but the psalm that comes immediately before it is an incredible prophecy about the death of Jesus. It is one of the so-called “messianic

psalms” (because it points ahead to the Messiah), and it begins with “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus knew his Scriptures, and so when he cried these words on the cross, he knew he was quoting from Psalm 22. Before we go on to look at this psalm further, we suggest you put this book down, open your Bible, and read Psalm 22 for yourself. Where do you see Jesus in this psalm?

Now let’s look together:

The psalm that begins with the words “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” continues with many other striking references to Jesus on the cross.

David says, “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: ‘He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him’” (22:6–8). The cries of scorn heaped on Jesus by those present at the crucifixion are almost identical:

In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” (Matt. 27:41–43)

The psalm continues, “From my mother’s womb you have been my God” (Ps. 22:10). If anyone could say those words with more integrity than David, it was the son of Mary. The psalmist goes on, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death” (22:15). The phrase “my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth” is simply another way of saying “I’m thirsty.” Jesus said on the cross, “I am thirsty” (John 19:28).

The next verse is translated, “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet” (Ps. 22:16). David wrote these words hundreds of years before the Roman punishment of crucifixion had even been invented.…

He continues, “They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing” (22:18). Luke tells us that at the scene of Jesus’ crucifixion “… they divided up his clothes by casting lots” (Luke 23:34).

Psalm 22:22 says, “I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.” The stunning thing about this verse is that the writer to the Hebrews in the New Testament tells us that Jesus said it too: “So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says, ‘I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises’” (Heb. 2:11–12).

Perhaps most amazing of all, the psalm that started with the words that began Jesus’ crucifixion—“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”—ends with these five words: “for he has done it” (Ps. 22:31). Only Jesus was able to put these five words into the first person: “It is finished” (John 19:30). For he has done it—it is finished.

How amazing that David, without knowing it, should have written these words for the “Son of David,” his Lord, to speak on the cross a thousand years later!


We have listed just a few of the references to Jesus in the Old Testament. There are many others. We encourage you to go on a treasure hunt of your own! None of this is to say that the stories in

the Old Testament don’t have a power, force, and meaning of their own—they do very much! In this chapter, however, we are only interested in tracing the storyline of Jesus through the Old Testament. It’s like going to an IMAX cinema and being given special 3–D goggles when you go in. Try watching the screen without the goggles, and the pictures are there—though slightly blurred. Once you’ve put on the 3–D goggles, there’s suddenly a whole new, sharp, remarkable

dimension that comes into view. We’ve just watched some events of the lives of only a few of the characters of the Old Testament—Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, and David—wearing our 3–D goggles; even with only this brief snapshot, some of what was concealed has been revealed. What we need to remember is that this isn’t just a clever joining of dots to make neat parallels—this is rich and glorious truth. It’s the plan of salvation for our lives laid out through the lives of the Old Testament heroes. It’s part of the mystery and wonder of God that he was able to weave the story of Jesus into the lives of his most faithful followers in the Old Testament in such an incredible way. In the same way, he is weaving the story of Jesus into our lives and our individual stories.

The Messianic Prophecies

There are also over three hundred prophecies in the Old Testament that are fulfilled in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. As we said at the beginning of this chapter, Jesus identified himself in the Old Testament when he said to the Pharisees, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39–40).

At the end of the chapter, we’ve listed tons of the messianic prophecies, and we hope you’ll take the time to open your Bible and discover more of them. But for now, we’d like to look at one of

the most significant passages, found in Isaiah 53. Before this chapter Isaiah has been talking about the plight of Israel, how they have turned from their God, worshipped idols, and broken his laws by acting unjustly toward one another. The book of Isaiah begins before the exile in Babylon and then continues during the exile. Isaiah begins to speak hope to a hopeless people. He declares that God has not given up on his people and describes the coming of an anointed

one, a Messiah who will bring salvation to Israel. In chapter 53 this Messiah is described in detail. We again urge you, put down this book, open the Bible to Isaiah 53, and read it. Too much explanation of this chapter is unnecessary; it speaks clearly for itself.

In Isaiah 53:2 we notice that when God came to earth, he didn’t look like Brad Pitt. We are also told the coming king would be “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (53:3). This is key, as many of the Jews were expecting a victorious and powerful leader. Verse 6 lays out the sin for which the servant of God would die, the sin of human beings choosing their own way instead of God’s. This verse reminds us that the heart of sin is going astray, choosing to live

independently from him; the choice made by Adam and Eve. Verse 7 speaks of the fact that when Jesus, the Lamb of God, was brought before his accusers, he did not defend himself. Jesus himself even quotes verse 12 at the Last Supper in Luke 22:37: “It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” Isaiah 53 was fulfilled hundreds of years later when Jesus, dying on the cross, “bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (53:12).

We began this chapter by saying that Jesus is concealed in the Old Testament and revealed in the New. The fact is that Jesus hasn’t been concealed very well—we’ve looked at only a few examples, yet pictures and prophecies of Jesus are all over the place!

What does all this tell us? First, Jesus Christ is the central character of the whole Bible. He does not just appear in the last scene. The person of Jesus is, if you like, the glue that holds the whole Bible together. Secondly, this tells us that Jesus was not Plan B. His birth, life, death, and resurrection were written into the script from the very beginning. Our sin and rebellion did not take God by surprise, and Father, Son, and Holy Spirit did not need to have an emergency

cabinet meeting in heaven to work out the rescue plan. Before creation began, God knew that he would have to become part of, and suffer with, his creation. (Take a look at Revelation 13:8.)

A wise couple counts the cost before deciding to have a baby. There is the possibility of several months of vomiting followed by hours of agony for one partner. Then years of sleepless nights for both, followed by the expenditure of ridiculous amounts of money on toys, school uniforms, etc. Then more sleepless nights as they wonder where the teenage offspring are at 2:00 a.m. and even more expenditure if they try and send them to college.

A couple who has counted the cost of all this, but who has decided to love deeply and with commitment, decides to pay the price. God counted the cost and decided to pay the price. From the beginning he said we were worth it. From the beginning he said you were worth it. The whole of the Bible, the Word of God, is a revelation of Jesus, the Word made flesh.

A few years ago a friend of ours proposed to his girlfriend. He went all out. The day before the proposal he went into the countryside and laid an elaborate trail of messages. It began with a note hidden in the branch of a tree. The note was a love letter but also directions and clues as to where the next note was. She soon found, under a rock, another love letter with a clue as to where the next was hidden. Then there was another, inside a bottle concealed by a hedge. This went on for hours until she came to the final love letter. With this love letter, buried in the earth, was a box. When she opened the box, she saw the engagement ring, and he was already kneeling. The fact that he had gone to such a huge effort and carefully laid this elaborate trail was all to show her just how much he desired and loved her. Most women will never forget their wedding day; this woman will never forget the day he proposed. It was spectacular. He planned it down to the last detail; he left the clues everywhere, and it meant the world to her.

In the same way, we, as the bride of Christ (and we know this can seem corny), should be rejoicing and know ourselves to be much loved because our God has laid the paper trail throughout the Old Testament. He has hidden the clues of his love and amazing salvation.

It is our prayer that as you’ve read this chapter you have gone on a journey of discovery, not simply of Jesus, but of how deep God’s love is for us—of how he loved you before you were even conceived.

Jesus Storyline Paperchase:

– John 5:39–40 (Jesus asks, “Where’s Waldo?”)

Pictures in the lives of the Old Testament characters

– Genesis 6–9 (Noah)

– Genesis 22 (Abraham and Isaac)

– Genesis 37–50 (Joseph)

– Exodus 3, 14, 32 (Moses)

– 1 Samuel 17; Psalm 22 (David)

Messianic prophecies

As we said before, there are over three hundred prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament that are fulfilled in the New Testament. To help you get started discovering the Jesus storyline throughout Scripture, we’ve listed a few of them for you, and we pray that God will reveal wonderful things to you as you study!

1. The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem

Micah 5:2–5a

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace.

2. He will be King

Isaiah 9:6–7

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

Daniel 7:13–14

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was

given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Zechariah 9:9

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

3. He will be a descendant of David/family lineage

2 Samuel 7:12–16

When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the

one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

Psalm 132:11

The LORD swore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke: “One of your own descendants I will place on your throne …”

Jeremiah 23:5–6

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our


Jeremiah 33:15

In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land.

Isaiah 11:1

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

Numbers 24:17

I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the sons of Sheth.

4. He will be born of a virgin

Isaiah 7:14

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

5. He will be a priest

Zechariah 6:11–13

Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak. Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.”

Psalm 110:4

The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

6. He will be Lord

Psalm 110:1

The LORD says to my LORD: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

7. He will be God

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Jeremiah 23:6

This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.

8. He will bring salvation

Isaiah 49:6

He says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Zechariah 9:9

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

9. He will atone for sins

Isaiah 53:4–6

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for

our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:7–8

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

Isaiah 53:10–12

Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.

For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

10. He will heal the sick/preach the good news

Isaiah 61:1 (and whole chapter)

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners …

Isaiah 35:5–6

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.

11. He will teach in parables

Psalm 78:2

I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old …

12. He will be a light to the Gentiles

Isaiah 42:6

I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles …

Isaiah 49:6

I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.

13. He will enter Jerusalem riding a donkey

Zechariah 9:9

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of

a donkey.

14. He will be rejected/mocked/suffer and die

Isaiah 53:1–3 (and verses 4–12)

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Psalm 118:22

The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.

Psalm 22:7–8

All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: “He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”

15. His enemies will pierce his hands and feet, divide his clothes among themselves, and cast dice for his garments; and he will be served by future generations

Psalm 22:16–18

Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments

among them and cast lots for my clothing.

Psalm 22:30

Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.

16. He will be betrayed by a friend

Psalm 41:9

Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.

17. He will be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver

Zechariah 11:12

I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.

18. The thirty pieces of silver will be thrown to the potter.

Zechariah 11:13

And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome

price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver

and threw them into the house of the LORD to the potter.

19. He will be beaten, mocked, and spat upon

Isaiah 50:6

I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.

20. His bones will not be broken

Psalm 34:19–20

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.

21. His side will be pierced

Zechariah 12:10

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him

as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

22. He will be raised from the dead

Isaiah 53:8–12

By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Psalm 16:10

… because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

Psalm 49:15

But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself.

23. He will ascend to heaven

Psalm 68:18

When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men, even from the rebellious—that you, O LORD God, might dwell there.

Discussion Questions:

• Are you surprised at the extent to which the Old Testament points to Jesus? If so, why? If not, then why aren’t you?

• What does this tell us about the way that the Old Testament links to the New Testament?

• What practical relevance does this knowledge—that Jesus’ life was foretold in so many miraculous ways—have?

©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. Storylines by Andy Croft and Mike Pilavachi. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bring the Rain

 Mercy Me is quite frankly one of my favorite Christian bands out there.  I first saw them in concert at Rock the Universe at Universal Studios, Orlando many moons ago and have been a fan ever since.  All of the albums that Mercy Me has produced have been phenomenal, but I must admit, I like Coming Up to Breathe the best so far.  Despite the fact that every song has a significant story, I found there to be a somewhat playful side to some of the lyrics and the music on this release. If you don't believe me, check out One Trick Pony and Writer's Block.  I also love the dedication to their wives with You're to Blame.   (They have another CD coming out soon called The Generous Mr. Lovewell, so I can't wait to hear what that's all about.)

Things have been going rather well for me the last couple of months and I've been concerned.  I know you're probably thinking I'm crazy to  have concerns when things are hunky-dory, but I do.  God usually has us going through a storm, just coming out of a storm, or just getting ready to go through a storm.  My concern is that I'm getting ready to go through a storm and I'm not sure from which direction it's going to come.  I know that I should stop worrying because God has everything under control, but that is easier said than done.   (I just wish He'd let me in on his plans so I could "ride the wave" a bit easier.  Maybe even give him a few tips on how I think thinmgs should go.  :)  Come on, I know I'm not the only one who has thought this...) 

What does this admisson have to do with Mercy Me, you ask?  Well, their song Bring the Rain has really hit home with me today and it's on their Coming Up To Breathe CD.  Yes, I've hit You Tube again and found the song to share with you.     Without further ado, here's the song Bring the Rain by Mercy Me

So, God, even though I have no idea what happens next, I know that You do, so, I guess I have to reluctantly say--Bring the Rain.  Thank you for being with me through the storm and for helping me "dry off" afterwards.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Deliver Us From Evil by Robin Caroll

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:

Deliver Us From Evil

B&H Academic (February 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Julie Gwinn of B&H Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***


Robin Caroll has authored eight previous books including Bayou Justice and Melody of Murder. She gives back to the writing community as conference director for the American Christian Fiction Writers organization. A proud southerner through and through, Robin lives with her husband and three daughters in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: B&H Academic (February 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805449809
ISBN-13: 978-0805449808


Tuesday, 3:30 p.m.
FBI Field Office
Knoxville, Tennessee

Jonathan’s throat closed as he stared at the building from the parking lot. He gripped the package tight in his arthritic hands. Could he do this? Turn over evidence that would implicate him?

His heart raced and he froze. Not the best time for his atrial fibrillation to make an appearance. Despite being on the heart transplant list for eight months, it looked like his progressed heart disease would do him in. The most important reason he couldn’t go to prison—he’d never get a heart and would die. While Carmen wanted him to confess his crimes, she wouldn’t want him to die. The memory of saying good-bye to his beloved mere hours ago scorched his soul.

Her eyes fluttered open. Those blue orbs, which had once sparkled even in the absence of light, now blinked flat and lifeless.

He swallowed hard.

“Jonathan,” her voice croaked, “it’s time.”

Tears burned the backs of his eyes, and he rested his hand over her parchmentlike skin. “No, Carmen. Please, let me get the medicine.”

Her eyelids drooped and she gasped. Air wheezed in her lungs. “Sweetheart, the fight’s . . . gone from me.” She let out a hiss, faint and eerie. “The cancer’s . . . won.”

Jonathan laid his lips against her cheek, her skin cold and clammy, as if in preparation for the morgue. How could she continue to refuse the medicine? Even though she didn’t approve of his means of acquisition, the drugs had kept her alive for five years. Five years he cherished every minute of. He’d do anything to keep her alive and the pain at bay—the intense pain that had become her constant companion these last two weeks. It killed him to witness her agony.

She licked her bottom lip, but no moisture soaked into the cracked flesh. “You’ve done . . . your best by me, Jonathan. I know . . . you meant . . . no harm to . . . anyone.” Her eyes lit as they once had. “Oh, how I’ve enjoyed loving you.”

His insides turned to oatmeal. Stubborn woman—she’d allow herself to die, all because she discovered how he’d gotten the money.

“Promise me . . . you’ll . . . tell the . . . truth. Admit what . . . you’ve done.” Her breath rattled. “What you’ve . . . all done.”

Pulling himself from the wretched memory, Jonathan breathed through the heat tightening his chest. He’d secure himself the best deal possible—immunity—or he wouldn’t decipher the papers. And without him no one could make sense of the accounting system he’d created more than five years ago. Officials hadn’t a clue.

With a deep breath he headed to the guardhouse in front of the fenced FBI building. His legs threatened to rebel, stiffening with every step. He forced himself to keep moving, one foot in front of the other.

At the guardhouse, a man behind bulletproof glass looked up. “May I help you?”

“I need to . . . see someone.”

“About what, sir?”

“I have some information regarding a crime.” He waved the file he held.

“One moment, sir, and someone will be with you.”

Jonathan stared at the cloudy sky. He could still turn back, get away scot-free. His heartbeat sped. The world blurred. No, he couldn’t lose consciousness now, nor could he go back on his promise. He owed it to Carmen. No matter what happened, he’d honor Carmen’s dying wish.

“Sir?” A young man in a suit stood beside the fenced entry, hand resting on the butt of his gun. “May I help you?”

Jonathan lifted the file. “I have some evidence regarding an ongoing crime ring.”

The agent motioned him toward a metal-detector arch. “Come through this way, sir.”

Jonathan’s steps wavered. He dragged his feet toward the archway.

A car door creaked. Jonathan glanced over his shoulder just as two men in full tactical gear stormed toward them. He had a split second to recognize one of the men’s eyes, just before gunfire erupted.

A vise gripped Jonathan’s heart, and he slumped to the dirty tile floor, the squeezing of his heart demanding his paralysis.

Too late. I’m sorry, Carmen.

Two Weeks Later—Wednesday, 3:45 p.m.
Golden Gloves Boxing of Knoxville


Brannon Callahan’s head jerked backward. She swiped her headgear with her glove.

“You aren’t concentrating on your form. You’re just trying to whale on me.” Steve Burroughs, her supervisor and sparring partner, bounced on the balls of his feet.

“Then why am I the one getting hit?” She threw a right jab that missed his jaw.

He brushed her off with his glove. “Don’t try to street fight me. Box.”

She clamped down on her mouthpiece and threw an uppercut with her left fist. It made contact, sending vibrations up her arm.

He wobbled backward, then got his balance. “Nice shot.”

It felt good to hit something. Hard. Sparring with Steve was the best form of venting. The energy had to be spent somehow—why not get a workout at the same time? She ducked a right cross, then followed through with a left-right combination. Both shots made full contact.

Steve spit out his mouthpiece and leaned against the ropes. “I think that’s enough for today, girl. I’m an old man, remember?”

She couldn’t fight the grin. Although only in his late forties, the chief ranger looked two decades older. With gray hair, hawk nose, and skin like tanned leather, Steve had already lived a lifetime.

She removed her mouthpiece, gloves, and headgear before sitting on the canvas. “Old? You’re still kickin’ me in the ring.”

He tossed her a towel and sat beside her. “So you wanna tell me what’s got you all hot and bothered this afternoon?”

She shrugged.

“Come on, spit it out. I know something’s gnawing at you, just like you were picking a fight with me in the ring. What’s up?”

How could she explain? “I’m not exactly keen that the district feels there’s a need for another pilot in the park.” She tightened the scrunchie keeping her hair out of her face.

“That’s a compliment—having you on staff has been so successful they want to expand.”

“But I have to train him. Did you notice his arrogance?” She ripped at the tape bound around her knuckles. “He’s nothing more than a young upstart with an ego bigger than the helicopter.” While only thirty-six, she often felt older than Steve looked.

“You’re so good, you can come across a bit intimidating at first, girl.” Steve grabbed the ropes and pulled to standing, then offered her a hand. “Give him a chance.”

She let Steve tug her up. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Even if he had maturity, I still have to train him. With all the rescues we’ve been called out on of late . . . well, I really don’t have the time.” She exited the ring. “Like those kids yesterday.” She shook her head as she waited for Steve to join her on the gym floor. “Their stupidity almost cost them their lives.”

“They were young, Brannon.”

“Please. Any amateur with half a brain should know better than to try to climb Clingmans Dome in winter.” Didn’t people realize if something happened to them they’d leave behind devastated family and friends? Loved ones who would mourn them forever? She fought against the familiar pain every time she participated in a search and rescue. All because people hadn’t taken necessary precautions.

“They didn’t know any better.”

“It takes a special kind of stupid not to have researched your climb.” Most SARs could be avoided if people planned a little more. It ripped her apart that so many parents, grandparents, siblings . . . fiancées . . . survived to deal with such grief. She’d tasted the bitterness of grief—twice—and the aftertaste still lingered.

Steve paused outside the locker rooms and shifted his sparring gear to one hand. “I agree, but most people don’t see the dangers we do every day.” He tapped her shoulder. “Hit the showers, champ. You stink.”

She laughed as she headed into the ladies’ locker room. Maybe Steve was right and the new pilot just made a lousy first impression. Maybe he’d be easy to train.

Please, God, let it be so.

Friday, 2:15 p.m.
US Marshals Office, Howard Baker Federal Courthouse
Knoxville, Tennessee

“You want me to escort a heart?” Roark struggled to keep his voice calm. He tapped the butt of his Beretta, welcoming it back to its rightful place on his hip.

Senior US Marshal Gerald Demott glared. “Look, I know you think this is a slight, but it’s important. And for your first assignment back on the job . . .”

“IA cleared me of all wrongdoing. I’m seeing the shrink and everything.” He gritted his teeth and exhaled. “I’ve been released to return to active duty.”

“This is active. It’s a field assignment, and it’s important. Here’s the case information.” Demott passed him a folder, then glanced at his watch. “You’d better hurry or you’ll miss your flight.”

Roark grabbed the file and turned to go.


He looked back at his boss. “Yeah?”

Demott held out Roark’s badge. “You might want to take this with you, too.”

Roark accepted the metal emblem, then clipped it to his belt before marching out of Demott’s office. A heart. His job was to escort a human heart from North Carolina to Knoxville. Any rookie could handle that. But no, they still didn’t trust him enough to handle a real assignment.

He’d done everything they asked—took a medical leave of absence while Internal Affairs went over every painful minute
of his failed mission, saw the shrink they demanded he speak to every week since Mindy’s death, answered their relentless questions. The shrink reiterated he’d been forgiven for acting on his own.

Maybe one day he’d forgive himself. How many innocent lives would he have to save for his conscience to leave him be?

Roark slipped into the car, then headed to the airport. But to be assigned a heart transport? Not only was it wrong, it was downright insulting. After almost fifteen years as a marshal, he’d earned the benefit of the doubt from his supervisors. Especially Demott. His boss should know him better, know he’d only disregard orders if it was a matter of life and death.

But Mindy Pugsley died. They’d all died.

He pushed the nagging voice from his mind. Even Dr. Martin had advised him not to dwell on the past. On what had gone wrong. On disobeying a direct order.

If only Mindy didn’t haunt his dreams.

Roark touched the angry scar that ran along his right cheekbone to his chin. A constant reminder that he’d failed, that he’d made a mistake that took someone’s life. He’d have to live with the pain for the rest of his life.

He skidded the car into the airport’s short-term parking lot. After securing the car and gathering the case folder, Roark grabbed his coat. Snowflakes pelted downward, swirling on the bursts of wind and settling on the concrete. The purple hues of the setting sun streaked across the mountain peaks beyond the runways, making the January snow grab the last hope of light.

Yes, he’d handle this mundane assignment, then tell Demott he wanted back on real active duty. Making a difference would be the best thing for him. Would make him feel whole again.

Dynamic Uno here: Robin Caroll's work is fantastic! Here's yet another book that I would have loved to review, but didn't request because I knew I wouldn't be able to finish it in time. If you like suspense and drama, then Robin Caroll is the author for you! Let me know what you think! Happy Reading!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Meeting of the Waters by Fritz Kling

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:

The Meeting of the Waters

David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Fritz Kling has spent the past decade in the heart of the global Church, traveling through villages and cities in every corner of the world. In preparation to writing The Meeting of the Waters, Kling spent a year conducting one hour interviews with more than 150 Christian leaders from 19 developing countries. As a foundation executive, he has worked alongside both high-level leaders and grass-roots workers and has an insider’s story to tell. Fritz and his family live in Richmond, VA.

Visit the author's website.

The Meeting of the Waters, by Fritz Kling from David C. Cook on Vimeo.

Product Details:

List Price: $16.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434764842
ISBN-13: 978-1434764843


The 7 Global Currents

All Bets Are Off

“The expectations are unreasonable! I am but one small pastor in a tiny church in Africa, but the challenges are getting greater and greater!” the Kenyan pastor vented during a tea break at a leadership conference in East Africa.

As a pastor’s kid, I thought I recognized those post-sermon insecurities and doubts. They had been my father’s constant carp. Today, friends of mine who are pastors admit to being tormented by the very same gremlins. But this was not a case of my father’s sermon angst.

“You see,” the pastor continued, “what has happened is that quite a few of my parishioners have told me that they prefer the sermons of the televangelist whom they watch on TV before church every Sunday. Perhaps you have heard of the fellow, he’s an American … T. D. Jakes?”

“Oh my,” I said. Of course I knew of Jakes, who graced the cover of Time magazine in 2001 with the title “Is This Man the Next Billy Graham?” Jakes is a Dallas-based, African-American pastor who draws 30,000 worshipers to his church, has written several best-seller books, is

pastor to the Dallas Cowboys and other celebrities, and runs anti-poverty programs in both Dallas and Kenya. He preached at a private church service for President-elect Obama on the morning of his inauguration and has prayed with the President on numerous phone calls.

That Kenyan pastor, who lacked formal training, a library, an assistant, or compensation, had pushed himself to work harder and harder to deliver sermons that were biblically truthful and culturally relevant. Suddenly, though, he found himself in a classic twenty-first-century bind. He was a Kenyan ministering to Kenyans in Kenya, but he had been unwittingly thrust into a global, cross-cultural dilemma. He had not gone to another country as a missionary. Rather, another country (America, in this case) had come into his church—and his church would never be the same. America was not the problem: His parishioners could just as easily tune in to televised preachers from South Korea, Australia, or Germany.

The challenge facing the pastor was that global media seamlessly and invisibly infiltrated his Kenyan culture. Further, I believe that this “cultural creep” is not the exception, but rather the rule in most countries around the world.

As I met more leaders like my Kenyan friend, I grew increasingly curious to know just which trends were on the loose, in which countries, and what changes they were causing. The answers were important to me as a foundation executive, as I directed grants around the world, but I felt that something much bigger was also at stake: whether the global church could unlearn old irrelevancies and learn new realities as it steered into the next era.

A mission scholar said, “If you really want to understand the future of Christianity, go and see what is happening in Asia, Africa, Latin America … that’s where the action is.” So, my colleagues and I decided to do just that.

Between June 2006 and June 2007, we conducted 151 one-hour interviews with church leaders in nineteen countries. We called it the Global Church Listening Tour.

We interviewed indigenous seminarians, pastors, missionaries, and laypeople. We met them in churches, offices, schools, restaurants, tea shops, hotel rooms, trains, planes, cars, and boats throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America. We asked all interviewees the following fifteen questions and transcribed their answers—about the state of the indigenous church in their country; the impact and effectiveness of Western missionaries and aid workers in their country; and the ways in which globalization is affecting local ministry in their country.

• With which denomination or church are you most closely affiliated?

• What are the three most urgent needs of the church in your country?

• What is the state of the church in your country?

• What are your dreams for the church in your country?

• What are the greatest strengths and weaknesses of people in your country, not just Christians?

• Which of the following are appropriate ways for the Western church to support the church in

your country: short-term missions? Money? Evangelism? Church planting? Leadership

development? Humanitarian aid?

• Describe the good and bad effects of missionaries in your country.

• Which country has sent the most missionaries to your country?

• What would you wish for foreign missionaries to know about your culture and society?

• As an American, I am curious to know what you think are the best and worst personal

characteristics of American missionaries.

• Has the nature of relationships between foreign missionaries and local Christians changed in

the past ten years?

• How are younger Christians different than their parents, and do they practice their faith


• How has your country changed, for better or worse, in terms of culture, economics, politics,

and religion because of other countries’ influence?

• Are there ministry approaches that are no longer as effective as they used to be because of

changing times?

• Which countries have affected your country the most?

In conducting the Listening Tour, my colleagues and I consistently met with a telling response—surprise that Americans would travel to poorer countries, ask questions, and listen. An American foundation with large amounts of money seeking the insights of indigenous church leaders in the

developing world? At first, this caused suspicion, but ultimately it spread profound encouragement.

Deeply appreciative of being asked, the survey participants were remarkably forthcoming and thoughtful. I felt honored as they shared with me their indigenous perspectives, reminding me of long-simmering issues and also opening my eyes to new on-the-ground realities.

As the Listening Tour data came in, seven prevalent trends began to emerge. These 7 Global Currents flow invisibly and powerfully, under and around the global church. As identified in the Listening Tour, they are:

1. Mercy: Social justice has become a global imperative, especially among youth and young adults. For Christians, this will lead to an increasing emphasis on meeting physical needs in addition to continuing the long-standing emphasis on evangelism.

2. Mutuality: Leaders from traditionally poor countries increasingly have education, access, technology, and growing economies … and they will demand to be heard. Global church leaders from traditionally powerful countries will need to account for these new perspectives and voices.

3. Migration: Relocation among nations and regions is on the rise and will be rampant—especially to cities—whether for jobs, war, schooling, tourism, or politics. All future Christian outreaches will need to adapt their message for radically diverse audiences.

4. Monoculture: The cultures of all countries will become more and more similar, thanks to the spread of worldwide images, ideals, celebrities, and ad campaigns. Christians seeking to communicate with global neighbors will need to be aware that marketing from outside their borders now shapes many of their deepest values.

5. Machines: Cell phones, GPS, television, and the Internet are transforming lifestyles worldwide. The future global church must recognize how newfound abilities to communicate, travel, and consume are changing individuals’ lives and values, too.

6. Mediation: While there is much talk of the world’s flattening, partisan rifts are actually proliferating. Splinter groups now have more communication avenues for inciting discord and attracting sympathizers than ever, and the global church must find a mediating role amid increasing polarization of all kinds.

7. Memory: Even as globalization reshapes the world, every nation and region has distinct histories that have profoundly shaped their society. Visitors must understand how yesterday affects today, in ways potentially undermining because they are invisible and unstated.

These Currents do not respect national or ethnic boundaries. Their invisibility makes them doubly potent, because they are relentless and dominant—but often overlooked. These Currents will powerfully alter the global church’s future direction—for good or evil—depending on how

quickly and wisely the church reacts.


My job as executive director of a private foundation has afforded me an enviable string of private tutoring sessions from great leaders in the global church. One day I might meet with a publisher from Moscow, the next day a politician from Sierra Leone, and then a substance-abuse counselor from Mexico, a summer camp director from Romania, a seminary president from Egypt, a researcher from China, and a church planter from Ghana. I have also met American ministry greats: the urban ministry leader from Pasadena, the megachurch pastor from Manhattan, the substance-abuse counselor from Richmond, and the missions expert from Berkeley. It has all been part of the job.

My tutors come from more than one hundred nations, and not just the powerful ones. Although incredibly diverse, these men and women are consistent in how they describe their societies back home as modernizing and changing, rendering old stereotypes counterproductive. They do not characterize any single Global Current as totally negative or positive, but recognize that each of them could be harnessed for good or ill. The Currents are reliable tools for those who would help lead the global church into a bold and relevant future—to skate to where the puck is going to be.

I have been asked why today’s followers of Christ—in New Delhi or Lima or Sydney—should care about the 7 Global Currents. My best answer is that the Currents will help people to reconcile their faith with their world—to connect Sundays with the rest of the week and provide a perspective on religion’s centrality in the world today. The church’s mission is to represent Jesus Christ to the people of the world, and I believe that the Currents will help the church understand what those people are like and how they are changing.

The practice of watching the changing world and constantly adjusting approaches accordingly is second nature in so many fields, but not in the worldwide Christian church. Mission practitioners and scholars have traditionally focused on specific people, cultures, or countries—a noble undertaking as missionaries engaged with distant, remote locations that had seen few outsiders and where there was little or no written record.

But global church leaders today can no longer merely be specialists; they must also be generalists. In an age when trends spread “virally,” significant events in the military, academic, media, economic, marketing, and financial worlds have profound impact on the global church’s efforts. One global church scholar notes that “there used to be a global community of binary culture brokers: people who understood American culture and Singaporean culture from extensive, direct experience. Now there is an expanding global community of global culture brokers: people who understand many cultures from extensive, direct experience.” In the future,

global church experts and practitioners must learn to navigate the 7 Global Currents in our all-bets-are-off world.

Just what do I mean by an all-bets-are-off world? Even in the most provincial or remote venue, global forces are now at play. Nothing seems to remain the same from year to year, week to week. Change is the norm. Once again, rivers provide a helpful metaphor. In a classic passage, American author Mark Twain describes the harrowing task of piloting riverboats on the Mississippi River over the course of days, seasons, and years when seemingly nothing remains the same. As I reflected on the challenge of adjusting to changing mission environments in the globalizing world, I thought back to Twain’s wonderful description:

One cannot easily realize what a tremendous thing it is to know every detail of twelve hundred miles of river and know it with absolute exactness. If you will take the longest street in New York, and travel up and down it, conning its features patiently until you know every house and window and lamppost and big and little sign by heart … [a]nd then, if you will go on until you know every street–crossing, the character, size, and position of the crossing-stones.… Next, if you will take half of the signs in that long street, and change their places once a month, and still manage to know their new positions accurately on dark nights, and keep up with these repeated changes without making any mistakes, you will understand what is required of a pilot’s peerless memory by the fickle Mississippi.

That is the kind of environment in which the Christian church finds itself today. Global trends and tools are being unleashed in one part of the globe and immediately transforming local environments half a world away—from Dallas to Nairobi and back again. As unfair or difficult as it may be, my Kenyan friend must now consider and harness the influence of television broadcasting and other forms of media from countries all around the world. No longer may he merely remove himself to a quiet place, immerse himself in the Bible, and emerge with a word for his flock. Now, he must also take into account what is happening around the world—

including T. D. Jakes’ latest sermon playing every Sunday before church. And Jakes, too, as his parishioners grow more eager to serve the needs of others around the globe, must stay tuned to the cries of people as far away from Dallas as Kenya and Kampala and Kabul.

Thomas Friedman writes, “Today, more than ever, the traditional boundaries between politics, culture, technology, finance, national security, and ecology are disappearing. You often cannot explain one without referring to the others, and you cannot explain the whole without reference to them all.” This practice, which Friedman calls “information arbitrage,” is just what the global church needs today, and the 7 Global Currents are just the right tool.

But take heart. The task is an interesting one—quite fun, actually. The happy result will be that the global church’s efforts will be built upon a current, relevant, and indigenous base. For Christians seeking to be faithful and relevant in the changing world, the 7 Currents offer new ways to pray, think, give, send, and go. Most strategically, the Currents provide a starter kit for a new generation of globally minded Christians who want to see God’s kingdom come—in brothels and barrios, in statehouses and criminal courts, in movie theaters and boardrooms, and in rain forests and greenbelts.

©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. The Meeting of the Waters by Fritz Kling. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.