"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Valley of Betrayal

      Tricia Goyer is my favorite author, because she's one of my favorite people. Tricia is a young woman who has put in some serious time making many of the mistakes that grey parents' hair. Like Solomon, she has found worldly pursuit purely vain. And like Solomon, she has found perfect wisdom and satisfaction in turning to God's Way.
      In His infinite wisdom, God pointed Tricia toward writing about her mistakes and what she's learned from them in a way other young women could relate to. By following that initial vision, she discovered she could write excellent quality, compelling prose.
      A Valley of Betrayal is the latest fruit of Tricia's following her vision. Set in pre-WWII Spain, it tells the story of Sophie, a young woman caught up in the romantic dream of marrying her tall, dark, handsome dreamboat. Pursuing that dream, she travels to Spain only to be entangled in the political web, wanton violence and senseless tragedy of revolutionary war.
      Intrigue abounds while Sophie quickly grows up, finding God has far more planned for her than "happily ever after."
      To say A Valley of Betrayal is a compelling read is a gross understatement. Just ... read it, and keep some Kleenex handy.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Christian Writers' Market Guide 2007

      Sally Stuart has outdone herself with her latest writers' market guide, Christian Writers' Market Guide 2007. New resources, more convenient layout, included CD-ROM with 1200 online links... Check it out for yourself in the review below, thoughtfully provided by Bonnie Calhoun, Christian Fiction Blog Alliance director.

      Sally E. Stuart is the author of thirty-four books and has sold more than one thousand articles and columns. Her long-term involvement with the Christian Writers' Market Guide as well as her marketing columns for the Christian Communicator, Oregon Christian Writers, and The Advanced Christian Writer, make her a sought-after speaker and a leading authority on Christian markets and the business of writing. Stuart is the mother of three and grandmother of eight.

      For more than twenty years, the Christian Writers’ Market Guide has offered indispensable help to Christian writers. This year, for the first time, this valuable resource comes with a CD-ROM of the full text, so you can search with ease for topics, publishers, and other specific names.
      The 2007 edition also includes up-to-date listings of more than 1,200 markets for books, articles, stories, poetry, and greeting cards, including information on forty new book publishers, eighty-three new periodicals, and thirty-four new literary agents. Perfect for writers in every phase, this is the resource to get noticed–and get published.
      It contains listings for: 695 periodicals, 228 poetry markets, 355 book publishers, 133 online publications, 29 print-on-demand publishers, 1185 markets for the written word, 321 photography markets, 31 e-book publishers, 122 foriegn markets, 112 literary agents,and 59 newspapers.
      It also gives you comprehensive lists of contests, writers groups and conferences, search engines, pay rates and submission guidelines, editorial services and websites.
      Christian Writers’ Market Guide is a "must have' for any serious Christian writer that is looking to get published!

      Look for it at Sally's web site, or at Amazon.com

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I Ain't Scared

They call it The Grand Canyon, but "grand" doesn't even begin to express its scale. Standing at the Yavapai view point, safely behind the guard-rail, the scene is literally awe inspiring, even breathtaking. But if I were foolish enough to climb over the guard-rail and stand at the sheer drop into the canyon, "breathtaking" would no longer describe the feeling. Terror would be more like it.
      The difference between the two sensations is obvious. Viewing danger from a safe place is thrilling. Engaging that danger is something entirely different. Some people are into the adrenalin rush of risky behavior, knowing the same actions have injured or killed others. Or, they simply need to prove they aren't scared of danger.
      From my safe position on the visitors' path, behind the guard-rail, I would stare in disbelief at a daredevil who flouts the park's safety rules--and common sense--by precariously dangling his toes over the canyon's edge. Typically, such an idiot believes the rules are made just to spoil his fun.
      I have the same reaction to the daredevils who flout God's commands, plunging into their own way, believing that He issues those commands simply to spoil their fun. Somehow, the possibility that God is trying to protect them from the awful consequences of their actions never occurs to them.
      Of course, one great difference separates the toe-dangling fool from the God-defying fool. The guy at the canyon's edge doesn't have to take the Park Service's word that toe-dangling is stupid. He can see the sheer drop under his toes, and he's likely heard stories of others being killed while doing the same thing. But the guy who flouts God's laws can't see the future boded by his actions, any more than he can see the fate that befell the fools before him.
      It doesn't take faith in the National Park Service to believe that toe-dangling at the Grand Canyon can kill you. But God expects us to obey His commands by faith, because He is God.
      Psalm 111:10 says, "The fear(holy terror) of the Self-Existent One is the basis of wisdom. All those who practice His commands are smart. Eternal, are the songs of His praise." Those who defy God have good reason to quake in their boots. But those who live in obedience to Him can wisely say, "I ain't scared of God."

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


      Today's Our Daily Bread speaks of losing our spiritual passion, as did the church at Ephesus. It ends with the statement, "Devotion to Jesus is the key to spiritual passion."
      While that is certainly true, lack of such devotion is merely the symptom of much deeper issues, issues that spring not from any religious deficiency, but from our most basic humanity.
      Love is work, and we tend to seek out "labor-saving devices" to make maintaining relationships easier and more efficient. We take short cuts to communication, emphasizing the value of small amounts of "quality time," rather than just plain time.
      We don't deliberately transfer our affections from Jesus to people, work, or recreation. But it happens none-the-less. In fact, we often have the best of intentions when putting Jesus on the back burner. Didn't He tell us to love one another as we love ourselves? And love does take time. And we have only so much time in each day. And Jesus understands that we have to maintain our other relationships. And a more creative person could cop many more excuses for letting our relationship with Jesus slip into limbo.
      All these excuses ignore the fact that any relationship not built on Jesus is doomed to mediocrity. So by shoving Jesus aside and pursuing our lives and loves without His primary involvement, we scuttle the very things we claim are most important. Talk about irony!
      As I write this, I have one accusing finger pointed at the corporate "we," while three point back directly at me. Yes, I am the chief offender, possessing a world-class laziness that flows through life like a meandering stream, always taking the path of least resistance. So my guilt is greater than those who blindly stumble along, not understanding their own sinfulness. But praise God for His marvelous grace!

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Long, Lonesome Trail

      Dust. That's what strikes me when I think of westerns. And manure. Okay, I couldn't smell the manure through the screen, but I know it was always there.
      Of course, there were guns--everybody wore one or two on their hips--and Gunsmoke. "Cares of the past are behind; Nowhere to go but I'll find; Just where the trail will wind; Drifting along with the tumbling tumble weed."
      That was the silver screen and the pulp page, where stories of romance and violence, bravery and drunkenness emerged daily, for a-dime-a-dozen.
      Manure was always with the ancient Israelites, as well, though I never thought of that when I heard Bible stories. And the Children of Israel seemed to wander aimlessly through the wilderness, following not the tumbling tumbleweed, but a glorious pillar of fire at night, and mysterious smoke during the day.
      As far as that stiff-necked people were concerned, their travels were aimless. Though God's presence was always with them in the wilderness, they quickly lost sight of Him. That's right; a pillar of fire hundreds of feet high that consumed no fuel, or a billowing, black pillar of smoke that left no trace, and the people forgot Who was there with them.
      When they ran short of water they panicked, and began looking for stones to throw at Moses and Aaron. And when their stomachs began rumbling they began grumbling. Was God deaf? Did He lead them out into the wilderness to starve? Yet, when He provided bread from heaven they wanted meat. And when he gave them birds to eat they tired of it and wanted thick, juicy cuts of beefsteak.
      Yes, God led them in circles, wasting forty years of their time and one generation of their sons. Was God cruel to give them a glimpse of freedom and then feed them forty years of wilderness? Had they obeyed Him and given Him any other choice, their path would have been straight and true. But the Israelites rebelled against God's government at every turn. They worshiped idols rather than God. They hoarded resources rather than trusting in His provision. They fornicated, and practiced adultery and incest in spite of God's command. They withheld the tithe, stealing from God after He had given them everything. They blasphemed Him at every turn, blaming Him for the woes they brought on themselves.
      God allowed them to reap the bitter harvest of their foolishness, but they remained blind to His loving justice, even until today. Yes, we--God's redeemed, the fruit of His grace--are the same people who forced Him to deal harshly with them for forty years in the Sinai Peninsula. God's church, for whom He shed His own precious blood, continues the futile wandering it began after being set free from Egypt's slavery. Like the Israelites, we pray for more stuff after receiving God's best for us. We pray for revival while immersing ourselves in the world's corruption.
      And if we're particularly devout Christians, we lift our hands in praise for a few minutes each week, while we're not staring at our resident, window on the world, filling our minds with the world's amusements.
      God gave the ancient Israelites His provision, His leadership, and even His holy prophets, only to have it all thrown back at Him with curses. And today, He gives us His life's blood in exchange for our sin-guilt, only to have it all thrown back at Him in the name of Christian liberty. We have His very best available for a prayer, but we, like the Israelites, prefer our own way, making our blasphemy infinitely worse than theirs.
      Yes, we have a problem. But God has already given us the Solution. What we will do with Him remains to be seen. Will we continue testing God's patience, presuming upon His infinite grace? Will we continue tumbling along like a tumbling tumbleweed, blown about by every capricious, worldly wind?
      The tumbleweed, dear church, is in our court.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


The following review is courtesy of   Kevin Lucia.
      In a stunning follow-up to last year’s pulse-pounding thriller Comes A Horseman, Robert Liparulo’s new thriller, Germ, brings to life the all too real specter of biological warfare in an epic storyline that reads much like The Stand meets The Bourne Supremacy.
      While Comes A Horseman was an enjoyable, solid first entry for Liparulo – portraying realistic characters laboring under harrowing conditions – Germ is a true work of art. From the moment Special Agent Goodwin Donnelley’s car barrels down a highway under hails of bullets, the action is relentless – however, the timing is near perfect. Just when it seems too much, too fast, the pace slows; the reader and characters catch their breaths….
      …and the bullets start flying once again.
      An old, bitter grudge has brought the world to the brink of destruction. A virulent strain of Ebola has been designed that’s not only deadly and fast acting, but can also target specific individuals based on their DNA makeup. The implications are astounding: anyone anywhere is at the mercy of a virus tailor-made for their genetic blueprint.
      The threats are manifold: those on the “list” are doomed to die painful, bloody deaths as their organs liquefy inside of them, those who have learned of this new bio-weapon are hunted by a mysterious, deadly assassin that not only seems omniscient and omnipresent, but able to resurrect himself from death. The clues are there, buried on a microchip smuggled into the U.S. – but will Special Agents Julia Matheson and Goodwin Donnelley unravel its mysteries in time to save thousands of lives, or will bio-terrorism destroy what we know of the world, leaving in its wake thousands of deaths and a new world order – based on fear and the mercurial whims of man driven mad by grief?
      Robert Liparulo has taken a very realistic threat and crafted a story that ranks right up there with any of Robert Ludlum’s novels. The dialogue is real, the characters painstakingly crafted, and it’s not hard to see this projected onto the big screen in a Hollywood adaptation – maybe with Ron Pearlman, (Hellboy, Blade III: Trinity), as the reluctant pastor turned combatant Stephen, and Ashley Scott, (who certainly proved her action-chops and stunt abilities on the WB’s short-lived Birds of Prey), as Special Agent Matheson.
      Most importantly, Germ – like many recent CBA, (Christian Bookseller Association), releases, embodies what has been recently dubbed as “faith fiction” should be: an excellently written and crafted work of fiction that adheres to a sense of moral value worth, realistic and accessible to all, yet at the same time inoffensive for a Christian to read. Germ will grab you by the collar, and won’t go until you reach the end of its roller coaster ride.