"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.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Snitch by Rene Gutteridge

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(The Occupational Hazards)

(WaterBrook Press May 15, 2007)



How was I to know that a woman--Rene Gutteridge--would write a police thriller so gripping, so smoothly flowing, so funny, so poignant, that I would hate to put it down? Yes, that is every author's hope, but Gutteridge met and vastly exceeded that universal goal. If that sounds gender-centric, I'm sorry. But reading novels by women has led me to expect some integral romance, some intuitive sensitivity into the deep, emotional underpinnings of male-female relationships. Snitch blows that prejudice(yes, prejudice) completely out of the water. This is truly a book worth reading, filled with vivid, quirky characters, plot-twists to satisfy a Hitchcock buff, and spiritual insights to justify even the Holiness brethren's time.


Rene Gutteridge is the author of several novels, including Ghost Writer (Bethany House Publishers) The Boo Series (WaterBrook Press) and the Storm Series, (Tyndale House Publishers. She will release three novels in 2006: Storm Surge (Tyndale) My Life as a Doormat (WestBow Press, Women of Faith)Occupational Hazards Book #1: Scoop (WaterBrook Press).

She has also been published over thirty times as a playwright, best known for her Christian comedy sketches. She studied screenwriting under a Mass Communications degree, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University, and earned the "Excellence in Mass Communication" award. She served as the full-time Director of Drama for First United Methodist Church for five years before leaving to stay home and write. She enjoys instructing at writer's conferences and in college classrooms. She lives with her husband, Sean, a musician, and their children in Oklahoma City.


Old School meets New School meets Homeschool

Just shy of retirement and a well-earned pension, Las Vegas Police Department Sergeant Ron Yeager's definition of "active duty" involves shifting his bad leg into a more comfortable position. But when he's requested from his mind-numbing desk job to head an undercover auto theft task force, the former narcotics officer determines to prove he's still got the right stuff.

That is...until he meets his unlikely team of officers.

As Yeager soon finds out, not all the crazies are on the street. An undercover rookie, the audaciously honest Mackenzie "Mack" Hazard sends Yeager's blood pressure skyrocketing by wearing her faith like an ever-present badge. Then there's Jesse Lunden, a maverick undercover officer who refuses to learn anything from an old guy with a cane. Can this tangle of egos and eccentrics be trained into a lean, mean, crime-fighting machine...even while they are being drawn into something much bigger and more dangerous than anyone imagined?

In her trademark style, Rene Gutteridge blends zany, original characters, sincere faith, and surprising plot twists into one hilariously addictive read.

"Snitch is an engaging crime novel, balanced between sheer whimsy and genuine human drama."
....CHRIS WELL, author of Tribulation House

"A wonderful, fully developed ensemble cast makes Snitch an entertaining, engaging read. Rene's flair for a comedic, well-turned phrase shines here. Snitch is worth snatching."

...SUSAN MEISSNER, author of Widows and Orphans

Friday, May 18, 2007

Orchard of Hope by Ann Gabhart

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(Revell March 1, 2007)


Ann Gabhart


Ann H. Gabhart has published a number of adult and young adult novels with several different publishers. The author of The Scent of Lilacs, Ann and her husband live a mile from where she was born in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky. She is active in her country church, and her husband sings bass in a southern gospel quartet.


Nothing will be the same after the summer of 1964.

Drought has gripped the quiet Kentucky town of Hollyhill, and the town seems as if it is holding its breath--waiting. Jocie Brooke is nervous about starting high school. Her sister Tabitha is experiencing the weariness of waiting for a new baby. Her father David is feeling the timidity of those first steps toward true love. All of these pivotal steps in life are awaiting the Brooke family.

Into this cloud of tense anticipation, a black family from Chicago, the Hearndons move here to plant an orchard outside of town. Fresh off the Freedom Train, Myra Hearndon is sensitive to what the color of her skin may mean in a Southern town. Her family will have to contend with more than the dry ground and blazing sun as they try to create their ORCHARD OF HOPE.

Jocie finds herself befrending a boy that some townspeople shun. Due to unspoken racial lines in this southern town, the presence of these newcomers sparks a smoldering fire of unrest that will change Hollyhill..and Jocie...forever.

In this close-knit community, everything is about to change.

Let this riveting novel take you along to experience unexpected love, new life, and renewed faith amid life's trials.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

To Be-lieve, Or Not To Be-lieve: what a question!

          If you were to ask ten people to give their reasons for believing or not believing any proposition, chances are you'd get a few versions of two basic arguments. If, however, you were to restrict the discussion to non-jargonic language, you would force those ten pundits to pry open the dusty trap door guarding their deepest convictions and root around in the cognitive cobwebs and irrational clutter for thoughts that were once fresh, but long since forgotten.
          One issue attracts tremendous attention, as well it should. It determines the world views of millions. Now, the observant reader might wonder why the author limits this to millions in a world populated by billions. In answer, he would ask, "Do more than one-in-a-thousand people in this world bother to define their world view?" Oh, but wouldn't that be an interesting poll?
          But enough beating about the thorny bush, which issue happens to be the existence or non-existence of a personal, Supreme Being outside the material universe to whom all persons within said universe must answer. Those who believe in such a Supreme Being, hereinafter referred to arbitrarily as "God," generally base their belief on the solid, objective substance known as faith. Dis believers, however, might counter that argument with a statement such as, "Fill one bucket with faith, and another with hot-air, and see which weighs more."
          Point well taken. But dismissing all the simplistic, "Bravo Sierra" from both sides, used to cloud the issue for centuries, it all boils down to one coin with two sides: Naturalists, often called Atheists, Agnostics or Materialists, think it's unscientific(stupid) to believe in anything that can't be observed, measured, quantified, and defined systematically. Supernaturalists, despite seeming from the title to be more natural than naturalists, believe the opposite; that the science of the material universe can't explain everything that exists. Another way of expressing their difference is: Naturalists try to prove God's nonexistence through pointing out the lack of scientific evidence for his existence, while Supernaturalists try to prove God's existence empirically, based on subjective experiences and elaborate apologia.
          Objectively, both sides' "proofs" are completely lame, proving nothing but the preconceptions of both sides. Objectively, the question of God's existence/non-existence boils down to one observation and one question.
          First, the observation: The technology of scientific observation changes constantly. What was theoretical last year might just be proven by observation next year. And what "scientists" considered devilish mumbo-jumbo a hundred years ago is now the stuff of high school science class. All the geographic authorities of the fourteenth century taught with absolute certainty that Earth was flat. What presumption asserts that the "supernatural" of today will never, under any circumstances, become the "natural" of the future, based simply on advanced observational technology unknown today? Not too long ago, electricity was as intangible as invisible spirits. Is it impossible that someone might eventually invent a camera or other instrument that will observe spirit beings? Who can say for sure?
          Now, the question(okay, the observation posed a few questions, so sue me): The best "science" of today points to a Big Bang as the material universe's origin. Oversimplified, the Big Bang was the result of near-infinite mass being concentrated in a near-infinitesimal point. Once it reached critical mass, it simply went B-A-N-G, Big Time. So, where did all that mass come from? Perhaps from another universe that went Bang, expanded to its limit and collapsed into the famous point of near-infinite mass. But where did that come from? Etcetera, etcetera. Fact is, no one knows. And that's enough uncertainty to keep billions of people believing in the possibility of God's existence.

Trick Question

      Students today get upset when their teachers ask trick questions. But their beef is not new. A couple of thousand years ago an itinerent teacher and preacher sprung such a question on his students. And coming into the parts of Caesarea of Philip, Jesus questioned His disciples, saying, Whom do men say Me the Son of Man to be? And they said, Some say John the Baptist, and others Elijah, and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. (Matthew 16:13,14 LITV) Then, to demonstrate to us the difference between worldly insight and spiritual insight, he asked the question again. He said to them, But you, whom do you say Me to be? And answering, Simon Peter said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:15-16 LITV) With wisdom not their own, they answered his question exactly as he had asked it.
      Wouldn't you think people today would get that question right, with two thousand years advance notice? Yet, even many of those who claim to follow the Christ can't grasp the full import of Peter's inspired answer.
      Peter's confession, typical of God's word, bore infinite depth with just a few words. You are the Christ ... Though the word christ means annointed, and there have been many annointed prophets, preachers and teachers throughout history, qualifying it with the, identifies Jesus the Son of Man as the only man ever uniquely annointed by God for his specific work. Standing before all the Jewish leaders, with his life on the line, Peter reiterated Jesus' words, This One is the Stone counted worthless by you the builders, the One who has come to be into the Head of the Corner; Psa. 118:22 and there is salvation in no other One, for neither is there any other name under Heaven having been given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:11-12 LITV)
      The second half of Peter's confession says even more about Jesus' essential nature: ... the Son of the living God. Again, though the Bible refers to others as sons of God, only Jesus bears the distinction of being declared the Son of God. That uniqueness speaks of Jesus' exclusive claim--confirmed by his signs--of being the Divine Son of the infinite, self-existent One.
      That is where so many would-be followers of Jesus stumble and fall. The fact that Jesus was a man blinds them to his share in the divinity of his Father. The Hebrew word for God, Elohim, is the plural form of a word(eloah) used to refer to man-made idols and the leaders of men. Then concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God except one. For even if some are called gods, either in the heavens or on the earth; (even as there are many gods, and many lords); but to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we by Him. (1 Corinthians 8:4-6 LITV) That Jesus shares the Father's divinity is no more remarkable than a man who shares his father's humanity. The difference is, while mankind numbers over 6,451,058,790, Elohim numbers only three. Yet, even though the logic is impeccable, most people are blind to the revealed facts of God's nature.
      Though Jesus asked Peter a trick question, the Teacher knew he would give the right answer, as the Holy Spirit gave him the words. We too can receive God's eternal truth in the same way Peter did. Everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ has been generated from God. And everyone who loves Him who begets also loves the one who has been born of Him. (1 John 5:1 LITV)