Book Review for “The Noble Fugitive” – Christian Historical Fiction Romance

What the books about: Heirs of Acadia Book 3- Serafina, daughter of a Venetian merchant prince, is desperate to be reunited with the dashing tutor her father banished. As her family sets sail for America, she secretly abandons ship. Alone in England, she finds herself as a lowly chambermaid. A world-weary ship captain is also forced to seek refuge, hiding from henchmen determined to silence his shocking revelations about the slave trade. The lives of these two characters become intertwined, and a place that once seemed only a dreaded detour becomes a sacred venue for the unveiling of God’s Providence.

My Review: This is book three of the Heirs of Acadia series. I really liked the very first book. It is written about a time in history that I always found interesting. Book two was still good, but in my opinion not as good as the first one. So when book three came around I waited. Then about two chapters in I was hooked. I thought it was the best so far. This one adds some new characters to the series and takes place mostly in America during slavery. The main characters are fighting to free those who have been in chains.  I am loving this series. Christian Historical Fiction at it’s best. I give it five stars.

 

Book Review for “Fatemarked”-Fantasy

What the book is about: In the spirit of fantasy epics like George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, The Fatemarked Epic promises immaculate world building, an ancient prophecy, a mysterious source of magic, interesting characters, war, political intrigue, and romance.

The Hundred Years War has ravaged more than three generations of kings, queens, and citizens across the Four Kingdoms. Corrupt rulers dominate. Religious intolerance runs rampant. The cycle of vengeance continues to turn with the seasons.

An ancient prophecy by a legendary oracle has been long forgotten. The prophecy promises the return of peace to the Four Kingdoms on the backs of a chosen few, the fatemarked, individuals marked at birth and blessed with specific magical powers. One shall be the Kings’ Bane, and will bring death to the warmongering rulers, using fear to force peace; another shall be the Peacemaker, bestowed with the rare ability to heal. Opposite sides of the same coin, dark and light, death and life, the Kings’ Bane and the Peacemaker are responsible for the fate of an entire continent.

As they fight to achieve their destinies, adversity will hinder them in every realm: in the frozen north, assassination attempts and a brutal power struggle; in the holy west, a vicious queen and her self-righteous army of warriors; in the mysterious iron-clad forest of the east, revenge and glory rule the day; and in the southern empires of Calyp and Phanes, maturing dragons, slaves, and a civil war.

To truly fulfill the oracle’s prophecy of peace, both the Kings’ Bane and the Peacemaker, as well as the other fatemarked, will need to overcome those who seek to destroy everything in their pursuit for power.

 

My Review: I am a huge David Estes fan so of course I joined his mailing list to hear about all of his new books. In one mailing he was giving away some ARC copies of his newest book. Most of his books, and my favorites are dystopian for YA. “Fatemarked” is the first in a series of epic fantasy. I entered the drawing and won a copy. I was a little nervous due to the different genre of this one. I so loved it! I do enjoy a good fantasy and this one does not disappoint. One of the things I like about Mr. Estes’ writing is he has a tongue in cheek type of humor. He understands people and relationships. So my rating is a strong five star. I can recommend for teens and up. Now I have to try and be patient for the next one.

 

 

About the Author: Get the David Estes Starter Library (FOUR books!) for FREE when you sign up for his mailing list: http://s.privy.com/0yzhuRA

David Estes has written more than 20 science fiction and fantasy books. He has a love of dancing and singing (but only when no one is looking or listening), is a mad-skilled ping-pong player, an obsessive Goodreads group member, and prefers writing at the swimming pool to writing at a table. He loves chatting with his readers, all of whom he considers to be his friends. David lives in Hawaii with his beautiful Aussie wife, Adele, his asthmatic cat, Bailey, and his rambunctious son, Beau.

 

Get your copy: Here

 

The Delivery Business

Colossians 1:13 (Weymouth New Testament), “It is God who has delivered us out of the dominion of darkness, and has transferred us into the Kingdom of His dearly-loved Son,”

God is in the delivery business. I know, in the past I have said that He is in the “Family business: saving souls” but this is still a branch of the family business!

We recently started a business of our own. We specialize in expedited (you needed it there yesterday) delivery. People contact us because they have a load that the customer wants ASAP and we can get it there fast in our little sprinter van. So maybe I have had delivery on my mind. However, the month of January our church always goes on a corporate fast (and prayer time). During one of those times of praying and listening, this thought popped into my head, “God is in the delivery business” followed by this scripture in Colossians. Soon I couldn’t even stop the thoughts that bombarded me. I am going to share a few.

God has delivered me!

Out of darkness and into the light. II Corinthians 5:1 (NIV), “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

From my past. “Philippians 3:13 KJB), Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,”

From fear. I John 4:18 (NASB), “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”

From sickness (including tumors, anxiety, and some ugly stuff you don’t want to hear about.) I Peter 2:24 (NIV), “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

 

God has delivered to me:

Forgiveness. I John 1:19 (KJB), “ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Blessings. Ephesians 1:3 (NASB), “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,”

Mercy. Jude 1:2 (NLT), “May God give you more and more mercy, peace, and love.”

 

Grace. I Corinthians 15:10 (NIV), “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”

Wisdom. James 1:5 (KJB), “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

I am sure there is more to be found. I sure love to think of the Father hand delivering all of these wonderful things to me. A personal gift. Free of charge.

Now, our company, JW Expedited LLC, delivers for money, our purpose and motivation is to please the customer so that we get paid well.

God’s motive? Love.

Book Review for “The Field”- Christian Fiction/Allegory

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What it’s about:

“Three women are lured into a forbidden field by a charming prospector and the promise of buried treasure. Hava, in doing the prospector’s bidding, inadvertantly unleashes a battle in the Kingdom, and the consequences of her actions leave her guilt-ridden and isolated. Delilah, daughter of an influential Kingdom ambassador, uses her philosophical wit to recruit treasure hunters to her own cause. Lilly, ever a loner, seizes the opportunity to do something meaningful and be recognized for it. Through their respective encounters with the Field, Hava, Delilah, and Lilly take up their roles in the age-old battle between the King and those who oppose him in ways none of them had planned.”

My Review:

I was given a copy of “The Field” in exchange for an honest review.

Wow, I loved this book! One of the best Christian allegories I have ever had the privilege of reading. It tells the story of the ultimate battle, the one for our souls. It clearly portrays our enemy, the Deceiver, and the love of the King. I give it five stars and will definitely be looking for more from this author. No swearing or sexual content, there is violence, but nothing explicit. Good for teens and up.

 

Consider Joseph and Daniel

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Colossians 3:22-24 (HCSB), “Slaves, obey your human masters in everything. Don’t work only while they are watching, in order to please men, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will gain the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Thankfully, those of us in most of the world don’t have to worry about being slaves. However we can apply this passage of scripture to employees, servants, and anyone who is under another’s authority. The world would be a better place and much more productive if we did this. There wouldn’t be such a spirit of “socialism” in the world either. Everyone would do their part to the best of their ability. There are way more people who could be working at something than there are those who truly can’t work at anything.

In America we complain a lot, about a lot. We tend to complain about Mondays, why? Because we have to go back to work. We complain about having to work at all, or we complain about the hard hours, or those who don’t work as hard as we do, or that we aren’t appreciated, or recognized, or praised…need I go on? This week I was reading my Bible and came across that scripture in Colossians, which led me to these:

Ephesians 6:5-6 (NIV), “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.”

Hebrews 13:17 (KJB), “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Do your job even if no one is looking. Submit to those in authority over you, even if they are wrong. Now, I have to clarify that we don’t have to go against our morals here, that isn’t what I am talking about. What I am saying is we don’t have to be right. As an example, let’s consider a couple of men from the Bible.

Joseph and Daniel were both slaves. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, actually only one, the rest of them wanted to kill him, and ended up with years slavery. First in the home of Potiphar where he did such a good job the Egyptian put him over his whole household. Then when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him, and Joseph literally ran away, she accused him or rape and Potiphar sent him straight to prison. In prison he quickly rose in authority until he pretty much ran the place. He was released from his confinement after interpreting some dreams of Pharaoh’s. He saved not only Egypt from famine, but his own family as well. His ending was that he was second only to the Pharaoh himself, who pretty much ruled the known world at the time.

Daniel was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar and taken from his own homeland and relocated to Babylon. He too due to his obedience quickly rose in rank and authority. He ended up serving under seven different rulers and kings, none of them Jewish. Like Joseph, he stood for righteousness and continued to serve God where he was. And like Joseph he also interpreted the dreams of a king through God’s revelation. He didn’t use his captivity under a gentile foreign king as an excuse not to serve God along with serving the king. He was almost killed for continuing to obey God when the king made a law that contradicted God’s law. God however, intervened and saved Daniel’s life.

If we look at these two men we see a pattern. They didn’t just obey God. Had they snubbed their noses at their captors, they would have at best, not risen in authority, and at worst, been killed. Yet, when it came to sinning against God they both refused. Daniel calmly continued to pray three times a day as was his custom, and Joseph refused to allow temptation to commit adultery with another man’s wife. They didn’t fight their captors, they didn’t refuse to work, they didn’t try and sabotage their new governments, but they did obey in every way that didn’t go against their faith in God.

How much more should we obey our bosses, teachers, parents, government officials, Church leaders, and God himself? We who are free from the law and are not obligated to follow it, but have the grace of God and His love inside of us; shouldn’t we be even more obedient? We are representing Heaven and our Heavenly Father let’s represent Him well. When we do that our bosses, leaders, etc. can do their jobs with joy. God will get the glory and people will be blessed.

It’s always right to do the right thing. It’s always best to do our best.

I am not sure who coined this phrase, but the school I taught at for years had this as our motto: “Good, better, best, I’ll never rest, until my good is better and my better is best.”

I Corinthians 15:58 (NIV), “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

 

Heart Hooks

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Isaiah 61:1-3 (KJB), “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”

Have you ever been hooked by a fish hook? Maybe seen someone who has? I have several times, some of the stories are downright comical, others make you cringe just thinking about them. The thing about a fish hook is that you can’t just pull those things out. They have little barbs on them that are supposed to keep you from losing your fish.

I read a book recently where they used this analogy to explain the hurts in our heart. Those hurts are like fish hooks, full of barbs that are embedded in our hearts. You really can’t just pull them out. God knows this and cares about us so much that he takes them out the “easy way”. This involves pushing them through. It is still painful, believe me, it will hurt. However, it will not do more damage. Our Father knows the safest way to get them out. He can remove them without tearing our hearts to pieces. He is in the repair business not the demolition business after all.

We read in scripture about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness, resisting, and then coming out of that experience full of the power of the Holy Spirit. He immediately started teaching in the synagogues. We read in Luke that He returns to His hometown, where He was raised and as was His custom, went to the synagogue there. He stands up and reads those words out of Isaiah. I enjoy the King James Version of this one because it reads that He came to “bind up the brokenhearted”. When I read this version, I always picture a torn and ravaged heart that He tenderly wraps in the gauze of His love, stopping the hemorrhaging.

That’s why He came. To heal our hearts. To show us that the Father’s love is more than enough to bind up any brokenness, to stitch up every wound, to break up every stony place, and to fill our hearts with His love (His love is “shed abroad” in our hearts.)

I found myself recently having to allow one of those barbs to be removed. I thought that the broken place had already been healed. Sometimes we don’t even know about a wound until God starts that gently pushing. Did it hurt? You bet. It also brought up some ugly stuff that I didn’t want to deal with. Yet, I have gotten smarter with every hook removed, so I allowed Him to do His thing. I was left feeling emotional, drained, and free! One more hurt gone. One more kiss from Daddy on the boo-boo. I am glad that just because we think everything is fine, doesn’t mean that He stops working on us. He knew I still harbored that hook. He also knew it was not part of His plan for my life. So out came the spotlight and there it was.

When that happens, the best thing to do is immediately surrender that hurt to God. Forgive anyone you need to, and ask Him to take it out. I used to reason with myself, make excuses, say things like, “I already got over that years ago,” or get on the bandwagon of lamenting all the hurts in my life, or take on a victim mentality. I learned the hard way that doing those things only makes those barbs reproduce. It makes the hooks grow, and it makes the process of removing them take even longer, and hurt a lot worse. That’s why it is important ask God to search our hearts. Allow the Holy Spirit to show us what’s really in there.

Psalm 139:23-24 (NASB), “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me,  And lead me in the everlasting way.”

This isn’t about just looking for sin, or bad habits, it is also looking for wrong thought patterns, unforgiveness, and unhealed hurts, every “hurtful way” in us. He is faithful, He is gentle, and His love can heal every wound.

Will you let Him?

Intimacy Versus Imitation

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James 4:8a (ESV), “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Hypocrites. We all know a few, maybe we have even been one. Prayerfully you aren’t one now. They say one thing, but do another. They say they are pro-life, but vote for abortion rights. They say they are Christian, but they treat people with contempt not compassion. There are Churches full of people who say they have surrendered to Jesus, yet haven’t changed anything about how they think, live, or talk. There are bars, universities, social clubs, and governments who say they don’t believe in God… until there is a disaster, or war, or a financial crisis.

How about those people over the years who claimed they were your friends, they said they had your back, and they said a lot of things to make you feel good. But when the going got tough, they got going. I call those “two faced” people and “so called friends.”

We can be the same way with God. Instead of being true, real, vulnerable with Him, we fake it. We don’t fool Him, but most of the time we are really trying to fool other people. We can talk like a Christian, spout scripture, even do “good works” but we don’t really know Him, and we certainly haven’t surrendered our lives. Look what Jesus had to say about that.

Matthew 7:21-23 (KJB), “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Just doing good works doesn’t cut it. Sure James said that he’d show us his faith by his works. Yes, if we truly are born of heaven and sold out to the Father, there will be fruit and works. However, works alone won’t get you anything but the accolade of men, and possibly exhaustion.

Back to what James said, there are those who say they love God but they won’t lift a finger for Him. They won’t take their authority as Son’s of God, and they refuse to recognize the power of the Holy Spirit.

II Timothy 1:3-7 (NASB), “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Mark calls them Hypocrites. God says they only do lip service.

Mark 7:6 (NIV), “He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

God doesn’t want bodies. He isn’t into head-counts or roll calls. He wants hearts. Even David talks about this after he had sinned.

Psalm 51:16-17 (NLT), “You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”

His desire is and always has been intimacy. After kneeling and humbly breathing life into Adam, who He hand sculpted out of dirty, He walked and talking with His creation. He gave them everything, but most importantly, He lavished his affection on mankind. He never wanted anything else. After the fall, His desire didn’t change. Man had changed and every decision, every law, Jesus’ sacrifice, everything He did was for our own good, for the good of mankind. God is love. He loves us always. He wants our love in return. Not out of obligation, that isn’t true love. Not a false and fake love, not lip service, no one-sided, two-faced love affair for Him. He wants genuine, lavish, sacrificial love.

What do you want?

Intimacy or imitation?