Tuesday, August 31, 2010

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Vigilante's Bride
Bethany House (August 1, 2010)

Yvonne Harris


Yvonne Harris earned a BS in Education from the University of Hartford and has taught throughout New England and the mid-Atlantic. Unofficially retired from teaching, she teaches writing at Burlington County College in southern New Jersey, where she resides. She is a winner and three-time finalist for the Golden Heart, once for The Vigilante's Bride, which is her debut novel.


Montana Territory, 1884...Is Her Kidnapper the Only Man Who Can Keep Her Safe?

Robbing a stagecoach on Christmas Eve and abducting a woman passenger is the last thing Luke Sullivan expected to do. He just wanted to reclaim the money stolen from his pa, but instead ended up rescuing a feisty copper-haired woman who was on her way to marry Sullivan's dangerous enemy. Emily McCarthy doesn't take kindly to her so-called rescue. Still, she's hoping Providence will turn her situation for good, especially when it seems Luke Sullivan may just be the man of her dreams. But Luke has crossed a vicious man, a powerful rancher not used to losing, and Emily is the prize he's unwilling to sacrifice.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Vigilante's Bride, go HERE


Monday, August 30, 2010

From the author of the Edgar Award–nominated legal thriller A Cure for Night, an ambitious and compulsively readable novel set in the cutthroat world of New York real estate.

A concrete floor three hundred feet up in the Aurora Tower condo development in SoHo has collapsed, hurling three workers to their deaths. The developer, Roth Properties (owned by the famously abrasive Simon Roth), faces a vast tangle of legal problems, including allegations of mob connections. Roth’s longtime lawyers, the elite midtown law firm of Blake and Wolcott, is assigned the task of cleaning up the mess. Much of the work lands on the plate of smart, cynical, and sea­soned associate Duncan Riley; as a result, he falls into the pow­erful orbit of Leah Roth, the beautiful daughter of Simon Roth and the designated inheritor of his real estate empire.

Meanwhile, Riley pursues a seemingly small pro bono case in which he attempts to forestall the eviction of Rafael Nazario and his grandmother from public housing in the wake of a pot bust. One night Rafael is picked up and charged with the mur­der of the private security cop who caught him, a murder that took place in another controversial “mixed income” housing development being built by . . . Roth Properties. Duncan Riley is now walking the knife edge of legal ethics and personal morality.

Blind Man’s Alley is a suspenseful and kaleidoscopic journey through a world where the only rule is self- preservation. The New York Times Book Review said of A Cure for Night that “[Peacock] heads toward Scott Turow country . . . he’s got a good chance to make partner.” This taut, topical, and socially alert thriller delivers on that promise.

Thanks to Doubleday I have 2 copies of this book to giveaway. This is open to the U.S. only and NO P.O. boxes. This giveaway will start today, Monday, August 30th and I will use a randomizer and pull the winner on Monday, September 13th. The winner will have 48 hrs from being contacted to send me their mailing info if they fail to do so I will pull another winner. To enter you must become a follower of this blog, and leave your email address. If you do not your entry will be deleted. To receive extra entries you can do the following . . . 1. if you are already follower of this blog say so in your original comment; DO NOT LEAVE AN ADDITONAL COMMENT. 2. If you are a NEW follower leave an additional comment. 3. Tweet about this on twitter, and leave an additional comment with the link. 4. Blog about this giveaway and leave the link. GOOD LUCK!!!!

Choosing To See by MaryBeth Chapman & Ellen Vaughn

Book Description: From the beginning, Mary Beth Chapman's life was not how she planned. All she wanted was a calm, peaceful life of stability and control. Instead, God gave her an award-winning singer/songwriter husband, crazy schedules, and a houseful of creatively rambunctious children. Most difficult of all, God's plans for her also included tragedy.

In Choosing to SEE, Mary Beth unveils her struggle to allow God to write the story of her life, both the happy chapters and the tragic ones. And as the story unfolds, she's been forced to wrestle with some of life's biggest questions: Where is God when things fall apart? Why does God allow terrible things to happen? How can I survive hard times?

No matter where you find yourself in your own life story, you will treasure the way Mary Beth shows that even in the hard times, there is hope if you choose to SEE.

My Thoughts: This is an absolutely beautiful and touching book of a mother who has gone through something no mother wants to go through, the death of a child. Mary Beth pours her heart onto the pages, and allows us to see what she went through at the loss of Maria and how God took her from the dark places into light. Only God could've been the eyes that Mary Beth needed. No matter what your struggle or where you are this is a beautiful testimony of how God can take something completely horrible and use it to stregthen and make us better for Him. I highly recommend it!

A Love For Tomorrow

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:

A Love for Tomorrow (Second Chance at Love #2)

Whitaker House (September 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***


Vanessa Miller is a best-selling author, playwright, and motivational speaker. She started writing as a child, spending countless hours either reading or writing poetry, short stories, stage plays and novels. Vanessa’s creative endeavors took on new meaning in 1994 when she became a Christian. Since then, her writing has been centered on themes of redemption, often focusing on characters facing multi-dimensional struggles. Readers and critics alike have responded with overwhelming affirmation with her work topping several bestsellers lists and receiving numerous awards including “Best Christian Fiction Mahogany Award” and the “Red Rose Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction.” Her first Whitaker House book, Yesterday’s Promise debuted at #1 on the Black Christian News Network’s Bestsellers List.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (September 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603742085
ISBN-13: 978-1603742085



“Our wedding is next week, Michael. How can you possibly have cold feet now?” Serenity Williams asked her fiancé with her hands on her hips.

“This isn’t about cold feet, Serenity. You’re not listening to me. I’m telling you, I can’t marry you. I’ve been trying to convince myself for weeks that it will work, but I realize now that it won’t.”

This was not happening to her. This was some crazy dream that she was going to wake up from any minute, because there was no way that the good reverend, Dr. Michael Randolph—the man she loved and had been planning to marry for the past three years—could be standing in front of her one week before the wedding, trying to call it off. But, just in case this wasn’t a dream, Serenity decided to play along. “Okay, Michael. Please tell me exactly what I haven’t been listening to.”

Michael took off his black fedora, revealing his full head of wavy, black hair. “Can you sit down on the couch with me so we can talk?”

She didn’t want to sit down and talk; she wanted to get married. Michael owed her a wedding. After all, she had spent five years with this man. They had dated for two years and then gotten engaged. That had been three years ago. She had told her friends that she and Michael had decided to wait until his ministry got off the ground before getting married, but, in truth, it had been Michael’s decision to wait. Now that his ministry was growing, what did he want her to do—wait another five years so he could work on expanding his church so that it reached megachurch status?

Michael sat down on the couch and held out his hand, gesturing for Serenity to join him.

She sat down next to him but said nothing.

“Serenity, the first thing you need to understand is that I love you more than life itself. It is because of how much I love you that I can’t go through with this marriage.”

When am I going to wake up? Serenity held up her hand. “Wait a minute, now. I’m totally confused. Are you really telling me that you can’t marry me because you love me too much?”

“Let me finish, honey,” Michael said. He took a deep breath and then trod on. “We’ve put off our wedding for three years now, because I’ve been hoping you’ll get over your competitive ways. It’s this constant rivalry between us that’s driving me crazy. I’m afraid that the love I have for you will fade because of the competitive spirit you have.”

“The competitive spirit I have?” Serenity exploded as she stood up. “I’m not in competition with anybody. I’m just doing what God has called me to do.”

“That’s what you tell people. But it’s obvious that you are competitive. You wouldn’t be where you are today if you weren’t.”

“Okay, so what if I am a little competitive? What does that have to do with you and me? You’re the pastor of a church. I don’t have a church; I travel all over the world preaching, and I have a television ministry.”

“See? That’s what I mean,” he said, pointing at her. Then, he stood up, too. “You’re always throwing the fact that you have a TV ministry in my face. And you love it when other preachers invite you to speak at their churches. You’ve even been trying to get behind my pulpit for the past year.”

“That is not true. I have never asked to preach at your church. I have more speaking engagements than I can accept in a year, so I certainly don’t need to beg anybody for the opportunity to preach.”

“See, there you go again. Every time you open your mouth, it’s always to say something about what you’re doing in ministry and how you’re in such high demand.”

It wasn’t true. Serenity had never bragged about her ministry. At least, not in the way Michael was making it sound like she did. Yes, she was grateful that God had allowed her ministry to grow in the manner in which it had over the last two years. And, yes, she expressed that gratitude to anyone who would listen. But she wasn’t bragging. She was trying to communicate to others that she understood how blessed she was. Serenity’s father was a bishop who presided over seven megachurches and ten smaller to medium-sized ones. He had often tried to get her to take over one of his churches as a pastor, but she didn’t believe that God was leading her in that direction.

She had stepped out in faith when she’d started her television ministry on a newly developed cable channel. Her television program was part Oprah, part Joyce Meyer in style. She interviewed many pastors and teachers of the gospel. And then, when she was invited to minister, she brought along her camera crew and broadcast those events on her program, as well. She and Michael had discussed the format of her show at its inception. At the time, he had thought it was a great idea. He’d even told her that he could see her show going big time.

He just hadn’t told her that, when it did, he would hold it against her. “Michael, please don’t do this. Maybe we need to see a marriage counselor so we can work this out before the wedding.”

“Don’t you find the fact that we need a marriage counselor before we even get married a bit ludicrous?”

“I don’t know about that. What definitely seems ludicrous to me is the fact that you’re jealous of a ministry that God’s hand is on.” She took a deep breath, tried to calm herself, and said, “Look, Michael. I’m thirty-four years old. You’re forty-two. We both agreed that now is the perfect time for us to have children. I’ve waited for you for five years. Why are you backing out now?”

“I’m sorry, Serenity. I just can’t marry someone whose ministry overshadows my own. The next thing I know, people will be calling me ‘Mr. Williams’ instead of ‘Pastor Randolph.’” He shook his head. “I just can’t deal with that.”

This was real—Michael was calling off their wedding—and Serenity felt as if her world was coming to an end. “What do you want me to do, Michael? Do you want me to give up my TV ministry? Is that it?”

He put his hat back on. “No. That won’t work. You’ve created such a following now that, even if you weren’t on TV, preachers would still be calling for you to speak at their conferences.”

“I don’t understand. I thought you loved me.”

Michael didn’t respond. He picked up his car keys and walked out of the house without looking back.

If he had turned around, he would have seen the tears that flowed down Serenity’s face and the longing that she felt way down deep in her heart. But Michael didn’t care about that. He cared only about being “overshadowed.” Why hadn’t she seen this coming? Her best friend, Melinda Marks, had tried to warn her two years ago, when she’d said, “Trying to do the will of God and the will of your man gets hard sometimes.”

At the time, Serenity had thought that Melinda was referring to her relationship with Bishop Steven Marks. Steven and Melinda had been engaged long ago, but Steven had felt that he couldn’t marry a woman who wanted to preach the gospel rather than stay at home and be a wife and mother. So, he’d called off their wedding. But God’s will had prevailed in that situation, and Steven and Melinda had finally gotten married eighteen months ago.

As she wiped the tears from her eyes, Serenity told herself not to worry. Michael would come to his senses, and they would be married on Saturday, as planned.

But on Thursday, her father, Bishop Lawrence Williams, called and informed her that Michael’s secretary was phoning everyone on the guest list and letting them know that the wedding had been cancelled. That’s when Serenity finally faced the fact that Michael wasn’t coming back. He had allowed his ego to override their love, and she was crushed.

“Why didn’t you tell me, sweetheart?” her father asked.

“I thought he would change his mind. I just didn’t believe he was serious.”

Serenity had been calling Michael for the past three days, leaving messages on his answering machine and voice mail, letting him know that she still loved him, and that she still wanted to go through with the wedding. Why should she have to wait ten years for Michael to come to his senses, as Melinda had done with Steven? Serenity was convinced that if they just went ahead and got married, they would be able to work everything out later.

“Why is he doing this?” her father asked, cutting in on her thoughts.

“He says I’m too competitive—that he can’t marry a woman who overshadows him and his ministry.”

“Oh, sweetheart, I’m so sorry to hear that. But if that’s the way he feels, then he doesn’t deserve you. I believe that, if you’re meant to marry a preacher, God will send one who can handle your anointing.”

Serenity didn’t respond to her father’s remark, and they brought their conversation to an end. But, by the time she had hung up the phone, she had made a very clear resolution. She wouldn’t waste another minute of her life on another ego-driven preacher.


Pastor Phillip McKnight was a man who had been greatly blessed by God. There was no other explanation for the extraordinary life he’d led. He’d played sixteen years of professional football, being traded only twice and winning a Super Bowl championship with both teams. The last team he’d played for had been the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’d been thirty-seven and still fit enough to play, if he’d wanted, when he’d voluntarily retired. But Phillip had other things on his mind. He’d earned millions of dollars from his winning football career, and now he wanted to live out the rest of his life serving God and winning souls for the kingdom.

When he arrived at the new building of the church he pastored, New Destiny, he entered, eager to check on the progress of the construction workers. He had given up a lot to build this church, but he had no regrets. In his lifetime, he had experienced fame and fortune, the likes of which most people only dream about. But none of the things he had accomplished ever truly fulfilled him. Then, one day, he’d met Jesus, and it was as if the blinders came off. He began to see things so much more clearly. He received new direction for his life.

Jimmy Dayton, the foreman for the construction company, met Phillip in the fellowship hall. “I’ve got something to show you,” he told him excitedly.

“Lead the way,” Phillip said, hoping that at least one of the rooms in the church was finally finished. They had been making plans for the building for a year and a half, but construction hadn’t started until nine months ago. Right now, New Destiny was holding its services in a high school gymnasium, and he was getting ready to come home.

Jimmy opened the double doors to the sanctuary, and Phillip walked in, his eyes beholding the beauty of the navy blue wall-to-wall carpet and the matching cushioned pews, which spanned the three-thousand-seat sanctuary. The glass podium he’d ordered was in the pulpit area, waiting for him to stand behind it and preach the Word. He turned to Jimmy. “This looks incredible! What else is finished?”

“Just your office, but the structure is solid enough for your congregation to have services here soon.”

“This is the best news I’ve had all week!” Phillip exclaimed. “I’m glad I stopped by today. How soon can we start holding our services in here?” He couldn’t keep the excitement out of his voice.

“Probably in about two weeks or so,” Jimmy said. “We need to get a couple more things done before the safety inspection.”

“Okay—but hurry up! I can’t wait to have our services in this sanctuary,” Phillip said before heading for his new office, where he sat down behind the desk. He finally felt like they were making progress. That sense of satisfaction enabled him to take out the envelope he’d been carrying around all day in his pocket and put it on his desk. He looked at the envelope for a full ten minutes before picking it up and opening it.

Slowly, he unfolded the divorce decree and stared at it for a few moments before throwing it back on his desk. Then, he leaned back in his chair, closed his eyes, and prayed for strength.


No, this man is not keeping me waiting like this, Serenity thought as she looked at her diamond-studded Gucci watch. It was one of her favorite accessories. The watch had been priced at two grand, but Serenity had talked the store manager into halving the price. Her father always told her that a woman should treat herself to something special every now and then. So, while she’d been on her honeymoon in the Bahamas—without the groom—she’d purchased this gorgeous watch without a second thought. She loved the look and feel of Gucci on her wrist.

But her beautiful timepiece was telling her that her interviewee was twenty minutes late. The infamous Pastor Phillip McKnight had cancelled the interview they’d scheduled for two weeks ago so that he and a group of evangelists, ministers, and church members could travel to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to help with the disaster relief efforts after the terrible earthquake that had racked the country and claimed so many lives. Serenity wholeheartedly understood Pastor McKnight’s desire to be in Haiti during the country’s time of need. She had even set up a disaster relief fund on her own Web site, encouraging the viewers of her Christian television show, Walk This Way, to donate money. But Pastor McKnight had been back in the States for three days now. What in the world could have caused him to be late for their rescheduled meeting?

Serenity hadn’t wanted to interview Pastor McKnight in the first place. She was more comfortable with female preachers and teachers on her show, and she thought that her viewership, consisting predominantly of young to middle-aged women, would benefit most from hearing about the accomplishments and visions of other women around their age. But her producer kept telling her that women were also interested in men who served the Lord. So, here she was, being mistreated by another arrogant pastor who thought the world revolved around his inflated head.

Well, enough was enough. Serenity would not wait a second longer. She was going to gather up her camera crew and head back to Chicago. But, as she stood up, the office door opened, and a broad-shouldered man with skin the color of milk chocolate rushed through it. She had seen Pastor McKnight on television when he’d played for Tampa, but that football helmet must have blocked her view, because she had never imagined that the man was this fine in the flesh. Serenity sat back down and tried to process everything she knew about Pastor Phillip McKnight. He was a former football player who’d started building the church he now pastored a year before retiring from the NFL. She also knew that he was divorced.

“Sorry I’m so late,” he said with an apologetic smile. “I got a flat tire on the interstate and had to change it.”

That explained the dirt smudges she saw on his dress shirt. “I thought you forgot about our interview,” Serenity said, not willing to let him off the hook too easily.

Phillip stretched out his hand, and she took it. As they shook, Phillip said, “I could never forget an appointment with Serenity Williams. Even four flat tires couldn’t keep me away.”

Serenity pulled her hand out of his grip. The man was charming, but he was a preacher, and that made her mistrustful. It also made him off-limits. Ever since that swollen-headed reverend, Michael Randolph, had dumped her because her ministry was more successful than his, she had sworn off preachers. Even her brother, Larry the egomaniac, freely admitted that he wouldn’t be able to handle a wife who made more money or was better known than he. Falling in love with a preacher was for women who looked good in straitjackets and liked padded rooms. Best just to get this interview over with and forget she’d ever met Pastor Phillip McKnight. “So, would you like to talk in here first, or would you like to show the camera crew around the church so they can shoot some footage for the show?”

“Umm…well, I—I guess we could talk first, if—if that’s okay with you,” Phillip said.

“Are you sure, Pastor McKnight? Because, if you’d rather work with the film crew first, I’m okay with that.”

“No, no—please, sit back down. I’d like nothing more than to speak with you right now.” He sat down behind his desk and then said, “I forgot to charge my cell phone.”

What does that have to do with anything? Serenity wondered as she looked at him with questioning eyes.

Phillip pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and set it on his desk. “I would have called to tell you that I was going to be late, but my cell died on me.”

“Okay,” Serenity said. She had already moved on and wished he’d do the same. She pulled her notepad and pen out of her purse. “This is a pretty big church building for such a young ministry. Most preachers begin their ministries in storefronts or other smaller locales. What made you decide to go so big so soon?”

“No small talk, no chitchat; just get straight down to business, huh?”

Serenity put down her notepad. “I wasn’t trying to rush you, Pastor McKnight. It’s just that my father taught me about the value of time, and I try not to waste it.”

“Your father seems like a wise man. That’s why I have a meeting scheduled with him next week. I’ll be sure to let him know that his daughter still follows his advice.”

Serenity’s curiosity was piqued. She wanted to know why Pastor Phillip McKnight would leave the warmth of Tampa, Florida, to come to Chicago during the season of snowstorms and winter chills, but she didn’t ask. Instead, she said, “Make sure to bring a heavy coat and a pair of gloves. They don’t call it the Windy City for nothing.”

“I plan to. Your father already warned me about the weather. But he promised that your mother would fix a warm meal for my trouble.”

With a furrowed brow, Serenity said, “My mother normally tells me when she and my father are hosting out-of-town guests. I’m surprised she didn’t say anything about your visit.” Then, as if shaking off the shocking news, she picked her notepad back up. “Shall we continue, then, Pastor McKnight?”

Phillip put his elbows on his desk and smiled at her. “Would you do me a favor?” he asked.

“That depends. What do you need?” she asked with a wary grin on her face.

“Would you please call me Phillip? I don’t think we need to be so formal, especially since I’ll be meeting your parents next week.”

Okay, the suspense was killing her. There was no way she was going to be able to wait until she was finished with her work to call her mother and find out why Phillip was coming to dinner. “So, why are you and my father getting together next week?”

“I guess I’m kind of looking for a spiritual father, of sorts. I’ve been a pastor for only two years, and I’m getting to the point where I really need some godly guidance and mentoring.”

“Are you saying that you’ve decided to voluntarily bring the church you built under another man’s leadership?”

Phillip shook his head. “I don’t see it as the church I built. This church was built by God and the people of God, and I just want to continue to honor Him in all that we do.”

Most of the pastors Serenity knew weren’t eager to submit themselves to another man’s leadership. Michael, for example, had always complained about the things her father would ask him to do when he’d presided over Michael’s church. Even her thickheaded brother complained about their dad poking his nose into his business from time to time. Serenity had to admit, Pastor Phillip McKnight seemed somewhat different. But there had to be something wrong with him—after all, his ex-wife had left him for some reason, right?

Serenity had finally agreed to do this interview in part because she’d figured it would give her an opportunity to show her viewers how egotistical and pride-filled Pastor McKnight was. This might just be her chance. She leaned closer to Phillip and, in the most innocent voice she could muster, said, “You sound like a reasonable man, Pastor McKnight. One would wonder why your wife divorced you.”

Phillip flinched, then said, “I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you wait for me in the sanctuary? I’ll change my shirt, and then we can give the camera crew a tour of the facility while you interview me about the ministry.”

She didn’t miss his emphasis on “about the ministry,” and she was immediately horrified at what she’d said.

Phillip had changed the subject, and she was more than willing to move away from it, as well. “You keep extra shirts at work?” she asked.

Phillip stood up and pointed at the dirt spots on his shirt. “Never know when I’ll get all grimy changing a tire.”

“My father keeps extra clothes at his church office, too.”

“Smart man,” Phillip said.

She laughed as she stood up. “Okay, I’ll wait for you in the sanctuary.”

Before she could turn away, Phillip said, “You have a beautiful smile, Serenity. You should always keep a smile on your face.”

The compliment made Serenity uncomfortable. She turned and headed out the door as quick as her three-inch heels would carry her.


Why did I say that? Phillip wanted to bash himself in the head for speaking like that to a woman who obviously wanted nothing to do with him. Serenity Williams had practically run out of his office, as if he’d told her he had swine flu or something.

Phillip took off his soiled shirt, reached into his closet, and grabbed a blue button-down. As he put it on and then turned to the mirror to examine himself, his thoughts turned back to Serenity. He had been watching her program for more than a month now—not every day, but he made a point to watch whenever he could. Somehow, he’d never imagined that her hazel eyes would sparkle as brightly as they did in person. And that smile of hers almost took his breath away. Actually, Phillip wished it had taken his breath away, for then, he wouldn’t have been able to embarrass himself with stupid talk.

How could he have come on to Serenity like some high school jock with a crush on the prom queen? He lightly slapped his cheeks with his fingertips. “Get yourself together. Go out there and act in a professional manner,” he instructed himself, pointing a finger at his reflection in the mirror.

Phillip left his office, determined to conduct himself in an upright way. Serenity might very well be one of the most beautiful women he’d seen in a long time, but he was a man of God, and he knew how to control himself. “Okay,” Phillip said, clasping his hands together as he stood in the sanctuary, looking from Serenity to the camera crew. “Is everybody ready to get this tour started?”

“We sure are.” Serenity stood up and introduced Phillip to the camera crew, which consisted of two guys. “This is Lenny,” she said as she pointed to a tall, slim Conan O’Brien look-alike. “He’ll be snapping pictures.” She then pointed to a slightly balding African-American man wearing blue jeans and a shirt with palm trees on it. “Bob will be shooting all the footage.”

“Hello, Lenny. Hello, Bob.” Phillip nodded at each man.

“So, where do you want to start?” Serenity asked him.

“Well, you’re already in my pride and joy.” Phillip lifted his arms and did a full circle on the plush carpet of the sanctuary. “This is the first space that was finished, after the office complex. We wanted to be able to have services here, even while the construction crew was pounding their way through the rest of the building.”

Serenity looked from the pulpit to the many pews that lined the first floor and then to the balcony. “This is a beautiful sanctuary. I love the navy and burgundy colors you chose. Very bold, but still warm and inviting.” She turned to Phillip and asked, “How many people can you fit in this sanctuary?”

“It seats about three thousand.”

“For such a young ministry, that is an awful lot of members to have.”

“Oh, we have only about eighteen hundred members, but I believe that we will quickly grow into the place.”

“Sources have said that you put up five million of your own money for this project, but I’m surprised that a bank would loan you the rest of the money you needed without the membership to back it up,” Serenity said.

“I’m still raising capital to finish the building. We’re a work in progress, as you will see.”

“So, the bank wouldn’t loan you the money?”

“We’re in a recession. They loaned me half of what I needed, and I have to come up with the other half.”

“But you’ve already put up so much of your own money. Do you think you’ll get to a point where you’ll say enough is enough?”

Shaking his head, Phillip said, “I would give that and much more to the vision God gave me.” What he didn’t say, though, was that following God’s purpose for his life had already cost him dearly. He had been willing to give the money, but watching his wife walk out the door had been the hardest thing he’d ever done. “Let’s move forward, shall we?”

Phillip led them to the office suite and let them snap pictures of the staff members as they went about their various tasks. Then, he showed them the spaces that would one day be the youth center, additional classrooms, and the fitness room.

“I have never seen a fitness room in a church complex,” Serenity said, signaling Lenny to continue snapping pictures of the equipment.

Phillip picked a fifty-pound weight off the floor and put it back on the rack where it belonged. Although the room was not yet finished, several men in the church had set up the equipment and begun using it, anyway. Guys didn’t need much—just some barbells and a bench press. Ladies, on the other hand, would want to pretty the room up, get rid of the dust and clutter, hang mirrors, and so forth. “I believe in the importance of staying in shape—taking care of God’s temple,” he said.

“I guess you do,” Serenity said with a thoughtful look on her face. Then, she snapped back into professional mode with another question. “So, what does a day in the life of Phillip McKnight look like?”

“I’m not very complex. I get up around six in the morning. I go for a run, then I dig into the Word of God and pray, have a quick breakfast, and come to the church. Once I’m at church, I either plan my sermon or do some other work around here.”

“Speaking of your sermon,” Serenity said, “what time do you want us back here tonight so that Bob can film the message?”

“The service begins at seven, but I normally don’t start preaching until about seven forty-five.”

“Okay,” Serenity said as she held out her hand to shake Phillip’s. “I think we got some good footage today. So, we’ll wrap up for now and finish everything this evening.”

As Phillip took Serenity’s hand in his, he had to remind himself that this was a business meeting and not a first date. He wanted to kiss her hand, but he restrained himself. When he released her hand, he noticed the Gucci watch on her wrist. His ex-wife had liked expensive things, too, and he couldn’t help wondering if Serenity was just like the woman who’d left him and taken half of his hard-earned money with her.


Publisher’s Note:

This novel is a work of fiction. References to real events, organizations, or places are used in a fictional context. Any resemblances to actual persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version, © 1979, 1980, 1982, 1984 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

A Love for Tomorrow
Book Two in the Second Chance at Love Series

Vanessa Miller

ISBN: 978-1-60374-208-5

Printed in the United States of America

© 2010 by Vanessa Miller

Whitaker House

1030 Hunt Valley Circle

New Kensington, PA 15068

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Miller, Vanessa.

A love for tomorrow / by Vanessa Miller.

p. cm. — (Second chance at love; bk. 2)

Summary: “Christian television show host Serenity Williams is determined never to fall in love with another ego-driven pastor, but then she meets Pastor Phillip McKnight, whose kingdom vision and humble personality begin to change her mind”—Provided by publisher.

ISBN 978-1-60374-208-5 (trade pbk.)

1. African American churches—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3613.I5623L68 2010


No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical—including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system—without permission in writing from the publisher. Please direct your inquiries to


Love Finds You in Victory Heights REVIEWED

Saturday, August 28, 2010

About Finds You in Victory Heights , Washington : The war has stolen Rosalie’s fiancé, Vic, from her forever. But rather than wallow, Rosalie distracts herself by cramming her days full of activity—mainly by shooting rivets into the B-17 bombers that will destroy the enemy.

When a reporter dubs her “ Seattle 's Own Rosie the Riveter,” even more responsibility piles up. Her strong arms bear all this, but when intense feelings surface for Kenny, the handsome, kind-hearted, and spiritually unwavering reporter, the fear of losing another love propels Rosalie to leave.

It’s only when Rosalie realizes that God has brought her to this place—and this person—for a reason, the sparkling grace of God compels her to let go of her own strength and lean on His, as well as open her heart to love.

About Tricia Goyer: Tricia Goyer is the author of twenty-four books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock , Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife. For more on Tricia visit

About Ocieanna Fleiss: Ocieanna Fleiss is a published writer and has edited six of Tricia Goyer’s historical novels. She lives with her husband and their four children in the Seattle area.

Link to buy the book:

My Review: I have to say I am really enjoying all the different war era books that have been coming out within the last 6 months. They all have their different spin on what took place and they invovle a different time period. I loved history and this book is one that covered a time that I didn't study much when I was in school. It was very enjoyable and kept me hooked from page one til the last sentence. I couldn't tell who was writing and that was also a great thing as with co-authored books sometimes they can be stiff, and this wasn't. I highly recommend this one!

~That's Where God Is~ REVIEWED

Friday, August 27, 2010

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 authors are:

and the book:

That’s Where God Is

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

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


Dan and Ali Morrow are parents of two wonderful daughters. When they’re not writing children’s books, they like to go on adventures around their Colorado home.

Visit the authors' website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 36 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (August 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434764346
ISBN-13: 978-1434764348

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER (Click on the pictures to see them larger):

This is a very sweet book of a little boy who wants to know where God is. His Grandfather simply says to him "Why don't you look for Him this week and we'll talk about it next Sunday." Thus begins the child's search for God. Every discovery is marked with scripture. The illustrations are bright and bold. This is a beautiful story that every parent, grandparent or children's worker should have to share with the child in their life. Highly recommended!

Things that really BUGG ME!

bugs Pictures, Images and Photos

dragonfly Pictures, Images and Photos

I have very little tolerance for people who say one thing and do another. I really don't care what someone does, however if someone says that they are still in love with their ex and if said ex would get right with God they just know they'd be able to reconcile and be a family again. Then they turn around and start dating, that to me is just so wrong. Especially when they claim to be a Christian. If you are truly in love with your EX then HEAL before you even think about getting involved with someone else. Don't cheat yourself or the other person. The other thing is what do you think this says to the EX who has heard if you will come back to God we'll have a chance, and then sees that their ex-spouse is dating. Do you think it would have some impact on them coming back to God? Of course it will. We are to be lights, and more than what we say is what we do, so when an ex-spouse who preaches that there would be hope for a reconciliation if the other returned to God, and then they go and begin dating, changing the game plan it can really speak volumes to the one that is away from God. Am I saying that as the ex we are to put our lives on hold, NO, however; if we have said to our former spouse that we are still IN love with them and that we would reconcile if they got back with God, then we need to be patient and work to that end, giving them a time period before moving on, or we can ruin the work that God is doing in their life.

ladyb Pictures, Images and Photos

~When Doctor's Kill~ REVIEWED by Dr. Perper & Dr. Cina & an Interview with Dr. Steve Cina

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Book Description:
Some readers may be shocked by the title of this book, and some may wonder if it is necessary to raise the uncomfortable issue of doctors killing their patients. Murder is clearly antithetical to the art and science of medicine, which is geared toward easing pain and saving lives rather than harming them. Nevertheless, doctors are people too. Physicians have the same genetic library of enabling qualities and defects as the rest of us, but their vocation places them in a position where both faculties good and bad can be exercised.
When Doctors Kill covers the expansive breadth of the maniacs of medicine, as it presents a brief historical background that explains the social, psychological and professional profile of healers. It continues with outline of infamous serial killer physicians throughout the world, some of who chose dictatorship or terrorism over healing. The book concludes with a look at current fashions and trends in medicine. Complementary medicine and alternative therapies may have brought relief to many patients, but they have also resulted in disability, suffering, and death. Through the review of a few high profile, drug-related fatalities, the celebrity-physician relationship will be explored.
Dr. Perper and Dr. Cina have a combined medical experience spanning 60 years. As forensic pathologists, they witness death daily and have investigated hundreds of murders. They accept that most doctors are a force for good, but their book contains accounts of horrible atrocities and features descriptions of graphic murders committed by healers. By shining a cold light on the risks patients face today given the wide array of treatment options, the authors aim to accurately relay the circumstances of when, how, and why doctors kill.

My Interview with Dr. Steve Cina

Out of all of the specialties in the medical field what was it about Pathology that made you choose it?
I originally thought I would enter orthopedic surgery since I had been operated on these specialists several times in high school and college. As I became more exposed to the field, I began to realize that if I pursued this career I could basically become a “knee guy” or “shoulder guy” and do the same 5 operations for the rest of my life. In medical school, I was first exposed to pathology and I became intrigued. I had always had a microscope when I was a little kid and forgot how much I loved looking at cellular detail. In pathology, the variety encountered in your daily practice is endless. You diagnose cancer, dysplasia, infection, inflammatory conditions, and all variants of normal anatomy and physiology. You also become familiar with all type of abnormalities in body fluids coming to the laboratory. If you specialize in forensic pathology, you can add to that gunshot wounds, blunt force, sharp force, toxicology and all manners of death. In forensic pathology, every day is different and challenging.

What is the best and worst part of your job?
The best part of the job is the variety you see on a day to day basis-it is impossible to get board. Visiting crime scenes, testifying in court, and working with the police to solve cases is also very satisfying. The worst part is counseling bereaved families. Every case that I see is someone’s father or son or mother or daughter or husband or wife. It can be emotionally draining-you have to focus on the fact that if you do your job well you can help them and society in general.

As a forensic pathologist has your work been instrumental in solving cases?
You can’t begin to prosecute a crime unless you have a cause and manner of death; that is where my work comes in. Forensic pathologists help put guilty people in jail and ensure that innocent people are not wrongly imprisoned. Further, they play a valuable role in public health. Many traffic safety issues came about through the work of forensic pathologists, particularly through the efforts of Dr. Joe Davis, the former Chief M.E. in Miami. The Hantavirus epidemic a few years back was also first recognized by the forensic pathologists in New Mexico.

In reading the press release about When Doctor’s Kill this book reveals how doctors have been involved in killing their patients – even some of our celebrities like Elvis, Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith, and Heath Ledger. Were you personally involved in any of these cases? Obviously not Elvis.
Anna Nicole Smith came through our Office. This experience led us to develop Guidelines for the Management of High Profile Cases which was published in an international pathology journal.

What, if any is your opinion about Gary Coleman’s recent death.
I haven’t followed this one-too many other cases going on!

Do you think every day patients are at risk of being killed by their physicians or just those with large bank accounts and able to pay a doctor to do their bidding?
Let me first state that doctors are good people and the vast majority are doing the best job they can for their patients. Considering all of the doctors who have ever practiced, we were able to cover the prolific serial murderers, dictators, terrorists, and other killers in a relatively small book. That says a lot. If patients die, chances are it is related to a natural disease process rather than through the actions of their physician. I will say that the ethics of some doctors who distribute drugs indiscriminately, those who operate “pill mills”, are not doing their patients a service. These doctors are basically practicing like the celebrity physicians we hear about on TV but on a more discrete scale. Efforts are underway to try to curtail this practice but it is a major problem.

What does the average day of a Pathologist look like?
Most pathologists are not forensic pathologists. The average pathologist’s day involves looking at slides to diagnose disease and supervising hospital laboratories. Many people are not aware that your pathologist is your other primary care doctor. Any time a biopsy or mass is removed from a patient or any time a lab test is drawn, the pathologist makes a diagnosis and works with the patient’s clinician to ensure that the best course of action is taken to treat the patient. Pathologists just tend to keep a lower profile but they are available to answer questions. The College of American Pathologists, the country’s largest pathology organization, has even put together two useful websites to help patients. provides information to help figure out what their biopsy report means. allows patients to set up email reminders for common screening tests.

Forensic pathology is a bit different. A day may begin with a 3:00 AM call to a homicide scene followed by 4 or 5 autopsies, microscopic slide review, a trial in the afternoon, and paperwork. Actually, that is a pretty nightmarish day. Most days involve only 2 or 3 of the activities above, but sometimes things get a bit crazy.

What was it like writing this book together?
It was great working with Dr. Perper-he is a brilliant man (in addition to being my boss)! In general, he wrote drafts for most of the chapters and did all the research and I tried to massage his prose into something you might enjoy reading on a plane, at the beach, or whenever you have some free time. It is educational and informative, but I believe very readable.

Did you each write a separate chapter?
I wrote the chapters on Fictional Physicians and the section on Anna Nicole Smith. He wrote the rest and I edited it.

Besides having people read and enjoy your book, what would you like them to learn from it?
That your doctor is trying to do the best job possible for you despite working in an environment of increasing governmental regulation, diminishing reimbursement, a constant fear of lawsuits, and leaving school hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. But doctors are people just like the rest of us-we are not perfect. We do make mistakes, and rare doctors do some terrible things-once again, just like the rest of us.

Please feel free to share anything you would like with my readers.
I think I can sum up my feelings with the dedication in the book directed at my 4 children: “Most doctors are good people---in fact, why don’t one of you become one!”

Steve Cina, MD

Thanks! I really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions. I found this book very interesting on many levels. There are 21 chapters in this book and each one reads like it's own book in itself. I found myself getting lost in the information and fancinated by what I thought I knew. Chapter 3 on Alpha Killers which included Jack the Ripper was not only interesting it was quite eye opening. While there is a vast of information none of it is boring, or will put you to sleep. This book reads like a novel at least it did for me and kept me wanting to know more. I highly recommend this book. As a former homeschooling parent I would even recommend this book for homeschoolers. This would be a great reference tool and a book that would be a great read for your students.

Devil In Pew Number Seven

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 Devil in Pew Number Seven

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (July 2, 2010)

***Special thanks to Christy Wong of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***


Rebecca Nichols Alonzo

Becky Alonzo never felt safe as a child. Although she lived next door to the church her father pastored, the devil lived across the street. This tormented man terrorized her family with rifle shots and ten bombings. When these violent acts didn't scare them away, he went even further. During dinner one evening, seven-year-old Becky and her younger brother watched as their parents were gunned down. Today Becky speaks about betrayal and the power of forgiveness. She is a graduate of Missouri State University and has been involved in ministry, including a church plant, youth outreach, and missions, for thirteen years. She and her husband, along with their two children, live in Franklin, Tennessee.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (July 2, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414326599
ISBN-13: 978-1414326597


Walking, Crawling, Dead or Alive

I ran.

My bare feet pounding the pavement were burning from the sunbaked asphalt. Each contact between flesh and blacktop provoked bursts of pain as if I were stepping on broken glass. The deserted country road, stretching into the horizon, felt as if it were conspiring against me. No matter how hard I pushed myself, the safe place I was desperate to reach eluded me.

Still, I ran.

Had a thousand angry hornets been in pursuit, I couldn’t have run any faster. Daddy’s instructions had been simple: I had to be a big girl, run down the street as fast as my legs could carry me, and get help. There was nothing complicated about his request. Except for the fact that I’d have to abandon my hiding place under the kitchen table and risk being seen by the armed madman who had barricaded himself with two hostages in my bedroom down the hall. I knew, however, that ignoring Daddy’s plea was out of the question.

And so I ran.

Even though Daddy struggled to appear brave, the anguish in his eyes spoke volumes. Splotches of blood stained his shirt just below his right shoulder. The inky redness was as real as the fear gnawing at the edges of my heart. I wanted to be a big girl for the sake of my daddy. I really did. But the fear and chaos now clouding the air squeezed my lungs until my breathing burned within my chest.

My best intentions to get help were neutralized, at least at first. I remained hunkered down, unable to move, surrounded by the wooden legs of six kitchen chairs. I had no illusions that a flimsy 6 x 4 foot table would keep me safe, yet I was reluctant to leave what little protection it afforded me.

In that space of indecision, I wondered how I might open the storm door without drawing attention to myself. One squeak from those crusty hinges was sure to announce my departure plans. Closing the door without a bang against the frame was equally important. The stealth of a burglar was needed, only I wasn’t the bad guy.

Making no more sound than a leaf falling from a tree, I inched my way out from under the table. I stood and then scanned the room, left to right. I felt watched, although I had no way of knowing for sure whether or not hostile eyes were studying my movements. I inhaled the distinct yet unfamiliar smell of sulfur lingering in the air, a calling card left behind from the repeated blasts of a gun.

I willed myself to move.

My bare feet padded across the linoleum floor.

I was our family’s lifeline, our only connection to the outside world. While I hadn’t asked to be put in that position, I knew Daddy was depending on me. More than that, Daddy needed me to be strong. To act. To do what he was powerless to do. I could see that my daddy, a strong ex–Navy man, was incapable of the simplest movement. The man whom I loved more than life itself, whose massive arms daily swept me off my feet while swallowing me with an unmatched tenderness, couldn’t raise an arm to shoo a fly.

To see him so helpless frightened me.

Yes, Daddy was depending on me.

Conflicted at the sight of such vulnerability, I didn’t want to look at my daddy. Yet my love for him galvanized my resolve. I reached for the storm-door handle. Slow and steady, as if disarming a bomb, and allowing myself quick glances backward to monitor the threat level of a sudden ambush, I opened the storm door and stepped outside. With equal care, I nestled the metal door against its frame.

I had to run.

I shot out from under the carport, down the driveway, and turned right where concrete and asphalt met. The unthinkable events of the last five minutes replayed themselves like an endless-loop video in my mind. My eyes stung, painted with hot tears at the memory. Regardless of their age, no one should have to witness what I had just experienced in that house—let alone a seven-year-old girl. The fresh images of what had transpired moments ago mocked me with the fact that my worst fears had just come true.

I had to keep running.

Although I couldn’t see any activity through the curtains framing my bedroom window, that didn’t mean the gunman wasn’t keeping a sharp eye on the street. I hesitated, but only for a moment more. What might happen gave way to what had happened. I had to get help. Now, almost frantic to reach my destination, I redoubled my efforts.

I ran on.

To get help for Momma and Daddy. To escape the gunman. To get away from all the threatening letters, the sniper gunshots, the menacing midnight phone calls, the home invasions—and the devil who seemed to be behind so many of them.

But I’m getting ahead of the story.

My Thoughts: I requested to read and review this book because after living all over the U.S. as a child I had never come across a hateful church until I moved to VA as a married adult. People there actually believed that because they help build the church they owned it and could tell the pastor what to do and what not to do. Sadly the pastor got ran out of the church for ridiculous reasons. It is really awful when people allow the devil to use them for this kind of purpose. Read this book, it will give you a new perspective on how we can be used by the devil, yet more importantly how God can use us to minister to our pastoral staff.

~Surrender The Heart~

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Surrender the Heart
Barbour Publishing (August 1, 2010)

M. L. Tyndall


M. L. (MaryLu) Tyndall grew up on the beaches of South Florida loving the sea and the warm tropics. But despite the beauty around her, she always felt an ache in her soul--a longing for something more.

After college, she married and moved to California where she had two children and settled into a job at a local computer company. Although she had done everything the world expected, she was still miserable. She hated her job and her marriage was falling apart.

Still searching for purpose, adventure and true love, she spent her late twenties and early thirties doing all the things the world told her would make her happy, and after years, her children suffered, her second marriage suffered, and she was still miserable.

One day, she picked up her old Bible, dusted it off, and began to read. Somewhere in the middle, God opened her hardened heart to see that He was real, that He still loved her, and that He had a purpose for her life, if she'd only give her heart to Him completely.

She had written stories her whole life, but never had the confidence to try and get any of them published. But as God began to change her heart, He also showed her that writing had been His wonderful plan for her all along!


For the sake of her ailing mother, Marianne Denton becomes engaged to Noah Brennin---a merchantman she despises. But as the War of 1812 escalates, Jonah's ship is captured by the British, and the ill-matched couple learns vital information that could aid America's cause.

Relive the rich history of the War of 1812 through the eyes of Marianne Denton and Noah Brenin, who both long to please their families but neither one wishes to marry the other. Noah is determined to get his cargo to England before war breaks out, and Marianne is equally determined to have a wedding so that her inheritance can be unlocked and her destitute family saved. When their stubborn games get them captured by a British warship, can they escape and bring liberty to their country—and growing love?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Surrender the Heart, go HERE.

Soul Custody

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:

Soul Custody: Choosing to Care for the One and Only You

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

***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Stephen W. Smith and his wife Gwen are co-founders and spiritual directors of The Potter’s Inn Ministry. Smith is a frequent speaker and retreat leader who is committed to the spiritual growth and transformation of individuals, couples, churches, and organizations. He is the author of several books, including The Lazarus Life, and has served as an adjunct professor of preaching at Tyndale Theological Seminary in Badhovedorp, The Netherlands. Steve and his wife have been involved in Christian ministry since 1979.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (August 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434764729
ISBN-13: 978-1434764720


Soul Care

Exploring the Violence Done to Your Soul

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

—Proverbs 14:12

“The violence done us by others is often less painful than that which we do to ourselves.”

—François de la Rochefoucauld

We’re in trouble. We need help. The American dream has turned into an all-too-real nightmare that sears our minds as we try to sleep. Life is not working as we think it should.

Look around you. Listen. You can feel it.

It’s the violence.

News updates constantly inform us that our world is in trouble. Rates of domestic violence are up; gang violence is out of control in many communities; rates of sexual abuse against children are on the rise; substance and prescription drug abuse are rampant. We deadbolt our doors at night and sleep with security alarms set because we fear the violence, the possible harm. We’re convinced it is crouching

at our door.

Job-loss reports and economic peril have acted like napalm, vaporizing our dreams of a retired life on a sunny beach. I recently asked fifty business leaders, “How many of you in this room are living with more fear today than at any other time in your life?” Every single one of them raised a hand.

Technology has been both a blessing and a curse. For some of us life has no meaning apart from Twitter and the Internet. We feel enslaved by our laptops and can’t get along without them. Google brings instant information, but little inspiration. We are overwhelmed at the e-mails, voicemails—even the snail mail crammed into our real mailboxes.

Uncertainty plagues our lives. Talk shows spin pseudo-optimism, and we momentarily believe that maybe it’s not all that bad. Deep down, though, we know it is.

And it is the deep down that concerns me most. We can’t sleep. We don’t eat right. We’re constantly on the go, burning the candle at both ends. Is it any wonder that eight of the top ten drugs prescribed by doctors are mood-altering substances to help us cope with our interior turmoil?

We are sowing havoc and reaping the whirlwind. We are giving up ground that should never be surrendered. We are doing more but living less, making a living but not having a life. Some days it feels

like nothing more than rearranging the deck chairs on the sinking Titanic of our lives.

Violence, all of it. It may not all be physical violence, but it’s still destructive to us and the lives we’d like to live. The outer violence of the world rushes in and does its work on the inside, deep down in our souls.

Look inside. Do you see evidence of soul violence going on in there?

You don’t have to answer me. I know you do. So do I.

We need help. Our very lives are in jeopardy. Is this hell on earth the only way to live until we die? Annie Dillard, a writer, stops us in our tracks: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” If Dillard is right (and I believe she is), redeeming the day is more than just a slogan. We need our days to improve so that our lives can improve.

Can’t we be saved from more than just our sins?

The wonderful news is that this salvation does exist. God never intended for us to suffer the kind of violence that’s being inflicted upon us. He never intended for us to inflict more violence upon ourselves through our own poor decision making. God provides means for us to be healed from the damage done. The kinds of choices we must make to find healing and experience transformation fall under the umbrella of soul care.

I like to remember that the word care has its roots in a Latin word that means “cure.” As we learn to care for our souls, we will also find a sense of healing from the violence happening in and around us. Caring and curing go together.

Thomas Merton said, “To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.” The choice is really not difficult to comprehend. We can either choose to succumb to the outer and inner violence that we are now living in or choose to live in a different way—right here and right now.

We can choose to care for our souls.

The Healing Way

Every single person who feels more dead than alive, more tired than energized, more burned out than motivated, more unfulfilled than thriving is a soul in need—a soul who needs to be cared for. The Chinese have two characters for the English word “busyness,” which they define as “heart annihilation.” We’re killing ourselves with all of our busy, busy, busy. One of the reasons for the overwhelming amount of annihilation around us and in us is that the sin of busyness is very subtle. It’s a subtle sin because busyness is validated, applauded, and affirmed everywhere—and sometimes especially among Christians.

A busy marketplace leader came to me for help, saying he was coming unglued due to all the stress in his life. He began our conversation this way: “Steve, I have a lawyer to keep me legal. I have a doctor to keep me healthy. I have a tax guy to keep me solvent. But I have no one to care for my soul. I feel like I’m going down.”

I went through a long season during which my own life was being annihilated. I was affirmed for my hard work, and the evidence around me validated my strong work ethic. I attacked each day as

something to be conquered. I did more, worked harder, and accomplished a lot in my career. But I was coming up empty inside. The carnage around me was growing. I was losing my soul even though I was gaining the world. Little by little my soul was eroding inside me. My marriage went south. My relationship with my four young sons—well, it was more like I sprinkled “father dust” on them during my quick appearances at meals and, occasionally, at bedtime. Yet I was being affirmed for my successes. Something was deadly wrong. I paid the great price of nearly losing all to gain what, in the end, doesn’t matter at all.1

The purpose of Soul Custody is to help you take back what you might have lost along the way in living your life. Why should we lose our lives in vain attempts to live? For me, caring for my soul has been a journey to reclaim my life—the life I want to live and the life I was intended to live. By choosing to live in life-giving ways, my own life is being healed, cured, restored. Yours can be too!

Soul Custody

Taking custody of your own soul is all about being mindful of your soul and your God, your life and your future, your heart and what it’s beating for—whether for the sacred or only for what is of

this world. Being mindful of your soul simply requires loving the Lord your God with all of your heart and mind. Sometimes loving God is easier than mindfully choosing to live in ways that are life giving—not heart annihilating.

Soul custody is taking back what we’ve almost lost in order to gain what we should never want to lose. Its doing what the word custody implies—taking responsibility for our souls and hearts. This is our sacred privilege.

Of course we really share joint custody of our souls with God. But we can be sure that He will do His part to look after our soul’s wellbeing. Are we holding up our end of the partnership?

Abdicating our role as the custodian of our own soul is handing over our responsibility to someone or something else who may not have our best interests in mind. You know as well as I that there is always someone who wants to tell us how to live, what to buy, where to go. Relinquishing the God-given role of caring for our souls usually results in the paying of a tremendous price, not once, but throughout life. We can choose to sit down and throw our hands up in surrender, or we can assume the God-given role each of us has in caring for our souls. The choice is ours to make.

For example, if we allow our culture to be our soul guardian, we will find ourselves in a continual game of tug-of-war in which we feel pulled between what we’re told to do and what we ought to do. If, on the other hand, we step up to our responsibility to care for our own soul, we can begin to see the transformation that our hearts have secretly yearned for all along. This really is possible—believers through the ages have practiced and benefited from soul care.

As you know, we are not the first to feel the threat for our lives. What we are missing are the old, trusted lessons given us by wise sages, courageous prophets, desert fathers and mothers who knew some things that we need to discover for ourselves—before it’s too late. They, like us, made choices about how they would deal with their own plights against natural disasters, governments gone astray, eras in which disease wiped out entire generations and wars were fought in their own backyards.

What we are going to learn in Soul Custody is how to find our way back to some of those old ways.

The Old Ways

Hundreds of years before Jesus was even born, a Jewish prophet stood in the face of his own culture’s demise and said

Ask for the ancient paths,

Where the good way is, and walk in it,

And you will find rest for your souls. (Jeremiah 6:16 NASB)

The old ways we will explore in this book have been time-tested and documented by men and women who throughout the centuries lived out these choices in their own lives and for their own souls’ sake. They used these ways and choices to help them outlast the whitewater rapids of life that people have navigated for centuries. And in the process they found the life Jesus has wanted for us since the beginning—a life that is rich and satisfying. This is “real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of ” (John 10:10 MSG). Collectively, these courageous souls warned people of the doom ahead unless we chose to live differently. Today, we need that prophetic voice again to be heard before it’s too late—before we lose custody of our own souls.

Listen to how Eugene Peterson renders it: “Many people think that what’s written in the Bible has mostly to do with getting people into heaven—getting right with God and saving their eternal souls. It does have to do with that, of course, but not mostly. It is equally concerned with living on this earth—living well and living in a robust sanity.”2

We only have one soul. We will not get another. This is the only life we will live—so let’s live it well! In living life well, we honor God, honor every facet of our souls, and see that the life that Jesus offers us really is a life of “robust sanity.” Soul care is living with the end in mind but also living well now.

I wonder if you noticed the subtitle on the cover of this book. I don’t want you to miss it: “Choosing to Care for the One and Only You.” You will not be given another life. Or, as you’ve probably heard, this is no dress rehearsal. This is it. You have already begun the journey. You may be just getting started or possibly having to rethink everything due to a crisis, threat, or tragedy. It doesn’t matter where you are. You can begin to live a better, different life.

There are regrets in my life. One is simply this: I wish I would have known then what I know now. Had I known these ways, these practices, I believe I could have made better decisions about how to live my life. At least that’s what I believe today! So much impacts our one and only life, body, and soul. I wish someone had written this book earlier.

I am going to give you the chance to diagnose the state of your own soul and to hopefully make some important corrections. Together we’ll explore ways that seem right but aren’t, choices some thought would bring life but brought nothing but the stench of death. These people are best described as the living dead … barely. As I’ve sat with thousands of men and women who all are wanting the same thing—life—I have seen how so many have made tragic choices that have only led to lives filled with regret and pain.

No matter where you are on life’s spectrum, it’s time right now to start living. It’s time to take custody of your one and only soul.

In Defense of Soul Care

As I talk to people about soul care, I sometimes get resistance. It often sounds like this: “Steve, doesn’t the message of soul care contradict some of the most fundamental teachings of Jesus Christ, like, ‘Deny

yourself,’ and, ‘The man who hates his life will keep it’?”

I suppose the people who object in this way are just trying to be faithful to the Scriptures. But please hear me on this: Caring for your soul is never a selfish or egotistical act. In fact, caring for your soul is the opposite of being narcissistic. It is really an act of stewardship. We steward our souls by caring for them well. How can we continually give what we do not have? Caring for the soul is an act through which God can replenish your heart, restore your soul, and revive your day so you can meet the challenges of life, work, and relationships. Far from being labeled as sin by, soul care is actually a biblical command.

• Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart. For from it flows the wellspring of life.”

• Deuteronomy 4:9 (ESV): “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently.”

• I Timothy 4:15: “Watch your life and doctrine closely.”

As I view today’s Christian landscape, there’s much more emphasis— many more programs, seminars, and strategies on this and that. But seldom are we encouraged to watch out for—and take custody of—our souls.

But perhaps most telling is the way Scripture links loving ourselves and loving others.

We first see this in Leviticus 19:18. It’s given as an actual law. Here we read, “Love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” Obviously this assumes that we love ourselves. And to love ourselves means to take care of ourselves, body and soul.

Other biblical writers expound on this necessary principle multiple times. Jesus himself says loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves are the greatest of all the commandments in the entire law (Matt. 22:3740). Paul repeated that loving our neighbor as ourselves is the summation of the commandments (Rom. 13:9). James calls this kind of love the “royal law” (James 2:8).

When we love ourselves in a healthy way, we are actually moving away from self-centeredness and selfishness, not toward them. True love breeds life. It does not kill life. Paul reminds us that love “does

not demand its own way” (1 Cor. 13:5, NLT).

It is not God who looks down on taking care of oneself. It is our culture that is guilty of spinning the idea of loving ourselves to be selfish. As Walter Trobisch reminds us, “Indeed, we are so ingrained with the idea of self-denial, self-sacrifice and the fear of being egotistical that the admonition to love one’s self seems almost a blasphemy.”3

And remember, we are not just caring for ourselves when we practice our own soul care. We are caring for every single person, thing, event, or aspect of our lives that we will touch and influence. Like Bill, a lawyer for a national law practice, confided in me: “Steve, if I go down, I’ll take a lot of people with me. I cast a big shadow whether I like it or not. I’ve got to get a grip on what is happening in me and around me.”

That’s what is so painful about an imploding soul. Initially it’s a very private feeling, but the ripple effect of one person imploding can have dire consequences for those closest to him or her: the spouse, children, colleagues, and more. When a leader goes down, many people are affected for a very long time. When a man has an affair, when a woman suffers from abuse, or when a child is not loved, it is catastrophic. This is why caring for our souls is so strategic and important. But the opposite is also true: When the values of caring for the soul are embraced, the ripple effect is life giving and God honoring.

We find again and again that it becomes difficult to love others well when there is no love and care for ourselves. So if you are worried that soul care might be selfish, please give that up.

The flight attendant on most airlines says it well: “In the unlikely event of cabin depressurization, place the oxygen mask first on yourself; then help the person or child next to you.” You can’t help anyone else if you are dying for lack of oxygen. It is not a selfish act for you to breathe first, then help the others in need. I hope and believe you agree with me on that.

But now we need to consider what we really mean when we talk about our souls. After all, how do we care for what most of us really don’t understand?

Understanding the Soul

The American poet Mary Oliver was right when she said, “No one knows what the soul is.” Wise men and women in every culture, religion, and time have tried to explain it. There are Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and French words to help us. But if you look for a simple, easy-to-understand definition of the soul, you’ll be hard pressed to find one. The soul has remained a slippery, elusive topic subject to debate. For some, it’s even scary. Some even think it is New Age-ish to speak of the soul.

Yet as far back as history has been recorded there have been human beings, men and women have spoken of the life within. Call it soul, spirit, heart, will, or something else—we still need to grasp what it is we need to take care of in this life.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, we are learning much about the human body. We are making great advances in the war against cancer. We have figured out the structure of DNA and can discern our genetic roots. Stem cell research is all the rage. Yet knowing our soul—understanding the most important part of a human being—is a topic that’s sadly neglected. No surgeon’s knife can find the soul within us. It’s not hiding behind our heart and or just below our kidneys.

D. H. Lawrence wrote, “I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.” I believe Lawrence was right. None of us are machines, built to be wound up, jump started, or given a tune up to run again until we finally wear out. We are far more complicated than that.

When we were conceived in our mother’s womb, not only was a fearful and wonderful body formed, a fearful and wonderful soul was made. Job reminds us of our beginnings when he says,

Oh, that marvel of conception as you stirred together

semen and ovum—

What a miracle of skin and bone,

muscle and brain!

You gave me life itself, and incredible love.

You watched and guarded every breath I took. (Job 10:10-12 MSG)

This “marvel of conception” that Job told us about matters. Your soul is this marvelous and sacred life within you. When you look at your spouse, your children, your friends, you are looking at souls— souls who need just what you need. Everything that is alive needs some form of care. No living thing can survive, much less thrive, without being replenished with life-giving sustenance. You are not the exception. Every living thing needs care.

Our souls and bodies were God-made, not manufactured. We are not machines. We are soulful beings. When God created the first human being, the first breath given to the man made from dirt gave him his soul. We read, “God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive—a living soul!” (Gen. 2:7). From Adam through you and I— we are living souls!

In short, your soul is the real you, the whole shebang—your heart, mind, emotions, desires, and longings all make up your soul. Look in the mirror and you will see more than your body—you will glimpse your soul. The life that is within you is your living soul. It is the truest part of you, and it will live on after you die.

Your soul is the real you. Your body is just the outerwear you live in while on Earth. You may prefer different outerwear, as many of us do. I’d like more hair and have never really understood why my body is hair impaired. But there’s nothing impaired about my soul or yours in terms of the way they were made.

The real you, which God envisioned when He first had you in mind, is deeply loved and is a reflection of God’s image. Your soul is God given, God shaped, God sustained. Yet, as we will find, we play a vital and necessary role in our own soul care. The real and the only you—that part of yourself that is alive right now as you are reading this book—is what matters the most. Take care of you.

Taking Custody of Your Soul

Soul care has incredible potential for good that goes beyond what we might expect. It has benefits for us, benefits for others, and even— believe it or not—benefits for God. These are the benefits that God wants us to take hold of by embracing soul care.

As we care for the soul within us, our lives are transformed in many ways. We will enjoy vast benefits like

• peace and serenity, even in the midst of trying times

• an exuberance about life and an ability to enjoy it

• an ability to make soulful connections with friends

• a growing awareness of God and intimate relationship with Him

• fulfillment through our work and participation in something greater than just “doing our job”

But soul care is not just about focusing on ourselves. It is a very active and involved life. As we care for our own souls, we will inevitably become more aware of the dire conditions of the souls around us. We will sense need. We will want to help. We can help to change the situation. But not if we are empty—not if we are depleted and burned out. The poet David Whyte speaks truth: “When your eyes are tired the world is tired also.”

The real benefit of taking custody of our souls is that we honor God in caring for what He most cares for—us! When we live in healthy ways, we protect our souls from living in continual violence— we are living the “rich and satisfying” life Jesus spoke about and promised—the life He lived!

For example, when we choose to observe the Sabbath, we spend time truly present with God. He is glorified when we take up work that is truly His calling for us, work that fulfills His will. And He is glorified when we care for our body and value it as His created “marvel.”

These are just some of the benefits we can create if we embrace soul care.

And they are the benefits we forfeit if we continue in the way we are going.

One day Jesus issued a prophetic cry that, if anything, echoes louder today in our over-stimulated world. He said, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matt. 16:26). Jesus knew that life is more than doing stuff and accumulating things. Amid all of our gaining, we also need to understand what we are losing: our very soul.

You and I have a clear and high probability of loosing our souls while trying to live. We forfeit our souls every single time we choose to drain ourselves and not replenish ourselves; run on empty rather than stopping and intentionally doing the things that will bring us life; burn out rather than live meaningful, significant, and impactful lives that are enjoyable and life giving to others. We forfeit the life God intended for us when we lower our souls to functioning as machines rather than living as soulish marvels who require more than a quart of oil or a recharging of our “batteries.”

We must take custody of our souls. It all begins with making a choice.

Questions for Reflection

1. Read Matthew 16:26. Name two or three things you think you’ve lost along the way as you’ve lived your life so far.

2. Take a moment and write down words and images to describe “The State of Your Soul” right now. Use

descriptive words that will help convey how you feel you are really doing. You may find it helpful to use a car dashboard analogy describing different gauges, or possibly seasons of the year, maybe even colors.

3. The writer Annie Dillard states: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” How do you feel about how you are spending your days and your life?

4. Violence is a word that you might not have used at first to describe what is going on inside yourself. But what feels violated when it comes to your life—the life you want to live?

5. When you think of taking custody of your soul, what kinds of thoughts do you have?


1 I’ve written about my own story and need for transformation in The Lazarus Life: Spiritual

Transformation for Ordinary People (David C Cook, 2008).

2 Eugene Peterson, “Introduction to Proverbs,” in ReMix: The Message (Colorado Springs,

CO: NavPress, 2003), 870.

3 Walter Trobisch, Love Yourself (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1976), 30.

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