Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Tricia Brock is from the Contemporary Christian band Superchick, which separated some time ago (I honestly don't know when). I recently fell in love with her song What I Know after hearing it in the film, God's Not Dead.
The lyrics are so meaningful and touch my heart. Here's the link for a lyric video on YouTube, if you would like to take a moment to listen to the song. What I Know
The chorus says:
But what I know
Is You my God are real
No Matter how I feel
You've never let me go
And what I know
Is there will never be a day
You aren't just a breath away
And through it all I've got to hold
To what I know
How often do we allow what we "feel" to influence what we think about the Lord? We too often rely on human emotions to determine the truth about God. It's probably not a conscious thought. We don't think, "well, I can't feel God today, so He must not be real" or "I haven't heard from God so He must not care about me" or "I don't feel His presence when I pray, so He isn't listening to me." But the questions remain, right there, in the back of our minds "what if I'm wrong? What if He isn't real?" It's even more difficult when we're going through something and it seems like God has abandoned us. We forget what He promises in His Word and we start doubting Him. Faith takes a beating when we're struggling with life. If we could just hide away from everything that could ever trip us up, then just maybe we would be okay. But, we all know that isn't realistic and isn't going to happen. So what do we do? We focus on what we know about God and who He is. What does His word say about Him? About His character? What promises does He make? Has He been faithful to keep those promises?
I love the song anyway, but what really strikes me is the chorus. Tricia is making a statement of faith. I know my God is real, period. My feelings won't dictate what I know to be true of Him. There's also a reminder that God is always with us." . . . there will never be a day, You aren't just a breath away . . . ." If we can keep the truth about God close to our hearts now, then when we face something that tests our faith, we will be able to say, "what I know, is You my God are real, no matter how I feel. You've never let me go."
Monday, May 19, 2014
Undetected is Dee Henderson's newest book (anyone else love the cover?)! This is a wonderful story about love, trust, and God. The cool part? Gina (the heroine) is a fellow chocoholic! :)
Description:When asked what he does for a living . . .
Commander Mark Bishop is deliberately low-key: "I'm in the Navy." But commanding the ballistic missile submarine USS Nevada, keeping her crew trained and alert during ninety-day submerged patrols, and being prepared to launch weapons on valid presidential orders, carries a burden of command like few other jobs in the military. Mark Bishop is a man who accepts that responsibility, and handles it well. And at a time when tensions are escalating around the Pacific Rim, the Navy is glad to have him.
Mark wants someone to come home to after sea patrols. The woman he has in mind is young, with a lovely smile, and very smart. She's a civilian, yet she understands the U.S. Navy culture. And he has a strong sense that life with her would never be boring. But she may be too deep in her work to see the potential in a relationship with him.
Gina Gray would love to be married. She has always envisioned her life that way. A breakup she didn't see coming, though, has her focusing all her attention on what she does best--ocean science research. She's on the cusp of a major breakthrough, and she needs Mark Bishop's perspective and help. Because what she told the Navy she's figured out is only the beginning. If she's right, submarine warfare is about to enter a new and dangerous chapter.
About the author:
Dee Henderson is the author of numerous novels, including Unspoken, Jennifer: An O'Malley Love Story, Full Disclosure, and the acclaimed O'Malley series. Her books have won or been nominated for several prestigious industry awards, such as the RITA Award, the Christy Award, and the ECPA Gold Medallion. Visit her at www.deehenderson.com.
(Author info copied from book. Description copied from Amazon and cover photo found on www.deepershopping.com)
Another great book from Dee Henderson! 4 stars
I’m a huge fan of Ms. Henderson’s, so I always have high expectations for her books. I’m happy to say that this one was great! Undetected comes after Full Disclosure and Unspoken, though it isn’t necessary to read the other 2 first. Each of them is stand-alone. There are little tie-ins that help readers understand some of the briefly reoccurring characters, but there isn’t a major storyline or plot that would make reading them in order a requirement.
This book starts out a little slow, the first 4 or 5 chapters contain a lot of technical details that made it a little difficult to get in to. I struggled a bit, wading through all of those, but it was definitely worth the effort! I became so engrossed when I did get interested that I spent one whole day doing almost nothing but reading. Also, the details become very useful later on, helping the reader understand at least the basics of what Gina is doing with her research. I really enjoyed Gina Grey. She is so “normal,” though she doesn’t see herself that way. She is a very real character - struggling with things that will resonate with readers and endear her to them. She is a genius, but fights her gift sometimes, because of the long-term ramifications. I appreciated her desire to only create things that would please God. For the most part, she just wants to be “normal,” so she doesn’t have to deal with the strain her inventions place on her and the possibility of their misuse. One of my favorite quotes (and trust me, I have many) is this, “’Think of normal as being what God intends for your life,’ Mark said. ‘Un-normal is everything that’s something other than His plans for you.’” - Mark Bishop, page 127 (excerpt used with permission from the publisher).
Mark Bishop is so sigh worthy. He is the kind of guy most women dream about marrying. He is kind, caring, strong - the prefect match for Gina. It’s not often that I envy a character in a book, but I was really jealous of Gina! Mark wasn’t perfect and got on my nerves a couple times, but I still adored him! I loved how sweet he was with her. Loving her, but trying not to push too hard. Willing to give her space and understanding things about her that most people didn’t get.
The dialogue was interesting. We get to see the story from both Gina and Mark’s point of view, which was fun. I liked knowing what they were thinking. It kept me guessing, trying to figure out what might happen next, based on what was going through each of their minds.
The romance was slow moving and as much as I hate to use this word again, “sweet.” Mark is a bit older than Gina and put a lot of thought into the possibility of a relationship. While I love traditional “chic-lit” with protagonists that just leap into relationships, I really enjoyed the thought and consideration that Ms. Henderson showed through these characters. Dating and contemplating marriage aren’t things to be taken lightly and she illustrated that belief quite well. Before I make this book sound super boring, it isn’t. Yes, it is serious at times, but it is also funny and the kind of book where you just smile and sigh when you read the final page.
Another thing I really appreciated was the descriptions. They were wonderful! Even someone who knows as little about submarines as I do, was able to keep up and have an idea about what was happening. Dee really brought each setting to life and made it seem as though I was actually there!
My favorite part of all of Dee’s books is always the faith aspect. She says such profound and yet somehow simple things through each of her books and this one is no exception. While she doesn’t chose a particular subject to focus on, every topic she wove into the characters’ conversations was gracefully handled. They talk about prayer, trusting God, knowing His will, and several other subjects. If the characters are struggling with something, it isn’t glossed over, but thought, and sometimes talked, out. She doesn’t leave loose ends that make you feel as though you missed something important.
Unfortunately, I do have a couple nitpicking things I need to address in order to explain the 4 star rating. The first is that for probably at least the first 9 or 10 chapters every time Mark or Gina was introduced, whether it was the beginning of their point of view, or they had just entered the scene, we’re told their full name again. It was as though we were just meeting them, even though they were definitely present in the story before then. I found that rather annoying and was very happy when it ended. Also, about three-quarters of the way through the book it seemed as though Ms. Henderson ran out of arguments for Mark to make, so he just kept repeating himself for about 4 pages. These are just a couple annoying little things that are keeping me from giving this book the 5 stars I desire to.
Dee Henderson is a stellar storyteller, who always has unique characters and somehow manages to bring them to life in a way that makes them seem real. I always finish her books feeling as though I’m saying good-bye to old friends.
I highly recommend this book!
I received a complementary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishing for my honest review, which I have given. I was not require to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to read my review! Hope you enjoyed it! I love comments, so feel free to say, "Hi!" and let me know you were here! :)
Before you go, if you would like more details about the book, or are maybe interested in buying Undetected, here are a few links to help expedite that.
Barnes & Noble:
Thursday, May 15, 2014
For Such a Time is Kate Breslin's debut novel. It is a wonderfully written retelling of the story of Esther, with a twist - it is set in 1944 in German-controlled Czechoslovakia.
"When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer . . . 'And who know but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?'" - Esther 4:12-14
In 1944, Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, her Aryan-like looks allow her to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, to maintain her cover as von Schmidt's secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz.
Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths, Stella appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric's indulgence gives her hope even as she risks discovery with every attempt to help the prisoners. When her bravery brings her to the point of ultimate sacrifice, she faces an excruciating choice. God may have brought her to the camp for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she cannot save herself?
About the author:
A Florida girl who migrated to the Pacific Northwest, Kate Breslin was a bookseller for many years. Author of several travel articles, award-winning poet, and RWA Golden Heart finalist, Kate now writes inspiring stories about the healing power of God's love. For Such a Time is her first book. She lives with her husband and cat in Seattle, WA. Learn more at www. katebreslin.com.
(Author bio found on Amazon. Cover photo copied from www.deepershopping.com and book description was copied from back cover, emphasis mine.)
An excellent debut novel! 4 1/2 stars
This is Kate Breslin’s first novel and it is wonderful! I was very excited to read this book for two main reasons - I enjoy books set during WWII and I was curious about how the author would incorporate the story of Esther. I am very happy to say that I was not disappointed in either aspect!
Her attention to detail really brings the story to life, making it seem as though you are actually there, living it with them - which is kind of sad sometimes, since the novel is set in a transit camp for Jews. Ms. Breslin brings out a different aspect of the War that we generally try to ignore, or perhaps forget. I struggled with a few parts of the story that broke my heart for the people who actually lived through it. While this is a fictional account of a transit camp, there is much reality that weaves through it. The author definitely did her research to make this as realistic as possible. This isn’t a light read, or something to just randomly pick up and read a few chapters. It pulls you in and you feel compelled to keep reading to see what will happen next.
As I already mentioned, this book is an adaptation of the story of Esther, from the Bible. I know, you’re probably tired of these novels. It seems so overdone and most of us just want authors to move on and pick another story to focus on. But, I must applaud Ms. Breslin for her creativity. She did an excellent job of bringing this well-loved Bible story to life in a new way that captures your attention and quickly draws you in.
Hadassah Benjamin, or Stella Muller as we know her for most of the book, is a very real character. At the start of the book, I just wanted someone to hug and protect her. She has been abused, tormented, and fears what will happen to her now. I enjoyed watching her come to life and begin standing up for herself. Stella is a bold character from the start. She doesn’t always think before she speaks, making me wonder what she might say next. She has little faith left and is just trying to survive when she is pressed into service as a secretary for a German officer. She must figure out how to continue her façade, especially when continuing means she must betray her people.
Aric von Schmidt is the “hero” in this book. I started out really wanting to hate him, mostly because he is a Nazi. But as the story progresses, I found I didn’t have it in me to dislike him that much. I wanted to shake him and tell him to get it together a few times, but he really is a good man. He is struggling just as much as Stella, just in a different way. He fought in the war before being placed as Kommandant at the camp and has no desire to send anyone to their death, but what choice does he have? This is what he asks Stella when she confronts him about it.
The romance between them was rather sweet and didn’t seem overly contrived. It helped that Stella didn’t just “fall in love,” but thought about it, what it would mean. She is torn between her people and the man she loves. Aric is equally torn, because he doesn’t believe himself to be good enough and knows Stella plans to leave at the first opportunity. It also wasn’t made the main focus of the book, which I appreciated it. It was still there, flowing through the book, but other themes took precedence.
I’m not sure I can pick out one distinct spiritual theme in this book. This definitely isn’t a “preaching book” as some label Christian fiction. The Christian aspect is there, but it is mostly about the characters finding and having faith. Stella believes God has turned His back on her, on them all. She lived the suffering of the Jews and witnesses it again while at Theresientstadt. I enjoyed seeing her slowly make her way back to God and begin to comprehend the Christian faith.
For Aric, what he most craved was redemption, though he didn‘t figure that out for a while. He fears that God will never accept him after what he has done to His people. I also enjoyed his journey, as he starts to care more and more about Stella and then about the Jews. He isn’t the hard hearted man I thought him to be at the beginning.
The only reason I’ve held back ½ a star from my rating is that I found the story a little confusing at times, as the point of view shifted. A few times it changed during a paragraph and I would have to read a few sentences to figure out whose view point it was now, then back track to catch up on what was going on. Thankfully, I can only think of 2 or 3 times when this happened. I found it disrupted the flow of the story, but each time it quickly smoothed back out.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys novels set during WWII.
I received this book through The Book Club Network for my honest opinion, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not received any compensation for it. All opinions expressed are my own.
Thank you for taking the time to read my review! I love comments, so if there is something you'd like to share, please do! :)
Before you go, here are a couple links, if you are interested in purchasing the book, or perhaps reading some other reviews to see what people are saying about it.
Barnes & Noble:
Friday, May 9, 2014
I'm giving away a copy of The Pelican Bride by Beth White! This is a well-written historical novel! Recommended to those who enjoy books that bring history to life!
It is 1704 when Genevieve Gaillain and her sister board a French ship headed for the Louisiana colony as mail-order brides. Both have promised to marry one of the rough-and-tumble Canadian men in this New World in order to escape religious persecution in the Old World. Genevieve knows life won't be easy, but at least here she can establish a home and family without fear of beheading. But when she falls in love with Tristan Lanier, an expatriate cartographer whose courageous stand for fair treatment of native peoples has made him decidedly unpopular in the young colony, Genevieve realizes that even in this land of liberty one is not guaranteed peace. And a secret she harbors could mean the undoing of the colony itself.
About the author:
Beth White's day job is teaching music at an inner-city high school in historic Mobile, Alabama. A native Mississippian, she is a pastor's wife, mother of two, and grandmother of one--so far. Her hobbies include playing flute and pennywhistle and painting, but her real passion is writing historical romance with a Southern drawl. Her novels have won the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, the RT Book Club Reviewers Choice Award, and the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award. Visit www.bethwhite.net for more information.
To be entered in this giveaway, please leave a comment about your favorite historical novel and your email address (you must include your email to be entered in this drawing). Please leave your email in a similar spammer-protected format: suchandsuch[at]anything[dot]com
This giveaway will run through Monday, May 12. The winner will be contacted by email shortly there after. If I do not receive a reply within 48 hours I will draw a new name.
I'm sorry, but this is open to US residents only.
Thank you for stopping by!
A Broken Kind of Beautiful, Katie Ganshert's third novel, is a beautifully written story about God's love and grace.
"Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name. You are mine." Isaiah 43:1
Sometimes everything you ever learned about yourself is wrong.
Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four year old model Ivy Clark. Ten years in and she’s learned a sacred truth—appearance is everything. Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera. This is the only life Ivy knows—so when it starts to unravel, she’ll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother’s bridal wear line—an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white.
If only her tenuous future didn’t rest in the hands of Davis Knight, her mysterious new photographer. Not only did he walk away from the kind of success Ivy longs for to work maintenance at a local church, he treats her differently than any man ever has. Somehow, Davis sees through the façade she works so hard to maintain. He, along with a cast of other characters, challenges everything Ivy has come to believe about beauty and worth. Is it possible that God sees her—a woman stained and broken by the world—yet wants her still?
Author biography:Christy Award-finalist and Carol winner Katie Ganshert is the author of Wildflowers from Winter and Wishing on Willows. She lives in Iowa with her husband and their son. When she’s not busy writing or playing or reading or snuggling, she is obsessing over paperwork and the waiting that comes with adoption.
(Description found on Amazon. The cover photo is from Deeper Shopping, and author bio copied from the book.)
My review: 5 stars
Another amazing book from Katie Ganshert!
This was such a wonderful book that I’m not sure where to start! The storyline had me intrigued from the start. I’d never read a book where the heroine is a model. It’s obvious Katie put a lot of work into researching modeling and the men and women who do it. She shines a light on an aspect of the industry that I’m sure most people don’t consider.
I loved the descriptions and dialogue! Katie really brought the story and setting to life. She made it seem as though I was actually there, watching everything that was going on, eavesdropping on the characters‘ conversations, peering over someone‘s shoulder as I saw the narrative unfold. The characters were so real, which made it hard for me to turn the last page. They felt like friends and I didn’t want them to “go.” Thankfully, when it comes to books, I can “visit” them and read their story again and again.
Ivy Clark is the heroine. She has spent the last 10 years as a model and as a result finds her self worth in her appearance, so when her career comes to a screeching halt, she has nothing left. To be honest, she isn’t a very likeable character when we first meet her. She is pretty snarky, nasty, and rude at times, but it’s mostly a front. She definitely isn’t your typical contemporary Christian romance heroine. She is all sharp edges with a sharper tongue. It was hard for me to like her sometimes, but I fell in love with her quickly. She is so broken and hurting that I couldn’t not care about her. She has been told that she is nothing more than a pretty face and an empty shell, and she believes it. She’s one of those characters that you just want to cry for, because she is so lost and truly believes that no one loves her.
Davis was an interesting hero. He is also broken, but he has found his way back to God. He used to be a photographer, but quit suddenly 2 years before, for reasons unknown except to those closest to him. I really liked Davis. He wasn’t one of those annoying guys that the authors portray as having it all together. He was just as flawed as Ivy, just in a different way. He is sweet, caring, and feels responsible for everyone (his “fatal“ flaw). I enjoyed reading from his perspective, which gives us new insight into Ivy and her personality. Davis confuses Ivy to no end, because he doesn’t act like the men she has known. He treats her with respect and doesn’t get caught on her beauty, but looks deeper. He is sure that there is more to her than the façade she wears like a second skin.
I also loved what some call the “secondary characters” though neither of them were secondary in this story. Marilyn plays a huge part in it and I just adored her. There is also Sara, Davis’ sister, who also has a large role. They are both well rounded and the story wouldn’t have been the same without them. Katie used them to push Ivy and Davis out of their comfort zones and to share some important truths both with the characters and the readers.
The spiritual themes of A Broken Kind of Beautiful are forgiveness and redemption. Davis has been punishing himself for 2 years, feeling guilty for an accident that he sees as his fault. He is sure that God wants him to give up his dream, because he sees it as part of what caused the accident. One of my favorite quotes directed at him is, “It doesn’t matter if I forgive you. It doesn’t even matter if you forgive you. What matters, Davis, is that God already has. So stop wearing your past like a pair of handcuffs.” Davis had to learn to accept the forgiveness he so needed in order to move on.
The theme verse for this book is Isaiah 43:1, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name. You are mine.” I am probably always going to see this as Ivy’s verse now. As I already mentioned, Ivy doesn’t believe anyone loves her, so she doesn’t see how God could possibly want her, how He could call her His. Another of my favorite quotes, this one for Ivy. “I’m glad God doesn’t plunk Himself into the water and wait for us to find Him. I’m glad He chases us like that butterfly.” Ivy hadn’t had anyone care enough to chase after her, but that’s what God does. He constantly pursues us. I loved it when she finally understands that and accepts His love.Katie’s books always touch my heart and challenge my faith, and this one is no exception. It is wonderfully written, compelling, and real.
I highly recommend this book to everyone.
(Note: all quotes were used with permission from the author.)
A few questions to think about:
Ivy and Davis both have something important to learn about God and His character. Has He been teaching you anything in particular?
I kind of think of Isaiah 43:1 as Ivy's "life verse" - do you have a verse that is especially meaningful to you?
Have you read A Broken Kind of Beautiful? If so, was there anything that really stood out to you? Something Katie brought out that you really needed to hear?
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed my review! Please leave me a comment, if you have time, letting me know what you think. Is there anything I can do to improve my future posts and reviews?
Before you go, here are a few links if you are interested in purchasing the book, or maybe reading some more reviews to see what others are saying about it. :)
Barnes & Noble:
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Four unexpected letters. Four intrepid women. Four lives changed forever.
Spanning a century and a continent, these romantic novellas will lead you on a journey through the landscape of love. Four young women find their lives altered after each receives a letter that sets her on a new path. From a Hudson River steamboat to a remote hospital, you’ll be swept into the lives of women who are making their way in the world and finding love where they least expect it.
Moonlight Promises by Laurie Alice Eakes
Camilla Renfrew is a highborn English lady fleeing false accusations when she runs smack into love one a steamboat bound for the new Erie Canal. But can this unexpected attraction survive the treacherous journey?
Lessons in Love Ann Shorey
Marigold Montgomery Bentley writes marriage advice for Kipler’s Home Weekly even though she is single. Everyone assumes from the initials that “M. M.” is a man. When the editor asks to meet Mr. Bentley, can Merrie come up with a ruse to keep her writing job?
One Little Word by Amanda Cabot
Lorraine Caldwell will lose her family fortune to a reckless cousin if she doesn’t marry quickly. When she learns her long-lost brother is alive she hopes she’s found the answer to her problems. What she finds instead is a mysterious carousel carver who turns her life upside down.
A Saving Grace Jane Kirkpatrick
Grace Hathaway must rescue a dear friend from a remote and notorious clinic that promises healing but delivers only heartache. In a place laced with deceit, when lives hang in the balance, whom can she trust to help her?
About the authors:
Jane Kirkpatrick is the award-winning author of many novels, including A Flickering Light. She is a frequent speaker at conferences and lives in Oregon. Visit www.jkbooks.com for more.
Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. She lives in Wyoming. Visit www.amandacabot.com for more.
Laurie Alice Eakes is the author of The Midwives series and The Daughters of Bainbridge House series. Laurie Alice writes full-time from her home in Texas, where she lives with her husband. Visit www.lauriealiceeakes.com for more.
Ann Shorey is the author of the At Home in Beldon Grove series and the Sisters at Heart series. Ann and her husband make their home in southwestern Oregon. Visit www.annshorey.com for more.
My review: 3 1/2 stars
I should probably start by saying that I don’t generally care for novellas that much, so you should keep that in mind while reading my review.
This is Revell’s (a division of Baker Publishing Group) first historical novella collection, featuring the well-loved authors Amanda Cabot, Laurie Alice Eakes, Jane Kirkpatrick, and Ann Shorey. I had only read 2 of the authors’ books, so I wasn’t sure what to anticipate. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped. The stories, while well written, did not connect at all. The only similarity in each novella is that the heroines received letters that send them on an adventure.
Moonlight Promises by Laurie Alice Eakes
While this novella was quite good, I wanted a little more character development, and I struggled with the two main characters falling in love in such a short time. The romance was rather unbelievable at times, while being sweet at others. I had a hard time with Camilla’s character. I didn’t like her very much, which meant I didn’t connect with her like I normally do. She was lying by omission and when found out, both her and Captain Black’s reactions seemed a little unrealistic. On the positive side, the descriptions were excellent, the story was fast paced, and it held my attention.
Lessons in Love by Ann Shorey
This one I believe was my favorite. I loved Merrie and her quirks, and Colin was sweet. The romance was also believable, because the characters had known each other for some time and it wasn’t rushed or forced.
The spiritual aspect was also there, though it was a little underdeveloped, in my opinion. I did like that each of them struggled with the situation and that Merrie finally made it right in the end. The ending was a little rushed. I wished the story could have been a few pages longer, in order to make it seem more complete.
One Little Word by Amanda Cabot
Amanda Cabot did an excellent job with this story. The characters were well rounded, the descriptions vivid, and it didn’t lag anywhere. I liked Lorraine and Jonah, each character had their quirks, which just made them more believable. The romance wasn’t rushed and I liked their relationship and sparring.
My only complaint about the novella is that it was so predictable. I just wanted them to figure it out and get on with it.
Saving Grace by Jane Kirkpatrick
If Ann Shorey’s gets the label of being my favorite, then this one gets least favorite. I didn’t care for it at all and wasn’t able to finish it. At first I just couldn’t get into it, then Grace was such a ninny! She kept changing her mind, her thoughts made little sense, and we never get to see Claude’s point of view. I honestly don’t know how he fell in love with her. She was loony and kept getting into trouble. This story actually ruined the whole book for me. I won’t be able to read any of them again, simply because I disliked this one so much.
Over all, this book was okay. I really wanted to love it, but I couldn’t. I recommend this book if you really enjoy historical books and are looking for a few quick reads.
I received this book through The Book Club Network for my honest review, which I have given. I was not require to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.
Monday, May 5, 2014
Have you ever stopped to consider the people in the stories we read in the Bible? I was recently reading the account in John 8 where the teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery before Jesus, intending to trap Him with His answer. Here is the passage.
"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such woman. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stopped down and wrote on the ground.
At his, those who had heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."
John 8:3-11, NIV
Okay, first off, does anyone else wonder why the men weren't punished, too? Why is it only the women who were stoned? Not saying I think they should have stoned the men (or anyone for that matter), but something should have happened to them, right? It only seems fair.
Now that I've got that out of the way, let's look at it from the different perspectives. Imagine you're reading this as a novel, and each person has a point of view. I'll start with the Pharisees and teachers of the law.
They have this woman with them, who is accused of adultery, right? I'm guessing someone (her husband, maybe?) brought her before them to be punished. They see this as they're chance. They've hated Jesus for months and they will finally be able to trap him. Imagine what is going through they're minds. What do you think? I'm guessing they're thinking something along the lines of, "Finally, we'll be rid of him! This so called 'Teacher' won't be able to make fools of us for much longer." So they march up to him, dragging her along. They are so smug as they stand there, asking Jesus what he has to say . . . but wait. What is he doing? He's bent down, writing in the dirt! This isn't at all the reaction they expected! So they ask again, "what do you say about her?" I imagine Jesus gives this long suffering sigh as he stands. "If any of you is without sin, you may throw the first stone." (paraphrased) Then he bends down again, doesn't even watch to see what they will do. Can you picture their shocked expressions? "What is this?" They're probably thinking. "He isn't condemning her. How is this possible? She was caught! She is guilty! But, what can we do now? We will be seen as uncaring hypocrites if we continue to press the point." So they shuffle off, pride probably crushed again (anyone else notice that Jesus was good at that?) That's the end of them, for now. They leave to plot again.
Next, we have the woman, who the Bible leaves nameless. Put yourself in her shoes. Here she is, standing before a crowd and this well-known Teacher, humiliated. I imagine her being rather sloppily dressed, head down, awaiting the verdict, the first stone to be thrown. I'm going to try to write this from her perspective.
Yeah, I've heard stories about this teacher, the one called Jesus. How he has healed the sick, fed a bunch of people, forgiven the sinner. But me? Why would he bother with me?
So, I stand there, listening to the Pharisees build the case against me, the crowd moving closer to see what is happening. What do I care? I'll be dead soon, anyway. I just wait, staring at the ground, trying to be inconspicuous. I don't want to see the man's face when he tells them to kill me. No way will this guy, or the men who hauled me here let me go. Then, just as I'm resigned to my fate, what does this "teacher" do? He bends over and starts writing in the dust! I crane my neck to see what he is writing. Is he ordering my death, but is too weak to say it out loud? You have to admit, it's probably not that easy to send someone to their death. Or is he crazy and not the great man I've heard so much about? The Pharisees keep asking him what his opinion is - they obviously want me dead! "Just leave him alone!" I mentally scream. "Let him play in the dirt if it means I live to see another day!"
He looks up at me, at the crowd, and what he says shocks me! "If any of you are without sin, you may throw the first stone." What?! He isn't telling them to kill me? As the crowd begins to move off, I stay. I have a question for him. "Why? Why did you defend me?" But the words stick in my throat. I can't ask.
Jesus looks up again and sees me standing there. He asks where everyone is, has no one condemned me? "No one, sir." I reply.
"'Neither do I condemn you.'" Jesus declared. 'Go now and leave your life of sin."'
Wait! What?! That's it? Just go and leave that life behind? But, why? No one has ever cared about me before. Why didn't he have me stoned? And did he just forgive me? What makes him different?
Puts the story in a whole new light, doesn't it? When I was reading the verses, it just hit me. Jesus knew everything about this woman. He knew her sin, her past, her future, yet He chose mercy for her. He gave her a second chance. He knows everything about each one of us, too. He wants us to choose His mercy, His forgiveness, the second chance He offers us. He died to give everyone this gift, but so often, we refuse it, or feel we have to earn it. A gift isn't something you can earn. It is something freely given.
What has God been showing you lately?
Have you ever tried putting yourself in the shoes of someone in the Bible? If so, who? If not, are you interested in trying it?
Do you think I should have more posts like this?
Well, thank you if you took the time to read all of this! I hope it blessed you in some way. If you have time, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear your thoughts!