Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Where In The World Is Becky?

A couple of months ago I changed to a new Gmail address.  It was a pain to log out of my new account to access my blog, which was tied to my old account - so I switched blogs to http://dailybedky.blogspot.com - that's why this blog always directs you to that site.

That leaves me with two blogs to maintain:  Daily Bedky (Book Reviews) and Becky Blogs (My Everyday Blog).  I have kept the blogs separate because I get a lot of books and I didn't want to clog Becky Blogs with all of those reviews.  As it turns out, I get so many books that I have been way behind in my reading and almost always post the pre-made reviews from the tours.  I haven't been liking that at all.

So, a few weeks ago, I made a decision to only request a book if it really, really, really sounds like something I would like to read (as opposed to one that really sounds good).  I also decided to merge the two blogs together so that the book tours would get the readership it deserves.

Having said that, if you've come to this blog looking for a book blog tour, you will find it at http://beckyperry.us.  I am also going to let the director of the blog tours know so that they will be aware of the change and know where to find me.  I promise no more blog hopping!!   You can find me at:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Angel Harp by Michael Phillips

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:

Angel Harp

FaithWords (January 26, 2011)

***Special thanks to Sarah Reck, Web Publicist, Hachette Book Group for sending me a review copy.***


Michael Phillips has been writing in the Christian marketplace for 30 years. All told, he has written, co-written, and edited some 110 books. Phillips and his wife live in the U.S., and make their second home in Scotland.

Visit the author's website.


Widowed at 34, amateur harpist Marie "Angel" Buchan realizes at 40 that her life and dreams are slowly slipping away. A summer in Scotland turns out to offer far more than she ever imagined! Not only does the music of her harp capture the fancy of the small coastal village she visits, she is unexpectedly drawn into a love triangle involving the local curate and the local duke.

The boyhood friends have been estranged as adults because of their mutual love of another woman (now dead) some years before. History seems destined to repeat itself, with Marie in the thick of it. Her involvement in the lives of the two men, as well as in the community, leads to a range of exciting relationships and lands Marie in the center of the mystery of a long-unsolved local murder. Eventually she must make her decision: with whom will she cast the lot of her future?

Product Details:

List Price: $16.99
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (January 26, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 044656771X
ISBN-13: 978-0446567718


Rhythm of Secrets

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Rhythm of Secrets
Kregel Publications (December 22, 2010)
Patti Lacy


Patti Lacy, Baylor graduate, taught community college humanities until God called her to span seas and secrets in her novels, An Irishwoman's Tale and What the Bayou Saw. She has two grown children and a dog named Laura. She and her husband can be seen jog-walking the streets of Normal, Illinois, an amazing place to live for a woman born in a car. For more information, visit Patti's website at www.pattilacy.com, her blog at www.pattilacy.com/blog, and her Facebook daily Artbites.


Sheila Franklin has masqueraded as the precocious daughter of avant-garde parents in colorful 1940s New Orleans, a teen desperate for love and acceptance, and an unwed mother sent North with her shame.

After marrying Edward, Sheila artfully masks her secrets, allowing Edward to gain prominence as a conservative pastor. When one phone call from a disillusioned Vietnam veteran destroys her cover, Sheila faces an impossible choice: save her son and his beloved…or imperil Edward’s ambitions.

Inspired by a true story, The Rhythm of Secrets intermingles jazz, classical, and sacred music in a symphony trumpeting God’s grace.


“A vibrant journey across time in search of the greatest truth of all: grace.”—Tosca Lee, author of Havah: The Story of Eve and Demon: A Memoir

“No longer a ‘well-kept secret,’ Patti Lacy is a master storyteller who speaks to the soul with a powerful and unique rhythm, weaving a tale so emotionally rich that story and reader become one.”—Julie Lessman, author of The Daughters of Boston series and A Hope Undaunted
“Patti Lacy pens another beautifully written story in The Rhythm of Secrets. I couldn’t put it down!”—Melanie Dobson, award-winning author of The Black Cloister
“The Rhythm of Secrets is a stirring story of faith and endurance that will keep readers turning the page until every last secret is revealed.”—Tina Ann Forkner, author of Ruby Among Us and Rose House

If you would like to read an excerpt of Rhythm of Secrets, go HERE.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Beating Cancer

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:

Beating Cancer: Twenty natural, spiritual, and medical remedies that can slow--and even reverse--cancer's progression

Siloam (January 4, 2011)

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***


Francisco Contreras, MD, is director, president, and chairman of the Oasis of Hope Hospital, a cancer-care facility in Mexico widely known for integrative treatment methods, and the new Oasis of Hope California (45 minutes south of Los Angeles). A distinguished oncologist and surgeon, Dr. Contreras is also a lecturer and the author of The Hope of Living Long and Well, Health in the 21st Century, A Healthy Heart, and The Hope of Living Cancer Free.

Visit the author's website.

Daniel Kennedy, MC, has a master’s degree in counseling and partnered with Crystal Cathedral Ministries and Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship to found Worldwide Cancer Prayer Day after his father was healed of cancer. He also holds a Master’s of Business Administration and serves as chief executive officer of the Oasis of Hope Hospital, directing and implementing its mission to improve the physical, emotional, and spiritual lives of cancer patients. As overseer of counseling at Oasis of Hope, he has developed psychological and spiritual programs for patients that complement the hospital’s integrative medical therapy.

Visit the author's website.


You are not powerless over cancer. Dr. Francisco Contreras and Daniel Kennedy offer practical and empowering scientific information that will give you hope as they explain twenty specific things you can do to improve your chance of slowing and even reversing its progression in your body.

You’ll discover:

How to lower your cancer mortality risk by 60 percent

The anticancer medicine in every produce aisle When chemo is effective—and when it isn’t

Which drugs give you temporary relief—but can cause long-term problems

How conventional and alternative medicine can work together to fight cancer

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Siloam (January 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381566
ISBN-13: 978-1616381561


I(Francisco Contreras) must have been daydreaming, but the vision in my mind certainly seemed real. I saw a beautiful tenyear-old girl staring at me over the nameplate on my desk: Dr. Francisco Contreras, Surgical Oncologist.“My name is Sarah. Who are you?”

“I am Dr. Contreras,” I replied. “And who are you?”At that point I quickly reviewed Sarah’s case notes and began to interview her and her parents. Ever since Sarah first noticed a big lump on her arm a year or so before, she had spent more time in medical institutions than at school or at home. She had already endured one surgery, after which she had hoped that everything would again be all right.Yet her parents still acted strangely when she was around. They weren’t as strict as they’d once been, and they spent many hours behind closed doors crying. Sarah began to wonder if the big term the doctor had used to explain her problem had upset her parents. It took her weeks to learn

how to pronounce and spell it: non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Whatever it was, Sarah knew it wasn’t good. Her parents told her, “The doctors are offering you chemotherapy, but they said it wouldn’t help you much. What do you want to do?” “I know I am in God’s hands, and I have peace,” Sarah replied. Her parents decided to look for a different approach. That is when Sarah became our patient at Oasis of Hope.“Dr. Contreras . . . Dr. Contreras . . . Dr. Contreras . . . ” Suddenly, I snapped out of my daydream in response to the voice of an angelic vision of beauty standing before me dressed in a wedding gown. It was Sarah! “Can it be true that twelve years have passed since God delivered Sarah from cancer?” I asked myself. My wife and I then took our seats to witness one of the most inspiring weddings we have ever attended.

All of Sarah’s family and friends were there. We were sitting in the next-to-the-last pew, where I suddenly found myself crying so uncontrollably I began to worry that I’d use up all the moisture in my body. The joy I felt was overwhelming.

Soon Sarah stood at the altar with the young man of her dreams, who immediately became the envy of every bachelor who had ever met Sarah. I only wished that I had a son old enough to marry this lovely, talented, sweet young woman, thus bringing her forever into my own family!

Sarah credits God, her parents, and my father, Dr. Ernesto Contreras Sr., for her victory over cancer. She is right to do so, but I would add to that list her own determination, starting when she was just a little girl. She now is a college graduate and serves the Lord with her husband, who is the pastor of their youth group. They also have a precious little boy.

How was she able to overcome the insurmountable? Four words come to mind: openness, flexibility, adaptability, and commitment. Sarah and her parents looked beyond the tunnel-vision, chemotherapeutic attack on cancer that had already failed. They opened themselves up to other options. They were flexible and willing to try new treatments. They were able to adapt to different circumstances.

Above all else, they were totally committed to seeing Sarah well again. And perhaps all of that, taken together, explains why they were able to embrace an eclectic, multifaceted approach that depended on them every bit as much as it did on the doctors.

It All Begins With Philosophy

Sometimes chemotherapy and radiation work, and sometimes they don’t. If you and your doctor subscribe to the philosophy that you will have no hope if the medicine doesn’t work, then you won’t have any such hope. Your philosophy will either limit your possibilities or open them up.

My point is that everything begins and ends with philosophy—the paradigm by which we frame every aspect of our existence, the filter that helps us to decide how and what we think. If you doubt, simply consider the entire academic world. It doesn’t matter what field a person might choose; the highest degree is a Doctor of Philosophy (abbreviated as

PhD). You can get a PhD in immunology, anthropology, mathematics, literature, and many other disciplines as well.

Perhaps as a natural consequence, the philosophy of medicine, as birthed in the early twentieth century, has evolved into the treatment paradigm of the twenty-first century. Think about that for a moment! The twentieth century was an era of scientific breakthrough and technological advance, yet we began it without electricity, television, airplanes, and computers.

The scientific and technological revolutions of the twentieth century had a profound impact on the medical field as well. Scientists developed an arsenal of pharmaceuticals designed to address just about every pathogen. Meanwhile, even as I write these words, new technologies such as lasers, 3-D imaging devices, proton therapy, robotic surgery,

DNA laboratory exams, cyberknives, and fiber-optic cameras are assisting physicians in the field. The results of all these advances have been impressive.

For example, acute medicine is now at the top of its game. Doctors can save life and limb in ways never before thought possible. If Humpty Dumpty had been brought to a modern trauma center, he would have gone back together in no time at all.

In addition, once-complex medical procedures such as angioplasty and open-heart surgery have now become routine. People don’t fret anywhere near as much as they used to when they go under the knife. Technology has transformed the operating room into a much more controlled environment than ever before.

Overall, we owe the scientific method for most of the important advances in medicine. Science has awed all of us at one time or another, and it continues to do so on a regular basis. The development of scientific methodology has evolved to such an extent that not even the sky is the limit anymore. In fact, every month I put some money in my piggybank because I want to go on the first commercial trip to outer space!

Inner space has been no match for scientific methodology either. It took less than two decades for scientists to unravel the trillions of letters of the human genome, the code of life.

Again, most projects like that have conquered outer and inner space because of vision, intelligence, planning, and perseverance, combined with adequate funding and strict adherence to scientific methods. Thus many tasks once thought impossible have now been made almost routine.

But somewhere in the shadow of all these scientific victories, cancer still lurks as the unconquered enemy. Hundreds of years after it was first identified, cancer in most (or all) of its forms still manages to evade, elude, and confound the best efforts of the best scientists.

The old Way Just Doesn’t Work!

When faced with monumental challenges, scientists of all disciplines must first learn all they can about what they want to conquer—the moon, bacteria, or cancer. Experts of all disciplines generally evaluate each challenge through a process called SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). They analyze everything on both sides of the

equation, including their own SWOTs, before they can hope to map out a strategic action plan.

As in conventional warfare, scientific theory says that the side with more strengths and opportunities should overcome the side with the most weaknesses and the least chance to evade and avoid threats. Yet until now, cancer has defied everything that science has thrown at it. It has dodged or defeated every hopeful advance. After four decades of

tireless efforts by countless scientists around the world spending hundreds of billions of research dollars, the conquest of cancer still seems out of reach.

Is all this true because the scientific method is not as effective as we once thought? Or is it because cancer’s strengths are insurmountable?

My answer to both questions is an emphatic no! I am convinced that tackling cancer from a different perspective will generate positive results. Current treatment and research paradigms have literally become the problem, as embodied within two fundamental aspects of that framework: (1) the methods and (2) the goals of modern research.

Many of the treatments being explored today do not have as their goal a complete cure for cancer. Instead, the goal is a drug treatment to hinder and slow the progress of this dreaded disease. While drug treatments can lessen the impact of cancer, making it a chronic disease that does not end in death, it is important to remember that there are no

“magic bullets.”

Put another way, I feel the goal of pharmaceutical companies and the

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to isolate the single agent that could bring about “the cure.” But cancer has many different causes. Therefore there is no one substance that will cure it in all instances and in all people. We must use great caution when applying new drug therapies and never forget the need for personally tailored medical treatment. Will Health-Care reform Be the Answer?

I’m sure that with the health-care reform currently being enacted, more Americans will have access to medical management, but inevitably it also means that the care will be diluted. For instance, in England many drugs available in the United States are off limits, and waiting time for doctor’s appointments, scheduled scans and surgeries, etc. are quite long. Now more than ever we should take responsibility for our health and do all we can to prevent loss of our health through preventive measures in order to depend as little as possible on government health-care systems.

Health-care reform is a topic that I watch carefully. I am always on alert of how government regulation will limit or improve my ability to help patients beat cancer. I believe that many more people could be cured of cancer just through health-care reform. I am tempted to get excited when I hear politicians begin to take on the challenge of reforming how health care is delivered. But the sad reality is that it really isn’t about health-care reform. It is really about payer reform, that is to say, who is going to pay, how it will be paid, and what will be paid for.

When the focus is about the payment of health care, the care made available to patients usually is brought down to the least common denominator. I have seen this firsthand in Mexico where medicine is socialized, which means the government runs the hospitals and everybody has equal access to health care. But the reality is that while everybody has

equal access, not everybody has access to equal levels of treatment. To get the latest cancer treatments, which are always the most expensive drugs, only people who can go outside of the system and pay cash will have the chance to get those treatments. The government-run hospitals have limited resources that have to be spread out to cover everybody. This limits patients’ access to the best treatments.

Imagine that you have prepared soup for ten people, but one hundred arrived, and you have no more ingredients. You may have to add a lot of water. Now the nutritional value each of the one hundred receives is far less than what the original ten would have received. Watered-down health care is what will be delivered if the focus on health-care reform continues to be about who will pay what.

The health-care reform that we need should be focused on health. We need to start changing our research funding policies. Today, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), dedicates less than 2 percent of its budget to researching how to prevent cancer. This is tragic because every year, the incidence of cancer increases. The amount of money spent on treatment continues to

balloon because more and more people are getting sick. The true cure to cancer is to never get it at all. If more research dollars were spent on prevention, and preventative measures were found and implemented, there would be hope for fewer people ever getting cancer. The money spent on treatment would then decline and the vicious cycle could be broken.

The other shift in research that is needed is for fewer studies to be done on drug therapies and more studies to be done on natural therapies. I am enthusiastic because there are more studies underway in the arena of natural therapies at major institutions than ever before.

The biggest way to improve how patients are treated would be to do away with malpractice insurance. The best high-wire artists have always been the ones who have walked that narrow path without a safety net. If a doctor is treating you without the malpractice safety net, he or she will spend more time with you to make sure you receive the highest quality of care as well as the friendliest care. But listen, I am a doctor, so I

am not coming against doctors with this suggestion. I am really against the system that rewards money for improper or negligent health care. It should not be about the money. It should be about the quality of health care. If a patient or the family member feels that the care was negligent or even criminal, the claim should be made to the medical boards and

it should be about the physician’s license, not about cash awards. If the medical board would find the doctor guilty of malpractice, his or her license could be revoked or suspended until the physician received further training and correction. This would bring the focus back to health care, not money.

Even as I am writing this, I am just two days away from a visit from Patch Adams to the Oasis of Hope. In his dream hospital, no doctor would ever be allowed to carry malpractice insurance. He believes that doctors must become real friends with a patient and that a patient would never sue the doctor if they knew that the doctor really cared for them. Patch and I will have a conversation on camera on the healing power of the doctor-patient relationship, and by the time this book gets into your hand, you will be able to see the video online at www.oasisofhope.com. Please visit the website and watch the video. I am sure that it will be quite interesting.

Where Are We going, and How Will We get There?

In the spring of 2004, Fortune magazine featured a riveting cover of solid black with a big red headline: “Why We Are Losing the War Against Cancer.” The subtitle added, “And How We Can Win It.” My immediate reaction was to wonder why they had taken such a negative approach. I was well aware of how badly we need to get the upper hand, but even I was shocked to read their inside information on cancer research.

The author explained that more than $14 billion in private and government funds are spent in America every year on searching for the cure, but little progress has been made. Each research project is managed independently, and the various research centers do not share information with one another.

Remember the story of the six blind men trying to describe an elephant? Each man touches a different part of the elephant, such as the leg, tail, and tusk. They then describe the elephant based on the one part that they felt and discover they completely disagree with each other. The story illustrates the misconceptions that can come about when a

person’s perspective is limited to one small piece of a bigger picture. Clearly, no one in cancer research is working with the big picture. And yet, according to Fortune, we could win the war against cancer if the National Institutes of Health would obligate researchers to share information and coordinate their efforts.

Sadly, I agree that more information sharing would be beneficial, but I doubt that one single remedy would be enough. The more basic problem is that researchers are starting from the wrong place, and they’re aiming for a destination that probably doesn’t exist. Let me repeat what I hope I have already made plain: I don’t think the cure to cancer exists in the form of one substance, technique, or apparatus. I do believe that cancer can be defeated, but only through a multifaceted, eclectic approach.

Let me rephrase this in simpler terms. The search for a magic bullet is a waste of time and resources. It is tantamount to chasing rainbows, hoping to find that elusive pot of gold at the end.

Such an approach reminds me of the always-broke investors who aim only for the “big score,” in contrast to the professionals who take a little bit of profit from every little trade and wind up rich.

Likewise, science has uncovered many, many things that can diminish the power of cancer, but the goal of many in the research community remains that one huge score.

Our goal is to share with you the many “small” things you can do to minimize cancer’s advantages. This means you must consider your doctor a member of your treatment team, not your boss. You must take responsibility for your own health and make informed decisions. Do not accept the status quo!

Approach cancer from every viable angle you can identify. In so doing you will develop a powerful personal philosophy, and you will put policies in place that will serve you well in your mission to undermine cancer.

That is precisely what Sarah and her parents did, and it worked. She has now been free of cancer for more than twenty years.


Monday, January 24, 2011


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Barbour Publishing, Inc.(January 1, 2011)
Ronie Kendig


Ronie has been married since 1990 to a man who can easily be defined in classic terms as a hero. She has four beautiful children. Her eldest daughter is 16 this year, her second daughter will be 13, and her twin boys are 10. After having four children, she finally finished her degree in December 2006. She now has a B.S. in Psychology through Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Getting her degree is a huge triumph for both her and her family--they survived!!

This degree has also given her a fabulous perspective on her characters and how to not only make them deeper, stronger, but to make them realistic and know how they'll respond to each situation. Her debut novel, Dead Reckoning released March 2010 from Abingdon Press. And her Discarded Heroes series began in July 2010 from Barbour with the first book entitled Nightshade.

This is the second book in the series.


Step into the boots of a former Marine in this heart-pounding adventure in life and love. Colton “Cowboy” Neeley is a Marine trying to find his footing as he battles flashbacks now that he’s back home. Piper Blum is a woman in hiding—from life and the assassins bent on destroying her family. When their hearts collide, more than their lives are at stake. Will Colton find a way to forgive Piper’s lies? Can Piper find a way to rescue her father, trapped in Israel? Is there any way their love, founded on her lies, can survive?

If you would like to read an excerpt of Digitalis, go HERE.

Jesus In The Present Tense

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:

Jesus in the Present Tense: The I AM Statements of Christ

David C. Cook (January 1, 2011)

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


Dr. Warren Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher and the former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago. For ten years he was associated with the Back to the Bible radio broadcast, first as Bible teacher and then as general director. Dr. Wiersbe has written more than 160 books, including the popular “Be” series of Bible commentaries, which has sold more than four million copies. He and his wife, Betty, live in Lincoln, NE.


As Warren Wiersbe writes, “My past may discourage me and my future may frighten me, but ‘the life I now live’ today can be enriching and encouraging because ‘Christ lives in me.’” In Jesus in the Present Tense, Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe explores the “I AM” statements of God—from His burning bush conversation with Moses, to His powerful reassurances to the Israelites, to Jesus’ startling claim to be the Light of the World. Jesus in the Present Tense offers a fresh exploration of God—the I AM.

God doesn’t want us to ignore the past, but the past should be a rudder to guide us and not an anchor to hold us back. Nor does He want us to neglect planning for the future, so long as we say, “If it is the Lord’s will” (James 4:13-17). The better we understand our Lord’s I AM statements, and by faith apply them, the more our strength will equal our days (Deut. 33:25), and we will “run and not grow weary [and]…walk and not be faint” (Isa. 40:31). We will abide in Christ and bear fruit for His glory today—now.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (January 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781404878
ISBN-13: 978-0781404877


Moses Asks a Question

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

—Exodus 3:13

When Helen Keller was nineteen months old, she contracted an illness that left her blind and deaf for life. It was not until she was ten years old that she began to have meaningful communication with those around her. It occurred when her gifted teacher Anne Sullivan taught her to say “water” as Anne spelled “water” on the palm of her hand. From that pivotal experience, Helen Keller entered the wonderful world of words and names, and it transformed her life. Once Helen was accustomed to this new system of communication with others, her parents arranged for her to receive religious instruction from the eminent Boston clergyman Phillips Brooks. One day during her lesson, Helen said these remarkable words to Brooks: “I knew about God before you told me, only I didn’t know His name.”1

The Greek philosophers wrestled with the problem of knowing and naming God. “But the father and maker of all this universe is past finding out,” Plato wrote in his Timaeus dialogue, “and if we found him, to tell of him to all men would be impossible.” He said that God was “a geometrician,” and Aristotle called God “The Prime Mover.” No wonder the apostle Paul found an altar in Athens dedicated to “The Unknown God” (see Acts 17:22–23). The Greek philosophers of his day were “without hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). But thinkers in recent centuries haven’t fared much better. The German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Hegel called God “the Absolute,” and Herbert Spencer named Him “the Unknowable.” Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychiatry, wrote in chapter 4 of his book Totem and Taboo (1913), “The personalized God is psychologically nothing other than a magnified father.” God is a father figure but not a personal heavenly Father. British biologist Julian Huxley wrote in chapter 3 of his book Religion without Revelation (1957), “Operationally, God is beginning to resemble not a ruler but the last fading smile of a cosmic Cheshire cat.” The fantasies described in Alice in Wonderland were more real to Huxley than was God Almighty!

But God wants us to know Him, because knowing God is the most important thing in life!


To begin with, knowing God personally is the only way we sinners can be saved. Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). After healing a blind beggar, Jesus later searched for him and found him in the temple, and the following conversation took place: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” asked Jesus. The man said, “Who is he, sir? Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

Jesus replied, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you” (John 9:35–38). The man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he fell on his knees before Jesus. Not only was the beggar given physical sight, but his spiritual eyes were also opened (Eph. 1:18) and he received eternal life. His first response was to worship Jesus publicly where everybody could see him.

This introduces a second reason why we must know who God is and what His name is: We were created to worship and glorify Him. After all, only little joy or encouragement can come from worshipping an “unknown God.” We were created in God’s image that we might have fellowship with Him now and “enjoy Him forever,” as the catechism says. Millions of people attend religious services faithfully each week and participate in the prescribed liturgy, but not all of them enjoy personal fellowship with God. Unlike that beggar, they have never submitted to Jesus and said, “Lord, I believe.” To them, God is a distant stranger, not a loving Father. Their religious lives are a routine, not a living reality.

But there is a third reason for knowing God. Because we possess eternal life and practice biblical worship, we can experience the blessing of a transformed life. After describing the folly of idol worship, the psalmist added, “Those who make them [idols] will be like them, and so will all who trust in them” (see Ps. 115:1–8). We become like the gods that we worship! Worshipping a god we don’t know is the equivalent of worshipping an idol, and we can have idols in our minds and imaginations as well as on our shelves.

Our heavenly Father’s loving purpose for His children is that they might be “conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29). “And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man [Adam], so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man [Jesus]” (1 Cor. 15:49). However, we should not wait until we see Jesus for this transformation to begin, because God’s Holy Spirit can start changing us today. As we pray, meditate on the Word of God, experience suffering and joy, and as we witness, worship, fellowship with God’s people, and serve the Lord with our spiritual gifts, the Spirit quietly works within us and transforms us to become more like our Lord Jesus Christ.

The conclusion is obvious: The better we know the Lord, the more we will love Him, and the more we love Him, the more we will worship and obey Him. As a result, we will become more like Him and experience what the apostle Peter called growing “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Paul took an incident out of the life of Moses (Ex. 34:29–35) and described it this way: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). Moses didn’t realize that his face was radiant, but others saw it! He was being transformed.

God commands us to know Him and worship Him because He wants to give us the joyful privilege of serving and glorifying Him. Commanding us to worship isn’t God’s way of going on a heavenly ego trip, because we can supply God with nothing. “If I were hungry,” says the Lord, “I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it” (Ps. 50:12). He commands worship because we need to worship Him! To humble ourselves before Him, to show reverence and gratitude, and to praise Him in the Spirit are essential to balanced growth in a normal Christian life. Heaven is a place of worship (Rev. 4—5), and we ought to begin to worship Him correctly right now. But unless we are growing in our knowledge of God and in our experience of His incredible grace, our worship and service will amount to very little.

Salvation, worship, personal transformation and loving service are all part of living in the present tense and depending on our Lord and Savior. “And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).


Moses spent forty years in Egypt “being educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22). Then he fled for his life to Midian, where he spent the next forty years serving as a shepherd. Imagine a brilliant PhD earning a living by taking care of dumb animals! But the Lord had to humble Moses before He could exalt him and make him the deliverer of Israel. Like the church today, the nation of Israel was only a flock of sheep (Ps. 77:20; 78:52; Acts 20:28), and what the nation needed was a loving shepherd who followed the Lord and cared for His people. The Lord spent eighty years preparing Moses for forty years of faithful service. God isn’t in a hurry.

The call of Moses started with the curiosity of Moses. He saw a bush that was burning but not burning up, and he paused to investigate. “Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect,” said British essayist Samuel Johnson, and Moses certainly qualified. He saw something he couldn’t explain and discovered that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was dwelling in that burning bush (Deut. 33:16). The Lord God had come to visit him.

What did that remarkable burning bush signify to Moses, and what does it signify to us? For one thing, it revealed the holiness of God; because throughout Scripture, fire is associated with the dynamic holy character of the Lord. Isaiah called God “the consuming fire” and the “everlasting burning” (Isa. 33:14; see also Heb. 12:29). Note that Moses saw this burning bush on Mount Horeb, which is Mount Sinai (Ex. 3:1); and when God gave Moses the law on Sinai, the mountain burned with fire (Ex. 24:15–18; Acts 7:30–34). How should we respond to the holy character of God? By humbling ourselves and obeying what He commands. (See Isa. 6.) Theodore Epp wrote, “Moses was soon to discover that the essential qualifications for serving God are unshod feet and a hidden face.”2 How different a description from that of “celebrities” today, who wear expensive clothes and make sure their names and faces are kept before their adoring public. God wasn’t impressed with Moses’ Egyptian learning, for “the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight” (1 Cor. 3:19). God’s command to us is, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). When the prodigal son repented and came to his father, the father put shoes on his feet (Luke 15:22); but spiritually speaking, when believers humbly surrender to the Lord, they must remove their sandals and become bondservants of Jesus Christ.

The burning bush also reveals the grace of God, for the Lord had come down to announce the good news of Israel’s salvation. He knew Moses’ name and spoke to him personally (Ex. 3:4; John 10:3). He assured Moses that He saw the misery of the Jewish people in Egypt and heard their cries of pain and their prayers for help. “I am concerned about their suffering,” He said. “So I have come down to rescue them” (Ex. 3:7–8). The Lord remembered and honored His covenant promises with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the time had come to deliver His people.

It was by grace that God chose Moses to be His servant. The Lord wasn’t disturbed by Moses’ past failures in Egypt, including the fact that even his own people had rejected his leadership (Ex. 2:11–15). Moses was now an old man who had been away from Egypt for forty years, but this didn’t hinder God from using him effectively. The Lord knows how to use the weak, foolish, and despised things of the world to humiliate the wise and the strong and ultimately to defeat the mighty (1 Cor. 1:26–31). God would receive great glory as Moses magnified His name in Egypt.


If Moses was going to accomplish anything in Egypt, he needed to know the name of the Lord, because the Israelites would surely ask, “Who gave you the authority to tell us and Pharaoh what to do?” God’s reply to Moses’ question was, “I AM WHO I AM.” Moses told the Israelites, “I AM has sent me to you” (Ex. 3:14). The name I AM comes from the Hebrew word YHWH. To pronounce this holy name, the Jews used the vowels from the name Adonai (Lord) and turned YHWH into Yahweh (LORD in our English translations). The name conveys the concept of absolute being, the One who is and whose dynamic presence works on our behalf. It conveys the meanings of “I am who and what I am, and I do not change. I am here with you and for you.”

The name Yahweh (Jehovah, LORD) was known in the time of Seth (Gen. 4:26), Abraham (14:22; 15:1), Isaac (25:21–22), and Jacob (28:13; 49:18). However, the fullness of its meaning had not yet been revealed. The Law of Moses warned the Jews, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Ex. 20:7; see also Deut. 28:58). Their fear of divine judgment caused the Jewish people to avoid using the holy name Yahweh and to substitute Adonai (Lord) instead.

In nine places in the Old Testament, the Lord “filled out” or “completed” the name I AM to reveal more fully His divine nature and His gracious ministry to His people.

• Yahweh-Jireh: The LORD will provide or see to it (Gen. 22:14)

• Yahweh-Rophe: The LORD who heals (Ex. 15:26)

• Yahweh-Nissi: The LORD our banner (Ex. 17:15)

• Yahweh-M’Kaddesh: The LORD who sanctifies (Lev. 20:8)

• Yahweh-Shalom: The LORD our peace (Judg. 6:24)

• Yahweh-Rohi: The LORD my shepherd (Ps. 23:1)

• Yahweh-Sabaoth: The LORD of hosts (Ps. 46:7)

• Yahweh-Tsidkenu: The LORD our righteousness (Jer. 23:6)

• Yahweh-Shammah: The LORD is there (Ezek. 48:35)

Of course, all of these names refer to our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Because He is Yahweh-Jireh, He can supply all our needs and we need not worry (Matt. 6:25–34; Phil. 4:19). As Yahweh-Rophe, He is able to heal us; and as Yahweh-Nissi, He will help us fight our battles and defeat our enemies. We belong to Yahweh-M’Kaddesh because He has set us apart for Himself (1 Cor. 6:11); and Yahweh-Shalom gives us peace in the midst of the storms of life (Isa. 26:3; Phil. 4:9). All the promises of God find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). Yahweh-Rohi takes us to Psalm 23 and John 10, encouraging us to follow the Shepherd. The armies of heaven and earth are under the command of Yahweh-Sabaoth, and we need not panic (Josh. 5:13–15; Rev. 19:11–21). Because we have trusted Yahweh-Tsidkenu, we have His very righteousness put to our account (2 Cor. 5:21), and our sins and iniquities are remembered no more (Heb. 10:17). Jesus is Yahweh-Shammah, “God with us” (Matt. 1:23), and He will be with us always, even to the very end of the age (Matt. 28:20). “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” is still His guarantee (Heb. 13:5). In His incarnation, Jesus came down to earth, not as a burning bush but as “a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground” (Isa. 53:1–2; see also Phil. 2:5–11). He became a human, a man, for us (John 1:14); He became obedient unto death for us and became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus became a curse for us and on the cross bore the curse of the law for us who have broken God’s law (Gal. 3:13–14). And one day “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2)!

What is God’s name? His name is I AM—and that is also the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Angel Harp

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Angel Harp
FaithWords (January 26, 2011)
Michael Phillips


Michael Phillips has been writing in the Christian marketplace for 30 years. All told, he has written, co-written, and edited some 110 books. Phillips and his wife live in the U.S., and make their second home in Scotland.


Widowed at 34, amateur harpist Marie "Angel" Buchan realizes at 40 that her life and dreams are slowly slipping away. A summer in Scotland turns out to offer far more than she ever imagined! Not only does the music of her harp capture the fancy of the small coastal village she visits, she is unexpectedly drawn into a love triangle involving the local curate and the local duke.

The boyhood friends have been estranged as adults because of their mutual love of another woman (now dead) some years before. History seems destined to repeat itself, with Marie in the thick of it. Her involvement in the lives of the two men, as well as in the community, leads to a range of exciting relationships and lands Marie in the center of the mystery of a long-unsolved local murder. Eventually she must make her decision: with whom will she cast the lot of her future?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Angel Harp, go HERE

The Daniel Fast

I was excited to get this book because my family and I just started on a journey to become vegans. This book is an excellent resource for that as well as going on a Daniel Fast. The recipes look delicious and not difficult at all. I look forward to trying many of them.

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:

The Daniel Fast Made Delicious: The simple fruit and vegetable fast that will nourish you

Siloam (January 4, 2011)

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***


John and Ann Marie Cavazos created these recipes while serving on the staff of their Central Florida church when they realized that people were simply starving on carrot sticks every time the church held a Daniel Fast, instead of enjoying the variety of delicious, healthy foods that were originally intended to be part of this ancient eating plan.


A cookbook on the topic of fasting may sound like an oxymoron, but this eating plan modeled in the biblical account of the life of Daniel, often called a Daniel Fast, is actually loaded with fresh, delicious, health-promoting foods. The Daniel Fast Made Delicious includes more than 175 recipes, many of which are 100 percent gluten free and dairy free. Filled with easy instructions, simple steps, spiritual inspirations, and interesting food facts and figures, these Daniel Fast recipes are as nourishing to the soul as they are to the body.

Product Details:

List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Siloam (January 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381809
ISBN-13: 978-1616381806



Dear fellow Daniel Fasters:

This recipe book is not like anything else you’ve seen before. A recipe book for a fast—seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? I mean, isn’t the point of a fast not to eat? Well, in this case the Daniel fast is about what you can eat. The Daniel fast is a unique fast—taken from the biblical account in Daniel 1:8–21 where Daniel and his three Hebrew friends ate only vegetables and drank water for ten days. Our favorite part is verse 8, which reads, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies…” This is indicative of the kind of man Daniel was—a man of purpose!

Our goal here is not to talk about fasting, per se, or give you tons of supporting scriptures. If you have prepared and purposed to fast, then you probably already know these things or have read about them in books far more poignant than ours. Rather, this book seeks to give you options, and more of them, as you embark on this unique fast known as the Daniel fast.

The incarnation of this recipe book began in response to our congregation complaining that they didn’t know what else to eat besides lettuce and carrots when embarking on a Daniel fast. This told us that, number one, people didn’t know much about vegetables, and number two, they probably didn’t eat many vegetables! In addition, we found them spending more time bored with the lack of variety of food and less time focusing on why they were fasting. We decided to present recipes that would help them spend less time concerning themselves with what they shouldn’t eat and more time deciding what they could prepare for their families. Thus, The Daniel Fast Made Delicious was birthed!

Back in 2004, during one of our Daniel fasts, we felt frustrated because we really wanted to see people enjoy the fast and benefit from eating fruits and vegetables. We were walking around a lake near our home when the Lord popped an idea into Ann Marie’s spirit. She heard the word “Pumpkin Lasagna.” She had no idea what that was, but the Lord told her He would show her how to prepare that and other healthy dishes using only vegetables and fruits.

A journey of learning began where we educated ourselves about vegetables— we shopped and prepared and ate things we never dreamed we would eat. We did a lot of experimenting—sometimes hit, sometimes miss—and we loved it, our kids loved it, and what’s more, our family and friends loved it! We began preparing healthy dishes made only with vegetables and inviting our family and friends over to share in the fun. It quickly became apparent our signature dish would be Annie’s Pumpkin Lasagna (chapter 2), since everyone loved it. The rest is history!

Now, the idea is not for you to eat more—you’re on a fast, so you’re supposed to eat less. Use these recipes to make the most of the food you are eating during your fast, but turn your plate down for one or two meals as you feel God leads—

and only if your health permits. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.

The idea behind this recipe book is simply to educate you and to give you more healthy choices for you and your family as you embark on the Daniel fast. Those of you with spouses or family members who are not joining you on the fast will find this book invaluable. For those of you with children who are not fasting or who are picky eaters, there are some wonderful recipes in this book that will allow you to keep to the fast and also feed your family and not skip a beat when it comes to flavor! All of the Daniel fast recipes in Section 1 are wheat, gluten, and dairy free as well as vegan! In addition, the ingredients used in all of these recipes are organic—we encourage you to use organic whenever possible. If this is not possible, we encourage you to use a fruit and vegetable

wash on all nonporous fruits and vegetables. Additionally, with all of these recipes we use cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil because studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while raising HDL (good) levels. For further information, see www .healingdaily.com/detoxification-diet/olive-oil.htm. Why cold pressed? Cold-pressed oil is produced with the use of a low heat technique, which keeps the flavor, nutritional value, and color of the oil. Although it is more expensive it is also of higher quality. For further information, see www.wisegeek.com/what-is -cold-pressed-oil.htm. One last comment: we like a lot of garlic and cilantro in our food, and our recipes reflect this. Feel free to adjust the amount of garlic or cilantro in any of the recipes in this book to suit your family’s tastes.

People tend to think that to eat healthy means to eat yucky—not so. The secret is in how you season and prepare your food. These healthy recipes will not only show you different kinds of foods you might not have thought about before, but they also give you some great ideas on how to season and prepare your meals. It’s all about choices, and the more informed you are, the more choices you’ll have. After the fast is over, don’t run out and get fast food! In Section 2 we have included dozens of healthy recipes so you can transition from the Daniel fast to making healthy eating a lifestyle! In addition, the pasta dishes are wheat and gluten free.

Medical studies now confirm that a large percentage of the health problems in America are digestive related. According to the website Digestive System Disorders, digestive issues for the most part cause a number of diseases, such as colon, rectal, and stomach cancer; diarrhea; diverticular disease; digestive tract gas; heartburn; hepatitis; inflammatory bowel disease; irritable bowel syndrome; lactose intolerance; and stomach and duodenal ulcers. According to a recent article written on digestive disorders:

The function of the digestive system is to take the food and liquids that we put into our mouths and then either turn these foods and liquids into nutrients or energy needed by the cells of our body, or alternatively turn them into waste products that are then expelled

by our body as bowel movements. When something goes wrong with this everyday process and some part of the process doesn’t work properly, the end result is one kind or another of a digestive system disorder. There are many common digestive system disorders.

In fact, almost any natural health practitioner will tell you that food, good or bad, plays a definitive part in your health. The Daniel fast is a wonderful way to begin a life of good eating and good health. When we started doing the Daniel fast many years ago in our church, we started at the beginning of the year, around January 7, and for the next twenty-one days we consumed vegetables, fruit, and water—only! We did the fast for a number of reasons. First of all, turning your plate down and using that time to spend with the Lord is always a good thing. Second, after the holidays, most of us had abused food so much with all the celebrating we had done that we actually looked forward to the fast. Third, after a few years, a number of our members began to experience the benefit of the fast, because not only did we lose weight but also we felt better. Symptoms our bodies had manifested—such as heartburn, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome—began to disappear. (NOTE: These recipes should never be used in place of physician-prescribed medications or medical procedures prescribed by your doctor for any and all medical conditions.)

Back in 1999, after we had moved from New York to Florida, our girls, who were six and eight at the time, seemed to always be getting colds, runny noses, ear infections—something anyone with children knows something about. I grew tired of taking them to the doctor every so often just to have the doctor give them another antibiotic. I was sharing my frustrations about this with our dear friend Ruth Chironna. She asked me if I gave our girls cow’s milk. “Of course,” I replied. “What else is there to give them?” She told me to get them off of it and introduce them to rice milk. I immediately began introducing a little bit of rice milk mixed in with cow’s milk until I had weaned them off of dairy altogether. That was over a decade ago, and I can count on one hand the number of times in the last decade when they’ve been really sick or had really bad colds—and they never had another ear infection. They are now eighteen and twenty and are for the most part extremely healthy! This extended into our food, and before we knew it, we were eating better and going to the doctor a lot less. Do we ever cheat and have that slice of pizza or a burger? Sure! But everything in moderation! Changing our diet to include more vegetables, fruit, no sodas, and more water has significantly altered our lives. We trust that as you employ these changes, starting with the Daniel fast recipes, you will experience the kind of health that God intended for us to enjoy!

Whether you begin the Daniel fast at the beginning of the New Year or want to start it right now, we believe that The Daniel Fast Made Delicious is going to change the way you look at food, the way you prepare food, and the way you feel about food. Get started today! You’re going to love these recipes!

What more can we say but…

Bon appétit!

Buen provecho!

Guten appetit!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Someone To Blame

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Someone To Blame
Zondervan (September 21, 2010)
C. S. Lakin


C. S. Lakin is a novelist and professional copyeditor and writing coach. She is currently working on her eleventh novel, a contemporary family saga drawn from the biblical story of Jacob. Someone to Blame(Zondervan), an intense relational drama and winner of the 2009 First Novel contest, released in October 2010, and she is also the author of the allegorical adult fantasy series The Gates of Heaven, featuring The Wolf of Tebron and the upcoming release The Map Across Time (March 2011). She is currently completing her tenth novel and developing a dog memoir of epic proportion.


In the wake of heartrending family tragedies, Matt and Irene Moore move with their fourteen-year-old daughter, Casey, to a small town. Their goal is to get far away from the daily reminders that leave each of them raw and guilt-ridden. Their hope is to find redemption, repair, and renewal. Instead, the threads that hold them together unravel even more.

Breakers, a small community perched on the rocky coast of the Pacific Northwest, is draped with cold isolation that seems to mirror the hearts. As they settle into their new life, old grief settles with them. Matt is always on edge and easily angered, Irene is sad and pensive, and Casey is confused and defiant. They've once more set the stage for calamity. Into this mix comes Billy Thurber, a young drifter with his own conflicts, whose life unexpectedly entangles with the Moores'.

His arrival in Breakers parallels a rash of hateful and senseless crimes, and soon the whole town -- eager for someone to blame -- goes after Thurber with murderous intent. Out of this dangerous chaos, however, the Moores find unexpected grace and healing in a most unlikely way.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Someone To Blame, go HERE.

Friday, January 14, 2011

That's Where God Is by Dan and Ali Morrow

Where is God? Join a little boy as he searches for God's presence in a powerful storm, a friend's help, his sister's kindness, and his own heart---and rejoice with him when he recognizes that God is everywhere!

A delightfully illustrated book for 4- to 8-year-olds. Includes an introduction by Lee Strobel. 36 pages, hardcover

It's No Secret by Rachel Olsen

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:

It’s No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know

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

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


Rachel Olsen is a writer, editor, and speaker on staff with Proverbs 31 Ministries. She serves as Editor-in-Chief of their online devotions, “Encouragement for Today,” with a readership of more than 375,000. She also writes for and serves on the editorial board of the P31 Woman magazine. Olsen is a national women’s speaker who enjoys interacting with audiences at women’s retreats and conferences from coast to coast.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (September 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434765377
ISBN-13: 978-1434765376


Always RSVP

Revealing the Secret to Responding to God

Everyone has a story. Everyone chooses to ignore God, (re)define God, or search for God and respond to Him as He truly is. I’ve done all three.

When I was growing up, my family attended church in a brown brick building with stained-glass windows and bright red carpet. The sanctuary smelled faintly of wood. I’m surprised I remember the smell; we weren’t there often—a few times a year.

I don’t remember much about going to church other than feel­ing embarrassed by my mother’s singing. We rarely went, but each time we did Mom sat us front and center, and then she sang as loudly as she could. She sang with passion, but she couldn’t carry a tune with a U-Haul. Being from the South I’m required to follow that criticism with “bless her heart.” (So let it be noted here that I blessed my momma’s can’t-sing-a-lick heart.)26 It’s No Secret

I listened to the pastor’s sermons, but I didn’t understand much about the subject matter. From what I could gather, God was good and He didn’t do bad things. So I concluded that if I wanted God to like me I, too, needed to be good and not do anything bad. Being a proper Southern girl, I very much wanted God to like me.

I thought believing in God and trying to do the right thing was what church was all about. I didn’t realize that—because Jesus lived, died, and rose—I could have a dynamic relationship with the God of the universe and He would delight in empowering me to live well. Instead, I assumed it took willpower. Like a diet or a marathon.

Glimpses of Revelation

When I was twelve, my mother called me into her room and patted the edge of the bed. I sat down beside her. With an unsettled look on her face, she revealed she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer. The room started to spin, splintering my carefree world within its centrifugal force.

She explained something about cells and masts. Then she braced me for the likelihood that the treatments would cause her hair to fall out. That did it. I ran from the room crying inconsolably. My momma, sick, without her pretty auburn hair? It was too much for a tweenager to take in. I might have been only twelve at the time, but I understood the importance of big hair to Southern women.

During the months of cancer treatments that followed we went to church more often. About this time our church employed a new minister, and I really liked him. I understood more of his sermons, perhaps because I was desperate, or maybe because I was growing Always RSVP 27

up. All I know is I sensed something stirring in a dormant chamber of my heart.

I asked Mom to buy me a Bible; she did. I sat on the floor one Saturday, sunlight streaming through my window, and read through Genesis. (OK, I might have skimmed a little bit.) Then I skipped to the middle—because I’d never read a book this long—and read through Matthew, Mark, and part of Luke. Then I skipped to Revelation to find out how the book ended.

I don’t know if you’ve spent much time in Revelation, but it isn’t exactly light reading material. Challenging concepts make it difficult to grasp, especially for a clueless tween with no decoder ring. I closed the book, remembering the stories about Jesus. He lived doing good, which reconfirmed my notion that I had to be good and do good to make heaven’s invitation list. I’d finally made a Jesus-sighting, but I was still missing His point. I didn’t hear His message of mercy.

I set out to be and do good. I unloaded the dishwasher without being asked. I invited less-popular kids to sit at my lunch table. I even said “yes ma’am,” and “no sir” to my teachers. But inevitably something would happen to throw me off my good game. Someone would insult me, something would depress me, or some boy would pass a note my way.

After a year or so of mastectomy recovery and radiation treat­ments, my mother’s cancer went into remission. Things returned to normal around our home. Sadly, the preacher I liked so well left to pastor another church, and my interest in the things of God faded as my interest in the things of my peers grew. I didn’t give God much thought during my high school years, preferring to focus on fashion, sports, boys, and music.28 It’s No Secret

Halfway through my freshman year of college, my brother called to tell me Mom had again been diagnosed with cancer. This time, it was a brain tumor. His words sank into my own brain, creating a mass of stress and fret.

One night, I lay alone in my dorm room trying to sleep when I thought I saw Jesus standing in the corner. He didn’t say anything; He just looked at me, His arms extended toward me. He looked just as He did in the statues you see in old churches—long brown hair and white flowing robe. I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or hallucinat­ing, but I decided it meant that my mom was going to be OK.

Turned out, the tumor was inoperable. The doctors resorted to chemotherapy and radiation, but I could tell they didn’t think it’d work. I spent my spring semester driving the two hours back and forth between college and home. By exam week I was sick with a sinus infec­tion, probably stress-induced. I’d take an exam, drag myself back to my room and sleep, then stagger—coughing and sniffling—to the next test. At the end of the week, I lugged myself home.

Hope Deferred

That Sunday, Mother’s Day, I visited Mom at the cancer center, determined to keep a smile on my face and do my best to cheer her up. I didn’t want her worrying about me. I purchased a sweet card and wrote, “Thank you for being my mom.” When I arrived, the nurse told me I couldn’t enter her room because I was sick.

I still remember the sterile feeling of the cold, hard floor in the hall outside her room, where I sat and cried. But it’s Mother’s Day, my mind protested between sobs, but she’s dying anyway…. Even today, the memory stings my eyes with tears.Always RSVP 29

A few days later I was better, but Mom had worsened. She came home from the cancer center with hospice care. A couple days after that, she couldn’t respond to me beyond raising her eyebrows at the sound of my voice. Panic set in as I realized I was losing contact. She was sliding away, and I was powerless to stop the inevitable.

Later that evening, my dad and I went out to grab dinner, leav­ing Mom under my grandmother’s watch. As we returned, I spotted a police car parked out front—and I knew. I ran to the bedroom to find my beautiful, vibrant mom lying lifeless.

She was gone. I was seventeen.

That night my life passed before me. Not my history with my mom, but my future without her. Where my prospects once looked promisingly bright, I now saw a haze of uncertainty.

I cried on the shoulder of a family friend. Gasping for breath and wiping away tears, I questioned, “What will I do when it comes time to graduate and my mom isn’t there to pin on my cap and clap? Or when I set out on my own and I don’t have my mom to advise me? What happens when I get married, and have babies, and I don’t have a mom to help me?”

Placing her hands on my trembling shoulders, she stared into my moist eyes. “When those times come, Rachel, God will make sure you are taken care of.” She spoke the words with enough cer­tainty that I resolved to believe her.

Filing that promise away in my heart, I held on to the hope that God would somehow become a mother to me. I had nothing else to cling to. My dad and brothers argued over Mom’s will, then went their separate ways. I didn’t just lose my mom; I lost my whole family that May.30 It’s No Secret

Coming Undone

In the fall I headed back to college, where I majored in journalism. I spent weekends trying to drown my sorrows at fraternity parties. I recall stumbling home one evening and walking into my closet, where I caught sight of one of my mom’s sweaters. My knees buckled beneath me as heavy sobs ensued. I realized the party life wasn’t fixing anything; it was an insufficient distraction. But I didn’t know how else to find relief.

My junior year I met a corduroy-clad young professor with uncommon wisdom and peace. He taught two of my classes, sched­uled back-to-back. As the weather turned cool and leaves crunched underfoot, we’d walk across campus together from one class to the other. I learned he was a Christian. He felt like a safe place. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt that way around anybody.

I found myself telling him about my mom, my fractured family, and my uneasiness about the future. I asked him questions about his faith. He answered convincingly, and when the semester ended, he invited me to his church.

Inside that prefab metal building I witnessed vibrancy. Those people possessed hope, joy, and peace, all of which I coveted. I learned about Jesus and how His shed blood washes away my sin and unites me with God—even though I don’t deserve such kindness.

I discovered God doesn’t just want me to be good, He wants me to be in Him—hand in hand, heart to heart. I realized it isn’t just a matter of willpower and proper performance He’s after, but a grow­ing relationship through which He’ll shoulder most of the burden to make me vibrant. Yahweh so desires that I bear His image, I learned, He will transform me into His likeness through His Spirit. He can Always RSVP 31

make the most tarnished Southern belle glorious. In fact, in Him my purpose is found and fulfilled. In coming to Him I’d become a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a bride. All in Him, and all to Him.

After attending church two Sundays, I responded to this divine truth. I walked to the front, acknowledged my need for Jesus, and handed Him the jumbled mess of my broken heart. I asked Him to forgive me, clear the haze, and untangle my knotted-up hopes and dreams.

Inside a priceless decoder ring, God inscribed my initials with an eternal beam of light. In the instant I responded to Christ’s call, I became a beloved daughter of the Most High God and a member of His Yahweh Sisterhood.

The Favor of a Reply Is Requested

You and I need a jeweler’s loupe of sorts to see the secrets Yahweh wants to reveal to us—indeed to see Yahweh Himself. Our basic eye­sight needs some spiritual amplification. We need a divine ointment to anoint our eyes for the task.

Remember that Greek word musterion, meaning a sacred secret revealed by God? Its root word is muo, which means locked up or shut, as in eyes that are closed. In Revelation 3:17–18 Jesus told the people of the church at Laodicea that, although they didn’t realize it, they were spiritually blind. Their eyes were locked shut and could not see God. They were neither seeing nor responding. Jesus counseled them, “Buy from me … salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see” (v. 18 ESV). Jesus affords us the ability to see, hear, understand, and respond to God. Only Jesus can provide that divine salve we need.32 It’s No Secret

In Matthew 5, we find Jesus perched on the side of a moun­tain near the ancient city of Capernaum to preach. Massive crowds gathered to watch and hear what He had to say. Some in the crowd followed Jesus; they had already opened themselves to His teach­ing. Others desperately sought a miracle or healing. A few counted themselves Jesus’ enemies. Others showed up out of curiosity. They’d heard the rumors and came to decide for themselves if Jesus was a fake, a prophet, or a Savior.

Jesus gazed across the mountainside at the congregation of people. Many eyed Him skeptically, wondering if they would see something that proved a connection to God. He told them, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matt. 5:8 NIV). A pure heart; an authentic heart; a humble, believing heart open to Jesus’ teaching—that’s the currency that buys the salve to allow our eyes to see God. That’s what enables us to respond to God. Lacking it, many heard Jesus’ words without understanding Him or watched His moves without realizing they were staring into the face of Yahweh.

God’s gals understand that only Jesus can open the eyes of a woman’s heart, cleansing them pure enough to see and respond to Yahweh. Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Did you catch the secret Jesus reveals here? He said He’s the only way to God, the full embodiment of truth, and the only source of vibrant, lasting life. Jesus is the way we want to go, the truth we need to know, and the eternal life that we crave. You just can’t get to God without going through Jesus. Jesus is our way to God, and God’s way to us.

Jesus is who God wants us to respond to.Always RSVP 33

All religions do not lead to heaven, despite popular opin­ion (John 3:3). God is wise beyond wise and has a purpose for everything He does, and He designed salvation in such a way that believing in God is not sufficient. We must also believe in His Son, who ushers us to Yahweh and shows us how to live His way.

So our membership in the Yahweh Sisterhood—our becoming a daughter of God—happens at Christ’s invitation to follow Him. You cannot buy, earn, or bluff your way in. You must be invited—and you have been. God’s own hand addressed your invitation some two thousand years ago, at the desk of the cross, on the parchment of Christ’s body, in the ink of His blood.

Have you RSVP’d?

A year of high school French enables me to inform you RSVP stands for “répondez s’il vous plaît.” It means “please respond” … don’t put it off … don’t wait and see … say you’ll join me!

If you’ve never responded to Jesus’ invitation to come to God through Him, now is the time. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Don’t put it off until you get your act together—RSVP right now through prayer. Receive the gift of forgiveness offered through Jesus, and ask God to take charge of your life and future. Receive your divine decoder ring. Tomorrow may be too late. Be Jesus’ guest today.

Guest List

In Jesus’ day, a person throwing a soiree sent out servants to issue invitations to the guests and gather their responses. Invitations noted the day of the gathering but not the hour. The hour depended on when everything was ready. 34 It’s No Secret

Once everything was ready on party day, servants again went out to call in the guests. Those who’d said they’d come were expected to be dressed, ready, and waiting that day. When the ser­vant knocked on their door, they were to head immediately for the banquet room.

This scenario mirrors what happens in the spiritual realm. God sent His Son and Servant Jesus to issue our invitation on the cross. Those who accept are born anew spiritually—then expected and empowered to live in such a way that they are ready for the day Jesus will return, calling us to God’s heavenly banqueting table.

Though we don’t know the day or the hour, we will be ushered to a great wedding feast, the marriage banquet for Jesus and His bride. Jesus’ bride is the church, meaning you and me—all who have RSVP’d to His invitation.

I read about this feast in the book of Revelation that day in my room. What I couldn’t grasp fully back then now sets my heart aflutter in a way that nothing else can. I am loved, chosen, adopted, prepared, and betrothed—to the King of Glory. You are too! The wildest thing about this Yahweh Sisterhood? We’re all engaged to the same Man—Jesus—yet no one seems to mind.

You and I must RSVP and ready ourselves for our heavenly wed­ding day. The rest of the divine secrets in this book will purify and prepare us to take our Groom’s hand as He replaces our decoder ring with a wedding band. I don’t want to miss it. Nor do I want to get there and find myself underdressed and unprepared.

Understanding and responding to the twelve divine secrets that follow—internalizing and enacting them—will keep us dressed Always RSVP 35

and ready for the future party. While simply responding to the cross secures our seat at the grand banqueting table, keeping these secrets assures us that our heavenly Groom will look on us with utter delight.

My fellow belles, have you saved the date? Because a wedding feast looms on the celestial calendar. It’s part of your story. And savvy Yahweh Sisters are always dressed and ready for a party!

A Garden Wedding

Twenty days after I graduated college, I had my own wedding feast. I married that young professor, Southern style, in a garden surrounded by azalea bushes in full bloom, three-hundred-year-old oaks drip­ping with Spanish moss, and swans swimming on the lake behind. It was gorgeous.

God not only adopted this lonely girl into His heavenly family, He placed me into Rick’s earthly family. He presented me with three sisters-in-law and countless Sisters-in-Christ. I learned the truthful relevance of Psalm 68; it became the story of my life:

Sing praises to God and to his name!Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds.His name is the LORD—rejoice in his presence!

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—this is God, whose dwelling is holy.

God places the lonely in families;he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. (Ps. 68:4–6) 36 It’s No Secret

He’s a Father to the fatherless, and I can testify He’s a mother to the motherless as well. God has guided me, protected me, com­forted me, taught me, and provided for me. He also untangled my hopes and fears and brought me the joyful desires of my heart.

So now you’ll find me in church each week, singing praises to Yahweh and His great name. Oh, and I sing rather quietly when I praise Him in public. It’s not that I’m not extremely thankful—I am. It’s not that I don’t like to sing—I do. And it has nothing to do with embarrassing memories from my church past in that brown brick building with the red carpet.

Truth is, I sing every stinkin’ bit as off-key as my momma did.

Shhh, don’t tell anyone. Sisters stick together, right?

But you can go ahead and bless my heart over that vocal deficit. I need all the help I can get.


1. Check out this parable Jesus told about a man throwing a feast:

A man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!”

Jesus replied with this illustration: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. When all was ready, Always RSVP 37

he sent his servant around to notify the guests that it was time for them to come. But they all began making excuses. One said he had just bought a field and wanted to inspect it, so he asked to be excused. Another said he had just bought five pair of oxen and wanted to try them out. Another had just been married, so he said he couldn’t come.

“The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was angry and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the city and invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.’ After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. For none of those I invited first will get even the smallest taste of what I had prepared for them.’” (Luke 14:15–24)

What struck you when the people in Jesus’ story made excuses for not being prepared to attend? List the things that preoccupied them.38 It’s No Secret

What excuses do you make for not responding to Christ, or not living “dressed and ready”?

2. Read about the coming wedding feast in Revelation 19:6–10. What does it say about the bride (you) and her wedding dress?

3. Next time you throw a bash at your plantation, Jesus offers this advice for planning the guest list:

Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.” (Luke 14:12–14)

That’s precisely what God did when He created the Yahweh Sisterhood. He sent out invitations welcoming every one of us to His supper club. The glass slipper fits each gal here. Everyone gets the rose. The King of Glory doesn’t require Always RSVP 39

designer gowns or shiny black limos for us to dine with Him. What a relief!

In the space below, write a thank-you note to your King.

Dear Jesus,