Friday, June 28, 2013

FIRST Wild Card Tour: The Art of the Follower by Dag Heward-Mills

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:

Carpenters Son Publishing (June 1, 2013)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

As the author of more than 75 books distributed worldwide, Pastor and Medical Doctor, Dag Heward-Mills also leads a worldwide ministry and presides as Bishop of Lighthouse Chapel International, with almost 1,300 churches spread across the globe in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Australia, including 63 churches in 24 U.S. states. Heward-Mills holds highly-successful evangelistic outreaches throughout Africa and other emerging countries and leads a myriad of other endeavors, including a Medical Missions Team, Bible training centers, schools, a hospital, an orphanage, church leader conferences, a host of media outlets including an on-line television site and more.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Some twenty centuries ago, Peter and his brother Andrew were the first to respond when they heard Jesus say, "Come, follow me ..." Since that day, millions have answered that same noble call to follow in his steps.

However, in today's Christian culture of shallow commitments and half-hearted discipleship, where many believers deem it their right to choose when, where and how far they will follow, unconditional obedience is often perceived as a legalistic and lifeless proposition. In his newest book, "The Art of the Follower" (summer 2013), Dag Heward-Mills, world-renowned pastor, author and evangelist, assures readers of the joys of unbridled pursuit of God and encourages them to follow from a sincere heart of gratitude for his great grace and love.


Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Carpenters Son Publishing (June 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0988396270
ISBN-13: 978-0988396272


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

P ART I

Following is Eternally Significant



FOLLOWING!

At first glance the practice appears innocent and simple enough.



. . safe . . . and usually rewarding. But, beware my friend! Following is actually a very powerful practice . . . frequently risky . . . sometimes life-threatening . . . and always consequential.



In everyday language we often hear and speak about following. Notice these common expressions:



Follow the leader
You’re following too close Just follow me!
Don’t follow me. I’m lost too! (bumper sticker) Follow your nose
She/he has quite a following Follow the money
Follow directions
I think I’m being followed I was just following orders
Follow-up Follow-through




So, who are you following? I don’t mean breaking news, a favourite performer or sports team. I’m asking about the beliefs you follow -- the ones that shape your personal values and attitudes. What defines the true significance of your life? Who do you look to for guidance? Which teacher has the answers that satisfy your soul? Whether intentionally or unknowingly, everyone is following someone.



If we’re truthful, the first answer is usually “me.” I follow me! Indeed, every one of us begins in life following ourselves, our own wants, our desires, our personal passions. Eventually, most of us also notice the value in altruistic efforts that bless others. But, truth be told, without the “feel good” rewards of these activities, we eventually struggle to sustain them. For, at our core we are all sons of Adam and products of “the Fall.” Our carnal hearts march to the drumbeat of “self” -- alienated from the Maker who created us to know and enjoy an intimate and personal relationship with Him. It is our untamed “me” -- our selfish rebellion -- that bars us from this righteous pleasure.



Paul declares in Romans 3:10, “There is none righteous, no not one.” The prophet Isaiah penned, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). Fortunately, he prophetically adds the solution: “but the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Jesus said of himself in Matthew 20:28, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” You may have recited from your childhood the familiar words of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”



This promise of salvation -- the redemption opportunity each of us needs so badly -- was fulfilled in the life and death of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. This salvation gift from God himself becomes real for you when you receive it. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).





Salvation cannot be acquired by working diligently to imitate Christ. Ephesians 2:8-10 instructs us, “For it is by grace [unmerited favor] you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God pre- pared in advance for us to do.” When correctly understood, this amazing redemption and new standing with God daily motivates our love and obedience to Jesus Christ.



The true Christian believer “follows” Jesus Christ. And following him is serious business -- a life-long commitment to being his disciple as a mature follower. Some twenty centuries ago, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew were the first to hear and respond when Jesus said, “Come, follow me . . .” (Matthew 4:19).



Since that day, thousands of millions have followed their example -- heeding Christ’s eternity-changing invitation to “Follow Me!” Jesus is the only worthy one to follow because he is the Christ, the only begotten of the Father and the only Saviour of all mankind.



Over the next five chapters, I pray your mind will be illuminated and your heart will thrill to a deeper understanding of the Art of the Follower.





CHAPTER 1



What Is The Art of Following?



Throughout your Christian journey, many leaders will request your allegiance. Always the first question you must ask is, “But, who are you following?” If, upon examination, that leader’s life validates that he or she is truly following Jesus, then you may follow safely. However, one must never lose sight of the truth that only Jesus Christ can forgive your sins and one-day present you faultless before the Father. So, first and always, follow Jesus!



Defining The Art Of Following



• The art of following is the art of copying

• The art of emulating someone

• The art of imitating something

• The art of trying to be like someone

• The art of reproduction

• The art of cloning

• The art of becoming a double

• The art of becoming a twin

• The art of catching up

• The art of surging forward



Success Follows Following



Children naturally and instinctively employ the art of following. By copying, children surge forward with leaps and bounds -- learning to speak complex languages in very short periods of time. Following, copying or emulating accomplishes almost all the learning younger children do.

Following, however, isn’t just a personal practice of individuals. Many nations -- rich for centuries -- became so by following. Europe and America largely used the art of following to become among the oldest and most prosperous nations in the world. Through emulation, each European country became like their neighbours and developed into an almost identical wealthy state. Their roads, buildings, and other infrastructures are similar. Their banking and economic systems are almost identical. Their military capabilities match. The lifestyles of the people and the conditions of living are similar in each of these countries. Indeed, through emulation, the nations caught up with neighbours -- refusing to be left behind in the race for prosperity.



Similarly, nations more recently rich also employed following. Taiwan, China, and Korea are well known for their ability to follow and copy. Indeed, most nations that have become wealthy in the last fifty years are masters at the art of following. These wealthy nations are well known for their ability to copy. Indeed, many of their products are clearly imitations. They produced cars that were virtually exact replicas of well-known European models. The Koreans are not embarrassed by modelling their Daewoo cars after Opel, and the Ssangyong after Mercedes Benz and the Hyundai after Toyota. Through their shameless copying, they quickly caught up and surged forward to become leading carmakers.



In almost every field of technology and endeavour, they have caught up and surged forward, creating wealth that others could only dream of. Those who were ashamed to copy could only stand by as the masters of copying surged ahead to become millionaires and billionaires.



Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Used the Art of Following



Jesus, too, used the art of following to transform illiterate fishermen into leaders and managers of a worldwide movement. If the Son of God would use the art of following as His method of training, it must be the highest and most superior method of learning, training and teaching.



The art of following is the art of imitating and copying someone. The art of following is the art of becoming like the person you admire. The art of following is the art of becoming a replica of a person that is ahead of you. Through the careful and thoughtful use of the art of following, you will be able to catch up and surge forward in your life and your ministry. Even more importantly, you will become a wiser, more mature, more passion- ate, and more effective disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel by Melody Carlson

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:

B&H Books (June 1, 2013)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Melody Carlson has written around 200 books for teens, women and children. That's a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a "storyteller." Her books range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She's won a number of awards (including the Rita and Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

With high hopes, Daphne Ballinger lands her dream job at The New York Times. But it's not long until writing about weddings becomes a painful reminder of her own failed romance, and her love of the city slowly sours as well. Is it time to give up the Big Apple for her small hometown of Appleton?

When her eccentric Aunt Dee passes away and leaves a sizeable estate to Daphne, going back home is an easy choice. What isn’t easy is coming to terms with the downright odd clauses written into the will.

Daphne only stands to inherit the estate if she agrees to her aunt's very specific posthumous terms -- personal and professional. And if she fails to comply, the sprawling old Victorian house shall be bequeathed to . . . Aunt Dee’s cats.

And if Daphne thinks that’s odd, wait until she finds out an array of secrets about Aunt Dee's life, and how imperfect circumstances can sometimes lead to God's perfect timing.


Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (June 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1433679302
ISBN-13: 978-1433679308


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

When Daphne Ballinger graduated top of her class with her degree in journalism, in the memorable year of 2000, she had promptly moved to the city to launch her illustrious career writing for The New York Times. And why not dream big? Because really, how many grads landed such an impressive job straight out of college?

Her plan had been to work hard and quickly scale the ladder to success. By thirty she would have a corner office with a window overlooking the river as well as an apartment on the west side. By her midthirties, she would have published her first book. But similar to the plans of mice and men, Daphne’s best-laid schemes had gone awry.

She stuffed a worn pair of brown Prada pumps into her Hermès bag (splurges she’d indulged in back when she still believed you should dress for the job/life you wanted). Then she sat down to put on her comfy-yet-unfashionable white sneakers. After tying the first shoe, she sat up straight and looked around the messy apartment.

Daphne knew it was cliché but, on gloomy days like today, it truly did feel like the walls were closing in on her. Most of the time, she could overlook the crowded space. She could walk right past piles of papers and miscellaneous pieces of clothing and empty take-out boxes . . . and not even notice. But this morning, the apartment actually seemed to stink. When was the last time they’d really cleaned this place?

She shared this three-bedroom apartment with Greta and Shelby. And in previous years Greta, the lease owner, had always proclaimed April as spring-cleaning month. But it was already mid-May and no one had lifted a finger. And Greta, obsessed with a new job promotion, hadn’t complained once. Daphne’s gaze skimmed over gritty windows, dingy curtains, dust-covered surfaces, piles of clutter, sun-faded carpet. . . . How had she stayed here so long?

“I can’t promise to be here more than a year,” Daphne had informed Greta Phillips when she first moved to the city right after graduation.

A coworker at The Times had tipped off Daphne about a friend looking for a third roommate for an apartment in Brooklyn. And although the location was lackluster, it was near the subway and the rent was affordable. Besides, it would just be a temporary stop—the bottom rung on her ladder to success—or so she had naively believed.

“And after a year?” Greta had asked Daphne with a single arched brow.

Daphne simply smiled . . . perhaps a bit smugly upon reflection. “Oh, I plan to move into my own place by then.”

“Your own place?” Greta seemed humored by this declaration. “Really?”

“Oh yes. This is just the first step for me.”

“Well, I still need you to sign a one-year lease. After that, we’ll see.”

Daphne had hesitantly signed that “confining” lease, wondering how Greta would react if she was forced to break the contract before the year was up. Although numerous other roommates had come and gone during the next thirteen years, climbing their own ladders to success, Daphne had stayed . . . and stayed . . . and stayed. Remembering the arrogant assumptions of her youth was embarrassing.

“Hey, Daphne,” Shelby called out cheerfully. Shelby was the most recent roommate, less than six months ago she’d moved here straight from her family’s Connecticut home. “I’m heading out early this morning. So you’ll have to put Oliver in the bathroom. Okay?”

Daphne looked over to see Shelby looking sparkly and stylish as she opened a golden shoe box. After tossing the lid, tissue paper, and red shoe bags aside, Shelby extracted a dark-colored shoe with a sole that flashed like a stoplight. Shelby slipped on the first high-heeled pump, pointing her toe to admire the sleek black patent leather. “Classy, huh?”

“Another pair of Louboutins?” Daphne frowned, knowing she probably sounded like somebody’s mother. But really, Shelby couldn’t afford such extravagances.

“Yes. Can you believe it?” Shelby giggled. “I think I’m going to need a twelve-step program before long.”

“Or a raise.”

Shelby waved a hand, hopping on one foot as she tugged on the other shoe. “I’d rather settle for a nice, big diamond.” Shelby was obsessed with Marilyn Monroe, and sometimes Daphne worried that the pretty young woman had seen How to Marry a Millionaire one time too many.

“So how is that working for you?” Daphne knew Shelby had been flirting with her boss’s son for the past several weeks. She also knew the boss’s son had recently divorced his second wife.

Shelby stood up straight, pushing her short, sassy blond hair back into place with a confident-looking grin. “As it turns out, John Junior is taking me to Club 21.”

“21?” Daphne was impressed. The whole time she’d been in New York, she’d only been there once. And here Shelby was going after just a few months. This girl worked fast.

“Yes. I told John Junior that I’d been dying to go there ever since I moved to the city. And we’re going there tonight. Can you believe it?”

“Can you believe it” was Shelby’s favorite expression and sometimes, after hearing it a few dozen times in the course of an evening, Daphne sometimes wanted to gag the girl. “That’s wonderful, Shelby.” She stood and smiled. “I hope you and John Junior have a lovely time.” Did Shelby really call him John Junior—to his face?

“Oh, we will.” Shelby reached for her hot pink umbrella, holding it in front of her like a scepter. “The weatherman predicted showers this morning. So don’t forget your umbrella.”

“I hope the rain doesn’t ruin your pretty new shoes.”

“No worries.” Shelby shrugged. “John Junior is picking me up in his car this morning.”

“He’s driving you into Manhattan at this time of day?”

“No, silly, that would be insane. He’s giving me a ride out to his parents’ home in the Hamptons. John Senior is working at home today, so I’ll be working there too.”

“Oh . . .” Daphne nodded. That explained the new shoes, stylish suit, perfect hair. Shelby was out to impress Mrs. John Senior. “Well, have a good day.”

“Oh, I’m sure I will.” Shelby opened the door to peek out. “There he is now—right on time. You should see his car, Daphne.” She stepped outside, then looked back in. “Don’t forget to put Oliver in the bathroom.”

Daphne went over to the front window, watching as Shelby skipped down the cement stairs in her new shoes, swinging her bright umbrella in time with each step. Sometimes it was as if Shelby were starring in her own movie. She paused midway down the steps, waving to the man who was just getting out of the silver Jaguar in front of their building. From her vantage point, Daphne could see the balding patch on the top of the man’s dark hair, and for some pathetic reason this comforted her.

Still, as she stepped away from her voyeurism, she didn’t wish ill for young Shelby. If John Junior was truly a nice guy, she hoped he would produce a diamond . . . in due time. Daphne hadn’t known Shelby long, but she knew the old-fashioned girl dreamed of a big white wedding and a houseful of kids. It was sweet, really.

“Oliver,” Daphne called out as she grabbed a yogurt carton from the fridge. “Here, kitty-kitty.” She reached into Greta’s bag of kitty treats, singing out enticingly. “Here’s a treat for you, Oliver. Here, kitty-kitty.”

She was not fond of Greta’s fat gray cat and, unfortunately, Oliver seemed to sense this. Still, she kept her voice sugary as she walked around calling for him, “Come on, Oliver, come get your yummy-yummy kitty treat.”

She eventually found him hunkered down in Greta’s bedroom with a guilty expression, but if he was doing something he shouldn’t, Daphne did not want to know. She had learned the hard way to keep her own bedroom door closed. For some twisted reason Oliver sometimes preferred a nice soft bed to his smelly litter box in the bathroom.

“There you are, you darling little scoundrel,” she said in a saccharine tone. As he looked up, she curled her arm around his hefty midsection. “Got you.” Then she quickly packed him off to the bathroom, tossing in the treat with him behind it. “Have a good day, you spoiled fat cat.” Daphne closed the door firmly. It wasn’t that she disliked cats in general. She just didn’t care much for Oliver.

By the time Daphne locked up the apartment and was on her way to the subway, it was already starting to rain. And despite Shelby’s reminder, Daphne had set off without her umbrella and there wasn’t time to run back and get it now. Consequently, as the clouds opened up and let loose, she got thoroughly drenched in the short distance to the subway. Waiting with the other dampened commuters, she tried to shake off some of the moisture before the train arrived, then she hurried in with the crowd, finding a spot in the back of the car where the air was smelly and muggy and close.

Firmly planting her feet, Daphne held tightly to a pole and, shutting her eyes, attempted to imagine herself in a happier, cleaner, dryer place. Like the Grand Canyon where her dad had taken her as child one summer. She breathed deeply as she recalled the beautiful painted mountains changing hues of golds, reds, and russets at sunset.

This was a trick she’d taught herself years ago, her way to combat the claustrophobia that she sometimes suffered in the city. One would think she’d be over her dislike of tight spaces by now, but on days like today the anxiety seemed to lurk just below the surface. She remembered when she had been in love with New York. Some called it the Big Apple Honeymoon Phase, but it had lasted several years for her. However, like so many other things in her life, it had gotten a little tarnished and dull over the years. And as she emerged from the subway, back into the drizzling rain and noisy traffic, she didn’t much like the city.

By the time Daphne reached her cubicle at The Times and peeled off her soggy jacket and slushy sneakers and stashed them in a sodden pile in the corner, her long auburn hair, which she’d spent thirty minutes straightening this morning, now resembled Bozo the Clown. Not that anyone would particularly notice or care since most of her day was spent on her own.

Daphne was a wedding writer—one of several—and she had been doing the same thing for more than ten years. She could write one of these pieces in her sleep. In fact, sometimes she did. Oh, not for the paper, but she would lie in bed writing another piece. They ran about 250 words, five or six paragraphs, all meant to impress the bride and the groom and their family and friends.

She turned on her computer and perused her e-mail, sifting through junk and flagging some, and then on to read today’s assignments. This time of year was usually fairly busy, but to her surprise there was only one happy couple waiting for the spotlight, and she managed to spend two whole hours on making them seem larger than life. Hopefully they would appreciate her efforts.

Then with still an hour until lunch, she imagined what she’d write for Shelby’s wedding announcement, and because she was bored and didn’t like to appear idle or get caught playing Spider Solitaire, she decided to hack a phony baloney announcement for her romantic roommate.

Miss Shelby M. Monroe and John Junior Millionaire were married on Friday night in May at Club 21 in downtown Manhattan. Family friend and celebrity entrepreneur Donald Trump, who became an ordained minister for this monumental occasion, officiated the extravagant
event where no expenses were spared.

The beautiful bride, twenty-three, and the prematurely balding bridegroom, of undetermined age, met at the bride’s place of employment, which is also the bridegroom’s father’s multimillion-dollar investment corporation.

Miss Monroe, who will not be keeping her name since it’s not really her name, will give up her career, which wasn’t really a career, in order to raise a houseful of boisterous children. She is the daughter of a once-prestigious family who resided in Westport, Connecticut, until her father’s investment corporation was dissolved in a scandal involving insider trading. Now, despite some diminished wealth, the bride’s parents are enjoying an early retirement abroad.

Mr. Millionaire, who goes by John Junior, holds some mysterious position in his father’s corporation, where not much actual work is required of him. John Junior graduated from some Ivy League school,
where his family probably had some really good connections.

Following an over-the-top honeymoon, which probably involved
a beach in an exotic locale, the happy newlyweds will reside
in a penthouse apartment on the upper west side.

The bridegroom’s first two marriages ended in divorce.
Hopefully the third time will be the charm.

Feeling a bit juvenile, not to mention catty, Daphne hit the select all and delete buttons. Best not to leave something like that lying around for too long. She was about to shut down and go to lunch when her cell phone rang. She got up and grabbed her bag. After digging for her elusive phone and expecting it to be Beverly since they were meeting for lunch today, she was surprised to discover it was actually her father. He rarely called her in the middle of the day. Not unless something was wrong.

“Dad?” she said with concern. “What’s up?”

“Hello, Daphne. I’m afraid it’s bad news.”

“What?” Her throat tightened. He’d had some health issues last winter. Hopefully it wasn’t worse. She’d lost her mother as a small child. Dad was all she had left of her immediate family.

“It’s Aunt Dee . . . she passed away this morning. Her lawyer just called to inform me, and I thought you’d want to know.”

“Aunt Dee.” Daphne sank back down in her chair. “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that, Dad. I know how much you loved her. I loved her too. And I’d been hoping to get out there to visit you and her this summer. I can’t believe she’s gone.”

Tears filled her eyes as she suddenly recalled the summers she’d spent at Aunt Dee’s house as a child when Dad was busy with work. Aunt Dee had tried to make up for Daphne losing her mother. Daphne and Aunt Dee had always enjoyed a special connection and a shared name.

“If it’s any consolation, she died peacefully. In her sleep.”

“How old was she?” For some reason, Daphne couldn’t recall her aunt’s age. She knew she was older than Dad, but in a way Aunt Dee had seemed timeless. Maybe it was her youthful spirit.

“She would’ve been ninety-one in July.”

“Ninety-one? Wow, I had no idea she was that old.”

“Yes. She never really told anyone her real age. But she enjoyed a good, full life.” He sighed. “Even though she never married or had children, she seemed to have a good time in whatever she did. She traveled. Had lots of friends. Dee lived life on her own terms. And she always seemed happy.”

“She did—didn’t she?” Daphne let out a choked sob as she reached for a Kleenex, wiping the tears now streaming down her cheeks.

“I’m sorry, honey. I hate to be the bearer of sad news. But I knew you’d want to know.”

“Yes. I appreciate that. I don’t know why I’m taking this so hard.” She blew her nose.

“Will you be able to make it out here for her memorial service?”

“Yes, of course, Dad.” She reached for another tissue.

“Oh, good. I’m in charge of everything. And I could really use your help with the arrangements. I mean, if you can come out here soon enough . . . I’ll understand if you can’t drop everything.” His voice sounded tired and weak, but maybe it was just sadness.

“How are you feeling? I mean, with your heart and cholesterol and everything. Are you okay?”

“Oh, sure, honey. I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.” He sighed. “When do you think you can get away?”

“I’ll find out as soon as we hang up. And I’ll get right back to you,” she promised.

“Thanks, Daph. I can’t wait to see you.”

They said good-bye, then she grabbed her purse and hurried up to her boss’s office, feeling she’d get better results if she asked in person. Hopefully Amelia wouldn’t have left for lunch yet. However, when she got up there, Daphne could tell by the darkened office that Amelia was already gone.

“Amelia left early for a lunch meeting,” her assistant told Daphne. “Want me to leave her a message for you?”

“No. I’ll come after lunch. When do you expect her back?”

Fiona shrugged. “Well, you know how those working lunches can drag on forever. I wouldn’t expect her until three or maybe even four.”

“Thanks. I’ll stop by later.” Daphne headed out to meet Beverly, calling her as she walked toward their favorite dining spot. She left a message saying she was running late. Then she called Dad and explained that her boss was out. “As soon as I know, I’ll call,” she assured him.

Fortunately, the rain had stopped and the clouds had cleared and the city, now scrubbed fresh and clean, should be shimmering in the sunshine. And yet, as Daphne hurried down the street, everything around her still felt dull and gray and dismal.

LDS BOOK REVIEW: A Beginner's Guide to Talmage compiled Calvin R. Stephens


ABOUT THE BOOK

Have you ever wanted to read the gospel classics by Elder James E. Talmage but never quite found the time? Or have you wished you could recall highlights from Jesus the Christ or Articles of Faith? Now you can find the best by Elder Talmage all in one place, arranged by the major themes found in his writing. The first in a new series of classic material from beloved writers, A Beginner’s Guide to Talmage brings together the best quotations and hand-selected excerpts from Jesus the Christ, Articles of Faith, The House of the Lord, The Great Apostasy, The Parables of James E. Talmage, The Story and Philosophy of “Mormonism,” The Vitality of Mormonism, and Elder Talmage’s general conference addresses. A brief introduction offers insight about his life and the influence of his teachings. This thematic arrangement of some of the best thinking from an apostle of the early twentieth century will renew your appreciation for the writings of James E. Talmage.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Calvin R. Stephens received his master’s degree in LDS history and doctrine from Brigham Young University. He has been a popular instructor at the Ogden LDS Institute, BYU–Jerusalem Center, and BYU Education Week. He served as the president of the California San Bernardino Mission and as a member of the Church’s Materials Evaluation Committee. He and his wife, Lynette Davis Stephens, are the parents of four children.


REVIEW

James E. Talmage was a well-known LDS gospel scholar and apostle. His books such as Jesus the Christ, Articles of Faith, and The Great Apostasy are some of the definitive works on LDS doctrine. They do not of course take the place of the scriptures but provide a lot of insight into LDS beliefs. But Talmage's works can be a bit intimidating thus this book presents selections from Talmage's books and general conference talks to provide an introduction to his work.

The selections are divided up by category: Plan of Salvation, The Godhead, Jesus the Christ, The Atonement and more. Stephens has done a nice job choosing selections that explain various LDS doctrines in an understandable way. A great reference for those who want a deeper understanding of gospel doctrines.  A wonderful book full of insights and explanations about important doctrines. Highly recommended.



Monday, June 24, 2013

LDS Book Review: Suit Up by John Bytheway, et.al.


ABOUT THE BOOK

The Lord needs more missionaries and He needs better prepared missionaries. He needs YOU!
From the bestselling authors that brought you Armor Up! this unique little book is intended to help teens get ready for all they will encounter as they embark on the unique adventure of missionary work. There has never been a more exciting time to be alive—and there has never been a more exciting time to be a missionary.

In Suit Up, several of your favorite youth speakers share lessons about preparing for a mission based on the scriptural advice contained in Doctrine and Covenants 4. If you're thinking about a mission, if you've already started preparing, or if you've got your call, you'll benefit from the messages and advice in Suit Up.
Contents
  • “The Lord’s Marvelous Work” by Hank Smith
  • “Give it Everything You’ve Got” by John Bytheway
  • “I’ll Be What You Want Me to Be” by Jennifer Platt
  • “Thrusting in our Sickle” by Brad Wilcox
  • “The Essential Credentials” by Anthony Sweat
  • “I’m Trying to Be like Jesus” by Laurel Christensen
  • “Ask and Ye Shall Receive” by John Hilton III
Filled with quotable quotes, it’s the perfect book for those who are ready to Suit Up!

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

John Bytheway is a bestselling author, favorite speaker, and part-time instructor at Brigham Young University. His many titles include Heroes: Lessons from the Book of Mormon; Standards Night Live; Isaiah for Airheads; A Crash Course in Teenage Survival; Behind Every Good Man and his most recent book, Of Pigs, Pearls & Prodigals. He has also created numerous talks on CD, many of which are combined in The John Bytheway Collection, Vols. 1 and 2.

John served a mission to the Philippines and holds a master’s degree in Religious Education. He and his wife, Kimberly, have six children.


For more information visit John Bytheway’s Fan Page on Facebook. 

Laurel Christensen, a runner, a Jane Austen devotee, and a sought-after speaker, grew up in California, Kentucky, and Missouri. After serving in the California Riverside Mission, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and later received a master’s degree. She has spent most of her career at Deseret Book Company, where she is currently Vice President of Product Development. Laurel is a favorite speaker at both Time Out for Women and Time Out for Girls, and she has published several talk CDs and books for young women.

John Hilton III was born in San Francisco and grew up in Seattle. He served a mission in Denver, and got a Bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University. Along the way he met his wife Lani and they have five children. They have lived in Boise, Boston, Mexico and Miami. Currently, they live in Utah. John has a Masters degree from Harvard and a Ph.D from BYU, both in Education, and currently is an Assistant Professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU. He has also written several books with Deseret Book. Besides being with his family, his favorite hobbies are learning Chinese and doing humanitarian work. For more information visit www.johnhiltoniii.com
 
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt is currently an assistant visiting faculty member at Brigham Young University and a recent addition to Deseret Book’s Time Out for Women events. A former seminary and institute instructor, she earned a PhD from Arizona State University in lifespan developmental psychology, focusing on women and social issues. She is married to Jed Platt, and the couple lives in Provo, Utah.

Hank Smith teaching in the Religious Education Department at BYU and is a favorite speaker for Especially for Youth, Best of Especially for Youth, and BYU Education Week. Hank and his wife, Sara, were both born and raised in St. George, Utah. They are the parents of one daughter and two sons. Brother Smith enjoys running marathons and eating lots and lots of ice cream (which is why he runs marathons). More than anything else, he loves being at home spending all day with his wife and children.

For more information visit Hank Smith’s Fan Page on Facebook. 

Anthony Sweat has PhD in education from Utah State University. He is a full-time religious educator for the LDS Church, and also a speaker at Especially For Youth and Education Week conferences. He is currently the seminary principal at Brighton High Seminary in Salt Lake City, Utah. Anthony is the author of the best-selling Deseret Book publication Mormons: An Open Book and the co-author of the best-selling Why?: Powerful Answers and Practical Reasons for Living LDS Standards. He and his wife Cindy are the parents of six children. Visit www.anthonysweat.com for more information.

Brad Wilcox is an associate professor in the department of Teacher Education at Brigham Young University, where he also works with programs such as Especially for Youth and Campus Education Week. As a young man, he served his mission in Chile, and he was later called back to that country to preside over the Chile Santiago East Mission from 2003 to 2006. He currently serves as a member of the Sunday School general board.


Brad is the author of the bestselling book The Continuous Atonement and the BYU devotional “His Grace Is Sufficient.” He and his wife, Debi, are the parents of four children and grandparents of three.


REVIEW

What a wonderful resource for LDS youth preparing for a mission!  This book contains seven short articles based on section 4 of the Doctrine and Covenants (a book of scripture in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also known as the LDS or Mormon church).  With the recent announcement allowing youth to go on missions at 18 (young men) and 19 (young women) respectively, preparation is more important than ever.  Each article provides straightforward counsel about how to prepare to become a servant of the Lord. While it is directed specifically at young people becoming missionaries it also applies beautifully to all who want to serve the Lord.  The book covers topics such as hard work, using the Book of Mormon as a vital tool in the conversion process, acting on righteous desires, and developing faith, hope, and charity.  Each article also includes a QR code that takes the reader to short videos demonstrating the topics being discussed as well as brief discussions held by the authors with young people preparing to go on missions. Very informative and helpful, I highly recommend this book for both young people preparing to go on a mission and their parents/leaders.  There is also much here of benefit to anyone who wants to become a better servant of the Lord.


BLOG TOUR: Swept Up by the Sea by Tracy & Laura Hickman


ABOUT THE BOOK

Determined to seek his fortune, Percival Taylor leaves behind his sleepy hometown and sets out to become a legendary pirate only no one at the roguish seaport of Blackshore will allow him anywhere near a ship! Percival must find other means to win the heart of the beautiful Tuppence Magrathia-Paddock, who has mistaken him for a pirate rogue out of one of her romantic tales. She is entirely willing to swoon into his arms if he can prove his buccaneer soul and she is willing to arrange her own kidnapping to prove it. Percival eventually finds himself captain of a broken-down ship, complete with a crew of pirates.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

NYT Best-selling fantasy authors Tracy Hickman, with his wife Laura, began their journey across the 'Sea of Possibilities' as the creators of 'Dragonlance' and their voyage continues into new areas with the 'Drakis' trilogy, 'Wayne of Gotham', a Batman novel for DC Comics and his 'Dragon's Bard' collector's series . Tracy has over fifty books currently in print in most languages around the world. A record of both Tracy and Laura's DNA currently orbits on the international space station and he is the writer and editor of the first science-fiction movie actually filmed in space. Follow them on Facebook or, of course, right here on Goodreads!  

REVIEW


Swept Up by the Sea is a humorous, light romance revolving around the adventures of one Percival Taylor and Tuppence Magrathia-Paddock.  Percival arrives in Blackshore determined to become a pirate and have gentlemanly adventures. However, despite his best efforts every pirate ship in port rejects him, yet he persists in sneaking on board. In his efforts to defend himself from the pirates he inadvertently rescues Tuppence.  Tuppence is convinced that Percival is a 'rogue' and fantasizes about him.  When Tuppence is kidnapped Percival sets out to rescue her in his own rather bumbling way.  If you are looking for a serious romance with a great deal of depth this is probably not for you. But if like me you enjoy a light humorous fantasy where the hero/heroine are likeable but inept than I can heartily recommend this one.

BLOG TOUR: Lair of the Serpent by T. Lynn Adams



ABOUT THE BOOK



The shock of the assault caught the men off guard, and they struggled to control the American. 
They wrestled him to the ground, pinning him there, holding him fast, as Sang stood up from the ground.

Cursing in Khmer, Sang pointed the gun at Jonathon’s head and, without hesitating, pulled the trigger.

Jonathon can’t wait to surprise Delia for her birthday. With a little help from Delia’s brother, Severino, he plans to visit her in Cambodia where she’s working as a humanitarian volunteer.

But Jonathon arrives only to find a panicked Severino—and no Delia.

Jonathon and Severino are determined to find Delia before it’s too late—but it might not be that easy. Now, with the orphan Chey and their friend Juan, Jonathon and Severino must fight their way through human trafficking rings, a dense jungle, and a radical group bent on using Delia as a human sacrifice in order to find the Nāga Mani, a sacred and powerful stone.

Lair of the Serpent seamlessly blends intense action and suspense with family loyalty and tender romance. The rich setting and colorful characters will ignite your imagination, while the twisting plot and elements of fantasy will satisfy every adventurer’s thirst for exotic quests.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Writing has been part of the author’s career since she was fifteen years old. In addition to newspapers, she has written for many national and international publications. Currently she is the editor of a regional agriculture newspaper and relishes the opportunity to perform that work from her home. She and her husband are raising six children, and she is quick to tell you that means five to seven loads of laundry every day. It also means loads of laughter, which they enjoy doing more than anything else.

Besides being with her family, the author loves studying the scriptures, learning history, reading, and drawing. She served a mission to Peru and deeply treasures that experience. On a personal note, she will admit she is terrified of spiders, can’t fry an egg, and once burned a bag of potato chips. (She hid the bag in the oven to keep it from being devoured by her teenage sons and forgot it was there. Since then she has discovered the best hiding place in the entire house is the dishwasher. No teenager wants to get near one!)

There are two things that have influenced the author more than anything else. One is her family and the other is the gospel. She couldn’t imagine living without either one and is profoundly grateful to the Lord that His plan means she doesn’t have to choose. He has provided a way for us to enjoy both for an eternity. She only hopes she doesn’t have to do much laundry in Heaven.

REVIEW

Great characters with depth, check. Fascinating setting full of cultural and physical details, check. Thrilling adventure, check. This book has pretty much everything that a great book needs.  The characters are sympathetic and easy to relate to with strengths and weaknesses. Jonathan and Severino are both teenagers but they have experienced some pretty awful things (rattlesnake bites, being held hostage, threatened with death, etc). But nothing has prepared them for the disappearance of Delia, Severino's sister, while on a humanitarian mission to Cambodia. But neither boy will leave the country without her and the police aren't a lot of help.  I think one of the things that I love the most about Adams' books is the incredible detail in the setting. I could almost see, smell, and hear the place as I read.  This she manages to do while moving the story along at a rapid pace. This series of books really would make a great series of movies (which are in the works, I believe). Jonathan, Severino, and Delia are exposed to both the best and the worst that humanity has to offer and it makes for one incredible story. I highly recommend it (I would start with the first book in the series though, Tombs of Terror where Jonathan, Severino, and Delia meet for the first time).



Thursday, June 20, 2013

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Letters to Katie by Kathleen Fuller

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:

Thomas Nelson (May 7, 2013)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kathleen Fuller is the author of over twenty books, including the best-selling Hearts of Middlefield series. She lives with her husband of twenty years, James, and their three teenagers in Geneva, OH. Visit her website at www.kathleenfuller.com.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Everything changed between them the first time he called her Katie.

Katherine Yoder has loved Johnny Mullet since they were children, but he never actively returned her affections. Like so many things in their world, he assumes Katherine will always be there. Once his horse farm is a success, then he will court her in earnest.

For several weeks, Katherine has been plagued by severe headaches and dizziness. While resting at home, Johnny unexpectedly visits, but when dizziness strikes, she loses consciousness. She awakens hours later in a hospital bed, unable to remember how she got there.

Seeing Katherine injured and vulnerable stirs something in Johnny, and his guilt compels him to spend time with her while she heals. Soon his heart begins to stir with questions: Does she even remember why he'd come to her house that day?

As Katherine struggles to recall recent memories of Johnny, a surprise visitor arrives in her already unsteady world—a man named Isaac who claims they had been writing letters to each other, even considering marriage, before her illness.

With two men vying for her attention and her memory still elusive, Katherine has never felt so divided. The answer may lie behind a door she never considered opening.


Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 7, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595547770
ISBN-13: 978-1595547774


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

“Oh, Katherine. This is so schee.”

Katherine Yoder smiled at her best friend, Mary Beth. She’d spent hours working on the baby quilt, making sure the tiny stitches were as perfect as possible for Mary Beth’s new baby. “I’m glad you like it.”

“Of course I do.” Mary Beth touched the soft flannel quilt, running her fingers over the pale yellow, blue, and peach blocks. Each block had a ragged edge, a new pattern she hadn’t attempted before. The simple style was well suited for a baby, and Mary Beth’s was due within a few weeks.

“I love it.” Mary Beth folded the quilt and placed it on her knees, her expanded belly barely allowing the space. “Danki for such a beautiful gift. Although I don’t see how you have the time, working so many hours at the restaurant.”

All I have is time, Katherine thought. She pushed the self-pity aside and managed a smile. She didn’t want to ruin the moment between them with jealousy. Unlike Mary Beth Shetler, Katherine didn’t have a husband—and soon a child—to take care of. Outside of working at Mary Yoder’s and helping her parents at home, her only other pursuits were her sewing and needlework. She was always busy, yet longed for something different. Something more.

Apparently God had other plans.

Mary Beth managed to rise from the chair in her tiny kitchen. Her husband Chris had built the four-room home behind Mary Beth’s parents’ property. The dwelling resembled a dawdi haus, and likely would be used as such once the rest of Mary Beth’s siblings—Johnny, Caleb, Micah, and Eli—married and left home. But for now, the tidy, cozy home was enough.

And more than Katherine had.

Mary Beth placed the quilt on the table. “I’m glad you came over. Since I’ve gotten so big, I haven’t gotten out much.” Her light blue dress draped over her bulging belly.

Katherine’s eyes widened. “Are you sure you’re not having twins?”

“Nee.” Her friend laughed. “But I look like I am.” With a waddling gait she moved to the cabinet. “Do you want anything to drink?”

Katherine shook her head. “I can’t stay too long. I wanted to make sure you got the quilt before the boppli arrived. I have to work later today.”

“Maybe just a few minutes?” Mary Beth went back to the table and sat down. She reached for Katherine’s hand. “It’s been so long since we talked. ”

“We’ve both been busy.” She squeezed her friend’s hand. “And you’ll be even busier in a few weeks.”

“Ya.” A radiant glow appeared on Mary Beth’s cheeks. “But I don’t want us to drift apart. You’re mei best friend.”

Katherine released her hand. “And I promise I’ll be the best aenti to your boppli.”

“The baby has plenty of onkels, that’s for sure.” Her smile dimmed a little.

Katherine frowned. “What’s wrong? It’s not the boppli, is it?”

“Nee.”

“Chris?”

“Chris is fine too. We’re happier than we’ve ever been. “

“Then what is it?”
Mary Beth sighed, but she didn’t reply.

“You know you can tell me anything. If something’s troubling you, I want to help.”

Her friend looked at Katherine. “It’s Johnny.”

Katherine’s heart twisted itself into a knot. She glanced away before steeling her emotions. “What about Johnny?”
“Are you sure you want to talk about him?”

“I’ve accepted that there’s no future for us. What I felt for Johnny was a childhood crush.”

A crush. The truth was, Katherine had loved Mary Beth’s twin brother Johnny for as long as she could remember. For years she held out hope for a chance, however small, however remote. She had clung to that dream as if she were drowning and it was her only lifeline.

But not anymore.

She sat straight in the chair, brightened her smile, and said, “What’s going on with him?”
“He’s been acting. . .different.”

“What do you mean?”

“Distant. Partly because he’s been working so many hours at the buggy shop. Mamm said she barely sees him except for church service. He leaves early in the morning and comes home late. But when he is around, he’s quiet.”

“That doesn’t sound like him,” Katherine said. “Do you think he’s keeping something from your familye?”

Something. . .or someone?

Despite Katherine’s vow not to care, her heart constricted again at the thought.

“I don’t know.” Mary Beth’s brown eyes had lost the warmth they’d held moments ago. “He’s becoming like a stranger to me. To all of us. We’ve drifted apart.” Her smile faded. “Like you and I have.”

Katherine shook her head in protest. “You know I’m always here for you.”

Tears welled in Mary Beth’s eyes.

Katherine drew back. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

“I’m always crying.” Mary Beth wiped her eyes. “It makes Chris ab im kopp. Hormones, I’m sure.” She sniffed, wiping her eyes. “I’m glad we’re still best friends.”

Katherine hugged Mary Beth. “We always will be.”



*****



Johnny Mullet put his hands on his hips and surveyed his new property. Four acres, a small house and an even smaller barn. All his.

The sad little farm didn’t look like much. But by the time he finished fixing everything up, no one would recognize it. He glanced at the empty pasture on the left side of the house. Tall grass, green and dense, swayed against a southerly breeze. He planned to purchase that acreage, too. Expand, and make his horse farm something he could be proud of.

If only Daed could see. . .

At the thought of his father, the grin faded from his face.

Hochmut, his father would say. Pride.

The worst character flaw any Amish could have.

But was there something wrong with feeling satisfied after hard work? After a job well done?

This wasn’t about pride. It was about independence. Making a good living. He’d seen his family struggle. He didn’t want that for his future. A future that, God willing, wouldn’t include only him.

With the hazy orange sun dipping below the horizon, Johnny hopped into his buggy and headed home. Ten minutes later he pulled up to his parents’ house. He was late for supper. Again. He quickly put up his horse and hurried into the house, sliding into his seat just as his father closed his eyes for grace.

After prayer, his mother passed his father a platter of ham. He speared a slice with his fork, peering at Johnny as he did. “Late day at work again?”

Johnny picked up a roll from the basket on the table. He drew in a deep breath. “Nee.”

“Then why are you late?”

“I bought a farm.”

Silence. Johnny glanced around the table. Caleb’s mouth dropped open, and Micah’s fork was poised in mid-air. Even six-year-old Eli gave him a funny look. “You what?” His mother’s eyes went wide with shock.

“You know that house down the road a piece? The one with the barn in the back?”

“You mean that shack?” Caleb shook his head.

Micah scooped up a forkful of green beans. “Calling it a shack is a stretch.”

Their father cleared his throat. The boys ducked their heads and kept eating. He turned to Johnny. “When did you do this?”

“Signed the paperwork yesterday.”

“Where did you get the money?”

He was already tired of the third degree, but he had expected no less. “Savings. From my job at Gideon Bender’s.”

“You must have gotten it for a song,” Caleb added. “Or less than a song. Maybe just a note.” He chuckled.

“Caleb.” His father shot him a silencing look before turning to Johnny again. “I wish you had consulted me first.”

“I’m an adult, Daed. I didn’t think I had to.” Seeing the flash of hurt in his father’s eyes, he added, “Trust me. I know what I’m doing.”

“I hope so.”

“Maybe you two could discuss this after supper?” Mamm’s lips pinched into a thin line. “The food is getting cold.”

Daed nodded, and dug into his food. No one said anything for the rest of the meal. But all Johnny could think about was the disappointed look on his father’s face.



****



Cora Easely gripped the smart phone in her hand. “The doctor wants me to do what?”

“He’d like to see you again,” the nurse repeated in a crisp, emotionless tone. “As soon as possible.”

“Why?”

“He’d like to run a few more tests.”

“How many more tests does he need?” Cora looked down at the bruise on her arm from the blood draw she’d received a few days ago. For months she’d been poked, prodded, scanned, and questioned. The dehumanizing madness had to stop. Her weary body couldn’t take it anymore.

“You tell Dr. Clemens I’m through with his tests. If he doesn’t have a treatment plan by now, clearly I need to see a more competent doctor.”

Silence on the other line. The nurse cleared her throat. “Mrs. Easley, Dr. Clemens is just being thorough.”

“Too thorough, if you ask me.”

“Are you refusing more testing?”

“Yes. That’s exactly what I’m doing.”

A pause. “I’ll mark that in your chart. You’ll still need to meet with Dr. Clemens at your earliest convenience. He will want to talk to you.”

“And I want to talk to him.” This nonsense had gone on long enough. She already had a diagnosis—Parkinson’s. What she didn’t have was a cure.

After making her appointment, Cora clicked off her phone and laid it on the glass coffee table. She walked to the large window in her penthouse and looked at the landscape in front of her. New York. The city of her birth, the place she’d lived all her life. But everything had changed in the past few months, changes she never expected.

Her hands trembled. The shaking had worsened over the past two weeks. Dr. Clemens had said to expect it. She hated that he was right.

Parkinson's. The diagnosis terrified her. She’d briefly glanced at the literature about the disease, only to promptly dispose of the pamphlets after reading about some of the symptoms. Loss of memory. Loss of motor function. Loss of control.

Cora Easely had never been out of control. She'd dictated and orchestrated every aspect of her life except for one. And now she was facing the possibility that within the next couple of years, she wouldn't even be in control of her bodily functions. What kind of life was that? Not one she wanted to live.

“Señora?”

Cora turned to look at her maid, a faithful servant for the past several years. If it hadn't been for Manuela, her grandson, Sawyer, wouldn’t have found out the truth about his parents and the reason his mother ran off with his father. Or the story behind the estranged relationship she had with her daughter Kerry, and how Kerry had tried to mend the rift between them. Cora’s stubbornness had thwarted that. And now her grandson didn’t seem to want to have anything to do with her.

When he left to find Laura Stutzman two months ago, he swore he’d return. But he hadn’t. She wasn’t sure he ever would.

“Señora?” Manuela repeated. “Por favor. Did you hear me?”

“Sorry. Lost in my thoughts, I suppose.”

“Is everything all right?”

“Everything is fine.” But it couldn’t be further from the truth. She walked away from the window. “I need a glass of sparkling water.”

“Sí. Anything else?”

“No, just the water. Bring it to my bedroom.”

Manuela nodded and disappeared from the room. Cora made her way to her spacious bedroom. She sat on the edge of her bed, the silk comforter rustling from the movement. She picked up the landline phone on the mahogany end table. Dialed a familiar number. Tensed when she heard the voicemail.

“This is Sawyer. Leave a message.”

She opened her mouth to speak, but words failed. She couldn’t tell her grandson about her diagnosis. Not like this. She’d have to find another way. But she had no idea how.

DESERET BOOK SUMMER CAMPAIGN plus GIVEAWAY

Deseret Book Kicks-off a Summer of a Million Gifts

Prizes include an 8-day cruise, a missionary wardrobe, a wedding reception, and daily gifts

Deseret Book is looking to give back this summer with its Summer of a Million Gifts. The store’s customers can anticipate random daily in-store gifts and an opportunity to win one of three grand prizes.

In June, one lucky customer will win an 8-day Caribbean Cruise with Alex Boye, British-born LDS singer and songwriter, courtesy of Morris Murdock Travel. In July, another will win a missionary wardrobe courtesy of Mr. Mac. And in August, one couple will win a wedding reception courtesy of Temple Square Hospitality.

The giving will take place online and in person at every store throughout the summer months.Each day on Deseret Book’s official Facebook page and in Deseret Book stores, an associate will give a gift to at least one customer a free pass to Lagoon theme park, double Platinum points, afree book at check-out, an act of service, or some other free prize.

More information about the Summer of a Million Gifts can be found online at DeseretBook.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/deseretbook, or in any of Deseret Book’s retail locations.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

BLOG TOUR: Are we Special? The Truth and the Lie about God's Chosen Peopley by Jeffrey S. Reber and Steven P. Moody


ABOUT THE BOOK

Have you ever felt you might be special?

Where does that feeling come from—and what does it really mean?

The truth is that we are special, because we are all beloved children of our Heavenly Father, and we enjoyed a special, personal relationship with Him before coming to earth. Having left His presence, we feel a void, a homesickness that reminds us that we are more than mortal beings and inclines us toward our Father and His love.

But we are sometimes persuaded by the lie that we are more special than others. The lie lifts us above others, creates feelings of entitlement, and convinces us that the void we feel signifies our personal destiny for glory. It inclines us to seek fame, prestige, or wealth as proof of our superiority over others.

Each of us is constantly enticed by this truth and this lie, and we respond to both using four strategies to manage our acceptance or denial, each with its defining feature of pride, despair, selfishness, or true discipleship. In Are We Special? authors Jeffrey Reber and Steven Moody show us how to increase our acceptance of the truth and denial of the lie in order to become true disciples of Jesus Christ.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Jeffrey S. Reber holds a PhD from Brigham Young University in psychology. He’s an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at BYU. His publications look at the relationship between religion, psychology, and interpersonal relationships. He has also worked with LDS Family Services and has served as a bishop.

Steven P. Moody received his master’s degree in clinical social work from the University of Southern California. At USC, his clinical work focused on families, including marital therapy and relationships. Steven has worked as a counselor with LDS Family Services. He is now a therapist in private practice specializing in both relationships and addictions.

REVIEW

I'll say right out that I loved this book. Not only is it informative and enlightening, but I found much to think about here.  The authors made many good points about how every human being is special because we are children of God. They go on to discuss how all to many people take this fact and (with Satan's encouragement) turn it into a lie. The lie that some people are more special than others for whatever reason, place/circumstances of birth, wealth, talents, etc.  The authors then discuss how people behave based on whether they believe the truth, the lie, or bits of both.  The four types they came up with are: the Pharisees, Egoists, Nihilists, and Disciples.

Pharisees believe both the truth and the lie.  People in this quadrant believe that human beings are special as children of God, but that the 'chosen' are more special than anyone else.

Egoists believe only the lie, that they are more special because of their own individual circumstances, choices, and talents.

Nihilists believe neither the truth nor the lie and are full of despair and discouragement.

Disciples of course believe the truth and reject the lie.  These people are trying to be true followers of Jesus Christ.

The authors go through and discuss each of the above categories.  They make clear that few people stay in any one quadrant, most move back and forth throughout our lives.  The goal is to become permanent residents of the Disciple quadrant and learn to believe the truth and reject the lie.  This is a profound book with great insights and examples into some of the misconceptions that Satan would have us believe.  I found myself identifying with many of the things that the authors said.  This is the kind of book you can read over and over and still find things to help you improve. I highly recommend this book to those who like me are always striving to be better disciples of Jesus Christ.



FIRST Wild Card Tour: Do Great Things by Aaron Broyles

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:

Deep River Books (September 10, 2012)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Aaron Broyles is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Aaron has launched several start-up companies and has grown them into multi-million dollar organizations. He currently owns, manages and sells businesses in many different industries including software development, rail and transportation, technology consulting, fitness, and sales training.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Often we are intrigued by high-profile people and entrepreneurs who have done great things. Perhaps it's a desire to experience greatness firsthand. It's easy to recognize the accomplishments of others, but have you ever considered your own capacity to Do Great Things?
Entrepreneurs excel at vision-casting and inspiring others. They're driven, efficient and passionate. They're able to overcome and to use their fears to their advantage. They have the ability to turn defeat into opportunity, and so do you!

Author and speaker Aaron Broyles points you to a foundation of self-discovery based on God's principles and truth. He shares entrepreneurial methods that will reveal your potential and unlock your ability to achieve success in everyday life.

Desire to know your purpose. Stop putting limits on your life. Your definition of great things is about to take on new meaning.


Product Details:
List Price: $16.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Deep River Books (September 10, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1937756505
ISBN-13: 978-1937756505
Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Great Things

“One of the main weaknesses of mankind is the average man’s familiarity

with the word ‘impossible.’ He knows all the rules which will not

work. He knows all the things which cannot be done.”

NAPOLEON HILL



I’ve always wondered what it would be like to do great things. I’ve watched

countless History Channel specials and biography broadcasts about famous

people in history who have done what the world generally considers to be

great things. I’ve always admired the founding fathers of the United States, like

George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton,

James Madison, and John Adams. I’m amazed at the incredible accomplishments

of these leaders, in addition to the countless others who fought for and established

the great nation of the United States.



I’m also amazed at the presidents over the years who successfully led our

country through good times and bad. Presidents like Washington, Jefferson,

Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Reagan have intrigued me. Our

nation continues to honor and revere these great leaders from our past, and rightfully

so.



Likewise, I am inspired by the great accomplishments of people who have

changed our world with their intelligence, talent, bravery, leadership, sacrifice,

hard work, wisdom, and resolve. I think of Mother Teresa, Thomas Edison, Albert

Einstein, Harriet Tubman, Neil Armstrong, Elvis Presley, Warren Buffett, Billy

Graham, Babe Ruth, Sir Isaac Newton, Winston Churchill, Charles Lindbergh,

Helen Keller, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Jr., Henry Ford. How’s that for

a list of amazing people?



I have played guitar for years, and I’ve always been fascinated by Eric Clapton.

I am absolutely blown away when I see Clapton in concert. I am amazed at his outstanding

talent for songwriting and singing, and by his incredible guitar-playing

abilities. I have personally witnessed Eric Clapton doing great things as it relates

to music and artistic expression.



I’m not alone in my fascination with people like these. But why are we so

intrigued and obsessed with those who have done great things? What is it about

their amazing accomplishments that we find so compelling? Perhaps there is a

desire in each one of us that longs for greatness, something deep within our souls.

Have you ever considered your own capacity for great things? Do you believe

you have the potential, ability, and will to capitalize on life’s opportunities in order

to fulfill your purpose?



Let me ask you another question: if you knew you could do whatever your

heart was designed to do with complete fulfillment, excitement, passion, and

adventure, without the possibility of failing, would you do it? I’m referring to the

idea of living out of your true purpose, drinking from the well of real life. Keep in

mind that I’m not asking you what others think you ought to be doing. No, I’m asking

you to really ponder the idea of living life as you were designed to live it. I’m

not suggesting a life with no difficulties or trials, and I’m not implying that it’s possible

to live in perfection. I’m describing a life grounded in authentic fulfillment.

If your answer is yes, then let’s explore this idea further.



In the movie Forrest Gump, many lives were transformed because of the

impact Forrest had on them, especially Jenny and Captain Dan. I think what I love

most about the movie is that Forrest is an unlikely hero. Here’s a man who has

grown up with the odds stacked against him. He’s not intelligent, and he has no

father figure in his life. He didn’t grow up in a wealthy home, and he struggles

with several disabilities. Yet, despite all the setbacks, Forrest Gump lives an

extraordinary life. He does great things, and he makes an enormous impact on

the lives of those around him. Forrest finds himself in some devastating situations

that include war, disaster, riots, personal disabilities, and a hurricane, and yet he

emerges with incredible success while those around him can only see the negative

circumstances. What a phenomenal story!



When we consider our heroes and amazing people, we don’t typically think

of people with the profile of Forrest Gump. No, our heroes and doers of great

things should be attractive, intelligent, well educated, exciting, wealthy, privileged,

and famous. John F. Kennedy, Jr. was the epitome of this description.

Throughout his childhood and into adulthood, the press followed him, and many

speculated that he would be a great leader, possibly even president of the United

States. There are many who to this day question what amazing things JFK would

have accomplished had his life not been cut short.



Why were such incredible expectations placed on this man? I believe it had

more to do with his last name, wealth, background, and looks than it did with

anything deeper.



How could such expectations be placed on anyone for such superficial reasons

as those?



When I was growing up, there was no speculation from the media regarding

my future. Reporters did not follow me to school and discuss what great things

I might do in the future, and I would venture to say that they did not do so with

you. In fact, at the time of writing this book, I am virtually unknown by any aside

from my family and friends and acquaintances in the community where I live.

I grew up in an average, middle-class, blue-collar working family. I am a man

of average intelligence and average looks. My grade-point average in grade school,

high school, and college is not worth mentioning. I played soccer, but my athletic

ability was average at best. My parents never attended college and were very

young when they had me, so I did not have a wealth of resources at my disposal.

Yet, having stated all those facts, I consider myself every bit as qualified for success

as JFK was.



There are many in far worse situations than mine, with virtually no hope for

a future, and there are millions in between with varied backgrounds, abilities,

and potential. And then there are those with everything in the world at their disposal,

including resources, talent, intelligence, and connections. This is the category

we tend to expect the most from. The JFKs of the world. But the truth is

your potential for success has very little to do with your background and abilities.

In fact, your potential for success is determined by what you will do in the

future as opposed to where you came from in the past.



In the following paragraphs, I’m going to outline a few scenarios, with reallife

examples, of success or failure as they relate to roots and background. There

is a great lesson to be learned in carefully examining background and its potential

determination of a person’s future.



Scenario 1: A person is born into a virtually hopeless situation and yet emerges

in success.

Isn’t it fascinating when those with humble beginnings and virtually no hope for

a future go on to do amazing things? It seems like a miracle when someone comes

from such devastating circumstances and makes meaning out of his life. while

those who have everything at their fingertips amount to very little in terms of

contribution or personal fulfillment.



Abraham Lincoln is an excellent example of a man who lived an extraordinary

life despite the fact that he was born into a very poor family. Lincoln was

born in a one-room cabin in rural Kentucky in 1809, and he had a hard life growing

up. He lost his mother at the age of nine, and he was not very close to his

father. He was a self-educated man, and it goes without saying that Lincoln is

considered to be one of the great US presidents. He was an inspiring leader who

achieved great things despite many hardships and difficulties.1



Oprah Winfrey is another example of a person overcoming great obstacles.

Oprah was born into poverty, and she was passed from family member to family

member throughout her childhood. She was sexually abused multiple times by

family members. At age fourteen, Oprah became pregnant, and she delivered a

son who only lived for two weeks. Despite the terrible circumstances of her childhood,

she went on to become one of the most popular and successful media stars

in history.2 Other examples abound. Richard Branson, a multibillion-dollar entrepreneur

with over three hundred fifty companies under his control, was a highschool

dropout, and he has dyslexia.3 Michael Jordan, who many call one of the

greatest basketball players to ever live, was cut from the high-school basketball

team his sophomore year. Despite that setback, Jordan went on to win six NBA

titles, one NCAA title, and two gold medals.4



Scenario 2: A person is born into a virtually hopeless situation and never really

emerges from the difficult environment.



Some people live out a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure and defeat. They never

pull out of the environments they start from. They believe that there is no hope

for them to go beyond where they are today, and they choose a life of fear, defeat,

and emptiness.



We are typically not surprised at this situation—certainly not as surprised as

we are when someone from such a background succeeds—because it seems more

feasible that a person living in a negative environment will not have the means to

rise above it. Some believe that the power of a person’s environment is so overwhelming

that it is nearly impossible to escape it.



During my childhood, I knew a boy from grade school who lived in a very

troubling environment. He didn’t know his father, and his mother didn’t seem to

care very much about him. He would wear the same clothes for months, and he

did not bathe for days. He never did his homework, and he was always in trouble.

He really didn’t have anyone in his life who was providing him with any

direction or hope for the future.



I got to know him a bit in seventh grade. He was a good kid despite his terrible

circumstances, but unfortunately, he could no longer cope with his life, and

he ended it with a gun one evening in the summer before our eighth-grade year.

This example is one of millions that exist in the world. I’m sure you can think

of someone who has lived and possibly died in a similar fashion.



Scenario 3: A person is born into (or eventually enters) an amazing environment,

and yet chooses to squander it away.



Perhaps such people were born into a loving, caring family, or into a successful

family by the world’s standards. Despite having every opportunity and resource

at their disposal, they waste their potential by living lives of “ignoble ease,” as

Theodore Roosevelt put it. In fact, President Roosevelt once said, “I wish to

preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life.”5

I’m sure you’ve seen examples of children born into famous and wealthy

families who end up addicted to drugs or who find themselves in and out of jail.

Unfortunately, too many examples of this situation are playing out around us

every day, and it seems to be growing more common.



There are also those who attain initial success or notoriety and go on to dismantle

it later.



Whitney Houston is an example of someone who achieved a great deal early

in her life. She is the only artist to chart seven consecutive number-one Billboard

Hot 100 hits and seven consecutive multiplatinum albums. Whitney’s combined

albums, singles, and videos sold during her career with Arista Records totals 170

million. Her Bodyguard soundtrack is one of the top ten biggest-selling albums of

all time at 17X platinum in just the United States alone, and her version of Dolly

Parton’s song “I Will Always Love You” is the biggest-selling United States single

of all time. Whitney was born into an amazing musical family. Her mother was

the well-known singer Cissy Houston, and her cousins Dee Dee Warwick and

Dionne Warwick were both successful artists. All had an influential impact on

Whitney. Whitney found success as a singer in her teenage years with performances

in the 1970s and early 1980s with stars such as Chaka Khan, the Neville

Brothers, and others. When she was twenty-one, Whitney’s first album debuted

with over twelve million copies sold in the United States, and it set the record as

the biggest-selling debut album by a solo artist. Music historians say Whitney

may have had the greatest voice of our time.6



Whitney Houston was fortunate to be born into such an amazing musical

family. She was also born with an unbelievable voice, and she had the advantage

of musical connections and influences. She experienced amazing success early in

her career because she took action and capitalized on her potential. She worked

extremely hard, and she did not waste any opportunity. However, she came to a

point in her life when things began to change. Allegations of drug use and unpredictable

behavior became the headlines in the news in place of the accolades and

stunning reviews. In an unfortunate series of events, Whitney’s career and life

came to a premature end. I wonder what Whitney could have continued to do

had she not wasted such amazing potential.7



In addition, it seems like you can’t turn on the news without hearing about

a child of a celebrity going terribly wrong. Celebrity children seem to struggle

more than the rest of us with drugs, alcohol, arrest, and suicide. Marie Osmond,

Paul Newman, Art Linkletter, and many other celebrities have lost children to

drug overdoses or suicide. True, whether it’s really a benefit to be the child of

someone famous can be argued, but it’s certainly difficult to make a negative case

against a backdrop of children who are born with no family or into extreme

poverty.



Scenario 4: A person is born into a great environment with outstanding

opportunities and resources at his fingertips, and he chooses to

do great things. He decides to commit to things greater than himself.



Steve Forbes is an example of a man born into great promise and potential who

capitalized on that potential. His grandfather founded Forbes, Inc., in 1917.

Forbes was well educated and took over a flourishing business that had been

established for some time. There are many who wish for an opportunity like he

had. Others do share his advantages, yet, perhaps due to the intimidation of high

expectations, they never step to the plate and really make the attempt. Steve

Forbes, on the other hand, has done great things. Forbes’s career and accomplishments

speak volumes. Under Forbes’s leadership, his company has launched

countless publications and businesses across the world. Forbes magazine has

become the nation’s leading business magazine with an international audience in

excess of six million readers. In addition, Forbes served in the Reagan and George

W. Bush administrations as chairman of the board for international broadcasting,

he has authored several books, and serves on several prominent boards. I

recently attended a luncheon at which Steve Forbes was the guest speaker, and I

was impressed with his knowledge and perspective on capitalism, politics, and

the world in general. He has certainly done great things.8



Other examples of people born into amazing environments who go on to

accomplish great things include Peyton and Eli Manning, sons of the great football

player Archie Manning, who have become pro players as well. Michael Douglas,

son of the famous actor Kirk Douglas, went on to become a star in his own

right. Actress Kate Hudson, the daughter of Goldie Hawn and Keifer Sutherland

(himself the son of Donald Sutherland) is another example.

The point I am making in these scenarios must be understood as a foundation

for your life. It is a concept and worldview that can transform your very life

and the way you live it. Simply put, your circumstances, your background, your

experience, your intelligence, your family history, your mistakes, your accomplishments,

your education, your lack of education and so on do not and cannot

dictate what you choose to do with your future.



I don’t care if you were born into excellent circumstances or extreme poverty

or abuse, you have the potential and possibility to do great things. You have the

power to shape your future.



Many people have already made life decisions about themselves based on

bad data. They have already decided who they are and what they are capable of.

There are many who have made these decisions quite early in the lives, as if their

lives are predetermined in some way. The amazing thing about this mindset is that

most people are unaware of the fact that they have it!



Scenario 5: This is your scenario. You were born into a unique situation and

environment that is not exactly the same as anyone else’s who has

ever lived. It might be similar, but it is not exactly the same. But

even more than that, you have the potential to do great things.



Your potential for greatness has very little to do with your background

or where you came from.



My junior year in college, I had the opportunity to apply for an internship with

a large, successful, and well-respected company that was headquartered near my

school. There were two positions available, and these two positions were the

highest paying, most prestigious of all the internships available in my field. Several

of my classmates were applying, and there was a lot of discussion about who

would be chosen for these two positions. I found out that there were several hundred

applicants, and they would have the opportunity to interview over the

course of several days.



On the second-to-last day of interviewing, one of my professors approached

me on campus and asked if I would be interviewing for the internship. I was

surprised—shocked, in fact—by her question. I had no intention of subjecting

myself to the interview. I was a C student with no credentials or promise of attaining

such a position. Considering I had attended several of her classes, she should

have known that I wasn’t qualified! I had barely passed her classes in the past, and

I wasn’t doing so well in the class she was teaching at the time.



Do you see how I had already made decisions about who I was and what I

was capable of? I was only twenty years old, and I already had strong limiting

beliefs about who I was and what I could and could not do. If you’d asked me

outright about those beliefs, I would never have admitted them. I really wasn’t

fully aware I believed them, yet I was making decisions based on them.

My professor encouraged me to interview on the last day. She even wrote a

recommendation—I needed it because my grade-point average did not meet the

required standard to be accepted for the interview. I reluctantly agreed to take it.

I was reluctant because I didn’t want to put myself in an embarrassing situation.

I didn’t want to be let down. Maybe there was part of me that did not want confirmation

of what I already believed to be true.



How about you? Are you taking yourself out of the game? Are you thinking

to yourself, “You can’t lose if you don’t play”? As I look back on it now, I know

that’s what I was doing: I was taking myself out of the game as it related to my

performance academically. It was much easier to take a C grade knowing that I

hadn’t really tried that hard. You too may be taking yourself out of the game, and

you may not even realize what you are doing or why.



When you put yourself on the line and give it everything you have, then you

truly know if you have what it takes or not. I was afraid to know that answer.

On the last day of interviewing, I showed up and did the interview. I was

shocked when I was called back for a second and then a third. A week later, I

received a phone call: they had selected me to make my choice of the two positions.

I couldn’t believe it. My professor and several employees of the hiring company

believed in me more than I believed in myself. I had the internship!



My professor later shared with me that she knew I had potential, but I needed

to start trying or else that potential would be wasted. She asked me if my gradepoint

average truly reflected my abilities and potential. They did not. But my

future was not to be dictated by my past. I had established a new belief about

myself, and that is where real change and accomplishment begin.



To accomplish great things in your life, I’m not asking you to be become

someone different. Make no mistake about it. I am not encouraging you to

become someone else. How many times have you looked at someone else and

thought to yourself, “I wish I could be more like that person”? Have you ever

dreamed of changing your personality and morphing into a completely different

person? How many times have you quietly said to yourself,

• If only I were smarter

• If only I were funny

• If only I had different parents, or a different spouse, or a different job

• If only the economy were better

• If only I had more money



To do great things, you do not need to become someone you are not. Rather,

you are about to embark on an amazing journey and incredible adventure, starting

with a foundation of self-discovery that will lead to accomplishing great

things. That foundation is based on principles and truth, and while we will

explore techniques and exercises aimed at shaping your potential, our foundation

will be on truth and God’s principles. Techniques have value when they are practiced

on a solid foundation of truth; however, when used outside God’s will, they

are simply gimmicks and tricks that will ultimately fall short.



I recently purchased a 1960 Corvette. It has been my dream car since I was

a small child. I’ve spent years looking for the right combination, and during that

time, I’ve looked at a lot of 1960 Corvettes. One day I thought I had found the

perfect car. On the outside, the car was in fantastic condition. The paint was

incredible; the interior was perfect. It was a real “head turner.”



Before I would purchase the car, I had an inspection to ensure it was in good

working condition. After a thorough examination of the car, it was determined

that the frame was not solid. This car was rusting away from the inside. Even

though the exterior was flawless, the car could be dangerous on the road because

the integrity of the frame was in question.



Many in the world today are living just like that Corvette. They are great at

looking good on the outside. As far as appearances go, they’ve got everyone thinking

they’ve got it together. But while they’re occupied with appearance, status, and

what other people think, they struggle to find real meaning and purpose in their

lives. They’re living in fear of others finding out who they really are. They’re doing

just enough to get by, and they’re afraid to ever really take a chance on anything—

especially on themselves.



I could have purchased that Corvette with the rusty frame, and I might even

have made some modifications, like a new stereo system or custom interior or

different wheels, but those improvements would have been a complete waste

without a solid foundation. What difference does it make if you have an awesome

stereo system in a car that has broken in half?



So the question becomes, what is a solid foundation? (And I’m not talking

about a Corvette.) What does that even mean? Is it self-confidence? Is it a lack of

fear? Is it peace? Is it real understanding of myself? Does it mean that I’m willing

to take chances? Is it a belief in myself?



We’ll explore this question in more detail as we go, but in a nutshell, the

solid foundation for your life is a belief system based on truth and the discovery

of who you were designed to be so that you can realize your purpose, potential,

and abilities as designed by God.



I have found that the things which I learn on my own, those things which I

internalize and truly understand, revolutionize my life in a dramatic way. Why?

Because I am the one who made the discovery. Dr. Howard Hendricks, a great

professor of theology, says, “Knowledge that is self-discovered is stored in the

deepest part of the mind and remains the longest in memory. There is no jewel

more precious than that which you have mined yourself.”



I promise that if you are willing to open your mind and seek the real truth

of who you are, you will make a discovery that will dramatically change your life.

You will understand the foundation upon which an amazing life can be built.

You will go on to do great things. These things will be the fruit of that foundation,

and they will impact you and everyone around you in a dynamic way. This

will be an epiphany of enormous proportions.



Once you have the foundation, great things will flow naturally from your life.

You will not miss it if you desire to know it, though your definition of “great

things” might change as you continue to read. Let’s take a moment and define what

great things are. I’ll start first by defining what they are not. Great things are not:

• Fame

• Fortune

• Self-gratification

• Accumulation of things

• Power

• Popularity

Our culture today has confused and twisted things around. Although fame

and fortune and power are not inherently bad, they are completely irrelevant to

authentic great things. Many in history have obtained fame and fortune and power

and popularity, but they did not do great things. Adolf Hitler is one example of this

truth. I think most would agree that these things are not the ingredients to greatness,

although they are confused for greatness every day.



You currently have the potential to do amazing things in the situation where

you reside. I am talking about things of real value and meaning. I’m talking about

things that get you excited, those of great adventure, risk, and danger. I’m talking

about things that scare you to death and thrill you all at the same time.

As I already shared, I am the quintessential average person. However, I am

living an extraordinary life. I’m not doing so because I’m somehow more special

than others. I’m not a great or amazing person, but I am doing great and amazing

things. I’m fulfilled, I’m happy, and I live an adventure every day. Oh, I have

my moments and struggles like everyone else. Things do not come easily to me.

I have to work extremely hard. I’m an imperfect person with many flaws, but I

am doing great things.



I gave my life to Jesus Christ at a very young age, and I grew up going through

times of obedience and times of rebellion. I married my high-school sweetheart,

Angie, and I am more in love with her today than I ever was when we first married.

I can’t wait to get home and see her at the end of the day. I love sharing my

deepest thoughts with her, and I love hearing what she thinks.



We have four children, and I have the opportunity to be their daddy every

single day. I make a lot of mistakes, but they always forgive me. I love my family,

and I just love spending time with them. Each of my children absolutely amazes

me. They are all different in their own way.



I am blessed with many great friends. My friends stand by me even when I

mess up, and they are the first ones to point me back in the right direction.

I have the opportunity to serve in many ways at the church I belong to.

Despite my shortcomings, I am involved in people’s lives, and I love it. I have the

opportunity to teach an adult Sunday school class. I serve in various capacities

within the church where my strengths and abilities are the strongest. I thoroughly

enjoy serving even though I’m not a natural “giver.”

I also serve in my community in civic service, and I’m able to contribute back

to the wonderful city that we call home.



I’m an entrepreneur. I love to take chances. I’ve started several businesses

from scratch and built them up, and I’ve had the opportunity to sell them. There

are many people out there who are much better at business than me, but I’ve

had good success despite that fact. Although I’ve been fortunate in my business

dealings, I understand that I can fail at any time. Failure doesn’t paralyze me anymore.

My self-worth has nothing do with my successes or failures.



I’m the average Joe who’s living a life of great things. I’m blessed beyond

measure, and I wake up every day thanking God for everything he has done for

me. I’m genuinely happy, although I have my share of bad days. My circumstances

have little to do with my joy. I’m confident in myself, but that confidence

does not rest on my abilities, strength, achievements, or anything that I do. It’s

tethered to something far greater.



That something is the real foundation of success, the real foundation of a life

worth living. Take a moment and consider that God does exist. If God does exist

and he created the entire universe, including you, then he knows exactly how you

are wired. He has knowledge regarding what can truly fulfill you. He knows better

than anyone in the world, including yourself, what makes you happy and

what makes you tick. In fact, not only does he know what makes you tick, but

he’s the reason you are wired the way you are. It was his design from the very

beginning.



Think about it. Aren’t there things that you thoroughly enjoy doing today

that you never could have imagined enjoying years ago? I started playing guitar

my freshman year in college. Through the years I’ve played in a few bands, and

I have loved every minute of it. If you asked me in high school if I would enjoy

playing guitar in a band, I wouldn’t have even considered it. I had no idea at that

time in my life that I would enjoy making music or playing a musical instrument.

In fact, several years ago I really immersed myself into blues music, and I even

played in an exclusive blues band for a couple of years. I didn’t even know what

blues music was in high school, and I would never have guessed I’d be that passionate

about it. On the other hand, God knows exactly what you will love doing

in the future. He knows the very things that can fulfill you completely, even

though you are completely oblivious to those things now.



Now imagine for a moment that you could access that information. Your self discovery

would be off the charts. I’m not saying that things would be easy or perfect,

but most great things aren’t easy. I’d also like to point out that God is more

interested in your character development and who you are than he is in your

level of comfort. I can truly identify with this concept after becoming a father. I

enjoy watching my kids have a great time, but I also know that it is important that

they learn and grow and acquire the necessary skills for success. It is essential for

their future.



A few years ago, two of my sons were fighting with each other, and I stepped

in to break it up. The younger brother was doing everything he could to annoy

his older brother, and I must say he was very successful in this endeavor. I pulled

my older son to the side and gave him some advice on how to deal with it. I had

a younger brother growing up, so I had some experience in this area.



A few hour hours later another dispute broke out, and I could see the

younger brother was back in full stride. I could have stepped in immediately and

broken it up, but I waited. I wanted to see how my older son would handle the

situation now that he was armed with my advice.



God does the same sometimes. He allows us to go through a trial or difficult

situation, because he cares more about our character than our comfort.

So if God knows exactly what makes us tick, and he loves us, doesn’t it make

sense to align with his plan for our lives instead of stumbling around on our own

like a blind squirrel in search of a nut?



Stephen Covey writes, “Begin with the End in Mind means to begin each day,

task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination.”9

God will not always reveal his entire plan for us upfront, so it will not always be

possible to have clear understanding of your destination, but I guarantee you that

his plan is the only way to be fulfilled. His plan is the only one that will lead anywhere

meaningful. Significance outside of God’s plan is a myth, and you will

never know God’s plan without a relationship with God.



With that relationship as your foundation, you can use the principles of God’s

Word to live an extraordinary life—a life that only you are designed to live.

Over the last decade, I’ve spent considerable time researching the great entrepreneurs

of America. I have been fascinated by the idea that each entrepreneur

is unique and creative in his or her own specific way. Every great entrepreneur has

a unique style, background, ability, and approach. I was amazed to discover the

varied personalities, experience, and education in their stories.



As I started to look deeper, I began to discover common threads of behavior

present in the great entrepreneurs. I realized that there were certain principles or

methods that these great entrepreneurs were employing in their ventures that

were instrumental to their success, regardless of their background, experience,

education, or personality type.



I also discovered that these entrepreneurial methods could be applied and

used in one’s personal life with remarkable results. For example, the great entrepreneurs

are able to see opportunity that others don’t typically see, and they have

an ability to capitalize on those opportunities in creative and trailblazing ways.

The great entrepreneurs are excellent at creating vision and inspiring others to that

particular vision. They are driven, efficient, and passionate about what they do.

They are able to overcome their fears and actually use fear to their advantage.

They have a sense for what’s really important, and they tend to focus on the right

things. The great entrepreneurs are good at evaluating options while minimizing

risk and maximizing opportunity, and they have a sixth sense for anticipating

trends. They have resolve and persistence, and they are great at turning defeat into

opportunity.



Throughout this book, you will learn the process of applying these entrepreneurial

methods in your own personal life. You will be amazed at the potential

that you already possess when you start to apply these amazing methods.

While these entrepreneurial methods have incredible value, they are simply

a collection of contrived techniques without the foundation of Christian principles.

I can provide countless examples of great entrepreneurs who have amassed

outrageous fortunes only to find that they are not fulfilled and are living a meaningless

existence without an authentic foundation.



If you build your life on techniques and manipulation in a self-serving

approach to get as much as you can, I can assure you that a great awakening will

occur in your life at some point. Unfortunately, this happens for many people

near the end of their lives when it’s too late. The Bible says, “What good is it for

a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”10 John D. Rockefeller, perhaps

one of the wealthiest men in history, was once asked, “How much money

is enough money?” Rockefeller replied, “Just a little bit more.”11



If you have no interest in God and spiritual things, I would like to make a deal

with you as you continue reading this book. I encourage you to complete the

book on the basis of learning and applying the powerful entrepreneurial methods

that are presented. The value of these methods will pay significant dividends

in your personal life. As you encounter the references to God, consider the possibility

that these references represent an area you should perhaps reconsider.



Keep an open mind and really think through these areas of your life. You may be

surprised, and you might possibly make a discovery that could transform your

entire life. Think about it for a moment: if what you are believing or not believing

right now is not true, do you want to know the truth? If your answer really

is yes, you owe it to yourself to keep an open mind.



What you are about to read will light a fire for change in your life, because

you are about to embark on a journey. Maybe you find yourself escaping to a

world that does not resemble reality. Many people escape in their own minds

where they live out their fantasies and dreams, never knowing or realizing those

thoughts as reality. Perhaps you spend more time daydreaming about who you

want to be than really living.



Incredible opportunity exists for you as you read further, and I am excited for

what you will discover. My mission in writing this book is this: I seek to inspire,

motivate and equip you to find authentic fulfillment, passion, and meaning by

truly discovering the exact person God made you to be while applying amazing

entrepreneurial methods in your life.



I believe every person on earth has incredible value and potential, and when

a person understands his or her purpose, potential, and abilities as designed by

God, that person will accomplish and experience great things.



The amazing thing about this journey of great things is that you are the only

person in the world right now who can accomplish your purpose. There is no one

else who can step into your shoes and be you better than you can be you. At this

very moment of your life, you must decide. Who are you? What is your purpose?

What are the great things that you’ve been called to? I’m so excited about the

adventure before you.
 
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