He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. - Colossians 1:15-16

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Hiding in the Light by Rifqa Bary – An Excellent Read



I was privileged to read Rifqa Bary’s excellent book Hiding in the Light – Why I Risked Everything to Leave Islam and Follow Jesus.  I find it fascinating to hear the stories of people raised in Islam who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior; people who have become Christians in spite of the great risk to their life. 

Rifqa’s story is unique; she became a Christian when she was 12 years old and managed to keep it a secret from her family for four years.  At the age of 16, she faced a very real threat to her life when her parents found out that she was a Christian.  That night Rifqa had a life changing decision to make; should she stay and risk death at the hands of her very angry father, or face the possibility of being sent back to Sri Lanka against her will or should she leave and abandon it all for Christ. 

Through the courageous help of friends and strangers Rifqa found safe haven.  But her new found peace was not to last for long.  A battle ensued; Rifqa’s parents wanted her back home, but her new found friends and allies were willing to risk much to help her find the freedom she wanted to worship God in safety. 

This book is riveting and Rifqa is open and transparent and reveals what was happening with her mind, will and emotions as she struggled to live out her faith and how her family responded when they discovered she was no longer a Muslim.  I was shocked to hear of Rifqa’s experiences with the juvenile detention system, child protective services and foster care.  But the Lord always seemed to bring someone across Rifqa’s path to sow hope and encouragement into her turbulent life.  I was heartened to learn of those who are gifted and called to help children in crisis. 

After reading Hiding in the Light, I have a better appreciation for what it takes for someone to make the courageous choice to believe in Jesus Christ and openly choose to live for Him when coming from a Muslim background. 

I highly recommend Rifqa Bary’s new book Hiding in the Light.

I would like to thank the people at Blogging for Books and Water Brook Publishers for the opportunity to read Hiding in the Light in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Case of the Sin City Sister by Lynne Hinton – Mixed Emotions



I love a good mystery and finding a writer whose work is new to me.  That’s why I chose The Case of the Sin City Sister by Lynne Hinton. 

In some respects I liked this book.  I found it interesting and thought that Lynne did a good job weaving the characters, from different times, places, and backgrounds into an intriguing storyline that takes place in New Mexico and Las Vegas.  I found myself looking forward to digging in and seeing what happened next and learning about what made the characters tick.

I appreciated that the book did not have the characters engaged in filthy language or sexual immorality. 

There were some things I wish the author had handled differently since she is a Christian and has a Masters of Divinity degree.  As a Christian, when I’m reading a book by a Christian, and published by a Christian company, I hold it to a different standard than I do a secular book.  I look at the theology that’s in the book and compare it to the Bible.

In chapter one, the main character Sister Eve is speaking with Oliver, the Monk in charge of the monastery where she lives.  Eve’s been struggling to decide if she should remain a nun or return home and do the work she loves and has an affinity for, private detective work.  Oliver says to her, “If you are a true disciple, Sister, and I believe you are, then Christ lives in you.  If this is so, then the desire that is in your heart can be trusted.  It is the truth for you to live by.”  While that may be true to the degree a person is truly a Christian and obedient to Christ, that’s not complete and sound Biblical counsel regarding following our heart. 

Starting on page 74 and the following pages references were made to telepathic communication, people being connected in their spirits and psychic energy.  This conversation was from a character who professed to be a believer in Jesus Christ.  The Bible is very clear and unambiguous in its condemnation psychic phenomenon.  It shouldn’t have any place in the life of a Christian. 

I was puzzled by Eve’s impression of Las Vegas.  The character is a nun, someone who is supposedly sanctified.  Yet, Eve didn’t seem overly concerned or disturbed by the blatant sin that was on display in Las Vegas.  Some of her comments include, “There’s nothing that you can’t find or do or try.  It’s like anything’s possible there.”, “It was like living on stage.”, and “It’s like Disney World for grown-ups.”

There were a few references to Eve taking her rosary beads and reciting a prayer.  I think that the opportunity to model prayer, show the power of prayer and affirm that God hears and answer our prayers was missed by a long shot.

The main character Eve, seem more concerned about her sister’s physical safety rather than her eternal security.  I don’t recall any reference made to Dorisanne’s salvation nor the other characters in the book. 

So why am I making such an issue of the theological concerns I raised?  Christian authors have an incredible opportunity to impact both believers and unbelievers with the Gospel message and infallible truth from the Bible.  To not take that opportunity is one thing.  But when the religious and theological references don’t line up with Scripture that’s a more serious concern.

I have a mixed review on this book.  It was well-written and had some interesting and likable characters.  It kept me guessing.  But from a Christian theological perspective I think it missed the boat.  If you choose to read this book, read it for the storyline not the theology. 

I would like to thank the people at BookLook and Thomas Nelson Publishers for the opportunity to read The Case of the Sin City Sister by Lynne Hinton in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Operation Condemnation




Captain Deceit, I’m reporting for duty
Do come in lieutenant, I have your next assignment

Your next target is a woman
She is a believer in our Enemy

Years ago she recognized her sin and repented
Then the Adversary snatched her from Satan’s clutches

The so called Holy One forgave all her sins
He even credited Christ’s righteousness to her account

While we are powerless to change her eternal destiny
We can assault her here on earth

I want you to rack her with guilt and condemnation
Daily, focus her mind on her many sins, past and present

Help her to see her willful sin
And the utter depravity of her heart

The pièce de résistance
Will be sins committed after she came to Christ

May she focus on her own wretchedness and unworthiness
Even question if she is really saved

Instead of being filled with joy and peace
Because Christ paid her sin debt

She will be burdened with guilt and brought low
And never desire to share the Gospel

May she be bound with chains
Link after link, memories of her sin

Distract her
So she can’t focus her mind

Do not let her open God’s perfect and inerrant Word
Or let her hide the Enemy’s truth and promises in her heart

Do not let her read or remember
There is no condemnation to those in Christ

Nor walk in freedom
For whom the Son sets free is free indeed

May those hell-bound unbelievers around her
See a fool burdened under the weight of her sin

May she not harken the door of a church
Where the Word of God is taught without compromise

Instead direct her to man’s wisdom
A life of self-effort and temporary rewards

May she not be encouraged and strengthen
By the body of Christ

Whatever you do, don’t let her pray
For her God will hear her prayers and answer

Like the vulnerable lamb who wanders from the flock
Attack and devour when she is alone

Do not let her put her hope in God
Instead cloud her mind with condemnation and defeat

Whatever you do, do not let her be filled with joy and peace
Or give praise, honor and glory to God

Remember, He is our ultimate Enemy
Who desires to save all those who are perishing

Good luck on your assignment lieutenant
Once you succeed, there are many more we need to defeat

by Susan Wachtel
May 14, 2015

Monday, May 11, 2015

The High Price of Sin



When I’m tempted to sin, I don’t fully realize the consequences that will impact my life and the lives of others around me.  Some consequences may last a lifetime.  Relationships that are damaged may not be restored until heaven, if ever.  I’m blinded to the fact that I’m focused on myself; not God, nor others.  I can be very shortsighted.  If I knew the high price of my sin and it’s impact would I still choose to purposely and willfully sin?  Lord, help me to love You more, obey You more and take You at Your Word!

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Bella’s Gift – by Rick and Karen Santorum – A Challenge and Treasure



A few years ago, I heard Rick and Karen Santorum on Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk radio show as they shared about their daughter Bella.  I was also familiar with Rick from his 2012 Presidential bid and appreciated his conservative pro-life values.  That’s why I was eager for the chance to read their new book Bella’s Gift.

I really liked Bella’s Gift and highly recommend it.  This is a challenging book to read because you may find yourself evaluating what it means to be pro-life.  Especially, when you read about the ongoing fight the Santorum family had to endure to have their precious daughter Bella treated when she got sick and the ongoing care she had to receive at home on a daily basis.   

I was very angry at what I read about the medical establishment, doctors and nurses, who refused to give Bella basic treatment that they would have given to any “normal child” who was sick.  But when it came to Bella, who has physical and mental disabilities as a result of Trisomy 18, she didn’t qualify in their minds for treatment.  It was shocking to hear them say that Bella’s condition was incompatible with life.  When treated properly Bella had a fighting chance of improving from her immediate sickness.  

I was heartened to read of the exceptional care that Bella received at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  A place where the doctors and nurses called Bella by name and chose to come alongside the Santorum family to fight for her life.  What a haven CHOP is for families with sick children. 

I know the Santorum’s didn’t write this book seeking adulates for all they’ve done for their daughter Bella.  They are the first ones to tell you that their entire family has been blessed by Bella far more than any sacrifice they’ve made for their daughter.  It’s through Bella they have learned what pure and true love is.  They’ve seen a picture of what absolute dependence upon our heavenly Father looks like. 

I appreciated Rick and Karen’s openness and transparency about their inner struggles, individually and as a couple, as they fought daily for Bella to live.  They shared how their faith was the driving force in their fight for Bella and how it upheld and sustained them in the very dark valleys they walked through.

Bella’s Gift will get you thinking.  Would I have the wherewithal to do what the Santorum’s did to help save their little girl?  Has the pro-abortion and right to die culture in our nation made it much easier do away with helpless disabled children?  Either killing them outright in the womb or refusing treatment once they are born?  After all, our culture doesn’t bat an eye when it comes to extinguishing the life of an innocent healthy pre-born baby when it’s not convenient for the parents.  Is a human being any less human or less valuable because they are disabled mentally or physically?  If I had a child who would be totally dependent upon me and require fulltime care, how would I respond?  

I wanted Rick and Karen to give the names of the doctors, nurses and hospitals who didn’t want to treat Bella.  But at the end of the book I found out why they handled those people with grace.  It’s through their faith and because of the grace God has shown to them through Jesus Christ that they chose to forgive the doctors and nurses and pray for them.  Love covers a multitude of sins. 

I highly recommend Bella’s Gift by Rick and Karen Santorum.  It will challenge you, help you grow in your faith and encourage you. 

I would like to thank the people at BookLook and Thomas Nelson Publishers for the opportunity to read Bella’s Gift in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.