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

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Armor of God – Standing Firm in Spiritual Warfare - by Pastor Gregory Brown

When Pastor Gregory Brown presented me with the opportunity to read his newest Bible study, The Armor of God – Standing Firm in Spiritual Warfare, I said yes without delay.  Previously I had read his Bible study on the book of Philippians – Pursing Spiritual Maturity - and I appreciated that Pastor Brown is a solid Bible teacher.

Pastor Brown has once again has shown himself to be a 2 Timothy 2:15 kind of pastor and teacher.  He is a workman approved rightly dividing the Word of truth.  He preaches Christ and Him crucified. 

Pastor Brown has done a thorough study of Ephesians 6:10-20 and it’s evident in his exposition of the Scripture.  He uses Scripture to interpret Scripture.  He uses Scripture to give examples on what we should do or not do, and take heed and learn from other’s failures.  He shares some keen insights into the armor God has provided for the saints to wear so we can be victorious in this battle.  Pastor Brown takes the Word of God seriously and knows the power of God’s Word in a believer’s life to help us grow in holiness, obedience and sanctification. 

Something I especially appreciate about Pastor Brown’s studies is that he doesn’t presume that the readers are Christians.  He knows that there will be some who are in church or in a Bible study, but not in Christ.  He shows through Scripture how you can be saved from sin and know with assurance of your salvation in Christ.   

I was challenged, reproved, corrected and encouraged as I read this study on The Armor of God by Pastor Gregory Brown.  I highly recommend this Bible study.  It would be good for the individual who wants to better understand Ephesians and the Armor of God.  It would also be a good study for a small group or to prepare a Bible study leader teaching this passage. 

Are you tired of feeling like you are losing spiritual battles?  Maybe it’s time for you to dig deeper in to God’s Word and learn how you can be equipped to Stand Firm in Spiritual Warfare. 

I would like to thank Pastor Gregory Brown for the opportunity to read his new Bible study, The Armor of God – Standing Firm in Spiritual Warfare, in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

If you would like to know more about Pastor Gregory Brown and his Bible studies, you may want to visit his website:  Gregory Brown

Monday, May 09, 2016

Before I Forget – by B. Smith and Dan Gasby – A Painful but Valuable Resource For Those Facing Alzheimer’s

How do I write a book review on something that’s personal, not just a subject of interest?  How do I write a review on a book that stirs up memories and emotions from the six most difficult years of my life?  That’s my challenge as I try to sum up on thoughts on Before I Forget by B. Smith and Dan Gasby with Michael Shnayerson. 

I looked at this book, Before I Forget, and read the description a number of times before I decided to take the leap and read B. Smith and Dan Gasby’s experience on the Alzheimer’s.  I knew it would bring back the memories from the years my mother battled Alzheimer’s; a losing a battle she and our family had to endure.

Before I Forget was indeed painful to read; but I urge you to read it anyway.  It’s made all the more painful because B. is far too young to endure the indignities that Alzheimer’s inflicts on her daily and ultimately the robbery of her memories, her personality and finally physically as she succumbs to this horrible disease.  But I thank God for B. and her beloved husband Dan Gasby who are willing to be open and transparent and be the face of Alzheimer’s to help educate people and raise awareness and funding for this important and hugely impacting ugly, ugly awful disease.

Before I Forget would have been very helpful when I was going through this with my mother.  I would have found relief and comfort knowing that others have felt similar emotions that I experienced.  Dan shared a lot of information about various treatments that may be beneficial and the latest drug research.  Some progress has been made since my mother died in 2008.  One of the biggest advances is being able to diagnose Alzheimer’s with a PET scan.  Just a few years ago that wasn’t possible. 

It was alarming and disheartening to read about the disparity of funding for Alzheimer’s compared to other diseases, especially considering the number of people and families affected.  I had never heard about the greater incidence of Alzheimer’s in the African –American community, nor the reluctance of people in that community to participate in medical studies.  I was stunned to read about the Tuskegee research which was unconscionable at best and criminal at worst.  After reading about that, I can understand why some people might be jaded and hesitant to participate in medical research.  I applaud Dan’s persuasive arguments to participate in spite of research history. 

I appreciated the detailed explanations of the various stages of Alzheimer’s.  That would have been very helpful, not only to understand what stage my mother was in, but also to know what the road up ahead was going to be like.

What I loved the most in this book was the open sharing from B. and Dan, her husband, as he is watching the woman he loves robbed daily.  How blessed they both are, but especially B. to have a man committed to being there with her and for her and her advocate.  Their daughter Dana has been a huge support and help.

One word of caution, if you are offended by profanity, I want you to be aware that there is some salty language in this book, but not a lot. I found myself sad that Dan and B. do not have the benefit of faith in Christ to undergird them and carry them through each day along with the support of a church family.  I pray that they will meet God in the midst of this battle. 

One memorable line from Dan was, “Don’t fear Alzheimer’s.  Hate it!  And Fight Back – with the one weapon we have, money, to develop the drug that finally beats it.” 

I highly recommend Before I Forget by B. Smith and Dan Gasby.  I wish I had this book when my mother battled Alzheimer’s.  I recommend this book to anyone who is stricken with this wretched disease as well as the family and friends whose lives have been or will be greatly impacted. 

I would like to thank Blogging for Books and Harmony Books for the opportunity to read Before I Forget in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Thursday, May 05, 2016

A Perfect Day at Dallas Arboretum

A Perfect Day

Yesterday I was able to go with my friend Julie to the Dallas Arboretum.  We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day.  Below are some of my favorite pictures from the day.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

None Like Him by Jen Wilkin – An Effective Tool To Help You Become a God-Fearing Woman (Which is the beginning of wisdom)

It was my privilege to read Jen Wilkin’s newest book None Like Him – 10 Ways God Is Different From Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing).  As a student in her Bible study class I was excited for the opportunity to read her latest release.  If it was anything like her Bible studies, I knew I would be challenged and indeed I was. 

In None Like Him, Jen takes a look at God through His unique attributes: Infinite, Incomprehensible, Self-Existent, Self-Sufficient, Eternal, Immutable, Omnipresent, Omniscient, Omnipotent and Sovereign.  I felt like she was holding up a gem and looking at the different facets of God as the light shines through them.  She does this through comparison looking at what God has revealed about Himself in Scripture and contrasting that to how different we are as humans. 

Jen effectively helped me to see God more clearly and look at myself in the mirror of God’s Word (not always a pretty picture).  Because she is open and transparent, it makes some of the hard things she shares and confronts the reader with more tolerable.  Especially in light of the good goal of becoming a God-fearing woman. 

There were times I felt like Jen had been reading my diary because what she expressed captured my thoughts, feelings and experiences.  I highlighted many passages in this book to look back on.  I especially appreciate the tools she has at the end of each chapter.  She includes verses to meditate on that highlight the attribute of God studied in that chapter.  Also included are thought provoking questions for reflection and the invitation to write out a pray to God. 

I highly recommend None Like Him by Jen Wilkin.  This is a wonderful book.  Even though I received a free copy of the e-book, I’m going to purchase a hardcopy so I can go through this again at my own pace and take a closer at each attribute of God.  This summer I am hoping to join with friends as we go through None Like Him during our break from Bible study.  I also want to purchase some additional copies of this book to share with family and friends. 

I would like to thank Net Galley and Crossway Publishers for the opportunity to read None Like Him by Jen Wilkin in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Inheritance by Michael Phillips – Gifted Storyteller

It’s been many years since I’ve read a book by Michael Phillips but the storyline of his newest book, The Inheritance, drew me in.  I’m so glad for this opportunity to reconnect with this author for he is a gifted storyteller.

The Inheritance tells the story of the Tulloch family through the generations who have lived on the fictional island of Whales Reef which is part of the Shetland Islands of Scotland.  Following the unexpected death of laird Macgregor Tulloch the fate of the Tulloch legacy and fortune hangs in the balance while the courts determine who the rightful heir is.  The community of Whales Reef is impacted as well as everyone awaits the news of who will be their new laird.  How will their village be affected?  Will their way of life continue on and be protected or are changes coming their way?  How does a young woman over 3,400 miles away in Washington DC factor into the equation?  To find out, you are going to want to read The Inheritance.

Author Michael Phillips knows how to weave a good story.  He starts by unveiling the storyline and weaves in a cast of characters that seem to come alive.  After reading this story I feel like I could take the ferryboat from Lerwick and step on to the island of Whales Reef and walk down the street and see the people I’ve been reading about.  The author takes the time to develop the characters.  He really captures the unique way of life on the Shetland Islands and the accent was captured when the characters spoke. 

I liked the character David Tulloch and thought his character was well developed.  David’s interaction with people seemed to reflect a genuine Christian faith, but he didn’t speak about it, pray, read the Bible or go to church.  I would like to have better understood the character of Loni.  The reader learns about how she was raised, but faith doesn’t seem to be evident in her current life.  Towards the end of the story she expresses an interest in the Christian faith and shows appreciation her family heritage.  The other character I would have liked to have seen better developed is Hardy who seemed rather one dimensional.  One character who did openly share his faith was Sandy Innes as he prayed and interacted with Loni.  I loved this character. 

A Christian author is in a unique position and has a huge opportunity to share the soul saving message of the Gospel.  I wish that had been done in this book.  I struggled somewhat because the Christian faith and church were distorted in the beginning of this book because of false teachers that were part of the story.  The characters just seemed to stop going to church altogether.  Another concern I have is that some of the thoughts and feelings expressed don’t line up with Biblical theology.  An example is when David was recalling an incident from his youth (page 251), “His quest for the great Fatherhood of the universe had begun.” 

I recommend The Inheritance by Michael Phillips for its rich storyline and interesting characters; not sound Biblical theology.  The story starts out a little slow, but it’s worth pressing through.  I look forward to reading additional books in this series.  Michael is very adept at writing historical fiction and draws the reader in. 

I would like to thank Litfuse and Bethany House for the opportunity to read The Inheritance in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

If you would like a chance to win a copy of The Inheritance by Michael Phillips please click on the link below:


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Target Is Missing the Mark

An ironic name for a store
That is missing the mark

In a world gone mad
Run by feelings
Thought and reason are irrelevant

Right and wrong no longer matter
Truth has been abandoned
In favor of what feels good

Beware when the left redefines words
The word sex has been jettisoned
Gender is now in

Male, female
Why thinkest thou so narrow
Your “gender” is now what you feel

Chromosomes…who needs them
Who cares what body parts you have
Choose the bathroom that feels right to you

Who cares if a woman wants privacy
So what if a mother is concerned about their child
Safety and privacy now trumped by feelings

Caution my friend, the door has been opened wide
Quietly in will slip the sexual predator
The child molester looking for their target

Transgender…unsure about just who they are
Deserving of compassion
For they too are created in God’s image

But is an open bathroom
The way to go
No one was denied their rights to use the restroom

Not that it will make a huge difference
But my business and money
Will be spent elsewhere

At retailers that respect all customers
Companies which put safety and privacy first
No more shopping at Target…it just doesn’t feel right

By Susan Wachtel
April 26, 2016

Friday, March 25, 2016

Do This In Remembrance of Me

 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. - 1 Corinthians 11:26

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Philippians – Pursuing Spiritual Maturity by Gregory Brown – A thorough exposition and study of God’s Word

Recently I was offered the opportunity to read Pastor Gregory Brown’s new Bible study Philippians – Pursuing Spiritual Maturity – The Bible Teacher’s Guide.  I had not heard of Pastor Brown or his Bible studies before so I looked up information on him and found favorable reviews and feedback on his work.  So I agreed to take a look at his new Bible study in the book of Philippians and I’m so glad I did.

In these spiritually perilous days in which we live in, it’s heartening to find a solid Bible study from a Pastor and teacher who takes the Word of God seriously.  Pastor Brown does solid and thorough exposition of the Scriptures.  He begins the study talking about whom the author is, the historical background and purpose of the book.  He goes on to look at what are the signs and marks of a healthy (and unhealthy) church, its members and how we can develop spiritual maturity, grow in our walk with Christ and with body of Christ where we worship and serve. 

I found this study very convicting and challenging.  As you work through this study you will be examining yourself according to God’s Word and allow the Holy Spirit to work in you through the washing of the Word. 

If you want an easy Bible study that will make you feel good and doesn’t take much time, this probably isn’t it.  But if you want to grow and mature in your walk with Christ and have real and lasting changes in your inner man which are reflected outwardly, then this study is for you.  If you want to be better equipped to lead a Bible study, this book will give you a solid understanding of the book of Philippians. 

I would like to thank Pastor Gregory Brown for the opportunity to read his Bible study Philippians – Pursuing Spiritual Maturity.  I look forward to going through other studies by this gifted teacher.  Be sure to check out his website, Gregory Brown, where you can find his Bible studies, sermons, articles and blog.

I was offered this book free in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

If I Run by Terri Blackstock – Will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end

I’m a fan of Terri Blackstock’s writing so I was excited at the opportunity to read her newest mystery If I Run. 

This book is much different from her other stories.  If I Run is written in the first person narrative from two character’s perspectives, Casey and Dylan.

The story jumps right in to a mystery from the first sentence with Casey leaving the scene of a murder.  Over time the reader learns more about who was murdered and why and why in the world Casey is on the run.

Shortly thereafter readers are introduced to Dylan, a friend of the murder victim, who was hired by family to help bring into custody the chief murder suspect Casey.

Why is Casey fleeing the scene?  If she’s really innocent why doesn’t she hang around to defend herself?  After all, won’t the evidence exonerate her if indeed she is innocent?  Does Dylan really want to find the person who murdered his friend?  Or is he hunting Casey down just for the money?  Will truth prevail or will evil triumph? 

To get answers to those questions, you’ll have to read If I Run by Terri Blackstock.  This book will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. 

One of the things I appreciate about reading Christian writers is when they incorporate the Christian faith into the characters.  Unlike some of her other books the main characters aren’t believers.  They’ve had some exposure to Christianity, but they aren’t believers yet. 

Both characters, Casey and Dylan were very likable.  I’ve got to confess, Casey had me pulling my hair out at times.  But I realized that the character reminded me of real life.  We can’t control what other people do and the decisions they make and they have their reasons for making them. 

I recommend Terri Blackstock’s newest book If I Run.  Readers will enjoy Terri’s unveiling the characters and storyline one layer at a time.  I forewarn you, you may need to stay up late to finish this book. 

I would like to thank BookLook and Zondervan Publishers for the opportunity to read Terri Blackstock’s newest book If I Run in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Can I Just Say – Open Letter to Senator Marco Rubio and Mr. Donald Trump

Can I just say, Senator Rubio and Mr. Trump, that the level that you two have taken the Presidential debates to is a new low.  For goodness sakes, parents shouldn’t have to be ready to cover their children’s ears while watching a debate. 

Senator Rubio, you were wrong to even go down the road of making an insult on another candidate’s body parts much less adding sexual innuendo.  You were absolutely wrong!  As a Christian, I also want to remind you the Bible speaks against course jesting. 

During last night’s debate, you had the opportunity to step up and play the man.  To publically apologize to Mr. Trump for insulting him in a childish manner and to the citizens of this country for lowering the discourse of this election to the level of junior high boys. 

Mr. Trump, you had the opportunity to turn the other cheek and not even bring up the topic.  You could have said, “Let’s not even go down that road.  Instead let’s talk about the issues that matter.”  That’s what’s really important to the American citizens.  Instead you chose to answer back a juvenile foolish insult.  You’ve got to stop taking the bait Mr. Trump. 

Do you honestly think that any voter gives a hoot and a holler about the candidates body parts?  Really?  Seriously?

What we do care about is your mind, thinking, values, character, courage, integrity, knowledge and experience.  We care about your understanding of the foundation and principles our nation was built on.  We want to know what you think about the United States Constitution, laws and the separation of powers.  We want to know if you respect a citizen’s rights for freedom of religion.  That’s just to name a few things. 

We want candidates that act like men of integrity and focus on the issues.  It’s time to step up and be gentlemen and act like decent, respectable men. 

@realdonaldtrump @marcrubio #GOPDebate

Friday, February 19, 2016

Defying Normal by Skip Heitzig with Jeff Kinley – An Encouraging Challenge to Come Up Higher

Recently, I was presented with the opportunity to read Skip Heitzig’s latest book Defying Normal – Soaring Above the Status Quo.  This book focuses on the exemplary life of Daniel from his youth to old age.  Skip challenges readers, to not just go with the cultural flow, but come up higher and defy normal and live for the glory and honor of God.

Consistently and throughout his life Daniel was a man of integrity and one whom God used to influence national leaders and the people around him.  Most of us probably won’t rub elbows with presidents and kings.  But we will come into contact with family, friends, fellow believers, neighbors and co-workers.  If we live in a manner that honors and glorifies God, He may choose to use us to strengthen and encourage others or speak the truth, without compromise, from His Word. 

In Defying Normal, Skip looks at how Daniel lived in regards to self-control, faith, humility, integrity, dependence, courage, hope and balance.  At the end of each chapter he exhorts readers to deliberate and think through how that quality or character trait can be exhibited in their own life and impact others for good and please God.

When I read about Daniel, I can’t help but admire him and wish I was more like him.  It’s easy to forget that he grew and developed his godly steadfast moral character over time in faithful obedience as he walked with God. 

I recommend Skip Heitzig and Jeff Kinley’s book Defying Normal – Soaring Above the Status Quo.  I would like to thank Worthy Publishing Group for the opportunity to read Defying Normal in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Parables by John MacArthur – An Excellent Read and Resource

Pastor John MacArthur’s latest book is Parables The Mysteries of God’s Kingdom Revealed Through The Stories Jesus Told.  I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to read this book because of the solid Bible teaching it contains. 

Before diving into the parables, Pastor MacArthur explains, from Matthew 13, why Jesus started teaching in parables.  He had specific truths He was trying to convey to those who had the ears to hear.  It wasn’t to make it easy for the common people to understand what He was teaching.  Instead, the symbolism used in the parables was to hide the truth from those who had no desire to know what Christ was saying. 

Pastor MacArthur brings clarity and helps the reader understand the truths contained in these stories.  Unlike allegories, not everything in a parable has significance, but there is a profound truth to be understood.  In this book a parable is defined as, “an ingenious simple word picture illuminating a profound spiritual lesson.” 

This book covers select parables in ten chapters, including the parables of the soils/seed, the good Samaritan, and the rich man and Lazarus.  Some of the parables are only a sentence or two long, but there’s a meaning that Christ wanted His followers to understand.

In this day and age, it is important for Christians to be wise and discerning and know when a pastor or teacher is accurately teaching God’s Word.  This book will help you to be equipped as you study God’s Word for yourself.  One of the benefits to the reader is that you will be able to take what you’ve learned and apply it as you study the Bible and read Jesus’ parables and teachings for yourself.

I greatly appreciate Pastor John MacArthur’s high view of God and Scripture.  He is thorough in his study and exposition of the Bible.  He is insightful and courageous as he speaks the truth about what’s happening in our culture and in today’s churches. 

I highly recommend Parables by Pastor John MacArthur.  This book is a great resource for anyone who loves to read and study God’s Word and for those who are new to studying the Bible.  Whether you are a new Christian or mature, you’ll want to read this book.

I would like to thank BookLook and Thomas Nelson Publishers for the opportunity to read Parables by John MacArthur in exchange for an honest review. I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.