A Vow to Remember

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Fifteen years ago
I made a solemn vow
That I would always remember

That day is etched
Imagines seared
Permanently in my mind

The horror of planes
Filled with precious human souls
Lives extinguished in an instant

What kind of person would do this
Intentionally crash a plane into a building
That’s the day, I left naïve behind

Oh the living hell they must have endured
Above the points of impact, now left to choose
Do I jump or die in this inferno

Desperate phone calls and messages went out
Pleas for help that would never reach them
Love proclaimed by voices that would soon be silenced

Firemen and police officers
Dedicated to serve and protect
Answered the call that day and laid down their lives

110 story skyscrapers don’t collapse!
Not just one, but two towers came down that day
Dust clouds chasing those who miraculously survived

Unthinkable evil struck again
Another plane filled with precious human souls
Used as a missile, plowed headlong into the Pentagon

Lives extinguished
Devastating injuries
Wounds, far deeper, scared the souls of those who survived

The war against evil began that day
It started on United 93
Courageous, heroic passengers said, “No!  We’re taking it back.”

On that day it didn’t matter
Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Native American
We were all one…Americans United

Can it really be
There’s a generation that wasn’t alive
Or those who don’t remember that fateful day

There isn’t a day that goes by
When I don’t remember
Recall afresh the horror of that day

It may be a plane overhead
A tall building on the horizon
A police officer or firefighter passing by

An American flag flying in the breeze
Saying the Pledge of Allegiance
Singing “Oh, say, can you see” evokes tears

To those whose lives were extinguished
Those who lost family or friends
I vow to always remember

by Susan Wachtel
September 11, 2016

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A Living Testimony

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In eternity past
Before God formed this world
He planned for two hearts to become one
Their love for Christ
The Solid Rock foundation for their lives
Desire to honor and glorify the Lord
Unwavering trust
In both good times and bad
God is praised
Not only with their lips
But with their very lives
When trouble’s strong winds began to blow
Waves threatened to swamp them
They clung to Christ all the more
Their hope in Him could not be quenched
Though pain and suffering threatened to extinguish the flame
Hope’s light burned brighter in the darkness
Like Paul they believe
Our present sufferings are not worthy to be compared
To the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ
This present life is passing away
It’s only when we die, that a Christian will be truly home
Until that time
Eyes focused on Christ
Hearts fully committed
Trust in the unfailing source of their strength
For each day, Christ is walking with them
Their young lives, a living testimony
To Christ their Savior and God
He alone is their hope
The proof and evidence of the resurrection to come
Of life everlasting, without end

For Tyler and Mariah

by Susan Wachtel
September 3, 2016

Escaping with Jacob by David Ramos – Learn to see God and Jacob through new eyes

Escaping with Jacob

Recently author David Ramos asked if I would be interesting in reading his 30 day devotional, Escaping with Jacob, which he is rereleasing in September 2016.  After reading his devotional Climbing with Abraham I was excited for this opportunity.

I found David’s devotional on the life of Jacob very insightful and encouraging.  I must confess I tend to view Jacob through cynical eyes and see his faults and failings before I see his growth and changing character.  Seeing God at work in the life of Jacob, a man who was deceitful and scheming brings me hope.  God took this man and changed not only his name to Israel (which means God prevails), but grew and changed him.  The change isn’t instantaneous; but over the course of a lifetime, Jacob grew into his new name Israel.  David reminded readers that God is not afraid of the messiness of our lives.

David also keeps the reader focused on God.  Who God is and who He’s revealed Himself to be in the Bible, and in Jacob’s life, and how we can know with certainty He is our faithful and trustworthy God.  The One who is to be feared and reverenced for He alone is awesome.

This summer, I’ve been reading through the book of Genesis as I prepare for a fall Bible study.  I’ve studied Genesis in-depth twice, so I’m familiar with Jacob.  Reading David’s devotional Escaping with Jacob was perfect timing.  I learned to see Jacob through new eyes and to marvel at God working in our messy and broken lives in a deeper way.

If you are going through a period waiting and aren’t sure what the Lord may be doing in your life, or you are facing huge obstacles you can’t overcome, or your life is very messy, I would encourage you to read David Ramos’ devotional Escaping with Jacob.  Find encouragement as you see how God worked in the life Jacob.

I would have like to have seen David present the Gospel message and tell readers how they can be saved from their sins through Christ and His perfect atoning sacrifice on the cross.  There were a few things I disagreed with about David’s interpretation about Jacob.  Also, David mentioned “authors of Genesis” and it’s my understanding that Moses was the sole author under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

I would like to thank David Ramos for the opportunity to read Escaping with Jacob in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

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Ace Collins’ Take-Your-Dog-to-the-Park Pack

Fall in love with these remarkable service dogs and their stories of courage, faith, and loyalty in Ace Collins’ new book, Service Tails. Their training was intense, their loyalty unquestioned and each step of the way they constantly adapt to better serve those they lead. These unforgettable dogs are more than heroes; they are models from which we can learn how to love and serve unconditionally.

Celebrate the release of Service Tails with Ace by entering to win the Take-Your-Dog-to-the-Park Pack!

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One grand prize winner will receive:

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Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on August 30. The winner will be announced August 31 on the Litfuse blog.

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Service Tails More Stories of Man’s Best Hero by Ace Collins – A Real Treat

Service-Tails

As an animal lover, it didn’t take me long to request Ace Collins newest book Service Tails – More Stores of Man’s Best Hero.  What a treat it was to read this book.  With all that’s wrong in the world today, it was lovely to take some time and learn about how service dogs have been helping people with disabilities and health challenges live full and independent lives.

Service Tails tells the stories of twelve different people, with various disabilities, whose lives were transformed for the better though the use of service dogs helping them live everyday life.  For years I’ve known about seeing-eye dogs that help the blind, but didn’t realize all the other areas that dogs could be trained to help.

I found it interesting to learn about how the dogs are trained.  Why one breed of dog is used over another.  Each organization takes a careful look at the needs of the disabled person and puts a lot of thought into selecting just the right animal.  Training may need to be customized so the dog is able to meet the needs of the person they will be serving.

In Service Tails you will learn how service dogs first started being used in the United States.  I felt grateful for the courageous and pioneering spirit of Morris Frank and his determination to get a guide dog so he could regain his freedom and independence.  But he didn’t stop there; he went on to share with other blind Americans the gift of guide dogs.

It was heartwarming to hear about the bonding that happens between a person and their service dog.  However, it was disconcerting to read about the way people with disabilities are treated and may feel isolated, ignored or treated like a small child.  I was encouraged to see how the service animal helps breakdown some barriers for disabled people.  Instead of people shying away from a disabled person, they are now drawn to them because of the animal.  The service dog serves as a vehicle to help people see beyond the disability and see the person for who they are and things they may have in common.

Service Tails is a book about heroes.  The disabled person who won’t settle for being isolated, giving up and living the rest of their life behind closed doors.  The service dogs whom God has gifted with the right temperament, skills, and intelligence to learn and help and serve people in need.  Not to be forgotten are the people who train and work with the dogs to prepare them for a life of serving, loving and caring for their own special person.

I highly recommend Service Tails – More Stores of Man’s Best Hero by Ace Collins.  This book will encourage you and may give you a new perspective on disabled people and the dogs who serve them.

I would like to thank Litfuse and Abingdon Press for the opportunity to read Service Tails by Ace Collins in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

The Daniel Prayer by Anne Graham Lotz – Context, Context, Context

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Desiring to learn what the Bible teaches us about prayer, I selected Anne Graham Lotz’ newest book The Daniel Prayer.  Unfortunately, after reading this book, I cannot recommend it because it’s off base theologically.

One of the first things Anne should have noted was the importance of not taking Scripture out of context.  But it wasn’t until page 181 that she notes the “danger of taking God’s Word out of context and manipulating it so that it seems to speak personally and specifically.”  But at this point in the book, she has already taken Scripture out of context and read into it and misapplied it many times, rather than reading what it says in context.

One of the phrases Anne uses throughout this is “prayer which moves Heaven.”  She uses it a lot.  It seemed like she was substituting Heaven for God the Father.  Heaven isn’t moved, but God may be moved by our prayers.

Many times in this book Anne does eisegesis; she reads into the Scripture based on her own thoughts and ideas as opposed to exegesis interpreting the Scripture based on what it says in context.

Page 49 – “God reassured me from 1 John 2:27 that I had received an anointing from Him, so I was not to worry.”

Page 54 – “Noah claimed God’s promise of salvation by doing everything exactly as God said.”  Noah believed and obeyed God.

Page 58 – Anne tells about her daughter Rachel-Ruth calling her about the 276 Nigerian girls who had been kidnapped by Boko Haram.  She found it significant that in Acts 27:37, the number of people on board Paul’s ship was 276.  “And we will pray until all 276 are safely home, either with their parents in Nigeria, or with their Heavenly Father.”  Feeling prompted to pray by a Scripture verse is fine, but taking that verse out of context is not good.

Page 61 – Talking about 2 Chronicle 7:13-15, “If a promise could be worn out from use, this one might be tattered beyond recognition.  But promises cannot be worn out.  They are just as valid today as when they were first issued.”  This verse pertains to the nation of Israel, not the United States of America.  It is good when a believer humbles themselves and repents and but it’s not good to take a verse context and misapply it.

Page 70 – Anne speculates about the time when Jesus took three of his disciples, Peter, James and John, and was transfigured in their presence.  “The lesson God drove home to me was this:  Had Jesus invited all twelve of His disciples to draw aside with Him for a time of private prayer?  Did only three of them accept His invitation?  Did the other nine give excuses…?”  Anne is reading into to Scripture.  None of the Gospels indicate that Jesus invited all twelve of the disciples.

Page 88 – Anne talks about the time she was speaking to the United Nations General Assembly and presented the Gospel as the only way to have genuine, permanent world peace.”  The Gospel message is not a way to achieve world peace.  The Gospel message is for individuals, calling for sinners to repent of their sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning death on the cross which paid the penalty in full for their sins so that they could be forgiven.  The Gospel message is for sinners to have peace with God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son.

Page 110 – “Ask Him (God) to give you experiences, as He did Daniel, that will help to build your confidence in Him.”  Is that scriptural?  Or should we instead read God’s Word and believe it and take God as His Word?

Page 125 – Anne references a book by Charles Finney and talks about preparing your heart for revival.  She encourages believers to examine themselves for sin and shares a list of areas to look at from Finney’s book.  Isn’t looking at our sin and repenting a good thing?  Yes it can be, yet Charles Finney was not the most sound theologically.  He denied our moral depravity and sin nature.  He also denied God’s sovereignty in salvation.  His influence is seen today in the seeker-sensitive movement.

There were a couple (page 155 and 160) of times that Anne used Scripture verses and called them prayer, when in fact they were people talking to a Person who was there with them (the Lord Jesus Christ or an Old Testament appearance of the Lord).

Extra-biblical reference – On page 170, Ann shares from Jewish history about Honi who prayed for rain during a severe drought in Jerusalem.  This prayer is not scriptural and it certainly does not seem humble, but instead is commanding the Lord.

On page 253, Anne is encouraging readers to pray The Daniel Payer.  “Could it be that God wants to reassure you…and this book is God’s message to you.  God has heard your prayer.  Heaven has been move and nations are being changed, one person at a time.”  Wow…that is a pretty bold for Anne to speak for God.

There are other examples I could list, but I think you get the picture.  Don’t take Scripture of out context.  Don’t take a promise that God made to an individual or nation and try to make it your own.  You may be encouraged or strengthened in your faith and trust in God based on Scripture, but don’t twist it or take it out of context.

Based on the above examples, and many more that I left out, I do not recommend The Daniel Prayer by Anne Graham Lotz. 

I would like to thank BookLook and Zondervan Publishers for the opportunity to read The Daniel Prayer in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

 

Close to Home by Deborah Raney – Interesting Characters and Relationships

Close to Home

Close to Home is the first book I’ve read by author Deborah Raney.  Even though it’s fourth book in the Chicory Inn Series, I didn’t feel like I had to start with the first book to enjoy it.  Enough background information is woven into the storyline, so even a reader new to the series won’t be lost.

Close to Home tells the story of Bree Whitman, who has been widowed for five years.  Since her husband Tim was killed in Afghanistan, she has remained close to her in-laws and extended family, who have shared a common bond of grief.  But there is a desire stirring in Bree.  She is still young and now contemplates marrying again and starting a family.  Those feelings are intensified when Aaron from work starts showing an interest in Bree.  How will romance with a new man affect her relationship with people who have been her family these past five years?  Will she have to cut off those ties?  Will those feelings of betraying her husband and his memory ever fade?  Is Aaron the right man or has the Lord planned someone else for Bree?  To find out, you’ll want to read Close to Home by Deborah Raney.

I really enjoyed the relationships between Bree and the other characters.  I thought the author had some good insights into people, emotions, what’s going on under the surface.  I liked the characters, with the exception of one person who seemed rather narcissistic, but that’s probably why I didn’t like him.

There were a few times that the book seemed a little slow and dragged a big.  Especially when it came to Bree getting a clue on what she needed to do about a relationship.

There was a little bit of faith woven into the book, but it was very minimal with a couple of references to prayer and church.  There was one point in the book when Bree and Aaron were having lunch and they independently bowed their heads to pray.  That just seemed really odd.  Why wouldn’t they pray together?

Personally, I think the book would have been richer and fuller if the author would have done a bit more with faith.  Have a person pray out loud, or even show how they are impacted from reading the Bible, hearing a sermon at church or through relationships with other believers.

I did appreciate that the book is clean.  There are no sexually inappropriate scenes or language, nor situations that are offensive.

All in all, I really liked Close to Home by Deborah Raney.  She is gifted in developing characters and relationships and is insightful.  I recommend this book and I would like to go back and read the first three books in the Chicory Inn Series and look forward to future books by this author.

I would like to thank Abingdon Press and Net Galley for the opportunity to read Close to Home by Deborah Raney in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

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