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

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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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The Useful Reporter

He calls himself a journalist
Confident that he’s a crack reporter
Truth be told he’s nothing but a shill

A useful, pliable tool
In the hands of the left
An attack dog released at their command

Unquestionably believes everything he’s told
Long ago he gave up aspirations
To be a serious and well respected journalist

Stories of substance go untold
For they take too much time and effort
Followed by unrelenting criticism if he goes against PC storyline

So what if a high ranking political leader
Gets away with lying criminal actions
With nary a slap on the wrist

So what if the door is held open wide
No attempt to seriously vet those who may have hateful intentions
Stand by with shock and horror when murderous plans are unleashed

So what if our military is abandoned despite pleas for help
Only to be left to fend for themselves
When overrun by well-coordinated radical Islamic jihadists

So what if our borders are like a sieve
After all, US sanctuary cities
Stand ready to embrace illegal immigrants, no matter their crime

When race relations are at a new low
He adds fuel to the fire
Joining the popular political narrative

A thorough investigation will take too much time
Headlines will be missed
What if the facts don’t match the story at hand

Long ago, his quest to be a great journalist was forgotten
No longer known for truth, honesty, integrity and digging into a story
Instead he’s settled for being just another useful reporter

by Susan Wachtel
July 19, 2016

This poem was inspired by the ridiculous irrelevant stories the press is running with following the first day of the Republican National Convention.  If reporters and journalists were to actually focus on real stories of substance, we might have a chance for real dialogue on important issues of our day.

#RNC2016
#MelaniaTrump

Trust God in the Darkness

Ps 91-2

T – Trust God in the darkness
When the future is unknown
When silence pierces
My heart, mind and soul

R – Remember God is faithful
As He has revealed Himself
In His Word
In prayers answered in His perfect timing

U – Understand God is good
Even when circumstances are not good
Utter His praises all day long
He is able to do far more than I can imagine

S – Salvation and deliverance
Grace and mercy from His hand
Discipline and encouragement
Strengthen my weary heart, mind and soul

T – Thank the Lord
For His past faithfulness
His ever present goodness
His never changing perfect character

Cracked to Death by Cheryl Hollon – So-so

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I enjoy reading a good mystery book, especially during the summer.  That’s why I selected Cheryl Hollon’s newest book Cracked to Death.  This was the first book I’ve read by this author and I had some mixed feelings about it.

On the positive side, I liked the character Savannah Webb and her boyfriend Edward Morris.  Both characters seemed likable and cared about others.  I found the premise of a mystery involving the art of glasswork interesting.  A few of the characters had disabilities and Savannah was quite caring towards them.  Homicide detective David Parker was interesting, but not fully developed.

What I didn’t like:  Some of the characters (Rachel and Faith, SueAnn, Officer Boulli to name a few) seemed like caricatures not real people.  There were a lot of politically correct, edgy things included in the book, to the point of distraction.  It took away from the storyline.  For example, when a homeless person urinates on the side of an art studio, Edward suggests that America needs to build more public toilets.  I don’t read mystery books to have PC views shoved in my face.  There was one curse word but it was unnecessary.

Previously I mentioned that the story included characters with disabilities.  The one I didn’t understand was Arthur who had Crohn’s disease.  He was not a major character and he goes into a detailed explanation about the disease.  Since his character was a minor part of the story it wasn’t value added to the story.

I thought it was interesting that the two overweight characters where portrayed negatively.  An emphasis was made on their physical appearance and one is incompetent and the other is rather stupid.

One of the most obnoxious characters was Amanda.  There is a reference to her sexting.  Thankfully the book didn’t go in to detail.  But it was not a good or necessary part of the story.  I felt like it was thrown in to be edgy.  This character makes some ridiculous choices and it gets tiring after a while.  Bad choice after bad choice and of course she’s “sorry”, weepy and didn’t mean it.  She felt like people where judging her.  Perhaps they were just astonished at her bad nonsensical judgment.

I didn’t care for Savannah “smiling down at these two absurd looking elders.”  Really?  That was uncalled for.

Later when Amanda is telling about her relationship with Martin, she is assured by Edward and Savannah that her friends wouldn’t judge her.  Perhaps instead, Amanda needed friends to lovingly speak up when they see her exercising lack of wisdom and discernment.

Another edgy reference:  “You know how liberal this community is.  It’s not quite as diverse as deliberately quirky Gulfport.”

Amanda wasn’t the only person using poor judgment.  Savannah had her fair share of bad choices, most of which revolved around her acting as a “consultant” for the police.  There were times when she should have called the police and given them information and not talked to a witnesses or suspects.  This wasn’t very realistic.

All this adds up to the story not being really believable.  Many people and references seemed like they were thrown in just to make the story edgy or politically correct.  The character of Amada was irritating rather than interesting.  Savannah overstepping her bounds as a consultant about glass seemed to go too far to be believable.

There may have been a few errors in the book.  Location 625 – screenedin should have been screened in.  Location 1049 – references a third bottle that was found that was an original Bristol blue bottle, like the first one.  A little later, in location 1111, the third bottle is referenced again, “Jacob noticed was also a copy.”  Location 1155:  the word should have been “frequented” instead of frequent.

All in all, I found the story in Cracked to Death, by Cheryl Hollon, so-so.  Some of the storyline and characters were not believable or they were downright annoying.  At the same time, there were some characters that were likeable and the setting in a glass art studio was interesting.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Kensington Publishing Corp for the opportunity to read Cracked to Death by Cheryl Hollon in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.