Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Union with Christ by Rankin Wilbourne

About the Book:

Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God (David C. Cook, July 2016)

Nothing is more basic or central to knowing and enjoying God than Union with Christ.

Have you ever had difficulty connecting what you know to be true about God with how you feel or how you live each day? Have you ever longed to change but just felt stuck?

The Bible makes a stunning claim: God has provided a way for your life to be united to Christ’s. What does that mean? Is it really possible for me, now? What would it look like?

In Union with Christ, Rankin Wilbourne makes union with Christ accessible and beautiful, for you. Union with Christ is not an abstract idea. It is a powerful reality. And recovering a sense of your union with Christ can change everything for you, like finally putting on a pair of desperately needed glasses.
Discover how coming to see your life through the lens of union with Christ can help bridge that gap between your head and your heart, between your belief and your experience. Union with Christ is what we most need in order to know and enjoy God.

About the Author:

 Rankin Wilbourne grew up in Louisiana and was educated at the University of Mississippi and Princeton Theological Seminary. He is now the senior pastor of Pacific Crossroads Church in Los Angeles. As a former commercial banker, Rankin understands the "gap" between the gospel preached on Sunday and the world people face on Monday. Leading a thriving church in a city driven by stories, he's concerned with drawing connections between what we believe and how we live. Rankin and his wife, Morgen, reside in Los Angeles with their three children.

Margie’s Comments:

The simple title of this book, Union with Christ, reflects the simplicity of the truth that Jesus Christ came to earth “to seek and to save that which was lost.” But salvation in Jesus Christ alone involves our active participation. And the author, Rankin Wilbourne, does a masterful job of explaining and encouraging his readers to dig deeper into God’s Word to find the answers to the “gap” that exists as believers attempt to reconcile what they hear in church on Sunday and the pressures of the world the rest of the week (or as soon as they walk out the door of their churches into the “real” world).

This topic of learning to abide in Christ (John 15) or union with Christ has been one that I’ve pondered for most of my adult life. In reading this book for review (but also for my own study and growth), I realized how thankful I am for the church we have been a part of sixteen out of the last twenty years. If it hadn’t been for the teaching of the pastors and other staff members on justification and progressive sanctification, I probably wouldn’t have as good a grasp on this topic as I do. Oh, I’m far from perfect, but it has long been my prayer to realize the truth of Paul’s desire stated in Philippians 3:8–14. Even before we moved to Colorado twenty years ago, the Lord brought me through various circumstances, and yes, trials, in order to see how this union with Christ could be accomplished. And for those experiences I am grateful.

The author establishes the historical position of the church on this topic of union with Christ before showing us the need of individual believers to have a balance between God’s amazing grace (that doesn’t give license to do whatever we please) and obedience to God’s commands in His Word in order to achieve the joy and peace that is ours when we are in true union with Christ. This is a full-length book that (at least for me) takes time to read it thoroughly in order to understand and comprehend and apply the truths of Scripture, but it is well worth every minute spent in doing so. I highly recommend Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God by Rankin Wilbourne.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Experiencing God through His Names by Sheryl Giesbrecht

About the Book

Experiencing God Through His Names (Bold Vision Books, June 2016)

What’s in a name?

Names are more than groups of letters that represent a person or identify objects. Names are powerful. A person’s character and destiny can be influenced by his or her name. God’s attributes and personality support His unique and distinct names. If we comprehend the meanings of His titles, we can know God more intimately. In Experiencing God Through His Names, Sheryl Giesbrecht walks with you on an exciting journey to discover and absorb the truth about God’s character. In the next 31 days, God wants you to get to know Him. Are you ready?

Learn more and purchase a copy.

 About the Author

Sheryl Giesbrecht has written three books, hundreds of articles, blogs, and columns. A nationally syndicated radio host, Sheryl is a sought after inspirational speaker who facilitates leadership training for thousands internationally.

Margie’s Comments:
It has been over 20 years ago now when my mom challenged me to begin a study on the names of God. I didn’t know then it would become a lifelong study, but I’m always grateful for another book that brings another layer to that study. Sheryl Geisbrecht’s book Experiencing God through His Names is a good one to add to my list. I’ve enjoyed reading this small devotional book. Sheryl takes thirty-one names for God and writes a short devotional for each one. Including her own personal experiences helps to add verisimilitude to each name and gives the reader a modern context for each ancient yet eternal name. If you’ve never done a study on the names of God, this would be a good place to start.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Jesus and the Beanstalk by Lori Stanley Roeleveld

About the Book:
Jesus and the Beanstalk: Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life (Abingdon Press, September 2016)

What if a fairy tale and ten Bible verses could free you to live an effective, fruitful life in Christ?
We live in unsettling, challenging times. Everywhere we look, we see giant problems: giant obstacles to sharing faith, giant barriers to peaceful lives, giant strongholds of fear. But what if you knew eight small secrets to unlocking a strength big enough to overcome whatever obstacle life may bring?

Using allegory and a bit of humor, Jesus and the Beanstalk explores a passage in 2 Peter 1 to uncover eight truths that will help you unleash a larger-than-life faith:

—Affection for others

In this creative, refreshing perspective on spiritual growth, you will discover an unyielding strength when you tap the power of a God who is stronger than any beanstalk and bigger than your biggest giants.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

About the Author:

Lori Stanley Roeleveld is the author of "Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus)" and "Red Pen Redemption." Her blog,, was voted Top 100 Christian Blogs by and has enjoyed over 1.5 million views. Lori lives in Hope Valley, RI.


Margie’s Comments: 
When I was first contacted about doing a review for Jesus and the Beanstalk, I was a little skeptical. But as soon as I started reading the book, I was once again reminded that Jesus spoke in parables much of the time, causing much the same skeptical (at least) reaction from the religious leaders of His day. So, rebuked and challenged, I changed my attitude and as I continued to read I appreciated the fresh approach to a well-loved passage in 2 Peter 1.

We all face giants who are against our desires to know Christ better and to live as Christ would have us live and to walk out Christlikeness before and increasingly unbelieving world. Lori Roeleveld has divided this Bible study into three parts: the first part makes the correlation between Christlike living and “Jack and the Beanstalk”; the second part explores how to make a difference in our increasing spiritually dark culture; and the final part takes us into an in-depth six-day study on each of the eight virtues Peter encourages us to actively pursue and incorporate into our daily lives.

As I read the book, I was challenged over and over to actively pursue Christlikeness in every area of life. I not only highly recommend Jesus and the Beanstalk to all my readers, I am praying about using this book as a small-group Bible study with the women at my church. In fact, I’m already using portions of it in my current study on the promises of God. Many thanks to the author for the courage to write the book and to Abingdon Press for publishing it and sending me a copy of the book in exchange for review.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Starving Hearts by Janine Mendenhall

About the Book:
Starving Hearts (Heritage Beacon Fiction, May 2016)

Since her assault, Miss Annette Chetwynd has been plagued by nightmares and worries about an arranged marriage.

She yearns to find her anonymous rescuer. Unfortunately, her health and intellect prevent it. Both repel suitors and cause Annette to doubt God’s existence, at least until He answers her prayers in an unusual way. . . .

Mr. Peter Adsley is joining the clergy, and he desires a godly wife by his side. After a failed attempt to obtain one, he engages in a clandestine meeting with the bewitching young woman who keeps crossing his path. But she is so unsettling.

Destined for disappointments, Peter and Annette both endure disgraceful situations. Will Peter’s faith sustain him through overwhelming setbacks? Can Annette overcome her doubts? Or will their starving hearts yield to the machinations of a mad man?

Learn more and purchase a copy.

About the Author:
Janine Mendenhall teaches teens English, of all things! Sometimes she sleeps, but most nights she reads, writes, or watches movies like Pride and Prejudice and claims she’s researching her next book. “Splickety Love” and “Splickety Prime” have published her flash fiction. She and her husband, Tom, live in North Carolina where they and their two golden retrievers help gratify the needs of their five children and two cats.

Margie’s Comments:
Janine Mendenhall is a new author to me, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from Starving Hearts. But I was pleasantly surprised by a fresh approach to a pre-Regency romance—a time period I’m interested in and have done a certain amount of research into. The story is captivating, and the characters are real and appropriate to carry the story for the most part. If I have any criticism is that no one but the main characters seems to see people as they truly are. Some of the villainy seems a little over the top. For example, while Peter’s brother’s demise adds a twist that Peter doesn’t want to deal with, it also seems inevitable. Overall, however, Starving Hearts is a pleasurable and satisfying read.

Janine Mendenhall’s ‘Starving Hearts’ Prize Pack Giveaway

Will Annette's search for love and acceptance replace the loss and hurt in her heart? Find out in Janine Mendenhall's book one, Starving Hearts, of the Triangular Trade Trilogy. Since her assault, Miss Annette Chetwynd has been plagued by nightmares and worries about an arranged marriage. But she yearns to find her anonymous rescuer. Unfortunately, her health and intellect prevent it. Both repel suitors and cause Annette to doubt God’s existence, at least until He answers her prayers in an unusual way. . . .

Join in the search for love and acceptance with Janine and Starving Hearts by entering to win the Delightful Heart Gift Pack Giveaway.

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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 September 12. The winner will be announced September 13 on Janine's blog.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Dana Mentink's 'Fetching Sweetness' prize pack giveaway

A recipe for love and loss, merriment and mayhem, fun and faith in the backwoods of the Pacific Northwest can only be found in Fetching Sweetness by Dana Mentink. It should have been so simple for Stephanie Pink: Retrieve a reclusive author's valuable new manuscript and be promoted to a full-fledged literary agent. But when the author's canine companion, Sweetness, makes a break for it and Stephanie has to track Sweetness down, she meets Rhett Hastings. They’re in for a surprising string of adventures and misadventures.

Celebrate the release of Fetching Sweetness with Dana by entering to win the Sweetness Unleashed Prize 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 24. The winner will be announced August 25 on Dana's blog.

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Fetching Sweetness by Dana Mentink

About the Book:  
Fetching Sweetness (Harvest House, July 2016)

Standing between Stephanie and her dream is one hundred pounds of lovable trouble.

It should have been so simple for Stephanie Pink: Meet up with Agnes Wharton in a small town in California, retrieve the reclusive author’s valuable new manuscript, and be promoted to a full-fledged literary agent.

But Agnes’s canine companion, Sweetness, decides to make a break for it before Stephanie can claim her prize. Until Agnes has Sweetness safely back at home in Eagle Cliff, Washington, Stephanie will never set eyes on the manuscript she needs to make her dreams come true.

When Stephanie tracks the runaway mutt to a campground, she meets Rhett Hastings—a man also on the run from a different life and a costly mistake. Rhett agrees to help Stephanie search for the missing dog . . . thus launching a surprising string of adventures and misadventures.

Once Sweetness gets added to the mix, it’s a recipe for love and loss, merriment and mayhem, fun and faith in the backwoods of the Pacific Northwest.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

About the Author: Dana Mentink lives in California, where the weather is golden and the cheese is divine. Dana is an American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year finalist for romantic suspense and an award winner in the Pacific Northwest Writers Literary Contest. Her suspense novel, Betrayal in the Badlands, earned a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award. Besides writing, she busies herself teaching third and fourth grade. Mostly, she loves to be home with her husband, two daughters, a dog with social anxiety problems, a chubby box turtle, and a feisty parakeet.

Margie’s Comments:  I had a hard time putting down this book. And that’s not a comment I make about a book very often. I do like Dana’s books, so I was glad when I received her latest, Fetching Sweetness, from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I hadn’t read one of her romances, though, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I got was a good, solidly written story, with plenty of fun and adventure—like the author’s romantic suspense and mystery books. The characters are well developed, from the very first sentence (“Stephanie regretted driving over the wedding cake.”) to the last. And the theme of discovering God’s perfect plan from Jeremiah 29:11 really caught my attention since I’m at a crossroads right now. I highly recommend this book.

Monday, August 8, 2016

‘A Beauty Refined’ by Tracie Peterson

About the book:
A Beauty Refined (Bethany House, July 2016)

What does it take to reveal the true beauty of a hidden gem?

Phoebe Von Bergen, the daughter of a German count, is excited to visit America for the first time while her father purchases sapphires in Helena, Montana. Little does she know, however, that her father’s intentions—both for her and the gemstones—are not what she thinks.

Ian Harper, a lapidary working in Helena, finds the dignified young woman staying at the Broadwater Hotel more than a little intriguing. Yet the more he gets to know her, the more he realizes that her family story is based on a lie—a lie she has no knowledge of. And Ian believes he knows the only path that will lead her to freedom.

Meeting Ian has changed everything for Phoebe, and she begins to consider staying in America, regardless of her father’s plans. But she may not be prepared for the unexpected danger that results when her family’s deception begins to unravel.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

About the Author:

Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than one hundred books. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana.

Margie's Comments: It has been a while since I’ve read a Tracie Peterson book, and oh what a refreshing read it was! A Beauty Refined has all the qualities of good Christian historical fiction I’ve come to expect from Tracie: good characters, great setting, interesting premise, and good clean romance. Watching Phoebe and Ian’s story unfold in and around the sapphire mines of Montana early in the last century was a joy as I relaxed with A Beauty Refined over the weekend. This is definitely a book worth reading.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Kelli Stuart’s ‘Like a River from Its Course’ Blog Tour and Kindle Prize Pack

My review is coming this weekend!

In the meantime get in on this great giveaway!

Travel back in time in Kelli Stuart's new novel, Like a River from Its Course, as the city of Kiev is bombed in Hitler's blitzkrieg across the Soviet Union. This sweeping historical saga takes the reader on a captivating journey into the little-known history of Ukraine's tragedies through the eyes of four compelling characters who experience the same story from different perspectives. Based on true stories gathered from fifteen years of research and interviews with Ukrainian World War II survivors, Like a River From Its Course is a story of love, war, heartache, forgiveness, and redemption.

Celebrate the release of Like a River from Its Course with Kelli by entering to win a Kindle Fire Prize 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 July 18th. The winner will be announced July 19th on Kelli's blog.

like a river - enterbanner

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Seed by Erik Guzman

About the Book:
The Seed (New Growth Press, May 2016)

Young Madeline and Roark are desperately running from the shadow that destroyed their home and is threatening their lives.

One day, they encounter Tatus, an older man who has sworn to avenge the death of his family at the hands of the shadow, and they form an alliance with him. Tatus promises that he can keep them safe from the shadow if they will help him build a fortress. So they build.

But as fortress-building consumes their lives, Madeline and Roark are increasingly filled with anger and fear, and an unseen evil threatens to ultimately destroy them. When they finally face the shadow, he presents them with an unthinkable offer that will reveal shocking secrets of the forgotten past, the unseen present, and the unimaginable future.

We’ve all had the feeling that something’s not quite right with our lives. It’s bigger than any specific failure or disappointment. It’s bigger than any person. No matter what you achieve or how much you drink or sleep, you can’t shake it. It haunts you-night and day-and propels you to do something. So you build. You build and build the maze that is your exhausting life. Sound vaguely familiar?

The Seed: A True Myth is a journey into the personal labyrinths we create to protect ourselves and those we love from the pain of living in a broken world. Guzman’s “true myth” takes the reader on an unforgettable journey that is, in essence, the grand narrative of God’s redemptive work in the world. This page-turning Christian fantasy tale is packed with mystery and drama, and readers will feel the weight and power of redemption as they journey alongside Guzman’s characters in their epic battle. The Seed deftly communicates the heart of Trinitarian theology through story—without using theological language or Christian terms—and reinforces biblical themes such as God’s character and man’s true identity and calling.


About the Author:
Erik Guzman is Vice President of Communications and Executive Producer at Key Life Network. He’s the cohost of the nationally syndicated talk show Steve Brown, Etc. and announcer for "Key Life." His writing has been featured in Key Life's magazine and online at,, Burnside Writers Collective, and Sojourners ( He is also a Lay Eucharistic Minister, a drummer, and a 5th degree black belt in Aikido. Erik, his wife, and three children live near Orlando, Florida.

Margie’s Comments:
The Seed is an interesting book on several levels, though I found it somewhat difficult reading. I’m not sure why. I don’t normally mind reading allegorical or mythical books. In fact I’m in the minority when it comes to other writer/editor friends in that I like speculative/fantasy/allegorical fiction.

But this was hard for me to get into. Maybe because it started out rather dark. But I kind of expected that, knowing the basic subject matter. Maybe because the timeline jumped about rather than in a straight line. But even that I could handle once I understood why the author chose to write it that way.

The characters were okay, though I had trouble getting into them at first as well. Again I think that might have been the timeline-jumping thing. Also the lack of names and then name changes for each of the characters was a little tricky to keep up with.

But in the end, I did like the book. However, I think you’ve really got to enjoy this genre if you’re going to read this book. And it does help to have a good grasp of allegory and allegorical features and the theology behind the story. So not a highly recommended book, but not a “don’t ever read this book,” either.