Friday, April 30, 2010

Welcome my friend Jill Elizabeth Nelson

I'm happy today to feature Jill's latest release! Welcome, friend.

Calculated Revenge by Jill Elizabeth Nelson
Steeple Hill Romantic Suspense(c) 2010


It’s been eighteen years since Laney Thompson’s sister was abducted and killed, but the pain Laney feels has never faded. And now the murderer is back, taunting Laney with mementos of her sister and threatening Laney’s young daughter. School principal Noah Ryder is her best hope for protecting her daughter—if she can convince the former investigator to take the case. As the threats accelerate, a string of clues leads Laney to uncover old secrets. Unless Noah steps in with his expertise, how can she piece together the puzzle before her child—like her sister—is lost to a killer’s revenge?

I just finished your book. I love Christian Suspense books and this one is the best one I have read in a while. I never figured out the solution until it was evident to all. Wonderful suspense weaving throughout the book. Thanks, I will look for more books by you. I could not put it down once I got started.
Excellent, excellent book! It caught my attention from the first page and was so hard to put down! Keep on sharing God's love and gospel thru your writing - it is important to those who need encouragement as well as need to know our precious Savior!


Jill Elizabeth Nelson is an award-winning author of mystery and suspense. She writes what she likes to read—tales of adventure seasoned with romance, humor, and faith, earning her the tagline: Endless Adventure, Timeless Truth. Jill speaks at conferences, writer’s groups, library associations, and civic and church groups. She and her husband live in rural Minnesota where they raised four children and are currently enjoying their first grandchild.

Visit Jill Elizabeth Nelson’s website at for excerpts, book giveaways, and contests.

You can order this book directly from your local bookstore, retail stores such as Walmart, or online here:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Friend Went To Court

A friend of ours from church is homeless. He lives in a tent village on a stripe of wooded, public land.

He's had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, and even though his mom and three brothers live here in town, my friend has burned the bridges of help with them.

But three years ago when we were holding a house church in a rough area of down town, my friend showed up looking for a free meal. "I came because I was hungry."

Little did he know his physical hunger would ultimately feed his spiritual hunger. He's drug and alcohol free and as of this coming Saturday, smoke free since January 1st.

When my friend became homeless, it was because he chose to pal around with his ex who was an alcoholic and keen abuser of kindness. My friend gave up his living situation to take care of her.

She's gone now and my friend finds himself as a light to a group of people who might not ever walk through the doors of church.

My friend works piece meal carpentry work. I'm not sure why he can't find or hold a job. But getting to know him is a story of discovery.

At first, I was bothered he slept in a tent in the woods. Why couldn't we find him a place to live? Several others in our congregation opened their homes to him on the cold nights this winter, but he claimed to be snug as a bug in his tent and sleeping bag. He took over fire pit duty and kept the camp stocked in ready-to-use firewood.

Praying and meditating on this one day, I felt the Lord tug my heart. "He's fine." What is it Paul told us? "With food and clothing, these I'll be content." My friend has both. No, his life is not the life you and I would choose, but it's the life he's chosen. For now.

Today he found himself in court. A lady in the camp -- long story -- filed a restraining order against him. I met him there so he'd have a friend by his side. As predicted, the accuser didn't show up, but my friend had his day in court. The judge dismissed the complaint without prejudice.

While sitting and waiting for him to go in to the judge, I discovered more about my friend's background and history. He's intelligent, clean, kind, tender hearted. Why does he live in a tent?

Learning about his family, even at a surface level, gave me something to grab onto for prayer. Healing and restoration of trust is needed. God can do this! I'm excited for my friend. God has moved and worked in his life, even saved him from a deadly accident thirty years ago, and I'm sure God has more for him in the future.

This time of living in a tent has made my friend take stock of his life. He knows what is important to him. He finds himself being a minister of the Gospel.

Had we intervened and found him a proper-to-us dwelling place, my friend would've learned "man" meets his need, not God. He'd not have realized it was his choices that got him there. He'd not have learned we love and support him anyway!

My friend will not always be homeless. True to God's character, he'll never be hungry, thirsty or forsaken. God's plans are for my friend's welfare. I can't wait to see where he is a year from now.

See, my friend does have a day in court. The day when he stands before the great white judgment seat and give an account for his life. This life is an internship compared to what is to come. My friend's years of sleeping in a tent are nothing if is soul is not redeemed by Jesus. In Him, my friend has a home. Now and forever.

What about you? What situation in your life or of your friends and family seems to be desperate and hopeless but yet God is moving and working? Don't intervene unless you know God is leading. Lean on Him. See what God can and will do!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Building a Culture of Prayer Part 4

Here's where building a culture of prayer gets sticky. Controversial. Theological break down.

We can all agree on the power, purpose and need of prayer. It is a cornerstone of our faith.
Maintaining consistent prayer is difficult. Why? Because it's a labor. Jesus said in Matthew 11:12, "The kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent take it by force."
What kind of violence is the peaceful Jesus advocating? Violence against our flesh. Violence against sin, lies and deception of the enemy. Violence against those who lead us astray.
Prayer and fasting are God's violent measures against the way and will of the world.
And we must be violent about taking our time, thoughts, emotions and will captive to prayer and fasting. To the truth of the Word.
Even so, why? How can a church or city maintain a culture of prayer? Vision. We must have a vision of why and how and for what we are praying day in and day out without seeing results or answers.
The vision comes from two paradigms. The love of Jesus for the church and individual believer as detailed in Song of Solomon. And a correct End of the Age view. Understanding Revelation and the 150 chapters in the Word that talk about Jesus return to the earth for His Bride.
See, I told you it was touchy. You cannot maintain a culture of prayer if you do not know, understand and somewhere along the line encounter the love of Jesus. The kind He talks about in Song of Solomon 4:9. If hearing "you're His favorite one" makes you uncomfortable, then you're falling short of His love and His favor and your place before Him.
How intimate and close can we be with someone we believes looks at us with sadness, disgust or anger? He's not the mad, sad God waiting to punish you. Yet so many of us carry that view. Hard to pray to a God like that.
And how can we maintain a prayer culture if we believe we have no purpose and plan to partner with Jesus for His triumphant return to earth? We do. We are not "out of here" before it all goes down. You have to read all the 150 end time chapters to get some kind of picture.
Yes, Jesus said "we can't know the day or the hour" but we CAN know the season. Too many of us cling to that one verse about "not knowing" and burying our head in the sand. There are also plenty of verses where Jesus admonishes us to be like the sons of Issachar and recognize the times and seasons.
Here's one. Matthew 24 Jesus is telling us how to recognize the end of the age. "Wars and rumors of war. Earthquakes." We've had what, seven or eight earthquakes and a major volcanic eruption this year? Wars and rumors of war. Yep.
We are called to partner with Jesus for His kingdom to come on earth at it is in heaven. Beloved, He's coming here. We're not going "there." He's coming to establish His kingdom. The one He bought and paid for on the Cross.
He's only coming "a second time" once. And that's to judge the quick and the dead, to judge the nations and their kings.
If you think Christianity isn't about politics, read Isaiah. Jesus is King! That's political.
Revelation 22:17 says, "The Spirit and the Bride say come, Lord Jesus." That's our job. To pray with the Spirit, "Lord come."
Are are His ground troops, interceding for the earth like Noah, like Moses, like Joseph for God to come and be with us in our darkest hour.
The end of the age will be brutal and dark.God's people praying, having a culture of prayer, rooted and ground in that amazing love we read about in Song of Solomon, will keep the earth from imploding until He comes at the prescribed time.
Ephesians 3 tells us to pray to be in the love of Jesus which "surpasses" knowledge.
Knowing who you are and where you're going is key to life. It is double key to maintaining and fueling a culture of prayer both in our hearts and in our churches.
Do some reading and researching, studying, get a good study on Song of Solomon and the end times. I recommend resources from IHOP-KC.
Check out what we're doing in my community at MyHOP.
Be blessed!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Building a Culture of Prayer Part 3

These book titles sound familiar, right?

"A Purpose Driven Life." "Your Best Life Now." "Become A Better You." "Eat, Pray, Love," which isn't much abour prayer as one might think.

"The Shack."

We are quick in our culture to run to gimmicks, to jump on the band wagon of, "Quick solution. Easy answer. Short cuts galore."

Remember the "Prayer of Jabez" book? How about "Servant Evangelism" or "Seeker Friendly" which boiled down to "shh, don't talk about Jesus and sin on Sunday morning. It makes people uncomfortable."

Good. If we love them, we preach Jesus, the Cross and the corruption of sin.

Jesus, the leader and authority on social justice said this, "Preach the Gospel to the poor."

If we don't tell them the truth, who will? What good does it do to feed the poor while they dying and going to judgment without a Redeemer.

I've not read any of the books I listed. Why? Because I'm living my best life now. I have to admit, that title cracks me up. It sounds like all the "cool" titles were taken so they pulled a Tony Robbins.

I have Someone greater living in me (Col 1:27) who teaches me about my best life. Who gives me a purpose driven life. The Holy Spirit. He knows me better than I know myself. He teaches me how to live the BEST life.

I can read all the how to books and still end up in the same place. What I want and need is to be transformed into the image of Christ.

There is no short cut. No secret prayer. No quick solution. Heart and soul change comes from time, diligence and spending time with Jesus.

You want to have a purpose driven life? Start a weekly prayer meeting at your home or church. Invite people to come. Spend an hour or two worshipping -- play a CD -- and asking God for His Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. Ask Him to use you, to give you purpose.

We want change. We want God. But we don't want to put our shoulder to the wheel and do what it takes to encounter Him.

Most churches don't have weekly corporate prayer meetings. If they do, they are poorly attended. We've lost the vision of prayer. We don't know how to pray.

Back in 2000, Hubby and I visited the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. We'd both been passionate about prayer for years, but when we saw what God was doing in the arena of prayer and the Word intertwined with Worship, our hearts were engaged.

We came home and tried to institute the model in our youth meeting and worship times. Ooo, there was resistance. We discovered people don't like to be told how to worship. Or how to pray.

But we persisted. We developed guidelines. We taught on how to pray using the Word and interacting with a worship team.

Now, it's easy for our church members to participate. The prayer meetings are organized and focused. There are not long minutes of silence while no one knows what or how to pray. Big corporate prayer meetings are well attended.

The last Friday of the month, fifteen to twenty people squeeze into our living room for an evening of soaking in worship and prayer.

We are building a culture of prayer.

What if we started running to prayer meetings the way we run to the book store for the latest "How to be a great Christian book?" What if we learned how to encounter God in prayer instead of enduring an hour of unfocused, weak prayer. What if we used His Word as a guide for our prayers instead of reading a daily devotional.

Look, I'm not against those type of books! I know they've changed lives. But we need to mature in the arena of prayer. We are still drinking milk. Time for some meat.

We need change that endures. We need to get God's heart on what He's doing in the earth today. This is our watch. We need to stand on the wall.

That is the purpose of prayer. To bring God's will from heaven to earth. We are not pawns in His game. We are working with Him for His purpose. How can He execute it if we are not waiting, listening, praying, asking for Him to use us.

We are bored with prayer because we don't know how to pray, why to pray or if it really changes the world around us.

If it really changes "me."

Well, it does. In Luke 18 Jesus tells us to "pray at all times and not lose heart."

Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians to "pray without ceasing."

Jesus Himself, the God-Man, was devoted to prayer. The disciples watched and saw something in Him they did not possess and said to Him, "teach us to pray."

Peter and John, on their way to prayer, healed a crippled beggar.
On their way to prayer!

It is on our way to prayer, out of a contemplative, prayerful heart, God will do miracles through us. He will changes us. Set us on our purpose driven path and give us our best life now. And in the age to come.

We must become a praying church. We must.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

She Walks In Beauty by Siri Mitchell

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

She Walks in Beauty
Bethany House (April 2010)

Siri Mitchell


Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including in Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.

But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a sermon and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.

Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.


For a young society woman seeking a favorable marriage, so much depends on her social season debut. Clara Carter has been given one goal: secure the affections of the city's most eligible bachelor.

Debuting means plenty of work--there are corsets to be fitted, dances to master, manners to perfect. Her training soon pays off, however, as celebrity's spotlight turns Clara into a society-page darling.

Yet Clara soon wonders if this is the life she really wants. Especially when she learns her best friend has also set her sights on Franklin De Vries.

When a man appears who seems to love her simply for who she is and gossip backlash turns ugly, Clara realizes it's not just her marriage at stake--the future of her family depends on how she plays the game.

If you would like to read the first chapter of She Walks in Beauty, go HERE.

Rachel Here: I loved, loved, loved this book. Buy it, read it. Get lost in the story. Siri is an amazing writer.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Building A Culture of Prayer Part 2

I've been to my share of dry, boring prayer meetings. You? Not that God is boring or dry, but we are with our weary souls, amused minds, harried hearts.

After a long day of working, or dealing with kids, a prayer meeting is the last place we want to be. We'd rather turn on a sitcom, a sports event, catch up with American Idol and escape our own cares.

Sitting in a quiet prayer meeting only accents our trials, gets our minds churning, and if we're not stirred up, we've gone the other way, nodding off, jerking awake when our chin bobs to our chests.

But prayer is a corner stone of our faith.

Romans 12:12, Paul writes, "rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.

Jesus reminds us in Matthew 21:13 "And He said to them, "It is written, ' MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER'; but you are making it a ROBBERS' DEN."

Colossians 4:2 "Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;"

1 Thessalonians 5:17"..pray without ceasing;"

1 Timothy 2:8 "Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension."

1 Peter 4:7"The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer."

Jude 1:20"But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit."

Revelation 5:8"When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints."

Revelation 8:3 "Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne."

Far too often we lose sight and vision for prayer. We relegate it to the here and now ONLY. Prayer for the sick. Prayer for finances. Prayer for a co-worker or family member. All very important issues to keep before God in prayer, but we are also to partner with Him for His divine plan, for His return!

What will the world look like just before He returns? Prayer prepares us. Prayer impacts culture and governments.

We must fill the bowls of heaven with our prayers. God adds His own fire and incense and hurls our prayers back to earth!

We are partners with Jesus for His Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.
We are loved! We are not just pawns on a chess board for the Lord to ignore or manipulate, we are robed in the righteousness of Jesus and part of His plan.

Building a culture of prayer is about strategically joining together with your church family, with churches in the community, for the express purpose of praying for God's will to be done in our cities, churches, schools and nation.

We are not to be out of culture, but influencers of culture. We gain God's heart for education, for government, for the church, by being in a place of prayer.

There are over 22 "houses of prayer" in the state of Florida. Some meet daily, some weekly, some monthly, for the express purpose of partnering with Jesus for His Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.

We've learned lately how to weave worship, the Word and prayer so meetings are alive and people are engaged. It's hard to fall asleep in these meetings. And with a little bit of focus, it's difficult to remain churned-up from the cares of the day.

Prayer is purposeful. Focused. Those in attendance are encouraged to sing along with the spontaneous choruses of the worship team which often come from scripture or a prayer that was prayed.

The room engages and becomes about putting something in the bowl, about touching the heart of God.

A prayer leader makes sure prayers are direct an on target. Did you know we can actually administrate prayer! And not grieve the Holy Spirit. We can!

Praying folks are not allowed to share, or prophesy, preach or teach. Just pray. Preferably from Scripture.

A key component those is understanding our "rights" as the Bride of Christ. We are invited into the Beloved. We're clothes in the righteousness of Jesus. We are Kings and Priest. We can boldly enter in.

Hebrews 10:22 admonishes us to "draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith."

Pray is laboring with Jesus, the great Intercessor. It's not always easy or fun. Rarely convenient. But if we work together to build a culture of prayer, it will become a part of our spiritual DNA, a part of our tapestry, our lives and our children's lives.

If Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father making intercession, (Heb 7:25), how much more we should seek to be with Him there.

Prayer is not an option. It's not for "the other guy" and it's not for the "intercessors." It's for each and every believer.

Is there a corporate prayer meeting in your church with a specific prayer focus and leadership? If not, can you start one? Or partner with someone who has the burden?