Monday, August 27, 2012

Three Books on Prayer

Round, Carol. Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press: 2012. ISBN: 978-1104497-3661-3 (sc) ISBN: 978-1-4497-3662-0 (e)

A Compilation of Experience and Encouragement

Protestant theologians, both “mainline” and “evangelical,” are currently exploring many of the ancient spiritual disciplines that never entirely disappeared in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions. Three among these Christian disciplines are praying, reading and journaling.  These Christian spiritual practices are found as far back as the New Testament where the gospel writers, at the encouragement of others, have given us the words and prayers of Jesus now in written form.

Carol Round discovered prayer journaling, as she focused on the pain and confusion of an empty nest and a recent divorce. As the mornings passed, she found healing, growth, and potential in seeking deeper intimacy with God. She draws not only on her own experience, but also on the experiences of other women and saints of the past and present.

Based on those experiences, Round encourages and challenges her readers to record their spiritual journey in a daily prayer journal over a forty-day period. She reminds them: “Prayer is not complicated. We make it that way.”  Praying and journaling are not about word choice, but about being honest with God, inviting Him to be present and asking Him “What now? What lesson would You have me learn?” What message should I carry away to share with others?

Lessons learned over ten years of daily practice are shared in this book. There are also reminders such as “It is not about the tools [the pen or book used]. It is about the journey.” “Don’t worry about His showing up. He will.”  Suggestions are included like use a concordance to find scriptures relevant to your situation, prayerfully read the scripture and ask God how He can apply it in your life.

Journaling with Jesus invites the reader to come as they are and to raise the two questions Paul asked on the road to Damascus in Acts 9: “Who are You, Lord?” “What should I do, Lord?” There is a list of books on prayer journaling and a list of websites, with a proviso that websites and the internet are fluid; however, only one of sixteen URLs led nowhere. The scope of the book will be useful to the new or prospective prayer, spiritual, or Bible-study journalist, and affirming to those who are already practicing the disciplines.

Rather than offering pages of printed scripture and written prayers, this book concentrates on spiritual disciplines themselves. What is prayer? Why will journaling about scripture help to ease my pain? What do I need to get started? How do I talk to God? How do I know if he is listening? How do I prepare to meet God? The author’s style and manner invite and let the reader look over the writer’s shoulder with impunity and promise, with commitment and covenant, with action and accountability.

There is a companion workbook for Journaling with Jesus coming out in a few weeks called The 40-Day Challenge. It is free as a .pdf file until September 6 at her blog: www.carolaround.comRound also has two books compiled from her faith-based columns syndicated in twelve Oklahoma newspapers and one online publication,  She also has two other books:
A Matter of Faith (2005) and Faith Matters (2009), both published by Buoy Up Press.

Martin, Christine Brooks. Pray What God Says Kearney NE:  Morris Publishing, ©2010. available through

Effective Scriptural Prayer

The intent of the guide is to reintroduce just one of many keys to effective prayer, using scripture to garner the words of God to access divine response and a greater relationship with God the Father, through His Son Jesus Christ, with the enabling assistance of the Holy Spirit.

As we experience various emotions throughout our life experiences there is a “cry” or sound from our spirit that will command or demand a response from something or someone greater than ourselves. “The cry of every man’s heart is for provision, protection, health and well-being. We require direction, revelation, truth, justice and more.” That heart cry can take many forms as they are found throughout scripture; the result of the divine response from God is peace and joy.

Martin follows with the lies of Satan we hear most often, and allows the scripture to speak the truth. “God has made a provision for His creation. It is the words of His holy scriptures. When we choose to read, hear, learn and speak the Word of God it is able to save us, deliver us, and protect us from lies and liars.” She then explores the meanings of “truth” as it is found in the Word of God. Whether we choose to embrace lies or truth, “what we take to heart rules and governs our emotions and affections.”

Communion and union with God through praying His word allows us to get God’s attention and “invites Him to intervene in the affairs of the earth and your life.” “Prayer facilitates the manifestation of God’s will and purpose.” Prayer establishes HOPE: Hearing God through His word, prayer and your experiences. Obedience to His word and the pastor He has designated to shepherd over you. God expects you to pray without ceasing and to expect His response. You will receive HOPE: God’s hearing ear, open access to His presence, peace while you wait for His response to your prayers, and eternal results. She also provides such mnemonics for TRUST.  Praying God’s word allows Him to transform, prepare, build and establish your spirit in His presence.

Praying God’s word can take the form of intercession or meditation. The last chapters of the book provide topical scriptures for preparing oneself to be transformed and consecrated so you can achieve spiritual growth and strength to trust and forgive, and exhibit wisdom and the fruits of the Spirit in your life. There are also scriptures for those things that most affect our personal spiritual lives: family, finances, career, health, and emotions. She also provides scriptures for our relationship through God that affects church growth, nations, leaders and missions. What she calls a glossary contains no definitions, but provides an alphabetical topical index with page numbers

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pirolozzi, Jayna. (2009). The Resolution of Red Tears.

Daniel “Red Tears” Patterson begins this story as an undersheriff in Stake Town, Arizona. The sheriff and the other men who work in the sheriff’s office alongside Patterson are white supremacists. A man of Navajo blood, Patterson works daily beside the men he is certain killed his wife. He refuses to be intimidated until he is nearly beaten to death and his daughter is threatened.

When he is reassigned to the nearby Navajo reservation where he grew up, he leaves Stake Town, primarily to protect his daughter Jessica and the sheriff’s son Tommy who loves her. He returns to his home to face an angry brother, and a grandfather who believes Red Tears is destined to stand before the white fathers to receive their reconciliation for the First Nation People.  Two reasons he left the reservation in the first place. 

But once there, helping his friend Ben investigate a missing clansman, Daniel discovers the sheriff’s plot to raise an Aryan army and to enslave the Navajo men. All this eventually leads Patterson to stand before the Senate of the United States seeking reconciliation between the United State Government and the First Nation People.

Pirolozzi, given a heart for the First Nation People by The Great Creator, worked with Senator Sam Brownback and the people in his office when she was completing research for this project. In the epilogue she reports that Brownback presents a resolution for apology and reconciliation that was passed by the 111th Congress in 2009, after it had been politely sidelined each year since 2005.  

In 2010 Brownback ran for and was elected as governor of Kansas after he left the United States Senate. Does such a resolution as this exists, or is this, too,  fiction. If so, surely the reporters who cover national news would have announced such a momentous occasion.

However, buried deep in a billion dollar defense appropriation bill, President Obama did quietly sign into law an apology to Native Americans. After years of seeking for bipartisan wording, the resolution states “The United States, acting through Congress … apologizes on behalf of the people of the United States to all Native Peoples for the many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted on Native Peoples by citizens of the United States.” The focus is on reconciliation rather than compensation, an apology extended to another nation living on the same land. An old, yet contemporary social, economic, and political issue, the buried apology is not even the “formal apology by the President” called for in the resolution. Probably not enough, and probably too late; it is too bad that Red Tears is a fictional character in a fictional world where "one apology can change the course of a nation."

A disabled veteran, Pirolozzi attended Bethany College and Lee University. She is a member of the John 3:16 Marketing Group. The Resolution of Red Tears was released on January 11, 2011. 
Her next book For God and Country will be published soon by Createspace.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Jenkins, Jerry B. The Breakthrough: A Precinct 11 Novel. Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. September 2012.

Dr. Jerry Jenkins is the author of more than 175 books. He has been a journalist, a writer, and an editor. Jenkins is currently encouraging and training new writers through his Christian Writer’s Guild. His books can be found regularly on the New York Times Best Sellers List.

The Breakthrough is the third Precinct 11 Novel, preceded by The Brotherhood and The Betrayal. Although promoted as the third in a trilogy, Jenkins leaves the police procedural open to follow on novels.

Boone Drake is the youngest bureau chief in the history of the Chicago Police Department. Jack Keller, Boone’s first partner, then his mentor and his boss, sponsors Drakes promotion to the head of the newly formed Major Case Squad. Following the first two novels in which like the Old Testament Job, Boone has lost everything: his wife, his son, his home, and his faith.

Now he has a new wife, Haeley, a new son, a new home, a renewed faith, and an increased passion to get gangs off the streets. Haeley won a seven figure settlement from the City of Chicago for false arrest late in their courtship and paid early in their marriage. The money was used to buy a comfortable house in a nice neighborhood, to ensure college educations for Max, who has been officially adopted by Boone, and any future siblings, and to gift Boone with the car of his dreams, with the balance given to the two churches that are important in their lives. Yet Boone is somehow waiting for the other shoe to drop.

When disaster strikes, it seems that Boone is destined to lose everything again, as tragedy threatens those closest to him. Haeley needs him desperately. Max is kidnapped, and all clues lead to a human trafficking ring from the dark and infamous Hutong district in Beijing. The plot is predictable but deftly written, keeping the pages turning. The suspense is created, not by twists and turns of plot, but by the complexity of character development.

Jenkins’s father is a police chief, and he has two brothers who are police officers. Cooperation among police departments and forces from the other squads housed at the 11th Precinct and across state and national jurisdictions is emphasized throughout the novel. Equally emphasized is the true-to-life crises of faith shaped by circumstance and cultivated through the relationships of characters that are believably flawed but redeemable.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Previously posted May21, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

Walking with God in the Midst of Pain

These three books are written by authors who not only understand but have experienced raw pain and the soothing balm that only God can provide. The suffering for each is different, but the answering still, small voice of God that whispers His love and compassion into the hardest places is found by each and expressed in their own wondrously powerful way.

Perez, Venus Angelica. © 2012 Mentality Listens: Where Art Screams 2nd ed.
LCCN 2012903846
ISBN-13 978-1470089979
ISBN-10 1470089971

This book is a collection of poems Perez wrote as she was “introduced to pain, was married to pain, divorced pain, and remarried a few years later.” Perez reminds us, “It is not easy to live with pain, but it is possible.”

Perez shares her inmost heart.  Her pain-filled cries go out to a God she knows is there even when He seems not to be.  Even when she finds herself drawn back in to relationships and feelings that move her away from a place of safety, she remembers the God who has sealed her to himself. Perez has selected poems that take the reader through betrayal, sorrow and a marvelous comfort as she is pulled from and through what most troubles the soul. In her words are not only brutality and evil, but love and forgiveness.

Perez is a former marine and a disabled veteran. She lives in, through and beyond her chronic pain, in ways that will take you to your knees.

Shelley Hitz. (August 1, 2012) Finding Hope in the Midst of Tragedy
Body and Soul Publishing 

Following her father’s brutal beating resulting in traumatic brain injury and a coma, Hitz began a journal to deal with her feelings. As God worked through her father’s slow but steady improvement, Hitz encouraged her family and their friends by sharing her diary through a blog. Through her battle with rage and despair and release, God worked an act of grace in her heart.

Finding Hope, coming from her blog, becomes an opportunity for anyone struggling with the unfairness, the pain, the inability to cope and understand. She shares not only her experiences but opportunities for the reader to create their own journal, their own freedom to talk honestly with God.

Elizabeth L. Chalker

Hanging on By the Scratch Marks My Nails Left Behind (Raw Faith)

Xulon Press ©2012


Elizabeth Chalker suffers from late stage lyme disease, probably fatal, offering nothing but a slow, agonizing death. Lyme disease is complicated and compounded by other serious health issues that have left her bedridden and mostly alone. In this roaring furnace where she experiences daily frustration, unbearable pain, and, like Job, unjustifiable suffering, she has found the way to walk with unbound faith and trust in God.  

In her book, I was at first witness, but soon became her companion, experiencing through my own chronic pain such wonder at her passionate love and unquenchable thirst for God. I have lived eighteen years with chronic pain. At times, her cries to God for deliverance were so intense I had to stop reading.

The book had somehow become not only Chalker’s story, but mine, as well. I had to stand in awe like King Nebuchadnezzar, “It is my privilege to report to you the gracious miracles that the High God has done for me. His miracles are staggering, his wonders are surprising, His kingdom lasts and lasts, his sovereign rule goes on forever.” *

If you are hurting, crying out in anger or fear, or if you know someone who seems to be weighed down with their hurts and their needs, Hanging on by the Scratch Marks My Nails Left Behind has a place on your shelf beside C. S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain and Philip Yancey’s Where Is God When It Hurts? It is a terrible, dark place that can only be lit by God's grace in all the ways it comes.

*Daniel 4:2-3 MSG - A Dream of a Chopped-Down Tree - King - Bible ... (n.d.). retrieved from (8/9/2012)