Friday, June 24, 2016

A Different Look at the Book of Esther


We don’t know who wrote the book of Esther, but it is generally thought to be written by Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, who plays a major role in the story.
Esther becomes queen and saves the Jews from extermination. Though the name of God does not occur even once in this book, His providence is evident as well as His protection of His people. Esther is spelled in Hebrew with the same letters as “I will be hid”. Isn’t that cool? It seems like God loves anagrams, codes and puzzles. Me, too. God is hidden in the book of Esther.
The events of Esther fit chronologically between chapters 6 and 7 of Ezra and tell us that anti-Jewish hostility is intolerable to God. First there is the story of queen Vashti. Esther 1: 10-12, and 19 give the highlights:
 10 On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Karkas— 11 to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. 12 But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.
19 “Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she.
Look again at verse 11. The implication is that she was summoned to appear wearing nothing but the crown! Yes, sir, naked. No wonder she refused to come.

Monday, June 20, 2016

99 Cent Specials - 4 Books


Big News!

First: As a special thank-you to my loyal subscribers and blog readers I have 50 coupons for free audio books. Just let me know if you want one (first 50 responders) and I’ll send you the codes for Audible.

Second: From now until the Fourth of July, 2016, my most recent books will be marked down to $0.99 on Kindle. Go ahead and share this news with your friends and family. It’s a limited time offer. 
Here they are:

A Soul’s Kiss       http://bookShow.me/B00X6SSJJW
Out of Exodia     http://bookShow.me/B00VQBQP92
The Girl in the Time Machine http://bookShow.me/B01CADY2SK

That’s all for now. Have a great Fourth of July!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Do YOU Know What's in the Book of Nehemiah?


The 16th book of the Bible is Nehemiah, so named because the main character is Nehemiah (his name means “Jehovah comforts”). Fourteen years after Ezra came back to Jerusalem with a group of the returning exiles, Nehemiah brought another bunch back and restored the walls and the civil authority. Originally, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah were in one volume. Scholars are divided on the authorship, some say Ezra, some say Nehemiah, some say both. The majority believe Nehemiah was the author.

Read Chapter 1 and notice that it ends with Nehemiah stating that he was cupbearer to the king. This says a lot. He had a position of great trust. He would taste the king’s drink to guard against poisoning. Since anyone could be coerced by having his family threatened, the cupbearer was usually a eunuch.

Friday, June 10, 2016

What's in the Book of Ezra? Part 2


Continuing with the book of Ezra … last week we looked at the first three chapters and got to the part where the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid but there was a setback: opposition. In chapter 4 the enemies of Judah and Benjamin step in. Read 4: 1-5:

 1 When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the LORD, the God of Israel, 2 they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.”
 3 But Zerubbabel, Joshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us.”
 4 Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. 5 They bribed officials to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Friday, June 3, 2016

What's in the Book of Ezra? Part 1



The fifteenth book of the Old Testament is Ezra and was written by the prophet Ezra, recording the return to Palestine under Zerubbabel of a Jewish remnant that laid the temple foundations (536 BC).

The Scriptures record the return of three groups of exiles to Jerusalem from Babylon. The first group came in 536 BC, the second in 457 BC under Ezra and the third in 444 BC under Nehemiah. The book of Ezra tells of the first two groups. At the time of the writing, for historical perspective, Confucius and Buddha were alive and within a century Sophocles and Socrates would be alive. 

A quick look at chapter 1 tells us some interesting things: first,

Friday, May 27, 2016

A Soul's Kiss - random excerpt


I stand in front of one of those curtains that curve around a hospital bed, hiding the sight but not the sound of a sick or injured patient. I hear a groan. Anxious parental voices cry out Keith’s name, hopeful and soothing, yet guarded. I duck under the curtain and stand at the foot of Keith’s bed. At least I think it’s Keith. It looks like his hair. His face is bandaged and the parts I can see are swollen. His mom and dad are holding his hands and cooing his name. This must be Keith. The clothing he was wearing is in a clear plastic bag under his mom’s chair. Bloody. His leg is held aloft by some contraption.
“Cool, huh?” he says. He stands next to me again, pointing at himself, or rather his body in the bed. “I’ve been in and out of consciousness for hours, popping back home or to school. Even went to church once.”
I want to ask where Michael is, if he’s dying, too, because it certainly looks like Keith doesn’t have much time left in this world. Instead I say, “Hey, you’re barefoot, too.” He smiles and I ask the question that is burning hottest in my head: “How come you knew my address?” As soon as it’s out of my mouth I know it’s not the question I should be asking.
His laugh is sweet, such a contrast to the weeping of his mother. His father, or it must be his stepfather, keeps up a steady stream of soft words in his mom’s ear.
“Tyler’s been talking about you for years. Had me drive him by your house. But he’s shy, you know. He’s just gonna keep his feelings to himself and never even ask you to—”
“Ask me to what?”

Friday, May 20, 2016

THE GIRL IN THE TIME MACHINE - excerpt 4 (last sneak peek)



excerpt:

She was unconscious and only opened her eyes one more time.
And yes, I saw death on her face. Time to move on.
I hoisted her up on the platform where she lay breathing shallowly while I mopped up all the blood from the back door through the hall, up the stairs and into the tower. I even had to take off my jeans and use them to swab the steps.

I wasn’t positive that she was dead, but I was sure that she wasn’t going to feel any more pain. I piled my bloody clothes on top of her chest and stood at the controls in my underwear. The crazy machine blinked the last coordinates in blood red numbers. The date had to be changed. I dialed it back thirty years to 1989. I subtracted ten feet and sent Erica Wills to a junkyard grave directly under the rusty car. And then, with a most iron will, I blocked the whole thing from my memory.

MY MOM PATTED my hand, but my dad sat perfectly still. I looked at him first. Those kind eyes of his held sorrowful regret, as if he himself were responsible for my wrong-doings.
Why wouldn’t the ground open up and swallow me when I needed it to?
I cast my eyes to the floor then over to my mom.
“Nothing we can do about that,” my mom said, switching from patting my hand to grasping my dad’s hand. She looked at him and repeated, “Nothing, Conner. We can’t change a thing. We stick to the plan.”
My parents had a plan? Mom glanced at the wall clock. “Somebody’s going to show up sooner or later. Hurry up, Laken, tell us about the next one.”
She took my hand again and the thought occurred to me that she was checking my pulse and temperature. If they knew about all my travels maybe they knew about the side effects I’d suffered and were watching for more. I felt fine though. Well, hungry enough to eat a bear and a little itchy around my neck and waist.
“Laken?”
“Technically the next one was Ciera,” I said, “but I’ll tell you about Melissa first. That was the younger girl who taunted me along with Erica at Homecoming.”
Telling that story wouldn’t take as long.

Available at most online bookstores

Friday, May 13, 2016

SHELTERED is now Available as an Audio Book


I was blown away by the incredible job the narrator, John Thompson, did with all the voices. He got the characters down (male and female) with just the right expression and spooky page-turning intensity.

You can find SHELTERED as an audio book on Audible.com and on Amazon (it's also in paperback and digital, of course).

Friday, May 6, 2016

THE GIRL IN THE TIME MACHINE - excerpt 3



excerpt:

“Help me.”
Erica was impaled on the bumper of the old vehicle. Part of her left leg was buried in the ground along with her left arm up to her elbow. She looked like someone rising out of bed, but sinking down at the same time. Blood dripped into the dirt.
I choked back bile to keep my hysteria at bay. “Shh, I’ll get you out. Stop screaming.”
I searched around for something to dig with and used a couple of sticks to free her leg and arm from the ground. I pulled on her to help her stand and the shriek that pierced the night was unearthly. A rusty shard of metal broke off and more blood gushed.
“I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry.” I really was. She didn’t deserve what was happening to her, not for being mean to me, or for being a bully, or anything. But what could I do? She’d seen the time machine. Even drunk she had to realize she traveled from the lab into the forest, into the ground actually, by incomprehensible means.
I tore off my shirt and tied it around her, hoping to stem the flow of blood. I needed her to walk back. We got halfway back before she dropped to her knees. She’d soaked through my shirt and neither of us could hold enough pressure on the wound.
“I’ll carry you,” I said. I bent down in front of her and told her to climb on my back. She managed to keep her legs around my waist all the way to the lab door, then she gave up. I dropped the flashlight and used both hands to lug her all the way up to the third floor.
Available at most online bookstores

Friday, April 29, 2016

2nd Chronicles - PART 2



Last week we looked at what happened in 2nd Chronicles up to the point where Solomon finished praying and FIRE came down from heaven and the glory of the LORD filled the temple! Then the Lord appeared to Solomon that night. Here's what happened next:
11 When Solomon had finished the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the LORD and in his own palace, 12 the LORD appeared to him at night and said: 13 "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. 17 "As for you, if you walk before me as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, 18 I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, 'You shall never fail to have a man to rule over Israel.' 19 "But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 21 And though this temple is now so imposing, all who pass by will be appalled and say, 'Why has the LORD done such a thing to this land and to this temple?' 22 People will answer, 'Because they have forsaken the LORD, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why he brought all this disaster on them.' "

Look at the “if, then” statements of verses 14, 17 and 19, which I underlined. God is looking for 4 things in verse 14: humility, prayer, seeking Him, and repentance.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Boring Bble Book Explained - 2nd Chronicles (not so boring) PART 1


2nd Chronicles continues the history from 1st Chronicles, telling about the reign of King Solomon and how he built the temple. Then it records the rule of Jeroboam and Rehoboam and the growing apostasy once again of Israel. The kingdom was split into two parts as two tribes accepted Rehoboam (Solomon’s son) as their king and they became known as Judah. The other 10 tribes refused to accept him and were known as the kingdom of Israel. The information in 1st and 2nd Chronicles covers the same history as 1st and 2nd Kings, but focuses more on Solomon and the kings of Judah. The kings of Israel are only talked about when they have some impact on Judah. There are periods of revival, but every time there was a king who was righteous he was succeeded by a son who became an idolater. It is also interesting to note that in parallel verses from Kings and Chronicles, Chronicles adds many references to the priests and Levites. 
In 2nd Chronicles we have again the building of the temple by King Solomon. Since we previously examined the building of the temple in 1st Kings, we’ll look now at the dedication of the Temple. First, in chapter 6, Solomon gives a lengthy prayer of dedication.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The 13th Book of the Old Testament


In the Hebrew bible 1st and 2nd Chronicles are one book called Divrei Ha-Yamim which means “words of the days”, hence the English word “chronicles”. These books were probably written by Ezra.
1st Chronicles is the 13th book of the Christian bible and its first 9 chapters are dedicated to lists and genealogies. More lists and genealogies are scattered throughout the rest of the book. In between it records David's ascension to the throne and his actions from then on. The book ends with David's son Solomon becoming King of Israel. Since it starts with all these genealogies you might think the book is dry, uninteresting, and you might skip over it, but the genealogies remind us that God knows each of His children personally, even down to the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30). This is the largest genealogical list in the Bible (44% of the book). 
The lessons of Chronicles are that obedience to God brings blessing and disobedience brings disaster and defeat.

Friday, April 8, 2016

THE GIRL IN THE TIME MACHINE - excerpt 2



excerpt:

It was one in the morning and I had a golden opportunity for revenge. I couldn’t help myself. I took her to the lab. She was not too drunk to walk up to the third floor, but she was definitely too out of it to realize that my telling her to lie down on the ‘massage table’ was not going to end well for her.
I chose that day’s date and some random coordinates close to what was already on the screen. What did I care?
Poof, the bitch was gone. And nobody was going to think anything other than that she ran away from home.
I locked up and stepped outside. The dark monastery in the middle of the woods was creepy enough after midnight, but before I could open the car door I heard far off shrieks, like the sound a rabbit makes when a bobcat pounces. The screams were faint at first, then frantic. And human. I grabbed the flashlight from the car, pushed the gate all the way open and ran for the path to town. Between the ghastly moonlight and the fairly strong beam in my hand I followed the trail to the rusty car. The cries were growing less frequent.

Available at most online bookstores