Friday, November 30, 2012

"Christmas Stories" By Max Lucado

Christmas Stories
Heartwarming Classics of Angels, a Manger, and the Birth of Hope
Author: Max Lucado
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 9781401685430
Hardcover: 355 pages

About the Book:
A heartwarming collection of Christmas stories and reflections from Max Lucado

These stories—like your favorite Christmas ornaments—come in all shapes and sizes. They unfold in a variety of settings, from ancient Bethlehem to rural England. From a small Texas town to the heavenly realms. Some are short. Others many chapters long. Some offer reflections. Others imagine Christmas through the eyes of a burnt-out candle maker, a lonely business man, or heavenly angels.

Yet all are vintage Lucado, and all resonate with the wonder of the season.

"In the mystery of Christmas," Max writes, "we find its majesty. The mystery of how God became flesh, why he chose to come, and how much he must love his people. Such mysteries can never be solved, just as love can never be diagrammed. Christmas is best pondered, not with logic, but imagination."

That's what each of these unique Christmas stories help us do. In the midst of the bustle and hurry that often distracts us this time of year, these stories free us to explore the ways in which Christ's coming has forever changed history—and us.
My Thoughts:

Truly a book full of heartwarming stories presented in a style that only Max Lucado can do. These stories will touch your soul and bring tears to your eyes as you snuggle up to get lost in faraway places in both past and present.

Of all the stories, my favorite has to be "The Answer is Yes". It's a story about a man and his daughter and how love will always be able to forgive - no matter how big the mistake. Make sure to have tissues on hand, as this one made me cry.

I also enjoyed how Max brought to life Joseph and his role in the life of Jesus. Joseph is not discussed much in the Bible, but this truly made me step back and consider how it must have been for Joseph and how it affected his life.

One other great piece worth mentioning is a short article on Santa Claus. This look at the man/saint is a fantastic piece that needs to be read by all!

Although all the stories and outtakes are good, the above three are my favorites. This book is certainly a must to everyone's library - and not just for Christmas!


I received this book through the Booksneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Entangled Teen Cover Reveal: The Summer I Became a Nerd



On the outside, seventeen-year-old Madelyne Summers looks like your typical blond cheerleader—perky, popular, and dating the star quarterback. But inside, Maddie spends more time agonizing over what will happen in the next issue of her favorite comic book than planning pep rallies with her squad. That she’s a nerd hiding in a popular girl's body isn’t just unknown, it's anti-known. And she needs to keep it that way.

Summer is the only time Maddie lets her real self out to play, but when she slips up and the adorkable guy behind the local comic shop’s counter uncovers her secret, she’s busted. Before she can shake a pom-pom, Maddie’s whisked into Logan’s world of comic conventions, live-action role-playing, and first-person-shooter video games. And she loves it. But the more she denies who she really is, the deeper her lies become…and the more she risks losing Logan forever.



Leah Rae Miller
Born and raised in northern Louisiana, Leah Rae Miller still lives there on a windy hill with her husband and kids. She loves comic books, lava lamps, fuzzy socks, and Cherry Coke. She spends most of her days reading things she likes and writing things she hopes other people will like.



Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Silent Night" By Colleen Coble

Silent Night
A Rock Harbor Christmas Novella
Author: Colleen Coble
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Currently only available in eBook format

About the Book:
As Christmas day nears, Bree and her faithful search-and-rescue dog Samson follow the trail of a troubling mystery into the snowy forests of Rock Harbor.

Bree Matthews is preparing for Christmas guests, but her heart is reeling from the recent and tender loss of her unborn child. Her sister-in-law, Lauri, suddenly turns up on the doorstep of the lighthouse home Bree shares with her husband, Kade, in Rock Harbor. Secretive and withdrawn, Lauri seems curiously intent on discovering what happened to a parachuter who disappeared in the North Woods along Lake Superior's icy shore.

As Bree and Samson, her search-and-rescue dog, plunge into the search, Bree wonders if Lauri may know more than she’s admitted about the parachuter. And then the clues lead them to the trail of a young woman whose family fears the worst about her disappearance.

Will the search on this snowy, silent night lead Bree and Samson to more than clues about the missing girl? And will Bree’s prayer for a baby ever be answered?

My Thoughts:

Colleen Coble is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Her books contain realistic places, characters and story lines that are guaranteed to keep you up well past your bedtime while you promise yourself just one more chapter...

"Silent Night" is one of those stories. A short novella that takes place around Christmastime, this story does not need the reader to have read the other books in the Rock Harbor series to enjoy and connect with the characters. I find it amazing that Colleen can have the reader become so involved within the span of a novella - it takes a gifted writer to accomplish that, and her gift shines with this story.

Bree Matthews is a very interesting character who's job is both heartbreaking and rewarding. She is quite realistic with her attitude towards her yearning for a special gift for her husband and her reaction to what he has asked of her. She is a character that I want to get to know much deeper. Her lovable character is responsible for me adding the Rock Harbor series to my TBR list!

This heartwarming and somewhat predictable novella is a must read for anyone who loves sappy yet mysterious Christmas stories. If you've never read a Colleen Coble story before, here's a great place to start!!


I received this book through the Booksneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Return to Sunday Dinner" by Russell Cronkhite

Return to Sunday Dinner (Revised & Updated)
The Simple Delight of Family, Friends, and Food
Author: Russell Cronkhite
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 9781401604806
Hardbound: 278 Pages

About the Book:
Maybe you can still see it clearly. Your mother, with an apron draped over her Sunday best, standing at the stove, tending to the bubbling pots, sneaking a taste from each one. Somewhere in this memory, you hear the doorbell ring, ushering in aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends from church, all enveloped in the aromas of Sunday dinner—a pot roast in the oven, warm homemade rolls in a basket on the table, a coconut cake cooling on the counter. Wouldn't you like to go back there?

Russell Cronkhite's Return to Sunday Dinner revisits the time-honored tradition of the Sunday meal, a day of thanksgiving, celebrating the ritual with recipes reminiscent of the Sunday table where you pulled up a seat years ago. Cronkhite will help you recreate those memorable meals you savored in your childhood, and remind you of just how meaningful it can be to break bread each week with the people who matter most in your life. Explore this selection of twenty-four different chapters/menus, each one specially arranged for different occasions. Try the Slow-Cooked Beef Brisket for a simple after-church gathering for friends, or assemble a big pot of Chicken and Sausage Gumbo for a large family shindig. Want the crowd to roar at dessert? Be sure to whip up the Peach Cobbler with Frozen Vanilla Custard.

And because we all know that life moves at a quicker pace these days, Cronkhite offers up plenty of time-saving tips that will help make Sunday dinner easier than ever to get on the table. Introduce your family to a treasured tradition, and enjoy the distinct pleasure of preparing and sharing a delicious Sunday dinner.

My Thoughts:

I grew up in a family that didn't do Sunday dinners. We went to my grandmother's house every weekend and since she lived on a farm, there was nothing fancy - just a sit down to a nice hearty dinner after we helped with all the chores.  She didn't get out the fancy plates or anything special, we just had a good meal with family and friends if they happened to drop by.

"Return to Sunday Dinner" is a fantastic book. I was fascinated with the concept of a "traditional" Sunday dinner and enjoyed all the stories of how others celebrated their Sunday gatherings. To take the time and care of laying out a fancy table was a novel idea to me, but sounded like so many others did as a normal routine in years past. The shared stories of how things were done are in themselves a delight to read, and the recipes range from the simple and delicious to a bit more extravagant - but all very doable.

I loved reading all the stories and found that I wanted to start my own Sunday traditions after reading this book, however, the children are off to college, so I don't know if it will be too late to start now or not. We'll try it when they come home for winter and summer breaks.

The recipes are delicious and the the best part is that there are do-ahead hints and tips, so it makes the dinners easier to make on a schedule without feeling overwhelmed. The Coconut Cream Cake is a must and make sure to try Grandma's Fried Chicken!

This is a wonderful book to add to any kitchen library, but even more wonderful is the tradition that goes along with this book. If you are like me and didn't have a traditional Sunday dinner, make sure to pick this book up and start your own traditional Sunday meal. If you are already doing the traditional Sunday meal, you'll want to read this and add some new ideas and meals to your existing menus.

Highly recommended!!!!



I received this book through the Booksneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.


Razed by Paula Wiseman

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Mindstir Media (July 12, 2012)

***Special thanks to Paula Wiseman for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


 After working several years as research chemist, Paula Wiseman was blessed with the opportunity to stay home with her children and follow the writer’s path. Her bestselling Covenant of Trust Series, including Contingency, Indemnity and Precedent was recognized by Indie Excellence Awards, a Readers Favorite Gold, and Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and featured on Lifetime Television. When she isn’t working on new projects, Paula blogs on matters of life and faith at www.paulawiseman.com.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

 Doug Bolling lost his wife of twenty years just as their stormy marriage was beginning to thrive, and he bitterly blames God. He tries to reconnect with his son, but it seems Mark is only interested if the relationship comes wrapped in religion. Mark claims he's just following God when he moves his family, including Doug's grandsons, further away, first to pastor, then to attend seminary. With frustrated resignation, Doug turns his attention to building a new life and a new home for himself and interior designer, Cassandra Grayson. The conflict erupts as Mark is preparing to leave for the mission field in Kenya. He delivers an ultimatum, cutting off all contact between his kids and their grandfather. God may have ripped away his wife and his son, but Doug draws the line at his grandchildren. Mark's attempt to force him to choose between the woman he loves and the grandkids he adores, drives Doug to one fateful desperate act, even if it means destroying his relationship with his son.



Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 390 pages
Publisher: Mindstir Media (July 12, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0985365099
ISBN-13: 978-0985365097



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


SIXTEEN YEARS AGO

Thursday, July 29

Doug Bolling clutched the small bag of cookies in his left hand. His right hand rested on the door handle to his wife’s hospital room. No matter how many times he’d done this, it never got any easier.

He took a deep breath, pushed the door open slowly, and stepped inside. Images flickering across the screen of the muted television gave the room its only light. Judy’s eyes fluttered open as he got closer, and she gave him her best smile. “Hey, Babe,” he whispered, and leaned down to kiss her, wishing her cheeks were still full with the almost babyish roundness they used to have.

“You just missed the doctor.” She pulled at the bedrails and managed to prop herself up.

“There was a line at Schnuck’s.” He held the bag up for her to see.

“What’d you bring?” She stretched her arm forward, revealing her narrow wrists. Would she have enough strength to hold the bag?

“Those cookies. The white chocolate and macadamia nut ones.”

“Bless your heart.”

She labored to open the bag, and he fought the urge to do it for her.

She inhaled deeply. “They smell wonderful. I can’t wait to have one.”

“Why can’t you have one now?”

“I’m not hungry yet. I’d rather be hungry.”

“You want me to set them on the table?”

“No, I want them close.” She held out her hand, and he cradled it in his. “Almost as close as I want you.”

“So what’d the doctor say?”

Her smiled faded and she hesitated. Not good. “He’s sending me home, Doug.”

Home. Not “home” home. Home to die. “There’s not anything—?”

She shook her head. “He suggested some, uh, some hospice care providers.”

“How, how much—” He swallowed and tried again. “How much time?”

Her gentle smile returned. “He’s too slippery to give me anything definite. Christmas is probably, I mean, Christmas was his best-case estimate. He said I should think in terms of weeks . . . not months. I’m sorry.”

The grief in her eyes tore at him most of all. “Don’t be sorry.”

“I hate for you to have to go through this.”

“Me? Don’t worry about me. I’m a tough guy.”

“The toughest,” she said, and he felt the slightest squeeze. “I have a request.” She raised her eyes to his. “I want to be the one to tell Mark.”

He nodded. She’d do it better than he would anyway. He hooked his boot around the leg of the bedside chair and dragged it closer without ever letting go of her hand. Home. Hospice. Christmas. They knew it was close. But hearing it, having a doctor pronounce that . . .”Are you afraid?” He hoped she’d say yes, because he was terrified.

“No. I don’t have any pain, really.”

“I mean to die.” He regretted the words as soon as he heard himself say them. He shifted in the chair. “I shouldn’t have said that,” he mumbled.

“It won’t be as frightening if we talk about it.”

Which meant she knew he was terrified, so she would pretend she was, too. “But you’re not scared.”

“You remember when you asked me to marry you?”

“Like it was yesterday. I think it was just yesterday.”

“Seems like it. My parents were so worried. All they could see was this punk who barely graduated high school.”

“They still see that.”

She smiled and squeezed his hand again. “They never heard you say that you’d take care of me, and that you’d never, ever leave me.” She twisted and pulled herself up a little straighter. “I know this makes no sense to you, but God’s made those same promises to me, so I’m not afraid. I trusted you. I trust Him.”

He dropped his head and hoped she couldn’t see his jaw clench in the low light. The God she trusted was a fairy tale, a happy story to help her sleep better at night. A real God, a good God wouldn’t kill a wife and mother in the prime of her life.

“I see that line of discussion is a dead end.”

He smiled at the spark of attitude. “I’m glad your, uh, your faith helps you.”

“I wish it helped you.”

“It does. When I see you optimistic and brave and—” He had to look away again. If he didn’t shut up, he’d lose it in front of her. “So where’s that doctor? I need to get you out of here.”

*******

For Mark Bolling, three-thirty was the best part of the day, and his favorite thing about working for Bolling Developers. He didn’t hate construction work exactly, even though he missed the air conditioning at his grandfather’s car dealership. His dad was rarely on-site and the guys were okay to work with. He liked being able to see progress when he left every day.

His mother smiled with quiet approval any time he mentioned working for his dad. That was the main reason he was doing it. Plus, it was her idea. Right after she got sick last summer, she suggested—no, insisted—he ask his dad for a job. His father said, “So help me, if you pull an attitude and embarrass me, you’ll wish you were shoveling horse barns for a living. Am I clear?”

“Crystal.”

“You need work boots. Pack your own lunch and be ready to leave by six-thirty in the morning.”

That was his orientation talk.

The first two days she was in the hospital this time around, it looked like this was her last trip, but she rallied once more. He planned to grab a quick shower then spend the evening there with her.

His father’s truck was in the driveway. That meant his parents were home—both of them. They’d sent her home. Great!

The stillness in the house sucked that optimism right out of him. He walked as carefully and quietly as his clunky, steel-toed boots would allow, checking the living room and the kitchen. Outside? He peeked out the back door and saw his dad fussing with the charcoal grill.

Charcoal. The guy was a million-dollar-a-year homebuilder, but he was too cheap for a gas grill. Not only that, they still lived in the same three-bedroom place he built the first year Bolling Developers was in business, and he still drove the pick-up truck he bought that year.

Mark slipped off his boots and left them by the back door, then he took the stairs two at a time, doubly anxious to talk to his mother. He heard the television. Hopefully that meant she was awake. He knocked gently as he pushed the door open. “Mom?”

“Mark? Is it that late already?” Her voice was soft, but her eyes shone. She reached for the remote and clicked off the television set. “Come and sit with me and tell me about your day.”

“I’d rather hear about yours.” He eased himself down onto the edge of the bed.

“Oh, it was about what I expected.” She tugged at the sleeve of her warm-up jacket, pulling it toward her wrist. The sicker she got, the more athletic her preferred attire became. She thought the bulky clothes hid things better. She was mistaken.

Her eyes fluttered, hardly daring to rest on his. “I shouldn’t have to go back.”

“No more treatments?” he asked, knowing exactly what that meant.

She shook her head. “The doctor said . . . well . . . his primary concern from here on out . . . is that I’m comfortable.”

Here on out. The death sentence. The air in the room thickened until it was like trying to breathe syrup. Hot, smothering syrup.

She put a hand on his knee and winked with an impish grin. “I can have all the morphine I want.”

He had to smile at her. “How did . . . ?” Mark swallowed hard and wiped his eyes. “How’s Dad?”

Her smile faded. “That’s what hurts me. Watching him.” She smoothed the comforter. “He’s so lost. He needs you more than he will ever admit, more than he understands even.”

His father didn’t need anyone, least of all him. “Excuse my cynicism.”

She took his hand and spoke with urgency. “I want you to remember this when I—” She shook her head gently. “Your dad, he carries everything inside, and he’s going to need someone he can vent to. Someone who can take it.”

“You mean someone to yell at?”

“Yell at, yell to. It’s all the same to him.”

“Then I’ve been there for him for years.”

“I’m not explaining this right,” she said. “There’s much more to your dad than the blustering guy in the hardhat. Give him a chance. Be patient and he’ll come around. Promise me you will.”

“Have you given him this speech?” he asked, carefully avoiding the promise.

“Not yet. He’s on my schedule.” She smiled. “If only I could have a few more years with him.” She blinked away her own tears. “He just needs someone who will love him.”

She wanted, expected, him to be the one—a worshipful son to take the place of the smitten wife. He was in so much trouble.

*******

Doug sat at the kitchen table sorting through the latest stack of bills. Doctor, doctor, hospital, ambulance, radiology. What a mess. He wrote check after check, stuffed them in the envelopes, and dropped the keep this portion in the box at his feet. He didn’t have time for this. He should be in there with Judy. Christmas. Christmas was only five months away. He couldn’t be ready in five months.

If she didn’t eat any more than she did today, he didn’t see how she could last that long. She used to have this metabolism most people would give anything to have. She could eat whatever she wanted, and still keep a cheerleader’s figure. He teased her about out-eating him.

She was never what anyone would call beautiful. Judy was cute. Petite and youthful, she never seemed to age. She’d never let herself get old, she said. Terminal cancer took care of that for her.

Mark strode into the kitchen and pulled a glass from the cabinet. “She’s asleep.” The teenager got a two-liter bottle from the refrigerator and it hissed loudly when he twisted off the cap. “You want a Coke or something?”

“No.” Doug laid down his pen and pushed his chair back from the table. He’d dreaded this conversation all day, especially the part where he’d ask the center of the universe to relinquish his position. “Listen, I think you need to sit out this semester coming up.”

“Why?” Mark gulped the Coke, then set the glass on the counter, clinking it against the sink.

“Really? I have to explain this to you? Your mother is dying, Mark. It’ll be a miracle if she lives past Christmas. Don’t you think you belong here with her instead of some frat house somewhere?”

“I’m not even gonna respond to that.”

Doug had seen the same condescending sneer on Judy’s face more times than he cared to remember.

“Mom specifically said not to drop out of school. She told me to go on with my life.”

“I bet she did,” Doug muttered.

“Fine! You want me to stay home? I’ll stay.”

“Oh no. I’m not taking the blame for bullying you into dropping out of college.”

“You bully me into everything else.”

“And Mommy always rescues you, doesn’t she?”

“Again, I’m not going to respond. You’re just ranting at me, and I’ve learned not to try to reason with you when you’re like this.”

“I’m unreasonable?”

“Right now, yes.”

Doug jerked himself out of the chair and stood inches away from his son. The boy, the man now, straightened himself until he stood half a head taller than Doug, with a look of annoyed indifference he inherited directly from Judy’s father.

Then Doug stopped himself. He waved his hand and stepped back. Mark couldn’t understand, and he didn’t have the strength or the words to explain it.

“Go ahead and say it, Dad.”

This time it wasn’t a challenge. Mark was inviting him, the way Judy did. Maybe the long talks with his mother were paying off. Maybe he was listening.

“Just . . . you better pray to that God of yours that you never have to stand by and watch your wife . . . watch her go through something like this.”

“He’s your God, too.”

“I have no God.”

“That’s your problem.”

*******

Tuesday, August 3

“What do you think you’re doing?” Doug leaned against the kitchen doorframe, his arms crossed against his chest as he watched his wife rummage through the kitchen cabinets.

“Making your dinner.” Judy hugged a skillet close to her body.

“You have no business—” He gently took the skillet from her hand and set it on the counter.

She huffed like an angry teenager. “Will you please, please, let me do as much as I can for as long as I can?”

“But you shouldn’t be wasting your energy—”

“It’s not wasting it if I’m doing what I enjoy.”

“You enjoy making my dinner? Since when?”

She pulled the skillet toward the stovetop. “All right, all right. There have been times when making dinner was not my favorite thing.”

“Like the first nineteen years of our marriage,” Doug teased.

“Get out the spaghetti, smart aleck.”

“That’s more like it.” He handed her the box of pasta and watched her brown the ground beef. He wasn’t joking, though. She had begrudged everything she did for him until she got sick.

“You know, this reminds me of the time we were at Disney World and Mickey or Goofy or somebody sat down beside Mark and begged for his spaghetti.” She smiled as she stirred. “He wouldn’t walk close to the characters any more after that. Do you remember?”

“No.”

“Oh, sure you do. Mark was about . . . five . . .”

“Judy, I wasn’t there. You and your parents took Mark. I couldn’t get away.”

“Or wouldn’t.”

“That’s not fair.”

She sighed with a heavy sadness. “Why did we treat each other that way for so long?”

“We were young. We didn’t know what we were doing.”

“I was selfish, Doug.” She struggled to pull a heavy pot from the cabinet, so he steadied it for her. “I married you because it infuriated my father.” She slid the pot into the sink and turned the water on. “You deserved a woman who loved you for you.”

“I have one.”

“But I’m not gonna be around to finish the job.” She turned off the faucet and held out a hand. He slipped in beside her and put an arm around her waist. She was so thin now. “Can you forgive me?”

“For what?”

“For being such a horrible wife.”

“That’s crazy.” He dropped his hand and stepped away. “You were, I mean, are, you are a perfect wife.”

“Now who’s crazy.” She arched an eyebrow at him, and he smiled. “I know better.”

“At least we had the last couple of years when things were good. Some people don’t have that.”

“It has been good, hasn’t it?”

He nodded and lifted the pot from the sink, then set it on the stove for her. “I think we both learned what was really important.”

“I learned what love was. I couldn’t give you what I didn’t have.”

Doug braced himself. He recognized the set-up for another Christianity commercial from her.

She wrinkled her brow at him. “All right. I won’t say anything else.”

“No, say it. I don’t want to leave anything unsaid between us.”

She faced him and spoke with urgency. “You’re a good man, Doug. You’ve made your own way. You work hard, and you have great integrity. I love all those things about you.”

He smiled, trying to diffuse the heaviness in the moment. “Tell me more.”

“Those things aren’t going to be good enough. The only thing, the only thing that scares me is an eternity without you. Mark finally came around, and I pray every day you will, too . . . and I pray I’ll get to see it.”

He saw the tears in her eyes, and guilt washed over him. Why couldn’t he simply say he believed whatever she wanted him to, make her happy, let her have peace these last few months?

Because he couldn’t lie to her.

“Babe, here’s how it looks to me. God . . . I don’t trust Him. He could fix all this and He won’t. He’s holding out.”

“But He’s not like that!”

“Not to you.”

“Let me find somebody who can explain things better than I can—”

“I don’t want to talk about it with somebody else. I only talk about it with you because—”

“Because I’m dying. You’re patronizing me.”

“I’m not patronizing you. I’m trying to be supportive.” He sighed deeply at the hurt in her eyes. “Just save your religion talk for Mark.”

“You hate that, too.”

“I don’t. ” He turned his back to her, paced away, and took a deep breath. If she saw his eyes, she’d know he was lying.

“You resent every minute I spend with him.”

It was a soft declaration, not an accusation, but she still knew how to cut into his very soul. He faced her again. “Can we compromise on this?”

“Can we?” The light in her eyes faded, and her hair seemed to gray before his eyes. She’d spent all her energy on him.

“Talk about your religion, your faith. Tell me all about it, but I don’t want to hear how much I need it. No hard sells, no sob stories, nothing.”

“And you won’t give Mark a hard time?”

“Mark and I will be fine.”

*******

Wednesday, September 22

Mark met his father at the top of the stairs outside his mother’s room, and to his utter surprise, his dad held out a hand. Mark shook it as grieving fear took hold of him. “Is she . . . ?”

“They said it was a matter of days now.” His father glanced back toward the door. “She’s on a lot of medication. She’s kind of in and out.”

Mark nodded. “You tell her I was coming?”

He shook his head. “She didn’t want me to call you. Afraid your schoolwork would suffer.”

As if he had anything more important to do.

“I’m gonna grab her a glass of water and throw a load of her things in the laundry. Did you get the mail on your way in?”

“It’s on the table.”

“Thanks.” His dad stepped around him and headed down the stairs.

“Dad?”

“What?”

“We’ll get through this.”

His father shook his head and shuffled into the kitchen.

Mark pushed the bedroom door open, and his breath caught when he saw his mother, ashen-faced and motionless, propped up against a pillow. “Mom?”

“Mark? It’s not Friday, is it?”

“No, it’s Wednesday.”

“Your dad doesn’t listen.” She managed a smile.

“I’m glad he called me.”

She reached for his hand. “Your dad, he reads my Bible to me. I wish you could hear him.” Her eyelids drooped until they were only half open. “It’s the most beautiful thing. Mark.” She let out a dreamy sigh. “Would you let him read at your wedding?”

“My wedding?”

“You’re still dating the preacher’s daughter, aren’t you?”

“Well, yeah.”

“You love her?”

“I do.”

“See, you’re already practiced up on the ‘I do.’” She smiled again and rolled her eyes to look at him. “Don’t wait, Mark. Don’t wait until you’re older . . . or you’re more settled . . . or you have more money. There are no guarantees.”

“Mom, it’s a little—”

She managed another smile. “Your dad doesn’t know about her, does he?”

“It’s not like I’m trying to keep it a secret. It just never seemed like the right time to bring it up.”

“Practice then. Tell me about her. Tell me what you love about her.” She settled back against her pillow, her eyes drooping shut again.

“Um, well . . . She’s, uh, she’s pretty, of course, and smart. She listens to me.”

His mother nodded slightly. “Mmmm. You need that. Men need that. They need someone who believes in them . . . then they can do anything.”

“Did you believe in Dad?”

“Not like I should have. Look what’s he’s accomplished in spite of it. What if I’d been what he needed? What could he have done?” She reached for his hand and squeezed it gently. Her fingers were soft and cool. “With, uh, tell me her name again.”

“Julie. Julie Hammell.”

“With Julie behind you, there’ll be no stopping you. I wish I could have met her. I’m sure she’s wonderful.”

Mark smiled and nodded. “She is.” Julie Hammell was his ticket to respectability, acceptance, and purpose, and it didn’t hurt that she was crazy about him. “Does Dad know you want him to read?”

“He promised me today.”

“You pick out the passage?”

“First John, chapter four. Where it talks about love, God’s love for us. He read it today.” She sighed and closed her eyes. “‘There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear.’ It was beautiful. He has a beautiful voice . . . and he read it slow so he didn’t stumble.”

“Are you getting tired? I should let you rest.”

“No, stay. I have one for you too.”

“Something to read at my wedding?”

“No, a promise. I want you to make me a promise.” She squeezed his hand weakly again. “Promise me you won’t give up on him. Promise you’ll make sure your dad becomes a believer.”

“Mom, I can’t. He has to make that decision.”

“You have to tell him. You have to. It’s like in Ezekiel. You’re the watchman. If you don’t tell him . . . if he dies in his sins, Mark, we’re accountable. Maybe not responsible, but . . . Please tell me you won’t let that happen. I have nightmares—”

“I won’t, Mom. I’ll take care of it.” How could he not promise?

She relaxed against her pillow, apparently exhausted, and guilt closed off his throat. He couldn’t make his dad become a believer. He’d just lied to his mother on her deathbed.

“Talk to me,” she said without opening her eyes. “I love hearing you. I’m listening.”

Mark talked about his classes, his homework, the drive home, whatever he could think of, but the promise hung in the back of his mind. I’ll take care of it. How?

The more he talked, the more each word came with a keen awareness of every breath she took. If she passed without his father there at her side . . . God help them all.

*******

Friday, September 24

Doug rubbed his eyes and shifted in his chair. In the pale early morning light he squinted, trying to make sure Judy was still breathing. Finally, he reached his hand to her chest. It rose and fell in a slow, shallow rhythm. That reassurance was costly. Now he was afraid to pull his hand away for fear he’d miss the last one.

Ellen and Russell Carson had passed the night with him here, hovering over their only daughter. Of course they belonged here, had a right and a need to be here, but Doug hated it. When Ellen slipped out to get a quick shower, at least Russ left to make coffee, giving Doug these precious few moments alone with Judy.

“You’ve never answered anything I’ve ever asked,” he whispered. “But . . . I’ll do . . . anything. Or take me instead . . . Just . . . Don’t . . . You can fix this. I read those stories to her, I know what You can do . . . I need her. Take anything else of mine . . . Just not—”

Judy drew in two quick breaths and opened her eyes. “Doug?”

“I’m right here.” He slipped his hand around hers. “Right here.”

“I love you.” She labored to draw the corners of her mouth into a smile. “Mark . . . ?”

“He’s down the hall. He’ll be right here.”

“Were Mom and Dad . . . ?”

He nodded. “Your mom’s down in our bathroom getting a shower and your dad’s making a pot of coffee. They’ve been here the whole time.”

She closed her eyes. “You need . . . that.”

“Need what? Coffee?” he asked, daring to tease her in this moment.

She blinked slowly in place of a smile. “I heard . . . you pray.”

He felt himself flush with the shame of desperation. “I don’t think it did any good.”

“I pray . . . for you . . . and Mark. You need . . .”

You, he wanted to say. I need you, Judy.

“You need someone . . . someone who deserves to have you.” She squeezed his hand. “You . . . I love you. We will meet again. I have that peace.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I can let go. You’ll . . .” Her hand relaxed, and everything inside Doug Bolling died.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Conversations of a Watchman: Prayers to Frame your Prophetic Destiny by K. E. Allen

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:

K. E. Allen

and the book:

Fresh Reign (October 9, 2012)

***Special thanks to Paulette Harper Johnson for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


K. E. ALLEN has proven to be an incredible, spiritual force in the Kingdom of God by displaying a God given indomitable spirit to change atmospheres and environments. Through the extraordinary gift of intercession and pure worship, she has become a spiritual weapon in the hand of the Lord whose knowledge is relevant for the church today. She is a dynamic leader, extravagant worshiper and prophetic intercessor whose worship has become a definitive lifestyle that penetrates and permeates every facet of her life and the lives of those she touches.  Karla is a leader to leaders and lives a life of committed consistent intercession, giving selflessly of herself in her prayer closet.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


How does a person move from a place deficient of light?  How can an individual shift from a place of complete and utter chaos, obscurity, apathy, and adversity?  The pathway to transformation is through in-depth conversations with the One True God of Creation–El·ō·hēm'.  For you to move to a place of prophetic providence, your conversation must be divinely inspired.  Hebrews 11:3 states: “The worlds were framed by the Word of God.”  Framing begins with an idea, expands as a result of the imagination, and gives life through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit through divine utterance for a specific purpose.  Declaring the Word of God releases the creative power of God for authentic transformation.

K. E. Allen designed this book to draw you into a deeper conversation with the Father to renew your prayer life, mend your brokenness, enlighten your pathway, and arrange your chaos according to the divine order of God.


Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 182 pages
Publisher: Fresh Reign (October 9, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0985448008
ISBN-13: 978-0985448004



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


PREFACE
The Call

As you read this section, take time to prayerfully answer the questions.
Will you answer the call to Intercede for others?
There are times in life when one encounters God in such tangible ways that it becomes physically overwhelming to the senses.  I still remember it like it was yesterday the moment I first experienced God’s hand upon my life. This particular moment was different from times past.  It was during my second year at Oral Roberts University when the Spirit of God visited me in an unusual way.  I can only describe it as being cloaked with a robe weighing more than I could carry.  Throughout that period, I would try to eat and socialize with others like a normal 19-year-old student.  However, the spirit of intercession would overwhelm me and I would run across campus weeping.  What a foolish site I must have been.
During those times, I would run back to my room and cry out to God and pray in the spirit until relieved of the overpowering burden lodged in the center of my chest. As I often recant that period in my life to others, I always say, “I fasted more days than I ate.”  When I look back on that time, I realize God Himself was forming me into His intercessor.

Some say I have an anointing to pray and fast. The truth is the desire for God’s presence, His will, and purpose often creates a spiritual desperation no natural food can satisfy. Seeing the will of God accomplished is true fulfillment.
By applying the principles of the Word of God regarding fasting and intercession, I have witnessed the reversal of court decisions, dramatic transformation of individuals, miraculous healings, and the restoration of family members.
It is God’s desire to use man to accomplish His will in the earth.  Throughout the scriptures God uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary feats through intercession and fasting.  It is only by His grace, through faith, and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that believers accomplish anything, including interceding and fasting on the behalf of others.
Think about these few scriptural examples:
In Scripture, the intercession of Moses convinced God not to destroy the people of Israel (Numbers 14:11-21).
Will you be the one to convince God to show mercy as Moses did?
Esther, organizing three days of fasting and intercession, delivered the Jewish nation from the plot of Haman–a plot that would have annihilated the entire Jewish race (Esther 4:16).
Will you be the one who prays for your nation to experience true deliverance?
The Scriptures also mention Anna, who for 84 years worshipped the Lord with continual fasting and praying until the birth of Christ (Luke 2:21-38).
How long are you willing to intercede to see Christ born in others?
These are powerful examples. Even so, the ultimate act of intercession was Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection from the dead. Christ’s altruistic act empowers the believer to live an overcoming life. He has proven to be the Chief Intercessor who ever-lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25).
Engaging in the selfless act of intercession displays the characteristics of Christ, who is merciful and kind. He shows mercy to a thousand generations.  Therefore, He is constantly looking for someone to demonstrate His personality and act as a bridge between Him and mankind.
God desires, is requesting, and choosing, people who will build a wall of justice and institute His Kingdom rule on earth as it is in heaven.  He desires people who will reinforce His purposes. He desires someone who will be persistent to establish His heart in the earth.
God desires hedge builders and gap fillers.  He is calling for people willing to sacrifice their lives to preserve a person, a business, a community, a city, a region, a country, or a nation.
In Numbers Chapter 16, the Scriptures record: when the sons of Korah came against Moses, God sent a plague among the people as judgment. The Bible says Aaron lit the censer, made amends for the people, and stood between the living and the dead. His act of intercession stopped the plague (Numbers 16: 1-50).
As one intercedes according to the heart of God, the words spoken impede the strategies of the enemy and frame God’s prophetic destiny.
Whose destiny are you willing to revolutionize through intercession?








Introduction

Who is the Watchman?

The watchman is responsible for framing prophetic destiny spoken by the council of God. The watchman’s anointing allows one to perceive accurately the enemy approaching from a distance to warn the people of God of the plots and plans of the enemy (Ezekiel 33:1-6).
Conversely, when introduced to Christ, believers usually gain knowledge of one dimension or one kind of prayer–“the prayer of petition.”  This type of prayer involves asking the Father for personal needs and desires.  Unfortunately, because of insufficient training, countless believers fail in this initial level of prayer and lose the desire or interest before discovering the true, hidden treasures found in prayer.  Discerning the extent by which believers can communicate with the Father creates an inward hunger and thirst to know Him more.
As one matures and develops a disciplined prayer life, prayer becomes a conversation based on God’s covenant, God’s heart, God’s mind, and God’s purpose.  God and His purpose are the center and focus of every dialogue.  Essentially, prayer is an exchange of ideas about His purpose pertaining to one’s family, ministry, business, community, and nation.  This is the key to successful prayer–exchanging self generated thoughts for God’s thoughts.  When one prays apart from God’s desires, there is no guarantee of answered prayers.  The assurance comes when one’s desires align with His.  Asking according to His will cultivates the confidence that He hears, He answers (1 John 5:14-15), and He is faithful.  Understanding God’s authenticity facilitates a deeper level of conversation based on relationship.
The depth of one’s conversation depends on the depth of the relationship.  The more intimately one knows a person, the deeper the conversation.  Closeness automatically creates an atmosphere for a transparent, authentic exchange.  Intimate conversation allows face-to-face interactions in which nothing is hidden.  This kind of exchange allows one to know the secret place of another’s heart well enough to speak for them.  This is the watchman.
In other words, the watchman relies on his intimate relationship with God to preserve his sensitivity in spiritual warfare.  In essence, the requisite for the watchman maintaining his prophetic precision is standing in the presence of God waiting for instruction (Habakkuk 2:1-2).
The watchman surrounds himself with other prophetic gifts, such as gatekeepers. Gatekeepers war at spiritual gates, to prevent the enemy from gaining entrance into the lives of individuals, families, ministries, businesses, communities, regions, states, countries, and nations.  In a symphonic synergistic way, the gifts flow in concert to provide warning to the people of God by discerning the will of God and receiving intercessory strategy from the Holy Spirit to overcome an already defeated adversary.


Word to the Watchman



Word to the Watchman from the one whose…eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of [them] whose heart [is] perfect toward him…(2 Chronicles 16:9).


While you are watching for Me, I am watching over you. Watch not on your own but watch through My eyes that you may see clearly. I watch over My Word to perform it.  Therefore, in your watching, speak the Word. I will perform and manifest the Word you speak.
This is the season and the time I will arise to establish and confirm what I have spoken.  That which I have sworn, I will perform. Watch and wait to see what I will do. For this is the season of fulfillment. This is the season of manifestation.
Pressing is a part of the watching process, so be encouraged!  Your regimented press will yield creative fruit others can enjoy.










Keys to Framing

Your

Prophetic Destiny

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.  And God saw the light, that [it was] good: and God divided the light from the darkness.  And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day (Genesis 1:1 -5).


Genesis Chapter 1 paints a picture of the earth and the deep prior to creation.  The Earth was without form. It was in a confused state. It was a wilderness and a place of chaos.  The Earth was empty.  The Earth had no frame or clear form.  The Earth was void of organization and lacked the basic essentials to display an articulate image of itself.  It lacked the ability to produce.  It was a desolate place.  In essence, the essential character of the Earth was not visible.  Alongside of desolate Earth, existed the deep that was deficient of light.  Both were entities operating outside prophetic destiny.  Nevertheless, the Earth was meant to be a conduit for man to carry out the purpose and plan of God, and a place of productivity.  The water destined to be a source of refreshment, growth, and life.
As I describe the condition of the earth and the deep, you may see yourself or certain aspects of your life or someone else’s life in the same condition.  If this is the case, we have to begin asking significant questions:  How does one move from a place deficient of light?  How does one move from a place of apathy and complacency?  How does one move from a place of misery, and continual misfortune?  How does one move from a place of complete and utter chaos?
Over the next few pages we will explore, in short, the fundamental keys for moving from a place of frustration and lack into your prophetic destiny.  Through your trust and confidence towards God, you must learn to cultivate an atmosphere for the Holy Spirit to manifest.  Subsequently, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit you must be able to speak the Word of God accurately.
The Word of God acts as a streetlight in the midst of your “moments of darkness” and allows you to see clearly the path God has designed for you.  Ultimately, as you imitate the blueprint witnessed at creation, you release the creative power of the God of Creation, Elohim, for prophetic destiny.










PRACTICAL APPLICATION
As you decree and declare, there are foundational, scriptural principles necessary for successful application of this resource.
Pray to the Father as Jesus instructed his disciples to do in Matthew 6:9


After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.


Pray in the name of Jesus, based on the following scriptures: John 14:13; John 14:1; John 15:16; John 16:23-26


And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John. 14:13).


Pray in faith with a forgiving heart.
Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses (Mark. 11:24-25).


When you decree and declare, you are stating emphatically and authoritatively an order, directive, or command enforced by God’s covenant promises.  As you decree and declare the Word, two principles are in operation:


By His own agreement, God obligates Himself to fulfill His promises (Matthew 18:19-20).
When you exercise your God given authority through the Word, it neutralizes the enemy (Matthew. 16:19).


The following is an example of praying or declaring the Word:


Sing unto the Lord a new song, and His praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof (Isaiah 42:10).


Prophetic Decree:
(A simple definition for a prophetic decree is communicating by the leading of the Holy Spirit, and with inherit authority the heart and mind of God at the opportune moment for maximum Kingdom results.)


We sing unto the Lord a new song and His praise from our region.  We sing a song in our region that has never been heard.  The song that You give us shall pierce the darkness and open the windows, gates, and portals of heaven for the King of glory to come in perpetually.
Or
We decree and declare that a new song and praise be released to the Lord from our region.  We decree and declare that a song be released from our region that has never been heard. We decree and declare it will pierce the darkness and open the windows, gates, and portals of heaven for the King of Glory to come in perpetually.


Use the scriptures referenced at the bottom of each prayer to help you begin to know what God is saying.  Then, find additional scriptures. Take the time to look up the words in a Bible concordance, Bible dictionary, and regular dictionary for further understanding. As you read, be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.  If a particular Word or phrase seems to stand out more than others, stop there and ask the Holy Spirit what He wants to reveal or say to you. This will assist you in writing your own prophetic decrees.
Take time to meditate on the words, phrases, or passages the Holy Spirit highlights to you.  To meditate simply means to think about the words, phrases, or passages continually and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you further.  You may recite the words, phrases, or passages repeatedly or picture them in your mind while praying in the Spirit.  The key is to place yourself in a position for the Father to speak to your heart.
The prayers in this book were derived from my intimate conversations with the Father.  As you prayerfully decree, declare, and meditate on the prayers in this book, I pray you are stirred to develop a deeper level of conversational intimacy with Him.  I challenge you to begin to frame your prophetic destiny through your own conversations with the Father.







































The First Watch










God’s Divine Order
We declare we will exercise DOMINION, rulership, ownership, and control in every area under the mandate you have given us. We declare the sovereign rule of Christ in our lives and over every area to which the Lord gives us authority and influence. We declare land ownership for Kingdom cultivation purposes.
We declare that we are a FRUITFUL people. Therefore, we declare an increase leading to beneficial, profitable, abundant results, and growth for the Kingdom of God in our lives.  We declare a grace upon our lives, which comes through Jesus Christ, that is conducive for productivity. We declare that we are abounding in fruit.
We declare the principle of MULTIPLICATION is active in us through the creative Word of God.  We declare that we are GREAT people for the Kingdom of God. We declare that we increase and multiply exceedingly and that we are strong Kingdom citizens.  We declare that we increase and multiply in our substance in every area, thereby eliminating lack.
We actively REPLENISH every person, place or thing we come in contact with through the power of the Holy Spirit. We declare that we live life to the full until it overflows because of Christ.  We declare that we are accomplished according to the order of God’s ORIGINAL INTENTION and DIVINE ORDER.  We declare that we are a consecrated people and our hands are full of supply.  We are complete and satisfied.  We declare that we mutually fill each other’s gaps and attack with united strength every empty place. We declare that we bring fresh oil, and an authentic supply through the authority of Christ.  We declare that we are a people who inspire and nourish others.
Through our passion for Christ, we impose Kingdom mandates wherever we go. We repress and destroy every thought, idea, activity, and action contrary to the counsel of God by the Authority conferred upon us in Christ. We declare we are overcomers in every aspect of our lives.  Every place You send us, we declare Your Kingdom come and Your counsel be established.  We expand the Kingdom of God and restrain the kingdom of darkness.  We shatter the bands of injustice, disengage intense difficulties, and declare the deliverance of the afflicted.  We bring every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.  By the superior force found in the name and blood of Jesus Christ, we overpower every adversary!
We declare that every confused, empty place, every area that lacks a coherent image, formal structure, orderly arrangement, or divine set order, begin to produce and operate according to God’s original intention. We declare that every gap, ineffectual, obscure, dark place receive the wind, breath, and mind of God.  We declare that the breath of God is moving, and imparting energy, executive and administrative power, and Shekinah glory. We declare that the breath of God is releasing and creating an atmosphere for the creative Word of God to bring about restoration, order, harmony, and wholeness according to God’s original purpose.
We declare that every valley be lifted and filled up, and every mountain and hill is made low.  We decree and declare that every crooked and uneven place is made straight and level, and the rough places a plain.  We declare that the glory of the Lord shall be revealed in our lives, in our families, in our ministry, in the Body of Christ, in our city, in our state, in our country, in our nation, and in our world.
We agree with the Word which declares we are blessed!  We are blessed to PROSPER, PRODUCE, FILL THE EARTH, and TAKE OVER wherever we go!
Father, we are looking for You and expecting You to respond.  We linger for and eagerly anticipate You to advance on our behalf in order that we may pass through, transform, mature, and spring forth again with KINGLY DOMINION.
We seal this prayer in the name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.


Scripture References: Genesis 1:2; Hebrews 11:3; Hebrews 1:2-3; Genesis 1:26-28; Genesis 27:40; Hebrews 4:9-10; Isaiah 40: 4-5


Prayers to Frame your Prophetic Destiny

Worksheet

(This may be used as a guide to help you begin to frame your destiny.)
My personal Conversation with the Father regarding:


Discover what the Word of God says about:


Search out and write down the verses in the Bible that mention the word(s), phrase(s), or concept(s):



How are these word(s), phrase(s), or concept(s) applicable to you, your family, your church, your community, or your nation?



What do you want to say to the Father about what He has said?



Take a moment to meditate on the Word(s) that seem more pronounced to you as you read what God has to say.  After meditating on what He has said, what do you hear the Holy Spirit speaking to your Heart?  Take the Scriptures you found, along with what the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart, and use them to change and frame your destiny:






The Second Watch


Draw Me
Your love is better than wine,
Your name is like perfume poured out,
Draw me and I will run after You;
You who my soul loves.


I am humbled by Your love,
Your love waves like a banner over me,
It protects and comforts me,
You are beautiful, my delight.


I will rejoice in You when I remember Your love,
For You cause me to grow in deep and difficult places.
Altogether lovely,
Chief among ten thousand to my soul.


I am my Beloved's,
His desire is toward me.
 He sings,
Come away my love,
Your winter has past.




Scripture Reference: Song of Solomon 1


Prayers to Frame your Prophetic Destiny

Worksheet

(This may be used as a guide to help you begin to frame your destiny.)
My personal Conversation with the Father regarding:


Discover what the Word of God says about:




Search out and write down the verses in the Bible that mention the word(s), phrase(s), or concept(s):





How are these word(s), phrase(s), or concept(s) applicable to you, your family, your church, your community, or your nation?













What do you want to say to the Father about what He has said?





Take a moment to meditate on the Word(s) that seem more pronounced to you as you read what God has to say.  After meditating on what He has said, what do you hear the Holy Spirit speaking to your Heart?  Take the Scriptures you found, along with what the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart, and use them to change and frame your destiny:
























Arise and Shine
Arise and shine for the Lord has come, and the Glory of the Lord has risen upon you.  Arise! Go Forward!  Arise!  Go Forward!
Arise in your thinking!  Go forward in your actions!  In your going forward, I will send help from My sanctuary.  This is your day, and this is your time.  I have given you a future and a hope.  Mature in your confidence toward Me.  I am giving you a portion that you may increase and flourish.
Stand up in a hostile sense.  Openly oppose and resist.  Take an offensive position against your enemy.  Walk in My power.  Cause My Word to come on the scene.  Preserve yourself from failure and rejection through the Word.  Maintain your position in the face of attack.  Continue in and sustain a life of victory.
Agree with My Word that you may be firm and stable. Then, you will increase, multiply, bring into existence My promises, and your position will be made favorable.  Have I not spoken and will I not bring it to pass?  Your agreement with My Word will bring about an outward sign.  You will be empowered to bring about results, and a distinctive impression, so My very essence is revealed and persists.


Scripture References: Isaiah 60










Prayers to Frame your Prophetic Destiny

Worksheet

(This may be used as a guide to help you begin to frame your destiny.)
My personal Conversation with the Father regarding:


Discover what the Word of God says about:


Search out and write down the verses in the Bible that mention the word(s), phrase(s), or concept(s):



How are these word(s), phrase(s), or concept(s) applicable to you, your family, your church, your community, or your nation?



What do you want to say to the Father about what He has said?



Take a moment to meditate on the Word(s) that seem more pronounced to you as you read what God has to say.  After meditating on what He has said, what do you hear the Holy Spirit speaking to your Heart?  Take the Scriptures you found, along with what the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart, and use them to change and frame your destiny:






Be Restored
When you make the decision to come and drink from My fountain and lay prostrate before Me, you will see My original intent and divine activity. In the place by Me, you will conceive what is predetermined, and inevitable.  Come and see what I have purposed.  I will accomplish what I set out to perform. As you surrender to me, you will produce fruit that will remain.  Allow Me to prepare you.  I am attending to you and putting your life in order because you are Mine.
As you lay before Me, you will give birth to every purpose and plan.  I will bring forth!  I will deliver!  It is I that impregnates!  It is I that causes growth! It is I that brings forth and delivers!  Surrender to the process that I may bring about what I have ordained.
In this time, I will rebuild what was destroyed.  I will heal every injury and make you whole again.  Everything that was stripped and spoiled, I will restore.  From the remains you will rise.  I will give you beauty for ashes. Out of the heap will rise one that I have formed and fashioned for My purpose.  It is I that heals you. If I heal a thing, is it not healed?  If I restore a thing, is it not restored?  BE HEALED!  BE RESTORED!


Scriptural References: Psalm 51:12; Isaiah 61:3; Jeremiah 30:17; Joel 2:26






Prayers to Frame your Prophetic Destiny

Worksheet

(This may be used as a guide to help you begin to frame your destiny.)
My personal Conversation with the Father regarding:


Discover what the Word of God says about:


Search out and write down the verses in the Bible that mention the word(s), phrase(s), or concept(s):



How are these word(s), phrase(s), or concept(s) applicable to you, your family, your church, your community, or your nation?



What do you want to say to the Father about what He has said?



Take a moment to meditate on the Word(s) that seem more pronounced to you as you read what God has to say.  After meditating on what He has said, what do you hear the Holy Spirit speaking to your Heart?  Take the Scriptures you found, along with what the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart, and use them to change and frame your destiny:








 The Day of Release
THIS IS THE DAY OF RELEASE.  In My covenant there is provision for your release.  My eyes have been on you, so shall the light of My Word shine out of your darkness.  I have numbered and established your days.  You will live before Me all the days of your life because I have placed a shield around you.
Today I extend My promise of release through the blood of the everlasting covenant.  It is a covenant of peace, and whoever will come under this covenant will enjoy tranquility.  I placed you in a position to surround you, and guard you because I am your protector, defender, and your military force.
Have I not said, “Those who seek will find, and those who knock, the door will be open?”  I have placed an open door before you that you may walk before Me in peace and victory.


Scripture References: Numbers 25:12; Isaiah 54; Ezekiel 34:11-31; Hebrews 13:20-21


















Prayers to Frame your Prophetic Destiny

Worksheet

(This may be used as a guide to help you begin to frame your destiny.)
My personal Conversation with the Father regarding:


Discover what the Word of God says about:


Search out and write down the verses in the Bible that mention the word(s), phrase(s), or concept(s):



How are these word(s), phrase(s), or concept(s) applicable to you, your family, your church, your community, or your nation?



What do you want to say to the Father about what He has said?



Take a moment to meditate on the Word(s) that seem more pronounced to you as you read what God has to say.  After meditating on what He has said, what do you hear the Holy Spirit speaking to your Heart?  Take the Scriptures you found, along with what the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart, and use them to change and frame your destiny:








 The Promise of a River
My desire is toward you.  Can you discern the breath of My eager pursuit of you?  My love for you is perpetual, and unending. With My constant goodness, kindness, faithfulness, and abiding favor, I have seized you as My own, to establish, recreate, and cause you to continue.  In this season, you will advance and quicken your pace.
You will plant spiritual vineyards where people may drink of the new wine of My Spirit.  I am raising up true watchmen that will bring My people to a place where they may commune with Me.  There is a people who have stayed relentlessly on their ward to see and watch for Me.  This is My remnant.
I will bring them, draw them, and gather them together as a shepherd gathers his sheep to nourish and protect.  They will come. From this people will flow a stream, a river that flows from My throne into the Earth.
This people, My people will walk before Me with clean hands and pure hearts because of their intimacy with Me, because of My covenant, and because of My Name by which I have called them.
Then a song will arise in Zion that will cause the radiance of My Son to shine and the river of My Spirit to flow.  The Light of My Son will warm the coldest of hearts, and the river will water the faint and thirsty souls of My beloved.  This people will I abundantly satisfy with Myself.  I have heard the cries of repentance and have seen the longing heart and My desire is toward them.


Prayers to Frame your Prophetic Destiny

Worksheet

(This may be used as a guide to help you begin to frame your destiny.)
My personal Conversation with the Father regarding:


Discover what the Word of God says about:


Search out and write down the verses in the Bible that mention the word(s), phrase(s), or concept(s):



How are these word(s), phrase(s), or concept(s) applicable to you, your family, your church, your community, or your nation?



What do you want to say to the Father about what He has said?



Take a moment to meditate on the Word(s) that seem more pronounced to you as you read what God has to say.  After meditating on what He has said, what do you hear the Holy Spirit speaking to your Heart?  Take the Scriptures you found, along with what the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart, and use them to change and frame your destiny:






The Third Watch
















Prayers to Frame your Prophetic Destiny

Worksheet

(This may be used as a guide to help you begin to frame your destiny.)
My personal Conversation with the Father regarding:


Discover what the Word of God says about:


Search out and write down the verses in the Bible that mention the word(s), phrase(s), or concept(s):



How are these word(s), phrase(s), or concept(s) applicable to you, your family, your church, your community, or your nation?



What do you want to say to the Father about what He has said?



Take a moment to meditate on the Word(s) that seem more pronounced to you as you read what God has to say.  After meditating on what He has said, what do you hear the Holy Spirit speaking to your Heart?  Take the Scriptures you found, along with what the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart, and use them to change and frame your destiny:





A Word to California
California would not be in your heart if it were not in My heart.  For not only is California in My heart, but also My eye is on California.  I will come upon that great state like a wave, in the south first, then in the north.  My spirit will move from both ends of the state toward the middle.  Though the enemy has set up a wicked platform, I will raise a righteous platform in California; a spiritual wave it will be called.


































A Prayer for California
We stand in the gap and repent on behalf of California.  Forgive us for our idolatrous ways.  Forgive us for the perversion that comes up before You from our state. Father, forgive us for possessing hearts filled with selfish-ambition, greed, and murder.  Cleanse us from defilement that has come through the spirit of death, the spirit of Molech, the love of Mammon, and the worship of idols.
Let the blood of Christ appease Your anger and advert the judgment You have determined for the State of California.  We apply the Blood of Christ over the entire state of California.  Father, remember Your covenantal roots that You have established in this great state.
We uproot, pull down, tear down, and destroy every evil root structure in the name of Jesus the Christ. In its place we build and plant in righteousness in the state of California through continual acts of righteousness.  We declare that the earth of California is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world, and they that dwell in California.  We declare this is the generation of them who seek You, and seek Your face.
As the believers in California intercede from our place in Christ Jesus, who is head of all things, we declare the principalities and powers over this state will NOT be able to subdue the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Awaken and ignite an unquenchable flame of Your Spirit in the hearts and minds of those in this generation that would blaze down to a thousand generations.
Father, we ask You to use us to unite the believers in this area, so You can allow us to birth forth an awakening that leads to worldwide revival.
In the Name of Jesus the Christ.  Amen.


Scripture Reference: Ps. 24:16








































Prayers to Frame your Prophetic Destiny

Worksheet

(This may be used as a guide to help you begin to frame your destiny.)
My personal Conversation with the Father regarding:


Discover what the Word of God says about:




Search out and write down the verses in the Bible that mention the word(s), phrase(s), or concept(s):





How are these word(s), phrase(s), or concept(s) applicable to you, your family, your church, your community, or your nation?















 The Enemies Strategy–Conspiracies
Oftentimes in different facets of our lives, we find ourselves surrounded by an invisible force field that seems impenetrable.  At other times, the people we work with cannot work together in harmony for no apparent reason or for some insignificant reason.  In those times, it is vital to seek direction from God and gain spiritual insight and strategy from the Holy Spirit.
Oftentimes the enemy uses spiritual strategies to distract, detain, and ultimately destroy the divine purposes of God for our lives. One of his tactics is to use conspiracies.  A conspiracy is a plot, plan, or scheme operating in a covert manner producing division and schism between individuals, groups, ministries, nations, etc.
After reading 2 Chronicles 24 and seeing how conspiracy led to the death of the priest Zechariah, and the execution of God’s judgment against Judah and Jerusalem, this prayer was inspired by the Holy Spirit to pray over the ministry where I serve.




















A Prayer against Conspiracies
We decree and declare that every conspiracy, coalition, collusion and secret alliance, known and unknown, meant to bring about division, schism and separation, be revealed and severed.
We decree and declare that every plot, covert scheme meant for our destruction be brought to naught.
We decree and declare that every secret agreement containing a harmful objective be broken by the power that is in the name of Jesus the Christ.
We decree and declare that every entity in the natural and spiritual realms operating with deceitful and treacherous intentions, be exposed, uprooted, and expelled.
We disassociate ourselves, our loved ones, our ministry, our pastor, our pastor’s wife, our pastor’s children, every intercessor, the Worship Arts Ministry, and the Production Ministry, from all unlawful unions, alliances, affiliations, integrations, and secret understandings.  Instead, we decree and declare that those who are willing to walk in cooperation and collaboration be drawn together to fulfill the divine purpose and destiny of God for our lives and for the ministry.
We sever every clique, connection, faction, federation, guild, partnership, and syndicate that has gathered together against us, our loved ones, our ministry, our pastor and his family, every Intercessor, the Worship Arts Ministry, and the Production Ministry.
We declare Isaiah 54:17


No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue [that] shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This [is] the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness [is] of me, saith the LORD.


We seal this prayer in the name of Jesus the Christ.  Amen!


Scripture Reference: 2 Chronicles 24













































Prayers to Frame your Prophetic Destiny

Worksheet

(This may be used as a guide to help you begin to frame your destiny.)
My personal Conversation with the Father regarding:


Discover what the Word of God says about:


Search out and write down the verses in the Bible that mention the word(s), phrase(s), or concept(s):



How are these word(s), phrase(s), or concept(s) applicable to you, your family, your church, your community, or your nation?



What do you want to say to the Father about what He has said?



Take a moment to meditate on the Word(s) that seem more pronounced to you as you read what God has to say.  After meditating on what He has said, what do you hear the Holy Spirit speaking to your Heart?  Take the Scriptures you found, along with what the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart, and use them to change and frame your destiny:

Monday, November 26, 2012

The 13: Fall by Robbie Cheuvront and Erik Reed

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Barbour Books (September 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Sharon Farnell for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Robbie Cheuvront is the worship/associate pastor and an elder of The Journey Church in Lebanon, TN, and cofounder of C&R Ministries with Erik Reed.  He is also a songwriter and formerly tour with BNA recording artists, Lonestar who is best known for their crossover smash, “Amazed”, which was #1 on Billboard Magazine’s Hot 100. The band also won 1999 ACM’s Single of the Year” for “Amazed” as well as ACM’s Song of the Year award. Robbie is married to Tiffany and has two children, Cason and Hadyn, and is currently pursuing a theology degree.

Visit the author's website.

Erik Reed is the lead pastor and an elder of The Journey Church in Lebanon, TN.  He graduated from Western Kentucky University with a BA in Religion Studies.  He also graduated with his MDiv from Southern Seminary.  Erik is married to Katrina, with two children, Kaleb and Kaleigh.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

When former black ops specialist turned CIA operative Jonathan Keene is summoned to the White House, he’s not sure what to expect. And neither does FBI agent Megan Taylor.  Together they learn they’ll be working with a former military chaplain Boz Hamilton to track down a man claiming to bear a message from God about the imminent downfall of the United States. As the three of them traverse the country and the globe in search of the Prophet, they’re led deeper down a path of deception and dead ends. Suddenly they’re called to join a battle against an enemy no one saw coming.  As the US is pushed into a situation it hasn’t seen since its inception, a conflict awaits that will test the foundations of the country…and force Keene to face a past and faith he’d rather leave buried. Can Keene—and America—survive?


Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (September 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616267690
ISBN-13: 978-1616267698



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


THE CLOCK ON THE WALL TICKED DOWN THE SECONDS
AS HE STARED INTO THE CAMERA.

This was it. In a matter of minutes, his life would change. Everyone’s life
would change.
He rehearsed his lines, though he knew them by heart. There would be
no teleprompter. There would be no script. There would only be him. And
the camera, of course. And the person who would receive this message.
A small television sat off to the side, monitoring the feed. He could see
his image staring back at him. He watched as the second hand ticked off
the final seconds. Tick. Tick. And then it was time.
The red light above the lens flicked on. With the remote in his hand,
he zoomed in and watched the monitor. This was it. No turning back.
He closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath and let it out
again. His heart was pounding through his chest. He opened his eyes and
set his jaw firm. And then he began.
“Good evening, Mr. President. I am the Prophet. And I have been
commanded to give you a message.”






Prologue
H i d a l g o C o u n t y S h e r i f f ’ s D e p a r t m e n t
E d i n b u r g , Te x a s , J u l y 2 , 2 0 2 5 ; 1 0 : 3 0 a . m .


Becky Sayers looked at the discolored, flat-screen plasma TV and silently
cursed her boss. “You’d think in this world of technology, we could find a
TV that wasn’t made before I was born,” she mumbled to no one. “I mean,
this thing’s not even in 3-D.” A rerun of Everybody Loves Raymond was
playing—the one in which Raymond fakes going to the doctor so he can
play golf. She’d seen it at least four times, but it was one of her favorites.


She pushed back from her desk and stretched her legs. The switchboard
had been quiet most of the afternoon. A few drunk-and-disorderlies and a
domestic dispute. The holiday weekend usually meant a boring few days
at the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department. But even though Hidalgo
County seemed like half a world away from Washington, DC, the impact of
the last two weeks’ events were being felt. It seemed that everyone was waiting
to see what would happen next.


The green light flashed on her board. She placed the earpiece in
her ear and said, “Thank you for calling the Hidalgo County Sheriff ’s
Department. This is Becky. . . .”


The caller made her complaint and hung up abruptly. Her neighbors
were setting off illegal fireworks; could a deputy come by and take care of it?
All of south Texas had experienced a horrible drought these last few months.
The governor had issued a decree, suspending all fireworks throughout the
entire state. Residents weren’t happy, but they understood. Brushfires this
time of year were common and could lead to damage in the billions of dollars.


Becky keyed her microphone. “Roy, this is Becky. I need you to go out
to Ms. Dobson’s farm, out on Highway 83. Neighbor kids are shootin’ off
sparklers or something.”
She waited for the grumpy complaint that was sure to come. Roy
hated dealing with neighborly disputes. He always tried to pawn them off
on one of the other deputies.
Nothing.
  “Roy, this is Becky—come in.”
Nothing.
“Roy! I ain’t playing! Pick up that radio or else!”
Still nothing.
She switched over to another channel. She couldn’t figure why one
of her deputies would switch channels, but she was starting to get a little
worried. Roy was dependable, if nothing else. He’d never not answered a
call while he was out in the field.
“Roy, this is Becky. You change channels on me to try and get some
R and R?”
Nothing.
Now she was getting worried. She switched the channel back. “Clay,
this is dispatch. Check in—over.”
Nothing.
“Marcus, check in—over.”
Nothing.
She walked down the hall and found her boss, told him what was
going on, and waited for a response. He told her not to worry. It was probably
just weather related. “Probably a sunspot or something, messin’ with
the radios,” he said. “Try again in a few minutes.”
Back at her desk, she waited, watching the end of the show. As the
credits rolled she picked up her microphone. After five minutes of going
through the motions again, she decided this was no sunspot.
She grabbed the phone and called the Cameron County Sheriff ’s
office—the next county over. She told them what was going on and asked
if they were having any trouble. Gina, the dispatcher over there, said none
of her deputies had checked in or returned back to HQ either.
Becky hung up and called Star, Zapata, and Webb Counties. All three
reported the same goings-on. At that point, she dismissed paranoia and
called the state police. She was told that they, too, had a few officers who
weren’t responding, but all of the state police vehicles were equipped with
GPS and were being located as they spoke. The young man at state police
HQ offered to send a few officers her way to check on her deputies as well.
She thanked him and told him where her deputies were last known to be.


July 4, 2025; 12:00 p.m.
Becky stood in front of her fourth TV camera in the last hour and told
her story again. This time it was Fox. NBC and CBS had already been by.


The mysterious disappearance of her deputies two days ago was making
national news. Several sheriff ’s deputies, border patrol agents, and state
and local police officers had all turned up dead, all across the border towns
in Texas. Over the last two days, New Mexico and Arizona had reported
similar tragedies.
Becky was one of the first to discover the disappearances across the
border, therefore she was a hot commodity with the news anchors.
The pretty, blond reporter smiled and nodded as Becky told her story.
She opened her mouth—Becky figured she was about to ask another
question—and then slapped her hand over her left earbud. Her smiled
faded and gave way to a look of disbelief, shock, then horror. Tears filled
her eyes and her face turned ashen. Her arm dropped to her side, taking
the microphone with it.
“What’s wrong?” Becky had never seen a television personality act like
this.
The reporter turned to her, eyes wide. She moved her mouth but
nothing came out.
Becky grabbed the woman by her shoulders and shook her. “Hey,
what’s wrong?”
The reporter looked at Becky blankly and said, “Bomb. . . They’re all
dead.” Her knees gave out, and she slumped to the hard, dry ground.
Becky ran back inside to the flat-screen TV.


Hidalgo County, Texas
July 4, 2025; 11:30 a.m.
Jonathan Keene pulled his car off the road onto the dirt path, according
to the directions he’d been given. After a mile, he came to the fork in the
road. Up ahead, on the left, there stood the house.
He parked the car, got out, and surveyed the area. Nothing. No sign
of anyone. The house was a typical single-family home. It needed a coat
of paint, and the railing on the front porch had seen better days. The lawn
was unkempt, but a somewhat new-looking satellite dish sat mounted on
the corner of the roof.
Walking into the house, he noticed the reflection of light coming
from the hillside off to his left. He waited ten minutes. Then, as per his
instructions, he left through the back door and walked slowly up the hill
toward the reflection.
Once at the top, he got to his knees, placed his hands behind his head,
and interlocked his fingers. This was the unsettling part. Out in the open.
No cover. The sun blazing in his eyes. The wind blowing dust everywhere.
It was hard to see anything past twenty feet. He did feel better, though,
knowing that strapped to his back, under his loose shirt, was his Glock
9mm. It lay inches from his fingertips.
After nothing for five minutes, he heard the faint hum of motorcycle
engines. Within seconds he was surrounded by a half dozen, armed
Mexicans. One, covered with tattoos and a scar across his left cheek,
moved toward him. According to the description he’d been given, this was
his informant.
“Hola,” the young man said. “Welcome to Mexico.”
Though the walk uphill had been a short one, Keene knew that in
doing so, he’d illegally crossed the invisible border into the gangbanger’s
country.
“Gracias.” Keene shifted uncomfortably and squinted upward. “You
must be Hector.”
“Do I need to search you?”
“Not unless you want to find the nine mil I got strapped to my back,”
Keene said.
Hector laughed. “Stand up.”
“So what’s so important that you need to talk to the CIA?”
“Follow me.” Hector began walking down the hill toward the house.
Keene followed the men back into the house, thankful to be back on
sovereign US soil.
“I know what happened to those sheriff ’s deputies,” Hector said.
“Yeah, so. Call the police.”
“Nah, CIA, la policía don’t want none of this.”
“None of what?”
“That’s a nice watch. Where was that made? China?”
“Yeah,” Keene said. “What’s that have to do with anything?”
“Lots of stuff in your country made by China.”
“Yeah, so?”
“Funny thing. In the last two months, I been seeing lots of Chinese
people ’round here.”
“Maybe they like the food.”
“Maybe,” Hector answered. “But these Chinese been coming in
droves. In big military trucks. From down south.”
“Interesting.” Keene gave this some thought.
“You want to know what’s really interesting?”
Keene shrugged.
  “These Chinese, they got guns.”
“So?”
“And tanks. And airplanes.”
“What?”
“You heard me. They got an army down here. They been bringing it
up here to the border for the last two months.”
“Impossible. We would’ve known about it,” Keene said. This guy was
unnerving him.
“You wanna know what happened to your cops? About three hundred
Chinese foot soldiers, with automatic weapons, crossed your border and
took them out. I got boys all up and down the border saying they see it,
man. Now, I don’t know what’s up with a hundred thousand Chinese
being in my—”
“What did you say? How many?”
“From what I hear, about a hundred thousand.”
Keene’s jaw went slack. There was no way a hundred thousand Chinese
soldiers were living across the border without the United States knowing
about it. Something was wrong.
“You look like you seen a ghost.”
“Why are you telling me this? Why now? Why not two months ago?”
“ ’Cause two months ago, I couldn’ta cared less. You Americans don’t
know what goes on down here. You come to your vacation spots and get
treated like kings. Then you go back home and don’t care what happens
to the rest of us. Well, guess what? These Chinese start showing up and
doing nice things for our communities. Nobody says anything ’cause they
like it. Then, without warning, they start taking over. And our policía don’t
care. They getting paid off. Next thing I know, I start seeing guns, tanks,
and fighter planes. And then they come into town and line up five men
and shoot them in the head. They say, anyone talks or tries to do anything,
they kill the whole town.”
“This is—this is ridiculous!” Keene said. “I don’t know what your
game is, but this isn’t funny. You could get into a lot of trouble—”
“I ain’t playin’!” Hector shouted angrily. “They kill my little brother,
man! And something bad is about to happen! I’m telling you as a favor.”
He hung his head and wiped his eyes. “I don’t know why your government
don’t know about this, CIA, but I’m telling you. Someone had to mess up
big to miss this.”
Keene stood there dumbfounded. There was no way this could be
true. An entire army couldn’t march on the United States’ border and not
be detected. He had to call Jennings. He reached for his phone and felt the
buzz against his leg. He looked at the display. Funny, he thought.
“I was just getting ready to call you,” he spoke into the mouthpiece.
“Get back here immediately,” his boss, Kevin Jennings, ordered.
“Yeah, about that,” Keene said, “I think I need to stay here awhile.
I need to check something out.”
“No, you need to get back here immediately. Turn on the TV.”
“What’s happened?”
“Just do it!” came the reply.
Keene pushed past the group of men and pushed the button on the
television sitting on a makeshift stand. It only took a few moments for him
and the others to see what was happening.
Every channel had interrupted programming, now covering the
breaking news. Plumes of black smoke rose into the sky from devastated
buildings. Bridges and highways melted into a pile of searing red metal.
Ash and debris covered the entire landscape. Cars were turned over and
blown to bits. Then the camera changed. A new city. Same result. Then
another. Then another. Finally the images ended. The cameras returned
to the news station. A disheveled-looking man in blue jeans and a sweater
sat in front of the camera. He opened his mouth and said the words that
would change the course of history.
“Ladies and gentlemen, less than ten minutes ago, the entire West
Coast of the United States of America was attacked. It appears to be a
nuclear strike. Every major city from San Diego to Seattle. The death toll
has to be in the millions. . . .”



Chapter 1
Two Weeks Earlier
The man sat in front of the small camera, rehearsing what he was about to
say. Behind him, the wall was dotted with computer monitors, all displaying
different news websites, with the screens zoomed in showing today’s
date. A bead of sweat rolled down the side of his cheek as he bit into his
lower lip, trying to calm himself. He was moments away from doing something
that couldn’t be undone.
He’d wrestled with himself the last three days, knowing what would
happen if he didn’t do as he was instructed. He’d cried out in desperation,
begging that he wouldn’t have to be the one. He’d even tried to bargain his
way out of it. But it was no use. This would be done. If not him then someone
else. But no. It was his charge. Given to him with explicit instructions.
He would be obedient and do as he was instructed.
The clock on the wall ticked down the seconds as he stared into
the camera. This was it. In a matter of minutes, his life would change.
Everyone’s life would change.
He rehearsed his lines, though he knew them by heart. There would be
no teleprompter. There would be no script. There would only be him. And
the camera, of course. And the person who would receive this message.
A small television sat off to the side, monitoring the feed. He could
see his image staring back at him. He watched as the second hand ticked
off the final seconds. Tick. Tick. And then it was time.
The red light above the lens flicked on. With the remote in his hand,
he zoomed in and watched the monitor. This was it. No turning back.
He closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath and let it out
again. His heart was pounding through his chest. He opened his eyes and
set his jaw firm. And then he began.
“Good evening, Mr. President. I am the Prophet. And I have been
commanded to give you a message.”


Chapter 2
The sun had begun to set over Washington, DC, as the streets bustled
with the commuters going home from work. Slivering rays of light pierced
their way through the buildings, making way for the cool early summer
breeze that wound its way off the Potomac and into the city streets. Soon
the breeze would give way to the hot midsummer. Soon you would be able
to see, as well as feel, the heat wafting up from the pavement, making DC
inhabitants wistful for the pleasantries of June.
The president was just a few minutes away from giving his highly anticipated
speech on health-care reform. Rarely did a president call together both
chambers of Congress for the purpose of an address to the nation outside of
the State of the Union address. But since President Calvin Grant had taken
office, it had been one of his major priorities to put an end to all of the
infighting with the health-care industry once and for all. This speech was
to be the exclamation point at the end of a three-year, grueling bipartisan
reform effort. Though it was no secret that the president had been working
on the new policy, details of it were. The only thing that had been leaked
so far had been the fact that President Grant had successfully achieved what
none of his three predecessors could, a comprehensive bill with regulation
that all parties agreed upon. Outside of that, not even a hint of what was
to come had been available, which had every news anchor and pundit both
frustrated and in anticipation.
The news anchors outside the Capitol seemed to be in deep conversation
with their cameras, floating their ideas and predictions of what was to
come. And then, as if being led by a conductor, they all nodded in unison,
each to his respective camera, signifying the president’s speech was about
to begin.
Inside the chamber of the House of Representatives, significant leaders,
from both parties, lined the aisleway, hoping to get a photo opportunity
with President Grant as he passed by. The room, as was typical for this
sort of event, was a cacophony of noise as everyone continued conversations
and settled in. Finally the outer doors to the House chamber swung
open, and the sergeant at arms entered. Immediately the room quieted, as
if someone flipped a switch. Then came the announcement.
“Mr. Speaker, the president of the United States!”
As was traditional, the room was again flooded with noise as the members
of the Senate and House, along with everyone else in attendance,
stood and applauded as the president slowly made his way to the floor of
the chamber, shaking hands, signing autographs, and posing for pictures
along the way. Finally, with the business of being sociable behind him,
President Grant held his hands up to quiet the almost eight-minute opening
ovation.
Only a few moments later and the speech was in full swing, and the
president had wasted no time in commanding the attention of the entire
nation. So far, the speech had lived up to its expectations. With the news
of his wife being diagnosed with cancer only a few weeks earlier, he was
expected to deliver a stunning blow to the health-care reformers. And with
the content of the speech being perhaps the closest-kept secret in all of
Washington, the entire room, as well as the rest of the country waited
on bated breath to hear what the president had to say. That and the fact
that President Grant was thought of as perhaps one of the most beloved
presidents in recent history, it was a sure bet that this address would go on
record as being one of the most viewed events in all of television history,
not just presidential history.
Homes all across the country were tuning in to hear what the president
would say. Ratings were already pouring in from all over the country.
Indeed, this was already a record-setting event. Within the first ten minutes,
the reports were already surpassing the collective quarterly ratings.
President Calvin Grant had the nation waiting on bated breath for his
next thought.
The speech was just over forty-five minutes when, just as promised,
President Grant landed his final blow. The news was simple. He had already
been working with members of Congress and had the support needed to
change the health-care system. His plan would strip away the potential for
many of the frivolous lawsuits that plagued the industry. New law was being
introduced to allow Americans unprecedented access to good health insurance.
And there were major stipulations being put on the insurance companies,
regulating how they underwrote policies and collected revenue. No
longer would there be massive abuses, deterioration of services, and rising
costs. The message was simple. There was about to be a complete overhaul
of the American medical system. An overhaul that would eliminate the
government-run policies of previous administrations and give the medical
field back to the private sector, but with some “seat belts,” as President Grant
liked to call it.
The speech ended in thunderous applause. And though there had
been some lines drawn previously in the speech between parties, the final
five minutes brought both sides of the chamber to their feet in rousing
cheers.
After the speech, President Grant made his way through the chamber,
once again pausing for photos and signing autographs. He tried to be as
pleasant as he could, but there were bigger things on his mind right now.
Tess, his wife, was at home, lying in bed. He wanted nothing more than to
get home and see how she felt.
After another fifteen minutes of meet-and-greet obligations, he finally
excused himself, reminding everyone where he really needed to be right
now. He asked the Secret Service agent in charge of his detail to make
ready the motorcade. He wanted to leave in the next few minutes.
The drive back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was quiet. He waved to
the guard as the car passed through the security entrance. Once inside, he
headed straight upstairs to the private residence.
Tess was lying in bed and greeted him with a huge smile.
“You were amazing, Calvin. I’m so proud of you.”
“Nah,” he brushed it off. “Just a bunch of no-good politicians trying
to make things worse is all we are!”
“I wish I could’ve been there.”
“Me, too, Tess,” he said, sitting down on the edge of the bed. He took
her hand in his and kissed it gently. “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” she said.
“I’ll leave you to rest,” he said, standing back up. “Besides, I’m going
to go surf the net and see all the good stuff they’re saying about me!” He
winked.
Tess smiled back at him and said, “Don’t stay up too late. You need
your rest.”
“Look who’s talking.”
He left her to sleep and stepped into his private office. He sat down and
turned on the monitor to wake up the computer. In just a few moments,
the desktop came alive. He opened a browser window and typed in his
search. Already, there were over twenty-five thousand results for his speech.
He was looking down the list when he heard a ding. His private e-mail.
He assumed it was one of his staff, congratulating him on a successful
speech. He decided to check it because, well, he thought at least one
positive response would be nice before he started sifting through all the
negative ones.
Opening the mail server he saw the new message. There was no
subject. There was no return address. He didn’t think much of it, so he
double-clicked the icon and watched it open. It was a video. And it definitely
wasn’t from one of his staff. But he was afraid that he knew who this
was. And what this was about. He had heard from this man before. Just
not like this. How did you get into my private e-mail? he thought. He stared
at the still image of the man on the screen. Should he call for Agent Green?
Should he just step away from the computer and not touch anything? No,
he decided. He wanted to see it. He pushed Play.
The man sat still on a stool and stared into the camera. A bead of sweat
rolled down his forehead and clung to the top of the bandana that covered
every inch of his face below the eyes. He wore a plain, long-sleeved, white
T-shirt and blue jeans. His shoes were everyday work boots. All in all, a
very nondescript, average-looking man—with the exception of the face, of
course. Behind him stood a white wall with what appeared to be computer
monitors with websites showing today’s date.
A few seconds, which might as well have been hours, passed as the
strange man closed his eyes and took a deep breath. As he opened his eyes
again, he began to speak.
“Good evening, Mr. President. I am the Prophet. And I have been
commanded to give you a message.”
The man swallowed hard and then continued, “I am a servant of the
Lord Most High. And I have been instructed to warn you. Since the days
of our forefathers, the United States has become a prosperous nation,
strong in her defenses. She has done great moral things in the name of
peace and freedom. She has been an open door for those who are in search
of something greater. And she has brought stability to the world.”
The man blinked hard and wiped the sweat from his brow.
“But,” he continued, “‘I have this against you,’ says the Lord. ‘That
you have abandoned the love you had at first.’
“Therefore, thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, the day of the Lord comes,
cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to
destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of the heavens and their constellations
will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the
moon will not shed its light. I will punish the world for its evil, and the
wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant,
and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless. I will make people more
rare than fine gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will
make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at
the wrath of the Lord of hosts in the day of his fierce anger. Behold, my
anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, upon man and beast,
upon the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; it will burn and not
be quenched.’
“Yet fourteen days, and the United States shall be overthrown!”

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