Sunday, October 31, 2010

50 dollar CardsDirect Gift Code Giveaway

 
It's time that again!

Time to start looking for Christmas cards...if you haven't already got them. And if you do have them, then you're probably the type to have them out right before Thanksgiving. I wish I could be that type...usually mine arrive the day after Christmas. oops.

But I'm hoping to change that this year! I actually already have mine, which If I would have known I was going to do this post and receive some free product* I would've waited. Now I think I will find some Thanksgiving cards or maybe some all purpose cards to keep on hand.

CardsDirect has a wide variety of quality cards available. You can find all occasion cards which include birthday, thank you and sympathy. Holiday cards - Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentines, and Easter. You can also find cards to share in those precious moments such as a wedding, baby announcements and graduation announcements.

I'm not lying when I say you can find just about anything here. It's a card wonderland. They have over 2000 designs. 2000, ya'll! And there are so many options for personalization - you an even include a custom imprinted verse. Oh my gosh, I forgot one of the best card options - photo cards. Who doesn't like putting little Susie and Johnny on the front? But you can also use them for business. Really it's whatever you like. CardsDirect offers an easy online ordering process and top quality cards with the best selection, customer service and pricing found anywhere.

So do you want to win? I thought so.

US entries only, as the company does not ship elsewhere. Sorry! Gift code can be used to redeem for twenty-five cards up to a $50 value.

To enter to win just leave me a comment telling me what type of cards you would purchase.

If you follow my blog (either by email or GFC) that can count as another entry. Just leave me a separate comment. 

Oh and please make sure I have a way to contact you - leaving your email in the comment is the best way.

Good Luck!



Giveaway ends November 21st at 11:59 PM EST. Winner will be chosen using Random.org.


*Dislaimer: I received a $50 gift code for personal use, as well as a $50 gift code for giveaway from Global Influence Network and CardsDirect.



Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Next Great Move of God - Book Review


This author Dr. LaSalle Vaughn has written The Next Great Move of God-Christians Returning To Their Hebraic Roots. This book asks the question, "Have you ever considered the Jewishness of Jesus?" Most Christians are well versed on the topic of salvation but never leave the foot of the cross. As a result, they are likely to live defeated lives and experience many years of struggle and frustration. The purpose of this book is to equip people to look at the Bible through Hebrew eyes, helping to understand the need to be obedient to the entire Bible in a daily walk.
"God is shaking the Church into a level of reality. One key for the Church in days ahead will be to understand the concept of "One New Man." Devour the pages ahead and watch your heart come alive to the Word and will of God in a new way."
- Dr. Chuck D. Pierce, President Global Spheres Inc., President Glory of Zion International, Harvest Watchman, Global Harvest Ministries

My thoughts:
I'll be the first to admit I don't know everything about the Bible. Heck, I don't think I could tell you a I know a lot about the Bible. There's a lot in there and I think every time I pick it up I learn something new.

I never thought about the difference in religions too much growing up. I was Protestant, someone down the road was Baptist, my cousin's mom was Catholic. Religion was everywhere and all I knew is there was one God whom we all loved.

It wasn't until I was older, probably late teens, that I thought to myself if Jesus was Jewish - why is is called Christianity and how can so many people hate Jews?

You want to know a secret? At 31, I still don't get it. The hating Jewish part. I'm beginning to see the pieces coming together regarding Jewish/Hebraic/Christianity.

I'm learning and growing in my faith and I read a lot of books (as you can tell from my multiple reviews). This book was something that interested me because I have some friends who are very much followers of the Torah.

What is the Torah you ask?

Yea, I asked that too.

The Torah is the primary document of Judaism. Torah, which means "teaching", is God's revealed instructions to the Jewish People. It teaches Jews how to act, think and even feel about life and death. - via About.com

This is something that is touched upon in this book. All of the Jewish roots to the Christian faith. There is so much information in this book it may be a little confusing at first. I would recommend keeping it and your Bible handy and if you want, take notes. We're not going to get every piece of the Bible the first time we read it. And I don't think we are suppose to.

You can read an excerpt from the book at http://www.thenextgreatmoveofgod.com/ and can either purchase the book there or at Amazon.com for approximately $10.70. I say approximate because I've seen it for as low as $9.63 and as much as $12. :)


*Disclaimer: This is a Mama Buzz review. The product was provided by: Dr. LaSalle Vaughn for this review. The opinion is my own*


Monday, October 25, 2010

The Miracle of Mercy Land - Book Review

What if you had the power to amend choices you made in the past? Would you do it even if it changed everything?

Summary:

Mercy Land has made some unexpected choices for a young woman in the 1930s. The sheltered daughter of a traveling preacher, she chooses to leave her rural community to move to nearby Bay City on the warm, gulf-waters of southern Alabama. There she finds a job at the local paper and spends seven years making herself indispensible to old Doc Philips, the publisher and editor. Then she gets a frantic call at dawn—it’s the biggest news story of her life, and she can’t print a word of it.

Doc has come into possession of a curious book that maps the lives of everyone in Bay City—decisions they’ve made in the past, and how those choices affect the future. Mercy and Doc are consumed by the mystery locked between the pages—Doc because he hopes to right a very old wrong, and Mercy because she wants to fulfill the book’s strange purpose. But when a mysterious stranger shows up, Mercy begins to understand she may have to choose between love and loneliness . . . or good and evil . . . for the rest of her life.

Author Bio:
 
RIVER JORDAN began her writing career as a playwright with the Loblolly Theatre group. She teaches and speaks nationwide on ‘The Power of Story’, is a monthly contributor to the southern authors’ collective A Good Blog is Hard To Find, and produces and hosts the weekly radio program CLEARSTORY with River Jordan, in Nashville, where she and her husband live. She is the author of Saints in Limbo and this is her fourth novel.

My thoughts:
Wow...now this was an interesting book. There were so many twists and turns. The characters are unique and draw you into their lives. The story was a little hard to get into at first, but after you're in - you are in. You want to know what's happening and what the outcome is going to be. It's a really great spiritual mystery. Highly recommended!


*Disclaimer: I was provided a book for review from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. The opinion stated above is my own.*


Sunday, October 24, 2010

DiamondEarrings.org Winner

We've got a winner for the DiamondEarrings.org giveaway! :)

And it's .... comment # 2










Tracey Quattlebaum

Congrats Tracey! I'm contacting you now for your mailing info. Enjoy!!


Bronzed Envy {review}

What is Bronzed Envy?

"Tan in a can!"
It's the next best thing to an airbrush tan! It will give you an instant tan/color right away AND also develops into a darker tan over the next few hours! This stuff Rocks and is a best seller!! Your very own jump start on Healthy looking beautiful skin!! Smart Tan In A Can is great for touch-ups after you are airburshed or the next best thing to an actual Bronzed Envy airbrush tan.

Ok, ya'll if you know me at all you know I try to be very positive and find something good about everything. And I'm trying...I promise I am.

I was given the chance to do a review on Bronzed Envy Can in a Tan. I'm going to be honest it took me awhile to be brave enough to try this product. I kept thinking what would happen if I put it on and something strange happened to my skin. I think that's why I waited this long (I've had it for about 2 months) - I knew that it's now jeans weather. I could so cover it up.

So yesterday we were all outside, the sun was shining the wind was blowing. Leaves were being raked and kids were running wild. I was feeling good and thinking I could do this.

So I did.

I started with my legs. I sprayed. Liquid ran. I shook my foot so that when I ran inside to get a towel it wouldn't get on my floor. So that's how I did - spray, wipe. And I thought it was doing ok. I was somewhat pleased with the results. So I did my arms. I was totally rocking a farmer's tan. But that's ok. I liked having some color. My skin is naturally pasty white. Seriously, I don't tan...AT ALL! I turn pink and burn. So this was a welcome change. :)

Now something to understand with this is it's an instant bronzer but then it also develops into a darker tan.

That is where my problem was.

So when night came, I went to bed. Only to wake up this morning with dark splotches and streaks. My husband had a tremendous laugh before heading off to work. I didn't think it was that funny.

As the kids were playing I took a hand full of baby wipes and started wiping - hard. It made a bit of a difference. So then I took a bath. A soaky bath using LOTS of soap and moisturizing body wash. After soaping, shaving, and scrubbing I think I'm going to be ok.

Now as I've had this bad experience I thought - What did I do wrong?

So I went to the website - http://www.bronzedenvy.com/ - and clicked on the product link where I found pictures and a video. The video is a demonstration of how you are suppose to apply the product.The girl (also the independent consultant) showed how she started at the face and did it in short spurts. Maybe that's what I did wrong? I dunno.

The other thing was the before and after picture was of the consultant. It would have been nice to see more pictures other than just her.

I'm not saying this won't work for you. It just wasn't my cup of tea. The color (where it wasn't streaked or spotted) that I did get was a nice tan - not at all orangish. So maybe if someone other than me was doing it it would look okay.


*Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge in return for a review. The opinions listed above are my own.*


Friday, October 22, 2010

A Million Ways to Die: The Only Way to Live - Book Review

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:

David C. Cook (October 1, 2010) 

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Rick James is a graduate of Syracuse University (BFA) and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M.Div.). He has served on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ for more than twenty-one years and is currently responsible for writing, producing, and marketing ministry resources to staff and students. He also serves as an adjunct to Research & Development as well as a major conference speaker. Rick has written most of the ministry’s recent material including Bible study and discipleship curriculum, devotionals, books, magazines, apologetics, and evangelistic tools. A Million Ways to Die is his third project which has been published outside of Campus Crusade. Rick and his wife, Katie, have three children and live in West Chester, Pennsylvania.


Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (October 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434702049
ISBN-13: 978-1434702043

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Better Off Dead


As the story goes, in 1972, a young Egyptian businessman lost his wristwatch, valued at roughly $11,000. That’s some wristwatch. It’s amazing that anyone who found it in the rough-and-tumble city of Cairo would have attempted to return it, and it’s shocking who did.


The city of Cairo has its own unique version of poverty called the Garbage City: a city in the sense that an ant farm is a city. The population of this slum lies somewhere between fifteen and thirty thousand people, though no one really knows for sure. Its name comes from the fact that it is both a garbage dump and home for the city’s garbage workers. Each morning at dawn some seven thousand garbage collectors on horse carts leave for Cairo, where they collect the many tons of garbage left behind by the city’s seventeen million waste-producing citizens. After their day’s work they return to the Garbage City, bringing the trash back to their homes, sorting out what’s useful, and living in and among what isn’t. In Muslim countries there are certain religious restrictions on sifting through refuse, so the inhabitants of the Garbage City are either nonreligious or of some kind of Christian heritage, typically Coptic. These are the poorest of the poor—outcasts among outcasts.


As you can imagine, it would be unthinkable to have such a valuable timepiece returned by a member of Garbage City. Yet when the wealthy businessman lost his watch, an old garbageman dressed in rags returned it, saying, “My Christ told me to be honest until death.”


Because of this act of obedience-faith-death-insanity, the Egyptian businessman later told a reporter, “I didn’t know Christ at the time, but I told [the garbageman] that I saw Christ in him. I told [him], ‘Because of what you have done and your great example, I will worship the Christ you are worshiping.’”


The man, true to his word, studied the Bible and grew in his faith. Soon he and his wife began ministering to Egypt’s physically and spiritually poor, leading thousands to Christ. In 1978, he was ordained by the Coptic Orthodox Church and is now known as Father Sama’an. Father Sama’an leads the largest church of believers in the entire Middle East; each week some ten thousand believers meet together in a large cave outside the Garbage City.


For this garbageman, returning the watch was not martyrdom, but it certainly was a kind of death. I’m sure everything in him wanted to keep that watch—everything except his heart, which wanted to keep Christ.1


In John 12:24 Jesus states that “unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” Beginning with his own death, what Jesus is describing here is the secret ingredient of kingdom growth. Death. Death is the fertilizer, the turf builder. The kingdom sprouts out of our daily choices to “die to ourselves.” You plant an $11,000 Rolex in the dirt and out of it grows the largest church in the Middle East. Our willingness to die to ourselves and carry our crosses every day indicates the mechanism of personal transformation and evangelistic growth.


This is not mysticism, poetics, or philosophical abstraction. This is reality. It’s as daily and as tangible as doing the dishes for someone when you don’t feel like doing the dishes for someone. Every act of dying, done in faith, generates life in some way whether we see it, recognize it, or simply take it by faith. And how do we spot the many possible ways that life might emerge through our little deaths? We can find these opportunities in just about anything our flesh tries to resist.


A COSMIC RESTRUCTURING


In 1962, Thomas Kuhn wrote a book titled The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In it Kuhn describes a fundamental change in basic assumptions, something so significant that it creates a whole new paradigm. Most people don’t remember the book, but for the last fifty years we have been haunted by the phrase Kuhn coined, the ubiquitous “paradigm shift.”


Since then, anything and everything has become a “paradigm shift.” The Gillette Trac II razor was a new paradigm that “revolutionized” shaving; the Clapper changed our paradigm for turning off lights; the Chia Pet changed our gardening paradigm.


Many, many, paradigms; lots and lots of shifting.


Virginia Woolf famously wrote, “On or about December 1910, human character changed.”2 She was heralding a paradigm shift, but as the phrase “paradigm shift” had yet to be invented, she simply uttered the aforementioned phrase.


Woolf referred to the advent of postmodernism, modern claims to the title notwithstanding. Why 1910? In 1910 Einstein debuted his theories of relativity; Nietzsche expounded his philosophy of perspectivism; Picasso painted the multi-perspective cubist masterpiece Les Demoiselles d’Avignon; and writers like Joyce, Stein, Proust, and Woolf began shattering the objective narrative of literature. Relativism and subjectivism were blooming everywhere.


This truly was a paradigm shift, challenging commonly held notions of objective truth and reality. We certainly don’t view the world the same as those who lived before the turn of the twentieth century or, for that matter, give our children names like Rutledge or dress them like Howard Taft.


There have been many paradigm shifts, real, claimed, and imagined. Even now we are attempting to wrap our minds around globalization, learning to see the flatness of the earth. But no idea, concept, philosophy, or paradigm can deliver on Woolf’s claim. Human nature didn’t change on, about, or anywhere near 1910—only our thoughts about it did. Our paradigm shifted. Reality didn’t budge. What Jesus brought to this world was not simply a new paradigm. Rather, circa 33 AD the very nature of life and death changed, not simply our thoughts about it.


Of course there are a million new paradigms, perspectives, and thoughts that flow from this fact, but this is not a new way of seeing reality. This is a new reality, a total cosmic restructuring.


THE WILD WEST


Here in America we see the new life of the gospel more clearly than most—at least we seem to see more of it. It’s difficult to drive down the freeway or turn on the radio or TV without seeing or hearing an offer for this new and everlasting life. Most American non-believers know at least someone who’s experienced this new life and are, therefore, privy to a personal demonstration. Not so elsewhere.


We are also witnesses of the societal implications of this new life. We can see where politics, human rights, freedoms, social conscience, education, and medicine have been touched by the Christian view of life. Christians might assume there are social implications to the gospel, but if they were to live in a Muslim country, they certainly wouldn’t observe any.


Yet as much as our philosophy on life has been enriched by a Christian worldview, our understanding and apprehension of death has diminished. We live in one of the few places in the world where Christians aren’t persecuted (generally speaking), and martyrdom is as likely as contracting malaria or Ebola. Add to this the unprecedented historical anomaly that since the beginning of recorded time, no people—except this current generation—have ever lived with a mind-set that ninety years of age is the horizon of human life. Not even remotely. Through wealth, medicine, technology, food, and cosmetics, we think of and relate to death in the abstract, as something requiring life insurance. This perspective is alien to Scripture, and it’s alien to the majority of humanity.


And yet the symbol of our faith is a man nailed to a cross. It could have been something happier, like the yellow Walmart smiley face, but it’s not. More than lepers and mustard seeds, death is the dominant New Testament metaphor for the Christian life. We were dead in our transgressions, and death was at work in us, but then Jesus died for us; now we are dead to sin but alive to God, and we must die daily (though we will never die); and yet we look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and on and on, as if Sylvia Plath had some hand in the writing.


And all this is just on the level of illustrations and metaphors. If we were to look at the New Testament from a historical or narrative perspective, it’s immediately striking that all the main characters die. We get to know Paul a bit through his letters, but even as he writes, he’s in prison awaiting execution. It seems like we’re just starting to connect with Peter when he’s crucified, and by the end of Christianity’s opening season, John’s the only one remaining of the original cast.


What happens in the New Testament?


Everyone dies.


To those of us living in a civilized superpower, all this talk about death is strangely foreign—something primitive, something out of National Geographic like foot binding, neck stretching, or packing a gourd into the lower lip like a pinch of Skoal.


My daughter is doing missions work in East Asia this summer, and the cultural difference that has struck her the most is the mentality that one simply leaves something—a rat, a cow, a person, whatever—where it dies. It’s like in the rural South, where folks leave their car or tractor to rust in the spot it stopped working. I’m not saying this is a healthy view of death or that throwing a body into the Ganges River is more biblical than hosting an extravagant celebration-of-life ceremony. My point is that death is much more integrated into the fabric of life in almost every other place on the planet—and everyplace else in Scripture.


While we may not need to be tutored on the abundant life of the gospel, we need to be reacquainted with its more than abundant death. But don’t let this scare you; death isn’t quite the same since Christ consumed it. It’s been tamed and domesticated—it’s the bee without the sting. We no longer serve it—it serves us.


REBRANDING


When I think of Bayer aspirin, I think of families, happy babies, the smell of Vicks VapoRub, staying home from school, and watching I Love Lucy reruns. This is quite remarkable considering the fact that the seemingly benign corporation was, at one time, part of the German pharmaceutical company I. G. Farben. Farben was disbanded in 1952 for its close association with the Nazi Party and active participation in war crimes. Farben had manufactured the gas for Nazi gas chambers and was the chief supplier of the toxic gas Zyklon B. Today, Bayer is obviously a different company, a company that seeks to save lives, not exterminate them. But can you imagine the task set before the PR and marketing departments to re-brand and reshape our perceptions of this company? To help us see it as a source of life and not death?


This, I’m afraid, is what we’re up against here. Death has earned quite a bad name for itself—and, I might add, it’s well deserved. What Madison Avenue delivery could possibly change our perspective and make us want to die? Could we say that it’s been reformulated; that it’s not the cold, tasteless, soggy mush we remember; that it’s new and improved; that it’s a heart-healthy, cholesterol-friendly, high-fiber, reduced-fat version of death; that it comes with an extra scoop of raisins in every box?


As you can tell, re-branding death is beyond my powers of persuasion. But it is not beyond the power of Scripture, which makes an outrageous marketing claim: that just as green is the new black, and small is the new big, death is the new life. And this, as you’ll see, is not just a catchy jingle.


DEATH: NOW THE LEADING CAUSE OF LIFE


Hebrews tells us that Jesus suffered death so that by the grace of God He might “taste death for everyone.” The writer of Hebrews defaults to what appears to be Scripture’s metaphor of choice when speaking of death and resurrection—digestion. I will try to follow suit in reviewing the events of Jesus’ resurrection.


There are food chains everywhere in nature: The grasshopper eats the grass; the rat eats the grasshopper; the snake eats the rat; and the hawk eats the snake. What’s true of all food chains is that hawks and people and lions don’t really occupy the top rung. Death is, in fact, at the top of the food chain; death devours everything but is devoured by nothing.


The resurrection changed this. When Jesus rose from the dead, death was “swallowed up in victory” and “swallowed up by life.”


Throughout His ministry, Jesus warned of and predicted the dramatic change coming to the natural order: “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:40). Jonah, if you remember, was swallowed but not digested.


As Jesus was placed inside the open mouth of the tomb, He entered through the jaws of death. Picture “the cords of the grave coiled around [him]” (Ps. 18:5), wrangling him down like a tongue. “The grave enlarges its appetite and opens its mouth” (Isa. 5:14). Death ingests Him, sliding lower and lower to the “lowest pit, in the darkest depths,” to the very bowels of death.


But the Holy One cannot be digested, for “his body will not see decay” (Ps. 16:10). Regurgitation is the only option for that which is inedible. The Son is spit out just as the whale “vomited” Jonah back to the living. The stone rolls back, the mouth of the grave opens, and death forfeits its meal. Death cannot eat life. The empty tomb is death with its teeth kicked out.


In communion, our symbolic celebration of this victory, we swallow Christ (His body and blood), just as His life swallows us. We drink His blood, represented by wine, a fermented drink that was extracted from death and decomposition.


When Scripture declares that death has been swallowed by life, it is declaring a massive reversal of the natural order. Apart from Christ we deteriorate, body and soul. Death picks away at us little by little until the day its appetite swells to consume us whole.


As believers we experience the reverse: “For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body” (2 Cor. 4:11). The Christian life is a progressive march, not to death but to resurrection, where Christ slowly transforms us until the day His resurrection consumes us whole. Christ’s resurrection power animates the life of the believer so that our trials and sufferings are continuously being consumed, metabolized, and transformed into new life. Resurrection—not death—is the reigning power within us so that “though outwardly we are wasting away … inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16). The hands of time are moving backward, and the sands in the hourglass pouring upward.


If all this sounds too flowery and poetic, here it is a bit more bluntly: The indwelling of God’s Spirit turned our life into a piƱata. Now, the more you beat the thing, the more Christ’s life showers out. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). If life is on the inside, there’s everything to be gained by having our lives turned inside out.


DEATH: NOW AVAILABLE IN FUN SIZE


With the best of intentions, preachers and teachers continue to attempt to inspire us to see the importance and relevance of death to the Christian life. We’ve heard countless stories of persecuted brothers and sisters around the world as well as tales of missionary heroics and sacrifice.


I can recall a sermon I gave once, a sermon laced with quotes from the journal of David Brainerd. Brainerd was a missionary to the Delaware Indians during the eighteenth century. He lived in the wilderness and slept on the ground, all the while dying of tuberculosis. Brainerd was Superman. Brainerd would preach, cough up his lungs, pass out, and then get up and preach another sermon. I tried to cast vision for a cross-bearing commitment to Christ, but it didn’t work. “Remember David Brainerd” had the relevance of “Remember the Alamo” and the triviality of “Remember the Titans.” Those listening to my message shared as much in common with the lifestyle of David Brainerd as they did with the lifestyle of Madonna.


It felt like I was a parent telling his child to eat all the food on his plate because there are children starving in other parts of the world. Has this ever prompted a single child to mop up the remains of his dinner? It seems like this argument should work, but the gap is so big and the cultural distance so far that it cannot be mentally crossed. Now, if you could scrape your plate into a box and next-day ship it to the starving children, well that would be different, wouldn’t it? That would bridge the gap.


I think this is why our stories of martyrs and missionaries sometimes fail to motivate. What we are doing, in effect, is inflating the concept of death, sacrifice, and martyrdom, making them as big, as bold, and as graphic as possible in hopes of shocking people awake. But see, it does the opposite. The more horrible the stories, the more gruesome the deaths, the more courageous the martyrs, the more sacrificial the evangelists—the less like us these martyrs seem. We end up creating more distance between us and them, between us and death.


In focusing on these concepts as macro-events, as monumental moments of extinction, termination, and glory, we wrongly elevate these people as a superior class of Christians.


The creation of a Christian upper class automatically places us in a lower bracket, and we assume the discipleship requirements of such a bracket to be far less. With the lowering of expectations comes the lowering of ambition. Who can compete with a super martyr? They’re the pros, and we can only hope to caddy for them. This makes what should be the normative life of cross-bearing seem unattainable, something for an elite class of ancient Christians, super leaders, and third-world believers.


The Scriptures do not attempt to inflate the concept of death. Rather, they seek to show its relevance to our daily lives and spiritual growth. The Scriptures challenge our cramped and claustrophobic view of the grave and lead us to see death as a process, inviting us to embrace it in its many varieties: death to self, death to the world, death to our pride, and so on. The Scriptures democratize death, requiring everyone to carry a cross and be a martyr. The Bible focuses on the concept, the practice, and the process—the small d of death—far more than on the capitol D of Death—death as termination.


The small d of death is critical to every Christian. While we may never die in our attempts to witness, our reputation might. Everyone has an ego, and the death of pride is a martyrdom to be shared by every Christian. Everyone can experience the death of a dream, a job, a hope, a relationship, an ego, or a reputation. We must all die to ourselves. There is no need to push or shove or wait in line; we will all get a chance to die.


This expanded meaning of death is clearly what’s meant by the Scripture’s rather elastic use of the concept, as we are admonished to “take up our cross,” “die to sin,” “die to the world,” and so many other deaths beyond the funeral variety. The death envisioned is not a single tombstone, it’s Arlington cemetery—row upon row of graves. To see the smaller, daily opportunities to die is as important as seeing the daily tokens of God’s love and faithfulness that He bestows on us.


DEATH: OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME


While neither God nor Scripture ignores or downplays the pain of our suffering and trials, they are unwavering in presenting it to us as an opportunity to be embraced, not a threat from which to hide. A thoughtful examination of a passage in 2 Corinthians explains why: “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you” (2 Cor. 4:10–12).


Let me rephrase this passage with explanation, expansion, and commentary so you can see the concepts in another way:


I endure many hardships. But I think of my trials like “little deaths” because I see how God resurrects, or brings life out of, them. You, Corinthians, are the ones who benefit from this, so I don’t mind if God uses my life and faith as an engine to convert those deaths into life. In fact, once you realize that trials are fuel, or firewood, to be burned and transformed into life, you no longer run from them; you embrace them. This is why I rejoice in the severity of my trials, persevere in them, and embrace them by faith. I never think, “Oh, no … another trial.” I actually think, “Bring it on; it’s just more logs for the fire.”


It is no doubt human nature to avoid pain; it’s definitely my nature. I dare you to spring out of bed every morning like it were Christmas Day, anticipating what new deaths lie ahead and how God will transform them into life. It’s not a normal way of looking at life, but then again neither is returning from a torture session “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (Acts 5:41).


If Mr. Thomas Kuhn were still alive, I believe he would call this a paradigm shift, a fundamentally different way of viewing life. In fact, when a perspective is so mind-altering and counterintuitive, we do not call it insight, but insanity. It’s not just a different way of thinking, it’s too different—odd different. Apart from faith, James’ sentiment, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2), would have to be seen as gibberish, as would the affections expressed by Dietrich Bonhoeffer when he said, “Can you sense that I have now a terrible longing for my own suffering?”


However, when you begin to view death as an opportunity for more and greater life, here and now, as well as in the age to come, it changes everything. It reorients us entirely.


In the past year I’ve had the opportunity to share the gospel with something like ten thousand college students, with several hundred of those coming to Christ. This outreach to universities was launched from a book I wrote titled Jesus Without Religion. I can’t prove this, but I don’t think the fruitfulness of the book is necessarily tied to the book itself.


The book took me six months to write, and the very day after completing it, my computer crashed. As it turned out, the “heads” on the hard drive were cracked, and nothing was salvageable. This, at least, is what the repairman told me; I know nothing of the heads, hands, or feet of a hard drive, nothing of basic hard drive anatomy at all. This would have been the perfect time to pull out the backup copy that I’d saved—if there had been a backup copy. But I had nothing; the book was gone, dead and buried, its remains sprinkled throughout the cyber universe—from pixels it came and to pixels it returned.


Yet this perspective of death presented in Scripture ultimately led me to a sense of anticipation. Here, in the teaching of Jesus and the disciples, death (the death of a hope, dream, goal, or six months worth of work) doesn’t mean dead—it means the opportunity for resurrection.28 A MILLION WAYS TO DIE


To give thanks and praise in such circumstances is one way in which death is transformed into life. The blackened logs of death consumed by faith’s flame are transformed into wisps of praise drifting upward. Death is a consumable fuel for life, and any experience of death can yield spiritual life if it is embraced by faith. Giving thanks and praise is simply one method of transference.



I do not remember if I gave thanks. I might have sworn. But after regaining my spiritual equilibrium, I did start on page one, with word one, and with considerable anticipation that God would use the resurrected rewrite like Lazarus, drawing many to Himself.


I can’t prove the connection in this particular case, but I know it’s there. I know it’s God’s resurrection power working through a corpse. (Though in my enthusiasm for the metaphor, I have just called my book a corpse, which can’t be good for future sales).


It certainly makes sense to me why an unbeliever would run from death. But for a believer, to run from death is, in reality, to run from life. This is why we embrace death and consider it pure joy in whatever form we encounter it. Death is no longer a dead end or detour to life; it’s a fuel stop. Death, like gasoline, is combusted and converted into mileage, enabling us to get to our destination—the light and life of the great city glowing over the horizon.


©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. A Million Ways to Die by Rick James. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

My thoughts:
This is a wonderfully uplifting book. You wouldn't think so by it's title - A Million Ways to Die...sounds ominous huh? But it was really very good and I think it shows us the true way to live. :)


Thursday, October 21, 2010

WOW! WOW! WUBBZY! Fly Us To The Moon DVD Giveaway

Wubbzy shoots for the stars…!

WOW! WOW! WUBBZY! BRINGS OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD FUN TO FANS NATIONWIDE WITH “FLY US TO THE MOON” – NOVEMBER 16, 2010

Preschoolers and Families Will Blast Off on Exciting Adventures With A Brand-New DVD Set to Send Imaginations Soaring!

Beverly Hills, CA – One small step for Wubbzy…one giant leap for Wuzzleburg! The countdown to fun for preschoolers begins with Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!, and the launch of the brand-new DVD, “Fly Us To The Moon.” Alongside Wubbzy, Widget, Walden and Daizy, young viewers will skyrocket into outer space to help wake The Man in the Moon, prepare for a special encounter with “alien” visitors and embark on many kooky space-age adventures! “Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! Fly Us To The Moon” from Anchor Bay Entertainment lands on shelves across the nation, Tuesday, November 16, 2010.

“Fly Us To The Moon” (SRP $16.98) is an action-packed collection of episodes featuring out-of-this-world special guests, including the Tooth Fairy, and larger-than-life superheroes like Captain Wonderpants and The Super Fixers. In “Warp Speed Wubbzy!,” Walden thinks he sees an approaching spaceship through his telescope and enthusiastically spreads the word that space visitors are coming! But, when Wubbzy and Widget discover that the “spaceship” is just a firefly on the lens, they fear Walden will be disappointed and decide to create their own “spaceship landing.” In the title episode, “Fly Us To The Moon,” it’s up to Wubbzy and his pals to wake up The Man in the Moon, who has fallen asleep and left Wuzzleburg in the dark. Preschoolers will embark on an unforgettable ride on Widget’s Rocket Racer, as Wubbzy tangles with space monsters, takes a journey on a runaway comet and falls into a spiral galaxy!

In addition, the new release includes episodes “Tooth or Dare,” “Wonder Wubbzy” and “The Super Fixers.” A bonus episode, “All Bottled Up,” as well as special extras such as coloring and activity sheets, music videos and special “sneak peeks” also are featured.


In celebration of the upcoming release of the brand-new DVD “Fly Us To The Moon,” Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! invites fans to enter a super special sweepstakes on www.Wubbzy.com to win an original, one-of-a-kind piece of Wubbzy artwork from series’ creator Bob Boyle!

You should visit www.wubbzy.com for more information, official rules and to enter! No purchase necessary. Also, please visit Bob’s very cool blog: http://bobboyle.blogspot.com/!

But that's not all!!!

One lucky reader has the chance to win a copy of the DVD here! :)
To enter just leave me a comment telling me why you'd like to win.

For extra entries do the following and make sure and leave a comment for each.
* Follow & Tweet about it @lesleypeck

* Follow me using Google Follower

* Check out my personal blog - Reflections of a Simple Girl and if you like it follow me on Google Friend Connect.

* "Like" Dragonflies 'n Daydreams on Facebook

* Subscribe to receive updates via email


Make sure you leave an email for me to contact you. Thanks!


Giveaway ends on November 16th at 11:59 PM EST. Winner will be chosen using Random.org.


*Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for this post. The giveaway is provided by Grand Communications.*



Don't turn your Halloween into a Nightmare - Be Safe!

Buzzed Driving

Halloween means dark streets full of little kids distracted by candy and costumes. That makes it especially important to start planning a safe and sober ride home from whatever fun you'll be having that night - so your evening doesn't turn into a real nightmare.
Whether at a Halloween party, a costume contest at a bar or trick-or-treating through the neighborhood, many of us will be on the road this weekend. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ad Council are reminding everyone that the best way to stay safe is to plan ahead and designate a sober driver before you head out for your Halloween festivities.

Here are ways you can do your part in staying safe:

 
·        Designated Driver Drink List - One of the most important things you can do before going out is designate a sober driver. If you're throwing a Halloween party, make sure to offer non-alcoholic drinks for the sober drivers. Here is a list of 50 non-alcoholic party drink recipes.
·        Alternative Ride Locator - a list of nationwide alternative ride programs that can help keep you safe.
·        Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving website - Sign a pledge not to drink and drive; play "Spot the Difference," an interactive game that simulates the effects of buzzed driving; and watch a real-life video about how buzzed driving changed one woman's life.
Don't let buzzed driving ruin your Halloween with a DUI - or worse. 

*Disclaimer: This is a public service announcement courtesy of Global Influence and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.*


Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball - Book Review

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:

WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010) 

***Special thanks to Ashley Boyer and Staci Carmichael of Waterbrook Multnomah for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Expertly weaving together fantasy, romance and Biblical truths, Donita K. Paul penned the best-selling, fan-favorite DragonKeeper Chronicles series. After retiring early from teaching, she began a second career as an award-winning author and loves serving as a mentor for new writers of all ages. And when she’s not putting pen to paper, Donita makes her home in Colorado Springs and enjoys spending time with her grandsons, cooking, beading, stamping, and knitting.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307458997
ISBN-13: 978-0307458995

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



Christmas. Cora had been trying to catch it for four years. She scurried down the sidewalk, thankful that streetlights and brightly lit storefronts counteracted the gloom of early nightfall. Somewhere, sometime, she’d get a hold of how to celebrate Christmas. Maybe even tonight.

With snowflakes sticking to her black coat, Christmas lights blinking around shop windows, and incessant bells jingling, Cora should have felt some holiday cheer.

And she did.

Really.

Just not much.

At least she was on a Christmas errand this very minute. One present for a member of the family. Shouldn’t that count for a bit of credit in the Christmas-spirit department?

Cora planned out her Christmas gift giving in a reasonable manner. The execution of her purchasing schedule gave her a great deal of satisfaction. Tonight’s quest was a book for Uncle Eric—something about knights and castles, sword fights, shining armor, and all that.

One or two gifts purchased each week from Labor Day until December 15, and her obligations were discharged efficiently, economically, and without the excruciating last-minute frenzy that descended upon other people…like her three sisters, her mother, her grandmother, her aunts.

Cora refused to behave like her female relatives and had decided not to emulate the male side of the family either. The men didn’t buy gifts. They sometimes exchanged bottles from the liquor store, but more often they drank the spirits themselves.

Her adult ambition had been to develop her own traditions for the season, ones that sprouted from the Christianity she’d discovered in college. The right way to celebrate the birth of Christ. She avoided the chaos that could choke Christmas. Oh dear. Judgmental again. At least now she recognized when she slipped.

She glanced around Sage Street. Not too many shoppers. The quaint old shops were decked out for the holidays, but not with LED bulbs and inflated cartoon figures.

Since discovering Christianity, she’d been confused about the trappings of Christmas—the gift giving, the nativity scenes, the carols, even the Christmas tree. Every year she tried to acquire some historical background on the festivities. She was learning. She had hope. But she hadn’t wrapped her head around all the traditions yet.

The worst part was shopping.

Frenzy undid her. Order sustained her. And that was a good reason to steer clear of any commercialized holiday rush. She’d rather screw red light bulbs into plastic reindeer faces than push through a crowd of shoppers.

Cora examined the paper in her hand and compared it to the address above the nearest shop. Number 483 on the paper and 527 on the building. Close.

When she’d found the bookstore online, she had been amazed that a row of old-fashioned retailers still existed a few blocks from the high-rise office building where she worked. Truthfully, it was more like the bookstore found her. Every time she opened her browser, and on every site she visited, the ad for the old-fashioned new- and used-book store showed up in a banner or sidebar. She’d asked around, but none of her co-workers patronized the Sage Street Shopping District.

“Sounds like a derelict area to me,” said Meg, the receptionist. “Sage Street is near the old railroad station, isn’t it? The one they decided was historic so they wouldn’t tear it down, even though it’s empty and an eyesore?”

An odd desire to explore something other than the mall near her apartment seized Cora. “I’m going to check it out.”

Jake, the security guard, frowned at her. “Take a cab. You don’t want to be out too late over there.”

Cora walked. The brisk air strengthened her lungs, right? The exercise pumped her blood, right? A cab would cost three, maybe four dollars, right?

An old man, sitting on the stoop of a door marked 503, nodded at her. She smiled, and he winked as he gave her a toothless grin. Startled, she quickened her pace and gladly joined the four other pedestrians waiting at the corner for the light to change.

Number 497 emblazoned the window of an ancient shoe store on the opposite corner. She marched on. In this block she’d find the book and check another item off her Christmas list.

Finally! “Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad, Books,” Cora read the sign aloud and then grasped the shiny knob. It didn’t turn. She frowned. Stuck? Locked? The lights were on. She pressed her face against the glass. A man sat at the counter. Reading. How appropriate.

Cora wrenched the knob. A gust of wind pushed with her against the door, and she blew into the room. She stumbled and straightened, and before she could grab the door and close it properly, it swung closed, without the loud bang she expected.

“I don’t like loud noises,” the man said without looking up from his book.

“Neither do I,” said Cora.

He nodded over his book. With one gnarled finger, he pushed his glasses back up his nose.

Must be an interesting book. Cora took a quick look around. The place could use stronger lights. She glanced back at the clerk. His bright lamp cast him and his book in a golden glow.

Should she peruse the stacks or ask?

She decided to browse. She started to enter the aisle between two towering bookcases.

“Not there,” said the old man.

“I beg your pardon?” said Cora.

“How-to books. How to fix a leaky faucet. How to build a bridge. How to mulch tomatoes. How to sing opera. How-to books. You don’t need to know any of that, do you?”

“No.”

“Wrong aisle, then.” He placed the heavy volume on the counter and leaned over it, apparently absorbed once more.

Cora took a step toward him. “I think I saw a movie like this once.”

His head jerked up, his scowl heavier. He glared over the top of his glasses at the books on the shelves as if they had suddenly moved or spoken or turned bright orange.

“A movie? Here? I suppose you mean the backdrop of a bookstore. Not so unusual.” He arched an eyebrow. “You’ve Got Mail and 84 Charing Cross Road.”

“I meant the dialogue. You spoke as if you knew what I needed.”

He hunched his shoulders. The dark suspenders stretched across the faded blue of his shirt. “Reading customers. Been in the business a long time.”

“I’m looking for a book for my uncle. He likes castles, knights, tales of adventure. That sort of thing.”

He sighed, closed his book, and tapped its cover. “This is it.” He stood as Cora came to the desk. “Do you want me to wrap it and send it? We have the service. My grandson’s idea.”

Cora schooled her face and her voice. One of the things she excelled in was not showing her exasperation. She’d been trained by a dysfunctional family, and that had its benefits. She knew how to take guff and not give it back. Maintaining a calm attitude was a good job skill.

She tried a friendly smile and addressed the salesclerk.

“I want to look at it first and find out how much it costs.”

“It’s the book you want, and the price is eleven dollars and thirteen cents.”

Cora rubbed her hand over the cover. It looked and felt like leather, old leather, but in good repair. The book must be ancient.

“Are you sure?” she asked.

“Which?” the old man barked.

“Which what?”

“Which part of the statement am I sure about? It doesn’t matter because I’m sure about both.”

Cora felt her armor of detachment suffer a dent. The man was impossible. She could probably order a book online and get it wrapped and delivered right to her uncle with less aggravation. But dollar signs blinked in neon red in her mind as she thought how much that would cost. No need to be hasty.

Curtain rings rattled on a rod, and Cora looked up to see a younger version of the curmudgeon step into the area behind the counter.

The younger man smiled. He had the same small, wiry build as the older version, but his smile was warm and genuine. He looked to be about fifty, but his hair was still black, as black as the old man’s hair was white. He stretched out his hand, and Cora shook it.

“I’m Bill Wizbotterdad. This is my granddad, William Wizbotterdad.”

“Let me guess. Your father is named Will?”

Bill grinned, obviously pleased she’d caught on quickly. “Willie Wizbotterdad. He’s off in Europe collecting rare books.”

“He’s not!” said the elder shop owner.

“He is.” Bill cast his granddad a worried look.

“That’s just the reason he gave for not being here.” William shook his head and leaned across the counter. “He doesn’t like Christmas. We have a special job to do at Christmas, and he doesn’t like people and dancing and matrimony.”

Bill put his arm around his grandfather and pulled him back. He let go of his granddad and spun the book on the scarred wooden counter so that Cora could read the contents. “Take a look.” He opened the cover and flipped through the pages. “Colored illustrations.”

A rattling of the door knob was followed by the sound of a shoulder thudding against the wood. Cora turned to see the door fly open with a tall man attached to it. The stranger brushed snow from his sleeves, then looked up at the two shop owners. Cora caught them giving each other a smug smile, a wink, and a nod of the head.

Odd. Lots of oddness in this shop.

She liked the book, and she wanted to leave before more snow accumulated on the streets. Yet something peculiar about this shop and the two men made her curious. Part of her longed to linger. However, smart girls trusted their instincts and didn’t hang around places that oozed mystery. She didn’t feel threatened, just intrigued. But getting to know the peculiar booksellers better was the last thing she wanted, right? She needed to get home and be done with this Christmas shopping business. “I’ll take the book.”

The newcomer stomped his feet on the mat by the door, then took off his hat.

Cora did a double take. “Mr. Derrick!”

He cocked his head and scrunched his face. “Do I know you?” The man was handsome, even wearing that comical lost expression. “Excuse me. Have we met?”

“We work in the same office.”

He studied her a moment, and a look of recognition lifted the frown. “Third desk on the right.” He hesitated, then snapped his fingers. “Cora Crowden.”

“Crowder.”

He jammed his hand in his pocket, moving his jacket aside. His tie hung loosely around his neck. She’d never seen him looking relaxed. The office clerks called him Serious Simon Derrick.

“I drew your name,” she said.

He looked puzzled.

“For the gift exchange. Tomorrow night. Office party.”

“Oh. Of course.” He nodded. “I drew Mrs. Hudson. She’s going to retire, and I heard her say she wanted to redecorate on a shoestring.”

“That’s Mrs. Wilson. Mrs. Hudson is taking leave to be with her daughter, who is giving birth to triplets.”

He frowned and began looking at the books.

“You won’t be there, will you?” Cora asked.

“At the party? No, I never come.”

“I know. I mean, I’ve worked at Sorenby’s for five years, and you’ve never been there.”

The puzzled expression returned to Serious Simon’s face. He glanced to the side. “I’m looking for the how-to section.”

Cora grinned. “On your left. Second aisle.”

He turned to stare at her, and she pointed to the shelves Mr. Wizbotterdad had not let her examine. Mr. Derrick took a step in that direction.

Cora looked back at the shop owners and caught them leaning back in identical postures, grins on their faces, and arms crossed over their chests.

Bill jerked away from the wall, grabbed her book, rummaged below the counter, and brought out a bag. He slid the book inside, then looked at her. “You didn’t want the book wrapped and delivered?”

“No, I’ll just pay for it now.”

“Are you sure you wouldn’t like to look around some more?” asked Bill.

“Right,” said William. “No hurry. Look around. Browse. You might find something you like.”

Bill elbowed William.

Simon Derrick had disappeared between the stacks.

William nodded toward the how-to books. “Get a book. We have a copy of How to Choose Gifts for Ungrateful Relatives. Third from the bottom shelf, second case from the wall.”

The statement earned him a “shh” from his grandson.

Cora shifted her attention to the man from her office and walked a few paces to peek around the shelves. “Mr. Derrick, I’m getting ready to leave. If you’re not coming to the party, may I just leave the gift on your desk tomorrow?”

He glanced at her before concentrating again on the many books. “That’s fine. Nice to see you, Miss Crowden.”

“Crowder,” she corrected, but he didn’t answer.

She went to the counter and paid. Mr. Derrick grunted when she said good-bye at the door.

“Come back again,” said Bill.

“Yes,” said William. “We have all your heart’s desires.”

Bill elbowed him, and Cora escaped into the blustering weather.

She hiked back to the office building. Snow sprayed her with tiny crystals, and the sharp wind nipped her nose. Inside the parking garage, warm air helped her thaw a bit as she walked to the spot she leased by the month. It would be a long ride home on slippery roads. But once she arrived, there would be no one there to interrupt her plans. She got in the car, turned the key, pushed the gearshift into reverse, looked over her shoulder, and backed out of her space.

She would get the gift ready to mail off and address a few cards in the quiet of her living room. There would be no yelling. That’s what she liked about living states away from her family. No one would ambush her with complaints and arguments when she walked through the door.

Except Skippy. Skippy waited. One fat, getting fatter, cat to talk to. She did complain at times about her mistress being gone too long, about her dinner being late, about things Cora could not fathom. But Cora never felt condemned by Skippy, just prodded a little.

_

Once inside her second-floor apartment, she pulled off her gloves, blew her nose, and went looking for Skippy.

The cat was not behind the curtain, sitting on the window seat, staring at falling snow. Not in her closet, curled up in a boot she’d knocked over. Not in the linen closet, sleeping on clean towels. She wasn’t in any of her favorite spots. Cora looked around and saw the paper bag that, this morning, had been filled with wadded scraps of Christmas paper. Balls of pretty paper and bits of ribbon littered the floor. There. Cora bent over and spied her calico cat in the bag.

“Did you have fun, Skippy?”

The cat rolled on her back and batted the top of the paper bag. Skippy then jumped from her cave and padded after Cora, as her owner headed for the bedroom.

Thirty minutes later, Cora sat at the dining room table in her cozy pink robe that enveloped her from neck to ankles. She stirred a bowl of soup and eyed the fifteen packages she’d wrapped earlier in the week. Two more sat waiting for their ribbons.

These would cost a lot less to send if some of these people were on speaking terms. She could box them together and ship them off in large boxes.

She spooned chicken and rice into her mouth and swallowed.

The soup was a tad too hot. She kept stirring.

She could send one package with seven gifts inside to Grandma Peterson, who could dispense them to her side of the family. She could send three to Aunt Carol.

She took another sip. Cooler.

Aunt Carol could keep her gift and give two to her kids. She could send five to her mom…

Cora grimaced. She had three much older sisters and one younger. “If Mom were on speaking terms with my sisters, that would help.”

She eyed Skippy, who had lifted a rear leg to clean between her back toes. “You don’t care, do you? Well, I’m trying to. And I think I’m doing a pretty good job with this Christmas thing.”

She reached over and flipped the switch on her radio. A Christmas carol poured out and jarred her nerves. She really should think about Christmas and not who received the presents. Better to think “my uncle” than “Joe, that bar bum and pool shark.”

She finished her dinner, watching her cat wash her front paws.

“You and I need to play. You’re”—she paused as Skippy turned

a meaningful glare at her—“getting a bit rotund, dear kitty.”

Skippy sneezed and commenced licking her chest.

After dinner, Cora curled up on the couch with her Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad bag. Skippy came to investigate the rattling paper.

Uncle Eric. Uncle Eric used to recite “You Are Old, Father William.” He said it was about a knight. But Cora wasn’t so sure. She dredged up memories from college English. The poem was by Lewis Carroll, who was really named Dodson, Dogson, Dodgson, or something.

“He wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” she said. “There’s a cat in the story, but not as fine a cat as you. He smiles too much.”

Skippy gave her a squint-eyed look.

Cora eased the leather-bound book out of the bag. “The William I met at the bookstore qualifies for at least ancient.”

She put the book in her lap and ran her fingers over the embossed title: How the Knights Found Their Ladies.

She might have been hasty. She didn’t know if Uncle Eric would like this. She hefted the book, guessing its weight to be around four pounds. She should have found a lighter gift. This would cost a fortune to mail.

Skippy sniffed at the binding, feline curiosity piqued. Cora stroked her fur and pushed her back. She opened the book to have a peek inside. A piece of thick paper fell out. Skippy pounced on it as it twirled to the floor.

“What is it, kitty? A bookmark?” She slipped it out from between Skippy’s paws, then turned the rectangle over in her hands. Not a bookmark. A ticket.


Admit one to the Wizards’ Christmas Ball

Costumes required

Dinner and Dancing

and your Destiny


Never heard of it. She tucked the ticket in between the pages and continued to flip through the book, stopping to read an occasional paragraph.

This book wasn’t for Uncle Eric at all. It was not a history, it was a story. Kind of romantic too. Definitely not Uncle Eric’s preferred reading.

Skippy curled against her thigh and purred.

“You know what, cat? I’m going to keep it.”

Skippy made her approval known by stretching her neck up and rubbing her chin on the edge of the leather cover. Cora put the book on the sofa and picked up Skippy for a cuddle. The cat squirmed out of her arms, batted at the ticket sticking out of the pages, and scampered off.

“I love you too,” called Cora.

She pulled the ticket out and read it again: Wizards’ Christmas Ball. She turned out the light and headed for bed. But as she got ready, her eye caught the computer on her desk. Maybe she could find a bit more information.

My thoughts:
Ohmygosh ya'll! I love Christmas. I love Christmas books. I love this Christmas book. It is so cute. I love the story, the characters are likable and it has a little bit of a mystery tossed in. A wonderful read for anyone who loves a cute Christmas story.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Secrets from Beyond the Grave - Book Review

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:

Charisma House; Original edition (September 7, 2010) 

***Special thanks to Anna Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Perry Stone is the best-selling author of numerous books, including The Meal That Heals and Breaking the Jewish Code. He directs one of America’s fastest-growing ministries, The Voice of Evangelism. An international evangelist, Perry holds a BA in theology from Covenant Life Christian College. He lives in Cleveland, Tennessee, with his wife of twenty-seven years, Pam, and their two children.


Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 246 pages
Publisher: Charisma House; Original edition (September 7, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381574
ISBN-13: 978-1616381578

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Journey Beyond the Grave

There are three worlds, one seen and two unseen. Yet the unseen realm is as real and tangible as the seen. These three dimensions are written about in the following passage:

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth. --Philippians 2:10, kjv


“Things in earth” are living human beings. “Things in heaven” include God, Christ, and the angels. “Things under the earth” include chambers where fallen angels are bound in chains of darkness while waiting for the day of their judgment (2 Pet. 2:4). According to the New Testament, there are also the souls and spirits of departed men and women, some being reserved in a special region in heaven and others in chambers located under the earth.

The location of those now residing in heaven is identified by the apostle Paul as a heavenly paradise, alluded to in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4. The opposite holding chambers, known as the land of the departed unrighteous souls, are located under the earth and include a series of large caverns and chambers, deep under the crust of the mountains, where the unrighteous souls and spirits are taken immediately following their physical death on Earth. (See Numbers 16:30-33; Luke 16:23-31.)

The Creation of the Underworld

Moses recorded that, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). Prior to when God formed Adam in the Garden of Eden, angels preexisted with God and were watching the activities of Creation as the Almighty spoke it into existence (Job 38:4-7). Some scholars point out that in Genesis 1:1, the Hebrew word for “created,” which is bara« (baw-raw«), indicated the heavens and Earth were formed in a perfected condition.1

However, in Genesis 1:2 we read that the “earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.” Darkness is on the “deep.” The Hebrew word for “deep” is tehom and alludes to the subterranean chambers under the earth where the waters are stored.2 This apparent chaos seen in verse 2 has been identified among some biblical students as the time of the fall of Satan and his angels from heaven (Isa. 14:12-15; Luke 10:18; Rev. 12:7-10), thus causing a chaotic event to occur on the earth.

Thus, between the mysterious and unknown “ages past” of Genesis

1:1 and the fall of Satan in Genesis 1:2, the expulsion of Satan from heaven to Earth struck the planet like lightning (Luke 10:18), and, as some suggest, this was the time when God created a place called hell in the heart of the earth. It is clear that hell was never created for man but originally was intended only for Satan and his rebellious angels. We read in Matthew 25:41:

Then He will also say to those on the left hand, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”


While the details of the expulsion of Satan from heaven and the creation of hell remain somewhat of a mystery, the waters covering the earth in Genesis 1:2 are believed by some to be the waters cooling the planet down after chamber after chamber of hell had been formed in the center of the earth. Oddly, there are scientists who believe the earth was at one time a ball of fire that eventually cooled (with water) and formed the planet we now dwell on. The difference between what I am sharing and the scientific “slow-evolving planet theory” of the earth is the time element. Scientists believe the formation process took billions of years. However, although in ages past the original Creation of Genesis 1 may have occurred millions of years ago, the time frame recorded from Genesis 3:3 onward--of God creating the light, plants, and man-- was slightly more than six thousand years ago according to traditional theology. Whether hell was prepared before the fall of Satan (Gen 1:1) or afterward (Gen 1:2), Scripture and science agree on these facts: there are different levels under the earth, and the center of the earth is fire.

The Underground Chambers

Throughout the Bible there are five different words used to identify the area I call the underworld: These words are:

Sheol--an Old Testament Hebrew word

Hades--a New Testament Greek word

Gehenna--a New Testament Greek word

Tartaroo--a New Testament Greek word

Abyss--a New Testament Greek word


The word Sheol is used sixty-five times in the Old Testament. It is translated as “hell” thirty-one times in the Bible, thirty-one times as “grave,” and three times as “pit.” The word Hades is translated as “hell” ten times in the New Testament. It is also found in 1 Corinthians 15:55, where the English word is grave. The only exception is Revelation 6:8. In that passage the pale horse rider is Death, and hell (Hades) follows him.

By definition the word Hades is “the region of departed spirits of the

lost (but including the blessed dead in periods preceding the ascension of Christ).”3 The early church fathers commented on Hades. One Ante-Nicene father commented:

This is the torment compartment of Sheol-Hades where wicked souls have always gone and will always go until the end of the Millennium. . . . Hades is a place in the created system, rude, a locality beneath the earth, in which the light of the world does not shine; and as the sun does not shine in this locality, there must necessarily be perpetual darkness there.4

The third word, tartaroo, is a Greek word translated as “hell” and found in only one place:

For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment . . . --2 Peter 2:4

Tartarus was considered both a spirit or a deity in Greek mythology and the place of a chamber lower than Hades in which the most wicked spirits were confined. It was believed to be the first place created in the regions of the underworld, as angels fell into sin ages before Adam was created and sinned. Peter reveals that this is the chamber of the fallen angels.

Just as Satan will be cast into the abyss in the future and have a seal placed over the pit preventing his escape for one thousand years (Rev. 20:3), so those angels who were in revolt against God during the fall of Lucifer and those who corrupted themselves in the days of Noah by producing the offspring of giants (Gen. 6:4) are now chained in pits of darkness in the lowest parts of the earth. There is no indication that human souls are in this region, but only fallen angels. Jude wrote:


And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.

--Jude 6

The next word revealing another chamber under the earth is the Greek word abussos, which is translated in English as the word abyss. This word is found nine times in the New Testament and is translated in the Book of Revelation as “bottomless pit” (Rev. 9:1-2, 11; 11:7; 17:8; 20:1, 3). This word alludes to an unspecified area under the earth that is a huge void, an empty cavity that cannot be measured. This place was known to the evil spirit Christ encountered during His ministry. On one occasion, Christ expelled a large host of demons from a man, and the chief evil spirit requested not to be confined in the “deep” (Luke 8:31, kjv). The King James Version says “deep,” but the Greek word is abussos, or the abyss. Thus, as far back as almost two thousand years ago, the world of fallen and evil spirits under Satan's authority was fully aware of their final doom--the abyss.

The spirit world knows the Scriptures, as evidenced during Christ's temptation when Satan quoted from Psalm 91. (Compare Psalm 91:11-12 with Matthew 4:6.) The prophet Isaiah predicted that Lucifer would one day “be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit” (Isa. 14:15, kjv). In Christ's time, the evil spirits He encountered knew that their final doom would be confinement in a “pit.” Perhaps after seeing Christ, they believed the time of their destruction had arrived!

In the Hebrew text, when alluding to the underground chambers the word deep (tehom) is considered the “primeval sea.” In the Septuagint (the Old Testament translated from Hebrew to Greek), the word abyss is used in the place of tehom. Thus, the word tehom is linked to the sea in Job 28:14 and to the depths of the earth in Psalm 71:20. In the Apocalypse, John reveals that the evil entity that will one day become the Antichrist of Bible prophecy (identified by John as the “beast”) will be possessed and controlled by a spirit that will arise out of the abyss:


The beast that you saw [once] was, but [now] is no more, and he is going to come up out of the Abyss (the bottomless pit) and proceed to go to perdition.

--Revelation 17:8, amp

The Area of Ge-Hinnom

The final word found in the New Testament that is translated as “hell” is the Greek word geenna, transliterated in English as “Gehenna.” The Greek word geenna is found twelve times in the Greek New Testament and is translated eleven times in the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) as “hell.” The word itself, however, has a more detailed historical and broader meaning than “just a Greek word for 'hell.'”

First, there is an area of Jerusalem that historically and biblically is named Ge-Hinnom. There is today a very deep ravine and valley outside of the southwestern walls of the old city of Jerusalem, known in the Old Testament as the Valley of the Sons of Hinnom, called in the early times Tophet.

For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he

hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood;

the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.

--Isaiah 30:33, kjv

In early Israel the valley served as a border between the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (Josh. 15:8; 18:16). In the days of the Canaanites the area later was called Ge-Hinnom, or the Valley of the sons of Hinnom. The early inhabitants worshiped an idol called Molech. This man-made god was originally an Ammonite god that sat on a brass pedestal and appeared as a man from the waist down and a calf from the waist up. Those who worshiped Molech would pass their children through the fires (2 Chron. 33:6).

Jeremiah spoke of this dreadful act in Jeremiah 7:31:


And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart.

Rashi, a famous twelfth-century rabbi, penned a commentary on Jeremiah 7:31:

Tophet is Molech, which was made of brass, and they heated him from his lower parts; and his hands being stretched out, and made hot, they put the child between his hands, and it was burnt, when it vehemently cried out, the priests beat a drum, that the father might not hear the voice of his son, and his heart might not be moved.5

Thus, from the earliest times, the Valley of Hinnom became linked with idol worship, fire, and the passing of the children through the fires of Molech.

In the New Testament, the area of Hinnom was located outside of one of Jerusalem's main gates, the Dung Gate. Having been to Jerusalem more than thirty times and having stood in the Valley of Hinnom, I am aware of a piece of fascinating history linked to the area. In the time of Christ, the valley was actually the garbage dump of the city. It was also a place where the carcasses of dead animals were burned. The area was a very deep gorge and had slick, high rock walls on either side of the valley that went from the deep gorge up to the top of the hills. A fire continually burned in the valley, accompanied by the normal odors that follow burning trash.

When Christ alluded to hell in the New Testament, He used the Greek word geenna and was able to present a visual imagery to His listeners, who were very familiar with the garbage at Gehenna.

There are two palm-trees in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, between which a smoke arises: and this is that we learn, “The palms of the mountain are fit for iron.” And, “This is the door of Gehenna.”6


Christ often used visible objects to illustrate spiritual truths. He spoke of sheep and goats, using these two animals as an analogy for the righteous and the unrighteous. The same is true with the wheat and tares. These natural grains, which were common in Israel, are used as imagery to describe the children of the world (the tares) and the children of the kingdom (the wheat). (See Matthew 13:24-38.)

Skeptics teach that because Christ used the word geenna for hell and because this place was located in Jerusalem, hell does not exist and was only a valley in Jerusalem. This theory is like saying that Christ spoke of Jerusalem, and because Jerusalem was an actual city in His time, then the New Jerusalem mentioned in Revelation 21 and 22 is an allegory and does not really exist in heaven. When speaking of hell, Christ used this word to paint a clear image in the minds of His listeners, who were familiar with the deep pits, the continual fires burning, and the smoke that rose from the area--comparing it to the actual underworld of departed souls.

Ge-Hinnom and the Death of Judas

One of Christ's original twelve apostles was Judas Iscariot (Matt. 26:14). Judas identified Jesus by a kiss (v. 49) and betrayed Christ for thirty pieces of silver (Matt. 27:3). Judas later regretted his actions, but he repented to himself and not to God (v. 3). After throwing the silver money on the temple floor, Judas went out and hung himself on a tree (v. 5). Later, when the apostles were replacing Judas, Peter stated: “Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out” (Acts 1:18). Critical scholars say this is a contradiction: one statement says Judas hung himself, and the other says he fell headlong. As always, there is a simple explanation to these complex theological debates.

I have stood in the area numerous times and even visited a monastery that sits on the top of the hill overlooking the Valley of Hinnom. On top of the hill there are numerous trees whose branches reach out over the cliffs to the valley below. It becomes apparent that Judas took a rope and hung himself by jumping off the cliff, with his body dangling from the tree branch. At some point, the branch snapped, and the body of Judas plummeted below, dashing upon the jagged rocks that protrude along the cliff walls and landing on rocks at the bottom of the valley. Thus there is no contradiction. He hung himself first, and after the branch broke, his body fell. The impact caused the results mentioned in Acts

1:18. Concerning Judas, Peter wrote:

To take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. --Acts 1:25

Judas was a part of the apostolic ministry and fell into sin when “Satan entered him” (John 13:27). After his death, Peter said he went “to his own place.” The word place in Greek is topos and alludes to a certain location. It can allude to a place (room) that a person occupies (Luke 14:9-10). Some scholars suggest that this phrase “his own place” alludes to a special room in hell where Judas was taken for betraying Christ. Christ had said that for the person betraying him, “It would have been good for that man if he had never been born” (Mark 14:21).

In summarizing the life and death of Judas:

He was chosen as one of the twelve apostles (Matt. 10:1-4).

He is called a “bishop” based on a prophecy in Psalms (Ps. 109:4-8; Acts 1:20).

He was given spiritual authority over demons and disease (Matt. 10:1).

He was appointed the treasurer of the ministry (John 12:6).

He was called a thief before he ever betrayed Christ
(John 12:6).


He eventually sold out his ministry for money (Matt. 26:15).

He was called a “devil” by Christ (John 6:70).


He allowed Satan to enter his heart at the final supper
(John 13:27).


He betrayed Christ with a kiss and gave Him over to the soldiers (Matt. 26:48).

He realized his sins but repented to himself and not to
God (Matt. 27:3).


He went out and took his life (Acts 1:18).

His soul and spirit were taken to their own location under the earth (Acts 1:25).


Blood Money for a Graveyard

Since the thirty pieces of silver was money used to betray an innocent man and shed innocent blood, a curse was placed upon anyone who shed innocent blood. Since Christ's blood was shed as a result of Judas's action, the money could not be returned to the coffers in the temple. It was used to purchase a field in which to bury strangers who died in Jerusalem. The field, called Aceldama, meaning the “field of blood,” was purchased in the valley where the lifeless corpse of Judas was found. While standing in the area of Aceldama in Jerusalem, I realized that this field is located on the edge of what was known as the Valley of Hinnom, or Ge-Hinnom. Judas literally took his life on the edge of what was labeled as hell in his time!

Christ used the word Gehenna to describe hell. There are various historical and Jewish commentaries that give their insights and opinions on the subject of hell. Among the Jews there are seven names of seven different divisions of Gehenna and a belief that the entrances to this underworld are both in the sea and also on the dry land. According to Josephus, the Essenes described Gehenna as a cold and dark cave.7

This area throughout history was a place to bury the dead, as indicated by Jeremiah:

They will bury in Tophet until there is no room. --Jeremiah 7:32


These words--Hades, Sheol, Tartarus, Gehenna, and the abyss--are the five main words used to identify the underground world of fallen angels, certain evil spirits, and the souls of the unrighteous.

The Location of the Underground Chambers

After spending hundreds of hours in researching the possible locations and entrances to this rather mysterious underground world, there are three important facts that emerge.

First, these chambers and caverns are all located underneath the earth's surface. In the Scriptures heaven is always identified as being up, and hell is always referred to as being down or beneath (Num. 16:30; Job 11:8). Never is hell spoken of as being up, and never is heaven's location given as down. Second, these underground holding places for the unrighteous and fallen angels are under the mountains, as revealed in the story of Jonah (Jon. 2:6). Finally, a lesser-known and -taught aspect of the underworld is that many of the entrances are located under the seas (Job 26:5).

Hell is definitely located down and under the earth:

“Go down quick into hell” (Ps. 55:15, kjv).

“Shalt be brought down to hell” (Isa. 14:15, kjv).

“Cast him down to hell” (Ezek. 31:16, kjv).

“They also went down into hell” (Ezek. 31:17, kjv).

“ God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them
down to hell” (2 Pet. 2:4, kjv).



One example of hell being under the crust of the earth is in the case of the rebellion of Korah against Moses. Korah was jealous of Moses's and Aaron's authority over the people and sought to led a coup against these men of God. The Almighty brought a sudden judgment on Korah and his rebels:

And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the congregation. --Numbers 16:32-33

This word pit is not the word for a small opening in the ground, like a crack caused by an earthquake. The Hebrew word is Sheol--the world of departed spirits. This was a supernatural event, for following their descent into the underworld, the earth closed up and sealed the opening to prevent others from falling into the chasm. The rebels went down into the pit.

A second point is that a person must descend below the mountains in order to reach the caverns and pits of the underworld. There is interesting insight into the story of the death of Jonah, reported in the Book of Jonah. Children are taught that Jonah was thrown off a ship, and a whale swallowed him, allowing Jonah to live for three days in belly of the fish. However, when a person carefully examines the words and statements made by Jonah himself, the rebellious prophet actually drowned, and the fish preserved his body from being eaten by other sea creatures. After three days of being preserved, God raised Jonah from the dead and brought him out of the belly of the fish. Here is what Jonah wrote:

Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish's belly, and said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. --Jonah 2:1-7, kjv


Jonah recalled that after he was thrown off the ship, the waves of the sea passed over him, and his head became entangled in seaweed. He described his soul fainting within him, which would be a reference to his soul preparing to depart from his body through death. He describes going to the “bottoms of the mountains,” and the “bars” were about him forever. Yet God brought him up from “corruption,” which is an allusion to physical decay after death. Notice Jonah did not pray in the belly as some modern translations indicate but out of the fish's belly. Jonah described crying out of the “belly of hell.” The Hebrew word here is Sheol, the common word for the subterranean world of the departed dead.

Jonah literally drowned, and after his death he went into the belly of the subterranean world for three days. As Jonah cried unto the Lord, God brought Jonah's spirit back into his body. This is the reason Christ compared His three days and nights in the heart of the earth to Jonah's three days and nights in the belly of the fish (Matt. 12:39-40). Just as Lazarus was dead for four days, and Christ raised him back from the dead, Jonah was dead for three days; the Almighty brought the prophet's spirit and soul from Sheol back into a body that had been preserved in the belly of a large fish. Matthew's Gospel translates the Greek word ketos as a “whale” (Matt. 12:40, kjv), but the word means “a large fish” or a “sea monster” (used in the Septuagint in Job 7:12; 9:8; 26:13). Men have assumed the great fish was a whale, since this would have been the largest sea creature with the capacity to swallow a human body.

Jonah spoke of the bars under the mountains that closed on him. When Job and his friends were speaking about death, we read:

Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death? --Job 38:17



While most scholars believe these “doors” are simple metaphors, there must be portals or entrances to both heaven and to the underworld. This brings us to the third point: the openings of the underworld that are located under the waters. Notice the references to these openings in the following scriptures:

They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust.
--Job 17:16, kjv

The dead tremble,

Those under the waters and those inhabiting them.

Sheol is naked before Him,

And Destruction has no covering.

--Job 26:5-6

Or who shut in the sea with doors . . .

Have you entered the springs of the sea?

Or have you walked in search of the depths?

Have the gates of death been revealed to you?

Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death?

--Job 38:8, 16-17

Let not the floodwater overflow me,

Nor let the deep swallow me up;

And let not the pit shut its mouth on me.

--Psalm 69:15

In the context of these scriptures, these passages all allude to either death or hell, and some mention gates and bars that are entrances to the pit, or to hell. I would suggest that just as the New Jerusalem in heaven has twelve entrances into the Holy City, there are also entrances scattered around the world that lead to the subterranean world of Sheol.

While it may be impossible to prove with visible evidence, there are some rather mysterious places where bizarre magnetic activity occurs in and around certain seas. One such noted location is the Bermuda Triangle, with its borders touching Puerto Rico, Bermuda, and Florida. The exact size of the Bermuda Triangle depends on the source describing it, but it is in the range of two hundred thousand square miles off the Atlantic Coast. It is reported to have claimed more than a thousand lives in fifty years. Since 1945, more than a hundred ships, boats, and planes have reportedly vanished.

The Bermuda Triangle is one of two places on the earth where a magnetic compass does point toward true north. Normally it points toward magnetic north. The difference between the two is known as compass variation. The amount of variation changes by as much as twenty degrees as one circumnavigates the earth. If this compass variation or error is not compensated for, a navigator could find himself far off course and in deep trouble.8 Strange, glowing white water and green fog have been spotted there from satellites. The Bermuda Triangle has a deep trench near San Juan measuring twenty-seven thousand feet deep.

Another area where the same strange phenomena occur is the Devil's Sea. The sea is located on the other side of the world, opposite the Bermuda Triangle. The area is located east of Japan between Iwo Jima and Marcus Island. The Japanese government labeled this area as a danger zone. Near Guam is the world's largest underwater trench, measuring thirty-six thousand feet deep.9 It is unknown why these areas have such strange magnetic fields, and this book will not detail research related to these incidents. However, there are numerous places in the world where there is odd magnetic activity that occurs on a consistent basis, including areas where the compass actually goes in the opposite direction.

A man named Ivan Sanderson, a professional biologist who founded the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in Columbia, New Jersey, claims to have discovered twelve electromagnetic vibrations around the world, called by some the “Ten Vile [Strong] Vortices.” In 1972, Sanderson wrote an article in Saga Magazine calling his discovery “The Twelve Devil's Graveyards Around the World.” Sanderson had researched the areas around the world where ships and planes had allegedly disappeared and discovered ten regions of the world, spaced equally apart, that experienced these strange phenomena.10

These areas of strange magnetic and space-time phenomena are situated with five above the equator and five below at equal distances from the equator. Adding the North and South Poles, there are twelve areas. Sanderson claims the ten main areas are located at seventy-two-degree intervals, which include the Bermuda Triangle and the Devil's Sea. Sanderson has laid the areas that produce the electromagnetic energy in a grid and believes these may be portals or vortices. East of the Bermuda Triangle is the Sargasso Sea, an area where the compass of Columbus acted strangely during his journey. The ten areas are:


1. Bermuda Triangle
2. Algerian Megalithic Ruins (south of Timbuktu)
3. Karachi (Pakistan)
4. Devil's Sea Triangle (near Iwo Jima, Japan)
5. Hamakulia, southeast Hawaii (focal point is in the ocean
southeast of Hawaii)
6. Megalithic structures at Sarawak (Borneo)
7. Nan Madol (Pohnpei Island, Micronesia)
8. The seat of the Incan culture in South America
9. Easter Island
10. Gabon (West Africa)11



One of the explanations for difficulties with ships and planes in these areas is the frequent crosswinds of hot and cold air that form in the atmosphere over the sea. However, it does not explain why there are so many large stone monuments, called megaliths and dolmens (stone tables), erected in the areas where the magnetic activity is the most intense.

I personally visited one such area in the Golan Heights in Israel. The place is a paleomagnetic park known as the Magnetic Stones. If you place a compass near the stones in this area, the compass points in the opposite direction of true north. This abnormality has various explanations. However, this area also has more than three thousand large stones called dolmens, which are also found scattered in other places around the world, including Easter Island, thousands of miles away from the Golan area. Biblically, this area was once the home of the biblical giants, a race of very large men who lived before and after the flood of Noah (Gen. 6:1-4). Secular historians question how a normal man could have moved such large stones, which require a special mechanical lift just to erect them in an upright position. The simplest explanation is that the biblical giants were a part of these areas and assisted in the building of these megalith monuments. It is, however, a mystery as to why these monuments are found in the same areas where strange magnetic activity is occurring.

Spirits Under the Euphrates

A region of the world that is alluded to in biblical prophecy is the Euphrates River. In the Apocalypse, this famous ancient waterway will dry up, and four mysterious angels will be released from their confinement (Rev. 9:14). The Euphrates River originates in the Taurus Mountains and flows through Syria and Iraq, eventually joining the Tigris in the Shatt al-Arab and emptying into the Persian Gulf. The apocalyptic prophecy that mentions the loosing of the four angels also reveals that a dangerous angel named Apollyon, or Abaddon (Rev. 9:11), will be released from the abyss near the same time these other four angelic beings are released from their captivity, where they are confined in caverns under the waters of the Euphrates.

Much of the future prophetic activity mentioned in the Old Testament and in the Apocalypse will unfold in and around the Middle East. Since this future activity is identified as occurring near the Euphrates River, and one of the evil agents released on the earth is called Abaddon, could this evil angel that is now in the abyss be released somewhere in the Persian Gulf area, because the Euphrates and Tigris eventually empty into the Gulf? It is interesting to note that the Euphrates and Tigris join and empty into the Persian Gulf in a place where there is a famous island. This island, called Abadan, is forty-two miles long and twelve miles wide and is presently a main oil refinery island for Iran. It was the centerpiece of the war between Iraq and Iran in the 1980s. The location of the island is just below where the Euphrates and Tigris come together at a place in southern Iraq called Bosera, joining as one river and flowing into the Persian Gulf.

The Hebrew name of this demonic being that will be released from the bottomless pit at some point during a time of tribulation on Earth is Abaddon. The Hebrew has no vowels, and the name of the oil-rich island has some of the same Hebrew letters of the Hebrew name Abaddon, indicating that there may be a linguist link, however weak, to this island and to the release of the spirit called Abaddon from a black-smoke-filled pit. Since the location is near the Euphrates, which is mentioned by name in the prophecy, the spirit called Abaddon could be bound under the earth in this region of the world. Strong prince spirits often take on the same name of the region they control, such as the prince of Persia and the prince of Grecia (Dan. 10:13, 20).

When this “pit” (Rev. 9:1) is opened, black smoke fills the air, darkening the entire area. Because the Abadan Island is used to refine oil, any form of explosion could literally cause black smoke to billow into the atmosphere, thus fulfilling the visual description given by John in Revelation

9:2. During the Gulf War in 1991, hundreds of oil wells were set on fire, causing the air in Kuwait and the surrounding area to be filled with a black smoke that covered the sun, and, at times, the chemicals that remained in the atmosphere caused the moon to have a reddish appearance.

These fallen angels are bound both “under the waters” and “in the pit” (abyss). The inspired writers of Scripture speak of the gates under the sea:

Or who shut in the sea with doors, When it burst forth and issued from the womb? --Job 38:8

Have you entered the springs of the sea?

Or have you walked in search of the depths?

Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death?

--Job 38:16-17

Spirits Are Under the Waters

When studying the Scriptures, many times it becomes important to examine the original meaning of words to ensure that the English translation has correctly presented the true interpretation. Below is one example:

Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof. Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering. --Job 26:5-6, kjv

In this passage Job mentions hell (Sheol) but also mentions destruction, which is the Hebrew word abaddon, the same name of the evil angel mentioned in Revelation 9:11! Another word to examine is the word dead, which in this passage is the Hebrew word rapha« or rephaim. What makes this word unique is that the word rephaim is used in the English translation of the Bible as one of the common names for a race of giants that once roamed the earth. The name is found in 2 Samuel as a valley in Jerusalem once ruled by the giants (2 Sam. 5:18, 22; 23:13). The word giants is found throughout the English translation of the Old Testament and is the word rapha«, the root word for rephaim.

Job 26:5 says: “Dead things [rapha«] are formed from under the waters.” The word form in Job 26:5 in Hebrew is chuwl, and it can mean “to writhe in pain.” Since fallen angels are now bound in tartaroo (2 Pet. 2:4), then these fallen angels are now confined under the waters, under the mountains in the lowest subterranean chambers, experiencing eternal pain.

And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness the judgment of the great day.

--Jude 6

These will be part of the angels that at the Great White Throne Judgment will be brought out of hell, and the saints will judge them (1 Cor. 6:3; Rev. 20:11-15). They are reserved (the word reserved means “to be kept under watch and guard”) until the day of their judgment!

On the Edge of the Triangle

I have ministered many times at a great church in Huntington, West Virginia. Years ago I was informed of an amazing story concerning a former pastor, Reverend Roland Garner. In 1977-1978, Pastor Garner went on a two-week diving expedition in the areas of the Bahamas and Bermuda, serving as a chaplain for the diving crew. The researchers and divers on the expedition were researching activity near the Bermuda Triangle and why the mysterious magnetic activity occurred.

On the boat a man named Wingate and a close associate of Jacques Cousteau were leading the scuba expedition. During one dive the men found under the water what appeared to them to be the black basalt stones of an ancient temple, including a perfect marble column. During another dive, after twenty minutes the diver came up and told the others that he was not “going back down there.” When Pastor Garner asked him why, the fellow replied, “I could hear something groaning under the floor of the sea. It sounded like it was dragging chains.” Pastor Garner did tell the diver that there were fallen angels somewhere under the earth, and perhaps that is what he heard. They never returned to this area. It was noticed that at times a yellow smoke could be seen.

Pastor Garner returned and told the entire story to his congregation and gave details about the strange expedition. He believed, and taught, that it was possible the area was once a pre-Adamic region of the world where Lucifer once ruled prior to his fall. He also believed that these places where the electromagnetic field does bizarre things may be entrances to these biblical chambers.

Gates to Heaven and Hell

Many times when a biblical researcher or scholar does not fully believe in or accept a literal interpretation of a word of verse, he or she will

immediately write off the word or passage as a metaphor, an allegory, or a myth. Such is often the case when the subject of hell comes up. Often someone will comment, “I believe there is a heaven, but not a hell. God would never permit anyone to spend eternity in such a place of torment.” Others interpret hell to be the difficulties one encounters on Earth; thus the only hell we ever experience is on Earth. Still others suggest that the warnings about hell were exaggerations to emphasize the importance of how to treat others in this life. Some believe that ancient Egyptians initiated the belief in the afterlife and all other religions picked up on the doctrine and simply modified their ideas to fit their own religion.

I have always said that when the plain passage of Scripture makes sense, don't seek another sense or you will lose the common sense. The Bible was not written by Harvard and Yale professors but by forty different authors whose backgrounds were as shepherds, farmers, fishermen, a tax collector, a doctor, and a well-educated Pharisee (Paul). They wrote very simply and literally. Angels are literal, demons are literal, and heaven and hell are literal. The streets of gold are not a picture of the foundations of divine authority (since gold represents deity in the Bible), but they are literal streets with literal transparent gold! The twelve gates of pearl (Rev. 21:21) are not a representation of the apostolic ministry of the twelve apostles (since in the parable of the kingdom a pearl is the gospel [Matt. 13:46], and the apostles spread the gospel), but there are twelve literal gates to the heavenly city.

Any attempt to make hell a nonliteral place is futile, humanistic unbelief. Any effort to teach that the fire is spiritual and not literal also has no place in the true interpretation of the complete revelation of hell in both Testaments.

The apostle John was the only biblical writer to detail the size and appearance of the heavenly city, New Jerusalem. He alludes to twelve entrances or gates, guarded by twelve angels. These twelve gates are positioned with three on the north, three to the south, three to the east, and three to the west (Rev. 21:12-13). On the earth, we identify four points of the compass--the north, south, east, and west--and all people dwell in nations in one of those four directions. People from the north have a north gate, from the west a western gate, from the east an eastern gate, and those from the south could enter through a southern gate.

When a sinner departs from any part of the world, there may not be just one entrance to the underworld; but just as there are twelve gates in the New Jerusalem, there may be ten to twelve magnetic gates that actually lead to the underworld. Those from Australia enter the chambers in their regions, while the Africans, the Americans, and Asians use different entrances. All entrances lead to one main area under the mountains.

In the Garden of Eden, the tree of life was in the midst (center) of the garden (Gen. 2:9). Throughout the Apocalypse, the menorah is in the midst of the temple, and the Lamb is in the midst of the throne (Rev. 7:17). It may be possible that the very center or heart of the underground chambers on Earth is centered in Israel in a place known as the Dead Sea. As you will discover, the Dead Sea is not only filled with amazing history, but it is also a place of past spiritual conflicts and has numerous future prophecies linked to it.




My thoughts:
This is a very interesting book that discusses heaven, hell, and our life here on Earth. It's got a lot of Scripture and is very involved. I haven't finished it all...it seems to be one of those books you keep reading trying to soak it all in. All I can say is interesting. :)