Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Review: The Purpose and Power of Authority: Discovering the Power of Your Personal Domain by Dr. Myles Monroe

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:

The Purpose and Power of Authority: Discovering the Power of Your Personal Domain

Whitaker House (January 4, 2011)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***


Dr. Myles Munroe is a best-selling author, founder and president of Bahamas Faith Ministries International, a motivational speaker, and consultant for government and business. He has spent the last thirty years training leaders worldwide in business, education, government and religion. Dr. Munroe completed undergraduate and postgraduate studies at Oral Roberts University and the University of Tulsa. He is the recipient of honorary doctoral degrees from a variety of schools and serves as an adjunct professor of the Graduate School of Theology at Oral Roberts University. Dr. Munroe and his wife Ruth are the parents of two grown children and travel as a teaching team.

Visit the author's website.


Are you walking in your unique calling? Do you know that you have an inherent, personal authority that is meant to guide your life? In his new book, best-selling author Dr. Myles Munroe explains that many people don’t know how to live out their dreams or find their place in the world because they don’t understand the principle of true authority. Until one discovers his or her unique, God-given areas of authority and responsibilities, he or she may spend a lifetime feeling unfulfilled or lost. Discovering one’s personal authority is the key to fulfillment and effective living, Dr. Munroe maintains. He explains not only how to discover one’s inherent authority, but to how to respond constructively to others with confidence, free of fear and intimidation. Dr. Munroe has said that he feels this book contains his most significant teaching to date.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (January 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 160374262X
ISBN-13: 978-1603742627


What Is Authority?

Chapter One

Authority Is Within You

You Have Personal Authority and Power to Fulfill Your Purpose in Life

Neither the judges nor the audience expected anything from the plain-looking, middle-aged, unemployed woman from Scotland who was a contestant on the reality television show Britain’s Got Talent in the spring of 2009. When asked what her dream was, Susan Boyle answered, “I’m trying to be a professional singer.” As she talked with the judges before her performance, they were openly skeptical, and many of the audience members rolled their eyes and shook their heads incredulously, perhaps thinking this contestant had been included for a comic element by the producers of the show. When the introductory notes of her song started to play—“I Dreamed a Dream,” from the musical Les Miserables—some audience members even looked as if they were anxiously holding their breaths, afraid that this unassuming, naive woman would humiliate herself before millions of people.

Then, she began to sing.

With lyrical tones, compelling emotion, and a professional delivery, she sang the song as if she had written it herself to describe her unfulfilled life up to that point and her hopes for the future. Most of the audience members were clapping, cheering, and standing when she had sung just a few lines, and she received a resounding standing ovation at the conclusion of her performance. In minutes, she went from being perceived as a joke to being considered an inspiration and a role model for all who are seeking a second chance in life, or for all who want a first chance to manifest to the world who they are on the inside.

Susan Boyle became an international phenomenon overnight through her television appearance, the popularity of the tape of her performance on YouTube, and the overwhelming attention of the media. People were captivated by her voice and moved by her story of decades of struggling and longing to make something of her life.

Though her instantaneous rise to fame has caused inevitable stress for her along the way, she seems to have come to terms with the crush of attention. After finishing the contest in second place, she went on to build the professional singing career she had always dreamed of. Her debut CD, I Dreamed a Dream, has sold over eight million units worldwide as of this writing. The apex of her dream came to pass when, during the historic visit of Pope Benedict XVI to England and Scotland in September 2010, she was chosen to sing for the Pontiff at the conclusion of his open-air mass in Glasgow, which was attended by 65,000 people.

What does authority have to do with a television performance or even a singer? Doesn’t authority have to do with exercising some jurisdiction or control over other people? Doesn’t it involve, for example, leaders and followers, bosses and employees, parents and children, teachers and students, law enforcement officers and lawbreakers—in other words, those in charge and those under them who are instructed, directed, ordered, or made to do something?

Every Person on Earth Has Authority

There is an underlying aspect of authority that has not often been acknowledged or addressed by leaders, corporations, governments, and individuals but that is crucial for effective and fulfilling human endeavor. It provides the key not only for individual accomplishment but also for corporate success.

Susan Boyle’s story illustrates the essence of authority, as well as the heart of this book: true authority is personal, and true authority comes from within.

Authority does not mean having power or control over others.

Authority is not something you automatically receive with a title, either, such as “manager,” “boss,” “CEO,” or “president.”

Personal authority is inherent within every human being, whether that person is considered the one “in charge” or the one following orders. Authority is also inherent within every living thing created on earth. It is natural. It does not have to be “worked up,” and it cannot be given to someone—only released and developed.

Personal authority can be defined as the intrinsic gifts a person or thing possesses in order to fulfill the purpose for which that person or thing was placed on this earth. Because authority is intrinsic, every person or living thing already has the ability to fulfill his/her/its authority in the area, or the domain, of his/her/its gifting.

You have a personal authority that enables you to fulfill your purpose on earth. Have you identified your own personal authority? If you believe you have, are you functioning in it to the fullest extent that you would like to and that you are able to?

Four Foundational Principles for Understanding Authority

In this book, you will discover how to apply four foundational principles for understanding authority and entering into the power of your personal domain:

1. The Principle of the Author: The release of your personal authority is linked to the origin of your gifts and power, by which you can fully carry out your life’s purpose through your personal domain. Once you discover the true source of the authority that is inherent within you, opportunities for experiencing fulfillment and for contributing your unique gifts to the world will open wide.

2.The Principle of Authorization: You not only have personal authority within you, but you also have the permission and the right to carry it out in the world. No matter what your past experiences have been, or no matter what restrictions you have previously felt, you have the authorization you need to start fulfilling your life’s purpose. You’ll discover the key to that authorization in coming chapters.

3.The Principle of Authenticity: No person is truly authentic until he is manifesting his inherent authority. Once you understand and become your true self—who you were born to be—your life takes on authenticity. In other words, you are real, or authentic, while you are being who you were meant to be and doing what you were meant to do. In the following pages, you will learn how to identify and develop your authentic self.

4.The Principle of Authority: The above three principles lead to this fourth and foremost principle of authority, which is twofold. First, everyone and everything is designed to fulfill its purpose. Because your authority is inherent, you are automatically equipped to be what you have been authorized to be and to do what you have been authorized to do. You have been designed to fulfill your life’s purpose. Your personal authority guides the focus of your life and enables you to accomplish what you were born to accomplish. Second, everything depends on and must yield to something else in order to function, grow, prosper, and succeed. As you read this book, you will increasingly see how you can tap into your unique design and begin to apply it to the various aspects of your life. Your personal authority will emerge, and you will be able to live an effective life as you work in collaboration with others to fulfill each other’s purposes.

Authority Is Personal but Not Exclusive

Because authority is in essence personal, some people make the mistake of thinking that it is therefore exclusive to them and has nothing to do with others. They may think, I’m following my personal authority, so don’t get in my way. Or, they may tend to pursue their unique gifts and abilities only for what they can get out of them. Yet that perspective does not reflect the nature of personal authority, which is designed to operate in concert with other people and for the benefit of others, as well.

Since authority is within every person, and since humans are social beings who interact in social institutions, what happens when my authority meets your authority in the family, in the government, in the church, in the business world, and in other relationships and realms of human interaction? Authority works in such a way that people’s personal authorities are interrelated and function interdependently in corporate life. This isn’t just an observation but a vital principle: we need each other’s authority to fulfill our own.

Personal authority is carried out in the context of many realms of life and in association with a variety of human interactions and organizations. It operates in conjunction with collective human endeavors, such as we experience in families, communities, governments, churches, nonprofit organizations, schools, small businesses, and large corporations.

Yet none of these relationships and endeavors can truly thrive and be successful unless each individual associated with them understands his personal authority and is operating under it. Personal authority empowers each person to contribute his greatest gifts and skills for his own fulfillment and for the benefit of the whole community—no matter how large or small that community may be.

What Is Your Dream?

What is your dream for yourself, your family, your business, your organization, or your nation? Many people don’t know how to live out their dreams or find their true place in the world because they don’t understand how to put into practice the above principles of authority. You may have some idea of your personal authority but are not fulfilling the vast potential still inside you; you recognize that you are living well below your abilities.

What is true on a personal level is also true on a corporate level. Most of our corporate, community, and national problems come from the fact that people do not truly understand or live in their personal authorities or function in the interdependent nature of authority, which occurs when people blend their gifts to work together for the good of the whole.

Three Keys to Activating Personal Authority

In Susan Boyle’s case, her potential to inspire and entertain people through her inherent gift of music had been limited through a series of setbacks, not the least of which was early rejection by her peers, and the low self-esteem that resulted. Apparently, as she grew older, even though she sang locally, she increasingly had a sense that life was passing her by.

What led to the change in her circumstances?

First, she was aware of her inherent, inner authority—her tremendous singing ability—and had not let that talent fall by the wayside but had tried to develop it as best she could. Personal authority is dependent upon your truly knowing yourself, knowing the authority inside you. It is impossible to exercise your authority if you do not know yourself.

Second, although circumstances in her life had prevented her from having a professional singing career in the past (she had even sent demo CDs to music companies, without success), Susan tried one more time. She made a conscious decision to act on her inherent authority. In fact, she had promised her mother, who had passed away, that she would “be someone.” Her success at “being someone” was not initiated by the fame and acclaim she received but because she exercised her inherent authority—who she was gifted to be—and the world took notice. When she employed her authority, she discovered the very real power of her personal domain.

Third, even though it was outside of her “comfort zone,” she submitted to placing herself in a situation where others could recognize her personal authority and enable her to pursue and develop it to the highest extent. Once she was willing to let that happen, her obvious talent commanded attention. The discovery of Susan Boyle’s outstanding musical gift serves as an excellent example of the nature of one’s personal authority and its interdependence with the personal authority of others. Please note carefully that I did not say her gift was created but rather “discovered.” The Britain’s Got Talent television show did not give authority to her singing gift but simply provided the stage for the release of her authority. In essence, she had always possessed the authority of her gift in the domain of singing, but she needed an audience and an opportunity to serve it to the world. Yet she almost didn’t try to be a contestant on the television program because she thought she was too old to pursue her dream. You are never too old or too young or too poor or too rich or too anything to pursue your inherent authority. What is natural within you will manifest itself if you allow it to.

Your Personal Domain

King Solomon, one of the wisest people who ever lived, wrote, “A gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great” (Proverbs 18:16), and “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings” (Proverbs 22:29). Susan Boyle’s gift made a way for her—it brought her before influential people who opened doors that enabled her to fulfill the inner dreams and longings she had held all her life. Although she had already exercised her gift in various ways in her local community, there was an even greater realm in which she was meant to share it.

Your authority also has a domain in which it is to be exercised. The size or scope of that domain, and whether you become “well-known” is not the issue. The issue is whether you will recognize what is inherent within you and exercise your gift for yourself and others. Your authority is your unique leadership ability in the world.

Many people allow their true authority to remain untapped. They have neither discovered nor pursued their special ability to contribute to their generation. Whether one is genuinely operating in one’s gifts is not necessarily measured by outward success. Both a multimillionaire businessman and a single mother struggling to make ends meet can still have hidden, untapped authority that, once released and manifested, will bring something of tremendous value to their lives and the lives of others.

The only way you can exercise true authority is to recognize and start functioning in the power of your personal domain.

Counterfeit and Authentic Pursuits

When people violate the principles of authority, it is usually because they don’t have a foundational understanding of what genuine authority really is. Many individuals who have great gifts, talents, dreams, and promise have destroyed their futures by failing to implement these principles.

For example, many people pursue prosperity or fame for their own sakes, but these pursuits are not authentic. Instead, people should be pursuing their inner authority. They will discover that when they do so, prosperity will come toward them. Our prosperity is found where our authority is.

True authority is the right and the power to be who you were created to be. You can be a more effective parent, carpenter, hairdresser, entrepreneur, CEO, teacher, student, pastor, government official, or any other role or calling—you can be a more effective person—if you discover your true authority and understand and live out its principles.

If you have already discovered your personal authority and are pursuing it, you can be even more effective in it by applying the principles of authority delineated in this book. You can discover how they operate and what they can do in your life and vocation as you interact with theirs in various realms of life and learn how to blend your personal authority with others’ for greater results. You’ll also learn the origins of your personal authority, why authority works, how authority works, and how to implement it.

If the concept of personal authority is new to you, or if you have been frustrated because you know you have something to contribute to your generation but don’t feel you have been exercising your personal authority and want to be effective in it, you will find the tools you need in this book. Everyone can exercise authority because authority is within each of us.

Why Many People Are Afraid of Authority

Although everyone has personal authority, and although all the major realms of human interaction involve the use of authority, personal authority is still one of the most misunderstood principles in human relations.

Because of this, most people I meet are afraid of authority to some degree. You may be one of them. You may have picked up this book with some measure of apprehension. That is understandable, considering the way authority has been modeled for many of us. Most people misunderstand authority because they have never seen it in its true form. Authority has been misconceived, misdefined, misrepresented, and misused. We’re afraid of it because we don’t understand its nature and purposes. As a result, it is seen as a negative element rather than a positive one.

You may have had a bad experience with a parent, a teacher, an employer, or another “authority figure.” You may be a woman or a member of a race or community who has been told you are inferior and who has been prevented from developing your abilities to the fullest. Perhaps you have been a victim of oppression in which religious authority was used to control your life or, even worse, a religious authority figure took advantage of your trust and mentally or physically abused you. If that is the case, your distrust, fear, and hatred of authority are understandable. Or, you may be among those who believe that only people who have a certain title or a type A personality or who reach a certain “level” in life can have authority.

Authority as an aspect of life has been misunderstood and misused to the point that it has often become the opposite of what it was meant to be. Yet you will discover in this book that the nature of genuine authority is the antithesis of suppression and oppression and is actually the source of true freedom and fulfillment.

In the next chapter, we’ll explore some of the distorted and restricted views of authority that people have accepted, and the misconceptions they breed, which have brought us to what I believe is an actual crisis in authority. In every country of the world, people misunderstand, misuse, or abuse authority. As a result, we have too much of the wrong kind of authority and too little of the right kind of authority. Our failure to understand authority has led to a decreasing quality in people’s lives and a lack of true order, peace, and progress in societies and cultures of the world.

What Are You Authorized to Do?

Authority is therefore the key to fulfillment and effective living, the means to proper function in life, and the guarantor of success. Authority is the law of maximum performance. It is also the means of powerful, positive influence in other people’s lives. If authority is all of these things, then is it imperative that we all understand this critical concept? Obviously, yes.

Unless you know what you’re authorized to do in life, you will always experience some degree of dissatisfaction, uncertainty, frustration, and perhaps even anger in regard to your circumstances. Yet, you have the opportunity, responsibility, and ability to develop your own personal authority and carry out your unique purpose in life in conjunction with others.

You are uniquely designed for what you were born to do through your gifts, abilities, and personality. No matter what other people may have told you in the past about your potential, you can release the principles, power, and protection of authority into your life.

Each of the following chapters is designed so that, as you proceed through this book, you will gain a more complete picture of true authority and the many applications of authority to your life that will free you to be all you were meant to be. You’ll learn about the basic realms of authority and how to live fruitfully in each.

Through The Purpose and Power of Authority, you will come to…

recognize what true authority is—and what it is not
understand your own personal, inherent authority
discover how to identify the “territory” or area of life you are authorized to
learn the origins of true authority
gain order, simplicity, and peace in your life
respond constructively to others in their own realms of authority
exercise your intrinsic power and gifting
lead others into their own personal authority
live confidently and purposefully
be true to your life calling
maximize your gifts, talents, and skills
find true prosperity
work with joy
Susan Boyle determined to do something with her life after years of disappointment and therefore exercised the authority within her. “I made a promise to be someone,” she said. I want you to make that same promise to be someone. That “someone” is your true self manifested to the world. Susan Boyle not only has used her authority, but she is an authority. True authority is self-manifestation.

In the next few chapters, we will look at some foundational principles of authority that are an essential background for understanding and implementing your personal authority.

My Take:
This is a book I would recommend to every Christian. This culture has such a poor concept of authority, that we need a reality check. We have seen the abuse of authority on so many levels that we almost have an aversion to the very word.

This book speaks of not only appropriate authority over us, but also our own authority to live out our unique gifts and purposes. This is information desperately needed by the body of Christ today. Highly recommended.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Review: The Winter of Our Disconnect by Susan Maushart

If you have tweens or teens, you may have found yourself wondering about the amount of time they seem to spend plugged in, to the computer, the video games, the cell phone, the iPod. So you can understand why the story of a mother of 3, who pulled the plug, captured my attention. Susan Maushart took the radical position of completely banning computers, video games, iPods, cell phones, and digital cameras from her house for six months. I thought she was crazy, but awesomely courageous. I couldn't imagine me doing without technology, much less my teenagers. This book traces her journey, with candid looks and both her and her children's reactions and issues along the way.

I really wanted to love this book. It is honest, a sort of warts-and-all look at a family's adventures in living without technology. As intriguing as the premise was, I had a few issues with the book. For one thing, you are treated to copious amounts of profanity and Australian slang, from both the mom and the kids. Their values leave a lot to be desired and the mother openly praises her son for his opinions regarding his atheism. The book was at once highly entertaining and interesting and completely frustrating and irritating. There are some amazing statistics and research on brain function, and how technology has changed our kids' brains. The book is entertaining and informative. If you can deal with the worldly attitudes and language, you will have a very enlightening read.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Book Review: The Daniel Fast Made Delicious by John and Ann Marie Cavazos

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 authors are:

and the book:

The Daniel Fast Made Delicious: The simple fruit and vegetable fast that will nourish you

Siloam (January 4, 2011)

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


John and Ann Marie Cavazos created these recipes while serving on the staff of their Central Florida church when they realized that people were simply starving on carrot sticks every time the church held a Daniel Fast, instead of enjoying the variety of delicious, healthy foods that were originally intended to be part of this ancient eating plan.


A cookbook on the topic of fasting may sound like an oxymoron, but this eating plan modeled in the biblical account of the life of Daniel, often called a Daniel Fast, is actually loaded with fresh, delicious, health-promoting foods. The Daniel Fast Made Delicious includes more than 175 recipes, many of which are 100 percent gluten free and dairy free. Filled with easy instructions, simple steps, spiritual inspirations, and interesting food facts and figures, these Daniel Fast recipes are as nourishing to the soul as they are to the body.

Product Details:

List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Siloam (January 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381809
ISBN-13: 978-1616381806



Dear fellow Daniel Fasters:

This recipe book is not like anything else you’ve seen before. A recipe book for a fast—seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? I mean, isn’t the point of a fast not to eat? Well, in this case the Daniel fast is about what you can eat. The Daniel fast is a unique fast—taken from the biblical account in Daniel 1:8–21 where Daniel and his three Hebrew friends ate only vegetables and drank water for ten days. Our favorite part is verse 8, which reads, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies…” This is indicative of the kind of man Daniel was—a man of purpose!

Our goal here is not to talk about fasting, per se, or give you tons of supporting scriptures. If you have prepared and purposed to fast, then you probably already know these things or have read about them in books far more poignant than ours. Rather, this book seeks to give you options, and more of them, as you embark on this unique fast known as the Daniel fast.

The incarnation of this recipe book began in response to our congregation complaining that they didn’t know what else to eat besides lettuce and carrots when embarking on a Daniel fast. This told us that, number one, people didn’t know much about vegetables, and number two, they probably didn’t eat many vegetables! In addition, we found them spending more time bored with the lack of variety of food and less time focusing on why they were fasting. We decided to present recipes that would help them spend less time concerning themselves with what they shouldn’t eat and more time deciding what they could prepare for their families. Thus, The Daniel Fast Made Delicious was birthed!

Back in 2004, during one of our Daniel fasts, we felt frustrated because we really wanted to see people enjoy the fast and benefit from eating fruits and vegetables. We were walking around a lake near our home when the Lord popped an idea into Ann Marie’s spirit. She heard the word “Pumpkin Lasagna.” She had no idea what that was, but the Lord told her He would show her how to prepare that and other healthy dishes using only vegetables and fruits.

A journey of learning began where we educated ourselves about vegetables— we shopped and prepared and ate things we never dreamed we would eat. We did a lot of experimenting—sometimes hit, sometimes miss—and we loved it, our kids loved it, and what’s more, our family and friends loved it! We began preparing healthy dishes made only with vegetables and inviting our family and friends over to share in the fun. It quickly became apparent our signature dish would be Annie’s Pumpkin Lasagna (chapter 2), since everyone loved it. The rest is history!

Now, the idea is not for you to eat more—you’re on a fast, so you’re supposed to eat less. Use these recipes to make the most of the food you are eating during your fast, but turn your plate down for one or two meals as you feel God leads—

and only if your health permits. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.

The idea behind this recipe book is simply to educate you and to give you more healthy choices for you and your family as you embark on the Daniel fast. Those of you with spouses or family members who are not joining you on the fast will find this book invaluable. For those of you with children who are not fasting or who are picky eaters, there are some wonderful recipes in this book that will allow you to keep to the fast and also feed your family and not skip a beat when it comes to flavor! All of the Daniel fast recipes in Section 1 are wheat, gluten, and dairy free as well as vegan! In addition, the ingredients used in all of these recipes are organic—we encourage you to use organic whenever possible. If this is not possible, we encourage you to use a fruit and vegetable

wash on all nonporous fruits and vegetables. Additionally, with all of these recipes we use cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil because studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while raising HDL (good) levels. For further information, see www Why cold pressed? Cold-pressed oil is produced with the use of a low heat technique, which keeps the flavor, nutritional value, and color of the oil. Although it is more expensive it is also of higher quality. For further information, see -cold-pressed-oil.htm. One last comment: we like a lot of garlic and cilantro in our food, and our recipes reflect this. Feel free to adjust the amount of garlic or cilantro in any of the recipes in this book to suit your family’s tastes.

People tend to think that to eat healthy means to eat yucky—not so. The secret is in how you season and prepare your food. These healthy recipes will not only show you different kinds of foods you might not have thought about before, but they also give you some great ideas on how to season and prepare your meals. It’s all about choices, and the more informed you are, the more choices you’ll have. After the fast is over, don’t run out and get fast food! In Section 2 we have included dozens of healthy recipes so you can transition from the Daniel fast to making healthy eating a lifestyle! In addition, the pasta dishes are wheat and gluten free.

Medical studies now confirm that a large percentage of the health problems in America are digestive related. According to the website Digestive System Disorders, digestive issues for the most part cause a number of diseases, such as colon, rectal, and stomach cancer; diarrhea; diverticular disease; digestive tract gas; heartburn; hepatitis; inflammatory bowel disease; irritable bowel syndrome; lactose intolerance; and stomach and duodenal ulcers. According to a recent article written on digestive disorders:

The function of the digestive system is to take the food and liquids that we put into our mouths and then either turn these foods and liquids into nutrients or energy needed by the cells of our body, or alternatively turn them into waste products that are then expelled

by our body as bowel movements. When something goes wrong with this everyday process and some part of the process doesn’t work properly, the end result is one kind or another of a digestive system disorder. There are many common digestive system disorders.

In fact, almost any natural health practitioner will tell you that food, good or bad, plays a definitive part in your health. The Daniel fast is a wonderful way to begin a life of good eating and good health. When we started doing the Daniel fast many years ago in our church, we started at the beginning of the year, around January 7, and for the next twenty-one days we consumed vegetables, fruit, and water—only! We did the fast for a number of reasons. First of all, turning your plate down and using that time to spend with the Lord is always a good thing. Second, after the holidays, most of us had abused food so much with all the celebrating we had done that we actually looked forward to the fast. Third, after a few years, a number of our members began to experience the benefit of the fast, because not only did we lose weight but also we felt better. Symptoms our bodies had manifested—such as heartburn, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome—began to disappear. (NOTE: These recipes should never be used in place of physician-prescribed medications or medical procedures prescribed by your doctor for any and all medical conditions.)

Back in 1999, after we had moved from New York to Florida, our girls, who were six and eight at the time, seemed to always be getting colds, runny noses, ear infections—something anyone with children knows something about. I grew tired of taking them to the doctor every so often just to have the doctor give them another antibiotic. I was sharing my frustrations about this with our dear friend Ruth Chironna. She asked me if I gave our girls cow’s milk. “Of course,” I replied. “What else is there to give them?” She told me to get them off of it and introduce them to rice milk. I immediately began introducing a little bit of rice milk mixed in with cow’s milk until I had weaned them off of dairy altogether. That was over a decade ago, and I can count on one hand the number of times in the last decade when they’ve been really sick or had really bad colds—and they never had another ear infection. They are now eighteen and twenty and are for the most part extremely healthy! This extended into our food, and before we knew it, we were eating better and going to the doctor a lot less. Do we ever cheat and have that slice of pizza or a burger? Sure! But everything in moderation! Changing our diet to include more vegetables, fruit, no sodas, and more water has significantly altered our lives. We trust that as you employ these changes, starting with the Daniel fast recipes, you will experience the kind of health that God intended for us to enjoy!

Whether you begin the Daniel fast at the beginning of the New Year or want to start it right now, we believe that The Daniel Fast Made Delicious is going to change the way you look at food, the way you prepare food, and the way you feel about food. Get started today! You’re going to love these recipes!

What more can we say but…

Bon app├ętit!

Buen provecho!

Guten appetit!

My Take:

I was really excited when I heard about this book. I have tried a Daniel Fast a couple of times in the past with so-so results. The worst time, I used all recipes I'd found online and my kids wouldn't eat most of them. The idea of having delicious food to take your mind off what you've given up sounded wonderful. I also thought it would be a great way to add some different vegetable recipes to our everyday lineup.

I got the book and started reading through it. I was immediately drawn to the boxes on many pages with tidbits of information about fasting or special ingredients or accompaniments. Suggestions are made for some dishes about what to pair it with during the fast and after the fast is over. I found several new vegetable recipes that will appear in our menus. There are a wide variety of vegetables and other products utilized in the book, which turned out to be both good and bad. The authors live in Central Florida with a huge variety of fruits and vegetables available to them. I, on the other hand, live in a small town in Texas where cilantro is considered exotic. I buy most of my groceries in a town 20-25 minutes away and occasionally make it to the sprawling metropolis over an hour away.

There are numerous foods in the recipes that are completely unavailable in my area. Many can't be found in my town. Quite a few can't be found where I regularly shop. Several can't be found at the large Mexican grocery store located at the edge of the sprawling metropolis. In addition, quite a number of recipes include cheeses made from rice and various soy products like soy milk and tofu. Rice cheeses and tofu are not whole foods. They are highly processed foods that don't seem appropriate for a Daniel fast.

In spite of all that, there are a good number of recipes I am adding to my menus. First I picked out the vegetable recipes that I could find ingredients for locally or semi-locally. Next, I decided to try the recipes that utilize rice cheese or milk and make them for non-Daniel-fast times with regular cheese and milk. I also have a list of recipes I intend to try the next time I get to the metropolis and can obtain the ingredients. When all is said and done, I should have a nice group of delicious recipes to add to the everyday lineup and a smaller group to use during a Daniel fast. All in all, this was an interesting read.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Book Review: Pause for Power: A 365 Day Journey in the Scriptures by Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe

Dr. Wiersbe has done it again.  A well-respected Bible teacher for many years, Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe has many books to teach you more about the bible, including his popular Be series. Pause for Power  is a year-long devotional. Each day's reading includes a passage of scripture to read of which a verse is quoted. Following the verse are one to three paragraphs helping you to dig deeper. This is wrapped up by Something to Ponder, a question to chew on as you go on your way. If you read the scriptures listed at the top of the page each day, by the end of the year, you would have read and studied 15 entire books of the bible: Job, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter and 1 John.

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher and the former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago. For ten years he was associated with the “Back to the Bible” radio broadcast, first as Bible teacher and then as general director. Dr. Wiersbe has written more than 160 books. He and his wife, Betty, live in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Product Details:

List Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; 2 edition (November 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 078140374X
ISBN-13: 978-0781403740

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Book Review: Caroline's Choice by Martha Rogers

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:

Caroline’s Choice

Realms (January 4, 2011)

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


Martha Rogers is a former schoolteacher and English instructor whose first book in the Winds Across the Prairie series, Becoming Lucy, became an immediate best seller. Morning for Dove (May 2010) is the second book in this series, with Finding Becky (book 3) releasing Fall 2010. Rogers lives with her husband in Houston, Texas.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (January 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381930
ISBN-13: 978-1616381936


Oklahoma Territory, September 1907

Caroline Frankston’s hands clinched into fists, her breath coming in short spurts. Through the parlor window, she watched life go on in a normal, orderly fashion, but here in

this room her world lay fragmented like shards of broken glass. Each piece cut into her soul, causing pain that she no longer wanted to bear. The bleeding had to stop. “If I don’t leave this town, I’ll never get married.” Caroline Frankston spun around to face her mother. “Barton Creek has no men who interest me, so I would like to move to Oklahoma

City and start a new life there.”

Her mother’s blue eyes flashed with anger. “You’ll do no such thing. You haveresponsibilities here.”

Caroline’s jaw tightened. Mother’s demands only caused more determination. “What responsibilities? Going to luncheons and meetings with you and sitting around listening to you decide what people should do?”

The rigid set of Mother’s mouth warned Caroline to be careful with her next words. Now was the time to stand firm and not back down. “I know you want what’s best for me, and

right now a move seems to be it.”

Mother remained silent, a vein in her neck throbbing in response to the tension in her jaw. A mixture of anger and disbelief sparked from her eyes. She stood tall, with her back

ramrod straight. Mother wouldn’t back down.

Envy for her brother’s freedom gnawed at Caroline. Being male, Rob could pick and choose what he wanted to do, and he’d proved it with his law office and his marriage to Becky last year despite Mother’s disapproval.

Without waiting for a response, Caroline headed for the door, but not without one last comment. “I’m sorry. I’ll be twenty-seven soon, and if I don’t do something now, I never

will. I don’t want to be stuck here as spinster with time on her hands and no purpose in life.”

She darted from the room and up the stairs before her mother could react and spew forth a torrent of words to thwart Caroline’s plan. Recently a college friend had written to her of the job openings at the new Carnegie library in Oklahoma City and invited her to come live with her in her town house with another roommate. Caroline had just told her mother she wanted to apply for the job and move to the city. This evening she would break the news to her father.

Standing in front of the mirror on her bureau, Caroline picked up a stylish blue hat and pinned it on her upswept hair. Although she did love the hat, it had been chosen by her mother, as had most of the clothes in Caroline’s wardrobe. In Oklahoma City she could set her own standards and not be dictated to by her mother.

Some of Mother’s ideas and beliefs about fashions and social protocol left Caroline with the feeling that no one could measure up to what the mayor’s wife expected, not even her

own daughter. Being the daughter of the mayor had its advantages, but now they hindered her and kept her from pursuing other avenues of interest.

She gathered up her reticule. Time had come for a visit with her sister-in-law to seek her advice. After all, Becky had once pursued a newspaper career without thought of marriage. She could tell Caroline what it was like to be a single, working-woman on her own.

But deep in her heart the real reason she wanted to see Becky lay hidden. Maybe Becky would have some insight into why her brother, Matt, had been so distant the past year. Of course Mother was delighted with that turn of events, but Caroline was deeply hurt and at a loss as to how to reach out to her old friend.

She glanced around the room that had been hers since her family’s arrival in Barton Creek seventeen years ago. She’d miss it, but the idea of being on her own filled her with excitement. She raced down the stairs and headed for the front door to avoid another confrontation with her mother. When her voice called out from the parlor, Caroline pretended not to hear and closed the door behind her.

She walked toward town, her feet disturbing the fallen leaves and making them swirl about her feet. Late September should bring cooler air to match the changing of the colors in the trees, but not this year. Caroline wished she’d worn a lighter weight shirtwaist and a less heavy skirt, but Mother had insisted on storing all summer clothes away for the fall season. At the next corner she turned onto Main Street, thankful she lived such a short distance from town.

A few more motorcars dotted the streets, which were now completely bricked. As mayor, her father planned to replace the boardwalks where people now strolled in front of business establishments with real sidewalks. She walked past the post office, the jail, and several other stores and shops before reaching the newspaper offices.

The odor of printer’s ink greeted her nose as Caroline stepped through the doorway of the Barton Creek newspaper building. The bell over the door jangled and caused everyone but Becky to look up to see who had come in. The staff on the paper had certainly grown since Mr. Lansdowne made the paper available seven days a week. Becky sat at her desk behind the railing separating the office space from the entryway, staring at whatever was in the typewriter before her.

One of the young men jumped up from his chair. “How can I help you, Miss Frankston?” Caroline smiled and nodded toward Becky. “I’m here to see Mrs. Frankston.”

Becky glanced up then. “Oh, my, I was so engrossed in my story that I didn’t hear the bell.” She strode over to the gate in the railing. “What brings you here today?”

“I wanted to talk with you if you have time, but I can see you’re busy, so I’ll come back later.”

Becky pushed through the gate. “No, no, it’s fine. I think I’m in need of a break about now.” She turned to the young woman across the room. “Amy, would you tell Mr. Lansdowne I’m taking a break and will be back shortly? I’ll stop at the bakery and bring back pastries. He’ll like that.”

“Of course, Rebecca. Have a nice visit.” The young clerk returned to the business on her desk.

Caroline admired Becky’s attire. She wore the plainest of skirts and shirtwaists but made them come alive with fashion even though the signs of her coming motherhood were evident. Caroline would have been called a “Plain Jane” if she wore the same. Something about her sister-in-law gave life to whatever she touched or wore, one trait Caroline sorely envied.

Becky linked arms with Caroline. “Now, let’s head to Peterson’s for tea and cookies.”

When they stepped out onto the boardwalk, Becky breathed deeply. “Isn’t it a beautiful day? Although it’s too warm for me, I love this time of year.”

“I like it too,” Caroline responded, although at the moment all she could sense was the stench of horse droppings and the fine layer of dust and dirt over everything. She glanced at the woman beside her. “So, you’re still going by Rebecca at the office?”

“Yes. That’s my byline on all my articles, so they all call me Rebecca.” Besides reporting on town events, Becky wrote a column for women in the Barton Creek Chronicle each week to inform them of the opportunities and advantages of voting for their government leaders.

Caroline laughed. “But you’ll always be Becky to the rest of us.”

Becky returned the laugh, but hers had a musical quality that had earned the friendship of most of the people here in her hometown. “I don’t mind it at all now. Rob convinced me I could be both, and he was right.” She glanced up toward the windows of her husband’s law offices.

At least Becky and Rob had rediscovered the love they’d had for each other as youths, and now they were as happy as any married couple Caroline had seen. Mother hadn’t been too pleased with her son marrying a Haynes, and even now that Ben Haynes headed one of the wealthiest ranches in the area, her attitude hadn’t changed, especially since Becky chose to continue her job at the newspaper after learning a child was on the way. To Mother, Becky would always be a cowgirl.

When they had entered the bakery and ordered their tea and pastry, Caroline chose a table away from the window so they would have more privacy.

“So what is it that you want to talk with me about?” Becky unwrapped her pastry and pinched off a small piece.

Caroline stirred her tea and grinned. “I’m moving to Oklahoma City. My roommate at college, Madeline Barrows, has invited me to come live with her, and I have a good chance at a job at a library there.”

Becky dropped her pastry, spreading crumbs in its wake. She grabbed a napkin and wiped the bits off the table. “You’re doing what? Leaving Barton Creek? But what does your family say?”

“Mother is completely against it, and by now she’s probably let Father know, and I don’t know what he’ll say. It really doesn’t matter because my mind is made up.”

“But what about Matt? Have you told him?”

Caroline dipped her head and concentrated on stirring her tea. “You know how much I care about Matt, but over the last few years his interest in me has dimmed. He’s barely spoken to me since we ate together at the July Fourth celebration. I don’t know what else to do.”

Becky leaned forward. “I can’t tell you much since I don’t see him very often anymore. He’s been quiet and withdrawn the Sundays we go out to the ranch for the family dinner. When we were younger, we enjoyed doing lots of things together, but that changed when I came home from college. And since I’ve married Rob, he’s been much less open with me.”

They sat in silence for a moment. Caroline’s heart ached with the image of Matt sitting astride his great stallion and riding across the range. She bit her lip and leaned toward Becky. “I–I can’t bear the thought of being a spinster, and there’s no one here in Barton Creek except Matt I would consider as a husband. More opportunities to meet young men are available in the city. Many of my college friends stayed in the city, and I’ve been writing to several of them, and with Madeline’s invita tion, the time seems right. Although I care for Matt, I can’t wait for him forever.”

Becky blinked and shook her head. “I used to think my brother was working hard to establish himself before he took on the responsibilities of a wife and a family. But now that the ranch is doing so well, I don’t understand is why he hasn’t been more willing to call on you. I remember how you two were always together for every social event that came along before you went off to school. I guess I always thought you’d be his wife when he finally made up his mind it was time to marry.”

“That’s just it. I did too, but I’ve waited a long time for him to make up his mind.” And they had been the longest years of her life. Now the time had come to look to the future and her life ahead before it passed her by completely. She turned to Becky and sat up straighter. “Now, tell me everything you know about going out on your own as a working woman!”

Matt removed his hat and wiped sweat from his brow with a bandanna. Fall may have been the season, but the air definitely spoke of summer. Late September usually brought cooler temperatures, but not this year. He stuffed the kerchief in his pocket and jammed the hat back on his head. Time to round up a few more strays.

He waved to Hank and headed toward the west pasture. The ranch hand rode up to join him. “You think some of the herd made their way out to Dawson land?”

“Yeah, they’ve done it before. Good thing those fences are around the oil rigs.” Ever since the wells started producing, the noise of the pumps attracted whatever livestock meandered that way. He usually found around half a dozen or so head lined up at the fence staring at the work going on.

Hank tilted his hat back on his head. “I know that parcel of land wasn’t any good for farming and such, but rigs sure are ugly despite the oil they’re pumping.”

“That’s what worried Pa the most, but since it’s away from everything and can’t be seen from the house, he decided it was better to go ahead with Geoff’s recommendations. So far that’s been a good decision.” Geoff Kensington had kept his word, and Barstow’s Oil did everything Pa had requested. The first money from the oil deposits had surprised even Pa and Sam Morris. The two had put the money into a trust for the future after sending the original landowner his share.

“Your pa is a good businessman. I’ve admired him for many years. Remember how he took me in along with Jake and treated us like part of the family?”

“Yes, that’s the way Pa was and still is.” Matt loved his father even more for his treatment of other folks. If he hadn’t believed in Jake, the young man would never have become a Christian and found out that the killing he’d been involved with in Texas was ruled self-defense. That cowboy might still be running from the law instead marrying Lucy and owning his own ranch.

Hank slowed his horse. “You know, I’ve been thinking. I’m not getting any younger, and the idea of settling down with a wife has its appeal. That young woman, Amy, who works with Becky agreed to let me be her escort for the church singing next week. You ought to ask Miss Caroline to it.”

Matt cast a sideways glance at his partner. “You’re a lucky man. Amy Garson is a pretty young woman.”

Hank laughed and shook his head. “Matt Haynes, you’re stalling me. What about Miss Caroline?”

Matt didn’t respond, but his mind filled with the image of Caroline Frankston. He did love her at one time, but she had chosen a life far different from his. Just as he was about to ask her to be his wife, she’d announced she was going off to college. He remembered the day like it was yesterday. She’d been so excited when she showed him the brochures with all the information. She planned to major in fine arts and languages. Those were two things he knew nothing about.

“Matt, you hafta talk to her and let her know how you feel. I seen your eyes when we’re in town and she’s around. You can’t look nowhere else.”

“She’s busy with her own life. Attending luncheons and meetings with her ma and doing all those things on committees and such. She has no time for me or for life on a ranch.” Besides, the more he thought about it, the more he realized one Haynes married to a Frankston was almost one too many. Becky could handle the mayor’s wife, but the idea of Charlotte Frankston as a mother-in-law didn’t appeal to him at all. And if Caroline

really cared, she wouldn’t have run off to college when she did.

As though reading his mind, Hank offered his opinion. “It’s that Mrs. Frankston, isn’t it? She is rather formidable, but if you married Caroline and brought her out here to the ranch, you wouldn’t have to deal with her mother that much.”

Matt narrowed his eyes and worked his mouth. It wasn’t anybody’s business what he thought of Mrs. Frankston. He may be considered a coward for not facing up to her, but it was his decision to make.

“Matt, I think you’re missing out on what life has for you if you let one woman ruin your feelings for another. If you really love Caroline, her mother wouldn’t make any difference.”

“That’s easy for you to say. Have you forgotten how Mrs. Frankston treated Ma and Aunt Clara when everyone thought Jake was a murderer? Then look at how she hurt Emily Morris and Dove. That woman is rude and has no respect for anyone not of her own standing, but she’s not the only reason, and it’s best to keep your opinion to yourself.”

“I understand, and I do remember those days, but I also remember Mrs. Anderson and how her heart changed. She was as mean as Mrs. Frankston toward Mrs. Morris and Dove until that prairie fire almost destroyed us all.”

“True, but I don’t see anything like that in the future to change Mrs. Frankston.” Matt flicked his reins and spurred his horse. “Let’s go hunt for strays. That’s why we’re out here.”

His love life was nobody else’s business but his. And as much as he was attracted to Caroline, he didn’t care to saddle himself for the rest of his life with a cantankerous mother-in-law like Charlotte Frankston.

My Take:
This is the third book I've read in this series and I've enjoyed each of them. Each deals with the characters in the same small town and their interactions and personal struggles. While the ending is fairly predictable, I would have been seriously put out if it had ended any other way. Watching the spiritual transformation of one character as she learned to ask forgiveness and the others around her as they had to extend that forgiveness and learn to trust her motives was nicely done. All in all an enjoyable read for an afternoon when you just want to curl up with a good book that won't strain the brain too terribly much.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Book Review: Unconditional? by Brian Zahnd

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 (January 4, 2011)

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


Brian Zahnd is the founder and senior pastor of Word of Life Church, a congregation in St. Joseph, Missouri. He and his wife, Peri, have three sons.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Charisma House (January 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 161638025X
ISBN-13: 978-1616380250


It should be obvious that forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith, for at its most crucial moments the gracious melody of forgiveness is heard as the recurring theme of Christianity. Consider the prevalence of forgiveness in Christianity’s moments of birth and sacred texts: As Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, they are instructed to say, “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” As Jesus hangs upon the cross, we hear him pray—almost unbelievably—“Father, forgive them.” In his first resurrection appearance to his disciples, Jesus says, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven.” In the Apostles’ Creed we are taught to confess, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.”

Whether we look to the Lord’s Prayer or Jesus’s death upon the cross or his resurrection or the great creeds of the church, we are never far from the theme of forgiveness—for if Christianity isn’t about forgiveness, it’s about nothing at all. Whatever else may be said about Christian people, it must be said of us that we are a people who believe in the forgiveness of sins—we believe in the forgiveness of sins as surely as we believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Most of us enter the Christian faith at least somewhat motivated, if not primarily motivated, to find forgiveness for our own sins. As we grow in the Christian faith, it is vital we become aware that we are called to be those who extend forgiveness to others, thus making the world a more forgiving place. If we enter the Christian faith to find forgiveness, we must continue in the faith to become forgiving people, because to be an authentic follower of Christ we must embrace the centrality of forgiveness.

That’s the theory anyway.

But in the real world of murder, rape, child abuse, genocide, and horrible atrocities, how viable is forgiveness? Is forgiveness just a pious idea that can flourish inside stained-glass sanctuaries, only to wither in the harsh realities of a secular world where stained glass cannot hide the ugliness of human atrocity? A rape victim may have learned the Lord’s Prayer as a child in Sunday school, but does the part about forgiving those who trespass against us have any bearing upon her situation? Is she supposed to forgive her rapist? Sure, forgiveness is good in the realm of relatively minor transgressions, but is there a limit to forgiveness? Are there some crimes that go beyond the capacity of forgiveness? Are there some sins so heinous that to forgive them would itself be an immoral act? Is forgiveness always possible? Or even always right? These are not theoretical questions; these are real questions that are forced upon us in a world where evil is so often beyond the pale.

For modern people, the iconic image of evil and the leading candidate for the unforgivable is the Holocaust and the evil architect of that atrocity, Adolf Hitler. Indeed, the Holocaust casts a long shadow over many aspects of the Christian faith and challenges Christian validity on several levels. While considering the topic of forgiveness, we must ask: Does the Christian concept of forgiveness have anything to do with the Holocaust, or is genocide indeed the realm of the unforgivable? When Christianity speaks of forgiveness, should there be an asterisk attached to the word to indicate that forgiveness is not applicable in extreme situations like the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, the ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, and the tribal massacres of Rwanda?

I’ve had people tell me not to worry about these extreme cases, because to teach people to forgive one another in the ordinary course of life is enough. But I disagree. If it can be shown that there are situations in which the call of Christ to love our enemies and forgive our transgressors does not apply, we have found the loophole to escape any meaningful Christian obligation to forgive others. Forgiveness then indeed becomes merely an ideal of piety restricted to a stained-glass showcase. The questions about how far forgiveness can and should extend are real questions asked by real people—perhaps most notably by Simon Wiesenthal.

Simon Wiesenthal has a haunting story to tell, and an even more haunting question to ask. He tells his story and asks his question in his famous book The Sunflower. Simon Wiesenthal was an Austrian Jew imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. In The Sunflower, Simon Wiesenthal tells his story and then asks the reader a hard question.

As the book opens, Wiesenthal is part of a work detail being taken from the concentration camp to do cleanup work in a makeshift field hospital near the Eastern Front. As they are marched from the prison camp to the hospital, they come across a cemetery for German soldiers. On each grave is a sunflower.

Wiesenthal writes:

I envied the dead soldiers. Each had a sunflower to connect him with the living world, and butterflies to visit his grave. For me there would be no sunflower. I would be buried in a mass grave, where corpses would be piled on top of me. No sunflower would ever bring light into my darkness, and no butterflies would dance above my dreadful tomb.

While working at the field hospital, a German nurse orders Wiesenthal to follow her. He is taken into a room where a lone SS soldier lay dying. The SS soldier is a twenty-one-year-old German from Stuttgart named Karl Seidl. Karl has asked the nurse to “bring him a Jew.” Karl has been mortally wounded in battle and now wants to make his dying confession—and he wants to make it to a Jew. The SS man is wrapped in bandages covering his entire face, with only holes for his mouth, nose, and ears. For the next several hours, Simon sits alone in silence with Karl as the dying SS soldier tells his story. Karl was an only child from a Christian home. His parents had raised him in the church and had not been supporters of the Nazi party and Hitler’s rise to power. But at fifteen, against his parents’ wishes, Karl joined the Hitler Youth. At eighteen Karl joined the infamous SS troops.

Now as Karl is dying, he wants to confess the atrocities he has witnessed and in which he, as a Nazi SS soldier, has participated. Most horrifying is his account of being part of a group of SS soldiers sent to round up Jews in the city of Dnepropetrovsk. Three hundred Jews—men, women, children, and infants—were gathered and driven with whips into a small three-story house. The house was set on fire, and Karl recounted what happened to his confessor in these words:

“We heard screams and saw the flames eat their way from floor to floor. . . . We had our rifles ready to shoot down anyone who tried to escape from that blazing hell. . . . The screams from that house were horrible. . . . Behind the windows of the second floor, I saw a man with a small child in his arms. His clothes were alight. By his side stood a woman, doubtless the mother of the child. With his free hand the man covered the child’s eyes . . . then he jumped into the street. Seconds later the mother followed. Then from the other windows fell burning bodies . . . We shot . . . Oh God!”

Karl is most haunted by the boy he shot, a boy with “dark eyes” who Karl guessed was about six years old. Karl’s description of this boy reminds Simon Wiesenthal of a boy he knew in the Lemberg Ghetto.

During the several hours that Simon the Jew sat with Karl the Nazi, Simon never spoke. At Karl’s request, Simon held the dying man’s hand. Simon brushed away the flies and gave Karl a drink of water, but he never spoke. During the long ordeal, Simon never doubted Karl’s sincerity or that he was truly sorry for his crimes. Simon said that the way Karl spoke was proof enough of his repentance. At last Karl said:

“I am left here with my guilt. In the last hours of my life you are here with me. I do not know who you are, I only know that you are a Jew and that is enough. . . . I know that what I have told you is terrible. In the long nights while I have been waiting for death, time and time again I have longed to talk about it to a Jew and beg forgiveness from him. Only I didn’t know if there were any Jews left. . . . I know that what I am asking is almost too much for you, but without your answer I cannot die in peace.”

With that, Simon Wiesenthal made up his mind and left the room in silence. During all the hours that Simon Wiesenthal had sat with Karl, Simon never uttered a word. That night Karl Seidl died. Karl left his possessions to Simon, but Simon refused them. Against all odds, Simon Wiesenthal survived the Holocaust. Eighty-nine members of his family did not. But Simon Wiesenthal could not forget Karl Seidl. After the war Simon visited Karl’s mother to check out Karl’s story. It was just as Karl had said. Karl’s mother assured Simon that her son was “a good boy” and could never have done anything bad. Again, this time out of kindness, Simon remained silent. Simon believed that in his boyhood, Karl might indeed have been “a good boy.” But Simon also concluded that a graceless period of his life had turned him into a murderer.

Simon Wiesenthal concludes his riveting and haunting story with an equally riveting and haunting question addressed to the reader.

Ought I to have forgiven him? . . . Was my silence at the bedside of the dying Nazi right or wrong? This is a profound moral question that challenges the conscience of the reader of this episode, just as much as it once challenged my heart and mind. . . . The crux of the matter is, of course, the question of forgiveness. Forgetting is something that time alone takes care of, but forgiveness is an act of volition, and only the sufferer is qualified to make the decision. You, who have just read this sad and tragic episode in my life, can mentally change places with me and ask yourself the crucial question, “What would I have done?”

And thus we are faced with a dramatic challenge to the possibilities of forgiveness. Is forgiveness always possible? Are there some situations in which forgiveness is impossible? Is this one of them? Can a dying, apparently repentant Nazi find forgiveness for his sins? Can a dying SS soldier who participated in Holocaust atrocities find forgiveness from God? And perhaps more challengingly, can he find forgiveness from his fellow humans? Would it even be permissible to offer forgiveness in this case, or would it be a betrayal of justice? These are the kind of questions that are raised by Simon Wiesenthal’s The Sunflower.

The second part of The Sunflower is a symposium of fifty-three prominent thinkers—Jews, Christians, atheists, philosophers, professors, rabbis, ministers, and others—who respond to Wiesenthal’s question. The respondents understood the real question as this: Is there a way that a person in Simon Wiesenthal’s position could offer forgiveness of some kind to the dying Nazi? By my count, twenty-eight of the respondents said no, offering forgiveness in this situation is not possible. Sixteen of the respondents said yes, there was some way in which forgiveness could have been offered. Nine of the respondents were unclear on their positions. Interestingly, the sixteen who were in favor of some form of forgiveness were all Christians or Buddhists (thirteen Christians and three Buddhists). Among Jews, Muslims, and atheists who responded there appeared to be unanimity in agreeing that an offer of forgiveness in this situation was impossible.

Conversely, most of the Christian respondents said there was a way in which forgiveness could be offered. Significantly, no Christian stated that forgiveness in this situation would be categorically impossible. It can’t help but be noted that a Christian worldview apparently radically influences how a person approaches the possibilities of forgiveness. And it should be stressed that forgiveness here does not mean pardon in a legal sense. Had Karl Seidl lived, he still would have been subject to the demands of legal justice despite any offer of personal forgiveness. Forgiveness here should be understood not as legal pardon but an invitation back into the human community. We will explore the relationship of forgiveness and justice later.

After surviving the Holocaust and publishing The Sunflower in 1969, Simon Wiesenthal went on to live a noble and humanitarian life. He died in 2005 at the age of ninety-six. In The Sunflower, Mr. Wiesenthal does a masterful job telling his story, and his question about the possibilities of forgiveness is important for all human beings, but supremely so for Christians, because forgiveness is at the heart of the Christian faith.

On the cover of my copy of The Sunflower is this question: “You are a prisoner in a concentration camp. A dying Nazi soldier asks you for forgiveness. What should you do?” I felt it was important that I try to compose an answer. So even though Simon Wiesenthal never personally asked me his question, here is my unsolicited reply:

Dear Mr. Wiesenthal,

First of all let me say I will not presume to sit in judgment of your actions. You showed kindness to a dying Nazi soldier as you held his hand, brushed away the flies, and gave him water to drink. You showed great kindness to his mother in not destroying the memory of her son. And I agree with Lutheran theologian Martin Marty who says, “Non-Jews and perhaps especially Christians should not give advice about the Holocaust experience to its heirs for the next two thousand years. And then we shall have nothing to say. Cheap instant advice from a Christian would trivialize the lives and deaths of millions.” Nevertheless, since you ask the question, let me try to reply. I cannot say what I would have done, only what I could hope I would have done. As a Christian I would hope that I would reply in something of this manner to my dying enemy:

“I cannot offer you forgiveness on behalf of those who have suffered monstrous crimes at your hands and the hands of those with whom you willingly aligned yourself; I have no right to speak on their behalf. But what I can tell you is that forgiveness is possible. There is a way for you to be reconciled with God, whose image you have defiled, and there is a way for you to be restored to the human race, from which you have fallen. There is a way because the One who never committed a crime cried from the cross saying, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ Because I believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I believe that your sin does not have to be a dead end, that there is a way forward into reconciliation.

“The forgiveness of which I speak is not a cheap forgiveness. It is not cheap because it was not cheap for Jesus Christ to suffer the violence of the cross and offer no retaliation but love and forgiveness. It is not a cheap forgiveness because it requires of you deep repentance, including a commitment to restorative justice for those you have wronged. There is no cheap forgiveness for your sins, but there is a costly forgiveness. If you in truth turn from your sins in sorrow and look to Christ in faith, there is forgiveness—a costly forgiveness that can reconcile you to God and restore you to the human race. I cannot forgive you on behalf of others, but on my own behalf and in the name of Jesus Christ, I tell you, your sins are forgiven you. Welcome to the forgiving community of forgiven sinners. May the peace of Jesus Christ be with you.”

This is what I hope I would have said. But for all I know, I might have treated a dying enemy with far less kindness than you did.

In deep admiration of your dignity,

Brian Zahnd

As I read the responses from the twenty-eight or so who argued against the possibility of offering forgiveness to the dying Nazi, I found many of their arguments very compelling. Nevertheless, I’m convinced that if forgiveness is impossible for a repentant war criminal simply because his sins are too terrible, then the Christian gospel is a fairy tale, and we might as well abandon the charade. But as the Apostles’ Creed says, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.” Christianity is a faith of forgiveness.

The Christian life is a prayer of forgiveness: “Forgive us as we forgive them.”

The Christian life is a suffering cry of forgiveness: “Father, forgive them.”

The Christian life is a commission to forgive: “If you forgive anyone, they are forgiven.”

So even in the face of Simon Wiesenthal’s challenging question and the sympathy I may feel for those who argue that forgiveness could not be offered by a Jew to a dying Nazi, I am fully convinced that to deny the possibility of forgiveness is to deny the very heart of the Christian gospel. The oft-quoted words of Jesus, “with God all things are possible,” not only include forgiveness but also especially pertain to forgiveness. And the call of Christ to take up our cross and follow him is very specifically a call to love our enemies and end the cycle of revenge by responding with forgiveness.

Of course there is a cheap forgiveness that is worthless and an affront to justice. Essentially, the Buddhist position is that evil is a nonexistent illusion, so there is really nothing to forgive. This is nothing like the Christian position. Christian forgiveness is not a cheap denial of the reality of evil or the trite sloganeering of “forgive and forget.” That may suffice for minor personal affronts, but it is hollow and even insulting when applied to crimes like murder, rape, and genocide. No, Christian forgiveness is not cheap. Rather it is costly because it flows from the cross—the place where injustice and forgiveness meet in a violent collision. Christian forgiveness does not call us to forget. Christian forgiveness allows us to remember but calls us to end the cycle of revenge.

I have found it very interesting to ask non-Christians what Jesus taught. Nearly without exception they will mention that Jesus taught us to love our enemies. Among nonbelievers, Jesus seems to be famous for teaching that his disciples should love their enemies. Yet when I ask Christians what Jesus taught, they very rarely bring up this commandment. But I think the intuition of the non-Christian is correct—Jesus’s emphasis on loving enemies is central to Jesus’s teaching and is especially prominent in the Sermon on the Mount. The command to love your enemy is memorable because it is radical. But the command to love your enemy is a command that we who are followers of Christ tend to forget because it is so very hard to do.

Yet Sermon on the Mount Christianity is the very kind of Christianity that can change the world. The Christlike love that absorbs the blow and responds with forgiveness is the only real hope this world has for real change. To respond to hate with hate enshrines the status quo and only guarantees that hate will win—it’s what keeps the world as it is. We tend to think that our hatred of our enemies is justified because we can point to their obvious crimes, and, as the logic goes, if we were in charge instead of our enemies, things would be different. But history tells a different story. Hatred, no matter how justifiable, simply fuels the endless cycle of revenge. Nothing really changes except that lines on a map get redrawn. Meet the new boss; same as the old boss. Christianity has more to offer the world than recycled revenge.

September 11, 2001, is testament to the power of hate. On that day, nineteen men filled with hate and armed with box cutters changed the world. Think about that.

Nineteen men
Box cutters
Changed the world

It seems almost incredible, but it seems to be true.

Yet as followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to believe in the radical proposition that love is more powerful than hate. We are called to believe that although hatred may be very powerful, it’s love that never fails, and that love is the greatest thing of all. If we hate our enemies because they first hated us, and return hate for hate because that’s what hate does, we will continue to live in the ugly world of hate and its endless cycle of revenge. But when love enters the world of hate and is willing to love even its enemies, a new and real kind of change comes to the world—a change where hate does not have the last word. Yes, nineteen men full of hate and armed with box cutters changed the world. Or did they? Did the world change, or was that day simply the addition of the latest chapter in the long legacy of hate? Maybe the world didn’t change at all; maybe it’s just the same old thing that’s been happening since Cain killed Abel.

Jesus Christ taught us to love our enemies and to pray for those who abuse us. And he modeled it to the extreme. He carried his cross to Calvary and there forgave his enemies. As Christians, we believe that Calvary is the time and place that the world began to change. Did nineteen men full of hate and armed with box cutters change the world? What about twelve men full of love and armed with forgiveness? Yes, in the Upper Room on the evening of the Resurrection, Jesus breathed upon his disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven.” Loving and forgiving our enemies, this is how we are to change the world!

During the Armenian Genocide of 1915–1917, one and a half million Armenians were murdered by Ottoman Turks, and millions more were raped, brutalized, and forcibly deported. From the Armenian Genocide comes a famous story of a Turkish army officer who led a raid upon the home of an Armenian family. The parents were killed, and their daughters raped. The girls were then given to the soldiers. The officer kept the oldest daughter for himself. Eventually this girl was able to escape and later trained to become a nurse. In an ironic twist of fate, she found herself working in a ward for wounded Turkish army officers. One night by the dim glow of a lantern, she saw among her patients the face of the man who had murdered her parents and so horribly abused her sisters and herself. Without exceptional nursing he would die. And that is what the Armenian nurse gave—exceptional care. As the officer began to recover, a doctor pointed to the nurse and told the officer, “If it weren’t for this woman, you would be dead.”

The officer looked at the nurse and asked, “Have we met?”

“Yes,” she replied.

After a long silence the officer asked, “Why didn’t you kill me?”

The Armenian Christian replied, “I am a follower of him who said, ‘Love your enemies.’”

She simply said, “I am a follower of him who said, ‘Love your enemies.’” For this Christian, no further explanation was necessary. For her, forgiveness was not an option; it was a requirement. Do we carry the same conviction? Do we see the practice of forgiveness as synonymous with being a Christian? When grappling with the question of forgiveness, we eventually have to grapple with the question of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. It’s all too easy to reduce being a Christian to a conferred status—the result of having “accepted Jesus as your personal Savior.” But that kind of minimalist approach is a gross distortion of what the earliest followers of Jesus understood being a Christian to mean. The original Christians didn’t merely (or even primarily) see themselves as those who had received a “get out of hell free” card from Jesus but as followers, students, learners, and disciples of the one whom they called Master and Teacher. Jesus was the master, and they were the disciples.

What does it mean to be a disciple? If someone were a disciple of the sitar master Ravi Shankar, it would be assumed that they hoped to learn to play the sitar with great skill. If someone were a disciple of a kung fu master, it would be assumed that they hope to eventually master the art of kung fu. So, if we call ourselves disciples of Jesus, what is it we are trying to learn? What is it that Jesus offers to teach us when we heed the call to follow him? What is Jesus the master of, which we seek to learn? The answer is “Life.” Jesus is the master of living well, living rightly, living truly. Jesus is the master of living a human life as God intended. And at the center of Jesus’s teaching on how we should live is the recurring theme of love and forgiveness.

For those who are serious about being a disciple of Jesus, serious about learning to live the way he taught, the Sermon on the Mount is of supreme importance. This is where Jesus sets forth his radical vision of how we should live. And make no mistake about it; it is radical—so radical that for much of Christian history, the church has occupied theologians in finding ways to get around it. Some theologians have suggested that Jesus never actually expected us to live the Sermon on the Mount; rather it was a disingenuous teaching to “drive us to grace.” As the argument goes, in attempting to live the Sermon on the Mount we would find it simply can’t be done, and then we would look to grace as an alternative to obeying Christ. Not grace to live the Sermon on the Mount, but grace not to live it.

This interpretation is pretty far-fetched, to say the least, but surprisingly common. Other theologians have argued that the Sermon on the Mount should be viewed as attitudes of the heart, but not as commandments to be actually obeyed. So that as long as you have the attitude of love in your heart, you don’t have to actually go the second mile or actually turn the other cheek. I suppose this means that when you are treated unkindly you can retaliate like everyone else, but you are to do so with a “kindly attitude” in your heart. Of course this turns Christianity into nothing more than a nice religion of private piety—something that has been regularly done throughout the centuries. But we should keep in mind that Jesus was not crucified for teaching people to have a cheerful attitude. Jesus was crucified for teaching there was another way to live than adhering to the pharisaical religion of Israel or the brutal empire of Rome. It should be obvious from an honest reading of the Gospels that Jesus expected his disciples to master the lessons he taught and actually live a life centered on love and forgiveness. And Jesus expects his modern-day followers to do the same—to become disciples of love who master the art of forgiveness. Jesus was under no illusion that this is an easy life. In his sermon he called it a narrow and difficult road, but he also called it the road that leads to life.

The most common and vigorous protest against any serious attempt to live the Sermon on the Mount is that it’s not “practical.”

Not practical?

Practical is a very utilitarian (and at times ugly) word. In this case, it is code for complicity with the status quo and accepting the world as is as the only legitimate vision for humanity. Beforewe can even try to live the Sermon on the Mount, we must first experience the liberation of our imagination. If we only listen to the “practical” men who run the world as it is, we will end up settling for the anemic interpretation that the Sermon on the Mount is about private attitudes of the heart and not about Jesus’s radical vision of love and forgiveness.

We must keep in mind that we are told the Sermon on the Mount is not practical by those who have a deep commitment to (and perhaps a vested interest in) perpetuating the status quo. These

practical men seek to control not only the way the world is run but even our imaginations. They tell us, “This is just the way the real world works,” and thus they seek to confine Jesus to a “heavenly” kingdom while they get on with the practical business of running the “real” world. But the Holy Spirit is a liberator of imagination, and we must reject the arrogant pretense of the principalities and powers along with their bloody pragmatism. The church with a Christ-inspired vision and a Holy Spirit–liberated imagination is to be that realm where the followers of Jesus prove the practical men wrong by actually living the Sermon on the Mount. To live the Sermon on the Mount, we first have to rebel against the powers that be. We have to believe that there is another way of being human. We have to believe that Jesus taught and modeled that way.

The twentieth century was one of the bloodiest and most hate filled centuries in human history. It was a century defined by war, especially the two great World Wars—The War to End All Wars . . . and the one that came after that. As the children who were born at the close of World War II came of age, they began to imagine an alternative to the hate and war that had defined their parents’ generation, and so they sang and spoke of “love and peace.” The problem was that no one could actually live it. As Larry Norman wryly observed, “Beatles said all you need is love,
and then they broke up.”6 The “love and peace” generation of the sixties wasn’t wrong in trying to imagine something better than a world filled with hate and war—it was wrong in not finding a better messiah than the Beatles. Jesus didn’t just talk about love and peace; he lived it to the extreme. When Jesus prayed for his enemies to be forgiven as they drove the nails into his hands, he was living his own sermon and validating his right to preach it. After that, no one could dare claim that Jesus’s teaching was not “practical.” Jesus had lived it, died for it, and been vindicated by God in resurrection. His call is as vibrant and exciting today as it was two thousand years ago when he first issued it to Galilean fishermen: “Follow me.” It’s an invitation to follow Jesus in his radical way of enemy-love and costly forgiveness.

If the only way of responding to the evil of injustice is retaliation and revenge, we conspire with the powers of darkness to keep the world an ugly place. This is why Jesus (upon his own authority!) dared to countermand the Torah and alter the law of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” with his radical command not to resist the one who is evil and to turn the other cheek. A world in which tit-for-tat retaliation is the rule remains an ugly place where too many people are missing an eye and a tooth. Or, as Mahatma Gandhi observed, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Jesus’s vision is to end the ugliness of revenge and make the world beautiful through grace.

Grace is the distinctly Christian alternative to the tired system of retaliation that perpetuates pain and leaves the whole world blind. Grace is God’s idea of how the world can be made new. Grace is why Jesus could call the poor and persecuted . . . the mournful and meek . . . blessed. Jesus’s entire life and message were the embodiment of the grace that triumphs over the cold pragmatism of a world where the strong dominate the weak. Jesus’s message of love and forgiveness is not rooted in a naive optimism but in the grace that takes the blame, covers the shame, and removes the stain and the endless cycle of revenge.

Grace is the antidote for the Eastern concept of karma. Karma is the ancient idea that what goes around comes around, and there is no escape from it, that retribution always has the final word. But grace travels outside the rules of karma and gives a different final word. Of course, the very basis of the Christian gospel is that, because of what Christ accomplished on the cross, there is a way for sinners to be saved from the destructive consequences (karma) of their sins. But Christians are not just recipients of forgiving grace; we are also called to be those who extend the grace of forgiveness to others. Christians are to be carriers of grace in a world cursed with karma and endless cycles of revenge.

Grace is the great treasure of the kingdom of God, or as Jesus described it in his parable, a pearl of great price. That pearl is the gospel of the kingdom of heaven. It’s the pearl of the gospel of grace that makes beauty out of ugly things. That’s what grace does. Karma doesn’t have the final word, and the ugliness of vengeance is not the final mark left upon humanity. What could be more ugly than the murder and rape of a helpless Armenian family at the hands of Turkish soldiers? Yet from that ugly episode emerges a beautiful story of grace and forgiveness.

So, ultimately, for the committed Christ follower, the question of forgiveness is not a question of whether forgiveness is possible, but a question of how we can find the grace to offer forgiveness. We may discover that we offer forgiveness to transgressors and offenders the same way that Jesus did—amidst great suffering. In our feelings-oriented culture, it’s easy to equate forgiveness with having certain feelings. Forgiveness is not a feeling. Forgiveness is a choice to end the cycle of revenge and leave justice in the hands of God. Very often we forgive our enemies by entering into the sufferings of Christ who forgave from the cross. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer says in The Cost of Discipleship, “The call to follow Christ always means a call to share the work of forgiving men their sins. Forgiveness is the Christlike suffering which it is the Christian’s duty to bear.”7 Dietrich Bonhoeffer was no starry-eyed idealist who didn’t know about the reality of evil. He wrote these words during the rise of Nazism in Germany and would eventually die at the hands of the Nazis. Bonhoeffer’s theology of forgiveness was forged in the crucible of real and costly suffering, but for Bonhoeffer, the cost of discipleship settled the question of forgiveness.

My Take: Unless you are amazingly forgiving, at a Christlike level, you probably need to read this book. In this book you will find true stories that will amaze you and concepts backed by scripture that will challenge you. This book will have you rethinking what true biblical forgiveness is and how far we have strayed from the mark. You will meet people throughout history who have demonstrated astonishing levels of forgiveness in situations unimaginable to us. It's easy to forgive our enemies as long as we keep that list to the guy who cut us off in traffic and the woman at the office who steals our office supplies. But what would we do faced with life-threatening violence, loved ones taken from us, abuse and other horrors? What would Jesus really do? What is radical forgiveness?

Also interesting were his thoughts on violence and how it was thought of in the early church. I am definitely thinking about my fellow man in a different light and forgiveness at a whole new level. If you want to know what true biblical forgiveness looks like, be sure to read the chapter on the Nickel Mines incident. I was moved to tears. Highly recommended.