Book Recommendation: Diamonds in the Dust by Shirley Mowat Tucker

Back cover blurb:

Straight out of South Africa comes the poignant tale of Ida Morgan: her husband murdered, abandoned by God, and alone in the world. Ida’s road to healing and wholeness is paved by diamonds in the dust. Author Shirley Mowat Tucker is a native South African who, through the eyes of Ida Morgan, leads the reader into her country’s secret places… places where there are still wicked men doing wicked things… places where the innocent and defenseless are preyed upon… places drenched in the same bitterness and grief that Ida Morgan now understands first hand.

Narelle: Widowed and childless, Ida Morgan lives in her secure and comfortable home and struggles to rebuild her life after her husband’s brutal murder a few years earlier. She rescues a young girl from a plastic garbage bin floating in a swollen river and begins a life changing adventure that will challenge her attitude and beliefs concerning the plight of orphaned children.

A fast paced story ensues with a cast of characters who pulled at my heart strings and drew me into their incredible story of survival and hope against unspeakable evil and danger. The social fabric of South African society is exposed and the characters are inspired to leave their comfort zone and take action to right some of the wrongs in their community.

Diamonds in the Dust is a beautifully plotted page turner that I couldn’t put down and read within twenty-four hours. A captivating and honest story of forgiveness and redemption, I recommend this book to those looking for a compelling and thought provoking story that tackles tough social issues.

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Announcing our August Bible studies of the month

In August we are featuring Bible studies on Hannah, David and Bathsheba plus Ahab and Jezebel from our People of the Old Testament Bible study series.

The leader’s guides will be released in two eBooks. The first eBook will feature two studies on Hannah and two studies on David and Bathsheba. The second eBook will feature two studies on Ahab and Jezebel.

Book Recommendation: The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson

Back cover blurb:

Two Hearts. One Hope. Rose has been appointed as a healer’s apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, a rare opportunity for a woodcutter’s daughter like her. While she often feels uneasy at the sight of blood, Rose is determined to prove herself capable. Failure will mean returning home to marry the aging bachelor her mother has chosen for her—a bloated, disgusting merchant who makes Rose feel ill. When Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, it is Rose who must tend to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to understand emotions she’s never felt before and wonders if he feels the same. But falling in love is forbidden, as Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding. As Rose’s life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny.

Narelle: I was talking with my friend Karinne the other day and she mentioned she had read this great book. When she purchased the eBook she had no idea it was a Christian book until she was part way through the story. Karinne has very kindly written a book recommendation for us.

Karinne: This is a captivating young adult book based around the faerie tale of Sleeping Beauty. The story follows Rose a woodcutter’s daughter engaged as a healers apprentice and Hamlin the heir to a dukedom. Both characters struggle with their duties and situation in life as well as their relationship with God.

Dickerson will capture you in this tale with the characters sense of duty and situation in society. I found myself being pulled and pushed along with the characters while they discover themselves and the plan that is in place for them. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good faerie tale adaption for teenagers or young adults with romance and dark mysterious characters, and a strong message about faith in God.

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Deborah and Ruth Bible Study eBook giveaway

Narelle here. Today we are giving away free eBook copies of the leaders guide for our July Featured Studies of the Month.

All you need to do is visit our Smashwords page and use the coupon code XK73C at the checkout. The coupon code is valid today. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/177800

Smashwords will ask you to sign in or set up an account to enable the eBook to be stored in your Smashwords account. You can download the eBook in multiple formats including PDF, Epub and .mobi for Kindle.

If you’re wondering how to transfer a Smashwords eBook to your Kindle, please refer to my blog post How to read eBooks from Smashwords on Kindle Enjoy!

Book Recommendation: Red Ink by Kathi Macias

Back cover blurb:

A young Chinese woman, Zhen-Li—raised to observe the party line, including its one-child-per-family doctrine—falls in love with and marries a Christian, and adopts his faith. Though the couple downplays their Christianity in an effort to survive, Zhen-Li’s family is appalled, and she and her husband are ostracized. When she becomes pregnant for the second time and refuses to have an abortion, the persecution begins in earnest. Zhen-Li’s parents, under pressure from the government, pay to have Zhen-Li kidnapped and the baby aborted.

It is then Zhen-Li decides she must live up to her name—”Truth”—and take a firm stand for her faith, regardless of the consequences, and so she begins to regularly teach children about Zhu Yesu (“Lord Jesus”) and to distribute Christian literature every chance she gets.

Based loosely on the life of Christian magazine editor Li Ying, currently serving a ten-year prison sentence in China, the story of Yang Zhen-Li tells the desperate tale of her incarceration and separation from her family, as she continues to minister to other prisoners, and even to her guards.

Narelle: Red Ink is one of those books you will remember long after you finish reading. Zhen-Li’s story will stir your emotions as you journey with this courageous young woman who faces extreme persecution and pressure to recant her faith.

Kathi Macias has written an inspiring and challenging story. The true state of the hearts of the characters is exposed in an honest portrayal of the lengths people will go to achieve their selfish agendas. The power of intercessory prayer is masterfully shown as characters stand firm in the face of evil.

I highly recommend Red Ink to those looking for a story that will touch that place deep inside them and lead them to question how much suffering and hardship they would be prepared to endure when standing up for their beliefs.

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A Brief Prophetic History of Israel

by Deborah Horscroft

Below is a brief historical outline from Abraham to Jesus to help put our People of the Old Testament Bible studies into context.

The Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were the fathers of the nation that came to be known as Israel. Jacob (renamed Israel) had 12 sons and his descendents became the 12 tribes of Israel. They settled in Egypt around 1876 BC.

Moses and the Law: Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt around 1446BC. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, the generation who had rebelled against God and worshipped the golden calf had all died (other than the faithful Joshua and Caleb). Moses gave the people God’s law but did not enter the Promised Land. Joshua led the people into Canaan.

The Judges: For 480 years God’s people were ruled by Judges. Samuel was the last.

The Golden Age of Israel: Kings Saul, David and Solomon reigned over the united kingdom of Israel from 1050-930BC. Psalms and Proverbs were written during this period.

The Divided Kingdom: The Kingdom split into the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah), which maintained the dynastic line of David and contained the holy city of Jerusalem. Elijah, Jonah and Amos were prophets of this period.

The Fall of the Northern Kingdom 722BC: The Assyrians conquered Israel. Isaiah and Hosea were prophets during this period.

The Fall of Jerusalem 586BC: The people of Judah were taken into exile in Babylon. Jeremiah was the prophet of God’s judgement. Daniel and Ezekiel were written during the exile.

The Restoration 538BC: When Cyrus, king of Persia, conquered Babylon the Jewish exiles returned under Ezra and Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. Esther and Zechariah were also written during this period.

Between the Testaments 432BC-5BC: After the last group of exiles had returned under Nehemiah and the last prophet, Malachi, had spoken, there was a time of scriptural silence until…

The Birth of Jesus the Christ 5 BC: Now under the rule of the Great Roman Empire, Israel awaited the promised Messiah, born in Bethlehem in the line of Judah.

This very sketchy history, including all the dates, was gleaned from the very useful notes in the Zondervan NIV Study Bible, especially the historical timeline.

Book Recommendation: Back to Resolution by Rose Dee

Back Cover blurb: 

Bay Anders is lost. She enjoys every privilege a wealthy upbringing affords, but the void in her soul refuses to be filled. Her mother’s dying revelation drives Bay to the brink of self destruction, before a move to Australia changes everything. She embarks upon a search for her father that leads her to his island home, into a hazardous melting pot of hostile locals and a mystery – her father’s disappearance. The only person who can help her is a strong, self-assured and intensely magnetic man. Bay must fight an overwhelming attraction to stay focused on her goal. Flynn McKenna is hiding from the world. A past filled with mistakes drove him to withdraw from society and live in seclusion. But the arrival of a woman he cannot avoid shatters his solitary existence. As the search for Bay’s father unites them, can he resist his desire for her?

Narelle: I really enjoyed reading this book. Bay and Flynn are fascinating characters who you’ll want to get to know as their relationship develops throughout the story. There are a number of humourous moments as city girl Bay adapts to life on a remote North Queensland island. There was also an honesty in the way the author portrayed the growing attraction between Bay and Flynn and this book could be considered ‘edgy’ by more conservative readers.

The setting is gorgeous and I became absorbed in an idyllic tropical island setting that I didn’t want to leave when the book ended. Back to Resolution is Book 1 in Rose Dee’s series and I’m looking forward to reading Book 2, Beyond Resolution. I recommend this book to those looking for a fun and romantic contemporary story set in Australia.

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Ruth and Jubilee

by Deborah Horscroft

Every seven years the Israelite Sabbath year laws provided for the freeing of all slaves, the cancellation of all debts and the laying fallow of the land. After seven sabbaths on the Day of Atonement a “Jubilee” year was called, and in addition to these other liberations all land was returned according to the original Mosaic distribution. In this way land was not so much bought and sold, as leased until the next year of Jubilee (and priced accordingly).

One’s land could also be recovered before the year of Jubilee by redemption. Either the owner or a kinsman could redeem the land for a price proportionate to the number of harvests before Jubilee. This is what Boaz did for Ruth and Naomi.

The basis for the release of slaves, debts and land was God’s ownership of both the people and land. Since he had delivered them from Egypt into the Promised Land, neither they nor the land could ever be sold.

When Jesus teaches in the synagogue in Nazareth, he reads: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19, Isaiah 61:1-2)

Passages in the Old Testament such as this were part of a growing understanding by the people of God that as they had been redeemed from Egypt and Babylon, so the Messiah would bring liberty to God’s people. Jesus claimed that he was the fulfillment of these prophecies. (Thanks to R.B. Sloan’s excellent article on Jubilee in the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship, IVP 1992)

Book Recommendation: A Lineage of Grace (Unshaken) by Francine Rivers

Back cover blurb:

2009 Retailer’s Choice Award winner! In this compilation of the five books in the best-selling Lineage of Grace series by Francine Rivers, we meet the five women whom God chose – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. Each was faced with extraordinary – even scandalous – challenges. Each took great personal risk to fulfill her calling. Each was destined to play a key role in the lineage of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World.

Narelle: Ruth’s story is one of my favourite Bible stories. A Moabitess by birth, she married an Israelite who had moved to Moab with his family. She lost her husband, father-in-law and brother-in-law, leaving Ruth with her mother-in-law Naomi and sister-in-law Orpah. Naomi decides to move back home to Judah and Ruth insists on accompanying Naomi.

We journey with Ruth as she faces incredible hardships and remains loyal to Naomi. Ruth is prepared to take risks and follow her mother-in-laws advice, ultimately bringing justice for both herself and Naomi. I recommend ‘Unshaken’ to those looking for an inspiring and powerful story of love and hope.

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Redemption in Ruth

by Deborah Horscroft

The book of Ruth is a beautiful love story, not only of a man and a woman but of a foreigner from Moab and her Jewish mother-in-law, and of a woman stripped of everything who finds joy in the grandson who will be her “kinsman-redeemer”, continuing the family name and looking after her in her old age.

Many old church songs talk about being “Redeemed”, for instance “by the blood of the Lamb” but it is a word which has lost almost all meaning outside Christian circles, and perhaps some within them.

The concept is reasonably straightforward and was a common one in Biblical times. To redeem something is to buy back something which was rightfully yours in the first place, like going back to a pawn broker to get your grandmother’s antique brooch out of hock. In the Old Testament, portions of the Promised Land could be redeemed by the original owner’s family, people could be redeemed from slavery and God was frequently redeeming his people from the consequences of their sin: usually being captured by foreigners. One of the great acts of redemption in the Old Testament is celebrated in the Passover, when God redeemed his people from slavery in Egypt. The Jews were told by Moses to mark their homes with the blood of a slain lamb, so that the angel of the Lord would pass over their homes as he killed the first born in each home in Egypt.

In the New Testament, Jesus is revealed as the one who redeems God’s people from slavery to sin, paying with his own sacrificial death.

Ruth followed Naomi home to look after her, but also to cast herself upon the mercy of Naomi’s God. She followed Naomi’s advice, gained a real catch of a husband and went on to become an ancestress (foremother) of Jesus Christ.