Tag Archives: forgiveness

Reconciliation, not Rejection

Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.
Acts 3:19, NLT*

Peter’s not being judgmental here, not waving a big stick or speaking condemnation. If we could hear his tone, we’d hear urgency. Longing.

In the Temple, he’s speaking to a crowd about Jesus. He has just put it to them plainly: Jesus is the Messiah from God, whom they and their leaders have rejected and killed.

He’s also declared that they didn’t know the full story, and their choices were part of God working out His plan (Acts 3:17-18).

Now that he has laid out the truth, he’s calling for a response. He’s inviting them into forgiveness. Into the Kingdom, where they belong.

This is Peter, who denied his Lord three times. He can’t even claim ignorance for that. Only fear. But Peter knows from personal experience about the forgiveness and grace of God, about the love that longs to restore and reinstate and repurpose.

We know that love, too, so as we encounter people who don’t know Jesus, if the Spirit leads us to address some form of sin that’s holding them back, let’s remember that the goal is reconciliation, not rejection.

Addressing sin isn’t about “look what you did.” It’s about “this is serious, but don’t let it keep you from God’s love.” And instead of pointing fingers, we can speak from a place of experience: “God does forgive, because He’s forgiven me.”

Oh Holy God, You alone are Judge, and You are also Saviour. Give us compassion for those still trapped in sin, and speak through us to offer reconciliation. We know this is a hard topic, and many will take offense at the truth, but help us to speak it in love and to entrust the results to You.

Here’s Michael Card’s haunting question: “What Will it Take to Keep You From Jesus?” Let’s remember the heart behind the call.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Review: Thicker than Blood, by C.J. Darlington

Thicker than Blood, by C.J. DarlingtonThicker than Blood, by C.J. Darlington (Mountainview Books edition, 2015)

Christy’s life is a mess, and she has nowhere to turn. She walked out on her younger sister, May, after their parents died. That was years ago, and she couldn’t bear for May to see her now.

May still carries the grief of abandonment, and wonders what she did wrong. She thinks she’s forgiven Christy – until her wayward sister stumbles back into her life.

The story alternates between the two sisters’ points of view. Christy sees May offering unbelievable love and patience, while May reveals to her friends just how hard it is to give consistent acceptance to someone who seems so ungrateful.

There’s more to the story than that, of course. Christy’s job is on the line and she has an abusive ex. May’s about to lose her beloved farm to foreclosure. But it’s the relationships and the characters that drive the story.

I found this an honest look at the cost – and benefit – of unconditional love.

Thicker than Blood was originally published after winning the 2008 Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest. It’s book 1 in the “Thicker than Blood” series, and it’s free as an ebook on most platforms. For more about author C.J. Darlington and her books, visit cjdarlington.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Berry on Top, by Valerie Comer

Berry on Top, by Valerie ComerBerry on Top, by Valerie Comer (GreenWords Media, 2016)

It’s taken 10 years for Liz Nemesek to be willing to make even a passing stop in her hometown. Too bad the guy who drove her away came back first. Worse still, Mason Waterman is renting her parents’ old house, claims to have changed his life, and is now a good friend of her brother.

Liz can’t deny the changes – they were long overdue – but just because God forgave Mason doesn’t mean she will. Or that she’ll forgive God. Or admit that maybe she bears some responsibility, herself.

Past hurts, secrets, and Liz’ rejection of her childhood faith threaten to keep her from a chance at happiness with Mason, despite the matchmaking attempts of his young twins. But trying to do life her own way just gets her into an even bigger mess.

One of the things I appreciate about Valerie Comer’s romances is that her stories are about more than just the happy-ever-after. They’re filled with real people with real (and sometimes difficult) issues. They don’t gloss over hurt, but as the characters begin to change, we see the difference that God can make in broken lives.

Berry on Top is the sixth and final book in the Farm Fresh Romance series, and readers can look forward to a new series with some carryover of characters: the Urban Farm Fresh Romance series will be set in Spokane, Washington.

As well as the Farm Fresh series, Canadian author Valerie Comer has also written the Riverbend Novellas series and a stand-alone fantasy novel, Majai’s Fury. For more about the author and her books, visit valeriecomer.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

When We Get into Trouble

“Didn’t I see you out there in the olive grove with Jesus?”
Again Peter denied it. And immediately a rooster crowed.
John 18:26b-27, NLT*

Peter loved Jesus. I’m sure he wholeheartedly meant his earlier vow that he’d never deny his Lord. (Matthew 26:31-35)

Yet here he was, doing that very thing. Matthew’s account says Peter’s denial was so intense it involved cursing. And that when the rooster crowed and he realized what he’d done, he fled, “weeping bitterly.” (Matthew 26:69-75)

Why did he do it? Was he afraid? Or was he trying to stay “under cover” in case there was a chance to rescue Jesus?

Whatever his motivation, Peter’s denial came because he was acting on his own initiative and in his own strength.

Isn’t that when we get into trouble, too?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT*

Our best intentions can blow up in our faces. Peter’s experience reminds us how important it is to learn to listen to and rely on the Lord. He also reminds us of Jesus’ loving forgiveness when we mess up (see John 21).

Our God and Saviour, Your grace to forgive is beyond our understanding, but we receive it gladly and we rely on it often. Teach us to walk closer to You, to trust You instead of ourselves. Slow us down to listen before we leap. Make us people after Your own heart.

What better prayer than Matt Maher‘s “Lord, I Need You“?

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Because You Belong to the Lord

Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement.
Philippians 4:2, NLT*

Because you belong to the Lord.

We forget this perspective, forget that belonging to the Lord is supposed to make a difference in our behaviours and our motivations. Not so we can earn more love (or more salvation) – we can’t —  but because we love this God who loved us first.

We want to please Him. And we want the people around us to see the difference He makes in our lives. In cases like this, to see that we value loving Him more than we cherish our very real hurts and disagreements.

Euodia and Syntyche have had a serious falling out. They’ve worked as a team before, likely been close, so this is more painful than if they’d never been friends. Or perhaps they never really got along but were able to overcome it until now.

The friction is hurting the local body of believers. It’s also giving ammunition to the scoffers who think all this love-and-unity stuff is too good to be true.

And it does the same today. In every group of believers, there will be differences of opinion. Even conflicts. And our enemy loves to get us focused on anything that can divide us. The good news is, God wants to use these opportunities as ways to demonstrate His kingdom living. If we’ll rely on Him.

Because you belong to the Lord.

It’s not about us. It’s about God – the news of what He’s done for us and His power to save us from ourselves. We don’t have the luxury of indulging in hurt feelings and splits. Even if Euodia and Syntyche can’t work together anymore, like Paul and Barnabas, they need to reconcile in the common ground of Christ.

If we can make reconciliation more important than restitution or revenge, the world will recognize something – Someone – holy at work.

Our God, You ask us to do what’s impossible, but all things are possible with You if we’ll choose to believe. Conflict is part of living. Please help us to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel. Give us willingness and power to forgive, and remind us that forgiving doesn’t mean the “other side” is right. Help us to love those who have hurt us, and to pray for their good. Intervene in disputes among Your children. Help each to understand the other, and to see where confession, change and courage are needed. We ask this for the sake of Your Kingdom and Your reputation in this world.

Let Steven Curtis Chapman‘s “For the Sake of the Call” remind us of our greater purpose.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Character interview: Pam Lake

Pam Lake is  the heroine in the newest novel in The Women of Valley View series by Sharon Srock. Pam’s story releases this month.

Janet: Pam, thanks for visiting us today. It sounds like you have a great group of friends in Valley View. You’ve given your support to Callie and Terri in their stories, but how does it feel to be in the spotlight yourself?

Pam: Janet, thanks for having me. Being in the spotlight is not something I would have chosen for myself. It was tough to share the secrets of my past, even with my friends.

Janet: Let’s start with some surface chatter. I know you’re divorced, remarried to a loving man. Do you have children? A job outside the home? Hobbies?

Pam: I have two children with my first husband. Jeremy is the oldest. Then I have a daughter, Megan. They are not quite 14 months apart. I work four days a week in my husband’s law office doing computer research. It’s great to have a three day weekend each week. As far as hobbies go, I’m not a crafty type person, but I do love to cook.

Janet: And tell us a bit about Valley View. Where is it located, and what are some of the things you most appreciate about living there?

Pam: Well, Valley View is the name of our church. We live in Garfield, Oklahoma. Garfield is a small town in the central part of the state. I think the thing I appreciate the most is just the sense of community we have. We care about each other.

Janet: It sounds like you’re facing a life-changing struggle. Are there some wounds in your past that might not be as healed as you think?

Pam: Divorce always leaves wounds behind. I don’t think you can ever be so happy in a second or third marriage that it completely wipes away the baggage of the past. This is only multiplied if you have children with an ex-spouse. You will always have to find a way to deal with the ex for the sake of the children.

Janet: You have good friends who will stand by you. Do you also have a faith to help you through this crisis?

Pam: I thought I did. What I’ve come to realize is that the unforgiveness in my heart was just like a nasty, sticky clog in a drain pipe. I was trying to live a life of faith on the tiny drips of faith that managed to flow past the clog. Once I allowed God to flush the unforgiveness out of my system I discovered what I’d been missing for the last four years.

Janet: Tell us the truth: is it possible your abusive ex has changed? Or is this just more manipulation?

Pam: I think God’s love can change anyone. I wanted to believe that Alan was excluded from that, but he isn’t.

Janet: Do you want him to have changed? If he has, what does that mean for you? And what would it take to convince you?

Pam: You know, I honestly didn’t think it mattered. I have Harrison in my life now. But it didn’t take long for me to start dumping the baggage of the past onto someone who didn’t deserve it. I had to forgive Alan in order to fully love again. I don’t have to be convinced, I just have to leave it in God’s hands.

Janet: Even if Alan hasn’t changed, can you forgive him? Forgiveness doesn’t mean what he did was right, but letting go could help heal some of your pain. Easier said than done, I know!

Pam: Like I said, There comes a time when you just have to give it to God. Alan could never heal the wounds his words inflicted. But God could, and did, once I asked him to take the pain away.

Janet: I really hope things work out for you, Pam, and I’m glad you have a good support network.

===

The Women of Valley View: PamPam’s divorce broke her heart. The cruelty of her ex-husband broke her spirit. A bottle of sleeping pills almost took her life. Four years later the scars of Alan Archer’s emotional abuse are beginning to fade under the love of her new husband. When Alan returns to Garfield, Pam must learn that buried secrets and carefully cultivated indifference do not equal forgiveness.

Alan Archer has returned to Garfield with a new wife and a terminal heart condition. His mission? To leave a Christian legacy for his children and to gain Pam’s forgiveness for the sins of his past.

Two hearts hang in the balance waiting for the delicate touch of God’s healing hands.

 

Purchase links for The Women of Valley View: Pam
Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Pelican Book Group

Sharon Srock

Author Sharon Srock went from science fiction to Christian fiction at slightly less than warp speed. Twenty five years ago, she cut her writer’s teeth on Star Trek fiction. Today, she writes inspirational stories that focus on ordinary women using their faith to accomplish extraordinary things. Sharon lives in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma with her husband and three very large dogs. Her books include: The Women of Valley View: Callie and The Women of Valley View: Terri. The Women of Valley View: Pam released 11 April 2014.

Receive Sharon’s newsletter.

Connect with her at www.sharonsrock.com or on FacebookGoodreads or Pinterest.

Please visit Sharon’s AMAZON page to find current info on her books, and check out these free reads:

Free PDF: MEET THE WOMEN OF VALLEY VIEW

Free Novella: FOR MERCIE’S SAKE

Review: Imogen’s Chance, by Paula Vince

Imogen's Chance, by Paula VinceImogen’s Chance, by Paula Vince (Even Before Publishing, 2014)

Imogen Browne is a 20-something American with painful memories of Australia—painful because of the hurt she unwittingly caused the Dorazio family. She knows it’s time to try to make amends, and returns to Australia in search of short-term work. Marion Dorazio invites Imogen to board with them for old times’ sake.

Marion’s twins, Asher and Becky, are Imogen’s age, and their brother Seth is a few years older. It looks like the family has moved on from the accident that injured Marion—and from the second source of pain that none of them know Imogen had a part in. Why reopen old wounds?

When Asher is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, each family member’s turmoil begins to surface. Imogen, as the impartial visitor, can offer the support that the family are too emotionally involved to give. She doesn’t expect to fall for Asher in the process, and if he knew what she’d done, he’d never speak to her again.

Asher, Imogen and Marion carry regret over things they’ve been afraid to say—things that have caused hurts and misunderstandings. With Asher this has a flip-side, because he learned this behaviour after a childhood of saying too much.

What stands out to me is Asher’s health and the quest he and Imogen begin together. Should he accept the doctors’ prognosis that he’s likely to die, or dare he risk what he begins to discover the Bible says about healing?

Asher and Imogen both come from Christian backgrounds but neither thinks God is particularly close to them. Their search is organic to who they are and the situation they’re in. It’s not a sermon or an author-driven agenda. Essentially, they come to believe that God can heal Asher and that whether or not He chooses to do so, they need to trust in His strong love each day.

This is what I took from the novel, the reminder to rest in God’s love and to not be straining to see the good or bad the future holds.

Lest this sound too serious, I’ll mention that one of Asher’s methods to get his mind off the negatives that have filled his life is the practice of daily gratitude, which he doesn’t do like your or I might, in brief lists or even in a journal. Asher writes thank-you notes—very quirky thank-you notes.

Imogen’s Chance is a story of relationships and reconciliation, forgiveness and love. It pulled me in, to the point where I’d be irritated when I had to stop reading and attend to daily life.

Paula Vince is an award-winning Australian author. Imogen’s Chance is her newest novel, and it’s available worldwide as an ebook and in print from most online retailers. For the month of April 2014 she’s running a blog tour with multiple prizes. Details here. You can learn more about Paula at her website, and check out her blog, “It Just Occurred to Me.” You can also read an interview I did with Paula in 2012, as well as a recent interview with Imogen herself.

[Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.]

Interview: Meet Imogen Browne

Imogen Browne is the main character in the novel Imogen’s Chance, by Paula Vince.

Paula Vince photo

Paula Vince, author of Imogen’s Chance

Janet: Welcome, Imogen. I’m looking forward to chatting with one of the voices in someone else’s head for a change. Please tell us the basics about yourself: age, employment, educational background, the usual “stuff” that helps us place one another in the world.

Imogen: I’m 24 years old. Until recently, I’ve lived at home in New York City with my family. My father is a paediatrician and both he and my mother are missionaries. My older brother, Scotty, is following in their footsteps. They’ve been very busy, helping to set up medical facilities in underprivileged areas of the world. One of their favourite spots has been way up in Australia’s Northern Territory. Don’t ask me what it was like though, because I didn’t go with them.

We’ve never had a typical family unit because there has been a steady stream of foster kids through our home ever since I’ve been old enough to remember. That’s been interesting. Not always good, because some of those kids have been pretty rough and mean to me. There’s never been a dull moment.

Since leaving school, I’ve done a bit of retail and secretarial work, as well as house cleaning. Nothing as noteworthy as the rest of my family, though. My parents and older brother are all very high achievers.

Janet: You live in Australia, right? Could you introduce us to your part of the country? What do you love about it? Anything you’d rather change?

Imogen: Australia isn’t my native home. I’ve just returned recently, to touch base with the Dorazio family, who I knew when I was younger. They live in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia. It’s surely one of the world’s prettiest spots. Everybody should visit, if they possibly can. I find the climate pleasant, even in the winter, which the locals think is freezing cold. I can’t help laughing when they say that. If only they could experience a Northern Hemisphere winter.

There are all sorts of colourful birds and quaint wild animals here, such as koalas, kangaroos, bilbies and echidnas. You have to see them to believe them. There are clear, aquamarine skies, green trees all year round, vibrant, crystal-clear oceans – although I don’t like to think about the ocean. Especially after what happened during my last visit to Australia.

Janet: Sounds like there’s a painful story in that answer. I hope this visit goes better and you find a way to enjoy the ocean again. I’d love to visit Australia some day. If Paula gave you airline tickets anywhere in the world, where would you go? And why?

Imogen: I’d love to explore the rest of Australia, just to see the sights my parents and brother have seen. I’d go further north to see the deserts and tropics. And I’d explore each of the capital cities on the eastern coast. They only difference is, I would go for fun rather than to work. I feel a little guilty saying that. I was brought up to please and serve other people before thinking of myself. If my answer comes across as selfish or thoughtless, please forgive me.

Janet: It sounds like there’s been pain in your past, but you’re not going to let it define your future. Would you tell us about this chance you have to make a difference? And did it come to you, or did you have to pursue it?

Imogen: To be honest, I can’t help fearing I’m on a fool’s errand. My parents certainly think I am. Here’s the story. I thought I was going to die in hospital, but it turns out I had appendicitis. While I was in pain, I promised God that if only the agony would stop, I would return and try to make up to the Dorazio family for some things I did. Well, guess what? The pain stopped, so here I am.

The things I did were accidents, but the Dorazios suffered because of me, so I should try to make up for it. It seems the right thing to do. I’ve made my own opportunity. I bought the airline ticket and came to Australia, but now I’m feeling a bit deflated and very nervous.

Janet: It takes a lot of courage to do what you’re doing. Do you think this will work out? What – or who – might wreck it all?

Imogen: Well, I was really hoping Asher wouldn’t be around anymore. He’s the Dorazios’ youngest son. I heard he’d got a really good job. I was hoping he would have moved far away by now, because he’s the hardest one to face. No such luck, though. He’s still here, and he’s grown really good looking. I don’t know why I even mentioned that, because it has nothing to do with anything.

Well, perhaps it does. When we were little, he never used to be intimidating, but now he is. If he knew the extent of the damage I caused, I hate to think what he’d say and do. Let me put it this way. He’d have a right to be really angry with me.

Janet: And what happens if it all falls apart? If you can’t fix everything?

Imogen: I guess I’ll just have to fly back home to America with my tail between my legs. That is, if Asher leaves me standing, when he finds out what I’ve done. I know he has a temper.

Janet: Forgiveness sounds like it’s an important theme in your life right now, and maybe loyalty too. What do those words mean to you?

Imogen: The word ‘forgiveness’ actually makes me tear up a bit. It’s such a loaded word. I forgave somebody for something he did to me, but I don’t think I forgave him soon enough. If only I’d forgiven him on the spot, things might have been far different. I’d tell anybody to be quick to forgive. Having said that though, I can’t imagine Asher, or any of the others, being willing to forgive me, if they learn the full story. I wouldn’t expect them to. Perhaps it’s because I’ve let so much time lapse before deciding to do something, even though there’s not much I can do. If anybody could talk them into forgiving me, I’d be extremely grateful (and very surprised too).

As for loyalty, I guess Asher would be the one to ask about that. I don’t know what he’d tell you, though. He probably thinks that his big act of loyalty created a huge mess. I can’t talk to him about it, though, because then he’d find out the full story about me. It’s all so mixed up.

Janet: And what would you say to people keeping family secrets?

Imogen: I’d be the first to say that being open and honest is the best way to behave. It’s easier to treat an open wound than one which has been covered up and left to fester. As it is, I have to creep around the Dorazio family, keeping my mouth shut, because I’m just not sure what each individual knows about the whole mess.

Now I’m beginning to wonder whether I’ve said too much in this interview. I’d better keep quiet. I don’t want to hurt anybody by dredging it all up.

Janet: Is faith a part of your life?

Imogen: I really want it to be. I mean, I guess it is. I was brought up in a strong Christian household. My parents did their best to help us become fine, godly children. It’s just that it seems to have ‘taken’ for my brother, Scotty, while I’m not so sure about me.

I’m trying to be faithful, but I don’t really know what God’s leading looks like. I believe I’m keeping a promise to Him by coming here to Australia, but I wish there was some way I could know for sure that it’s not just my imagination.

Janet: Maybe you’ll find confirmation as you spend time with the Dorazios. When you were growing up, your parents probably told you the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan. The priests had to go and stand in the raging river before God stopped the water. It sounds to me like you’re standing in some pretty tumultuous waters right now, and I think God will honour that step of faith. Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

Imogen: I’m clinging to Jeremiah 29:11, ‘I know the plans I have for you, to give you a future and a hope.’ I just wish I knew for certain whether coming back here might be part of His plan, and not just my own.

Janet: We all struggle with that one at times. What’s your favourite season? What’s that like in Australia?

Imogen: Summer has always been my favourite season, because it reminds me of long holidays, swimming and soaking up the sun. Here in Australia, it tends to get incredibly hot. Their heatwaves make the mercury soar for weeks. It’s a clear heat which blasts down on you, if you don’t wear a hat.

Janet: What do you like to do to recharge?

Imogen: I like to relax with engrossing books, or take long walks. I also appreciate good talks with friends, although with the people around here, I’m not sure what I ought to say.

Janet: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Imogen: I’m really beginning to think it must be coming back here thinking I can make amends for what happened. It was a reckless decision without any forethought. But here I am, so I have to make the best of it.

Janet: I hope everything works out for you, Imogen. Thanks for visiting us today. 

===

Imogen’s Chance released April 1, 2014 from Even Before Publishing and is available worldwide through the Amazon online network in print and ebook formats.

Imogen's Chance, by Paula VinceShe has given herself a chance to fix her personal history. But will old mistakes bring up new emotions?

Imogen Browne longs to make up for past mistakes before she can move on. She quietly resolves to help the Dorazio family, whose lives she accidentally upset. Her biggest challenge is Asher, the one person who may never forgive her. And he is facing a crisis of his own. Imogen must tread very carefully, as trying to fix things may well make them shatter.

A sensitive story about misplaced loyalty, celebrating life and falling in love. Can family secrets concealed with the best intentions bear the light of day?

Come back on Monday to read my review of Imogen’s Chance.

Review: The Devil Walks in Mattingly, by Billy Coffey

The Devil Walks in Mattingly, by Billy CoffeyThe Devil Walks in Mattingly, by Billy Coffey (Thomas Nelson, 2014)

Jake and his wife, Kate, live under long-held regrets centering around one of their high school classmates, Phillip. Phillip’s death 20 years ago was ruled a suicide, but Jake and Kate each believe they killed him.

Jake is sheriff of the small mountain town of Mattingly, VA. He took the job because he’s desperate for peace, not because he’s strong like his father was. When violence rocks his town, Jake is out of his depth.

Characters like Jake and Kate feel real yet a touch distant, as if we’re peering into another world. Others like the hermit Taylor, are even more distant yet eerily believable. This separation may be due in part to the multiple points of view (each one expertly rendered) and to the switch from third person to first for Jake’s viewpoint. It’s probably a good thing, too, because it lets us read without being overwhelmed by the characters’ pain.

Billy Coffey’s writing impressed me from the start. The novel has a haunting, lyrical feel, and I understand why one reviewer called the author a minstrel. This is not my type of story, but I found much to appreciate in its pages. It’s deeper, introspective, literary. A slow read, not a race.

The title says “horror” to me, but the devil in question is the sins of the townsfolk. It’s eerie and supernatural, but definitely not the “screamfest” type of horror.

The Devil Walks in Mattingly digs into those regrets we all hold, big or small, and reminds us that although we can never undo the past or earn a pardon, there is forgiveness and grace if we’ll stop holding onto the past.

Favourite lines:

Jake: “I came into this world pure and unblemished, but I will leave it bearing all of my scars. My comfort rests in a grace that will mold those scars into the jewels of my crown.” p. 3

Narrator: “Few people knew of Charlie Givens. Those who did agreed that not only was he born to trouble, but the sole purpose of his head was to keep rain out of his neck.” p. 26

Jake: “It’s our desire to be left alone that causes evil to flourish in this world.” p. 187

Jake: “None of us can write a new beginning to our story. All we can do is start a new end.” p. 328

You can learn about Billy Coffey and his writing on his website, and if you sign up for his newsletter you’ll receive the opening chapters of The Devil Walks in Mattingly for free. You can read a shorter sample on the publisher’s website. The Devil Walks in Mattingly takes place four years before one of Mr. Coffey’s previous novels, When Mockingbirds Sing.

[A review copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.]

Come Clean. Quick.

When you are guilty, immediately confess the sin that you’ve committed.
Leviticus 5:5, MSG*

We’re human. For all the good things that means, it also means we’re not perfect. Despite our best intentions, sometimes we mess up. We don’t live up to the righteous living God intends for us.

The early chapters of Leviticus are all about sacrifices to atone for the people’s sin, and God spends a lot of time—and detail—explaining to the people what not to do. Some of it should be pretty obvious, but there you have it.

What interests me about chapters 4 and 5 is that they deal with what happens when someone unintentionally sins. They’ve done something wrong with no malice aforethought.

We do that too. And sometimes we do the premeditated wrongs.

In either case, the remedy is clear: immediately confess it to God. He knows anyway. It’s already put a rift between us. If it’s an ongoing situation, ask for His wisdom in how to get back on target. And remember that He’s faithful to His promises. He will forgive us, clean us up, and restore us.

Immediately. Things won’t get better—won’t go away—if we stall. We’ll just make ourselves increasingly miserable as we widen the gulf between our spirits and the God who wants to hold us close.

God who saves us, Your forgiveness and grace are more than we can comprehend, and they’re beyond our capacity to earn. Thank You for extending mercy again and again. Please grow us to maturity in our faith, into righteousness and holiness, so we can please You. Please forgive us when we fail, and help us cry out to You quickly for restoration.

I love this confession song from Todd Agnew, how it reminds us that despite it all, God loves us: “The One You Want.”

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson