CAFE: A gathering place. A place of refreshment.

Thirsty for the latest releases in Christian fiction? Ready for a peek into the world of publishing and writing conferences? Hungry for spiritual and real-life nourishment? Pull up a seat; you're in the right place, and I'm so glad you've stopped by.

Monday, November 30, 2009

SAINT'S ROOST by Terry Burns on CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Saint's Roost
Sundowners (September 20, 2009)
Terry Burns


Terry has over 30 books in print, including work in a dozen short story collections and four non-fiction books plus numerous articles and short stories.

His last book Beyond the Smoke is a 2009 winner of the Will Rogers Medallion for best youth fiction and a nominee for the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. He has a three book Mysterious Ways series out from David C Cook, and Trails of the Dime Novel from Echelon Press.

A graduate of West Texas State he did post graduate work at Southern Methodist University. Terry plans to continue writing inspirational fiction as well as working as an agent for Hartline Literary Agency. Terry is a native Texan Living in Amarillo, Texas with his lovely wife Saundra.


Terry Burns has written a novel rich in Texan drawl and old western authenticity.

Saint’s Roost opens with a determined couple leaving a wagon train to set off on their own, only to be set upon by savages. Patrick, an eager evangelizing preacher, steps out to share the Good Book with the savages and meets an untimely demise, leaving his wife, Janie, alone on a trail to nowhere with no one to help her survive.

She makes her way across the frontier determined to follow her husband’s calling, but she doesn’t know where to begin, or even how to take care of herself. When her travels bring her into the lives of two cowhands, an ex-prostitute, a young boy and his drunken grandfather, and towns filled with cowboys waiting to be saved, she discovers there’s more than one way to spread God’s word.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Saint's Roost, go HERE

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Well, it’s inevitable. Thanksgiving’s over, and chances are, you may still have leftover turkey lurking in the fridge, daring you to come up with something more creative than a slice of turkey and Swiss on rye. If so, here’s a dish to change things up, and one of the nice things about it is that you can make this dish and freeze it for later.

A little secret? I put two cups of leftover turkey in the freezer in a zip-lock back on Thanksgiving Day so that one of these cold, rainy evenings, all I have to do is throw a few things together for this creamy, comforting dish. Add a salad, some Tuscan bread from the grocer, and you’re all set.

Turkey Spaghetti

2 cups cooked turkey (leftovers work great)

6 oz. package thin spaghetti, cooked to al dente

½ onion, chopped

½ green bell pepper, chopped (can use red bell pepper if you like for added color)

1 can cream of mushroom soup

½ soup can milk

2 cups shredded cheese (I like the mixed variety best)

½ tsp. black pepper

½ tsp. oregano

½ tsp. basil

Sauté onion and bell pepper in one teaspoon butter. Meanwhile, combine soup, milk, and shredded cheese. Add onion, pepper, turkey and spices. Pour into a 9 x 13 inch dish which has been sprayed with Pam. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

This is a nice variation on spaghetti, and you won’t feel like you’re eating leftovers. May you be blessed with all good things as we enter this season of celebration. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite treats for the holidays over the next few weeks. Hope you’ll join me.

In the meantime, do you have any quick stand-by dishes you make to stretch your holiday hours?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fiction Marketing Seminar in Dallas

Me? Marketing? It's not an endeavor that I thought would be critical in my writing career, let alone my life. Apparently it is. And I think it’s something I’m going to love once I get the hang of it. I took a step of faith this past weekend and went to The Master Seminars first fiction marketing workshop taught by Chip MacGregor and Jim Rubart. They not only have expertise in both publishing and marketing, but are really nice and easy to relate to as well.

Our group for the two-day seminar

All six of us who attended write vastly different things, but I’m glad to say I’ve made new friends who were fun to brainstorm with and discuss my favorite topic – writing. We also got to know each other during free time and at meals.

Without going into a lot of detail, here are some of the highlights.
  • Basic marketing concepts – Know yourself and your target market. Be unique. Be first with the great idea. Be intentional.
  • Know your strengths and the roadblocks that hinder you. Build a marketing plan around your strengths and execute it.
  • Listening to other novelists talk about their work was really beneficial in seeing how personality and message depends on the individual and must be an integral part of a marketing plan that works.
  • The last day of the seminar, we each formulated a specific market plan for our books. We did this in a group with Chip and Jim giving their thoughts and helping us think through the ideas. Some were revolutionary. Some were daunting. But all were specific for each of us.
Other subjects were covered as well – branding, writing great copy (websites/blogs), and working with publishers and publicists. I’d rather leave the nuts and bolts to the experts. Both Chip MacGregor and Jim Rubart share their wisdom about publishing and marketing around the web. Chip’s blog is straightforward with emphasis on current trends in publishing. Jim is currently doing a three-part marketing series on agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog. And you can learn more about The Master Seminars here.

Jim Rubart, Tiffany Colter (seminar coordinator and the one who took good care of all of us), and Chip MacGregor

Stay tuned. I’ll be sharing some of the exciting things I’ve planned for the launch of Chasing Lilacs. I also invite you to take a look at some of the editorial reviews recently posted on Amazon.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


You either love cranberries or you don't. Today's special, though, is not the gelatinous burgundy stuff you get from a can (although I personally like it, too). Matter of fact, people who don't even think they like cranberries love this family favorite. And with Thanksgiving just around the corner, it's time to pull out those "must have" recipes for the holidays.

Special bonus: Cranberries are all the rage nowadays for their antioxidant properties, so even though it's got a bit of sugar, you can take a second helping knowing it's good for you.


1 bag fresh cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 apple, cored and diced
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Large carton Cool Whip (not the giant sized one, though)

Chop cranberries in a blender or food processor. Add sugar and allow to sit four hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Add apple, pecans, miniature marshmallows, and Cool Whip and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate until time to serve.

This doubles as a dessert, so if you want something sweet, but not as heavy as Aunt Maude's chocolate bottom pecan pie, this is perfect.

For our family, it's not Thanksgiving without cranberries. How about you? Any dishes that you simply must have every year?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

WHAT THE BAYOU SAW by Patti Lacy up on CFBA Along with Review and Giveaway

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
What The Bayou Saw
Kregel Publications (March 24, 2009)
Patti Lacy

Though Patti's only been writing since 2005, she thinks her latest profession of capturing stories on paper (or computer files) will stick awhile.

The Still, Small Voice encouraged Patti to write after a brave Irish friend shared memories of betrayal and her decision to forgive. In 2008, An Irishwoman’s Tale was published by Kregel Publications. Patti’s second novel, What the Bayou Saw, draws on the memories of two young girls who refused to let segregation, a chain link fence, and a brutal rape come between them.

The secrets women keep and why they keep them continue to enliven Patti's gray matter. A third book, My Name is Sheba, has been completed. Patti's WIP, Recapturing Lily, documents a tug-of-war between a Harvard-educated doctor and an American pastor and his wife for a precious child and explores adoption issues, China's "One Child" policy, and both Christian and secular views of sacrifice.

Patti also facilitates writing seminars in schools, libraries, and at conferences and has been called to present her testimony, "All the Broken Pieces," at women's retreats. She also leads a Beth Moore Bible study at her beloved Grace Church.

Patti and her husband Alan, an Illinois State faculty member, live in Normal with their handsome son Thomas, who attends Heartland Community College. On sunny evenings, you can catch the three strolling the streets of Normal with their dog Laura, whom they've dubbed a "Worchestershire Terrier" for her "little dab of this breed, a little dab of that breed.


Segregation and a chain link fence separated twelve-year-old Sally Flowers from her best friend, Ella Ward. Yet a brutal assault bound them together. Forever. Thirty-eight years later, Sally, a middle-aged Midwestern instructor, dredges up childhood secrets long buried beneath the waters of a Louisiana bayou in order to help her student, who has also been raped. Fragments of spirituals, gospel songs, and images of a Katrina-ravaged New Orleans are woven into the story.

The past can't stay buried forever. Rising author Patti Lacy's second novel exposes the life of Sally, set amid the shadows of prejudice in Louisiana.

Since leaving her home in the South, Sally Stevens has held the secrets of her past at bay, smothering them in a sunny disposition and sugar-coated lies. No one, not even her husband, has heard the truth about her childhood.

But when one of her students is violently raped, Sally's memories quickly bubble to the surface unbidden, like a dead body in a bayou. As Sally's story comes to light, the lies she's told begin to catch up with her. And as her web of deceit unravels, she resolves to face the truth at last, whatever the consequences.

If you would like to read the first chapter of What The Bayou Saw, go HERE

Watch the Book Trailer:

MY REVIEW: Patti Lacy writes with abandon—exuberant prose with a magnetism aimed straight at the reader. Her second novel is another compelling, page-turning read that recalls a tumultuous past, this time for Sally Stevens, a college professor. When one of her students, a gifted African-American girl, is brutally beaten, old memories that Sally has kept hidden for thirty years are stirred. As the layers are peeled back, Sally discovers not only the misdeeds of others, but also a blackness in her own soul that stemmed from an incident with her childhood friend, Ella.

Deeply honest, the prose sometimes stings with gritty reality about the prejudices of the South—from the swamps of Sally’s childhood to Katrina-ravaged New Orleans. Ultimately, it’s a story of faith, the sometimes twisty road to forgiveness, and God’s grace. The cost is great, but it is the sacrifice Sally must make if she is to preserve her marriage and her own integrity. I think you’ll be delighted with the detours in the scenery, as Sally and Ella wrap themselves around your heart.

Patti Lacy is a gifted storyteller, with a knack for drawing rich settings that linger long after the last page.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment with your contact info to be entered in the giveaway for What the Bayou Saw. Deadline: Monday, November 23 (noonish).

Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher to me for promotional purposes and to write an honest review. Your chances of winning are dependent on the number of entries. US residents only.

Monday, November 16, 2009

"My First Sale" Article

A lot of people have asked me about my writing journey. Here you can read it all in the current issue of the ACFW Afictionado Ezine. Tiffany Amber Stockton did the interview and made me sound way more together than I am. ACFW is a wonderful organization where almost 2000 members learn together, cheer each other on, and promote one another. I'm truly blessed to be a part.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Something Worth Noting

A couple of brief things:

Thanks for all the comments on the Coffee Cup Bible Study series! I forgot to mention that Cheryl Barker's name was drawn last Friday. Her name has been sent to the tour coordinator, and she will be eligible for the grand prize tote bag with all the yummy books and coffee. Congratulations!


Yesterday I mentioned Susan Meissner's book, White Picket Fences. Lucky you! You could win a copy over at Romance Your Spouse. The contest ends this Friday, and there are no comments yet so you have a great chance of winning this incredible book. Go. Now.

Back to your normal day.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Don't Fence Me In

Okay. What did you first think when you read the title of this post? Roy Rogers? If that was a yes, you’re absolutely correct! Roy sang this song while Trigger danced in the 1944 movie, Hollywood Canteen. Many other singers also recorded it over the years – Gene Autry, Kate Smith, Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters (together), Ella Fitzgerald, and Harry Connick, Jr. (more recently). Did you know it’s a Cole Porter song adapted from a poem by Robert Fletcher? Me neither. But by now, I know the words are rolling around in your head, so if it’s driving you nuts, you can click over here to watch the clip.

And the purpose of this post is not to send you into some time warp. It’s the word fence I want to talk about. Some words just trigger (sorry . . . couldn’t resist with the dancing horse still in my head) immediate reactions. I don’t necessarily think of “fence” being a powerful word . . . at least I didn’t until a couple of weeks ago. I received two books in the mail on the same day: White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner and The Fence My Father Built by Linda S. Clare.

Distinct, but totally different images came to mind before I even had time to study the covers and wonder what stories might be inside. White Picket Fences, of course brought the image of a comfortable cottage with Cape Cod curtains at the window. I could see in my mind’s eye a cheerful yellow kitchen and people who laughed and lived satisfying lives. Perhaps even perfect lives. That’s exactly what the title and cover were meant to convey, but with this being a novel, I knew much more lurked beneath the surface. Wow. Did it ever. Lovely writing from one of my favorite authors.

The Fence My Father Built brought images of another sort – heritage, a solid foundation, perhaps a bit of mystery as to why this particular fence had significance. Again, an idea that hooked me and kept me turning the pages. It was indeed about heritage – Native American roots – but also one filled with action, regret over never knowing the father who built the fence, and ultimately about guarding the things we hold sacred.

Both of these books are terrific reads and well worth your time. The publishers did a fantastic job of conveying the hearts of the stories through the cover art and just the right titles. Well done.

So, books aside, and songs that are skipping through your head, what other thoughts does the word “fence” conjure up? And how might it be used in a story? A “fence” of course can take on a criminal element with regard to stolen property and the middleman. Sports-minded? How about the Green Monster – the enormous 37-foot, 2-inch wall fence at Fenway Park? To make a ball sail over it is a moment of victory, of personal accomplishment. Rivaling paramours “fence” in duels to win the love of a fair maiden. Stockades and razor wire fences are meant to contain people. Barbed wire fences keep cattle in and gated community fences keep people out.

And what about a chat over the backyard fence? Do people do that anymore? When our twins were babies, I’d sometimes hand one over the fence to our neighbor on the south and the other one over to the north-side neighbor so I could have thirty minutes to read a book to my toddler. Those were the days.

Are you convinced yet that fence is a strong, evocative word? I’m sure you can come up with even more creative examples, and may even have a few power words of your own you’d like to share. Just don’t straddle the fence about joining the conversation.

And don’t forget to check out these two new books. You’ll be glad you did!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


My mother-in-law was one of the best cooks I've ever known when it came to wholesome, country cooking. We teased her about being the "Cream of the Crop" for her many wins at the county fair and her lavish spreads, even for everyday meals. Rarely did we sit down to a meal at her house and find less that six or seven dishes on the table. Boy, was Max in for a jolt when he married me! His mom has slowed down (she's 89, for goodness sake . . . she deserves it), and many of her recipes that I now make have become dog-eared from much use. Smothered Chops is one of her specialties and probably should be renamed - Grandma's Smothered Chops.

It's a crock pot recipe - one of my favorite ways to steer clear of the kitchen as much as possible. Very simple. Mouthwatering. Hearty. Can't go wrong with this one!


6 - 8 boneless pork chops
3 cans cream of mushroom soup (or one family-sized can)
Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. canola or olive oil

Heat oil in skillet and brown chops thoroughly on both sides, but chops don't have to be cooked through. Place on plate with paper towels to remove excess oil; then layer mushroom soup and chops in crock pot. Pepper freely. Cook all day on Low or 4 to 5 hours on High. Serve over prepared rice. (I like the old-fashioned kind, but Minute Rice will do.)

Add a vegetable and/or a salad and you have a complete meal with all the food groups. I'll never be a cook in the same league as my mother-in-law, but I am glad I have her recipes and that her son likes my cooking almost as much as hers.

Q of the day: Do you eat meals around the table, hanging over the kitchen counter, in your car, in the den in front of the TV or . . . . . . ? What kinds of conversation do you have during meals? Inquiring minds want to know.

Friday, November 6, 2009

CHASING LILACS Available for Pre-Order on Amazon

Have I mentioned lately how much I've enjoyed the publishing process? Each phase has been like the movie Fifty First Dates - a brand new world at every turn. Most recently, I've been writing discussion questions for the Reader's Guide which will be in the back of the book and providing my publisher with a list of "dream" endorsers. One of the things that has surprised me the most is how far ahead of the publication date everything has to be done. It's now about seven months until Chasing Lilacs will be in stores, but . . . please indulge me here . . . The book is already available for pre-order on Amazon!

Here's the editorial description:

It is the summer of 1958, and life in the small Texas community of Graham Camp should be simple and carefree. But not for twelve-year-old Sammie Tucker. Sammie has plenty of questions about her mother's "nerve" problems. About shock treatments. About whether her mother loves her.

When her mother commits suicide and a not-so-favorite aunt arrives, Sammie has to choose who to trust with her deepest fears: Her best friend who has an opinion about everything, the mysterious kid from California whose own troubles plague him, or her round-faced neighbor with gentle advice and strong shoulders to cry on. Then there's the elderly widower who seems nice but has his own dark past.

Trusting is one thing, but accepting the truth may be the hardest thing Sammie has ever done.

Up until now, everything has been done undercover, so to speak, between my agent, editor, art department, and marketing experts at FaithWords. Launching my book into the world is exciting, to be sure, but also a bit like taking my clothes off in the fountain of the city square (gasp!). No longer flying under the radar, I'm throwing myself at the mercy of readers, critics, and reviewers. So, here's to a safe landing for my debut book. And if you're so inclined, you might click over to Amazon and take a peek.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

CFBA presents Mary DeMuth's A SLOW BURN

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Slow Burn
Zondervan (October 1, 2009)
Mary DeMuth

Mary E. DeMuth is an expert in Pioneer Parenting. She enables Christian parents to navigate our changing culture when their families left no good faith examples to follow.

Her parenting books include Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House, 2007), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005).

Mary also inspires people to face their trials through her real-to-life novels, Watching The Tree Limbs
(nominated for a Christy Award) and Wishing On Dandelions (NavPress, 2006).

Mary has spoken at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, the ACFW Conference, the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, and at various churches and church planting ministries. She's also taught in Germany, Austria, Monaco, Italy, France, and the United States. Mary and her husband, Patrick, reside in Texas with their three children. They recently returned from breaking new spiritual ground in Southern France, and planting a church.


She touched Daisy’s shoulder. So cold. So hard. So unlike Daisy.

Yet so much like herself it made Emory shudder.

Burying her grief, Emory Chance is determined to find her daughter Daisy’s murderer—a man she saw in a flicker of a vision. But when the investigation hits every dead end, her despair escalates. As questions surrounding Daisy’s death continue to mount, Emory’s safety is shattered by the pursuit of a stranger, and she can’t shake the sickening fear that her own choices contributed to Daisy’s disappearance. Will she ever experience the peace her heart longs for?

The second book in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy, this suspenseful novel is about courageous love, the burden of regret, and bonds that never break. It is about the beauty and the pain of telling the truth. Most of all, it is about the power of forgiveness and what remains when shame no longer holds us captive.

Watch the video:

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Slow Burn, go HERE

You may read Carla's Review of A Slow Burn here.

Girlfriend Bible Studies - Fun Ways to Study the Scripture with your friends

Creative Ways to Have Girlfriend Bible Studies -
from Sandra Glahn, author of the Coffee Cup Bible Study Series 

· Get ripped with Ruth. Meet at the health club and walk side-by-side on the treadmill with your BFF. The study’s spiral binding and modest size lends itself to being stashed in a gym bag. You won’t even have to pack your Bible. The text is included.

· Inhale the aroma of java as you enter your favorite coffee shop. Order yourself a cappuccino, and then hang out around the table with friends discussing Colossians. 

· For your friend’s birthday, give her chocolate-covered coffee beans and a Coffee Cup Bible study. Promise her an hour every week of your time for building your friendship on what lasts.

· Invite the person who does your nails to consider the words of Jesus. Provide a copy of Mocha on the Mount, and every time you’re together discuss what you’re both learning as you go through it. Schedule an extended “Spiritual Spa Day” together by watching and discussing a movie about Esther as you kick off bi-weekly meetings around your kitchen table. Contemplate what the Hadassah spa—Esther’s year of beauty treatments—must have been like. Then consider the part of her beauty that was deeper than skin.

· You don’t have to sip your cuppa joe in a shop that starts with an “S.” Grab some colleagues and organize a small group study. You can nurse your favorite beverage in the company cafeteria, the hospital coffee shop—even your local McDonald’s. 

· Brew a pot of coffee in your church kitchen and meet one evening per week with members of your congregation. Engage in a lively discussion about Deborah, Jael, and Samson’s mother as you go through Java with the Judges.

One fortune blogger from each participating blog will be entered into a grand prize drawing for a coffee themed tote bag, twelve oz of Starbucks Sumatra and signed copies for Kona with Jonah and Frappe' with Philippians. Leave a comment here or in the previous post. I'll draw a name on Friday (Nov 6). Here's a picture of what you might win!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

COFFEE CUP BIBLE SERIES - Enter for a Giveaway

(Dallas Texas) - The coffee industry is one of the leading industries in America. Specialty coffee houses provide cozy intimate spaces to read, study and visit. That's exactly what Sandra Glahn had in mind when she wrote her Coffee Cup Series Bible studies. Recently added to her already existing studies are Kona with Jonah and Frappe' with Philippians.

These Bible studies are designed for casual gatherings and coffee shop discussions.
Kona with Jonah begins with a brief history of Jonah and Ninevah. Merging historical event with current modern day practicality, Glahn invites readers to take a walk in Jonah's sandals. Coffee sippers will find it hard to escape the similarities as these two worlds collide. Prayer, mercy, city revival and other strong themes will perk the interest and heart of diligent students.

Frappé with Philippians brews for five weeks of strong, powerful conversation about Paul and the heroes of the Philippian church. With detailed study time spent examining the letters of Paul to the Church, readers will come away feeling like they have met with the man himself. With sections entitled "That God Will Get me Out of Here, and Other Prayer Requests Paul Doesn't Make," Glahn keeps the tone of the study light, without disrespecting the seriousness of the study of God's Word.

A Chat Over Coffee w/ Sandra

Women who typically feel they don't have the time to do
Bible Study find your studies relevant and easy to use. What's the secret to making the study inviting?

I don't know if there's one secret. Different things appeal to different people. But I do know that with my own personal Bible study time, I've been able to stay fairly consistent Monday through Friday when my daughter is at school. But on the weekends everything changes in our household. Sometimes we travel. Or we sleep later on Saturday. And we rise and go to church on Sunday. Result: my routine gets disrupted. For this reason I often have a more difficult time doing Bible study on the weekends. So I designed the series for Monday-through-Friday study with only short devotional readings on the weekends. The weekday time can require twenty minutes or more; the weekend readings take less than five minutes.
I think the studies also appeal to the right-brained person. As an artsy type, I sometimes engage more with the Bible if I can write out a prayer, draw, view a related video, compose a story, sing a song...

And I wrote this series with that person in mind. The devotionals are also full of stories, which most of us love to hear.
In addition (and this is probably the main reason), when I was working full-time, I wanted a study I could stash in my purse without having to lug a Bible and a commentary. I wanted to use my lunch break for a quiet time without parading my resources in front of people. And I think it helps that the Coffee Cup series books don't look like typical Bible studies; they're all-inclusive (text, commentary, questions included); they're small enough to throw in a briefcase or diaper bag; and they're both spiral and bound--making it easier to use on a treadmill or fold in the lap and write on while sitting. In short they're designed for the multi-tasker. I heard from an ob-gyn who uses them as she's sitting in the doctors' lounge waiting for babies to arrive.
And one more thing--I also include a prayer at the end. I heard from an eighty-something man who told me how much those prayers meant. All his life he had struggled with prayer, and that guidance helped him respond to God. I'm glad that a series directed to women didn't scare him off!

Jonah with Kona, what do you hope participants will take away and apply to their own lives?

We tend to like our own causes best; we like our own country best; we like our denomination best; we like our own families best; we prefer the schools we attended, the neighborhoods where we grew up, our own political party or cause, our gender--even our brand of peanut butter. And somewhere along the way we cross the line from preference to prejudice. We pray for our loved ones but rarely, if ever, our enemies. Mention atheists, opposing politicians, humanists, materialists, homosexuals, and radical feminists in most churches today, and the response you'll evoke will sound nothing like, "Let's pray right now for God to pour out his love." 
Genesis tells us that humans are fellow creations of one maker. The qualities of God that so angered Jonah are the very qualities we most need: grace, compassion, patience, mercy, abundant love, and truth. And not just for those we love--but for those we hate. For those who have wronged us. For those who want us dead. For those with whom we strongly disagree. The only possible way we can demonstrate such remarkable goodness is through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The focus of Frappé with Philippians is the life of Paul and the early church. What kind of historical research did you do and did you learn any surprising facts as you compiled your information?

I think it's enormously important to understand the world in which Paul was writing. Let's take the view of women, for example. The Jews were the most conservative. The Greeks were better, though greatly influenced by Aristotle's low view of women. And the Roman women had the most freedom--even owning property and supervising gymnasiums. Knowing a city's predominant citizenship helps us understand Paul's letters on such issues. 
 My PhD work relates a lot to the Greek pantheon and Greek and Roman history. The historical backgrounds for the Bible books are essential, and fortunately they interest me. 
I also love getting a sense of the geography, if I can. I had the advantage this summer of taking a clipper to follow the journeys of Paul. Some of our stops included Corinth, Troas, Neapolis, Philippi, and Athens. 

One sentence out of the mouth of a guide in Corinth really stuck with me, as she provided a key to understanding the cities we visited. She mentioned that while American visitors seem generally uninterested in talk of gods and goddesses, knowing which member of the Greek pantheon a city worshiped is essential to understanding that city's mentality. The more I thought about this, the more sense it made: 

ATHENS. Athena was the goddess of wisdom, so citizens of Athens wanted their city to reflect culture, religion, and philosophy. And sure enough, in Acts 17 we find Stoic and Epicurean philosophers hanging out at the Areopagus (Mars Hill). Paul affirms them for being religious, and rather than dissing their many false gods, he zeroes in on their altar to the unknown God and tells them about this Almighty one who was not made with hands--One who is never far from any of us.

CORINTH. Corinth was the home of Aphrodite, goddess of love (and not the agape version). Behind the city ruins stands a towering hill at the top of which sat Aphrodite's temple. One could not walk down the street without being conscious of its prominence. Might that explain why the Corinthians had so many issues with sexual immorality, and why Paul tells them that it's good for a man not to touch a woman (1 Cor. 7:1)? For the sake of the kingdom, he encourages them to consider embracing sexual abstinence rather than marrying. How fitting that in a city that prides itself on being a center of love, Paul pens the beautiful definition of true love--known to us as the love chapter (1 Cor. 13). 

EPHESUS. Ephesus was home to the virgin Artemis who loved her virgin status and was immune to Aphrodite's love arrows. Among other things, Artemis was the goddess of the hunt. If you take a close look at the Artemis statues from the first and second centuries, you find her legs covered with numerous animals and flanked by a couple of deer. Now, usually we think of women as gatherers and men as hunters. And the fact that Artemis was a hunter suggests she had a less-than-feminine persona. In Ephesus we find stone work with the Amazon story (these women were way independent!), and guides tell visitors that the city was founded by an Amazon queen. The Book of Ephesians was probably intended for more than one city (like Laodicea), so we don't find much that points to a specific city's mentality in that book. But we do find 1 Timothy directed to Paul's protégé in Ephesus, and in it we find an emphasis on widows, women teaching false doctrines, and the need to marry and have children.

When reading the New Testament, I think it's important to find out something of its geography and certainly what member of the Greek pantheon each book's readers were up against. How its authors approached the cities' demons can provide insight for us into engaging a culture that's in love with worldly wisdom, immorality, and a low view of family.

Sandra Glahn, Th.M., is adjunct professor, Christian Education and Pastoral Ministries, at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), her alma mater. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Aesthetic Studies (Arts and Humanities) at the University of Texas at Dallas. In addition she serves on the board of the Evangelical Press Association, the advisory board of Hannah's Prayer, and the women's executive committee for Sandra is editor in chief of Dallas Seminary's award-winning quarterly magazine, Kindred Spirit.

Her books include The Coffee Cup Bible Study series and the medical suspense thriller, Informed Consent (Cook). Ms. Glahn has also coauthored seven books and she has contributed to several additional works, including Genetic Engineering: A Christian Response (Kregel); and The Making of a Mentor (Authentic). Sandra has appeared on the 700 Club, Ivanhoe Productions' "Smart Woman" television broadcasts, Family Life Today, At Home Live television, Janet Parshall's America, and in other national media. She and her husband, Gary, have been married twenty-nine years and have a daughter who joined their family through adoption.


1. Leave a comment here by Friday, Nov. 6. I will draw a name to be entered in the grand prize drawing. Leave contact information so that if you are the winner, I can let you know.

2. One fortune blogger from each participating blog will be entered into a grand prize drawing for a coffee themed tote bag, twelve oz of Starbucks Sumatra and signed copies for Kona with Jonah and Frappe' with Philippians.

3. You may order these and other Coffee Cup Bible Study books here, here, and here.

Carla here: Tuesday, I'll be sharing some of Sandra's thoughts on creative ways to have girlfriend Bible studies. There's something for everyone on her list, so I hope you'll stop by. This week we'll be featuring Kona at the Cafe, so sit back and enjoy!