Story Review: Change of Command by Thomas A. Mays, From For a Few Credits More Anthology

Story Review: Change of Command by Thomas A. Mays, From For a Few Credits More Anthology

510QAdWwRNLHello everyone! As promised, we’re back to the anthology reviews. Thank you for being patient!

Spoiler Free Summary: Change of Command by Thomas A. Mays is the ninth story in the Four Horsemen anthology, For a Few Credits More.  Sheila’s company commanders have a terrible habit of dying on her. Zuul keep killing them, and they keep putting themselves in perfect position to be killed.  Sheila is just trying to keep her unit alive. How many COs will it take before they find a way to survive?

 

Character:  Shelia is a perfect character for a story like this. She had layers of conflict that made her compelling. She may have resonated with me a bit more than some. Rather, she might resonate with any enlisted person who’s been a bit peeved at an overzealous or undertrained officer.

Mays
Image of Mays taken from his Amazon Author page for review purposes under fair use doctrine.

Description: Mays has a lot of action. I have to admit, his opening line was one of the best in the anthology, if not the best! He’s at his best in action sequences, but I was pretty happy with the visual cues in this story.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

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Sonnets for my Savior 7

The New Commandment

The Son tells us to love one another

as He has loved us.

It is not enough to simply love your brother;

we should love all because God’s rain falls on the just and the unjust.

Our love should show itself in action,

Just as Jesus showed his love with his death.

We should not resort to revenge for satisfaction,

but pay evil back with a blessing in each breath.

We show this by being humble, gentle and patient;

we show this through our tolerance.

Those who love will show themselves obedient

to the God who loves us with abundance.

To love is our only obligation,

so let us love in every situation.


 

The Greatest Way to Be Called

Look at those who were called by the Lord;

they were, each one, ordinary.

They were not famous with acclaim or any award;

They never did anything remarkable or legendary.

They were fishers and tax collectors;

indeed, many of their occupations are unknown.

They weren’t decedents of famous ancestors

or rulers chosen for the greatness of a throne.

Money is lost, and titles fade;

beauty ages, and fame is fleeting.

How much better it is to trade

the things of this world for a life more completing?

Mortals my wish to be called great,

but those called by Him have a much more glorious fate.


 

One

Male and female He made them;

It was not good for the man to be alone.

So He made a partner to work with man in tandem,

equal under God, the flesh of his flesh and of the same bone.

When he finds her, he shall leave his parents and hold fast to his wife,

and they shall become one flesh.

Together, they shall live one life,

and when they come together, they shall not part until death.

Let husbands love their wives,

and let wives respect their husbands.

Blessed is the couple who strives,

to do as God commands.

Praise be to the God who created the two,

please bless those who are married, and let their love remain ever true.


 

As He Forgave

We owe Him our lives plus ten 10,000 talents,

but He forgave us our debts.

Behold the mercy the master has for His servants.

Let us be like him and give him no reason for regrets.

What is our due in comparison to what we owe?

Who has wronged us more than we have wronged God?

The depths of our hearts he will always know.

We can’t praise Him for his mercy and then offer our brother the rod.

Follow His example, and forgive those who’ve done you wrong,

for He could have demanded we pay our price.

Instead he passed over those who to Him belong

through the blessing of His son’s sacrifice.

So let your heart be full of forgiveness

just as God has accepted us despite our own weakness.


 

A Happy Servant

Let me be busy;

Let me never be useless.

You have generously blessed me,

and my joy is ceaseless.

You have my love;

I hope to serve you more each day.

Oh, glorious God above,

please keep my temptation at bay.

I remember the great things He has done,

and my heart is filled with glee.

Grant me the grace to follow your Son,

so that wherever I go, he is with me.

Let my heart seek to glorify you, who I serve,

for you have already given me far more than I deserve.

 


 

Let Them Be Saved

Woe to the lost sheep,

for they have wandered away.

For them, Lord, our hearts weep;

please find them before they’ve gone too far astray.

Let those in the flock speak of your gospel,

and let us tell of the way and the truth and the life.

Shake the obstacles on the path to you and make them topple,

Embrace those who’ve gone astray and deliver them from strife.

Seek out the lost sheep, oh Shepherd;

find them and rejoice. 

Call to them, Father, until You are heard,

and let them follow the call of your voice.

For it is your will that not one should perish,

so let them find you, God, and be the one who they cherish.


 

Unworthy

I have broken Your commands;

I acknowledge my transgressions.

Indeed, I have failed to uphold your demands,

but please listen to my confessions.

I have harbored angry thoughts about my brother,

I have lusted after women.

I have dishonored both my father and mother,

I have stolen from other men.

I have been judgmental and not loving of my neighbor.

I am guilty, and I have nothing to offer in atonement.

There is nothing I can do, oh God, to earn your favor.

Even if I were to give all I have, it would not change my banishment.

Only through Your Son, can I live eternally.

Only through Him can I be made free.

I’m Married!

I’m Married!

VowsGreetings all,

Here’s a quick post to share in our joy! Just a few days ago (actually less than 48 hours), Julie and I were united in marriage!

We’re overjoyed, and spending time together. We just wanted to share a few of the photos from the ceremony.

We did a smaller ceremony now so that we could start our lives together legally and in a holy way.   We’re going to do a much larger celebration in the summer!

I want to offer  a special thank you to Maddelin Hamm, who took these photos. I’ve known her for more than a decade, and she’s an amazing influence in my life. So was so happy to capture the images, and just look at how wonderful these photos are!

Since I was 8, I’ve wanted a few things (I’m a very determined dude). I wanted to tell stories (which would evolve quickly into my desire to be a writer), and I wanted to be a husband and a father.

TheKissJulie is simply an answer to a prayer I’ve prayed for thirty years. She’s not just a woman I’ve asked for. She’s more than I deserve. She’s the one. I knew the night I met her (one of my sisters has the text to prove it). We’ve had a great journey thus far, and we’re excited to start our journey in our life together.

I can’t thank God enough. There aren’t words. My joy is boundless.

With that said, we’re going to get back to this life. We just wanted to share this with all of you.

 

HoldingEachOther

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Announcing the October Book Cover of the Month

Announcing the October Book Cover of the Month

Hello everyone,

We’ve just wrapped up another month. We’re now one bracket away from the Book Cover of the Year Wild Card Round!

We had 4,983 votes this month. This was one of the stronger months, and that was because one author came out with a much stronger following. It’s still great to see anyone get so much support. It was a run-away month to be honest, but that just means the bracket for the Book Cover of the Year should be amazing!

The October Book Cover of the Month is…

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Until Nothing Remains by C.A. Rudolph! If you’re curious about how I felt about the book, check out the Facebook post that I posted when this book first landed on the bracket, here.

Let’s look at the stats!

Rudolph  received 786 total votes!

As runners up, Unrelenting Tide by Alexa Dare and Into the Fire by K. Gorman get a second chance to claim the title in November’s bracket.

But for now, let’s look at this month’s winner!

Amazon:

(START BLURB)

The United States has experienced its share of turmoil over the years.

Although not particularly war-torn or stricken with genocide and violent crime as other nations, over time, gun violence and terror attacks have become commonplace on American soil.

Never before has the United States been subjected to widespread, coordinated terrorist attacks, devastating enough to bring the entire nation to its knees. Until now.

In this first volume of his Gun Play series, post-apocalyptic author C.A. Rudolph will engage you with the tale of two families from wholly diverse walks of life: a husband and wife immersed in a clandestine existence of murder-for-hire, espionage, and intrigue, and a mainstream middle-class family of six.

Each will find themselves affected by an onslaught of terror attacks the likes of which the world has never seen. Each must learn to survive…or succumb.

A silent enemy lurks among them, and no one knows when they plan to strike. When they do, it will only be a matter of time Until Nothing Remains.

(END BLURB)

I’ve added Until Nothing Remains to my TBR. (For those who are new to the deal, I buy the Book Cover of the Month to read and review in the future. I buy all the winning covers. I’ve already bought September, AugustJulyJuneMayAprilMarchFebruaryJanuary, and December’s book.


Here’s Rudolph’s Facebook page. Give it a like if you’re curious about her and her work.

OCT_Cover_CollageThe October Book Cover of the Month is coming along, and that contest will launch Nov. 1.

I will continue to identify and select covers for each day from Amazon’s New Release section for fantasy and science fiction. If you follow and like my Facebook page, you can see what covers will make the bracket.

Thanks for reading

Matt

Book Review: How to Study the Bible by John MacArthur

Book Review: How to Study the Bible by John MacArthur

(NOTE: As with last week, please don’t worry about the For a Few Credits More review. I simply review things in the order that I finished them, and this was next on the list.  It looks like I’ll review the next story in that anthology in next week.)

Bible studyAfter I finished reading the Bible all the way through, I was happy I’d done it, and I truly felt better, but I didn’t feel wiser. Anyone who just sits and reads the Bible is doing a great thing in any area of study, reading, or literature, but I wanted to understand it.  This is where How to Study the Bible by  John MacArthur comes in.

MacArthur establishes a few prerequisite for the study of the Bible. I understand them in one context, but I’d still challenge anyone to read the Bible all the way through and not be changed by it.  Detractors might say that anyone who reads anything with an affirming mindset will only become more convinced, and those people are correct. I leave these choices to the individual.  If you are saved and open to the Holy Spirit, I do believe you will find more value. I just also feel that anyone who does the same thing I did, read it and see what you learn and feel, will be positively impacted by it.

MacArthur provides a few key aspects that boil down to a concept called hermeneutics, which is the interpretation of the Bible. It’s not what people think. It’s a way to understand the context, language, and syntax used when the Bible was written.  Understanding the audience and the purpose of the information is key to having a greater concept. Reading the Bible isn’t about looking for affirmation to one’s thoughts; it’s about reading the Bible to better understand what it says. Where most people get frustrated with people who carelessly through scripture around, I’d advise others to go to the source interpret what it says rather than look for evidence to what you think.

The basic mechanics of study involves the approach to reading and making sure one understands the aforementioned hermeneutics.  From there, it’s reading with a purpose.

I’m currently trying this.  As early as I can in my day, I read my New Testament section.  I started in Romans because it’s my second favorite book in the Bible. I read it (the whole thing) once a day for thirty days. (I’d say it took about 45 minutes a day.)  One twist I added (because I find making a thing your own increases effectiveness of learning) is I started tracking what Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) Romans connected or cross-referenced with most.  I’m doing this with the John MacArthur English Standard Version Study Bible.  So in the notes, each time I saw a Gospel mentioned, I made a mark.  I did this both in the Bible and on a note pad I kept around.  If you’re curious, Matthew was mentioned more than 16 times (That’s just what I have on my notepad and doesn’t include the totals from the marks I made on the book). Mark was mentioned more than twice. Luke was mentioned more than seven times, and John was referenced more than 19 times. Again, these are just the numbers I have right in front of me.

I also took notes. I tracked words or phrases that come up a bunch of times, just to see if I could identify themes. Matthew won the overall count, so I broke that book of the Bible into chunks of seven. I read Matthew 1-7, and I just finished Matthew 8-14.  As I type this, I’ve just read Matthew 15-21 for the first of 30 times. That’s how this book recommends going through the New Testament. That might be a bit more than I can chew, but I’m torn between wanting to dedicate the time I read and the amount I read with how intently I can read it. I have pages of notes on Romans, and not so much on Matthew. I am reading it, and a lot is sticking. I also find the Epistles a bit easier as they’re clear messages rather than narratives as the Gospels are. Still, I read what I committed to reading and try to hold on to what I read (The repetition of 30 times helps).

The end of the night is for my Old Testament reading. That’s just starting at Genesis 1:1 and working through it. I read about a chapter a day there.

What I’ve discovered is pretty cool.  Doing this, I see a the connections. Many argue the Old and New Testaments conflict.  There’s a reason for that. Jesus came to further explain and uphold the law (Matthew 5:17-20). One thing Jesus did was com and separate a legalistic, ceremonial sense of justification from the real source of salvation (his death on the cross and resurrection).  But we see other things. As I read about Rahab, I found Matthew 1:1, and realized, “Hey! That’s the same woman from the Old Testament!” Those connections are simply astounding. And, the conflicts are resolved when one has the context for it.

I guess I’m going to digress here because this was a major sticking point in my growth with Christ. The Pharisees and Sadducees had started to rely on the Law and ceremony. They’d become hypocritical.  Jesus quotes the Old Testament at least once a chapter. The Law is still the Law, but through Christ we have Grace. Through the Law, we are condemned. We need the law to understand how impossible our salvation is on our own.

Christ helped us better understand the law and how we are to act individually and with each other. (The sermon on the mount is pretty much all about that. Matthew Chapter 5-7.)

Reading the Old with the New makes it easier to understand the context of the law and appreciate the grace God gave us through his son Jesus Christ.

I have a few other plans regarding how I’ll read and study the Bible. My intent is to read it again and again. The trick is, I want to look at it in every way I can, seeking to understand what it says more than evaluate how I feel about it or what it means to me. This is something people do too often. First, Word of God is our Sword of the Spirit. We use it to fight temptation and stand strong. In terms of apologetics,

John-MacArthur-Primary-2

we use it to understand context. I’m wary of those who use it to attack a brother. I have a plank in my eye, I don’t have time to look for the speck in my brother’s eye (Matthew

7:3-5).

I’m not saying any time someone quotes scripture at you, they’re being a hypocrite. But the spirit of why one is doing something matters.

I’m thrilled with this book and the approach it offers. If you’ve read the Bible, and it doesn’t make a ton of sense, I wouldn’t stop there and say, “It’s not real.”  First off, the Bible isn’t like a story to read (It can be, but that’s the lowest use of it).  It’s a manual. It’s a reference book. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a single text book I’ve read once through and considered myself a master at the subject.  But to study anything effectively, one needs a study approach, and this one is really giving me more insight.

 

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Sonnets for My Savior 6

Sonnets for My Savior 6

The Most Dangerous Temptation

“You will never attain His standard,” the tempter said.

“What is the point in trying?”

It is written, to sin, I’m dead,

if in Christ I’m relying.

“Where is the fruit you’re supposed to bear?

“Where is the sign of your Salvation?”

It is written, in every good work, my fruits are there.

We are first fruits saved through sanctification.

“You can’t be perfect;

“your every sin is accusatory”

It is written, God is perfect,

but all mankind falls short of his glory.

“Why would you believe you couldn’t fall after succumbing to my word?”

It is written, nothing can separate us from God’s love that is revealed in Christ our Lord.


 

My Lack, Your Grace

Your grace is sufficient for all who sin;

Your power is made perfect in weakness.

I’m humbled by the evil that is in my skin,

for without You, my life is bleakness.

My transgressions continue to mount;

these thorns prevent me from conceit.

These failings come more than I can count,

and there lies nothing in me to use to bring temptation’s defeat.

Even though you do not tempt me beyond my ability,

I sometimes fail to escape though you offer a way.

Yet you still provide for me faithfully,

so that next time I might not go astray.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me a way to endure,

Help me trust in your grace, so I won’t succumb to the tempter’s lure.


 

How He Resisted

He was not tempted by starvation;

He quoted how man lives.

Bread alone does not sustain creation,

but they survive by the word God gives.

He was not tempted by pride;

He did not put his God to the test.

Even though the tempter used scripture when he tried,

Jesus knew the correct words to seek to stand strong in the contest.

He was not tempted by any number of kingdoms for a bribe;

He did not waiver in his loyalty.

Again to God’s word did Jesus ascribe

the commandment to serve only God an not commit idolatry.

He was without sin even though he was tempted.

This teaches us to seek scripture so we might avoid being corrupted.


 

Merciful

We thank you, our merciful God;

Thank you for forgiving our iniquity, sin, and transgression.

I find comfort in your staff and your rod,

and You, O Lord, are a God full of Compassion.

Thank you, our High Priest, for you can sympathize with our weakness,

for you faced temptation and won.

You showed such great mercifulness,

by suffering for everyone.

Blessed be they who comfort us in our tribulation

so that we might be a comfort to others.

Jesus served as our propitiation,

so we can receive the spirit of adoption and become Christ’s brothers.

Through the Lords mercies, we are not consumed,

for he has granted us salvation even though our sins should make us doomed.


 

Gifts

Behold the gifts we have been given,

all so that we may use them.

Even in our sinful condition,

we have been blessed by God, from whom all good things stem.

Some can teach and other contribute;

others can lead while still others are merciful.

Use these gifts for God in an offer of tribute

so that faith in him will be shown incontrovertible.

Some exhort and others lead

all to bring glory to his name.

Let every action and ever deed

be pleasing to Him and no cause for shame.

We, though many, are one body in Christ,

Let each of us serve Him as is good and right. 


 

Always for Good

Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery,

but God called him to care for many.

Even an act of knavery

can be used by God to elevate nothing to plenty.

Judah believed he’d lain with a prostitute to sate his sinful desire,

but God used that deed to sow the seed of our Savior.

There is no deed that man could conspire

that God can’t use for a cause that’s greater.

The chief priests and scribes had Jesus crucified to silence his teaching,

but that great sin was used to grant our salvation.

Indeed all that happens, no matter how anguishing,

works out for the good of those who love the father of creation.

A man might do as much evil as he could.

but God will always mean it for good.


 

Do Not Be Anxious

Why worry about clothes and food?

Flowers don’t sew and birds don’t harvest.

Our creator provides for them, so what person would he exclude?

He alone knows what we need best.

Indeed don’t be anxious about anything;

instead pray to Him in every situation.

Offer our God, who created everything,

prayers of thanksgiving and supplication.

Trust in the Lord, not your own understanding;

submit, and He will make your paths straight.

Trust in Him in times, demanding,

for you are weak, but His power is great.

He will never leave of forsake us,

so there is no need to ever be anxious.

My Top 5 Music Themed Movies

My Top 5 Music Themed Movies

Greetings all,

BORAP
Poster for Bohemian Rhapsody used for review purposes under fair use doctrine.

 

So apparently getting married is time consuming. Who knew? My post is a tad late, and I blame Freddie Mercury. We just saw the movie, and I enjoyed it. It’s a great mix of biography and musical fun. I’m pretty sure Julie and I sang through the last half of the movie. (No one complained. They might have been singing along.  I honestly couldn’t tell.) The movie felt raw. I don’t feel as though it held back. It wasn’t the tribute to homosexuality some may argue it was, nor did it ignore that part of Mercury’s life. I read one review that said it was more about the band than Mercury; that’s false. This is absolutely a Mercury biography, only it focused much more on the creation of his music than it did his lifestyle choices.  I enjoyed the music as I always have.

The thing is though, I love pretty much ANY movie that has anything to do with music. So when I got home and suddenly realized I’m supposed to post today, I couldn’t think of anything better than my top 5 list of best music themed movies.

This is, of course, my list. You’re free to comment, offer your own list, tell me what you think of mine, or all of the above.

#5 Eddie and the Cruisers 2:  So, the first thing I’m going to tell you is that I love hero moments. There’s nothing better than when you’re watching a movie, and you want to jump out of your seat and shout, and all of these movies have it. You might not have heard of Eddie and the Cruisers, much less it’s sequel Eddie Lives, but it’s the first movie I can remember watching that was about a band trying to make it. It might not be that good a movie. I haven’t seen it since I was a kid, but I can still probably sing at least two songs, and I love the scene where he says, “…and I’m Eddie Wilson!” Then the fans chant his name.

The movie stars Wilson, who had faked his death and tried to live obscurely, writing music, looking for the perfect sound. Along comes a young rocker who convinces Wilson to Jam with him. Before he knows it, he’s leading a band. There are a lot of great quotes here, my favorite is: “I want music someone can wrap around themselves like a warm blanket.” This is true of what I like in my music. Songs that stick with you and warm you up no matter what.

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Poster for Coyote Ugly used for review purposes under fair use doctrine. 

#4 Coyote Ugly: Yes, you read that right. Remember what I said about hero moment? First of, come on, Piper Perabo is as talented as she is beautiful, and her portrayal of a shy girl finding her chance to shine is fantastic. Yes, pretty women doing alluring things might have got a young man to sit down in front of the TV, but the songs and the creation of music is what kept me watching. Also, she’s a writer/performer in the show, and that’s just awesome!

#3 Bandslam: If I feel down. If I feel cast off or sad, I watch this movie. Frankly, everything about this movie is touching and powerful. It might be one of the better coming of age movies of all time as well. (Go ahead, @me on this!) All of these movies have a great hero moment, but this one is the best. This young man takes his most shaming part of his life, and, in the heat of a moment, turns it into a cry of victory.

#2 August Rush: If you watch this, and you don’t cry at the end, you have no soul.  So, I probably like this more because it’s about a kid, and I have a soft spot for kids finding their families again. But even if you just watch it for the music, you see the heart of what makes music wonderful. It’s organic. It’s alive, and to those who are blessed, it calls out to you. The love story is amazing. The journey to knowledge is wonderful. The music is electric.

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Movie poster for Mr. HOlland’s Opus used for review purposes under fair use doctrine.

#1 Mr. Holland’s Opus: I’ve mentioned you may share your list with me, but any list that doesn’t have this as number one is wrong. (Again,  go ahead, @me on this!) This movie has everything: A great hero moment, wonderful music, the struggles of the passion of music, love, family, and one of the best musical histories you could ever ask for. I don’t know that it has the best of any of those categories, but it absolutely is the only movie I’ve ever seen that has them all.

So that’s my list? What do you think? What does your list look like?

Thanks for reading

Matt