Before Christmas Celebrate Lit Book Review & Giveaway

My Thoughts

Before Christmas, The Story of Jesus from the Beginning of Time to the Manger by author Bill Crowder is a perfect advent book.  This small God glorifying book will help any reader strengthen his Walk with Jesus.  It was a delightful find.

Filled with scripture the author has done research in both the Old and New Testaments.  He goes back to when God made the Earth and talks about Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  New Testament references go through Revelation.

There are six chapters in this book.  Beginning with “His Character as God” and concluding with “His Announced Arrival” all six chapters examine a part of Jesus to help us learn more.  The author has included some reflections and stories of his own along with the scripture.

This is a well planned, organized, and nicely written book.  It was easy to read and understand.  I will keep it on hand for future reference.

I highly recommend this.  A church library would benefit from a few copies.  This would make a great group study, especially during advent.  It gets a 5 out of 5 star rating from me.  A copy was provided by Celebrate Lit but these are my honest thoughts.

About the Book

Book: Before Christmas

Author: Bill Crowder

Genre: RELIGION / Holidays/Christmas & Advent

Release Date: October, 2019

Before ChristmasEmbrace the majesty of the Messiah

Bill Crowder invites you to explore the backstory of the first advent. He brings you on a journey into the very heart of God, to a greater understanding of what it means that “the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14).

 Walk through Scripture to see and know Jesus in a richer way. Examine His character as God, His relationship with the Father, His appearances in the Old Testament, and more. Understand how these pre-Bethlehem truths lead into the Savior’s birth and the events of that first Christmas—and, most importantly, how it all comes together in God’s great story of redemption and rescue.

 You’ll embrace the majesty of the Messiah and celebrate Christ’s birth with renewed joy and wonder.

Click here to get your copy.

About the Author

Bill CrowderBill Crowder, who spent over twenty years in the pastorate, is vice president of ministry content at Our Daily Bread Ministries. He is a contributor to Our Daily Bread and the author of nine books, including My Hope Is in You, Seeing the Heart of Christ, and For This He Came. He and his wife, Marlene, have five children.

 

More from Bill

During my years as a pastor, I found Christmas and Easter to be challenging. Certainly I love those seasons (for very different reasons), but finding creative ways to retell these important stories was often difficult. But, at one such season I realized that the story we tell at Christmas is not really the whole story. By entering the story at Nazareth or Bethlehem, we enter too late. We can’t simply start with the Baby in the manger—we need to go back. Before time began. To the eternal Christ. Unless we seek to understand Him, we’ll never fully appreciate who He was and why He came. That is the Christmas story.  – Bill Crowder

Blog Stops

The Power of Words, October 31

Mary Hake, October 31

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 1

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 2

A Rup Life, November 3

Lights in a Dark World, November 3

Texas Book-aholic, November 4

janicesbookreviews, November 5

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 6

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 6

A Reader’s Brain, November 7

Emily Yager, November 8

Older & Smarter?, November 9

God is Love, November 10

For the Love of Literature, November 11

She Lives To Read, November 12

Inklings and notions, November 13

Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, November 13

Giveaway

To celebrate his tour, Bill is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of the book, Starbucks Holiday Blend Coffee, and $10 Amazon card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/ee23/before-christmas-celebration-tour-giveaway

Be God’s Vessel

On a rare trip to the inside of the grocery, I noticed most people hurrying past the Salvation Army bellringer.  No eye contact, and especially no hello or Merry Christmas to her was offered.  I supposed people were afraid it would cost them a donation.  My attitude was taking a turn for the worse so I checked it at the door.

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Inside was a flurry of activity.  School is out for Christmas break, and kids were excited just to be at the grocery store.  “Mom, could we get this?  Mom, I really want some of these.  Mom, Mom, Mom!”  Poor mothers were trying to finish shopping while kids were requesting items not on the list or in the budget.  I spied one young mother longingly check the price of a turkey and then ham.  Reluctantly she put both back and went to the reduced section where she picked up some marked down ground meat.  The four kiddos danced around the packaged lunches down a ways that all kids love but were good when she shook her head no.  For a family of six, her cart was surprisingly scant.  I crossed paths with them again as I went down the toy aisle checking for stocking stuffers for my four grands.  The kids were eager to offer opinions even though they were much younger than my grands are.

I was delayed at the pharmacy for a short bit but ended up in line next to the delightful family.  After flagging down a worker, I asked him to hurry and get a ham, turkey, dozen lunchables, and some toys the kids had ogled.  I was ready to check out and the mother was next in line next door so I needed him to hustle.  He did.  With the help of “Ryan” I was able to get these bought and later loaded into her van without her knowing.  He even contributed some items he knew she needed since she shops there often.

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At her checkout time the mama did not have enough food stamps to pay so she started to put things back.  The person in back of her asked “for the privilege of paying for your order” and even added some items from his cart and the candy display.  I heard the woman say through tears she had prayed for a miracle and thanked the man for allowing God to use him.

That day God used me, Ryan, and another man to provide groceries and toys for a faithful, praying woman.  I tell you this not for any glory for myself at all, but for God.  He is Jehovah Jirah, our God that provides.  Answering prayers is just in a His nature.  He will use you if you just make yourself available and ask.

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Friends, I am abundantly blessed and that could have easily been me or one of my children except for the Grace of God.  If you are nudged this season by Abba, please follow through with it.  Let Him use you as the vessel to answer someone’s prayer.  You will end up being blessed.

Christmas Joy not Stress

IMG_0052Are you enjoying the Advent Season?  Is your life filled with joy or stress?  This time before Christmas should be a time to reflect and prepare our hearts for the great gift that our Heavenly Father sent to us…..His Son, Jesus, our Savior, God with us.   Sometimes it is hard to do amidst the hustle and bustle of buying presents, sending cards, making cookies, decorating and all of the other preparations we think we need to do.

One good thing that comes with age is wisdom.  I have realized that Christmas comes whether I have cookies baked and cards sent or not.  Plus, the world goes on.  This time of year isn’t about being stressed out and tired.  No, not at all.  It is about love.  God’s great, everlasting, unimaginable love for us.

I would think He would want us to be joyful and happy, spreading His love and light to others instead of grumbling and be anxious that we are too busy and do not have enough time to get everything done.  My friend, perhaps you are trying to do too much.  Relax.  Enjoy this season for what it is.  Let peace overtake you.

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What things might make this season easier for you this year?  Perhaps using gift bags instead of wrapping would free up time.  If you don’t have time for decorating like you usually do, that is okay.  As the saying goes “the prettiest Christmas decorations are my children’s faces” at home.  Dinner is another pressure point.  Go with paper plates.  Make it a pitch-in.  Order some of the food instead of cooking.  Take some things off of your shoulders so that you can be happy.  Your family will appreciate a happy you more than a fully decorate house.

Let’s examine the other side where you have everything under control.  Wonderful!  You are able to enjoy Christmas music and doing things with family.   Have you considered helping someone that is stressing?  Maybe offering to bake cookies or dessert would take a load off of their shoulders.  What about helping with errands or sending dinner one night to free up some of their time?  Your giving to them before Christmas could make a vast difference.

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Offer to babysit or wrap a neighbor’s gifts for their children.  That is a difficult task and would be most welcomed.  What things can you add to this list?

Christmastime should be a special season.  One to anticipate each year with joy.  Not one to dread.  It is a season of good will and peace.  Let those reign with love and joy.

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We are celebrating the birth of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  Read the story of His birth again.  Think about His humble beginnings.  Ponder the true meaning of Christmas.  Concentrate on Him and not the things of this world.  He will make your days merry and bright.

Put Christ back in CHRISTmas

The most wonderful time of the year is fast approaching.  Is it one of your favorites?  There are lovers of Christmas and then there are the Scrooges.  In fact, throughout the Advent Season, we could even find that we switch from one to the other.  Oh my!  Isn’t that a dreadful thought?!

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Christmastime is one of the most delightful times for me.  Just thinking about Jesus being sent here to be our Savior bring tears to my eyes.  I never get weary of listening to Christmas hymns.  Today I absent-mindedly hummed and half sang “O Little Town of Bethlehem” while I did paperwork.  That isn’t even my “go to” Christmas song.  Usually “Mary Did You Know” is first on my mind.

I am a consultant for Pampered Chef and do my parties on Facebook.  Like in-home parties we, too, play games.  One of my popular this year has been to name something that has to do with Christmas starting with A, the next person takes B, and on through the alphabet.  As I totaled points for the door prize drawing, I reviewed the answers.

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The results were about 50% Christian answers and 50% secular.  The letter J brought words Jesus, Joy, Jingle and Jolly.  S gave Savior, Star, Santa, and Stockings.  Every one of the reindeer were mentioned, but I don’t remember seeing Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, or Bethlehem.

What about your list?  When you think about Christmas do your thoughts immediately turn to the first six letters in that word…..CHRIST?  Maybe this world has pushed Him back from the front because of the hustle, bustle, and commercialism of today.  Don’t let that happen.

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This is the season of love and miracles.  God gave us all a miracle, His Son, our Redeemer.   That is the biggest, best present anyone has ever given you and me.  Hmmm, what have we given Him in return?

For me, I am going to try to keep more CHRIST in Christmas.  Play more hymns, read more scripture and Christian based books.  I have decided “do not stress and show grace” is my motto.  Without stressing out, I am a much nicer person.  Not only do I get grace from Abba, but I will in turn give it to others.  Everyone deserves grace.  People are more important than some of the silly things that upset others.

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Okay, so our focus will be on Jesus and helping show Him to others this year.  Even if we are playing a game or singing a song, we can easily do this.  A former minister once told me if I kept dripping little drops on someone eventually they would get wet.  Are you game?

Take Christmas back.  Give it to Jesus.  It is His birthday and so much more we are celebrating.  Spread joy, love, grace, and His light.  Let’s shower drops of Jesus on everyone.

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Lost Christmas Memories Giveaway & Book Tour by CelebrateLit

It is that time of year when I gravitate toward books with Christmas in their titles.  This one is a contemporary Christian suspense mystery romance Christmas fiction by author Dana Mentink.  Since it is a Love Inspired Book, it is a little smaller in length and size, but the good news it has a healthy size print.
Lost Christmas Memories is the fourth and final book in the author’s Gold Country Cowboy Series.  It also happens to be the first book I have read by author Mentink.   I was able to catch on to the story which opened dramatically.  However, at times I felt a bit at a loss even with the recaps.  It would be much better to read the series.
This is the tale of Tracy and Keegan.  The characters were well defined right down to their flaws making them realistic.  The author writes in a descriptive manner that drew me in from page one.  I could feel the panic and imagine the scene without a problem.
The romance moved a bit fast, but it always does in short books.  Dialogue was plentiful and flowed easily between the characters.  The book contained inspiration and touched on faith, forgiveness, and hope.  There was plenty of action, emotion, twists, and a bit of humor.
I would recommend this, but I would also recommend reading the other three first.  If you enjoy suspense, cowboys, and fast paced action books, you definitely will love this one.  I rated it a 4 out of 5 stars.  A copy was provided by CelebrateLit but the review is my own honest opinion.
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Book: Lost Christmas Memories

Author: Dana Mentink

Genre: Inspirational Romantic Suspense/Christmas

Release Date: November 1, 2018

A witness with amnesia

Can she trust this Gold Country Cowboy with her life?

Tracy Wilson witnessed a murder—but after a head injury, she can’t remember what she saw. Now someone plans to silence her for good, and only cowboy Keegan Thorn believes her. With a killer after her at Christmas, Tracy is running out of time to remember…and falling dangerously hard for the cowboy who could break her heart.

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Dana Mentink is a two time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner, a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and a Holt Medallion winner. She is a national bestselling author of over thirty five titles in the suspense and lighthearted romance genres. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Heartwarming and Harvest House. Dana was thrilled to be a semi-finalist in the Jeanne Robertson Comedy With Class Competition. Besides writing, she busies herself teaching third grade. Mostly, she loves to be home with Papa Bear, teen bear cubs affectionately nicknamed Yogi and Boo Boo, Junie, the nutty terrier, a chubby box turtle and a feisty parakeet. You can connect with Dana via her website at danamentink.com.

Guest Post from Dana

Writing this book was bittersweet for me. It was lovely to finally be able to tell youngest Thorn brother Keegan’s story, but I sure am sorry to say goodbye to this series! It was such fun to write about these four kinsmen and the family bonds that held them together through all manner of murder and mayhem! Here at Mentink Manor, we have recently sent a bear cub away to college for the first time. It feels like I have lost a limb now that my Boo Boo is gone! Fortunately, we will enjoy having her home for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Though it won’t be a cozy country Christmas like it is for Keegan (we live in a city of 80,000 here in Northern, CA) we will be thrilled to have all our family home to celebrate together (Mama Bear, Papa Bear, two cubs, a naughty terrier, and a senior citizen box turtle!) I hope you enjoy this last installment in the Gold Country Cowboy series. I am sending along our best wishes for a blessed holiday season, from our Mentink household to yours!

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, November 22
Inklings and Notions, November 23
Blogging With Carol, November 23
Moments, November 25
Genesis 5020, November 26
SusanLovesBooks, November 26
Remembrancy, November 26
Pause for Tales, November 27
Quiet quilter, November 28
Book by Book, November 29
A Rup Life, November 29
Older & Smarter?, November 30
Cafinated Reads, November 30
KarenSueHadley, December 1
Lighthouse Academy, December 1
Daysong Reflections, December 1
Bigreadersite, December 3
Texas Book-aholic, December 4
Carpe Diem, December 4
Godly Book Reviews, December 5

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away a grand prize of a copy of Lost Christmas Memories, a $50 Amazon gift card and this cute reading charms necklace!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d626/lost-christmas-memories-celebration-tour-giveaway

What is Your Christmas Tradition?

My Grandmother’s family had a tradition of playing the Christmas Gift game. Does your family do this? I would love to hear your story of it.  Only Grandmother did it and the older I get the more I wish we had kept the tradition alive in our family.  Growing up I listened in wonderment as my proper Grandmother turned back into a fun loving girl again. In the game of Christmas Gift, the first person to say “Christmas Gift” earned the first gift, an extra gift, for that day.  Grandmother would answer her phone “Christmas Gift” instead of the normal “Merry Christmas” as the majority of people do. DesignShe loved that game.  It reminded her of her childhood and holidays at home. Research on this game revealed that it could be done for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It started as a custom that was broadly practiced by families from the southern parts of the United States. My Grandmother (paternal) grew up near Richmond, Kentucky and was definitely a fine Southern lady.

My daughter-in-law has German heritage and continues a German Christmas tradition. On their Christmas each year is a hidden glass pickle ornament. The lucky person to find the ornament is supposed to receive a finder’s gift and good fortune for the next year. It is said that these ornaments were first sold in the United States in 1880.IMG_0068

I don’t remember any other specific Christmas traditions. Sure we decorate, make cookies and candy, and visit family. Nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary. We used to have a progressive dinner for my mother and her siblings.  That could be a blog in itself. Now things are just toned down.

Toned down describes Jesus’ birth. Nothing elaborate and fancy. Born in a stable with shepherds as messengers to spread the news. Jesus had humble beginnings and taught humility. I looked up the meaning of humble: having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance, not haughty, arrogant, assertive, or proud. Wow – if anyone had a reason to feel important or know He was important, it was Jesus, but He acted like a servant to all. Jesus was not proud, conceited, or arrogant. He did not push people around or assert Himself. Jesus resonated love, purity, goodness, and patience. He taught us what things really mattered. Lessons in riches showed us that our treasures are not here on Earth in things but in Heaven with Him and the Father. His family is our family. We should love and care for them as He wants us.

DesignThis year just might be the perfect time to start a new Christmas tradition. One that is pleasing to and lead by Jesus. Pray about it, open your heart and mind.  Maybe some type of donation or charity would be  for your family.  Perhaps buying some livestock, chickens or seed for someone makes your heart sing.   If you decide on one, I would love to hear about it. “Peace on Earth and goodwill to men.”IMG_0072

What do you think of when someone says Christmas?

Christmas.  One word but very powerful.  What do you think about when someone says Christmas? Quick….what was your first thought?   Family? Food? Cookie making? Decorations? Santa? Gifts? The Nativity?Baby Jesus?  There are so many things associated with Christmas. Right?! It takes days to prepare for it. It is the same date every year, December 25th, but some years it seems to come quicker than others for me. This year is one of them, but it is coming whether I am ready or not.

One thing that keeps me sane and grounded instead of frenzied is to remember it is Advent. Do you participate in Advent? Advent Season is in the end stages now so I have had twenty days to get my priorities in order. Christians start December 1st preparing their hearts and minds for the true meaning of Christmas. Even if you did not begin December 1st, it is never too late to jump in. Reflecting on God is what I do first. What better place to start than with God for anything? Think about the powerful Maker of everything deeming we needed help here on Earth so He came down as a baby. Living life among us, Jesus changed our lives forever. Literally, He changed our eternity.IMG_0064

Our Father, Creator, God Almighty came to Earth not as a royal prince, waited on hand and foot. Oh no! He came to an everyday couple, lowly not affluent. Everything did not go what we think of as perfect, but it went according to God’s plan.  The couple was out of town with no place to stay when Mary’s labor began, and they were allowed to take shelter in a stable or cave along with animals.  Mary had her baby away from home, friends, and midwives to give birth amidst animals.  That was God’s plan. His plan also included His Son being beaten and crucified later in life. Jesus made a bridge between God and man. We are now able to go straight to our Heavenly Father and ask for forgiveness for our sins. Our debts have been paid by the Lamb of God. No more sacrifices are necessary. Jesus opened Heaven’s doors for us.  He set us free and it cost us nothing. We just need to receive His gift, believe He is God’s Son, and repent of our sins.

Take a few minutes out of the hectic, Christmas rush today. Stop wrapping presents and baking cookies. Give shopping a break. Grab a cup of hot tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. Find a quiet place to sit where you won’t be disturbed.  Spend some quiet time with your Creator. The One that cared enough about you that He sent His Son to Earth to give you salvation is waiting to hear from you this Advent. Let Him help you prepare your heart. Don’t stress and worry that things are not getting done. You don’t need to spend hours in prayer.  Let the Holy Spirit guide you.  Even if it is 3 or 5 minutes it will be well worth it.  Spending time with God in prayer will reward you in ways you could never imagine.IMG_0060