Out of the Wilderness by Steve Stroble

Out of the Wilderness
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Out of the Wilderness

Sam Smaltz just wants to be left alone.

But being sandwiched between the Greatest Generation and Gen X and the Millenials offers him no such comfort.

As a Baby Boomer, he does not get to be a respected hero by fighting German and Japanese warriors during WW II or North Koreans invading South Korea, but instead leaves behind a stepson who is sucked into the nebulous world of present day international terrorism, where everyone is suspect and no one can be trusted.’

Life is not easy as it requires his stepson Jack Smaltz to be just one more nameless, faceless hero whose story gets lost in the shuffle even as it makes his generation shine.

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Short Stories Book 5 (Short Stories Series) by Steve Stroble

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Short Stories Book 5 (Short Stories Series)

A collection of short stories:

  1. “The Fixer” — Vacation to Mount Rushmore is ruined by protestors
  2. “If It’s Thursday, It Must Be Jordan” — Son tries to convince ex-pat parents to move back to America
  3. “Earth, This Is Mars Base 3” — A case of space psychosis upends Mars Base 3
  4. “The Case of the Lost Child” — P. I. Bobbi Heck takes on a case as a favor to a crush of hers from high school days

This is Book 5 in the Short Stories Series.

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That’s Life (Short Stories Series Book 3) by Steve Stroble

That's Life (Short Stories Series Book 3)
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That’s Life: Short Stories (Short Stories Series Book 3)

A collection of short stories:

  1. The Conqueror Earthworms — Granddaughter’s fascination with earthworms brings grieving widow back to the land of the living.
  2. You Asked for It — New pastor tries to cure church of “But we’ve always done it that way before.”
  3. Something Smells Good; It Has to Be Brownies — Struggling writer and artist team up to sell their wares.
  4. The Case of the Rich Dead Mom — P I Bobbi Heck is asked by one of the heirs to investigate a rich woman’s death.
  5. Carrier Pigeon — Fledgling missionary is recruited by an organization that is not what it appears to be.

That’s Life is Book 3 in the Short Stories Series.

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Togetherness (Book 2 Short Stories Series) by Steve Stroble

Togetherness (Short Stories): (Book 2 Short Stories Series)
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Togetherness (Short Stories): (Book 2 Short Stories Series)

A collection of short stories:

  1. Pink Belly Man — One of bully Pink Belly Man’s victims seeks revenge years later.
  2. Working by Committee — Three men and three women report to find answers about UFOs and Alien Abductions.
  3. I Quit — Guitar player and singer is odd man out as his bandmates harass him.
  4. Don’t Believe Them — POTUS’s departure from office leads to nationwide marital law.
  5. The Case of the Wayward Grandson — A grandfather hires P. I. Bobbi Heck to save his grandson.
  6. The Review — A review inspires a new author to higher expectations of turning her book into a movie.
  7. The Last Move — Worn down after 16 moves during his marriage, a husband swears, “This will be the last one.”
  8. No Drone Zone — Country resident declares war against a neighbor’s drone.

Togetherness is Book 2 in the Short Stories Series.

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The Weekly Bible Lab: S1E2- The Son of Man (Mark 2:1-12)- with John Stapleton

YouTuber John Stapleton shares on The Son of Man from the Gospel of Mark. (Notes Below)

2 | The Son of Man

BIG IDEA

Jesus proves his claim to be God by healing a paralyzed man to show that he has forgiven the man’s sins.

CONTEXT

Mark 1 was all about introducing Jesus Christ, second person of the trinity,
who demonstrated his authority as God by exercising his rule over demons
and sickness. As you could imagine, this captivates the appeal of large
throngs of people who then begin to follow Jesus around. This brings us to
chapter 2.

THE STORY

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, and by now Jesus is
residing in Capernaum. Jesus has been traveling from town to town
throughout the Galilean region preaching. Now that Jesus has returned
home, he still “was preaching the word to them” (Mark 2:2). If you are
wondering what he may had been saying, I would look at Mark 1:15: “Jesus
came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is
fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the
gospel.’” Jesus had one message: Repentance and kingdom allegiance.

As Jesus was preaching in (what some scholars think to be Peter’s house),
many people gathered to hear him and then five men are introduced into
the narrative. “When they could not get near him because of the crowd,
they removed the roof above him” (Mark 2:4). Jesus saw their faith by
them thinking outside the box to get to Jesus. We also don’t if the
paralytic himself had any faith, but his friends did, and that was enough
for Jesus. He directs his attention to the man and forgives his sins. Some
religious people were present judging Jesus: “Why does this man speak
like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark
2:7).

But Jesus is already God!

“Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves…”
(Mark 2:8).

Only God can read people’s thoughts. It’s interesting whenever this word
“questioned” comes up, it often has negative contexts. Let’s look at other
occurrences in Mark’s gospel:

  • Mark 8:16-17 | They began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?
  • Mark 11:31-33 | They discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 32 But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. 33 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Their mind would have gone back to this story in the Old Testament:
  • Leviticus 24:10-16 | 10 Now an Israelite woman’s son, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the people of Israel. And the Israelite woman’s son and a man of Israel fought in the camp, 11 and the Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the Name, and cursed. Then they brought him to Moses. His mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan. 12 And they put him in custody, till the will of the Lord should be clear to them.
    13 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 14 “Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. 15 And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. 16 Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.
I love Jesus’ response:
  • Mark 2:9 | Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’?

I always missed what Jesus meant by saying this, but I’ve recently
discovered that it would be easier to say that the man’s sins are forgiven
because there is no tangible way to prove that. It’s harder to tell the man
to walk, because if he doesn’t walk, nobody will believe anything Jesus is
teaching.

  • Mark 2:10-12 | But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Jesus possesses the authority that he claims; he successfully backed his
claim to be God and forgive sin. This is an unmistakable miracle that
everyone became witnesses to and they “glorified God” (verse 12). People
are still curious about Jesus as he is the great miracle worker. As we get
deeper into Mark’s gospel, we will see two groups of people: People who
follow Jesus because of the miracles and others who follow Jesus because
they love him. In other parts of Mark, when people are “amazed,” that
usually indicates unbelief.

Ask yourself: Why do I follow Jesus? Do I believe what Jesus said about
himself? Why or why not?

Q&A

1). Is it true that the Bible has become a god to many who idolize it?
Can the Bible actually become a God to people and keep them from
knowing the true God himself? – Samuel Jones

While Christians don’t worship the Bible, we can never stress how
important it is because it points us to the God we worship. Without
the Bible, we will never would know God’s character, or God’s will, or
let alone how we are to interpret the world around us.

It would be really hard to worship the Bible because it points
outside of itself. The only times the Bible points to itself is when it
reminds us that these are the words of God.

2). Which character of the Bible displays great persistence? – Laurel
Anderson

Hebrews 11 give us many examples of persistence or faith, but 2
characters in particular come to mind for me:

The first is the fictitious widow in Luke 18, who keeps hounding a
careless judge for justice. The second is Job. He is a weird example
because as I read through Job, he isn’t all that patient. He whines
throughout the book. Yet James, a New Testament writer
encourages us to consider “the steadfastness of Job” (James 5:11).

Maybe the Bible is telling us in this example that it is okay to
grieve, even question God, but still be patient.

3). Is it possible that Isaiah 5:20 is occurring currently in society? –
Mark Bloemers

This is definitely happening today. We are always redefining things
to sound less bad. We don’t like to call infidelity adultery; instead it
is an affair. We don’t like to call abortions murder; it is a mother’s
choice… to murder. The examples I could mention are numerous.

If we can redefine terms, this directly effects how the next
generation thinks about morality. I firmly believe that the most
sinful thing we can do with our speech is not cussing (though I don’t
condone free use of profanity) but it is dishonesty. Calling good
things bad and bad good is dishonest.

No it was not God’s will. A closer look at 1 Kings 11:1–4 reveals that
these wives turned Solomon’s heart away from God. It also mentions
that God commanded not to marry foreign women from other
religions because that’s what will happen – the husband will be
influenced away from the Lord. So it is important to realize that
Solomon broke God’s law (see Deuteronomy 17:17).

Later, after the reign of Solomon, we get the reflection of
Nehemiah concerning this situation in Nehemiah 13:23-27.

Long story short, it was never God’s will for Solomon to have many
wives.

4). Is the Great Tribulation prophesied to be the same as the time
before Noah’s flood? – Stef Lynn

I would encourage you to look at Luke 17:26–27. Jesus compares the
flood and the Great Tribulation because of 4 basic realities: 1). The
world was sinful, 2). Life went on as usual, 3). God’s judgment took
everyone by surprise, 4). Except for God’s chosen people.

These events are very unique from each other. The first judgment
was a flood; the last judgment is fire (2 Peter 3:7). Moreover, Jesus
said that no other events ever have or ever will match or exceed this
event (Matthew 24:21). So according to Jesus, this is not the same
event. Jesus was using the flood as a point of reference.

5). Why is Paul’s name not mentioned in Revelation 21:14 where the
twelve apostles of the Lamb are listed?

The main thing to focus on is the symbolism of the number 12. The
reason I take this angle is because I can’t say with confidence who
the twelfth apostle is. Remember, Judas committed suicide. The
apostles then cast lots to decide who will officially be the twelfth
apostle “and the lot fell on Matthias” (Acts 1:23). Later, Saul gets
saved and becomes Paul.

Paul also saw himself as the outsider (2 Corinthians 12:11). That’s just
how it was. The twelve apostles are a class to themselves because
they walked with Jesus. “He appointed twelve (whom he also named
apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them
out to preach and have authority to cast out demons” (Mark
3:14–15). While Jesus picked his disciples, Paul was being a Pharisee.
He just didn’t pick Paul and after he got saved, he felt like he had a
lot to prove.

The big idea behind the symbolism in Revelation 21 is that the
twelve foundations and names reflect the twelve tribes of Israel. It’s
a symbol for Israel and spiritually, God’s people.

6). Which character of the Bible is overly trusting?

The person that comes to mind for me is Hezekiah. Isaiah 39:1–6
recalls the king showing envoys from Babylon everything in his
house. The prophet Isaiah came back to Hezekiah that he shouldn’t
have been so proud and gullible by showing everything off. He
predicted that everything would be stolen by them.

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Mountain Mishap by Janice Cole Hopkins

Mountain Mishap
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Mountain Mishap

Anna Allen grew up in the Charleston Orphan House, but at eighteen, she must now leave. Her best option is to wed, and when a man from the Appalachian Mountains comes looking for a wife, she hesitantly agrees to marry him. However life with Elbert Ramsey and his father turns out to be miles from her dreams.

In 1851, Levi West decides to go stay with his brother in the Appalachian Mountains. His parents had died, leaving the farm in debt, and a brazen woman had caused a rift between him and his best friend. Although his sister-in-law’s younger sister acts almost as bad, Levi finds he loves the rugged mountains. When a hunting accident endangers his life, help comes from an unexpected source. Dare he hope for a family of his own or will another woman just disappoint him again?

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Perseverance (Short Stories Series Book 1) by Steve Stroble

Perseverance (Short Stories) (Short Stories Series Book 1)
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Perseverance (Short Stories) (Short Stories Series Book 1) 

Collection of short stories:

  1. What Smells? — Little girl’s fascination with garbage trucks takes her on a wild ride.
  2. Revenge of the Undead — Promoting and marketing self-published books turns out to be harder than it seems for an author and her book’s marketer.
  3. Riding the Bullet — Casual conversation on a high speed train escalates into unexpected consequences.
  4. The Case of the Missing Sophomore — Frantic mother hires P.I. Bobbi Heck to locate her missing daughter.
  5. OFFAL’s Last Stand — Changes intrude on a fraternal organization’s longtime members, threatening their number one source of fun and fellowship.
  6. Why Do You Look So Strange (All of a Sudden) — Life in a nursing home goes from mundane to bizarre for two of its residents.
  7. Porthole in the Fog — Small opening in a dense fog opens up some long repressed memories for a jogger.
  8. EMP Code Blue — The Mother of all solar activity leaves Earth’s nations scrambling for cover.
  9. Battling the Big CA in Sunny CA — Cancer in any form can be deadly, especially when it moves from one’s body to soul.

Perseverance (Short Stories) is book 1 in the Short Stories Series.

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You Will Be Like God (Victory to Dystopia Series Book 3) by Steve Stroble

You Will Be Like God (Victory to Dystopia Series Book 3)
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You Will Be Like God (Victory to Dystopia Series Book 3)

In 2095, becoming and being a parent is complicated but eliminating grandchildren is profitable.

Bud Lee believes he has proof that his boss is plotting to decide Earth’s fate by recruiting surrogate children into a think tank named The Club. Only one other agrees to help him, a ghostwriter more convinced that computers control him, Bud, and everyone else.

Family relationships are anything but pleasant for the unlikely pair because of expectations placed upon them, so exposing a conspiracy, no matter how far-fetched, is welcome relief from the constraints of a micro-managed existence.

Their search for the truth eventually takes them around the world as they trace down the only ones capable of verifying Mr. Lee’s story. Even then, they both feel like a couple of nowhere men going nowhere accomplishing little, if anything.

You Will Be Like God is Book Three of the Victory to Dystopia series.

The series covers the 150 years of American history from 1945, when the United States took on the mantle of the number one world superpower, until 2095, when it has descended into a dystopia controlled by private citizen technocrats and governmental bureaucrats and the computers and drones they use to control a no longer free people.

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Without A Dream (Another Chance Book 2) by Janice Cole Hopkins

Without A Dream

Without A Dream (Another Chance Book 2)

Brandon McAllister has fallen hard for Leslie Baggett and she for him, but Leslie’s mother moved her family from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Dallas, Texas, and keeping in touch becomes hard. According to their agreement, Brandon goes to Dallas for Leslie’s junior prom, but Leslie doesn’t come to his senior one the next year. A confusing, vague letter gives little information. The series of events to come next leaves them both reeling. How do you face a future when all your hopes and dreams have been shattered?

Without A Dream is part 2 of Janice Cole Hopkins’ Another Chance series.

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Off The Streets (Another Chance Book 1) by Janice Cole Hopkins

Off The Streets

Off The Streets (Another Chance Book 1)

When Gwen McAllister is accosted behind the soup kitchen where she volunteers, she wants to repay her homeless rescuer, so she talks him into going to her home for a meal. Despite her son’s and sister’s objections, she trusts Hunter.

Hunter Nash reluctantly goes with Gwen, but he leaves as soon as he can. With the baggage he carries, the widow and her three children don’t need him around. However, circumstances put them together again, and Hunter finds it hard to keep his feelings turned off and remain uncaring. But he’s determined to protect Gwen, even from himself.

Off The Streets is part 1 of Janice Cole Hopkins’ Another Chance series.

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