Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Torah Blessing – Revealing the Mystery, Releasing the Miracle by Larry Huch

Tour Date: July 31

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The Torah Blessing – Revealing the Mystery, Releasing the Miracle

Whitaker House (June 4, 2009)


Larry Huch is a nationally prominent ministry leader, conference speaker, and successful author. Together with his wife Tiz he serves as pastor of the multi-cultural, fast-growing New Beginnings Church in Dallas, Texas. He can be seen worldwide on the television program, New Beginnings. Pastor Huch’s previous books include Free at Last, and 10 Curses That Block the Blessing, published by Whitaker House.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 207 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (June 4, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603741186
ISBN-13: 978-1603741187


We hear this Scripture quoted all the time: “The truth shall make you free.” Allow me to let you in on a little secret: it’s not true. I know many of you are shocked right now. You may be thinking, How can Pastor Larry say that? It’s in the Bible. Jesus Himself said it. I’ve heard it taught time and time again: “The truth shall make you free.”

I’m here to tell you, “No, it will not.” Why? It won’t because that’s not what the Bible says. Let’s look at this passage together:

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31–32)

Once again, some of you are now thinking, Don’t you see, Pastor Larry? It’s right there in front of you: “The truth shall make you free.” But is that really what Jesus was saying? Look again at verse 32. Do you see it? Jesus first said, “And you shall know the truth.” This means that you will understand the truth; then, and only then—when you know God’s Word and you understand God’s Word—will that truth “make you free.” Once we understand God’s concepts, they have the power to set us free. If we remain ignorant of what the Bible says, it remains the truth, but that truth won’t do us much good until we understand it. Let me give you some examples.

Before I met Jesus, I was a drug dealer and an addict. The truth was that Jesus came two thousand years ago to forgive me, change me, and love me, but the miracle-working power of that truth did me no good until somebody told me about it so I could fully understand it. The truths that Jesus died on the cross, that He rose again on the third day, that He was the Lamb of God who took away my sins, and that He came to set the captives free were real, but they did not set me free until I knew them. Once I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and began to understand those truths, the Word of God jumped off the pages of the Bible and changed from logos (the Greek word for written words on a page) to rhema (the Greek word for God’s Word, alive and working in my spirit). Just as Jesus was the Word of God become flesh, rhema is the truth of God’s Word made alive for you and me. So many promises of God never come alive for us, His children, because we don’t fully know and understand them.

Water Closets and Hogs

Unfortunately, one of the main reasons people fail to understand truth has to do with the many differences and complexities of language. Years ago, Tiz and I moved to Australia to pastor our second church. Soon after moving there, we were visiting a pastor’s home, and before we sat down to eat, I asked him, “May I use your bathroom?” He pointed down the hall and said, “Second door on the right.” I followed his directions, and, sure enough, there was a sink, a tub, and a shower, but, unfortunately for me, not the item I really needed to use. After a few minutes of frustration, I came out with embarrassment and admitted, “I’m sorry, but I can’t find it.”

He asked, “What are you looking for?”

I shared my biological need with him, and he said, “Oh, you’re not looking for the bathroom; you’re looking for the water closet!”

On that day, I learned an important lesson: in Australia, the “water closet” is the toilet and the “bathroom” is literally the room in which you take a bath. Once I understood that truth, it became very useful to me.

Here’s another example. Let’s say I hand you my wallet and ask, “Would you mind putting this wallet in my boot?” How would you interpret that? If you were from Texas, you’d probably put my wallet into my Tony Llama cowboy footwear. On the other hand, if you were from South Africa, you would most likely toss it into the trunk of my car. The same word is used—even the same spelling—but two totally different meanings are inferred.

You don’t have to be from the other side of the globe to find this kind of confusion. If somebody told you, “Pastor Larry was seen riding a thousand-pound hog,” what would that mean to you? If you were from Arkansas—the Razorback State—you might picture me saddled on the back of a very large animal with a snout. If, however, you were from south St. Louis, like I am, you would probably picture me riding around on a thousand-pound Harley Davidson motorcycle—which would be the truth. Again, the same word is used, but the interpretation is different depending on your upbringing, experience, and culture—and this is for people who live in the same time period! Imagine the difficulties that occur when you introduce different languages, cultures, and a two-thousand-year or more separation of time.

To glean all of God’s truth from Scripture, we need to learn to read the Bible not merely from a twenty-first century American or European perspective but also from the perspective of the times and cultures in which it was written—particularly, the Jewish world of first-century Jerusalem and surrounding Israel. Those who wrote the Bible may have spoken Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and Aramaic, but, for the most part, they thought and reasoned with Jewish mind-sets.

No Longer Gentiles, No Longer Strangers

Let us begin by focusing on an important passage of Scripture. Even though it was written more than two thousand years ago, I believe it remains a prophetic word for us today.

Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh; who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands; that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
(Ephesians 2:11–22)

I know that this is a long passage of Scripture, but let’s take a moment to break down these powerful words.

Paul said we were “once Gentiles.” This is very important. If you are not of Jewish blood but have asked Jesus Christ to come into your heart and forgive you of your sins, you were once a Gentile, but not anymore! Gentile in Greek is the word ethnos, defined by Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance as “foreign nations not worshipping the true God, pagans.” In addition to the word Gentile, the Bible also uses words such as foreigners, strangers, and nations—all referring to those who do not worship the one true God, the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the God who sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for our sins in full so that we could go boldly before Him.

Look at what it says later in this passage: “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (verse 19). Paul was referring to us. We were once strangers, but now we are fellow citizens with the saints—the church—and members of the household of God with Israel.

Redeemed and Reconnected

As a Christian, you have probably heard time and time again that you have been “redeemed by the blood of Jesus.” When we become believers, we are restored as children of the covenant promises of God through the shed blood of Jesus. Here are just a couple of examples from Scripture:

Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ. (1 Peter 1:18–19)

You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation. (Revelation 5:9)

Ephesians 2 makes it clear that without Jesus, we were aliens, strangers, and foreigners—disconnected from God. Now, thanks to our redemption, God has reconnected us to two very important things.

1. We Have Been Adopted into a New Family

First, we are now part of the family of Israel. The apostle Paul had a unique way of explaining this for a first-century audience who was familiar with growing things from the earth:

If some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. (Romans 11:17–18, emphasis added)

This is such an important passage for our study that we will be returning to it several more times. For now, however, I want you to see that you and I—non-Jewish Christians—have been “grafted in” to the tree. The branches of that tree are Israel. According to Scripture, we have been adopted—grafted—into the family of Israel by the life and blood of Jesus Christ. Our faith, therefore, is not isolated; it does not exist independently, and it is not to be treated as a “spin-off” religion. We are not spiritual orphans. We belong to a living, spiritual “family tree” that is supported by a common root—Jesus Christ, the Messiah. “Remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.” The Bible makes this clear in both the Old and New Testaments:

In that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious. (Isaiah 11:10)

I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star. (Revelation 22:16)

2. We Are Legal Heirs of Abraham’s Covenant

Second, now that we have been adopted into the family, we are also connected to the promise God made to His children—His covenant promise.

Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. (Galatians 3:7–9)

Like any child who is adopted into a family, we now have equal rights as legal heirs within that family. In this case, our adoption is all thanks to the shed blood of Jesus. We are now children of the covenant. What covenant? God’s covenant with Abraham, who at the time was known as Abram:

Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1–3)

With that, Abram became the first Hebrew. Notice I didn’t say Israelite, because at this time, obviously, there was no land of Israel. You might say he became the first Jewish person on the face of the earth. How did this come about?

According to Jewish tradition, Abram grew up working in his father’s shop, which sold idols, although he always questioned his father’s beliefs. One day, according to the teaching, young Abram smashed all the idols with a hammer while his father was away and then placed the hammer by one spared idol. When his father returned, Abram blamed the crime on that idol. His father grew upset and claimed that the story was impossible since these idols had no life or power. Abram agreed and asked, “Then why do you worship them?” The teaching suggests that Abram believed the universe to be the work of a single creator and began to share this with others. Of course, this account is from the Jewish Midrash—oral Torah teachings—and not our Scriptures, but the Old Testament does agree that Abram’s family worshipped idols. (See Joshua 24:2.)

However it happened, young Abram’s faith in one true God was the seed that would become Israel—the children of God. Later, God would say to the nation of Israel,

Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him. (Isaiah 51:1–2)

Now, some of you may be thinking, But Pastor Larry, when God said, “Look to Abraham your father,” wasn’t He talking to Israel and not to us?

It’s true that He was addressing Israel, but it is also true that you and I have been “grafted in.” Let me ask you a question: Are you Christ’s? If your answer is yes, then God says that you are Abraham’s seed. It doesn’t matter if you were born in Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, North America, South America, or Antarctica—if you are a non-Jewish Christian, you were once a Gentile, but now that you’ve been born again, you are no longer a stranger but the seed of Abraham and an heir, according to the promise.

The Olive Tree

In Romans 11, the apostle Paul compares Israel to an olive tree. Now that we understand that the tree we’ve been grafted into is Israel, let’s look at some biblical and historical features of the olive tree. Throughout this book, I will be referring to the fact that everything God teaches us has both a physical side and a spiritual side, an earthly side and a heavenly side. When we look at the features of a physical olive tree, we can see the same blessings on the spiritual olive tree, Israel.

Olive trees outlive most other fruit trees. Likewise, Israel and the Jewish people have outlived all the empires that have enslaved them or tried to destroy them, including the Persian empire, the Babylonian empire, the Ottoman empire, and the Roman empire. They even outlived the Nazi government, the “Thousand Year Reich,” that attempted to annihilate them.

“No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 54:17)

The roots of an olive tree are strong and are able to live in all soils. Likewise, throughout history, even though the Jewish people have been scattered about the world among different races and cultures, Judaism has survived and remained intact.

Thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.” (Isaiah 43:1–2)

Even in very old olive trees, shoots are able to spring up and reproduce. Despite persecution and dispersement, Judaism has grown and the population of Israel has increased.

Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table. (Psalm 128:3)

Even today, olive oil remains a major source of wealth. Likewise, God has continually blessed Israel with provision whenever its people have needed it.

Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper.…And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
(Deuteronomy 8:6–9, 18)

Olive oil is used as both fuel and food. Likewise, throughout history, Judaism has both sustained and provided for its people.

As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. (John 6:57)

Olive oil is used for anointing and healing. The calling of God to His people is the same: be set apart as a blessing to others.

You shall make from these a holy anointing oil, an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer. It shall be a holy anointing oil….And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: “This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generations.”
(Exodus 30:25, 31)

So [the apostles] went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them. (Mark 6:12–13)

It quickly becomes obvious—and exciting—why it is such a blessing to be grafted into the promises and covenant of Israel—God’s olive tree. Remember what God says, throughout the Bible, about Israel and the Jewish people:

1.) They are the apple of God’s eye—always have been, always will be.

Thus says the Lord of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.” (Zechariah 2:8)

2.) They are a people chosen to be a blessing to the rest of the world.

The Jewish people, and their Promised Land of Israel, were chosen to connect the rest of the world to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God said,

I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (Genesis 12:2–3)

The nation of Israel was to be the connection to Jesus, both in His first coming and in His second coming. Let us read what Jesus said in the book of Matthew:

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:13–14)

If you’ve been in an average church for any period of time, you have probably heard these verses read and used in sermons. In most cases, they are used as an encouragement for Christians to be a light in their world. In its historical context, however, when Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13) and when He said, “You are the light of the world” (verse 14), He was not speaking to Christians. Whom, then, was Jesus reminding to be salt, preserving this earth from rotting away? Whom was He reminding to be a light that would lead people out of darkness?

It’s simple: He was speaking to a Jewish audience—the apple of God’s eye. There were no Christians at that time. Jesus had not yet died on the cross; He had not yet risen from the grave; He had not yet built His church. At that point in history, there simply was no us. Through Jesus Christ, of course, we now have been grafted into the olive tree and connected to the root—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Thus, we are now included in this family mission to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth.

Now that we know our heritage—our spiritual family tree—we can begin to focus on what this means for our lives and our faith, and we can learn how our blended, sometimes dysfunctional family is supposed to live together.

It’s simple. We need to build the right kind of house.

Maggie Rose – 2nd in the Daughters of Jacob Kane series by Sharlene MacLaren

Tour Date: July 30

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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Maggie Rose – 2nd in the Daughters of Jacob Kane series

Whitaker House (June 8, 2009)


Born and raised in west Michigan, Sharlene MacLaren graduated from Spring Arbor University, married her husband Cecil, and raised two daughters. She worked as a school teacher for over 30 years, then upon retirement began writing fiction, and now has six successful novels under her belt. The acclaimed Through Every Storm was Shar’s first novel to be published by Whitaker House; in 2007, the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) named it a finalist for Book of the Year. The beloved Little Hickman Creek series consisted of Loving Liza Jane; Sarah, My Beloved; and Courting Emma. Faith, Hope, and Love, the Inspirational Outreach Chapter of Romance Writers of America, announced Sarah, My Beloved as a finalist in its 2008 Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest in the category of long historical fiction. Her other books include Long Journey Home, and Hannah Grace, the first in her Daughters of Jacob Kane series.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 429 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (June 8, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603740759
ISBN-13: 978-1603740753


Maggie Rose Kane settled her temple against the smudged window, blinked hard, and fought back another wave of nausea as the smoke from her seatmate’s cigar formed cloud-like ringlets before her eyes and floated past her nose. Why, her lungs fairly burned from the stench of it, as if she’d been the one chain-smoking the stogies for the past five hours instead of the bulbous, gray-haired giant next to her. Even as he was dozing this afternoon, slumped with one shoulder sagging against her petite frame, the vile object hung out the side of his mouth as if permanently attached. She couldn’t even count the number of times she’d wanted to snatch it from him and snuff it out with the sole of her black patent leather shoe.

“Next stop, Albany,” announced the train conductor, making his way up the aisle.

With a quick intake of air, Maggie lifted a finger and leaned forward. “Excuse me, sir.”

The conductor stopped, turned, and tipped his hat to her in a formal manner. “Yes?”

“Is this where I should disembark in order to change over to the New York Central?”

Tilting his head to one side and slanting a reddish eyebrow, he released a mild sigh that conveyed slight annoyance. “If that’s what your ticket says. You’re goin’ to New York, aren’t you?”

She gave a hasty shake of her head and adjusted the plume hat that had barely moved in all these many hours. Surely, by now, the slight wave in her hair, as well as the tight little bun at the back of her head, would be flatter than a well-done pancake. “Someone’s to meet me at Grand Central,” she explained.

He nodded curtly. “Get off here then and go to the red line, then put yourself on the 442.” This he said with a matter-of-fact tone, as if anyone with a scrap of common sense ought to know about the 442.

Sweaty fingers clutched the satchel in her lap as she peered up at him, debating whether or not to admit her ignorance. “Oh, the 442.” She might have asked him at least to point her in the right direction once she disembarked, but he hurried down the aisle and pushed through the back door that led to the next car before giving her a chance. The train whistle blew another ear-splitting shriek, either indicating that the train was approaching an intersection or announcing its scheduled stopover in Albany.

“What’s a pretty little miss like you doin’ going to the big city all by yourself?” asked the man beside her. Not wanting to invite conversation with the galoot, especially for all the smoke he’d blow in her face, she had maintained silence for the duration of the trip. Still, it was her Christian duty to show him respect, so she pulled back her slender shoulders and tried to appear pleasant—and confident. After all, it wouldn’t do to let on how the combination of her taut nerves and his rancid cigar smoke had stirred up bile at the back of her throat. For the twentieth time since her departure on the five a.m. that very morning—when her entire family, including her new brother-in-law and adopted nephew, had bid her a tearful farewell—she asked herself, and the Lord Himself, if she hadn’t misinterpreted His divine call.

“I’ve accepted a position at the Sheltering Arms Refuge,” she replied with a steady voice. “I’m to assist in the home, and also to work as a placing-out agent whenever trips are arranged.”

He quirked a questioning brow and blew a cloud of smoke directly at her. She waved her arm to ward off the worst of it. “It’s a charitable organization for homeless children. Using the U.S. railway system, we stop in various parts of the Middle West and place children in decent families and homes, mostly farms. Surely you’ve heard announcements about trains of orphans coming through?”

He looked slightly put out. “’Course I heard of ’em, miss, just haven’t never run across anyone actually involved in the process of cartin’ them wild little hooligans clear across the country.” He took another long drag and, fortunate for Maggie Rose, blew it out the other side of his mouth so that, this time, it drifted into the face of the man across the aisle. Apparently unruffled, he merely lifted his newspaper higher to shield his face.

“Where you from, anyways?”

“Sandy Shores, Michigan.” Just saying the name of the blessed lakeshore town made her miss her home and family more than she’d imagined possible. Goodness, she’d left only this morning. If she was feeling homesick already, what depths of loneliness would the next several months bring?

“Ah, that near Benton Harbor?”

“Quite a ways north of it, sir.”

He seemed to ponder that thought only briefly. “What made you leave? You got home problems?”

“Certainly not!” she replied with extra fervor, offended he should think so. In fact, she might have chosen to stay behind and continued life as usual, helping her dear father and beloved sisters at Kane’s Whatnot, the family’s general store. But God’s poignant tug on her heart would not allow her to stay. I sincerely doubt Mr.—Mr. Smokestack—would follow such reasoning, though, so why waste my breath explaining? she thought.

“Well, you can see why I asked, cain’t you? It’s not every day some young thing like yourself up and moves to a big place like New York, specially when she don’t even know her way around.”

“I’m sure I’ll learn quickly enough,” she said, trying to put confidence in her tone. “I hear there’s to be a big subway system opening soon, which should help in moving folks around the city at great speeds.”

He nodded and took another long drag from his dwindling cheroot. “Sometime in the next month or two, is what I hear,” he said, blowing out a ring of smoke. “That’ll be somethin’, all right. Before you know it, there’ll be no need for any four-legged creatures.” He chuckled to himself, although the sound held no mirth.

As they approached the station, the train’s brakes squawked and sputtered, and the mighty whistle blew one last time. Outside, steam was rising from the tracks, and Maggie Rose noticed a couple of scrawny dogs picking through a pile of garbage. Folks stood in clusters, perhaps anxious to welcome home loved ones or to usher in long-awaited guests. A tiny pang of worry nestled in her chest at the sight of such unfamiliar surroundings.

When the train came to a screeching halt, the passengers scrambled for their belongings, holding onto their hats as they snatched up satchels and crates bound in twine. Some of them were dressed formally; others looked shoddy, at best, like her seatmate with his week-old beard and soiled attire. Another puff of smoke circled the air above her, and it was all she could do to keep from giving him a piece of her mind—until the Lord reminded her of a verse she’d read the night before in the book of Proverbs: “He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor” (Proverbs 14:31).

Was she not traveling to New York out of a sense of great compassion for the city’s poor, lost children? And if so, what made her think the Lord exempted her from caring for people of all ages? Moreover, why had she spent the better share of the past several hours judging this man about whom she knew so little?

My child, you are tempted to look on his countenance and stature, whereas I look on the heart. The verse from 1 Samuel came to mind—oh, how the truth of it struck her to the core. Without ado, she looked directly at her seatmate, smoke and all. “And where might you be headed, sir?”

“Me?” A look of surprise washed over him. “My sister just passed. I’m goin’ to her funeral in Philly.”

A gasp escaped. “Oh, my, I’m…I’m sorry to hear that.” Silently, she prayed, Lord, give me the proper words, and forgive me all these many hours I might have had the chance to speak comfort to this poor soul.

He dropped what remained of his cigar on the floor and ground it out with his heel, stood to his feet, and retrieved his duffle from under the seat with a loud sniff. “Yeah, well, we weren’t that close. She quit speakin’ to me after I married my wife, her bein’ a Protestant and us Catholics.” He followed that up with a snort. “My brother died last year, and she still refused to acknowledge me at his funeral, even though my wife passed on three years ago.”

Blended odors of sweat, tobacco, and acrid breath nearly knocked her over as she stood up and hefted the strap of her heavy leather satchel over one shoulder, but newfound compassion welled up in her heart, lending her fortitude. The line of people in the aisle was moving at a snail’s pace, and she decided to make use of their extra seconds together.

“But you’re going to her funeral anyway?”

He nodded halfheartedly. “It’s my duty to pay my respects. She won’t know it, but I will.”

“Yes, and you’ll feel better afterward for doing so.” Suddenly, she had more to say to the man, but the line of anxious passengers was picking up speed, and he squeezed into the tight line. She followed in his wake, doing her best to keep her footing as folks shoved and jabbed. My, such an impetuous, peevish lot, she thought, then quickly acknowledged her own impatience.

“Watch your step, ladies and gentlemen,” the conductor said. One by one, folks stepped down from the train. Her fellow rider took the stairs with ease, then turned abruptly and offered her his hand. Another time, she might have pretended not to notice and used the steel hand railing instead. Now, however, she smiled and accepted his grimy, calloused palm.

“Thank you.”

Drooping eyes looked down at her. “New York, eh? You sure you don’t want to purchase your ticket back home? Ticket booth’s right over there.” He hooked a thumb over his shoulder, and for the first time, she sensed that he was toying with her.

“Absolutely not!” Pulling back her shoulders, she gave her head a hard shake, losing a feather from her hat in the process. She watched it float away, carried by the breeze of passengers rushing by. “When the Lord tells a body to do something, you best do it, if you want to know true peace,” she said, lifting her eyes to meet his. “This is something He told me to do—to come to New York and see what I can do about helping the deprived, dispossessed children, just as I’m sure He prompted you to attend your sister’s funeral.”

Surprisingly, he chuckled and bobbed his head a couple of times. “Can’t say for sure it was the Good Lord Hisself or Father Carlson, but one of ’em convinced me to come, and now that I think on it, I’m glad.”

Out the corner of her eye, Maggie Rose sought to read the myriad signs pointing this way and that, hoping to find one to point her in the right direction. Slight queasiness churned in her stomach. Dear Lord, please erase my worries about finding my next train, she prayed silently. The man ran four grimy fingers through his greasy hair. Absently, she wondered if he intended to clean himself up before attending his sister’s burial service.

“You take care of yourself, little lady. It’s a mighty big world out there for one so fine and dainty as you.”

A smile formed on her lips. Fine and dainty. Had he made a similar remark to one of her sisters, Hannah Grace or Abbie Ann, an indignant look would have been his return. She extended her hand. “I’ll do my best, Mr.….”

He clasped her hand and gave it a gentle shake. “Dempsey. Mort Dempsey. And you are?”

“Maggie Rose Kane.”

He gave a thoughtful nod. “Has a nice ring to it.” Then, tipping his head to one side, he scratched his temple and raised his bushy brows. “At first glimpse, you look a bit fragile, but I’d guess you got some spunk under that feathery hat o’ yours.”

Now she laughed outright. “I suppose that’s the Kane blood running through me.

We Kane sisters are known for our stubborn streak. It runs clear to our bones.”

Several seconds ticked by. Mr. Dempsey glanced around. “You got any more baggage, miss?”

“My trunk’s due to arrive at the children’s home the day after tomorrow.” She gave her black satchel a pat. “I’ll make do with what I have till then.”

In the next silent pause that passed between them, a pigeon swept down to steal a crumb, a stray dog loped past, and in the distance, a mother hushed her crying babe. Mr. Dempsey removed his pocket watch. “Well, listen, little lady, my train for Philly don’t leave for another hour yet. What say I take you over to the red line? Number 442, was it?”

“Oh, but you needn’t….”

He’d already looped his arm for her to take. The man’s stench remained strong, yes, but Maggie Rose found that, somehow, in the course of the past few minutes, her nose had miraculously adjusted.

My, but the Lord did work in wondrously mysterious ways! Why, just this very morning, Jacob Kane, her dear father, had prayed that God might send His angels of protection to lead and guide her on her way, and now look: Mort Dempsey was taking her to her next connection.

Imagine that—Mort Dempsey, God’s appointed “angel.”

They parted ways at the Albany platform where she could board Number 442.

When she arrived at New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, Maggie Rose saw a confusing mass of railroad lines converged in a place that also contained more people than she thought inhabited the earth.

Mr. Dempsey may have been an unlikely angel, but her next escort fit the bill with utmost perfection. She scanned the crowd and saw a pleasant-looking man, probably not much older than she, standing to one side and holding up a hand-printed sign that read: “Miss M. Kane.” Dressed in an evening suit, a bowler cap, and a bright-red bow tie that was almost blinding, he was searching the crowd with expectant eyes. When their gazes met, a broad smile formed on his face.

“Miss Kane?” he asked, greeting her with the warmth of a clear summer morning.

“Yes!” She had to tell her feet to walk in ladylike strides, even though her travel-worn body wanted to slump into the nearest bench with relief. They shook hands, and he introduced himself as Stanley Barrett, an employee—but more of a lifelong resident—at the children’s home. The Binghams had welcomed him through their doors many years ago when he’d lost both his parents in a fire.

“You must be tired,” he said, freeing her of her satchel without a moment’s hesitation, which suited her just fine. As it was, her shoulder ached from the weight of the bag, which held important papers, several personal possessions, some toiletry items, and the changes of clothing she would need until her trunk arrived.

Dusk had settled on New York City, so, without ado, Mr. Barrett led her like a pro through the throngs and straight to their carriage, waiting with numerous sets of nearly identical horses and black carriages lined up in long rows outside the terminal. Such efficiency impressed Maggie Rose, and she told him so. “I grew up here, so getting around is easy for me,” he explained, helping her onto the carriage. “You’ll catch on, especially once the subway station opens. But don’t worry; we usually travel in pairs or larger groups, anyway.”

Driving the carriage, he kept up his constant prattle as he dodged fast-moving streetcars, stray dogs, scurrying pedestrians, and the occasional motorcar. Even at this late hour, the city buzzed with activity such as Maggie had never seen. Why, in Sandy Shores, everything closes up tighter than a drum at five-thirty, she thought—that is, everything but the several saloons and restaurants. Here, though, people of all genders, races, sizes, and ages roamed the streets. Some were selling wares, others begging for quarters; some were huddled on street corners, others sitting on crates or boxes, perhaps looking for a place to lay their heads for the night.

“I can imagine what you’re thinking,” Stanley said as he maneuvered the carriage onto Park Avenue, heading north, and clicked his horse into a slow trot. “You’ve probably never seen anything like this place. Mrs. Bingham says you hail from some little town in Michigan. What part?”

“The west side, smack on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan, about halfway up the state. The town is small, yes, but thriving. We have one main street running east and west—Water Street—with lots of little stores and businesses on either side. Don’t be running your horse too fast going west, though, or you’ll fall into the harbor,” she joked. “’Course, the railroad docks and barges would stop you first, I suppose.”

He chuckled, and she decided she liked the smooth tenor of his quiet laughter. “Of all the orphanages in the city, how’d you decide on the Sheltering Arms Refuge?” he asked. “We’re a lot smaller than the Foundling Hospital and the Children’s Aid Society.”

“Someone seeking financial support for your fine organization spoke at our church more than a year ago. I believe his name was Mr. Wiley.”

“That’d be Uncle Herbie—Mrs. Bingham’s brother.”

“He showed us a few pictures and talked a great deal about the destitute children wandering the city—‘street Arabs,’ he called them. Ever since then, the Lord has kept up His constant nudging, so after much correspondence back and forth, not to mention the process of convincing my father to let me loose, I’ve finally arrived!”

Stanley glanced casually in both directions before urging his horse through the intersection at East 50th and Park Streets, crossing streetcar tracks and skirting a good-sized pothole. Their amiable conversation continued, but she had to concentrate to drown out all the commotion going on around her, not to mention the smells—a blend of fried food, gasoline, manure, and rancid garbage. And the sounds! Why, the very streets seemed to reverberate with the clamor of loud conversations, tinny barroom music, thudding horses’ hooves, barking dogs, and the occasional baby’s cry from some upstairs flat.

Stanley Barrett veered the carriage onto East 65th Street, crossed Lexington, 3rd, and 2nd, and made a right on Dover, driving another couple of blocks before directing the horse up a long drive to a stately three-story brick structure. Maggie’s very senses seemed to stand on end. “Is this it?” she asked, feasting her eyes on the edifice, which appeared bigger than what she’d imagined from looking at the few photos she’d received.

Stanley guided his horse to a stop, breathed a sigh, and tossed the reins over the brake handle, turning to her with a smile. She decided he had a pleasant one, tainted only partially by a set of crooked teeth. “This is it. What do you think?”

She gazed at her surroundings—a brick house situated on a sprawling plot of land and surrounded by numerous trees, a stable, and several outbuildings. Who would believe that just blocks from this serene setting lay a whole different world? “I think—it’s beautiful.” Unexpected emotion clogged her throat. She looked up to see a head poke through the curtains of one of the upstairs windows. One of the orphans?

“Beautiful? Well, it’s old, I’ll give you that. Ginny, er, Mrs. Bingham inherited the historic place from her wealthy grandfather back in the 1880s. She and the Mr. have been operating it as an orphanage for the past seventeen or so years. In fact, I was one of their first residents. But I’m sure you’ll get the whole story, if you haven’t already, when you’re more rested.” He winked, gave another low chuckle, and jumped from the rig with ease. “Come on, I’ll help you down.”

With his assistance, her feet soon landed on solid ground. She lifted her long skirts and stepped away from the carriage, eyes fastened on the three-story structure and the aging brick fence that surrounded the property’s borders and was covered by lush blankets of ivy.

Stanley allowed her a moment’s peace as she stood before her new “home” and tried to picture its interior. Suddenly, the front door swung open. In its glow stood a portly woman with an apron tied about her waist; grayish hair hung haphazardly about her oval face, and a smile stretched from cheek to cheek as she lifted her hand to wave.

“Well, glory be, come and look who’s here, Henry. It’s the little miss from Michigan!”