The Shack

In light of the new movie adaptation of The Shack, I thought I would reblog my review of the book. I have no plans to watch the movie because of how strongly I feel about the bad and misleading theology the book presents. I would consider watching it if someone asked me to give my opinion of it but I highly doubt the movie would make significant enough changes from the book to change my opinion of it. If you choose to watch the movie and/or read the book, I encourage you to do so with caution and with careful consideration and comparison to scripture. Do not let the emotional story cloud your discernment.

Heart Treasures

Here is my “review” of the book, “The Shack.” I wrote this and e-mailed it to all of my friends in August 2008 after reading “The Shack” for my church’s book club. Since the book is still making its rounds in the Christian community and since it came up in conversation in the comments section of another blog; I thought that sharing this would be relevant.

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I recently read a popular book called “The Shack” by William P. (Paul) Young. I am giving you my opinion of this book now because I can find a ton more positive reviews about this book than negative. Especially within the Christian community; most of the reviews/comments I have read give mostly praise and “how this book changed my life” perspectives. Personally, for a book that many people consider as Christian Fiction; I find this book to be mostly unbiblical and very…

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To Be Left-Handed Is Not A Sin

A couple of months ago, a friend on Facebook posted the following meme… to which I felt the need to respond. I said that this meme is Biblically inaccurate. Although right-handedness or the right hand in general is considered a sign of strength (in the Bible and elsewhere), there is not anything in the Bible that says that being left-handed is a sin. ztIJsgw

My friend deleted the meme in response to my comments because he did not want to post something inaccurate. He did message me in private to say that he had heard before that left-handedness was a sin which is why people were punished for using their left hand in the middle ages and even more recently… sometimes by the church. I told him that I would research left-handedness in a Biblical context and get back to him.

The first thing I noticed was that I was not sure at all where the “25 times” in the meme came from. Looking in my New International Version (NIV) Bible Concordance… I can only find 12 times where it actually says “left hand (ed).” There are many more than 25 occasions where it says “right hand (ed).”

As I mentioned above, there is nothing in the Bible that says being left-handed is a sin. The notion is taken from Biblical mentions of the right hand being a sign of strength and power. If you think about it, throughout history when talking about kings and kingdoms, the right hand man, etc. has more power.  Or considering that being right-handedness is a dominant trait, more people will have better strength in their right hand and right arm. When the Bible talks about God’s kingdom or God’s right hand it is to illustrate that power in a way humans would understand based on how kingdoms and power work on earth.

Here are all the instances where the Bible talks about being left handed that I could find. Passages are listed first (NIV) and my commentary in brackets is under each passage.

Genesis 48:13-14 “And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him. But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn.”

[Traditionally when giving a death bed blessing the right hand is placed on the head. By switching hands and putting his right hand on the youngest son, he gave him a bigger blessing. However, they were both blessed AND both of Joseph’s sons became 2 of the 12 tribes of Israel.]

Leviticus 14:15, 26 “The priest shall then take some of the log of oil, pour it in the palm of his own left hand,…” “The priest is to pour some of the oil into the palm of his own left hand,…”

[These are part of instructions to a priestly ritual.]

Judges 3:15 “Again the Israelites cried out to the Lord, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite. The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab.”

[Reading this chapter in context, it tells the story of Ehud, from the tribe of Benjamin, going to give tribute to an evil king. Ehud tells the king he has a secret message and plunges his sword in the king’s belly. The king was so fat that the sword was hidden and Ehud was able to escape before servants found the dead king. Because Ehud was left handed (which was unusual), he had his sword attached to his right side and people would not have noticed it.]

Judges 7:20 “The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”

[Self explanatory]

Judges 16:29 “Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other,”

[Self explanatory]

Judges 20:16 “Among all these soldiers there were seven hundred select troops who were left-handed, each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.”

[The tribe of Benjamin was known for having many left handed people… like Ehud.]

1 Chronicles 6:44 ” and from their associates, the Merarites, at his left hand: Ethan son of Kishi, the son of Abdi, the son of Malluk,”

[This chapter is listing genealogy.]

1 Chronicles 12:2 “they were armed with bows and were able to shoot arrows or to sling stones right-handed or left-handed; they were relatives of Saul from the tribe of Benjamin)”

[Archers and soldiers were often ambidextrous and again these men were from the tribe of Benjamin]

Daniel 12:7 “The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, “It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.”

[A man delivering a message to Daniel in a vision. Both hands are equal in this passage.]

Matthew 6:3 “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,”

[In context, this is talking about not bragging when giving to the needy. We should give in humility not expecting praise from man.]

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Also, I am going to be blunt here… but hopefully not in a way that will be perceived as judgmental because that is not my intent. Ultimately, the meme is an attack on Biblical Christianity for the purpose of justifying the LGBT lifestyles. Not only did it distort the Bible but it mocked it. The Bible is either Truth or it is not. It can’t be both. Many people living or supporting LGBT lifestyles say they are Christians yet completely try to justify their lifestyle by using the Bible. It can’t be done for the following reasons:

*100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
*100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior describe it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.
*0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions of any kind. There are no exceptions for “committed” relationships.

Here is a blog post that I wrote last year after the SCOTUS ruling in favor of gay marriage which expands on my position on this matter: A Conservative Perspective

I completely understand that there are people who do not believe the Bible is God’s word. Ultimately, that is between them and God which is why Christians should be loving and respectful to those who believe differently than we do (whether on this subject or others). We should not have a judgmental attitude towards others however, it is not wrong to respectfully teach what the Bible says in context especially when people distort & mock it to fit their agenda. And it is not wrong to respectfully debate differences of opinion. I have many friends and a few family members who are gay. Most of them know my beliefs on the subject but still know that I still love them as my friends and family.

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Feel free to voice your opinions and engage in respectful debate in the comments. However, any comments that are disrespectful, use inappropriate language, etc. will be deleted.

Risen

This book by Angela Hunt is based on the major motion picture that is currently in theaters. The original story is by Paul Aiello and screenplay by Kevin Reynolds and Paul Aiello. Roman Tribune Clavius is responsible for squelching the zealots in Jerusalem. When the body of the recently crucified Nazarene goes missing, Pilate gives Clavius the task of investigating, tracking down the radical followers, and finding the body. Rachel is a widowed Jewish woman who makes a living baking bread. After the death of her husband, she and Clavius enter a forbidden relationship. If her secret was made known, she would surely be stoned. Clavius searches for the missing body, questions possible followers, and gathers information but the questions out way the answers. When tragedy strikes in a personal manner, Clavius questions the Roman gods that he has spent his life praying to and serving. Will Clavius find the answers that he seeks? Will Rachel be able to truly love a man who is not her husband?

I was transported into this story within the first few pages. The author did an excellent job of making me feel like I was in the midst of Clavius’ investigation and Rachel’s searching. The story is mainly told from Clavius’ perspective which is unique from most post resurrection stories. He searches for the truth based on facts and learns about faith along the way. I really liked the explanations of Isaiah’s prophesies and Jewish Passover and how they relate to the Messiah. The relationship between Clavius and Rachel was outside of marriage but I felt that it was tastefully described. As both Clavius and Rachel search for the truth about Yeshua, their relationship resolves in an unexpected way that allows Rachel to show Clavius the love of Christ. This is a historical fiction so some liberties are taken with the story line. The author explains that Clavius and Rachel are fiction characters and would not have been present during some of the scenes she portrayed them in. There are other liberties that she explains at the end of the book. I did not find these liberties to be a deterrent and I felt that the gospel was explained well with an emphasis on God’s love. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes biblical historical fiction.

It is important to note that the author states at the end of the book that although Rachel’s character was created by Paul Aiello, her character did not make the cut for the movie. I am looking forward to seeing the movie, but I am glad to have read the book first so that I know Rachel’s side of the story. I have heard really good things about the movie and based on this book, I am sure that I will not be disappointed. Due to the Roman soldier violence in the movie, Plugged In review suggests that it is not suitable for younger children. You can read their detailed movie review HERE.

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that Bethany House provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

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REMINDER: I am an affiliate with Christian Book Distributors! Anytime someone clicks on any of my affiliate links and purchases from CBD, I get credit for their purchase! This is a great benefit for me because it will help compensate me for my time when I do book reviews for the publishers that I review for! CBD has been my go to website for the past 13 years when I want to purchase Christian books, resources, gifts, music, etc. for great prices!

I have consistently posted links to CBD whenever I do book reviews or mention books, music, movies, etc.  Along with the direct links to the books and other products that I mention, I will also be placing a CBD graphic for you to click on which will send you to the CBD home page.

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The browsing session will remain active for four (4) hours after the last link is clicked on the Christianbook.com website. If the customer leaves the Christianbook.com website and returns within this four (4) hour period their browsing session will be reset and the customer will still be deemed a referral of Affiliate unless they returned through the links of another Affiliate, co- branded site or other source tracked by The Christianbook Group.

All items placed into the customer’s shopping cart during an active affiliate browsing session will be credited to Affiliate if items are purchased before the expiration of thirty (30) days from the date an item was placed in the shopping cart.

However, if they leave the site for more than 4 hours, do not click on the Christianbook.com site to reactivate the clock, do not order books placed within an active browsing session within their book bag and order within the 30 day limit or leave the site and place the order from another computer, then any order placed will not be credited to your account.”

A Conservative Perspective…

Besides a few comments and minor debates on the recent SCOTUS decision; I have been pretty quiet so far. This is not because I do not have anything to say or because I am silently waving a white flag of surrender to the issue. It is because I wanted to wait for some of the immediate backlash and celebration to calm down a bit and also to prayerfully consider what I want to say before I put it out for the public to see.

It is no secret that I am conservative when it comes to religion and politics. So in this post, I want to share my thoughts from both my religious and political perspective. I feel that they go hand in hand but I know that there are some who are conservative politically but are not religious and who are religious but are not conservative politically.

I also am aware that there are extremists on both sides of the issue. The media is quick to paint the picture that all Christians are like the extremists. There are people who claim to be Christians who are hateful (bully, shame, kill) towards homosexuals, different races, people who perform and have abortions, etc. Extremists are the minority and do not reflect how most Christians behave and/or believe.

I have Christian friends and family on both sides of the issue. I have friends and family who live the homosexual lifestyle. I love them all whether we agree or disagree on this issue or others.

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Here are my thoughts from a political perspective…

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  • This ruling is more about government control than marriage equality. The constitution was written to limit government control of the people. Through this ruling, the federal government has gained more control.
    • The four dissenting judges were trying to prevent government control and protect religious freedom. Top 10 Quotes from Dissenting Judges…
    • By making this a federal issue, the state’s power was undermined. This could have big consequences on many issues.
  • People consistently call for separation of church and state and the 1st Amendment as an argument for why government should pass equal rights to marriage. However, this is not an accurate portrayal of the 1st amendment and the concept of separation of church and state. 
    • The first amendment does not say anything about separation of church and state (nor does any other part of the Constitution). It is about freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom to peaceably assemble.
    • Separation of church and state comes from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson which underscored the 1st amendment as condemning the government interfering with people’s religious practices. This ruling has the potential to undermine religious freedom.
    • People keep shouting “separation of church and state” (out of context) but it seems to only be one-sided. The government should uphold the 1st amendment as it was intended to be upheld.
  • Thomas Jefferson said “The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.”
    • The first amendment has nothing to do with marriage. However, if someone has beliefs that are based in religion (such as that marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman—which is believed by at least 3 major religions practiced in the USA: Christianity, Islam, & Judaism) the government cannot force them to violate their beliefs.
    • Yet, businesses have already been forced to provide services for ceremonies that they are religiously opposed to (or pay the consequences of losing their businesses). This could also lead to pastors/churches to perform ceremonies that they are religiously opposed to.
    • The same people who call for tolerance for their lifestyle, often do not extend the same tolerance of people who disagree.
  • As an American, no matter what side of the issue someone is on, no one has the right to desecrate the American flag in order to advance their agenda.
    • This is not ok at all… 10952936_10204440554041403_7788178039280691965_n
    • Flag Code 176. Respect for flag (g) states: “The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.” US Flag Code
  • The media is biased. I believe that the media has a huge part in the division of our country. Not only with this issue but many others. 
    • Unfortunately, people take media as fact and do not research for themselves the agendas behind the media reports.
    • They try to erase history to advance agenda, they condemn one group of people while other groups of similar thought & actions go free, they push stories of extremists and paint them as the normal, they try to pass opinion as fact, and the list goes on and on and on.
  • As Americans, we have the right to vote people into office to represent what we believe politically. It does not matter which party we are a part of. We have the responsibility to make our voices heard through the election process. 
    • We should be celebrating that people have the freedom to voice their opinions. There are many countries who do not have this freedom.
    • We should voice our opinions through respectful conversation. We should not be encouraging or acting out hatred (bullying, shaming, and killing) to get our point across.

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Here are some of my thoughts on the issue from a religious perspective…

(based on believing my Bible is the Word of God and is the Holy Scripture that guides my Christian beliefs)…

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  • I believe that marriage was designed by God to be the union of one man and one woman as a reflection of the relationship of Christ and His bride, the church.
    • 100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
    • “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24
    • “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:21-33
    • “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” Revelation 19:7-8
    • I do not feel that my marriage is worthless or invalidated because same-sex “marriages” are legal.
  • I believe that the homosexual lifestyle is a sin in God’s eyes.
    • 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior describe it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.
    • 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions of any kind. There are no exceptions for “committed” relationships.
    • “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” Romans 1:26-27
    • “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men” 1 Corinthians 6:9
  • I believe that homosexuality is no greater than any other sin. Sin is sin. Sexual sins are consistently listed with other types of sin (sins of thoughts, emotions, and actions). Including the sin that I struggle with on a regular basis (acting out in anger). 
    • “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” Romans 1:29-32
    • “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21
    • If people were trying to make adultery, polygamy, and other forms of sexual sin legal there would be just as much of an opposition from conservatives.
    • Christians who do not show love toward those they disagree with are also sinning.
    • EDIT: I posted the following on my Facebook page a couple of days ago: With all the talk about gay marriage, I think that it is important for Christians to remember that divorce and sex outside of marriage are also sin according to the Bible. Heterosexuals have done a good job of destroying the perfect plan for marriage long before homosexuals pushed the marriage agenda. Christians get divorced at similar rates to non-Christians and I know many Christians who have had sex outside of marriage (either before or during marriage). Jesus said that if a man looks at a woman lustfully he has already committed adultery in his heart (the same is true for women looking at men and for those living homosexual lifestyle). We all are capable of giving into temptation and sinning. The good news is that Jesus became sin so that we could be washed clean if we accept His gift of salvation.
  • The Gay-Pride rainbow flag is a mockery of God.
    • God passed judgement, through a worldwide flood, on the people of the world for their sin (homosexuality among others). The rainbow is a covenant from God to mankind. He gives mankind his Word that he will never again flood the entire earth.
      • “Therefore when we see thousands of homosexuals marching in the streets with the Rainbow as their flag — they are essentially implying that they are proud of their sexual immorality whether God likes it or not — while simultaneously reminding God of the contract that he made with humanity never to flood the earth again.” (see here for more detailed opinion on this topic)
    • I am sure that there are many people who support the Gay-Pride flag, who do not know the correlation to the God of the Bible (or do not care). That does not make it any less true.
    • I still love rainbows… just for different reasons!
  • As a Christian, I believe that I am called to love my neighbors even when we disagree. I believe that Jesus loves me and forgives me even though I sin. I believe that Jesus loves people who live the homosexual lifestyle and forgives people who turn away from the lifestyle. Jesus is a friend of sinners. He ate with them, He talked with them, He showed them the truth, and He died for them.  
    • I have no problem with eating with, talking with, and inviting a homosexual into my home or church.
    • I recently had (in my opinion) an awesome conversation with a family member who lives the homosexual lifestyle. We talked about all sorts of topics as we caught up on each other’s lives after not seeing each other for many years. She is still my family. I still love her. I am pretty sure she feels the same about me.
  • Christians (or anyone) do not have to agree with a lifestyle or other opinions in order to respect and love a person. In the same way, homosexuals (or anyone) do not have to agree with how I live my life in order to respect and love me. It goes both ways with many different issues in life.

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  • I do not expect everyone to agree with me or my religion. I do not force anyone to agree with me or my religion. While I hope that people around the world will come to know Jesus as their Savior, I know that many people will not. I am responsible for sharing the gospel with people. I am not responsible for whether or not they accept it as truth.
  • Christianity is not the only religion that believes that homosexuality is immoral. Judaism and Islamic religions (and possibly others) also believe this.

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Here is another related post I wrote a few years ago:

About Boycotting…

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America is made up of diverse people, cultures, religions, beliefs, etc. We do not agree on everything but we can still show respect for those who are different from us. We do not have the same religions but we can still love each other as people. We are not better than each other. This is part of what makes America great!

Feel free to voice your opinions and engage in respectful debate in the comments. However, any comments that are disrespectful, use inappropriate language, etc. will be deleted.

Liar, Lunatic, or LORD

As we enter the Easter season, we reflect on the greatest sacrifice ever made since the beginning of time! Jesus came to us; both God and human. He lived a sinless life, showed us by example how to love and minster to others, became our sin as he died on the cross, and conquered the grave when he was resurrected. Unfortunately, there are many who still have not experienced the life-changing gift of salvation that God has offered. Most people recognize that Jesus lived as a teacher and prophet but many deny that Jesus is God. One of my favorite authors is C. S. Lewis. In his book, Mere Christianity, he states the following:

41w67GRujWL“I am trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him; ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic… or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

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May we remember who Jesus truly is! May we honor Him as Lord and Savior of our lives! May the Fruit of the Spirit grow and thrive in us so that the world will see Jesus in everything we say and do! Jesus is Alive!

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ANNOUNCEMENT:

I am now an affiliate with Christian Book Distributors! Anytime someone clicks on any of my affiliate links and purchases from CBD, I get credit for their purchase! This is a great benefit for me because it will help compensate me for my time when I do book reviews for the 4 publishers that I review for! CBD has been my go to website for the past 12 years when I want to purchase Christian books, resources, gifts, music, etc. for great prices!

I have consistently posted links to CBD whenever I do book reviews or mention books, music, movies, etc. I am currently in the process of replacing all of the old links with new ones attached to my affiliate information. Along with the direct links to the books and other products that I mention, I will also be placing a CBD graphic for you to click on which will send you to the CBD home page.

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“When a customer clicks to Christianbook.com via an affiliate link, the browsing session is activated. Each time that the customer clicks on the web site the session is reactivated. The Christianbook Group will track merchandise purchases that a customer makes during the browsing session so that we can credit your account appropriately.

The browsing session will remain active for four (4) hours after the last link is clicked on the Christianbook.com website. If the customer leaves the Christianbook.com website and returns within this four (4) hour period their browsing session will be reset and the customer will still be deemed a referral of Affiliate unless they returned through the links of another Affiliate, co- branded site or other source tracked by The Christianbook Group.

All items placed into the customer’s shopping cart during an active affiliate browsing session will be credited to Affiliate if items are purchased before the expiration of thirty (30) days from the date an item was placed in the shopping cart.

However, if they leave the site for more than 4 hours, do not click on the Christianbook.com site to reactivate the clock, do not order books placed within an active browsing session within their book bag and order within the 30 day limit or leave the site and place the order from another computer, then any order placed will not be credited to your account.”