Adam and Seth had died. The earth was filling up. Wicked deeds and sinister plots abounded. The Lord was sad He had made mankind. He would need to start over. Only one man and his family on the entire planet was seeking to live for Him. He would destroy the earth, but save Noah and his family. God gave instructions to Noah and this righteous family built a huge ship. While the men worked on the ark, Noah preached to anyone who would listen. He begged people to turn away from their sin and follow God.
In the midst of an evil world, God had a hero.
Centuries later, in the evil city of Ur where men worshiped demons and lived for pleasure, God called a man out, to follow Him. He wanted to start a nation and through that nation bring a Messiah. Abraham walked with God. He left his family home with his wife and nephew to live in the land his descendants would inhabit.
In a wicked world, one man stood alone to serve his God.
"The dates just swirl around in my head," my daughter complained.
"Well, I don't need you to memorize them. Just know how they fit together--what happened in the same general time period," I comforted her.
When she gave me an exasperated look, I knew we had to get out a timeline, or better yet, make one.
Timelines are wonderful!
Spider Man: Homecoming is in theaters as I write this. In the movie, young Peter Parker returns home to Aunt May in Queens. Peter must balance his "normal" life as a student with learning to use his "Spidy Powers" with Tony Stark, Iron Man, helping him adjust. Music and special effects are said to be top-notch. Everyone's excited to see this movie. (Not me, I confess. I'm not an adventure-movie gal.)
Yes, another Super-Hero movie based on Marvel Comics.
Spider Man was introduced to the world in 1962 through a comic book, the first teenager non-sidekick Super-Hero. Peter Parker, an orphaned teenager who lives with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben in NYC is bitten by a genetically-modified spider. Along with super strength, Peter receives the ability to cling to walls and ceilings. His response: to defend innocent citizens and catch bad guys. Spider Man of the 1960's upholds the law. He has a strong moral compass. The same could be said of Batman, Superman, and the other Super-Heroes that children read about in comics or watched on television.
Fast forward to the 21st Century and we see similarities. Super-Heroes still have amazing powers and they rescue people. Good always triumphed over evil.
There are some differences, though.
I just finished reading a book about the early Christians who risked their lives to follow Jesus. Wow! It was a great story.
I went back in time to the Roman Empire to meet Christians who were living in a pagan culture, yet serving Christ with godly lives. I enjoyed meeting these brothers and sisters in the Lord: the old soldier, the elder of the church, the beautiful young girls, and the "bad guy" who was destined for something better.
I loved their faith and devotion to Jesus and one another.
Arrested because they refused to sacrifice to the Emperor, I was nervous about their fate, but challenged and inspired by their bravery.
You will enjoy Sent to the Lions by A. J. Church about early Christians who paid the price to follow Jesus.
Wow! Eternity in their Hearts by Don Richardson will blow you away!
"This book reveals startling evidence of belief in the One True God in cultures around the world!" says the cover. And it does! It's amazing!
I get so excited when I read this book! I stand amazed at the Holy God who is so filled with love and compassion that He would prepare so many different cultures to recognize and receive the Gospel. God truly wants all men everywhere to hear and respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Isn't Our Heavenly Father wonderful?!
Don Richardson, the author of Peace Child, another amazing book, shares true stories from different places around the the world. In each case, you see God preparing a people to respond to Jesus when the Gospel arrives.
This book is a history of pagan cultures who still have the seed of faith in the One True God. Why is this? Because at the beginning of time, Adam and Eve walked with God in an intimate relationship while they lived in the Garden of Eden. Though they sinned, rejecting life with God, there was still a knowledge that was passed down of the One True God who created the earth and everyone who lives in it. That true knowledge, though marred in time, still exists. And we serve a God who searches for the lost, longing to bring them home to love and know Jesus Christ.
It was Christmas Eve 1956 when Michael Bond purchased a stuffed bear for his wife in a store near Paddington Station.
That impulsive gift would inspire Mr. Bond to write a book, A Bear Called Paddington, that would introduce the world to Paddington Bear, delighting children of all ages and nations.
From deepest, darkest Peru, Paddington travels in a lifeboat across the ocean eating marmalade to stay a live. With a suitcase in his hand and a note on which is written, "Please look after this bear. Thank you." You see his Aunt Lucy grew old and had to move into the Home for retired bears.
This whimsical tale begins with Paddington being found by the Brown family at Paddington Train Station in London, England. And so, the adventure begins.
You will love Paddington's well-meaning, but often misguided attempts to right a wrong (as perceived by Paddington, but usually a misunderstanding). His escapades are hilarious and he is the sweetest, most well-meaning bear ever!
The theme of true love in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice goes beyond the mere fairy tale happily ever after. The author truly believes that people can overcome their moral failings to see others as valuable. In Miss Austen’s time not all people were Christians, but a Christian worldview dominated the culture, giving clear moral guideposts. Though her novel is set in a society with diverse social classes and prescribed ways of living that are quite unlike our culture today, her message is one as old as time. Life comes down to interactions between individuals who make the choice to see one another as valuable because they are created in the image of One True God or to be filled with pride, seeing themselves as superior. The author believes that true love can blossom when moral failings are dealt a death blow.
Jane Austen takes us back in time to Georgian England where life is slower, manners matter, and people know their place in society. Like today, young people are looking for a spouse and parents are eager to be right in the middle of the courting and wooing. In this delightful tale, we meet Elizabeth Bennett and the wealthy Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy views himself superior to Elizabeth and her family, but against his will, he is attracted to her. Elizabeth finds Mr. Darcy smug and prideful.
Rank or birth does not negate a person’s worth. As a pastor’s daughter, Jane Austen places high value on personal accountability for one’s actions, especially how people treat other people. Bad behavior is bad behavior whether it is performed by Elizabeth’s own mother being indiscreet or Mr. Darcy refusing to dance with the ladies who are not attractive enough to arouse his interest. Both display selfishness.
"This book will change your life!" my pastor promised me. I was far from home and struggling with sadness and disappointment. It was a hard season.
I read this little book and my pastor was right! It changed my life! That was not the only time I read Prison to Praise by Merlin Carothers. This is one of those books that I try to reread every year or so. Yes, it's that good!
Prison to Praise shows how an angry young man was changed by the power of God through the Gospel. It is also the story of how one man of God learned to praise God in everything!
Bored with military training at Fort Benning, Georgia while waiting to be sent overseas in World War II, Merlin and some friends walked out of camp, stole a car, and went joy riding. After being captured by the F.B.I., Merlin found himself in military prison. Sentenced to five years in the federal penitentiary, his sentence was suspended so he could serve in World War II. After serving six months in the stockade at Fort Dix, Merlin, a paratrooper, headed to Europe to serve in the 82nd Airborne. Next, he found himself as one of General Eisenhower's guards living in Frankfurt, Germany. Because of his combat record, Merlin received a complete pardon for his earlier illegal escapades, but that didn't stop him from making massive amounts of money in the black market.
Attending church out of duty with his grandparents, Merlin heard God speak to him to make a decision to follow him or it would be too late. He surrendered his heart to Christ and was hungry for prayer, Bible reading, and fellowship. God called him to the ministry and while he worked his way through college and seminary, he preached in local jails.
I will let you learn the rest for yourself. You see, Merlin was on an adventure with the Lord! He was set to learn lessons that would allow him to live each day in unspeakable joy!
Little Lloyd Llama goes on an adventure to discover what kind of animal his friends' mothers are in this delightful picture book by Deborah Gaurino and illustrated by Steven Kellogg.
Little Lloyd Llama questions all his friends about their mothers with rhymes that are fun to say and fun to hear. His friends answer back in rhyme, too.
Though his Mama is a Llama, only one of his friends have a llama for a Mama.
When you read this book aloud to your little ones, they will meet a bat, a swan, a cow, a seal, a kangaroo, and a llama. They will also learn a little bit about each animal.
The first time you read Is Your Mama a Llama, your children will try to guess what animal Lloyd is talking about. The second time you read it, they will remember and squeal with delight when they give you the right answer..
Who can resist rhymes and riddle questions? What a fun combination for children to enjoy!
Lucie, a curious little girl, is searching for her pocket handkerchief, when she comes across a little house high in the hills. Her knock on the door is answered by Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, who invites her in.
Lucie spends the whole day with Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle helping her with washing and ironing. You see, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle does all the washing and ironing for the animals who live nearby.
As the lovely day comes to a close, Lucie realizes that Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle is a hedgehog.
What is more charming: the delightful story or the enchanting illustrations?
Beatrix Potter, the author and illustrator takes us into an imaginary world where animals wear clothing, talk to one another, make mistakes, learn from their mistakes, and having fantastical adventures. It is lovely to spend a day in Beatrix Potter's world meeting hedgehogs, rabbits, squirrels, kittens, ducks, mice, and toads.
I love the way Beatrix Potter spins her stories. You can't help but smile as you read her tales aloud to your children. Your children will love the stories and the accompanying illustrations. In fact, they will want to hear about Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle again and again. Even her name is fun to say.
Jeff, his sister, and their friends head to Nepal to get some footage from the cold mountainous Asian country. After a break-in at their host's apartment, the kids become involved in a dangerous journey along the cold Himalayan trails to rescue a child from being sold into slavery. Yes, that does happen in other nations.
Along the way, the teens share their faith while enduring exhaustion, sickness, injury, bitter cold, and being chased by some scary guys. You will love this adventure!
And if you are studying geography, your children will learn something about Asia in general and Nepal in particular, as well Christianity in Nepal. We loved this book!
Trying to keep up with my children's appetite for books and looking for some historical fiction set in Asia while we were studying geography led me to the Reel Kids Adventure series by Dave Gustaveson, published by YMAM Publishing.
“Go, ahead and make me!”
You homeschool so you can give your children a quality education and avoid the bad influences. But, instead of gentle, loving children, you find yourself living with bickering siblings. Are they really yours?
You go church. You read the Bible every morning. But instead of peace and order, you feel like a referee.
You are not alone. This has been a struggle for Moms since Eve tried to help Cain and Abel get along. Hey, don’t worry, we have the Holy Spirit now.
Take a deep breath and let’s start with the big question: Why do children fight so much with their siblings?
As I was asking myself this question, a passage from James immediately came to my mind.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:1-3 NIV).
What are the most important books to read in your lifetime?
Different folks have different ideas on that. Here are the 100 books I think everyone should read at least once in their lifetime.
So many books; so little time.
The Holy Bible is the only book written by God. Yes, God wrote through men, but He is the Author. The Lord has so much love, truth, and wisdom to reveal to every heart in the world through His Word. In fact, this is the only book you could read for five hours every day of your life and glean new insights each day. God is so good! I love the Bible!
Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan is a timeless classic written in the 1600's by a Puritan preacher who was arrested for his faith. Now, here's what's so cool about this book: John had a dream and wrote the dream down. Pilgrim's Progress is an allegory, a tale within a tale. The surface adventure is full of action with every place, character, and action representing a spiritual truth. In Colonial America and Early America, every household had at least two books: The Holy Bible and Pilgrim's Progress.
Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is a timeless classic written in the Victorian Age and set during the French Revolution. Moving between England and France, this story is the best historical fiction story ever written with a beautiful picture of genuine love as a man gives his life for another. Wow! This book is an exciting story with characters you will love and others you will hate. And of course, it begins with the classic "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe is mentioned in every history book I've ever read, but so few Americans actually read this classic. "Is this the woman who wrote the book that started the Civil War?" Abe Lincoln asked when he met the author. Find out why it is such a powerful book by reading it! You will love Tom. He is an amazing Christian man who returns evil with good. What a great story!
Have you ever been falsely accused? Or more specifically, have you ever been falsely accused of being a liar?
No one has ever so vehemently accused me of lying as one woman did last night.
I witnessed a car accident. It wasn’t a huge crash, just a fender bender. But still, I was a witness. The law obligated me to stay, so I turned around.
As I approached the scene, I saw the drivers of the two cars: a perplexed young lady and a furious older woman.
I made sure both ladies were OK and helped the older woman, who spoke in broken English, explain to the police dispatcher where we were. So far so good, right?
Then came the shock.
The older woman accused me of being a friend of the younger lady. She thought I was lying when I said I saw the collision and came back to give my statement to the police.
“No, you’re weren’t there!” the older lady yelled. “You’re lying! This is none of your business! You’re her friend! She called you and that’s why you’re here! Stop lying or the police will lock you up in jail! Just obey the law!”
All the yelling. All the anger. All the accusations—and none of them were true.
I stared at her blankly for a moment. I thought, Are you serious? Instead, I managed to say, “Ma’am, I’m sorry, but that’s not true. I was behind the car that stopped—”
“Yes it is! You’re a liar, and the police are going to find out when they check her phone! If you lie to the police, you’re going to jail!”
“OK, well, we don’t have to talk about this anymore.” I took a deep breath. “Let’s wait for the police and let them sort this out. It will be OK. I’ll be over there by my car.”
My mind raced. How could she accuse me of lying? I was right there when it happened! And why is she mad anyway? I’m not even going to tell the police that it’s her fault. I’m telling the police exactly what I saw, which would actually implicate the younger lady!
An important purpose of the local church is fellowship and ministry. We often think of church as a place to go to be fed, but church is a place to be equipped to fulfill the Great Commission in whatever way the Lord has called you to serve.
So many friendships have been built in the midst of ministry and spiritual battle. As we serve and impart life to those around us, relationships are built and cemented. It is a beautiful thing.
In addition, when we build friendships with one another, it is easier to work together to extend the Kingdom of God. We want to foster friendships in our local church because lives are changed in the context of relationships. As we spend time together, we see God's principles in action in each others’ lives. More is "caught" than "taught."
With this principle in mind, it is just as important what happens outside official church meetings as it is what happens during those meetings. Here are some ways to to spend time together outside of church services to build relationships.