I love having my children turn an essay into a blog post.
It's such a great assignment! Essays and blogs posts are completely different genres of writing. One is often formal, while the other is casual and personable. Essays are often long, while blog posts are short. Blog posts target a specific audience.
Turning an essay into a blog post because it involves summarizing and focusing on a new audience. When you write an essay, it has a thesis statement that you are proving with examples, illustrations, facts, and subjective feelings. Essays are often lengthy. In contrast, blogs posts are short, straight to the point, without any fluff. When you give students a word limit (I often give them a 500-800 word limit), students are often looking at reducing a paper to a quarter of its length.
Everybody loves a hero! As Christians, we are blessed with a long line of men and women who followed Jesus with all their hearts, making a difference in the world around them!
What a heritage we have!
Apostle Paul, Athanasius, St. Augustine, Pope Gregory, Caedmon, St. Frances, St. Patrick, John Wycliffe, John Huss, William Tyndale, Martin Luther, Lady Jane Grey, John Knox, William Wilberforce, John Newton, Lottie Moon, Amy Carmichael, George Mueller, David Livingstone, Billy Graham, Edith Schaeffer, Jim Eliot, and Brother Andrew come to my mind. They were mighty men and women who changed the world!
From the early Christians who risked their lives to serve Christ to missionaries in the 21st Century who are reaching unreached people groups in the 10/40 Window, there are so many Christian heroes I want my children to learn about. I came up with a really fun idea to teach my children about church history in celebratory way!
We started having Heroes for Jesus Parties. My children loved them! As they got older, they started playing the Christian heroes themselves at the Heroes for Jesus Party.
Would you like to have your own Heroes for Jesus Party?
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.
Edith Schaeffer, a twentieth century heroine for Christ, wrote two of my favorite books: L'Abri and The Hidden Art of Homemaking. I love her style, her love for Jesus, and her wisdom. She was one smart lady. And she devoted her life to husband, children, home, and fulfilling the Great Commission. She is a personal heroine and example to me.
Edith Seville Schaeffer (1914-2013) was born in Wenzhou, China to missionary parents who worked with China Inland Mission. Her Chinese name, given to her by her parents, was Mei Fuh, or “Beautiful Happiness.”
Years later, while Edith was in college, she was attending her Presbyterian Church when a visiting Unitarian pastor gave a sermon against Jesus, the deity of Christ, and the Bible. She was outraged and prepared to set him straight publicly. Before she could speak, another young man stood up and said, “My name is Frances Schaeffer and I Know Jesus is the Son of God.” The young man shared his testimony and gave clear evidence for why the Bible is trustworthy. Edith added more to his statement, defending the faith. The couple got married three years later.
While Frances was in seminary, Edith sewed wedding gowns and men’s suits to bring in extra money. After graduation, Edith pastored alongside her husband for three years. A growing concern for the invading liberalism invading mainline denominations rose in their hearts. The years after World War II were fraught with turmoil, confusion, liberal theology, and doubt. Francis and Edith went to Switzerland as missionaries and founded L’Abri Fellowship, a place to learn about the grace and truth found in Christ.
"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!
One of our favorite events each year is our Heroes for Jesus Party.
We gather together to celebrate Christian heroes from the past who have been world changers. We move from station to station to meet this year's heroes, listen to their monologues, and play a game or do an activity. Everyone has a blast!
Would you like to visit Lottie Moon's station. Here we go!
"Come on in, ya'll and sit down," "Lottie" greets us. A young single woman in the church is dressed up as a southern belle from the 1800's. She tells her story. It was hard enough to get on the mission field in those days as a single woman. Once she managed to get to China, people didn't want to hear what she had to say.
What could she do?
She started baking cookies!
Cookies? Yes, you read that right.
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.
Pope Gregory (circa 540-604) was born after the Roman Empire had collapsed, but had a illustrious family history and was born into a noble family. He was the great-great grandfather was Pope Felix III (serving before popes took vows of celibacy) and his father was a senator and Prefect of Rome. He had aunts that were nuns and his parents joined the cloisters later in their lives.
Gregory grew up in a very wealthy family. They owned lavish homes on the island of Sicily, providing a comfortable income. Gregory excelled at his studies, especially law. He became a Prefect of Rome. That meant he was the chief administrator of the city. He was responsible for police, public works, administration, and finances. It was a hard job and Gregory excelled.
After his father died, he had the family villa in Rome converted to a monastery, San Gregorio Magno al Celio. You can visit it today if you go to Italy. Gregory became a monk and lived a quiet life of contemplation and prayer. These were the happiest years of Gregory’s life. During these years, he spent hours and hours studying the Scriptures in great detail. He devoted himself to fasting to the point that it affected his health.
Monk Gregory dressed simply and gave up all his worldly possessions. He lived a simple life and planned to do so the rest of his life. That was not to be.
Born to a devout peasant family in Bohemia (modern-day Czech Republic), John Huss, or Jan Hus, (1369-1415) was ordained in a priest in 1401. He taught at Charles University and preached at Bethlehem Chapel in Prague.
A follower of John Wycliffe of England, John meticulously copied Wycliffe’s works that found their way to Bohemia. This was, of course before the printing press was invented. Like Wycliffe, he emphasized the Bible as central to life and doctrine for the church. He lived of life of purity and devotion to Jesus.
John Huss could not figure out why Jesus washed the disciples feet, but folks kissed the pope’s feet. Or why Jesus walked barefoot and had no home to call his own, but the pope lived in luxury, wearing fine clothes. He was also horrified that the pope and other high church officials were indulging in sexual immorality.
The archbishop of Prague told Pastor Huss to stop preaching and burn all Wycliffe’s books. Huss refused and began to preach against indulgences. Not surprisingly, the pope excommunicated John. However, that wasn’t all—the pope excommunicated the entire city so no-one could receive the sacraments. People were upset! Hus left Prague, but continued to preach out in churches that invited him, as well as outside in fields. Common peasants flocked to hear him preach.
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!