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Always with you

{This is my monthly book review.  Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts.}

“I am always with you.”

I read those words in my morning devotional, words I’ve known since childhood, but words I need to hear often. Reminders are good and necessary.

I just finished reading The Prince Warriors and the Unseen Invasion, and the same truth became evident once again: that the ever-present God, who continues to work out His purpose in every situation, is always with His children.

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Priscilla Shirer has ventured into the genre of fiction books, appealing to elpriscillashirer2ementary and middle school children. The first in the series, The Prince Warriors, introduced us to a group of children whose lives intersect at the Rec Center in their home town. They are different ages, different ethnic backgrounds, and different personalities. Their personal stories intertwine as they are called to the adventures in Ahoratos, a world somewhere in another dimension where good battles evil.

In Ahoratos, they meet Ruwach who dispenses wisdom from time-honored Scripture. He is the one who equips them with armor for battle.

The children encounter attacks from the creatures of the dark kingdom, and they learn how their armor operates, how it helps them fight and protects them from the enemy.

As the story continues, we see how each piece of armor issued to the young prince and princess warriors mirrors the armor of God as described in Ephesians 6.

The second book of the series, The Prince Warriors and the Unseen Invasion, highlights the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation. One of the girls is harassed by the enemy who tries to invade her thoughts and speak lies to her because she is not wearing her helmet.

During the invasion, the children begin to understand the truth that God is always with them

Though our trails are hard and last long; though the battle rages and we fight hard; though the road ahead look ominous and our strength is gone; one thing is a fountainhead of comfort. Jesus Himself said it,”I am always with you.”

“I AM always with you.” Be reminded.

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NOTE:   I received a copy of the book The Prince Warriors and the Unseen Invasion, provided by B&H Publishing, for an honest review.  The book was free.  The words are my very own. 

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A good summer read

{This is my monthly book review.  Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts.}

{Typed slowly with a little difficulty due to my one-handedness}

It’s been a long time since I sat and read to my grandchildren. They are so grown up now that their legs would drag the floor if they sat in my lap. The memories are precious.

I did it often when they were young and living in the house next door. When they spent the night, bed time was not complete until we shared our ritual of reading. They picked the books usually, and as it is with children, the same ones surfaced regularly until we could almost quote them line by line.

I miss those days.

As I began reading The Prince Warriors, I thought what a great book this would be to read with a young person.

Prince Warrior

Prisilla Shirer (with Gina Detwiler), acclaimed speaker and writer of Bible studies, surprised me with her first book of fiction, aimed at the middle-grade boy or girl. I was pulled into the story line as the lives of two brothers and two friends became intertwined in an adventure children only dream of having.

“The battle is real.

As brothers, Xavier and Evan are used to battling each other. But now they’re discovering that there is a much bigger battle going on all around them. And it’s their turn to fight. . . . Xavier, Evan, and their friends have typical lives until they enter a mysterious land called Ahoratos. There they meet their guide, Ruwach, who offers wisdom and direction as the kids’ initial adventure begins—an adventure filled with armor and danger and a very real enemy.”

While the brothers are typical siblings, fighting their way into trouble with mom, their adventure teaches them they are not enemies of each other. They learn they must cooperate and work together if they are to be victorious over their common adversary.

The young people are brought together for a purpose. They learn from each other. They help each other. They begin to see they need each other.

The book teaches a lot of truth along the way without being preachy. It is a compelling story that draws the reader into the dangerous scrapes and rescues the four friends find themselves.

Ms. Shirer based the story on Ephesians 6:10 through 18 which describes the Armor of God. Having completed her Bible study by that topic this year, it was interesting to see her weave the pieces of armor into the kids’ exploits. I could clearly see the message she was trying to convey.

If you have a child or grandchild in your family, or if you can borrow someone else’s for a few afternoons this summer, read this book with them. You both will enjoy the story and camaraderie of a shared experience.

The Prince Warriors is the first in a trilogy (Unseen Invasion estimated to be released in October 2016). I recommend you get the book, plan your strategy to read it with someone, and follow the escapades of Evan, Xavier, Levi, and Brianna.

Buy this book for a child or share the reading of it with him or her. Spend your summer by investing in something eternal.

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NOTE:   I received a copy of the book The Prince Warriors, provided by B&H Publishing, for an honest review.  The book was free.  The words are my very own. 

B&H blogger icon

 

To finish well

armor of god2This week we celebrated with gladness.

The Armor of God Bible study concluded, many of us saying it was the best one yet. The ending of something so grand was a mixture of joy and melancholy moments.

The women and I have been gathering regularly for seven weeks, weathering snow, a tornado watch, rain, muddy yards that captured a couple of cars, and 80-degree-almost-record-temperatures. Typical Kentucky.  And we persevered because we wanted to know the God who makes Himself known.

By the final week, the chatter among the women was loud and beautiful.  We had bonded.  It is one of the benefits of Bible study and the way our Father planned for us to have community, communion, and find common ground when we are all so very different.

As we looked deep into the Law of Love, we saw ourselves.  We confessed our failures.  We  desired to do better and be stronger.  We acknowledged that when we fall, we want to fall forward, at the feet of a merciful Savior.

We were made aware of our enemies strategies and how we can stand firm against him.  We studied the armor, God’s own strength provided to us, and we practiced putting it on.

We welded the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, and we found it powerful.

Bible study brings us face to face with the very words of the God who made everything and is in control of everything, who saw us in our desperate need and provided a remedy, who loves us enough to show us Himself through words we can understand.

I don’t want to forget what I’ve learned.  I don’t want to just check off another Bible study completed, blanks filled in and meetings concluded, the book put on a shelf and its teaching soon to be forgotten.

No. I don’t want to forget. I want the Word planted deeply into my heart, my soul, my very being.  I want it to grow and produce fruit fit for the Kingdom, making me useful and spiritually healthy.

One more Bible studied finished.  One more day of my life done.  How many are left to be lived abundantly, fiercely fighting the battle and standing firm when I’ve done all there is to do?

I want to finish well in the days I have left on this earth.  I want to look more like Jesus every day. Though the process is painful, I want to submit to the chipping away of anything that does not look like my Savior.

That would be a life well-lived.  A life to the the praise of His glory.

 

 

 

 

Got a helmet?

 

Flipping through a book awhile back I saw it in a picture, a plaque on the wall, and I recreated in a very rough art form.

“Life is tough.  Get a helmet.”

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It tells me what I already know.  This is no easy road we travel.  Acknowledge it.  Make up my mind.  This is how it is going to be.  No one gets off without an injury, a disappointment, a struggle.

Ask anyone to tell you his story and you’ll hear it.  Family dysfunction affecting this generation and the next.  Divorce that divides children between parents.  Job loss that creates financial struggles that create arguments that create more stress.  Health issues not easily diagnosed and even harder to treat.  Death that steals a loved one before we said our last good-byes.  The unthinkable event that changes a future.

Life happens to us.  The question then is what are we going to do with it.  Are we just to give in, to endure it in misery?  Or is there a better way?

Wisdom says as a woman thinks in her heart, so is she.  Science is proving this to be true.

Wisdom says to dwell on the true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

I can change my thought process and change my life.  I can enjoy my journey even though life is hard.

The tough places along the way cause me to develop endurance, teach me compassion, tender my heart to be more understanding, help me love better, forgive quicker, and encourage more.

The final week of our Bible study focuses on the Helmet of Salvation.  It is the protection of our minds that can change our thinking and let us live our lives in a positive victorious way.

Learning to think God’s thoughts is the key. And that means we have to know what His thoughts are on any given subject.  The only way to do that is to look in His Word.

It isn’t enough to take someone else’s word for it.  We must read the Bible ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us, to teach us so that we know – We Know! – what God says.

Don’t allow someone else to tell you who you are.  Don’t believe that you have to measure up to an air-brushed standard.  Don’t let your past overshadow your future.  Don’t listen to the enemy of your soul whose native language is Lies.

God calls us chosen, holy, blameless, adopted, redeemed and forgiven in Christ.  He lavishes us with grace and seals us with the Holy Spirit.

God offers life, a hope and a future, immeasurable blessings, personal relationship with Him, and an eternity in Heaven.  Who wouldn’t be glad about that?

I can choose to dwell on negative thoughts, the sadness, the darkness, the bleakness of the world.  Or I can be thankful, count my blessings, remember all God’s promises in Christ Jesus, receive the life He offers, and be joyful.

O Lord, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, you have covered my head in the day of battle.  Psalm 140:7 ESV

Life is tough.  It will always be.  Wear your helmet.

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Drawing from ShareAVerse

 

 

Walk this way

Finding myself more than halfway through a Bible study becomes melancholy experience for me.

There’s lots of preparation for each and every week that takes a chunk of my time.  But when I gather with a group of wonderful women who become sisters-in-Christ in the truest since of the word, and we talk about God, it is joy.  Plain and simple.

Studying The Armor of God with Priscilla Shirer has been eye-opening to us as we have been awakened to our enemy’s strategies, re-discovering how to fight well, and learning to put into practice what we already knew and what we are learning afresh.

This week’s topic has been the shield of faith, learning that faith is active, moving where God is calling.

I will admit I have had my crises of faith.  Those times when I questioned everything I was ever taught in the face of my present reality.  Times when what I desperately prayed for didn’t materialize.  Times when I wondered if everything I believed was really true.

Often my focus was on me and my faith.  Was it enough?  Was it strong?  Would it be sufficient to accomplish my purpose?

Ms. Shirer made this statement:  “Faith is less about me and more about God.”

I am a dull learner sometimes, having to repeat the same lesson again.  And this time I want to remember this lesson well.

Faith is about a mighty God, a dependable God, a strong and compassionate God.  And let me say it in bold letters, A Faithful God.

When Jesus chided his followers because of their lack of faith, wasn’t it because they were looking at circumstances and themselves rather than looking at Yahweh?  The I Am.  The Self-existent One.  The Everlasting.  The Alpha and Omega.

Oh my, when I look at the God of the Bible who accomplished amazing miracles and who died a selfless, humiliating death for my sake and to pay my unpayable debt of sin, I am filled with a strong faith in a strong God.

Faith is not about me.  Not about how much or how little I have.  Not whether I can talk myself into believing the impossible.

Faith is about a faithful God who can do more than I can imagine or think into reality.  When I fix my eyes on Jesus, when I look toward the only Answer in a broken world of questions, when I see Him in the glory of the One and Only who rules and reigns even when all seems in chaos, then and only then am I filled with faith.

When this vision is before me and making itself at home in my heart, I will have an active faith.  A faith that can move forward where God is calling to me.

I will hear Him say, “Walk this way.”  And I will go with Him.

Walkway

Bruce Park AW Hanks Walkway, Wikipedia

Something new

Over ten years ago I wrote my first blog post in anticipation of starting a Bible study.  It was the book of Ruth, one of my favorite stories in the Bible.  I learned so much during the weeks we read in our study guides, looked up Scripture, and gathered weekly to talk as only us girls can.

Writing the blog was a way I hoped to connect with the women of the class.  I made friends there, relationships I still cherish today.

God does things like that when we study His Word.  He gives so much more than we expect, so much more than our efforts deserve.

Next week I begin a new Bible study.  And I am just as excited about staring something new.

Since seeing War Room months ago, I’ve been drawn to the books and studies that have emerged from the movie experience.  First it was Fervent by Priscilla Shirer.  I loved the book and did a review about it.

Then I found Armor of God and determined this would be the next study I wanted to lead.

Ms. Shirer opens her book Fervent with this quote from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers:

Theoden:  I will not risk open war.

Aragorn:  Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not.

The quote sums up life.  There is a war between good and evil.  We can ignore it, stick our heads in the sand, and pretend it does not exist or affect us.  But the truth is this.  War is upon us whether we risk facing it or not.  The question is:  What are we going to do?

We begin our study next week and the battle is before us.  The armor has been provided by God Himself.  It’s His armor, tested and tried and found to be suitable and a perfect fit for me.  For you.

What matters is whether you and I will take it up, put it on, and wield the sword?

As I dig into the Word of God, my deep desire is to know my Savoir more, to understand His heart, to hear His voice, and thus to follow Him wherever He goes.  I pray that also for those who will study with me.

Over the next few weeks we will do our homework and then gather together to discuss truths that will begin to take root in our hearts and will begin to bear fruit in our lives.  We will share our thoughts and reflect on what God is teaching us about fighting the good fight of faith.

It’s the way we do life together.  It’s the way we grow.  It’s the way we become armed and dangerous women of God.

Expect to hear more about this later.  It’s gonna be good!

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