Book Review: Princess Stories

Our family recently reviewed Princess Stories: Real Bible Stories of God's Princesses by Carolyn Larsen.  I selected this book because my daughter is age 6 and shows a strong interest in princesses. I thought this book would be a good way for her to learn about women in the Bible through a means with which she was already interested.

This book is very well done and has far exceeded my expectations.  Each story is only 3 pages long and is written as a first-person narrative. Although each story is relatively short, it manages to remain accurate in  giving the background of the characters and their biblical story.  Each character starts out with "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who was the most (fill in the blank) princess of all."  The blank is filled in with that princess' defining characteristic.  My daughter was curious at first on how all these women in the Bible could be princesses.  Her question gave me the opportunity to share with her how we are all daughters of the King of kings, which allows us all to be princesses.

I personally enjoyed the book because it reveals how many women there actually are in the Bible.  We all know the big names like Esther, Ruth, Mary but this book includes even more women like Huldah, the widow of Zaraphath and the daughters of Zelophehad (Did you recognize them all without cheating?).  This book has given me a greater appreciation of the role of women in the Bible.

Each section ends with a Bible verse and 3 short questions which allows for age appropriate review of what they learned and application of the principles to their own lives.  We have added this book to our home school Bible time and everyone is enjoying it - including my 8 year old son.

This book is very well done and I would highly recommend it to be added to any little girl's library.

In Christ,

I received this book free of charge from the publisher Tyndale House Publishing.  I was not paid for my review and all thoughts are mine and mine alone.

Being known and knowing

God has been overwhelming my heart once again with the depth of His love for us. Below are some of the Scriptures that He has been implanting in my heart to once again strengthen my love, confidence and understanding of Him.

I know I've shared this verse before, but I'll share it again:):

John 17:3
Now this is eternal life:
that they may know you,
the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

The greek word for "know" used in this verse is ginosko: to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel to become known to know, understand, perceive, have knowledge of to understand to know Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman to become acquainted with, to know

I recently listened to a sermon entitled "To be Known and Felt by God" where he discussed how God already fully knows us:

I Corinthians 13:12
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

God already fully knows you and loves you!  The sermon shared above uses Psalm 139: 1-6 as part of its foundation:

You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

When we come to the place of confidence and rest in God's love for us it provides a foundation for us to move into the things of God.  This week, I've also been reading Isaiah 44: 1-5, 21-28, which continues to resonate this theme of God knowing us and loving us.  It shows the benefits our life can reflect when we walk in confidence of this truth:

The Lord says, "People of Jacob, you are my servants. Listen to me!
People of Israel, I chose you."
2 This is what the Lord says, who made you,
who formed you in your mother's body,
who will help you:
"People of Jacob, my servants, don't be afraid.
Israel, I chose you.
3 I will pour out water for the thirsty land
and make streams flow on dry land.
I will pour out my Spirit into your children
and my blessing on your descendants.
4 Your children will grow like a tree in the grass,
like poplar trees growing beside streams of water.
5 One person will say, 'I belong to the Lord,'
and another will use the name Jacob.
Another will sign his name 'I am the Lord's,'
and another will use the name Israel."
People of Jacob, remember these things!
People of Israel, remember you are my servants.
 made you, and you are my servants.
So Israel, I will not forget you.
22 I have swept away your sins like a big cloud;
I have removed your sins like a cloud that disappears into the air.
Come back to me because I saved you."

23 Skies, sing for joy because the Lord did great things!
Earth, shout for joy, even in your deepest parts!
Sing, you mountains, with thanks to God.
Sing, too, you trees in the forest!
The Lord saved the people of Jacob!
He showed his glory when he saved Israel.
24 This is what the Lord says, who saved you,
who formed you in your mother's body:
"I, the Lord, made everything,
stretching out the skies by myself
and spreading out the earth all alone.
25 I show that the signs of the lying prophets are false;
I make fools of those who do magic.
I confuse even the wise;
they think they know much, but I make them look foolish.
26 I make the messages of my servants come true;
I make the advice of my messengers come true.
I say to Jerusalem,
'People will live in you again!'
I say to the towns of Judah,
'You will be built again!'
I say to Jerusalem's ruins,
'I will repair you.'
27 I tell the deep waters, 'Become dry!
I will make your streams become dry!'
28 I say of Cyrus,[a] 'He is my shepherd
and will do all that I want him to do.
He will say to Jerusalem, "You will be built again!"
He will tell the Temple, "Your foundations will be rebuilt."

There are many promises and truths embedded in these verses. Here are a few of the many thoughts that I've been reflecting on:
  • I've been reflecting on the contrast between vs 3 where He says He will pour out waters on the dry land with verse 27 where He says to the deep waters "Be dry." One of my favorite attributes of God is that He is a Redeemer, Restorer, Replacer and I think these verses capture that fact. The deep waters, the broken places in our hearts, that have been there for years, He declares - "Be dry." And yet He doesn't just leave us dry, He then pours out water on these dry and barren places to allow the life that He has always intended to be there, to flourish and live.
  • vs 3 "I will pour out my Spirit on your children!" We live in this reality right now. What a beautiful and eager expectation we can have for our children. Have you been teaching your children to tune an ear to the Spirit?
  • vs 5 "Another will sign his name: "I am the Lord's." Is this the identity that walk around with? The God who already fully knows you, says you can.
There is much more in those verses, but I'll let you find them! To sum it up, the Lord has been teaching me to enjoy today, because eternal life is now - in the knowing and being known by Him. As I rest in the knowledge that He already fully knows me, loves me and accepts me I am able to walk in joy with Him in the dailyness of life.

I'm praying that you may have a knowledge and understanding of His great love for you and that it will truly be a place where you can rest your heart in as you walk through this day.

In Christ,

The ladder of grace

The last couple of days I have been captured by Romans 5:1-5.  Here it is in the AMP version:

THEREFORE, SINCE we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to [b]enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

2Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God's favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God.

3Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.

4And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of [c]character (approved faith and [d]tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] [e]joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.

5Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.

As I have been sitting in reflection of these verses, I've been picturing a ladder of grace. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that are overwhelming. The LORD understands this and I believe these verses in Romans 5 give us a clear picture of the ladder we can climb as we work through these troubles.

The foundation of this ladder is justification.  Any difficult journey you embark on needs to be rooted in justification.  The AMP did a good job explaining justification for us: being declared right with God.  Because of that truth you can confidently grab a hold of the first rung on the ladder: peace with God.  This peace with God, means that we have been reconciled unto Him.  The second rung is access to God.  Because of our justification and our peace with God, we have complete access to God on our journey.

I'm going to skip for a moment to the very top of the ladder: sharing in God's glory.  Often as we climb ladders, we continue to look up to see where we are going and how far away we are from the top.  Romans 5:2 reminds us that God allows us to share in His glory.  There is a weight and a permanence to the glory of God so remember as you are walking through that the end result will be God's glory.  When His glory comes it will have a permanent change and He allows us a share in that!

The sides of the ladder, I have marked as grace and love.  I believe these are the stabilizers for the rungs.  Grace is God's enabling power given to us for the journey that we are on.  Love is how He continuously feels about us.

So now we can look back down to our ladder and see that we are on the third rung, joy.  If you see the last steps (justification, peace and access), and what you are surrounded by (grace and love) the immensity of situations begins to fade away and you can have joy, because you know that God is taking you somewhere and He is doing something.  This joy allows you to take the next step to patience.

As I'm sure you've learned by now, God's time table and our time tables do not always line up.  But when you see that God is up to something, He loves you and He is helping you, you can have patience in your circumstances.  The next step is character!  Yes, your character can grow and deepen as you walk through times of trouble.  And last of all there is HOPE.  Romans 5:5 says that the hope we get up this ladder will not disappoint us!  God has poured out His Holy Spirit upon us as we journeyed to the top.

If you've ever watched the Biggest Loser, you've seen the step ladder that continuously rotates.  Depending on your situation, it might not be a 1,2,3 and you are at the top.  Rather, it might be like the rotating ladder where we have to go back and immerse ourselves in these truths.  But I believe this visual helps us to see why we can have joy and hope as we walk in and through hard times.

In Christ,

PS Feel free to print out the visual and look back at the verses with the ladder in mind.

The story of mess

You are about to get a glimpse of my kitchen, in a mess!  For those of you who know me personally and I allow into my home on a regular basis, will know that my house doesn't usually look like this when you come to visit.  I like a nice clean house when I have company.  However, if you live with me, this is how our house normally looks.  Why?  Because people actually live in the house and amazingly so, life with people ends up being messy.

But within the mess is a story and as I reflected on the story of my messy kitchen this morning, I decided I'd much rather have the story and the people who make the story than to have a nice clean house.

Story 1: The coffee pot.  The coffee pot is out because my husband surprised us and took Friday off of work.  He bought hot chocolate, peppermint creamer and cinnamon buns as a treat for breakfast.

Story two: The messy counter.  This counter is notorious for all the junk.   Glasses, mail, a book that I am reading, bills to pay, tape, a whoopee cushion, you know all the important things of life.

Story 3: My mother-in-law pile.  I have a pile of things I need to take to my mother-in-law's house of stuff that belongs to her.  So yes, this pile of stuff from Christmas, will soon be moving to another's home.

Story 4: The crumby floor.  These crumbs are from the zucchini, banana flaxseed muffins that I made my kids.  They thought they were fantastic and thanked me profusely for making them.  However, they left a mess on the floor.  I don't like to sweep but my husband will do the job.  I asked him to sweep it up a couple of days ago and he said he would.  The fact that the mess was still there made me smile.  I was glad that we were at the point in our marriage where I didn't have to be a nag and yell that he didn't sweep when I asked him too. I have learned to trust his heart and know that he hadn't forgotten.  Then this morning before our Sunday gathering he noticed the mess and said, "I didn't sweep that up yet."   The first thing he did when we came home was sweep up the mess (and almost wrecked my chance to take pictures for my post).

Story 6:  We celebrated my son's 8th birthday yesterday.  That is the box that hold the crumbs of what is left, along with the camera that captured the pictures.  We have an amazing son who brings us life and delight over the last 8 years.

So as you see, our mess tells a story.  The story that it tells is that life, fellowship, laughter, love and fun live in this house.  I wish that life could operate without the included mess, but it doesn't.  All this got me thinking about my last post, Sin's power is broken, and especially about Romans 6:10-12:

10For by the death He died, He died to sin [ending His relation to it]
once for all; and the life that He lives, He is living to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him].
11Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin
and your relation to it broken,
but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.

You see Jesus willing choose to enter the mess of our world and take care of the problem of sin so that we could remain in unbroken fellowship with Him.  He wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty, in fact Isaiah 53:3 says that

He was a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering.

Now He now sits at the right hand of God, as our high priest who sympathizes with our weakness (Hebrew 4:18).  He has opened the way so that we can live this life in unbroken fellowship with Him.  Because He has walked this earth in flesh, He understands that life is messy and offers us mercy and grace as we walk through this life.  He is not sitting in heaven waiting for us to live perfectly, holy and clean lives so that then we can live in fellowship with Him.  No, instead He has made it possible for us to live our life in relation with Him.

If you want to live a mess-free life you will have to do it by sitting still and doing nothing.  However, when you begin interacting with others, seeing their lives and sharing with them then mess will develop.  The greatest commandment Jesus said is "To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and then to love others as yourself."  Jesus understands that if you live out this command, there will be messes along the way.  He wants you to live, move and have your being in Him as you walk through this life.  Your mess will get cleaned up, straightened and put away, but to live life in love, fellowship, laughter and friendship with Him and those we share life with is what He offers.
In Christ,

Sin's power is broken

In my last post, I shared on the Relentless nature of God.  I also discussed the power of TRUTH.  The past several years I've been in a process of removing lies and misunderstandings that I've accumulated over the years.  As time goes by, I've grown to have a greater understanding of the beauty of the the Gospel and the freedom that Christ offers us by His grace.

Remember the 4 characteristics of God discussed in Isaiah 9: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace?  The Lord really captured me in the past 2 years with the concept that He is not only my Everlasting Father, but is my loving Heavenly Father.  Now that I am secure in that I have been re-entering the Bible with fresh, free eyes and I have been astounded by how much "I see" that I've never seen or understood before.  Today I want to share on the concept of sin.

Sin is a popular word in Christian circles today.  It has been a huge focal point of most of my Christian experience.  I sinned again, what can I do differently, Lord will you forgive me, have you forgiven me?  When will I go too far for your grace?

I've read the book of Romans many times before, and in the past it has only seemed to reconfirm these fears of insecurity.  The Lord has been taking me through the book again, and I've realized that through my dissection of each verse, I have missed the story and the point of what Paul is trying to say. 

In the book of Romans, Paul is building a case to the Jewish people of why faith ALONE in Jesus Christ is where we should put our hope and trust.  However, if you stop him in the middle of his building a case, you end up missing the whole point of what he is trying to say.  For instance, try reading Romans 1 by itself.  Then, try reading Romans 2 by itself.  Then return and read Romans 1,2 and 3 all together and I guarantee you will leave with a whole different understanding.

Or take for instance, Romans 3:23 which we all know:  "All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God."  But can you quote Romans 3:24 (I'd really like to know if you can)?  See verse 23 doesn't end with a period, it has a comma and reads on to say:

and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Why do we choose to memorize only 3:23 and not continue on to the Good News of verse 24?  Why do we have an obsession with sin instead of with grace?

Why, you say, because if we have an obsession with grace we will continue to sin. (Hmm, sounds somewhat familiar to Romans 6:1).  However, we do not need to bypass truth, or create a new truth to overcome sin.  Instead, shouldn't we try believing in and doing it God's way? 

Romans 6:10-12 (AMP)
 10For by the death He died, He died to sin [ending His relation to it]
once for all; and the life that He lives, He is living to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him].
11Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin
 and your relation to it broken,
but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.

Read it again.  Did you hear that?  Is that what you've been taught?  Do you consider yourself dead to sin?  Your relationship broken with it?  Is the primary identity you walk with is that you are alive in God, in UNBROKEN fellowship with Him?  That there is the point and the key!  Sin is no longer your master - you are dead to it - Christ is your master.  Do we still mess up sometimes? Yes, but that doesn't change the truth.  You are now dead to sin.  It does not come alive again because you mess up.
12Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions.

14 For sin shall not [any longer] exert dominion over you, since now you are not under Law [as slaves], but under grace [as subjects of God's favor and mercy].

According to the verses above, you have a choice to make about how sin operates in your mortal bodies.  You can choose to let it rule and reign, or you can realize that it has no dominion over you and therefore you can choose to live and walk according to grace.  Personally, I have found no better way to live, than to live in these truths.  If you want to live under the law, then only read Romans 2 & 7 because those descriptions will be the defining factors of your life.  You will constantly feel like you are failing, never measuring up and that God is always angry with you.  However, if you want to live under grace then read all of Romans and believe and apply Romans 3, 6 and 8.  This is the lifestyle that Christ purchased for you, that you would be dead to sin, that it would no longer be your master.  The truth is that you live in unbroken fellowship with your Heavenly Father and because of that you get to walk according to the Spirit and not the law.  So here is where people often trip up on grace- they think that if you live by grace you will not be holy.  However, God's design is for you to walk according to the Spirit (Romans 8).  If you choose to walk by the Spirit, you will end up fulfilling the law without even trying.  But if you try to FIRST live your life by the law and carry that burden on your shoulders you will constantly fail.  Why?

The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase (Romans 5:20). 

The point of the law is to show that you are a sinner.  So if you try to live your faith out by walking by the law instead of by the Spirit you will constantly be aware of the fact that you still sin and fail.

So stop having your constant fixation be upon sin, are you sinning, have you sinned, etc.  Sin is no longer your master.  You have died to it.  Instead, fix your eyes on Jesus Christ with whom you have unbroken fellowship!  Guess what?  By walking in fellowship with God through this life you will be walking in the true life that belongs to you.

In Christ,

Relentless God

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness(from the Declaration of Independence).

When these words were originally written, they were not a physical reality to the people who wrote them.  In addition, the scope of their vision was small; they were talking only about themselves and they had no idea the lengths and the depths that these words could and would reach.  The beauty of these words is that they contained truth and because they contained truth the words have endured the test of time and have reached farther and wider than was imagined and brought about changes that not only remained in the realm of the mind, but emerged into physical reality.

The last several months the LORD has captured my heart with the Relentlessness of WHO He IS.  I have listened to a sermon by Todd Hunter called Relentless God (8/29/10) at least 4 times now.  It isn't that the sermon is full of overwhelming points but it is the essence of the message that has captured my heart; God is up to something, He is on a mission and we can choose to join in with His mission or not.  But whether or not you choose to join in with these TRUTHS and allow them to be a reality in your life or not does not make the truths - untrue.

As I entered the Christmas season and since then I have been caught up in Isaiah 9:6&7
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.

The words of the prophet Isaiah have captured me.  This is Who Jesus proclaims to be in our lives:

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father

Are these just words on a page, words for our theoretical minds?  Or are these the words of Almighty God, declaring Who HE is, and they are meant to be a reality for our lives?  Should we follow the example of our Founding Fathers and realize that sometimes TRUTH supersedes "reality" and that it needs to be declared, lived out and if necessary fought for?

Isaiah continues, "there will be no end to the increase of His government."  God is on the move, in an ever-increasing manner, and I have been caught up in the journey of knowing Him in ever increasing measuring and allowing the increase of His government (kingdom) to rule and reign in my life and in the lives of those around me.

These beautiful words are TRUTHS, which unfortunately too many of us are missing as reality in our lives.
As I walk into this new year the LORD has encouraged my heart to declare, walk in and live in the realities of these truths.  He is my Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.  These words are going to be the forerunners of my life in this next season.

I am excited about this upcoming year and pray you will continue to walk along with me in the journey.  The LORD continues to overwhelm my heart with the height, length, beauty and depth of His Living Word.  As I've entered in, it truly has been refreshing, living water to my soul.

My prayer for each one of you is that the LORD would capture your heart with His truth and that He would place in you a hunger and thirst for Him that cannot be quenched yet propels you forward in strength, faith and hope as you follow after Him into the things He has for you in this season.

In Christ,

Daily Prayer

Disqus for For His Glory Alone


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