The #1 Secret to Godly Success

 

Today could turn out to be one of the most momentous days of my life. It could also turn out to be a huge disappointment. And the kicker? I won’t know which it is for at least a couple months.

Today I read over my proposal for The Keeper’s Crown one last time, crossed the border to the States, bought an international stamp for my SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope for those not “in the know”), sealed that big bubble envelope, and sent it winging its way south. On Thursday that same envelope, now travel-worn, should land on the desk of one of the foremost agents in the Christian publishing industry. And Lord willing, at some point over the next two months, he’ll excavate down through his slush pile to my submission, slit open the envelope, and begin to read.

Will he love it or hate it?

Will he think my plotline has traction and my writing sings?

Will he want to read the rest of my book? Or will he drop my pages in the shredder and reach for my SASE to send me his regrets?

If he does read the rest of the manuscript, will he agree to represent it?

And if I cross that hurdle, will my book end up in the hands of an editor who will champion it?

And if it is published, will it become a bestseller, or will it languish on the bargain rack?

How many question marks is that?

Point is, there are no certainties in a writing career.

But no. I’m wrong.

One thing is certain, and it’s what the Lord reminded me of as I stood in my kitchen a few hours ago, with my submission in hand and tension twisting in my guts.

I’m writing because He told me to.

“And isn’t that what your book is all about?” I could almost hear Jesus ask the gentle question. “Isn’t it about the fact that I don’t measure success the way the world measures it?”

I wrote The Keeper’s Crown as my way of wrestling with the question of true success. The last two years of delving into Paul’s later life and martyrdom have informed and transformed my view of success. I’ve become convinced that in God’s eyes, success isn’t measured in dollars and cents, how high you climb the religous or secular ladder, or whether you get a publishing contract or not. At the risk of being denounced for heresy, I dare say God doesn’t even measure success by how big your church is or how many converts you make.

In God’s eyes, success isn’t measured in dollars and cents, how high you climb the religous or secular ladder, or whether you get a publishing contract or not.

What if Ananias of Damascus only made one convert, but that convert was Saul of Tarsus?

Paul didn’t win Nero to Christ, but he still won a crown. He discovered the #1 secret for godly success. He simply did what God called him to do. He preached the Gospel to “the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.”

By the world’s standards, Paul died a failure. He fell from wealth and privilege to end up in a rough-hewn hole that used to be a cistern, abandoned by everyone but his faithful physician Luke. But sitting in that dank dungeon before he was dragged out to be beheaded, he penned these immortal words: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”

I write because God called me to write. No matter what happens from there, I am a success.

And if you follow His calling, you are too.

PS: (And friend, two months from now if you see me in tears, clutching a crumpled rejection letter, please refer me back to this post. Thanks!) 🙂

Would you care to share a time in your life where God’s version of success defied the world’s norm? I’d love to hear about it!

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Not Just Another Love Story

 

Let me tell you a love story. Once, a long time ago, there was a man. He was strong and self-sufficient and very good. He had everything he needed, yet still He felt a desire for something more. He had infinite capacity for love, but He didn’t have anyone to give that love to. His love was like the deepest reservoir full to the brim, but without an outlet. And He had no one who would love Him in return.

So the man set out to find Someone to love, and He found his soul-mate! He wooed her and won her heart. They were so happy. They spent every day together, and talked about anything and everything and nothing. Neither could imagine ever falling out of love or being apart.

Then one day a stranger approached the woman. He seduced her with beguiling words and stole her innocence. But the subtle stranger didn’t love the woman. He didn’t even really want her. He only wanted to steal her away from the hero of our story. You see, the stranger and our hero were once very close, but the stranger betrayed our hero. They fought, and our hero beat him. But now the stranger had found a way to strike back at him, by stealing away the woman he loved.

The stranger kidnapped her and took her far away. He locked her away. He beat her and abused her. He plied her with drugs and alcohol until she became an addict reliant on him for her next fix. He bombarded her with music that glorified violence and sensuality and greed in an attempt to brainwash her. He kept her so busy slaving away she had no time to think or question.

Months and years passed, and the kidnapper’s efforts began to take effect. Over time his captive all but forgot the man she had once loved. Despite her captor’s abuse, she began to believe that he really did care about her. He convinced her that only he could satisfy her craving for love and acceptance, but somehow she was never really satisfied. Her captor kept promising her happiness if she would just do a little more for him. If she would just try the next new drug or drink. If she would dress the way he wanted her to and act just like he said. She did it all but still felt empty. Still, she plastered on a smile. He gave her fancy clothes and jewelry, but they didn’t fill the hole inside her.

Her life grew darker and darker. She became depressed, angry, and suicidal. She wondered what was wrong with her. Why wasn’t her lover and all he offered her enough? She could no longer remember a time when she was innocent and loved and happy. She just wanted it all to end.

Then one day a stranger came to their door. The woman overheard him talking to her lover. The man at the door was begging her lover to let her go.

She was puzzled. “Let her go?” Was she a prisoner? She had been here so long, wasn’t this where she belonged?

“Take me in her place.” The man at the door was practically in tears. “Do whatever you want with me, just let her go.”

The woman listened in shock. Surely her lover would never trade her for this stranger! Didn’t he love her?

But her lover laughed in glee. “Promise me!” he demanded, and the stranger promised. Her lover turned to her, face twisted. “You’re free to go.” He jerked a hand toward the door.

She stood stock still.

He laughed again, looking at the stranger. “You fool! See? She’s bound to me now. She’ll never choose to leave. Now I have you both!” To her horror, her lover began beating the man viciously.

As blows rained down on him, the stranger raised his head to look at her. “Please go,” he said between gasps of pain. “I’m doing this to set you free. Go now! Don’t look back, don’t worry about me. Just run.”

She stared at him. It had been so long, but she caught the ghost of a memory. Yes! She remembered those kind eyes. That loving smile. Could it be?

She remembered! She was happy once. With him! Before the Dark One came and seduced her away. She remembered!

Turning, she ran from her captor’s prison, leaving everything behind. Behind her she heard a cry of agony, but she couldn’t look back. Couldn’t go back. He had said to run. She had to break free!

Three days later he somehow found her. She ran to him and tenderly took his wounded hands. She took in the wounds in his feet and his side, the scars on his forehead.

“What did he do to you?” she cried.

“His worst,” Jesus said and took her in his arms. “But you were worth it.”

 

 

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Review of Fighting Back by John F. Harrison

 

I just finished perhaps the most controversial Christian novel I’ve ever read. Fighting Back, the debut novel from John F. Harrison, is a modern-day retelling of the Parable of the Prodigal Son (or rather, as one of Harrison’s characters points out, the Parable of the Lost Son). Eddie Caruthers is a young Christian with a secret. Unbeknownst to his pacifist church and family he has honed his self-defense skills to the point that when a mobster insults a church friend and then attacks our protagonist, Eddie lays him out flat. The fallout from their eight-second altercation tears apart Eddie’s comfortable life and sends him spiraling downward.

Here, Harrison doesn’t pull his punches. Eddie is lured into the world of strip clubs and massage parlors. While the novel avoids graphic descriptions of these places and the acts performed there enough is sketched in that some Christians will likely be scandalized. If you are the kind of reader who prefers all your characters to be paragons of virtue from page 1 through to The End this likely is not the book for you. Fair warning. No doubt Jesus’ crowd was also scandalized by the younger son’s disdain for his father and his riotous living among harlots. Like Jesus, Harrison takes us there not for lurid entertainment value, but to illustrate just how low sin can pull us. Without a glimpse into the pig pen, Eddie’s eventual redemption and reunion with both his father and his Heavenly Father would be robbed of its impact. When Eddie discovers a human trafficking ring, his once-aimless existence gains new purpose. His mission to free the women being exploited sets the scene for several action-packed, suspenseful episodes that will keep you turning pages. Again, if you insist that a book fade to black the moment a punch is thrown or a gun is drawn this might not be the book for you. Fighting Back is not a sterilized, happy-go-lucky read. It shows the Christian faith against the backdrop of a gritty, realistic world. At the same time, there are plenty of light-hearted moments and some laugh-out-loud lines. I won’t ruin them for you by giving the punchlines here, but suffice to say, the novel certainly isn’t grim from cover to cover.

Harrison has crafted believable, well-developed main characters, especially Eddie and his love interest. The book has a large cast of characters, some of whom are only on-stage for a chapter or two, so we don’t have time to get to know each of them intimately. Yet, you get a definite sense that each of them has a history and a backstory well familiar to Harrison. That they are real people.

No review would be complete without pointing out a few issues, and there are some here. A couple of times the novel veers into long, rather preachy conversations, while some deep, important conversations – such as when Eddie tells his dad he’s leaving – were mostly scripted over instead of shown in detail. And there is a fair amount of repetitiveness in the novel. There are repeated references to “asphalt therapy”, a waitress’s build is described three different ways, the parable on which the book is based is retold several times, and almost the entire second-to-last page of the novel is a repetition (with minor modifications) of previous lines in the book. One line in particular – “She shook her head like one trying and failing to teach a simple concept to a slow child.” – while evocative, was used word-for-word earlier in the novel. This repetition may well be deliberate, but it gave me a strange sense of deja vu. These were only skin-deep blemishes, however, on a debut novel with good bones and considerable muscle.

Through it all, Harrison weaves in several important messages. He addresses the very real issue of church hurt and challenges pastors and saints alike to reform the enterprise model of church into a more relationship-based church model. The novel serves as a pointed commentary aimed at highlighting some of the grave problems facing the 21st century church. More than that, it suggests solutions for those brave enough. And perhaps more importantly, it raises questions and then challenges the reader to search the Scriptures, their own heart, and the heart of God for answers.

At the same time, Fighting Back provides a glimpse into the world of human trafficking happening quite literally under our noses. One of the most telling lines is “Innocent women might be held in bondage a stone’s throw from where two hundred people met weekly to sing and shout about deliverance and freedom. He had to do something and do it fast.” My hope is that this novel will encourage others to make the same decision Eddie did.

I received an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review, and was privileged to have my endorsment included in the book.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

You can purchase Fighting Back from Amazon by clicking here.

Or connect with John F. Harrison on his website here.

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Review of Chasing the Lion by Nancy Kimball

 I just surfaced. For hours today I’ve been immersed in Ancient Rome, a gift for which I have Nancy Kimball to thank.  And what better way to thank a writer than by writing a short review of their book and passing the word on to others?  Word of mouth has always been and likely will always be the best advertising.

I must confess I’m a bit of a history nerd/snob. It’s true. I love history, and historical fiction is my genre of choice for both reading and writing. Roman history is my particular Achilles’ heel. Of course, in my years of writing I’ve also done a fair amount of research, so inaccuracies tend to jar me out of the story. When, for instance, a writer (or TV show, or movie) depicts gladiator combat as indiscriminate slaughter where every fight is to the death I tend to roll my eyes and groan just a bit. (True gladiators, those who had actually trained for years to entertain the masses, were so valuable not even the most profligate sponsor could afford to butcher them en masse.) Kimball has done her research, and it shows. The one time I stopped dead and had to go fact-check was when a character gets killed by a crossbow early in the novel. But I had groaned too soon! As it turns out, even ancient Greece had a rudimentary version of the crossbow, as did Rome. Who knew? At the same time, Kimball generally keeps her background research, well, in the background. Imagine that! She weaves it into the story, but resists the temptation to diverge into the realm of textbooks like some novels do.

Of course, historical accuracy isn’t what drives a successful novel. The characters do. Kimball delivers a lively, diverse cast of multi-layered characters. Jonathan is both hard as stone and soft-hearted. His acts of charity and self-sacrifice are endearing. He is honest, pure, sincere, and brave. Yet, he is not a paragon of virtue. He falls and fails as we all do, but he always gets up.  His desperate wait for Nessa shows love and depth of character, and you can’t help but root for their near-hopeless love to find a way. Nessa, likewise, is a wonderfully-drawn character that leaps off the page and into your heart almost immediately. Her steadfast faith, indomitable spirit, and ability to laugh and sing despite everything is compelling.  Other characters — Quintus the doctor, Torren the gladiator master, Caelina the prostitute, Clovis the trainer — are all deep enough that you care about them, like them, hate them, respect them, or empathize with them.

For much of the novel Jonathan and Nessa are not the masters of their own destiny, which creates much of the tension. Jonathan especially is acted upon by others: his step-brother, his master’s wife, his gladiator masters, etc. The small ways he manages to shape his own future within this over-bearing power structure make you cheer for him and Nessa all the more when they finally break free.

The plot is as multilayered as the characters. More than once a plot twist caught me by surprise, which is delightful. A few plot points felt underdeveloped, such as when Jonathan is drawn into an assassination attempt on the Emperor. His assignment is apparently to guard the Empress, though no explanation is given of why she would be in danger or why her survival is important. But overall the book has flow and pace and draws to a satisfying conclusion. I also understand that this is the first book in a series, so a few loose ends are expected as tie-ins to the coming books (which will be out soon, I hope!)

In terms of age-appropriateness, I would suggest a minimum age of 12 or 13 for readers. This is a novel about gladiator life and battles, and the level of violence is higher than, say, an Amish romance. That should come as no shock, and personally I find the amount of action description bang-on. It never comes across as gratuitous, and sometimes Kimball let’s us look away, but you also get the definite sensation of being on the blood-soaked sands fighting desperately for your life. I love that! It might not be for everyone, but it’s definitely for me!

There is also a fair amount of sensuality alluded to, though again, not in an overblown way. Illicit sexuality is never condoned, and there are no detailed, racy descriptions. But again, very young readers might not be ready for the realities of Ancient Rome.

There were a couple nit-picks that jarred me from the story for a moment, such as when Nessa steps out of a tent into a corridor lined with torches, or when it should read heavy wooden sword but says shield instead. But these were very minor issues that only distracted momentarily from the smooth flow of the novel.

This is a Christian novel, so readers shouldn’t be surprised to find a fair amount of theology woven in. A couple times the witness Jonathan and Nessa give feels a bit drawn-out and “preachy” and one “miracle” where Jonathan prays for a gladiator he knocked out and claims a healing when the man comes to felt a bit contrived. But there are some genuinely powerful passages as Jonathan and Nessa share their faith with others, and I can only hope that people reading this book will either find faith in Christ or be strengthened in that they already hold.

The conclusion of the novel brings across a valuable lesson. Struggles will come into everyone’s life, Christian or not, but only we can decide what we make of them. Kimball weaves this theme skillfully throughout and uses an excellent illustration at the end, but I won’t ruin it for you…you’ll just have to read the book!

You can purchase Chasing the Lion at Amazon.com by clicking here.

Or connect with Nancy on her website by clicking here.

 

 

 

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Battle Under the Banner

 

And so it begins again, Moses thought.

Above him towered the pillar of cloud that symbolized Jehovah’s presence. It was stationary but not motionless, swirling but not dissipating. This place, Rephidim, was where God had chosen for them to camp, though for the life of him, Moses couldn’t understand why.

Half the nation was still marching, stretching in a dusty line to the distant horizon. Meanwhile, all around him the Levites were assembling the tabernacle, and the first tribes to have arrived were pitching their tents. Moses walked among them offering encouragement and greetings. How he loved these people even with all their faults and foibles!

But even as he moved between the long rows of tents, men and women began to return his greetings with one incessant demand. “Moses, give us water, that we may drink!” Time after time he heard the same words repeated.

And that was why Moses could not understand God’s choice. Rephidim had no water, that most essential feature of any camp. Finally, he turned on one muttering crowd in frustration. “Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the Lord?” he demanded. Lord, why did you choose a resting place without water?

The angry murmurs rose in volume. “We’re thirsty!” “We need water!” “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” The noise was drawing more people to swell the crowd. Tension rose along with the shouts. Some people were stooping to pick up stones. As yet no one was throwing them, but the threat was clear.

What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me! Moses cried out to the Lord.

Amid the hubbub, Jehovah’s still, small voice spoke within him. “Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink.”

And if it does not they will surely stone me for promising and then failing to provide, Moses thought. But when has Jehovah ever failed in His word? He squared his shoulders and looked around the angry circle.

“Gather the elders!” he called. “Then follow me.”

Turning, he lifted his eyes above the twisted faces and raised stones and focused on the rock of Horeb. He walked straight toward the wall of people. For one knife-edged moment he thought they would refuse to let him pass. Then they parted and fell in behind him.

As he led the elders of Israel up the rocky path, Moses looked down at the mass of his people gathering below. In spite of everything, he sympathized with their plight. Yes, they needed water. But Jehovah knew that when he chose this spot, and He had shown himself time and again to be Jehovah Jirah – God Is My Provider. Would they ever learn to trust Him?

Water from the Rock - Painting

The rock, when he saw it, was no different than any other boulder littering the mountainside, but the Lord pointed it out as the one. Without a word, he lifted the rod of God, and brought it down against the face of the rock with a crack that echoed off the cliff face.

The stone split before his widening eyes. A rushing, roaring sound issued from the chasm, and then water burst forth in a shower of rainbows and diamonds to cascade down the mountain. A shout of pure joy arose from the assembled crowd, and they rushed forward, laughing and dancing under the shower of water.

Moses lifted his eyes and hands to the heavens in thanks. Once again the Lord had provided for them.

Yet even as he lowered his gaze, a distant sight made his chest tighten around his heart. Far off in the distance, where the last and weakest of the tribes still straggled toward them, he saw flashing metal and figures charging on horseback. Distant war cries and panicked shouts carried to him on the evening breeze.

He turned to Joshua, gripping his arm fiercely. “Our people are under attack!” He pointed to the churning cloud of dust in the distance.

Joshua shielded his eyes with a hand hardened by years of slavery, then clenched his fist. “I will lead out the men.”

“Night falls,” Moses said, shaking his head. “We must secure the camp for the present.”

As the setting sun painted the mountain crimson, the survivors poured into camp bearing their tale.

“They came out of the desert without warning,” Joshua reported to Moses. “Our people, the weakest of them, had no chance.” His jaw muscles bunched and twitched. “Many have been taken captive.”

“Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek tomorrow,” Moses said. “I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.”

“If Jehovah give strength to my arm, I will recover our captives.”

 

***

 

God Is My Banner

But it was not the strength of Joshua’s arm upon which the battle hung, Moses realized as he stood on Mt. Horeb the next day. As the conflict seethed below, he could discern a definite pattern to the ebb and flow of the battle. Whenever he raised the rod of God, Israel’s warriors surged forward, driving back the desert horsemen. But when his arms grew weary and began to fall Amalek would countercharge, smashing into Israel’s ranks and threatening rout.

Again Moses forced his arms heavenward, determined to keep them aloft until his people had victory. Sweat beaded on his forehead. The rod seemed to take on incredible weight. His arms were shaking. Burning. Dropping. He shot an agonized look at his two companions, Aaron and Hur. His arms were falling once again, and so were his people. He locked his shoulders, but still his arms felt like lead weights.

“How, I know not,” he said to Aaron and Hur, “but when my hands are high we prevail, and when they fall we fall.”

In a moment, his brother and Hur were wrestling a stone close to the cliff’s edge and urging him to sit. Then they took up station, one on his right, the other on his left, and interlaced their fingers beneath his elbows.

Moses nearly wept with the relief to his screaming muscles, but all the more to his troubled mind. No longer would he have to bear the burden alone.

As the sun reached its zenith and then began to fall, the three men – two standing, one sitting with arms raised – created a dramatic tableau on the mountainside. Through the dust of battle in the valley, the warriors of Israel lifted their eyes from time to time to the sight above and fought all the harder for their brothers beside them and the God whose rod Moses held, and whose streams still cascaded in a waterfall to pool below. Slowly, inexorably, they pushed back the Amalekites, and as the sun fell below the horizon, the raiders turned and fled into the desert.

On the mountainside, Moses rose stiffly. His arms ached as he, Aaron, and Hur gathered more stones, adding them to the stone on which he had sat throughout the battle. An altar rose. When it was finished, Moses lifted his arms one last time and proclaimed its name, his shout reverberating down to the victors below.

“Jehovah-Nissi! God Is My Banner!”


Battle Debrief

God will never lead you to a place where He can’t provide for you.

God may lead you to place of testing, testing your trust and faith in Him. Instead, Israel tested God!

Surrounded by enemies, lift up your eyes to the Rock.

God brought them water out of the Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. He is our source of sustenance.  If you need refreshing, look no further than Him!  If there was another water supply they would have looked to that, but with no other recourse they had to look to God.

Water from the Rock - Cross

Don’t be surprised if the site of your greatest blessing becomes the sight of your greatest battle.

This was Israel’s first battle where they had to fight themselves. Somewhere between the Red Sea and Rephidim this nation of ex-slaves had forged themselves some swords! God will fight for you, but He sometimes expect you to take up the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

The Devil attacks the weakest and tries to drag them away. We have to go to war for them on our knees, and go out to win them back.

We need to lift up the hands of your leaders. No one can bear this burden alone.

We need to stand together to win the victory!

The battle was the Lord’s. With man is an arm of flesh, but with God is an arm of power. He is Jehovah-Nissi, God our banner.

Isaiah 59:19  So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.

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Surviving Haley – An Egg-Cerpt Exchange

Today it’s my pleasure to feature Brenda Baker’s Young Adult Christian novel Surviving Haley as part of the Egg-Cerpt Author Exchange.

 

Here’s a snapshot of the book.

 

What if your mistake is unforgivable?

Lauren Werthman struggles with guilt and depression. Even moving to another state and into a new home doesn’t help her overcome the life-altering aftermath EggscerptExchangeof losing her sister.

Memories of the tragic accident reverberate through her life as her family tries to cope, but Lauren’s life spirals out of control. Her mother criticizes her choices every day, her father continues to work later and later, and people at her new school seem to know the family secret. 

Lauren binge-eats, has nightmares, and doubts the existence of a God Who didn’t intervene to prevent the senseless tragedy.

As Lauren’s family and friends work through the pain and guilt, will they find that even though the void will always remain, the power of forgiveness brings peace and hope and a bright future, or will Lauren forever be lost to the pain and guilt?

 

Wondering what Brenda’s writing style sounds like?  Read on for a brief excerpt:

Out in the hallway, I joined the human current heading for my next class, gym. Even that didn’t seem so bad, since a sugar-induced high had kicked in. Weaving through the crowded hallway, I hung a right and …Oh, God, the smell. Chlorine. A swimming pool, behind a glass wall, next to the girls’ locker room. All that water. Splashing sounds.

My legs stiffened. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t bend my knees. Someone was whimpering. Was it me? The floor seemed to float out from under me. The lights were too bright, the white tiles too shiny. I was afraid I’d pass out, or worse, puke. When I tried to scream, the sound died in my throat, the same way it had that day. Run. Now.

 

Character interview with Lauren:

1. Nickname: the antagonist calls her “Lard Butt”
2. Job: high school student
3. Level of schooling: high school freshman
4. Birthdate: September 14th
5. Birthplace: Minnesota
6. Currently residing in: Nebraska
7. Favorite type of pet: dog
8. Favorite place to visit: a park
9. Significant other: boyfriend, Jonah
10. Most important goal: to forgive herself for her sister’s death
11. Worst fear or nightmare: a recurring dream about the day her sister died.
12. Favorite food: chocolate
13. Wealthy, poor, or in between? In between
14. Secret desire or fantasy: to be popular without changing herself in order to belong.

Surviving Haley is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

 

Brenda’s Bio:

Brenda lives in Nebraska with her husband and a stubborn husky. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hanging out with family, reading, traveling, camping, golfing and swimming. She’s working on a new YA story about a sixteen-year-old girl who finds herself homeless after her mom loses their house to foreclosure.

You can connect with her on her website, her blog, Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads!

 

Thanks Brenda for sharing with us today! God bless your writing ministry to young people.

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The Lord is a Man of War

With heads held high for the first time in years, Abraham’s family marched out of Egypt. God’s plagues had wracked Egypt and freed them from slavery. A smile lit every face, and hope was in the air. Led by a mysterious pillar of cloud, they were on the way to the Promised Land Moses had told them about!

Infected by their parents’ high spirits children ran about, dodging among the great herds of sheep and goats, horses and camels. At the banks of the Red Sea the nation on the move drew up. Some wondered why the cloud had led them to this place where the sea blocked their path in both directions as far as the eye could see, but all were grateful for a chance to make camp.

Fathers started fires and mothers took the opportunity to bake unleavened bread from the kneading troughs bound on their backs. The flat bread was poor fare, but a festival atmosphere prevailed. They were free! The once-small band now numbered in the millions, as numerous as the sand of the seashore on which they stood.

Then they saw the dust cloud. One by one people began to straighten and stare off to the west, the unleavened bread forgotten in their hands. Slowly, the dark line at the base of the cloud grew clearer, resolving itself into shapes. War chariots. Hundreds of them. Horsemen by the thousands. Marching infantry stretched from horizon to horizon.

A long wail of collective fear began to rise throughout the camp of Israel. “Oh LORD! We’re going to die!”

Angry, fearful Israelites rounded on the grey-bearded prophet who stood in their midst. “Moses, is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.”

Moses lifted up his voice, his words ringing out over the congregation. “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”

Moses bowed his head in prayer. How could his people already have forgotten all the wonders the LORD had worked in Egypt? “LORD, where is their faith? Oh LORD, save us once again from the Egyptians!”

The reply came back, clear and sonorous, though heard only within. “Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward. But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it, and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.”

As the LORD spoke to him, Moses watched the cloud before them lift. Heads turned upward to stare as it moved overhead and then settled behind them, creating a wall of mist that obscured the Egyptian army from view.

“And I behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians,” the LORD continued, “and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.” The power in God’s words fairly vibrated within Moses. “The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.”

Moses smiled grimly. Once Pharaoh had asked him, “Who is the LORD?” If he still didn’t know after all the plagues Jehovah had brought upon Egypt he was about to find out once and for all.

Night was falling, and now a glow began to rise from the cloud to light the camp of Israel. It was as if a fire burned in its depths. In that crimson light, Moses climbed onto a rock overlooking the Red Sea. Once he would have feared to step out in faith, believing for the impossible. But he had seen too much to doubt the LORD’s word now. He lifted his rod and stretched his hand out over the sea.

At first it was just a breeze from the east, then the wind began to rise until it was blowing in with such force that it raised whitecaps out on the water. Moses’ beard whipped his face and he had to brace himself to keep from toppling from the rock on which he stood. The wind rose until it was flattening the waves, throwing them back in great plumes of spray, pushing and driving the water until it had cleaved a deep channel through the midst of the sea. Still the wind blew until the muddy sea bed was dry. Then it died, leaving an eerie stillness.

Everyone stood and stared disbelieving at the sight before them. A mile-wide path had opened through the sea. On either side the water towered to the sky like the walls of Pithom and Raamses.

“Go forward!” Moses’s voice was a roar. The people looked at one another, hesitating to step into what only moments before had been a raging sea.

Shaking his head, Moses sprang down from the rock and made his way to where his people formed a solid line along what had once been the sea shore. Pushing through the crowd, he stepped down into the sea bed and stamped his foot. Dust rose. The people gasped and stared, then surged forward.

The nation of Israel flooded the path through the sea, filling it from one watery wall to the other. Sheep and goats bleated, cows lowed, carts and wagons rumbled. Children tried to skip rocks along the walls of water on their right and left. They squealed with delight as their parents pointed out fish swimming right up to the invisible barrier restraining the sea to stare at the interlopers with wide eyes.

“Look Father, that one’s all spiky!” one little girl shouted. Spotted, spiny, and striped, large and small, the sea creatures filled the sea with a riot of vivid reds and yellows and deep blues and greens.

As the last Israelite stepped onto the sea bed, the glowing wall of cloud rolled in behind them, still separating them from their pursuers. Though it was muffled by the mist, those at the rear of the great column could still hear galloping hooves, tramping feet, and rumbling chariot wheels. They hurried on.

On the other side of thRed Sea Egyptianse cloud, the dim light of dawn illuminated a sight that made the Pharaoh order his charioteer to draw rein. The wall of mist was receding through the midst of the sea. The sea bed had become a broad plain walled in on three sides by water and cloud. For a long minute Pharaoh stared, his mind struggling to comprehend what his eyes were seeing. This could only be the hand of the Hebrews’ God, the same hand that had devastated his land with plague after plague. The same God that had killed his firstborn son.

A red rage rose in him, grappling with his gut-deep fear. There was something so ominous about the way those walls of water rose on either side. Like two halves of a trap ready to snap shut. But judging by the position of the cloud in the midst of the sea the Israelites were only half-way across. This Jehovah could not yet bring down the walls of water without destroying his own people. There was still time to catch them if he took only his fastest troops.

“Sound the pursuit,” he ordered his signallers. “Chariots and horsemen forward at all speed! Infantry to halt here.” Banners waved and trumpets rang out over the assembled host. With shouts and the crack of reins and whips the vast squadron of chariots and wings of cavalry swept down into the sea bed, Pharaoh’s golden chariot in the lead. They picked up speed, closing quickly on the slow-moving cloud.

Pharaoh smiled through gritted teeth, his knuckles white on his war bow, an arrow ready on the string. He balanced lightly in the chariot, riding the bumps with the ease of long practice. In minutes the flying crescent of chariots that led the way would burst through the feeble barrier of mist and begin their slaughter of the escaping slaves.

A sudden impact threw the Pharaoh forward to crash into his driver. The chariot slewed violently and then began to skid. He cursed the charioteer as he struggled to his feet, thinking the man had hit a rock and torn off the wheels. Shouts of alarm from all sides drew his attention and he looked around wildly. Chariot wheels were spinning away on all sides as though plucked from their axles by an unseen hand. The fighting platforms skidded along the ground or tipped on their sides to be battered to splinters as panicked horses charged ahead with wild eyes and snorting nostrils. The cavalry couldn’t draw up in time and crashed into the shattered chariots, horses and riders tumbling with cries of fear.

“Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians,” someone in the milling, screaming mass shouted, and then the headlong charge became a full-Red Sea Moses and peoplefledged rout.

As the last Israelite stepped onto the far shore, Moses heard God’s voice once more. “Stretch out thine hand over the sea that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.”

As the sun burst over the eastern horizon, the cloud lifted to reveal the fleeing Egyptian host. Moses stretched out his hand over the sea.

With a roar, the sea burst through the invisible barrier that had been holding it back. From north and south it closed on the Egyptians like the jaws of a trap. Moses caught one last glimpse of riders flogging their horses into a desperate gallop before the surging waters dashed them from their feet and rushed over them.

As they watched the Egyptians wash up on the far shore Moses and Israel burst into spontaneous song.

“I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.

The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.”

***

The Israelites quickly forgot all that God had done for them. Surely the 10 Plagues on Egypt were fresh in their minds. God had kept every promise He had made to them and brought their slave-drivers to their knees, yet now at the first sign of trouble they lost faith and began to wish they had stayed slaves under their masters’ whips. This is why God constantly told them to set up memorials: Aaron’s rod that budded, the pot of manna, the memorials in the Jordan River bed and beside it.

How quickly we too forget what God has done for us in the past. We too must build memorials and keep record of the great victories of the past so when we face present problems we can look at past victories and gain courage and faith.

Red Sea backpackMoses said to stand still; God said to go forward. Moses spoke out in faith even before God had given him specific instructions or promised him victory for this specific battle. But while Moses told the people to stand still and then cried out to God, God told him to command the people to go forward. They couldn’t fight and they couldn’t part the sea, but they could march!

Don’t just stand around waiting for a miracle when God’s told you to march. You can’t save anyone, but you can pray for them and witness to them. You can invite them to church. You can give them a ride. You can teach them in Sunday School. You can teach them a Bible Study. You do the walking, and let God do the fighting and the sea-parting! He can make a way there there is no way. Not just a path, but dry land!

The cloud was both direction and protection for Israel. That cloud symbolized the presence of God and the Spirit of God. It both led them in the right direction and became a wall between them and their enemies. Notice, that God led them into a precarious position for a purpose. He intended to show His power one last time against Pharaoh and his army.

God’s Spirit will never lead you into a place where it can’t also protect you. We must allow the Spirit to lead us. If we walk in the Spirit it will guide us in the path that will bring the most glory to God. And it will protect us from sin and the attacks of the Devil.

The LORD fought for Israel against the Egyptians. Even the Egyptians realized this by the end and fled. This is one of the greatest battles and victories of the Bible, and yet God didn’t make the Israelites fight in this battle. Later He would expect them to fight, but this nation of newly-freed slaves wasn’t organized and ready yet.

When you’re faced with a battle that is too hard for you, God will fight for you. God knows how to deliver the righteous out of temptations and trials. God specializes in deliverance. Like Israel, he wants to bring us out of slavery to sin and make us a nation of kings and priests that will show His power to the rest of the world.

Do you have a story of miraculous protection or deliverance you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it!

Introduction to The Bible’s Greatest Battles series.

Ride with Abraham’s 138 servants to rescue his nephew Lot.

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“Liberty” by Kim Headlee – Eggcerpt Exchange

 

This is an EggcEggscerptExchangeerpt Exchange with fellow author Kim Headlee, who writes historical fiction along with a plethora of other genres. Today we are privileged to a sneak peek at Liberty, Kim’s award-winning historical fiction novel set in the Roman province of Britannia.

Plot Summary:

They hailed her “Liberty,” but she was free only to obey—or die.

Betrayed by her father and sold as payment of a Roman tax debt to fight in Londinium’s arena, gladiatrix-slave Rhyddes feels like a wild beast in a gilded cage. Celtic warrior blood flows in her veins, but Roman masters own her body. She clings to her vow that no man shall claim her soul, though Marcus Calpurnius Aquila, son of the Roman governor, makes her yearn for a love she believes impossible.

Groomed to follow in his father’s footsteps and trapped in a politically advantageous betrothal, Aquila prefers the purity of combat on the amphitheater sands to the sinister intrigues of imperial politics, and the raw power and athletic grace of the flame-haired Libertas to the adoring deference of Rome’s noblewomen.

When a plot to overthrow Caesar ensnares them as pawns in the dark design, Aquila must choose between the Celtic slave who has won his heart and the empire to which they both owe allegiance. Knowing the opposite of obedience is death, the only liberty offered to any slave, Rhyddes must embrace her arena name—and the love of a man willing to sacrifice everything to forge a future with her.

Liberty-Kim-Iverson-Headlee-award-winning-historical-romance-SmallpicAnd now, a glimpse inside the book!

The door shut with a terrifying clang.

“Sir!” She clutched the cold bars, failing to bleed the raw panic from her tone.

The guard paused with the key in the lock.

A hundred questions clamored for release. Every one started with, “Why?

He frowned as if trying to discern what she’d asked. She wasn’t sure herself. “Why the lock?”

’Twould do, for a start. She nodded.

He scrunched one shoulder. “Lanista Jamil’s orders.” He twisted the key. The lock engaged with a loud click. “For all warriors—gladiators. And you, Gladiatrix.” He withdrew the key, hooked the ring on his belt, and stepped away.

“May I know your name, sir?” It felt ungodly strange asking that of a captor, but she hoped to reclaim a hint of humanity in this inhumane place into which the gods had thrust her.

“Vederi,” he said without breaking stride.

He had disappeared from sight before she realized he hadn’t bothered to ask her name.

So much for humanity.

She sank onto the cot, head in hands and heedless of the straw poking her thighs through the mattress’s canvas cover, and sobbed out all the rage, fear, despair, and grief that had harried her for the past fortnight, feelings pride had forbidden her to show the soldiers or the slaver or her new owner or his servants or even that pampered Roman—especially him—denying them all the chance to wield those emotions against her. Pain as visceral as a blade’s thrust sliced into her gut. She dropped to her knees and pressed her cheek to the wall, painting it with her tears and pounding the cool slate with the heel of her hand.

“Da, how could you!”

Each futile thump knelled like another nail driven into the coffin housing the remains of her freedom.

“Da!”

Intrigued? I know I am! Get your copy of Liberty via Amazon, B&N, Nook, Kobo, or Smashwords.

 

About the Author

Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, Great Pyrenees goat guards, and assorted wildlife. People and creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins—the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-twentieth century—seem to be sticking around for a while yet. She has been an award-winning novelist since 1999.

You can connect with Kim on her Amazon author page, her blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

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Abraham’s 318

 

The man who burst into Abraham’s camp looked more dead than alive. He ran the last few stumbling steps and then collapsed at the patriarch’s feet gasping. “Help, my lord!”

Abraham waved a hand, and a servant offered the man a waterskin. He drew hard on the spigot, coughed, then drank again. His breathing began to settle, and he nodded in gratitude.

 

Abraham drew him to his feet. “What is it man? Speak.”

Still breathless, the man poured out the story. Four kings from Mesopotamia had been collecting tribute from the king of Sodom and four other cities in the Jordan Valley. For twelve years, Sodom and the other cities had paid, but the thirteenth year they had rebelled. Then this year the four kings had invaded and ravaged the land.

“They’re unstoppable!” he said. “They’ve even defeated the Rephaims, the Zuzims, and the Emins!”

A murmur ran through the servants crowding around Abraham and the messenger. These invaders from the east had defeated three races of giants!

There was more. These four kings under Chedorlaomer had also defeated the Horites in the mountain fortresses of Seir, smitten all the country of the Amalekites, and also conquered the Amorites. Finally, flushed with victory, they had descended on the city states along the Jordan Valley.

“We went out and fought them,” the man said, a haunted look in his eyes. “I’ve never known men to fight like them. They are devils! We fled. Many fell into the slime pits and perished. I managed to escape back to Sodom, but the kings followed hard after us. They took the city by storm and looted it, taking men, women, and children as slaves and carrying everyone away. I was one of the few who escaped.”

Abraham stroked his beard and shook his head. “I am but a peaceful sojourner in this land. The wars of nations and battles of kings are none of my concern.”

“There’s more,” the man said. “They took your brother Lot.”

Instantly, Abraham’s visage changed. Turning to his servant Eliezer, he began snapping orders. “Arm the men. Saddle the camels. We will pursue them.”

Abraham’s servants looked at one another. They had heard everything the refugee had said and knew their master intended to battle the combined armies of four victorious kings. Giant killers. Conquerors of nations. Yet none of them raised their voice in protest. None refused. As Eleazar began issuing swords and shields, bows and quivers of arrows, each man stepped up to take his weapons. Familiar weapons. Weapons worn by years of training. Today, for the first time, they would be used in actual combat.

A finger of smoke rising skyward beckoned the warrior servants. Abraham stood before the smoking altar, wind tugging at his white beard, sword belted on, hands raised to the sky. As the men coalesced around him, one by one they added their deep male voices to his until a rumble of prayer filled the air. The words of praise and worship to Yahweh were as familiar to them as the swords and bows they held, honed at innumerable altars they had raised to dot the landscape throughout their travels.

Abraham’s voice rose above the rumbling words. “Almighty Yahweh, possessor of heaven and earth, we pursue after these kings and armies far beyond our power to overcome. We fight not for spoil, but for my brother Lot and his family.” His voice shook with passion. “Deliver them from slavery and death, O LORD, and I will take naught of the spoil, not even a thread or a shoelatchet.” His voice rose to a shout. “Yahweh, grant us victory!”

The warrior servants, weapons raised, echoed the prayer until the air over the camp rang.

With the air still ringing and the smoke of the sacrifice still rising, three hundred and eighteen men swung onto their camels and followed the white-bearded patriarch north. As they rode, another group of riders approached, bristling with weapons. The servants cheered as they recognized their allies Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre. The augmented force surged on.

The pursuit was long. The armies of Mesopotamia were several days ahead, but the enemy moved slowly, weighted down by spoil and slaves. Abraham and his men followed the trail of destruction in their wake. Overdriven lambs who died and were abandoned to scavengers and wolves. Villages pillaged and fields burned. Captives who could not keep up the pace and fell by the roadside. Abraham swung down to examine each body, whispering a prayer of thanks each time it was not Lot. They followed the circling carrion birds and plumes of black smoke northward, pressing hard to close the gap.

Their camels moved at a steady lope, eating up the distance. Hour after hour passed. They ate and drank in the saddle, stopping for nothing. Half a day passed and even the youngest and strongest of them ached to the bone, but still the eighty-four-year-old man at their head pressed on, and they followed. By nightfall they had traveled over a hundred miles.

They could tell that they were gaining. Huts still blazed. Bodies were still warm. Man sat straighter in their saddles and checked their weapons. The moon rose. And then they saw the enemy’s camp, its fires like a constellation of stars against the black horizon.

Abraham drew up and held a short war council with Eliezer, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre. “We cannot fight a pitched battle against so many. We will divide and attack them now, in the night. We must confuse them. Make them think that we are more numerous than we truly are. We will drive them before us like cattle before the herdsmen and force them to abandon their captives.” The men nodded, faces shadowed and grim in the dim moonlight.

Swiftly, Abraham divided their small force into three bands. As he did he cautioned them to strike down only those wielding a weapon. “My brother is in that camp,” he said. “He must not be slain.”

Their camels’ padded feet made no sound as the three bands manoeuvred into position on three sides of the camp.

“For Yahweh!” Abraham cried. His sword swept forward and he kicked heels to his camel. Then all was a cacophony of wildly-shouting riders as the attack drove home.

Cries of alarm rose from the camp. Men sprang up from around campfires and boiled from tents, scrambling for weapons. Arrows whistled home, blades flashed in the moonlight, and men fell. Before the enemy could mount an organized defense, Abraham shouted an order and his men wheeled and broke free of the encampment.

Already, some of the enemy were running for their horses and galloping madly north. Abraham shouted and his men charged again. The men of Shinar had formed a hasty shield wall, backlit by burning tents, but the mounted warriors struck them from three sides and shattered their formation before breaking off again. The battle became a rout.

In the light of the fires, Abraham could see some of the enemy dragging bound men, women, and children across their saddles before pounding north. He caught a glimpse of Lot and his wife before they were obscured by the dust of the fleeing army.

“Pursue them!” he shouted. “Drive them hard!”

From three sides, Abraham’s forces harried the men of the east, picking them out of their saddles with arrows and rushing in to cut down the outliers and stragglers. One by one the panicked men began dropping their captives, freeing their mounts of the extra weight. For twenty-five miles Abraham and his allies pursued them, until at last, as dawn broke, Abraham saw Lot fall to the sand. He drew up his camel and flung himself from the saddle to run to his nephew. A slash of his sword cut Lot’s bonds, and then Abraham hugged him with fierce strength.

“You came for me,” Lot said, amazement in his voice. “Even after I–”

Abraham cut him off. “You are my brother,” he said. “What else was I to do?”

***

Though Abraham was a man of peace, still he prepared for war. The training he gave his servants was not only weapons training. The word ‘trained’ used in Genesis 14:14 can also mean ‘catechized’. Everywhere Abraham traveled he built altars, and no doubt he gathered his servants to these sacrifices and as the smoke rose he began to say, “Yahweh is the Almighty God. The all-powerful God. The ever-present God. The only true God.” So when these warrior servants rode out behind their master they rode with the assurance that Yahweh would fight for them.

We too, need to train with the weapons that God has given us. The shield of faith. The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Consistency in godly disciplines alone can prepare us for the battles we will inevitably face in life. In the same chapter that Paul told Timothy to endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ he also said this:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth

not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

(2 Timothy 2:15)


Battle Debrief

Abraham pursued until everything stolen was recovered and every captive was freed. From the point where he first attacked the Mesopotamian armies at Dan till the point he broke off the pursuit at Hobah, near Damascus, was approximately 25 miles. This after a grueling chase of 125 miles from Hebron to Dan.

We must fight and pursue the enemy until we have recovered everything and everyone the Devil stole. This does not mean we pray through at a single altar call, or pray for a lost loved one a time or two, or witness to a friend once or twice. This means consistent pursuit until victory is total.

Abraham did not reproach Lot. His nephew had broken with Abraham and chosen the best land in sight. He had pitched his tent toward Sodom, then moved into the city itself, inexorably drawn by the allure of that immoral society. Yet Abraham didn’t blame him, refuse to help him, or castigate him when he had rescued him. Twice Lot is referred to as Abraham’s brother, even though he was actually his nephew, and it was when Abraham heard that his brother was taken that he decided he had no choice but to fight against the odds.

We must fight for our brothers and sisters, and welcome them back with open arms. It’s easy to feel hurt and betrayed when those who have been so close to us seem to turn their back on us and the faith we have shared. But the Devil has carried them away captive, and God calls us to fight for them in prayer and welcome them back when they return without reproach or blame.

Abraham took no profit from his victory. When the king of Sodom offered to give him all the spoil as a reward for his bravery Abraham refused, citing an oath he had sworn to the Lord that he would not take “from a thread even to a shoelatchet.”

We don’t fight for profit or glory. We shouldn’t pray just to get bragging rights. We shouldn’t fast so people will think us spiritual. We shouldn’t read our Bible so we can say we’ve read it through five times this year. We shouldn’t witness so we can pat ourselves on the back. And when victory comes we shouldn’t attribute the glory to our own efforts, but to God. As the priest Melchizedek said,

Blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand.

(Genesis 14:20)

Matthew Henry, in his concise commentary on the entire Bible described Abraham’s victory this way:

“All things considered, it was, for aught I know, as great an instance of true courage as ever Alexander or Caesar was celebrated for. Note, Religion tends to make men, not cowardly, but truly valiant. The righteous is bold as a lion. The true Christian is the true hero.”

The land that Abraham had been granted by God he now had title to by conquest. Looking back in time, the prophet Isaiah would describe Abraham’s victory this way:

Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his foot,

gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings?

he gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow.

(Isaiah 41:2)

Notice the prerequisite for victory. God called Abraham to His foot. When Abraham bowed before God’s footstool and placed himself under God’s authority, God in turn could place all of Abraham’s enemies under his feet. Do you want victory today? Heed the call of God to His foot.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

(James 4:7)

For the introduction to “The Bible’s Greatest Battles” click here.

 

Or witness God’s ultimate victory over Egypt from the shores of the Red Sea.

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The Bible’s Greatest Battles

The Bible is full of accounts of great battles. Who can forget the crumbling walls of Jericho or the asymmetrical contest between David and Goliath? Yet some believers today may be squeamish about such bloody victories. They may struggle to reconcile the God of love and grace with a God who commanded the utter destruction of Jericho’s populace and crowned as king a young man who beheaded a giant with his own sword. I believe, however, that we miss a crucial and empowering aspect of God’s nature when we ignore His affinity for war. After all, as Moses and Israel sang at the edge of the Red Sea when they saw their former slave-drivers washed up dead on the shore:

The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.

(Exodus 15:3)

            The great battles of the Bible were not recorded simply as matters of history. Many battles and wars were never recorded. Those that did make it into these hallowed pages through the inspiration of the Spirit were not written to glorify war or titillate our desire for action and excitement. I believe that like the rest of the Bible these battles were included for a very specific, divine purpose.

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,

that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

(Romans 15:4)

            “What instruction can we possibly receive in patience from accounts of battles?” you might ask. “What comfort could we possibly gain?”

My answer? “Plenty.”

Patience means patient endurance of hardship. There is no greater example of this principle than the life of a soldier, a fact which prompted the apostle Paul to write to Timothy,

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

(2 Timothy 2:3)

            What about comfort? WhaWalls of Jerichot comfort can we draw from stories of great battles? I ask you, what greater comfort can we gain for life’s ongoing struggles than to witness the God-empowered triumphs of our forefathers in the faith?

Make no mistake. We are fighting a war every day of our lives. Ignore that fact if you will, but you do so at the peril of your soul. It is my prayer today that this series of posts bringing the battles of the Bible to life and applying their principles to our lives will inspire you to strap on your armor, take up your sword and shield and take your place on the battle line. Join me on the battlefields of the Bible if like Paul – writing from a Roman dungeon under shadow of the executioner’s sword – you want to be able to say one day:

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.

(2 Timothy 4:7)

Now, ride with Abraham’s 318 warrior servants into the first recorded battle in the Bible.

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