Category Archives: Biblical Characters

God Will Fight for Us

The Prophetess by Jill Eileen Smith - Cover

Woohoo! Double blessing. A book about one of my favourite bible characters and by a new writer for me to discover and tell you about. The Prophetess delivered an inspiring story crowned with biblical truth accentuated with brilliant jewels sparkling of contemporary relevance.

Deborah was a judge, prophetess, and warrior. A courageous heroine for her time. Wise and strong. A woman used mightily by God to bring victory to her nation. A captivating icon larger than life beckoning to know more about who she was and what it must have been like to be a female leader through troubled times.

Yet the Bible provides few details about the life and times of this influential woman who changed the course of history. Questions like how did she become a judge? What made her stand out as a prophetess? Did she become a mom at some point? What circumstances brought together the supporting actors, like Jael, the woman who cleverly dealt the final fatal blow, into the drama that would restore peace and holy reverence to God’s chosen people? Questions this book rises up to address.

At first, I wrestled with how much the novel leaned towards the author’s imagination. By the time I turned the last page I felt satisfied and came out with a richer understanding of that period in history and the God who never gave up on the very people who turned away from Him.

Main characters, such as Deborah’s children, were completely fictitious, yet purely believable. They may not have truly existed but were fleshed out true to life. Their lives embodied the hopes and dreams, challenges and fears typical of their generation. In fact, Deborah’s made-up daughter, Talya, was my favouite character.

Maybe things didn’t play out exactly as penned by Jill Eilleen Smith but no doubt she painted an accurate, colourful portrayal of the situation under Canaanite oppression and idolatry. I found she did her homeowork and presented a credible storyline that evoked faith and compassion.

When I went back to the biblical text to compare, I got so much more out of it. What happened became real and alive in powerful ways. Jill’s persuasive narrative in sync with the bible account unveiled a clearer vision of Deborah’s role, of what being a judge in those days entailed, the horror of terrorism, and the jealous God who commands our allegiance and is forever faithful.

Ultimately, this book pointed to the God who forgives, redeems and restores. Back then and now. It spoke to my heart reminding me that victory came to Israel after 20 long years of oppression. It may take years for God to work things out for you and me too. In the meantime, He goes before us preparing the way, equipping us with everything we need for success according to His will.

Like the people in Deborah’s time, even in our darkest hour, we can recall how God has never let us down in the past. We can trust Him to keep His word today. No matter what we are up against or the challenges we face, God will fight for us. He will never leave us nor forsake us. Never.

Disclosure: Many thanks to Revell Publishing for the invitation to be part of The Prophetess Blog Tour and the complimentary book in exchange for this unbiased review.

I am a hope writer

The day I met Jesus

The Day I Met Jesus Cover - Frank Viola & Mary DeMuth What if you could step into the pages of history and experience first-hand the effect Jesus had on people while He walked the earth? That’s exactly what you can count on throughout The Day I Met Jesus. The authors transport you into the first century latched onto stories of five broken women and their encounter with the Lord of healing, redemption. and grace.

Your journey takes off with biblical narratives written as diary entries from an adulteress caught in the act, prostitute who loved extravagantly, multiple divorcée currently living in sin, defiled, isolated patient with an incessant flow of blood, and a friend who was one of Jesus’s much-loved disciples.

Each one masterfully prepares the scene where we get to live in their skin; see things though their eyes, feel what they felt. Their first-person account brings you to a better understanding of who they were and what their lives must have been like. Each word pointing to that moment in time that changed everything, setting the stage for us to eavesdrop on their transforming encounter with Jesus. Words that paint, in living colour, what it means to be loved, forgiven, restored, healed. As we slip into their shoes, we detect footprints of someone we know much like them and catch glimpses of ourselves. Their stories, though experienced long ago, contain a timeless universality that seamlessly joins past events to present relevance.

As I came to know those women from their perspective, I was eager to overlay their memoirs onto the Sacred Text that immediately follows. Comparing their reflections with the Gospel made what took place more real, vivid and meaningful. Even more so with the Walking it Out section that concludes the chapter. That’s where it’s our turn to meet Jesus. Where the authors zoom in on more insights and finer details of the culture, lifestyle and beliefs at the time of Christ. They also put together the Talking it Over questions at back of the book to help us interact with the biblical narrative on our own or in a group setting,

The Day I Met Jesus reveals how there is so much than what meets the eye. Things I never thought of before. Like how was it the accusers just happened to catch that woman in adultery? That Mary of Bethany who brazenly sat at Jesus’s feet, boldly poured expensive perfume over His feet, quietly held back defending herself against disapproval. It was a real eye-opener when the authors pointed out the unlikelihood the Samaritan woman, marred with a stained reputation, would be taken seriously when she returned to her village telling people about her exchange with Jesus. Yet, they followed her back to see for themselves and were subsequently converted. Clearly, they noticed something different about her.

I loved the way this book captures how the Jesus who touched the lives of those women wants to do the same for you and me. Forgiveness, grace, acceptance and boundless love are ours. Today. Here and now. Sins, mistakes, hurts washed away to make room for life redeemed and free. Shame is wiped away and new life springs forth. Once we  meet Jesus, our lives will never be the same again. Just like the five women.

I met Jesus in a new and powerful way through this book. I think you will too.

I meet Jesus a lot in the words of Holley Gerth and am delighted to link us up today to share some encouraging Coffee for Your Heart together.

Disclosure – Many thanks to BakerBooks for the complimentary copy of the book in exchange for this unbiased review.

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image

I Have Heard your Prayer…

She was hardly someone we would rush to invite to dinner. After all, wasn’t the shame of an empty womb painful enough for Sarah without Hagar taunting her with contempt? And that kid of hers Ishmael! Was it really necessary he mock and make fun of his half-brother Isaac? Rather nasty I’d say. No wonder they found themselves on the run and the eventually evicted from Abraham’s household.

But I have to admit my heart goes out to them whenever I read about how they wandered aimlessly in the wilderness. Rips my heart to bits imagining the scene:

When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush. Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. “I don’t want to watch the boy die,” she said, as she burst into tears.  ~ Genesis 21:15-16

Brings me to tears too. Obviously moved the heart of God as well. True to the “God hears” meaning of Ishmael’s name the Lord …

…heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, “Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.  Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.” ~ Genesis 21:17-18

Their needs reached God’s ears and He saw every tear fall. In desolate wilderness Hagar started referring to God by the name “You are the God who sees me” because she knew first hand how He sees, He listens, He cares, and He responds. It held true for a lowly servant girl and her wayward son. It held true as He assured royal King Hezekiah years later:

I have heard your prayer

The same holds true for me and you this very day. And always.

Isn’t it comforting to know that whatever we are going through, we are never out of God’s watchful eye? We are not alone. Our heavenly Father is looking after us and will see us through. One day, one moment at a time.

As I read 2 Kings 20:5 recently I remembered the time peace washed over me as “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears” echoed in my heart like a voice from heaven. I just knew it was God speaking to me and the tears stopped. My prayer is that those words do the same for you whenever you cry out to God or cry your heart out. That your heartache will be replaced with peace, your tears washed away with joy, and you feel the love and presence of God who hears each prayer and sees every tear.

One of the most beautiful stories of God hearing our prayers and seeing our tears is about a couple on their knees longing for children and a girl without parents who just wanted to be loved. Our loving Father who listens with His heart wide open answered their prayer and silenced their tears when He brought them together in an unexpected way. Holley Gerth is the mamma in this circle of love and shares more about it in a way that will encourage you and move you to tears…the good kind. You’ll also see Mary, the mother of Jesus, in a new light as her words bring comfort for when your hopes seem to be on hold.

Oh yes, and there’s more. Lovelle Gerth-Meyers, that child who ached for love just got married Jan 3.  Her What My Wedding Meant to Me will touch your heart beyond words as she pours out  “It was about God, His ability to answer even the craziest of our hearts’ desires, and His ability to redeem.” 

Yup! Sometimes God gives us each other as an answer to our prayers and tears. That’s why I love linking us up  to Holley’s site where we gather together for Coffee for your Heart made with love, encouragement and the promises of God.

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image

Branching Out from God’s Family Tree

The New Testament opens with the genealogy of Christ beginning with Abraham the father of the Jewish race. Luke goes even farther back in his account of Jesus’s ancestry, tracing His heritage all the way to Adam, father of the human race. Erasing all doubt that the babe born in a manager is indeed the long-awaited Messiah. The promised One who came down from heaven to save all people everywhere.

This year, I made a surprise connection with a branch in Jesus’s family tree. We get giddy that the humble carpenter’s son stems from the royal lineage of great King David, the mighty warrior who slayed a giant with his slingshot. The anointed one after God’s own heart. Did you realize that as a descendant of the tribe of Judah, the King of Kings also came from the bloodline that began with Leah? Leah, the rejected wife, not so beautiful or desirable like Rachel, Jacob’s chosen one. She was unwanted by her husband, but not abandoned by God. Not even for a moment.

Shoot Growing Out of Dead StumpA shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. – Isaiah 11:1

The tree of Jesse rooted in neglected soil. Out of a what seemed like dead wood emerged the saviour of the world. The seed of redemption sown in the brokenness of a woman who questioned her worth. Her blood beating through the heart of God Incarnate.

Got me thinking about how the Lord uses and redeems us. Are you feeling shunned, forgotten, passed over, unloved? Not capable enough, pretty enough, clever enough; not enough of this or that, too much of something else? Hold onto this truth. The God who lifted Leah out of obscurity to become the Queen Mum to the King of Kings is looking out for you.

You can hold your head up high because you are a precious child of His Majesty God Almighty, co-heir to His kingdom with the Prince of Peace. He has crowned you for a glorious life in His service. Your value is beyond measure.

The hope of Christmas means you can take your rightful place in history. Our Lord plans to accomplish great things through you as you live out the distinct purpose only you can fulfill. Rejoice! The difference you are making here and now will branch out and extend beyond your lifetime. Beyond your wildest dreams. More than you can imagine.

You really are God’s gift to the universe. A gift that comes to life every time you open up and shine the light wrapped inside your heart. The light that no darkness can conceal. The light of goodness, patience, generosity and faith. The light of love for all the world to see.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory
of the Lord rises upon you. ~ Isaiah 60:1

Yup, we are all part of God’s great big family and it’s so grand when get together. Like we do each week at Holley Gerth’s site for great company and the best Coffee for Your Heart this side of heaven. 🙂

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image

I Am the Answer to My Mother’s Prayers

Hi, my name is Samuel. You may have heard stories about how God called my name in the middle of the night, the time I anointed David, the runt of the litter, as King over Israel, and my stint as judge and prophet. I’ve had fame, good fortune and a rich life. They even named two books in the bible after me. But the superhero of my life story is my incredible mother, Hannah. That’s where it all began.

Actually, it’s a shame how things got started. Literally, a real  shame. You see, before I was born, she was plastered with the sting and shame of being barren. What made it worse was how my dad’s other wife, who had plenty of children, taunted my mom mercilessly. It hurt so bad she couldn’t eat. The day she went to the temple desperately crying out to the Lord for a child she was so distraught the priest thought she was drunk. But God heard her plea that day and answered. God Hears - Hannah - Coffee for Your HeartAfter leaving her request in God’s hands she went home no longer sad and began to eat again. When the time was right, Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to me. God heard her prayer and answered. No more empty womb. No more shame.

How about you? Is there a prayer you’re waiting for God to answer? He hears you too. He leans to catch every word and every tear drop. You may not get the child, marriage, opportunity, or result you’re hoping for, but He will take away any shame from what you’re going through. Guaranteed. If you let Him. No matter what has happened or not to you, what you have done, or how others treat you, you are precious in the sight of the King of Kings; His treasured possession. He loves you and will show you the truth. There is nothing to be ashamed of.  You are valuable, useful, and good. You may never bear a child, but with His help, you will bear much fruit. The fruits of love, goodness, peace, joy, compassion, wisdom, mercy, grace and much more.

Know what else is awesome about my mom? After I was born, she burst into her prayer of grateful praise and gave me back to God. Like she promised. That’s right. After all those years of childlessness, she dedicated my life to the work of the Lord, without fanfare or resentment. I can only imagine how tough and gutsy that must have been. And God rewarded her. With five more children. She went from being desolate to joyfully blessed.

Happens all the time doesn’t it? We turn our hopes, dreams, loved ones, gifts, and concerns over to our heavenly Father and our trust gets rewarded. Blessings are multiplied, our joy is increased, and we are lifted from the depths of our sorrows. We let go and receive His peace. Then go on to be a blessing to others.

So go to Him. Tell Him what’s on your mind. Ask Him for anything at all. He’s waiting to hear from you. And is ready to answer.

You’ll find more heartful words poured out at Holley Gerth’s place. So hop on over for a generous helping of love, encouragement, and inspiration by the cupful as you link up with the Coffee for Your Heart Community.

Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart Image

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image


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