Great Christian fiction and fantasy!! I loved both the first book “Prophet” and now book two “Judge.” These allegories tell of the life of a prophet and those who give their lives to the “infinite.” Set in a medieval setting with swords, kings, lords, and servants, “Judge” continues the story of a young prophet and the man who loves her. You will see a retelling, in a new way, of some stories from the bible, such as: Jonah and the fish, and some of Elijah’s, and Jeremiah’s stories. R.J. Larson is one of a new favorites of mine. Fun fantasy, yet still a good message. Great for teens and up, no swearing and no sexual content. I give it 5+ stars.
Can a King be a servant?
When Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, became king of Israel, after God had promised to divide the kingdom due to Solomon’s idol worship, he was faced with an important decision. How should he rule his people? His father began humbly asking God for wisdom to rule the people, but ended up in all kinds of pride, self-centered catering to his every whim and ultimately turning away from God, (though he did come to repentance at the end of his life). Rehoboam also starts out with some wisdom, he asks for advice. First he asks the older counselors who sat under his father. We can see their reply in I Kings:
I Kings 12:7 (NASB), “Then they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to this people today, and will serve them and grant them their petition, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.”
Unfortunately that is the end of his wisdom in seeking counsel. Next, he goes to the young men he had grown up with. Just reading their answer makes me cringe:
I Kings 12:10-11 )NASB), “The young men who grew up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you shall say to this people who spoke to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, now you make it lighter for us!’ But you shall speak to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins! ‘Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’”
How do you follow in the footsteps of the wisest, richest man ever? According to his son, you rule the people with an iron fist, in their face, and demand total submission. Sounds like a good plan, right? The Israelites cried out and turned against the house of David. From that day on, the kingdom was divided between Judah and Israel, two kingdoms and two kings. You can continue reading in I Kings and in II Chronicles if you want to see how that all ends.
My point is that we cannot lead by force! Jesus never did. He led by example. He never demanded that people follow him. I can just picture Him with a big smile on His face and a friendly hand on Matthew’s shoulder saying, “have you had your fill of this mundane life, how about walking away from collecting taxes and come with me?” or what about Peter and Andrew, James and John, same smile, same call from a friend, “put down those nets, and lets go catch some souls!”
Jesus is a King, He serves. Why? Because that’s where The Father’s heart is, helping people. God’s desire is that our lives are better. So, each one of us are called to be servants. Jesus repeatedly talked to His disciples about being servants and serving others. When the multitude was hungry and the disciples wanted to send them away, Jesus told them to feed them. At one time, after hearing them argue about who was the greatest, He said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” (Mark 9:35).
We all lead. At least we are supposed to. We might not all have a leadership position at work or at church, but we are parents, we have friends and family, we are part of a community. How are you leading? Our Senior Pastor always says, “Leaders must go there first. Leaders must do it first.” That sounds pretty simple. If we want our community to be more loving, friendlier, then we need to be more loving and friendly. If we want our church to be debt free, we have to give our money. If we want our co-employees to stop talking like they live in a gutter, watch what you say.
We don’t have to be a walking bible to witness and change our atmosphere; we just have to live right. Living like the world never got a single person saved. Our faith during a hard time, our expecting good when the world expects the worse, or support and prayers during someone else’s crisis, all show a relationship with a Savior. How we act matters.
If you are in a leadership position, don’t follow the advice of the young men Rehoboam grew up with! Don’t lead like his father, Solomon, who only cared about his chariots, his palaces, his riches, his pleasure, and his foreign wives.
Look again at Jesus. Why do we commit to follow and serve Him forever? Because, He first served us. He treated us kindly; He showed us mercy, and most of all He gave up His life for us.
When is it right for a king to rule with force? When the people rebel. There will come a day when the King of Kings will come in His power and glory to show Himself as The King to the whole rebellious and hard hearted world.
Revelation 19:11-16 (KJB), “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
I for one, want to know Him as the King who serves those He loves. The Mighty Warrior King from the book of Revelations is the King who protects and defends me. I will never have to be on the other side of His righteous anger! Praise God!
As leaders, there may be a time to correct and discipline, and even a time to cut loose. However, it’s never our place to try and take the place of God. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He is the One to carry out punishment. As I have said so many times before, we would mess it up. Leave that to God and lead with the motivation of building The Kingdom, not your kingdom. Have a servants heart, the heart of God, and those who follow your lead, will serve The King forever.
After all, isn’t that ultimately where we are leading…to The Father?
My second devotional is now available in my store, on amazon and on smashwords.
“Deeper Still -was quite a unique Christian devotion it was very informative and yet very interesting and not a heavy intellectual devotional either! So, I would give her ebook five stars! I feel like I had even learned and benefitted from it even though I had know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior since the evening on Sept. 16th of the year 1971. And I had been able to be in places where I would learn and grow spiritually, too!
I recommend this book for new born again Christians and for any who feel the could use a refresher course of basic Christian teachings. I received this ebook free in exchange for a free ebook to read and do reviews on as well as to learn more about God’s Word, We can never learn too much, right from God’s Word, especially while on planet earth with all the evil going on about us, right? Great work Jodi! By Angela”
Last book! “The Earth Dwellers” finishes off two series by David Estes: “The Dwellers” and “The Country” sagas. It all comes to and end in this one book with all of your favorite characters, at least the ones who lived through the adventures. I love these books. They are well written, quirky and funny, yet serious and thought provoking at the same time. Dystopian at it’s best. Great for ages 13 and up as there is no swearing (other than some made up words) and no sex. Strong loyalty and morals, lots of action, including violence and fighting. There is some romance, not cheesy or sappy at all. I am sad to see the story end and was thrilled with the free short stories at the end. Great Job! 5 solid stars!(
Psalm 33:11 (NIV), “But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”
Isaiah 14:24, 27 (ERV), “The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand…For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? And his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?”
Do you ever feel like you just can’t get with the program? You make plans, set goal, only to have them thwarted again and again. You end up feeling like a failure with a big “L” stamped on your forehead (for loser). Well, you’re not alone! And there is probably a good reason why.
You see our plans are not the same as God’s plans. His are better. Way better. If we could just get a glimpse of a portion of them, they are as many as the sand on the earth, we would be blown away. So He reveals bits and pieces to us and then expects us to obey and walk in faith. Our plans may seem good, but if it doesn’t line up with God’s plans, it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12). Have you ever heard the saying, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions?” Or what about this saying originally from Scotland, made famous by the poet Robert Burns, “and the best laid plans of mice and man often go awry.” Both of these sayings are very biblical.
Proverbs 19:21 (Holman Christian Standard Bible), “Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the LORD’s decree will prevail.”
It’s pretty simple really. God gets to do whatever He wants. I for one am glad. I would mess it up, and so would you. We don’t see the end from the beginning. God sees the whole timeline. He dwells outside of time. He sees everything, the whole of existence at once. So, I think we can agree, He probably knows what’s best for us. In my opinion, if we could see our lives as a movie, after we pass away, it would be filled with missed opportunities, missed blessings, wrong roads, and wrong choices. (Hopefully, we won’t have to watch that, after all He promises no more sadness and no more tears).
Isaiah 46:8-10 (NIV), “Remember this, keep it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”
How do we know if a man’s plans line up with God’s? If I can quote another old saying, “the proof is in the pudding.” Puddings were baked, and full of eggs, if the oven was jiggled, or the pan not handled carefully, the pudding would collapse into a pile of mush. The Apostle Paul says it this way, when faced with some complaints about the actions of some people who’s motives were in question, “Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” Acts 5:38-39 (NIV).
We should take confidence in the fact that God’s plans are unstoppable. Sure, we can choose not to go His way. But, His ultimate plan for His creations will come to pass. His plan for salvation and redemption will take place. His timeline will come to His expected end. Hebrews calls this confidence our “anchor.”
Hebrews 6:17-20 (God’s Word Translation), “God wouldn’t change his plan. He wanted to make this perfectly clear to those who would receive his promise, so he took an oath. God did this so that we would be encouraged. God cannot lie when he takes an oath or makes a promise. These two things can never be changed. Those of us who have taken refuge in him hold on to the confidence we have been given. We have this confidence as a sure and strong anchor for our lives. This confidence goes into the [holy] place behind the curtain where Jesus went before us on our behalf. He has become the chief priest forever in the way Melchizedek was a priest.”
The beginning of verse 19 in the Amplified Bible says it this way, “[Now] we have this [hope] as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whoever steps out upon it—a hope]”
That, my friends, should be reassuring. It should also prompt and motivate you to know His plans for you. The Bible and sound teaching will tell us God’s general will for our lives. The Holy Spirit will give us specific instruction. Make sure you make sure that it is the Holy Spirit. God tells us to try the spirits. If what you are hearing doesn’t line up with God’s word it isn’t His Spirit. For example: if you think you hear the Spirit of God telling you not to give to your local church, we know that isn’t God’s plan, for He tells us in several places to bring in our tithes and offerings. It is a command of God. If you aren’t sure, seek godly counsel. Not someone younger, or more immature in the things of the Lord, seek counsel from those who live a committed life, who are in relationship with the Father. With two or three witnesses things are established. The Holy Spirit is one.
So, what will it be?
Your stoppable, changeable, messed up, misinformed plans?
I was given a copy of “The Island Collection Complete” through Story Cartel (http://storycartel.com/about), in exchange for an honest review. I “liked” the story. The writing style was easy to read. The theme runs through all three dystopian books, basically a “book” from each society was misconstrued and taken as Holy writ. I found it humorous that one of the books was a journal of a 10 year old boy who used a Star Wars notebook, and wrote about the “force.” Parts of the book reminded me of “Lord of the Flies,” and parts reminded me a bit of David Estes’ “Dwellers” series. Each book can be read as a stand alone. In fact there are some repeated scenes in books one and two, to keep you informed. If you are reading them back to back, it is a tad repetitive. A good read. I would read more by this author. I don’t recommend for ages younger than 16. There is implied sex between teens and some swearing. Though there isn’t a lot of “real” swearing, most of it is made-up swear words, there is some strong language. I give it 3 stars.
We throw words around so carelessly in the United States. It seems every generation accumulates more slang. (Sometimes I feel like a need a dictionary of slang just to understand what is being written on social media). One word that we love to throw around is the word “love,” pun intended. We love our friends and family, our pets, the deer that run through our back yard. We “love” sunsets, beaches, libraries, and the color green. We “fall in love,” “fall out of love,” and for some “love” is a word they use to get something they want, with no regard for the other person. We even “love” hotdogs, the Packers, that cute new purse, our dog, actors, famous people, our boat, and our home.
So, what do we really mean when we use that word?
I know that there are different types of love. The Bible clearly talks about them. I guarantee you; none of them include love for inanimate objects, food, or clothing. The Bible also tells us that God is love. I think it would be smart to look at Him to see what love really is. What does God love?
Well, He loves people. Good people and bad people. His love isn’t the sappy, fake, shallow love of this world. He loves in a way that has nothing in it for Him. No strings attached. It doesn’t depend on anything, period. Nothing or nobody can change that fact. We can’t even stop it or change it. There are millions of people who don’t love Him, some who haven’t so much as heard of Him, and others have believed the lies told about Him, but He still loves them. Talk about a one-sided love affair. In fact God loved us all so much, when we didn’t love Him, that He sent His Son to die for us.
John 3:16 (NET Bible), “For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
The Bible goes on to show us more about this kind of love:
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11 (NIV)
Romans 5:6-8 (NIV), “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
John 15:13 (NIV), “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
I John 3:16 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English), “By this we know his love toward us, for he gave his Life in our place, and it is right for us that we would give our lives for the sake of our brothers.”
That simplifies the question of what love really is, doesn’t it?
What do you really love?
What would you give your life up for?
Would you die for a hotdog?