I was given a copy of “The Threshold of Eden” by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Wendy Isaac Bergin is a new author for me. Her writing style draws you into the story right away. This one is well written with characters you either love or hate. Flawed people finding friendship, forgiveness, and faith. I don’t agree with all of the Catholic doctrine, but this book is very heart toughing. Be prepared with some Kleenex. There is some mild swearing, no sexual content, and some violence. I can recommend for teens and up, though it is more geared for adults. I give it five stars, I loved it. Will be reading more of this author.
Ephesians 2:4-7 (AMP), “But God, being [so very] rich in mercy, because of His great and wonderful love with which He loved us, even when we were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of our sins, He made us [spiritually] alive together with Christ (for by His grace—His undeserved favor and mercy—you have been saved from God’s judgment). And He raised us up together with Him [when we believed], and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, [because we are] in Christ Jesus, [and He did this] so that in the ages to come He might [clearly] show the immeasurable and unsurpassed riches of His grace in [His] kindness toward us in Christ Jesus [by providing for our redemption]. For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].”
How many of us as children wanted to belong to a “club”? We put signs on our bedroom doors, or the latter of our tree houses that read something like, “for girls only,” or “club members only.” Maybe we even had a secret handshake or a password to get in.
Heaven has a password… no really. It is the same password that gets us victory over any circumstance and sets the enemy running. I am sure you guessed it by now. Our password is “JESUS”.
Now, not just anyone who uses that name is part of the club. Even He said that some would knock on the door saying, “Lord, Lord, let us in,” yet not be able to pass through. He said that just knowing His name isn’t enough; we have to know Him in a close relationship. (Luke 27, Matthew 25)
The good news is that this club isn’t for just a special group. It’s open to everyone and anyone that chooses to get to know their Creator, anyone who is willing to open their heart to His love. We don’t earn entry, there is no exam, no great quest, no change of behavior, no dress code, or any conditions whatsoever. Well, maybe one… admitting our need for Him. As soon as we realize we have messed things up all on our own, or just come to the realization that there is Someone who really, truly loves us, and we give up, then we belong to the club.
Ephesians 2 tells us that salvation, accepting Jesus’ work on our behalf, is a free gift! That we were actually created to be like Him, to do good works that God has prearranged for us to do. It tells us that we are seated in Heaven, right now! Not just getting to go there someday, no, at the time I am seated at my computer writing this, I am also seated in Heaven with Him. When I am working, driving, sleeping, and yes, even when I have a bad day and am nagging my husband, I am still seated there with Him. I have access to the Father through Christ’s shed blood. I am living from Heaven because I live there. Access to all the Father has for me has been granted. All I have to do is believe it and accept it.
Religion can’t do that for me, laws, rules, sacrifices, and bribes can’t do it.
Only a relationship with the Father can.
Ephesians 1:3-7 (KJB), “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”
His good pleasure? It was to pour out His blood to redeem us so that we can abide in Him forever. Jesus is in me, I am in Him and we are both seated in Heavenly places. No enemy can take me away from my home, no sin can keep me from my position. If I mess up, I fess up and plead the blood over my life. God sees His Son in me and forgives it all. We don’t have to be perfect, just honest and real before Him.
He loves us that much. I am adopted into His family. He calls me “beloved.”
I am going to try and set the record straight.
God does not hate anyone. Not liars, thieves, adulterers, murderers, rapists, child molesters, abusive people, transsexuals, homosexuals, Muslims, terrorists, politicians, idol worshipers, Satanists, cannibals, witches, warlocks, witch doctors, porn stars, prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, addicts, or crooked cops. He isn’t out to get anyone. He isn’t mad at people. He isn’t going to “punish” anyone, or even send anyone to Hell. If Hell is in our future it’s because we chose it instead of Him and Heaven. He doesn’t send us there. Contrary to popular opinion, God didn’t send His son to judge the world. The scripture that is touted at ball games, and on t-shirts doesn’t read, “For God so hated the world that He sent His Son to condemn it. This is what it really says,
John 3:16-17 (NASB), “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
Before you start spouting off Old Testament scripture, let me remind you that the only people Jesus railed at where the hard hearted, stiff necked, self righteous religious leaders of his time. (Four times in Matthew 23 Jesus says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!”) To the woman caught in adultery, He said, “Where is your accusers…I don’t accuse you…go and sin no more.” To Zacchaeus, the crooked tax collector, He said, “I must stay to your house today!” He ate with sinners, and people of bad reputation. The religious people of His day found fault with this, but His answer was that well people didn’t need a doctor.
Who needs a Savior? People who are broken, lost, and unable to face this world on their own. Who needs a redeemer? People who are slaves to their own desires, greed, lust, and those who have chosen to drown their sorrows in alcohol, or take a permanent vacation through the latest designer drug. Who needs the Truth? Those who have believed the lie that they aren’t loved, aren’t wanted, and aren’t worthy.
Those are the people He came for.
I know it is popular in today’s culture to say that all believers are judgmental and critical, and those are the nice things people say. Again let me set the record straight. Religion judges. Why? Because religion is based on our performance, how we can follow the rules and long lists of do’s and don’ts. That is NOT what Jesus came to do. He set us free from the law of performance. We could never do enough to earn our place in the Father’s heart or family. Jesus came for one reason, to show us the Father’s love. Those that say people who go to Church, or Christians are some of the meanest people they met, have simply been misinformed. Those people were religious people, not followers of Christ. Those who truly know Him, aren’t tolerant, tolerance means I don’t like you or what you do, but I will tolerate sharing oxygen with you. Followers of Christ, those who love Him, love others. Big difference. Love says, I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done, I will love you anyway. Love says, you don’t have to be like me, look like me, or talk like me, I can still love you. Religious people draw a circle and say, “stay out!” Those who love draw a circle and say, “come in, I have someone I’d like you to meet,” and then introduce them to Jesus and the Father’s love.
Religion sets laws, tells you how to live, who to love, and what do believe. Relationship gives you direct access to God’s heart. You don’t need someone to tell you what to do, you will know what pleases Him and because you will be overwhelmed by His love, you will want to please Him. Religion makes you look down on others and criticize. Relationship makes you compassionate and wanting to help others. Religion promises a reward for certain behavior after you die, relationship is full of blessings right now. Religion holds signs at a funeral that say, “God hates Gays.” Love comforts those who are hurting and treats people with compassion and respect. Law kills, love heals. Law was only ever instituted because of the terrible condition of man’s hearts. It was to keep us from harming ourselves and others. On the other hand, relationship with God had only one law. Love. That’s it. Love Him and love others. There is no performance. We love Him, accept His love and then He does all the work of changing our hearts and minds. It isn’t us trying to clean ourselves up, that’s what Jesus called the Pharisees on. He said they were “whitewashed graves” clean on the outside but full of dead man’s bones. A relationship changes us on the inside. His love convinces us of who He is and who we are. We are loved, and cherished. Even when we sin!
Think of the one person who personifies evil, living or dead.
God loves that person.
God loves us so much that He would never force us to do anything. He lets us choose to love Him, or not, to choose heaven or hell, to heal or to try to put a big bandage on the gaping wounds. His arms are open, He is attentively watching, and always listening for your call, be it a shout or a whisper.
Are you a stranger to God and always believed that yielding to Him meant following a list of rules? Stop believing the lie! He requires nothing but your heart.
Are you a “religious” person who has strived to live by a list of rules, or found little love for others in your heart? Stop believing the lie! You can’t make God love you less, or more by anything you do or say.
Ephesians 2:1-10 (NIV), “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (emphasis mine)
We live in dark times, but His light should be shining in us in such a way that people are drawn to it. We should be showing the Fathers heart.
His heart is full of love.
Ok, so I know I said book three was my favorite, but… this one is even better. The only bone I have to pick is that it isn’t the last book! The next one is supposed to come out sometime early 2016. Wonderful allegory that retells the story of God’s love and forgiveness through his son. Though the words “God” and “Jesus” aren’t used. Good writing, great fantasy with all the quirky characters including some beasts and creatures, and well rounded characters. No sexual content or swearing. There is romance and there is violence. Epic story of good versus evil. I give it five stars, loved it, and can recommend for ages teens and up (and any fantasy love, you do not have to be a Christian to enjoy this book!) While I am waiting for book five, I see the author has written a few “stories” about the White Road, so….
|Book three in the “White Road Chronicles”, “Emanate” is my favorite so far. I loved it. Great Christian fantasy, an allegory actually. Good storyline, characters are well rounded, several types of creatures and “beasts” are found in this story of the battle between good and evil and how even the seemingly most messed up person can make a difference. I give it five stars. No swearing or sexual content. The main character is a teenager, but most others are adults. There is violence and fighting, t Book three in the “White Road Chronicles”, “Emanate” is my favorite so far. I loved it. Great Christian fantasy, an allegory actually. Good storyline, characters are well rounded, several types of creatures and “beasts” are found in this story of the battle between good and evil and how even the seemingly most messed up person can make a difference. I give it five stars. No swearing or sexual content. The main character is a teenager, but most others are adults. There is violence and fighting, though nothing really graphic. I can recommend for teens and up. Though it has a Christian message and a story that follows the spirit of Christianity, it never mentions the familiar terms we use for God or Jesus. I think non-Christian fantasy readers would also love the book, just not see the true story.|
Book two in this series, “Luminosity” continues Aly’s story. Many great well rounded characters, including humans and creatures. Great Christian allegory about finding the strength to do what must be done for good to triumph over evil. Good writing. I am loving the series. No sexual content or swearing, there is violence. I can recommend for teens and up. Christian fantasy at it’s best. I give it five stars.
Isaiah 9:2-7 (NIV), “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned… For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”
Darkness. Not just turn off the lights, or lets go into that tunnel, or even a miner without his light, but spiritual darkness. Nothing is blacker, nothing is colder, nothing is as hopeless… until…
A SON was given. The Sun of God, the Light of the World, Immanuel (God with Us), was born in a manger. Not a hall of kings, the Hilton, or even a modest home of a blue collar worker, but in a stable, in a feed trough. “Humbly He came to the earth He created.”
What a great picture of love. A bonnie boy lying in those swaddling clothes. Two proud parents looking on in quiet admiration. Angels adoring, shepherds astonished, and a bright northern star shining in that dark night!
The angels sang a song that night… “Glory to God in the Highest!”
Does your day seem dark? Is your heart filled with sadness? Is hope an illusive thing? Take heart, take a peek into that manger, look on the Face of Hope!
A Son was given. He came, He lived, He showed us the Father’s love, He died, He rose again, He sits in Heaven, and He LOVES YOU!