Anne Elisabeth Stengl weaves a great fairytale/allegory in her “Goldstone Woods” series. Each book is a stand alone, but with each one we see more of the back story and how things began. The immortal characters are introduced, or re-introduced to us and we find out how they came to either serve the dragon king, or the Prince of Farthestshore. Well written, it sucks you into the story. You can’t help but feel like you are there and that you know each one of the characters. I loved “Starflower” as much as the others. It answered some of my questions about how some of characters in the first two books ended up where they were. After reading this one I found my self thinking, “oh, that’s why they called her that,” or “so he is the one the song was about.” I would give this book more than five stars if I could. No swearing or sexual content. There is violence and fighting, some scary images for youngsters. I recommend for teens and up. 5+ stars from me! If you like fantasy, but have trouble finding suitable ones for Christians, this series is it!
Wow, I loved this book! I thought book one was good (Heartless), but “Veiled Rose” is even better. The backstory is being told from some of the characters in book one. Still great fantasy, dragons, demons, princes and princesses, and good versus evil. Great writing, super well developed characters, and an epic story. Anne Elisabeth Stengl is easily one of my favorite fantasy authors. I give it five stars. Violence, no sexual content or swearing, some scary images so teens and up would be my recommendation. Great Christian Allegory!
Psalm 38:20 (Holman Christian Standard Bible), “Those who repay evil for good attack me for pursuing good.”
Psalm 109:5 (NIV), “They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship.”
Have you ever tried to help someone, it was even something laid on your heart by God, only to have it backfire? You poured out your love and in return they called your good evil, or repaid your good with evil? Maybe they slandered you, lied about the whole situation, tried to make you look bad? Maybe caused you some sleepless nights and some grief?
Join the club!
David is in this club. You can tell by some of the things he writes in Psalms. Some of his close friends and his very own family turned against him. They kicked him when he was down, shook their heads, and behaved as if they were ashamed of him. They lied about him. They returned his good for evil and his love for hate.
Jesus is in that club. He came to save God’s chosen people, along with the rest of us. Only to have them shake their heads, mock Him, and to call Him a liar and a blasphemer. People accused Him of everything, they still do.
Isaiah 53:7 (KJB), “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”
1 Peter 2:23 (NIV), “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”
I am a member of this club. I’ve paid my dues. Not on the scale of David or Jesus, but it didn’t hurt any less. I have had evil repaid me for the good I have done. I taught school for thirteen years. It happens in the classroom all the time. Students lie about their teachers to cover their cheating, poor work effort, etc. In almost every instance their smart parents brought it up during parent teacher conferences, and the students were found out. However, that didn’t take the sting out of what they said. Some of the parents spread the lies and chose to believe their children. Those students ended up leaving our school and things didn’t turn out so well. The others, fessed up, and still treat me with love and respect when they see me. I have had people live in my home, family members, abused wives, abandoned teenagers, and foster kids. Most of them left with attitudes and slandered me and my husband. The few who accepted our love and our wisdom still stop by, they call, and they come for holidays. One is officially part of our family now. As an elder in the body of Christ, I have people talk bad about me. Sometimes they misunderstood something; sometimes they are just trying to take the heat off of themselves. It happens.
We can’t stop helping others. For my husband and I, after several not so good experiences with sharing our home, we decided we were done. Then a visiting prophet spoke over us that we were going to open our home up to those who needed love and help. My husband was going to love them unconditionally, he is good at that, and I was going to impart wisdom and tell them what they needed to do to get their lives right. Needless to say, we weren’t thrilled with that word! I can laugh about it now, but it wasn’t funny at the time. We had just come out of an ugly situation where we had to have a sit down with about three families and our Senior Pastor due to the lies that had been spread about us. But God knows who and when we need to help. So we trusted Him. I now have a family member in our home. My husband does the love thing, and I am doing the accountability thing. So far this is looking like a good outcome.
David didn’t stop helping. He asked God for help. He resorted to prayer. He continually put his hope and his trust in God.
Psalms 109:1-4 (AMP), “O God of my praise! Keep not silence, For the mouths of the wicked and the mouth of deceit are opened against me; they have spoken to me and against me with lying tongues. They have compassed me about also with words of hatred and have fought against me without a cause. In return for my love they are my adversaries, but I resort to prayer.”
We can’t hold it against them, no grudges. We have to forgive and love them. Keep them in our prayers. Jesus forgave.
Luke 23:24 (NAS), “But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.”
Doing anything less gives Satan the upper hand. He is the one who tries to bring division in the Church and in families. We have to do what we know we are supposed to and know that God preserves those who fear Him, those who trust Him. He preserved David and his household, all the way through until His own Son, Jesus, sat on the throne of David forever.
Do we live as doormats and allow people to walk all over us? No. Jesus didn’t rail against the people or even open His mouth to defend Himself at His trial. That is true. But we cannot allow division in the Church, (Satan’s divide and conquer technique) and as a teacher I couldn’t allow disrespect in the classroom. Those things weren’t Kingdome building behaviors. I called every one of them on the lies. I went through proper channels, parents with the students, pastors with the adults. Most of the time dealing with it directly brings repentance and forgiveness, which is a wonderful way to restore relationships. It keeps unity. The Apostle Paul had to deal with some bad behavior. It’s part of being a family. I am pretty confident that every Pastor, teacher or anyone who has opened up their home to help others has or will get burned. It’s human nature. But we now have God’s nature and we need to rise above that kind of thing. We are warned by Paul to not give up.
Galatians 6:9 (KJB), “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
Love people. Help them. Be quick to forgive and slow to anger. Don’t hold a grudge, ever. Live like Jesus. Open your heart and if God calls you to, your home, and He’ll take care of the rest.
Romans 12:18 (Holman Christian Standard Bible), “If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.”
We no longer live under the law! We are free from the law! Isn’t that wonderful?
Romans 8:1-2 (NIV), “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
John 8:36 (NIV), “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Now we can do whatever we want. Right?
People use that as an excuse to excuse just about anything. There is still sin. We still live in a fallen world. As a child of God I don’t have to pay the penalty of my sin, but does that mean I can really just do whatever I want. Paul answers this question for us.
I Corinthians 10:23 (Holman Christian Standard Bible), “Everything is permissible,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up.”
What God calls sin, its still sin. Can I live with someone before I get married? Of course! Is that beneficial to my marriage? Absolutely not! I know we did it that backwards way. Can I live an alternate lifestyle? You bet. Will God bless that? Not a bit. There are some things God asked us not to do because He is Holy and He wants us to live Holy. Some things He has asked us to do, or not to do, because it is simply harmful to us or to others. Overdrinking, overeating, drug addiction, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and sexual immorality are all harmful practices.
Ok, so maybe you like some of those things that God says don’t do. What is my answer to that? If you love Him, really truly love Him, and you aren’t just doing lip service, you will want to please Him more than your flesh. Simply put: if you continue in sinful behavior, you are not in a true relationship with Him.
When we have surrendered our hearts to Jesus and let Him sit on the throne there, we change. Our way of thinking changes and our habits change. The more we read His word and spend quiet time with God, allowing Him to speak into our lives, the more we change. As we are being led by His Spirit, those ungodly desires just seem to fade away. I know from experience that it isn’t always easy, but it is best. God’s desire for us is a more wonderful, spectacular life than we could ever even dream about. Why would we want to keep doing things our own way and not surrender to His will?
What about all of those other people out there. They seem to do just fine living in the flesh and doing whatever they want. They blatantly live the opposite of the way God instructs us, and people applaud them for their honesty. How do we handle that?
We never accept sin. God doesn’t. However, He never stops loving them. We shouldn’t either. If I love them, do I have to ignore their sin? No! Just don’t beat them up, don’t beat them over the head with your Bible. Don’t call them names, ridicule, or belittle them. None of those things are loving. We need to make friends with people. We have to show them the love of God. The dividing line is if you start to behave more like them, than them behaving more like you. We can’t be everyone’s friend. It’s permissible or lawful, but not beneficial. Be honest, we have all had a friend at some point in our lives that used, abused, or influenced us in a bad way. Stay away from those people.
I Thessalonians 5:22 (Jubilee Bible 2000), “Separate yourselves from all appearance of evil.”
If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. We are supposed to separate (some versions say “flee”, others say “abstain”) from all appearance of evil. Does it look like sin? Does it taste, feel, sound, or smell like sin? Stay away.
Paul also tells us in I Corinthians 15:33 (NIV), “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” In verse 34 (NLT), “Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don’t know God at all.”
Paul likes to “tell it like it is.” I would probably be afraid of him, had I known him in person. Most of us are afraid of confrontation. We may be timid and too worried about what people think. However, Paul practiced what he preached.
Ephesians 4:15 (NLT), “Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”
So if you have surrendered your life to God, stay that way. Daily allow His Spirit to guide you. If you haven’t surrendered, please do. I promise, it is easier than kicking against the thorn. Just ask Paul. Are you friends with unbelievers? Be patient, live right in their sight, be generous and full of God’s love. Show them the father. Let God be your guide in when to cut the ties with an unrepentant friend and when to keep on working with them. He knows.
I was given a copy of “An Emerging Threat” by the author, Mark Lein, in exchange for an honest review. This was a good fantasy. The first in a series, it sets the foundation for the next stories. We are introduced to some of the characters, lands and peoples. Good writing, interesting plot. Classic story of good versus evil. I really liked it. I am looking forward to reading the rest. I can recommend to teens and up. I give it 4 stars.
If you are an author and would like me to review your book, please leave your information below with your request in the comment box. I will not review horror or erotica.
I really liked “A Warrior’s Redemption.” I was given a copy by the author, Guy Stanton III, in exchange for an honest review. It is unapologetically Christian. However the beliefs and the scriptures are all part of the story and does not come across as cheesy or trite. Several places inspired me to be more open and bold about my own faith! The story about an alternate society on another planet, founded by earthlings that fled before the flood. They have forsworn modern technology and live as in medieval times. The story contains fighting and battles of an epic scale. There is espionage, love, family, loyalty and lots of evil characters. Not a “chick” book. Can not recommend for readers younger than high school due to mature content. This is the first in the series, and I am definitely reading the rest.
The Shadow Rises was a fun read. Lot’s of twists and turns, some dry humor. The witches are evil, no white witches in this book. It was kind of a shadowhunters meet Hansel and Gretel. The writer leaves the story open for more. I would read the rest of the series. I was given a copy by the author, K. S. Marsden in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, I liked the story. I give it a solid 3 stars.