Thanksgiving is coming up this Thursday! It's one of my favorite days of the year because it is a day when we can all actually stop and devote a whole day to thanking our Creator for the many blessings that He has given us.
Here's a few interesting facts on the holiday to remember as you feast, pray, fellowship and give thanks.
The Mayflower anchored in the New World on November 11, 1620 after 66 days at sea.
That first winter of 1620 was terribly difficult. They lived out of the ship until houses could be built, but having arrived just as winter was setting in left them with precious little food, and no time to establish themselves. The pilgrims began to ration what food they did have, and at one point each person was only allowed 5 kernels of corn per day. Half the group perished that first winter.
Spring brought help for the pilgrims. The Lord granted the pilgrims favor in the sight of the native tribes and they signed a peace treaty. The natives also helped them learn to plant foods that would grow in the American climate.
Fall of 1621 brought a good harvest, and the pilgrims were very grateful to the Lord for blessing them with their native American friends and a good crop. To celebrate, they held a three day feast with the Wampanoag people. This is what is traditionally called "The First Thanksgiving."
What are you grateful for this year?
Today I am participating in a First Wild Card blog tour! This organization helped me out with the release of The Healer's Touch, so I'm joining in on a few of their tours too. :)
I was blessed enough to receive a complimentary copy of Diana Wallis Taylor's new book Ruth Mother of Kings. I excitedly downloaded it onto my Kindle Paperwhite and started reading. :)
Diana is a masterful storyteller. She really pulls you into the atmosphere and setting of the story. You can almost taste the juicy figs, smell the lamb stew and hear the bleating of sheep in your ears. I enjoyed how she portrayed Ruth's life in Moab with her grandparents and Orpah. She also did a masterful job in showing Ruth's pain and fear of being barren, and the reproach that it brought upon her and upon the family name when Malon dies without an heir.
Diana did a wonderful job at showing the beautiful relationship between Ruth and Boaz, but I would have liked to see more of the relationship between Naomi and Ruth. However, I think Diana captured the personalities of Ruth and Boaz perfectly. I really loved the way that she portrayed the importance of the kinsman redeemer as well. She did such a great job at showing what it really meant, not only to Ruth but also to Naomi, to be fully redeemed; to be fully restored to their former station and wealth. It really left an impact on me.
Diana took a very interesting risk with Ruth Mother of Kings. The story portrays Ruth as being a Reubenite, however the Biblical text is very clear that Ruth was a Moabitess who was disdained by the people of Bethlehem because of it. The story of Ruth as the Gentile Bride is one of the most beautiful depictions of Jesus Christ and His mercy and redemption towards the gentiles, so this kinda put a damper on the book for me. (Diana does offer an explanation of why she did it this way at the end of the book, so you can make your own determination on that.) There is also a scene in the book where Malon comes to Ruth alone in the field to see if she'd be willing to be his wife. This scene really disappointed me because a good-standing Israelite like Malon would never risk such a thing. According to the law of Moses, both of those individuals could be stoned for fornication if they were caught alone like that, so it seemed historically inaccurate to me.
In short, Ruth Mother of Kings was a delightful read with beautiful descriptions and masterful storytelling. I give it four stars.
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
Today's Wild Card author is:
and the book:
Whitaker House (October 1, 2013)
***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Visit the author's website.
SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
The story of Ruth has captivated Christian believers for centuries, not least of all because she is one of only two women with books of the Bible named after them. Now, Diana Wallis Taylor animates this cherished part of the Old Testament, with its unforgettable cast of characters. She describes Ruth’s elation as a young bride— and her grief at finding herself a widow far before her time. Readers will witness the unspeakable relief of Naomi upon hearing her daughter-in-law’s promise never to leave her. And celebrate with Boaz when, after years as a widower, he discovers love again, with a woman he first found gleaning in his field. The story of this remarkable woman to whom Jesus Christ traced His lineage comes to life in the pages of this dramatic and unique retelling.
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (October 1, 2013)
Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Ruth sat with her brother, Joash, on a small rug in the neighbors’ courtyard, listening fearfully as the adults discussed what to do with them. Ruth wanted her mama. Why would they not let her see her? Was she still sick? Her papa had tended her for several days and told them not to disturb her. No one baked any bread for their breakfast.
She scrunched up her small face, her lower lip trembling. Yesterday, her mama would not wake up, and her papa began weeping and acting strangely. He struggled to stand up, and perspiration ran down his face. She remembered his words, spoken like he was out of breath. “Joash, you must help me. Take Ruth and go to the house of Naaman. Tell him I need his help. Stay there until I call for you.”
Joash grabbed her hand and almost pulled her to the neighbors’ house. She had been holding her mother’s shawl, and she wrapped it around herself that night as they slept in the neighbors’ courtyard. She could hardly breathe for the fear that seemed to rise up from her chest. Why would the neighbors not let them go home? Had Papa not called for them?
Everyone looked at them with sad eyes and whispered to one another. She clutched her mother’s shawl and turned to her brother.
“Why will they not let us go home?”
“I don’t know. Something is wrong.” He looked at a woman standing nearby. “We want to see our mama and papa.”
The woman answered quietly, “Children, your mama and papa are dead. You cannot see them…ever again.”
Ruth heard the word “dead.” A bird fell in their small courtyard one day, and her papa said it was dead. It lay on the dirt, unmoving, its eyes closed. She could not imagine her mama and papa like that bird. She turned to her brother again.
“Mama and Papa are dead?”
Joash nodded, tears rolling down his cheeks. He put an arm around her, and they clung to each other.
Naaman’s wife spoke up. “I have fed them for two days, but I cannot continue to care for them.”
“Do they have family elsewhere?” said another neighbor woman. “I have children of my own to feed.”
Naaman murmured, “Phineas has family near the Plains of Moab, outside Beth-Jeshimoth. He told me before he died.”
“What family? His parents? Are they still alive?”
There was silence. Then, “How would the children get there? They can’t go alone; the boy is only six, the girl almost four. Who would take them?”
“That is something to consider. It is a two days’ journey.”
Teary-eyed, Ruth turned to her brother and whispered, “Where do they want to take us?”
He straightened his shoulders and tried to sound very strong. “I don’t know, but do not be afraid, Sister. I will care for you.”
A couple entered the small courtyard and hurried up to the group that had been talking. The woman spoke. “We just heard about the parents. The mother, Timna, was my friend. Do you know what is to be done with the children?”
Someone said, “Naaman told us they have grandparents, outside Beth-Jeshimoth, but we don’t know how to get them there. They cannot travel alone.”
The man nodded, then said, “I will take them. My wife, Mary, will go with me.”
“But, Gershon, can you leave your shop for that long? It will take at least two days or more, just one way.”
“Ha’Shem will watch over my shop. It is the right thing to do. If they have family, that is where the children should go. I will prepare my cart and donkey.”
The first woman spoke. “May the Almighty bless you for your kindness, Gershon, and your wife also. It is a good thing you do. I will gather food for your journey. The other women in the neighborhood will help.”
Ruth listened to the women click their tongues and murmur among themselves.
“Those poor children were alone in the house with their sick parents for days before Phineas sent them to Naaman and his wife.”
“My husband wondered why Phineas had not come to work in three days.”
“The Lord only knows the last time they had eaten.”
“Both of the children are so thin.”
One of the other men spoke up. “What if you get there and find that the children’s grandparents are dead?”
“We will just have to trust the Almighty to guide us; we will pray that they live and that these orphaned children will be welcomed.”
Joash clutched Ruth’s hand tighter. “See? We will go to Abba’s family. They will take us there.”
Ruth, too frightened to speak again, could only nod, dried tears still on her cheeks.
Early the next morning, they were fed some lentil soup and fresh bread, and then Gershon and Mary took their hands and led them home, telling them they would now gather a few things to take with them. Mary clicked her tongue and sighed as she and her husband looked around the small house. “There is little of value here,” Gershon said. “The girl seems determined to hold on to her mother’s shawl.”
Mary glanced at Ruth. “It is a comfort to her. We must not take the bedding, because of their sickness. I will bring bedding from our house. Oh, Gershon, they were so poor. How did they live?”
“Evidently he made just enough to survive.”
Ruth, with her mother’s shawl still wrapped around her shoulders, clutched a doll made of rags that her mother had sewn for her. She looked around. There was no sign of her mama or papa anywhere. She watched her brother slip a small leather box out of a cupboard when the man and his wife were not looking. He put a finger to his lips and hid the box in his clothes.
When the cart was loaded, Ruth climbed in after Joash and settled in as the journey began. Never having ventured beyond her street, she looked about, wide-eyed, as they passed through the town.
“What is our town called?” Joash asked.
“It is Medeba,” the man answered.
His wife turned around in her seat at the front of the cart. “Have you not been in the town before?”
Joash shook his head.
“It is large. Your father made many fine bricks to build houses with.”
Ruth looked up at her. “I miss my mama.”
Mary sighed. “I know, child. Your mama and papa were so sick from the fever. They just didn’t get better, like so many others. But soon you will be with your grandparents.”
“Will they let us stay with them?” Joash asked.
There was a pause, and Mary looked at her husband. “Oh, of course. I’m sure they will be glad to see you.” She turned around again. “Have you ever met them?”
Ruth looked at her brother, and both children shook their heads.
They spent the night with some other families that were traveling. Gershon said something about it being safer to stay with a group.
Mary made sure Ruth and Joash were settled for the night and then lay down next to her husband. The two adults whispered to themselves, probably thinking that Ruth was asleep. She kept her eyes closed and listened in.
“Oh, Gershon, I pray that the grandparents are still there. What will we do if they are not?”
“We must trust the Almighty, Mary. I feel we are doing the right thing.”
“Then we will do our best, and know the outcome soon.”
“Timna was never well, from what I understand.”
Mary murmured, “If the parents of Phineas had a farm, why did he leave? Would he not work the farm with his father?”
“A disagreement of some kind. I don’t think the parents approved of the marriage. Medeba is a larger town. He probably thought he had a better chance of finding work there.”
She sighed. “Then the grandparents may not even know about the children?”
“It’s likely they don’t. Let us get some rest. We have many miles to cover tomorrow.”
Ruth yawned. What did it all mean? She was so tired. It was too much for her to understand. Moving closer to Joash, she settled down and, despite missing her parents, allowed sleep to draw her into its embrace.
Today I'm blogging over at the Stitches Thru Time Blog! Be sure to leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for some awesome prizes!
Howdy Friends! Amber Schamel here with our Tuesday History Tidbit. :)
Did you know that quilts may have been used as a secret code system?
The Underground Railroad was an amazing system. They used all sorts of methods to relay information, send signals, hide the 'passengers', and get them to freedom. Recently, a new method has come to light.
Click Here to read full post.
John the Apostle by Hans Memling
John the Beloved
John "the Beloved Disciple" was the brother of James (the Great) and a distant cousin of Mary, Jesus' earthly mother. John had a great ministry throughout Asia. He founded the churches of Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Thyatira. John was sent to Rome where it is said that he was cast into a large pot of boiling oil, but they couldn't burn the love of Christ out of John's heart and he was miraculously protected and escaped from the cauldron without harm. Seeing that John was divinely protected, Domitian banished him to the Isle of Patmos, where he was given the vision and penned the Revelation of Jesus Christ. When Domitian died, Nerva succeeded him and recalled John from the Isle. John returned to Ephesus where he lived out the rest of his days. John was the only apostle who escaped a violent death. This is very interesting given what Jesus prophesied about him in John 21:20-14
Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
James the Elder by Rembrandt
James the Great
James the son of Zebedee, the elder brother of John the Beloved was also a relative of Mary, because his mother Salome was Mary's cousin. It was not until ten years after the death of the first martyr, Stephen, that the second martyrdom took place, the martyrdom of James.
When Herod Agrippa was appointed governor of Judea, he wished to integrate himself with the Jews and in order to gain their favor he began a sharp persecution of the Christians striking specifically at the Christian Leaders. A man accused James and testified against him. James was then sentenced to death. However, as his accuser witnessed James' extraordinary courage and dauntless faith, he fell down at James' feet and begged for forgiveness, professed Jesus Christ as Lord and resolved that James would not wear the crown of martyrdom alone. Thus, about 44 AD, the accused and accuser were beheaded together for professing the name of Jesus Christ.
Philip by Peter Paul Rubens
Philip was the first to be called by the name Disciple. His ministry was in Upper Asia where he diligently spread the gospel. It was in Hilopolis, in Phrygia where he was scourged, thrown into prison and finally crucified around AD 54.
Question: Are you enjoying the series on the Apostles? What would you like to see me blog about in the future?
St. Matthew by Frans Hals
Have you ever wondered what happened to the Apostles after the book of Acts? For the next few weeks, we'll be looking at each of the apostles and what became of them.
*Note, I'm saying this as nicely as possible, but many of these great men died the death of a martyr, and is therefore violent content.
Matthew the Tax Collector
Matthew was born at Nazareth, the same village that Mary and Joseph were from, however his tax booth was located in Capernaum. Some say that he originally wrote his account of the Gospel in Hebrew and it was later translated into Greek by James the less. Matthew stayed in Judea for a time, sharing the good news of the Messiah, but later he traveled to Parthia and Ethiopia evangelizing and ministering to the people there. Around 60 AD in the Ethiopian city of Nadabah, Matthew was beheaded for his faith.
Traditional Painting of St. Mark
Mark (the Disciple)
Mark was of the tribe of Levi. It is supposed that he was converted by Peter. Mark served as Peter's scribe and writing down the gospel in Greek from what Peter saw and experienced. The Gospel of Mark is different from the others in that he portrays Christ more by what he does than by what He says. It has a vivid and direct style that leaves the impression of a familiarity with the original events. In Alexandria around the year of 63 AD, the heathens of the city became enraged at the success of the spreading of the Gospel causing people to turn away from their pagan gods. The people attacked Mark and was "dragged to pieces...ending his life under their merciless hands."
St. Luke by James Tissot
Luke the Physician
Luke the Evangelist traveled with Paul through various countries. Though Luke was not a firsthand witness of the life of Jesus, he had the opportunity to speak with many witnesses such as Mary (Jesus' earthly mother) and many others. Luke was a skilled writer. It is interesting to note that his account of the Gospel is considered to be the "highest literary quality" of all four Gospels. Luke also recorded the Acts of the Apostles from his own experience and firsthand testimonies. It is said that Luke was hanged on an olive tree by the idolatrous priests of Greece.
Had you heard about these stories before?
Which of the Gospels is your favorite?
Leave me a comment and let me know! I'd love to hear your opinion.
York on the hill where he earned his metals.
This week we're going to stray from the Civil War a little bit and take a look at one of America's great heroes.
Alvin York was drafted into World War One after his miraculous conversion to Christ (which is a different story). His past life as a drunk and violent man caused York to be completely against violence after his conversion, which presented a problem when he was drafted. He was expected to go kill the enemy, but he didn't believe in killing. After much study and prayer, York finally decided that he would go to war prepared to give his life for his country, but he wouldn't kill. It was this providential incident that changed his mind. During the conflict of the Muesse-Argonne offensive, York's unit was ordered to infiltrate behind German lines to take out machine guns. They had succeeded and captured a large group of German soldiers when suddenly more machine gun fire peppered their unit killing six of their men and wounding three others, including the officers in command.
Seeing that something had to be done or all of them would be killed, York then took an action that surprised all of his superior officers. While the rest of his men remained under cover, York worked his way across the ridge, without cover, in order to pick off the German gunners.
Despite direct fire from pistols and machine guns, York, killed twenty-eight German soldiers before the rest of them surrendered. He and his men marched One Hundred Thirty-Two German prisoners back to American lines.
When asked about this amazing incident, York replied: "A higher power than man power guided and watched over me and told me what to do."
This is a clip from the movie made about his exploits. One of our family favorites.
Next week we're going to have a special guest author with giveaways and interviews!
Rev Dr. Robert Ryland
During my research of the Prayer Meeting Revival, I came across this letter from the pen of Reverend Dr. Robert Ryland which he wrote to his son upon his joining the Confederate army. It contains so many interesting and powerful statements that I had to share some highlights with you!
At Home, July 17, 1861
My Dear Son:
It may have seemed strange to you that a professing Christian father so freely gave you, a Christian son, to enlist in the volunteer service. My reason was that I regarded this as a purely defensive war. Not only did the Southern Confederacy propose to adjust the pending difficulties by peaceful and equitable negotiations, but Virginia used again and again the most earnest and noble efforts to prevent a resport to the sword. These overtures being proudly spurned, and our beloved South having been threatened with invasion and subjugation, it seemed to me that nothing was left us but stern resistance or abject submission to unconstitutional power.
After going on to further explain his reasons for joining the cause, he proceeds to give his son a few pointers about his life in the army. Firstly, he told him to take special care of his health. Second, that he should obey his authority promptly and unquestioningly. His next point is a beautiful illustration of the usual perception (or rather condition) of the military. He continues:
3. Try to maintain your Christian profession among your comrades. I need not caution you against strong drink as useless and hurtful, nor against profanity, so common among soldiers. Both these practices you abhor. Aim to take at once a decided stand for God. If practicable, have prayers regularly in your tent, or unite with your fellow-disciples in prayer-meetings in the camp. Should preaching be accessible, always be a hearer. Let the world know that you are a Christian. Read a chapter in the New Testament which your mother gave you, every morning and evening when you can, and engage in secret prayer to God for his Holy Spirit to guide and sustain you. I would rather hear of your death than of the shipwreck of your faith and good conscience.
What great advice! There are a lot of other great tidbits in the letter, which I might include in a future post. But from this letter you can see the wickedness that the army was known for and how adamantly this father is exhorting his son not to fall prey to its vices.
At the outset of the Civil War, a lot of mothers were very concerned about sending their innocent young sons into the army. The army was known for drunkenness, carousing, gambling and countless other vile devices and many mothers dreaded that their sons would fall prey to its temptations. However, after the Prayer Meeting Revival set in, that changed. There are many, many stories of mothers who, after praying for their boys for years and years, sent them to the army and received them back as stronger, more religious men who no longer attended worship because their family expected them to, but because they truly wanted to.
In his account of the revival, Reverend J. William Jones recounts a story of one such lad. The boy's mother was terrified that her son would go into the army an innocent boy and through its "school of vices" emerge a foul man, but the revival fires got hold of that boys heart. Here it is in Jones' own words.
"The surgeons gave us no hope, but God spared him to reach home and linger for over six months to illustrate how a Christian soldier could be patient under suffering, and how, when he came to die, a smile could reign within his heart. The camp had not proven to him a "school of vice," but on the contrary he had learned there the preciousness of his mother's Bible, and had gone with simple faith to her Savior. And as the last hour drew near he met death with calm resignation, said to the weeping loved ones who stood around: "I trust in Jesus and am not afraid to die." And left, in his triumphant deathas well as in the peaceful hours of his later life, the fullest assurance that he went to join his sainted mother -- for she had gone before, a few weeks prior to his death -- in that brighter, better home above, where "war's rude alarms" never disturb, and loved ones never part."
The great Prayer Meeting revival was not just in the north. However the Confederacy did not have the resources to employ as many chaplains and ministers as the north could. Great Christian generals like Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Leonidas Polk Lee were instrumental in the great revival as well and did everything they could to promote and encourage it. In fact, Jackson even went so far as to refrain from battle on the Sabbath if at all possible so that the men could attend worship. There were several other generals that made that same commitment during the war. This revival is often referred to as being led from 'the top down' because of the influence that the officers held over the men.
According to William Jones' documentation of the Great Revival, nearly every southern brigade was affected by this movement and approximately 10% of the soldiers accepted Christ in the Army of Northern Virginia. Tracts and Bibles were not easy to come by as there was a limited supply, but the men were hungry for them! They would pass around the tattered and worn Bibles that they did have and night after night the men would gather for prayer, worship, reading of the Scriptures and the preaching of the gospel. If the opportunity presented itself, they would baptize in a nearby brook or pond, regardless of how cold the water may be.
One remarkable thing about this revival, is that it manifested changed lives. This revival was not just an emotional show inspired by hard times, but it led to real repentance and devotion. We'll take a look at some of the individual stories in the following weeks.
During this great revival, an estimated 100,000 Confederate and between 100,000-200,000 Union soldiers accepted Christ as their Savior. That turns out to be about 10% of the men involved.
Another interesting note, is that it was during this time period that churches started forming all over the south, specifically those of the Baptist denomination. This explosion of churches is what started the formation of what is known today as the Bible Belt.
Tune in next week as we take a more personal look at the Prayer Meeting Revival. Subscribe to email updates and get the posts directly to your inbox!
I had a very hard time picking the subject for this week's blog post, because there is such an abundance of stories to pick from! In America's history alone there are countless stories of the hand of Providence changing the situation miraculously. And we'll get to see some of those as we journey through HIStory together.
After lots of internal deliberation, I've decided to start with what I've been studying on. The American Civil War has long been my favorite era of history, and I am working on a novel set in that period, so along with that comes a lot of study and re-learning things I already knew from my school days.
One thing that most people don't know about the Civil War is the amazing revival that unfolded during that time. But this revival was much different than others because it was not started by great evangelists or preachers, but rather by a desperate people coming together to pray. That's why this revival has been coined as the Prayer Meeting Revival.
America in 1855 was in a very similar state to what we are today. We were on the point of despair, teetering on the ledge of financial and spiritual collapse. Banks failed, businesses faltered, and unemployment rates soared. But unlike today, Americans during 1855 turned Heavenward and pleaded with God for relief.
In New York, a minister by the name of Jeremiah C. Lanphier (pictured above) was struggling to keep his church from folding up entirely. He made great efforts to reach out to the community and invite them to church. Finally, on September 23, 1857 he placed a sign outside of his church which read: "Prayer Meeting from 12 to 1 o’clock -- stop 5, 10, or 20 minutes." At noon, the faithful minister started the prayer meeting with a church full of empty pews. Just when he thought he would be the only one in attendance, and that another one of his attempts had failed, people began to arrive. Six people were present for that first meeting. Those in attendance decided that they would like to come together again on Wednesday to pray. At the next meeting there was 20 people, at the next 40, at the next more until they were holding a prayer meeting every day with 3,000 people in attendance. One man starting a prayer meeting would develop into a mass national revival that saw over one million souls come to Christ, at a time when they needed Him most.
Next week we'll continue our study of the Prayer Meeting Revival.
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Amber Schamel was born in Littleton, CO and has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and the Holy Land. She was raised in a family of 11 children, home-schooled through education and currently works with their 10 family businesses. Amber is a multi-published author and currently lives with her family outside of Colorado Springs, CO..
(c) 2013 Amber Schamel