Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Leap Into Books Giveaway

Find the list of participating blogs HERE and hop around.
Enter by leaving a comment below to win a digital copy of 
Seventeen-year-old Jedidiah was born with a gruesome deformity that causes him to drag his foot. He searches for acceptance through drugs and skateboarding. He sets his sights on becoming a champion skateboarder, but amputation, a mission trip and two girls challenge his dream. 

As he recovers from surgery, Jedidiah opens his heart to both girls. Can he rescue the one who needs him without losing the one he needs? And, faced with a second amputation, can he open his spirit to supernatural help?

THE GUARDIAN'S DIARY taps on the door of the paranormal while addressing adolescent issues and pushing against the world’s view of right and wrong. This is Young Adult Christian Fiction by the author of EDGE OF ESCAPE.
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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Building a Log Home in Under a Year

Last year I blogged about our log home building journey. I've put the entire adventure together into a 99 cent Kindle book, color pictures included, which chronicles all parts of the process. We were our own general contractors, living on site, responsible for coordinating about 30 sub-contractors and doing the easier things like sweeping sawdust or gathering fireplace rocks.

If you're interested you can find it HERE

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Book of Esther, part 3

In part 1 we saw how Esther became queen. In part 2 we saw that Haman plotted to annihilate the Jews. Now we’ll see that Esther thwarts Haman’s plans. Here’s chapter 7:

1 So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet, 2 and as they were drinking wine on the second day, the king again asked, “Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.” 

3 Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. 4 For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.” 

 5 King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing?” 

 6 Esther said, “An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!” 
   Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. 7 The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life. 

 8 Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining. 
   The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?” 
   As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. 9 Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “A pole reaching to a height of fifty cubits stands by Haman’s house. He had it set up for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.” 

   The king said, “Impale him on it!” 10 So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided. 

The Jews are saved and the feast of Purim is instituted (remember, pur means “lot”, so purim is the plural, essentially the feast is named for the lots cast that never came to fruition). (9:17-22). Modern Jews celebrate Purim on the evening of Adar 14 (in March). It is their most festive and popular holiday, but in 2013 it falls on February 24. Today!

(taken from Crossing the Scriptures, available in paperback or Kindle or Nook)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Teens in the Bible - Solomon

Chapter 6 Solomon as a teen

Solomon was just hitting his teen years when his father, King David, swore to his mother, Bathsheba, that Solomon would be king after him. Imagine having such a large kingdom thrust upon his pre-pubescent shoulders. Yet the boy was amazing. As soon as he was on the throne he had to deal with Adonijah, his half-brother. Adonijah had just put himself forward as king when it looked like King David was about to die. In fact, he was having a huge feast to celebrate when news came that his father had made Solomon his successor. The guests rose in alarm and dispersed. Adonijah, now afraid of Solomon, sent a messenger to him and asked that King Solomon would not kill him. Our young teen king replied, “If Adonijah is worthy, not a hair on his head will be harmed, but if evil is found in him, he will die.” Wow, that’s a pretty strong statement to come from young lips. We see Solomon’s maturity, strength, resolve, and power early on.
Before King David died he gave Solomon a charge: “Be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in his ways, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.” If only every father would give his son such perfect advice.

Teen Solomon was soon put to the test as his half-brother Adonijah made another bid for the throne by asking for the beautiful Abishag to be his wife.  (Abishag was the last woman to lie with David though the Bible tells us they did not have relations. Thus, taking her as his wife would give him some leverage in reclaiming the throne.) Solomon rightly surmised Adonijah’s plan and had him put to death. Again, I am amazed at how Solomon showed his wisdom.

Solomon also showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the statutes of his father David, as he was advised, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places. So the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered, “I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties … give me a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.” The Lord was very pleased with this request. I think most teens would ask for wealth and power and long life. God honored his request for wisdom and Solomon has long been known as the wisest person to have ever lived. Oh, and God gave him wealth and power and long life as a bonus.

(Next Saturday teen Esau and Jacob)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The book of Esther, part 2

In part 1 we saw Esther win the king’s favor and get crowned queen. Now there is a conspiracy being plotted by a man named Haman. The conspiracy is to annihilate the Jews (3: 1- 7):

1 After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. 2 All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor. 

 3 Then the royal officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command?” 4 Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew. 

5 When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. 6 Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes. 

7 In the twelfth year of King Xerxes, in the first month, the month of Nisan, the pur (that is, the lot) was cast in the presence of Haman to select a day and month. And the lot fell on the twelfth month, the month of Adar. 

We need to clarify some things here. King Xerxes may be identified as King Ahasuerus in your translation. Actually, Ahasuerus is the Hebrew translation for his Persian name and Xerxes is the Greek translation, the one he is better known by in history. Do you want to know his Persian name? Don’t ask me how to pronounce this: Khshayarsha. He was the Persian king who ruled an empire that ran from India to Ethiopia. Haman was one of his counselors, a wicked one at that. In fact, since he is identified in verse 1 as the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, some scholars think this implies that he was a contemptible, hateful man because Agagite literally means “fiery one”. We see in the passage above that Haman really got ticked when Mordecai (who had raised Esther) refused to kowtow to him. Hence he seeks revenge.

Haman cast the lot—pur is the Persian word for "lot"—to determine the day most favorable to wipe out the Jews (3:7-11). In the pagan world of the time it was unimaginable to make such big plans without astrological guidance. The lot was supposed to disclose the most favorable day for this act. The official casting of lots happened during the first month of each year to determine the most suitable days for important events. Haman cast lots in the first month and the lot fell on the 12th month, hence there was almost a year for preparation. God controlled the lot-casting (Prov. 16:33). Archaeologists have found quadrangular prism type dice at Susa which may be what they used. It is also thought that they may have used broken pieces of pottery.

Meanwhile, lots of stuff happens: Mordecai learns of the evil plan and asks Esther for her help. Haman, still ticked at Mordecai, builds a gallows to hang him. The king, sleepless, reads the chronicles and discovers that Mordecai had done a great service to the king and had not been rewarded. Esther plots to set Haman up by inviting him and the King to her own banquet.

Results? Find out Sunday in part 3.

(parts taken from Crossing the Scriptures, kindle edition or  paperback)

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Book of Esther, part 1

Let's look at the Old Testament book of Esther. We don’t know who wrote it, but it is generally thought to be written by Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, who plays a major role in the story.

It is the time of rebuilding Jerusalem. Esther becomes queen and saves the Jews from extermination. Though the name of God does not occur even once in this book, His providence is evident as well as His protection of His people. Esther is spelled in Hebrew with the same letters as “I will be hid”. Isn’t that cool? It seems like God loves anagrams, codes and puzzles. Me, too. God is hidden in the book of Esther.

The events of Esther fit chronologically between chapters 6 and 7 of Ezra and tell us that anti-Jewish hostility is intolerable to God. First there is the story of queen Vashti. Esther 1: 10-12, and 19 give the highlights:

10 On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Karkas— 11 to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. 12 But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.  

19 “Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she. 

Look again at verse 11. The implication is that she was summoned to appear wearing nothing but the crown! Yes, sir, naked. No wonder she refused to come.

Nevertheless, Vashti is out, banished, and now this Persian king needs a new queen. It took a while to round up the “many virgins” who would receive special baths, beauty treatments, clothing and accessories. Chapter 2 tells us that they completed 12 months of beauty treatments before spending a night with the king. Each girl was then one of his concubines, but would not get another night with him unless she pleased him. Then Esther (whose Hebrew name was Hadassah, meaning myrtle or joy) gets a turn. Her Jewish heritage is hidden from the king (2:10) who is very much attracted to her. She wins his favor and he crowns her as his queen. 

Meanwhile, there is a conspiracy brewing and I’ll cover that in the next post.
(parts taken from Crossing the Scriptures, Kindle edition or Paperback)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Teens in the Bible - David, part 2

Chapter 6 King David as a teen, part 2

David was anointed King in front of his seven older brothers who all had been rejected – they may have been good-looking, too, but their hearts weren’t right. We see an example of that in the story of David and Goliath.

The king promised great wealth, his daughter in marriage, and a familial exemption from taxes to the man who killed Goliath. David heard some men talking about this and started asking questions. His older brother got angry, railed on him for leaving the sheep, and said, “I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” First, David was not conceited; second it was the brother’s heart that was wicked; and third, David was sent to the battlefield with supplies for them.

David turned away from his brother and continued asking questions of others. Saul sent for him and David told Saul that he could slay Goliath as easily as he had protected the sheep from lions and bears. He also affirmed his power by giving credit to God and stating his belief that God would deliver him from the giant, Goliath.

David was pretty gutsy in facing Goliath and he showed his confidence not with arrogance, but with the truth of the power that dwelt within him. I am a little shocked at David’s bold challenge as he said to Goliath, “I’ll strike you down and cut off your head.” This teen was full of adolescent testosterone, of course, but he prefaced that promise with the fact that “This day the Lord will hand you over to me”.  Great faith for a teen, right?

One small stone was all it took. Shot from a sling, it sank into Goliath’s forehead like a bullet and dropped him face down on the ground.

And, yes, teen David did go over to the fallen Philistine and with Goliath’s own sword he cut off his head.

(Next Saturday: teen Solomon)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Greater Than Valentine Love

Galatians 5:14: For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

John 15:13: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Teens in the Bible - David, part 1

Chapter 5 King David as a teen, part 1

We have a wonderful description of King David as a teen in the book of 1st Samuel. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. The phrase “fine appearance” is just one translation of the Hebrew words “yapheh ayin”. It is literally “beautiful eyes”.

This handsome teen was anointed by Samuel to be King and at that time the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power. Picture that – a hardworking shepherd boy, good-looking, and now filled with power … but still a teenager. Back to the fields and meadows he went until King Saul needed someone to play the harp and make him feel better.

Guess which instrument David played. Saul liked David and his music and made him an armor-bearer. It must have been with increasing confidence and patience that David continued in the King’s service, knowing that he himself had already been anointed to take Saul’s place. He also continued to watch the sheep flocks and a bit of family rivalry came to light.

I’ll explain that rivalry next Saturday in part 2

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Can You Think of a Caption For This?

Let’s have fun with captions. Here are my ideas. You add yours in the comments.

1) A room with a view.

2) Nerd on a wire.

3)  “Lower me a little. I can almost see into her window.”

4)  “This job doesn't pay enough.”

Monday, February 4, 2013

Awesome Book Blogs

I missed mentioning these book bloggers last month.
Thank you to these great book reviewers/promoters for their presence on the web

Dorine at The Write Path
Brandi at Blkosiner's Book Blog
Hira at Views and Reviews Views and Reviews (4.5 star review of Sheltered)
Rachelle at Rachelle's Window (Rachelle is a self-published author. Check out her books.)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Teens in the Bible - Michal

Chapter 4 Michal

King Saul had two daughters, Merab and Michal. Michal was the younger daughter and she was in love with David. I wonder how she felt when her father offered her older sister to David as a wife. David, however, said to Saul, “Who am I, and what is my family or my father’s clan in Israel, that I should become the king’s son-in-law?”  So Saul married off the sister to someone else. Clever Michal let her feelings for David be known to her father. Saul was afraid of David because the Lord had left Saul and was with David. He thought that if he gave Michal to David then she could be a snare to him.
I wonder how Michal felt when her father offered her to David for the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins as revenge on Saul’s enemies. Sounds pretty gross, huh? Well, I wonder how she felt when David came back with two hundred foreskins.
The story doesn’t end there. Michal was in love with David and she got to marry him, but her father wanted him dead. Saul sent men to David and Michal’s house to kill him. Michal warned David to run for his life. She helped him out a window and he fled while she made a mannequin of sorts and laid it on their bed, covering it with a garment and putting some goats’ hair at the head. Clever girl.
Saul is pretty angry about the ruse. He said to his daughter, “Why did you deceive me like this and send my enemy away so that he escaped?”
Michal lied then. She told her father that David had threatened to kill her if she did not let him get away. Not so clever after all – her father gave her to another man.
More about Michal’s life can be found in 1st and 2nd Samuel.
(Next Saturday: teen David)