My 5 Best Easter Books

Easter books are one of my favorite ways to renew my wonder over the miracle of the Easter story.

5 novels for easter

The two most joyful proclamations in the Bible are “Unto us a child is born” and “He is risen!”

These are words that cause the Christian heart to thrill. Yet, to our shame, sometimes even these pronouncements of joy loose their luster. Over the years, many books have renewed my sense of wonder over various aspects of of the Good News. If you want to look at the Easter story with fresh eyes this year, here are some Easter book suggestions.

My Best Easter Books

Titus Comrade of the CrossTitus: Comrade of the Cross

Good Friday
When I grabbed this book off a shelf in our basement, I didn’t give the title much thought. About halfway through the book, I began to feel a sinking sense of dread about the term comrade of the cross. Florence M. Kingsley wrote this book just before the 19th century turned to the 20th. According to Goodreads, it was written in response to a publisher’s challenge to “write a manuscript that would set a child’s heart on fire for Jesus Christ.” This book will bring you to Golgotha through the eyes of the believing thief.

RivenRiven
Good Friday
If you read the story synopsis for this book, you won’t understand why I put it on this list. It’s a contemporary novel about a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, and a chaplain who has seen better days. Riven is also one of the longest books I’ve ever read, so it would take quite a time commitment to finish in one week. However, I can promise you will see Good Friday with new eyes after reading this. It’s one of the most unique, powerful stories I’ve ever read. It’s also the only book I continued crying over long after turning the last page.
Note: Not recommended for readers under 16.

Vinegar Boy

Vinegar Boy
Good Friday & Easter
This is a good read if you prefer something a little less intense than Riven or Titus: Comrade of the Cross. Vinegar boy would make a great family read-a-loud. The story follows the life of an orphan boy who wants nothing more than to be healed from a birthmark (a port wine stain) that leads people to believe he’s cursed. If he was healed, he would be adopted and have the opportunity to lead a normal life. The Rabbi from Nazareth seems his only hope–a hope dashed when he finds himself beneath the cross of Jesus’, wetting Christ’s lips with sponge of vinegar.

Ben-HurBen-Hur
Good Friday & Easter
I freely admit that I have yet to read this book front to back–the one time I digested the whole story in literary form was when I listened to it from Focus on the Family Radio Theater. However, this classic tale is the first to come to mind when considering Easter stories. This novel is a great representation of a life healed by tragedy of the crucifixion and the triumph of the resurrection. If you don’t have time for the book or audio drama, there’s always the more frequently consumed movie.
FREE FOR KINDLE

Easter Surprise, TheThe Easter Surprise
Easter
The resurrection story for the smaller members of the family. The Arch Books Bible stories are among the first books I ever read on my own. We had a good stock of them both at home and in our church’s nursery. There is a whole collection of Arch Books for this time of year, including: The Week That Led to Easter, The Day Jesus Died, The Story of the Empty Tomb, The Resurrection, He’s Risen! He’s Alive!, and The Easter Stranger.

Bonus After Easter Books

Acts of FaithActs of Faith Trilogy
After Easter
Enter the world of the early church. Authors Janette Oke and Davis Bunn teamed up to write these stories of faith, persecution, and determination. Book two, The Hidden Flame, was my personal favorite as it gave me a deeper appreciation for the faithfulness and sacrifice of Stephen.
Note: Recommend that younger teens check with their parents before reading this trilogy.

What are your favorite Easter stories? Which novels have helped you gain a renewed appreciation of Bible events?

Book Review: The Confession of Saint Patrick

Confession of St. Patrick

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. —Hebrews 13:8

A few weeks before Saint Patrick’s Day, Grace Mally of Tomorrow’s Forefathers published a Saint Patrick Gospel Tract. The contents of the tract piqued my interest and made me want to learn more about the name behind our green-wearing, corned-beef-eating holiday. For example, did you know that Saint Patrick was actually an English slave in Ireland?

A quick Google search told me that a letter Patrick wrote–seemingly a defense of his faith and calling to missionary work–survives to this day. The seventeenth of March seemed an appropriate day for such reading, so yesterday I invested $0.99 and an hours time on the little book.

From his writings, Patrick’s beliefs seem to be a queer mixture of his own study of the Bible, personal experience, and the Catholic upbringing of his childhood. My favorite portion of the book was the first chapter where he explains his conversion and the foundation of his faith.

St. Patrick

This first chapter is riddled with scripture references and, if I hadn’t known who the author was, I might have imagined it was written by a 19th century Christian such as George Muller or even C.S. Lewis.

It struck me that, just as Christ is never changing, so is the Holy Spirit constant. The same Spirit that guides our faith today guided the understanding of the missionaries of the 19th century and the hearts of Christ followers in the fifth century. Reading these words penned only a few hundred years after Christ walked the earth reminded me that there is an undeniable stability to the Christian faith.

And [in slavery in Ireland] the Lord brought me to a sense of my unbelief, that I might, even at a late season, call my sins to remembrance, and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God, who regarded my low estate…

We live in a world that seems in a perpetual state of topsy-turvy. This was a good reminder that there is nothing new under the sun.

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. –Ecclesiastes 1:9

There’s no question that the world Patrick lived in was filled with unrest and trials, just as ours is. Conflict between England and Ireland caused him to be kidnapped from his homeland and sold into slavery. And yet God was in control then and remains in control now. While only God knows the heart of the man remembered as Saint Patrick, there is little question that the gospel has remained unchanged since the day he wrote his confession.

There is no other God nor ever was nor will be after him except God the Father, without beginning; From whom is all beginning; Who upholds all things as we have said. And his Son Jesus Christ whom together with the father we testify to have always existed. Who before the beginning of the world was spiritually present with the Father; Begotten in an unspeakable manner before all beginning; By whom were made all things visible and invisible; Who was made man, and having overcome death was received into heaven to the Father. And he hath given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and God. In whom we believe, and we await his coming who ere long shall judge the quick and dead … Whom we confess and adore–one God in the Trinity of the sacred name.

I hope you all enjoyed your Saint Patrick’s day! Now it’s time to turn our focus to remembering Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.

Don’t Waste Your Time On (Trifling) Fiction

Face it. You can’t live with your head in the clouds forever. Fiction whisks you out of the real world and builds unrealistic expectations. Readers of fiction can become discontent with the lives they are leading. The lesson? Don’t waste your time on fiction–instead, determine to choose books that inspire.

Fiction Waste

 

A Bookworm Reacts to Fiction Bashing

Every time I read a blog post that bashes fiction or hear someone boasting that they only read non-fiction, I cringe. I grew up with my nose in a book. When I read A Little Princess for the first time, I immediately identified with Sara when her father said,

She is always sitting with her little nose burrowing into books. She doesn’t read them, Miss Minchin; she gobbles them up as if she were a little wolf instead of a little girl. She is always starving for new books to gobble.

So, what do I mean when I repeat the naysayers’ mantra of, “Don’t waste time on fiction”? Obviously I’m not telling you to throw out every novel in your house and feed yourself an exclusive diet of non-fiction. You wouldn’t listen to me anyway. On the other hand, I can’t deny that it is entirely possible to waste time on fiction and be negatively impacted by it.

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. –Philippians 4:5

The Good and the Bad

Dear reader, don’t abuse fiction. Don’t neglect necessary and needful things like reading the Bible, doing school, working diligently, serving others, and spending time with God in order to read “one more chapter.” Don’t choose books that fill your mind with unholy thoughts.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. –Philippians 4:8

When people turn their backs on fiction, they’ve often been exposed predominately to books that don’t turn their thoughts to things that are true, lovely, pure, and of good report. That’s a tragedy.  There are many stories that can help you do exactly what Philippians 4:9 directs. That’s why I love fiction so much.

Fiction and Me

Novels have had a huge impact on my life. I can point to particular books that have shaped and grown me to the person I am today. The Hundred Dresses taught me to care about people who are different, left out, or made fun of. As a very young reader, I remember finishing this book with a determination to befriend anyone who didn’t fit in–a determination that led me to make a point of greeting each newcomer at homeschool group and church. When I was twelve, A Family Apart renewed my interest in orphan care, a passion that is a huge part of who I am today. At sixteen, Safely Home pulled me into the life of a Chinese Christian and suddenly made the persecution I had learned about my whole life real. Without Alcorn’s novel, I might never have written Counted Worthy.

These books are a tiny sampling of the timeline of fiction that positively impacted my life. These are the books that make me want to cry out in protest when people dismiss fiction as being less worthy that non-fiction.

Non-fiction can teach the mind, but fiction inspires the heart. [Tweet This]

Don’t Waste. Spend Wisely.

Don’t waste your time on trifling fiction. Spend it wisely on stories that teach your heart to care about the things God cares about.

Yes, stories have a tendency to change our expectations and cause us to look at the world with different eyes. This can be destructive, but it isn’t always.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. –Romans 12:2

Don’t choose novels that pull your mind away from what matters. Instead, find stories that cause you to–in the words of Do Hard Things–rebel against low expectations. Don’t choose novels that fill you with selfish discontent. Instead, find books that make you want to shed mediocrity and seek God’s best.

Don’t waste your time on books that shrink your world to yourself (and maybe an imaginary, perfect significant other that doesn’t exist). Read fiction–and yes, non-fiction too–that inspires bigger living.

What books have inspired you to care about things that matter? What makes you love fiction?

Book Review: Light of the Last

Light of the LastI spent the first half of this book desperately wanting to tell Drew (the main character) that he wasn’t insane, and the second half trying to read fast enough to keep up with the cascade of action. It was a wild ride!

I’m not sure how to classify Light of the Last. Superhero? Spiritual warfare? Political thriller? It’s all three!

Synopsis:
It’s been years since a lab accident resulted in Drew Carter’s visions of alien invaders–his term for the angels and demons he can now see. Now he’s draw the attendtion of the American government. Always a patriot at heart, Drew is excited to serve in the CIA despite the underhanded way he’s drafted into service. His problem is, he doesn’t know who he can trust. When a psyciatric exam tells him his visions are conjured by his subconscious, he doesn’t even trust himself. Drew is isolated from his family and the girl he loves, and he’s coming undone.

Meanwhile the force of angels tasked with protecting Drew is locked in the battle of the ages. Apollyon is loosing the forces of darkness in a desperate attempt to prevent the salvation of one man. Validus and his team must hold nothing back. The fate of the world is in the balance.

My Thoughts:
I love the lead characters in this series. Drew is a  quintessential hero–sincere, self-sacrificing, devoted, and just proud and broken enough to make you fully invested in reading to find a happy ending. Besides, what Christian Marvel fan wouldn’t get excited about a superhero story (complete with a Jarvis-like computer) with a spiritual warfare twist? However, I’m not going say more because you need to read it for yourself. Go back to book one, push through the first 50 pages (which I found boring), and enjoy the journey. 🙂

What Has My Attention

I enjoy seeing what other people are looking at and reading. With so much content produced on the internet every week, it’s nice to get curated lists of what people I trust have found valuable. So, I thought I might try to occasionally share my own list with you all! Let me know if you do or don’t like this new feature.

  • The Generosity Factor by Ken Blanchard. Don’t give to get. Get to give!
  • The Secret to Becoming an Expert Listener. This is a fabulous blog post on the art of listening well. As a talkative person, remembering to listen (and listen well) is something I can always use a reminder about!
  • The Family: Together in the Presence of GodNoel Piper (wife of John Piper) wrote this inspiring article on family togetherness during corporate worship. Hopefully I’m not the only single girl on here who enjoys reading parenting articles!
  • A Tribute to PrimroseIt’s no secret that I love adoption. This blog post about a baby’s first birthday with a family of her own made me cry.
  • How 5 Minutes Can Change Someone’s LifeEncouraging reminder about the power of little things.
  • Sermon NotesA graphic designer friend of mine and I have begun collaborating to make sermon graphics for my church.

What has your attention this week?

Book Review: Beloved

BelovedFebruary is here, which means our month of devotional giveaways is over. To those who won books, I’d love to hear what you think of them as you start reading. To those who didn’t win, take a look over the reviews and consider investing a devotional to use in 2016. (My top recommendation remains Daily Light from the Bible.) Before I move on to today’s giveaway, there’s one more winner to announce.

The winner of When God Writes Your Life Story is…

Morgan Huneke

Congratulations, Morgan! I can’t wait to hear what you think. 🙂

And now for today’s book review of Beloved by Rachel Starr Thomson.

“I was always told the Great God’s laws were oppressive, but what you read … this is not oppressive. This is good. I say so as a man who must go home and make reparations for wrongs done. But I will do it.”

Beloved is the final novel in a trilogy allegory of the Old Testament. The stars have long depicted the doom of the chosen people–Isha the Beloved races towards the jaws of the dragon. Beneath the night skies, the residents of the Holy City wantonly defile even the holiest places. Queen Izevel stirs up defiance against the Great God, ardently worshiping the dragon-headed Kimosh while her husband, king of The People, looses himself in wine.

Yet the stars still shine on a faithful remnant. The eye of the Great God rests upon the least likely of souls. Flora Laurentii hears His voice whisper Beloved to her soul and, for the first time in her life, does not feel ashamed. Quivering Recheb finds courage when she should be most afraid. And Alack, the shepherd boy turned prophet, finds a glimmer of hope in a prophecy of doom.

The people must repent. The dragon is read to swallow Isha and destroy the beloved, but the Great God is still willing to save. If you want to change a man, change his god. If you want to change the course of a nation, change the god they worship.

Of all Rachel Starr Thomson‘s books and series, I believe The Prophet Trilogy appeals to the broadest audience. The setting is similar enough to Old Testament times and the laws of nature close enough to our own that readers who are not hard-core speculative fans will be able to enjoy these books.

In every review of Thomson’s books, I try to put words to why they capture me. I don’t think I’ve ever been successful! Thomson has a way of speaking truth through her novels that not many authors can parallel.

So go ahead. Pick up Abaddon’s Eve and keep right on reading.

Book Giveaway: When God Writes Your Life Story

When God Writes Your Life StoryThe month of January is almost at an end, which means this will be our last devotional giveaway. It has been such a pleasure to share some of my favorite devotionals with you. I hope you’ve found this series an encouragement and a challenge to study God’s word this year!

Last week I was giving away a copy of The One Year Devotions for Kids, which is a collection of devotional lessons pulled from Keys for Kids. And the winner is…

Connie Saunders

I admit that I was rooting for Connie’s name to be drawn by the random generator used by rafflecopter. She has faithful entered each of the devotional giveaways, so I’m glad you won one, Connie!

Our final giveaway is a little bit different than the last three. When God Writes Your Life Story is not a collection of 365 devotional readings. However, it is a great addition to the time you set aside to spend with God and learning of God. You can read the review I posted of it here on the blog.

Click on the image below for your chance to win a copy!*

When God Writes Your Life Story [Giveaway]

*giveaway can only be shipped within the continental United States

What do you want to see next on Leah’s Bookshelf?

Giveaway: The One Year Devotions for Kids

One Year Devotion for Kids, TheAfter an extremely mild start to our winter, New England finally realized it’s winter and sent us “blizzard 2016.” I’ve been thoroughly enjoying a quite day sprawled in front of our fire reading. Are any of you snowbound and reading good books? I just finished Rise by Rachel Starr Thomson. Now I’m ready for a nap (or maybe I’ll watch one of the movies I got for Christmas). But first, I want to share with you the winner of last week’s giveaway and announce which devotional I’m giving away this week!

Last week I was giving away A Closer Look at the Evidence, by Richard & Tina Kleiss. The winner of that giveaway is…

Spencer R.

Congratulations, Spencer! I’m sure that you (and maybe Hanna too!) will enjoy this one. I’ll email you to get your mailing address.

This week I’m giving away* a collection of childhood favorites. When I was young, my family used Keys for Kids for our family devotions. The One Year Devotions for Kids is 365 of the devotional stories and “key lessons” that I grew up on. Just click on the image below to enter for your chance to win this devotional.**

One Year Devotions [Giveaway]

*Giveaway can only be shipped in the continental United States.
**Used Copy

Book Giveaway: A Closer Look at the Evidence

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Me and Gram Rose on New Years Eve (Dec 2007)

I’m posting a day early this week because tomorrow my family will be at services for my Great-Grandmother who passed away Monday evening. She was born two months after the Titanic sank and had a full 103 years of life. She also knew the Lord, so we can celebrate her home going. 🙂 Please pray for my family’s testimony tomorrow! And also pray that I can sing as planned–I’m fighting a sore throat today.

—–

So, who wants to know who won the Daily Light from the Bible giveaway? I know I was eager to find out! Our winner is…

Becky Aino

The winner was chosen by Random.org, and Becky definitely earned her win! She tweeted about the giveaway every day. I’ll be emailing you to get your address, Becky.

Closer Look at the Evidence, AThis week’s devotional giveaway is a really neat one for those who enjoy creation science. I discovered A Closer Look at the Evidence on Mike Snavely’s book table when he came to speak for our state homeschool organization several months ago.

This book has a “devotional nugget” for every day of the year. According to the back cover, “A Closer Look draws from over 70 expert sources to show how 26 different areas of knowledge confirm that God’s Word can be trusted as a basis for truth, guidance, and hope.”

Anyone who enjoys ministries like Institute of Creation Research, The Creation Museum, and Mission Imperative will  find this devotional intriguing!

January 14: Evidence From History

Jesus Christ is not a mythological character. Evidences of His existence can be verified by many sources.

First, there is the testimony of the New Testament documents. All 27 New Testament books were completed within 60 years of Christ’s resurrection. Ten of these books were written by Christ’s personal friends. At least thirteen were written by Paul, an eyewitness of Christ’s life.

Second, The Jewish Babylonian Talmud and the writings of the famous Jewish historian Josephus bear witness to the historical presence of Christ. Their testimony to Christ’s existence is all the more valuable, because the Jews not only rejected Christ, but were extremely hostile toward Him. Many of these writings contain lies and distortions, but the very fact He merits attention supports His historical existence.

Thirdancient nonreligious historical writings also bear record of Christ. For example, Pliny, the governor of Bithynia (around 112 A.D.); the Roman historian Tacitus (115 A.D.); and the popular Roman writer Seutonius (about 120 A.D.) all acknowledge the existence of Christ.

A Study Course In Christian Evidences, p. 140-141

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem… Matthew 2:1

Now it’s your turn! Use the image link below to enter for your chance to win* this devotional! Closer Look at the Evidence Giveaway


What’s your favorite Christian Evidences ministry? Do have a favorite Christian Evidences fact you can share?

P.S. If you liked the look of Daily Light in the Bible but didn’t win, you can buy a used copy for $0.01 + shipping on Amazon. I’d highly recommend giving it a try.

*The prize book for this giveaway can only be shipped within the continental United States.