Greetings, Readers!

Looking for something good to read? Well, you’ve come to the right place! I love reading, book lists, and recommending great books to others. Please accept my humble reviews and recommendations of Christian, Classic, and Children’s books. Check out my lists of “Books Every Christian Should Read,” and feel free to comment on my articles and to offer some of your own recommendations!

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Come Boldly to the Throne of Grace: Prayer

Prayer by John Bunyan

Let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

This one little volume actually contains two works by John Bunyan on prayer. The first exposition on the subject, originally entitled A Discourse Touching Prayer, looks at what true prayer is, who should pray, what kinds of prayers are acceptable to God, and what we should pray for. He begins with making this statement about prayer:

Prayer is an ordinance of God to be used both in public and private; yea, such an ordinance as brings those that have the spirit of supplication into great familiarity with God.

Followed by this definition of prayer:

Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to his Word, for the good of the church, with submission in faith to the will of God.

He then proceeds to expound on the points mentioned in this definition, and explains what it means to pray with or in the Spirit. Following this, he addresses what may serve as obstructions to prayer. Bunyan writes,

As prayer is the duty of every one of the children of God, and carried on by the spirit of Christ in the soul, so everyone that takes it upon him to pray to the Lord, had need to be very wary and go about that work especially with a dread of God, as well as with hopes of the mercy of God through Jesus Christ.”

Prayer is indeed serious business, and it is a hard business. We cannot do it in our own strength; it requires the work of the Holy Spirit within us. As Bunyan explains,

Prayer is an ordinance of God, that must continue with a soul so long as it is on this side of Glory. But, as I said before, it is not possible for a man to get up his heart to God in prayer; likewise it is as difficult to keep it there, without the assistance of the Spirit. And if so, then for a man to continue from time to time in prayer with God, it must of necessity be with the Spirit.

Bunyan’s second discourse, originally published by the title The Saints’ Privilege and Profit, focuses on the idea of coming to the throne of grace – what does this mean and how are we to approach it? Bunyan demonstrates how it is that we are able to pray because Jesus Christ was himself the sacrifice, the altar, and the high priest who has provided the way for us to come. He also talks about the proper attitude and motives for prayer.

We have boldness, brethren, to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus. What can be more plain, more encouraging, more comfortable to them that would obtain mercy, ‘and find grace to help in time of need’! It is a dishonor to God, a disadvantage to you, and an encouragement to Satan, when you hang back and seem afraid to “come boldly to the throne of grace.”

This book provides many blessed reminders of the wonderful privilege prayer is and how detrimental and sinful it is when we neglect it.

Related Sites and Articles

What other books about prayer have you found to be helpful and encouraging?
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What It Means to be a Knight: Raising Sir Gallant

Raising Sir Gallant by Mary Bustamante

“The greatest are those who serve the least. Do you see, Gallant? By learning to be a servant, you have learned to be a knight. And all this was done in the context of the Holy Scriptures — the Bible, which is our guide to a virtuous life.”

The author, Mary Bustamante, sent me a copy of this book in exchange for sharing an honest review of it. I receive requests from authors to read and review their books pretty regularly, and I usually decline, but this one intrigued me for a couple of reasons. One is that I believe there is a need to recover biblical masculinity in our culture, and secondly, because I have two grandsons who I can share this book with when they get a bit older. The description of Raising Sir Gallant reminded me of the historical fiction novels of G. A. Henty, whose books I love.

Raising Sir Gallant is a charming sort of “coming of age” story of a young boy who is given the opportunity to train to become a knight. But the training Gallant receives is not what he initially expects or hopes for. He is so excited to wear a suit of armor, ride a big war horse, and learn to joust and fight with a sword. But week after week, his lessons with Sir Francis consist of “tedious things not fit for a knight,” as he thinks. “Why do knights need to learn how to plant vegetables? Or count and measure? I brush his horse and fetch his food. I am nothing more than an ordinary servant!” Gallant complains to himself. But Sir Francis knows that before a boy is ready to learn to handle a steed or wield a sword he must first train his mind and manners and develop the heart of a knight. Meanwhile, throughout the period of his training, Gallant harbors a secret that haunts him with a feelings of shame and guilt. He knows it is something he must confess and deal with, but what will his parents and Sir Francis think of him when they learn of what he did?

The story uses situations to teach character building such as the importance of honesty and integrity, hard work, respect for parents and authority, self-control, kindness, patience, generosity, bravery, and self sacrifice. The story teaches that every life has value, no matter where they are socially or economically. Throughout the story are sprinkled Bible verses and biblical principals, although it be from a medieval religious point-of-view.  The lessons that come through in this story transcend time, and are still relevant and valuable for our young ones today. Each chapter ends with a couple of questions for thought and a list of vocabulary words for the young reader.

Raising Sir Gallant meets the standards I looked for when choosing literature for my children when I homeschooled them, which I talk about on my Blog intro page. It depicts a Love for Home and Family, Love for God and His Word, Love for the Individual, and a Love for Learning. It stresses that the internal is more important than the external. I highly recommend this book for children ages 8-12, although older children and even adults will enjoy it as well. The author’s book oriented towards girls, entitled Raising Lady Grace, is expected to come out later this year.

On her website, SirGallant.com, Ms. Bustamante has supplemental teaching materials available to accompany her book, such as a workbook, crafts, and other hands-on related items to enhance the child’s learning experience as they read through Raising Sir Gallant.

What books that teach character building for children do you recommend?

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Our Time is Now – Ode to a New Year

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Wow, it’s hard to believe it is 2020 – a new decade! For some, the past year was wonderful – maybe it included a wedding, a new baby, a move, or the start of a new job or career path. Undoubtedly, there was some disappointment or sadness as well. We lost my step-father just the week before Christmas. But he was 94; he lived a good, long life, was a great husband to my mother for over 25 years, and was ready to be with his Savior. Perhaps your 2019 wasn’t what you had hoped it would be. Maybe you look back on the past year or decade with regret. But every day, every year is an opportunity to start fresh – what a blessing!

Two years ago I had no idea I would be where I am now with regard to my job situation. Three months ago I had no idea we would be anticipating another grandchild in our family. Today, I have no idea what will happen in the coming year. It’s January First, 2020; we will blink, and suddenly it will be the end of another year. And yet, not one of us is guaranteed another year, or even tomorrow, for that matter. (see Luke 12:16-21, James 4:13-14)

We can’t determine or control everything that will occur this year, or tomorrow for that matter. But we can certainly make plans – and it is good and wise to do so. We can make the most of each day that we have breath. We can make a conscious decision to live for the Lord and to make a positive difference in the lives of those we touch. We can live, work, even sing before our time runs out, as Jon Foreman so artfully puts it.

January, February, March –
The days are marching forward;
April, May, June and July –
They fly like a hummingbird.
August, September, October –
The year is almost over.
November, December arrive,
Now the year is gone.

Time is illusion; Time is a curse.
Time is all these things and worse,
But our time is now,
Oh Oh Oh Oh –
Our time is now,
Oh Oh Oh Oh!
Let us sing before our time runs out.

Time is a mockingbird,
The embers of what we were.
But the years are still burning in my veins –
And my time is now

Watch the official video – Before Our Time, by Jon Foreman

Or as Foreman’s band, Switchfoot, sings in their song Live It Well:

Awaken, oh my soul – Every breath that you take is a miracle! Life is short, I wanna live it well – One life, one story to tell.

What are you looking most forward to in 2020?

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Crazy Love: Fire for the Lukewarm Christian

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan

“The core problem isn’t the fact that we’re lukewarm, halfhearted, or stagnant Christians. The crux of it all is…we have an inaccurate view of God. We see Him as a benevolent Being who is satisfied when people manage to fit Him into their lives in some small way.”


Many of us know what it is or has been like to be crazy in love with someone – to love someone so much that there’s nothing you wouldn’t do for them. Hopefully if you’re married you feel this way at least to some degree about your spouse. Maybe you can say you’re crazy about your kids, at least when they’re not driving you crazy! Have you ever characterized your love for God as being crazy? Consider God’s unconditional love toward sinners: a love for those who were His enemies, who hated Him and would have nothing to do with Him, a love that would cause Him to deliver His own Son to suffer the wrath and punishment that they deserved in order to redeem them for Himself (Romans 5:8). Now that’s crazy! In response to God’s “relentless” love for us undeserving sinners, doesn’t it seem natural that we in return would be utterly lovestruck for God and completely devoted to Him? Francis Chan wrote his book Crazy Love out of a concern that so many who profess to be Christians only seem to have a half-hearted love for Him and are content to live complacent, comfortable lives for God, as long as it’s convenient and doesn’t require too much effort or sacrifice on their part. Instead of feeling like they “have enough God” as Chan puts it, he desires for his readers to want more of God, and such is his stated purpose for this book. Continue reading

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A New Year’s Resolution for the Soul

Well, it’s that time of year again when a lot of people think about what changes they want to make in their life. Lots of people make resolutions related to their physical health, like losing weight, starting an exercise program, or quitting smoking. Some set educational or career goals, say, to go back to school and finish a degree, earn a certification, or get a new job or promotion. Maybe you want to improve yourself as a person — quit a bad habit, learn a new skill or hobby, or travel somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. But have you thought about making a resolution that will profit your soul or help you to grow spiritually? Continue reading

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Thanksgiving resources for families

I love the Thanksgiving season and holiday! I used to teach history classes on Colonial America, the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving. This time of year gives me an opportunity to share some of the information and resources I acquired and used for those classes, and I hope they will be useful to others.

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GiveThanksThanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all…

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