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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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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Comfort in the Arms of an All-Sovereign God: Who’s Your Father?

With Father’s Day upon us once again, my thoughts went to a friend who recently lost her dad, whom she loved very much. I lost my own dad over 25 years ago and miss him being in my life all of those years. But not everyone has close ties with and fond memories of their father. Some people grow up never even knowing or having much of a relationship with their dad, which is heartbreaking. Regardless of what your relationship to your own dad has been like, we can all agree that no father is perfect; every earthly dad has his flaws and makes his share of mistakes, albeit some more than others.

However God is a perfect, holy, loving Father to His children, and He has promised to be a Father to the fatherless. The question is – who are His children? Is every person in fact a child of God? No matter who are you are – He is your God and He is your Creator, whether you acknowledge Him as such or not. Many like to think of God as being their Father without really knowing much about Him or spending time with Him. God is not whatever you want or think Him to be. He is who He has declared Himself to be, and He has revealed Himself to us in His Word, the Bible, and through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

So let me to ask you to consider: Who is your Father? Seems like a fitting time to reshare some thoughts on the book by this same title that I reviewed a few years ago.

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Who’s Your Father?: Returning to the Love of the Biblical God by Robert Bernecker

WhosYourFather“What is neglected by most Christians today is the comforting, awe-inspiring truth of our God’s sovereignty, his great love for each of us, and the eminent trustworthiness of his eternal purpose, which includes each of us in infinite detail. This negligence robs us of our real joy and comfort in our Father who loves us, chooses us, redeems us, and perfects us.”
 
“A ‘god’ whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated, possesses no title to Deity, and so far from being a fit object of worship, merits naught but contempt.” (A. W. Pink, The Attributes of God)


Last year I was contacted by the author of Who’s Your Father?Robert Bernecker, who asked me if I’d read and review his book, which he had recently published. He was…

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