Friday, May 30, 2014

Book Review: Charles Spurgeon, by J C Carlile

Title: Charles Spurgeon: The Prince of Preachers
Author: J C Carlile (Abridged and edited by Dan Harmon)
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, 1997
Part of a series: Heroes of the Faith

This biography was quite refreshing to read after last month’s!

What I liked about this book:
  • It’s a pleasant and balanced story.
  • It moves easily and gives a good sense of the order of the main events of Spurgeon’s life, from his first sermon until his death at Menton, aged only 58.
  • It relates Spurgeon to the time in which he lived.
  • It also talks about his brother, a Congregationalist pastor.

I didn't like the ending, however.
“Let us turn to Spurgeon as our guide, following his determination and serenity of spirit.”
Let us rather turn to Jesus as the perfect example!

Recommended for someone wanting a shortish, neat, and peaceful biography of Charles Spurgeon.

One more book review next month, a book about Spurgeon's passion for doctrine. Mmm, me too. :-)

~I did not receive any compensation or reward for reviewing this book~

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Stay in the Castle :: Part Two

Click here to read part one.


A year passed. Then another. The dream became harder to envision, and the night sounds of laughter and glee from the village below again began working their way slowly into her thoughts. It became harder to concentrate on her preparation; harder to be patient.

One morning while taking her breakfast in the Royal Kitchen, a knock was heard at the back door; the door where deliveries were made from the village below. She waited for one of her Father's servants to answer, but when none immediately did, she decided to answer it herself.

"Hello," said the young delivery man as he pulled off his crumbled hat and bowed. (It was an exaggerated bow, very low and lasting, followed by a winsome smile.) She couldn't help but laugh.

"Delivery for his Royal Highness, the King." he proclaimed with just the slightest shade of irreverence. "And my, but I must say that he has hired some lovely kitchen help, a great improvement indeed!"

"Why, thank you, but I'm not the kitchen help," she said blushing, "I'm the King's daughter."

"I had heard that he had a daughter. But I was never told how beautiful she was! Do you live here all alone with your Father?"

"For now," she replied, thinking briefly of the now fading story her Father had told her. He carried the supplies past her into the kitchen. "You ought to come down to the village some night. The lads would be taken with you! Lots of friends your age and wonderful parties."

"Tell me about the village."

For an hour they talked--talked and laughed. Every story of the village life seemed so full of humor and excitement! He acted out the stories  he told and sang a village favorite, dancing merrily to the tune. She could not remember ever laughing so much, and found herself resenting her Father for not allowing her to take part.

"You must come to the village this very night. The Fall Festival begins, and it is the best of the year."

She glanced awkwardly at the closed kitchen door. "I don't believe my Father would allow me to attend."

"Then sneak out after dark. I will meet you at the bridge this side of the village. You'll have a great time!"

"Perhaps." She hesitated. "But I can't promise."

"I'll meet you there," he said, then shut the door and was gone before she could answer. That evening, she sat with her Father in the Great Room, he reading aloud from the Book of Lessons, and she pretending to be listening. In reality, she was measuring the diminishing light from the setting sun. The distant music began to loft it. It took several moments before she realized that her Father had stopped reading.

"You seem far away tonight."

She straightened her dress nervously, "No, just tired I think. Perhaps I should go to bed early."


"Really, Father, I'm fine," she said, quickly getting to her feet. "Good night," she said back over her shoulder as she scampered up the stairs.

Two hours later, when it was believed that all in the castle were sleeping, a lithe, young figure stole out the kitchen door and disappeared into the night.


To be continued...

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Into the Desert

But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.…Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter….
—Galatians 1:11-12, 17-18a

Paul received the gospel straight from Jesus—not from the disciple’s witness, as we do today. This was the basis for why we call him “Paul the Apostle”—because he learned his doctrine straight from the Lord.

After his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus, he went into Arabia—a desert. There, he spent quite a while—possibly up to three years—before returning to Jerusalem. A desert is a sign of self-denial. And there was the place he went to learn.

Where is your desert, friend? Where do you go to get away from the world, a place shut away from everyone else? Maybe even, perhaps, like Paul, a place where others fear to go and mostly leave to it self? Where is the place you can go alone, where only Jesus can reach you? Even if it is one short hour, or maybe just a couple snatched minutes, make use of that time. Draw nigh to Him—and He will draw nigh to you (James 4:8a).

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Mother's Touch

            The temperature of the day seemed to be 110 degrees in the shade. Animals could be found under the trees and the people of the town did not stray far from the comfort of their shaded hammocks. But the heat of the day did not stop us from driving through the little town of La Palmerita to spend time with our Nicaraguan friends and hold a few Bible studies.  
While Virginia was out inviting children to an afternoon of activities and games, she found out that Yeral was running a high fever and one of the ladies made it sound as if he was seriously ill.
Celebrating Johana's birthday
Now Yeral was the middle son of Johana, a young mother and a sweet friend, who had been a member of La Palmerita Mennonite Church, but had strayed away and was living with a young man. 
We were told that Johana had left on Saturday the 12th, and left Wilbur-11 and Yeral-10 in La Palmerita. She told them she would return on Sunday the 13th. However on Tuesday, she still had not returned.
After our classes, we decided to go see if we could find Yeral. We found him in the neighbor’s black plastic shack. When Virginia called his name, he responded by calling my name. We found him in the back corner on a cot. He was running a fever and seemed a little delirious. After talking it over, we decided to ask him if he wanted to go to our house. Without any hesitation, he said “yes.” He told us that he had a headache and fever when he came home from school, so he had walked to the clinic. They had given him some pills but he still had a fever.
Sound asleep in the hammock
When we arrived at home, his fever was 102° - 103°, so we gave him a Tylenol and some juice. We brought him over to our house as Randy’s were headed to Managua. It took him a while to relax and so we asked him if he wanted to listen to some music. He was out in 10 minutes. He slept for several hours and he still had a fever when he woke up. We gave him an Ibuprofen. When he woke up at 9:00pm, he seemed much more himself and was hungry. We prepared some supper and then he went off to bed. He had no fever the following morning, so Randy took him back to La Palmerita so he could go to school. Wilbur told us that he did not go to school, because he started running a fever again. Johana returned sometime Wednesday afternoon, but did not come to the evening service.
As I took time that day to take care of Yeral, my heart cried out. How could a mother abandon her children like this? How could she leave these young ones to fend for themselves while she was out, "enjoying" the pleasures of this world? A verse from Isaiah came to me: 

"Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee." Isaiah 49:15 KJV

But as I mothered to this young individual, a sense was awakened within in me - that of a mothering sense. Taking care of him, as if he were my own child. Being by him and making sure he was feeling better. Scripture came to mind as I spent time with Yeral:

Juancito, Yeral, Wilbur
"Leave your fatherless children; I will [do what is necessary to] preserve them alive. And let [those who have been made] your widows trust and confide in Me." Jeremiah 49:11 AMP

Though I was not his mother, I could take care of him as only a mother could: by pouring my love out to him, showing him that he meant the world to me and I cared about him. In thinking of the love that one shows to their children, whether biological or "adopted" children, I was reminded of the love that God has towards us:

"For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life." John 3:16 AMP

You may not be a mother yet, but as a female, God has blessed you with "mother" instincts. You are all born with the gifts of compassion, nurture, care, love, feelings. These gifts allow us to reach out and touch another's life. As a young girl, embrace these gifts. They may fill you with hurt, place burdens on your heart, allow to rejoice, question "why", spend sleepless nights praying. These are gifts that God has blessed you with as a woman. 
Be a woman! Be a mother! Touch someone's life! Be burdened to pray as only a mother can!

PS. This was a true experience that happened in February 2011 while I was serving in Nicaragua. As of today, I still have contact with this young man and his mother. She calls me from time to time to talk to me. On Wednesday May 28th, my sister and I have plans to travel to Nicaragua to visit my friends there. Pray for us as we spend time there that God might be glorified.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Recipe Wednesday: Vegan Pancakes

Lately the famous ‘THM diet’ has taken our community by storm. It’s a primarily weight loss diet, in which you separate your carbs from your fats, eat mainly carbs at one meal, then mainly fats at another. It’s also sugar free and has limited gluten.

Attracted by the sugar free idea, Mum and I looked into it. Not that we need to lose weight, but both of us have several allergies, that this ‘plan’ could accommodate.  Anyway a couple of ‘E’ meals and ‘S’ meals later, I decided that it wasn’t so much for me, I had a lot of air in my stomach, and would always be burping. Mum burps a lot when she is reacting to something, so I tried to find out what was wrong. Turns out that I might have been a bit extremist with my eating, after eating a few wheat crackers when I wasn’t mean to, my tummy stopped complaining.

Now this isn’t a THM critic report, I like many of the ideas in it, and I’m sure it works for many people, it just doesn’t work for me.

Anyway one of the things I learnt from it was how to cook without flour, by grinding up coconut flakes and rolled oats. So I began experimenting, next thing I was making almond milk and substituting constantly. We also have a Vegan staying at our place at the moment which is also stretching my cooking skills, but I’m loving it. I would never have found out how delicious cauliflower sauce is, or how scrumptious vegan pancakes are otherwise. It’s so liberating going into the kitchen and being able to make delicious vegan food without even realising it!

Vegan Pancakes


  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup flour (use coconut or nut flour for GF)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. guar-gum (probably optional, it basically thickens)
  • 1 banana, or any amount of fruit
  • cinnamon (optional)
  • vanilla
  • 3 tsp. sugar (or Nativa)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. margarine (optional)
  • rice milk (or any nut milk, or regular milk)


Mix dry ingredients together, then add the wet ones. This mixture is meant to be quite thick, but you may need more liquid. Cook in a pan like regular pancakes.

This recipe is pretty flexible as you can see, I mean, I added my leftover smoothie the other day and it tasted really good. Also I’ve found if you add an egg or two it makes the thinnest, fastest cooking pancakes ever. This also tastes really good with whipped coconut cream and cooked apple.  It’s also really filling, you only need three before you’re stuffed—and I don’t get full easily.


(This blog post was originally posted on her blog and then Tiffany suggested I [Esther] reshare it here.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Stay in the Castle :: Part One

Once upon a time there was a princess that lived in a beautiful palace overlooking a simple but worldly village. She lived in the castle with her Father, the King, and a handful of faithful servants. Her Father doted over her, supplying her every need and most all her wants. Over the years, she blossomed into a beautiful teenage girl, quick-witted, full of laughter, and always obedient - but increasingly lonely.

Often, later at night, she would gaze from the window of her room, high in the castle wall, watching the people far away in the streets below. She would lean towards the gaiety, straining past the sounds of music and laughter, to try to pick out the words of the young people. No sad, lonely sounds ever reached her ears, and she began to believe that they must be the happiest people in the kingdom.

"Father?" she asked one evening as they worked together on what he called her preparation. "Do you think that perhaps I might one evening be allowed to attend one of the festivals at the village? Perhaps just for a short time?"

The old, but wise King laid aside the Book of Lessons and looked upon his daughter with compassion and concern. "My child, the village below is a worldly place full of sad people. The sound of merriment that you sometimes hear is their attempt to drown out the emptiness and despair of their lives. It is best that you stay in the castle."

Though she loved her Father, it was not the answer the wished.
"But Father, how will I ever meet...I mean...someday I would like to.....Oh Father, you are so good to me, and I do so love it here, but at times I get so lonely!"

The King sat back in his chair, his eyes suddenly seeing his daughter not as the little girl she would always be to him, but as the young lady she was becoming. He then decided. "It is time that I tell you."
"Tell me what, Father?"

Standing to his feet, he walked to a window overlooking the countryside to the East. His eyes fastened onto the King's Highway, a straight road that passed high above the village and led to the castle gate.

"Shortly after you were born, I foresaw the day when you would need someone special--someone with whom to spend your life. I set out to search; to visit other castles in the Kingdom; to find a Prince for you. Not just anyone, but that special someone."

The King turned to look at his Princess, her eyes full of wonderment.
"I have met him. I know who he is."

"Oh, Father, where does he live? When do I get to meet him?"

"He lives far away, but not so far. In a castle not unlike this one. He, too, is being prepared as you are--both for the other. Come stand beside me, my child."

She walked to where her Father stood by the window.
"See there? That's the King's Highway. When the time is right and not before, he will come on a white steed. You will know him."

Then taking her into his hands, he looked into her tear brimmed eyes.
"Princess. Never forget you are a child of the King. You are Royalty. The one being prepared for you is also of Royal Descent. Be patient. Prepare. And stay in the castle."

She hugged the King, jumping into his arms, happy now and determined to prepare and wait. For many months, at night, she looked out her bedroom window, past the village and it's sounds to the Highway above, watching and dreaming of the one who would someday come.


To be continued...

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Grace…and Faith

(I found these very encouraging this weekend, so thought I’d pass them along. :) God bless!)

“I’ve learned recently to love imperfection a lot because it shines such a big light on God’s grace. And if someone has grace for you that’s when you feel their love the most and they see you for who you are and they love you anyway.”
― Lacey Mosley

“Trusting God’s grace means trusting God’s love for us rather than our love for God. […] Therefore our prayers should consist mainly of rousing our awareness of God’s love for us rather than trying to rouse God’s awareness of our love for him, like the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:26-29).”
― Peter Kreeft

Photo courtesy

“God really is a Father, as displeased with a cramped, niggardly attitude of lack as with its opposite.”
― Brother Andrew

“We can put it this way: the man who has faith is the man who is no longer looking at himself and no longer looking to himself. He no longer looks at anything he once was. He does not look at what he is now. He does not even look at what he hopes to be as the result of his own efforts. He looks entirely to the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work, and rests on that alone. He has ceased to say, ‘Ah yes, I used to commit terrible sins but I have done this and that.’ He stops saying that. If he goes on saying that, he has not got faith. Faith speaks in an entirely different manner and makes a man say, ‘Yes I have sinned grievously, I have lived a life of sin, yet I know that I am a child of God because I am not resting on any righteousness of my own; my righteousness is in Jesus Christ and God has put that to my account.’”
― D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Guest Post–Hebrews 13:15

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15

This verse has been powerful in my life.  God calls us to continually offer Him the sacrifice of the praise of our lips. So let’s break down this verse, looking at each word individually in order to gain a deeper understanding of what it says.

    Therefore: Because God is so good, and because we await His return, and because He is coming back to rule over all the earth, we must offer the praise of our lips to Him.
    By: It is not on our own power that this is possible, but only by Him.
    Him: He has done it all. We are weak, He is strong. We are sinful, He is perfect. By His blood, His name, His grace, and His strength, we can move mountains for His glory. It’s all about Him.  He will give us the power to give praise to Him continually.
    Let: This is defined as to cause, to assign, to permit to enter, to make an adjustment, to allow.
    Us: This is an action that we, by His grace, must do.  We can’t just sit back and expect it to happen, but we must get up from the chair and do something.
    Continually: This is something we are to do all the time—no exceptions.
    Offer: Defined as an expression of readiness to do or give something if desired. We must be ready to willingly, of our own will, give what is ours to Him who bought it with His blood.
    The: Pretty self-explanatory.
    Sacrifice: This is the act of forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.  Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim. We are giving up something, much as our flesh wants to keep it, in exchange for something so much better, Christ’s name being glorified.
    Of: Nothing needed here.
    Praise: We are to express our appreciation of God and the mighty things He has done. Declaring Christ’s works to all who we see. Expressing our admiration of God and His greatness.
    To: We do all the above to one Person, with the goal of bringing Him glory.
    God: All of our praise is to be offered to God. He is worthy of all of our praise, and because of His holiness, we offer the fruit of our lips.
    That is: Defining what the sacrifice of praise is.
    The: I think you have the general idea.
    Fruit: Basically the outcome of our lips; our words.
    Of: Nothing needed here.
    Our: Not God’s, not the preacher’s, not our peer’s, but ours. Even if no one else around us is praising Him, it is our job to be offering the fruit of our lips to Him.
    Lips: The things God has given us to talk with.
    Giving: Synonymous with offering. It must be done willingly and with sincerity.
    Thanks: Expressing our appreciation and gratitude for all He has done. Notice, it does not say complaining or grumbling.
    To: Who our thanks is directed at.
    His: Not ours.
    Name: What identifies Him as the King. His name has exceedingly great power. We must give glory and thanks to His name.

It is my prayer that you too may by Him continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God,  giving thanks to His name.

About the author:
Allison is a 15-year-old daughter of the King.  Her aim in life is to be pleasing and honoring to Him.  She has a passion for encouraging other young ladies in the Lord.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

In Honour of Mom

Wow; Mother’s Day is already here! Time has passed very quickly since last Mother’s Day! And I’m sure each one of us has noticed—just a bit more—how much Mom does for us, in every way, every day.

Whether it’s cleaning a muddy sibling, cooking meals when the power is out, or brainstorming ways to efficiently pack things for a trip, she’s always there and she always knows exactly what to do and how to do it.

And I really can’t think of anything else to say, other than:

Thank you, Mom. For everything.

And here are two videos, just to say, “thank you for being Mom”.


Thanks, Mom. Even if I don’t say it much—you mean a lot to me.

With love,

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Recipe Wednesday: Chai Tea Latte

Mary Cassatt: Tea” by freeparking :-| is licensed under CC BY 2.0
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Lipton tea bags
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 whole clove
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • ¼ cup sugar (or less)
  • whipped cream
  • ground cinnamon

     Combine water, tea, cinnamon stick, clove, and ginger; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in milk and return to boil for 1 minute. Strain off nonliquid ingredients. Add sugar. Top with whipped cream and cinnamon.
     Note: I use Chai Tea instead of Lipton with spices.

A super good, warm drink on a winter or rainy day! :)
-Jessica S.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Thoughts for Tuesday

What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?



What have you thanked the Lord for today?

(I'm sorry this is so short and to the point...I'm kind of running low on inspiration today. ;) Blessings!)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Lighted Fire

I’m sure most if not all of you have had some experience building and lighting a fire in your lifetime. We have the privilege of having a coal range to heat the kitchen, cook meals on, and heat our water, and since we try to use as little electricity as possible we have to run the range frequently to make sure we have enough hot water to get through the day’s needs. We also have a log burner in the living room, and with the two combined we often have the chance to get a lot of experience in lighting fires!

        “Cat and fire” by Michel Filion is licensed under CC BY 2.0
When you first go to start a fire, you have to start with the stuff that burns easiest—such as newspaper and cardboard. On top of that, we usually pile a few pinecones, then a few thin pieces of wood, and then slightly thicker wood. After that, you can put a thicker piece of wood on or beside your stack. It usually works best if you build your pile against the side of the stove, so that the oxygen can more easily get in there to help the fire burn.

Then you set the newspaper alight, and blow gently on it so that the fire will burn hotter. Sometimes, it doesn’t catch the pinecones and thin pieces of wood right away, so you have to put more newspaper and cardboard in. The fire might almost die, but with coaxing, patience, and gentle (and sometimes harsh!) blowing, and maybe a little more newspaper in there, the fire usually takes off and the room starts to warm up.

The Christian life is a lot like that, too. When we first become Christians, we are excited about following Jesus. We burn hot for a little while…and then somehow our fervour slowly seems to die. We start to wonder whether anything really did happen back there or not, and slowly our little light goes out. Then God adds a bit of newspaper, and starts blowing again. Sometimes, He has to blow pretty harshly to get our attention. After a bit, we get the message, and slowly start to warm up and get excited again. After a while, the fire is burning well, but you do have to replenish the amount of wood from time to time, or it will go out.

Proverbs 26:20 says, “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out….” God has given us plenty of wood to use—the Bible—to keep our fires burning brightly. But it’s our choice whether or not we use that wood to feed and grow on. Sometimes, it requires some heavy wading to find a jewel of encouragement for the day—especially when you feel you don’t have much time to do it—but like wood that is still slightly damp when thrown in the fire it will catch and burn eventually.

Our responsibility to actively seek God’s will and try to learn from Him. Just as we blow on the newspaper to start a fire, we also have to blow on the little flame that He has given us with faith in His promises, praise of His goodness, and prayers for His guidance. Just like a fire needs fuel, oxygen, and heat to burn, we need to use the Bible as our fuel, prayer as our daily communication with Him, and faith and praise as the heat by which people can tell that we are real followers of Jesus. We don’t want to be one of those fake fires that look like they’re burning but they really aren’t—we want outsiders to see that this faith we possess is real.

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Jesus Cares

I can think of lots of examples
When things have completely gone wrong
Life has turned itself topsy-turvy
And I've prayed to God before long.

"Oh Jesus, help! I'm in despair!
I have no idea what to do.
Give me aid, rest, reassurance!"
But before I had called, He knew.

He looked down from Heaven and saw me
Before I got into my plight.
He wrapped His arms around me
And held me nice and tight.

It's wonderful to have someone like Him
Who will scatter and banish my fears.
He's my King! My Saviour! Almighty God!
And the awesome thing is that He cares.


Blessings to you all!