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text 2020-09-24 03:13
Pastor Che Ahn - Equipping the Saints Promo

Pastor Ché Ahn - Equipping the Saints (Promo)

 

In 1984 Ché Ahn was called by God to Los Angeles to see a Great Harvest. He believes that we are in a day and age where every medium is necessary for the Church to carry out this passionate pursuit of the Gospel, and to see God’s people equipped. After much prayer and being led by the Holy Spirit, Ché has chosen 12 powerfully anointed leaders in their sphere of influence to join him on his new TV show, Equipping the Saints with Ché Ahn—premiering Tuesday, July 28 on GOD TV! Tune in weekly to hear stories of signs and wonders, receive biblically sound teachings and powerful insights on a variety of topics, ranging from the prophetic, business, family, education, government and more.

Subscribe for the latest videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKBSe9eCBOKAlf5tp2RcUDg

Stay Connected:

Instagram | https://www.instagram.com/cheahn/

Facebook | https://www.facebook.com/PastorCheAhn/

Twitter | https://twitter.com/che_ahn

Ché Ahn Website | https://cheahn.org/

#harvest rock church

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review 2020-06-25 04:00
I AM Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  I AM

Author: Diane Stortz

Genre:  Juvenile nonfiction, Bible stories

Release Date: 2016

Creator, Comforter, Healer, Friend. God’s names tell us who He is, what He is like, and what He does. This beautiful book covers 40 of the Bible’s many names and descriptive titles for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, including Jehovah Jireh, The Lord My Shepherd, Immanuel, Rabbi, and I AM.
 
Through Bible stories, short devotions, and prayers, children discover the meaning of each name and how it relates to their lives. As they develop understanding of God’s character and His love for them, children will grow to know, love, and trust the great I AM more and more.
 
“Those who know your name put their trust in you.” –Psalm 9:10



Click HERE to get your copy!



About the Author

 


Diane Stortz is a multipublished author who writes to make God’s wonders known to the next generation. Her children’s releases include the best-selling Say & Pray Bible and I AM: 40 Reasons to Trust God, both from Tommy Nelson. Diane’s books for women, A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year and Encountering God’s Heart for You, both from Bethany House, encourage women to get to know God through His Word, the Bible. Diane and her husband have two married daughters and five grandchildren—all boys! Visit her at www.DianeStortz.com.



More from Diane

 

 

You can often guess someone’s age by considering their name. Diane, for example, was popular in the 1950s, so . . . that tells you something about me.

But God’s personal name? Well, it’s ageless. Just like Him.

When Moses met God at the burning bush and received the task of leading the Israelites out of Egypt, he wasn’t exactly thrilled at first. He peppered God with questions, including, “When I tell the people that I met you here and you gave me this assignment, they’re going to want to know your name. What should I tell them?”

The Israelites had just about forgotten who the God of their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was.

But God hadn’t forgotten them. Not at all. God told Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. . . . Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14).

I AM WHO I AM. I always have been. I will always be. I will never change.

Choosing a book title is rarely easy, and choosing a title for this book about the names of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit took a long time. I couldn’t be more grateful to the Tommy Nelson publishing team who developed and settled on the title I AM: 40 Reasons to Trust God.

My prayer for every child who reads this book and every family that goes through the book together, and for myself: May we all grow mightily in our understanding of who God is and our relationship with Him! As Psalm 9:10 says, “Those who know your name put their trust in you.”
 
 

My Review

 

From the moment I first opened Diane Stortz’s “I AM: 40 Reasons to Trust God”, I knew that it was going to be spectacular. If you can, I recommend getting the hardcover version because the embossing on the front cover and the sparkling waves just can’t be conveyed on Kindle. There is a nice blue ribbon bookmark inside, as well. All of the pages are in full color and are gorgeously illustrated with figures and scenes that will appeal to young readers. The format is well-executed, with the book divided into two sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament. For the former, the name of God is given in English and then Hebrew, with a pronunciation (which I found very useful), such as The Lord My Rock (Jehovah Tsuri), and for the New Testament, with a few exceptions, the English name is given, such as the Good Shepherd. This is followed by a Scripture verse and Bible story, noting which chapters of the Bible the story comes from; a key point; a What Does It Mean section that connects the story to kids’ experiences today; a brief prayer; other Scripture verses that explore the same theme; and a short What Happened Next paragraph that explains how God is working and how this story ties into the following one.

For a medium-length children’s book, “I AM” is a respectable compendium that highlights many of the main stories from both the Old and New Testaments. Some of those which are not directly focused on, such as Noah’s ark, are told in the What Happened Next sections. This is not a substitute for the Bible, nor is it meant to be, but rather a supplement that allows kids and their guardians to connect some of the many names of God with familiar Bible accounts. I learned new Hebrew names just reading it myself as an adult! Because it is a children’s book, the stories are naturally toned down and do not include all of the mature details, but they still demonstrate conflict and how God fights for us, as with David and Goliath and Daniel and the lion’s den. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to young readers and to families who are able to read it to their little ones.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

 

Blog Stops

 

 
 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Diane is giving away  the grand prize package of signed copies of all three I AM books!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

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review 2020-06-18 05:15
A River to Cross Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  A River to Cross

Author: C.L. Smith

Genre:  Biblical Fiction

Release Date: November, 2017

Although human eyes see only a river separating Israel from the Promised Land, primordial powers of darkness are determined to prevent a crossing that will change the world.

In the thrilling sequel to Balaam’s Curse, Acsah, Othniel, Jonathan and their friends sort through the rubble of the Midianite war for pieces of the simple and innocent life they’ve lost. But there is no going back. While nearly drowning in personal rivers of disappointment, grief, and fear, they hardly notice the Jordan River slowly rising to an impassable, raging torrent. By the time they do, Moses is dead. Yahweh has made it clear that Joshua is his chosen replacement, but the people have little faith that this hesitant man can lead them into Canaan.

To bolster confidence, Joshua sends Salmon and another young spy across the river in a reconnaissance mission that plunges them into a world where evil prowls in broad daylight and death waits in the darkness. They escape the depraved city of Jericho only by the quick thinking of a Canaanite girl who risks her life in exchange for a promise of rescue. Now her life and the future of the world depend on crossing that river.


Click HERE to get your copy!



About the Author

 


C.L. SMITH, former missionary and junior high English/history teacher, has been captivating audiences around the world for years with the timeless thrill of biblical tales. Now in her retirement years she is writing The Stones of Gilgal biblical novels. The books weave her lifetime love of learning and people into the fabric of obscure ancient texts, creating an unforgettable tapestry of rich scenes and colorful characters.

The narrative unfolds from the viewpoint of six minor biblical characters who experienced the miracles and mayhem of the era of Joshua (stories recounted in the last half of Numbers through parts of Judges) bringing this ancient world to life. This deeply-researched telling, of old stories makes them new again and relevant to our world today. She has completed three of six books in the series. The books are chronological, each adding layers to our understanding of the characters and their life situations, but each book can be enjoyed as a story complete within itself.

Learn more at www.stonesofgilgal.com


More from C.L. Smith

 


HAVE YOU EVER?

  • tried reading Old Testament stories and wondered why such violence is found in the Good Book?
  • heard anyone say, “I like Jesus, but the God of the Old Testament seems so blood-thirsty and vengeful”?
  • wondered how Joshua’s army—slaughtering whole towns because God told them to—was different from ISIS and other militant religious armies today?
Have you ever wished you had good answers for people who ask those questions?

Imagine a story that deals with those questions and reads like the high adventure of an epic fantasy novel. Well, you don’t have to imagine. The Stones of Gilgal novels tackle those tough questions.

 A River to Cross is the second book of The Stones of Gilgal series––but plunge right in! Each book can be read as a story complete within itself.

Background from book one: The children of Israel celebrate their arrival at the border of Canaan, their long-awaited Promised Land. But the evil prophet Balaam has been hired to stop them. His plot turns their joyful celebration into a nightmare. Balaam’s Curse threatens the very existence of God’s people on earth, leads to the death of the last of the Exodus generation, and leaves their children reeling.

Setting for book two: The crisis is past. Acsah, Othniel and friends begin picking up the pieces of their shattered lives. Their parent’s generation is gone, but against all odds, they survived the rebellion, plague, and war initiated by Balaam’s Curse. Like a loving grandfather, Moses gathers his people together for his final words. He reviews the covenant law and appoints Joshua as their new leader. The people grieve the loss of their mountain of strength. But inspired by the passion of his farewell speeches, the people look to the future with fiercely bright hope. They will cross the Jordan and claim their inheritance. What could possibly go wrong?

The Characters

Six of the major characters in this series are minor but real people found in scripture. They all came of age during the era of Joshua, experiencing the transition from the Wilderness Wanderings to finding a home in the Promised Land. They all crossed the Jordan, witnessed the fall of Jericho and the sun standing still at a word from Joshua—life-changing events shaping them for leadership roles as mature adults in the book of Judges.

  • Othniel, who becomes the first hero-Judge of Israel––Judges 3:7-11
  • Acsah, only daughter of the heroic Caleb––Judges 1:12-15
  • Rahab, the courageous Canaanite harlot not only saved by faith but honored with a place in the lineage of King David and Jesus Christ. Joshua 2
  • Salmon, prince of the tribe of Judah, future husband of Rahab––only found in genealogies: Ruth 4:18-22, Matthew 1:5
  • Phinehas, grandson of Aaron, warrior of righteousness and future high priest––Numbers 25, 30, Joshua 22, and Judges 20,
  • Jonathan, grandson of Moses––Judges 17-18
  • Plus Abihail, fictionalized daughter-in-law of the biblical Achan, Joshua 7


    My Review


    “The point I want to make now, however, is that we must wait for God to call us to leadership. Perhaps, my impetuous act delayed the rescue of God’s people by forty years. When we do what makes sense to us without consulting him, we usually deceive ourselves and go contrary to his will. God will use you someday for something great, something worthy of your talents. Wait for him to make the path clear to you.”

    Through The Stones of Gilgal series, C.L. Smith has become another one of my favorite Biblical fiction authors. What I love most about the genre is that, when done well, it provides insight into some of the background of the Bible, illuminating the customs and cultural practices of the era and hopefully leading to further understanding of God’s Word. Sometimes reading the Bible stories that have become so familiar to us in a fictional context can cause us to consider details that we may not have before, and to truly connect with the Biblical figures, considering their emotions and reactions anew. This, in turn, helps us to make connections with others in the world around us, which is increasingly important in these days of division and unrest. Most importantly of all, these fictional works should point us back to and renew our desire for the Bible itself.

    Book two of The Stones of Gilgal, “A River to Cross”, focuses on the Israelites as they prepare to enter Canaan, the land of milk and honey that the Lord has promised them as their inheritance. However, the times are anything but easy. Following “Balaam’s Curse” (see my review HERE), the Midian war has left a scar on the Israelite tribes, and there is foreshadowing of more trouble to come. Author Smith engages readers with Joshua’s promotion to leader and the wicked Canaanite city of Jericho, offering with meticulous detail   her interpretation of how these stories may have transpired. She does so while retaining the historical authenticity of each story, often incorporating Scripture quotations directly into the text, and making each encounter exciting and interesting.

    As with book one, “A River to Cross” consists of multiple viewpoints, which are designated by the character’s name at the beginning of each section. The first three chapters, especially, introduce (or re-introduce) a multitude of figures, and I will admit that I did have difficulty with this initially. I had some difficulty keeping track of the more minor characters and would have benefited from a character list at the beginning of the book or even a genealogy. I am not skilled with remembering names, however, so this may just be my own personal issue, and I do appreciate that Smith employs third-person narration throughout, which helps to prevent confusion. She also skillfully interweaves direct Scripture into the narrative, as with Moses’ farewell speeches. Reading about the emotional reaction that the people had when Moses announced that Joshua would be the one leading them across the Jordan was eye-opening. I do not think that I have ever really considered the emotional impact that this and other situations had. Likewise, my heart went out to Acsah and Jonathan as I read. My favorite part of this book is the story of Joshua’s spies, Salmon and Jathniel, and Rahab, and how God worked in their circumstances to save them from destruction. Of the three, Rahab’s story is especially powerful.

    While this book can be read as a standalone, I would highly recommend reading the series in order, as they are intended to be read in tandem, and the characters and storyline overlap and continue forward. This is a clean book, but I would recommend it for mature readers because it contains adult themes, including allusions to rape, fight scenes, and brutality. Nevertheless, it depicts how God is always working behind the scenes of our lives, just as He was for the children of Israel thousands of years ago, to bring us hope and a future as He promised.

    I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

Inklings and notions, June 16

Blossoms and Blessings, June 17 (Author Interview)

Batya’s Bits, June 17

For the Love of Literature, June 18

Emily Yager, June 19

Betti Mace, June 20

Older & Smarter?, June 21

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, June 22

Artistic Nobody, June 23 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, June 23

Texas Book-aholic, June 24

Through the Fire Blogs, June 25 (Author Interview)

She Lives To Read, June 26

deb’s Book Review, June 26

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 27

A Baker’s Perspective , June 28 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, June 29

 
 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, C.L. is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

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review 2020-04-10 07:00
Eden Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  Eden

Author: Brennan S. McPherson

Genre:  Biblical Fiction

Release Date: April 1, 2020

“You want me to tell of how I broke the world.”

It’s the year 641 since the beginning of the world, and when Eve passes away, she leaves Adam the only man on earth who remembers everything from the beginning of the world.

When Enoch, God’s newly appointed prophet, decides to collect the stories of the faithful from previous generations, he finds Adam in desperate need to confess the dark secrets he’s held onto for too long.

Beside a slowly burning bonfire in the dead of night, Adam tells his story in searing detail. From the beginning of everything, to how he broke the world, shattered Eve’s heart, and watched his family crumble.

Will Enoch uncover what led so many of Adam’s children away from God? And will Adam find the redemption and forgiveness he longs for?



Click HERE for your copy.
 

About the Author

 


BRENNAN S. MCPHERSON writes epic, imaginative biblical fiction with heart-pounding plots and lyrical prose, for readers who like to think biblically and feel deeply. He lives with his wife and young daughter in the Midwest, and spends as much of his spare time with them as possible.
 

 

 

Read an Exclusive Excerpt

 

In my beginning was not darkness, but Light.

As I opened my eyes for the first time, I saw dust motes swirling around five bright points. I reached for them and realized the dust was not blowing past me but instead settling across the complex shapes in my arms.

Distracted, I twisted my wrist, seeing muscle, tendon, bone, and a partial layer of skin. Clenching my fingers one by one, I saw the movement in my joints.

Fascinated, I watched as a swathe of dust poured over me like a sheet of silk and morphed into smooth, brown flesh. I ran my fingers across my new skin, and when the sound of shifting sand settled, noticed what sounded like gentle Music riding on the breath that flowed into me.

I inhaled.

Exhaled.

Inhaled again.

“Adam,” I said, for I had heard that name—my name—in the Music.

I realized that my Father was singing over me, and in his singing, he had given me life and form, and had named me Adam.

He smiled at me, with those dark brown eyes, and let soft melodies fall from his tongue as I lay on my back.

He lifted me from the mud and burned the remaining dust from my skin with the heat of his presence. But he did not hurt me as a natural flame might. Instead, he filled and cleansed me. And the joy of him filled me with an insatiable desire to experience everything around me, to understand the world he had sung into existence.

I’ve never since felt so whole as I did with him in Eden. Because inside me was nothing that did not belong. Only him, and the breath he gave, and the Music he sang, and the smells of Eden, and the touch of his Light, and the taste of his name on my lips as I spoke for the second time. “Father.” I smiled and laughed.

He stood magnificent, warm, compassionate. The image of the invisible condensed in a life foreknown before the foundations of the world were formed.

I felt his pride over me and laughed again, only now with tears.

My first moments were not like those of a newborn child come from a womb. Instead, they were of a child gone into the womb. Swaddled in the Light of God. Cocooned in his satisfaction.

I was Adam. Man fully formed. Reflection of perfection.

In joy, I fell to my hands and knees and bowed my forehead to the ground. Tears flowed to the soil I’d been formed from. How great! How wonderful this being was who had made me for himself, and who so unendingly satisfied me. Nothing I’ve experienced in my long years could ever make me forget it. That sense of purpose. Of everything being right.

Ah, yes. I see wonder on your face, Enoch, at how tears could be present in a world yet unbroken by sin.

Have you never wondered why the kiss of a lover can bring tears to our eyes? It is because some goods are so great that they must be given vent. For not all tears spring from sorrow. And not all aches are unwanted.

Yet still, my Father lifted me and wiped my cheeks. Then he led me across hills and valleys, puddles and rivers. He pointed at plants and skittering animals and insects, and it seemed as though I could hear the echo of his melodies in their movements.
 
 

My Review

 

Over the past couple of years, Biblical fiction has become one of my favorite genres—but only when it’s done well. And that is where it becomes thorny, and where it sinks or swims. The key to writing Biblical fiction is twofold: illuminating the Word without adding anything to it or contradicting it, and causing readers to think more about the Bible and to want to study it more deeply. This is especially important when writing about Biblical accounts themselves, as opposed to fictional characters who lived during Biblical times. Suffice it to say, succeeding is very difficult. In spite of this, however, Brennan McPherson excels at crafting Biblical novels that stem from the original Bible stories and that take readers on thought-provoking journeys into the heart of God’s Word.

“Eden,” Brennan McPherson’s latest Biblical fiction novel, approaches the story of the first couple in a unique manner. Told from Adam’s point of view, McPherson employs the mise-en-abyme technique. Thus, instead of a detached third-person account, the story is related by Adam himself to Enoch. This infuses untold emotion and empathy into what is for many a very familiar story. Adam relates, “I was Adam. Man fully formed. Reflection of perfection,” a description that stood out to me because it reminds me that we are all created in God’s image. In the novel, God appears in human form in the Garden, and this is one aspect that I’m not entirely comfortable with; I’m not sure if I can accurately articulate what bothers me about it, but I have issues with how God’s character is portrayed in these passages. I think that what I struggle with is not so much how God appears, because of course He later in history comes to earth as a man to ultimately die for our sins, but some of His actions. Adam notes His reticence as the event of the fall approaches, and how at various times He has expressions of regret or unhappiness on His face. While I agree that He would of course have known that the fall was going to happen, I personally do not think that He would have allowed this foreknowledge to taint the time He spent with Adam and Eve.

While reading, many things caused me to stop and ponder, which is, again, a mark of well-written Biblical fiction. Adam observes in hindsight that God taught him and Eve everything they would need to know in order to survive after being cast out of Eden. There are also some beautiful descriptions of life with God in Eden before the fall, which in my mind prefigure the face-to-face relationship that we will have one day in God’s Kingdom. On the other hand, from the time of her creation, there seems to be tension between Eve and Adam, and this intensifies after they leave Eden. Adam describes fallen human nature by relating that “Everyone strives to blame another for sin, but sin is inside us. Sin is the purposeful twisting of our hearts to anything other than our original Father.” Indeed, this brought up another point; in this novel, Adam is hated and heavily criticized in the story for “breaking the world.” For some reason, this surprised me; I never considered that he would be treated almost as an outcast among his own family, because today I think that most of us acknowledge the fact that we all sin and fall short of God’s glory, but to bear the blame for all of humanity’s fallen-ness would be tortuous. It is another example of God’s great love for us, that Jesus took our blame, our sin upon Himself.

McPherson has added some commentary at the end of the book; it takes readers through Genesis 1-4, upon which “Eden” is based, and explains some of the choices that the author made in writing this story. The note about Cain and Abel is one that I also found interesting, but I will leave that to readers to discover on their own. I will say that I am intrigued by the author’s view that some level of pain may have existed in Eden based on the phrasing of some of the Biblical text. While much of the story itself is somber and forlorn, there is a thread of hope, just as God has placed in the very first chapters of the Bible. Throughout the heartaches and strife that comprise his life after Eden, Adam eventually comes to a peaceful conclusion: “He realized then that the Father’s will had not been broken by his evil, yet was still coming to be.” Because God had a plan from the very beginning and nothing ever takes Him by surprise, we can always rest confidently in Him, knowing that He holds all our yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows, and that when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we have the promise of an eternity with Him, free of pain and suffering, to look forward to, a glorious promise that shines brightly in the darkness.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

 

Blog Stops

 

 
 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate his tour, Brennan is giving away the grand prize package of a “McPherson Publishing bundle”, which includes the following books: a copy of Flood, Babel, the three Psalm Series novellas, and The Simple Gospel book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

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review 2020-03-27 06:30
Balaam's Curse Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book


Book:  Balaam’s Curse

Author: C.L. Smith

Genre:  Biblical fiction

Release Date: 2016

Unfathomable evil grips the ancient homeland of the Children of Israel. When Yahweh, Most High God, led his people out of slavery in Egypt to confront it, they failed miserably and spent the next forty years wandering homeless in the desert. Now they are ready to try again. But before they can cross the Jordan River to enter the Promised Land, the prophet Balaam is summoned from Babylon to stop them. Joining forces with supernatural powers, he unleashes a plot so twisted that the name of Balaam is used as a synonym for seductive evil a thousand years later in the Book of Revelation.

Aided by the ruthlessly ambitious Princess Cozbi, the prophet gathers a coalition of five Midianite kings who will stop at nothing to defeat Israel and prevent a crossing that will change the world. Balaam’s Curse, Book One of The Stones of Gilgal, is an epic telling of the resulting deception, revolt, plague, and war. Familiar biblical characters—Moses, Caleb and Joshua—stride through this tale of mayhem and miracles. But this is the coming-of-age story of the next generation, young people nurtured in a simple wilderness life who suddenly find themselves caught in a vortex of violence and upheaval beyond anything they could have imagined.



Click HERE to get your copy.
 

About the Author

 


C.L. Smith, retired junior high school English and history teacher, former missionary, and lifetime student of the Bible, has been captivating audiences around the world for years with the timeless thrill of biblical tales. More than twenty years ago while reading the books of Joshua and Judges, Othniel caught her attention and then his future wife, Acsah. They are only mentioned in a few short verses, but there were a lot of possibilities embedded there. They lived through an exciting era peppered with some other fascinating minor characters of the Bible. The more she thought about them, the more it seemed they were begging her to tell their story. Well, Acsah was. Othniel didn’t say much. He’s pretty quiet. But they convinced her that their impressive and important story had been buried too long among the spectacular events of the time of Joshua. It was about time someone told it. The idea for a biblical novel quickly grew into The Stones of Gilgal series. Balaam’s Curse was published in 2016, A River to Cross in 2017, and Trouble in the Ruins in September, 2019.
 

More from C.L. Smith

 


The light of God’s love dispels the darkness obscuring the era of Joshua and the violent conquest of Canaan. Be inspired by this epic series of biblical novels illuminating the murky mists of ancient time with truth applicable to modern life.


Balaam’s Curse

The first book of the series plunges the reader into a nightmarish tale of terror instigated by an evil prophet from Babylonia. If you think you remember the story of Balaam and his talking donkey from Sunday School, think again. When God puts words of blessing in the prophet’s mouth, thwarting his attempt to curse Israel, Balaam joins forces with supernatural powers in a scheme so twisted that his name is used as a synonym for seductive evil a thousand years later in the Book of Revelation.

Forming a coalition with five Midianite kings and the ruthlessly ambitious Princess Cozbi, the evil prophet unleashes a deadly plot against the twelve tribes of Israel. He will stop at nothing to prevent them from crossing into the Promised land to claim their inheritance. This is a gripping tale of the seduction, revolt, plague, and war that traps the Children of Israel in the Valley of Acacias east of the Jordan for months. Well-known Biblical heroes—Moses, Caleb and Joshua—stride through its pages, but the story unfolds primarily through the eyes of the next generation, young people born and nurtured in the simple wilderness life of the forty-year Wanderings. Suddenly, on the brink of their new life in the Promised Land, they find themselves in a life or death struggle that tests their strength and batters their faith before they’ve even crossed the river.


The Story Behind the Story

This series of biblical novels began with a new interest in Othniel, the first of the biblical hero-judges. His love story with Acsah and his heroic adventures are summarized in only a few words of scripture, but I saw a lot of possibilities embedded in those brief verses. Digging deeper, I realized that Othniel and Acsah came of age during the turbulent era of Joshua along with a handful of other fascinating minor biblical characters. The more I thought about Othniel, Acsah, and friends, the more I was convinced that their impressive and important story had been buried too long among the spectacular events of the time of Joshua and it was about time someone told it. The result is the six-part Stones of Gilgal saga showing how the obstacles overcome in their youth shape each character for their ultimate roles in the story of the settlement of Canaan. The series ends with Othniel rising to save Israel from an oppressive enemy as the first and most noble of the hero-judges.


The Dark Side

The Stones of Gilgal saga includes several “tales of terror,” dark episodes standing in juxtaposition to some of the Bible’s most dazzling miracles. I see these stories as dark and light puzzle pieces, making sense only when viewed within the framework of the Great Cosmic War. Whether read as ancient history or truth-teaching myth, these incidents are chapters in the epic story of the entire Bible, a good God working to save humanity from the forces of evil.


The Characters

Six of my characters are minor but real characters found in scripture who lived during the era of Joshua, experiencing the transition from the Wilderness Wanderings to the Promised Land. They all crossed the Jordan, witnessed the fall of Jericho and the sun standing still at a word from Joshua—life-changing events that prepared them for leadership roles in the book of Judges.

  • Othniel, who becomes the first hero-Judge of Israel
  • Acsah, only daughter of the heroic Caleb
  • Phinehas, grandson of Aaron, future high priest
  • Jonathan, grandson of Moses whose story appears in Judges 17-18
  • Salmon, prince of the tribe of Judah, who appears only in genealogies as the husband of Rahab
  • Rahab, the courageous Canaanite harlot not only saved by faith but honored with a place in the lineage of King David and Jesus Christ.
  • Plus Abihail, fictionalized daughter-in-law of the biblical Achan


My Review

 

Thus far this has been an incredible year for Biblical fiction! Tessa Afshar’s “Daughter of Rome”, Connilyn Cossette’s “Like Flames in the Night”, Brennan McPherson’s “Babel” (2019, but I read it this year) and “Eden”, and now “Balaam’s Curse” by C.L. Smith. It is a blessing to see more and more Christian authors approaching Biblical fiction without compromising God’s Word. When done well, it encourages the reader and reinforces or perhaps even introduces the Biblical text, inspiring deeper study of the Word. Such was the case for me with “Balaam’s Curse.”

This year I am following a YouVersion Bible reading plan that consists of daily readings from both the Old and New Testaments, and therefore the foundation of this novel is one that I’ve recently read, making my reading experience all the more enjoyable. One technique that I recognized Smith employing early on is referencing other Bible stories that would already have occurred prior to the setting of Balaam’s and thereby demonstrating that the ancient Israelites were aware of previous Biblical history. Similarly, the fact that Moses is recording the Israelites’ journey out of Egypt and through the wilderness further displays the accuracy and eternal longevity of God’s Word.

Told through multiple viewpoints, “Balaam’s Curse” chronicles a fictionalized account of the prophet Balaam, whose story appears in the Bible in Numbers 22. In Smith’s fictional account, Balaam has spoken blessing over the Israelites rather than cursing them, and now he pledges himself to Baal in order to get rid of God’s people so that they cannot enter the Promised Land. Othniel, Acsah, and Rahab all have parts in this saga, as do more familiar characters such as Moses, Caleb, and Joshua, offering readers a panoptic view of this seminal point in the history of God’s people. Ephesians 6:12 encompasses the overall theme of this novel, and it repeatedly came to mind as I read: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” As such, while there are certainly some disconcerting scenes in this book, it is important to remember that other gods such as Baal are false gods and are not real, but the evil of our true enemy, the devil, is very real. Despite the power struggles between good and evil in this story and in our lives today, we need to remember that God is good and that He will always prevail; our victory is already secure in Christ’s sacrifice for us.

A few details that I appreciated and would like to call attention to are the simple map at the beginning of the book, which really helps readers to visualize where the events are occurring, and “The Family of Nations descended from Terah” family tree and List of Characters found at the end of the story. These resources are a great help in understanding the story and in making further Biblical connections. Nevertheless, “Balaam’s Curse” is highly readable and, while containing supernatural elements that may be disturbing to more sensitive readers, is an excellent work of Biblical fiction that explores the transition time between Israel’s 40-year wilderness wandering and their entry into the Promised Land.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

 

 

Blog Stops

 

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, C.L. is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

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