I don’t often add fictional books into my reading rotation, but when I do I want something excellent. I’ve always been fond of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, but The Valley of Fear is a cut above!
Doyle was a medical doctor. Probably because of my medical/science background, I’ve always found Dr. Doyle’s scientific observations through the eyes and brain of his first-rate detective to be quite intriguing. I also appreciate how Doyle gives his readers all of the same evidence that Sherlock Holmes observes so that the solution becomes an enlightening “Aha!” moment.
The Valley Of Fear had an added dimension to it. The main part of the crime is solved fairly early in the story, but then one of the characters hands Dr. Watson a written narrative that turns out to be the backdrop to the commission of the crime. Dr. Watson then spends almost all of the remainder of the book telling the story that was given to him. So the crime is committed, the crime is solved, and then we read an in-depth account of what led to the crime. Just as with all of Doyle’s stories, all of the clues are readily available in this narrative, which makes the “Aha!” culmination of this behind-the-scenes narrative all the more satisfying.
This book is a wonderful way to either start your Sherlock Holmes reading adventure or continue your enjoyment of these wonderfully-rich stories.
Tim Elmore’s books are always chockfull of the latest research and insights from multiple sources. Tim does an excellent job of synthesizing mountains of evidence to give parents and teachers actionable steps to help the students with whom they work. Here are just a few of the quotes he shared from other authors in his book Marching Off The Map.
“We all want to progress, but if you’re on the wrong road progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road. In that case, the man who turns back the soonest is the one who is most progressive.” —C.S. Lewis
“Tell me a fact and I will learn. Tell me the truth and I will believe. Tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever.” —Indian Proverb
“Start where people are before you try to take them where you want them to go.” —Jim Rohn
“Shooting above people’s heads doesn’t mean you have superior ammunition—it means you are a lousy shot.” —Oscar Handlin
“If you think our future will require better schools, you’re wrong. The future of education calls for entirely new learning environments. If you think we’ll need better teachers, you’re wrong. Tomorrow’s learners will need guides who take on fundamentally different roles.” —Dr. Wayne Hammond
“If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.” —Omar Bradley
“For the first time in human history, the majority of people in the developed world are being asked to make a living with their minds, rather than their muscles. For 3000 years, humankind had an economy based on farming: till the soil, plant the seed, harvest the crop. Hard to do, but fairly easy to learn. Then, for 300 years, we had an economy based on industry: mold the parts, turn the crank, assemble the product. Hard to do, but also fairly easy to learn. Now, we have an economy based on information: acquire the knowledge, apply the analytics, use your creativity. Hard to do, hard to learn, and even once you’ve mastered it, you’ll have to start learning all over again, pretty much every day.” —Michael Bloomberg
“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” —Frederick Nietzsche
“Be the person you needed when you were young.” —Ayesha Saddiqi
Max Lucado is a storyteller par excellent! His craft is on full display in the engaging short story The Christmas Candle.
Lucado takes us back to Victorian-era England, to the small village of Cotswolds. Nothing much seems to happen in this little village, except for a visit from an angel every 25 years to one specific family. The Haddington family have been candle-makers for as far back as anyone can remember. Every quarter-century, just before Christmas, an angel appears in the Haddington’s shop and points out one special candle. When this unique candle is given away by the Haddingtons to an individual, they can pray for a miracle and expect that God will answer that prayer.
Lucado’s story centers on a time when the angel should be appearing soon. But Mr. and Mrs. Haddington are older now, and worried that they don’t have an heir to which the candle-making trade can be passed on, the townspeople are in more desperate need than ever before, and the village’s new pastor is highly skeptical about the so-called “miracle qualities” of an ordinary looking candle. And all the while, the time of the angel’s appearing is getting closer and closer.
The message Lucado is able to drive home through this story is truly a God-given gift that will encourage your faith. Whether you read this book at Christmas time or not, you will be uplifted in your faith in God’s power to do the miraculous!
I know suggesting that Jesus might have some “bad habits” sounds a bit sacrilegious, but you’ve got to check out my review of Leonard Sweet’s thought-provoking book (which you can find by clicking here). I have already shared a few quotes from this book here, but there were just too many good ones for just one post!
“Jesus’ mysterious, open-ended, twisty endings [to His stories] were brilliantly conceived, and His lack of explanation was perfectly pitched. He wanted people not only to think about the story and to converse with each other about the story, but also to ask Him about the story. Ultimately, Jesus’ stories were about cultivating a relationship with Him. We call it discipleship.”
“The people Jesus was interested in the most, the ones Jesus celebrated the most, were those who asked questions like He did. … Jesus loves people who would not just listen to Him, but who would follow Him, learn from Him, and be in relationship with Him—and with God.”
“Why do we feel that to be good and faithful Christians, we must not look too happy, not enjoy ourselves too much, when throughout the Scriptures, God clearly loves a party?”
“For Christians, every day is a reminder of the Resurrection. Each and every day should be a grand celebration of God’s amazing gift of Jesus. Everything in life is filled with Resurrection moments. And every person is filled with Resurrection hope just waiting to be celebrated. The church above all should be a place of festivities and joy. People should look at the church and think, What joyful people!”
“The ‘Nice God’ of therapeutic culture leads one to expect that if I have a need, God needs to meet my need. This is Christianity as Niceianity. For Jesus, God is loving and merciful and true but not necessarily ‘nice.’ The holy God is dangerous, because the holy God is truth.”
“Traveling with Jesus is not always dignified, pretty, or easy. Jesus takes the common routes and dangerous pathways, seeks out the messy and the dirty and the difficult. But traveling with Jesus is also beautiful, for those who follow Jesus also bring God’s lost and dirty people home to God—to be renewed, to be cleansed, to be clothed, to be loved.”
“How often does our ‘religion’ get between us and God? Are we so filled up with religion and all its trappings that there isn’t room for the inpourings of God’s presence and the outpourings of God’s power?”
“Jesus is the way into a life of truth, not a way out of life’s problems, difficulties, failures, and missteps.”
“Jesus was inclusive, but while He accepted people as they were, He didn’t affirm them as they were; He transfigured them into the singular images of God they were created to be.”
Reader’s of my blog will know that I seldom read fiction books, but Max Lucado tricked me into reading this one! I read the introduction to An Angel’s Story and thought, “Wow, this is going to be an interesting take on the Christmas story,” and I began reading. But before I realized I was reading a fictional account, I was hooked and had to keep on reading.
I’m so glad I did!
We often think of the night of Christ’s birth being—as the Christmas carols tell us—a silent night of wonder, a holy night of rejoicing, a festive night of an angel choir singing in the skies above Bethlehem. Indeed this is the picture we get in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
In Revelation, we see the lengths to which the devil and his hoard went to prevent the Advent of Jesus. And we also read about the angels who remain loyal to God battling against the dark forces in the heavens. Max Lucado imagines what this might of have looked like in the unseen spiritual world around Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.
If you’ve ever read anything from Max Lucado, you know that he is a first-class storyteller, and An Angel’s Story is no exception. Believe me: this book will grab your attention, keep you riveted until the very end, and give you a perspective of the night of Christ’s birth like you’ve probably never seen before.
I highly recommend this book to you!
Intentional Living by John Maxwell has a very different feel to it, compared to other Maxwell books, but I still liked it a lot! You can check out my book review by clicking here. One of the things vary familiar about this Maxwell book is the excellent content. Here is the first batch of quotes from Intentional Living.
“Most people want to hear or tell a good story. But they don’t realize that they can and should be the good story. That requires intentional living. It is the bridge that crosses the gap to a life that matters.”
“No one stumbles upon significance. We have to be intentional about making our lives matter. That calls for action—and not excuses. Most people don’t know this, but it’s easier to go from failure to success than from excuses to success.”
“If you want to live a life that matters, don’t start when you get good; start now so you become good.”
“Trying alone does not communicate true commitment. It’s half-hearted. It is not a pledge to do what’s necessary to achieve a goal. It’s another way of saying, ‘I’ll make an effort.’ That’s not many steps away from, ‘I’ll go through the motions.’ Trying rarely achieves anything significant. If an attitude of trying is not enough, then what is? An attitude of doing!”
“Every time we choose action over ease we develop an increasing level of self-worth, self-respect, and self-confidence.”
“Intentional living always has an idea. Unintentional living always has an excuse. Intentional living fixes the situation. Unintentional living fixes the blame. Intentional living makes it happen. Unintentional living wonders what happened. Intentional living says, ‘Here’s something I can do.’ Unintentional living says, ‘Why doesn’t someone else to do something?’”
“If you want to make a difference and live a life that matters, you need to embrace some words and reject others. We all have a running dialogue in our heads. What we say to ourselves either encourages us or discourages us. The words we need to embrace our positive words, words such as we, can, will, and yes. What do we need to eliminate? Me, can’t, won’t, and no.”
“Trying to make a huge change overnight often creates fear, uncertainty, and resistance, because the change appears unachievable. The idea of making small changes is less threatening and helps us overcome our hesitation and procrastination.”
“Do you believe in yourself? Your belief will drive your behavior. The thought I don’t think I can often arises out of I don’t think I am.”
“Purpose is the rudder on your boat. It gives you direction and keeps you going in the right direction when the wind is blowing and the waves are crashing against you. It provides calm and confidence in the midst of the storm.”
“The Son of God suffered (really suffered!) to deliver me from sinning. I cannot believe He suffered to make me miserable. Therefore, what He died to purchase must be more wonderful than the pleasures of sin.” —John Piper
“They who are Christ’s are kings. Take care that you wear your crown, by reigning over your lusts.” ―Charles Spurgeon
“Human beings are story-making engines, and when we’re confronted with randomness, we make up an egocentric version of what happened, and it involves us. So when things randomly go well, we give ourselves a pat on the back, a reminder of why we deserved it. And when they don’t, we seek out the ghost in whatever machine did us wrong and come up with a reason. … All the time we spend inventing reasons is probably better spent responding to what occurs.” —Seth Godin
Helpful medical health information: 9 Signs Of Improper Blood Circulation.
Here is another good reason to quit smoking.
[VIDEO] A heart-touching story of a family who adopted a beautiful girl names Sunflower―
Did you know among Americans the fear of death is only #2 on the list? Yep, 68% of people list this as their top fear. What could be more fearful than death?! Believe it or not, the #1 fear—listed by 74% of people—is public speaking! (Followed in a distant third place by the fear of spiders by only 30% of people).
Why would people fear speaking more than death? Maybe because they don’t think they have anything to say.
But if you almost died, or had a near-death experience, or even temporarily crossed over to the other side, don’t you think you’d have a story to tell? And don’t you think lots of people would want to hear your story? And wouldn’t you want to tell it to as many people as you could?
In other words, if you could stare down death and come back from the brink, you would not only overcome your fear of death, but your fear of public speaking too!
In John 11 there is the story of a man who not only had a near-death experience, but he actually died. In fact, he was dead for over four days! Lazarus was a part of a family that loved Jesus, and the Bible says that Jesus loved them dearly too.
Prior to this account of Lazarus’ death, there is no mention in Scripture of him speaking at all. He was clearly one who suffered from the fear of public speaking, and quite possibly the fear of death too. But after Jesus raised him from the dead, the Bible says large crowds came to Lazarus’ hometown of Bethany to hear his amazing back-from-the-dead story. And not only that, they began to put their faith in Jesus because of his story! (see John 12:9-11).
We have a back-from-the-dead story to tell too. All of us have sinned against God (Romans 3:23), and because of that we are under a death sentence for our sins (Romans 6:23). But when we put our faith in what Jesus did on the Cross for us, and we ask God to forgive us of our sins, we have been brought back to life!
We have looked death square in the eyes and laughed!
Now our darkest valleys—even our valleys of death—have no fear for us. The Lord is our Shepherd … His goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives AND we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever!
Not only should you not fear death, you shouldn’t fear public speaking. If you have been forgiven of your sins, you have a back-from-the-dead story to tell.
People need to hear your story! Why? Because they’re scared of death! So tell them about the love of a Savior that rescued you from death.
I invite you to join me next Sunday as we continue to celebrate Jesus Christ’s victory over death!
One of the things I’ve always liked about the Reader’s Digest was the quick, memorable way stories were presented. Pat Kirk’s compilation of stories in One Touch From The Maker does the same thing.
Over 30 stories — many of them told first person — tell about the miracles of God showing up in both ordinary and extraordinary situations. You’ll find stories about broken families and loving families; civilians and military personnel; young and old; urban, suburban, and country; national and international; land and sea; distant past and recent occurrence. In short, there’s enough evidence in these stories to bolster anyone’s faith that God sees our needs and God touches us at the point of our need.
These are not highly-polished, professionally-written stories. They are real people writing about their real experiences. They are stories we can all relate to.