Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Great Writing About A Great King

No offense intended to Benjamin Merkle that it took me a couple of months to get through this book. He's an excellent author. I expected a historical fiction novel, but this book is a NON-fiction narrative.

I applaud Mr. Merkle for his captivating authorship. An example from Chapter 3 illustrates the retreat of the Vikings when Alfred’s brother finally arrived at a fierce battle:

“All that was left was a view of the backside of a panic-stricken mob fleeing for its life. It took several moments for Alfred and his men to recover from their amazement and to realize what had happened. Suddenly, it became clear.

King Æthelred had finished his prayers.”

James Scott Bell (my mentor) would consider that last sentence a gem.

I wish my history books back in school had been written with such colorful word pictures and intense emotion. I'm sure my grades in that discipline would've improved. I loved history, but the texts were as dry as sawdust. Mr. Merkle made me care about King Alfred. I was saddened at Æthelred's untimely death, but encouraged by Alfred's unwavering tenacity against the marauding Danes.

I feel like I truly know this great king, although I had never heard of Alfred the Great before selecting this book. The White Horse King, Alfred, was a fierce warrior, a faithful Christian who sought wisdom, and a deeply committed leader who loved mercy and gave himself for his people, dying at the age of fifty.

The first of my friends to get a copy of this wonderful book is May Barnett, our resident Liverpudlian who said, “King Alfred sat by the fire...” when I told her I was reading about the White Horse King.

I highly recommend “The White Horse King – The Life of Alfred the Great” by Benjamin Merkle.

Great writing about a great leader!

Disclosure of Material Connection. I received this free book from Thomas Nelson Publishers as a part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Great Escape

I promised to post my notes from Andy Woods' sermon a few weeks back, but life's busyness got in the way. Until I can organize my notes, I'll post this devotional, which I submitted to PCCWeb Daily Devotion. They published it on February 8, 2010, and I received encouraging messages from people in Maryland, Indiana, Wisconsin, Canada, England, and Uganda. What a joy to know my cats' escapade one night would bless people from all walks of life around the world!
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me..." - John 10:27 (NASB)
The alarm woke me at 6:35. I punched the button and sat up. Something was missing. My husband Tom lay snoring beside me, but Pixie, my short-hair tabby, wasn't curled up next to me. Her sister, Feathers, the long-haired likeness of Pixie, wasn't stretched out at my feet.
I dragged myself out of bed and plodded to the kitchen to feed them. Neither cat ran to the cupboard. Even the dry food clinking into their bowls didn't bring them running.
"Where are they?" I asked.
"They're around here somewhere," Tom muffled into his pillow.
I searched the house, from room to room, calling their names.
No response.
The room where Tom was working on renovations had been a point of curiosity for them. I turned on the light and found a five-by-five inch square opening in the wood floor.
"Could you come here, please?" The calmness of my voice surprised me.
Tom stumbled, half asleep, into the workroom. "What's wrong?"
I pointed to the opening. "Where does this lead?"
Fuzzy slippers on my feet, I was out the back door, pulling my robe around me, before Tom could put on his pants.
"Feathers!" I called. "Pixie!"
A tiny mew squeaked back to me from the neighbor's driveway behind our house. Pixie rounded the decorative fence and ran toward me, passing without stopping. She turned and ran past me again. The third time, I dropped to one knee, holding my hand out to her. She came to me, and I scooped her up to take her inside.
I set her down in the kitchen and spied the opening in the workroom floor. Oops!
Hunger overcame her temptation to escape again. Running to her plate gave me the break I needed to cover her escape hatch with the form-fitted block of wood.
Now, to find her elusive sister.
Outside in the dark, the beam from Tom's flashlight came around the side yard. He had searched the perimeter of the house.
"There she is," he said in a cautious whisper.
Her fluffy tail poked out from under a piece of discarded dry-wall.
"Come here, Feathers, " I called.
She approached me with a kittenish mew, but backed away. Again, I dropped to one knee and held out my hand to her. She scampered to me, allowing me to pick her up and carry her into the safety of our home.
My cats know my voice and usually come to me when I call. But outside, in their fear of unfamiliar surroundings, they were too skittish to obey. Only when I lowered myself to their level did they respond, allowing me to give them the safety and comfort they needed.
Our Heavenly Father lowered Himself to our level--in the form of Jesus Christ, being fully God and perfectly human--to reach us. We stray from Him at times, but we know His voice, and when He calls us back, we take His hand to the safety and comfort only He can offer.
Prayer: Gracious Father, we praise You and give thanks for Your wondrous love. You are always there with an outstretched hand and enveloping comfort even when we stray. Help us to remember to listen for our Savior's voice in our time of need. In Christ's precious name, we pray.