THE ANOINTED ONE, Book II: Trilogy of Kings Saga

Saul ben Kish is an ordinary man; that is, until he crosses paths with the prophet Samuel. 190201.1 The Anointed One Book Cover (paperback) (2)Anointed by God to lead His people, this lowly Benjaminite shall soon be tested.

What begins as a search for his father’s wayward donkeys becomes a call to courage, and obedience. Can one man rally a nation to rise above oppression and fight for freedom? Or will he fall under the weight of power?

An epic tale of kingship; a journey into the heart of the Judean Mountains and across the sun-baked desert where the meek rise and the proud fall, and a stone is mightier than the sword.

Throughout the pages of The Trilogy of Kings, the personal and spiritual struggle of Israel’s people unfolds through love, war, and intrigue, making the story relevant for today as an exciting example of the human condition. Together with these beloved characters, the human saga is captured, sharing their joys and sorrows, triumphs and losses.

Release date: February 25, 2019

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40 THINGS I’VE LEARNED

– from an overstretched mom who is trying to do it all

Like so many people today, I want to do it all. Yet time and energy always seem to be in short supply. Even so, I tarry on, trying to accomplish everything. Along the way, I have made a few discoveries. I share them here with you today. Read and enjoy, for we mustn’t take life too seriously.

1) Things take time.DCIM101MEDIA

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.  Ecclesiastes 3:1

2) You cannot get it all done in one day. It is okay at times to put off today what you can do tomorrow. If tomorrow doesn’t come, well, you won’t care anyway.

3) You cannot be everything for everybody

– but you can try.

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13

4) Slow down or you will trip yourself.

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12

5) When you fall, laugh at yourself, then pick yourself up and continue on your way. There may be snacks!

He who is of a merry heart has a continual feast. Proverbs 15:15

6) If you wait until you have time, you will never accomplish anything.

“Just do it!” – Nike

7) Set reasonable and achievable goals otherwise you will always feel like a failure.

8) A load a day keeps the dirty laundry away.

9) Don’t forget to enjoy the process.

A merry heart does good, like medicine,

But a broken spirit dries the bones. Proverbs 17:22

10) Don’t become discouraged.

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9

11)  Just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

“I will either find a way or make one.” Hannibal of Carthage (before taking elephants across the Alps)

12) Every now and then, stop to smell the roses; let the wind blow through you hair.

13) Take time for yourself every day.

14) If you don’t like something in your life, don’t complain. Do what you can to change it.

15) Some assembly is required.

16) Read the directions before you begin.

17) Don’t let disappointment throw you.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

18) Don’t neglect your relationships

– with your children, your spouse, and especially God.

19) If God is not a part of the equation, you will not succeed

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  John 15:5

20) Genius really is in the detail.

21) Breathe.

22) It is okay to begin again.

23) Always shine your kitchen sink. It sets the stage for the rest of the day.

24) Ask for help – allow the people in your life to receive a blessing by serving you.

For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves. Luke 22:27

25) Your family could care less what you’ve done all day as long as there are goodies in the pantry.

26) Take care of yourself – eat right and get enough rest.

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.  1 Corinthians 6:19-20

27) Slow and steady wins the race.The Tortoise and the Hare

28) Never, ever leave a single piece of paper on the kitchen counter unattended. When you are not looking, it will be fruitful and multiply.

29) Lean not on your own strength; if God calls you, He will equip you.

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

30) Always error on the side of generosity

– don’t be afraid to give a part of you away.

31) Always smile.

A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance,

But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. Proverbs 15:13

32) Allow enough time

– things always take longer than you think, so plan accordingly.DSCF1362

33) Don’t be afraid to draw on the walls

34) If you don’t make your bed, neither will your children.

35) Don’t wait for others to begin. Just go for it or you may find you never get started.

36) The early bird really does get the worm.

37) All things do not come to stay, they come to pass…

See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. Matthew 24:6

38) Find a lesson in every situation and nothing is wasted.

39) Sometimes just be still and take it all in. For it is in quiet contemplation that we can see the face of God.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

40) Know when to stop talking.

I often regret that I have spoken; never that I have been silent. Publilius Syrus

I am still working on this one. I could go on with this list forever. It is already much longer than first I planned. So with this last lesson, I will grow quiet and let you, the reader, say your piece. I would love to hear from you. In the comment section, feel free to add your life lessons to this list.

Wishing you the best in your busy life. God bless you in all your pursuits.

~Susan

Around Town: Susan Van Volkenburg A 9/11 Story September 9, 2016 11:09 AM By J.D. Ryan

You just sit and try to understand. But some things cannot be understood. Some paths are just too dark to see the other side, and once you have turned down the path there’s no going back. It’s dark and no one can take the journey for you. There is nothing but forward, though you do it with trembling and uncertainty. This journey is not of my choosing, but it is mine nonetheless.

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2016/09/09/around-town-susan-van-volkenburg-a-911-story/ 

Here is my story as shared by J. D. Ryan on CBS Radio KRLD 1080AM.

 

 

Through the Fire

Imagine, if you will, that you are an Israelite in Jerusalem and the army of Assyria is encamped against your walls. All the nations around you have fallen. Jerusalem is the last city standing, your city, Zion, which God had promised to protect.

Isaiah 49:14 speaks of the people’s reaction:

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, And my Lord has forgotten me.”

Forsaken by God. Most of us have felt that way at one time or another. Even Jesus experienced this emotion when upon the cross He cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

I have felt forsaken.

Tuesday morning, a day like any other. It was a beautiful fall day: the air fresh, the sun warm, and the skies clear. As always the children and I began with Bible study. The day’s subject was Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. In discussing the three being placed into the fiery furnace for their unwavering faith in God, I made the cryptic statement that no matter what happens in our life, even when we go through the fiery furnace, still we must follow the Lord. I did not know that at that very moment my own life would be put through the furnace and my words tested.

Flag over PentagonThe day was September 11, 2001. My life forever changed as my father was ripped from the world by terrorists. In that moment I felt forsaken. All that I had believed in, trusted in, was stripped out from under me. How could a benevolent God, a God who loves me, allow such a tragedy to happen knowing full well how this would wound me?

But hear what God spoke through Isaiah, the prophet:

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.” (Isaiah 49: 15-16)

He has inscribed you on the palms of His hands…

This is not just taking a pen and writing your name on His skin. You have been inscribed, that is, engraved. He has taken a blade and carved His palm, wounding His flesh so that forever He will bear the scars of your name upon His hands.

Not only does He know our name, but He bears our scars upon His flesh—forever.

I have journeyed down a dark and empty road: alone, abandoned, and forsaken. But I have found something along this desolate way: a beautiful truth. My foundation is sure…and I am not alone.

I think the key is in the word “through,” for we do go through, we do not stay in the furnace. There is an end to our trouble. For even as the three young men stood within the flames of the furnace, they were not alone, but a fourth stood beside them.

We all face trials. We have difficult times. God never promised us otherwise. In fact, He told us that in this world we will have tribulation (John 16:33). But He did not leave us to travel this world without aid.

Listen what the Lord proclaims:

“I, even I, am He who comforts you.” (Isaiah 51:12)

“For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6)

Though God’s protection is not always for our bodies, it is a constant for our souls. And in the end, it is our final home that is most important. This mortal coil, which we cling to so ardently, is not what it is all about. Yet when one that is loved is taken, we cannot help but look back at what has been lost.

“But I am the Lord your God, Who divided the sea whose waves roared— The Lord of hosts is His name. And I have put My words in your mouth; I have covered you with the shadow of My hand, That I may plant the heavens, Lay the foundations of the earth, And say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’” (Isaiah 51:15-16)

We serve a powerful God. An all-knowing God. So what then can man do to me? For the keeper of my soul watches me. We do not have a God who looks on from the outside as we struggle along the way. But we have a God who enters with us into the midst of the fire. He walks the troubled path with us, taking us through to the other side. He is our God and we are His people, engraved upon his hand: a perpetual covenant between the Lord and His chosen.

So as you travel the journey of this earthly life, remember: you are not forsaken.

Susan Van VolkenburghSKU-000524494_COVER

SILENT RESOLVE AND THE GOD WHO LET ME DOWN

 

Oncology Nurse turned homeschool educator, Susan Van Volkenburgh is an award winning author of Christian fiction and non-fiction books. After the death of her father on September 11, 2001, Susan began speaking of her experience. Her book, SILENT RESOLVE AND THE GOD WHO LET ME DOWN (A 9/11 story), recounts Susan’s loss and subsequent spiritual journey.

Born too late to experience antiquity first hand, Susan spends much of her time studying and teaching ancient history. Therefore, it seemed only natural that she should draw from the experience of grief and trauma to write THE STONE OF EBENEZER, Book 1: Trilogy of Kings Saga, a story of faith and restoration through the medium of Biblical fiction.

 

The Cross, the Veil, and the Empty Tomb

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV)

When I think of Easter, three objects come to my mind…

~ the cross, the veil, and the empty tomb ~

 jesus-on-the-cross-for-us

For if not for the cross, my penalty would not have been paid. The broken blood oath of the covenant would not have been satisfied. It is only through the blood of Jesus that we are cleansed from the curse of sin.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

 torn

As Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” and gave up His Spirit, the veil in the Temple, that separated man from the Holy of Holies, was torn in two. It was as if God, seeing the injustice of Christ’s death, rent His clothes in grief. And in so doing, He opened the way for all to enter into His presence. Now, boldly, we can come before the Throne of Grace, for the barrier of sin that separated us from God has been broken. The terrible gulf has been filled and we are reconciled to the Father.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

 The-Empty-Tomb

Even as the sun was blotted from the sky and the earth was covered in darkness, God knew that Sunday was coming. Sealed for three days within the tomb, the Lord’s body lay, uncorrupted. Then with the dawn of that Sunday morning, the stone was rolled away–not to let anyone out, but to let those present bear witness–that indeed, Jesus had risen.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

 Where-is-Your-Sting

The tomb is empty! Death has no power over Him, the grave cannot contain Him. And now we have not just hope, but a Living Hope in Christ Jesus, the Risen Savior!

“O Death, where is your sting?

O Hades, where is your victory?”

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15: 55-57

Hosanna!

~ Susan

Lamb Selection Day – Palm Sunday

Passover LambIt is not by chance that our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem is on this day. The events, as they unfold, are not by happenstance. The entire week is a well-orchestrated, choreographed enterprise enveloped in symbolism foretold by the prophets of old.

The week begins with a colt. Jesus gives instruction to his disciples to enter into the city and retrieve a donkey’s foal, for it is to be his transportation into Jerusalem. This colt, Jesus knew where to find it, and what is to be said to its master.

It is not because Jesus could not find a more suitable mode of travel. He can choose any animal He desires, yet the Savior of the world chooses this simple, humble beast. The donkey, you see, is to prove a point, for it is as the prophet Zechariah wrote,

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!

Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold, your King is coming to you;

He is just and having salvation,

Lowly and riding on a donkey,

A colt, the foal of a donkey.”

                                    Zechariah 9:9

Jesus comes to the city upon the back of this beast of burden in order to fulfill this prophecy. Not only that, but as he enters, the people recognize the fulfillment of scripture, and shout, even as the prophet spoke. This action by Jesus is understood to be His proclamation, that He is indeed, God’s promised Messiah.

Though the symbolism is not yet complete, for it is even known from which direction the Messiah would appear.

“And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives,

Which faces Jerusalem on the east.”

                                      Zechariah 14:4

It is from the Mount of Olives He will come, riding upon a donkey’s colt.

Jesus now arrives, having come just then, from this very garden. The actions of Jesus are anything but subtle, and they are not lost to the people. So they cry out as they understand what this entry into Jerusalem means: “The King is coming, and He is here!”

“Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

                              Mark 11:9

Even the shouts of the people is foretold, their very words proclaimed, recorded in the psalms: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 188:26)

Image courtesy of antpkr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of antpkr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yet, all is not well, for the people are looking for a military deliverer, a king that would lead them in battle against the oppressive regime of the Roman Empire. As they wave their palm branches, the people shout, “Hosanna.” The branches represent the national symbol, waving their flag in support of the nation of Israel. The word Hosanna, not a cry of peace or religious fervor, but a symbol of rebellion as it signifies a call for deliverance from oppression. This joyous assembly is not singing praises to God, but is crying out for insurrection against an oppressive dictatorship. It is a battle cry.

However, Jesus has not come as a military deliverer, an earthly king to lead His people to war. He comes to reconcile His people to the Father.

It is for this reason that Jesus chose this particular day to enter into the city of Jerusalem. As He rides upon the colt, He enters the city with the lambs. Four days, it is, before the Passover, and that day is Lamb Selection Day. This is the day that the Passover lamb is to be chosen, the innocent sacrifice that will take the place of the first born. It is the tenth day of the month; on the fourteenth day, the Passover lamb is to be killed.

Enter Jesus, the perfect propitiation, to be chosen as their spotless lamb. Not a political liberator, but the King of all, whose kingdom is established by love and sacrifice.

Four days later, Jesus is with His disciples in the Upper Room, celebrating the Passover. Only this Passover is not like the others. Here Jesus puts Himself as the Lamb, His body and blood as the sacrifice. Then, the next morning, He is alone, upon the cross, His blood shed for the many that are now nowhere to be found.

And as the shofar is sounded, at the ninth hour, or three o’clock in the afternoon, the Passover lamb is slain, the lamb without blemish, given up for the people. It is at this very moment, upon a lone hill called Golgotha, that Jesus says, “It is finished.”

reflections on Christ - crucifixionJesus is the perfect Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. Because of this single act of selflessness, all who follow Him are set free from the bondage of sin, liberated from the oppressive regime of the Enemy.

“Hosanna in the Highest!”

~ Susan

Make Me Your Sanctuary

The day was hot and the trail was full of dust. It was a choking brume that coated the barren landscape. They had seen the other side, looked upon the green and verdant hills. Yet they had been afraid, unwilling to believe. So they were turned away, cast out and sent to wander, an aimless juncture even as their faith was led astray. How long would this exile last? How long must they endure?

Until they had passed beyond reach, until every last one who had rejected was gone. Even so, hope remained for those that came after. They would one day see those same green and verdant hills. Yet would the new generation believe? Would they find inside themselves what was needed to have faith, to trust?

Only time would tell…

As we look back to this episode, we can glean lessons for our own lives. Do we have faith? Do we believe? Are we able to trust in the wake of what appears to be insurmountable odds? What does it take to be led by God?

Let us return to the story.

So we see the Children of Israel wandering for forty years in the Wilderness—

searching for the Promised Land

And why were they sent to wander in the Wilderness—they disobeyed God.

They forgot that God was with them, that He had guided them and helped them. They lost faith. They knew better than God, after all, the evidence showed that giants lived in the land. What could they do about giants? They were mere people. But they forgot that the Lord traveled with them.

You see sin cannot enter into the Promised Land.

Yet, God said to them, “You don’t have to go it alone. I will show you the way, only you must follow me.”

“Firstly, you must build Me a Sanctuary (Ex. 25:8) that I may dwell among you.”

“Not a Sanctuary of your design, you must make the Sanctuary in the way that I tell you. I will instruct you. Then I will show you the way to the Promised Land. All you need do is follow Me.”

I tell you—

We are the children of Israel; this world is the Wilderness.

Heaven is the Promised Land

And we need to build God a Sanctuary so that He may live among us.

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. Revelation 21:3

But first we need to understand what a Sanctuary is—for how can we build if we do not know of what we build?

Temple—Tabernacle—Sanctuary

According to Webster’s Dictionary it is a consecrated place, set apart for God’s service.

A hallowed place, a holy place, a dwelling place for God

The habitation of God through the Spirit

The Temple of the Old Testament typified Christ’s dwelling by faith in the hearts of believers.

  1. Our bodies are the Temple of God and are designed for worship

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3: 16

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. Hebrews 9:10-12

Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:20

2. Our bodies are the place where God dwells

God is holy and cannot live in an unclean house.

If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.1 Corinthians 3: 17

3. Our bodies are sacred

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:14.

4. Our bodies do not belong to us

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

If we received the truth in our hearts, we will honor Him in our bodies.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

Does everything we do and say glorify God?

We need to say as Jesus did, “Not My will, but Yours be done.”

We cannot have two masters. We cannot go our way and follow after God’s way at the same time.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 6:24

Remember, wherever we go, whatever we do, God is with us.

And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

I will dwell in them

And walk among them.

I will be their God,

And they shall be My people.

2 Corinthians 6:16

We do not have to be afraid. We can trust in our Redeemer, who dwells within us. His way is always the best way. Only have faith and follow Him, no matter what giants may stand before us. The Promised Land awaits.

So Lord, I pray, make me Your Sanctuary …

~ Susan