Book Recommendation: A Stray Drop of Blood by Roseanna M. White

straydropofblood

Back Cover blurb:

Beautiful is a dangerous thing to be when one is unprotected.

For seven years, Abigail has been a slave in the Visibullis house. With a Hebrew mistress and a Roman master, she has always been more family than servant . . . until their son returns to Jerusalem after his years in Rome. Within a few months Jason has taken her to his bed and turned her world upsidedown. Maybe, given time, she can come to love him as he says he loves her. But how does she open her heart to the man who ruined her?

Israel’s unrest finds a home in her bosom, but their rebellion tears apart her world. Death descends with Barabbas’s sword, and Abigail is determined to be there when the criminal is punished. But when she ventures to the trial, Barabbas is not the one the crowd calls to crucify. Instead, it is the teacher her master and Jason had begun to follow, the man from Nazareth that some call the Son of God . . .

Born free, made a slave, married out of her bonds, Abigail never knows freedom until she feels the fire of a stray drop of blood from a Jewish carpenter. Disowned by Israel, despised by Rome, desired by all, she never knows love until she receives the smile of a stoic Roman noble.

Narelle: A Stray Drop of Blood  is Roseanna M. White’s captivating debut Biblical fiction novel. The story is set in Jerusalem and Rome around the time of Jesus’ ministry.

Eight year old Hebrew girl Abigail is orphaned and sold into slavery by her stepfather. She is purchased by a Roman prefect as a companion for his Hebrew wife. Abigail is educated and raised as if she was their own daughter and her immense beauty is both a blessing and curse. Six years later her master’s son, a Roman soldier, returns home after a six year absence and claims Abigail as his own before she can be given in marriage to her fellow slave and best friend. Abigail is forced to accept her new situation and feels abandoned by her God.

Tragedy befalls her Master’s household and Abigail’s encounter with Jesus on the day he is crucified both challenges her faith and transforms her life. Her faith is tested as she loses loved ones and cannot escape being treated as a Hebrew slave despite changes in her circumstances. A powerful love story unfolds and Abigail struggles with her seemingly futile desire to be with the man she loves.

A Stray Drop of Blood is an honest story that explores the best and worst of human nature. Realistic and compelling character’s struggle with temptation and the differences between the Hebrew and Roman society create strong emotional conflict. The story is action packed, with masterful plot twists and the spiritual element flows seamlessly through the story. I recommend A Stray Drop of Blood to those looking for a challenging and exciting Biblical fiction story.

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

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A Life Worth Living

by Narelle Atkins

I recently attended a funeral for a beloved member of my extended family. The funeral home was packed full of people who were paying their respects and supporting my family. I remembered the old saying about how there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. Some people try their best to avoid paying taxes. But, none of us can ignore or change the fact that one day our earthly bodies will die and we will leave this world.

Funerals are a celebration of the life of our loved ones and also a reminder that our time on this earth will end, date and time unknown. It was encouraging to listen to a number of people speak about the contribution my family member had made in the community. He had not wasted opportunities to help others and his legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of the many people touched by his life.

Four days after Lazarus had died, his sister, Martha, went out to greet Jesus. Martha believed that her brother would not have died if Jesus had been with them.

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again at the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Yes Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” (Luke 11:23-27)

Jesus wept with Martha and her sister, Mary. He went to the tomb and performed a miracle by raising Lazarus from the dead.

Our loved ones may not be miraculously healed like Lazarus, but we have confidence in knowing that our physical death is not the end. The Bible tells us that faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour will bring us eternal life. Jesus has conquered death by paying the price for our sins through his death and resurrection. Death no longer has a hold on us and we can be comforted by the knowledge that we can be reunited with our loved ones in the life to come.

Miracles of Jesus: Feeding the people

by Deborah Horscroft

The miracles that Jesus performed have long been held by Christians as a proof of his identity as the Son of God, indeed Jesus condemns the teachers of the law for calling God’s miracle of casting out demons, performed through Jesus, an act of “evil”.

In his book “Miracles”, C.S. Lewis eloquently explains the “nature” of Jesus’ miracles. “…the Incarnate God does suddenly and locally something that God has and will do in general. Each miracle writes for us in small letters something that God has already written, or will write, in letters almost too large to be noticed, across the whole canvas of nature… Their authenticity is attested by the style.” (pp138-9)

C.S.Lewis goes on to state that in the case of the miraculous feedings as recorded in Mark’s gospel, Jesus’ miracle involves “the multiplication of a little bread and a little fish into much bread and much fish. Once in the desert Satan had tempted Him to make bread of stones: He refused the suggestion. “The Son does nothing except what He sees the Father do”… Every year God makes a little corn into much corn: the seed is sown and there is an increase… It was He who at the beginning commanded all species “to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” And now, that day, at the feeding of the thousands, incarnate God does the same: does close and small under His human hands, a workman’s hands, what He has always been doing in the seas, the lakes and the little brooks.” (pp140-1)

Source: Like Father, Like Son. Miracles: A Preliminary Study by CS Lewis (Fount 1974)

Prayer: Following Jesus’ example in Mark 1

by Narelle Atkins

A question that was recently raised in my Bible Study group was how should we pray? Is there a right way to pray? Morning or evening? Group prayer or solitary prayer?

In Mark 1 we are given an insight into Jesus’ relationship with his heavenly Father.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35

I’m not naturally a morning person who will wake when the sun rises. For a number of week in the dead of winter, I was getting up in the dark and driving in below zero temperatures to my local gym. It was a struggle to drag myself out of bed and get there in time for my class. My alarm would sound and I’d think about how I’d really like to ignore the alarm and go back to sleep in my warm and cosy bed.

Jesus prioritised spending time in prayer with His Father. He sacrificed the comfort of sleeping in to have uninterrupted and solitary prayer time. Are we prepared to make sacrifices to ensure we are spending time with the Lord in prayer? Do you have a regular time each day that you dedicate to prayer? How can we follow Jesus’ example in the way we prioritise prayer in our daily lives?

The Temptation of Jesus

by Narelle Atkins

The Gospel of Mark provides a brief account of the temptation of Jesus.

At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. (Mark 1:12-13)

The Spirit sent Jesus into the desert immediately after his baptism. When John baptised Jesus, the heavens opened, the Spirit came upon Jesus and God the father spoke from heaven to his beloved Son.

We learn more details about how Satan tempted Jesus in Matthew (4:1-11) and Luke’s (4:1-13) gospels. Matthew and Luke record three specific incidents where Satan tempted Jesus to sin. On each occasion Jesus responded to Satan by quoting scripture.

While Jesus was in the desert he didn’t eat any food. Satan tempted him by suggesting that if Jesus was really the Son of God, he could turn a stone into bread and satisfy his physical hunger. Jesus responded by saying that man doesn’t live on bread alone.

Satan led Jesus to the Holy City and the highest point of the temple. He tempted Jesus by suggesting he throw himself down and allow the angels to save him. Jesus responded by saying the Lord God should not be tested.

Satan took Jesus to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world. He tempted Jesus by offering him dominion over all the kingdoms if Jesus bowed down and worshiped him. Jesus responded by saying worship the Lord and serve only him.

Jesus’ mission was spiritual and Satan continued to tempt him throughout his ministry, reaching a climax when Jesus was on the cross. Paul Barnett in his book The Servant King: Reading Mark Today talked about the final battle, symbolised by day becoming night (Mark 15:33). Jesus is a new Adam, the Son of Man who is Lord over the wild animals and prevails over evil. Adam fell into temptation but Jesus resisted temptation and remained obedient to God. Satan was finally defeated through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

John the Baptist: Preparing the way

By Narelle Atkins

John the Baptist was the last of the great prophets and the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy (Isaiah 40:3, Malachi 3:1). He was the messenger who lived in the desert and prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry.

John’s parents were Zechariah the priest and his wife Elizabeth, a relative of the Virgin Mary. The angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah (see Luke 1:11-20) and foretold John’s birth and mission. Zechariah and Elizabeth were old and childless and Zechariah’s initial unbelief regarding the angel’s prophesy for his future son led to Zechariah becoming mute and unable to speak until the prophesy came to fruition (Luke 1:64).

John brought a message of repentance and baptism. He called the Israelites to repent from their sins and be baptised in the Jordan River. Baptism was a sign that they had turned back to God and received God’s forgiveness of sins.

John said he was preparing the way for one greater than him, who would baptise the Jews and Gentiles with the Holy Spirit. John baptised Jesus in the Jordan River and the heavens opened, bringing the Spirit down upon Jesus. God the father spoke to Jesus from heaven, saying ‘You are my Son, whom I love: with you I am well pleased.’ (Mark 1:11)

Jesus’ ministry started when John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod. Herodias held a grudge against John after John had told Herod it was not lawful for him to marry his brother’s wife. Herodias had been married to Philip, Herod’s brother, but had left Philip for Herod. Herodias and her daughter used an oath promised by Herod at a banquet to kill John. At their request, Herod ordered an executioner to behead John and present his head on a platter at the banquet (Mark 6:17-29).

Christ was not Jesus’ Last Name

by Deborah Horscroft

An old joke asked, “What do John the Baptist and Winnie the Pooh have in common?” They have the same middle name. I don’t quite know what Christopher Robin meant by “Pooh”, but John was known as the one who baptised.

Jesus was known by many names: Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God, Son of Man, even son of Joseph and Mary. He is now most commonly known as Jesus Christ, and here the word “Christ” is Jesus’ title.

“Christ” originating from the Greek; “Messiah” from the Hebrew – the closest approximation in English is “The Anointed One”. People and things were ceremonially anointed with oil to signify that they had been separated for God’s purpose: that is, made “holy”. The word was also used metaphorically to mean God had shown favour or the person was chosen to fulfil God’s special purpose. For example, Cyrus the Persian was “anointed” to subdue the nations (Isaiah 45). In its article on “Messiah” The New Bible Dictionary points out that Cyrus was a kind of Messiah figure bringing the redemption of God’s people, judgement on God’s enemies and dominion over the nations. Although he did not acknowledge God, he was God’s instrument.

The Old Testament points to another Messiah who will reconcile God and his people. The prophecies say he will be a deliverer like Moses, a conqueror like David, a servant like no other, a new Israel who keeps the new covenant, a prophet, priest, king and willing sacrifice for sins.

Much of the New Testament is the story of people wrestling with what it meant for Jesus to be the Messiah, or Christ. Many of his day welcomed the conquering king into Jerusalem but rejected the suffering servant of God, anointed to be a holy sacrifice for sins. The Jews and Samaritans both longed for the Messiah to come, but only a few recognised Jesus the Christ.