The Real Saint Patrick – According to a Northern Irishman

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Saint Patrick

Musings of an Irishman

Who was the real Saint Patrick? A collection of resources. 

With it being St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to write a little something about the man who inspired the holiday. Although there is much speculation about who St. Patrick was and what he did, there are some indisputable facts that many people do not know.

Ambassador author John Holmes describes the life of St. Patrick and explains the many trials and triumphs that St. Patrick faced throughout his life in his book, Saint Patrick: The Man and His Mission. In the opening preface of his book, he explains:

“St. Patrick is among the most famous figures in history. He is forever linked, and rightly so, with Ireland and the Irish people. Around the world innumerable places, churches, colleges and institutions carry his name and yet surprisingly few individuals have anything more than a slight knowledge or understanding of the man himself. You would be hard-pressed, for example, to find anyone, even in our halls of learning, who could quote something that Patrick has said. It is true that in recent years some well-researched books on Ireland’s patron saint have been published but it would appear that most of these have a limited circulation and are not widely read.

Patrick belongs to the fifth century; to times and conditions far distant from ours. Our knowledge of society in Ireland in those days is limited indeed, for virtually nothing remains of the materials needed to construct some kind of detailed history. By nature of the case it must also be admitted that there is a multitude of questions about Patrick which cannot be answered with complete confidence. There is a multitude of questions which can never be answered – at least not in this life.

We can, however, be reasonably certain about many things and there are areas where the scholars are in general agreement. The historical basis of this little book rests on such material.”

In one of the first chapters of his book, Holmes explains how it is almost impossible to give an exact date for St. Patrick’s birth due to the rarity of records during the time; however, it is widely assumed that he was born in England around 390 AD. He was born into an aristocratic and religious family. Around the age of 16, he is believed to have been captured by Irish raiders and taken across the sea to Ireland as a slave. According to legend, Patrick worked as a shepherd near Slemish Mount while in captivity. After six years of slavery, he escaped confinement, obtained his freedom, and returned home to England and his family. Little did he know (upon his return home) that one day, he would be called back to the land of his captivity to preach the gospel of salvation to the people of Ireland. Today, many remember him as the man who used the shamrock (clover) to explain the holy trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I believe it is only fitting to share the writing of St. Patrick entitled, The Confession of Patrick, which can be found within Holmes’ book.

“I pray those who believe and fear God, whosoever deigns to look at or receive this writing which Patrick, a sinner, unlearned, has composed in Ireland, that no one should ever say that it was my ignorance if I did or showed forth anything however small according to God’s good pleasure; but let this be your conclusion and let it so be thought, that – as is the perfect truth – it was the gift of God. This is my confession before I die.”

As we enter St. Patrick’s Day this year, let us remember the love that he had for the Lord and the vision he sought to fulfill by ministering in Ireland. In closing, let us remember the words (so similar to the feelings of St. Patrick that they could have been sung by him) from the old Irish hymn, Be Thou My Vision:

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun.
Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

 

To learn more about Holmes and Saint Patrick: The Man and His Mission, visit HERE.

 

And learn more about some of Ambassador’s other Irish titles including:

A Little Irish Love Story

The Titanic’s Last Hero

A Shiver of Wonder

Favorite Flavors of Ireland

Flavors of Ireland

The Shamrock and Peach

Just Who Was St. Patrick?

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It’s a question we all ask ourselves on the one day that we’re all Irish. Except for those pesky orange-wearers.

We all wear green and say funny things like “top ‘o the mornin’ to ya!” But have you ever wondered what’s at the root of St. Patrick’s Day? Journey back to the early part of the 5th century, a time we knew little about until the discovery of Saint Patrick’s writings, through the pages of Saint Patrick: The Man & His Mission.

SaintPatrick

Those writings provide a vivid picture of this faithful man, offering a voice from the distant past, spreading hope and joy. You’ll be amazed to discover the real St. Patrick. And here’s a hint: it has nothing to do with corned beef, cabbage or even leprechauns! Pick up Saint Patrick: The Man & His Mission to learn more about the man and missionary so oft-celebrated yet misunderstood in the modern world.

 

Fancy a pot o’ gold? The kindle price is even better!

St. Patrick’s Day Book Guide

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We’re all Irish this time of year and what better way to celebrate March 17 than with an Irish cookbook or by learning about the man himself– Saint Patrick. This is a special time of year for us at Ambassador International– after all we got our start in Belfast more than four decades ago. Here are some books perfect for helping you celebrate our Irish heritage:

Shamrock and Peach CoverShamrock and Peach: A Culinary Journey From the North of Ireland to the American South

The Shamrock and Peach is a unique book in many ways.

It is a cookbook that explores the best of Ulster-Scots cuisine but is also the tale of an immigrant’s journey, following in the footsteps of those Scots-Irish settlers who forged the trails of Appalachia years ago.

It is a story of the many cultural overlaps that exist between the North of Ireland and the Deep South, celebrating those cultural expressions through the language of really good food.

The first half of The Shamrock and Peach is set in the green fields of Ireland and from there we cross the ocean to the American South to discover some wonderful food experiences that have their roots in the Emerald Isle.

Filled with beautiful photographs of both regions, The Shamrock and Peach will be a fun and interesting resource to browse through and use in your kitchen for years to come.

 

Saint PatrickSaint Patrick: The Man and His Mission

Saint Patrick: The Man and His Mission will take you on a journey back to the early part of the 5th century. Little information exists regarding life and conditions prior to that time in the land named Hibernia – the island lay on the edge of the known world beyond the fringe of the Roman Empire. It took the mission of the man we call Saint Patrick and the discovery of his writings to see the beginning of any real history of Ireland. More important still is the fact that these writings provide such a vivid picture of Patrick himself that the force of his personality and the fervor of his faith still live today. Here then is a voice from the distant past! Not a faltering voice or a melancholy voice but a voice full of certainty and hope and joy. The voice of a man in touch with God.

 

A Little Irish Love Story

Set in post World War II Ireland, this retelling of the Biblical story of Ruth is an incredible love story . . . with a twist.

Elderly Sarah returns to her hometown of Adare, Ireland, with her daughter-in-law, Anna. The suffering that World War II brought them was unimaginable, but they still have each other. With all their loved ones killed in the war, the two women have nothing but a hope that one distant relative will help them. Will this new beginning bring the healing that both of them have prayed for?

With heart-pounding suspense, romance, and mystery tied up in one, A Little Irish Love Story contains unforgettable, human characters that bring humor and sweetness to the sweeping Irish backdrop.

Follow along as incredible moments of passionate faith are gleaned from the pages and a heroic young woman finds the truth about her life—that she is loved beyond what she could have ever imagined.

 

Ireland to the Wild West: A True Story of Romance, Faith, Tragedy, and Hope

Marcus PaulBorn in 1846 in Ireland at the start of the “Great Hunger,” James Kinnier Wilson emigrated to Philadelphia to start a new life at seventeen years old.

After his life took a dramatic turn, he found himself attending Princeton and then a college in Scotland, where he met Agnes Hately, the talented daughter of a famous figure in the Scottish “Disruption”-the emergence of the Free Church of Scotland.

Agnes and James, now newlyweds, crossed the dangerous Atlantic and settled in rural New Jersey. While there, Agnes wrote intimate letters home about her children, the people around her, the church, and the dangers of endemic disease.

Called in 1878 to the Wild West to found churches and to farm, Agnes again revealed in detail the conditions of her life on the frontier and her impressions of American women, cowboys, servant girls, church-goers, and provides some never before seen detail to what is called the “Last Indian Raid in Kansas.”

In Ireland to the Wild West, Marcus Paul uses these letters penned by Agnes to take readers on a journey through Agnes and James’ engagement, marriage, dangerous travels, and their arrival and life in America.

Through her letters, a treasure trove for historians, readers will gain a unique insight to that time period and will find an engrossing and inspiring story of romance, faith, tragedy, and hope.

A Shiver of Wonder: A Life of C. S. Lewis

He was an intellectual prig who was transformed into a man who had a mind and heart awake to holiness. He had no posterity, but few men in history have been so deeply loved by children.  He was but a mirror A Shiver of Wonderreflecting another Face.

He was an Oxford Don and a Cambridge Professor. He was an expert in Medieval and Renaissance English who gripped the imagination of millions through his wartime broadcasts of Christian truth for the BBC—broadcasts that later became his famous book, Mere Christianity.

He was C. S. Lewis, a name synonymous with legendary kindness, intellectual rigour, a love of nature and perhaps his greatest creation, Aslan and the land of Narnia. His writings still compel countless readers to shiver with wonder at the great imagination and depth of understanding he possessed. Controversial genius that he was, his life is a beacon for all who struggle with doubt and faith in Christ.

The Titanic’s Last Hero: A Startling True Story That Can Change Your Life Forever

The Inspiring Love Story That Will Change Your Life

Over one hundred years ago, an “unsinkable” luxury liner sank on its maiden voyage. More than 1,500 men, women, and children tragically lost their lives after the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg on the night of April 14, 1912.

Shockingly, many who perished had refused to board the lifeboats at first, believing the ship as truly indestructible and would not sink!

From that dark disaster shines an inspirational love story—the true story of one man’s great love for his Savior and for humankind. This is the story of John Harper, the Titanic’s last hero, who set his only child in a lifeboat before setting his sights on the salvation of the lost souls around him.

Re-live John Harper’s last hours as the ship took on water and passengers swarmed the decks. “Let the women, children, and the unsaved into the lifeboats!” was Harper’s cry.

Discover, through the testimonies of those who knew him, what inspired this man to go down with the ship and flounder in icy waters under a starry sky as he searched for doomed souls who needed his message of love and salvation.

The Titanic’s Last Hero presents a hero whose courageous story you will never forget.

Favorite Flavors of Ireland

Favorite Flavors of Ireland invites readers, cooks, and armchair travelers alike on a nostalgic tour of one of Europe’s most beloved destinations. From her first visit in 1984, Margaret Johnson has forged an indelible bond with Ireland and Irish food, and she shares this unique relationship with you in her eleventh cookbook. You’ll find recipes that have become her favorites along with a few recent discoveries that are sure to please. The book brings home all the classics—Shepherd’s Pie, Bacon and Cabbage, Seafood Chowder, Bread and Butter Pudding—and provides an insightful look into the seasonal ingredients that shape the country’s cooking. With over 100 recipes and evocative photos that transport you to the Irish countryside, this colorful collection will awaken your senses to the delicious food of this warm and welcoming land and keep those Irish eyes smilin’ all through the year.

 

 

 

 

We’re Bringing Home the Medals – Illumination Book Awards

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Who wants to be a medalist-reader? Who is fascinated by award-winning books?! We LOVE it when our authors become award-winning authors!  Ambassador International is thrilled to announce that three of our authors medaled in the 2022 Illumination Book Awards!

𝗖𝗢𝗡𝗚𝗥𝗔𝗧𝗨𝗟𝗔𝗧𝗜𝗢𝗡𝗦 𝘁𝗼 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗺𝗲𝗱𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘀𝘁𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗮 𝗷𝗼𝗯 𝘄𝗲𝗹𝗹 𝗱𝗼𝗻𝗲!

𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘉𝘪𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘉𝘭𝘶𝘦𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘵 by Christine Paxson and Rose Spiller received 𝗕𝗿𝗼𝗻𝘇𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗧𝗵𝗲𝗼𝗹𝗼𝗴𝘆 𝗖𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗴𝗼𝗿𝘆!

𝘓𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘋𝘰𝘰𝘳 𝘐𝘴𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘴 by Judy DuCharme received 𝗕𝗿𝗼𝗻𝘇𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗬𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗴 𝗔𝗱𝘂𝗹𝘁 𝗙𝗶𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗖𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗴𝗼𝗿𝘆!

𝘍𝘰𝘰𝘭’𝘴 𝘓𝘶𝘤𝘬 by Dave Milbrandt received 𝗦𝗶𝗹𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗠𝘆𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿𝘆/𝗧𝗵𝗿𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗿 𝗖𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗴𝗼𝗿𝘆!

Want to hear more from these authors? Each author has an author interview with our publicity director and these episodes are on both Facebook and YouTube!

In today’s climate, Christian media has the double uphill climb of carving out a niche and reaching their audience. Our readers’ support of Ambassador International and its authors include reading our books, leaving reviews, recommending our books, and following our authors. THANK YOU for all you do. If you would like to pick up one of our award-winning books, please do and leave a review! We appreciate you partnering with us as we spread God’s Word and Christian books to a dying world!

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The Golden Rule

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  February. The month of love. But what is LOVE?

Valentines Day is right around the corner and shops are filled with heart designs, shades of red and pink, chocolates, and of course, roses! During this season of celebration, we often celebrate the love of our spouse, our children, a friend, or a special family member. This is wonderful, but do we ever stop to celebrate the love of our Heavenly Father? And although it is good to take time to show our appreciation to those whom we love, are we showing this love to them year-round, and are we showing the love of Christ to even those whom we don’t hold in high regard?

 

Matthew 7:12 tells us, “’So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.’”

This sums up the second half of the Ten Commandments as well, love others. In order to be a true reflection of Jesus, we have to love everyone… whether we like them or not! And how do we do this? By doing unto them what we would want done to us in return.

Dan Crabtree, a pastor at Immanuel Bible Church, examines what it would look like if we, as the church, stepped outside of our comfort zones and showed the love and unity of God to those around us in his new book, A House Without Walls.

He specifically examines and attempts to realign discussions about race under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and focus on Biblical understanding and applications. How can the church show the love of Jesus to the world if they are divided by ethnic and social division? The answer is, they can’t.

“There must be a better way to talk about race in the Church! Shouldn’t we be able to find a path forward that doesn’t lead to fracturing parties and mass migrations from the Bride of Christ? Recent, divisive conversations about race have revealed a deep ideological fault line underneath the Evangelical surface. Where did that chasm come from , and how can it be bridged? Shouldn’t the one household of faith, the pillar and buttress of the truth, the Church of the Living God, be able to maintain some semblance of unity even in a dark and divisive world? How might God bring His diverse people together as one?”

  “The Bible’s answer to ethnic division in the Church is surprisingly simple and not at all what the world would tell us. Here it is: The church is united by Jesus.”

“Rather than giving demands or ultimatums to our brothers and sisters in the Church, let’s surpass one another in service. Paul says, “Outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom. 12:10). Instead of outlining the ways your fellow believers need to behave, try to find out what they need and how you can meet that need. It may be as easy as asking, “How can I serve you this week?” Or it may require a little more digging. If we excel still more in service over demands, we will emulate the heart of our Savior, Who came not to be served but to serve (Matt. 20:28). And in so doing, our unity in Christ will blossom into maturity.”

 

One of the best ways to love one another and obey the golden rule is by serving each other, by putting someone else before ourselves. Love is an action, and it is a choice. We can choose to put our love into action by serving one another daily.

In Kanat Yesmagambetov’s book, What’s Wrong with Western Missions?, he looks at (and addresses) some of the biggest issues that are keeping the Gospel from spreading in many nations.

Although there are many well-intentioned methods to spreading the Gospel and the love of our heavenly Father, they are often ineffective for various reasons. One thing in particular that Kanat examines is, what part does the Golden Rule play in sharing God’s Word.

Kanat begins by examining Luke 10:25-37 where an expert of the law seeks to test Jesus.

Kanat breaks down what is happening and how Jesus responded by pointing out that the lawyer came to Jesus “with a question, and Jesus, as usual, answers the question with a question. The lawyer gives an answer, and the Lord praises him. Not many people, including the disciples, could get a similar assessment. However, the lawyer asks another question, “And who is my neighbor?” This is the crucial question in the passage. It is not by accident that the lawyer asks this particular question.

The fact is that the phrase “love your neighbor as yourself” is taken from Leviticus chapter nineteen. We open the original source and see that this is the second part of the phrase, which reads in full, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD” (Lev. 19:18).

Studying the passages, we come to one conclusion: the neighbor is an Israelite. When speaking with the lawyer, Jesus expands the boundaries of the Pentateuch. If we additionally refer to Paul’s letter to the Colossians, we see that the New Testament erases religious, national, cultural, and social boundaries. But despite all this, the question “Who is my neighbor?” remains relevant to this day. Theologically, love has no limits. Practically, the borders of love can be fenced with barbed wire and guarded by dogs.”

How true this is! It is so easy  to say the words, “I love you.” But to live them out is much harder. We have to choose to love our neighbor as ourselves! And who is our neighbor? Everyone is! Either they are our brothers and sisters in Christ, or they are in need of the saving knowledge of Jesus, Christ. We are to be the example of God’s love to everyone.

 

Without Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, there can be no mercy… and no ultimate act of love. Desiré  Grogan demonstrates this as she takes the average, everyday believer and walks them through the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. In her new publication, Revelations from the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Desiré sets out to empower the believer in the pew with the most accessible tool to navigate and understand this last Book of Scripture, and that tool is the Bible itself!

Although many don’t see this final Book of the Bible as a love letter from God, it truly is.

When you love someone, you tell them and prepare them of what is to come. God gives wisdom and discernment… if we only ask and seek Him. There are many ways to love someone, and Desiré demonstrates this by pointing out how Jesus’ time here on earth and death on the cross was Him showing/bearing witness to His love for us and His dedication and love for The Father.

“The witness that secured His death was His witness to His heavenly Father and, more precisely, to the truth that He and the Father are One (John 10:30; cf. 8:58). As a testimony to Jesus’ singular qualification as the Father’s Witness, John begins his Gospel by affirming that “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” (John 1:18). Jesus Himself confirmed that He was the Witness to His Father by what He spoke:

For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say (John 12:49-50).

In addition to saying everything His Father told Him to say, Jesus was the Witness to His Father by what He did:

Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19).

The biblical record also affirms that Jesus witnessed a good confession before Pontius Pilate (1 Tim 6:13; cf. John 18:36-37) and was obedient in fulfilling His Father’s plan of salvation, even to His death on the Cross (Phil 2:8). Jesus articulated the voluntary part of His sacrifice as being part and parcel of His witness and submission to His Father’s will:

The reason my Father loves Me is that I lay down My life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father (John 10:17-18).

 

Jesus, therefore, consummated the legacy of the prophets who preceded Him; who, as witnesses, received, proclaimed, and typified the revelations entrusted to them. Jesus, however, holds the singular distinction of being ‘The Witness,’ for unlike His predecessors, He personified, declared, revealed, and fulfilled His Father’s will.”

There is no greater act of love than sacrificing oneself for another (John 15:13). This is what Jesus did when He came to this earth, lived a sinless life, and sacrificed Himself on the cross for us. He loved us more than He loved even His own life, and He loved His Father by being obedient. Jesus demonstrated the ultimate act of love and demonstration of The Golden Rule through His death and resurrection.

Part of loving someone greater than yourself is the ability and choice to forgive them when they wrong you, it is the ability to let go of the past… even if it isn’t yours.

Sarah Marin Byrd’s newest fiction release, Shackled to My Father’s Sins, examines this idea of being bound to the sins of a father and whether one can truly escape. In this sequel to In the Coal Mine Shadows, Sarah follows the life of nineteen-year-old Katherine Paddington. She is finally able to see an end to her own misery when her Uncle Ben is jailed for the murder of his brother. In this sequel, Katherine knows she must start a new life after her Grandmother Mame and Grandfather Clint pass away, but will the coal mine shadows of her past control her future away from the hills of West Virginia? Will Katherine succeed in making a new life for herself in North Carolina, away from the lies and deceit of her forefathers? Or, will the sins of yesteryear haunt her and her cousin Benny forever?

“On the hill behind the homeplace where Mary Margaret Blackwell, “Mame,” lay six feet under the cold, black coal, there were no angry rumblings under the earth, no headstones shaking. Finally, there was true peace. The dark-haired son had forgiven his mama, a mother that had never hugged or cuddled him. A mother who never spoke the words, “I love you.” For the first time in his life, Ben Paddington felt a peace he’d never experienced.”

“Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

Cozy, Winter Reads!

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Book that belong on your bookshelf and your February reading list!

 

We’ve all heard of a runaway bride, but what about a kidnapped bride? Love’s Lost Star combines romance suspense and intrigue in a rosy-wrapped packageThe perfect Valentine’s Day month read for the novel-lover! The author, Caitlin M. Smith, is also featured on Suspense Sisters.

Cece Burbin thought she knew what love was: people using and
discarding you. “Beauty doesn’t make someone love you. What did it have to do with real
life? It was a lie—the master tool of manipulation. It tricked women into an illusion of safety
and secured their loyalty while the man did whatever he pleased. Soon, the woman hated
the man, and everything fell apart.” Love, to Cece, was a fleeting mirage.

 

 

The world is searching for answers right now, and sometimes finding answers that us away from the omniscience of GodGenesis of Original Intent takes Christians back to the beginning and God’s plan for humanity.

Genesis of Original Intent encourages Christians to align themselves with God’s Word and His plan for their lives, while reminding the individual of how we all play a part in the greater Body of Christ. “It was always about relationship; it was never about religious icons or empty rituals, or even about belonging to a religious organization. It is not about lighting candles or wearing crosses as jewelry. It is about belonging to a Person—the Person of Jesus Christ.

 

 

The Great Comission leaves some Christians terrified  – afraid of social discrimination or censure. The Ministry of The Unveiled Face lifts the veil from the Christian’s calling and presents it in understandable terminology.

The Ministry of the Unveiled Face grounds believers in the simple act of sharing Christ every single day. The meekness of the calling lies in the Christian being responsive and obedient to God’s prompting as he interacts with others.

 

In an era of aching hearts and minds, when all hope feels lost, there are books to draw us closer to God. For The Display of His Splendor is a book for such a time as this.

Professor Amilliah Kenya wrote For the Display of His Splendor for the generation that struggles with anxiety, depression, and emotional exhaustion. Christians are struggling in this world. Fear, anxiety, depression, and emotional trauma grip even the strongest souls. It’s easy to wonder where God is, and why He placed people in this world during this time.

 

 

In times of suffering and hardships, Christians look to heroes of the faith in reverence. But in reality, they were just humans, flawed as we are. David: The Godly Heart of A Sinful Man  dives into the mystery of King David, the man after God’s own heart, yet famous for his sins. Christians everywhere will be challenged and convicted by this account.

 

Science Fiction is a popular genre of entertainment, but Christians need to use discernment when engaging in it. Enter Conflicted Man, a sci fi adventure about a man on quest for the truth; he ends up finding the one, true Truth along the way. Christians looking for an entertaining, convicting read will find this book checks the boxes for them!

 

 

Looking for a pastor’s quiet reflection about his days of ministry in rural Alaska? Northern Roads is all that and more. The perfect winter reading book for your bookshelf.

Whatever books you are looking for, and in whatever format, Ambassasdor International has the books for you! Our hope and prayer this month is that you experience the love of Christ and read GREAT books that point your heart towards him. 

 

 

New Year’s Hope

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A New Hope

As we welcome in the new year, I find myself reflecting over the tumultuous past year. Although this past year was filled with many challenges, it was also filled with many blessings. It is important for us not to become so distracted by the difficulties that life can bring that we forget to acknowledge and thank God for the favor He shows us in the midst of a struggle. One word that has continued to speak to me and come up this past year has been the word “hope.” It can be so easy to lose hope in the midst of a trial or challenging circumstance, but the Bible tells us in Romans 5:3-5 that “we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”

In our own ability and strength, we are not able to say or see this.

When we place our hope and trust in the things of this world, whenever something happens to upset us, we will not be able to maintain a joyful spirit and keep on hoping. But thank you, Jesus, that our hope is not found in this world or what it has to offer! Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” God is our hope. He fills us with His own strength so that even when everything around us may be changing or even falling apart, we can have comfort, peace, joy, and hope in knowing that He will see us through. It’s like the lyrics in the song Hope Has a Name by River Valley Worship say, “Hope has a name, His name is Jesus. My Savior’s cross has set the sinner free. Hope has a name, His name is Jesus. Oh, Christ be praised, I have victory.”

Hopelessly Hopeful

Our difficult situations may differ. For some, it may be dealing with the death of a loved one. While for others it may be dealing with severance in a marriage. Both are types of separation; however, one is a choice, and one is not. Sometimes, someone choosing to leave is harder than if they had passed on. Dr. Mollie Bond explores the idea of resting in God and seeking His path while in the waiting period of separation within her new book, Hopelessly Hopeful During Separation: 28 Daily Devotionals of Hope for Those Experiencing Marital Separation. It can be difficult knowing what to do. Should you reconcile or seek to go your separate ways? Instead of bombarding readers with opinions or condemnation, this book speaks words of hope and encouragement to the hurting heart with no judgment.

Dr. Mollie Bond describes her own personal experience within the opening pages of Hopelessly Hopeful During Separation, “I was separating, long-term. The flight attendant called my name. I walked on the plane, holding in tears, as I passed my nurse friend who just smiled at me. I was on my way to a new start. Still, I wonder today, what if someone had told me in the prior months that there was hope for even me? That my life didn’t have to be like this? That God was close and that He cared? I knew I was bitter, but I just couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. There was no exit until I saw that nurse’s smile… a bit of hope. And that’s what I offer to you. A bit of hope, a smile when it seems like your life will never change.”

“My prayer echoes Psalm 20, especially the verses for today. When your heart bleeds, I pray He finds and heals the crack. I pray your church supports you or that you find a good group of people to support you.I pray God saves you and that He shows you that He’s got you, that there’s nothing to fear. We trust in God, and that’s good enough.”

Hope Amid the Pain

Sometimes, our circumstances are outside of our control and are not our choice or even the choice of another, they just are. Leslie McKee expounds upon this fact of life and how it pertains to the effects of dealing with chronic illness and how to continue to remain hopeful in her book, Hope Amid the Pain: Hanging on to Positive Expectations when Battling Chronic Pain and Illness. One of the biggest struggles faced by those experiencing chronic illness or pain is the feeling of being alone in their circumstances. We want to know that we are not alone. Within the pages of her book, Leslie seeks to show readers that they are not alone and show how it is possible to “Hang On to Positive Expectations (HOPE) even [in the midst of] the pain.”

“God promises to use all things for His good. For those living with chronic pain and illness, it could be hard to believe that’s true. But He sees the big picture. He offers hope for those who feel hopeless, comfort in times of trouble, courage to squash fears, and strength to take that next step.”

“Life is full of choices. You can choose to be unhappy with your situation, or you can grab on to hope and live the best life possible. It’s impossible to change the past, and you have little influence over the reactions of others. When you are living with chronic pain and illness, your life may often seem out of control. There will be some things you can do nothing about, no matter how hard you try. However, you can always control your attitude and perspective.”

“It’s easy to focus on how things didn’t go as planned and to get depressed. That’s a natural response to grief and loss, particularly in response to chronic pain and illness. However, Philippians 1:6 is a wonderful reminder that while you may not be where you want to be or thought you’d be, God’s not finished with you yet. You can be confident that God has begun a good work in you, and He will perform it until the day Jesus returns. Life may not be as you envisioned, but you can be certain that God has a plan for you. Be thankful for what you can do and have done instead of focusing on what you can’t do or haven’t done. Abide in the Lord daily. Like the Philippians, you are a work in progress – God’s beautiful creation. Nothing, not even chronic pain, and illness can change that.”

“Your plans may have changed as a result of chronic pain and illness, His calling on your life has not. As God’s children, we have no reason to settle for anything less than God’s best for our lives. Years of struggling with chronic pain and illness can take a toll on a person’s mind, body, and spirit. However, God is the Source of all hope. It’s never too late to begin expecting His goodness in your life. You are valuable and precious to Him. There’s no need to settle for anything less.”

Whether we are facing chronic pain and illness or not, these words are true for all of us. God is the Source for our hope and nothing (and no one) can take His place in our lives. We need to stand strong is His truth (the Bible) and His faithful promises over us.

Destination Hope

We face many struggles within the journey of life. Marilyn Nutter and April White discuss not only the difficulties of separation from a spouse (through widowhood), but they also discuss the struggle of dealing with chronic illness and pain in Destination Hope: A Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart. Marilyn and April seek to encourage their readers to see loss and hardship as part of life’s journey that defines us, and they remind us to continue to look to our Saviour, Jesus, Who is the provider of all Hope. This is our destination, our resting place, and the only place that hope can truly be found.

In life, we often “travel to unexpected places and live in plans we didn’t make or anticipate. Perhaps we temporarily visited those places and are now on another itinerary. Some find support to manage living in the new location, others find resolution and move on. Still, others struggle and wonder where and when the new road will emerge. Expectations continue to be unmet. For some, however, the unexpected place is permanent. There is no opportunity to leave or fix your loss. It’s not easy. The partly cloudy weather report is the daily forecast.

We all meet itinerary changes. Life seasons bring changes, but some are permanently life-altering. They are accompanied by lifestyle adjustments, changes in relationships, and perhaps, a struggle with identity. Emotions rise and fall, new challenges surface, and loss is present. Like wearing a lanyard for a group tour, loss can mark us and become our identity if we allow it.

In our journeys, we don’t deny where we are. We need to mourn our loss – our disappointments of where we were and wanted to be – but we can learn and grow. We can reach for hope and find our “Holland” [path we didn’t choose for ourselves] may offer something we would have never otherwise seen.”

Although we are not alone and many of us are facing the same (or very similar) storms, “we are not all in the same boat.” What we are going through, or the way things happen to us, may vary. So, what does this look like? “What is the name of your boat? Perhaps your boat has several names. Marilyn, a widow at retirement with grown children, understands grief and the loss of her husband. But her situation is different from a young widow with littles at home. A person who has lost her job and needs to relocate for work has a different boat compared to someone who finds a job locally. Playing financial catch-up from a falling stock market is different at age thirty than age sixty. Each different boat, however, whittles down to grieving over the loss of our former familiar life. The storm is not one size fits all. Losses vary in magnitude from person to person. When and how they occur in our life affects our perspectives. Even family members who experience the same loss, such as the death of a loved one, are impacted in different ways.” But we can be encouraged, because “whatever storm we endure, we can have hope.”

 

If you are hurting or finding it hard to press on and maintain hope in this journey we call life, I encourage you to read these books on finding hope in the midst of the storm. God did not promise us a life without pain or challenges if we follow Him, but He did promise to be there right beside us in every step of the way.

Stand strong, be of great faith, and continue to hope in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, as we welcome in the coming year. I pray this year will be a year filled with rest and Hope in the promises of God.

 

Happy New Year from our team here at Ambassador.

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That’s What Christmas Is All About

-A Letter from the Publisher-

 

“O come, O come Emmanuel… Rejoice! Rejoice, Emmanuel has ransomed captive Israel.” What powerful words from a wonderful Christmas hymn. We have the opportunity each year to celebrate the fact that our Emmanuel, Jesus, came to this earth as a small baby to pay the ransom for us. Why would we not want to rejoice? How can we not gaze in wonder at the story of our Saviour’s birth? It can become so easy to lose focus during the hustle and bustle that the Christmas season brings with it that we forget why we are even celebrating in the first place.

 

In Terry Overton’s new Christmas book, Oddball Ornaments: The Story of Christmas, she explores the meaning of the season from a new and unique perspective, that of the ornaments.

They are ready to be hung after Thanksgiving (like they are every year), but when Grandma arrives with new ornaments, what will become of the oddballs? An excerpt from chapter 9 illustrates Terry’s unique way of weaving the story of Christmas into this wonderful book!

“Nutcracker described the beautiful scene he had discovered at the bottom of the tree. He told the ornaments about the animals, and the shepherds, and the kings. Then he talked about the family inside the little shed. And then he explained more about the Baby Jesus and said, ‘He is a gift from His own Father, God.’

‘What?’ Ballerina asked. ‘God gave people a present? His Son? He gave away His own baby?’

‘I know it’s hard to believe and understand. But God made all of the humans and the animals and, well, plants, fish, oceans, stars, and, well, everything. And God loves people so much that He wanted to show them by giving this gift.’” And what a precious gift He is.

 

 

Judy DuCharme shows another aspect of Christmas in her book, I Want a Water Buffalo for Christmas. Instead of focusing on the ultimate gift we have received at Christmas, she focuses on what we ourselves give in response. Judy demonstrates the idea of giving and showing our love to others, providing for those who are less fortunate than we are, and using the gifts that God has given us for His glory through the story of LeGory (a young Water Buffalo) and the journey he faces.

“And so it was that the baby water buffalo who had survived the vicious attack of lions, escaped the mighty crocodile’s bite, learned kindness and strength of character from his grandfather and his father, and mastered the ways of the farmer, was now an instrument of God to bless a family with little or no hope. LeGory brought love and provision from the God who loved him and loved Tuni and Dalia, because of the determination and sacrifice of eleven-year-old Emma who only wanted to give a water buffalo for Christmas. It was all accomplished through the work of Gospel Gifts. LeGory knew his journey had been planned by the One Who made him, and he wanted to do everything he could to help care for this family so God could teach them His love, and so they could help others.”

 

 

Helping, being there, and showing love for others is such a key element in the story of Christmas. It is important that we don’t get so wrapped up in gifts, packages, and bows that we forget about those we are spending Christmas with. In Life’s About Relationships, Dr. Don Woodard explores the importance of the relationships that surround us, the necessity of being truly present and focusing our time and energy into our family and those we love, and how we should be displaying and modeling this to our family.

“At the end of our lives, we will not say I wish I would have spent more time at the office or playing sports or seeking fortune and fame. We will wish that we would have spent more time with family, with those that we love. Money, possessions, and health can all fade away or lose their value, but two things are certain: our relationship with God, Who loves us and created us for Himself, and those special lifelong relationships that God sent into our lives to make our life more pleasant and interesting. When everything else is gone, these relationships will matter the most.”

“We can influence young people about good relationship behaviors, not by what we tell them, but by what we show them through our own relationship behaviors. I will never forget my fifth-grade Sunday school teacher, Mr. Lawrence Schaffer. One Saturday, he invited each pupil in our boys’ Sunday school class out to his house for a Christmas party. During the party, we played games, ate hotdogs and popcorn, and did stuff fifth grade boys do. Just imagine the conversations, ‘Batman is cooler than Superman because he has a cool car,’ or ‘John Wayne is the best ever because he shoots guns and gets to ride a horse.’ These were my normal topics of conversation when I was ten – very important stuff to know!

The thing I remember most about that Christmas party was the way Mr. Schaffer treated Mrs. Schaffer. He spoke politely to Mrs. Schaffer, never raising his voice, never cursing, or threatening to hit her. They spoke lovingly to each other, they smiled at each other, they laughed together, and without knowing it, they taught a fifth-grade boy what a marriage relationship can be. Through their influence and example, they taught me positive relationship behaviors.”

 

Never underestimate the power of the example you may be setting forth today, over Christmas as you are surrounded by those you may not often see every day. Your actions and how you celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, although they may be small or normal to you, could change someone’s life.

 

 

We weren’t meant to do it alone, we need relationships. But we also need to open our doors like the Shaffer’s did for Don and his Sunday school class. So how do we do this? How do we live out our faith during this Christmas season? Martin Wiles gives us a blueprint with practical approaches for discerning how to live out the Bible in today’s world within the pages of his book, Don’t Just Live… Really Live.

“Perhaps more than anywhere else in Scripture, real living is addressed and described in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). The teachings are demanding – and take a lifetime to master – but the rewards are bountiful. When mastered – even to a degree – life is simpler and more peaceful. Most of all, we experience the joy of knowing how to really live life. We’re not artificial but genuine. And we comprehend it’s not all about rules and regulations, but about a loving relationship with a loving heavenly Father through a magnificent Savior.”

“The first four beatitudes deal with inner principles that, if followed, will result in outward actions, which should be our goal. Realizing our spiritual poverty apart from Christ naturally leads to showing mercy. Those who recognize the horribleness of sin strive for purity. Not seeking retaliation or revenge results in peace. And striving to live by God’s standards will incur persecution.”

“Real living may involve rules, regulations, and traditions, but they do not produce it. Believing that it does results in building our life house on sand, and, in the end, it won’t stand. We experience real living by incorporating Jesus’ two greatest commands into our lives: love Him supremely and then others as ourselves. The first will always result in the second, and when we obey these two commands, we will fulfill all the other demands of God’s moral law. Abundant life will be ours. We’ll learn to be content no matter our circumstances, we’ll allow Christ to accomplish His plan through us, and we’ll store our true treasures in heaven where we plan to live eternally.”

~

As we close out this year, in keeping with the spirit of loving others and of Christmas, I want to thank all of our authors, past and present, for being faithful with the mission of furthering the gospel through the written word and using what God has given you to reach the lost, the broken, and the hurting. I especially want to thank those on the Ambassador team (staff) who work so hard each day to see each book completed. This past year brought with it many challenges, but each and every team member pushed through and persevered. Thank you.

I believe Christmas, as it brings in the closing of one year and beckons in the start of another, is the perfect time to consider all that we have to be grateful for such as family, friends, but most of all, our precious Savior, Jesus.

 

 

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and Mary gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. And behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests’” (Luke 2: 6-14).

Christmas Books for the Whole Family

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It’s December! The lights are up. The trees are decorated. Christmas music is playing. The cookies are baking.

What’s missing? A good book, or two, or a dozen!

If you’re still looking for Christmas books this year, we have you covered.

First, for the kiddos…

 

I Want A Water Buffalo For Christmas

 

 Judy DuCharme has done it again and written a clever classic for yet another age group to enjoy. I Want a Water Buffalo for Christmas tells the story of LaGory, a young water buffalo, who brings life to a family in dire need. Circumstances mysteriously fall into place to create the life-giving wonder of giving to those who have less. Children of all ages will learn the true meaning of Christmas in this fun, cleverly written book. An excellent read for families trying to teach the Reason for the Season this Christmas.

 

Oddball Ornaments: The Story of Christmas

 

Next up on the Christmas list is the oddly titled ( we jest!) Oddball Ornaments by Terry Overton tells the adorable story of the ornaments in the attic, excitedly waiting for their time to shine. Except, instead of being pulled down from the attic, the ornaments are replaced with new ornaments. Something isn’t right. Determined to get to the bottom of the matter and discover the true meaning of Christmas, the Nutcracker sets out on an epic quest to climb the Christmas tree and get to Angel. Maybe Angel will be able to proclaim what Christmas is all about – once and for all.

 

Baby Jesus Is Missing

For the older, middle-grade readers on your list, a Christmas detective story! Baby Jesus is Missing, and the small town of Reedy River seems to be having a crime streak. Will sisters, Catherine and Susanna Mae be able to find the baby Jesus figurines in time? Or will their detective case take them down a journey of loss and betrayal this Christmas season? Perfect for the readers who want just a bit more to their Christmas tales.

 

For teens and adults alike!

 

Life’s About Relationships: A Foundation for Good Relationships

Next, everyone knows that the holidays can make relationships difficult, but Dr. Don Woodward argues that, Life’s About Relationships in his new book titled just that. With an easy, conversational style,  Woodard examines the common struggles that relationships of all sorts face, and gives Biblical advice as to how to face them. Perfect for anyone dealing with conflict or new relationships this year!

 

A House Without Walls

For the discerning reader comes Dan Crabtree’s A House Without Walls, a Christian’s perspective on the ethnically divided church and how Christ unites us all. In a sea of conflicting attitudes and division, this book draws the Body of Christ together once more. A must-read for the Christian seeking Biblical systems during this season of upheaval.

And finally, what is Christmas without a miracle?

They Call Me “The Miracle”: The Carmen Rice Story

They Call Me The Miracle is the story of Carmen Rice and her decades-long battle with a brain tumor that should have claimed her life within six months. Instead, Carmen is here with us today, proclaiming her story, the truth of the Gospel, and the miracle that God gave in her. A must-read for those struggling with faith, discouragement, or hardship during this season.

 

We hope these books bring joy and delight to your family, and you draw you closer to Christ this Christmas season.

Merry Christmas from the team at Ambassador International!