WHY READ HISTORICAL BIBLICAL FICTION?
How Reading Historical Biblical Fiction Enhances Our understanding of the Bible
From a participant from Tessa Afshar’s Face Book page:
“Lisa Larsen Hill, I want to thank you so much for bringing Book Club to our Church. You have no idea how much that impacted my life. Just finished 54th books yesterday. Thanks again for Tessa Afsha(r)sic and Francine Rivers, Angela hunt, Marek Halter, Cathy Gihlke, Cossette, Linda caddy, ...etc. can't name all. God speaks through those books. Amazing Grace. Right now, I'm reading "Mary of Nazareth "by Mark Halter. You guys are awesome servant of our Lord.”❤️❤️🤗👍🙏🎄
This an excerpt from New York Times Bestselling author Angela Hunt. I thought it was a great piece to share with you on Seeds of Faith for Women path of using Biblical fiction.
To read the entire piece, please go to Angela’s website at www.angelahuntbooks.com.
“What a trustworthy biblical novelist does is take the scripture and bring it to realistic life with layers of color and texture and sensory details. We research the historical time period and read dozens of works written in that time period whenever possible, so we can get a feel for how people actually wrote, lived, and spoke.
Why not forget fiction and read only the Bible? Because the human spirit resonates to STORY. When I was a little girl, before they had invented children’s church, I had to go into the adult service with my parents. As a four-, five-, and six-year-old, I tended to fidget and often put my head in my mother’s lap to sleep. But whenever the preacher said, “Reminds me of the time when . . . ” I sat up, all ears and wide awake. Why? Because those words signaled the beginning of a STORY, and I loved story. Nearly everyone does. So why read fiction based on biblical events?
- Because a trustworthy author will not violate Scripture.
- Because the fictional elements should be logical and based on historical facts.
- Because human nature is consistent over time. We often think our problems are unique, and we’re relieved to discover that we aren’t alone. Others have been in similar situations.
- Because historical fiction helps us better understand the culture and history of familiar story events.
- Because we learn from the lives of other people.
- Because God Himself recorded stories, and Jesus taught with them since humans are hard-wired to appreciate story. Who would know that better than the God who created us?
God gave us Scripture, and the doctrine of biblical sufficiency states that the Bible gives us all we need to know about God. But it does not give us all we want to know, and our quest for knowledge is a God-given gift. We yearn to know more, and well-written biblical, historical, and contemporary fiction can meet that need.
So don’t hesitate to open your heart and mind to a well-written biblical novel. You may be surprised to learn a truth you had never before considered.
Encouraging women’s faith journeys
Our current vehicles to accomplish our mission are the following:
Seeds of Faith for Women Historical Biblical Fiction Stories that Inspire. All you need to start a group:
Using award winning authors, the focus is on how stories of women in the Bible can affect and inspire us today.
To learn more about starting a group and a recommended book list, click here.
Daughters of Abraham Gatherings
Daughters of Abraham brings together a group of Christian, Muslim and Jewish women to have thoughtful and meaningful dialogue. We explore our faith commonalities while understanding and respecting our differences, as well as mutual trust and collaboration.
To learn more, click here.
Events and Speaking Engagements:
Seeds of Faith for Women, Inc will host an annual retreat featuring a guest speaker on some aspect of faith.
Take a look at current events and past conferences, click here.
Speaking engagements/Guest Preaching/Biblical Story Telling: Bringing the Word to Life
Lisa has for over 25 years been a guest speaker in the pulpit, preaching for ministers on vacation with credentials as certified lay speaker and Biblical storytelling experience. Biblical story telling is an oral tradition of retelling stories from the Bible. The modern version is a discipline and process that instead of memorizing is described as ‘internalization’ or ‘committing to deep memory’ so that the teller is well versed with the setting and the context.
To learn more or have Lisa speak at one of your events, click here.
Monthly Bible Verse
Join me in memorizing a verse/s each month and let me know your favorites.
Want the Monthly Bible Verses to study?
The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in the path of righteousness for His names sake.
Even though I walk thru the valley of death,
I will fear no evil; for thou art with me.
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies
Thou anoints my head with oil, my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all of my days
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Take heart in these verses, our Lord is with us with all we are going through.
Here is a sermon I gave on these words (click here). My husband Roger introduces the 23 Psalm.
May it give you some peace.
God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
These days it’s very hard to read the newspaper and not feel powerless against all the trials that are happening, it can be overwhelming. More than ever do we need to be in communication with our God? To listen with our hearts and so direct our steps. What can we do with the gifts and talents God has given us to answer our purpose, our calling? Can this help us on a daily basis by moving forward with what we can contribute? May you consciously make time in your day to “Be still and know....” Peace.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.
Cor I:13 4-18
When I was growing up, I memorized the whole chapter of Cor I:13. Seems like a fitting verse for February.
It is such a beautiful reminder of what we are suppose to be to ourselves and our neighbor. For this is what God wants from us, to love Him and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Imagine if we could do this... I find it helps to have this one in our hearts especially when someone cuts in front while driving, or someone is rude to you... maybe we don’t know why that person is in a hurry could it be a doctor? Maybe the rudeness comes from a hurt or a health challenge in their life. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, Love never ends. Amen, May it be so with you.
But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands. Psalm 31: 14-15
On New Year's Eve, my husband and I review our year, write the key things that happened and what we want to see for ourselves for the future. For our 20th anniversary, I made him a scrapbook of all these notes and our Christmas letters which also serves to highlight our adventures. Now it is easier to remember so much as I usually take photos and it is a great way to review the year.
I just read a blog by Edie Melson, who I can highly recommend if you are a writer. She suggests choosing a Bible verse for the year ahead and one word to help with God's direction for you. So this is the verse I have chosen and Trust is my word. How about you? What verse speaks to you? What word will you chose for 2020?
Blessings to you and your journey.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
This month can be hectic with presents to buy, wrap, send. Demands at school, work, home. A sentimental feeling about Christmas that tries to make all things wonderful and lovely even if it puts one under so much stress. An ever expansive to do list that seems to grown instead of diminishing. Reflections of Christmas pasts which can be laden with wonderful and possibly difficult memories. We tend to make it all more complicated that it really needs to be.
It is the 50th year of Charlie Brown’s Christmas, where he yells out, “Can anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?” And our wonderful Linus takes center stage and tells the story from Luke.
This month let us remember what it is all about. The scripture above celebrates this Christ child who came to earth and gave us the biggest present of all!
May your days be Merry and Bright, and may all your Christmases have His light!
My times are in your hands. Psalm 31:15
Recently this verse was on a daily devotional. Somehow I didn't recall this verse and yet I think it is so powerful. When I say it, it feels like I put order in my day. It also wakes me up to remind me how am I spending my time? Do I realize what a privilege it is to be in God's World? Do I spend my time accordingly knowing I am in God's hands. How do I organize my day, what do I prioritize, how do I spend my time effectively knowing this is the day that He has made. I started saying this verse throughout my hours and it has helped me to answer these questions. Sometimes it is just in trying. I hope this verse can help you as we start to enter into the wonderful season of the Holidays. May we make them a part of times in His hands.
“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 by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:3-5
After 35+ years in Corporate America, I feel that perseverance was something I understood and worked many hours toward in very challenging times, especially when we went through reorganizations. With increasing leadership responsibilities, I saw how important character was in motivating and supporting people. Character is not something you can learn from a class or a video, it may influence you but character is something that is built over time.
When you Google how to build character one entry says:
Be Humble. Humility is the beginning of wisdom.
- Live out your principles and values. Whether it's “love others,” or “do the right thing,” living by your principles will make decision making easier and your character more steadfast.
- Be intentional.
- Practice self-discipline.
- Be accountable.
- I have always loved these verses, because it's a progression of life. We all go through trials that sometimes last longer than we would want. These trials build our abilities to cope which builds our character that leads to hope. What comforting words to know that there is hope in all this world - we have the Love of God. What is your definition for Character? May the Holy Spirit guide you to living your life with Hope. Amen.
When I worked in Corporate America (for many years), I used to say this verse a lot! And I know it may be correct to say people instead of men, but where I was it was pretty accurate.
Now that I am retired, I am not putting in a 60+ hour week as then but my heart is so happy to be full time working for the Lord in a conscious way.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul” Psalm 23: 2-4
What a beautiful message for us in the summer. Do we need to lie down in a green pasture and listen to the water floating by? We can look up at the sky and be grateful for this time of year, when the sweetness of the earth brings forth delicious peaches, nectarines, corn on the cob, garden tomatoes. Restore your soul, slow down, listen and be with friends and family. And save time to be just by yourself, thankful for God’s spirit upon you. May you take these verses to heart and rejoice for God’s goodness. Amen.
Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.
At our terrific spring retreat, Award winning author Tessa Afshar shared with us the story of Ruth and how life had brought many changes in her life including the death of her husband, father in law and brother in law. She makes the brave decision to move with her mother in law to Bethlehem, a town where she would not be welcomed because of her former beliefs. She bravely sought out a new life and through many other challenges she has a happy ending to her story. How often we worry about taking the next step, thinking about leaving a current job, or a new move, or joining a new place of worship. Let us learn from Ruth and her bravery, her trust. Tessa suggested to say this verse for 30 days to God and see what plans He has instore for you. Peace be with you.
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
I have known this blessing for many years, perhaps you have it memorized too?
I have always loved these words and how they make me feel. I have used this in writing to friends who are going thru a difficult time. What I recently discovered is this blessing was from God to Moses. God told him to tell the Israelites His blessing when they were in the wilderness. Are we in the wilderness now with all that is surrounding us from daily news...Take heart. Say these words aloud and sit with them awhile...Be Still and know.
Peace unto you.
I have been asked to speak on Mother's Day at my church and I have chosen 3 scriptures for this and the one my mom loved the best is from Matthew.
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Matthew 6:28-30
She used to say this to my brother and I whenever life seemed to be out of order and some challenges were facing us individually or as a family. When she said it, it changed the conversation, once we let it sink in. She had a strong faith in God and I am so thankful for her lessons.
The other verse is from Proverbs 22:6. Think this is so appropriate for all she taught me not only by her words but her actions.
6 Teach a child in the way she should go,
And when she is old she will not depart from it.
The last verse I have chosen is Romans 5:3-5
3And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
My mom had a very difficult beginning in life, she experienced many tragedies and has always amazed me how she was able to get up from each of these and not be bitter or angry but to embrace life and thrive. She taught me this verse by her actions and joy of life. I am forever grateful. Rest in Peace, Mom.
May one of these verses help you in this glorious time of year when all is growing and bursting forth life.
How can it be April already? It is one of my favorite months... the buds of all things are starting to show; the air seems fresher and days are getting longer... we can be so thankful for the seasons...
Easter is early this year and with it I am taking a non-traditional approach with this month's verse.
Jesus died for our sins in a most grievous way that I can't imagine the suffering and pain...
His resurrection brought us the forgiveness of sins, yet we can be so judgmental about others and not offer first compassion, right judgement, and most importantly forgiveness. We are all too quick to see something wrong in others when we have our own soul homework to do. How can we even compare how much Christ freely gave us and how we hold onto petty grievances in our daily life? Let us recognize the generous gift we have received and offer our forgiveness. May the Lord help you see a way to give peace in your hearts. Amen.
How can you think of saying, 'Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye. Luke 6:42 New Living Translation
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
I retired 2 and half years ago... perhaps when I was working I am not sure I would have understood this verse as well as I do now.
I believe we live our lives not thinking about an end but of a tomorrow and what we need to do or accomplish. And yes, this is important...but wisdom sometimes comes when you have time to reflect, to appreciate, to acknowledge all that has come before. All the lessons that you have learned and how perhaps you could have done some things differently... where ever we are on life's path may we share our experiences with others both our joys of doing what is right and also what our challenges have been and how did we handle them... Wisdom is sharing with others.
God bless you on your journey.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3: 5-6
I just got back from a trip to Jordan and Egypt, it was so mesmerizing... in Jordan we saw the place where John baptized Jesus, where Moses looked out on the promised land... where the daughters of Zelophehad were, in Egypt where Christ, Mary and Joseph lived for 3 months, where Moses was pulled from the bullrushes, where Jeremiah is in his final resting place... and so much more...
I was inspired by it all and have made the commitment to start writing a book about the Daughters of Zelophehad, a wonderful story about 5 daughters that changed the course of history for women to inherit… a great story in Numbers 27: 1-11... stay tuned...
I thought this was a great verse for this intention and also again for starting the new year with hope and assurance.
God Bless you on your walk!
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
Behold, I am making all things new —Revelations 21:5
Happy 2019 New Year!
It is amazing we are already here...it seems that 2018 went by so quickly.
Over the holidays, I heard from so many how difficult this past year has been...death, divorce, lost jobs, challenging diagnosis, anxiety on a daily basis of where we are as a country...
If you also had a difficult year...here are two verses that you can hang onto and step by step walk in faith.
For all of us these verses can have meaning. We like to make new year's resolutions. Is there something you want to work on?
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it
May we walk with confidence that God is with us, Emanuel.
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
3. Tenor Air — Isaiah 40:4
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.
4. Chorus — Isaiah 40:5
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
Handel's Messiah is one of my favorite pieces of music...it is so inspirational and I so enjoy the lyrics that come from the Bible...May be a lot to memorize but if you think of the music may also be helpful.
This month can be for some a time of celebration being with family and warm traditions...it can also be a time of angst for those who have experienced loss this year. Let us have eyes to see those who may need us, a gentle word, a simple gift of being present for that person and either listening or just being with them. In the merrymaking of this Holiday let us remember what we are celebrating...."for the Glory of the Lord shall be revealed." Merry Christmas! Blessings to you for a meaningful, peaceful and joyous Christmas.
Psalm 34:18 "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
Matthew 5:4 "Blessed are those that mourn for they will be comforted."
Days after we are mourning those who perished in Pittsburgh. These verses comes to mind...can we all do something to help those who are in mourning. Pray, contribute, support your local Jewish community. When my mom passed away, it was very hard on me, we were best friends and she died suddenly. His still small voice and the people that God put in my path helped me thru this very difficult time. Those who wrote more than just my thoughts and prayers are with you...words of comfort, words of understanding, words of acknowledgement of my love for my mom this was like balm for the soul. Since then I have understood how important words are at a time of grief and have made a practice of doing the same for others. May we pray to love our neighbor as ourselves. Amen.
Psalm 139: 6-10 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee your Presence? If I go up to the heavens you are there. If I make my bed in the depths you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, If I settle on the other side of the sea, Even there your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.
When I say these verses I feel so assured that no matter where I go, what I have done or not done...God is with me. He is here to make by path straight. I especially like the last line...beginning with"even there", emphasizing no matter where I am in life's journey...he will guide me. And the last of that line "Your right hand will hold me fast." Does that feel wonderful? Comforting? Loving? Wherever you are in your life, no matter what wrong turns you have taken, know that God is here, he if very present in our lives, we need only be still and know that He is talking to us.
Psalm 14:19 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight oh Lord my rock and my redeemer.
I need to remind myself daily to think and act on this verse. Sometimes that's not easy in reading the daily headlines, or a disagreement with a family member or friend....it is in these times we need to look at examples of ways about expressing ourselves so that we can be our true selves but also mindful that we are all Children of God. May we have peace in our hearts and souls.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if is it excellent or worthy of praise, think about these things.
I find great comfort in knowing this verse...as I think this verse is not only asking us to think about these things but most importantly to act on them, to embody them. How can I make a difference in this world that seems to be at odds and experiencing many natural disasters..if I think about how to be noble does this help me to order my day in what I will work on and accomplish. May our Lord talk to us through these thoughts and then our actions. Amen.
Isaiah 31: 40 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
This verse was read at my mother's funeral. It gave me solace in knowing my mom lived by these words... she was such a mentor to me in life... she taught me how to get up from defeat, from the things that knocked you down, but not just how to get up but to embrace life and live it with gratitude in walking with faith. God bless your days, your challenges and your ability to get up and thrive with our Lord beside us.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
When I read the headlines it is so stressful and so alarming. We are living in unprecedented times. Where do we go for our compass? Where do we go for our strength and direction? This verse speaks to me and I hope it will for you. God give us wisdom to know what to do and strength to accomplish our journeys.
Jeremiah 29:11 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.
I love this verse… and seems appropriate to launch this new website. When you think of the word prosper it means to thrive, flourish, bloom, get on well. So, whether we are experiencing being on the mountaintop or in a valley, we know that we have a future that is waiting for us for good.
President of Seeds of Faith for Women, Inc.
For more than 25 years, Lisa served as National Senior Vice President of Sodexo’s Innovations2Solutions Marketing and Creative services. With a team of more than 100 employees encompassing research, culinary, sustainability, wellness, technology, and workplace experience, the team won combined 28 Spirit of Sodexo awards, 15 Diversity Awards, and twice won the prestigious Best Concept award from Food Management Magazine. Lisa was featured in “Seven People to Watch in the Industry” in Restaurants and Institutions Magazine. She graduated cum laude from San Francisco State University with a bachelor’s degree in Communications/Educational Broadcasting, and also studied at the Universities of London and Amsterdam. She is married to her best friend Roger Hill.
When I left the corporate world after more than 30 years, I wanted to pursue a life-long ambition of using my talents to support, mentor, facilitate women’s growth through my Christian faith. I asked God, “What’s next?”
On a long journey celebrating retirement, I discovered historical fiction about women in the Bible. Returning home inspired, I distributed 15 copies of one novel and asked if the recipients would join me to review. I prepared questions and facilitated a discussion group that had multi-generations of women. As commitment to learning and sharing grew our collective faith, the answer to my question “what’s next” became apparent: Seeds of Faith for Women, an organization committed to helping women grow in their faith journeys.
My decades in corporate leadership roles required research, project planning, and people skills I now turn to fulfilling this vision of supporting women in their spiritual growth journeys. I ask that you join me in celebrating life and living it abundantly by learning the stories from the Bible and sharing your thoughts and ideas about how they can instruct us today.
- Established Seeds of Faith for Women as a non profit 501 c (3) with Board of Directors.
- Co-Created and Launched with Fredda Klopfer and Mojdeh Hassini, Daughters of Abraham in 2019
- Creating, Supporting and Inspiring Seeds of Faith Groups that meet regularly throughout the calendar year.
- Holding Annual Seeds of Faith Conferences with award winning authors or speakers
30+ years of working in Corporate America in Senior Leadership Roles:
- Member of the top 500 in 420,000 employees
- SVP of Innovations2Solutions & Creative Services: Led 100+ team in various departments.
Member of Network of Biblical Story Tellers since 1997:
The Network of Biblical Storytellers, Int'l. is an international, ecumenical organization whose mission is to encourage everyone to learn and tell biblical stories.
- By memorizing the biblical story, then staging and telling it, transforms the written word bringing it to life.
- “I have heard the story of Christ’s birth many times, but today, I heard it for the first time.”
Christian Seminar Leader
- Led Women’s Day apart retreats since 2012
- Led Lenten series workshop 2017
Certified UMC Lay servant since 1999
- Provided leadership, care-giving ministry and witness
- Led meetings for prayer, training study, and discussion in Spirit Builders
- Confirmation, Sunday School and Vacation Bible School since 2009
Certified UMC Lay speaker since 2000: Sea Cliff Methodist Church, Lake Ronkonkoma Methodist Church, Port Washington Methodist Church, and Congregational Church in Manhasset
- Conducted services of worship and presented sermons.
- Used Biblical Storytelling as effective means of communication.
Kiwanis: Vice President 2015-2017
- Co-Chair of Klothes for Kids 2015-2017: Back to school program for under privileged children.
- Chair for Annual Kiwanis MiniMart 2017 to present: Special Events Coordinator for Street event with 200+ vendors, largest fundraiser for North Shore Kiwanis