“Remarkable Faith” by Letellier

Remarkable Faith: When Jesus Marveled at the Faith of Unremarkable People

Has a trial (or a truckload of trials) ever left you feeling isolated? Hopeless? Defeated? I mean, you didn’t start out that way. At the beginning of the trial, you were active in community, full of hope and vigor, up for the challenge of whatever came your way.

Setbacks? No problem!

Delays? I can wait!

Illness? I’ll get well in no time!

But the road to recovery was a lot longer than you—or anyone in your circle of influence—were expecting. One by one the friends dropped away, because they couldn’t force your pain to exit stage right. They couldn’t control you or your situation, so they left.  

Or maybe they didn’t drop away. They tried to stay, but you—feeling weak, worn out, and unworthy—began to isolate yourself. It was easier to be alone than to have to explain to one more person what you were going through and listen to their well-meaning, yet utterly useless advice. Solitude was a good thing. For a while. 

As you began to reflect on your situation—comparing your situation to the outcome of Bible hero stories from your childhood—you might have begun to wonder whether or not you ever had faith at all.

But you did have faith, and the fact that you continue(d) to look to God for deliverance or healing is a sign that yours is the exact type of faith Jesus finds remarkable. Don’t give up.

Remarkable Faith: When Jesus Marveled at the Faith of Unremarkable People will be an encouragement to you or a friend with chronic illness—Jesus sees you. He hears your cries. You are not alone. 

Shauna Letellier has written a profoundly insightful and painstakingly researched book retelling the stories of eight unremarkable, unnamed men and women whose “lives were marked by desperation, pain, fatigue, hopelessness, disability, poverty, loneliness, and sin. Each of them sought Jesus in unabashed desperation (p. xiii),” and Jesus found their faith remarkable. 

Remarkable Faith begins with a brief compare and contrast between the apostles and the afflicted. Letellier makes her case concisely, and there is no arguing with her point:

“Remarkable faith is often grown in the broken soil of desperation.” (p. 174)

It really is amazing, when you think about it: Jesus marveled at the faith of strangers who remain to this day unnamed and known to us only by their afflictions. 

With bridled creative liberty, Letellier has beautifully written an imagined backstory to each of the eight vignettes we read in the Gospels. Steeped in the Scriptures and cultural context, the characters come to life as they unabashedly seize their opportunity to interact with Jesus. 

Book CoverLetellier defines remarkable faith as “the braided strands of doubt, hope, and wonder at a God who is able to do anything and sometimes restrains his power for reasons we rarely understand.” (p. 15) 

The eight characters whose stories are re-imagined are: 

  1. The Father of a Demon-Possessed Boy
  2. The Paralyzed Man
  3. The Roman Centurion
  4. The Hemorrhaging Woman
  5. The Samaritan Leper
  6. The Mother of a Demon-Possessed Girl
  7. Blind Bartimaeus
  8. A Forgiven Woman 

Remarkable Faith is a mix of fictional retelling and factual application. The author imagines each person’s backstory tracing the moments immediately leading up to and through his or her encounter with Jesus Christ. 

The structure of each chapter is built to take you through one character’s faith journey at a time followed by a time of reflection, application, and prayer. 

  1. Bible passage
  2. Dramatic retelling
  3. Reflection
  4. Application
  5. Prayer

First, you will read the story straight from the Gospels. Following this is a dramatic, fictionalized retelling of the story which engages the senses and emotions.

Then, the reader is challenged to take a closer look at the person’s remarkable faith. The author is skilled at teasing out the underlying lesson(s) in the story and bringing the reader to a place of self-examination. 

Each chapter ends with a prayer to apply the lessons learned and insights gained as a result of the study. 

Although I did not agree with some of the author’s assumptions and creative liberties, I think the book is a valuable and necessary addition to the faith conversation. We need to study these characters as much as (if not more than) Bible heroes such as Noah, Moses, Samson, David, and Daniel.

Remarkable Faith could provoke great conversations in a youth group or small group setting. I definitely recommend reading the creative backstories with an open-mind. Give yourself permission to look at the story from a different perspective, and ask God what He wants you to learn from each one. 


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Life Is Like a Box of Puzzle Pieces

Life is like a box of puzzle pieces

Are you someone who enjoys assembling jigsaw puzzles? If so, do you top out at 500 pieces, or are you a glutton for punishment preferring 1000+? I’m not a jigsaw fanatic, but I enjoy working on a good puzzle every now and then. My favorite moment in the puzzling process occurs when I finally locate a piece that has been eluding me, setting off a string of easy matches.

Image result for thomas moran grand canyon with rainbow
Pretty sure this is the one we bought.

My mother-in-law loves “puzzling,” and has framed a couple of the more beautiful puzzles she’s completed over the years. When we were at the Grand Canyon a few years ago, we purchased a stunning 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle for her as a souvenir. The image was an artist’s rendering of a view from the South Rim overlooking the Canyon at sunset. It was gorgeous! If you close your eyes, you can probably imagine what it looked like; however, I seriously doubt that you would attempt this puzzle without the box right in front of you. Most puzzlers refer to the picture on the box repeatedly to make sure they are headed in the right direction.

So, what if I were to tell you that life is more like a box of puzzle pieces than a box of chocolates? It is. Not only do you “never know what you’re gonna get,” but neither will one bite help you figure it out! You just have to live it. One funky-cut piece at a time. 

Click here to continue reading this
devotional reflection on GOD’S PROVISION at
Rooted at the Throne” hosted by Rachael Carman. 

“His Last Words” by Erickson

His Last Words by Kim Erickson

Refreshing. Inspirational. Life-Impacting. Bible Study.

It’s like a breath of fresh air just swept across my Bible Study world. As one who gravitates towards studies that dig into the historical context of Scripture, the original languages, and the local customs of the time, I tend to prefer studies by (or similar to) Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer. I enjoy digging into the Word—excavating hidden treasures and deep truths—so much so that I may have forgotten how wonderful it is to simply read the Word of God without commentaries, Bible dictionaries, lexicons, and theological resources at my fingertips.

Bible Study for the Soul

His Last Words: What Jesus Taught and Prayed in His Final Hours (John 13-17) by Kim Erickson (Moody Publishers), is a 7-week inductive Bible Study written for small groups, although it is easily adaptable to a personal study. I completed it by myself, and I loved it! Though the book is written with women in mind, I am certain anyone interested in learning more about Jesus—his last days, death, resurrection, and relationships—would benefit from this study.

Each week’s study is bracketed with a brief written introduction by the author (there are no videos) and discussion questions for a small group. (Since I completed the study on my own, I read through them, and answered anything applicable.)  There are five days of homework to be completed each week: the first four days center on Scripture reading, reflection, and application, and the fifth day is reserved for review and reflection.

From the author bio on the back cover:

Kim Erickson began following Christ after the death of her three-year-old son from strep throat in 2008. Her growing relationship with the Lord and her Bible saved her from the pit of grief. During this time, she also developed a deep, abiding love for the Word of God. Kim’s love of Scripture led her to develop a website and teaching blog to help other women fall in love with it, too: lovemyword.com. An elementary school teacher turned lawyer, Kim lives in Florida with her husband and son.”

Erickson’s explanation about how God used this tragic event to draw her close to Himself and heal her heart is interwoven throughout the book. She shares tidbits here and there so as not to detract from the study of the Word. Her testimony—though heart-wrenching—is extremely refreshing, exuding a joy and peace that only the Lord could bring.

 His Last Words: What Jesus Taught and Prayed in His Final Hours (John 13-17)

Four Days of Bible Study & One Day to Reflect

On the first four days of each week, you begin with Scripture. First, you read through the specified passage (short), and then you reflect upon it one verse at a time specifically looking for what it says about God. Erickson has provided a helpful guide for this part of the study, so you know what to look for during your review.

*His Last Words* Bible Study

Following the Scripture study, there are insightful notes and open-ended questions to help you think through the meaning of what you’ve read and how it applies to your life. Each day concludes with a Bible verse and a specific prayer to apply what was learned that day.

*His Last Words* Bible Study

On the fifth day of each week, you begin by asking the Lord to “reveal anything you may have missed the first time through the lessons.” I love that. Then, she guides you through a review of that week’s Scripture reflections, applications, and lessons learned. And then, there’s my favorite part of the study: Stillness before the Lord.

*His Last Words* Bible StudyBe Quiet. Be Still. 

Each week ends with a reminder to be quiet and still. To listen to the Lord. To remember what you’ve learned. To listen to the Holy Spirit. This is a very important part of the study and should not be skipped.

God has been showing me over and over and over again throughout the Prophets that, as His people, we need to slow down, be quiet, pay attention, and listen. We cannot continue living a hectic pace of life with the volume on everything turned up and expect to be able to hear what God is saying! We have to carve out time to be still and know that He is God.

Time for Reflection on the Entire Study

The final week (week 7) of the study is a review. Each day, you revisit one of the previous weeks and reflect on what God has revealed to you through this study. The book ends with suggestions for taking it deeper with goal setting and accountability.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I highly recommend His Last Words. I recommend it for small groups and individuals. I recommend it for women and men. I recommend it for Christ followers and those who aren’t yet sure about this whole Jesus thing. In fact, if you or a friend have not yet put faith in God, this is the study for you!

There Were Not Enough Sources 

Now, being the Bible nerd that I am, I have to confess that I was a lot disappointed in the “Notes” page at the end of the book: There were only nine footnotes for the entire study including only six sources (one of which was an English dictionary).

While I loved relying primarily on the Bible for this study, I believe a few more resources would have shed a more light on certain passages. For example, while reflecting on Jesus’ restoration of Peter in John 21, Erickson laments,

We don’t know why Peter was grieved by the third ‘do you love me?'”

Um…yeah, we kinda do know why he was grieved. With a little more research or a more scholarly commentary, the author would have seen that Jesus was using one word for “love” (agape) in His first two questions, while Peter was answering with a completely different word (phileo). The third time Jesus asks Peter “do you love me?” He switches from using His word (agape) to using Peter’s word (phileo). This is what grieved Peter, and a study of the interplay of these two Greek words for “love” adds texture and depth to the interaction between Jesus and Peter, as well as one’s interpretation of the passage. This can easily be overlooked if you’re relying exclusively on an English translation. I’m not trying to underplay the role of the Holy Spirit at all; however, we must keep in mind that the Bible was written in other languages, and the Holy Spirit has enlightened many theologians as they did their own research on the Scripture. 

With that said, honestly, I think that this is one of the best Bible studies I’ve done in a really, really long time! I loved it, and I recommend His Last Words with no hesitation whatsoever! 


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”