Thief of Corinth

978-1-4964-2866-0 (1)

Living in Athens with her mother and grandfather had been difficult for Ariadne. It never felt like home to her. Corinth was home and her heart longed for her father and home. For eight long years since her mother had left her father and moved to her grandfather’s villa in Athens, Ariadne had endured what felt like a prison from which she could not escape. Her older brother, Dionysius, thrived on the study of philosophy and ancient principles, but she felt she could not live there another day.


She carefully planned how she would escape by climbing the trees in the middle of the night and using those trees to help reach and go over the high wall that surrounded her grandfather’s villa. She knew it would need to be quiet enough to somehow avoid the slaves that kept guard in the courtyard.


Theo insisted upon coming with her. How she treasured this brother who had never been her brother by blood. Their friendship had helped her through all these difficult years in Athens and now he would not leave her side.


This night would be the beginning of choices that would change the course of both of their lives. As Tessa Afshar writes in her newest novel, Thief of Corinth:


“But the choices that lead us into broken paths often have their beginnings in more convoluted places.”


 This new work of Afshar’s will travel from Athens to Corinth where Ariadne will return to the home she loved and the father she held dear. She will also discover the reason her parents’ marriage ended and unexpectedly learn of her father’s secret that had been the root of that broken marriage.


That secret will alter her understanding of both of her parents and as she seeks to help her father, she will be caught up in dangerous episodes that defy the law.


It is easy to justify wrong actions when there are so many reasons that make them seem right.


Ariadne’s life will change again when her brother, Dionysius, arrives from Athens with a man she had never known named Paul. Her father will be drawn to the wisdom and words this stranger is sharing, but Ariadne will be slow to see any reason to give Paul’s words the weight they deserve.


Thief of Corinth, set in the days of Paul, will catch you up in a powerful story of family dynamics not unlike those of many people living today. It will also remind the reader of the giftedness of Paul to share the gospel without the religious trappings that would have turned off his listeners. How he moves into the family of Ariadne, Theo, Dionysius, their father, and their entire household will model how we too can impact those who do not know about the Christian faith and its source.


Don’t get lost in the culture of the time or the wording that may seem so formal at the outset or you will miss a great story.


In exchange for my review, Tyndale through the Blog Network, provided this book, published by Tyndale House.  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.”









What Model?




I remember so well how often I revered persons as I was growing up and even as an adult, persons whom I wanted to emulate in some area of my life. He or she represented qualities of character or achievements that challenged me. Of course, it gave me no sense of what the Lord wanted to develop in my own life. These were just my own desires of what I thought I should or might want to be or look like.


Later as a mother I began to see how our children were often imitating me or my husband in one way or another. After all, it is one of the ways we all begin to learn – by imitating. Initially it seemed so cute, but then I began to be sobered by how many aspects of my life were not what I wished to have anyone learn from me. Children “catch” so many things from us that we are not teaching them.


As my walk with the Lord grew, I began to pray the Lord would not allow them to “catch” so many things that I knew they had observed. I wanted them to see more of Jesus and less of me, but I was not sure that was happening many times. I knew it wasn’t.


activity-beauty-blue-61129As our family was growing up, I recognized that I sometimes did or said something just like one of my parents. Those who knew our family well said more than a few times, “That is just like your mom (or dad).” Sometimes those were things I loved about them, but other times they were things I had told myself that I never wanted to be, say, or do.


There is no question that it’s good to have role models, but none of them will provide the model we need. There is only One who can provide that.


Paul says it best in Ephesians 5:1-2 (ESV):


 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.


 That was and is the answer and yet within myself I cannot achieve such a perfect example. How grateful I am for the Lord’s grace and mercy in my life as well as the work of the Holy Spirit’s progressive work of sanctification in my life.


Yes, when we receive Jesus into our lives we have a new identity, but that doesn’t mean I suddenly look like Him. Quite the contrary.


Unfortunately, too many outside of the body of Christ can look at us and see how many administration-adult-army-902239times we do not represent what they have heard of Him.


Yes, the Holy Spirit needs to accomplish this work, but we also have a responsibility to yield and practice what we learn of Him. His Spirit may indwell us and we may find it easy to express exuberance spontaneously in a worship service, but the real evidence of His Spirit at work in our lives is whether our life on ordinary days in typical and routine activities demonstrates the fruit of the Spirit.


That is when His light is most evident. That is when we glorify Him. That is when we show evidence of the hope that is within us.


The purpose of the gospel is not simply to impart knowledge. It is meant to transform us.


Later in Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV) Paul points to why that is important:


Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.


Who is imitating you?


What do they see?

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How Is The Walk Going?




My favorite form of exercise is probably walking. I love to do it alone many times so I can take in all of God’s creation around me without distraction. I notice so many things I miss when my ears, eyes, and thoughts are wrapped up in my day-to-day living activities and concerns. I often go without music plugged into my ears so I don’t miss the sounds of the birds, the breeze, or the Lord’s whispers. Sometimes He wants to point out something to me and I would never want to miss it!


Other times I love walking with a family member or friend. It’s an opportunity to talk without interruptions from electronic devices and assorted other things.


Walks with several of my grandchildren would top the list of some of my favorite memories. It’s given each of us time to get to know one another in unique ways as we have shared. One of those times was a photo walk where our youngest granddaughter and I were looking for special evidences of creation to catch a glimpse of through our camera lenses.


alone-cold-foggy-25763My husband has also been a great walking partner often in our years together. I have especially loved times when he has told me the story of the latest book he has been reading. Because he is one who notices details, it has given me the sense of being in the midst of the book with him. One of his best stories was telling me about Undaunted Courage that chronicles the Lewis and Clark expeditions.


Sometimes the walk is solely for the purpose of exercise, but I love the walks that do not have that purposeful stride I am looking to have as I wend my way along a path or neighborhood sidewalk.


But there is another issue of walking I must not neglect and it can be one that I must be purposeful about. It relates to Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:1-3 (ESV):


“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the desert-drone-dune-847400Spirit in the bond of peace.”


 Paul is stating an imperative in these verses. That puts it in the category of being an essential thing, crucial, vitally important, and a command, but what we fail to sometimes consider is what it means to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling.” That requires more intentionality.


Walking in such a manner means that I am looking like Him (or seeking to do so) not only in my words, but also in my actions, attitudes, tone, and posture in all things. After all, Jesus makes clear He represented the Father in his time on earth and was actually showing us the Father.


Am I (are you) showing others Jesus and the Father?


In this tension filled polarized world, how will that look for each of us?


The other words in the passage outline that, don’t they? If I am walking in humility, I am action-adult-asphalt-343469neither boasting nor trying to convey that I am right, my position is the one that clearly is most Christian, or trying to convince you that you are wrong. My social media is filled with postings from brothers and sisters that do not reflect that and I am pulled back to seek the Lord about what I post myself. Does it edify, build up, show love, promote our oneness in Him or does it focus on a position that can be debated and comes from my opinion, preferences, and experiences? We all have those (Me too!), but far too often they separate us; and, the body of Christ grows weaker when we promote them.


Each of us is called to be patient and “bear one another in love” and it is good to have those with whom we share those unfiltered ideas and opinions, but when they do not lead to peace and unity between us, do they result in a walk that is worthy of His calling?


In Paul’s first book to the Thessalonians, in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV) he exhorts the reader again about what walking in a worthy manner would look like:


“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”


In this case, Paul offers commendation for those who are doing it.


Am I?


Are you?


“Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”  

Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)






According to the dictionary choice means “an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.”  The challenge for us is how often we have a love-hate relationship with making a choice. We want the freedom of choice, but that requires us to think and consider what we really want or need. That is not always easy to decide.


When I use the word “choice” or “choices,” most of us will automatically have some of the major choices of life come to mind: where we will live, whom we will date or marry, what school we will attend, and what work we will pursue.  You’re right! Those are BIG ones for sure.


Have you considered how early in life we are asked or told we need to make such archive-beautiful-book-stack-256455choices?  It happens so early that we may not possess enough information or experience to be sure of what choice to make.


I watch my grandchildren who are in the midst of so many choices about what college or major he or she will select, what medical school is the best option, or where to pursue an internship. Think about how old a person is when those decisions come along. Then consider how much more you know about yourself and the world around you when you are 30, 40, 50, or older.


But those are the headline types of choices. What we fail to recognize at times is that each day, each hour, we are making dozens of choices. Some of them may not affect the course of our life ahead, but all of them will have consequences. And what helps us most in making choices is when we have opportunities to make them when we are really very young. If we do, it gives us a chance to learn in hopefully a safe environment with our parents and to experience the consequences of our choices when their love, experience and grace can help train us to be better at decision-making.


achievement-adult-battle-1080845Every time I say, “yes” to something, I am automatically saying “no” to everything else.  Every time I say “no” to something, I am saying, “yes” to something else. And we do it so often in those small choices that we rarely take time to think a lot about the results.


Every day we make a choice about when and if we will get out of bed, what clothes we will put on, whether we will eat breakfast or not and if so, what we will eat. We will make a choice about what route to take to work and what time we leave to get there and how we feel about what is required of us that day. We will make choices about how we respond – to those with whom we live, work, play, and minister.


As these choices start adding up month-by-month, year-by-year, we inevitably are choosing the course of every area of our lives until we arrive at mid-life and sometimes wonder how we arrived where we are. In those cases I am talking less about those major decisions I mentioned earlier and more about those little choices that become habits and a lifestyle without a lot of consideration on our part.bargain-blouse-bright-1078958 (1)


Those little choices lead us to how healthy we are in every area of our lives: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, relationally, and financially. Those with whom we live and interact, what we read or watch, what we tune out or what we tune in, heavily influence those little choices. There is a continual selection process going on. Yes, our DNA and our personality influence us a great deal, but these other things are key.


How did we get here?


No matter where we live, how old we are, what our education, what our culture, what our financial condition, etc., God gave His most significant creation – mankind – the freedom of choice. He even gave us a choice about whether or not we would recognize Him, call Him God, choose to believe in His Son, Jesus, and whether or not we would follow Him and in what way we would do that.


What a risk He took!


Most of us have failed miserably along the way…more than once, but He has never ceased to pursue us. He has permitted many things in our life that we question or wonder how a loving God could permit, but He has not sought to ever harm us.


He longs for us to know Him, even though He is beyond our understanding. He longs for us to discover how fierce His love is, even though we cannot grasp the full height and depth of it.  He longs for us to enjoy His presence, even though we often don’t make a lot of time to simply be with Him. He longs for us to stand in the midst of trial, even though we wobble and weaken to the point of sometimes sitting down. He longs for us to reflect Him, even when we often look more like the world than Him.


Many of us know the Old Testament Bible stories about heroes of the faith like Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Esther, and more. One passage in Joshua still applies to us each day as we make choices:


“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”   Joshua 24:14-15 (ESV)


It isn’t the gods beyond the river, in Egypt, or those of the Amorites that may tempt us, but many other things do tempt us. Each day we must choose whom we will serve. That choice will affect every other choice we make and influence every consequence.


He chose us first:


“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Ephesians 1:3-4 (ESV)


 To be chosen and hear the “Yes” of God means that He said “No” to Satan’s realm, to the second death, to utter darkness and pain. It means He has fashioned and purposed me for His Kingdom.


My choice of Him is a freedom He gave me.


My answer was “Yes.”


What will your choice be?








The Whisperers


Blackberry Farm


God gives some a special gift.


This gift allows the one possessing it to tame or train an animal using non-threatening body language and gentle words rather than reliance on physical contact.


Those who possess this gift are known as “whisperers”. Within them lays an intuition and heart that understands at an unusual level.


In 1998, a movie was released that depicts this perfectly. The movie was The Horse Whisperer. In it, a young adolescent girl and her horse are seriously injured in an accident. Both the girl and the horse have been deeply traumatized by their own injuries as well as by the death of the girl’s friend who had been also riding alongside them.


The girl’s physical injuries are significant, but the internal damage to her heart and spirit are even more severe. Her beloved horse has such grave injuries; the veterinarian believes the horse needs to be “put down”. Not only is the horse physically wounded, but also he is like his rider, wounded within his heart and personality.


It becomes clear to the mother of the girl that her healing is tied to that of the horse. This leads her to search for a horse whisperer that can bring healing to both the horse and her daughter.



As the movie unfolds, the gifting of the horse whisperer is tested and fascinating to behold. Little by little he intuitively uses his gifts to begin to bring the horse to a greater level of wholeness, but the girl’s heart takes longer to heal. The trauma shared by the girl and the horse creates a fear that overwhelms each of them in their relationship with each other.


I never fail to be touched by the story as it unfolds on the screen.


When I was still working, I met with a woman whose life had been shattered by a car accident. One of the tools we used to help her face the accident was this movie, shown in very little segments. Not only had her body been traumatized, but also her heart and her spirit.


Many of us may have seen the movie or heard of other whisperers with various animals.


The truth is that many of us, humans, have been wounded and traumatized. What about us? Are we in need of such a whisperer as well to gently tend to our hearts and spirits?


I think so.


Jesus gives us a model of what that might look like. He saw the wound. He heard the words, but He heard beyond what He saw and heard. He looked deeply into the heart and spirit of the person and saw what others missed.


Did Jesus have discernment beyond any we have ever seen? Of course He did, but there was something else perhaps.


Jesus had a God-listening heart!


He was in communion with His Father at a level few of us can imagine. The Father who made each person and knew each one at a depth no one else could know surely spoke to His heart and revealed all to Him.


Because of that, His words were never trite, superficial, filled with religious prattle, or inconsequential.


 The ordinary men He called to be His disciples appeared pale by comparison, especially at the outset. But over time after Jesus’s death, resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we begin to see a change in them. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit begins to train them to see beyond what is clearly in front of them, to have faith for what they could not believe on their own.


Maybe they were developing God-listening hearts. I think the Lord was fine-tuning their listening so they could be more like Him. Perhaps that was central to what His Kingdom was and is to look like while we occupy waiting for Him.


In this world of self-centeredness, frenetic activity, and quick fix solutions, what could serve as a more phenomenal witness of Christ within us than to be one with a God-listening heart?


 I think a God-listening heart hears differently because it hears not only what is spoken by the person or seen in the person, but also what is left unsaid or only touched upon.


To respond to that which the God-listening heart reveals is perhaps the greatest love gift any of us can receive. And such love transforms and heals, comforts and grants courage in the face of trials.


 Do I have a God-listening heart?


Do you?


Jesus is not physically here, but He is inside of us. I think He is calling us to have such a heart as His. Such a heart hears the checkout clerk at the grocery store differently, hears the seemingly casual conversation with the neighbor more astutely, and hears the heart of a friend when few words were spoken.


Are you a whisperer?


Let Jesus develop a God-listening heart within you and watch how He loves through you!