Is God Real? Prove it! A Child’s Defense by Pam Antoun

Today we’d like to welcome author, Pam Antoun, to the Inspired Prompt blog and introduce her new book. After her daughter was confronted on the playground because she was Christian, Pam wrote a children’s book, Is God Real? Prove It! A Child’s Defense to help children defend their faith.

Glad you could join us, Pam! Do you have any interesting writing rituals?

Pam:  For the past four years, my car has been my portable office as I chauffeur my daughters to and from school, martial arts and music lessons. There were many productive writing sessions in school car lines and during my daughters’ after school activities.

What is your book about?

Pam: How do you know God is real? Is it a mere feeling or a hope? Or is there something more you can point to that proves you are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of a loving and majestic God?

In Is God Real? Prove It! A Child’s Defense, two middle grade children, Amanda and Josiah are confronted with this very challenge. Nine-year-old Gavin has a difficult past that fuels his cynical attitude toward God and church; he craves love, acceptance, and meaning, but he struggles with distrust. When he sees Amanda and Josiah excited about an upcoming church event, Gavin is shocked anyone can happily attend church or believe in God. As Amanda and Josiah answer Gavin, another quick witted schoolmate, Sophia, joins in questioning, and sees something different in Josiah and Amanda – a warmth and peace she desires for herself.

Both Gavin and Sophia believe they are fine living without God.  Can Amanda and Josiah stand their ground without shaking their faith in God? Even more, can they share their faith and help their friends embrace the good news?

What is your favorite part of the book?

Pam: The way children speak honestly and directly about what they believe, the obstacles many children face to establishing a relationship with God, and how children can help others overcome their obstacles. This book could be read individually and can also be used in discussion settings. It includes questions and answers for each chapter along with Bible references explaining the answer source.

Is there a message in your book you hope readers will grasp?

Pam: 

  • God commands us to know the reason for our hope in Him and be prepared to explain it to others when asked. Over 70% of children are falling away from the Christian faith after entering high school and college. Children need to be equipped to defend their faith before entering high school.
  • God created us because He wants a loving relationship with us. The most important decision in life is whether we choose to establish a relationship with Him. The only way we can have a relationship with God is through Jesus Christ.
  • Certainty that God is real and increased confidence in speaking about why the reader is certain. God gives everyone clear evidence of His existence.

Where can readers find you online?

Pam: Here’s where you can connect with me on social media.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PamAntounAuthor

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/PamAntounAuthor

Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/in/pam-antoun-author

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/PamAntounAuthor

Website: pamantoun.com (coming soon)

Click to tweet: Pam Antoun’s book asks: How do you know God is real? Is it a mere feeling or a hope? Or is there something more you can point to that proves you are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of a loving and majestic God?  #amwriting #children


Is God Real? Prove It! A Child’s Defense

Gavin, with a difficult past, and Sophia’s quick witted curiosity challenge Amanda and Josiah’s faith in God. Can Amanda and Josiah stand their ground without shaking their faith?

“Is God Real? Prove It!”:

– answers tough questions about God

– defends the Christian faith

– helps establish a relationship with God

– encourages spiritual growth

– includes discussion and reflection questions.


Pam Antoun

Author/Editor/Teacher

Pam Antoun has over 20 years of experience teaching children in Sunday school and Bible camp environments. After her daughter was confronted on the playground because she was Christian, Pam wrote a children’s book, “Is God Real? Prove It! A Child’s Defense” to help children defend their faith. She strives to draw people closer to God and equip them to defend their faith. In addition to writing, she enjoys raising her daughters, swimming, trips to the beach, and painting.

Prior to starting a family, Pam worked extensively in software engineering, quality assurance, and process improvement.

Favorite Bible verse: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (New American Standard Bible)

Professional Affiliations: Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Word Weavers International, Toastmasters International

Education: Master of Science/Systems Engineering, Bachelor of Science/Computer Science

No More Apples

My heart dropped and I bit my lip to keep from crying. On the page, in black and white, was all the evidence I needed. Never mind what positive and encouraging things folks had said in the past. Never mind that scripture assures me I was wonderfully and beautifully made.

That one negative comment blazed across my vision in a big red X. Who said that?

Oh, she did.

Her post garnered more likes than my post.

Her picture was perfect.

Her wit sharper.

Her humor funnier.

Her advice bolder, holier, and wiser.

Her story had a better plot, cooler characters, stronger verbs, and a more satisfying ending; and, it was just a tale of her niece’s recital. I don’t even have a niece. How am I supposed to compete against that?

I heard that oh-so-familiar voice slither into my ear … Who do you think you are?

As I cowered at the keyboard, another voice – steady and strong and sure – said, “Kristy, you are my redeemed, my inheritance.”

That’s the voice I leaned into, buried my head in His chest, took a few ragged breaths, scooped faith and perfect love and grace into every available pocket, and then turned back to face the screen before me.

For a brief span of time, I had been pinned down in the battlefield of comparison. Poison darts of self-defeat, an advancing army of past failures, the rocket-bright glare of a thousand blank pages I could never hope to fill on my own, and then the near-fatal wound from Miss Perfect. I faltered when I lost my line of sight on His plan and His purpose for my writing, and my life.

The distraction of comparison is a very similar tactic to the one Satan used in the garden, isn’t it? The slithery voice asks, “Is what God gave you really enough?”

I had a choice on that battlefield: walk away in defeat or, pick up my focus, dust it off, and keep on marching. The march, however, involves risk.

If we, as Christian writers, are to heed the call to write AND to complete the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), we must risk vulnerability on many different fronts: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.; both on our personal pages, and on our author sites. Rest assured, we will receive responses from ‘out there’ (others) and ‘in here’ (our own heads).

Take comfort, dear writers, for here are some practical steps to safeguard our tender innards against a wound on the Comparison Battlefield.

  • Pray – Pray for protection. Take up the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16) so that you may believe that He who began a good work in you will also bring that work to completion (Philippians 1:6) Pray to do nothing but that good work (Ephesians 4:29) so that no matter what social media channel you are on, you will be found to walk worthy of His calling (Ephesians 4:1).
  • Decide your intention before you even open an app. Do you intend to encourage others? Do you intend to make an announcement/post? Do you intend to pick a fight, rumble out your rant, and sound off about the latest social stumble? Don’t make God sorry He gave you this word gift. Read Genesis 6:5-8 and determine to find favor in God’s eyes.
  • Set a timer for each social media channel. Then, obey the clanging alarm when your time is up.
  • Report to your Commanding Officer after every tour. Confess your faults, your fears, and your faith. Give praise where praise is due. Seek direction for your next assignment, or simply get some R&R. A weary soldier is as bad as a foe.
  • Find a comrade in arms. The NLT gives us a great picture of how and why to incorporate this principle from Ecclesiastes 4:12: “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Click to Tweet: If we, as Christian writers, are to heed the call to write AND to complete the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), we must risk vulnerability on many different fronts…

The Inspiration of Story

During this month, we are sharing how an author has inspired us. But instead of writing about how one has inspired me as a writer, I thought I would write about how they have inspired me as a reader.

The Exercise of Our Faith

I would like to begin with a quote from Eugene Peterson.

 

Parables aren't illustrations that make things easier; they make things harder by requiring the exercise of our imagination, which if we aren't careful, becomes the exercise of our faith

 

Peterson begins, “Jesus was a master at subversion…. Parables sound absolutely ordinary: casual stories about soil and seed, meals and coins and sheep, bandits and victims, farmer and merchants. And they’re wholly secular: of his forty or so parables recorded in the Gospels, only one has its setting in church, and only a couple mention the name of God. As people heard Jesus tell these stories, they saw at once that they weren’t about God, so there was nothing in them threatening their own sovereignty. They relaxed their defenses. They walked away perplexed, wondering what they meant, the stories lodged in their imagination. And then, like a time bomb, they would explode in their unprotected hearts. An abyss opened up at their very feet. He was talking about God; they had been invaded.

“Jesus continually threw odd stories down alongside ordinary lives and walked away without explanation or altar call. …But the parable didn’t do the work—it put the listener’s imagination to work. Parables aren’t illustrations that make things easier; they make things harder by requiring the exercise of our imagination, which if we aren’t careful, becomes the exercise of our faith.”

Story is a Powerful Thing

And there you have an outline for the perfect story. Fiction stories are parables. Stories ask the reader a “what if.” As a reader, we get caught up in a world not our own. We relax while experiencing this new private world. Unconsciously, we begin living the story and suddenly realize a hidden truth about ourselves we would have never recognized otherwise.

 

Story is a powerful thing.In the midst of recounting our stories, the veil of obscurity falls away, and we see clearly what we've hidden from ourselves.(1)

 

Inspiring Through Story

For example, Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love opened my heart to the realization that I was lovable even though I felt the exact opposite. Through that word of truth, I began to thirst for a much-needed restorative healing balm to my shattered heart. That hunger led me to open up to the only One who could supply it.

The O’Malley Series by Dee Henderson taught me that life doesn’t always go as planned and my prayers are not always answered the way I think they should be answered because only God knows what is best for His children. My job is to trust and obey Him. His plans are higher than mine.

Jill Austen, author of Master Potter and Master Potter and the Mountain of Fire inspired me to research pottery. When Austen’s character Beloved meets Master Potter, she accepts His invitation to the Potter’s house. Austen explains the process of making clay vessels while sharing spiritual truths.

 

 

I don’t remember everything about these authors’ books. But the one thing I do recall is the characters and the character arcs in the story. Because I became that character. Each one of these authors inspired me to seek for that which my heart longed for: make a difference in this life through my relationship with Christ. Isn’t that the reason we write? To make a difference? To inspire change?


Writing Prompt: Do you recall an author that has made a difference in your life? What changes did you make after reading their book? Take a moment to reflect on that change. Now make a list of how you can inspire those around you.

Click to Tweet: How an Author Inspired Me. “Parables aren’t illustrations that make things easier; they make things harder by requiring the exercise of our imagination, which if we aren’t careful, becomes the exercise of our faith.”

 

Ease on Down the Romans Road

By Carlton Hughes

On a warm Sunday morning nineteen years ago, I knelt to pray to receive Christ as my Savior. When the service ended I left the church as if floating on a cloud. What a feeling! I knew my life was changed forever, and I figured the rest of that life would be filled with sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows.

Boy, was I wrong.

Mind you, choosing to serve Christ was the best decision I have ever made and is the only way to live, but even Jesus said we would have trouble in this world. My transition into the Christian life was not easy—it took a while for me to figure it out. I’m actually still figuring it out, and one thing that has helped me is reading the book of Romans.
As I stumbled through those first few months of my new life, I didn’t know where to begin in reading the Bible. Someone suggested I read Romans, and I dug in. I found it’s a powerful book on how to live the Christian life.

The richest chapter that I latched onto was Romans 8. The first verse I ever memorized was verse 2—For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from sin and death—but there are so many more that provide insight and direction.

Further in Romans 8, I found that the sufferings of our present life cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us (verse 18). Just think, our current troubles will pale in comparison to what lies ahead. What a promise! On and on there are rich nuggets of wisdom, reminding me God is for me and not against me and nothing can separate me from His love.

I could go on and on, and I toyed with the idea of copying and pasting the whole book into this blog post. But then the administrators would complain the post was too long and not tweetable. Suffice to say, if you need some encouragement and direction, get yourself over to Romans.

Click to tweet: Salvation on the Romans road. #faith #Bible

WRITING PROMPT: Think back to your salvation experience. What struggles did you have? Find a verse in the book of Romans and relate it to your life.