Food for the Soul

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Posted 5/12/15 at 1:42 PM | Audra Jennings

Sacrificing Everything to Make Your Dreams Come True

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander
Zondervan

Against the backdrop of one of the most turbulent times in American history, the post-Civil War era, one woman struggles against prejudice, injustice and suffocating conventions of the 19th century to pursue her dream. Tamera Alexander’s To Win Her Favor (Zondervan/May 12, 2015/ISBN: 9780310291077/ $15.99), the second stand-alone novel in the Belle Meade Plantation series, is already receiving high praise. According to Library Journal, “Strong characters, a sense of the times and the themes of love, friendship and the importance of loyalty and determination make To Win Her Favor a triumph.”

Maggie Linden lost nearly everything in the Civil War — including most of her family. She’s about to lose her stables and land at Linden Downs and her thoroughbred racing hopes as well. A gifted rider in a world where ladies never race, Maggie is determined that her mare, Bourbon Belle, will become a champion. Indeed, her only hope of saving Linden Downs is if the horse takes the top purse in the inaugural Peyton Stakes, the richest race ever run in America. To give his daughter a chance, Maggie’s wily father makes a barter. But his agreement includes one troublesome detail: Maggie must marry a man she’s never met — a man she never would have chosen for herself.

An Irishman far from home, Cullen McGrath left a once-prosperous life in England because of a horse-racing scandal that nearly ruined him. He’s come to Nashville for a fresh start, hoping to buy land and begin farming, all while determined to stay as far away from thoroughbred racing as possible. With “No Irish Need Apply” signs greeting him at every turn, Cullen finds starting over proves much more difficult than he wagered. When Maggie Linden’s father makes him an offer he shouldn't accept, he finds it impossible to refuse.

In this page-turning tale, Alexander includes revealing insights about the challenges females faced in the 19th century and the courage it took to overcome them. In marriage, women were to be passive, obedient and cooperative. But in horse racing, women weren't even allowed to participate. White men owned the blood horses, and young slave boys were the ones who jockeyed the magnificent thoroughbreds. Women and girls weren't allowed— at least, not without a fight.

To Win Her Favor captures a challenging and pivotal time in American history when social and racial tensions ran high in the years following the Civil War. The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 granted freedom to slaves in the 10 states still in rebellion, but it didn't outlaw slavery, nor did it grant citizenship to ex-slaves. But Freedmen weren't the only ones who suffered enormous abuse and ridicule. Irish immigrants, like Cullen, were scorned by society and routinely ridiculed alongside Freedmen in both newspapers and daily life.

While revisiting this chapter in American history can be painful, Alexander, a Southerner herself, believes it’s important to learn what the era can teach us about ourselves and others. Her latest novel encompasses not only themes of forgiveness and extraordinary courage, but it also explores burgeoning love and the intimacies of marriage between a man and woman who didn't choose to be together. And yet, because they hold the key to each other’s dreams, they struggle to make it work.

Alexander hopes ultimately readers will close the covers of To Win Her Favor motivated to search their own hearts in relation to prejudice and have the courage to take whatever steps are necessary toward healing the divide.

About the Author

Tamera Alexander, author of To Win Her Favor
Tamera Alexander

Tamera Alexander is the USA Today bestselling author of numerous books, including A Lasting Impression, A Beauty So Rare, To Whisper Her Name and From a Distance. Her richly drawn characters and thought-provoking plots have earned her devoted readers worldwide, as well as multiple industry awards.

These awards include two Christy Awards for Excellence in Christian Fiction, two RITA awards for Best Inspirational Romance, three Gayle Wilson Awards of Excellence, two Bookseller’s Best Awards and being listed among Library Journal’s Top Christian Fiction, among others.

After living in Colorado for 17 years, Alexander has returned to her Southern roots. She and her husband now make their home in Nashville where they enjoy life with their two adult children who live nearby and Jack, a precocious terrier.

To keep up with Tamera Alexander, visit www.tameraalexander.com, become a fan on Facebook (tamera.alexander) or follow her on Twitter (@tameraalexander) or Pinterest (tameraauthor).

Posted 5/11/15 at 1:50 PM |

New book details the horrific account of the first Christian genocide of the 20th century

Author draws a definitive parallel to today’s persecution of Christians in the Middle East

The current persecution of Christians in the Mideast has its echo in the religious cleansing that swept Asia Minor early in the last century. Over the course of ten years beginning in 1912, three million Christians were slaughtered. It was the first genocide of the 20th century. Smyrna was a majority-Christian city inside the mostly Islamic Ottoman Empire, and its destruction was the final episode of the genocide. A small-town minister whose faith in God gave him the strength to save hundreds of thousands of lives during the Armenian genocide is at the center of a new book, THE GREAT FIRE: One American's Mission to Rescue Victims of the 20th Century's First Genocide (HarperCollins), written by critically-acclaimed author Lou Ureneck.

The book tells the story of Reverend Asa K. Jennings who arranged the evacuation of the city of Smyrna (Turkey) after it was burned and a slaughter of its Christian inhabitants was begun by the Turkish army in September 1922. The arson and slaughter at Smyrna occurred as the navies of the great powers – the United States, Great Britain, France and Italy -- stood by as neutrals. The deaths of hundreds of thousands of helpless people seemed inevitable until an American minister came forward to stage a bold rescue with the help of a courageous U.S. Naval officer. FULL POST

Posted 5/11/15 at 11:43 AM | Audra Jennings

Kristy Cambron Shines Light on Resiliency of the Human Spirit

A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron
Kristy Cambron

Just like a single candle can brighten a dark room, a glimmer of hope can sustain the soul in dark times. In her highly-anticipated second novel, Kristy Cambron shines a light on the resiliency of the human spirit in A Sparrow in Terezin (Thomas Nelson/April 7, 2015/ISBN: 978-1401690618/$15.99).

Q: Your new book has a unique title — A Sparrow in Terezin. Where is Terezin, and what happened there? FULL POST

Posted 5/7/15 at 1:07 PM | Audra Jennings

Love Might Not Always be Enough, But it’s a Start

A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade
Bethany House

Becky Wade weaves a moving tale of the hope of redemptive love in her new book, A Love Like Ours (Bethany House/May 5, 2015/ISBN: 978-0764211096/$13.99). In it she introduces us to former Marine Jake Porter, who carries scars far deeper than the one that marks his face. After serving his country in the Middle East, he returns home struggling with symptoms of PTSD. His pain causes him to live a solitary life, avoiding relationships even with his dearest loved ones.

All of this is challenged when Lyndie James, Jake’s childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas. Despite his misgivings, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbred horses. He pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion’s reluctance to run. Jake finds his old friend to be tender-hearted, fiercely determined and afraid of nothing — just like she was as a little girl.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake’s will, Lyndie’s sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he’s built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope Jake thought he’d lost forever returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

According to statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs, 11-20 percent of veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have PTSD in a given year. “I’m extremely grateful to our veterans for their service,” Wade says. “I cast Jake as my hero because I was moved by news stories I’ve seen and read throughout the years about service men and women who come home with physical injuries and/or disorders such as PTSD.”

A portion of the proceeds from A Love Like Ours pre-orders and post-release sales through May 17 will go to support the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF), which builds centers on U.S. military bases to aid veterans in their recoveries from combat injuries. Wade selected this charity because IFHF goes beyond addressing physical rehabilitation, also helping with traumatic brain injuries and psychological health conditions.

Wade reveals she wants readers to walk away from A Love Like Ours with a renewed compassion for those who are hurting. “My desire is that this novel will remind readers that in God, there’s always reason to hope. He has the power to redeem all things in His time.”

About the Author

Becky Wade
Becky Wade

Becky Wade is the Carol Award and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award-winning author of My Stubborn Heart, Undeniably Yours, Meant to Be Mine and her latest, A Love Like Ours.

Wade and her husband lived overseas in the Caribbean and Australia before settling in Dallas, Texas. It was during her years abroad when Wade’s passion for reading turned into a passion for writing. She published three historical romances for the general market then put her career on hold to care for her kids. When God called her back to writing, Wade knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction.

These days Wade can usually be found trying but failing to keep up with housework, carting her kids around town, playing tennis, hunched over her computer, or collapsed on the sofa watching TV with her husband.

Keep up with Becky Wade at www.beckywade.com, on Facebook (authorbeckywade) or by following her on Twitter (beckywadewriter) or Pinterest (beckywadewriter).

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Posted 5/6/15 at 10:41 AM | Audra Jennings

No Separation of Distance is Beyond the Reach of Love

As Waters Gone By by Cynthia Ruchti
Abingdon Press

Every married couple has tensions they need to work through, but can a relationship survive hundreds of miles and endless yards of razor wire? The tenacity of God’s love and His longing to redeem broken people and their relationships are principles at the core of award-winning author Cynthia Ruchti’s new novel, As Waters Gone By (Abingdon Press/May 5, 2015/ISBN: 978-1426787270/$14.99). FULL POST

Posted 5/5/15 at 12:51 PM | Audra Jennings

The Amish and the Practice of Forgiveness

The Heart of the Amish by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Revell

Everyone has been hurt. Everyone experiences conflicts, great and small. Everyone has someone to forgive. In The Heart of the Amish: Life Lessons on Peacemaking and the Power of Forgiveness (Revell/May 5, 2015/ISBN: 978-0800722036/ $12.99), bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher reveals the lessons that the Amish teach about what to do when we just can't bring ourselves to forgive someone who has wronged us. FULL POST

Posted 5/4/15 at 12:30 PM | Audra Jennings

Book Tells Story of One Mennonite Family Struggling to Survive their Secrets

Kim Vogel Sawyer, author of When Grace Sings
Kim Vogel Sawyer

Bestselling author Kim Vogel Sawyer believes in the power of second chances — a theme she’s captured with poignant grace in her new book, When Grace Sings (WaterBrook Press/March 17, 2015/ISBN: 978-0307731333/ $14.99), which follows the CBA bestseller When Mercy Rains in The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy. Sawyer says the series is based on one simple truth: “God gives second chances. We as humans make our mistakes, we flounder and err and build walls that seem insurmountable,” Sawyer reveals. “When we confess our wrongdoings and ask God to redeem us, He brings restoration.” FULL POST

Posted 4/24/15 at 12:33 PM | Audra Jennings

What Daniel Can Teach Us About Living as Christians in Today's Culture

Dr. John C. Lennox
Dr. John C. Lennox

The concepts of tolerance and political correctness are having a chilling effect on the public practice of Christianity. That’s why readers will find Dr. John C. Lennox’s new book Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Monarch Books/March 27, 2015/ISBN: 978-0857216212/$19.99) incredibly timely. Lennox, who has defended the Christian faith in debates against the likes of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, gives every follower of Christ the intellectual foundation they will need to argue the role their faith should have in the public discourse.

While anyone who has spent time in a Sunday-school classroom is familiar with the biblical story of Daniel, Lennox mines this classic historical account to encourage cultural bravery in Christians trying to find their place in a postmodern society. The story of these four young men born in the tiny state of Judah around 500 B.C. and captured by Nebuchadnezzar, the emperor of Babylon, is one of extraordinary faith in God lived out at the pinnacle of executive power. The book of Daniel describes in detail how each of them eventually rose to senior positions of administration.

Q: You have studied and lectured on a number of different biblical topics – why did you choose to write Against the Flow about the biblical story of Daniel?

It is one of my favourite narratives in the Bible because it records the life of an individual who was prepared, even when he was given high office, to publicly stand up for God, despite being under immense pressure to renounce or privatize his beliefs. He didn't just maintain his private devotion to God, but a cutting-edge public witness which is much rarer.

Q: Why should every Christian be familiar with the themes found in the story of Daniel?

Much of the book is of direct relevance today. Babylon is the ancient version of our secular society, and Daniel and his friends were called upon to stand for their faith even though they were in a tiny cultural minority. They did this in the full glare of publicity rather than run away to form a ghetto. Their values were challenged – is there anything of absolute value or is everything merely relative? Are our religious beliefs just a result of our upbringing? What evidence is there that the supernatural realm exists? What do we do if God’s law clashes with human law? When is the status of humankind compared to animals? Do we live in a closed or open universe, and how ultimate are the laws of nature? Does the Bible have any predictive power? The real weight of many contemporary intellectual spiritual, moral and ethical questions come out clearly in Daniel’s remarkable book.

Q: Babylon, where Daniel was captive, was a hub for commerce, culture and education. How was this possible when it was built on false religions and moral ambiguity? What can modern Christians learn from this juxtaposition?

This was one of the questions that Daniel and his friends must have contemplated. Was the sheer scale and might of the city a sign of God’s favour or even a confirmation of the power that the Babylonian gods wielded? Yet, as the story shows, Babylon was built on very shaky and inadequate moral, spiritual and philosophical foundations as we see in Daniel’s analysis of the reasons for its ultimate demise.

Q: Why do you call the times in which we live a “modern Babylon?”

The city of Babylon is used throughout the Bible to describe a society that has turned away from God, indeed is founded on defiance of God basing its confidence on human ability and intellectual capacity to “make a name for itself.” Its ancient ziggurat was a forerunner of the modern skyscraper and all that such buildings symbolize. It was a powerful city within which a plurality of beliefs existed and the same kind of idols that its inhabitants worshipped (many of which were based on deifying the laws of nature) still predominate in society today (sex, greed, power, wealth, etc). Daniel, though he lived in Babylon didn't live for it. He, like Abraham, lived for a heavenly city which has true foundations and whose architect is God.

Against the Flow by Dr. John C. Lennox
Monarch Books

Q: Why do you think Daniel and his friends were able to rise to power in the midst of such a corrupt culture?

What is interesting about their rise to prominence is that they were not prepared to keep their faith in God a secret, which they could easily have done in order to save themselves. Instead, they deliberately stood up for their belief in the public sphere and, as a result, crucially, they were seen to be different (in a positive sense). Daniel was known for his “insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom” (Daniel 5:13). His life was such that his accusers were unable to find anything to charge him with (Daniel 6:4). He also showed immense courage to interpret the dream for Nebuchadnezzar, as the King had already threatened to execute his wise men for their inability to do so. Nebuchadnezzar’s promotion of Daniel was a result of Daniel’s obedience to God. Those that honour God, he honours.

Q: What should the focus be for Christians who have found themselves placed in positions of power and influence?

The focus of all Christians should be to live for God in whatever sphere of influence they are in. It is in our work environments that our faith in God is most likely to be tested. People in positions of power are under particular pressures. In one sense they have a great opportunity because of their influence, but in another they have a great responsibility, as well as much to lose. Yet these concerns were exactly the same for Daniel who provides an amazing model for us today, whether or not we are in positions of power.

Q: It would be hard to find a child who grew up in church who has not heard the story of Daniel in the lion’s den – but this is more than just a thrilling story – what does it tell us about the relationship between law and religion –specifically, the Jewish religion?

The genius of Daniel is that it shows how important law and legislation is. Once laws are passed they can be very difficult to overturn and it can be too late to protest about them. So in Daniel a central theme is about how we should focus on living under God’s law in a culture that is prepared to pass laws that discriminate against believers publicly expressing their faith.

Q: What has been the effect of political correctness on the public practice of the Christian faith? Could Daniel have identified with this?

There is a pressure in society to respect all different viewpoints and to keep our faith private, so we don’t ‘offend’ anyone. One problem with this is that it causes confusion about how to judge between different ideas (their truthfulness), for example, or right and wrong. In society we have relativized the absolute and yet we can’t live without absolutes, so we tend to do the opposite and treat as absolute what is merely of relative value – like money, power, status etc.

Q: You say in Against the Flow, that there is one point Richard Dawkins has made that you completely agree with. What is that point and what does it mean for Christians?

Dawkins is not a postmodernist, nor am I. We agree upon the fact that there is such a thing as truth that is independent of you and me. We agree that if someone makes a truth-claim, then you should be able to ask them what evidence they have for holding that viewpoint. Christians don’t have to be philosophers or academics, but they should be able to give reasons for the hope that they have (1 Peter 3:15). Yet this is not a one-sided thing, as the same must go for the naturalistic beliefs that most atheists hold.

Q: Why do you think our culture has accepted the idea that faith has little or no place in the public discourse?

A major reason for this is a misunderstanding of the word. The new atheists have helped to propagate the notion that faith is believing in something in the absence of evidence. This is an idiosyncratic and incorrect use of the word and is what is usually referred to as blind faith. My faith in Christ is evidence based – the main evidence being the resurrection in history and my own experience. It is also helpful to remember that faith is indispensable to science. No one would do any science if they did not believe = have faith in the fact that = science can be done.

Q: What is the proper place of Christianity in today’s postmodern society?

Although our culture is informed by postmodernism, most people believe in truth in one form or another and certainly in areas they consider important. There are several worldviews in our western culture today – naturalism and Christianity being two of them – and what I object to is atheistic naturalism being regarded de facto as the default world view. That is not the case – all worldviews ought to be free to enter discussion in the public space.

Q: Do you see the stand for righteousness in a wicked culture as being in competition with Christian compassion?

I wouldn't see the two as being in competition with each other, as the key is how we convey our faith to others. We must always communicate righteousness in a way that also conveys our compassion. This isn't always easy, which is why we have to ask God to help us in our conversations.

Q: You have debated well-known atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. What was one of your most challenging debate moments? Most rewarding?

The most challenging thing is probably after a debate, when you process what was said and what might have been said. The most rewarding part is hearing from those who have been helped by them, such as those who have subsequently become Christians or those whose faith has either been strengthened or revived by seeing the discussions. One of the motivations for doing them is that people are influenced by what public intellectuals say. It is not surprising that if Stephen Hawking says there is no God, people think “who am I to question him?”

Q: What is the single most important lesson for the Christian from the life of Daniel?

It is intended to be a clarion call to our generation to be courageous and to not to lose our nerve and allow the expression of our faith to be diluted or squeezed out of the public space, thus rending us spineless or ineffective. Hopefully it will help strengthen our resolve to swim against the flow, not only to put our heads above the parapet, but also to make sure in advance that our minds and hearts are prepared, so that we do not get blown away in the first salvo!

Learn more about John C. Lennox and Against the Flow at www.johnlennox.org or on Twitter (ProfJohnLennox).

Posted 4/20/15 at 10:47 AM |

Award-winning vocalist hopes new music project will help curb biblical illiteracy

According to a LifeWay Research study, only 45 percent of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week, and 18 percent of attenders say they never read the Bible. A Barna research study showed that 60% of Americans cannot name five of the ten commandments. Similar surveys have shown that scripture illiteracy is at an all-time high, and Telly Award winner and top 40 Billboard artist, Jennifer Shaw, hopes her new project will help alter the current trend. Shaw is releasing a children’s music project entitled Scripture Memory Songs for Kids and Families, which features 30 word-for-word scripture songs from the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. The NIV version is the second most popular version according to American Bible Society, surpassed only by the King James. The recording project also includes nine bonus Christian theme songs suitable for Vacation Bible School curriculums or for other kids-themed events. Shaw says the project has been eight years in the making. FULL POST

Posted 4/17/15 at 3:09 PM | Audra Jennings

Does Christianity Have a Place in Today’s World?

Against the Flow by Dr. John C. Lennox
Monarch Books

The concepts of tolerance and political correctness are having a chilling effect on the public practice of Christianity. That’s why readers will find Dr. John C. Lennox’s new book Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Monarch Books/March 27, 2015/ISBN: 978-0857216212/$19.99) incredibly timely. Lennox, who has defended the Christian faith in debates against the likes of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, gives every follower of Christ the intellectual foundation they will need to argue the role their faith should have in the public discourse.

While anyone who has spent time in a Sunday-school classroom is familiar with the biblical story of Daniel, Lennox mines this classic historical account to encourage cultural bravery in Christians trying to find their place in a postmodern society. The story of these four young men born in the tiny state of Judah around 500 B.C. and captured by Nebuchadnezzar, the emperor of Babylon, is one of extraordinary faith in God lived out at the pinnacle of executive power. The book of Daniel describes in detail how each of them eventually rose to senior positions of administration.

Yet despite their lucrative positions, Daniel and his friends were not content simply to maintain their private devotion to God. Instead they maintained a high-profile witness in a pluralistic society that was highly antagonistic to their faith, and they would eventually be forced to face the possibility of paying the ultimate price for their religious bravery. Lennox proposes their story carries a powerful message for us today as Christians living in a society that tolerates the practice of Christianity in private homes and in church services, but increasingly deprecates and in some cases even punishes public witness.

“Strong currents of pluralism and secularism in contemporary Western society, reinforced by a paralyzing political correctness, increasingly push expression of faith in God to the margins, confining it if possible to the private sphere,” Lennox says. “It is becoming less and less the ‘done thing’ to mention God in public, let alone to confess to believing in anything exclusive and absolute, such as the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Son of God and Savior.” Lennox believes if Daniel and his compatriots were with us today they would be in the vanguard of public debate.

Against the Flow is a truly fascinating examination of the life of Daniel from a leading expert on faith and science. In his first biblical work, Dr. Lennox provides a unique perspective on both Western society and biblical exegesis that will make Against the Flow an instant classic encouraging Christians to speak out in our modern Babylon.

Learn more about John C. Lennox and Against the Flow at www.johnlennox.org or on Twitter (ProfJohnLennox).

About the Author

Dr. John C. Lennox
Dr. John C. Lennox

Dr. John C. Lennox is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College. He studied at the Royal School Armagh, Northern Ireland, and was Exhibitioner and Senior Scholar at Emmanuel College, Cambridge University from which he took his MA, MMath and PhD. He also holds an MA and DPhil from Oxford University and an MA in Bioethics from the University of Surrey.

Lennox lectures on faith and science for the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and has traveled throughout North America, Eastern and Western Europe and Australasia lecturing on mathematics, the philosophy of science and the intellectual defense of Christianity. He has debated Richard Dawkins at the University of Alabama (2007) and the Oxford Museum of Natural History (2008), as well as Christopher Hitchens at the Edinburgh Festival (2008) and at Samford University (2010), among others.

Lennox’s hobbies include amateur astronomy, bird-watching and walking. He and his wife, Sally, have three grown children and seven grandchildren. They make their home near Oxford.

Keep up with John C. Lennox and read more about Against the Flow at www.johnlennox.org or on Twitter (ProfJohnLennox).

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