Food for the Soul

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Posted 9/2/15 at 1:47 PM |

New Fiction Novel Inspired by Modern-day Miracle

Pastor, counselor and author Bruce S. Campbell has penned a new novel that was inspired by a modern-day miracle. The Beginning: Prelude to the Apocalypse (Carpenter’s Son Publishing/STL Distribution) came about after Campbell’s church had begun a season of miraculous healings.

“I was the pastor of a church and we had a woman who was dying of cancer,” says Campbell, who received his Master’s Degree in Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. “The doctors had given her little hope and basically, sent her home to die. We laid hands on her and prayed for a complete recovery. A couple of weeks later, she was told there was an experimental treatment so she went to the hospital for tests. That day her son called me in tears, and I thought she had passed away. What he told me was that the doctors could no longer locate the cancer at all. It was completely gone. This sent shock waves through our church, and we began to see God move in miraculous ways. My associate pastor and I began to talk about how the New Testament was coming alive before us, and we began to discuss biblical characters. We started talking about the two witnesses in Revelation – who they would be, what they would say, will they be just regular guys – and that was the germination of the idea behind the book. What will the two witnesses tell us when they arrive? And are they already here?” FULL POST

Posted 9/2/15 at 1:01 PM | Audra Jennings

New Book Teaches Preschoolers the Lord’s Prayer

Let's Learn about the Lord's Prayer
David C Cook

This fall, David C Cook is launching a new series for toddlers and preschoolers that combines word and song to help young children memorize scripture. The first book in the HeartSmart series, Lets Learn about the Lords Prayer (September 1, 2015/ISBN:978-0781412698/$10.99) by bestselling author Catherine DeVries,not only introduces children to Bible memory, but teaches them about how to pray.

In this vibrant, colorful board book illustrated by Ryan Jackson, DeVries introduces Emma, a preschooler who welcomes readers at the front door and invites them in for a special playdate. Upstairs they meet Blueberry, Emma’s favorite teddy bear. The two show readers all the fun toys in Emma’s room before heading downstairs for snack time. As they sit down in the kitchen and get ready to pray before eating, Emma shares with readers she has been learning about the Lord’s Prayer.

Emma quotes each line of the prayer and explains every part in a way preschoolers can understand. As Emma’s mom taught her, children will learn “this whole world belongs to God. Everything we do is for God’s glory, which is like a big celebration that shows Him how amazing we think He is.” Children will then head back to Emma’s room, where they teach the Lord’s Prayer to Blueberry. The entire prayer appears at the back of this delightful book, along with an access code to a whimsical song that will help them learn it.

Let’s Learn about the Lord’s Prayer and all the coming HeartSmart releases will offer parents the opportunity to infuse their homes with God’s Word. By using these charming books, moms and dads will be equipped with a clear spiritual formation path for building in their child a strong foundation of faith based on key Scriptures. Through engaging and playful stories about children their own age, young people will be captivated by the colorful illustrations and inspired to hide God’s Word in their hearts through repetition and song — two prescriptions for memorization.

Learn more about Let’s Learn about the Lord’s Prayer and the HeartSmart series at HeartSmart.DavidCCook.com.

About the Author

Catherine DeVries, author of Let's Learn About the Lord's Prayer
Catherine DeVries

Catherine DeVries has written 20 books for children, including the bestselling The Adventure Bible Storybook. As associate publisher of Children’s Resources at David C Cook, she leads product development for The Action Bible collection, which has sold more than 1 million copies.

She is a graduate of Calvin College who has won Retailer’s Choice awards in 2000, 2009 and 2010, as well as a Gold Medallion award in 2008, among others. She also serves on the board of the Tween Gospel Alliance. Catherine lives with her husband, their three children and big furry dog in the Colorado forest.

Posted 9/1/15 at 2:45 PM | Audra Jennings

The Ultimate Blueprint for Passing Your Faith on to Your Children

Pass it On by Jim Burns and Jeremy Lee
David C Cook

Research and experience both support the truth that parents are the single most important factor in determining a child’s view of God and whether or not faith will become a cornerstone of his or her adult life. Although it is a great responsibility, moms and dads need not panic at the daunting thought. In Pass It On: Building a Legacy of Faith for Your Children through Practical and Memorable Experiences (David C Cook/ September 1, 2015/ISBN:978-1434709073/$15.99),HomeWord president Jim Burns and ParentMinistry.net founder Jeremy Lee give parents a year-by-year plan for sharing rites of passage that will set the foundation for their child’s faith.

Pass It On draws its inspiration from Deuteronomy chapter 6:4-9. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (verses 5-7, NIV). This short passage provides God’s blueprint for the successful transmission of faith from one generation to the next. Encouraging parents to step boldly into their roles as the spiritual leaders in their home, Pass it On shows them how to invite their children with them on a journey of discovering their faith.

Clearly outlining annual, experiential, age-specific rites of passage,this book makes it easy to reinforce the values that will form the foundation of a young person’s spiritual life. And it’s never too soon or too late to begin. Whether it’s the generosity rite in kindergarten, where youngsters participate in a service project, or the manhood/womanhood ceremony for high school seniors, Pass it On is filled with practical ideas for parents. It includes specific information to share at each event, gifts or contracts to present, questions to ask and stories of others’ experiences for inspiration.

Asking moms and dads to think generationally, Burns and Lee remind readers the work they’re doing isn’t just for their own children, but for their grandchildren, great-grandchildren and beyond.

“The Bible teaches that we inherit consequences — good and bad — from previous generations of our families, even to the third and fourth generations,” Burns points out. “The choices, traditions and teachings we offer our children will affect not only them but also their children. The spiritual riches we might pass on far outweigh the value of any earthly inheritance — spiritual legacies remain for generations.”

Ultimately, Pass it On calls parents to the bold act of changing the trajectory of their family’s faith legacy for generations to come.


About the Authors

Jim Burns, author of Pass it On
Mark Jordan Photography

Jim Burns is a renowned youth and family expert, acclaimed author and founder of the HomeWord radio program that reaches more than 1 million people across the country every day. He is president of HomeWord and executive director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University, a research and training institute offering biblically based resources for parents and youth. Under Burns, the center has become the largest provider of Christian parenting and youth seminars in the United States.

Burns speaks to thousands annually at leadership, marriage and parenting events around the world. He has more than 1.5 million resources in print in more than 25 languages. Burns is a three-time Gold Medallion Award-winning author and has written books for parents, youth workers and students, including: Faith Conversations for Families, Teenology: The Art of Raising Great Teenagers, Closer: 52 Devotions to Draw Couples Together, Confident Parenting, The Purity Code and Creating an Intimate Marriage. Most recently, he co-authored a premarital resource with Doug Fields called Getting Ready for Marriage: A Practical Roadmap for Your Journey Together that has an accompanying workbook and online app.

Burns, his wife, Cathy, and their three daughters, Christy, Rebecca and Heidi, live in southern California.

Connect with Jim Burns at www.homeword.com, or follow him on Facebook (Homeword) or Twitter (@drjimburns).

Jeremy Lee, author of Pass it On
Brandon Wood

Jeremy Lee is the founder of ParentMinistry.net, a subscription-based service for children and youth ministry workers. He was on the writing team for the Simple Truth Bible from Group Publishing and the Ignite Study Bible from Thomas Nelson Publishers. Jeremy lives in Nashville with his wife and children.

To keep up with Jeremy Lee, visit his website or follow him on Facebook (yojeremylee) or Twitter (@yojeremylee).

Posted 8/13/15 at 2:31 PM | Audra Jennings

Sharing Your Faith Should Not Be a Daunting Task

Part 1 of an interview with Rob Peabody, Executive Producer and Host of

Intersect: Where Your Story and God’s Story Converge

Rob Peabody
Rob Peabody

Let’s face it: Opening up to the people we love most about the most important issues in life — such as faith — can be tough. Whether it’s embarrassment or misunderstanding, the fear of rejection can keep our lips sealed, thus keeping our unsaved loved ones lost in the dark. This is why Rob Peabody and Cris Rogers created Intersect: Where Your Story and God’s Story Converge (Kregel Publications/July 27, 2015/$15.99),a five-week short film resource designed to help Christians engage their family, friends and neighbors in a meaningful way about their faith. Whether used in a café, a friend’s living room or a more formal church setting, the video series can be tailored to a variety of audiences.

Q: Tell us about the Intersect DVD series. Who was it created for, and what is the best way for it to be used?

Intersect is a five-week short film resource designed to be a missional tool to help those in the church engage those who might not yet be ready to step foot inside its walls and begin spiritual conversations centered on Jesus. It was created with a desire to enable people to have spiritual conversations with their friends, co-workers, family, neighbors and others, regardless of their church history or familiarity with God and church.

Often I find many in our churches agree that talking about Jesus and engaging in evangelism is a good thing they want to be a part of; however, they feel ill-equipped and apathetic when it comes to doing it. Intersect is a tool to help start the conversation — to put the “ball on the tee,” to borrow a golf analogy. We are finding Intersect is best used amongst a group of friends, whether in a café, friend’s house, church group, with co-workers on a coffee break, or more formal environment. It doesn’t take long, and the conversation it lends itself to can be tailored to your specific audience.

Q: What are you trying to achieve with Intersect?

We wanted to create a tool anyone could use to facilitate a conversation about things of greater importance.

It’s called Intersect because the basic premise of the series is to hear from five normal people about their struggles, issues and journeys in regard to basic universal human issues we all deal with (rest, control, expectations, disappointment and trust). The viewer can relate to how they deal with these issues in their own lives, and then we talk about what God has to say about these issues. We intentionally tried to stay away from being preachy, and we carefully crafted how the issues were presented, working under the assumption that the viewer may not know anything about the Christian subculture. We wanted to avoid the “Christianese” we so often hear from regular churchgoers and church leaders.

We also wanted to make Intersect as authentic as possible, starting with everyday issues we all deal with, and explore how the greater story of God connects to our lives on a practical level.

Q: The series features the faith journeys of five Christians. Why did you choose to use individual stories as the centerpiece of the series?

We all have a story. There has never been a person on the planet who did not have one. Our stories give us significance. They are what connect us to the past, the present and the future. In fact, our stories make us who we are. The beauty of each person’s individual story is that although they are completely unique, our stories can relate and intersect. When this happens, the result is life-giving. When you connect with someone’s story, it may bring validation, hope, assurance, comfort, meaning and a whole gamut of other emotions. The truest beauty, though, is when elements of a shared story amongst people also connect to the bigger story of God. What I love about God’s story — his grand meta-narrative we see played out through Scripture and our world today — is that it is designed to incorporate and converge with every individual story in humanity. It’s the way God set it up. It’s the way our true humanity is realized.

In Intersect we wanted to celebrate this truth and lead with a story. In a day and age where truth is debated and experience reigns supreme, our stories speak volumes. You might feel like you have nothing to offer, but you have a story, and there is a God and a people who want to merge into and share that story.

Intersect by Rob Peabody and Cris Rogers
Kregel Publications
Intersect DVD series, by Rob Peabody and Cris Rogers

Q: Some people view the Bible as being abstract or symbolic. How can a person purposefully move to seeing God’s Word as a practical guide for their everyday life?

Hebrews 4:12 tells us the Bible is “living and active” and it is sharp and penetrates deep down to the thoughts and attitudes of a person’s heart. This sounds pretty personal to me. There are all sorts of different genres, writing styles, symbolism and writing techniques used throughout all 66 books of the Bible. It’s quite a complex book written by multiple authors over a period of thousands of years. At the end of the day, though, if God’s revelation of Himself, humanity and reality does not impact and intimately work in and through us, all it is to us is a great historical account. We must develop a practice of purposefully engaging with God through His Spirit and His Word if we are to understand and become more like God. God is after our hearts, not our head knowledge, and it is only by wrestling with the heart of God as revealed to us in the Bible and practically applying what we learn that we can ever get on the same page with Him.

Q: How can unmet expectations derail our spiritual journey?

I would say unmet expectations are the cause of all of our disappointments. We all have expectations, whether articulated or not, and these help guide how we behave, interact and process relationships and situations we move throughout daily. For those of us who are married, you know exactly what I am talking about! Often when our expectations are not met, we need someone or something to put the blame on . . . and quite often the easiest person to put this on is God. God is not a “cosmic vending machine” or “universal police officer” looking to reward good behavior and punish bad. We shouldn’t pray in order to get what we want because when things in your life are not going the way you had expected, you end up having a problem with God. Your spiritual journey gets derailed because you have failed to have an accurate perception of God in the first place. It all comes back to the view we have of God. And this view can only be accurately painted in our hearts and minds if we have looked to God’s revelation of Himself appropriately.

Q: What does the rest that God promises look like on a practical level in our lives?

Rest is an interesting concept. Rest can be taking a nap, ‘“unplugging” for a bit of time, going on a vacation or even spending a nice night in with a loved one. The most interesting thing, though, is that although you may be in a physical posture of rest (lying down, relaxing, etc.) your mind and soul can still be at work. Perhaps you have decided to lie down on a Sunday afternoon or are watching golf on television (prime sleep conditions!), and although you have the pillows and blanket, your mind is racing about that issue you cannot seem to resolve. Sleepless nights and anxious moments are often due to the fact we do not have this “soul rest” that is referred to by Jesus in the Bible. Jesus promises true rest for the believer — a soul or heart rest — that can be achieved no matter what the outside conditions are or what situations are demanding from us. In fact, Hebrews tells us that entering into God’s rest not only secures our eternal destiny with Him but provides a peace or a rightness in the life we currently live. Jesus is the bringer of this rest. It is by Him, to Him and through Him we can truly rest in a world that never stops.

Q: What is your ultimate hope for those who complete the Intersect DVD series?

My dream is that Intersect would be used to start conversations of significance centered on the Gospel in a day where it is so easy to remain superficial and safe in the depth of conversation we conduct.

My hope for individuals who complete Intersect is that they would take their next step with Jesus, whatever that may be. For some, that will be contemplating and beginning to explore the things of God for the very first time. For others it will be re-imagining what their relationship with Him could become, and for others still it might be using Intersect to lead others to explore their relationship with God in a new and fresh way.

I also hope Intersect will give those of us in the church a tool to begin sharing our faith with those outside the walls of the church. We’ve done all the heavy lifting for you; now all you have to do is push play and be open to having a conversation. My prayer is this would be a tool that helps to empower normal believers to make a difference in someone else’s life as they walk in obedience for the Kingdom of God.

For more information about Rob Peabody, visit AwakenMovement.com, like the Awaken Movement on Facebook (awakenmovement) or follow Rob on Twitter (@AwakenRob and @awakenmovement).

Posted 8/11/15 at 8:27 AM | Audra Jennings

Laurie A. Coombs writes that forgiveness is a journey

Laurie A. Coombs, author of Letters from My Father's Murderer
Laurie A. Coombs

If you asked anyone who knew Laurie A. Coombs, they would tell you what an incredibly strong person she was — the kind of person who can make it through anything. As Coombs details in her new memoir, Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness(Kregel/June 27, 2015/ISBN: 978-0825442292/$14.99), that outward veneer of strength masked a crumbling interior.

Q: Almost immediately after learning about your fathers death, you say the hate for his killer began to fill your heart. How did that hatred affect you?

My hatred affected just about everything I thought and did at first. Anger quite literally consumed me. But then after several months, I chose to lay aside my anger and my grief. I knew my dad wouldn’t have wanted me to live like that, so I deliberately chose to put the whole terrible thing behind me and move on.

I didn’t see the affects of anger on the surface after that, and I honestly thought I had worked through it. In reality, I had simply unintentionally buried it. For years, that anger festered in my heart and turned into bitterness without me even knowing it until the day God brought it to my attention nine years after the murder.

Q: What was it like for you to return to college and complete your daily classes and tasks after such a life-altering event?

Oh, that was hard. Nothing was the same after the murder. It all seemed pointless. The way I viewed just about everything had changed. My entire life had shifted in one moment, yet I knew I had to move on. I didn’t want to. I wanted to escape my life and pretend like nothing had happened. But I knew I couldn’t just stop doing life. I had to press on. I didn’t see any other choice, so I just sort of did it.

Q: How did this experience change how you view the attitude toward violence in the media?

Initially, I couldn’t do the things I did before the murder. I stopped watching TV, I turned off the news, I carefully screened movies to protect myself from seeing any type of violence, and of course, the rap music I once listened to was definitely out. Honestly, I just couldn’t take it. All around me, throughout most of our culture, I saw an unhealthy fascination with murder. Rappers glorifying it. Television shows depicting it to boost ratings. Movies using it to entice audiences. Kids running around, saying, “I’m going to kill you!” like it’s no big thing. We have murder-mystery dinner parties. Murder-mystery board games. True crime TV shows. We’re glorifying it. Sensationalizing it. Because, after all, murder sells, right?

Seeing murder elevated to entertainment sickened me, to be honest. I just wanted to scream, “This is not a game, people!” Murder is real. Murder is horrific. It is not entertainment. It is not something we should have this unhealthy fascination with. It’s murder. Real people exist behind each and every murder. Real victims. Real families left behind. Murder is not a game. And it is certainly not something to be glorified.

Q: You began to build a lovely life with your family in the years following the trial, and appeared very strong. What happened that finally brought you to the point where you turned to the Lord?

I fell apart. I did. God presented me with something I couldn’t fix. It was anxiety and depression that finally brought me to my knees, and for the first time in my life, I couldn’t fix myself. I couldn’t pull myself up by my bootstraps, so to speak, as I had many times before. I had fallen into such an incredibly dark place, and I was scared. I tried everything the world tells you to do in a situation like that, but nothing worked. As a last resort, I found my way to church.

Q: What were some of the little daily miracles and occurrences that drew you to Jesus when you started seeking Him?

My family and I willingly walked through those church doors with an incredible sense of desperation. God was truly my last hope, but even though I desperately wanted Him to be the answer, I was highly skeptical He would be. You see, I didn’t believe in God. I was a skeptic — a scoffer, even. At the time, I didn’t think proof of God’s existence was even possible, and I certainly didn’t want to be one of those “blind faith suckers.” But as I sat there listening to the pastor preach, it was as if I was the only one in the room. The message spoke to where I was in that exact moment, and I thought, The sheer probability of that alone is crazy.

The concept of God speaking to man was foreign to me, but having that pastor preach a message to my inner thoughts got my attention. It was enough to draw me back the next week and the week after that and the one after that, and each time I fully expected the God-thing to be a fluke. But it wasn’t. Over and over again, God showed Himself to me in many ways, and I was given the proof I needed to believe.

Letters From My Father's Murderer by Laurie A. Coombs
Kregel

Q: You prayed a prayer at the beginning of your forgiveness journey. Tell us about that and how it was answered.

At the beginning of this whole thing, the only way I knew how to love my enemy was to pray for him — so I did. I prayed good things for him, though it was counterintuitive to everything I was feeling. I prayed God would change him. I prayed God would heal him. I prayed God would bring him to complete repentance. And I even prayed he would be transformed by the gospel to the extent that he would be motivated to live to the glory of God in prison, bringing many prisoners to know and serve Jesus. It was a pipe-dream prayer, I thought. I mean, I knew God could do it, but I honestly didn’t think He would. But then He did.

After I forgave, God brought him to his knees. All the blame-shifting, all the justification stopped. He began taking complete responsibility for what he had done, and he was repentant. Ever since that time, I have witnessed this man share the gospel of Jesus Christ subtly yet powerfully with his fellow inmates. Lives are changing in there. He truly is living to the glory of God in that prison.

Q: Why do people often feel like forgiving someone means that person got awaywith the wrong they committed?

I think a lot of people mistakenly think forgiving someone is saying what they did was OK, but it’s not. What that person did will never be OK. God does not take sin lightly, and neither should we. But God does call us to forgive. Forgiveness is not letting the person off the hook. It’s giving that person to God. It’s stepping down from the judgment seat, allowing God to take His rightful place as judge. God does not take sin lightly. Romans 12:19 says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’” Justice will be served. Our sins will be paid for one way or another, either by Jesus on the cross or by us.

Q: What is at the heart of the message you share in your book?

Hope is at the heart of my message. God truly has worked all things for good in my life. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” The first part of Genesis 50:20 says, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” God brings good out of evil. Love out of hate. Peace out of despair. I believe it is His desire to do this for every one of us. You see, our pain won’t be wasted. We don’t have to sit in it. If we bring our pain, past and present, to God, He will redeem it.

Q: What do you mean when you say your pain wont be wasted?

We all have wounds. Every one of us. My pain is no more valid than yours. I believe pain is pain, regardless of its cause. But here’s the thing: Jesus came that we might have life. Life to the full. He came to bind the brokenhearted. To proclaim freedom to the captives. To release prisoners from their darkness. To comfort all who mourn. To bestow a crown of beauty instead of ashes. In short, He came to redeem. To make us new.

Jesus once said we will have troubles in this life, “But,” He said, “take heart for I have overcome the world.” Troubles will come, pain will be felt, but our troubles and pain are not without purpose. God uses everything. Nothing goes to waste. If He allows something to take place, it is because He has a plan for it. There is absolutely nothing we can endure that won’t be used by God.

Q: There are people who believe they will never be able to forgive people who have hurt them. What would you say to them?

I would tell them they’re right. They can’t forgive the person who hurt them on their own. I had tried to will myself into a place of forgiveness and healing for more than a decade, only to fall to bitterness and anxiety and depression. Until we come to God for help, until we lay ourselves down before Him and are willing to do whatever it takes to forgive, we won’t be able to do it. True forgiveness is only possible by the grace of God.

Q: You chose to begin Letters from My Fathers Murderer with Romans 13:12, which says: The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Tell us about the significance of that Scripture to you.

I was in such darkness before I came to Jesus, and as I came to faith, it honestly felt like I had been plucked out of a deep dark pit. The light of God shone in my life, and I felt alive, truly alive, for the first time in my life. Darkness flees in the presence of light, and to me, Romans 13:12 is a picture of salvation. It’s a picture of what happened to me and what I hope happens to every one of us.

After coming to faith and experiencing all I did throughout my correspondence with the man who murdered my dad, I finally felt free. The darkness of my past was in the past. I had cast off my sin and sins others committed against me and had put on the armor of light, which is Christ.

Learn more about Laurie Coombs and Letters From My Fathers Murderer at www.lauriecoombs.org and on Facebook (lauriecoombs), Twitter (lauriecoombs) and Pinterest (laurieacoombs).

Posted 8/7/15 at 2:31 PM | Audra Jennings

Cynthia Ruchti Reminds Us God Can Make Beauty From Our Brokenness

An interview with Cynthia Ruchti,

 Author of Tattered and Mended

Cynthia Ruchti, author of Tattered and Mended
Cynthia Ruchti

For anyone who has been battered and bruised by the storms of life, award-winning author Cynthia Ruchti has penned her new book, Tattered and Mended: the Art of Healing the Wounded Soul (Abingdon Press/July 7, 2015/ISBN: 978-1426787690 / $15.99). We all have moments when we feel shattered, wounded and needing to piece together the broken pieces of our hearts and lives.

Q: For whom did you write your new book, Tattered and Mended?

Tattered and Mended was written for all who have been broken and shattered, either by life’s circumstances or at the hand of others, and have lost hope that they could ever claw their way back to wholeness. It’s for those who believe the best they can hope for is simply to be patched together. Yet the truth is God takes the tattered and shattered and makes art of those shards, those frayed threads.

Q: You say when you sat down to write Tattered and Mended one premise filled your heart. Can you share with us what it was?

People are tattered. The world says, “Then let’s make tattered fashionable,” but God invites us to mend.

Q: Why did you choose to use fabric as an allegory throughout the book?

Fabric is one of the primary examples used in the book, but I also used several other examples across the spectrum of art — paintings, doll-making, fiber crafts, pottery, sculpting, metalwork, jewelry-making — that show us how something that looks beyond hope can become not only useful again, but stronger and valuable in new ways.

Q: Is there a formula or prescription for finding healing in Tattered and Mended?

Formulas sound nice on paper, but each individual’s pain is unique, making a one-size-fits-all prescription nearly impossible. Certainly there are principles we can apply, habits we can adopt and perspectives that aid us as we heal and mend. Just as a master artist addresses each canvas as a fresh opportunity for creating, God bends over us knowing what we need, knowing the amount of pressure we can bear, seeing what even we can’t see and applying His creative imagination coupled with deep compassion as He works.

The key is submitting to the process. He longs to heal. He specializes in mending and invites us to the mending table. Our responsibility is to allow Him to work as only He can.

Q: You write about the practice of sashiko (sah-SHEE-koh) and other decorative mending techniques. What do these practices symbolize to you?

I’ve filled a Pinterest board with examples of the creativity others have used to patch frayed hems or cuffs, patch holes in the knees of jeans, use broken china in jewelry, and practice the Japanese sashiko and boro mending stitches. Those delicate, precise, careful stitches from hundreds of years ago were meant to strengthen weak fabric on common items like a fishing coat or a pauper’s jacket. Now they hang in museums, admired by people like you and me who marvel at their workmanship and the beauty. Precision by the artisan created artwork from a mundane mending task. I’m overwhelmed by the comparisons here to how the process of our soul mending doesn’t always feel good — sometimes like a thousand pinpricks — and it often takes longer than we think it should. However, the end result can be an encouragement to someone else, possibly many years later.

Q: Humans try to heal themselves by slapping a bandage on the wound. How does God heal differently?

He does nothing carelessly or unintentionally. We can search diligently and not find a place in His Word where He decides, “Eh, that’s good enough.” He’s a God of excellence, trustworthiness and thoughtfulness. We can look to creation for confirmation that He is a master at details. He doesn’t settle for utilitarian purpose only. He goes beyond workable to beautiful.

Q: Why do you think many people remain in a broken state?

Some of us have come to expect too little. We think we don’t deserve anything more than where we now stand in the healing process. On the other hand, we may expect too much, growing bitter if the mending doesn’t happen as quickly as we imagine, in the way we imagine or with the results we envision. That bitterness is counterproductive to the healing we need and creates self-imposed setbacks.

Still others are broken and don’t yet know God cares they are hurting. They don’t yet know they’re mendable. I ache for them.

Q: Tell us about a time in your life when you felt tattered and in need of mending.

In Tattered and Mended, I mention a period of time that brought me to my knees — or even lower than that. When Lyme disease was a fairly “new” disease, as far as the general public was concerned, I had the dubious honor of being one of the first in my area of Wisconsin to contract it. It crept in stealthily, one symptom at a time. It was a year and a half before we knew what was causing the relentless headaches, heart-rhythm problems, debilitating pain in joints and muscles and a dozen other symptoms. I had young children, a ministry that taxed my energies and an at-that-time unknown disease that raged through my body. It reduced me to a lump of fatigue, uncertainty, concern and an emotional drain that left me shredded. I plowed through because I had no other choice and because I’d learned God is faithful and capable even when our strength is completely gone.

Tattered and Mended by Cynthia Ruchti
Abingdon Press

Q: What can we learn about healing from the miracles Jesus performed while He was here on earth?

We could talk about that for a long time and not exhaust the topic. The thoughts that come instantly to my mind are these:

  • He never performed a half-miracle. He always brought complete healing. Leprous skin as smooth as a newborn’s. Full sight. Not just the lame walking, but dancing. He anticipates the need and the side effects for others when we emerge fully mended.
  • He used an incredibly wide variety of methods to heal. Why should we expect our mending to look just like someone else’s?
  • He seems to delight in tackling what others find impossible. He finds nothing intimidating, not even emotional or physical traumas that would send others fleeing. Our tatters are not beyond His abilities.

Q: Many people don’t find wholeness because they can’t let go of hurt and resentment. Why is forgiveness so closely tied to emotional freedom?

Unforgiveness keeps us trapped in a state that is not a great environment for healing. Wounds can’t heal well in unsanitary conditions. Unforgiveness is spiritually unsanitary, and while it may seem natural, it isn’t healthy.

Q: How do you hope this book will offer strength and hope to those who are going through a difficult circumstance?

It’s one thing to believe God can make us better on a soul-deep level. It’s another to understand His intention is to make artwork from our messes and distresses. Like a master artist, He takes broken bits and frayed threads and mends us so thoroughly we can’t unravel, and the result is a thing of beauty.

Q: What do you mean when you say you’re an “observer-writer”?

Some write as experts on their subject of choice. I write from a place of listening and observing, then I attempt to express what others feel but can’t find a way to put into words.

Q: What is the significance of the phrase “hemmed in hope”?

Everything I write, fiction or nonfiction, has hope at its core. Jesus came because of our need for hope. It’s my prayer readers will close the books I write or leave a speaking event or even a private conversation they’ve had with me with renewed confidence, embracing the message, “I can’t unravel. I’m hemmed in hope.”

To keep up with Cynthia Ruchti, visit www.cynthiaruchti.com. You can also become a fan on Facebook (Cynthia Ruchti) or follow her on Twitter (@cynthiaruchti).

Posted 8/5/15 at 4:31 PM |

Proceeds of sales of new Christian fiction novel will help victims of human trafficking in U.S. and overseas

Author Ryan Mix in Iraq

Rossling Publishers has announced that a portion of proceeds of sales of the new fiction novel, The Academy will help fight human trafficking both here in the states and abroad. Co-author Ryan Mix just returned from Iraq where he served as videographer for an upcoming documentary on the human trafficking that is being conducted by ISIS, which is now the largest buyer and seller of human beings in the world.

“My trip to Iraq was an eye-opening experience about the devastation human beings can inflict on one another,” says Mix. “We traveled with a well-organized and trained security team comprised of former U.S. Navy SEALS, Army Rangers and intelligence agents watching our movements. Our main objective was to interview and capture stories of refugees who have escaped from ISIS, specifically those who were taken for sex-trade. With their stories, we will be able to clearly illustrate to the world what is really going on and how people can help. ISIS makes over one million dollars per day through human trafficking, making it one of their largest revenue streams. As they overtake a village, they kill all the men who do not convert to Islam, and kidnap women and girls who they can enslave to do domestic chores or to sell for sex.” FULL POST

Posted 8/4/15 at 3:51 PM | Audra Jennings

Sarah Sundin Launches New World War II Series Rich in Historical Detail

Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin
Revell

With the first book in her new Waves of Freedom series, Through Waters Deep (Revell/August 4, 2015/ISBN: 978-0800723422 /$14.99), Sarah Sundin transports readers back to the 1940s — a fascinating time when ordinary men learned they could do extraordinary things and women explored new roles while still remaining ladies. It’s an era Sundin enjoys living in while she weaves her stories. “When we read of how people in the 1940s prevailed in times of uncertainty, fear and danger, it gives us hope we can prevail today, no matter what we face,” Sundin explains.

Described by Booklist as “an optimal hybrid of 1940s crime and romance,” Through Waters Deep takes readers through the tense months right before the U.S. entered World War II. There they’ll encounter German U-boats and torpedoes, along with the explosive power of true love.

In 1941, as America teeters on the brink of war in the months before Pearl Harbor, outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the U.S.S. Atwood. Back on shore, his old high school friend, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling, does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet despite her reserved nature, Mary never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find many new challenges — and dangers — await them.

Sundin is known for finding inspiration for her stories from the Bible, but Scripture found its way into this tale in a different way. “Verses emerged when I wrote the story,” Sundin admits. “For Mary Stirling, who struggles with fears of attention and failure, her theme verse is Matthew 5:15-16: ‘Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’ Mary learns that using your gifts isn’t prideful when you do it to call attention to God, not to yourself.”

Sundin launches her new Waves of Freedom series with a title she hopes will encourage her readers to hoist their sails with renewed confidence in who they are in Christ. Using sailing as a metaphor in Through Waters Deep, Sundin illustrates how in order to fly with the wind, ultimately we need to let the Lord fill our sails and resist the current any time it threatens to get us off course.

Readers can expect to be swept away by the Waves of Freedom titles and can look forward to the next installment, Anchor in the Storm, in summer 2016.

About the Author

Sarah Sundin, author of Through Waters Deep
Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin is the author of The Wings of the Nightingale series and Wings of Glory series. Her novella “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in Where Treetops Glisten is a 2015 finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Awards. On Distant Shores was a finalist for the 2014 Golden Scroll Award from both the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA) and the Christian Authors Network (CAN). In 2011, Sundin received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Sundin just launched her new World War II series, Waves of Freedom, with Through Waters Deep. Anchor in the Storm is expected to release in summer 2016.

A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, Sundin works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy, and her great-uncle flew with the U.S. Eighth Air Force in England.

A mother of three, Sundin lives in California, where she teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies. She also enjoys speaking for community and writers’ groups.

Learn more about Sarah Sundin and Through Waters Deep by visiting www.sarahsundin.com, becoming a fan on Facebook (SarahSundinAuthor) or following her on Twitter (@sarahsundin) and Pinterest (sarahsundin).

Posted 7/30/15 at 1:55 PM | Audra Jennings

Beth K. Vogt Explores How God’s Best Often Comes Disguised as a Second Chance

An interview with Beth K. Vogt,

Author of Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Beth K. Vogt author of Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Beth K. Vogt

Marriage is serious business — both for the couple tying the knot and for wedding vendors, with the average cost of an American wedding topping $25,000. As budgets get stretched, so can fraying nerves and already-taut emotions, as captured in Beth K. Vogt’s new Destination Wedding series.

In the first novel in the series, Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Howard Books/June 30, 2015/ISBN: 978-1476789781/$14.99), paramedic Vanessa Hollister thinks she has moved beyond the pain of her first marriage — a “what-were-you-thinking” teenage elopement — and is planning an elegant destination wedding in Destin, Fla., with her new fiancé. Her dream of an idyllic beach wedding is disrupted, though, with the sudden reappearance of her first husband.

Q: Crazy Little Thing Called Love is the first book in your new Destination Wedding Series. Tell us a little about where the idea came from and what you’re most excited about for this new series.

I discussed the idea of writing a series with my mentor and friend, author Rachel Hauck, as well as my agent, Rachelle Gardner. I was thrilled Howard Books liked the idea of the Destination Wedding series. So often in contemporary romance novels, the wedding comes at the end of the novel — often as an epilogue. In this series, the wedding is a main plot point. And travel — well, so many people love to read about new places, right? So combining weddings with new destinations — to me, that was a win-win situation.

Q: If you had the chance to plan a destination wedding, where would you go and why?

My Destination Wedding series focuses on wedding locations in the U.S., so I’m going to pick a site within the 50 states (and because I live in Colorado, that’s ruled out). My husband, our youngest daughter and I vacationed in Bandon, Ore., several years ago with close friends; we rented a beach house. The sunsets and sunrises were lovely, and the town is so quaint. I think Bandon would make a great location for a destination wedding . . . maybe even for a novel!

Q: What was your inspiration for writing Crazy Little Thing Called Love?

I have several friends who met in high school and ended up getting married — and they’ve stayed married, I’m happy to report. When my husband and I were dating, we talked briefly of eloping — very briefly. And I think everyone looks back on their high school years and can think of at least one decision they made, a romantic one or a just a general life decision, and they wonder, “What if?” What if they had done things differently?

Q: You usually have a high-concept question you weave into your stories. What was the main question for Crazy Little Thing Called Love?

I believe a Story Question is what fuels a novel. It’s what your characters are wrestling with from chapter one to the end. And it’s often a question readers might wrestle with too. For Crazy Little Thing Called Love, I focused on this Story Question: What if you realized what you thought was your worst mistake actually was the right choice?

Q: Vanessa is used to giving in to her fiancé’s wishes constantly. Do you think women have a tendency to do this generally in relationships?

No, not really. I was engaged when I was nineteen before I met my now husband, and I didn’t know my own mind back then and gave in too easily to what my fiancé thought. I don’t think that was because I was a woman so much as because I was young. There should be a natural give-and-take in any relationship, but a couple has to learn to balance it so both people are heard and valued. Of course, personalities come into play here, and some couples never grow into a more mature relationship.

Q: How did growing up in a military family that moves around frequently impact the person Vanessa became?

Remember, as the author I got to plot exactly how Vanessa was affected by being part of a military family; her experience isn’t true for every military child. She moved around a lot and had difficulty forming lasting friendships. This can be a challenge when a family moves every couple of years. The way I summed it up in Crazy Little Thing Called Love is that Vanessa was good at saying hello and goodbye, but she didn’t know how to do the relationship in between.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Howard Books

Q: What were your friendships like during high school? Can you identify with the way Vanessa felt as the new girl over and over again?

I switched schools between my sophomore and junior years of high school, but I did that by choice, not because my family moved. So while I said goodbye to some friends, I had other friends waiting for me at the other school and never really felt like the “new” girl. To understand Vanessa, I drew on my experience of raising my own children, helping them navigate friendships as they grew up in a military family and the inevitable goodbyes that come with that.

Q: Have you ever made a rash decision — even if it was made on good intentions? What happened as a result?

Oh, all sorts of rash decisions — everything from adopting stray animals (note the plural) to saying yes to going on a blind date that ended up lasting less than an hour. I’ve learned rash decisions — ones where I mentally leap before I look at the possible consequences of my choices — rarely end well. One of my rules now is if a decision has to be made immediately, my answer is no.

Q: Vanessa and Logan get a second chance at love. Have you ever had a second chance at something, and did you take it?

Like everyone else in the world, I’ve had a variety of second chances in my life, including romantic ones. And I have to admit I should have said “No, thanks” to some of them. A second chance isn’t an automatic yes from God. It should be prayed over . . . and treated as a treasured opportunity — whether you take it or not.

Q: How can being burnt in love and relationships impact your future ability to have an open heart toward others?

The question itself supplies the answer: When we are burned by something, we are more cautious the next time. No one escapes being disappointed by others. No one escapes being brokenhearted. But we can choose how we respond to it. Being cautious doesn’t mean we have to become jaded or closed off to other people. We can choose to be careful whom we give our heart to — and isn’t that a wise thing? But being cautious doesn’t mean choosing never to love again.

Q: To grow closer to God, Vanessa starts writing prayers in her journal. What do you do in your own quiet time with the Lord that helps you remain close to him?

Listening to praise-and-worship music has always been an important part of my quiet times. I’ve created worship playlists on Spotify, compiling my favorite songs. A few years ago I discovered the book Praying in Color by Sybil MacBeth. I’m not an artist, but this book, which details how to incorporate drawing into your prayer time, rejuvenated my quiet time. I also like to read my Bible in tandem with a specific book. Right now I am reading Finding Divine Inspiration: Working with the Holy Spirit in Your Creativity by J. Scott McElroy, which a friend gave me for Christmas.

Q: Can you think about a time in your life when you tried to force a dream or rush ahead of God’s timing? How did that work out for you?

There have been times when I’ve been impatient with God’s timing for things — for him to resolve a longstanding conflict or for him to change me in an area that I struggle. (I dealt with fear for many years.) I’ve had to realize God is working in my life even when I can’t see anything happening. To trust him. And when I’ve prayed and feel no clear direction of what to do or say next . . . I stay still. Quiet. I wait. It’s hard, but it’s the best thing to do rather than running ahead and assuming I know what to do without any clear guidance.

Q: Why did you want to choose a risky profession for Logan’s character? What kind of research did you have to do to represent it well?

I knew Logan needed to be in a profession that was risky because I wanted him to challenge Vanessa to move past all the boundaries she’d put around herself. I wanted to choose something outside the box. So I mulled for a few days — mulling is a huge part of the writing process. And the idea “storm chaser” came to mind. I would have loved to have time to do more research about storm chasing; there’s just never enough time to do everything I want. I’ve read some about storm chasers and have always been intrigued about why someone would run toward a tornado instead of running for safety. And I discovered they are not just thrill seekers. They are scientists, motivated by a desire to understand storms better, to help protect people. I read some books and did research online to understand storm chasers further.

Q: Was some of the rich camaraderie and conversation between friends in the book inspired by your own relationships?

Friendships are so, so important to me. And yes, when I’m with my friends, it’s all about the conversation, the laughter, the give-and-take between us. If I can make someone laugh, I’m happy. And I’m thankful I have people in my life who know the real me, who are willing to be honest with me, to challenge me — and who are real with me too. I don’t want to pretend anymore . . . or do a fake life. That’s not what God calls us to do. We’re to reflect his image to others, and having honest, loving relationships with others is one of the most beautiful ways we can do that.

Q: What can we expect from you next?

More Destination Wedding stories! I’m working on another novella and another novel (Almost Like Being in Love) for 2016. I’m intrigued by Logan’s little sister’s story: What happens with Caron and Alex? And there are always other stories perking in my brain, sparked by conversations, news stories and random things I run across in my day-to-day life. Did you know you can rent a bridesmaid? Now how intriguing is that? And I’ve already started a list of “What if?” ideas for other stories.

For more information about Crazy Little Thing Called Love and Beth K. Vogt visit www.bethvogt.com, become a fan on Facebook (AuthorBethKVogt) or follow her on Twitter (@bethvogt) and Pinterest (beth_vogt).

Posted 7/28/15 at 4:14 PM | Audra Jennings

Author Learns How to Forgive Her Father's Killer

An interview with Laurie Coombs,

Author of Letters from My Fathers Murderer

Laurie A. Coombs, author of Letters from My Father's Murderer
Laurie A. Coombs

If you asked anyone who knew Laurie A. Coombs, they would tell you what an incredibly strong person she was — the kind of person who can make it through anything. As Coombs details in her new memoir, Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness (Kregel/June 27, 2015/ISBN: 978-0825442292/$14.99), that outward veneer of strength masked a crumbling interior. FULL POST

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