Food for the Soul
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Audra Jennings

Audra Jennings is a publicist with Litfuse Publicity Group.

Posted 4/11/17 at 1:53 PM | Audra Jennings

Your feelings aren’t the boss of you

Part 1 of an interview with Tracie Miles,
Author of Unsinkable Faith: God-Filled Strategies
to Transform the Way You Think, Feel, and Live

Tracie Miles, author of Unsinkable Faith

Thoughts are powerful and at times cause us to feel and act in ways we wouldn’t normally. In fact, they can become so powerful that if left unchecked, they end up controlling us rather than the other way around. When our thoughts and feelings are largely negative in nature, those pessimistic ideas infiltrate our lives — and our faith — making it increasingly difficult to live with joy. In Unsinkable Faith: God-Filled Strategies to Transform the Way You Think, Feel, and Live (David C Cook), Tracie Miles offers practical, life-changing strategies for those who struggle with negativity, leading them to discover how the transforming of their minds can transform their lives.

Q: Your new book, Unsinkable Faith, opens with details about a difficult conversation you had with Jesus. What led up to that conversation, and how did it lay the foundation for this book?

After almost 26 years of marriage, my husband decided he wasn’t happy and chose to leave me and my children. It was as if my whole world fell apart in an instant, and the life I had always known abruptly ended. Anyone who has gone through any type of marital crisis, separation or divorce, long-term relationship breakdown or extremely difficult circumstance knows not only do our thoughts and emotions begin to feel overwhelming and in control, but we can also begin to wonder why God let these circumstances happen to us. Our negative thoughts take over, and we might begin to question our faith and feel abandoned by our heavenly Father. We’re hurt, and hurt wreaks havoc on our hearts and minds.

One day a few weeks after my husband left, I finally broke down and cried like a baby for three solid hours, asking Jesus, “Why?” Why did He not answer my prayers to save my marriage and change my husband’s heart? Why did my children and I have to go through this? I found myself in fervent prayer like never before when I felt like Jesus whispered a question to my heart. “Do you still love me?” It came out of nowhere, and my immediate answer was, “Yes, Lord.” Honestly, my answer caught me off guard, but it was a turning point for me to pick myself up and lean harder into Jesus instead of letting this situation shake my faith. It allowed me to invite Him to help me transform my thoughts from negative into positive to transform and reclaim my life, even if that meant starting over. It wasn’t easy — it didn’t happen overnight — but it did happen.

Q: Our thoughts can cause us to feel as if we’re sinking and can often sink our faith as well. When this happens, how can readers who find themselves feeling as if they’re drowning in their problems and negative thoughts learn to stay afloat?

The real question is how can we develop an unsinkable faith that carries us through life with a hopeful, positive attitude no matter what life throws at us? When our thoughts and attitudes get better, our lives can too, even if our circumstances remain the same. We can’t always control how we feel, but we can always take authority over our own minds and change the way we think. When we do this, it changes the way we view and experience life overall, preventing us from sinking in hopelessness, discouragement and despair. There is always hope for a positive attitude, a stronger faith, a heart full of joy and a happier future when we put our hope in Jesus and choose not to let life cause us, or our attitudes, to sink. Negative attitudes cause us to sink, while positive ones help us keep our heads above water when life is trying to pull us down. A negative mind will never lead you into a positive life.

Q: How does negativity become a stronghold in our hearts, and what are the consequences?

Negativity usually happens gradually, and sometimes we don’t even realize we have become a negative person. It’s like a poison that seeps into our hearts and minds so slowly we fail to realize what is happening until it's too late. In our defense, we are all bombarded with outside negative influences every day, from the media, politics and even friends and family. On top of that, if we are going or have gone through some difficult or painful circumstances, our own negative thoughts influence our mind and well-being. Throughout time, negativity can become a stronghold on our entire perspective about everything in life. When this happens, we fall into a habit of thinking negatively so much it simply becomes who we are. The consequences of living with a negative mindset are we lose the ability to look for the good side of things and always focus on the doom and gloom of any situation, which eventually steals our peace, joy and happiness.

Negative thought patterns will always lead to a negative life pattern. Unfortunately, sometimes the poison even seeps out of our hearts and minds, turns into actions and spills out onto those around us, negatively impacting relationships. It’s a vicious cycle, one we can’t afford to take lightly. True joy and a positive attitude come from choosing to change your thoughts, not from a problem-free life.

David C Cook
Unsinkable Faith by Tracie Miles

Q: Aren’t some people simply “wired” to be more pessimistic or optimistic than others? What encouragement do you offer to those who find it more challenging to think positively?

Every person is unique, but I don’t believe some people are wired to be more pessimistic or optimistic. It is true, however, that upbringing, outside influences and circumstances can impact the way people learn to think and train their minds. Science has proven most people are generally optimists. Nobody wants to go around with a doom-and-gloom attitude, but if we aren’t careful, life and adversities can cause us to have one.

What’s encouraging is it’s been proven through amazing brain research by scientists, such as Dr. Daniel Amen and Dr. Carolina Leaf, that science has finally caught up with scripture. It is possible to transform our brain physically through positive thinking physiologically, but we can also transform our thought patterns by asking God to help us be more aware of negative thoughts when they creep in and turn those thoughts around. Their research has proven this to be true time and time again with their patients. Everyone is capable of changing their thought patterns, and when they do their lives will change too.

Q: You write, “We can’t always control how we feel, but we can always take authority over our own minds and change the way we think.” How do we balance working to change the way we think with allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us?

We all know feelings are powerful and at times cause us to think or even do things we wouldn’t normally do. In fact, sometimes our thoughts are so powerful they are controlling us rather than us controlling them, and that’s never good.

Romans 12:2 (The Message) says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” This verse is telling us not to let the world or our circumstances conform our thoughts, but to let the Holy Spirit transform us instead. The balance comes in realizing we can’t change our minds without the help of Christ and an intentional decision to do so. Being conformed is what happens to us when external influences impact us internally, but being transformed happens when we choose intentionally to ask the Holy Spirit to shape us and our thoughts instead.

We must first have the desire and willingness to change. Then, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us be more aware of each negative thought that cause us to feel pessimistic, fearful, mad, sad and overwhelmed. From there we need to rephrase those thoughts into something positive or, at a minimum, stop listening to the negative thoughts when they arise and reject them completely. As our awareness of our thoughts grows, a transformation begins to happen.

Q: What advice can you offer the person living in so much hurt their vision is too clouded to see Jesus?

Life is hard for everyone, but it is harder for some than others. However, none of us have to let the hardships of life harden our hearts and minds.  Emotional pain is one of the strongest emotions there is, and it can not only cloud our thinking but also our faith. It's often the misconceptions we build in our minds rather than our circumstances that cloud our ability to see Jesus. I would tell them even though they may have a million valid reasons to feel negative or pessimistic, all those negative thoughts will never lead to a positive life.

All of us want to be happy, fulfilled and optimistic about the future. We all have had pain in our past or are facing difficult situations that are hard to be optimistic about, but all things are possible in Christ. Every believer has the power to choose optimism and doing so is life-changing.

Q: What type of person will benefit from reading Unsinkable Faith?

Not one person is alive who doesn’t feel overwhelmed with negative thoughts from time to time, whether due to a painful memory of the past or a current challenge. Every one of us will start feeling bossed around by our feelings, as if we don’t have control of our emotions and actions. However, deep down we desperately want to gain control again, so it’s a topic everyone can benefit from.

More specifically, it may benefit those who:

  • have convinced themselves they’re doomed to be unhappy and have just accepted it because they know their circumstances will never change.
  • grew up in a pessimistic home and think they are fated to carry on that negative legacy.
  • struggle with depression and discouragement and feel true happiness and optimism are entirely out of reach because they’ve tried other methods and medications to help them feel happy, but they just haven’t worked.
  • are generally positive people but are going through a difficult situation, such as myself.

Anyone who wants to be a more happy, optimistic person — regardless of the root cause of their negativity — can benefit from learning how to reshape their thoughts, transform their minds and begin steering their life in a more positive direction.

Learn more about Tracie Miles and Unsinkable Faith at www.traciemiles.com,on Facebook (p31traciemiles) and via Twitter (@traciewmiles).

Posted 4/11/17 at 1:41 PM | Audra Jennings

Hearts anchored in God don’t sink

Part 2 of an interview with Tracie Miles,
Author of Unsinkable Faith: God-Filled Strategies
to Transform the Way You Think, Feel, and Live

David C Cook
Unsinkable Faith by Tracie Miles

Some days you’re floating through life and everything seems fine. Other days, you’re barely holding on in the midst of a storm and negative thoughts threaten to sink your attitude, steal your peace, and rob you of joy. But just because life is hard doesn’t mean your heart and mind have to become hardened.

Tracie Miles knows it’s possible to overcome a pessimistic mindset and rise above your circumstances to find the positive—by changing the way you think, feel, and live. In Unsinkable Faith (David C Cook), her stories and insights will help point readers to God’s truths so they can rise back to the surface.

Q: How is choosing joy, no matter what, different from a “Fake it ‘til you make it” mindset?

There are days when we are just not going to feel happy. Nobody can be happy every second of every day; it’s just not realistic. I do believe, however, you can choose joy every day. It will take some effort, but it is possible. We can’t just pretend our problems don’t exist or deny our feelings when we’re hurt or upset, essentially putting on a fake smile. But when we ask God to help us purposely focus on having a glass-half-full mentality, we start feeling more uplifted. It’s truly amazing what can happen when we invite God to change our hearts and minds and, in turn, our lives. Happiness and joy truly are a choice. We don’t have to live a joyless life unless we choose to do so. Circumstances don’t determine our joy; our faith and outlook do.

Q: Through what process does what we think become who we are?

Scripture talks about this. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” This simply means whatever we think about internally will have an impact on who we are, who we become and how we live our lives. Our internal thoughts drive everything we say and usually dictate our outward actions. What we think about becomes who we are.

I think many of us are under the impression it doesn’t matter what we think because nobody can hear those thoughts unless we say them aloud. However, our thoughts are literally what control our lives. Choosing to be the captain of our thoughts and transforming our minds to be generally optimistic becomes the determining factor not only on what kind of person we are, but how other people see us.

Q: While our thoughts dictate our feelings, which in turn dictate our actions, how do we cross over and begin living by faith rather than feelings?

The transformation must begin with prayer and surrendering ourselves to God. Of course, using the God-tools we talked about earlier will equip us for the journey. Living by faith instead of feelings is difficult, so that’s why it’s important to make our faith a priority.

Q: How do our thinking patterns actually change the physical function and structure of our brains?

Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist with a PhD in communication pathology, wrote a popular book titled Switch On Your Brain. In it she reveals that because we are constantly reacting to circumstances and events, our brains become shaped by the process of thoughts and reactions. If we think positively, the physiological aspects of our brains change in healthy ways that help us move toward a positive quality of life. Yet if we think negatively, our brains are changed in unhealthy ways, causing us to feel and act negatively and steering us toward a more negative quality of life.

Leaf also found people who regularly meditate on Scripture and have developed a disciplined and focused thought-life have increased intelligence, wisdom and a feeling of peace. I love how this research supports what we are told in Scripture repeatedly: We can transform and renew our minds if we choose to (Romans 12:2). For all who struggle with negativity, pessimism and even depression, this is good news! Although in many cases there are physiological reasons for depression (and therefore medication is beneficial and necessary), sometimes depression can be minimized when positive thinking becomes the norm instead of the exception.

Tracie Miles, author of Unsinkable Faith

Q: What are some of the “God-tools” available to help us fight for control of our thoughts and emotions?

Second Corinthians 10:4 (The Message) says, “We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.” These God-tools are within our grasp to fight the spiritual war taking place in our minds. These tools are God’s Word, prayer, the prayers of others on our behalf, holy strength we can tap into, the ability to persevere, peace even when life isn’t peaceful and worship. All of these things equip us to push back against warped philosophies and the lies in our minds that do not line up with God’s Word.

Satan’s tactics don’t stand a chance against God’s power, but until we intentionally decide to use those tools to fight for control over our own thoughts and emotions, he will continue to have the upper hand in this battlefield of the mind.

Q: A strong theme throughout Unsinkable Faith is surrendering our fears and negative thoughts to the Lord. Is this something we can just do once, or is it an ongoing process?

If only it were that easy! In every difficult circumstance I face, I usually catch myself thinking something negative again. That’s simply human nature and the power of emotion. However, as God walked me through the journey of mind transformation, especially in the writing this book, I began to form a habit of noticing negative thoughts when they occurred and immediately trying to reject those thoughts, replacing them with something positive and more true.

For the whole year after my separation, I had to go back to God time and time again to ask for His help in controlling my thoughts. I would do good for a while, but then another problem or emotional situation would rage in, and my thoughts would plummet into negativity yet again. Thankfully, God is gracious to forgive us when we stumble, and He knows we are just human beings trying to survive in this badly broken world where it’s often challenging to think positively. The transforming of our minds is a process where we’ll never fully “arrive,” but when we commit to change and practice changing how we think day in and day out, we soon notice our lives are changing for the better. We become happier and more at peace than ever before. It’s a journey, but every step of the journey is worth it.

Q: You offer practical ideas at the end of each chapter, including journaling topics, actions steps and Bible verses for meditation. How vital are these steps to making lasting changes in how we think?

We can read infinite amounts of information about how to do new things or learn to improve on something, but if we don’t apply those tips to our lives and put them into practice, we’ll never achieve success. Just like anything new we set out to learn or master, we have to apply what we learn to everyday life practically. That’s why I included many practical tips, opportunities for personal reflections and ways to apply the book to their own life, complete with biblical backup. Each chapter also includes a powerful challenge to the readers to help them really jumpstart their new lives.

Q: What other resources are available to go along with Unsinkable Faith?

I have a wonderful study guide that accompanies the book and includes all of the challenges, reflections and chapter activities from the book, but also includes bonus challenges so readers can take their quest for optimism even further. The guide offers more room for writing and journaling thoughts and prayers. There’s a really fun activity for each chapter with background information about the famous people who wrote the quotes used in the book. They were all wonderful role models for positive thinkers who overcame adversity and allowed God to transform their minds and their lives. These bonus activities help the reader delve deep into their own thought patterns and feel encouraged that they too can change.

I also have a free 5 Day Optimist Challenge readers can sign up for on my blog, www.traciemiles.com. The challenge will get them started on the right foot in their own personal journeys toward living lives of optimism. There are lots of other resources available on my blog as well.

Learn more about Tracie Miles and Unsinkable Faith at www.traciemiles.com,on Facebook (p31traciemiles) and via Twitter (@traciewmiles).

Posted 4/6/17 at 2:02 PM | Audra Jennings

Hope, even at its most fragile, is always stronger than it appears

Ruchti pens story encouraging readers to hold onto hope, even when it doesn’t make sense

Abingdon Press
A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti

We easily become so absorbed in our own responsibilities, problems and concerns that we miss what is going on in the lives of those around us, even those we love the most. That’s where Josiah Chamberlain finds himself in award-winning author Cynthia Ruchti’s latest release, A Fragile Hope (Abingdon Press). When his life starts falling apart around him, will the fragile hope he has left be enough to help through the most difficult time of his life?

As a best-selling author, speaker, and relationship expert, Josiah’s life’s work revolves around repairing other people’s marriages. While he is focused on his latest deadline, Josiah fails to notice as his wife, Karin, grows distant. Their relationship is challenged further when Karin is involved in a serious car accident and is unable to communicate. When his own marriage is threatened, Josiah finds his expertise, quick wit and clever quips are no match for a relationship that is clearly broken.

Feeling betrayed, confused and ill-equipped for a crisis this crippling, Josiah reexamines everything he knows about the fragility of hope and the strength of his faith and love. Love seems to have failed him. Will what’s left of his faith fail him too? Or will it be the one thing that holds him together and sears through the impenetrable wall that separates them?

Ruchti hopes readers find a few unmistakable lessons in love tucked quietly within the pages of the story, including:

  • The strength and fragility of love.
  • The need for constant nurturing in relationships.
  • The power and gift of communication.
  • Against our natural inclination and instincts, at its heart, love is sacrifice.

The truest example of love and deeper inspiration for A Fragile Hope came from I Corinthians 11:23-24, “The Lord Jesus on the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is (represents) My body, which is [offered as a sacrifice] for you,’” (Amplified Bible). Ruchti admits this doesn’t seem like the typical scripture to inspire a contemporary novel, but readers will find why this scripture played a key role as they delve into the story. “I was deeply moved by the idea that Jesus showed us the depth of His love most significantly ‘on the night He was betrayed.’ What would that look like in a husband/wife relationship, or any other relationship, for that matter? Can love shine brightest on the night it’s betrayed?”

Of course, Ruchti hopes readers will finish the book with a satisfied sigh but adds, “I pray they’ll also have gained a deeper appreciation for the power of love and the strength of hope. Disappointment and betrayal are always more layered than we imagine. Hope is always stronger than it appears, even at its most fragile.”

Learn more about A Fragile Hope and Cynthia Ruchti atwww.cynthiaruchti.com. Readers can also follow her onFacebook (Cynthia Ruchti), Twitter (@cynthiaruchti) and Pinterest (cynthiaruchti).

Advance Praise

“Exquisite storyteller Cynthia Ruchti has accomplished the seemingly impossible feat of beautifully portraying the inner struggles of a man on the edge of decisions that will forever change reality for all those he loves. I simply could not put down A Fragile Hope,because, after all, everyone is seeking hope in the end. Must read!”

~ Lucinda Secrest McDowell, author of Dwelling Places

“Master storyteller Cynthia Ruchti demonstrates a unique ability to weave tenderness with life-changing truth in her novel A Fragile Hope. It offers more than a good read. It offers answers for those seeking the path to forgiveness and longing for hope in the midst of seeming impossibilities.”

~ Grace Fox, international speaker and author of Moving from Fear to Freedom

Cynthia Ruchti, author of A Fragile Hope

About the author

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope through her novels, novellas, nonfiction books, articles and devotionals, drawing from 33 years of on-air radio ministry. Ruchti has written more than 20 award-winning novels, novellas, nonfiction books and devotionals. Her books have received numerous awards and nominations, including the RT Reviewers’ Choice, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year nominations, two Selah Awards, Christian Retailing’s BEST, was an ACFW Carol Award finalist and a Christy finalist, among other honors. Her latest release is the novel A Fragile Hope.

One of Ruchti’s greatest joys is helping other writers grow in their craft. To that end, she has served as worship and devotions staff and faculty for the Write-to-Publish conference and teaches at other writers’ conferences across the country and internationally as opportunities arise. She also serves as the professional relations liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers.

Ruchti speaks frequently for women’s groups and serves on her church’s worship team. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.

To keep up with Cynthia Ruchti, visitwww.cynthiaruchti.com. She also invites readers to follow her onFacebook (Cynthia Ruchti), Twitter (@cynthiaruchti) and Pinterest (cynthiaruchti).

Posted 4/4/17 at 5:03 PM | Audra Jennings

Putting God back in the spotlight

New Hope Publishers
Chasing Famous by Lisa Lloyd

Lisa Lloyd helps readers live the life they’ve always auditioned for.

Life can be compared to a series of auditions. Regardless of who we are, we are constantly auditioning for a part: to be the most loving spouse, attentive parent or amazing employee. It is human nature to want to be loved, affirmed and accepted. Whether it is conscious or not, all these desires focus inwardly. In Chasing Famous: Living the Life You’ve Always Auditioned For(New Hope Press/April 3, 2017/ISBN: 978-1-62591-517-7/$14.99), Lisa Lloyd helps readers shift the focus outwardly and back on God and His glory. FULL POST

Posted 4/3/17 at 3:01 PM | Audra Jennings

Transform the way you think, feel and live

Tracie Miles helps readers develop an unsinkable faith through all circumstances

David C Cook
Unsinkable Faith by Tracie Miles

Thoughts are powerful and at times cause us to feel and act in ways we wouldn’t normally. In fact, they can become so powerful that if left unchecked, they end up controlling us rather than the other way around. When our thoughts and feelings are largely negative in nature, those pessimistic ideas infiltrate our lives — and our faith — making it increasingly difficult to live with joy. In Unsinkable Faith: God-Filled Strategies to Transform the Way You Think, Feel, and Live (David C Cook), Tracie Miles offers practical, life-changing strategies for those who struggle with negativity, leading them to discover how the transforming of their minds can transform their lives.

For some individuals, remaining optimistic about life and feeling positive about themselves are a constant battle. It may even become a battle that seems hopeless, particularly when life is hard and circumstances are difficult. For others, negativity is something that sneaks up from time to time, catching them off-guard. In either case, once dark thoughts permeate the mind, it becomes challenging to see the light. Even with the knowledge that negativity doesn’t come from God, it’s difficult to escape wondering, Is it possible to develop an unsinkable faith that carries us through life with a hopeful, positive attitude, no matter what?

In the midst of a painful divorce, Miles was faced with a barrage of negative self-talk. As she cried out to God through her pain, she sensed Him drawing her nearer. “It was a turning point for me to lean harder into Jesus instead of letting this situation shake my faith,” Miles remembers. “I invited Him to help me transform my thoughts from negative into positive so I could transform and reclaim my life.”

Each chapter of Unsinkable Faith explores personal stories from Miles and others, showing how they were able to rise above their circumstances by transforming and renewing their minds. These inspiring stories illustrate when a person’s thoughts and attitudes improve, their lives do too — even if the circumstances remain the same.

Unsinkable Faith is filled with Biblical wisdom and insight as well as recent scientific findings in support of what Scripture has said all along: It is possible to transform our lives by transforming of our minds. Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out” (The Message).

Each chapter comes to a close with “Strategies for Transforming Your Thinking,” which includes a section for mind-transforming personal reflections that will help the reader begin to identify their thinking habits and practically implement tools for positive thinking into their own lives. Also included are mind-renewing scriptures and a powerful Chapter Challenge to empower the reader to change from the inside out. Unsinkable Faith will inspire readers to embrace God’s truth as they discover His tools for a more positive and optimistic outlook. Rather than sinking mentally, emotionally and spiritually, God’s truths and a positive mindset make it possible to live a life of joy, peace and happiness.

Advance Praise

“When life has beaten you down, Unsinkable Faith will pick you back up and strengthen your heart for the journey God has called you to.”

~ Lysa TerKeurst, New York Times bestselling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries

“In Unsinkable Faith, Tracie vulnerably shares through her own story how we can break through the stronghold of negativity in our lives by fighting for control of our thoughts and emotions to live a more positive, victorious life!”

~ Michelle L. Bengtson, PhD, neuropsychologist and author of Hope Prevails

Tracie Miles, author of Unsinkable Faith

About the Author

Tracie Miles is passionate about inspiring women to deepen their relationship with Christ, discover their God-given purpose and always live a life of joy, peace and happiness despite their circumstances. She is a speaker and writer with Proverbs 31 Ministries and enjoys sharing at women’s events around the country. Her contributions to the Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today daily devotions reach more than one million women with God’s Word.

Miles is the author of two best-selling books, Stressed-Less Living: Finding God’s Peace in Your Chaotic World and Your Life Still Counts: How God Uses Your Past to Create a Beautiful Future. She is also a contributing writer to Zondervan’s NIV Women’s Devotional Bible and the Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today daily devotional book. Miles’ latest release is Unsinkable Faith: God-Filled Strategies to Transform the Way You Think, Feel, and Live.

Miles lives in Charlotte, NC and is a devoted mother to three incredible young adults.

Keep up with Tracie Miles by visiting www.traciemiles.com,following her on Facebook (p31traciemiles) or via Twitter (@traciewmiles).


Posted 3/27/17 at 7:10 PM | Audra Jennings

Welcome to College helps students navigate the journey into adulthood

Setting the trajectory for a

life of following Jesus

Welcome to College helps students

navigate the journey into adulthood

Welcome to College by Jonathan Morrow

College can be the most exciting, as well as the most frightening, time of a young person’s life. On one hand are all the freedoms a recent high school graduate craves, but on the other are all the freedoms that come with responsibility. It’s a challenging time, especially for Christians coming face-to-face with worldviews different from their own. In Welcome to College: A Christ-Follower’s Guide for the Journey (second edition) (Kregel Publications/March 28, 2017/ISBN: 9780825444883/ $21.99), Jonathan Morrow helps students tackle this new stage of life and emerge on the other side prepared for what God has planned for them.

“Is there a more frightening question for a graduating high school senior than ‘What will you do with your life?’” Morrow asks. “In college, whether they realize it or not, students will answer that question every day with each decision. All of the new friends and new experiences of college will shape their future. As Christians, they will have the added layer of trying to figure out what God would want them to do with their lives. It can be overwhelming. It's critical that students know how to handle college before they're in the thick of it.”

College is a critical time for young adults to find and develop a faith of their own. Various surveys reveal between 40-75% of young people abandon their faith during their college years. While even one student walking away from their faith is too much, parents and students need to know and understand that college is not a faith-friendly environment. However, God has called students to more than surviving; he has called them to engage our culture with the life-changing message of Jesus.

Keeping this truth in mind, Morrow tackles the tough questions that arise during these formative years, including:

  • · How do I grow spiritually?
  • · Is all truth relative?
  • · How do I manage my time both to study well and have fun?
  • · How can I discover what I am supposed to do with my life?
  • · As a Christian, how should I view issues such as drinking, dating and sex?

The first edition of Welcome to College, released a decade ago,was extremely popular and still very applicable to today. In this new edition, each chapter has been updated, and Morrow added chapters addressing the tyranny of tolerance and Christianity, homosexuality, and the Bible. He also delves into how social media has changed our culture and how students’ digital footprints will follow them all of their lives. Grounded in both his own extensive experience and biblical truth, Morrow's book is full of quick, easy-to-read chapters and practical advice.

“College is full of opportunities and challenges,” Morrow muses. “I want students to own their faith and not just survive college, but to thrive there and have the kind of influence God created them for!”

Advance Praise

“I know of no better book you can put into the hands of a Christian student headed to college.”

~ John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview (from the book’s foreword)

Welcome to College has been my go-to book for helping students prepare to succeed spiritually, relationally and academically in college. There is no other book that has such depth and balance. And I am thrilled to see that Jonathan has written a timely and helpful update, incorporating many of the biggest issues students face today. This book is a must-read for all Christian students who hope to have a vibrant faith in college.”

~ Sean McDowell, best-selling author, speaker and professor at Biola University

“If I could give just one apologetics book to a Christian going off to college, it is this one. Jonathan Morrow goes well beyond providing evidence for Christianity (as most such books do) — he provides succinct and sound answers to the kinds of moral and emotional issues that often trip up Christian college students. Highly recommended!”

~ Frank Turek, broadcaster and author of I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist and Correct, Not Politically Correct


About the Author

Jonathan Morrow, author of Welcome to College

Jonathan Morrow feels like he was able to do college right, with no major regrets. Although he admits to not having all the answers, his mission is to help other students do the same. Morrow is currently the director of cultural engagement and immersion at Impact 360 Institute where he trains high school and college students in Christian worldview, apologetics, and leadership. He also serves as an adjunct professor of apologetics at Biola University.

Morrow is the author of Welcome to College,Questioning the Bible and Think Christianly. He also co-authored Is God Just a Human Invention? with Sean McDowell and has contributed chapters to Foundations of Spiritual Formation and A New Kind of Apologist. Morrow has contributed articles to several publications and his books have been featured on a number of national radio programs.

He graduated with an MDiv and an MA in philosophy of religion and ethics as well as a DMin in Worldview and Culture from the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. Morrow and his wife are the parents of three and currently live in Georgia.

Learn more about Welcome to College at www.welcometocollege.tv.

Connect with Jonathan Morrow at www.jonathanmorrow.org, via Facebook (ThinkChristianlyOrg) and on Twitter (@Jonathan_Morrow).


Posted 3/1/17 at 6:29 PM | Audra Jennings

Do you have to be the one in control?

Part 1 of an interview with Shannon Popkin,

Author of Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden

of Control from Seven Women in the Bible

Shannon Popkin, author of Control Girl

Many women worry about life spinning out of control and want to be sure of a happy ending. They have a compulsion to make it all turn out just right and are willing to do almost anything to make it happen. When they realize control is slipping from their grasp, they lose control and react in anger or fear. This unbalanced pursuit of control makes those around them anxious and defensive. Author Shannon Popkin knows this struggle well. In her new book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible (Kregel Publications), she reveals to readers the only way to find the deep security they crave is to surrender to God and entrust the outcome to Him.

Q: The title of your new book is Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible, but the initial inspiration came from your own life. When did you first realize you had a control issue?

Before I got married, I didn’t realize I was a Control Girl, probably because I could control most everything in my little life. Then I got married, and my husband was messing up all of my plans. He wanted to stay in, and I wanted to go out. He wanted to save our money, and I wanted to spend it. He wanted to get up early, and I wanted to stay up late. These were my first tastes of giving up control, and I didn’t like it. When we added children, houses, dogs and jobs to our lives, my control issues really began to mushroom. There was so much I couldn’tcontrol! God used the chaos of family life to press me to consider my heart’s unhealthy craving for control.

Q: Do you think Control Girls readily recognize their problem with control?

I didn’t. Even as I was behaving like a complete Control Girl, I didn’t see control as my problem. I thought my problem was anger. I was reading books about anger and asking my friends to pray for me. Then one day I was driving in the car, and I heard Dee Brestin on the radio talking about the “sin beneath the sin.” She said we often recognize our surface-level sins, such as anger, but we fail to connect them to the deeper sin. Then she mentioned the sin of control. In an instant, I knew this was my problem.

I’ve found my anger, anxiety and perfectionism often stem from this deep, insatiable, unhealthy craving I have for control. When I see these other things (losing my temper, trying to be seen as perfect, anxiety over safety, etc.) rising to the surface, I’ve found it’s helpful to ask, “OK, Shannon. What are you trying to control? What do you fear losing control of?”

Q: What drove you to explore other “Control Girls” in the Bible?

One day I was painting the laundry room and listening to John Piper preach a sermon on the curse in Genesis 3. He explained that when God said to Eve, “Your desire will be for your husband,” her desire would actually be a desire for control. I remember standing there on the ladder with my paintbrush in my hand, completely stunned. I, as a daughter of Eve, had been cursed with this desire for control. In one sense it was a relief to learn this because for me, it was like being diagnosed with a degenerative disease passed on from generations back. Suddenly all of my control symptoms made sense!

Then I had another thought. If I was struggling under this curse, thousands of years later, surely the first women in the Bible also struggled with control. Later, I began combing the Scriptures, looking for any evidences of this desire for control in the stories of Bible women. It turns out I didn’t have to look very far. I found these Bible women — Eve, Sarah, Hagar, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel and Miriam — all struggled with control the same way I do. They took matters into their own hands and tried to make everything turn out “right” from their own perspectives. They also made everyone (themselves included) miserable in the process.

Kregel Publications
Control Girl by Shannon Popkin

Q: Which of your seven Control Girls of the Bible surprised you most?

Rachel. She was the favored younger sister of Leah and the beautiful girl whom Jacob worked fourteen years to have. She seemed, to me, to have a charmed life. Yet Rachel’s story was ugly from start to finish. In every scene in Scripture, Rachel is portrayed as entitled, demanding and controlling. Rachel spent her entire life fixated on trying to have more babies than her sister, which was clearly something she couldn’t control. God did finally give her one baby, but she named him Joseph, which means, “May he add.” She wasn’t content with just one baby; she wanted God to add more babies to her side of the family tree. Rachel’s life was cut short when she died giving birth to her second son.

As Rachel stressed and fretted over her family’s little maternity ward, she was oblivious to the fact God had just birthed the nation of Israel. Rachel was part of a story that was all about God and His people, yet she was making it all about herself. The nerve, right? Yet this is my struggle, too. I hijack God’s story, ignore His greater purposes and make the story all about me and my small idea for a happy ending. What surprised me about Rachel’s life was the stern warning it delivered. Rather than vying for control, God invites us to get swept up in the thrilling story we get to be part of but is all about Him.

Q: What practical advice do you have for the woman who wants to stop being a Control Girl?

Think of the Spirit’s guidance as arrows placed in your path to give direction in life. In the book, I talk about “Big Arrow” surrender, which is giving Jesus control in big, life-altering ways, such as when you first gave your life to him. Big Arrow surrender is essential, but I don’t think we can truly become Jesus Girls unless we also practice Small Arrow surrender in the seemingly insignificant moments of life. Let me suggest one Small Arrow to begin with: the tongue.

James chapter 3 compares our words to a rudder or a bridle. Our tongues are powerful and direction-setting. If we want to turn a new way, we can start with our words. As women, talking is one of the primary ways we take control, so it’s also one of the best ways to retrain our hearts to surrender control to God. If I will repeatedly, day after day and moment by moment, bite my tongue, refusing to say the controlling thing I’d liketo say and surrender to God instead, this will be absolutely transformational.

Q: You end each lesson with a meditation. What does the Bible teach us about meditation, and why is it an important aspect of giving up control?

Control Girls seem particularly resistant to change. We might readily say, “God is in control,” or, “I know this is out of my hands,” but our behavior suggests we don’t believe these things at all. I’m convinced transformation is only possible through revamping our thoughts about God and ourselves. That’s why I’ve included a meditation for each lesson. (These are also available for free download on my site.)

Meditation builds a bridge between what we say we believe and how we live. Thoughts are powerful. When we review, in a focused way, truth about God and about ourselves, we wear new grooves in our minds (Colossians 3:10 and Romans 12:2). By hitting refresh on what we know is true, we curb our controlling behavior. We ready ourselves to face the many situations we’d like to control but can’t. We posture ourselves to surrender to God, rather than caving in to our old tendency of trying to control.

Q: What other resources are available to help Control Girls hand the reigns back to God?

At shannonpopkin.com, you can download my Meditation Cards, which are arranged by chapter. I also have an adult coloring book available, titled Reflections on Surrender. My friend Janyre Tromp did all of the original artwork in this lovely book. We hope that as you fill the pages with color, you’ll also fill your heart with each page’s message of truth about control, ourselves and God.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Shannon Popkin is a writer, speaker and Bible teacher who combines her gifts for humor and storytelling with her passion for Jesus. She is a regular contributor for the Revive Our Hearts’ True Woman blog and author of the book Control Girl. Popkin and her husband live the fast-paced life of parenting three teens in Michigan.

Connect with Shannon Popkin and learn more about Control Girl by visiting www.shannonpopkin.com, following her on Facebook (shanpopkin) or following her via Twitter (@ShannonPopkin).

Posted 1/27/17 at 1:50 PM | Audra Jennings

Surrender the burden of control

Shannon Popkin invites readers to live like God is in control, because he is

Kregel Publications
Control Girl by Shannon Popkin

Many women worry about life spinning out of control and want to be sure of a happy ending. They have a compulsion to make it all turn out just right and are willing to do almost anything to make it happen. When they realize control is slipping from their grasp, they lose control and react in anger or fear. This unbalanced pursuit of control makes those around them anxious and defensive. Author Shannon Popkin knows this struggle well. In her new book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible (Kregel Publications), she reveals to readers the only way to find the deep security they crave is to surrender to God and entrust the outcome to Him. FULL POST

Posted 1/5/17 at 11:41 AM | Audra Jennings

It's time to retreat

Part 2 of an interview with Letitia Suk,
Author of Getaway with God: The Everywoman's Guide to Personal Retreat

Does spending time with God sound like just one more thing to check off an ever-increasing to-do list? How are you supposed to fit in anything that threatens to be more time-consuming? Too often there's simply no room to experience the intimacy, grace, and peace that God offers us.

In Getaway with God, Letitia Suk does more than invite readers to step away from life's pressures to take a personal retreat. It shows you exactly why you must --- for your sake and for your family's.

With grace and warmth, Suk provides step-by-step guidance and the necessary tools to enable any woman on any budget to plan time away, whether it's a quick, half-day break or a weeklong time of restoration.

Q: Why does everyone need to take the time to go on a retreat alone? FULL POST

Posted 12/29/16 at 5:15 PM | Audra Jennings

Has your joy been miscarried?

Part 2 of an interview with Tanika Fitzgerald, author of
Miscarried Joy: Moving Beyond Incredible Pain to Extraordinary Faith

Faith over Fear. Patience over Frustration. Pain with a Purpose.

In Miscarried Joy (Nyree Press), Tanika transparently shares her deeply personal and disappointing experiences of losing her babies due to miscarriage. There were times when she felt God was the cause of her pain. However, her journey through the lives of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth and Naomi, revealed quite the opposite --- God had allowed her pain for a much greater purpose. Each of these women had something in common: they learned to surrender their will and trust God's plan beyond the pain. They were pushed to a posture of prayer that led them from questioning God to have total confidence in Him. Tanika discovered that this season of waiting didn't show up simply to challenge her, but to change her. FULL POST

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