Food for the Soul
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Audra Jennings

Audra Jennings is a publicist with Litfuse Publicity Group.

Posted 2/24/12 at 10:43 AM | Audra Jennings

Fabry explores ethical dilemmas in his latest release

Radio host and author Chris Fabry

Award-winning author and popular radio host Chris Fabry explores ethical dilemmas in his latest release, Not in the Heart

If your child needed a life-saving heart transplant, how far would you go to make it happen? How would you feel if a man convicted of murder offered his heart to your child? In his latest release, Not in the Heart, author Chris Fabry passionately delves into hot topics such as capital punishment, gambling addiction and organ donation, leaving readers to examine their own lives and views. 

Not in the Heart is a story of redemption—the story of two men’s lives who bear the consequences of their addictions and receive a second chance. Unfortunately, addiction has become commonplace in our culture, with the effects not only impacting the individuals but also those around them. This story will encourage anyone who has a loved one battling addiction. 

View the book trailer and read an excerpt at www.chrisfabry.com. Listen to Chris Fabry’s own radio show introducing the book and asking listeners “Who is your Truman?” based on the main character of the book.


Not in the Heart by Chris Fabry (Tyndale House Publishers)

Q&A with Chris Fabry, Author of Not in the Heart

Q:   Your newest novel, Not in the Heart, faces heavy topics such as gambling addiction, capital punishment and organ donation. Where did you get your inspiration for the book?

My stories usually come from some aspect of real life. I worked in TV news with a friend who went on to work for CNN. He was the pool reporter for an execution of a man in South Carolina. That really affected him for a number of years and his views on capital punishment were altered. We have friends with a young son with a heart condition and many friends have marriages that are on the brink or have crumbled. There is also spiritual searching and gambling, so I feel it’s a pretty realistic picture of a lot of relationships.

Q:   Several of the characters in Not in the Heart deal with life changing addictions. Have you struggled with addiction in your own life?

I’ve never been diagnosed with an addiction, but I can see how most people are addicted to something. We depend on something outside of us to make us happy, give us a good feeling. I’ve had issues with food and soft drinks and sports. That’s more respectable than gambling or cocaine or alcohol, but I’m in the same boat in a lot of ways. Anything we use to make ourselves numb to reality and numb to life can restrict our relationship with God.

Q:   What encouragement would you offer to your readers who may be dealing with an addiction? What encouragement would you give to the family of an addict?

To the addict, I would say that there is hope for you. There is hope for your relationships. God offers you freedom if you will choose it. It’s not an overnight thing—it can be, but it usually isn’t. If you want freedom, you can have it.

To the family, I would say to hang in there and to love the other person well. Sometimes loving the other person means letting them go. It can look messy and not feel like love.

Q:   Is addiction usually the result of other factors going on in one’s life? What drove the addiction of the character in your book?

My main character has an addictive personality, no doubt. The factors in his life are like those in society—the more stress, the more anxiety and pain, the more likely a person is to seek something that will soothe them and help them dull that pain. For some it’s drugs or alcohol; for others it may be sex or gambling. For some it’s food. It can really be anything that takes away the intense pain that person is experiencing. I’m not an expert or a psychologist, but I’ve observed addictions in people’s lives stemming from those surface struggles, but the addictions go way deeper. 

Q:   Problem Gambling Awareness Week is March 4-10, 2012. Do you know how many Americans struggle with an addiction to gambling?

I have seen stats that say as many as 15-20 million people in the U.S. are addicted to gambling. That’s 5-7% of the entire population. And those numbers are only going to go up with the increase in availability.

Q:   You have had your own struggles over the past few years. Tell us about some of what your own family has gone through in regards to having to start over.

Our family moved into a huge home in Colorado in 2000. Soon after we started seeing some unusual physical problems that accelerated after we found mold growing behind a bathroom wall. The remediation was done incorrectly, and our problems got worse. We walked away from the house in 2008 with the clothes on our backs and moved to Arizona to get treatment. It’s been one of the most difficult things to go through, watching our children suffer, but also one of the most rewarding because we’ve seen God work in spite of our illnesses and losses.

Q:   Didn’t your children become ill as a result of the mold problem? Much like your main character, you had to watch them struggle without much you could do to help. How did you work your own experience into this story?

Six weeks after the first exposure one son contracted Type 1 diabetes, which doesn’t run in our family. Another son had ringing in one ear and, as a result of surgery to correct it, he’s now deaf in that ear. I could go on with the sicknesses of the kids but, yes, watching our kids suffer helped in writing the book. I can see why Truman would want to run away from the pain. I also met a little boy named Levi who has a heart problem, and I extrapolated the pain his parents had gone through in deciding about his surgery.

Q:   February 14th was the National Organ Donor Day. Do you know how many people in our country are waiting for an organ donor?

There are 70-80 organ transplants done every day, I believe. On the downside, about 18 people die every day awaiting an organ transplant. I’ve known several people who have undergone a transplant of a kidney or a liver, and the change in lifestyle is amazing.

Q:   What do you hope your readers will take away from reading Not in the Heart?

Love conquers all. What is done in secret will one day come to light. God is the great pursuer of our hearts and we are restless until we find our rest in Him. There is hope for even smarmy characters who set up their own morality. There is hope for the addicted.

www.chrisfabry.com 

Posted 2/24/12 at 9:43 AM | Audra Jennings

Author Denise Hunter explores the flaw in seeking favor with others

Thomas Nelson
The Accidental Bridge by Denise Hunter

Do the opinions of those around us really matter? Should we live our lives based on what others might think? In her latest release, The Accidental Bride (Thomas Nelson), award-winning author Denise Hunter explores these questions as she deftly leads her readers to discover the One whose favor should always be sought.  Skillfully creating a love story that beautifully reflects God’s grace, Hunter uses the pages of The Accidental Bride to bring to light preoccupation with caring what others think. Using complex characters, an enticing backdrop and an almost palpable range of emotion and conflict, Hunter draws her readers to a new awareness of how much more simple life becomes when we aim to please God instead of man. 

In the interview below, Denise Hunter shares more about her latest release.
Q: In The Accidental Bride, your main character, Shay is continually concerned with what others might think. Worrying about the opinions of others is a common malady in today’s society. What made you decide to write about it?
As you say, it’s so common to be worried about what others think of us. I love that quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” So true! Shay needed to realize that it’s God’s opinion that really matters. When we focus on pleasing people, we tend to make poor decisions.
Author Denise Hunter
Q: This isn’t your first novel based on the cowboy lifestyle. What drew you to this particular lifestyle as the backdrop for your writing?
I’m drawn to the rugged appeal of the cowboy lifestyle. Even though I live in a city, I’m a country girl at heart, and I especially love the mountains; that’s why I was drawn to Montana for this series. There’s something simple and beautiful about living off the land that I think appeals to readers right now. Things are tough for so many people—and though the cowboy lifestyle is a hard one—it’s also very organic, a back to our roots kind of thing.
Q: The premise of The Accidental Bride is both interesting and unique. What inspired your decision to involve your hero and heroine in an “accidental” marriage?
I was watching a TV movie in which the actors were getting married, and I wondered, “What if the actor playing the preacher was an ordained minister? Would the couple be legally married?” Turns out, it’s not quite that simple to become accidentally married. There’s the matter of a marriage license that the pastor has to sign and mail to the proper government agency. So the good news is, it’s not likely to happen to you or anyone you know. But it sure was fun instigating such an event in a novel!
Q: Before she could forgive him, Travis had to rebuild Shay’s trust. Is this a necessary step, or do you believe we should forgive even those who may never be trustworthy again?
Trust and forgiveness are two different things. Forgiveness is something God commands us to do—regardless of circumstances like whether or not the offender is apologetic or has changed, etc.
Trust is different; it’s earned. And unfortunately, it takes a long time to build trust and only one bad decision to wreck it. We forgive the offender, but if he or she doesn’t change, we aren’t required to trust the person again. It’s the offender’s responsibility—if he or she wants to be trusted again—to earn back that trust.
Q: As an award-winning romance novelist you are, no-doubt, a role model for many would-be writers. What advice would you give to those who dream of one day being published? What’s an absolute must for a great romance? 
  • First of all, I recommend aspiring writers to study and practice. Writing is a craft to be honed, and no matter how much natural talent you have, it takes both of those things to become a good writer.
  • Also, write the book you want to read. If you want to read that kind of book, there will be others who want to read it too.
  • Study the market, not so that you can jump on every trend, but so that you know how your story fits into the market.
  • Join a writers group so you can meet other writers—iron sharpens iron.
  • Once you have a marketable manuscript, go to conferences. The American Christian Writers Conference is the best out there in my opinion (www.acfw.com). At conferences, you will learn from some of the best in the industry and get a chance to pitch your work to agents and editors.
  • E-publishing is becoming huge, but don’t put a sub-par manuscript out there where it will only flounder. Hone the craft, write the best story you can, and learn to re-write. Then hire an editor. Every published author has one for a reason!
  • Getting published can be a long, uphill climb, but persistence pays off.
The Accidental Bride by Denise Hunter

Posted 2/22/12 at 11:34 AM | Audra Jennings

“Common English Bible Change Your Heart and Life” Blog Tour & Marathon to Start

An international network of bloggers will soon contribute to a 90-day blog tour for the new bestselling Common English Bible translation. The “Common English Bible Change Your Heart and Life” tour extends from February through May, honoring the Christian observances of Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, the Ascension of Jesus, and Pentecost. Complete schedule and joining information is available at http://CommonEnglishBible.com/CEB/blogtour.

In addition to the blog tour (Twitter #CEBtour), the Common English Bible National Public Reading Marathon is being synchronized for Holy Week (April 1-7) and Easter Sunday (April 8), conducted by churches, seminaries and colleges, and other organizations and streamed online. Readings will be scripture verses for the season selected from the Revised Common Lectionary(Year B). Information about groups hosting the reading marathon is available athttp://CommonEnglishBible.com/CEB/blogtour or by contactingjpetersen@somersaultgroup.com.

Churches, bloggers, and others can also share Lenten Bible readings leading up to Easter in a free PowerPoint®presentation consisting of vivid color photography of nature scenes combined with scripture verses from the Common English Bible (Twitter @CommonEngBible).

The presentation (http://www.commonenglishbible.com/CEB/LentDownloads andhttp://slideshare.net/CommonEnglishBible) is comprised of nine Bible readings to observe Ash Wednesday, each Sunday of Lent, Good Friday, and Easter. It’s flexible enough to display only portions from it or all the slides, and to present them prior to or during church services, embed in blogs and other websites, or email to friends.

Along with embedding the slide presentation, bloggers can also embed a new 60-second video (http://vimeo.com/34617547 and http://www.youtube.com/commonenglishbible), showing how the Common English Bible is an uncommon translation that clearly communicates in today’s terms God’s message of love to everyone, no matter what age, gender, station in life, or other personal outlook.

Lenten Reading PowerPoint downloads are available on the Common English Bible website. http://CommonEnglishBible.com/CEB/LentDownloads

Beginning Feb. 22 (Ash Wednesday) and running through May 27 (Pentecost), the blog tour is an opportunity for bloggers to join together in writing posts around upcoming seasonal events using the Common English Bible, including commenting on verses from it, reviewing the Bible translation itself, interviewing the translators or associate publisher behind the translation, or discussing the translation with their readers.

Participating bloggers in the tour will receive a copy of the leather-like bound Thinline Bible DecoTone Tan/Brick Red edition, suggested themes, topics, and verses on which to write, an invitation to interview Bible scholars, and badges to place on their blogs indicating their involvement. Bloggers will have the opportunity to offer to their readers a free copy of the softcover edition: one copy per week for every week the bloggers write a blogpost that includes mention of the Common English Bible during the tour. The blogger with the most number of blogposts that reference the Common English Bible at the end of the tour will receive either a Kindle Fire or a Nook Tablet (their choice). Blogposts can be in the form of text, audio, video, and photo.

The Common English Bible text, including the Apocrypha, is available to search for free online at Bible Gateway (http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Common-English-Bible-CEB/), YouVersion.com, and the translation’s website.

The Common English Bible is a collaboration of 120 Bible scholars and editors, 77 reading group leaders, and more than 500 average readers from around the world. The translators – from 24 denominations in American, African, Asian, European, and Latino communities – represent such academic institutions as Asbury Theological Seminary, Azusa Pacific University, Bethel Seminary, Denver Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, Seattle Pacific University, Wheaton College, Yale University, and many others.

The Common English Bible is written in contemporary idiom at the same reading level as the newspaper USA TODAY—using language that’s comfortable and accessible for today’s English readers. More than half-a-million copies of the Bible are already in print, including an edition with the Apocrypha. The Common English Bible is available for purchase online and in 20 digital formats. A Reference Bible edition and a Daily Companion devotional edition are now also available. Additionally, in the coming year, Church/Pew Bibles, Gift and Award Bibles, Large Print Bibles, and Children’s Bible editions will be in stores, joining the existing Thinline Bibles, Compact Thin Bibles, and Pocket-Size Bibles, bringing the total variety of Common English Bible stock-keeping units (SKUs) to more than 40.

Visit CommonEnglishBible.com to see comparison translations, learn about the translators, get free downloads, and more.

The Common English Bible is sponsored by the Common English Bible Committee, an alliance of five publishers that serve the general market, as well as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (Chalice Press), Presbyterian Church (USA) (Westminster John Knox Press), Episcopal Church (Church Publishing, Inc.), United Church of Christ (The Pilgrim Press), and The United Methodist Church (Abingdon Press).

Posted 2/17/12 at 8:29 PM | Audra Jennings

Jeffress encourages Christians to stand up for America

An Interview with Dr. Robert Jeffress,

Author of Twilight’s Last Gleaming

Twilight's Last Gleaming by Dr. Robert Jeffress

Q: Your latest book is Twilight’s Last Gleaming: How America’s Last Days Can Be Your Best Days. Explain what you mean by America’s last days.

I want to help people realize that, ultimately, we are not going to save America. America’s days are numbered, because this world’s days are numbered. But instead of reacting with despair and fear, Christians are to realize that while we cannot prevent the demise of our country, we can delay the demise of our country by being the salt and light Jesus commanded us to be. That’s really what this book is about: how Christians can be salt and light in a decaying and darkening world.

Q: You mentioned a “tide of immorality” sweeping the nation. What are some of the issues you think Christians are facing in America today?

One chapter of the book is devoted to how Christians should vote. John Jay, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court, said, “It is our duty to prefer and select Christians as our leaders.” In the Old Testament days, the spiritual direction of the country was directed by the king. If he was a righteous king, the nation was blessed by God; if he was an unrighteous king, then the nation was cursed by God. In our democracy, we get to choose our leaders. Although I’m not going to tell people who to vote for in the 2012 election, I’m going to talk about what criteria every Christian ought to use to select a candidate for office, including the President’s.

  1. Is the candidate a Christian?
  2. How would a candidate’s faith impact his policies?
  3. Do his policies align with the Bible?
  4. How does he view the Constitution?

Q: What would be your advice to Christians who are trying to navigate the current cultural terrain?

I really think Christians have gone to one of two extremes in the past. One extreme, in reaction to what has been happening in our country, is political activism—the belief that if we can just elect the right candidates and enact the right laws, we can save America. The other extreme has been political passivism. That is to say, “Well, that’s not our responsibility. We’re just to preach the gospel and leave that political stuff up to other people.” I think we’re actually to do both. I think we do, as Christians, need to stand up and push back against the tide of immorality that is sweeping our country. Instead of hunkering down and buying gold and waiting for the end to come, we ought to see that we have an unprecedented opportunity to share the gospel in these dark times.

Q: In these days of economic distress, many Americans are looking for answers. How would your book benefit those who are not necessarily Christians?

For those who aren’t Christians, it will make them realize that the only hope for our culture ultimately is faith in Jesus Christ. What I’m saying to people is that the only way to save America is by saving Americans. Just like the Statue of Liberty holds up the torch, Christians need to hold up the light of the gospel. So mainly this series is directed to Christians, to motivate them not to be angry or depressed or apathetic about our country’s situation, but to be proactive and do what God’s commanded us to do.

(Q&A adapted from an interview with The Christian Post.)

Twilight’s Last Gleaming: How America’s Last Days Can Be Your Best Days

by Robert Jeffress

Worthy Publishing / January 2012

 ISBN: 978-1-936034-58-1 / 239 pages / hardcover / $22.99

www.ptv.org

Dr. Robert Jeffress

Dr. Jeffress is the pastor of the 11,000 member First Baptist Church, Dallas and hosts a daily radio program heard on 720 stations nationwide. He regularly appears on major mainstream media outlets such as FOX News Channel’s Fox and Friends, The O’Reilly Factor, Cavuto on Business, ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN, MSNBC and Real Time with Bill Maher.

Twilight’s Last Gleaming examines how economic chaos, immorality, terrorism and global turmoil have convinced many that we are living in the twilight days of America. For everyone who wonders what can be done right now--within our culture, our churches, in the voting booth and our neighborhoods--Jeffress answers with real-world clarity, showing Christians how to seize this unprecedented opportunity. The book includes a foreword by Mike Huckabee.

Posted 2/17/12 at 8:06 PM | Audra Jennings

The path to the abundant life

What Do You Want?

Excerpt adapted from TEN: How Would You Rate Your Life by Terry A. Smith

TEN: How Would You Rate Your Life? by Terry A. Smith

I don’t think people want enough. An opinion piece in the New York Times claimed that most of our problems result from wanting too much. I couldn’t agree less. I think we should want more.

Jesus Christ said that His purpose is to give us “life—life in all its fullness” or “more and better life than [you] ever dreamed of” (John 10:10, NCV, MSG). Why would He say that if we aren’t supposed to want it?

The “more and better life than you ever dreamed of” is the future that exists in God’s mind. It’s the dream He has for us. We can tap into this dream and create a preferred future for ourselves and others.

A seminal moment in my life happened when I was eighteen years old. I spent some time with a middle-aged man who was living a relatively uneventful life. He’d experienced moderate success in a career entered on helping people. He had a nice wife and nice kids and a nice house. He was a good and decent man. I liked him a lot.

One day, in kind of a dramatic way, he tried to offer me some life advice from his personal story. “Terry,” he said, “I never asked God for too much. I just told Him I wanted a nice, quiet life and to be able to help a few people along the way. And I told God that I didn’t want to suffer too much. That’s exactly what I have.” I was only eighteen, but at that moment I knew that I wanted more. Maybe instead of telling God what was in his mind, this nice man should have asked God what was in His. I bet God was thinking more—more than this guy had ever dreamed of.

I don’t think many people launch their lives wanting to be average. Regardless, that’s where many of us land. I don’t think wanting less is our God-given first instinct. Somehow, we learn to want less along the way.

You may feel that you are living a life that is good enough. You may be well-educated, have a good job, and involved in a life-changing volunteer organization in your community. But there’s even more out there. Open to the possibility that there are dreams and purpose and meaning inside of you—opportunities you’re not yet aware of.

Or you might be someone who feels your life is not successful and are altogether unfulfilled. You are unsatisfied with how things are turning out and may not be sure if more exists. Many people are bound by a survivor’s mentality because they cannot understand the opportunity to partner with God in creating inspired futures and, ultimately, a better life for themselves, those they love, and even for the world.

In my worldview, a TEN is defined by the gospel of John, chapter TEN, verse TEN. The more and better life. Abundant life. Until we can describe the whole of our lives like this, we are experiencing less than what’s possible. I believe you can experience the best possible future.

TEN: How Would You Rate Your Life?

by Terry A. Smith

Higher Life Development Services, Inc./January 2012

ISBN: 978-1-935245-50-6/249 pages/hard cover/$24.95

View videos, read sample chapters and find out more about TEN Circle Projects at www.livingten.com.

Posted 2/14/12 at 7:36 PM | Audra Jennings

Designed to Inspire: Mother/Daughter Team Making a Difference

Roxanne and Hannah Packham

When acclaimed interior decorator Roxanne Hughes Packham began making trips to Romania with her husband to provide much needed dental care to Romanian orphans, she knew immediately she wanted to do more to help. The only question was how. Certainly her husband’s dental skills changed lives, but her own talent lay in a field she felt was far less crucial to children who would never experience the comfort of a parent’s goodnight kiss, much less the luxury of having a beautifully decorated home. She could not help but wonder how she could possibly use her own talents to make a difference in these children’s lives.

That question was answered as Roxanne began to realize that every gift of God, no matter how impractical it might appear to be, can be used to help others. Choosing to incorporate this newfound realization into a mother/daughter project that would be both enjoyable and meaningful, after much prayer and contemplation Roxanne joined with her teenage daughter, Hannah, to write Inspired Design, a stunning book with comfortable coffee-table styling that focuses on heritage and hospitality. Filled with photographs, stories and helpful guidance for celebrating one’s own personal traditions, Inspired Design is designed to inspire even the most casual reader to create a loving environment in his or her own home.

“Design without a purpose means very little to me,” Roxanne explained. “My deepest desire was to do a meaningful project with my daughter that would be more than just me instructing Hannah on how to do something. Gradually, through daily prayer, the idea of a book that we could write, photograph and style together came to me. But since we are also told that we should ‘be in the world, not of it’ I felt that meant that we should not profit monetarily from the project.”

Inspired Design, a mother/daughter project by Roxanne and Hannah Packham

Once published, the mother/daughter team made the decision to devote the proceeds from book sales to Heart of Hope Ministries International, a Portland-based ministry serving children in Romania. Providing education, vocational training and a place to live for those older children displaced from the state-run orphanages, Heart of Hope Ministries International also maintains a summer-long camp for those children of Romania’s most impoverished families.

With her original intention fulfilled, through continued prayer and reflection, Roxanne soon realized that striving to use God-given talents with excellence was a precept she not only wanted to impart to Hannah but also to teenage girls everywhere. It was through that stream of thought that Inspired31.org was born.

“At the book launch for Inspired Design,” Roxanne recalled, “the response from mothers and teenage daughters who loved the idea of our mother/daughter project was astounding. Over and over again these women and their daughters told me how touched they were by what Hannah and I had done and how they wished there was something out there to help train their daughters in the same kind of fun atmosphere the book launch had provided.

“In our culture today, being a vibrant, fun and faithful Christian woman can be quite challenging. Our goal became to change that by focusing on a variety of Christian women from a variety of venues. We didn’t just want professional speakers, per se, but rather newscasters, doctors, producers, accident survivors, homemakers, designers and bakers all coming forward to speak to the girls in a comfortable environment. In this way, we could showcase not only many different types of women God has created, but also how He uses each to touch others in a myriad of ways.

“So many teens stray from their faith in college,” Roxanne continued. “Beginning with my own daughter especially, I wanted girls everywhere to know that no matter what you choose to study and whatever field you go into you can stay solid in your beliefs and use them to the glory of Christ. Ultimately our goal at Inspired31.org is to point the girls to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, the author of their story. It is through this relationship (in prayer and reading scripture) they will discover their true purpose.”

Because so many mothers have expressed an interest in sharing projects with their daughters, new chapters of Inspired31.org are being formed across the country by women and girls eager to replicate the program in their own local church communities.   

“So many mothers and daughters and individual girls have been inspired by the different aspects,” Roxanne said. “Inspiration has come not only from the speakers, but simply through providing a place where these girls can relax and bond while learning something meaningful. The mentoring aspect of senior girls to freshman girls has been tremendous, as has the other mothers to daughters. We have also been able to take girls in who don’t have a spiritual mother figure in their lives, and that has been wonderful as well. The blessings are far beyond what we could have ever imagined.”

It is a message she and Hannah now joyfully point out to others through Inspired31.org. And through Heart of Hope Ministries International, she and Hannah are making Roxanne’s initial dream of using her God-given talents in service to others come true. Because the mother/daughter aspect of the ministry has been so successful, Roxanne and her husband, Scott, are now launching Iron27 for fathers and sons.

Today, Roxanne has transitioned from working during school hours as an interior decorator to focusing on the ministry aspects of Inspired31.org full time. She makes her home with Scott and their children, Hannah and Justin, in Southern California.

Hannah Packham is continuing her family’s long tradition of design excellence through her interest in photography. She has made mission trips to Costa Rica and Romania and was selected/participated in the Rotary International Leadership Conference. A senior in high school, Hannah is a member of the National Honor Society and is a CIF pole-vaulter.

Sample chapters and information on ordering copies of Inspired Design are available on www.InspiredDesignPublications.com. For more information regarding Inspired31.org or to learn more about beginning your own chapter, please visit www.Inspired31.org.

For weekly inspiration in combining hospitality with family, design and Christ-centered advice, see www.InspiredDesignPublications.blogspot.com for photographs, scripture and humorous anecdotes.

To learn more about how you can use your talents to help the orphans of Romania, visit Heart of Hope Ministries International at www.HeartofHope.org.

Posted 2/14/12 at 6:32 PM | Audra Jennings

The 3 Must Haves for Successful Relationships - FREE book download available

By Fred Lybrand,
author of Glaen
Glaen by Fred Lybrand

Friends who won’t speak. A husband and wife who are ‘done’ with the whole thing. Co-workers who no longer look each other in the eye. These three have far more in common than you might think.

Every year around Valentine’s Day, we all elevate our thinking about love and friendship to the sublime idea of Romantic Love. More than affection, this kind of love makes are hearts skip and keep our minds distracted. Surely all of us experience this kind of fantastic imaginary ideal at least once in our lives, if not again and again from time to time.
While romance has been romanticized, it is still the fondness and commitment that makes relationships really feel like what they are—a deep connection between two persons. All of these relationships can run aground in the sea of life. The reason for a shipwreck, however, is that what really works in a relationship is neglected.
It isn’t about love languages, or fresh ideas, or even listening (though all of these are fine). Instead, it is at the heart of Glaen’s message and it can be describe by three simple ideas.

At its core, every successful relationship has three essential elements.

  1. The Point
  2. The People
  3. The Price
The Point simply refers to what a relationship is about at its core. It is not about what you can get, what you can give, or how well two people can change one another. The point of a relationship is relating...which means connecting. We use words like bonding and being on the same wave length. In a romantic context it has as its aim a more intense version of connection called oneness. Honestly, the names don’t matter, but the point does. Relationships that work stay on point and they keep connecting together. Fights are division, coolness is distance, and silence is death. The point of connecting together can only happen in real time (that means, right now). Connecting again and again in real time is what builds strength in the bond; be it friendship, romantic love, or to team members
pitching in together at work.
The People are the second essential and refers to the influence those around us wield on our lives. Glaen says, “You’ll never be like the people you don’t hang around.” The truth is that you will drift toward the character and interests (on some level) of the people you are in the greatest connection with. This explains why getting new friends distances you from old ones. It also explains why there is a repetition of connecting with one failure after another (sorry for the bluntness). A failure to recognize this plain fact is a step toward the destruction of the relationships you have or want. Sometimes it is uncomfortable because we really need to change, but in fact, starting with a vision for the kind of person you want to be can lead you to find, keep, and grow the relationships you long to have.
The Price for successful relationships is Truth. Yes, it is telling and living the truth. “But the truth about what?” you might ask. The question itself already says you are in trouble! It is the truth as anything (and everything) comes to the forefront. It is the truth about beliefs, and goals, and faith, and politics. Why does Truth matter? Well, the simple fact is that a successful relationship is an authentic connection with another person you’d like to be like (more or less). For that connection to happen, it is absolutely necessary that you are the ‘real you’ and the other person is the ‘real them’ in the relationship. This truth-based being real means that you and they are connecting and relating and growing together as the real thing. As soon as a mask goes up, the game’s afoot. The best you can hope for without truth is a good relationship with someone you don’t really know...which, of course, isn’t a success by any measure.
For more information about Glaen: A Novel Message on Romance, Love and Relating, visit www.glaen.com

Posted 2/13/12 at 10:13 AM | Audra Jennings

MoreThan 2 Million Students Receive Gospel in Public Schools

Christian students giveThe Life Book to their classmates in public schools throughout the United States

For nearly five decades, religion has been consistently pushed out of the public school. As a result, studies show that only four-percent of today's teenagers are Bible-believing Christians. According to Carl Blunt, President and CEO of The Life Book Movement, "teenagers today represent the most Biblically illiterate generation ever in the history of the United States."

Christian students are rising to the challenge to change that dynamic. Through The Life Book Movement, over 75,000 Christian students in forty-seven states have given the gift of The Life Book to over 2 Million classmates, in school – during school.

Founded by The Gideons International, The Life Book Movement is an innovative strategy to reach high school students. The movement is a Christian mission
centered on The Life Book, a unique presentation of Scripture designed to engage
high school students with the truth of God's Word created by Carl Blunt,
president and CEO of The Life Book Movement. The Life Book presents a brief overview of the Old Testament and the Gospel of John using an interactive format with honest student comments and real-life questions in the margins. Readers are drawn into the only story that can change their lives forever. FULL POST

Posted 2/9/12 at 7:58 PM | Audra Jennings

Looking for success through God's eyes

The True Measure of a Man: How Perceptions of Success, Achievement

What do people think of me as a man? Do I measure up in their eyes as they see the choices I am making? What will happen to me if I fail at what I do? These are the questions with which men struggle. “Men so often define themselves by what they do, who they know or what they own. And when they do so, they unwittingly set themselves up for great confusion and failure in their personal lives, particularly when a major economic storm arises,” says businessman Richard E. Simmons III. In his book The True Measure of a Man: How Perceptions of Success, Achievement & Recognition Fail Men in Difficult Times, Simmons identifies these fears and seeks to help men find their true worth.

The True Measure of a Man presents new parameters, coupled with a surprising paradox, for assessing the worth of a man. The old measurements simply don’t work when times get tough. Its core message is that it’s more important to build personal qualities that can weather the storms of life than outward achievements which fall short when the bottom drops out. Using a variety of stories, illustrations and quotes, Simmons will provide men with hope, purpose, courage and determination as he encourages them to find their true identity. 

Enjoy these excerpts taken from The True Measure of a Man:

What will they think of me?

I have lived most of my life around men who are affluent and have experienced varying degrees of business success. These last nine years, as director of the Center for Executive Leadership, I have occupied the position of teacher, coach, and counselor to many of them. In the process of doing my job, they have confirmed a truth that I knew deep down to be true—an essential part of the mystique of business success is to present a corporate happy face by projecting an image of strength and competence to the outside world. As a result, many men feel a huge pressure to maintain the image that they are bulletproof, that they can handle any problem, any struggle, at any and all times.

However, I have discovered that in any man’s life, true success cannot be sustained over any extended period of time by denying the existence of internal struggles. Deeply personal issues such as identity, fear, discontentment, and depression are issues all men must deal with at some time in their lives, but generally they are at a loss as to what they should do about them.

A Daily Question

What will people think about me?

I believe that all men daily ask themselves this same question in one form or another—when they are buying a new car, moving into a certain neighborhood, joining a particular country club, or choosing those with whom they will socialize.

What we are really asking ourselves is, What do people think of me as a man? Do I measure up in their eyes as they see the choices I am making? For in today’s world, life for us as men is all about what we do and how successful we are at what we do.

Performance envy

Our culture has an obsession with performance giving us affirmation as men. In the midst of challenging times, we all have, to some degree or other, allowed ourselves to be seduced into a fog of mixed emotions. This is when we are most likely to get personal achievement confused with our value and worth as men.

When we equate our worth as human beings with our individual performances, we put our identities at grave risk. Any type of perceived failure from the perspective of an ego built on such a shaky foundation can easily lead us to conclude that our lives are not worth very much.

The person you can become

What would happen if we let the person who determines our worth be God?

Recognizing that God is the supreme and ultimate reality who stands behind all of life is crucial for all of us. Scripture is clear about this truth. We are told in Psalm 139:16:

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (author paraphrase).

In Ephesians 2:10 we learn:

We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them (author paraphrase).

Your worth as a person has to do with your value. Your value is not based on what you do but on who made you. God is telling us that He is the One who gave us our existence, our very being. We are here for a reason, for a purpose. God has a plan for our lives—a plan that is full of meaning and purpose.

Posted 2/8/12 at 10:55 AM | Audra Jennings

PowerPoint® Slides Available for Lenten Bible Readings from the Common English Bible

In time for the beginning of the centuries-old tradition of Lent on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 22), churches, bloggers, and others can now share the season’s official and coordinated Bible readings in a free PowerPoint® presentation consisting of vivid color photography of nature scenes combined with Scripture verses from the new bestselling Bible translation Common English Bible (http://CommonEnglishBible.com).

The presentation (http://CommonEnglishBible.com/CEB/LentDownloads and http://slideshare.com/CommonEnglishBible) is comprised of nine Bible readings to observe Ash Wednesday, each Sunday of Lent, Good Friday, and Easter. It’s flexible enough to display only portions from it or all the slides, and to present them prior to or during church services, embed in blogs and other websites, or email to friends. Verses are selected from the Revised Common Lectionary (Year B).

“On the church liturgical calendar, Lent is the Christian season of preparation 40 days before Easter,” says Paul Franklin, PhD, associate publisher of the Common English Bible (Twitter @CommonEngBible – http://twitter.com/CommonEngBible). “This presentation beautifully helps church leaders and others guide viewers into scripture verses they can quickly comprehend in 21st century English so they can enjoy a time of personal reflection, prayer, and a change of heart and life.”

An example is from the readings for Ash Wednesday: “Purify me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and celebration again; let the bones you crushed rejoice once more. Hide your face from my sins; wipe away all my guilty deeds! Create a clean heart for me, God; put a new, faithful spirit deep inside me!” Psalm 51:7-10 (CEB).

In addition to the PowerPoint presentation, a Lenten blog tour is being planned and a Lenten Bible reading marathon is being coordinated with churches, schools, and civic organizations (to participate, email jpetersen@somersaultgroup.com). Along with embedding the presentation, bloggers can also embed a new 60-second video (http://vimeo.com/CommonEnglishBible), showing how the Common English Bible is an uncommon translation that clearly communicates in today’s terms God’s message of love to everyone, no matter what age, gender, station in life, or other personal outlook.

The Common English Bible’s popularity has soared since it was first released last September. It’s a bestseller in Christian retail stores; people are printing its verses in calligraphy when they LIKE the Facebook page http://facebook.com/LiveTheBible; and churches are using it to read through the Bible in a year (e.g. http://www.fourthchurch.org/bibleyear.html).

The Common English Bible text, including the Apocrypha, is available to search for free online at Bible Gateway (http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Common-English-Bible-CEB/), YouVersion.com, and the translation’s website.

The Common English Bible is a collaboration of 120 Bible scholars and editors, 77 reading group leaders, and more than 500 average readers from around the world. The translators – from 24 denominations in American, African, Asian, European, and Latino communities – represent such academic institutions as Asbury Theological Seminary, Azusa Pacific University, Bethel Seminary, Denver Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, Seattle Pacific University, Wheaton College, Yale University, and many others.

The Common English Bible is written in contemporary idiom at the same reading level as the newspaper USA TODAY—using language that’s comfortable and accessible for today’s English readers. More than half-a-million copies of the Bible are already in print, including an edition with the Apocrypha. The Common English Bible is available for purchase online and in 20 digital formats. A Reference Bible edition and a Daily Companion devotional edition are now also available. Additionally, in the coming year, Church/Pew Bibles, Gift and Award Bibles, Large Print Bibles, and Children’s Bible editions will be in stores, joining the existing Thinline Bibles, Compact Thin Bibles, and Pocket-Size Bibles, bringing the total variety of Common English Bible stock-keeping units (SKUs) to more than 40.

Visit CommonEnglishBible.com to see comparison translations, learn about the translators, get free downloads, and more.

The Common English Bible is sponsored by the Common English Bible Committee, an alliance of five publishers that serve the general market, as well as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (Chalice Press), Presbyterian Church (USA) (Westminster John Knox Press), Episcopal Church (Church Publishing, Inc.), United Church of Christ (The Pilgrim Press), and The United Methodist Church (Abingdon Press).

Lenten Reading PowerPoint downloads are available on the Common English Bible website. http://CommonEnglishBible.com/CEB/LentDownloads

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