Food for the Soul
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Audra Jennings

Audra Jennings is a publicist with Litfuse Publicity Group.

Posted 5/1/12 at 5:05 PM | Audra Jennings

God’s Perfect Plans Don’t Come with No-Risk Guarantees

Wish You Were Here, the debut novel from Beth K. Vogt

Beth K. Vogt’s debut novel demonstrations how our plans are not always God’s plans for us

When Allison Denman kisses her fiancé’s brother just days before her wedding, she’s not sure which is the mistake—the kiss or the wedding. It won’t be easy, but Allison is determined to find out. In her debut novel Wish You Were Here, Beth K. Vogt provides readers with a happily ever after woven through with humor, reality, and God’s lavish grace.

In her personal life, graphic designer Allison doesn’t believe in coloring outside the lines. She’s lived her life unable to escape the pain of being considered a mistake by her father, so she is determined not to make any mistakes herself. She’s just five days away from her happily-ever-after with Seth Rayner when her well-laid plans go awry. She finds herself in a sticky situation when she impulsively kisses Seth’s older brother Daniel, the guy who has sent her silly “Wish You Were Here” postcards from his adventures around the world.

Daniel, an outdoors consultant, has had his own struggles with living up to others’ expectations. He knows he’s not his father’s favorite son, but Daniel has made a success of his life without the Rayner family influence. Independent and carefree, Daniel hasn’t had the greatest success with relationships and has long-denied his attraction to his future sister-in-law. When Allison leaves his brother at the altar, Daniel feels guilty and tries to repair the damage.

Wish You Were Here follows Allison as she tries to figure out God’s perfect plan for her. His plan doesn’t come with a no-risk guarantee and might even include a few of her mistakes. Allison’s attempts to find lasting happiness are sidetracked by Seth’s determination to renew their relationship, her growing attraction to Daniel, relocation to a llama farm, unwelcomed blind dates and an avalanche. Ultimately, Allison does find Mr. Right-for-Her, but who is it?

Vogt has had experience with her plans and God’s plans not lining up as expected. She is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction, but God had other plans for her. She decided to begin writing contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily ever after than the fairy tales tell us.

A conference and retreat speaker, Vogt speaks to moms about some of the issues that impact her characters such as how children struggle with the favoritism of their parents. She also talks about how we have to face the realities in our lives—including our struggles and mistakes—and choose to accept those, knowing God can bring good out of them.

In her presentations, she frequently addresses important current issues such as how bullying and cyber bullying start, keeping your children safe online, and how to keep your sons away from the lure of pornography.

Author Beth Vogt's debut novel Wish You Were Here

About the Author

Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. Vogt has discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.”

Vogt earned a journalism degree from San Jose State University. Her publishing credits include:Discipleship Journal, Virtue, The Christian Communicator, and Crosswalk.com. She is also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Tribute to Moms and The Mommy Diaries as well as author of Baby Changes Everything: Embracing and Preparing Motherhood after 35.

An encourager at heart, Vogt has more than 20 years experience teaching women at retreats, churches and other events, including the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers International) Convention and the Hearts at Home national and regional conferences. For several years, she edited Connections and is currently a consulting editor for MomSense magazine and writes a bimonthly column for MomsNEXT, MOPS’ ezine for moms of school-age children.

Beth and her husband Rob have been married for 31 years. They have four children, ranging in ages from 28, 25, 23 and - thanks to a funny thing happening on their way to the empty nest-an 11-year-old. The Vogt Team, which now includes a “daughter-in-love” and “son-in-love,” enjoys hiking and camping in Colorado.

Visit her online home at http://bethvogt.com.

(Howard Books/May 1, 2012/ISBN: 978-1451659863/$14.99)

Posted 4/30/12 at 7:55 PM | Audra Jennings

With God, It’s Never Too Late to Be Your Best You

Julie Ziglar Norman encourages audiences to put away their shame and regret

and to live the life of hope that God has planned for them.

Growing Up Ziglar by Judy Ziglar Norman

Julie Ziglar Norman often says her dad is the king of “doing life right” and she is the poster child for “doing life wrong.” In Growing Up Ziglar: A Daughter’s Broken Journey from Heartache to Hope(Guideposts/May 1, 2012/ ISBN 978-0-8249-4531-2/$14.99), Norman shares how for 25 years she lived every day with regret, shame, guilt, and depression while trying to keep up the positive outer appearance that was expected of her as the daughter of popular motivational author and speaker Zig Ziglar.

Although her father was not well known until she was in her late teens, he always emphasized being positive. “When I talk about what it was like growing up with Mr. Positive Attitude himself, I enjoy teasing about waking up to an ‘opportunity clock’ instead of an alarm clock,” says Norman. “Daddy has always been positive and looked on the bright side, and he brought lots of joy and laughter into our home. He was and is a fun and loving father who always has a good story and lots of hugs and kisses for his children.” FULL POST

Posted 4/2/12 at 4:26 PM | Audra Jennings

New Book Commemorates the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic

By the Light of the Silvery Moon combines historical accuracy with a story of love and redemption

Barbour Publishing
By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer

When the Titanic left Southampton on April 10, 1912, the world was fascinated with its size, the luxury, the symbol of prominence for the wealthy onboard, and the promise for the emigrants hoping for a better future in America. For the past 100 years since its sinking on April 15, 1912, the world has been consumed with how a ship deemed unsinkable sank, the artifacts at the bottom of the ocean, the stories of the people on board, and the history the ship held. In commemoration of this landmark anniversary, award-winning author Tricia Goyer has released By the Light of the Silvery Moon (Barbour Publishing/March 2012/ISBN 978-1-61626-551-9).

When the Titanic movie first came out in 1997, Goyer, like most of America, became fascinated with the tragedy. “The movie captured my attention. Yes, there was a love story, but the ship of dreams fascinated me even more. I checked out many books at the library and bought others on the Titanic. I didn't think of writing a novel about it. Still, I carried a love inside for that amazing ship and its passengers,” says Goyer.

Around that same time, Goyer had been working on the idea for a novel centering on a contemporary retelling of the prodigal son. While the idea did not go farther than the prologue at the time, she kept the idea in the back of her mind. Fifteen years later, when her publisher approached her about the possibility of writing a book to mark the anniversary of the Titanic, Goyer was excited about the opportunity and realized that it was time to merge the two ideas together in a unique, faith-filled tale of love and reconciliation.

By the Light of the Silvery Moon tells the story of Amelia Gladstone whose mind is filled with promise as she gazes at the marvelous new ship, ready for its maiden voyage. The Titanic holds the promise of a reunited family and of possible love waiting on American shores.

Down-and-out after squandering his fortune, Quentin Walpole thought his voyage to America ended on the Southampton pier. Then a sweet lady—his angel of mercy named Amelia—secured his passage with a spare ticket. Now he’s headed to America, eager for a second chance.

But once the voyage begins, the past confronts Quentin when he discovers that his wealthy railroad tycoon father and older brother Damien are also on board. As Amelia tries to bring about reconciliation between father and son, she suddenly finds herself the center of both brothers’ attention with a choice to make: Who can she trust with her heart? Will Amelia’s fate ultimately be one of love or loss?

Goyer’s extensive research from books, documentaries and visiting a museum dedicated to the ship all contribute to making By the Light of the Silvery amazingly historically accurate. With her beautiful gift of storytelling, readers are sure to feel that they have been transported back 100 years to the fateful night that changed the lives of all onboard the “Ship of Dreams.”

About the Author: 

Tricia Goyer is the award winning author of thirty-two books including Beside Still Waters, Remembering You, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences and is the host of Living Inspired. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

To learn more about Tricia, visit Living Inspired and www.triciagoyer.com.

Posted 2/29/12 at 9:44 AM | Audra Jennings

Reclaiming the Rite of Passage for your Daughters

From Girl to Woman...

Reclaiming the Rite of Passage for Girls through a Blessing Tea

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

Are you ever a bit envious of our friends from other cultures and faiths who honor their children turning into young adults?  As Christians, we may not hold Bar or Bat Mitzvahs on their 13th birthdays as in the Jewish tradition or Quinceaneras on our daughter’s 15th birthday like those of Hispanic heritage, but we can certainly recapture the spirit of this unique age by commemorating this milestone with a Christ-centered celebration. While many American families are throwing slumber parties for their 13 year olds, one woman in California decided to throw a “Blessing Tea” for her daughter—and the trend is taking off among Christians.  

Roxanne Packham, President of InspiredDesign Ministries, had the idea several years ago to put on a “Blessing Tea” for her then 13-year-old daughter. The concept is taken from the Jewish tradition of celebrating this momentous year of “becoming a woman” with a huge party, centered on the Jewish Scriptures. Roxanne invited several of the most influential Christian women in Hannah’s life (mentors) to join them for a tea to honor her daughter. While she used her love for table decorating to create a beautiful environment, the real beauty lay in the hearts of the women who came to “bless” Hannah.  Each special mentor woman shared a note/letter to Hannah. The notes included encouraging words, favorite memories, prophetic insights, special scriptures, and wise teaching/advice for the teenage years. This day served to cement in Hannah’s mind who “had her back”, who loves her, who will be there for her in the future and a memory that she could take with her into her high school years which are so often filled with identity-searching and emotional struggles.

Roxanne and Hannah Packham

The concept of a Blessing Tea began to take off in homes of people who had heard of Roxanne’s experience.  One woman Camille, a long time friend of Roxanne’s, loved the idea so much she has now done it with two of her teenage daughters.  She added an additional layer of giving each of the mentors their own blessing and scripture as a way to honor the women who have helped to guide and shape her daughters spiritually.  According to Roxanne, “Especiallybecause I only have one daughter, I wanted to make the most of every moment of her life.  I was inspired to use my gift for creating a beautiful table and practicing hospitality with my love for my daughter.  My biggest desire was to create an environment where very dear Christian women could pour into my daughter blessings and encouragement to carry her through the next phase in her life.  Often, a mother’s impact alone only goes so far!”

Roxanne’s book Inspired Design has a chapter about this Blessing Tea and serves as inspiration for other mothers looking to recapture the age old tradition of “coming of age” for young women.  Currently, Roxanne is overseeing two nonprofit organizations:  Inspired Design and Inspired31.org. Inspired Design strives to inspire women to find joy in the practice of hospitality, grow closer with their Designer, and discover the true beauty of the home—ultimately only found in the heart of the woman.  By providing inspiring speakers, books, and practical resources, Inspired Design aims to empower women to unleash their creativity in their homes for the purpose of blessing others.  Inspired31.org is a unique mother/teenage daughter organization, which aims to inspire teenage girls, mothers and others to find, follow and celebrate God’s vision for their lives.  By providing inspirational quality speakers and a friendly environment in the form of casual afternoon teas, these teen girls are exposed to authentic role models who are making a difference in the world and offer an alternative vision to the pop culture icons of today.  Proceeds of her book sales all go to fund the Heart of Hope Ministries International who provide love and resources to orphans in Romania.

For speaking engagements or to order the book, please visit: http://www.inspireddesignpublications.blogspot.com/.

Inspired Design is a 501(c)(3) organization.  Our vision is to inspire women to practice hospitality, celebrate their family legacy, and discover the true beauty of the home through speaking engagements, books, seminars and practical resources.  Inspired31.orgis a unique mother/teenage daughter organization whose mission is to inspire teenage girls, mothers and others to find, follow and celebrate God’s vision for their lives.  All proceeds from Inspired Design sales go to support Heart of Hope Ministries International, an outreach to orphans in Romania. 

Posted 2/27/12 at 7:48 PM | Audra Jennings

Everyone needs eternal hope

An interview with Carl Kerby, author of

Reasons for Hope in the Mosaic of Your Life

(Part 2)

Carl Kerby, author of Reasons for Hope in the Mosaic of Your Life

In Reasons for Hope in the Mosaic of Your Life, author Carl Kerby examines how life is often not picture-perfect, and difficult times can make it hard to see a plan or purpose for our lives. No matter what your circumstances, God can gather up the broken pieces and random elements of your life and form them into a beautiful mosaic—making you a useful vessel for His glory.

Q: You mention that America is such a blessed nation, yet many are experiencing hopelessness and despair. What can the Church do about that?

Compared to other countries, America is a blessed nation, to say the least. Yet in the midst of our prosperity, we see waves of hopelessness crashing all around us—increasing rates of divorce, sexual perversion, depression, suicide, etc. Something is definitely not right in America.

It’s estimated that the U.S. has nearly 400,000 churches. If those churches were filled with folks who truly believed what they said they believed and whose lives reflected those beliefs, it would be having a tremendous impact across our nation. We need bold individuals living out what they believe. Why? Because everyone needs hope.

But there is a big difference between temporal (earthly) hope and eternal (heavenly) hope. Many people try to find hope by placing their trust in individuals, relationships, status, or material things. The truth is, only those of us who know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior know what it’s like to have an eternal, all-sufficient hope that will never disappoint. People desperately need God’s hope and redemption. So why are Christians too embarrassed or afraid to share their faith?

Reasons for Hope In the Mosaic of Your Life by Carl Kerby

Q: Your book devotes a whole section to apologetics. What is apologetics, and why does it matter to the average Christian?

Apologetics is simply giving reasonable explanations for our faith. We should be able to state clearly what we believe and why we believe it. In 1 Peter 3:15, God is not suggesting, He is commanding that all Christians be prepared to give reasons for our hope to everyone who asks us.

When Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” it showed He expected His followers to be talking with people about spiritual issues and telling them how they can have hope. Everyone needs to know the only source of true hope—for this life and for the next.

So that we can offer people answers from a biblical perspective, the book addresses topics like evolution, suffering, dinosaurs, absolute truth, and other common questions.

Q: A recurring theme in your book—and ministry—is the priority of God’s Word. Why is that a major emphasis for you?

The Bible isn’t a book of fairy tales or fables simply dealing with spiritual and moral issues. It is actually the most accurate history book ever written, from the only One who’s always been there and who knows everything that has ever happened in this world.

The Word of God addresses how to handle all kinds of issues in every area of life. It teaches us how to develop godly relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children. It teaches that life is not about us and our interests, but about God and His plan.

I want to challenge people with the knowledge that the Word of God, from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation, has all the answers we need today—not only for doctrine, but for our daily lives.

Q: Matt Butler (NewSong) said that your book “urges readers to take belief in the Bible seriously and to be intentional about passing on that legacy to the next generation.” What advice do you give on how to do that?

When I asked questions as a kid, adults often pawned me off on a pastor or teacher to get the answer, or told me, “Shh! Good boys don’t ask those questions!” When my kids were young, I realized I was doing the same thing—pawning them off on somebody else because I didn’t have the answers. But it hit me: as a Christian, I have to know the answers. I am responsible. I was challenged as a parent to realize that if I didn’t provide answers for my son and daughter, I was communicating a wrong message: that their questions didn’t matter and the Bible had a very limited application.

I often hear complaints about how the government or public schools are causing children to rebel and walk away from God. But the problem doesn’t start in the White House, the schoolhouse, or even the church house. The problem starts in our house. If we’re losing 50–88% of the children raised in Christian homes to the world, we have to quit blaming everybody else and do something about it.

The Bible says it’s primarily the job of fathers to instill biblical values in their children and teach them to love and serve God. When we abdicate that responsibility to other people or institutions, trust me: we will not like the outcome. Unfortunately, we often focus more on helping our kids excel at sports, academics, and other activities than we do on helping them live godly lives.

Reasons for Hope in the Mosaic of Your Life by Carl Kerby

Genesis Publishing Group/December 15, 2011

To learn more about Reasons for Hope* visit www.rforh.com.

Posted 2/27/12 at 7:00 PM | Audra Jennings

Vibrant Bible Story Book Draws Children In

The Gospel Story Bible by Marty Machowski (New Growth Press)

An Interview with Marty Machowski, author of The Gospel Story Bible

Marty Machowski has written The Gospel Story Bible (New Growth Press) as a way for families to share Bible stories together, meet Jesus and learn together a new, life-changing way of recognizing him as the hero of every story. Based on the ESV Bible, this unique, illustrated Bible storybook uses 156 stories to present God’s plan of salvation in Christ from its opening narrative in Genesis to its finale in Revelation. The Gospel Story Bible is one of the many products now available in the Gospel Story for Kids series.

Q: What age groups do you think will benefit the most by reading The Gospel Story Bible?

The Gospel Story Bible was written for parents to read to their children. Children as young as two-years-old will enjoy listing to the stories and children as old as 5th grade still enjoy hearing a story read to them.  Rather than produce an early reader Bible that children can learn to read through, we wanted to preserve the more sophisticated details in the stories.  As a result, older children can benefit from the Gospel Story Bible too! 

The last paragraph of each story is a short commentary on the story, helping the reader connect the story to God’s larger plan of redemption.  So, even teens can learn a basic biblical theology by reading through the Gospel Story Bible.

Marty Machowski, author of the Gospel Story Bible

Q: How can readers learn to recognize Jesus as the hero of their own personal stories, no matter how mundane or ordinary?

Everyone, both young and old, needs the salvation that only Jesus can provide.  We are all lost in our sin like the Israelites.  We all need a Savior.  Reading through the Gospel Story Bible helps you to recognize and understand how the Gospel is interwoven through the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.  Knowing the scope of God’s plan of redemption helps you see how your life connects to that plan as well.

Q: In what ways does the Old Testament point forward to God’s story of salvation through Jesus Christ?

Every Old Testament Story is pointing forward to God’s plan of redemption in some way.  From God sacrificing an animal to make clothes to cover Adam and Eve, through the last prophecy of a coming redeemer, each story points us to Jesus. 

Too often these same Bible stories are moralized.  So many children grew up thinking the story of David and Goliath, for example, is in the Bible to help us conquer the giants in our own lives.  But really that is not why God put that story in the Bible.  David steps in as a deliverer when all of Israel sinfully refused to do what God called them to do, fight the Philistines.

David accepts Goliath’s challenge and so becomes Israel’s representative head to fight Goliath.  If David wins, all of Israel wins, and the Philistines become their slaves.  In that role David is a picture of Jesus who came as our representative head to deliver us from our enemies, sin and death.  Jesus came in the family line of David and Jesus came as a king in the royal line of King David.  The story of David and Goliath is meant to point us to God’s future plan to send a Davidic King to deliver us from our great enemies.

Every lamb sacrificed points us to Jesus, the Lamb of God, who died on the cross for our sins.  Every deliverer points us to Jesus our Savior.  Every undeserved blessing toward Israel points to the grace of God in bringing us a salvation we don’t deserve. 

Q: How important are the colorful illustrations in drawing children to read the stories? 

Ann Macha has done a fabulous job in concert with the art direction of the New Growth Press team.  The Gospel Story Bible has the most colorful illustrations I have ever seen in any children’s book period!  Children are drawn to the illustrations.  Parents reading the Gospel Story Bible to their children can expect children to stay focused on the page because the illustrations draw their eye.

In addition to the illustrations each story has a “Let’s talk about it” section which gives parents three questions they can ask their children for every story.  These questions turn the Gospel Story Bible into a family devotional tool. 

The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments by Marty Machowski

New Growth Press/November 2011

ISBN 978-1-936768-12-7/328 pages/hardcover/$24.99

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.

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