Books

CP Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).

Posted 10/5/17 at 11:09 AM | Audra Jennings

Have you invited Jesus to His party?

Melissa Spoelstra helps readers make over the Christmas season and celebrate with purpose

Abingdon Press
Total Christmas Makeover by Melissa Spoelstra

In the bustle of the Christmas season, it can be easy to get swept up in all of the things to do: decorating, cooking, socializing, and shopping. However, it is important to pause and remember the priority should be to spend time celebrating Christ’s birth and not forgetting to invite Jesus to His own party. In Total Christmas Makeover: 31 Devotions to Celebrate with Purpose (Abingdon Press/October 3, 2017/ ISBN 9781501848704/$16.99), Melissa Spoelstra provides a practical approach for helping families learn what it means to truly celebrate the Savior.

“A total Christmas makeover doesn’t mean scrapping all your holiday traditions or adding ten more to your list. Instead, it is a personal time of reflection to evaluate how your Christmas practices align with some biblical concepts of celebration,” explains Spoelstra. “Passover, festivals, and feasts were instituted by God to help His people remember who He is and what He has done. While we have no such specifics given for our celebration of Christ’s birth because it comes from church history rather than biblical mandate, we can glean some important principles about celebration from Scripture.”

As Spoelstra studied the Book of Numbers while writing her Bible study on the topic, she noticed three elements included in the festivities and began thinking about how she could apply them to her personal Christmas celebrations. She shares those revelations with readers and devotes a section of the book to each:

Ritual: Special activities out of the ordinary routine were planned to help remember what God has done.
Relationships: Time spent together preparing special foods, eating, gathering in holy assembly, and explaining traditions to children.
Rest: Regular work set aside for planned times of celebration and rest from activity to allow for reflection on God.

The 31 reflections in Total Christmas Makeover focus on prioritizing the rituals, relationships and rest that will draw readers nearer to Christ while celebrating His birth. Each reading contains key scriptures, thought-provoking questions to ponder, as well as practical ideas to implement, helping to reimagine the holiday and then prepare for the year ahead. Mindfully taking the time to listen to how God continues to speak through the Gospel narratives centered around the birth of Jesus provides encouragement and revelation concerning the love of God and His wisdom for us today.

Christmas is far more than a celebration of an event from long ago or a modern holiday centered around shopping. However, that doesn’t mean the gift-giving aspect of Christmas doesn’t have meaning. “The wise men brought gifts, and Jesus is the greatest gift to us,” reminds Spoelstra. “Giving gifts is a tradition to remind us of our generous God. Dialoguing about the tradition of gifts and taking time to include our families in being generous to others help realign us in remembering the greatest gifts usually aren’t bought in a store. People, peace, contentment and forgiveness are all gifts. Shopping for a needy family, reading about missionaries and starting traditions of gratitude help us rediscover the joy of giving and receiving.”

A Christmas makeover doesn’t mean changing all traditions and habits throughout the holiday season to completely adopt new ones. However, it might mean prioritizing the traditions pointing to Christ’s birth, rediscovering the intent behind treasured practices, or incorporating new rituals to help share God’s message of love.

Advance Praise

“Christmas is meant to be cherished and celebrated, not barely survived due to stress. Total Christmas Makeover will help you focus on Jesus, directing your heart to the loving Savior who came to earth. With many practical applications, your Christmas season will become much more meaningful and rich after reading Spoelstra’s book.”
~ Arlene Pellicane, speaker and author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom

“Are you tired of just letting Christmas happen at your home — and praying merely to survive? No more! Now you and I can be absolutely intentional about embracing all the fun, faith, family and friendships of this amazing holy season. Melissa Spoelstra’s Total Christmas Makeover gently guides us through everything seasonal around music, food, scripture reading, extended family gatherings, serving and especially how to rest in the midst of it all.”
~ Lucinda Secrest McDowell, author of Ordinary Graces and Dwelling Places

“How many times I’ve said, ‘This Christmas I want to keep my focus off of presents and onto His presence, off of the craziness and onto the stillness, away from commercialism and nestled in the arms of God.’ Melissa Spoelstra has given us the perfect 31-day companion to make this desire a reality.”
~ Laurie Polich Short, author of When Changing Nothing Changes Everything

About the Author

Melissa Spoelstra, author of Total Christmas Makeover

Melissa Spoelstra is a popular women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher and writer who is madly in love with Jesus and passionate about helping women of all ages to seek Christ and know Him more intimately through serious Bible study. She has a deep, abiding passion for studying God’s word and teaching others to do the same.

Spoelstra holds a Bachelor of Arts in Bible Theology from Moody Bible Institute and enjoys teaching God's Word to diverse groups and churches within the body of Christ. She is the author several Bible studies, including Numbers: Learning Contentment in a Culture of More, First Corinthians: Living Love When We Disagree, Joseph: The Journey to Forgiveness and Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Unstable World. She is also the author of two books – Total Christmas Makeover: 31 Devotions to Celebrate with Purpose and the Mom's Choice Award-winning Total Family Makeover: 8 Steps to Making Disciples at Home.

Spoelstra describes herself as a small-town girl from East Texas, but she now resides Dublin, Ohio, with her church planter/pastor husband of more than 20 years and their four children.

To keep up with Melissa Spoelstra, visit melissaspoelstra.com. You can also follow her on Facebook (AuthorMelissaSpolestra) and Twitter (@MelSpoelstra).

Posted 10/4/17 at 12:38 PM | Audra Jennings

Randy Singer’s latest release is equal parts legal, political and military thriller

Part 1 of an interview with Randy Singer,
Author of Rule of Law

Tyndale
Rule of Law by Randy Singer

In a world of political accusations and threats of war, what does the public need to know, and what is better left unsaid for our own protection? Are our leaders following the Rule of Law or acting outside it? In his latest legal thriller, Rule of Law (Tyndale House Publishers/September 5, 2017), award-winning author and attorney Randy Singer weaves a gripping page-turner that explores the inner workings of the White House, the CIA and the State Department in dealings with foreign governments. Drawing from one of his own recent cases, Singer gives readers a glimpse of what is really going on behind the headlines of today’s international events.

Q: In the author’s note of Rule of Law you explain you wrote the book to address some critical issues lurking on the horizon. What are some concerns you have that Americans should be aware of? FULL POST

Posted 10/3/17 at 10:28 AM | Audra Jennings

Of more value than many sparrows

Part 1 of an interview with Lori Benton,
Author of Many Sparrows

WaterBrook Press
Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

Understanding why some things happen the way they do is impossible, but as Christians, we must remember God is in control and His timing is perfect. His purposes are deeper and broader than we can imagine. These are lessons Clare Inglesby must learn in award-winning author Lori Benton’s latest historical novel, Many Sparrows (WaterBrook).

Set in 1774 and based on historical facts, Many Sparrows depicts the harrowing account of a young mother who will stop at nothing to find and reclaim her son after he is taken by a native tribe.

Q: Without giving away too much of the story, can you share where the title Many Sparrows comes from? FULL POST

Posted 10/3/17 at 10:19 AM | Audra Jennings

How would your life be different if you grew up in another family?

Part 1 of an interview with Cindy Woodsmall,
Author of Gathering the Threads

WaterBrook
Gathering the Threads by Cindy Woodsmall

How different would your belief system be if you grew up in a different culture? Would your faith in God be the same if you were raised in a different family? New York Times best-selling author Cindy Woodsmall poses these questions in the powerful conclusion to the CBA and ECPA bestselling Amish of Summer Grove series in Gathering the Threads (WaterBrook/August 15, 2017).

Q: The Amish of Summer Grove series introduces readers to a pair of girls, one Englisch and one Amish, who were switched at birth. What are some of the challenges each faced when pushed to experience the life she would have lived had the switch never taken place? FULL POST

Posted 9/29/17 at 10:59 AM | Audra Jennings

Lessons in how to live and how to die

Becky Baudouin shares priceless lessons her mother revealed during her battle with cancer

“I’ve taught you how to live; now I want to teach you how to die. You don’t have to be afraid.” When Becky Baudouin’s mother spoke those words to her, they weren't said lightly. Her mother had an inoperable tumor — and after months of treatment, there was no hope for a longer life. There was, however, assurance of everlasting life. In Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy: What My Mother Taught Me About How to Live and How to Die (Kregel Publications/September 26, 2017/ISBN: 9780825444746/$14.99), Baudouin shares the invaluable wisdom imparted by her mother during her final days.

Upon learning of her mother’s diagnosis, Baudouin made a decision she knew she would not regret. “I decided to rearrange my priorities so I could show up and be fully present with my mom during her illness. I knew I needed to pull back from some of the groups and activities I was in so I would have the energy and time to take care of myself and my family and to take frequent trips to be with my mom. I realized I had limited time and resources and knew it was a season that wouldn’t last forever.” FULL POST

Posted 9/28/17 at 11:20 AM | Audra Jennings

Where does your anchor lie?

Micah Maddox helps readers experience a power-full life in a problem-filled world

The world is rife with global and personal crises. News outlets report one troubling development after another. Within the home, studies reveal half of Americans feel financially insecure, more than half are unhappy in their jobs and divorce rates escalate with each subsequent marriage. When problems abound, it can feel as if God is far away. However, as Micah Maddox explains in Anchored In: Experience a Power-Full Life in a Problem-Filled World (Abingdon Press/September 5, 2017/ISBN 978-1501848674/$16.99), these same trials can bring us closer to God if we change our way of thinking and focus on Him.

“Every day, we all anchor our lives in something. Sometimes we anchor our lives in our work, mothering, goals, desires and sometimes even our problems. I’ve learned I often allow my problems to take the center stage of my thinking and my life,” Maddox confesses. “Anytime we allow anything other than God to take the focus of our hearts and minds, we are not living in the power God has provided for us to live in. God is teaching me that living anchored in His presence is the only way to experience His power. Living anchored in means we willingly set aside every circumstance and problem of our lives and fully focus our hearts, minds and souls on the Savior, the Anchor.” FULL POST

Posted 9/28/17 at 11:14 AM | Audra Jennings

Are the leaders of our country undercutting the Rule of Law?

Randy Singer’s latest release is equal parts legal, political and military thriller

In a world of political accusations and threats of war, what does the public need to know, and what is better left unsaid for our own protection? Are our leaders following the Rule of Law or acting outside it? In his latest legal thriller, Rule of Law (Tyndale House Publishers/September 5, 2017/HC ISBN 978-1-4964-1815-9 $24.99/SC ISBN 978-1-4964-1816-6 $15.99), award-winning author and attorney Randy Singer weaves a gripping page-turner that explores the inner workings of the White House, the CIA and the State Department in dealings with foreign governments. Drawing from one of his own recent cases, Singer gives readers a glimpse of what is really going on behind the headlines of today’s international events.

Equal parts legal, political and military thriller, the story begins with a SEAL raid on a Yemen prison. For the members of SEAL Team Six, it was a rare presidential mission, monitored in real time from the Situation Room. The Houthi rebels had captured an American journalist and a member of the Saudi royal family. Their executions were scheduled for Easter Sunday, but the SEAL team would break them out. FULL POST

Posted 9/27/17 at 11:33 AM | Audra Jennings

It is never too late to restore broken relationships

Sawyer tells the story of three generations of women shaped by an unsolved mystery

Mother-daughter relationships can be complicated. When secrets from the past are involved, the best of intentions can be entirely misunderstood. Bringing Maggie Home (WaterBrook/September 5, 2017/ISBN 978-0735290037/$14.99) by award-winning author Kim Vogel Sawyer explores the hearts of three generations of women whose lives have been shaped by the 70-year-old unsolved mystery of 3-year-old Maggie Blackwell.

Hazel DeFord was just 10 years old when her younger sister Maggie vanished while they were picking blackberries one afternoon. However, her guilt over the incident has shaped her entire life, particularly in her relationship with her daughter Diane. Hazel’s inexplicable eccentricities, unexplained overprotectiveness and constant paranoia drove a wedge between the two women.

When Diane became a parent, she was determined not to imitate the close hold her mother held on her. In fact, she gave her daughter, Meghan, such free rein that Meghan sometimes questioned whether her mother really loved her. Though neither woman had a good relationship with their own mother, Meghan has built a cherished relationship with her aging grandmother who lavishes her with attention and affection.

When a traffic accident forces Meghan to take a leave of absence from her job as a cold case investigator, the three women find themselves living under the same roof for the first time. In these close quarters, the painful secrets and hidden traumas of their past are exposed. Will Meghan be able to use her investigative prowess to solve what happened to Maggie, the family mystery that has been haunting Hazel for 70 years? Will finding the answers help all the women recover what’s been lost? Each woman must contend with the healing presence only God can offer to restore deeply wounded relationships.

“I hope readers will come away with a fresh realization it is never too late to restore broken relationships,” Sawyer explains. “God is in the mending business! He’s the Great Healer. Whether the scars are emotional or spiritual, He wants us to be whole so we can trust Him to bring us to healing when we place ourselves in His hands and let Him lead.”

Sawyer, in her characteristically heartfelt and gentle style, deftly handles the complexity of how past actions influence present circumstances. “Our past does affect our present,” says Sawyer. “[But] God can make beauty out of the ashes of our past when we fully give ourselves to Him.”

For more on Bringing Maggie Home, including the first chapter excerpt, visit www.waterbrookmultnomah.com.

Learn more about Sawyer and her books at www.kimvogelsawyer.com, on Facebook (KimVogelSawyer.Author.Speaker) or by following her on Twitter (KimVogelSawyer).

Advance Praise

Bringing Maggie Home is beautiful, deep and engaging! Don’t miss out on this powerful and emotive story.”
~ Cindy Woodsmall, New York Times best-selling author

“In Bringing Maggie Home, Kim Vogel Sawyer has once again woven a story so rich and unforgettable that it leaves her readers both satisfied and hungering for more. Her storytelling ability invites her readers into each
scene. We laugh and cry, squirm and ache with the characters as if they were family members . . . even the absent ones.”
~ Cynthia Ruchti, author of more than 20 books, including A Fragile Hope and As My Parents Age

About the Author

Kim Vogel Sawyer is a highly acclaimed, best-selling author with more than one million books in print, in several different languages. Her titles have earned numerous accolades, including the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.

Sawyer told her kindergarten teacher someday people would check out her books in libraries. That little girl’s dream came true in 2006 with the release of Waiting for Summer’s Return. Since then, Sawyer has watched God expand her dream beyond her childhood imaginings.

Sawyer lives in central Kansas with her retired military husband, Don, where she continues to write gentle stories of hope and redemption. She enjoys spending time with her three daughters and grandchildren.

For more information about Sawyer and her books, visit her online home at www.kimvogelsawyer.com. She is also active on Facebook (KimVogelSawyer.Author.Speaker) and Twitter (KimVogelSawyer).

Posted 9/27/17 at 11:27 AM | Audra Jennings

In God’s eyes, we are of equal and priceless

Lori Benton's Many Sparrows reminds readers of God’s power and perfect timing

Understanding why some things happen the way they do is impossible, but as Christians, we must remember God is in control and His timing is perfect. His purposes are deeper and broader than we can imagine. These are lessons Clare Inglesby must learn in award-winning author Lori Benton’s latest historical novel, Many Sparrows (WaterBrook/August 29, 2017/ISBN 978-1601429940/$15.99).

Set in 1774 and based on historical facts, Many Sparrows depicts the harrowing account of a young mother who will stop at nothing to find and reclaim her son after he is taken by a native tribe. Clare Inglesby, a settler of the Ohio-Kentucky frontier, finds herself in a perilous situation when an accident forces her husband to leave her alone on a remote mountain trail with their four-year-old son, Jacob. Her precarious circumstances only intensify when Jacob is taken by the Shawnee under the cover of darkness. Clare awakens the next morning to find herself utterly alone and in labor.

Clare will face the greatest fight of her life as she struggles to reclaim her son from the Shawnee Indians now holding him captive. However, with the battle lines sharply drawn following a conflict between the Shawnee and new settlers, Jacob’s life might not be the only one at stake.

Frontiersman and adopted Shawnee Jeremiah Ring comes to Clare’s aid and promises to help her recover her son. However, his deep familial connection to the Shawnee makes his promise more complicated and the consequences more painful than either party could anticipate. Can Jeremiah convince Clare that recovering her son will require the very thing her anguished heart is unwilling to do — be still, wait and let God fight this battle for them?

Benton deftly handles the moral complexity of the two ways of life that clashed against each other as colonists encroached upon Native American territories on the Ohio-Kentucky border. “I was inspired to write it by my research into the 18th century and also by what God’s been doing in my own heart in recent years,” Benton shares. “I hope to convey [in Many Sparrows] a picture of what it means not to rely on our own understanding and strength, but wait on the Lord to work on our behalf.”

According to Benton, the title of Many Sparrows has several meanings. “It’s taken from Matthew 10:29–31, ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And not one of them shall fall on the ground without your Father. . . . Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows,’” she explains. “The title speaks to the theme of God’s vigilance in our lives and His constant care for us, as well as the fact we are linked to one another. In God’s eyes we are of equal and priceless value — far more than many sparrows, each and every one.”

For more on Many Sparrows, visit www.waterbrookmultnomah.com.

Advance Praise

“Stunning. Many Sparrows is everything I want in a book: settings that spring to life, characters I love, rich historical context, heart-wrenching drama, timeless spiritual insights and prose that reads like poetry. Lori Benton handles the conflicted 18th century with sensitivity in this tender tale of hope and fear, faith and doubt, loss and new life. Truly, this is an inspired masterpiece sure to stir the soul.”
~ Jocelyn Green, award-winning author of The Mark of the King

“Intense. Enlightening. Lustrous. Many Sparrows is a lesson in early American history wrapped up in a beautiful romance, one not only of the human heart but of God’s heart for His creation. I cherished Clare and Jeremiah’s quietly blossoming love and deeply felt their struggle to trust and reach that painful yet unburdening place of surrender. Many sighs. And many thanks to the author.”
~ Tamara Leigh, USA Today best-selling author of The Vexing and Lady Betrayed

About the Author

Lori Benton was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American history going back 300 years. Her novels transport readers to the 18th century, where she brings the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history to life.

She is the author of Burning Sky (recipient of three Christy Awards), The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, The Wood’s Edge (a Christy nominee) and A Flight of Arrows. Her latest release is Many Sparrows.

When Benton isn’t writing, reading or researching, she enjoys exploring the Oregon wilderness with her husband.

Learn more about Benton and her books at http://loribenton.blogspot.com. She is also active on Facebook (@AuthorLoriBenton), Twitter (@LLB26) and Instagram (@lorilbenton).

Posted 9/13/17 at 2:19 PM | Audra Jennings

What makes us who we are?

Cindy Woodsmall releases the powerful conclusion to the Amish of Summer Grove series

WaterBrook
Gathering the Threads by Cindy Woodsmall

How different would your belief system be if you grew up in a different culture? Would your faith in God be the same if you were raised in a different family? New York Times best-selling author Cindy Woodsmall poses these questions in the powerful conclusion to the CBA and ECPA bestselling Amish of Summer Grove series in Gathering the Threads (WaterBrook/August 15, 2017/ISBN 978-1601427038/$14.99).

Woodsmall’s latest series introduces readers to two young women, one Englisch and one Amish, who were switched at birth and follows them as they discover what their lives would have been like had the switch never taken place. In Gathering the Threads, Woodsmall deftly weaves complex issues of identity into the story. What makes us who we are? Are we simply a result of our genetic ancestry? Does our family determine our future . . . or is there something more to identity? The book also deals with the prejudice many Christians feel toward other denominations and belief systems.

The series began with Ties That Bind (September 8, 2015) when Woodsmall introduced readers to Ariana Brenneman, a young Amish woman deeply invested in the beliefs of her family and Amish community, and Skylar Nash, an Englisch college student struggling with a life of addiction, neglect and failure to meet expectations. Their worlds are turned upside down when they learn the families they have been a part of for 20 years are not biologically theirs.

Fraying at the Edge (August 16, 2016) found both women introduced to communities very different from the ones they grew up knowing. They both reeled with the nature of their true identities as Ariana fought to hold on to her convictions in a secular world and Skylar adjusted to life without modern technology.

In the third and final book of the series, Woodsmall brings the story full circle as each woman must decide where her future will be. Ariana’s initial excitement to return home is mixed with doubts about the Amish way of life. Her time with her analytical, atheist father has opened her perspective and makes communicating with her Amish family a struggle. Her arrival also challenges Skylar’s hard-won sobriety as Skylar struggles to see her place in a family restored. Both women find themselves doubting what love, relationships and family will look like in their futures.

Woodsmall hopes readers will glean the importance of reading, studying and thinking for themselves. “Don’t let anyone in authority or any authoritative group, church or otherwise trick you into following them,” Woodsmall warns. “Faith needs to go deeper than our understanding of the Word, just like love goes deeper than our understanding of the Word. I’m hoping readers feel encouraged that it is good for grace to outweigh their personal convictions that may or may not line up with God’s Word as well as they thought.”

Gathering the Threads is a perfect book for fans of Amish fiction that doesn’t shy away from discussing difficult issues.

For more on Gathering the Threads and the Amish of Summer Grove series, visit www.waterbrookmultnomah.com.

About the Author

Cindy Woodsmall, author of "Gathering the Threads"

Cindy Woodsmall is an award-winning New York Times and CBA best-selling author who has written 20 works of fiction, including her most recent series, Amish of Summer Grove. Her connection with the Amish community has been widely featured in national media outlets, including ABC’s Nightline. The Wall Street Journal listed Woodsmall as one of the top three most popular authors of Amish fiction.

RT Book Reviews recently presented her with a Career Achievement Award and gave her latest release, Gathering the Threads, a Top Pick review.

Woodsmall and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains.

Learn more about Woodsmall and her books at www.cindywoodsmall.com. She is also active on Facebook (@authorcindywoodsmall).

Read more