Yes or No?

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Today’s guest post is by Jeff Shinabarger, a social entrepreneur and the author of  Yes or No and More or Less. Jeff and his wife, Andre, live in Atlanta where he is personally engaged in over 100 start-ups focused on solving problems through the non-profit, Plywood People. 

Have you ever considered that two small words have the ability to change everything? Yes or no.

Most decisions ultimately come down to the moment when you choose to say yes or choose to say no. I believe that the words yes and no are the most powerful words in the dictionary. They define what we love, what we will be known for, and what we will do with our lives. Yes and no begin new stories and end old plot lines. They are definitive words: words that significantly change the trajectory of life.

When you say yes or no, you give new direction to where you are going and what is still to come. Yes or no determines the hours you will spend in a job. Yes or no makes a commitment to a lifelong relationship. Yes or no shapes your character in times of stress. Yes or no brings you breathlessly to the doctor’s office to hear the heartbeat of a child. Yes or no commits you to buy and pay for a car and even a house. Yes or no is what leaves you anxiously waiting to hear if an investor chooses to give your idea funding or supports your social cause to help people in need. Most decisions come down to two small words that define everything. Those two small words are yes and no.

Choices happen every minute of every day, but some choices have more weight than others. As much as we fret about what to wear in the morning or where to go on the next big date, those moments don’t compare with life choices that define where we live, what we do, and who we spend our life with. If you think about the last year, there is a good chance you can remember a minimum of three choices that defined your year. If you consider your entire life, you will recall probably 10-15 decisions that defined what you are doing today and the story you are living. They were defining moments in which you said either yes or no, turning points that forged a path in a different direction toward where you are today. Depending on which little word you use in each situation, it moves you either to a new place or away from that very same place.

Decisions are moments of choice. It’s this or that or the other option, and there are often more options than we realize. Decisions start and end with you. I can’t make a decision for you; it’s on your shoulders. Sometimes that weight on our shoulders is heavy. Oddly enough, the heavier the decisions, the higher our shoulders rise. The tension tightens the neck as the stress seems to yank shoulder muscles up toward our ears.

Day after day, you choose your future. Sometimes other people make decisions that affect you, but you still choose your response as a part of the equation of what happens next. Many decisions are easy, but some weigh more than others. I am thankful that we were created in a way to make decisions; we were given the choice of how to live and what to believe. I do believe that in the end God will have ultimate determination of the world, but we have been granted the freedom to live and make choices in this beautiful and broken world. Even in environments controlled by others, we always have the option to follow that law or direction, or not.

The questions keep coming in every stage of life. Whether it’s far in the future or right in front of you, it’s always a good time to consider your process for making a crucial decision. Sadly, I can’t tell you what to decide. (Imagine how successful I would be if I could!) I do, however, believe I can assist you in becoming a decision maker.

The key question I ask throughout my book is simply: What do you do when you don’t know what to do? My hope is to offer you some practical ways to navigate when the path to yes or no is difficult to discern. I want to give you action points to assist you in thinking through how you make choices not just on your own but alongside the people you love and trust.

You might wonder why I care so much about helping people, like you, make decisions. I believe many of us see things in the world that are broken and feel a deep desire to fix them. We want to be problem solvers. But we will never solve a problem unless we are willing to make decisions that others have not been able to make. I believe that you and your friends have the ability to solve problems that impact people and I want to help in that process.

If you want to become a better decision maker, I invite you to check out Yes or No. We created a simple website, www.YesOrNoBook.com, where you can take a free assessment to determine your decision making style as a starting point for your journey of becoming a decision maker.

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Get Jeff’s newest ebook, Yes or No today on Vyrso! Learn how to make better decisions and become a problem solver that impacts people.

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Exclusive Q&A With Francis Chan

Francis Chan

If we don’t stare at God, we’ll spend our time staring at lesser things. Namely, ourselves.” —You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity

If you haven’t read Francis and Lisa Chan’s new ebook, You and Me Forever, you probably should.

This isn’t your average book on how to have a happy marriage. Co-authors and husband and wife duo Francis and Lisa Chan unpack an external focus for marriage, steering away from advice on how spouses can be happy with one another, and aiming to look at marriage as a mission with God at the center.

We had the chance to ask Francis Chan a few questions about the new ebook:

Tell us about how You and Me Forever developed. What was the inspiration for this book?

I’ve been convicted about this topic for the last five years. Lisa and I don’t fight and we don’t spend a lot of time reading marriage books,  yet we still have a great marriage and I’d been thinking —why has it been so easy? We realized it’s because we’ve been focused on the kingdom. We agree on eternity and focusing on that trumps everything else. It seems like a lot of couples are stuck. Maybe it’s that eternal focus that couples are missing—we want them to have that so they can enjoy marriage as God intended.

What’s one of your favorite Scriptures on marriage and why it is important to you?

Ephesians 5:28-30—The thought that Christ would consider me a member of his body is fascinating.  He has such an attachment to me. For example, if my finger is broken, of course I’m going to take care of it. And Christ thinks of me in that same way—of course, I’ll take care of Francis if he’s broken. And this is how I should view my wife, Lisa.

For your 20th wedding anniversary, you and Lisa decided to travel to Ethiopia. Tell us more about this trip—did it change your perspective on marriage and life together?

It didn’t really change our perspective on marriage that much. However, it increased our sense of urgency and helped to see our position of privilege, and how we can use that privilege to help others who don’t have it. We don’t want to be casual about it.

Learn more about how the Chans are helping support ministry projects through You and Me Forever.

If you could leave our readers with one piece of advice for their relationships what would it be?

Clear your mind as much as you can of all your preconceived understandings of marriage. Whether it’s from examples, advice, sermons, or personal preferences and desires. Take a fresh look at Scripture again to see what God prioritizes and what he says about the place of marriage in light of eternity. Then pray for the courage to make God-fearing changes even if no one else is doing those things.

***

Get Francis and Lisa Chan’s new ebook, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity, for just $1.99 through September 19!

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Addiction: A Contemporary Problem with Historical Roots

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Today’s guest post is by Michelle Griep, an accomplished novelist and author of A Heart Deceived, which you can get for just 99 cents through September 26. 

What comes to mind when I say Jane Austen? Hold on. Let me guess:

  •  Swirling ballroom scenes
  •  Dinner parties galore
  •  The dashing Mr. Darcy

Any of these answers would be right, of course, but you’d also be correct if you’d shouted out opium usage. Austen’s mother used opium to help her sleep, and her father was an agent in the trade. Elizabeth Barrett Browning took opiates every day from the age of fourteen, Sir Walter Scott consumed six grams a day, and Samuel Coleridge was a regular user.

Yes, indeed. I hate to burst your bubble of the romantic days of yore, but opium addiction was an issue to be reckoned with.

The first written account of the non-medicinal virtues of this drug is in De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater, published in 1821. He advocates opium usage not as a pharmaceutical pain reliever, but as a trip into “an inner world of secret self-consciousness.” Sounds positively hippyish, eh?

Had Mr. Darcy been hanging out in a nearby opium den, these are the symptoms Elizabeth Bennett should’ve looked for:

  • Red or glazed eyes
  • Confusion
  • Slurred or rapid speech
  • Loss of appetite
  • Apathy or depression
  • Frequent headaches
  • Insomnia

While Jane Austen preferred to write of dances and dinners, I dove into the seamier side of things and made the hero in A Heart Deceived a recovering opium addict. Why?

Because addiction is a contemporary problem with historical roots.

It’s just as hard for my fictional character in this story, Ethan Goodwin, to turn down a bottle of laudanum as it is for a real person today to pass on a hit of meth. With God’s help, it can be done—which is exactly what Ethan discovers.

Ethan has been on the run all of his life—from family, from the law, from God. After a heart-changing encounter with the gritty Reverend John Newton, Ethan would like nothing more than to become a man of integrity—an impossible feat for an opium addict charged with murder.

My other character in A Heart Deceived, Miri Brayden, teeters on a razor’s edge between placating and enraging her brother, whom she depends upon for support. Yet if his anger is unleashed, so is his madness. Miri must keep his descent into lunacy a secret, or he’ll be committed to an asylum—and she’ll be sent to the poorhouse.

When Ethan shows up on Miri’s doorstep, her balancing act falls to pieces. Both Ethan and Miri are caught in a web of lies and deceit—fallacies that land Ethan in prison and Miri in the asylum with her brother. Only the truth will set them free.

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Get Michelle Griep’s ebook, A Heart Deceived, for 99 cents through September 26. Be sure to check out the 100+ fiction titles we have on sale for 99 cents!

 

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Pursuing Justice in a Too-Easy-to-Quit World

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The following is an excerpt from Eugene Cho’s book, Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World than Actually Changing the World? (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2014), 118, 122-125.

Today, it’s just so easy.

Easy to change.

Easy to quit.

Easy to abandon ship.

Easy to file for a divorce online.

So easy to do whatever.

In Luke 5 we read about what most scholars speculate to be four friends who encounter a man who was paralyzed. They felt compassion for the man and wanted to bring him to Jesus for healing.

Let’s be real here—it probably wasn’t an easy task. We don’t know how long or how far they carried this person. We don’t know the conditions of the road or path. We have no idea how heavy this man was, but to carry a grown man who could not help himself move was, and is, no easy task. In short, it was a commitment.

So these guys carried this man to the home where Jesus was speaking, believing that Jesus could do something to help. When they arrived, they saw that the home was packed. There was a huge crowd. Standing room only. There was absolutely no way in. Story over. They had every reason to give up.

Put yourself in this situation. Imagine if it were you. You see the huge crowd. You’re tired. You’ve just carried a grown dude for some fair distance. You probably say, “Sorry, dude,” and give up. Fair enough. So you hold up your phone, snap a selfie of yourself frowning, with the invalid and the crowd in the background of the picture, then cross-post it to Facebook and Twitter with this comment:

Way too crowded. Maybe next time. #TryingToHelp #Invalid #Jesus #YOLO

You’d get lots of likes, several affirming comments to your post, and seven retweets. The story could’ve ended there. We would all applaud with a polite golf clap. We would say, “I don’t blame you. You did what you could.” Isn’t that such a common saying nowadays? You did what you could.

Sometimes we underestimate not just what we can do in our lives but what God can do in our lives. These guys did not give up. They had faith that God could act, that He could heal. They were compelled by their compassion for this man who understood the pain of being marginalized, ostracized, and ignored.

They considered their options and came up with a solution they probably thought was a bit crazy at first. If they couldn’t bring this paralyzed man through the door, they’d lower him down into the home through the roof.

Once they decided that lowering a man in from the ceiling would be a good idea, they needed to figure out how to do it. While I’m no expert on house structures of the first century in Israel, they likely had to walk up some steep, narrow stairs on the side of the home and then hoist him up onto the roof. Together they lifted 150 to 200 pounds of unwieldy weight.

Once they figured that out and did it, they then had to dismantle the roof itself. I hope the homeowner had insurance. Once the roof had a sizable hole in it, the man had to be lowered into the room. Imagine the yelling and commotion from within the crowded home. Everyone in the room looked up at the roof.

And then, of course, Jesus healed their friend and commended their faith.

What a moment.

This story inspires me for several reasons. These men had compassion. They cared. They saw the invalid as someone worthy of attention.
They had faith in Jesus. This was fairly early in Jesus’s ministry, and I’m certain that these men still had many questions about Jesus, but what they knew, heard, felt, and experienced was enough for them to have faith in Him.

They worked together to make this happen.

When I say we’ve got to be tenacious, I’m not suggesting that we have to be tenacious by ourselves. Sometimes we’ve got to look for like-minded, like-hearted, and similarly tenacious people, and either join them or recruit them to our cause.

Their creativity inspires me. They probably had to convince people that though it seemed crazy, they could do it. They didn’t quit. They had a goal in mind. It may not have been pretty. They might’ve said a few choice words along the way. They certainly messed up a roof. Maybe they dropped the man at one point. I’m sure they were sweaty, but they believed that his life mattered.

Maybe it seems kind of self-centered, but when Jesus looked up and saw them opening up the roof, the Bible says that He saw their faith. The faith of the men helping. Then Jesus told the disabled man, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 5:20).

Now that’s a better ending to the story. And imagine this tweet instead:

We did it! Jesus saw the man, healed him, forgave him! #Thankful #PraiseJesus #RaiseTheRoof

***

Interested in reading more? Download  Overrated by Eugene Cho for just $9.59 on Vyrso today!

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Remembering September 11, 2001

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Today we pause in remembrance of September 11, 2001, and the thousands who lost their lives in the tragic events at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the field in Pennsylvania. We will never forget what was lost that day. The following excerpt is from Leslie Haskin’s firsthand account of her harrowing escape from the World Trade Center in her ebook Between Heaven and Ground Zero. She recollects the courage displayed in the actions of the firefighters, police officers, and first responders who were on site at the attacks:

“Movement caught my attention, and I looked up. It was then that I heard the scrambled radios and noticed police officers carrying victims and firefighters racing into the stairways. There they were— the cavalry—my knights.

One after the other those noble men ran toward the upper floors with little hope of survival and all the grace of God. They shouted to one another as they hurried about, and despite the distance between us, I saw dread in their faces. I saw years of training and rescue procedures boil down to that one moment. That moment that broke millions of hearts with a single falling tear or drop of blood heard from downtown New York City to the hills of California, the towers in Paris, and the deserts of Afghanistan. . . .

More than anything, I wish I could speak of joy that came through all the suffering on that particular September morning, but I cannot. There was none. However, in the greatest moments of desperation and overwhelming sorrow, God’s loving and outstretched arms were waiting for my acceptance. I now know that His holy presence and peace called to me at every point of overwhelming despondency and paralyzing trepidation.”

 Today, we remember.

 

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Meet the Chans: Living Missionally

Through September 19, get Francis and Lisa Chan’s new ebook, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity, for just $1.99 on Vyrso!

What does it look like to live missionally?

Francis and Lisa Chan look to unpack this question in their new ebook, You and Me Forever, focusing on the bigger picture for marriage as a mission and marriage in light of eternity.

To celebrate their 20th anniversary, Francis and Lisa decided to serve in a village ministry in Africa that one of their friends started. The village ministry was centered around feeding children dying of starvation, liberating women trapped in prostitution, and giving hope and opportunity to a community ravished by poverty. 

In an effort to truly live the missional lives they define in You and Me Forever, Francis and Lisa decided to use You and Me Forever as a way to support the work in places like this village in Africa.

The Chans will donate 100% of the net profits they earn from You and Me Forever to fund projects around the world through Crazy Love Ministries.

A few of these ministry projects include providing food, shelter, and rehabilitation for thousands of orphaned children and exploited women​.

Take a look into the life of the Chans as they seek to live missionally:

You can contribute to the Chan’s mission—get Francis and Lisa Chan’s new ebook, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity, for just $1.99 on Vyrso through September 19.

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The Blessing of Bread – Guest Post by Jamie George

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Today’s guest post is written by Jamie George, the author of Love Well: Living Life Unrehearsed and Unstuck, and pastor of The Journey Church in Franklin, Tennessee.  

“Give us this day our daily bread.” — Matthew 6:11

In order to steer ourselves toward His glory, we need navigation. In order to fuel this vehicle and keep it on mission we need nourishment. We start with the physical:“Give us this day our daily bread.”

Our daily need for food is meant to be a constant reminder. We are not our own source of sustenance, we are creatures in daily need.

It would not have been lost on Jesus’ hearers that their ancestors looked to God literally, each day for daily bread or something like it. When the Israelites were wandering around in the desert for 40 years after their refusal to trust God, He displayed His faithfulness by providing for them manna from heaven.  This manna was unusual. It was like a bread source that could be used for various dishes in various ways, and provided daily nourishment. Daily.

Whatever was not used that day went bad. What was needed would then be provided the following day. Jesus hearers would easily have made the connection.

“Give us this day our daily bread” is a declaration of dependence.

Some of us have trouble receiving. We don’t like asking for help. It makes us feel weak. Praying this prayer is acknowledging that I am weak.

“Consumerism is a narcotic that dulls the awareness that we are in need. By buying what we need, we assume control of our lives. 

We replace a sense of need with a sense of ownership, and our sense of neediness recedes . . . . Needs prepare us for a life of receptivity. Every so-called limit is access to a gift.”

—Tell it Slant, Eugene Peterson

If you are fully self-sufficient then you have no need for love. If, however, you are in need, you are in a place of receptivity. You are prepped for love. Many of us are ambitious about giving love away, but have we learned to be just as ambitious in our desire to receive it?

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Want to read more from Jamie George? Check out Love Well: Living Life Unrehearsed and Unstuck today!

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How to Stock Your Digital Library: 99-cent Fiction Sale

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Everyday our goal at Vyrso is to provide you the best possible Christian content at competitive prices. Today, we’re excited to announce one of the best ways to stock your digital library this fall—Vyrso’s 99-cent fiction sale! You can choose from over 100 Christian fiction titles that range from thrilling spy novels to heart-warming historical novels set in 1800s Oregon.

We’ve packed this sale with a variety of genres, so don’t shy away from expanding your reading list this fall.

Here is a list of staff recommendations you’ll enjoy from the 99-cent fiction sale:

  1. Otherworld by Jared C. Wilson
  2. Blue Hole Back Home by Joy Jordan-Lake
  3. Unlimited by Davis Bunn
  4. Reinventing Rachel by Allison Strobel
  5. Israel, My Beloved by Kay Arthur
  6. The 13: Fall by Robbie Cheuvront & Erik Reed
  7. Just Above a Whisper by Lori Wick
  8. Plain Death by Amanda Flower
  9. Blowing on Dandelions by Miralee Ferrell
  10. Leaving Lancaster by Kate Lloyd

Over the next three weeks, get to know some of the authors featured in the sale, like Joy Jordan-Lake, Kate Lloyd, Miralee Ferrell, and others, with exclusive interviews. Learn about the inspiration behind their work, how they started writing, and more about titles you can find in the sale.

Browse our recommended titles and other titles on sale available for a limited time!

What title will you be adding to your reading list with our 99-cent fiction sale?

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Learning to Be Led: A New Perspective on Leadership

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If you claim a leadership role of any kind, then you’ve probably been to a leadership seminar or two, maybe you’ve read some books to solidify your knowledge of good leadership. After a while though, those books and seminars begin to look and sound all too similar. Maybe it’s not the content though, maybe it’s our perspective on learning how to lead.

New to Vyrso

We’ve recently released 81 new titles on Vyrso as Rick Goossen’s Interviews with Entrepreneurial Leaders. Each of these interviews transcribes a conversation between Dr. Richard Goossen and someone in leadership, business, law, community development, or another highly relevant, entrepreneurial role.

Goossen is a decorated entrepreneur and leader on his own. For years he served as CEO of M & A Capital Corp.—a business advisory board. He’s written 3 books—some of which have been translated into six different languages! Goossen currently serves as a Relationship Manager and Strategic Advisor with Covenant Family Wealth Advisors in both Vancouver, B.C. and Toronto, Ontario.

Hearing the experience of entrepreneurs and leaders that have already forged their own path helps to give perspective on what did and didn’t work for them, so you can properly assess what may or may not work for you. Goossen understands that in order to lead, we must first know and understand how to be led.

So much wisdom can be taken from listening to respected and successful leaders like Anne Beiler (founder of Auntie Anne’s pretzels), Allan Burnett (minister at Stanley Park Chapels), or George Tidball (founder of McDonald’s Canada). Each interview from leaders like these and so many more are now available for only $0.99!

Looking to learn more?

If reading through these interviews gets you excited and ready to learn more about leadership from your new perspective, check out Goossen’s next conference coming up. The Entrepreneurial Leaders Organization is putting on a conference in Vancouver, B.C. this coming October 16-17, 2014 and in Toronto, Ontario on October 23, 2014.

Join the ranks of so many other Christian leaders and business people and get new leadership inspiration and know-how. And when you register for one of these two entire conferences, you’ll receive the Entrepreneurial Interview Bundle for free!

Register for the Entrepreneurial Leaders Conference today!

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Change Your Mind on Marriage: Free EBook from Francis and Lisa Chan

Get Francis and Lisa Chan’s new ebook for free through September 4!

“The way to have a great marriage is by not focusing on marriage.”

You and Me Forever sets aside typical marital topics to take on an outward focus for marriage and capture the bigger picture of marriage as a mission. Francis and Lisa look at married relationships through a different lens and unpack Scripture that helps put marriage in the light of eternity. Whether you’re married, single, or dating, You and Me Forever deepens your understanding of marriage and what it looks like to have a relationship that satisfies even the deepest part of your soul.

Francis and Lisa are self-publishing You and Me Forever, and 100% of the net proceeds they earn will be dedicated to projects around the world through Crazy Love Ministries.

Through September 4, get Francis and Lisa Chan’s new ebook, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity, for free on Vyrso! Not only will you get this brand-new ebook, but the Vyrso edition of You and Me Forever comes with linked Bible references for easy reading alongside Scripture.

Want to learn more about this ebook from Francis and Lisa? Check out the book trailer:

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Get your copy of You and Me Forever for free on Vyrso through September 4!

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