Addiction: A Contemporary Problem with Historical Roots

michelle-griep-headshot

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.

***

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

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

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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

love-well-living-life-unrehearsed-and-unstuck

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?

***

Want to read more from Jamie George? Check out Love Well: Living Life Unrehearsed and Unstuck 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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How to Impress a Girl, Cook the Pefect Steak, and More: An Interview with Jonathan Catherman

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Today’s interview is with Jonathan Catherman—world traveler, speaker, and author of The Manual to Manhood.

1. What are the two biggest things that every guy wants?

At his core of every guy is looking for the same two things. They are hard to identify yet both can be difficult to gain. Simply put, every guy, no matter his age, wants to gain respect and avoid embarrassment.

2. In The Manual to Manhood, you offer a lot of practical advice with step-by-step instructions. How did you learn all of this knowledge?

I believe if I’m not learning I’m not truly living, and I love life. Life is built on many different experiences so I’m constantly looking for new ways to gain more experience. Wiser people than I taught me the value of learning by the, “SEE–DO–TEACH” method. When I “See” that I don’t know how to do something, like grill a steak, I find somebody to teach me. Then I practice doing it myself. Finally I secure my knowledge by teaching someone else. I’m still learning this way.

3. What is your favorite piece of advice to pass along and why?

My friends Jason and David Benham shared these words of wisdom: “Be a fountain, not a drain.” When I asked them to explain this advice they said it simply means that in any situation, try to give more than you expect to take away. Think about it—this is what keeps relationships healthy, teams winning, businesses profitable, and builds the kind of confidence people need to make meaningful life contributions.

4. In your book, you talk about the journeys and events that boys take to become men in different cultures. What is your favorite coming-of-age journey from the past, and how does it relate to becoming a man today?

One of my favorite coming-of-age journeys is from the Native American culture. In some tribes a boy become a man when he is separated from his people for several days and bravely survives on his own. He did this to prove his independence and maturity. It’s also important for guys today to demonstrate their independence and maturity. Yet many guys rely heavily on others to take care of their every need. A man in the making practices caring for his own needs. I’m not suggesting leaving home for a few days. Instead, guys need to learn how to take care of own needs, like cleaning up after themselves, fix-it projects, doing laundry, preparing real food, and how to act in ways that show he is maturing. When a guy knows how to take care of his basic needs he is establishing himself to one day set out on his own.

5. What are three keys to becoming a man of character?

Character takes a lifetime to build and can be broken in a second. Three key aspects of a strong lifelong character include:

  1. Living a principle-centered life.
  2. Doing the right thing, the right way, for the right reason even when no one is looking.
  3. Giving more than you expect to take away.

6. Why did you write The Manual to Manhood?

I started the book as a gift to my own sons, Reed and Cole. They are on their own journey of transformation from boys to men. The book is dedicated to them both. Additionally, I meet thousands of guys each year at my events, speaking engagements, and leadership trainings that lack some of the most basic life skills. It’s my hope that The Manual to Manhood will help them gain the respect all men desire and avoid the embarrassment all men fear. The world needs more good, capable, and confident men to lead families, communities, businesses, politics, faith, and all that life throws at guys. This book is a start for guys who want to build a solid foundation upon seemingly simple things so they can one day take on much greater levels of stewardship in life.

7. Why should teens—or grown men for that matter—read your book?
What would you say to a woman who is thinking about reading your book?

Contrary to a popular saying, practice does not make perfect. Practice will make you better. To the teen guys, grown men, and women alike who want to get better at doing real-life stuff and live in a way that empowers themselves and others than read The Manual to Manhood. Remember, those who can be trusted with the little things in life can be trusted with much more. You can trust that what you read in The Manual to Manhood will help you become more confident within and throughout life.

***

Get Jonathan Catherman’s ebook, The Manual to Manhoodon Vyrso today for just $9.74 and learn 101 skills you’ll need to survive!

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UFOs, Conspiracies, and Biblical Theology: An Interview with Dr. Michael Heiser

The Portent

Today’s interview is with Dr. Michael Heiser, who is the academic editor for Logos Bible Software, Bible Study Magazine, and the Faithlife Study Bible. His latest book, The Portent, picks up where the cliffhanger ending of The Façade, left off.

1. For those who have not yet read the previous book, can you tell us a little about The Façade?

The plot of The Façade is driven by the fate of a team of scholars who were “recruited” for an above-top-secret project against their will by a mysterious cabal of military insiders referred to only as “the Group.” Comprised of experts in fields as diverse and unrelated as psychology, atmospheric science, bovine biochemistry, environmental biology, apocalyptic cults and militia groups, and the Hebrew Bible, the team is only told that they represent the last line of defense against a global climatic disaster.

In order to gain the team’s trust, the Group authorizes successive levels of disclosure and access to classified documents, technologies, and artifacts. But it soon becomes apparent that nothing is what it seems at their undisclosed location—and the reason they’ve been assembled is quite different than what they’ve been told. The Façade follows the team as they unpeel layer after layer of deception and counter-deception, heading toward a shocking revelation that will alter mankind’s perception of itself forever—if they can discern which lie to believe.

Fundamentally, The Façade asks two questions: (1) If humanity learned that intelligent extraterrestrial life existed and had been to earth, how would that impact traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs? (2) What if the beings everyone thought were extraterrestrial life were something worse?

2. For those who have read The Façade, what new things can they expect from The Portent?

The Portent picks up several months after the ending of The Façade. Brian and Melissa have managed to maintain anonymity in view of their circumstances at the end of The Façade. They’re trying to build new lives, while living in constant fear of exposure. But they’re in it together, and they’re absolutely committed to each other, though there’s a lot of personal uncertainty about what that means for the future. As readers of The Façade will know, they both have issues.

Eventually the unthinkable—but inevitable—happens. A series of seemingly disconnected and unanticipated events leaves them vulnerable to exposure, forcing them to make more life-altering decisions. One of the things I want readers to think about in The Portent is the role of providence in our lives. Brian and Melissa get caught up (again) in circumstances beyond their control that converge in both advantageous and deadly ways.

Like The Façade, the sequel takes readers into all sorts of subjects. For me, writing fiction is like writing a thesis. I do an enormous amount of research for all the elements in the story. Just like it was in The Façade, every ancient text, every quotation from historical figures, every academic study or journal article, and every government document in the story is real. The Portent takes readers into the intellectual roots of ancient astronaut theory (philosophical, religious, occult), technological achievements during the second world war and the Cold War era that are not part of mainstream knowledge, and true elements of Cold War conspiracy. But the sequel—along with its plot and sub-plots—involves much more. The Portent draws from serious scholarship in biblical studies, archaeology, Vedic studies (Indo-Aryan origins), astronomy, Nazi occultism, Gnosticism, Minoan studies, human migration, genetics, synthetic biology, and nanotechnology.

3. The word portent refers to something ominous coming in the future—an omen—why that title?

I picked the title because the plotline of The Portent gets into the future plans of the adversary introduced in The Façade. The Portent gave me an opportunity to put myself in the place of intelligent evil and ask how I might use common expectations and beliefs to accomplish my ends. How might I simultaneously confirm and undermine what people believe and think—and to what end? The agenda has something to do with the extraterrestrial and theological breadcrumb trails that were part of the storyline in The Façade.

4. What prompted you to write these books?

I’m interested in all the subjects touched on in The Façade and The Portent. They all connect to biblical theology and biblical history. Too many Christians isolate the Bible from other disciplines and subjects. I want Christians to see how theology and these other ideas are more inter-related than they suppose. I also want my readers to know that there’s a lot of mystery in the world. The truth really is often stranger than fiction, but sometimes it takes fiction to get people to realize that.

5. To what extent are the things described in these books based on reality?

As was the case with The Façade, all of the data points are real—historical figures, ancient texts, research that characters refer to, government programs and documents, etc. Readers often doubt this, so I’ve provided a pretty extensive bibliography. In the case of The Portent, all that data is available in a separate handbook, which is available through my website. I use the novel to connect the data points together in a story driven by fictional characters.

6. What would you like people to walk away with after reading The Portent?

I’d like them to see that Christian fiction can be intelligent and unpredictable. I want to challenge readers to think carefully about cutting-edge ideas and technology that will alter our perception of who we are, human destiny, and the role of faith in the future. I also want readers see that the spiritual world they think they know would be thought of quite differently if we viewed Scripture through ancient eyes. I use the discoveries, conspiracies, and technologies of the “black” world of the military industrial complex to help readers understand that the spiritual world is closer to us than we realize, emphasizing the importance of careful theological thinking.

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Pick up Dr. Heiser’s new book The Portent today! And if you haven’t read it yet, be sure to get The Façade to read first.

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Making Wise Choices: Thoughts on Choosing the Best Yes

LysaTerKeurst

Today’s interview is with Lysa TerKeurst, New York Times bestselling author, speaker, and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her new ebook The Best Yes, artfully paints a picture of how to make wise decision amidst a sea of endless choices. Get it on Vyrso today!

1. You have an impressive resume of accomplishments, and you’ve made a huge impact on thousands of people. Tell us more about the everyday you.

I just chuckled at “an impressive resume of accomplishments” because it makes me sound way more polished than I really am! At my core, I’m just a simple country girl who lives in North Carolina with my husband, Art, and my five priority blessings—Jackson, Mark, Hope, Ashley, and Brooke.

In my everyday life, I feel like a success if I get through the day having spent time with the Lord, exercised in some way, had a laugh with one of my kids, had clean underwear in my husband’s drawer when he needed them, and made a friend smile.

2. Why did you write your new book, The Best Yes?

I wrote this message because I NEED this message. I wrote it because I’m tired of rushing and stressing and missing out on the sweet parts of life. I always found myself saying, “I’ll do that thing that makes my soul come alive when I find time.” But no one in the history of the world has ever found more time or made more time.

We all get 168 hours a week. No more. No less. And too many of us are missing out on too much.

Honestly, when I set my life to the rhythm of rush, I don’t like who I am.

Rushing robs me of the sweetest parts of life—the parts of life that feed my soul. When a woman lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule, she’ll ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.

I’m tired of that deep ache. I think a lot of women are.

So with The Best Yes, I really want to help equip women to slow the rhythm of rush in their lives so the best of who they are can emerge.

3. What does it mean to become a “powerfully effective decision maker”?

A powerfully effective decision maker is a person who uses a combination of knowledge, insight, and discernment when faced with a decision. We must get into God’s Word and let God’s truth get into us (Philippians 1:9–10).

Knowledge is wisdom that comes from acquiring truth.

Insight is wisdom that comes from living out the truth we acquire.

Discernment is wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit’s reminders of that knowledge and insight.

The Holy Spirit helps us remember that knowledge and insight so we can display it through good judgment in our everyday life decisions.

4. What’s your decision-making strategy for going through big life transitions?

I think it’s always good to use wisdom, knowledge, and an understanding of your resource capacity to assess your decisions.

For many situations, my husband and I run our decisions through these five questions that I talk about in the book:

• Do we have the resources to handle this along with our current responsibilities?
• Could this fit physically?
• Could this fit financially?
• Could this fit spiritually?
• Could this fit emotionally?

I’ve learned to really pay attention to my emotional capacity and be honest with myself when I’m stretched too thin. When I allow myself to get overloaded emotionally, which can happen so easily in big life transitions, the worst version of me emerges. And that’s not good for anyone. So this five-question filter helps us to be realistic when facing a decision.

5. How do you recommend parents teach their children to make wise decisions at school?

As parents, we need to get intentional with teaching our kids to think through their choices. But we must get intentional about modeling good choices as well.

Satan is a master of keeping the cost of our decisions hidden until it’s too late—for us and for our kids. Explain that to your child and consider age-appropriate examples of how costly wrong choices can be. Be real, raw and bold as you walk your children through different scenarios of temptations they might face.

Think how different life might be if we all paused and asked ourselves this crucial question: How much will this choice really cost me? If we teach ourselves and our kids nothing else today than to ask this one question, we will have invested wisely.

6. How do you choose “the best yes” when you have to decide between multiple good choices?

That’s a great question. More often than not, I find myself stuck between a good choice and another good choice, trying to figure out which one is perfect.

These good vs. good decisions happen every day. But when you’re trying to pick the perfect choice, here’s the secret answer: there is no perfect choice. If you understand this, it sets you free from the fear of making a mistake.

As long as you desire to please God with your decisions, no decision you make will be completely awful. Nor will any decision you make be completely awesome. Every decision carries a dose of both. Every thrill has an element of risk. Every leap of faith has moments of uncertainty. And every great success story has elements of failure.

In other words, since there is no perfect choice, I don’t have to be paralyzed by the fear that I’m not making the perfect choice.

But here’s where the certainty is: My imperfections will never override God’s promises. God’s promises are not dependent on my ability to always choose well, but rather on his ability to use well. And I’m so thankful for that.

7. What are some of the hardest decisions you’ve ever had to make?

Discerning God’s will at different crucial steps in my life was so hard for so long. With all the needs in the world, how can I determine which ones are my assignments? Here’s what really helped me: making enough space in my day to really be able to pay attention to God.

Often we want big directional signs to God’s will. He just wants us to pay attention. The one who obeys God’s instruction today will develop a keen awareness of His direction for tomorrow.

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Learn what it means to make wise decisions while you are making thousands of choices everyday. Get Lysa’s new ebook, The Best Yes, on Vyrso today!

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Billy Graham: Candid Conversations with a Public Man

Billy Graham Candid Conversations

In Billy Graham: Candid Conversations with a Public Man, Sir David Frost gives a remarkable look at the personal side of a world-renowned preacher and author. For 30 years, Billy Graham and David Frost fascinated television audiences with their conversations about God, the Bible, and Graham’s decades-long ministry.

Pre-order your copy of Billy Graham: Candid Conversations with a Public Man for $10.79!

 

Exclusive sneak peek

Some time ago Billy Graham said, “A marriage should be made up of three people: you, your spouse, and God. Christ should be the foundation of a Christian marriage right from the beginning. A lasting marriage starts during courtship. I would say to a young person who is beginning to think about marriage: ‘Yield this whole area of your life to Christ, and trust him. Don’t take your cue from the world: realize that marriage is a lifetime commitment. You shouldn’t go into it with the idea you can always get out of it if things don’t work out. And realize that true love is not selfish.’”

When I asked Billy what it takes to make a marriage work, he expanded on this basic premise of self-sacrificial love.

Frost: You and your wife are a terrific example of how to stay in love. What would you say makes a marriage work?

Graham: I think to have a successful marriage, you need two very good forgivers. They have to learn to forgive each other. And I think the most difficult period of marriage is probably the first five years of adjustment. That’s very difficult. After about five years there develops an understanding so that a couple can communicate with each other without ever saying a word. And I know that in my own case, I suppose it’s been at least fifteen years since my wife and I have had a cross word between us. I mean, we think alike, we believe alike, and we desperately love each other. I love her far more now than I did when I married her. And I believe she loves me.

And also learning to accept the faults of each other. I think that Abraham Lincoln was right when he said, “I’ve learned to accept the faults of my friends.” And I think you can establish a friendship or marriage relationship when you learn to realize that no one is perfect, that we do have little faults.

And then thirdly I think . . . there must be spiritual affinity. There must be something more than the physical or the material. There must be a spiritual understanding in a marriage. And if there isn’t this spiritual oneness and understanding, I think the marriage is in danger, because it must have a strong rock upon which to build. And, of course, when two people can face a problem as we all have and can pray about it and talk about it in a spiritual dimension and face it that way, of course their possibility of settling that problem is far greater.

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Learn more about Billy Graham and his life as an evangelist, Christian father, grandfather, and as an influential public figure. Pre-order Billy Graham: Candid Conversations with a Public Man and get your copy when it releases!

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How to Revive a Dying Church

Replant

You’ve seen them everywhere—squashed in between the latest superstores, crumbling on the outskirts of the neighboring subdivision, and hiding behind tall grasses off the freeway. There are old churches scattered all throughout urban areas in the Western world that are either being slowly forgotten or have already faded into the background. Replant is the story of how those local churches can be saved—from the inside out.

Instead of a five-step guide to church revitalization, Replant describes two drastically different leaders—Mark DeVine and Darrin Patrick—who took it upon themselves to revive a dying Kansas City church and return it to its former glory. This book aims to help pastors and leaders “take risks for God’s glory, to raise your gaze to what is possible, to challenge what is comfortable, so that God’s plan A—the local church—advances.”

The book begins with DeVine, a professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, being assigned the new position of interim pastor at First Calvary Baptist Church—a classic church equipped with a beautiful sanctuary of ornate woodwork, colorful stained-glass windows, commanding organ pipes, and several decades’ worth of neglect and congregational decay. Upon seeing the church, DeVine instantly felt compelled to restore both the building and its congregation:

“The church of Jesus Christ is not a building; it is people. But First Calvary’s magnificent sanctuary was not just a building either. It commanded a historic and still-strategic outpost on the frontier of gospel advances namely within one of the increasingly secular cities of America, which are now among the fastest-growing mission fields on the planet.

I found myself unable to contemplate this declining flock with nonchalance. At stake were not mere bricks and stained glass, but the advance of the light against encroaching spiritual darkness.”

DeVine then took it upon himself to unseat the “cartel” of four long-time church members inhibiting growth, and connect First Calvary with the thriving church of a former student—that of Darrin Patrick, vice president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network and pastor of The Journey. What happens once these two churches join forces? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out, but what I can tell you is that this story is one that pastors all over the world can relate to and learn from. It examines how churches suffering under the burden of shrinking congregations, crumbling infrastructure, and lack of morale can once again be revived for the glory of Christ.

“All contexts—suburban, rural, and urban—need new churches. But there is a special need for new churches in cities. By planting and replanting churches in urban centers, we have a strategic opportunity to influence the entire world, because the entire world is coming to live in, work in, and visit cities.” —Darrin Patrick

Discover their story for yourself: download this new book, Replant: How a Dying Church Can Grow Again on Vyrso today.

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