A Savior was Born and the People Rejoiced!

The People Rejoiced!

This advent season, check the Vyrso blog each weekday for advent reflections that will inspire and encourage you to reflect on the true reason for Christmas. 

Take time to reflect today with a guest post by author Dee Travis, written with the purpose to encourage and help celebrate life with loved ones.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  People everywhere are filled with Christmas happiness and cheer. All the Christmas lights and festivities of the season make our hearts merry! And oh the joy on Christmas morning when children find the presents they dreamed about under the tree!

It was also a time of rejoicing and happiness and exceeding great joy for the people in Bethlehem when a Savior was born that first Christmas many years ago. Find the stories in Luke 1:26-2:38 and Matthew 2:9-11.

An angel appeared to a virgin girl named Mary and told her she would give birth to the Son of God, the longed for and promised Messiah.

Mary rejoiced in knowing God had blessed her and she humbled herself before God with joyful praise! 

Because of a census during that time Mary and Joseph had to travel many miles to the city of Bethlehem and they were weary and tired and needed a place to sleep. Because there was no room for them in the inn that night Mary gave birth in a cattle stall. Mary knew Jesus was more than just a baby and she rejoiced!

In the same area near Bethlehem there were shepherds out in the fields with their herds of sheep. They were probably resting peacefully under the stars when an angel appeared in front of them and God’s glory was so bright around them that they were terrified! The angel urged them not to be afraid because he had good news of great joy!  

Then a great multitude of heavenly hosts appeared with the angel and together they praised God saying “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and good will to men!”  The angels knew this baby boy was God’s Son and they rejoiced!

Suddenly the angels were gone and the shepherds knew they needed to go to Bethlehem and see this baby the angel had told them about. They found Mary and Joseph and their baby who was sleeping in a manger and told them about how the angels had appeared to them. The shepherds had seen the baby Messiah God had promised and they rejoiced!

After a time Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him before the Lord and to offer a sacrifice. There was a man there named Simeon who was a devout and righteous man who loved God and was waiting on the promised Messiah. He had even been told by God that he wouldn’t die until he had seen Christ. When Simeon came into the temple he was filled with God’s spirit. When he saw Mary and Joseph with the baby he took Him in his arms and blessed Him and then asked the Lord to let him now depart in peace. He had seen the salvation and glory of Israel and he rejoiced!

There was also a widow in the temple whose name was Anna. She was a prophetess and served the Lord in the temple faithfully days and night with fastings and prayers. When she heard Simeon she began giving thanks to God telling everyone that the redemption of Israel they had been waiting for was here! Anna, a faithful servant of God, rejoiced!

And then there were the wise men from the East.  They followed a star which went before them and it brought them to were the Child (Jesus) was and they rejoiced with exceeding great joy! When they saw the Child with Mary His mother they fell on the knees and worshiped Him.  The wise men knew this Child was the King of Kings and they rejoiced!

Sometimes I try to put myself into each scene.

  • Mary was a young girl ready to have her first baby in a smelly barn.
  • The shepherds were resting on a hillside watching sleeping sheep.
  • The angels were joyfully singing praises.
  • Simeon and Anna were waiting patiently see the Messiah.
  • The wise men followed a moving star.

They were each so devoted to God that they saw God revealing His plan and got to be a part of it.

There were others that night who missed the whole thing. I don’t want to miss seeing what God wants me to see.

This Christmas with all the festivities lets’ be looking for the Savior and rejoicing like these devout followers of God did many years ago. (Click to Tweet!)

They knew God, they all saw Jesus and they rejoiced!

 ———

Read Dee Travis’ newest release, Celebrate Life: Living to Serve God and Encourage Other as We Celebrate Life Together, an ebook that explores the good things in life and the different ways to celebrate them with your spouse, children, church family, and friends.

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Three Big Myths That Moms Believe and How Can They Knock It Off

Motherhood

We had the privilege to ask authors Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk questions about their background, authors and books that have influenced them, and all about their new release, Hoodwinked:Ten Myths Moms Believe and Why We All Need to Knock It Off. Pre-order it today!

Check out Vyrso’s author recommendation blog series, where you can read exclusive interviews with Christian authors and get great recommendations on ebooks that have impacted their walk with Christ.

Ruth, can you tell us a little bit about The Better Mom community, what drove you to create this site and how has it impacted you?

 

Several years ago I was thrilled to find a little help in mothering online.

I had spent so much time feeling frazzled and just trying to keep it all together that it was refreshing to read insight from other moms and join their journey online. I realized I wasn’t alone. Over the next year I began to feel the nudge into mom’s ministry.

I wanted to come alongside other moms and encourage them like I had been encouraged.

It has been an incredible experience so far, as I have been blow away by the community that has grown. There is a real sense that we are all in this together!

Karen, tell us a little bit about what drives you—from being a mom to writing multiple books to working as a Proverbs 31 speaker, what keeps you going?

I simply love to encourage women, especially mothers. Because writing and speaking is something I can do at home it works well in my family schedule.

I think what keeps me going is remembering how hard it was for me as a wife and mother starting out.

I had a few people who mentored me but the Internet wasn’t around in the way that is now. I love how we can use this modern tool to send an instant encouragement to others who are in the trenches of motherhood.

Over the years as you’ve grown in your faith, what specific authors or books have been life-changing? And what are some ways that these author and books have influenced you?

Karen: I really love reading books by both Elisabeth Elliot and Edith Schaeffer.

Both of these authors seem to have a good blend of practical ideas and also deeper theological material that kept my interest. I love the way their books encouraged me when I was first a new mother.

I especially love The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Schaeffer. It is a go to book that I try to re-read once a year. It really helps to give me a fresh perspective in my home life and to realize that homemaking really is an art.

Ruth: I have to say that Bible Studies by Beth Moore and Ray Vander Laan have probably had the biggest impact on my spiritual growth over the years.

I also really love all of Emily Freeman’s books. Grace for the Good Girl was a message I needed to hear desperately and it really helped me discover that it was okay to need God. 

My very favorite books on motherhood are by Sally ClarksonSeveral years ago when I felt like I was barely surviving as a mom, I came across the book The Mission of Motherhood. It radically changed my perspective on mothering and made me realize that there was actually a purpose behind what I was doing. 

What drove you two to write Hoodwinked?

Hoodwinked

Ruth: Karen and I became friends when she started writing for The Better Mom.

As we got to know one another and spent time talking we realized that although we were in different stages of mothering (she has grown kids and I have younger kids) we both deal with some of the same personal struggles in motherhood.

One day I said, “Karen! We should write a book together!”

Before I knew it we were discussing struggles that we thought moms of all ages and stages wrestled with. The more we talked about these “myths,” the more we realized how necessary a book like “Hoodwinked” is – we were confident this would be a message that would really resonate with moms in all different stages of motherhood.

 

What are the three biggest myths that moms believe, and how can they “knock it off”?

All three of these myths, if we take them to heart and believe them, can mess with our mothering in the worst of ways.

   1. The way I mother is the right (and only) way.

If we think we are doing things the right and only way, we won’t forge friendships with other mothers who may parent a little bit differently than us.

   2. I can do it all, all at once.

If we believe that we can do it all, all at once, we soon find ourselves in overload mode and on the brink of exhaustion.

   3. My child’s bad choice means that I’m a bad mom.

If every time one of our children makes the wrong choice we feel like we are a failure as a mom, it can discourage us and drain the joy right out of our mothering.

We must learn to speak the truth to each other in all three of these areas. We must also learn to believe what God says to us in his word about these things. We need to have grace with others. We need to know our limitations and go to Jesus to find rest. (Click to Tweet!) And we need to know that everyone will give an account of themselves to God.

We are not responsible for the choices of others, not even for our children. (Click to Tweet!) The more we believe these truths, the healthier our mothering and our relationships with other mothers will be.

———

Find helpful advice and “we’ve been there” encouragement from Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk as they tackle the challenges and myths all moms face when you pre-order Hoodwinked:Ten Myths Moms Believe and Why We All Need to Knock It Off.

Read exclusive interviews with Christian authors and get great recommendations with Vyrso’s author recommendation blog series.

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3 Ways to Strengthen a Long-Distance Marriage: An Interview with Hope Griffin

Finding Joy

We had the privilege to ask author Hope Griffin questions about what she’s learned as a military wife, authors that inspire her, and about her new release, Finding Joy: The Year Apart That Made Me A Better Wife.

All month long, keep up with Vyrso’s author recommendation blog series, where you can read exclusive interviews with Christian authors and get great recommendations on ebooks that have impacted their walk with Christ.

What drives you to write?

I have always used writing as an escape, a way to process my thoughts, and to dig deeper into my faith. For as long as I can remember I have believed in Christ, the details and theology came with time.

I pursued my love for writing in both my undergrad and graduate studies, minoring in Creative Writing at the University of Central Arkansas and in addition to Biblical Studies pursuing the Creative Writing classes available at Dallas Theological Seminary.

I find that when I’m not writing my world is unbalanced.

What inspired you to write your newest release, Finding Joy?

Being a part of the military community is a great honor. It brings new challenges to marriages, family, and self-care. When my soldier first deployed I needed an outlet for my thoughts and fears so I wrote. 

The more I wrote about my own struggle through deployments and our daughter’s cancer the more I began to see the same struggles in the community around me.

Finding Joy is a testimony to not just surviving long distance marriages but finding purpose and passion in them. Whether it is the military, health, or careers that geographically separate us, it does not mean that our marriages have to suffer.

What are three pieces of advice you would give to military wives to help strengthen their relationship with God and their husband?

First communication.

We can’t always talk to our spouse but when the opportunity presents itself we need to be purposeful about what we say. Clear, loving words need to be spoken over distances. Distance from our spouse also presents us with the opportunity to go to God more. God’s love and companionship, even when unfelt, is our one constant in life. Go to Him. (Click to Tweet)

Second is letting go.

Give up the control. Absolutely pursue dreams and make plans but when life gives you a detour adapt accordingly. Learn to cherish the unseen future and don’t stress or worry about what may or may not happen. Live today, dream for tomorrow, but be flexible in what may come. (Click to Tweet)

Third is don’t compare your relationship with your spouse or with God with someone else.

The only closed doors you see what happens behind is your own. Cherish and and enjoy your story.

Which authors have influenced you and your writing as you’ve grown in your faith?

Over the years I have fallen in love with the writings of:

  •  Philip Yancey, he reintroduced me to Christ.
  • Leonard Sweet, he made me dig deep into my faith and ask hard questions.
  • Amy Julia Becker, she offered a simplicity to deep theological questions and reminded me that we are all on a journey and do not hold all the answers.
  • Jocelyn Green and Judy Davis, both women are fellow military spouses and were voices of encouragement during deployments.

More recently, I discovered Cynthia Ruchti. Her story telling and authenticity are refreshing and uplifting. She addresses the struggles of long distance marriage in her book As Waters Gone By. She reached into my life and pulled out encouragement from some of the most tattered places.

There have been to many authors who have influenced me through the years to pinpoint them all down. It often seems that they have a peek into my life and know exactly where I need to be ministered to.

———

Get encouragement to grow and thrive despite hard circumstances in these words of wisdom from Hope Griffin in Finding Joy: The Year Apart That Made Me A Better Wife.

All month long, read exclusive interviews with Christian authors and get great recommendations. Don’t miss a post in this series—subscribe to Vyrso’s RSS feed, follow Vyrso on Twitter, and like Vyrso on Facebook!

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Delighting in Weakness: An Interview with Kyle Idleman

The End of Me

We had the privilege to ask author Kyle Idleman about his career, books that have influenced him, and his new release, The End of Me.

Kyle has written multiple books, including best-seller Not a Fan. He is a pastor at Southeast Christian Church, and a presenter for City on a Hill Productions.

All month long, keep up with Vyrso’s author recommendation blog series, where you can read exclusive interviews with Christian authors and get great recommendations on ebooks that have impacted their walk with Christ.

What drives you to write, preach, and continue to serve the church?

Whether it’s preaching a sermon, writing a book, or a producing a film I am passionate about connecting Scripture to a person’s life at just the right time.

A number of years ago I learned that what encourages me as a communicator more than anything else is seeing one life at a time experience the difference that Jesus makes. While all three mediums of communication overlap I’ve also learned that there is no substitute preaching to real live people.

When I can look them in they eyes as they encounter God’s Word it helps me see how God is a work and how I can join him through writing and producing.

As you’ve grown in your faith, which authors and books have been influential on you and your writing?

I really appreciate the way you asked that question because different writers have been especially influential in different areas of my life.

It’s hard for me to choose one or two over the others. But I’m challenged when I read the way Brennan Manning talks about following Jesus. I’m moved when I read the way Philip Yancey describes grace.  I’m convicted when I read the way John Ortberg talks about me.

The two books I’ve especially loved this year: God for the Rest of Us by Vince Antonucci and Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach.

What sparked your newest release, The End of Me?

Years ago I was taught the simple truth that what God does through you, he does in you first.

I have certainly found that to be true in my own life. There have been times I have tried to let God work through me, while resisting his work in me and it hasn’t turned out well.  

So my commitment as a pastor and an author is to daily ask God what he wants to do in me and then I ask God how he wants to work through me. Each chapter represents some work God has been doing in me, although I have often resisted every step of the way.

For example the chapter “Weak to be Strong” focuses on how God’s power shows up most dramatically in our weaknesses and inadequacies. When I refuse to be vulnerable because of pride or fear and instead try to mask my weakness I miss out on an opportunity to experience his strength.  

Coming to the end myself means that I am going to not just be honest about my weakness, but I’m going to delight in them. [Click to Tweet!] Each of the chapters in this book speaks to some kind of work that God has been doing in my own heart and life. My prayer is that this book will help others on their journey to the end of themselves so that they can discover the real life in Christ that waits for them.

What are the major truths readers will takeaway from your book?

The natural tendency is for me to think that the best and most fulfilling life is all about me. I am drawn to messages that promise to advance me or promote me. Intuitively, it just makes sense that I will be the happiest when I am at the front of the line, get the biggest piece of cake at the party, and receive applause as I stand in the spotlight.

But Jesus came with a message that was upside-down from what we are constantly told and how we personally feel.

He taught that the last will be first, the broken will be blessed, and the humble will be exalted. Because his teachings are often so paradoxical we try to filter them and take a more reasonable and measured approach. But Jesus made it clear that an invitation to live for him is an invitation to die to myself. [Click to Tweet!] It may not make sense; it may not feel right, but the abundant life that Jesus offers is found at the end of me.

———

Read more about the abundant life Jesus promised in Kyle Idleman’s The End of Me.

All month long, read exclusive interviews with Christian authors and get great recommendations. Don’t miss a post in this series—subscribe to Vyrso’s RSS feed, follow Vyrso on Twitter, and like Vyrso on Facebook!

 

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How to Get the Life You’ve Always Wanted: an Interview with Bob Pritchett

Start Next Now

Bob Pritchett, the CEO of Faithlife Corporation, recently released his new book, Start Next Now!

When you get Start Next Now you can expect more than just inspirational puffery from a life coach—it’s practical advice on how to get ahead from a successful entrepreneur with 440+ employees. Get the Vyrso ebook plus bonus content at StartNextNow.com!

Check out our exclusive interview with Bob all about his new release, how his faith plays into his work, and common mistakes people make when trying to move up in their career.

What differentiates your new book, Start Next Now, from other titles focused on business and career advancement?

Start Next Now is about actually starting.

Getting ahead, or achieving a goal, or doing anything important and useful at all requires the same thing: starting. [Click to Tweet!] In my experience many people have an idea of what they want to accomplish, whether for themselves or their family or ministry, but they’re stuck at the first step.

I want to help people take the first steps and start now, so in addition to some inspirational encouragement, this book is full of super-practical things you can do right away to get started.

In what ways has faith shaped how you do business? How can Christians integrate their faith into their work life?

God is sovereign over everything, so I don’t see our faith as something to integrate into our work life, like a missing ingredient we need to mix in. I see my faith as part of who I am and my work as what I am called to do. The Bible speaks to our work and business just as it speaks to our friendships and family relationships, and I try to live as God has called us to in all those areas.

What do you think are some common mistakes people make while trying to move their career forward or when they’re first getting started?

The biggest mistake people make is assuming someone is going to make things happen for them. [Click to Tweet!] We’re trained by our institutional educational system to sit quietly in chairs, to answer or act in response to prompts, and then to be automatically advanced through the system and up through different ‘grades’ to a pinnacle moment: graduation.

And then we’re put into the workplace, where we are suddenly responsible for our own learning, advancement and progress. Many people spend years sitting quietly and responding to prompts before they learn that life is not like school — and that’s a tragic waste of time that can hold them back for a lifetime.

Start Next Now contains specific advice for college students and young people in the first decade of their career. What’s an important piece of advice you’d give to this audience when it comes to building their professional life and career for the first time?

Ask lots of questions. It’s the best way to learn, and the younger you are the better it will be received. Don’t continue in ignorance; just ask.

———

Get the Vyrso ebook plus bonus content, videos, and more, today at StartNextNow.com.

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Doubt Isn’t Sin: Discussing Unbelief with Barnabas Piper

Help My Unbelief

We had the privilege to ask author Barnabas Piper questions about his career, books that have influenced him, and his new release, Help My Unbelief.

All month long, keep up with Vyrso’s author recommendation blog series, where you can read exclusive interviews with Christian authors and get great recommendations on ebooks that have impacted their walk with Christ.

Barnabas, tell us a little bit about your blogging and writing experience—what inspires you to write?

I started blogging in 2011. Prior to that I had done relatively little writing for anyone’s benefit but my own. I was a journaler and loved the craft of effectively expressing ideas and observations as well as the way that writing helped me learn what I really thought and meant.

My inspiration was and is observation and curiosity. I notice something that seems odd or interesting or inspiring and instead of letting it go I start to hash out on paper. Sometimes an article comes to be. Other times its just an exercise in developing my thoughts to a place I’m satisfied and realize there isn’t enough there to share.

After I started blogging a few other writing opportunities opened up—WorldMag.com, contributing to Table Talk and Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, etc. It was the response to some of those articles that gave me the confidence to write my first book, The Pastor’s Kid and my second book, Help My Unbelief was kind of born out of the first.

Which specific authors and books have been influential as you have matured in your walk with Christ?

C. S. Lewis’s thinking has been the most influential for me. I absolutely love the way he takes the reader on a relatable, mind-stretching journey through a series of ideas to arrive at a conclusion. I have read almost all of his non-fiction and am getting ready to dig in again after a few year hiatus. Lewis taught me to think systematically and work through ideas. He is also just so personable in his writing.

Other authors who have influenced me have been Daniel Taylor and his book The Myth of Certainty and N.D. Wilson’s book Death by Living. Taylor and Wilson opened my eyes to asking great questions and exploring ideas well, in a curious and energetic way.

I also love Pat Conroy’s, J.K. Rowling’s, and Leif Enger’s novels. Great novels spark my love of literature and reading. Stories are moving and enlivening in ways non-fiction can never be. They show the minds and hearts of people in a truer way than any essay. And they’re just fun!

Who was your new book, Help My Unbelief, written for?

It was really three different groups with parts of the book aimed at each of them:

  • The first group is the skeptic, that person who is always questioning and never satisfied. I wanted to put the case before them that mystery is okay, that we can’t know everything about God, and that we should be satisfied with that.
  • The second group is the lifelong church person who thinks “the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” They never ask a hard question or dig deep into any challenging truth. I want to rattle them a bit and show that their mindset is dangerous.
  • The third group is the believer with questions who isn’t sure if it’s okay to doubt and to ask. I wanted to help them see that doubt isn’t sin and asking questions can actually strengthen faith. [Click to Tweet!]

If readers walk away with only one key point from Help My Unbelief, what do you hope that will be? 

It sounds counter-intuitive, but often doubt can be evidence of belief. Like the dad in Mark 9:24, he was not sure what Jesus could do, but he believed enough to seek help. If you have the inclination to cry out to God you have belief. [Click to Tweet!]

Too often Christians get overwrought with guilt and despair about their doubts instead of realizing that belief is woven throughout them. It’s like someone training for a race. If they get discouraged every time something hurts and think “I’m just not good enough” they are missing the point that the pain is the improvement.

So I would say that strengthening your belief comes from recognizing the heart behind the doubt. If your doubts come from a place of wanting to know God more deeply they are born from belief, not sin. They will lead you deeper into faith and obedience, not further away. It reframes doubt from sin to hope, from guilt to growth.

———

Learn why doubt is not the enemy of faith in Barnabas Piper’s Help My Unbelief.

All month long, read exclusive interviews with Christian authors and get great recommendations. Don’t miss a post in this series—subscribe to Vyrso’s RSS feed, follow Vyrso on Twitter, and like Vyrso on Facebook!

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God’s Crime Scene: An Interview with J. Warner Wallace

God's Crime Scene

We had the privilege to interview author J. Warner Wallace, detective and former atheist, about his new release, God’s Crime Scene. 

All month long, keep up with Vyrso’s author recommendation blog series, where you can read exclusive interviews with Christian authors and get great recommendations on ebooks that have impacted their walk with Christ.

As a former atheist and cold-case detective, tell us a little bit about your journey to faith and how you found the evidence for God?

I didn’t grow up in a Christian environment. My dad was (and still is) a committed atheist, and I never attended an evangelical church service as a boy. As a result, I was rather dogmatic in my atheism from a very young age.

My wife, Susie, and I had been together since high school, and Susie was very patient with my unbelief. At twenty-seven Susie expressed a desire to visit local churches in our area. I was happy to go with her if it made her happy.

In the first church we visited, the pastor cleverly described Jesus as the smartest man who ever lived. That sounded interesting to me. I purchased an inexpensive pew Bible and began to read through the Gospels for the limited purpose of mining the wisdom statements of Jesus. I was immediately impressed, however, with the similarity I found between the Gospel accounts and eyewitness statements I encountered in my own criminal cases (at this time I was working as a detective).

I began to test the Gospels in the same way I would test any other eyewitness account. I described this process in my first book, Cold-Case Christianity.

At the end of that process, I was comfortable with the reliable nature of the Gospel accounts except for the presence of the supernatural miracles of Jesus and the Resurrection. I thought the Gospels were some form of historical fiction. I decided, however, to take an additional step in my investigation to determine if my bias against the supernatural was warranted.

I examined the universe the same way I examined other targeted scenes from my career, and I applied the same scrutiny I did to other pieces of evidence in such scenes. The result is the process I describe in God’s Crime Scene.

As you’ve grown in your understanding of who God is, which authors and books have you chosen to study that nourish and grow your faith?

After becoming a Christian I eventually enrolled in seminary and graduated from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.

I love to read systematic theologies, Wayne Grudem and Millard Erickson are two of my favorites. I am also fond of philosophically minded apologetics books (like Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview by J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig).

What are some practical ways that these authors have influenced you?

I believe there’s a big difference between belief that and belief in.

Belief that typically describes one’s intellectual assent to a claim. We might have, for example, good evidential reason to believe Jesus is who he said he was, but doesn’t have the power to save us on its own (in James 2:19, James reminded his readers that “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!”). Belief in is an additional step of trust. We have belief in when we trust Jesus for our salvation.

God’s Crime Scene examines the universe to determine if there is evidence that points to a creator, tell us more about the angle you take when approaching the evidence.

Every death investigation presents one of four possibilities; the victim died accidentally, died from natural causes, committed suicide, or was murdered.

Only one of these circumstances requires someone outside the room to enter the scene. Accidental deaths, natural deaths and suicides can occur without an intruder.

Homicide detectives, therefore, are looking for evidence of outside involvement.

One important question must be asked and answered: “Can the evidence ‘in the room’ be explained by staying ‘in the room’?” If, for example, there is a victim in the room with a gunshot injury lying next to a handgun, but the doors are locked from the inside, all the DNA and fingerprints in the room come back to the victim, the gun is registered to the victim and there are no signs of an outside intruder, this is simply the scene of a suicide or accidental death.

If, however, fingerprints exist or DNA of an unknown suspect, the gun does not belong to the victim, and there are bloody footprints leading outside the room, detectives must consider the reasonable inference of murder. When the evidence in the room cannot be explained by staying inside the room and is better explained by a cause outside the room, there’s a good chance a murderer is on the loose. Intruders turn death scenes into crime scenes.

As we examine the universe around us, a similar opportunity awaits those who want to begin the most important of all investigations.

Can everything we see in the universe be explained solely from causes found within the natural realm, or is there evidence of an outside “intruder”? Can the universe be explained by natural “internal” forces, or is an external “intruder” a better explanation? [Click to Tweet!]

God’s Crime Scene was written to help readers examine the nature of the universe as they sift through eight important characteristics of the cosmos, biological organisms and human experience, considering each as though it were a piece of evidence at a crime scene.

———

Read J. Warner Wallace’s God’s Crime Scene on Vyrso today!

All month long, read exclusive interviews with Christian authors and get great recommendations. Don’t miss a post in this series—subscribe to Vyrso’s RSS feed, follow Vyrso on Twitter, and like Vyrso on Facebook!

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The Most Scandulous Thing in the World: Discussing God’s Love with Alex Early

The Reckless Love of God

We were privileged to interview author Alex Early about his new release, The Reckless Love of God: Experiencing the Personal, Passionate Heart of the Gospel. 

This exclusive interview is part of Vyrso’s author recommendation blog series, where you can read exclusive interviews with Christian authors and get great recommendations on ebooks that have impacted their walk with Christ.

Alex, tell us a little bit about your background. You seem to keep busy running a blog, which reflects both your love for God and cooking, and being a dedicated husband and dad. What got you started and what continues to drive you?

I absolutely enjoy my family! Downtime with them in the kitchen cooking, listening to music, and carrying on is absolutely life to me! There is nowhere else I would rather be than with them.

I got into cooking because I needed a hobby and I didn’t want one that would take me away from my family. I have an artsy streak in me, so I figured I’d give my culinary skills a go, and that scratched the itch. But as an author, past/future church planter, and doctoral student, life is most certainly busy.

What keeps me going is:

  • I know that I am loved by God and empowered by his Spirit
  • I am called to this and nothing else

Over the years, as you have grown in your faith, which books have made an impact on you?

Like any pastor, I could mention dozens. I read tons of academic theology as well. But if I could recommend just five books, I’d say:

1.The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out by Brennan Manning

2. The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

3. Faithful Feelings: Rethinking Emotion in the New Testament by Matthew Elliot

4. The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection by Robert Capon

5. Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale by Frederick Buechner.

These books are penned by men who are well-aware of their own brokenness before God and utter estrangement from even themselves. Over the years they have prodded me toward becoming more spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically whole as a person. By no means have I arrived, but I am indebted to these authors for their admonishments to not accept life as the way it is and to press on in the faith, finding a tender Abba Father in heaven who cares so deeply for me.

Tell us a little bit about your new release, The Reckless Love of God, and what inspired you to write it.

I was inspired to write the book a few years ago on vacation as I was thinking about and truly reveling in God’s love for the first time in my whole life. I had been a Christian since my teens, had graduated from seminary, and was pastoring my first church, but it had never really dawned on me that God knows me, loves me, and cares deeply for me, personally. [Click to Tweet!]

I wanted to write something meaningful that calls attention to the most scandalous thing in the world—God Almighty loves us as we are.

My aim is to say that God himself has burned in everlasting love for you before time began and has stopped at nothing in his pursuit of capturing our hearts and demonstrating this life-changing reality.

What are key pieces of advice you would give to those who struggle to believe that Jesus really does love them apart from their actions?

First, I’d say, Jesus loves them not just apart from their actions, but with their actions intact. That is to say, Jesus doesn’t turn a blind eye to sin. Rather, he engaged it and defeated it fully on the cross and in his resurrection. [Click to Tweet!]

Second, the ongoing narrative that we as Christians have to default to is that our word is not the ultimate authority in life. God’s Word is, and it hasn’t changed. Often, we need to dethrone ourselves, our opinions, and our harsh judgment that we lay on ourselves and feel free to drink deeply of the love of God. After all, if Jesus was breathing out prayers of forgiveness over those who had nailed him to the Cross, most certainly he burns in compassion for you today.

Finally, tell God when you question his love and ask him to help your unbelief. Nothing can separate you from the love of God. So go ahead and tell him it’s hard to believe sometimes. He can handle it.

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Find assurance of God’s love for you in Alex Early’s The Reckless Love of God: Experiencing the Personal, Passionate Heart of the Gospel.

All month long, read exclusive interviews with Christian authors and get great recommendations. Don’t miss a post in this series—subscribe to Vyrso’s RSS feed, follow Vyrso on Twitter, and like Vyrso on Facebook!

 

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3 Ways We Find Freedom in Christ: An Interview with Nancy Alcorn

Ditch the Baggage

We had the privilege to interview author Nancy Alcorn about her new release, Ditch the Baggage, Change Your Life. 

This exclusive interview is part of Vyrso’s author recommendation blog series, where you can read exclusive interviews with Christian authors and get great recommendations on ebooks that have impacted their walk with Christ.

Nancy, tell us about Mercy Multiplied and how your experiences and your faith played a major role in establishing this program.

It was during and after college that I spent eight years working for the state of Tennessee at a correctional facility for juvenile delinquent girls and investigating child abuse cases. Working for the state on a daily basis gave me direct encounters with secular programs that were not producing permanent results that exemplified changed lives. I saw many of the girls pass the age of 18 and end up in the women’s prison system because they never got the real help they needed.

I began to realize that only Jesus could bring restoration into the lives of girls who were desperately hurting and searching for something to fill the void they felt in their hearts. I knew God was unfolding a plan prompting me to step out in faith to help hurting young women.

I was determined to establish a program in which lives would truly be transformed, so in January 1983, I moved to Monroe, Louisiana to start Mercy Ministries of America (now Mercy Multiplied).

Mercy Multiplied is dedicated to helping young women break free from life-controlling behaviors and situations, including eating disorders, self-harm, drug and alcohol addictions, unplanned pregnancy, depression, sexual abuse, and sex trafficking.

We hope to help every woman we serve experience God’s unconditional love, forgiveness, and life-transforming power.

What sparked you to write your newest release, Ditch the Baggage, Change Your Life?

It doesn’t matter how put together or “un-put” together somebody looks. We all have pain. We all have fear. We all have problems. But we don’t all have freedom in Christ!!

Again and again I’ve asked myself, what can we do? What can Mercy do to help all these thousands upon thousands of hurting people who can’t come to our homes? Now, this year, I believe God has provided Mercy with an answer. That answer is to expand our outreach efforts in deeper and broader ways to help others, of all ages, near and far, realize lasting freedom.

A big part of these outreach efforts is my new book Ditch the Baggage, and it has one simple message that some people have been waiting a lifetime to hear: you were born to live free. [Click to Tweet!]

Ditch the Baggage, Change Your Life focuses on finding a lasting freedom through Christ. What are three key ways to find this freedom?

The book focuses on the primary seven keys to freedom that we use in our homes, and three of the keys discussed are:

Total Commitment—This includes being committed to Christ and being committed to freedom. In order to live and walk in freedom, you must have a relationship and a commitment to the actual freedom Giver!

Healing Life Hurts—Every one of us experiences hurt. When those hurts remain unhealed, they cause us to shrink back from life, to operate out of fear, and to build our lives around avoiding more hurts. Any person who has a deep hurt will find their decision making affected. Total freedom means no longer allowing hurts to direct our lives, tarnish our relationships, and shape our personalities.

Renewing the Mind—The Word of God says that when we renew our minds, our lives will be changed! Renewing your mind means to do away with ungodly thought patterns and to replace them with godly ones. Behind every bad habit or bondage is a lie. When we commit our minds completely to Christ, lies can be erased and He can do a powerful work of grace in us.

Through the years as you’ve grown in your faith, which authors have been influential to you, your ministry, and your writing? 

Obviously in their own individual areas of expertise there have been a number of authors who have affected my life in different ways for different reasons.

Joyce Meyer inspired me to be honest, open, and transparent in my writing. Joyce has always used those things she has dealt with in her life as a way to help other people. I have specifically been influenced by her teachings about how God wants us to be whole spirit, soul and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

John Maxwell has significantly influenced my leadership with his awesome teachings and books. He has inspired me specifically through this teachings on adding value to every person with whom you come in contact.

Dr. Myles Munroe’s teachings on realizing the potential of every person has inspired me to believe in every young woman who walks through the doors of Mercy. He has helped me to remember that these young women may be in our program because of life-controlling issues, but the truth is that there is potential in every one of them to become a world changer!

Dave Ramsey is not only a close personal friend of mine, but has had amazing influence in my life and the life of every young woman that walks through the doors of Mercy through his books on giving, financial peace and stewardship.

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Learn more about finding freedom in Christ in Nancy Alcorn’s Ditch the Baggage, Change Your Life on Vyrso today!

All month long, read exclusive interviews with Christian authors and get great recommendations. Don’t miss a post in this series—subscribe to Vyrso’s RSS feed, follow Vyrso on Twitter, and like Vyrso on Facebook!

 

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Navigating Negative Change: An Interview with Kristen Strong

Girl Meets Change

Today we are featuring an exclusive interview with author Kristen Strong about her new release, Girl Meets Change. This interview is part of Vyrso’s author recommendation series, where you can read exclusive interviews with Christian authors and get great recommendations on ebooks that have impacted their walk with Christ.

Tell us a little bit about your blog, Chasing Blue Skies, and what inspired you to create this refreshing site.

I’ve loved journaling and writing stories since I was very young. Blogging became an easy, natural forum for me to practice the art and discipline of regular writing.

As a nature lover who can’t get enough sky gazing, I liked the idea of creating an online space that reflected this. Hence Chasing Blue Skies was born, and it truly is a natural fit for my style, personality, and interests.

 

Through the years as you’ve grown in your faith, what are some specific authors and books have been influential on you and your writing?

In what ways have you been influenced by these authors and books?

I am drawn to authors who help me see myself—my place, purpose and value in this world—as Jesus does. Within the pages of each book mentioned above, I am able to see myself in a more accurate light as I find myself in their stories.

Each author referenced is a master at showing how the Bible is alive and relevant to my life. Each lives (or lived) authentically in the freedom Jesus offers as well as makes a relationship with Him look so attractive, it’s something I naturally want too.

Tell us about your new release Girl Meets Change.

Girl Meets Change is a book written to help women see their difficult life change in a new hopeful light. It is a place that meets women at the crossroads of their anxiety about change and God’s purpose found in it. Inside its pages are not only my story of change, but also the stories of other women and stories from Scripture.

What are few healthy ways to navigate negative change?

  1. Make an intentional choice to regularly enter into the presence of Christ.

We all know spending time with Jesus benefits us, but we don’t always realize how much Jesus truly enjoys our presence too. [Click to Tweet!]

He delights in us. Once we start to get a taste of that, we want to spend more time with him. And the more we spend time with him, the more we know the hardship brought on by change is still very much within the care and concern of Christ. Therefore, we are better able to live by faith that God intends to use the difficult change in our lives to bless us.

We better see the change in our lives not as the end of our story but a part of it. Our change is never the end. God’s grace and goodness are. [Click to Tweet!]

  2. Make your questions surrounding the change work for you.

I’m a big question asker, so when change lands in my lap, questions want to tag-a-long with it. I haven’t always directed those questions in a “for me” way.

For example, when my husband and I couldn’t easily start a family, my questions sounded like Why can’t I get pregnant? Doesn’t God think I would be a good mom?Instead of asking questions that focused on the outcomes of my circumstances, I needed to reframe them to focus on the purpose of my circumstances.

So better questions for me to ask here What else does God want to give me? What else is he working out in me through this situation? Then I could dwell on healthy, truth-based answers rather than answers based on my topsy-turvy feelings.

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Want to learn more about working through life’s transitions? Get Girl Meets Change on Vyrso today!

All month long, read exclusive interviews with Christian authors and get great recommendations! Don’t miss a post in this series—subscribe to Vyrso’s RSS feed, follow Vyrso on Twitter, and like Vyrso on Facebook!

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