The Power of Story

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The following guest post is by Creston Mapes, author of the inspirational thrillers Sky Zone, Poison Town, and Fear Has a Name. He has written for some of the world’s most recognized corporations, colleges and ministries, and has ghost-written seven non-fiction titles. His early years as a reporter inspire many of his novels.

The following excerpts are reprinted with his permission from the novel Fear Has a Name.

***

The husky man lurking outside the front door of Pamela Crittendon’s house carried a black leather satchel, like a doctor’s bag.

His face was hardened and pasty, with tiny eyes and a thatch of curly red hair. He wore all black, from his T-shirt and leather vest to his jeans and cowboy boots. And he stood uncomfortably close to the door.

The doorbell rang a third time.

Pamela’s head buzzed.

He clamped the doorknob. “Open!”

The hardware made a sickening racket.

“Get out of here!” Her stomach turned. “I’m calling the police!”

She rushed for the phone in the kitchen.

Boom!

Pamela halted, turned toward the noise at the door, and gawked in horror as the stranger bent over and drove his shoulder—the size of a medicine ball—into the door, splintering the wood frame.

BOOM!

• • •

After the home invasion, from which Pamela and her children escaped, the following conversation ensued between Pamela and her husband, reporter Jack Crittendon.

“I want us to get a gun,” Pamela said.

Jack’s face fell.

“How else will we defend ourselves if he comes back?”

Jack’s mouth sealed and his eyes narrowed.

“We can’t count on a patrol car coming by here once every few days,” she said.

He still didn’t speak.

“Your dad had a gun,” Pamela said. “Mine has one.”

“Does that make it safe?”

“Safe? Let’s talk about safe! There’ll be nothing left to keep safe if he comes back!”

Pamela waited, resolute.

“Look,” he finally said, “his coming back today raises the stakes, I admit it. I just think that before we buy a gun and learn to use it—which we can certainly do—we need to ask ourselves if that’s the best choice, the wisest choice. Is it what God wants? If it is, great; we’ll do it.”

Pamela’s head dropped into her hands. She didn’t want to talk about what God wanted. Not now. She knew what she needed and that was all there was to it. Her mind and body and spirit felt utterly spent, and the day was only half over.

“I understand you felt helpless,” Jack said. “We just need to make sure we both agree completely before we decide to keep a weapon in this house that can take someone’s life . . .”

• • •

In my book, Fear Has a Name, there’s been a home invasion. Time reveals that the young wife and mother in the book, Pamela Crittendon, is being stalked by a former classmate. She wants a gun in the house to defend herself and her children in case the fiend returns. Her husband feels they need to discuss some important issues — would it be safe to have a gun with two girls in the house; would you be willing to use the gun and shoot to kill; is this something God wants for us?

Gripping fiction can cause readers to think about things from a perspective they never had before, and perhaps even explore the issues in greater depth once they’ve put the book down.

One of my intentions when writing fiction is to cause readers to stop and think, and to contemplate controversial issues they may have never come to terms with before. All six of my books have reflected what God was doing in my life at the time of writing.

One of the biggest questions I was wrestling with when I wrote Fear Has a Name was, why do terrible things happen to good people, especially Christians? Why does God allow such trials for His children? This was burdening me. Here is a quote I found that we inserted at the beginning of Fear Has a Name, reflecting on those same weighty questions:

 “It’s a very long story, but the short version is this:

I realized that I could no longer reconcile the claims of faith

with the facts of life . . . I could no longer explain how there can be a good and

all-powerful God actively involved with this world, given the state of things.

For many people who inhabit this planet, life is a cesspool of misery

and suffering. I came to a point where I simply could not believe that there is a

good and kindly disposed Ruler who is in charge of it.

Bart D. Ehrman

Indeed, are we Christians supposed to skim over unfairness and atrocities — purposefully squelching any thought of them? How do we reconcile events like 9-11, the Holocaust, the ISIS beheadings, and things like home invasions, kidnappings, and random rampages?

I still don’t have a concrete answer. These things grieve me. My heart mourns for the people impacted. But, somewhere deep down in my soul, I know my Maker reigns. And that became the overarching theme of Fear Has a Name: “No matter what — even the unthinkable — God is in control. He is bigger. Mightier. On His throne. And I can trust Him; I must trust Him. Who else can I turn to in my distress, but the Maker of heaven and earth?”

We ended the book with several thought-provoking statements that I found in my research:

“Evil is a departure from the way things ought to be.

But it could not be a departure from the way things ought to be unless

there is a way things ought to be. If there is a way things ought to be,

then there is a design plan for how things ought to be.

And if there is such a design plan, then there is a designer.”

R. Douglas Geivett

 

“Thus it is not like a child that I believe in Christ and confess him.

My hosanna has come forth from the crucible of doubt.”

Anne Fremantle

I wonder if a fictional story has ever had a profound or life-changing impact on you? If so, we would love to hear from you — on that, or any other thoughts or opinions this blog may have brought to mind.

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Simply Trusting: The Story of Lysa Terkeurst

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Recently, we had the privilege of interviewing Lysa Terkeurst about her new book, and her insight into making wise decisions. Her powerful message helps free Christians who are trapped by indecision and burdened by choices. Now, she’s on the cover of the next issue of Bible Study Magazine!

Subscribe to Bible Study Magazine today, and save over 32% off the cover price!

God doesn’t make mistakes

Check out this excerpt from the cover story:

“When Lysa TerKeurst—author, speaker, and mother of five—began working for Proverbs 31 Ministries, she felt ‘like God made a mistake in calling me because I was hyper-aware of my imperfections.’ Then, through a friend’s Bible study, TerKeurst discovered ‘the concept of my identity being in Christ—that I was a dearly loved child of God, and his love is not based on my performance.’ Now, ‘reading God’s Word is exciting because I need it. I am so desperate to know how to do life in the way God wants me to.’”

BSM is full of articles and tools to help you grow in your faith. Along with a fantastic article on Lysa Terkeurst, the September-October issue digs into The Gospel through Oppression and Freedom with Pastor Gelu Paul-Faina, and explores 1–3 John with “Not Your Average Bible Study.” You’ll also find D.I.Y. Bible study tips, thoughts from the Church fathers, things they don’t tell you in church, and more.

Subscribe to Bible Study Magazine to get the Lysa Terkeurst issue. For more from Lysa Terkeurst, check out her new book, The Best Yes, available now!

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Developing a Lifelong Marriage

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A lot of people discount V-Day as just a “Hallmark Holiday.” While the naysayers may be on to something, I still choose to celebrate the day with my wife. I don’t go over the top; I try to keep it simple and focused. I’ll write her a letter, buy her flowers or chocolate, or maybe make a special dinner—who wants to fight the crowds? The key isn’t to focus on one single date, but to continue these acts of simple love and affection throughout the year.

I do all of this to celebrate the love we share, encourage my wife, and continue a lifelong marriage. When over 50% of marriages fail, I think it takes something special—more than a spark: a lasting flame—to keep a marriage going.

A flame needs three things: oxygen, fuel, and a spark. If there isn’t a spark or enough oxygen and fuel, the fire can’t brighten the spirits of those around it. A marriage is very similar, especially for Christians. It needs more than that first spark. If we don’t include God in our marriages, the fire can’t be sustained very long; pride, selfishness, and society will quickly extinguish the flame. If both partners aren’t willing to serve, the marriage will eventually fizzle.

If you feel like your marriage is fading, or you simply want to keep building it up, let me encourage you with two ebooks’ worth of wisdom:
1) Lifelong Love Affair by Jimmy & Karen Evans, discounted to $4.99 today only
2) The Mountaintop of Marriage by Marriage Today, exclusively marked down today to $5.00

What are some of the ways you care for your spouse or significant other?

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Time’s Up: Introductory Savings on Logos 5 End at Midnight!

Vyrso is a part of Logos Bible Software, and last fall, Logos introduced its finest Bible software yet: Logos 5. Maybe you’ve heard about Logos’ smart, precise features. Its massive libraries. And its introductory discounts of 15% or more, which end at midnight (PST).

Logos allows you to start with a word or phrase and do hours’ worth of studying in seconds. You can look up the answers to your children’s tough questions, see visuals for the passages you’re studying, and stay in the Word with reading plans and reminders. And with our free mobile apps, you can study the Bible no matter where you are.

The best time to upgrade to Logos 5 is right now.

You’re not going to get a second chance to save up to 15% with introductory pricing. But don’t wait any longer—this deal ends at midnight!

Visit Logos.com, call our upgrade hotline at 1-888-875-9491, or email the sales team and talk with someone about your upgrade options.

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A Discussion with Marriage Specialist Jimmy Evans

lifelong love affiar

We talked with Jimmy Evans, author and founder of MarriageToday, about his goal of preserving marriages and his new book, Lifelong Love Affair: How to Have a Passionate and Deeply Rewarding Marriage.

Vyrso Voice: What was your favorite part of writing Lifelong Love Affair?

Jimmy Evans: I love the feeling of sharing what God has done in our marriage with others. Karen and I are now in our 40th year of marriage. We’ve had the blessing of helping thousands of couples and have a lot of experiences from that to share with others. There were many important truths and principles I share in counseling and seminars that I have never written about until Lifelong Love Affair. I love the opportunity to put them in writing knowing they are going to encourage and bless others.

Vyrso Voice: What sets it apart from some of your other works?

Jimmy Evans: Lifelong Love Affair is a book that embodies some of the most important principles the Lord has taught us over the years. One of the most crucial practices I share in Lifelong Love Affair is the importance of vision in marriage and how to have a vision retreat. This truth transformed our marriage. We have taught it to couples all over the world and without exception every couple who does it sees the same results.

Vyrso Voice: Why do so many marriages limp along with the same struggles year after year?

Jimmy Evans: There are a couple of reasons. The first is that we stop prioritizing our marriage and give attention to other areas. The result is an anemic relationship lacking the proper priority and energy.

The other reason is wrong expectations. For some reason, we think that when we get married we should thrive in soul-mate heaven without working at it. Marriage requires constant work and investment. It is how we fell in love and how we stay in love after getting married.

Karen and I were high-school sweethearts. We were deeply in love until I knew I had her. Once that happened, I became lazy and took her for granted. That’s when we were on the brink of divorce. Thankfully, we turned to the Lord, and He saved our marriage.

What we learned then, which still affects our marriage almost 40 years later, is that our marriage must stay first in priority, and we must work at meeting each other’s needs.  We ditched the soul-mate myth years ago—the belief that if you marry the right person, marriage works effortlessly.

Every marriage requires attention and cultivation. Without it, your marriage will limp along without the passion and intimacy you desire.

Vyrso Voice: Do you have a particularly meaningful story of a couple touched by MarriageToday that you’d be willing to share with us?

Jimmy Evans: One couple, Nathan and Julia Tyndall, thought they’d have a fairy-tale marriage, full of romance and happiness like the love stories. But three years later, they were fighting and arguing constantly. Julia had become demanding and selfish. In turn, Nathan insisted that she change to meet his needs. Neither of them would budge, and finally Nathan moved out.

On the day Julia printed out the divorce papers, she happened to turn on the television and saw a listing for MarriageToday. She turned on the program while she did the dishes—40 marriage-ending sheets of paper awaiting her signature on the table just a few feet away—and heard me say that God can restore and heal any marriage. “It was as if Jimmy was speaking straight to me,” she said. “I put the divorce papers in the recycling bin.”

That night, she asked God to change her heart, to transform her actions and expectations about their marriage. “Things started to change,” she says. “God began to use me to bring healing back into the marriage.”

Today, Nathan and Julia are back together and their marriage is thriving, thanks to MarriageToday. “God used this show to start the process of saving our marriage,” Nathan says. “We are living proof that God can take anything and make it new again.”

*  *  *

Would you like to transform your marriage by attending a MarriageToday event? Register now for the Lifelong Love Affair Seminar & Simulcast February 8–9, 2013. Watch the simulcast with your spouse, or make an event of it with your small group or church. If you’re near Southlake, TX, register to attend the event at Gateway Church. Let MarriageToday help strengthen your relationship. Register now.

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An Excerpt from Jarrid Wilson’s 30 Words: A Devotional for the Rest of Us

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When pastor and blogger Jarrid Wilson asked fellow Christians what they were struggling with most in their walk with Christ, a startling majority responded, “spending time with God.” To help them, Wilson wrote 30 Words: A Devotional for the Rest of Us. A daily devotional, 30 Words gives readers a new word for 30 days, accompanied by Scripture, teachings, and a challenge to live out the Word.

Research suggests that it takes 30 days to form a habit, and Wilson wants us to make spending time with God our new habit.

Enjoy this excerpt from 30 Words: A Devotional for the Rest of Us:

Sacrifice

Regardless of your religious beliefs, attempting to kill your only son because someone told you to will always sound a little bit strange. It’s because of this that the story of Abraham and Isaac is one of the most controversial and discussed stories of all biblical text.

I’m not trying to bash this story. I believe it paints a powerful picture for us in regard to our faith, making us consider to what extremes we would go to prove our faith.

Here’s the back story: God has continually promised Abraham an heir through his wife, Sarah; He has also promised Abraham that his descendants would come through this son. When she is 90 years old, Sarah gives birth to Isaac. Then, not long after this, God calls Abraham to offer up his only son as a worthy sacrifice. Genesis 22:9–10 describes the experience:

When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice.

The word “sacrifice” can be defined as giving up something for the sake of something or someone else. God requests that Abraham sacrifice the very thing he loves dearly to test whether Abraham fully trusts in Him and has placed his heart fully in Him. He is looking for Abraham to prove his faith.

From Abraham’s story, we see just how epic of a statement a sacrifice can make. We also get a picture of just how much God loves us: He spared Abraham from having to give up his son, but for us, God sacrificed His only son so that we could know Him.

How much would you sacrifice for someone you loved? What would you give up to prove your love for God?

Verse of the Day:

Romans 12:1: “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” (NLT)

Challenge:

Give up something you know is hindering your relationship with God. It may be something as simple as TV, or something as harmful as drugs. Regardless, anything hindering your relationship with God is something you can live without. Today is your day to make a change for the better and step into a new way of living.

* * *

You can radically improve the time you spend with God. For only $3.99, get your copy of 30 Words: A Devotional for The Rest of Us today!

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A Historical Look at the National Day of Prayer

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George Washington planted the seeds for what would become the National Day of Prayer in 1775:

“The Honorable the Congress having recommended it to the United States to set apart Thursday the 6th of May next to be observed as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, to acknowledge the gracious interpositions of Providence; to deprecate [to pray or entreat that a present evil may be removed] deserved punishment for our Sins and Ingratitiude, to unitedly implore the Protection of Heaven; Success to our Arms and the Arms of our Ally: The Commander in Chief enjoins a religious observance of said day and directs the Chaplains to prepare discourses proper for the occasion; strictly forbidding all recreations and unnecessary labor.”

Since that time, national conflicts have often encouraged presidents to request a day for prayer and fasting. John Adams called on Americans to pray at the beginning of the Quasi-War with France. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln encouraged prayer for a war-torn republic saying:

“It is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”

On April 17, 1952, President Harry Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer into law:

“Now, Therefore, I, Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Friday, July 4, 1952, as a National Day of Prayer, on which all of us, in our churches, in our homes, and in our hearts, may beseech God to grant us wisdom to know the course which we should follow, and strength and patience to pursue that course steadfastly. May we also give thanks to Him for His constant watchfulness over us in every hour of national prosperity and national peril.”

In 1988, President Reagan amended the law, designating the first Thursday in May as the a day to focus on prayer.

Thursday, May 3, is this year’s National Day of Prayer. Vyrso Voice will focus on prayer week by suggesting helpful literature to enrich your prayer time.

All week long, you can pick up Vice Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force and Executive Member of the National Prayer Committee John Bornschein’s new ebook The Front Line: A Prayer Warrior’s Guide to Spiritual Battle from Vyrso for just $4.25. Bornschein explores prayer’s basic elements, obstacles, and import in this critical offering. If you only download one ebook on prayer this week, make it The Front Line. 

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Save 85% on Our Triune God from Vyrso!

Our Triune God

The doctrine of the Trinity is almost as misunderstood as it is essential. Many Christians have a hard time articulating an orthodox understanding of this foundational tenet.

Our Triune God: Living in the Love of the Three-in-One  (available from Vyrso all March long for only $1.49!), is  an accessible primer on trinitarian theology. With Our Triune God,  you will understand clearly communicated doctrine as well as  its important implications for the Christian.

This ebook is divided into four chapters:

  • The Saving Trinity: Our Triune God and the Plan of Salvation
  • The Mysterious Trinity: Our Triune God and Human Comprehension
  • The Practical Trinity: Our Triune God and the Christian Life
  • The Joyous Trinity: Our Triune God and His People

“Philip Ryken and Michael LeFebvre have written a delightful book that will help us to better understand the great truth of the Trinity: one God in three Persons. Better yet, it should cause us to grow in our appreciation of the distinct works of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in our salvation and sanctification. I heartily commend this book.”—Jerry Bridges, author, The Pursuit of Holiness

Add Our Triune God to your library during March as part of Vyrso’s Bring Back Spring sale.

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Invest in Your Prayer Life with Ebooks from Vyrso!

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How are you doing on your 2012 resolutions? Recent studies suggest that only 1 out of 5 people will keep the promises they made to themselves for the New Year, and a third of those will have given up by the end of January.

New Year’s Resolutions by Christians often revolve around the conviction to devote more time to prayer. If this is an area you are resolved to improve in, we at Vyrso want to help! We have many wonderful resources available to help get your prayer life off to a good start this year.

When You Don’t Know What to Pray: How to Talk to God about Anything  by Linda Evans Shepherd

Have you ever struggled with God’s answers (or apparent lack of response) to your prayers? Do you wonder how to pray when life seems to get the best of you? You are not alone. Let Linda guide you through the how, what, and when of personal prayer, and find the encouragement to keep at it—despite your circumstances.

This powerful ebook is on sale for only $2.24 through tomorrow, January 19. Pick it up now!

Prayer Coach by James L. Nicodem and Bobby Bowden

Any athletes worth their salt have coaches encouraging them in areas of weakness and pressing them in the areas of their strengths. What if you could have a coach who did that for your prayer life? With Prayer Coach, you can! This ebook offers you practical advice on the principles of prayer.

The Power of Persistent Prayer by Cindy Jacobs

Is there such a thing as a more effective prayer life? Cindy Jacobs believes there is. The Power of Persistent Prayer will challenge the habits and practices that hinder your prayer life and create powerful routines for effective prayer.

Make prayer a priority in 2012 and let Vyrso help. No matter your age, background, or gender, Vyrso has many wonderful resources on prayer.

And don’t forget to pick up a copy of  When You Don’t Know What to Pray for only $2.24 through January 19!

 

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Don’t Miss Out on Vyrso’s January Sales

We’ve got quite a few free and heavily discounted books available throughout the month of January. So if you’re looking for some new reading material, then check out all the great ebook deals featured this month.

Get It Free

Start by grabbing a free copy of The Lady of Bolton Hill. It expires today (January 13, 2012), so hurry! You’re going to love this tale of faith, romance, revenge, and social justice.

In The Lady of Bolton Hill, author Elizabeth Camden tells the tale of a female American journalist from the latter part of the nineteenth century. Clara Endicott, the fiercely intelligent crusader against the injustices in London industry, is forced to return home to Baltimore. It’s there she is reunited with a childhood sweetheart who is no longer the destitute steelworker she left. Clara soon finds herself embroiled in a web of intrigue and danger.

Return often to see what other freebies will be offered this month!

Take Advantage of These Deals!

There are some incredible prices on some of your favorite Christian books. You’ll find great deals on fiction and non-fiction, including topics like Christian living, prayer, health, and more! Check out these heavily discounted titles:

Check out all the books that are discounted (or free!) this month on the January deals page!

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