Get 3 Free Ebooks: Jump, The Stranger in Your House, and Solitary

Vyrso has created a way for Christian readers to enjoy personal reading anywhere! With affordable ebooks, a free ereader app, and one-touch Bible references, Vyrso is dedicated to helping you get the best ebooks for the best price.

Through October 30, you can add these three ebooks to your library for free!

Jump by Efrem Smith

Relationships

Jump is a powerful guide to becoming a vehicle of compassion, reconciliation, and transformation in our world.

Life is all about jumps. We jump from high school to college, school to the professional world, dating to marriage. Each leap launches us to new levels.

Even though we can’t see what’s on the other side of the wall, our faith jumps are about trusting that God is there. We experience the liberation when we jump into the arms of our Savior, then into a church family, and then into a world desperately in need.

Efrem Smith presents fresh insights into how Christians can say yes to the jump that takes them deeper into a loving, devotional, intimate life with God.

The Stranger in Your House by Gregory L. Jantz

To My SonsHe’s in his room for days at a time and barely responds when I talk to him; she’s teary every day, one minute demanding I tend to her needs and the next minute demanding I leave her alone. . . 

What’s going on with your teenager? Is it just the ups and downs of adolescence, or is it something more?

Depression has the ability to derail a teenager’s progress toward healthy adulthood—and confuse and frustrate you. With years of experience, Dr. Gregg Jantz will answer your hardest questions about this critical season in your child’s life.

This ebook will help you see beyond the closed-room years of adolescence and open the door to hope.

Solitary by Travis Thrasher

Enough

This first book in the Solitary Tales suspense series from Travis Thrasher reminds readers that darkness cloaks both danger and redemption.

When Chris Buckley moves to Solitary, North Carolina, he faces the reality of his parents’ divorce, a school full of nameless faces—and the mysterious Jocelyn Evans.

Chris soon learns that Jocelyn and her town have deep—and terrifying-secrets. As he slowly begins to understand the horror, the question becomes whether he can save Jocelyn in time.

In his debut novel for teens, Travis Thrasher furthers his reputation of having the writing ability to scare the wits out of his audience while challenging them.

Don’t wait—these deals end October 30!

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Embracing Both Holiness and Happiness

Happiness and Holiness

Today’s guest post is by Vyrso’s Author of the Month, Randy Alcorn. Check out his new ebook, Happinesson Vyrso now!

As a young pastor, I preached, as others still do, “God calls us to holiness, not happiness.”[i]

There’s a half-truth in this.

I saw Christians pursue what they thought would make them happy, falling headlong into sexual immorality, alcoholism, materialism, and obsession with success.

I was attempting to oppose our human tendency to put preferences and convenience before obedience to Christ. It all sounded so spiritual, and I could quote countless authors and preachers who agreed with me.

I’m now convinced we were all dead wrong.

There were several flaws in my thinking, including inconsistency with my own experience. I’d found profound happiness in Christ; wasn’t that from God? Furthermore, calling people to reject happiness in favor of holiness was ineffective. It might work for a while but not in the long run.

My study of Scripture and church history since then has helped me understand that true holiness always manifests itself in authentic happiness. Psalm 1:1 says, “Blessed [happy] is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.”

Tony Reinke gets it right: “Sin is joy poisoned. Holiness is joy postponed and pursued.”[ii]

Holiness doesn’t mean abstaining from pleasure; holiness means recognizing Jesus as the source of life’s greatest pleasure. (Click to Tweet)

Spurgeon put it this way: “Holiness is the royal road to happiness. The death of sin is the life of joy.” For those of us who are Christ-centered believers, our lives should overflow with both holiness and happiness.

In Revelation 20:6, makarios, meaning “happy,” is joined with hagios, meaning “holy.” The following versions capture this beautiful combination:

  • Happy and holy [is] he who is having part in the first rising again. (Young’s Literal Translation)
  • Those who are raised from the dead during this first time are happy and holy. The second death has no power over them. (Revelation 20:6, NLV)
  • Happy and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! (PHILLIPS)

Sadly, too often our message to the world becomes a false gospel that lays upon people an impossible burden, as in “to be a Christian, you must give up wanting to be happy and instead choose to be holy.” In fact, happiness and holiness are inseparable. “Give up happiness; choose holiness instead” is not good news, and therefore it is not the “good news of happiness” spoken of in Scripture (Isaiah 52:7)!

God has made holiness and happiness to enjoy a similar relationship: each benefits from the other. For those of us who are Christ-centered believers, our lives should overflow with both.

When Jesus says, “Be perfect” (Matthew 5:48), we should recognize that true happiness in him is part of what he intends. Our pleasure is won in the “Aha!” moments of discovering firsthand why God’s ways really are best. The more we discover God’s ways and experience the goodness of his holiness, the less we try to find happiness apart from him. (Click to Tweet)

[i] Richard Mansel, “God Calls Us to Holiness, Not Happiness,” Forthright Magazine, March 4, 2008, http://forthright.net/2008/03/04/god_calls_us_to_holiness_not_happiness_1/.

[ii] Tony Reinke, “The World’s Joy-Tragedy,” Desiring God, August 30, 2014, http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-world-s-joy-tragedy.

———

Read Randy Alcorn’s Happiness to learn more about celebrating happiness and joy.

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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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Should We See a Difference Between Happiness and Joy?

Happy

Today’s guest post is by Vyrso’s Author of the Month, Randy Alcorn. Check out his new release, Happiness.

An ungrounded, dangerous separation of joy from happiness has infiltrated the Christian community.

The following is typical of the artificial distinctions made by modern Christians: “. . . There is a big difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is an emotion and temporary; joy is an attitude of the heart.[i]

Judging from such articles (and there are hundreds more out there), you’d think the distinction between joy and happiness is biblical. It’s not. [Click to Tweet!]

John Piper writes, “If you have nice little categories for ‘joy is what Christians have’ and ‘happiness is what the world has,’ you can scrap those when you go to the Bible, because the Bible is indiscriminate in its uses of the language of happiness and joy and contentment and satisfaction.”[ii]

Here’s a sampling of the more than one hundred Bible verses in various translations that use joy and happiness together:

  • For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor. (Esther 8:16, NIV)
  • I will turn their mourning into joy. . . and bring happiness out of grief. (Jeremiah 31:13, HCSB)
  • Give your father and mother joy! May she who gave you birth be happy. (Proverbs 23:25, NLT)

The relationship between joy and happiness in these passages refutes two common claims: (1) that the Bible doesn’t talk about happiness, and (2) that joy and happiness have contrasting meanings. In fact, the Bible overflows with accounts of God’s people being happy in him.

Depicting joy in contrast with happiness has obscured the true meaning of both words. Joyful people are typically glad and cheerful—they smile and laugh a lot. To put it plainly, they’re happy!

Consult English dictionaries and you’ll see how contrived this supposed contrast between joy and happiness is. The first definition of joy in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is “a feeling of great happiness.”[iii] The American Heritage Dictionary defines joy as “intense and especially ecstatic or exultant happiness.”[iv]

Happiness is joy. Joy is happiness. Virtually all dictionaries, whether secular or Christian, recognize this. [Click to Tweet!]

As I explore in Happiness, according to the vast majority of the usages of these two words in (1) English history, (2) English literature, (3) Bible translations, and (4) English dictionaries, the words have far more in common with each other than not.

For too long we’ve distanced the gospel from what God created us to desire—and what he desires for us—happiness.

We need to reverse the trend. Let’s redeem the word happiness in light of both Scripture and church history. Our message shouldn’t be “Don’t seek happiness,” but “You’ll find in Jesus the happiness and joy you’ve always longed for.”

———

[i] Brian Cromer, “Difference between Joy and Happiness,” Briancromer.com (blog), April 28, 2008, http://briancromer.com/2008/04/28/difference-between-joy-and-happiness/.

[ii] John Piper, “Let Your Passion Be Single,” Desiring God, November 12, 1999, http://www.desiringgod.org/conference-messages/let-your-passion-be-single.

[iii] Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary (Britannica Digital Learning, 2014), s.v. “joy,” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/joy.

[iv] American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed., s.v. “joy.”

———

Read Randy Alcorn’s Happiness to learn more about celebrating happiness and joy.

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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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Happiness Is God’s Command—and a Pleasant Calling—for His People

Happiness

Today’s guest post was written by Vyrso’s Author of the Month, Randy Alcorn. In his new release, Happiness, Alcorn dispels centuries of misconceptions about happiness and provides indisputable proof that God not only wants us to be happy, he commands it.

C. S. Lewis said, “It is a Christian duty . . . for everyone to be as happy as he can.”[i]

Happiness is a privilege. However, since God repeatedly calls upon us to rejoice, delight, and be glad in him, we have an obligation to actually do so. [Click to Tweet!]

This makes sense only if the God we love is happy, if the gospel message we embrace and proclaim is happy, and if Heaven is a happy place. It makes sense if we understand that people long to be happy and won’t turn to Jesus if they believe there’s no happiness in him. Others will judge whether there’s happiness in Jesus by whether they see happiness in his followers. Hence, our happiness is, indeed, a Christian duty.

But what an incredibly wonderful responsibility it is . . . like being required to eat Mom’s apple pie! We’re accustomed to thinking of duty as drudgery, not happiness. But a person’s duty to love his or her spouse or to care for a son or daughter, and a soldier’s duty to defend his country—when done with the right heart and perspective—all bring satisfaction, contentment, and happiness.

Paul’s words in Philippians 4:4 are often translated “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.” They could also be translated, “Be happy in the Lord always, and again I say be happy.” Commenting on this verse, Spurgeon said, “It is intended that we should be happy. That is the meaning . . . that we should be cheerful.”[ii]

This passage commands us twice to be glad in God. A command carries with it the duty to obey, and when it’s repeated, that expectation is intensified. Fortunately, when God commands us to rejoice, his Holy Spirit empowers us to obey.

The fact that “rejoice” is followed by “always” and is repeated (“again I say rejoice”) makes it one of the most emphatic directives in Scripture. If our lives are not characterized by rejoicing, or if we’ve given up on happiness, we’re missing out on what God intends for us. [Click to Tweet!] We must go to him and ask for his help and empowerment to find joy in him.

Only if we truly want to experience the happiness-driven desires of our hearts will we be drawn to God by verses such as this: “Seek your happiness in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desire” (Psalm 37:4, GNT).

The Contemporary English Version and God’s Word Translation both render the final clause in John 16:24 this way: so that we will be “completely happy.” You may not be accustomed to thinking that God commands us to be happy. But it’s a fact. And I’m betting it’s a command most of us would like to obey!

[i] C. S. Lewis, as quoted in Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992), 189.

[ii] Charles H. Spurgeon, “Joy, a Duty” (Sermon #2405).

———

Read Randy Alcorn’s Happiness today and learn more about celebrating happiness and joy.

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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.

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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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An Imperfect Journey to God’s Perfect Plan: An Interview with Wendy Duke

Grace in the Middle

We had the privilege to interview author Wendy Alcorn about her new re-release, Grace in the Middle: An Imperfect Journey to God’s Perfect Plan. 

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.

About Wendy Duke

My background and first love is coaching and teaching; I played basketball in college and taught English and coached high school basketball for 10 years before we began working in full-time sports missions and ministry. I was raised as a Christian but didn’t surrender my life to Jesus until I was 29 years old, on a tile floor at the end of a hospital hallway.

Now I write, teach and speak about our crazy family life, the beauty and truth found in God’s Word, and other wild things God teaches me on ordinary days.

A passion for people drives me to write: my life has been impacted profoundly by the words of others, and I want to use my writing to encourage, inspire and challenge people to trust God, to love God and others, and to live bravely. My greatest dream for my words is to link the next generation to God.

The inspiration behind Grace in the Middle

Grace in the Middle is the story of our family’s journey when our first baby was diagnosed with a disability and life-threatening illness.

We discovered devastating news at our first ultrasound, rejected the suggestion to abort, and then found ourselves in a Cancer Treatment Center just 10 days after our daughter was born.

I wrote the book, first, as a healing process and a journal of sorts. As the story was shared and people began to respond to it, I realized it was an encouragement to other families who find themselves in similar situations. We revised the original manuscript with specific people in mind: families fighting through medical crises, people battling with faith and doubt, and even women facing difficult or fearful pregnancies.  

I did not sugarcoat how difficult it was and is to trust God in our most bitter struggles, and people seem to find relief that they are not the only ones struggling to hold onto faith. But through all of it, God was faithful and drew us to Himself during our darkest days. He still does. [Click to Tweet!]

Wendy’s advice for families going through hard times:

You can choose to lean on God wholeheartedly and let Him do His work in you, or shut down and become bitter. The first produces a deeper, richer faith and a refined heart–even when the situation doesn’t turn out the way we’d hoped. Bitterness and withdrawal from God is a no-win situation. [Click to Tweet!] Not only do we feel more alone and helpless, but in the end, nothing in us has changed for the better.

Lean on each other. Crisis situations are hard on marriages and on children. Every family member will respond differently to fear and grief and stress. Acknowledge each other’s feelings and give them room to react differently then you might. The worst response you can have is to isolate yourself or stop communicating with other family members—you will all need each other.

It’s critical to be plugged into a supportive community. Become or stay an active part of an active church, one that will come alongside you and know you by name.)Isolation is a killer of the soul, and there is a tendency to withdraw during difficult times, but you not only need people, they need you: we need to watch each other walk through spiritual battles.

Wendy’s book recommendations:

Oh, so many!  Elisabeth Elliot’s Shadow of the Almighty had a profound impact on me: our family also works in the mission field, and her strength of faith after her husband’s death is staggering. That story wrecked me, in all the good ways.

Beth Moore’s writing and teaching of God’s word through her Bible studies has also had a huge impact on my faith development. I had not studied the Bible before that long night on the hospital floor, and I’m incredibly grateful for the amount of time and work Moore has spent in helping people dig deep into God’s Word.

Other favorite writers and books that have strengthened my faith and appreciation for the art of writing are:

These books have challenged my thinking, and most of these have taught me to forge such a thriving relationship with God that He just naturally spills out of my laptop into anything I write. I still believe that books and words change people and can change the world.

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Draw inspiration and encouragement from the Duke family’s story in Grace in the Middle: An Imperfect Journey to God’s Perfect Plan 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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