Author Snapshot: Preston Yancey


In today’s author snapshot we have an exclusive look at an excerpt from Preston Yancey’s new ebook, Tables in the Wilderness. Preston is one of our Top 15 Authors to Watch in 2015, husband to Hillary, and a priest in training. He’s an active contributor to Grace Table and The High Calling, and is currently employed by the Anglican Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast as Canon Theologian. 

During Christmas Vigil and Easter Vigil in liturgical churches, a significant portion of the service is given to a collection of several Bible readings. The stories weave together to tell a broad perspective of the plan of God’s redemption from garden to resurrection.

I think of this as a gesture toward preserving the collective memory. We pass the stories on for the days when we forget, for the days when we are uncertain, for the middle-of-the-night moments when we think it impossible that God should be made man or that God should die and then rise again.

For the times of silence.

Do I steward it well? In the pause before the babe-cry that rings out of Bethlehem or the glory of the Lord that overtakes the soldiers at the empty tomb? In the breath-moment of terra uncertain? Do I hold on to the stories I have been given? Do I remember to pass them down?

Maybe that’s what this is.

One of my best friends emailed me a few days ago about the Bible. He told me he thought that the reason why it was so cyclical, the same stories over and over again with different characters each time, was because the point was in remembering the feel of it. We retell the same stories so that we don’t forget what it feels like to be a people wandering in the desert, searching for a promised land. We retell the same stories so that we don’t forget what it feels like to be a people who were once called “Not a People” and have now been called by God.

I think of this as I try to write the past. I think of how I must have leached the emotion out of some fragments of the stories for the sake of being able to put them down. I am trying to remember how it felt to live them for the first time. Somehow I catch myself thinking of it like I think of Scripture—the cyclical retelling, and I marvel at how little we must change between the centuries, how in the end we’re all still searching for a Kingdom that is not of this world, how we are so desperate to be known, to be called.


In Tables in the Wilderness, Preston Yancey shares his story of coming to terms with a God who is bigger than the one he thought he was worshiping: get his new ebook, Tables in the Wilderness, on Vyrso today!


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Author Snapshot: Shauna Niequest


In today’s author snapshot we have an exclusive look at one of the stories Shauna Niequest shares in her ebook, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life. Shauna is one of our Top 15 Authors to Watch in 2015 and the author of Bread and Wine, Bittersweet, and the upcoming ebook Savor: Living Abundantly. You can pre-order Savor for just $10.99 today on Vyrso! Shauna is married to Aaron and they have two boys, Henry and Mac. She writes for the Storyline Blog and for IF: Table and is a guest teacher at her church Willow Creek.

Until a few years ago, I’d always lived in a new house. But I’d always wanted to live in an old house. I thought of myself as an old-house person, a person who appreciates character over perfection, who likes the bumps and bruises of an old home. So when we moved to Grand Rapids, we bought an old house, an English Tudor built in 1920 with a Hobbit-house sloping roof. I fell in love with it. It has arched doorways and hardwood floors and funny little corners and built-in cabinets. We moved in and started fixing it up, painting, and putting in new outlets and new fixtures.

And then I went over to a friend’s house—a new house. I was overcome with jealousy over her new house, not because it was fancy or big, but because the toilets didn’t run, and none of the windows were painted shut, and none of the doorknobs get stuck. At our house, there’s a doorknob that sticks so emphatically, that if my husband’s not home to open it, I can’t get in. I have to make sure I don’t leave anything important in there when he’s out of town.

I was so jealous of my friend’s new house, that when I got back to my house, all I could see were the imperfections, the fixer-upper things that were not yet fixed up. The floors are uneven and the tiles are cracked and the drawers squeak and the radiators clank. We have both bats and mice. The basement smells funny, and I just found some big pieces of the basement ceiling on the floor. I’m not a contractor, but I don’t think that’s a good sign.

I think of myself as an old-house girl, but I guess there’s still a lot of new house in me. I want to love the imperfections, but in a weak moment, I want central air and granite countertops so bad I can’t take it. Some of it, unfortunately, is about what other people think. I’m fairly certain that our house is the bad house in the neighborhood, and that our neighbors are whispering to each other disapprovingly every time they drive by.

I was getting ready one morning, putting on makeup and looking out the bathroom window to the street. This woman was driving by very slowly, like she was checking things out, giving us the once-over, and I really had to stop myself from screaming out the window, “We’re doing the best we can! We’ve only been here, like, five minutes! We’re totally unfamiliar with gardening of any kind, and one can only learn so fast!”

But I didn’t know that lady. The person having a problem with the house, clearly, is me. And it’s not about the house. It’s about me. I can’t handle any more things that are not quite right in my life, because I feel like that’s all I’ve got. I feel like every single part of my life has bumps and bruises and broken pieces.

I want to be all shiny and new, all put together, and I just can’t get there. The things I try to forget don’t go away, and the mistakes I’ve made don’t go away. I’m a lot like my old house— cracked and mismatched and patched over.

On my worst days, I start to believe that what God wants is perfection. That God is a new-house God. That everything has to work just right, with no cracks in the plaster and no loose tiles. That I need to be completely fixed up. I always think that God’s kind of people are squeaky-clean people whose garages don’t leak; but really, a lot of the people God uses to do amazing things are people who don’t necessarily have it all together. A lot of the best stories in the Bible, the ones where God does sacred, magical things through people, have a cast of some serious fixer-uppers.


Get more from Shauna Niequest’s: download a collection of her stories in her ebook,  Cold Tangerines for just $8.99 today on Vyrso!

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How to Read Your Ebooks with the Vyrso App

Read Your Ebooks with the Vyrso App

You’ll find a selection of free ebooks on and great deals on resources to enrich your faith. While you can read most Vyrso ebooks on or in the Logos app, you should read them with the Vyrso app

When you read with Vyrso, you’ll enjoy tools and features designed to make Christian ereading enjoyable. The Vyrso app comes with one-touch Bible references, making it easy to read verses mentioned in your ebooks without leaving the page. Cross-library search makes it easy to find ebooks, quotes, and passages within your library, which includes both Vyrso and Logos resources. Highlighting and notes allow you to keep track of and save passages from your reading. The Vyrso app also keeps track of your place in your ebook—it will automatically open to where you left off in any ebook.

If you don’t have the Vyrso app, make sure to download it. Vyrso is available on iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire.

Here’s how to start reading with the Vyrso app:

1. Download the ebook of your choice

Once you find the ebook you want to read on, click “Add to cart” on the product page, then “place order” from your cart.

2. Open the Vyrso app

You may be required to enter your Faithlife username and password if this is your first use. Your purchase will automatically sync to your library.

3. Tap “Library” to find your ebook

Your downloads and purchases will display in a list, making it easy to explore your digital library. You can also search within you app to find resources, quotes, and topics of interest in no time.

4. Tap the ebook to begin reading

 Vyrso will remember your spot in your reading, so you don’t have to worry about losing your place!

 Download the Vyrso app today and start reading!

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Top 15 Authors to Watch in 2015

Vyrso's Authors to Watch in 2015

With so many upcoming releases from talented Christian authors, 2015 is shaping up to be an exciting year for readers. We reached out to the most popular Christian publishers and asked them about their top picks for authors to watch in 2015.

Packed with seasoned authors and up-and-coming writers alike, we’ve compiled a list of our top 15 authors (in no particular order) who have new books coming out this year and are working on some incredible projects in 2015.


1. Jessica Turner

Turner is a wife, mother of two, and writer of The Mom Creative, a blog dedicated to creating “a life well-crafted”—sharing her own life and encouraging other women. In her first book, The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You, Turner looks to empower women to practice self-care and do the things they love with pockets of time they already have. The Fringe Hours releases in February 2015.

2. Tony Merida

On top of being the founding pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, Tony Merida has written many books, including Faithful Preachingand Orphanology. Look out for Merida’s latest book, Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down, releasing early this year. Ordinary explores how by doing ordinary things, such as humble acts of service and hospitality, Christians can create a huge impact on the world.

3. Lara Casey

Lara Casey is a woman with a mission. Not only is she the publisher and editor-in-chief of Southern Weddings Magazine, but Casey founded the Making Things Happen movement in 2009, a conference dedicated to helping others find their gifts and passions to discover how to make what matters happen. Her passion for mentoring and faith is apparent in her new book, Make It Happen, releasing in early January of 2015. Make It Happen encourages women to let go of the chase for perfection and cultivate the rich life God desires for them.

4. Matt Chandler

Marriage and dating are tough and complex topics to address. This year, author and pastor Matt Chandler weighs in on marriage and dating in his book, The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Sex, Marriage, and Redemptionoffering a perspective on love from the biblical book Song of Solomon. Chandler helps singles and couples navigate dating, marriage, romance, and sex in a culture inundated with songs, movies, and advice about love that often contradict God’s design for love and intimacy.

5. Shauna Niequist

You won’t want to miss Shauna Niequist‘s, Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are. Savor is Niequist’s first devotional, which focuses on food, faith, friendship, and delighting in the heart of God. Niequist also penned Bread and Wine: Finding Community and life around the Table, a collection of recipes—like blueberry crisp, goat cheese biscuits, mango chicken curry, and more—paired with short essays on family, relationships, and how each meal in the book brings people together.

6. Emily P. Freeman

Emily P. Freeman is a passionate writer and speaker on grace, art and creativity, faith, and writing. Author of A Million Little Ways and Graceful (For Young Women), Freeman has been writing for over nine years on her blog, Chatting the Sky. She’s a monthly contributor for (in)courage and has traveled as a blogger with Compassion International. Her fourth book, Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World is due in 2015.

7. Josh McDowell

Josh McDowell has been in ministry for over 50 years, founded Josh McDowell Ministry, a division of Cru, and has authored and coauthored over 115 books. You won’t want to miss McDowell’s latest book, God-Breathed: The Undeniable Power of Reliability of Scripture, which unpacks how Scripture—the living Word of God—speaks directly into our lives.

8. Dawn Camp

On top of being a photographer, blogger, and mother of eight, Dawn Camp has collaborated with some of the top, bestselling authors in her first book, The Beauty of Grace, set to release by Revell this January. In this book, Camp combines her photography with a collection of stories on purpose, perspective, and encouragement from talented writers like Margaret Feinberg, Holley Gerth, Leeana Tankersley, and more.

9. David Platt

David Platt has a deep passion for global disciple-making. Platt has served at The Church at Brook Hills since 2006 and has written several books on discipleship, missions, and the Gospel. This February, Platt releases the highly-anticipated book, Counter Culture, a look at social justice from a biblical standpoint. Counter Culture makes a compelling case for why Christians are called to fully and actively surrender themselves to every cause—regardless of personal cost or consequence.

10. Katie Farrell

Founder of Dashing Dish, a health and food blog, Katie Farrell is a registered nurse in Michigan with a passion for teaching people how to lead healthier lives. Farrell has two books coming out this year, both focused on healthy eating, cooking, and leading a healthy spiritual life. Dashing Dish: 100 Simple and Delicious Recipes for Clean Eating (out in January 2015) is packed full of recipes and tips for eating healthier. Mix together delicious recipes and daily devotionals and you’ll get Devotions for a Healthier You (out in January 2015).

11. Preston Yancey

You won’t want to miss Preston Yancey’s first book, Tables in the Wilderness: A Memoir of God Found, Lost, and Found Again, in which he shares his story of coming to terms with a God who is bigger than he could ever imagine, and how God speaks in many different ways. With a foreward by Jefferson Bethke, Tables in the Wilderness, has received praise from Christian authors like Rachel Held Evans, Shauna Niequist, Jonathan Martin, and more. Yancey is a blogger and Canon Theologian at the Anglican Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast.

12. Jessica Thompson

Relationships and parenting are two tough arenas, and Jessica Thompson offers grace-filled and Christ-centered advice for both. In 2010, Jessica Thompson teamed up with her mom, Elyse Fitzpatrick, to bring us the parenting resource, Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus. This year, they’ll do it again with Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions, due in early 2015. Thomspon’s solo release Everyday Grace: Infusing All Your Relationships With the Love of Jesus teaches that it’s not our job to “fix” the people we’re in a relationship with, but to reveal and receive the grace of Jesus.

13. David Smith

Over the last 15 years, David R. Smith has focused on youth and college ministry, pastoring hundreds of students and equipping ministry leaders through training events, seminars, books, and more. Smith attended seminary and received a Master of Divinity in church ministry. His upcoming book, Christianity. . . It’s Like This, takes an uncomplicated look at the Christian faith, unpacking important doctrine, what it means to be a Christ-follower, and discussing the Bible, God, and salvation. Christianity. . . It’s like This releases in February.

14. Annie Lobert

Annie Lobert’s first book, Fallen: Out of the Sex Industry and into the Arms of the Savior, comes out this February. In Fallen, Lobert writes about her 16-year harrowing journey in the clutches of the sex trafficking industry, being owned by a violent pimp, and finding redemption in Jesus. She’s the founder of the nonprofit ministry Hookers for Jesus, which reaches out to prostitutes and sex trafficking victims to share the gospel and help them escape the lifestyle they’re trapped in. Part of her ministry includes Destiny House, a safe haven for women to live in while healing from the serious trauma of being sex trafficked.

15. John Croyle

John Croyle rose to recognition as an All-American defensive end at the University of Alabama during head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s legendary tenure. Instead of pursuing professional football, Croyle made the decision to start a home for abused and neglected children, establishing Big Oak Boy’s Ranch in 1974. Today, the outreach has three branches, and Croyle has written books on raising children, including his new book Who You Are: A Story of Second Chances, which tells the story of how his ministry began.

Subscribe to Vyrso Voice to stay tuned for guest posts, interviews, and new books from these authors in 2015!

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Still Staying: An Excerpt from Matt Chandler’s The Mingling of Souls

5 Ebook Picks on Relationships, Love, and Marriage

Today, we have an exclusive excerpt from Matt Chandler’s newest ebook, The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Sex, Marriage, and Redemption. In this new release, Chandler takes a look at The Song of Solomon and unpacks it’s candid—and timeless—insights on romance, dating, marriage, and sex. This is the perfect resoource for someone looking to dive deeper into understanding marriage, for the newly-engaged couple that’s curious about what’s to come, or for singles who want to learn more about Christ-centered dating.


Now we move forward in the Song:

Set me as a seal upon your heart,

as a seal upon your arm,

for love is strong as death,

jealousy is fierce as the grave.

Its flashes are flashes of fire,

the very flame of the LORD.

Many waters cannot quench love,

neither can floods drown it.

If a man offered for love

all the wealth of his house,

he would be utterly despised. (Song of Solomon 8: 6–7)

For the record, the word for “love” in this passage is that word ahava. It’s the clinging love, the “I’m not going anywhere” love.

Ahava is as strong as death. Its flashes are fiery, sourced in the consuming fire that is God. All the oceans covering the earth cannot drown ahava. It is worth more than all the treasures of the world.

If we’re going to be faithful to the end, we will often have to lean into the covenant that we made with our spouse and with the Lord. We will need to access again and again, by God’s grace, this devoted ahava, which says, “It’s not an option for me to go anywhere because Jesus would not abandon his bride.”

I have been physically fit my entire life. I am tall and lean and have always been strong for a man as lean as I am. I have been told I have a powerful presence. I like to have fun, I like to goof around, and I have been blessed with what seems to be a boundless amount of energy. These were things that attracted Lauren to me. She often described me as our family’s “recreation coordinator.”

But then I got sick.

And all of that strength and vitality, in a matter of months, simply vanished. The ability to be playful, the ability to be creative, the ability to goof off were gone. Not only that, but my ability to really take care of myself, to do fairly simple tasks, vanished. I couldn’t even take a shower by myself, and the kind of accompaniment I needed there was not sexy, all right? I lost the ability to even stand.

I lost so much of my ability to, in a way, be myself. There was no way I could romance my wife. My desire for sexual intimacy was gone. For a while I began to wonder what the brain surgeries had done to me. I wondered if, should I ever get over this cancer stuff, I would always be unable to do some of the things I enjoyed so much. Maybe I was going to be broken this way for a long time.

Lauren saw me at my worst. I wasn’t in that kind of depressive “I hate everyone” mentality, but I was at my worst in terms of being very weak, unattractive, unstable, unable to get myself to the toilet so I could vomit and lie on the cool tile of the floor. I was a mess. And in those moments, I praised God for ahava love. As I look back, I still praise God for ahava love.

I praise God that this flighty kind of Cupidian, Valentine-y, emotive love isn’t what we’re hoping will hold us all together! Praise God that the love we trust to keep us from falling apart is ahava. Praise God that as miserable and messy as I was, my wife was a regular reminder of God’s grace to me. [Click to tweet] She didn’t turn and run. She stayed with me, helping me, loving me, and carrying me. Lauren demonstrated her love toward me in this: that she lived into an ahava love even when I could not reciprocate.


You can download and read the rest of The Mingling of Souls from Vyrso for just $9.59—just purchase the ebook in our ebook store today and read it in the Vyrso app or your favorite web browser via! If you haven’t checked out the Vyrso app, you can download it free for iOSAndroid, or Amazon Fire devices.

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Vyrso’s Best of 2014 — Reader Favorites

Vyrso's Best of 2014

The results are in for this year’s top 20 reader favorites on Vyrso! In 2014, Beth Moore and John Piper were crowd favorites, leadership and discipleship were popular topics, and Vyrso readers loved downloading free ebooks (and who doesn’t?) You can download all 20 ebooks (please note this link will add all 20 ebooks to your cart) and catch up on the most popular reads from 2014!

2014 Reader Favorites

1. Praying God’s Word Day by Day  by Beth Moore—get it for $9.99

2. To Live is Christ by Beth Moore—get it for $9.99

3. You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis and Lisa Chan—get it for $9.99

4. Alive to Wonder: Celebrating the Influence of C.S. Lewis by John Piper—get it free!

5. Sanctification in the Everyday: Three Sermons by John Piper—get it free!

6. Astonished: Recapturing the Wonder, Awe, and Mystery of Life with God by Mike Erre—get it             for $9.74

7. Worldview: Learning to Think and Live Biblically by Greg Laurie—get it for $7.49

8. MissionShift by David J. Hesselgrave and Ed Stetzer—get it for $14.99

9. What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey—get it for $8.99

10. The Pastor’s Kid by Barnabas Piper—get it for $8.44

11. Creature of the Word by Matt Chandler—get it for $9.99

12. Found: God’s Will  by John MacArthur—get it for $3.74

13. Be All You Can Be by John C. Maxwell—get it for $10.19

14. Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp—get it for $3.74

15. When Sinners Say “I Do” by Dave Harvey—get it for $3.74

16. Transformational Discipleship by Eric Geiger—get it for $9.99

17. The Truest Thing about You: Identity, Desire, and Why It All Matters by David Lomas—get it              for $9.74

18. Mentor Like Jesus by Regi Campbell, Richard Chancy, and Andy Stanley—get it for $9.99

19. An Infinite Journey by Andrew M. David—get it for $13.99

20. Radically Normal: You Don’t Have to Live Crazy to Follow Jesus by Josh Kelley—get it                      for $9.09

Stay tuned to all the best deals and latest news on Christian ebooks: subscribe to Vyrso Voice today!

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Top 4 Bundles from the 24 Days of Vyrso

If you haven’t had a chance to browse our selection of titles available during the 24 Days of Vyrso, there are some awesome deals you won’t want to miss. We have exclusive savings on the titles you love! Through January 9, you can save upwards of 65% on ebooks by Kevin DeYoung (Day 6), Thom Rainer (Day 7), Greg Laurie (Day 9), and Josh & Sean McDowell (Day 10 & Day 23). To help you find our most popular bundles, here are four of our best sellers so far!

Top 4 Best-Selling Ebook Bundles:

Day 11: John MacArthur Jr. Bundle—get it for $13.99!

Learn from John MacArthur Jr. with three ebooks for just $13.99! You’ll get Our Awesome God, The Keys to Spiritual Growth, and Truth Endures. Each resource ispacked with MacArthur’s in-depth focus on unpacking scripture. Save $25 when you download this ebook bundle.


Day 19: Shepherd Press Bundle—get it for $11.99!

Our Shepherd Press Counseling Bundle is filled with small booklets aimed at helping you equip, encourage, and counsel those around you. Whether it is an ebook for yourself or one that might help you answer a friend’s questions, the Shepherd Press Counseling Bundle is a helpful companion to dealing with debt, cancer, depression, terminal illness, and many other difficult topics. We’ve discounted this bundle for just $11.99—you’ll save $25.82!


Day 15: Men of Character Bundle—get it for $41.99!

This 12-ebook bundle by Gene Getz examines role models of the Old and New Testaments in situations relevant to modern times. You’ll get ebooks on the Apostles, Nehemiah, David, Moses, Jacob, Joseph, Abraham, Paul, Joshua, Elijah, Samuel, and Daniel. Download all 12 for just $41.99, saving you over $77.89!


Day 12: Pastoral Leadership Bundle—get it for $13.99!

In The Pastoral Leadership Bundle, you’ll get Pastor’s Handbook, which is helpful in handling real life pastoral issues (“things that might have fallen through the cracks in seminary.”) The Empowered Leader by Calvin Miller shows how following David’s example can turn you into the leader you can be, the leader God wants you to be. In Season of a Leader’s Life, Jeff Iorg identifies Peter from the Bible as someone who lives through all three phases of a leader’s life—learning, leading, and leaving a legacy. Finally, Deacons by Henry Webb deals with every aspect of the roles and offices of deacons in the church. Get all four for just $13.99 and save $27.97!


Explore all of the 24 Days of Vyrso deals by scrolling through the full selection on! But hurry, all bundles expire January 9 at 11:59 p.m. (EST).


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6 Titles to Read this January


I’m really excited about the coming New Year. January looks to be incredible month with a ton of new content releasing from some of our favorite authors. Soon, Vyrso will release the annual “Authors to Watch” awards, which consists of Vyrso’s top picks for up-and-coming authors and new releases in 2015. Our 2014 list named some of this year’s most popular authors, including Eugene Cho, Fawn Weaver, Kevin DeYoung, and Shelene Bryan. In the meantime, we want to share a list of 6 can’t-miss ebooks you’ll want to pre-order:


The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Sex, Marriage, and Redemption by Matt Chandler

The Song of Solomon offers strikingly candid—and timeless—insights on romance, dating, marriage, and sex. We need it. Because emotions rise and fall with a single glance, touch, kiss, or word. And we are inundated with songs, movies, and advice that contradicts God’s design for love and intimacy.

It Is Finished: 365 Days of Good News by Tullian Tchividjian

God’s radical grace is unbelievable, unexplainable, and definitely undeserved. But it’s the foundation of our faith. In this new 365-day devotional, Tullian Tchividjian reminds you every day that the gospel is good news. It’s God’s message that he loves us even when we don’t deserve it. These short readings each contain a truth from God’s Word that will set you on a solid foundation for the day—a foundation of God’s grace, goodness, and unconditional love.

40 Days to Lasting Change: An AHA Challenge by Kyle Idleman

Do you want to see change in your life, but don’t know how to get there? In this thoughtful devotional, Kyle Idleman invites you to address that behavior or thought pattern using three key elements: You Awaken to the reality of your spiritual condition; you see yourself and your need for a Savior with brutal Honesty; and this realization leads to Action as you follow Christ’s example.

Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down by Tony Merida

Ordinary is not a call to be more radical. If anything, it is a call to the contrary. The kingdom of God isn’t coming with light shows, and shock and awe, but with lowly acts of service. Tony Merida wants to push back against sensationalism and “rock star Christianity,” and help people understand that they can make a powerful impact by practicing ordinary Christianity.

The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating by Andy Stanley

Author and pastor Andy Stanley explores the challenges, assumptions, and land mines associated with dating in the twenty-first century. Best of all, he offers the most practical and uncensored advice you will ever hear on this topic.

The Third Target by Joel C. Rosenberg

When  New York Times foreign correspondent J.B. Collins hears rumors that an al-Qaeda splinter cell has captured a cache of chemical weapons inside Syria, he knows this is a story he must pursue at all costs. Does the commander of the jihadist faction really have the weapons? If so, who is the intended target? The U.S.? Israel? Or could it be Jordan?

Be sure to check back soon to get a peek at some of this year’s best selling titles!

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A Christmas Reflection: God with Us

Christmas Reflection

Today’s Christmas post is by Susie Larson, a radio host, national speaker and author of over 10 books. Some of her titles include, Your Beautiful Purpose, Blessings for the Morning, and The Mended Heart. Susie is madly in love with her husband of nearly 30 years, her 3 grown sons, her beautiful daughters-in-law, and her pit bull, Memphis. 

All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’.) (Isaiah 7:14 NLT)

Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. I love the sights, sounds, and smells of the season. I love the chance to give gifts to those I love and to some I have never met. I love moments by the tree to count my blessings, to remember God’s faithfulness throughout the year.

For me, this holiday—celebrating Christ’s birth—represents God’s infinite potential to save our souls, to fill our cup, to connect us with loved ones, and to restore what’s been stolen.

I must confess, though, for many years, I dealt with Christmas-envy, which surfaced while walking through one “not-yet” season after another.  I noticed others’ blessings in light of what I seemed to lack. I longed for a breakthrough—for life not to feel so hard, and for God’s provision to match our need. But during that time, those things were hard to find. Bed rest, sickness, disease, and more medical debt than we could pay, left me feeling like a have-not, like the girl who pressed her nose up against the window and longingly watched others celebrate this happy time of year.

Many years ago when the holidays were upon us, I remember specifically thinking, “this will be the year. The winds of adversity have shifted and a new season is in our midst. This will be my Merry Christmas year.”

My husband sat on the living room floor and untangled Christmas lights. Our three little boys sang Christmas songs and excitedly pulled ornaments from the box. Our in-laws had given us their big, beautiful Christmas tree to replace our puny, Charlie Brown one. Music filled the air. Cookies baked in the oven. The children celebrated with glee.

I peeked into the living room when I noticed a funny look on my husband’s face. “Is everything all right?” I asked. He rubbed his nose, looked this way then that, and faintly said, “Um, yes. Everything’s fine. Everything is going to be fine.” I startled and said, “Oh no! What’s wrong?”

Well, it seems, that last spring, while doing a little spring cleaning, my dear husband threw away half of our large, beautiful Christmas tree. And a portion of our Charlie Brown tree. Leaving us with exactly two halves of two trees that didn’t belong together.

In a moment’s time, the cookies overcooked and burned, the cassette tape (dating me, I know) got swallowed up in the recorder, and my husband’s tree-building endeavor came to a screeching halt. My heart sank and I wondered why—for the life of us—we couldn’t pull off the kind of Christmas scene you see on the holiday commercials. Or why that impossible dream mattered so to me.

My sweet husband was determined to make this right. He said, “Not to worry, honey. I just need a few of my tools.” Bless his heart.

With my hands in the sudsy water, I scraped the burnt cookie remnants from our only cookie sheet. I listened to the sounds of an electric drill in the living room. I heard the skill saw fire up a time or two. And I wondered, Does anybody else’s living room resemble a construction site?

Nighttime came and I put the kids to bed. My hubby still hard at work, I kissed the top of his head and said, “It’s okay, honey. We don’t need a tree this year. Thanks for a valiant effort.”

I crawled in bed and fell fast asleep only to wake in the middle of the night to find Kev’s side of the bed still untouched.

I walked in to the living room and gasped. My husband sat on the floor in front of the most perfect, beautiful, medium-sized Christmas tree I had ever seen. He held the control to the lights like they were the control to a racecar. I put my hands on his shoulders and kissed the top of his head. Without turning around he whispered, “I was going to make it a rotating tree but figured I should stop while I’m ahead.”

I chuckled and crawled in his lap. Together we stared at our very own Christmas blessing. Suddenly overcome with emotion, I realized how much my life, our life together, resembled this tree. Kev sat in the mess of our living room and envisioned the finished product. He knew what he was after and was committed to seeing it through to the very end.

Our lives were a mess in so many ways. We were still buried in medical debt. I still battled sickness. Our house was still falling apart. But we had Immanuel—God—With—Us. He was with us in the mess, committed to our story, and would see it through to its beautiful conclusion.

Jesus came to earth wrapped in human skin, was born into poverty, and walked the earth for us. He came to us, to our mess, and to our need.  Though we love a good Christmas holiday celebration, what we need is salvation. Jesus came to save us. [Click to tweet!] And he’s redeeming our story one step a time.

No matter what life season you’re in this Christmas, may your capacity to know Jesus, trust his love, and embrace his nearness grow by leaps and bounds. God is with you. And it’s impossible for him to fail you.

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Advent Reflections: A Visit from Heaven

Ray Beeson, "A Visit from Heaven"

Today’s advent reflection is by Ray Beeson, the founder of Overcomers Ministries, a teaching ministry with a special emphasis on spiritual warfare and prayer. Ray teaches seminars on spiritual warfare, prayer, and Christ-like living. He is the author of numerous books, including Signed in His Blood.

2,000 years ago God visited this planet in a way unlike he had at any other time in history. He descended unseen in the shelter of a woman’s womb and would not fully reveal himself for another 30 years. When he did, people would come to know that heaven had indeed touched earth.

In the glare of Christmas lights and the busyness of the season, the story did not become reality until I realized that this tiny baby had come to visit me—and you. He was on a mission to help us do business with heaven, not so much in a corporate sense but with every individual personally. The miracle that God performed in Mary was to become our miracle as well. The glory of heaven living in her would soon become the Christ who would live in us by his spirit. God would strengthen man in his weakness, and the fear of death would be destroyed by the presence of the Prince of Peace. Jesus didn’t come to start another religion; he came to introduce us to a spectacular personal bond with God. [Click to tweet!]

The task was quite different than anyone could have conceived, and he did not come as a conquering king as some had expected. For a deity to suddenly step down from heaven onto earth without first revealing his character would have been a disaster—for God to stand in a place where the world could see and proclaim that he loved people would have been met with further rebellion.

How could God show up now after so many years of suffering and sorrow and simply proclaim that he loved them? It would be necessary to prove that love before the reestablishment of the relationship. And he would start that proof with the advent of a baby, a baby who would introduce us to God’s love and grow to be recognized as God’s son.

Most of us have difficulty believing that we are candidates for God’s love. But in this Advent season we are encouraged to remember that God loves us so much, and he wants to perform a miracle in us just like he did in Mary. Are we worthy? Hardly! Good enough? Not even close! That’s why he sent Jesus. Are we able to establish an acceptable righteousness? Far from it! That’s why he sent that tiny baby.

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