New Ebook from Tullian Tchividjian: It Is Finished

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Today we have an exclusive look at Tullian Tchividjian’s newest ebook It Is Finished: 365 Days of Good News. Tullian is the senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, a Lecturer of Pastoral Theology at Knox Theological Seminary, and grandson of Evangelist Billy Graham. He has written numerous ebooks including customer favorites Surprised by Grace: Gods Relentless Pursuit of Rebels and One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World.

 

January 23   |   Romans 9:8

How often have you heard the gospel equated with a positive change in a believer’s life? “I used to __________, but then I met Jesus and now I’m ___________.” It may be unintentional, but we make a serious mistake when we reduce the good news to its results—such as patience, sobriety, and compassion—in the lives of those who have heard it. These are beautiful developments, and belief in the gospel does produce such fruit. But the results should not be confused with the gospel itself.

Well-meaning Christians sometimes adopt a narrative of improvement that becomes a functional law for them through which they filter their experiences. The narrative can be as simple as “I was worse, but now I am better,” or as arbitrary as “I used to have a difficult relationship with my mother, but now it’s much easier.” Soon we wed our faith to these narratives, and when an experience or feeling doesn’t fit—for example, when we have a sudden outburst of anger at someone we thought we had forgiven—it disturbs our security or causes us to doubt.

If the narrative we’ve adopted says that our lives have to get better in order for our relationships with God to be legitimate, we twist the gospel into a moral improvement scheme.

God is not interested in what you think you should be or how you should feel. He is not interested in the narrative you construct for yourself or that others construct for you. He may even use suffering to deconstruct that narrative. Rather, He is interested in you, the you who suffers, the you who inflicts suffering on others, the you who hides, the you who has bad days (and good ones). And He meets you where you are. Jesus is not the man at the top of the stairs; He is the man at the bottom, the friend of sinners, the Savior. [Click to tweet]

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Get an entire year of devotions by Tullian Tchividjian when you download his new ebook, It is Finished for just $10.19 today!

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Four Habits that Changed my Life: An Adventure in Healthy Living

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Have you made a big health resolution for 2015? Maybe you’ve resolved to go to the gym three times a week, lower your cholesterol by 10 points, or lose 20 pounds. Whatever your goal, changing your habits is key to making the change.

For me getting healthy wasn’t initiated at the beginning of 2014, but rather as a result of a six-month battle with a parasite. In total desperation, I gave up—I gave up trying to figure out what was wrong, I gave up wanting answers, I gave up hoping for a miracle, and I gave up the thought of a quick medical fix. Have you ever been in this sort of situation? Maybe you’re ready to give up on your resolution this year or give up on trying to be healthy. Instead of giving up completely, give up and let God. My health battle only started to turn when I gave up control and began to rest in scriptures like Psalm 46:10, Psalm 73:26, and Romans 5:8. If you begin to rest in scripture, I think you’ll start to see God change your heart and your habits. I made four key changes after I gave up my health battle last year and my health has dramatically improved.

Here are four habits worth changing for a healthier life:

Rest

Getting proper rest plays an important role in our overall health. With proper rest our brains begin to function at a higher level, our emotions improve, and our body is able to repair itself.[1] Rest gives us the time to recharge and get a clear picture of where we’re going. For me, getting rest has meant stepping down from a few volunteer roles, making sure I get a full eight hours of sleep, and not overworking myself.

Eat Smart

I’m learning that eating smart looks different for everyone, and changes as we age. Over the past six months I’ve cut out most dairy products, almost all sugary snacks, and soda. I’ve seen a number of friends make significant changes to their diets as well and their lives are changed. Some removed gluten, others cut out all sugars, and some avoid dairy. Whatever your view point, finding a healthy diet usually makes a huge difference in your physical health, your energy levels, and your attitude. If you’re looking to make changes to your diet, check out our health and fitness section for a plethora of resources to help you evaluate your diet and even cook healthy meals.

Get active

In my opinion, this habit is the hardest to change in the middle of winter. Finding options outside of classic exercises like running, biking, and swimming can be key to staying active in the dreary winter months. Here are just a few ideas for staying active: join a rec-basketball team, rock climb, dance with your kids, play soccer, shovel snow for your neighbors, or play table tennis.

Think positive

Dr. Caroline Leaf has a PhD in communication pathology specializing in neuropsychology—she studies how the brain operates—and often shares how our “thought life” is tied to our physical health. She has published numerous articles, speaks at nation-wide conferences, and has written a new ebook, Switch On Your Brain. In chapter one Dr. Leaf shares this astounding finding, “Research shows that 75 to 98 percent of mental, physical, and behavioral illness comes from one’s thought life. This staggering and eye-opening statistic means only 2 to 25 percent of mental and physical illnesses come from the environment and genes.” She goes on to explain that our thoughts actual influence our DNA and physical wellbeing. Needless to say, when I started thinking positively about my outlook my situation, both my health and actions started to change.

Whether you’ve resolved to make a big change, or maybe you—like me—hit a bump in the road, I hope you’re able to stick to your resolutions and keep some healthy habits all year!

 


[1] National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Why Is Sleep Important, http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why  (accessed January 19, 2015)

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Author Snapshot: Tony Merida

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Today we have the privilege to dive a little deeper into Tony Merida’s new ebook, Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down. Tony is one of our top 15 authors to watch in 2015 and the author of Faithful Preaching and Orphanology. He is the founding pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, North Carolina and happily married to Kimberly with their five adopted children. Enjoy this excerpt:

There is nothing more ordinary than a meal. In preparation for a message on hospitality (Luke 14:12–24), I asked my kids at the dinner table, “What are your all-time favorite meals?” The answers included meals at birthday parties (especially those with piñatas!), Thanksgiving dinners, and Christmas dinners. My wife included a Passover meal that we had with some friends. My top pick was our wedding dinner. I’ll never forget the music, the friends, the amazing food, and of course, eating with my new beautiful bride, my dear companion, Kimberly.

What are your all-time favorite meals?

My guess is that the majority of people wouldn’t select meals based solely on taste; they would pick meals that involved special company. Friends, family, fun, and good food are ingredients for unforgettable meals. You want these nights to last forever.

Few people would select the burrito they grabbed one night at a Taco Bell drive-thru as their all-time favorite meal, or eating Ramen Noodles alone as a broke college student, or grabbing a chicken wrap as they scurry to their gate at the Atlanta airport. We long for more. So much more.

How does something as ordinary as a meal become extraordinarily meaningful? Why is it that when a loved one dies in your family, one of the most precious memories you have of them is around the dinner table? Their absence is felt particularly strong when you sit down without them. What is this saying to us?

All of these experiences are pointing us toward the kingdom of God. The apostle John tells us of a marriage supper in Revelation 19, in which we enjoy a meal with our King. Christ is the Groom and we are His bride. It’s a picture of total satisfaction. Isaiah prophesied about this messianic feast, saying:

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. . . . He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces. [Isaiah 25:6,8]

Think about this vision. The Lord Himself will prepare a meal with the finest of meats and the finest of wines for His people. He will serve the best, and we won’t have an ounce of disappointment.

The reason we long for companionship and good food with great friends and family is that we’re made for this experience. This life is pointing us to the next life. Unfortunately, too many of us have underdeveloped notions about heaven. Some think it’s an endless sing-along. Others have a cartoon concept of heaven, like sitting on a cloud in a diaper playing a harp. Still more have an Eastern idea of heaven. When they think of heaven, they think of an ethereal realm of disembodied spirits.

Let’s think again. Think new heaven and new earth, with our real, glorified bodies, with Jesus, and all His people, feasting and rejoicing in the grace of God.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not only going to feast in heaven, but one of the pictures that we should see is this idea of a messianic banquet. Jesus told a parable saying that all are invited to His banquet, yet sadly many decline the invitation because other things are more important.[Luke 14:12-24] How kind of the King to invite us to His party!

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You can download Ordinary for just $4.99 through January 27! Explore how doing ordinary things, such as humble acts of service and hospitality, can create a huge impact on the world.

Excerpted from Ordinary: How to Turn The World Upside Down by Tony Merida. Copyright 2015 B&H Publishing Group

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Author Snapshot: Emily P. Freeman

Emily P. Freeman's A Million Little Ways

In today’s author snapshot, we learn what it looks like to live like an artist in an excerpt from Emily P. Freeman’s new ebook, A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live. Emily is one of our top 15 authors to watch in 2015 and the author of Graceful (For Young Women): Letting Go of Your Try-Hard Life and Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast Moving World. She is a writer and speaker from North Carolina, where she lives with her husband John and their three children. The following excerpt from A Million Little Ways  is used by permission of Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Copyright © 2013.

In his book Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton makes a pretty good argument that the poets of the world understand the beauty of life more freely than do those who are always trying to figure things out.

Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion . . . To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.[1]

It is enough to think about for a long time. I can’t say I fully understand all the implications of what he says here, but it stirs something in me that I can’t easily let go. I consider what living life like a poet might mean.

The girls asked me to come read to their class today.

I pull into the school parking lot, Ivy and Bean tucked into my purse, anxiety pulsing in my chest. I sign in at the computer in the office, think about living art and what it means for a mom frazzled in the lobby. I walk slowly through the hallway, savor the quiet before the third grade eyes find me.

What does it mean to live life like an artist in the midst of this everyday hustle?

The question brings a shift. The word poet comes to mind.

I realize I am clenching my jaw, moving to the next thing like a chess player. I’ll make this move and then this will happen. I am in control of everything.

In this small moment standing outside their classroom, I am compelled to approach these next few moments like they are lines in a poem rather than items on my agenda.

I don’t feel overwhelmed with the responsibility to do this in everything.

Just in this one thing, right now.

I don’t know exactly what it means, but the mystery of the concept draws me in. I stand in this one moment and for the next twenty of them, I have agreed to read to the class. This, right here, is all my life is right now.

Emily, don’t just show up with your body. Show up in your soul. Be fully alive. Let me be fully alive in you.

I do not change the world today. But I decide to show up where I already am. The God of the Universe lives in me on a Friday in their third grade classroom. There is much left undone at home, in the sink, on my laptop, in my heart. I don’t feel ready to live like a poet.

In this, there is no ready. There is only belief.

Show up as a poet once, and chances are, you’ll do it again.

Uncovering the art alive within me and releasing it into my world is what it means to worship God. Showing up in their classroom is worship when I do it as the person I fully am. Living as an artist profoundly affects how I relate in community with others.

This is what it looks like to take small steps toward the mystery. You aren’t moving to figure things out or to catch up to an expectation, but you are moving because you are alive. You have a glimpse of what it might feel like to live life as an artist in the middle of your ordinary day.

You are aware of your desire for a map, but all you sense is a mystery. Instead of a plan, you are simply asked to show up in this day the same way you did the day you were born, with empty hands and an instinct to depend on someone bigger than you.

[1] G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (Chicago: Moody, 2009), 31-32

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You can download A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live for just $9.09! Uncover the creative, personal imprint of God in your life and move into the world with courage with the help of A Million Little Ways.

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Author Snapshot: Preston Yancey

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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.

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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

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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.

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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 Vyrso.com and great deals on resources to enrich your faith. While you can read most Vyrso ebooks on Biblia.com 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 Vyrso.com, 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.

STILL STAYING

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 Biblia.com! 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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