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FICTION FILE [ ASK THE AUTHOR ] Ted Dekker PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 04:22 PM EDT

Dekker-TedLatest project: A.D. 30 (9781599954189, $25, Oct. 28).

PUBLISHER:
Center Street (Hachette Book Group).

What is the premise of A.D. 30?

A.D. 30 is the story of an outsider, a Bedouin woman from the Arabian Desert named Maviah, who has been devastated by tragedy and thrust into an impossible situation. When all hope is lost at the midpoint of this epic, she encounters an enigmatic teacher and worker of wonders named Yeshua—a man who speaks of things too wonderful, and dangerous, to believe. His Way of being in the world turns life on end and promises staggering power in the face of the storms that rise to crush us all.

How is this book different from your previous novels?

This is the first novel I’ve written that’s rooted deeply in history. Where “The Circle” series retold our redemptive story in a fantasy world, the A.D. trilogy engages that same story of transformation as it was, on the ground. It’s also the first time I’ve written about our redemptive journey in a non-allegorical way. Over the past several months, my publisher, Center Street, has put the book into the hands of hundreds of Christian retailers, pastors and church leaders across the country. One thread of conversation runs through nearly all of our interactions with them, and it’s that many are experiencing Yeshua again for the first time.

In what ways is A.D. 30 similar to your other work?

All of my novels are born out of an obsession to discover the truth for myself—the truth about our Father, His love for us and the truth about who I am in Him. It’s been said that life is a never-ending cycle of remembering and forgetting. My novels are a way for me to explore that cycle, experience what it’s like through the eyes of a character, going to the deepest depths and rising again reborn.

What inspired you to write A.D. 30?

Though I grew up in the church, I rarely saw or experienced the staggering power to live with power and love those who abused me, as He promised I would. I wanted to encounter Him in His story and engage His teachings—perhaps I was missing something. What I found was spectacular; the effects on my own life cannot be overstated. I wrote this novel to discover the treasure, the pearl of great price, the Way of Yeshua for this life that He claimed we would find. It’s why I call it, “The Forgotten Way of Yeshua.”

How do you describe Maviah?

Like all of us, Maviah is an outsider to the Jewish context. She’s experienced deep pain and loss that’s scarred her, and she lives in a culture that views women as little more than property. Though a strong woman to the core, she lives in a perpetual state of fear and cannot fathom true love. The teachings of Yeshua, and more, His presence, radically challenge her view of herself. His news seems too good to be true, and His Way promises great power in this life. Maviah’s story is our own; it belongs to all of us. Who hasn’t felt deep shame or cut off from ourselves and others? Like Maviah, we long to love effortlessly and cast aside fear in the face of the storm, though it seems so impossible those storms rise.

What is one of your favorite scenes?

So many, naturally, or I wouldn’t have written them. The first kiss. The hilarious encounter with Arim. The death of Brutus. The first encounter with Yeshua, halfway through the book. To see Him is to be in awe. The encounter on the lake haunts me still in the best of ways. The climax in Petra, while tens of thousands look on—may we all follow the Way of Yeshua.

What research did you conduct to write this novel?

AD30I’ve never researched a novel to the extent I did A.D. 30. I have stacks of books and notes from conversations with scholars. I also retained one of the world’s leading authorities on first-century Arabia to act as a resource and editorial sounding board for every aspect of the story. As I was writing it, I remembered why I’ve stayed away from historical fiction for so long. To do it well requires a tremendous amount of effort and attention to details, however obscure they may be.

What is one thing you hope readers gain from reading A.D. 30?

I want them to encounter Yeshua again for the first time. There is a significant amount of cultural baggage that comes with being a 21st-century Western believer in Jesus. We all know the doctrines about Jesus. We think we believe in the name of Jesus, and we know all of the right teachings and statements of faith. But knowing about isn’t the same as knowing Him or to believe in him. It takes two to know, to be intimate. The gift that fiction gives us is the ability to actually experience what is otherwise only teaching. My hope for A.D. 30 is that readers will experience Yeshua in a way that they never have or have long forgotten.

What additional information would help Christian retailers when talking with customers about A.D. 30?

This is a story about a woman, for women as well as for men. This is a story about our Master who has shown us the Way to live in the kingdom of heaven now among us and within us, not only that which is to come. It’s a sweeping epic with war and betrayal and romance that gently leads us away from our insecurities and fears and introduces us to the Way of Yeshua, which so many of us have forgotten.

 
close up Max Lucado PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 04:19 PM EDT

MaxLucado-2014Latest project: Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer (9780849948480, $19.99, Thomas Nelson).

Why do you call yourself a “recovering prayer wimp”?

I think we assume Christian leaders or communicators are by nature people of strong prayer, and I’m not. I’ve always battled to have a regular time of prayer. I’ve struggled wondering why my prayers would make a difference. Serving God and doing things for God made a lot of sense, but talking to God made less sense to me, and so I’ve battled it in my life. And as I found out, many people in our church do as well. All of my books are sermons before they become books, and when I began talking to the church about my own personal struggles with prayer and how I wondered if there was a right way to pray or a wrong way to pray, I realized a lot of people ask these questions. That’s really where this whole book came from.

What is the pocket prayer you refer to in the book?

One of my struggles as a recovering prayer wimp is my thoughts wander. I zig and I zag, and I think this and I think that. One thing that has helped me through the years is having a prayer outline. I realize not everybody needs a crutch to help them stay focused in prayer, but I do. I went through the prayers in the Bible and realized most of them fall in one of five areas I’ve created: God, you are good—that’s worship; God, I need help—that’s request; they need help—that’s intercession; thank you—that’s praise; in Jesus’ name, Amen. So I would simply categorize my thoughts according to those simple statements. That’s where the pocket prayer came from.

How do you describe prayer at its best?

BeforeAmenI think prayer at its core is an honest conversation with God. I do not think we can mis-pray any more than a child can mis-hug. I think at its core, prayer is children talking to their heavenly Father. But I do think we can grow in prayer. We can learn to talk to God in a fashion that we see him answering our prayers. We can use our prayers as an opportunity to reflect upon the qualities of God, the character of God. We can use prayer as an opportunity to unload our anxieties and our fear. And I think we can see prayer as an opportunity to do spiritual battle in which we are literally directing the traffic in the universe because God wants to engage us in prayer. So these are all things we can grow in in our prayer.

What would you say to someone who prays for health, but then wonders why healing is not coming?

I think we can safely say God hears every prayer for healing, and He does heal us, either instantly [or] He may choose to heal us gradually, but He chooses to heal all of us ultimately in heaven. I’ve seen Him heal instantly, and I’ve seen it in my own life. More commonly, I have seen Him heal gradually, over a period of time. We read of cases [of this] in the New Testament, like with the blind man in John 9. Jesus took His time healing Him. It wasn’t just one second to the next. There is the promise that God will heal us all ultimately in heaven. That’s no small promise. Our time on earth is a short time, and all of our struggles here on earth are intended to prepare us for heaven. Part of healing prayer is understanding God does hear that prayer and trusting Him to do what is right. Prayer is not asking God to do what I want. It’s really asking God to do what is right. It’s a surrender of my will to His. And that’s good for me.

What else should Christian retailers know about Before Amen?

I have several books on prayer, but as I read those, I thought, This is a book for somebody who already gets prayer. Most books on prayer are written for very meditative, pensive, monastic, spiritual people. I’m not one of those. I’m a roll-up-the-sleeves and get-busy kind of guy. Is there a book for me? My book is a partial response to that question.

 
Bookbeat October 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 04:18 PM EDT

GrowingInPrayer-Passio

 

From Mike Bickle, founder and director of International House of Prayer, comes a book on prayer that includes everything from a basic overview of prayer to the Bible’s two model prayers to the results of prayer in the world today. Releasing Oct. 7 from Passio, a division of Charisma House, Growing in Prayer: A Definitive Guide for Talking With God (softcover, $16.99) offers a practical strategy for incorporating prayer into everyday life.

DontLimitGod

In the new Harrison House book by Andrew Wommack, the author and Gospel Truth broadcaster urges believers to experience the abundant life God provides. Wommack helps readers of Don’t Limit God to recognize the areas in which they are limiting what God can do in and through their lives and move forward. Releasing Oct. 7, the softcover book retails for $14.99.

TheReason

The Reason: How I Discovered a Life Worth Living is once-atheist Lacey Sturm’s story of physical abuse, depression and suicidal struggles before her conversion to Christ. Baker Books (Baker Publishing Group) releases The Reason in softcover ($15.99) this month. Once the voice behind the Christian hard-rock band Flyleaf, Sturm is now a solo artist, a speaker for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and co-founder of the Whosoever Movement.

FromThisDayForward

A new book for married couples comes from New York Times best-selling author Craig Groeschel and his wife, Amy. Zondervan releases From This Day Forward: Five Commitments to Fail-Proof Your Marriage (softcover, $15.99) on Oct. 8. It draws from Scripture and the Groeschels’ ministry and 23-year marriage to outline five choices couples can make each day to not only save, but also enrich their marriages. Craig is founding pastor of LifeChurch.tv, a multicampus church and creator of the YouVersion Bible app.

TheLegacyJourney

In The Legacy Journey: A Radical View of Biblical Wealth and Generosity (hardcover, $22.99), Dave Ramsey examines a biblical view of wealth and generosity and explores how Christians can manage their money for the benefit of God’s kingdom. Published by Ramsey Press and distributed by Nelson Books, The Legacy Journey is available Oct. 21. Ramsey is a New York Times best-selling author and host of a nationally syndicated radio show. His books have sold more than 7 million copies.

BreakthroughFaith.jpeg

To empower believers to live a victorious life, Destiny Image releases Breakthrough Faith: Living a Life Where Anything Is Possible (softcover, $15.99) by Larry Sparks on Oct. 21. The author teaches how to activate breakthrough faith through overcoming obstacles, unlocking the true desires of one’s heart and more. An author, speaker and columnist, Sparks can be heard on his weekly radio program “Voice of Destiny.”

ALifelongLove

The companion to Sacred Marriage by best-selling author Gary Thomas releases Oct. 1. In A Lifelong Love: What If Marriage Is About More Than Just Staying Together?, Thomas focuses on three key aspects of a strong marriage and provides the tools couples need to make their marriages all God intended them to be. From David C Cook, this hardcover book retails for $18.99.

WhySuffering

With sensitivity, Ravi Zacharias, with Vince Vitale, explores the complex problem of pain and suffering in Why Suffering? Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense ($22, hardcover). Zacharias is the founder of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and best-selling author of many books, including Why Jesus?. Vitale teaches at Oxford University and is senior tutor at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. FaithWords will release Why Suffering? on Oct. 21.

 

 
Praying women have powerful impact PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 04:07 PM EDT

ScarletThreads-CharismaHousePerry Stone, best-selling author and director of Voice of Evangelism, has not found a single case in Scripture where a praying woman did not have her prayers answered. Stone says the Bible shows that while a godly woman cannot resist praying, God also cannot resist her prayers.

Releasing this month, Scarlet Threads: How Women of Faith Can Save Their Children, Hedge in Their Families, and Help Change the Nation (9781621369981, $16.99, Charisma House) focuses on the biblical story of Rahab.

Rahab received three instructions from Israel’s spies: to keep silent, place a scarlet thread on her window and remain inside the house. The thread was a sign to Joshua’s warriors that Rahab’s family should be protected, and, Stone says, a visible symbol of God’s covenant. He suggests that Rahab’s instructions can be used as an example for prayers of protection.

A woman’s prayers, he says, wrap a thread of faith around those in her household.

“If your house has been consecrated to God, through prayer there is a certain level of protection any person receives as a covering when he or she remains in your dwelling,” he writes.

Stone asserts that God can even grant a “hedge” for a woman’s family members who are not in her home, like the hedge he assigned around Job’s extended family. Further, Stone calls godly women “the immune system in the church and the nation.”

Learn more at charismahouseb2b.com

 
Shining the light of Christ in stormy seasons PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 04:04 PM EDT

Brooklyn Tabernacle pastor Jim Cymbala urges refocus on early church practices and spiritual renewal

StormWhen Hurricane Sandy swept through New York City one October evening in 2012, Jim Cymbala, pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle, saw the lights of Lower Manhattan go dark. When he saw the devastation Sandy left behind, he felt the storm was a relevant metaphor for the current state of the Christian church.

Based on several warning signs, Cymbala believes the church is in the early stages of a big storm.

“Our light in the world is flickering and we must face that reality,” he writes.

In Storm: Hearing Jesus for the Times We Live In (Zondervan), written with Jennifer Schuchmann, Cymbala discusses what he calls “calamitous” signs: the shrinking number of evangelicals, the lack of personal transformation and the decline in biblical literacy.

Believers are tempted to blame forces outside the church for these problems, Cymbala says, because our culture is increasingly antagonistic to biblical faith. Yet, the New Testament church thrived in worse conditions. Rather than blaming external targets, members of the early church concentrated on “the simple instructions Christ gave them and expected his grace to help them,” he writes.

While he acknowledges that some churches are fruitful, Cymbala adds, “on the whole we are not seeing anywhere near the fruit in our churches that we read about in the New Testament.” He draws readers back to these early church principles: devotion to prayer, focus on Christ and reliance on the Holy Spirit.

Hannah’s Old Testament prayers are the model Cymbala suggests for today. He describes them as desperate, but also filled with deep faith.

Cymbala also reminds readers that the New Testament church was a powerful witness only because of God’s Spirit.

“We can still experience the stirring power of his presence today,” he writes.
Cymbala shares inspiring stories of people he has encountered in his ministry whose lives demonstrate the power of God.

The author also beseeches the church to remain salt and light in the world.

“A Holy Spirit renewal with a return to the New Testament as our authoritative guide is the only hope,” he writes.

Learn more at zondervan.com.

 
FICTION FILE [ ASK THE AUTHOR ] Gina Holmes PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Monday, 11 August 2014 12:00 PM EDT

GinaHolmesLATEST PROJECT: Driftwood Tides (9781414366425, $14.99, September).
PUBLISHER: Tyndale House Publishers.

What is the premise of your new book, Driftwood Tides?

Libby Slater gets the shock of a lifetime when she receives the results from her premarital genetic testing and learns her blood type doesn’t match either of her parents. She confronts her mother and is given the name of her biological mother. Libby isn’t able to locate her, but is able to track down her husband, Holton Creary, who knows nothing of the child his wife gave up for adoption. Together the two try to find out the truth about Libby’s mother and the place they fit in each other’s lives and hearts.

What type of character is Libby Slater?

Libby is a seeker. She’s always known she didn’t quite fit in with her family, so besides it being a shock to learn she’s not who she thought she was, she learns no one in her life really is. In many ways she’s been dealt a tough hand in life, but she realizes she’s also been given many blessings—although it takes her the majority of the story to come to that conclusion.

What is Holton Creary like at the start of the story?

Holton is a temperamental artist through and through, but also a sheep posing in wolves’ clothing. He drinks to numb the pain and guilt of losing his wife and tries to be as standoffish as he can to keep others at bay so he doesn’t hurt anyone else or get hurt.

Why is forgiveness such an important theme for you?

I’ve had an interesting life and have needed to offer a lot of forgiveness to the people I love the most. Being just as human as they, I’ve needed to ask for quite a bit as well. I think Christianity at its core is about forgiveness. God gives so much grace, but in return, He asks us to extend it to others. There seems to me to be so much difficulty with not just the world, but the church also, being willing to forgive others. I have a hard time understanding how we can think we are any less wretched than those who’ve hurt us. Surely we’ve hurt others just as often. Surely we’ve hurt God’s heart.

Are there other themes in this novel?DriftwoodTides

The question of what makes someone a parent. I was raised for a vast part of my life by a parent of no biological relation. I struggled with who was really mom and dad and have come to the conclusion that biology, to me, is far less important than commitment and love.

What is one thing you want readers of this book to take away?

That no one is perfect. The person sitting in the pew on Sunday every week and doing their daily devotions each morning is no less a sinner than the alcoholic down the street who has fallen into a pit of despair. God longs for both of them, and no one is beyond the reach of Jesus.

Did your background in nursing help in writing this book?

It always does. Being a nurse has allowed me to see people in the most vulnerable situations without the mask we all put on to face the world. It’s given me an incredible opportunity for insight into what makes people really tick when they’re scared, mourning, witnessing the miracle of birth or the (worldly) finality of death. It’s been such a gift.

How would you describe your style as a writer?

I try my best to write the way I really think. Friends would describe me as down to earth, and I hope that shows in my writing. I don’t want to be fancy or throw out big words that readers have to stop every other page to look up. I want to speak in a way that most will understand. I’ve always assumed I’m pretty common, so if I struggle with something or have thoughts that may seem off the wall, I assume others do, too. Some of the stuff I write is a little quirky.

What else should Christian retailers know about Driftwood Tides?

I’ve, to date, written about some really tough subjects: death, abandonment, infidelity, abuse and alcoholism, and although I again take on alcoholism to some extent, this book, I’d say, is less issue-driven than my others and quite a bit lighter. The setting is my favorite part. Who doesn’t want to spend the time it takes to read a novel digging their toes into the soft sands of the Outer Banks and counting their blessings? That’s what I think the biggest takeaway from Driftwood Tides is. It was for me in writing it at least.

 
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