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Summer read 2006: Find your oasis

By the TPE staff and friends

Books on CD, books on cassette, e-books, hardcover, soft cover, large print, condensed, unabridged, print-on-demand — so many options are available to today’s reader. (But are you really “reading” when you’re listening to your favorite novel on the way to work?)

One thing hasn’t changed; books offer a personal and compelling avenue of communication, entertainment and relaxation. When built on a God-centered worldview, they can enrich lives. Whether you’re looking for a book to use in your personal devotions, give you a last jolt of suspense before bed, or safely recommend to your kids, there’s something here for you. Enjoy.

Devotional

The Journey: How to Live by Faith in an Uncertain World

By Billy Graham

As virtually every other product of Graham’s lifelong ministry has done, The Journey offers a clear and compelling picture of salvation. But this book is much more than an explanation of the gospel. Graham distills his decades of personal experience into a simply written yet wonderfully comprehensive treatment of the Christian life.

Four sections, of seven or eight chapters each, explore the dynamics of beginning the Christian journey, discovering strength for the walk of faith, dealing with life’s challenges and living out one’s Christian experience among family and community. With so much material to cover, Graham often breaks his presentations into lists. But the headings blend with the exposition well, and the teaching moves easily from point to point.

As always, Graham is careful not to offend in areas where evangelicals differ. Christians across the spectrum of orthodox faith will find encouragement and guidance in these pages.

— Scott Harrup

W. Publishing Group, 2006, 311 pages

 

God’s Guidance: A Slow and Certain Light

By Elisabeth Elliot

When you find yourself at a fork in life’s road, which direction do you go? Most Christians sincerely desire to choose the way God has for them, but discerning that way can be difficult. In God’s Guidance, A Slow and Certain Light one of today’s most prolific and trusted voices, Elisabeth Elliot, points readers to the Bible and the biblical way of decision-making.

Whether you’re facing a big decision today or you just want to be ready when the next big question confronts you, this book is a valuable read. Elliot invites you to draw closer to God so you can walk in His light confidently, one step at a time.

Elliot, now in her 80s, is the author of Through Gates of Splendor — the story of her husband, Jim, and four other missionaries who were martyred by the Waodani Indians in Ecuador half a century ago. Elliot’s history gives her credibility on this topic. The renewed interest in her story after this year’s film End of the Spear should give her an audience with a new generation of Christians.

— Ashli O’Connell

Revell Books (with study guide), 1997, 192 pages


Author talk: Truth through fiction

Brock and Bodie Thoene, husband and wife, are the joint authors of more than 45 works of historical fiction that have sold more than 10 million copies and won eight ECPA Gold Medallion Awards. They recently spoke with Connie Cross.

How does your writing partnership work?

Brock: I do the background, historical part of the writing and Bodie develops the story.

Your books are set in a variety of settings and times. What about these specific places and times inspires you?

Brock: The settings provided no particular motivation, but they do all tie together. In each setting we are writing about people who face difficulties, and whether they know Jesus or not is the determining factor in how they respond.

Bodie: A reoccurring theme in all of our books is that one person can make a difference. The incredible power of the Lord in the life of one person can make not only a difference in the world but an enormous difference for eternity.

Fifth Seal (Tyndale House Publishers) will be out at the end of summer. Tell us about it.

Bodie: It’s part of The AD Chronicles, which emphasize the divinity of Jesus Christ and offer a definitive answer to The Da Vinci Code and other current revivals of ancient heresies. Everything Brock and I have done with the AD Chronicles has been to combat this lineup of ancient heresies. Our goal has always been to reach the unchurched using fiction.

Brock: This is the fifth in what will be at least a 12-book series dealing with the life of Jesus. This series is unique in that the backs of all the AD Chronicles books offer footnotes directing people to the scriptural passages that were the basis for each scene.


Drama

The Great Awakenings series: Fire, Storm and Proof
(Fury soon to follow)

By Bill Bright and Jack Cavanaugh

Bill Bright, late founder and chairman of Campus Crusade for Christ International, was an avid proponent of revival. He conceived and outlined this series with writer Jack Cavanaugh. The books are historical fiction, inspired by actual revival events from United States history.

The Great Awakenings series offers interesting fictional plots energized with high points from that revival history. Historical letters and accounts of real-life persons such as George Whitefield, Benjamin Franklin and Jonathan Edwards are woven into the fabric of the narratives. Edwards’ journals provide the backdrop for Fire.

Bright, the author of more than 100 books and booklets, told Cavanaugh, “Jack, if I knew what fiction could do to communicate God’s Word I would have started writing fiction early in my ministry.”

The historic Great Awakenings were important periods of national spiritual revival and controversy. They are little known to many Americans, even Christians, today. This series will provide an enjoyable introduction for such readers, as well as reinforcement for those with some knowledge of the revivals.

— Peggy Horn

Howard Publishing Co., Inc., 2005, 2006

 

The Witness

By Dee Henderson

Amanda Griffin is the only eyewitness to a murder plot that claimed her boyfriend’s life and should have taken hers too.

When Griffin returns to her hometown after learning that her siblings inherited millions of dollars, her only intention is to protect them from her pursuers. But as soon as she begins to help her family, business associates start showing up dead.

Henderson thrusts Griffin into one dangerous situation after the next. As Griffin battles her past, she must confront her present, embrace her future and learn to trust a most unlikely ally, police chief Luke Granger. Even more importantly, Griffin must learn to accept God’s grace, love and will for her life.

Henderson is a master storyteller known for weaving suspense, romance and inspirational themes throughout her books, which are as intense as they are uplifting. In The Witness she continues this rich tradition.

— Janna Noonan

Tyndale House Publishers, 2006, 378 pages


Author talk: A healer’s heart

Diane M. Komp, a retired physician who served as the head of the pediatric cancer program at Yale Medical School, wrote The Healer’s Heart (WaterBrook Press). Intrigued by Luke, the Bible’s “beloved physician,” Komp set out to explore how a modern-day Luke might live out his life. Komp recently spoke with Kirk Noonan, associate editor.

Much of your book takes place in Sierra Leone.

I’ve been writing and going on short-term missions trips as a bush doctor to Sierra Leone. Village life in Sierra Leone is very similar to life described in the Gospels. Going there is like seeing the Gospels come alive.

Why does Luke intrigue you?

As a physician, I’ve often wondered if Luke were alive today what medicine would he practice? Who would be his friends? Where would he live and travel?

You came back to your faith as an adult. Describe your faith journey.

I had a very strong Christian upbringing and I studied to be a medical missionary, but I lost my faith as I worked with suffering children. Ironically, it was dying children who brought me back to my faith.

How did that happen?

In my first book, A Window to Heaven, I share the testimonies of dying children. Their witness of God’s faithfulness to them in their time of need was an incredible witness to me.

What do you hope people take away from your books?

I hope readers become engaged with the characters and glean insight. But more importantly, I hope people are encouraged by the stories of the Holy Spirit at work over time and in the characters’ lives.


Suspense

Plague Maker

By Tim Downs

While investigating a homicide in New York City, FBI counterterrorism agent Nathan Donovan stumbles onto a plot that threatens the lives of millions. As he follows leads, Donovan receives a phone call from Li, a mysterious elderly Londoner who promises he can help Donovan track down the murderer and foil a plot to attack America.

Reluctantly, Donovan agrees to meet with Li and soon learns the eccentric 80-year-old man knows much that could help solve the case. But first, Donovan must trust a man who is only willing to divulge information as he sees fit.

As the pair chase down the terrorist, Donovan enlists the help of his ex-wife, Macy Monroe, an expert in the psychology of terrorism.

Though Donovan and Li’s relationship gets off to a rocky start, it proves to be the catalyst that can bring closure to Donovan’s loss of his son and teach him how to forgive and love others as Christ would.

Plague Maker will appeal to readers with a penchant for forensic science, in-depth characters, technical detail and suspense.

— Kirk Noonan

WestBow Press, 2006, 368 pages

 

The Lazarus Trap

By Davis Bunn

Val Haines, a banking executive, colludes with embezzlers and becomes the fall guy for their operation. He wakes up in a jail cell remembering nothing, not even his name.

As Haines pieces together his nightmares and memories of embezzlement and an explosion, he discovers the world thinks he is dead. He now has the chance to create a new and better life, but he discovers that someone knows he’s still alive and is pursuing him.

Haines has nowhere turn but to someone from his past — Audrey d’Arcy, a woman who loved him but whom he sent away. Now he is uncertain if he can trust her. Having few personal belongings and a lot of cash, Haines goes on the run from his assailant and from his past in his attempt to escape death a second time.

— Connie Cross

WestBow Press, 2005; 295 pages


Author talk: Theology is for kids too

Apologist Lee Strobel has adapted three books for children that he previously wrote for adults — and added a fourth title. With Rob Suggs, Strobel’s revised titles are The Case for Christ for Kids, The Case for Faith for Kids and The Case for a Creator for Kids (All Zonderkidz). With Robert Elmer, Strobel’s new book is Off My Case for Kids, which provides a dozen real-life scenarios to help children ages 9 to 12 defend their faith when challenged. Strobel recently spoke with News Editor John W. Kennedy.

Why is it important for kids to have well-defined reasons for their beliefs?

If we as parents don’t try to satisfy the souls of our children and help answer their questions of faith, those questions can fester and ultimately become doubts that damage their faith. As a young person I took a step toward atheism at age 11. No adult or peer would answer my questions of “If God loves us why would He send anyone to hell?” and “How can there be a God who loves us when I see bad things happening in the world?”

What cemented your atheistic beliefs?

When I studied biology as a freshman in high school I became convinced that Darwinism explained the origins and diversity of life. Later, I took a course on Jesus taught by a skeptic who convinced me I couldn’t trust the New Testament. By 16 I considered myself an atheist.

Is expressing views on creationism the biggest challenge many kids will face in school?

In many textbooks in which evolution is taught the idea of God is excluded. That proved to be a turning point for me when I was taught that the earth came about as an undirected, random process without the possibility of a Creator.

What do you hope your new books accomplish?

I want children to feel confident at an early age that there are good reasons to believe what they believe. I want to help them understand why Christianity makes sense.


Children/Teen

The Incredible Worlds of Wally McDoogle

By Bill Myers

Wally McDoogle is not your average 12-year-old. The bespectacled, slightly misfit, aspiring writer seems to be a magnet for trouble. From his stint as a rodeo clown to his ill-fated role in a hot air balloon race, Wally blunders his way into all kinds of wacky situations in this series created by Bill Myers.

The Incredible Worlds of Wally McDoogle is a romping set of stories that serves up one hilarious misadventure after another. Kids will love the gross-out titles, such as My Life as Invisible Intestines with Intense Indigestion and My Life as a Bigfoot Breath Mint. Parents will appreciate the fact that Myers, who also co-authors the popular McGee and Me series for kids, packs more than just entertainment in these 27 volumes. Each of the books teaches an important life lesson learned through the eyes of Wally and his friends.

— Christina Quick

Tommy Nelson, 1993-2006, 128 pages each

 

The Veritas Project

By Frank E. Peretti

While Frank Peretti is best known for adult Christian titles such as This Present Darkness and The Visitation, his earliest work was for children. His Cooper Kids books continue to entertain young readers.

His new series, The Veritas Project, is intended for a junior high and high school audience. Publishers Weekly described Hangman’s Curse, the first book in the series, as “a quick-paced thriller about the evils brought by bullying and intolerance,” and ranked follow-up Nightmare Academy at number 74 in its list of top children’s books for 2002. The 20th Century Fox DVD release of Hangman’s Curse received positive reviews.

The books may bring to mind episodes of The X Files for some readers. Instead of FBI agents chasing down clues to explain paranormal activity, the Springfield family (dad Nate, mom Sarah and teen twins Elisha and Elijah) has a mandate from the president to investigate unsolved mysteries. Strange apparitions at a Washington state high school quickly accelerate the plot of Hangman’s Curse. Mind-altering experiments on runaway teens are at the heart of Nightmare Academy. Both books invite readers to examine eternal truth.

— Scott Harrup

Tommy Nelson, 2001, 304 pages; 2002, 311 pages; 20th Century Fox, 2004


Practical living

Live Your Life for Half the Price

By Mary Hunt

In a 13-year period, Mary Hunt paid back $100,000 in unsecured debts she had accumulated, mostly on credit cards. For the past 14 years, Hunt has been counseling others about how to get out of debt and live within their means through her monthly newsletter, “Debt-Proof Living,” as well as 14 books, including last fall’s Live Your Life for Half the Price.

Hunt stresses the importance of capping spending at 80 percent of one’s paycheck — while giving away 10 percent and saving the other 10 percent.

Hunt’s book goes beyond the normal counsel dispensed by financial advice authors on budgeting, mortgages and cars. She gets to the nitty-gritty of curbing costs that can eat away income on everything from packages shipped by mail to credit card fees.

In great detail, Hunt talks about how to shop for groceries wisely; how to spend less when eating out; how to buy insurance of all types (vehicle, life, property and health); the right way to plan a wardrobe; the differences in telephone plans; how to obtain the best airfares; even how to roast your own coffee beans and make your own detergent.

Consumers who take even a handful of Hunt’s suggestions to heart could save hundreds of dollars a year.

— John W. Kennedy

DPL Press, 2005, 304 pages

 

Sexy Girls: How Hot Is Too Hot?

By Hayley DiMarco

Hayley DiMarco’s new book offers timely advice on a topic many parents have either avoided or botched: lovingly telling their daughters how and why to be modest.

The book is written in a nonthreatening but authoritative way to a teenage girl audience. DiMarco, a 40-year-old author of half a dozen similar books, is able to connect with postmodern young people in a way a lecturing parent or pastor might not.

She explains from a biblical perspective why low-cut tops and low-ride jeans are inappropriate. She also delves into the male psyche and tells girls why it’s unwise to show ample bare skin in today’s sexually charged culture.

Throughout the book DiMarco subtly weaves Scripture that illustrates why being discreet is best. Although DiMarco explains how to tone down sex appeal, she doesn’t turn girls into fashion outcasts. Girls can still be stylish and cute without looking like a nun or an Amish grandmother, she says.

Readers have the opportunity at the end of the book to sign a commitment page addressed to God pledging to holiness and modesty in their attire.

— John W. Kennedy

Revell, 2006, 155 pages


Author talk: Closer to Christ

Bill Myers’ books and videos have sold more than 7 million copies — a fact that still surprises a man who never wanted to be a writer. Myers read little as a child and got C’s and D’s in the only writing class he took in college. He eventually studied film making and fell into writing when he tried to get a job as a director in Hollywood and someone asked him to write a television show instead. His latest novel, The Presence (Zondervan), offers a compelling look at life after death. Myers spoke with Scott Harrup, associate editor.

You use some unusual research to draw readers to spiritual truth.

The Presence is the second book in a trilogy. Research has shown that it takes the brain 12 minutes to die. In the first book, Soul Tracker, scientists are able to create a virtual reality of the first 12 minutes of death. The Presence focuses on the power of God in the midst of all that.

How have readers responded to the first two books?

They’re enthusiastic. I enjoy it when someone tells me they can’t put one of my books down, but the response that really touches me is when someone says, “I’ve known those truths all my life, but now I finally get it.”

You’re involved in several media projects.

It would be foolhardy not to put the media to use for the kingdom of God. Many of my books are movie ideas I pitched and Hollywood wouldn’t bite because of the religious nature. Now the same people are calling with renewed interest.

Is there a primary goal in your writing?

I want to make the entertainment so strong that readers keep turning the pages, but at the same time invite the reader closer to the heart of Christ.

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