Faithlife is bringing a brand-new documentary to theaters for a special one-night event on April 24. And when you share a picture of your ticket, we’ll send you a $20 coupon to spend on Logos.com!
Born without arms, Daniel Ritchie faces a unique kind of adversity. But that doesn’t keep him from living a full life.
After Ritchie surrendered his life to Christ he learned that true worth and purpose are only found in God. Freed from comparisons and restrictions, Ritchie has lived a life that previously seemed impossible, becoming a pastor, father, and speaker.
“There was a man who had two sons . . .”
“There once was a king who . . .”
“In a certain town there was a judge . . .”
When Jesus wanted to reveal what the kingdom of God was like, he often told stories—stories about widows and tax collectors, farmers and kings, robbers and strangers, fathers and sons.
A master storyteller, Jesus harnessed the gift of imagination to invite his listeners to consider, for example, how a patient and extravagantly forgiving father reflects the heart of God. Or how a generous, unconventional employer reveals the Lord’s grace. He also invited his listeners to find themselves within the stories. He challenged them to consider how they were like a wayward son or a resentful older brother, or how the quality of soil (shallow, rocky, thorny, or fruitful) could be a picture of their receptivity—or resistance—to the Word of God.
Jesus invites us into the same process of reflection, to prayerfully enter his stories and, through the power of the Spirit, learn about both God and ourselves.
Just like people’s response to Jesus’ stories in the Bible, something happens the moment a preacher or teacher says, “Once upon a time . . .” or “Let me tell you a story.” If our minds happen to wander during a sermon or lecture, we tend to tune in and listen with renewed interest the moment a narrative begins.
Stories are invitational. They encourage our participation. Stories are also stealthy. They can stir, confront, comfort, inspire, and penetrate our hearts when we’re least expecting it.
We tend to let our defenses down when we hear or read stories. We open ourselves to being drawn into characters’ lives, to inhabit their worlds, to journey with them. Good characters can become mirrors for seeing ourselves more clearly. Good stories can enlarge our worldview, help us understand a stranger, deepen our compassion, and remind us we’re not alone. Good stories can pursue us long after we’ve heard—or read—the last word.
This was my desire when I began writing the Sensible Shoes series. Through the characters’ journeys with God, I wanted readers to see themselves mirrored in the longings, fears, struggles, and hopes of these four imperfect women who are seeking to draw closer to God and to one another. I hoped the stories would facilitate a reader’s encounter with God, that someone might glimpse God’s love, presence, and grace in unexpected and life-transforming ways.
I could have written a nonfiction book about how to practice ways of prayer and other spiritual disciplines—which is what the characters are invited to do—but I wanted to provide an opportunity for readers to connect with God through narrative and imagination. As a writer, I wanted to take my own journey of “What if?” and “There once was a woman who . . .” and see what emerged. The process of discovery is part of the joy of both writing and reading fiction.
What might you discover about yourself and God while reading novels or short stories? A simple exercise to practice as you read is to pay attention to the things that stir you, both positively and negatively. Contemplate the ways you’re challenged, comforted, provoked, agitated, or inspired by the story.
Then, prayerfully consider the reasons behind your responses to characters or plotlines. What might the Spirit be revealing, inviting, or healing? And then, welcome others into conversation about what you notice. That’s the gift of story, too—that we can read the same words on the page and be impacted in such unique ways.
“A reader went off to read and . . .”
May the Lord inspire you and reveal his heart to you in the journey.
This is a guest post by Sharon Garlough Brown, the author of the Sensible Shoes series, which began with the bestselling book Sensible Shoes. For a limited time, get the four-book series plus a study guide for just $30.95, 60% off the regular price. Buy it here.
Also, if you are a fan of faith-inspired fiction, make sure to join the Faithlife fiction readers group where we post regular fiction deals, author interviews, and more.
At Faithlife we use technology to equip the Church to grow in the light of the Bible. For more than 25 years that mission has guided everything we do. This year, to better equip the Church, we are focusing on several key areas:
With this in mind, we’ll be sharing the progress that gets us excited around the office more frequently, with more intention, and with more opportunity for feedback.
Below you’ll find some highlights of how Faithlife is helping equip the Church. We are excited about partnering with you, and would love to hear how you are using our tools in your ministry—along with what we can do to better serve you.
Follow the group at Faithlife.com and share with us today.
– Bob Pritchett [Read more…]
The Bible repeatedly attests to its own inspiration, authority, and reliability. But in recent decades, skeptical scholars have challenged the assumption that the Bible we read today is the same as it was written thousands of years ago.
The Gospels in particular have come under fire: What if these foundational documents were doctored to push a theological agenda?
In a new feature-length documentary from Faithlife Films, Dr. Craig Evans takes this claim head on, traveling the globe to track down the most ancient New Testament manuscripts.
We’ve partnered with Fathom Events to bring Fragments of Truth to the big screen for one night only on April 24. I sat down with the film’s director, Reuben Evans, to discuss the new movie and how it demonstrates that the evidence for the Bible’s reliability is stronger than ever.
Some scholars claim that Christians tampered with New Testament documents to push a theological agenda. What kind of changes do they say were made? [Read more…]
Is all the extravagance surrounding Easter a distraction, or are Christians right to give it the special attention they do?
Let’s avoid the culture wars of the Easter Bunny, Cadbury eggs, and egg hunts, and simply speak to what happens in most churches on the morning of Easter Sunday: we go all out.
The music is typically a notch or two more elaborate than normal. The sermon is noticeably more refined and passionate. And everyone seems to dress in their very best Sunday best.
Many churches even decorate specifically for Easter Sunday. The church I attended in college used decorations to heighten the contrast between Good Friday and Easter. In the Good Friday service, red roses with thorns lined the aisles to communicate suffering. On Sunday, white lilies replaced the roses to communicate resurrection. It was a beautiful, artistic way to remind us that in the Christian faith, life comes through death.
Churches seem to love pulling out all the stops for Easter, but is all the pomp justified, biblically?
The apostle Paul says of the resurrection, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Cor. 15:14 NIV). Without the resurrection, there is no Christian faith.
A few verses later, Paul declares how all of history pivots on the resurrection:
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. (1 Cor. 15:20–24 NIV)
It is only because of the resurrection that anyone can move from corruption to restoration—only by Jesus’ work is Adam’s undone and a new creation secured.
Easter is the day we set aside to celebrate this truth. It is a day we dedicate solely to the central tenet of our faith: Christ is risen. (He is risen, indeed!)
As such, a certain amount of pomp is more than justified—it is encouraged.
Let the bright pastels, the pressed suits, the church choir, the full band, the near-perfect sermon, and the however-else-you-mark-it-special commence.
In the church I most recently called home, we recited the Apostles’ Creed weekly. But on Resurrection Sunday, we added a twist:
On the third day, he rose again
On the third day
—the third day—
On the third day, he rose again
If you have a hand in putting together Easter Sunday at your church, have it at. Add your twist. You still have a couple days to prepare elements that draw unique attention to the reason for our faith.
One easy way to do this is with free, beautiful Easter media (such as the image featured in this blog). Get a free bundle of 600+ pieces of Good Friday- and Easter-themed church graphics. Start a no-risk, 30-day free trial of Faithlife Proclaim to get your bundle (no credit card required). Get the bundle free now.
This post originally appeared on the Faithlife Proclaim blog.
Easter Sunday is one of most important outreach days of the year.
Free yourself to focus on the message and visitors by having one less thing to worry about: media.
Get a free Easter media bundle with 600+ motions and stills. Each design is:
Not only will you get free media (examples below), but you’ll get world-class presentation software made just for churches: Faithlife Proclaim.
With automatic formatting, instant lyric uploading, sermon recording, and more, Proclaim is more powerful than PowerPoint, and it’s tailored specifically for church services.
Claim your Easter media bundle with a free one-month trial of Proclaim, and enjoy beautiful presentations that are easy to build and easier to run.
Get the free bundle (no credit card required).
This post originally appeared on the Faithlife Proclaim blog.
When former Seattle Mariners catcher David Valle and his wife, Vicky, first visited the Dominican Republic for winter training back in 1985, he didn’t anticipate the radical turn his life would take. At the time, he was still an underpaid minor-leaguer in the Mariner’s farm system.
As Dave explains in the new documentary Esperanza, a crowd of kids had formed around the American baseball players after practice one evening. Dave assumed they were just like the fans he’d met in the States, clamoring to meet the stars. Where was his autograph pen?
Do you feel as if your life is more ordinary than exemplary? Are your days, weeks, and years filled with the routine responsibilities of life like doing laundry, grocery shopping, or planning meals? Have you ever wondered if your life is making a difference for God?
Well, I want to encourage you! As I researched the lives of eight Christian women for my book, When Others Shuddered, I was struck by the way God used them in extraordinary ways despite their circumstances. While these women lived at the turn of the century, they weren’t so different than you or me. They were women of prayer. They persisted despite the troubles they faced. They believed God had a purpose for their life. I hope their examples will encourage you today.