Are You a Little Weltschmerz?

Even for the most optimistic among us, the events of the past few weeks have been difficult: Social unrest, ideological clashes, political turmoil, nuclear threats, and to top it off, one of the most devastating storms in American history. Any one of these is capable of producing a knot of anxiety. But all of them at once is enough to make you more than a little weltschmerz.

Wait, what? What is weltschmerz? Not exactly a household word, weltschmerz is in fact a useful and appropriate way to describe the state many people are in right now. Coined by the German Romantic writer Jean Paul at the turn of the 19th century, it literally means “world pain” or “world weariness.” The word has been used from time to time to describe the anxiety many feel because of all the troubles in the world.

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Top Ten Tips for Beginner Writers

by Rachel Summers 

Whether you are writing a novel or other forms of creative writing, when it is your first time it can be a bit overwhelming knowing where to start. This guide is here to provide you with ten of our top tips when it comes to writing when you are a beginner.

For those who are completely brand new to writing and have no idea, then alongside this guide the site Helping Writers Become Authors has many tools and resources available for you to use to help you structure, plan out and write the best you can.

We hope that you find this guide useful and that it helps you in your writing journey.

Be Passionate

Make sure that whatever it is that you are writing, you love doing it.

Answering the Toughest Questions About God and the Bible

I'm excited to tell you about the newest book from Bruce & Stan, Answering the Toughest Questions About God and the Bible. We don't pretend to have all the answers (never have, never will), but we do know how to wrestle with doubt. In this new book, we ask some of the most important questions people have about God and the Bible. Here's an excerpt to give you an idea of our approach.

The world is full of questions. Whether the topic is politics, race, relationships, the environment, or religion (especially religion), there seem to be more questions than answers. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s quite good. In past generations, asking questions was considered rude or disrespectful, especially when it came to God and the Bible. “God said it, I believe it, that settles it for me” was the response Christians were supposed to have. Anything more and you were labeled a Doubting Thomas. People were reluctant to ask questions about God out of concern they would be considered un-American (we’re not kidding).

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No God But One

Nabeel Qureshi’s 2014 memoir, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, described his heart journey from Islam to Christianity and became a New York Times bestseller.

Now he recounts his intellectual and theological journey in the follow-up book entitled, No God but One: Allah or Jesus? (Zondervan).

Qureshi details how an analysis of the history and theology of Christianity and Islam reveals stark differences between the world’s two largest religions.

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The Power of Books

Two events occurred this past week that bring to mind the power of books. On July 25, Tim LaHaye died, and six days later, at precisely 12:01 am on July 31, the eighth Harry Potter book was released.

LaHaye, of course, was the creator and co-author of Left Behind, a series of 16 books published between 1995 and 2007 that became the bestselling series of Christian fiction books in history, with 80 million copies sold to date.

The first Harry Potter book was published the year the last Left Behind novel was released. In the nine years since, more than 450 million Harry Potter books have been sold worldwide, making J.K. Rowling’s iconic books the bestselling general fiction series of all time.

For its part, Left Behind had an enormous impact on Christian publishing and bookselling, showing that fiction books with biblical themes could find a wide audience, while bringing new customers to Christian bookstores at a time when the retail landscape was changing. Harry Potter encouraged a new generation of readers and spawned countless films, ancillary products, even a theme park.

That’s pretty powerful stuff, and it all started with two series of books.
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Glory Days: Q&A with Max Lucado

“Glory Days” is Max Lucado’s newest work and follows Israel’s move from the wilderness into the Promised Land. Using the book of Joshua, Lucado shows the successful leadership of Joshua and how we can apply the Israelite’s wilderness journey to help us enter our own Promised Land and the glory days God has for us now.

Q: First off, tell us what you mean by "glory days."

It’s a reference to the Glory Days of Israel. On the time line of your Bible, it’s a seven year era that glistens between the difficult days of Exodus and the dark age of the judges. Moses had just died, and the Hebrews were beginning their fifth decade as Bedouin in the badlands. And sometime around 1400 BC, God spoke, Joshua listened, and the Glory Days began. The Jordan River opened up. The Jericho walls fell down. The sun stood still, and the kings of Canaan were forced into early retirement. Evil was booted and hope rebooted. By the end of the campaign, the homeless wanderers became hope-filled homesteaders. A nation of shepherds began to quarry a future out of the Canaanite hills. They built farms, villages, and vineyards. The accomplishments were massive. 

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The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard

I’ve always been a pen and paper kind of writer. I buy yellow pads by the box and black gel pens 24 at a time at Costco. Whether I’m working on a book or a blog, my ideas and first drafts go from pen to pad. I don’t use a keyboard until I’m on my way to a final draft.

I use to think I was an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy using old school tools, while cooler and hipper writers used keyboards and touch pads to create books and such from start to finish.  Then I ran across some research that suggests ideas flow better and your ability to retain content improves when you write the old fashioned way.

That’s not to say someone with terrible ideas can come up with great ones when they write with a pen and paper. But if you have great ideas to begin and want to express them in the best way possible, you’ll struggle more if you use a keyboard exclusively.

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Lee Strobel on Grace (Part 2)

The Case for Grace Is bestselling author Lee Strobel's most personal and, arguably, his most powerful book to date. In it he shares his personal transformation alongside seven real-life tales of men and women whose lives have been transformed by God's grace.

In a telephone interview with the editors of ConversantLife.com, Lee shared how the stories he chose for the book reflect his own lifelong quest for grace.

Did your own experiences with God’s grace help you choose the kind of people you wanted to interview, so you could show the different shades of grace?

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How to Write a Christian Bestseller

Attention all writers and aspiring writers of Christian books. You now have a sure-fire template for crafting a bestseller. The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association just announced the top selling Christian books of 2014, so all you have to do is write a book that follows the success pattern of the 25 titles on this list.

First some general observations about the authors on the list;

  • 5 of the books are Jesus Calling. Actually, there’s only one original Jesus Calling by Sarah Young on the list (it happens to be number one), but there are four other books spun off from the original (publishers call these derivatives).
  • 5 of the books are about going to heaven and coming back, or about how soon the rest of us are going to heaven based on “prophetic” events.
  • 4 of the books are by those Duck Dynasty people (I guess you could call it a Duck Dynasty dynasty).
  • 9 of the books were written by authors who have already written bestsellers.
  • 1 of the books is by the president of the publishing arm of the world’s largest church denomination.
  • 1 of the books is by an author nobody heard of before he wrote this book.
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God Is Amazing

Everything changes when you see God for how He really is.

A little more than 15 years ago, as the 1990s were coming to a close, Bruce Bickel and I wrote a book called God Is in the Small Stuff. We must have hit a nerve, because the book has sold more than a million copies.

Fifteen years ago the world was a much different place. The Christian life was easy. You could relax and rest in the knowledge that God was interested in every detail of your life. No matter what you were going through personally, you could count on God’s involvement.

How times have changed. Over the last 15 years there has been a generational shift, a culture shift, a technology shift, a global political shift, and a faith shift that no one could have anticipated. Today’s world is massively different than it was in the closing years of the twentieth century. For one thing, there’s more hostility towards God now than there was then. In the view of many people—including many Christians—God is no longer great and powerful. Instead, He is ineffective and rather weak.

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